I have been working rather hard these past few days, often putting in eight hours or more each day. I sometimes think I am doing more now than before I retired! When I purchased the Elliptical Trainer earlier in the year I had no idea it would lead me to be doing all the work I have been doing at the moment. Most of the ceilings in the cellar are 7 feet (2.13 m) high except for the boiler/gym room which is 8 feet (2.44 m) from the floor. All the doors are at the standard height which is 6 feet and 6 inches (1.98 m) so walking about isn’t a problem. However we discovered that although the gym ceiling is that extra bit higher it gave very little spare head-room when using the trainer. Consequently we decided to lower the floor by about 7 inches (17.8 cm) where the trainer was to be used. That in itself was time-consuming and hard work but having decorated the area round about it led us to decide a full room decoration was required. Having made that decision it led us to do a lot of preparatory and necessary work like filling in large holes in the ceiling and walls, re-routing cables and generally tidying things up. On top of that we had to replace the pipe insulation too which led us to do the same for other rooms in the cellar. The above pictures show only parts of the installation. Over the last three days (it is Friday 9 as I write) I have been starting work between the hours of 05.30 and 06.30 in order to replace the insulation before the heating switches on in the morning. Thankfully that work is almost completed with just some minor parts requiring attention. This is why the main work of decorating is taking so long. Today for instance I did very little in the way of painting. One of the other things which prevented my decorating was clearing out an area in the garage in order to store the garden furniture from the gym.
As you can see the area left of the window is now free of the furniture (see previous post) though there are a few other things still there to be found new homes. On the extreme left is the cupboard which requires some internal work before it too can be decorated. It all takes time and I have plenty of that on my hands. I must however take a break now and then.
Although I don’t mind it being Winter and the fact that it is cold far more than it gets warm there is a lethargic atmosphere deep in my brain telling me to refrain from attacking the jobs I want to do. This applies both to outdoor tasks and indoor tasks alike, I have to force myself to do some of them. It’s all about self-discipline of course for once I am engaged in a task nothing really matters, I just get on with it. I suppose if it were warmer and the sun was shining it would be a different story but no, perhaps it wouldn’t. You see if it is warm and sunny I like to relax in it! Again, it is about discipline and motivation. It is the middle of January as I write. The sun was out throughout the morning but decided to go hide for the rest of the day. The day suddenly feels the temperature it is and to add to that a slight breeze is blowing now. Suddenly I don’t wish to be outside in it but the waste doesn’t find its way to the bins all by itself and the leaves don’t get swept into the wheelie bin either. Neither of those tasks need to be done immediately but there is a nagging urgency for me to tackle at least one of them. I’ll let you guess which one. We love our creature comforts don’t we? The bedclothes are cozy, the heating is on, there is shelter from the elements and a nice warm cup of coffee invites us to remain indoors. Nothing will get done unless we decide not to be lazy and just get on with it. It’s battle fought by many a dedicated couch potato and won but I am not a couch potato so I’ve no defence. I put on my armour and throw myself at the enemy. I am beginning to once again set my mind on the things I want to get done and even those I don’t but have to else they will niggle at my grey matter. Who wants to be outside working in Winter? I have to confess I do for some of the time but sometimes it is nice to stay put on the sofa. I have been doing things of course I have and with each day passing I am slowly getting more of them done.
Sunday let us know that summer was on the wane, on its last legs, struggling to stay warm and dry but nothing could be done about that. The day was damp and rain fell frequently, it was a day to stay indoors though had I wanted to go for a walk I would have. By coincidence I actually wanted to stay indoors to relax and this I did. Monday would soon be upon me and there was work to be done. Lately I have been involved in keeping active by undertaking various little projects at home, mostly in the garden. Monday however I had set aside for preparing for the new garage door installation which means installing a power outlet, a board on which the control unit will sit, re-positioning existing wiring and switches and to remove other items which I will reinstall sometime after the door is installed. To install a power point will require that I alter the existing circuit and supply it from the main distribution panel in order to isolate it from house circuits. It is at times like this I appreciate my electrical experience for it makes the work simple, straightforward and not least of all free. Well free from labour charges! I could say the same for all the other work I do around the house. There is a lot to say in favour of DIY. As the year gets colder I find that working outside is much more pleasant than it is during the warmer months. I suppose the cold encourages me to keep active anyway. Is it possible that I to do too much work? I can only say that if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be doing it! Could I move to an apartment where there would be almost nothing to do? I doubt it but not because I would have more time to indulge in personal pleasures, I would be bored stiff! My motto is more work and less play though not all work and no play! It works for me anyway.
Monday (28th) here in the UK was one of those days we call a Bank Holiday, traditionally a day when bank employees took a break from, well banking. Banks closed for the day and therefore it limited trading activities. Nowadays banking takes place on-line for the most part but the holiday remains in place for everyone to enjoy or not as they wish. Today the holiday is referred to as the August Bank Holiday, there are others. Anyway it never made much difference to me when I became self-employed back in 1997. I would work if the opportunity presented itself, and it often did. The day still makes little difference to me now that I am retired, well retired from electrical work in a full or part-time capacity. I find work to do at home which pretty much keeps me active. I am not alone in being one that works over the holiday, I know many people do the same and if you go down any high street it is business as usual for many. As I said, banking is carried out over The Internet and much commerce follows suit. The Country can’t close down for the day can it? We were expecting someone to visit the house at my request to assess some work I want carrying out. I have decided to replace the garage doors on the garage I use to park my van. This one…
From the picture it looks fine and indeed the door itself is fine even though it is around twenty-eight years old. That is because it is made of fibreglass and aluminium. However it had always been opened and closed manually until a couple of years ago when I had it converted to electrical operation.Now again, there is nothing wrong with that set-up either but what is a problem are the mechanical components that had to remain after the conversion. They comprise the two side tracks in which the door runs, the wheels which run inside the tracks, the two large heavy-duty springs one each side which assist in the raising of the door, the pulleys and the steel wires either side which form part of the spring mechanism. All of these, especially the steel wires which need replacing regularly, require constant maintenance and of course that involves cost! It was high-time I replaced the door with a roller-shutter variety similar to what we had installed in the other garage though more streamlined.
That roller door is more like an industrial type than a domestic one though it doesn’t appear anything like that to look at it. It is a very efficient door and very robust. So the guy came along to measure the opening and requirements as did E’s nephew, a builder who was at hand to discuss any alterations that might have to be undertaken before the installation takes place. I agreed on a price for the work (£2250) which hopefully will take place in around a month’s time. As it is a bespoke unit it will take time to manufacture. Unfortunately as the opening is non-standard a door from their stock cannot be used. I paid the £600 requested up-front now all I have to do is raise the balance and carry out some electrical alterations for the installation.
Usually there is always something to do on a weekend for me but I make the attempt at ensuring I get the rest I need. Sunday is the day when I do no work other than perhaps mow the lawn occasionally. Other things I might do are only normal domestic chores of a very minor nature, washing dishes or cooking and things like that. Saturdays however are days when anything goes and I will work on whatever comes my way. There are days when I don’t want to be doing anything at all but those days are few. On Saturday last week I had it in mind to do little or no work but I wasn’t completely successful. Before getting ready for an early morning walk I stripped off the bed linen and put it in the washing machine. By the time I had showered and dressed the linen had been washed so I hung it in the cellar boiler room then set off on my walk in the cool, dry but quite windy weather. I returned home quite exhausted because of the wind. I hadn’t taken a coat but wore a cardigan instead as it hadn’t felt that cold. That was a mistake because it took some time before the sun began to raise the temperature and I was glad I took the return path through the built-up areas to home. By the time I got home I was in full sunshine and warm. It is difficult knowing what to wear when going for a walk. Too many clothes and I get too warm but too few or the wrong outer garment and I feel cold. It was never a problem when going for a run, I would get warm in minutes, even in the depths of Winter! I decided then to just take the day off and do little. just prior to lunchtime I received a call from an old customer who was having problems with her electrical installation. Although I am officially retired I accepted the work for a couple of reasons, one, the house was close by and two, it was an old lady of 90 who had nobody there to help. I was there for an hour or so before returning home. After lunch I spent the afternoon out on the patio with E just relaxing for once. It would be Monday before I would even think about doing any work or so I thought. Our next-door neighbour called and asked if I could sort out a problem she was having with a ceiling fitting. As she had more than one light in the room I told her I would look at it on Monday morning. They say there is no rest for the wicked but I hope I am not that.
It has to be said…I am feeling the urge……aha but what urge? Since declaring I am retired, officially that is, I have been enjoying much free time for myself. However as many of my readers will know and all those who know me will know that I need to find things to do else get very bored. A few days ago E asked her nephew, a builder, if he had any second-hand bricks we could have for a project at home. I mentioned what happened in an earlier post but since then we have decided we will require more than the forty-five we took at that time. He told us that we could have as many as we wished because he wanted to get rid of them. He told us that he would deliver them within a day or two. Perhaps when you read this he will have done so or I might have done so. I am in the ‘building with bricks’ mood and feel the urge to get my hands dirty again. I have a couple of small projects which I am eager to start, all depending upon the weather of course. If it gets too warm I will probably leave off beginning the work until it gets cooler though at the time of writing this on Sunday it is fairly cool at 16 deg C. This is the UK however and it can get hot or cold, wet and windy in hours! Hopefully I will be able to do the work soon and pictures will follow. There is always the garden to work in of course but at the moment the only work there is in removing weeds and mowing the lawn. Speaking of lawns, I have been on my hands and knees manually digging out weeds from the lawn recently, an ongoing problem which will take time to complete. Ideally the lawn should have some chemical treatment but it isn’t that bad or bad enough to warrant that just now. I don’t like to use chemical treatments if at all possible but in certain cases it is necessary or have a lawn of weeds instead of grass! For me though it is all about occupying my time. I suppose that when you feel the urge you’ve got to do something about it!
Or in proper English ‘Something to do’. Since completing my last domestic project I have had an uneasy time trying to find things to do. Being in the garden helps a lot for there is plenty to do there throughout the year but I don’t want to be doing gardening all of the time. The good weather has allowed me to be outdoors for much of the time and I have taken many a short walk around and about where I live. When stuck at home I get restless and there is only so much television I can take. I don’t do much reading, in fact hardly any at all unless it is something factual. I never read fiction as it bores me to tears. I am therefore a person who likes to be actively doing something. A few months ago we had one of the LED floodlights at the rear of the house go faulty and I removed the one just around the corner from it to replace it. I extended the wiring from the removed light fitting connection box to a new position further along the wall on the same side then fitted a new but smaller LED unit there.
A smaller unit at the new position is all that is required to illuminate the area in front of it. None of that is directly relevant to this post save for the fact that I didn’t discard the faulty unit at the time as I wanted to see if anything could be salvaged from it. I didn’t get the time to do it but on Friday afternoon I decided to check it out. There are only three components in these units that can turn faulty, the LED lamp, the LED driver unit and the motion detector. Usually on standard floodlights using halogen lamps it is the motion detector which fails if it isn’t the lamp itself. I wanted to see if I could use the unit as a standby plug-in portable floodlight which meant disconnecting and removing the motion detector. After much messing about I had the unit rewired as a portable floodlight but it wouldn’t work. It turned out that the original fault was the LED driver unit and not the motion detector. The floodlight couldn’t be used either with or without the motion detector unless the driver was replaced. The floodlight was returned to the storeroom until and if I decide to purchase a driver unit. An exercise in futility if ever there was one. I may decide to forget the whole idea and go for a walk now that the rain has stopped falling…………LOL
Wednesday proved to be very different from the days surrounding it as the temperature rose to a level more suitable for a summer’s day. Alright it wasn’t quite officially summer but the seasons do not stick to a regimented date do they? It was warm and sunny especially in the afternoon but the day had started dull and overcast though it was still warm. I had nothing to do and didn’t really want to be working anyway. I pottered about in the garden during the morning digging out a few weeds and montbretia plants which are still popping up here and there. It is after all the growing season for montbretia and of course weeds seem to grow whatever time of year it is! Nothing really arduous though and afterwards I got out the hose and gave the garden a good watering. It had been raining in the previous days but at this time of year it is soon dry again. A little more time pottering about inside the house before E and I went to the pub for our belated lunch. It would have been pointless to have gone there earlier as it is always packed between noon and say two-thirty which was the time we arrived. As usual the staff were at their best and soon we were served. On our return home E told me she had to go out again to post a letter she had forgotten to take with us earlier. Usually she drives to the post box even though it is less than three hundred metres away and that only because of her condition. I offered to walk there and post it for her while she put her car in the garage. When I returned a few minutes later I stopped by our next-door neighbour’s house to chat for a minute. She had her decorator painting the outside walls of her house, something her husband used to do every five years until he died three and a half years ago. The poor guy had been working at the front of the house for quite a few hours and hadn’t stopped for lunch. As he said, who wants to resume work after eating a meal? He was right, I missed lunch very often when out working and for the same reason. She had provided drinks of course, something he couldn’t do without especially in the heat of the day and especially as the front of the house was in full sunshine during the day. It must have been very uncomfortable and tiring. I am sure I wouldn’t have liked to do it. I was thinking later that perhaps he should have started the work by painting the rear of the house first as it would have been shaded throughout the day. The sun almost never shines on the rear wall of her house. The following day, Thursday was forecast to be cooler with a slight breeze blowing, much better conditions for working in but as he told me earlier he hadn’t checked the weather forecast. What would he have done if it had begun to rain soon after he had started the work? It is always wise to check the forecast before doing any work outdoors methinks.
In yesterday’s post I wrote about rooms never always being perfectly shaped, walls never always perfectly aligned with adjacent walls and the problems they cause when hanging wall paper. Far be it from me that I should place any blame on the construction problems I face when doing such work and how it affects the result. No, I always work around such problems and compensate so that I end up with a good job done. I suppose even professional decorators are presented with similar problems and have to work around them. It proves that we don’t live in a perfect world after all. Back to my decorating and I faced another minor problem on Saturday as I returned to do a little more work in the lounge. On Friday evening my next-door neighbour asked if I could cut-back a large shrub she has in her front garden, I had cut a much larger one for her a few months ago and didn’t mind doing it for her but I thought to myself why doesn’t her son do the work as he lives with her! According to her he just isn’t capable, more likely he is too lazy. He is a police sergeant and works some odd hours but never all day long. When his father was alive I never saw him lend a hand when his dad was working around the house. I told my neighbour that I would do the work the following morning as I was far too tired to make the attempt when she called. It meant I would have to put off my own work for an hour or so but I didn’t mind. I had plans to do far more than I actually did on the day however because I was still tired. On Friday I had gotten this far..
but on Saturday I only managed to get this more done even though my neighbour phoned whilst I was eating breakfast and apologised for asking me to do the work. She told me not to do the work because she had now asked her son to do it.
I was relieved for that meant I could concentrate on the wall paper. I managed however to only hang three drops. The first one partly above the door and including the lighting switches and motion detector (house alarm) on the right hand side proved very awkward and difficult and in all took me an hour to do. I had of course disconnected the power supply to the switches and removed the switch plate until the paper was in place and reconnecting it then. I managed to hang it all in one piece. Very difficult considering its shape and the fact that it was in a corner where the two walls are a little out of alignment in one place. I had to leave the sensor in place and work around it. Amazingly all went well but the second drop was difficult to match-up because the walls were slightly askew. Again I managed to do it and I thought I might be able to get as far as the fireplace but I had to stop after the next drop. I was making too many silly mistakes, I was tired and I didn’t want everything to start going pear shaped. It didn’t matter as I had plenty of time left to complete the decoration before other work would commence by others, the installation of a new fire and tiling of the hearth and the installation of the new curtains. I decided I needed the rest so I planned and take a break and leave the work until Monday.
I have reached that stage in life where I am getting less and less bothered if I get electrical work or not. Whilst the work is still available I am now tending to take it but only if I feel like doing so. I have of course to earn enough to cover my expenses if I am to continue. So I have to reach a minimum amount on average each week before I can begin to earn a profit. It is a fine balance because I only take on board the smaller jobs which obviously pay less. Having said that it only takes one job to cover my expenses, anything else is profit. So if I get two jobs I am earning enough to make it worthwhile but usually I do more than two or three jobs each week on average.
I have to say, at this point in time anyway, that I cannot see when it will be that I retire from my electrical work completely, all I do know is that I am taking on board less and less as time goes by. So what does a person do when all interest is lost? If I retired right now I would only have to find another interest to keep me occupied. However, that interest would have to be something which kept me physically active and not just keep me sitting at a desk, at a computer for instance. I have never liked the idea of not being physically active in my working life or even in my home life. I have to be active because that’s who I am. Less and less for me in one respect means more and more in another. I am fortunate in that we have gardens at home as there is always work to be done in them. Over the last couple of years I have been more involved working in the gardens than ever before. Because I am doing less electrical work as time passes by this allows me more time to work in the gardens if I wish. Soon though all work in the gardens will be solely maintenance work as the main construction projects have all been completed. Maintenance is something I am very used to and the work is guaranteed never to end!