Saturday, September 8, 2012

Building Fences

They say that good fences make good neighbours.  I don’t know about that.  What if the fence is of shoddy quality?

When I bought Alegria, I quickly became overwhelmed by the landscaping that needs to be done.  I have no idea how to landscape a yard!  None.   All I knew then was that I didn’t like what was here and I wanted to change it.  But every time I looked at the yard and tried to imagine it as I would like it to be, I was overcome and baffled.  Where does one start?  How does one proceed? 

The first six feet (of about 172) of fence
It occurred to me that a fence would help.  My thinking was this:  A fence would define the yard.  A defined yard would not be so daunting.  There would be a specific and delineated limit to what had to be done.

So I decided to build a fence. 

I’ve never built a fence before.  I had no idea how to build a fence.  I knew only that posts were required to anchor whatever ended up between them.  After that… Well, anything can happen!
Skill and finances were, of course, a consideration.  After researching different kinds of fences, I settled on an electrical conduit fence.  It was lovely and relatively easy to make.  Then I priced it out.  The conduit alone was nearly $4000.00.  Just a bit out of my league!  Sheesh.  I quickly reverted back to the KISS system and decided to keep it simple.  A plain old slat fence it is.

Okay, so that required tools I didn’t have last year.  So I contented myself with moving gravel out of the way so that I could, someday, when I had the tools, build the fence.

Shoveling gravel is not fun.  It’s hard and tedious work.  It’s one of those tasks that, when you reach the point of exhaustion and look back at what you’ve accomplished, you wither in depressed defeat, because it doesn’t look like you’ve done a damn thing.  Still, it has to be done.  (Really, it still has to be done!)

Tools started to show up.  As did free fence posts!  (My bestie and her partner just happened to have some spares kicking around.)  So did spring.  It was time to get at her and get her done.
Okay, so I have to factor the weather into this project.  Rain is not fun to work in.  Neither is extreme heat.  If I had to choose, though, I’d rather work in the rain.  But spring weather offered an excuse to put the project off and summer heat provided a reason.  Here and there, with the help of my daughter, I picked away at the fence.  Progress was slow.  The fence, like the gravel shoveling, was not making much headway.

Until last weekend!
Making progress!

I gave myself the proverbial kick in the ass that I needed and decided to make this thing happen.  I dug holes for 15 of the 22 posts that I needed for phase 1 and 2.  (The other seven were the result of the afore-mentioned picking away.)  That was fun!  When I wasn’t sawing through roots, I was hitting buried tires.  One hole took me an hour and a half to dig and saw through.  Most only took about 20 minutes.  Then there were the tires.  Needless to say, the fence line isn’t exactly perfectly straight.  (But I’m still within my property line!)  Tired, sore and satisfied, I finally got the posts in and was ready to make a fence out of them.

Clearly, this was a job for Super Bizz!  I called on my daughter to get me started.  She really should have been an engineer.  Having inherited her father’s uncanny ability to fathom spatial relationships and see the end product where most people see only a pile of parts, Bizz was instrumental in getting the actual fencing underway.   Within a very short time a fence began to emerge from that pile of parts. 

I’m happy to report that I have completed about 20 feet of fence!  There is about 44’ more to go on the south side and 108’ across the back.  (I haven’t measured the north side yet.  172 feet at a time is good for me.)  

I feel good about what I’ve done.  Not unlike my bookshelves, the fence would very likely not pass a fence inspection if one were to be required.  It’s a bit flimsy, but not as flimsy as some of the fences in town that I have shaken over the past couple of weeks.  It’s funny how acutely aware one becomes of existing things when one is working on a project like this.  I notice fences now.  And I shake them as I’m walking by to see how sturdy they are.   I just tell myself I’ve built in wind-resistance.  It sounds good.  And if someone were to crash through it, they would sustain less damage than say… a brick wall, for example.  In my 50 years on this planet, I’ve learned how to rationalize a lot of things.  It’s practically an art!

Anyway, tomorrow is another fencing day.  I get to use my cute little saw some more.  I’m actually getting quite good with it.  By the time I get around to cutting the new sub-floor for the spare room, I should be able to make fairly straight cuts.  (It’s a working theory.  And I’m sticking to it!)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Tool Time Wish List

My wish list is growing.  By leaps and bounds!  Or, perhaps more accurately, by volts and amps!  I’m developing a great love of power tools – not to mention a great love of using them.

My 3" circular saw.  It's not just cute;
it's amazing!
Rolling around in my head are plans for several things:  a bed frame, a writing desk, a TV stand, shelves and – most important! – a work bench!  But I need more tools.  My little collection consists of three hammers (not sure how that happened), a cordless drill, a 3” circular saw (bloody marvel, it is, too!), a palm sander and a smattering of pliers, screw drivers, ratchets and wrenches and sundry other bits and pieces.  I also have a level and a couple of tape measures.  And I adore all of them. 

I’m not terribly proficient with them.  Or maybe I am exactly that:  “terribly” proficient.  The joke around my house is that our construction company would be called Good Enough Contracting!  (My daughter’s etymology at work.)  Still I manage somehow to make things that function as they are intended – at least passably.  And it’s fun. 

Some months ago, my daughter convinced me to join Pinterest.  At first I thought it was a complete waste of time.  Now I’m somewhat addicted to it, pinning things like tools to my Tool Time Wish List whenever I come across some funky gizmo that I might employ creatively for the enhancement and embellishment of Alegria.   Whenever I find a tool that I want/need, I add it to Pinterest.

The fence by
Good Enough Construction!
I cannot enter the hardware store without taking a stroll down the tool aisle and making note of the cool implements of construction that are on display.  I shop for tools the same way I shop for cars:  by colour!  That pretty red circular saw would look great in my collection! (Might even come in handy, too.) 

Price is a secondary factor and when I find something that I might like, I check to see if it’s available there.  Amazon has amazing prices and free shipping.   So far, most of the tools that I want are Pinned from Amazon.

As my collection grows, so do the imaginary projects that they can be applied to.  I’m now just trying to figure out how I can make all the things I have in mind, knit all the things I want to knit, make my sand candles, write and take that herbology course I’ve been wanting to take.  Pretty sure that I won’t be able to do it all.  Sigh…

But, I can dream.  I can pick away at things.  There’s no rush for any of it. 

In the meantime, I will keep Pinning and collecting and learning and having fun.