Typical

It sometimes takes a lot of effort to get E out of her chair if I wish to show her something, especially if that is something in the garden. If it is cold and even when it isn’t that cold she grumbles that she needs to put on a coat before stepping out. So it was on Sunday morning just before we had lunch. She tells me that she feels the cold, which she does and I have known that ever since we met but there are times when it isn’t as cold as she thinks it is. Nevertheless being as she is a bit stubborn there is no way she won’t wear a coat if she thinks it is cold. It’s just her way I suppose. I am far less troubled by a low temperature or a little wind though I have to confess I hate the wind when it is strong. Eventually I got her to go into the garden with me so that I could show her some of the flowers that have sprung up recently, crocus, snowdrops, daffodils, tulips and hyacinths to name a few. She is fond of flowers as I am too except that I prefer those that don’t grow from bulbs. I find it strange that for someone who professes to love these early flowers E seldom goes into the garden at this time of year. Anyway we spent some time out there and whilst there she asked about the bluebells I had been digging out on Saturday and where I had found them. As my readers will know digging out bluebells and montbretia took me months to do this time last year. I knew there would be some still to dig out this year and maybe that will be the same next year too but they are far fewer in number than when I first started. Even so there are still quite a few popping up occasionally. She called me over to a spot where she had noticed a couple more which I had obviously missed. I dug them out then she showed me more in another bed so I dug them out too! That is typical of E, she is quick to show me things I have missed or mistakes I have made. I laugh about it and say ‘Yes boss, I’ll do it right away boss’…….Ha, ha, ha.

Shirley Anne

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Invention

The time spent on the pit project was limited to an hour and a half on Saturday morning as I had reached as far as I could go. The main task was to skim the internal end wall I had roughly worked on the day before and then put some spots of the same mixture on the floor of the pit. These spots of concrete were to be level with each other and would act as guides when I laid the screed concrete.It was time for lunch after which E went out to her monthly meeting and I thought I would sit a while out on the patio as by then it was warm and sunny. However I didn’t stay sitting long for I noticed a chrysanthemum which needed pruning of its old growth. I had missed it when I pruned the others a couple of weeks ago. I decided to prune it but on the way to collect the tools I noticed a couple more bluebells in the long bed which needed digging out. I ended up checking each of the flowerbeds and dug out around thirty or so. They just don’t give up do they? (See last years posts around this time). Finally I gave up on the idea of sitting outside and returned indoors and setting ‘Robbie’ to vacuum the hallway I went into the kitchen to do some baking. I wanted to bake two sponge cakes, one with some coconut in it and the other with coffee. I was following a recipe for a rich butter cake as opposed to a Victoria Sponge but along the way I made a little mistake and I ended up preparing a fusion mixture of the two! Talk about invention! Surprisingly though the cakes turned out very well and quite tasty. I guess many recipes started off this way.

Shirley Anne

Moving on slowly

After breakfast on Friday (16th) I once again put on my overalls and began working on the pit. There wasn’t much I could do other than skim the edge beneath the newly fitted handrail I had installed on Thursday afternoon and to roughly fill in the edge on the opposite end of the pit. That end would hopefully be smoothed out and finished on Saturday leaving only the floor of the pit to be covered with a screed.

I should be able to get the floor done on Monday and Tuesday if all goes to plan. When that is done all that will be left to do will be cosmetic, sealing the concrete, painting and such. So I only spent an hour working on the project and decided I would take a short walk down to the beach for an hour. I hadn’t been out for a walk for over a week and had simply taken exercise on the equipment instead. To be quite frank I was too tired to go for long walks and fitting in some time on the equipment had been much easier. It was such a nice warm and sunny morning but by the afternoon it had turned a little cooler and dull. After lunch E and I spent a few minutes in the garden preparing the soil in the raised bed between the greenhouses for planting potatoes. I had already planted rhubarb at one end of the bed a few weeks ago and recently had separated the area using paving edge stones…

The rhubarb is at the far right of the bed and some has already begun to grow. As you can see we have made four rows of mounded-up soil and each has around six potatoes in them. The remaining two potatoes were planted in a bucket though I may change my mind and transfer them to the bed if I can. We had strawberries growing in the bed two years ago but they grew wild and too much of the fruit was eaten by woodlice so we dug them out. I transferred a couple of them to pots and grew them in the large greenhouse last year where I could protect them from being eaten.

Shirley Anne

Resumed

I wasn’t out of action for very long after I had damaged my little finger, only one day in fact but I didn’t resume my work on the pit until the day after that. I don’t know about you but I find certain foods affect my gut and I suffer from re-flux and wind problems if I eat them though strangely not every time. I love fish and on Wednesday evening I had mackerel. It is a particularly strong in flavour and is one of those foods which cause me to burp a lot after eating it. It isn’t my favourite fish by a long way, in fact it is pretty much at the bottom of the table. Sea bass and rainbow trout are favourites with me though I don’t often eat them. I suffered a lot after eating that fish on Wednesday and it followed through to almost lunchtime on Thursday. However it wasn’t just the fish causing me problems but also the muesli I had at breakfast. I usually eat muesli with fruit or porridge with fruit at breakfast and they have little side effect as long as I don’t do any work which requires bending. If I do then it can upset my tummy. Most of the time I don’t start working for an hour or two after eating breakfast. Anyhow I decided I had to push ahead with the pit project and I got this far before finally taking a break for a late lunch.

The slope turned out almost perfect but I had to fill in a few places where trapped air had caused one or two dimples in the concrete (top picture). I relaid five stone tiles at the far end of the pit as seen in the bottom picture. The space on the left is that concrete block I mentioned in previous posts. It is extremely hard but I managed to chip away at it in order to get it below the floor tiles. I won’t bother spending more time on it but at least I can cement over it now. Before the work started it was a couple of inches above the floor level. After lunch I assembled and installed the hand rail.

Shirley Anne

Stopped

Late on Monday afternoon saw me rooting around looking for something to do in connection with my gym project, that is lowering the floor where the Elliptical trainer will stand (see previous posts). I had done enough for the day but like everything I do it is seldom not enough and I end up seeing if there is anything minor I can do rather than let time slip by. I say minor because the harder work can only be done in stages. I was shaping a piece of timber and manufacturing two brackets which together will form a handrail near to the entrance of the room. Whilst working on one of the brackets I had a small accident which ended up with my little finger on my left hand being cut.I hasten to add the picture isn’t of my own fingers. Everything had to come to a halt so I could attend to the now bleeding finger. I made a temporary covering to stem the bleeding but it really needed a proper bandage to be fitted. I waited for E to return from her shopping spree with her mom as I knew she wouldn’t be long in returning home. In the meantime I was stopped in my tracks from all work and I sat with my computer for an hour drinking a coffee. E soon returned home and set about applying a proper finger bandage after I had cleaned up my finger. I suggested she fit a couple of thin wooden strips on my finger to act as a splint to prevent my finger from bending. That way the wound would heal faster. I went to bed with my finger bandaged thinking all would be alright but when I awoke at six o’clock the splint had fallen off and the bandage was soaked in blood, though it wasn’t at that time still bleeding. Strangely there was no blood on the bed linen though some had found its way onto one of my legs! I cleaned it up and applied a simple band-aid on my finger which stayed there throughout the day on Tuesday and my finger had pretty much healed by evening. I was therefore unable to do any more work  on my project in case the wound re-opened. I had the day off. Later in the afternoon I had to drive E to the hospital for a scheduled MRI scan appointment. She has been complaining of an ailment in one of her feet. That basically described my day and I looked forward to Wednesday when I could resume occupying myself on my project.

Shirley Anne

I did a couple of things

It was Monday 12th Feb. and I determined I would get up early to make the most of the forecast fine weather. It had been somewhat blustery on Sunday but Monday promised wall to wall sunshine, ideal for being outdoors. I wanted to pay another visit to the builder’s yard to purchase more granite dust so soon after breakfast I drove along there and bought two bags (50 Kg). This was to mix a fine concrete as opposed to the heavy-duty one I mixed a couple of days ago using granite stones. It was to be used for the construction of the sloping sides around the pit.

The tiles you see are there to act as weights against the plywood holding back the new concrete. I wasn’t able to fill-in to the existing floor tile level at this stage but it is almost at that level. I finished working on the project for the day and covered the mixer as it had to remain outdoors until no longer required.

My next job was to section off that portion of the raised bed where the rhubarb was planted a few weeks ago and is now beginning to sprout. I used some paving edge tiles I had to separate the rhubarb from the rest of the bed. I raked some soil from one of the flowerbeds where there is an excess amount of it at the moment, at the same time digging out a few bluebells then transferring it to the raised bed. The soil there had been a little too low.Following on from that I pruned back the overgrown and now dormant ‘Mums’  (Chrysanthemums) growing in the planters on the Patio.

Now it was time for lunch. E went out later and I set about making the handrail and brackets I intend to fit to the metal post I set into the floor in the pit. It is going to be there for safety reasons for anyone entering the room now that the pit is there.

Naturally the temporary wooden rail and post will be removed. It was four o’clock when I decided to stop work for the day.

Shirley Anne

Preparation

The concrete had set by Saturday lunchtime and in a way I was grateful it was later rather than earlier in the morning for I had arisen quite late. I had been very tired the evening before after all the work I had done. I didn’t want the day to pass by without doing at least some more work on the project. I needed to erect some shuttering in preparation for pouring a finer concrete mix to form the sloping edge into the pit I was constructing.

A long length of timber was screwed to the pit floor against which I placed a length of plywood strengthened with timber and leaning toward the original floor edge. I fastened some timber to the original floor which acts to prevent the plywood from touching the floor at the top. This left an intended gap so that the concrete can be poured into the space and also to make a solid concrete edge along the complete top edge. It will be easier to understand when you see the completed work. After doing that work I began to tackle the removal of the concrete block at the end of the pit.

The yellow handle of the lump hammer rests upon the block. It was protruding out of the floor and we have no idea at the moment as to why it is there. Near to the end of the hammer shaft is a piece of steel tubing and another one a couple of centimetres further away (higher in the picture, click to magnify). They seem to be electrical conduits that have been set into the concrete block. Again we are not sure why they are there. The concrete block itself stands upon another block of concrete but it is of a different composition. The lower one looks like traditional concrete made using granite stones whereas the upper one, that which I am aiming to reduce in height, has been made using broken pieces of brick instead. It is as hard as nails and extremely difficult to chip away at. As I write this on Saturday evening I am almost there but it will take some time yet to lower it enough to be able to tile over it. Work will be resumed on Monday. Tomorrow, Sunday, I will be resting from work.

Shirley Anne

I didn’t mean to…

The Sacrifice of the Old Covenant
The Sacrifice of the Old Covenant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quite often in life we make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes offend someone. Sometimes the ‘mistakes’ are intentional but often they are not and we haven’t realised our error. How can we make amends when we act this way? In the Old Testament we read how the Israelites made restitution for their sins. They sacrificed an animal to shed its blood as an offering, an atonement for their sins (to God). These sacrifices were accepted by God but later He made the ultimate sacrifice for each and every one of us through Jesus Christ. His blood was shed for us all, paying the price for all of our sins. He became our sacrifice and it is only through him that we can be forgiven. Nobody now has to sacrifice an animal if they place their hope in Christ Jesus. Praise The Lord.

Shirley Anne

Don’t-Mean-It Sins (Leviticus 4:27–35)
Everyone roared with laughter at Maggie’s story about Brad’s klutziness in fixing the car. Brad was mortified.
Thad had been paying bills online and then, without ever really planning to, he found himself deep in pornography. Melanie walked in and found him viewing images he had no business seeing.
Arthur and Gabriela thought they were just getting together with some friends from church, but then they found themselves caught up in an angry coup to get rid of the pastor. Six months later, the church was in shambles, and Arthur and Gabriela were wondering how they let themselves get involved in the mess.
Sometimes we sin without meaning to. We aim for righteousness, honour and wisdom, but we miss by a mile. Leviticus 4:2 introduces a Hebrew word for sin that means “to miss the mark.” George R. Knight, professor of church history at Andrews University Theological Seminary (Berrien Springs, Michigan), explains, “You have missed, not because you are wicked, but because you are stupid, silly, careless, inattentive, perhaps lazy, or more probably because you do not possess the proper aim in life.”
Add to that Hebrew word for sin the word “unintentionally,” and it suggests someone wandering away like a silly sheep or someone who isn’t thinking. We sometimes feel we ought to be given a break if we didn’t really mean to sin. But the Bible doesn’t cut us any slack. Whether we mean it or not, sin damages our relationship with God and with others. Anyone who is married knows that unintentional hurts, such as teasing about someone’s weaknesses or being chronically late or missing a birthday, can do a lot of harm.
Leviticus 4 shows that God takes unintentional sins seriously. Forgiveness is available, but it doesn’t come cheap. No quick, “Oops, sorry. Guess I wasn’t thinking.” Specific instructions were given in Leviticus 4 for how different groups were to deal with these kinds of sins. While the details differed a little from one group to another, the basic corrective steps were the same for each situation: bring an offering, then have it sacrificed to atone for the sin.
Today, we who confess Jesus Christ as Saviour are grateful that we don’t have to go through the laborious and gruesome atonement rituals of the Old Testament. Still, as we read through the requirements in Leviticus, we realize how the sacrificial system illustrates the seriousness of sin. These sin sacrifices did not over-dramatize the sinner’s situation; rather, they under-dramatized it. The blood of animals could never pay for sin, whether unintentional or not. God mercifully accepted such sacrifices until his plan could be carried out to give his one and only Son, Jesus, as the complete sacrifice for sin.
Sin is terrible—even when it’s unintentional. Praise God that Christ’s death provides forgiveness for us and that his indwelling Spirit gives us the strength to aim straight at godliness.
—Lee Eclov
Taken from NIV Couples’ Devotional Bible

Shirley Anne

Set in concrete

I have been writing a little about concrete in my latest posts and that will continue in the next post at least. Since my retirement ten months ago I have kept to a routine and have kept myself busy doing things at home, projects and maintenance. It is good to keep one’s self occupied, especially when retired from full-time work. I set myself routines and kept to them for the most part, everything set in concrete but along the way I have learned it is best not to be too regimental with schedules. I found myself breaking my own rules, usually because I was tired or simply wanted a change. Working on my latest project made me realise that I have to take a break now and then. In fact I have been forced into doing so, that is my body tells me it wants to rest! This morning (I write this on Sat 10th) I slept in. I had a bit of a restless night again and found it difficult to get to sleep even though I was really tired after the day’s work. My thoughts were all over the place, an over-active brain has always been a problem for me. I simply cannot stop thinking about things when lying there in bed. My body says sleep but my mind won’t let me! It didn’t matter that I had a lie-in, I needed it. My project has kept me from a ritualistic exercising regime and it has proved to be of more benefit to me. I realise my schedules don’t have to be set in stone (concrete) for I can and do exercise at will more so now than I have ever done.

A dirty concrete cupid
A dirty concrete cupid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday after a hard day at the office so to speak I found myself taking exercise on the Elliptical trainer for a while. At the time it wasn’t a problem because I find that it is only when I stop working or exercising that I feel tired or feel the effects of the day’s workout. I suppose that is the same for everyone. In any case I should have fallen asleep within minutes but I didn’t. I guess I am more relaxed about flexible workouts than I am in thinking about them. Things play on my mind as if they are supposed to but they are not, especially when I am tired. So now my life is taking a turn or rather my habits are, work, play and exercise are now to be followed in a more relaxed way and concrete will be kept solely for the work department.

Shirley Anne

Feel better about it

During the work of digging out the cellar floor I had been anxious about the stability of the remainder of the floor close-by to the pit I had dug. In yesterday’s post I wrote about filling the bottom of the hole with hardcore and propping up the side walls to prevent the loosened sand from slipping away. I felt a little relieved having done that work but by the afternoon of the next day, Friday 9th, I felt much better about it. I had spent the whole morning mixing concrete and laying it. After breakfast I made the trip to the builders yard to purchase some granite stones and cement. I didn’t need to purchase sand of course for I had bags of it! On my return home I set up the mixer outside in the garden and proceeded mixing the concrete. Rather than pushing the mixed concrete in a wheelbarrow to take it indoors I filled a bucket several times and took that inside instead. There are steps leading down into the cellar room and using the wheelbarrow would be too awkward and probably messy. I found it easier and quicker using a bucket but it took four mixing sessions with the mixer and several journeys with the bucket. I used the wheelbarrow to collect the mixed concrete and then shovelled it into the bucket. When doing this sort of work I get into a routine and it makes the work easy. This is how far I got..

You can see that I have cemented in the tiles which I used to support the opened side to prevent the sand pouring out. Naturally at this stage it is rough but it makes the finishing stage easier to do. The far edge in the top picture and the near edge in the lower picture, both the same edge, have yet to be worked on. That will begin soon I hope.

Shirley Anne