Too Much Going On

It’s been a crazy week. I won’t go into the US political stuff — you probably know what I think without me writing a word — but that has been driving me crazy. Schools are back in session, and Covid is on the rise again, even here in BC. Then I noted the publication date for this post and that cast a pall over my thoughts. Finally, just this morning I saw a headline saying 500,000 people have had to evacuate in Oregon due to wildfire danger. Half a million people. Where will they all go, and how will that not cause a huge spike in Covid-19 cases? Not to mention the fact that the smoke will play havoc with everyone’s respiratory systems, making things even worse if they do get the disease.

There really is too much going on.

But I have a post to write, and a few — much less important — shareable things did happen.

First, Anne managed to finish the rework of the water feature in the backyard. Last week I shared some photos of the work in process. Here are a few more:

The first shows one of the four elbows (barely visible under the rock near the centre) inserted into the hose that carries the water back to the top of the falls. Those elbows were a huge wrestling match. I was pushing plastic, barb fittings into incredibly stiff plastic pipe. I soaped them up to make it easier, but it was still a huge pain and took forever.

And obviously Tinkerbelle had to “assist” with the job.

The final configuration has the falls shortened a bit to allow the dogs a better path behind them, the pond liner was replaced, the hose was hidden (thanks to the aforementioned elbows that let it be moved up against the rocks), and the whole thing tidied up a bit. Here’s a short video of the end result:

Apologies for the poor quality of that little exercise. It took far too many hours to put that together, and I actually gave up multiple times. In the end I know it still needs work, but I finally had to stop working on it. The video editing software readily available on my computer is ancient and full of bugs. A much newer version is available, but it cannot be installed on the version Linux I currently use. That’s another thing for the project list: upgrade Linux operating system. However, it turns out there is a major bug holding up the general availability of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS to those of us that want only to run LTS versions of the system. Maybe we’ll finally get that upgrade in another couple of weeks. Or not.

Anyway, it was interesting to put that together and upload it to YouTube (where it is unlisted, meaning you need the link to find it). Once I can finally get an OS update to happen and thus a new version of the video editing software, I might make more videos. I’d love to hear from you if that might be of interest. In particular I’d like to hear suggested topics. I have a couple of things in mind that I hope to get to eventually, but your ideas would be good too!

Our house mostly lacks eaves (which has all kinds of implications) but there is one along about half of the back of the house, near the patio. However, the area under this eave was filled with river rock. That meant you could not stand on it without breaking an ankle. It also caught every kind of wind blown debris known to man, making it both an eyesore and difficult to clean.

That has been remedied.

We found enough extra pavers in various places around the yard (including at least two in the water feature) to let me remove the river rock and put down pavers. This photo shows what I was dealing with:

On the very left side you see some of the leaf-laden river rock. Moving right you see some of the cement border used to keep the patio pavers in place, and to the right of that a gap where the cement has been removed and the gravel area levelled out to be ready for pavers. Finally, in the top right you can see two pavers I have already installed by the downspout, leaving only a tiny patch of river rock. As I say, that whole area was rocked in and unusable. It is something like 20 feet long by 1.5 feet wide, making it a substantial loss of space.

But the fix is now complete — except for putting sand between the pavers to help lock them into place — and here’s a view of the result:

This photo looks the other way (the downspout is off the right side of the image) and the newly installed pavers go all the way to the slatted wood step you see just past the glider and table. And thanks to that glider we can sit under the eave. There is even room to stand when it is raining. (What a crazy idea in Vancouver, eh?)

The leaves you see arrived with the same wind that is bringing us some wildfire smoke from south of the border, but they can be swept or blown out very easily now, so they are not the problem they would have been before this work was done.

We decided to go ahead with replacing the garage door. Here’s what it looks like now:

As you can see, it already looks like a roll-up door, which is what we’re going to replace it with: a metal, roll-up, door. We’ll be getting one painted black because there are black (or nearly black) accents elsewhere on the front of the house, and the new one will have a few small windows in it, but otherwise it will look very much the same from the outside.

From the inside, though, things will be wildly different.

That photo shows the interior of the garage and the back of the door. It has the typical tracks that go back just above head height, along with a chain driven door opener. By looking closely you can also tell it is not weather sealed. Beyond that, the opener basically doesn’t work, the tracks are rickety and probably due to fall down, and because the garage is small it is always in the way.

The new roll-up door will disappear into the area just above the door opening, and will mostly not project out into the garage. Once it is installed there will be much more space to work without banging into things, and (of course) it will not be falling apart.

That said, nothing is as easy as you want it to be, particularly in a house that is 60 years old. Look at this:

On the left side of the image (and the door, as viewed from the interior of the garage) the drywall and insulation have been removed. That’s to allow adding additional vertical 2x4 supports on the sides of the door opening where the roll-up door will be bolted down. The wire you see runs to an exterior light fixture over the door, and is right where the door housing will be bolted down.

That wire must be moved. I will have to cut it, pull it out, and add a couple of junction boxes to make the splices according to code. And those boxes must be well out of the way of the new door mechanism.

Thankfully the new door won’t be installed for about three weeks, so there is time to get that done, along with covering up the insulation just above the door.

That about wraps up the past week. There were a few other things that I spent time on, but I have no results to share just yet. Maybe next time.

Meanwhile please take care and stay safe!



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Jeff Powell

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.