Thursday, August 28, 2014

Finished the Stone Work

After taking the day off yesterday (it was hot and the Doctor did say to rest), I went back to work today moving stone from the pile and spreading it around.

Some of the stone was used to fill the parking area where we store one of Terry's seasonal cars. During the summer it's the Jeep, during the winter it's the Aveo.

Parking area 1

More was used to fill the parking area next to the house used the vehicle Terry is using at the time.
 Parking area 2

Parking area and driveway

The rest got spread along the driveway. Some went in the low spots along the drive into the Aerie and the rest went on the area in front of the garage.

Drive into the Aerie

 Area in front of the garage

When I was finished spreading the stone around, there was only a small area in front of the garage that hadn't gotten a new layer of stone.If the truck had carried 24 tons instead of 23....

Now we need a little rain to help pack the stone into the clay of the driveway and to rinse the fine clay dust that coated each stone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moving Stone

Got the call from the stone quarry this morning. They had a triple-axle load of crushed stone for me. Twenty-three tons of stone.

In an hour or so, as I worked on getting the last high spot out of the parking pad's bed, the truck backed into the driveway and deposited its load right where I wanted it to go.

 Twenty-three tons of stone.

Then it was time for Mr. Kubota and me to move the stone from the pile and fill the bed. For three hours it was back and forth with buckets of stone filling and leveling the parking pad.

 The stone on the left needs to go into the hole on the right.

 Filled and (almost) leveled pad.

I also filled a small gully at the end of the driveway and a low spot along the side of the driveway that just never seems to drain after it rains. (The fine, crushed stone from when they drilled our new well last year may have had something to do with that as that section of the driveway is where the water being flushed out of the well along with the tailings. Those fine particles must have made a seal through which water could not flow.)

 Partially filled low spot on the driveway.

I've still got some additional stone to put into the parking pad and some leveling to do. Luckily there's plenty of stone remaining.

 Still more stone to spread around.

I've some ideas of what to do with some of that stone: the area where Terry parks the Jeep during the summer and Aveo during the winter could use a couple of inches of stone. When that area gets wet, the soil turns to a very mucky clay. Anything left over will go under the deck where there's already a layer of stone. Adding another inch or two won't hurt.

Twenty-three tons is a lot of stone.


This afternoon I took the Toyota in to get its exhaust replaced, get inspected and, for good measure, get a new battery. It got done in a little over 2-1/2 hours. The worst part of the wait was that CNN was on the waiting room TV and, until everyone else left, I had to endure the worst news programming on TV. (Well, that's debatable. At least it wasn't tuned to MSNBC.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

More Construction,
the Finished Retaining Walls

I spent the better part of Sunday and Monday working on the retaining wall for the stone bed--hopefully level--on which I will park the RV--should they ever call to say that it's repaired.

After returning from church and a church luncheon, Terry helped with some of the moving of the 6"x6"s and the racheting down of the lag screws to hold them together. While I was drilling holes for the next set of screws, she would screw down the 10" lag screws to the last inch or two and then I would finish them off. We did 21 of those on Sunday while fastening three sets of timbers (two to a set) together to form the base of the downhill wall.

Finished walls of the RV parking area

A lot of time was spent making sure those sets would lay level on the ground. I had purchased ten bags of pea gravel to use as a bed for those timbers but ended up having to scrape away not only the gravel but some additional earth as well. It's a good thing we have lots of flat stones laying around, too. Some of the big ones ended up supporting the rear timbers where the yard sloped off steeply and were used as shims to level other parts of the wall.

One of the 10" long 1/2 diameter lag screws holding the timbers together.

I was pretty much on my own on Monday. I drilled holes and bolted down the top timbers on the downhill wall and then leveled the timbers for the rear wall and screwed them together. That required 24 more screws. I happened upon an easier way to screw them down using a tire lug wrench. More leverage.

Downhill wall with second layer of timbers. 
(The short ones will be bolted in as additional braces.)

Rear wall of the parking area.

I've a little scraping to do with the tractor on the up hill side of the box which measures 12' wide and 24' long. The bed of stone will be 8-10" deep on the downhill side and only an inch or two on uphill side. With any luck, that stone will be delivered in a day or two. They wanted to deliver it on Friday but I had a doctors appointment that turned into an adventure when the Toyota's exhaust system failed while traveling from the doctor's to the hospital for x-rays.


Speaking of x-rays, the results came in today. Seems I've got nothing but a misaligned lumbar spinal column. And an extra vertebra. With spines and spikes. And arthritis. The recommendation is fro rest. Like that's ever going to happen.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I Been Workin'

Started work on the area where I want to build a flat pad for the RV. It's the same area that the RV sat on's on  a bit of a slope in the driveway. Like a drop of 15 inches in 10 feet slope.

 The Site, pre-construction

Today I used the backhoe and front end loader to break up and move the driveway so as to level things off a little. I spent over four hours in the saddle of the Kubota.

There's still a slope but once I've built a retaining wall on the lower end using 6"x6" (two high and two wide at the base) and fill the area with pea stone gravel, I should have a much more level area.

After removing many loads of dirt and stone.
There's a drop if 6" or so on the left and a flat area 
on the right where the retaining wall will sit.

We had 0.38 inches of rain over night and through much of the morning so the lawn was soggy and took a beating from my driving the tractor back and forth on it. It was also quite slick and even in 4-wheel drive I slipped and skidded from time to time. It doesn't help that quite often there are flat rocks just beneath the surface. The turf gets ripped off them pretty quickly.
 You can see the damage on the slope leading from the lawn to the driveway.

More lawn damage where I was depositing the dirt and rocks (on the left)
...and turning the tractor around.

I'm not too worried about the lawn. Sure, it will look like hell for the rest of the season, but I'll overseed it when I'm done and let nature take its course. Most of it was clover and plantain anyway.

Tomorrow I start bolting some of those 6"x6"s together. I hope.

Friday, August 22, 2014

TWTWTW* (And thank goodness it's over.)

Although there will be some aftershocks extending into next week.

It's been one of those weeks where the money just flows...out.

First there was the "simple" fix of the RV's 12-volt system that turned into a completely new set of tires--all six of them at a cost of about $1.5K. Oh, and they still haven't got the 12-volt system fixed as the part had to be ordered from Timbuktu or somewhere.

The the refrigerator was diagnosed as terminal and a new one had to be purchased. Hopefully it will be delivered by my birthday, September 17th.

School taxes are due. 'Nough said. (At least the taxes on our 20 acres in PA are much, much less than they were for 1/3 of an acre in New Jersey and on a par with those for 34 acres in New York's Adirondacks.)

Today the Tundra's exhaust system went "KABLOOEY"..sorta. The tail pipe/muffler connection rotted out meaning the entire system needs replacement at a cost of $1K. Happened on Route 6 while I was going from the doctor's office to the hospital. More on that further down.

While scheduling the appointment I asked them to plan on doing my inspection as well. Then, on the way home, I remembered that the brakes (rotors and pads) will need replacement (another $1K) before it will pass inspection...unless the mechanic's forgetful. Well, the Tundra does have 122K miles on the odometer. The radio works just fine...I think. I never have it on.

Oh, and I went and saw the doctor today because I've still got sharp pains in my buttocks from a fall I took four weeks ago. No black-and-blue, no pain down the leg, no explanation for the continued pain. Got sent for an X-ray but the doctor hasn't called me back so if there's any damage to bone or disc will not be known until Monday at the earliest. I can put up with a lot of pain...A LOT...but this was getting to be too long a period for me. I've things to do (and I've been doing most of them) and the sharp pain I was experiencing was...well...a pain in the ass (P.I.T.A.).

Speaking of doing things.... I went and ordered a load (about 22 tons) of pea gravel and purchased a slew of pressure treated 6"x6" timbers to build a raised, level box upon which to park the RV...when ever it returns.Now if I can get the back/buttocks to behave long enough, I can get the timbers in place and lag bolted together before the stone comes.

Oh, Terry and I celebrated our 42nd Anniversary on the 19th.

And, speaking of P.I.T.A., Terry had a colonoscopy. Everything was fine.

Interesting times, interesting times.

*And if you know to what the title refers (TWTWTW), you're as old a fart as I am.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

College Football Pre-season Polls and
Week 1 Opponents

The college football season is just one week away and the preseason polls are out. (The first games will be on Wednesday, August 27th as Abilene Christian visits Georgia State. Hey! It’s on ESPNU so it counts.)

Both the Associated Press (8/17) and the Coaches Polls (7/31) have been released. Their Top 25 teams are listed with their week one opponents are below. 

Even without the games being played these rankings are probably out of date now that Ohio State’s starting QB, Braxton Miller, has reinjured his throwing shoulder and is listed as out for the season. His loss puts the ball in the hands of a red-shirt freshman JT Barrett who beat out sophomore Cardale Jones. Miller was thought to be in the hunt for the Heisman Trophy as well.  

There are three games pitting ranked teams against each other (#9 South Carolina vs #21 Texas A&M, #12 Georgia vs #16 Clemson, #13 LSU vs #14 Wisconsin) and there are the usual games in which ranked teams play FCS patsies opponents (#8 Michigan State vs Jacksonville State, #11 Stanford vs UC Davis, #19 Arizona State vs Weber State, #20 Kansas State vs Stephen F. Austin, #23 North Carolina vs Liberty, #24 Missouri vs South Dakota State).
(Ranks on the left are those of the AP/Coaches Top 25 Polls as reported by

1/1 Florida State The Seminoles open the season August 30th on the road against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

2/2 Alabama The Crimson Tide kicks off its season August 30th at home against the West Virginia University Mountaineers.

3/4 Oregon The Ducks open the season August 30th at home against the San Diego State Aztecs
South Dakota Coyotes.

4/3 Oklahoma The Sooners start this season at home on August 30th against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.

5/6 Ohio State The Buckeyes (without Braxton Miller) tee off on August 30th at Navy.

6/5 Auburn The Tigers open the season August 30th at home against the Arkansas Razorbacks.

7/7 UCLA The Bruins open the season on August 30th on the road against the University of Virginia Cavaliers.

8/8 Michigan State The Spartans open the season on Friday night, August 29th, at home against the Jacksonville  State Gamecocks, an FCS team.

9/9 South Carolina The Gamecocks open the season on Thursday, August 28th, at home against the #21 Aggies of Texas A&M.

10/10 Baylor The Bears open the season at home on Sunday, August 31st, against the SMU Mustangs.

11/11 Stanford The Cardinal open the season on August 30th at home against the UC Davis, an FCS school.

12/12 Georgia The Bulldogs open the season at home on August 30th against the #16 Clemson Tigers.

13/13 LSU The Tigers open the season at home on August 30th against the #14 Wisconsin Badgers.

14/14 Wisconsin The Badgers open the season on August 30th on the road against the #13 LSU Tigers.

15/15 Southern California The Trojans open the season at home on August 30th against the Fresno State Bulldogs.

16/16 Clemson The Tigers open their season on the road on August 30th against the #12 Georgia Bulldogs.

17/17 Notre Dame The Fighting Irish open the season at home on August 30th against the Rice Owls.

18/19 Ole Miss The Rebels open the season on Thursday August 28th at home against the Boise State Broncos.

19/18 Arizona State The Sun Devils open the season at home on Thursday, August 28th against the Weber State Wildcats, an FCS team.

20/21 Kansas State The Wildcats open their season at home on August 30th against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, and FCS team.

21/20 Texas A&M The Aggies open their season on Thursday, August 28th, on the road against the #9 South Carolina Gamecocks.

22/22 Nebraska The Cornhuskers open the season on August 30th against the Florida Atlantic University Owls.

23/23 North Carolina The Tar Heels will open the season on August 30th against the Liberty Flames, an FCS team.

24/NA Missouri The Tigers open the season on August 30th at home against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, an FCS team.

25/25 Washington The Huskies open the season on August 30th on the road against the Warriors of Hawaii.

NA/24 Texas The Longhorns open the season on August 30th at home against the Mean Green of North Texas.

Meanwhile, my Rutgers Scarlet Knights will travel west to Pullman, Washington to play the Washington State Cougars.