Sunday, May 31, 2009


Corkscrew. In Italian. To answer a question from a party last night. I was half-right - I thought that 'open' must factor into the definition of that pasta type, but I was wrong about that part. It simply means 'corkscrew'. Duh. What the hell would an 'open corkscrew' be anyways? My Latin has really gone downhill since high school.

Further, the Italian translator notes that it is a noun, and "Masculine", "Invariable". Really fitting for this weekend, oddly enough.

Old (yes, we're officially getting old), dear friend Nick visited on his latest adventure route that ranges far enough north to bring him to the Bungalow. And, old, dear friend Dave sent along bagels from Nick's stop in the greater NY area - a reminder of the days when we all had NY bagels at our fingertips anytime, everywhere. [Little wistful smile]. And as always, time spent with old, dear friends seems like picking up right where you left off, despite the wide-ranging paths we've all taken.

"Masculine, invariable" - you guys rock! Grazie mille!

Sadly, it's dark & rainy already or I'd include a photo of the fence - completed! - which Nick helped us finish this morning. Tomorrow the weather will be fine...perfect for his first solo day in the great state of Maine.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


We made a lot of progress on the fence-pergola complex that will give us some privacy from the street, stretching from just behind the porch to the hedge. If and when it stops raining, we will finish the other section of fence for the hedge side. It's slow work - our first fence and we're using the antique Shopsmith for most of it - or doing things by hand. Then, a garden shed will fill one of the pergola sections, and the other will remain open. Better get to work on the shed design, soon...

Before: view from street. Anyone walking by can peep at us in the hammock, in the garden, watch Eddy do his business, etc.

After: one side is private, now. Take that, Google Maps street view!

Look up: love that oversized construction. Waiting for more blue sky to finish.

Friday, May 22, 2009


What are those ten plagues again? Locusts and frogs and boils and slaying of the first born? We've got a couple of 'em going on!

I was out spreading mulch and suddenly something jumped - I grabbed him and ran to the door to call Ken, who is so cool to come see all the stupid, kooky things I find. He took photos of this little peeper.

Plague 1 wasn't so bad - I happen to really dig frogs, and spring peepers rock. Though this one picked a pretty urban spot to hang out in, silly guy. I hope he makes it.

Our neighbors found ants (carpenter ants, grr) in their woodpile, and at 10 pm last night, we were outside with a flashlight smushing ants as they tried to lay a pheromone trail to the house. Today we had a preventative treatment (very green natural stuff they used) and the guy said they didn't infest, so we caught it in time.

Plague 2 averted, fingers crossed.

We should also note that our neighbor pointed out a dug-out hole into our garage (Mr. Squirrel!) which covers the "wild animals" plague, and we definitely were swatting no-see-ums all dar (gnats). Plus Ken swears it was a locust crashing into the bathroom screen last night, not a June bug. So that's five plagues? Eek.

Our next task is the parting of the Green Lawn. We started on the fence-pergola combo that will give us some privacy and help define our outdoor rooms, in designer-y lingo. We laid out all the cedar today (we got it all last year in a lot with the deck wood), remembered the design, labeled everything, and got set to start pouring footings tomorrow.

We're hoping to get a bunch of it done over the long weekend. Hopefully without much blood, pestilence, or hail.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring fever

We're gearing up for bigger summer projects, but for now, we've been catching up on sleep, catching up with the family, and hanging out with Eddy (who's hanging in there despite some chronic issues).

Luckily, he's a great lawnmower.

Otherwise, just a bunch of weeding and mulching to report. We did get a delivery of quikrete today (paid the extra buck to have it delivered by the local guys rather than wrecking our new alignment & making several big box trips) - so we'll be starting on the fence SOON. This week? The landscaping books are strewn all over the dining room table, so something's definitely happening soon...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Getting all Roy about it

I found a pair of old oak folding chairs for a good price, and they needed just a little work. They're really small, so I grabbed them thinking they would be good for the re-finished desk. You know, so I wouldn't become an A-hole smacking my chair into the Kneehole and doing it more damage. The chairs are tapered in front and fit beautifully.

Neither needed refinishing (thank goodness), just a quick polish with beeswax. One needed a new rung - simple enough. So I bought an oak dowel (the guy at the hardware store had no clue what the dowels were made of, so I poked through the racks till I recognized the grain). I picked out the remnants of the old dowel, and cut the new one to length. Now, I just needed to make the ends into tenons by removing some material.

Despite the fact that we have two perfectly-functional wood lathes, I decided to go all Roy Underhill on it, rather than use power tools. You know Roy, right? The guy on PBS who makes everything - EVERYTHING - by hand? Who has the world's sharpest tools and the world's greatest patience? I figured it would be quick to just make a shoulder by running the chisel around, then cut out extra material, then rasp & sand to finish it up. Yeah, right. An hour later, I had two mortises - they worked out just fine but it's always amazing how long it takes to do things the old-fashioned way. [CAB - thanks for the bowl - it's in the background. It's great in the dining room!]

It made me think of this article, which I saw earlier in the week, about how renewing old homes is a green practice. After a Roy experience, you also realize just how much went into every single little bit of a house, a piece of furniture, any little old thing. Does that realization also make you less likely to throw things away or discard old, broken stuff? I wonder...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Vote for Pedro!

We entered the Rejuvenation Make Your Home Your Own contest. The prize? $1000 gift certificate. Oooh, Harmon Mailbox, could we be so decadent? Or we could get cabinet hardware forever with that kind of cash. Not to mention the lighting...yummy.

Anyways, all the entries are great - but we encourage you, our readers, to go vote for the underdog. You know, the people with no budget, no contractors, no professional, staged photographs (I mean, who has time for that? Note that there's crumpled up packing material in our dining room photo - oops!), and the little, neglected house-that-could.

If you want, we'll even do the Napoleon-Jamiroquai dance (we're not posting video, you'll just have to use your imagination). Or, we can make you little gimp keychains. No, just kidding, none of that. Just vote! Here's the link to our entry:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Paper Ceilings

Ken got this email from a co-worker. It helps explain why we had (past tense!!!) all the paper ceilings in the house:

Are you, by chance, one of the people renovating the Bangor Bungalow?

If so, if you didn’t know, here’s the scoop on paper ceilings: when Dow AFB [Air Force Base] was active, the vibration from the flight activity cracked plaster ceilings and chimneys. I live on [nearby street name deleted] where most of the houses were built in the 50s, and you’ll see that most houses over there have central, and fairly squat, chimneys. And we ALL have paper ceilings. Now that the AFB is an ANG [Air National Guard] base, and BGR has just a handful of commercial flights a day, it’s probably not as big an issue.

BGR is our local international airport, perhaps most famous now as being the one where they take unruly passengers just before crossing the pond - we're the easternmost airport with a really big runway, so if you misbehave like these folks, or these, or these, you'll end up down the street in our jail.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Almost furnished

Ken rescued this dear little desk from a dumpster about 3 years ago. Since then, it's lived in the dining room, then the study - just waiting to be re-finished. This is the desk where I finished my dissertation, and have usually posted to this blog. It's a great, sturdy, solid little bugger with good proportion. I temporarily replaced the round knobs with these unfinished pyramid oak ones we had kicking around - not very visually satisfying.

This weekend the weather was decent and I was wanting to get the desk finished up and back in the study, so I can have my little workstation all ready for summer. So, I sanded it clean (it's a factory-type piece, not a handmade, Stickley-type piece, so I decided it was OK to go at it). The old chipped urethane (?) came flying right off.

Today I finished sanding, smoothed it down, and hit it with some "Early American" stain. I wanted a medium-oaky color; I'm sure this desk is maple, and often the "Red Oak" stain will make wood that's not oak look too pink. Early American was perfect - just what I wanted. The desk looks pretty good. You can still see where some A-hole smashed their chair into the knee-hole repeatedly, but it's not so obvious. I'll try to be more careful than the previous owner.

Then I starting looking at the knobs - pyramid just wasn't right. I hopped on the ol' internet to see what Gus Stickley would have done - and he (and brothers L & JG) most often used round wood knobs, or sometimes pulls, on these desks. Unbelievably, I remembered where I had put the knobs I took off the desk, sanded them up, and we'll be ready for some coats of oil tomorrow after work.
Also, Ed & I spent a good bit of time surveying the garden and the weed situation. (Already!)
The good news is that flowers are starting to pop up everywhere. We should have lilacs next week, and one of my all-time favorites - these little white violets that I dug out of the lawn our first summer - are blooming all over.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Third bathroom

For several reasons, the catbox is in the study. Dog owners, you know the importance of being able to barricade the dog from the catbox - and we have a gate on the study door. So now that the study is all spiffed up, we needed to do something about the huge, pearlescent-blue (and decidedly un-bungalow) catbox.

We looked at these fancy dealies - but they were out of our price range.

So I took a stroll to the antique store, armed with possible measurements, looking for any large vessel I could make into a cat enclosure.

Bingo - found this little treasure, and I got an extra discount, so it cost all of $12.50.

I didn't know what it was till I read the label & opened the top...

Can you imagine? Solid oak coolers? Or cooler-covers? Damn, this thing was cool (pun not intended). And exactly the right size, if I flipped it upside down...

So, this week we finally cut the little door, sanded it, and gave it a couple of coats (inside & out) of stain-urethane.

Voila, a catbox fit for a Stickley cat. We're waiting (with fingers crossed) for someone to christen it...