Jul 13, 2015

Play to My Weaknesses

Now I know what you are thinking, "There goes Joanie getting all *dylexical* again and mixing up sayings!" I know that the saying is Play To Your Strengths, but this Grammie has learned how to accommodate her weaknesses!

Twenty months ago, as winter was closing in, I knew I needed to get Fernando off the street for the winter. I cut down two sections of fence that went along the sidewalk so I could park him on the large expanse of concrete that, in a former life, was a basketball court. As I put up a temporary fence I told myself that, come spring, I would get my boys over here to help me build a new fence.

NOVEMBER 9, 2013

Somehow that never happened with babies being born and people getting married so I decided to take on the project myself (said the Little Red Hen!) I started thinking, measuring, drafting a plan, shopping out options and thinking some more!

The last week of June into July was blisteringly hot... everyday was in the high 90s to low 100s. Well, I may be crazy... but not that crazy! I don't do well when it gets that hot. Very fortuitously, on Monday-last the weather turned overcast, cool  and with daily thunderstorms! I headed out to Home Depot to buy my posts, 2x4s, cement mix, rebar and various fasteners.

Weakness #1-
Even though I've lost 25 lbs and walk daily, I'm not all that strong.

I ASK FOR HELP! These two young men cut my rebar into the proper lengths. Thank you James and Andrew! I also got help loading my 2- 4"x4"x8' posts, 20- 2"x4"x8' and 4- 60# bags of cement mix (no way could I handle 80#ers on my own!). Incidentally I asked these fellow if they were in the witness-protection program before posting their faces! But beard-man looks a little sketchy to me!

The first thing on my agenda was to dig the post holes.

Reference previous weakness-

I knew I couldn't use a post hole digger with my rocky ground. I soaked the area the night before and then used my shovel.

I remembered that when Kevin and Ryan built the fence in the background of this photo they staked the posts in the holes to keep them level. I'm a quick learner! I mixed up the cement and carefully filled the cardboard sleeves (thank you, Brad, for that idea)

While the cement cured I reworked the sprinklers and added a couple of new heads. Sadly I had to take up part of the rock path... that is another job for another day!

I decided that I wanted to go with 34"x16' hog panels but that meant I'd have to cut those panels to fit on my own. I bought the panels at Cal Ranch but not before I got a bolt cutter and went outside to make sure I was strong enough!

Yay little-Grammie! Your arms aren't so weak after all!

My next problem was how to fasten these fatty-hog panels to the frame. Fastener fail #1! I couldn't use my new pneumatic crown stapler! (Return pneumatic crown stapler)

What to do? What to do?

I needed a way to hold the panel in place while I hammered in the fencing staples by hand. So I cut some shims to hold the panels up while I hammered in the fencing staples.

But what happens when it is an awkward angle? I've never had good hammer skills!

I used some of the dandy screws that Kevin used to mount 2x4 brackets when I built the other fence.

I started by the path and worked steadily *around the horn* to the shed. It occurred to me that I would want a second gate over by the shed that I hadn't originally planned. This time I was in the process of loading cement mix at Home Depot into Fernando by myself  when a female worker called someone to help me. I really could handle it. I was surprised at how my strength had increased in the 5 previous days of work!

I was feeling quite happy that I hadn't encountered any rock-a-dons in digging the previous holes... I got smug just a little too soon!

This was rock #1!

This is his happy *little* companion! And they both came out of the same, now quite large, hole! Are ya kiddin' me??

Each day the thunderstorms drove me inside for a brief respite... I was grateful for that! Saturday's storm was a true East-cost downpour!!

When I went back outside I notice that this poor dragon fly hadn't managed to get out of the storm! Poor baby! I pick him up with my gloved hand and put him safely in the currant bushes.

When dusk fell Saturday evening I had all of the posts in and panels hung except a tiny piece that spans the breach between the raised garden and the shed. I was tired but oh-so-pleased with my week's work.

Sunday was a much appreciated day of rest. This morning I built the tiny section seen here and added all of the small pickets and top header.

As I was returning a tool to Dennis another neighbor stopped to talk. When he asked what I'd been doing I showed him my fence. He couldn't believe I built it all by myself.

Yes, it did make me feel good to see his admiration. I'm so grateful for parents who taught me and a sweet son-Kevin who also teaches me how to be a good builder. And I am ever so grateful for my strong and healthy body! I count my good health as a dear blessing.

You will have to come back (or perhaps sneak over to Pinterest) to see what I have planned for the gates. I am so very excited to build them!!

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