Monthly Archives: July 2012

For Charlotte

It’s amazing to look back at all our old house project pictures and see one detail in almost every set, our dog Charlotte. Our little lab/mix has been my project manager since we got her as a puppy over 9 years ago. One of my first gigs when I was a commercial producer was to put together a campaign based on volunteerism in the area. I decided to highlight the local humane society, and during a visit to get some cover footage I noticed a little black dog, one ear up-one ear down, sitting in a cage shaking like a leaf. She stole my heart and I had to have her. I called Sara and said we should consider bringing her home. We always wanted a dog at some point, but the decision was made to adopt her as soon as we could. That day when we picked her up, they had put her in an office by herself and a pile of newspaper. Within a few minutes the room was trashed and there was poop everywhere. We knew we were in for an experience. The puppy years were great, and although she got sick almost every time we put her in the car, we had a lot of great family memories. She got used to the water quick at camp. After a few hours of splashing around, chasing a ball or frisbee, or jumping off the dock when she had the courage, she would fall asleep in the back of my truck for the hour ride home.

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She was the perfect little house companion and quickly grew into our family. She wasn’t shy, and made it known if she needed something or someone. She had a loud deep bark, but would roll over on her back if she saw a chance for a belly rub. She got along well with her cat brothers and sister, and would even break up the occasional fight that would develop between them. She certainly got into her fair share of trouble as well, but sometimes it’s hard to stay angry at a dog.

When we decided to adopt Charlotte, I never knew that I could grow so attached to her as I did. She was my best friend, my daughter, and knew me better than almost anyone. They say that a dog is a man’s best friend, and Charlotte was no different.

Charlotte and her Dad

My daily routine revolved around her and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. She was such a happy dog and always looked like she was smiling, even when she had to take her medicine (ants on log we’d call it). During my lunch break we would sit out on the porch when the weather was nice, or in the winter we’d cuddle up on the couch. I’d talk to her like she was going to talk back, only she’d look at me with her big brown eyes as if to say “I love you”. And sometimes that’s all I needed.

We had to say goodbye to our Charlotte last weekend after a quick illness. It was devastating, to say the least. Our home just isn’t the same.

Shortly after she passed, Sara had to remind me that “It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all”, and I guess that’s true. I don’t regret taking her under our wing, but it’s a reminder that we all must go someday, and to spend every minute with them like it’s your last. I would give me right arm to have another hour with her, but I’m thankful for the 9 great years that we had. – Matt

Family Photo

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This Retaining Wall Wasn’t Built in a Day

Have you ever heard the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Well, this retaining wall wasn’t built in a day. Even if we had the time to build it in a day, I’m not sure my back could take it. The project started off with a new driveway. In past winters we’ve had to shuffle cars around to dodge the winter parking regulations in Bangor. Sara gets home before me, but leaves earlier than me., so I would get home after work and either drive up over the lawn to get behind her car, or move her car out and mine in and then hers back in. It was a pain in the ass. Not knowing how much a new driveway would cost we always put it off. One spring day I decided to call a neighbor who owns a paving business to see how much it would cost. After he gave me the quote I couldn’t stop thinking about it and how convenient it would be in the winter (and it would really add to the look of the house). We set a date to have it done. First step was to dig out the old driveway and set the base in for a few weeks. Here is a look at the before and initial work on the widening.
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Not very pretty, eh? When we got back from a trip to Arizona, the first step had been done. We decided to have the walkway to the porch prepped for pavers, or something, that we will eventually put in.

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Already a huge improvement. This will allow us to park side by side… and in the winter I’ll be able to store my new boat in the back of the driveway and the cars up front. Of course I’m dreaming, but whatevs.

So the driveway sat this way for 2 weeks or so. Just enough time to let the base set. I may have ruined the clutch in my truck driving back and forth to pack it down. If I had a steamroller I would have used that, but who has a steam roller? Nobody.

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And here is the paved driveway. They did a great job, and I’d like to think that I got the friendly neighbor discount 🙂

One problem that we were left with was the side of the house with the sloped lawn. It was useless space. We could have seeded it but I wanted to put up a retaining wall to clean up the side. I started off by digging a trench along the edge of the driveway and setting a level line from one end to the other. You can kinda see it in this picture.

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I’m not gonna lie and say this was the easiest process. First off, I made about half a dozen trips to Lowes to get the bricks. My truck (and back) can only handle a few hundred pounds at a time. I did about 15-20 bricks at a time, setting the paver base and tampering as I went along. The wall isn’t level with the driveway, but level with the house, so the tallest part of the wall is towards the front of the house. The further back it goes, the fewer bricks I needed. In the end it turned out looking pretty good.

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We backfilled with what was dug out from the trench, but eventually we’ll roto’till some fertilized soil on the top for the plants. The original plan was to install some lights in the wall that would shine down onto the driveway, but I didn’t find anything cheap enough that would have worked well for that purpose, so that is on hold for now. We may just opt with lights in the flower garden.

Here is a before and after so you don’t have to scroll.

driveway before-after

And there it is! More progress towards cleaning up the outside of the house! Shutters and flowers soon 🙂 Some work has been done to the dining room and laundry closet as well. More on those once it is finished up.

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