Solid as a rock

A lie in on Sunday meant getting up at six o’clock! I had a really good night’s sleep but didn’t get to sleep until twelve-thirty. Five and a half hours was all I could manage but then five and a half hours has been quite normal for me over the last few years. I wanted to see how my concrete screed had turned out but first I had to dress and then have breakfast. When I did go and look I found it as I expected….as hard as a rock! I wouldn’t be using the ramp until Monday or possibly Tuesday for I knew that new concrete (in this case a concrete screed) needs two to three days to settle before allowing traffic on it. During those three days it is considered still green and liable to be easily damaged. It had set nevertheless so I could rest easy. It had been an awkward shape to work at because the slope had to be gradual and to one side due to the position of the door. There hadn’t been a step other than that formed naturally because of the height of the garage floor compared to the level of the path outside. To make matters worse there is a grid close to the doorway making it impossible to have simply incorporated a natural slope in the path itself directly to the door when it was laid. That can be seen in the picture to the right of the doorway.

Anyway somehow I managed to make a sloping ramp which will now make it easier to move stuff in and out of the garage doorway. Sunday started off sunny but it was cold in the westerly wind. Monday promised to be warmer. I would now be able to begin my woodworking project which would take place inside the garage and away from the windy weather if it stayed that way. I did make the attempt at sitting in the sunshine once more but ended up doing a spot of weeding instead. It got too windy and cold and I gave up after a short while. Now as I am writing this it at two in the afternoon it has clouded over and the wind is still strong. Reluctantly I am remaining indoors and will exercise on the gym equipment for a time. No walks today but first thing in the morning before breakfast will set me up for the day.

Shirley Anne

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Still cool

I hadn’t been able to finish the ramp alterations on Friday because the forecast indicated rain was on its way. As it happened it did rain though not a lot. Any rainfall would be detrimental to newly laid concrete unless it was covered or shielded in some way. Rather than set up a covering which would have been impractical anyway because of the larger area being laid than on previous occasions I chose to do the work the following day. That day was Saturday 23 rd. Accordingly I arose early in order to get it done early in the day. The forecast for the next few days indicated dry weather and a rise in temperature too. Even though the day was sunny it was hazy sunshine most of the time and the westerly breeze ensured it felt cool. It was cool, too cool to sit outside for long though I did try for a spell. The work didn’t take as long as I had thought it might. I mixed one and a half mixer loads of fine concrete which was just enough to finish the project.

As you can see the area is fairly large to protect with a cover and not worth doing. I would have to rely on the weather remaining dry and of course preventing anything from falling onto it for a few hours. The picture was taken about an hour after I had finished and had tidied everything away. The mixer was removed from its stand which was put back in the garage but the mixer itself had to remain outside for a couple of days whilst the concrete hardened. I use a large bag to cover the mixer. Five hours after the work was done it still looked pretty much as it did after an hour but it had started to set firm. It would be Monday at the earliest before I would attempt walking on it. I would be making a start on constructing the new door and frame on Monday and working with my favourite material….wood.

Shirley Anne

Unfathomable love

Incomprehensible Love (Ephesians 3:17–18)

What are some things that you know about but don’t really understand?
How much does Jesus love you?
A child asked Jesus how much he loved her. He answered, “This much,” and then he stretched out his arms and died on the cross.

You may have heard this before. It’s a good way to think about how much Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that he left heaven and came to earth for you. He loves you so much that he suffered and died for you. And the Bible says that nothing you can do will separate you from the love of Jesus. In these verses from Ephesians, Paul describes Jesus’ love as being “wide and long and high and deep.” The idea is that it is infinite—you will never come to the end of it. God loved you before he created you. He loves you right this minute. And he will love you for eternity. We cannot possibly understand how much Jesus loves us. We don’t have to. All we have to do is accept it.

Prayer
Dear God, thank you for your love. Please help us to accept it. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day At the Table

This is the love that many refuse to accept because they have no faith to believe. For them it is meaningless, fantasy, fairy-tale nonsense but I say to them…..I once felt exactly the same. Anyone who has a ‘born again’ experience will tell you that it is a life-changing experience and for the better, by far the better. Having the realisation that one, there is a God and He is the Creator of all things, two there is a Saviour which is Jesus Christ and three there is life everlasting in His name may come as a surprise to some but when they experience Gods’ unconditional love and then His forgiveness through their faith in Jesus they become different people and are filled with joy and praise. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Shirley Anne

Not quite……..

……..what I’d ordered. It was Friday and the first proper day of Spring following the Equinox on 21 st. I had this plan of arising early, going for a pre-breakfast walk and after breakfast doing other things. It didn’t quite go that way but then what did it matter? After all my time is free to do as I please. However I do expect my plans to go according to my wishes nevertheless. First thing which went wrong was getting up too late or later than I had wished. That being the case I left the house at nine o’clock to go for the walk which meant no breakfast before or afterward either because it was approaching lunchtime by the time I returned. I ate lunch at twelve and then played some catch-up on my offset plans. First port of call was to the hole in the wall for some cash. I dislike using the debit card all the time and prefer cash anyway. For myself I don’t like the idea of being in a cash-less society which is the way it will go if we use cards all of the time. Another case of lose it if you don’t use it. Anyway from the cash point I drove to the window repair and installation outlet from whom I had last week ordered a small double-glazed window to install in my new garage door. It should have been ready for collection but it wasn’t. In fact it appeared that it hadn’t even been made! They were to call me when it had been. I drove off to the builders merchant to purchase a couple of door hinges and some 100 mm length screws. I usually keep a stock of various sized screws but I had none of the longer ones in stock having used them all during my previous cellar room projects. The problem with buying screws here is that they come in boxes of 100, 150 and 200 so I was obliged to buy more than I actually needed. I opted for the box of 100 which still cost me more than £20. Had I gone to a retail store they would have cost more per unit as they usually sell them by number. I may have had to pay say £10 for 30 or less of them! Getting up late sort of spoiled my plans which were to begin constructing the door and frame in the garage. I couldn’t do the laying of the final coat of cement on the ramp I had been working on because rain had been forecast for the afternoon. There was nothing to stop me doing the woodwork inside the garage however but I decided against it. Instead I watched some tv with E whilst she was having her (late) lunch by which time I didn’t feel like starting work so late in the afternoon. Saturday onward for a week looked far more promising for we were in for some warm and dry days.

Shirley Anne

Keeping my hand in

Where? Well nowhere would be the answer but I am talking about keeping any acquired skills active to some extent so they are not lost. The old saying ‘use it or lose it’ springs to mind. As a retired electrician it is wise to keep my hand in so to speak but it applies to anything we have learned over the years. I can only speak for myself of course when I say there have been many things which I lent my hand to do over the years. I can also say with modesty that I became quite proficient in those things I made the effort to tackle. Now that I have been retired for two years I find there is less of the electrical work to be done for obvious reasons but there has been plenty of other learned skills I can continue to use. You are probably aware of that if you’ve read my posts. My next door neighbours are both men, one is a practicing solicitor (or lawyer) and the other is a police inspector but neither of them seem skilled with their hands and DIY is something other people do. The solicitor I have never seen doing anything around the house and the policeman by his own admission tells me he isn’t skilled in anything of a practical nature. His father used to do everything around the house but never encouraged his son to take an interest. Both his parents have now passed on so he is finding now that he has to make some sort of effort to get involved in any domestic problems or tasks which need doing. The week after his mom died which was only recently he was telling E that one of the bedroom ceiling lights was broken and I told him I would call to fix it after her funeral had taken place. That was earlier this week as I write and so I called there today (20 Mar) and replaced the ceiling rose and pendant for him.

Because the installation dates from the early sixties there is no earthing conductor in the lighting circuits. He was asking if that was safe and I told him it was as long as he didn’t have metal-clad fittings but that a rewire would be advisable. He is now considering that possibility. He wanted to pay me for my services but I wouldn’t have any of it, I was glad to have been able to help and it did keep my hand in so to speak!

Shirley Anne

Still more to do

‘Should I or should I not?’ were the words in my mind when I arose on Wednesday and prepared for my morning walk. It was one of those mornings at this time of year where I was undecided on what garments I would wear. Would it be too cold and should I wear something to keep me warm for as I opened the door to get a feel for the conditions it was somewhat foggy and damp. I must have chosen correctly for I was very comfortable throughout the walk. However when I was within a few hundred yards (or metres, take your pick) the sun broke through and I began to feel a little too warm! Time for breakfast after which I took a drive to the builders merchant in order to purchase some more materials including more lengths of the wood I had purchased for constructing a new garage rear door. I needed more ‘granno’ and cement and one bag of small granite stones. When I returned with the goods I approached some workmen who had been at the house of a neighbour pruning the trees around their garden. They were using a machine which turns the branches into wood chippings and I asked them if they would dispose of the few left-over branches we had stored in the garden after we chopped down the fruit trees. They kindly took them from me and put them through the machine. It meant I didn’t have to saw them to dispose of them myself. You can see them in this photograph I took a few weeks ago.

When that was done I unloaded the van and began to mix the concrete for completing the base layer of the ramp project and then laid it. I had to cover it just in case it rained but that wasn’t likely according to the forecast. Better safe than sorry though. It would be a few days before I would begin laying the top layer of concrete to finish the project. Once that was completed I would have the new door to construct though knowing me I might start work on it before. The afternoon turned out very sunny and quite warm and I was able to sit out on the patio to relax with the newspaper.

Shirley Anne

Entitled?

Now that the weather was beginning to improve I made plans to work in the garden soon after breakfast. It was Tuesday (19 Mar) and my first task was to remove the temporary covering I had placed over the concrete I had laid the previous morning. It was as I expected set in place but as they say still green. Concrete takes a few days to ‘cure’ if you like and in fact, so I believe, isn’t totally set until 25 years later! I am not sure where I heard that but it probably is true. Anyway I avoided walking over it for the rest of the day just as I had with the previous layers.

The area covered was that on the left next to the buttress. The buttress by the way will hopefully be rendered on the sides sometime soon. I had begun to render the front face last year as that part was in a very poor condition but other things happening afterward prevented my finishing the work. The whole of the lighter coloured area of the ramp is that which will be finished with a rendering of a smoother mix of concrete to blend in with the pathway and the part nearest the door. It appears that at the time of writing the weather forecast for the following week looks very promising so it will probably get done then. Now the next job was to empty the bags of soil that you can see in the first two pictures and put it into the front garden flowerbeds.

Then I moved the bags of sand (in the third picture) into the garage.

The furthest two bags you can see in the bottom picture had soil in the first and the grass sods in the second. They contained the material which I had dug out of the lawn when constructing the feature there. As of today as I write the furthest bag containing the grass sods will be systematically separated later and the soil recycled and put in the flowerbeds. The work took me up to lunch and after lunch I sat out on the patio in the sunshine for an hour for which I think I was entitled. It went cloudy soon afterward and I took the opportunity to do some pruning and weeding before calling it a day.

Shirley Anne

Tried to stop me

It was another dull Monday and I was a little disappointed because the forecast had indicated a sunnier day in prospect. Nevertheless I still got on with my schedule. The weather wasn’t going to stop me. I had not eaten for fifteen hours as I had to give some blood samples at the surgery which required I wasn’t to eat in advance. Fortunately the appointment was for eight-thirty but unfortunately I had gotten up around five o’clock because I couldn’t stay in bed once awake. That meant three hours of feeling hungry until the samples were taken. To my amazement I was seen ten minutes earlier than I expected so was back home before eight forty-five. After my breakfast of porridge I donned my overalls and went into the garden to do some concrete laying. I had prepared the area before leaving for the surgery by breaking up some of the clay floor tiles which we had left over from digging the pit in the gym/boiler room. They would act as a rubble to bind the concrete together at the same time lessen the amount of concrete needed. I do this with every concrete mix I prepare but it is usually used as a base on which the concrete is laid. As the ramp was being constructed on an already existing concrete base the rubble was only being used to take up some of the volume. It would all get covered with a finer concrete later anyway. Well just as I had finished it began to rain so I covered the area with boards and sheets to keep it dry whilst setting. I had it finished before ten o’clock. I couldn’t do any more work that day because after lunch I had a funeral to attend. My next-door neighbour had passed away in hospital the previous Monday and her funeral was at two o’clock.

We drove to the crematorium to meet with others there though not many had attended, about a dozen including E and myself. The service was fairly brief and soon we were all outside chatting together and paying our respects to her son who was putting on a brave face. There isn’t much one can say at funerals but simply being there lends much support. There was no wake as such but a small gathering at our neighbour’s house. Later in the evening I returned the flag to the top of the pole as it had been at half-mast for a few days. Now life was to carry on as usual for everyone.

Shirley Anne

Trying its best

It was Sunday 17 th March which happened to be St. Patrick’s Day too.

Saint Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick (Irish: Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick”), is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick

No doubt there would be much celebrating in the local pubs during the day and it wouldn’t matter if you were not Irish! I would be attending the surgery early in the morning the following day in order to give a blood sample for analysis. That being the case I decided to go for a walk on Sunday instead. I could have taken the walk after the surgery visit but I also wanted to do a little concrete laying on Monday morning too. At two o’clock in the afternoon on Monday I would be attending our next-door neighbour’s funeral with E. If you remember she had died the previous Monday morning in the hospital. There would be plenty of time after the surgery to do the small amount of concrete laying I had intended to do whilst the weather held good. Spring is trying its best to force Winter away before the Equinox! On my return from my walk I ate lunch as I had missed breakfast deliberately to take the walk. I wouldn’t be able to eat much later in the day for I wasn’t allowed to eat for at least twelve hours before giving the blood sample. I usually fast for longer just to be sure. As Sunday afternoon was bright and sunny I spent a little time out in the garden ‘pottering’ about and just enjoying the sunshine.

Shirley Anne

Settled? Unsettled?

Foul weather

We have crazy weather patterns here in the UK and even from county to county there can be huge differences in our weather patterns. For such a small island, and we are a small island compared to many others, we have such weird weather at times. Yesterday I was writing about mowing the lawn whilst the weather was favourable, and it had been so it was fortunate that I did because today it has been raining continuously and apparently will do throughout Sunday too. Monday through to Wednesday looks like we’ll be having a dry spell once again. That being the case I hope to be able to pour more concrete and finish the base layer of the ramp alteration project. You will remember that initially it would happen in two or maybe three stages but since saying that the goalposts have been moved and it will take a few more stages to complete. The reason for that is because I am extending the ramp further than I originally intended. Even with what has been accomplished so far we are finding the mower can now be pushed in and out of the garage with relative ease and that will only improve when the work is finished. I have been waiting for the weather to settle down for a few days to give me time to make more progress. Some things can get done despite the weather but certain tasks are simply impossible to work at if the weather is foul. One good thing about not being able to work for me is that I get the time to exercise more on our gym equipment and that is something I have been doing more of lately. I am keen nevertheless to carry on with the work in hand so roll on Monday!

Shirley Anne