The End of an Era

There are some things in life you can count on. From people to events to sayings. You know, like “when donkeys fly!” means it’ll never happen. But then someone goes and develops a hybrid between a donkey and a condor and there goes old reliable.

Here at my house, whenever we lose something, we say “It’s somewhere safe with the radio.” This is because years ago, I think in ’04, I had a handheld ham radio (Icom T2H). I used it in the truck and brought it back into the house to reprogram. That’s the last I saw of it. I knew I had put it somewhere safe (as in out of dog reach) but that’s it.

Well, if you haven’t figured it out, we found the radio today.

Yesterday we had an adventure. We went to Ikea. On a Saturday. On a holiday weekend. It was…crowded. That’s the politest I can come up with. We went because Friday was payday for both of us and we desperately needed a new pad. Way back in ’91, we bought a bed from Ikea (getting it into the elevator and up to the top floor of the apartment building is another story of its own. we still laugh. and wince.). We lovelovelove this bed. The Swedish style of bed is to have a frame, a platform, a base mattress, and a pad on top that. Some beds now don’t have the base mattress but I’m not that young to find it interesting. The base is original and in decent shape, although today we noticed it was losing some seams. The pad is also original although Lorna says we took it back at one point due to somethinganother but even if we did, it would only have been a year difference. So you can imagine it has lost a lot of its fluff. And its glamor has long since disappeared. We washed it once. Spread it out between several saw horses, soaked it with a hose, sprayed it with a furniture cleaner, then rinsed the crap out of it. It took several days to dry.

But I digress.

We went to Ikea to get another pad. We looked online and found they had muchly improved on the concept. Memory foam! While we were there, we got new pillows and new body pillows. If you have ever gotten anything from Ikea, you know they like to shrink anything into as small a unit as possible. So a desk will come in 52 boxes. Seriously. Our mattress is rolled and tightly placed inside a tough plastic bag. We do not look forward to popping the seal. We got home very late and decided to deal with it today.

We are in the process of taking everything off, tightening all the allen bolts (there’s a ton of ’em), and cleaning the bed. Okay, Lorna’s in there doing the cleaning part while I “rest up”.

I digressed again.

Under the bed was this rolling plastic box Lorna uses for storage. Inside is a stack of newspapers we are collecting for the kids. Day they were born, big events, etc. I vacuumed off the top of the box (how the hell does does get there?!?) and, for giggles, opened it. Inside, just laying there, was the radio. Lorna has no clue how it got there. So she says. I’ve never seen the box other than the day we got it. Inside is the newspapers on one end and the radio, a small paper Ace Hardware bag, and some scraps of paper.

So now we wonder, as we marvel at the places and amounts of dust and dog hair that can accumulate under beds, where then are all the other things we have lost that were supposedly with the radio?

On Dryers and Cords

Go figure. The first post I have in forever and it’s a rant. Typical.

We got a new washer/dryer just under 2 yrs ago. We got the extended warranty through Lowe’s. When we got it, the cashier happily told us we did not need to keep the receipt for the warranty as Lowe’s keeps it on file under our phone number. “Yay!” I thought, one less thing to keep track of. But I filed it anyway ’cause, you know, stuff happens.

Just under a year, stuff happened. The washer door wouldn’t close. Since it was not a year, we had to go through Samsung which was fine. I pulled out the file with the receipts and stuff to have on hand for all the model and serial number conversations I had over the phone. The washer was fixed and all was well.

Two weeks ago or so, the dryer stopped heating. We checked the vent, the hose, and Ryan (the nephew) even got down on the floor and looked up the exit hole on the dryer itself. Clear. The dryer spins, runs, all the stuff it is supposed to except heat. Lorna tried calling Lowe’s customer service but for some reason she got nowhere. She hates that kind of stuff anyway so I said I would do it. I finally go around to it and this is when the fun started.

We need that receipt after all. We have practically turned this house upside down and I can’t find the file. I know it is the entire folder missing because I can’t even find the manuals. And I always keep the manuals (although they are getting really useless). Problem is, we moved stuff from the living room into the Rose Room/office. Stuff got put here and there as we figure out where stuff is going. You know, stuff. Stacks of stuff. Stuff in bins, stuff in boxes, stuff in piles.

I told the nice guy (he really was nice) what we were told and how we thought the system worked. He said no, that we need that receipt no matter what. That even if we had called in and registered the extended warranty (which we didn’t know we needed to do), I would still need the receipt. He put a search request in for the time frame we think we bought it and if they find the electronic copy, they send it to me via email.

Meanwhile, no dryer. I decided we’ll just call some local appliance place. Lorna had to take Ryan back, Jo was not well, I had to stay home, and life went on. I just today got around to remembering the dryer was dead. Looked it up online for possible causes (how many others have this happen after just 2 yrs?) and I have been kicking myself ever since.

In college I had a job working for a video arcade company. One of my jobs when we did the rounds was to check the non-working machines. Check cord to see if it is plugged in. If so, then unplug the machine, wait a minute or so, then plug it back in. 90% of the time that “fixed” them.

The first thing to do with an electronic-controlled appliance? Unplug it, wait a minute, and plug back it. It resets the electronics.

Now, we’ve had a lot of power blips lately. Anywhere from less than a minute to over an hour. But it is the actual unplugging that works. And it did. Dryer now heats.

I am kicking myself like mad. I SHOULD have thought of that! It is always the first thing I do when anything is broken! But I was thinking mechanical (heating element) vs electronic.

House Projects: Roof!

As I’ve said here before, many times, there’s the person(s) that built the house and did a good job. And there’s the idiot(s) that came along later and did stupid stuff. We are trying hard to either fix the idiot stuff or to not be the next idiot.

One of the biggest pain in our homeowner’s butts is the roof. Oy. There has always been a leak somewhere that ends up in the kitchen. We’ve done all sorts of things over the years to try and find the source but never have. On top of that, where it chooses to drip down isn’t well made anyway so just added to the problem.

“They” added onto the kitchen at some point. Pushed the house out several feet and instead of changing the slope of the roof, they made the new section flat. And in the worst possible place for a flat section. As you can see in the photo below, one quarter of the runoff from the roof hits the flat section. Add in the leak (which made rot which caused more leaks), and it is a disaster up there. It was “repaired” a while back but they really just made it worse.

One of the things on Jack’s List is replacing the roof. We thought at first we would do an extensive bandaid approach but coating the roof with some sort of plastic paint stuff. But after he did measurements the other day, the total replacement cost isn’t as bad as we thought it would be. And a piggy bank was born. By fall, we will have the money saved up and we’ll get a new roof. We’re sticking with the metal. Jack and Crew will take all the old stuff off, replace any rotted rafters, take both chimneys down (the little one to the right in the photo isn’t hooked to anything), and put on a new roof and a ridge vent (which we don’t have).

And before anyone asks, yes, Jack worked in roofing. He knows what he is doing. We trust this guy. He’s been a treat to have around. Give him a job, he does it. He is, literally, a Jack of Many Trades.

Anyway, he got up there the other day and looked around, did the measurements, and tried to remedy some of the leaking into the kitchen. It didn’t work but he tried. The wall from where Lorna is on the ladder to her right will be replaced as well. That wall is rotted not only from the leak but from the boxwoods that were right up against the house. We trim them down to the dirt but they keep coming back. They’re too close to the foundation to dig, dammit. But you can see where they have rotted the bottom-most board and discolored the wall under that nasty window. I’m standing in the dog lot, by the way. Barely visible to the far right of the photo is the dog ramp we built last year.

Click image for larger version

Soon I’ll have other “House Projects:” posts as we are going to work poor Jack ragged this summer. Next weekend, if the weather is good, we’ll be renting a digger and he’ll be knocking down trees, clearing out the old garage, digging out the stream, and anything else we have time for. Then it will be mulching all the piles of debris (or stacking it for a cool cookout we’re planning for when The Kids are here this summer). Then there’s the new roof on the pump house, knocking down the old shed, rebuilding the front porch….there’s a lot to do.

Donations to the “House That Jack Fixed” piggy bank are being accepted!

Hazards Cont.

Well, the deed is done. Only one guy came and it took him longer to lift that lid than it did to clean it out. He used two metal poles as well as one we had to lift the edge then put a 4×4 under one corner to hold it up (luckily, we had a few laying around left over from the ramp building escapades!). He said it wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be (when I told him how long it had been, he winced and nodded) but then said the drain field was shot. We figured that much. He didn’t offer to fix it for us so I will believe what he said.

Because he just lifted one edge of the lid up, I didn’t get to see anything. Which is good.

Hazards of Rural Living

We bought this house way back in ’92. And, in all that time, we’ve never had the septic tank emptied. Granted, with just two of us, it’s not high on the priority list but lately, whenever we shower, the toilet flushes itself and the sink gurgles. Not good. It’s either the septic tank or the bathroom plumbing is haunted. Really, it could go either way.

So since it has been 19 years and since we don’t know how long it was prior to that, we decided it was time. Houses that are not connected to city sewage systems have septic tanks and leach fields. Stuff goes in one end, heavy stuff settles, liquid stuff flows to the other half, then drains out the exit pipe leading to the leach field where Mama Nature does her thing. Over time, the heavy stuff needs to be removed. We add bacteria stuff to the system every month but even that is just prolonging the inevitable.

We have friends (yes, we have them) and Christie and Jack are two of them. They’re this cute het couple but we like them anyway. Jack is doing some work for us and one of the things I listed as needing to be done is finding an digging up the lid to the septic tank. Taking care of that part first saves us $50-90. So Monday, after several loads to the dump, Jack decides to do the septic location. He is a Jack of All Trades, literally. He had a job putting in septic tanks so he is very familiar with them. As most things with this house, nothing goes as planned.

Most tanks have two, smallish lids, roughly 2’x2′, one over the incoming pipe and one over the outgoing pipe. Jack locates the tank (yay!) then starts digging around looking for the lid. He said that the grass dying in that spot was because gasses leak from the lid and kills the grass. Not a good thing. He told me the size of the lid and I said the dead spot was much bigger than that. He digs down to the tank, figures out about where he is, then goes to the other end to dig out the incoming lid (the one that needs to be removed). He finds the edge finally. Finds the handle finally. But can’t find the other edges. After much digging, he finds another handle. Our lid is 4’x4′, half the size of the tank itself (which means, according to Jack, it was put in place in the ’70s). We just saved ourselves even more money because a lid that big would have cost even more to dig up, although it is less than a foot down.

Tomorrow morning, the septic suck ’em up guy comes and does his thing (for $185). We did as Jack said and told them how big the lid was and to bring an extra guy. Then Jack will come back on Friday and fill the hole back in. The Rose Room window overlooks this hole and I will have a good look at what they are doing from here. Not sure I want to, though.

Today, Jack and Lorna did another dump run or 2 and picked up a truck load of mulch. It was steaming as they unloaded it. They’ll pick up another load Friday I think. The list of stuff for Jack to do is long. And, the more we realize he actually knows what he is doing, the longer that list gets. We may actually get a front door!

View from the Rose Room/Office
view of septic tank from inside house

The lid and it’s two massive handles
view of septic tank handles

View toward the house. I took this one so we’d remember in 20yrs where it is.
view of septic tank looking toward the house

Steaming, black mulch. And Jack.
pic of the steam coming off the mulch as Jack unloads it

House Projects: Rose Room slash Office

We’ve been slowly working on the Rose Room. And I do mean slowly. So slow, I’ve not bothered to put any posts here about it.

As I’ve mentioned before, our rooms are named because, well, some of them serve no particular purpose (living room, kitchen, dining room, etc) so we named them according to their most prominent feature. Guess what the Furnace Room has in it? So the Rose Room was so named because of the rose wall paper it had. And I mean ROSES. The big ones are bigger than my hand.

The roses are gone. Over the summer, Lorna slowly cleaned and primed the walls. As a side note, we will never use Zinsser B.I.N. primer again. It is shellac based, highly flammable, and the fumes are dangerous. It is also runny as water and nearly impossible to use on the ceiling. But Lorna did it, bless her heart. We next argued decided on the paint colors. We had a lot to choose from and our likes/dislikes changed from day to day. Benjamin Moore carries little sample cans of their paints or can make a sample can if they don’t have it.

We chose a dark green for the “accent” wall and a nice blueish purpleish blue for the other walls. I HIGHLY recommend Benjamin Moore’s Natura paints. No odor, no VOC’s (bad stuff), and great paint. We loved it. And, the best part, their paint sample paper thingies? Identical match to what is on the wall. Identical. Creepy.

The ceiling we made a basic white. We were going to tint it slightly with the same color as the blue wall but decided not to. We did decide, though, to put two coats on the walls. Two of the walls are rough cut, probably cut from right there on the property when the house was built. We debated covering them with paneling but decided not to for various reasons. Cost and ability being the top two.

Before we painted, we had an electrician come out and put in 5 outlets, a light switch, and a ceiling light/fan. Whoo Hoo! The Rose Room has more outlets than the entire house (minus the kitchen)! AND a light switch! What did the room have before? None of the above. It had a light socket with no string. The Rose Room’s dimensions were altered when they put in the bathroom so the light that used to be in the middle of the room was then just a foot away from the wall. We never used the room except as storage so we were never in a hurry to replace the socket with one that had a string or chain.

The room is painted for the most part. Tomorrow Lorna will put the 2nd coat on the top half (where I can’t reach) and will touch up the ceiling. We’re still arguing debating on how to do the moulding. I want to just slap some stuff up while she wants to miter/cope/whatever it. Once that is done, most likely tomorrow, I’ll finish making my desk and move everything in!

Yeah, not holding my breath on it being done tomorrow. Sunday. Maybe.

More pics later! I’m working on setting up a gallery again. Not that I don’t have anything else to do.

House Projects: Bathroom Done (?)

We think, maybe, perhaps, that the bathroom is done. There’s a few things left to do, such as the door trim has to be put up, but the major things are finished. The big delay was the sink. Oy.

As you learned from the previous post, our sink had to be replaced. We hoped to get a cabinet but that didn’t work out. A pedestal sink thing is designed, basically, for sinks whose plumbing goes through the wall, not to the floor. I didn’t think it would be that difficult. Ha.

I could get the new pipes in just fine, but the pedestal wouldn’t fit. The loop thing (J pipe) was too wide. I got some adapter thingies in hopes I could sweet talk it into working. Nope. Finally, after taking time away from it (I was contemplating looking up how to make a pipe bomb, pun intended), I went to Lowe’s and got two pieces that had flexible sections. And boy george I got it to work. It’s not pretty. And the flexible part (looks like an accordion) makes the water very noisy when draining. But, it works so shut up.

But that wasn’t all the problems. The sink bracket itself is level. But the sink hanging on it is not. The pedestal part didn’t fix it either. At first, the sink leaned in one direction. But, after putting everything together and screwing it to the wall (because to level it meant it wasn’t fully on the bracket anymore), it leaned in the other. But, it works so shut up.

And, you guessed it, the fun continued. Whoever designed sink drain stopper things needs to be stoned to death with their invention. It was the only place that leaked once we got it all together. Then, with the pedestal in place, I had to finish the last part of it blind because it was inside the pedestal. But, it works so shut up.

Next came the light fixture and not even that went right. We wound up again getting creative and the fixture doesn’t exactly cover the hole. But, it works so shut up.

Next came the cabinet to cover the hole of the other light. Would you believe there were no problems with it whatsoever? We were concerned and kept checking to make sure we did it right.

Next we assembled the cabinet that went over the toilet. We managed to put it together without a single fight! Amazing! It was a little easier than Ikea furniture but still had it’s Twister moments. It is wobbly as heck and we can see why they say to attach it to the wall! I put the doors on today and that’s it except for centering it and attaching it to the wall. The floor on one side of the toilet is in poor shape so I am waiting to discuss options with Lorna before attaching it.

All that is left is the curtain rod, hangers, and the shower curtain. Oh, and the new plate for the switch.

Again, I’ve put the photos after the link below (if you don’t see the link, it’s because you’re already here. or there. not sure)

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