Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lessons from the yard: Arrivals and Departures

Gather ye tomatos while ye may.

Soon enough we're all back to the mud.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

After a brutally noisey day of stripping shingles, the bare wood decking is exposed

The dumpster, after 1/2 the house has been stripped.

The fancy new felt they've laid down to prep for the new roofing.

Looking nice. They'll be back on Thursday to start with the shingles, supposedly rain or shine, we'll see.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tear the roof off the sucker

So it begins. And man, is it loud in here.

Our man Bryan says they should have it stripped today, and covered with felt, depending on how much decking needs to be replaced. I'm obviously hoping for minimal replacement, but given that it was a leak that percipitated this endeavor, I expect some wood to be replaced.   

We're expecting a storm tomorrow, so they may cover the entire roof with tarps tonight, even though the felting is usually good enough to protect against some rain. We'll see if the forecast holds out.

Coming down in bucket loads.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Listen, do you hear it?

it's getting closer. . .

Supposed to start work this week, but we'll see if the weather cooperates.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gettin' down right dirty on 'em, hella quick. [ A celebration of spring ]

Yaaaaay spring. It's on, at Chez Chaseman.

Juno is amazing as ever and already has most of this years crop ready to go, and the rest are hanging out in tiny pots in our living room.

Thats the badass hearty winter kale in the upper box, and its new neighbors will be snap peas and tomatos, if my sources are correct. I'll have to get Juno to chime in on the full layout for this year.

True to our pattern so far, we have once again added another bed this year. This time its a tiny gated community of herbs and flowers, that has the added benefit of flattening off a little inside corner that was always a pain in the ass to get with the lawn mower.

So far, it isn't very dense, but we'll be adding some more starts as they move outside. Currently we have chives, lavender, borage, and a columbine.

Last year's new bed never did very well, and we just let it fall away, pulled the bricks down, and turned the dirt over with our load of mulch at the end of the season. Which turned out lucky becomes sometimes... you get an inkling in your head.

On occasion, that inkling becomes a plan. And even rarer, that plan becomes a pile of wood.

Given enough time, and a couple beers, and that pile of wood might start to resemble a structure. . .

The next thing you know you've got big holes in your yard,

And then some fool goes and puts fuck off giant cinderblocks in there and you know you're in trouble.


Do you . .

Feel . . . like . . .we're being watched?

Don't blink.

Inspection time.

Luckily all my activities passed the inspection of my favorite neighborhood construction advisor, and I was given the go ahead to continue with the plans.

Which are for GRAPES!

Or, alternatively, a place to keep Juno when she misbehaves.

Who knows if we'll see any fruit this year, as we're planting starts... but I'm enthusiastic for them. I didn't think we'd get anything from our raspberries the first year either, but they managed to produce a few treats to reward our efforts. Hopefully the grapes will follow suit.

Saving fascia

February is the perfect time for ladder work in Washington.

A combination of a gutter than has leaked on our office windowsill since we moved in, and the sounds of animals in our attic finally pushed us over the motivation barrier, and we decided to attack the upper echelons of the house this winter.

I gleefully ripped off all the craptastic plastic gutters... a good portion of the work having to be completed with a sawzall, due to ridiculous mounting brackets and stripped screws.

I then began assessing the fascia boards beneath them and determined that about a half of them needed replacing. When I got to the area with the biggest holes in the boards, I found the evidence of rustling and nesting activities that I expected to:

After I pulled out all the detritus, I also discovered the source of the scraping & gnawing sounds I would occasionally hear while snoozing on saturday mornings. Whatever was up there was making its nest out of our rafters, and had gnawed over 3/4 of the way through one of them:

On the other corner I got a close look at the home of some wee birds who we see hatch every summer. Sadly, I had to evict them in the course of my repairs, but I may put up another house near by for them.

HausFrau offers some demolition assistance on the old downspouts:

New fascia was purchased, and a quick coat of krylon made it usable for our purposes:

And then came installation.

At this time I would like to take a brief pause, so that we can all give thanks to The Clamp. It is seriously the smartest tool ever. Way smarter than me, thats for sure. For hundreds of years, this simple tool has been turning 2 and 3 person jobs into tasks that one person can complete on their own, 14 feet in the air, in the rain.

Thank you, Clamp.

Once that was all taken care of, we cleaned out the remaining nesting materials we could find in the attic, and then covered up the vent slats with screens and 10,000 staples.

All that remained then was to call in the professionals:

I'm going to hope that now that we are completely prepared for all sorts of deluge, the laws of carwashing on a sunny day are going to apply, and we will get only mild amounts of rain this spring. Just enough to make the garden thrive; not enough to keep me off my motorcycle.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

rabbit proof

Though I couldn't find the pictures to include in this original post, I did finally track down evidence of white pickettness we enacted this summer. So no here for enjoyment is the long awaited second installment of "We painted our fence". Riveting stuff, I assure you.

The final look:

The south gate is adorned with a plough blade that Juno brought back from some trip out to Carnation or Duvall a few years ago:

While the north one has the remains of a hay-fork, the first yard implement we managed to destroy in the forging of our garden:

All this quaint accessorizing for our house was relatively painless, aside from the several days it took to sand and scrape the fence. Aside from that the only cost of note was one pair of worn out tank boots upon which the paint sprayer took a heavy toll and will probably never shine again:

Now all we need is a neighbor to share coffee and gossip with over its pearlescent structure.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

everyone has some dirty laundry

We can do ours in less dreary environs now!

We finished the painting, cleaning, and organizing of the laundry facilities, and now instead of a dreary corner of the basement it feels like an actual room.

Some shelves and a folding table, a fresh coat of paint, and some handy retractable drying racks mounted on the empty wall make this a pretty great space. Well, for a laundryroom.

I'm not sure how useful this panoramic file will be once blogger does its auto-resize, so here is a large version incase you're into that sort of thing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spin Cycle

The laundry room does not need to be painted.

Its not about need though. Its just a little thing. As we try to recover from the holidays, or was it thanksgiving, or was it HausFrau's family visiting, or was it the truck load of stuff my parents sent to me? Yeah. It just keeps going. Anyway, we're trying to police up the messes and piles and get back to the getting on top of it we were doing a great job of before summer ended. We got shelves up... we just never got everything on the shelves. Piece by piece though, we're at least making better use of our space, and being as judicious as we can at any given time about what stuff to keep and actually find a place in the space for. We reminded ourselves last weekend that our laundry room is a joke. We threw around some ideas on how to better use the space, and set to cleaning that room out- which it sorely needed. We never cleaned it when we moved in, and we'd never cleaned it since.

As we started to visualize a few simple things we could do down there, it occurred to us that half of why that room is so dreary, is that its ugly. The former owners never finished it beyond their typical cack-handed drywall and joint compound job that is not unlike a frosted cake. Here, even worse than in the rest of the house. So, we covered up the machines, and I sanded the place down as much as was reasonable considering we're not actually finishing the room at this time. Aimee got most of it primed Sunday and I finished it today. We're going to use up a 1/2 can of a color we originally painted the rabbit room, and then painted over. Hopefully it'll be bright green by tomorrow night.

We're only painting the drywall, so about 1/2 the room will still be cinder blocks, but just having it be somewhat more together will be nice. Then its time to find or build a folding table, some shelves, and a drying rack, and it'll feel a little more like a room... rather than just a corner of the basement.

I actually wouldn't mind putting a carpet remnant in too, but I'm not sure if we care that much just yet. Maybe if craigslist has something decent to offer.

Anyway.. sometimes its the little things, and this will be a little thing in the grand scheme, but I bet it will make us happy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Mending Fences

Our gate was a rotted piece of crap. So I took it down and chipped it last spring.

Then I cut lumber for a new one.

Aimee helped me assemble it.

And when we hung it, it was solid, square, and swung smoothly on the first try!

Inspired by my success at that, I knocked down the dumb section of the rear fence that served no purpose. I Ieft the other half of that run, as currently it forms one wall of the rabbitat. Until we decide what we're going to do with that area as far as a patio or a shed goes, I'll leave it there to pen in the bunnies when they're out for a run.

After that we started sanding and stripping the fence on the whole front and south sides of the house. That was super annoying, but we kept at it off and on over the summer until the whole thing was scraped as clean as was worth doing considering the age and condition of a lot of the wood.

We even managed to get it all painted sometime in september, before the rains started. It looks about a bazillion times better now.

I can't find the pictures I took of that, and its raining, so I don't want to go take more. Watch this spot if you really want to see some nice white fence sections that have now been rained on for 3 months!

Of bathrooms

I just realized I didn't write a single entry here in 2011. We were not without projects, but I never got them collected. I'm not sure that it matters, like most things... it only does if you decide it does. Since I'm sitting here on a day off, making mental lists of everything I wish was different about our house, maybe remembering some progress that we actually made this year will help me from getting too depressed about how much I feel we've not done and how we've let our inertia impede our progress. Maybe it'll be motivational going forward? Maybe its just procrastination. Either way. . . we did some stuff this year. Here is a glimpse.

I don't even remember how it started... I think we just decided to paint the bathroom. While we were at it, we took out the metal track that was still attached to the walls and tub from the crappy sliding doors that were originally in the bathroom.

The door tracks left some weird anchors in the tub surround which needed to be dremeled out and the holes filled with putty.

Luckily we have very little else in the bathroom aside from our medicine cabinets and a few light fixtures, all easily removable.

And after that its just taping, priming, and blueing

We were quite happy with the results, and having made a small step in the right direction against the legions of ugly brown paint that currently inhabit our house (see earlier post) really was exciting and refreshing. Then a week or so later, we found water in the basement. I looked around, thinking something had leaked in the floor, through our basement door (as has happened during massive seattle rain storms), and was very confused and couldn't find the source. Then I noticed the door jamb was damp. And the wall was damp. And. . . the . . .ceiling ? was damp? Uh oh. Out came the clawhammer and saw.

The ceiling was damp because there was water dripping down from the upstairs bathroom plumbing. Through trial and error we determined that it was only when the shower was engaged. The extra pressure built up when the shower lever was engaged would cause water to egress through the gaskets in the faucet knobs, and out the back, where it just ran down, fell through a whole in the floorboards for the pipes, and was pooling on the drywall ceiling of the basement, and soaking it all.

I tore out all the drywall and insulation and slowly began to realize I was going to need to learn some plumbing skills of some sort. After poking around and considering various means of getting access to the shower pipes and fittings, we decided there was no way we were going to cut a whole in our hallway wall and create an access panel there. Putting it all back together would be a huge project. The only other option was to tear out the tub surround. Over the next few days I fussed and trialed and errored, and learned about plumbers tape, and gaskets, and stems, and stuff. There was more than one aborted attempt at putting it all back together, but we eventually got there. The piece of sheetrock I had to cut out of the wall behind the surround was a curious shape, but at least I left room to access the faucet joints in my replacement piece, should we need to get in there again.

As long as we had pulled out the yellowing and ugly shower surround, we figured we might as well reward ourselves with a newer replacement. We didn't opt for anything fancy, but at least its not a decade or old more and disgusting looking.
Installing the surround turned out to be its own set of challenges, but eventually we came up with a system of braces and dowels and 2x4s that held the rather heavy wall pieces in place while the adhesive set. Aimee went to town caulking all the seams, as she is by far the better of the two of us at it.

As long as we were tearing everything apart, and in anticipation of a visit from my parents, we added some more towel bars to the bathroom door as well. I'd had been scratching my head on this for a while as most of the doors in our house are cheap, rather shitty hollow affairs from Home Depot, and thus hard to put anchors in. I solved this by drilling into the door and shooting a generous amount of hardening insulation foam into the hollow space. Once this hardened, I could drill into and give the anchors something to push against. So far, no towel bars have fallen off.

Another addition I made was a little set of cubbies in our window well. Our bathroom has very limited storage, and so I thought this would give Aimee a place to stack her little bowls of jewelry as she prefers to take it off in the bathroom at night. They also added a little variety to the space, and gave us a place to put little doo dads, statues, and Lego people who occasionally visit our bathroom.

We also decided to take advantage of a sale we saw for Flor tiles, and give those a shot in the bathroom, even though they technically don't have a 'damp enviornment' tile type yet. Hopefully they won't wear out really quickly, as they look great, and really make us happy.

One last little touch we came up with was some portholes in our shower. One sea turtle, and one sea dragon. They are totally silly, and after all the hassle and days without a shower, adding something lightheared and goofy to our house really made me feel better. This is the kind of stuff I like about having our own place.

While we hadn't intended to anything more than give it a fresh coat of paint, we're really happy with the more lively and jovial space that we've managed to create for really a pretty minimal amount of work. It makes me smile everytime I get up in the morning, which is really about all you can ask for.

Also, its really nice to have good friends a few blocks away who have a second shower. And a gym membership. And showers at work.

Flor tile pattern
Adhesive porthole stickers


I also found a way to recycle the old tub faucet that really made me happy. I was glad to be arting up the neighborhood a little, but some jackass stole it from the utility pole in front of our house.