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.
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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…

The Situation

Just in case that last episode I shared wasn’t exciting enough,  the plot thickens or grossens (is that a word?). There are moments where I think God is having a chuckle at my expense, and this weekend felt like that.
Saturday I got up and took a trailer load of demo trash to the dump. It was perfectly terrible unloading it because some high school helper I had decided to dump all of my cans of tile shards on top of a trailer load full of drywall, paneling, and garbage bags. Right. There is a reason we never turn our back on the help, even if we explained exactly what we wanted. Sigh. Unloading it was a ROYAL PAIN in the behind and took nearly two hours. While I was at the dump, I got to observe some real characters. Like the old guy with a shiny white truck who came to look after each load of trash was dumped. He clearly thought I had something special but was disappointed in my load. One rickety old pick up that looked like it was on it’s last broken leg with an equally rickety trailer pulled up. The two uncouth looking men start unloading next to me and I look over as half a dozen mice run out from under the trailer toward mine. Eewwwww. It felt like a scene from a horror movie. I did score when a couple pulled up with their remodeling trash. They had four old style solid wood doors and one of the corresponding door frames. Before they threw it, I asked if they minded giving it to me. The lady’s mom went on and on about what nice doors they were and she didn’t understand why her daughter didn’t want them. It worked out nicely for me. So I got those four wood doors and what looks like a brand new sink vanity top and faucet (I’m going to build a new bathroom vanity). Otherwise I got a sore back and got rid of a lot of heavy trash I’ve had in my life for too long.

While I was there, my dad and my brother Emmet showed up to see about the crooked wall — they were there until mid afternoon and was no easy task but … THE CROOKED WALL IS STRAIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This feels huge. And I do mean really terrific, really ‘uge. This means my next step is framing the bathroom wall and putting a door back on my bathroom. First world improvements people.
Where was I? Oh right, the dead chicken saga, because I’m pretty sure the fact that I’m still talking about it means it is officially a saga.  Here it goes.
I am typically in and out of my pole barn a few times a week. In the winter it is less because it is so cold out there. But still, in and out enough to be lived in. Last summer I had made great strides toward having a wood working area and a paint area amidst the storage, but for the winter, the paint area gets filled with patio furniture and lawn/garden stuff.  Once it gets warm again, I’ll move that back outside and have a workspace again. I’ve also spent the last 3 months filling my normal wood working area with pieces that I’ve disassembled out of my house. So the barn is a hot mess right now. I need to build some wood storage, organize the lumber from the house, etc. Anyway, I’ve been out of town a lot in the last couple weeks, so I hadn’t been out there much.

 

Saturday I ran out to get a tool for my dad and noticed some animal droppings… uh oh. This is bigger than a mouse, the only critter I’ve previously hosted in the barn. There were two boxes knocked down and spilled on the floor from a high shelf. Weird. I didn’t think much of it because CROOKED WALL PROGRESS but after my dad left I was cleaning up and opened one of the big sliding doors. These doors are anything but air tight and latch somewhere in the middle of the door, so the bottom lets in quite a bit of cold air in the winter. Anyway, I open the sliding door and notice an abundance of white chicken feathers along the bottom of the door… and then I notice blood… and some more feathers heading into the barn….

 

HOLY CRAP DID THAT DARN RACCOON DRAG A CHICKEN CARCASS INTO MY BARN?!?!?!?!? Which probably means there’s a nest of little coons gnawing on that carcass as we speak. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

 

I looked briefly and couldn’t see anything obvious. But of course it is probably on one of the high shelves, nested in a box, hidden out of view. And I have absolutely zero interest in coming face to face with a mean Mama Coon. But oh crap oh crap oh crap.

 

On Sunday I went to TSC and purchased replacement chicks which my dear friends offered to raise alongside their chicks until they were big enough to go outside. Look, fluffy chickens!

 

My friend Mark is the guy to talk to if you have any sort of animal problem and he sent me home with a big live trap for the coon and offered me a gun. I declined since I don’t really do guns (or haven’t in the past) but currently have at least 4 good friends / brothers with guns standing by if I catch this raccoon. Wish me luck.
HOW IS THIS MY LIFE?

 

In happier news, my crooked wall is fixed. I can officially begin reassembling my house after the longest demolition project ever. Also I’m still completely gaga over this wood clad wall. Eeeeeee. It’s so pretty with the red china cabinet!

Six Eggs a Day

I was getting six eggs a day for the past month or so. All six chickens, each laying an egg a day, like clockwork, all for a few minutes a day to feed and water them and give them a place to live. This, my friends, is living the chicken dream.

Thursday I got home from work, let the dogs out – like I do – and then peeked out to see Daisy chasing a white chicken who was not in the pen. What? There was one white chicken who evaded capture and didn’t get her wing clipped so apparently she’d flown out. Eye roll. Just as I get to the chicken, Suzie also reaches the chicken. Nooooooo. I start shrieking because that’s what one does when your dogs are chasing your escaped chicken. I grabbed Suzie’s collar, but couldn’t also grab Daisy who was now nipping at the escapee (I’m not sure I can say it was gentle nipping but it looked more like she was trying to catch her than kill her — still… 60 lbs of crazy up against 6 lbs of chicken seemed dangerous). I drag Suzie in and Daisy finally leaves the chicken and comes with me at my insistence. I lock both dogs inside and go retrieve the wet, bedraggled chicken from behind the food bin. It is only then I notice that there are no chickens out in the pen to see me. Keep in mind, these chickens really love me and usually all run out to the fence to see me anytime they hear me. I pretend this is because I am just super lovable, but I think it has to do with the fact that I usually have kitchen scraps for them. Potato potahto.
My eye travels the fenced in garden where they’ve been living since fall. Initially I assume they are just in the coop because it is drizzling and has been raining all day. Then I notice a lot of white feathers and follow the trail to the bodies of three dead chickens against the corner of the pen. Uh oh. I look further and see another one further up. 4 dead chickens. One missing. Ugh.  Something got into the pen and killed them and then clearly was trying to find a way to take the carcasses home so three of the chickens heads were pulled through the fence (but the rest of the body got stuck). Ew. It is raining, a light but cold rain.

 

I get the shovel and start digging. Still wondering about that missing chicken and wondering what killed them. On a whim, I look inside the coop. There, inside the coop, dead, is the missing chicken. Not only did it get killed in there but it is going to be hard to retrieve. Awesome. Thank you, mystery varmint, for your efforts. I’ll spare you the details but I managed to retrieve it by crouching in the doorway and a lot of awkward motions with a large shovel and hey, the head was still somewhat connected (barf).

 

My best guess is raccoon. While I don’t see them around, I am sure they are not far away. It happened in the middle of a rainy day while the dogs were indoors and I was at work. It only missed the white hen because her wing wasn’t clipped and she flew out somehow. (Go ahead and google “What killed my chicken”).

 

As I bury the dead chickens, in the rain, the lone white hen pecks about the garden clucking and calling to her friends. Chickens are so dumb. And also really sad when they are alone. I looked at her and thought, “oh hon, you’re a goner. That varmint will undoubtedly be back for you.” Meanwhile I debated if I should give her to my mom to join that flock or what since a single chicken is always an unhappy chicken. I also gave myself brownie points for my no nonsense approach and my lack of dry heaving over the chicken massacre. Way to go Reenie. Getting more heartless by the day.

 

The next morning, I went out to feed the hen and she was gone without a trace. Clearly the mystery varmint came back for her. Case closed. At least I didn’t have more clean up.

 

I texted my friend whose children had raised the chicks to share the bad news. I got a hilarious string of texts back from my sweet 10 year old goddaughter who truly loved those birds. In one of my replies, I actually said the words “At least we have our fond memories.”  Yeah. I said that. About chickens.
All in all, I still consider this venture a success. I kept the chickens alive for 11 months and it wasn’t my dogs that killed them. I had farm fresh eggs for about 8 of those months and at the end was up to 6 eggs a day. I was truly living the chicken dream. At least until that egg laden dream came to a bloody and untimely end.

The big guns

Last weekend, my brother Donal, his son CK, and my dad came to help out. The goal was to fix the crooked wall and open up the floor to see why the bathroom door frame is moving. CK wore his safety glasses and “helped” by picking up screws, using my magnet on a stick to collect nails, and chattering about every little thing. Lindsey and the Hobbit picked him up at lunch time which is when the real challenging part began.
 
My dad wanted to open the floor up first. There’s a huge sag right at the bathroom door frame and we didn’t want to rebuild the door frame with the sag in the floor still. When we opened the floor up, we found a basement jack  in that exact spot. The person who put it in had it resting on a thin landscape block that split in pieces and allowed the floor to sink back down. The advantage is that we had the jack and just had to install it correctly. Donal squeezed down into the crawl and was down there for hours working on the jacking while my dad directed from the top. The 2.5″ inch sag is now .25″ sag which seems quite acceptable. The nice thing was that we could reuse the basement jack from before, resting it on a much sturdier block and adding another brace. It was dirty and time consuming but it is done.
Now I have to figure out how to get the subfloor back where it belongs with the different elevation. We got the joists into the right space just as my dad had to leave… so Donal and I started on the crooked wall but didn’t get far. Still crooked.
As part of this day, we pulled apart the badly framed bathroom door. Not only do I not have a door on the bathroom, there’s also no wall. Mmm hmmm. Mark my words, open concept bathrooms are going to be the next big thing. In the meantime, you might want to pee before you stop by.
Next up:

Maybe I’m my own worst enemy talking about next up since it never works that way. In this case, I’ve only got a couple evenings to work on it this week because of scheduling. And then I’m going to be on a long weekend silent retreat after that… so it could be awhile before we see any real progress… or a door on that bathroom.

Still working over here

I realize I dropped off the planet a few weeks ago, after getting home from a fabulous trip with people I love. Maybe it is because a blow by blow of slow tedious things I’m doing is boring even me. Or maybe it is because I’ve been over scheduled the last few weeks and haven’t spent enough time working on The Project. Or maybe I just thought you deserve a break.

Never fear, The Project goes on. Since I last checked in here, a few things have actually happened:
1. I removed the bathroom tile which took about a week because it was a beast (side note: the subfloor is gross, blackened by an age old toilet leak and needs to be replaced).
2. The trash barricade has moved from the deck to the trailer and I’ve now started Barricade 2.0 on the deck since I haven’t emptied the trailer yet. Getting that stuff out of my life is going to feel huge. I mean really ‘uge. It will be terrific. Really terrific. Everyone thinks it is terrific.
3. I ripped the rest of the drywall off of the crooked wall in the laundry room and the layers of drywall / tile / wallpaper off the crooked wall in the bathroom. It was amazing to rip off what seemed like innocent drywall and find a wall full of plastic tile and revolutionary war wallpaper hiding behind it. AMAZING I tell you. Basically the crooked wall is now only hosting the wood paneling that is planned to stay. My dad says we should be able to straighten it up without removing all the wood (fingers crossed). That fateful morning when he was digging into things to see how hard it is going to be to fix, he said repeatedly, “This isn’t what I was expecting to see…” Why yes, welcome to my shack. It is never what you expect to see. Once you open the walls up, you can see that the wall was crooked before the addition went in, they notched out the joists to accommodate said crookedness instead of fixing it while they had it open! What is wrong with people? Shout out to Chester who helped remove nails and screws while I ripped down layers of bathroom wall, uncovering a time capsule of previous bad decisions.
4. I ordered and picked up two pocket door frames- for the laundry room and sewing room doorways.
5. I cleaned up messes, again and again and again.
Still going…

The Escape

After a month of dusty house demolition and dreary gray winter month of January in Michigan, it was time for a breather. Thankfully I know I will reach this stage and had scored a good deal on a flight before Christmas. The day finally arrived. My friend drove me to the airport very early and I boarded a plane and dozed on and off for a few long boring hours on said plane. I arrived to visit my cousin and her family in sunny Phoenix. Let me say this, a house with four rambunctious and delightful kids (ages 5.5, 4, 4, and 1) makes for a lively and somehow still relaxing weekend. We didn’t “do” a lot, per se, but there wasn’t a dull moment. There were books on the couch, early morning snuggles, lots of entertaining battles and games in the backyard, lively meals, and wonderful conversations with the adults. We went on some nice bike rides, did a project together (with all four kids helping– which is just as efficient as you might imagine) and played some games. We ate fresh grapefruit and oranges and lemons. We saw the sun. We laughed a lot. This is the good stuff in life, the very good stuff.

Just a few funnies, because there were too many to recount them all:

I was talking to Josiah, who will be 6 in April, about something and brought up Geno, my nephew. Josiah knows Geno because we all vacation together every year but I was trying to give him context.

Me: “You remember Geno, right? From Lorien? The big guy with the red hair? Well, I’m his aunt.”

J, puzzled look on his face, “Well you ARE Aunt Weenie!”

Right. I’m basically everyone’s aunt or practically their aunt. No wonder it is confusing when I use that to clarify how I’m connected to people.

I had a proud moment when I managed to convince the kids I was in their game while not moving off the rocking chair on the patio for a good 40 minutes. The way to do this is with convincing imaginary armies. For instance, J tells me he is a flying mouse and I’m the bad guy trying to get him. While not moving from said rocking chair, I issue an order for my army of flying cats to capture him. Racing through the yard, J turns into a flying dog with an army of flying cheetahs. Moments later, he returns and puts his hands out in front of me, “You captured me! You have to take me to the jungle jail (our favorite thing all weekend apparently).”  “Captain!” I called to my invisible captain. “Take this man to prison and make sure he doesn’t escape.” J goes willingly with said invisible captain, only to go tearing by a few minutes later, announcing that he killed my captain and escaped jail. More escaping of flying cat armies ensued,  all from my comfortable and relaxing spot on the rocking chair. Please don’t tell the kids I wasn’t actually physically chasing them the whole time.

   

The kids love a good story. “Tell us a stowy about me and Abby and you and Suzie and Daisy.” Seeing as they have spent exactly 20 minutes in the company of Suzie and Daisy in their whole life (and it was long ago they don’t even remember it), what they want is an imaginary story of what might be. You can start  with an actual story of some fascinating (or not) thing the dogs do, but then you have to weave the kids into the story. “Tell us a stoooowy!” My favorite was telling them about Stick Day, because now they believe Stick Day at Aunt Weenie’s to be a magical, unforgettable experience, even having never been there. (Muhahahaha)

“Once upon a time, there was an aunt who lived in a little yellow house…”

“AUNT WEENIE,”” they yell in unison. 

“When the snow all melted after a long winter, she went outside and looked around. There were HUNDREDS of sticks on the ground (I’m not making this up). “What am I going to do?” She said. “How will I ever pick up all these sticks by myself?!?!””

The suspense grows. The girls are wide eyed imagining the horror of poor Aunt Weenie faced with such trials. 

“So she invited her favorite kid friends to come over.”

“AND US!!!! WE WERE THERE!” 

“Yes, and Abby and Lydia were visiting.”

“AND ‘SIAH. AND CWARA!” 

“Josiah and Lydia and Abby and Clara were all there.”

WE WERE THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“First Aunt Reenie had all the kids line up and she divided them into teams.”

And I won?!?!?!?

No I won!

Wahhhh but I want to win! 

Thankfully, the wise Aunt Reenie in the story put all three kids on the same imaginary team.

AND WE WON!!!!

The story continued … “Aunt Reenie gave each team a blue tarp and said “On your mark… get set… GO!”  She set her timer and all of the kids picked up sticks as fast as they could, putting them onto a big pile on their tarps.”

L: “I picked up sticks SO FAST so I COULD WIN and get socowate (chocolate)” makes her crazy eyes at me – clearly this is the second time she heard this story. 

J: “And I picked up sticks the FASTEST OF ALL!” 

A: “And I was pwetending I was a baby picking up sticks.”

“All of the children picked up sticks as fast as they could. The piles of sticks on the tarps grew larger and larger…”

L: “Bigger than me???” 

“They were even taller than Lydia!”

THE STICKS WERE BIGGER THAN ME!!!!!!!!!

Aunt Reenie looked very carefully at all the piles of sticks to see which one was the largest.

AND WE WON!!!!!

The children had all picked up a lot of sticks and ALL of the stick piles were very large.

Lydia’s eyes get very wide, nervous for the outcome.

“But in the end, the pile that Geno and Josiah and Ly…”

“WE WON!!!!! AND WE GOT TO PICK DA SOCOLATE OUT OF THE JAR!!” 

“The children played in the yard all day and at the end of the day, they made a bonfire with the sticks they had collected, and everyone roasted marshmallows. And that was the magic of stick day.”

With a long sigh, Abby says “I can’t wait for Stick Day.” 

“Me neither,” said Josiah, “I wish Stick Day was today.”

“I LOVE STICK DAY!” said Lydia.

They asked for the Stick Day story several times over the weekend, and with each telling, the magic of the day grew. I do believe Aunt Weenie may be having an impromptu Stick Day in August that coincides with their visit to Michigan.

The third telling when something like this:

“Once upon a time, in a little yellow house…”

AUNT WEENIE’S HOUSE! 

“After a long snowy winter, she walked outside…”

STICK DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then it went much as the first and second telling. And in case you’re wondering, Stick Day IS magical.

I convinced Jeremy to do something halfway on the play structure kitchen we built, and gave myself some long overdue half ass points. It might be that I can only encourage that kind of thing on other people’s project, but I’m giving myself the points anyway. (Sorry Jer).

I arrived home late Monday night,  a good friend staying up way too late to get me home. I open the door to excited pups who spent the weekend with two of my cousins, who obviously took good care of them. I’m so thankful I got a few days away from the office, a few days away from the home project, and a few wonderful days with people I love. I am so blessed to have family that are such good friends.

And now on with regularly scheduled winter…