Dispatches from the Home Front

It is said that when you retire you have to keep busy if you want to live long. Well, with all the work I’ve been doing, I’ll live to be 150 years old! We have a lot of deferred maintenance and much to remodel. Last month I wrote about our Home Energy Upgrade improvements.

Here are some of the other things we are making progress on. To be honest, the improvements are cutting into my camping and backpacking time, but since Joyce is still working, it’s okay. I need to get everything finished so she can retire too and we can finally play full time.

High on our list, actually #1 on the list was a new roof. The old one had been leaking for several years. Several plywood sheets under the roof had to be replaced and the wood fascia was in bad shape after 35 years of constant sun and the occasional rain. We replaced and painted the new fascia boards the same color as the trim on our new double paned windows.

The next project was to remove over 3,000 feet of lush green lawn from the front yard. We loved our front lawn and it didn’t cost much to water it. But water is in short supply in California, as I documented in the California Water Nazi manifesto last year. We also replaced the standard mailbox with a mix of old and modern design. The mailbox and house numbers are “suspended” from the copper base using chrome spacers. We like it, so it’s good. Along with the 30 tons of crushed rock, we added several desert plants and some large boulders.

front yard 1
New roof and mailbox
front yard 2
Desert Landscape

yard 3

The front yard irrigation is now controlled with a SkyDrop controller.


The controller has an almost infinite programming options, and as with much of our home automation upgrades, it is part of our all things Internet. We can adjust or monitor it with a cell phone, iPad, or computer from just about anywhere in the world. The SkyDrop monitors local weather conditions via the Web and will turn off or adjust irrigation times when it rains. Pretty cool stuff.

I am now working on our patio. We want a BIG patio, because when at home we spend a lot of time outdoors. The patio is 1,005 square foot under roof, or 60 feet X 16.75 feet. How big is a 1,005 square foot patio? The picture below is the house I grew up in with my 3 brothers. Our family of 6 lived in this 939 square foot house that did not have a garage.

dads house
The house I grew up in.

Our house is only 1,600 square feet in area as a comparison to the patio.

Below is the patio in progress. You can see the old cement slab (40′ X 10′) that was the size of the old patio we removed. Once the patio is painted, we will start laying new pavers on the slab and then pavers for the new areas and walkways in the back yard. I turned off the rear sprinklers, as we will be converting part of the back yard to desert landscaping, although we will probably keep a small portion for a lawn. Grass is good for the environment, it absorbs the CO2 that the Climate Change people are complaining about. I guess they never heard of photosynthesis.

patio 02-24-2016

Retirement has kept me busy. I need to ask the boss (Joyce) for a day off.



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