Easier roll-out. Inspector Ian Rutledge. Shrub trimming.

Easier roll-out

push pull handle
Moving the roll-out trays is easier now with this handle I assembled today

The roll-out trays under our deck are very convenient and useful, but one aspect has been a problem. That’s the pulling out and pushing in the trays. I have had to lean way over to push or pull on the wood front of the tray, and it is hard to do at times. So today I devised a handle to make that job easier. It consists of several pieces of 3/8-inch iron pipe and fittings to make the detachable handle you see in the photo. Now I can work the tray without having to stoop, and it is much easier and safer to do. The handle has a T-head at the top to hold on to and an L-hook at the bottom. The L engages a large screw eye I inserted into the middle top of the front board in each tray.

Inspector Ian Rutledge

Racing The Devil cover
Cover of Racing The Devil, the latest in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd.

I recently finished the 21st book in the Ian Rutledge detective/mystery series by author Charles Todd. I started reading this series in 2016 and grabbed every book in series order and devoured them. The latest book, Racing the Devil, was published last year but I just got it and read it. Todd has another coming out next month, and I have already pre-ordered that one as well.

The Ian Rutledge series fascinates me; it is based in post-World War I-era England. Rutledge is a detective for Scotland Yard for most of the series, but it starts with him enlisting as an officer in the British Army in World War I. He has post traumatic stress resulting from his wartime experiences, and this follows him in his subsequent career as a detective. The times and places fascinate me. It was a time when technology was just getting started; many English towns still did not have telephone service, for example, and motor cars were just becoming popular. Rutledge travels around England solving crimes for Scotland Yard and gets into some very trying situations.

“Charles Todd” is actually Caroline and Charles Todd, a mother-and-son writing team that lives in North Carolina and Delaware respectively. They also wrote a spin-off series featuring Bess Crawford, a nurse serving in France during World War I, and I have read all of those as well. The Bess Crawford series is as good as the Ian Rutledge series.

Shrub trimming

before trimming
The lantanas and rubellia before trimming. There is also a wandering jew with the rubellia.
after trimming
After trimming. The lantana was severely cut back, the rubellia not so much. I did’t cut back the wandering jew.

I decided it was time for me to trim the shrubs in our front yard. That included the three lantana shrubs as well as the large rubellia. The rubellia had gotten tall and rangy and has stopped blooming for the season. The lantanas had grown way further than what I wanted them to get, and were hanging out over the sidewalk. I think my experience with lantanas is that after trimming them back they will grow out again. I hope that is what will happen, anyway. I have not had good luck with the rubellias, however. We have two others that I cut back some time ago and while they seem healthy with nice green growth they have not blossomed again. We’ll see what happens this time.

I wanted to clean up the shrub areas after trimming – to get rid of dead leaves and detritus that had accumulated under the lantana shrubs. You can see what was left in the “after” photo above. But my wet-dry vacuum did a lousy job so I quit for now. I have had trouble with that old machine that I bought used, so I will replace it tomorrow.

It was also time to feed all those plants as well, so I mixed up a couple of buckets of Miracle-Gro and water and doused them well.

trimmings
I had to empty out the trimmings bag to find my glasses that I lost

After doing all the cutting and cleanup I went inside to rest for a bit but could not find my glasses. I knew they had to have come loose from my shirt while doing all that work outside, so I headed out to look for them. I hoped they were not in the large bag into which I had stuffed all the trimmings, so I started by looking everywhere else. Of course I did not find them! So I had to empty out the trimmings bag a bit at a time until I found the glasses, down near the bottom of the load. So then back to stuffing, and sweeping up the chitterings. But at least I have my glasses!

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