Monday, September 21, 2009

A quick update on That House

Today I have to find a contractor and also convince City Guy to pay for a concrete retaining wall... hey, he said this is a terrible danger that could get my house condemned, so it isn't routine maintenance, right? Tis an urgent emergency by his own words, right? So no long wait on the maintenance list, right? By his own words...

Anyway, our friend the mason says that a concrete retaining wall would take all the stress off the bricks and then we could just re-lay the bricks under the window, instead of actually taking the whole wall apart and then rebuilding it. From the ledge (inside floor level) up, the walls are fairly straight; they only bow out below the ledge. He says unbuilding-n-rebuilding will take a VERY long time and not be finished before the cold weather sets in, but building the concrete wall will get the whole job finished quickly.

The reason I have to do a sales job is that I already asked about building a concrete retaining wall and City Guy said it wasn't necessary... but hey yanno, he thinks my mason is a man, so maybe now he'll listen.

Please wish me good luck?

And now I have to get off the puter--big thunderstorm rolling through!

Cath, fully prepared to shamelessly beg for City Guy's help

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On my way out the front door what do I see, but that the Self-Installing Cat Accessory Program has initiated again. Module Three is running the "Queen of All She Surveys" Application on the "Steal Mom's Chair (and heart)" Platform.

Isn't she gorgeous? Over the past year she's darkened from a silver tabby with light ginger accents to a grey tabby with lots of caramel. Her fur is just scrumptious!

Having our own oak tree makes me happy; seeing it set acorns makes me happier yet! How exciting! This is the street tree that the city planted about ten years ago.

Next up, Elf Footprints...

These ugly mushrooms have popped up again, this time not under the oak tree but across the sidewalk in our front yard proper. Usually mushrooms look pretty to me; I don't know why I think these are so ugly, but they're just plain flat unappetizing! Sheesh.

Is it Wichita? Or is it just me? Last year my peppers didn't really produce until fall, and now this year here we go, the season has turned and once again the plant is finally loaded with blossoms and new fruit!

These two are growing about as slowly as peppers can grow. I'm very tempted to harvest them now and let the plant put its energy into the new fruit.

This is what I found when I went out to water the lilac.

Yikes! That is SOME mildew! At first I thought maybe we had splashed the plant with the rinse water from a paintbrush, but no--tis mildew. It hit every lilac in the neighborhood, and is also widespread on all the weeds in the back yard.

*sigh* I cut the stem off that ivy over two months ago, and it's still growing strong. Evidently it really IS that humid in Kansas, Dorothy...

A visitor.


Maybe a resident.


Maybe a well-fed resident.

It DOES occur to me that something has been chewing up the raspberry vine.

Sometimes weeds are just... charming. These little lavender daisies just steal my heart! And I LOVE the contrasting greens!

Till next time, adieu from That Yard!

a MOST horrendous growling...

I was on my way out the door to water the lilac when I heard a MOST horrendous growling. What on earth? So I peeked into the bedroom.

Well, that seems pretty quiet, right? So out I headed again, only to be stopped by a MOST horrendous growling....

What I could NOT see? A cat making itself tiny, all snuggled into a pile of dirty laundry on the other side of the room.... sheesh! What a brat this doglet can be!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pics of the damage to the brick wall

These pics are to show the damage caused when the wall bowed out and the bricks took a tumble... the pics are from April and since then, the problem has continued. The wall is more noticeably bowed out now--although we caught the next batch of bricks before they tumbled, and propped them up.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

That House gets a snow jo---er, paint job

Hello again! Well, it's been a busy time for us at That House. Gryph had Labor Day off work and so we labored Sunday and Monday both. It's been slow going and we'd really like to get a paint sprayer to do the walls. In the meantime, here are a few pics of our progress!

This first pic is of the "vinyl siding" which gave Our Intrepid Heroine such a headache.

Here we are with the paint job almost finished. The teeny pocket garden there looks lusher than it should, since The Redbud Which Will Not Die has once again leafed out all over the geranium. The tall plant is our eggplant and the one in the bucket is our blueberry.

They all got a shot of fertilizer Monday, as did the bell pepper and lilac on the other side of the steps.

And now *ta-daaa!* what happens when a Gryph still has paint in the bucket! We'd both been wanting to get rid of that strange Not-Taupe-Not-Brown color on the concrete cap of the wall.

Look! Ohhhh so clean looking! I confess, when I brought our drinks, I made Gryph set them down on a plastic bag as if it were a coaster... lol!

Funny how you never know just how dirty your old paint looks until you start adding new paint; I would have sworn I lived in a white house, and that the new paint was NOT white but cream colored.... huh.... the new paint sure looks white to me now! Talk about having it all backwards!

Our painting was interrupted Monday because we had a visitor. We found this little being clinging to the inside of the porch railing, sheltered from the wind. It was just a little bigger than my thumbnail, and to me the spots looked like polka dots. How astonishing to see that they're actually triangular! And don't you just love the fringe on the wings? Reminds me of an old-time cowboy's leather jacket!

So. Gryph was quite enthusiastic about continuing on with the paint, and now we know at last what color I actually bought when I was forced to choose a stock color at the paint store. This blue is called Magic Wand and Gryph absolutely LOVES it.

Me, well... I have this feeling I'll soon be living inside a giant blue and white ice cube! Eeeep!

One of the joys of life? Being outside with your people, watching while they do incomprehensible, bad-smelling things, lol!

So. While Gryph and Lady were holding down the fort out front, I was working in the back. We have ivy everywhere, and it's really bad for the house; we've pulled it down but of course it comes back. I had finally decided that I would just have to buy some brush killer and spray all the ivy that's on the house walls.

So here I am painting away, priming the back porch and rails, totally concentrating on what I'm doing, and a skeeter brushes against my shoulder. I brushed it away and went back to painting. The feeling came again, a soft brush against my shoulder. This time I looked... and found the ivy brushing ever so gently against my shoulder.... and in my mind I heard, "Mother?"

*THUD* Okay, not only is it pretty unusual for me to hear my plants--even though I of course talk to them, lol--but to be asked if I am The Mother, the new nurturer and caretaker of the place, by a plant I have long since decided to poison?!

This certainly brings new meaning to the phrase, "toxic parent/child relationships" don'cha think? *blinking* And how am I to deal with the guilt now???

Well, I finished priming--the Great Guilty IvyQuestion had to wait for another day--and looky there--now that really IS white, blinding, glaring, white, lol....

The white you see around the door is weatherstripping-type foam sealant, btw; I filled gaps around the door frame and then sealed the bottoms of all the mudroom windows as well.

Coming back around to the front, we were nearly done for the day when I happened to notice a leaf being chewed on the lilac!! It's still recovering from Oscarpillar and cannot afford to lose any leaves.... well, sure enough, OscarMoth left us an offspring.

Gryph was absolutely jaunty, excited as a kid to be given another caterpillar to raise. "This time the caterpillar needs a girl name!" and nothing would do but Petula, after Petula Clark the singer.

Well, I confess, although PetulaPillar is MIGHTY small, she is also QUITE voracious.

Look what she did to that leaf! And so when I mention her, I say "PtooiePillar!"

Gryph says, "PetuLApillar!"

And of course, I respond, "that's what I said. PtooiePillar."

Hrumph. My lilac may never be safe!!


One last pic today--here is why I didn't post on Tuesday. This coffee canister (39 ounce--the big one!) is normally a "saucer" of sorts for the lilac, but I pulled the lilac out when I fertilized it Monday and just didn't get around to putting it back into the canister.

Then it rained nonstop from 1 a.m. Tuesday morning until 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, and continued raining off and on all night and into this morning. This is what I found when I walked the doglet.

Flabbergasted is the only way to describe this Desert Rose's reaction... simply flabbergasted. Sitting out in the open, nothing over it to funnel the water or anything... the coffee canister is full of water that came out of the sky one drop at a time.....

.....I'm simply flabbergasted.

My fancy expensive supplies....

The big doily on four little white towels, t-pinned to a big piece of cardboard... hey, nuthin' but the best fer me! *cheeky grin*

Friday, September 4, 2009

Seen in the Walgreen's parking lot...

...two enormous shiny black SUVs evvvvver so slowly and carefully backing toward each other, for all the world like beetles about to mate....

.... ah. So that's where VW bugs come from. *eyebrow waggle*

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Modern Art!!

Incident with Dog and Paint Can

Monday, August 31, 2009

A Moment of Horrified Silence

Ah Gentle Reader, today we encounter our Intrepid Heroine as she realizes it is the last sunny day but one before an entire week of Autumn rains. What does this say to her? Time To Paint, of course!

Having already patiently primed the porch rails and washed off the upper boards, Our Intrepid Heroine at last turns her attention to the object she has been waiting for--yes, Trim Paint! That soft and lovely vanilla cream color, all satiny in the can, oh anticipation, you are about to be fulfilled!

And so Our Intrepid Heroine gathers a spiffy brand new paintbrush, the plastic pouring lid *one size fits all gallons* and a gallon of paint, and trundles them outside along with the doglet. Fastening the doglet's leash to an out-of-the-way rail, she sets to with great excitement, and Opens The Can, then places the plastic pouring li... *ahem* then places the plast... well, it seems that "one size fits all" is no more true for gallon cans than for clothing!

Placing the plastic pouring lid aside for later Return and Exchange, Our Intrepid Heroine gazes adoringly into the paint can.


Acrylic paint certainly separates more than oil-based paint, Gentle Reader, but being Intrepid, Our Heroine stirs with a will *and a paint stick* until she has the most amazing, creamy, so-thick-the-paint-stick-stands-completely-upright-in-it, delicious looking creamy paint... almost, she thinks, like frosting, and she cannot wait to try it out!

Ahhhhh... feel the glide of the paintbrush, smoothing that luscious Trim Paint over the primer coat. Ahhhhh... see the gloss of the paint as it melds together. Ahhhhh... enjoy the rhythm of the work, so much easier than the primer was.

What's this? It seems, Gentle Reader, that we have come already to the rail where the doglet is! That's alright; we'll go around her. Painting merrily, we make great headway around the porch, until a neighbor stops by to say hello. Oops! It seems the doglet is not pleased with his presence. Ooops! It seems the leash goes farther than we thought. Oooooops! It seems we have some 'splainin' to do, Lucy! Our intrepid heroine grabs a handy painting towel!

Excuse us, Gentle Reader, we shall be right back.

Ahem, now, where were we? Ah yes, the smearily spotted doglet is now unhappily barricaded on the other side of the front door. T
hinking to herself that she might as well have done it in the first place, Our Intrepid heroine has now painted the area formerly left undone in order to prevent the spotting of doglets. Hrumph.

Ahhhhh... but see how the paint has covered the wood! See all the progress! See how it looks just like....

Er. Just like....


Notice, Gentle Reader, that after the multiple coats of Patient Oil-based Priming, and the smooth application of lovely satiny Acrylic Trim Paint, Our Intrepid Heroine has successfully turned her natural, rough-cut cedar porch rails into... yes.... wait for it.... oh yes indeed.....
vinyl siding.

There will be no pictures of this miracle of modern science today, Gentle Reader, because Our Intrepid Heroine refuses to let go her forlorn hope that possibly the paint will do as acrylic paint so often does, and change colors as it cures.

And now if you will excuse us, Gentle Reader, Our Intrepid heroine has a headache and is going to go lay down.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Quiet Time

Quiet time... or What I Did This Summer....

This is a mat from Treasures in Crochet, Book 296 from Coats and Clark, 1981. It isn't named, although I think of it as the optical illusions mat. These are nine lucky-clover-shaped motifs joined together; see in the center it looks like four circles? I didn't crochet any circles. Makes me smile! The mat was a special request from Gryph, who saw the pattern on the cover of the booklet and asked for it. Someday there may be more motifs added, but for now I am on to Yule gifts.

The main doily hasn't been blocked yet and REALLY needs it--tis the center of a round tablecloth, extremely lacy, and bigger than I can smooth out without a blocking board. It's actually what took up most of my crocheting time this summer, before I made Gryph's mat. Once I block it, there will be a pic.

I'm calling this one "Gothic Arches" because the original name really didn't suit it. It's from a free 1947 pattern I found called "Spiderweb Lace" that I cannot find now *blink* who knew it could disappear in a week? Well, anyhow, here are two sites for free patterns.

This edging was QUITE the challenge for two reasons. The first was that the publisher evidently assumed a high skill-and-experience level on the part of the crocheter, and the second is that it was meant to be sewn into fabric--most likely pillowcase seams. Giving it finished edges on the sides was a challenge, and so was getting it to block properly.

The way the pattern was written, the center loops are done first, then the entire bottom half is done, turning each row and working back and forth. Then the top half is done in the same manner. It was extremely awkward and I wasn't satisfied with the way it came out, especially since, in order to make the 7-chain strands arch properly the pattern called for "long treble crochets" to make the fans.

Now I ask you, who can keep the gauge consistent, motif to motif, row to row, top to bottom, when it calls for something so nebulous?! So I rewrote the pattern.

It wasn't exactly successful. *wry smile*

You can see that my attempt to make the 7-chain strands arch properly was not best served by the changes I made--look how those motifs skewed! I used double trebles to keep the gauge consistent, but I also worked in rounds rather than back and forth.... and you can see that I didn't realize I had an even number of loops in time to correct it. (That's an easy fix when you're working back and forth; you just undo the few extra stitches when you come to them.)

I think the worst problem with this experiment is through the center. One reason the motifs skewed the way they did is that the center is rigid and has no give to it. As far as I can tell, that's because I worked in rounds.

So, in the version which is on my hook now, I am making the center loops my way, a long row of them to fit my desired measurement (and definitely an odd number, I counted twice!) and I am working back and forth in rows, but instead of "long treble crochets" I am using quadruple crochets. We'll see if I have to take this one apart as many times as I did the other two!

Oh! And I bought "Cebelia" thread from DMC.... ohhhhh my.... I have never used such nice thread before! Now I see what the price difference is about... no fuzziness, no splitting, just smooth tight thread all the way. Tis like heaven!

Friday, August 28, 2009

long, long summer

I was sick for most of the summer, unfortunately, but I did manage to get the porch rails primed. I've washed off the inside boards around the porch ceiling (what DO you call those, anyway?!) and we have just two more boards to scrape and prime before we start painting with the trim color, cream.

We do still have to wash off the house walls and caulk the cracks (there's a special mortar caulk for brick walls) before we can start painting the house itself. The body color will be a very pale blue.
It doesn't show very well in this pic, but I've started priming the back porch and rails also.

We had the roof patched this week--big relief! Now we can start on patching the wall where the bricks fell.

It's funny about walking the doglet. When I lived in Phoenix, I always walked on the sidewalk and she walked in the grass--it was almost always dry. When Gryph and I lived in apartments here, I walked on the sidewalk and lady walked in the grass. Even if the grass was wet, my feet stayed dry.

Now we have a house and I walk her in the yard.

The WET yard.

In my little canvas shoes.

Aren't weeds funny things? These think they are flowers. Dunno what they're called, but they tried to eat our gas meter... not so good! Anyhow, I take them down periodically with a weedeater, but dang... they come back thicker than ever! How come veggies don't do that?

No matter what it looks like, I promise you this next pic is not of Autumn leaves. Those are mushrooms!
And that wasn't all of them, either; they were scattered in a diagonal spread near the oak tree. Makes me wonder if a dead log stayed there for several years! Anyhow, when these get broken open, they're a sickly sulfur yellow.

Know what this is? Amazingly enough to me, it's ivy blossoms! I didn't know it would do that!

Here's another pic to give you an idea of the scale. We thought this tree was dead because it was so smothered in ivy, but it leafed out and grew vigorously this year.

I owe you pics of the rest of what I've done with my summer, but I want to block them first. I'm happy to say I have two Yule gifts finished already, except for the blocking! And while it's been nice to have hours for uninterrupted crocheting, I really do hope that Fall's cooler temps will allow me to get back to work on the house repairs and painting.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ladybug on the front steps

Eeeep! No wonder she's so hot all the time! Poor furbaby is really furry again...

Plans for That House

Yesterday I spent some time talking to the Handyman. He reminded me that duct tape will buy me some time on a leaking drain pipe, so I've got that on my mental to-do list.

He was pretty blunt with his opinion about the inspector requiring we get a licensed contractor to repair the brick wall. Like me, he believes she overreacted, since the wall is a decorative facing and not structural at all. We have plans to put outdoor cabinets and a gardener's workbench in where the bricks fell out, so that the structural wall is protected from the elements and I have the outdoor storage I need for the lawn mower and my gardening tools.... but he has to get a licensed contractor to work with us on that, and it means a higher price. *sigh* Still, he's willing to work with us on a payment plan and that is absolutely wonderful. His goal is to do the work we need done at a fair enough price that in the end, our house's value is increased more than we had to pay him for the work. I suspect we'll be keeping him and his crew busy for a long time to come.

We qualified for the weatherization program but we have to get the roof fixed first, and probably also will have to get the brick wall fixed, since the acceptance letter said "major repairs" had to be done before they would help us. It's okay because the waiting list is six to twelve months now.

In order to get the roof fixed, we have to apply for the emergency repair program. They do roofs. We'll qualify--it's income based--but I don't know if they have any funds left right now.

My first garden is in, teensy though it may be. One eggplant, one strawberry, and two geraniums now live next to the front steps. Herbs and raspberry vines are still to go. The Mystery Shrub may be a Mock Orange (Philadephus). I am utterly enchanted whatever it is, because it's STILL opening new blooms and the old ones last for days, so that small section of fence is filling with lush white fragrance!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Making Progress

Things are humming along here in That House; we were approved for help with new paint; we've applied for weatherization help; the electric company automatically applied the deposit to all bills; the rose on the side fence burst into pink-petaled glory; another completely unknown to me shrub burst into intoxicatingly beautiful fragrant white bloom. Yesterday Gryph moved the heaviest boxes for me and suddenly we both have reading material AND there is open floor space in the dining room!

We've picked up a couple of garden tools and some seeds and soil at Home Depot, and I have started laying out my first garden bed: along the front of the front porch, eastern exposure, part sun part shade. Neighbor called the city to trim her street tree, a green ash that had many dead limbs, and I was lucky enough to get the biggest branches and plenty of leaves. The branches will be the walls of my raised bed and the leaves will give me organic matter. One of the new tools is called a Garden Hound (think generic Garden Claw) and I am going to be turning soil as I can today. We have some newspaper to use as a mulching layer and three bags of topsoil to cover the whole thing.

I was highly amused at myself to check out my seed packets last night and discover that I have three packs of cilantro seed and four of basil seed; any guesses on my favorite herbs? lol! I also have doubles on carrots and green beans.

I don't know what summer gardening will be like in this yard; I don't know if it will be too hot for peas and spinach or not, but I'm going to try them--tis the only way to find out, and gardening's always a crap shoot anyhow. If you don't take a risk, you don't win.. and planting seeds is about as risky as I get, lol...

I know, I know... I have this image of myself as highly risk-averse, and here I go haring off to be with someone I met online, and then we buy a house that is falling down.... and somehow those don't change my basic self-image as someone who is risk-averse, lol....

Monday, May 18, 2009


Today we had a glorious surprise, a fragrant white flower on a shrub I (once again) have never seen before. Kansas is fun! The last one was flowering quince; I have no idea what this one is, just a vase-shaped delicate shrub about six feet high, growing on the fence on the north side of the yard. It has a scent like a fine perfume, sweet, complex, and altogether intoxicatingly beautiful!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Aaaack--it's been way too long!

Please forgive me! I am shocked once again at how long it's been since I posted!

We are here; we have completely moved and we live in That House now. We've even had out of state company twice! Several family members have come to spend weekends with us. I cannot BEGIN to say how gratifying it is to finally have enough space to allow a thing like that to happen! *big beaming grin*

The bad news is that we still don't have a working kitchen sink, the bathroom sink leaks into the basement, and the diverter is stuck so we can't use the shower, only the bathtub--but hey, at least we do have running hot and cold water!

I am still very worried about the brick wall on the south side of the house. It will be quite a while before we can get it repaired, since that means taking it down completely, scraping the mortar off all the bricks, and having a mason re-use the bricks to rebuild the wall. The cheapest bid we got was $10,000 and that is way out of our reach right now.

I've begun telling the rain to go away every time it threatens, because having a river in the side yard is not good for that wall at all--and it has rained so much that water is now seeping into the basement. Dry days are my friends. Hot windy dry days are my saviors! As the water evaporates out of the yard, it also seeps back OUT of the basement.

I bought a fridge that was too big to go through the kitchen doorway, so we punted... it lives in the dining room. The washer and dryer are still on layaway and when they are delivered, they'll have to come in through the mudroom--which is okay by me since that's where they're going to live! The fridge is big and the washer and dryer are heavy duty, because I'm planning for lots of company.

We have more weeds than grass in the yard, and I'm all excited to see if the violet-looking weeds in the back yard really are violets. The ones in the front yard surprised me no end by sending up a weedy yellow flower that wasn't a violet at all. We also have henbit, dandelions, and miner's lettuce as far as I can tell.

The big trees in the back are maples.

Last night a young yellow-crowned night heron came to visit our backyard and caught bugs for dinner; we were thrilled to see it!

Forgive the blurriness of the pic; we were afraid the bird would fly away if we opened the back door, and so the pics were taken through the window without a flash. Tis a young bird; the full adults are a bluer gray with streaks rather than spots on their backs, and in breeding plumage they have long white feathers coming off their heads and draping down over their backs.

I admit I was completely enchanted! A heron... a HERON... in MY backyard! *big beaming grin*

We aren't unpacked yet and the place is a mess; we moved in without finishing the floors (I pulled forty more nails out of the living room floor the third day we were here) and it startles me that we can live like this... but yanno, we can, we are, and everything will be okay: we're Home now.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Moving Progress

The Deed came in the mail. Dang, they sure don't make 'em official looking like they used to... Ours has--I kid you not--an adhesive label on it from the county. So much for fancy, lol....

So far we have taken several loads over, three in the Interstate Space Vehicular Transport Media, and one in the Matchbox Car. *thank you, dear ones!!*

As of today, That House now has a set of plastic shelves (filling in on Kitchen Duty, but soon to be doing its permanently assigned Mudroom Duty); a lawnmower to go with the weed-eater (yayness! no tickets from the city!! amazing Weed Powers that yard has!), a DVD rack for Gryph's movies (with the DVDs in it), and a bookshelf, plus numerous boxes and bags of Stuff, including books. Five boxes have even been unpacked and brought back to the apartment for re-filling.

Oven cleaner has been sprayed in the oven and is awaiting wet sponges. I left the window open--took a temporary screen over--so I do have to go back and shut the window, but mowing the lawn is out of the question for today. I'm just worn out.

Gryph has the bigger pipe wrench now. The faucet is still not replaced, although a new one was gifted to us. We need a different size wrench to get the old faucet out--one that will fit in the space up under the counter and loosen the nuts on the supply lines. This may take a while.

We have a "new" lamp also, big heavy clunky green thing, and it just makes me laugh. Pixie pointed out that it matches the upholstery on the antique chair; the lamp has a couple of the shades of green in it that are accent colors in the chair... so I thought Our Friend of the Floors had the lamp in her living room and got tired of it. Gryph found it out on the curb and grabbed it for me... come to find out, it was one someone else had given her, and not hers at all!

It won't stay green. I'm thinking black spray paint is my friend. I love that black-accented-with-gold look and already have two lamps done that way; then it will just need a white shade and we'll be good to go.

I keep looking around wondering what on earth to do next. This tiny apartment is so cluttered that I don't even begin to know where to start.... especially since That House is sooo not ready for anything.

Maybe what I need to do is go over, finish the oven, shut the window, wash out and line the cupboards so my kitchen stuff can go over... that would be easy enough to pack, but I really don't want to get into it unless I have a good place to put it... and of course once the food and dishes are in the cupboards, the boxes can come back here for the next load.

Yep. I think that's what I have to do.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I got asked for a wish list...

I got asked for a wish list.... it's HUGE but here is a start. None of these things have to be new, especially the furniture. Our favorite pieces are the ones we've rescued right before they hit the trash, anyhow... yanno, solid wood and just needed cleaned.
~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~

We need a washer and dryer.

We need a new kitchen faucet, or repair parts for the old one.

Gryph needs a bigger pipe wrench!

We need smoke detectors.

We need a spool of trimmer string for our Weed Eater (Electra Lite 9)... and who knew that would be hard to find?!

We need garden tools, everything from "diggers" to "rakers" to "cutters" lol.

We need a snow shovel.

We need a storage shed for our lawnmower (which is coming none-too-soon, oh my word, the weeds are growing fast!!); a plastic knock-together one would do, just some way to shelter the mower from the weather (and from greedy eyes).

We need a heavy-duty 100-foot outdoor extension cord for the lawnmower and for power tools.

We need fencing for the back yard--one stretch across the back of the property, and two gates at the sides of the house--so that the doglet can run free and strangers will stop cutting through the property.

We need a wet-dry shop vacuum.

We need floor wax for the wood floors. We considered polyurethane, but the manager keeps refinishing various apartment floors in the building with it and I get sicker from the fumes every time, so wax seems like a much better idea. It fits the 1920s era of the home better anyhow.

We need a bed for the guest room--at least queen sized--and linens for it.

We need a dresser for the guest room and a dresser for Gryph. He's been using a Rubbermaid storage cabinet as a dresser long enough... and then I can put that storage cabinet in the mudroom for garden and household supplies.

We need new sheet vinyl for the kitchen and mudroom.

We need a sander--borrowed or bought, either one--to sand the porch railings front and back.

We need handrails for the basement steps, the upstairs steps, and the back porch.

We need curtains and curtain rods for the windows--most of the windows are 42 to 45 inches across; some are 36 inches.

We need six drawer pulls for the built-in linen cabinet; you can still see that once it had the bin-type pulls on it.

We need shelf paper or better yet permanent liner for the linen cabinet drawers and for all the kitchen cabinets and drawers.

We need a Webster for dusting, because I truly cannot reach the tops of the windows, let alone the high corners of the rooms.

We need ladders that are rated for big people, metal step ladders and extension ladders.

We need a big tub and potting soil for the seed taters, which as of yesterday have split the bag open because their sproutage WILL not be denied.

We want a bigger toolbox for Gryph's tools.

We want a freezer, a clothesline, and a compost bin.

We want a bread machine, a toaster, a food dehydrator, and a blender.

We want a couch or loveseat.... or eventually, both!

We want a better computer desk.

We want a file cabinet.

We want more and better bookshelves. (I drool over glass-front shelves and cabinets---no cats can get in to knock things down! You would not believe how often our books hit the floor.)

We want a china cabinet--again, glass-fronted, and for the same reason! (At least books don't break when they hot the floor... eeek...)

We want a bigger dining room table with chairs (our small table only seats four and we want to put it on the front porch along with the patio chairs we've been using in the apartment).

Eventually, we want all new kitchen cabinets and appliances. I think that might be pretty far down the road though.

Our colors are all Autumn colors; our white is soft white or oyster white. Our style is definitely vintage/antique.... "Our Beauty" is a 1952 Singer sewing machine in a lovely small drop leaf cabinet with turned legs, and she will have pride of place in That House right next to a 1930s era chair Our Friend of the Floors *lol* gave us.

The only real stylistic difference Gryph and I have is that I am very much the romantic florals type person, and he is um... well... very much NOT. (Someone once gave him a floral dishtowel and it eventually ended up under the coffee pot to catch drips, the floral parts conveniently hidden from his aching eyes, lol.) So we've decided instead of flowers, we will decorate with a natural theme, seashells, feathers, stones, leather, wood, plants, animals, northwoods designs... sort of a country-lodge-in-the-city look. (Luckily, I absolutely love plaids, lol.)

It fits because the driving ideals of the Craftsman Era were to bring nature indoors, to use natural building materials, and to emphasize the handmade. It also fits because of his Native American heritage and because of our Paganism, a win-win situation all the way around, yanno?

We really couldn't have found a better house for us, even though she's falling apart, than our lovely little 1920 Craftsman Bungalow.

cleaning That House

Our friend up the street decided to wash the kitchen floor the other evening. Mind you, I have already washed it up SIX times.... started out with a scrub brush and eventually completely used up the mop with the Magic Eraser sponge on it.

So there she was on her hands and knees, and she scrubbed that thing for the seventh time... the water came up opaque brown again and again and again! I wasn't surprised but I WAS shocked, lol... I knew the floor wasn't clean yet but dayum, I thought I had gotten more dirt off it than that!! How the heck much dirt can a white floor HOLD?

After she wore out *lol* I decided that since she had not been able to completely get the dishsoap up when she scrubbed it either, I would take my new $2.50 mop from the Habitat ReStore and just do a good rinse. It started out okay (sheesh, though, there was yet MORE dirt on that floor!!)... but when I was only halfway through the mopping, the mop fell apart!! Brand new Rubbermaid mop, and the black rubberizing came off the squeeze handle--I put it back on, no big deal--but then the sponge fell off the mophead!! Mind you, the sponge ASSEMBLY didn't come out of the mop... just the sponge itself came off, and no way to put it back together. I guess you cannot use a Rubbermaid mop with hot water; it must dissolve the glue... who knew? Who knew? *sigh* So now I have to replace both mops, and I cannot find replacement heads for my scrubby mop (already looked), so I really hope the Rubbermaid mop will take a generic refill! After all, I still have the mudroom, the bathroom, and the entryway to mop.

While our friend was scrubbing the kitchen floor, I tackled more of the bathroom walls. They went from grunge to white... I was SO happy! The part of the tub I wiped down also went from grunge to white, this time not softly off-white like the walls, but sparkly shiny bright white. Now if only I could get the whatever-the-heck off the toilet lid (roofing tar?!), I would be SOOO happy! More comes off each time I scrub it, but I may just give up and use some Goof-Off on it, despite the obnoxious smell.

While the kitchen and bathroom were being scrubbed, Gryph went to work on the dining room floor with a heat gun, and scraped up a couple square feet more glue. OHHH how lovely those old oaken floors are! Before we left, he checked that burned-looking place where we thought Destructo-Tenant had tried to use a sander on the floor, and discovered to our great delight that we had misinterpreted what we were seeing.... Destructo-Tenant had actually spilled a bunch of VERY dark stain there and just wiped it around, then left it to dry!! It came up in small thick sheets (instead of the shavings we are used to getting) and the floor underneath is completely UNgrooved!! Wooohooo!!

I reserved a moving truck for Sunday the 26th. A couple of friends have offered to help us move, and we have GOT to get out of this apartment. The manager has repeatedly refused to repair or replace the smoke alarm, which is against the law; so we invoked the 14/30 day landlord non-compliance clause and gave our 30 days' notice. There's been no response so far and it makes me wonder if they are just glad to see us go, or if they haven't bothered to check the office mail slot and so haven't found it yet.... but we have to go no matter what happens because the pressure of living in this place is making me agoraphobic... it freaks me out so much knowing that they are spying on me, watching for me, trying to control me, that I cannot bring myself to leave the safety of the apartment. I even put off walking the dog, and that is SO not good.... I am once again acting like an abuse victim; I walk with my head down and I do everything I can to shrink into myself--staying under their radar--because I am always expecting a nasty explosion of verbal abuse to come my way.

This is no way to live. This is especially no way to live when we have a perfectly good house that we COULD be living in, instead.

The Inspector has been by again, and has left us a huge list of housing violations. She is coming down on the house like a ton of bricks again--no pun intended despite the falling brick wall, lol--and is holding us to higher standards than the rest of the neighborhood, but we can fight that battle next week.

One of the conditions of getting emergency repair money from the county is that we send in a copy of our deed--and the title company STILL hasn't sent it to us yet. It seems to me more important to get that taken care of first. AND That House has just dropped off the online tax rolls, so now we cannot even get free paint (which we already applied for), plus the taxes are due May 1st and we still have to appeal the valuation--it was $34,800, but of course we only paid $15,000 so it needs to be adjusted--so I think these things which we qualify for and which will get the repair process started need to be addressed before I call the Inspector.

We still have no refrigerator, and I'm not sure why. I'm hoping to run into the neighbor who offered me his old one soon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

doggone adorable

Please forgive the blurry pic; the Self-Installing Canine Program, Module One, was running on the Steal-Mom's-Chair-and-Be-Adorable Platform the other day and I simply HAD TO take pics. She was all curled up and finally--finally!--not panting.

Here in the second pic you can see the Module is operating with the Optional Camera Flash Eye Enhancement feature.

So yesterday our friend Pixie and I were at That House, cleaning the stove (which is now in the kitchen, woohooo!) and Gryph went back to the apartment without me.

That didn't last long. The doglet insisted on finding me... it is evidently NOT OKAY for Gryph to come home without The Queen Of The Universe, lol.... Lady insisted on a walk and then *tracked me* all the way back to the house!!

Silly pup! lol!

Monday, April 6, 2009

We bought That House

So, the house is ours now, and people have been asking me for pictures. There are pics back in November but I thought I would add some that are more current.

This is the view from the dining room through to the front door. Please forgive my strangely slanted camera skills, lol.... the curtains are temporary, as all the curtains in the house will be for a while. I have this stash of sheets... *wry smile*

This is the north wall of the living room, with the (currently disconnected) gas fireplace. These glass-fronted shelves are the only built-ins left in the house, as the "window seat" is something the previous tenant built over a cold-air return register for the original furnace.

We discovered pretty quickly on that we wanted our own heat gun. Here is our preliminary effort with a borrowed heat gun; it's what convinced us that this is the way to go.

Progress on the dining room floor with the borrowed heat gun. We intend to borrow it again, and use two at once to speed the work. Mostly I am working on the house while Gryph is at work, and it's slow going because of my fibromyalgia. I lost a week, recovering from pushing too hard.

A friend passed on a tip about Imperial Cleaner, telling us that we could pour it onto the floor and it would loosen the glue. We tried it. It doesn't work. The glue comes up the same way with or without the cleaner, and neither way is as effective as the heat gun. The cleaner is highly flammable so we cannot do both; we're praying that we've let enough time go by for the petroleum distillates to evaporate so that we can use the heat gun again.

The good thing about Imperial Cleaner is that it seems to leave a lovely finish behind, one that is impervious to spilled water. We might use it after the glue is gone.

Old oak floors are so beautiful to me. I go for the country/vintage/shabby chic look when I decorate, so an old worn floor is going to fit beautifully. We're seriously considering waxing it rather than polyurethaning it... how could a brand shiny new polyurethaned floor look right under antiques/vintage furniture?

So far the nicest surprise in the yard has been flowering quince; it came from the neighbor's yard and is spreading slowly into ours. It took a LOT of searching to discover what it was and my friend upstairs is the one who finally found out for me. Evidently this particular plant doesn't fruit in the autumn, although they usually do--not the big quinces that come on fruiting quince shrubs, but small sour ones that make good marmalade--but I suspect this shrub is too early to bloom and that year after year, the late March/early April freezes kill any fruit that might have set.

So... here is the reason we could afford this house. Yikes!

We propped the next section of bricks up as best we could... if it came down, it would more than likely bring the windows with it. Luckily for us, the bricks are a veneer, just a facing, and the structural part of the wall is inside the house. Isn't that a weird way to handle concrete blocks, though? I finally figured it out... I think that the concrete is for added stability, and that it is slathered onto the interior brick wall.

Friends and I did our best to cover that interior wall with plastic, since the rains were due in. This of course was BEFORE I knew about any kind of BLIZZARD being due in, sheesh... the plastic held, thanks be!

Unfortunately, the wood bracing that loose chunk of bricks did not hold; Gryph and I fixed it a couple times before we realized the problem was the wind under the plastic. So on went my workgloves (Gryph hasn't needed them so far, but I sure do!) and we piled the bricks back in front of the plastic to keep the wind out. Gryph even restacked them in part of the wall. It's worked so far and my fingers are crossed that it will keep on working until we have the money to get plywood and do something sturdier.

When the bricks fell, the pressure shattered the basement window. We bought a piece of plexiglass to fix it but the darned sheet is two inches short *eyeroll* so we just propped it in front of the window to keep neighborhood cats out.

We must be crazy, eh? But the price of craziness is right *innocent blink* and we are so in love with this house and all her possibilities. I have two raspberry vines and a 5 lb bag of seed taters waiting in the mudroom, and all my seeds waiting here in the apartment. We have a stove on the front porch waiting for me to scrub it clean and also to get the kitchen floor clean, and a neighbor has offered us a fridge. Now we need a washer and dryer and a chance to get the place clean--I already cleaned a good part of the bathroom--and we have to replace the geysering kitchen faucet and we're good to go.

That House will be a good place to live.