Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Monkey Off My Back

Charlie's kennel time has been greatly reduced the past couple weeks as he earns his freedom more and more by messing in the house less and less. He's still not quite there but he's real close.

Neither Toby nor Allie have ever exhibited a dominance over one another but I do sense that Toby is feeling challenged by Charlie. In the past, if Toby ever growled at Charlie, Charlie would back down but lately he's been holding his ground and standing up to Toby. Tammy had to come between them last week as neither one was backing off. Last night they went at it again with Toby coming out on top; literally. He held Charlie down for a few moments when their tiff was over to make certain they both knew who was top dog.

Charlie doesn't appear to be taking any of this very seriously though as he shakes it off and continues pestering them both.

I took three days away from work this past week and used them to get a monkey off my back. My original thought was that I'd only need two days at the most for this project but it was deceptively more work than I planned on. I recently blogged about wanting to replace the edging around a couple trees along the side of our house. I can happily say that the job is now done.

My biggest mistake in the entire project was in not finding somebody who would dump four and a half yards of dirt in the street on the side of our house. I usually use Jackson Landscape for this sort of thing as they're just a couple miles away but they said they'd have to dump the dirt in our driveway because the city wouldn't allow them to dump it in the street. I wasn't too keen on having it left in my driveway as it's a bit of a haul by wheelbarrow to where I was doing the work in our yard. So, nine trips in my truck later and I had all the dirt I'd need.

The main reasons for redoing the edging is that there are several roots along the surface that have grown out beyond the edging making it difficult to mow around. My plan was to make something big enough to encompass the troublesome roots. Still, I had to deal with them. Rather than chop them out and risk killing off parts of the trees, I tried to leave them alone whenever I could and cut out sections of the edging so it could fit over the roots. It was tedious but my solution seemed to work well.

I've got a tool in my garage on loan from my mom that works great for removing sod. I have no idea how old it is but it's old enough that I've never seen one for sale anywhere and I've looked. It's better than any shovel at getting under sod and slicing through it. I don't have designs on any of my mother's possessions when she passes on (assuming she goes before me) but I would like to call dibs on this little guy. What time I lost hauling dirt between Jackson's and home I nearly made up for with the sod cutter.

I'm not a slow worker but between trips to the Gerten's Greenhouse and Jackson's it took me until the start of day three before I was ready for the landscape rock. This time I went with Friedges and they said they'd be happy to dump it in the street provided I come in and sign a waiver first letting them off the hook. No problem.

I set things up with Friedges the night before the delivery and asked them if they could put me on their schedule as early as possible the next morning. The guy behind the counter said he'd do his best.

I'm standing in line at McDonald's in Lakeville the next morning (Friday) across highway 50 from Friedges. The tall skinny kid filling orders behind the counter is telling some off color joke about Muslims to a coworker and basically doing a lousy job of keeping up. Nobody laughed. I've got a large decaf coffee with two cream and two sugars on order and I can see that all their decaf containers are empty with none brewing. About that time I get a call from the driver who's delivering my rock; he's on his way. I look out the window and I can see a dump truck departing Friedges and I'm sure it's my guy. I tell the kid behind the counter to skip my coffee because he still hasn't figured out that there's none brewing and I leave with the rest of my order and run out to my car to catch up with the driver. I told him I'd be there and I didn't want to keep him waiting.

I asked for four yards of rock but I'm pretty sure I could've gotten by with less. No worries. I figure if there's extra I can easily mix it with the other landscape rock we've got. Still, it's going to be a lot of rock to have to move one shovel at a time.

As I'm standing looking at the pile I notice that it's got a much lighter color than the 3/4" red limestone we've got around our other landscaping. Mark, my neighbor thinks that maybe it's just dust and once it washes off the real color will show through. Maybe. I check the receipt again to make sure I ordered the right stuff and I'm relieved to see that I did. I hosed a section down and sure enough it's red but I do think it's a lighter shade than what we've got. I'm wanting too much to get the project done to care enough to worry about it.

I spent the rest of the day steadily chipping away at the pile and finish the project in the late afternoon with a full yard more of rock than I needed. I was disappointed in myself for not doing a better job of estimating my needs because I just wanted to be done. I got busy and began distributing the left over rock to our other two islands in the backyard. I can't recall my back ever being so tired and sore when I finished. I'm glad I was able to quit when I did.

I put together some before and after photos. The first tree I worked on: before and after. Tree number two: before and after. A view of them both: before and after. It may not look like much but my back would beg to differ. I was hoping to grab a nice photo of the project in the sunshine this morning but rain moved in overnight and that was fine with me. We need it after posting the third driest May on record. I was also glad it held off for one more day or I'd have been out there in the rain and I don't think I'd have been singing.

Time to ride as soon as the rain clears.

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