June 06, 2021

Stella - VWs - Landscaping

I hope to get Stella into the vet on Monday when I call. She is now limping with every step she takes, even on her front legs. Some think she has arthritis. Feeling her stomach I fear she also has a tumor. I have been giving her this supplement for years for her hips. I could see a major difference when I started but now wonder if it makes any difference at all. Her smiles are normal, she wags her tail, her appetite is normal and water intake. One day in the backyard grass she even tried trotting a short distance. One of the vets at the new place I plan on taking all of my dogs, specializes in older dogs with these types of issues and treating with alternative methods. I don't want her to spend the rest of her life living on prednisone. 

It was only a week ago Sunday I installed some gutter guards. I have the smaller 5" gutters and the company I talked to said they still had 5" guards at $5 per foot but everything was moving to 6" gutters in the future. These were metal so I thought at $2.39 for 3' sections I would give them a try first. Years ago in the house up north I used plastic guards and they worked quit well. It was an easy install until the very last piece. It took me the whole gutter system to realize what that small notch was for, you see in the lower left ... I had to start over, take off every piece and then slide the new section over until that notch met the previous piece so they were interlocked. Only took 50 minutes to do that but 37 minutes cutting new end pieces where the sections were too short. We have had enough rain this past week to prove they worked well.

I prefer stock radios in FJ's. My 2010 that I just had delivered last Tuesday did not come with one, but a Pioneer made in November 2020 and will do Apple CarPlay without plugging your iPhone. Even in the 2021 models I had the iPhone had to be plugged in for Apple CarPlay. Now, how do I know all about the mfg date and model. You find that kind of information out when you have to take out the radio. I wasn't a mile down the road when the radio slide back into the space it was taking. Obviously they had not followed the instructions for installation. There were no brackets to attach the new radio to the dashboard. They had used some high power black glue on a very very thin edge. Terrible combination.

I stopped by Best Buy's radio installation department. He took time to look on the internet for the brackets I needed, although the original FJ radio brackets were to be used. I bought them on Amazon and had enough points built up that the brackets and shipping were free. But before they arrived I wanted to try something. Gorilla Tape is just as good as Gorilla Glue I have found. So I taped that radio in all different directions to built in pieces where the radio fit. I cut out the tape where air vents and plugs needed to be.

I will leave it that way until the tape no longer works, then install it using the brackets. So far after 60 miles of driving, the touch pad radio is stable, doesn't move and works as designed. I finished this job mid afternoon Thursday ... then I decided to try something. LOL ... what a mess I got myself into.

When thin Toyota vinyl has been on the FJ since 2010 to protect the front from rocks, the adhesive is really hard to get off. With the worn look, I wanted to peel that film off and then use Goof Off to take off the adhesive. Starting around 3:30pm Thursday I thought I could have it completed by the time the sun went down. I cannot tell you how many times I asked the hounds and the dog "What have I done"?

By the time I stopped Thursday night I had only got the film off and cleared off some adhesive on the right corner piece. Almost three hours, a trip to AutoZone for those plastic putty knives and I was not even close to being finished. I was in a jam and had to get all of that old adhesive off before I could move to my next project.

With the hounds and the dog supervising, they gave me permission to stop for the day and come back Friday morning with some new ideas. Stella always hangs around unleashed if she is near me. Henry has to be connected to something because there is just so much new stuff he wants to investigate from people, neighbors yards and the front yard. Walter is the protector of the house and will roam off leash, watching dog walkers pass by, the kids playing catch across the street or a neighbor mowing their yard ... won't leave the house. He just watches and then trots back to me when I call him.

I start again early Friday morning and am encouraged after I cleaned off that small space you see that is very white. That was false excitement because it was not going to get any easier. After about an hour I called a local body shop, told them what I was doing and asked what they would do. They said they would do it exactly the same way using the same Goof Off but would cost me $68 per hour and it was about a 2.5 hour job. They added I needed to keep it in the shade out of the sunlight. So I pulled it into the garage, moving the 1960 VW truck out to the driveway ... which later motivated me to the next project.

Just like they said it was slow but I was making progress until the small can of Goof Off was empty. That meant another trip to Lowes for more stuff. Between that, the plastic putty knives and a cool shaded garage, things were progressing much better than they had on Thursday afternoon.

It was a little past noon when I took my completion photos to send to some friends that thought I had lost my mind on Thursday. I "Henry Proofed" the garage and was so happy the FJ project was finished, it was time to take the VW truck to get some top soil. A LOT of topsoil. Some may laugh but just wait until you see what that 61 year old truck can haul up and down steep hills during the three mile drive home.

Someone was suppose to meet me in the bulk loading section of Lowes outside. The cashier called for assistance but I didn't see anyone show up. So I loaded the 30 bags of top soil weighing 40 pounds a piece on the back of the truck. With the sides folded down, it made the job much easier although the bags never got lighter. My watch told me I was getting a good workout at 113 bpm in 85° sunshine.

With the larger BF Goodrich AT AO2's, the truck bed lowered a little with 1200 pounds on the back. With the strong 1600 engine and reduction gear boxes still in place I drove up to steep hills with ease on the way home.

You can see just left of the truck why I am putting down top soil and planting grass. The previous owner from what I was told, use to like to have large number of people to watch ballgames in the garage, doors open and a party. Well after years of guests parking their cars in front along the street, all the grass had worn down to a hard packed gravel parking lot. Ive done this at my other house before so I know it works although possibly not as professional as a landscaping company. I needed to get this finished by Saturday night with the next batch of rains on the way.

30 bags got me that far. About what I expected when I was loading the truck. It looked like Saturday morning would be a repeat but wouldn't take me that long. I planned on getting to Lowes by 7am to start loading another 30 bags.

Same process as Friday as far as paying for the bags inside, then having the same cashier call for assistance out in the bulk loading area. Only this time ... a dream come true. I did not have to lift one bag onto the truck. The young guy smiled and said "will she handle a pallet" and I replied "she loves palletized products" ... on she went.

He lowered the pallet of top soil onto the truck bed, tires holding up well while he scooted the pallet forward the rear axle. For those that may think it would snap the springs due to overweight ... there are no springs on these trucks. Just solid German steel the length of the truck and more solid steel crossmembers under the truck bed. I don't think I would load more than 2,000 pounds though. So my truck has proven to be a good work truck and one reason I bought it. It has hauled longer than 7' aluminum to recycling and now a total of 2,400 pounds of top soil in two trips. What is it's next job?

It was early Saturday morning but I had a hunch that 30 bags was not going to be enough. I was a bag short. After some raking and moving of soil, some spots not quite as deep as others but still looking good ... I filled in what was missing with one bag short. I had a bag of potting soil in the shed that made up the difference.

By 9:30am Saturday morning all the top soil had been laid, grass seed planted and watered. All waiting for the rains Saturday night after midnight. I knew it before I moved and decided I could live with it ... rain. The forecast shows rain for the next seven days. Until next Sunday. So ... after the tools were put on the truck to take inside the garage later to unload them. I fired up the mower and got another 50 minutes of exercise in ... best to mow before the rain instead of mowing taller grass next week due to the rains.

I bought the smaller plants for $1.99 and they barely filled the pot until a few days of rain last week and they tripled in size.

I almost gave away this pot and cactus before I moved from Arizona, thinking no way cactus would like midwest rain but it seems to love it. The movers sat the pot there and it has not moved in over a month. Looks like I have a little porch work and painting in my future. 

I know it's a house plant but the mover sat the pot there on the covered front porch. It has taken advantage of the rains and has four new leafs in 30 days. I will leave it there until the fall when it gets colder. I will probably move it to a larger pot I have.

Washing windows Thursday morning I ran on to this. I am not sure if these large windows prop open. They seem too heavy for that. But obviously with that latch and the ones below, they do open up. Inside there is another window that is built into the frame of the house. It is low on the priority list but I will at least take the paint off of each latch and investigate further on how the windows work. House was built in 1959, with additions and remodels afterward. 

As you can see all of this activity simply wore out the hounds and the dog.

After all the activity it was time for dinner. I am really liking the grill I bought. I use it a lot but it needs to be cleaned. I plan to buy a grill brush and other grill stuff today when I go shopping. I am almost out of food so shopping is a requirement today. The rains did come after midnight and have continued this morning. So off an on rain for the next seven days. Sunshine now as I type this. 

I knew when I moved and thought about it before I decided to buy any house back here, there would be yard work and stuff to do on the house. Would I be able to do that after a two year vacation in Arizona rock landscaping. I enjoy that type of work actually and have so far. I like mowing the yard since this one is much easier to mow than the house up north where I lived for 21 years. This is level, not bumpy and the front yard is not on a slanted hill. 

So as you see, not a lot of photos for the hounds and the dog but they are enjoying their new yard and their house. They love their neighbors and vice versa. Henry has not figured out that his new friends left for the weekend and will not be in the yard to talk to him. He still sits and waits for them though.

All is good in "the tropics" of southern Indiana.


  1. You have really been busy and getting a good workout along the way. Front yard looks amazing and when the new grass comes it will look complete.

    Hoping that Stella can get some help from the vet. Our Black Lab had similar issues and its so hard when you (the human) can't make it go away.

    Your VW truck is an amazing work horse and you were so smart in how you unloaded the bags right on the spot where needed.

    1. Slowly getting things done. I couldn't wait until the middle of July for the landscaping company to fit me in their schedule. I decided to do the three jobs my self, two more to go. Front yard gets the morning sun and it is raining off and on today and this week, so the grass should get a good start. I am very sad about Stella because I cannot tell if she is panting because she is hot or in pain. I hope she can get some kind of relief this week. I also only opened three bags at a time, leveled the soil before the next three. I did not want one big pile or piles of dirt to move.

  2. Hope you have a good vet visit for Stella tomorrow. It's tough to see when they are uncomfortable like that. Can't get over how beautiful your neighborhood is. All the green just kind of flows...looks just like a park.

    1. I thought today was Saturday and couldn't figure out why they were not open today. LOL. Then trying to find the time of the Reds game today I found out it was Sunday. I requested a Monday morning appointment on their website. Any time from 8 to 10am was open. So I will see what happens tomorrow morning hopefully. The neighborhood is just like a park built on farm land in 1959. It's quiet.

  3. That hardware on the window reminds me of the storm-windows we used to hang each fall and remove in the spring. In our case (childhood home) the window behind it opened and was screened.

    1. Interesting. In this case the window behind it is built into the window frame of the house. Screens only on the small windows at the bottom, that fold outward.