Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Invention Intervention - Foam It Up!

This is an invention to be shared. It's one I came up with myself and I encourage you to try it.  I'm sure you recognize the can of stuff pictured above.  It's a can of spray foam, used to fill in cracks and openings to keep out critters and drafts. The hard plastic tube allows you to aim the foam into even the smallest cracks and crevices. I use it EVERYWHERE I can! 

The problem?  To use the can of foam properly, you turn it upside down.  This means it's difficult to use the spray foam in ceilings or when you're crawling around under the house foaming spots above you. Oh sure, you can use it upright for the first few squirts, but you run out of usable foam quickly and it's best when inverted...even says so on the can. So, what do you do?

Just the other day, an idea came to me while wandering around the big hardware store.  Over in plumbing I picked up a 20' roll of polyvinyl tubing for a  mere $2.99

I took the roll home and cut off about 12-18 inches, leaving one end flat cut and the other with an angle about 45 degrees.  The straight part of the can of foam pops right off and the flat cut end of the tubing fits right on in it's place. The other end accepts the straight stick with a nice tight fit. (The angle cut helps here...)
The Result: Now you can invert the can and yet hold the stick UP to spray the foam up into whatever you like! (For one handed operation I attach the stick near the bottom of the cat with a strip of duck tape.)  When done, the vinyl tubing pops right off and can be discarded. (Total cost about 50¢.)  Run a pipe cleaner into the two plastic ends and they can be reused again and again!

When you show this off to your neighbors (and I'm sure you will) you can take all the credit you want, but be sure to say that it's Southern Thinking at Its Best!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Urban Greenery

It's a truly amazing place I live in.  I mean that. I discover more to enjoy every day.  Take today for instance. Every morning, I get off the bus for work a block early, just so I can walk by one restaurant where they are already cooking (read: bacon) and then walk by the art galleries (four of them!)  It relaxes me and reaffirms my love of this wonderful place. (Mmmm, bacon...!)

You can imagine my surprise when I come across the above.  Yes, you see it right; that is a stretch of green grass sod laid out carefully in the parking lane of the downtown two lane street.  A couple of us stood there and wondered about it for a while.  Art Installation? It is right in front of one of the art galleries.  Picnic Area? Hmm not really wide enough for a good picnic.  There is no fence around it, so it's there for some obvious reason.  AND the nifty red cones indicate that there may be more sod by the end of the day.  It's a conundrum of sorts that's for sure.

But all in all, this is one of the reasons I so enjoy living and working in the South - in Nashville in particular. It shows the constant energy of the people around you every day.  How many people came downtown today and didn't see this?  No one from my office saw it and were amazed when I showed them the photo. So, it's there only for the finite fortunate few who venture out enough to see the city.  

Ya gotta just love that about your city or town. I sure do.
Maybe there will be something in the paper later to explain this.


As it turns out, it was part of a downtown company's employee appreciation day.  Not sure how the grass played in, but it's nice to know.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Marv Returns to Write Another Day

12 ft. Sheets of drywall, not as easy as it sounds...
I'm getting to the point where I hate to go home.  I'm having to work on the house every free moment and when I'm not working on the house, I'm thinking about working on the house, thinking about the next part of the project, thinking about the cost, planning what tools I will need (and where I might have left them) along with the ever present "Did I get THEM all?"

As you can see, the floor has been replaced, along with 10 of the floor joists. (My neighbor, the retired construction worker helped with all that.) I've replaced many of the wall studs, and replaced the insulation.  I've added a couple of new outlets, fixed the outside walls and am beginning work on the drywall.  The work is getting done, but it's really taking a toll.

Such a toll, in fact, that I ended up spending the night in the hospital with a bleeding ulcer.  Not fun, and it also forced me to spend a couple of weeks not doing anything on the house. I just sit here staring at the plastic covering the room, remembering the half done drywall and trying not to think of all the little things that are not getting done. Double Not Fun.

So, to keep myself from ending up in the hospital again, or from slamming my head face first into the side of the bus on the way home from work, I've decided that I will (read: must) get back to The Marvinators Place and put down some decidedly non-termite related blog posts, digressions and all. 

I can tell that this puts you all in a quiver.
I promise not to digress (much) and give my retired English-teacher brother Bubba some much needed practice in correcting my Its and It's.  See you next week!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Life in the South- Taking a Break

This termite thing has been a wild wild ride and it's not over.  My emotions are gone.  I'm pretty much numb from it all. I encourage you all, if you own a home to have it inspected for termites on a regular basis, or learn how to do it yourself.  If you have a giving heart, please click the GOFUNDME link at the top right and give a little to help.  Every dollar will get my own personal Southern Thank you in reply!

I love the south. I love blogging and I like writing for those few who stop by regularly and read.   Please don't let my emotional setbacks deter you from reading some (or all) of my other posts on life in the south. If you scroll down on the right, you'll find the archive, and down further, some of the more popular posts this month.

I will return, but I'm just not sure how soon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Termite War - News From the Front

The Termite War has escalated. When the first signs of war were found, I crawled into enemy territory and engaged in hand to hand combat while at the same time spreading chemical deterrents in the form of Boric Acid.  A week later I found that the boric acid is doing well, but the termites are fighting back. They had built free standing tunnels (known as 'castles' in the trade)  in an effort to get to the wood in the floor of my living room.

Undaunted, I again attacked. This time I flooded them with wet boric acid, along with much slashing and mashing with my big metal putty knife.  (Yes, it sounds cute, but it's deadly to termites!  They run screaming from it like extras in a Godzilla movie!)

In addition, my arsenal has grown with the addition of POISON STAKES! (Insert loud evil laugh here.) I have implanted several 'bait and wait' stations around the house to draw in any termites and which will also kill entire colonies.  

Termites are not special in the South.  Termites can be found in every state in the union, except for Alaska.  I have to admit, that regardless, finding termites in your home can be a daunting and disheartening discovery.  As a Southerner, I've taken this on as another DIY project - mainly because I can't afford to pay anyone to do it.  

This blog may be late for the next few weeks as I tear out the floor in my living room and replace the termite eaten joists.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Under the House and Other Frightening Thoughts.

It's no secret, I hate going under my house and in the last couple of weeks, I've gone under there more times than I want to admit.  It's dark and dank and has all manner of man-sized eight-legged-creatures waiting for me to happen by so that they can do their worst.  I've made no bones about the fact that I really hate going under the house.  Why?  Ok, let's examine the factors. 

It's dark. In the movies there's always light from somewhere when someone is crawling under a house or in a dark cave, but under my house it's like crawling around the inside of a black box with a black sack on my head.  In recent years my wife has given me a couple of really good high intensity lights and they really do dispense with the dark when I'm down there so the dark isn't so bad. 

And then there's the smell.  It's a sort of deep double strong rich loamy smell added with overtones of heavy mold.  Even that is not as bad as it used to be since I found a really good respirator that filters out the mold and smells.  I used to spend the night after a trip under the house battling a fever or cough from breathing so much of the mold. Now, things are pretty good on that front. 

And, of course, the spiders.  The spiders are the worst!  Anything with more legs than a cat has no business living under my house!  I always take bug spray under the house with me to deal with the spiders along with a baseball bat, a hockey stick and a sawed-off shotgun! (Ok, I joke. I don't own a hockey stick.)

The real problem (other than the aforementioned spiders) is getting ready to go under the house.  It's not a walk in the park.  I have to start with special clothes.  The clothes I wear have to be old clothes because if they cannot come clean, they have to be burned.  Yes, burned. It's the only way to get rid of that smell. (Sometimes my wife has to wash them 3 times before they are good enough to just sit on the porch between subterranean expeditions.) I choose old blue jeans loose enough for crawling and getting into strange positions and a sweatshirt with a hood to protect my ears and head. So after I put on the pants and sweatshirt that have been hanging out on the patio, I carry my socks to the carport where I've kept my boots from the last trip under the house and finish getting dressed.

Then comes the 'gathering of the tools.'  I have to get together all the tools that I need to complete whatever job I'm going to be doing. I don't want to have to come out from under the house just to get that one thing I need to finish that one job. So, I think through the job and gather everything.  Screwdrivers, spray foam, paper towels, and of course the two new lights. This can take an hour or  more as I track down those little special tools that I need - where did I leave that putty knife? What about that hand auger?  Oh wait, I'm going to need my duck tape..where is it?  It can take a while to find them all. 

Once the tools are gathered, It's time finalize my outfit. I wear a pair of gel filled knee pads (thank you to the wife, once again, who got them for me.) The knee pads need special care.  They need to be duck-taped into place so that they will stay in place while I crawl around on all fours and sometimes on my stomach while I'm 'down under.' Lastly, the respirator, which must be strapped into place and tested.  Then the light which straps onto my forehead and I'm ready for the dungeon.  Oh wait, where are my gloves? 

By this point, I'm totally worn out from getting ready.
Maybe a nap before I head under the house.  ...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tunneler II - The Evil Spawn in the Lawn

Not long ago I wrote about these little critters who live under my lawn. No, not leprechauns, these are destructive little vermin known as moles. They've all but ruined my nice neat lawn! They tunnel around under the lawn eating worms and even as cool as a bunch of subterranean tunnels sounds, they must go.  The tunnels and the moles.  Hey, the tunnels are too small for me, anyway. 

In addition to writing about them, I also explained a tried and true southern solution to the problem, namely Juicy Fruit Gum.  Last week, in the early evening, sun still streaming down in the hours after work, I had plenty of time to go out and carefully put Juicy Fruit gum into 6 or 7 areas of the tunnels. It is important to not get your smelly human scent on the gum, so I carefully broke it up using the paper it was wrapped in and placed them into several  of the open holes and a few I even cut into the tunnels.  I then let them sit for 3 days.

Bright at early Saturday morning I went to complete the 2nd part of my Lawn Wars Attack: Shock and Awe! Dressed in my pajama pants, a tee shirt and a long sleeved light jacket, I donned my hard garden shoes and went out to smash down the tunnels. Using a short, but heavy, step and jamming my heels into the soft dirt I went over as much area as I could smashing down the soft tunnels and returning the lawn to some semblance of flat.  I knew that if you don't get the lawn as flat as possible, the little hillocks will get hard as a rock and pushing a mower over it will be like 4 wheeling with no suspension.

I'm sure I looked the foole (with the requisite extra 'e') as I stomped up and down the yard, taking ultra small steps to be sure I got as much coverage as possible. I probably looked like I was doing some strange and ancient "Lawn Dance" as I moved up and down, stomping and stomping. Then I found something surprising. The tunnels covered more than half my yard!  It was a veritable mole-a-lapalooza! 

I finally wore myself out and went in. Now, comes the waiting game. Waiting to see if the moles come back or if the Juicy Fruit did the trick. In the meantime, the photo above shows what they do to a lawn. The smashed tunnels leave big brown spots rife for weeds to take over before the grass fills in. What am I lawn is mostly weeds anyway.

It's still going to be a bumpy mow, but at least I feel like I've made a good southern attempt at it.  Time will tell.