New Year Projects

This blog post is about the projects that need fixing before the gardening season begins. It's also about my new-century phone.

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by Unsplash/Marian Florinel Condruz

The New Year is here, and all gardeners are scanning the seed catalogs for just the right seeds to order. All the potting mix is ready to use in anticipation of sprouting those seeds into strong, tough plants. My seed starting begins in February with cabbage. It’s been a long winter already, with a little over two months until spring. My dormant gardening juices are coming alive. Thoughts are more and more about cleaning up the seed-starting station and getting it ready to plant.

Many are setting up their New Year’s resolutions, plans, and goals. Mine are being set up for me. This is the year of plumbing for me. So far this year, the toilet needed fixing, the washing machine needed fixing, the kitchen sink needed fixing, and now the plumbing under the bathtub is leaking.

Old houses have old shut-off valves. When the time came for the old clothes-washing machine to be replaced, the water shut-off valves were corroded open. This is a common thing for these types of valves. In my experience, enough pressure can be exerted on these valves to shut them off, but when turned back on, they leak. Of course, the option to shut off the water in the entire house is always available, but to have a shut-off right at the washing machine is convenient.

My fix for this was to put new valves right on the old ones. The new valves are ball quarter-turn valves that never corrode or fail to shut off the water. These parts are a bit expensive, but well worth the convenience of having a shut-off right by the washing machine. I also have learned that replacing these valves takes the risk of breaking the pipe in the wall. Then a minor issue becomes a major mess. So new valves on the old ones is the safest way to go.

The issue with the washing machine was a slow drip into the tub when the cycle was over. If the clothes weren’t removed immediately after the wash cycle, the drip would get the clothes wet and require another spin before putting in the dryer. Now, I have replaced the shut-off valve before; it was not a big deal. This machine had a cover over the entire back of the machine. When I removed the screws, the sides fell off and the bottom fell out. Since the machine was 20 years old, I decided to drag the wreckage into the backyard and go get a new machine. The new machine has many more safety features that keep me from being able to soak the wash like the old machine did. It’s a sad day when I lose control over my machines and have to be at their mercy.

Now there’s an ice storm headed my way over the weekend. Yikes! We haven’t had a lot of snow this year. It’s just been rain, which sometimes has turned into ice. I think I’d rather have the snow than icy streets, but being retired gives me the option to just stay home in the warmth of the house and sip on my hot beverage while watching the others in the neighborhood sliding to work. I put my years of fighting weather in, and now I’m enjoying not having to do that anymore. Is it okay to crack a little bit of a smile as I watch out the window?

Before winter set in, the last outside project was the beginning of a side-yard patio. For years, I had it in mind to build a semi-closed-in patio on the side of the house by the shed. I hope to finish the patio in 2017. It’s one of the plans that I have for this year.

I started my career in telecommunications way back in 1967 and worked in that field for 41 years. Phones changed many times, and by the time I retired, landline phones were on the way to the museum. Cellphones have become the replacement, and landlines are a thing of the past.

After many years of dragging my feet–having a very last-century cellphone about which my family, friends, and neighbors complained because they were not able to send pictures or have me receive group messages, etc.–I was pushed into the new-cellphone life. I still don’t see the fascination of browsing the Internet on a micro-screen, while at home the TV must be 60 inches. It just doesn’t seem logical to me. But everyone is happy once again, and life goes on.

I’m really looking forward to February when seed starting can begin. It is the official start of the gardening year for me. When does your garden year start?

May all your seeds sprout into strong plants. May the sun shine on your garden when needed, and you receive just the right amount of rainfall at just the right times. May the fall harvest be abundant and free of insects, disease, and munching critters.

Nebraska Dave
Urban Farmer