Time to start paying attention to the outside of the house. We haven’t done a thing with the backyard since we moved in last summer. The inside needed a lot of work, so our time and efforts were directed there. Here’s a picture of our back yard from last month, before we started anything.
As you can see, there’s a problem with the fence on the left, there’s an undesirable trash tree on the right, and the shed is all sorts of ugly. It’s also rusting away in the back and on the left (galvanized metal is not forever). I am storing my motorcycle in the garage at the other house becuse I don’t have any place to keep it here. We need to change that.
The shed came down pretty easily – many of the screws holding it together had rusted, so we needed to put in a little time with the wrecking bar, but most of it ended up in nice galvanized sheets, about three feet wide by 5 feet high that fit easily in our crappy van.
We also took out the tree to the right of the shed. I had to get out the old chain saw (hadn’t run for a few years) and saw up the tree into bits small enough to fit into the van.
We ordered a new shed – it should be delivered any day now. It has already been built, but it’s in Lancaster waiting for delivery. (no, they’re not going to deliver it with a horse and buggy…) I’m afraid that I have been just a little too involved in preparations for the new shed. It’s recommended that the new shed sit on a 4 inch gravel bed. It has to be level, of course. What we decided to do was to get some treated 4×4 posts and set them in the ground as a border for the gravel, anchoring them into the ground with 24″ rebar. We leveled them, digging as necessary, and made a box 2 feet longer and 2 feet wider than the new shed. The old shed had a concrete pad that would have been a lot of trouble to remove, so we used it as a guide – leveling the 4×4 posts and the gravel level to the top of the old pad. Our new shed will sit partially on the old pad and on the gravel as well. Oh, I also repaired the fence – can you tell???
We added landscape fabric before putting in the gravel – this would keep the gravel from disappearing into the ground. The gravel was delivered, but I worked 12 hour day shifts last week, so I ended up putting it into place after dark. We were not able to get the gravel leveled in the dark, but I was able to move the pile from the driveway. I hung a light in the old maple tree so we weren’t in total darkness. As you can see, I had some help…
The next day, we were able to get the gravel leveled and now we’re ready for the new shed. It will be nice to have my motorcycle here – I enjoy riding it to work when the weather allows.
The trees have leaves now! We’ve planted some stuff in the backyard and put some annuals in some hanging baskets to dress up the place a bit. We bought a couple of arborvitae to stand guard in pots on either side of our front door, cut the grass and spread the weed and feed on the lawn. We have also noticed a lot of bird activity – we see birds flying around with bits of paper and twigs to build their nests. Some birds, anyway. We had a dove move into one of our hanging planters next to the front door. Last time that I checked, there were a couple of eggs in there. No nest, no preparation, just a couple of eggs on top of the potting soil and a mama dove nestled in among our pansies. It’s under the porch roof so she won’t get wet, but it’s next to our front door. We don’t use our front door that often, but the mailman stops by there every day. When that happens, she flies up to the telephone wire and watches until it’s safe to return. We’ve got a couple of nicer baskets in the back yard that we’ll move to the front after the little ones have gone. For now, mama dove owns our front porch.
Another sure sign of spring is that Bonnie gets a trim. She’s a Lhasa Apso, a dog bred for a cold climate, so she has a full coat. I have her trimmed in the spring because I’m really too lazy to do the work that it takes to keep a long coat beautiful. She’s also not as messy with short hair.
The last time we had her trimmed, her eye was injured. This time, we took her to a new groomer (who seems really nice) and I’m happy with the way that she looks. Monica thinks that she’s ugly, but she’ll get used to her….
Sunday, we moved our little sailboat to the marina. It took just over four hours – about normal for that journey. Everything worked well. The wind was directly on the bow and impeded my progress until I reached the Sassafras river. Once I turned into the river it was much nicer, and I was able to raise the sails. We still need to do a bit of topside scrubbing, but the little boat’s ready to go. I also got my first real sunburn of the year – mostly on the top of my head – imagine that…. Needing a sailing hat, I did a bunch of research and found that the best hat for that purpose is sold my a company called Tilly. Seems kinda expensive for a hat, but it’s a nice one and should last for years. It’s guaranteed against loss, too. While moving the little sailboat, I tried out a piece of gear that came with the ship, but we had never used – a tillerpilot. This is a stick with a brain. There’s an electronic compass in there – one simply steers a course for a while and then punches the “auto” button and the stick takes over, attempting to maintain the compass course that you set. How Cool! When you’re sailing, someone’s hand must be on the tiller at all times. The ability to leave the tiller for a minute or two allows you the chance to go forward and adjust a sail or perhaps just get out of the spray. It also allows you the opportunity to go forward and fall off the deck while your boat happily tracks a compass course off into the distance, so regular use of this feature while single-handed will require a harness for safety reasons.
Our granddaughter Mary had her surgery and she should be fine. Details here.
Our refinery has been sold to a gentleman that has made billions of dollars by investing in oil refineries in down markets and selling them when conditions improved. These people have purchased the Delaware City Refinery before, so there are some familiar faces. There is a lot of work to be done to get the refinery back to peak operating condition, and it may take almost a year to get the work done. The sale price was low enough that there’s a really good opportunity for some money to be made, as well as to have about 500 good-paying manufacturing jobs return to Delaware City. I received an e-mail yesterday that extended my termination date (was expected to be Friday, three days from now) to some indefinite date. There’s a chance that I won’t lose any time at work and will remain in my same position in the new company. To all of you that were praying for me – thanks.