Monday, August 26, 2013

So We've Been a Little Busy....

We didn't fall off the earth or anything; it's just been a little hectic around here with multiple projects going all at once, keeping me off the internet and outside mostly grubbing in the dirt.

Working on the neighbor's place. He's using a walker now and fell at least twice on the uneven patio blocks last winter. I decided to surprise him by leveling everything up and tying it all in to our blocks.

The ground goes every which way; trying to make everything match up.

Locking everything in around the neighbor's shed with concrete.

The patio blocks for the last four rows of blocks on our neighbor's side all stacked and waiting for me to get to it.

In addition to that, we finally got our siding put on and new, shiny white skirting. It really makes the trailer look like someplace someone would want to live.

Starting on the south side. The stuff goes up quick and as much as I dislike vinyl siding, I guess it looks pretty good.

Tricky part in the back; one big reason we hired this done.

The shed had to be rolled out then rolled back into place. It sounded hard, but actually went pretty smoothly.

We took a short break from projects over the weekend to pick up my niece and her husband at the Tampa airport, hang with them Friday evening, then drop them off Saturday at the port for their five-day cruise. It took all our collective willpower to not get on the ship with them.

Courtney and Joe

Getting to the port Saturday morning was a bit of an adventure. We'd been there before and we had found it simply by following signs; no AAA Triptik, no GPS, nothing. And no problem; we drove right up, parked, got on the ship. Easy. This time, however, was a problem. First, we were coming in from the hotel we spent Friday night at instead of I-4, so we picked up a AAA Triptik. Big mistake. The Triptik got us off the expressway one exit too early, but sometimes that turns out better. Not this time. The big issue was a little thing called Comic Con that was happening at the convention center. Our Triptik took us right past the front door. You would think people who do such things for a living would be aware of a major event in their city, but I guess that's expecting too much. But we got through that part without too much damage other than taking over half an hour to drive less than a mile. Then the Triptik just went off the rails. We never could find the turn it wanted us to make. After another wasted half hour circling around trying to find a non-existent road, we pulled out the GPS. And then another problem: We had no address, and the Port of Tampa wasn't pre-programmed in. Luckily, one of our passengers was able to dig up an address on their smart phone and off we went. The GPS took us down some fairly weird places, but we ended up right where we needed to be. Score one for the crazy lady in the box.

After we dropped off the lucky stiffs who were going on the cruise, we headed back out following our GPS. We made one turn and we knew exactly where we were from our last trip down. There was zero Comic Con traffic and we were on I-4 and headed home in a matter of minutes. We've been using AAA Triptiks for decades and have never had an issue with them before. I have no idea why we got so screwed up, but lesson learned. From now on, we don't leave the driveway without a physical address to plug into the GPS which will be the primary direction-giver with the Triptiks as a backup.

Oh, and because we didn't already have enough going on, I decided that while I was loading up scrap metal into the Durango, I would go ahead and ditch the old patio swing and the gazebo that were left here by our predecessors. The swing had no cushion and a new one would have cost over a hundred dollars. We found a swing for $150 at Lowes that we really liked, so we'll pick that up later this week after some of the other projects are done. The gazebo frame was in pretty bad shape and wasn't properly anchored, but the canvas was in good shape. We thought we could get a few years out of it, until a tree limb took out one side a couple weeks ago. So down that came today. I like the result; it really opens up a space that looked kinda junky. We'll plop the new swing out there along with a couple big planters full of plants and make it all purty.

OK, so still a little trashy. And all those patio blocks look like work.

Well, it looks like the siding guys are wrapping up for the day, so I should make sure they're all set.

And yes, the awnings now look even more hideous than before. We'll get to those after the rainy season.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Revisiting Old Themes

One of the things about having a blog that has been running more-or-less constantly for over nine years is that going back through the archives, I can see where I get stuck on a theme for a while, then drop it and get onto some other track for a while, lose interest, rinse and repeat. Some subjects get revisited from time to time, like education, which I never seem to get tired of bashing endlessly. If anyone pays attention to our reading list over there on the right, you would notice that I have been on that kick again, thanks to the Underground Grammarian. It's always fertile ground; the root of so many of our other problems. It's the "gift" that keeps on giving.

Anyway, that's not the theme I'm revisiting. Instead, evolution, a theme from way back in the dark ages, resurfaced in a completely unexpected place. In July, 2005, I finally came out publicly with something I had figured out several years earlier: the church denomination I had belonged to for nearly all my life was just flat out wrong. I went on for over a year about how evolutionary theory was right and young-earth creationism was not. Then I just stopped because, a) I got bored with it like I do with everything else; b) anything that could possibly be said on the subject has already been said (see here and here); and c) if logical arguments worked, no one would play Powerball, let alone drive the jackpot up to half a billion dollars twice in three months.

Then John Michael Greer had to go and write three brilliant posts as part of a larger discussion on the decline of the American empire:

The Quest for a Common Language
On the Far Side of Progress
Not Written in the Stars

If you read those and feel like you're jumping into the middle of a conversation, you are. JMG's current series started on February 15, 2012 with his post, The Nature of Empire. There's a mere 75 posts in the series running in the 2,000- to 2,500-word range, if you wish to get the full picture. (Seriously, if you have the time, it's worth doing.) Or you can wait for the book to come out. JMG's blog is his first rough draft of what becomes his published books. Or you can just read those three posts and live with the feeling that you're missing something. Or go play Candy Crush Saga.

The point is that those three posts have prodded me to look around at some old web sites and do some thinking about things I haven't thought about in a long time. I'm not sure that they will result in posts (other than this one) given that I doubt I could ever come close to JMG's level of writing, but don't be surprised if something crops up from time to time.

Other than that, nothing to really report. We're both down with some sort of summer crud that is stealing sleep and sapping energy. I was going to bang out some landscaping today, but instead ended up doing inside work and reading more books on how bad our schools suck. Maybe I'll get something accomplished tomorrow, but I wouldn't bet money on it.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Little Anniversary Trip

We decided to take a break from all things RV park and spend a few days over on the Gulf coast at Madeira Beach:

Not much to report other than three days of sitting by the pool, walking the beach, playing in the waves and catching up on a truck-load of reading.

Now it's back to reality: lawn needs mowing, gardens need weeding, grass needs trimming....


Thursday, August 01, 2013

More Yard Work

The rain has slacked off a bit, so I was able to get the rest of our first load of 100 patio blocks laid:

The siding guys are supposed to be here next week sometime, so that will put an end to my patio block laying until they get done. Just as well; messing with this has meant neglecting everything else for the last few weeks. Them being in my way will give me a chance to do some cleaning on other areas that really need it.

Well, dinner ain't gonna make itself.