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Weekend Update

Posted by joeabbott on April 18, 2016

Couple projects in the works to talk about … let’s just get to it.


P1010022A couple years back, Suzy and I built a stairway up the back of our yard. It traverses the steepest part of the property and we built it with slab stone we picked up at a local quarry. While it was never great, it proved a solid and reliable way up to the small plateau cresting our yard and gives us access to a small growing area and some pretty decent views. Oh, and the chickens love it. While they don’t mind powering up the steep hillside, they’re just as happy to peck about and stroll the path that we built for us.

I said it’s not great because you need a small degree of balance and confidence to negotiate the steps; at the steepest part I placed three posts for handrails. For a while we talked about finishing the project and this weekend we jumped in.

Originally I used a large, heavy pry bar to pound a hole in the ground, and then with a small shovel and a lot of effort, I widened it. This time I used a proper hole-digging tool and it was amazing how easy it was. Yes, I was begging Suzy for a shoulder rub at the end of the day, but it was far easier than I thought. I just hit far fewer rocks than I imagined were hiding in that dirt.

In addition to using a lame process for digging the holes, I also went just 12” deep; with the hole-digging tool, I was able to easily go twice that. But, because we were using 4’ posts, we limited the depth to about 16”-18”.

Once I had the holes, it was time to build the posts.

WP_20160417_08_52_51_Rich_LII remember the initial project taking all day, so I was surprised when I knocked out the four new posts in just a handful of minutes. I started by cutting down an 8’ length of pressure treated 4×4 into two halves; then I ran those along my table saw (tilted at 45°) to cut the corners and make the posts octagonal. I then used my chop saw (power miter saw) to chamfer the ends … putting a 45° angle on each of the top faces.

P1010023The final cut was to put a decorative groove about an inch below the end around the top. Originally I did this on the table saw using a dado blade but today I chose to use a small router. I clamped the post in my vise, used the offset tool for the router with a 1/4” blade, and just zipped along the eight sides. I finished all four in the time it would have taken just to setup the table saw!

After this I set the posts, clamped on a couple stabilizing sticks each to keep them perfectly vertical, and then added Sakrete (a bagged concrete product) around the base in the hole. Oh, and because our soil is fairly sandy and the overall hillside is loose, I drove in some spare rebar that I had through the sides of the hole into the earth around it. My thinking is that, once the concrete sets, it’ll hold tight to the rebar and the surrounding earth will help to provide additional stabilization.

At this point, we added water and are letting it set 24-hours before we remote the stabilization. Tomorrow we’ll decide how to finish things off. We’d like some sort of connecting material … maybe rope, perhaps a chain, or something else … to link the posts and make it a proper handhold up the path.


P1110988We’re just starting this project and not sure we’ll have it completed today, but Suzy’s wanted water up by the coop for a while. I’ve been worried about what pressure we might be able to get running water from the house up to the coop but I gotta stop worrying and just try something out. Suzy wasn’t sure it was worth the effort, but we’ve had several plants up that way die due to lack of water so she’s ready to try something, too.

Our play will be a temporary sort of thing: we picked up a “water station” from Home Depot that we’ll install at the coop, and then just run a hose from the next nearest water source.

The water station is just a hose bib/tap that allows you to screw a source hose end into the backside; it also has a storing arm allowing you to wrap another hose that you can use from that point. We’ll cut a trench into the ground and then bury the source hose. It’s not a great or permanent solution, but we really don’t know if this will work. If it’s worth the time and effort, we’ll find a more permanent solution.

The place we want to run the water from currently doesn’t have a tee or split. So, part of the project will be making one. I think we’ll just cut the current hose that’s there, cap the two splices with ends, and then add another tee. If this sounds vague, well, we don’t have it worked out exactly just yet.

So, a work in progress but this is what things are like for me: get an idea, and let the solution present itself somewhat organically.

imageDark Souls 3

The other thing that’s taking up our time is Dark Souls 3, a game that was released this past Tuesday. I’ve written about Dark Souls before, a notoriously challenging game that’s fantastic. Well, I liked it so much, that Suzy watched me play through the game … it may have been my second or third time through it. Well, now that Dark Souls 3 is out, we’re playing through that.

It’s tough but engaging as ever.

We just finished getting through the introductory levels and now past the second boss. I was thrilled when we managed to kill that second boss on our first attempt! Like most of the challenges in this game, he was big, fast, and hit like a ton of bricks. But, our frail, little hero made it in one go and is starting to explore the dilapidated settlement at the base of the castle.

We play most nights for an hour or so and have many more ahead of us. I don’t imagine we’ll beat many (any?) other bosses in one go, but that’s how it is with this game: lots of crushing defeats and then the unexpected highlight of victory!


WP_20160415_17_52_27_Rich_LIThat’s about it. We have other minor projects going (Suzy bought a bunch of neat plants at a recent sale, work it keeping me busy) but this weekend is finishing off a few things around the yard here in SeaTac. Hope you have fun projects keeping you busy and thanks for dropping by!


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