Ding Dong, the Tree is Gone!



Gingko 2

Well, after several years of suffering through the nasty smell of fermenting berries and severe allergic reactions worse than poison ivy, the 100+ foot Gingko Tree that once graced the front yard is gone. While it had its positive points in providing shade, privacy and a lovely sound as the breezes passed through, its negatives finally outweighed the positives when it crushed Kelly’s car a couple years ago. With the odd storms and weather patterns that we have had recently (60 mile an hour winds etc.) I finally accepted that the tree had to go.

20151003_125315Since a large maple tree on the driveway had come down in one of our winter storms and we still had various piles of debris from the microburst storm a couple years ago which we were unable to move ourselves, I had Johnsons Tree Removal come out and do a little spring cleaning.

Six or seven trucks came rolling down the driveway at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 16. After20160416_105926 seeing them remove the maple and all the other cleanup piles in about an hour, I thought they would be done with the gingko by noon or so. Mmm…not so much. Matt Johnson and his crew finished up and left at about 4 p.m. They used a cherry picker for a few hours and wielded a chainsaw bigger than I have ever seen (as tall as Matt!)



But, it is now gone, except for the stump (stump grinding is an expense that I just couldn’t swing this year) and maybe we will now have some fonder memories of the tree….or not. It was a pretty nasty tree and was prolific with those berries.

And if you couldn’t guess, Kelly is very, very happy to say good riddance to the tree!20160416_150551

Spring Has Officially Arrived

groundhog dayHooray!!!  Morton Hall has decided that spring has sprung!  Kelly and I went out this past weekend to “open up the house” aka turn the water on and see if pipes explode or water starts
shooting out a chimney….neither of those events occurred, so Morton Hall apparently agrees with Punxsutawney Phil and has decided that it was a fairly warm winter and spring is now here.  Tom (also known as plumber extraordinaire) will NOT be getting the call from me this spring about broken pipes; at least not currently!

2015 was a satisfying year at Morton Hall.  We finished all the drywall, plaster, scraping and painting on the “verandah” (aka upper porch) – well, minus the shutters.  I am still working on scraping and WD-40ing them so that that all the little slats actually open and close again and then will repaint them and put them back up.  This is the slowest part of the entire project.

After several unsuccessful attempts to find a tenant for the rental/apartment, I switched gears and Kelly decorated and set up the back end so that we could list it on AirBnB.  I think that is the way to go—we had amazing guests over the eight weeks that it was open and I am looking forward to the new season.  Financially, if I booked two or three weekends or so each month from April to November, I would more than cover what I was charging for rent & utilities over the entire year!  Plus, no more issues with non-paying deadbeat tenants and I shut the house down for the winter (December to April), so I am not constantly worried about any pipes bursting and having to respond immediately because a tenant is living out there and needs water.

20151113_1649282014 was an expensive year because of the actual structural and rebuild work that had to be done to the double-decker porch, so 2015 was more of a “labor of love” year – heavy on the labor!  However, the one splurge we did do last summer was to open the doorway from the middle (brick) section to the patio to increase the “flow” of the house.  The door has always actually been there but was boarded up with several layers of windows and did not have stairs or a stoop of any sort.  In my head, especially after putting in the patio in 2013 (yes, Kelly still gives me the glare about the patio), that back door and the back door from the grand entry have always opened onto the patio area.  LOL…even Kelly agrees that, “it’s always been here!”  With the salvaged screen door and the doors open throughout the house (including the French doors onto the verandah….another improvement that looks as if it was always there, thanks to Denny…and one of my few changes to the structure/exterior) it is amazing how breezy the house is – of course, the house was designed to “chimney” back in the day, but with the windows being so fragile or difficult to open, vandals breaking in doors/windows, we’ve just never had the opportunity to work the natural properties of the house.  The airflow and traffic flow are now amazing!

So plans for this year (2016) are  to have Denny make a few maintenance repairs (shingles etc.), replace the majority of the windows with new, energy-efficient windows that will allow us to open, close and keep bugs and cold air out…woohoo; and hopefully, open up the other rear door onto the patio ( from the grand entry).

20151003_125339We also had yet another tree come down during a storm in 2015, so I will have the tree guys come out, remove all four dead trees and take out the Gingko (I feel terrible taking out such a huge tree, but it is a prolific female and Kelly and I are extremely allergic to the berries that it
drops.)  Am thinking that with the number of huge tree stumps that will be left on the property (stump grinding is separate from tree cutting and removal, apparently), that perhaps we should have our own Groundhog Exam each spring…..

groundhog testKelly and I plan to scrape, paint and stain the front porch; patch, plaster and paint the middle hallway (brick section), install a permanent pantry and possibly a small party bar in that hallway, clean out the front hallway and get it ready for patching and painting and hopefully finish scraping and painting the verandah shutters and reinstall them.  We also will work on moving our “supply closet” from the closet in the game room to the attic room, so that in 2017, we can have a powder room installed.
SAM_4532Last year, with the open door from the middle hallway, we took advantage of the patio.  Guests from the apartment would come out the screened in-porch, walk around to the patio and enter from that door.   Guests also enjoyed the sunsets and lovely breezes from that direction in the afternoons.  We managed to get some awesome patio furniture at one of our auctions and have ordered cushions, so this year, we will have an even more amazing patio space for friends and guests.

20151113_164919It’s funny, sometimes it seems like nothing gets done each year at the hall, but when I look back, I am constantly surprised how much we actually get done with each season and how much closer we are to completion of several long-term projects
and my original hopes and dreams for the property.  I realized when we shut the house last year, that I was actually sad; Morton Hall is such a pleasant place to be these days, that it was hard to walk away for a few months; however, closing of the house allows some welcome down time and time to travel, relax and dream dreams of future projects.
20150925_175247If you have time, please come visit this year and take a peek at the changes and upgrades.  Come sit on the verandah and sip a mint julep (lol….sheesh…take Kelly on one trip to New Orleans and the bourbon-hating girl is now a convert…I think she has purchased three or four muddlers as a subtle hint!) Now that the house is more “in order” there will be a couple of girls’ weekends and a party or two on the schedule.  Hope to you see you soon and happy spring!

Kitchen evolution

You know that feeling you get sometimes when you go into a restaurant and take a closer look around and think to yourself – I should NOT be eating here.  It isn’t usually a single thing but a bunch of little things that add up to a not so good feeling in your tummy.  Well my friends, that is how I used to feel about the room we now refer to as the temporary  kitchen. It started off as a room with a mini fridge and a broken full size fridge for dry storage.  Some furniture made it a place to set stuff down but it wasn’t cozy or friendly or inviting.  This was the one room that needed some TLC and it would give us back a place to cook, eat and be happy.  Let me take you back in time . . . . .

After a couple of years, I couldn’t take it anymore and convinced Laurie to let me clean it up.  And it started to look a little better.

A room with a purpose
A room with a purpose

Then, a sink was added and we didn’t know how to act anymore – we were *that* excited!

And finally we went all in and did the entire room.  Painted, plastered, refinished floors, chandelier, custom island, storage, electrical, and full size appliances!  Words cannot describe how grateful we are for finally having a kitchen but now we can’t imagine not having it.

MH kitchen

Even since these photos, more work has been done to make the space comfortable and special.  As always, thanks for visiting 🙂