Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dirt Track

We've gone from Sink Hole to Dirt Track in a matter of a few days!  The sink hole is fixed, thank goodness!  J&J did a great job of installing the new pipe!

They had to take down the fence in the back of our property to remove the old rusty pipe.

The new plastic pipe should last forever, or at least as long as we live here.  It is smooth on the inside too so water will not stand in the ridges like it did in the corrugated metal pipes.

Getting the new pipes positioned took some finesse, but these guys really seemed to know what they were doing!

They sloped the pipes more toward the creek to get better water flow so we will be less likely to have another problem.

Once they got everything covered up, the yard was in pretty sad shape.  We had very little grass left and there was a hump in the middle where the previous owner had built a putting green.  We discussed it with Jerry and decided that he would smooth over the entire yard and make it slope toward the corner to avoid future drainage problems.

So, what little grass we had left has been decimated, so now we can rival Dixie Speedway with our dirt track!

We got a bid for landscaping and we are still reeling from the cost.  Right now, the dirt is looking pretty good.  Maybe we could just spray paint it green.

We'll keep you posted, but if you come over for a party in the backyard, be sure to bring your mud stompin' boots!

Friday, August 7, 2015

SINK all of your money into this HOLE (Days 1 & 2)

I noticed that one side of our yard was sinking!  It had been happening for several years but we decided to ignore it.  The sinking ground was worse around the storm drain that we thought was the responsibility of the county Waste Water Management department.

I called the county & they sent Glenn Oliver out to take a look.  Glenn said the drain must have been installed by the builder because the county pipe would have been 4 feet in diameter and ours was only 2 feet. Glenn said we could have the pipe replaced with a 4 foot pipe at our own expense (around $20K) and then they would send an inspector out. If it passed inspection, they would take over the maintenance of it.  This would also require taking out all of the landscaping & trees between our house and the neighbor's. That didn't seem like a viable option to us.

We considered ignoring it for a few more years, but one day, I got bored and got out a shovel and started to dig.  I found that the 2 foot drain pipe had a large crack where it connected to the drain.  I also found one of the small drains coming from the gutters was broken. It didn't look too daunting and I thought maybe we could repair it ourselves.  I kept digging and that's when I found an underground cavern about 2 feet deep 2 feet below the ground. I decided that this was going to be beyond my ability to repair.


Our friends Chris & Brandon had just dealt with a much bigger sink hole problem at their house so we solicited their advice.  They recommended J&J Landscape & Tree Services here in Smyrna.  Judy came out and gave us a quote that included digging out the area, fixing the drain, and filling with 3 loads of fill dirt. We paid them half and got on their schedule for a few weeks down the road.

The day came & Jerry showed up with the excavator. The first hurdle was getting it into the back yard. Our house was built too close to the lot line so there wasn't much room to maneuver.

Surprisingly, he got it into the backyard without even taking out any of my tomato plants. Not that it would have mattered. My tomato plants have not produced much this year. He did do a bit of damage to my rosemary bush.

Jerry started by digging around the drain area where he found a bit of construction debris, but nothing of any major concern.

At the end of Day 1, we didn't think we had a huge problem.  We just needed to dig out around the drain & fill it back in. (*When I say "We", I mean me, watching from the shady porch, and some hard working men!)

A little more digging revealed that there was water coming from somewhere. One of the workers speculated that we had an underground spring.

More digging around the drain revealed that the water was seeping out from under the drain.

OK, so still no big deal, we (*see note above about "we") could just remove the drain, connect the two pipes and cover the hole back over, right?

Well, that would work, except that the pipes had rusted out, so we (*see note) would need to dig out the entire pipe and replace it all the way to the creek.  That's 120 feet of 30 inch pipe. The cost just keeps going up, up, up!  Oh boy!  We ordered the pipe but it won't be delivered until Monday, so, we wait.  (This "we" actually does involve me, since I had to pay for the pipe).

Meanwhile, if you want to come & play in our back yard, come on over!

We'll play on the Bobcat!

Enjoy your weekend!  Will post more Monday!

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Pediatricians' Ball!

My life-long friend and college roommate, Joyce contacted me on Monday to say that the Pediatricians' Conference would be on Amelia Island the following weekend. She asked if I would be on the island.  I hadn't planned to, but why not?  Especially when she said I could be her +1 at the President's Reception (which I chose to refer to as "The Pediatricians' Ball") at the Ritz.

I got up early Friday and caught the 7:25AM flight to Jacksonville, picked up the car and drove to Paws Awhile. I made a couple of stops in Yulee to look for some beachy looking towel hooks for the new bathroom (no luck). While I was out & about, I got a text message from my permanent Amelia Island resident girlfriends asking about meeting for lunch at Bar Zin. Of course I would!

Joyce had a couple of morning meetings at the conference but she was able to join us for a late lunch after which we walked on the beach and practiced playing bocce ball for the later tournament.  Terri, Eddie, John & Susan kicked our butts at bocce ball & then we had dinner at the Surf.

Saturday morning, Joyce and I rode our bicycles to the Ritz for her conference. She "valet" parked her bicycle and I rode on to the Ace Hardware to continue my search for towel hooks (success!).  On the way back to Paws Awhile, I spotted a neighborhood garage sale in Isle De Mai so I stopped by but nobody had any great bargains on anything I needed.

Back at home, I mounted my new towel hooks.  Aren't they cute?

Maybe not an optimal solution but given the amount of wall space I had left when the remodel was finished, it works pretty well.

When Joyce got back from the conference, we drove down to Sandy Bottoms for lunch with Terri and Eddie. Sandy joined us later. It was a beautiful afternoon feeling the cool breeze off of the ocean. The specialty drink of the day was a yummy peach bellini!

We got home in time to change into our formal attire for the Pediatricians' Ball.

We drove to the Ritz since it would have been difficult to bicycle in my formal gown! :)  I felt sure there would be a red carpet with paparazzi all around but no!

We were greeted by a roving waiter serving crab claws. We found our friend Sally (a past president & Pediatric Royalty). Note how the angle of the camera takes years off? A trick I learned from one of my older friends ;). Of course it also looks like we are down in a hole!

A few drinks later, we were tearing up the dance floor and then it was time for fun in the photo booth!

After the party, we wound our way back through the hotel and found an abandoned piano, so of course, we had to show off our talents. After all, our parents had spent a lot of money on those piano lessons. Impressive, hunh?
We stopped back by Terri & Eddie's on our way home for a night-cap and to tell them all about the ball.
Sunday, after a walk on the beach, Joyce left me & I spent the day watching old movies. I had thought I might get on the last flight back to Atlanta, but it looked like it would go out full so I didn't waste my time going to the airport.
Monday, I would have gotten on the 5:30AM flight but I didn't get up in time to go to the airport. I may try for the last flight out. It has gotten really hard to fly stand-by in and out of Jacksonville on the weekend. Thankfully I have no place urgent to be, so I can just play it by ear.
It was fun being an Honorary Pediatrician for the weekend!  Just call me Dr. Morris!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Paws Awhile - 2 BR 1 BA Condo

We're back to a 2 BR 2BA condo now, after the long awaited renovation!

We started talking about renovating the master bathroom at Paws Awhile in January. The contractor I was planning to use said he couldn't start until February. In February when I still hadn't heard from him, I called again and he said, maybe March. In April, when I still hadn't heard from him, I called Herb, the same contractor I had used for the kitchen/living room. Herb said he could start May 18th.  (I should have called Herb to begin with since I know he does good work and he is dependable, but I really liked my friend's shower so I thought I would try her contractor).

As soon as Herb committed to a start date, I started tearing out whatever I could that would still leave the bathroom functional. I scraped the popcorn off of the ceiling and removed the baseboard molding. I also removed part of the half-wall that was supporting the sink.

We came and went several times during the months that followed, having to live with the ugly exposed edge of the linoleum, marred ceiling and exposed wood.

I was so excited when Herb sent me a text to confirm our May 18 start date!!!  Lucy and I flew to Jacksonville Sunday morning to make sure we were there to meet Herb Monday morning. Since I had an entire day at the condo to myself, I decided to start the tear-out. I got the toilet, vanity & linoleum up without any problem.

I decided to leave the tub tear-out to Herb and his team.  I should have also left the clean up for them because when I carried the old lumber (with rusty nails sticking out) to the dumpster, I managed to snag my arm with a rusty nail.  I probably could have used a couple of stitches, but I was channeling my father who used to say, "Aw, it ain't nuthin' but a scratch" when he would have a gushing bleeding gash. I put a band-aid on it and finished the job.

Monday morning, Herb showed up bright and early. We reviewed the plans for the new shower, flooring, pocket door and fixtures. He had two helpers, John & Barney, with him. John cut up the fiberglass tub to remove it while Barney did some sheet rock repair.  

Barney also uncovered the wall next to the existing swinging door and exposed the area where an old pocket door used to be!  This would make it easier to install a new pocket door since some of the framework was still in place.

Tuesday, Herb came to do the plumbing while John & Barney continued to do sheet rock repair & install the new door. Herb had to turn off the water to the units above ours while he installed the valves for the new shower. The lady upstairs was not too happy about that!

Wednesday, while I drove to Jacksonville to pick up the tile, Herb & Barney worked on framing in the new shower, getting the new pocket door installed and finishing the sheetrock repair. I decided to go to Costco as long as I would be in Jacksonville. My route to both places took me all the way around the perimeter of Jacksonville.

When I got back, the guys had made some progress so I was starting to see what the finished product would look like.

Meanwhile, I picked out a new shower door.  A sliding door will work best for our small space. We just have to wait for it to be delivered to the Yulee Lowe's store.

Herb is very concerned that I will be disappointed in the amount of shelf space that will be available, but I think any shelf space is better than no shelf space! My new shelves will be just over 8 inches wide, but deep and tall!

Thursday, while John & Barney were downstairs working on building the shelving unit, I heard dripping in the bathroom. It turned out to be a toilet leak from the upstairs condo.  Thank goodness we discovered it before the tiling started!

The shelving unit to the right of the shower had to be built in 2 pieces so it would slide in past the toilet plumbing. Barney got the bottom half in without any problem. Herb and John worked on getting the shower pan ready.  I had to run an errand and when I got back and opened the door, the condo was filled with smoke!  Herb's drill motor had burned up while trying to stir the mortar for the shower pan!

Friday, Tony and Lola drove down from Atlanta. They got here in time to have dinner at the Surf. Herb's accomplishment for the day was to finish tiling the floor of the shower.

Saturday, Herb built the seat and started tiling the wall.  He got the nook finished for the shampoo and soap.

Sunday, the resident manager at the Sand Dollar Villas asked us to try to be quiet, so Herb couldn't run the tile saw. We used the day to have him move the outlet, run the cable through the wall and mount the TV. Now we can get rid of that ugly TV stand!

We also had him add an outlet to the closet so we could keep our rechargeable vacuum cleaner plugged it and out of sight! In a condo that is less than 800 square feet, it is essential to take advantage of every square inch!

Monday & Tuesday, more shower tiling was completed.  We were starting to get frustrated with how long the project was taking, but we really liked the way the accent tile turned out!

We had taken the ferry over to have lunch at Safe Harbor in Mayport and then stopped for drinks at Singleton's Seafood Shack. When we got home, Herb told me that he was short one bull-nose tile so I had to turn around and drive an hour back to Floor & Decor in Jacksonville to get more tile. While I was waiting for my tile order, I looked at facebook and saw that I had a message from my old Delta classmate (and roommate). She was in Fernandina Beach!!! I had not seen her in over 20 years so I hurried back to the island, picked Tony up & met her and her husband at Brett's Waterway Cafe for drinks. We had a great time catching up!

Wednesday, Herb had an emergency job somewhere else so he sent John over to do some sanding & get the backer-board installed on the bathroom floor.

Once the sanding was done and the dust was no longer flying around, I got out the paint and did a little refreshing of the bi-fold closet doors. They had probably been white at one time, but over the years, had yellowed. I HATE painting, and bi-fold doors are the WORST!!!

Thursday morning during our sunrise walk on the beach with Lucy and all of her friends I found a big shark's tooth fossil!


Later, while Tony was kicking my butt in bocce ball on the beach, Herb was busy tiling the bathroom floor.  I LOVE my tile!  It looks like the sandy beach!

Friday was Grout Day!  Herb brought Jo Ann to do the grouting and some of the finishing work.

Jo Ann ran out of grout about halfway through the job. I didn't want to make the 2 hour round trip to Floor and Decor to get more of the matching grout so I thought I could get some at Lowe's or Home Depot to match. We needed Unsanded Grout because of the small grout lines. Lowe's didn't have anything in the right color, but they had some "mix-it-yourself" colors. We bought the base, 2 colors to mix and a bottle of additive. Then we went to Home Depot & bought the closest color we could find. When we got back, Herb mixed up the Lowe's alternative and decided that neither it, nor the Home Depot grout were a close enough match so it was off to Floor & Decor for me. I loaded up all of the extra tile to return as well.  When I got to Floor & Decor, wouldn't you know that they didn't have the same grout brand anymore. Thankfully, they had a chart showing which of the new brand matched the old brand so I was able to get a close enough match.

JoAnn stayed late and finished grouting while I went to the Surf for a final dinner with some of our friends who were heading home the next day.

When I got home, I was very pleased with the beautiful matching grout!

Saturday, Tony and Lola left at 6:30AM to drive home. Lucy was SO sad!  JoAnn painted the bathroom while Herb put a new exhaust fan in the guest bathroom.  It is so wonderfully quiet now, it no longer sounds like a jet plane taking off! Once JoAnn finished the painting, she left and Herb got back to work in the new bathroom. He put in a new exhaust fan, outlet and light switch and then got to work installing the new shower door! He broke a drill bit trying to drill through the porcelain tile but finally got through. The instructions for the door were subject to some interpretation so we put our heads together on a couple of steps. He finished the door except for the trim & it looks great. The only problem is that the header for the door obscures the decorative tile from certain angles (like the one I took this picture from.

Sunday, Herb and John moved the vanity in. It looks really BIG in the small space. I almost reconsidered my selection, but decided since it is free standing, if I change my mind later, I can always use this one in the guest bath.  Herb worked on the plumbing & a few other details. I thought he might finish the job, but when he left, there was still a good bit to do (like install the toilet)!

Monday, I decided that we were close enough to finished that I could go home to Smyrna.  I had been at the condo now for more than 2 weeks!  Herb thought he could finish the project but he got called away to another job so I had to leave it incomplete.  :( I put together a couple of panoramas so you could get an idea of what it looks like. The perspective is a little off, but you can get the idea!

There were a few things I didn't think through completely, the main one being that there is absolutely NO wall space for towel racks.  I'll have to figure something out about that, but overall, I am very pleased!

I'm finally back home in Smyrna, catching up on all of the things that need to be done here.  It's a bit overwhelming trying to keep 2 households running!  While I was gone, trees grew up in front of our DirecTV satellite dish so chopping down trees was PRIORITY ONE!!!

Of course, now I have the Monty Python song running through my head, "I cut down trees, I wear high heels, suspenders and a bra..."

Until next time...