Friday, December 11, 2009

Colder than a . . .

. . .something cold.

Our stalagmicicle:

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Headed around the horn

Its getting dark early, and cold frequently.

And when that happens, it means its time to do up the house HausFrau style:

Not one, but two christmas trees!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Now that we have all this space we decided it was time to have a bunch of our wonderful friends over for a harvest feast. HausFrau rocked the turkey preparation, stuffing rosemary and garlic under the skin, and then we stuffed the whole bird with a rice+sausage+mushroom dressing.

In the meantime, all our friends arrived and brought more feastables and drinkables, and we had an outstanding time.

Eventualy the Twister game came out, the furniture got pushed aside, and dance party got underway.

I love my friends, they are great at getting just the right amount out of hand.

See ya next year?

Friday, September 18, 2009

red house!

We still need to do a second coat of paint (though the first really did cover well!) We also need to do the trim. It is pretty weird having all our windows covered over with butcher paper. It makes me feel like I live in a cave. I *heart* the color very much; it turned out even better than I had expected. However, I could really go the rest of my life without ever painting the exterior of a house again.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How to harvest Zuccini

1. Plant zucchini

2. Water zucchini, wait. . .

3. Congratulations, You have a zucchini plant!

4. Hunt for flowers, eventually right behind them will be zuccinis.

5. Success!

6. Wait a couple weeks and they'll get even more prolific

7. Start a vegetable focused workout/meditation program and build an infomercial based empire to rival TaeBo.


The harvest continues:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hidden Treasures

STILL finding things in the yard. Yesterdays weekdwacking unearthed a shovel buried in the grass against the house, and an axe along the inside of the fence.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Half an inch! Half an inch!

Things are poking out of the soil, its awesome.


Uh... spinach? I'm not sure what this row is:

And um.. I can't remeber what this is either.. carrots?

Golden oregano in one of my herb pots:

Defeated until further notice.

Preliminary expiditions show the basement bathroom is wired according to some magical plan I can't make sense of. I had hoped to remove two pull-chain overhead fixtures and connect them to the light switch at the door way, however they are not only on two seperate circuits, but thanks to the sheetrock I have no idea where they are coming from. The switch, the wall sconce, and the wall outlet seem to be on the same run as the laundry room, while the overhead fixtures come in from who knows where.

Not the simple afternoon's project I'd hoped it would be. . . nuts.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


The classic plumbing brand American Standard, definately isn't.

After getting the basement privy online I attacked the upstairs in an effort to remedy the 50% failure rate of grabbing the flush handle and getting no flush. The tank had a large plunger assembly for a flush valve, but upon inspection it became clear that it would only be removed by what must be a retaining ring on the outside of the tank.

The tank came off with little problem, and sure enough there was a 4" plastic hex nut that threaded onto the protruding valve and locked the assembly to the tank. This nut however was not coming up. Even after buying a monster pipe wrench to get the jaws open to 4", the amount of force needed to break the seal just resulting in chewing the plastic to shreds while not unlocking the seal at all. Enter the dremel. I just put on a thin grinding wheel and had to cut the plastic out. This of course insured that if I couldn't find a replacement flush valve at the hardware store (which I couldn't) that I couldn't put it back together in the meantime.

Good thing the basement is working. :/

It took another week or so to get a new valve assembly in the mail because all Seattle's hardware and plumbing stores only stock valves for tanks with a 3" opening... nothing else.

Well, today it's in, it doesn't leak, and it flushes. Now to fill the tank with rocks to save a little on water.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The digging finally got done.

The wood framing finally got in.

The sifting finally got done.

Compost, manure, sifted soil, patio stones, seeds, some starts, marigolds. . .

I tell you what, it's goldarned garden:

Sunday, May 24, 2009


We are no officially a two holer, and can accomodate simultaneuos waste expungatiation. Fancy.

Really not that big of a deal, I just hadn't gotten around to it until today. The upstairs toilet actually needs an entire new flush valve assembly so I figured I might as well try and bring the downstairs one on line while working upstairs. Its been shut off due to a leak we inherited with the house. A new valve, a new feeder hose, and so far all seems to be good- though the downstairs float valve is a little dicey and needs some adjustment now... or maybe replacement. But at least we're up and flushing!

I realize this is not the most exciting post, but I assure you dear reader, we'll have some more major projects before too long. Juno is off getting more soil as we speak as she is nearly done with the epic sifting project of 09, and the garden is going to need some more earth to fill the plot before we plant.

Maybe its because it is Memorial Day weekend, but I have this incredible urge to have my friends over tomorrow and play yard games and cook outside. This gets me looking at the sideyard under the trees... I don't thik this will ever be a robust grass growing area, and thus would in fact be an excellent spot to lay down patio brick, put out some chairs and a picnic table, and get a grill going. Its probably not going to happen by tomorrow though. . .

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sometimes I just like being me, because:

When confronted with the problem of what to attach the other end of my closethline to, a moment's consideration yields the the phrase: ' Oh, I know, I'll just grab that spear from the mudroom.'

Sunday, April 19, 2009

dem bones

I found these in the yard today:

Too bad there isn't some innocent neighbor kid I can give these to and tell elaborate stories about the aboriginies and dinosaurs that used to rule Highland Park.

Also I broke the sifter today. Best way I know to get out digging any more rocks!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


La Maison en Printemps

The flowers on the left are from our neighbor's flowering tree.... but don't they frame our house nicely? We considered sneaking out in the night and transplanting her tree in front of our house, but we figured she'd miss it.

Look, we have daffodils!

Our neighborhood is prettier in the spring.

This is our neighbor's wild forsythia.

It likes to encroach on our yard.

Here is that blue room I talked about in my last post. It is very, very pretty and girly. I like it! I got a tiny chest of drawers on Freecycle to go in here. I just need to strip its old paint off and re-paint or stain it.

Here is the great big hole in the ground, soon to be the vegetable garden. I am in the process of sifting all the (many, many) rocks and grass roots out of the soil. All that garbage in the right corner of the frame came with the house. We will be hauling it away to the dump soon. Behind the garden is the Great Wall of Stupid. I want to talk to our neighbors and see if it's OK for us to put a mural on our side of the wall. How cool would it be to have some wonderful trompe l'oeil Italian landscape, or a big meadow painted on that wall? Very cool. Anything would be an improvement over the prison-like gray concrete.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

of Pits and Ponds

Today we pulled the mosquito farm "water feature" out of the nook behind the mudroom. I had been unable able to tell how deep it was through the accumulated murk, but it was probably 20" in the deep end. We filled it with old potting soil, rocks, and most of the sod removed to make the garden thus far, which worked out rather well.

As soon as it rains once or twice, I suspect we'll have a splendid ankle-turning sinkhole, but until then we can pretend we prevailed in filling it in with minimal struggle. Now that that space is not taken up with a pond, we can move our trash cans back there, which will make the north side of yard all the more attractive as we consider actualy hanging out out there on warm days.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sometimes its the home away from home.

No home related updates this weekend- we spend two nights up in Glacier, enjoying the woods, the mountains, the log cabin, our friends, and Mt. Baker! Thanks to M&P Bultman for the tickets for HausFrau's birthday.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Well, at least it's trying to spring. Today was sunny and warm-ish so I began to attack the (soon to be) garden plot in earnest. I was advised to use a pitchfork to uproot all the grass and weeds and to turn over all the soil in the garden space. Rototiller will simply cut all the grass and weed roots into tiny pieces so they can make many many more plants. So today I bought a pitchfork and did it American Gothic style. This worked much better than the shovel - hard work but not insurmountable. I have dug up about 1' perimeter around the whole garden. My neighbor will be coming over to work on it with me tomorrow, weather permitting. I will go and get some kind of plastic or wood, a good 8" tall, to edge the garden and thereby prevent grass from encroaching.

All this time, my downstairs room has been mostly unused. This weekend I decided to actually do something with it. I cleared out all the stuff I had been storing in there, cleaned the baseboards, windowsills, and ceiling (yuck), and patched all the little holes in the wall. The "contractor beige" had to go as well. It doesn't bother me as much in the larger rooms but in the small rooms that color is pretty icky and oppressive. So, today I primed the room. Tomorrow I will go and pick out paint - some shade of light blue. The top six choices (all Sherwin Williams): Blissful Blue, Raindrop, Meander Blue, Respite, Cay, and Stream. Other than a lamp, a small table, and some large pillows to sit on, I do not want any permanent furniture in there. I will probably use it as some kind of multi purpose room: for dancing, yoga, meditation, studio photo work, etc. so it does not make sense to have a ton of stuff in there. When we have guests it will be our guest room, but since we hardly ever have guests it seems silly to have a bed in there all the time.

I am excited to have a pretty blue room! I am looking forward to decorating it with the remainder of my glass dangly balls, some big blue pillows, and cool art. I have this really old window that I got as salvage from an old barn. It's been sitting, unused, for almost 2 years. I want to clean it up a bit and maybe print some photos onto acetate and lay them over the glass. I am reluctant to do much to change the appearance of the windowframe - it is pretty cool as it is - but I like the idea of creating little scenes through the actual windows.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Great Outdoors

aka our yard.

Mary Jo and I looked around the yard to figure out what plants live here, what kind of care they need, and what other plants or landscapey goodness might be wanted. We have a couple of small rosebushes, which we cut back pretty severely. The one along the south fence by the sidewalk looks like it might thrive; the one right by the house looks pretty dead. We shall see if anything sprouts from either of them. The camellia on the south side of the house is blooming! Some of the first blooms were somewhat damaged from the snow, but still pretty. The camellia on the west side near the living room window has big fat buds and just a few blossoms. We cut the hydrangea way back. MJ assures me that all plants love to be pruned and are much bushier and happier when vigorously cut, preferably after the bloom and preferably at the notches or bud points. She went to town on the big suckers coming out of all of our trees. Suckers = branches or new trees growing from the base of a tree. There are tons of bulbs coming up all over the place, mostly near the hydrangea and all along the south fence. There are several small patches of crocuses (croci?) which are cheery and lovely.

The vegetable garden will be a 10 x 10' plot against the back wall of our property, positioned so that it should get direct sunlight from mid-day onward. I started to dig there and oh my God do I have my work cut out for me! There's all this long grass, and apparently I may need a thatch rake to clear it out. That may make digging somewhat easier but really, digging up all those roots is no picnic either. I may start referring to the garden as the Gulag. The dirt looks mostly pretty good - rich and dark and damp and filled with worms. It's kind of rocky about a foot or two from the wall. I might have to plant something there that grows OK in poor soil. I will be getting some soil for the garden and maybe making a raised bed if time, energy and money permit. Every so often when I am driving out in the country I see these hand lettered signs by the side of the road offering Free Dirt. This could be a good option but I would have to make sure that the dirt was actually appropriate for gardening - not sandy, not contaminated or filled with weird plant roots and stuff.

Today I potted a couple of my houseplants - the spider plant that Jenna gave me and the aloe I bought last week. I also planted some mint and basil seeds in my other two pots. I saved loads of those small plastic plant containers that last year's snapdragons came in and will use them to start green onions, Cosmos, some more basil, and last years snapdragons' seeds. I am going to try one basil plant in the house and try a few out in the garden. The plants are pretty, and I got a variety that is supposed to be good for making pesto. Once I actually have a garden bed and the weather is a little warmer I will plant the rest of the seeds: lettuce, zucchini, cucumber, pole beans and cilantro - and will plant the green onion and the basil starts.

The only other significant garden thing I will take on this year is to make something out of the north front lawn, to the left of the walkway as you are walking up to the house. The lawn there is particularly mangy and unhappy. I might get some fill dirt to fill in the holes in the lawn, and then do the upper portion with wildflower seeds and the lower portion with grass seed. If I can get a bunch of Free Dirt I might spread it all over the rest of the lawn to fill in holes and re-seed the entire lawn. Also, I want to do something nice with the area between and around the three trees on the north lawn. It would be kind of cool to make it its own separate area and cultivate moss all over the ground with little stepping stones, or maybe cultivate some other kind of ground cover, and get a nice sitting stone so you can lean against a tree and read when the weather's nice. Or, alternately, I might just use mulch.

As I write this I realize what a large and potentially time consuming project this yard might prove to be, not to mention mowing the lawn which is a whole other ongoing thing! hmmmm. Now that it's daylight savings time (woohoo!) I can spend some time digging in the Gulag Garden every day after work. Hopefully by the time I am ready to plant seeds I will have the damn thing ready for them.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Nueva Lox

M & P Bultman came to down last weekend, and it was project time!

MommaJo and Juno spent time planning and scheming on garden ideas, and trimming back our wild winter foliage. It will be interesting to see how things sprout and spring forth as they are showing signs of getting ready to do. Soon now. . . a few weeks even, and that beautiful explody spring feeling will be everywhere even if its still grey and rainy and a trifle dismal for us humans. The leaves love the lushness.

Doc BeBop dusted off the pencil and the chisel and went to town helping me with doors and locks. We cut out an old door frame and came up lucky with a pre-hung steel door just barely fitting in our cinderblock basement opening. The old basement door got repurposed as an insulating block twixt kitchen and mudroom, and the external side door got a matching lock from the set as well.

After a few more trips to the hardware store than initially intended we wrapped things up with successes on all fronts. I have a few i's to dot and t's to cross to finish up
but all in all the project went well. A few more masonry bits were melted to slag than probably needed to be, but it was a learning process.

I got a sawzall and a sweet set of spade bits in the process so the arsenal grows as a result.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And on and on.

We got some more art framed and hung around the house which continues to make a difference in making things more warm and homey. Despite this though our living room still feels very strange. We have an odd selection of furniture with peculiar location requirements- a corner for the DJ rig, a lot of wall space for the CD library etc. I really like the couch jettying out into the middle of the room but it does render one wall very strangely bereft of utility, and hard to appoint. We'll see what happens.

We had a great housewarming party. It was wonderful to have our place filled with our friends... it made me feel very lucky to see so many great people I care about all togther, and to have them sharing our space. Also the place is big enough that having more than 4 people in my place at one time did not immediately make me crazy and want to run and hide, which is normally how I react to parties, and why I only ever had one in the 5 years I lived on Republican.

The Bultman parents are expected in town in a few days, and things will be ramping up again with gardening plans, yard trimming, and some doors-n-locks action hopefully getting taken care of.

Further updates as events warrant!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A little bit of sawdust.

I made another cd shelf last night so we can expand our wall of media. Moved CDs out of the one shelf from Ikea into the new stand, then re-adjusted the Ikea one for dvds.

Today I got it into place and screwed all 7 of the racks together with metal stripping at the top. I may still anchor them to the wall, but now that they go around a corner, its pretty impossible for them to fall over.

I also just finished repairing the cedar shingles that were missing from the side of the house near our door. I'm not sure if they were ever correctly installed, or what, but the missing pieces could not fit together as they were. I trimmed one down by about an 1/8 inch, then cut a 3/16th channel into the edge so that it meshed with the existing tongue and groove method by which they interlock. A quick pound with the heel of my hand and they popped into place. Success!

I might even get new numbers for the house, but Aimee's not home, so maybe I'll wait. That seems like more of a team choice.

--edit: I went ahead and got some simple brushed aluminum house numbers and installed them today. It's nice to actually be able to see our house number now. Not that I forget where I live or anything.

Friday, February 6, 2009

All's quiet for now

It has been a few weeks since we've updated, but that does not mean nothing is going on at Chez' Halberd. We've actually been living our lives, which is a plesant change.

We have about 1/2 of the yard cleaned up from its 18months of abandonment, which is satisfying. We have yet to tackle the sides and back, but they shouldn't be quite as leaf-ridden as the front and front-sides. We have made some tentative forays into the junk and trash pile that the previous owners left in the back yard. I thnk most of it we'll be able to send out with our trash pick up, with a little sorting of the barrel contents. The only thing that may present a problem in that regard is this gem which I hauled out of the weeds the other day:

I have fantasies of cleaning this up and putting the collective brain power of TeamZK toward using it as a base for a pedal powered something, but I'm not sure what yet. If it doesn't come to me soon, its going to the dump.

Inside, we finally have the DJ gear unpacked and installed, and are slowly appointing the living room with things around the stereo and couch.

Our biggest project of late has been hanging art. We have quite a bit, and quite a bit of space on which to place it. The main reason we haven't rushed into it is that Juno and I both have a fair number of pieces that we are quite fond of and have decided to frame a good deal of our pieces that we previously would have just put up with pins and nails. Aimee finally found a good frame for her mermaid I gave her for our anniversary and has it up in the art room along with some other ladies- all watching happily over her desk. I have a few pieces near my art desk, but still have quite a bit of open space. The rabbittat has recieved some good window dressing, and one of the latest pieces that I built a housing for at U-Frame-It last night.

I have been taking little chunks out of the sure-to-be-lengthy process of getting the gaming room up and fully outfitted. A glass cabinet has appeared there, and most recently I've installed some clustered LED lighting inside the cabinet.

The big news for this week though is that our nome de plume is finally justified, as we have finally hung the halberd. . . and thus our home is official. To celebrate, we're having a party next weekend.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Various and sundries of settling in

I have gone on several more runs in the neighborhood since my last post. Highland Park continues to the east of us, up one last ridgeline before the steep dropoff into the Duwamish river valley. The houses and yards to the east are, in general, in somewhat better shape than in our immediate area. They are also newer - more the midcentury ramblers on square, tidy lawns. At the southeast edge of Highland Park is Westcrest Park - it includes lawn, playground, and a series of trails in the woods. Nice! However, the best place to hang out in our general area is Lincoln Park, to the west of us by the Fauntleroy Ferry. I went for a looong walk with my friend in that park and it is just gorgeous! I had gone there once or twice before but never really explored it thoroughly. There are so many interesting trees in that park, including Ponderosa Pine and Madrones, which I love. It's a little over 2 miles from our house, so not "in the neighborhood" per se but close enough that I will most likely spend quite a bit of time there as the weather continues to improve.

Local shops: JoJo Espresso on the corner of 16th and Holden is quite good. On a scale of 1-10 of espresso quality, Starbucks is a 5, Lighthouse and Vivace are 10, and JoJo is 7. Next door is the SeaMart, also known as Scary Mart. Nathan went in there and confirmed that it is, indeed, scary. Fortunately, the 7-11 kitty corner from Scary Mart is not scary. N and I have even ventured into White Center *dun dun duuuuuunnnnn* for pho a couple of times. It's really not as scary as I once thought, though I would not go alone there at night. We went to Pho 88, which was pretty tasty and had very friendly staff. We went to another pho place whose name I'm forgetting. The food was good but the server was a super surly teenager. I don't want my dinner with a side of surly! The Safeway on Roxbury is larger and better than the QFC in Westwood Village, so may start doing quite a bit of shopping there. I have also discovered the Grocery Outlet, aka Gross Out, in Burien. Bargains Only! Gross Out is great for soup, cereal, hair and body products, snacky things, and canned goods. The produce and wine are super scary and the bread is hit or miss. It is THE first stop for any shopper on a budget. I'll pay incredibly cheap prices for the non-scary stuff and get the fruits, veggies and meat at Safeway.

Oh, my shopping adventures are SO exciting, aren't they? Next I will regale you with comparisons of laundry detergent and stories of darning socks. oy. moving on.

In case there was any doubt that there is gang activity in the area.... the other day I saw a guy walking across Delridge down near the community center, wearing all black with a big, long red "flag" hanging out of his back pocket. So, OK, I guess there are Bloods here.... probably others as well. I have this jolly cranberry colored handkerchief that I occasionally wear over my hair.... well, maybe now I will refrain from doing that in my neighborhood..... can't risk having someone see it and think I'm "fronting" or think I'm part of a rival gang. Perhaps I'm overly paranoid but really, better paranoid than dead. Can you imagine anyone mistaking me for a gang member? I suppose if anyone were to ask me what gang I was in I could just tell them that I am a Jet. I can even sing the Jets song from West Side Story!

We met our next door neighbor a couple of weeks ago - the one who lives in the yellow McMansion monstrosity. His name is Paul and he has a friendly yet disgusting pit bull who left a viscous, frightening trail of drool down my leg. He said he bought his house from the builder, and got a good deal since it was "underwater", or "upside-down", or however you want to describe "worth less than the money owed on it". He said that he enjoys the neighborhood quite a bit. Seemed like a nice guy. We are 99% sure he is gay, based on his demeanor and also on the fact that N saw him in his house super early in the AM, having coffee with another guy, presumably his partner. And no, I reiterate, we are not stalkers!!

We got a gorgeous desk from a guy on Craigslist. It is a Cost Plus desk, dark wood with small Asian style finials. Finally, I have a place for some more of my candleholders. We got the pictures up in the hallway - have a black and white, vaguely Gothic theme going on in there - and no Mom, don't cringe, it looks good! :D I put up my awesome Ski Vermont picture in the dining room, Nathan's cool Turkish and Italian plates are up over one of the doorways in the kitchen, and Amy's bright, awesome painting is up in our bathroom. The Ice Mirror and Akira are up in the bunny room. My Mom gave me a bunch of her Industrial Revolution era bobbins, which I LOVE. They are currently on the butcher block table in the dining room. I am not sure if this will be their permanent home but I think they look good there. We've been taking the decorating pretty slowly, which is kind of frustrating but also for good reason. Our old place was absolutely COVERED in stuff. Almost every surface was covered with art, tchotchkes, dust, whatever. I loved all of our things but hated how cluttered the place felt. It was dirty, in part, because it is a pain in the a** to clean around all that stuff. We want this place to be clean - and we are WAY more tidy here than we were at the old place, my desk excluded of course ;) For some reason I have been reluctant to put anything up in haste because heaven forbid, if I change my mind it will leave a hole in the wall and that would be no good!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Damn, Bert! It's a couch!

Many thanks to M&P Chase for a kind and generous housewarming/christmas present!

We finally got the ol' sitter delivered today, and it fits just swell. Now time to actually make the living room feel a bit more like a living room.

Friday, January 16, 2009

night of the lepis

Progress continues, sometimes slower than others. Aimee cleaned the living room up last week and really cleared a ton of stuff out, it was awesome. I'm only waiting to set up the DJ gear now until Saturday when our couch arrives. Once we pick at least an initial place for that, then the rest can start to get filled in around it.

We finally got the old plant stand shelf cleaned up, and covered the lower shelves with carpet to repurpose it as a jungle-gym for the rabbits. They love it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Up and at them.

We made it to Costco tonight and got a 17' foot ladder, donned the rain gear and head lamps, and cleaned our gutters out in a downpour. It really couldn't wait any longer, so I'm glad we did it.

Unfortunately the weight of all the snow, and then the wet leaves and standing water bent one section enough so the sag opens the seam in the bottom, which means the water (which is still falling relentlessly, and will be till oh, april) is coming right down on our window sill. I don't know how wooden houses survive out here, but we're going to need to do something post haste. If we get a dry afternoon i'm contemplating using the rest of the plumbers putty as a stop gap solution just to seal up the seam and hopefully keep the water going down the down spouts.

Gutters! Joy of joys.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Professional Help.

The location of my leak made a pipe clamp or plumbers tape impossible. I tried wrapping a piece of rubber gasket around the pipe and securing with hose clamps that I could feed between the pipe and the floorboards, but the water pressure made a mockery of this. I'm well versed in two-part epoxy putty for its artisitc/hobby/craft uses, so I went looking for something in that vein. I found one that is water-impermeable, and certified safe for using in contact with potable water. It gets my seal of approval as it held under pressure and there was no leakage for the two days that it stopped the gap.

PC-Products Plumbing Epoxy Putty.

I should learn how to solder copper pipe someday, but this was not the time to learn, I decided. So I called in professional help. None other than the world's famous came to my assistance:

We're back up and running, all ahead full!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

oh #$^@!

Hanging hooks for our bicycles in the ceiling, and I got one up. I followed the line of sunken screw in the drywall, and found. . .not a stud! No big deal, right, I must have missed it. I'll move over 1cm. Oh, there's some resistance. . .*spray*.

Thats the water main.


Kind of tight to get a temporary hose clamp patch in there, but since it's all the way through, I'm worried the pressure might be too much for epoxy. Either way the pipe has to be replaced long term, but I'm not sure I'm up for that one. :O