Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just Do Something!

Ceilings are rough.  I think I have said that previously. I don't think this is the last time I will say those words, either. 
Drywall will take a little bit of handling, but it will also crack if you handle it too much.  Then you've wasted a piece and the seam lady has more seams to fill. 
The ceilings on the first floor are almost 10' high.  2' higher than the ceilings on the second floor.  We had to make a longer crutch, too.
The first piece always takes a little longer because the walls aren't perfectly square and we have to prepare some extra boards . Extra measuring and cutting are required. 
Ladders in place.  Screws in place.  Drill in place.  Walt Kowalski holding the drywall getting monkey arms.
10 foot ceilings and 10 foot sheets of drywall adds at least 10 extra pounds.  We got the second sheet up to the ceiling and locked in place with the crutch, but it wasn't lining up perfectly.  It wasn't even lining up less than perfectly.  It needed a little tweaking and adjusting. 

Walt Kowalski was holding the middle of the board and couldn't let go.  The adjusting was up to me. 

I was useless.  I couldn't move the drywall even an inch.  The crutch was too tight. 

'Just do something!' Walt Kowalski said with tired arms.

'What do you want me to do?' I said moving ladders and juggling drills and adjusting the crutch.

'Just screw something!' Walt Kowalski said. 

*sigh* We got it.  The most important part is that we can laugh about it afterwards.  No mean words were spoken.  Just words spoken with the desperation of tired arms and the image of falling drywall. 

We learn and get better every time we hang a piece of drywall. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Duuun dun duuun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun


You can almost hear the drywall shivering in fear.  The low lighting and white walls makes great shadows. 


It is closing in fast.  Ceilings tonight.  Monkey Arms. 
Walt Kowalski called it Atlas Arms. 
He said 'Because it feels like I'm holding the entire world above my head!'


I have been working on my résumé.  It's torture at times, yet at times I feel very proud of all I have accomplished.  Then my emotions turn and I wonder if I should have been doing something more for the last 17 years and how am I supposed to fit all of my career achievements on one, single page?  These words do not describe who I am and what about the moral and spiritual growth?

I am full of emotions. 

Maybe I just don't know what I want to be when I grow up. :)

It got me thinking about the process.  The hiring process is supposed to be about selecting the best candidate by words, criteria and accomplishments.  The hiring process should not consider appearance. 

Yet so much of life we are judged by appearances.  I am guilty at times.  How many of our first impressions are wrong?  More than we care to admit. 

On Friday, Walt Kowalski and I were fortunate enough to get a lane in the pool.  The warm pool is closed for renovations and the hot tub is closed due to problems, too.  This means the events that normally take place in the warm pool have been relocated to the big pool and the "Hot Tub Club" men are now hanging out in the pool. 

We don't mind.  We share when there is room, but we don't force our way into a lane.  We enjoy swimming, but it is not only our only form of exercise.  For us, it is relaxation.

The on-duty lifeguard Friday afternoon was a young man, with spikey hair, tattoos covering his arms and legs, earrings in both ears, listening to heavy metal music on the radio, and playing along on his air guitar and drums.  He was having a good time at work.

It was louder music than we are normally accustomed to hearing at the pool. But it didn't bother me; I don't hear anything but my own breathing when I'm swimming because I'm underwater. 

In the lane next to us was a woman we see in the pool and the cardio room every week.  I don't know her name, but I recognize her enough to say hello and make small talk.  She rolled her eyes and commented to us on the lifeguard's appearance and taste in music. 

I knew the song he was listening to on the radio.  I even the words to the chorus of the song.  Was it something I would listen to on a daily basis?  No. 

For a split second, I was tempted to just agree with her so she would get on her with her swim and I could continue with mine.  But I didn't.  His appearance had nothing to do with his capacity to do his job.  His taste in loud music had nothing to do with his ability to save my life if I were drowning.

I told her that.  I chuckled as I said it to make it light-hearted, not make it sound like an accusation.

This young man has a good job, spent his own money to be trained, tested and recertified as required.  I said that if his loud music was enough to keep him focused on what is certainly a boring job at times, then I really didn't mind the music.

She smiled, laughed, and agreed with me.  She probably went home and told her husband about the crazy lady at the pool. 

FYI, I like adding the accent marks over vowels. 


Wált Kowáláskí.
Ádvéñtürés Át The Cát Ráñch

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sunny Sunday

What a beautiful day yesterday.  Perfect temperature. Perfect weather.  I love spring. 

I love summer and autumn, too.  I love parts of winter, but not as much as the other three seasons.

We worked around the Cat Ranch again.  Cleaning the forest takes time, but the end results are so worth it.  Over the last few years, we have removed the shrubs and I transplanted many, many hostas.

Late last summer, on the hottest and most humid day of the year, Walt Kowalski & I dug out several of the stumps from the old shrubs along this wall.   I planted more hostas.  Over the last few weeks, I have watched the spots carefully.  All of the other hostas popped through the dirt and are reaching for the sunlight, except for the newly transplanted ones.  :(

With the leaves raked and sticks picked, we were ready to mulch. 

I always underestimate the amount of mulch needed.  The mulch is far enough away from the house, so we aren't concerned about bugs or mold.  We've kept stone as our ground cover near the house. 

The light green leaves of the hostas stand out so well in the dark brown mulch.  Let's hope I didn't create a salad bar for the deer and they don't show up with forks and a bottle of dressing. 
'Mrs. Deer, I hear the Cat Ranch has some tasty treats.'
'Oh, Mr. Deer, that sounds like a wonderful midnight snack.'
In the process of mulching, I uncovered all of the hostas I moved at the end of the season!  I thought they didn't make the cold winter, but I must have planted them deeper than the others! 
Start a new shopping list:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Closing in

Bit by bit the walls are closing in. 

Power Tower finished the wiring on the first floor.  All walls and ceilings can now be finished.  Wow. Wow.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cotton Candy

We bought the big pack of insulation for the ceilings on the first floor.  This will do the living and dining rooms. 

It was squeezed tight and strapped together.  As Walt Kowalski cut it open, it slowly grew.  It was alive. 



It is going to be the warmest house on the block. 

Walt Kowalski did an excellent job.

There are many important things on the label of this insulation. 

Wear protective gear, formaldehyde free, 58% recycled.

But the most important part is the Union Made USA.

Made in the USA.  I started noticing this when we started remodeling.  The plywood, the 2x4s, the drywall, the wire, the light bulbs.  The insulation.  All made in the USA. 

It makes me proud.  Proud the products are made here in the USA.  Proud that I bought those American made products.  Proud of what Walt Kowalski and I are doing. 

It makes me think what more we should do.  What more we can do. Hmmm....

(It does bug me that there is an apostrophe missing on that label.)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New profession?

Maybe I should be a wildlife photographer when I grow up. 

I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning, when I heard some clunking behind me, outside. 


By the time I got my camera and located the clunking noise, this little guy robbed the recycling bin of the empty mixed nut container, and was high-tailing it up through the yard. 

I had to chase after him across the patio to get this out-of-focus shot. 
In my slippers. 

I suppose professional wildlife photographers don't get their best shots in their slippers. 

Yesterday was a gathering and delivering day.  We gathered our supplies for tonight and delivered them. 

Parking is always an issue at House#1.  Parking is only allowed on one side of the street.  The neighbors to the left of us have 2 vehicles.  The neighbors to the right of us have 4 vehicles.  All jockey for front parking.  There is lots of side street and back alley parking available. 

(To the extreme that one neighbor will even wait in his work van if he thinks we might be leaving in a few minutes.  The other neighbor will dash out of the house to move their car when he sees us leave, too.)

Yes, I know, everybody likes to be able to walk out of their front door and take only 5 steps to get in their car. 

With Big Red, we are often the ones using the side street parking.  We don't mind. It is a less than  half block walk.

Except when there is drywall or plywood to be carried. Then I want the front parking, too. We have done the double park to unload Big Red, then move to the side street.  But it's not just about the parking.  We don't like trying to maneuver large items around their vehicles. There is too big a risk that we might slip or trip.  

We figured out that if we get to House #1 before 4:30, we can get a parking space in front of the house.

Drywall, insulation, and 2x4s delivered. 

I put a quick coat of mud on the seams in the dining and living rooms. 

Seam fanatics will be pleased.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Back and Forth

Jumping Beans might also be a good title. 

We do a lot of jumping back and forth. 

Back and forth between the upstairs and down stairs at House #1. 
Back and forth between the living room and dining room at House #1. 
Back and forth between House #1 and House #2. 
Back and forth between House #1 and the Cat Ranch.

The weather was beautiful this weekend.  The yard of the Cat Ranch has been neglected.  The firewood pile is empty.  There are leaves and sticks around the yard and in the garden. The grass is getting high.  The bonfire pile of old boards and branches was overflowing. 

I know it drives Walt Kowalski crazy to keep jumping back and forth.  Sometimes it's unavoidable. 

Walt Kowalski got out all of the solar lights and charged them. 6 of them didn't charge and glow after it got dark Saturday night.  I need to buy a few new batteries. 

While Walt Kowalski cleaned up the bonfire pile, chopped some branches, and stacked more firewood, I raked.  And raked. And raked.  And raked.  I'm only about 1/3 complete, but it's already looking so much better. 

The next campfire. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wildlife updates

Some days around the cat ranch, life is quiet. 

Other days it's Animal Farm. 

Here's just an update of the local wildlife. 

Here's a photo of a jake (a juvenile male turkey) in the neighbor's yard. Walt Kowalski saw him through the trees and across the driveway.

Here is the Fluffy Cocoa in the wild.  Or as wild as you can get when you have a belly full of sunbeams.

Yoo Hoo, our local friendly raccoon, still stops by every evening for a snack.  The last few mornings we found our back patio recycling bin tipped over and the cans and bottles scattered around the patio. 

We blamed Yoo Hoo until a few  nights ago.

It wasn't Yoo Hoo, it was an opossum.  She's (or he) is very good at walking the rim of the recycling bin.

Finally, the true owner of Adventures at the Cat Ranch...

Monday, April 21, 2014

What a wall of a weekend

We got so much done on Friday evening and Saturday. Skipping the gym isn't good for our waistlines but it is good for remodeling.

Friday evening we insulated and hung drywall on the long wall in the living room.

We struggled with this wall for a bit.  The house is not square. 

Saturday we were going to work on windows because it was a beautiful day, but instead did more drywall. 

This is the wall between the laundry room and ding room.


This wall was easy.  It was straight, square, and the 2x4s were in the proper locations.  That's because we built this wall. 

Power Tower, the electrician was over on Saturday and he's moving right along, too.


Power Tower is finishing the cabling in the dining room, so Walt Kowalski and I insulated and then started hanging boards.

4x10 sheets are awkward at times, but really complete a wall fast.   

There are lots of screws and seams for me to work on this week.  :)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Keep plugging

The other evening was a hockey night which means...nachos.  Add a side of lettuce and some grilled chicken and, except for the sodium, it's not a totally un-nutritious meal.  Mighty tasty, too. 

Walt Kowalski made me a platform so I could plaster the seams and screws on the steps.  It was very secure and worked perfect.

In the mean time...he was downstairs insulating the living room. 


Power Tower, the electrician, is wiring his way around.  Walt Kowalski has the plan to drywall and tonight we'll check this wall off the list. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Step, step, steppity, step

Walking, there are 2,000 steps in a mile. 
There are 12 stairs from the first floor to the second floor at House #1. 
A flight of stairs does not equal a certain number of steps.  A flight is one floor of stairs, and does not exceed twelve steps. Flights are usually composed of ten to twelve steps. 
There are 86 flights of stairs in the Empire State Building. Some days I do that many between the upstairs and basement. 
From where is this term 'flight of stairs' derived?  The interwebs couldn't give me a definitive answer.  The best I found was that in English ‘a flight’ also came to mean a collection, set, or grouping of things such as a ‘flight of birds.’ Stairs are a collection. 
Ok, I can see that. 
We insulated underneath the stairs so the cold air couldn't migrate down from the attic.  
Do you like the scaffolding? Walt Kowalski is planning to put in additional boards when I'm ready to plaster. 

Bit by bit we are closing in the old with new. 

The permit for the windows was easy today.  Window installation this weekend.  :)  I am jealous already. 

Laughs in Storage

It's been rough couple of days. 

Rain, sleet, snow, and this happening yesterday didn't help.

Walt Kowalski *just* made it to work.  He said Big Red stalled twice and then all types of error messages and lights appeared on the dash.  It looks so sad, but it will be ok.  The tow man was very nice. 

I had about an hour and half between when I called for a tow and when he arrived, so I worked on cleaning out some boxes in storage.  Things were put in storage several years ago when we remodeled the game room and I have neglected getting back to clean out. (Really, what else have I have been doing?) In just a little time, I got two full boxes ready for donation, combined several other boxes of cooking items, and found some items I was missing.

Specifically, I found the journal I kept when Miss Wendy, BA, and I went on holiday.  I kept notes of what we did during the day, where and who we visited, what we ate and where we ate, and funny stories.

Here is one of those stories that made me laugh and helped raise my spirits.

After dinner, we went home to Ian's and Miss Wendy wanted a slice of pie.  She microwaved her slice on a plastic dish for a few moments.  At the beep, the pie wasn't hot, just the dish was hot. 

Ian said 'Oh you can't do that. It says no microwave on the bottom of the dish.'
Miss Wendy said 'No, it doesn't.  It says Made in Taiwan.'
BA said, 'Yeah, that's Taiwanese for Do not microwave.'

Another funny moment was while we were browsing through a small shop.  Purse and handbag thieves are very common, so keeping your bag close is a must. During browsing, Miss Wendy's bag got snagged on the handle of a grandmother's Zimmer Frame (what we call a walker.)

Miss Wendy proclaimed 'Well, now we know who the hand bag thieves are!'  Miss Wendy and the grandmother laughed and laughed.

One last story for the day.

After a long day Ian was exhausted and BA offered to make him a cup of tea.  He liked the idea and liked the tea.  BA said 'See, even an American can make a good cup of tea.'  Ian said 'Well, of course you can. The water was British, the tea was British, and the cream was British. Of course you can make a proper cup of English tea.'

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Windows are next.  Walt Kowalski drew up the plans.  I need to print them and then head to the zoning office for a permit. 

You can replace windows with no permit, but we want to make the windows a little smaller. That requires a permit. 

 Here is the window that is currently the hall but will eventually become a closet.


Drywall for the stairs tonight.