Wounded on the Weekend

My Saturday plans included yard work, not a trip to urgent care. Of course, I can't remember a time when my weekend intentions ever included emergency medical treatment.  Huh.

Some background ...

I know I mentioned this previously, but to reinforce my past stance and offer an official AZ DIY Guy position statement on the matter, palm trees kinda suck. Don't get me wrong, a healthy palm tree stretching proudly towards the heavens really brings a delightful, tropical ambiance, even when there's no beach nearby, like say,.. in the Sonoran Desert, of the American Southwest.

I  whole-heartedly believe palm trees are absolutely beautiful, perhaps gorgeous in someone else's yard. 

Those are nice,...over there.
The deal with hosting palm trees on your property is that they are just cosmetic trinkets and an absolute pain to deal with:

  • They only offer a pea-sized dollop of shade, somewhere over in your neighbor's yard. Taller the tree, the further you have to quest to find the shade splotch.
  • The type we have here in Arizona don't even have the common decency to grow coconuts; how is a handy DIY dude, such as myself ever going to craft my beautiful wife a rustic, tropical island bikini top? 
  • They sprout creepy, inhuman tentacles that split open to spew a buckshot spray of little black seeds and fluffy dried flowerey things to make a mess. Added Bonus: That's when they attract bees!
  • These palms love to prank me with a never ending supply of crud destined to become biological flotsam in the freshly cleaned swimming pool.
  • Worst of all, I'm forced to trim the never ending fountain of fronds that erupt from their crowns. They turn into a crusty brown rag mop of dried, dead branch-things that must be trimmed. God I hate that part. 
That part was my Saturday morning. Seven palm trees needed a haircut and it needed to be done early, before the late summer temperatures got too infernally high.

It was not my first time into man-to-palm combat, but this time around I had a secret weapon. I shifted from my normal approach of perching on a wobbly, 10 foot tall, fiberglass step ladder to battle with an electric pole saw. I now have a sturdy, convertible, 24-in-1 ladder which transforms into a 17 foot extension ladder. I can now face my opponent directly.

Going up!
I can get close enough to reach the top with my reciprocating saw on the small to medium size trees. That rascal rips through palm fronds like a hungry shark, much faster than the pole saw. No extension cord and none of that constant refilling of the chain saw bar-oil either.

DeWalt Reciprocating saw with a pruning blade
Reciprocating Saw with a pruning blade

I loved the stability from the wide stance base of my new ladder. I scampered up and sliced fronds like butter. Heaps of them sailed to the earth around the tree. 

Tool Tip: One of the most helpful tools I have in my collection is a fairly common one, a "Teenager"'.  If you don't have one yet, I heartily recommend getting one, or making one yourself (Note: They take several years to fully assemble). Mine is a hauling model, very handy for this project. 

All was going well. I attacked the last of the medium size palms, before I'd have to switch back to the unwieldy pole saw. It still wasn't over 100 degrees yet. Life was good.

Trimming Trees From a Little Giant Ladder
Whistle while you work

Jack snapped this photo. This last photo,... with the fronds flipping down to the ground. Just a few cuts left. 

Trimming Trees From a Little Giant Ladder
"...juuust a couple more cuts..."

Van Gogh ain't got nothin' on me

One of the fronds swooped towards me. I dodged my big ol'  noggin out of the way,... well,... most of my noggin anyway. The end fronds caught air and flipped the whole "branch"' over. The "branch (?) clipped me on the side of the head as the stalk went by. Just a brief,, passing kiss to the ear. It didn't' even hurt. A little smack. How sweet.

So here's the thing about palm fronds stalks...

Yeah. Ugly shark-toothed, mutant ripper-beasts.

They're even worse in real life. Heartless bastards.

A gusher. 

It still didn't hurt much, but the blood was pouring. By the time I got to the house and called for paper towels, I looked like a walking homicide victim. My poor wife gasped and her eyes bulged when I appeared bloody at the back door, looking like I'd managed to cut my throat out. 

I took a shower and cleaned it up. I got it to pretty much stop bleeding. Oddly, it still didn't hurt, but there were some big flaps and chunks of meat hanging on there. You can't see it in the photo, but the edge of my ear below "X" mark folds open like a book. Super fun!

I hope you don't just visit my blog for my lovely ears.

I headed to a walk-in clinic for a quick check, just to see if it needed a stitch or two.  They cleaned it up again, gave me a tetanus shot before sending me over to urgent care for more fun and games.  

The urgent care Doc told me it wasn't really a cut, but the frond had "exploded my ear." That's doctor-speak for "hire a landscaper, dumbass." He treated me to some humorous horror stories about infected ears on teen girls who'd gotten those high-ear piercings and how dangerous it could get. After careful consideration, I decided amputation was not a life experience I wanted to pursue. I laid down and let him get to work. 

He cleaned the wound for its third time that day. Remarkably, that was less fun than it sounds. Since there wasn't much skin to mess with over the cartilage, he really couldn't stitch me up, so he glued me back together. He evidently used some sort of super glue, mixed with high-octane gasoline and rabid wasp venom, because that stung like hell. When the glue dried, a delightful, young nurse came in and merrily stabbed me in the derriere with a syringe full of antibiotic the size of a bowling pin.

Poking and prodding, two co-pays, two shots, a prescription for a week's worth antibiotics, and a bloody, glued-up ear later, I was done for the day. The trees would wait for tomorrow.

Waiting 15 minutes to see if I had a reaction,.... other than a stupid smirk.
I spent some time on Facebook following the bloody photo post.  Naturally, an exchange with my blogging buddy Meryl of Picardy Project (who seemed to rather enjoy my misadventure) led to this:

- AZ DIY Guy
Feel free to use it as a badge if you earn it,... hopefully you don't earn it. Work safe!

Kitchen Remodel: The Missing Flooring Tile Challenge

We have a big hurdle in the grand plan for our kitchen renovation. We're stumped, right at the earliest stage.

You may recall that we want to remove the base section of cabinetry from the center of our "U" shaped kitchen and install an exterior door to a future, private patio. It'll convert the new kitchen into a galley style. Unfortunately, depressingly the existing tile does not flow under the cabinets. If I remove some base cabinets, it's going to leave an lower, ugly concrete-subfloor section.

Dang it. The hurdle. How are we going to solve it?
Backing up, here's the current layout. Brown reflects the lower cabinetry and the countertops; yellow represents the upper cabinets.

On Blogging: Blog Redesign 2016

It's been over two years since I did a visual refresh of the blog. Rather subject the site to yet another change of clothes, I think I'm going to rip out the whole closet and rebuild it from the studs.

I still like the current look but, Google's "Blogger" platform I've been using just hasn't been keeping up with modern features during the time this blog has grown to the online juggernaut of Arizona-based, DIY wizardry it is today. Blogger is great platform and it's inexpensive to run. It really is a wonderful way to get started and to test the waters to see if blogging is your cup of tea. Plus, before purchasing a custom domain name, it's free! If you were here in the beginning, you were spellbound, sitting on the edge of your seat, feverishly reading the adventures of your hero on www.azdiyguy.blogspot.com.

If you've been thinking about blogging, go ahead and jump in! Blogger is a good (free and easy) place to start.

I started in 2012 with a fairly basic design, with a lot of stock Blogger widgets. Everything was shot on a camera phone, edited on free software, and typed up on the aging family computer. I don't have any pics of the original design, but here's one from the early era.

Attempting a Storm-Downed Cactus Rescue

We get a ton of sunny days here in Arizona, but July brings the Monsoon season. It's still pretty good weather (aside from an average temperature of 104°F with spikes above 110°) but there's still the occasional rain and or dust storm action.

We got absolutely hammered this week. I managed to get the top up on the Miata, dodge around some small tree limbs and slide into the garage, just before the worst of it hit.

There are some cool pictures circulating online of the micro-burst absolutely plowing us. It looks like we got nuked.

Phoenix microburst

Kitchen Remodel - Soffit Investigation: Good News / Bad News

Kitchen Soffits with Ugly Wallpaper
Kitchen soffits are those boxy bump-outs above the high cabinets. We don't really love them or hate, but they do need to removed as part of our remodel. We're going to loose a good chunk of cabinet space as we shift from a U shape kitchen to a galley style, so we're going to go for taller cabinets, all the way to the ceiling.

Before we moved too far in our planning, I had to do some investigation to see what may lay in wait. Remember when I pulled the drop ceiling out of the family room (in my very first blog post ever)? I found a weird beam protruding beyond the wall face. I had to extend the wall face out to hide it. 

Harken back to yesteryear. There it was, the year 2012...

Kitchen Remodel - Early Planning and Research

I shared recently that we were targeting our kitchen remodel next. When I say "recently" I mean I mentioned it here on the blog about 3 and a half years ago. Practically yesterday right?

We decided that if we waited until we can actually afford it and have the time to do it, we'd never start. So we're going to start this year. We'll phase it in and get creative on living through the renovation. Of course, we'll save a ton by doing all the work ourselves.

The project will substantially be a gut-job, down to studs in some places. Stick with me and I'll share all the sorted details as we go.

The Initial Plan - 10,000 foot View

  • Convert the U-Shape to a Galley Style
  • Remove the horrible, energy sucking, single-pane greenhouse window and install an exterior door at the far end to a private courtyard (future). 
  • Move the Refrigerator and Pantry at the far end to open the space
  • Remove the soffit to allow for taller, upper cabinets (The soffit is that boxy drywall thing above our current cabinets.)
  • Replace the stove and add a built in microwave w/ exhaust fan
  • New cabinets, counter-tops, and back splash
Easy! Just these six things and we'll have a new kitchen. That should run about a hundred bucks and take a weekend to complete,... right?