Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fall rain

Rain, rain, rain. We had a regular old rainstorm followed immediately by hurricane Kyle. What a stupid name for a hurricane. What's next, hurricane Tyler or Cody? Hurricane Brianna or Morgan? Not sure I dig hip 1990s baby names for hurricanes. No major work on the deck, though we did get the boards for the bottom step and got them on during a brief break in the rain on Friday. No photos - sorry!

Then Saturday it mostly drizzled, so we got out the rubber boots and slogged to the garden to do some harvesting - fall is coming along quick and we didn't want to lose the last bunch of good stuff we grew. Ken picked his garlic, and it was a little weird this year - the varieties we grew didn't seem to set good heads - possibly we also missed cutting several scapes after the chaos of returning from Colorado. Anyways, we got quite a lot of cloves and since they weren't the right style for drying, he put a bunch in oil in the fridge and in the freezer. We had some on a pizza today -yum!

Also, we picked all the grapes from the new & improved arbor. Last year I had to do a probably very strange looking dance, holding the vines up, getting underneath, and picking through for all the grapes. I'm sure I looked like a psycho basically wearing vines and thrashing around. Much better this year. Because of the rain, my work got cancelled for today, so we actually had time to make the grape jelly! And didn't stain the entire kitchen. A shout out for Ben Moore's impervo oil-based paint for cabinets - even though I splashed grape juice on them, it wiped right off - even though the paint is white. Nice!

Finally, peppers - hot & sweet. We also made a batch of hot pepper jelly and then froze a whole bunch for later. We grew jalapenos & Anaheim chilis , which ought to make some rockin' chili rellenos later this winter.

Then we put up the rest of the mudroom ceiling trim and caulked in a lot of the holes/gaps - ran out of caulk so we'll be finishing that another day. Almost done, though.

Phew! Seemed like we only did a few little things, but I guess it was a lot & we're pretty tired. Good thing the next item on tonight's list is the Simpsons & Family Guy premiers - time to put the ol' feet up.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ring of daisies

Today's the day I do my weekly one-woman performance entitled: "I'm supposed to be using up vacation time but have too much work to do". It goes something like this:

Curtain rises. Wake up. No alarm clock (Ken has only a late class to teach on Fridays). Put on orange lounge pants (meaning, OK to be seen in the yard/walking dog with, but that's about it) and comfy shirt. Eddy goes outside. Someone makes coffee. Ken exits stage left.

The woman makes a list of things to do today. The list is optimistic, more things than could be done in a whole weekend. Drinks coffee. Takes dog out again. Surveys yard. Goes back inside.

Then begins a series of activities, something like: checks email; throws in laundry; works on report; works in yard; makes couple calls; checks email again; puts up trim or paints something; lunch; works on computer; walks dog...etc.

So today, the first act of the play was Divide and Plant Daisies.

Our landscaping plan was, of course, pie in the sky - there were something like a hundred daisies shown on it. Clearly out of our budget. We already had 2 daisy plants going strong from the first summer we were here, and Mom gave us a few bucks which, together with our coupons from the greenhouse, bought two giant daisies.

Why all the daisies, one might ask? I love 'em. Love them, love them, love them. Daisies are awesome. They are very cold hardy, look great cut, and are just so happy. My great grandmother's name was Daisy. And Ken once took this amazing photo for me, when he was working out by the forest roads downeast, of daisies along the dirt road with a blue sky and clouds. I don't have it here, but I'll add it later...

Unfortunately, we couldn't split them up when we got them - it was too hot. So all the daisies have been sitting in the ground in a big ol' clump waiting for cooler weather. Well, here it is.

So this morning after the email check and coffee, Eddy & I went out & split daisies. Would you believe, we got about 30 plants out of those 4? They were very cooperative and just came right apart for us. Deadheaded them, weeded a bit (oh boy, are we behind on that!) and now we have a ring o' daisies to look at from the patio-deck complex. Hopefully everyone will make it through the winter.

We also got in touch with the cedar lumber guy, so later we can go pick up the last couple boards we need for the steps - then Eddy can stop being so worried about the temporary steps falling off when he stands on them. He's such a worrywart!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today's poem

Is perfect. Especially following all our hunts for timberloks (versus lag bolts), cone head nails for tin ceiling (nobody at any hardware store knows that one), and pig's ear railing stock.

You all know what this poet is talking about.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

We have stairs! Almost...

I'm back. After a long trip with a lot of sitting and meeting, I can never wait to get my hands dirty again. Even waiting for Eddy to pee in the chilly air this morning - pre-coffee - I had to at least pull some weeds!

Ken did an awesome job grouting the hearth - we're always amazed how much of a difference it makes, every time. He had it done, plus he had re-sanded the brick patio joints - by the time I got home. What a dear.

So today we headed out to the ol' deck. After sleeping late, of course. The goal was to make some forward progress on the main steps - not the sweeping steps for lazy days of gardening and parting, but the business end of the deck: where we enter & leave every day, groceries, dog, and work bags in arms.

We were all prepared to cut stringers (had to go get more lumber), then I re-measured and realized we could use pre-cut, standard issue stringers if we bit the bullet and gave ourselves 4 instead of 3 stairs. It was probably a good idea to go to 4 anyways, so they wouldn't be too steep. So off the the store for pre-cut stringers. That little cheat saved us at least half a day, and some really irritating cutting.

We zipped them right on, decked & fascia-ed the steps, then put on the decking in that last area and cut it cleanly - finally. We all have been missing our footing with a jagged-toothed edge on the deck.

Of course the day had its drama - as we dug a ditch for gravel to set the stair footer on, we realized we had to pull up the old, tarred-over concrete pavers that were once a probably very nice walkway. Hea-vy. Ugh. Why do people slap sticky tar on nice old concrete? Concrete is perfectly lovely, especially with little lines of grass or moss coming up in between. Ah well, we'll re-purpose the big concrete pads somewhere. And, we found a few old buried bricks - we think there was probably a very nice old set of brick steps for the original back entry. Bummer those are gone too, but we can use the bricks to fill in a small spot in the patio-deck transition zone.

The toughest part was another cheat - even though we had mocked everything up and supposedly wouldn't end up having to have any skinny boards, by the time we got to the end, suddenly we were off. We re-checked options like adding a snow grate (waaay too expensive), adding a skinny board (won't look right), and putting diagonal boards in, but ended up making 2 slightly skinny boards with craftsman-esque cutouts. I am going to get some brass grid material to set down in them - we'll rout some rabbets - and we think they'll look pretty cool in the end. Plus, it gives us a design to repeat in the large planter that's going to eat up all our various mistakes.

Here comes Monday - we'll see what punch-list stuff we can cram in another action-packed week.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fabulous Syracuse

The weather is GORGEOUS! However, I'm not home to enjoy it - I'm away in Syracuse for a meeting. Luckily I'll be home tonight so we can possibly finish the deck tomorrow, and Ken is dutifully grouting the hearth as we anticipate getting the stove - well, sometime. And we have to be ready for it - the shop is so overbooked that they want the stove to get installed the minute they receive it! So good to be prepared - I don't think they want to wait around for grout to dry.

Anyways, the Syracuse area is chock-full of Craftsman and Bungalow-type amusements. Sadly, I didn't bother with a rental car, so I can only dream, but I did manage to take a cab over to Dalton's antiques right in town here - it was mission oak mecca! There was a narrow Gus Stickley drop front desk-bookshelf, loads of settles, Morris chairs, and Eastwoods that made me swoon, and all manner of antique pottery, lighting, table runners - plus a few new items like the wonderful table runner and pillow kits like some of these - sadly none fit on our dining room buffet, thanks to Ken for taking my kooky phone call asking him to quick! measure the buffet!

They also had some great fabric swatches - both from Archive Editions (we love their Hoffman!) and other companies - I picked a Hoffman-style print that they're checking on for me - it had too much blue in it for us! For that $16 rocker we got at the yard sale - the seat needs to be re-covered.

The owner is David Rudd, who writes the column in American Bungalow - "Perspective on Antiques" - where you can ask all sorts of questions about your vintage finds. I didn't realize that was who he was till I picked up a card - then I remembered his photo in the magazine and recognized the name. How cool - I got to chat with a real mission oak guru about a couple of chairs I found, and began to see if I could figure out if the seats are original. He suggested I send in photos - so I'll do that and maybe it'll appear in a future issue of AB. We also had a discussion about how collecting chairs is just so addictive. It's definitely my problem. I mean, how many people need to sit in our house at a time? Pretty soon we'll have seating for a hundred.

He also pointed out some Syracuse landmarks - where Stickley's house was in Syracuse, his route through town to go to his factory, etc. WOW - totally cool. The store was awesome, if I didn't mention it. There were some chairs in there that I'd be hard-pressed to lift up - even with my improved landscaping biceps - they were such heavy looking oak. You could just FEEL the craftsmanship everywhere. Awesome. And they had really great Dard Hunter Rose tissue paper and wrapping paper! I got a set of stationery that was really nice - perhaps for correspondence on my future Bangor Bungalows book (next summer's project).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Washout Sunday

We were sooo close to getting the rest of the decking on.

The plan for Sunday was to go to a brunch, then slip out a bit early to do some field work for the real job, then get back early enough to do the decking.

What happened was this: wake up, had 10 minutes to test using a cardboard template to cut the small-radius curve...(we just couldn't resist and we had time)...

...go to brunch, then head to the field site. We got almost all the way there before the 'chance of showers' the weather folks predicted had turned into waves of pouring rain you could hardly see through. So we had to abort the work mission. Luckily there was a Dunkin Donuts nearby (it is New England, after all), so we re-fueled on coffee (always extra yummy in the rain) and then decided on the way home - since it was still raining - to go to Lowes and get the remaining screws we needed, plus a couple little things.

Got home, changed into work clothes - still rain. Did a couple tiny punch list jobs in the bathroom and hall - still rain. We get it, Mother Nature. No decking today. Ah well.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I love this game!

Bungalow '23 posted a Wordle - and it's such a cool little toy. I just made one based on our last few posts.

Not surprisingly, we used 'need', 'get' and 'mudroom' a lot. I'm glad to see that we used 'think' a moderate amount. And 'saw' - lots of use, probably both as a noun and a verb.

Very cool - thanks for showing this, Bungalow '23. p.s., check out their AWESOME window latches. Jealous? I am...

I couldn't resist doing another - here's one of the greatest poems ever written:

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bend it like Beckham

A soccer-inspired title is the order of the week, with the US winning over Cuba.

We're bending stuff too - namely the fascia boards for the deck. We've been sneaking out in between things and doing bits of framing on the deck - which are all (but the small run of steps) finished now. So we moved on to bending some cedar to form the rounded shapes we need for the fascia. It rained, so augmented with more hose water, a bunch of clamps, ropes, and scrap lumber, and a respect for things under tension, we bent some wood last weekend.

This one was bent with a bunch of kerf cuts on the backside.

We managed to get the decking on the lower section of deck during an evening this week too (no pic yet). And this weekend, we have a whole day available (pending random catashtrophes), so hopefully we can make some serious progress.

Also, I bought a coping saw at Lowe's last weekend. $7.98. Nice.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Not coping well at all

We're fine - it's a bit of a home improvement pun.

For some completely idiotic reason, we don't own a coping saw. They only cost $10 max, but we just never remember that we need one, and haven't been so frustrated that we've bought one.

So every once in a while -like about 3 times since we've been working on the house - we need to cope some trim and we remember that we don't have a coping saw. We are so fortunate that almost all of the original trim in the house is intact - albeit slathered with layers of white, then pink, then white paint. So on those couple of occasions when I've had to cope a corner moulding, we've muddled through with an array of every-other-tool-that-cuts-that-I-can-get-my-hands-on.

No wonder, then, that when I went to install the mudroom trim the other evening, I had a forehead-slapping moment of 'geez, we STILL don't have a coping saw!'

Using a combination of big saw to cut off the corner, zona saw to start in on the curves as best I could, sharp small chisel to score the rest of the outline, and then big, flat sharp chisel and moulding laid upside down on the bench to scrape away and shape the curve. Then sandpaper - wonderful sandpaper - to make it look finished. Ridiculous, I tells ya. Thank goodness we only have simple mouldings or we'd be up the creek.

And do you think we'll actually go buy a coping saw? No, we won't remember, and I think this is probably the last trim we need to add. Famous last words, right?

By the way, I never understood the whole coping thing till I saw a segment about it on This Old House - then I was like, 'Oh, that's why (and how) you do it!' Tom Silva rocks, by the way. It really does look nicer than just mitering at 45 degree angles. I'm a believer.