Saturday, November 29, 2008

The best laid plans...

We had big things planned this weekend, We were going to the shore for Thanksgiving, but Mrs C was struck down with a violent case of Bronchial Pneumonia. So Wednesday afternoon the decision was made to stay home. We canceled the dogs visit to the puppy spa, and I headed over to Redners. I purchased a microwave tub of Garlic Mashed potatoes, a Jennie-O Turkey box, and a roll of Pillsbury Biscuits.

So I spent my Thursday being Mr. Domestic, looking after a sick spouse and preparing a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner. I started cooking at 12:30 PM, and I served dinner at 3:15 PM.

I cleared the kitchen Table and set it. I did all the laundry, and I took the dogs out for some exercise and playtime. Mrs C spent most of the day in bed, suffering, but she made it up and out to shower, dress, and come to dinner. Just the two of us.

It was the best Thanksgiving meal I ever had.

Yeah, I missed the rest of the family, but it was nice to have just the two of us, in our home, with the fireplace a blazing. Mrs C took some of the turkey and gravy, and made up three Thanksgiving bowls, one for each dog, stirring the Turkey stuff in with their regular food.
They were very happy puppies, and slept well afterwards.

So our plans changed, and I think in hindsight, they changed for the better. I accomplished a lot in the yard this Saturday, and Friday was fun, because I chaperoned my wife around the valley, to shopping locales. She was a little unsteady and weak, but I kept her warm and made her take a break as needed. She would do the same for me, I'm sure.
Though she admitted Friday night that she might have overdone it, and spent the day Saturday resting at home until evening, when I took her out for a late dinner. I worked from early morning until dark on the yard, doing numerous tasks, including the Christmas decorations.
We have a 15 foot tall Christmas tree in our yard, and I managed to decorate about about 12 feet of it. Maybe tomorrow I'll get a picture and post it. That's all for today. May all of you out there have wonderful Holiday seasons.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A New Member to the "Tools of Terror" Family!

Okay, so maybe this tool isn't so terrifying, but it sure is fun to use!

It's a Poulan gas powered Leaf Blower/Vacuum/Mulcher that comes with a bag!


There's nothing that gets the testosterone flowing for a guy, like holding a small engine in his hands, that is subtly vibrating with Horsepower! There's something about pulling the choke halfway out, and yanking on that starter chain a half dozen times, that puts a guy in the mood to do something manly. (Don't worry folks, I'll explain why you shouldn't "Yank someone else's chain" is a future post.)

Now before you start asking, "Chris, what the hell do you need a leaf blower for, don't you have a rake?" Let me explain. You ever tried raking a cemetery? Fairview is 16 sections comprising 26 acres, you see, and I can't get to them all. Or how about walking around from marker to marker with a broom, knocking all the cut grass off? That takes time. With the gas powered leaf blower, I just aim and FIRE! Blows them markers clean in one pass!
So now I can walk the graves with my weed whacker, and then come back by with the leaf blower. Bool Yah! It will look like a professional is taking care of the place!

And who do we have to thank for this new gas powered Tool of Terror to yard waste?

The beloved Mrs C.

She asked me what I wanted for my impending 47th Birthday. I thought long and hard, before saying "A new 25' measuring tape."
But that wasn't enough for her. As we walked the aisles at Lowes, she tried to convince me I needed the $200 Leaf blower that came in a back pack that made it easy to carry, and boy was I tempted. With that baby strapped on, I would be the envy of men at work in yards everywhere.

But my rational thought center in my head took control. The Backpack version was a WANT, not a NEED. There was a cheap-O gas powered version, but it didn't vacuum or mulch. So I ended up suggesting the best value, which was the Poulan. Mrs. C was happy, I was happy, and I'm sure all the souls at Fairview are happy I keep their final resting place as tidy as I can.

Everybody wins! Now I just have to watch out and make sure I don't stumble into any more of those portals to Hell out there!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Fun with Floors!

My 2.6 regular readers will recall that back around the last weekend of October I put wood flooring in the Family/TV room. That turned out so well, that I decided to move on to a much more technically difficult, but smaller area, the main hallway of our first floor.

The TV room took 15 boxes (17.59 square feet per box), the hallway only took six, but it took as long time wise. I had to cut and put in 4 different length transition pieces for access points to the hallway, compared to one 78" piece for the family room. The Jig saw got a lot of use in cutting pieces for the many different grooves and curves in the hallway. I must say, I'm getting quite good at this! Mrs C was most pleased, and impressed.

Of Course, the dogs were not happy. I had to use various instruments to block them from the area as I worked, and every trip back and forth to the garage after measuring to cut a piece was accompanied by my every faithful helper, Lucy. Wherever I go, Lucy must follow. Sally will watch, but Ethel will take a nap, being deaf, my hammering and sawing doesn't faze her.

Lucy though, always finds a way to get around whatever obstacle there might be, and waddle over to get in my way. Sometimes she brings a mouth full of food, and spits it out right where I'm working, as if to offer me a share.

I think it hurts her feelings that I'm not interested, but as long as I rub her belly and give her an occasional scratch behind the ears, she seems placated.

Heeeeere's Lucy! Sunning herself on a warm Summer day!

So that's what I did this weekend. I understand that the people who install carpet have to use a lot of tacks, but damn, getting them out is tedious and time consuming. The Hallway is a high traffic area in any house, and when you have dogs, keeping the carpet clean is an exponentially trying task, especially on carpet. I steam cleaned the hallway regularly, as often as every weekend, because of all the hair, and assorted dirt the dogs drag in on their happy little paws.

I put about 16 hours of labor into the hallway, and that's not counting the trip to Lowes to buy all the supplies ($309.44). Thankfully, Flooring was 15% off this weekend, so I saved a few bucks. I had to buy 5 boxes of flooring, (I had one left over from the Family Room), and two 78" transition pieces that I cut as needed. When I do work for other people, I charge $25 an hour.

So I look at the expense of this as around $700. When we looked into having an local floor company come in and do our family room, they came back with an estimate in excess of $3500, which I thought was kind of steep. The wood and supplies for the Family room ran me around $850, and I did that in 18 hours,, at a self labor cost of $450. So I look at that as an expenditure of $1300. So I think I can reasonably say I saved myself a few bucks by doing all my own work.

Hey, I already owned all the required tools, why not?

So What's next? The reasonably easy dining room, which is 22'6" by 11' 8 ". It is a perfect square, and won't require the jigsaw at all, only straight cuts. Now I round up for my supplies, and I'm figuring I'm going to need 16 boxes of flooring to do the Dining room, and I have enough of a transition piece left over to do the entryway from the kitchen to the dining room. I also have half a box left over from the hallway, so I've got spares.

I'm figuring 16 boxes at $52.20 a box equals $835.20 + tax = $ 885.31 throw in 16 hours of labor ($400.00) and I'm thinking I might get the entire first floor finished by March. I've got a couple of odd jobs lined up in the meantime, (like putting a second coat of paint on our 20 foot ceiling in the foyer) but I'm feeling pretty accomplished right now. Yeah, I like writing, but sometimes I get the best inspiration on what to write about while working with my hands, and that's what happened here, as you will eventually find out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hail Kathy Frederick! Humor Blogger Extraordinaire!!

Kathy Frederick at The Junk Drawer is the Queen of all Bloggers. I have been plagued throughout my blogging career with the inability to make links consistently work on my blog. I never did it right two times in a row. So I asked the Mistress of the "What's That Wednesday" for technical instruction. So What does Kathy do? She creates a link that helps us all!
Click Here my friends to see a simple Tutorial. There you go Volvo Driving Soccer Mom! You don't have to ask me anymore! As if I knew to begin with.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Casey's laws of Yardwork # 4....

Whichever direction you are attempting to Rake leaves towards a curb, that is the direction the wind will start blowing from in 30 MPH gusts.

I went out this afternoon for about an hour to try and rake some leaves. I swear to God, no matter what direction I tried to rake them in, they blew back at me. The dogs didn't seem to mind. Lucy and Ethel sat on the porch for the most part, staring at me as I raked futilely away.

But Sally? Ah, Sally, she of the big floppy, ever wagging tail. Sally ran back and forth through the leaves, having a damn good time.

Casey's Laws of Yard work # 5: Whatever you are doing, let the dogs help. It will make it seem like a much easier task. (and it will go faster)

I'm not suggesting you let the dog operate the Chainsaw, though I wouldn't be surprised if a dog could drive a riding mower. If only I could train them to rake leaves.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lumberjack Love: Why you don't wear loose hanging clothes while operating a gas powered 20" Poulan Chain Saw

Waaaaaay back in February, we had an Ice Storm ,that made two of the trees behind our house fall over. They were big trees, as in more than 50 feet tall. One fell somewhat harmlessly in the yard. The other? Well, it sort of hit the back edge of the house and destroyed 30 + feet of rain gutter. I had to replace the whole thing. I paid a professional, and it looks great.

So here we are, early November, and another tree is leaning precariously towards the house.

I call this as being proactive. Thursday afternoon, when I get home from
work, I'm saddling up and heading out back with Mr. Chainsaw. Just thinking about it, my Testosterone levels start rising. I put a new blade on the Chainsaw, filled the chain oil, and mixed the fuel.

I'm ready. I'll be evicting several families of Squirrels today. Too Bad!

5;30 PM update:

Things didn't go so well. The tree is down, and I got a bruise, or two. Things never seem to go exactly the way you plan, you know? You cut all these specific notches, to make the tree fall a certain way, then you grab the axe, make a couple of swings, and the damn thing looks like it is going down perfectly.

I had to climb up on the roof

With the Chainsaw.

then it started raining.

Very hard

and it got windy

Then the Chainsaw jammed.

I said a lot of very, very, very, bad words.

I accidentally got my insulated, hooded, outdoors work shirt caught in the Chain.

Man Was I pissed!

I didn't take before and after pictures for posting. GRRRRRR! Now I'm heading to the gym for a swim, and some jacuzzi time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Naked Pumpkin Runners Ticketed!

This is one of the Freedoms we protect when we vote!

Naked pumpkin runners ticketed in Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. -- Boulder police have ticketed about a dozen people running naked on the street while sporting freshly gutted pumpkins on their heads as part of an annual Halloween event.
The citations for indecent exposure Friday night came as dozens of other costumed revelers, including a man with a red cape and a sword, chanted to police officers to let go of the streakers and "find real criminals."
The event known in Boulder as the Naked Pumpkin Run has been held for 10 years. This year it drew a huge crowd, prompting concern from police.
Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner says officers "wanted to do something before (the event) got out of hand."

Can you imagine if we had this event in the Lehigh Valley? Bethlehem, Easton? Maybe in the Canal. But Allentown?