Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dereliction Of Duty or A Stain On My Record

   I failed in my duty to make an entry for two weeks. No Excuse.  Well, yes... of course I have an excuse, just not a good reason. Still, the new stuff is to a minimum.
   We have begun prepping the basement (AKA Mancave) to stain the concrete. The original concrete job was one of the few nightmares of this project. Three guys showed up. One was so hungover he couldn't function and wound up crawling back in his truck to sleep it off. The other two guys made a mess of the surface. Ed spent hours and hours trying to make the surface acceptable for the staining project. It doesn't have to be perfect. It is after all...a cave. So it went like this:
Sand, shop vac, sand, shop vac, sand, shop vac, sand, shopvac, sand, shopvac, sand,shopvac,sand,shopvac,sandshopvacsandshopvacsandshopvacsndshpvcsndshovc.
   Like that. For hours. And days. Very boring work.
   We also did a patch test in an area that will be covered by cabinets. This is an acid stain. After it is stained, we will neutralize the acid, mop it a gazillion times, put sealer over it, then give it a coat of wax. We went with  a color that is more brown than terra cotta. Some were very orange, and one was green. Staining the floor will be Tuesday's project, so it should be done by next week.

   We had some dear friends visit the first of the week. Ed worked very hard to get the bathroom  mirrors installed before they got here, but we ran into a little glitch. The light fixtures are centered on the wall, but the darned sinks aren't. Do we center the mirror on the wall, or do we center the mirror to the sink? The mirrors are beautifully made, but Ed will probably re-make mirrors.

This time of year is definitely a time of change. The day can be warm, evenings are cool, the next day it may  rain. Monday morning I drove into town for a few errands. As I drove east along the river, the clouds seem to kiss the edge. It was as if Narcissus had just discovered his own beauty, and couldn't help but to reach out to touch his own glorious reflection.

Later in the afternoon, as I was coming home, I was gifted with a completely different view. The big leaf maples were the color of amber, while smaller maples had touches of henna. Vine maples were a riot of hues, all against a varied backdrop of greens. It is a beautiful time of year and I enjoy it. Winter is just around the corner.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sprain And Fall or Stop Stairing

    Yes, I know. You think I mistyped and it should be Spring And Fall. Nope. This week was injury week. This job has been remarkably injury free, and although the bruises we have are relatively harmless, they hurt like the dickens.
   Monday Ed was driving the Gator up the tractor road and caught the wheel in a rut, which wrenched the steering wheel suddenly to the left. Unfortunately his thumb and forefinger were in the way, and he got a very nasty sprain to his right hand. It's been almost a week and it's still very swollen and sore.
   Thursday I was coming down the wood apartment stairs. They were wet, with a bit of algae...a dangerous combination. My feet went one way and I went the other. Fortunately, I landed on my most padded part. I'll spare you the pictures, but the bruises are spectacular.
   Needless to say, we've been taking it easy the rest of the week. We drove into town for supplies and a few appointments. The weather has cooperated with lovely days and cool nights, so we've taken several walks down by the creek. By yesterday we were back at the projects.
   We did get several things checked off the "To Do" list. Ed adjusted the propane on the oven. We may have to send off the thermostat to be rebuilt, but at least it's usable. I ordered backsplash tile. We picked up the cement sander but haven't started with that yet because we stained and varnished the stair rail pieces yesterday.
    For the record, I did not slop stain over these like a kindergartner with finger paint.  I was surprised how unevenly the maple took the stain. And yes, I used prestain wood treatment. It's a good thing the acacia floors have such a varied color pattern. Maybe the stair rail pieces will blend in...sort of like camouflage.  We'll give them a good sanding and another coat of varnish this afternoon.
   Ed has also been working on frames for the bathroom mirrors. They will match the trim on the interior doors and windows. We ordered the mirror glass this week, and by next weekend, barring any new injuries, we should have them installed.
   I've also been designing stained glass for the front door transom and sidelights. I love working with glass, and it feels good to be back at it. The transom will have an eagle bevel cluster, with the Columbia River and mountains in the background.
   Ed is hoping to get the basement floors sanded in preparation for staining while the weather is good. We'll have to keep the roll-up door open during that project to vent dust and fumes. It'll be a race with the weather. We've had a beautiful autumn so far, but it's due to change...any minute.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tiger And Wood

     House construction has taken a back seat to winter preparation for the last two weeks. Winter is plodding steadily toward us and will be here in earnest by the first of November.
     We had quite a lot of wood left over from last winter stacked and dry down by the barn. all of that wood, spiders and all, was moved into the basement for this year's fires. Six rows deep, it totaled about three cords. My guess is we'll use two. We'll see. The house is a lot bigger and we have two fireplaces.
    In any event, after all the wood was stacked in the basement, Ed needed to get the TV cable ready for the satellite TV guy to come out and install the dish. He had to climb on top of the woodpile and six rows back to hook the outside cable to the inside cable. He had a special tool for crimping the connectors together...nothing else will work.
    Now I'm upstairs at the computer when I heard a lot of banging and clanging, and I thought "Gee...I thought that crimping tool was going to make it easy. He's sure having a tough time hammering that thing together." The banging continues.
    Several minutes later, Ed comes up out of the basement. "Didn't you hear me calling you?"
   " I heard some pounding but I just assumed you were working down there"  I said.
   "I was yelling and pounding on the ceiling for you to come help me."
   Oops. He had dropped the crimping tool down the back of one of the stacks and needed a flashlight.  I'm just glad he wasn't hurt and yelling for help because I would have never heard him.
    Now that all the old wood is up into the basement , Ed has been splitting all the wood left over from the creek restoration project for future winters. The creek restoration required one existing alder to be removed. Part of an old big leaf maple had fallen down and had been dragged out of the way, plus there were some large cut-off pieces of douglas fir that were discards. Wood's wood. Ed hooked the log splitter up to the tractor and went to work. Day after drizzly day, Ed has been cutting the logs into 12" rounds, dead-lifting the rounds up into the splitter. When the wood is split, it gets piled into the Gator, driven up to the barn and then stacked at the side of the barn to dry for next year. See those logs? I don't know how much a 12" round off of one of those things weighs, but my guess is after you've lifted those all day, you probably can skip a trip to the gym.
    Ed gets frustrated because he's been pulled by time-driven chores like the wood cutting, and not been able to work on the house. He was working so intensely on the house for so long, then pulled away by the need to cut the wood before winter. Now he feels the pressure of unfinished projects inside the house.

Small Items: 

1. Adjust oven on the old stove. The propane to oxygen balance is incorrect, and there is too much moisture      
    coming off the heat to use the oven.
2. Hang drapery rods in bedrooms. We don't need them but guests feel a bit exposed.
3. Stain stair rail parts..ballisters, rail, newel posts. I'm looking forward to this one.
4. Hook up spa tub.
5. Order and install backsplash tile. This is my job and I just haven't done it.
6. Sand basement floor in preparation for staining the concrete.

Big Items:

1. Shingle the columns.
2. Re-grade part of the back yard, install retaining wall so he can
3. Build back porch stairs.
4. Install upstairs balcony glass rail.
5. Install porch rails.
6. Pour cement between house and garage.
7. Rebuild stairs to apartment to meet code.
8. Get the final on the permit.

     I use the terms "small" and "big" loosely. They would actually be "big" and "humongous" if most people were doing them. Ed always makes them look so easy.
    In the evenings we have been preoccupied with pets. We have a new cat, Tiger, who lives on the porch at night. Our other male cat, Midnight, is definitely top cat. Once Midnight goes into the garage for the night, Tiger appears on the porch for dinner and some attention. He's not a feral cat, but he's not a tame one either. It's taken several weeks to get him to the point where he will let us pet him and pick him up. He's only about 6 months old and trainable. We managed to get him to the vet last week for his shots and a tune-up. After re-establishing trust for the last several days, we  were able to coax him into the house. He doesn't seem to be concerned with Abby, the dog. Kendra, our geriatric house cat is afraid and hides. Tiger scoped out the living room and then tried out the furniture. It was a perfect fit. But he only stayed there for a minute, then had to run for the open door to make sure he wasn't trapped. He's a funny boy. We're hoping he and Kendra can work out a deal where Tiger can sleep inside out of the cold.