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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Big Changes on the Wild Geezer Ranch

Since my last post our homeowner's hangover has definitely improved, not the least for the addition of professionals to counter our own "Abbott and Costello" incompetence. The well pump guys finally showed up and within minutes had ascertained the problem and replaced the "Psi switch," whatever that is. It seems ants had gotten in there and fouled up the wiring. $140 later and water was once again flowing properly.

Ken Speck in the trees
Next we welcomed the team of lumberjacks and weed-whackers from Speck and Sons Tree Service. What a great job they did! With dad Ken Speck climbing up trees and lopping off huge top sections, scuttling down a few yards and whacking off another big section, the 40-foot, fire-prone Digger Pines were soon on the ground where sons Jake and Matt chopped the big lengths into 16" rounds ready to be split for firewood. Although we don't burn resin-rich pine in our wood stove because of creosote deposits in the chimney, our neighbor Butch - himself something of a lumberjack - plans to split the pine and take it for his own wood needs. 

The big Digger Pine coming down
Jake hard at work
The Live Oaks Ken and his crew cut down we will keep as firewood for our next tenants. Hauling the small piles of cut oak from around the property and stacking it for seasoning made for another long, hot and exhausting morning for me and Layne. We miss our John Deere lawn tractor. Instead of motorized hauling, we had to resort to pulling the little red wagon loaded down with six to eight logs back and forth dozens of times.
Before: 2 large pines next to the storage barn...
After: Nothing but chopped wood!
Ken clowning around with a cut wedge
Two days of steady work by the Speck crew yielded a well-trimmed bunch of trees with firebreaks between them, weeds mowed down to about 100 feet from the house and all the smaller branches chipped and hauled away. Although it cost a bit, when compared to the thought of our house burning down, it was a bargain.

Now we're in the midst of another major project: replacing kitchen, dining room and entryway flooring with ceramic tiles. After we had made plans and put down a deposit on linoleum for the kitchen and dining room only, our contractor friend Michael returned from a distant job that had kept him out of cell phone range and was horrified to learn what we were paying for the flooring. 
Grey tiles, white linoleum, beige carpet
For the same amount he said he could install long-lasting ceramic tile not only in the kitchen and dining area but in the foyer as well. The idea was very attractive to us since the foyer was covered in grey tiles, the floor of the dining room in white linoleum and the living room adjacent to it in beige carpet, giving the large space a chopped up feeling. With tiles throughout it will have a "great room" feel that will be much more attractive. So we canceled our linoleum order, paying a hefty re-stocking fee, but we are convinced that the tile is a much better option. Progress so far confirms that opinion. We are thrilled with how it is beginning to look.
Foyer tiles coming up - a dusty mess!
Yours Truly swinging the sledge hammer!

New tiles going in!

The new floor will likely not be finished until next Monday and even after that we face a number of other projects before we return to Costa Rica in just over two weeks. We will be replacing the dishwasher, the ceiling fan/light in our bedroom and running both water and electricity under the driveway to the horse pasture shelter. And those are just the jobs that Michael will do for us. For our part we still have numerous smaller tasks to accomplish in the few days left to us, plus packing and storing our goods. But it will all get done, no doubt, and we hope our new tenants appreciate the improvements.

Ruth, Elizabeth, Layne and Ralph
Meanwhile, we still find time to visit with friends like our good friend Elizabeth and her husband Ralph, who joined us for dinner this week at our friend Ruth's place in Auburn. Here at home, we relax at the end of the day and watch the hummingbirds devour the sugar water or the backyard birds clean out their feeder while we water the new tomato plants and petunias, which the deer then gobble down at night. Oh well, I guess the doe and her two fawns that we've seen around the pasture need the food more than we need the flowers!

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