Friday, November 29, 2013

Fall Cleanup Continues At The Bamboo Lagoon

45 gallon yardwaste bin, big pile
Trees are pretty much done dropping their leaves now. I have done three different pickups of the leaves from the oak on the left side of our house. It is right over the walkway on that side so I tend to attack it in waves to try to keep that walkway and the little gully we have cleared.

Walkway and gully
Today, I also skimmed a bunch of leaves off the leaf net over the pool. I need to get it all emptied so I can pull it off before we get possible snow this week. I am still not completely sure how I am going to do that without getting soaked. I have to say it has worked well to keep the majority of the leaves off the bottom of the pool.

A couple of days ago, I raked up a lot of leaves off the front lawn too but still have more to go there. Filled up the bin that is going to be picked up on Monday but might be able to squeeze a bit more in...have to go through two more beds in front with the small bucket by hand because it is small scale stuff that the rakes won't work with.

Most of the front yard leaves go into the mulch bins because there are no acorns in the front yard leaves. I was able to put three trashcans full into the mulch bins, before putting the extra into the yardwaste bin.

Tomorrow hope to finish up the pool part (and will post separately on that), those small bits in the flower beds and then maybe move over to the backyard oak tree, which I haven't even started.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Project Done At The Bamboo Lagoon

Finally, finally, finally, I managed to finished up the big electrical project. All the switches, outlets, and plate covers have been replaced in the whole house. I still need

It was supposed to be done ages ago, and I am not sure why I stalled out on it when I only had a very little bit to go...I think it happened because the office part of it didn't work out the way I planned. I also knew that doing the garage was going to require turning off the power to the office and that means no Internet if I have to look something up.

So today, I flipped the breaker and got down to it. I carried all the necessary parts downstairs so I could finish up. So I replaced 2 two-way switches, 2 three-way
switches, and three switch plate covers. For the most part, they were pretty easy. Only one was using a larger gauge wire, so I did have to wire that one.

Oh, I guess I should mention that I decided to tackle this in the early evening, so I had to eventually put on my head lamp to see what the heck I was doing.

The walls are not looking all that great, but look at those clean, bright switches and covers!!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Boxelder Buggers At The Bamboo Lagoon

Sample on flower bed rocks
Normally these little guys would not be a big deal but for some reason, everything this year has been overboard and bugs are no exception.

Starting in early October I started seeing a lot of these guys...and the numbers just kept growing. I hate to kill bugs that aren't "pests" but these guys have gotten to that point, big time. At one point, there were hundreds on both our front deck and our front the point that you couldn't get in the door without bringing them in with you. Last year, I saw a few of the fully developed adults but I have run into three different nests of them at all stages of life.

At first, I tried to just get them to go away by brute force, just sweeping or using the hose to try to deter them from hanging out on our front porches, but this didn't seem to have any affect on the population.

So my next course of action became "death to the bugs". I decided to go with a non-toxic version and just used dishsoap and water in a spray bottle and I went to town. It was surprisingly effective. Over the next few days, I was able to not only get rid of most of the porch dwellers, I also hit all three nests I found. After death, I would sweep or hose off the porch to get rid of the evidence of bugicide.

I am hoping that next year will easier. We will need a few good freezes this winter, I am sure.

Update 11/8: We cooled down quite a bit and they seemed to go completely away but now we have warmed up a bit in the last few days and it seems a few are trying to make a comeback so I got the spray bottle back out.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall Is Here At The Bamboo Lagoon

Landing and rocks before
Just got back from a short trip to the midwest to see much loved family and had to buckle down the today to get some yardwork knocked out. Fall is here again and if it is anything like last year was, it will be a ton of work. Getting any of it taken care of before it piles up is the way to go.

We needed to fill up the yard bin and there was just enough pinestraw on the solar panels and landing to do the job.

Solar panels and roof before
Had to bring out the ladder and climb up on to the deck cover with a deck broom to get the pinestraw off. The broom only reaches about half way across the solar panels so I did what I could from that end, and then moved the ladder to another location so I could climb up onto the house roof itself. I took up a bucket with some gloves since it seemed logical while up there to clean the gutters as well.

Landing and rocks after
Rolled the pinestraw off the roof since there was a lot on the ground that needed to be dealt with anyhow and headed down. Cleaned up three trashcans full of needles, and then moved on to the sideyard stairs.

The stairs are under an oak tree that has started dropping acorns and a few leaves. I wanted to get the stairs cleaned up of acorns because they make the stairs kind of scary. This
Solar panels and roof after
only took a bit of raking and ended up being two 5 gallon buckets full to top off the yardwaste bins.

Felt good to knock out some tasks on the first full day of Autumn this year.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Leaf Net Trial Season

With the net on
Last year, the leaf drop from all the trees planted near the pool was pretty massive. Even with my preventative trimming to limit the amount that branches reach over the deck, there was still a lot that was carried on the wind. At one point, there were so many oak leaves on the pool, the leaves came up to the edge of the deck. It took me almost two hours to skim them all off.

This year, I decided to see if a leaf net would be a better option (at least for keeping the leaves from dropping to the bottom of the pool). I got it on sale and in the mail a few days before my annual trip to the midwest this year and decided to put it over the pool before leaving just in case the leaf drop came early.

It covers the pool pretty well, but pretty much used up every bungee strap we own...LOL. The other option was to buy the water weights but those are expensive and I am only trying this out and want to try to do it as inexpensively as possible.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tree Trimming

Pile before breakdown
I noticed when I went out the back door the other day that we had a lot of dead lower branches hanging down and with it being fire season and all, I thought it might be wise to trim them up some.

So I broke out our extended tree saw/trimmer and got to work. Pulled down quite a few branches and dragged them down to the driveway to breakdown for the yardwaste container. Raked and cleaned up the area underneath the trees.

The next day, I worked on breaking all the small branches off and then got the Sawsall with a pruning blade on it and went to town....gosh I love power tools! The bigger pieces that I cut up with the Sawsall, I decided to keep for firewood. So I put them in a tote.

All cleaned up
The yardwaste bin is almost full with the branches and the pinestraw...and we still have a week to go before the pickup...I'll just have to fill up other trashcans we have until it gets emptied.

On another note, the plum trees are doing much better now that they dropped most of their I just need to gather a few up along with some acorns for the FIL. He wants to try to plant them on his 40 acres and see if they can grow. I might see if I have some starts for him too.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Pruning Continues At The Bamboo Lagoon

Happy pruned Japanese maple
We are in the midst of some heavy smoke from local wildfires, and this has limited how much outdoor activity can occur. A couple of days before our most recent yardwaste pickup, I was able to get out and prune the little Japanese maple we have in front. It had a lot of growth sprouting from the top, throwing the shape off and then the branches were getting too long at the bottom so that it was touching the ground, which is not healthy for these little guys. So I took to it with the clippers and I am sure the pruning has made it feel so much better.

Broken branch
As you know from other posts, we have two Purple Plum trees in the yard. One in back and one in front. This year, for some reason, there is an abundance of plums on the front one, to the point that the branches are very heavily weighed down. I have been picking the plums as fast as I can and continue to be surprised that the birds haven't beaten me to them. I have been worried for a while that we would lose a branch or two (we actually lost one while I was out of town in June, and the plums weren't even ripe yet). The image to the left is what I saw when I came around the house this morning while working on some other things in the yard. At some point during the night, we lost a relatively large branch on one side of the tree. I was pretty sure it was due to four legged critters during the night, and this was confirmed by fur evidence on the tree trunk and the on the branch.

We really needed to mow while we had a small reprieve from the smoke for a few days, but obviously that wasn't going to happen with the branch hanging down, and I didn't want to the branch completely off the tree until I had salvaged what I could plum-wise. So I went indoors to get a colander and a bowl for picking, and proceeded to pick and pick and pick from both the tree and the broken branch until I felt that the waste had been reduced. I then proceeded to prune the branch off, cutting it into small bits while I went so as to not make a huge mess, and get it all into the yardwaste bin for the next pickup. While I had all the tools out, I pruned some of the rest of the tree to hopefully avoid more breakage, and tackled a few other spots in the yard where suckers were coming up.

Thank goodness these are yard shorts
After all the pruning was done, I got the mower out and started the fun task of mowing our very hilly front yard. I should mention that it was about 97 degrees out, and I hadn't eaten in 5 hours. I was only a few mins into the mowing when I could feel that I desperately needed to eat but I was determined to knock it out first. The way our yard is, I have figured out that it is easiest to start at the top, do all of it, and then mow in downward strokes over the edge of the hill to get the steepest parts done from the top. This requires letting the mower go as far as I can reach while still standing firmly at the top of the yard, and then using lots of upper body strength to pull the mower back up towards me to start over again a few inches over. While doing this, part of the time, I am under the plum tree. There were a lot of plums on the ground. On this wonderful occasion, my feet slipped on the plums right when the mower was at the farthest point away from me...and down I went onto my butt in a pile of overripe plums. The mower pulled me down the hill a bit, but I was able to get up, find sturdy ground, pull it back up towards me, all without letting go of the handle so it stayed on. I had to mow the rest of the yard with my butt looking like this but that is okay.

Once I was done, even though I was shaking with hunger, I felt a great sense of accomplishment because I knocked out everything I planned to do and the yard looked so much better. You can see in this pick that the plum tree looks kind of funny at the top, but that is because the heavy branches are still leaning to the sides. I was only able to prune off some of the lower stuff. Once the upper plums are eaten or drop on their own, the nice round shape will return.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Additional Tidbits

There is a certain level of motivation that I think hits all of us when we have company coming to visit. At least I know it happens to me...and this is beyond the just wanting to clean up and have things look neat motivation. This is the let's get some shiite done motivation!

I have mentioned before that we had a substantial amount of water damage done to the house by the totally slacking property management company last year. I do realize that I have yet to actually post about that event but I have mentioned it in a few posts that I have put up here.

Anyhow, the downstairs bathroom was one of the most damaged parts of the house and is the only guest bathroom in the house. We lost the floor, several walls, 1/2 of the ceiling, insulation, and a huge 95 inch vanity that ran the length of one wall. We reinstalled the insulation and had the drywall and texturing done right away but paint, floors and vanity have been on the To Do list for some time.

The floor and vanity kind of rely on each other depending on what kind of vanity and what kind of flooring is being put in. It was looking more and more like we were going to be putting in a footed vanity rather than a kickplated vanity so reality is, flooring will have to be done first, but with a sale and a discount, this vanity was purchased and put into place temporarily so guests would have a place to put toiletries even if they couldn't use the sink. I hope to get it plumbed at least until we get ready to paint and do the floors so that it can be used soon. Right now, the knobs aren't installed, the top is not secured down and the faucet is not installed. Will get everything done but the top being secured since it will be easier to move it later with the top off.

Second little bug that got tackled was the painting of several covers around the house. Two of the exhaust van covers that can't be replaced with new, the doorbell cover and the intake vent cover all needed to be painted white and put back into place so there wouldn't be any gaping holes around the house. It took a couple of coats of spray paint to get all of the tan to white but they look much better now installed where they are supposed to be.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Little Tidbits At The Bamboo Lagoon

I have stalled out on a few things lately. Part of it is my weird brain and the mentality that each project relies on the completion of another project first and that in turn relies on another project which just keeps piling up until I practically get nothing done.

Yesterday, I decided I was going to knock out a few things regardless of what other projects were looming ahead because I was just sick of it.

Table assembled
So I started by vacuuming the entire upper floor (because I needed to use the vacuum in one of the projects downstairs and didn't want to drag it up and down the stairs more than I had to). Then I vacuumed the entire downstairs. I moved some projects that aren't going to be completed in the next week, into a closet to get them out of my way.

I put together this old 50's style table that has been sitting in pieces in one of the extra rooms so I could use it if necessary. Part of the reason it wasn't put together before this was because I need to paint that room and moving the table in and out of the room to paint is
Small window with blind
harder when it is put together, but since the painting isn't going to happen this week, I decided to forge on. The screws in the table were older flathead screws and one of them was missing so I made a run at lunchtime to our local hardware store to replace all the screws with Phillips Head screws so I could use the cordless drill instead of putting all 24 of them in by hand. While I was out, I picked up a healthy sandwich from the co-op for lunch.

Big window with blind
I rehung the two sets of blinds that I had repaired and cleaned a few months ago. Once again, the reason I hadn't done this before was due to wanting to paint the rooms that they are going in, but I am tired of not having the blinds up so I just put them up. Taking them down for painting won't be that big of a deal later. I had to replace one of the hanger clips on the larger blind but fortunately, I had an extra from the shop I had them fixed at.

I cleaned up the second of our extra rooms downstairs and put in the mats and the weight bench that has been sitting in the garage since last fall. Once again, painting was the reason this had not been done but I was sick of not having room in the
garage, and not being able to use the weight bench where it was. Hopefully this will motivate me to get back to weight lifting too. The downstairs of the house (because it is a split level) is much cooler than any other part of the house so that will be nice for exercising.

Pullup bar
I also installed in the doorway to that room the Perfect Pullup bar that I had purchased a while back. It isn't a good spot for someone that wants to do "real" pullups because of the low ceiling in that room in particular but because I
can't do real pullups yet (and J is not here to do them), I figure it will work for me doing the alternative methods until I get stronger. Once real pullups are required by one or both of us, we can move it to the other door frame where there is more ceiling clearance.

I am hoping that this motivation continues for a bit so I can continue to knock out a few things that have been lingering. Feels good to knock some niggling things off the list.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sprinkler Issues

Old diaphragm
Well, it seems I spoke too quick.

While over 700 miles away, I get a text from our neighbor that our sprinklers are shooting water straight into the air in the middle of the day, which is not on the schedule. She let it run for a bit thinking the timer would turn it off and when it didn't, she thankfully came over and turned off the valve to the front yard system and spigot. Of course it was about 800 degrees here while we were gone too...

I am sure that the old diaphragm died...thought we would get one more week out of it, and we didn't. So I looked up the sprinkler people online, and called their supplier to order three diaphragms thinking we might as well replace all of them at once. They haven't come yet and I am starting to get worried since we can't water in the front at all unless by watering can.

Oh, and while the gushers were going, which of course I can't determine anything about yet, a lot of bark in one of the beds got washed out...more fun work to do...LOL. I am hoping that there is not another leak in the system somewhere else...

Update: Now that I think about it, we do have a spigot in the garage, I might see if it is still functioning with the front turned off, because I could put in a rotating sprinkler for the front in a few spots. Especially if the delivery doesn't come today. Have to wait until it gets shady in front though...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Functioning Sprinklers

One of the large popups
Okay, it seems that we have a fully functioning auto sprinkler system in the front yard. I don't have it set exactly as I want it but it will do for now. I still need to order the diaphragms for the valves but right now, none of them seem to be leaking so I am not super worried about that just yet.

So the other day, after my trip to Ewing and the packed full brain of all the info that they gave me, I replaced all the sprinklers that I had purchased replacement parts for, and I put the old diaphragm back into the valve so that I could turn the system on and find the rest of the missing popups.

New small popups
I figured out pretty quick that I didn't have the big popups in right because they were both watering the street instead of the lawn but I was able to just grab them and "ratchet" them around like the folks at Ewing had told me.

While the sprinklers were on, I ran through the yard with my homemade markers and found the missing small popups as well as three more that I didn't even know about. I marked them all and made another trip to Ewing for more small popups.

While running the system again, I also realized that some of the small popups I got were
Blue tape marks the spot
spraying way farther than I needed them too, so I traded 5 of them in for smaller distance heads.

Today, I dug up all the remaining marked popups that needed to be replaced and went through and replaced each one. Some of the popups were so buried in vegetation that I had to cut them out a little hole to see through. They are clear enough to pop up but I will need to clear more vegetation if I want them to spray as far as they are supposed to.

New guts and head
I then turned on the system to see if I had them set the way I wanted. I realized when I was working on the last one that the system was installed in 2000-2001 timeframe when I think the sod for the front yard was done. Make sense that some of them have tilted a bit with the growth of the yard. I got soaked while figuring out the settings for each head but it kind of felt good since we had a close to 90 degree day today.

Once I was sure they were all spraying the way that I wanted them to, I set the auto system up to water on odd numbered days so it should water tomorrow morning, and I'll know if it is working as it should on a schedule. Fingers crossed that it all functions as it should.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Pruning Again

Yardwaste day was creeping up on me and I wanted to get that bin filled up so I would feel like we were getting our money's worth. There is so much to do here in the yard that at times it is completely overwhelming but there is nothing to do about that but tackle one thing at a time.

We have a second Purple Plum tree in the backyard that is in desperate need of pruning and while I can't prune it as it needs to be done, I definitely can make a dent.

Tools of the trade
This tree sits right off our back deck and the branches at the bottom were so low that you would hit them walking down the steps on that side. There was some dead stuff in there too, and a ton of crossing branches and suckers from previous trimmings.

I grabbed the small pruners, the big loppers and set to work. It only took me a few minutes to realize that I was going to need more than those two tools. I had spread out a tarp on the deck because when I pruned the front plum tree, I found out how much of a mess cleaning up these branches could be when there were plums already on them.

In the driveway
I went back to the garage and decided what I needed was our sawsall with the new pruning blade on it. This was a perfect excuse to bring out a power tool and I was looking for any excuse. So grabbed the sawsall, our new blade, and the extension cord, set it all up and set to work.  With the sawsall, I was able to take out a couple of big branches I would have not been able to do before.

Once I got everything cut off the tree, I bundled up the smaller stuff on the tarp and took it down to the driveway to be cut into small bits to put in the bin. I had to drag the two bigger branches to the driveway on their own since they wouldn't fit in the tarp and I didn't want to mess up anything else during the course of dragging them down the side of the house.

It took a good 30 minutes to cut most of the smaller  pieces up to fit in the bin and then I had to fire up the sawsall again on the two branches to cut them in thirds. None of them were more than two inches in diameter so it was no problem.

If you look at the tree now, it looks a lot better even if it isn't as good as it would be should we hire a professional. And it is great to be able to walk under it without getting hit in the head by branches.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Start Of The Sprinkler Project At The Bamboo Lagoon

Valves and valve box
So, this wasn't on the "already purchased list", but it is something that has been looming since last year. When I had Jeff come out to look at the sprinkler system in front and teach me the basics, I noticed that the valve box for the system had a lot of water in it. We tried to see if we could figure out where the leak was, but at the time, there were no clues.

For the winter, I had the water to the system turned off but I always knew that I would have to figure out what was going on with it, if I wanted to have it set in full auto this season. So far this year, I have been just turning on the water valve when I need to, running the system and then turning it off when it is done.

Anyhow, time has come and it has to be dealt with. I opened the valve boxes so I could take pics. One of them contains the valves for the three zones on the front system and the other box contains the backflow preventors to keep the sewer water from backflowing into the city water system.

Closeup of leaking valve
Before taking anything apart, I wanted to get some information, so I headed to the Grange because I knew that at least some of the parts were purchased there. They didn't have a lot of info about valves but sent me to Ewing which is a great irrigation store. They were able to tell me that my valves and box were from the Olson company and while they didn't sell the parts for those particular valves, they did get me a number I could call to get parts once I was sure what I needed. Apparently Olson has a system that contains all the valves and wiring in a prebuilt system. Ewing gave me some good advice on how to proceed with all the other maintenance issues I wanted to take care of on the rest of the system too.

Inside of valve
I could see that one of the valves was leaking when I turned on the water, and with the box dried out, it was easy to narrow it down. I took that valve apart to look at the diaphragm inside. It seemed like it wasn't in great shape but decided I would take it to Ewing and see what they could tell me.

I also took out one of the large popups and one of the small popups from that same zone so I could get replacement parts while I was at Ewing. All my popups are Hunter brand and Ewing does carry that brand. I figured if the system was put in around 2000-2001, it was probably time to update all the popups.

To be continued...

Monday, May 6, 2013

Small Tidbits At The Bamboo Lagoon

Progress on a few projects have been slow but I have been knocking out a few little things where I can.

The St John's Wort was trying to take over the steps on the left side of the house again so I worked on that as I could, also cleaning out the side beds of any grass or weeds that I saw creeping through. Due to weather, this took me a few days to finish when normally it would be a short afternoon project.

This pic was taken when I had already gotten a few steps done. Since cleaning this up, I have sprayed the crevices with vinegar, which will have to be redone periodically but it does keep the weeds under control without being bad for the environment. I have two pump sprayers and one is for vinegar and one is for brush killer.
I have to use brush killer (which isn't good for the environment) on the blackberry, and small oak trees that keep creeping back up. It is unfortunate but other than burning the blackberry (which isn't an option) getting rid of it permanently is pretty hard to do. I have a huge section of it in the upper backyard that needs attention before it becomes a completely out of control. I have been waiting for the flowers on another weed to die so I wouldn't have to deal with the wasps that were all over the place. Now that the flowers are dead, it is time to get those weeds pulled out and the blackberry dealt with. The backyard is a little bit overwhelming for me so I am trying to just focus on small projects rather than the whole big issue that is a lot to deal with at one time.

I got some more mulch from my mom recently and I have mulched the bed that the new bamboos are in, which has really helped with the moisture retention of that area. It was a sloped bed and everytime I tried to water it, the water would run off before it would soak in. Now the bamboos are much happier and it makes the watering much easier and much more effective.

I also finally got the little bed in front that I created months ago, mulched and the plants there are so happy too. I have cut back the daffodills and other early blooming annuals that are done for the year so it is a bit cleaner as well.
I need to take pics of some of the blooming items. Just found some cool looking Chinese Poppies in the backyard but that is for another post.

I feel like I lost my momentum when I finished the main middle bed in the front yard, but I am trying to get back at it and not let the procrastination get the best of me. There is a lot of work to do to get the place back up to snuff but I think that once it is back where I need it, maintenance won't be too is just the catch up that is killing me.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Preventative Work At The Bamboo Lagoon

While out working on the pool yesterday, I discovered that the wasp/yellowjacket population is already trying to get out of hand. I haven't found but one or two nests (which were immediately sprayed and destroyed), but there is a weed in the backyard that kind of looks like a pea plant and there are tons of wasps on them.

So yesterday, I bought two wasp/yellowjacket traps to hang in the backyard so I can get them under control before they take over. It has gotten so warm here so fast, that some things feel like I am already behind...but I am hoping that we get a lot of rain in May. If we don't, we will be hurting so bad for water later in the summer.

Anyhow, so I put out those traps this morning, and also set a bomb off under our front porch (where the spiders like to live) so I can work under there later this week. I have to put in some joist hangers as well as put in some ventilation holes and I don't want to be worried about black widows.

I watered a bunch of stuff that was in the shade and then got up on the roof so I could check the upper portion of the solar panels (which look great). I haven't tested them yet...still waiting for it to warm up just a bit more.

I want to get out and take all those pea looking weeds out, but I can't tackle it while the bees are out there, so I might have to see how the traps do and try to get to them when I see not as many bees. I don't want them going to seed so I need to do it before the flowers are gone, that is for sure.

I bought some 3 mil black plastic yesterday to lay down along the backside of the pool in a row that I don't want anything to grow in. It just creates a bunch of weeds right near the pool so I want to cover it up and hope that I can kill it all off, then treat it with vinegar and see if I can keep it clear.

As always, a ton to work on...and it never ends.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pool Maintenance

Multiport valve on pool pump/filter
Last year, it became evident that there was something going on with the multiport valve on the pool pump/filter. This made it so that I pretty much didn't vacuum, backwash or rinse for the last 1/2 of the season because getting the pool to stop draining was an ordeal. I managed to keep the pool pretty clean with filtering, brushing, skimming and scooping, but it is not how I want this season to be.

I dreaded doing this fix because I was sure it was going to be super hard (to get parts, and to do the actual fixing). I prepped by taking pics of the multiport valve and checking out the possibilities online. I then went to the pool supply store that I use and found out what I needed to do. They were awesome with instructions and gave me confidence that I would be able to do it without needing help or any crazy tools.

So today, I decided that not only was I going to get the multiport valve done, I was also going to get the pool pump's electric box secured to the post like it should be. I had already looked at the hole in the back of the electric box and measured for a carriage bolt I could put through the box into the 2x4 behind.

Electric box bolted to post
I killed the power to the pump, and gathered up the tools needed. I held the electric box into place and drilled a hole through the post to match up the hole in the electric box. I put in the bolt and tightened everything down, and with a small screwdriver was able to open the two zip ties I had used to temporarily hold the box in place.

I opened up the skimmer basket on the pump to relieve some pressure from the system and then started working on the 6 bolts surrounding the valve. As I started to loosen them, I could hear the water moving around. Once I took them out, I was able to lift on the handle and top of the valve and see the gasket that needed to be replaced. As soon as I opened it, it was obvious why it was leaking after vacuuming, backwashing and rinsing. More than likely, the renters weren't turning the valve in one direction like they were supposed to and messed up the gasket.

The bad news was that the gasket I had in hand, was not the same as the one in my valve, so I gathered up the handle/top, the two gaskets (one new and one old) and headed over to the pool supply store. I thought I might have to cut the gasket to fit like it should but I wanted to get a professional's opinion first. He recommended the same thing but first wanted to check their stock for the right gasket. My valve is pretty old so getting parts is hit and miss. Fortunately, he had the exact gasket I needed hanging in the supply room and it was 5 bucks cheaper than the first one I bought. He took the other one back (this is why I save packaging...LOL). I double checked on a few details and headed back.

Open valve with gasket removed
I put the gasket into its slot, and screwed everything back into place while keeping the edge gasket from pinching. Went down and turned on the power to the pumphouse, and turned on the filter to check for pressure and leaks. Noticed that there is a small leak from the pressure gauge, but I am planning to replace the gauge soon (just don't have the right one), so I am not going to worry too much about it right now. The leak is super small.

I cleaned the pool (not vacuuming, but everything else) and checked the chemicals. Still need to vacuum, fix some deck boards, set up the tiki torches, paint and assemble the deck table and clean up all the chairs but I felt good about knocking out these two maintenance issues that I was worried would be way harder than they turned out to be.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

CO Monitors At The Bamboo Lagoon

Dual monitor mai
I have been slacking on the project list because of the need to just keep up on maintenance issues for the last couple of weeks. I have mowed the lawn a few times as well as started cleaning out two new beds in the front yard for plantings. I have also been cleaning the pool, watering, and doing general cleanup around here that never makes the project lists.

Today, I wanted to knock out just one one thing from the project list so I installed the second CO monitor for this house since you should have one on each floor. We have a dual monitor/smoke alarm on the main floor and then individual monitor and smoke alarm on the bottom floor. Installing the second CO monitor took a whole of 10 mins and that included installing batteries, checking for studs, leveling and marking screw holes, screwing in screws and then hanging the monitor on the bracket...tada...all done.

Both monitors down stairs
Now I am going to grab a quick bite to eat so I can get into the yard (now that the sun has moved around) because I have work to do in those two beds, and I want to be able to start marking more off my list.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

New Visitor

Saw this girl (I am assuming a girl since she is missing some of the coloring normally on a boy, although it might just be a juvenile) in the backyard hoping from terrace to terrace looking for food. I haven't seen her in any trees, just on the ground.

Northern Flicker

I hope to see her more as the season goes and perhaps we'll even find out that she is a he...LOL

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pansies And Mulch

Spring has spung in this small spot
Knew that we were supposed to get some rain and thunder this evening, so on top of all the other stuff I got accomplished today, I was determined to get the pansies I bought two weeks ago into the ground and then get the three beds I have been working on mulched so they would not dry out so fast.

I didn't even start on the planting until after 3:30 in the afternoon because I was working on several other projects most of the day. I saved 3 of the pansies for one of the hanging baskets that no longer has anything alive in it. I want to get two trailing plants to put in each basket too. I found a bunch of little weeds trying to come up in my newly cleaned out beds...but I dealt with them.

So I put in 5 little bunches of pansies in groups of three. Then I used the two bags of awesome mulch that my mom gave me last fall. It perfectly filled all three beds including along the underneath of the Japanese Maple. I will be excited when the perinnials all start to grow and bloom.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Nothing Is Easy At The Bamboo Lagoon

This is the last electrical thing in the big project to be done on the interior of the house. I still have outdoor, garage and dryer electrical to do, but this one thing was supposed to mark the end of my switch, plate, and outlet project. I was putting it off a bit because I hate putting on ends to the coax, but the office desk has been pulled out for weeks and it was time to wrap it.

Guess what? It isn't wrapped up. As you can see in the picture, unlike all the other cable jacks in the entire house, this one was put in through the studs of the window framing...which makes putting in one of my little blue boxes to create a safe, and attractive way of cleaning up the cable jacks, completely impossible.

So, because I had already cut the cable (which supplies all the Internet for the whole house), I had to temporarily reattached it so I would have Internet, while I patch this hole and end up just putting a white plate cover on screwed into the drywall and studs rather than using a blue box. It will look fine to anyone that doesn't know, but it will always bug me just a bit that I wasn't able to blue box this one like the others.

The patch will take a day or so to dry completely so for now, the desk is still pulled out, and this little project is not check marked off my list. I could just kick the cable guy for doing this...I already dislike him for taking a chunk out of my newly painted siding when he put the line in and then didn't replace it correctly leaving a weird looking hole on the outside of the house as well.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pool Outlet At The Bamboo Lagoon

It has finally been nice enough that I could finish off this task. I needed to be able to get under the deck and pull some wire. So it needed to be dry enough but not so warm that spiders or other creepy crawlies would be an issue.

I climbed under the deck for the slack, and while I was on that side of the fence, I also pruned the barberry that I thought was dead but is actually coming back (yeah!). I cleaned the pool, reset the timers and took out the lightbulb from the pump house since it is warm enough it doesn't need to be in there anymore.

I started to disassemble this outlet in the fall (in fact it was one of my first electrical projects at the bamboo lagoon along with fixing the pool light) but wasn't able to finish it before the weather turned. Today, I finished it, and tested it with my lagoon I can utilize this outlet to get some work done in the deepest parts of the backyard.

Old loose socket
With plate removed
Pulled out, rusted
Corroded wires (this is where I stopped last fall)
In order to put this new outlet in, I had to splice the 12 gauge solid ground wires together and then piggy back them to the outlet. I had to clean the corroded wires up so that I could use them without having to cut them off (since I was a little short on wire to work with). Then I had to shove with all my might the six 12 gauge wires back into the box and then screw it into place. They did not want to go in.

New outlet installed
New cover installed
At the end of it all, I turned on the power and the outlet works, and is grounded properly. I didn't test to make sure the circuit worked to the pool light switch but I have to assume it does as well.