Friday, July 30, 2010

Small Odd Jobs and Mosquito Millage

No big projects here at The Gear. The weather has been slightly cooler the last several days but the mosquitoes are nearly unbearable. Here in the Township of Grand Blanc we pay a slight millage for mosquito abatement. The abatement can be either in the form of spraying or larvae killing by treating standing water.

In the last several years they have tried to lean more toward treating standing water than spraying. Also in the last several years there has been an increase in mosquitoes. Working in the yard is nearly impossible unless the wind is blowing or you are standing out in the sun.

Unfortunately in this upcoming primary election this township has added a renewal to the mosquito abatement millage. Most people don't vote in primaries unless there is a specific reason to vote against something and there seem to be a push to not renew the mosquito killing tax. I can't imagine what the level or size of skeeters will be next year if this millage is not renewed.

I know spraying can be harmful but so can mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can spread a variety of diseases plus they affect the quality of life for those wishing to be out of doors in the few months that Michigan has of beautiful weather. Here's hoping the mosquito millage passes.

This past week we have trimmed more branches in the backyard and finished fixing the fence problems including the bent fence post. Now we just need to find a correct height of gate for the opening. The current gate is too short. I'm sure I'll run across one on Craigslist sooner or later.Weeding continues in the backyard. I would like to finish seeding the fountain area this fall. Even though that area is by far the worse area in the whole yard, it still has come a long way from the jungle area it was when we purchased the house.

Last week we had a several days that had strong heavy downpours. In between the rainstorms I snapped this photo of the sky. It was a weird lavender pink. Normally you would see this color in the western sky but this photo is of the southern sky.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mending Fences

Best laid know how they go.

The plan was to install the last top rail connector and then we would be done with fence repairs. After clearing away some vegetation we found 2 more breaks and another bend.

R will have to go and buy a couple more connectors and tomorrow we will try and straighten the bent top rail and install the new connectors.

We also found that the post on one side of the gate is bent. R thinks he can use the come along and a large nearby tree to pull the post straight.

I would like to know how the post got bent in the first place.

At exactly the same moment, both R and I realized that we felt itchy all over our legs and arms. Oh no poison ivy!!! We immediately got out the dish soap and garden hose and washed the itchy areas. So far, 5 hours later we are itch free.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chain Link Fence Repair

The air was thick today. My plan was to finish weeding the border along the front fence. This is where I left off yesterday evening.I had edged and weeded this bed yesterday except for a 4 x 4 foot area. I started to loosen the dirt with the shovel and within a handful of minutes I was exhausted and overheated. Time to find another project.

R went to the fence store this morning to get the needed parts to repair the chain link fence on the north side of the property. He needed the internal connectors like the broken one in the photo below...... but all they had were the external kind.Installation was a pain because the top rail was already in place and there was not a lot of play. But R was able to install 3 of the 4 connectors before it started raining. Of course he needed a floor jack and some used (1 race) racing oil to do it. He raised the top rail using the floor jack....... ......and lubricated the top rail with oil so that it would slide together once he was able to line everything up. This wasn't the only fence repair that we needed to do. The fence in the front had a bend in the top rail where two sections come together. The original installation used an external connector that has a split in it. The split has spread apart and caused the top rail to sag.

So we used the floor jack and a 4 x 4 to raise it back up. It's better but not perfect. We might try the other style of connector but this top rail is bigger in diameter so we are not sure if they make one this size or not.Then it started raining and R asked, "are you calling it because of rain?"

I replied, "Yup... it's a rain out."

New Curbside Treasure

It had been a while since I ran across my last curbside treasure and I was wondering when I would run across my next find. Today was the day.

Someone beat me to the curb in the short time it took me to turn around. Luckily he just took the large canvas market umbrella and left the item I had my eye on.

I had to call R on the phone to help me load my new acquisition. It took him 10 minutes to get there so I just stood there on the side of the road so no one else would stop.

Here it is.......A small maple desk with drawers.

The desk is in very good shape. There are scratches in the paint but that is OK because I will repaint it to match my sewing room. My neighbor on Torrey Road uses a desk for her sewing machine. She painted her desk dark red and then put on several coats of clear poly sanding between coats. The clear coats makes the top real smooth so that your fabric slides easily as you are sewing.

The drawers are not small and will work perfect for storing lots of notions and fabric.
R scored at a garage sale last week. He bought 3 bottle jacks for 20 bucks. Two large jacks and one small jack. All three did not work and that was how he was able to negotiate a lower price. He had two working within an hour and believes the third just needs oil. The two that were non operational required spraying all moving parts with a penetrating oil to loosen surface rust. A slight tap here and there with a small brass hammer and viola.....they were working.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Trimming Trees and Shady Projects

The trees on our property had been neglected for many years before we purchased the house. Over the years we have trimmed and cut a little here and there.

This year we made a serious attempt to finally take care of all the trees. Every storm brought down new dead limbs and twigs. We grew tired of picking up tree debris.

Due to the excessive heat, we decided to take care of projects that are in the shade such as weeding and tree trimming. Our plan is to raise the canopy high enough that we will not have to trim low hanging branches again. We are also removing any dead or damaged wood as we move from tree to tree. We have several more large trees in the front of the property to trim after that we move to the back yard where the trees are in need of trimming BIG TIME.

We have so much cut wood that I believe we could totally heat (use the 3 fireplaces) the house all winter for the next two or three years. I need to call the fireplace chimney guy before the weather turns cold.

The weeding is coming along nicely. The hosta beds look wonderful and the plants are really getting full. We have decided to remove several tender perennials out by the gate and replace them with large sedum like the Autumn Joy we planted last year. Plants that require watering end up being neglected because dragging the garden hose out there is a pain.

The weather report is calling for a slight chance of rain all week so that rules out crabgrass killer. Crabgrass removal is high on my list. The areas we treated last year look great this year and show no signs of crabgrass.

Our usual Japanese beetle problem seems to be less of a problem this year. I saw several of those nasty bugs on a couple of rose bushes but the plum trees look unaffected so far.

We have also continued with our asphalt repairs. That is slow going and messy. But in the end it will extend the life of our driveway.

Since no one wants to look at more tree trimming photos or photos of broken is some flower porn for you. Look at the size of that lily.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thank Heaven it Rained

We were beginning to lose the watering battle. The grass is slightly crispy but the plants and small trees are all doing great thanks to nearly non stop watering during this recent heat wave.

R and I decided to work on projects that were located in the shade, mainly weeding, mulching, and trimming. Except for one project that R decided might be aided by the heat.

Asphalt Repair

Yes, you read that correctly....asphalt repair. Our asphalt driveway was neglected for many many years before we purchased The Gear. Last year in a desperate attempt to help bide us some time, we had the entire driveway spray sealed. This was at a cost of $2200 and almost immediately soaked in as quickly as they sprayed it.

This year we purchased some cold patch, a bottle or two of crack filler, and some stuff in a tub that you trowel on small areas. Ironically, R thought the added warmth of the last week would help the cold patch compress and fill the areas we were fixing.

First, we removed any small broken pieces of asphalt or dirt from the cracks and holes we were repairing. I then used a garden hose to flush out the majority of the dirt and debris. The area quickly dried while R filled his portable air tank with compressed air.
Next R used the compressed air and an air gun to blow out the remaining small particles.

R then filled the small cracks using the bottle of crack filler we purchased at Home Depot. By this time the heat had gotten the most of us and we called it a day.The next day we filled the large holes with cold patch that we let sit in the sun (comes in plastic bags). R used a trowel to move the product from the bag to the hole. As he filled the hole, I compressed the cold patch by tamping with the end of an old 4 X 4 post. Yes, that is the curb area we are fixing. Technically the asphalt we are fixing is in the street but I cannot get Grand Blanc Twp to clean the curb so I surely could not get them to fix a hole in their asphalt. But...there is always a but in township politics....if I lived in a private development on a private road the township would probably have fixed the hole before I even noticed the hole.

We will continue this process until we have fixed all the holes in the driveway. R will then trowel on the stuff that came in a tub to level out the repaired areas.

Once all the cracks and holes are repaired we will begin to spread out a thick layer of sealer. This should occur sometime in the fall and will take quite awhile since the driveway is quite long.

We realize this sounds like a lot of work but when we quickly received an estimate for a repaving job we realized that +20K was just not in the budget and that we had better quickly take preventive measures.

In between the heat wave, asphalt repair, and weeding my laptop mother board went on the fritz and the digital cable quit working on 2 of the 3 TVs in the house. Comcast took their sweet time coming out and repairing the problem. The technician immediately went to worst case scenario and wanted to run all new cable. I told R absolutely not. It is all new RG6 and nothing has damaged it. After 45 minutes of debate, I was finally able to get him to look outside where the cable comes into the house. Well lo and behold.....the drop from the pole to the house was 59 and not RG6 but he assured me that was not the problem we were having and that after he replaced the 59 with RG6 that I would still be without digital cable on 2 of the 3 TVs. Well, long story short I made him (he resisted) hook everything back up after he replaced the drop. While he was hooking the cable back up I told R "if we are living right the cable will come back on." R replied "well if that is the will probably burst into flames." Cable guy laughed but again assured me that this in no way would have any effect on our problem and that our problem was bad cables but that he would hook the TV back up to show me.

I bet you know what happened next.......that's right......all the TVs started working perfectly. But you will not believe what happened next. Mr. I KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT AND YOU DON'T received a phone call from his boss inquiring if he had fixed the problem yet. He promptly took credit and told his boss that upon investigating the problem further he found the 59 drop and replaced it with RG6 and it promptly fixed the problem AND that he should investigate and find out who didn't replace the 59 drop in March because Comcast policy is that whenever you are called out to a job the FIRST thing you do is check the drop. Gees Louise...I was ready to make a sling for this guy's arm because I was sure he damaged it patting himself on the back.

I was so happy that the cable problem turned out to be on their end and required no money on our end that I promptly went out and bought a refurbished laptop. I am completely computer stupid and thank heaven for Windows because basically it found everything (modem, wireless etc) and just prompted me through the process.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

How Am I Doing?

Well I will be up front...we haven't made as good of progress as I had wanted.

Here's the excuses.

It's hot outside.

One half of Friday was used to do a unexpected project at the Torrey Rd house. The opportunity arose to have our neighbor (owns nursery) to use his equipment to clear the area under the purple martin house/Bradford pear tree. This required us to remove all the irises buried in the weed infested mess. When they were done using the tractor, they laid down plastic and covered with mulch. It looks much better now. This was a project that needed to be done but this was unexpected.

We added to the list. We edged around 4 more trees.

We needed to get more black mulch and the employees at Home Depot are slow slow slow. A 10 minute trip turned into also 45 minutes.

We weeded the 3 hosta beds. One bed is huge. We decided to do this because it is in the shade.

Did I mention it was hot?

Here is the 'To Do' list

Complete all mowing today. DONE
Finish putting down black mulch that was bought on Saturday. DONE
Spray Round Up (this alone should take 4-5 hrs) large yard plus need to refill.
Sand trim on sun room exterior.
Caulk all new trim on sun room exterior.
Prime sun room exterior.
Strip paint on next section of house.
Sand, caulk, prime this section and the doorway section that already has new shingles and trim.
Work on painting the chain link while fence is in the shade.

That's not very good progress. If I could fire myself, I would do it immediately. Oh but wait, I guess because I own this house that would make me part of the management. In that case, I just gave myself a raise and hey what the heck, a bonus, too!!!!!

Life is great!!!!

Did I mention how hot it is outside????