Saturday, January 15, 2005

Stairs Of Death. Covered.

Currently we are on hiatus from the closet project, while the little one naps. Scott is filling his time by chopping wood for our rather chilly house (no snow yet) and I have been going in and out, up and down, moving things so construction can continue upon the offspring's awakening.

One of the problems with our house is the STAIRS OF DEATH. Yeah. Their spiral, and they aren't bolted to the wall, evenly spaced, or up to code. Meaning our ambitious young crawler can stick his head right through the railings and tumble to his death. We have done a couple of things to remedy that, including attaching our fire screens to the railings to keep him out.

Now we have a new problem. Heat. The cold air from the basement creates cold air currents in our house. So the hot air is hard to find unless you are standing in the woodstove. And that can be uncomfortable, even for bad girls like me.

So this is the solution.

Stairs of death Posted by Hello

It isn't pretty, but the multiple blankets seem to be keeping the frigid air in the basement. Of course this means laundry has to be taken out the front door, and in the basement door, which is a bummer. But the house is warmer for now.

I hear the little guy....hiatus over.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Frac Sleeps in the Wood Bin; The kitties have learned that the two empty copper boilers by the stove are usually the warmest place in the room and a safe haven from marauding droolers, although them sleeping in the wood bin makes me wonder how many thermal units there are in a six pound cat, hmm..

The Offending Beach Towel...

One week's worth of home heat if we don't push it. This is the product of three hour's work in the shed. Thats about 12 hours a month for a savings of about $150 - $200 a month in heating costs. At our current income levels thats 12 hours I'll spend sawing instead of blogging.

Some previous denizen of Clark Creek House left this No-Seep No. 3 kit in the tool shed, balanced on a rafter. Its like Providence didn't want our throne leaking. I didn't have to use the included johnny bolts because I neglected to ever shear off the first set. I just sort of primped up the previous wax and plopped down ring number three on top of the other two. About one ring's worth squished out the sides when I bolted her down, so I guess I'm holding steady at two rings worth of wax.

Here is the potty shortly after I drained it, unscrewed it from the water line and unbolted it. The wax you see is two rings worth that I put down two years ago.

Jonah; relaxing in the front room by the woodstove.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Well That Wasn't So Bad

I hope that someone out there who hasn't ever unbolted the toilet from their floor and replaced the wax seal will read this and learn how easy it was - twenty minutes tops.

Originally, one of my two "johnny bolts" wasn't catching in the "closet collar" which I think is the proper term for the plastic collar around the drain pipe leadind down into the floor. The johnny bolts stick up and allow you to bolt the toilet down onto the collar. With the assistance of a wax ring and a a rubber gasket, this bolting down makes for a hopefully water and gas tight seal.

Anyway, it turns out that all I had to do was unbolt the john, stick another was seal down. The bolts were imobilized by the first batch of wax and much easier for me to get a hold of and bolt down. I bolted the toilet down much more firmly than I did the first time. All that remains today is to cut off the bolt ends and grout the line between the toilet and tile - easy stuff.

Chainsaw Gets Clark Creek Seal of Approval

Well, the electric chainsaw idea had a lot of potential for being a waste of money turns out not to have been. In three hours yesterday, I cut, split, and hauled enough wood to last us for probably a week of continuous burning. The new saw isn't quite as powerful as my gas one but isn't as noisy or polluting by half and I was able to use it in the enclosed space quite comfortably.

Left my camera cable as work, so no pics for now.

Friday, January 07, 2005

My wife is twice the blogger I'll ever be.

Christmas Comes a Little Late

Today was another looong day at work - fun but taxing. We were pulling A/V cable in the new building and I got to climb around on little cat walks between ducts, so theres something you frequently see on T.V. but never do, that I got to actually do.

After work, without having had a lunch break, with low blood sugar, and with all the other stuff at work, I was feeling pretty surly until I got to the post office and discovered that my treat had arrived. With a gift card we got for Christmas and a little credit card infusion, I ordered a 3.25 horsepower, 16" bar electronic chainsaw. I was happy today to take it out of the box and find what looks like a fairly well made model with a good oiling system and a robust looking cowling around the engine.

I should explain that we live in a semi-rural part of the Pacific Northwest. In our mild and moist climate conifers almost explode from the soil like popcorn and do a little dance as they zip skyward. Wood fuel is literally falling down around our ears. Last winter we ran the baseboard heat all the time - hoping not to kill our newborne child. This past summer and fall I cut between 8 and 10 cords of wood* (the next door neighbor cut 8 acres of commercial timber and let me get at the scrap) and we, with blood, sweat and tears, managed to get the woodstove installed. Our power bill for last November was $350, and was $47 this year so you can see why I get a little loopy when a wild cherry goes down up the road.

The property came with a delapidated pole metal building that is about 2000 sq. feet. Last summer I about filled it with 5' lengths of fir and alder that I imagined I would spend my copious free time lopping up this winter. I did all the small stuff on my table saw over Christmas break and have been anticipating the arrival of the electric chainsaw for the stuff thicker than your average bicep. I like my gas saw well enough (a husky woodsman 445 with a 20" bar). Its got good power, doesn't overheat, has a deep enough bar to buck up anything that isn't so wide I'd have to split the rounds on the spot, and is light enougth to get around, but I thought an electric saw would be quieter and more fuel efficient for work inside the shed.

So I've got my braces built, my saws oiled and sharpened. Theres a fresh can of gas and oil ready to go. Tomorrow I'll don eyes, ears, boots, mask, and my navy blue surplus coveralls with the logo "Ocean Queen" stitched on the left breast and get to sawing. Theres BTUs to be had.


*A cord of wood usually refers to a stack of split wood that is 4'x4'x8'. A "face cord" or a "rick" is usually a half-cord. Around here is is not uncommon to see a guy sitting in the Safeway parking lot with a Nissan or Ford Ranger backed up to face the highway with a cord of wood for sale. The invariably spray painted sign in plywood will range from 75$ to 225$ depending on the type, age, legality and season of the wood for sale. You can get load of mill ends (about two front end loaders full, or a face cord) dumped into your own pickup truck for about $100 at the local stud mill but it burns hot and fast usually.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

January 6th

The more I thought about it today, the more I think Mike and Kasmira are right. If you wait until you have something worthy to say on the topic of home improvement for your blog of that theme, you'll likely have long stretches of inactivity during which potentially loyal readers will lose interest (unless of course you currently have a house that is gutted and finally getting sheetrock).

I guess I find the most enjoyment in the habit of settling down to read my four or five daily blogs to get a little update on how the people who write them are getting along and maybe get another little window into theirs lives - sort of like those little christmas calendars with the little doors that open, except without the chocolate and hopefully available year round.

So I've decided to loosen up a little and post more often and more frivolously. If what I write in boring and mundane, so be it. Its not required reading.

In addition to still getting over the crud, I've been effectively paralyzed this past week by work. My job is to help faculty members at the community college where I work use technology - thats about as narrow as my job description gets. Don't call me if you're computer needs to be repaired, but please do call me if you want help doing something in particular with it. I do web design, print layout, databases and spreadsheets. I even get to help start blogs (yah!). I also get to research, help purchase and test new technology - which is also sort of like Christmas all year round. Part of my job is to administrate the college's online course management system (called Angel). This is a tool designed to facilitate online, distance education but is also used by classroom instructors to augment face-to-face learning. This is our third quarter with Angel. Summer quarter we got the servers all set up and I attended training. We had one faculty member post his grades and some assignments to the system that quarter with about 80 students using it. Fall quarter we had about 200 students in six or seven courses. This week, the faculty all came back on Monday - many of them full of new ideas and questions after their winter season recharge. On Tuesday the students all came back. After summer or winter break I usually spend a day or two walking around the campuse thinking, "who are all these young people? Why are they hanging around my job site." Then it occurs to me that we are after all a college. By the time I went home tonight, we had 820 active student accounts in Angel. I get an email about once every four minutes from a student or instructor - mostly about lost passwords, error causing cookie settins, or the 'How do I...' questions. Its fun, but doesn't leave much time for blogging.

So, happy New Year to everybody. Hope your toilets all flush and your homes are improving.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

I'm Stupid

I haven't posted to my blog since Christmas, when all the Clark Creek Dennis clan climbed into the car and headed up to Seattle for a day with the family. Thomas, or 'little disease vector' as we like to call him, brought along a few million friends and by the time we got home that night we were all sick. So instead of grandiose home improvement activity and amazing blog posts, the break mostly was spent on sniffles, hacks, and warm cups of tea.

Ever wondered who the makers of the "I'm with stoopid" teeshirts were referring to? Ponder no longer. Three years ago, we converted the dining room to a master bedroom and changed the attached laundry to the master bath. We hired a contractor to do the parts we didn't feel confident about, like building the frame for the tub and taping the drywall. We did quite a bit of the work ourselves and it was, in general, an empowering and rewarding experience - my first major home project.

There is a bracket around the edge of sewer pipe. It is designed so that you tuck the bolts that come with your toilet into the bracket, set the toilet down over the bolts and cinch it tight. There is a sort of inverted porcelain cone that you set on a ring of wax that sits over the pipe. The wax is supposed to squish out and fill in all the cracks when you cinch everything tight.

When I went to put my toilet together, one of the bolts kept falling down into the pipe bracket and after about 45 minutes of frustration I just doubled up one the wax rings and only bolted it down on the one side. Since then I've been aware, when alighting, that the throne was a wee bit wobbily. The other day, I went in there to find the thinnest trickle emanating from the base. My wax dam is crumbling. The half measure didn't make it by half. I now know what I'm doing this Saturday. Lesson learned.