Tuesday, October 25, 2011

To Study War No More...

I heard the news over the weekend that the President had decided to declare the war in Iraq officially over and was in the process of removing all troops from the area.

The thought of our troops coming home brought to mind all the men and women who would not be returning and I decided to visit the local Veteran's Memorial Wall. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

What I find particularly poignant about this wall and the one in Washington is the list of names. So often we think of wars in grand scale but somehow forget the individual who was a son, a daughter, a father, or a brother. Here was a chance to reflect person by person, to really see the human cost of war.

I stood for a moment and just touched the carved names of people I would never know personally, but in my own way wanted to honor. Touching the names somehow gave them life and helped me imagined them alive and vibrant.

My hope for the future is that each family connected with those names somehow finds peace in knowing that their relative meant something to someone who just wanted to stop for a moment and remember them as they lived. Someone who prays that we will study war no more...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Robert Frost wrote that good fences make good neighbors and since the purchase of the house over eight years ago, I have been talking about replacing the fence that faces my corner lot. As usual, click each photo for a better view.

I promised myself I would do it during the Spring this year but the time passed without movement on my part and the fence remained. Now the prospect of the Florida Winter approaching and the fence almost falling apart forced me to take action.

Those of you who have followed me for awhile are aware that I hold money quite tightly and the prospect of paying almost a thousand dollars to replace just one side of the yard really forced me to take on yet another project.

The decision to take action required enlisting the aid of my niece with her truck and a visit to my favorite project place, Lowes. I thought about just replacing the fence with the type of fencing already there but opted to go for complete privacy with "board on board"... and away we go!

Deciding to do the job by myself was truly a leap of faith but I felt like Archimedes ("Give me a lever long enough and I will lift the world") as I planned out how to move the panels into place to remove the old panels and replace the new.

A dolly helped tremendously in that I could single handily move what had taken two of us. My neighbors watched with great interest as one by one each panel was moved into place.

A clerk at Lowes made a great suggestion that I use screws rather than nails to prevent a year from now having to return to hammer protruding nails back into place and I followed it. I used my trusty drill to first bore a hole and then followed with 3 1/2 galvanized screws which made the job go fairly quick. I now understood why guys spend so much time in hardware stores, because the right tool really does make the job easier!

My neighbors thought I was genius and I did not want to dispel that belief and tried to look smart while I sweated to the oldies.

In no time I had covered almost half of the length and felt pretty good about my progress. Notice the prized bird feeder which I came to hate as I moved the panels and had to maneuver around it.

And now comes the really fun part. In any job there is always something that slows you down or makes the job much harder than you anticipated. In this case it was rotted posts. I took the lazy man approach and left in the existing posts and simply (that is a great word, "simply") decided to replace the posts that were rotted through. This required digging a couple of holes that nearly broke my back. But, I got it done.

The people who put in the original posts seemed to have planned for them to last a lifetime by the amount of concrete they put around them.

I started at nine in the morning and finished at five that evening but with great pleasure stood back and admired my work. One neighbor drove by and remarked that I had done a good job and made a decent "handyman", to which I gave him a shake of the drill which indicated: "Keep moving if you hadn't offered to help!"

I will return later to replace the gate, which requires more detail work than just replacing the panels. But, sunny-Girl and I really enjoy our new found privacy and board on board also acts as a great noise buffer.

Despite the sore muscles and the aching back, I saved myself closed to $500 based on the price I was quoted. And, as I enjoy the complete privacy of the new fence continually marvel that Frost really was correct that "Good fences do make good neighbors!"