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Getting the House in Order

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I have a bunch of pictures and I am just going to go through them here and see if I can remember what they are about. There haven't been any major developments, but my mind has been in the details of things as of late. I'll try not to bore you too much as I pick my own brain here for a bit (it is my only therapy, after all).

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It was a long and dreary winter. We had so much rain that the road was closed for a good long while. This barricade is just past the Roadrunner. The road around the back side stayed in pretty decent shape, though.

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Once we got past the holiday season, Jason, Devon and I got together down at Bull Shooters. We enjoyed drinking and shooting pool. We talked about getting together to go dirtbike riding sometime after the ground dried up.

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Jason had a connection and got me some weed. It had been awhile and I enjoyed the distraction on my days off from the grueling night shifts at the warehouse. When Amazon let me go, I had a stash left and I burned through it for about three weeks straight. It helped me to distance myself from the predicament and it was kind of like having a friend to lean on. Once I ran out, I was actually glad to let the brain fog wear off.

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Speaking of weeds, I got plenty. This was mid-winter (January?). After a bone-dry summer, they gradually came up starting in November.

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The green actually looks pretty nice here. They stayed healthy all the way through the winter. Those at the corner of the house are more like thick bushes.

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As I started to regain my motivation, I began with some little fixes. I replaced that pre-amp cover plate on my guitar.

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These days I don't have many reasons to go anywhere. A trip to the grocery store will last me at least three weeks. So, when I went to head off to the store, I found that my battery was completely dead. It seemed like it should not have died that quick, but I think the alarm system must be the culprit. I kind of panicked thinking I was going to have to figure out how to get a battery back and forth from Walmart on my bicycle. Fortunately, I have a trickle charger and I let it run overnight. That did the trick.

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So, now I have a routine to keep the battery charged, keep the rats out, and keep the sun from prematurely wearing out the stuff under the hood. Keeping the hood low will also keep out the rain. The bucket is covering my air filter.

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This is what I really needed to get working on. The weeds are two to three feet high and I can't even walk down the driveway.

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I had been leaving the house through the upstairs porch. Now, even that is not easily passable.

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I started in on them with that little weed trimmer I have. It is not really up to the task, but I persisted. Some of this stuff has to be cut with pruning shears.

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I had to stop every 5 or 10 minutes to replace the line on the trimmer head with these precut pieces. It was a pain in the ass. I had no easy way to carry these precut pieces, so I made a holder that would fit about a dozen.

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This area in front of the porch is gnarly mess and those "reach out and touch you" cactus trunks have got to go.

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Looking better.

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This hawk is keenly interested. Either he is expecting me to flush something out or he does not approve of me clearing his hunting ground. After a closer look at this picture, I'm thinking there is actually two hawks there.

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Some good progress after a good amount of work. There's way too much to leave on the ground, so I have to haul it to a pile where I can leave it to decompose.

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As I started doing all the outside work, I realized I was not in the greatest physical shape. Some days I could barely get myself started and other days I would get going for an hour and then call it quits because I felt so crappy. I decided to try and eat healthier and started by adding some basic supplements that I could get cheaply at the grocery store.

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After I trimmed around all the buildings and pathways, I started noticing that all the trees had grown quite a bit as well.

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I noticed this cat wander up to the porch and it seemed to be looking for a bird or a mouse. Now that there are no tall weeds out there, the cat is at a clear disadvantage. I have not seen it again since then.

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Trees near the house are a tricky proposition. I prefer minimal pruning for the health of the tree, but you do have to be able to walk around them and they can't rub the house.

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I ended up cutting down this tree near the cooler. This will give more walking room and also allow the other trees to grow in better.

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This ironwood has been going down hill steadily since mom passed. These trees are known to come back to life after droughts end, but his one is clearly dead beyond recovery. I'll remove it at some point.

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These are good examples of over trimmed trees. I hate to cut them at all and they do struggle. So, I am as surgical about it as I can be.

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I whacked off one side of this tree that was constantly overhanging the driveway. The rest of it will come down at some future point. It is not in a good spot and it does not grow at all well. APS had already come and cut down the one that was close to the pole.

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Here is another ironwood that is completely dead. It is on the other side of the path from the one that guy from work (I forgot his name) had helped me clear a while back. These things are tough to cut, so it will also wait for some other time.

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The other ironwoods are doing very well. I don't think I have ever had to trim them before, but this one is now rubbing on the barn and impeding the path.

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This mesquite is the oldest and biggest on the property. The trimming over the years has not been kind to it. But, ya gotta do what you gotta do. Mother nature already knocked down a major limb in a wind storm. I had to do a bit of trimming to get it away from the garage and path.

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Here are a couple of examples of healthy young mesquite trees. They have never been trimmed (or watered) and they look beautiful (as long as they are not in anybody's way). Not even a single dead branch.

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As it started heating up, I gave my attention to cooler maintenance.

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This gap has been steadily growing over the years and at this point I decided to re-level it.

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I took some measurements and this is how much I need to lift it.

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The stand really needs to be replaced, but for this season I am going to make do. It was a little tricky working by myself.

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Now it is level and actually pretty stable. This will do for now.

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As I prepared to fire up the cooler for the summer, I found that the screen over the window I keep open was shot. In fact, just about every screen in the place is toast. I decided to round them all up and make a project out of it. It's something that has been needed done for quite a while.

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I figured out what I needed and got some stuff from Home Depot.

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Before I got started with that, I figured out that I also need to block some windows if I am going to be up and about in the house during the day. This first one I need to address was this sky light that glares at me when I am sitting at my computer around 11am. It was a bit of a chore to get this ladder up there, let me tell you.

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Climbing all the way up there is also a bit sketchy.

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I had a piece of foam core around and that worked very well.

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It also does not look too bad from the outside.

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This blind does not work and is always open. Not good for the late afternoons.

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Same with this one. Now that the vine is gone, the sun glares right in.

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So now, the project has expanded to screens and blinds. And there is a lot of windows. Getting started on some screens here.

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I don't have the budget to be buying any new blinds, so I am learning how these things work inside. This one has a broken plastic piece that cannot be replaced. Hmm.

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Here is one that I never need to open. So, I robbed the parts and then just rigged it so that it stays closed all the way.

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Now the kitchen blind is fully functional.

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I did the same for the upstairs window. I robbed the part from the right-hand side kitchen blind (that I never use because it is behind the microwave) and rigged that one to stay fully closed.

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This one works, but does not close fully. I just took it apart and rigged it to stay closed (no picture).

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These windows have no blinds, but they don't get direct sunlight and the view is nice. The glare can be a bit much, though.

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I used a thicker, shade screen material here. It cuts the glare quite nicely and does not spoil the view.

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So, I did a whole bunch of screens, including the three windows on the barn. I was actually amazed that I was able to find the screen frames for almost every window in the house (some were stored away in various places).

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This one was a mess. The window didn't operate and the screen was completely mangled. So, there was always a gap. When I got the screen out it was covered in rodent urine and I can see that the mice were getting in the house here. I took apart the opener and when the screen is out it is laying closed like this.

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It took some messing around, but I managed to get the screen frame straightened out and got the opener hardware functioning again. Now it fully closes with the new screen in place.

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I had the laundry room door closed with the light on (for some reason) and I noticed that the door is sagging. It used to stay open and now it slowly closes itself halfway. I'll need to fix this.

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The weight of this rack is probably the reason.

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I rehung the rack on the wall. Then I tweaked the door hinges with a couple wrenches to pull it back tight in the frame.

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I also rearranged the laundry room to be more functional and tidier.

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While I was at it, I added a stop for the door (since the jamb was never finished out).

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I had snagged these shade screen screens a while back when I did some demo work for someone (they were headed for the dump).

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When I saw them, I had a particular idea for using them. These two are the perfect size for the two upstairs corner windows (since the vines are down). However, there turns out to be two problems. One is that it is a problem getting that high up on any ladder on the outside of the house there. The other thing is that they are a thick shade screen that does not provide a clear view. I have another idea that I will pursue later for these.

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The other screen was intended to go here and I think it will work well since the view is not that important here. With this window and blind open all the time (while the cooler is running), the direct sunlight is a problem.

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It fits pretty well.

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And, it looks pretty decent.

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Here is another project I had been putting off for a very long time. I have had this phone cord laying on the ground and draped over the doorway for years. I decided to finally do something about it.

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I bought a longer cat 5 cable and some cable staples and ran it along the trim on the outside of the house form the telephone interface box.

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Then I just ran it down the wall and drilled a hole under the siding slat that was already broken.

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it came in the wall at a good spot.

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I cut a suitably sized hole in the drywall.

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I stole the phone jack from the kitchen and replaced it with a blank cover.

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Using a couple drywall anchors, I attached it over the hole. Of course, that all sounds easy enough, but you know how these things go. I ended up doing a lot of tracing and testing to finally get a signal to the internet modem.

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This downstairs porch light quit working. It is the only light on that side of the house, so it is kind of essential. I almost ordered a brand-new fixture, but I decided that there must be some parts around here that I can scalp to fix it.

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Sure enough, I found a sensor that I had removed from one of the garage lights. I got the porch light working again, but it is still finicky to get it to come on when you need it.

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So, on to the next project. And I might as well get them all done, eh? This one has always bugged me. It provides no light to the side of the house. And the way it was installed is kind of goofy.

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Then there is this light. It is rarely useful and don't you just love a light that waits for you to get right in front of it and then blinds you? I am taking this one down.

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Here is one I did not know even existed until I pulled the vines down. It could actually be useful if I could switch it on and off from inside. Alas, it has a sensor that points to god knows where. Hmm.

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So, I removed this one and sealed up the junction box. No big deal (I did have a plug for the opening laying around).

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The piece of emt I just removed was perfect for what I needed at this corner. Notice that I surface mounted it instead of putting it behind the trim board. Now I have light on the side of the house while I am walking down the driveway.

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I have no use for the sensor and electronics on this light, a simple on/off light will work better. So, I just took it apart and rewired it without the guts. It is a cool looking light and now it works great.

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Another little job I had left hanging for too long. But actually, the wait paid off. Since it sat for so long, the failed silicon dried out completely.

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I wiped it down again with some alcohol and I found that the dried yellow residue cleaned right off. I tested a dab of new silicone that I had purchased and it seemed to hold okay. So, I just glued it back up. Of course, this time I went to the trouble of removing the back of the cabinet to get the door off. That saved me the trouble of the awkward gluing setup (six in one, half dozen the other I guess).

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It's all good now.

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At this point I was looking to make some forward progress on more fun things. I cleaned out the garage and I went and got a fresh tank of welding gas. I wanted to get going on some welding and get the bike and quad running. But it is so hot and my motivation is not high.

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I put the bigger scope back on the pellet gun, thinking I would go out and do some target shooting, but I haven't yet.

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So, it was about mid-May and I was kind of feeling that what I really wanted was some people contact more than anything else. So, I called up Jason and we went and shot pool again. It was fun and I still would like to hang out more with him. Maybe do some dirt riding like we talked about? Who knows.

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More recently (the past few weeks) my attention has moved more and more to my physical fitness. I decided to go deeper into my efforts toward a healthy diet. So, I ate my food supply down to what you see here.

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My refrigerator is a clean slate.

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I pulled my last meal (canned potatoes and vegetables) out of the cupboard. After that, I went grocery shopping.

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I stocked up on produce and whole organic foods.

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I have been working on how to cook from scratch. There is definitely a learning curve for me there. So far so good, though. I also started taking hikes up the hill to get more exercise.

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To cap everything off, I decided to go see the Anthem fireworks. I have not gone to see fireworks for a long time (and now I have reminded myself why). But I needed a couple of things at the grocery store right near there, so I figured what the heck. I timed it so that I could park on the outskirts of the event and I walked close enough to get a decent view. My life is so exciting (and I have pictures to prove it). Then I picked up a couple groceries and went home.

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I was going to leave off there, but as I was working on finishing the update I took a break to go for my evening walk. I was on my way back and I heard a rattle snake going off like crazy about 20 yards away. I looked over to see this bobcat smacking at this bush with its paw. He saw me and started to retreat, so I walked on as I did not want his supper to get away.

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