Self-Appointed Handy-Man Neighbor

I don’t know about any of you, but I love it when a neighbor or friend calls and needs some help with a job. Plus it gives me a break from this new garden I have been putting in.

Oh yeah, there I am… Alright maybe a couple or 30 years ago, but who’s counting?

My Neighbor’s New Project

My wife and I get along very well with all of our neighbors and we live in a pretty typical suburban neighborhood where everyone on our street knows everyone. Except for the house directly to the left of ours. It’s a couple that looks like they are in their mid 30’s but no one knows anything about them. They kind of keep to themselves and I have never gotten more than a hello and small nod whenever I’ve tried to talk to them. I respect that though and know some people aren’t as neighborly as the rest of us. But that’s beside the point.

Can anyone else not get enough of grumpy cat?

So my neighbor, Michelle, two houses down the street is a divorced woman in her 30’s living with her two young daughters that are 5 and 9. Could you imagine raising two little girls on your own? God knows I couldn’t so any help that this woman needs I am more than happy to give her a hand.

Well I can’t feel too bad for her because she was always the bread winner in the family and does very well for herself. I never really asked for too many details on her divorce but I know her husband didn’t work so I am assuming that had a lot to do with it. So anyways, she decided to have a built in pool put in last year and this year she decided it would probably be a good idea to have a fence built to help stop her two little ones from getting in when she isn’t around. She didn’t want to drop another fortune on some fancy fence and wanted to still keep it open so she decided to just get a temporary one that she, or should I say I, can take out in a few years when her daughters are older. So she went with this mesh fence that looks like the ones this Orlando Pool Fence Company sells. It isn’t really the prettiest fence you can get but it gets the job done.

Harder Than I Thought

Sooo when I looked online a little bit on how to install one of these things it looked real easy and very self explanatory but turns out it was a little harder than I anticipated. I guess the fence itself wasn’t that bad but she wanted it as close to the pool as we could get it and around the edge is cement so drilling the holes hasn’t been a walk in the park.

For anyone out there that has never drilled holes in concrete, let me tell you that it is as hard as it sounds. You really have one shot at it and if you mess it up, you have a possibility of ruining the entire project and costing you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Luckily, this isn’t my first rodeo so I knew what I was doing but as I am getting older it just isn’t as easy as I remembered it.

Michelle was an absolute angel and hung outside with me the whole time I was working barbecuing burgers and always making sure I had a beer in my hand. After a couple hours I think she started to feel bad that she put this load of work on me and by the end of the day she was practically begging me to let her call in the company to finish the job. I don’t think she believed me when I told her I was actually really enjoying her company and that I love doing projects like this. Maybe I should have told her about this blog to give her a little more peace of mind…

Tomorrow should be enough time for me to finish the fence and then I can move on to finishing the garden. Stay tuned to see how they turn out!

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And The Trees Are Gone

Well That Was Fast

So if you read my last post you know that my wife wants a garden put in our back yard and we had to have 2 trees taken out to put it in. They were big, really big. I’m not sure exactly what kind they were but they had huge thick branches with leaves on them so they weren’t pine trees or anything like that to give you an idea of what they were. I usually don’t like doing it, but we had to call some professionals to come in and take care of the job for us. I wasn’t about to throw my back out or break my old hip with my brother trying to do it ourselves.

These Guys Were Amazing

Now we have had tree guys come out and take out a big tree a few years ago and I guess I don’t really remember it that well because I couldn’t believe how fast these guys got our two trees out this time around. It only took 2 days at about 4 hours each and the mess was totally gone. I couldn’t believe how big the roots were in these things and how these guys managed to clean everything up so well was mind blowing. For anyone out there that is considering trying to take out a tree on their own I’m gonna give you a little advice and tell you to get some experts out there to do it. Seriously, it really didn’t cost as much as I thought it would and it was worth every penny.

Now Onto the Garden…

Now that the trees are gone and the hard part is out of the way I got the ball rolling on this whole garden thing today. The tree care guys filled up the holes where the trees were so now it is just a big patch of dirt in the middle of our backyard which is perfect for what my wife wants to do. The size is actually just what we are looking for and the garden is going to be roughly 4′ wide and 12′ long. I got the wood and everything that I need today at Home Depot and got started. I should have it done within the next couple of days. I thought digging into the dirt where the trees were was going to be a  lot harder but we told the guys what we were planning to do after they left and they helped out a lot by not packing the dirt in too much and left it pretty soft for me to tear into.

I want it to be about a foot into the ground to make sure it’s completely stable and although it doesn’t sound too deep or hard to do, it kind of becomes harder to do with every section that I finish.

I might post a few pictures of my progress over the next couple of days but I don’t really like posting personal pictures of my home on the internet. Call me a paranoid old man but I just don’t like how easily anything can be looked up online. Not that anyone could really do something with just a picture but I still feel uncomfortable about it… Do I just need to get with the times?

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And the Next on the List Is…

“Sweetie… Wouldn’t it be Nice to Have a Garden in the Backyard?”

Well the next project on my wife’s list has been chosen and it looks like we are about to make room for our new garden.

Here is my wife’s perfect world… I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a hat like that.

I am actually all for this one. We have these two huge trees in our backyard and I always have kind of liked them but as I am getting older, they make mowing the lawn a lot harder than it needs to be so I am totally on board with getting rid of them. Plus, I am not about to try and take out two enormous trees on my own. At first I kind of wanted to just have them cut down or trimmed to get them out of the way a little bit. You really can cut a trees size in half and have it still look good. Click here to see some of the things professional tree guys can do. The more I thought about it though, the more I just wanted to get rid of them for good to save the trouble of doing this all again in the future for us or the next people to live in this house.

So having the trees removed won’t be too much of an issue. I am not going to even pretend like this will be a project that I can take on by myself so I am going to skip that whole process and pre-planning and just go straight to the experts. I don’t really know how much this one is going to cost me since these ones are a decent amount bigger than the one I had taken out years ago, plus there are two of them. Seeing my wife happy though is worth every penny, right? Trust me; it is.

After the Removals

So when we had our other tree removed a few years back, we just replanted grass over where it was so there really wasn’t much work to do once it was gone. Building a garden however will be a little trickier but this part of the job I can definitely handle. This is the idea that I am going for but obviously on dirt where the trees are planted now and not on gravel or rock that this picture has.

It doesn’t look too fancy and gets the job done for what my wife wants to do. She doesn’t want to do anything too crazy and is just planning on putting in some herb plants and maybe a few small plants or trees for fruit.

I remember my mom used to grow strawberries in our backyard when I was a kid and you really could taste the difference between ours and the grocery store. I wonder now if they really did taste better or if it was some kind of placebo effect. I kind of feel the same thing when I cook. For whatever reason (maybe I am a master chef and don’t even realize it), food always tastes so much better when you take your own time to cook and prepare it.

Alright I’m definitely turning into an old man because just talking about growing our own fruit is getting me kind of excited. I definitely want to put in strawberry plants when this thing is done. There will be no debate about that…


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There’s Always Something….

“Honey.. Don’t You Think We Should (fill in the blank)….

So being at home more and having a lot more free time from retirement, my wife has casually mentioned a number of little side jobs that she wants done around the house. I think the thought of this probably terrifies any of the guy readers out there and sounds horrible. I really don’t mind it though and kind of like doing these little projects. Keeps my mind sharp and my body going strong. Plus I know if I keep my wife happy, then I keep myself happy which just comes with this whole marriage thing.

So the next things on my wife’s to-do list, or should I say my wife’s husband’s to-do list, are:

  • Kitchen tiles
  • Bathroom sink
  • Finish laundry room
  • Take out 2 trees in back yard to make room for a new garden

I’m not too worried about any of these projects except maybe the tree thing… That one might be a little tricky by myself but I think I’m going to give it another shot. I think I’m going to get the sink out of the way. Getting a new sink really isn’t hard if you have any kind of grasp on simple plumbing. All you really have to do is make sure the plumbing pipes and valves aren’t damaged when you’re taking out the current one and it’s usually as easy as putting the pieces back together. Although it’s definitely a smaller plumbing job, it can be really bad and harmful if you don’t know what you’re doing. According to this howstuffworks article, plumbing makes the top 5 home improvement jobs that you shouldn’t do yourself so I’m sure it’s probably a little harder than I made it sound but for someone who has any kind of experience in this kind of work wouldn’t have a problem doing it. Buuuuut as I have mentioned before on here, I really don’t think the younger generations have any experience whatsoever in this kind of home improvement work.

The kitchen tiles won’t be hard but it will take a little bit longer than the trees and laundry room. We have hard wood floors in right now so we obviously have to take it out before moving forward. I have definitely put in new floors at different times in my life and putting them in really isn’t hard. Once you do all the measurements and get the right number of tiles and everything it really is as easy as placing the caulk down and placing the tiles. You obviously just have to make sure everything is even and what not but there really isn’t that much to it. My wife can’t decide on the style she wants so we’re in no rush to get this one done.

The laundry room won’t be hard. She says she wants whole new “walls” put in and new floors but I think I can get away with just replacing the wallpaper and maybe adding in wooden floors or maybe even more tiles from the kitchen. Alright maybe not the tiles, that might not work so well in a laundry room now that I type that out.

Will She Ever Be Content?

Now I truly and genuinely don’t mind doing these home improvement projects. Like I mentioned, I think it keeps my body going and I don’t want to waste away in a chair watching TV until I die.

But I can’t help but notice that as soon as I finish one project, my wife has 6 new things added to the list that she wants me to do. We haven’t talked too much about what we want to do with this house when it’s finally paid off (only a year and a half to go), but I know that she kind of wants to sell it and move into something smaller and just do some traveling together. I’m all for this but now that I am doing all of these improvements on the house and finally about to be finished paying for it, I don’t know if I want to leave. This is the house that I watched my kids grow up in and have so many memories in… This is my home.

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My Stump

Trees are Easy, Stumps are Not

Alright so I know that I said I like to do pretty much everything on my own when it comes to home improvements and things of that nature. And I know I also said my roofing disaster was the only time I got outside help.

I lied.

So after writing that post it got me thinking about another time I needed a little bit of assistance and there was no way I would have ever done it by myself. Well the second part of the job anyway.

So we always had this enormous tree in our backyard and one year my wife finally convinced me to chop it down. I kind of liked the tree, and pretty much any kind of nature for that matter and did not want to cut it down. But she’s my wife and we all know where this story is heading.

(My wife would kill me if she saw me put this)

We of course decided together that we were going to take it down (I took a little bit of convincing; I didn’t back down immediately). Hey, can you ever have too much firewood in the winter? So me and my brother made a day out of it and had some fun with our chainsaws for a few hours. Then it started to seem like the tree was never ending and we would never have it finished. But after hacking away and a twelve pack of miller lite later, we had finished.

So the years went by with warm fires and everything was great. Until one day my wife comes up to me and asks if I think it would be a good idea to get rid of the stump that was left from the giant tree. By this point I have learned that when my wife asks me if something is a good idea, it means we are doing it.

demotivational poster WOMEN

I’m really risking my life with this post but couldn’t resist.

Now I have done my fair share of yard work and various cutting of bushes throughout my life, but I had no idea where to even begin when it comes to stumps. My first thought was to just start digging around it and eventually pull it out with my truck. After doing some research I came to the conclusion that this probably wasn’t the best route to take and that I was probably going to need a little help on this one. Found this company in Fort Wayne and decided to take the call to action and have a professional come out take care of it for me. Hey, I’m retired and deserve a little break here and there right?

So long story short, there is absolutely no way I could have ever managed to pull of that job by myself in the prime of my life let alone at my ripe old retired age. I’m glad I’ve kind of learned to let a lot of things go as I’ve gotten older. I definitely used to be quite the stubborn man, especially when it came to doing work like this. I don’t know if it’s maturity or being married, but I’m happy with it.

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Retirement. All it’s Cracked up to Be?

So I had a lot of mixed feelings in the coming months of my retirement. All of which were terrifying. Everyone around me was very encouraging and excited for me; assuring me that the best times of my life were about to ensue. I just couldn’t get that voice out of my head whispering questions like these:

  • Am I going to be bored out of my mind?
  • Is my life basically over?
  • Am I going to rot away in a chair?
  • Is my family already researching which old person home I’m going to be going in?

The voice in my head got louder as the day approached and even though I had been looking forward to that day my entire life and worked so tirelessly hard for. I kind of started to panic. I felt as though I had been given the death sentence and I was counting the days down til it was over… What is my last meal going to be? Is my family going to be in the viewing room as I am put down? Is this it?

Almost Lost it All

So before I tell you if any of these worries came into fruition, let me tell you about how I almost lost everything I had worked so hard for.

So as a union worker, I was given a pension when I first started and worked countless hours of overtime over the years to build it up as much as I could for my family. So as the economy started to tank about 7 years ago, fellow workers of mine that had been by my side for years were starting to get laid off. Now mind you, I was 3 months away from my retirement date as the guys started dropping.

I didn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t eat. I could not go one second in any given day without the thought of me being next in line for the unemployment line and the way our unions pensions were set up; next in line to see his pension being thrown away right in front of him.

I truly believe I had to have lost 3 years of my life from the stress that was building up inside me with each passing day. So long story short, I made it to my retirement date and the feelings that overcame me were indescribable. I made it and my pension was all mine and my family’s. To make it even crazier, the guy that took over my position after my retirement was laid off in the same month. Yes, I was less than a month away from losing it all and everything I had worked for my entire life. I don’t even want to think about what that would have done for my family. I still get the chills when I think about it.

So, How is It?

Well, I made it to the finish line and I know you’re wondering if it is all it’s cracked up to be. Well let me tell you; YES IT IS!!! 

Not trying to make anyone out there jealous or anything, but that picture is how I feel every day. Anyone out there reading this please if you take anything from my blog, have a retirement plan. It will be one of the smartest things you ever do; I promise. Check out if you have some free time.

So it’s been over 7 years now and there has not been one second that I haven’t loved being a retired family man. I get to spend time with my beautiful children and wife. I get to work on our house. I can take a vacation with my wife whenever I want (that I can afford of course; I’m not any richer). I can honestly say that I have 0 complaints about retirement and I have never been happier with my life. I never thought I would ever say something like that when I was in my 20’s but there’s no doubt in my mind that I still have the best times of my life ahead of me.

So for anyone reading this, please put some consideration into your retirement. It was the greatest thing I have ever done.

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DIY Attitude

Kids These Days

I’m really getting to that age where I see myself sitting on a rocking chair on my porch yelling at the neighborhood kids to turn down their darn music and to get off my lawn. Just going to throw it out there, I’m not quite that guy yet. The younger generations really don’t bother me (too much anyway) and I don’t think I’ll every be like Clint Eastwood’s character in Gran Torino. I guess I would say I am more worried about them then annoyed by them. I feel like everything is being handed off on a little satin pillow these days and no one is learning any new skills or hands-on working experience. Everything is about technology and sitting in front of a glowing screen all day just taking care of everything (even banking!!) online. Am I insane to think people are crazy to do their banking online? Maybe I am getting too old…

Slowly Becoming the Lazy is Good Generation

I guess what I am trying to say is that we are raising a generation to be lazy. I would be willing to bet that 9/10 kids under the age of 18 wouldn’t have the slightest clue on where to begin if they needed to jump start a car with a dead battery. I was listening to a radio show the other day, and hand to God one of the members on the show called 911 because he had a flat tire. Read that again and let it sink in. Want to know the worst part? They actually sent an officer to help him. That sounds like a good use of our tax dollars. Let’s make an officer on the clock take the time to come and teach some dummy how to connect two matching colors together. Everything these days is a click of the phone or computer away to make all of your problems go away, and it’s only getting worse.

This will not be my kids, you can count on that.

My Roofing Disaster

So as you may have pieced together by now, I like to do as much as I can on my own and don’t like hiring people to do the work for me. It keeps the gears in my body and lord knows I’m not getting any younger as the days go by.

There was one time about 4 years ago that I did what I could until I threw in the towel and called for some help. To make a long story short, there was a very small portion of my roof that collapsed from the inside. It was a nightmare. My brother Phil and I worked for 3 days straight but just couldn’t get the insulation to cooperate so I did what everything in me stands against. I got help. My brother is just like me and has a lot of friends that are blue collar workers like us and knew some friends of a friend that came out to get me out of this mess. I almost went with and was hoping I wouldn’t need whole new insulation and thought I could basically patch it up. But that was definitely not the case and ended up dropping thousands of dollars to get it done. But who’s kidding who; it was kind of nice sitting back and watching for once.

I continue to try and keep my kids motivated and excited to learn new skills but with all the distractions and friends playing their video games all day, it might be harder than I thought.

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Taking Care of My Home

Hard Working Union Laborer

Growing up my father always taught me the value of hard work and what is to be a man. Pretty much my whole family (males) hold blue collar jobs and most of them were part of labor unions. I myself work for an electrical company and am part of a union myself. I am 100% for unions but am sad to see a lot of them are becoming what they are fighting I feel. I think a lot of people take advantage of the fact they are in a union and abuse the power that they have. This unfortunately is giving unions less credibility and really lowering their popularity among the public.

Hands-On Handy Man

I’m getting a little off track. If you didn’t catch the about me section of my blog, I am a 59 year old father of 3 who is still happily married to my lovely wife of 39 years. Everything I do is for my family and I would die in a heartbeat for any one of them. I work over time almost every week to build my pension up (which is a rare commodity these days) so that my family will be alright when I’m gone. I always knew I wanted to eventually be a father but didn’t know how much I would love it. I wish people who didn’t want kids could feel what I feel every day and understand what it means and how it feels.

Again, getting a little off track. So my father was always a very humble and hard working man, like myself. I really do see a lot of him in me and am so proud of everything he did in his lifetime. He always did work around the house himself and I really can’t remember any time that he had outside work come and do it for him. I don’t want to say he was a cheap man, but if it was possible to do it himself he would do it.

I have taken on the same mentality and learned a lot about fixing things around the house from him. The only thing I have called in for outside help is for our roof, but that will be a whole other blog post. I really do enjoy staying busy and once our house is payed off, it will all be worth it. The value of a home goes down exponentially when things on the inside aren’t perfect and I am going to make sure that doesn’t happen to me, especially in this economy.

Technology These Days

When I was a kid, there wasn’t such a thing as this whole internet thing. Kids these days do not understand how lucky they are and it amazes me how much information is out there at your finger tips. For example last night I was browsing the internet and watched this video:

You can find a video like this for just about any job that is needed around the house. It amazes me how much money people waste on things like this when there are online tutorials everywhere! Well stay tuned for some first person experience on doing jobs around the house and yard that will hopefully help someone out there.


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