When I came downstairs on Thursday morning and discovered a seemingly homeless person sitting on the top step of our front porch (smoking cigarettes and drinking a Steel Reserve tallboy - yes, beer at 8 am), I knew it was time to do something about the abandoned appearance of the house.
For the record, I did not approach this person. He or she was having a lovely conversation with him/herself, and I thought it would be rude to interrupt.
Now, to be fair, the weather around here has been really, really rainy for the past few weeks, leaving little opportunity for mowing and maintenance. We're generally pretty good about keeping the grass mowed. We got a little break in the rain on Saturday, so we got to work. First we (by which I mean Tom. I was pulling weeds from the front steps) filled in the majority of the hole we'd dug around the tree stump in the side yard. Here it was last year:
Our next-door neighbors kindly hired someone to cut the stump below grade level. Taking the thing out completely isn't really a viable option. They had a hard enough time just cutting it down a few inches. We think it's cedar, so it's a really dense wood, and rot- and bug-resistant to boot. The yard people had to come back later with a bigger chainsaw to finish the job because their normal chainsaw wasn't powerful enough. At any rate, it's down below grade enough to where we could just fill in some dirt on top. We filled in the hole with the dirt we'd taken out of it. While Tom mowed the grass, I cleaned the street's raingutter and added the dirt from there to the hole. I even found some grass to plant (possibly the only actual grass in our entire yard - and it came from the gutter). Here it is now:
We've still got a long way to go, but hopefully our little cleanup will discourage any more morning visitors.