When we purchased our home 11 years ago, the back yard was a barren wasteland. There was no plant life, only a pit of red clay. Many people have the luxury of planting their yards immediately after moving in. The mechanic and I did not have that luxury. We had major erosion problems. We live in a neighborhood where each neighbor’s yard sits progressively higher than the next. The yard to the right has rain runoff into our yard, and our yard erodes onto the property to the left of us. You get the picture. We kept putting topsoil dressing on our yard to only have it wash off into our “lower neighbor’s” yard. This is the solution that I came up with, which caused much moaning and groaning from the mechanic. I had just undergone some minor surgery and could not help lift the 50lbs bags for this project; however, I did dig the ditch.
It was a long, deep ditch too. I needed the bottom of the ditch to be level with my neighbor’s yard. Clay-type soil is often baked into a hard crust, and is difficult to break apart with a shovel.
I was extremely nervous. I was not positive that my “concrete retaining wall” idea would work, and the mechanic had just started putting the bags in. I did not let the anxiety show on my face.
We decided to place the first layer of concrete bags on their sides to help hold the loose soil. The mechanic loved it when I decided we needed two more rows of concrete bags placed on top of that bottom row.
Once all the bags were in place, I watered the wall daily for four days. I could hardly wait to rip the paper off of the concrete. I even got a bit impatient waiting on the top row to harden. I poked a hole large enough to fit the water hose nozzle in and filled each bag with water. Looking back, I should have been more patient. You can see the holes that were made in the concrete. If I do this again, I will continue to water all the bags daily, until they are all hard. The wall didn’t need to be pretty because it does not show. My planting beds are in front and the fence is behind it. RESULTS? We had torrential downpours since this wall went in, and we no longer lose topsoil in our neighbors yard. The retaining wall works! This makes me breathe a sigh of relief because I don’t have an issue with the mechanic.
I pull my flip flops from the closet and notice a dullness of the sequins that were once sparkly. I dust them off, scoot them on, and head out to my back yard. The sun feels good on my toes after winter’s end. All is well with my soul. The birds are screeching for me to fill the feeder with more seed. Two of them barely avoid flying into my face as they are busy fighting for their right to a mate. I notice the birds have been stealing sphagnum moss from a hanging Staghorn plant. They have left me a giant hole to fill. The bird bath is full of partially eaten worms, no doubt left there accidentally while they were getting a drink. One lone feather floats there too. I see that the birds have left their poop all over my swing that sits under a big oak tree. What a mess! I fill up the bird feeder with more seed, check. I drag out the water hose to wet a bucket of sphagnum moss. I need to replace the missing moss in my hanging planter, check. I wash out the bird bath and put in fresh water, check. Now my flip flop sequins are dirty again and I’ve spent too much time on these birds. I’m frustrated and a bit angry, especially about the poop. I think, THIS IS CRAZY! Why do I do this anyway? Then, I spot a loan nest in my crepe myrtle tree. It’s a tiny one left over from last year. I pull it down from the bare branches to inspect it closer; there were not any eggs. The nest fascinates me. I have a habit of emptying the contents of the vacuum cleaner outside and the prior owners of this nest used those contents for nesting materials. I notice tiny strands of silver and blonde hairs woven throughout the dry, grass structure. I examine it even closer and discover a pleasant surprise. It’s my hair! This is exciting! I even feel honored and privileged somehow. My hair cradled those baby birds that were there last year. I have a new treasure to keep. All is well with my soul again!
Yesterday, I was searching Google for a photograph that would inspire me enough to recreate it on canvas. Most of the time I use my own photos, but this time I was searching for bird photos. While looking at photos of chickens, I inadvertently came across a You-Tube video by Paul McCartney. The video is called “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”. I’m putting a link of the video so you can watch. I warn you. It’s graphic! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4TON3BxTxg Throughout the video, I watched all sorts of animal abuses that are performed at modern, factory farms. I had just finished my lunch and flossed my teeth to remove the sliver of pork steak that was wedged between them. As Paul McCartney narrated the video, I watched, in horror, abuses farm animals undergo. I kept thinking, are these abuses tolerated so that I can eat meat? I would describe some of the details of the video to you, but have a hard time writing them. Despite the sickening feeling swelling up in my stomach, I did continue to watch the video to completion; however, not without shedding tears and feeling like my lunch would literally haunt me. I’m already talking to my family about “going vegetarian” and if we could adjust to such extreme changes in our diet. I need to shed some pounds, the mechanic said he’d eat what I put in front of him, and my 19 year old daughter is apprehensive about B-12 deficiency. So, vegetarianism begins? Stay tuned.
Mr. Mechanic and I started by purchasing two 4-x-8 plywood sheets from Lowe’s. We needed to shiplap a 6×6 wall and one board would have left us two shiplap boards short. (Now I have extra boards for my next shiplap project.) The plywood we purchased is sized at 96 inches by 48 inches and cost $13.48 for each sheet. By cutting the plywood into 6 inch wide planks we knew that we could get 8 boards per plywood sheet! The nice folks at Lowe’s cut these boards into 6 inch wide strips for us! The plywood we chose is pre-primed and looks pink! Check out the plywood link to see exactly what we purchased. If you’re a military family like us, don’t forget to get your 10% military discount at Lowe’s.
We used a stud finder to find and mark our wall studs. I drew a pencil line from top to bottom where the studs were. We wanted to make sure that all of our nails would go into a stud.
Making sure that our plank was level, we nailed it to the studs. (the pencil marks for our studs was our guide to help us see where our studs were.) We used nails near the top and bottom of each board to help prevent any warping at a later time. We used a nail gun but you can nail it by hand too. At this point, I would finish painting the plank, making sure to fully paint the top edge of the plank too. Small seams will make it where the wall shows through. We made sure the seams that were showing were painted the same as the planks. To help achieve this, while painting my top edge and face of my planks, I also painted the wall above the plank about an inch.
We continue up the wall, attaching and painting as we went. When we got to the light fixture, Mr. Mechanic removed it.
Perfect fit; I do my happy dance!
Once all the planks were installed, we decided to finish off our edges of shiplap by installing some trim. We used inside corner wall panel molding that we purchased at Lowe’s, but you can really use any kind of molding that you like.
Note: see how I refinished these vinyl (Thermafoil) cabinets in this blog under “Thermafoil cabinet makeovers”
See all my scratches around the edges of the mirror? Ugghh, I felt so stupid and angry at myself. I knew this mirror would have to go to Over The Mountain Glass to be repaired because those bitty scratches would drive me crazy. This bargain of mine was going to cost me after all, and all because of my lack of foresight. Oh, I thought I was safe by covering my other mirror with tape. Remember mistake number 3? When I was sanding with the rotary sander I actually bumped the mirror BEYOND the tape. Both mirrors had to be replaced. This was a $130.oo mistake. By the way, the original mirrors were in almost perfect condition when I got them. JEEEZZE-O-Man was I sick!
I think I can make it so I'm constanly proving to myself that I can!