Ending with a picturesque view of my butt. But hey, the cabinets are in!

Date posted: November 4, 2019 | Filed under bathroom | Leave a Comment »

Here’s the sink cabinets cut, installed, and anchored to each other and the wall. I started with the left side, got the access holes cut, notched the bottom, and set it in place over the piping. Then I put the middle cabinet in and attached that to the left side. After leveling it, I measured the right cabinet and cut the access holes. Jen helped me settle it in place, and I leveled them all off, anchored them to each other, and then to the wall behind. I have to clean up the shims at the bottom and install the kick plate, and then I can finish off the sill cover over the threshold and call that part done.

Next up is putting the kickplate platform under the linen closet and setting it and the other two cabinets into place. When those are done I can measure for the countertops and go find a toilet to install, as well as finish off all the kickplates around the perimeter of the floor.

Date posted: November 2, 2019 | Filed under bathroom | Leave a Comment »

I had a couple of hours yesterday to start moving piping around in the bathroom yesterday. First up were the drainpipes, which were pretty easy to get to and easier to extend with the right replacement fittings. The one on the right took a bit longer because I had to notch out one of the wall studs to get the pipe to clear. The one on the left might have taken 15 minutes in total, from cutting the wallboard to cementing the extension in place.

Then I started on the water supply piping. You can see where the cabinet edges are by where the blue tape is. I had to shut the main water supply off because I was still getting pressure upstairs, but I moved the left-side supply over and got one of the right-side pipes moved before I had to stop last night.

Does that look like shit? Yes. Will it clean things up under the cabinets and make life easier? Hell yes. Will anyone ever see it? Only if you’re looking at this post. 

Next, I’ll make a pass-through notch on the underside edge of the cabinets, then re-measure the supply pipes and use the hole saw to cut access holes through the backs and bottoms of each cabinet for the pipes. After that, I’ll set each of the cabinets next to each other and level them out before drilling holes to connect all three together as a level unit. Then I’ll take them apart, set them down over the holes and into place, and connect them back up as one unit before leveling the whole thing off and connecting it to the wall.


Date posted: October 27, 2019 | Filed under bathroom | Leave a Comment »

I was digging through old posts earlier today and found this photo, which helps me plan out exactly what has to happen to get the cabinets in place.

I’m glad I take boring pictures of things in progress, because this shows how the pipes were installed and what I’ll need to do to move the right side drain further to the right to clear the edge of the cabinet. I was thinking they were angled slightly upwards but they appear to be a pretty simple 90˚ bend, so all I’ll have to do is carefully cut a bit of the wall to either side of the final bend, cut the pipe, and add an extension. While I’m doing that I’m going to add doglegs to the supply pipes on both sides so that they come up correctly in the back of the cabinets.

I’m on the fence as to whether I’m going to extend the left side as well. Technically the pipe clears the edge of the cabinet, but it would be nice to have it centered. I guess we’ll see how hard it is to move the right side first. The biggest issue will be cutting through that diagonal sheathing in the picture; it’s 100-year-old true 1″ wood, and it’s hard as a rock. Oscillating saw to the rescue!

Date posted: October 22, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, house | Leave a Comment »

Hazel was hit by a car on Thursday. She got away from her lead and ran toward the front of the house, where we’ve always taken her for morning and evening walks; she has no concept of what cars are or how they pass by the house, so she ran out in front of one and got hit pretty good. She was able to get up and run to the back of the house, where she waited for someone to get her. The vet did a bunch of tests and x-rays and found that her pelvis was broken at the growth plates, and blithely recommended we keep her from walking for two weeks, before sending her home with puppy Advil. This did not help our dog, who metabolizes everything at the speed of light. Jen had to call back and get a sedative and anti-anxiety medication to get her to calm down. One or more of these medications has the bonus effect of making her stool into fragrant toxic pudding, which smells only slightly worse than her farts.


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So she’s confined to the back room, mostly in her crate, and she’s not supposed to walk. The usual practice of sniffing around for a good place to shit is forbidden, so we have to try to discern between HAZEL FREAK OUT and HAZEL NEED POTTY, and carry her out to the side yard (hereafter known as Diarrhea Alley), put her on the ground, and try to talk her into pooping in that spot while she looks up at us with half-glazed eyes wondering what the fuck is wrong with you humans? I think Jen may have better luck with this; I’m only right 1/8 of the time.

I crashed out on the couch for the overnight last night and missed it twice; At 3AM and at 5AM I was awoken by a smell similar to that of an overflowing festival port-a-potty only feet from my face. She sat in the crate on the other side from the mess, looking at me with stoned reproach, wondering when I was going to clean things up. That took a half an hour and three sleeves of paper towels. Then it’s time to feed her the drugs; I’ve gotten pretty good at saving them down her throat. SWEET ANXIETY MEDS.

When the sedatives do hit, she’s a bag of wet cement in the shape of a dog, which is kind of nice after two months of constant spastic activity, but calm times are few and far between. She’ll pace in the crate and whine and cry and carry on and scream, and we’ll take her out and she’ll just stand there in the rain for ten minutes and then we bring her inside and she pees on the floor, and while we’re cleaning that she’s in the crate howling. It’s enough to make me want to pee myself. The back room looks like a bomb hit and smells like stale bus farts. I don’t know how we’re supposed to do this for two (four? six?) more weeks while her pelvis supposedly mends itself; I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll grind through this hell and come to find her intestines have moved to where her lungs should be and her pelvis has fused to her jawbone. I can’t wait to see that vet bill.

We have two more windows sitting in the hallway ready to be installed, but I have no idea when that’s going to happen. We’ll probably have to wait until the spring to get them in, as the warm days are disappearing fast. I’m in a holding pattern in the bathroom as well; last weekend I was able to get a shallow shelf built for the front two windows and framed out the insides, but I had to stop at the outer casings. I also put cap moulding above the closet and the front windows in the dining room. The next big push will be to move the plumbing under the sink, but I don’t see that happening when I have to cut holes in the drywall directly above Hazel’s convalescent bed.

* * *

Finn and I drove down to Grand’s house yesterday to help him sort out his computer issues. He was locked out of his Gmail account, the account he’s been using since Verizon shut down their email servers, and he couldn’t remember any of his passwords or account information. Through some judicious use of internet forensics I was able to answer enough questions to get the authentication started, and then my sister-in-law called wondering why her phone was blowing up with two-factor requests. I switched the number over to his cell, made him a shortcut on his desktop, cleaned out his keyboard, and we were back in business.

Date posted: October 20, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, hazel, house | Leave a Comment »


Hazel is now averaging around 27 lbs. and stands 18″ tall at the shoulder. Contrast this with a 15 lb. puppy at 12″ when we first brought her home. I used to be able to scoop her up in one hand when she was loitering on the front lawn at 11PM, impatient for her to come back inside, and now I’ve got to grab her with both hands and lift with my knees. She eats twice a day but her favorite thing is to see if we’ve forgotten to move the cat food to the counter, because that apparently tastes better than the $70 puppy food she gets. Meanwhile, Nox is in the office horsing down whatever might be left in her bowl.


We’ve settled into a regular daily routine. I get up in the mornings and walk her first thing. Sometimes the ladies come with me and sometimes we sneak out before they wake up. We have a standard route: first we walk over to the church so she can find a good place to poop on their lawn. Then we walk behind the church into the stand of trees where she can chase squirrels and listen to the acorns drop. Then we loop back around on Beechwood Ave. and head to the backyard, where I put her on the long lead to hang out while I get coffee and breakfast together. In the evenings we go for one last walk before closing up the house. She’s accepted that the crate is her nighttime bed; I take the leash and her harness off inside the front door and she trots right inside and lays down for sleep. Jen bought her a couple of fleece jackets to wear when the weather gets cold, and I had her in one for the majority of the day yesterday. She looks fashionable!


The issues with the cats haven’t worked themselves out much. Some days she’s super-chill with the two of them, and other days it’s one big furball of scrabbling claws on the floor as they all try to simultaneously occupy and avoid the same space. We’ve done four pet training classes that have taught us some coping techniques, but everything flies out the window when she sees a squirrel or another dog on our walks.

We’ve found new and interesting ways to try and exhaust her before bedtime; our friends down the street have a puppy roughly her size and practically beg Jen to bring Hazel down to let them run around the backyard and wear each other out. On the days we’ve been able to schedule this, she crashes out as soon as she gets home. On other days, I’ve found a method of wearing her out: I take her over to the playground at the school where there’s an enclosed area about the size of a tennis court with one entrance. I bring a couple of sticks in there, take the leash off, and we play an abbreviated game of Fetch (more like Chase) where she goes after one while I pick up the other. Come to think of it, I suppose I’m playing Fetch. She should be giving me $9 salmon-flavored treats every time I pick up the fucking stick. I guess it’s OK because she is absolutely beautiful when she’s running at full speed. After a half an hour of this, she’s worked her ya-ya’s out and we head for home.

* * *

Much of the grass in our backyard is gone, because we had the landscaping guys come and dig a drainage trench Wednesday afternoon. We tied the downspouts from the back of the house into one pipe going out to the middle of the lawn so that the runoff doesn’t keep flowing past (and into) the garage. This should move even more of the water away from the house and hopefully prevent further flooding. They also pulled all of Jen’s plants from the circle garden and leveled it out across the middle of the yard and trimmed back all of our planters in preparation for fall. They are coming back today to level out all of the divots and low spots and humps in the lawn and hopefully make the whole thing flatter (or, at least, sloped all in the same direction).

Along with that work, I approved a contract to have the driveway dug up and replaced with real asphalt. The idea is to widen the whole thing out to two car widths so that we’re not constantly dealing with parallel parking. We’re also putting in a drainage trench toward the back that will move all the water flowing down the driveway from the side of the house out to the other side of the garage.

* * *

Up in the bathroom, we’ve got the linen cabinet sitting roughly in place, which is a huge relief. Brian helped me hump it up the stairs last Saturday and we were able to just squeak it into place in the corner. Now I’ve got to figure out how to get the toe kick pedestal underneath it—but that will come a little later. The next big step is to finish off the trim on the front windows. I’ve been holding off because I wanted to see how much free space we’d have with the cabinets in place—there was a chance the countertop would be in the way of the woodwork. I’m going to get that in place and sealed up so that the whole room will be airtight and keep as much heat in as possible. Then I’ll start modifying the piping behind the sink.

Finally, I bought two more windows for the living room on Monday. I’ve got a couple of weeks before they come in to get other stuff done, and then I’ll call my brother in law Glenn to come over and help me get them installed. He’s keen to learn, and now that I’ve done four I feel like I’m clear on the process; having another set of hands will hopefully make the job go faster.

Date posted: October 10, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, hazel, house, photo | Leave a Comment »

That up there is a couple more hours of progress in the bathroom, specifically over the back window and doorframe. I took about two hours to work out the compound angle of the crown moulding, by cutting two 2×4’s down to the right dimensions and working out a jig on the table saw. Once I had that worked out, I measured the position of the scrap wood on the crown moulding and cut it to fit. It’s off by about 1/18″ but you’d have to know what you’re looking for to notice. That particular problem has been vexing me for weeks, so I’m glad to have solved it.

When that was done, I unboxed and hauled four of the five small cabinets up to the bathroom and set them in place. This revealed a new problem to solve. There are two sets of water supply lines coming through the floor, and two drain pipes coming through the wall. The left set of piping is close to the edge of the left cabinet, but should be OK to route inside. The right side drainpipe, however, is aligned with the edge of the right cabinet—which makes it impossible to get inside.

I’ve got two options here. I can cut a huge chunk of the cabinet out to fit new piping (the redneck option), or I can cut a chunk of the wall out and re-route the drainpipe inside to get it further to the right. The water supply lines aren’t that big a deal; I can route piping sideways through the toe kick area under the cabinets to where I need it and then pop it up inside. I’m going to have a sit and a think about the drainpipe for a week or so until I come up with a plan.

Downstairs, the front window sash pockets are filled with insulation and buttoned up tight. I caulked the outside and made them as airtight as possible so that we won’t be losing more heat out the front wall of the house. My plan is to measure and buy two more for the living room windows and try to get them in before Halloween; this would mean all of the windows on the first floor, except for the galley window in the pantry, are modern replacements.

Date posted: September 28, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, house | Leave a Comment »

My FitBit used to do a great job of guessing how many stairs I’d climbed during the day, and I think the best I did was something like 45 floors on a Sunday when I was going up and down from the bathroom to the basement to use the table saw or retrieve a tool or some scrap wood. I haven’t figured out how to get the Apple Watch to give me the same estimates—it’s buried within one of the associated apps and I can’t be assed enough to bother right now—but I’d guess I beat 45 flights getting the windows in place on Sunday. After fixing the power switch on the table saw in the basement, I used that to rip a bunch of boards down to get sash stops the right size. I then measured and cut a stool the proper size and shape for the inside to clean up the casing. The miter saw is up in the bathroom so I had to run up there to trim things to size and come back down to fit them in place. By 9:30 that evening I was exhausted and went to bed early. Monday morning my knees were sore and my legs didn’t want to climb the stairs at the train station.

The other big event was delivery of our cabinets on Friday. The original time been scheduled for Wednesday but when they said ‘delivery’ they failed to mention it’s just curbside, so you have to get the stuff in your house yourself. On Wednesday a driver stopped at the house, spent an hour moving the boxes out of, and then back into the truck, and left. I got a couple of calls from the company, and we rescheduled for Friday. The five smaller boxes were reasonably easy to carry inside but the big linen cabinet is huge, and the guy on the truck took pity on me and helped me get it up the front stairs and into the front hallway, after which I handed him a $20 and thanked him profusely. I’m clearly going to have to open the box and break it down to its base parts—it came completely assembled so I have to pull the shelves and drawers out of it—and enlist a couple of friends to help me get it up the stairs and into the bathroom. I hope we can get it to stand up correctly…


Date posted: September 18, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, house | Leave a Comment »

Given three days of time off from work and a bunch of impending deliveries approaching, I figured I’d better get off my ass and make some progress in the bathroom. What was hanging me up were the thresholds over both doorways. As I explained earlier, I needed to cover up the crappy leftover wooden thresholds from the old doorway and the tile where the installer didn’t finish it up to the edge. I’d bought two sections of oak flooring, 5.5″ wide by 4′ long and 5/8″ tall and notched them out on the edges so they’d fit inside the doorframe. I then spent about two weeks puzzling over how I’d set up the router to cut the angles, and decided I needed a cheap router table to mount everything on. Once I had that, I needed to modify the table to accept an oversized bit (the diameter of the hole in the table was about 2″ wide, and the diameter of  the specialized bit I bought was about 4″).

I toyed with cutting a larger hole in the table but realized that would decrease its structural integrity, so then I found some thin scrap wood in my stash, cut a notch in the center, and clamped it to the surface of the table, effectively raising the deck up high enough to clear the edge of the bit. I dialed in the depth with a few test runs and then ran both pieces of oak through, ending up with a beautiful 60˚ slope on either side ending at an edge about an eighth of an inch high. Once those were test-fit and in place, I nailed in the casing around the front and back doors for good and sorted out the cap moulding for the back corner, where the door and window casings come together.

Then I went downstairs and started disassembling the dining room windows. We’ve got replacement windows on order, but as I’d mentioned before the vertical framing had been destroyed by the goons who covered it over in 1950.

I used my trusty oscillating saw to cut one of the sides in half, pulled it out, and cut the nails off with an angle grinder. I’d found good-quality pine at Lowe’s in nonstandard sizing, so I picked up a 2x6x8 that actually measured 2 1/8″ thick instead of 1 3/4″ and cut it down to size, then tacked it in place and made sure it was square. This went in with a minimum of fuss, so Hazel and I went back out for three more boards after a couple of hours at the pool last night.

This morning I got started cutting the other verticals out and by noon had the rest of them replaced with fresh clean wood, braced to the wall studs and ready for new windows. I might have to mill new casings for everything, but it’ll be good to have clean windows in place and insulation around everything to clean that wall up. And it’ll be even better to be able to open the front windows for cross breeze when the weather gets warm again.

* * *

We hit the pool on the final day of the season, and it was packed when we got there. The forecast had been 40% chance of rain and cloudy, and it wound up being 88˚ and sunny so every other member had the same idea we did. I’d finished the dining room window surgery and cleaned up my mess by about 1PM, so I took the dog for a walk, grabbed a quick shower, and off we went. I didn’t actually get the chance to get in the water but it felt good to sit and relax and sip an illicit beer in the sunshine.

* * *

There’s a dotted line of spray paint on the lawn from one of the utilities, who came and marked their wires last Friday. Hopefully BG&E will show up today to mark their lines, because the electric fencing is supposed to be installed on Wednesday. We’re technically not supposed to use it until Hazel is 6 months old, so I’m not sure what we’re going to do just yet, but it would be great for her to be able to run the length of the yard without being on a lead. It only takes her about 30 seconds to get her line tangled around a chair, the grill, the porch stairs, and another chair, but she loves to be outside in the sunshine and I’d love to let her run free. Plus, the squirrels and chipmunks would disappear for good.

I’m going to have someone come in and give us a price on clearing and paving the driveway, because now that the tree is gone that side of the house looks shittier by an order of magnitude. Nothing is going to make the garage look any better other than tearing it down and starting over, but if the driveway was actually clean and paved, it would do a lot to tidying up the curb appeal of the house. Somewhere in the back of my mind I’d been waiting for when the new garage was put in, but that’s not happening anytime soon, and I’d like to address the drainage on that side of the house as soon as possible. Ideally we’d have them put in two drains from each corner of the house to send all of the rainwater across the driveway to the slope on the other side, which should be a relatively simple trenching job. That would also keep the garage drier (currently the runoff flows down the driveway and straight into the front of the garage) and the driveway cleaner.

Then I’ve got to have someone come and give me a price for new covered gutters around the atrium. Now that that shitty tree is gone they won’t get as full of debris, but it’s a bitch to get up there and clean them, and they are the only ones that weren’t replaced when we did the roof 10 years ago.

Date posted: September 3, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, house | Leave a Comment »

I pulled a bunch of little caterpillars off the tomato plants last night, probably about 20 of them, and crushed them beneath my shoe. They destroyed the top foliage on half of the plants and in doing so killed off the third wave of fruit. Disgusted, I cut back most of the brown foliage, watered everything, and picked the remaining ripe tomatoes. There’s still some green fruit left but it’s pretty sparse, so this is pretty much the end of our tomato season for 2019. It looks like they are Yellowstriped Armyworms, which are pretty common up the eastern seaboard and love to eat crops.

* * *

After measuring and re-measuring the windows in the dining room, I called and got pricing for four new replacements, two for the outside wall and two for the porch wall. The outside wall should be a cut-and-dry operation, basically pulling the outer moulding, removing the windows themselves, and pulling the sash weight mechanicals. I think the biggest issue is going to be filling the sash pockets with some kind of insulation—whether it’s spray foam or compressed cellulose, I’ve got to find a good solution for getting in there and making sure they’re packed.

The front windows are going to be more of a challenge, because when the Doctor had them covered over, the workers chopped about 2″ off of each of the verticals in the windowframe so they don’t extend all the way to the edge that meets the wall. I’m faced with either ripping the entire dual windowframe out and replacing it, or taking each vertical board out one at a time and replacing it without moving the horizontal header and plate. The latter solution is the best, but requires nonstandard wood dimensions—the boards are 1 1/4″ thick, which hasn’t been standard since before the Second World War. So I’ll either have to have something milled or work with what Home Depot has.

Meanwhile the bathroom cabinets are on order (have I mentioned that already?) and should be ready in another 2-3 weeks, which gives me enough time to sort out the last of the geometry problems over the back door of the bathroom. Basically the windowframe and the doorframe both come together at an odd angle, close enough that the cap moulding overlaps in space. The way it’s set up now I’ve got to pull the side casing I tacked in off the door and replace it with new boards about 1/4″ higher so that the top of the window and door are at the same height.

Once that’s done I can move inside the closet and finish off the moulding inside and work my way around the perimeter of the floor up to the shower.

* * *

Hazel is getting more and more used to our daily routines (such as they are) and mostly settling in to a schedule of her own. Inside accidents have reduced dramatically, and she’s very good at letting us know when she needs to go out. Her prey drive has ramped up though, and the cats are scarce whenever she’s out on her own. Her anxiety has also ramped up to double what it was when we first got her, so there’s been more whining and crying at night in the crate. We have a quote from the Invisible Fence guy to surround the house with wire, and I’m going to call him today to schedule it.

Date posted: August 27, 2019 | Filed under bathroom, greenhouse, hazel, house | Leave a Comment »