Saturday, December 28, 2013

Let's Polka

Early this morning I was dreaming in my sleep.  There was accordion music playing in my dream.  (I have very vivid dreams.)  Not long later I was startled awake by a starving kitty cat scratching at the door. But I could still hear the accordion music.  Only then did I realize the accordion wasn't in my dreams. 

I was the accordion. 

My nose was clogged, I was congested, and every time I breathed I honked. 
Honk.  Honk.  Honk.  Honk. 

Half of the reason I was congested was because I spent the day outside cutting up the old tub.  For winter, it was a pleasant day, actually.  But two hours later, I was cold.  Walt Kowalski was working inside and I came in to warm my posterior.  Of course I warmed it by placing it on him. 

I think his words were something like 'Get your cold butt off of me!'

Walt Kowalski is working on adding additional support to the weight-bearing walls down through the center of the house.   He's adding an additional 2x4 to each side of the existing 2x4s.  (He said I should call this post Overkill, but it's making him feel better about the support of the house.)

Those two copper pipes protruding through the floor from the basement are still waiting patiently to be finished.  One is capped, the other is not.  That's when I noticed that one of them had half of a Bud Light can on it. What is Walt Kowalski up to now?  Silly me for thinking he was goofing off.  When I asked him about it, he said that saw dust was falling and he didn't want any to go in the new pipe.  He used what he had handy. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Who needs a shower?

After today, I do.

I took a scary prison looking shower and painted it into...

a not so scary looking prison shower.  I'll finish the rest tomorrow.
Wait, let me put a better spin on this.  How about a dog wash station.  Or a boot washing station.  Sandbox washing area.  Basically, anything that comes from outside inside can make a stop here and be washed (warshed) off before going upstairs.  With a little more privacy than using the hose in the back yard. 
Yes, I have been that dirty to use the hose on myself in the back yard.

I finished the area for the hot water tank.  The walls have two coats of paint and the floor has one coat of paint.  Tomorrow the hot water tank will be placed, a string of electric will be run, and the hot water tank will be tested! 

Small but hugely important steps. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Joys

After days full of family and friends (we are truly blessed and loved!) Walt Kowalski and I took a much needed Christmas rest.  I didn't wear a kerchief, but Walt Kowalski did wear a cap. 
We slept in, ate too many cookies, listened to Christmas music, watched Christmas movies, and played games all day. 


Walt Kowalski cleaned up the game room and in the process I found two of my favorite Christmas candles.  These are probably 30+ years old.  They were always on the mantle of the house on Third Street at Christmas. 
(You can see my splurge of a BIG bottle of wine in the mirror!)

When I was a kid, Grammy and I used to play a hide and seek game.  She had a sticker of the Mrs. Snowman, the same one as on the candle.  We would take turns hiding the sticker around the house during the Christmas season.  I don't remember how this "game" got started, but when the sticker was found the finder would quietly re-hide Mrs. Snowman. 

The snowman kids on the back of the candle are cute, too.
Merry Christmas

Monday, December 23, 2013

Painting, painting, painting [and flooring]

While I was busy painting the first coat of Dryloc on the walls of the basement...


Walt Kowalski was busy repairing the old bathroom floor on the second floor.



It might have been the shortest day of the year, but it was a very productive day.  Walt Kowalski picked up the duct work and started putting it together.  He calls it Death by a Thousand Cuts.


I continued the painting.  The pictures are a little grainy because I forgot my camera so I used my tablet. 

I was struggling to paint behind the hot water tank when Walt Kowalski said 'You know, the hot water tank can be easily removed so you can paint behind it.  I did that purposely so it is an easy and quick change.'

Well, that made a difference!

Hey, it's winter! I can feel the days getting longer already.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Picasso Would Be Proud

The painting continues!  I turned the corner to another wall.
And turned the corner to another wall.

The bright work light and dim light bulbs overhead throw strange shadows and my camera has a difficult time deciding what object should be in focus.  Use a flash! Don't use a flash! It won't make up its mind.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen Walt Kowalski is patching holes in the floors.  Small progresses everyday. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Here's tonight's project:  Paint walls in the basement!!  The wall on the left has one coat on it already.  Amazing what a little paint can do.  There is the great new furnace.  Walt Kowalski will pick up more parts and duct work for it today. 


It isn't us if we don't goof-off...

Just a little shadow dancing on my freshly painted wall.

Walt Kowalski's hand shadows.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


There is food everywhere this time of the year.

Cheese and crackers in the break room.  Candy and cookies by the coffee maker. Popcorn and pretzels by the copy machine.  (I have I ever told you my love of popcorn?)

Everything looks and smells delicious. 

Temptation is everywhere.  So are germs. 

Yesterday, I was headed out to the microwave to heat up water to make a cup of tea when I spied my co-worker standing next to the cookie trays.  I stopped and watched.

Just moments earlier I watched him walk past my office door heading towards the refrigerator from his office.  While he waited the 5 minutes and 36 seconds for his processed box of sodium to warm, he touched the freezer door handle, he touched the microwave handle, he touched the microwave buttons, he straightened the napkins by the microwave, he touched the door frame of a co-worker's office, and he straightened the pile of magazines.

Then he noticed the cookie trays.  Two trays.  Both half full.  He then proceeded to pick-up every cookie on the first tray and place it on the second tray and disposed of the empty first tray. 

The only thing he didn't do was lick his fingers between each cookie.  

Last year when the boss brought in the popcorn tin, I was the first to remove the lid.  When I did, I got a small plastic cup from the kitchen and placed it in the tin of popcorn.  Now when you wanted popcorn, you could scoop out some onto a napkin.  

I wasn't so quick this year.  Someone opened it before I had the opportunity.  No popcorn for me this year.  That's ok. 

I would like to think that my co-worker's only thought was that of being helpful to tidy up the area, but my only thought was "What have his hands touched?"

I know a few germs are good for us, but we have enough at home at the Cat Ranch.  I'll pass on the ones from the community food. 

Excuse me I'm going to wash my hands now.  

P.S. If you ever come to my house and get a cat hair in your food, I'm sorry.  They have all been sanitized for your protection. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Huffing and Puffing

What strange weather on Saturday.  Snow, then rain, then snow, then rain, then snow.   The weight of the snow and rain on the Pampas grass in the garden is a good indicator of how wet the snow really is. 

Even lower...

By morning it was standing tall again. 

Last night we were eating dinner when we heard a crash of glass breaking.  It was a muffled crash as if it came from the basement or garage.  But I knew exactly what it was. 

I knew it was windy outside because the driveway sensor light kept turning on and off.  I didn't realize just how windy it was. 38 mph gusts to be precise.

I put a different wreath on the front door this year.  It's larger and fluffy and you can see it better from the road. But because of the large and fluffiness, the front storm door must be pushed (or pulled) to latch.  It wasn't latched completely. 

The wind caught the door and slammed it open against the iron railing and brick house.  The front entrance is on our project list, but not right now.  *sigh*

Walt Kowalski was so calm about the situation (more than I).  He just said "We'll fix it.  No big deal."

Drive-thru anyone?

On a better note, House #1 is warm.  The furnace is purring and you can no longer see your breath inside the house.  Walt Kowalksi did more prepping for ducts from the furnace and I started painting the basement walls.  Forward progress.  More photos to come.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Just one more

When I was a kid I remember Grammy and Granny saying 'I just need one more week before Christmas.'  As a kid, the thought of waiting just one more week for Christmas was torture. 

Now as an adult...can I have just one more week before Christmas?

While running the sweeper, Walt Kowalski calls from the other room 'Can I have two more weeks before Christmas?' 

By the way, he sucked up enough cat fur for a fifth cat.  We are still thinking of a name for the fifth cat. 

News Flash...

House #1 has heat! 
The gas company came yesterday and, after jumping through a few hoops, turned on the gas.  Because the gas had been shut off, I had to answer a few survey questions on the phone before they would turn the heat back on.  No big deal. 
Question  #1: Why haven't you needed gas for the last year and half?  Answer:  The house was not occupied.
Question #2: Is this house currently occupied?  Answer: Not yet.
It really was a short survey.
Next they inform me that the turn-on process does not include lighting appliances.  There is a $40 service charge for those services.  Thanks, but no thanks.  We have a Walt Kowalski. 
Done.  Service man will be there between 12:30 and 4pm and will call 30 minutes before he arrives. (He did and he was.)
Last week, Walt Kowalski made sure that both of the gas supply pipes in the basement (all 2 of them) were valved and capped so the gas could be turned on with no leaks. 
But when the gas man arrived he said "Hey, I need to test the gas on an appliance. You have to have appliances to turn on gas."  Maybe that should have been Question #3 on the short survey.
With a little questioning, a little convincing from the mama of House #1, and a phone call to Walt Kowalski, the service man turned on the gas.   Woo Hoo!
On the way to House #1, Walt Kowalski said "The temperature is going down to 15degrees tonight and tomorrow night.  The goal for tonight is to get the furnace running.  Even if that means we have to stay until 10pm."
Crap.  At least I knew the plan and had snacks.
He did it.  The furnace took three tries to light (air in the gas line) and then with a click and a whoosh the furnace purred to life and warm air poured out.  Ahhhhhhhh.  Warm fingers and noses.
Time check: 8:35pm.
Now we need duct work to move this warm air.  One step at a time. 
Back in the kitchen...
One of the layers on the kitchen floor was newspaper.  July 5th, 1955.  Lots of marriage announcements and committee meetings.  Nobody I recognized. But I love the advertisements. 
How about anew Frigidaire?  Separate freezer holds 73-lbs, has door shelves for juice cans! 
From 1955 to 2013...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I'm still pulling nails.  Just when I think I've finished, I find more!  In the ceiling.  In the wall studs.  In the floor.  I starting to think that someone is sneaking in at night and putting them all back in.
The shop vac will suck them up, but it won't suck them into the bag in the canister.  They just get stuck in the hose.  Once you turn off the sweeper, they sprinkle out.  If I'm prepared, I can maneuver the end of the hose to the garbage can and let them fall out.  
I'm never that prepared and they always end up all over the floor again.
The broom and a dustpan works, but the nails get stuck between the cracks in the floor boards.  I remember a golf club like device that was magnetic to pick up screws in the garage, but darn it if we can find it. 
That's ok.  I will make do.
Golf Club + magnet = device to pick up nails.
Yes, that is chipper club.  No, it's not Walt Kowalski's.  Yes, that is a big magnet magnetized to it.


It works.  Silly, but it works.  I still have a lot of nails left. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Smoke Signals

Walt Kowalski has been working endlessly, with frozen fingers, on the plumbing in the basement.  He's doing such a great job.  It's not a simple or speedy process.  He's working in the basement but he's planning for the first floor laundry and second floor bath.
He has several copper pipes sticking up through the floor of the laundry room.  They are the new supply lines for the hot and cold water.    As he solders other pipes in the basement the smoke slowly rises.  The cold temperature in the room and no cap created a smoke signal from below.
The kitchen floor is gone. It wasn't easy, but it was necessary. Everyday the old, musty, mold smell gets a little less.


I know it's a slow process.  If you hear me getting discouraged, just remind me how far we have come. It is easy to forget.
Kitchen before (July 2013)
Kitchen Current (December 2013)
Kitchen Before (July 2013)
Kitchen Current (December 2013)


Monday, December 9, 2013

If I had a hammer

I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening,
All over this land
I'd hammer out danger,
I'd hammer out a warning,
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.
Peter, Paul, and Mary sang nothing about using one on a kitchen floor. 
Sunday morning brought several inches of snow and slippy roads, but it made a blah looking town look like a Christmas village.  
The mama of House #1 and I prepared to attack the kitchen floor.  We had pry bars, crowbars, hammers, and a digging bar.  The digging bar was our secret weapon.
Like our fireplace?  We borrowed it from dad's garage.  It runs on the same propane tanks used for the outside grill.  It is not going to warm the entire house, but it does take the chill out of the room.  We can move it to any room we are working to warm our toes and noses.
With the digging bar and a LOT of pulling and prying, we were able to remove the top three layers of floor.  The last layer is really stuck and needs some pick, pick, picking to encourage it. 
What a mess.  I forgot garbage bags at the hardware store, that's why the garbage is piled to one side.  They are on tonight's list.  This kitchen floor is the last major demo we have in House #1.  We still have a long way to go, but it is a sure sign of progress and so satisfying.