Sunday, August 28, 2011

Doing What I Can

I had all these grandiose plans to get things done around the house, but with Hurricane Irene looming, I instead set about clearing the yard of possible projectile objects and mowing the lawn. I recently changed the blade on the mower, which always gives me a bit of anxiety, so it's good to run it few times to know that the thing isn't going to fly off. Scary thought.

Also, since Sunday was slated to be crazy in terms of weather, we had to finish up the dumplings by Saturday, which is a day before we usually do it, thus complicating our lives even more. In addition to stocking up on rations and water, I had to not only make and cook dumplings, but clean up all the pots and pans, as well. Then, I moved all potentially dangerous stuff into the barn, which included my ladder setup on the roof as well as various power tools.

I then mowed the lawn, which badly needed it, and picked up some lumber at a friend's house who said he had plenty and gave it to me free. Thanks M.

Now we sit and wait. The weather is supposed to be nice after the hurricane, so hopefully I'll have the wherewithal to keep my feet moving.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Andrea Kratzenberg for the pic.

Moving On to the Eastside

With the hurricane looming, I've decided to leave well enough alone and move to the other side of the house. I still need to finish painting some of clapboards on the west side of the dormer, but we're talking 30 minutes of work, tops, and the boards are primed. The important part, sealing the side of the house from water, is finished, so I can in good conscience start on the other side. Plus, the work can be finished with just our extension ladder, so I don't need to borrow one from KJ.

With that in mind, I moved the ladders to the east side of the dormer and was ready to start ripping out clapboards to get that flashing underneath, but then decided that rather than get too involved, to break things down in anticipation of the storm. Kind of a bummer, because I was feeling inspired, and now it's going to take some doing to get back on track. Momentum is a funny thing in that way. I think if I'm more careful this time around, I won't have to do as much siding replacement and painting.

I also ran into a complication with the ladders. We have a 28ft extension ladder that goes up about 1/3 of the way, which falls way too short, so I use another ladder that hooks to the roof. The difficulty of this is that I have to borrow someone's ladder. On the east side, there is a vent pipe sticking out, so I can't hook the ladder to the roof. I thought about getting the pipe through the steps of the ladder, but that would be a chore. So I came up with an alternative plan, which was met with much skepticism by the likes of JM and CF. I was going to build an extension with 2X4s and rest it on top of the extension ladder. I figure 8 ft. would be plenty, and then I wouldn't need to hook the ladder over the top.

JM thought I was flirting with disaster, but in the end, I came up with a solution to my solution - I will tie a rope to the top of the wooden extension, and then secure that to a tree or window on the other side of the house. That way, the extension won't slide down the face, taking me with it. I think it will work. For good measure, I could always secure a harness, as well, and might do that, though it's a pain hooking up every time. Better safe than sorry, right?

Just a final note, I think the long term plan for the dormer will involve replacing many of the clapboards and possibly installing a piece of trim, but it's water tight for now.

This should be interesting. Until then, thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

About 75% Finished With One Side

Progress is slow in these parts, but things are moving along. I finally went up on the roof and nailed in the clapboards, thus securing the flashing. As always when dealing with clapboards, I ended up cracking and destroying a few, so they needed to be replaced. This entailed getting the clapboards, and then cutting them to size and installing them. Not always easy to do when you’re standing on the roof and hornets are flying around your head.

Part of the problem was nailing through two piece of flashing, which required some force. I employed the advice of my father in law, RR, and held the nails steady with a pair of plyers as I gave them a good whack. It worked out well. Now the new boards are in, the flashing is secured, and I think it’s fairly protected from the weather. Now I could probably leave it as it is for the Winter, but I figured that since I’m all set up up there, I might was well paint the trim and the clapboards. Just what I need, something else to put off and weigh me down.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

All Hands on Deck

Our deck is pretty fried, though my Mentor doesn’t think it’s bad as I make it out to be, and he would know. I need to fix that hatch door, however, and like everything in my life, I’ve been putting it off. Part of my dilemma is the cost of materials. The deck is cedar, and that stuff is expensive. To replace the deck would cost hundreds of dollars, and that makes me anxious. However, to just fix the door would be a fraction of that cost.

I finally investigated the matter and found that cedar deck boards are not that expensive, at least I don’t think they’re that expensive. About $1/foot, so to replace the door would cost about $50. True, the entire deck would set us back, but that’s not necessary at this point.

I went to Britton’s and got the wood, and I think I’ll be able to pull this off before Winter... yeah, right. HH did tell me that cedar resists rot, but still needs to be treated, so I’ll attend to that this time around. I think I have the stuff to use, the same stuff I used on the front step. It’s a silicone based water proofer that is water based, so not as nasty as some of the products out there. I was going to use it on the picnic table, if I ever get around to fixing that.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Paint It White

After all my efforts to have a nicely stained front step, with a natural wood look, I've finally decided to paint it white, of all things. Had I done this in first place, I probably could have used a cheaper piece of wood, but the step is nice, and will be more durable because of it.

Now the question is, when?

Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Woodpile Grows and TB Calls

Finally got back into splitting and stacking wood, which I really enjoy, as does N. It’s a great way to get something accomplished and hang with my son doing a manly activity. How can you beat that? I’m almost finished relocating the wood blocks, and once that’s done, we’re all set and ready for our next truckload.

There is quite a bit of wood that still needs to be split, and it could take me months to get it all done, but that’s not a problem as long as we have enough to keep us warm over the Winter. The plan is to finishing stacking the second year, and then whatever is left over I’ll stack in the woods uncovered. Then, when Spring arrives, we can just move the split wood over to the dry pile. How’s that for planning? What’s great about it is that it speaks volumes to my firewood OCD.

Also on the wood front, I finally heard from TB, the logger. He hadn’t returned my call for about a week, and he’s generally very professional and reliable, so I figured he was on vacation. Then again, loggers don’t go on vacation during the busy Summer/Fall months, there’s too much to do. Either way, I was ready to start looking for alternates when he finally called and left a message. We were still on, and he said he could get me the wood before Winter, which I had said would be fine. One less thing to worry about.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Almost Done With the Front

Things are cruising long on the home front (literally and figuratively), and though progress is slow, it’s progress, nonetheless. The front entry has been stalled for the past year, and I decided to just bear down and try to finish it. Part of the delay stemmed from the fact that we are going to change the color of the house, and I figured it wasn’t worth it to paint it now and then paint it later. The question is, when are we going to paint it, and what color?

So, I just went for it. I needed to caulk the seams before I could paint, but once that was done, I could begin. Painting short clapboards is a chore when you’re trying not to paint the trim, and I’m a sloppy person, so I’m going to have to re-paint the trim, anyway. Not a bad thing.

I would say the entry is about 90% finished. All I need is finish the trim around the door, and we’re on our way. There is some debate as to whether I should pain the step white. I originally liked the natural wood look, and even went out of my way to get a nice piece of lumber for that purpose, but when I look at it, I think it would look better if it matched the trim. A white step doesn’t seem practical, but what’s practicality got to do with anything?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Got My Paint

My Mentor is going to roll his eyes on this one, but I went to LaValley’s and got more stain for the house, but left my old stain can there. I brought it with me for a color reference when I got a new can, and it was only about 1/4 full, but when I got the new can, I forgot the old one. Part of the problem was that we needed clapboards, as well, and that was on my mind. The reason that is was on my mind is because the boards usually come in 16 foot lengths, which is way too long for our sedan, especially with two kids in the backseat. They will cut the boards to size, but that requires getting someone to help you, which is a chore at LaValley’s because they are not warm and fuzzy over there, and I need warm and fuzzy.

I did luck out and find them in 5 foot bundles of ten, which fit perfectly in the front seat, so much so that I bought two. Now I can fix the clapboards that I destroyed trying to get that stinking flashing in, but don’t get me started.

Anyway, my original point is that it wasn’t worth a trip out to LaValley’s to get a 1/4 full can of paint, but I was so mad that I’d forgotten it there. I was using it, after all. Since we were heading out to get dumpling wrappers and bike grips, I figured a quick stop wouldn’t be the end of the world. So we went, and I got my paint, and now I feel much better.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Painting and Flashing

I finally got around to two projects on the main house, painting the front entry and flashing the dormers. The dormers need to be attended to before Winter, because you don’t want water damage, while the front could be put off for another year, it’s really an aesthetic issue. The problem is, it’s much easier to paint the front because it doesn’t involve getting on the darn roof, which I hate to do, mainly because of all those darn wasps.

I managed to start painting the front, but it takes time because I have to be careful of the trim, which is white, as opposed to the siding, which is purple. I made a mess of it all, and will have to go back and paint the trim white again. It’s taking shape, however. BTW, I forgot to mention that I needed to seal the edges of the siding with vinyl caulk, as well.

The roof was trickier. I had to borrow a ladder from KN to hook over the apex of the roof, and then break out all of our ladders just to get up there. Installing the flashing was a bit of a pain, and I was hoping to avoid removing the clapboards because that never turns out well, but I couldn’t slide the metal up the roof. It kept getting stuck on something, and eventually I had to remove some boards to get it in. I thrashed the flashing a little, but it will work fine, and I’m not going to worry about it.

Of course, now I need to replace boards, and while I’m up there, do some painting. Total bummer, but it needs to be done. This will delay the completion of this project considerably. I’m toying with the idea of removing the wasps nest before I continue, and it’s a huge one. I have nothing against them, but when you’re on the roof and they’re swirling around you constantly, it can be dangerous, and I’d just as soon not have them there. Time to break out the hose. At least it’s cooling off.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Mouse House

I was stacking wood and fixing the cover on the woodpile when I happened upon a mouse nest. There were even little mice in there. They were babies, and they didn’t know what to make of me and just sat and stared. I showed the kids and then covered them back up and left it at that. I’m guessing their almost old enough to leave, which they’ll hopefully do soon before I need to use the wood, or before the cats find them.

I love these nature moments, it makes you appreciate life in the wilds of Vermont. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to aneczka bazant for the pic.

Roof Update

We drove out to Pittsfield, of all places, to get the flashing for the roof. This begs the question, why go all the way out there? The answer is because I needed flashing to match our roof for maximum aesthetic effect, and that was the only place I could find that would cut it to the size I wanted. Apparently these guys (Pittsfield Standing Seam) are famous in contractor’s circles for doing metal roof stuff.

Surprisingly, the drive wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. We had to go to Killington, and it’s good to know that it’s a manageable drive once ski season starts. I even borrowed KJ’s ladder and set up the roof to install the flashing, so things are already moving along, though I had to stop to make dinner, and then get ready for karate, which kind of made me crabby and whine about having no time.

Then again, what else is new? I toyed with the idea of painting while I was up there, but figure I should take it one step at a time. That flashing really needs to be done ASAP.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Thibaut Monot for the pic.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Getting It Done… Sort Of

I’m back on my own in terms of house projects, and I kind of like it that way, sort of makes me feel like the man of steel. Besides, being the professional that she is, I don’t think HH was so into working with me, especially in light of my incompetence. Either way, she’s off to greener pastures and I’m left to fend for myself, which is just how I like it.

With that in mind, I asked JH and his magic bag of tools if he was interested in rekindling our working relationship, and he said yes. It’s much more laid back with him, though perhaps not as profesional, and we tend to have more fun. R is astute to point this out, or more to the point, the lack of progress in terms of building. I guess you just can’t have it all.

One thing is for certain, I think the projects will move along more efficiently now that camps have subsided. Not as much running around or time committments, and I’m glad for that. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had a great summer, it’s just that I went a little nuts carting the kids to their respective activities. No regrets, it’s just nice to get a break.

We’ve obtained the roof flashing, and also I managed to finally caulk the seams on the front door clapboards. I still need to finish the trim work, but at least now I can paint the wood so it looks somewhat normal. The trim work will be a bit tricky, but nothing a table saw and lots of paintable caulk can’t fix.

The yard is in reasonable condition, mowed and trimmed. Now that the days are getting cooler and shorter, I think the grass is growing slower, which is a bonus, because I don’t need more work right now. I’ve contacted BL the plumber, as well as TB for our firewood. Still waiting to hear about our propane contract. Otherwise, we’re moving along into Fall, and I still need to stack about 5 cords of wood.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Erica Johnson for the pic.