Monday, May 27, 2013

OK, So Where Were We?

Oh, yes.  Up to the first weekend in May, recounting this spring's not-so-lightninglike progress.

Eh bien.  Nous recommençons.

Saturday, 11 May 2013:  Dare I admit that nothing got done on the house this past week?  Too much sub teaching, too much working in my least-favorite department at the Big Blue Box Store (Home Décor-- booooorrrrrrinnnngggg!!!), too much rain, and too much watching TV late at night on the computer.  But this morning I Made Myself get out to do something about the weeds in the flower beds in the front garden.  Even though it was in the lower 40s and freezing.

Not the worst of it, either
But as soon as I opened the gate from the back yard, I knew the grass in the Snow Carpet roses in the front border was going to live another day.  The box shrubs and the golden cypress growing along the walkway along the east side of the house had burgeoned so prodigiously and grown together so enthusiastically that I could hardly get myself or the garden cart through them.  So, change of plans.  Clipped shrubs instead.  I might have gotten to the flower bed weeds after I was done with that, but I got an opportunity to make some money that afternoon and evening and couldn't say No.  I had to be grateful I at least got the walkway shrubs into a presentable shape.  And got most of the clippings raked and swept off my walkway and the neighbors' lawn.

A little too friendly

Couldn't use my electric blower/vac.  I lost the nut for the impeller somewhere in the backyard leaves the other day and it won't work without it.  Plus the impeller has worked its way up the bolt it spins around and won't come off or go back down, either one.  Stuck.  Hope I can get it repaired.

Monday, 13 May:  Excitement unimaginable.  This afternoon, in the interval between getting home from teaching and heading for the evening job, I finally, after all these years, got the stringer moulding for the main stairs nailed back up.  Hooray!!

Friday, 17 May:  Eve of the annual Borough Large Item Pick-Up.  Not much from me this year, but I did get rid of the old white pine painted quarter round put up by the previous owners two back.  I'd been keeping it thinking it'd be useful for something.  But having watched enough episodes of Hoarders . . . 

Saturday, 18 May:  Took the electric blower/vac to a small machine repair shop over in Industry.  Yes, I can repair it, for $16 worth of parts.  If I can't find a wingnut or something that will function to keep the impeller on, I'll have them order them.  But I have to try the cheaper option first.  The guy at the shop worked the impeller off for me, no charge.  It's plastic, and he figures it got too hot and melted to the shaft a little.  Could be right.

Then at the grocery store I picked up some eggplant and broccoli plants on sale to put in in the front garden.  Yes, the front. I have some  ideas about that, which I think I'll regale you with in a separate post.

Later, got out front and cleaned out the crape myrtle bed.  Pruned off last year's seedpods, shaped up the branches, cleared out the winter cover (old leaves and pine branches), and laid down some shiny new black cedar mulch.  Happy to see the two "New Orleans" crape myrtles and the One-That-Was-Supposed-to-Be-a-"Bayou Marie"-But-Isn't are all leafing out.  The One-That-Was-Supposed-to-Be-a-"Pixie White"-But-Isn't is still just bare branches, though those branches are green inside.  (Oh, didn't I tell you?  Naughty me for not posting.  Early last December I got fed up with the pink, oversized, so-called "Pixie White" mugging everyone who tried to come up my front steps and switched it around with the so-called "Bayou Marie."  The latter, the smaller of the two, took the transplanting just fine.  The former apparently is still thinking about it.)

Sunday, 19 May:  More front yard work.  (Watch this space.)  That evening, took the liquid refinisher/stripper to the tall bookcase.  Looks pretty smeary.  I think it's because I'm trying to be too stingy with the steel wool pads and using them way too long.  Guess I have to put them on the shopping list whether I want to or not.

Tuesday, 21 May:  Didn't get called in to teach, for a change, and I was going to get all sorts of stuff done, yay, me!  Instead, I spent most of this very warm day trying to figure out, remember, recollect, work out, etc., etc., how the heck the operator for my kitchen door transom works.  Finally cut the Gordian knot by unscrewing the guide that holds the transom rod to the jamb casing and pulling it through.  Having experimented with it, I think you push the bottom tab up to make the rod go up to close the window, and you push the top tab down to make the rod pull down to close it.  I think.

Other than that, spent a few minutes out in the back garden trimming last year's dead leaves off the hellebores and mulching around the blueberry bush.

Maple mulch composting since October 2008
And I cut a piece of oak chairrail trim to cope for the south wall of the 1st floor hall.

Also contemplated cleaning up my basement workbench.  There's no room to do the cope till I do, and besides, I can't find my middle-sized nail set and I need it to countersink the stupid nailgun brads that are still protruding out of the quarter round trim in the living room and hall.  Maybe it's in all that mess.

Wednesday, 22 May:  Got a wingnut at work (after work) that fits the impeller shaft on the yard blower/vac and it's all back together.  Haven't tested it yet, but I expect it'll function again.

Saturday, 25 May:  Worked on getting the last of the oil-based primer off the carcase of the tall living room bookcase, until I ran out of refinisher.  Found a whole bag of #0 steel wool in the basement the other day and yes, using cleaner pads does make a real difference.

Sunday, 26 May:  Borrowed the neighbor's spare electric edger and tackled the encroaching grass growing over the back walkway for the first time in maybe two or three years.  As a machine it's better than nothing, and I certainly don't want to be an examiner of the mouths of gift horses, but getting much done with it is, well, arduous.  Maybe the problem is that it hasn't rained for awhile and the grass is holding on for dear life.  Thankfully, my neighbor says I can keep it as long as I need it.  Did all I could reach on two extension cords then did the same on one side of the front sidewalk.  By then, I had no stomach for rustling up a third cord.  Time to clean up and pack it in for the night.

Monday, 27 May, Memorial Day:  After work at the box store, got downstairs and made progress cleaning out my workshop.  Haven't finished the job; the stuff on the shelf above the workbench still needs going through before I can put things away, but the bench itself is clean.

Say goodbye to the mess!

Well, I tried.  Stoopy kamra!!
No nail set.  Don't laugh, but a lot of the inside work is being held up because I can't find it and smack those brads down.  For want of a nail set the progress was lost . . .

OK.  Maybe.  I guess.  But stay tuned for the big project that's developed this month.  As indicated, it's not an inside job.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Bits and Pieces, Dribs and Drabs

I was right, and I wish I weren't.  Working two jobs on weekdays plus a little freelancing whenever I can get it is definitely not leaving me much time to work on the house.

Nevertheless, I manage to sneak in a little DIY on weekends, or every so often between the end of school and the time I need to clock in at the Big Blue Box Store, or after I get home from selling other people the supplies they need for their projects . . .

Let me see.

Wednesday, 24 April:  Worked on getting the last of the black oil-based paint heat-stripped off the tall teak bookcase.

Sunday, 28 April:  Shellacked quarter round for the 1st floor hallway, several coats. 

 And finished heat-stripping the bookcase.

The black spot is a scorch mark.  Oops.
 Monday, 29 April:  Totally fed up with only being able to do one quarter round cope per evening before the battery power in my Dremel would run out, I gave in to temptation and bought a corded Dremel 3000 kit once I got off work this evening.  With the markdown and my employee discount, the price wasn't too bad.  See, I'd found out that I'd cut the quarter round pieces for the south wall of 1st floor hall too short (well, they were fine until I overdid the copes!) and figured my time is worth something.

So I ran home and recut them out of new stock (I'll resize the shellacked pieces and use them in the dining room or maybe the 2nd floor hall) and with my new toy-- I mean, tool-- got both of them coped (both ends) and ready to shellack the next day.

Tuesday, 30 April:  Got two or three coats of shellac on the replacement pieces of quarter round, and applied the finishing coat to some of the other pieces. 

Drilled the 1st floor hall newel post to receive the pegs that are now going to hold it and its cap together.

(rotation fail to be corrected asap)

 Wednesday, 1 May:  In the morning (I taught only a half day that day), slapped more shellack onto the new 1st floor hall quarter round.

And got out into the back yard and ground up some more of last fall's leaves with the rake/vac.

Late in the evening, using a rubbing on tracing paper, I transferred the position of the peg holes in the newel post to the underside of the cap, and drilled the holes. 

Yes, the pegs fit, but no, they weren't straight, and no, the cap doesn't fit on the newel post.  It's what I get for not using a jig of some sort to keep my drill bit perpendicular.  I couldn't get the pegs out, either, even with no glue.  Never fails.

Thursday, 2 May:  After school, pretty well finished sucking up and mulching the leaves in the west back yard border.  Discovered that someplace along the line I'd lost the plastic nut that holds the impeller to the unit, but it made no difference since the impeller was stuck to the bolt shaft anyway.

Friday, 3 May:  Didn't have to report to work till 10:00 AM or so, so I was able to nail in some of the 1st floor hall quarter round and a piece of the new chair rail.

 This little piece tickles me because it ties into the bottom of the spacer between the stair stringer and the wall on the upper part of the stairs.  It's what determines the height of the new rail trim all around the space and on up the stairs.

 The curved quarter round is a resin product.  No way was I going to kill myself cutting kerfs in the oak material, once I learned this stuff exists.  Not looking forward to figuring out how to cope the piece that'll run into it.  Probably just a matter of simple geometry, but my head's not into it yet.

Purchased two more pegs for the newel post.  I figure I might have to cut at least that many flush and redrill.

The next day, Saturday the 4th, I'd intended to get a ton of work done on the house.  But my nephew whom I hadn't seen for over five years unexpectedly was in town, and I had to visit a farm to see about a new source for the raw milk I've become accustomed to, and then on the way home I came across fresh strawberries for 75c a pint.  So what could I do in the evening but make jam?

Which took a lot longer than I'd expected.  And I see this post is getting to be a lot longer than I'd expected, too.  And I will be in in a jam if I don't get to bed ASAP.  Later on,  I'll go on pretending I've actually gotten anything significant done.