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|Sunday, February 16th, 2014|
has been quiet for quite a while, there are reasons; many of them good, some not.
Anyway, expect to start seeing more entries here starting, likely, this week. Work on Mandala House is starting to pick up with a rapid pace, which pleases us.
to that end, the first post:
There I was, walking along through Lowe's, minding my own business, looking for garbage cans, when suddenly I found myself in need of a hand truck...
It appears that Catt and I bought a new sink for the back bathroom; and a new faucet to go with. We've been talking about this since September actually, and we were looking today and found a better sink, more suited to the space, for less money. Amusingly, the faucet cost a dollar more than the sink.
So, it wouldn't be quite as amusing, if it weren't for the fact that in the last 7 days we now have a tally of: a new faucet for the kitchen sink; the bathroom items mentioned above; aannnndddd, a new range for the kitchen. Adding to that will be the new porch in the spring when our contractor can actually work.
It appears that Mandala House is making her will known for the spring.
|Monday, April 16th, 2012|
Summertime, and the living is weedy
So now that the weird, Not-Even-Winter has passed here in upstate NY, it's now time once again to stop looking around the place and thinking 'damn, I've got to get to that soon,' and starting to... well, get TO some of that.
It's begun with the gardens. Last year, due to my health issues, I officially turned the gardening over to aquila_dominus
. I helped build the garden boxes, and I did a bit of the watering and harvesting, but overall, I kept to the indoors and let the outdoors see to itself. This year it is not happening that way. At all.
We've already started a bed of peas, and put in broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces, garlic, and shallots. We've seeded the end of one of the beds for carrots and beets, put in a new blueberry and blackberry bush (well, bare root canes, which will take a couple of years to get to bearing size, by which time we'll have a permanent home for them, we like to think,) and started tomatoes and peppers inside for later on in the month.
Meanwhile, I've been pulling maple sprouts by the hundreds, digging up random poisonous weeds (hello, pokeweed and nightshade, howthehellareya!?) and getting abreast of all the pruning chores I did not do last winter. I've moved the firewood out of the spot where another garden plot will go, and laid the footprint out for it, we've pulled out the soil around the back deck, where the old herb garden was meant to be, so we can take the chainsaw to that bad boy soon, and get a gravel bed down as a placeholder for it (much less slippery and dangerous, you see.)
And then... oh, then, The Back Fence. You see, it's been held up with string, chewing gum, and determined denial of gravity for about four years now. Problem is, when the fence was put in originally, they just buried the wood posts in the dirt without any kind of footing at all. This was well over twenty years ago, mind. It's a fucking miracle this thing has stood so long at all. But at this point, all the fence posts are resting on the dirt, subject to every little breeze that happens to wander by, and propped haphazardly on both sides. We've got to get new posts into place, solidly secure them, and then figure out how to reuse the extant palings with the new configuration, because we canNOT bloody well afford to replace those too just now. And besides; they're in pretty good shape, overall.
Then there will be the framing-in of the side porch to become a lockable shed for the bicycles, lawnmower, and snowthrower. And THEN there will be the finishing up of the shoe-room's demolition, fixing the leaky bathtub in the room above it, moving the radiator, taking up the hardwood floor, taking OUT the window, and replacing it with a door, adding steps, and then... well then we turn it over to the electrician while we buy sheetrock and tile. But after that, the reconstruction of the room can FINALLY begin. I can't tell you how exciting it will be to have a usable room in that chunk of hallway for a change!
And in the meantime, Mandala House's gardens are blooming just as fast as they can. Tulips and lavender, lilies and violets, roses and cherry blossoms and bleeding heart and dandelions and azalea and hyacinth and lilacs and rowan all making the most of the early warmth we've been given this year. It's beautiful right now.
It will be beautiful this year, as well.
Beautiful, and busy!
|Sunday, May 8th, 2011|
New York abstains... courteously!
The abstinence in question being from bitching about The Show, Being Tired, Relationships, Writing Is Hard, or Money for the duration of this post. You're welcome.
So in a fit of frustrated determination last week, I decided to take out my pique on the chain link fence on the Southeast side of the property. I'd taken down the one on the Southwest two years ago, and had loved the way it opened up the side yard to the light.
The other side of it was nearer the entry door, and wanted the reformation even more desperately. So, lacking traction in any of the other frustrating arenas of my life, I set my will, determination, and not inconsiderable body mass to ripping chain link support poles out of the muddy springtime ground, with or without their concrete plugs attached, and to detatching chain mesh therefrom. (I've had help with that, by the way -- another redheaded amazon, name of Maggie, known and loved by all, hereabouts, it seems.)
We plan to use what poles we can salvage from the chain link fence to replace the rotted-out wooden poles in the back fence this summer. (Turns out the reason we've been having such trouble with that back fence recently, is that the people who put it in thought they might save some money, and just bury the wood posts into the ground without benefit of concrete anchorage. Oddly enough, they've all rotted away at the soil line, and as of right now the only thing holding the fence upright at all is the bracing we've installed to nurse it along over the past few years.) So we're planning on being excessively clever about things, and rigging a fusion system that will allow us to recycle the intact panel sections and have them supported by metal poles between. No, it won't look like a DIY channel special, but by god it won't rot out while we're trying to get other bloody things done!
So, attendant to removing the fence, we had a metric shitload of leaf- and other-trash to remove from that sideyard, as well as from the area of the backyard where, until Friday, we'd stacked the remnants of the old pool deck. (I finally hit the wall on that one, and called a haul-it-away service on that shite. Wept myself a little tear of joy after they finished, and handed over $300 of my book fund with only a little wince.)
Over the past several days, we have filled ten leaf bags, added three or four full barrels of leaftrash to our current compost pile, dug up countless maple sprouts and invasive seedlings, built a bed for my sage plants out of recycled bricks, and planted three varieties of sage therein. My backyard hasn't looked this good in years.
I expect there will be pictures tomorrow.
And now, I'm going to bed!
|Saturday, July 31st, 2010|
Mandala-quote of the day
Declaration upon the sweeping-out of the foyer hallway
: "Good Cod! We don't have dust bunnies, we have dust livestock!"
|Sunday, July 11th, 2010|
A Tale of Shoe Room -- a farce in entirely too many acts.
So, in a nutshell;
Several years ago, flush with our success in redecorating our kitchen, I looked at aquila_dominus
and said "Honey, why don't we do something about the cake batter plaster
we hate so much, and the nasty, painted-over velvet-flock wallpaper
in the shoe room? I mean, since we have to patch the hole in the ceiling
where the upstairs toilet was leaking anyway
. We could just freshen up the paint in there, get rid of the yellow pastel
and it'd be the work of a month or so, right? What could possibly go wrong?"
Ladies and gentlemen, he managed to agree to this with a straight face.
That straight face did fall a little bit when we found the 1973 synthetic wood panelling
UNDER the painted-over velvet-flocked wallpaper though. And it fell still more when we found the moldy, rotting plaster
BEHIND the warped and molding 1973 synthetic wood panelling under the painted-over velvet-flocked wallpaper. And... well
, things just kept on getting more and more
(Believe me, kids, that was the SHORT version of the story.)
So ANYway. Fast forward past two years of floods, falls, freakouts, faking it rather spectacularly well, broken bones, broken budgets, panicked trips next door to consult the City Engineer God Love And Keep Him Always, and a whole lot of learning how to do this stuff as we go along, we at Mandala House find ourselves facing what I like to fondly call... The FUN Part.( Here follows much plaster and bandwidth carnage. You have been warned.Collapse )
And then we remembered: God loves us, for he has given us the wonder that is ... Sawzall.
(To be continued...)
The Middle Street paypal donation button. Testing things out...
So. For what it's worth, we are setting up a Mandala House repair kitty for fans, followers, and sympathizers of Our House in the Middle of the Street.
We will also be putting some effort into doing at least one house-based post every Sunday, along with some photos of whatever we've got going on, just by way of keeping things from falling into another six month hush like we've had earlier this year. It's not that we've not been DOING anything on Mandala House, you see, just that we've not been documenting our adventures. And so we shall henceforth attempt to make our trials, tribulations, triumphs and moments of terror a bit more public, and hopefully entertaining as well.
And if you find yourself entertained, and with a couple of dollars to spare, we'll try to remember to put out the repair kitty as well. Because as we say so often, She's an old house and we love her, but our grand old Lady is terribly terribly needy.
|Tuesday, July 6th, 2010|
Early in the Spring, early enough that we were wearing flannels for most of the work, Clue and I took out the 10'x10' patio in the back yard. This patio was laid using those pre-form concrete things that's supposed to look like stones... well it's also supposed to be set on a base which this one was not. The whole thing was in bad shape and we had better ideas for the individual stones since we now knew they were individual. We pried up the lot and gave ourselves a new path by the partially laid new cobblestone patio. I do not have photos of the patio before we started as, well, we didn't take any... ever.
The only real change from these photos till now is that there is a free standing planting bed taking up 1/2 of the old pad site. A second will be built this summer and prepped for gardening next spring.( Cut for bandwith considerationsCollapse ) Current Mood: tipsy
|Monday, December 21st, 2009|
managed to close up the house... and get pictures up.
I should have had the photos done earlier but we went from 'finish the wall mode' to 'clean for a party' mode. The party's over and now I've got the photos done.( The progress report, with photosCollapse ) Current Mood: accomplished
|Sunday, November 8th, 2009|
|Sunday, September 13th, 2009|
A day of rest... inbetween bouts of work, that is.
Being Wiccan, I don't have much trouble with not keeping the Sabbath holy -- for me, every day is holy, including and especially days on which work is to be done. So it's not a big thang for me to fill up any given sunday with hard work, just in aid of getting things done while I've a partner in house to help hold up the ends I can't reach, or to achieve chores that are just a bit out of my solo range.
Like this weekend, for instance.
Having spent the previous long weekend freaking out, and then cleaning up the impending workspace for our sill repair, we took a step back this weekend, and thought about things logically. To whit, we're going to be needing to haul 80 lb bags of concrete, eight and ten foot boards, steel columns, and other such delights down into the basement in order to get the work done. Trouble with this, is that the exterior basement stairs are *or were, prior to yesterday,* approximately worthless. They had been sort of Frankensteined together in the first place, out of inferior, untreated wood, and then sheltered under a 'roof' that was decidedly not waterproof, and so where they hadn't rotted through, they had sprouted great white fields of mold and fungus. Last time either of us stepped a foot onto them, we went through -- a step that had been two inches thick when installed. The other access to the basement is in slightly better repair, but is a tight-wound spiral staircase, and getting long timbers and columns down that twist was just NOT going to happen.
So we devised a plan. And said plan involved demolishing the exterior stairs, and replacing them with dry-stacked cinderblock. Given that the entire basement entrance pit is going to have to be re-dug, and lined with reinforced concrete sometime in the next five years (damn frost-heave, anyway!) we decided that dry stacking the block was the only reasonably sturdy, and non-wasteful approach we could achieve without diverting ourselves drastically from our planned repairs.
The demolition went terrifyingly easily. It was disgusting, it was filthy, it involved some far bigger spiders than either Dominus or I were entirely prepared to meet at eye level, and it also involved some hasitly improvised supports for steps that were in free fall, and we hadn't realized it all summer. (Remember what I said about us not using the exterior basement steps for a long time?) But we got 'er done. Then we schlepped 24 cinderblocks into my truck from Home Despot -- about all we could fit onto their cart, and all we were comfortable loading into my VUE, -- then got them from the street to the back yard by dolly. From there, I handed them down to Dominus for placement in situ. It took us most of the day, and at the end if the job, we established that we needed at least 35 more blocks to finish it out.
Today, we picked up 20 more, as well as the 2x8 we'll need to frame up the concrete molds that will go in the basement, under the new support columns. Once we've both rested a bit, we're going to break the Dolly back out, and truck this load around to the back yard. Given that there'll be no demolition and cleanup involved today, it should go a bit faster, I'm hoping.
We're withholding comment on whether we'll get the last of the block we need tonight, or just wait until tomorrow to do it -- it's fairly important to remember that neither of us is 20 anymore. And that we've nothing to prove by hurting ourselves. The upshot of it all is, however, that we'll be ready to drill the rebar and pour concrete by next weekend, and that thenceforth we'll not have to be scared to take the exterior entrance into the basement.
Except where the spiders are concerned, of course.
|Monday, September 7th, 2009|
did not go as planned.
This Labor Day weekend was predicted as 3 days of perfect weather for working on the house. We set out to replace the clapboard on the section of the shoe room that started the projects all those long months ago (turning into years now). We knew there was some wood rot on the sill and studs, how could there not be after all these years. The hope was that it would take a full day of work to repair. The plan was that it would take two with the third in reserve for the worst case. As they say in the military, no plan survives first contact with the enemy...
Our worst case turned out worse than either of us could have possibly imagined.( What happenedCollapse ) Current Mood: distressed
|Saturday, June 6th, 2009|
a productive day.
It started with a trip to Home Depot to get the needed materials to finish the project and then a return home. Once home we got all the tools needed out into the work area, selected the clapboard for use and then got to work. The work started a bit slow but once we got into the groove things went much more quickly. Unfortunately, part of finding that groove involved me getting stung by a bee. What we learned today is that yes I'm still allergic, yes the allergy is still mild, benedryl topical and pills are a wonderful thing and no we did not end up going to the emergency room.
The clapboard is now on the wall and caulked. Once the caulk dries we will get back on the roof and prime then paint but we did manage to get the project as far as possible today. The painting will either be tomorrow or during the week. All and all, a productive day.
and now ( Clue and a roof...Collapse )
We also managed to put all the tools away, which for us is a major accomplishment as well. Additionally, ( we have a new addition to the familyCollapse ) Current Mood: accomplished
|Wednesday, May 13th, 2009|
It's an ex-fence.
So, for want of any creative juice whilst Dominus is off cavorting in Denver, I tapped into some destructive juices instead.
There used to be a fence there. Not much of a fence, true -- rather manky, and prone to sway dangerously when so much as a cat brushed up against it, but for all that it was till a suprising amount of work to take it down. Things were complicated by the neighbor's lovely hostas on one side, and by my prickly Wild Bess rose on the other. And by the spiders, of course, but only a couple of those bit me, and so far I don't seem to be developing spinnerettes in my wrists, or accidentally climbing the walls to lurk about the ceiling, so I'm thinking I'll be okay.
I managed the job in two days with a claw bar, an impact driver, and a bit of aggro. Tomorrow, I believe I'm going to see if I can figure out how to get rid of the old, bent-up chain-link fence that runs from the lilac bushes (down right,) to the house, which gets a little more crushed each year when the ice dams fall off the slate roof. Since we've taken out the pool, there's no real liability reason for having the chain link fences there, and personally, I think they're an eyesore, so I would rather by far that they were gone. The only thing I'll miss about them, is when the purple morning glories come in later this summer, but I'm sure I can rig some kind of lattice there for them to climb. Later on this summer, Dominus and I will install a new fence at the rear of the house, where it will be safe from ice-falls, but also we'll be putting in something rather nicer than chain link for it. And in the meantime, I'm going to start on plans for a rose garden in the side yard that the fence's removal will open up to the sun.
So -- any procedural suggestions on how a maid alone, with some power tools, but no recourse to assistance, ought to tackle the job of taking out 20-odd feet of 6 foot chain link fence?
|Sunday, April 19th, 2009|
Clue and I
have been notoriously bad about posting photos of the reconstruction. We've been taking them mind you, just not posting them. This is somewhat photo heavy, thus ( The Cut TagCollapse )
|Tuesday, February 24th, 2009|
|Sunday, October 12th, 2008|
Yesterday, great big huge progress was made on the porch of doom. After Clue broke her collar bone coming off the ladder last month, nothing much has happened on the side porch project other than purchasing some lumber. Yesterday a friend of ours came over and we completely transformed the are into something that I can now complete the work on by myself. We put facing boards on the house, saturated felt over that, rafters, the decking (no mean feat for just two guys) and then the box frame. There's still plenty of work to do but I can do all the rest on my own. I might just take a day off work to do same so I don't chew up a week day.( The TransformationCollapse ) Current Mood: accomplished
|Saturday, September 13th, 2008|
But all I really wanna do is take an axe and smash something!
No, it isn't a politics post, I promise.
We're still stalled on the side porch project. Weather turned tits up yesterday around noon, and it hasn't stopped since. Thanks, Ike, ya bastard. I know you're still down in the gulf, but it's convenient to blame you, and I figure everyone else is, so why the hell not?
Anyway. Turns out the siding we need to replace isn't made anymore. Hasn't been made since the 1830's or so, which is when the back half of the house was built. There's something we can get that's marginally close, but it won't look like anything other than the patch job it is. Our other option was that we might install a band of cedar shake there, which we CAN still get, and act like it was a deliberate design choice, picking up the shake on the turret on the other corner of the house. This isn't too far fetched, either, since yesterday I noticed that the house next door -- the one owned by the Troy City Engineer, has a band of cedar shake from the roof of their garage-enclosure-add-on, to the base of the upper floor windows, and it looks just fine, and even somewhat deliberate.
So we hadn't really decided which we were going to go with as of last night, but given that we still have to take saws, sledges and axes to the remnants of the porch before we can actually DO anything at all, we figured we'd have some time to work that out.
Up until it started to rain this morning.
And then Dominus' pager started going off.
And as of now, we're both in a profound state of grumpy-fuckits over the whole thing.
Dominus burned two days of vacation so that we could do this, and the way it's looking now, we might JUST get the demolition finished by Sunday night, if we're lucky. Dammit.
So that's where it stands as of right now.
I'll let you know if anything changes.
|Thursday, September 11th, 2008|
The housing project of the weekend
Well, of the long weekend I'm taking. I took today (Thursday) off and tomorrow as well and we decided to tackle the small porch on the side of the house. It has turned out to be more of a project than we thought but will still fit into the weekend. The original issue was going to be the money to do it right but this evening at bowling I got my award money from last season and well, we're doing the whole thing correctly now.( Here are the photos from todayCollapse ) Current Mood: accomplished
|Saturday, July 19th, 2008|
When dey's money in de ground, dey's murder in de air!
(Or, why we do not allow Clue to post whilst high on paint fumes...)
Shiver my timbers, whatta fecking CHORR! (That's kinda like a chore, and a bit like a Hooer, but with extra "arr." Just in case it wasn't clear...)
We sheeted off my office walls on Thursday, to the blasting strains of Sweeny Todd -- Broadway, of course. What else does one play for home repair but showtunes? -- and on Friday, the first run at spackling the cracks went up. This morning, we fetched out the latex gloves, white vinegar, and bleach spray, and commenced to scrubbing. And to that, I can only say "BLEGGH!" Atomizd clorox in the bronchea is just about the least pleasant sensation shy of sandpaper to the corneae. There was much whooping and coughing, gagging, and determined elbow grease, and eventually we proved triumphant.
*cue blandly cheering monks. Yey.*
We took a break then, and made a run down to River street, to hit the Farmer's market before it closed for the day. I've no idea exactly why, but for some reason my humour tends to run toward cannibalism jokes whenever I wind up at the Market these days. Damned if I know why, but at least the father of the 'roasting pan sized' baby thought it was funny. Well... he laughed, at least, and didn't punch me in the head...
Anyhow, following that, we picked up aquila_dominus
' photo society membership, and while there, discovered that the bleach cleanser, combined with a few moments of sunshine, had given me tiger stripes on the black sleeves of my baseball jersey. Yeah, some things will only ever be funny to me, I suppose.
So then. What We've Learnt Today.
You will never have enough dropcloths. Get used to the idea, and be ready to cut up your stash of garbage bags when the inevitable moment arrives.
BIN primer is very watery. This means that it will run down the sheeting on the walls, and seep under the plastic you'd expected to protect the antique wooden floors, and there's nothing you can do about it, but to have a bucket, soap, and a scrubby sponge at hand, and to wipe it up at once, and with vigour.
Socks pulled from the rag bin will not stop one from stepping in runny blobs of primer, and tracking it all over the unprotected floor, however they will make the chore of cleaning those spots up marginally easier.
When planning a project which will involve walls (and doors and windows) sheeted in plastic, AND ammonia-based primer in concurrent use, one must give a bit of thought to a little thing known as VENTILATION!
When one (or two) has neglected to consider ventilation, it is entirely possible that the painters will not actually realize that they are breathing pure, rarified EVIL until they have killed so many brain cells that they can no longer manage to breathe at all. Then, generally, they die.
Dying is not allowed.
Walking out of the ammonia-tent in search of an extra broom-handle can be a life-saver, as it allows just enough oxygen to reach the brain that the Clue-function can properly engage, and recognize, upon walking back into the room, that it has become a death trap, and the mate cannot actually smell his impending demise at all.
The measure of a healthy marriage may be taken in the reaction of a husband when his wife orders him to put down his roller, and get the fuck out of the room.
Dominus passed that self-preservation test. No Darwin Prize for him. W00t.
So that's where we stand. One coat of primer up, out-facing fan in one window, AC set to fan only in the other. We'll get the second primer coat, and hopefully the first coat of paint up tonight, and tomorrow morning we'll be able to tell whether it'll want a second coat before we can rip the plastic down and set about cleaning up the remaining mess.
Here's me, knocking on wood.
Oh wait... that's my head.
|Friday, June 20th, 2008|
... Are subject to the whims of Cats and Women.
The tag sale is not happening this weekend.
This is for a couple of reasons, not least of which is incipient wetness which the soggy midwest keeps slinging our way. Neither aquila_dominus
not I have any interest in hustling stuff in and out of cover at the whim of the great northeast phenomenon that is An Afternoon Of Line Storms. (30 minutes of blue skies at a stretch, punctuated by fast moving, drenching racks of thunderstorms that roll through, soak everything, and then piss off. Then 30 minutes later, the next batch rolls through. Yeah, big fun, that.)
Secondly, my week of purging has rendered our stock of sale items more or less doubled... and that's just the stuff I'm clearing out of MY office. I haven't even had time to start on the clothes or shoes yet. And Dominus has been rather hard done-by at work this week, so he's not precisely ready either.
We figured we could use the extra time to get all our ducks into a row.
Then we can shoot the downy wee bastids NEXT week.
So, if you were thinking to come and pillage this week, we'd love to see you and all, but you can't have any of our stuff. Unless you come and help us clean/tag things, then you might just get first pick, you never can tell.
In other news, we have first blood for the weekend already. Amplifier crate - 1, Clue's left little toe - 0. Impact split, complete with swelling and ickiness. I have a Scooby Doo bandage, and a stash of Percosets, should I need them though, so I figure I got out pretty well -- at least I didn't dislocate the damned thing this time!