So add messing with those in, and I've stretched the job out to September of 2014-- not counting refinishing.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
So add messing with those in, and I've stretched the job out to September of 2014-- not counting refinishing.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
One of these tics was the word "endeavor." She'd say it with a cultured drawl that delighted and enlived us, her students: "Now, class, we will all endeavor . . . " We'd make hash marks in the margins of our notebooks every time she said it and compare who'd noticed the most "endeavor"s in any given class period. She'd use the word every chance she got. She'd use it when it was the best word for the job and when it was not.
And when it was not, that was a forced endeavor.
Some people think the making of New Year's resolutions is a forced endeavor. Hey, just do what you were going to do, anyway, right?
But sometimes it's good to be forced to do things you really ought to do. Sometimes it's useful to be forced to sit down and think about what you really ought to do. And it's always a good and useful thing to get out there and endeavor. Meaning, try earnestly and boldly with full intent to succeed.
So in community with other housebloggers throughout the world, and with a mental memorial toast to the late, great Oodles Welch, in 2008
I will endeavor to finish stripping all the woodwork in the house that's going to be natural finish. This comprises the casings and baseboards in the dining room, living room, front room, stairhall, stairway, and second floor hall.
I will endeavor to refinish all said woodwork in the dining room and living room, including any contiguous cased opening trim in adjacent rooms.
I will endeavor to replace the existing cornice mouldings in the dining room and living room with something better-proportioned and more appropriate, and to suitably finish said replacements.
I will endeavor to strip and repaper the dining room and living room-- assuming, that is, that the dollar-to-pound exchange rate allows me to purchase the William Morris paper I've had my eye on the past four years.
I will endeavor to strip and refinish the wood stairs up to the 2nd floor and the wood second floor hallway floor.
I will endeavor to replace all the windows in the living room and dining room (as well as the leaky ones in the front bedroom and dressing room) with new custom-built, energy-efficient wood windows, whether I install them myself or hire the work out.
These are the big projects. For some middle-sized projects,
I will endeavor to come up with something to use for a broom closet on the 1st floor, either a between-the-studs built-in or a freestanding piece of casework.
I will endeavor to assemble and finish the bare wood shelf unit that's been sitting in pieces in the basement the last three years.
I will endeavor to scribe and install the trim for the ledge along the basement steps.
I will endeavor to design and build a grow light frame-- by late February-- and start garden seedlings indoors.
I will endeavor to prep and paint my Adirondack garden furniture so I can actually take it outdoors this year.
I will endeavor to remove the disgusting, paint-soaked carpet from the stairs to the 3nd floor, and decide what to do with the wood steps underneath.
Amid and among all this, I have what I call my "Little Dumb Things I Gotta Do" list. I will endeavor to deal with that in a separate post!
But I almost forgot the biggest 2008 Endeavor of all:
In 2008, I will endeavor to get a steady job so I can pay for all this. Otherwise, well . . .
Monday, January 14, 2008
In short, all my bedroom outlets were kaput.
I could not figure this out. How could an electrical overload in my basement affect the outlets in my second floor bedroom?
Well, it was too late to work it out now. I'd see what the electrician would say on the morrow.
This morning, I was happy to find that the furnace had been working all night-- no frozen delight in the toilet bowl! But there was water ponding across the basement floor-- courtesy of the non-functioning condensation pump.
That was not unexpected. What I didn't understand is why the first floor phone, which is plugged into an outlet in my living room, was getting no power. And the lamp that shares that recepticle wasn't working, either.
Huh? Did last night's electrical fry extend that much influence over the house's whole system?
Or could it be that-- oh, no, not again! I thought I'd solved all that two or three years ago!
"All that" refers to the circus that was POs'-1 idea of upgrading the electrical system in this house. Yes, they used code-approved wiring and connectors, but they joined and over-joined outlets, switches, and appliances all over the house on single circuits. For instance, all the kitchen appliances and the back porch lights were on one circuit and my POs had to have someone out to untangle it: I've got the invoice in my house file as testimony. Shortly after I moved in, I discovered (thanks to an overload), that just one circuit was carrying the 3rd floor outlets, an outlet in the guest bedroom, the outlets, microwave, and dishwasher in the kitchen, and the outlet in the basement bath.
I got an electrician in to rectify that. But now are you telling me that the basement lights, my bedroom outlets, and the living room outlets are all on one circuit, too? Is anybody really sure where anything from my panel box really goes?
Well. When the electrican sent by the home warranty company made his appearance around 1:30 PM, that's exactly what he did tell me. Not only that, but he showed me that my workshop and main basement lights are on the same circuit, too!
No idea how I managed to trip the circuit last night, but that's all it was-- I simply hadn't shoved the circuit breaker far enough over to turn it all the way off, then back on again.
And as for the initial outage-- that was due to a loose connection in-- well, let's just say the only source of power in my workshop is a screw-in recepticle in the pull-chain ceiling fixture, with the bulb screwed into that. From thence, an extension cord or two snakes down to a power strip, into which I'd plugged my worklight, my radio, and a heatgun drawing maybe 2500 watts. The electrician tested the power draw, and it was about to the limit. He theorizes that the furnace condensation pump must have kicked in, and with the tenuous connection in the light fixture recepticle, it was too much.
So when it came down to it, nothing really was broken. That doesn't mean, though, that nothing needs fixed. That light-fixture recepticle arrangement gives me the willies, especially after last night.
So I asked the electrician how much he'd charge for a surface-mounted duplex outlet in the workshop and two in the main basement room. He suggested they all be on the same circuit, 20 amp rating. Should be enough for the power tools, work lights, and all.
He named what sounds like a reasonable price. But my regular electrician is coming by tomorrow night to look at things and give me a second bid.
Whomever I decide to use, if I'm to keep using the heat gun to tackle the woodwork stripping, I need a power source that can take it. I have a lot of items on my electrical improvements wish list, but the basement outlets have just moved up to No. 1.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Guess that's what the grower was talking about.
Hmm. I’ll have to think about this. Do I want to dig up the two I planted and redo both those holes? Not necessarily . . . Because I’ve read other authorities on growing shrubs who say that if the soil in your planting hole is too much different than the native soil around it, the roots will never venture into the native soil, they’ll just coil round and round in the fancier dirt you put in. And never really get established.
Only thing that might make me start over is the warning on the crape myrtle instructions not to use heavy sand-based mixes. That’s what I’ve got out there, that’s for sure. I mean, don't I want these babies to have every possible advantage?
On the other hand, can I really afford the luxury of several bags of Miracle-Gro potting soil?
Um, no. Maybe I'll just get some perlite and lighten the mix I’ve got going.
Oh, yes-- for what it’s worth, it’s been running rivers of rain since 8:30 or so. Did not go out in it to see if the leaf mulch is holding. If it's not, there's nothing I can do about it tonight.
Then I had a look at the enclosed planting instructions. And found I needed help interpreting them. The generic instructions weren't clear as to whether I could safely plant these things in January in southwestern Pennsylvania. Can I or can't I?
I’ve checked the weather, and we're supposed to have a high of 45 tomorrow, with maybe some light rain. Not the best weather for digging, but there’s worse.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
For ages I've had it in mind to put in some kind of flowering bushes next to the cheekwall of the steps down to the front sidewalk. I can never get the grass there mowed properly, and I hate having to come back with shears or the edger to make it look nice.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
"We're all going to go around the table and make our resolutions!" said my friend. "We'll write them down and next year we'll see who's kept theirs!"
Her husband resolved to make steady headway on their house rehab. So what could I do? I resolved to do something at least once a week towards getting the woodwork paint stripping done.
My intention this evening was merely to use the dental picks to get some of the paint out of the crack between the lintel and the cornice of the dining room doorway casing.
But I already had a trim piece down there on the sawhorses, the jamb from the living room casing. It's been there since last July. It really took priority.
And the heat gun that was recommended to me by Reggie at Howard Hall Farm has been down in my basement since August, and I've never yet used it. In fact, it still had the twist-tie around the cord.
You would be so proud of me. I actually decided that melted paint residue wouldn't look good on the new jeans and black leather oxford shoes I was wearing. And took the time to change into my grubby work clothes.
And then I went to work with the heat gun on the jamb piece from the living room. Don't know if I just lacked patience, but it didn't seem to make much headway on the paint that'd been treated with paint stripper then dried again.
So I got out the old standby: Howard's Western Wood Doctor Refinisher and medium steel wool.
And it worked. On that living room piece, at least. Happily, we're having a warm spell here in southwestern Pennsylvania, and I was able to open the basement windows. But boy, was I glad when it was time to take the dog outside when I was done!
(I'm also glad that the one cat that ventured downstairs to investigate turned tail and ran upstairs the minute he got a whiff of the refinisher.)
Going strictly on this evening's experience, it looks like I'll have to take down all the trim, use the scraper to get off all the loose paint, use the heat gun to lift the paint that's stuck, and use the Wood Doctor to deal with whatever's left.
I'd hoped to keep the existing natural finish intact as possible and just use another Howard product to even it out, but forget it. Once the stuck paint's off, everything next to it is devastated. Best solution may be to jump on the shellac bandwagon and redo all the trim using that. I've got a spare piece of the 1916 trim left from the time my POs-1 reconfigured the doorways, so I'll have something to match the color by.
I stopped when I ran out of medium steel wool. Following on the mindset resolutions already made, I won't run to the store for it tomorrow. I'll take a day or two and make sure everything I need is on the list-- and anything I don't really need is not.
Face it, it's so much sexier to think about redoing the bathroom, which is a five-years-out venture, than it is to actually get downstairs and scrub the dormant mold off the basement walls. It's more fun to look at patterns for curtains, than actually to clean up the woodwork around the windows those curtains might someday go on.
There's more mental remodelling I surely need to do, but that's enough to tackle for one year!
Next post, I'll deal with what this will mean in terms of actual house projects.
Oooh, goodie, I get to make some New Year's Ambitions!
Friday, January 4, 2008
I got a live, fresh-cut Christmas tree for the first time this Christmas season. Usually, I wait till Lowe's or somebody puts theirs on sale. But this year, the Lowe's trees were 75% off by December 19th-- and you could tell why. Most of them had all the needles fallen off the lower branches. Pathetic.
So on the 21st I went to the only local Christmas tree farm that grows Fraser firs, and got one from them. (The saga is documented here.)
Maybe it's not drinking because it's not thirsty, because it was cut fresh? Maybe I'm inexperienced and don't know how a fresh cut tree behaves?
Well, maybe. But if I make a new cut after I get it home, I'll be sure.
Anyway, I put the tree in the stand and brought it inside. This is how it looked:
And here's how it looked Christmas Eve after I got the lights on it: Hardly like the same tree. Like something straight out of Dr. Seuss. You expect Cindy Lou Who to make her appearance any second.
What's the problem? Wilting? Dryness? Excessive heat? (In case you're wondering, that baseboard register is closed.)
So you want a New Year's resolution? I resolve for Christmas 2008 to find some lights with wider spacing. The ones I have take too long to put on, anyway.
But here's something that worked, and I recommend it to all pet owners whose dogs and cats like to drink out of the basin of the Christmas tree stand.
You know those e-collars that fit around a dog's neck to keep him from biting himself where he shouldn't? I clipped two of them together around the trunk to keep the cats out of the tree water. I had one e-collar already, and made a mental note to get another from the pet supply store as soon as I saw the kittens make their first beeline for the stand.It's great. No puddles on the floor and no cats drinking stuff they shouldn't.