Monday, April 14, 2008

Greenhouses and good friends

I've always wanted a greenhouse, and when a friend offered me a bunch of salvaged windows they'd gotten for a project that they've now abandoned, I decided to try to take on the project of building one this summer, sometime after the garage painting and the bathroom remodeling (what, me? ambitious? or would you call it foolishly unrealistic? I know I would!!).

ANYway, I happened to mention this to a friend who I met through freecycle several years ago, and... well, let me tell you first about B. (B, if you read this, don't kill me for writing about it!!). B is this totally cool guy who I first met when he got a beat up non-working car from me through freecycle in order to turn it into yet another art car. His primary vehicle is an old van that he's painted with everything from giant cat heads (with a huge pink cat tongue poking out the front of the van) to naked people appearing to be in the driver and passenger seats. He lives in the woods and raises guineas, chickens and ducks, and sells the multi-colored eggs through the local farmers' markets. He is truly a "Renaissance man" who knows and thinks a lot about a HUGE range of things, from the intellectual and political to the artistic and creative over to welding, automotive repair, carpentry, and... geez, I doubt I even have a clue as to how much and what all he actually knows. But the best thing is that he's someone who will never fail you if you want to see a friendly smiling face and have some enjoyable conversation, and someone who you just know you could call on if you needed help or rescue.

So anyway, B. found out that I wanted to build a greenhouse from old windows and it turns out that he has had the same plan (and has all of the windows he needs already) but has been procrastinating. He talked me through a lot of things just today with regard to my rather clearly unformed (and uninformed) plans. He then happened to run into a mutual acquaintance of ours later that day and they got to talking about me and the greenhouses, and this mutual friend offered me (through him) the ten thermopane sliding glass doors that he has and wants to get rid of.

To tell you more about what kind of guy B. is, while I was having dinner tonight I was telling Partner about B's help with the greenhouse plans and our acquaintance's offer of the windows. I'd told B. that I appreciated it all but I had no place to keep them and (thinking they were framed sliding doors) no way to pick them up. I mentioned to Partner that knowing B., he'd offer to pick them up and hold them for me, which is exactly what he said in the email that was waiting for me after work. He'll help me design something that works out of those plus the smaller windows I'm getting, and as he said, we can always freecycle whatever is left over!

This is some serious incentive to actually get this done instead of just talking about it and planning it forever, and perhaps a mutually beneficial thing as well since I offered to help B build his if he helped me plan and build mine (since I have a lot more ambition than I have that kind of carpentry experience), and perhaps his being so amazingly helpful to me will give him the boost past his procrastination about building his own.

So this is really about two things: Greenhouses, and good friends who will really step up to help you out if you need it.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Vacuuming the gravel driveway

You know how you move into a place and there's this one project that you're determined to take care of right away? Well, almost two years ago, that project was painting the badly peeling garage and garden shed. Finally, today we started scraping. We're doing the garage first, and doing one side at a time, start to finish, starting with the front. Even though it's hard to really see anything, I'll post a picture of our progress -- Everything below the door rail is scraped, top part still unscraped:

We'd hoped to scrape all of the loose paint off the front today, but a cold front moved in and it was the wind and not the dark-gray clouds that convinced us to stop - we're trying to keep the paint chips as contained as possible, so even a moderate wind is bad news when scraping from high up. We put tarps down, but still some blew away a bit or got behind the tarps. I have NO idea what folks driving by must have thought about seeing us out there as we were cleaning up: We were vacuuming our gravel driveway with the shop vac, trying to pick up runaway paint chips! Next time I need to also put tarps over my nearby garden beds, though -- definitely not a place where I want lead paint chips to land.

So now we need to scrape the top part, then strip or heat-gun the rest off. Visually I'm totally find with painting over odd layers of paint that don't choose to leave the wood surface -- it's a 75 year old garage, fer cripes sake, not a piece of fine furniture. But there's so much wood that's been exposed for a long time that we definitely need to sand before we prime. And I'm just not really keen on sanding lead paint; even if we took appropriate protections for ourselves, there is no way that I know of to keep the lead paint dust from getting everywhere. After we get the last of the paint off, we'll sand, prime with oil-based primer, then paint. I read some places about how we should treat the surface with a turpentine-boiled linseed oil combo before we prime, but other places that say that's not necessary, so I need to do more research.

Plus we need to figure out a color. Here is where we're stumped, but we obviously need to decide soon.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Not satisfied with a halfway job...

Even though it was raining off and on today, I was determined to take things a step further in the garden shed, so this is what I got done:

Now, that represents a lot more work than it looks: The shelf was in the garage, in the back-back corner way behind lots of stuff that I had to rearrange to get to it, plus I had to deal with all the things that were already on it. Then I had to clear an even bigger path to get it out, which at the time seemed easier than just snapping apart the pieces in order to reassemble them in the shed. It fit into that spot perfectly, and holds even more than I expected.

I wish I could say that I did the right thing and put everything that I touched in the garage "away" as I moved it, but there was no "away" to put most of the things. I did move some garden-shed type things into the shed, loaded up my car with five grocery-sized bags of baby clothes to pass along to a friend who has a new baby granddaughter plus a bunch of cardboard for recycling, pulled together several things to donate to the new local Habitat ReStore (though it will be a couple of weeks before I'll be able to get them over there), and took pictures of a few things that will be going onto freecycle or craig's list.

Now if I could only find the bag of things that I bought to convert the big plastic barrels I have into rain barrels, I will be very happy. UGH. I HATE losing things in the clutter!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cutting the Crap in the Garden Shed

What a great feeling of accomplishment. Using Chile Chew's "Cut the Crap" challenge as my overall incentive to get something done that I've been meaning to tackle for a very long time, yet facing the possibility of a rainy weekend that would keep me from doing it, I bagged out of work a little early today and came home, completely emptied the garden shed, cleaned it out, patched the roof in a couple of spots, and then put stuff back in ORGANIZED.

It's really hard to take interior pics of very small rooms, but this will at least give you some idea of what I was facing, as we attempt to use this shed for everything related to gardening, yard care, and Summer Fun. Over the past two years of living here, lacking any real organization in there to begin with we basically just started dumping.

Pool and garden dump spot:

The problem with dumping things in there, of course, is that it makes it very hard to find things, and to get larger things in and out. What you can't tell from this picture is that getting the tiller in and out of that spot required taking out the lawn mower and the wheelbarrow.

Now, the finished product doesn't look as good as I'd hoped, mostly because there are some things that I need to go back in and do, such as put more nails into the wall to hang things up, put a shelf along the ceiling in the back to stack lawn chairs, move the building wood that's in there to the garage, and build something to hold the firewood instead of trusting the stack to stay in place. But overall I'm pretty happy with what I was able to accomplish alone in just three hours.

To the right as you walk in, a new shelf for all the gardening stuff, the beach and pool stuff in the back corner, and the two tarps and pool that were just dumped in there folded more neatly, pressed to get them more compact, and put back with a lot more organization that this picture indicates. I just bought the white shelf from the new Habitat ReStore last weekend.

The lawnmower, wheelbarrow and tiller now all have their own parking spots along the back wall so that we don't need to move the others to get one out. That wood behind them is going into the garage as soon as I can tackle that nightmare.

Right now the beach and lawn chairs are just stacked, as are the various accessories for the blowers and lawnmower, but I'm hoping to figure out a way get those up on shelves. Also, we have THREE leaf blower/mulchers, all functional. We've used two at a time before, but that was at the old house where the big oak trees dropped 6" of leaves a week. And I know if I ask Partner which one to get rid of, the answer will be "none of them!!" I did get rid of two big bags of junk/trash from in here, though.

I love seeing all the tools hung up like this, and ACCESSIBLE. What a freakin' concept.

Oh and the other thing I did before I did all this was get up on the roof and patch a couple of spots where rain was clearly coming through, but I realized too late that I clearly missed a spot where the light is still shining through, so I'm going to have to get up there again soon, to at least deal with the holes until we can put a new roof on.

What I really wish I could have done when I finished was to make myself a martini and sit on the porch with my laptop, but sunsets makes the laptop screen pretty impossible to see, and Life with Endless Hot Flashes makes drinking even one drink a Gateway to Misery, so I've got my big glass of water here at my desk instead.

It feels good, though. My muscles are a bit sore, I'm grimy and ::sniff sniff:: ewww yeah, badly in need of a shower. But I DID IT.

And I'm tackling that garage soon come hell or high water.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sorry, Gary, but it's NOT an Amish sex toy

A gentle little poke from ege (ow!!) reminded me that if I'm going to run a contest on two sites simultaneously, I need to announce the results on both sites when the contest is finally won.

The contest was to determine what this was originally, and what it's being used for now:

Many folks got that it was the tip of a lightning rod, but it was my friend Nat from Oklahoma who finally guessed its current use: A back scratcher. Cookies will be on their way to her house once I get to the store and get more butter.

Of course a back scratcher isn't anywhere near as interesting as a Amish sex toy, as suggested by Gary from This Old Crack House. You been smokin' crack, boy?!? Do you see the point on that thing?!?

And oh my Maude, I wonder what kind of blog hits that particular phrase is going to lead to!

"Hey, if you can't remember the URL for my house blog, just google Amish sex toy and it should pop right up!"



(edited to add: I just left a comment to ensure that anyone googling that particular phrase will hit the crack house as well, though he already gets way more interesting search engine hits than I do!)

Cut the Crap - Declutter!

I've decided to participate in a blog challenge to "cut the crap and declutter." After all, it's been on my to-do list forever, but I need to get my ass in gear and make it happen. If you're interested in reading more about the challenge, click on the huge blue button on my right sidebar.

I'm going to focus on the following areas:
  • Garden shed: Pull everything out, set up shelves, cabinets, and places to hang tools while leaving space to easily park the lawnmower, tiller and wheelbarrow, build something to allow the small pile of firewood in there to be neatly stacked, then put everything back. Get rid of all the beach fun stuff that you're not likely to bring with you even if you do actually make it to the beach again.
  • Garage: Oh lord help me. Start by getting rid of all the crap that's in there that was supposed to go to various charities and people asap. Build something to help better organize the wood in there, especially the big pieces. Hang up the bike hangers that we bought a year ago (they're SOMEwhere in there) and hang the bikes up. Organize the stuff that's on the shelves. Put stuff into the garden shed or house that don't belong in the garage. Get rid of as much of that crap as you can.
  • Third floor: Sort through all the old computer crap that's up there and get rid of anything I don't absolutely need. Ditto for the boxes of glassware and dishes. Ebay the various antique do-dads that are sitting up there gathering dust. Get rid of that big dresser that's taking up a huge amount of space that we don't use -- face it, you're NOT going to sell it. Just Freecycle it and be done with it.
  • Attic: Get rid of at least half of the luggage that's in there. Get rid of the boxes for anything out of warranty. Get rid of anything electronic that we're holding on to "just in case." Get rid of half the Christmas stuff - I'm Jewish and Partner is Agnostic for cripes sake!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A contest

Well, since school and work and relative worries have destroyed my ability to get squat done around the house before May, I'm going to at least hold a contest.

The item you see above was once on an old house. It now sits on my desk and performs an important function.

So, what was it originally, and what do I use it for now?

The winner gets a choice of either shortbread cookies, or a grabbag of dollar-store tzotchkes. I'll announce the winner after a few days.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The one that got away

Salisbury Freecycle: Offer, cast iron tub, new in crate, not a clawfoot.

Me: Heart attack city as I can't type a "ME! ME!!! PICK ME!!!" reply fast enough.

Them: I have had lots of interest in the tub. It sounds like you are in need of one. I would like to offer it to you.

Me: I forgot to ask the measurements.

Them: The label says 60' long, 32.5" wide. It doesn't say how deep but it looks really deep.

Me: Thats so perfect - one last important question, does it have a left or right hand drain?

Them: Right side.

Me: $#!+

::sigh:: At least we're heading north to NY in a couple of weeks to pick up the free tile that someone from Old House Web is giving us -- enough white bullnose edge and cove base subway tile to do the whole bathroom (I'll use that for border and something else, I'm thinking maybe a 6" square, for the main part), plus almost enough black & white hex tile to do the floor if it turns out that the wood floor can't be used.