Posts Tagged ‘stairs’

Look Up. Look Down. Look All Around.

Saturday, March 20th, 2010

I’ve learned over the years that photo opportunities aren’t always directly in front of you, hence the title of this post.  Here are some more shots from the San Antonio Riverwalk expansion that require that you look up, down or around, to find.

Concrete Ripple

Concrete Ripple

The Great Escape

The Great Escape



Gone Fishing

Gone Fishing

Anchor Point - Miksang - Dot In Space - 19 March 2010

Anchor Point

Stairs in the Sky

Stairs In The Sky

The weekend fiasco – Part 2

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

When we last left our hero, he had loaded lumber on to a cart at the local Home Depot, and then, finding that he couldn’t get it cut first, unloaded it all back to the shelf.

The next day (Saturday) I decided that I would just go get the lumber, load it in my Hyundai Elantra, drive it home and cut the wood myself.  I drove to Home Depot after running some errands and loaded up all the 2X10’s (plus a few extra) I would need along with the stringers and a couple of bunji cords to tie the trunk down with, paid for it, then loaded it all in the car and drove home.

At home, I decided to lay down and take a little rest before starting my project, and as I lay there, being grateful for A/C, it dawned on me that instead of 4ft wide steps, I had enough lumber for 8ft wide steps and that this would mean I wouldn’t have to cut a single board.  “Pure genius”, I thought to myself.

At about 4:30, I couldn’t take it any longer.  I got up and began grabbing tools.

“Whatcha doing?” my wife asked.

“Gonna go get started on those steps,”  I replied.

“Umm…it’s 102 degrees out there.  Maybe you should wait until it cools off a little,” she said, with some concern in her voice.

“I’ll take some water with me.  I’ll be fine.”  And with that, out the door I went.

I knew the first thing to do was remove the old steps so I grabbed my cordless drill and began removing screws.  “Whew…it’s hot!” I thought.  “Better take a swig of that water.”  With that, I continued taking screws out.  After a few more screws were removed, “Damn, it really is hot!  I better chug some more agua,” then back to the screws.

As the last screw came out and I pulled the old stairs away, I looked down at my work with a small amount of satisfaction, but mostly it was the thought that I really had to get these stairs built because I just removed my easy way back into the house.  At this point, I realized I was getting a little lightheaded, as no miracle from above had occurred and it was still, in fact, hot.  “I’ll bet the animals are hot too.  I’m gonna take a little break and go run some water in their troughs, just to top them off,” and I proceeded about the yard with the water hose running and deciding which trough needed the water the most.  I dropped the hose in the large trough and went back to my task.

I took another nice long drink of, by now, luke warm, water and grabbed the stringers.  Not being much of a carpenter, I just kinda screwed the stringers in by eyeballing them, then realized again that it was hot and I was getting lightheaded.  I decided I would just throw the lumber for the top step on so I could get on the porch easier and go inside, take a break and cool off.  Unfortunately, my lack of carpentry skills reared their ugly head at this point.  I hefted the 8 foot 2X10 out of the car and placed it on the top step, only to watch it wobble back and forth unsteadily.  “Well, I guess the cooling off break is going to have to wait.”

I removed the board and decided that maybe measuring would be a good idea, so I unscrewed two of the stringers and measured the placement of the one that was left.  I would make the others match this one.  As I began to measure, I was feeling very lightheaded again and finally decided to toss in the towel for the moment.  I would just climb back onto the porch (no small feat for a fat, outta shape guy) and go inside for awhile and finish later.  With the skill of a mountain goat with Cerebal Palsey, I scaled the porch and went inside.

“Did you finish?”

I just grumbled and headed for the bathroom.  A cold should would lower my body temp and make me feel better.  I staggered into the bathroom and turned on the shower only to be greeted by extremely low water pressure.  “What the…”  Then it dawned on my that I had left the water running in the trough outside.  So I turned off the shower and headed back outside.  I scaled down the porch again, turned off the water then began climbing back up the porch, only to catch my leg on a old screw that was sticking up.  Even though I was lightheaded, I grabbed the drill and tightened down the offending screw and, once again, scaled the porch.

With the outside water turned off, I hopped (hobbled) into the shower and immersed myself in the cold agua.  After cooling off in the shower, I relaxed on the bed, figuring that I would get up and finish the stairs in a bit when it, ahemm, cooled off.

After a couple of hours, I decided to get up and try again.  The back is the only entrance and exit to the house as we don’t use the front door.  But now there were no stairs which meant doing much of anything was impossible.  As I arose from the bed, I noticed pain.  Immediate pain.  Back pain, arm pain, shoulder pain, etc…  Apparently my body is not used to all this lifting and such and was rebelling.  But the work had to get done so, I trudged forward.

I went outside and scaled the porch again, trying not to fall on the way down.  This time I measured the stringer height which helped a little, and then laid the 8 ft steps across which fit pretty well, although not exactly.  I began screwing each stair into place when I realized I was running low on screws.  Consequently, each stair got 3 screws instead of the 6 it needed (Don’t worry, I got more screws and put them in a couple of days later.)

After putting the handrails on, I glanced down at my handiwork with more a feeling of relief than satisfaction.  I took another drink of lukewarm water and headed inside for another cold shower and a rest.  After lounging on the bed and surfing the net for a couple of hours, I got up to start dinner when my entire body seized up.  This was even worse than before.  I could hardly move.  And tomorrow was my day to go take pictures at the zoo.  I’d been looking forward to that for a week now and would really be disappointed if I couldn’t go, but how was I going to handle lugging around camera equipment and tripod in the heat when I could barely move?

Will our hero be able to take pictures?  We he be able to get up out of bed?  Or is he paralyzed for life?  Or at least the rest of the weekend?  Tune in next time for ‘The weekend fiasco – Part 3 – The Zoo Chronicles’

The weekend fiasco, part 1

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Sore…that’s what I’ve been feeling for the last few days…sore.  And it’s now worse.  There are several reasons for this, all of which would be too long for a single blog post, so this story will be broken up into smaller, bite size chapters, for your easy consumption.

Now let me just start by saying I’m not going to just whine.  I find comedy in my suffering in and I think you do too, so let me lay out the events of the previous few days.

Stairs.  That’s where the story starts, is with my back stairs.  You see, 5 years ago I built a small back porch/deck on the house and put a small, 2 ft wide set of steps on the deck.  Now the stairs are old and really, 2 ft is not wide enough for taking dogs in and out.  So I decided we needed new steps, grand steps, 4 foot wide steps…yes…that’s what we need …4 ft wide steps.

Now I drive a fairly small car so the prospect of driving 35 miles with 8 ft 2X10s hanging out the back wasn’t that appealing, but a friend told me that Home Depot will cut each board one time for free.  “This is perfect!”, I thought.  I could get each board cut in half, it would be easier to manage and I wouldn’t have to make any cuts at the house.  I could just screw it all together.  Easy, huh?  A quick call to Home Depot confirmed this and I set out on the start of my epic journey.  I felt much like young Frodo Baggins, who also had no idea how bad he was going to get screwed by life just for walking out his front door.

So I went to home depot and loaded up my cart with 2X10s, which is no easy feat for a fat, outta shape guy like myself.  I then began dragging my loaded down cart around looking for an employee.  When I finally found a young gentleman in a Home Depot smock, I proudly and smugly asked who I should talk to about getting my lumber cut.  I was greeted with a strange look, followed by, “We don’t do that here.”

I met the strange look with puzzlement.  Wasn’t he aware of what my friend had said?  And the what about the phone call…yes, the phone call confirming it with Home Depot?  Was he somehow out of the loop on Home Depots board cutting policies?

“But I called and asked and they said…”, I trailed off.

“I don’t think we’ve ever done that here. ”  He began to yell at another employee on the other end of the isle.   ” Hey Brian do we precut preassure treated lumber?”


“Have we ever cut preassure treated lumber?”  Ok guys, I got the point.  I am a complete idiot.  You don’t have to rub it in.

“Not that I know of.”

He turned back to me, and in a tone usually reserved for addressing a 5 year old who doesn’t understand that milk actually comes from cows, not cartons, he explained that they don’t cut the pressure treated lumber because their ventilation system is not OSHA certified to vent the chemicals that would be given off.  Apparently they’ll cut every other kind of lumber EXCEPT the pressure treated.

I felt slightly less out of my mind to learn that it was the particular kind of wood I had, not all wood, that was subject to this policy and that my hearing and comprehension were not going the way of my waistline.  Home Depot does, in fact, cut wood, just not the kind I wanted.

Not wanting to try to fit the large load in the car, I then proceeded to unload from my cart all that I am loaded.  Again, this was no small feat.

I went home disappointed, but resolved that I could probably get the lumber home safely through the 35 mile trip and just cut it myself at home, assuming my saw was in good enough shape.  Later in the evening, I checked it out and, while not in great shape, the saw was functional, so I decided to go back and get the lumber the next day.

And so ends phase 1 of my fiasco.

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