Installing a BBQ Grill Patio

I used to have a great Weber grill when I lived here before. I had to leave it so I made it a part of the lease of the house but I had a tenant who, in dire financial state, sold it. Those are the risks in leaving things not attached to the house when you rent out your home.

So today (June 3, 2020), I’m getting a NEW GRILL!! It’s kinda fancy (in my book) because it’s a multi-fuel grill. I can grill with propane for ease but there’s a drawer for charcoal or wood chips or I think even pellets. More on that after I pick it up later today. For this new grill, I wanted to create a little paver patio so it wasn’t just sitting in the grass and sometimes mud. Here’s what I did:

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Shovel(s)
  • Rake
  • Large broom
  • Crushed granite (I bought 2 bags but only needed 1)
  • Pavers (I used 20 – 12”x12” pavers)
  • Playground sand (I bought 1 but ended up needing 3 bags)
  • Weed control fabric (this cuts easily with scissors or razor blade)
  • Scissors and/or razor blade
  • Dogs to supervise and approve your work (optional).

Step 1: dig a hole

Step 2: put down weed prevention cloth.

Step 3: put down sand.

Step 4: lay down the pavers.

Step 5 (final step): sweep in crushed gravel in between the pavers and cut away excess weed prevention cloth.

And I’m done! It’s THAT easy. I have a big root I tried to keep in tact and in hindsight, I probably should have cut it out. I think that’s what’s making the middle bulge up a bit. I don’t mind because I’m figuring it’ll keep rain from puddling in the middle.

I was going to put in a decorative edging but I think I’m going to add more pavers once I put my grill on the space. I also think I’m going to make a paver pathway from the gate into the backyard as well. Once some of that is complete, I’ll figure out which decorative edging will work. I also need to get rid of all the excess soil from the hole and mow my yard. But first, I’m grilling dinner tonight! 😃

Coronavirus and cleaning

We live in a very unique time with all the threats of coronavirus, COVID-19 surrounding us. People aren’t going out (shouldn’t be going out) unless absolutely necessary, there’s social distancing happening when we do have to get together and grocery stores are sold out of water, toilet paper and basic cleaning supplies.

We’ve talked about and heard about how to wash our hands – Alton Brown’s video is great, until the very end. There’s been debates about if hand sanitizer is actually effective when taking on a virus (again, see Alton Brown’s video about why not). The thing I haven’t seen a ton of is about cleaning surfaces and being careful when cleaning your home and objects in it.

No sob stories, anecdotes or anything here, just a “let’s think about this for a moment” post. Be careful as you deep clean during this time. A big thing not being mentioned that we need to avoid is chemical burns. If you’re using bleach or hydrogen peroxide to clean, you MUST dilute them. The Clorox website, as well as others, say 1:30 ratio, which means 1 part bleach to 30 parts water. So if you’re filling an empty, clean spray bottle, you have to know how much the volume of that spray bottle is and do some math.

You also have to make sure that spray bottle (or whatever you choose to dilute chemicals in) is CLEAN of old chemicals. Remember from high school chemistry, you’re going to want to put the bleach in first then add water slowly. If there are old chemicals in that container, bleach may react terribly with it.

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is another used chemical for cleaning that must be diluted. Did you know you can buy H2O2 in various dilutions already? YOU STILL HAVE TO DILUTE IT WITH WATER FOR CLEANING USAGE! I found this website for various dilutions but it seems 1:11 is a good solution for everyday use.

We also don’t think about how using chemicals such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide react with our skin with extended use, even if it is diluted properly. Make sure you wear gloves when you clean using chemicals, even the pre-made Clorox wipes (or an equivalent). Wash your hands with soap after using chemicals.

Better yet, consider using vinegar as a cleaning solution. You still have to dilute it but it’s a lot safer for you, your kids and your pets to use in cleaning. There are a TON of websites talking bout using vinegar as a cleaning solution.

Also, as a little self-plug here, I sell Norwex towels. If you’re interested in cleaning with NO chemicals, check out my Norwex website – https://cathybenford.norwex.biz.

Thanks for reading through this personal PSA. Have a great day and enjoy time to yourself, your family and pets during this time.

Back to the ATX

Yes, I’ve moved back to Austin. It was both an easy and difficult decision to make but it had to be made. I loved the kids I worked with and we were making progress towards high quality music making. Leaving them was the hard decision I had to make.

My parents are older, some may say elderly. Both our parents have had some health issues in the recent years, mostly minor things, but watching and hearing about these little things add up from 8 hours away has been one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in my adult life. Moving back to be near them was the easy decision.

So, with a leap of faith that the right opportunities would come along at the right time for the right reasons, I quit my job at Tascosa and moved back to Austin. Not only am I now closer to my parents, I’m living in their house! 😮 It’s been nice, actually. Already, I’ve had wonderful chats with them about random things and helped them start getting organized and rid of stuff that’s been lingering around the house, in boxes after their fire incident a few years ago. I think in the first week back, I went through almost 25 book sized boxes of random papers and stuff they didn’t need anymore.

I figured I’d either find a teaching job or make connections to teach private lessons, masterclasses and clinics while at Summer Convention. Two days before I left for San Antonio, I got an email from a friend and mentor asking if I might be interested in a job at a charter school. It’s only part time but they’re looking for someone enthusiastic, energetic and ready to build a program. “Like you” were the words in the email. “Sounds great”, I emailed back. That same afternoon, I got a call from the principal and I almost feel like I was hired before we ended our call setting up my interview for the next morning. “Oh, by the way, we start school next Monday. Can you start right away?” was how we ended our call. So there ya go – if you’re patient, the right thing comes along at the right time.

I’m now teaching 6th-12th grade band and orchestra and the entire program is just over 100 kids. My orchestra class (6th-12th grade in one class) doesn’t really fit in the classroom I’m assigned but we’ll make it work. I think right now, we’re all just happy that we get to work together. I’m also working at the desk at The Yoga Room in Round Rock as well as working on some video editing, photography and web editing projects for them. They’re a wonderful yoga studio and just sitting at the desk during classes is a calming and relaxing environment. Once I get my schedule settled, I’ll be coming up to get back into my yoga practice here. I’ll also be helping a friend with office administration stuff for his business. Ya know, back of my hand stuff. I guess I don’t know how to just work part time….

As quickly as the school is growing (it’s in its third year of existence), I’m sure we’ll be moving to a building that’s purposed for a secondary school and my position will become full time before I know it. It’s exciting to be a part of new growth. It’s also a little frustrating because we have very little equipment but the administration is extremely supportive, nothing like I’ve experienced before, so I know that won’t hinder our success. The families are also understanding and willing to do whatever it takes to make the school and its programs successful for their kids. Again, like nothing I’ve ever experienced before from an entire campus view. An example of extreme support – the school asked for donations of community supplies such as paper (both copy and lined), tissues, cleaning wipes, pencils, etc. for our campus. From around 400 student families, they almost filled a classroom, both on the floor and on folding tables, with their donations. Then asked what else we needed. It’s like having a school full of the best band boosters you could ask for!

Me: “Kids, you need to rent your own instruments because we don’t really have a working inventory here.”
Them: “Okay, can I get mine this weekend?”
Me: “Um, not yet, we’re doing instrument testing on Monday so you don’t know what you need to get yet.”
Them: “Oh yeah. Monday night then?”

They’re all willing to get on the same page so they’re eating up counting basic rhythms (Count-Tap-Clap) and Masters of the Alphabet. I’m cramming string pedagogy as fast as I can absorb it and local music stores are more than willing to help however they can. I also had a friend at Yamaha walk with me at convention so he could introduce me to his friends to collect donations of items. I have a lot of Thank You emails to send out still. It’s going to be another wonderful year!

Random Thoughts

Can I just say that I hate the Financial Aid Department? It was the same way when I was at ol’ S-Dub as well. I got an email from SHSU saying that they don’t have me listed as Accepted into the Graduate School and I need to send a copy of my acceptance letter. If I have my acceptance letter, then shouldn’t they have it in their computer systems and isn’t that THEIR error?? ARGH! I called the Graduate Office then the Financial Aid office and low and behold, it was their error and I don’t have to send in a copy of the acceptance letter. I can see how fun dealing with Financial Aid will be from here on out. Somethings just don’t change.

As a note on packing things up – if you’re moving out of your office, the desk should probably be one of the last things you pack up. I’ve packed up my desk (it felt like the right next thing to do) and now I need things that were in it and now are in the bottom of the box. I’m finding myself going to Brian’s office to borrow scissors and such. Oh well….

I got a new camera!! I know, I should be saving that money for deposits and moving to Huntsville but it was really a deal I couldn’t pass up. It’s a Canon EOS Rebel XS with Case Logic backpack. I won’t say how much I paid but I feel a little guilty paying as little as I did. I hope to do the previous owner good by taking lots of great pics and posting them regularly. Now to get a book on photography and actually read it. 😉 I think this will be a good alternative, creative outlet while I go through graduate school. Don’t you??

I’m feeling a bit discombobluated today. I’m not sure why. Almost as though I’ve had too much coffee or something. But I can’t imagine coffee is the culprit since I only had one cup (as normal). Maybe it’s just all the chaos around here, trying to wrap up the year and with all my packing chaos.

I’m also bothered because I’m at a loss of what to pack next. I’m down to knick-knacks and my filing cabinet. There are a lot of knick-knacks and some of it I can dispose but others, I have to sort through since they’ve been given to me by the kids. I think my #1 thing is to move out anything that belongs to the band program so I can really see what is mine to pack. But where to do I put all that stuff???

Okay, I need to get to it. 2 more days of school, graduation on Saturday, Brad comes on Friday night to get his stuff and visit (I’m not sure how long he’ll be here, either), and my last contract day is June 1. The SPHS Band Boosters are having a reception for me on Wednesday, June 1 from 6-8 pm in the band hall. How nice is that??