Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Misty mornings, must-have tools, and the cleanest gutters in town!

This sunny, crisp fall weather has me energized and active - I wish it could stay like this all year round! I decided to make the most of the great weather by doing some much-needed maintenance around the yard. I'd already washed all the windows and screens and turned the last of the veggie beds under for the winter, but there were other tasks I've procrastinated on for a couple of years.

Ever since buying the house, I've had gutters that drip right by the front door and right in front of the gate - not very inviting to visitors on a rainy day, and darned dangerous when the temperatures drop below freezing. As well, the downspout right by my bedroom window was missing the top section and the resulting river of water pouring straight down onto the ground drove me crazy every time it rained.

What's wrong with this picture?

And then the fence between my side and back yards was falling apart, the gate no longer closed, and the gate post wobbled badly (of course, this could have something to do with its location next to the missing downspout!).

Old fence and gate tied together with twine

But first a walk to the ocean with Sadie. The Sea Walk was very frosty, so I opted not to go there as frost on old wood is incredibly slippery.  But the rising sun still made the walk to the wharf worthwhile:

Morning sunrise at Crofton wharf

Then off to Duncan to buy the materials for the day's projects. But enroute I get sidetracked when I come across a surreal scene of misty meadows - thankfully I have my camera in my bag:

Photos taken, materials purchased, and it's back home to work.

Over the years, I have become convinced there is some sort of code of secrecy among men when it comes to doing 'guy stuff' and the tools one needs. Yesterday, when I made a first run for some supplies,  I asked one of the Home Depot salesmen for some assistance selecting what I needed.  When I got home, I discovered they'd steered me wrong -  two wrong gutter parts and the wrong kind of cement for the post. And when I asked how to avoid denting the metal gutters with the ladder, I was told it would be fine, just put the ladder near the little spacers on the gutter.  NOT - been there, done that! What they didn't tell me was what I found out online last night - I needed these amazing, fantabulous, not-even-expensive  (Less than $30 including tax) things called ladder stand-offs, aka "painters' wings". How could I have not learned about these in forty years of cleaning gutters and putting up Christmas lights???  

Painters' wings

They are now one of my favourite tools - right up there with my power mitre saw. They made the job of cleaning the gutters a breeze - very stable, easy to work around, and no crushed gutters! I'm thinking the previous owner hadn't known about them either, because the gutters on the carport (where there is no wall to rest a ladder) looked like they had never been done - two inches of muck and a good inch of thick moss! Now my gutters are squeeky clean, and it took me less than two hours to do the whole house.

The cleanest gutters in town!

Once the gutters were cleaned, I scraped away layer after layer of four different types of sealant and re-did all the joints. Hopefully I did them well enough - my skills with the caulking gun and gutter sealant leave much to be desired. The new downspout is now properly attached (which is more than can be said for the existing downspouts, each one mounted to the cross piece with the screws facing the wrong way and therefore obstructing the flow of gunk! I guess next year I'll think about taking them all apart and doing them correctly.)

All fixed! 

I decided to salvage the gate post - it is sunk deep in the soil and the wood is still good enough for the little weight it has to support. I just dug a wide hole around its base and filled it with cement, attached my handy-dandy post level to get it 'just so', added some temporary support braces, and covered it with plastic to let the concrete cure. Charley inspected the work, and pronounced it a fine job.

Inspector Charley

If the weather holds, I shall build the fence and new gate tomorrow, or at least get a start on it. The cedar is piled in the yard, the power mitre saw just needs to be carried out of the shed, and my 18V Hitachi drill/driver and favourite Kiwi screws are at the ready.

Someone once told me that there are only two things a woman living alone must have to do any 'guy job' - duct tape and WD 40. If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape; if it doesn't move and it should, use WD40. That advice has served me well.  I think, though, that I would add a few more things to that 'must have' list - a power drill/driver, a power mitre saw and circular saw,  safety glasses, a bunch of screws, a ladder, and some painters' wings. Yup, that'll about do it. Unless you are setting fence posts, in which case a post level is mighty nice to have, too.

And with those few tools and some internet research, there ain't nuthin' we gals can't do!  I am woman; hear me roar!


EvenSong said...

You GO! Girl!!

MrsB said...

A woman also needs a pair of Vise Lock pliers to hold stuff tight...and they make good clamps if you have two pair!

Someone told me once I could survive a thermo-nuclear war if I kept said Vice Lock pliers, duct tape, WD 40, a screwdriver that had several heads and a pair of pantie hose in the car - hose and duct tape can do for an alternator belt in a pinch!

Jean said...

LOL! I have three pair of vice lock grips and have never figured out how to use them effectively! I do, however, have a vice on my work bench that I wouldn't be without, and a supply of C-Clamps which get frequent use.
Hmmmm...the list of 'must haves' keeps growing. Now I know why my dad had so many tools!

Pauley, the Mr. or the Mrs. said...

You are mighty handy. I have learned a lot while working on the foster house, but I still know next to nothing.

irene, S.Surrey said...

Lovely photos (as always). You're my hero. When I grow up I want to be able to do the things you do!!! ::-))

Funder said...

Love the surreal photos!

I keep thinking about putting up one run of gutters, but it's probably more trouble than it's worth. I get the snowmelt ice puddles by the west patio doors, but I think gutters would just fill up with ice and overflow. I've been just using the patio doors on the east, where the sun keeps things clearer.

Ladder standoffs are awesome! That post leveler is cool too - I just use a normal level, but that takes a lot more work to get a perfect post. If I ever go to wooden posts for my horse paddock I'm totally investing in a post leveler.

It's actually not a conspiracy against women. Men get the same horrible advice. The problem is that a lot of women lack all the words to adequately describe what they're trying to do, so the clerks don't really understand some crucial element of the problem. Or the clerk is just an idiot; that happens a fair amount too. :)

All of yall - if you have questions, try to patronize a small grungy hardware store. They almost always have clerks who really know stuff and are willing to spend the time to understand your problem. My little hardware store "held my hand" through piping the swamp cooler, replacing a frost-free faucet, wiring my hotwire fence, and more.

Anonymous said...

As an eyecare professional I am so happy to hear that you had your safety glasses .... if I had a dime for every handyMAN I have seen post-accident that didnt !!

Glad to hear things are going so well for you - been awhile since we said hello .... so Hello !

xo Katherine and Possum

Karen said...

We have a massive workshop at the new place, full of cool stuff that I have no idea how to use...I may have to learn! The new house is gutterless, as are most Cariboo houses.

Thanks for your lovely words about Jasper. I miss him terribly.