Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I finally got the hearth poured under my gas fireplace so I thought I'd show ya'll a quick post on how I did the forms. It's fairly simple really. The top of the 2x4's are the permanent framing that will hold up the slab. That strip of darker plywood on the outside is the edge form that will drop down from under the concrete once it has cured. The whitish looking board is the side of the edge form that will drop off later also.
Here you may be able to see a little better. The bottom edge form is basically 2 pieces of 3/4" plywood screwed together at a right angle and then screwed to the framing. I wedged it in places to get the flat part level. After that was on I screwed the edge form on. All of these pieces were ripped to the correct widths so I could use the edges as grade. Am I explaining this right? Everything that was to come off later was also oiled so it would release easily.
I found a new mix for doing the slabs and counter tops and I am very pleased with it. It is one part Portland cement, 2 parts aggregate (89-10 in this case) and 3 parts sand. That seemed like a lot of sand to me but it works fine and finishes wonderfully.
I bent a #3 piece of rebar to go round the outer edge and then filled in the inside with some wire mesh and chicken wire. Whatever ya got just make sure to pull it up in the mix and not let it get trapped on the bottom.
I also used a clear silicone caulk to seal all the cracks because a fair amount of water is going to weep out of a slab. As you screed and trowel it down, some slurry will come over the edge so I put some old crappy towels down to catch my mess. Of course, it helps that I don't have finish floors down now to protect. I put a fan on this from both sides to kinda help the water evaporate. A pool will form on the top after you float the slab down flat and you don't want to start working it until that disappears or you'll just work the water back down into the concrete. As the water evaporates you can see the surface start to tighten up and then you can start with a slick trowel. One or two passes and then let it rest to tighten up a little more. And repeat until you get the surface you want. Well, it's harder than that but I can only explain to a point; it's something that you just have to see and try.
I have wrecked the edge form off at this point and am going to smooth the corners and seal it before too long. Hopefully. Then I can start running the slate tile!!! Yay!!
Jack and I also finished installing the pendant light in the kitchen and they look fantastic!! I'll show that soon.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Well, we got bitty chicks and flowers and such just bustin' out all over around here! It took the bitties about 2 days to get over their fear of the great unknown, once we started opening their hatch door, and venture outside but now they love it. Of course. They are so cute. Sorry for the blurry picture but getting those things to stand still is near impossible.
I was careful not to kill the ants this year so the peonies are in their full glory. I may have to add another color; these are really a wonderful flower. The irises have added a bunch more blooms this year too. May be time to divide these things.
I'm still building on the rock wall for this flower bed but am within about 6 feet of finishing it. I laid the rock in front of the badly deteriorating logs that did hold it up, so that gave me about another foot of space to fill in. I'm still working on that too and moving low growing plants to the front of the bed. I think it's coming together real nice.
The garden is finally coming together too. I have to plant a couple of watermelon today and then I believe it will all be finished. Well, it will if all the seeds come up! We are still continuing this very cool spring and so our nighttime temps have yet to reach above 60 F. I was talking to Daddy Rabbit last night and he said peas, corn, okra and such won't germinate until that happens. So, hopefully things will warm up a little more and soon. I also planted some popcorn and really am eager to see how that does. The tomato plants are just kinda sitting there also. They need some heat too and I need to get all that stuff mulched. I've got my path liners down but that was as far as I got yesterday. On the other hand, all the cool weather stuff I still have planted is doing real well. Lettuce, cabbage etc. and that crazy rhubarb are all growing well with no signs of bolting.
It appears that this will be a crap year for the figs however; hardly a bud on them anywhere. But the other fruits are looking good. In fact, this year may be the first really good strawberry year I've had. Looks like all that chicken poo is finally paying off.
My posting has been a little sparse lately because I've been working in Birmingham a little and will continue to through this next week. Just a little maintenance on a restoration project I did years ago. It's kinda nice to have a little change in routine though.
As you may have noticed I also added that crappin' word verification thing to the comments. I know many of ya'll hate that thing, and I don't like it either, but I started having way too many nasty spams get through the filters and actually post without me knowing it. So, I hate it, but that's the way it goes. If anybody knows of a spam filter I can add that would stop that stuff please let me know.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
This is actually an old photo from last year but the flower bed is not changed a whole lot this year; perhaps a bit more full. I suppose the same could be said of me on this anniversary of my birth. Although I try to resist the urge, birthdays always seem to find me a bit introspective and offer the perfect chance to beat up on myself a bit for not accomplishing what I think is enough. Why haven't I hiked the Grand Canyon yet?! Why haven't I finished the house yet?!! Why haven't I spent more time with my Mom?!! Why do I seem to have fewer friends every year?!!
And no, you don't have to tell me that I'm being ridiculous (I guess!). I've done a lot of things and been many places that a lot of people never get to see. Even to be able to "retire" at 45 and basically work as I please is a great accomplishment. I think it's mainly just the fact that I don't see a lot of the people anymore that I used to get to see. It makes you feel isolated. Makes me wonder if I even matter. Honestly...probably not, to more than a handful of people, but hey, that's life. I guess if I had really wanted things much different I would have found a way to have had a big family.
So, anyway...how did this turn into such a crappy, downer post?? Oh yeah,..my birthday. Today has been a nice day though. It has finally quit raining here and the sun has actually offered it's services. The chickens are very happy about all that. This evening Jack will take me out for some sushi and I think we are going to buy a few things to complete the kitchen, so that will all be fun! We have also completed a couple of projects on the house and I need to put that up for ya'll. So, life goes on.
Thursday, May 02, 2013
I though this iris was a lovely, new color. Reminds me of pink lemonade for some reason. Oddly enough, I don't ever remember planting anything this color and there are only 2 in a large mass of the common purple/ blue combo. I also have a couple of bunches of the pure white iris about 10-12 feet away. Could they spontaneously intermix?? I have no idea how that works.
Jack has been working very hard on clearing a bit more land down below the garden and chicken run. this is the area off to the right and you can kinda see where the grass stops, just to the right of the yellow iris blooms. This area was just a huge mass of privet, poison oak and other nasty vines. I should have cleared it long ago but just didn't get to it and it was growing up so it was crowding my 2 plum trees, plus just looking terribly unkempt. In the newly cleared area I might plant a nice Japanese maple or another fruit tree. Something that won't get too big. We still have some more clean up to do in this area though.
The cursed damned fire ants were eating the crap out of my rhubarb in the garden, so I moved 2 of them up to a big pot on the deck. (their gnawing is why these look kinda rough) This way might be better anyway as I can keep them shaded and cool much easier. I am determined to find a way to grow this stuff. I still have 2 others in the garden also, so we'll see.
And I finally put the finishing touches on the east end of the chicken coop. Unfortunately, the rest of the coop looks like hell, but I'm getting there. Yes, that horrid swatch of blue in the background will go away. I was also proud that I finally found a place to install that black planter basket on the left. I know I have carted that freaking thing around for 10 years or so and never really put it to good use. Well, I think it finally found a home.
Many other changes are going on in the garden now also. I've got about half of the crops planted and hope to get the other half in today. I'll post more about what I'm growing this year a little later.
I also finally poured the hearth slab in the house!! Yay!!! I used a new formula and was very pleased with how it came out. Well, I haven't wrecked the edge form yet so....I think I'm pleased with the formula. Ha! I'm sure it will come out fine. I was able to get a very nice, tight finish on the slab but I will also buff it with those diamond pads to finish it out. I'll post about all that also.
Well. Lots of work to get done today!
Sunday, April 28, 2013
I occasionally like to look over some of my blog stats out of curiosity for what some of the more popular posts are and I often find someone perusing some very old posts, seeing as how I've been blogging for over 7 years. ( it doesn't seem that long!) I like to look back at these old posts because I often see comments left by people who only came by a couple of times and I had forgotten about or who used to comment and now never do or just to see how far things have come here at my place. That helps greatly when I'm feeling like I haven't accomplished much or feel overwhelmed. When I brought up this particular old post, that last idea was really emphasized to me. I mean, Wow! It seems crazy that it is that easy to forget how things used to be.
I know the 2 photos are from 2 kinda different viewpoints but you get the idea. One thing that really amazes me is how much the trees have grown in those 7 years. It's hard to even see some of them in the first photo! And there are many that are not there anymore. I have culled out a number of them for one reason or another. Mostly because they were really damaged in one way or another or truly in the way of needing to build. Of course, I'm happy with the way things are; just wish they were a little further a long...
But, that is the way of life. Things keep changing. People move on. We ourselves, are the ones that move on sometimes. I awoke last night in a thunderstorm and in that craziness that is half-consciousness, my thoughts went directly to wondering if all this effort I've put into this house has been worth it. I don't know if I can ever answer that question really. Yes, I could have done a lot of other things with my time. Many, many people have told me I should have. Most all of them would have required me to stay in debt and servitude to an employer, in order to have somewhere to live. I could actually be further along on this house. But I would not have been able to travel as much and see so many things in the last few years, which I have enjoyed more than I can express. I could have built something extremely plain and put all this effort into a real art career. Maybe I should have. But then again....I enjoy the act of creating in and of itself. It doesn't really matter to me what it is. Sure, I'd like to be a well-known artist and I might one day. Or maybe I'll only ever be a person that gave a few people some ideas about how they could build something similar. Something unique, something they didn't have to borrow money for...something they did with their own hands.
And speaking of changing: My decision to publish the "About Us" page and it's contents apparently cost me a number of readers for some reason even though I thought it would be an improvement for the blog. For the life of me I can't figure what is offensive about it except that stating my environmental and social opinions there and in other posts may have put some people off. Well, that or I'm just boring as hell these days. I hate it but I will continue to write about what I feel is important and why I live the way I do, as I always have. I guess I'll be writing for the crickets but that's okay because it's a journal and a history for me if nothing else. Thank you to those few that continue to hang around.
Friday, April 26, 2013
So often times it truly is the littlest things. Supermarkets can keep those piles of boxed, tasteless replicated strawberries. I'll patiently wait on these jewels to ripen. Looks like it's going to be a bumper crop this year. If I can keep the birds off anyway.
Did you know that homegrown asparagus has a decidedly divine flavor? It's very tempting to just eat these straight out of the bed. Their bed that is, not mine....although that might be interesting too.
Little orbs of potential juicy goodness. I should have a 3rd bush producing this year so this brings me very close to blueberry self-sufficiency. We don't eat too many just straight but I do like to cook with them so that's why just 3 bushes can do for us.
I finally got my little Americaunas. You can just see the little puffy cheeks on the one standing in the back. Those little puffs will eventually become the "muff" or beard-like feathers so characteristic of this breed. I've wanted some for a long time but only plan on keeping 2 or 3. I'll sell the others to recoup the cost of getting and raising these.
Little baby things abound everywhere right now and Spring seems to be reveling in it's own warmth and glory. Wonderful warm days and cool nights just seem to stretch on and on. We've even had to run a fire the past 2 nights which is quite unusual for late April. Normally by now Spring would have been trampled underfoot by our relentless Summer heat and humidity barging in like some obnoxiously early guest flopping down at the unadorned table and helping itself to any cool beverages within arms' reach. But not this Spring. Maybe this year we'll actually get all the garden planted and the landscape groomed and prepared before the fire descends, at which time we can retire to the veranda and fan ourselves while munching cool, sweet strawberries. A girl can dream anyway.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
So, to continue along the line of posts that leave you at a loss for words, I give you now a giant, cast iron Butt. Oh, the possibilities for titles of this post were just mind boggling. Now, many of you know that all of my post titles are also song titles, so I started to go with the old hip-hop mantra, "Take Yo Big Azz Outside"; I mean, how apropos! But, I was afraid that might be a bit too much and went with the more sublime Sir Mix-a-lot classic, "Baby Got Back" and back he does have! I mean, look at that tush! He could crack pecans with those buns.
Now, just in case you are not sure what you are looking at, this is the back side of Birmingham's most famous resident, Vulcan. And no, this butt is not an editorial comment from me to you! I've been meaning to post about this little adventure Jack and I had back in February but, just had not gotten around to it until now. The website highlighted above gives you a very extensive history of Vulcan and all about the surrounding park, which I am proud to say, my former company completely renovated in 2002-03 and in which Vulcan was restored. I didn't get to work on that job, as I was involved in another restoration, and had never visited the park so Jack and I took a day to go see Sweet Cheeks. Seriously though, it is a very cool site and the accompanying museum is nice.
Vulcan was cast in 1904 (I believe) as Birmingham's entry into the St.Louis World Fair to highlight the city's rich steel and iron industry. He was designed and built by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti in 6 months! and is the largest cast iron statue in the whole world. They have an extensive exhibit inside the museum that shows just how Vulcan was built and it is very interesting.
The concrete structure (which my company built), that sits beside Vulcan's pedestal, is an elevator that takes you up to an observation platform. Or you can actually climb the old original stairs inside the pedestal. It was fairly cold and windy that day so we didn't stay up there long. It's a wonderful park in warm weather though. Vulcan sits atop Red Mountain so that adds considerably to his height, and the cold.
Here is my handsome husband trying to figure something out on his camera. Because of the location on Red Mountain it is also the site of 2 TV stations, which you may can see in the background. In his younger days, after the Marines, Jack worked for one of the stations here before moving on to larger stations in Atlanta and beyond.
This in the view from the observation platform of downtown Birmingham. If you enlarge the photo you may be able to see much of the UAB complex, one of the leading medical institutes of the country. Yes, I'm proud of Alabama. We have lots of good things here, big butts and all.
The view looking down, obviously. I thought the map was cool. If you don't like heights this may be a bit of a challenge. The platform that you stand on here is actually a stainless steel grate, so you can see straight down beneath your feet. I am quite used to heights from working construction for so many years but I must say, it did make me just a tad uneasy.!
I thought this was a pretty cool Louise Nevelson inspired sculpture. The guys told me that they uncovered a number of mining artifacts during the construction and many of these went into this and other exhibits in the museum. See, Vulcan actually sits above a large iron ore mine and many of the old tunnels and shafts are still there.
This is a lifesize replica of Vulcan's foot. You can tell Jack was just thrilled to be photographed with it. So, all in all it was a very interesting trip. We had fun and if you are ever in the Magic City I would suggest a visit to Mr. Vulcan. He'll be glad to see you.