Life during COVID-19

14 07 2020

7182E753-3467-4A87-B1E7-2DCA3FA6EA01_1_201_aThis entry is about what I’ve been doing to keep from going INSANE while social distancing to avoid COVID-19. I don’t like having nothing to do and would rather be outside and busy.

In the middle of March my wife and daughter urged me to stop installing Life Alert systems and to stop going in the homes of other clients. I knew they were only thinking of my health but I just did not want to stop working. Later that month I told Life Alert I could no longer install their systems until the corona virus backed off. Here it is mid-July and the corona virus is still going strong, maybe even worse than back in the spring.  I don’t know when I will be back working.

To while away the hours I’ve been working in my shop and and in the driveway in front of it. I’ve started making hiking sticks and had no idea I would enjoy it so much. I started with a couple limbs I picked up years ago because they looked unusual. One has a crook like a walking cane and another is taller and very straight. I started a by stripping off the bark and seeing where that led me. I’ve never been much of a wood worker, so I didn’t know exactly what I was doing. After spending some time on this stick — the tall one  — it seemed to show me what to do. After the bark removal came lots of sanding. I wanted it smooth. I didn’t want to use polyurethane, but I wanted to protect the wood and make it look nice. I am not going to stores these days so I came up with something I already had on-hand to make it work. It is a well know brand of hand balm. It works great and it is fairly inexpensive. It has wax in it so it protects the wood and if you scratch the finish you can apply more balm on to restore the luster.

I don’t go out into the woods and cut something down. several of my sticks have resulted from pruning shrubs and small trees in my yard. I don’t want to cut down trees just to make hiking sticks. I do the next best thing. I use what someone has cut down or pruned. There is something satisfying about recycling or reusing things that would otherwise go into a landfill or be ground into mulch. I can hardly bear to throw away anything! A hiking stick rescued from the mulch pile…

Where I was and what I was doing.

13 06 2018

My list of odd or unusual handyman requests continues to gro. It seems the media has convinced the public of a need for anti-tip straps or devices for dressers, wardrobes, TVs and TV stands, and almost anything that a child can climb on and tip over — a good approach to child safety. There is a small downside: if you change or rearrange furniture  there will be visible holes in the drywall. If the walls are light colored then Spackle might blend and in some cases will not require painting. I’d suggest saving any paint, or at least the label or lid of the paint can, so paint can be matched to cover the repair if needed. Kitchen stove manufacturers have know about the tipping danger for years. Yet some still don’t include an anti- tip device with the sale of a new range. They should. The device is inexpensive but often hard to find. Ranges are fairly light and have a high center of gravity. Refrigerators are heavy and have a low center of gravity. With the current trend of the freezer on the bottom, there is the possibility of the freezer drawer being used as a step by a child followed by tipping.

With the aging population I have experienced an increase in the need for grab bars in bathrooms. I have installed grab bars of several designs and manufacturers. A problem with installing them in older homes is finding a substantial framing member for attaching the bar. I prefer to secure at least one end of the bar to a stud for stability. Often I have to rely on toggle bolts to fasten one or both to the wall rather than into a stud. I always explain the situation to customer and make sure they know I may not successful finding a stud. I wish builders would put plywood behind the tile and backer.

I have hung several porch swings in the last couple of years. About 12 months after installation a swing fell with someone in it! And from the side where the lighter person was sitting! Fortunately, no one was injured. There was, however, company on the porch and some wine and cheese involved. That first time, I had hung the way the homeowner requested. The second time I went back and hung my way. I used two swing hangers with two lag-bolts in each. With this swing I knew where the rafter above the ceiling was located, so I installed two bolts on each end and hung the swing from the bracket. It is still up.

A customer recently asked me to clean out the pipe from the disposal in the kitchen. I did and found something resembling shredded corn stalks in the pipe. After removing the shreds, the sink and disposal both worked correctly. About three months later I had another call asking me to clean the same drain. More roughage in the drain. After the clean-out, one resident blamed it on the other resident. I suggested she buy him a chipper/shredder for Christmas for his roughage instead of using the disposal. I havn’t cleaned it again. I think we are still friends; he has called me again.

Pocket doors. I don’t like them. I worked on one at our church. It was a mess. The trucks the door rides on were missing along with other parts and pieces. I cut two small holes in the drywall inside a pantry to reach everything I needed to take out of the wall and install new components to make the door work correctly again. I think there is a better way! Manufacturers and builders, how about working on that?

For several years I’ve helped a family move their Christmas tree from the top of their SUV, install the base, take the tree in the house, and set it upright. They have 10 or 11 foot ceilings but are selling the house and will be in a new one before the end of summer. I am willing to bet the new house will have even higher ceilings.  If, so it might take a rigging crew for the next Christmas tree. Merry Christmas. I have another client who asks me hang garland and twinkle light on the front of their home. It is a labor of love for me. I enjoy the season — except when it’s cold. And I like the way the lights look and the scent from the garland.

More later.


Hey, I’m back

12 06 2018

If it seems like it’s been a while, that’s because it has. My business keeps me busy during the day and I don’t want to add blogging to the list of things I have to do at 10 or 11pm.

I have worked with several interior decorators which has, of course, led to my being introduced to even more interior decorators. I’ve learned a lot from them. Recently I was working in a local residence for an out-of-town decorator, Suellen, with whom I’ve worked several times. While we were there, a local framing shop delivered some newly-framed art to the house for me to hang. Charlie from the framing shop later gave my name to Liz, another decorator, and now I’ve completed several jobs for her. Networking is a great way to meet others who need my services.

On May 30th, while power washing a house, the ladder I was standing on started to slide against the gutters. I began climbing down quickly and saying over and over to myself, “ride it down.” I ignored my own advice; and when I got to a point what I thought was a low enough point, I jumped. Unfortunately, I was higher than I thought and landed mostly on one foot. It hurt really bad but I got up and finished the job. I put my power washer in the truck (where it still is today), I put my hoses, two ladders and my power washer in the truck. (The power washer is still there today.)  I drove home with my left foot and ankle hurting mildly. When I got home my ankle was stiff but I walked into the house where my wife asked why I was limping. I explained while taking off my shoe and sock exposing a very swollen and bruised ankle. She put some ice in a plastic bag. I laid on the couch where I iced and elevated my leg. After several questions and many looks at her computer she insisted we go to Urgent Care She was right, as she very often is. The x-ray showed a broken ankle. A trip to see the surgeon the next day and a trip to the O.R. the following day now I’m in recovery mode. NO weight bearing for six weeks. But it hasn’t stopped me from doing light jobs that don’t involve a ladder.

There are at least three things to take away from my post: (1) always ride the ladder down when it is falling; (2) listen to your spouse (She is looking at it from a different angle, especially when it is your ankle.), and (3) networking is valuable. Networking is so rewarding for you and for others you interact with. And not just monetarily.

End of 2015 leads to the start of 2016

31 12 2015

I have taken on a wide variety of jobs this year. Some of these jobs have expanded my knowledge of mechanical systems I have not been exposed to before.

I replaced two sump pumps, took down a prehung door and two days later put it back up, changed an X-ray room to a server room, put four shoe racks back on their tracks, replaced a garage door opener and I could go on.

I replaced one sump pump in October and it failed in December. I replaced it in December. I hope this one lasts longer. There are three in the building and all are needed.

A client decided to move. She had a couch in a bonus room and it would not come through the door. I took the door, jamb, and moldings down. The movers moved it out and I put the door back up.

A new job for me was a shoe rack repair. In most retail outlets shoes are stored in a back room on racks about 6 feet tall and about 18 inches deep and about 3 feet wide. These racks ride on metal wheels on metal tracks. The wheels got off the tracks. Did I mention the racks weigh about 600 or 700 pounds. I had to raise the racks and move them over to get them back on track. It involved multiple levers and blocks to raise the racks.

I’m willing to take on a wide variety of jobs so call me so we can discuss your Honey-do List.

It’s been too long

14 03 2015

Posting is one of those things I think about when I am doing a job or driving down the road but when I get to a place or time of day I can, I don’t. Enough excuses so I will jump right in and tell you about some of the jobs I have done in almost 2 years.

I had a new client ask me to install 2 sinks in her vanity. She and her husband bought them from Ikea in Charlotte. Everything was going well until it was time to connect the water supply lines and the drain lines. Ikea sinks and faucets are made to a Swedish specification and the supply and drain in this home was plumbed to a U.S. specification and they are slightly different. I had to chase down part to go between the provided faucets and drain and the plumbed piping in the home. It worked. I felt especially good about it because a plumber turned her down on doing the job. As far as I know she is still very happy which makes me happy.

I had a medical facility that had me do their small jobs and diagnosis of problems in the building. Their building has a flat roof with drains in strategic places to drain the water off. There were trees about 60 feet from the building and that was close enough for the leaves to get on the roof and collect in the drains causing a flooding situation, sometimes inside the building. I had to go on the roof about 3 times a year to clean out the drains. That building and Physician practice has been sold. I guess someone else is doing that now.

I now have 2 other medical practices that I help out now, moving boxes to storage, assembling furniture, moving furniture, hanging bulletin boards and that goes on. I do what they need and I enjoy it.

I have another couple I have helped to get their home staged and moved item around the house and to Habitat for Humanity. They have sold now and moved to temporary housing until the next home is ready for them.

I had the opportunity to replace some hinges in a toy store at the Mall. Hinge manufacturers don’t usually put their name on their hinges but this company did. As it turns out the manufacturer is in Kernersville, NC. I called them and they sent me new hinges. The toy store is back in business.

I have learned a lot about the watering systems that you see in the grocery store that keep your veggies fresh. I have worked on 4 different systems. Some of them are are very complex and the store wants them programed to deliver a specified amount of water and a specified frequency.

I got a call from the assistant of an interior decorator needing me to hang some art and about 40 decorative plates. I placed about 20 plates on 2 walls in the same large dinning room. That was tedious. I have since been back to install art and photos.

I have organized several garages. I can’t seem to organize mine but I can organize for someone else. Do you need your garage, basement, or workshop organized? Call me.

Of course I continue to clean lots of gutters. Several months back I worked on 3 pedestal sinks. I had not worked on a pedestal sink in years and probably will not work on any more in that many years again.

Recently I was asked to cut some broken hockey sticks so the client could make a hockey stick collage. I will have a picture for this also, later.

I have a ladder I can put on steps sideways and go up to the ceiling to replace ceiling tiles. In the building of 1 client I have done that several times. There is apparently a leak in the roof but until it gets bad enough to find it I will replace the tiles.

Last year I was asked to take down a broken and collapsed stained glass window. Someone had taken it out of it’s frame which was a massive wooden frame. They hung it with cup hooks in the leaded frame and cup hooks in the window frame where it was hung. The lead could not hold the weight. It fell from the top and folded in half. I carefully took it down and laid in the back of my truck. I got the wooden frame from the garage and took both to be restored. The owner said the window came from a church in England and it is many years old. I had the leaded glass restored and returned to the wooden frame and took it back to it’s home and hung it. I have a pictures that I will post at a later date.

Twice lately I was asked to remove a dishwasher from under the counter of 2 different homes. In 1 home the counter tops were put in with the dishwasher already installed. The new stone counter tops were different than the the old Formica tops. There was not enough room to get out the dishwasher. I had to cut the feet off and then pull it out. When it was time to go back in I was able to reinstall the feet and the unit is working now. The other dishwasher the tile floor was installed with the dishwasher installed. I cut the feet out and still didn’t have enough room to get it out. I found that this one had a metal brace glued to the underside of the counter top over the dishwasher. I had to remove that to get the unit out. When it was time to install the new unit I had to take the wheels off the back and the feet off the front. Once I got it in place I had to block it in place because it didn’t have feet to stabilize it. I think I have mentioned before that I like doing jobs that others do not want to do but need to be done. I had another client that told me she thought she had mice. As it turns out, she did. I found where they were getting into her crawl space and repaired that. She had bought Decon and I placed it along with water in the crawl space. I checked on the Decon in 1 week and the packs were eaten. I put out more of Decon and checked on them a week later. Some of the packs were eaten. I put more and checked on them in 1 week. They were not eaten. I think we caught them at just the right time to stop a full invasion of mice.

I was asked to remove a trash compactor and build a wine rack to go back in the hole under counter. I suggested putting in a wine fridge. She bought the wine fridge from Amazon and I built a little stand for it and painted black the sides of the cabinet inside the hole.

I built a wall 40 feet long and 30 inches high on the lower end. I started on it last July when it was nice and hot. I had to dig the place for the wall by hand and move the soil to the back yard. I used 4X6 treated wood to build the wall. That was not my first wall but this was the longest with the most digging. I have pictures for this also. I hope this is an enjoyable read for you. Feel free to contact me with questions or critique. Let me know if you want me to post more often, or less. I would like to hear from you.

Something new!

29 03 2013

Today I worked on a dog kennel in a sleep over camp for dogs. The kennels are stacked 2 high and I repaired a problem on the top kennel that was damaged during some renovations. The bottom of the kennel is about 4′ x 4′ and is floored with FRP, fiberglass reinforced plastic, and during the renovation someone dropped something heavy on that floor and broke through. They tried to patch it with some type of sealant, probably silicone. The floor was cemented to the cross members, 1″ box steel, about 7″ on center apart. Getting the adhesive to turn loose was difficult. I had to get in the kennel below and drive a wedge between the floor and the cross members. Anyway, I got the old floor out and installed the new floor. I had silicone sealant that I used to seal around the sides, front, & back. Sealing was critical. If it is not sealed when the dog on top eliminates it would get on the dog below. I like doing things I have never done before. I used some skills I have developed to accomplished caulking showers and bath tubs to apply the sealant.

Speaking of showers and bath tubs, I have now cleaned out the old caulk & grout and replaced it with new silicone caulk in 4 tubs and showers in 3 weeks. I guess I will not do any more for another year.

I got the walls painted this week. The home has 1 wall that is about 20′ high. I had to use my 24′ extension ladder and my 12′ step ladder. Part of the wall and trim around a window had never been painted so I had to prime it first then paint it. Did I mention there was a crack in the corner from top to bottom on that 20′ wall. I repaired that first and during my time there would sand and apply another coat of joint compound then sand again. I survived that painting job and they want me to do more. I will.

I also installed several Life Alert systems this week along with everything else.

Let me know if there is anything I can do for you. I will find the time.  

I’ m back with lots to write about, but I will hold back.

22 03 2013

I realize it has been a while since I have written anything here. I want to talk about that and more. I had a very busy 2012, so much so that I didn’t take time to sit down at night and fill you in on what I was doing.

I think I have said before that painting is not my favorite task to do. Well I started painting ceilings in 2 room in a beautiful old home close to downtown Raleigh. For those of you not from around here the city is RA LEE, or as some of the old folks when I was a kid would say it RAWLEE. I think either is correct. Those 2 ceilings turned into the ceiling in every room and the walls in 2 more rooms. I worked on the painting for about 3 weeks total. I also had to remove the pine bark mulch from the front and back yards and driveway. I first made a mulch pile in one corner of the back yard but later had to move it away from the home. I gave several loads to a friend and put them in his parking spot in the parking lot where NCSU plays football. I hope they don’t go up in flames when some charcoal is dropped from a grill onto the pine bark. I also painted the ceiling in an old home in Durham. That’s DUR AM, all together now, Durham. I am painting several walls in a home Monday. I hope I get it all done Monday.

There is a medical facility I do a lot of work in and I install a lot of polycarbonate on some wall there. One place there I placed a strip 10″ wide and about 14′ long. They were having a problem with a gurney leaving a room and not being able to make a turn coming out of the door without hitting the wall on the other side. With the poly strip in place the wall doesn’t get gashes in it. I also install a lot in an area where fluids are given to patients and at times some of these fluids would end up on the walls. The poly can be cleaned easier, so it was a success.

I continue to install Life Alert systems in the area. I have installed in Wake, Durham, and Johnston county as well as Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Apex, Knightdale, & Wendell. If you or someone you know needs the benefit of a Life Alert system contact me and I can have a Life Alert sales person call you.

I know I have talked about trends in my work. This week I painted 2 metal outside handrails. I have not painted any handrails in years. I also replaced 4 disposals in 2 weeks and removed one, repaired it and replaced it the week before. I know there is a season for leaves in your gutters, a season for cleaning decks, and spring cleaning. But I don’t think there is a season for painting handrails or changing disposals.

In February I replaced a light hanging from a 12′ ceiling. I had to go back to take it down and put up an identical light. There was a problem with the first light.

I hope it is not too long before I write more here. I know you are itching to hear more very soon.

Swinging high

1 09 2012


I recently had a client email me that she wanted a swing in her yard. This swing is actually for her daughter but when she goes to college it will become the family swing. We had some discussion about design of the swing and size, some of the usual questions I had as the person that was going to be responsible for taking the idea to fruition. She gave me a drawing with 3 possibilities. I sent her a picture of a swing I built for my wife based on her design. The client loved it and said build it. I purchased the material and started. In less than 20 hours I had it built. I stopped by later and took the picture of the completed swing for my use and posted it here. I hope you like it and maybe I can build you a swing. 

Recent endevors!

11 07 2012

Recently I have had several decks to clean and treat. The largest has taken a long time because the deck treatment instructions say don’t treat at 90 degrees or above. We have had many days that 90 degrees was reached by 11:30am and I quit. I am now caught up with the deck treatment.

Another client asked me to move a large pile of brick pavers from a home he is selling to another home has purchased. I have moved all of them and did a rough count and I move about 1700 bricks. There are 250 bricks in a cube like you would see on a construction site. That cube of bricks weighs about 1200 pounds. I had to handle those bricks I moved at least 4 times to pick them up off the ground, load them on the trailer, take them off the trailer and place them in their next temporary location. I had to dig some of them out of the ground several inches. Now you can do the math to know how many pounds of bricks I handled over a several day period. There is a concrete walk from the street to the steps onto the porch. I graded an area of the yard from this walk to the driveway to lay a new walk. The ground was very hard but I got it done. I will put a picture here soon.

I have been doing some continuing maintenance in the 100 year old Mekes building in Apex. I really like working there. I day dream of when it was a livery stable and hardware store, back in the day, many days ago.

With very little winter it is still nice to have spring!

14 04 2012

Well I think I have the low voltage lights down the driveway of a client working as she would like. She has a demanding situation, a long, dark, curvy driveway. Now on to more recent endeavors.

I have trimmed trees, changed a disposal, repaired the mullions in a window in a very old house, spread and place 10 yards of mulch, diagnosed the problem of a non functioning garage door opener. I referred that one to All About Doors” Harold. Harold is a friend of a friend. Harold used to work at Custom Overhead Doors when my friend Bruce used to own it. Now Harold is in business for himself and has helped me out on a couple of occasions. Friday he was called in again after my diagnosis was “it is over my knowledge, you need to call Harold.” Harold told her with the age of this opener it would probably be very difficult to get parts so it would be best to change the opener. She also has a wooden door with issues of it’s own. We have fought water infiltration in the joints of the wood and the bottom of the door to the concrete floor. This door is very heavy which makes me wonder why the opener lasted so long. I think she is going to replace the door also. I think this is good. Another job Friday was a hard one for me. I was asked to patch a hole in a piece of paneling in a finished basement. The hole was larger than expected and the whole 4′ X 8′ sheet had to be replaced. When I pulled the old paneling down I found that the furring strips at the bottom of the wall at the junction with the floor was rotten and for the most part, gone. I think the “finish” job of the basement was not done correctly and now I have been asked to patch it. I don’t like to do something messy or part way. That is what made it hard for me. If I had done this job the way I would have liked to, I would pulled down more paneling until I found where the rot stopped and start back with new material. I guess I have to do some things with less than the desired results on occasion.

I think I may have written about another client that has me change her water filter in her refrigerator. I did that last week and will go back as soon as pollen has finished polluting the atmosphere and coating every horizontal and some vertical surfaces to power wash her patio. She is very nice to me and I like hearing about her travels and she always ask me about my latest travel to some distant land.

Next week I will power wash a 2 story home and paint the had rails on the deck, clean out a storage unit and dispose of the unneeded old equipment, install 2 mirrors, assist in moving in a new client to the Cypress, and probably power wash the patio.

Do you have any projects that need to be done at your home or business? I have a wide variety of tricks in my bag. I not only repair but I also fabricate metal, wood, plastic, and my favorite, stone. You already know that I work on small engines and lawn mowers and that is an area of it’s own.