Friday, December 29, 2006

Scavengering

I made one of my semi-weekly trips over to the ReUse Center this afternoon. I wanted to donate the sink I decided not to use back to them. I've been hauling it around in the back seat of my car for the past couple of months, and decided if I wanted to take the tax deduction this year I had better get over there.

Of course, I had to take a swing through the place. They are having one of their 50% off the entire store sales. As always, I pulled out my little sheet with window measurements and spent some time confirming that once again they did not have any old wood storm windows to fit my house.

A few things worth mentioning.

One item I never thought to look for at the ReUse Center is a chimney cap. They had 5 of them there all in good condition; I think one was even new. $7 on sale. I can't remember exactly how much I paid for mine, but it was a lot more than $7.

They also have a good supply of old wood storm doors in good condition (80.75" x 36" & 80"X35" were the two I measured). Most are $15 on sale. Too big for my back door and I already have one for my front door, but maybe someone else is searching....

And finally. I saw the oak buffet that was pulled out of the house in my former neighborhood. It was bigger than I imagined from the photo. It was in excellent condition. It looked oh-so-sad to be sitting there homeless. Hopefully, someone buys the buffet and is able to replace one that was torn out of their old house. And all will end relatively happy.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Entryway

I thought what I would do over the next series of posts is cover some of the projects I took on in my house immediately after moving in. That is, B.B. (Before Blog). I was reluctant to make too many changed when I first moved in until I got a "feel" for the house. But there were a few hideous things that needed immediate attention.

This is what my front door looked like when I first moved in. It had a fine, shiny brass security plate paired with an equally fine deadbolt...and topped off with a non-functioning door knob. From the outside, you put your key in the deadbolt and pushed the door open......or used the knob to pull it shut. From the inside, you pulled on the security chain to open the door....or just pushed on the door to shut it. The deadbolt was the only lock. The brass in all of it's glory was losing it's finish.....and a strange plastic-type coating was peeling off. I'm sure the entire set could be had at a big box store for $5.00. One of the previous owners also had the idea that slapping a security sticker on it might be a good idea. I had a combination of old holes, new holes, and old holes that had been modified. It was awful.

I had some fun that first month watching people try to silently figure out how to leave my house. I also had nightmares of not being able to get out of my house in a fire.

As luck would have it, I locked myself out of the house a few weeks after buying the place. After hours on a Sunday. I was determined to get my overtime money out of this call, so I picked (no pun intended) the locksmith's brain for more attractive solutions to my shiny brass situation. He shook his head and told me the door had too many holes in it and needed to be replaced.

I couldn't believe it. I started visiting locksmiths & hardware stores and one after another they told me the same thing - replace the door. I scoured the internet and found nothing. I was NOT going to replace and original, oak door so I resigned myself to accepting my situation....or patching the holes & painting the door.

But, I am not one that gives up easily.....and fortunately, one who also locked herself out of the house again. This time I called another locksmith. Turned out he, Dana from Floyd Total Security, lived in an old house in my neighborhood. While he was picking my lock, I asked him if he had any ideas of how I could replace my current set up. Much to my surprise he said "yup."

He pulled out a tablet of paper. The tablet was made up of a little questionaire for locks. He took measurements. He muttered to himself. He jotted notes on the tablet. In the end, he handed me the completed questionaire and the name of the store where I could get the new entry set I needed. Nob Hill. I was given a salesperson's name and instructed to hand her the worksheet. She would show me my options.

Clutching this piece of paper like the Holy Grail, I visited the hardware store. Their motto is "jewelry for the home." When they refer to "jewelry," they are not talking gold filled.....they are talking Tiffany. I located my salesperson and she silently read the information contained on the tablet sheet. She then ushered me to a display of locks. I could choose from three sets. Each one was lovely. The price of each one made my heart palpitate.

I knew I wanted oil rubbed bronze, so this narrowed down my choice to two. I also knew I wanted an Arts & Crafts inspired set. This further limited my selection down to one set. The entry set that fit my qualifications was an Ashley Norton. I rationalized that this entryset was going to be one of the first things everyone saw as they approached my house. I was also going to be using it every day. It made sense to choose top quality.

I ordered the set. It arrived, and Dana installed it. Not a day goes by without me thinking how cool my old door with it's new entry set is.

It was also my first old house owner lesson in: It Is Out There, You Just Have To Find It.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What I Got for Christmas

I am an undercover Martha fan. I'm a long time subscriber to two of her magazines (Living and Food). When she went to jail, I renewed both subscriptions for two years in solidarity. I keep each past issue of Living in magazine containers in my basement filed according to month. Few people would suspect I'm a fan and I rarely admit it in public, but there you have it.

So, you can imagine my secret delight when I found that one of my Christmas presents was a copy of her new book, "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook." 744 pages full of everything you ever will need to know about maintaining a house (apartment, condo, shack, whatever).

The book is divided into 7 sections: Introduction, Room by Room, Throughout the House, Comfort and Safety. Moving, Materials Guide, and References. The topics range from the different types of wax to use on floors, furniture, countertops........to what to do in the case of identity theft......and everything in between.

I know this book will be put to good use at StuccoHouse (we already used it to remove a beet stain on the Christmas dinner tablecloth). I also think that anyone (male or female) that owns a house would find the book very useful. An idea for that next housewarming gift you need to buy.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Vintage Postcards

In my last post I mentioned that I had purchased a couple of vintage postcards at the antique store, Pines-n-tiques.

I've collected postcards for 15 yrs or so. I choose a couple well known tourist attractions near my house and focus on finding postcards with images of those places. I have maybe 10 postcard with the image of a lake that was close to my old house. So far I've collected 5 or 6 postcards with the image of a waterfall that is in the general area of my current house.

I'm pretty picky. The postcard has to be in excellent shape, have writing on the back, have a date stamp, and be under $3.00. Having "rules" makes collecting a bit more of a challenge.

Every few months, I have another postcard framed.
Eventually, the entire collection will be hung on my stairway wall.



Friday, December 15, 2006

Barns

This past week I drove to an out of town funeral. I've driven the route from the New Ulm area to the Twin Cities and back again a kajillion times in my life. This time I decided to take a new route home. This is farm country so the back roads are filled with old house, fields and countless barns....all in varying conditions. Ocassionally you will see a barn whose top has caved in. On the next trip by that farm, the barn will be gone.

On my way home I was driving through the town of Plato, MN when I spotted a small hand painted sign advertising antiques. On a whim, I turned off the main highway and followed the signs to an old farm. The entire barn had been converted into an antiques store - Pines-n-tiques. The place was huge.

As I worked my way through the first floor, I started chatting with the store owner. As old house people will do, we started talking about restoring old houses. She asked me if I had seen the wood floor in the back room of the barn. When I told her "no," she brought me back there to see the floor.

As it turned out, the room was a showroom for another local company. The company salvaged the wood from old barns that were on their way to being demolished. Antique Woodworks had set up a sample room of some of the woods they had salvaged and remilled into floors, wainscotting, mantles, molding, and some furniture. Oak, elm, hackberry, fir.....all old growth. Much of the wood dates back to the first settlers. Some still had the original saw marks on it from its original milling. I was amazed.

One thing that I adored about this company is that they laser engrave the barn's & the pioneer's history to the back of the newly milled products. So, as you reuse the wood from these old barn's you know it's history. How cool is that?

Definitely check out Antique Woodwork's website. It is a fun read.

I also found some very cool postcards (I collect them) and a small company that makes homemade soap using the lard & tallow method (the kind grandma's used to make). I'll post more about these later.......

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Ice Box Advertising

When I was working on stripping and repainting my ice delivery door, I ran across this ad for a McCray icebox. I was trying to picture how the little exterior door worked with the interior icebox. Like my delivery door, the advertised icebox opened from inside the kitchen, as well as, via a little outside door.

The ad boasts a special "outside icing feature." Back in the early 1900's, housewives would normally have had to sit around and wait for the ice man to make his ice delivery (some things never change). The advertisement reminds prospective customers that even when the ice delivery man arrived, he would probably track mud and sludge through the house. A nice selling point for the "outside icing feature."

One other little fact made me chuckle. This door on the back of the icebox that allowed ice delivery from the outside of the house was nicknamed "the jealous husband door," because it kept the ice man outside. The 1920's husband had a lot to deal with.....the milkman, the postman, traveling salesmen, the electric meter reader, the gas man and the ice man.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Bewildered

Here's the kind of thing that leaves me scratching my head.

Before I bought my house, I lived in another neighborhood on the other side of the city. I lived in that general area (homeowner & rental) for close to 15 years. When I first moved into the neighborhood it was filled with big old Victorians & Bungalows dating from the early 1900's. These houses are relatively big (2000+ sq ft) and full of the kind of details that would have been available to the upper middle class in the early 1900's. Some of the houses had been neglected for a while, but the neighborhood was on the upswing and people bought the old houses and restored them.

10 years after I moved in, most of the houses had been snatched up and restored. It was a fun neighborhood to take walks in for an old house lover. Plenty to look at & admire. No remuddling here.

Then the neighborhood became trendy. A new crowd moved in. A distict change in the neighborhood took place. People wanted to live there to say they lived there for the prestige. That's about the time I decided I wanted to move out.

Last year, I drove through my old 'hood and was surprised to see an astounding number of old houses being torn down and on those city lots, large McMansions were being built. It made me sad. The neighborhood originally became popular because of the charm of the old houses, but now they were being torn down.

Here is the latest evidence of this phenomenon. A local salvage place sends out information of houses that are being gutted or torn down. They show photos of the items that can be purchased as salvage. Take a look the photos at this link to see what is being stripped out of this old house.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Reminder

A little over three years ago two delivery men from Target/Marshall Fields (now Macy's) stole my purse when they delivered furniture to my house. Along with my purse, they stole my identity.

Today, I received yet another letter demanding payment for a bad check written last week at a drug store.

I will spend time early next week ordering & reviewing my credit reports (yet, again), writing a letter to the law firm who is demanding payment & threatening court action, sending proof by certified mail proving that I did not write this bad check, and filing a police report in yet another state.

I'm told, mine is the best case senario of identity theft because I realized my purse was gone seconds after they took it. Although I wasn't able to recover the stolen items, I was able to shut down all of my credit card accounts as they drove off. Still, they were able to write tens of thousands of dollars in bad checks in my name. And surprisingly, the police do not investigate.

A reminder. If you have a stranger coming to work on your house, be there. Even if you are there (I was), do not let your eye off of your valuables for even a split second. Target would/could not even tell me if they do criminal checks on their delivery people. 99% honest folks, but just one can make your life miserable for a long time.

P.S. Next week I will be back to bright and cheery posts about my house restoration. I promise.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bitter & Jaded

It is with much bitterness and disgust that I post this photo. This is the reason that you will not be reading lovely posts about my new wall sink being installed.....my kitchen being wallpapered (finally).....and my already purchased kitchen & hallway lighting being installed.....any time soon.

What you see is the liquid that leaks out when your car's struts go bad. Replacing struts and shocks, as it turns out, is expensive.

I so long to return to the days when my house blog was not filled with photos of the innards of my sewer, piles of dirt, crumbling stucco, and dead mice.........

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Window Box Repair

When you own an old house that suffered from years of benign neglect, there are a 1001 small little projects to fill your afternoons. For a long time I've had my eye on my front window box. During the winter there has always been a strong, cold, unexplainable breeze that enters through the interior wood trim on the bottom of my big front window. I suspected some type of hole.

Most of these little projects seem deceptively small. But when you get involved in them, they suck up an amazing amount of time. In order to look at the bottom of the window box, I needed to remove all of the dirt currently in it. Once that was done, I hauled my dry vac up from the basement and removed most of the remaining dirt. Sure enough, the stucco had deteriorated at the bottom of the box. You could actually see the wire mesh that originally formed the "lathe" for the stucco brown coat. The rest of the box's interior was in surprisingly good shape.

So, I went out to my garage and mixed some patch cement. Patching the missing stucco took a larger amount of patch than I thought it would and I ended up making a few trips back to the garage for more cement. I experimented a bit with a drier and a runnier mix. Looking at the patch today, I think the drier mix worked better.

I'm toying with the idea of putting a 6" strip of roof membrane patch down on that joint so water will be forced back into the box and out one of the drains on the bottom. Hopefully, this is one of those jobs that only need to be done once.

I usually fill my front box with spruce tips for the winter. But, that would mean hauling in new dirt for the box and I just don't have it in me these days. So between my yard of dirt, my empty window box, and the sections were I have pulled down the aluminum trim.....my house is looking a more than a little bleak right now. I almost feel a little sorry for those realtors trying to sell houses on our block :-) Maybe I can figure out how to use styrofoam for a base for the spruce tips......

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Comb-Over

After yesterday's Big Dig, my lawn (or what's left of it) is looking bleak.

So, this afternoon I performed the lawn equivalant of a comb-over. I raked some remaining leaves out from under my front everygreen and artfully scattered them over the bare dirt.

Now I have the hope of an old, bald man looking in the mirror. You can't tell the grass is even gone. Can you? ;-)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Big Dig

At 7:30 yesterday morning Grant from Grant Utilities, Inc. and 4 guys from his crew arrived at my house to install my new sewer line. By 5:30 pm, I had a totally new lateral line to the city's main sewer line and a new above ground clean out in my basement.

This company's bid was in the middle of the three I got. It was $2500 less than the top bid and $500 more than the bottom bid. I liked that they were all business, answered my questions, the answers matched what I had discovered through research, they gave me specific details of what to expect and the owner was on site for the work.

As I previously posted, the sink hole in between the sidewalk and the street was the great unknown because the camera had stopped at this point and couldn't go any further. So, they weren't sure what they would run into at this spot. When they got to this point, I had a decision to make: 1) they could sleeve the pvc to the city main line and leave it unsealed (my non-techie description). This would leave this small joint somewhat subject to roots. 2) They could dig in the street and go down and fully seal the joint. This option was $1200 more. I chose #option 2. I don't want to have to deal with roots ever again. Ever.

When all was said and done, my basement was left cleaner than when they arrived. The leaves that I had delayed raking in my front yard are now 8 feet under. No treasure was found buried in my front yard despite the high hopes I had. I was somewhat disappointed that some of the neighbors weren't around for the work - I wanted to jokingly tell them I was building out on the front of my house and watch them try to hide the horror on their faces (teehee).

My wallet is $4500 lighter, but the words "clogged sewer" will never cross my lips again - at least not in connection with my house. In the Spring, I will need to add top soil and reseed my grass.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Backlash

As it turns out, you can only force a girl to pay for things like new sewers, 2 part epoxy and mouse traps for so long. Sooner or later there is some backlash.

Witness the Stuccohouse "backlash" in the form of a new, pretty, hand knotted, wool, 6'x9', Persian design dining room rug.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Rot Be Gone

I've developed this bad habit of finishing a project and then not wanting to talk or think about it again. Not good for a blogger.

So in order to just get these photos online as proof that I actually did finish something this Summer/Fall, I'm posting a series of photos of the repair of my front door overhang brackets. They, obviously (I hope) run from bad to good.

A quick recap: Aluminum down, gasp - rot!; yuck! ants; rot be gone; LiquidWood wood consolidator; BoraCare borate treatment; WoodEpox epoxy; sanded epoxy; primed overhang bracket. I still need to replace the front fascia board and paint, but that will have to wait until next Spring.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Road Trip

I've been working a lot lately. So, yesterday I decided to take some time off and take a short road trip.

I went to college in a small town about an hour or so north of the Twin Cities. On a sunny day, it's a nice drive up there. They also have a small store on campus for local artists and artists in residence on campus. I make a run up there almost ever year about this time to pick up Christmas cards and some presents.

I took a pottery class when I was a college freshman from a pretty well known potter. She wins lots of local and international awards, and she sells her pottery in the store. So, each year I check out what she has to offer and usually end up taking home a piece. From what I remember, she seemed pretty old when she taught my class (she scared the bejeebers out of me too), so she must be ancient now.

The drive yesterday was nice. Warm (for MN this time of year) and sunny. I was all ready to do a little shopping when I pulled on to campus. I walked up to the little store.....and it was closed! The sign said it was open Tues. through Friday. Guess I should have called first.

The afternoon was not a total loss though. I took a quick tour of campus (boy, do students these days lead a cushy life) and I bought a school sweatshirt. I had lunch at BoDiddley's - one of the best lunch spots in the world. And between the stores in town and the outlet mall on the way home, I finished 95% of my Christmas shopping.

It looks like I have an excuse to make another short road trip up there again before the holidays :-)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Motivation Gone, Gone, Gone

I've been slowly working on restoring my old windows. I've been stripping them down to wood, replacing broken glass, removing all of the old putty and reputtying, applying wood preservative, repairing any damage, repainting, restoring the original hardware and reinstalling. I have also been stripping off mulitiple layers of paint on the wood window surround trim and repainting it. I've been mostly working on this between other projects.....taking my time and getting it exactly how I want it.

This summer I finished one of the windows in my bedroom.

It would seem all the hard work is done. All I have left to do is knot the replacement rope to the old weight and then run it through the pully and tie a knot and attach the upper & lower sashes (one sash is now propped in the window).

Ridiculously simple. Would take maybe 30 minutes. I get up each day and promise myself that today I will put the sashes in the window.

For the life of me, I can't get motivated to do this.

I thought with winter coming I would be forced to do it.

Au contraire.

It started to get cold. My bed is 3 feet from the window.

I switched over to my flannel jammies and was just fine.

It got colder.

I pulled out my Hudson Bay Point Blanket along with my flannel jammies and I was just fine.

It got even colder.

I pulled out my down comforter along with my Hudson Bay Point Blanket and my flannel jammies and I was just fine.

It got even colder.

I discovered that I can use my heating pad for a few minutes along with my down comforter, Hudson Bay Point Blanket and my flannel jammies and I stay toasty warm. I can't move real well, but I stay warm.

This weekend, they predict a cold front with snow.

Just. Can't. Get. Motivated.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Influences

I am going to be a lazy blogger today and point you towards a post on my Dad's blog about my paternal Grandmother. The story has been told in my family for years, and I actually have the original newspaper article written about her adventure.

I attribute 99% of my love of old houses & antiques to both of my Grandmothers.

You have read a bit about my maternal Grandmother's influence on my house in past posts. She owned a big farmhouse that even as a child, I adored.

You will be reading more about my paternal Grandmother's influence in the future when I get around to replacing the handrailing on my front steps. Her house had an entryway very similar to mine and I would love to duplicate some of the rail woodwork (and yes, that is the storm door of my dreams). As a child, visiting her house was big excitement.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

City Taggers

I woke up this morning to the sound of a truck outside my house in the early morning hours. At first, my sleepy mind tried to remember if this was the day they were cleaning the streets.....and the sound was my car being towed (I got towed a few years ago during snow storm and that is an experience I never want to repeat). Then, still in bed, I decided it was probably the FedEx guy.

Well, I went out to run some errands this afternoon and saw some spray paint marks on the street. It took me a while to connect the dots. The city had been out to mark my natural gas lines for the guys who will be working on my sewer. Good idea. Blowing up my house in the process of putting in a new sewer line is something I'd like to avoid.

The new sewer goes in the week after next.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Holding It All In

This past weekend I replaced my window screens with my winter storm windows. I still have the old 1920's wood screens/storms in 9 windows. In the process I noticed (once again) that the wing nuts that hold the screens/storms in place were in really bad shape. They are the original hardware to the house - 80 some years old.

Normally I am all about stripping the paint off of old hardware and using the original stuff. But these were rusted well past their prime. In fact, a few of them were so rusted underneath the paint, that the paint had formed a shell over rust powder.

I though to myself "it will take me maybe an hour to replace these." I'm pretty sure if I had listened carefully at this point I would have heard my old house laugh.

So, I ran down to the local Ace Hardware store and bought a bunch of zinc plated replacements. (note to other restoration purists: yes, the Phillips screws bothered me a bit, and at some point I will switch them out for slotted screws). Like every other old house project, the whole thing mushroomed when I discovered that many of the old screws were just sitting in the wood frames....and that the old holes needed to be filled and redrilled.

3 hours later.....9 windows had 36 new wing nuts holding in the storm windows. We are now ready for winter.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Anniversary

Four years ago today I moved into StuccoHouse. It's flown by....good & bad. Luckily my move happened on Halloween, or I would never remember the date. Of course the traditional celebration will take place this evening......a fun sized Snickers bar will be enjoyed by all.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cobblestones

Back in the late 1800 and early 1900's the streets of Minneapolis were paved with granite cobblestones. Occasionally, you can still find patches of the old street. Sadly, whenever the city undergoes a big construction or road repair project, these old stones get dug up and hauled away.

I've always been curious about this, and I know I'm not the only one that was watching the East Lake Street construction to see what was underneath the blacktop.

So, I was intrigued when I discovered that the City actually sells the salvaged gray and pink granite cobblestones. You fill out one of these order forms, send it in to the City and they contact you with a time to come and pick up your loot.

I have been toying with the idea of a historic cobblestone alley driveway.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sewer Bids

Ok, the guy from the second company I had out to give me a bid on replacing my main sewer line just left.

I called two highly referred companies out to bid on the job. I checked licensing and BBB reports on both. I also talked to plumbers that have used both companies. Workers Comp & liability insurance has been confirmed.

In initially speaking with both companies on the phone, I had a short lived optimism that maybe the drain wasn't as bad as I thought it might be and a good cleaning or spot repair might take care of it. But when both companies came out and looked at my nifty little sewer dvd, they confirmed that the sewer was pretty much shot. The 1924 drain tiles are 6" diameter and 2' in length and at every joint, I have roots entering the system. Not that you care, but I found it interesting that the top of each tile is painted blue and the bottom red. This works out well with camera shots because you can tell which direction is the floor even if the camera has twisted.

Both companies suggested "sleeving" a 4" pvc through the existing 6" drain tiles. They could do this starting at the drain clean out pit inside my basement. The pvc, they tell me, is a 100 yr product that will be impervious to roots. Although I thought it was a little funny that when I asked about warranty neither company mentioned a warranty other than they would come out and make any adjustments necessary if something went wrong.

The companies differ in how they would approach a "dipped" section of drain tile about halfway down the sewer line in the middle of my front lawn. My guess is that it is two drain tiles that have dipped - meaning about a 4 ft length of pipe. The dip looks to be maybe a couple of inches. One would clean out the sewer and then shoot the pvc through this section. They said the pvc had a tendency to "self correct" the dip. The other would dig a trench from above and remove those tiles and hand place the pvc in that section.

The first approach is attractive because it would leave my lawn intact. But I have a tiny concern about what happens to the pvc if the tiles continue to shift. The second approach would leave me with a front yard of dirt to seed in the Spring, but also would seem to permanently address the tiles. (What to do, what to do, what to do. )

Both bids agree that the sink hole down by the street is the great unknown. Because the camera was not able to get by that root blob, we don't know what the condition of the pipe is from the curb to the center of the street and the city's line. The first company would try to sleeve to the city main and only dig if the pvc would not go through. The other would plan to dig at this spot, remove the old tile and then pvc from this spot to the city line.

I was impressed by one company that said they were going to call the city to see if the city had any info. on the condition of the lateral lines on my street. That same company also mentioned that my copper water line is in that same trench and would be covered if it was accidentally damaged.

I talked to both companies about raising my inside drain clean out above ground - and both said they could do this. Not only would this make digging out dirt to reach the clean out unnecessary, it would also address some radon concerns I have had with that hole.

I have one written estimate and the second one will be faxed to me on Mon. I get equally good vibes from both companies (which I have found to be gut instinct talking and oddly reliable). The first company gave me a bid where they sleeve from the house to the city line - with an added line item cost if they have to dig at the sink hole. The second company talked about a bid where they sleeve to the dip and then dig....and then they sleeve to the sink hole than dig.....and then they sleeve to the city line. From our brief discussions, I think one bid will be $500 or so less than the other.

Both companies agreed that I have at least 30 days to mull this over before: a) the whole thing collapses; b) someone falls down my sink hole; and/or c) we get ground freeze which would make the whole thing more work & cost.

Just what I wanted for Christmas. A new lateral sewer line :-) (that is a fake smile)

Advice?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

My Tree

Here is the tree across the street:















Here is the tree down the block:
















Here is my tree:















Everyone else on my block has already raked up their leaves and have them sitting out in bags for pick-up. My tree will stay green until the day after the last leaf trash pick-up by the city. Then it will turn yellow and then red in a matter of a day and immediately drop all of its leaves. You have got to admire it's stubborn timing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Storm Door Hardware

I finally ordered the hardware for my salvaged storm door. I've had the door stripped, repaired and primed for a while, but I didn't realize how hard it would be to find hardware in oil rubbed bronze. Seems that everyone that's anyone these days is using laquered brass on their storm doors. To complicate things, a lot of the more original storm door hardware designs are geared towards Victorians, not bungalows.

I knew of two places in town that sell the old fashioned style wood storms doors and also carried the hardware.

I phoned the first place, Scherer Brothers lumberyard, and left a phone message - their message said they will call me back. They are on the other side of town and last time I visited their showroom I couldn't find anyone to help me. Plenty of sales people all busy with paperwork and their ipods. I wanted to make sure they carried oil rubbed bronze before driving over there. They never returned my call.

I stopped by the second place. It is a custom woodwork place that I suspected was on the high price end. They showed me the set they sell. It was very nice. Made by Ives. $120. Ives is nice, but not top of the line, so I suspected this was a pretty high.

So, I went online and found the same set for $68. Ordered it. Of course, its on back order, but is scheduled to arrive later this week. If the snow holds out and I can actually find a handyman that is not booked solid until next Spring, I may get this door in.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lesson Learned

We have rain and snow scheduled for the next week. After that, just general cold. So, this weekend the entire neighborhood was out en masse to finish up whatever they could before the snow falls. Everyone on my block was out raking up leaves, except me. I am (still) working on my front door trim surround and front door overhang. I got the door surround primed and the overhang painted. But there was one section of trim on the overhang that still had some stubborn layers of old paint.

So, I pulled out the nasty, liquid (yet, very effective) paint stripper. I was up on my ladder and working overhead. I was too lazy (and, yes I will admit, vain) to wear safety glasses. I was slathering the goo on the trim when it happened. A big blob of stripper dropped right into my eye.

I dropped everything and ran into the house and to the bathroom. All the way I was thinking "Oh, this is just great. Now I'm gonna have to come up with the money for a new sewer and an eye operation." I rinsed my eye out for about 5 minutes with water. Then took out my contact (which probably saved me). The area around my eye is a bit tender, but everything seems to be working fine. We (meaning me) learned a little lesson today.

Safety goggles. A good thing.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Down the Drain

I'd much rather be posting pretty pictures of work being done on my kitchen or my storm door being installed. Instead, today I get to post photos of the inside of my sewer. Yea, just my luck.

It finally dawned on me that a sink hole in my yard and drains that were starting to slow were not going to go away. Besides that, snow is coming soon. Lots of it. If my drain was to collapse this winter, it would be ugly. Really, really ugly. I figured it was best to know one way or another what the condition of my 82 year old sewer lateral line actually is.

So, this afternoon I had a local company that has cleaned my sewer line in past years, D.C. Annis, come out and send a camera down my sewer (hey, Mike & Ryan). If it didn't end in me spending a kajillion in replacing my old line, I actually would have enjoyed it. (Well, I kind of did anyway - it was pretty interesting).

Turns out I have roots running the length of my line. At about 45 feet, we ran into a 3/4 block of the pipe and had to stop. This is most likely about the spot where my sink hole has appeared in my front yard. The old drain tile has dipped in a few spots and water is standing. It also looks like it has shifted out of alignment in a few other spots. One section that has dipped is completely submerged in standing water. I could have it cleaned again, but my fear is that it would actually collapse and then I'd have to make an instant replacement.

Anyway, without further ado...for your viewing pleasure...my sewer drain. I've posted the photos from good to bad. I actually have an 8 minute video to view.

Now I suppose the calling for bids can begin.....

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