Irons In The Fire
Been a while since I sat down and wrote one of these bad boys. Wanna guess how many updates I have since the last time we talked? It ain't a large number. 🤣
5 or 6 weeks ago I planted grass seed. That's where we left off, yes?
About 1 year ago, this is what I bought:
Fast forward to 5-6 weeks ago when I planted grass, the yard looked like this:
As of today, I have grass. Not as much as I wanted -- it's still a little clumpy -- but far more than I had previously.
It has taken a ridiculous amount of work and time to get to this point, so I'm not going to complain too much about the clumpy spots. Plus, I think the soil is garbage from years of neglect, invasive vegetation running wild, and literal cubic yards of buried masonry. It'll probably take another season or two to get the dirt to a condition that's hospitable to the things I'm trying to grow in it.
Anyhow...long story short, just watering this stuff took a lot of time; the yard's size and shape meant moving the sprinkler about 5 different times -- daily for 3 weeks -- to cover most of the grass seed, and even then I had to water a few spots by hand due to trees blocking the sprinkler. That was a time-consuming process. Add in the flowers that were planted next to the neighbor's house, and trying to keep the squirrels or whatever it is from digging up the potted plants...lots of time spent babysitting things that are trying to grow.
Also, I found another mouse in a trap. Had it been a basement trap, it wouldn't have bothered me a ton because there's still plenty of repointing to be done and mice don't need real big holes to ninja their way into something.
But this was on the main floor of the house, and that made the past 4 weeks an all-hands-on-deck repointing bonanza. I focused primarily on the eastern basement windows, since they had obviously holes under the sills and for whatever reason, the window openings seem to be -- by far -- in the worst shape of all the basement limestone.
I repointed this little section of wall from the ground up, but the area around the window required a complete rebuild. I still haven't finished it, and I don't take a ton of pics when I'm repointing because it's the same thing over and over and over and over again, but I did, at least, button up the holes like this one here:
I've since moved on to the rear wall of the house, which is a can of worms I didn't really plan on opening just yet.
I still have the bottom half to rake out, but I got this much cleaned out yesterday.
Side note: want to know how many times a mortar tub can be cleaned out in a bathtub before the trap gets clogged with sand? About 50. Know how I know? Because I did it. I knew it would happen sooner or later, but I don't really have any other options. It wouldn't have been that big of a deal -- just unscrew the trap assembly, clean things out, and reassemble, right? -- except the bathtub plumbing is stupid difficult to get to, thanks to the DIY work of whoever last redid this place. What a fiasco.
Why did I start tearing into this wall? Because Friday was a super shitty day at work and tearing old mortar out of this wall became my therapy.
That's another part of the lack of progress, my current work situation. A couple weeks ago there was a relatively unforeseen organizational shakeup and making a long story short, my (former) boss is no longer with the company. Neither is his (former) boss or one of my colleagues. I got 2 new bosses out of the blue, we lost almost 40% of the engineering group, and it's all been a bit of a fiasco. My workload, which was already close to maxed out, doubled without any warning. That's cut into my house-rehabbing time, and probably will for the foreseeable future, especially with construction season getting ramped up.
Then there's a little side project I've been dealing with off and on for the past 6 months, and it's easily the most challenging thing I've ever tried to build. What is it? This tiny little box:
I don't want to say too much about it, but it's 9" wide, 5" deep, and 4" tall with a curved lid. What's so challenging about it? To begin with, I don't really have any sort of shop setup and there are definitely zero work benches or tables, so there's a lot of work being done on small, less than ideal surfaces. Also, I've had to make tools and jigs that allow me to make the cuts and do the shaping that's required. Lastly, while I will never ever believe myself to be limited by the tools I have or don't have, reality stipulates that low-quality tools are more difficult to use than high-quality tools. Similarly, if a tool is literally incapable of doing what it's really supposed to -- like in my table saw that has a 1/16" dip in the center of the table that causes cuts to be a little wonky sometimes -- then extra work is required to compensate for a tool's shortcomings. There's still a ton left to do, but so far...it's gone well. Oh, and the wood species, I'm 95% sure, is chestnut, which is super rad because chestnut (I bought the stick this piece is being made from by accident; it was bundled in with a bunch of oak) is borderline impossible to find anymore due to a blight that was introduced to this country in the early 1900s and decimated the chestnut population.
What else...well, I do try to have some fun from time to time. It's golf season; I got out and played 18 last weekend. Didn't hit the ball particularly well, but it's hard not to have a good time @ Tapawingo. And there's the outdoor excursions with my partners in crime, Roscoe and Freckles; 4/18 we did West Tyson County Park:
5/1 we went back to West Tyson again -- we go there frequently -- and even though the Meramec River was a little swollen, the dogs still had a good time. Roscoe has always liked water, but just to lay in and drink; he doesn't/can't swim. Freckles, who is all of 1.5 years old, if there's water around...she gets her money's worth with zero hesitation.
5/8 we hit up Castlewood State Park, which we rarely do because it's usually packed and I prefer places where I can let the dogs go without leashes, but Freckles had never been there and we needed a change of scenery. We hiked the River Scene Trail, which Roscoe and I have done before but I forgot all about the stairs; there's about a billion wooden stairs that have to be climbed to get from the river portion to the bluff portion. Roscoe pulled it off but I felt bad, he's been doing this stuff regularly all 12 years of his life and his hips/legs don't do the things they once did easily.
The neat thing about the wooden stairs is that they run parallel to the old concrete stairs that once connected the Meramec River with the Castlewood Hotel and cabins nestled in the hills 100 years ago when the area was a bustling summer destination. Aside from a few building foundations that can be spotted if one knows where to look, they're all that remain.
Last weekend we made an effort to do a little walkin' on the Glencoe to Sherman trail but Miss Freckles was a little too excited. When she gets leashed, it's like she thinks she's leading a dog sled team. I wasn't in the mood for it so we went all of 100 yds before I called it quits and we went back home. Today we tried again, and she did much better. The river is still a little deep to go to "our spot" by the abandoned barge, but despite that, each dog got to do their thing in the water.
That's been the past month and a half...yard work, repointing limestone, building a little box, playing golf, and making sure the dogs get to have a little fun. Lots of irons in the fire.
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