Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Beautiful Weekend

Only one thing would have made this weekend better -- a fourth day.

On Friday, my normal day off from work, I drove to the University for a conference call, worked about three and one-half hours, dropped off recycling, picked up a few groceries, mailed a package to my daughter and stoped by a house to get a load of retaining wall block. That may not sound like a good start to a weekend but it was all done at a lazy, peaceful pace. I enjoyed it.

Last fall I bought over 200 retaining wall blocks from a family and told them I would take the four or five hundred blocks in another wall when they were ready to sell them. The phoned recently so I scheduled the first load. I grabbed a cap block and it wouldn't budge. I tried several others without success. I tried prying one lose with the only tool I had that might work. I gave up and opted to stop by a lumber yard and buy a roll of fencing for the garden

Julie and I returned for the blocks and found the family working in the yard. I took a shovel, pick, crow bar, hammer and mason's chisel. The man who owns the house didn't know the cap block had been installed with an adhesive. The hammer and chisel did the trick and we soon discovered that one hole in each block had been grouted with cement and some had rebar driven into the ground before the grout was poured. After more than an hour of work we left with about 75 cap stones. The family gave us the block due to the work involved. Rather than making a few hundred dollars, the family will have to get a backhoe to remove the wall. I have no immediate need for the block so I'm not disappointed.

On Saturday morning I decided it was time to get out the hummingbird feeders. As I sat on the font steps tying my boots I heard a bird. Talk about coincidence and timing! It checked the two locations were we have feeders each summer and flew off. I immediately got the feeders and fixed nectar. Within a few minutes the bird returned. We now have two hummingbirds. Soon the orioles will return so I put out an oriole feeder also.

Julie had invited a friend for supper on Saturday evening. This young lady lost her husband two years ago in an unfortunately accident while scuba diving. We check one another's house when needed. She had taken care of our plants while we were in North Carolina last month. She mentioned she did not have phone service and had taken part of her equipment to a business in town. They replaced two cables which seemed to fix the problem. Her phone worked for two days and failed again. I volunteered to check the system for her. Since there is no phone service in our area we rely on cell phones, antennas, boosters and other devices. I checked everything and couldn't identify a problem. As a last check I took the antenna mast down, removed the tape around the connector, unscrewed the connection, looked for signs of corrosion and reinstalled the antenna. The phone began working. The problem was a bad connection.

This weekend was the scheduled road pickup that occurs every six months. While getting a reflective vest and trash bags I met an elderly gentleman that I didn't know. I introduced myself and asked him about his cap which read "John Muir College Alumni". The college had been both a high school and a junior college. He had been associated with the school from 1946 until 1954. The college closed many years ago but he returned in 2004 for a fiftieth reunion. That's one of the nice things about meeting for the road pickup. We see people we haven't seen in a while and meet new people.

The weather was perfect. Earlier in the week we had snow showers and cold, windy weather. This weekend the temperatures were about 70 degrees with cloudless skies and a slight breeze. It was ideal weather to work in the garden. I finished filling the garden beds and placed both cisterns where I can gravity feed the beds. The winds had been so strong lately that one cistern had moved over 50 feet from where I unloaded them. They weigh 336 pounds empty but are eight feet in diameter and seven and one half feet tall so the wind has a large surface. As soon as possible I want to get at least 50 gallons of water in each of them to make sure another wind storm doesn't move them.

We watched two episodes of a BBC production of Charles Dicken's "Our Mutual Friend". Quite enjoyable. Two other enjoyable items were Julie's creations. She made falafels for one meal and brownies -- black bean brownies. I would never have guessed the brownies had no flour but were made with beans. Next weekend we have two couples coming for supper. She's planning on making the brownies again, serving them and asking for opinions. Afterwards she'll tell them the ingredients.

Actually, a fourth day wouldn't have made this weekend better but it would have made it longer. I would have liked that.


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

It seems to have been an interesting and refreshing time for you. I really didn't know you were quite that isolated.

4/20/2009 05:56:00 AM  
Blogger Malcolm said...

Even a four day weekend may be a day or two short (with all that activity going on)!

4/20/2009 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

Black bean Gods, man, if the feds ever get wind of this.........!

4/20/2009 07:27:00 PM  

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