Originally, I was going to fart around with trim in the bathroom on Sunday afternoon. It was supposed to be 54 degrees, and having spent two freezing hours out on the soccer field watching Finley’s team on Saturday (they won the first game and lost the second) I didn’t relish the thought of opening the house to frigid arctic winds. But as I drove Finn to a friend’s house I realized it was warmer than I’d been led to believe. So I grabbed a bagful of spray foam from the Home Depot and commenced to making a mess in the living room.

This shot is after I pulled two of the trim pieces off, but hadn’t yanked the window out yet.

Here both casements have been pulled from the right side, and the storm window frame is the only thing left on that side (it came out right after this shot).

The new window is placed on the right side. This is the best comparison between old and new windows. The new ones are a little smaller in terms of window size, but brighter in the amount of light getting through.

This is with both windows placed, but before I’d mounted them permanently. As of Sunday night they’re screwed in, surrounded with foam, and the trim pieces are placed, but I don’t have any caulk, which I’ll pick up this week. Once the caulk goes in, that will help a lot with any residual leaks, but these are already a million times better than the old ones. All three sash pockets are filled with expanding foam, which should keep things toasty. It was a fast bit of work, but I got everything installed in five hours.

Date posted: November 11, 2019 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Look at that. It’s going to be a couple of days before we can do anything with it, but I can’t wait to park on it.

Date posted: October 30, 2019 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

There’s a crew outside with a bobcat scraping inches of dirt, rock, and mulch off the top of the driveway to prepare it for crushed gravel. They’re going 3″ down before they build things back up, so they’ve already uncovered a hand-built “drain” that was put in to the right side of the garage door at some point 30 years ago which had completely collapsed. All of the mulch is gone, as is the curb on the far side. We’re widening out the front to make it a true two-lane driveway, as well as building up and leveling off the far side so that we don’t need to continually parallel-park on a slope.

It’s about 16′ at its widest, which is a tight two-car width, but that’s worlds better than a 1-car dirt pathway. And that fucking curb is gone! They’ll be back to put down the asphalt tomorrow.

Date posted: October 28, 2019 | Filed under comparison, house | Leave a Comment »

The giant patches of dirt spread across our lawn have started sprouting grass over the last couple of days, which is a relief. I’d been able to water 80% of it about 60% of the time the week it was laid down, but we’ve been living though about a month without rain, so a lot of that moisture evaporated as it came out of the sprinkler. The other issue is that there are a lot of distant small patches that are hard to cover unless you’re out there all afternoon moving the sprinkler around, and I don’t have that ability. With the rain we’ve gotten the last two weeks, things have finally stayed damp and the seed has started sprouting. It’s nice to look out there and see things becoming green again. It appears that the new gutter drainage seems to be working, although I’m going to need to shore up the erosion around its edges when the rest of the grass comes in.

We’ve got the driveway folks coming next week to dig up and lay down pavement, which is exciting! Especially as I’m seeing the tracks of runoff from the front gutters pointing directly at the front of the garage. I’m ready to clean that whole side of the house up and deal with the water over there once and for all. And, to have a solid driveway to work on/ride bikes on/rake leaves on/walk on will be heavenly.

Date posted: October 25, 2019 | Filed under house | 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 »

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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.

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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!

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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 »

I used this video to replace the gasket on our washing machine last night, which had inexplicably gotten tangled on one of my shirts the other night and pissed water all over the basement floor. Glad to have that sorted out.

Date posted: October 4, 2019 | Filed under house | 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 »

The second set of replacement windows is in place in the dining room. This was a two-day project due to all the unknowns and the extra work I had to do to get the frame prepped and the sash pockets insulated. The original windows came out easier than I thought they might, after battling years of old paint and caulk to get the moulding off. Once that was done I put in and took out the replacements a total of about six times for fitment and prep work.

The difference in light is dramatic. The old windows were the original wavy glass from 1925, and when compounded by a pair of storm windows covered in dirt, we may well have just covered them in plywood for all the light that made its way through.

These new windows go up and down like butter. They’re quieter. The top window isn’t painted shut so we can vent the hot air up at the ceiling. This is going to make a big difference.

Date posted: September 23, 2019 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »