Bittersweet

Sometimes I am particularly struck by how bittersweet this life is. The same day a friend delivered her baby several weeks prematurely, I heard my friend’s mother is at the end of her battle with cancer. She hasn’t left us yet, but the news isn’t good and her time here is short. Little P is beginning his fragile journey here with us as Mrs. M is wrapping hers up. Joy and sorrow bundled together.

On the one year anniversary of a young mother’s death from our community, I was struck again by how intertwined joy and sorrow are. I wasn’t close but her family is constantly in my prayers as they move forward without their mother and wife. That same day I found out my cousin and his wife are expecting their first baby. What a gift!! A new baby cousin to love on for years to come! Joy and sorrow bundled together.

My grandpa is 94 and living with my parents. His dementia continues to progress and it takes it’s toll on everybody sometimes. A few weeks ago my mom was out of town and my dad was helping at my house, so I took Grandpa out for a spin. As we drove through town, stopping for errands, he reaches over to squeeze my hand. He tells me what a good driver I am and I tell him that I enjoy driving with him. He can’t comprehend a lot of what I tell him, but I repeat it in short cheery snippets I think he can grasp and answer the same question 12 gazillion times. His days here are numbered. The days where he can communicate how much he appreciates my driving are numbered. It gives me pause to realize that I am driving around with Jesus– sometimes in his most distressing disguise (as Mother Teresa put it) as the endless question loop. If Jesus asked me that same question over and over again, what would I do? Squeeze his hand and explain again that we’re heading to the dump where I’ll empty the trailer. Smile and tell him what good company he is, put on that 1968 baseball game for the 500th time, and cover him with a blanket. Joy and sorrow bundled together.

Living in community, I see examples of this over and over again. As much as I wish it was all joy, there’s something incredibly raw and beautiful and important about sharing our sorrow with one another. It strikes me that we are all part of this continuum, in and out of each other’s lives and stories and joys and sorrows. It’s a beautiful and intricate and confusing braid of lives intertwined. It isn’t MY story, it is OUR story. I’m just a small but important thread in the tapestry being woven into something beautiful with the people around me. And ultimately, we are made for heaven. It isn’t just about our story here, but our story for eternity. Home.

I can’t help but think this is the good stuff and also the hardest stuff there is. Loving other people means we hurt with them, mourn with them, and rejoice with them. We can’t and shouldn’t try to separate it. If I didn’t invest in people and relationships, my life would have a lot less suffering in it — and it would be missing the joy that comes with loving people. Joy and sorrow bundled together. Recognizing that we need each other so very much.

So today, my heart is heavy for the loss and the suffering around me and at the same moment filled with joy for the gift of new life and the gift of so many dear people to share this road with. Joy and sorrow bundled together. Intricate. Complicated. Raw. Breathtakingly beautiful.

 

Floor Tile at last!

Last week the progress finally felt like it was moving forward at more than a snail’s pace. I had scheduled a lot of time to be home (woooooo) which helps in the progress department.

Monday night I picked up tools and made sure I had all the supplies– and then spent the evening with my second family (one of the many) playing games and catching up.  And then I set some tiles on the subfloor to pretend I accomplished something (#honestproject).

I picked this tile from Lowes. I loved the large tiles, the color, the variation in the tile, but the shimmer in it nearly scared me off. I got over it, purchased the tile, and don’t even notice the shimmer on the floor. Whew. Crisis averted.

 

Tuesday night I installed the backer board for the tile. It was, of course, more complicated than I hoped and the pros say to put it down with mortar and screws (I wasn’t initially anticipating the mortar part). So getting the last wonky spots by the tub leveled with shims and floor leveling compound and then getting the whole thing covered in backer board took the evening.

Wednesday night I started on the tile. This is my first time tiling (which kind of surprises me) but I suppose you have to start somewhere. They make it look so simple on HGTV. And it isn’t rocket science, but as I spend the entire long evening getting so few tiles in place, mostly learning to use the tile saw, and figuring out some complicated cuts. It makes me appreciate the pros and that I am far from being a pro!

My sister recently tiled at her house, so they loaned me their tile saw and tools and I am so grateful to not have to buy my own! My brother in law warned me that since they had bought the $90 saw, the blade guard is trash and doesn’t work so the saw sprays water at you while it cuts. Okay, that sounds harmless. And it was harmless but not without its own particular charm. Mind you, it isn’t just spraying water at you – it is spraying tile dust water at you. So by the end of the evening, your hair has the same texture as straw, sort of cemented together in tile dust. Your entire front is soaked, and you have to clean your safety glasses off after every cut. Fancy.

And still, I’m so grateful for the loan of the saw so I didn’t have to rent or buy one (and believe me, I would have bought this same saw because of the price).

The trickiest spot is that heating vent, that would have been mid-tile which wasn’t working (ask me how many tiles I broke trying to make that work).  And of course, it was the first line of tiles while I was getting used to the saw and its nuances. So I did a thin row of tiles along the edge and incorporated the vent as the second row (on the edge) so as to make the cuts around it. Live and learn.

At 9.30 pm, I realized my mortar was setting up fast and I might need more — and of course, the Blue Store closes at 10. Sigh. So I drop everything, run to the store for more mortar, meant to pee there and forgot, and was home by 10 to continue. I think it was around 11 pm as I stood on my deck, a torchiere lamp lighting the tile operation, being sprayed in the face with tile water and dust, moths fluttering around my head, mortar goop all over my whole body, cringing as I used that loud saw, hoping the neighbors had fans in their windows to muffle the racket. I just had to laugh at myself and the whole situation. Yup, this is the definition of insanity or tenacity. You decide.  I finished up around midnight– and by finished, I mean I put things away because I was half done with the bathroom and it was past time to go to bed. Of course, I couldn’t shower because there was freshly installed tile that I couldn’t walk on… so I slept filthy and showered in the morning when the mortar was dry.

 

Thursday evening I finished up the tile. It felt like I was getting the hang of it and I made more complicated cuts with less trouble and less broken tiles. I finished up shortly after 10 pm. Wooooo! It really looks great. I’m not saying there aren’t imperfections and I guarantee this won’t be my best ever tiling job, but I am saying I like the tile a lot. And I like the idea of one day having all the things we love about bathrooms like floors and walls and sinks and toilets. It is going to be so great.

I was planning to go with a lighter gray grout that would contrast with the darker charcoal tile but in the end (with some coaching from a friend) I went with the matching charcoal grout which was merciful with my newbie tiling job.

I started Saturday with a trip to buy a new toilet. There are a lot of toilet options out there ya’ll. I wanted a dual flush toilet (less water for pee, more for poo) because I’m on a septic and it just seems like the thing to do. There were so many options when it comes to buying a new toilet. So I compared some prices and features, read some reviews, and ultimately got this one.  The only thing I didn’t do on purpose was the elongated bowl — I’m not opposed to it, I just didn’t pick that on purpose. They really should let you test drive toilets in the home improvement stores. I’m sure they have them up on a high shelf for a reason, but it would have been nice (and the most awkward thing ever) to sit on them and see how the height / seat / bowl feels (I mean if I had no shame).

 

So I bought the toilet and then grouted the tile around the toilet in case my dad would be able to come help me install the toilet. I wanted everything as ready as it could possibly be since I’m now going on Day 4 without an indoor working toilet and I’m getting a little desperate.

 

Blessedly my dad and Grandpa came over in the afternoon for a couple hours and we had to modify the flange assembly to the proper height now that the floor was in. And in this case when I say “we” I mean my dad for the most part. He’d done all of the previous flange fitting stuff and was into the details and I was not. I’m so grateful for his help! I want this toilet on right so I never have to think about it again or find it is rotting out the subfloor with a bad connection. Grandpa watched baseball for the most part and was the first to inaugurate the new toilet moments after it was installed.

I finished grouting the rest of the floor on Sunday and man oh man am I loving the new floor and the new toilet. The toilet does feel almost dangerously tall after my last short toilet was installed under the tile and at an angle. This one is tall and level and doesn’t rock at all. Amazing. First world upgrades my friends. This is living.

There are lots of youtube videos and lots of tutorials online if you’re thinking about trying to install tile yourself. As with everything, it is work — but on the other hand, it isn’t rocket science and it is a whole lot easier than floor leveling and plumbing. I will also say that it hearkens back to dreaming within my means. I can’t afford to hire a professional right now but I can afford to learn a few things. Not such a bad thing, notwithstanding the midnight tile sawing and being sprayed in the face.

 

A few tips I didn’t see other places, if you’re thinking about tiling:
  • If you use a cheap saw that sprays tile water at your face, go ahead and start the project wearing a hat. It makes the clean up afterward about 100 times easier. Obviously, as with any power tools, you should already be wearing safety glasses.
  • Clip your nails before you start. Maybe you’re like me and can’t find your nail clippers because your whole bathroom is scattered around your kitchen, but if you have shorter nails, there’s less room to get them jammed full of mortar and you’ll spend less time trying to pick them clean and cringing at how bad they look at work the next day.
  • Be prepared to be very messy. If you are tiling your only bathroom, you basically tile yourself out the door and then have to wait for the mortar to set — meaning you should either dash over to a friend’s house for a shower or sleep gross (I chose the latter because it was the middle of the night).
  • Rags. Get out lots of rags. I found it super helpful to have a couple wet wash clothes for wiping mortar and rinsed them regularly throughout the evening. It goes without saying your clothes will get messy.

The Glamour of Country Living

The other night when I got home from work it was raining lightly but I knew it was going to continue all night and I had to feed the chickens. These are exactly the moments you question having chickens, but since it doesn’t rain every day, somehow they get through.

I’m out there in the rain refilling their food when Daisy dashes over to one of the many woodpiles and out comes a woodchuck. When I moved into the house, there was a lot of woodchuck evidence and I’d see them occasionally that first year before the fence. Once the fence was finished, Maggie and Suzie did a good job of clearing them out and I haven’t seen one since. Until last night.

Since it was happening right in front of me, I pulled out my phone and got a video. Lucky you. No seriously, watch it. Just be sure to watch to the end.
https://youtu.be/CuyZJxJNgxU

My favorite part is how scared my 60 lbs of solid muscle is of this little woodchuck. On the one hand, Daisy doesn’t kill things so my chickens have a better chance at survival. On the other hand, I don’t want woodchucks and rabbits and squirrels infesting my yard. And it’s not my job to deal with them (I have enough on my plate).

As you can see, for as old as Suzie is, her hunting skills haven’t waned. She learned from the best (Maggie) and it is amazing to see it kick in.

After the video above, Daisy took the woodchuck over to a tree and set it down. The rain picked up so Suzie and I ran inside. Daisy didn’t come back and wouldn’t come when I called. I finally went out to check on the situation and found that the woodchuck was still alive and Daisy wouldn’t leave it. It was crying like a baby and it was horrible. I was trying to decide if it was time for me to clunk it with a shovel and put it out of its misery when Suzie came tearing back and gave it a few more violent shakes. She went back inside to get out of the rain and Daisy stood by, licking the woodchuck’s trembling face while it breathed its last. I’m not actually sure a woodchuck finds that comforting, but it was very sweet on Daisy’s part. She acted as though she was losing her best friend.

I went back in out of the rain and since the rain just got more intense, decided to clean up the following day. When I got home from work, it was my first order of business. Except when I went to where it had been, it was gone. What?? Please tell me there wasn’t some kind of resurrection!!! Weird. I looked all over the area and couldn’t find it. Hmm. Maybe some varmint carried it away. I moved on with my evening and was tasking around the house, door partially open as the dogs tooled around doing their thing. And then there was Daisy, at the patio door with a woodchuck carcass (fully intact, thank God!). Oooohhhh. Yeah, cleaned that thing up quickly as I am not interested in seeing it again.

The animal kingdom is an interesting and ferocious place. Well — at least parts of it are. Daisy Daze is 60 lbs of pure love with zero hunting skills. At least she looks scary and like she could protect me. Suzie looks like an elderly little love muffin but she can and will kill tiny creatures without a second thought. And all is well with the world.

Chickens… round 3

One of my readers informed me that my friends over here don’t know about the new chickens.  Oops.

I have new chickens! 

The week my old chickens got massacred, some friends had just picked up chicks and offered to raise mine along with theirs until they could go outside (because they are the most generous people alive!!!!)  YES. There was no way I was ready to add indoor chicks into my remodeling disaster so this was a huge blessing. (Yes, I do have the best friends in the world).

So in early April, I went to Tractor Supply and bought 6 chicks to add in with their 8 chicks and dropped them off with some supplies. They were tiny and cute and fluffy. And that was the last I’d see of them until they were feathered out and ready for the coop. Fabulous.

A few weeks ago, the day arrived: The chicks were ready to be outside full time. I showed up at my friend’s and their kids chased and retrieved the proper mix of chicks, two of each:

Isa Brown
White Leghorn
Orpington

Last time I had three of the Leghorns and they were the first to lay and incredibly consistent. One egg per day per leghorn. I definitely wanted some of those in the mix since the whole point here is the eggs (and the fact that they eat my compost and a lot of weeds is just a bonus).

As we stood in the driveway chatting, one of my friend’s daughters held her favorite chicken “Streamers” sobbing. I felt like the meanest person ever and obviously offered if she wanted to trade Streamers for a different one, by all means. But Streamers is one of two possible roosters and we were splitting the possible roosters, so my young friend hugged it and sent it home with me.

If last year’s leghorns are any indication, I should start getting eggs somewhere at the beginning of August. By then I’m hoping to have built a new coop for these biddies. For now, the old coop is fine and they are in the covered run I built with my troop last summer so they are safe from marauding varmints. It is rather cramped space wise once they are full grown, but I’ve got another solution for the run already figured out (and that’s a story for another day).

In the meantime, there are chickens at my house again. The weeds are being eaten. Daisy is being entertained. And we are dreaming of fresh eggs again sometime this summer.

Dreaming within our means (repost)

I posted this a couple years ago and keep revisiting it in my mind lately, while this kitchen – dining – bathroom takes over my life.  I realized it wasn’t posted here from my old blog so I’m sharing it again. I come to the same conclusion: I am so very thankful. My house is an ongoing challenge but I love it. I’m so grateful for the gift of this place in my life. As my sister said the other day, “No one loves their shack as much as you do.” I think she’s on to something.

September 2013 – Buying this new old house and having a zillion projects I want to do all at one time- with limited time and within a limited budget has gotten me thinking a lot about what it means to live within my means. And furthermore, to dream within my means. Sure, it would be awesome to re-side the house instead of this big ole painting the exterior project. But it isn’t in the budget right now. Instead I will bust my behind, scrape paint till I can’t move my hand, spend every spare minute painting, and buy maybe five years with the current siding. And I’m not unhappy with it. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it is work I am capable of and can afford. It will preserve the house and do the job I need done. All within my means. And in that delicious yellow that I love so much.

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Upstairs I would love to gut the whole thing, put in some new windows, new drywall, new flooring, etc.  But that isn’t within my grasp right now. Over time, I have some ideas about things I’d love to do, but for now, I will stalk the clearance paint aisles, paint the bedrooms, put in some better flooring, and be pleased with the progress within my means right now.

I realized recently that it is unreasonable of me to dream within other people’s means. Oh I’m not saying no one helps me or is generous with their time or talent, just that it isn’t fair to require friends to donate copious amounts of their time and talent to make my dream come true. I will certainly accept help and maybe sometimes even ask for it (like that top part of the house I can’t reach from the ladder), but keeping in mind that my friends and family have lives of their own, projects of their own, things to do.

And I have to say, it doesn’t feel like a great suffering. I’m blessed to be in this house that I love, blessed with talent (or at least determination) to tackle a lot of things myself, and dreaming within my means is actually kind of a safety net for myself and helps me be content and grateful with the blessings within reach.

God is good.

Mid-May

Apparently I never posted this… so here’s what happened over here in May.

Several weeks ago: my dad came over last Saturday for a couple hours. Our goals were to finish the sink plumbing (the one that had rusted through) and then level the floor. Of course, we got started considerably later than planned, so…

My dad had gone to the real hardware store and the guy gave him a fernco that should work. We had to make a gasket out of these little rubber sheets (my new favorite plumbing lifesaver) and this tape. Then my dad clamped the fernco on tightly over the gasket and the old pipe and voila! Solved! Now that we had that figured out, we could get to the floor leveling.

So the floor… it is hard to put in to words just how wonky this floor is. The tub is level. And the subfloor is 4 inches lower in the corner by the toilet than in the front of the bathroom door. It sinks two inches over the bathroom doorway alone. Gah. There is no indication it is moving still, but last weekend we added some braces to insure it doesn’t. My dad calls this the “belt and suspenders” approach which is a vast improvement over the previous homeowner’s “no belt, no suspenders, and probably no pants” approach.

By the time my dad headed home for dinner, we got the section by the toilet level, the new subfloor installed, and the toilet reconnected (again) – still wobbling away on a temporary platform because clearly #wearethatfancy.

Fast forward to Monday evening (yes, a full two days later), I’m working on the jagged floor vent in the bathroom (which is maddening and took 3 trips to the home improvement store to not find a solution) and suddenly I can’t help but notice the bathroom smells like sewer gas… I look over and the fernco that had been tightly installed is now sitting a couple feet away on the floor and the hole (thus the sewer gas) is sitting open. Great. So I guess that isn’t the solution we need after all.

I think I’ve figured out the solution, and believe it or not, it isn’t simple (shocking) and it is going to require removing some more drywall. This will mean all but the drywall on the wall behind the toilet is being replaced. And that piece isn’t in great shape …. Mmm hmmm. One step forward, one backward. That seems to be how it goes over here.

The Next Week:

That Saturday, I cut the old cast iron plumbing stack out, ripped out the unsecured and rotting stud walls surrounding the old stack, and figured out what I’d need to do to get the new stack in place. I put in the new fernco on and the new sink connection, but still need to plumb the stack up through the ceiling and out the roof.

Yard season is starting up again and it is feeling like everything needs to happen right now!! Gah! So I did some yard clean up during the week, mowed a couple times (different parts of the yard). I figured out some other details that I needed to think through (bathroom closet, where I need electrical, what I need to buy for the plumbing stack, etc).

The following week:

Saturday was go time. My dad had lined up a Grandpa sitter (my mom is out of town) so we’d be able to hit it hard on Saturday and get the floor finished up and maybe even the plumbing stack out the roof.  Instead the sitter canceled, complicating our plans. I got up early and pulled the remaining drywall and insulation off the walls on either side of the patio doors, filled the trailer with demo trash from the deck, removed the rest of the drywall in the bathroom, cleared the building materials from the clogged dining room to the deck so we’d have more room to work, and pulled out saws and tools.

My dad and Grandpa showed up around 11:30. We hitched the trailer up and Grandpa got to ride along with me for some errands so my dad could work on leveling out that floor. Grandpa was a good sport for the ride, told me what a good driver I am repeatedly (obviously it bears repeating), and waited patiently as I unloaded the trailer into the dumpster. We went from there across town to pick up something for a job at work, and again, Grandpa waited patiently at the lumber yard. But that long drive through line at Wendy’s nearly did him in. By the time we got back to my house, he was tired from all the running around (or waiting in the car) and was ready for some good ole’ Tiger’s baseball. I covered him with a blanket and he was on the edge of his seat (figuratively) to see if the Tiger’s could pull off a win in 1968 when they were down by 3! (Spoiler alert: They do win). Grandpa is not always content to just sit and watch by himself, so the fact that he was content to do so was a huge gift. What a guy!

Late afternoon, my brother Donal and his family showed up so CK could run the hills with his buddy Daisy. They visited with Grandpa, Donal helped my dad for a bit, and CK ran the hills and “helped” with the project. He loves a good project! CK removed a few nails with his tiny hammer, picked up nails with the magnetic stick, and then uninstalled and reinstalled my heating vent about 100 times. Always such a help!

By dinner time, my dad had gotten the new subfloor installed and leveled (except one piece on the end that I needed to redo). Woooooooo! LEVEL SUBFLOOR!!! I made a run to Lowes to get the plywood I needed for that one remaining tricky piece, ate some leftovers for dinner, and promptly fell asleep on the couch. Like a boss.

Sunday I got that final piece of floor in and the rest of the floor screwed down. I framed in the new closet wall and plumbed the vent stack back up into the ceiling. Apparently my dad doesn’t trust me to cut into my roof by myself (which I find moderately amusing) but if he is that concerned, I can wait for him on that. In the meantime, getting that closet framed means I can move on to install backerboard for the tile and get a floor in. Wooooooooooo.

Spring at the Little House

DSC_9333Sunday was gorgeous out and I spent the afternoon in the yard. I got the leaves blown off the strawberry bed and a couple of the flower beds. I started picking up sticks (there are SO many sticks down!) and marveled at the fact that I already need to mow — it is only April!!! I have a LOT of yard work to do.

6I pulled the outdoor furniture out of the barn but since my deck is hosting a lot of trash, I didn’t get it set up yet. I swept the barn, moved things around, cleaned up varmint poo and was hopeful that none of it looked fresh. Maybe the varmint has moved on? Dare I hope?? I didn’t dig too deeply in the shelves, just in case.

Sunday I took a little photo walk around the yard after doing some clean up and savored how gorgeous spring is. The crabapple trees, the quince, and the forsythia are blooming, the lilacs are getting ready, the tulips and hyacinths are blooming. The leaves are all popping. Spring. I love it. Somehow I think living through a winter makes a person appreciate and savor how wonderful spring is even more.DSC_9321

Doll bunk bed

 

DSC_9229-4059994656-1493346283518.jpgIn today’s episode of #makeallthethings, I have a really cute niece turning 3 today. Gloria is a darling girl with a great sense of humor, gorgeous red curly hair and an imp face, and she is a girl who loves her babies. For Christmas I gave her a made over doll high chair, which she uses regularly. For her birthday, I suggested to her sisters that we make a doll bunk bed for her. Jane and I sewed the bedding a couple weeks ago while Lucy worked on her teepee and kept Daisy distracted while ignoring us entirely (and believe me, I get it). Then this week arrived and with only a few days to spare, I figured I should get this thing built.

I looked at these plans by Ana White – which are darling but involved a lot of small pieces and I was too lazy to comply. I also decided to skip the ladder since clearly dolls don’t actually climb into bed on said ladder. So I didn’t actually follow the plans, but I used the rough dimensions and got inspired by them.
DSC_9489
It isn’t perfect but I think it turned out pretty cute. I used wood from my stash, paneling from the dining room walls for the bottom of the beds, wood filler to cover the pocket holes, and went all out buying a can of spray paint. Woooo. I can’t decide if I get half ass points for this because it is far from perfect (yes, I deserve points) but on the other hand, I made a doll bunk bed the same week I dropped a roll of toilet paper down a hole in my bathroom floor and I still don’t have a bathroom door (do not pass go, do not collect half ass points).  You decide.  DSC_9486
After I took these pictures, my niece Jane showed up with the foam mattresses she made (I am so proud!). The gift was taken home for the birthday party tonight and I can’t wait to see Glo’s face when she opens it! DSC_9490

The Car Circus

The last few weeks I find myself giving myself pep talks about getting through this season. Work has been really busy so I spent about two weeks bringing work home and working on the couch for hours most evenings. I can do this for a season, but it wears me out. I start losing sight of myself when this goes on too long and it feels like my life is spiraling out of control. Thankfully this week, while still crazy busy at the office, I’m back to leaving work at work.

I was super excited to get this beast of a pick up truck repaired and picked up from the shop. This was our survey truck at work for a lot of years and then as the economy tanked and we stopped having an in-house survey crew, the truck had some issues and so it has just been sitting there… for years now!! I told my dad I would either fix it up (if it was a worthwhile thing) or sell my CRV and get a pick up for my daily driver. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner but it is time for a pick up truck. I’ve cracked my windshield in the CRV one too many times and right now I need something bigger to haul things with.  My dad got it over to the mechanic and it wasn’t terribly expensive to fix and the mechanic glowed over how good the engine is still on this beast. I don’t want to build up any dreamy illusions — this thing is a beat up truck. Note the bent up hood, the fancy light on top, and if I could describe the musty, sat for years truck smell… 

Last Friday night I had plans with friends and just as I was a few minutes from their house, driving my trusty CRV, the speedometer and all the gauges went to zero and the battery light came on. Uh oh. I’ve driven enough cars to suspect an alternator problem. When I got to the friend’s house, I mentioned to my brother not to leave until we check to see if the car starts– just in case. Leaving there at 10.30 pm, the car did start! But the gauges were all still at zero and the lights got dimmer as I drove toward home. Not a great sign.

Sure enough, mid-intersection, the car died and wouldn’t start again. I called my brother who was minutes ahead of me and he came back to get me. While I’m sitting there, a lady in the intersection across from me rolls down her window “Don’t you hate it when that happens?”  I smiled and agreed and said my brother was just pulling in behind me. As Donal lines his car up with my bumper so we can roll it into a parking lot, just as her light changes, she jumps out of her car, runs across the intersection, hands me a CD and says “In case your CD player is still working!” Uh. Okay? Thanks?

For your edification, here’s a picture of the CD she gave me. And I’m pretty sure the lady running across the intersection is the acclaimed Katie Geddes on the cover. The CD was from 1999 and since my CD player wasn’t working, I have yet to listen to it. I hope it is as amazing as the artwork. Please tell me this stuff happens to other people.

So Donal pushes my car into the Busch’s parking lot, drives me to the office to pick up the recently repaired truck, and then heads home. What a guy!! The next morning he offered to help me get the CRV to the mechanic. So we set out in the beast of a pick up truck with the terrible smell — or at least a smell like it has been sitting for five years. I clearly have some work to do to get this thing smelling better. Thankfully it was the sort of day to drive with the windows down. We get to the CRV and charge it for awhile. Donal runs into the store for muffins and orange juice while I babysit the charging vehicles and move the tile backer board from the CRV into the pick up truck.

We get about 5 minutes up the road before the car dies — just before a busy intersection. So Donal pulls the pick up next to the dead CRV and we set up to jump it, taking up two out of three lanes. Nice. Donal turns on the truck flashers and the awesome strobe light on top as we flag cars around us. We jump the car – twice because it died again when we removed the cables. I probably should have been freaking out more, but it was all kind of funny and oh so very Cousino.

We make it another two miles and have to pull off to charge again. This time Donal jogs up to a nearby hardware store while we’re charging to get a tow strap – just in case. And since we now have a tow strap, this time we made it to the mechanic’s – with the car dying right as I turned into the driveway.

This sounds funny, but as I told Donal, it felt very adult of us to get a car there on our own, without my dad who is usually the car rescuer. Way to Cousino on through that! Clearly my dad has passed on some important life skills and the belief that tow trucks are an unnecessary luxury most of the time.

The good news is that the car is fixable, the bad news is that it is the alternator and battery and oil pump. Bah. There goes my entire tax refund and then some. So I drove the truck for the weekend and I gotta say, the smell not withstanding, I do love the feel of driving a big powerful vehicle. It may not be anything to look at but this thing has a great engine and gets you where you need to go. I’m pretty excited to have a hauler on site for my many and varied hauling needs.

 

Projects & Varmints

It was a notable weekend over here — again. No — still no raccoon (or other mystery varmint) in the live trap.

Saturday morning I got up thinking how very happy I would be if I got the new bathroom door framed in; by the end of the day, I just desperately wanted to be able to pee indoors. 
I started the morning off with a trip to Lowes to get more 2x4s for the framing, drank a gallon of coffee and was pulling out all the tools I would need.
My dad showed up while I was trying to calculate how to frame a door on a subfloor that sloped over two inches across one doorway.  “I want to open up the rest of this subfloor and see what is going on before we frame that wall.” Um, okay? I just need to have the toilet usable again at the end of this, and I’ve got to serve at Mass this afternoon. “Alright, let’s get going!”  As usual, the deeper you go, the more terrifying things you uncover. I’d removed the tile and backer board previously, but there were layers of subflooring and subfloor framing to get to. And that rotting subfloor around the toilet had to go.
We uncovered some fascinating things:
~Some of the plumbing in the crawl isn’t supported at all or connected to joists, just hanging under there
~The bathroom sink plumbing went through the side of the cabinet and into the plumbing stack — but at some point, rusted out entirely so it was just draining straight into the crawlspace.
~Sure enough, that floor is crazy uneven. It isn’t clear when it sank so much or why (we checked the joists, etc) but it needs to be evened up.
~Incredibly, the tub is level. It can use some additional support and insulation, but we shouldn’t have to move or reinstall it, just add that support and insulation. That’s a win. 
When I left to go set up for Mass, my dad was heading to the store to find new toilet flange and associated parts, saying he’d get the toilet back on if nothing else. Awesome.
When I got home 3 hours later, l was especially glad I’d used the bathroom at church when I found the house empty, some new toilet parts scattered around, but no toilet installed, and no father. Hmmm. I ate dinner and was just mustering the energy to change my clothes and figure out how to get that toilet on when my dad called. They needed me to watch grandpa for a bit and then he’d come back with me and we’d get the toilet back on. Sold! So Grandpa and I ate some dinners and watched some baseball. When my parents got back, my dad and I headed back to my place and then I headed to Lowes for some more parts…

 

It was 11 pm but we finally got enough of a subfloor to stand on and the toilet plumbed to the finished tile height. #dreamcometrue  Next time we’ll pull it back out, do the plumbing and level the subfloor. Then I can finally tile the floor! 

Let’s recap: I can shower and pee inside – which feels huge all the sudden. There is no sink in the bathroom but the kitchen sink is just a few steps (and no doors) away, I can totally live with that. #fancy We’ve ripped out the rotten subfloor but not leveled the subfloor. That has to happen before I can tile. We’re also going to do some plumbing to put in proper fittings and extend the water for a new outdoor hose bib while the plumbing and inside of the walls are exposed because why ever not?  (And because I’ve been wanting a hose bib closer to my garden and chickens).

 

Sunday was gorgeous outside. I slept in. Drank coffee. Peed indoors (woooooooo). Took the pups out for a good romp in the yard. Added to my mental list of all the outdoor chores that should be happening right now but aren’t.

 

I opened the barn up to see if I could see the varmint. I didn’t see the varmint, but I confirmed that it must be in there because it is using one area as a litter box. Eww. I started cleaning up the dried poo while not digging into the shelves to find the varmint because I want my face intact. I was still kind of hoping maybe the varmint has just been here and wasn’t still here — but I wasn’t terribly hopeful. I pulled out some of the outdoor furniture, banging around. Suzie is smelling out everything around there — but there’s a lot of chicken feathers so it isn’t a huge surprise. I should probably build her a ramp up to the shelves so she can scare out a nest of varmints.

 

Two of my nieces have been begging to come over – I think they were intrigued by the open concept bathroom. They arrived around noon. Lucy immediately took Daisy out for a good romp and some work on her beloved teepee. Jane and I started working on a birthday present for her little sister. Jane sewed bedding for the doll bunk set I’m going to build. I used fabric from my stash and helped with cutting things out and pinning things together. We did summer haircuts for the girls and talked of an “epic” sleepover that needs to happen now that it is warm enough for tent camping. 

 

When the girls left, I went to put things away and lock up the barn and found some very fresh poo. The varmint is clearly in there. I put the live trap right in front of the bathroom area and put some leftover pizza in it. Fingers crossed. 

 

Still over here. Still working hard. Starting to despair of ever finishing…