Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MUDSLIDE!

Got your attention didn't I? We'll get to that in a minute, but first I wanted to share this timely review:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/health/28zuger.html. Sadly, medicine is not what it used to be. In fact, just last week while at the symposium (their fancy word not mine!), I kept thinking to myself--self, do you really ever want to be a part of the medical machine again? And the answer is, probably not. I'm pretty cynical when it comes to medicine these days. It's long been the case that 90% of all radiology procedures are normal. Now, however, that figure is probably even higher as more and more unnecessary procedures are performed to CYA. As well, patients share some of the blame because they want more and more tests done after "researching" their conditions online. I abhor drug advertisements and all that goes with that. Why in the world prescription drugs were ever allowed to be advertised I will never know. WHO, but the drug companies, does it profit? Don't get me started on all the drugs given preventatively--what a scam in my book. Having worked for so long in medicine I've seen fads come and go. For a time they are dead certain that one thing causes something, only to find later, that it isn't so. Meanwhile millions of patients are put on drugs which carry horrible side effects. I'll take my chances thank you very much!

As I type the cable guy is here trying to find the problem with our phone, which is dead. Saturday afternoon Dave called my mobile checking on Ginger. Because I've only got a 300 minute plan the first choice is always our home. He explained he'd called multiple times only to hear it ring and ring. Picking up the phone, I discovered no dial tone whatsoever. Maybe the line was cut outside during all the hullabaloo? We'll see.

The museum was dead as always today with only four people, all of whom did not want to pay the modest fee of $5. For many years the gardens were free during museum hours, however, this year the admission charge applies to the gardens as well. Frankly, they need the money. Two women came in, one complaining that whenever she has out of town visitors she always like to bring them to the gardens. If you can imagine, one of the women was visiting from France--and she can't afford $5.00? They left. Reminds me of a woman at my booth last Sunday. Her adult daughter was interested in buying, as was the woman until she realized the 8x10 print was $9.00! "Too steep!" she said. Indeed. Leaving she said, "Here's something for you." The Watchtower. Yikes!

Have I kept you in suspense long enough? Well, enough already. Let's get on with the show!
This morning, while still dark and rainy, Daryl arrived. I took this through the window, so not great, but you get the idea:
Not only did he chip the tile off, but he removed the deep end steps, and cleaned up the edges a bit.

Serious rain began while I was driving home from my dreaded grocery shopping. Not a great time to have a sea of dirt out your back door! You may remember I mentioned the need for better drainage in the back yard and now you see I wasn't kidding. Imagine if the deck were still there!


Please note the gusher on the left side of your picture. Once again, some structural changes, that will never be noticed by anyone, should correct this problem. The roof of the sunroom has a bit of a dip in the middle causing the gutters to function poorly. As such, Bruce cut a large hole in the gutter and installed the rain chain. Problem is that the hole gets filled with tree debris, leaving water to pond in the gutter. I had to venture out there with the broom, pushing the stick end into the hole to release this torrent. At least the brick paver path still looks good! I believe tomorrow, if the weather holds, they will be working on lifting the roof a bit and installing a larger gutter.

Another view of our own personal gusher! Something super unexpected occurred in the last few weeks. Our next door neighbor painted his house. Oh yeah, I told you that already didn't I? Whatever. Anyway, it blends perfectly with the fence which makes me very happy.

The photo below is to give you a comparison. See how little water remained after he ran the pump yesterday afternoon? Do you see all the spottiness and discoloration? One of the reasons for all this!
 Here's around 3:30 this afternoon as the mud began to fill the pool.
You may have trouble seeing this, but then again, you may not. A second gusher in our yard! Look at the water pouring into the pool in the photo below! I stepped outside during the rain, thus all those little drops!
At first I think it was coming in where the skimmer used to be which is the mud stain in the foreground. Because there is still such a downpour going on I can't yet tell what's going on. I'll let you know.

Enough of the ugliness! I'll leave you with a few shots of the holding pen:

The gorgeous yellow Alamonda peeking out through the bench back (second holding pen):
And finally, my first butterfly encounter with the new Jatropha tree. Apparently they are serious attractors of both butterflies and hummingbirds. Now, wouldn't that be something to see a hummingbird? Actually I have a better photo than this one, or at least crisper, but I kinda liked catching this one on the run!
Once again, there will be beauty in our lives. I don't need to remind you that patience is a virtue.





Monday, September 27, 2010

Photo Intensive Post Ahead!

Good afternoon my wonderful readers. Another busy day at the Peck household, although today's man count is only five. Four, for most of the day, with Daryl, Phil's son-in-law, showing up an hour ago. You do remember Phil from the cast of characters don't you?

Danny arrived early with a helper to do the window removal and install. By the way, I mentioned the truck in the front yard for the weekend in my last post---
Well, obviously we lived with it, however, for not too much longer. Within a few hours the windows should all be in place. Here's how it's unfolded:
Danny using both a small crow bar like tool and a super duper utility knife to ease the windows from their fastenings, both caulk and metal frames.
Here is Danny and helper with the first one removed. Note the pool water color. Amazing that there has been no filtration for nine days now. No one seems to have an explanation for that.
Saturday the guys worked more on the bed that you see, removing the last of the palms. Bruce, dear one that he is, filled the plumber's trench, and raking the area so it looks like nicer dirt than it did.
You will also note the color of the old windows in the above shot. While showing Angela the sample she expressed concern about how dark it appeared. I told her I was pretty sure the old windows were gray as well and so they are. As you can imagine this is an expensive project we're having done. Knowing Bruce and I as you do, you may be wondering about this. Well, you have a right to wonder, I certainly would if I were you. Although the windows were tinted they were very thin, uninsulated, and non-tempered. Furthermore, as it turns out, Danny discovered all sorts of places where they were not secured nearly as well as they should have been. So, the new windows are all of what the old windows were not. Not to mention they are thick, thus Mark and Tom are building a sturdier windowsill and framework:
Here they are cutting the old sill away. More years ago than I can remember Bruce added this as purely a decorative touch which served us beautifully with the thin (3/16") windows. Heavy duty windows require heavy duty framing! Danny assures us that the room will be so much cooler with the EV coating filtering out the blazing afternoon sun. Great news as my utility bill arrived in today's mail. Happily it was a touch under $300 this month!
Here's a view of a few of the windows installed from the inside:
 And from the outside:
Right about now you might just be curious as to how they either remove, or install this size window. I sure was, although Bruce already told me they probably use suction cups. Who was I to doubt him? Actually, I never doubt Bruce, but being the curious girl that I am, I was anxious to see it for myself. Maybe you are too?
Danny and helper as they prepare to remove the window. Click on the photo if it interests you to better see the large suction cup just under the A of the ladder frame.

As I was heading out to get the mail I saw a young man with a wheelbarrow full of bags heading across the front yard. Daryl arrived to drain the pool and clean up a little more around the pool.
Actually, I was a little sad to see that water go because it was the only bright spot in an otherwise sea of brown and green! I see out my office window he's in the pool right now with a shovel, and some five gallon buckets, removing debris left from the deck removal. On the plus side, that's one step closer than we were to a beautiful new back yard. I can hardly wait!

Nancy commented that she liked the new bedroom paint color. Our first compliment! Truthfully, when I opened the paint can I was not a happy camper at all. Telling Bruce it looked like baby poop, I was prepared to just paint one wall to see how it looked once dry. Checking on me a little while later, he questioned my continued painting. Turns out it didn't look like baby poop at all, or at least what I remember it to look like. It looked just fine after it was dry. Mostly as I wrote previously, the room is now fresh and clean. Clean as in all the dust from under and behind the furniture is gone! Although there was dust behind pictures, at least I didn't find what my friend Sandy found one time behind hers--termites! As I recall, she said she kept straightening the picture until one day she took it off the wall and saw what no homeowner ever wants to see.

The market was busier but not your blogger. Sales continue to drag. If I were a quitter, this summer would have convinced me to call it quits. Alas, I am not.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Trench Story

Here a trench, there a trench, everywhere trenches! And you thought you'd be reading about brand new windows didn't you? Not yet my friends. Friday's window installation was delayed until Monday which was just as well because around these parts Friday was a busy day for trenches.

As in, trenches all over the back yard! First the plumber arrived to take water to the back side of the house. Our only hose was at the side fence, a pretty good distance to drag said hose. So....add a new hose bib, as the professionals call it, to the list of improvements. Weirdly enough, it was a man who we once knew fairly well, only to have lost touch for many, many years. In fact, it's been so many I did not even recognize him. Matt will surely recognize the name of Paul Wilson. At any rate here's his trench:
Note the size of those remaining roots! They are of the running variety which makes them more of a menace. This morning while I was helping at the museum, two fellas came to keep working on this area for eventual planting with the beautiful plants in the our holding pen. Of course with our new, or essentially new pool, the need to fill with water continuously to make up for leaks will hopefully be a non-existent situation. Nevertheless, there will be water when we need it.

Another improvement which will go unnoticed once everything is tidy again:
Notice the top left dirt by the fence if you will. Said trench follows the fence line down hill towards our neighbor's yard. Over the years our properties' grade was a little too high allowing water to not only pond in that pathetic grass area, but flood the patio as well. On occasion, in a torrential downpour, the water had the nerve to come into the sunroom uninvited. In the photo below, the drain, which looks like a box on his right,  will connect to the drainage tubing coiled to his left. Thus the second trench.
The third trench went unphotographed (is this a word?) because yours truly was too busy inside. What with our granddog Ginger here for the weekend, and a painting project underway, I didn't make it out to the side of the house where the electricians were digging a trench for power to both the shed and the fence. More on that later.

Once the hole was repaired it was time to finish the job with paint. Fortunately, because so many workman were here on Friday, Bruce elected to work from home. He helped me with the set up after I made a 7:30 AM trip to Sherwin Williams. In great timing for us when I visited there on Thursday to get some paint sample cards the clerk mentioned paint was 40% off on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You know how I love a bargain! For some time now I'd wanted to paint our bedroom anyway because I felt I wanted something a little lighter. It's funny how you can absolutely LOVE a color for a while and then you're over it. That's about how I felt regarding sage green. Arriving first thing with one of the curtain panels I chose a different color than what I'd planned walking into the store.

I just love that I have a super strong husband! I'd never get anything done without his muscles. The patch was done beautifully and now that the wall is painted you would never know. You know how I love to pick paint colors by their clever names but yesterday I had to settle for "Hearts of Palm" although with a name like that I may not forget it. Anyway here's when I was at the finish line:
It was so weird because as I put the new color on the other looked almost a bluish gray. Anyway, it's all done now and although this picture is not great due to faulty lighting you get the idea--basically a fresher version of the old:
Taking this first thing this morning,  I hoped you would be able to see the truck parked in our yard through the window. Remember the windows we started with. They are in there. Yep, Monday it will be.

Friday the window guy was here, as was Mark, and one of his carpenters. Setting up under a tent in our driveway, he cut all the framing pieces needed for the window install. Each glass panel is more than 7 feet tall by about 4 feet, not to mention 1" thick,  so it should really be something. All in all, I believe there must have been about 15 people here Friday. I told you it was crazy busy.

Naturally both Baxter and Ginger barked when new ones arrived.  Seriously, I was just a little crazy while it was all happening. And then, I was tuckered out, going to be at some ridiculously early hour.
Baxter is slightly intimidated both by Ginger's size and her activity level. We are accustomed to Baxter mostly laying around whereas Ginger is very, very curious. Probably disoriented as well. When Bruce came to bed last night, she barked and barked. Waking up a few hours later, I discovered Bruce sleeping on the couch with Ginger. He's not only strong, but sweet as well, isn't he?

My beloved Florida State Seminoles are kicking off any minute, so I'm signing off for today. Hope you're not bored with the renovation photos. Oh yeah, before I forget, Phil will not be starting the pool on Monday as planned, much to my dismay. It will be a week later. If you thought the yard looked bad before, you can see it looks even worse after the rain yesterday afternoon!
The saga continues........

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Demolition in Earnest

WARNING: Photo intensive blog post ahead!

You undoubtedly know the song by B.B. King, "The Thrill is Gone" don't you? Well, it occurred to me when thinking about the title for today's post. I was going to go with "The Deck is Gone" which you'll soon see. But what really struck me is that we have had loads of thrills on our deck. Great family gatherings and dance parties. It's not just our deck that's gone, a little piece of our history is gone. Pretty soon it will be time to make new thrills!

Okay, here's what's happening. Yesterday morning Paul arrived with a wet saw on wheels. Fortunately I had my Polasek duty for some of the time he was working so I only had to hear it for about four hours. Actually around 5:00 I went over to Angela's house with Baxter for a little quiet time. He left soon thereafter.

 Here's a look at the prep stage:

 Notice the color of the pool water after three days of no filtration.
Off to the sides, around the palms is concrete sludge.

Bright and early this morning two of the workers arrived at 7AM. In the next half hour four more arrived and here's a look at what they did:
Starting on the small side of the deck, they began removing the cuts, putting the pieces in a wheelbarrow and loading it in a trailer for recycling.
 A little break in the action. Fortuitously Bruce had these bags of top soil there for a resting spot.
 Getting there:
 Now on to the large part:
 The deck is gone and time to tackle the tile:
At the same time this was going on a  plaster specialist was patching the inside walls where the nasty air conditioners were:
 He was very careful with using plastic to protect both the floor and the rest of the room when he was spraying the finish. The patches look great!
Finally, around 2:30 they were done. The concrete chunks were so big. I went out several times, thanking them for their hard work. Professional folks get lots of recognition but the world would stop without the building trades. I am so grateful for them.
Here's just one of the four trailer loads. The gentleman on the right has been a mason for more than fifty years. Can you even imagine doing such hard labor at 70 years old? He's the father of the man who did the cutting. He told me some of the chunks were 7" thick!

Here's what the yard looks like after they left:

Pretty ugly huh? One thing that's so interesting is the change in water color; that is the only bright spot in the landscape at the moment. Needless to say, Baxter is dazed and confused. Never fear those speakers are coming off the house. As well, hopefully the refrigeration lines from the air conditioner you see to the right of the speaker will be re-routed through our measly attic.

Coming soon to a blog near you--new windows!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Old & the New

Friday, while over on Colonial Drive, I remembered someone told me the new kid in town opened about a week ago. Naturally I had to check it out, mostly to see what their frames are like, but I discovered all sorts of goodies. Of what/whom do I write you ask? 
Yep, they opened up in the old Circuit City space at Colonial Plaza, or at least that's what I still call the shopping center. Perhaps there's a new name, but old habits die hard for me! I still call the 408, the East-West Expressway. Sounds like I'm not adapting to the times doesn't it? Not really, it's because there are so many roads beginning with 4 that it's easier for me to keep them all straight that way.

While checking out with these little pretties,
I noticed the clerk was typing in all the prices. Imagine that--a large retailer that does not use bar coding. As well, they are closed on Sundays. When I questioned her regarding the bar coding, she explained that the owner wants the folks to handle the merchandise more so they know what the store offers. This may be true, but apparently the cost of scanning equipment is another factor. She said she hadn't read the book, meaning the one wherein the owner describes how he used $600 to start a business and now it's a mega chain. Wikipedia informs me the Oklahoma entrepreneur is the 123rd richest man in America. That sounds like some success story to me.

Now on to the old. Several weeks ago I received an invitation to a special birthday party for a special lady turning 90. No gifts, no cards, just our company. You've heard me say in the past that people rarely change much over time. Betty, while 90, is still the wise cracker she ever was, with a beautiful smile, and a twinkle in her eyes. I brought my camera, only shooting a few of the birthday girl, after she agreed, but not without a caveat. "If you sell any of those, I want a commission!"
When I told her she looked pretty in pink, her response was, "I can't help it." I told you she still has spunk! These days, although I've a few gray hairs sprouting, mostly sticking straight up, I might add, my hair seems to be getting darker. Certainly not what you'd expect, but so it is. Anyway, in the future, I want hair like Betty. You know, that beautiful white hair that you don't see very often. Loads and loads of people came to celebrate, maybe 200? Held in the gym of First Alliance church, our old stomping grounds for many, many years, there were several tables with woman who make Betty seem young. Seriously, two ladies were 98! Can you imagine living that long? I can't, and if our family history is any indication I won't. Talking to several of the widows, I kept thinking I hope I go before Bruce.  Selfish aren't I?

The weather this weekend was delightful, still blazing hot, but without the crushing humidity. Could it be that we've turned the corner? More folks were sauntering through the market Sunday, however, mostly that's what they do. Saunter. Not buying. Certainly, with the state of our local economy that's not surprising, but it would be nice if there were more shoppers. Actually, I sold nine small pieces, so don't mistake my comments for complaints. I'm grateful every single time someone says, I'd like this!

Any minute the concrete guys are to arrive to begin cutting up the deck. According to Mark, he'll be using a wet saw so the dust factor won't be so horrific. The noise, on the other hand, may be. Mostly I'll be at the Polasek while he's here but poor little Baxter won't be. Perhaps I should take him over to Angela's house to spare his little ears. I've read that dogs hearing sensitivity is much greater than ours; in fact, when the house phone rings for more than two, he starts whining which is rare for him. He's such a sweet little dog, we are so, so lucky to have him around the house.

Saturday evening the sky was brilliant. Here's looking down our street around 7:30:
Life is good around these parts.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Let the Demolition Begin!

It has my friends.

Actually, as I type I'm listening to the sound of the stump grinder working VERY hard to remove the remnants of the ugly Spanish Bayonet. If only I can get Bruce to remove the other one...

Anyway, when I returned home from the symposium yesterday this is what I saw:
Still working on this area but look, we have a house:
Mr. Bruce devised and executed a plan to cover up the view of our neighbor's ugly shed:
This will undoubtedly require time to cover, but oh future happy days is what I have to say!  He was an extremely tired boy after this project; thank goodness the weather is a tad cooler. Take a look at this great view:
 I cannot be happier to see those ugly air conditioners go away!
I had no idea it was happening yesterday so it was a wonderful surprise. Because they were on the side of the house where no one goes, Bruce saw no real reason to remove them befor,e but because he loves me he agreed to it while we have this great crew. While hanging clothes after all this mess is over I'll be thrilled time after time.
See what I mean? Awesome baby!

Removing all the Boston ferns and just plain ugliness around the palms. There is a stump in front of the bricks that will be ground today ensuring better drainage off the patio in the future.

Here's an overview of the yard:
Next week the windows in the sun room will be new with very tinted glass, not to mention, insulated and tempered. As well, the deck will be gone. I'm not relishing the idea of a mostly dirt back yard for a week or two, but we're hoping it's a small price to pay. Well, not just hoping, we know it is! We are so grateful to be doing this project. At times I feel a little guilty because so many folks are struggling. I then remind myself that we've had our share of hard times. Keeping the economy moving we are.

It did occur to me that I'll have to learn how to operate the new pool filtration system which could be a problem. Currently I have no idea how to operate the sprinkler system, or the thermostat in the house. Sounds pathetic doesn't it? And then there's the matter of the alarm clock. You would think I was a moron after reading the above, and you'd be right when it comes to most of the digital world! Here's a look at the previous one with the easy to operate dial timer:
To the left of the upright pipes is the stump from the giant Sheflera tree we removed after the winter freezes. Now you see why it couldn't be ground before! Pretty ugly huh? No telling the age of the sand filter-- least thirty years old? Through the years the pool repairs have had to be made above due to the tree roots. No more, no more.

It's hard to believe that in just a few weeks we mark our fifteenth year in this house, making it our most permanent residence. Through those years we've had to repair/replace just about every system including the air conditioning, plumbing, and roof. This is our second pool renovation, although the previous one was not nearly as extensive. Let's hope this one is our last!

Past, Present, and Future