Finally, the reveal. Pictures of our side yard path

It’s taken all winter, but I finally have pictures of our side yard project.

One of the reasons the reveal has taken so long is because I think our side yard path looks very homemade. I’m glad we did it, and to have the project done. Eventually, I will stop noticing the many flaws but I don’t think it looks fabulous.

Things started off well. Five pavers fit just right, taking up the entire path. My eyeballing of spacing was okay.

After those six rows, the house jutted out the tiniest bit and suddenly there was a problem. Four pavers were too few, but five pavers wouldn’t fit. I knew from reading the various how-to books, that I was supposed to cut the pavers down to size. But that was beyond my capabilities, so I tried making big spaces between the pavers. And I tried to make them even, but it didn’t exactly work.

By the time I got to the gate, I remembered that I should be using guides to place the stones in just the right spot. I didn’t go back and fix what had gone wrong (forever marching forward is one of my best and worst features) but made some plans for what would happen just past the gate.

On the other side of the gate, I started using spacers to better arrange the pavers. My spacers were two of the stakes we used to mark the edges of the project. I also started filling in the extra space with the bricks we used for the edging, but placed sideways. This allowed for some play when things didn’t fit just right.

And I learned that properly leveling things is very important, as is establishing some straight guidelines.

This was very much a beginners project and we made a lot of mistakes, but all this winter I walked on that very solid path without getting my feet muddy, and this summer I will not be striding through weeds. So ultimately, this is a win.

Next up: a redo of the backyard. And I’ll finally sweep that extra sand off of the path.

SKS Postcards: Spring Break

These are my favorite style of postcards, especially when the downtown doesn’t look like it has quite enough visual attractions to fill up all six letters.
Sara reports that the temperature got up into the 50s during their walking tour.

This postcard came from Rochester Minnesota, where Sara and her husband stopped on their way to Galena.

She reports that there was a picture of corn also painted on the water tower in Rochester.

Three sentence movie reviews: Rules Don’t Appy

Another film in my project to catch up with Alden Ehrenreich before Solo: A Star Wars Story is released.* Both Ehrenreich and Collins were good in their roles, and it’s always nice to see Annette Bening, but overall this movie was not very good. This movie could not decide if it was film about two people who work for Howard Hughes, or a film about Howard Hughes.**

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home

*He seems to have an inherent stiffness–which I find delightful–that seems to be directly in contrast to Harrison Ford’s laid back Han Solo. I’m very interested to see what happens with the movie.
**Probably because Mr. Ego was both directing and playing Howard Hughes.

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Three sentence movie reviews: Love Simon

This movie offers another great performance by Nick Robinson and a delightful supporting cast, including Alexandra Shipp as Abby and Katherine Langford as Simon’s best friend Leah.  While the movie was a tad bit slow, overall, it contained a great rollercoaster of feelings.  Even when things are good and life is easy, coming out can be hard.

Cost: $5.35 (but free due to gift cards)
Where watched: Regal City Center Stadium 12 with S. North

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Lighting update: we now live in the future

The entire 10+ years we have lived in our house, our porch light has not functioned very well. When we flip the switch, the light comes on about 15% of the time. We eventually stopped flipping the swtich. We live on a major street. It is not at all dark on our front steps. Calling an electrician to fix the problems was very far down on the list.

I contemplated installing a motion sensor light, but that was also quite far down on the list. Luckily, technology caught up with my needs.

The light that is coming from that porch light is an LED bulb that has a motion sensor built in! All I had to do was screw the bulb in, flip on the light and wait for it to get dark. It now turns on and off automatically. This was the best $12 I have ever spent.

Biking update: paying for supplies

When I started biking to work again, I needed to invest in some bike-worthy clothing for the winter months. While getting to work via bike is much cheaper than via car, it does have its costs. The trick, as with all saving money things, is to keep them below the cost of other ways to get to work.

(The only thing cheaper than bike riding would be walking to work, as it only requires a decent pair of shoes and something to keep the elements out. It does take substantially more time, though.)

In my case, I can pay $5 per day to ride the train round trip, or I can bike and pocket the cost of the commute. When I make a big bike purchase, I like to see how long it takes to pay it off. This keeps me in economical bike gear as bike jackets can be very expensive.

While I was riding to pay off my bike gear, someone stole my bike light and I had to pony up 6 more days of biking to break even on that.
I spent $115.00 on gear. Here’s what I bought:

At Goodwill, I went to the men’s section and bought three sweaters/sweatshirts. I was hoping for wool to keep off the rain, but no wool sweaters were to be found. I also bought four long-sleeved long-johns-type shirts for a base layer. Also, because my job involves walking to the bank to deposit checks, and not wanting to wander the city in my biking outerwear, I bought a second work coat to leave at work, which cost $30.00. Goodwill in Portland tends to be a rather expensive endeavor, considering it’s all used clothing that are donated.

My plan was that I would have the base layer and the heavy sweater and that would be enough to keep me warm. When it rained, I would use my bike poncho. However, I forgot something important: pockets.

Unless it is very cold (which doesn’t happen very often in Portland, even in the winter) I start my commute wearing those small stretchy gloves one can buy at every discount store in the winter. Halfway through the ride, my hands warm up and I take off the gloves and shove them in my pockets.

No pockets meant I lost some gloves, because they fell out of my basket. Also, I wasn’t adequately lit, which meant bringing along a reflective vest which was yet another layer to put on and take off.

So I had to pony up some more cash and return to my trusty affordable jacket to wear while biking (as opposed to a bike jacket.)  The orange monstrosity you see, is a flagger windbreaker. I previously had one in yellow, which I wore for many years. I was very excited to see that now I had the option of orange. This jacket costs around $40, is a nice layer against rain and cold, is obnoxiously reflective and also has pockets. I recommend such a jacket to all economical bike riders. In fact, I wish more people would wear them because I feel 20% dorky in mine and if they were more ubiquitous, that feeling would probably fade.
As the winter wore on, I realized I had overbought. I could have easily done with two sweaters and two base layers, which would have reduced my cost by about $20.

Overall, I’m happy with my biking clothing choices and feel that they served me well during the cold season. I’m looking forward to using them again next year, when they will be “free” to use.

Of note: I don’t factor in the cost of annual tune-ups to my bike commute costs. My tuneup this year cost $250 which means it would take 25 weeks of twice-per-week biking to pay it off. That’s too depressing to think about. I’m going to have a bike even if I don’t commute to work via bike, so I’m looping annual tuneup price into my “general vehicle expenses” category.

Three sentence movie reviews: Meet me in St. Louis

There are so many delightful moments in this movie, especially if you skip the super bizarre Halloween scene.* I especially appreciated the sets and costumes, which Technicolor showed off perfectly. The family interactions are what buoys this movie, and the songs are delightful.

Cost: free from library
Where watched: at home, as part of Filmspotting’s Minnelli Marathon.

*What the heck is going on there? Aside from all the children making huge fires and hazing other children, was it considered a good thing to get flour thrown in your face by a small child?  If not, why even answer the door?

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Lizzy Acker is my new favorite reporter for the Oregonian

I initially took this picture because I’m pretty sure when that couple on the right married 75 years ago, they had no idea that their long marriage would someday be featured in the newspaper next to a workout involving pole dancing.

The story about the married couple was great, and also so was the article about pole dancing as exercise. Check out Lizzy Acker’s first three paragraphs.

And also the last four paragraphs.

Aside from general reporting, which she also seems to do, Lizzy Acker does oddball series. This is part of her week of weird workouts series. She’s also done an extensive review of black leggings; seven days of living like a kid in Oregon; and going dancing every night for a week in Portland.

In all these articles she brings a fun zing and some thoughtful weight to her words. I look forward to reading more from her.