What is the Matrix?…..Are You Beeping at Me?

Hello again free folk of Middle Earth! …..and all the rest of you who haven’t any idea what a Hobbit or an orc or  a Balrog is. It’s okay though. Us Lord of the Rings nerds need a hook to hang our hats on on an everyday basis. So we will take the needling or abuse if you must. Don’t worry. I’ve been called and taken much worse than a Lord of the Rings geek in my 51 years on God’s green earth. I’ll survive.

Somethings on the other hand I just can’t deal with though. A quick story.

So in our town you have to bring your garbage to a transfer station to get rid of it every week. It’s like $275 a year to throw your garbage out. It’s a pretty good deal especially for me because I just have the boys do it on the weekends. Well now that I don’t have an abled bodied driver around I have to get back into it. (The editor definitely isn’t going to do it.Hmmm… let’s not even go there right now.)

If this isn’t interesting just skip to the first picture. Anyway, so I get to the dump and there are a couple of cars waiting in line. So I’m sitting there waiting my turn. No problem. This is pretty typical of a Saturday morning at the dump. You have to wait. No big deal….So I finally get to the spot where it’s my turn next to pull into a spot….but there’s a guy getting into his car so he can back out. So I figure, me being a nice guy and all, I’ll let the guy pull out and then I can pull in and the guy behind me can pull in as well. All of a sudden the guy behind me starts beeping his horn. I mean I  literally jumped out of my seat. Nobody ever beeps at the dump. Especially a nasty beep. You know of what I speak. There’s the good old friendly toot when the guy in front of you doesn’t realize the light has turned green and there’s the nasty beep when someone is going to back into you and hit your car. This was no friendly toot.

Breath in and breath out Jim. So I pull into my spot and go to get the trash out of the back of the truck….and the guy behind me pulls in next to me. He’s in a truck too. Put it to you this way. I don’t feel like “Joe Mr. Friendly neighborhood guy”. For the younger generation that would be like Homer Simpsons neighbor Flanders. Like I said I’m not feeling like Ned Flanders right now. So I go up to the guy as he’s getting to the back of his truck and I ask him: “You weren’t beeping at me were you?” He shakes his head and points to his left like he was beeping to his buddy or something. I did notice that he did go over to talk to someone as I was leaving.

I think he was beeping at me though. Text 1 if you think he was beeping at me and text 2 if you think he was beeping at his buddy. Keep in mind it wasn’t a friendly beep.

All I kept thinking about when I left was my little old Polish grandmother, Nan. She learned to drive when she was in her 60’s. Somebody once beeped at her like that. You know an aggressive “hurry up” beep. She was so upset. I’ll never forget it. Nan was great.

Boy, that took a lot longer than I thought. (Editor’s note: I’ll say!!!! This is a very tricky job. I want to edit people. I really do. It’s tough though. He’s a great guy and all. I don’t like to hurt his feelings…)

Had to vent some of my anger issues. I apologize.

On a more upbeat note I saw a flower over at the Hobbit House that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Check this out.

Sally: A little help here please.
Sally: A little help here please.

Nature. It really is amazing.

So let’s get back to formwork removal shall we?

I know last week I had mentioned I had to break out the sawzall to get the plywood out of the skylights. So what I did during the week is I got up to the house after work and worked on one skylight each night. It really was tough work and in a confined space as well. I really wanted to just concentrate on the big stuff this weekend but the inner skylight plywood really should be off before you start. I think if I had to do it again I would add a 1 inch break away strip in each of the four corners. That would eliminate the need to use the sawzall. (A technicality but I’ll show you what I mean when we do Hobbit House II.) (Editor’s note: Sigh.)

So me being me and me almost always overestimating what I can get done I woke up early Saturday morning to begin my mission. Strip the front formwork off so we can get a good look at how our ceiling came out. I think I told Sally H. that I was going to get this done by hook or by crook. ( I believe the term is foreshadowing….starting to get a little fancy on you now. The editor was an English minor in college. I think she wore off on me a bit.)

Like I was saying I got over there around 6 AM and finished stripping the last skylight….and then took stock of how I’m gonna knock this structure down. It’s not that difficult though. Ya just gotta have a plan….and part of the plan has got to be where are you going to put all this stuff so it doesn’t get in the way for the next step.

Now the thing I forgot to mention about  Saturday was that the relative humidity was about 115%. The people at the weather channel would say that is impossible but if you saw me after about 15 minutes of work you would probably ask if it was raining out. I mean it was brutal people. Absolutely brutal. It was like the kind of humidity, and I can’t believe I’m saying this because I’ve made jokes about people who’ve said it(namely my mother in law), that makes it hard to breath. I mean I could breath but the air was heavy with water….and I looked like I had been underwater. (I went through three shirts…for the record.)

So like I was saying there’s a method to the madness. First and foremost is try and work neatly and cleanly. Meaning don’t start dropping a bunch of stuff and make a huge pile of debris. Drop some stuff and clean it up as you go. This way you don’t wind up with a nail through the foot. That’s not what we want. Problem is that leaves me with a ton of walking. Everything has to either be thrown out or stacked neatly. I must have walked 5 miles Saturday carrying some form of lumber or post shore. I was sweating so much I almost started a new stream on the property. Where’s the hired help when I need them?

Oh yeah, the method to my madness, as I was saying.

Well you really start from the top down and kind of reverse the order of events to a degree. First thing I did was take down the planking and the protection brackets. I was initially going to put the lumber and such on the side but then thought better of it and realized that I’ll definitely run out of room by the time I’m finished. So I stacked all the lumber on the layout platform. It was more walking than I would like to do but everything is a lot more organized….and if the hired help ever shows up again they’ll see where I want everything to go.

Feeling some pressure all of a sudden. Not that many pictures…running kind of long. Darn you Terence…you’re messin’ with my head!

Hey, It’s my blog and I’ll write it the way I want.

The hired help. I’m beginning to feel a bit like a Ring Bearer. You know like Galadriel said, “To bear a Ring is to be alone.” Just trying to keep in touch with all those LOTR fans out there.

Better get a picture in here soon or the peanut gallery is going to start complaining. Here’s a picture after I took down the protection on the front of the house.

Protection removed at the front.
Protection removed at the front.

It doesn’t look like much but I actually did quite a bit of cleanup out front before I even got started. It does make a difference though. I was telling Terence the other day when we were working you have to assume that every piece of wood has a nail in it. So it pays to clean up as you go.

Now I was working by myself so I couldn’t take a picture but one of the most important things to wear when you are doing this kind of work is a hard hat. Sometimes you wind up whacking something and it goes flying off in a direction you didn’t expect. Also a lot of times you wind up pulling down on something and something you didn’t think would come off with it comes down unexpectedly. You definitely don’t want to get cracked in the head with a 16 foot long 2×4. Although that guy behind me at the dump?Hmmmm….. I could have cracked him in the head with a 2×4.

So once this was down I proceeded to take care of the two spandrel ends. East and west. I had a bit of trouble with the east side and had to break the skill saw and the sawzall out. (I went a little nuts securing this side to the concrete for some reason.) The west side pretty much came right off though. These forms were heavy. Double 5/8’s plywood. I was so dead by this time I just dragged the second one to the dumpster. I didn’t even try to lift it. Here’s the east side. The underside came out really nice check it out.

East corner stripped.
East corner stripped.

I don’t know if you remember but this is where we are going to put the steps to the side yard. I should have made that retaining wall on the right a bit farther to the right. It would have made for a wider set of stairs. When I laid it out I forgot about the overhang of the spandrel. I think it will be okay though.

Once the two ends were out I moved inside and started thinning out the jacks or post shores, if you will. It’s heavy work. The Doka 400s weigh about 55 pounds each. You kind of have to manhandle them to get them down. Needless to say I was dead by the end of the day. I wanted to keep going but by 2:30 I knew I would need to call 911 to have an ambulance come with a stretcher to take me home. Which brings me to the title of my post.

Now I know this is sort of a bit out of the realm of what we normally talk about but by the end of the day this was the recurring message that was imprinted on the back of my mind. So whether or not you get it doesn’t really apply.

Have you ever seen the movie “The Matrix” with Keanu Reeves? Well if your into sci- fi this is a must see. (I’m talking about the first Matrix movie not the second or third.) After I watched this movie the first time I was like, “What just happened?????” It’s definitely one of those movies that makes you think about all this technology and stuff that’s going on out there and where we’re headed with it.

So the short version: Machines take over the world and are using humans as batteries for themselves. The humans are hooked up to a computer program so they believe they are living in a real world but they are actually living in a pod and their energy is being used to fuel the machines. Anyway Keeanu Reeves, aka Neo,  realizes that something is not right  and escapes. When he escapes he almost drowns but is picked up by the good guys. He’s unconscious and doesn’t know what has happened. He wakes up in the good guys ship and asks aloud, “Am I dead?”

That is how I felt Saturday afternoon upon waking from my nap. (I literally had to take a nap after I got home. No choice there.)Man, was I dead . That’s really the only way to put it. I don’t know if it was the heat or the humidity. Maybe the weather channel is to blame?…And by the way the Weather Channel is definitely not what it used to be. Right?

Let’s move on shall we? Hobbit Hollow Jim is starting to crack up.

Anyway a few more pictures for the road.

Oh yeah! Remember I said the whole spandrel side came off in one piece. I mean it was great. I worked my way along the bottom and popped the whole thing out in one shot.

Spandrel came out in one piece.
Spandrel came out in one piece.

I didn’t have to cut every piece of skylight out either. Here’s a piece that came out in one shot as well.

Skylight panel.
Skylight panel.


South side at the end of the day Saturday/
South side at the end of the day Saturday/


North side spandrels stripped.
North side spandrels stripped.

I sit here writing this Sunday weighing my options. It’s a gorgeous day out. The Jets are playing.

Geno Smith just threw an interception. Hmmmm…..think I’ll check on my lawn.

We should be able to get some plywood down next weekend. That will definitely be exciting.

Enjoy your work week and I’ll see you all next week!



6 thoughts on “What is the Matrix?…..Are You Beeping at Me?”

  1. It’s a hibiscus blossom (sometimes know as rose-of-sharon) native to east Asia. That plant usually grows as a tall skinny bush, but will bloom even if cut short. They area really easy to grow, hard to kill. Move it to decent dirt with sun and it will bloom all summer, and self seed to spread.

    I get that stripping the forms is hard work, but seeing the results is so cool! Just think, you get to save that piece that come out whole from the skylight for Hobbit House II. I am so excited for you, seeing the results.

    • Sally! I’m glad your enjoying form removal. I’m gonna try and get some help this weekend for a few hours. I really want to see what’s on the other side of those forms.

      True.It’s a lot of work but I really enjoy it. This site is one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been. It is absolutely gorgeous.

      Thanks again for keeping us on our toes with the flora and fauna! (I think those are the right words.) I’ll do my best to try and throw something in there every once in a while!

      Thanks again as always!


      • Looks like you might have Daylilies (those long skinny leaves turning brown at the end) in that bed too. Someone before you was a gardener, and this patch of ground used to get sun.

        • Hey Sally! Is your last name Holmes? Like in Sherlock? Wow! I never thought anyone could deduce so much from one picture!

          The house that was originally on the property was supposedly built in the late 1700’s. So I’m sure there was a gardener or two who resided there at one point or another.

          That patch of ground does get the most sun as well. What would Holmes have said? Elementary my dear Hobbit Hollow Jim, elementary.

          I’m going to need some help someday with ideas on what to plant. Will be open to suggestions!

          Take care!


  2. 115 percent humidity – that was June, July, August in the Sunshine State aka the Humid State! Lower humidity now, but I lost 27 pounds drinking water to stay hydrated (no joke). And the guy who beeped was from Deerfield, that development ruined the town!
    Glad everything is going well, I’ll send you a picture of me wearing the Hobbit Hollow shirt, thanks again!

    • Hey Mike! Yeah, summer in Florida brutal as well.(Brutal all the time it sounds like.) Hey, at least you’re keeping your weight down. I guess that’s looking at the bright side of things.

      I got a lot of grief from the editor about the beeping incident. I gotta try and keep that kind of stuff out of the blog. Had a bit of writer’s block and couldn’t let that go. The guy probably was from Deerfield though.

      Thanks for writing. I hope everything is well.

      As my father used to say: Keep the faith!



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