Sunday, April 26, 2009

Insulation: Day 1

Today began our marathon of insulation blowing. Figuring it's a job that's better done in big chunks of time, we are reserving the next month of Sundays for insulation. Troy prepared by drilling a bunch of holes this past week, and we were off to the races today.
I was going to take a pic of the truck actually entering the garage through our oh-so-handy garage door, but Troy was too fast for me. Then the irony was that the top bags actually caught on the top of the door (some nails that were sticking down) so the door was not quite handy-dandy enough.
"Installation in 3 easy steps." That's the promise right on the bag. And look, there's a picture of a young girl loading the hopper. That was me today. (Except I was smiling just maybe a touch less.) (And I was wearing glasses, a mask, a ball cap, and big headphone ear protection.) (This girl is wearing none of that and is, perhaps, implying that the job is a little more fun, happy and go-lucky than it actually is.)
So step 1 would be to fix the equipment from the store, right? Troy had to fix the hose (by affixing it) because last time he used it the hose kept flying off. Not very convenient and probably very very messy. Speaking of messy, even done right, blowing insulation is messy:
Christina1 does not like messy. But she got through. Setting up the hopper right in front of an exhaust fan really took care of the dust too, in a relative sort of way.

I will spare you the minute details of the day (like my botched first try at loading the hopper and the several "insulation fountains" we had--no harm done) and just say that we basically got the lower holes filled across 2/3 of the north wall. At this rate Troy figures 4 or 5 more days like that. I figure at least 6. So we'll see.

We had bought a pallet and put in all 42 bags. Then I called it a day. Troy went back to the store to return the machine and buy another pallet. Then next time we can do a little more than a pallet if we have time and energy. This also means Troy has a lot of holes to drill over the next week.

All for now. The work is catching up to me and my bones are tired.

1 This is Christina referring to herself in the third person. She will try to keep it to a minimum as she is aware it can seem pretentious and possibly annoying. But she felt it was warranted in this case. Thank you for indulging her.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Firewood Firewood

Time for another firewood update, don't you think? It's been a while.

We have five racks to fill with split wood. Last summer, Warren, Peggy, and Isaac worked for a week to get them all filled. (I forget how many we started with.) By the beginning of March, I guess, we had only burned about 2.5 of them. I was thinking that was great; with the five racks full we had about two winters' worth of wood.

Then winter lingered through March...and then April...

So now it's nearly the end of April and we are still burning wood. Not every day, and mostly in the evenings, but still, we are using wood. And I'm think we're going to get close to finishing this rack and that would make it 3.5 for the winter. And that means much more to fill this summer...

Isaac gave us a big start when he was here in March by filling more than one rack. Now I have been out there a few times a week trying to do my part. It goes a lot slower when you can't commit six hours a day to it. Surprise surprise.

We also had a setback when the latest pile fell over. Troy and I spent part of an evening re-stacking it. I felt like I was digging out after an earthquake. (Not to make light of such tragedies.) We continue to discuss the best way of stacking, the common pitfalls and whether we're just really bad at it or whether there's more to it than you might first guess.

This morning I split another couple wheelbarrow loads. I was hoping to finish all the big trunk pieces Troy had tractored over to the splitter (because then the balls in his court again!) but big heavy rain drops sent me running inside. Thankfully the rain arrived just as I was about to start another load so all I had to do was run and put the tarp back over the pile I was working on. That was a battle in the rain and strong winds.

Two things always amaze me when I get caught in some rain:
1. Everything seems like an emergency in the rain. We want to finish whatever we're doing fast (or better yet, drop it to be rescued later) and run for shelter. People just don't like to get wet.
2. It's amazing how much wearing a ball cap helps. If your eyes are protected, the rest of you doesn't feel as threatened.

Tell me it's not true.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Plumbing Update

Troy did manage to fix the bathtub plumbing yesterday.

I went out for a little b-day party in the evening and he seemed quite disappointed that I didn't stay in and try it out by taking a bath. Sorry, honey, not tonight...

When I got home from the party, however, Troy was trying out the tub with another bath of his own! Now, before you question his work ethic, he had put in his time already that day and it seems he is fighting something (cold, flu, bug, whatever). The good news is that it all seems to be working fine.

The silver lining in this emergency plumbing fix is that Troy has now replaced three of the four drains in the house. Logic would dictact that there just aren't that many more that can fail!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Honey, I Dropped the Drain

Light from the basement shining up through the drain hole

Let me start at the beginning.

Some (shortish) time after we moved in, Troy tried to take a bath and couldn't get enough hot water to fill the tub. He warned me that we would have to boil water to take a bath. I took this to heart and have not had a bath since we moved here. (Cue sympathy.) This is very sad when I think on it because I can really enjoy a good bath.

Fast forward to this week when Troy was feeling very sore and achy and announced he was going to have a bath. "What? I thought we couldn't do that?" I reply with my eyebrows highly arched in surprise. It turns out Troy's earlier comments applied to the original water heater which we replaced shortly after moving here. (Probably not long after Troy had tried to take that bath.) Only I didn't realize it was a whole new ball game. So there goes 2+ years of bath taking right down the drain (so to speak). I can tell you, ignorance is not bliss.

Anyway, while taking this bath this week, Troy gets completely fed up with the tub. The original bath mentioned above had already led to him caulking shut the overflow. (Previously the overflow worked, only it wasn't connected to any pipes so that water just poured into the basement quite freely.) It was, however, still leaking a steady drip. The drain also leaked pretty steadily. That's a lot of water flowing into the basement!

Troy decides he's had enough (like I said, he was fed up) and rips out the previous overflow cover etc, cuts a piece of appropriate hard plastic we've got lying around and caulks it to the tub wall.
We now have no overflow safety at all, but we figure we are responsible enough not to let the tub overflow anyway. And at least we can have some deeper baths.

So removing the overflow also removed the toggle switch to close the drain. We had bought an alternate drain cover so we were prepared for that. What we weren't prepared for was the complete failure of the drain pipe. The pipe wasn't really attached at the upper connection (overflow/drainswitch); it was just sitting next to the spot it was supposed to be connected too. (And for some reason Troy's original fix of more caulk just didn't quite solve the problem.)

Removing the overflow cover and drainswitch shifted the top of the pipe which led to the revelation that it wasn't really attached at the lower connection either. It was just sitting against the drain hole, but generally plumbing prefers a nice water tight connection. Good plumbing anyway. And, in light of all this, you will not be surprised to hear that the connection a little further down where it meets the main sewer pipe was not good either; it was just sitting on top of that pipe.

Troy came upstairs to where I was finishing my ironing holding the rusty, dripping pipe in his hand. I'm not sure what he said and whatever words he used doesn't matter because all I heard was that I would not be taking a shower in the morning. He assures me, though, that it will be fixed tomorrow.

Handyman tip: While working on this project, Troy shared with me the tip for recapping your tube of caulk. Wrap the open end with aluminum foil kept in place with a rubber band. He's neither found nor read about anything that works better. There, now your time reading this post wasn't wasted!

-a grubby christina

Friday, April 17, 2009

Life of Riley

Maybe it was the unusual occurrence of two sunny days in a row and a day off, but today it really struck me how I am just living the life of Riley.

I submit as proof:

1. I wanted to do laundry today and the weather was so great for hanging clothes outside they were dry practically before the next load was ready to go up. Love it!

2. The weather being so lovely, I wanted to spend time outside, and what do you know? a bunch of firewood presents itself to be split.
(As an added bonus, the splitter acts up and I have to quit after just one stump/wheelbarrow load!)

3. When I was hungry and on the road, I see my favourite meal of all time is on sale!

4. I go to the (not-quite-) local bead shop to buy a couple of chicken wind chimes. I had to ask the owner to set a price because they were actually shop decorations (not for sale). She told me she'd sell for $3. Three dollars! I double checked she didn't mean $3 per chicken, but no, really, $3 total. Don't tell her but she could have easily charged $20. Well, lucky me--like I said, call me Riley. (I bought both--one for me and one for me mum.)

5. I have time today to work on knitting, crochet, quilting, and blogging!

6. And then tonight when I was running out of steam, and was able to force myself to go with Troy to work on some plastic, I am rewarded with being able to COMPLETE the plastic.
Woo hoo! no more!! None! Nada! All done!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I can pick your car up.

So, meaning to finish up the 8,000 screws on all that new drywall David and I hung the other day, I am changing into my work duds this morning. I note that there is a Harbor Freight catalog in my inbox and almost throw it out. Then I remember that they are having their annual super duper blowout sale and wonder if this is indeed the flyer.

It is. Well phooey. I really wanted to get the drywall tidied up so we can finish it and move on to insulation. On the other hand, when Harbor Freight has a big sale, the deals are often amazing. I have my various hand tools stashed in about six places in a more-or-less organized fashion. I really do need a big tool box, and now that I have a shop more or less functional, I would even have a place to put it. I have fantasized about how all my tools will just become more and more organized as the shop comes to life. AND NOW IT'S ACTUALLY STARTING TO HAPPEN.

This is so exciting.

I try to quell my excitement for a moment, because I know that just because they have a big flyer is no guarantee that they have a big toolbox on sale. So I casually flip through, and there it is on the last page. Holy Chinese capitalism batman! The $300 toolbox that I have admired in the past is now $149. I have examined their demo toolbox several times. It has full extension drawers and seemed sturdy enough. It's not a snap-on, but it's not $1,500 either.

My excitement meter goes up several notches at once, but I quell it once again. Just because they have a cute little picture in the flyer does not mean they have actual product at my local store. I have been down that path before. So, I call my local store and am assured that they have not one, but two of said toolboxes in stock.

Well, my excitement meter briefly zooms up into the red zone. But wait. These super duper sales often have droves of people lined up before the doors open to snap up all the really good deals in the first 20 minutes. So, I ask the young gentleman on the phone if they would hold one for me, since it will take me the better part of an hour to get there. I am completely prepared for him to say that it is strictly first come, first served. There would be a certain equity and fairness about that.

But he surprises me by saying that they will put my name on one, and it will be waiting for me. I know most of the staff by name, and they certainly recognize me, if not actually on a first name basis. Perhaps that says something about my tool addiction that I should address someday, but we will lightly pass over that for now.

Words cannot express my enthusiasm at this point.

So I jump in the truck and drive to town, run in the store, make my other selections, proudly move to the (somewhat congested) checkout line, and am promptly informed that they don't have a toolbox to sell me.


How can this be? I called ahead. I asked. I was told. He was going to put my name on it. I drove here in my less fuel efficient vehicle to do this.

I am very proud to say that I did not become abusive, or loud, or obscene. However, my astonishment was so evident that the store manager could not help but notice and he did his level best to make things right with me. I got a rain check that is good "forever", PLUS a 20% discount over the already almost obsecenly low sale price. I don't see how they can make them for $150. I don't see how they can ship them from China for $150. Now, I am afraid that they will actually be losing money on the transaction.

On the whole, Harbor Freight is still probably ahead though.

The other really good news is that I needed a big hoist and I got a really big hoist at the same blowout sale. I have a one ton hoist, but anticipate that I will need to unload some equipment in the not so distant future, and it will weigh more than that.

The new five ton hoist is almost installed and functional.

So, that's why I didn't get any work done on the drywall today. Better luck tomorrow. Life really does not travel in a straight line, and sometimes I wonder why we humans make plans at all.

Finest regards,


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Drywall spurt.

Another of my church homies (the other David) came by this morning to help out with drywall. Our small group likes to help one another out as we are able. This small group has been the best incarnation of true community that I have ever experienced. If you have never participated in a small group with dedicated Christians, you're missing out. You owe it to yourself to try it some time. Plus, hanging drywall with your church friends may have some spiritual benefits, not unlike self flagellation or wearing a hair shirt.

Normally, I'll get 3-5 sheets of drywall done after work. Today, with David's help, we must have put up more almost 20 sheets. Rock on! Doing a little mental math, we must have about 15 or 20 sheets to go. Motivation tends to get very good toward the end.

Once we get the drywall done, I will do some basic taping/mudding and then we will blow vast quantities of cellulose (recycled newsprint) into those big fat, one foot thick, walls. Then a little wiring, a little plumbing, a set of kitchen cabinets, some siding and boom, we're done.

It all sounds so simple like that.


Saturday, April 04, 2009

The "Snowbirds" are Back

Antonio and Gertrude are back from their winter locale. Antonio says, "Hi," but Gertrude doesn't have time; she's running off with things to do, things to prepare. The forecast for snow has her worried. Antonio is just concerned about what the snow might do to his pretty feathers, but Gertrude knows if his feet are cold and wet for too long he will catch a cold and she will have to take care of him. (And he's such a baby.)

After we welcomed them back, Troy and I got back to work and finished the overhead plastic tonight. Just the west wall to go!

Slogging on.

In many respects, the greatest predictor of success in many ventures, is how determined the participants are. Of course there is the famous quote from Churchill, Never give up. Never, never, never...NEVER give up. I'm paraphrasing a little bit. I often concatenate that speech in my mind with Nikita Kruschev standing up at the podium at the United Nations pounding away with his shoe on the podium while railing against this and that.

In contrast to these world changing, larger than life legends, this post has to do with progress on my drywall. My shop needs, in round figures, 4,000 square feet of drywall installed. That's 125 sheets if everything went in as whole sheets, which it doesn't. Each sheet weighs approximately 70 pounds. So, just a wee bit shy of four and a half tons of drywall. It also takes about 5,000 drywall screws. We now have about 35 sheets of drywall to go. Woo hooo, only a ton and quarter to go. And of course, I am at my most efficient now. I have the procedure totally worked out, I don't have to think about how to do the next sheet.

There were days at the beginning of the drywall phase where I had doubts about getting it done in this lifetime. But unless Jesus comes back in the next couple of weeks (which we should be continually praying for by the way...), it will be accomplished. I got 3 sheets done thursday night, and five sheets done last night when I inadvertently took a little nap and missed my small group meeting. As penance I installed holy drywall, five sheets of it.

In two weeks, it should all be up, DV. That's a latin abbreviation for Lord Willing.

Finest regards,


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