McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: Don’t miss the big picture |

McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: Don’t miss the big picture

Mike McKibbin
McKibbin’s Scribblin’s
Mike McKibbin
Staff Photo |

I’m learning some important lessons this summer about home ownership and what it takes to keep a home in shape.

Not that I’ve been neglecting my home for the last 10 years, but there have been things that I missed as I focused on one project at a time. Each of those projects seemed to last all summer, since I can only tackle them on weekends while working here more than 40 hours a week.

When I first bought the house, I knew it would be a fixer-upper. I had to replace all but one of the nine windows with energy efficient upgrades, plus put in a new back door. Then about a quarter of the back yard was nothing but weeds – along with a peach tree that has survived and had years with surprising yields – so I rototilled it and put down a weed barrier and about three tons of river rock. (Hint: Be sure and put down more than one layer of weed barrier. I spray and pull at least once a month each summer.)

Then the back deck had to be torn out because the previous owner never weather-proofed the wood and it was rotting out. I toyed with several ideas for a replacement deck and started and stopped work on that. Eventually, I just planted grass and it looks pretty nice. I also put in a much smaller sandstone patio.

As the years went on, I focused more attention on getting my yard in shape, tried to get rid of the weeds, planted a couple of crab apple trees (only one survived) and a flower bed. It looks pretty nice, I think.

But that diverted my attention from looking up from the ground and seeing what was happening to the outside of my home. The frames around all those new windows had badly pealed paint and some of them were starting to warp. The two biggest ones, facing east and west so they get the most sun, had started to sag a little. Enough to where I had to lean my body into them and slam and hold the window closed in order to lock it.

So this spring, I forked out the money to have a couple guys add support to the bottom of the frames and now they slide back and forth easily. But the outside frames still looked very bad.

Since spring, I’ve gotten into the weekend routine of sanding the frames (thankfully with a drill attachment instead of trying to do it by hand), re-caulking the frame edges (very time consuming), taping around the frames to be painted and then painting them a couple times. Most of the frames take two weekends to finish, since the caulk has to dry and I never seem to have the energy at the end of a workday to do anything with the frames. Then you have to wait for the paint to dry and carefully remove the tape, which invariably tears at the wrong places or leaves little strips of blue you have to pick at for a couple minutes.

So the lessons I’m learning are patience, paying attention to details, not neglecting everything else while you’re busy with one thing. Mainly, not losing sight of the big picture.

There’s still more work to do after the window and door frames are done. The eaves are looking pretty bad.

No end to it, is there?

Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.

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