Category Archives: Lewis projects

Slogging Through the Art Room Clean Up Project

blog.photosi.com

I’m having to do really short sessions on cleaning my art room. I keep getting distracted when I find something interesting I didn’t remember I had and wanting to do something ‘artful’ with it, instead of continuing to go through things.

Last time I got the idea for a new line of stationery, note cards, thank you notes and greeting cards. The idea is rattling around in my head, plus I’m dreaming about it, so I guess I’ll need to make time and space to at least get started on the idea soon, but I really need to get the art room ‘healed’ first.

So far, I HAVE cleaned off my drafting table. If you walked into the room, though, you wouldn’t be able to tell anything else had been done. This is the kind of project that looks worse before it even THINKS about getting better.

I’m going up there now to see what I can do….

I would appreciate your sending good wishes, persistence, and focus in my direction today…

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Filed under Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Lewis projects, Organizing/DeCluttering

Thankful and Happy

Humor Mash

It’s cold for Arkansas today, well below freezing and a gusty North wind. The wind chill is ‘too-darned-cold-to-be-out-here!’ We got freezing rain last night and our deck is treacherous. The evergreens are looking really weighted down, but all else looks like we dodged a bullet weatherwise.

Still we froze our parts off taking animals out this morning. My husband went back out because he noticed that we only had ONE feeder with seed in it and a gazillion birds – plus a squirrel – all trying to get something to eat. The one feeder that still had food was one I filled with small bird seed, rather than the sunflower seeds we put out for everyone else. We decided that the feeder is defective and that the sweet birds aren’t getting anything before the seeds freeze at the bottom. So I’ve washed out another feeder and will put the small bird seed in the better feeder and we’ll put it back out. We’re thankful and happy to be able to stay home today where it’s safe and warm.

Projects Update –

1) My husband is working on the welding lathe, some in the shop and some in the office. He got a nice face plate for the control box that will house the motor so that he can mount the buttons on the front nicely. Otherwise, we’re waiting for some parts to come in.

2) The new-computer-for-me project came to a screeching halt when we had a defective motherboard. We returned that, got another, only to find after my husband worked with a tech on the phone at the place we’ve always trusted to get computer parts couldn’t make it work, either. So the 2nd motherboard was mailed back to them yesterday. They should get in Monday and hopefully have a replacement in the mail to us next week.

3) My clean-out-the-pantry project is entering Day 5.  I’m hoping to finish up today. I have to get up on a high ladder to reach things up there, so my husband has agreed to receive things we’ll give away and put them somewhere until we’ve culled out all that needs to come down. Then I’ll clean and organize the rest. Pics to follow.

Since it’s so yucky outside, I’ll start a stew in the crock pot before getting up on the ladder. I know after going up and down and cleaning a bunch today, I won’t feel like cooking later.

I hope YOUR Sunday is a good one.

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Lewis projects, Mother Nature

Slug

saga

I’ve been a slug today. I guess I wore myself out yesterday, feeling 110+ years old when I woke up today, joints creaking, muscles aching. We did errands, but that was it for the day. I had a nice nap under my throw in my recliner this afternoon.

One thing I forgot to tell you that I did yesterday was finish the repainting of the Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin mailbox decoration for October.

I don’t think he’ll glow in the dark, but he’s the very brightest orange I could find, and I think he’ll light up well when headlights shine on him.

 

He looked okay on the mailbox last October, but I was hoping for a Day-Glo type look, if not glowing in the dark. I used a paint called, Neon Orange. The only actual glow-in-the-dark paint I could find was in a spray can, which I couldn’t use on the piece.

 

This is the front.

 

And this is the back. We hung him up on the proper hook in the shop, waiting for next October.

Next, I’ll be doing a refurbishing on our ‘box turtle’ who has an eye falling off and paint pealing off his ‘shell.’

We’re on the edge of the map as to whether we’ll get a wintry mix this evening into tomorrow morning. We’re thankful to have a warm, dry home with our animals close around us.

I hope you’ve had a happy day, too.

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Filed under Lewis Art, Lewis Mailbox Decorations, Lewis projects, metal art

Productive Day and Play Tonight!

Freude

We had a really productive day! We

  • took 8 large leaf bags of donations to the Veterans Thrift Store
  • exchanged an empty bottle of Argon for a full one (for my husband’s TIG welding)
  • got cash at the bank
  • got parts for the welding lathe at the hardware store
  • found coconut flour at the grocery store for the low carb blueberry scones recipe I’m planning to try
  • found a new welding supply place that is closer to us AND a bit cheaper when we signed up for an account
  • I got the guest room bathroom clean and reorganized (this finishes the guest room reorganization project)
  • I gathered trash – managing to fill an extra bag for the week – according to my plan for the year.
  • I put our bowling balls in the back of the truck for tonight, gathered bottles of drinking water for the women
  • put the bags of trash in the back of the truck so we can put them out on the way to bowling tonight
  • cleaned up the rear seat of the truck, whisk brooming/vacuuming/using a lint roller/and finally a damp cloth to get Amber’s hair off the seats and floor. I also washed the inside of the windows because Amber tends to slobber while enjoying the ride in the car.
  • I made us a late lunch (we don’t eat dinner on bowling night because we want to enjoy some Braum’s ice cream after we play)

Tonight we’re bowling with good friends, catching up with what’s been happening since last week, and enjoying ice cream.

A great day!

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Filed under Friendship, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Lewis projects, Organizing/DeCluttering

Refurb Projects Progress/Plans

I finished the front side of the Jack-O-Lantern mailbox decoration. As soon as it dries, I’ll turn it over and work on brightening up the back.

 

This is a “box turtle” we made from metal scraps. As you can see, being outside in the weather has taken its toll on the poor guy. He’ll be my next project.

 

The top of his ‘shell’ has peeled off in several places.

 

His face looks like he was in a fight and lost.

 

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Filed under Lewis Art, Lewis Mailbox Decorations, Lewis projects, Lewis yard art

Project Glitch

motherboard

Recently I told you that my husband had two projects going on simultaneously – building a welding lathe in the shop and building a new computer for me.

Yesterday we got the CPU finally and he put that and the fan that goes with it into the computer and turned it on. It wouldn’t boot despite everything he knew how to do. After the New Egg people (from whom he bought the computer parts STILL didn’t call as they said they would, he called ASUS, the maker of the motherboard, since he suspects that this is the reason the computer isn’t booting. After a long talk with them, they said to send the motherboard to them and they would look at it.

We now have the motherboard packed up and ready for UPS to pick up Monday. We’re hoping they’ll send us another one quickly, or fix this one and send it back. There is nothing more that can be done until we get one that works, so the project is on hold now.

He moved all the parts off my work area, thank goodness, so I’m functional at my computer again without having a lot of problems finding stuff or moving around a bit, checking my calendar, etc.

He’ll switch projects now. The power supply for the step motor for the welding lathe arrived today, so he’s waiting for the heat to work in the shop and will probably spend the rest of the afternoon out there.

I’m planning to put a coat of orange on the jack-o-lantern mailbox decoration I’m repainting, and then I’ll go back up and work on figuring out what to do with all the ‘stuff’ I took out of the guest room closet….

I hope you’re having a fun day.

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Filed under Challenges, Lewis Mailbox Decorations, Lewis projects

Current Projects Update

(1) My husband put a HEAVY piece of 1/4″ thick metal on the CNC table yesterday. He loaded the code he wrote to talk to the computer that guides the torch. He was able to cut out the rounded triangular piece with the holes in it that you see in the model picture just below the horizontal tubing above. He had to turn the speed of the cutting down to crawl because the metal was so thick, but he was able to do it! There is no way in the world he would have been able to cut the piece out by hand and cut the holes to specifications if we didn’t have the CNC machine and my husband’s expertise. Hooray!  I think he’s going to work on the horizontal tube next. I’ll post pics as he starts putting the tool together.

(2)  We cut out the new Christmas mailbox decoration yesterday before my husband did the heavy metal cutting. (He DID have some ‘heavy metal’ playing on the speakers while he was doing it :0) )

Here’s the picture from which we are working.

First, my husband created the code needed that tells the torch needs to cut to create the design we would like. The computer-guided torch then cuts the design out while we watch. This is the cut out metal design. We’ll get the rough spots off the back and then my husband will make the part that attaches it to the mailbox and he’ll weld the two together. Then we’ll mark the piece using a transparency printed on our printer and an overhead projector. I’ll show you pics as the work progresses. I’ve stored this in my painting area for the moment, because it won’t be needed until the end of the year. I’m working on the pumpkin mailbox decoration you can see on my painting table in the background, trying to pump up the orange color. I would LIKE for it to glow in the dark when car lights hit it…

(3) Our third project started yesterday was the complete emptying and cleaning out of our front hall closet – made unusable due to our stashing of ‘stuff.’ My goal was to put things that should be elsewhere in their proper place, see if there was anything we wanted to donate to the Veterans Thrift Shop, throw stuff away, and reorganize what was left, putting it in a clean closet. That project is FINISHED!

This is the closet when I started.

 

This is the cleaned out closet.

 

 

 

We now can use the closet as a front hall closet – hanging up visitors’ coats.

We have a bin in the basement where we store extra out of season coats, vests, etc., so we moved what we didn’t need now down there until the spring. We now have two large leaf bags of nice winter things for the people who shop at the Veteran’s Thrift Shop, plus some exercise stuff that was redundant to the equipment I’m using, or not being used enough to keep.  We want to add to the donation bags a bit more before we make the trip to Fort Smith, but should do that by the first week in February, at the latest.  Another area checked off!

TODAY’S PROJECT:

I have a set of nice, big shelves on my side of the bedroom, plus an even larger set in the guest room. I’ve been going through both, but at a very slow pace. I’m going to try to get both sets of shelves so that I can find and reach the books on the shelves, getting rid of a bunch in the process. A lot of moving, hauling, shelving and cleaning ahead – my exercise for this wonderful rainy day!

 

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Filed under Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Lewis Mailbox Decorations, Lewis projects, Organizing/DeCluttering

Friday’s Projects – Thing One and Thing Two

THING ONE:

We’ll use our CNC table and computer set-up to cut out this metal design for the mailbox. It’ll be about 2 feet high and 2-1/2 feet or so wide. (My husband converted the image we found on the net to computer code.)  We’re doing this today because my husband wants to work on a part for the welding lathe he’s building. We have about half a sheet of metal on the table currently, so cutting out this design serves two purposes – a start to the mailbox decoration AND being able to clean off the table and put the really heavy metal for the welder part on it.

 

THING TWO:

Front Hall Closet Clean-out

This is a closet used for stashing. We hardly ever use it, otherwise, because people come into the house from the garage, rather than the front door. I’m going to change that, making it a closet where we can actually hang guests’ coats! (What a concept!) :0)

 

It’s embarrassing to post these pictures, but you already knew I was a slob. I hate housekeeping, second only to bookkeeping, taxes, and other legal stuff. I’m determined to go through my house, one area at a time, and take everything out, go through it to decide whether we want to keep it, donate it, or pitch it. If we’re keeping it, I’ll decide where it needs to live. A lot of this stuff should probably be elsewhere. I’ll clean the closet thoroughly and then reorganize what we’re keeping.

 

Here is a close up of the top of the closet.

 

And a close up of the bottom.

I don’t know how long this will take. I’ll put everything I take out onto our couch. That will give me the motivation to keep going until all of it has been sorted. I’ll post pics when the project is finished.

First, we enjoy our good friends at Lunch Bunch. We’ll do a few errands while we’re out. We’ll take care of animals when we get back, cut out the mailbox decoration, get the metal sheet remaining off the CNC table, and then I’ll begin.

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Lewis Mailbox Decorations, Lewis projects, Organizing/DeCluttering

Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3

We are in the middle of three main projects at the moment:

PROJECT 1: My husband convinced me to change from my current MAC computer back to a ‘regular PC’ with Windows 10 and Microsoft. He has been really upset that ever since I’ve been using my MAC, he was unable to help me fix problems. Our son, who wanted me to change to the MAC originally, lives and works in Thailand. He’s a good communicator and very patiently tries to help me when there is a problem, but there is a 12-hour time difference and he has a life other than being available to help MOM with her latest weird problem.

 

This is my new computer. As you can see, it needs a bit of work. :0)

My husband has ordered the parts and case so that he can build a new computer for me. We’ve now gotten everything except the CPU. When we get that, he can finish the hardware part of the project and start fighting with software. I won’t switch over to the new machine until everything has been moved and tested from my MAC – at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. I’ll be happy when the changeover is finished and I’m sure it’s all working – and I know how to make it all work again.

PROJECT 2: I’m trying to work my way through our house, going through things that have been stored or stashed for some 30+ years now, gathering dust and taking up space. I’m forcing myself to take things one at a time, taking everything out of shelves, drawers, desks, buffets, etc., and deciding whether to keep each thing I find, whether it belongs here or somewhere else if I’m keeping it, if it would be better if I donate it, or it should be thrown away. I’m then deep cleaning – starting with the bulldozer, if needed – and then reorganizing what I’m keeping. My goal is to have one donation for the Veterans Thrift Store each month, and one donation to the local library as needed. So far, we’ve made a donation for January to the Veterans, but we don’t have enough books yet for a donation.

Today’s project was to finish the cleaning out of a set of shelves that live next to a window in our office. This was not only a ‘catch-all,’ it had become a ‘stash-all.’ I had piles of articles I had torn out of magazines, like exercises I should be doing, how long to keep things in the freezer, what I should be planting when, how to avoid problems at tax time, etc, etc, etc. I had previous year’s tax paperwork, cards of customers of Creative Artworks, greeting cards ready to send, the pile of stuff we’ll dump on our CPA as soon as we receive our records for the year from Schwab……

I’ve been working on this set of shelves for three days. I’m not sure if ONLY our lab puppy is shedding, or Molly is, too, and the cats – but I’ve been really fighting animal hair the past few weeks. I’ve vacuumed every day this week in here, plus dusted, and I’m STILL fighting it. And THEN the stashed ‘stuff’ is dusty…

The shelves finally look as though a normal person lives here. The pile beside the notebooks will go to the CPA, so that will be clear soon. Things are better than they’ve been in years. :0)

PROJECT 3: The other project we’re working on simultaneously is that my husband is building a “welding lathe or positioner.” This is a tool that would allow him to put a piece he wanted to weld on it. He could weld it at one angle, then turn the piece over, still secured on the positioner, to weld the piece on the other side without having to take it loose, reposition it, etc. This would save a lot of time and effort for him.

This is a picture of what he’s trying to build. He saw one on the net or in a magazine, but it cost over $1,000, not including tax or shipping. He decided to build one. He was able to secure some blueprints for the project. He already had a lot of what was needed to build it.  The round part at the bottom comes up to make a mini welding table, if needed. There is a computer that runs a motor that turns the piece at the top.

He is trying to figure out the triangular piece that is right under the horizontal part – not only how to make the piece, but how to get the holes just right…. To say that this is a complicated tool is a vast understatement. He’ll have to order some of the parts, such as the motor, a chain, and the round piece at the bottom, but he already has the small raspberry pi computer to go inside the box behind the round thing. Big project, but he’s smiling as he tries to figure out how to do it. :0)

So, that’s what we’ve been doing around here. The days fly past, but we make a bit of progress each day. Life is good.

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Can You Smell It?

“Falling Rain” – quotesgram.com

 

We had a bit of drizzle, and sprinkling on the windshield as we went to town for errands yesterday. Then we had a more serious rain late yesterday afternoon. The intermittent rain is still going today. We really need it. We’re in a drought and under a burn ban. I’m not even complaining as I stand outside in the rain waiting for the doggies to take care of things. :0)

I’m especially grateful because we have an excellent chance of a cold front with rain that MAY change to flurries this weekend! A double gift from Mother Nature for sure if we get more good rain PLUS a pretty, white Christmas with snow that will look pretty, but not cause problems on the road. The very BEST kind of snow!

__________________

Yesterday I consolidated two notebooks of low carb recipes into one, plus punched holes into a whole stack of recipes I printed from the net and put them into the notebook. Now I have all the loose recipes in one place, organized so there is hope of finding the one I’m looking for again! I have the notebook on the kitchen desk along with the most used low carb recipe books.

Today’s project is moving my warm weather clothes OUT and my cool weather clothes INTO my closet.

 

balletpumpsandroses.com

 

If I finish that, my poor little duck and hedgehog yard ornaments are awaiting possible repair after our 81 pound lab puppy, Amber, bit off beak and nose respectively. I have some pieces I retrieved from the yard, along with the critters, but I’m not sure I have enough for a full repair. Fingers crossed.

I hope that your day is productive and fun.

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Filed under Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Lewis projects, Mother Nature, Organizing/DeCluttering, project refurb

Project of the Day Update

Before

 

After

Ahhh. There was actually a place for most everything that was on the desk. I did bring a pile of recipes that need to have holes punched so that they can go into the recipe book, but everything else found a home.

Caution:  Look quickly – I’ve had a LOT of practice in piling things up….

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Project for the Day

Sassy Senior Lady via Doreen Adamson-Liber

If I haven’t admitted it before, now you know what a slob I am.

Despite my efforts here and there – I’ve never been a great housekeeper – things ‘accumulate’ and, then, I think, reproduce like rabbits, causing the jumble you see before you. My husband and i both contribute to it.  On any given day there are other priorities, so it gets lost in transit.

Well, today is the day THIS will be the focus.

I’ll take everything off and TRY to organize this so that it’s not a catchall. I’m planning to move some of my cookbooks here to get them off the other counter space in the kitchen.

I’ll report back to you later on my efforts.

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Composter

We built a composter a couple of years ago. I finally made a good batch of compost this year!

I say this as if I won the lottery because even though I followed directions I found in books and on the net, I ended up with the wrong combination of ingredients and ended up dumping it out (holding my nose) and washing out the inside of the composter with a hose.

I’ve finally learned to add a whole lot more yard waste and much less food waste in order to come up with something that I hope will be a good addition to the composts for the square foot garden.

I cleaned it out today because I don’t want to leave it in there for the winter. In the picture above, you can see that we used a plastic food container type barrel we bought from the hardware store. We poured a concrete pad for the composter to sit on, with stakes coming up out of the concrete. We pounded the legs onto the stakes to make a good, sturdy support for the composter. We cut the opening in the front, making it so it opens wide enough to put new items in easily or use the tool my husband made for scooping the compost out. The barrel is on rollers. We attached handles on three spots around the barrel so you can pull the barrel, rolling it over and mixing the ingredients inside. This way you can be sure everything is mixed well.

This is the tool my husband made. It’s rounded to conform to the inside of the barrel, making emptying it really easy. It has a rubber grip, and the tool is plenty long enough to reach all areas on the inside of the barrel. The tool “lives’ on its side beside the composter.

You can see one of the three handles on the top of the composter. The metal ‘wand’ keeps the latches shut and the door firmly closed. My husband made the handle for it on the mill. The end slides through the parts of the latches, or pulls out if you’re opening it up. The end also helps pry the ends of the latches up.

After cleaning out the composter today, the trash can under it is a little over 1/3 full. We can mix up Mel’s Mix behind the shop, and then wheelbarrow some out to add our own compost to the mix next spring.

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Filed under Lewis projects, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

So Lucky

Williams Sonoma Raised Bed Planter – $179.00 plus shipping.

This is typical of what is called a “raised bed planter.”  It’s wonderful because you don’t have to worry about building up your soil or heavy duty weeding as you do in typical gardens. You can grow a good amount in a much smaller space, and it’s up from the ground. This is a nicely made one offered by Williams Sonoma.

When we first started square foot garden, this is what we did. We had two rows of raised bed planting areas –  The thing is, I still had to either bend over double to plant, weed, and harvest things from this. It was good, but it didn’t go far enough.  I’m old and I can’t do a lot of kneeling or bending over double anymore.

 

We decided, when the wood was beginning to deteriorate, that we could do better.

 

When we decided to break down what we had and redo it, we made metal table-like supports for boxes to ‘sit’ in. They are at about chest level on me, comfortable to stand up and be able to reach any side of the boxes with an easy reach. I have six 4’x4’x8″ wooden boxes on my supports, with hoses stretched down each row of three boxes for automatic timed irrigation. I can spray weed killer under the boxes or around the perimeter of the whole garden without bothering my veggies.

I stretch string across the wooden boxes to create 1 foot planting areas. Then I can plant according to the advice of Mel (the square foot gardening expert), either one plant in a square (cauliflower, broccoli, etc.), 4 plants in a square (lettuce, spinach, etc.), 9 plants in a square (carrots), or 16 plants in a square (radishes.)

I can plant standing up or sitting on a tall stool. I can pull weeds or harvest without kneeling or bending over double. The Mel’s Mix (peat moss, vermiculite, and as many different kinds of compost as you can find) has all the nutrients needed for the plants, replenished when you harvest all of a plant when you add a bit more. The soil’s consistency is such that pulling weeds is easy. The planting plan makes it easy for a beginning gardener like me to see what is a ‘good plant ‘vs a ‘weed.’

I’m really lucky that my husband spoils me rotten, figuring out how to tackle things like building the square foot garden in the first place, then improving it when we needed to pull up what we had done after several years. We also built the new greenhouse recently so that I can hopefully grow my own transplants, rather than having to depend on what is sold in stores locally. I’m hoping I can get a jump on the spring season, plus have more transplants growing in the greenhouse, ready to plant in the garden at the proper time.

Trying to grow some of our own veggies, plus flowers around the yard, is one of my favorite things. There is never enough time or energy – or cooperating weather – to do all I’d like to do. :0)

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Filed under Arkansas, Challenges, Changes, Greenwood, Lewis projects, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Greenhouse Repair

This picture shows you the break in the pvc pipe rib for the greenhouse.

 

My husband drilled into the wood uprights on either side of the louvered fan and attached guy wires to the wood.

 

He used a cement drill to drill a hole in the ground at the proper angle for the guy wires, ran the wire around the stake (held in place by a hose clamp.

This picture shows you the completed guy wire fix for the end of the greenhouse.  It’s nice and sturdy now, thank goodness.

 

Here’s the fix from the side.

So, thanks to my wonderful husband, things are once again in good shape. He’s definitely a keeper.

When he came in, and could man the phone, I went out and got an 8 foot brick planter cleaned out where we have two really large hydrangea plants. I cut off all the branches and disposed of them. I have 4 more planters to clean out and then I’ll put mulch in them. :0)

 

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Gardening, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Lewis projects

Best Laid Plans

I was PLANNING to clean out another flower planter yesterday. My husband came in and told me we had a problem with the greenhouse. The end ‘wall’ you’re looking at in this photo had broken loose because the last pvc pipe ‘rib’ closest to the lumber had broken. The rib isn’t repairable. We would have to take the whole end of the greenhouse apart and replace the whole rib,  probably resulting in more damage.

My husband, who is really good at figuring out how to fix things, figured out that we could attach heavy wire (like that used in the guy wires for the ham radio tower) to the upright pieces of wood on either side of the louvered exhaust fan. He is outside as I type (waiting for an important phone call we’re expecting) drilling a hole some distance away from the end of the greenhouse. He’ll then pound in a metal stake with the sledge hammer. Then we’ll attach the wires with what I think are called turnbolts – metal things with rings on each end and a threaded length in between that you can turn to tighten the wire until it’s taught.

 

The stake and ‘guy wire’ type attachment should keep the end of the greenhouse secure. I’m not sure what he’s planning about the broken pvc pipe. Maybe we can just ignore it and rewrap the transparent liner stuff on the end carefully.

Anyhow, my best laid plans had to be set aside, once again, in order to try to fix the greenhouse – again before it is forecast to rain today…  I’m lucky to have a guy who can look at something and figure out how it works and what needs to be done to fix it. I don’t have a clue – although I’m a pretty good helper and ‘gofer.’

If I can get the yard under control for the winter, I’m planning to start moving things around in the greenhouse, getting ready for planting seeds later. I’ll post pics as I get things organized in there.

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Fun in My Art Room

Yesterday afternoon I finished digging out the iris from the backyard planter. (I still need to make sure the planter is completely cleaned out, add more potting mix and  replant some of the iris, but I declared victory for the day.)

I rewarded myself with some time in my art room.

I’m working on some Christmas presents for my good friends from Lunch Bunch. (Shhhhh!  It’s a secret!) The time flies by while I’m up there, thinking of my friends and trying to make something I hope they’ll enjoy. I have quite a few things to make, so I’m hoping I can sneak up there a lot in the coming weeks.

I also have some refurbishing to do on some of our yard art. Our ‘box turtle”

needs an eye re-glued, plus some touch up on peeling pain on his back.

 

I found some orange “neon” paint. I repaint the orange on both sides of the jack-o-lantern, hoping the paint will make him pop when headlights hit him next year.

 

We have an 8 foot tall (with stem and leaves) metal flower attached to a power pole in the back yard. Some wasps figured out a way to get between the metal of the flower and the plastic saucer type thing we glued to the center and covered with glass beads. We think our spraying has finally at least caused the wasps to relocate, if not die outright – so we’ll bring this into the shop. I’ll remove the center piece, clean everything up, caulk the center back on and replace the glass pieces that have fallen off.

I’ll work my way around the yard, repairing things as best I can. We’re also looking to repair some other critters still in the shop so that we can attach them to the ham radio tower extra length part we stood in concrete recently.

We have a few things in the shop that need to be repaired or finished that we can hang on here, plus critters we make in the future. This will be our “Critter Tree.” :0)

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Filed under Arts and Crafts - Teaching, Favorite Things, Lewis Art, Lewis Mailbox Decorations, Lewis projects, Lewis yard art

Antenna

GE Pro Attic Mount Antenna

We’re pleased with our efforts to ‘cut the cord’ and not have to have DirecTV, DISH, or cable (we can’t get that). We’re learning more every day on how to make our stuff work the best way possible.

My husband read that if we added an antenna in the attic and got some software (simplified explanation of what we need to do) we can go through Roku or our PlayStation to record programs over the air or over the Internet to watch later. Since we’re old and doofus, even with lists we have trouble watching programs at the proper time, the right day, on the network we should be watching. :0)

The antenna and coax cable came in the mail today. My husband immediately put the antenna together and we went upstairs to see what we had to do to mount the antenna in the attic. We discovered an old mounting pole still up there, so that part of the project went like clockwork. My husband saw some coax cable up there, so we came down again to see if we had anything left in the living room.

There were TWO coax cables in the cabinet under the entertainment center. We’ve had trouble with mice eating our wires, so we weren’t very hopeful that we wouldn’t have to spend the rest of the day running coax from the roof, into the attic, out and down the outside of the house, and then into the house again under the entertainment area to attach to the TV.

We hooked up one of the cables and searched for channels over the air. We got NONE. (The smaller antenna on the shelf got us 10 over the air channels, but not many we actually wanted to watch.) We hooked up the second antenna and voila! we got 32 channels over the air!

This is the first project in a LONG time that cause me worry that my husband had to go up on our two story roof, sidle around in the awful under the house space, cause ME to do something scary, cause a few harsh words, hurt feelings, a LOT of time and money, etc. It was a total pleasure!

We spent some time looking at each over the air channel to identify it and make notes. We then moved the ones we wanted into our ‘favorites’ on the TV. We now get CBS, ABC, NBC, CW, PBS, CREATE (they were demonstrating how to use the world’s most expensive sewing machine to outline quilt a piece), and FOX NEWS!  The other channels were either duplicates or things we weren’t interested in. If the new hardware we have ordered and the software we’ve installed doesn’t allow us to DVR either over-the-air-channels or the Internet channels we get, I won’t be upset. We just won the lottery!

I usually think technology is a pain in the rear, but every once in a while, it’s GRAND.

ADDENDUM: We have since realized we don’t actually get Fox News yet. They broke in on the Fox channel to give an update on the horrible mass shooting in Nevada. We’ll look more to see what we need to do to get Fox News.

 

 

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Hummingbird Bird Bath Update

Today’s project was to clean the hummingbird bird bath we built at the beginning of the summer.

 

After looking at what I was taking out, we quickly decided that we needed to get out the pressure washer for a bunch of it. I took the more delicate stuff inside, but we cleaned the shells, the rocks, and the bricks with the pressure washer after I turned off the pump and got all the water out of the bird bath.

We built this (adapting it several times before we got it right) so that it works with a flapper valve in the bath itself. Water is added through the holes we drilled in the PVC pipe. We attached a trash can that has a toilet part that turns on the attached water hose when it senses the water level is too low. It runs until the sensor is happy and then shuts off. This keeps everything good without our having to worry about it, plus keeps us from using a lot of water.

 

We really enjoy the SOUND of the water. That, in combination with the wind chimes on the porch right next to the deck make a really relaxing place to stretch out, read a book, play with the dogs, cook out, etc. One thing the bird bath doesn’t do, though, is clean itself. When I started cleaning it this morning, the whole PVC pipe had black gunk on it and some of the holes were plugged. The rocks and bricks had the black stuff, too, and it was pretty gross. I spent into the afternoon, getting everything cleaned and put back together.

 

We had hummingbirds this year, but it wasn’t a stellar year, with the really cool spring with lots and lots of rain and cooler than average summer. Not one hummingbird got in the bird bath, so it’s a really good thing we like the ‘water feature’ aspect of it.  We decided, since the birds aren’t using it, we would add a ‘glug’ of bleach to the water to hold down the gunk some. With my luck, the birds will NOW decide that this is a neat place. I’ll have to add a “NO SWIMMING” sign…

While we had the pressure washer out, I sprayed off the upper level of the deck and cleaned a few trash cans that needed attention. I’m looking forward to getting more serious with the washer when my back is feeling cooperative. I LOVE that thing!

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Sweet Success!

Last night I helped my husband bring the ham radio cable into the house. He then did a LOT of soldering, matching up upteen pairs of wires within the cable.

Today when I was out walking Amber, he came out and said, “I told the rotor to move and it DID!”

I surreptitiously took this picture of him this morning. He’s now having the stuff sync up (whatever that means.) I guess it’s making sure all the equipment, both physical and electronic, are on the same page. Then he’ll start a scan that goes through the whole band width from lower frequency to higher, listening for someone talking.  (This will take quite awhile, so he’s playing tug of war with Amber.)

He tells me that our new tower is in the 10 meter band. He has a short antenna on the roof for locals. The new one is capable of reaching people across the world from us, given the right circumstances.

Some people spend hours and hours contacting and talking to people all over the world. I don’t expect my husband to do this – unless he changes quite a bit. He DID bring a pad of paper and a pen so he can make note of the call sign and frequency of someone he contacts, so he can reach them again. He mainly did project in case of disaster, so we can find out what’s happening around us. He also loves a challenge. It’s also fun, so I’m hoping that he’ll spend some time just idly contacting folks. We’ll see.  To me, it sounds like one of the old Flash Gordon movies with Buster Crabbe about a million years ago.

The big thing is, after months of work, it finally is working as it’s supposed to.

Mark one big project on our list DONE.

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Ham Radio Tower Pictures

The two guys came up the driveway on the cherry picker, leaving the truck and trailer on the street in front of our property.

They had tricky negotiating of the cherry picker to get across the back yard and into the pasture area on the east side of the house close to the greenhouse.

You can see he had to go between the trio of evergreens (which we cut back severely) and the brick planter with iris in the planter and a metal bird flying on top.

One of the hardest parts of the job was getting into position to push the tower up. It took a lot of doing, with the cherry picker not cooperating at times, but he finally managed to put the edge of the basket (with him in it) right under the tower just past the antenna.

I don’t usually think much of tattoos – and particularly ‘sleeve’ tattoos – but this guy made me rethink the issue. He has arms that won’t quit with lots of muscles. Hey, I may be old, but I ain’t dead yet! :0)

They got the edge of the basket right under the tower and proceeded to slowly move away from the top, move the basket to stay under the tower, then move some more…

Here we’re about half way up. Each time they moved, they ran the risk of shoving the tower out of position. It could have been ripped from the iron plate that held one side to the concrete pad, but these guys are amazing.

It came up inches at a time while one of the guys and my husband tried to get it into position where my husband could attach the last bolt to hold the tower on the pad.

And the tower is bolted down! My husband immediately went through the barbed wire fence to secure the hardest guy wire to reach, and then the 2 others.

Here’s one of the guy wires. We have three, each 30 feet from the base, tied down securely, plus our dog, Molly, checking things out.

This is a close up of the tie downs on the guy wires.  I then put surveyor’s tape by the stake, where the tie down is finished, and then as far up as I could reach on the guy wire so we can readily see them when we try to mow or weed whack. I’ll also re-spray the actual stakes with neon paint so they show up clearly.

This is the base of the tower with the last bolt in. Technically, we could get our cherry picker guys back if we needed to take the tower down for repairs or any other reason, but I hope we never do.

My husband is out now, figuring out how to support the two cable runs that go from the tower to the house – one for the rotor and the other for the antenna. I just helped him tape the cables to the first support. He ran the cables through heavy plastic tubing around each cable, then taped to a metal support pole. He’s going to make another support from angle iron to be attached to a telephone pole, and then may need one more before the cables come to the house. This part seems easy, compared to all that has gone before and the actual pushing up of the tower!

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It’s Up! We Did it!

This isn’t OUR tower, but I wanted to share our jubilation that our tower is FINALLY up. (Pictures to follow as soon as the camera battery charges up again. )

We were afraid we would get yet another phone call this morning that the guys wouldn’t be able to come help us erect the ham radio tower that has been propped up by a jack and a large step stool for a couple of months or more now. As we were working in the office, we heard a large engine noise. It was a cherry picker!

They had a bit of trouble getting through the back yard and into the area to the east of the house where the greenhouse and the tower are. Then the cherry picker wasn’t happy with the lack of level ground, sounding an alarm and refusing to let one of the guys lower the basket he was in. They finally inched it over, working with it until it was finally workable again. They had to try several positions before they could actually get the edge of the basket under the tower just below the antenna in order to slowly push the tower up.

They couldn’t get any closer to the antenna without messing it up. (We had to put the wires on while it was on the ground. They had to be a certain length in order to get the right frequency. And the two sets of wires on the antenna weren’t the same length! I have no clue why it’s that way. We propped the whole tower up, moving it up inch by inch so that we could get it up high enough that my husband could run tests to be sure the antenna was working correctly.) That could have been undone in a second by the tower erection guys.

We had a couple of dicey times, where we all held our breaths, but they got it up. They held it in place while my husband put the last bolt into the plate that attached to the iron beneath the concrete pad. He then had to climb through the barbed wire fence to run the hardest of the guy wires. There were a total of three, and we got those tied down.

The wonderful guys left and we spent the next half hour taking things back to the shop. We still need to run the big wires that go from the rotor to the house and the one that goes from the antenna to the house, but the hardest part of the project is DONE!

YIPPEEEEEEE!

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Shoot!

We had our fingers – and all other appendages – crossed that today would be the day we finally got the ham radio tower erected. Our hopes were just dashed with a phone call. They’ll try to get here tomorrow morning now…

 

My husband has wanted a good ham radio tower for several years now. We lucked out, finding a ham guy who had an old 45 foot tower for sale, plus the controller for less than the price of the controller itself. We hauled it home in pieces.

 

My husband repaired parts of it, got the controller going, researched how to do the antenna (different lengths of wire between the arms yield different band widths). We brought each of the 4 ten foot sections, plus the finished antenna, out to the far east side of our property, close to the greenhouse.  He and I worked and worked to get the tower jacked up high enough to get the antenna attached so that he could test it to make sure that we were getting the band width he wanted BEFORE we pay to erect the tower. (We really don’t want to EVER have to lower it down and then pull it up again.)

 

We drilled, dug, backhoed, then did it all again until we finally got a hole approximately 3 feet on a side and 18″ deep. It took 33 bags of Sac-Crete to fill it up. (Thanks to our friends, the Taylors, for bringing a portable cement mixer and vibrator to help us make and pour the concrete for the pad. My husband made a heavy iron plate we sunk into the concrete, and then another heavy iron plate he attached to the bottom of the tower. One end of the plate is bolted to the one in the concrete. When the tower goes up, we’ll attach the third bolt to hold the tower steady.

 

We have three guy wires attached to the tower, ready to be tied to stakes we laboriously drilled holes for and then used a sledge hammer to pound into the ground. We have special attachment thingies to hold the guy wires to the stakes. Each stake is 30 feet from the base of the tower in prescribed places to make the tower as secure as possible.

 

We were really hoping to finish this part of the project today, but this is yet another one of the character-building exercises we’ve endured lately. We’ve waited several months, having trouble finding a company who could get their equipment up and into the part of the yard where we need them, and who gave us an estimate we could afford. We wanted to be super sure that there would be no problems, no accidents, no worries. Maybe tomorrow will be the day.

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Thing Two – Tower for Critters

We had an extra section of tower when we got the parts for our ham radio tower awhile back. My husband had put it in the pile of stuff we would take to the next city clean-up. I suggested we use it to display some of the critters we make.

My husband made a form recently and dug the hole a couple of days ago. Yesterday we got 4 bags of Ready-Crete, mixed them up and poured the concrete for the tower. This pic shows the project before we started mixing the concrete.

 

Here’s a close-up of the hold before the concrete was poured.

We plan to attach things like shovel birds, dragonflies, and other weird things we make to the tower at various points. The tower is beside our ‘watermelon’ propane tank and will greet people when they get to the top of our driveway.

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Ham Radio Tower Project

We have had to put off erecting the 45 foot ham radio tower we put together for a month or so, due to nearly constant rain here in Arkansas. I’m NOT complaining – certainly not in the face of what the good people of Texas and Louisiana are currently going through. We’re on top of a ridge line and this has just been a minor annoyance, at best.

 

We have contacted various people, trying to get this thing standing up and then tied down into place. One company said they couldn’t get their equipment up the hill or through the relatively small space between trees, the house, and the place where the tower is. Many companies didn’t even return our calls.  We have a friend who did a lot of brush hogging for us, who thought he might be able to help. We also thought of the man who uses a tractor with a front loader on it who might be able to help, but my husband is worried that the tower could be hurt with those, or that the tower might end up on my greenhouse.

We called a new company yesterday, now that our land is relatively dry. The remnants of hurricane/tropical storm Harvey are forecast to go to central and eastern Arkansas, missing us. This company is supposed to call us and come out today to give us an estimate. Fingers crossed we can finally schedule the tower to go up.

 

The angle of this picture almost make it look like the tower is on top of the greenhouse. It’s closer than I would like, but once it’s up and bolted down onto the concrete pad, and guy wires attached in three places in the ground, it should be as secure as anything can be. Here’s hoping that the new company can, and is willing to, help us, that we can afford it, and that it can be done soon.

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TOO MANY PROJECTS!

We’re always working on something, but lately we just have TOO MANY PROJECTS going on at the same time –

  • We hurried to get our quarterly blood tests this morning and get back again, trying to meet the man who is going to shore up our back porch ceiling after we stopped a rain leak. He wasn’t here and hadn’t called when we got home, so I called him. We’re on the list for today, but he was at another job and his wife couldn’t tell me when he would be here. That means we’ll have to wait until he comes and goes again before we can do our errands –
  • We have a call in to the man who uses a tractor with a front loader attachment to drive up and down our driveway, smoothing things out as much as possible from time to time. We want to ask him if he will use the tractor to help us stand up the ham radio tower. The people we called before didn’t come and didn’t call, so we’re hoping that Eric will be willing to help us. If so, we’ll also have him fix the driveway so he’ll make enough money for his time.
  • We wanted motion detector flood lights attached to the shop. In order to do this, I had to climb the ladder on the outside of the shop and hold the fixture steady while my husband attached it from inside the shop, also up on a ladder. I’m ‘height challenged – both in shortness AND being afraid of heights, so it was all I could do to go almost to the top of the ladder to hold the fixture. I had to go up fast, too, because my husband had shoved the screw through the fixture, but that loose screw was ALL that was holding up the fixture. We got that done, and in the next day or two my husband finished the wiring. ONE PROJECT FINISHED!
  • We’ve been working for a couple of weeks to install a 4-camera security system. We got a cheap one, knowing we would have to run wires for it. This turned out to be a bigger deal than we had imagined, with a lot of hair pulling and hard work to get it done. Now my husband is trying to (1) get the sensitivity level decreases so it doesn’t think bugs flying are intruders; and (2) figure out how we can get the pictures to show up on his computer, rather than on a screen down in the basement.
  • Our brains for our irrigation system suddenly died.  We’ve been really busy, plus we’ve been getting rain, so we didn’t notice it until we had lost a couple of plants. We ordered another one. My husband programmed it, but neglected to specify what day it was today, and had a.m. instead of p.m., so it took a couple of days to be sure it was turning on when it was supposed to and was watering for the correct amount of time, plus that the second side started up when the first side finished. SECOND PROJECT FINISHED.
  • We’re spraying KILLSALL on our weed trees and other overgrown areas to try to get things under control. We can actually SEE that the weeds are wilting, so our efforts are not a waste of time. My husband said last night that if I would mix up a batch, he would lug the 2 gallon sprayer around, since my back has been giving me fits lately.
  • We’re trying to cut the cord and get rid of DISH TV.  To this end we bought some stuff, researched a lot, and things are finally starting to come together. We have managed to get most of the channels we want now. Our viewing habits will need to change, since most of the stuff is now streaming, rather than taped. We had bought a TiVO, thinking we could get a bunch of networks over the air. It turned out that the reception isn’t great, even though we have a good antenna. We found a combination of ROKU plus paying for CBS All Access, plus paying for HBO will get us almost all of the channels we’re used to getting. Instead of paying $92/month for DISH, we’ll be paying $25/month.  We can also sell the TiVo, since we don’t need it, and go to either streaming only or cancel our subscription to NetFlix.
  • We have other projects – like training the new puppy – but these are the main ones right now. Since we’re working on everything simultaneously, we’re as crazy as bedbugs around here!

I hope YOUR life is full and fun – but not as crazy as ours.

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Custom Air Tool Holder

I don’t want him to get a big head, but my husband is really creative and handy.

We have bought air tools over the years we use with our air compressor in the shop. He saw an air tool holder in a catalog. He thought it was pretty neat, but it only held 6 tools. We have 10 and may get more before we croak, so he decided he would build a custom air tool holder for us.

He hung it from the shop rafters, so it’s good and sturdy. He measured out where the holes for the tools to hang in needed to go so each would hang straight, not bumping into one another. He made the hanger out of metal tubing we had on hand plus angle iron. He painted the holder with truck bed paint so it won’t rust.

This is a little different view and shows the connection to the rafters better.

And he planned for growth, allowing us to hang 4 more air tools if we would like.

 

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And We Pronounce It Finished!

 

We just hung up the Sun/Moon Metal Wall Hanging, pronouncing it finally, “Finished.”

 

It’s about 4 feet across by 2-1/2 feet high. The moon is a separate piece.

We hung it in our office, over my computer area. I learned a lot doing this piece, and look forward to doing more air brush work.

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4th Time is the Charm?

Dodecapod.Com

This is the wall hanging we’re trying to make.

Yesterday I scraped off all the yellow my husband insisted we add. I’m going to paint those parts either black or the background color. When those dry, I told my husband we could add a BIT of yellow to some of the sun flame ends. Hopefully, we can agree this time that the piece is officially finished.

One really nice thing – my husband decided that instead of being forced to buy cans of compressed air to hook to the air brush, he would run a line from our air compressor over to my art table! He spent most of the day on the project yesterday, after we went to Yeagers and bought 30 feet of pvc pipe, some attachments, etc.  He had ordered a regulator from the net, plus 6 feet of hose, plus a DVD on how we are supposed to be using the air brush. We need to get another adaptor at Yeagers today, but the project is almost done!

Please wish us luck?

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Ham Radio Tower Update

We’re cleaning up here, almost ready for the tower to be lifted into place and then tied down.

 

We painted the stakes with Day-Glo Neon Bright Orange paint so they can be seen and avoided from a distance. We tie the guy wires to 3 stakes, each 30 feet away from the tower.

 

They show up well now, don’t they?

 

My husband used the chain saw to cut a ‘tunnel’ through heavy briars and trees and other greenery to make a 30 foot long path. He then drilled an 18″ hole and then used the sledge hammer to pound the stake in.

 

This was hot, heavy, exhausting work, but there was no way around it. The stakes have to be 30 feet from the pad and 45 degrees from each of the other stakes.

 

The Holmes Erection people were supposed to come Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. No calls, no one came. My husband called them again a few minutes ago. He was transferred to someone who said, “What about we come right now?” My husband said, “GREAT!” and they’re on their way.

He still has to install hardware on each of the stakes to hold the guy wires, but we’re ready other than that. Hopefully we can get this tower up and tied down securely in the next couple of days.

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Chain Sawing a Path

acehardware.com

My husband just came in from trying to chain saw a path from the ham radio tower pad through the woods 30 feet to where he wants to drill a hole through the rocky ground and sledge hammer a guy wire stake.

He said he has to rebuild the chain saw before he can do any more, but ALMOST got as far as he needed to. He is, of course, super hot and exhausted, but he’s resting and drinking fluids. When he has rested, he’ll go up and take a shower, then come down and hopefully rest some more.

The people from Holmes Erection Company in Fort Smith are supposed to call and come this morning to look at what we need to do and where, and give us a cost for the job. Hopefully, this will all work out, because it’s the safest way to stand the tower up and hold it in place while we bolt the end of the base to the metal center of the pad and attach guy wires to the three stakes in the ground.

We’re nearing the end of this project, and the start of what I hope will be some fun for my husband. This is one of his long-time ‘wants.’ We lucked into the 45 foot tower, antenna, rotator and control box, getting the whole package for less than we would have paid normally for the control box alone.

So – the next step is to fix the chain saw and hope the people call and come today to give us an estimate.

 

youtube.com

We have four 10 foot sections of tower that look similar to this. On the top we have a humongous antenna, called a ‘quad’ type, a square of metal, fiberglass, and two rounds of wire at two different lengths for two different purposes.

I will be out there trying to get pics of the tower going up if these people will do the job for us. Soon now!

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