Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This will set things back...

Background info....last Thursday I had a doctor's appointment to follow up on my blood work from last month.  Last month my blood work shows some numbers that indicated my kidneys were not working as well as they should.  As a result my doctor took me off all my meds excepts my cholesterol medication and a pain killer if I needed it.  This meant that I would not be taking anything for my arthritis.

I've had arthritis since my teens and for most of my adult years I have taken some sort of medication to ease the inflammation in my joints.  Since I knew I would start feeling stiff and achy I wasn't surprised that my feet were achy on Thursday night.  Going up and down a ladder isn't the best thing for my feet but you have to do what you have to do to get things done.

Friday my feet were killing me.  I told R that I would probably have to make another appointment because the pain med the doctor gave me was doing absolutely nothing.  By the end of the day on Friday, I was limping and could hardly walk.

I was unable to sleep Friday night and when I moved the sheets and blanket around my foot I about leaped out of bed.  I could not touch my big toe or the top of my right foot.  It was hot, red, swollen, and the area at the base of my big toe had a lump. Right away I thought it was a bone spur because it was in the exact area where I dropped a metal bar clamp onto the top of my top while wearing flip flops about 5 years ago.

Saturday was bad.  I was in bed all day only getting up to use the bathroom.  I used a cane and since my other foot was achy too, it was very difficult to move.  I soaked my foot in ice water and then when it was numb enough placed a bag of ice on my foot.

Sunday morning I woke up to the identical condition in my left foot.  What in the world was going on?  I hit the Internet and was shocked.  I had gout.  Yes, gout.  An ancient disease that mostly afflict overweight men.

After reading up on what to do to ease the pain, I continued to ice the joints on both feet and to drink a lot of water to help flush the uric acid crystals from my blood and the joints.  This added to my bathroom use problem but my right foot was a little better.

Monday morning I made an appointment for that afternoon.  My doctor confirmed I had gout and the first thing he asked me was "did I recently eat a large steak and drink beer?"  I eat very little red meat and have never been a steak eater.  I might eat one rib eye a year and I haven't drank beer since college.

I'm on steroids and will go back to the doctor on Monday to assess the progress of the steroids and to get the maintenance meds to control gout.

What is gout?  It's a type of arthritis caused by uric acid crystals that are deposited by the blood in the joints.  Usually the lower extremities but also hands and elbows.  Big toes are a common site of attack.

Middle aged men with poor diets high in protein and who are over weight are the usual suspects when it comes to gout.  I do not eat a high protein diet, if anything it is carb loaded.

Prevention consists of a maintenance med to control the uric acid levels in the blood but also diet modification.  No seafood.....damn I love me some shrimp.  No red meat.....that's not a biggie because I'm a white meat person.

My sister's husband has gout that he controls with meds.  He found that olives are one of his trigger foods.  Damn....I love me some olives.  But after some thought and research I found that fructose is a trigger and should be avoided.  This might be my trigger.  In an attempt to be healthier, I quit drinking diet soda because I thought the aspartame was unhealthy.  Instead of diet soda I was drinking grape ade, fruit drinks, and such.  Today I hauled out the old reading glasses and read the fine print on all the empties.  Second ingredient on all the drinks was FRUCTOSE.  I swear I was healthier when I ate junk food and didn't sleep.

The only good news is that my brother in law drinks tart cherry juice or takes the capsules.  My doctor agreed.  I'll probably add it to 7 UP (not diet) or carbonated water.  Stoylie would be best but there is that no alcohol thing.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr

Today was my first day of walking around without too much pain.  No ladder work for me, so I raked leaves and moved rocks until I felt my big toes start to hurt.  There is still plenty of non ladder work to do like putting away flower pots, rain barrel, etc which we need to do before everything freezes.

Patio slabs for the meter reader to walk on when he reads the gas meter
The window guy is coming back next Friday for a final measurement and is bringing his installer. I can see that we will have to shingle in December.  The front wall will take about 2 hours to finish after the windows are installed BUT the other wall has that tall peak.  The only good news is that it is the south side of the house and we should be protected from any cold wind blowing from the north. We will be very lucky if we get the south side shingled before winter fully kicks in.

The barn paint removal is on hold.  I'm the scraper in the family and there is no way I can climb a ladder.  So close.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mail Box Love or How to Ship and Recieve Packages without Mishaps

I do a lot of shipping PLUS I get a lot of packages delivered to my house.  I have never had a lost package that I have shipped.  On the other hand, I've had about 7 or so packages not arrive in my mail box.  Most were from Asia and were probably in very little packets which are very easy to get lost along the way.

So when we did the mail box spruce up I added a super large mail box to accommodate small and medium packages.  I've found that if you make it as easy as possible for your postal worker you will get the best service possible.  Think about it.  If someone made your job more difficult, would you go out of your way to help them?  Probably not.

The USPS delivered 155.4 billion pieces of mail last year.  That's a lot of pieces so it's not out of the question that a piece gets misplaced here and there.  Heck, I lose my keys between the garage and the foyer.

Over the years, the postal clerks and carriers have given me some very useful tips to make sure my packages arrive safely and in a timely manner and here they are.......

First class and Priority ship together so don't waste your money on Priority if your package can ship using first class (<13 ozs="" p="">
If you print your own labels do not downsize them or print them lightly.  The postal clerks need to scan the packages you drop off before they are placed in the bin for shipping.  It is not uncommon for the bar code to not scan properly.  When this happens they have to enter the bar code manually.  If the print is small the bar code may be entered incorrectly resulting in no tracking.  BTW tracking is now free for both Priority and first class.  During busy periods such as holiday shipping periods, your package may be tossed aside until they have time to enter it manually.  Think of how many bar codes can be scanned in the amount of time it takes to manually enter a teeny tiny bar code.

The post master of one branch told me that they had a whole box of pre printed shipping/postage labels that would not scan.  When they investigated further they found they were all from one online seller who had downsized the label and printed them very lightly.  They were able to contact the seller and tell him/her to come and get the packages and print them correctly.  It was during the holidays and they were very busy so I really do not blame them.

If you hand address your packages or even just envelopes always PRINT if your cursive is iffy and make sure the zip code is large.  Packages move along on conveyor belts and are read by electronic eyes that read the address.  The zip code is used until the package or letter arrive at the final post office.  It is only then that the actual address is read.  So make that zip code large and clearly printed so it moves along without a hiccup.

I always hand address my parcels and always PRINT. If you want to make sure the address is formatted correctly just run it through Google Maps.  This really helps me when shipping internationally.

When shipping to Canada PRINT the zip code using the correct upper and lower case letters.  They use mostly lower case letters and the zip code may look like this.......1eb 3y5l  The country you are shipping to should also be PRINTED and LARGE.

If you ship to Brazil, it is Brasil down there.  I found that out from a buyer when I asked if the address format was correct.

When shipping to countries that are notorious for lost and stolen packages ALWAYS  use a box and tape the dickens out of the box.

When filling out customs forms NEVER LIE.  Even if the buyer asks you to enter it as a gift or to enter a lower value.  The European Union countries have a very high VAT (value added tax) that they must pay before picking up their package.  In the UK they add an 8 pound tax just for processing on top of the VAT which I think is around 20%.  YIKES!  It is not the seller's responsibility to pay this as this is a tax imposed by their country on their citizens to encourage them to buy from within their own country.

When filling out the custom form be as general as you can be to thwart any would be thieves from snatching your package.  When I send vintage watches, even if they are made of precious metal, I enter pre owned watch and then the actual value.  No need to catch the eye of a bad guy looking for the word GOLD even if it is gold filled.

Now that you know how I get my packages sent without any problems this is how I get my packages delivered to me without any hiccups.

Most important is to have your mail box clearly marked with the address.  Sure your regular carrier knows your address but with mail delivery being a 6 day a week schedule, you are more than likely to have at the very least a substitute carrier for one day.  I have found that whenever I have received a package that was not meant for me it was always a sub carrier.  I had a run of getting a neighbor's meds delivered to my mail box.  After the second time I wrote directly on the package that it was delivered to the wrong address and then placed it back into the mail box.  My regular carrier found it and came to the door.  I explained what was happening and he said it was a sub and he would take care of it.  End of problem.

I never hand deliver a neighbor's mail unless I know that neighbor.  Once I sent my husband down the street to deliver a misdelivered package.  The neighbor was not known to us.  He did not want to open his door but finally opened it enough to grab the package.  As R was walking away the guy started yelling at him wanting to know why he had his package.  Basically accusing him of stealing, so we leave the delivery of mail to the postal carriers.  Some people are extra paranoid and as they say 'no good deed goes unpunished'.

To help the substitute carrier, write the address not only on the outside of the door of the mailbox but also on the inside.  Once the carrier pulls up to your mailbox, he or she can no longer see the address on the side of the box or post.  I use the small reflective numbers for the outside of the door.  My local hardware sells them for 49 cents each.

On the inside I use a paint pencil to write the number. Why don't I use paint pencil on the outside of the door?  Here in the north, snowplows throw snow going at least 50 mph.  It basically sandblasts paint off your mail box, post, and any painted numbers. That is why I went with a PVC/vinyl mail box post and a powder coated mail box.  My numbers are also reflective.  I had a house that had applied numbers to the post.  Every spring I had to repaint the numbers because the paint was blasted off and it was down to raw aluminum.

It also never hurts to say 'thank you' when your carrier brings a package to your door.  It's common courtesy but some people think because they are doing a job and being paid for it, it doesn't deserve a 'thank you'.  I can't imagine sitting in that cold truck and drudging through the snow during the winter. Which brings me to snow removal.  If your mail is delivered at the curb make sure the snow is cleared away so the carrier can drive up to the mail box.  If your mail is delivered to your door make sure your side walks are clear of snow and ice.

We wanted our postal carriers to know that we appreciate them taking good care of us so we added this little note inside the mail box.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Turning a Pig's Ear into a Silk Purse

I'll admit that I was disappointed when R told me he could not relocate that electrical conduit under the window because of the less than 10 inches of crawl space height under that wing of the house. We discussed it for several days and R was adamant that if he just cleaned up the conduit and straightened it that it would look good once it was painted.  I wasn't so sure.

I felt that it was still out of place even if it was fixed up.  I thought that people would wonder "why didn't they hide that inside the wall?"  So we just left it and moved on to something else.  That was until I was raking on the south side of the house and noticed the exterior outlet.   Ding ding ding!! This would be a perfect solution to our problem.  Not only would it take care of the problem of why would someone run conduit on the outside of the house BUT it would give us an electrical outlet to use if we need electricity to run holiday lights.

I was pretty sure that we could do this IF there was enough wire.  R is always a glass 1/2 empty kind of guy.  He was sure there would not be enough wire but being the nice guy he is, he would try. Good thing because I had already bought the exterior box with weathertite cover, a duplex outlet, and 3 conduit clamps.  He's a 'glass half empty' guy and I'm a 'already bought it and can't find the receipt to take it back' kind of a gal.  Don't judge me.  If I can lie to the utility company about a leaky gas meter, I easily say I lost a receipt.  I'll say an extra Hail Mary.

R pulled the main disconnect and I mowed the back yard.  Next thing I know, R is waving me in for a pit stop.  Verdict is that there will be enough wire if he back stabbed the wire.  It's not ideal but you have to do, what you have to do, to make things work when you have an old house.  Then R informed me that the wire gauge was too big to back stab.  Grrrrrrr

I went back to mowing and R left to try and find the right duplex outlet.  We have a large lot so I mowed and mowed all the while stewing about that ugly conduit on the front of the house when I looked up and saw R waving me in for another pit stop.  He said he had finally found one that would work and it was installed already.

Say what?

Sure enough it was all installed and it worked!!!  He purchased the industrial grade outlet where you can back stab the wire but there is a clamp to hold it in place and it also accomadates the larger gauge wire.

Before I painted the shingles I scraped off the old paint off the conduit so the paint finish would not be all bumpy from the million drips that add accumulated over the last who knows how many years. it blends and looks like it has a purpose.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ugly Exterior Furnace Exhaust Ducts

You know those ugly furnace exhaust ducts/pipes that stick out of your house?  Normally they are on the back or side of your house where they really are not a focal point but not ours.  Ours are right there on the front of the house saying "look at me" and "why did they put me here where EVERYONE can see me".

When we removed the old shingles so that we could install new cedar shingles we also cut off the furnace exhaust pipes.  Normally you wouldn't have to do that but we have two furnaces, so we have two exhaust pipes right next to one another.  They were not the same.  Besides being ugly they were different ugly, too.  We shortened some pieces and bought two new elbows (because once they are glued they cannot be reused) and we were able to make two nearly identical pieces.  What we couldn't fix were their locations.  When the original installer cut through the wall he did not locate both pipes at the same level.  One pipe is about 3/4 of an inch higher.  We made a slight adjustment in our assembly to accommodate this and now it isn't as obvious.

Before we re installed I decided that the ugly off white would stand out against the dark grey shingles and the grey gas meter to the left of the pipes, so I looked in my spray paint stash for the darkest grey I had in the paint cabinet.  Rustoleum in the color granite and in a satin finish.  This paint required no primer and would bond to plastic.  Score!

The first thing I did was lightly sand them to remove the glossy finish and any dirt that might be on them. I gave the pipes multiple light coats and by the time I finished, I think it was 4 coats.

I also spray painted the pipes that come out of the house.  I taped off the area where the pipes would need to be glued together so that no paint would get in the way of the gluing.

I waited a day to let the paint fully cure before re installing them.  We dry fitted them first and made some little marks so that once the glue was on the pipes we could line up the marks.  The primer and glue that you use to connect PVC pipe sets up fast so don't dilly dally.

What do you think?  Now if I had my druthers, I would prefer the pipes to be on the back of the house but we think this was a good way to make it blend in.  It's all about compromise.
Now if I had my druthers, I'd have my new window installed in place of that ugly monstrosity of a bay window.  The new double hung windows cannot get here fast enough.
noun plural druth·ers \ˈdrə-thərz\
: the power or opportunity to choose

Full Definition of DRUTHERS

:  free choice :  preference —used especially in the phrase if one had one's druthers

Monday, October 19, 2015

Checking Your Electric and Gas Meter

Waaaaaaaaaaaay back when we first purchased this house our electric bills were HUGE!  The previous owners were paying $800 a month for gas and electric during the winter.  There was absolutely no way we were going to pay that, so we started doing a little investigating and we soon found out why they were paying so much.

First let's start with the electric meter.  Do a visual inspection.  Does the meter spin fast even during the day when very little electrical is being used?  Does the meter spin fast for a rotation and then slow for a rotation?

Next, go to your electrical panel and flip the main disconnect.  But first, shut off all electronics, furnace, and wait for the fridge to stop running.  Go outside and look at your electrical meter.  The meter should be at a stop and not running because you are using zero electricity.

Our meter was spinning like a top.  We made a call to our utility company and scheduled an appointment for a replacement.  Once the meter is replaced, contact your utility and ask that they make an adjustment to your bill because of the defective meter.  Over the next 6 months we received numerous credits to reflect the overage that we were charged because of the defective meter.  They base the credit on your new usage and extrapolate what you probably used while the defective meter was spinning like a top.

I was told by the 'utility guy' that sometimes the meter loses it ground wire internally and that causes the over and erratic spinning.  We perform this little test every fall to make sure we are not being over charged.

While 'the guy' was changing the electric meter I asked him if he could change out the gas meter.  He asked me if it was leaking.  I said "no, it is just ugly."  It was horrible.  It had a huge cover that didn't fit properly and because it is in the front of the house I wanted it to be as small and unassuming as possible.

So what did I do then?  I lied.  I said that on a few occasions I did smell a 'little' natural gas.  I am not condoning this technique but I was desperate.  So the 'electric guy' put in a call for a 'gas guy' to immediately come over.  It was then that I kind of started worrying.

In about 30 minutes the 'gas guy' showed up.  I told him the meter was ugly but I only smelled gas a couple of times (more lies....sorry).   He took out some soapy water and squirted all the joints.  If there is a leak the soap will form bubbles.  Nothing......bummer.  He said "yes, it's ugly but I can't change it unless it is leaking."  We then started talking about the house restoration for around 15 minutes.  I looked over at the meter and there were big plumes of tiny tiny bubbles. Whew.  The leak was small and that is why the bubbles were tiny.

The 'gas guy' said "yes, you have a leak and I can change the meter."  Hallelujah!  When he started changing out the meter he found a valve in the open position that was attache to an underground small copper tubing.  Gas was flowing through this copper pipe 24/7 and 365 days a year.  The copper tubing went to a long ago dismantled greenhouse and supplied the gas heater.  This was an explosion waiting to happen.

So I lied, but I guess it was for the greater good.....right??  I'll say an extra Hail Mary or two.  Do you think that will help?  Probably not.

Since then we perform these two little tests every fall to make sure we are not over paying and that we are not leaking any natural gas and wasting energy.

FYI Sometimes you will smell a little natural gas when your furnace is exhausting.  This is natural but should be slight.  If it is more than slight call your 'furnace guy' to inspect and adjust your furnace to run efficiently.

Tomorrow I will explain how we disguised our furnace exhaust outlet pipes.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

So Much Fruit

When it comes to fruit, our trees are either over producers or slackers.  This year they were over achievers and we have so much fruit it is unreal.

I trimmed and thinned the apple and pear trees right after they blossomed in the spring.  But I think because we had so much rain all during the summer we didn't lose any fruit at all.  The apples have never been so large.  The pear tree broke a large limb because it has so many pears on it.

The apple tree that I thought was a Granny Smith turns out to be a Yellow Delicious.  This tree has never really produced anything in the past.  What little fruit it would get, usually dropped before it matured so I never really got a chance to taste or look at the end result.

When I purchased all the apple trees 8 years ago, I know I purchased both a Granny Smith and a Yellow Delicious.  We lost several trees and I thought the Yellow Delicious was one of them.  I guess not.  The tree is loaded with fruit this year and not only does it taste like a Yellow Delicious but they look like a Yellow Delicious and nothing like a Granny Smith.

Tomorrow we are going to pick all the fruit that is left on all of the trees.  There are a lot of apples that have fallen on the ground.  We will probably just pick those up and throw them in the field for the deer and other critters to eat.

Now I have to think of ways to use all these apples and pears.  R likes the pear and custard pie that I have baked in the past.  I like crock pot apple sauce and who doesn't love a mile high apple pie?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Enhancing the Decorative Vent

I've mention the decorative vent that is located at the top of the south side wall and on both ends of the garden shed.  It's a cute detail but it needed pumping up a little so we dug into the scrap wood pile and added a 1X4 behind the support bracket and a 1X2 to the edge of the perimeter of the vent, kind of like a frame.

Here is a before's kind of lost.  Of course it would look better painted white with dark grey shingles but it doesn't stand out.

But it looks much better like this.......

Today we worked on re installing the gutters and tomorrow we will finish up with the downspouts. Quitting time comes around quickly when it gets dark by 6-630PM.
The window guy was here today to take measurements.  It will be several days before we receive the estimate and drawings.  I really cannot wait much longer to get this out of the way.  It is holding us up on the shingles, painting the exterior, and painting the interior of the family room.  Plus, I absolutely cannot stand to look at those ugly windows any longer.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Newest Gallon of Paint Doesn't Match

Yesterday I painted the short wall where the gas meter is located.  I opened a new can of paint, stirred for a long time to make sure it was mixed well and then started painting.  I immediately thought it looked light and a a little on the blue side but I know paint dries darker so I thought I would give it time.

I know that grey can look different under different levels of light so I waited until mid day under full sun before I looked at it.  It is different.  There's no warm tone in this particular gallon of paint.  It's very obvious although the photo doesn't really show it.  I asked R to come and look at the paint.  I didn't say why I wanted him to look at it, but even before we got to the front of the house he said "the paint doesn't match".  If he can see it, then it is really obvious.

So I am glad that I caught it now before I painted the next wall.  I guess I am going to have to go back and tell them it doesn't match and get another gallon.  I've never had this problem before and now I am going to be paranoid every time I open a new can.

Since I couldn't paint today, I shoveled hard clay.  The south side of the barn has hard clay next to the foundation.  I am sure it was from when the dug the new foundation when they moved the old barn to this new location.  The clay is so bad you can only grow weeds in it and I want to plant tall phlox. So the clay has to go.  

I have almost all of the clay dirt removed, maybe 3 more wheelbarrows.  Then I'll fill with new top soil and maybe amend it a little with peat moss and composted manure.  Anything has to be better than hard clay.  I'm sure it will grow wonderfully big dandelions.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Spray Painting to Look Like Granite

Yesterday I started priming shingles but it started sprinkling so I had to cut it short.  The rain quit early this morning but the shingles were too damp today to continue with priming so we moved on to something else.

Our house has two furnaces so we have two exhausts for the the two furnaces.  Unfortunately they are on the front of the house and were poorly installed.  Despite being right next to each other, they were of different heights and stuck out from the building at different lengths.  I guess the installer didn't own a tape measure.

R cut them off just before we replaced the shingles and now it is time to put them back correctly. Today we cut all the pieces and dry fitted them together to make sure our measurements were correct. But before we glue them together, we want to lightly sand all the PVC exhaust pieces.  Of course you always sand and clean up the area where you glue them together but we also need to rough up the entire exterior of the pieces because I plan on spray painting the exhaust grey to match the house. Anything to make it blend and disappear.

I also planted a pink hydrangea that should grow to about 4 ft ,which is just enough to hide the gas meter.  It should do well in this location as the dirt was quite fluffy and dark and I didn't find any clay when I dug the hole.  This area is also near the end of the downspout so it should get a fair amount of rain water.

Last but not least is the freebie that got a spray paint make over.  R was helping a friend move and they were going to throw away a short gazing ball stand made of resin/plastic and a clear crackle glass gazing ball.  The base was a bluish green and the solar gazing ball needs two rechargable batteries.  R thought that I could at least use it for one of my gazing balls so he brought it home.

I gave it two coats of spray paint with primer included in the color granite.  After the second coat I waited 5 minutes before spraying it with a speckled spray paint that makes an item look like granite.

This was my first time using this so it was kind of trial and error.  I tried shaking the can but could not get it to rattle so I tested it first on a piece of card board and I'm glad that I did.  This product is definitely a less is more thing.  Light short bursts of spray.  You can see the two test areas.  The top one is too heavy AND the bottom one is just right.

I went around the piece twice using very short bursts and keeping the spray moving.  The second pass was to fill in light areas so the finish is consistent all over.  What do you think?  Better than that bluish green.  Tomorrow I'll buy a couple of new rechargable batteries and we will see if the solar panel still works. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Planting, Prepping, and 5 no shows

I might have mentioned that I listed on Craigslist a bunch of items that I had stored in my barn.  Oh my gosh the number of replies I received saying they wanted and had to have it.  Well in the end, it resulted in 5 'no shows', one very angry young lady who said it was not fair that I wouldn't hold the item until Saturday because it wasn't her fault she had to work, and 1 person who did show up.  These were Christmas decorations and at this rate it will be July 4th 2016 before I get through the list if I gave everyone 3 or 4 days.

In the past I have tried to be accommodating but it always ended with 'can you deliver it?'  I've heard so many sob stories and it's always the same problem broken leg, cancer, or their car is broke.  Listen I don't wish the big C on anyone, but if they truly had cancer, they had it before they contacted me and should have had a plan of action.  The broken leg thing kills me because every time I have gotten screwed by an eBay seller who didn't ship, it was always 'couldn't get to the post office because I have a broken leg' excuse.  Again, shouldn't they have a plan of action if they are going to sell online? I had a Craigslist buyer tell me his leg was broken and could I deliver.  When I said 'no' he showed up with two good legs and driving a car.  He had no shame what so ever.

So now I keep it very business like, no favors, no special deals, just here's the price, first person with cash, once sold I remove listing, and no contacting people saying 'sorry the item sold before it got to you on the list'.   That one bit me in the butt, too.  A young girl was furious that I sold something she wanted and that she contacted me when the item was still available because I said I remove items as soon as it sells.  She just couldn't understand that yes, she contacted me when the item was available but someone before her bought it first and I deleted the item as he was pulling out of the driveway. She just kept writing back to me saying that the item was hers because the listing was still up when she contacted me.  I am shocked how people can be over a 5 or 10 dollar item.

Because I was suppose to have all these people picking up items today, I had to do things where I could stop and start again.  So I planted all the sale plants except for the phlox and the hydrangea plant.  I dug up several old dead shrub stumps that finally rotted away enough that I could dig them up.  That leaves about 15 more shrub stumps but it was satisfying to get these out of the way because they were highly visible.

I also used the flat shovel to remove the sod where I am enlarging the flower bed in front of the family room window.  The birds nest spruce had overgrown the bed and I needed to make the edge of the bed a little more mower friendly with less severe inside corners.

The recent rain made it easier to scrape the sod up off the soil with the flat shovel. The rain has also made my grass seed sprout and it's filling in nicely.  See the round area of sparser grass in the photo. That's the area where I filled in a deep hole with dirt from the asphalt reveal behind the barn.

I also ran to Ace to buy some PVC primer and glue so we can finish up the furnace exhaust re install. So while I was at Ace I also purchased some top soil, manure, and peat moss for the south side of the barn where I plan to plant phlox.  The dirt is almost all hard clay so I've been slowly removing it so the phlox will have a better environment for their roots.  The south side gets quite hot so I need to add something to hold some moisture between waterings.

On the agenda for tomorrow is sand the corner board by the gas meter, caulk, prime, and paint the small area where the meter is located.  If there is time, we will glue the PVC back together for the furnace exhaust.

I'll also relocate the big rocks that edge my newly widened bed in front of the family room window. I did get the concrete splash pad in place and about 3 big rocks put in place before I stopped today.
AND.....I dug up more broken glass today while planting.  I have tried to keep all the broken glass and pottery that I have found.  I swear they just dug holes and threw stuff in.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Where's the sunshine?

Today was my first full day of normal activity and I was so hoping that it would be a sun filled day. Sadly it was drizzly despite the 0% chance of rain.  So it was another day of small projects.

1. We set the slate pieces in front of the hives.  So much hard clay.  Two days of rain and the ground was like concrete.  This area is close to the well head and I think this clay was brought up when they drilled the well.  It's the only place in the yard where the clay is the top layer.  Most of the time you don't get clay until about 10 inches down.

2. Planted  3 Turtlehead chelone lyonii  plants behind the bee hive bird bath.

3. Transplanted 3 ruby sedums that were growing by the driveway pillars to the area in front of the bee hive bird bath.  These plants were getting overrun by the large Autumn Joy sedum plants so maybe they will do better now that they do not have to compete.

4. Cleaned up the wood pile area.  Two loads of wood left today but there is still more to cut up so they both promised to come back.  Yippee.

5. Hauled out a bunch of stuff out of the top floor of the barn.  Hopefully it will all sell fast on Craigslist.  Outdoor Christmas items, a pair of kitchen chairs, and some metal snack trays.

Here is a close up photo of the Stokes Aster that I planted last week.  I need to buy more fall blooming plants.  My yard has very few flowers after mid August except for my Knock Out roses and the honeybees don't seem to be very interested in them.
We also stopped by a flagpole business but they only install short aluminum flagpoles and that is not what we want or need.  So the search continues.  R really wants to rent a boom truck and so it ourselves.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, no.  I can't imagine wrestling a 30 ft steel flagpole without breaking at least one window and/or either one of us.

Tomorrow I am going to spray around the beehive again with the vinegar/epsom salt/Dawn solution. I have sprayed twice already but after three weeks everything starts to green up again.  I really have not had very good luck with this recipe.  It appears to kills the vegetation above the ground but doesn't really affect the roots.  But Round Up is out of the question when you have honeybees.

Honeybee Fun Facts

Foraging bees have to fly about 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey, visiting around 2 million flowers. 

If the queen honey bee is removed from the hive, within 15 minutes, the rest of the colony know about it. That's faster than TMZ!!!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ladder Accessories for the New Ladder

I've been MIA this last week because I've been sick.  The sinus infection won and today is the first time since Monday that I have felt well enough to do anything.  So while I laid in bed with a throbbing head, R was busy cutting up the rest of the tree trunk and large logs. Hopefully this week, ALL the people who said they wanted wood, will actually come and get it.

While I was bedridden for 5 days, I made some observations and lists...lots of lists.

1. There is absolutely nothing new to watch that is worth giving up time to watch.  I basically watch the same reruns over and over.  #thankgod4bigbang

2. If you watch enough cable news you will at the very least pull all your hair out.  None of them can stick to just the facts.  Speaking of facts....those are optional.

3. I tried watching some of the new shows but I guess my funny bone was affected by my sinus infection.  Two Broke Girls.....not funny and really not original.  It's a 2015 LaVerne and Shirley.

4.  The Grinder with Rob Lowe.  That's a keeper.

5.  Thank heaven for SimplyJune.  If you can't wait until January to watch Downton Abby, watch now after it airs in the UK.  They update late Sunday or early Monday.

6.  R brought home 3 months worth of new releases pamphlets from the movie rental place.  I found one movie.

7. If you put on new nail polish on Monday and then get sick, your polish will still look good on Friday.

I made lists of things we need to do before winter, a list of things to do this winter, and a list of jobs that will need to be hired out.

Called a wood window business and they have yet to call me back.  The flagpole people showed up when we weren't home but yesterday sent me an estimate for a new flagpole nothing like what we have and then another estimate for our flagpole that is almost exactly the opposite of what I asked for when I called them originally.  First of all, I spelled my name but yet it was spelled wrong.  I said I did not want the flagpole painted but yet there is a charge for $250 for painting the flagpole.  Then a $125.00 charge for a brass ball when our flagpole has a brass ball already.  When I called I made sure to give her all the info including my email address so that I could cover all my bases but it was like it went in one ear and out the other.  This is exactly why we do everything ourselves.  It just isn't worth the hassle to deal with businesses who can't get their #$%^ together.  But of course they are the first to say the economy is screwed up and the little guy just can't get ahead.  Nope.  Some people just should not be in business. #offmysoapbox

On Monday we picked up the ladder booties and stabilizing bar.  We've installed the rubber booties and assembled the stabilizing bar but haven't attached it to the ladder yet.  Maybe tomorrow.

The rubber booties were fairly inexpensive at $8.98 for a pair.  These will protect your siding or shingles from scratches that the ladder could leave behind.  The ladder covers just slide over the ends of the extension ladder.  Easy peasey.  My father always used old tube socks and duct tape to hold them in place but for the money I think this is a better way to go.  More protection and they won't wear out like the tube socks.
The Quick Click Ladder Stabilizer required a little assembly but nothing difficult.  This was the more expensive stabilizer but we liked the quick click option because we can quickly move it to the other ladder without any tools.  It's cost was $42.76.  Both items were manufactured by the ladder company Werner.

Of course there was no shipping because we did in store pick up and we used Ebates for a rebate of an additional 1%.  
I'll let you know how they perform after we use them.