Sunday, November 29, 2020

Front Yard part four

It's the morning after the night before, and the night before was Thanksgiving 2020. With that out of the way, and in light of the relatively low-key approach  Amy Sheep and I have taken to our projects recently, we were more than ready to get back to diggin' dirt and swingin' the sledgehammer. We had a serious need to get dirty and sweaty. In the yard.

First up was finishing the retaining in wall. Each course is set back ½ an inch from the previous layer, and attached with rebar stakes every two (2) feet or less.

Remember to wear your safety specs when pounding rebar or you might get some doins in your peepers.

All done - we'll be adding a decorative cap to the wall later:

For this part of the project I have been road testing the very comfortable and hard wearing gloves I received for my recent birthday. This is how they looked after a morning's worth of work:

With the retaining wall completed we went back to installing weed cloth on the lower section of the steps. As you can see from Amy Sheep's thermal clothing, the ambient temperature was hovering around 60 F/15 C in spite of the sun being out.

This is the finished look. Time fort cup o'tea; no wagon wheels this time though.

After tea on the lawn dirt-laden slope, we were ready to move onto the interesting bit - installing the redwood tread caps. As previously mentioned, we have been waiting a while to get hold of enough redwood to complete this part of the project. We started by constructing the ideal front piece, and then we used it to cut the others to the same dimensions.

Time for installation. We drilled pilot holes in one section, and then used it as a template so all the holes are in the same places on each board and all the screw heads are aligned. 

Moved on to the side pieces:

Lower section all done:

Mid-section also completed up to the retaining wall:

And the top section. We actually completed this on the same day, but by the time we were done it was too dark to take decent photos, so this picture was snapped the following morning.

We haven't quite figured out how the top step is going to meet the upper retaining wall and/or fence, so this little bit is unfinished for now:

We added the same redwood cap to the retaining wall. This bit was done the next day.

The stairs are starting to look like a professional project. I'm happy to report that this phase of the project has been a LOT more enjoyable.

The next "step" was to fill the stairs with Decomposed Granite (DG), which is in essence crushed stone. It is easy to compact and forms a solid pad. We picked up 10 cubic feet which was just about enough to fill the finished sections of the steps.

We'll be putting DG down on the walkways too, but first we have to install the irrigation. We get a flow rate in the range 7-8 Gallons per minute, so we are using ¾ inch diameter schedule 40 PVC pipe which will be buried about six inches down. I broke ground between the lower and middle raised beds.

This is later after I dug a twenty (20) foot trench and laid the first section of the pipe. The vertical section in the foreground will eventually be connected to the water supply.

The irrigation supplies all three beds, and each bed has an independent shut-off valve. I dry fitted the pipe together initially and the did all the glue-ups at the end.

The PVC cement leaves unsightly purple stains if you're not really careful.

This is the finished look after glue-up and installation of the pipe clamps.

The main line was duly buried six inches under, or thereabouts.

This is the overall look of the yard at the end of the Thanksgiving break. We still have to finish up the walkways and connect the irrigation. We'll also be installing a perimeter fence to keep out the predators that decimated last year's strawberry crop.

The area behind the retaining wall also need backfilling with dirt before we can install the DG, and the level of the dirt needs to be raised inside the planters and in several other locations.  Stay tooned to find out where all that dirt is going to come from!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Ton Up!

It's taken just over two years for this blog to reach its 100th post, and we've spent all of the last twenty minutes racking our brains on how to mark the occasion. Amy Sheep suggested buying a case of champagne and getting one of those huge cakes that strippers climb out of, but unfortunately we didn't have the budget available. Instead we came up with a compilation of what we've been up to* since the first Shelter-in-Place order at the end of March.  

Right at the beginning of March we took a trip up to Point Reyes Station. We took my parents here once when the weather was not as nice as it was on this day.

This was the same day Sam-Sam demonstrated his recently acquired love for oysters.....

....and Amy Sheep took up the air guitar:

About a week later Sam and I went to Val's in Hayward for our last pre-lockdown hamburger, although we didn't know this at the time. We actually used to go to Val's a lot when Sam and I lived at the Brown House, but this was our first visit in seven or eight years. We're waiting to see if Val's will survive the pandemic. It's one of my favorite burger joints, but it's also a bit of a trek from where we live now. I'll be sad if it closes for good.

The next thing we knew, Amy Sheep was working from home:

Since then we've been hanging out across the street at Joaquin Miller Park, chillin' in the backyard, and wearing our masks whenever we leave the house.

This is me on the deck proving I can still fit into a T-shirt I've owned since 1991

Sam acquired his new bike a week before....

...we went up to Tahoe River for a change of scene.

Soon after this he became a teenager!

It's been a terrible Summer for fires with smoke hanging in the air for weeks and weeks...

I took Amy Sheep into the city for her birthday dinner - the whole place was deserted 

This was September 9, 2020. It was dark all day and the sky had an eerie yellow glow - too much smoke for the sun to break through. Everywhere was deathly quiet all day.

We've been to the beach a gazillion times this summer - what else is there to do? This was Half Moon Bay at the end of October:

We've also had more power cuts than we want to remember. The outage at the end of October went on for three and a half days. We have our own generator now, but it is hardly ideal.

We went to Oakland Zoo on Hallowe'en. There was about ten percent of the usual amount of people there, so it was a good time to go.

One day in November Amy Sheep, Quinner, Sam and myself gave work a miss and went on the San Francisco self-guided sightseeing tour where you get to drive around the city on a motorized tricycle for a couple of hours. The city is dead right now and you'd see more tourists at a sewage treatment works in the outer Hebrides, so we had most of the roads to ourselves. 

A very happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading (or not reading) this. We sure enjoyed ours! Next time we see you, it will be back to the DIY!

(*DIY projects not included!)