Monday, March 31, 2014

Ceilings on a Sunday

You don't get action shots when installing drywall on the ceiling.  In this case, the photographer is also the drywall holder.

The first piece was rough.  More than rough.  Extra time must be added to everything I do because I have to move the ladder.  And because I'm clumsy.
We measured and cut the drywall, positioned the ladders, positioned the drills and screws to be within arm's reach, and maneuvered the drywall into the room.  You can't see it in this photo, but we screwed a 2x4 to the wall lengthwise near the ceiling.  This would allow us to rest one end of the drywall against the wall near the ceiling while one of us held the other end of the drywall (Walt Kowalski) and the other person moved the ladders (me).   
It was a good system. 
Once we got the drywall positioned, and Walt Kowalski was holding it up, I moved the ladder, climbed up and helped hold with my head.  That way I could have two hands available to screw the drywall to the ceiling while Walt Kowalski continued to hold.
It was a good system. 
Until I accidentally knocked the drill off the top of the ladder.   Walt Kowalski wasn't happy.  He was getting monkey arms from holding.  We *finally* got the first piece installed and Walt Kowalski had another plan. 
A crutch.
This was an even better plan. No rushing because of monkey arms. No ladder climbing needed for head support.  I could position the crutch and tighten it into place with my foot.

It could be removed and replaced as needed.  As with everything, we learn and get better as we go.

The second piece was much easier with the crutch. The holes for the ceiling fixture and smoke detector lined up perfectly with only a small gap around.

Ever heard the quote from Maya Angelou?

You can tell a lot about a person by how they handle three things:
1. A rainy day
2. Lost luggage
3. Tangled Christmas tree lights

I can add a fourth.

4. Installing drywall on the ceiling with a short person.

Walt Kowalski passes.  There are other things I can add to that list, too.

The Purple Room

There are days we don't have any energy.  I don't have the energy.  We're sluggish and tired and can find a thousand other things we would rather be doing than what we *have* to do.  We drag ourselves out of bed, drag ourselves to the kitchen, and drag ourselves to work. 

No amount of tea or coffee is going to help on those days.

Then there days we go like fire. 

For me, I have found a direct relationship between sunshine and motivated days.  Warm and sun is best.  Cold and sun is ok, too. 

I am solar powered.  The longer days of light are helping. 

Friday after work, we headed straight to House #1.  We had a plan and we were motivated. 

The bathroom. 

We already picked up and delivered the drywall to the house.  The "green board" is actually purple colored.  It is a moisture resistant board used in wet areas.  Bathrooms, kitchens and the laundry.

(The paper on the drywall used to be colored green to distinguish between regular and moister resistant.  It's purple now.)

It is cut in the same 8' x 4' foot pieces as regular drywall, but because of the moisture resistant qualities, it's heavier.  (Ok, arm workout.  Let's just hold this board above our heads against this wall for a few minutes. Ok, lift! Monkey arms!) 

We did the itchy insulation work the previous night. I told Walt Kowalski I don't mind doing the insulation, but we have to do it at the end of the day so we can go directly home to the shower and washing machine.  Do not stop.  Do not pass go. Take clothes off in laundry room.  Put directly into washing machine.

Mold and Moisture Resistant. Two of my favorite qualities.

You can see our scribbles for stud locations.  You think you know where the studs are located, but in this old house, nothing is where it should be.

We finished half of the room Friday night.  Hunger was the reason we had to stop for the night. 

Walt Kowalski and I were both thinking the same thing "Let's stop on the way home for a fish sandwich.  We could call and order sandwiches for take-out or we could eat at the restaurant. No dishes to clean up and no cats to help." 

We ate there. 

Saturday's weather forecast was for rain. We were up early to beautiful, blue skies and sunshine. I had no desire to work inside.  The yard and garden are calling to me.  "Come, rake leaves, and dig in the dirt."

The rain finally came around 2pm. 

We finished hanging the green board on the bathroom walls.

I taped and mudded the seams while Walt Kowalski prepped the insulation for the ceiling.

We wanted the most insulation possible in the attic, but we also didn't want to inhibit air flow.  Solution:  these things...

Walt Kowalski stapled them to the roof in the attic.  This guaranteed the insulation wouldn't block the air flow.

Insulation before:

Insulation after:

With two of us working together ,the insulation installation (that's tricky to say) goes quick.  Don't touch your face.  Wear long sleeves.  Don't think about itching.  Sometimes it's mental. Sometimes it's just itchy.

(This was just Friday night and Saturday.)

Friday, March 28, 2014


Last night, Walt Kowalski and I went to the gym.  Afterwards, he dropped me off at the Cat Ranch.  I started making dinner and he headed to the home improvement store for a few items for tonight's project.

When he got home, he took the garbage and recycling to the curb and ran the sweeper. 

After dinner, I loaded the dishwasher and then put a load of towels in the washing machine.  Then I sat with Walt Kowalski, watched part of a movie, and played silly internet games. 

I should have prepped dinner for tonight. 
I didn't.
I should have moved the towels from the washer to the dryer. 
I didn't.
I should have chopped vegetables for lunches and dinners this weekend.
I didn't. 
I should have put the clean clothes away.
I didn't.
I should have emptied dirty clothes from the gym bags.
I didn't.

The list of should haves is endless. 

It wasn't a totally unproductive evening. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Think Pink

This is the bathroom.  It's big, but there is room for a future closet, cabinets, or countertop. 

Action photo.  Bet you never knew insulation could be action packed. 


We started on a ceiling, too.

With both of us working together, it went really well.  We were still very itchy when we were done.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Yooo hoooo

That's the original YooHoo in the front and one of her babies in the back.  She has another, but it didn't come last night. 

Of course, Fudge did not take an eye off of them. 

They liked the left over tortilla chips.  I'm surprised they didn't knock and ask for salsa or buffalo chicken dip. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Who is handing out naps?

Walt Kowalski and I both admitted it today...we are tired.  A long weekend of drywall is rough. 

By my calculations, we carried 1833 pounds of drywall.  That's 37 trips to the second floor and back down again.

But look how nice it looks:

I still have a long way to go on my seams. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Don't call OSHA.


I am doing the seam work.  We are going to have to get proper scaffolding. In case you don't know, I'm not tall. 
I am amazed how fast the drywall goes up.
Bare studs.
Add a little insulation.  

Some people don't insulate inside walls.  We did for several reasons.  1. This is also the stairs to the attic.  It gets very hot and very cold up in the attic.  2.  The insulation will also help reduce sound between rooms.

Add some drywall.

Add some more drywall. 

Tomorrow I need to work on patching seams and screw holes. I'm going to repeat that statement often. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Is that a hall?

They were making alphabet soup at the home improvement store this morning.
They are going to need a bigger pot. (A little JAWS humor.)

Drywall was on today's agenda (and tomorrow's and the next day).

In one afternoon, we transformed the upstairs. Now you can really see where the hall is.

The drywall added such definition to the rooms and hall.  Wow.  Wow.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Can you tell me how to get...

Part of me enjoys working next to the education department.  They are always working on arts and crafts projects.
Today we went to the conference room to have a meeting and the table was covered in these monsters. 

They are preparing for a dinner with WQED.  I suspect we'll see more fun items like this in the weeks to come. 

Makes me want to do arts and crafts.  Then I remember last night's sewing episode.  I'll stick to drywall for a while.

Sew What!

I can sew.  As kids we were taught to sew and then in middle school we had sewing class.  Along with cooking, drafting, and wood shop. 

I can't sew like Miss Wendy or Miss Sarah.  They can sew circles around me and then add flourish to those circles.  I can get by. 

I don't often have the opportunity to sew because more often than not I have things I need to mend.

I hate mending.

I consider sewing to be creative and fun.
I consider mending to be torture. 

Sewing...let's make a new bag!

Mending...I caught the pocket of my favorite jacket on the door knob and ripped it.  Now whatever is in my pocket falls out so I either have to buy a new jack or fix this one.

Sewing...let's make an apron for the kids!

Mending...I ripped the hem of my pants on my heel and now my heel gets caught on them every time I walk and my pants get wet when it rains so I have to fix it or buy new pants.

See the difference?

Here is my current mending situation:

My swimsuit. 

You're thinking 'a swimsuit in March?'  Yes, Walt Kowalski and I swim at the gym several nights a week.  I bought a swimsuit with special material that won't fade or disintegrate in the pool.   However, they didn't use special thread to hold the pieces of the swimsuit together.  All of the seams are unraveling.  My swimsuit is literally falling apart at the seams.  The body of the suit is fine, but I accidentally mooned several children at the pool because the seam at my rear came apart.  (I wondered why I felt a breeze.)

Walt Kowalski: "Buy a new suit."
Me: "I can fix this.  It's just the seams."

I don't have the sewing machine set up on a table all the time.  That would make the process 1000 times easier.  Right now, the sewing machine is in storage.  So the mending ends up in a pile.  In this case, a bag or several bags.

Here's my sewing machine:

1977 Singer Stylist

It even does button holes. Grammy taught me. Actually, this is her sewing machine.  She does less sewing than I do.  It's got a nice carrying/storage case and I know how to use it. 

After the gym one night, Walt Kowalski stopped at storage and picked it up for me.  Brought it home and sewed his jacket pocket and my jacket pocket.  Then I brought out my swimsuit. 

The swimsuit material is slippy and slippy material doesn't always run through the machine very well. I knew this when I started. 

Started struggling, that is.  I struggled through one seam and the stitches weren't very even, but they held.  I struggled through another seam.  Then I struggled with that same seam again.

Walt Kowalski: "Buy a new suit."

I'm determined to fix this suit.  It's my favorite.  After continued struggling I came to the conclusion this material just wasn't going to feed well through the machine and I was going to have to sew it by hand. 

Walt Kowalski: "Buy a new suit."

Ok fine, I'll work some other mending in the bags.  There were at least 5 pair of jeans that needed small repairs.  These aren't good jeans, they are work jeans. Extra pairs of work jeans are always handy. 

Now I'm struggling with the jeans having the same problem I was with the suit, the material just won't feed.

OK, now I will try just a piece of simple material.  Nothing thick.  Nothing slippy. 

Nope, still won't feed through.

Crap crap crap. 

The feed dogs (the proper term) weren't moving.  The feed dog is the part under the needle that pulls the material through the sewing machine.  Logic tells me that this is a moving part so it's either jammed full of fuzz or broken. 

Walt Kowalski "Buy a new suit."

Oh no, I cannot let a sewing machine get the best of me.  Get me a screwdriver and the internet.

1 screw driver + 1 internet and 5 minutes later I get the bottom of the machine open, find a schematic of gears and lots of little broken gear pieces.

Walt Kowalski "Buy a new machine."

It's just a gear.  A little more searching, I found a replacement gear and directions how to replace it. A new machine would be a great investment if I sewed more often.  Or ever.

A new gear will be enough.

In the meantime, I just happen to have another sewing machine in storage.  It was my grandmother's and to my knowledge still works.  No, I don't have a storage full of old Singer sewing machines.

It is a Singer.  Just subtract a few more years. The internet tells me it is a late 40s early 50s model.

Walt Kowalski: "Buy a new suit."

I laced the thread through what I thought was the right way and tried it out.  Nothing.  No stitches.  After struggling to thread the machine again, I went back to the internet and found a users manual. 

Walt Kowalski: "Buy a new suit."

I was doing it backwards. 

Once I got it threaded properly, it worked!  The machine sewed perfectly.  I can now swim again.  Not nearly as many options as the newer machines, but it will get me through until I can order a new gear for the other model.  I even mended an entire bag of clothes. 

Walt Kowalski: "Buy a new suit."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Paw Paw Paw

Cocoa Fluff loves to paw at things.  She's always pawing at the inside of my gardening.  If you lay an empty cereal box on the floor she'll paw at it like she's playing an instrument. and she loves, loves, loves pawing at the glass at the backdoor.  Two paws together at the same time.  Always before meals. 
We splurged this weekend and bought cupcakes.  Walt Kowalski brought the box up from the basement so I could put half of the cupcakes in the freezer.  The empty box went on the floor for inspection. 
Every furry creature in the house thoroughly inspected the box by sitting on it or laying on it.
Cocoa Fluff pawed it like she was playing a song. The clear shiny "window" in the lid made a crinkly noise, but didn't scare her.  Out of the four of them, she liked it the best.
This morning when I came out to the kitchen she was sitting on it again.
Paw. Paw. Paw.  Snap. The glue holding the clear window to the top of the box gave loose and she feel through the box window into the box.

That made the box even better.    I bet she's still in box when we get home.

The jug of wine in the background is accidental.  I want to make stew. 
Stew with wine?  Yes. Delicious. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Pox

Actually, I think it looks more like when smear calamine lotion on your skin after you've got the poison ivy. 
Then again, maybe it's more like polka dots. Yes, I like that better.  Less itchy. 

Heaven knows I will have the poison soon enough. 

I just put a very light first coat on the taped seams and screws.  The cat ranch has textured plaster and when we remodeled the game room, I did a similar textured look on the walls. 

However, I think we're going to do a smooth skim coat in House#1.  It will be faster.  I enjoyed creating the textured coat at the Cat Ranch, but at times I agonized over it attempting to make the next swirl "perfect" to the last swirl. 

Do I smell spring?

The snowdrops are blooming.  Spring is only a few days away.  After having a taste of warm weather a couple of weeks ago, I am ready.

There are two patches of snowdrops that come up every spring.  They aren't anywhere near anything in the yard.  And every year after they are done blooming I say "I need to move them so they are near the house and the garden."  And every year I lose them when the grass grows around them. They just look like a tall patch of grass. 

I am determined this year.  I might get a can of orange spray paint and put a large circle around them so I can find them when they are gone to seed. 

Then again, right now they are next to the large divot in the ground my body made when I fell last week.  I can laugh about it now.

Monday, March 17, 2014

And more walls


You thought you were tired of seeing 2x4s? You're going to be tired of seeing drywall next!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

There be walls


There be walls!  Very exciting. It's just one room right now, but it's coming along.  Bit by bit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Spaghetti is the most famous cut of pasta. Long, thin and round, spaghetti literally means “lengths of cord” (spaghetti is the diminutive of “spago,” meaning cord or string). A versatile pasta, it can be used in almost any kind of dish and with almost any thickness of sauce.

Angel hair is Walt Kowalski's favorite. They are tasty.

I like the different shapes. I made a pepperoni ziti bake a few weeks ago.  Delicious.

Bowties make a nice presentation for a pasta salad. (Here they are called butterflies.) I made mac and cheese with gemelli just the other day. 

Last night we had a different type of spaghetti.
Cable, category 5 for the internet, and telephone wire.  Not as tasty as spaghetti.