Category Archives: Housekeeping – Maintenance

Thoughts on a Thursday 9-12-2019

I’ve had a productive morning.

RK Preserve Carpet Cleaning

I vacuumed the carpeted parts of the first floor this morning, vacuuming up at LEAST one dog’s worth of hair, and maybe a cat, too. It amazes (and disgusts) me how MUCH hair I vacuum up each time, even though I’m vacuuming more these days than I ever have before. It’s a miracle that we actually have two dogs and two cats left AND that none of them is bald! I’m liking our 4 goldfish more and more – THEY don’t shed!

 

Jolly Gardener

I’ve told you that we had 2 of the 14 planters we built around the yard 30 years ago collapse. We rebuilt one of them, and had the second one rebuilt by someone who knows what he’s doing. (It’s beautiful.)  My husband worked to make and attach the PVC irrigation system stuff we needed in order to hook the two planters up to our system in the front yard. (It was when he was attaching the PVC pipe to the newest planter that he fell and skinned his leg badly. I put it on my list to use bags of potting soil to fill up the newest planter.

It was the morning after he fell on July 22nd that we discovered he had suffered a stroke. Obviously, we have had other priorities since then, and I’m happy to report that my husband is essentially back to being his normal ornery self now. This morning I decided I would fill up the planter. I filled the wheelbarrow with four 40-pound bags of potting soil and trucked them over to the planter. Our driveway detector went off, and my husband came out to see who was here. He slit the bags and we dumped them into the planter, then got four MORE 40-pound bags in order to finish the job. Now both rebuilt planters are ready to receive new plants, probably in the spring.

 

We drove down to get the mail (we have a STEEP 650+ foot driveway down to the road where our mailbox is.)

 

After we got the mail, there was a truck coming down the road the other way. He stopped, obviously wanting to say something to us. When we pulled up next to him, he said, “I’m happy to see you two. I just wanted to tell you I LOVE yawl’s mailbox signs. I come by here every day looking to see what you have up there next. Yawl are really creative.” I thanked him, telling him that he had made our day – week – month – year – and maybe life – with his kind words.

This was about an hour ago. Can you see me STILL grinning? We never pictured ourselves creating things together. We have had a blast fighting over what to create, how to make it, how to paint it, etc. We have SUCH fun with this. We change the decoration twice a month, so are getting ready to put the next one up on the 15th, weather permitting. Now, each time we change the decoration, I’ll picture this NICE, NICE man who took the time to tell us we give him a smile when he passes our driveway. :0)

What a WONDERFUL morning!

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Thoughts on a Sunday

Jayanand Govindaraj via Robert J. Bennett – LinkedIn

 

Hello!

I’m getting a late start on blog posts today because our Internet keeps going on the fritz.

My main thoughts today were to play ‘fruit-basket-upset’ with my priorities for the day.

We got groceries this morning, and I put a roast in the crock pot for tonight.

THEN, when the Internet wasn’t cooperating, I went up to my art room – a thing that got lost in the shuffle yesterday – and started painting another tee!

NEXT, I’ll get my yoga practice in for the day, and

THEN I’ll tackle the weed whacking and clean up after my husband mows later.

Anything ELSE that gets accomplished will be gravy.

 

I hope that YOU are having a great Sunday, too.

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Filed under exercise, Gardening, Housekeeping - Maintenance, playing in my art room, taking care of yourself, Thoughts on a ________

The Heat Index Died

Iowa Environmental Mesonet-Iowa State Univ

Our actual temperature right now is 91 degrees F. The humidity is 63%.  That means we’re between the “Extreme Caution” and “Danger” areas of the chart. Oh, JOY.

 

Dump a Day

I am drinking a glass of ice water after Session 2 outside. I cut down a BUNCH of weed trees across the front yard, but I kept the session short due to the heat vs my ‘age seniority.’ :0)

 

Dump a Day

We don’t actually have window units in our house, but I couldn’t resist the picture of this kitty trying to cool off.

I have one more session in me today, and I’ll cut down as many more weed trees I can.

Otherwise, I’ll save more exercise for my yoga session this afternoon.

Did I tell you I’ll be one of the loudest voices cheering when fall finally arrives?

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Fighting with a Tree

Home Guides-SFGate

I just came in from half an hour fighting with a tree.

We have a used (new-to-us) riding lawn mower. My husband does the mowing and I do the other associated stuff, like weed whacking, edging, leaf blowing. We have been TRYING to get outside and walk in the evenings (though it’s only about 50% successful thus far). We were on one of our walks and my husband griped about a tree that is off the edge of the part of our land we mow, but whose branches encroach into the area, making my husband have to duck each time he goes under it to mow that part of the yard.

Today I grabbed some really big loppers (longer and larger than those shown in this picture) and attacked the lower branches of the tree. Some of the branches came down easily (usually on my head!) Others – even with the wonderful loppers – it was all I could do to bring the branches down.

I lopped off everything I could reach, tossing the branches down the slope into the uncivilized part of the ridgeline.

We’ll see how successful I was. If I need to do more, I’ll take a high stepping stool we have next time.

I’m wondering if he’ll even notice, since he won’t have to duck. :0)

NEXT up (after I rest a bit more) are the weed trees that have sprung up along the civilized part of the FRONT yard!

 

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Happy Reunion

We have a driveway that is 650+ feet down to the road. It is graveled and STEEP. Happily, we don’t have any trouble getting down our driveway and up again, but some people do. It’s particularly bad when we have had the combination of lots and lots of rain and delivery trucks trying to get up and down.

We’ve been in bad shape now for several months now.

We used to have a wonderful man, Tommy Sandifer,  who came and used his tractor to smooth things out for us. He became very ill and was unable to help us anymore, but his son, Eric, took over for him and helps us from time to time. Eric is extremely busy though, and bringing a tractor out to help us is time-consuming and costly for him.

We called several weeks ago, asking Eric for help again. A combination of his being too busy and our rain storms have caused lots of delays.

We were delighted to hear our driveway alarm going nuts, showing a guy on a tractor there to heal our driveway – but the BEST part was that it was our original man, Tommy, the father! It’s been over 2 years since he felt well enough to help us. My husband and I both shook his hand and told him how happy we were to see him. He said he doesn’t get out much now, but he felt well enough to come and help us this morning.  He proudly showed us the new blade he got to go on the back of the tractor.

My husband and I just went down the driveway to get our mail and test the driveway fix. It is beautiful!

I’m happy our driveway is much easier to negotiate now, but I’m happier that Tommy seems to be doing well. :0)

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Pet Peeve

Madeleine Jacobs

One of my pet peeves is products that don’t work the way they promise. I know, I am old enough to KNOW better – I just can’t quit HOPING that one day, one of the products will actually work.

I just used Clean Shower. It says you spray everything down, then walk away. I did that. Twice. The dirt and soap scum was still there. Today I will take good old Comet, scrub the shower down, and do the same for our tub, toilet, basins, countertop, etc.

I’m the ultimate lazy person. I LOVE the idea of some way to get out of scrubbing.  To this end – the ‘Eternal Optimist’ searched the net for shower cleaners today and ordered the top two products on the ‘BEST list – supposedly from customer reviews.

The top was “Rain-X Shower Door Cleaner.” Since we have used Rain-X on our car windshield, I am hopeful that it MIGHT perform as described –

  • Provides an extreme, dH22:L23deep clean on shower doors leaving behind a sparkling shine
  • Specially formulated to clean soap scum and hard water stains on shower glass
  • An ideal cleaning prep for Rain-X Shower Door Water Repellent
  • For glass surfaces only

The other product I ordered was “Method Daily Shower Spray Cleaner, Eucalyptus Mint”

  • Contains (1) 28 ounce bottle of shower cleaning spray
  • Naturally derived daily shower cleaner
  • Use daily. No scrubbing required
  • Non toxic, plant based powergreen technology dissolves and prevents soap scum
  • Cleaning spray works on showers, tile, fixtures, glass tubs
Since it’s rainy today, I have switched to my inside to-do list – including laundry, stripping beds and changing sheets, scrubbing our master bathroom, dusting and vacuuming up there.
I am HOPING that once I have things clean, I can use the two new products arriving soon to KEEP them that way – without all the scrubbing!

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Happy Fish?

Because of life getting in the way lately, I’ve gotten behind on my responsibilities around the house.   Yesterday I finally vacuumed our first floor – first the tiled areas and then the carpeted ones. I have a very nice vacuum. The only thing it could do better would be for it to run itself. (We actually HAD one of the round turn-it-on-and-it-runs-around type thingies at one time. It would regularly get stuck under something or wedge itself into a corner, or choke itself to death on the dog and cat hair, so we gave it up.)

Another thing I had neglected was the aquarium. I finally cleaned that out yesterday, putting in different decorations, clean water, new filters, etc. The fish didn’t say anything, but breathed sighs of relief when I put them back in their now clean home.

 

Here you can see all four of the fish. We have one that has gotten huge – they were all about the same size when I bought them – about an inch long. The largest one is now at least three inches long in the body, and then has a long tail. All seem to be doing fine.

 

Somehow, the girl-in-the-bathtub’s feet broke off quite a while back. I glued them back on and the fish don’t seem to mind it that she isn’t perfect.

I’m not sure if the weather will cooperate and I can finish getting the garden back in control or if I’ll have to tackle more projects in the house today.

The best thing is that we have Lunch Bunch – our every Friday meal with long time good friends in about an hour. Our son will go with us today, and it’s been years since our friends have seen him. I look forward to the reunion.

Have a happy day!

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Victory

 

I can finally declare victory for the day in the project of shoveling the saved potting soil back into the newly rebuilt planter!

I had just hauled the bricks that held the edges of the tarp together to the area behind the well house when my husband fell. (He is doing better – though his leg is pretty skinned up and we found a new little cut on the bottom of his big toe). He has rested this afternoon, eaten, had cold tea, read a whole book, and is now thinking about taking a nap.)

I decided – since the weather forecast is for possible rain tomorrow morning – that I wanted to get the potting soil into the planter by the end of the day. It took several short sessions, with lots of panting, water drinking and resting in-between, but I did it. I had just taken the tarp out to our burn barrel and was walking back to the house when my husband came out with both doggies.

He didn’t know I had been shoveling, and so was properly surprised that the job was done. The tarp you see in this picture is now gone, and a bare spot on the lawn is all that is left of the ‘save-the-potting-soil’ project. I still need to weed whack, since we couldn’t do a very good job without damaging the tarp, and I need to add a few more bags of potting soil to top off the planter, but basically it is ready to plant!  We have leftover bricks from the project, but we’ll decide what to do with them later.

I’ll take more pics when we’ve found some good things to put in the two planters.

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And a Miracle Occurred

About 30 years ago, my husband and I, with the help of our then 10-year-old son, built a bunch of brick planters around the house. We did that because we live on top of a ridge line, and there is basically very little ‘soil.’ If you try to dig a hole, you hit rock almost immediately. The only soil we have we had trucked in when we built the house so that we could have a lawn. We ended up with 14 brick planters of many shapes and sizes around the house so that we could have bushes and flowers.

At the end of the winter, all of a sudden the planters on either end of the front of the house collapsed. We’re not sure why. Maybe the mortar we used on those two was bad. Maybe the hydrangea plants’ roots undermined the strength of the bricks. For whatever reason, a whole section of each planter came down.

We spent a lot of time and effort knocking the rest of the bricks down and hauling them behind our well house. We got down to the last round of bricks, but even with a sledge hammer, couldn’t budge them. We cleaned up the area as much as possible, shoveling the potting soil onto a tarp and then wrapping the soil up, hoping to save it.

 

 

 

 

Either end of the house has looked like the photo above, with the bottom round of bricks on the slab we poured, waiting for the rebuild. We looked and looked for brick layers, but everyone was busy. This is too small a job for most workmen. But we HAD the bricks, we HAD the mortar, and all we needed was someone who knew what they were doing to put in the labor to do the rebuild. After calling and talking to a LOT of people, we finally had one man who would come up and give us an estimate for the two planters. His estimate was $700.  We gulped, thanked him for his time, and proceeded to build the planter on the far end of the house ourselves.

We knew we were in over our heads, but we decided that we would mix up ONE bag of mortar and see how many bricks we could lay. It turned out that we could do one round of bricks per bag of mortar. So we used one bag each day, laid the one round of bricks, and cleaned up, doing this for 5 days.

 

 

I’m embarrassed to show you the job we did, but it DOES hold the potting soil, which we shoveled back into it from the tarp.  We cleaned up the area around the planter as best we could. My husband modified the irrigation system pipe, wiring the ends of it to rebar at opposite ends of the planter.

Happily, I learned of a local brick layer on Facebook recently. It took us a long time to finally get him out here, but he came yesterday and gave us an estimate on rebuilding the second planter for us – one that we could afford – AND he would come today at 8am!

He didn’t actually come until 9:30 this morning. I had all but given up, but then, suddenly, he was coming up the driveway. I made sure he knew where bottles of cold water were, where a handy bathroom was, and got our wheelbarrow and a cement hoe.  He started to work immediately. We went to town to get one more bag of mortar so that he could finish the job, and he finished right around 1:30 this afternoon.

 

 

 

As you can tell from this photo my husband took, Jose did a really nice job. He cleaned things up well, too.

His name is Jose Aguirre. His phone number is 479-285-3665.  He can do new construction or repair things done with stone or brick. He is a nice, hardworking man who faced his intense dislike of our steep driveway, driving up here TWICE for the job. He really thought his vehicle wouldn’t make it, but it did. He also had trouble going down, skidding on the gravel at the bottom of the driveway. I suggested that he slow way down toward the bottom, EASE onto the brakes. I could tell he was dreading driving back down again after finishing the job, but he handled that, too. :0)

I got a bunch of his business cards. I will distribute them around Greenwood wherever it seems good. I will also write a blurb on the Greenwood AR section of Facebook. He is honest, trustworthy, hard-working, and does a beautiful job. I highly recommend him.

Tomorrow my husband and I will shovel the potting soil into the rebuilt planter and my husband will make a better irrigation pipe for this planter, too. THEN, maybe next week, we can have the fun of seeing what is available at the nursery to plant!

 

 

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Good News!!!!!

I told you that two of the 14 brick planters we have built up on top of our ridge line collapsed suddenly. We knocked the rest of the bricks down and tried to prepare ourselves to rebuild them.

We found that 25 years or so makes a huge difference in our stamina and ability to work in the heat. We ended up mixing one bag of mortar each day, laying one layer of bricks with it, then cleaning up for the day. We did this for five days, finally completely the first of the two planters. We put the potting soil we had saved back into the planter. My husband recently redid the plastic PVC pipe irrigation piece for the first planter, so technically it’s ready to plant. With a heat index of 105-110+ degrees, we have ignored the problem.

I’ve been trying to find a real brick layer to rebuild the planters. We had the bricks and the mortar, so it was their time, labor, and expertise we were paying for. The only man who came to give us an estimate knocked our socks off with how much he would charge for the two planters. We told him, ‘no thank you,’ and built the first one ourselves.

 

As you can see, it looks pretty awful.  It DOES hold the potting soil. The picture doesn’t show the new irrigation piece, but it’s ready for planting now.

 

This is the second planter. We have been mowing and weed whacking around this the whole spring and summer, hoping to find a brick layer.

FINALLY, yesterday a wonderful man named Jose Aguirre came up and looked at things. He rejected the mortar we had bought, both the sand version and the one with small pebbles, and gave us an estimate. I was overjoyed that it was reasonable, AND we can do it!!!!

He will come out tomorrow at 8 in the morning to do the job!

I can’t tell you how relieved I am that my husband and I don’t have to do it. I was trying to gear up for it mentally, thinking that when we start getting up at 6am each morning  (trying to adapt for the school year with Alessandro, our 16-year-old soccer playing student from Italy comes to live with us and go to school this year, starting August 6th) – that we could get right out and lay one row of bricks each day while the temperature was still in the 80’s.

If our wonderful luck holds, tomorrow we will have a newly rebuilt, good-looking planter to enjoy!

I’ll take pics. :0)

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Fresh Fish

My fish didn’t complain, but I have neglected them since Mother Nature fried so many of our things. I finally took the time today to vacuum their aquarium, put in fresh scenery, and nice fresh water.

 

The largest goldfish is almost too large to swim through the barrels, but the other three do it regularly.

 

Things will settle a bit more, but the fish definitely have a new lease on life today.

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YAHOOOOO!

 

Am I excited about my new clothes washer? You’d better believe I am!!!!

Since Mother Nature fried a LOT of our stuff about 3 weeks ago, including our clothes washer,  I’ve been washing clothes in our kitchen sink. I almost looked online to see if I could find the old washing boards people used to use. Needless to say, we have a LOT of laundry that is waiting for attention.

The washer was delivered this morning by two really nice men. They had a big truck (but not a semi). They BACKED it up the driveway! Our driveway is steep. It is 650+ feet from the road to our house. And they managed to BACK the truck up to the top. The first thing I said was that I was so impressed with their driving.

They took the old washer and pedestal out. Then they told us that they couldn’t install the washer because we wanted to use the old pedestal.

SO – They brought the pedestal back inside, then brought the new washer in, and went over with my husband what we would need to do to install it.

We had to lay the new washer down on its side. (The big dog bed was right there, so that made a good cushion.) We then screwed the old pedestal onto the new washer with much gnashing of teeth and a few bad words. We then managed to stand up the washer on the old pedestal, then move it carefully toward the place it would live. My husband took the ‘moving bolt thingies” out of the back of the washer, attached the power cord and the water hoses. We jockeyed it back and forth a little at a time, until it was in the right place.

We threw in all the towels that were used in the getting-rid-of-the-old and installing-the-new, threw in some soap and turned it on. It actually has a special cycle for towels! It hummed a bit. We re-read the manual. We were supposed to HOLD the start button down longer. It hummed again. Then my husband said more bad words because he figured out he forgot to turn on the water.

We turned the machine off, jockeyed it out far enough so he could turn on the water, then jockeyed it back into place.

Finally we had to put the drawer back in the pedestal. (That screws into place on runners.) The inside of the drawer was disgraceful. (did I mention that I’m an awful housekeeper?) so I got a wet cloth, mopped it out, dried it and then put stuff back in. (I actually like the pedestals because of the height they add to the front loading washer and dryer, rather than because of any storage, so the drawer probably hadn’t been opened since we got the set in 2005….)

The washer is now running happily, about half way finished with the towels. I have about a hundred (more or less) loads left to do – gathered over the past three weeks – so guess what I’ll be doing over the next few days!

I am truly delighted to have a washer going again. I’ve become spoiled and I really missed it.

It will be GREAT when all is clean again!

 

YAHOO!

 

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Garage Project is Finished!

Just to officially document that on OCCASION my area in the garage looks pretty reasonable, here are pics of the finished project for the day –

 

I hate to admit it, but usually I have trouble walking around in this area.

 

 

See – there IS a counter under all the ‘stuff.’  It’s a NICE counter, too – when you can SEE it….

Enough for today. It’s really too hot outside. I hope that you are indoors and comfortable.

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Today’s Project – Cleaning Out My Area in the Garage

Imgur

I just came in from Session # 1 out in the garage. I look a lot like the poor kitty above. Picture an old lady with paper towels, a red face, and a BIG glass of ice water….

The weather folks say the heat index today is between 103 and 106, and I believe them!  I’m going to rest and drink a LOT of water before doing another session.

My area in the garage is the catch-all for everything that doesn’t have a permanent home. This includes cases of bottled water, cases of sugar-free pop, gallons of Zero Peach Iced Tea, and then the tools we have ready when we finally run out of excuses not to start the rebuild on the second brick planter that collapsed, plus bird feeders, plant food, bug killers, weed killers, planting tools, stools, roll-around stools, plastic buckets, bags of quik-crete, a new seed and ‘stuff’ spreader, my elliptical trainer, etc. etc., etc. (Aside – are you old enough that what I just said reminds you of Yul Brynner from “The King and I?”)

The other day I moved a bunch of stuff out to the greenhouse, but if you didn’t watch me do it, you wouldn’t know by the amount of stuff still stashed here. It’ll probably take two or three more sessions to make some sense of the area.  If I don’t die off of heat stroke before finishing, I’ll take some pics of the ‘healed’ area so you’ll know it’s clean and organized SOMETIMES. :0)

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Freezer Diving

Webstaurant Store

This freezer is very similar to ours. Ours has three heavy plastic bins that hang across the top.

Since things tend to go INTO this freezer and never be seen again, today’s project is to clean it out and reorganize it for actual cooking again.

For those of you who don’t know – and can’t imagine anyone having a problem like this – my husband and I have been trying to lose the lard for a bit over a year, starting mid April of 2018. We signed up for Nutrisystem. Except for planned cooking or go-out meals (one each for breakfast, lunch and dinner each week)  I haven’t been cooking. We stopped the Nutrisystem program and  have recently started the Keto eating plan. I like the idea of eating real world meals again, with leftovers, etc., but have to gear up for it.

I’ve finished PHASE I of the project this morning. Can you believe I had stuff in there from 2013? I KNOW!  :0/  I filled TWO doubled leaf bags!

I’m resting now, gearing up for PHASE II, which is trying to make sense of what is in there and reorganizing it so I can find things quickly and stuff hopefully won’t be ‘lost in the ozone’ again.  I’m hoping that I can actually move some stuff that is in our fridge freezer out there, making space for more frozen veggies and fruit INSIDE.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day.

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Pantry is Finished!

It’s far from perfect, but MUCH cleaner and more organized than it was. It was almost like a treasure hunt. I found things I didn’t know I had!

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Cleaning Out the Pantry – AGAIN

Contemporary Closets

I’m lucky. I have a ROOM we use as our pantry. Being lucky is sometimes a double-edged sword, though. Having ROOM results (in OUR house) in things going in and never coming back out.

Ours doesn’t look as bad as this one, but right now ours looks as if a bomb had struck. I’m trying to do a combination of things with the clean out and reorganization –

  • get rid of things that are past a sell or use by date
  • box up the remaining Nutrisystem stuff (I read some of the labels again and was appalled that ONE meal exceeds my carb limit for the day!)
  • reorganize for more actual cooking going on (I got spoiled when we were on the commercial diet. Now I’ll be cooking most meals- plus gearing up to feed our male 16-year-old Italian soccer-playing foreign student who arrives August 6th.
  • I’m gearing up to be able to stick with the keto eating plan for me, and the main things my husband eats, plus be able to add some pasta, or bread, or cereal, etc. for our new ‘son’ for the coming school year.

I’ve spent an hour so far, and am about to do another session. It will take several before things are ‘good,’ but I’m happy to be getting my act together.

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Good Intentions

Word Porn via Meade Dennis Adams

This is me in a nutshell.

I have a boatload of good intentions, but get distracted easily. This results in guilty feelings. If I’m doing something INside, I feel guilty about the things that need doing OUTside, and vice versa.

Yesterday my husband mowed the lawn, so we look pretty good out there right now – particularly if you ignore the fact that we have a collapsed brick planter in the front yard with a tarp load of potting soil covered in front of it.  I figured that the LEAST I could do was use the leaf blower to clean up the sidewalks. THAT led to using the leaf blower to clean up our garage , and THAT led to blowing off the garage pad…

When I came INside, I remembered that I really needed to clean off our stove top. The dishwasher is happily cleaning the removable stuff, and I finally got the top cleaned up. When I get it put back together, I won’t want to USE it – messing it up again. :0)

I DID manage to change out the aquarium filter – hoping that that will put off my having to change the water and clean it out immediately. And THAT led to watering the poor window sill plants that were sitting there, hands around their parched throats – saying, “Linnnnnn-daaaaaaaa!” HOPING I would finally notice them.

I very carefully ignored the pollen-covered porch – again – while sitting down to rest. I really DO need to vacuum the first floor today. It’s to the point where the balls of dog and cat hair grab your leg as you walk by.

I realize I’ll never get completely caught up, with all the stuff done inside and out, particularly since my husband mentioned a few minutes ago that he wants to get started rebuilding the brick planter tomorrow…

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Clean Digs for the Fish

Between outside pushes of activity before the next rain, then inside activities, trying to catch up from when working outside – the poor fish were fed, but otherwise neglected lately. Today I took everything out, used the vacuum to clean the rocks, put in new, treated water and decorations, and finally, the fish.

They haven’t said much, but I know they are secretly whispering to each other that it was about time something was done…

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A Productive Day

Animal Wallpapers – Desktop Nexus

We got up this morning, intending to start rebuilding the second brick planter, but looked at each other and decided we felt too old and creaky. We agreed to think about it tomorrow – like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. :0)  We went grocery shopping instead and plan to take it much easier today.

Yesterday we accomplished a lot –

  • We figured out why our irrigation system wasn’t working in the back. After my husband looked at the switches and the control box in the well house, he followed the hose from the well house to the ‘tree’ of hoses that go to the back.  He found a “monster” kink in the main hose. We don’t know HOW it became kinked, since that is in the woods and not mowed, but he was able to splice the hose where it was damaged and the water flowed again!
  • Oh!  I have to pat myself on the head a bit. My husband asked me to reprogram the control box. I looked and looked, but couldn’t find the paperwork on how to do it. I finally went out and pushed buttons, hoping a main screen would come up. It did! I was able to reprogram year, month, day, time, and watering durations for the front and back!
  • I mixed up a 2-gallon canister of KilzAll and sprayed all around our garden and around our shop – hopefully murdering lots of weeds.
  • We cleaned up the work area around the first planter we rebuilt. We had extra concrete to shovel, bricks to haul away, etc. I took a chisel and a hammer and cleaned up the front of the planter as much as I could. I have to tell you, it looks pretty bad. It is sturdy and it holds the potting soil, so we’re declaring it a win. We’ll attach the PVC pipe set up for irrigation and then it’s finished. We’ll try to do better on the second planter. AND we keep reminding ourselves that we’re not having to come up with $700!

So – a much more laid-back day – probably with a bit of weed whacking will suffice.

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The First Planter is Finished

Tail and Fur

We finished bricklaying on the first collapsed planter yesterday. We just came in from shoveling the potting soil we had tried to save under some tarps back into the planter. I’ve told you we are both long in the tooth. We managed to finish it, mainly because we are supposed to have lots of rain and severe weather here all day today. We didn’t want to lose all of the expensive potting soil we had tried so hard to save. The planters are about 2-1/2 feet high, so an 8 foot long planter holds a LOT of potting soil!  Whew! Sore backs abound!

I wasn’t going to work on the planter at all, but I discovered my husband had left the office. I went to find him in the living room – assuming he was in his chair reading. He wasn’t, so I started looking around, finding him shoveling. I grabbed another shovel from the garage and we finished the job in about 45 minutes. I then moved all the bricks that were holding the tarps in place behind the well house. We are now ready for the rain, except I just remembered that I need to transfer the two tarps to the burn barrel.

We worked on the planter on the far end of the house for good reason. It doesn’t look good at all. It is sturdy, though, and seems to be holding the potting soil nicely, so we’ll call it a win and try to do a better job aesthetically on the other collapsed planter that is closer to the driveway.

Before we buy plants for it, we’ll need to reattach the pvc pipe for the irrigation system. Then the fun starts, with discussions about what we want to plant. I’m going for perennials, as much as possible, hopefully with some nice color in at least one season. I can dot annuals in for more color without killing myself.

I am hoping that we will rest for a day or so before starting the second planter…

Happily, we tried the new-to-Greenwood Domino’s Pizza last night. We got a medium pan supreme pizza and it was delicious! We ate half of it, so we can finish it tonight and I don’t have to cook!!

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The Character-and-Planter-Building Continue

Yesterday’s session was hard because we had to haul a lot of bricks over to the site, gather all the tools, run the water hose, etc. Today’s session was harder because we put too much water in the mix, resulting in mortar that was waaaaay too thin to use. We got back in the truck and went to town and bought 3 more bags of mortar.

We added about a third of the second bag to the mix when we got back and then it was usable. We need five rows of bricks for the planter, and today we finished the third row. We washed everything and came in with red faces, huffing and puffing, in need of cool drinks.

We’re hoping to finish the first planter tomorrow morning. Tomorrow afternoon and evening and into Sunday rain is forecast, so once we finish the first planter we’ll take a bit of a break before starting the second.

No one would think these were done by a professional, but the bricks we laid yesterday were nice and solid. As long as they’re sturdy and hold the potting soil, we’ll be satisfied.

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Another of Life’s Character-Building Projects…

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Awhile back I told you that two of our 8 foot long brick planters collapsed.

30 years ago we built 14 planters around the yard, so I guess the fact that 2 of them only lasted 30 years is a pretty good result from people who had/have no clue what they were/are doing. :0)

 

When the planters collapsed, we used a sledge hammer to knock the rest of the bricks down. We couldn’t get the lowest row to let go of the concrete slab we poured, so we cleaned things up the best way we could and declared victory. We shoveled the potting soil from the planter onto the blue tarp you see here and then covered it with another one and put used bricks on top to hold it until we’re ready to fill the planter again. We filled wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow with the used bricks and stacked them up behind the well house.

Today we started the rebuilding project in earnest. We bought a pallet of bricks a couple of months ago. We bought 2 bags of mortar this morning, thinking these would be enough for one planter. We wheel-barrowed the bags over to the planter that is on the far side of the house. We used a dolly to bring enough bricks for this planter over to the work area. It was really a job to get the heavy plastic off the pallet of bricks and then stack them on the dolly and wheelbarrow them over to the planter. We did this three times to get enough over there.

I stretched a hose from the back of the house around to the front, and we found the special hoe that has two holes in it that we use for mixing mortar. We went out to the shop to find the trowels we needed.

We mixed one of the bags of mortar. We had forgotten how long it takes to actually mix that stuff! You think it’s good, and then you uncover some that is absolutely dry at the bottom of the wheelbarrow.

We decided we would work until we had used up the mortar in the wheelbarrow. By the time that was done, it was all we could do to clean up the tools and the wheelbarrow. It isn’t super hot today – 86 degrees F. – but we were really hot and tired when we came in. My face was bright red as if I had gotten sun-burned. I knew that wasn’t true because both of the planters are mostly in the shade.

We got huge glasses of ice water and drank them down pretty quickly. I fixed us some lunch and we ate in our chairs in the living room. The next thing we knew, we were both waking up from taking naps in our chairs!

We have agreed that what we did this morning would be it for the day. We’ll probably do one bag of mortar a day until the first planter is done. We now think that each planter will need a bit more than 3 bags of mortar. We’re supposed to be getting rain late Saturday. We think we can finish bricking the first planter, but we may save the second planter until next week.

If I needed more motivation to lose another 30 pounds, I now have it. We are also newly learning how much of a difference 30 years makes in laying bricks. This will be a character-building exercise for us. I see Tylenol, back pain gel, and yoga stretches in my future. :0)

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Good News – Bad News

123RF.com

I already told you that two of the fourteen planters we built around the yard collapsed. We’ve been trying to get bricklayers to come and give us estimates on rebuilding them for us. We have the brick already, waiting on a pallet. We already have concrete bases ready to receive the brick.

GOOD NEWS – Today I finally got a call. Because of all the rain we’ve been getting, one of the guys we’ve been trying to reach called and got directions to come give us an estimate!

BAD NEWS –  The bricklayer was really nice. He even put up with Amber greeting him when he opened the truck door, covering him with kisses. I finally got her into the house and we looked at things. His estimate for the job was $700. That’s too steep for us, particularly since we’ve already had to buy the bricks.

SO – when the monsoon is finally over and it looks like we’ll have several dry days in a row, we’ll go to the local hardware store and buy umpteen bags of Qwik-Crete and will rebuild the planters ourselves. Even though we don’t know what we’re doing, the other 12 planters we built some 30 years ago lasted, so maybe we’ll do well enough again.

I’m excited about getting them functional again and deciding what we’ll plant…

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Housekeeping

Country Corner via Carla Morton

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Working on Our Irrigation System

DripDepot

Each year my husband does his magic, making our irrigation system work again. This year we’ve had more of a challenge.

It’s been a LOOOOOONG time since we put things together in the well house. We had a really bad leak last night after testing things. My husband changed a hose connection, making the leak much better, but it didn’t solve the problem completely. This morning we found a replacement valve thingie on the net and ordered it.

Our timer for the systems, front and back, was acting wonky, even after we unplugged, rebooted, and changed the backup battery. We bought a new one today that we’ll install this afternoon or evening – weather cooperating. The face of it is backlit, making it much easier to see. Hopefully, we can get it programmed correctly.

We had the inevitable blow-outs that happen because of the system being exposed to our weather. We can’t completely drain everything, though we drain what we can. Most of the front is working, but we have to figure out where the breakdown is and try to fix it so that everything is getting water again.

A couple of places aren’t working the way they should, not allowing us to control the amount of water flowing into a pot. We bought replacement parts for that, plus some end caps for lines we’re not needing this year. We’ll keep testing and reworking things until all is happy.

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Reclaiming Our Screened Porch

Amber helped us reclaim our porch yesterday. It started with my husband removing three 4 x 8 foot sheets of plywood we had laid end to end across the bottom of the screened part of the porch and screwed into the uprights to try to keep Amber from destroying it. We decided that even though she is still definitely a puppy, we could now risk reclaiming part of our view.

We had an enormous amount of dirt, dog and cat hair, and a super-thick layer of pollen all over everything. I moved everything around, wiping the table and sweeping twice before ever trying to do more. Finally I got to the place where I could actually start CLEANING things, rather than simply uncovering them.

Our porch isn’t fancy, but we love the few weeks each year that we can eat out there, free from bugs and enjoying some glorious weather. Right now it’s too chilly for breakfast, perfect for lunch, and too chilly for dinner. We’re hoping to enjoy several meals before Mother Nature turns up the heat too much.

The porch is connected to our covered deck – again not fancy – but definitely a quality of life thing for us. I just planted a bunch of flowers in the deck planters, and we’re working on making sure the irrigation system is working properly to keep all happy out there.

I hope that you have a place that you can “bring the outside in” a bit, too.

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Beautiful Day to be Outside

indulgy.com

I just came in from my third session of weed-whacking this afternoon. To say I’m done for the day is an understatement, but I’m glad I made some significant progress on neatening things up. My husband mowed the lawn a couple of days ago, and it was only fair that I get out and do the trimming. He actually came out with me the third time, hooked up the water that will go to the bird bath and then held the cord for me, gathering it up when we finished for the day.

Weed whacking is one of those jobs that is never finished. You know you’ve made some progress, but there are other places all around the yard speaking to me as I get near, saying, “Look at me! Look at me!”

We’re supposed to have several days of good weather, so I’ll plan to get out and do more tomorrow. Next up – around my greenhouse and around the garden.

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Before the Rain

Living Well Mom via thenannyleague.com

 

We rushed around this afternoon trying to get our yard work accomplished before the first rain of many came. We made it with minutes to spare!

My husband mowed the lawn while I planted six tomato plants in the brick planters beside the house that we converted to square foot garden planters, and then I planted spinach seeds directly in the garden, since the ones I’ve tried to start in the greenhouse still haven’t done anything. Then I put fertilizer all around.

I came back to the house just as my husband was finishing the lawn. We got out our pressure washer so that we could get some of the gunk off the riding mower engine and surrounding area, so now it’s cleaner than it has been in quite a while. It started sprinkling just as we were putting the power washer away.

We’re supposed to have several waves of rain – some storms possibly severe – throughout the rest of the afternoon, into the evening and into tomorrow.  It feels good to have gotten things done in time. Now we can relax and mindlessly watch TV or read the rest of the day and evening.

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Filed under Gardening, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Mother Nature, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Happy Fish

pinterest

Today I finally got off my duff and cleaned the aquarium. All told it takes about 45 minutes from start to finish, so it isn’t that much to ask. The only thing my fish actually get excited about, though, is eating time, twice a day, when they bunch up in the right front corner of the aquarium and wriggle their little bodies, opening and closing their mouths rapidly. So it’s easy to walk by and ignore the fact that I should be cleaning out their digs and providing some different decorations to stimulate their imaginations.

Things look much better now. They’re exploring a bit, but no wriggles, gaping mouths, or other signs of real interest yet.

This doesn’t happen at our house, although we have two cats who would probably eat our fish given the chance. They seem to prefer birds.

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Good Day

Rebloggy

I’m tired now, and am finished trying to be productive today – other than cooking fish for dinner later.

It’s a gorgeous day – 67 degrees F. and sunshine-y. I WISH I could finish prepping our square foot garden for planting, but I ran out of some of the ingredients for Mel’s Mix. I’ll try to get them tomorrow.

I decided to continue trying to clean out, declutter, and reorganize our office supply shelves. In the process, I’m finding several things I think others can use, so I’m bagging them up to donate to the Disabled Vets Thrift Store. I’ve thrown out a bunch (it’s a good thing our trash pickup is soon :0) ), and I’ve cleaned shelves. I’m trying to make FINDING and ACCESS paramount, since my husband gripes when he can’t find the extra staples, for example.

I ended up with a couple of bins for things we want to be able to find and use quickly. I put extras in a larger bin, but out of the way a bit. Throwing out enabled consolidation, so we actually have a bit of shelf empty now! HAH! :0)

I’ll work on the shelves again, but I made good progress today.

Now the rewards of my book, a cup of coffee, and my recliner. AHHHHH!

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