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Letters home to mom

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    • Coda
      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
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      Father Time is riding out his last few minutes of being the temporal keeper for 2011; he sits in an easy chair with a calendar showing “Dec 31” behind him and a grandfather clock pointing to the time of 11:53. … Continue reading →
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      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

Downtime and feeling guilty for it

Posted by joeabbott on April 4, 2014

imageOn Monday I put in the drains for the chicken coop and my knees felt older for that effort; Tuesday and Wednesday were stone-step days, and after moving around 1500# of rock, my back was the worse for wear. While I tend to be in pretty decent shape, those projects tested me sorely. So when Thursday came around and I was still abed at 7:30AM, I loved it and decided then that I’d find little things to do that day. No projects.

For starters, Suzy and I decided to head south for a little breakfast treat: a bakery going by the name Legendary Doughnuts lives up to their name and makes phenomenal baked goods. I have a jones for their buttermilk bars and Suzy enjoys a good tiger tail or apple fritter. They were definitely on our “let’s misbehave and get a donut for breakfast” agenda.

We also needed to pick up our taxes from an accountant about 10 miles south of our home. I’d asked the office administrator to mail us our prepared forms but after we hadn’t seen them in a week, I called back. “Ooops,” she said with a giggle, “guess I got busy and forgot!” I was incensed and not open to trusting this nitwit any further with our finances than necessary, so we’d pick them up. So early in the day and I was already cross!

Finally, it’d been a while since we’d walked through the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, so we thought to put Suzy’s year-long membership to use and drop by. So, a few errands and I’d get out of manual labor; at least until later in the day!

imageWe stopped by to get our taxes first and any notion that I was paying too much for someone else to do my taxes left my mind upon seeing her bill: what she was charging still irked, but seeing she needed 21 forms to complete our return … it was suddenly absolutely worth it.

From there we headed to the donut shop and I was disappointed to see no buttermilk bars! For shame! “A weekend treat,” I was told. Alas. I asked her to give me a couple of raspberry filled powdered donuts (she ran into the back and made them right then and there!) and splurged with a salted caramel treat of some sort. Suzy got her fritter and ‘tail, but also tossed in a “dossant” … which is a croissant that’s given a donut treatment (deep fried and glazed). The dossant was a real treat!

imageAnother good thing about Legendary Doughnuts donuts is that they freeze really well. Maybe all donuts do, but we almost always put over half our treats into baggies and freeze them for a week or so out.

After that, we made our way to the Rhoddie Garden, got in, and walked nearly-empty paths amid hundreds of flowering trees, shrubs, and your average (and above-average) flowers. It was gorgeous.

By the time we got home, it was about 2PM and I was in need of a nap. Perhaps “need” isn’t the right word but I took one all the same. It’s hard to say “no” to a nap when the weather is turning a bit to the chill, you have a blanket warming sore legs, and a cat decides to curl up on you. I lost the battle and an hour of my day as I dozed off.

I awoke to see Suzy coming in from outdoors; it had just started raining and she’d been industrious and gotten out for a bit of yardwork. I felt the slacker but the rain set in pretty good; what could I do but stay inside?

Suzy cleaned up and left for an evening gathering of Master Gardeners and I was on my own for dinner. While heating up some leftover or other, I ran out and hung the new rain chains we bought; later I’d further assuage my guilt by wrapping the hot water pipes coming off our newly-installed water heater. Beyond those two minor chores, I did nothing. I’m in a bit of a funk over the recent sad news that hit our family and I pretty much just mulled and moped and awaited Suzy’s return so I could bend her ear. She’s an awful good listener.

imageimageThis morning I was still in my funk and I asked her if she thought I should do some yardwork or just get ready for our trip home. With a bit of back and forth, I realized busy hands keep my head busy, too, and so I knocked out a small project: installing a retaining wall behind the bench.

The retaining wall wasn’t necessary, but it would better define the bench space and keep all the rocks from higher up from rolling under the bench. When I would weedwhack the backyard, I’d often get a bunch of dead grass under the bench, too. And, finally, putting up a small wall would give Suzy another place to plant some happy growing things. Not that our yard needs more growing things, but whether it needed them or not, I was pretty sure more would be coming in. This just gives them a place to be.

One thing I’m learning: I can knock out a retaining wall in short order.

I was butting up to an existing section, so I just mated the lowest timber to the wall already in place, ran the wall parallel to where the bench sat, and added a small “hook” at the end to provide a little additional stability. From “let’s get the lumber” to “done” was only a few hours. I’ve talked about installing retaining walls in this blog before, so I won’t belabor the details. It’s a matter of: establish a level grade, add crushed rock and sand to level, make sure the ends overlap on alternating levels to lock in the tiers, and finish by putting some gravel behind the wall (for drainage).

imageA few additional details I use: I bought a 10’ long section for the base, rather than build it up out of cheaper 8’ sections: I believe a contiguous base will be stronger and less prone to moving. Cut the ends at an angle to make it harder for growing things, light, or sand\silt seeping through. And I use 2’ long rebar through my first two layers and 8” spikes for any layers above that. It’s always made for an exceptionally strong wall that doesn’t move an inch!

With what remains of today I’ll tidy my office and prepare for the trip. I have to pack, I’ll be doing a reading at the church (so I’ll need to rehearse), and I want to pull some thoughts together. But, there’ll be no more manual labor this week!

Thanks for dropping in and seeing the project-of-the-day. Yesterday was a bit quiet but it doesn’t seem like a spring vacation without at least one retaining wall going in!

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