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Category Archives: deck

Neither Hide nor Hair of a Bear

I think I’ve written about sitting on my sister-in-law Ruby’s deck before, but I thought I would mention in again, because it was one of the highlights of this past weekend in Vermont.

Ruby’s house is situated at the bottom of a wooded mountain. There is usually plenty of wildlife to observe. This visit, however, the area immediately surrounding the deck was eerily empty during the daytime. The reason was the absence of bird feeders.

Normally Ruby stocks three or four bird feeders, which attract a variety of our feathered friends along with an assortment of squirrels and chipmunks. Our dog, Tabby, is especially fond of chasing the squirrels. She’ll chase birds too, in a pinch, but Ruby would prefer she didn’t do that.

Unfortunately, the bird feeders also attract bears. One was even bold enough to come up on the deck and eat some of the cat food that was there. We’ve never seen a bear on any of our visits. I would be scared of a bear. I’ve read several Readers’ Digest Drama in Real Life stories about bear attacks. It is never good for the people involved.

Ruby’s bear has never bothered any people that we know of. After the deck incident, however, she emptied the bird feeders in hopes the bear would go elsewhere. It seems to be working, because we say neither hide nor hair of any bear.

After dark we did enjoy seeing a few foxes. Ruby threw out some cookies to entice them to come a little closer. Soon a fat raccoon appeared. He was not as shy and began hogging all the cookies. Ruby told us he usually does so.

I wanted to encourage the foxes to get some cookies. “Go, foxes,” I said. “Go! Go! Go!” Tabby, who had been nicely staying on the deck with us, thought I mean her and started for the stairs. We quickly called her back.

I’ll say this for dogs: they are very patient with what can only appear to be people’s inconsistency. We encourage her to chase squirrels but not birds or foxes. When we yell, “Go! Go! Go!” we usually mean her. But apparently not always. It turned out I had confused my dog to no purpose, because the raccoon got all the cookies anyways, the fat, greedy thing.

We enjoyed two nights of hanging out on the deck, taking in the scene. When we got ready to head for home on Sunday, I left Ruby some of Tabby’s food for the foxes (like the bear, Tabby preferred to eat the cats’ food). I suppose the raccoon will get it, but perhaps the foxes will at least get a nibble before he shows up. I hope Ruby is ready with the camera in case the bear returns.

Decked Out

One of the chores I had put off on Saturday for my marvelous history tour was working on the container garden for my deck. I still had time Saturday afternoon so I set out for Tripple’s Produce in Schuyler to see what I could do.

I had heard that the best selections for plants was the previous two weekends, but I wasn’t particularly worried. If there was less to choose from, it might make my selection process easier. I might even be able to keep from going overboard as I tend to do. So much for that hope.

My selection process is actually pretty easy: I want them all! I tried, I really tried to be conservative, but I ended up with two cardboard boxes of flowers. As I carried one to my truck, I saw that a nice young man had picked up the other. Tripple’s is a good place to get plants.

My next stop was Aubuchon Hardware in Herkimer to get dirt. A nice young man named Kyle helped me there. As usual, I was not sure exactly what I wanted (yeah, yeah, yeah, dirt. But there’s dirt and there’s dirt). Kyle showed me a bag. It was 1.5 cubic feet to 2, which I remembered I had gotten before. Kyle already had the 1.5 cubic feet bag on his shoulder when I saw the stuff I had gotten last time. I decided to stick with what I had. Well, what Kyle had.

“After all, it’s already up on your shoulder.”

“Oh, that’s all right.”

It turned out to be on sale, too, so bonus. I drove home, wrestled it out of the back of my truck and got to work.

And ran out of dirt before I ran out of plants. Steven was due home for lunch, so I seized the opportunity to take a break. When Steven returned to work, I put Tabby in the truck to return to Aubuchon. I knew it wouldn’t take long and she so likes to go with.

I told a girl (didn’t see her name badge) what I needed (I had memorized it from the bag this time). She asked Kyle to get it for me. It was not the same guy. As I questioned my memory, Kyle 1 showed up.

“I came back for more dirt,” I told him. “The other guy is getting it for me.”

“You got helped by both Kyles today,” the girl said. I was glad to have that mystery cleared up.

When Kyle 2 carried my dirt outside, I said, “It’s the truck with the cute little dog looking out the window.”

“Oh, you can bring your dog in the store,” he told me. I’ll remember that for next time.

I have to confess, I ran out of steam before I ran out of plants. They’re still waiting for me in their little plastic holders. Only a few more to go, and my deck already looks considerably less lonely. However, I think I will need to go someplace and buy a few more flowers. I’m not going overboard; I just think the deck needs a little more purple.

More Deck Drudgery

So there I was, with a scrubbed deck (just a week ago), a can of stain (stain and clear coat in one!), a brush, a roller… everything I needed except ambition. My husband was due home at 6:30 or thereabouts. I had a three day weekend ahead of me. Wasn’t it acceptable to make my blog post and futz around on Facebook or watch World’s Dumbest for Friday night? NO! It was NOT!

I told myself, I’ll just get started. I’ll do the railing. That would be the pain in the buttest part anyways. Won’t Steven be pleased to come home and find me hard at work, not sitting on the couch enjoying my Thirsty Owl Chardonnay (from a New York State winery)?

Of course nothing is ever easy with me. I have that quality. First I had to search for clothes I didn’t care if they got stain on them. I had already worn the Hummel’s t-shirt (purchased at a church rummage sale) to scrub the deck and had not washed it yet. It was definitely shorts weather. I grabbed a pair of bicycle shorts that I like to run in. I could run in stained shorts (nothing could make me look worse running than I already do). At last I found a t-shirt. Some slip-on sneakers my sister Diane gave me some 20 years ago that have never been particularly comfortable. I was ready.

I should have bought one of those little hooky things you open paint cans with. I managed with the edge of an old pair of scissors. I carried the can and brush to the far side of the deck and began staining. The top of the railing was no problem, but the edges were a little tricky. Leaning over to get the far edge, I was sure to hit the top I had just stained. The spindles (are they called spindles? Uprights? I’m sure you know what I mean) were sons of bitches. I quickly realized I could not conveniently get the far side of those. I would do all I could standing on the deck and worry about the other side subsequently.

Slowly I worked my way around. Stand, crouch, sit. Move the can of stain. Go back and get that spot I missed. I started to feel pretty ill used. Where was my husband, who ought to be helping me? (At work, earning money to pay for my stain and accessories.) Where were my family and friends? (Staining their own decks, which I did NOT help with.) I knew I was being unreasonable. Anyways, I would be proud of myself when I was done. In about a hundred years.

Then I went to pull the can after me instead of picking me up and the bastard spilled! At least I didn’t knock it right over, but that comforting thought did not occur to me till later. The best thing I could think of to do was to take my brush and spread the spilled stain around as quickly as I could. Well, I meant to stain that part of the deck anyways. I was just getting a jump on tomorrow’s chore.

I was nearly all the way around the railing by the time Steven came home. I had been working maybe an hour and a half (typically for me, I had failed to note what time I started). He immediately asked was there another paint brush. So much for me grumbling about him not helping! But I thought it would be a better idea for us both to enjoy what was left of the evening and leave the rest for the bright, ambitious morning. For one thing, Steven had to work. For another, I had a blog post to make and I was hungry.

Saturday morning after a long but satisfying run and an invigorating shower, I assessed the shade that covered the deck. Ruth at Aubuchon had cautioned me not to work in the bright, sunny heat of the day. I thought it looked good. It was a little after eight. Steven had gotten out the six foot stepladder for me, so I started on the outside of the railing.

And realized that was the biggest pain in the butt of all! I couldn’t get in the corners. I kept missing places. I had to keep brushing away cobwebs that had grown there since I had scrubbed. Eventually Steven suggested a smaller paint brush and even found me one. That worked better. I was still on the railing when he left for work, but working with determination.

I thought the deck part of the deck would be the easy part. I had a roller, with extender attachment, so I would not have to bend over or be on my hands and knees. Rollers were fast. This might even be fun.

Of course it was not. The roller did not put the stain on smoothly. Ruth had warned me I would have to brush over it after I rolled, and I still had my big brush that had been so poorly adapted for the outside of the railing. It looked better after I brushed it. Unfortunately, I only had one extender attachment. I could roll in a semi-comfortable position, then had to bend over in a distinctly un-back-friendly posture to brush. Oh dear!

At last I took the extender off the roller, put it on the brush (which had a place for it; I think I mentioned in my last post the brush’s package had said it was the Best), and continued to stain with sweeping movements. It really was not going too badly. Not too swiftly, but not too badly.

As I went along, I couldn’t help noticing that it was not looking wonderful. There were large spots on the deck from where my container garden had leaked, and the stain did not obliterate them as I had hoped. I guess that’s from the woodgrain-showing-through quality I thought would look so nice. It just goes to show, we can’t always think of everything.

Then I noticed how the sun was moving. It was pursuing me. And it was not pursuing me like a movie villain, giving up after I managed to stay one step ahead of it. It was relentless. I checked where it was coming from in relation to what was blocking it and changed my tactics. I stained where the sun was now and started working my way back to the shadier shade. Oh, I just had to finish! I could not leave till late afternoon when the shade returned.

Closer and closer to the end I got. I was well into the shade; the sun would never catch me now. Only my own fatigue and frustration could do me in. I encouraged myself with promises of beer and bragging rights. I made it.

In all honesty I have to say, the deck looks less awful than it did before I stained it. And I enjoyed the beer I subsequently rewarded myself with. I would like a beer now. This has been a long damn blog post. If you’ve stuck with me, thank you. I’ll have more deck doings in future posts.