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Archive for the ‘Home projects’ Category

Next up … bench and trellis

Posted by joeabbott on June 22, 2017

OK, I normally don’t post until I’m done with a project, but I’m finding I finish and yet fail to post. And then I don’t post for a while and suddenly slam out a bunch of disconnected posts.Well, my posts will be just as disconnected but let’s get some content out more regularly, OK?

imageI built a small platform off the side of my driveway where a couple trees died and now we want to build a trellis. I guess I should detail the deck/platform for a start.

The land around my driveway falls off quickly so I didn’t want to build a deck/platform that would either erode that land or cause forces that push against the thing I was putting in. I just don’t have a lot of earth to hold it in place. So, I wanted the deck/platform to be a “shelf” or “tray” to hold some gravel. It took a long time coming up with a plan I liked but I finally decided on this … the driveway would be level with the right-side and the raised part around the edges would help keep someone from stepping off. Additionally, the long legs both near the driveway and in back would be deep enough to keep it from moving. As we’ll see later, that worked a bit “too well”.

imageI built most of the entire thing out of 4×4 pressure treated timber that I used mortise and tenon joints to hold it together. I started by building what I called the “H” shapes … you’ll have to squint at the picture to the left but it’s one of the outside\end ‘H’ sections.

Ignore the clothing hanging on it … while I was installing them, it was hot as heck and I was using this one to dry my bandanas on!

The long, vertical timber to the right is the longest upright; then the two vertical timbers … you can see those in the mockup image above and to the right. The far vertical member is supported by a “tool” I build specially to allow me to set these H shapes up in my garage as I dry-fit them to ensure everything worked well.

And, just like the model, everything worked great!

2017-05-29 10.46.41I then dug the eight holes for the legs (the bottoms of the H shapes) to fit into. That sucked. Sorry for the slight vulgarity, Mom … but it was a nasty, nasty job. First, I designed these things with legs that were too long. They won’t move, but I could have gotten away with half as long, I’d guess. But, I’m not so smart and I would rather over-build than take a chance. So … a lot of digging.

Then, I was going through an area that was comprising the driveway bed. Super-compacted, LOTS of rocks, and some of the worst digging I’ve done on this property. And I’ve done my share. Brutish work that had me sore for a week. And, yes, I was using a manual post-hole digger.

Also, because I didn’t want to take away too much material, I was digging the smallest possible holes … so, just about 6-inches in diameter. I felt great about nesting a 3.5” post into that size hole but, as I found out, it gave me almost zero capacity to maneuver stuff around. And when I had to clear a stone from the hole, I was laying on my side with my arm completely in the hole, scraping around and trying to loosen the offending rock.

As I was putting all the H-shapes in, and then trying to get the vertical parts to nest into their mortises, I was hitting all sorts of problems getting tight fits. I couldn’t nudge things left and right or wiggle them about to get a good fit. Some parts would nest really well and then I’d run out of room getting another piece to fit into the web of timbers I’d created. it was a mess that frustrated and had me spitting.

In the end, I lived with a bunch of gaps but the concrete I poured around the posts locked everything solid as can be. Here are a few “action” shots:

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After letting the concrete in the above parts set, I laid down some 2×6 PT timber as a base, covered it with landscape fabric, and then piled in about 3” of crushed gravel. The result is a very nice, very solid surface on which to place the bench.

In my next post I’ll show you what it looks like now, and some of the pictures of the bench that I’m constructing. I have to hurry if I want this done by the time my out of town guests arrive … that’s a good motivating factor for getting it done!

Thanks for looking in!

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Stuff I built

Posted by joeabbott on June 21, 2017

Over the past couple years I’ve struggled when taking my bike places. In the early days I had a small, hatchback car … we bought the sort of bike carrier for it that hung off the back and attached with straps but that never fit well and seemed sketchy. When I got an SUV I ended up just placing the bike on its side in the back. If I was hauling both Suzy’s and my bike, you’d end up worrying about potential damage you were doing to the bikes.

So, with the purchase of my truck and and getting back into biking a bit, I wanted to build a rack.

Over the past few months I thought about various wooden racks I could build … thought through the shapes and sizes, but nothing seemed “just right”. And then I turned to the Internet! Sure enough, out on YouTube, I found someone had built a rack using PVC for around $25 … just the ticket.

I followed the instructions, used a modification someone in the comments suggested, and in an evening came up with a serviceable setup. It felt a bit flimsy but I hadn’t set the pieces at that time so I went ahead with gluing and nesting the parts together with a small mallet. And … tada:


In the picture the white parts are the modification; for thin tires these really help hold a bike upright a lot better. They’re a bit of a nuisance as you need to lift the bike in and out of the rack (you can’t just wheel it forward into the slot) but they’re a lot more steady. I will note that, when traveling, I will be lashing the bikes down with nylon straps (both front and back), and in that configuration they’re rock solid and barely move.

Also, full credit goes to Suzy on the painting. In the pictures she hadn’t finished yet so it’ll be completely black when it’s all finished, but she did a really good job of changing the look from Big Box Rig Something Up look to a more respectable rack. Here are a couple other pics:

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And, in the way of credit, here are the two sources I used for the instructions and seeing someone else put of of these together:

If you need a simple bike rack that works well either in the back of your truck or just for setting up in the garage, I highly recommend this project. It’s quick, cheap, and surprisingly solid.

Thanks for dropping in!

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Now that was a heavy rock

Posted by joeabbott on May 21, 2017

I don’t have before pictures, I don’t have “during” pictures … I just have this:


And that, my friends, is a picture of a very old rosemary plant, surrounded by rocks and chickens. And the rock on the far right … well, that was one heavy beast.

Suzanne’s gardens are a thing of wonder: vibrant greens, amazing textures, and lots and lots of plants. But she’s learned not to be sentimental: if something is working, great; if something isn’t, yank it! Her treatment is far more nuanced than that, but she has developed an attitude that allows plants to hit the compost bin “when it’s time”. And for the rosemary in the picture above, it was time. But I wasn’t ready to let it go.

When we put in our backyard, this was one of the first plants, so I’m happy to see it stay. As I agreed with her that it wasn’t fit for the spot it was in, we moved it to the chicken side of our property. But we know the chickens will revel in soft, turned soil. They love it. Want to keep a bunch of hens happy for a while, just shovel a spade of earth over in your yard and leave them to it … before you know, they’ll have excavated something truly impressive and continue to dig. And so we’ve come up with the “surround it with rocks” strategy. It works in our current yard (looks-wise) and keeps them from uprooting plants, but with our loose soil you really need some big rocks to anchor things.

So, as we readied to move the rosemary, we looked around for a good-size rock. All the stones on our side have been spoken for but the plot next door that has been recently turned and flattened (for development of a home) had a number of large stones just laying about. I eyed one of them and set about to bring it over. It was a challenging project.

The stone had good angles but was heavy as all get out. Picking it up was out of the question and even rolling it proved a greater challenge than I could easily manage. The soft soil didn’t help as any drop tended to lodge it deep into the earth and require a bit of digging to clear. Ultimately the stone sunk into a tractor tread divot and I was unable to push it out. I ran to the garage and rigged up a piece of plywood that I could tether the rock onto using nylon webbing … and then I hauled the plywood, sled-like, across the lot. The plywood kept the rock from lodging into the ground and diffused the load. It was a good plan and worked … until I got it into our yard.

In our yard, the rock had to be dragged up the hill and up steps … which would have been impossible for me to do alone. Suzanne helped by pushing while I pulled, but it was a hard bit of work. We were happy to finally get it into place: a massive, keystone rock that would look great. That is, right up until we buried it well enough to support the plant on the hillside. Enough of it was sunk into the ground that, what remains above looks like a simple rock. For comparison, the largish rock on the left was small enough that I not only got it from the same lot, but I was able to carry it without stopping.

But, this is the sort of thing we do over here: make our lives a bit more challenging by feeling sympathy for plants and seemingly finding the hardest way to accomplish something like transplanting an herb. Good thing it makes us happy. And we are happy … well, once we’re rested, that is! Thanks for coming by.

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The property

Posted by joeabbott on May 21, 2017

Well, it’s an uphill battle and some days I feel like we’re winning, and other days sit me back on my heels. Yesterday was a mix.

I’m referring to our property up north, the 5-acres we bought and plan to build a home on some day. Suzanne and I are clearing the land and doing it by hand. There are a number of reasons behind that decision … many of which I mentally challenge each time we come back from a trip, fatigued and beaten up … but we’re in it for the long haul and the haul that’s left looks shorter. Those are the good days: the days you can see your progress, you know what you’ve done and what remains, you’ve planned out an attack, and the work you do is noticeable. Good days.

The challenges are the days you look back on work you’d previously completed and find time isn’t standing still. Weeds creep into the garden beds we’ve created, ferns and grass grow over the sections we’ve cleared, and we notice additional projects that weren’t obvious before. Tough days.IMage

Last year we cleared about an acre and a half of the worst of the worst: dense stands of vine maple, ancient blackberry entwined in trees adjacent to our property boundary, and many many square yards of ground vines, grasses, and all manner of vegetation. It was a challenge and one we were happy to surmount.

This year we are targeting the last half acre before the tree-line that marks the back half of the property. We’ve done a fantastic job in just two or three days of work to clear the majority of it; I estimate we’ll need one more day to clear the remaining and then onto the projects that remain: clearing both property lines completely, spreading the chip left over from when the crew chewed up the shrubbery from the front half of the lot, and take out any scrub trees we just don’t want. That is a lot of work and will likely take us through the year to finish… provided we’re diligent and make time for it. But that’s sort of thing doesn’t set me back on my heels; it’s how aggressively the plants are moving back onto the land we cleared last year!

Yup, bracken fern are about five-foot, the ground vines are thick and healthy, and the grasses are about knee-height. All very disappointing. So, for at least one of the days that Suzanne and I go north, we’ll need to set aside time to weed-whack through that stuff. I don’t imagine it’ll be hard; just time-consuming. We’ll both don brush cutting machines and sweep through, very likely leaving the grasses and ferns where they fall. But, as it’s a lot of ground to cover, it’ll probably take all day. <sigh>

Such are the joys of homeownership … property-ownership. I’m sure we’ll be happy when we’re done; satisfied with our hand in all of it, confident we know every inch of our land, and more skilled in the use of the tools we needed to clear it. But today … today I’d like to rest because all of that is a lot of work.

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Bee house

Posted by joeabbott on March 13, 2017

Last year I built a mason bee house and it came out pretty good: six-sided with a clever roofline to shelter the bee tubes. But, this year Suzy bought a block with slots cut into it that the bees will use to lay their eggs. The good thing about these blocks is that you can split them apart easily to remove the bees and clean them, and then re-assemble and you’re ready to go for next year. The bad part about the block is that it wouldn’t fit the clever six-sided house.

So, we built a new one.

While the new one is a little more boring (just a rectangle with a gable roof), it came out well and I thought I’d bragger-tell you about it here.


I went to Home Depot and picked up a half dozen fencing pickets that were mostly clear. As pickets, they were about 5.5” wide and many of the boards I’d need would be 8-10” … and even a 12” wide board for the back. So, after planing them down, it was time to glue them up!


WP_20170123_17_31_35_ProMaking parts

I typically make things with all the same dimensioned thickness. That is, if I’m using 3/4” boards, everything is 3/4” thick. This time I decided that my 3/8” boards were too thin for some uses but would look great for walls and the back. So, I took a couple of the boards and glued them together, face-to-face.

With these thicker parts, I’d be able to make a bottom that had more weight and looked good, as well as create a roof that had interlocking parts, ensuring the sensitive bees in cocoons wouldn’t get wet from all the spring Seattle rain.

The picture to the right shows how I ensured the parts got good clamping pressure: add a lot of clamps!


WP_20170205_13_53_31_ProAfter that it was assembly time and, with as cold as it’s been in Seattle this season, we brought the project onto our kitchen table on the chillier days.

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We weren’t sure if we wanted to put a finish on it. The joints were solid (see the picture to the right … it also shows what I meant by having an “interlocking roof” … rain is not getting through that!), and the wood would age to a grey that matched nearly all the other cedar in our yard.

But, we argued that if we wanted it around a long time, having a finish would be the best way to go. So, we chose a spar varnish but avoided finishing any of the interior parts where the bees might go. We weren’t sure if it would be toxic to them, and it wasn’t worth the “science experiment” to find out.


I don’t have a lot of pictures of the finished house (with finish) but the two pictures below show how much even a simple, clear finish will make the grain pop and really give wood a warm, wonderful look.

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And that’s it! A simple bee box that took nearly two months to complete! There’s a tiny bit more to the project in that I built a thin, removable panel that I can wedge into the top triangular section below the roof. It has a small hole at the bottom that will allow bees to crawl out and fly off, but it’s not big enough to let something like a bird eat the larva.

Thanks for dropping in and checking out another mason bee house!

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Speaking of books …

Posted by joeabbott on March 10, 2017

WP_20170305_14_45_21_ProFor about 10 years now, Suzy has been compiling our annual photographs into a “best of” printed volume. The books are 100-ish color pages of glorious us. Yup, we have all these images digitally; yup, we lived that life so there’s nothing new here; and, yup, it’s just a photo album … but I look forward to paging through these every time I find one on a coffee table or on the bookshelf.

I’m not sure what makes these books special; as I noted, we have the digital images. But, there’s something about the tactile quality you can get paging forward, dropping back, and seeing the various instances of our lives in a curated fashion. And it’s not the many thousands of pictures you might get clicking through something on a computer or flicking through them on your phone: they’re just the select, best-of moments that are special in so many ways.

Take for instance last year. Suzy chose a picture of me in the bed of my new-ish truck, arms wide, grinning madly at a tilted rhododendron we were about to plant in our new property. New truck, new property, a plant that a buddy gave me that will grace our new home for years … and that smile that says, “I’m enjoying life!” It’s hard to beat seeing that printed on the cover of a hardback book!

And so, sure, we lived that life so there’s nothing new or truly surprising that we’ll bump into in the pages, but she was a little late on the 2015 book and as we sat side-by-side paging through it when it arrived, we continued to say, “was it that long ago that happened?” or “I thought we had that <insert name of thing here> a lot longer than that!” It’s just fun to relive the very best moments of your life with a quick flip-flip-flip. Even those photos that won’t be meaningful to anyone else.

So, that’s it. If you keep scrapbooks, you’re probably ahead on this score but if you’re use to just cataloging your vacations and days by snapping digital pics and saving them on a hard drive somewhere, I strongly recommend spending some time making your own best-of.

Thanks for dropping in.



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Changes near to home

Posted by joeabbott on March 5, 2017


I’m in a bit of a quandary: as Suzy and I transform our property up in Granite Falls, removing years of brush and invasive vegetation, our neighbors at our current home are doing something similar to a lot abutting our home.

Since we moved in, there’s been a lot adjacent to our house that was vacant, overgrown, to all observations, ignored. Before we had yard waste service at our home, we’d dump the occasional bucket of trimmings into the underbrush and it seemed to go unnoticed.

At one point we had kept a compost bin on the far side of the fence (since replaced with a larger one on our property) and the owners knew it was there. They had to keep the property lines cleared of blackberry plants so they’d show up once a year to trim them back and give the fast-growing plants a shot of some herbicide. Another neighbor had talked to these folks but we’d never seen them.

Well, a month or so back a For Sale sign appeared and Suzy has been watching for action … and it came in short order. First, a set of (I’m assuming) amateur loggers felled all the trees on the lot. It looked like a scene from a page in the book The Lorax; trees just felled willy-nilly and left where they were dropped. It was a sad event.

A few days later, Suzy sent me the pictures as the lot was cleared by the massive machine you can see in the pictures here.

It’s somewhere sad; the lot was home to a few annoying trees (cottonwoods) but it had a wonderful old snag in which a woodpecker would live and a beautiful madrone tree specimen. Madrone trees are native to this area but not in great numbers; they have a peeling bark and a wonderful cinnamon-colored wood, with dramatic, curving structure. A great tree and sad to see it go.

So, all that habitat and a wonderful location for all manner of small mammals, birds, and plant … just gone.

The quandary I face is that we’re doing something similar up north. Similar is in quotes because we’re not completely flattening and entire lot; of our 5-acres, we’re preserving over three for native trees and maintaining corridors for animals that wish to use our lot as a thoroughfare to the 20-acre parcel across the street. While we haven’t removed any large trees yet, we’re sure a couple will have to go just based on where we plan on citing the house. Our careful decisions and slow pace make what’s happening next door feel a bit more heavy-handed.

Not only that, it’ll take a bit getting used to having a home higher than ours that, potentially, will be looking into our backyard. A lot has to do with what is built and where on the lot, but we’re not exactly excited with these developments. From the pictures you can see we’ve enjoyed a bird’s eye view for a while, which adds to the complexity of my misgivings to the development.

And so, as we reflect on the changes happening here and how we perceive them, Suzy and I will tread carefully on our lot up north as we transform it. We’re committed to putting in lots of plants and beautifying things and, now more than ever, looking forward to moving up there and enjoying a little elbow room without someone looking into our backyard.

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Things I miss

Posted by joeabbott on January 21, 2017

The holidays are a great time to be around our house … it’s filled with light; inside and out. From my home office I have a nice view of our backyard and, while it’s a gentler scene in summer’s blush  (Suzanne does a good job of giving us “four season’s of interest”) in any season, it’s hard to beat evenings between Thanksgiving and New Year. Here’s what I get to enjoy:


And this isn’t all of the lights. We have a few more deer in the lawn (between our house and the “blue tree”), another lighted deer on the deck, and another deer or two off to the right. It’s very nice.

But now it’s late January and I’m left with dormant plants, shrubs and trees awaiting next month before they start their push into spring. Maybe having a picture here on my blog will give me something to enjoy as I anticipate next year.

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Goat feeder screen

Posted by joeabbott on December 21, 2016

OK, I managed to build the goat feeder screen without taking a thumb off or any other serious gaffe. It took longer than I thought it would … not sure how long I expected it to take, but five hours is more than I would have guessed. But, it came out sturdy if not anything else.


Suzanne did a great job of cleaning up the tray and surrounding area. While I was working in a goat barn, her raking and scraping made building the screen something less than a filthy chore. Goats must not be too dirty because, with the exception of initially having them underfoot, it wasn’t bad. But I did keep all my tools outside, which wasn’t ideal. Essentially it meant that for every piece of wood, every cut, or any changes, I needed to walk out two latching gates and through a barn. But let’s look at the positive: I got my steps in and was able to work in clean air part of the time; I’ll call that a win.

Here was the original setup. It would have worked well if the goats hadn’t pulled the hay over the trough and onto the ground.


Here were the panels I was provided … after we cut them down to size. It’s good material and I plan on using this sort of thing at our home when we are ready for fencing. I’m sure it’ll be expensive, but it’s sturdy and seemed to weather really well.


And here was my work area: a couple sawhorses, a little benchmate (probably didn’t need it … or, at least I didn’t use it much), fourteen 8’ 2x4s, and a box of 2.5” screws. I brought a handsaw that I used to make all the cuts, a small router that I used to cut troughs in so the wire panels would be nested securely, and an assortment of other hand tools: a speed square, pencils/markers, a hammer, etc. Oh, and a dozen or so single-handed clamps. Aside from really wishing I’d brought my miter\chop saw, it was plenty.


The day progresses

Sorry for the low-quality pictures here, it appears the barn wasn’t created with photography in mind. I started by locking in the base in the trough … it seemed to be the best place to start: a known location. I aligned the panels with the existing ones and, once I cut grooves in the lower board, the wire panels locked right in and didn’t move at all. I had to use a length of rope to keep the panels from flopping over, but it seemed pretty secure even without screws holding the lower bracing in place. I’ll contribute that to the well-measured cuts! 🙂


Next up, I started with the top frame. I’m not convinced this was the right place to start, but it worked for me. The keys here were to make something level and to establish where the vertical end pieces would go. On the left side, this was easy: the wire frame ended within an inch of the wall; on the right side, there was about a 4-5” gap, so the 2×4 wouldn’t bridge it. In the end we put the right-side vertical piece about 1.5” from the side and it didn’t hurt anything … either aesthetically or structure-wise. The whole thing felt very sturdy.

The trick with putting in the top piece came when I had to attach it … sandwiching two 66” pieces of wood around the top of a floating panel is pretty tough! Suzy wasn’t nearby to help so I pat myself on the back for being able to pull this off. I guess sandwiching it wasn’t too tough, it was needing a third hand to actually put a clamp on the boards that made it a challenge!WP_20161220_12_12_24_Pro

I made the channels cut about 3/4” wide with the router. The wire is probably 3/16” or so, so the channel was huge in comparison, but I made it wide for two reason: I wasn’t convinced that I could measure in the low-light barn, carry the board out to the car to cut, and then assemble with the required accuracy, and because I was trying to align the parts I was installing with the existing structure having a bit of wiggle room to nudge it one way or the other was huge. It all worked out.

After installing one top rail, Suzy had finished all her chores … a sure sign that I was taking longer than I’d thought I would. But, it was nice to have her hands available on the right-side top rail … having both third and fourth hands made it a lot easier.

At this point It was time to add the outer vertical parts. I brought a level so I was able to get it reasonably straight up-and-down and, after the verticals were in, I just cut spacer blocks to hold everything the right distance from the feeder. As you can see, the right side “floats” a bit off from the wall, but I felt good about the vertical part hiding any sharp edges on the fencing and the gap being too small for even the smallest goat to get into trouble.


After this, it was just installing the center vertical (it hides the sharp edges on the panels … the panel was originally 16’ wide but I had to cut it down to match the spacing created in the original feeder screen). I knew I was getting tired when I originally made measurements in the barn, walked out to the truck to cut the wood … but realized I’d left my tape measure in the barn. And, on that same piece of wood, I had to change the battery in my cordless drill motor but, after swapping out the battery at the truck, left the drill when I returned to the barn!! I was getting my steps in!

But, the verticals went in fine and then I just added a top-cap to “make things look nice”. It really served no purpose other than that.



I felt pretty good about it being a quality product when I saw Suzy grab onto the top of the screen and use it to step up to look for any missing tools when we were cleaning up: the screen didn’t budge. While goats will be a lot less delicate with it than I’d treat it, seeing that someone could grab on like that made me realize I did OK in the “stability” department.

While it doesn’t look like five hours of work, it felt like it. That was one long drive home and the super-long shower afterwards felt fantastic. Neither Suzy nor I were interested in cooking dinner so we went out for burgers … and, after not eating all day, they were fantastic. And, with all those steps I got in, I didn’t feel guilty at all when I took advantage of their free refills on fries.


Thanks for dropping in. I hope your holiday is as well-constructed as this goat feeder was!

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Odd jobs

Posted by joeabbott on December 19, 2016

Well, I didn’t get to cleaning my room … guess that’s what Monday is for … but I did manage a bunch of small jobs that were piling up in the garage.


Just a few pics from the mess that was my garage. Some folks may not think it’s out of the norm, but I’d always parked inside the garage when I was able and only after getting a truck and parking outside regularly did I let clutter take the second bay. It was nice to have room for spreading out with a project: a place for lumber to dry, a spot to setup a table and work, or a sheet of plywood on two sawhorses so I could just have more table space.

But, I’ve never enjoyed leaving things out for days. There isn’t an after picture, but here are the befores:


Relighting a deer

At one time we had well over a dozen lighted deer but time has culled the herd. And, we’re a little sadder for it. So, when one of our deer was just “out” and I wasn’t able to find the problem, we got creative! Suzy spray painted the little fella and I strung it up with a couple sets of lights. We then placed him in a part of the yard that didn’t have a deer and now we have one more place in our backyard that gives us a smile.




My mother has always had an uncanny sense for when things aren’t quite right. Well, a couple months back I remember her recalling the birdhouses I’d made and we painted together and then placed in the backyard; she asked if they were still there. Of course, was my quick response. But, as Suzy was doing fall cleaning she noticed one was in a bit of disrepair: it was the birds favorite house (always the home to some family or other). It was the most sheltered and in the branches of the trees and also the one my mother painted … a happy yellow and white striped shelter with rust-colored eaves.

Time, and probably for being in the branches, had not been kind: the wood in various places was soft, cracks developed in places, and the roof completely came off.

So, a few weeks back I built a replica and Suzy lent her hand at painting it up. While we didn’t want to have a carbon copy and infringe on my mother’s design, we took notes and riffed on her look. It’s still a yellow and white house, but the roof is red. I had the pleasure of putting that up yesterday … after moving the pole it was housed on a forward a bit and out of the trees.



While not a “big” project, it was another task that took a bit of time: repairing the trellis.

A few years back Suzy asked if I could make her a trellis; my answer, of course, was of course!

But, sometimes it takes me a bit longer to get around to my “of courses” than other times so I think there was skepticism in her eyes. Either that or the fact that I’d promised doing it a number of times in the past. Either way, I headed to my little shop, ripped a bunch of strips of wood of varying lengths, chamfered end, made a few “stand-off” blocks, and went to installing.

As with virtually every project I do, I winged it a bit, not sure what I was doing and certainly not having much experience but, in the end, we had a nice looking trellis: lots of vertical and horizontal pieces of wood for her growing things to grab onto. But, we find that other things like to grab onto the slats as well … things like raccoons and cats that are making their way over our fence. And so, every few weeks (mostly during the summer), I’ll be called on to fix up the broken and torn-down slats. Yesterday was that day.

A simple few nails it was back to looking like new.

Birds on a wire … er, branch

I wrote about “Stuff in the backyard” before … search this site for “SITBY” … and it should be clear that those instances were just snapshots; we keep adding new stuff all the time. This past year at the Washington State Fair, a booth selling metal cutouts in the shapes of birds caught our eye. While the signs by all the different shapes noted the species of bird, they all looked like “sparrow-type” birds to me.

Suzy, having a cuter eye (as well as a more acute eye), chose a fine selection of birds and a cat … which then sat in my “when you get a chance” pile until now, December.

While the delay might annoy some, Suzy never said a word and when I was able to use one of the branches that came from our property up north, I was happier for the delay. So, with the clear weather, a little time, and Suzy helping me with the positioning of the birds, we added a bit more to the “stuff in the backyard”.














Squirrel knocker

I can’t imagine those two words ever making sense to me before now, but in her travels, Suzy found a door knocker in the shape of a squirrel. And so, it becomes one more bit of stuff in our backyard. Now, to be clear … “stuff in our backyard” is hardly a pejorative. We adore our backyard and spend plenty of time there. It’s where we go to spend our energy and to get energized in return; it’s a place of living things and stuff we care about. And now … home to a door knocker shaped like a squirrel on our gate.

Love it.


I like to believe it’s because they were cold, but the ladies were unimpressed. Squirrel, indeed.


Fixing some lighting

The last project of the day was to fix a bit of up-lighting that we had on some of the SITBY. We enjoyed these lights but they went out and what we thought would be a simple project of replacing a battery turned into a bit more of a fix.


Upon taking the battery covers off, it became apparent that these weren’t water-tight and, when water got in, it would sit on the electrical components. One of the items was simple to repair: just buff the terminals with a bit of sandpaper and you were good to go. Unfortunately, when removing the terminal plate to clean it off, the connecting wire pulled clear. So, I ran out, got a solder iron and some solder, and reattached the wire.

Like many of my projects, it wasn’t quite that simple. There was the head-scratching, the mild cussing, and then the “how the hell?!?!” moments … but in the end, let’s just say that it was a simple solder job and a good thing my incompetence didn’t require too much more education … the wire I was soldering wasn’t getting any longer!

And then the second lamp. If you look at the below picture, I believed it was the component on the upper left on the board that was so corroded that it just ceased to function. But, when I pulled the wires clear and ran leads directly from the bulb to the battery, it still didn’t light up. While there’s a goodly amount about electrical stuff that I can still learn, there may have been more than one thing wrong here. By the time I was done, there wasn’t anything “Goodwill worthy” left … unfortunately, this one went into the trash.



And that was my day. Well, the fixing things up part. I never got around to cleaning my room and my workbench in the garage still demands some tidying, but I felt like it was a productive day. That evening Suzy and I watched our annual viewing of A Christmas Story and I then played a bit of Xbox and finished the game Dark Souls 3. Gads I adore that game.

It was a great day and one that tees up another good one to come … today. I hope your holiday is turning out to be as productive and fun as mine. Thanks for dropping by.

Posted in General stuff, Home projects, Me | 1 Comment »