After sixteen years of marriage to Anchee, we divorced in early 2015. It wasn’t easy going public on my blog about the divorce. Anchee is the best woman I’ve ever known, and there will be no details beyond this.
Anchee and I remain friends, and she still cooks me great tasting pies without adding any sugar. Before I wrote this post, I had a slice of one of her apple pies for my dinner. Anchee’s pies don’t include sugar and they come with a lot of other healthy ingredients than just fruit. Imagine a fruit pie that, I think, tastes great and is a nutritious meal too. In fact, she’s in China now and I’m driving to her house once a week to water her yard for her. She has a big yard and many trees. I’ve written about her house on this Blog before when we were still married.
After house hunting for several months, I bought a fixer upper at a reasonable price in the far-east bay an hour from San Francisco, and since the move, I’ve been renovating this abused abode. This post shows a few before and after photos of some of the renovation projects, and I’m planning more. It will take years before I’m done with what I plan to do with this house.
My first project before I moved in was to fix the garage so I could use the space for storage, my woodshop, and a place to park my car. A younger former Marine and Special Forces combat medic, a friend, helped me hang the drywall and reinforce the side door. He also removed one of the trees in the backyard and cut back the remaining tree by a third. I installed the shelving in the garage alone.
The second project was on my own. I removed the existing floors (cheap carpet and laminated flooring) to install solid, hardwood floors (not the engineered variety). I started with the living room, moved to the hall and master bedroom, and then tore out the cheap laminated flooring in the family room and replaced it with solid, tongue-and-groove ¾ inch cherry-stained oak. I finished the family room with a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall entertainment unit that covered the old fireplace. That took several months to complete. The following photos are the before-and-after family room.
Next was the backyard fence project that I started on February 25th this year and plan to finish before the end of June. About 3-to-5 hours of work remain on the fence. A few facts before I let the before, during, and after photos reveal this one-man, me, job.
Digging the holes for the fourteen metal fence posts and the ditch between the posts for the fence’s concrete foundation took about 100-hours of labor and 12,000 pounds of concrete (this includes the 160+ concrete blocks) reinforced with rebar. Each fence-post hole was two-feet deep and about a foot square. I moved, mixed, and poured about 300-pounds of concrete for each fence post. The other 7,800 pounds of concrete went into the foundation between the fence posts.
The above ground redwood and wire fence fastened to the metal fence posts and on top of the concrete foundation added another 150-hours of labor to the project.
Working on the renovation isn’t the only thing I do with my life. I promote my four published books on a monthly basis, write and publish posts for my four blogs, and I finished my next novel (the first one in a planned five-part series) that I’m currently putting through revisions. I limit watching DVDs to after 8 PM (I’m currently watching the first season for Blindspot), and I’m usually out of bed around 6 AM, but I don’t get to work on the house until after an early morning hour of exercise with weights, aerobics, stretching, and meditation (four times a week). I feel a need to mediate more than four days a week.
This post is a brief and incomplete snapshot of my vegan, no fast food, booze or beer lifestyle, and I turn seventy-two in a few weeks. I find time to read books and magazines too.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
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