Sunday, March 31, 2013

House Painting

We had this house built in November of 1988. Since then it has been painted four times, the last being about seven years ago.  It wasn't a very good paint job because he wasn't a professional painter, but he needed work and we thought, "What could go wrong? It's not exactly rocket science."  Well, it turns out that today's paint requires a fairly good understanding of the paint itself, the prep work, and the application technique.  And as with all painting jobs, it requires patience.  I meet none of the requirements to do the job myself so we contracted with a professional, 20-year experienced painter.  He started last Thursday, first by repairing some rotting wood and replacing some porch posts that needed replacing due to warping.

He returned to pressure wash the outside of the house, brick and all, with a mild solution of water and bleach.  We were not particularly satisfied with how the porch roof turned out so we did it again ourselves yesterday using a water/bleach solution fortified with JoMax, a chemical designed to not only kill mold, but greatly delay its return.  That's important here in Houston where mold is a major problem.  Anyway, it turned out great and will be ready for the painter after he finishes up the brushing, caulking, primer coat on new wood and anything else that needs doing before the paint can go on.

This should be the last paint job we have to do as we get closer and closer to the decision sell and move to a condo or something on a beach.  We've already put on a new roof, new energy efficient A/C, new energy saving windows, installed water-saving toilets, installed granite countertops, installed tile back-splash in the kitchen, upgraded the kitchen appliances, remodeled the master bath, built a garden plant stand, built a storage shed, installed a deep sink and counter behind the garage, installed lawn drainage lines, replaced 200' of privacy fencing, installed a hot water circulating system, installed new flooring throughout, installed windows and an A/C unit in our garage, installed a new motor and control panel for our 54 jet therapy spa, built a very large flagstone patio and covered porch area, installed award-winning landscaping, and built an outdoor kitchen that includes refrigerator, lighting and hot/cold water.  There are a few other things we've done that may appeal to a buyer when the time comes.

Maybe after this little, but expensive, adventure is through, we can begin to look for that magical place where we can live out our lives.  And who knows, with all that we've done here, we could already be there...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Salado Eggfest 2013 Was Great

Judy and I spent St. Patrick's Day Weekend in Salado, Texas at the third annual Salado Eggfest.  We were among long-time friends from the moment we arrived on Friday until we left on Sunday.  And we made new ones each day as the Salado Eggfest progressed from the Meet & Greet on Friday evening, through the Eggfest itself on Saturday, and the After Party on Saturday evening.

Yes, Sunday morning we were ready to return home, tired, sunburned and very happy we came.

We cooked some pork tenderloin and my infamous Magnum Loads for the Eggfest.  There were almost 50 other Cooks who turned out a very wide range of delicious food, some of which could have been created by professional chefs in professional kitchens.  But these were all done on the Big Green Egg under back yard conditions. 

Being St. Patrick's Day Weekend and the fact that Salado is one of the top spots in the state to host an annual Scottish Clan Gathering, Irish Green and Scottish Kilts were appropriate clothing for the day. 

I wore mine, along with my 'accessories' consisting of swords and daggers, and items to reflect both my Irish and Scottish ancestry, as well as my Texas connection. 

We had almost 400 attendees and all were smiling because all had a great time.  Here's the proof...

Next Eggfest: Athens, Texas in three weeks.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Total Gym

I used to be pretty strong.  But with growing older along with a host of difficult surgeries that made me a couch potato, I've resigned myself to accepting weakness and sore muscles and just general discomfort from being out of shape. 

Even putting on clothing and shoes has become a difficult problem because I'm so weak and stiff that I can hardly bend over without bracing myself.  Sleep is also difficult because my muscles and joints hurt constantly, and even more so when I lie down in bed.  The pain often wakes me up during the night and I end up sleeping in a chair.  Pills helped for a while but took a toll in other ways, so I cut them out.

I'm not one to visit fitness centers or walk the streets, so I dusted off the treadmill and tried it for a few days.  But the belt was worn, probably from sitting idle more so than being used, and finally broke.  I ordered and installed a replacement belt but the period between deciding whether to sell or toss the treadmill altogether took awhile, and when I finally installed the new belt was enough to lose my momentum and will-power.

Totally frustrated, I started to think of what I could do to improve 'me.'  After considerable research I realized that the machine I enjoyed most and seemed to get the most out of at the Knee Replacement Rehab Facility, was the Total Gym.  I always got off it thinking I felt better and really put out some effort that immediately converted into atrength, self-satisfaction, and even confidence.

So I took a look at the Total Gym.  Yes, the one endorsed by Chuck Norris.  This one...


I didn't give much thought to 'where' I would actually use it but I knew I needed to use it.  The surprise came when we opened it up and set it up.  It was huge, much too large to put in my office by the treadmill, or anywhere else inside the house for that matter.  The dining room would handle it but we would have to move the dining room furniture around to accommodate it.  So until we figured out where to put it, we put it on the back porch temporarily until we could figure out a solution.

Meanwhile, we used it a few times and liked it a lot.  It immediately began to improve the strength in my legs, the most important part of me I was concerned about.  But I had to be very careful because I am still recovering from back surgery only five weeks ago.  So the setting I used was as low as it would go and I only did eight pushes using my legs.  That would be like squatting about half way down and standing back up without bending my back.  As little as it was, it felt good doing it.

Meanwhile, Judy decided to see if we could put it in the garage.  Well, that's easier said than done because it's a two-car garage and we have a car and a truck in it, along with large woodworking equipment that takes up substantial space, namely a Radial Arm Saw and a Table Saw, both of which I use frequently.

After considerable maneuvering of cars and saws (Judy did all the work) it became clear that the two saws had to go or we had to come up with an acceptable Plan B.  I needed the saws if I planned to continue making sawdust but I needed the exercise if I planned to live longer. 

I finally decided to look more closely at a folding table saw that could do the cuts of both saws.  So off to Home Depot we go.  Sure enough, they have a folding Ryobi that can do the job and fit in a much smaller area. 

But now what to do with the Radial Arm Saw and Table Saw. 

I listed them on Craig's List for $100 each or $150 for both, along with a number of accessories.  That was a good price and I expected to get a few calls on it. 

Meanwhile, Judy called our yard man to see if he knew anyone who wanted the saws.  He was here early the next morning and wanted both in spite of the fact that he knew nothing about how to use them.  He also wants to buy the large pop-up tent in the attic.  He'll be here Saturday to pay for them.  And what he pays me will just about pay for the new folding table saw.

That problem solved, we can now use the Total Gym in the air conditioned garage year round, summer and winter.  It folds up quickly and easily and hardly takes up any room between workouts. 

So another problem solved and in about three weeks I should get the OK to do my workouts without restrictions. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

My Avalanche Had An Expensive Problem

Let me start off by saying I love my 2002 Chevy Avalanche Z66 and have loved it since we drove it off the lot brand new.  Now it's going on twelve years old and even though it only has 90,000 miles on it, there are some little issues popping up.  For example, a $3000 transmission and a $300 upholstery repair last year.  And today, a $1300 fuel pump replacement and fuel filter and injector cleaning and something else I was told it needed.

It was not an expense we counted on after just buying the new Toyota Avalon Hybrid.  We thought the truck could just sit in the comfort of the garage until needed for a man-size job.  So I'll have to work it a bit more to pay for the new fuel pump.  That's okay.  It has and will serve me well for a long time.

It still looks good too.