Thursday, May 31, 2007

Another wonderful website discovery

I found this through a reference posted at

Extreme How-To: The Enthusiast's Guide to Home Improvement

Whoa. There be some good stuff here. Don't click unless you have some time to look around because if you're a housefreak like me, you're not going to be able to poke your nose in and then just come back later. They have a very broad range of information and detailed how-to articles, and the ones I've read so far are really appropriately geared towards the Everyday DIY-er.

They also have a Home Repair Forum which I haven't dared click on yet. I'll nary make a dent in my to-do lists if I keep finding wonderful readable resources like this!

It's not only merely done, it's really most sincerely done

Electrical inspector just came and went, and left me my pretty green sticker that says all is well, so now the installation is 100% completely finished. I like how many times he said variations on "oh wow, this guy does really nice work" and "look at how he did this, now that's how to do it right." Leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling, that's for sure.

I was literally sweating when he arrived though, not from the heat but because five minutes before he was supposed to be here I remembered that I never got a cover for the junction box that I use for the lights in the basement. I frantically went all through the house, up and down the stairs, until I found what I knew we had somewhere -- a random junction box covered up on the wall, which ended up being behind something on the 3rd floor. I snagged the cover off of it, then raced back down to the basement and was just about to put it on when... ding-dong. So he inspected the basement electric but either just didn't notice or was kind enough not to mention the open junction box right in the center of the ceiling with a box cover, screws and screwdriver laying on top of a roll of insulation underneath it. Of course now I need to go get it, put it back on the 3rd floor, and add "junction box cover" to our list of things to get at Lowes.

I had permission to work from home this morning, up until he arrived which could have been as late as 1:30. Now the question is, do I work from home even though he's already done, sitting here listening to the birds and drinking my tea, or do I go in? Hmmm...

The Inevitable Perils of the Over-Zealous List Maker

This is my last week of work, so Saturday starts two months of summer break. IF I don't have frequent childcare responsibilities, I hope to get a lot done. I've decided to use weekly checklists/schedules. I think the one I drew up for next week is perhaps a wee bit ambitious. We'll see. Bold means Von can do or Von can help. I'm not including stuff that only Von will be doing, like gobs of painting.

If I can actually do all this, thank Miracle Max.

Edited to add: Yes, I am adding things to this just so that I have the satisfaction (and record) of crossing them off as done.

Now through Monday 6/4:

  • Peek under vinyl in bathroom Couldn't wait to do this one. I can't tell for sure, but looks like the wood goes all the way in. Original wood floors in a '20's/30's era bathroom?? Can I fix them up so that they won't be damaged by the normal water/moisture you get in a bathroom? Stay tuned for the continuing story of "All My Flooring."
  • Hang big white mirror in the upstairs bathroom It's close but not quite exactly level one direction and it turns out that the toilet is not exactly level the other direction so it looks pretty off kilter (I'm the kind of person that just a little bit tilted will make me crazy). I need to take it off the two individual hangers and put a couple of wires between them so that I do a more visual leveling.
  • Plant rest of stuff that needs to be planted
  • Get office organized
  • Lowes/HD: plywood sealer, tile for hallway (55sqft), stuff to make rain barrels
  • Lunch for Al’s birthday?
  • 3:00 Brewery tour
  • Take off some radiators, thermostats


  • Lunch for Al’s birthday?
  • Remove all radiators/thermostats.
  • Get Donna/Kim to come pick up theirs
  • List rest of them on Craigs list (take picture in the house first)
  • Remove carpet, carpet strips in DR, Hall
  • Take off baseboard trim in hallway
  • Seal floor in hallway


  • Put down tile in hallway
  • Bring all freecycle stuff to garage
  • List all freecycle stuff on freecycle, including baby stuff if not yet picked up
  • 5:30 Bellydancing
  • Von: Powerwash table and fence?


  • Hang with MA for first of summer sorta play day (sobriety optional)
  • Power-wash and seal outdoor table
  • Power-wash and seal fence


  • Von’s first day of vacation
  • Rip up plywood in dining room
  • Clean up floor in dining room


  • Mom’s birthday: Call her!!!
  • Buy and install gutters
  • Start making rain barrels


  • Set up, deliver rain barrels
  • Varnish painted picnic table

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

And then there was light (but no

Well, we finally got the lights installed in the basement so that the electrical inspectors can come out and do the final check for the new HVAC system on Thursday. Nothing at all worth taking pictures of, just three supercheapo little fluorescent fixtures positioned to give the best overall lighting to our odd-shaped mini-basement.

I felt like a total idjit, though, when I turned on the breaker and saw that the lights stayed on regardless of whether the switch was on or off. DOY! I completed the circuit -- junction box/power source up the stairs to the switch then a few inches over to the first light then down to the bottom of the stairs to the second light then back around to the back of the basement to third light. And that is where it was supposed to stop but noooooo I just had to take it one step further and connect the third light back to junction box. Considering that the 3rd light was just 2" away from that junction box, it just seemed like the right thing to do. Dad, if you're reading this, please don't cut me from the will. I did everything else right, I promise.

And soon after found out that they were banned from google for reasons beyond comprehension, their server's been whonked and the site's been inaccessible. Anyone know what's going on??

Friday, May 25, 2007

Thwarted plans and the hopes of an original bathroom floor

Our plans to rip up the carpet and luan in the dining room this weekend to expose the original floor, regardless of condition, was thwarted by a change in plans regarding the grandkids, who will be here with us all weekend after all. I wish that projects like this could be done with a 1 year old around, but realistically they just can't, especially when it involves the most used room of the house.

However, this has gotten me thinking the upstairs bathroom. Right now there's ugly vinyl sheet flooring, presumably over plywood, but then what's THAT over?

I'm really doubt if Von will be open to the idea of my looking (which is pretty much an irreversable process), with the hopes of finding original tile, at least not until we are able to start seriously remodeling that room. But I may not be able to help myself...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My newest obsession:

I can't believe I never knew about this site until now. It's a darn good thing that I'm about to start my summer break because I'm about to spend WAY too much time reading back-posts on this site. It's like porn or crack for tool freaks like me.

Raising my milkshake, in a toast to celebrate the end of this project

Drain line's finished.

Electrical inspection still must be scheduled, but I need to finish the basement light installation first, and that's not happening tonight. My goal is to finish it before the holiday weekend, but with nothing scheduled for the weekend it won't kill me to just plan on having it finished before Monday.

Bills are received, and the electrician is paid, but I'm waiting for an adjustment for the HVAC contractor which I'll have and pay by Friday.

But this is finally close enough for me to consider it done.

It's DONE. It felt like this day would never come. Von thinks the two weeks went really fast, but then again Von wasn't the one getting up 1.5 hours early every day the way I had to, to let the contractors in and keep them from seeing me in my nightgown.

So please, grab your beverage of choice (mine at the moment is a chocolate milkshake, though I did make some kick-ass good mojitos this past weekend) and join me to celebrate the completion of our HVAC system installation.


(Now, watch it stay at super-mild temps all summer so that we end up barely needing it!)

Monday, May 21, 2007

It ain't over 'til it's over, and it ain't over yet.

So close and yet so far... we DO have heat and AC, though!!! So that's a very good thing. They tested the heat on Friday but it was so chilly that they really didn't want to test the AC since they'd be back today (Monday). It felt so good that I was almost tempted to keep the heat on! But I'm morally opposed to running the heat in May. Or maybe I'm just a tightwad and just use energy conservation as my excuse, who knows. Today should have been the last day for it all, since they only needed to get the humidifier hooked up, but as we were doing the final walk-through we noticed that they brought the primary drain line for the upstairs system down into the crawlspace but never continued it outside, so that needs to be finished tomorrow.

Overall I've been very pleased with these contractors. They were pleasant to work with, I felt that they were trustworthy and reliable, they seemed to know their stuff, and from what I can tell, the work that they did was very good. The only thing I'm not happy with is that they tossed a bunch of little stuff that I'd planned to keep. I'm the first to admit that it was stuff that would be considered junk to most people, stuff that didn't have any real monetary value to anyone: the old disconnect switch, a few of the old knobs from the old knob & tube wiring, and a bunch of probably 40's-50's era tins with labels still intact that probably were used to store screws and the like, including several old little stain cans and an even older coffee tin with a metal lid. But it was MY junk, dammit, not theirs to dispose of, and now its all gone. And yet there's some other trash still left behind in the basement, such as the insulation that they had to take down in order to run some of the ductwork. Why couldn't they have tossed that out instead of my little tins and knobs and electrical boxes?!?

So would I recommend them? Yes, most definitely, so if you're in Slower Lower and need a good HVAC contractor, I'd be happy to pass along their name. But I'd just make sure to remove any treasures that someone else might think is trash that is in the area where they'd be working.

Friday, May 18, 2007

ARRGGHH! Original house detail taken down and tossed.

This was one of the tiny handful of original details that were left in this house, and now it's gone:

I know it's not the biggest deal in the greater scheme of things, but it was a big deal to me.

It wasn't even really significantly in the way but someone on the HVAC crew took it down from where it was hanging in the basement (by order of Main Installation Guy who admitted to declaring it trash) and apparently tossed it.

:::insert stream of profanity totally unsuitable for a public post:::

They're going to check with the guy who took it down who isn't here today, to see if by chance he has it in his truck. If he doesn't, Main Installation Guy is going to search through the company's dumpster to see if it got tossed there with the rest of the trash materials.

I feel like I shouldn't be as seriously upset about this as I am, but I am. Not even angry, just very very sad. I know it was basically trash, a rusted out bit of "junk," but it was one of the very few original things left in this house, and when you're as desperate as I am for original details, you appreciate the little things like this.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Coming down the home stretch

Tomorrow it should all be over. The HVAC guys are just a wee bit behind, since they were supposed to do the live test today, but as long as that goes ok tomorrow, they expect to be done by the end of the day. My understanding of the last bits that need to be done are:
  • Install 1st floor thermidistat and calibrate both thermidistats for the equipment.
  • Finish installing humidifier.
  • Finish closing off one vent and one return in the attic.
  • Test.
  • Clean up.
I'm not terribly worried if they end up not finishing tomorrow - we're so incredibly busy this weekend that we'd probably not get the house back in order until next week anyway, plus the weather is predicted to be very mild for the next week so its not like we need to run the AC. But it would be so great just to be able to say IT'S DONE!!

I am a little taken aback by how freakin' HUGE the outdoor units are. They're on the side of the house, and not super glaringly obvious/ugly from the street, but we still plan to put up a removable screening fence just to make them not at all visible from the street. It has to be removable, because in order to not put it along the porch, we'd have to install it so close to the 2' high platform they're on that it would make it more difficult to service the units if needed.

Electrician Guy told me tonight that he hadn't been told by HVAC guys that they were putting in a steam humidifier which would require it's own circuit, so there's going to be a wee bit extra cost in his bill. Considering that my estimate left us with a whopping $300 or so left over once the HVAC and electric were both paid, I certainly hope it's not a lot extra. He's also going to wait until I install the basement lights before he has it inspected, since he's certain the inspector isn't going to think highly of walking down the narrow small steep curved basement stairs with a super-low ceiling and no light available. So I need to get that done within the next week or so.

Since the junction box I'll be feeding from is at the far end of the basement from the stairs, I was originally planning on putting in a switch loop with the switch at the top of the stairs and at the end of the circuit. I'd even figured out how to do a switch loop with two lights in the circuit, but the electrician reminded me that I really need three lights - one in the back of the basement (very near the junction box, in fact), once towards the front/near the bottom of the stairs, and one at the top of the stairs. I'm not even going to attempt to figure out how to do a switch loop with three lights, too many places where literally my wires could get crossed, so I'm going to just do it the "easy" (but wire-wasting) way and run wire from the junction box up to the light switch, then back down again to inches from the junction box.

Monday, May 14, 2007

'Twas a good, productive weekend

It was simultaneously a wonderfully relaxing weekend and a very productive weekend. The weather for the most part was delightful, conducive to whatever type of work we felt like doing. And work we did. In response to our patience running thin on living with the chaos of the first floor during the first week of HVAC installation, not only did we get everything put back where it belonged, but we also did a super-mega cleaning: All floors washed, all furniture cleaned/polished, all furniture and other displaced items put back where they belong, kitchen and bathrooms seriously cleaned, several bags worth of stuff we no longer want/need pulled out to be donated, and do I detect a hint of minty freshness?? No, just murphy's oil soap, lemon oil, and orange furniture polish and cleanser, which is just as nice. I also finally got a shelf put up in the basement stair landing area for cleaning supplies, so that we can get them out of the downstairs bathroom.

We also were equally productive outdoors: The yard is mowed and trimmed, we cut back on a lot of the junk growing out there (our house is at risk of being overrun by privet), and we rescued a rose of sharon that had been totally engulfed by some fugly vine. Several freecyclers came by last week for the lily of the valley and ivy that needs to be gone from the front beds, and so I was able to get most of my plants put in. Damn that lily of the valley sends down a hellatious root system - cutting through it was like cutting through a 4-5" thick brillo pad. I still don't have a few plants in, plus I never got around to building the boypug-proofed raised bed for my herbs, but things are still looking very good. My veggie/homeless flower garden seems quite happy with the thick layer of chickenpoop-laced leaf mulch that I put on it Thursday, and the big rain that we got Saturday night.

We did a fair amount of planning as well. When will we tear up the carpet to uncover the dining room's wood floor? Only when we can get a kid-free weekend, because we'll need to do some major scrubbing and who knows what else once we see what's there. What's our next project? The downstairs bathroom, for which we now have a color picked out and plans for the cabinets and decor. Where are we going to put rain barrels? Ideally, one on the side of the house for the front garden beds, one within the fenced area of the back yard for the back part of the yard (though we need to put a gutter on that side of the garage to feed it), and one in the driveway area for my veggie garden (we'll need a gutter on the shed to feed that one). My attempt to find barrels locally have failed, so I may have to break down and pay $100+ each for them instead of making them myself.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

HVAC: Week 1

I'm feeling a bit less cranky about things today, in no small part because we no longer have the dining room piled with all the pantry junk and the living room with everything pulled to the center of the room. The first floor, crawl space and basement are all finally complete, at least in terms of the main unit and ductwork. Main Installer Guy wasn't here for most of the day today but the two guys that were here just totally cranked out the work: They got the 3rd floor unit put in place, and most of the ducts built (though not yet put in place) for up there, even a couple of pretty convaluted pieces with all kinds of curves and bends that reminded me of the crazy architectural models that my architecture-major roommate/friend in college would make.

Electrician Guy also stopped by as well, to see how things were going, and seemed quite pleased that the unit is in the basement instead of the crawl space; he said (in writing) that he'd charge me less than the estimate if it ended up taking him less time, so I can only hope.

It's 2am but for the first time all week I don't have to get up at 7 tomorrow morning, which is a really good thing, since today was just nuts: Work at home this morning, while resisting slamming my fist into the computer because our class management system kept choking and burping and losing the work I'm doing to prep for the summer class I'm teaching. Doctor's appt late morning which took an hour longer than usual because my primary care provider, the amazing and wonderful and delightful Bonnie Yoder, just changed to a practice 18 miles away instead of a mile away, but she's most definitely worth the extra drive for the amazing CARE (as in, being a real person who really cares how we're doing type of care) that she gives to us and to all of her patients. More work at home this afternoon. Lucy to vet early evening (vet is first come first served, so it always takes freakin' forever, but hey, that's the price you pay for hours every evening and weekend); unfortunately Lucy still tested positive for mange mites, so she gets another month of poisons medicine. Buy her dog food from one place. Buy the boys' dog food from another place. Drop her off. Go do our biweekly payday mega-shopping trip. Come home and put all that stuff away. Spend a few precious moments with my granddaughters then get the baby to bed. Finish all that chaos long after 10pm. No wonder I'm still tripping.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

HVAC Day 4: The Cranky Post

The mess is really starting to get to me. They made the cut for one floor vent in the office that is just a smidge too big and it's bugging the crap out of me and there's really no way to fix it so we just have to live with it and I don't want to, I want it to be not too big. They were supposed to be completely done on the 1st floor today but Main Installer Guy got pulled out for some emergency at someone else's house this morning and wasn't here all day, and he was supposed to finish the first floor vents so those still aren't done so we still can't put things back in place in several locations, and the two helper guys could only do so much without him so they ended up leaving early. Main Installer Guy was also out for much of the day yesterday because of a funeral, so I hope this doesn't mean that they're falling significantly behind. I still think they're great overall, but it's just not a good idea to start falling behind or making wee mistakes at the same point in the project where I'm starting to get cranky.

This mess is wrecking havoc on our food budget and waistlines, too, since I've really not felt like cooking in the middle of all this. Tonight I dragged Von out to get pizza. I should have had a beer while I was at it. Maybe I'll buy some tomorrow, though I'll probably drink it out of an opaque glass so that our D.A.R.E.-aged granddaughter doesn't ask us once again if we're planning on getting drunk when we're supposed to be taking care of the kids just because we have one drink. Gotta love kids that age.

This getting up way early is getting to me, too. OK, I know I don't deserve any real sympathy here - most folks don't have the privilege of sleeping until 9am most mornings, but I do, dammit, and when you combine my general inability to get to sleep before 1am with suddenly having to get up every morning no later than 7:15, you get a very cranky sleepy girl. Last night my overtired body just crashed of its own accord at probably around 8, so I feel a bit more human today.

They'd damn well better get this first floor finished tomorrow, though, or I'm going to be exceptionally cranky: We have the kids all weekend, and this kind of mess/chaos just doesn't mix well with having a crawling baby in the house.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

HVAC Day 3: Can you feel the excitement?

First the really good news: Another cut taken from the dining room floor confirmed that the luan is simply stapled down with teeny tiny staples, and not glued as we'd feared.

I'm such a compulsive planner and budgeter, but there is always one thing that I never remember to budget into the cost of a bigger project: Extra meals out. I just do NOT feel like cooking when the dining room is such a disaster, though maybe I'll make pancakes and bacon for supper tonight.

Things are far enough along (1/3 done!) that I can now list what's left to be done instead of what is done:
  • Finish cutting and installing kitchen, bathroom and laundry room vents
  • Connect two returns and three vents
  • Attach one section of ducting to the ceiling in the basement once it's connected to the return
  • Install plywood around where the ductwork exits the basement window into the crawlspace
  • Put some bits of insulation around a few places
  • Do all of the 2nd/3rd floor work
Ok, so that last bullet point is a pretty big one, but this means that tomorrow one of the guys will finish with the first floor installation while the other two get the unit put in place in the attic and start assembling and connecting some of the key pieces. Friday will be vent/return cutting day, so (poor me) I will need to work from home again. God, I love my job!

One of the guys on the crew is a thin, energentic youngster, and I realize that ever job like this needs a thin energetic youngster, since he's the one who does 98% of the crawling around in the crawl space, and he'll also be the one to crawl through the tiny kneewall space on the 3rd floor to pull around the ductwork there.

I wish that the fact that they hope to finish next Thursday could get me out of travelling 80 miles up to Wilmington that day for "Employee Appreciation Day" aka "be there unless you're hospitalized or an immediate family member died in the previous 24 hours Day," but I doubt it.

I was going to take and post pictures but honestly, does anyone really want to see pictures of my vents, returns, ductwork and blower?? I'm sure that reading about it (if anyone's even bothering) is mind-numbingly boring enough as it is. The dog-bite scar was the only real item of visual interest so far.

I do plan to take before & after pictures of the dining room floor once we get to that point, although I'm almost embarrassed to show folks just how nasty this carpet is ("You let the baby crawl around on THAT?!?").

Oh, and we have to figure out how to keep obsessive-marker-boy from peeing on the vent in his hallway. Honestly I think we might just have to cover it most of the time. That or cut his weiner off.

Freecycle Rocks

I could list dozens of reasons as to why Freecycle rocks, but I'll stick to today's:
  • I found myself very cranky today at the prospect of trying to remove the invasive ivy and lily of the valley that tend to take over my front garden bed, a task that I'd been avoiding for far too long, but I can't put in some of my new perrenials in until that stuff is gone. But then I finally realized that I could list them on Freecycle, "bring your own shovel." Within two hours I had a waiting list of folks who want to come over and dig them up for me. Makes me feel like Tom Sawyer painting his fence!
  • I needed some compost and/or mulch to spread on my garden bed, which was hastily plowed up to hold all of the plants rescued from my old house until I could figure out what's what ad find them permanent homes. Freecycle led me to a local guy who I already know, who lives in the woods with dozens of free-range chickens and guinea hens and has a huge well-rotted pile of leaves laced with chicken droppings for the taking. I'm going there with plastic bins and shovels (though if I already had my $1k banger pickup truck, he would just load it up with his very own frontloader for me).
Other stuff I've given away on Freecycle: A pile of ashes from my burn pit, a pile of cracked concrete block pieces, two huge truckloads of the leaves that we didn't even have to rake, and the huge fallen oak tree that a tree service was going to charge hundreds to come chop up and cart away. Plus in the three days after closing on this house, freecyclers emptied the house of the tons of stuff left here by the previous owners; we didn't even have to carry one thing downstairs, let alone figure out a way to get it all to the thrift store or dump.

Freecycle Rocks.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Blissfully surrounded by chaos

Day 2 of the HVAC install is over, the first floor is a disaster with so much pulled away from the walls and out of bottom of the pantry closet (which is how they're getting a vent into the kitchen), but even my hyper-Virgo clutter-hating honey is unfazed by the mess: We're just happy as pigs in mud that this install is finally happening, and walking around like drop-jawed dazed lottery winners to have discovered the wood floors underneath the plywood in the dining room and hallway. As soon as they contractors are done and out of here, we're having a carpet & luan-ripping party; I may even have enough mint that's come up already for our first batch of real mojitos . And hey, if it's a hot day when we want to do all that physical labor, we can run the air conditioner! I'll admit that we are anxious that they may have glued down the luan, which will be a royal PITA to deal with, but we're going to try and see what we can do anyway.

I'm now getting a much better perspective as to why this job cost so much. These guys have worked their butts off, and they've done a lot of work but it's only a small dent in the overall projects - at most, they've done half of the work for the first floor system, and they still have the 2nd/3rd floor system to install, the pipes to run, and the outdoor units to install.

So, so far they have
  • made the cuts and installed the "boots" (metal thingies that connect the ducts to the openings) in about 2/3 of the 1st floor register and return locations.
  • assembled and installed some of the crawlspace ductwork (not sure how much because I'm not crawling under there to figure it out!)
  • built a high stand in the basement for the blower unit, and removed the basement window to give access to the crawlspace
I also have to say that so far I'm extremely happy with their work. As long as nothing changes (which I really don't expect it to), I'd be very happy to recommend them to anyone in slower-lower Delaware who is looking for an HVAC contractor! They're a really nice group of guys, too. Nice is always, well, nice.

In other news, I finally got some tomatoes in today, though it will be fun finding out what kind they are. Our Ag department's annual plant sale was last week, and I bought six tomato plants then but left them behind, and so today even though the sale was over, the ag faculty let me take six from their few leftovers, but all had lost their labels so I have no clue what any of them are. I'm not planting much this year - the tomatoes, a few anaheim peppers, and my herbs, though the herbs are all going into planters set on top of my garden bench. The veggies are out by the garage, outside of the fenced back yard, but I like my herbs to be more accessible but they can't go directly into the ground in boydog territory. Maybe this summe or fall I can build a raised pug-proof bed.

Monday, May 7, 2007

OMG! OMG! We have wood floors under the carpet!

I'm so excited that my heart is racing!!!

They just cut the holes in the dining room floor for the vents, and the wood floors are still under there!!

The previous owners had told us that there was nothing but plywood under this grossly nasty carpet.

Now, here's the kicker: There had been a fire in this room, back when it was a kitchen. So there's a good chance that the wood floor is damaged, perhaps significantly to the point of being unusable.

But just the fact that it's THERE and that it could potentially be useable makes me seriously happy.

As soon as the HVAC install is done and I can wheedle permission out of Von, I'm tearing this nasty carpet up and seeing what's there. I figure worst case I'll re-cover again with plywood, but I can definitely hope for something usable.

It's a beautiful morning, think I'll go outside and smile

It's bright and sunny with a delightful spring nip in the air. The lilacs and roses and hydrangea and all kinds of other things that I transplanted from my old house with its sandy soil and filtered sun, are clearly in heaven with the sunshine and good rich soil that we have here - I didn't expect much the first year after transplanting them, but my lilac for example is covered with more flower clusters than I've ever seen on it. I'm working at home today so once it warms up a bit I'm taking my laptop out to the porch and working from there; it's just too nice to stay inside.

But the best part is, I've got three guys wandering around in my house talking about where to cut cut holes, where equipment is going to be installed, etc. Yes, folks, the HVAC guys are FINALLY here. I told them that if they didn't do a good job I was going to sic my attack pugs on them. So far they seem like a very cool bunch - good sense of humor, and jumping right into the work.

Lucy: Yo, Murphy, did I just hear them guys talkin' bout takin' shortcuts on that ductwork install?
Murphy: Don't worry, doll, I'll take care of it. Ain't no sloppy holes being cut in THIS floor.

(Click here to see why dog bites are a real threat with this job, if you hadn't seen it before)

I've decided to stay out of their way and not take pictures while they're working, but I'm going to take pics every day. Whooooo how excited can one woman's life (and blog) get?!?

Now, I need to spend a little quiet quality time alone with my bank balance, saying good-bye. It's about to go completely away, and even though I keep being promised that it will eventually come back, I know that things will probably never be the same.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


So here's one of the three reasons why our HVAC got delayed for three weeks:

HVAC Delay

I finally found out what really happened:
  1. Installer Guy was talking his dog out for an early morning walk, neighbor's loose dog attacks his dog, he tries to break up the fight, gets bitten on the hand. It looks really bad at first, but turns out to be not as serious as they thought.
  2. Few days later, Installer Guy starts running a high fever and feeling like dirt. Everyone thinks it might be some hideous dogbite-related disease, turns out to be a bad case of the flu.
  3. Installer Guy starts feeling better, finally feels up to taking his dog out for an early morning walk again, neighbor dog attacks his again, he tries to break up the fight again, this time kicking the dog resulting in a deep bite to his leg that required 18 stitches.
But, he was here today, we walked through where all the ducts and returns are going, he was cool enough to let me take that picture, and barring any further accidents, it all starts on Monday!

We're thrilled, plus everyone who knows me will be thrilled because in just a couple of weeks I'll finally shut up about this stupid HVAC system.

Have no fear! HVAC guy is here!!

HVAC guy -- the first one, who is finally ready to roll -- is going to be here tomorrow afternoon to map out with me where all the registers and returns will go, and they expect to start either Friday or Monday. AND he is open to putting the downstairs airhandler in the wee basement instead of the crawlspace, now that I know that other contractors say that for sure it can go down there, and just use the old windows for the ductwork.

I'm going to ask him if I can take a picture of the 18 stitches in his leg, or maybe one of his hand if it still looks mangled. Yes, I'm one sick puppy.

Bone MARrow, bone MARrow, we LOVE your bone MARrow, it's only a swab away

OK, tackey title for a serious topic. In the next couple of weeks, people all over the US have the opportunity to join the national bone marrow registry without any cost for the testing and processing, during the National Marrow Donor Program's May "Thanks Mom" registry drive.

All they do is take a swab of the inside of your cheek -- just a few minutes to let someone rub a q-tip in your mouth could mean that you will get the chance to save someone's life.

This web page has a link to find drives near you.

I'm doing it for Isabel,, who is the daughter of a kick-ass wonderful rebel mama friend. I'm doing it for Holly and Liz and my sister Erin and my cousin's daughter Jennifer, none of whom had blood/bone related cancers but I feel that every time we can kick any kind of cancer's ass to the ground, we - they - all win.

They need everyone to be tested for the registry, but there's a serious shortage of folks of color: Black, hispanic, asian and native american donors are in very short supply. I'm dragging Von's cute brown butt up there; Sarah, if you're reading this, get that handsome Chilean of yours to do this as well.

Please don't make this something that you say "oh wow, that sounds like a good idea" then you never do something about it. If you think you could do this, click on the link, find the closest place (ours is 70 miles away but we're going anyway), make an appointment, and go. It will be over in just a couple of weeks, and it will never be easier than this. Waiting until they do this again next year isn't enough, when someone might need your marrow next month.

Who knows, in a month or a year or five years, you might get a call letting you know that you've been invited to play the leading role in the fight to save someone's life. Now, how often will you get THAT chance in your life??

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Access/VBA for home renovation, and "inebriated mathematics"

OK, I'm a geek. And I know that some of you are, too, so I thought I'd toss this out there.

I want to develop an Access (or Access/VBA) home-renovation to-do list manager. In addition to the standard to-do list features, I want to include things associated with each task/subtask such as number of hours I estimate it will take, how many people it will take, can it be done at night or in bad weather, what supplies/tools I need and if I have them (and if I don't, there's my shopping list).

Obviously I'm going to want to look at tasks by room, by type of task (plumbing, painting, landscaping, etc.), etc. And I want it to generate a "how about doing this?" suggestion list for those times when it seems like there's so much to do (or I'm having serious menopause brain) that I can't figure out what to do next - Say, give me a list of indoor tasks that take 2 hours or less and can be done by one person, where we have everything we need to do the task.

So does anyone have even just a generic to-do list in Access or Access/VBA that I could use as a starting point? Anyone want to work on this together? FYI I plan to make it available to anyone who wants a copy once I have something useable.

I'm also not going to take offense if you tell me that I'm reinventing the wheel and for a reasonable sum of money, someone's already created a program that will do all or most of these things. Having had several Access students who basically wanted to re-create Quickbooks or MS Project in Access, I know that can happen and I'm sure I'm not immune to it!

As for "inebriated mathematics," that's the Google search that led someone to this blog a few hours ago, according to my site meter. Cracks me up. Hee.

Designing around dog-pee: Need flooring ideas!

I need flooring ideas that are compatible with our dog, Murphy, who is an obsessive marker.

Our dining room and hallway are currently covered in hideous fugly stained (not by Murphy) nasty creepy carpet. To give you some perspective, when we moved in I washed it at least six times with the monster rented carpet cleaner and the water was still coming up thick black. I don't like it much - can you tell? There are many days when I want to just rip it up and throw some stain and poly onto the plywood and call it a day, but Von would kill me. Maybe one day this summer, when I'm home while Von's working, I'll do it anyway and blame it on menopause's hormonal madness.

So it has to go, SOON, but our budget is wee-er than a pug's wee-wee: $1000 for 270 sq ft. Clearly the reclaimed heart pine is out of the question, unless someone has some they'd like to give me.

Murphy basically lives in the hallway, where his marking urges are kept to a minimum by having nothing to mark except his bed or his foodbowl or his new baby sister Lucy. So whatever we put on the floors has to be able to endure the occasional splatter of dog pee in relatively small quantities, but which may be there for a few hours until we notice it. Plus it has to endure the regular click of dog nails from one regular resident and two frequent passers-by (old man Max lives in the office just off the hallway most of the time, little Lucy is the only one with free run of the house).

Do you have any ideas? We don't want tile (standard ceramic or vinyl), unless you can spin a convincing story as to how it could look fantastic if we did it THIS way. It also has to not suck look decent when seen next to the original heart-pine floors in some of the adjacent rooms, and definitely look something better than blah-on-blah when seen next to the cheap generic light beige ceramic tiles that are in the adjoining kitchen, mudroom, and laundry room (and only the laundry room has a door).

We'd prefer something that we can super-seal, particularly in the hallway, to build up the pee-resistance.

But also for perspective, where he has marked on the original floors (which desperately need to be refinished), even if it's clear that it's set there for a few hours, there doesn't seem to be any damage to the floor.

Please help us think outside the litterbox.