Mom got firewood, gutters cleaned.

July 12, 2019

We cheated a little bit with loading Mom’s firewood.  We loaded some of the smaller hardwood stuff and then filled in the rest of the truck with the cut and split poplar I bought in June. I got a bit more wood out of the bargain but, I have to do the work of cutting and splitting that wood.  Mom gets the cut and split firewood that is ready to burn in her wood stove. I figure I have about 4.5-5 cords of cut and split fire wood and about 1.5 cords of mostly hardwood that needs to be cut or split stored for this winter. So giving Mom some easy to burn firewood for her woodpile was an easy choice, that works for both of us.  Mom has been dealing with a back injury for about 9 months and has a day surgery scheduled next week.  So cutting and splitting wood is NOT a job she needs to be doing for a few weeks. I can putter around my wood pile and split the hardwoods and make kindling this summer that will help us both this winter.  I did not expect to hit my 6+ cords of wood goal this summer so if I have to help Mom out I have plenty of wood on hand.

The gutters are clean out though I did not do the work.  It cost $70.00 to have the gutters cleaned and that seemed like a good price in comparison to me going up and down the ladder 140 times cleaning out the goop in the gutters for a couple of days.  I have bought some gutter screens and a debris downspout catcher that I want to install this summer.  If you install gutter don’t rely on chain down spouts if you have a lot of leaf debris or winter snows. Chain downspouts are okay as a decorative element but to move water effectively install good downspouts.  It should be easier/cheaper to add a chain down spout to a gutter system with down spouts rather than adding good down spouts to a chain system.

Summer has finally got hot here in the Treasure Valley.  90-100 degrees F. for the next 5-7days which isn’t that bad for mid- July in High desert. I can handle working a few couple of hours outside as long as I stay in the shade.  I am not ready to work in full sun but there are plenty of jobs to be done in the shady part of the yard or in the A/C cooled house.

One of the jobs I’m starting is painting. I have been watching youtube vids on how to do some basic Sheet rock repairs and taking time to get all of the prep work down prior to painting. I did some very minor/sheet rock repairs using spackle and an expired credit card to spread the spackle.  Wow! using that card made a huge difference in how the repair blended into the existing drywall.  Taking more time to let the repair cure and then sanding is making the repair almost unnoticeable other that the wall needs to be all one color. I have quite a few of my first attempts at repairing drywall jobs that look terrible in comparison. I’ll be sanding those “repairs” back to the Drywall and getting them cleaned up a prepped for paint.

I’m starting with my 3/4 bathroom that needs not only new paint but some new flooring as the linoleum is cracking and has split.  I’d like to install a new sink faucet and shower hardware but that will have to wait as I save money for those projects.  While this job “updating” the small bathroom are cosmetic.  I’m turning what I have learned in theory, into practice on a small project.  I have most of the tools I need to do the project correctly and not just slap a coat of paint and hope no one notices all the mistakes.

 

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Finally got most of Mom’s blinds done!

July 6, 2019

I have been adding/replacing Mom’s old blinds with my somewhat better shape old blinds.  I bought a couple of packages for universal fit blind brackets for Mom’s 47 inch blind.  The old blind brackets are so old the brackets are very brittle and tend to crack into non-functional pieces. While the new brackets are cheap at least they are made of a flexible, yet rigid material not prone the cracking under a little bit of pressure.  Mom’s windows are all dry wall casements not wood framed.  That adds another challenge installing blinds that fit within the dry wall window casement.  I think the correct long term solution for Mom’s windows would be a window casement that frames the windows, but that would probably require a custom built window blind to fit the new interior dimensions.  The windows sort of suck for installing blinds easily but the window casement dimensions currently can be fitted with standard blinds available at most Big Box stores at low cost.

I added one of those sort of cheap roller sunshade blinds to the outside of a small window that has the portable A/C unit. It took a little cussing but over all the blind seemed to cut the heat on that window with out blocking the light for that corner of the room.  You can see through the gaps of the blind from inside but you can’t really see into the house from the outside.  We added new curtains and curtain rod to the “big” kitchen window. The new thermal curtains in place of the short half window curtain rod seems to make that area feel bigger.  The new thermal curtains are a light color and I think having the half window curtains broke up the flow of the window and wall by divided the window in half.  I felt as if that side of the house and window were cooler.  That might have been a reaction to make my work feel worthwhile but Mom said she thought the rooms looked and felt “better”, more like it was her home and not just a house.

I did a bunch of little jobs around Mom’s house but those little jobs really made a big impact on the look and feel of her home.  I need to help Mom replace the guts of her toilet. Now that she has bought tools for the job it should be simple if not easy.  Mom wants to do the work and I’ll be offering “helpful advice” as she does the job.  This will be great for Mom to use her own tools to fix her own toilet.

I have great news!  My peke Tucker seems to adjusting/feeling more secure about load noises like thunder or fire works. He only freaked out during the 4th for about an hour and I gave him tight hugs.  On the 5th it only took about 15-20 minutes of hugging to get him to calm down. Tonight the 6th we had a bit of thunder and fire works and Tucker found his quiet spot.   Just having the little pup feel secure and safe is wonderful!

Next week moving and stacking wood, Huzzah??!!!  Also I got another new/used coffee pot and hopefully it it will work more than 3 days!

 


Great shopping this week end and trying to help Mom

June 30, 2019

Albertson’s had a good sale this week, but what it a great shopping weekend for me is the additional 10% off for veterans.  Oh and some additional coupons for chicken thighs at about 70 cents per pound. A couple of 3 plus pound packages of petit-sirloins and the freezer is about full of meat for the next several months.  True Value Hardware had a ‘pedestal fan’ on sale for $16.99 that I bought.  I like this fan, as the round pedestal is very heavy, so the the fan does not seem prone to tipping.  I prefer a solid sloping pedestal fan rather than a fan that sits on on a X of metal legs as the base of the fan.  No toes getting hung up/kicking the fan base. I will buy another of these fans for the living room to help circulate cool and warm air this summer and winter. Having the correct fan in place to circulate either cool or warm air is critical for me as I no longer use any sort of “Central Air/ Heating system.  Even with adding all the additional fans to move air my power bill is still much lower compared to using my old “central system”.

I did not get to help Mom much this weekend.  I had about 4 hours sleep on Saturday.  My attitude and emotional outlook was “problematic”.  I had no desire to inflict my poopy attitude on Mom so I rescheduled for Sunday.  Mom did not feel good/tired and her attitude was not conducive to getting much work done on Sunday.  The day was not a total loss as I got Mom some sale stuff from Albertsons and I installed one of my old blinds in her kitchen window.  Mom wants to replace the guts of her toilet but did not get everything needed for a total replacement.  That is okay, as I did not bring all the tools needed to do the replacement of toilet “guts”.

Speaking of tools.  Having good hand tools for a variety of DIY jobs usually does not get much attention on prepping websites. It is all buy antique hand powered tools or battery power tools and we don’t see how multi-functional a good set of vice-grips, channel lock pliers or screwdriver set can be a critical tool.  I’d say if you are looking for 2nd hand tools check out your local Pawn shop. Most of the tools are “contractor grade” and can be had for a good price.

Last but not least.  I will say, you should try doing a few small DIY jobs.  Buy the tools as you can afford so you tackle larger jobs.  Also if you think a job “in home” may be to big to tackle in a 2 days get a good contractor to do the work. If you are working in the yard or your shop take all the time you need to do the job.  How do you find a good contractor?  Educate yourself about the job and ask questions of the contractor.  You don’t have to be an expert, just some basic knowledge about the work you want done and how that work “should” be done.

You will screw up and make mistakes, that is part of learning a new skill. Sometimes the difference between failure and success is 1/8th of an inch or less.


Good shopping this week….

June 26, 2019

I did good overall on the grocery shopping this week.  Got a good price on some beef steaks and a roast at Albertsons Tuesday the 25th.  Albertsons gave me an “unlimited”  digital coupon for chicken thighs for 80 cents per pound so Mom and I will be stocking up this week.  Albertsons is having a special buy on seafood and additional 10% discount if you are a Vet, or Military member on the 28th and 29th of June.  This is a great time to get that shopping list ready for that additional discount for the military and Vets.

Some of the other shopping I got done is adding a few more of the cotton bath towels and wash cloths from Bi-mart in Caldwell Idaho. The towels and washcloths are very good though not not Extra-fluffy towels you can buy at a much higher cost.  I washed the towels before using them and the towels, wash clothes seem to be above average in quality to most towels.  Especially considering I spent less than $4.00 for a 36 inch x 54 inch long bath towel.  There is nothing wrong with paying a higher price to get a good quality product.  What I hate is paying a high price in stores when a discount store offers the same or better product and I pay for “Marketing”.

I stopped by on of the 2nd ha stores and got a “new” coffee maker.  The new Cuisinart coffee maker uses a Thermal insulated carafe rather than a hotplate to keep the coffee warm.  This is great as there is one less failure point in the coffee maker.  I can’t burn the coffee or anything else because I forgot to turn off the coffee maker.  It seems that this model of coffee maker costs about $72.00-75.00 new and has many good write ups and reviews. I paid about $8.00 dollars for it.   I cleaned up the 20 year old Procter-Silex simple coffee maker to stash in a cubby until need again as a backup coffee maker.

Simplicity not only has it own charms, it can save you time, effort and money.  Now I have a coffee maker with no hot/heating plate,  a thermal insulated carafe that will keep stuff hot without using electricity.  Perhaps the electrical savings is small but it’s money in my pocket and not in the electric company.  I don’t have to worry about the coffee pot being “on” and perhaps creating a fire hazard.   I will have to twist the lid of the carafe to pour a cup of coffee.  THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!  : )

It has been brutal to watch Mom struggle with her back injury. Mom is no wimp and she looked so devastated at the prospect of just getting her basic shopping done it just wrenched my heart!  So I played driver and got her to the shopping areas she needed to hit, and I got some items I have been going without so it all even out.  I’m going to try and give Mom at least one day a week to get jobs done around her place.  Getting the wood off  the dually, stacked and covered should be doable this weekend.  I bought Mom a little digital camera and a mouse as her mouse was acting a wonky.   The mouse probably needs a good cleaning and I can handle that job.  The replacement mouse just makes her life a little easier.

Speaking for my jobs around my house.  The wood pile in the alley can wait to be moved as it mostly cleared for any city services or blocking the alley.  I can help Mom unload the wood out of her truck this weekend.


Mom got her tomato plants

April 22, 2019

I’m learning when you get “pony pak” vegetable need to go in the garden beds or transplanted into larger pots within a day or two of purchase because the plants get root bound quickly in those small pots.  It was amazing to see how much the Sun Globe cherry tomatoes perk up after moving them into 3 inch pots. I’m going to have to invest in getting some of those small 3-4 inch small pots for succession and starting plants for a fall crop.  I did not consider how I would plant crops in the Future green house.  I’m going to need a lot intermediate size pots and many large pots to grow plants nearly year round.  Yard sale season is starting so I’ll keep my eyes open to getting pots for the green house plants.

I’m holding off planting any Brussels sprouts as we are already seeing 70 degrees F. this week and I’m afraid I’ll grow a huge plant that will have no actual sprouts to harvest.  The broccoli and cauliflower plants seem to be suffering from transplant shock but I hope they will recover as the frost cloth provides a little protection from the sun and the plants are getting watered in the garden beds.  I’ve never used a Frost Cloth cover before so this is a learning experience for me.  My hope is the white cloth will reflect some of the heat away from those cole crops and help keep the plants from bolting in the garden bed.  I bought more seeds so I’ll do starts of those cole crops in late summer indoors and try for a fall harvest this year.

I started de-thatching and adding grass seed plus compost to the front yard grass area.  I got about of 1/4th of the front grass area done as de thatching by muscle power is a challenge for me.  I reseeded grass with a drought tolerant fescue grass seed mix then added compost and water.  The compost areas sort of stand out in the formally bare patches of grass but whether is the dark color compost or adding water that area of the yard is looking a bit better/greener already.  The backyard grass area has some new grass sprouting up and I’m hoping the grass will fill in that area.  I have not had to fight many weeds in the back yard area so I know good soil does help stop bad weeds.

I was darn happy to see one of the strawberry plants in the front yard kiddie pool bed has a couple of little flowers after the massive weed clean out and adding new soil I did last week.  If I remember correctly this Strawberry plant is an Ozark and while all the plants are greening up I was surprised to see flowers so quickly after the plants being manhandled so recently.  I have some critters digging into this bed (squirrels) but I have a home made hot pepper spray mix I’ll spray on the straw mulch in the bed.  I used a Tabasco pepper spray mix a few years ago to discourage squirrels a few years ago that was effective keeping those critters from chewing on my wood eaves and setting up nests in my attic.  The hanging bird feeder hooks have worked great.  The birds are messy eaters and squirrels have been happy to feed on the seed that falls to the ground.  Unlike many people I like watching squirrels even though they can be a little annoying at times.  A little spray bottle of home made pepper spray tends to make the squirrels go to the area I prefer in my yard.  Especially if the squirrel can find an easy meal there.  It is funny to watch a squirrel  reach for a suet cake that is at least 3-4 feet beyond his reach.

I’m often surprised by what people consider “good animals” and repelling the “bad animals”.  I think the brown little sparrows and larks are great bird watching.  Oh, the birds don’t have showy plumage but they are a study in and of themselves as “survivalists”. Squirrels are much the same as being survivalists.  I don’t mind animals that are opportunistic for a free/good meal.  I do the same thing when trying to survive  winter!   I’d shoot coyotes around the ranch that killed a calf.  I did not blame the coyote for trying to eat the calf but the cow calf was needed for me to eat in the future.   We were fellow Apex predators competing for food.  Even if you are a vegan you compete for food with other Herbivores like birds, deer and squirrels.  Trust me a deer, few rabbits, gophers, moles and voles can reek havoc on a garden.

I like wild life in the city and in my yard.  That is why I use a little pepper spray to encourage some critters to go elsewhere to feed.  But I would have no problem shooting an animal feeding on my garden nor a predator hunting my dogs and cat.  Thankfully this not a problem I need to deal with very often.


Rainy day good excuse for a rest day

May 12, 2018

I thought I stopped in time but I seemed to pulled a muscle along my neck and shoulder.  I took this rainy day off to rest that area and while it is not 100% it does feel 100% better than it did yesterday so it should heal up with a couple of easy days to get it loosened  up.

Speaking for myself I find that doing little things to keep the pulled muscle area moving a little bit with light weight work helps with the healing process. So I have just been doing some puttering around the house rather than any heavy lifting jobs. I finished getting the lawns watered and then a light rain came through to help finish up the job.  I made up a big batch of dog food this time using chicken quarters, green beans and brown rice.

No rain today (Saturday), the pulled  muscle is stiff and twinges occasionally but overall it seems to be healing up quickly.  I started the day with pulling the weeds out of the front rose beds.  With the mulch that covers these beds the weeds are very easy to pull out.  Then a split the rest of the day getting the house vacuumed,  clothes washed and finish building the last garden bed.  Having the shop cleaned up made the bed go together quicker than the first two beds. Putting the supporting 2x4s end pieces of wood first made adding the 10 foot long 2x6s much easier, plus having the work space to clamp the boards together, drilling the screw holes saved much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I did not add the soil or till the new garden bed as moving the big bags of soil are a bit to much for my shoulder muscle until it gets healed up.

One of the best things for me building these garden boxes is I have learned how to follow simple building plans, use all of my tools and that trial and error is not a bad way to learn. One of the worst aspects I have is doing ALL of the work and not getting inpatient doing all the measuring, fitting and drilling out the screw holes, because I wanted the project done quickly rather than taking the time to make sure everything is done correctly.  Even a stacked concrete brick wall can be strong using re-bar and sand as a filler in the cavities of the block wall. I don’t think I’d use it as a house foundation but for a base for fence I think it would be good enough.

Good fences make good neighbors or unless you protect your property rights no one else will protect them, via precedent or squatters rights.  We need to get up some fencing and post more signs around Mom’s property.  Mom can be as nice or nasty as she chooses but her property lines must be respected.  Even a temporary fence is better than nothing as it proves you are protecting your property.  I fought a long hard legal battle about property rights.  Not good, so it is best nip these thing in the bud.  Even a temp. fence declares your right to your own property.  No one will ever care about your property than you. Do all you can to protect that property!


House pictures!

December 16, 2017
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Front Entry

That pic gives a good idea of all the all the work done via the siding to the right as you are looking at the pic you see part of the new window installed. I did not have the porch windows replaced because of the additional cost.  The porch is protected but not insulated so it seemed a bit silly to invest in new windows for that area.

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This is the before pic after the roof was added

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North side of the house from the front yard. 

As you can see I need to paint the foundation area next spring or summer but I very please with the look of the siding.  Adding a stone fascia would be optimal but paint is a lot cheaper and faster.  My local True Value store has matched both the red and grey colors on the house so I will probably get a red paint for the foundation that matches the red accents.  I’ll be adding the new door lever and dead bolt to the front door once I get paid next week.  I’m going with an aged bronze finish like I installed on the back door.

Other happenings:

My neighbor is buying the large rounds of wood that I got but wasn’t split.  The neighbor is a burly guy and I’ve seen him split wood so this give me more space for wood and the neighbor get some great wood late in the season for a great price.  With this wood and buying fruit (apple and cherry) from the local orchards staying warm via wood heat won’t be a problem.

Speaking of burning wood both Mom and I are learning how to burn split pine.  I have wood racks on a concrete base and when there is an inversion dry soft woods suck in moisture like a sponge. All wood is now up off the concrete and is covered on top by a tarp.  All of the wood ends are exposed to the wind for drying.  Here in the west we don’t have a lot of hardwood for burning.  I recommend stocking up on Douglass/red fir and hit the orchards for apple/cherry wood. Elm and locust can grow here but it a bitch to split.

Speaking of splinting wood I found a youtube vid of using a sledge hammer with an axe or splinting maul to split large rounds of wood.  It is not fast but it it should be doable for me if it works.  I have a few rounds I’d like to make smaller and if it works I can go out and pound on the logs without trying to muscle through the splitting the logs.

Last but not least I laid down thermal barrier on the floor of my backdoor entry way.   I think when it was originally installed it was a glass patio door and then enclosed.  The floor area sits on concrete and has very little insulation.   I added a rubber backed carpet and that helped some on the cold and heat from the concrete radiating hot in summer and cold in winter. I laid down Thermal barrier on the floor and cover with the rubber back carpet and we gained another 2 degrees of heat in the back room.  The carpet is not sliding around and the back part of the house is getting warmer as I type.

I don’t think the addition to my house was very well insulated so I have to insulate as money become available.  I’m not going to screw around ripping off the siding so that means I have to insulate from the inside out.  I’m not going to tear out drywall because  I feel a bit cool and semi uncomfortable.  I’ll make this as comfortable as possible then gather cash to make things more comfortable.

It is not like we are freezing to death.  Heck at worst the temp reading was 62 degrees F.  Hardly a precursor to the Apocalypse!  Add socks and put on a sweater is not exactly a sign of the end of civilization.