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So many things

Posted by joeabbott on March 31, 2014

My head is awhirl with stuff. Busy busy busy. A bit of a mess, but mostly one of my making. This post will just be a dump; an effort to “empty a junk drawer” in order to re-establish some order.


I’m on vacation this week; one I’d planned and anticipated but, when Suzy asked me about some plan or other for this time, I had no clue what she was talking about. Sure I had a week off coming up but that couldn’t be here already was it? Yup, it was.

imageI’ve been with my company for long enough that I get something like five weeks of vacation time off each year. I mentally reserve one for trips back to MN, one for hiking and climbing, one for time off around the end of the year, and one for a-day-here-a-day-there sort of outings. That’s four. When I earned my fifth week of vacation, I committed to spending it at home, doing at-home projects and that worked out for Suzy … she’d take time off then, too!

Unfortunately, our track record isn’t strong. We’ve honored our “spring cleaning” week a couple of time, but twice now we’ve shelved those plans: once when our pet Spencer was on his last few days (we spent the week caring for him) and last year work was just too busy to take time off to hang around. That’s all to say, we’ve done the week-off-thing a couple times.

But they’ve been so good, we’re doing it again. However, I found myself so surprised at having this week off, I needed to go into work yesterday and spend something like 8-hours just wrapping up projects, responding to queries, and arranging for others to pick up the work I wouldn’t be doing.


imageEven the casual visitor here will recognize that I like video games and, as of late, I have something of an achievement winning streak going: I’ve picked up gaming achievements every day for the last 20 days. I play daily, so this should be no surprise, but I’m not always getting achievements each day; the last 20 days, however, have been different. So I’m interested in keeping that streak going.

It’s not a do-or-die sorta goal, but it’s fun and I’m enjoying seeing how long I can keep it up. To that end, however, I’ve been playing a lot of different games … and that’s not my sweet spot. I tend to like playing the heck out of one game and then moving on when I get tired of the game. And I don’t get tired easily. Now I have too many games going!

After Far Cry 3 I played Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (and if you haven’t played that one, get it and enjoy some campy fun), I jumped onto the “game of the month” (or “Games for Gold” on the Xbox Live network) which was Civilization. I enjoyed it up until I had to play the tougher levels! In that game, for me, it’s walk all over the enemies or get completely stomped! I’m clearly not doing it right but I don’t seem to be having much fun playing it at the harder levels. I build up my armies, all other enemies seem to single me out, and I get completely stomped. And then as I’m trying to keep them at bay, someone achieves a “Culture Victory” or something like this. Just not loving that game. Just not. So I stopped playing … but deep inside me is the thought that maybe there’s an achievement or two left that I can wring out of it, though! <g>

imageAfter that I started Max: The Curse of Brotherhood which is an enjoyable little side-scrolling platformer. Cute art and fun execution as you’re given “magic markers” … as in “magical” markers … and allowed to draw your solutions to solve small-ish puzzles. Fun, but I’ve only completed one level.

imageI continue to return to Fable: Anniversary Edition and milk that for gamerscore. I’m not loving the experience as I’m just playing for gamerscore and, as I’ve documented in the past, that’s not the best way to approach a game (for me). Although part of what makes this least interesting are the achievements themselves! For instance, the I Did This For A Cheevo achievement: Perform a headshot with a Crossbow whilst dressed as a woman wearing a beard and the Redhead Wig. While funny it’s not technically fun and nothing I’d do in the game for anything but the achievement … and so it’s really teaching me little new about the game. I suppose it could enforce the use of clothing or hair styling … but those are such trivial game qualities that it’s not a big treat for me. Meh, I guess I’m just crabby.

And finally I just started Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag … a game on the Xbox One that really shows off the graphics and is a fun game to boot. As I just started, too early to talk about this one, but I’m sure I will once I get into it.

And while I said “finally” above, I should note that the very last DLC for the Bioshock: Infinite game just dropped and, as a Season Pass holder, I’ll be heading back into the world of Bioshock to see what awaits me and the game’s protagonist, Elizabeth. I’m quite eager to dive into this one!

Chickens are laying

imageIt’s been a long time coming but our chickens appear to be ready to lay again. During the winter months (here in the northern hemisphere), the chickens seem to respond to shorter days by slowing down a bit in laying; and then they molt! How a bird that responds to cold by losing its feathers survived to become a dominant meat animal, I’ll never know! Clearly man has injected himself into this Darwinian equation.

But, for almost three months now, none of our six birds has laid a single egg! Not one! We’ve even provided “supplemental lighting” to help fool them into thinking the days are longer! Those hens are no dummies, though … even when it’s light out at 7PM, they’ll start to head toward their nightly roost.

But yesterday we found an egg in the nest box and today, as I sit here typing this, I notice our golden star hen has been missing … and I bet she’s in a nest box now. Very exciting as it’s hard to buy eggs from the store when you have a half dozen chickens in your backyard and just the prior year had hundreds of eggs coming from them! Good to have them back.


Too many. I need to extend the path up the hill to the top of our property. If this was just work, it’d be fine … but it’s not, it’s figuring out how to cut a path along a very steep hillside. Tricky stuff. Suzy has found a couple of ideas so we’ll look at using timbers, rather than just some stone slabs. This will be a good challenge.

Then there’s the small retaining wall behind our bench. A simple thing that just needs doing. I’m curious if I should extend the wall to behind the three small, stone columns, but I probably won’t. We’ll see when I start digging things out.

imageI’m going to make good on my drainage plan. When we put in gutters for the chicken coop, we used “drain chains” as the downspouts. This is simply a decorative “chain” that hangs down from the gutter and gives running water something to run along to the bottom. For us, the bottom had been paver stones, but we chose to add mini rain barrels when the ground around the pavers were getting soaked. Unfortunately, the rain barrels needed to be emptied regularly. Well, I drilled holes in the side by the bottom and attached hoses … this worked great, but now we had hoses running along the ground. Time for a more permanent solution. Stay tuned for a post on this item … I have an idea and it’ll be grand!

Another project is the bridge. A few years back I built a small arching bridge for the path that runs through our backyard. It’s a very fine structure but it’s so slick you can hardly walk on it during the rainy seasons … and here in Seattle, you have a lot of rainy season. So I plan on pulling it up, shaving the top flat, and avoiding the arch altogether. It’ll hurt the look of the backyard, but better that than hurting your tailbone as you slip on the bridge and fall!

In conjunction with that bit of work, I plan on building up a small retainer wall behind the bridge. And lower one side of the path. And add a step or two to facilitate getting to our hose storage. Yeah, lotta work here.

Finishing things up

We had a hot water heater installed recently and I got mail the other day saying it was incumbent on us, the homeowners, to coordinate time with the City to come out and review the work and buy-off on the permit. Or something like that. What bother! But, looks like I gotta do it.

We also had a tree removed. That would make a good post in and of itself … I’ll look into that later but for now, I have a few follow-ups: removing the  tarp from the stump, spreading the final chips, and writing a few letters. After cutting down the tree, they treated the end with RoundUp; while it’s supposed to be problem-free for pets and animals, we draped a tarp over the stump and nailed it down. It’s been a week … I think it’s safe to remove the tarp now. We also asked them to give us all the wood bits from the tree limbs that were chipped and shredded … that was about 10 yards of material! We spread it along the path (works great), along the driveway, along flower beds, by the coop, and we still have heaps of it along the path up our yard. It’s a bit more than we need but it’s looking good and will work fine. And I want to write letters: the company that did the work did a great job and I’d like to acknowledge that; and, a couple folks with the City of SeaTac went out of their way to help with the permits and I’d like to give a nod to their efforts. Just folks doing their work but who made things easier for us

And other stuff

Yeah, there’s more. While my little bean doesn’t hold much, it got some space for family cares and worries. Stuff we’ll address when the time is right, but I know I’m not good with “worry” and there’s some of that going on. I’ll address it like a lot of people have for a long time: diving into work, keeping myself busy, and thinking about other things. Like video games and landscaping projects.


I’ll be posting more on the projects as the week unfolds. Today is planning day. Planning and getting stuff ready day. And it’s time to get to it!


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