Monday, December 21, 2009

DIY around the house

When we bought our house in June and moved our office into it in August, I made a pledge to handle as much of the maintenance as possible. Not only does it save money, but it’s generally good for you to get outside and do stuff.

[This paragraph is not to be read by my wife Mary. The other cool thing about doing stuff yourself is buying the equipment and tools. So far, I’m up one miter saw with a laser guide, a Kreg pocket hole jig system, and a power washer.]

Our first project was to extend the railing on the front porch to include a hand rail for the steps. This is very important for a number of our clients and something that was missing at our old office.

With a new miter saw and a half dozen trips to the hardware store, we had the parts and gear necessary to assemble the railing. Mary painted it and we sank the bottom post into 75 pounds of Sacrete. It looks nice and improves safety.

Lawn maintenance was a tougher thing to do. Although I’ve cut lawns since I was a kid, it seems like more of a chore than most other tasks. Our lawn is too small for a riding mower and that would defeat the exercise aspect of DIY (do-it-yourself). I did get a new fertilizer spreader out of the deal though.

Then came the fall. And the leaves. And more leaves. And even more leaves. My leaf blower doubles as a leaf vacuum, which was very handy for getting leaves out of the places they tend to accumulate, like in corners and behind planters.

I decided the best strategy for the leaves on the lawn was to simply mow them up. I did that five times by the time the last leaves came down. I found a leaf vacuum by DR Power Equipment that is going on my wish list for next year. See it here.

With the leaves off the trees, gutter cleaning time was upon us. When I saw the amount of sediment in the gutters, I decided to try something different. Up I went on the ladder carrying my pressure washer hose. I aimed it down the gutter, pulled the trigger, and two inches of muck and leaves blew out of the gutter. Each blast cleaned about eight feet of gutter.

Of course, the muck didn’t just vaporize, but the clean up wasn’t that bad. What fell on the driveway, I just power washed onto the lawn and mowed it up the next day after it dried.

That brings me to this past weekend’s snowstorm. I’ve been waiting anxiously for the first decent snow to put my snow blower to work. We picked it up as part of the deal when we bought the house. It has an eight-horsepower motor with a 27-inch wide, 19-inch tall scoop, six forward gears and two reverse gears.

By Sunday morning, we had about 16 inches of snow on the ground with some drifts a lot deeper than that. I was in snow blowing heaven. It took me three hours to clear our 200-foot driveway and parking area and it was stilling snowing a little when I came in to watch the not-so-mighty Patriots beat the hapless Bills for the twelfth time in a row.

This morning, I went back out to clear the area around our mailbox. There was an eight-foot wide, three-foot tall berm of ice and snow between the street and the mailbox created by the plow trucks. I contemplated shoveling it then imagined keeling over from a heart attack, being covered up by a passing plow, and not being found for a week. Hey, it’s happened before.

So I pushed the snow blower into the snow bank and tunneled until the roof caved in. I then backed it out and blew the rest of the snow out of the way. Repeating this process for about a half hour, I was able to create a pull-off for the mail carrier.

The final task was to clear a path for the oil delivery guy around to the back of the house. These guys do appreciate not having to trudge through knee deep snow dragging their filler hose to a spout that’s buried under a four-foot snow drift.

Most of that snow was at the top of the snow blower scoop, which means we got a total of about 19 inches from this early winter storm. Correction: The Winter Solstice wasn’t until today, making this big east coast storm technically a really late fall storm.

To all of our friends in Florida: Eat your hearts out. What did you do this weekend? Golf? You’re missing all the fun.

Copyright 2009 Randy Hunt


  1. Did you hear about the guy who broke his arm raking leaves? He fell out of the tree

  2. Your snow blowing was quite impressive.

  3. Just so everyone knows, there is no hidden message, second meaning, or a euphemism in our state rep's comment above. He simply appreciates a well done snow blow job.


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