Thursday, January 7, 2021

Building a Fence With Branches

During the fall I trimmed a lot of trees in the backyard. While on a long walk one day, I came up with the idea to build a small fence with them. A fence that would help keep the leaves from blowing into the porch area.

It worked!  :)

In case you were wondering and want to build one yourself, it's pretty easy to build a fence like this.

The Frame

The first thing to decide, what material to use for the structure. I decided to use red pine fence pickets. I got them at Home Depot, 5/8" x 5.5" x 6'. They were $1.97 each. For each fence section (36" x 36"), I needed two pickets. Not too bad, $3.94 in wood cost per section, with a little bit leftover to use for the next section. Fortunately I have both a miter saw and a table saw so I was able to cut these to the sizes I needed. 

First, on the miter saw, cut each picket in half, roughly 36 inches.

Next, each 36 inch piece had to be ripped in half on the table saw.

Painting is optional. I decided to paint these a dark brown.

About the saws, at a minimum you will need a miter saw or at least some way to cut your wood into 36 inch pieces. If you do not have a table saw, you do have another option. Instead of using the 6 foot pickets that need a lot of cuts, you could use 3 inch wide cedar planks. You would not have to do any ripping, thus no need for a table saw. The only downside to this approach is material cost. The cedar planks at Home Depot, 3/4" x 3" x 8' cost $8.64. For each fence section you would need three planks, $25.92. Big difference compared to the $3.94 per fence section cost with the red pine fence pickets. There are many types of wood to choose from. The main thing to keep in mind when selecting is picking one that will hold up to the weather.

Next, put these together in squares and screw them together. Be sure to make sure they are square. Also, it's best to use exterior screws.

A tip my dad taught me to make sure something is square, measure the distance of opposite corners. If they're the same, it's square.

You may need to add spacers (like I did on this section) in all four corners. You will need to do this if your branches are thicker. 

Final step for the frame, screw in the two side pieces. You can now see the gap where you put the branches.

The Branches

Working with the branches is the most fun. It's sort of like a puzzle figuring out the order in which to put them in. They all have to be cut to size. The one piece of equipment that helped significantly with this process was a vice.

The vice made the cutting so much easier being able to secure each branch. Once cut, you insert into the frame. There is no need to secure them.

One final step. Since it will be outside, in all sorts of weather, it needs to have some type of protection. I opted to put a few coats of spar urethane on them.

A Final Note

I was surprised how many branches I needed to build this fence. It was just over 200 individual pieces. I found myself picking up fallen branches while walking on some local trails.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

You Can Observe a Lot by Watching

Yogi Berra said that to his players in 1964 when he was managing the NY Yankees.  The ball players were not paying attention to the game.

I sort of applied Yogi's wisdom to my walks at on the Suwanee Creek and Ivy Creek Greenways.  I have been walking there for over 10 years now.  Except for the squirrels and the deer, haven't seen much wildlife.  About a week ago that all changed.  We spotted the Owl at Suwanee Creek.  Since then we have been observing a lot of wildlife.  So Yogi was right.  You can observe a lot by watching!

What we have seen in the last week:

Yogi was right!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Owl at Suwanee Creek

I was mad at myself for not bringing the camera.  Most of our daily walks are on the Suwanee Creek Greenway.  It's about four miles long so and out & back provides us with plenty of daily steps.  The one thing that has really stood out recently, the amount of wildlife we spot, pretty much every day.

Two days ago we spotted an owl perched on a branch.  As we came around the corner we saw the owl descend from the branch to the creek below.  Its wingspan was impressive.  The owl did exactly what I see the birds in my backyard birdbath do, bathed itself.  I was mad that I didn't have my camera with me.  It would have been some great shots.  I promised myself, tomorrow I will bring the camera.

Amazingly so, the owl was there the next day!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Number 77 - Zion Half Marathon

About seven or eight months ago got a text from my son about a half marathon out at Zion National Park. It's put on by an organization that does races at various Nations Parks - Vacation Races. It looked interesting.  He and his wife were interested in doing this race so I said if they wanted to do it, I'd join them.

After agreeing to do the race the thoughts that went through my mind though - February - winter - Utah - cold.  Hmmm...  I am not a big fan of bitter cold, let alone doing half marathons in cold weather.  However, their website listed average temperatures as 33 - 60 degrees F. That convinced me that it would not be too cold to do a half in February.

Average weather listings are funny things.  They may or may not be true on the day you are there.  Well, this apparently was not an average year as the temperature at the start of the race was 10 degrees F!!!  It was sooooooo cold!  

As typical, weeks, days, before any race, I'm always checking the weather forecast.  There was no doubt in our minds, it was going to be unseasonably cold.  This lead to the purchase of balaclavas, hand warmers, and thoughts of layers, layers, layers.

We had to get up very early (4:00 AM-ish) to get to the race as we were staying in an Airbnb in Orderville, about 45 miles away which included going through Zion National Park (in the dark, a very interesting drive, icy roads, a very winding road, meaning you were not going to go fast at all).  We did make to the starting line which was in Virgin, UT.  The race was a point-to-point race from Virgin, UT to Springdale, UT.  Although the race is called Zion Half Marathon, the course was not actually in the park.  The finish line was a couple hundred yards from the entrance to the park.

The other thing that was unique about this race, a point-to-point race, it was all uphill!  So between the cold and going uphill the whole time, I knew I would probably not be able to finish in my self imposed (secret :) goal of three hours.  No worries though, just finishing would be good enough.

 Scenery was incredible!

 ~Mile 9, warmed up to about 20 degrees! 

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Fun, senior sidebar note:  Since our Airbnb was on the other side of Zion National Park, during our stay we made five trips through the park.  It cost $35 each time our vehicle entered the park.  However, since I purchased the Senior Lifetime America the Beautiful Pass a few years back, we did not have to pay the $35 each time, got in for 'free'.  What a deal!  

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Number 74 - The 2018 Great Saunter

Earlier this month, for number 74, did the Great Saunter.  The Great Saunter is a 32 mile walk around the island of Manhattan.  This is an annual event hosted by an organization known as Shorewalkers .

This was the fourth time doing the Great Saunter and also it was the second time doing it with my daughter.  We had good weather, and oh boy does that make a difference!  No rain :)

Since we were pre-registered, my sister and brother-in-law dropped us off at Fraunces Tavern early in the morning and we were on our way.  Fraunces Tavern is on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan and it is where the Great Saunter stated and finished.

Since both of us were "veteran Great Saunterers", we knew where bathrooms were, and where other important things, like a place to grab a coffee, were.  So we both looked forward to getting about four miles into the GS and we'd grab a coffee, to go of course.  It was part of our routine :)  However,  at mile four we discovered that the coffee shop was no longer there!  This was not good.  The coffee was definitely part of our GS experience and very anticipated.  So as we continued, the ONLY thing on my mind was where can we get a coffee!  Long story short, at mile 7.29 we found an Espresso Bar ant got two large lattes, to go of course :)

Okay, now we could resume enjoying the GS.  And we did.  It really is a great walk and a wonderful way to see New York City.

Favorite pic of the day...

George Washington Bridge

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Number 73 - 2018 Georgia Half Marathon

For number 73, did the 2018 Georgia Half Marathon.  It's been two years since I did a half - after doing this one, I remember why it's been so long.  They're hard.

I've been battling a knee problem for a few years now and even a few days before this race, I was still on the fence for switching to the 5K instead.  Two things helped me decide on doing the half:  a new knee brace and an absolute promise to myself that I would do no running during this race.

For once, I was true on the promise - I did no running in the race.  It worked.  The knee did not bother me outside of the 'normal' pain of doing these distance races.  The new knee brace was great! I was very pleased with it.

The best part about the race, pretzels and ice cold chocolate milk at the finish line:

Typically do not snack on these two things together, but after the race, the combination of the salty, sweet, and cold, really hit the spot!

 It was so good!!! 

Time: 3:01:33
Minutes/mile: 13:52

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Number 72 - Epiphany Lutheran 5K

For race number 72 I decided to do the Epiphany Lutheran 5K.  I always prefer participating in races that benefit a cause instead of the profits going to some corporation.

Epiphany Lutheran Church will be hosting a 5K Run on March 3rd to raise money for our youth trip to Houston this summer. Every three years, the Lutheran Church hosts a National Youth Gathering that attracts 30,000 high school age participants from around the country. This year, participants will be aiding in recovery efforts for the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey. All race profits will go toward alleviating the cost of this trip for families of our youth.

I did not pre-register for the race so I needed to sign up when I got there.   Gave them the money, got my t-shirt, and the woman said "the next race number is 238" and started to hand it to me.  My brain quickly wondered if race bib 239 was available so I asked.  She said "yes it is, would you like that one instead?"

I'm sure she wondered why, but didn't ask, and handed me race bib 239.  For my sisters and me, there probably is no other number, in all the numbers, that has as much meaning as this one.  Our dad passed away in 2007 and the number 239 immediately brings back fun, warm memories of him.  Dad had a joke, that he told many, many times, typically in a BBQ restaurant or anytime baked beans were being served.  He would say "you can only eat 239 of them".  Which would always warrant the response "why".  He would then get a gigantic grin on his face and say "because the next one is too farty"!    

As usual, did a combination of walking and running in this race, always aware of heart rate.  For me, no need to stay in the max heart rate range.  It was a good race, well except for the uphill parts.

I ended up placing 1st in the Male 60-69 category for the race.  However, there was only one person in that category!  :)