the outcome

They came. They saw. They conquered. My horrible overgrown yard, that is. Yesterday was my turn for 2013 and for more than the prescribed amount of time, my friends tangled with what can best be described as the evil thorny cousin of tumbleweed. They also pulled ivy. They cut down trees. They planted. Kara and Don bequeathed me a gazillion plants from their Cheverly house yard, not to mention the patio furniture and chimera that they no longer need now that they are urbanites living in Baltimore.

And the result? I have a yard. I have a place to sit and enjoy my quiet slice of peace outside the chaos of the city. I am already thinking of other things I want to plant, and I want to throw dinner parties out here before it gets too hot and buggy to enjoy.

Once again I find myself overcome with emotion over the dedication that a group of friends can display over projects that get shoved to the bottom of our own to do lists at home. I’m especially touched that my friend Rob, who said he couldn’t stay long because he had some deadlines he was stressed about, decided to stay well into the evening because he was “having fun.” And that’s the thing. It’s fun to help. It’s much more fun to be at another family’s Warriors day than it is to run your own. Because there is nothing like transforming a room, a yard, or whatever the object of change is and seeing the look on the face of the owner of said space at the end.

But with that said, in spite of the sore muscles, sunburn, and piles of debris in my front yard that need to be hauled away, this was the best Warriors ever. And I cannot thank my friends enough.



Warriors 2.0

I have written before about the “book club for home improvement” my friends started and graciously invited me to join in 2012. Ten families. Ten months. We each get one turn to have four hours (or more) of help of raising the barn of our choosing.

I had my first turn in August 2012. Today is my 2013 turn.

And what a lovely day it is. I was nervous because the weather has been more erratic than my sex life (hot, cold, hot, cold) but that sassy minx Mother Nature appears to have delivered a beaut for us today, a day when I plan to tackle that beast of a yard my house rests upon.

I can’t predict exactly what we will accomplish but there will be a chainsaw involved.

Regardless of what gets checked off the list, I am looking forward to a day with my friends, and if last year’s Warriors day serves as any guide, I will cry tears of joy when it’s all over.

There will be after photos. Of the work, not the tears.


weekend warriors

Last year, I wrote about the “book club for home improvement” group that I belong to, Weekend Warriors. My friend Kara already expressed how fantastic this group of families is on her blog, so instead of repeating her declarations of love for these friends, I’ll let a picture (or collage) tell a thousand words.

On Saturday, the Warriors came to my house, read the list I had prepared in advance, and conquered my projects. We painted the living room. We installed surround sound (and by “we” I mean a team of guys led by Neil, an Emmy-winning sound technician for NPR) and the backyard was laboriously cleared of the weeds and debris that had been encroaching on my house. The kids potted flowers for my front stoop. We painted the exterior of my front and back doors. Emily (and kids) power washed the side of my house. Curtain rods were hung in the playroom-slash-office, and Ritzer removed the door that had served as a barrier between this room and the rest of the house. Rob (and kids) made a cork board out of exactly 128 wine corks. Afterwards, we ate three different types of chili. We drank beer. We drew for 2013 months.

There had been a moment as we neared the four-hour mark when I looked around and thought to myself, “I have a long night of work ahead of me once the whistle blows and everyone leaves.” But no one put a brush down or otherwise stopped working until the work was done. In fact, a few guys are coming over later this week to make the wires to my speakers “pretty.”

The entire process made me teary, though by my own rules, there’s no crying in Warriors. There is dreaming though of my 2013 turn, coming in April, a perfect month to really landscape that yard of mine. In the meantime, I will enjoy the process of participating in other people’s projects. (It’s much less stressful to go into someone else’s house and tackle their needs than it is to manage your own.) And every time I see the results of the hard work of these good friends, I smile.

I am a warrior people belong to book club. I’ve heard of dinner club, cookbook club and wine club. But one thing I had never heard of until I made friends in Cheverly is Weekend Warriors.

I’m not sure whose conception it was exactly as I’m a recent inductee into this esteemed group, but several years ago my friends created the book club equivalent for home improvement projects. Think of it as a modern interpretation of barn raising. Ten families over 12 months come to one family’s house on the second Saturday of each month (except December and January) for half a day’s worth of work. Your month is predetermined at the beginning of the year and you are supposed to make eight out of ten months. Projects I’ve seen so far include building a greenhouse, landscaping, deck staining, painting (there’s lots of painting), plumbing work, tile grouting and of course, someone has to herd the children.

I don’t officially have a slot in Warriors until the 2012 cycle begins, but I still participated in a couple of projects over the summer and fall.  Since I had helped in the 2011 cycle, and I drew August 2012 as my month for the next round, a couple of Warriors members suggested that if I had some small projects that I send a note around over winter break for a mini-unofficial Warriors gathering.

Do I have projects? I had some ceiling tiles that needed replacing in my basement (a constant reminder of the pipe bursting incident Inaugural weekend when temps were in the single digits) and I needed electrical work in the basement bathroom my brother renovated but was not comfortable doing the wiring on. These were two projects I could not do on my own.

I was overwhelmed by the number of families who came to help what were really two one-man projects. I could have called last night’s gathering “borrow a husband” instead of Warriors since really it was the Don and Rob show while their wives and I drank champagne in the kitchen, and the children ran amok until someone wisely turned on the TV. (A very rainy day prevented outdoor play.) In all, five families came over to enjoy homemade pizza, leftover Christmas cookies, champagne, Bell’s Winter White and the merriment that fifteen children (only four of which were girls) confined to the indoors can make.

And now, my ceiling tiles are replaced. I have power in my bathroom, though I need to take a trip to Home Depot before we can actually install lighting, but Don promises me this is a 15-minute job once I get the parts I need. We even got to do a little advance work on what my August 2012 project(s) should be. Do I want to rip out the carpet in the playroom/mommy cave and replace with wood or faux-wood flooring? Build a wine closet? The more we drank, the bigger the ideas seemed to get. But whatever project ends up being, it’s the spirit involved that means the most.