I was able to clear the ivy away with some snippers and a little (okay, a lot) of elbow grease, but there was no way to clear out the woods without a chainsaw, so I bought one and started cutting down trees. I had never used a chainsaw before, and discovered it's not as easy as it looked when I watched my man use one!! But, I persevered, and my hard work paid off.
There's still work to do, but I'm pleased with the progress. You can see, and burn in, the upper fireplace now. Digging that out was back-breaking! It's been too wet or too windy to burn lately, but the wood is stacked and ready for whenever I get a chance to light the fire ... and that sounds like the perfect excuse to invite the kids and some friends over for a bonfire and cookout!
There's another fireplace and patio at the bottom of the hill that needs to be dug out, but I haven't even started to tackle that project yet. Below is the "before" for the lower fireplace. If we get some mild, dry weekends, I'll start working on it. Otherwise, it will be next spring before I begin.
And, finally ... the rusting, leaning yellow tether ball pole is gone!! Removing that was no small task (not that I actually helped) ... it was anchored in with enough concrete to withstand a nuclear blast! I can't imagine how heavy it was or how he got it in the back of his truck without any help.
I'm really going to miss working in my yard this winter.