Friday, August 30, 2013

Long weekend

It's too nice to be at work today.  There are so many things I would rather be doing. This includes, but is not limited to:
  • trimming trees (Cat ranch)
  • moving things in the garden  and working in the yard (Cat ranch)
  • cleaning out the closet room (Cat ranch)
  • cleaning out storage (Cat ranch)
  • taking down walls and ceilings (House #1)
  • filling a dumpster (House #1)
  • repairing a wall (House #2)
  • paint a basement wall (House #2)
  • building a laundry room (House #2)
Do you see dealing with annoying co-workers, students and their parents on this list?  No, no it's not.  Yet, that's what is on today's agenda on this beautiful sunny day.  *sigh*

You realize right, that when it's raining or snowing or cloudy or foggy I say the same thing?

The only thing making this day progress any faster is the egg sandwich Walt Kowalski brought me.  Delicious.  Thank you, Walt Kowalski.

There is a holiday this weekend.  Make that a LONG holiday weekend. An extra day of no co-workers, no students, and no parents on the phone.  Ahhhhhhh.  It's not the beach, but it will have to do for now. 
Last night, on our way home from ceiling removal at House #1, I noticed everybody had their lights on.  It was getting dark out.  It was only 8:20.  It's getting darker earlier.  It was hot and humid last evening, so most houses had their front doors or windows open and I could see inside.  It's like peeking into a slice of another person's life. You can see their decorations, the curtains, and the photos on the walls.  You can see who is watching the football game or doing the dishes from dinner.  You can also see the shoes piled in the corner of the front hall or the clutter of papers on the kitchen table.  You can see into garages and sheds, too. I'm glad I'm not the only one with clutter.

The only lights in the upstairs of House #1 are a the hallway light and an attic light.  The house was wired so the light switches worked outlets.  That's fine for a bedroom reading lamp, but not so fine to work. We have wire and lights ready for installation so we'll be able to work later than dark.   Before we can do that, we need to get the ceilings and walls taken's a circle.

Right now, dark is a good time to quit working at House #1 for the day.  Especially after spending 7 1/2 hours at work, an hour at the gym, it's 85 degrees outside and over 95 inside when you're wearing a dust mask, and there are starving cats at home.  But losing a few minutes of daylight every day will mean losing a few minutes of work.  The time change is looming on the horizon. 
But there is a three day weekend ahead.  Walt Kowalski and I have a list of things planned at all three houses.
Here's our new ladder.  32' Did you just hear a tree shiver?  We'll also need it to take the chimney down on at House #1. See, we've already found another use for it.

Come on quittin' time.


Just a quick post this morning.  I hope to post again today.

We need a little boost today.  It's been a long week.  If you hold your ear up to the screen you can hear the seagulls.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Current Progress

Chain Saw Johnny called last night.  He's not going to be able to make it over to work on tree felling this Saturday.  He had three reasons.  They were good reasons.
  1. It's a holiday weekend. 
  2. They have a party to go to on Saturday.
  3. He's got the poison.
Poison ivy that is. 

All three good reasons.  As a person who gets the poison ivy easily, I understand.  Walt Kowalski and I always *try* to take good precautions to prevent the accidental outbreak.  Working in 80 degree weather in long sleeves, long pants, gloves, a hat, and boots is never fun. 

But neither is the two weeks of itching and oozing of the poison. 

I take extra precautions.  After I tie my work boots, I wash my hands.  After I touch the tools we used the previous week, I wash my hands.  After see poison in the yard, I wash my hands. 

The last time I got the poison I was very lucky.  I had it in two spots on both of my hips.  It took me a day to realize how after wearing long sleeves and long pants I got it on a place that was covered. 

Darn bathroom breaks.  The oils must have been on my sleeves.  ARGH!!! Would someone please work to create a product you can spray on your clothes to see if you have poison ivy oils on you. Thank you.  And looking back, I'm very lucky I only got it on my hips.  Now I'm even more extra-er careful. 

Walt Kowalski got it in a similar fashion.  After a day of work, I went inside to shower and he stayed to tend the fire.  It was hot and he took off his long sleeve shirt, sat down, and had a drink.  In the process, he rested his naked elbow on the knees of his work jeans. Those same work jeans that had just been through the poison.  ARGH!   

Sounds like Chain Saw Johnny did the same thing. *sigh*

Anyways, here's some photos from House #1. 

The walls are really coming down. This is in the back bedroom looking through to the front bedroom.

Walt Kowalski took that blue ceiling down last night.  I worked on the pale green walls.  The ceilings are the worst.  Coal dust.  Black extra dirty dirt.


This is the view from the "new" bathroom, through the closet into the master bedroom.

That's the burn pile for this weekend's bonfire in the master bedroom.
We were up late last night.  Late for us on a "school night" is 11:30pm.  We were waiting on the washing machine.  I know that sounds silly, but I wanted the clothes in the dryer before we went to bed.
We have our favorites that we wear to do this dirty work.  I shouldn't call them our favorites, I should call them the dirties.  They are the clothes we don't mind getting dirty and sweaty. 
Boy do they get dirty. 
So dirty that I won't wash anything else in the load with them.  AND I use the super dirty cycle (actually called stain wash) that takes 2 hours 45 minutes. 
But they come out clean.  Every time.  Even the white towel we use to wipe our hands and face comes out clean.
Now if only I could get the dirty out of my nose and ears so easily. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Round the world

The Cat Ranch is point A.
House #1 is point C.
House #2 is point B.
Some days take us in this path:
Some days take us in this path:
And some days are this:
No matter which path we take, things are progressing.  Walt Kowalski is working on the laundry room at House #2.  I did some small things like tighten the chairs at the kitchen table and put a new handle on the front door. 
Everyday more and more plaster ends up in the dumpster at House #1.  The walls are coming down.  The dirty work will end soon.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


Walt Kowalski's kids are coming over this afternoon.  It's Grilled food day.

Silver Queen

I'm also making a casserole of parmesan squash and sauce for later this week.  We had hot peppers stuffed with Italian sausage last week.  I love meals that I have already cooked.  So easy when we work a double shift. 

What we call a double is not what other people call a double.  Our double is working 7 1/2 hours at the University, making a quick stop home to change into work clothes, and heading over to work at House #1 or House #2 until dark (or later).  That's our double.

Walt Kowalski and I commute together, work in different buildings (but see each other at times during the day), sometimes lunch together, commute home together, and work on the houses together.  For some, this might be too much togetherness.  I'm certain there are times we drive each other crazy.  I call it love. 

The Chain Saw Johnny and the Mayor were over yesterday helping to taking down trees on the front hill.  They got all but one that was too entwined in the wires.  They did a great job. 

But talking to the Mayor after the tree cutting made me realize how fortunate Walt Kowalski and I are. 

The Mayor's significant other was working a 16 hour shift followed by a 12 hour shift today and another 12 hour shift tomorrow.  When she gets home she's exhausted and is exhausted for her entire "day off" the next day.

They see each other only one or two evenings a week. 

Maybe that schedule is what works for them.  Maybe they are happy with their individual alone time.  I don't know.  I shouldn't judge.  All I know is that schedule wouldn't work for us and we are very fortunate our schedules are so similar. 

Either way, the Mayor was a big help with his quad and trailer.  We got the cut trees up to the burn pile much easier with his help and we entertained him for the day.  It was a win-win situation.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Out at the club

It's Friday.  It was a busy week at work.  International students moved in Sunday.  Freshman moved in on Thursday. Broken dishwashers.  Computers that don't work. General chaos.  Welcome back to school.  (Is it Thanksgiving Break yet?)

Enough of work.  Quitting time.  It's Friday night.

Time to go to the club.  Sign the book. Shake hands. Do the meet and greet. Have drinks and dinner. 

We have an exclusive club.  Only two members.  Six if you count the cats, but they don't pay dues.

We went to our club.  We finished work at four and headed to the Y for a workout.  (We made it there three times this week!) Signed the book (scanned our membership cards) Got cleaned up.  Shook hands and did the meet and greets.  (Hello to the regulars the Preacher, Park, Old Biddy, Regis and purple lady) Came home and had dinner (salad and pizza) and drinks (pumpkin beers and Yuengling Oktoberfest).  Pie for dessert. Pie. (Thank you Grammy) 

This is our kinda club.  Our exclusive club. 

Walt Kowalski made and excellent fire.  Burning here is the lath from the second floor of House #1.  We worked on it Tuesday and Thursday nights.  So dirty, but so much accomplished.  My boogers are still black. 

We don't need a club.  We don't need to be social with the wannabes and sign the book.  (We work with the wannabes, but that's another post.)

It is a beautiful night.  The typewriter bugs are humming.  The stars are out.  The Eagles are playing on the radio.  Walt Kowalski is playing along.  Hooty the owl will be around soon.  (That's a whole different post, too!)

Life is good.  LG.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Arrival

Old Blue is struggling.  She's leaking gas, needs new tires, having rotor issues, the A/C takes a while to kick on, the hinges on the doors and tailgate aren't closing very well anymore, and she is succumbing to rust. Lots of rust.  She's due for inspection at the end of October. 

We had a big decision to make.  We've got a lot of irons in the fire at the moment, but we don't want to find ourselves stuck.  We had to make a choice.  Walt Kowalski looked at many used trucks on the internet.  We spent several afternoons and evenings at car lots inspecting the ones he found.  All of the one we looked at feel into two categories:
  1. Ones that were not suitable because they had similar issues as Old Blue.
  2. Ones that were not suitable because they did not quite our fit our requirements.
Our one and only "requirement" was an 8 foot bed.  An extended cab would have been nice, but was not a requirement. Power windows were not a requirement.  Power door locks were not a requirement. Diesel was a big NO.  A new truck was out. Ford, Chevy, GMC it didn't matter.  No Toyota or Nissan.

All of the used, well-loved trucks were in worse (worser?) condition than Old Blue.  Walt Kowlaski found one that looked good on the internet.  It was 30 minutes away, so he called to ask about it before we make the drive.  

Walt Kowlaski: "Is it a rust bucket?"
Lady on phone: "Not at all.  It looks good."

Away we went. 

She was right.  It looked good.  The top half.  The newer paint job.  That is where it ended.  There was so much rust underneath that you could see through the rails that hold up the bed.  Who knows about the gas tank.

Crap.  Home we go.  Walt Kowlaski was not happy.  My answer for him was that it was a lovely evening for a drive.  (I don't think it helped.)

Then there was one we looked at in Irwin.  Looked good on the top, not too much rust around the edges.  Appropriate for the age of the truck.  Hmmm, they undercoated the bottom and it looks like they did it just last week.  Hmmmmm, what are you trying to hide?  What are you not telling us?


After more discussions we came to the conclusion that we were going to have to go up in price.  But that it was ok.  Instead of writing a check for the total of the truck, we'll just get a payment.  But that also means we get a warranty.  So maybe this is a good thing.  That opened up the list of possible truck a little larger.

So here's Big Red:

Sorry Auntie Rea's family, it's a 2010 Chevy.  I hope we can still come to Ford family dinners. 

No power windows or door locks.  But we got the 8 foot bed, a 5 year warranty, new tires, heavy bed liner, clean interior, 12,000 miles, and no rust. 

Only we would buy a big, red Chevy truck on the day of a blue moon at a Honda dealership. 

And here is the blue moon this morning:

The Tycho crater on the left side really stands out. I remember being very disappointed as a kid when I saw my first blue moon.  (Really!?! It's just the moon!)  Now I get it.  I appreciate the moon everyday now. Blue, orange, or white.

Yes, I took that photo this morning.  I love my camera. FYI, that's only at half zoom, too.

And fear not, Old Blue hasn't been retired yet.  She's got more work left in her.  Dirty work, too.  Our plan is to have the dirty work (plaster and lath removal) at House #1 done by the end of her registration in October.  We have one and half rooms left upstairs and 2 rooms downstairs. 

Things I learned today:
  1. No haggle pricing when buying a car is nice. 
  2. You can even use a coupon at a car dealership.  Walt Kowalski and I tried not to laugh when the dealership used a coupon to get a bigger warranty for us. Woo hoo! A coupon! My title of Coupon Queen remains intact.
  3. I'm glad I don't have to drive Interstate 70 to work everyday. 
  4. I'm also glad I have a 10 minute commute.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tree Felling

Not to be mistaken for tree feeling. 

This is like a flip book.  You can see the tree fall, then reverse it and see it stand back up again.  Walt Kolwaski was managing the rope.  You can't see him in the photo, but you can see the rope.  Excellent roping skills, Walt.


Over cooked

As Jimmy Buffett says, 'And I must confess, I could use some rest.  I can't run at this pace very long.'

Walt Kowalski and I agree, we go to work on Mondays to rest. Why did we do so much this weekend? Then I look at the rain outside of my office window this morning and I'm glad we pushed hard this weekend. We have been so fortunate with the weather this summer.  We've had sun when we needed sun and rain when we needed rain.  There have been days we've worked through one when we were really hoping for the other, but overall we have been fortunate.

We got an early start Saturday morning.  Walt Kowalski and I weeded the front bank and put down new mulch around the azaleas. 

Don't give us too much credit just yet.  We have been driving around the pile of mulch in the driveway for a month now, so don't be giving us too much praise.  Chain Saw Johnny and his lovely wife came over in the afternoon.  The plan was to take down 1 big cherry tree, 1 clump of 5 smaller cherry trees, and a big oak up by the new shed. The first big cherry tree they took down was not as rotted inside as we expected.  It produced some quality firewood.  

At also took us three times as long to clean it up.  The big oak will stand another week. 

Every time Walk Kowalski goes outside, you hear trees shiver in fear and whisper to each other 'Look short, so he won't take us next.' The pines out front need the bottom branches removed.  That is on the agenda for this fall, too.

We got the new electrical box installed at House #2 early in the week.  The old box, although still functioning was not insurable.  blah blah blah we've already gone over that. As it turns out, worse than uninsurable, water was leaking into the old box. Not just a little water and not just recently.  It looks like it was leaking for years.  Water and electricity.  Now there is a good mix. 
Now the new breaker box is upstairs, away from water, and insured. 

Sunday we were planning to go to House #2 but after they spent a drama filled night spent in the ER (all is good now) the family wasn't in the mood for company working in their laundry room.  That's fine, they will just have to visit the Laundromat for another week or so.

Change in plans and over to House #1 we go.  Tra la tra la. An empty dumpster arrived on Thursday afternoon.  WG (the future homeowner of House #1) is doing a great job of taking down the walls and ceilings.  The dumpster was already 1/4 full by the time we got there on Sunday.  Walt Kowalski gives him a few instructions, points him in the right direction, and away he goes. 

WG and Walt Kowalski worked upstairs taking down more walls, lath, and ceiling.  I worked downstairs cleaning up lots of bits and pieces left over from wall removal and carpet removal.  The broom will only get so much.  I picked a lot of the big stuff out of the corners by hand and then ran the shop vac.  

I'm sure you're thinking, 'Really?  You're running the sweeper? Why are you running the sweeper now?'

I thought the same thing several times because it seemed like it wasn't doing anything, but looking back, it did help.  It picked up the smaller pieces of plaster, lots of the dirt and dust, and I could empty the shop vac into the dumpster. 

Things I learned this weekend:
1. There's tired, more tired, and really tired. I had all three of those this weekend. 
2. Tripping over roots in the dark not once, but twice, hurts and is stupid.
3. Don't overfill your shop vac or you won't be able to lift it up to dump into the dumpster.
4.  Sometimes two showers are necessary when you're really dirty. 

Friday, August 16, 2013


Are tortilla chips and salsa considered a healthy dinner? 

There are only 2 ingredients in the chips, corn and salt.  There are only 5 ingredients in the salsa, tomato, onion, pepper, garlic, and spices.  Ok technically, more than 5 ingredients because of the spices, but I lumped them all together. 

7 ingredients. That's still less ingredients than so many other foods. 

We don't make it a habit. It was better than the night before when Walt and I each had a single slice of pizza for dinner with the promise that we would work a little and then come inside and have a salad.  We worked and then came inside, showered, and went to bed. 

We are the salad people.  The homemade people.  The fresh everything people.  Time is the cost of homemade and fresh everything.  So a couple of sacrifices must be made.  This way of eating isn't going to continue forever.  I have zucchini and green beans waiting in the fridge for the weekend.

I splurged again.  New work clothes from the thrift store last week.  This week it was new socks and unders.  Such splurges! Maybe it's because it's back-to-school (gasp!) or maybe it's because I had the need to buy something or maybe it's because my socks were so thin I could see through them.  Whatever the reason, I get great enjoyment from new socks. 

I get great enjoyment from clean socks, too. The current batch of clean socks are still in a basket. They are clean, but not put away. I could have put them away along with the other two baskets of clean clothes and towels.  But I didn't.  Instead, Walt and I sat. 

Yes, we just sat. 

We didn't saw anything or trim anything or scrub anything.  We just sat.

We made a small campfire, sat next to the fire, shared a couple of beers (pumpkin!), and just enjoyed the evening. It was a nice evening.    It was a lovely sunset.  The sky was so clear after dark, that the half moon was all the flashlight we needed to find our way back to the house. (Do you think it could have been like this three days ago for the Perseids? Noooooooo.)

This coming weekend (and the next and the next) is jammed packed so this evening off was a pleasure.

For the record, I have specifically NOT mentioned how fall like it has been the last couple of days. Between the camp fire, cool evenings, and pumpkin beers...*sigh*.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A day of rest

No great photos to post today.  We took a day off from both houses yesterday (Tuesday evening). Monday was move-in day for House #2.  Walt Kowalski and I went over after the gym to see how things went. 

Not bad moving day.  Only a little bit of drama. 

He got the gas stove hooked up.  I put the kitchen table and chairs back together.  Just small stuff to help.  We didn't get home until after 10pm.  The small stuff adds up. 
So a Tuesday evening off was nice.  Dinner before 10pm was also nice. 
Now I should tell you that our "night off" consisted of the following:
  • Gym
  • Hair cuts
  • Errands
  • Salads for dinner
  • House cleaning
  • Laundry

That's an evening off for us.
We splurged the other day and went shopping.  Hello, thrift store.  14 items for under $36.00.
With so much dirty work lately, we needed more work outside/get dirty clothes.  We both only have 3 long sleeve, long pant sets of clothing.  With so much poison in our forest and so much dirty work at House #1, I prefer to wear long sleeves and pants. Putting on long pants and long sleeve clothes when it's over 80 degrees is never fun.  Neither is poison ivy.  I'll take the sweat.  I can always change clothes.  Some days, we have worn all three sets of clothes.  All in the same day, that is.  That makes it tricky when it's only Saturday and we've got no clean clothes for Sunday. Crap.

Walt: 'What are you doing?'
Me: 'Laundry'
Walt: 'It's 11:30pm.'
Me: 'We need clothes for tomorrow, or we work in our underwear.'
Walt: 'Well, I wouldn't mind watching you do that.'
Me: 'Yes, but the neighbors would.'

So long sleeve shirts, jeans, and t-shirts are what we need right now. In gray and dark colors to hide the dirt that won't come out. 

Today we're getting another dumpster for House #1.  Tonight we need to work at the Cat Ranch.  Mowing, trimming, weeding, mulching, and with this cool weather maybe a little bonfire.  

I have peppers, sausage, and sauce on the to-do list, too.  This could turn into a cooking blog so easily.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Christmas Carols in August

Along with getting House #2 ready for move-in day today, and taking down plaster in House #1, we are still progressing on clearing out our property for a garage at the Cat Ranch.  Every weekend Walt Kowalski and the Chain Saw Johnny take another tree down. We're getting there.

It's a simple plan.  Walt Kolwaski anchors the tree.  Chain Saw Johnny cuts the trees down.  We all cut up the small branches. Chain Saw Johnny takes the big logs home to spilt for his wood burner. Walt Kolwaski and I pile up the small logs we want for our fireplace.  I burn the rest. (The parts that can't be burned inside and the rotted ant infested or leaf filled parts.)

Don't hate me because we're taking down trees.  We've got lots of them.  We live in the forest.  The ones we are taking down now are a hazard to our house or ant infested. ick ick ick.  We also have plans to plan some nicer newer, trees that we can prune or maybe even get some fruit. 

The smoke filled the entire neighborhood at times this weekend.  Last week we burned the lath from House #1 and the flames were that high.  Saturday is the only legal "burn day" in our township.  Last Saturday morning, two hours into the burn, it started pouring rain.  That didn't stop me.  No better day to burn.  The neighbors won't have their windows open so we'll lessen complains about the smoke.  (Who are those crazy people working in the rain?)

Apologies to the farmer.  For some reason, the smoke always seems to go up through the trees and back down on to his house in the valley.  We don't mind if you play your music late and loud.  Let's call it a trade-off.  We won't tell the mayor.

Speaking of the mayor, running the chain saw and cutting up pine trees put Chain Saw Johnny in the mood for Christmas carols.   I wish I would have written them down as he was making them up, but I was too busy laughing.

Here is one part I remember:

(the tune is to Winter Wonderland.)

And the fire is a smokin'
The neighbor's dogs are a chokin'
The tree's on the ground
There's smoke all around

Cuttin down a summer Christmas tree

Then the mayor asks 'you got a permit?'
We say 'No way,
Get the Hell outta here.'

I think I can still smell the smoke in my hair. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Weekend Plans

Last night was full of prep work for the weekend at House #2. 

And's the main event this weekend:

It's a Federal Pacific.  Bad. Bad. Bad. (as I have been told) So it's gotta go.  But we have new GE model waiting in the wings to fulfill its electrical destiny. 

Also on the list of "Things That Have Got To Go" is this box:
For the untrained eye, like my own, this junction box doesn't look like much. However when you open it, the trained eye will say "What in the world were they thinking?!?"  It is full of splits and splices, wire nuts and electrical tape.  Oh and did I mention that we only happened to find this junction box by chance?  It was hidden inside a wall.  Inside a wall!  An electrical junction box inside a wall.  A boarded up, nailed up wall, with no access panel. *sigh*  Even I know that is bad.
The entire laundry room was an addition to the house.  A bad addition.  The person who built this room was no builder. He would have been better off using Legos. 
So Walt Kowalski will be working on the electrical and I'll be in the basement o'fun. 


Scrapping, scrubbing, and smearing. 
You can see the mold growing on the ceiling.  Green mold.  Not black.  But I'm still wearing a mask to clean.  Hello my friend bleach.
Then scrubbing and on to painting. If I get the scrapping and cleaning done this weekend I will be doing good.
The basement was full of water when we bought the house, but the basement walls were painted with a latex paint.  What we think happened is that when the thieves stole the copper pipes, they cut the pipes and left the water continue to run. (Uh hello, they are thieves! You really though they were going to turn off the water? Silly me.) The floor drains took a lot of it away except for the outside edges against the walls where it was an inch deep.  The water wicked up the walls and created mold.  Lot of mold.  White fuzzy mold.  Now the paint peels right off. 
This sounds bad, but is actually better than our first expectation, which was the that basement was taking on water when it rained.  We mopped up the stagnant water, brought in fans to dry it up, added a little good smelling cleaner, and there have been no major leaks since. 
We also put the outside downspout back in the drainpipe.
Things I can expect this weekend:
1. I will be working in the dark because Walt Kowlaski will turn off the electric.
2. Wearing white clothes will be my best option while cleaning with bleach. 
3. I had better find my rain boots before I start scrubbing.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The hidden jems

House #2 is almost ready.  Walt Kowalski got the hot water tank working and we got hot and cold water to the upstairs bathroom.  I can I get a BIG woo hoo!
The mama of the house worked so hard getting the painting done and then she scrubbed the carpets.  It is all coming together fast!  They are hoping to move in as soon as this weekend.    
The electrical breaker box replacement will start tonight and continue this weekend.  And there are still LOTS of additional things that need updated.  The paneling in the laundry room needs removed and new drywall put up.  The basement needs scrubbed, dried, and painted with cement paint.  The kitchen floor needs new floor put down.  These items are currently usable, they just need updating.  We can revisit later this month, next month, year.
With a partially empty dumpster at House #1 and a scheduled pick up date of Wednesday, we had to jump back to House #1 to fill that dumpster.  Carpets and old linoleum filled the dumpster.  Back in the 60s they used a thin paper as a moisture barrier between the floor and the carpet.  But in some of the rooms they just used newspaper. 
May 1st, 1969 was the date on this paper.  That's when the linoleum was put down. The carpet was from the 80s. 
Here is the movie selection:

And the Kmart Ad (I would take paint for that price now!)

How about 45¢cents a pound for pork loin?
And Extra Plaid Stamps at the A&P!

And how about the clothing advertisements.
AND even more interesting is that Grammy drew these.  Grammy worked at the Pittsburgh Press in 1968 through 1970.  She was one of the artists for the paper.  Specifically, she drew the fashion ads.  These were her drawings. 
Now I know there were thousands of newspapers printed every day for how many years and Grammy drew every single day for the newspaper.  But what are the chances that the family that lived in this house in 1969 used that section newspaper that had an advert drawn by my Grammy that I would find 44 years later?

Wow.  Cool.  J


Monday, August 5, 2013

And so it begins.

We were removing rugs and filling the dumpster tonight.  Not exciting but really helps with reducing the smell. Walt Kowalski and I, wearing our stylish dust masks, were hauling loads of carpet and flooring out to the dumpster.

It's scheduled to be emptied on Wednesday so we wanted to make sure it was full.  We took a break on the porch to catch our breath and have a drink  just as the old-time neighbor next door came home.  We smiled and nodded and started back to work.  The neighbor walked up and started asking questions.  I went back inside to work and Walt Kowalski fielded the questions.  (Love him.)

Who were we?
Were we going to live here?
Are you the owner?
Who is going to live here?
Are they those kinda people?
Are they going to be noisy?
He didn't like noise.
He's lived here for 50 years and he doesn't want trouble.
Will they have loud music?  He doesn't like loud music and a lot of trouble.
Are the people living here going to cause trouble?
That house is 3 feet on my property.
He was going to have a survey done.
He's got dogs.  They are nice dogs, but dogs go where they want.
He doesn't want any trouble.


Walt Kowalski was so good.  He answered every question, no matter how invasive and rude.  He held his tongue.  (Love him even more.) He abruptly said he had to get back to work and came inside. 

Did I mention how great he is? 

Minding our own business.  Tomorrow's to-do list: calling for estimates on a survey.


All things, and neighbors considered, we got a LOT accomplished this evening.

Things I learned tonight

1. Neighbors are weird.
2. And extra dose of patience is going to be needed. 

How much can you do in one weekend?

We have neglected the gym lately.  Guilty.  L Guilty. L Guilty. L

I love exercising.  I especially love the relaxing swim after completing the 5 miles on the Elliptical.  Ahhhhhhhh.

(I know my sister is rolling her eyes at this point.)

Our normal routine is to work until 4pm, head to the gym, then home for dinner and working around the house.  Fridays include the same thing, but often a camp fire and guitar playing are in the mix instead of an evening of chores.

This week was totally different and crazy busy.  Never made it to the gym. 

Not. Even. Once.

Friday we left work and picked up a truck load of lath from House #1 (this will be truckload number 3) and headed home to have a nice big "recreational" fire.  Add drinks and food and a fire that would be illegal becomes recreational.  Burnt about half of the pile and saved the rest for the Saturday morning non-recreational burn. 

Now if you're not familiar with old houses, they used lath and plaster on the walls.  This was before the use of drywall. Here's a photo from the backside:

Each of the boards is nailed to the studs in multiple places.  When I think about the time it would take to install this type of! 

Saturday morning Walt Kowalski and I burned the rest of the lath, made our first of 4 trips to Home Depot and headed to House #2.  We have been dividing our time between the two houses. 

Never in a million years did we think we would find two houses to suit, let alone buy them in both in the same week.  

House #2 needs less structural work and more plumbing.  Long before we purchased the house, thieves broke in and stole 75% of the copper pipes.  Even worsre, they cut the pipes so close to the walls that the pipes left were not even accessible to make a join.  The pipes have to be removed and new put in place. 
Thank you thieves.

Water is a wonderful resource.  You don't appreciate it until you don't have it. 

Here's Walt Kowalski soldering new copper pipes overhead.  You can see his handy work in the background, new plastic drain pipes.  He spent Thursday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday getting the kitchen sink, hot water tank, laundry, and laundry bathroom functioning.  We've still have a ways to go.

While he did that, I ran between the basement helping him and painting on the 1st and 2nd floors.

This is the before photo of the master bedroom.  It had wall paper that had been painted over and painted over and painted over.  The wall paper came off easily to reveal uneven plaster that needed lots of spackling.  5 gallons of paint later, the master bedroom, the 2nd bedroom, and the living room have all been painted. 

White.  Simple.  Clean.  Done.

The kitchen, not so easy.  There is more wall paper.  It's not coming off as easily.  Peel. Peel. Scrub.  Peel.  Peel.  Scrape.

Things I learned this weekend:

1. Running between floors makes your legs tired.
2. Painting ceilings and walls with an extension pole makes your neck and shoulders tired.
3. Painting the trim and cutting in the corners takes as long as painting an entire room.
4. Blowing through an unattached 1 1/2" drain pipe sounds like a rhinoceros.
5. Water is wonderful.  I think I said that already.
6. I could use that relaxing swim right about now.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Where to begin?

From the bottom up. 
So here's a look at some of the before photos.
I'm standing at the back wall (someday it will be a door to a deck) looking out through the kitchen to the living room.  I hope we can keep the arched doorway.
The doors on the left go to the laundry room, basement, and other living room.
This will be the laundry room on the first floor. 

And this is a peek at upstairs.  They loved their colors.
This is directly above the laundry room and will be the bathroom.