Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Of course, the weather on Monday was warm, dry and eventually sunny. Of course, it was…

Jake and Carla were already up when my alarm went off at 5:30 AM. They were hustling, so I mostly stayed out of the way and got ready for work. Finally, we said our goodbyes and away they went, with one last wave.

I wish I had a good way to say thanks for everything.

In keeping with my mood, it was lonely at work, too. Michelle was still on vacation, but Vicky was off sick, too. Mike and Courtney were also missing.

I called Todd at Sunbelt to pick up the Bobcat and he asked how it went. I told him everything worked great, except for the ruts in the lawn. He asked how many hours we put on the clock and I said I thought six. He said, well, then there was an easy fix. He put it on the schedule for a Wednesday pickup, in case I wanted to get some dirt and spread it in the ruts. Nice guy!

So, I called Angelo’s (another place recommended by co-workers) and took advantage of their sale: five yard of screened topsoil with no delivery charge (I’m within their seven mile radius limit).

They did have one weird requirement, though. If I wasn’t going to be home, I had to tape a letter on the front door, stating I gave them permission to drive on my driveway! There must have been a lawsuit in the past, I guess.
So, I went home at lunch (I was going to, anyway) and taped a note on the front door. I ate the last of the sesame chicken and pork fried rice. On the way back to work, I picked up two more gallons of diesel fuel.

I thought I’d give the ground a day to dry out, so when I got home, I completely ignored the Bobcat and the pile of dirt. My neighbor was out front, cutting his lawn. I wish I had a lawn to cut…

Sidebar: Five yards of dirt is not nearly as impressive as 24 yards of mulch. I doubt it will be enough to fill in all the ruts. But, anything is better than nothing, I suppose. Whatever ruts I don’t fill in, I had already decided to rototill the bulging edges to try and fix.

B___ called and we chatted for a while. He had called on Sunday, but didn’t stay on the phone long once he learned Jake and Carla were here.

I ate a big bowl of potato salad for dinner. My back really hurt (I always feel worse the second day after I overdo, for some reason), so I didn’t stay up late and was asleep before 10:00 PM.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Weekend Update (finally)

So, where did we leave off? Oh, yes, I had gotten almost home when I saw the truck that was dropping off the Bobcat. I pulled in the driveway, pushed the garage door opener button in the car and got the shock of my life!

Because, when the garage door opened up, there were Jake and Carla and Jake’s car, hiding in the garage! I was literally speechless (and that doesn’t happen to me a lot!) Then I immediately felt embarrassed, because I knew they had come up, thinking I was going to spread all that mulch by hand, since I had been coy and not said on the Blog I was going to get a Bobcat.

After exchanging hugs, I apologized. Jake said, “No, if you had said you were getting a Bobcat, I would have come sooner!” He had a lot of fun with the one I rented in St. Clair to widen the driveway, picking up his car with it and so on…

Anyway, they had been there a while, I was told, as was a surprised by the Bobcat arrival as much as I was by theirs.

Sidebar: Another source of my embarrassment was the fact that the house wasn’t cleaned, I hadn’t gone grocery shopping in a while (so there was no food or milk or much of anything to feed people with) and so on. Thank God I’d cleaned up all the liquor bottles and used condoms (that’s a joke and a sad joke at that…)

When things calmed down a bit, we went out for some dinner to (where else for Michigan transplants) a Coney Island.

Back home, we talked for a while and then got the office set up for the airbed. They were tired from driving and I was tired from my day and the evening’s excitement, so we all turned in early.

In the morning, we walked across the vacant lot next door to the restaurant and had a hearty breakfast. Then we came back and got to work.

I laid out the beginnings of my English Garden in the front yard. I say “beginnings” because I want to edge it with flat stones and make the path flagstone from the front of the garden to the rear gate. But, I won’t be able to afford that until next year.

So, for now, it was just landscape fabric and a lot of mulch. I noticed immediately that the Bobcat was chewing up my lawn (it steers by locking one wheel, not good on rain-soaked grass).

Carla guided Jake who was driving the Bobcat, while I was busy spreading the mulch he had dumped. Then Carla and Jake went into the back as I continued to work in the front.

Here’s where I should have thought this through a little better… A massive, heavy Bobcat (nothing like the one we used in St. Clair that just had a roll cage – this one had a cockpit with full glass, a windshield wiper, a heater and air conditioning, etc.) and a Spring rain-softened lawn spells problems. Just driving to and from the back yard was putting massive ruts in my lawn (you can only get there by going one route, over and over).

Anyway, live and learn. If I had done this in high summer, when everything was dry, I suppose it wouldn’t be a problem.

I was going to cancel my dentist appointment, but they insisted I go. So, I did. I had a perfect checkup, which was nice.

When I got back, Carla was working in the front, spreading mulch on various gardens. I asked her where Jake was and she said, “Um, he got stuck…”

Sure enough, the damn thing was buried in the back! He had gotten into so softer dirt turning around from dumping loads in the far rear garden. They had tried everything with no results. So, I jumped in to help, but no luck. We picked it up with the bucket and stuck things under the wheels, dug out dirt and so on. Finally my neighbor and his buddy came over.

Since the rear of the Bobcat (which is the counterweight) was on the ground, he said we could never “dig” it out. So, he volunteered to pull it out with the van he uses for his construction business (9,000 pounds GVW and four-wheel drive). So, that’s what he did. He was worried about the chair snapping (so were we!) so he put some cut up motorcycle tires on it (which none of us understood). Then he slowly drove forward and Jake slowly drove the Bobcat forward and, by God, it came out!

We went back to work. Carla was busting her butt on mulching (at one point she was lying spread-eagled on top of some mulch in the wild garden, so she wouldn’t crush the tiny violets that were just starting to appear). I was spreading the huge amount of mulch Jake was dumping in the back garden. When we finally had everything done, I had Jake put the last two or three buckets on his old patio, so I can fill in any low spots if and when they appear.

Then I had Jake try and back-blade the ruts to fill them in but he started to get stuck again so we called it off. Only the new garden in the back of the house didn’t get mulched. But, since I just put it in last year, I wasn’t concerned. I have more than enough left over to top it off someday.

We were all too tired, sore and dirty to go out for dinner, so Jake and Carla (who needed to go to CVS anyway) went to the Chinese takeout place next to it and got dinner. We had egg rolls, pork fried rice and sesame chicken. The fried rice and chicken were excellent, but the egg rolls were a little too doughy.

We spent the rest of the evening playing Scrabble (I lost) and euchre (I lost). Then we went to bed. I read in bed while they tried to watch some TV on Hulu with my computer. And thus ended Saturday.

Sunday morning, we woke up to rain. And, it more or less stayed raining all damn day. They went out shopping for a bit and when they came home, they brought me food for dinner and my early Father’s Day gift: a new computer! Jake’s been saying I need one for several years now (It's 10 years old!!!). I have resisted, saying for the little I do, the one I have is fine. I think it was the Hulu problems that tipped the scales, LOL.

So, Jake spent the afternoon setting it up, copying my files, and so on. We talked about going out for lunch (as I said, I had no food in the house) but they had picked up some steaks and sweet corn for dinner later, so we settled on Jimmy John’s sandwiches. I found they don’t deliver this far, so Carla went and picked them up.

After we ate, Jake worked on the computer and Carla and I started making sides for the dinner. She made potato salad (I did help a little, I hard boiled the eggs, cut up the potatoes and put them on to cook, fine diced an onion, and got some fresh chives).

Then I finished my original plan for the croutons I made (and you have probably forgotten) I used six anchovies and a garlic clove that I mashed into a paste with the side of my knife. I put two egg yolks in the bowl with that and whisked it. Then, whisking constantly, I added two tablespoons of olive oil (just a drop at a time in the beginning) and then a half cup of vegetable oil. Carla added in some sea salt and black pepper for me (I was still whisking). I covered my Caesar salad dressing with cling wrap and stuck it in the fridge with the potato salad. Carla sorted, washed and dried some Romaine heart leaves for the salad.

Jake tried to use the outdoor grill for the steaks, even putting a half sheet pan on top to keep the rain off. We roasted the sweet corn in the oven, though. But, as Carla eventually pointed out, the steaks weren’t grilling, they were steaming. So, we moved them inside and Carla broiled them in the oven.

Even with multiple methods of cooking, she managed to get the steaks to a perfect medium rare. So, we assembled out plates and dug in. OMG! Everything was excellent! Jake raved about the Caesar salad (I always wanted to try and make the original recipe version), I thought the potato salad was fantastic and, as Carla pointed out, even though the sweet corn was from Florida, it still was sweet and tender and didn’t taste “old” like most out-of-state corn does this time of year.

I was too busy eating to pay attention to anybody else, but I know I ate until my buttons almost burst!

After we cleaned up, Jake explained the new computer to me. It has, like, a two or three version newer operating system (Windows 8 instead of my old Windows XP) and Office 2013. So, it took a while. Then we played one more game of Scrabble (I lost). We went to bed early, since they planned on leaving at 5:30 AM and I had to go to work.

Other than my torn up lawn, the weekend was an absolute success!
Making Ruts
Growing ruts
Where the Bobcat got stuck

Pile getting smaller
And smaller
Last bit left on Jake's patio

Bobcat loaded for rear
 Left side rear garden
Right side rear garden

Laying out out the new garden

Landscape fabric and piles of mulch

Jake adds more mulch

Next year's English garden

The Weekend Update

will have to wait until after work...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

“A man’s got to know his limitations”

Sidebar: That’s one of my favorite “Dirty Harry” quotes. Plus, it’s much easier to work into a conversation than, say, “Do you feel lucky, punk?”

Friday morning dawned clear and cold, but with no rain in sight. I don’t have any pumpkins, but there was frost on the mulch when I left the driveway for work. But, by the time 10:00 AM rolled around and I was outside walking, it was noticeably warming up.

I went home at lunch. I had to stop at CVS, so I popped in next door and got takeout chicken fried rice. The I went to O’Rielly’s Auto Parts and bought two two-gallon gas cans. I went home, treated the cats to snacks and then treated myself to an excellent lunch.

The afternoon passed slowly as Friday afternoons often do.

But, finally it was 5:00 PM and I headed home. I met the guy dropping off the Bobcat. You didn’t really think I was going to try and move all that mulch with a transfer shovel and a wheel barrow did you? A man’s got to know his limitations!

This weekend is going to be crazy with mucho mulch and a dentist appointment thrown in for good measure, so I’ll try and recap the weekend on Monday morning (sorry for the late post).

Friday, April 26, 2013

Living Room Wall - Before

Living Room Wall - After

Bedroom Photo

I Hit the Wall

Thursday started out sunny, but cold (31 degrees F., here). I went into the living room before leaving for work to check that the front door was dead-bolted (a morning ritual). I saw a big fat robin sitting on the front porch railing. He looked like he was shivering!

I walked outside in the morning, although it was kind of raw out there.

It started raining about 11:00 AM. I just went to the Time Out for lunch, rather than driving home in the rain. I had a cup of potato soup and an egg salad sandwich. Afterwards, I walked around in the Town Peddler and bought an old Minolta 35 mm camera for $19.95.

The rain was gone by 1:30 PM, so hopefully the Tiger’s game can be played.

When I got home, the sun was out and the wind was still brisk, making doing anything outside stupid.

So, after I watched the weather (the weekend still looks good for mulch spreading), fist I started the Wednesday night wash (a day late). Then I started back on the wall project. I have been laying them out on the living room rug to try and figure out positions, etc. Jake did offer to do it on the computer if I sent him the sizes, but that seemed like overkill. Try as I might, there was just no way to fit all five and the mirror on the wall in a pleasing manner.

Then it dawned on me (duh!) that four are colored photos on a farm and one is black and white and in a cemetery. So, the fifth one doesn’t really “go” with the other four.

But, I like that one, too. So, I started looking around the house for a spot it could hang. I ended up with it in my bedroom on the one bare wall. Somehow, a cemetery shot in my bedroom seemed both poetic and prophetic!

Needless to say, transferring the pattern on the floor to the actual wall took a tape measure, a pencil, hammer and nails and a whole lot of time. I did get it done and liked it, but once it was up, I realized the mirror was too high. But, it was late and I’ll change it some other time. See photos.

I warmed up that soup from Michelle’s husband (the Olive Garden knockoff). I never had it before, but it was excellent!

I had just finished that, watching the start of the Red Wings game when Jeremy called. He was one the way home from somewhere in Dearborn (I think he said). We talked for a long time about his recent and upcoming conferences, Riese and Joe, etc. We hung up as he neared his house, so we talked for a long time.

I watched the rest of the hockey game and and a taped DIY show, then went to bed