Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Mutterings


My second World of Warcraft character hit level 90 this weekend. My Drenai Death Knight, Darkwylf, hit level 90 a few weeks ago. He flies through Pandaria with impunity. He mines the ore, skins the dead beasts and searches for the Lost Treasures of Pandaria.
My Worgen Druid, an herbalist, now flies the continent picking the various herbs and occasionally grabbing a Lost Treasure. In some cases he is the guy to send into the caves for the hidden treasures that occasionally appear because he can turn into a panther and go into stealth mode. My Death Knight has to beat the enemies to unmoving corpses.
Yeah, it sounds as if I like my DK. I do. I do. I admit there is a lot of satisfaction in having my toon avatar drop into a group of little animated non-playing characters and finally walking away with them all deceased - and neither of us break into a sweat doing it.

As opposed to real life… Darling and I spent Saturday putting four new garden beds in the back yard. I use the verb very loosely, since I exhausted myself early in the game and we had to hire some help to finish it all. Fortunately for me, Juan was available. He's the guy who made the stump of the second tree in our front yard disappear last summer and then spread the dirt and the sod. I was not in good enough physical shape to do that work then, and am not in good enough shape to put the four planting beds in the yard now.
I designed each bed to be eight feet long by a bit less than two feet wide and two timbers deep. I was undecided about the width actually. I thought if I did three cuts on an eight-foot landscape timber I'd have four pieces just a blade width shy of two feet. If I wanted the beds to be about seven-foot six inches long I could then make them just shy of two feet wide by using the full length of the ends. I could sister some boards on the ends for support. If I inter-locked the timbers, I'd have a length of seven and a half feet and a width of about a foot and a half, but it would look better and have more structural integrity in the long run.
Of course, that was the plan in my head. I'd rather minimize the cuts, so for four beds I would only need twelve cuts and I should be able to physically manage that before I exhaust myself.
Darling had the yard guy trim the grass along the fence line down to almost dirt level on Thursday. Darling and I laid out some of that black weed-blocking matting in each of the 8' x 2' spots first thing Saturday. A nice guy across the street, Louis, was doing some yard work for our neighbor. He took a few minutes to look at what we planned to do. First he recommended that we double the mat material. He said it is typically pretty useless, but might help if we doubled it.  After some discussion with him, we also cancelled the dirt and mulch we ordered. We just didn't need enough for a delivery. I guessed about one and a half cubic yards of dirt, but it really wasn't a guess. If you estimate six inches deep, you have:
Forget about the mulch. Our last house required a half truckload of mulch each spring. I can bring bags in to do the mulch at this house. Sadly, Louis is booked solid and doesn't have the time to help us with our yard.
About ten-thirty we thought Juan wasn't coming, so I headed off to Home Depot for the timbers - in my Toyota Camry. That car is amazing. I squeezed ten eight-foot landscape timbers in the car with both back seats down and passenger front seat as far forward as I could pull it (cramping my leg in the process, I might add, since I had such a hard time exiting the vehicle). They were pressed in pretty tightly. I would not have been able to get eleven in there, that's for sure. No bags of dirt, and I was pretty frustrated finding the timbers, so I was just glad to be out of there.
On the way home I grabbed a couple burgers from BK. No doubt, this is part of the reason I am not in good enough shape to do my own yard work.
I got home and we were almost done with the burgers when Juan showed up. Darling gave him the fries (which I didn't want, but I sure wanted the drink) and made him a PB&J sandwich.
We unloaded ten timbers (of the twenty estimated requirement) to the back yard. Juan carried four at a time. He always does that sort of thing. I'll carry just one or two, thanks. An impromptu design discussion ensued and the plan changed slightly but significantly.
We're now going to wedge the planting beds in between the existing fence posts. Now every timber has to be cut. I measure it and calculate six foot six inches and since we're redesigning for less length, I figure we want two solid feet of dirt, so the width now changes to two feet six inches. I'll need twenty-two timbers, since I'll only be able to get three ends out of a timber now. Instead of a simple twelve cuts total, we'll need to make thirty-two total cuts.
I have my little circular saw. It runs on a battery - how amazing is that? I don't have an electric saw, for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t do much wood work. Secondly, BR, probably the greatest father-in-law ever (well, for nine years) had a fantastic workshop and he spoiled me rotten. Hence, back to the first reason.
Darling and Juan headed off to Home Depot in Juan's truck. I started cutting.
Of course, six feet six inches wasn't quite right. It needed to be another half-inch shorter since the landscape timbers were a bit more than three inches at the center. Are you following all this? Another cut.
By the time Juan and Darling returned I barely had the first box built, the saw battery was exhausted and I was thinking that I am entirely too old and out of shape to be doing any of this stuff. And I'm getting sunburned. None of the timbers were cut for the second box.
Juan went home and got his tools and he took over. Occasionally I got up and drove some of the landscape nails into the timbers. I dumped a few bags of dirt (estimated by Juan at five bags/bed, but that's probably a bag too many). Each bag is 1.5 cu ft, but the beds are not eight foot long now. It's good dirt, though, so it won't go to waste.
We had a few scraggly tomato plants
The first box (mine) is two feet wide. Juan made the second one smaller, using only one timber for all four ends and not overlapping the timbers in the corners. He made the rest of the boxes like the first box.
By the end of the day, Darling had four planting boxes. We still aren't sure what we're planting in them, but certainly squash, tomatoes and cucumbers.
I planted myself on the couch for the rest of the weekend, every movement a little bit hurtful to stressed muscles. I'm still limping today, actually.
Do I sound out of shape? Yes. Do I feel badly about that? Most certainly. An office job doesn't prepare me for manual labor and I don't do any exercise to enable me to do rigorous work. I did build the first raised bed box, and it looks the nicest. I could still have done all the work; it just would take me four days - or four weekends, since I'm still employed.  The boxes are done, though. Thanks Juan.
My Death Knight did go on a killing spree Saturday evening to make me feel better.

We watched some of the Master's tournament on Sunday. Golf isn't really tedious to watch; baseball is harder. Golf skips the boring parts and shows only the players taking the shots. The Augusta course is gorgeous. I watched a little baseball and there is still a lot of chatter and non-playing time. That's why all my friends twenty years ago watched basketball.
We started watching the Master's while we ate lunch at BJ's. I really like their Jambalaya. When we got home we watched golf a little more. Since Darling is a good golfer she is able to appreciate some of the fine shots the players made during the tournament. I could appreciate that I'd never be able to make such shots. I did love watching Angel Cabrera play; he had a wonderful time and it showed. Congratulations to Adam Scott, the first Master's winner from Oz.
If Tiger hadn't hit that pin and then was penalized for another poor drop, he might have been a contender for first place too. Glad to see he's back, though.
Thorbjorn Olesen came in tied for sixth at four under par for the tournament. Yeah, I don't have to mention it, but what an awesome name! Thunder Bear.
Rory McIlroy and Bernhard Langer both finished far down in the lists, at two over par for the tournament. I like their names, too.

We watched Ice Castles Sunday on television. This was the 2010 remake of a 1978 movie with Robbie Benson. If you're like me you are confusing that one with another skating picture, The Cutting Edge which was made in 1992, 2003, 2006 and 2008. Ice Castles has a girl figure skater who hits her head and goes blind, then (of course) makes a skating comeback. The Cutting Edge is the one with the ex-hockey player teaming up with a figure skater to skate as a team.
Yeah, it was okay and I liked the acting, but we followed it up with Unknown, which is more up my alley.
Don't forget about the premier of Defiance tonight. I hope it's a good show. I've been disappointed recently in new shows.

And today is tax day. We cut it close, but our accountant filed electronically for us a couple weeks ago. I might be able to do my taxes, since it doesn't require heavy lifting, but the myriad of required forms it too daunting. I don't want to be a tax guy.
I am thinking of writing another book, though, as a sort of sequel to The Fiscal Cliff. I'm thinking of calling itThe Fiscal Chasm. It's really dark at the bottom of a chasm, and that's where I think we're all heading financially in the USA. I'll ponder that.
My Darling Daughter sent me a short essay on her first interaction with Frau and I will see if she lets me put it in my book. I really liked it, though I doubt Frau liked me as much as the essay implies. The working title remains The Frau Chronicles and there is a lot of new material in the book that hasn't been seen before. The book title will probably be She Bit Her Own Butt: My Mother-in-Law Misadventures. We're moving closer to completion on that one every day. I'll keep you posted.
Now, what can we plant in four little beds? 

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