Plumbing, Pruning, Painting...were called for and in that order. Mr. Jack came by to inspect the situation. He couldn't believe that my brother had dug the ditch. Repeated Mike and his brother's statement: "You ain't no city boy." I wanted to know if the city had improved the water flow to the new buildings across the street and if the increased pressure would have affected the pipes over here. No. It was a reasonable thought.
Mike appeared to try another fix in the mighty ditch, per Mr. Jack's instructions. The problem is the galvanized pipes are rusting out and springing leaks. The game plan is to cut out a section of the pipe, replacing it with a concoction of PVC and rubber hose. If it holds, then that section of pipe will be capped off and new PVC pipes run. It holds. Mike tells us what to order from the home center and he'll do it in the evenings. Until then, walk to the curb, turn on the water, walk back, turn it off. I have them show me what to do but gladly relegate that chore to my brother. No argument from me.
Have asked around about the fire. No one knows of a fire within the last forty to sixty years. The realtor comes up with a likely scenario: Perhaps that section was the kitchen and they had a fire there at some point. Could be. A cistern was located between the two sections, in the area of one of the back porches. (They just kept adding on.) Given the age of the house, kitchens were built separately from the main structure, so that may well be the answer. The good news is that the beams were reinforced so it won't collapse anytime soon. I hope.
The yard is bothering my brother. A man thing. He trims all of the bushes into manicured shapes. We've already moved the urns to a new spot which is more pleasing to my eye. Painted brilliant white and planted with geraniums, petunias, coleus, and vinca vine, they make a great improvement to the front. We also painted the wrought iron railing, newspaper receptacle, and mail box. Of course, the roof and peeling paint are distractions but give it time. Small changes but big steps in putting my stamp on the property. He also assembles the mighty green (not John Deere green, more lime green) machine and proceeds to mow, mulch, and spread. It is too hot. Do the front in the morning and the back in the evening, I say. Catch the shade is my idea. Not. His idea is to get it done. Getting a fabulous tan in the process.
I start painting my bedroom with Kilz. It is a big room and I'm not making a lot of progress. Do a little bit each day. Turns out she had beautiful wallpaper under the layer of paint. Some of it had started to peel. NOT trying to strip that room, no way. Pull off what is necessary, fix cracks, caulk, and paint. Up the ladder, down the ladder, move the ladder. Missing the newspaper put down to catch splatters. Still don't know what color to use. The previous owner liked green; make that LOVED green. Deep green doors to hallway and den/sitting room/office. Beautiful color. Add the "green monstrosity" and I'm locked into green as an accent. She is turning me against green. It is everywhere.
Plumbing supplies appear, as do the roofing materials. Yes, work on the roof is to begin at the end of the week. Never received estimates from the people who came out two weeks prior. Called Home Depot's person. They still won't give a round figure but it has climbed to over $25 K. They have lost their minds. Even I know that supplies don't cost that much--we're talking labor here--and probably some things I didn't even need, like replace the entire structure. Ask around and find out that Mike's brother does roofing. Mr. Jack gives his endorsement on the quality of work. If it takes three weeks, so what? Home Depot gave that time frame as well and they were going to be here daily. I can live with work on the weekends and evenings. I can live with the price even better.
Mike begins running new pipes under the house. Leaves are getting the best of the brother but he refuses to give in. "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow." Lots of leaves from huge magnolias. I believe they are even taking a toll on the super-duper yard machine. They're piled neatly, as opposed to randomly, in mounds around the base of the two in the front. Looking good.