Sunday, August 25, 2013


I woke up at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday. It was pleasantly cool in the bedroom, so I shrugged on my bathrobe and made a cup of coffee. I filled in the Blog entry and posted it. Then I went out, hooked up the oscillating sprinkler to the hose in front, and turned it on. I came back in, set the timer for an hour and made my breakfast of soft-boiled eggs.

When the timer went off, I went out, turned off the water and took the sprinkler in. But, I left the hose out front. I wanted to hose down the house and wash off all the dust and spider webs. Unfortunately, I needed to pick up the Windex wash bottles first.

So, I went back inside, shaved and showered. I got dressed and headed out for my Saturday morning errands.

First was the Post Office. Handy Park was quickly filling up again, but this time I know why: They have a free lunch on Saturday and Sunday during the summer for disadvantaged kids. Nice!

Then I went to Meijer’s for two pounds of ground chuck and some eggs. I made an impulse buy of four ears of Michigan sweetcorn for an amazing $2.00! Amazing because I can get eight ears of probably better corn at Westborn for $1.99. But, we’ll see. I did take my time picking out my four ears. I stuck the groceries in the big cooler that I put on the passenger seat (I do that for grocery shopping on hot days where I can’t go straight home).

Then it was Home Depot. BTW, the Mennards just opened up across the street and that’s all my friends at Home Depot talk about (they’re worried). I got all the wood I need for the front porch bench. I have had this planned since I was laid up with my spinal fusion and decided this week was the time.

Now, to be honest, the concept was not mine. I saw it in a wood working magazine two years ago. The guy had made it completely out of reclaimed barn wood. But, I don’t have any barn wood, nor a planer to run it through. I could buy barn wood and a planer, but that would take the cost of the bench upwards of $800.00! So, I decided to make it out of new wood that I will distress and use other tricks to make it “look” old. [Insert chuckle here] At least that’s the plan.

Speaking of plans, he didn’t post any, just a picture of his finished bench. So, the concept might be his, but the plan is mine.

I got all but about a foot of the wood inside the car and tied down the trunk (I thought the trailer would be overkill). I took it slow and made it home with all the wood intact. I unloaded it, then the groceries and other stuff I bought at Home Depot, then went inside to treat the cats.

Now, I was not planning on building the bench today, but I do need to get the sides joined with biscuits so they can dry overnight.

First, though, was washing down the house. I bought three of those bottles of Windex house spray I used so successfully up in St. Clair. So, I took the ornamental bird houses off the front porch rail, as well as the plaques, the arrow and the wreath. Those went into the garage, along with the porch rockers and little wicker table. I used the electric blower to get as much dust and spider webs off first. Since I had it out anyway, I blew all the debris off the driveway (covering myself in dust while I was at it – I might have to hose myself down as well!)

Then I started on the front with the Windex. Basically, you wet down a section of siding (windows and all) and then turn on the soap. You let the soap sit and work for at least 15 seconds and then rinse it off. Easey peasey, right? Yes, but it takes a while!

And, to be honest, this doesn't work nearly as well as a pressure washer. It doesn't touch mold, for example. But, I don't have a pressure washer, so I make myself feel better by telling myself it's probably "easier" on the siding. And the siding does sparkle afterwards!

I got the front of the house and the north side done then decided I was hungry. So I went inside and made a cucumber sandwich. That wasn’t quite enough, so I made another one. I had a cup of coffee for dessert while I rested up. Then I went back out and finished the job.

It took all three bottles and I must admit, when the second one was gone and I was still on the south side of the house, I thought I should have bought one more. But, the west side of the house is all low one story and I had just enough to finish.

Since I had the hose out anyway, I put the normal nozzle back on and watered the shed grass. Okay, that was enough watering for one day! Back inside, it was almost 4:00 p.m.

Sidebar: Even though I used a LOT of water to wash the house, there wasn’t all that much waste. Except for the inner front porch, the garage door and the patios, there are gardens under all the outer walls and they got the benefits of the water.

I cleaned off the birdhouses and the plaques and hung them back up. Now there was something interesting! I had thought that the one plaque with the birds was just another thing that Amy and Missy had bought when they remodeled Waconda for my Mother. But, I noticed today that there is an inscription on the back. It was dated 1997 and signed by Adela. I have no idea who that was!

I didn’t hang the Spring wreath (daffodils) back up, I replaced it with my Summer one. And I couldn’t put the rocker or the wicker table back as the indoor-outdoor carpeting was still soaked. Besides, I noticed the rocker had more problems, yet again (I’ve repaired that three times now and painted it twice). Looks like I have more work to do than just a bench.

I got the car keys and moved the car out to the driveway. I set up sawhorses and got out the circular saw. Since I was using 1 x 8’s, my compound miter saw was too small  to cut through them, so most of the cuts on this project will have to be done with the circular saw (sigh).

Another minor problem was I could no longer tape my plan to the wall, like I always do. So, I ended up taping it to the baker’s cart.

I had figured out the best way to cut the boards so that I ended up with the smallest amount of waste. So, by the time I had the six boards cut for the sides I wanted to work on today, I also had the eight boards that will make up the back. So, I stopped there.

I laid out each side according to both the end grain (you have to alternate that when biscuit joining to minimize warping when it dries) and the placement of the knots (just for appearance sake). I marked the spots every six inches (so four biscuits per joint) and got out the biscuit cutter. I did a test cut (you lose the settings each time you put it back in its case) and adjusted them until they were perfectly centered (only took three times, this time – I’m getting better, lol!). I made 32 cuts, stopping halfway through to empty the sawdust bag (the thing throws a lot of sawdust!)

Then I glued each edge, put in the biscuits and glued the hell out of them. The whole reason that joining wood this way works is that the glue-soaked biscuit swells in its slot and creates a strong bond, but it’s incredibly messy! Then I put on the bar clamps. Unfortunately, I have only two lightweight bar clamps long enough to work, so I used them on one of the sides and then the big pipe bar clamps on the other.

Another problem is that the pressure of the bar clamps will lift the end boards up. I learned this the hard way making that wood clock. If you are doing only one piece (like a table top) the standard procedure is to clamp them down to your work surface (like my sawhorses) and walk away while they dry overnight. But, I have two and only one set of sawhorses. So, I set them flat on the garage floor, laid a longer board on top them and weighed it down with paint cans. I didn’t put my stuff away (since I will be needing it tomorrow). I just got it out of the way enough that I could pull the car in for the night. Then I pulled the car in.

Switching gears (well, chores) I started working on the bike. I want to take the crankcase and transmission out as a unit, so I can get going on the frame. The bolts I identified and sprayed with penetrating oil came out easily (especially using the correct-sized wrenches and sockets). I put them in one of those scavenged plastic coffee can, after I added a splash of diesel fuel (left over from the Bobcat). I figure it will help soak the road grime off them.

But, I ran into several other bolts that also hold on the engine that I didn’t see the first time. You have to remember that I was standing the first time and I was laying down on the garage floor this time.

So, I sprayed them for next time. Instead, I removed the oil lines. It was NOT as easy as it sounds. The clamps loosened easy enough, but the old rubber lines wouldn’t budge. So, I got a block of wood and a rubber hammer and slowly tapped them off. I was finally rewarded with a splash of 30 year-old motor oil on the garage floor! So, I know the oil tank doesn't leak.

I realized how vulnerable the metal oil lines would be when I tried to slide the engine out, so I took off the oil pipe junction block. That, too, didn’t want to come off. I didn’t want to stick a flathead screwdriver in between it and the crankcase and damage the mating surfaces, so I keep wiggling it back and forth. Slowly but surely (mostly slowly) I worked it off. That went into another coffee can with diesel fuel. Note to Parts Procurement Department: I’ll need a new gasket for re-assembly.

I noticed I was losing the light, so I went inside to check the time (and to use the bathroom). It was almost 8:00 p.m., so I had totally blew my timeline for grilling. Oh well, its still supposed to be nice on Sunday. I’ll just grill tomorrow.

I washed my hands with dish detergent (Note to self: Pick up some hand cleaner at the auto parts store). Once I could touch things again, I made a cup of coffee and took a break. Then I took a shower.

So, I was clean and hungry. The only food in the fridge was for grilling. So, I ended up opening a can of Bush’s Baked Beans, heating them up and just eating them out of the pan.

It was another boring night for television, so I watched "The Hunt for Red October" on Netflix and then went to bed.


  1. Wow! Sounds like a lot to do in one day.

    "You have to remember that I was standing the first time and I was laying down on the garage floor this time."

    What happened to the bike lift?

  2. It was sitting there. I just didn't feel like messing with it since I was running out of time and wanted to at least get "something" done on the bike.