Standing on the edge

Back-breaking blackberry banishment. I’d say that three times fast, but somehow that might tempt cosmic forces to let it grow back faster, so how about I don’t?

This was the third weekend of pulling all sorts of vegetation where it shouldn’t be growing.  Yesterday, I concluded that we still have a fence in place on half the creek bank – though it isn’t looking very sturdy.  The gatepost is shot for sure.  I’ve made my way down both property lines to close in on the area where the creek bank eroded.  From this point in, I need to tread carefully – the dirt under the tarp is pretty soft and the rooting systems of the blackberry vine shoots are getting progressively thicker.  I’m digging each one out carefully as I reach them, but I’m leaving ankle-sprain size holes in their wake.

Ultimately, I’m going to reach the edge of the “cliff” where there is a 6 foot drop straight into the creek.  Could be in another foot, could be in 3.  Won’t know until I know, though I’m hoping I don’t find out the hard way.

This is what it looks like:

See that pile? Dirt may or may not exist under it.

View from afar

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Me vs The Backyard: Let the Battle Begin!

You could ask me if we’re done with the kitchen.  I won’t answer you though.  I’ll be Irish and ask you a question back – would YOU be inclined to sand drywall and blow dust all over the kitchen and house?  Yeah, us neither.  We’re going to have to bite the bullet one day – I really don’t want to get to the 2 year anniversary on it.

In the meantime, BACKYARD!  Weird winter weather has stopped me from getting outside to do any major weeding before this month.  I’m normally pulling stuff in early February while the ground is still pretty wet, so this is major crunch time to get massive amounts of blackberry brambles pulled up before the clay soil hardens.

When we grudgingly visited the backyard for 2 minutes last year, we laid plastic tarps down to kill whatever grass was left (and discovered we lost several feet of land to creek erosion.  But, I digress.) Naturally, plastic is no match for a blackberry bramble – those puppies went under, over and occasionally through it.  Interestingly, those vines weren’t all that hard to pull up.  It behaved as a single netted unit – pull one, the whole backyard shimmies.  Since it tries to root every few feet, those roots stayed above ground – so wispy, so fragile, so very, very fun to mock as I tore them to bits.

Why mock?  Why not?  This stuff is ALIVE and not in a cute “roses are living things” kind of way.  More like that thing from Tremors.  Or big rotty looking mushrooms.  Really anything that grows – a lot – when you aren’t looking and then BAM!  Chokes you in your sleep.  So yes, mocked, stomped, killed big dead.

The random points of detail for today…let’s see… Oh!  Goatskin gloves.  I was able to grab all but the thickest vines and nary a thorn went through.  Score for me!

The olive tree is a mess – the acacia growing over the fence from the creek keeps pushing it over, so the branches just won’t fill out properly.  We’re cutting it back nearly to the trunk and hoping for the best.

The deck stairs are well past their half-life.  I tried pulling weeds near one of the cement posts and the whole thing started moving.  Left the weed for now. Sigh.

The hedge trimmer handle is busted.  Blade still works.  It is probably better that I have to be more careful – 4 or 5 years ago I went all light-saber crazy with a hedge trimmer and I light-sabered the electrical cord.  I really am luckier than I have any right to be…

So I’ll leave you with some pics.  Nothing terribly interesting and no shots of the erosion yet – I think this project won’t start to get interesting until we can actually stand in the creek and take pics from there.  Well that, and when we bring the genius that is Mark B over and ply him with food and drink until he helps us reconstruct the creek bank.

A little bit of progress

The sad and listing Olive Tree

Not sure where solid land ends anymore...

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Could you have done that the first time?

Remember here where I complained about the window framing sticking out from the sheetrock and my frustration with not being able to get the window trim to lay as flat as it should?  The foreman came back today and I told him that his finesse level kinda sucked on that one.

His response?  “Oh, I’ve got an electric planer in the truck.  I could go get it right now and shave it down right quick.  I thought about it when I put it up.”

Ummmm….. no.  Though that would have been helpful TWO WEEKS AGO before we did every other damn thing to put the room back together.

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Filed under Bedroom, Carpentry

I will add telephony to my resume

I changed a phone jack in the bedroom.  And didn’t electrocute myself.  And it works. I think.  More on that in a minute.

The old phone jack was attached to the baseboard on the wall that was removed, so the wires remained but the jack was dismantled.  It had a pretty hoopty piggyback setup where a full other phone line was loosely spliced into it for no discernable reason other than to extend the reach of the jack.  All unnecessary stuff which adds nothing to the room and more things to dust.

The incoming line was a CAT-5.  What is that?  Mr. Google tells me it is the fancier line that the phone company uses to handle the needs of data flowing across phone lines instead of just voices like in olden days.  Mr. Google also told me that the pretty blue ones go to the old red and green ones and the pretty orange ones go to the old yellow and black.  Yes, there is an order.  But why write it down when others have done so quite eloquently?   At some point when I have two nickels to rub together, I’ll buy him a beer.  You should too if you feel so moved.

Oh, back to the “thinking” it works.  The corded telephone we have is His.  I assumed when I plugged it in and got a dial tone, all was set.  The next day I was talking to my mom and needed to switch from the cordless phone to that phone and she couldn’t hear me.  I was crushed that my wiring prowess turned out to be not so prowess-ey.   After a few hours I thought to try his phone in two other outlets in the house and I couldn’t be heard there either.  His phone = busted.   Grabbed a new cheapo AT&T trimline phone for those pesky days when cordless phones are useless.  It arrives tomorrow for my final phone prowess test.

Anyway, want to see another “art” photo?  We call this Phone Jack Still-Life. 

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Filed under Bedroom, Phone Jacks

Time lapse progress

This was all a week or so ago.  Nothing particular exciting or unusual about the process, other than the typical, “Oh, is the color too dark?  No, it is just right”.

Getting ready to prime

The prime coat

Color coat #1

Color coat #2

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Filed under Bedroom, Dry Rot

Next house, I’m buying a pickup truck

Yesterday’s sewage issue is solved – thank you nice Roto Rooter man.  Yes, it was roots. Yes, I’ll be buying a new mop.

It raised a new-ish issue that the unused and turned off toilet in the laundry room downstairs is busted and leaks (clean) water.  These are not related other than the cleanup involved both of us jostling the toilet during mopping and dislodged whatever was barely holding the tank to the bowl.  He’s been threatening to officially cap the toilet for a while now – looks like that is on the list for the weekend.  The valve may be busted as well, which is a bigger job and one I don’t want to contemplate right now.

Back to the bedroom.  In preparation for finishing the bedroom, I had to go to the lumberyard to pick out new trim for windows, baseboards, and ceiling.  We aren’t putting in official crown moulding, but VHU (Very Helpful Uncle) suggested that we use a smaller casing about 3 inches down from the ceiling line and paint it and those 3 inches to match the ceiling to add the illusion of height.  A lovely idea.

The room dimensions are laughably small, but not so small that things that run horizontally along full walls are easy to transport.  My Honda can handle trim up to 10 feet if I put the seat down in the back and have it rest on the dashboard.  Naturally I needed 11.  (Well, 10 1/2, but I needed room for cutting errors.) The ceiling casing – which is a very plain cheapo molded casing – is very lightweight.  We stuck it out through the trunk, back seat, and then out the front passenger window.  I drove along as many side streets as I could.  Let’s just say if anyone was watching what I was doing, they clearly thought I was an idiot as the casing FLEW and bounced all around the front.  No, I didn’t tie it up.  Yes, I can see that I should have.  Oh well.

Next day, I got the baseboards at Home Depot and we (the dudes in the parking lot and I) wedged it against the sideview mirror.  That – coupled with the fact that the baseboards were much heavier – made for a safer driving experience for all.

Where is a Ford F150 when you need one?

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Filed under Bedroom, Dry Rot, Laundry Room, Priorities

Thank goodness for galoshes!

If the sewer gods aren’t happy, ain’t NOBODY happy.  That is all.

No, really.  You don’t want more detail than that.  I’ll just say it could have been a LOT worse.  And has nothing to do with this work being done.  Just coincidental timing and roots growing where they shouldn’t be.

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Filed under Priorities