Do you ever feel like the universe (or at least a thing or two in it) is working against you as you try to accomplish your goals? Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about real problems like hunger or serious illness, I'm talking about the speed bumps that everyone seems to experience from time to time. In our house this sure seems to be how we're feeling lately, whether it be ridiculously long hours at work that bleeds significantly into our Saturday and Sundays, general lack of time to fit everything in, insufficient wood supplies at the local home improvement store, or any of the common pitfalls that measuring twice and cutting once are supposed to avoid but is sometimes unable to completely eliminate.

This last weekend in particular I felt like there was nothing we could do right. As I gazed up at the flexible dryer vent duct taped to our house, I shook my head in disgust. The once "temporary" solution to our stolen copper downspouts has now braved nearly a full winter, a hurricane, and the less than impressive Snowquester storm of last week.

Now torn and looking more pathetic than ever, I'm embarrassed that we're "that house" in the neighborhood (You know, the one with a dryer vent instead of a downspout. You don't have one of those in your neighborhood? Weird). We really need to tackle this project so our house can go back to having more permanent gutters. It's not like it's particularly hard, but we just need the time to do it.

Another little blip on our DIY radar occurred this weekend when the water company came out to do a little unannounced work. It seems they made a mid-Saturday morning unscheduled replacement of our water meter out front, which resulted in what can be described as "sludge vomit" shooting from our pipes. Without any warning or announcement, the water supply was cut to our home and restored a few minutes later, all while we were getting ready for the day and doing laundry in the basement. Picture the water pressure after you've turned back on the water to your home after it's been off for a bit. The hiccuping, spurting mess was capped off by a shot of black, sludgy water. Awesome. Needless to say, we ran that load of laundry through the wash again.

If that wasn't bad enough, the gentlemen that performed the repair traipsed and trampled through our front garden, carelessly tossing mulch aside to expose the water meter cover.

What was a stale, bleak, winterized version of our flower bed, now was a hot mess.

One of our plants suffered what is sure to be a fatal blow. We picked our fallen soldier out of the gutter and bid him a fond farewell, thanking him for his months of service and apologizing for his rather unceremonious exit.

I figured the space couldn't look any worse, and knew we had a lot of work to do before this garden is spring ready. So I seized the opportunity to trim out some of the dead portions of the remaining plants and clean things up just a bit.

I lopped off the tops of the three tall grasses that had begun to look like they belonged in a vast prairie instead of our modest urban sidewalk garden.

Alex decided this was a good time to get creative and wire tie the base of these grasses in a few bunches so we could bring them inside as a dried arrangement. We just snipped a small piece of wire and pinched the whole thing together.

It was a novel idea, but one that was better in his mind than in reality. It made a mess shedding all over the place, didn't look great, and was probably covered in a certain amount of dog pee that we can't just opt to ignore. Oh well, good effort.

After the trimming, I swept up the front to clean up the errant stones, cigarette butts, and loose mulch, and was left with something not quite presentable, but at least more of a clean slate for our spring planting.

It sure feels like ages ago that this same space looked like this.

<sigh> I guess some days just feel like you're moving in reverse. Despite our best attempts, it feels at times as though nature, meter men, and neighborhood thieves are in cahoots to thwart our efforts of beautification and progress. I want to create and give you all Pinterest worthy displays of creativity and awesomely executed projects, but all we can seem to muster is the addition of items to our already lengthy project list, without the ability to check any off along the way. Frustrating to say the least. I need to dig deep, find a little renovation mojo, and show them that even a one-two punch can't keep us down.

Have you been battling the DIY doldrums lately? What is holding you back or keeping you renovation work down? And how have you been coping with your major or minor speed bumps? Perhaps this can be a therapeutic blog post where we can all commiserate and realize "hey, it's not so bad!" Well, either that or "hey, it's worse than you think, just wait."

Comments 12


3/12/2013 at 11:59 AM
Ugh yes. I feel ya. Our has been in the form of trying to remove old paneling glue. We ripped off the awful old paneling in the new house - and found that the original plaster walls are actually in really great condition - EXCEPT they are covered in giant whorls of crust old glue. We are moving in in 18 days (yes, I m counting) and gosh darn it! I cant get that glue off. Meh.

Annnyway...Sorry that dude dug up your garden - thats that pits.
Hope the glue removal is going better now. I know all of that liquid nails stuff can be stubborn. I remember when we were getting ready to move into our house, we had a countdown too. We gave ourselves 21 days between when we settled and when we moved out of our apartment. We'll be following along on your blog and can't wait to see your progress.
3/12/2013 at 12:28 PM
Would a rain chain work as a downspout? No DIY doldrums here ... I'm about to embark on the kitchen project. Need to pick out flooring, countertop, wall paint, and get some TSP and stain to revitalize the cabinets. So excited!
I think the amount of water than comes off of the roof it just too much for a rain chain. We're talking many gallons per minute under a heavy rain.

Have fun on the kitchen project! You're at one of the very fun stages!
3/12/2013 at 12:50 PM
Some sort of DIY is always ongoing at our vintage home. It would help if I wasn't a major procrastinator... but I'll deal w/ that issue tomorrow.

Have you considered a faux copper paint treatment done on the regular old standard issue material? Sure would be interesting to see the reaction of someone trying to steal that!

Your water meter cover is rather attractive and reminds me of a vintage metal stepping stone. In my community, we aren't allowed to cover our covers - so I just planted short grasses around it and the meter readers don't need to mess up anything trying to find it.
We had considered a faux copper treatment, but given that the gutter is still copper, we'll need to stick with the copper downspout too. I do think we'll get some locking collars for the next one.
3/12/2013 at 5:26 PM
I don't know about your water company, but mine did work in front of my house and their machine left tred marks in my grass. So they gave me a check for the inconvenience/damage. For me it was unprompted, and also on our lawn, not side walk. But you could always call and ask if they usually take things like that into consideration.
3/12/2013 at 8:07 PM
We know the feeling all too well. Insanely long work hours coupled with 4 years of stagnant salaries that buy even less with the skyrocketing price of materials has held us up for a couple of years now. We sometimes feel like we take one step forward and two backward. Now one of us is looking at a pay cut thanks to the sequestration, so we will get even less done this year.
3/13/2013 at 11:49 AM
I've lost most of my renovation mojo lately, mainly due to my current unemployed status, and complete lack of funds. I'm *THIS CLOSE* to having the second large bedroom upstairs finished, but I need money to pay to have the rest of the drywall (mud) done before I can paint the room and be done with it. I also have other major projects that really need to be done soon, like my leaking and badly deteriorated garage roof, the rotted garage wall, and my squirrel-infested fascia (which also needs to be replaced and re-tinned).

Despite this, I'm still trying hard to continue with small jobs around the house, like drywall repairs, a few casings, and other small things.
3/18/2013 at 11:29 AM
We live in a home that is basically new- 10 years old. The work never ends. Our home is greek Revival style and we spent the weekend, ripping off (gently) the ipe wood planks from the second floor front porch. The annual woodpecker was "pecking" at the soffit and trim of the first floor porch ceiling. Upon inspection (and removal of the soffit trim and crown moulding) we found that the rubber membrane of the second floor porch had leaked and caused rot. So removing and replacing the floor boards is the next project among the very many.
Whether your house is new or old, there is always work to do!
3/30/2013 at 7:43 PM
I hope things are looking up! I was definitely in the doldrums with projects but seemed to get my mojo back this week. Maybe the promise of spring helps?
12/28/2013 at 11:06 PM

Thanks so much for this post! I've been in the doldrums today over more speed bumps on our house plans!

I'm new to your blog and really enjoying reading through it!! Keep up the good work!!

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