Defeated

November 27, 2011

Our sunroom leaks water around 4 of the windows. It has been leaking since we moved in. Prior to us moving in it leaked in water which then froze and popped 6 tiles loose.

Last fall I tried to repair the leak by replacing the flashing. The old flashing had shifted when the wood underneath of it warped. This warping meant that the flashing moved water towards rather than away from the windows. I replaced the flashing with new flashing, which had a nice slope on it so that water moved away from the windows. Then I sealed the hell out of the flashing. I waited for it to rain.

When it did rain water leaked in as though I had done nothing. I cursed.

I decided that water was leaking in around the top of the windows. The sunroom only has a one-inch overhang. The sunroom roof drains water from the roof of the house, so a lot of rain runs off it. I bought a gutter. I bought special mounting blocks which are sold by the sunroom company. Then I ran out of time. The gutter sat in the garage all winter and we used towels to sop up the water. But I would lay awake at night and worry about the leak.

Then the fall came and I really began worrying about the water.  I thought in earnest about putting up the gutter, but I had a problem. The steps for the deck run right in front of the window. I could not set up a ladder because the steps were in the way, and I could not set up a ladder on the steps because the ladder was too wide to fit on any one step. I found some very expensive ladders meant for such situations, but did not feel like spending $200 on a ladder I would only need for one spot.

I went to Beechwold Hardware and asked for help. They suggested that I use wood to build a platform which would make 2 steps level and then I could set up my ladder. Genius! I spent $20 on wood and build a platform, and it worked perfectly.

I began installing the gutter by putting up the metal blocks that the gutter would then be attached to. This went relatively quickly. The next weekend I got the gutter out. My next problem is that the gutter was 14 feet long and I could not hold up both ends of it while I bolted it to the blocks. I solved this problem by getting some rope and running one end of it though the block and then pulling the gutter up into place. At this point I was feeling pretty proud of myself. Unfortunately it then took me 3 trips to the hardware store to get the proper screws to bolt the gutter to the blocks. Gutters are usually attacked to wood and I was attaching mine to metal blocks and this required special metal screws.

When I finally got the gutter in place I realized that there was a half-inch gap between the edge of the gutter and the overhang from the sunroom roof. This gap would allow water to run down in front of the gutter instead of going into the gutter. I decided to use narrow width flashing to fill this gap. I held the flashing in place with silicon. Then I ran a a heater down the center of the gutter to prevent ice build up during the winter. All in all I was feeling pretty proud of how smoothly the project went. All  I had to do was wait for rain.

It rained and I went outside to make sure the water was running as it should. Everything was working perfectly. Then I went inside and found that water was, as usual. puddling at the base of the windows. I cursed again. A lot. But I stopped obsessing. I had done everything I could do. There was nothing left to do. I gave up., defeated, and decided to keep some old towels ready for when it rains.

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The Sunroom Leak

December 9, 2010

My favorite room in the house is a sunroom that my parents built on the east side of the house approximately 7 years-ago. It is about 14 feet long by 10 feet wide. It sits on a small deck, which I also love. I decided to use the sunroom to keep my plants in and to heat the sunroom year-round.

I also want to heat the sunroom year round because when not heated ice dams build up on its roof and cause water to leak in through the roof. Last winter ice dams also built up on the flashing around the sunroom and caused water to leak in around the windows. The water got on the floor of the sunroom and got under the tile floor, froze and popped many tiles loose. I have left the tiles loose and will not re-glue them to the floor until I am sure I have fixed the water leak. The loose tiles make a nice crunchy sound when we walk on them.

I decided that water was leaking in around the outside walls because the flashing got a hump in it when the deck dried and this hump was directing water towards the window instead of away from the window. How to fix it? I cut a piece of treated 2×4 in a strip with a 10 degree angle in it. I nailed this to the existing flashing, up against the outside walls (windows really) of the sunroom.

Then I bought some gutter material (thicker and stronger than flashing) and nailed it to the wood and bent it over the lip of the existing flashing. Then I sealed the flashing where it came in contact with he windows. I used a sealant my cousin David recommended because of durability. The stuff came out of the caulk gun the consistency of chewing gum and its fumes gave me a headache. I applied it rather sloppily. I suck at applying caulk. Still, I thought, the caulking should provide a good seal. I looked at my work. beautiful! No, actually it looks like shit, but it would definitely direct water away from the sunroom.

Over thanksgiving weekend it rained 3 inches. I went to see if the sunroom was leaking. Yes, yes it was. Same place too. Shit shit shit. I laid a towel down to absorb the water and spent part of turkey-day considering the problem. I decided the sealant must not have worked. I must have gotten a defective batch, or not applied it properly. The next day it was dry and I scraped off the old sealant (which did not want to come off) and put on a new sealant. This layer of new sealant on top of the old looked even worse than before, but maybe it would work. Then I waited.

It rained 2 nights later. I got up in the middle of the night to check the sunroom and f*(k me if it was not still leaking. Same exact place too. Right under 2 of the windows. Fuck F&*k F%^k F@#kity F_+k. This leak was starting to piss me off.

Helpfully, my father saved the entire installation manual for the sunroom. There is some good information in there and I used it to call the sunroom company. The sunroom people suggested 2 things. #1 they suggested that I put a gutter on the sunroom. They suggested that an excess of water and ice and snow coming down the front of the sunroom had caused 2 of the window seals to fail, thus causing the leak. #2 they suggested a liberal application of caulk all around the leaking windows and especially at the top of the window which is where they said the water usually leaks in. I did the caulking. It really looks yucky and I am now waiting on rain to see if that part works.

I then considered a gutter. A gutter made sense. The water from the old part of the house flows down the roof to the roof of the addition and then onto the roof of the sunroom. This is a lot a water. Think of the many branches of the Nile coming together into one mighty river. The sunroom only has about a 2 inch overhang, so a lot of that water runs right down the front of the windows. The sunroom is not a submarine, and naturally some of that water makes it through the windows and into the sunroom.

I went to buy a gutter. The roofing supply company has to be one of the most manly environments I have ever been in. I thought auto mechanic shops were thick with testosterone, but not compared to roofing supply companies. The people at the roofing company are great, but damn, felt my chest getting hairier just being there. There do not seem to be many women in roofing.

When I was waiting for my gutters, trying to look tough, I noticed that there was a video running behind the purchasing desk explaining to contractors that they should not point nail guns at each other for fun. Seriously? If there were more women roofers somehow I do not think such a video would be necessary.

I purchased a 14 foot section of gutter from the roofing company. I also purchased gutter mounting blocks from the sunroom company.These have to be mounted just under the eaves of the sunroom and then the gutter attaches to them. The mounting blocks finally arrived in the mail yesterday. Just in time for 20 degree weather. When I was at the hardware store buying machine screws for the mounting blocks the hardware store-guy said, “Don’t you know that people usually install gutters in the summer? I replied, ” I don’t like mosquitoes.”

Only when looking at the gutter blocks and the gutters did I realize that I cannot lift a 14 foot section of gutter into place by myself. The gutter is light enough, but it would bend while I tried to attach it. Crap. I called my friend Mike. He is going to come over next week when it is above freezing and help me attach the gutter. He is a good friend to be willing to help with this nasty job in the winter.

So help me, I am going to fix this damn leak.

The Fireplace

November 28, 2010

When I was a kid in this house, we had a wood burning fireplace. It smoked, but it burned O.K.. At some point the chimney caught fire and afterward my dad had it re-lined with steel. After that the fireplace would not stop smoking. My dad gave up on it.

I had the fireplace looked at before we moved in. The fireplace guy said that the liner was too small. It would cost $4,000 to reline it. That is more than I want to spend. The fireplace guy also said that maybe, just maybe putting a fireplace door on the fireplace would cut down the airflow enough that we could have a fire without smoke. The fireplace guy also said that the firebox needed re-lined. The bricks were not high enough and some of them were falling out. Without enough bricks a fire could set light to the wood and plaster on the other side of the fireplace. Not safe.

First we bought a fireplace doors. These had to be custom-made because the fireplace opening is really small. When they arrived I put them on the fireplace and made a fire. The fireplace guy was right. It did not smoke if the doors were closed. Unfortunately as soon as you opened the doors to put a log it, huge amounts of smoke would billow into the room. This was not going to work.

We decided to convert the fireplace to gas. This would cost a few hundred dollars instead of four thousand. Vented gas fireplaces are not very expensive and my sainted brother-in-law could install it.

But first I had to re-line the firebox. I bought some firebrick and type s mortar to reline the box. I removed the glass doors and then removed the old bricks with a crowbar. That was easy. Then I started laying in the new brick. They fit in best horizontally, but the last brick (or first brick) in alternate rows had to be cut in half. I bought a cutting tool to go on my Dremel.

This worked great for making a small cut on each side if the brick. I would then use a chisel and hammer to knock the bricks in half. This worked well but the cutting overheated the Dremel. So long as I stopped to let the Dremel cool off it was fine, but one day I was in a hurry and I did not stop. There was a puff of smoke and the Dremel was dead. F&ck. I liked that Dremel.

I went and bought a masonry cutting blade for my circular saw. This worked really well at cutting the brick. The only problem was that I had difficulty keeping the brick from moving when I was cutting them. Eventually though, I got the bricks cut.

This brings me to the fun part which was mortaring the bricks into place. I have seen pros do this and it did not look that hard. You put some mortar down, lay the brick on top, check that the brick is level tap it a few times if it is not level and then move on to the next brick.

This is me doing it.

Lay some mortar down. Notice that the mortar is too dry. Curse. Bang head on top of fireplace. Scrape mortar off. Add water to mortar. Mix. Lay mortar down. Put brick on mortar. Note brick is way off level. Tap brick. No change. Tap brick again – too hard. All mortar squishes out under brick. Curse. Remove brick. Lay down mortar. Put brick on mortar. Check for level. Pretty close this time. Tap on brick to try to get it level. Tap some some more. Still not quite level. Tap again. Notice that mortar is beginning to dry and crumble instead of squish. Curse. Bang head on fireplace. Curse louder. Remove brick. Remove mortar. Notice mortar in bucket is again too dry. Curse curse curse.

At this point wife says she blew a circuit breaker and would like me to reset it. I gently suggest to wife that she use a different f)cking outlet becasue I am f(cking busy. Start over.

You can guess that it took me many, many days to completely rebuild the fireplace. It is now done. The bricks look level if you do not look too close.

We are now waiting on the gas logs to arrive. Then the sainted brother-in-law will install and I will put the glass doors back on the fireplace and we will be in business. I will take a picture of the finished fireplace and post it.

Overgrown

November 8, 2010

Every growing thing in the yard at the house is overgrown. The Taxus bushes by the front door were the worst offenders. I had to cut them back severely to open up the sidewalk to the front door. Hopefully the Taxus will fill out some next year. I took some before/after pictures of the front walk.

Next I going to poison a large area of groundcover that my mom planted and once it is dead I will pull it out. I can’t remember the name of this stuff, but it is planted along freeways and grows like kudzu. It is actually working it’s way up through the asphalt of the driveway. I want it dead and then I want to plant perennials in it’s place.

Finally, I cut down a large overgrown area on the south side of the house. Originally there were shrubs on the side of the house, but they got big and turned into a jungle. It took several days and a chainsaw to get it all cut down and the only downside is that I got a tick in my ear. Next year I plan to put a vegetable garden in that spot.

Winterizing and stuff

November 3, 2010

As hot as the house was when it was hot, the house is cold now that it is cold. I have been spending all my time covering windows. Not as easy as it sounds.

I started with the storms. There were six of them. Huge pieces of plate-glass that fit into extruded aluminum frames to cover the leaded-glass windows that we crank open in the nice weather. Each storm is approximately 4×5 feet and weighs 20-40 pounds. They are all slightly different sizes (why dear God, I ask you, are they all different sizes???) but they are labeled so I know which window goes where. Some of them require me to climb a ladder to install them. This is no damn joke.

My dad always waited until December to put them on and he cursed a lot in the process. I remember him dropping several of the windows and breaking them. I think the cursing that ensued is still traveling outward from our solar system into the galaxy beyond. Now I understand why. You try climbing a ladder while holding a huge sheet of glass. Remember, you cannot hold onto the glass and hold onto the ladder at the same time and if you drop the glass you will be lucky if it only breaks and does not break on top of you and cut some vital artery. Nerve-wracking stuff.

My dad suggested making storms out of wood and plastic for the inside of the windows. He has already done this for the upstairs windows and they are beautiful and practical. He has also taken apart, stripped painted and repaired the upstairs windows so they are up for being exposed the elements. Most of the downstairs windows still need to be taken apart and repaired. I am going to attempt to restore one window next summer and see how it goes. Meantime, I want the windows covered from the outside to protect them from weather. Thus the storms. F*&k, what a pain.

Next I moved on to the 3 double-hung windows that have no storms. These are also leaded glass, but are not so attractive as the other windows and are probably going to be replaced sometimes in the next few years. They have character, but not enough to make them worth keeping. On these windows I stuffed the cracks with caulk and them put up the stick-on plastic.

Except for the bathroom window which as been newly painted and to which the stick-up plastic would not stick. Damn. This window is huge – probably 3-1/2 feet wide by 3-1/2 feet tall. It faces north and there is a toilet just under it. In the winter you will swear, if sitting on this toilet, that the water in the toilet must be frozen because you can feel that your ass is getting frostbitten as you try to do your business. I could not have my 14 year-old daughter getting a frostbitten derriere, so I built a wood frame to go in this window and them put the plastic on the wood frame. Not as pretty as my Dad’s, but not too ugly and I can reuse it next year.

Finally I moved to the basement windows. There are 8 if them. Six of them are approximately 20×40 inches. They all vary by a few inches. Again, dear God, why the f#$k would the original builders do this to me??? 2 of them are approximately 15×30 inches. These windows originally had glass in steel frames fit into the cement. When I was a kid we could open them. I discovered that they are all rusted shut. Some of the windows are cracked or chipped and replacing them would be impossible because there is not enough metal frame left to put glass in.

One window was badly broken and I discovered that squirrels had been using the space beneath it for storage of walnuts. About 100 pounds of walnuts. That explains why I had squirrels cavorting in the basement and chewing on anything wooden. That window we had replaced with glass block. Very pretty. Cost $220. Cost of doing it myself: $180. I did a quick pain-in-my-ass vs. 40 bucks calculation and decided to pay someone to do it. They did a nice job, but that leaves me with 7 other leaky windows and winter breathing right down my neck.

I found plastic covers to do on the smaller 2 windows. My father would croak at how I installed these covers. I used a large amount of construction adhesive and glued the damn things right onto the cement walls around the windows. Looks like hell. Works great. I could find so such product for the larger windows. I even looked on-line. Shit.

I decided to make frames out of 1×2 wood and plastic. It took forever to get them all made. I kept mis-measuring and some of the windows are not quite square. Anyway it got done and I put plastic on the outside and inside of the frames, stapled it in place and used duct tape to hold down the edges of the plastic. Not too pretty, but very effective. Because the windows are not perfectly straight or square, I used foam and silicon to fill in gaps. Again, this looks like shit, but it is the basement, so who cares?? I’ve included a picture of one of these beauties. We are hoping to replace one window each year with glass block, but meantime my homemade storms should work.

Next post: Fun with insulation…

I wrote before about how we were going to paint the paneling and cork in the family room, which most people today would call the great room. Guess what? My in-laws offered to pay someone to drywall the room instead. Wonderful in-laws. I love them more than ever.

Some guys came that my brother-in-law the plumber knows. They gave an estimate of $2400. I was expecting something like $9000. They said that they would drywall right over top of the cork and paneling. I thought this sounded iffy. For one thing, the cork and paneling are not all on the same plane. Meaning that in places the cork sticks out a half inch or more beyond the paneling. They drywall guys said that they would use shims. Also to reach the 20 foot ceiling they would use scaffolding. We gave them them the green light and they started the next day. The job was done within a week. There was no pain and no work on my part to get this done, which felt like quite a luxury to me.

There were a few minor problems. Although they cleaned up some, the drywall guys still left a mess of drywall dust on the floor. The floor had to be mopped 4 times to get it up. There is still a lot dust in all the registers and they will have to be vacuumed out before the heat comes on in the fall. The other problem is that there is are a large number of dings in the walls where the drywall will have to be repaired before it can be painted. The paperwork we signed said that the drywall would be paint-ready, but I do not consider it paint-ready if we have to fix and sand a bunch of spots before they can be painted.

Despite these minor complaints, the drywall looks great. As you can see from the before and after pictures, even the grey-colored drywall brightens up the room considerably. Now we are debating paint colors, but it will probably be fall or winter before we paint. There are 2 other rooms ahead of it that need painted first.

Gardening

August 21, 2010

I have not posted for a while. Moving and trying to get the old house ready to sell have been completely sapping my energy. I feel very lucky to be able to work on the old house when I am not living in it. That said, I am sick of working on it and cannot wait to get it to sell. We have had 4 showings so far and the realtor is already ready to lower the price. We want to wait a few weeks before lowing the price. We will see who wins this argument.

A quick note about movers. Never pay them by the hour. We hired 2 guys who started off moving pretty quick, but by halfway through the day they were taking smoke breaks every 20 minutes and taking 1o minutes to move each box inside. On the upside, they did not break anything and did put things where we requested.

I decided to do a little gardening at the manse. There is a 5 by 25 foot bed along the walkway up to the house. It was overgrown with lily-of-the-valley and English Ivy. Nice plants, but having a whole bed of them meant the only time it was interesting was a brief few weeks in the spring. I was at the garden center and found that they had all their annuals marked 50% off. I could not resist. I bought 6 flats of impatiens to plant there. Impatiens are not my favorite annual, but they would do well in this spot which only gets part sun. Once I bought the impatiens I figured it might take me 2 hours to complete the whole job. Simple, right?

The first thing that I discovered was that the lily-of-the-valley had created a dense root mat. So dense, that I had to dig it out with a pick ax. Seriously. In small segments. It was like digging up cement. It took 4 hours to dig it all out. I did actually leave a row of lily-of-the-valley at the back of the bed, because I like the plant, just not a whole bed of it.

When I had removed the lily-of-the-valley I found that underneath of it was another dense root mat from the pine trees which are planted on the other side of the walkway. These also had to be cut and dug up. By the time I finished this I was hot, irritated and sweaty. In the process of digging, several flagstones in the walk up to the house came loose. Shit. They would have to be cemented back in place. Eventually the entire walk up to house needs replaced, but not now. Replacing those flagstones will be a nightmare job of epic proportions. I will wait a few years to do it.

Also discovered that the border of the bed was made up of old clay tiles and that many of them were missing or broken. There were not enough to act as a border for the whole bed – the purpose of which would be to hold the soil and mulch back and prevent it from falling onto the walk. Damn. A trip to Lowe’s would be needed.

When I got to Lowe’s I discovered that garden edging is mostly ugly or expensive. Wood strips cost $10 for five feet worth and plastic edging was cheap, but really ugly. I wanted cheap and nice looking. After browsing for an hour, I found some cedar fencing that I could cut and use as a border. I thought it would look nice. It cost me $16 for 25 feet which was much less than the cost of the other edging options. I was happy, at least until I got home.

When I got home I found that the flower bed was not at all straight. It was very uneven. The boards however, were straight. Shit. I decided to cut the boards into sections that were 4X6 inches and to then lay the boards along the bed, following its contours. This worked great, thought I realized I could have just bought another box of tile and saved myself the effort. Plus the tile would last forever and the cedar would eventually rot. Damn.

I got the border put down. I added topsoil and compost. I was 7 hours into my 2 hour job. My wife came home, stood next to me and said something to the effect that she liked the flower bed better the way it was before. I told her to go stand somewhere else.

Finally, I added the flowers and much. To give you an idea of how long this took, I started at about 11 am and did not finish until after dark. As you can see, it looks pretty darn good. I forgot to take a before photo, so you will have to take my word for it.

One last thing…

To fix the stones that came loose I purchased a quart of pre-mixed cement. Handy not having to mess with mixing it which is a pain for a small amount of cement. I put the stones back and used some cement under them and around them to hold them in place. Unfortunately the cement I put under the stones squished out and went somewhere else, with the result that the stones that had been level, ended up about a half-inch below the rest of the stones in the walk. I did not discover this until the next day. Nice place for ice to accumulate in the winter. Frickity. It will now be very difficult to remove the stones because there is fresh cement holding them in place. I will probably put cement over the top of them to make the spot level and really fix it when I rebuild the whole walkway. Another day.

Living without AC

July 25, 2010

I have written before about the house not having AC.  I was worried about the kids and wife living without AC for the first time in their lives. However, they have handled the heat admirably. They don’t complain much and seem to appreciate the breeze that the ceiling fans create.

I, however, am a big whiny butt. I cannot stop bitching. The heat is making me miserable.  I came home from work last night, found the house to be 90-plus degrees and was instantly in a bad mood. I am not proud of it, but the facts are that everyone else is handling the heat well and I am not. I hate sweating even when I am sitting still. I hate having no place to go to get away from it. I hate not being able to boil water or even use the toaster without turning the kitchen into an inferno. I hate that I have a prickly heat rash for the first time since I was a kid. I hate that the temperature can put me in such a bad mood.

The ceiling fans are helping. There are two of them in the great room. I installed one of these fans because the old one was broken and now have to install another fan because my wife cannot stand the fact that the two fans do not match. There is a ceiling fan in every bedroom. Really, there is no place else to install ceiling fans even if I wanted to. With the fans and all the windows, we have good air circulation. The house is hot as hell, but not stuffy.

Also, the house is not hot all summer. The house has lots of  windows and lots of trees around it. On most Ohio summer days when the temperature is in the 80’s during the day and in the 60’s and 70’s at night, the house is warm, but not uncomfortably so. Many nights this summer I have even gotten a chill while sleeping and have woken up and turned the ceiling fan off. The house only gets really miserable when the temperature stays above 80 at night and goes up into the 90’s during the day. On these days the house is hot at night and hot during the day. There is no escaping. Taking cold showers helps, but only temporarily.

What to do about the heat? Not much right now. In 5 years (after some bills are paid) we are planning on replacing the furnace in the old part of the house and we will then add AC and hopefully add AC to the new furnace as well. This will cost upwards of ten grand and cooling the house all summer will also be expensive.

Window units? Not practical. The windows in the new part of the house are all 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Not easy to fit an AC unit into. In the old part of the house not only are windows not made for AC units, but the current electrical system cannot handle running an AC unit. Upgrading the electric? Ten to twenty thousand dollars. Not in the budget right now.

I did find an AC unit to put in my son’s room. His room is the hottest in the house because it is exposed to the sun all afternoon and evening. How do I know this? Because it  was my room when I was a kid. I bought an AC  unit which is essentially a large vertical rectangle on rollers. It has 2 hoses which exit the window.  To make the window airtight, I had to cut a piece of plywood to fit the window and then cut 2 holes in it the plywood for the hoses to go out. I glued a piece of insulation to the inside of the plywood. I painted the outside of the insulation brown to match the siding on the house. From the outside it looks ugly as hell. On the inside the AC unit  looks like the robot from the Lost in Space TV show. It does do a nice job cooling my son’s room. The only downside besides the ugliness is that when it is really humid, the AC unit builds up water in a tank which must be drained or the unit will shut off. I would not mind this except that the a$$holes who designed the unit put the drain 1/2 inch off the floor at the back of the unit.  This means I have to find something 1/2 inch deep to drain the water into, then disconnect the hoses running out the window so I can turn the unit and drain it. This is a serious pain-in-the-a$$. I could run a drain hose out of the unit and into pan on the floor, but I have a feeling I would forget to drain the pan and it would end up spilling on the floor. Because of this downside, I  will not be buying any more of these units to use in the rest of the house.

The rest of the rooms will just have to remain sweltering until we can afford AC. I just need to find a way to keep from feeling foul on every hot day.

The fence

May 10, 2010

The manse has about a million feet of circa 1970’s chain-link fencing. The fencing surrounds the entire back yard and part of a ravine which is on the property. The fence is getting decrepit. It needs replaced. This will cost lots of money. For  now, I am just repairing it enough to prevent escape from our SPUTT (Spaniel mutt) puppy.

Most of the repairs were easy, but one was difficult. It involved repairing the fence where it goes down a steep hill and across the bottom of the ravine. Picture #1 is of the ravine on our property. Trees fell on the fence a number of years ago. Then honeysuckle bushes grew into the fence. What an effing mess. Also, the ravine is steep. Very steep. When I was a kid I ran up and down the ravine like a damn goat. Now I stumble and fall into the ravine like a boulder.

First some tools. I bought a chain saw. Not a Stihl, which is the gold standard, but a less pedigreed Bolan 16 inch gas chainsaw. With all the trees on our property, I have a feeling I will be making frequent use of the chain saw. Then I brought all my lopers and shears from our old house over to the Manse.

First order of business was to stumble into the ravine and cut away all the honeysuckle. Picture #2 is the honeysuckle covering the fence. Cutting it away was a pain in my a$$, and I got lots of scratches and cuts for my efforts. The honeysuckle will need to be poisoned with weed killer next week. Otherwise it will grow right back, and it is an invasive species in Ohio.

Picture #3 shows the fence with the trees down on it. They were too heavy to move, so I cut them off. Can I just say that I effing love my new chainsaw? It cut through the wood like a knife through hot butter. Unlike older chainsaws it automatically oils the chain and it has an anti-buck feature where it has a clutch which stops the blade if the blade gets bound up in wood.

Why is this important? Because the alternative is when it kicks back it is very likely to cut off  your leg. The chainsaw also has a brake which stops the blade almost instantly when I cut back the power. All this makes it much safer than the old chainsaws that I have used. Finally, the new chainsaw has a sharp blade. Until now I do not think I realized that every other chainsaw I have used has needed the chain sharpened.

After cutting the logs away I used the chain saw to cut up several other downed trees, and I used it to remove some trees where I intend to have a vegetable garden. Our lot has way too many trees on it.

If I were a small tree on our property right now, I would be very nervous because I am telling you, I really like that chainsaw.

Next I went to Lowe’s. I needed some kind of fencing to repair the chain link. I explained to the helpful salesperson at Lowe’s that I did not care how the fence looked, so long as it kept the dog in and was pretty cheap. He suggested 5 foot high hardware cloth and steel posts with hooks on them which hold the fences in place. This worked great! See picture #4. It looks like shit, but nobody can see it and it will keep the dog in.

One day, just for yucks, I am going to call someone to get an estimate on a new fence. I am guessing more than $10 grand for the whole job. It is a huge yard and nobody will like working in the ravine.

This does not really relate to any particular project, but is something I would just like to complain about.

I have been spending a lot of time at Lowe’s. The self-checkout at Lowe’s is a serious pain in my a$$. I suppose the damn things are supposed to save time, but they don’t save me any time at all.

The other day for example. I am buying 5 cans of white Rustoleoum spray paint with which I will paint the awning at our old house. I scan the first can. The register says I need assistance.

A friendly Lowe’s lady comes and enters data on the register that says that yes, this man is over the age of 18 and can legally buy spray paint. (A stupid law if you ask me – I have not noticed a decrease in graffiti.) Then I re-scan my first can of paint and put it in the bag. Then the register states that I have not put my can of paint in a bag (which I have) and says I need help again.

The friendly Lowe’s lady comes again and fixes something. I scan another can. Same problem. The same problem happens with each can of paint. The friendly Lowe’s lady is starting to look at me like I am mentally deficient, but eff, it is the register’s problem, not mine. However, I am starting to get pissed off and red in the face. Then I try to pay. The card machine will not accept my card.

The friendly Lowe’s lady is staring to look less friendly. She comes and shows me what I did wrong. O.K. This time it was my fault, but sh*t it had not been my fault up to that point. I try to complete my transaction, all the while having visions of putting my foot through the effing register. The transaction gets hung up again. This time it was the machine’s fault again, but I am cursing under my breath and the friendly Lowe’s lady is looking at me like I am mentally deficient and possibly dangerous.

Dammit, I just want to buy my paint. Finally I finish paying and leave. Christ. The whole transaction should have taken 2 minutes and it took 10 and I hogged up a friendly Lowe’s lady who should have been doing something productive, like helping someone find crap in their godforesaken huge store? Who is saving time here? Certainly not me.