Monday, October 5, 2020

Proper Name Plates for the Cats

When we put Chibi in the back yard (Zone 2), we had some difficulty determining where the various cats (Inari, Jita, and Pepper) were.  So it seemed that it would help if we had markers for each of them.

We found a place on Etsy that would manufacture brass name plates for us, UnbanDecor (you can reach them at and had them make up 5 name plates, for about $100 apiece:

Pepper, Inari, Neko Jita, Chibi, and Sasha.

(Neko Jita is Jita's full and proper name; Sasha is still alive, but at 17, it is expected she will need a name plate within a couple of years.)

 These are hand-cast brass name plates.  The hole on each end is perfect for a #8 screw.

We used the photos from the blog to locate the various cats and then marked on the house foundation wall where each name plate should go. 

Mounting the name plates was planned to be easy.  A hole would be drilled into the concrete foundation for the two screws for each name plate.  A plastic anchor would be inserted into the hole, and then a #8 round-head stainless steel screw would be put thru the hole and into the plastic anchor.  In addition, we would put "liquid nails", an industrial indoor-outdoor adhesive, on the back of the name plate.

The problem was drilling the hole.  The foundation is covered with a thin layer (maybe 1/4 inch) of mortar (parging).  I got a special drill bit specifically for drilling into concrete.  It went thru the parge easily, but would not, could not, make much of a dent into the foundation.  (I guess this is good -- we have a really strong, solid foundation.)

As a result, the liquid nails is the main thing holding the name plates in place.

From the left, the name plates are for Inari



and Chibi

We will go back another day and clean off our marks and possibly seal around each name plate with mortar, but we will give it some time for the liquid nails to dry properly.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Digging up the back half of the front yard, Part 5

 We used the jackhammer to break up the rock both in the trench, towards the street, and around the base of the stump.

This gets us to a level about 9 to 12 inches below the stump.

We can then continue to dig out the dirt from around the stump.

And slowly work our way around the stump.

Taking out rock and roots as we go.

until we have the stump and its roots pretty well exposed.

This produces both a lot of rock, which we are disposing of, and a lot of dirt.  The dirt gets mixed with leaves and grass, and then piled up.  Initially we were carting it up and onto the part of the front yard that has already been dug up, in the front.

but that area is pretty well filled up at this point, from the sidewalk to the street to the mailbox all the way back to where we are digging.  So we started to fill in a small corner of the trench which was pretty well done.

but now we have pretty well filled that area up too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Trouble with a Bradford Pear Tree

 Yesterday was a quiet and peaceful day, but when we got up this morning, there was a tree (branch) in our driveway!

The limb had just given way.

So, we used a pair of loppers and a chain saw to trim it all down and then cut it up.

This left a pile of branches and wood pieces that we will need to get rid of but it moved it off of the driveway.

We may need to do something to seal over the spot where it broke off, and the neighbor suggested we may need to take the next branch up from this off too, but for now ...

Digging up the back half of the front yard, Part 4

 Eventually, we got the basic trench all the way to the back of the yard, up against the wall that we built last year.

Now we turn and start digging along the wall to the other side of the tree stump.

And then we turn and dig towards the stump itself.

The top layer of dirt is what we brought in last year.  Below that is the mix of leaves and dirt that we dug up, and below that is the layer that the roots grow thru.  The roots have a relatively narrow layer of dirt to grow in, maybe 8 inches deep.  Below that is a layer of rock.  Crumbly rock, but rock. So if we dig into the 8 inches of dirt just above the underlying rock layer, we find the tree roots.

Removing the roots -- using an axe and a chainsaw as necessary -- gives us a thin layer of dirt to scrape off.

And shoveling that dirt out of the trench (and into the growing dirt pile by the street) exposes a layer of rock that we will need the jackhammer to break up and remove.

As we dug the dirt up and separated out the rocks, we added leaves and grass to increase the organic content of the dirt, trying to make it good soil instead of just plain dirt.  We got bags of leaves from the neighbors, but now have used all of those up.  We stored the leaves at the far end of the trench, but now it is fully exposed, and we see there is also a layer of rock to remove from the other end of the trench.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020



Chibi was one of Kathryn's cats, but developed cancer.  So she joins Inari and Jita and Pepper in Zone 2.

Zone 2 has filled out a lot since Inari and Jita were buried in 2014, but we continued along the kitchen/garage wall.  This put us into the Monkey Grass.

But Monkey Grass is resilient so we expect it will fill back in, over time.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Digging up the back half of the front yard, Part 3

 Digging up the rest of the front yard will be difficult.  There is no shade now that the tree has been cut down.  So we will need a sun shade.  Luckily, we have one left over from a beach trip about 20 years ago.

Then we can start digging.  First we need to find the sides of the area that we dug up before.  So we start digging in what we think is a corner of the part yet to be dug up, trying to find the edges.  We were badly off, but eventually we find what we think are the edges -- no big rocks in the dirt, the dirt is fairly soft to dig, and uniform in composition.

Now it's just day by day making this pit a bit larger.  Finding big rocks as we do and pulling them out.

Repeat and repeat.

Widening the hole.

Removing the rocks, and the dirt, and then digging further and deeper.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Window washing

Washed the windows today.  Or rather, finished washing the windows today.  It took two days to wash them, 17 the first day and 13 the second.

While the windows could all be washed from the inside, that would leave the screens as they are, so instead we washed them all from the outside first.  We used the Windex Outdoor.  Listed at Home Depot as "32 fl oz Blue Bottle Outdoor Sprayer", $7.98

We ended up buying two bottles.  The first bottle did the first 17 windows (four hours), then we had to go get another bottle to finish it off the remaining 13 windows (three hours), a week later.

We first sprayed each window down with just a jet of water as a pre-rinse.  Then we used the Windex Outdoor to spray it down with a "soap" solution.  We finished with another clear water rinse.  This was done outside, using a garden hose for water, so it went thru the screens to the outside of the windows.

Then, after all the windows were rinsed, washed, and rinsed on the outside, I went inside and (a) cleaned the inside of the window, using regular Windex, and then opened each window up to wash the outside, again using regular Windex.

I tried using a squeegee, but it left streaks, so mainly cleaned the outside and dried them with old rags, wash clothes and diapers.