Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gutters Finished!

I'm happy to report that Doug has finished installing the gutters.  He did a beautiful job on them and is now I'm sure feeling quite relieved to have finally finished something that he'd been putting off for a long time.  I am happy about the water no longer hitting and wearing out the porch roofs from the roof above, no more lack-of-gutter induced erosion around our house, and no more sprained ankles caused by these grass-covered areas of erosion for me!  And there won't be huge amounts of water pouring all over me and my bass whenever I go to or from my car during a rainstorm.  Not anymore.  Yaaay Doug!

Here are some photos of his excellent handiwork:

I think the house looks a little more finished now with the gutters on.  And now we'll be able to do some foundation planting too.

I like the way he's got the downspout from the gable gutter on the right heading directly into the porch gutter.  And the porch gutter's downspout goes into an underground pipe so there will be no erosion on that hill

Doug decided to use brackets to attach the gutters to the house instead of the big long screws that go across the gutter.  He thinks those are more prone to coming loose.  Hopefully ours will be less prone to coming loose because I think this was a lot more work.  But sturdy is good, especially with gutters.

He spent a lot of time relocating and declogging these pipes which come out on the other side of the driveway.  He installed these pipes under the driveway about 15 years ago and they just sat there in a state of neglect.  I'm glad they are finally being used for their intended purpose.

Now I'm actually looking forward to getting some rain so that we can enjoy the greatness of his gutters.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

our new crape myrtles are blooming!

We are so excited at how well our five crape myrtles are doing.  For a while we thought maybe they wouldn't bloom during the first year after we planted them (last fall).  But they are now in full bloom and they look extremely happy out there all along the front sidewalk.  Our crape myrtles are called "Muskogee" and they are supposed to grow into medium sized trees that will stop growing just before they get to the power lines.

We are ever so slightly disappointed at how pink they are - it seems like they were less pink and more purple when we bought them last fall.  They almost matched the front door.  I guess I'm just going to have to go for a blending of various shades of blue and purple now.  That will probably look better than the matchy-matchy effect anyway.   I wonder if our soil has slightly affected the crape myrtle color?  It makes a huge difference for hydrangeas.  I also wonder whether our new hydrangea will eventually switch over to being pink in its new location.  I guess we'll have to wait and see!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Ladder Rack

We are working on a bunch of different outdoor projects here in Foam Core Fantasyland and we've even managed to finish some of them, and almost finish some others.
  • The World's Biggest Tree Stump is long gone and tomorrow we will be covering the area with sod so it will be as if it had never been there.
  • We put weed fabric behind our new retaining wall and backfilled it with topsoil.  Tomorrow we will also top that soil with sod.
  • Doug has been working to find and de-clog the drain pipes he installed under the driveway about 15 years ago so that we can hook them up to the gutters and not have a lake in our driveway every time it rains.
  • I cleared out a space for the other hydrangea we bought on impulse about a week ago and it is now planted near the back door.  It looked pretty sad and wilted so Doug pruned it back quite a bit.
  • Doug built a ladder rack so the ladders will no longer be piled up in the dirt.  They look very tidy now and he also figured out a way to make rollers so they are much easier to put away.  And they can be locked so no one will be able to steal them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

gutter madness

The delightful flurry of activity continues, with Doug finally being in the mood to put gutters on our house after six long years of not having them.  However, the past two days' attempts to buy what we need so that we can finally have these gutters has been less than delightful.

Yesterday I drove all the way up to the Gaithersburg Roof Center to pick up some gutter hanging brackets and clips.  Doug had called ahead to make sure they had what we needed so I thought it would be a relatively short and simple errand.  Wrong.  For starters, somebody misinterpreted something Doug said so they had to look up the number of the proper part, which took just about forever.

Finally they said they had those in stock, so I paid for them, got my ticket and went out to the warehouse pickup area to get them.  The first guy came out, looked for them for about five minutes, came back, shrugged his shoulders, and said "We don't have them."  That's it.  The second guy was sure he'd be able to find them and spent a lot of time conducting a thorough search, but still came up empty-handed.

He escorted me back to the service center where I watched them all act is if  the fact that the inventory was showing something that the warehouse didn't have was the main area of concern.  After they finished discussing that highly improbable situation amongst themselves and got over their indignation at the realization that an error had occured, they finally realized that I was still standing there waiting patiently, apparently for nothing, and they said "Now we're going to have to credit this back to your card" like it was my fault that they had sold me something they didn't have in stock that I had driven all the way up there to buy, based on inaccurate information they'd given out over the phone.  There was not a single word of apology or regret over the situation.  The only impression I got about how they felt about it was that I had inconvenienced them in some way and that they were doubly annoyed because they had to deal with the existence of their own incompetence.

I didn't say anything - I've been in plenty of situations that have been far more challenging to my patience than this one was.  There are plenty of people out there who will not take responsibility for any errors and that lack of caring is what causes sloppy work to happen and also eliminates any perceived need to apologize for the sloppy work.  That kind of attitude makes it impossible for those kinds of people to be conscientious in any way.

So no apology for that mess.  I will give him credit for offering to call the other Roof Centers to see if they had what we needed in stock.  He found out that I could get the parts I needed if I went to two other stores, so I left feeling momentarily hopeful that I would be able to get this taken care of relatively quickly the next day.

Unfortunately Doug's phone calls this morning to the two individual stores to verify that they really did have what we needed resulted in us temporarily going back to square one because they actually didn't have everything after all.

So we decided to give up on the Roof Center and try our luck with Seamless Gutters.  They said they had everything we needed so I went on up to their store in Gaithersburg and bought the brackets and the clips and took them home, happy that there'd been such an easy solution to the previous day's frustrations.

No such luck.  They entered the order correctly but put 6" brackets in the box instead of the 5" ones we needed.  They weren't labeled in any way and although I looked to make sure they were the kind we needed, I did not notice that they were an inch too big.  The size difference is not noticeable when there are 40 of them piled inside a cardboard box, but they need to be the right size and they weren't.

After lunch I took them back and was full of hope that this would be an easy and simple exchange.  No such luck.  And of course they didn't have what we needed, and I again received a refund and no apology.  So that was two wasted trips to the Seamless Gutter place in one day.

I don't know what tomorrow has in store.  I have managed to maintain my usual veneer of calm over an undercurrent of mild annoyance at the huge amounts of my time that have been wasted.  The fact that I can take pride in my ability to remain calm in the face of rudeness and incompetence has kept me from losing it so far.  And I think any tendencies that I previously might have had to become frustrated in these kinds of situations have been severely dulled as a result of my experiences over the past six years.  It's either so constantly present that I don't even notice it, or I'm unable to feel it because what would be the point?  Or I'm now completely immune to frustration - who knows?  Maybe I'm just too tired to care.

Doug, on the other hand, is livid.  He plans to go up there and let them have it tomorrow.  I am worried that he will cause some sort of scene and they'll beat him up or have him thrown in jail.  He is very frustrated.   I don't know whether to accompany him in a show of support or not.  I don't like to see him acting the way he's going to act and sometimes my efforts to calm him down just make things worse.  So wish us luck!

Although my dealings with these people have been unsuccessful so far, I still believe that if you want people to help you, you've got to make sure they want to help you.  In other words, treat them with respect even if they don't deserve it.  Maybe that's my whole problem.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A New Wall

Our front porch area is starting to finally look rather civilized, between all the weeding  and us putting in the little retaining wall last week.  We even put our very first foundation plant - the lovely hydrangea you can see in the picture below.  Isn't it pretty?  I hope it likes it there.  And the wall is a perfect height for sitting.

I've started attacking the weeds next to the fence and have made some good progress.  It's going to take forever to get it completely under control after so many years of neglect.  I pruned those two azalea bushes to about half of their former size because vines had killed many of the branches.  That'll teach me.  Hopefully if I manage to get all of the weeds out and throw down some mulch it will be easier to deal with in the future.  All that liriope I planted had better hurry up and spread the way it is supposed to.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

no more giant tree stump!

I've been on a roll lately with getting things happening around here.  There's been an unexpected and completely delightful spirit of cooperation in the air that has caused many good things to happen recently.  Doug's brother came over with his chain saw the next day after we pulled down the stump and he chopped it into manageable pieces.  I was able to take about a third of it to the dump.  Doug put the rest of it out by the street, hoping someone would help themselves, and about an hour after I got home the rest of it disappeared.  So that was easy.

Also this week we've been building a wall near the front steps.  Between all the weeding of the liriope and this cute little wall, our front yard is starting to look pretty spiffy!

Monday, July 4, 2011

T I M B E R ! ! !

We have had a really ugly looking 20 foot tall Norway Spruce stump adorning our front yard for almost four years .  It has been irritating me every single time I've had to look at it, so that's been almost 2000 different times during the years since the electric company cut the top off of it.  Although I've mentioned it a few times, I'm apparently really really patient and I don't like to nag, so nothing has ever come of it - until today.

Every time I mentioned getting a chain saw and just cutting it down myself, Doug has said that I should wait because he wanted to pull it out of the ground so that there would be no tree stump. I'm not sure how this happened, but all of a sudden Doug responded to my most recent threat of chopping it down myself and today was the day we finally got it down. Doug did most of the work, but I sawed most of the tree roots so that it would come out of the ground easily.

Isn't it hideous?  I think it is a real eyesore.

At first Doug toyed with the notion of attaching it to his car and pulling it down that way.  Fortunately he changed his mind.  I guess he didn't want to end up in one of those Darwin Awards videos.

He decided instead to use his magic pulley.  This is the same pulley that Doug used to lift the all of the foam core panels up to build the roof of our house and that we later used to build the front section and the front porch.  This pulley has amazing powers!  It will lift or pull hundreds of pounds, maybe even a thousand.  He attached it to an unused concrete pier near our foundation at one end and to the top of the tree at the other end.

After the rope broke he used a chain around the trunk instead.

We also decided to cut most of the big outer roots with a Saws-All.

Now we're making some progress!

Watch it come down in this exciting video!

Yaaay!  It's down at last!  Now all we have to do is chop it up and take it to the dump.   And that WILL be happening tomorrow!  Yaay Doug!