To further mask the hideous concrete retaining blocks out back, the plan is to stucco the front-side to create a uniform finish. First step is to attach metal lathing. Applying stucco to concrete is a bit non-traditional–probably because it’s a pain in the arse. So far I’ve put about 150 tapcon screws into the concrete to secure that lath. Not much fun.
The plan is to start actually applying the stucco this week…we’ll see how that goes…


Here’s the ambitious start to mask the ugly retaining wall in the backyard. Started off by hooking up some form boards out of plywood:
Check out the fine craftsmanship:
Then came 31 bags of concrete–2480 lbs! All hauled by the mighty Matrix:
My day-laborers at work:
Then some rain that wasn’t explicity in the forecast started to fall and that complicated things a bit. Some massive tarps from Costco came through in a big way, though.
Now just need to let it dry without Zizou sticking his nose in it. Big props to the father-son helpers that ran/stole the show!

House Numbers

In my boldest home improvement project since the glowing doorbell, it was time to upgrade the house numbers. I’ve long admired these numbers–but if you look at the price you can see the obvious problem. Through Lowe’s I was able to get some numbers that satisfied me and at a total cost of $12.
old-numbers.JPG new-numbers.JPG
FYI: left=old and right=new. I swear the new 4 is crooked, but my level and tape measure aren’t backing me up.

Plumbing Gaffe

After suffering through mere 3.1 surround sound for long enough, I finally went outside and ran some in-wall speaker wire for the two rear satellite channels. Basically, I ran the speaker out the wall behind the stereo receiver to outside and back into the house where I was mounting the speakers.
Several weeks pass after finishing this project and the guest bathroom toilet I never use was flushed. I was summoned from downstairs that the “speaker is raining”. Sadly, this rain might otherwise be called sewage.
I pulled out a drywall saw and uncovered just what I had done:
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The picture really does speak for itself. But after the application of some space age epoxy, the hole in the PVC was plugged. Then after the patch-up job, we come to the much prettier:

Note: this entry will be deleted when/should I decide to sell the house. Potential buyers don’t need to know about these skeletons.

Finally…a Gate!

It was a long time in the coming, but I finally banged together a gate in the garage and hung it up out back.
Also put together some stairs to climb up onto the deck from the side of the house.
gate stairs.JPG
Props to Artistic Iron Works in Saskatchewan where I purchased the gate frame and stringers. Unbelievably nice folks and awesome accents, to boot. I still have to mask some steel brackets and finish staining but the fence is one big step closer to being completed. There are two openings still featuring plastic temporary fencing which I’ll fill in some day or another. .. ,,

Deck Repair 101

Swiped my parent’s camera over Thanksgiving so I’m back in business…
The deck was rather shoddily designed with an enormous gap that your foot could fall into and your ankle in turn snap.
deck before.JPG
So I popped out the two deck planks nearest the wall and sistered on some 2×8 pressure-treated boards to the existing joist. Then measured and cut the new deck planks and the gap was gone.
Here’s what we’re looking like now (I probably could have raked the leaves before taking the picture):
deck after.JPG
I have to say that this is the project I’m quite self-congratulatory about. Plus, it only set me back about $35. And might save me a lawsuit at the next summer BBQ. And before said BBQ, the deck will be properly treated and stained.


I finally finished my first project in the backyard. And no, the fence still needs work. This raised planter currently looks more like a sandbox than anything else. And Zizou is definitely treating it as such.
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After I finally figured out the right drill bits and such, it came together pretty easily. Digging the trenches is by far the worst part. If you’re keeping score, it’s all 4×6 landscape timbers, some 2 foot rebar banged through the base level into the ground, and 3/8″x10″ steel spikes holding the rest of the timbers together.
I must admit that the words “day laborer” have danced through my head to dig the trenches for terrace dos…but there’s no fun in that…