I Wish I Had a Lot of Money

MY TO-DO LIST for 2010 is daunting.

In the past couple of months, I’ve come to a bit of a standstill on home improvements. Most of my list still lies before me. I wanted to do things fast when I first moved into this East Hampton cottage last May. On the other hand, it’s a good thing I waited on some of the projects, because I’ve changed my mind a lot.

Several months ago, I was thinking ‘stone patio.’ Now I’m thinking ‘wood deck.’

I was thinking ‘flagstone walk.’ Now I’m thinking….well, something else. I bought three 2’x3′ pieces of Pennsylvania bluestone and set them down to get an idea of how they’d look as a walk from the future parking court (still a priority) to the front door. Didn’t seem to work. Stone doesn’t have much place in this environment. There’s nary a piece of rock on the property, unlike upstate, where you’ve got massive granite outcroppings everywhere. This is sandy territory (well-drained, yeah!) Two feet of snow pelted by steady rain this past weekend got sucked right up into the ground, with very little puddling.

The wood fence for screening that seemed a must-do in high season, when there was a fair amount of road traffic, has faded in urgency (probably to return in May). I’d still like more enclosure, but I’ll try doing that with shrubs.

I’m glad I didn’t spend $4,000 on a deer fence, which seemed top priority a few months back. I haven’t seen any deer lately

Moments after I wrote the above words, I looked out the living room window and saw three large animals in the front yard. They were casing, if not yet munching, my newly planted arborvitae and holly. I rapped on the window. The rattling of the screens startled them for a nanosecond. I shrieked “Go! Go! Go!” One of them, a still-fuzzy adolescent, made eye contact with me. “Ohhhh, you’re beautiful,” I said.

Then I went and mixed up a couple of gallons of homemade deer repellent (cooking oil, dish detergent, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder) and went out and splashed the vulnerable specimens.

Instead of a deer fence, I’m embracing the challenge of deer-resistant gardening. So I won’t have roses. Or hostas. Or many other things.

Other items I thought were absolute musts turn out to be not so. Like the Malm fireplace I bought months ago that’s sitting uninstalled in my living room, through no fault of my own. First the roofer was going to do it; then he realized it was outside his “area of expertise.” Sag Harbor Fireplace came to do an estimate. I’m still waiting for the estimate. It’s their busy season.

Anyway, my little cottage is toasty. I know from experience that when you have a well-heated house, you don’t use the fireplace much. There’s one in the bedroom of the duplex in Boerum Hill. In the years we lived there, after spending thousands to line the chimney properly, we used it about twice.

Ultimately, it boils down to evil money, or lack thereof. My preference would still be to barrel through everything as quickly as possible. Of necessity, I have to do things in dribs and drabs. Which may not be so bad, if I’m going to keep changing my mind about them.