Tag Archives: Lewis projects

Water Pressure

We suddenly had very low water pressure several weeks ago. We discovered that the booster pump and motor in the well house (that control the added pressure we need on top of our hill) weren’t working. We spent quite awhile getting the booster pump and motor unattached and off the wall and called about trying to get it fixed. (We still had water, but just about 1/3 of the usual pressure).

As usual with our projects, the place we took it for repair LAST time had changed hands. Happily, the new owner agreed to see if he could fix our stuff. We left them with him in Fort Smith.

We waited and then finally the man called, saying the pump and motor were toast. They don’t make what we have any more, and no parts are available to replace. We gave him the go-ahead to order a new pump and motor – as close to what we had as possible. We picked them up in Fort Smith yesterday.

We spent from about 12:30 until 6:30 or so working in the well house and the shop on the installation. Of course, the new stuff couldn’t sit on the old mounts, so we spent a long time making a thick metal ‘shelf’ on which the assembly could sit.  When we got it made, we painted it so it wouldn’t rust. We took all the old attachment stuff to Yeager’s, trying to get new parts. We brought it all home and worked on it while we continued to wait for the paint to dry. (Even in the shop with the heat on, it takes a lot longer for paint to dry.)

We got the shelf mounted and attached the new pump and motor to it. We finished about 2/3 of the attachment yesterday, but discovered we didn’t have enough parts to finish.

Today – armed with gel with Arnica on my back and Tylenol – we’ll go to Yeager’s again for the parts we need to finish. I’m hoping that by the end of the day we’ll have our usual water pressure in the house again – a true luxury.

If we are successful, I’ll celebrate with a nice, hot shower!

 

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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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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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Another Compliment!

I’m not sure what is going on around here, but my husband paid me another compliment yesterday. We were getting ready for bed and suddenly he stopped and said, “You know, when we built this bed frame however many years ago it was, I ‘went along’ with your idea of decorating the headboard with stones, but I really wasn’t wild about the idea. Now I think it’s the best thing about it.”

About 10 years or so ago, we wanted to replace our bed.  We hunted for bookcase headboards with frames all over. Apparently, as we find so many times, we are not in step with the current fashion. Apparently NO ONE wants a bookcase headboard where they can actually read in bed anymore. We explored having one custom made and our teeth dropped at the prices. We decided to make a headboard and frame ourselves.

 

My husband is really good at visualizing what he wants to do and then making it happen. I’m more the ‘go-fer,’ assisting his efforts, running for parts or tools or whatever, holding the other end, etc. When we got to the part where the frame and headboard were together and stained, my husband said, “It’s done.” As usual, we disagreed. I wanted SOME kind of SOMETHING that we could decorate it with to make it OURS – to make it UNIQUE.

 

To kind of offset all the switches (controlling reading lights, fans, electricity to end tables, electric blanket controls, etc., I suggested we make ‘frames’ on either side of the main panel filled with River Rock. I liked the idea of adding the color, texture, and a bit of 3-dimensions. After looking at me a minute, he said, “Okay,” and helped me with the project, but with a decided lack of enthusiasm. I liked the idea enough for BOTH of us. :0)

 

To balance things, I added some river rock to the panels on either side of the bed.

It has been, as I said, 10 years or more since we built the bed frame and headboard. I’m still surprised that he suddenly told me yesterday that this has grown on him and now he likes it.

Maybe it’s something in the water. Maybe it’s the fact that I accepted when he asked me yesterday to spend another 50 years with him. I don’t know – but I love the compliments and hope they continue. :0)

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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 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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It’s UP!

Walmart

My husband found a nuts and bolts bin like this at an auction Thursday. It’s big and heavy and GREAT for organizing the gazillion sizes of nuts, bolts, and other thingies needed to make things in the shop. The picture above looks like what he got, but add several years, dings, and a lot of dirt and labels that need to be taken off as my husband arranges things the way he would like. He got it for a good price, though he had to wait a LONG time for it to come up for bid.

I thought he might add heavy-duty casters on the bottom so he could roll it around. OR, that he would make a base that it could sit on against a wall. He decided that he wanted to mount it to support beams on one wall of the shop. Since we had some trouble getting it out of the back of the truck and onto a dolly to move it into the shop, I knew that this would be quite a job.

He spent much of yesterday making a heavy metal mounting ‘shelf’ for the bin to sit on and welded it onto one of the horizontal support beams on the wall. He also made some metal straps for securing the top of the bin to another horizontal beam up higher.

Soon after we returned from getting rid of our metal scraps this morning, he headed for the shop. I didn’t want him to try to do this project by himself, so I went out to the shop soon after. An hour and a half later, we finally have it up on the shelf with a strap securing the top. He has more securing to do, but the big, difficult part is done. In my next life, I’m determined to come back as a man with lots of strength and a lot of know-how on project stuff, with the vocabulary that goes with it. I really wish I were a better helper in projects like this. I do the best I can and am very thankful, though frazzled, when the job gets done and no one is hurt.

We’re about out of wall space in the shop now. We are both very pleased to have a good, dry place to work with good lighting, heat or air conditioning if needed, the tools we need and enough space to do our projects without having to move a lot of stuff. I’M glad he has the smarts to decide to do something and then figure out a way to get it done!

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Kitchen Reorganization Project is Finished!

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I’ve spent about 3 hours cleaning out the four junk drawers in the kitchen. I finished – finally – and then fixed some lunch for us.

The drawer on the right is the original junk drawer, and is still the most averse to organization. I mostly took things OUT. The drawer on the left is now tools.

 

Drawer # 3 on the right is left-over tools, such as levels, stud finders, razor blades and holders, and measuring tape. The last drawer is my microwave steam cleaner, rolling-pin, extension cord and toothpicks.

Not perfect, but I threw away a ton of stuff, relocated things, and then reorganized what was left. We should have a much easier time finding things now.

I have officially called the end to the kitchen project now – at least for this Phase II pass.

I’ll decide the next project tomorrow.

Right now I may curl up in my chair and take a nap.

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Project for the Day is Done!

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The bins in the basement are empty. The Christmas decorations are now down and stored in ONE large lidded bin. The bin is now stored under the stairway.

I still need to make a list of the donation for the Veterans Thrift Store, but I can do that tomorrow. We won’t make the donation until after the first of the year.

The spaghetti sauce with meat is simmering on the stove. I have a cup of coffee and my book.

All in all, a great day.

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Did It!

Library Donation – We may add to this before we actually take it to the library.

 

Disabled Veterans Thrift Store Donation – We may add to this, too, but the foyer is now clear of the piles of books, clothes, electronics, etc.

So, today’s project is finished and I’m going to grab a cup of coffee, sit in my recliner, and dive back into my book.

Have a wonderful afternoon and evening!

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Sand/Water Blasting and Bulldozing…

Sun Sentinel

Actually, although I DO sandblasting on glassware and tools in the shop, and water blasting on the deck, concrete, and more, I am using the kitchen sink and cleaners for today’s project of scrubbing out all our trash containers, putting in trashcan liners (as I SHOULD have long ago) and putting things back together.

I’m getting several messages from this project –

  • I’m spending much of the day doing something I COULD have avoided if I had put trashcan liners in all the containers when they were clean, umpteen years ago
  • Scrubbing out trash cans is a LOT of work
  • Putting the clean trash cans with fresh liners back gives me good exercise – particularly the ones that belong upstairs
  • We have a LOT of trash cans! Since I’m scrubbing them all, I’m counting – and we have 21 trash cans inside this house!

I have SIX remaining to scrub, line, and put back.

If I still have energy, I’m planning to clean out the double cabinet area under the kitchen sink. (Can you imagine – things tend to fall out of there whenever I try to get something!)  :0(

With these two projects for the day and my 35 minutes on my elliptical trainer, I can feel good about my activity level today.

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The Insanity Continues

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Yesterday we had a pop-up shower in the afternoon. Apparently, this energized my husband because the rest of the afternoon into the evening was filled with outside work.

  • He announced that he had unplugged the hummingbird bird bath we made, saying it wasn’t working; no hummingbirds – or ANY birds – used it; and that it was making a mess on the deck. The fact that all of these things were true didn’t help with the disappointment when starting to dismantle it. I took the decorative stuff, bricks and rocks out of it, then unplugged the hose that attached to it. My husband then helped me dismantle the whole thing, saving what was reusable and putting the rest of the stuff into the burn barrel. He started the fire that got rid of the rest of the bird bath parts. Meanwhile, I decided to leave the ‘table’ we made for the bird bath and will put a large, low, round planter with saucer on it. I got a bag of potting soil from our stash and wheelbarrowed it over to the steps of the deck. I heaved the bag out onto a step and was bringing the wheelbarrow back to its place when I saw my husband looking into the trees on one side of our property. (I should have known.)  I continued the bird bath project, intending to trade out the good hose that went to the bird bath for the ratty one that hangs on the bricks beside the nook planter. I wasn’t making any progress, so I went to ask for my husband’s help.
  • He was standing with the chain saw in his hand, wanting ME to come help HIM. There was a tall, dead tree he had decided should come down. I pointed out that the tree would fall on the electric wires that run to the shop. He was unimpressed and undeterred. He was trying to cut a wedge in the tree, but the chainsaw blades seemed to be dull. We spent the next half hour or so changing out the blade and the blade holder in the hot shop. Then we went back out. When the wedge had been cut, I got on the back side of the tree and prepared to push. This came quickly, with the tree coming right down on the wires, but thankfully bouncing off without taking them down.

How is it that the person you love most in the world is also the person you consider killing from time to time?

I was hostile, but he was standing there, looking SMUG, saying, “I told you it wouldn’t be a problem.” This was only the beginning, since we needed to cut the whole tree up and drag it to our growing wood pile that we’ll burn ‘sometime when it’s safer.’ It took us another two hours for my husband to chain saw the tree into pieces and me to drag all the pieces and heave them onto the pile.

We limped back to the house, shed our yucky clothes directly into the washing machine and took showers. It took me a bottle of water, shower, and resting for about an hour before I felt human again.

Needless to say, the bird bath project remains unfinished. I do have plans to use some of the decorative stuff I took out of the bird bath in the aquarium next cleaning. I’ll enlist my husband’s help when we get back from the Breakfast Bunch to help me with the hose and the potting soil for the planter. I hope to plant some pretty flowers in it today.

And GUESS WHAT! – we have MORE rain in the forecast for this afternoon and evening…

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Hummingbird Birdbath Clean!

With the combination of the occasional rain followed by really hot temperatures, our hummingbird birdbath water decoration became overrun with algae within a few days’ time. It was really awful, so yesterday I took everything out, scrubbed and hosed out the bin, the bricks that sit on the bottom of it, and all the rest of the stuff. I took a tool we made and unclogged the holes in the PVC pipe that runs the length of the bin, providing the spray. I brought a lot of stuff inside and scrubbed it in the kitchen sink with a variety of things that finally got everything looking pretty good again.

Then I felt under the weather most of the day, so I didn’t put the things back out. I did that a few minutes ago. I had to clean out the PVC holes again, but everything else looked much better.

We have a trash can on the deck under the bin and a pump in the bottom of it. This recycles the water. We have a garden hose hooked up to the pump. When the water goes below a certain level, the pump allows the hose to fill the trash can to the proper level again.

 

We made this because I saw a really pretty design on Facebook. Of course, we couldn’t really replicate that, so we did the best we could with what we had. Ours is deeper than the one on Facebook, so I put bricks and rocks in the bin for the hummingbirds to sit on while they bathe.

 

Last year we didn’t see any takers, but we’re again hopeful that the birds will find this cooling and fun. Even if they don’t, the water makes a beautiful, relaxing sound that WE can enjoy when our doors are open or we’re sitting on the deck.  I’m happy that everything is clean now and invite all birds in the area to come and take a bath!

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Ammo and Clothes Washer Pump

We order lots of things online, but we don’t usually get such an interesting combination in one delivery. Today the Fedex guy delivered 9mm ammunition and a replacement pump for our clothes washer.  Amber greeted him in the driveway having just gotten out of her pool. She jumped into the truck with him, making him laugh, even though she was dripping copiously.

We got a really good deal on 1000 rounds of 9mm ammo.

 

We didn’t get a great deal on the replacement clothes washer pump, but we needed it. Our washer has been sending us terse messages for the past couple of weeks saying it was unhappy. We got an “F02” which meant we should check the drain hose to see if were kinked or clogged, and a “SUD” which indicated that there were still suds in the rinse water.

We made sure the hose was fine. I figured out how to go ahead and use the washer, bypassing the error messages until the new pump arrived. It was delivered this morning, so when we got home from Lunch Bunch, we tackled replacing the pump. My husband found a video online that showed him at least the idea of what was required and how to attack it. In half an hour, he had the old pump off and the new pump on.

The old pump had a long screw and a penny in there which my husband thinks caused the clog to form. We don’t know when that happened, but the washer and dryer combo are 13 years old. We really don’t know how the washer was able to function at ALL with as much ‘stuff’ as it had in it. The washer is running happily now, free of clogs. It’s GOOD to have a husband who is good at diagnosing and fixing things.

Now I won’t have to shoot him with my new ammo! :0)

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Hummingbird Bird Bath is UP!

Last year I saw the prettiest picture on Facebook of a hummingbird bird bath. This one is very different from the one we saw, but we enjoyed putting our spin on the idea.

This tub has a hole in the center where the water can come in. We have a trashcan under it with a pump. The system is set up to recycle the water, only using more water if the level in the trashcan goes down below a certain point, at which time the hose automatically turns on to add the needed amount. The PVC pipe is drilled with holes to make the spray.  The system is on a timer, so it starts up at about 8 am and turns off at about 8:30 pm.

 

I put bricks and stones in the bottom to be at a level where hummingbirds can sit or stand. They can play in the water, then warm up and dry off on the rocks. For some reason, we didn’t have a lot of hummingbirds visiting our deck, even though we had several feeders out and then built the bird bath.  I like the bird bath enough, though, if only for the calming sound of the water, to make it well worth the effort – whether the hummingbirds like it or not. :0)

I’ll put out feeders this morning, just in case we have some hummers around.

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Latest Mailbox Decoration Progress

In December last year, we discovered that my husband and I shared a ‘senior moment,’ with both of us thinking we had created a new mailbox decoration for the Christmas season. We looked in the hanging bar where we keep all of our mailbox decorations, but it wasn’t there. We looked laboriously all over the shop, thinking maybe we had started it, but hadn’t finished it. Nope. Nada.

After finally admitting we were definitely losing it, we started over. My husband used the reference picture we got from the net and generated the computer code that tells the torch what to cut.

Yesterday afternoon he made the piece we use to attach the piece to the mailbox and got it welded to this. We attached the piece to our stand with a huge clamp, then used the overhead projector to mark the piece on both sides. It is now ready for me to paint.

I always start with the back, making decisions and working out any problems there before I turn it over and paint the front. I’ll post progress pics as the piece is painted.

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The Robot is Back Up!

We built this robot several years ago and placed him at the bottom of our driveway to welcome visitors by doffing his hat and tell people our address. We put a chain around his neck and attached him to one side of the pull-down gate so he wouldn’t topple. He weighs around 200 lbs., so it’ no easy thing to work with him.

As I told you yesterday, the latest gusty winds blew him down. We could only see his feet sticking up at the edge of the driveway. The land slopes really steeply there, so there isn’t much place to stand securely, put a ladder up, etc. I was really dreading trying to put him up today. The last time we had to do it (the only other time he has fallen) I was really afraid one or both of us would end up in real trouble.

Today we used a come-along

to help pull him up the hill and over onto the driveway again. From there, we were able to get on both sides of him and boost him up onto his pad again. I encouraged my husband to think of something more we could do to keep this from happening again. We’re getting a bit long-in-the-tooth around here, and if we can keep from having do to things like this, we might manage to stay in one piece longer. We talked about it, deciding to add another length of chain – this one running from his neck to the tree down closer to the road.

My husband re-welded the top of his hat on, and we put the arm with the hat in the back of the truck. We had already put his head in the truck because it’s too heavy to try to lift it over your head and fit it into the hole on top. We got some chain and some couplings at the hardware store. After lunch we loaded a ladder in the back, put Amber in the back seat, and went down to the bottom of the driveway. It was easy to attach the second length of chain. The robot can LEAN off the driveway to the right if we get a high enough gusty wind, but we thing that’s ALL he’ll do. We can easily pull him up from that. My husband wedged the ladder down the slope against a tree, and climbed up. I handed the heavy head to him and he was able to drop it into the neck hole, and then we did the same with the arm holding the hat.

He is now again welcoming visitors to the Lewises!

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The Welding Lathe Project is Finished!

My husband finished his project of building a ‘welding lathe” this morning! He used plans he bought on the net. Of course, he made changes to the plans to make this more workable for him. He’s sending pics to the man who made the plans, showing him what he did differently.

The purpose of this tool is to make many welding projects easier. Usually, you spent half the time or more moving the pieces you’re trying to weld around, making sure they’re touching in the right spots, and that you can reach the spots you’re trying to weld together. You do a bit and then you have to take it all apart, move the pieces to weld another area, turn it over, and so on, until the two pieces are welded. With this tool, you put the pieces in, latching them together the way you want the two pieces to be welded. There is a motor in this tool that moves the piece at the speed you set, so that you can continue to weld the whole piece without having to change anything. There are vertical and upright settings, so you can easily flip the piece over and then start the motor and continue to weld.

My husband likes things to be moveable, so he added the extra angle iron at the bottom, attached casters with breaks and a plywood ‘shelf’ to hold things. He also added the coiled up tubing so that he can be grounded while he works. A handle he added will allow him to steer the tool, moving it anywhere he likes. He added an ‘arm rest’ so that he can prop up his welding arm while he works, adding accuracy for a smoother weld and keeps his arm from tiring.

This is the nice face plate he ordered for installation of the control buttons and display .

He attaches the pieces to be welded to the top of the chuck.

The red handle connects to a rod that determines the attitude of the tool. You can weld the pieces in the upright position, and then pull out the red handled rod in order to move the whole top into a horizontal position to continue welding.

The blue handle with the black gripper is the handle for moving the whole tool to a different spot. The unpainted rod that comes up vertically and then has square tubing welded to it is his arm rest.

He thinks he’ll use the new tool for about half of the welding he does. This tool usually costs about $1,000. He built it for around $400.

 

 

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Slogging Through the Art Room Clean Up Project

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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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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

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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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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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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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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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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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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