As I write this I’m sitting on an airplane next to the lovely Miss Debbie headed towards Las Vegas for a few days. So, this seemed like as good a time as any to catch up on what happened last week and this past weekend. Mind you, I didn’t spring for aircraft Wi-Fi connectivity so I really can’t check to see where I left off with last week’s update so you’ll excuse me if there’s not a clean tie back to that blog; hey, it happens.
Anyway, it was something of a short work week since Monday was a holiday and this past Friday was one of my work-from-home / down days. The three days I did have at work were still pretty busy, so while it was a short week it felt a lot longer than it really was.
Like a lot of new-to-retirement folks Debbie has found her days full and now wonders how she had time for work! She spent a lot of her time this past week with an on-going deep cleaning of the house, in part because the kids would be moving in for a few days while we were in Vegas. It turns out their new home had some type of a leak under the dishwasher that damaged their hardwood flooring in the kitchen. To fix it the builder had to tear out the damaged wood and then sand, stain and clear-coat the flooring which, as you’d guess, is not something you can do while trying to live there with three little girls. So, Debbie wanted to make sure all of the guest rooms, guest bath, our master and in general the rest of the house would be guest ready for the kids.
For me, I had “normal stuff” to attend to what has now become the mid-week lawn maintenance night on Wednesdays. Yes, with the new front yard and a lot of rain comes mowing twice a week.
We had a bit of a surprise on Thursday when our Landscapers showed up two-weeks early then last scheduled to till the backyard ahead of sod installation, now planned for some time on Friday. It was mostly a surprise only because they’d called on Tuesday to say that with all of the rain our project had been moved back two weeks to mid-June. So, we were quite surprised when they showed up unannounced and got to work on the yard.
Getting back to Debbie’s schedule, I didn’t even see her until nearly 9:00pm as she decided to go and watch our granddaughter Caroline (10) compete in one of the weekly swim meets. Caroline did really well, winning two of her individual events, placing second in another and also coming in second with the relay team.
Friday was all about working down a pretty long to-do list, including a few things that didn’t get worked down, like painting the upstairs hallway ceiling. Sadly, I just can’t seem to get excited about dragging all of the really tall ladders into the house to tackle the 20’ tall ceiling over the stairs. But, most of the other things on the list did get taken care of, so that was a good thing:
- More Repairs for the Tundra: First up on the list was heading down to 4 Wheel Parts to put some new upper control arms for the Toyota Tundra on order and schedule a date for installation. Regular readers will recall that I’ve attempted to do this a couple times: the first time the wrong parts came in and on the second we discovered it was really the lower ball joints that were shot already, after only about 30k miles. However, now the upper ball joints are definitely shot so we’re taking another run at the Camburg upper control arm kit. Sadly, the parts won’t be available for 3-4 weeks so it will be late June before I can get the truck repaired. Here’s hoping the old parts continue to hold out!
- This and That: After that I headed back towards the house, making a couple of stops along the way, e.g., gassing up the truck, filling the 5 gal gas can for the mower/edger and what not.
- Tandem Bicycle Repairs: Back at the house I decided to do a little work on our tandem bicycle’s left-hand shifter… the one that acted up last weekend. The esoteric details are covered in a separate blog entry over at The TandemGeek’s Blog but suffices to say I think I was able to address the root cause: an under-torqued bolt.
- Tandem Ride: It was close to 11:00am when we were both ready for our usual 25-mile tandem ride from the house. It was a good ride and the traffic around noon on a Friday was surprising light from 11:00am until noon. However, at noon we ran into a flurry of drivers in a hurry and that’s always a bit disconcerting.
- Red Eyed Mule for Lunch: When we arrived back at the house around 12:45 our plan to ride Blue over to The Red Eyed Mule for lunch was modified into a “Mark rides over to the Mule on Blue and brings back lunch.” Debbie had a 3:00pm appointment and wanted to relax a bit after the ride and then clean up before her appointment so the change in plans made sense. I was back at the house with our Jake’s Big Daddy by 1:30pm and the burger was just as good at home as it would have been over at the Mule.
- New Cordless Line Trimmer: When Debbie headed off for her 3:00pm appointment I headed off to run some of my own errands which included picking up a pair of cargo pants that actually fit for our Vegas trip and hiking around Hoover Dam as well as a cordless line trimmer for the yard maintenance. I’ve clearly been spoiled by the cordless hedge trimmer and blower I bought earlier this year and saw no reason to keep messing around with the gas-powered Ryobi line trimmer. Of course, it took two trips to the Home Depot to get a new trimmer because someone apparently bought one, used it and then brought it back all sealed up in the box and it ended up back on the shelf and that was the 1st one I took home: ugg! Anyway, the trimmer is great! What a joy to have instant off and off without jerking on a pull cord or dealing with gas cans, oil mixtures, etc. And, best of all, the new trimmer is compatible with all of the old trimmer’s attachments, i.e., tiller, blower, brush cutters, etc.
- About time for Loco’s: It was around 5:30pm when we headed off to Loco Willy’s for dinner, in part because we were told that the landscaping crew was still planning on coming out to the house to “blitz” the sod installation that evening. Quite frankly, I didn’t want to be around to watch that as I knew I’d be less than enamored with the blitz and there really wasn’t much I could do about it. I’d just deal with the final outcome and. Loco’s turned out to be a great night out with most of the usual suspects. Nuff said.
- Landscaping Blitz: Sure enough, when we arrived home around 10:00pm from Loco’s the sod was down and it was hard to tell that a crew had been there. I’d wait until the morning before giving it a good looking over in the light of day, but it actually looked really nice having that part of the yard sodded-over.
First order of business on Saturday was checking out the landscaping.
- Inspecting the Work: A couple things stood-out, the most noticeable of which was that I’d apparently under-estimated how much sod would be needed by about 50 square feet. I’d wrongly assumed Rich had double-checked how much material would be needed vs. my estimate so we’re waiting to see how that plays out: my guess is another upcharge for the additional sod installation, soil, etc. Amazingly, putting down 800 square feet of Zoysia is going to cost nearly 50% of what it cost to have 4,000 square feet of old sod removed and new Bermuda sod installed on the front yard. Something’s not right with that, but the Zoysia is a lot more expensive than Bermuda so what are you going to do when I had to be Zoysia? The other odd thing was the circle that had been left in the center of the new sod for a small ornamental tree (likely a Japanese maple) and other perennials and annuals. I made the mistake of free-handing it assuming they’d use a stick and string to put down the markings for the sod installation: nope! So, I had to come in after the fact and remark the circle and then trim and move some sod around to correct that. Lastly, given that the back yard was relatively flat, I was surprised at how bumpy the sod was, similar to the front yard.
- Installing Sprinkler Heads: Back when we had the backyard re-landscaped some 10 years ago or so, an in-ground irrigation system was installed. I swapped out several of the rotary heads for drip system manifolds since the rear corner of the yard would have no sod, just plants in pine straw and pine-bark covered beds. With the sod now covering that part of the yard I found I still had two of the old rotary heads and went about pulling out most of the drip line and tying back in the two sprinkler heads using a little farm boy engineering: success! The two heads provided perfect coverage for the new sod so it will get plenty of watering while we’re out of town.
- Finishing The Planting’s Circle: I was a little disappointed that the crew didn’t just till up the entire backyard, including the small circle that would be filled with plantings by us instead of sod by them. Oh well. On the bright side, it gave me a chance to see how the new cordless line trimmer worked with my old tiller attachment from the gas-powered Ryobi. Once again, what a joy to work with! Power-on/Power-off without having to pull start between clearing roots from the tiller head. And it has more than enough power and 40 minutes of battery life! With the circle tilled, it was off to Home Depot to pick up 20 bags of topsoil to go into my crop circle. It wasn’t until I was working out in the hot sun and humidity that I remembered why I prefer the other three seasons in Georgia! Hot, hot, hot….
- Debbie’s Day: Debbie was busy working through laundry and more house cleaning ahead of the kids visit while we’d be out of time. She also spent a bit of time figuring out what to pack for the trip to Vegas. The way the day was shaping up it didn’t seem like we’d be getting a tandem ride in, but that was OK too. Yesterday’s noontime ride in the summer heat and humidity took a lot out of us so a recovery day wasn’t a bad thing.
- High Plains: As I looked at my own wardrobe choices for Vegas the one thing that came to mind was that I’d definitely need to wear a hat while I was outside during the day. However, my old one-size-fits many straw western hat I picked up a few years ago at Bike Week in Daytona wasn’t going to cut it since I have to wear it with a bandana to get a proper fit. I also wanted to have a black western hat so that gave me the excuse I needed to go and check that box. Yeah, well… I over achieved. Instead of coming home with a new hat I came home with two: a black straw western hat as well as a black leather western, quasi-Aussie hat. The straw hat will go to Vegas and elsewhere, but I’m thinking the leather hat will become my go-to headwear when we’re out motorcycling, etc.
- Charlotte’s Ballet Recital: The big event for Saturday was Charlotte’s Ballet recital at 6:00pm. It was probably 5:00pm when we were both cleaned-up and dressed to go, hoping that if we arrived by 5:30 when the doors opened we’d be able to find the kids and have seats together at the theater where “no seat saving” is permitted: really?
Anyway, we found the kids and the ballet was really quite good. It’s been fun to watch all of the same kids we’ve seen over the past four years develop and grow, and of course our own little Charlotte has become a very accomplished ballerina… right up there with her gymnastics abilities. She danced in two of the vignettes: a classic ballet and a second, jazz number. Hard to believe she’s just 8-years old! She acts and looks more like a young lady than a little girl.
- Loco’s for Dinner at the Elegant Hour: We headed over to Loco’s after the show, which was just about 8:00pm. We had a nice time visiting with David & Deb and a few of the other usual suspects, but didn’t stay all that late as our long days were starting to catch up with us. Early nights are sometimes a good thing!
Sunday was all about final preparations before heading off to the airport at noon. I was up about an hour before Debbie and had most of our bags packed and ready to go. I was somewhat in a holding pattern on getting outside to cut the grass as I don’t like to fire-up the mower and other power equipment until 9:00am on weekends, so as not to disturb folks who are trying to sleep in. My challenge was getting the lawn cut before the incoming rain began to fall! Well, that didn’t happen. I was able to get the front yard cut with just a bit of a sprinkle falling, but it was a steady light rain as I worked on the backyard. But, I got it all done and that’s a good thing since it will have to go a week before I can get to again next Sunday.
With the yard work out of the way and pretty much everything ready to go for our trip I found myself with an extra 30 minutes and used that to give the Honda S2000’s convertible top a UV protective treatment followed by a hand wash to remove all of the overspray. I should note that we typically have the hard top on the S2000 all of the time, so the vinyl convertible top had not seen a lot of sun light over much of it’s life. That’s a good thing as the 13-year old top is still in great shape! Sadly, we’ll probably send her off to a friend of Wesley’s who owns a used car lot and can do the selling for us. So, our days with the little red car are numbered. She’s been a great car for Debbie but the Honda Accord has proven to be an even better and far more practical car so there’s really no point in holding on to it. We’re told the Honda S2000’s are going up in value but with the cost of insurance, registration, maintenance and storage I’m not sure we’d ever realize any of the growth in value so best to close the chapter on sports cars.
With all of our chores out of the way, we had the truck loaded and were on our way to the airport around noon. That is where the next installment will pick up.