Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Porch Repair and Sin City: A Busy Week

A photo of Nebraska Dave

This last couple weeks were away from the ranch. Five days were spent in Las Vegas. Hey, I know what your thinking, but there was no gambling going on for me. I'm smarter than that. One look around and I just knew all the glitz and glamor was not built because people won fortunes. No, no. I had a Grand daughter that was graduating from high school. She will soon be 18 years old. Oh boy, I don't even want to think about how close I am to become Great Grand Father. Sheesh, that sounds old.

Since we are into sky pictures, here's one that my sister took last May from her back yard of the Las Vegas lights. She lives in a town to the South of Vegas that's called Boulder City. Just over those hills is the valley that Las Vegas resides in so the picture is taken facing North toward Vegas. What you are seeing is not the sun going down but the lights of Vegas reflecting into the sky from the other side of the hills.

Las-Vegas-Night-Sky

After returning from Vegas, my friend's parents in Iowa were having a 50th wedding anniversary. For some reason his parents took a shine to me and made sure that I received an invitation to the celebration. Of course during that three-day stay my friend roped me into a tree-sawing experience. I always carry work clothes, gloves, and a set of basic tools everywhere I go, just in case.

Dave-Sawing-Tree

About once a month I travel to our Capitol city of Lincoln Nebraska to help with odd jobs at a place called Nebraska Family Council. It's a nonprofit organization that watches over the Nebraska lawmakers and gives them advice about family issues in Nebraska. They acquired a hundred-year-old house a couple years ago and made it their headquarters for the organization. The building is in constant need of maintenance and repair. So, the task for this week was to raise up a sagging porch, lift up a sagging porch ceiling and paint over the slippery porch surface with porch paint that had sand in it.

Here's where we had to crawl into to gain access to the sagging porch under side. We always have to make a home improvement store run before beginning any project. This time we gathered up two short building jacks, screws for the sagging ceiling boards, and paint. Now for a base to keep the jacks from just sinking into the ground we reused a cement slab that was two inches thick, and two feet wide and four feet long. Al the fellow in the picture facing the camera was helping me with these projects. I would like to say that the two of us alone carried the ready made slab to its final resting place but neither of us could lift an end of the slab. Al and I canvassed the neighborhood and convinced a couple healthy young men to give us a hand with moving the slab. Once we got the slab to the entrance of the crawl space, we formulated a brilliant plan.

NFC-Porch-Crawl-Space

We placed the slab on an old skate board with plywood pieces under the wheels. As we slowly moved the slab along under the porch the piece of plywood from the rear would be placed up in the front and rotation of plywood pieces continued until the slab was in the proper place. I felt like I was an Egyptian moving a building block for some great pyramid.

Crawl-Space-Under-Porch

We didn't find too many surprises under the porch, only two bits of fur from some critter's lunch. Everything went off without a hitch and it was time to tighten up the jacks and lift the porch up. A treated 4X4 piece of wood set on top of the jacks and spanned several floor joists. We turned up the jacks as far as possible by hand then used a wrench to lift. It's truly amazing how much lift can be applied with screw jacks.

Installing-Jacks-Under-Porch

One of the perks to helping around the house is to spend a night 30 miles out in the country on the farm. There's nothing quite like seeing the stars in a completely black sky while hearing the croaking frogs on the pond singing bass to the chirping cricket's song. Early morning breakfast on the patio with Folgers in my cup is a great way to wake up. It just doesn't get any better than that.

That's about it for this week. Thanks for dropping by and leave a comment to let me know how your week has been.

allan douglas
10/2/2010 2:38:37 PM

Sorry I'm late... is the coffee still hot? I had a little trouble finding my way here - wandered down a few side roads of watering tank and electrical wiring. But it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip. Thanks for sharing your adventures!


nebraska dave
7/3/2010 8:39:10 PM

@Lisa, nope don’t have that fear of closed in places. That’s a good thing for crawling under porches. We worked on the other end of the house last week. We didn’t have to crawl under anything but we got to destroy a set of concrete steps with sludge hammers. We then formed and poured a concrete base for a more aesthetic looking set of stairs to be built. I’m more of don’t like high places person. I kind get weak in the knees when I’m up high without surrounding protection. You know that glass floor thing built out over the Grand Canon where you can look down for 2000 feet. There’s not enough money to get me out there. I can’t believe people actually pay money to go out there and look down. I don’t think I could jump out of a perfectly good airplane to sky dive either. However, I don’t seem to have any fear of flying in an airplane big or small even if the flight isn’t smooth. I guess we all have things that we just don’t like to do.


lisa_8
7/3/2010 5:57:18 AM

I just have one thing to say....CLAUSTROPHOBIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!You are a brave man to get under that porche. ACK!


nebraska dave
7/2/2010 4:03:46 PM

@Oz Girl, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by. I know how life in the real working world can sap the time right out of the day. You are so kind with the compliments. My need for helping others is a natural desire. I don’t really think it much of a specialty but most others do. I just think that it’s a fun thing to be able to help those that are working on something and need a little extra help. I usually am like your husband and do not get bit by the mosquitoes but this year is different. They aren’t too choosy about who or what they bite. We have had a row of sunshine days so hopefully the mosquito plague is about over here. I’ve even had to start watering the garden for the first time this year. I am getting better at this handy thing. I didn’t really start blooming in that area until I started going out on disaster repair trips like the one in Kansas this last Spring. Now those guys are the true handy men and truly can fix or build anything. After hanging around those guys for 5 years, I have picked up many ways to fix, repair, and build things. So I can say that I’ve been mentored by the best there is. And just remember, this fix is only temporary, unl


oz girl
7/2/2010 7:22:14 AM

Hi there Dave, I know I've been rather scarce around the Grit blogs lately.... life has a way of keeping a person too busy in the summer! I love that you volunteer to help others~ in my experience, regardless of the "thank you's" or kudos from the other party, it just warms your own heart when you help others, doesn't it? It's awesome that you are so handy. I have the best memories of my handy dad. He could do ANYTHING himself. In all my life, I don't EVER recall him calling a serviceman for anything. He built, he repaired, both cars and homes. I remember the huge barn he built after we moved to the country. It was absolutely beautiful. My husband nowadays is the most handy guy also. But there is one thing I must disagree with, re: the Red Green Show sayings. "If the ladies don't find you handsome, at least they'll find you handy!" That particular saying doesn't totally apply to you or my husband, because you are both quite handsome!!! :-) So you are both blessed with good looks and handiness. How much better could it get? Well, besides hitting the lottery. Haha! P.S. The skeeters are HORRIBLE this year. They've always loved me, so needless to say, my ventures outside are short or I'm slathered in bug spray and a bug wrist band. I sure hope they go away soon. They can make outdoor life quite miserable. Of course, they barely bother my handsome husband. LOL He complains when he gets ONE bite. Um, excuse me, I've lost count of my skeeter and fly bites??


nebraska dave
6/26/2010 6:34:49 AM

@Cindy, Ok Ok I’ll stop the rain. I just wanted to make sure you had enough. We actually have had three days of sunshine here. That’s a record for this month. I’m hoping to get out in the garden today and actually do some serious inspection. With straw mulch it’s not too weedy but it does need attention with making sure all the plants stay in their designated areas. Those pesky Cucumbers like to crawl over everything if not directed up the netting I provided for them. I have blooms on the cukes, tomatoes, and the potatoes are about finished with the blooming. I’ve not been bothered with bugs at all this year but I guess they can’t do the back stroke to get to the plants. I’m sure glad that I have a raised garden which allowed for some great drainage. Hopefully July will get back to a normal weather pattern. I hope things dry out for you and the gardens produce abundantly this year.


cindy murphy
6/25/2010 6:04:39 PM

"I have really been trying to send you some rain." AH-HA!!!!! So YOU'RE the one! I know I asked for a little rain, Dave, but REALLY - 15 inches in two weeks!!! Thanks for being soooo generous, but I'm pretty sure you can call it off now.


nebraska dave
6/25/2010 10:40:15 AM

@SweetMissDaisy, I love the Red Green Show. The humor is a riot. I love the handy inventions that they come up with. It’s actually a little humorous that I am able to fix things like I can. My Dad earned a living by being a mechanic. Most of my early years were spent on the farm. However, I just didn’t have the abilities that Dad had with being able to fix just about anything with a chunk of bailing wire and a pair of pliers. My forte` was to break things. It used to make Dad so angry. It was not a good thing to have the strength of a weight lifter either. Football increased the strength to where I could hardly touch anything without breaking it because all I knew was if it didn’t move force it. I have to say that I don’t have to worry about that any more as the youthful strength done got up and left. Perhaps I’m just a late bloomer as even Dad is amazed at some of the ways I come up with to fix things. I think it’s just that I’ve tried every wrong way to fix stuff so now there’s nothing left except the right way. Thanks for your comments and I leave you with the man’s prayer. “I am a man, I can change, if I have to, I guess.” (Red Green Show Man’s Prayer)


sweetmissdaisy
6/25/2010 9:54:31 AM

Looks like you're the guy to know, Dave! :) Not everyone is handy, so it's nice to know someone who is. By the way, I don't know if you're familiar with the Red Green show, but one of the lines from the show (which is all about DIY projects, with a touch of humor) is something along the lines of "If the ladies don't find you handsome, at least they'll find you handy!" Glad you had a safe trip...welcome home.


sweetmissdaisy
6/25/2010 9:54:30 AM

Looks like you're the guy to know, Dave! :) Not everyone is handy, so it's nice to know someone who is. By the way, I don't know if you're familiar with the Red Green show, but one of the lines from the show (which is all about DIY projects, with a touch of humor) is something along the lines of "If the ladies don't find you handsome, at least they'll find you handy!" Glad you had a safe trip...welcome home.


nebraska dave
6/25/2010 9:30:24 AM

@Cindy, thank you for always stopping by and leaving a comment. I like the slogan, “Have tools will travel.” I’ve found that one never knows when a little something needs fixed. I quite understand about the hundred year old house. Mine is only 45 and always has issues. Last night I noticed moisture under the sink. There must be some kind of leak in the plumbing there. Oh how I love plumbing. NOT. It only leaks when the dishwasher runs. Oh joy another dishwasher problem. You know I have a lot more fun when I work on other people’s issues. I have really been trying to send you some rain. We’ve had two days in a row now with no rain and the sun shining brightly. Because of the rainfall, the mosquitoes have had a bumper crop. Just walking through the backyard will net many bites and welts. I usually am not bothered by the nasty little buggers but these guys have no mercy and are ferociously hungry. I have bloody skid marks on my truck window from the ones that perform highway suicide on my windshield. Thanks again for stopping by and have a great plant day.


cindy murphy
6/24/2010 8:43:15 PM

Hi, Dave. Have tools, will travel, eh? If you're ever up this way, let me know - I'll have plenty for you to do. Hubs and friend already got new gutters up, but there's monkey bars to build for the youngest's birthday...which is Saturday, and they're not started yet. Garage is slated to be sided soon. Porch decking needs to be replaced. Not to mention all the renovation inside - when you live in a 100-plus year old house, there's always something to be done. Very cool that you are willing and able to help out at the Nebraska Family Council House. Kudos to you for volunteering your time, know-how, and hard work.


nebraska dave
6/24/2010 3:58:28 PM

@Andrew, I love to get involved with other peoples projects. My daughter in Las Vegas basically bought a fixer upper and didn’t know how to fixer up. She was, however, very good a demolition. One year about five years ago, she knew I would be in town and boldly gutted the main bathroom of her house. Houses are built a little weird in Las Vegas and inside walls are flat with only 2 ¼ inches to work in when running water pipes and such. The biggest issue was the broken pipe from the shower drain into the vent stack. It was in an ugly place and I not sure any reputable plumber would have touched it for any amount of money. If you want to read about a real adventure in repair, you can go to my blog about it. http://olddavesadventures.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html . I guess it’s just in my DNA to want to help with a good project. Next week I’ll be back at the Nebraska Family Council house. We want to bust out some old concrete steps and pour a concrete base to set the new steps on. It just doesn’t get any better than that. It’s a great life if I just don’t weaken. Ah, maybe, that’s why I have a difficult time getting my own projects completed. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I always enjoy them.


anotherkindofdrew
6/24/2010 1:36:12 PM

Your sagging porch experience is exactly why I do NOT carry work clothes and a basic took kit. hahahahaha! HAHAHAHAHAH! Seriously though, glad you had a great AND SAFE time and enjoyed the stars. You are so right. Nothing like 'em!