Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Sadly enough, the house is finished. It has been a life-changing experience and will always make me smile. I would love to sit within the fruits of my efforts and reminisce over the struggle to learn how to do this task and how each and every square inch can best be utilized. Plus, when I started, I fully intended on living here. But, we all know one of the definites in life is change. So, circumstances changed. I hope the following YouTube makes you smile. Remember, the entire house was gutted when I started.... no water, no kitchen, not even a functioning toilet. My brother and sister-in-law are absolute angels in my book and without them this project may well have fizzled and flopped. Infinite gratitude!

"I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say, instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow."
– Julia Cameron –

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Well, here we go again! Got a little busy taking driving trips to various locations in the Midwest, flew to Florida to visit friends down there and then the snow came and forced me to focus on finishing up the house. However, when I got back the computer was down and difficult to determine the reason! Was it the internet provider?.... who accused the software.... which led to the hard drive. So, no internet access, no blog! Then, once the computer was up and running, I slipped and fell (hard) on the ice in the park behind the house. Actually, there was a two inch snow cover and I had been walking a while when I reached the area between the hockey rink and a small skate rink between the two. It's one thing to walk on snow covered washboard ice than the pristine glass-smooth surface designed for ice skaters. I totally wiped out apparently breaking my fall with the tip of my third finger on the right hand. The egg-sized knob on the back of my head reported the failure of that fingertip to do an adequate job. Although the crack to my head hurt (thank God for thick hair), the injury to my right hand was much more troublesome and now after two weeks is permitting normal movement.

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." ~ M. Kathleen Casey ~

I could go on and on about what a wonder it is to watch the body heal and the wisdom of the way our bodies are designed is so incredible. Should I? Perhaps a little.... So, I figure I must have broken a blood vessel (or fingertip bone? ~ who knows) as the end of my third finger swelled up like a balloon. Now that in itself is amazing because apparently at each joint there is a barrier preventing the blood from going to the rest of the finger, so the rupture confined creates pressure and we all know that pressure stops bleeding! So, although I was in pain, I was totally awed by the safety mechanisms designed within our bodies to protect and heal themselves. And, daily I could watch its progress towards recovery.

"A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses." ~ Hippocrates ~

Of course, being right-handed, recuperation time did take its toll on projects at the house. But, I'm pleased to report that the hardwood floors on the 2nd floor are complete. All the interior doors and closet doors are installed and about half the painting is finished. So, soon on to the quarter-round and base shoe molding and the trim around the doors and windows. One more little trip to San Francisco to meet my sister and then the end of January I plan on assembling and installing the kitchen cabinets and countertops. If I finish by February 1st then this project will have taken a year and a month with about four months of vacation time. Not bad for all that needed to be done. :D

"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." ~ Albert Camus ~

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Easy Project

"When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out." ~ David Weatherford ~

Well, now that it's almost winter I figured I'd better get the central air taken care of. At least it will be ready for next year's summer weather. Actually last summer was very mild and one of the coolest on record, so I was lucky. The technician needed to put the condenser on top of the deck as he surmised the previous one burned up because it was tucked under the stairway to the three season porch. Air conditioners need open air from above but I most certainly don't want a side stage view of it on my deck, so I bought a fence panel, cut it into three sections, cut a ten foot four by four post in half, assembled the pieces and voila! Instant air conditioner screen! I spent about $100 on that project. Not bad when preassembled ones can cost $250 or more (depending on size).

"If we all did the things we are capable of doing we would literally astound ourselves." ~ Thomas Edison ~

So grateful to have an easy project for a change! :D

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Outward Embellishments

"Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall at last unveil." ~ John Ruskin ~

When I went to Michigan in August, I hired my brother and sister-in-law to paint the outside of my house and install the new front door. I chose a deep reddish brown with a beige trim around white windows. I hardly expected anyone to notice or make comment, however, in this neighborhood it seems to have made a hit. Neighbors have stopped by with positive comments. Even people driving by when they see me watering the plants outside have stopped to let me know they like how the house looks now. I didn't want to post a photo of the house painted until I had the new garage doors installed and finally this has been accomplished! The final bit is to power wash the deck and stain it which will be finished as of tomorrow.

The inspectors passed me on the insulation I did. I put alot of research into it and because of cost I ended up using three types ... fiberglass, spray foam, and T2000 foam board. Spray foam applied individually turned out to be very messy and required alot more cleanup time than I wanted to put into it. Although it's a good product, I would hire someone to apply this type of insulation than do it myself again. The easiest and least messy were fiberglass and the T2000 foam board.

"Once the 'what' is decided, the 'how' always follows. We must not make the 'how' an excuse for not facing and accepting the 'what'." ~ Pearl S. Buck ~

I had another inspection done for the city code violations I had put money into escrow way back last January. I got a check back for 5/6ths of the amount I put in which I was very happy to sign over to my brother. Predictably, he didn't want to take it saying that he was having fun helping me on my projects,.... but he and I both know that without him (and without his tools) I'd have gone to great difficulty and expense to accomplish half of what we've been able to do together. I've learned so much from him this year, and working with him has been gratifying. He's my safety net. If I hit a wall I know he'll help me figure it out.

"I studied the lives of great men and famous women, and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm and hard work." ~ Harry S. Truman ~

I've been so busy ticking items off my "to do" list. I installed the glass block in both bathrooms (which is way easier than you'd ever imagine). Also, we installed the wood floor in the 1st floor and are working on the 2nd floor. Some interior painting has been started but isn't complete as yet.

So, all is well. I still have alot more to accomplish but I'm happy to finally be working on the outward embellishments instead of the inner workings of the house.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Keep Your Balance

Well, what can I say? I've been so busy and hence ~ tired, it's been difficult to post in my blog. Which, in general, is a good thing (not to have too much time on you
r hands).

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." ~ Albert Einstein ~

In getting ready for the city inspection I've been taking care of details like getting screens for every window, making sure all the windows function properly, even washing them inside and out (although the city isn't concerned about that).

A t
ough one was the crawl space. This space is 35' wide, 3.5' deep and 2.5' high. The before and after photos are posted above. It needed to be dug deeper by 6", covered with 6 ml thick vinyl and walls insulated with a noncombustible foam board. It's a dirty and physically challenging job which I admit to being physically incapable of handling myself and once again, my brother came to the rescue. We removed the dirt from the crawl space and deposited it on the North end of the house to correct the grading problem (the dirt must slant away from the house to provide adequate drainage).

"Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right." ~ Dr. Phil McGraw ~

When the framing was inspected, the inspector made note of the fact that no heat runs were installed in either the powder room on the first floor or the master bath. So, I was remembering how I saved money on the appliances and now I had to spend more on something very important that I had overlooked. It only turned out to be $500.00 so it wasn't too much of a killer. (But I was really sweating it until I got that estimate in.) Another potential pitfall is I can't get the air conditioner running, so I'm getting an estimate on that. Although I would prefer that it be fixed, I can't be so vested in that outcome that I fail to see there are ways around it. If I do need to purchase new central air then it will use up more of the money I had set aside for hired help. It will simply require me to learn new things and do it myself. In the end, that's not such a bad thing after all. ; )

Friday, August 21, 2009

Burned Up With Beauty

"It is better to be happy for a moment and be burned up with beauty than to live a long time and be bored all the while." ~ Don Marquis ~

I took another impromptu trip .... this
time to Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw) in Michigan. The island forbid motor vehicles in 1898, so getting around requires good walking shoes, bikes, renting a horse or taking a carriage ride. Ah! Good old fashioned fresh air free of car exhaust and fragrant with horse manure. ;) Not that I mind because I love horses and leaving a bit of modern life behind. They do an excellent job of cleaning up and I found the pace of life there remarkably tranquil.

It's a nice bike ride around the island. The path is 8.8 miles long (also walkable if you want to make a day of it). Better yet, hire a saddle horse and make the ride around. Horse drawn carriages are also fun to view the flora and fauna from. Arch Rock, the butterfly museum, the Grand Hotel, the Fort, tons of restaurants. shops and hotels to dally in.... yes, you can actually experience what it's like to dally (an antiquated concept in our fast-paced world).

It makes me wonder about our recent ancestors before this explosion of technology. Driving horse-drawn buggies, socializing on the veranda, playing games together, just walking and talking and allowing the moment to grow. Very nice!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rite of Passage

"Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional." ~ Roger Crawford ~

I guess you could call it a rite of passage to have worn out your first pair of leather work gloves. To tell the truth, I never really appreciated their value until this project came along. But, they've been invaluable and have saved me alot of misery as I've found that when I'm without them I end up with blisters, slivers or metal shards causing discomfort. Just carrying a bucket of dirt (and I never knew how heavy dirt is either) is more comfortable with them on. My brother is the one to point out this questionable achievement and since I am still painting the woodwork on my windows I'll indulge my thoughts on my relationship with him...

"The measure of a man is not, 'How did he die?' but 'How did he live?' not 'What did he gain?' but 'What did he give?'" ~ Unknown ~

I'm ten and a half years older than he so I've always taken him under my wing and tried to spend time with him. His nickname as a kid was "Pinwheel" as he was always moving and would just as soon climb up your arm and over you than to go around you (not exactly an endearing feature, but he was a great kid nonetheless :) So, even when I went to college I would try to make it home at least once a month for a weekend with him and who wouldn't for the excitement and obvious affection I appreciated from him. I'd take him bowling or to a movie or a drive, or just spend time with him on his go-cart and later on, his motorcycle. I'm happy to say I was the first to let him drive on the freeway. I took him places with me like to St. Louis and Wisconsin Dells although we never made it to Alaska to fly over the North Pole as we'd been planning. Instead of trading in my old car (very old car), I gave it to him when he was sixteen. That was a no-brainer as the amount my loan would be reduced was next to nothing and he was overjoyed just to have "wheels". So, we've had alot of great memories together. None of which were made with the intention of payback but just because he's such a great guy and fun to be around.

"A great man is he who does not lose his child's heart." ~ Menicus ~

As we are working on the house, we relax and joke around just as if we were kids again. So, we smile and tease each other and do "stupid" things that only siblings have an instinct for. I don't care how old and sophisticated you are... if you let your hair down with family it's as if time stood still. You still can go "back there". And, there's no better remedy for those aches in your soul than a good laugh with a good friend. Create the situations where they can happen and you'll be alot better off for it.