Friday, September 30, 2011

Wood - A Family Affair

A couple of weeks back R’s family came for a visit and we managed to get them to help out with the yard work. It helps that the guys were eager to sink their teeth into some real man’s work, especially her brother. I still have several cords of wood that are cut into blocks but need to be split, and both PR and RR were more than happy to jump in. I didn’t even have to ask, they just went for it.

PR in particular was a go-getter, and he must have split at least a cord and a half, maybe two cords. He and N then went about stacking, so the pile is growing. I am firmly convinced that we’ll get the year-2 pile finished before the snow, especially once my elbow heals. Even if it doesn’t, what’s a little pain amongst real men (in training)?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Finishing the Front

We’re moving at a snail’s pace on the front, but at least it’s moving. Not unlike traffic in LA, eventually you’ll get to where you’re going. I would say the front is about 95% done. I just need to get that one piece of trim in below the door, and voila, we have a front porch, sort of. Not so much a porch as a front door, but it has porch-y qualities.

I put the trim in around the door, but there were gaps in between the door and window trim. Originally their were pieces that were flush in between so it looked like one continuous frame, but my brilliant idea was to put in pieces that were recessed a bit, giving it a more dramatic effect. I’m all for more drama in our lives. The problem is, cutting a piece that fits perfectly inside is difficult, but ripping a 7 foot piece that is 1 inch wide is pretty much impossible, especially in my hands. Plus, the table saw scares me.

What I ended up doing was ripping the pieces a little bit small so they would fit in, and then filling the gaps with copious amounts of vinyl caulk. After it dried, I painted it, and it actually looked pretty good. I’m definitely better at doing a sloppy job at first and then going back and making it look prettier. Sometimes this works, other times you only get one chance.

Going back and cleaning it up reminds me a lot of writing, you just get the first draft down and then re-write and edit it until it reads nicely. Amazing how that works.

One last piece of trim to put in, and I think I’ll be finally done with that front step. Hard to believe.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Leaving JH (and his MBoTs) Hanging

I had to bail out on JH last week, though the weather was a contributing factor. With the return to dumplings and the rush to get our school material in to the state, working on the barn had to take a back seat. For the past several weeks I had bailed out on him, though in all fairness, the guy is busy with a ton of stuff himself. Besides working full time, his family owns a cottage over on a lake that took a serious hit from Irene, so he has plenty of work cleaning up and repairing that.

Even still, he said he’s ready to begin working on our projects, it’s just that we are busy on my end. What the heck else is new? This past week, we had vowed to work on the barn, and sure enough, I had a ton of stuff to do. Even with all that, however, I stayed the course and told JH we could meet. Then, the weather actually worked in my favor, and it rained. With the poor weather, we decided to put it off for another week, and see how it goes. He also mentioned that he changed his schedule and could now work on Fridays, so that might work out well.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Penny Mathews for the pic.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making Contact.... Again

I finally got in touch with BL about the plumbing and he said he was going to call me about getting together... yeah, right. In all fairness, I haven’t been as on the ball about this as I could be, so I can’t fault him. Either way, we set up a day in the coming weeks to get together and put in those pipes. I’m still not sure what exactly it will entail, but he seems pretty relaxed about the whole thing, and said it would be easy. Fair enough, I believe him.

This should be interesting. Once we have pipes in, we can think about putting in plumbing and all sorts of good stuff. Me and JH (and his MBoTs) could have our work cut out for us, but that’s what real men thrive on, right? Or at least, in my case, real men in trainging.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Michal Ufniak for the pic.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Getting Level

Inspired by HH, I went out and got a 2 ft. level. It makes a huge difference when working on the soffit, because my 8 inch doesn't do the trick, and the 4 ft. is way too big. I don't want to have all these redundant tools, but this one is really useful. Plus, it only cost about $6 at Home Depot. Enough said.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Next of Kindling

It’s that time of year again, and it should be interesting to see how much wood we go through this year. We may have our wood all cut and split, but let’s not forget about kindling. Can’t get that old fire going without the stuff. In the past, I’ve gone to Britton’s and hoarded the scrap wood, and it was fruitful like you wouldn’t believe. Now they don’t seem to have a scrap box, and in the end, they probably thought I was crazy for grabbing the stuff up. At LaValley’s, when I asked, they tried to take me into the alley and flog me with a 2X4.

Either way, I got so much of the stuff last year, and this year there is none. I have wood from assorted projects, and I have pine logs up the wazoo. It doesn’t do much good lying around outside, however, and at some point I need to start splitting the stuff and store it in the basement. Winter will be here before you know it, and we don’t want to get left out in the cold... no pun intended.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Lori Downing for the pic.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Soffit Progress

Not to sound like a broken record (too late?), but because we didn’t have to spend our days in dumpling hell, I was able to spend a day working on the barn. It was a miserable task, but it sure felt good to get it all done. I have to install a soffit on the back end, and before I do that, I have to install something for the soffit to nail into. I was told that normally you cut the joists so that the soffit attaches directly to that, but no such luck in this instance. Like the front, I was going to have to install a strip of wood spanning the entire distance.

It is easy enough nailing strapping onto the sheathing, but you also have to install it onto the fascia, and because these boards are nailed into the joists, it’s best not to nail the strapping onto the fascia boards because you might knock them out. Does this make any sense?

What this entails is screwing the strapping into the fascia, and even this wouldn’t be so horrible, except that I can’t screw in long pieces of strapping because the joists reach down to low. So, I had to cut about 45 individual pieces of strapping about 14 inches long to fit in between every single joist. To add to the fun, I don’t have a cordless drill, the one I have is a piece of junk, so I had to do all this with an extremely long extension cord.

In the end, I got it done, and it was one of the tasks I was dreading enough that I simply avoided it and hoped it would go away. Then again, that’s how I feel about a lot of things. Next up, cutting the soffit to size and drilling about a million holes in the boards for ventilation. Will the fun ever stop?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Great Weekend Before the Great Weekend

The weekend before the big visit I had a very productive couple of days on the home improvement front, and it all stemmed from one thing - no dumpling making. I can’t stress this fact enough. We missed last week because of the weather, so we had all the dumplings that we’d made all ready to go. This freed us from dumpling hell all weekend, and I was able to get some stuff done around the house.

First off, the lawn. Besides dumplings, it’s been hard to mow the lawn because the weather has been crazy. With all that rain, the lawn is growing wild, and we finally got a break in the weather to coincide from dumpling liberation. Plus, it cooled off a bit. Mowing the lawn in the scorching heat is almost unbearable.

I was also finally able to return to attending to the woodpile. I would say it’s about 20% done. Mind you, this is next year’s wood, so it’s not a rush, but the sooner the better. I made some kindling, as well, of which we had none before this weekend.

So things are moving along, and I’m confident once the dreaded dumplings are done, we’ll be more productive and efficient.

Until then, thanks for reading.

White Out

After thinking it over and consulting with half the population of Vermont, I finally decided to paint the front step, the same one I went to great lengths to get a nice piece of stainable wood so it would look natural. I think in the hands of a seasoned professional with an eye for aesthetics, it would have worked beautifully, but with me, it just didn’t seem to work. I love the look of natural wood, it’s just that somehow it wasn’t meshing.

Painting it white seems to give it more unity, and it will protect the wood a bit more. It’s also beneficial in the hands of a rank amateur as myself because when I paint the clapboards and trim, I inevitably spill paint on the step. Now I can simply paint over my mistakes with white paint. I do much better when I can go back and edit, rather than doing it right the first time. Or, like framing, I can do a sloppy job the first time, and it doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s sturdy, sort of.

Either way, I’m glad that’s been decided. I think the front step is about 95% finished, and it only took about a year. That’s 7 in dog years.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Addressing the Cold

I had this brilliant plan to keep the two front facing rooms warmer, and I have no clue if they’ll work, but they sure sound good in theory. The guest room and our bedroom are much colder than the rooms on the back of the house, for a number of reasons. First off, the back faces south, so it gets a lot of sunshine. Second, the back is directly above the stove, so it gets heated the most. And finally, and I could be wrong about this, but the back wall is better insulated.

The reason I think this last point is true is because the front rooms are doghouse dormers that have knee-walls that are part of the slant of the roof. I know there’s insulation in there, but also know that a roof must allow cold air to vent through it in order to work properly. For anyone in the know (my Mentor, JH and his magic bag of tools, PR, etc.) this is important because it keeps the attic cold.

In this knee wall, there is a book shelf in each room, and the bottom shelf has no backing, so it is essentially exposed to the roof. I keep assorted clothes on this shelf, including underwear or shirts, and I’ve noticed that when I put them on in the Winter, it’s like putting ice cubes on. They’re freezing.

Through a rigid process of deduction, I concluded that this is contributing to the cold in the rooms. My plan, of course, is to seal up that hole. I’m not sure why it wasn’t done in the first place, so I could be screwing things up, but it’s worth a try. I need more projects to feed this blog.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Raja R for the pic.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What Deer Fence?

We installed a deer fence way back when to stop the deer from decimating our garden, and it worked for a few years. Now that the gardening season is coming to a close, R is less stringent about keeping the garden sealed, so a deer wandered in and started snacking.

It saw us and tried to run, but felt trapped inside the garden. The gate was open, but the animal was in a panic and wasn't thinking straight. Instead of exiting through the door, it simply jumped over the deer fence. We were all watching it, and after it happened, N said, "Dad, the deer just jumped over the deer fence."

So much for that. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to ARL for the outstanding pic.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Working on the Roof

I’ve about finished the other side of the back dormer, and I would say it’s about 75% complete, enough to where if I left it at that, it would be no worse of than before I started working on it. The flashing is in along the edge, so it’s more water protected than before, it’s just that some of the clapboards took a beating and need to be replaced. The problem is, the ones that got destroyed are at the top of the roof, where the dormer meets the apex of the house.

Not only is this the hardest and scariest section to be standing on, but it’s also where the darn hornets have made their nest. I’ve also concluded that my setup is not that good, and I don’t feel safe up there, so I’m going to have to come up with another solution. I may be able to get the other ladder over the vent pipe after all, it just will take a little patience and maneuvering. I feel more comfortable when the ladder is hooked over the roof, it’s a lot less scary.

For now, we’ll see how much I’ll get done. I’m somewhat complacent with the fact that the flashing is in, though I don’t want to flake out and let this project die a slow death.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Decked Out

As per HH’s advice, I treated the wood on our deck and am in the process of fixing the hatch door. She told me that even though cedar resists rot, it still should be protected against water. I’m guessing that a stain or water sealant was in order, but which one? As it turns out, I have a silicone based water sealant that I used on the front step, and lots of it. I love when that happens.

I got some cedar deck boards to fix the hatch door but figured I’d treat the wood before assembling it, and then I treated the rest of the deck. I’m hoping this will protect it, because that deck really takes a beating from rain, snow, and sun. On the other hand, the cedar boards were not as expensive as I had originally thought, not that I want to replace the whole thing, but if it came down to that, it wouldn’t be as horrendously painful as I imagined.

For now, I think it looks pretty good. Once that door is finished, we are ready to move on with our lives. Until then, thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Real Man’s Work

During the storm a tree actually fell onto our driveway. I knew it was coming down at some point because not only was it dead, but it was leaning against a big pine and I could tell that it was just a question of time. Sure enough, when the rains came, we saw it lying across the driveway. Fortunately, we didn’t have to be anywhere, and noticed it when we were going for our walk.

This, of course, gave me a chance to do some real-man’s work. I had to dust off my chainsaw, which I had prepared for Winter storage by running the tank dry and putting it in the basement. The day before I got some fresh gas, and kept it handy just in case of such an event. How’s that for foresight?

I added the oil and filled up the tank, and then walked down the driveway and started cutting. The wood is old hemlock so the saw cut through it like butter, though I screwed up and cut through to the dirt, which is the kiss of death for the sharpness of your chain. Oh well, time to break out the Dremmel sharpener.

What was great about it was that as I was cutting, at least a dozen trucks drove by and I got to show them that actual real-man’s work gets done over at our house... not that isn’t obvious, of course.

I might even be able to use the wood for kindling, but that’s yet another project, for another time.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Done With The Garden

When I say done, I don’t just mean for this season, I mean for good. I'm talking a big no thank-you. I just don’t have the green thumb thing going, and at some point, we just give up on the whole idea. When our crops finally do ripen, we usually don’t make the most of it because by that time, we’re so burned out on trying to battle weeds and critters that all we want is for Fall to arrive. Then again, come next Spring, we may sing a different tune. It's been known to happen.

People talk about their love for gardening and how they love to spend time out there, but I can’t say I completely relate. I love being outside and working, but the whole gardening thing just doesn’t speak to my sensibilities, or should I say our sensibilities. Some people just do it better than we can, and maybe it’s better to just pay them for their talents.

With that in mind, we’ve finished harvesting the garden and R has left the gate open to let nature run its course. Despite a load of effort, we really didn’t have a bounty of a harvest. The tomatoes are still plodding along, and the corn was about four inches long, though for the record, it was really good. We have cucumbers, but I don’t feel that inspired to pickle, though the kids are bugging me to do it. They enjoy the process because yours truly ends up doing most of the prep and cleanup.

We’re not sure what we’ll do next year, we always seem inspired come Spring, but I personally wouldn’t be heartbroken if we just planted some flowers and let things unfold as they will.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Daino_16 for the pic.