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Busy little day

Posted by joeabbott on April 24, 2016

I’m not sure why but I felt like yesterday was a bit of a slow day; not much happened. Likely because I indulged in a nap mid-afternoon, but Suzy reminder me of all the work we had accomplished and I have to say, even on our slow days, we get a bit done.

Irritation system

Usually I call it by its proper name, the Irrigation System, but it had me a touch cross this past week. Living in Seattle, most people think we get non-stop rain, but between late June and late August, it can be quite dry; so we have an irrigation system. The system is a couple of valves under the house that allows water to flow to our backyard, and a computerized box the opens sprinkler valves in various parts of the yard at preset times. We started our season by energizing the water system (opening the valves) … but leaving the sprinklers off (at the computerized box).

If you read last week’s post, you’ll know we extended the backyard water system for Suzy: a station inside both gates into Chickenville. This called for starting our water flowing into the backyard. So, I went under the house, opened the valves, but left sprinklers off. Well, sometime mid-week, Suzy noticed we had water running on Zone One of our sprinkler system; even though it wasn’t energized.

Zone One is our side yard and the sprinklers there just dribble onto three pine trees. But they’d dribbled the better part of 5 days. While she’d shut off the valves, we needed to investigate.


A kind-hearted handyman walked me through some of the fundamentals of how a sprinkler system work, and a web search filled in a few more blanks. With my newly acquired knowledge, I headed toward the sprinkler box with a wrench, screwdriver, and the certain confidence I’d be needing to call said handyman to make a house call.

I started by swapping the solenoids from Zone One with Zone Two; arguing that if Zone Two became energized after turning on the water valves, I’d know the solenoid was faulty. And, when I finished the swap … both Zones One and Two energized. So I swapped them back. And nothing changed … they were both on again.

At this point a neighbor strolled in to chat and while I love this neighbor, I was having problems working on a system I didn’t completely understand and frustration was near at hand. But Suzy, sensing my rising ire or just being more sociable, engaged our neighbor in chat while I continued troubleshooting. Which amounted to taking parts off, putting them together again, swearing a bit under my breath, and turning on water valves. Repeating some of those steps more times than others.

As I was mentally rehearsing my call to the handyman, I fired up the system one last time and … no leaks. I then ran the computerized sprinklers and they fired off as expected. Water when you wanted it and none when you didn’t. Just like it should be.

While I still don’t trust the work to hold, it looks like it’s now functioning as expected; and with the minor issue of Suzy being soaked at one point yesterday when the sprinkler system went off unannounced, we have a system that isn’t leaking at least. I’ll look into setting up the times for watering when “drought season” hits us. Until then, mission accomplished.

Finishing the posts

imageimageThe installation of the posts was completed but making it a proper rail for the walkway required something connecting them. Suzy chose a 1/2” sisal rope.

We had a number of ways to connect them to the post and we chose eyehooks with a section of rope between them. In times past, we’ve had natural fiber rope/twine used in the garden and always surprised when it wears out. Well, maybe not surprised, but disappointed when it finally happens. So, using sections of rope, we’d be able to easily replace those sections that take on damage or wear out.

Any rope, however, requires whipping: tightly tying a smaller twine around the end of the rope to keep the rope from fraying. We also decided to use the whip as the means to secure the rope to the eyehook. And, with seven posts, there’d be 12 ends to whip … so I got to whipping.

The process was simple: drill a pilot hole for the eyehook into the post, thread an open end of the rope through the eyehook, whip the end of the rope while simultaneously capturing the eyehook, and then screw the eyehook into the pilot hole. On every second eyehook (after one end had already been attached), after I’d whipped the end, I’d have to twist the rope the reverse direction of how it would be screwed into the post to keep the rope laying flat when it was done.

And when all was done, it did look pretty good.

In the picture to the left, the rain caused the rope lengths to shorten up. I hadn’t anticipated that and, while it’s not tight enough to put pressure on the posts, it did manage to pull the casual sway out of each of the lengths and make the rope a bit straighter than intended.

Replacing boards on the deck

I started this project but didn’t finish: needed yet another tool.

Our deck isn’t old, but we’ve had it a bunch of years and a few boards are showing signs of wear. Overall it’s not bad with only a few suspect boards , but it is time to replace them. What surprised me about this job is the number of tools I’m amassing to help me with it: a couple pry bars, motorized and manual screwdrivers, a hammer, saw, chisel, and now I need a screw extractor! And it’s the screw extractor that I don’t have.

But, I started.


The first board we chose to replace is a shorty … just a 20” length that started getting soft. Unfortunately, the original installer used both screws and nails; and the screws have been in so long they’ve seized up. So, in the cases they come out: yay! But many are being stubborn and I’m stripping the Phillips head; I think I’ll be drilling out a lot of them. Hence the need for the extractor.

But, with the shorty up, I was able to get to the hardware store, buy a bunch of lumber to use as replacement wood, and the job now waits for me to start anew once I get that extractor and the rain stops.

imageA bit of mulching and weeding

At one point I wandered over to chat with Suzy who was busy in her garden beds and we paired up to haul some compost down from Chickenville to the beds in our front yard. Light duty work that still had me sweating and breathing hard … both from the walking back and forth, and working with a big load. The two-fold benefit here being that the front beds look nice and we now have a freed-up bin in our compost area to take on new material from the coop while the other two hoppers cook.


imageAnd when we finished the mulching, the weeds we noted as we spoke to our neighbor earlier in the day needed to be pulled, so we bent our backs and did a little cleanup on the sides of our driveway.


As I took stock of the day, I have to agree with Suzy that it was a pretty good day’s work. I’m not sure why I thought we had a slack day … perhaps the size of the jobs and not completing the deck work.

While all of these projects were smaller, they made for a full day … and a full day without lunch! Somewhere in there I fit in an hour’s nap but by dinner time we were ready for a hearty meal, so we took advantage of a coupon we had for a local BBQ place and got our fill there … and brought home a doggie bag for a few lunches during the week.

We had a good day with a lot of little projects being addressed. Here’s hoping your weekends are as busy or at least as productive! Thanks for dropping in.


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