Saturday, January 21. 2012
Should probably take more pictures. Definitely should figure out how to manage them better. But I have a few here that represent some everyday work around the house. This first one is a 12x8 shed I had built in the backyard. I've been moving more tools out to the garage, and in doing so the garage was getting cluttered, especially with lawn equipment that I wanted to move out. A shed seemed like the right solution. I've long fancied building something like that, so I spent several weeks researching shed designs. Bought three books on the subject, plus I have a lot of general construction books. Then when push came to shove, I found a company that could build something very much like what I wanted, and do it a little cheaper and a whole lot faster. So they put up the shed, but I figured the least I could do was to build the ramp up to the door -- the door was about 10 inches above ground level, since the whole thing was on skids. I wound up spending about half as much to get the lumber delivered as they would have charged. And it took weeks to build -- admittedly, mostly waiting for breaks in the cold weather. It's built out of decking planks on top of a frame built out of pressure-treated 2x4, 2x2, and 1x4 lumber, itself sitting on top of paving stones. Underneath that I spread out some "weed block" plastic, put some fiberglass edges on both sides, and dumped 100 lbs. of gravel on it (not really enough). The front edge rests on a slice of vinyl garage door trim, so none of the wood rests on the ground. Still need to do a little more work on the edge. (Still plan on painting the shed, too. At least I did get a coat of sealer down on the ramp.)
Second photo is another backyard project, which would have been visible in the first had it been done then. Here you see the detached garage off to the right of the top picture, and a bit of the driveway. When it rains, water drains to a low spot in the driveway about 4-5 feet out from the garage, and pools up unless it can flow off to the side. The previous owners dug a trench leading off to the left, then turning back a few feet away from the garage until it hit a low spot. I've redug that trench four times in the last decade -- often during heavy rains, which at least is nice in that you get instant gratification when it starts draining. However, the trenches always fill up, so I figured a better solution would be to install a catch basin and dig a French drain to route and absorb the water. The basin is a foot-cube plastic box positioned to pick up the runoff. We then dug a trench about 18-20 inches deep, lined it with gravel, and ran about 25 feet of 4-inch perforated plastic pipe from the basin. In the picture, you can see the basin and some of the pipe surrounded by gravel. Afterwards, I covered the gravel with "weed-block" permeable plastic sheet, and filled the dirt back in. (I say "I" but most of the work in digging and filling the ditch was done by Tom James, a friend who does landscape work for a living.) Haven't had any rain since we got it done, but this should work.
Third picture is a new CD case in our bedroom. This was actually the second stage of a less visible project. For years I had stacked four small CD cases on top of the dresser, which the weight was destroying. To salvage the dresser, I took it apart, glued and clamped the fraying top piece, and reinforced the top with metal brackets. But it didn't seem like a good idea to move the cases back, so I built something that could be attached to the wall. The CDs you see are the ones from the old units, so capacity is up (although it can easily be filled from current stocks). Messed up and made the left unit a bit too high -- the floor slopes down from the right wall, but I wound up misjudging it. I thought I'd try painting this unit instead of leaving the wood tone, and I've used this black paint on a number of projects, but white might have been a better choice. The decor is still pretty much what came with the house. That'll be another project some day.
Finally, fourth picture is a small dinner I made last night. I've had a duck in the freezer for quite some time. Saw a recipe in Paula Wolfert's The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen and figured it was worth a try. I slow-roasted the duck for 3.5 hours the night before, and made the base for the olive sauce. Last night all I had to do was to pop the duck under the broiler to crisp up the skin, and add the olives to the sauce. When I looked for some sort of veggie accompaniment, a "roasted root vegetables" recipe in Nancy Harmon Jenkins' The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook seemed like just the ticket. The recipe itself it complicated by beets and winter squash, which I'd just as soon do without. So I wound up with sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, a rutabaga, a couple parsnips, an onion, some leeks, garlic, herbs and olive oil, roasted in a hot oven for about an hour. A little parsley on top, and that was it.
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