Constructive Musings

The theme for Terri’s Sunday Stills challenge this week is “Under Construction. It seems as good an excuse as any to dip my toes back into blogging after taking much of the summer off. Part of my absence was construction-related, but lazy summer days and lack of inspiration are mostly to blame. Although I have continued to enjoy reading other blogs, I couldn’t manage more than three posts of my own since mid-May.

Deck Construction

We actually did have a rather large construction project this summer, which took a lot of my time (full disclosure: it took much more of my husband’s time). Our 20-year-old deck was starting to show its age, so we decided—just when costs ramped up, and supply chains broke down—it was time to repair and re-surface it. The good news is that we found a nice young couple who wanted the old material, so we avoided sending it to the landfill. The bad news (besides cost and availability) is that the project was more work than expected (more full disclosure: it’s still not 100% done).

During and (almost) After deck construction

We are happy with the way it turned out, though, and hope it will last at least another 20 years (seeing as we’d be in our 80s then, I imagine that we will decide to ignore any flaws and grow old with it). In the meantime, we are enjoying our new deck and slowly forgetting the effort it took to build it.

Blog Construction

Even though I haven’t been writing many posts lately, I have made a few minor adjustments to my blog.

One that I should have done a while ago: after reading a head’s up on Hugh’s News and Views, I added some copyright verbiage at the end of my posts and made it a recurring block. I also plan to routinely watermark certain photos. I doubt if this will stop anyone determined to steal my words or images, but I hope it will stop some. I am not happy when I find what I’ve shared on my blog appearing elsewhere.

It was great to see Terri in June

Another change was suggested by Terri when we had a blogger meet-up a few months ago. I believe that I “may” have been whining about all the spam comments my blog was getting. WordPress does a good job filtering them out, but I still look at each one before deleting to assure that a diamond hasn’t gotten swept up with the dregs. Her suggestion of turning off comments after a post is over 120 days old has helped immensely (thank you, Terri).

Travel Plan Construction

My husband and I are planning a road trip later this year and we are looking forward to getting away for more than a few days. Although our itinerary won’t take us anywhere we haven’t been before, what will be different is that we are driving our electric car. We’ve driven the EV on some mini-trips that have required one mid-point stop for re-charging, but this will be the first trip where charging will be part of the planning process.

We love our electric car, and it is perfect for our day-to-day driving needs, but its 260-mile range won’t get us to our destination on a single charge. Driving an EV on an extended trip will take a bit of planning but there are a lot of online tools and fast charging stations available, so we see it as adding to our adventure. Since there is an increase interest in electric cars—including, unfortunately, a lot of misinformation—I plan to share our experience after we return.  

Thanks for the inspiration, Terri, it’s good to be posting again.  

Copyright © 2022 RetirementallyChallenged.com – All rights reserved.

Author: Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

120 thoughts on “Constructive Musings”

  1. I was thinking about you and wondering what you’ve been up to. And here you are. 🙂 Your deck is gorgeous! And it looks like it’s built to last.

    How fun that you’re going to be taking a longer trip in your electric car. It’s the way of the future, and I look forward to reading all about your adventure. Have you decided yet where you’ll be going? Happy planning!

    1. My husband does great work!

      We have a plan for the first part of our trip but have left our return route up to how we are feeling at the time. The EV is very comfortable to drive, and the fast chargers make the stops pretty quick and easy (and less expensive than gas).

  2. A great segue Janis, with “Under Construction” and your post. Good point on the copyright verbiage. I have this on my “About” page, yet I should likely place it on each post. Intriguing how you have found something shared elsewhere that originated on your blog. I am having some unusual activity (sometimes 30 to 50 clicks a day on one of my posts for the past month) I have a niggly about this one and it is suspicious activity. Nice to have you return here, Janis.💕 Wonderful photo of you and Terri.😀

      1. Hi again, Janis, How did you find out something you shared on your blog appeared elsewhere? I always feel I am small potatoes…enjoy your day and your getaway…nice to “see” you again. xo

  3. The copyright notice at the end of your post is a great idea, Janis and one I might also take up, if you don’t mind.
    I have had some of my images stolen, so watermarking them is a prudent idea. I also decrease the resolution and resize photos, so that nefarious individuals can’t really use them for any financial gain.
    Like Terri, I do find turning off comments on old posts dies help reduce the spam immensely.
    I would love to hear more about your electric car as we are exploring whether to go hybrid or stick with a petrol version for a couple more years. The electric cars are very expensive here, in Australia, and both the new electric and the new hybrid models do not come with a spare tyre, which we find a little worrying. Do you still have spare in your vehicle?

    1. Feel free to add the copyright info to your blog too. I made it a reusable block so I don’t have re-type it every time. I’ll only watermark images that someone might want to copy… I doubt that anyone is interested in pictures of our deck 🙂

      It seems that many cars (ICE and EVs) come without a spare tire these days, so I didn’t think much about it. I imagine it’s especially important for EVs since weight is important. I’ve had two flat tires in all the years I’ve been driving so I’m not too worried (but I do have roadside assistance).

      1. You’re right Janis I have roadside assist too. It is just a mind game getting my head around not having a spare tyre as I got the first flat tyre ever about 12 months. Had to change it on a very busy freeway. Frightening!

      2. I just had to jump in here. I’ve had dozens of flat tires and my best change time was like 9 minutes. The jack was still out from the week before! So it was a consideration for us when we just bought our new Hybrid. It does have a spare but not full size — just what they call a donut. Might be enough to get me back to civilization if I’m on a rural road.

          1. In our sparsely populated province there are still lots of spots without coverage. Distant memory is a good thing for flat tires. Mine never seems to be allowed to get that far back. I’ve got bad tire karma for sure.

  4. Our deck is also made of the gray Trex. It’s 15 years old and still looks like new. The younger son just pressure washed it a couple of weeks ago and it looks great. I know you’ll enjoy the deck! Carol (aka Tehachap)

  5. How awesome on your rebuilt deck even if it is still under construction! I enjoyed reading how you’ve made some constructive changes to your blog site–important changes for sure. We had a great visit and we always learn something from each other. I’m happy to see your post and read your news! September is a great time to get back to blogging, but your upcoming road trip in your electric car sounds fun. I can’t wait to read more about that! Thank your readers for their kind comments!

    1. Hugh is such a great source for blogging help and your suggestion to turn off comments on older post was golden. I love how bloggers help each other. It did seem like the end of summer was a good time to start writing again and I hope to keep it up this time 🙂

  6. So nice – and inspiring – to see you blog again and that Terri was a big inspiration for much of this post. And, wonderful to see that the deck is (almost) done! Well done, you two. I’m sure it’s amazing and it will make many an evening and sunset better than ever. I think you might have forgotten to mention the destination of your upcoming road trip! 🙂

      1. Haha. Our destinations have been driveways of friends lately, as in the last four months, so I’m not sure about these being more exotic. 🙂 That being said, we have been enjoying the Bend and Coastal areas of Oregon.

  7. With construction work comes stress if ours and friends experience are anything to go by. So, wise choice to have a lazy summer though very much appreciating your continued support via your comments. Lovely photo of you Janis as well as Terri. It would be fun to meet more bloggers since many of us have being blogging together for years. Look forward to reading about the forthcoming trips.

  8. Hooray!!! I was absolutely delighted to see this post today — and I opened it right away.
    It is wonderful to see you writing again. Congratulations to you and hubby on the deck.
    Fingers crossed that this or a future road trip has us meeting up again (soon)!

  9. My deck is 21-year-old composite and really looking bad. The realtor told me it was Trex and I didn’t know any better at the time.

    My son has a new EV and loves it. It seems almost magic to me. So different from anything I’ve ever driven.

    1. I’ve heard that old Trex doesn’t hold up very well, but 21 years is pretty good. I love our new composite (TimberTech) and hope it stays beautiful for a long time.

      EVs do seem magical, especially when I pass by gas stations and plug-in at home. This is my third one and I’ll never buy anything else.

      1. The deck isn’t at the top of my list yet, but it’s certainly on the list. Maybe when I get the house painted.

        I’m probably driving my last car, an 11-year-old Forester. I haven’t hit 20,000 miles with it yet, so the two of us aren’t doing much polluting.

  10. Thanks for the important blog info because we can all use it. I took the reblog button off, but one site keeps reblogging my posts. I contacted WordPress, but they said there’s really nothing I can do after taking the reblog button off. 😦 Your deck looks beautiful, and I hope you enjoy it for many years, and I wish you lots of fun on your upcoming road trip. Our electricity rates went up 111% this month so I’m not sure right now we’d see much of a savings with an EV.

    1. I hope the site at least lists you as the author. I don’t get those blogs that just blog other’s post… what’s the point?

      Yes, both gas and electricity rates are going up, although a lot of people around here also have solar. I didn’t buy my first EV (this is my third) because of the gas savings, I just liked the technology and the ease of “filling up” at home. Now, after driving them for so long, I’d never go back.

  11. Welcome back to blogging!!! Your deck looks great. Ours is 30 years old and definitely needs sprucing up, replacing it all at this time in the supply issues/costs made it look perfectly just fine for now to us. LOL! Yay for blogging updates and for catching up with Terri this summer. And now you have a road trip planned – YIPPEE more blog-worthy moments to come. Enjoy every minute of your adventures, I look forward to reading about them here!!

    1. Thank you, Shelley. I understand what you mean about your deck. It seemed a bit crazy to do it when we did, but I really am glad that we ignored the practical voices in our heads. Even though I haven’t been blogging much, it has been a good summer (and, where I live, “summer” will still be here into October).

      1. You’re welcome. The first year of the pandemic window sales in our area skyrocketed. The sale of home construction did too, unfortunately, many of them are still undone. I’m glad you’ve been able to complete your project!!
        As the nights get cooler here, I’m reminded the four-letter word starting with S is right around the corner. I get jealous knowing you’ll still be enjoying summer! 🙂
        I look forward to reading about your road trip!

  12. Your deck looks lovely. We did ours too. Hopefully never again! Thanks for the blogging tip. My beef is that it takes so long to delete as the most you can do is 20 at a time. I never worry about that one gem that might be there. I don’t check it often enough and there are always 2000 waiting for deletion. Wishing WP would offer a “real” mass deletion with all at once.

      1. Hi Kate, Janis, WordPress does allow bulk deletion. When you’re at your Comments or Posts dashboard, look to the upper right corner for the View button, click on the arrow, switch from Default View to Classic View, select Spam and choose Empty Spam or use Bulk action to select and delete the spam comments you want to delete. You can switch back to Default view any time. I’ve used this feature and it works well for me. Hope this helps.

  13. Hi Janis, it is nice to hear you will be back with more regular posts. I’ve missed you.

    Hugh’s posts are always a great reminder of all the things we need to tend to on our blogs. I don’t watermark anything since my content isn’t valuable to anyone but me. If I wrote short stories, as you do, or if I posted printable photos, I would definitely copywrite.

    We drive a hybrid (it gets great mileage) and have been considering going electric for the past year, at least for our about-town car. It’s the lack of charging stations and the time involved in charging that hold us back from a full commitment. I am sure you will be keeping detailed notes during your trip. Maybe your evaluation will be the extra push we need. I hope all goes well. Your deck looks great – enjoy!

    1. I think you’d be surprised at how much someone would love to “borrow” your photos – they are gorgeous. Like you, though, I don’t think many of my photos warrant a watermark since they are just snaps. I would be beyond irritated if someone stole of my stories, though. I’ll hunt them down 🙂

      I think it makes sense to have an EV for daily driving and a hybrid for longer trips. Since we have a garage, it’s easy to just plug in our EV, it charges overnight when we are sleeping and rates are cheaper, then it’s ready to go whenever we want. My husband rarely drives his gas car but it’s a good workhorse when he needs one.

  14. Congratulations on a new deck! A lot of work is behind you, and more exciting events are in the making with your road trip. You will have a lot to show on your blog when you return.

  15. Good to read that construction went well and Terri’s prompt encouraged you to blog again. Good “construction” ideas for the blog. Deck looks great. I repainted part of our house this year and had the same thought that in 20 years it can grow old with me or I am going to hire it out. Bernie

  16. Welcome back, traveler-in-waiting! Back in 1999, we opted to put in a new deck using the then rated #2 product in composite materials: Timber Tech. It’s only drawback at the time (which made it #2) was the fact that it’s accessory components were very limited ie-rails, posts and such. Over the 10 yrs we lived in that home, we saw our deck flourish and others built with the #1 brand have multiple problems sooooo we felt vindicated in chosing what was then touted as ‘second best’ HA! I know you will love your new Timber Tech Deck.

    1. That’s interesting (and good news). We opted for a metal and glass railing, so their lack of a system didn’t factor in, although I imagine TimberTech has upped their game over the years. I just loved the gray/taupe color the best of all the different decking products so that did it for me.

  17. Welcome back! I think your deck looks great (construction always takes longer and costs more than anticipated, but is usually worth it in the end.) I also turned off comments on older posts. When I began to get a bunch of spam on my “About the author” page, I turned them off of that too. It seemed to solve the problem, and I hope it stays that way. I’m looking forward to reading about your trip!

  18. Janis, this is a super interesting post. It’s always good to see Terri in her many visits with bloggers. We have one coming up in September in Portland. I’m looking forward to hear more about your trip with your EV. I have a Prius that goes 27 miles on EV, but then is gas and hybrid. We get close to 70 MPH over the 60,000+ miles we’ve driven it. It costs us nothing to drive around town, but on long trips, we are strictly a regular hybrid. Anyway, enough about our car. Have a fun trip. 🙂

    1. I think hybrids are a great way to take advantage of both fuels (if I can call electricity a fuel). Few people drive more than 30 miles daily – and even less now that we are retired – so getting 27 electric miles is great. Portland is such a beautiful, fun city – have a great time on your meet-up!

  19. Welcome back to blogging! The deck looks great! I love this line: “In the meantime, we are enjoying our new deck and slowly forgetting the effort it took to build it.” Ha! That’s wonderful. Best of luck on your road trip. I look forward to hearing how it all goes!

    1. Whenever I look at progress photos of our various construction projects, I’m always amazed at how much work we did. It must be like childbirth… if you remembered the pain, you wouldn’t have another 🙂 I’m looking forward to our adventure and I’ll definitely report back.

  20. Janis, It’s great to see you writing again. Your deck looks beautiful. I look forward to hearing more about your road trip. As to blog admin stuff, WordPress does allow bulk removal of spam (hundreds removed in seconds) and I’ve used the feature. I’m adding a comment to reply to yours and Kate C.’s comment above.

  21. Nice to see you back. Those house projects have kept me from blogging too. And, I hear you on all the project delays. It’s especially hard to find contractors in our new town just to get started! Great that you and Terri had a meet up!

    1. Since we (and by “we” I mostly mean my husband) did the work ourselves, we have no one to blame for the construction delays but ourselves. I hope you plan to share some pics of your finished projects with us. I love house renos, especially when they are done by others.

      1. Wish I could say it was something exciting, but it’s little things like painting that “golf course green” office a neutral color, replacing the rotting trellis and gate, installing hand rails in the garden steps, removing degrading raised beds. Not really “before and after material”, but taking time and we can’t do it all ourselves. We love our new house, but its not exactly new!

  22. Hi there! Interesting suggestions (copywrite and turn off comments) – I’m going to explore both. Exciting on the new deck getting finished (almost). I think any construction seems to take twice as long and cost twice as much as anticipated. Looking forward t

  23. Great post, Janis! I have copyright verbiage on my sidebar. I don’t know if it works, but it calms the mind. 🙂 Your deck looks great and we’re about to begin a deck re-do as well. What timing! And have a wonderful trip!

  24. An electric car is a ” should save up for.” I’d be interested to hear how you were able to access the recharge stations on the road. I also appreciate your suggestion to turn off the comments after 120 days. Good call!
    Thanks for the post.

    1. EV car prices are coming down (and, also some are REALLY expensive… just like gas cars, I guess) and, if you are in the market for a new car in the future, something to consider. I think they satisfy day-to-day driving very well. I hope turning off posts works as well for you as it has for me.

  25. Your deck is lovely and it gives me hope that eventually we’ll find someone to re-build ours. I don’t know if we could travel like you did using an electric car. Charging stations are around, but not easily accessible if you don’t know where they are.

    I turn off my comments after 21 days. Talk to me now, or forever hold your peace. And as for having more copyright verbiage in your sidebar… in my experience it makes no difference. Content thieves steal, regardless of what you do. And if the thief is in a country that doesn’t respect copyrights, who you gonna sue?

    1. I imagine I could have shortened the window on comments too as I don’t normally see legitimate comments on old posts. I’ll see how 120 days works, then adjust. And I agree with the copyright verbiage. It probably is more for my limited peace of mind than a true deterrent.

      Maybe California has more charging stations than some other states because we have a LOT of electric cars. The great thing about locating them is that the GPS screen in my car knows where they are and gives me directions (it even tells me how many of the stations (say 8 out of the 10 chargers) are available.

      1. The charging station info feature on your electric car is brilliant. How does your car do on hills? That’s one of my other concerns about getting one. It ain’t flat here.

        1. I wish you lived close by, Ally. I’d let you drive my car and see. There is absolutely no difference in performance between an EV and a gas car… in fact, my car has tons of power and can go really, really fast. Most, if not all, EVs also have regenerative breaking which takes the wasted energy from the process of slowing down and uses it to recharge the batteries.

  26. Your deck looks really, really nice. I’m always excited when a home project is completed. Less tumult! The copyright idea is clever, and I have contemplate that after seeing it on other blogs. Of course, with my luck someone would challenge me to show proof that I actually HAVE gone through the legal paperwork of copyrighting it! Great pic, btw. – Marty

    1. I’m not sure the copyright will protect me from all the creeps, but maybe from some of them. I guess, technically, we own the copyright to our work as soon as it is created. I do have an attorney in the family (who also reads my blog) so I imagine he can weigh in.

  27. A very constructive post! Good to see you back. I’m interested that you have an electric car. We have two gas guzzlers, a hangover from when I was driving out to my mother’s all the time. We really don’t need two now, but can’t decide whether to get rid of one and keep the other, or to ditch both and go for hybrid. All-electric would be fine for the city but not very practical for more remote parts of Scotland where suitable infrastructure is still scarce.

    1. A hybrid sounds like a good choice. My husband and I had the “opportunity” to test life with just one car between us and decided that we liked the freedom of having our own. It’s probably a waste since both are parked most of the time… but we live in SoCal where it’s mandatory to own AT LEAST one car per person 🙂

  28. Thanks so much for the mention, Janis. Delighted to hear that you took my copyright advice. While it won’t stop all thieves, it will make other thieves think twice. And for those who say it won’t make any difference, I’ve had at least six blogs taken down by the host for copyright infringement.

    Great to see that you met up with Terri. I hear the meeting was a great success. I’ve been fortunate to have met many bloggers in person over the years I’ve blogged. They were amazing meets.

    As somebody in the process of looking at electric cars, I’ll look forward to hearing all about your experience with electric. I currently drive a petrol/hybrid vehicle, and I get a lot of satisfaction knowing I’ve hardly used any fuel and cut my Co2 carbon footprint.

    1. Terri was the first blogger I met, maybe five or six years ago, and we’ve maintained our friendship over the years. I am always happy when she visits her hometown because I often have the opportunity to see her.

      I am fortunate to live in an area/state that has great EV infrastructure, but I hardly ever use it because my home charger gives me plenty of juice for my day-to-day driving. The little trips we’ve taken that required at least one non-in-home charge went pretty smoothly. This longer trip will take a bit more planning. I’m looking forward to reporting back!

      Thanks again for your advice on copyrighting our posts… and all the other great advice you share!

    1. California does have great charging infrastructure (and we have a lot of EVs). I looked on EVtripplanner.com and saw that Minnesota had decent coverage. With 250 – 350 mile range between charges, I don’t think you’d run out of juice. Many people who have EVs (great for about town with an in-home charger), also have a gas or hybrid car for longer trips.

  29. Nice to see you back Janis. Contractors and construction can be such a pain sometimes. I am like you and go thru each comment thinking a legitimate comment got snagged in the SPAM filter. That is a good suggestion by Terri and I never thought of doing that as most of my SPAM comments are on old posts or on my About page. Here in SE Michigan, in close proximity to the Motor City, I wonder just how popular EVs will become down the road. At least you are prepared for when no more gas-powered vehicles will be allowed in California. I have heard of the maps of EV vehicle power stations – hope it makes it easy for you to navigate around and I’ll look forward to reading about your trip.

    1. Since we did the deck construction ourselves, we didn’t have to deal with contractors, thank goodness (but it took more time because we couldn’t work on it all day).

      As more and more American car manufacturers add electric vehicles to their lines, they will probably become more welcome in your area. I also like how the new incentives are tied to US production. Tesla has a great ap (both in-car and on hand-held devices) to help trip planning and we also use EVtripplanner.com to find charging locations. I think it will get easier and easier as time goes on.

      1. I think I heard about the EVtripplanner site Janis as we have an auto beat reporter on the all-news radio station I listen to and he was promoting it. He regularly does test drives. Our big auto show will be in a few weeks – they have not had a full-sized auto show since 2019 and that is a big deal here in the Motor City. It is the first time they are holding it in the Fall. A lot of out-of-town and international journalists claimed the mid-January date brought a lot of snow and ice, so now they’re trying something new to help accommodate them.

        EVs will be a hot commodity, especially the Ford Lightening that can power a home like a generator.

        Hope you were not affected by that earthquake earlier today?

          1. Well yay for the rain. Yes I saw about the earthquake on Twitter yesterday. It did not last long and was centered between LA and Long Beach, a 3.6 magnitude quake.

  30. Can’t wait to hear about your driving trip. Welcome back to writing. I’m afraid I’ve become a bit of a slacker myself and I can only say it’s become less of a priority. But I do still enjoy it when I sit down to write.

    1. Blogging should never be a chore. I’d much rather follow a blogger who blogged when they had something interesting to say rather than someone who just writes “stuff” because they feel they need to fill up space. I always enjoy seeing a post from you in my inbox but enjoy your other priorities too.

  31. It’s good to have you back Janis. It sounds like you’ve been busy. I am looking forward to hearing about your trip in the EV. My husband and I have wondered about how that would work…how many chargers are available, how long you’d have to wait for the battery to charge, and what one does to occupy their time while waiting. Best of luck and I will be eagerly awaiting your update.

  32. So nice to see you post again, Janis. I love Terri’s idea of turning off comments after 120 days. I get thousands of spam comments, so I can’t check them. I know that some gems are getting lost, but didn’t know what to do about it. Thanks for passing on the tip. And I look forward to hearing about your EV trip. I’m definitely curious about how it worked since one of those cars may be in our future. Happy Travels!

    1. I’m glad so many people are at least considering getting an EV. They aren’t for everyone, in every situation, but I love mine for my daily (well, maybe not actually “daily” now that I’m retired 🙂 ) driving. We’ll see how we do on a longer road trip (especially during our current heat wave).

  33. Enjoyed seeing the new deck! We stalled on our home construction due to costs this past year. Next year is all about construction for us…and definitely not a 50/50 split in effort here either. Looking forward to your road trip posts. We’re on the road so much I get short sighted in my little bubble so it’s nice to read about others traveling adventures.

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