Monday, September 01, 2014

End of Summer-3

I would like to start today by mentioning that I have been much more aware of trying to reuse building materials I already have. I used the treads from the newer staircase I tore out for the stringers for the closet floor upstairs. I reused a whole bunch of nails I pulled out of the ship lath and used them in my joists. The floor you see in the picture below came off a platform that was left at the house when we bought it. It has spent the last nine years out in the weather next to the Carriage House.
It had gotten a little moldy on one end but I was able to cut out the cancer and keep the good parts for my flooring.
So now I have this floor in and a bunch of unused space below it. A few people have cautioned us about removing the back staircase, citing the advantages of having an extra escape route in case of terrorist attack, fire, or other emergency.

We already have a roll up ladder to go out a window if the need arises, so I haven't been concerned with removing the extra escape route.

But there really is no reason to remove it. There is a lot of storage space in that stairwell and it would make a terrific grow room when I start my Marijuana operation.
So I decided I needed a trap door in the floor. I will go further by adding a secret door in the bathroom at the bottom of the staircase when that project comes off the holding pattern.

So that's all I managed to complete over the three day weekend. I'm satisfied. Especially when you consider we also went downtown to the park and enjoyed a little Pig Out fun, we hosted Mom and the girls at the house, and tonight...we're going to the annual Symphony Concert at Comstock Park.
This was another event where we had no chance that anyone would go hungry. Lots of food and drink to go around for everyone you see pictured above.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

End of Summer-2

Today I shall be building...and this is not something one would consider to be in my wheelhouse. 

It should be fairly easy. I'm building a floor on the upstairs portion of the stairwell.
I've got my stringers in and I even went the extra mile of securing them with 6 quarter inch lag bolts. Them babies ain't going nowheres, Man!
Next I cut my joists to size and hung them in the joist hangers. That's my very first joist pictured above. Not bad. I shall soon be losing my membership in M.W.C.B. (Men Who Can't Build)
Once I got going on the joists, it went very quickly.

I would comment on how pleased I am with myself but I am all to aware of the fact that pride comes before the fall.
I will try not to fall until I have the floor in.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

End of Summer -1

I am hoping to accomplish a great deal of accomplishments this weekend. Today is Day One of the Labor Day Holiday...the unofficial end of Summer.

Let's see how I do!

The plan is to start the remodel of the main floor bathroom. We have budgeted $5,000.00. The big expense will be any plumbing changes we make and the possible purchase of a new bathtub and maybe a shower.

We really don't know and won't know until we have the wall down to see what we can do with the space.

Oh...another monkey wrench has been thrown into the mix. Susan is suddenly without a job. Her boss of nearly 20 years laid her off on Friday. It could be a temporary thing, perhaps a couple of months. But we are thinking we can't really wait around a couple of months for her boss to decide whether he can keep her or not.

And so...the bathroom project is on a temporary hiatus until we know what's happening with Susan and the job market. 

But that doesn't mean there isn't work to be done. Even if the downstairs portion of the remodel is on hold, we can still be working on the upstairs portion.

You see, the expansion of the bathroom involves removing the wall between the bathroom and the back staircase. We never use the back staircase and feel the space can be more efficiently used as usable living space.

So the bathroom gets larger downstairs and the back bedroom gets a nice closet upstairs.

So my project this weekend is to build a floor at the top of the stairs and maybe cut a hole in the wall for the closet door. That's pretty ambitious but let's see where we get to.

Here are a couple of pictures of what I'm starting with. An observant person might notice something unusual. There appears to be a staircase under the staircase. "WTF?", one might exclaim.

Well, when this house was a group home, they built a staircase to accommodate the code of the day over the very steep and treacherous original staircase.

So, I got to work a few weeks ago to take out the newer one.

I also got to work taking down the drywall in order to expose the walls. Here's something else to observe. The boards on the wall in the picture above are ship lath. The cover a layer of tar paper. That indicates to me that the wall there was at one time an outside wall.

This was not a surprise to us as we knew the kitchen had been added to.
This pile of razor blades fell out of the wall when I started removing the ship lath. That's because the medicine cabinet in the bathroom had a slot in it for disposing of razor blades. They just shoved them into the wall. 
I eventually got the whole wall cleaned up which gave me a crap load of wood to start cleaning up.

So cleaning up the wood was my main task today. Once again, we're going to be burning a good portion of the house this winter.

That's enough for today. We have Mom and some of her friends coming over for a nice barbecue to make up for the missed Mother's Day earlier this year.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Siberian Swan Song

I got home last night to discover the tree guy had finally showed up and started remove the Siberian Oak that has caused us sooooo much trouble.
 Before and after yesterday's pruning.
I am glad it is going but I think I will miss the shade it provided for the house. It has to go though. It's sick and falling down in pieces and it is in the way of our future garage. Not that the garage is happening soon, but the tree would have had to come down at some point to accommodate the new, super deluxe, space age two car garage.

Anyway, it looks like we'll end up with a bunch more wood to burn next season. I hope he's cleaning up the brush. That was the deal.

I found this guy, Donovan through my insurance agent. He taking down this tree for about $700.00. That's $500 below any other quote I got.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Catching Up S'Mo

To begin...and have some continuity with previous weather posts, the heat wave continues but it looks like there is light and the end of the forecast tunnel. The temperature is in the high 80's today and the forecast for the rest of the week calls for similar temperatures.

It's been waaaay too hot for waaaay too long.

We have finally figured out the next project for the house and in fact, preliminary work has already taken place.

We have begun the remodel of the main floor bathroom.

The work done so far is in the back stair well space that the bathroom will be expanding into. A staircase built to the proper code was built over the original very steep staircase.
Here you can see the space we are expanding into and the two sets of stairs.

The top picture shows the newer staircase and the bottom shows the old original one.
I have removed the newer staircase and am getting ready to open the wall between the stairwell and the bathroom.
We are holding off taking down the wall for two reasons. The main reason is because it is a bearing wall and I'm going to need to consult with my peoples on how to proceed.

The other reason is because we are hosting a party this coming weekend for Susan's friend, Sharron. The plan was that Sharron would be attending this party but she died August 8th from Lung Cancer.

Sharron still wanted the party to take place and she will be there in spirit.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

It's All Our Fault

We took a trip to Colorado to spend some time with Susan's sister, Margaret and her family. We went to Estes Park, a little town in the mountains outside Denver. Susan and Margaret used to vacation there when they were kids. I assume their parents vacationed with them, but don't know that for sure.

We returned to Spokane on Wednesday the 23rd. About an hour after we got home, a tremendous wind storm suddenly rolled through town. It was like someone hit a storm switch. It came up that suddenly.

The wind howled and knocked down lots of trees around town and took out a lot of electricity.

My buddy Mike came into town the other day to hand out for a few days before returning to Hell in Saudi Arabia. He teaches English to the entitled princes that inhabit the region.

We had a party to attend last night but another light switch wind storm hit the city and continued to wreck havoc where the other storm left off.

We left for the party and had a difficult time getting there. One road I took was closed due to a tree across the street. We doubled back and realized how dusty it had become. A couple of small fires had started as well.

The party was to be a dock party out on the Spokane River in the valley. Because of the wind, the party got moved inside. Soon enough though, we were able to move to the dock and I was able to dive off the bridge like I do every year.

We had a nice time at the part, left early to go see a baseball game, which was followed by a really good fireworks show. We had a great evening all the way around.

And then we got home...to a dark neighborhood...and a dark house.

It wasn't until the next day that we discovered that our tree out back was the reason for the power outage.

This tree has been featured here before as it is slowly killing itself by having various parts of it fall off. Until now, it has managed to avoid hitting the house.



This time, it has laid itself upon the garage without causing any damage to the building.

It is time for this tree to come down before it causes some real damage.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rocky Mountain High

I am writing from the deck of the condo we have taken over. We are in Estes Park, Colorado for a little vacation.
There's the view we have. 

There is lots to update so sit back, shut up and read on.

We Flew out of Spokane bright and early on Friday and flew to Denver where we rented a car and met up with Phil and Margaret, Susan's relative through sisterness.

We drove from Denver to Evergreen, CO where we were to go to a concert of the Nadas, a band the Phil and Margaret's son Neal plays in.

Along the way to Evergreen, we stopped for a tour at Margaret Brown's house, better known as the Unsinkable Molly Brown. From there we ventured to see the grave of Buffalo Bill Cody.

We finally arrived in Evergreen and split up from Phil and Marg as they went to their lodging and we searched for the Elk Run B&B.

We all reconvened at the Little Bear, the divey little bar where the concert was. We had some dinner and some drinks and enjoyed a great concert where most of the people knew all the lyrics to the songs of this native Iowa band.
On Saturday, we took a tour of a local estate called the Hiwan Ranch. It was homesteaded before the turn of the last century and over the years, what started out as a barn became this beautiful, extensive log home. The tours lasted about half an hour but our tour guide gave us about an hour and a half. We asked lots of questions. From there, we took the drive to Estes Park. It was about a two hour ordeal over mountain passes and winding roads and horrible Colorado traffic.

When we got here, and discovered the housing Phil had secured for us, we were all quite pleased. It's a really nice, modern condo with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a hot tub, and a lovely kitchen and living room.

The condo is located on the grounds of Mary Lake Lodge and resort. The main building is over 100 years old and is quite striking. We had dinner there last night.

Susan and I slept in today, waking at 9 to find we were all alone. Phil and Margaret went to church in town and then we connected with them at the Stanley Hotel. The Stanley is best known for it's starring role in "The Shining", the one from the 80's with Jack Nicholson, not the piece of crap they made recently for television.

That was also very nice.

That brings us pretty much up to date. We have just returned from a hike in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. I would imagine we went about three miles and climbed about two or three hundred feet above the 9,520 foot starting point. 


I was a little concerned because of the altitude. I'm definitely feeling it as I walk around. It sure would be nice to be in shape.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Catching up

If I'm not doing a good job of keeping things current, it's because I have a life to lead and precious little time to devote typing away here in the sweltering hot box that is this house. 

We are well into a week of 90 degree days. It is hot, baby!

With my weather complaint out of the way, as well as my semi-hapless apology for not keeping up, let's get caught up on what's been happening.

The Solstice Party went off without a hitch. We figured we were visited by about 40 people throughout the course of the evening. There was a ton of food, a ton of libations and frivolity and fun prevailed throughout the night. I think I was even in bed before 3...with the house basically cleaned up.

My sister, Stacey was in town from California and spent most of the night taking requests on the piano.

Last weekend, we were visited by my pal Arn-Dawg and his family as they conduct their whirl-wind tour of the Pacific Northwest. Arnie and his daughter Rebecca drove from San Fran via Bend, Oregon. Arnie's wife Haley joined us the next day when she flew in and spent a few days with us before venturing up to Priest Lake for a week up there. They had a great week of above average temperatures so I'm sure they enjoyed themselves. From Priest, they head to Yellowstone and more camping.

While here, I learned about Soccer because Arnie is a Soccer fan and the World Cup is going on. We went out to Cd'A to spend the day with another childhood pal, Robba and his clan. It was a great Saturday on the water.

Now we are back to normal here in Spokane but weathering very hot days. It's supposed to get over 100 on Sunday.

I attended two funerals today. The first was for our neighbor, Margie Arndt. She discovered a large tumor on her liver back in May and she died July 2nd. That was a tough one but I'm glad she was able to get out of the hospital and die at home. I'm also glad it happened quickly for her.

The second was for Fred Utter, the father of my friend Rick. Fred was 84 and like Margie, knew the end was coming and made a deliberate decision to allow it to happen. It was a very nice service and I went with Mom. We saw lots of people there that we had not seen in forever.

That's the great thing about funerals. The dead bring the living together.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

S.S.U.'s

It's getting serious now. We are a week away from our Annual Solstice Party. I'm not sure "Annual" is appropriate since we didn't have the party last year.

In any event, we are having it this year, even though it's a week late. It just wasn't going to happen otherwise.

So the pressure is on to get this house and the accompanying grounds up to a state of party readiness. This gauge is measured in Susan Stress Units. So far, we are in pretty good shape with the S.S.U.'s at about 6. Anything above 8 S.S.U.'s is bad for me. That's when I am at my most stupid.

Saturday was a lost day for Susan because she had to work her catering job in the afternoon. She puttered around, did a little more varnishing on the armour, and some cleaning.

As for me, I'm not sure what I did. I think I puttered mostly. I did a little cleaning as well. Oh...I just remembered. I did a massive cleaning of the upstairs balcony. I went so far as to be on my knees with a scrub brush cleaning the tile.

Today was where the cleaning got serious. Susan broke out the vacuum and went to town. I worked in the yard. I edged the whole yard. I cleaned up all the excess edging and then I mowed.

After that, I got to work on the hot tub. I had drained it a while back and it was time for a good cleaning. I wish I would have had the pressure washer from last week. That would have been handy.

So now the tub is clean, the yard looks great and I am beat.

We went to dinner at Webster's, a nearby bar that has $5.00 Happy Hour meals all day Sunday. Susan and I each had a beer and a sandwich and we paid $13.00 plus tip.

Now the day is over and I'm going to bed.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Obligatory Sunday Post

If it's Sunday, it must mean it is time for a post.

It's a cloudy, semi rainy day and we are doing a few odds and ends things. 

A couple weeks ago, Susan got on the project of staining the Armour we bought about nine years ago. It has been a slow process but we are winding it up today. We cleaned out all the stuff in it, and stained the innards. I am working on the shelves.

I brought the power washer home from work on Friday and used it on the deck yesterday.
Look at the difference. I don't think this pictures does it justice. I will have to remember that this needs to be done every year. There was quite a build up of weeds and roof material and general crap in the gaps between the boards. Not to mention how dirty the boards themselves were. You just don't realize it when they are all uniformly dirty.

I drained the hot tub, which was loooong over due. The water was kind of green. Now that the weather has warmed up, we don't use the hot tub as much which means I forget to keep the chemicals current. So, I'll be getting to cleaning that up and out later this coming week when the weather gets better.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Project Day

I had a long list of lots of things that needed to be accomplished yesterday. I kind of got through one of them.

It was essentially a wasted day due to my left knee. 

The saga of my left knee has been thoroughly covered in an alternate blog that details the many interesting facets of my health. If one was to care, and there is no reason one should, one could access www.porkymccorpulent.blogspot.com and check out the entry for November 22nd, 2011. That has the basic info about my knee.

It locked up on me yesterday at about 5AM. It woke me up. This was the longest stretch it has gone before returning to normal. It lasted 26 hours. It was stuck when I went to bed. I got out of bed this morning and felt the stuck knee. By the time I walked down the hall, it was back to normal and I could straighten it, walk on it, hell...dance it with no pain. Now I have a crap load of things to do today and it's already noon.

SHIT!

Project Number One: Remove the crap gutter from above the front door. The gutter I put up last year is a cheapo piece of crap. I have a guy coming tomorrow to professionally put up a full gutter across the front of the house with down spouts.

Project Number Two: Last coat of paint on the backdoor porch.

Project Number Three: Mow!

Project Number Four: Clean the Deck.

Susan had her own projects going which started with making a casserole for our sick neighbor.

Then she got out to the front yard and finished planting the flower beds. She got through the west side one yesterday and finished up today with the eastern one. There is still more to plant but that was a solid days work.


Among the plants she put in, the is a Hasta that we placed some of my sisters ashes under. So that is now the Sherry Memorial Hasta.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Vegetation Report

I'm just going to take a quick moment and comment about my vineyard and hopsyard.
From left to right, you see a Gewurztraminer Grape, a Sterling Hops, a Cabernet Franc Grape, a Hallertau Hops, and a Concord Grape.

I think everything looks really great right now. The hops are growing like crazy and the three grape vines are doing well and already showing signs of grapes to come.

What I really like is the Hallertau and how lush it is. That thing has giant leaves on it and completely covers the post upon which it clings.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Tasks for June One

It's the first day of June so that means it's June First and that means a new month has come forth here on the first day of the Sixth month and I have completely wasted the first paragraph of this post.

Susan is determined to put a strike across the "To Do" list for the Living Room. She is seeking to put some sort of a sealer over the painted stencils to protect them from scratches.

I am working on placing a strike through the back door porch item on the "To Do" list. We've been trying to figure out what type of flooring to put there and we have settled on a thick kind rubberized coating for decks.

Let's see how we do.

11:09 PM: The day is done. Gone the sun, from the lake from the sea from the sky...blah blah blah

Let's start with Susan's project. We purchased a clear varathane sealer in a spray can to try and secure the stenciling for posterity. Susan tried it on the sample tile and was not happy with the result. We both concluded...separately and at about the same time...that the stencils were fine as they are. It's not like we have wild uncontrolled dingo's running through the house.
So, it's official! The Living Room is done!

Here is how the back door looked once Phil completed his work.

I really like the way the rail came out. It now matches the railing on the front porch and the deck.

Before I got to work on the floor, Susan reminded me that it might be wise to get some primer on the railing. I reluctantly agreed that was a good idea. I really wanted to get the floor painted to see how it would look.
The floor is a large piece of half inch plywood with an ever so not so slight angle to it. We thought it should have a slight slope to encourage water to roll away from the porch. Phil made it mostly level with a sudden slope. You kind of feel like you're drunk when you're walking off it.

I've been looking around for some sort of flooring to put down. Short of replacing the tongue and groove planks that were there, there really was no good option I found.

So, we settled for this deck coating paint that goes down really thick and gives you a little grip. Above are the picture of the can and the formula for future reference.
With the railing primed with an initial coat, I finally got to work on the floor. I've only got one coat down so far and I'm not sure I'm going to like this stuff.

I was hoping this would do a better job of concealing the fact that this floor is a piece of plywood. We shall see how it looks after the next couple of coats.

Since Susan finished her stenciling project, she got to work on the flower beds out front.

The day concluded with a Graduation Party for my nephew, Peyton. He graduated a year early from High School and is not sure about what happens next. His brother, Burke, also graduated from College this year and has some plans for the summer that include working as a Counselor at Camp Nor'Wester over on the coast.

Here are some pictures.
 There are the three graduates, Peyton, Burke and Peyton friend, Connor.


This is a tree the kids planted and placed the ashes of their mom (my sister, Sherry) beneath it.

All in all, a good weekend!