Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On this day, in 2006...

the girl we now like to call Cecil was born.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Avocado Trees

Avocadoes are expensive, and C loved them when she was just starting solid foods, so we went through a bunch of them. I hated spending over a buck apiece, so after I read about how to start an avocado tree in Super Baby Food, I followed the steps. You peel the pit (there's a thin brown "skin" on the pit), poke a couple toothpicks in it and prop it in a vase or jar so about the bottom half is submerged in water. Like so:
And then you wait for it to split and pop out a root, like this:
And then, eventually, you pot it and water it, and it grows bigger than your daughter:

I've been thrilled with the success of this tree, but then I read (in addition to the years you wait before it will bear fruit) that you actually have to have at least two so they can cross-germinate, or something. [I should have paid attention in Biology class. Sorry, Mr. Cunningham.] So the tree at the bottom is Tree A, started in early 2007. The pit at the top is the beginnings of Tree B, started August 18th-ish, 2008. Let the cross-germinating begin...

The Installation of a Toilet, Part II

So it's in. And it's been tested. (TMI?) And it works. I'm very happy about all of this.

I'm going to photograph the new toilet, but you have to imagine what it will look like with a nice drywalled wall behind it, and a nice white baseboard.

There's a big chain of events for the downstairs bath:

1. Set water lines into wall for washer, so the washer and dryer can be moved back about 8 inches.

2. Move dryer vent to side, so the washer and dryer ... etc.

3. Box in the cold air return ductwork.

4. Drywall back wall of bathroom.

5. Run plumbing for a sink, then buy and install a sink.

6. Have Bob install a V-groove wood ceiling, painted shiny white. (Here's the ceiling, as it is now.)

7. Have Ross patch other walls and paint Sherwin Williams Mega-greige. I love this color, inspired by one of Martha Stewart's kitchens.

8. Install the light fixture that's waiting down in the basement.

By the way, wouldn't you assume that maybe an American Standard toilet would be made in the good old U.S.?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Installation of a Toilet, Part I

All you need are this stack of supplies:
And these.
It's very important to have a helper, and Bob has a good one.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yard Work

We spent a good part of Saturday working on the yard, and we made some headway. We're still trying to decide if it looks better or worse.

Bob's also been prepping the laundry room for a new toilet, thanks to C's interest in toilet training. I think he'll install it on Tuesday. We went to Home Depot and oohed and ahhed over all the options, cracking stupid jokes about how they try to *delicately* describe the toilet's abilities. Bob's totally sold on one model in particular. I can't remember the name of it, but I call it the Toilet of Champions. It can flush a whole bucket of golf balls in one flush-- seriously, that's how they advertise it. Bob joked about testing that claim, but, of course, just because the toilet can take it doesn't mean that the rest of our plumbing can...

Anyway, here's what the one of the big weed patches looks like now, after hours of weeding and pulling vines:

Pardon the messy garage. That's another project, waiting to happen.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How are we ever going to find the time?

To deal with things like this:
And this:
Or, what annoys not just us, but our neighbors...
And here's a shot that shows the overgrowth behind the compost pile. It's too bad that this is what it looks like after being hacked back once already this summer...
And then there's the monstrous crack in the wall behind our bed.
To say that we have lots of work ahead of us would be a huge understatement. Every wall has cracks, most have holes from where the electricians ran wiring. (Our first task, upon closing on the house, was to rewire it, top to bottom.) The good news is that we feel totally confident in all the electrical systems. State Farm only insured the property contingent on replacing all the knob-and-tube wiring.

Soon, I'll show before and after pictures of the plaster downstairs.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ceilings are Nice.

Especially when they're WHOLE. Not one big HOLE.
Here's the before:

In case you can't tell what you're looking at, this is the ceiling in my office. There were ceiling tiles across the whole ceiling, and then firring (sp??) strips, and then plaster in some places, just the lath in others. It was a mess. This is how the ceiling was in our bedroom, as well. We've just had all the ceilings upstairs drywalled. We debated about whether or not to repair the plaster, but as is so often the case for us these days, it was "price-prohibitive." We're really pleased with how the drywall turned out and are eager to finish the walls as well. (We're repairing the plaster on the walls, though, not drywalling.)

Here's the finished ceiling:

Of course, it's not actually finished. It obviously needs to be painted. But I think it looks a million times better. (Please excuse the light fixture hanging by wires, as well as the hole by the door where the smoke detector goes. It seems silly to attach them, only to take them right back down in order to paint.)

And here's what our dining room looks like, since we had to empty the upstairs for this project:

The living room was even worse.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pet Peeve for Today

I don't plan to make this a daily thing, but I'm feeling very annoyed about something and wanted to share: ok, so John Edwards had an affair. (http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/08/08/edwards.affair/index.html) I'm really disappointed about this. Really disappointed. How devastating for his wife and family. Infidelity is something that just seems unforgiveable to me (though I know people who've forgiven).

Here's what makes me mad, though...
Twice now, I have heard people say (different people, that is) something along the lines of "and she's not even attractive!" Ooh, boy, does this make me mad. Attractiveness is the key to a good relationship (or in this case, affair)? I guess my parents didn't teach me this one. I've also heard people say things like "I can't believe he's not married; he's so attractive!" Ugh.

I keep trying to put into words how I feel about this, but I keep coming up short. Do you get my drift, though? What the heck does attractiveness have to do with anything?

People are more (or less) deserving of a mate based on how they look?? An affair is only worth it if the person is a hottie?? Gag. Puke. I find this disgusting.

End of rant.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Roofer

So yesterday morning, we met with a roofer to talk about the great volume of water that flows THROUGH our soffits when it rains. We had initially hoped to re-roof and re-gutter, but, alas, there's not enough money. (Well, I suppose there is enough money, we just don't have it.)
So the roofer said he'd be back around noon to begin work. At about 12:45, he arrived with an apology: his morning project had turned out to be worse than expected, and it would take all day. Could he come back tomorrow? Certainly! He arrived today at 11 and was done by 12:45. He cleaned out all the gutters (note to self, and to self's husband--clean gutters here about every three months) and removed TREES from the gutters and downspouts. This seems to be a trend here: the drain guy removed trees from our basement drains, as well.

The diagnosis: holes in the rubber gutters up on the top part, as well as some holes in the front porch roof. He patched all visible holes and recommended coating the front porch roof (which he said still has some life in it), as well as the front porch gutters. He said he pulled more than a foot-deep worth of gunk out of one of the downspouts. The water had nowhere to go. [I sometimes feel that way, myself.]

Here's a shot of the soffit under one of the disaster areas in the gutter:

And while we're at that side of the house, in the interest of full disclosure, here's a window pane that "got broken" that I've patched with Saran Wrap and clear packaging tape. Ingenius, huh? Until your two-year-old pokes her finger through it, thinking it's bubble wrap and will pop.

If you can't see the Saran Wrap, use your imagination. I promise it's there.
By the way, the window "got broken" while I was out of town and Bob accidentally locked himself out of the house. I've now bought a replacement window pane AND hidden a key. We just need to install the window pane. And by "we," I mean "Bob".

Thursday, August 7, 2008

About The House

In November of 2007, when I was many months pregnant with our second daughter, and days before Thanksgiving, we moved. We decided we wanted a newer, bigger house: that is, a house built in 1912, rather than 1909, and with four-ish bedrooms, rather than two. A little more room for the girls, the adults, the two cats, and a Great Dane. [And for the record, when I say we wanted a newer, bigger house, I mean I.] Bob most certainly did not want to move, but his request was that we not leave our neighbors, so we moved four doors down the street.

The "new" house needed lots of work, and our immediate plan was this: new air conditioning, new electrical service and wiring, repairing the plaster upstairs and down... I think there was more to this list, but I've forgotten. Having now lived here for 8+ months, we realize that pretty much everything that a house could need, this house needs. What would we do if we had unlimited funds?

  • Brand new, top-of-the-line kitchen (or, at the very least, maybe some cabinets and countertops??)

  • New plumbing, including clearing the drains in the basement and installing an outside plumbing clean-out

  • New roof, decking over the old built-in gutters, and attaching new gutters -- wait, no... if Bob had his way, and we had unlimited funds, he'd restore the built-in gutters and put on a metal standing-seam roof on the house, porch, and garage

  • Have two functioning bathrooms, plus a laundry room

  • Water-proof the basement

  • Repair the soffits, thus preventing birds (and worse???) from entering the attic

  • Refinish the hardwood floors

  • Install a permanent showerhead in the upstairs bathroom, rather than a shower wand with no place to "park" it... it just hangs there

  • Install nice light fixtures in all rooms

  • Install ceiling fans in the upstairs bedrooms

  • Bushwhack the yard and start over

  • Oh, insulate the whole house! (There's no insulation.)

  • Install storm windows, screens on all the windows, or maybe replace the windows? If not, then restore the sash cords/weights, etc. so that the windows stay open.

I could go on. If you have an old house, then you understand.

Now, having said all that, I LOVE THIS HOUSE. It met all my criteria, and it was in bad enough shape that we could afford it. And Bob loves it, too, now, though he loses sleep at night over how in the world we'll ever be able to fix everything.