The Six Foot Fence

Starting over a week ago, our next door neighbor, Pat, has been having a six-foot privacy fence installed. This should prove to be a blessing. She has the most obnoxious pack of four little dogs – they bark at everything all day long. They bark at us when we are outside. They bark at our dogs when they’re out during the day. They bark at their own shadows in the evening sometimes it seems.

The fence encompasses a huge amount of land. Her house is situated rather off-center in her plot of land. With a fence all the way around, clearly delineating the property, it looks a bit lop-sided since the fence extends so much further to the east (to the left if you were standing at the street looking at her front door) than it does to the west. Unfortunately, despite the impressive perimeter, it fails to surround the mess in her yard. She used to have two big PODS next to her driveway, but there is now only a pile of debris. The fence does not hide it from our view. So we’ll be planting some leyland cypruses over there to shield us from the unsightly scene.

Pat is the nicest person next to which a home-owner could live. She has a garden and has been very helpful in the past, loaning us her lawn equipment from time to time. But she isn’t quite as chatty as of the last couple of years. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve done something to upset her, but perhaps she’s busy with other things. Despite her beaming generosity, we have still secretly spurned her annoying dogs and her less-than-beautiful yard. So the fence will be a welcome addition.

The Rain Barrel

Last weekend we built a rain barrel for one of the downspouts on the front of our house. We have one that empties by the front porch, behind a large bush. The bush makes the perfect cover for a rain barrel:

Ninja rain barrel demonstrates stealth

We managed to build one for only $20. Unfortunately, we didn’t take pictures when we were building it – otherwise I could show you the step-by-step to saving yourself a bunch of money (apparently rain barrels can sell for upwards of $100).

We started with a 32-gallon RubberMaid trash can – only $15 from your neighborhood Lowe’s or Home Depot. We then bought fittings from the plumbing aisle: one brass faucet threaded to accept a hose on one end. The other end of the faucet was threaded, too. The threads screw into a piece of PVC, which is then connected via PVC cement to another piece of PVC that has a large threaded tail with a large flange. We drilled a hole in the bottom of the barrel, through which the threaded tail fit. A little plumber’s putty around the threads, a rubber gasket, and a very tight nut securely fasten that piece to the barrel.

Look, ma, no leaks!

We had to do some surgery to the downspout to make room for the rain barrel. It involved removing one of the elbow ends, cutting the main line (since the barrel is several feet tall), and then re-attaching the remaining elbow. You can see from the pic that we also cut a hole in the plastic lid so that the downspout reaches right in (look to the left of the blurry face):

Will, standing proudly next to his rain barrel

The weather refused to produce moisture for an entire week after we had the barrel readied. But Saturday it rained. It didn’t even rain that heavily, but the barrel filled up all the way nevertheless. It was overflowing Sunday. It probably overflowed a lot because it really rained on Sunday. It continues to rain today. Here’s the state of the barrel now – still full and overflowing:

The Mirror of Galadriel

The John Butler Trio

This past weekend we went to a concert with two other couples. One couple, Karen and Cliff Jones, accompanied us on the last concert we saw (you can re-read about those misadventures here). The other couple, Paul and Melanie Manning, are more friends of ours from my workplace. We met them in the evening at the Landmark Diner, down the road from the amphitheater in Chastain Park. From there were caravan’ed to a parking lot in the park and begun the tailgating festivities. The festivities mainly consisted of eating Chinese food (for us anyway – the Mannings brought sushi; the Joneses brought sub sandwiches) and telling tales of mischievous kids, of which we all get our fill.

After a dinner in the parking lot, we meandered to the amphitheater. The John Butler Trio was the act that Malin and I were most excited about seeing, and they did not disappoint. In fact, they were awesome. They played a good set of songs, a long set, and were really fun to watch. John Butler makes his acoustic guitar spit out truly unreal sounds with the occasional aid of a slide and an overdrive pedal. They had one of the members of Arrested Development join them on the stage during one of the songs. They rocked the house. The only regret was that they didn’t play one of my favorite songs, Daniella.

After the trio came G. Love and Special Sauce – the same act as our last musical outing. This time G. Love played a slow and sleepy set. A highlight was when he drifted into a rendition of Jack Johnson’s Rodeo Clowns. We left a little early because Malin got really tired and wanted to go. We had already seen G. Love and knew we’d survive if we missed the last few songs. Karen and Cliff also had to go to relieve their baby-sitter of duty. Karen is a huge G. Love fan, so she was more bummed to have to take off early. After speaking with Paul this morning at work, I learned that we only missed three songs. And, due to the curfews they have at Chastain Park (it is in a very ritzy neighborhood that doesn’t like loud rock’n’roll concerts going on late at night), there were no encores. When G. Love left the stage, the night was all over.

We arrived home at a reasonable hour and went straight to bed… (I’m still recovering from a cold that I’ve been fighting for over a week now)

The Lord of the Rings

Last night, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy could be seen on network television. We weren’t sure how much of it would be suitable for Will to watch, but he was too excited by it for us not to try. It was quite a choppy evening. Even being “edited” for network television, it has still has more than enough violence in it (including the occasional beheaded orc or impaled villain). Luckily we’ve seen all three films (and even own them on DVD), so we knew what was coming. Our frequent changing of channels right when the action started going seemed to really frustrate Will, but we assured them that they were fighting too roughly for him to watch. The second film, The Two Towers, was the worst. He saw considerably less than half of the film due to the constant battling with Orcs and the long battle of Helm’s Deep.

He did not get to see the end of the film – partially due to the violence and scary sequences but mostly due to the fact that it did not end until 11:45pm.

And to think that today he didn’t want to watch 102 Dalmations (which was playing on some channel earlier today after he got home from school) because – get this – it was too scary. Wonders never cease…