Monday, June 22, 2015

A Marathon of Maintenance

It seems that every two years or so, the "to do" list gets long enough that I am no longer able to ignore it.  Two years ago I knocked off a bunch of projects, most of them annoying little wear-and-tear repairs that were bothersome or at risk of causing greater damage if left unfixed.

This year's list had been growing for quite a while.  In fact the top item on the list - replace the smoke detectors - was added almost a year ago and I'd even ordered their replacements from Amazon with the idea of pressing my son into action the next time they came over to visit.  Well, we never had that opportunity before he and his family were transferred to San Diego by the there they sat, a box full of brand new smoke detectors.

Then over the ensuing months I kept adding new items to that list until I had accumulated a whole bunch of wildly diverse chores.   While one or two of these I could probably do myself, the majority were out of my skill set or my strength or my ability to work overhead while standing on a ladder.

In my travels last month to the Dakotas to knock off those states in my "Half Marathons in All 50 States" quest, I stopped over for the night in Wichita and met up with a friend for dinner.  I knew that this friend had been unemployed for a few months, having been laid off, but I hadn't realized just how dire his situation was getting.  He had found a part time job, working two days a week at a fairly decent hourly wage, but it just wasn't enough to cover anything more than the very bare necessities.  An unexpected major expense would be devastating for him.

He's handy and a recent post of his on Facebook, showing photos of a plumbing job he was doing to earn his room and board, got me to thinking.  Why not pay him to drive down to Houston, spend the weekend, and knock off this long list of projects?

My offer was extended and he jumped at the opportunity to fatten his bank account a little.  Would it be possible to come down this weekend?  Yes!  So I did some menu planning and made a quick trip to the grocery store, then made sure the guest room and guest bathroom were ready.

My friend arrived about 8:30 PM on Friday after a long drive down from Wichita, and was barely in the door when I immediately put him to work, walking him through the list of tasks, taking some measurements, and making a shopping list with plans to hit Home Depot first thing in the morning.

Power washing the deck and patio

Look at how beautiful the deck looks after its cleaning!

The clean patio is now so white I need sunglasses to step outside!

I decided to go ahead and buy a Ryobi electric power washer, since the price was not much more than the cost to rent a large gas-powered power washer for the weekend.  This electric power washer puts out plenty enough pressure for home applications and it's fairly small and lightweight so that I can easily handle it myself in the future.

My faithful ficus tree, now bumped up to the next size pot.

While at Home Depot I bought two pots and some potting soil to bump up a couple of my outdoor plants.
My "rescued" and adopted dieffenbachia, finally out
of its nursery pot and into a real pot with good soil.

I bought paint mask tape and white paint for the cabinet bases, a project that I meant to get to before having the laminate floors installed but never got around to it.

My friend taping my baseboards so that I can paint them.
I hate doing the prep work but don't mind painting.

The finished result...looking so clean and bright!

Some replacement light fixtures for my kitchen, breakfast room, and pantry hallway jumped into my shopping cart.  I have always hated those original fixtures!  They were not especially high quality, just typical contractor-grade and supremely annoying.  The large fluorescent light in the kitchen was hard for me to reach, even on a 10' ladder, and I always struggled with removing the overly long and difficult lens so that I could clean it.
The original overhead fluorescent light fixture:
Plain, harsh, and difficult to remove/reinstall the lens
Old, plain overhead fixture replaced with this beautiful island light fixture:

Major improvement over the ugly fluorescent light.
This light quality is softer, and closer to where work is being done.

The hanging lamp over the breakfast room table looked cheap, and its fluted glass shade was very hard to clean.  So good riddance to those!

New breakfast room hanging light

Such a huge improvement in both looks and light quality.

Even changed out the ugly pantry hall light to this
slick and stylish LED light.

I bought a replacement doorbell....the old original bell is badly discolored and dark and I'm surprised the button even still works.  These are easy to replace and I could easily have done this myself, but it jumped onto the "to-do" list only because I had someone coming to tackle this long list of tasks anyway.
Getting the deck stained/sealed.  A slow tedious process
when a sprayer is not used.

Finished and now drying.  Looks so different!!
I bought Thompson deck stain/sealer, rollers, roller pan, brushes to coat the deck with after it gets power-washed.   Some other odds and ends came home with me from Home Depot, including a couple of packages of CFL bulbs for the new light fixtures, some long-handled scrub brushes to use on the patio and deck to keep them fresh-looking after their power-washing.  And almost $600 later, we were done shopping.  Whew!

Back at the house, purchases unloaded and it was time to get going!  We took a brief break and had lunch at the golf club house, but then quickly got back at it.  While my friend assembled the new pressure washer, I made quick work of re-potting the two outdoor plants.  I then had my friend go ahead and tape the baseboards in the kitchen so that I could start painting them while he was power-washing the patio and deck.

I had dry-rubbed some ribs the night before and so got the smoker going as soon as we got back from lunch.  The ribs smoked all afternoon while we worked and when they were done, I cooked some fresh corn on the cob and made a salad.  We made a quick run to the little corner C-store for beer and then sat down to enjoy dinner and catch our breaths.

The next day the smoke detectors were replaced, the deck was sealed/stained after it had a chance to dry over night, and part of the driveway (it's a very long driveway) was power-washed.  Not a very relaxing birthday, in fact most of my plans to have an enjoyable celebratory dinner with birthday cake for dessert were dashed as my friend raced to get as much done as possible and stressed over dealing with a mechanical issue with his truck.

He did what he could, finished what he had time for, but he had to get back on the road before it was all completed. I finished power-washing the driveway later that week, and added to the next to-do list, those items we couldn't get to.

I could take consolation however in the fact that the biggest or most difficult items on the list were successfully completed.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you two have been busy. I tis a win/win situation when he gets some much needed work and your to-do list gets done.

    Everything is looking good. Makes me think I need to pressure wash and stain our deck again. We too have a small electric one that does well for home projects.