Friday, September 30, 2011

To Do List Getting Shorter

This week, my focus has been working on the garage exterior. Four things to be done include:
   1.  Replace rotted fascia boards
   2.  Repair a couple of window sills
   3.  Pressure wash siding and trim
   4.  Paint trim

Removing the rotted fascia boards was pretty easy since there was not much there to remove.  Had to repair a couple of 2x6 joists ends that were also rotted. Here are before and after for the fascia boards.

100_0452  100_0459

Window Sill 1
Now the window sills took a bit more work. When we bought this house, we had Sheba (half Golden Retriever, half Sharpie). She was smart but had an attitude.  One day she was being her gnarly self and decided to chew on this window sill.

First step is to remove the window sill typically held in place with a few nails. In old window sills, you can see the nail heads. That made for easy removal.

Window Sill 2In this image, the window sill is on the left, a fresh piece cut from a 2x6 is ready for profiling.  That means, I have to make the rectangle cut look like a trapezoid on steroids. So, the cutting begins.

Window Sill 5Looks like same profile.  Old is on the right, new is on the left.  Now to take it outside and see if it fits. Yep. I’ve done this before.  It is much easier doing this with a table saw, however, it can be done with a circular saw.  The key to success is a sharp Freud Diablo blade.

Window Sill 6Looks OK to me. Next week the garage fix up continues.  Pressure washing to get rid of dead paint and clean  the junk off the siding, then a coat of paint on the trim will make the garage sparkle. Well maybe not sparkle, but at least it will look more presentable.

When my shop tools sell, I think I will cry. But comfort will come when I begin the new lifestyle.

Thanks for visiting.  More to follow.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Once upon a time, there was a tree growing right up next to the house.  Why would anyone plant a tree there is beyond me. Regardless, it was time for the tree to go. With the help of modern day tools and my young energetic son-in-law, the tree came down. (Sorry no before photos here.)

Stump2 A year later, all that remained was this ugly stump. When the tree was alive and growing, it pushed  into the concrete driveway to the point of cracking the it. That is no big thing since all driveways crack eventually.

Stump1 The stump could remain forever, however, it did not provide curb appeal in the side bed. From the street the stump was not so visible, but from the driveway it was an eye sore.  Our realtor suggested we clean out the side bed and just add mulch. At $2 per bag, that is a quick fix for curb appeal. The local Home Depot had their mulch on sale 5 bags for $10.  I had other places that needed mulch so I loaded the truck with 30 bags of mulch.

Back to the stump – after removing the dirt from around the stump, I gassed up my trusty Stihl MS170 14” chain saw, added bar oil, and fired up that beast.  This was not going to be an easy removal since there were actually two tree trunks that were joined at the root ball. Not fun!

Stump3About 2 1/2 hours later, this is what remained. See that black stuff in the photo, that is dirt. Guess what dirt does to a sharp chain saw cutting chain?  Think DULL. After dulling two chains. I was done for the day.  I was able to split the stump to reveal what was in the middle of it. Also the center was not dead yet.  It had more tree juice than a rare rib eye steak. Tree juice (sap) acts like glue when cutting with a dull chain saw. Since I am hot, tired, sweaty, and ripe, I decided to quit for the day. Besides, I’m retired now so nothing is urgent anymore.

Stump5I took the dull chains to the repair shop for sharpening, and they laughed.  I walked out with two brand new sharper than sharp chains for the remains of the stump. That Stihl is a work horse.  It huffed and puffed and almost got that stump out when the first chain said, “I’m done. Ain’t cutting anything else.” After changing to the second chain, the stump is no more. If you look close under the driveway, you will see tree roots. It is amazing what damage tree roots can do.

Stump6Here are the tools of the trade.  The trusty Stihl, complete with chain that slipped off at the end, steel wedge and maul for splitting logs, three pry bars, and one of two axes. I wonder if I will need any of these things when we move into the RV?

Stump7Well, the job is done. Stump is no more. Mulch is in place. Side bed looks much better. Actually looks very inviting and ready for planting. Next week, I tackle the other side of the driveway. Fortunately, there are no stumps, however there is a left over chunk of concrete from where a fence post once lived.  You really think I am going to pull that sucker out of the ground? Not gonna happen on my shift. Mulch covers stuff.

The only question that remains  - Do I tell the person who buys this house that there is a stump under the mulch? It is easy to find, just look for the first crack in the driveway 13’ 8” from the gate.  I’ll think about it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Going Live in 2012

Going live is a term that identifies when a transition from the old to the new will take place. For about a year now, we have been shouting about Going live in 2012. At first this was a target date for retirement. God had other plans and moved that up to March 2011 for me and December 2010 for Carol. Since retiring, we have purchased our new home on wheels and developed a plan to hit the road in 2012 -  thus our Go Live date of 2012 would be when we transition from living in a house to living in our RV.

To hit the target date, we needed to have a plan to do something with our house and we needed confirmed plans for what we are going to do in 2012.

For the house, we originally planned to have our daughter and grandson rent the house from us for a couple of years but then decided that was not a good idea because of typical home maintenance and utility expenses. We met with a realtor who felt our house would move quickly even in today's depressed housing market. So, with a task list in hand we began the process of fixing up the old place and are culling through years of stuff. Our two daughters will be taking what they want in the next 30 days and the rest will go away either by way of estate sale or give away. Yes that includes my 900 square foot wood shop. My brother is interested in some of the shop equipment so if you are interested, let me know by completing the Contact Us section of this blog.

For the work we will be doing in 2012, we have confirmed commitments through October.

Nomads LogoFrom Jan 9 through Feb 16, we will be working with NOMADS. This is a ministry of the United Methodist Church. Through this group, we will be working at two churches close to Corpus Christi.

Safe Harbor 2We will then take a trip to Maysville, North Carolina about 100 miles southeast of Raleigh, NC. We will be volunteering at Safe Harbor Farm during the month of March. They are a K-9 Rescue, Rehabilitation and Rehoming organization who follow Cesar Millan’s principles for rehabilitating animals. Working with the animals and working on the facilities seems like a good match for what we enjoy doing.

Then from April through October we will be volunteering at Windy Valley Llama Farms in Blue Ridge, GA.  This is a working farm about 100 miles north of Atlanta, GA where the owners breed and raise show quality Llamas. The owner said that while we work at the farm the llamas will find their way into our hearts and that our life will find a sense of peace that we  may have never experienced before. To me this sounds like the peace we’ve felt being at Live Oak Ranch, Carol’s brother’s place on the Guadalupe River just north of New Braunfels, TX.

You might wonder how we found these places.  About the middle of 2010 we were in the dreaming phase of our retirement planning.  As I searched the Internet for different opportunities, I began by asking God to show me what He wanted us to do in retirement.  When I shared Windy Valley Llama Farms with Carol in 2010, she said, “I wonder if they will need help when we get on the road.” As we were searching for cool places to work in 2012, God once again brought this place to me. I sent them an inquiry and received a reply. The owner told us that the couple who had committed for the April-October period was unable to come so that left an opening. I call that a divine appointment.

All I can say is God is good! We are excited about our Go Live in 2012. More to follow.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Family Reunion

Labor Day weekend is our traditional time for the big family reunion. We originally planed on meeting up at Potter’s Creek Park on Canyon Lake (a COE park). However due to the extended heat, we decided to gather at Live Oak Ranch. The ranch is currently up for sale so this may very well be the last time we will meet there.
Our reunion is a three day event filled with fun, relaxation, family, rejuvenation and fabulous fellowship.
The family elders arrived early on Friday and enjoyed a quiet meal at Zubie Doo’s. After that there would be over 30 people ranging from babies to seniors to senior elders at the ranch.DSC_1397
We split the work up so while some are fixing a meal, some are relaxing.
DSC_1401 DSC_1402
Then after a hardy breakfast there is plenty of time for splashing round the pool or just relaxing and catching up on the past year.

Labor Day Pool   Collage 2 
Some times the photographer has to find a way to squeeze into a photo.DSC_1488We took time to celebrate a 60th birthday for Donna from the Traill clan.  They will be living in their RV (Flipper) so there is no telling where they will be on her birthday in October.DSC_1457On Sunday we invited Johnny and Carol Kerr to join us for dinner.  We met then through RV-Dreams. They were staying at Bastrop State Park and made the drive to Canyon Lake.  We had a wonderful evening chatting about living on the road.  They asked lots of questions about gate guarding work that Tom/Donna were able to answer. Of course a group photo was appropriate so here are Johnny and Carol with us. Not sure where T & D were.DSC_1801On a sad note, when they returned to their RV at Bastrop State Park around 11PM, the rangers told them they had to evacuate the park because the out of control wild fires were about to take over.
Finally, the weekend is over and everyone went home. Carol and I along with Tom and Donna stayed a bit longer to wash sheets and towels as well as clean bathrooms and vacuum carpets.DSC_1802Next year there is no telling where we may be. So far we are talking with folks from Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina. Stay tuned – we will let you know.