Sunday, April 22, 2012

Theresa Gets Groutchy

   Poor Tiger. After escaping from his new home, he was alone and living in the woods for over two weeks. With some help from a very nice family who worked as "Tiger Spotters" we were able to find him and bring him home. Midnight and Mittens aren't particularly thrilled with his return though. In fact, Midnight goes out looking for a fight every day. Yesterday, after two particularly bad screaming matches, Ed looked out to find them less than two feet from each other. As far as we can tell, Tiger was completely submissive, but wouldn't leave. Midnight didn't really want to fight, but couldn't back down. It was Panther And Lion On The Savannah. They stayed motionless for over an hour before Midnight finally decided it was time for a snack and sauntered toward the house.
   Ed has been working on that To Do list. He finished the backboard for the bathroom lights so he could center the lights without having to rip out sheet rock and rewire the wall. I like it. It ties in with the door and window trim and the mirror frames.
   And look at that snazzy backsplash! I finally put the backsplash tile in the guest bathrooms.  In fact I like this tiles so much I may rip out the backsplash in our upstairs bedroom and replace it with this. It goes beautifully with the granite.
   The downstairs guest room got the same treatment. I had an awful time with the angles on the pencil bullnose. I don't have a mathematical, technically visual brain. I thought I had it right, cut the bullnose on the tile saw, brought the piece in. It was a perfect 45* cut, but on the wrong side of the piece. I did that three times in a row! It was a "don't talk to me" afternoon. I finally managed to figure it out. Now all they need is grout.

   Yesterday the weather was beautiful, so I decided to grout. And I had a ton of it to do. The craft room backsplash, the spa tub tile and backsplash, and the two guest bathroom backsplashes.
   Last year when I grouted the fireplace surrounds, Elicia was here to run buckets of fresh water for me. This time I was on my own.
    I started with the craft room backsplash. There wasn't much to do, the grout was a light cream color, and I didn't have to bend down or reach much. It was a piece of cake.
    Then I moved on to the spa tub backsplash. It was like I'd stepped into the Twilight Zone. The grout was Charcoal. The slate tile mosaic is uneven. I had to get fresh buckets of water twice as often, step in and out of the tub and reach everywhere. It wasn't much fun. I wore gloves to apply the grout, but gave up during the wipe-down phase. By the time I was done, my hands looked like I was a 20 year diesel mechanic.  I tried Boraxo. I tried bleach and a scrub brush. They still look horrible.  The good news is, I like how the black grout looks with the slate. The bad news is, I'll probably use the same color grout on the guest bath backsplashes.
    Ed has been working to get the stairs to the basement aka ManCave completed. He is using spruce lumber from a tree that fell on our property some years ago. He planed the rough lumber, cut a bullnose on the stair treads, made risers and boards for the landing. They all had to be sanded, brushed with a pre-treatment, stained and varnished. Some days were so cold that he couldn't use the varnish until the temperature got above 50*, which is always an iffy proposition around here.
    Yesterday the weather was beautiful, he threw open the bay door to the basement, moved his tools to the basement door and started to install the stairs.
   In spite of several interruptions (cats fighting, lunch, wife swearing profusely at grout) he got in six stairs and risers and the landing. Only 10 more to go.  After they're all in, they will get several more finish coats. Then he'll put up the handrail and the stairs will be complete.

   He's also been working on a Craftsman style oak frame for an embroidery piece I did for the dining room. Embroidery isn't one of my major talents, but the sentiment is heartfelt.  
   I like the MacKintosh roses. In fact, I decided to make a companion stained glass piece for the transom over the dining room french door, just to the right of this wall.
   I got sidetracked (cat fights, lunch, grout) yesterday, then ran out of clear glass, but I expect to have it done by the end of the week.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Late Onset Building Burnout

    We have both been suffering from a bad case of Late Onset Building Burnout, or LOBB. On our way back from vacation last week we realized that the best way to stay on track was to make a list. What you can see is that Ed's list is much longer than mine. What you can't see is that there is a second page to go along with the first. The weather is improving, we're feeling refreshed, and the list won't do itself.

   There was a slight miscalculation in setting the vanity lights in the bedrooms. We centered the electrical boxes in the wall above where the vanities would go, the sheet rock guys came and went, and we very carefully painted the colors of our choice in each bathroom. Unfortunately the vanity cabinets had a sink and cabinet to one side, drawers on the other. Under the heading of "Things you don't think about until it's done." ...when it was all together we's not symmetrical. If the mirror was centered on the wall under the lights, it was off-center to the sink. If it was centered on the sink, it was off with the lights. At first Ed wanted to move the light, but that would mean ripping out sheet rock, changing the location of the box  and repainting the whole room.                  
      In the upstairs bathrooms we will be able to adjust the existing fixtures. But in the downstairs bathroom, we decided to just find a different light fixture with a larger back plate.   Now instead of matching the faucets, the light matches the doorknobs  and cabinet hardware. I can live with that. Everything is symmetrical and the world can continue to rotate on it's proper axis.

   The bathrooms are still patiently waiting for backsplashes. That would be my job. I don't know why I stalled out. It's not hard to do, and I actually enjoy it. The grouting...not so much. When I tiled the fireplaces, Elicia was here to run buckets of fresh water for me. That's the hardest part. I
  I started with the craft room bath. This one has the jetted tub. Silly me, if I'd tiled this months ago we could have been using this tub to soak away sore muscles. Somehow it just kept getting put off.
   Ed had to cut down the cabinet face for the tub. The tile is down, and I'll seal the slate before grouting. I guess it wouldn't be practical to fly Elicia up for a weekend just to make her hustle buckets of water for me.
   I have two more bathrooms that need backsplashes. Those are easy and quick to do. Then I start the grout.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring Training or Intermittent Showers

   Finally the frantic relay race between weather and house project is just about won. We are at the point that Ed feels comfortable taking some time off. My daughter's friends were having a baby shower for Ellen and I was excited to be able to go. Mark, our neighbor, petsat for us. Poor guy...I left three pages of instructions detailing every animal nuance known to man. The dog, the cats, chickens, and hummingbirds, all their personality quirks and eating habits, carefully defined. Eventually I let go and we headed south.
  March here has been a mix of snow and sleet, and I was  looking forward to that famous California weather. The morning we headed out, the weather report called for more snow. Somehow, we dodged all of the big storms. The Siskyou Pass was a concern, but there were no problems and the roads were clear all the way.
  We were able to watch Elicia play softball.  Dugout chatter flowed freely, parents cheered from the bleachers. At this age group, it's more about the sport, less about winning. The girls were having a good time.  Girl's softball has a lot more rules than regular baseball. Most of them are designed to keep the kids safe (slide into home plate), or to keep the game moving. There are a lot of stolen bases and ovethrows. Overachieving parents should plan to stay home.
   By the way, sliding into home plate is something I have never done. Deliberately throwing oneself onto the ground takes concentration. Elicia made it look easy.
    Baby Shower Day finally came.  Ellen tried to warn me that it might be a little crowded. Keep in mind, I live in the country with one other person and a few the end of the road.  It's very quiet.
   There had to be 50 women and some associated small children. It was a little noisy.
    There was a ton of wonderful food, a beautiful cake (which I forgot to take a photo of) and a generous pile of gifts. The very best part is, my sister, niece, two daughters and granddaughter were all there. I couldn't have asked for more.
    I made a quilt for my grandson. It is impossible to embroider and hand quilt something like this and not think about the person it's being made for. The stitches sew together hope and love. They bind in dreams, tie in strength. I could not help but see all the women before me who sewed tiny garments for their grandchildren. Each little stitch bound their lives together. My mother's mother, my father's grandmother, all held these moments of anticipation close to their hearts.

   The next week, we headed to the Sierra foothills to visit my sister and brother-in-law. Their home is set in the pines above Jackson, and has a beautiful view. But my favorite is the garden surrounding the house. It is a garden that invites puttering, which I love.
   As a last stop before coming home, we spent a few days with my in-laws. Thursday we were all out and about, when Pop announced that we were having dinner at a Tapas bar. We were sitting in the back seat of the car and Ed had a funny look on his face. As we approached the entrance to the restaurant, Ed laughed.   "Tapas bar....I thought you said 'topless bar'. "
 In spite of the lack of entertainment, the food was wonderful.
   Friday we headed home. Somehow we had managed to accumulate a whole pickup truck full of stuff.
   "I thought we were supposed to take stuff to the kids, not bring stuff home with us." Ed mused.
   1. One popcorn machine.
   2. Two recliner chairs.
   3. A stereo.
   4. A salvaged window.
     The popcorn machine and recliners are destined for the theater room. The stereo was Mom and Dad's and will go in the gym.
     The window was a large picture window that came out of a remodel tat Dan was doing. It was headed for the landfill, and Dan casually said "That would be great for a greenhouse. Want it?"
    Am I my mother's daughter?
    So Dan sawed it in half and put it in the truck. The greenhouse won't be up and running this summer, but by  next spring, Ed will be looking for a project.