Julie Chimes in with a post of this last weekend:
The last few weeks have been full of work, then home, then work on the house. We organized crap in the dumpster (we pay by the dumpster) to capitalize on space and avoid getting another dumpster, then flattening the old AC ducts with a sledge hammer for said dumpster and sending all the icky build up of dust and gunk flying.
This is a massive post. Lots of catch-up on the home project. Highlights: cleaning gunk, blackberry horticulture, [segway into a college story,] fence installation, giving myself a black eye.
I don't even remember what we did last weekend...oh yeah, we cleaned out the ancient rockdust insulation from the attic and used the saw-zall to cut the old metal frame for plaster from the ceiling. Basically, I had to climb up on the beams of our second story ceiling, what will eventually be an attic but doesn't yet have a floor, and clean out the old xmas boxses, toy train tracks, and nasty old insulation. It was foul. I wish I had had a better face mask, and you know the dust that was coming up must have been full of old housey fungus and crap. Yuck. 45+ years of nasty.
JerichoHill was trimming the plaster framing, so the ceilings are ready to go in without too much prep work. It was another thank-less job (but I thanked him!!) with plaster and plaster dust flying everywhere, in his eyes, hair, mouth, what-have-you. It looked just as uncomfortable as my job. Then I pulled nails from the ceiling beams as part of the continuing effort to clean up the ceiling.
During last week I did some extra work in the evenings. Pulled the rest of the nails from the second and first floor ceiling, got another old AC duct out of the space between the beams, and swept up the stairs and first floor carpet. The house was much more 'work-able' when I was finished. As a work space, the plaster was lying everywhere, and I can't imagine the subs who've been in the house have really enjoyed the environment. My BiL tells me that they usually try to keep the house in better condition, so the workmen aren't stumbling around on crap, but things just got out of hand for a bit. Sigh.
Then I did some weeding along my blackberry hedge. The plants are actually doing okay, and I've got berries!! A few are just starting to turn black now. Maybe I'll have a little snack tomorrow night or the next one. woo hoo. So there I am weeding, and there's something HUGE that's growing up right by one of my bushes. It looks like one of those giant milkweed plants that shoots up overnight, except the leaves are all wrong. The leaves look a little like my blackberries, but they are growing in leafletts of 5 instead of 3. My college botany memory told me that plants should have the same sort of leaf grow patterns, so I decided this was NOT a blackberry shoot. [Blackberries grow iin a 2 year cycle. In the first year the stalks grow and in the second year they fruit. The 2nd year stalks can be cut down after the fruiting season, and the new first year stalks will be in the process of coming up and can be encouraged to grow along your trellis or whatever] I pulled up the gi-ganto 'weed' and then noticed that similar weeds were coming up all around my blackberries. Damn IT!!! I'd just pulled a massive blackberry stalk, even though I tried really hard to determine if it was a blackberry or not, and which I might have noticed if I'd looked at the other plants after weeding and seen all the tiny blackberry stalks that were coming up elsewhere. THere were too many weeds hiding the other stalks and so I didn't see them till it was too late. Then I googled blackberries and learned that they actually grow different leaf patterns depending on the age of the stalk. Talk about confusing! 2nd year stalks will have 3 leaf-letts instead of 5. Sigh. At least blackberries are about the hardiest thing you can plant. I may have killed one stalk, but I'm sure the plant will send up more. One of my plants is in a pot, since I had to dig it up to make room for the construction equipment. Even that one is still fruiting along happily (and sending up new stalks) so I guess that the one I handicapped will do okay. BTW, did I mention that if I hadn't withdrawn from the class I would have failed college botany? Not that the material was that hard...just that the botany course was actually a secret Bio concentrators course even though it was labeled for NON-bio concentrators. The test was designed for a bio major, 50 fill in the blank questions and there was NO book to study from...it was the worst grade I ever got in college. Mama didn't raise no fool. I dropped that class like a hot potato. I still seethe about one test question: __________ imported the rhododendron from Brazil in ________. WTF? WE NEVER TALKED ABOUT RHODODENDRONS IN CLASS, AND IF WE DID, USUALLY TRIVIA LIKE THAT DOESN'T BELONG ON A FRICKEN TEST.
Anywhoo. After getting the inside of the house into ship shape, we set our sights on the outside. The wood that *had* been sitting in the front yard was now gone. We were able to have a relatively decent front yard, because there was no longer a need to store stuff there...more on this later. The back yard, however, was/is another kettle of fish entirely.
This weekend we spent saturday cleaning up the back yard. My backyard is currently a gravel lot. There was no room for the gravel fill delivery, except in the middle of the yard. So that's where it went. AFter most of the fill was shovelled into the gap between the foundation and the ground, the remainder was spread over the entire yard. THen a dumpster was shoved in on top. stephenjoseph took the side of the yard on the party wall, and he raked up *almost* all of the gravel, then went about cleaning up all the gradoo that had fallen along the property line and was visible to our new neighbors on the other side of the duplex. He did an excellent job, and that side of the yard looks great. Thankfully, most of the messy work is done so we should be able to keep it that way.
I spent a lot of time cleaning up the rockdust, gravel, roofing tiles, etc that had fallen on the other side of the dumpster. This side of the dumpster is the more accessible area from the house, so there was more junk besides just gravel. I had my snow shovel out as a dustpan, and I was raking all the crap into it, then carrying it up a ladder to drop in the dumpster. It was hard work on the back.
When that was finished, we tried cleaning up a little on the other side of the house, along the new basement stairwell. I also continued weeding along the outside of the fence and gradually decided just to give up on weeding and just assume the sedum was a lost cause. This side of the yard abuts an alley, and the garbage trucks are constantly overshooting the corner of the turn. Then they leave the pavement and drive on the verge of my yard, creating a rut and (over time) a hummock of raised dirt next to my fence. Now we're digging out this raised dirt, and I'm going to take some of the extra gravel that's sitting in my yard and create a packed gravel channel between my yard and the alley. Oh, I'm also going to dig out the no parking sign that should stand vertically, but leans over my yard after being pushed over by the trucks. That sign will get straightened in the hopes that the garbage trucks will be forced to take the corner better and avoid hitting it. So yesterday we started digging out this side and using it as fill dirt on top of the gravel by the house. The more fill we have, the less we have to buy.
Finally, saturday ended with a romantic trip to Lowe's. We bought fixtures for the bathroom sinks and showers, and 8 fence posts. Now that the front yard is clear, we can put up fencing to replace the chainlink we tore down. Then we went home and collapsed into bed.
Jeeze. Only now getting to Sunday.
Today started pretty well. Up before 8am, and discovered that Home Depot opens at 8am on Sundays!! It opens at 6am on all other days. Who knew? Probably all the other insane home do-it-yourselfers. Now we know. We hit Starbucks for a quick bite to eat and then into HD, to look at doors and get some twine. Doors were okay, twine was a success. At 9am we were at the house, prepping to dig post holes.
It took a while to map out where the holes should go, how exactly to get them lined up perpendicular to the house and on the RIGHT side of the property line. While I was being a perfectionist, JerichoHill tried to dig out the chainlink pole that was a remainder from the old fence. It was on the cornere and it got cut instead of pulled. It was painfully hard work. The old pole had been cut at the ground, and since then all of the dirt had been hard-packed by every trash and delivery truck cutting the corner of the alley and running over this spot. The post was secured in the ground by 2 giant nails (2 feet long) that were hammered into the ground at opposite diagonals and buckled to the post. Eventually he gave over digging that buckle contraption out over to me, and he began digging the post hole that I'd finally measured and placed. So I used my little garden trowell and shaved away at the hard packed clay, until the buckle was cleared enough to have a chain wrapped around and under it. We placed the first post on the corner, and started digging the next one out. Then a kind neighbor passed by and offered us the loan of her post hole digger, so we could both dig at the same time. This definitely sped things up, and we soon had 2 holes going into the ground. Then I accidentally slammed the digger into my head somehow.
I don't know how, it just happened! but it hit me right along the eye and the bone above my eye socket. I had sudden visions (no really, I closed my eye and saw nothing) of when a friend got slammed in the eye with a tennis ball and had terrible bruising and required medical attention. I was afraid I was in big trouble. We ran to my sister's house and I calmed a bit, put some crushed ice in a ziplock onto my forehead and decided maybe I didn't really hit my eye, just the bone. [No, I really hit my eye, it's slightly bruised, but it's no worse than maybe if someone had punched me in the eye. Not as bad as getting a tennis ball slammed directly into it with all the opponent's force at point blank range.] My eye wasn't hurting too much so after a bit I felt good enough to go back outside. We kept digging posts, but I didn't dig so much as be there to level and align the post as it went in. Luckily, I had nearly finished my hole, so we got 2 more posts in for the day.
Finally, we ended back where we started, with the old chainlink post. By this time both of us had rose thorn injuries, toes had been stubbed, ankles and tired backs were at the limits of their endurance. We tried chaining the post and ripping it out with my BiL's huge ass truck. No luck. Then we used the pick ax to dig it out some more and try again. Still no luck, but now the giant cross pins were almost popped out of the securing buckles.
This post MUST be removed. It's on the opposing corner of the yard and the only place we can put a new corner post to run down the other side of the yard.
JerichoHill went for lunch and I took a sledge hammer to the pins. Once I got them fully popped out, I started to pull the buckle up off the post, when I noticed that the post was freely turning in the hole. Just a short tug later, and I had 2 feet of post out of the way. But we still have 2 giant metal pins like this /\ sticking up in the hole. AFter considering ways to remove them, we measured and opted to hammer them back to and away from the center of the hole as much as possible. They aren't coming out. We'll just drill our new post hole between them and leave them under ground.
I am sooo tired. Tomorrow I'll probably work more on that gravel channel that needs filling on the alley side and shift more of the fill dirt.
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