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Monday, July 25, 2011

Granny, Spiders, and Wash Hangin' on the Line

Mother used to tell stories about Granny - her mother. Like how she was the one who killed the pests around the house, not Pop. Pop was a violinist and conductor, and somehow too fine for the baser chores of life with 4 kids in Bethesda, Maryland. So Granny killed mice with her bare hands and eradicated any spiders. I don't think Granny was a particularly nice person. Mother always said that she and her siblings were more or less raised by Emma, a black woman who had come North at age 13 with Granny to keep house when Granny married Pop. I thought of Granny this weekend. ( I think a lot more about Emma.)

Wash hanging on the fence to dry. My first time hanging things out like this. Am I a sheltered city kid, or what?
We ran a load of sheets in our new-to-us stackable washer/dryer, and hung them out on the fence to dry. Took all of about 20 minutes in that heat, and they were dry as a bone.

We brought the dry sheets in and started to make the beds, when I noticed a small black spider crawling out of the corner of the sheet. Then I saw a daddy longlegs on the adjacent side. Then we ripped the sheets off and took them to the front porch for a good shaking. Funny, in all the books and articles extolling the virtues of drying your laundry outside, not once did I read about have to shake the s*** out of said laundry to make sure no hitchhikers come in with it. I would have appreciated a heads up.

Carpet Tiles in the "Master" Bedroom

This house is such a POS that I cannot bring myself to leave off the quotation marks  of the word "master" as in master bedroom. It is so NOT a master bedroom. It is a tiny bit bigger than the other bedrooms, and it has a bathroom attached to it, but it is not in any way, shape or form a "master" bedroom. I think I may start calling it the slave bedroom, since we are certainly slaving away to make it habitable.

This weekend, we finished the big jobs of this room. The carpet tiles look great, even if I didn't get the intersections to line up very well. It went down so fast - I bet it only took 15 minutes to do the majority of the room. It probably took Mikey longer to cut the 2 heater register holes and trim the partials along the wall than it did me to do the whole rest of the room. I love carpet tiles! And Mike got all the baseboards attached, even if I didn't get a photo. They look great!

Because the next big project is to remove the popcorn ceiling in the living room/kitchen, we moved the beds into the slave room. Add a TV and you've practically got The Ritz!


AFTER! Kindly note the lovely baseboard trim.
Now that we've gotten out feet wet, the real fun begins.

A Lizard in the Septic Tank

Fluffy clouds growing in the warm air.

This weekend was punctuated by several new and interesting, but somewhat yucky things. The septic tank guy came out because I had some questions about whether one leg of the leach field was clogged. Because the woman who scheduled the appointment was on her way out the door on a Friday, she didn't ask me why exactly I wanted him there, so when he came out, he assumed it was to pump out the tank. So that's what he did. My, wasn't that educational. No photos - sorry. Mercifully, scratch-and-sniff technology has not progressed to the point that I can fully share the experience with you.

Rick, the septic guy (how'd you like to be known as that?) found a live lizard in the tank, and somehow managed to help him out. The poor thing had fallen into the sludge. I frankly don't know how he was still alive. After I ran to get a bowl of water, Rick eased him into it for a tiny bath. Then we tipped the bowl to one side, and lizard and water both slid over the edge onto the ground under a bush. There was no movement after that, but he did appear alive. We left him to his fate.

Western Fence Lizard - we have many that look like this, most of whom have NOT fallen into the septic tank, but instead sun themselves on the back porch and startle us with their quickness and blue armpits.

I can only unhappily assume that these poor fellows are dead, since they are willing to hold still for this indignity. The one on the left is the Western Fence Lizard; the one on the right is the Sagebrush Lizard. Note that the Western Fence has yellow thighs, something we felt was too personal to find out about the guy who fell in the tank since he had suffered enough already, so I suppose he could have been either variety.

I sincerely hope this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all of us.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is There Anything Better Than a Homemade Towel Holder?

So tonight we're at our HomeAwayFromHome,  Home Depot, and I'm looking for a towel holder thing to put on the side of the kitchen cabinet. One that matches the color of the paper towel holder is $24, so that's not happening. Then I spy a super cheapie lucite and chrome one. They want 5 bucks for the POS, but it is the cheapest one they have. At the checkout, I change my mind, since we are going over to WallyWorld, and SURELY they have something for around $2.

Well, turns out, Wal-Mart has gone uptown. The cheapest thing they have is 8 bucks and it's too big and looks like it belongs in the bathroom, because it does. So I'm draggin' Mikey around saying, "Look for something we can hang on the wall that will keep the towel from falling in the sink."  We find nothing. Then out of the blue, Mikey has an idea.

The happy maker.
He Took a 10" piece of leftover trim from the bathroom mirror redo, screwed 3 bamboo clothespins onto it, and Voilà ! God, I love homemade projects, especially when they fill a need.

Kindly note the exquisitely flush screw heads.

We are going to meet the septic guy form Byrd's out there tomorrow, and we realized there is no address sign. So we made one.
Ignore the holes, please.
 Yea! Score 2 for us!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's a Mystery, Me Thinks

 Is it really the economy? No work for 3 years, despite being a helluva nice guy with lots of experience?

Found foundation.
Listing listing. (A realtor joke.)

Is this like the seamstress who has no decent clothes because she's always working for other people? Maybe word just got around. It's a thought - just put it in the background.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Puttin' Lipstick on the Pig

We have laundry facilities! Who knew a person could get so excited about washing and drying?

Too bad I didn't ask more questions when I responded to the Craig's List ad. I specifically wanted a stackable W&D that came apart because my only previous experience moving an attached unit was most unpleasant - they weigh a friggin' ton. But did I check? No, I did not. It was a miracle that Mikey didn't give himself a hernia lifting the heavy end out of the truck.

Technically, we only have washing because we have no dryer vent to the outside yet. The house didn't come with one, so Mike has to cut a hole in the house and put one of these in:

 But I'm gonna try and convince him to put in one of these, which is purported to be more efficient:

We also replaced the leaking and un-fixable kitchen faucet with this single handle, integrated spray thingy:

Ya just don't realize the things that make life easier and more pleasant until you don't have them anymore.

As long as we diverted the water to the sprayer and away from the main part of the faucet, it didn't leak.
This past weekend, we accomplished the following:
1. Installed the washing machine
2. Caulked the gap between  the walls and the ceiling in the "master" bedroom
3. Put up the baseboard trim in the office
4. Put up the baseboard trim in the guest room
5. Painted the "master" bedroom
Mike calls this color 'foundation', as in makeup. It actually looks pretty good, especially with the pale blue ceiling.

6. Survived the heat.
But at least it's a dry heat. Yea, yea, that's it. It's a dry heat.

I Got a New Way to Walk! (Walk, Walk!)

After we removed the old wall-to-wall carpet, we couldn't figure out what to re-cover the floors with. In our current house we've done:

Tile, rejected now  because it is cold, slippery and makes my knees hurt to install;
Raw hardwood, rejected now because it is slippery, it needs finishing, and the dogs nails ruin it;
Prefinished hardwood, rejected now because it is slippery, the dogs nails ruin it, and it's expensive;
Professionally installed wall-to-wall, rejected now because it will be ruined in 2 seconds flat and it is profoundly unhygienic, trapping God knows what and all their friends down where we cannot evict them.

I started researching carpet tiles awhile back, but rejected them as too expensive because the only thing I was willing to consider were the kind that stay put without adhesive, like Milliken's Legato.

I thought that regular glue down carpet tiles had to be attached with the same kind of thing that Daddy used to install linoleum tiles with in our basement in 1963 - a foul smelling tar-like substance. So without doing any further research, I put that option out of my mind. But then that rascal, Reality, reared its ugly head and we had to choose something. (The adhesive is smelly, but not as bad as that adhesion primer we used.)

So we're driving down Fillmore Blvd. on our way to Cañon City one bright Saturday morn, and I says to Mikey, "Why don't we stop here at The Floor Trader to see what they have?".

And that is when we met The Fellas.

Mark, Ramon and Mark. (Not shown: Roy - Get well soon, Roy!)

Ramon and Mark answered all our questions about the carpet tiles they were discounting, helped us lay out possible patterns, and explained how to apply the pressure sensitive adhesive to the floor. (When applied correctly, it sticks ONLY to the floor, so the tiles can be removed if a replacement or spot cleaning is needed, or if you just love them so much that you want to take them with you to your next abode.) I guess the thing that impressed me most about The Fellas, was that they listened closely to our list of requirements and helped us fit the product to the project and our budget. And, they stored it for us until we were ready for it. Now that's service!

We were able to replace the floors in the entire house for under $1800, and it is WAY easier and faster than anything we've ever done before. We bought 3 different tiles - 2 of them were 18" x 18" and one was 24" x 24". Can you imagine how quickly they covered the areas? It was brilliant! I am so impressed with the products and The Fellas at The Floor Trader that I encourage you to consider them for your next DIY floor replacement project. It is a casual look, to be sure, but man, it is fast and easy. THANKS, FELLAS!

Mikey installing the carpet tiles in the office. The greys and black in the tiles go swimmingly with the cow shade.

With this pattern, the seams are virtually invisible. And that is saying something for a low pile carpet tile.

We could have installed raw hardwood for less $$$, but it would have MUCH harder on our bodies, MUCH messier because of the need for so much cutting with the chop saw, and MUCH slower. And then when we were finished, we wouldn't have been finished because then we'd have to seal it. Carpet tiles are my new favorite flooring option. No, they're not appropriate for the Queen's parlour, and the low pile is even more casual than the shag (which is deep enough to catch more yuckies). But for a quick, easy, durable, hygienic floor, this is the nuts!

Monday, July 11, 2011

I Hate Doubts

I hate doubts. I'd much rather be completely gung-ho about something than have those niggling little thoughts that perhaps, but not necessarily, a mistake has been made. How is one to know for sure? I like for sure.

This deck has more oops-es than all the Home Depot paint departments in the whole world.

It is possible that this whole deal may have been a mistake. Or it may just be that the high adhesion primer fumes got to me and made me feel all hopeless-like.

For those of you who don't know much about manufactured homes, the walls are made of 3/8" drywall panels covered with a durable vinyl coating. Sort of like having all your walls covered in a tough, well applied vinyl wallpaper. The joints between the panels are covered with a narrow batten board that is covered in the same vinyl stuff, so it all matches. I guess this allows the sections to flex if needed when the buildings' parts are being moved. From that perspective, it makes a great deal of sense. However, if you ever cut it, tear it, drive a nail or a screw into, or otherwise mar the surface, you will never be able to fix it. It is visually unforgiving. And paint will not adhere well to it without additional work and cost.

Being the classy types that we are, we wanted something that looked less like a trailer and more like a regular house. HA. Joke's on us. In order to fully disguise the telltale characteristics of being trailer like, a laborious process is needed. We are now quite tired of said process , and are doing less and less to every room.

The yellow office was the first room we worked on, dubbed the "experimental" room. Little did we know that every room would have it own experiment as we tried to make things look good, tossing some techniques and adding others.

OK, it's really called  'pear' - no wonder it looks green
In this room, we removed all the battens that telegraph " I am a manufactured home!", and taped over the seams. It didn't come out as well as we'd like, but we're not pros. You get what you pay for. All in all, it looks OK, but we didn't want to do it again. This room' s order of rehab was:
1. Remove battens
2. Wash walls
3. Rinse walls
4. Rinse walls again
5. Wipe dripping brownish water off of walls with a large towel and pretend they don't need further rinsing
6. Prime walls with high adhesion primer. We chose Sherwin-Williams brand, and it does exactly what it says it will: make traditionally unpaintable surfaces paintable. It will also make you sick as a dog if there is not enough ventilation. One large open window with a fan blowing in at top speed and a door open as well  IS NOT ENOUGH.

7. Tape and patch walls and ceiling. (We primed first to make sure the drywall mud and texturing would stick to the surfaces.)
8. Roll thinned drywall mud on the walls with a standard 3/8" paint roller.
9. Paint popcorn ceiling blue.
10. Paint ceiling blue again.
11. Paint walls.
This took entirely too long and had too many steps. We regrouped and made a plan for the second bedroom.

It has to be better than the first, right? Well, right and not quite right.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Assorted Photos

Since I didn't have any place to put these, but I thought folks might like to see them, I'm puttin' 'em here.  Sorry about the quality - they were taken with a phone.

Paper towels and painter's tape do an excellent job of keeping the heat out of the back door area. And so chic.

Our dear Oklahoma Dirt Dog, Hoopa.

That's the footbridge to the big pond area. Purple painted telephone poles and scrap lumber. A little scary.

The flat spot by the big pond.

We inherited some lovely items. I believe that is an old iron cookstove and a toilet that has been shot at.

More cottonwoods.

This concrete thing is part of Old Canon City Highway (?) from the late 1800's.

More cottonwoods and the rocks near the big pond.

And more cottonwoods.

The redneck dog pavilion. Only Bubba had the good sense to use its shade.

Some state folks say this tree is about 300 years old. So it was 100 years old around 1800. How can that be?

This is another very old cottonwood.

Hoopa had an unexpected swim in the 2nd pond, which is not very deep at all.

She is a good shaker, but not a good swimmer.

And yet, she seems quite happy.

That red rock formation looks a lot like some of the ones in Garden of the Gods.

Look what Mikey found! He seemed a little disturbed by the falling rock thing.

Not amber waves of grain - green waves of un-horse-munched grass.

Giving those rocks the evil eye so that they will stay put.