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Archive for April, 2013

Reclaiming My Outdoors

SPEECH TO BE GIVEN MONDAY APRIL 29, MEETING THEME=GREENERY DAY (a Japanese holiday)

City Toasters, in honor of Greenery Day I am reclaiming my outdoor space.  Some of you may be thinking “is she up to that?”  The answer is “yes she is”.  It is not as complicated as you may think.  Today I am going to give you some background and tell you the three things that made this possible – free trade, good bones and follow-thru.

First for the background.  There are two decks on my 30 year old house.  Both the front deck and back deck have gone through expansions and rebuilds over the years.  The front deck, west facing, is the width of the house by 8 feet deep.  It has a 4ft rail and nice broad steps with a landing.  Ahead of the front deck is the well landscaped yard with green grass and hardscape of river rocks.  We have a yard service that whips this into shape and keeps it that way.  The back deck is large enough for a good size table and the deck is anchored by a covered gazebo housing a hot tub.  JB and I rebuilt this deck from the ground up.  We only intended to put on new surface boards but once the structure was revealed, we had to go all the way to dirt (good bones created by pressure treated wood, hurricane clips). This was 10 years ago.   Today we both look at it and are amazed that we did this.  The back yard has the same look with river rock around the perimeter, grass in the center and old growth fir trees.

 

Therein lays the problem.  Each winter the wind in the foothills whips through and de-limbs some of trees.  One might call that natures’ pruning.  Sometimes it is as simple as cleaning up dropped branches.  Some years the branches come down like spears thrown from the Gods destined to destroy all in their path.  Winter before last we lost our glass deck table to one of those spears.  The morning after the storm revealed tiny pieces of broken glass that blended in with the ice and snow on the deck.  The roof was intact but collects moss and fir needle debris over the years.

 

To the rescue, the guy next door with a pressure cleaner!!!  I did not see his cape but he was the superhero of this Spring.  Last Fall, JB gave him a very expensive chipper that we weren’t using.  He was so excited about this gift that to repay us he promised a roof cleaning once the weather improved (free trade, equip for work).  Any of you who live in neighbors with houses pretty close together can attest to the irritation brought on by the drone of the pressure washer.  It goes on and on and on until all the neighbors are gritting their teeth.  Turns out that when the project is yours, the noise is not nearly as irritating.  We have 4 separate roofs.  Swath by swath he swept each one until the moss lay all over both decks and the ground.  By the time he was done a day and a half later the piles of moss disappeared and the decks were restored to their former glory.  As a bonus the yard and deck furniture were cleaned of winter grime.  I drug out the very expensive tilting umbrella to see if it could be salvaged by the miracle pressure washer.  Success!  All surfaces have dried in the few days of nice warm weather we had this last week.

 

Now for the follow-thru – the cushions from Pier One have reappeared to bring a spot of color to the chairs.  Saturday the new table was assembled.  It turns out that buying a new table was cheaper than replacing the glass in the old one.  The new table is metal frame with tiles.  I am sure that those tiles could be speared too but as individual tiles, those can easily be replaced.  The next project is to plant the deck rail planters with bright colors.  Throughout the summer I will nurture those plantings until they blend together into a riot of color.  I am excited to spend the balance of Spring and Summer between the two reclaimed decks trading sun for shade and shade for sun.

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65 and Retired – all within 3 days

My birthday cake photo (3)

It was a great party at Greg and Kellie’s place.  My quilting buddy Jane came and so did Gregg (friend and work buddy) and his lovely wife Elaine.  Old friends (pardon me for that but we are over 60) Barbara, Pam as well as Paulette and George were there. Michael Bill and Breanne and Kellie’s family John, Delberta and Evie joined the celebration .  JB and I rounded out the crowd. Sadie the puppy made a few appearances.  The house was decorated with pictures of little Gwen and we played a game of trivia centered around the year I was born.  That game was full of surprises.  The food was great and the cards were very thoughtful and Greg and Kellie were wonderful hosts.  There were even well wishes from those who couldn’t make it (thanks Sandy and Karen, Garry, Heidi, Grayden, Hailoh and Griffyn).

Sunday dawned as Easter Sunday.  A nice relaxing day at  home with Greg, Kellie JB and leftovers.  A few chocolate Easter bunnies joined us.

Monday was the big day.  The last day at the City of Seattle.  While I was finishing up the desk cleaning process, my group was busy with last minute party prep.  When I walked in I was greated with hand-made flowers and a craft table for fabric signing (the living guestbook).  Thanks to Jane for organizing that.  What thoughtful things were written on the fabric for me to make into a quilt for myself. Many folks took the stage beside me and said some wonderful things.  I truly believe I will be missed. As soon as I complete the decompression that is the first few days of retirement, I will long for that mental stimulation that is work. I know I will be welcomed back when I make an appearance in the building for Toastmasters.

My first day as a retired lady was spent watching taped soap operas (don’t judge me, the cast of General Hospital has missed me) and a lovely massage in the afternoon.  Ezell himself cooked chicken dinner for us.  Today I single-handedly saved the world from a styrofoam invasion by locating the styrofoam recycling place only open during retirement hours.  I was happy to sacrifice a portion of my day until I learned that no styrofoam recycling can occur with labels or tape.  Each of the 30 small boxes from the book launch mugs had a label to be peeled.  Actually the label had to be peeled from both halves so make that 60.  What else do retired people have to do besides sit on the back of the car peeling labels, carefully transporting 4 peeled boxes at a time up metal steps with an audience of styrofoam recycle workers?

Deep breaths and copious amounts of patience will be my companions until this life settles in around me.Toes