Friday, July 10, 2015

I'd Rather Retain Water Than Retain This Wall

The last phase of my overall 2015 exterior offensive will actually be short, verbally.  Not that it was an easy push, it was a week of physical labor, pure and simple.  But the pictures here will tell more of the story than my sardonic verbiage.

This last push will basically cleanup the entire close-in yard on the east side of the property, a narrow little strip that includes flat land as well as lofty cliffs.  Spicelandia.  The Stairway to Nowhere.  It will also clean up the view from the guest room, which began way back when and includes not less than a couple blog posts.

The Garbage Depo and What The L? both chronicle some of the preliminary work to get to where we are today.  

The first thing I did was sink a couple poles for a real clothesline.  No more back woods hillbilly chin-up bar land.

At the same time, I sank the posts for the eight foot wide privacy fence.  With that up no one will have to look at our underwear when they drive up to the house.

Then I started slicing away at the bottom of the cliff, making a nice, ten inch wide base for the coming wall, adding bricks and leveling along the way.  The bottom run is always the longest, time wise. Work wise.  Level wise.  But the secret to having a nice, level retaining wall is to take the time on the bottom level.  The rest just fall into place.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, all the above blocks are upside down.  That little lip on the back is supposed to face DOWN.  Didn't pick up on that until I was pretty much done with the bottom layer.  First time I've played with this particular type of block.  What a block head.  The bad news was I had to flip all them damn blocks. The good news was that it didn't affect the level.  As if I had nothing better to do.  Still, I positively call this process stupid fitness.  It's similar to forgetful fitness.   

Most folks my age get distressed when they walk into a room and forget why they went in there.  So when they discover a void has replaced the quest they usually retrace their steps with the hope that will trigger the quest again.  It usually does, but sometimes that pesky void reappears on the return trip.  Many times the quest can be lost and found several times before it is successful.  Freaks some people out.  I mean, half the time they're just shooting for something as innocuous as nail clippers.  I just figure it's my brain's way of keeping my body in shape.

Many times side trips can occur along the way.  When this happens I can get a lot of stuff done, although it seems to take forever to complete the original quest.  You know, I was on the way to the bathroom for nail clippers and ended up painting the hall, mowing the lawn and replacing a door knob in the kitchen.  That sort of thing.  Half the time I can't even keep track of where I am let alone what I'm doing.

 Do it at a nice sustained pace all day it's akin to Akimbo, maybe.  What is Akimbo, anyway?  I'm a word guy, sometimes it sounds good only it might not make any sense. 

Do it in quick spurts it's like memory loss aerobics.  We may be losing our minds but at least that process is helping keep us in shape.  This can be especially true when you have stairs in the house.  And smoke weed.  I tend to get a lot of exercise around here, not doing anything, really, that I can think of.

I suppose it could be distressing if the room you walked into contained all your friends and it was a surprise birthday party.  For you.

Everybody shouts, "Surprise!  Happy birthday!"

And you walk out muttering, "Why the hell did I come in here?"

But I digress.  And so have you, apparently, if this has really ever happened to you.

Once I flipped 'em and re-level'd, I added the remaining three rows, one block at a time.  256 blocks at about 24 pounds each.  So I moved, by hand and wheel barrow, around 6,144 pounds of bricks, just over 3 tons.  Not including the stupid fitness part of the program.  No wonder my back was sore the next day.

Once the final row was in, I was able to visualize the scene a little better.  It was then time to pull out some of the existing concrete like dirt and gravel and make the area level.

One shovel at a time.  About 35 shovels to a wheelbarrow.  About 40 wheelbarrows worth of bad dirt, at about 4 pounds per shovel.  That would equate to around 5,600 pounds of dirt.  In and out.  So that would be over 5 tons of dirt.  No wonder my back hurt the next day. 

I moved all the bad dirt over to the newly made extra parking area where the Great Wall of Innuendo was erected earlier this year.  That area is also the current firewood staging area as well as dirt depository.  Without that wall all this solid soil would simply erode away and I would have no place to play with my firewood.  Or park an extra car.

Once all the bad dirt was over here

It was time to move this good dirt

Over here.  Level it a little and then wait for an optimum time to plant the drought resistant lawn.

So much cleaner and it will be so much cooler once some greenery is established this fall.  I have a couple small items to complete, maybe a couple hours of relatively easy work, but it's definitely time for a breather.

Fowl Update

We ended up with at least one rooster out of our newest batch of chicks.  We may yet have another.  Little teeny crows echo our more established boisterous bellow of Goldie, our Big Bad Buff Orpington.  Fortunately I was able to find the first one a good home.  Looks like he's getting tossed into a harem of eight Barred Rock hens, his new owners want to breed him.  Should be a decent enough life for a bad boy.

His fortunes were not faring so well over here.  At four months he was getting his primal bird brain urges, and the younger ones weren't quite ready for his aggressive assaults.  So he'd get angry and chase them all over the yard..  The older hens weren't having any either.  He'd try to jump them and they'd have him off in a second, reading him a riot act and chasing him all over the yard.

I hope he didn't get a performance complex.

All our other fine feathered and furry friends are doing fine.  So are our blossoming buddies.  It's been over five weeks now since the gate and fencing have been completed.  No breach by them dang flea infested varmints.  Hallelujah!  Our roses, as well as other flowers are now blossoming freely!

I am still watering the front lawn.  Not as much as last year, and it's looking pretty darn bedraggled, but by doing that I am also getting water to the large, majestic oaks that provide shade to the house.  I am also only mowing it once a month or so instead of once a week or so, thus forcing the roots deeper and allowing it to survive on less water. 

Sigh.  Here's hoping for that much needed El Nino this fall and winter.