Thursday, September 16, 2010

Basement Office

Doug's office area is shaping up pretty nicely so far. It's a new setup that will hopefully work well for him without taking up too much space. He's got a shiny new black table top that was made out of a door by him, and stained and polyurethaned by me, and he just put up the shelf that we both collaborated on. It's looking good!

Monday, September 13, 2010


People have been gently admonishing me for not keeping this blog going after we moved. To be perfectly honest I had kind of lost my enthusiasm for this project (not that I was ever 100% enthusiastic about it) because of the extreme loss of momentum that occured after we moved back in. There are certain things that must be done before I can fully get my life back to where it should be and I've been very patient for the past five years doing things Doug's way for the most part. Patience is the only way because he will not be rushed.

So I decided to get caught up finally. I've backdated the entries so you can see what's been going on with the house on a month by month basis, going back to April. You'll notice the entries become much less detailed after my initial burst of energy on April's post.

This month it's been all about homemade tables. We don't have any furniture due to a rather unfortunate event and we didn't replace anything because we didn't have room in our rental place and because who knew this whole thing would take so long? I did, but that's another story. At this point I would like to have as little furniture as I can get by with. I hate clutter, although I've certainly learned to live with it.

Anyway, the card table I've been using for a desk all this time was no longer doing it for me, so I decided that maybe I could make something for cheap. I was right, and the best thing about that was that I got Doug to make it for me! It took him about 30 minutes so I didn't need to feel guilty either.

I had in mind a 20 or 22 inch door with legs attached. My dad made my mom a sewing table like that and it seemed pretty simple. The doors only came in 18 or 24 inches and the room is really small so Doug talked me into the 18 inch one. It was not deep enough so he kept it for himself and made me another one that is 24 inches deep and it's perfect! I used Minwax Polyshades, which is stain and polyurethane together in one product and it looks great. So now we have matching desks.

Doug decided that he didn't want to do four legs, so he did just two in front and hung it to the wall in the back. Because this seemed to be becoming a more or less permanent installation I successfully got him to put baseboards and shoe moulding(!!!) on four of the six walls in the office where the desk is. Four done and two to go! In that one room. It looks great and it's given me a chance to conclude that I like painted shoe moulding better than shoe that's been stained to match the floor. That's good because paint grade is cheaper.

Here's my shiny new black table/desk. It's about half the price and four times better looking than anything I could have gotten at Ikea.

He made taller legs for the CD storage unit to accomodate the baseboards. I was so excited that I couldn't wait to put all the drawers back in before I took the picture.

Doug is extremely happy with his 18 x 80 desk and he was thinking about shelves on the wall on either side for his printer and fax machine. I suggested an all in one shelf with a 6 inch deep section spanning the two 14 inch parts on the two sides. He liked that idea a lot so I'll be back down there staining for the next few days, while pushing for the rest of the moving of the shop to happen by the end of the month. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I began the month of August full of enthusiasm at the prospect of Doug getting his shop moved so that we would not have to throw money down the drain for rent anymore. I had good reason to feel hopeful because all of the drywall was finally up.

Doug helped me do some of the taping but I did nearly all of the mudding in this room so that he could do other more lucrative things. I hate this particular activity because it is so incredibly messy, but I enjoy the results when I do a good job, and I have to say that this room ended up looking better, from a drywall finishing standpoint than any other room in the entire house, including the rooms upstairs done by the so-called professionals back in January of last year. I tried to keep it as neat as possible so there was very little sanding to be done after all the coats were on and it had dried.

The real reward came after I primed everything and painted the ceiling. The ceiling/wall intersections were so clean and clear of globs of drywall that it was easy to paint a really clean straight line between the wall and the ceiling. No blue tape was needed. It felt so great to be able to make something look good so easily.

This is really lame, but I chose that yellow because we had some left over, and because it's a nice cheery color that will hopefully put Doug in a productive mood and because it matches the electrical wires. It's also a good background color for his machines. It's called "Surfboard Yellow."

We debated over whether to have the room start out looking as nice as possible or whether to just say it's a work area that will look like crap pretty soon anyway. I always think people do better work in a more pleasant and professional looking environment so we decided to go ahead and get a cushioned floor instead of bare cement and he also installed baseboards. It looks great. Maybe he'll be less messy to keep it looking nice longer. This is the only room in the house that is completely finished. I'm glad we at least have one room that is completely finished!

By the end of the month Doug had gotten all of the big pieces of equipment moved, but nothing else. He's currently doing a major overall on his main machine which hopefully won't take too much longer.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


I welcomed Doug back from his vacation, I mean tour, full of enthusiasm at the prospect of him being well-rested enough to work diligently with the goal of getting his shop moved by the end of the month so that we could finally start throwing less money away on rent.

The room in the basement that will become his shop needed drywall on one wall and the ceiling, plus some remedial work on one of the other walls. I forgot that it always takes him a week or two to get back in gear after a trip of any length. So as of July 20th the ceiling was still not wallboarded. He had to carve away a 2/4 to accomodate all of those wires and provide a place for the wallboard to attach.

And he made a sound deadening box for the heating duct so hopefully we won't hear his machines operating all over the house.

By July 27th he had installed all of the drywall and was preparing to attach a sound deadening second layer of drywall. The Green Glue will created a barrier between the two layers.

Needless to say, we did not get the shop moved by the end of July.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Doug went on vacation, I mean tour, for most of the month of June. Why do I sound so snarky, calling it a vacation? Because when you get to go away somewhere and have more fun and a more relaxing time than you would if you'd stayed home and you make less money than you would have if you'd stayed home, well that sounds awfully vacation-like, doesn't it? I'm also feeling snarky because his vacation caused me to have to turn down 4 months of work for reasons I won't go into again. This was the month that gig would have started. So that's even less money. We're broke so money matters.

Before he left he spent a few days putting the window and baseboard trim up in our bedroom, probably hoping that I would immediately blog about it, telling the world how awesome he is. No such luck, bucko! I needed a little time to simmer down and recover from my bitterness. It does look awesome though.

I might have spent the month of June putting the topcoat on his lovely handiwork so that we could finally move into our real bedroom after four months in this place, but since he didn't put on the shoe moulding yet, it's not finished and I'm not going to paint it until it's all ready to be painted. It won't look right if the painting is done in stages. Sorry.

It really is beautiful. It's frustrating for me to look at it because it's so close, yet so far from being finished.
So instead of painting the trim in our bedroom for the month Doug was away, I painted a couple of large rooms in my parents' house instead. That was very rewarding because it looks good and more importantly the job was started and finished within three weeks. That made me feel really good.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Maybe, Maybe Not

Towards the beginning of May it looked like we might be providing some temporary housing to some friends of ours so Doug started putting in the baseboards and doing the window trim in our bedroom which would enable us to move out of the spare where we'd been staying and into our actual bedroom. I primed the headers and the side pieces. This project got postponed a bit when our housing services weren't needed after all, but all least everything was ready to put together.

Our neighbors planted these lovely azaleas at the edge of our property. It will be really nice to be able to sit on the back porch and enjoy them one of these years.

Our own azaleas have seen better days but they are still fairly photogenic.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I'll Remember April - home at last, and all about our kitchen

April was the very first month that we spent in our new house. It was wonderful in many ways and frustrating in a few others.

The main thing is it feels wonderful to be back. I feel like I belong here and it's a pretty deep feeling. When we used to bring our cat Ted over to show him the progress it was obvious that he knew exactly where he was, even after having been stuck living at the cinderblock chalet for the last 1/6 of his life, even when it was all still under construction. He just knew. I guess I'm the same way. I can feel where I am and I like it a lot. Now I just need to get used to the fanciness of it all.

It's been a little daunting to be living amongst construction materials and having to unpack so much stuff, but our kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, closet, and laundry room are all fully functional and that's what counts. Our yard is the prettiest it's ever been (except for the weeds in the liriope) and the driveways are incredibly convenient.

I really hadn't intended to go this long without doing another post but then I decided that it would be good to put some distance between myself and the frustration I felt in April when all work on the house suddenly ceased, seemingly forever. I accepted that, thinking that maybe the taxes were going to get done at least. Wrong. An extension was filed, setting the stage for the resumption of a deeply ingrained very bad habit. So my ability to go off and do the ship gig that I had been offered for June through November was thwarted once again because I have to stay here to make sure that Doug actually finishes doing the taxes, since otherwise they wouldn't get done. Please don't ask me how I know this. It is very frustrating for me to have to contend with this after years of waiting for our house to be finished so that I can get back to doing what I do. I think it's probably a good idea that I didn't write this at the end of April. You all should feel relieved that I didn't provide an update then, hahaha!

On a brighter note, I had a lot of really enjoyable gigs in April and my hands weren't trashed for a change from working on the house. They felt great in fact. And Doug made a lot of mouthpieces. He was very diligent with the mouthpieces. Diligence is good. I spent my spare time unpacking our clothes and all of the kitchen stuff and figuring out what the issue was with our new washing machine. Finally I discovered that the installers had neglected to remove something that should have been part of the installation process and after I got Doug to believe me and take the thing off it worked fine.

It is absolutely wonderful to have the laundry just steps away from where we keep all of our clothes. It's so easy to just fold everything and put it away immediately so there's never more than just a tiny bit of clothing clutter in between loads. It's incredibly convenient. This aspect of the floorplan had been in place since the original planning of our addition, now house, and I went through more than ten years doing without a washer and dryer in my house as part of that original situation. So I really appreciate what I have now. I am so happy that I don't have to go to the laundromat anymore and instead have this super convenient setup!

I'm really kind of glad they initially sent the wrong size cabinet for our kitchen. Look where it ended up! It's been pretty easy to hide the clutter in our closet, so far.

The one thing I didn't like about our old house from the time we bought it was that it didn't have a dishwasher. Being the spoiled brat that I am, I'd never NOT had a dishwasher until we bought our house just before we got married. Doug said "That's okay, I'll do the dishes, you won't ever have to do them" and I said "That's great! - I'll mow the grass instead!" Washing the dishes is a horrible activity for bass players' calluses.

So Doug did the dishes and I mowed the grass. It was never a satifactory situation. Our old kitchen was rather dysfunctional, to put it mildly. I pretty much could only bring myself to use it after spending a day cleaning it up when he was out of town. That's pretty dysfunctional if you ask me. I always thought if only we had a dishwasher, things wouldn't get so out of hand.

Our new kitchen is the opposite of our old kitchen. There's more than enough counter and storage space. We have a beautiful refrigerator, a stove where all four burners work, an oven that works, two sinks so that I can have a clean one, and even two microwaves which I really didn't see the need for, but Doug did. It seems excessive to me, but so do a lot of things. But it's really nice to have the two sinks.

And I finally have a dishwasher, but it is not the dishwasher of my dreams unfortunately. I had a dishwasher all picked out - a completely normal one that had gotten great reviews. But then Doug saw those newfangled double drawer dishwashers and went nuts over them. (I should mention here that he's never had a dishwasher in his life except maybe once in a group house where he lived for a year. He doesn't care about dishwashers and was scornful of my desire for one.) I don't know how this happened but all of a sudden we ended up getting a two drawer dishwasher, probably because I'm so open-minded and easy going. This kind of thing always happens when I'm trying to buy something and Doug is along.

So the beautiful new dishwasher was sitting there all installed and ready to use for nearly a year and a half before we finally moved in. When I first went to use it, I was mildly disturbed by how inconvenient it seemed, but at the same time I was completely distracted by how incredibly clean and shiny and new all our old stuff looked after having been washed in this thing. Especially Doug's tupperware collection and the flatware - so shiny! And sterilized too!

But the more I used it the more I hated it. The drawers are incredibly awkward and they don't hold tall things. They actually don't hold much at all. Part of the sales ploy was that it is energy efficient because you can do a smaller load without it being as wasteful. But the unit is actually two complete dishwashers so if you have a normal amount of dishes to wash, how is that saving energy when you're running two dishwashers instead of one? And the two of them together don't hold as much stuff as one normal dishwasher. The bottom drawer holds even less than the top one. You can't wash a medium sized platter in either one of them. I want a normal dishwasher, dammit!

Now I've finally gotten used to this dishwasher so it doesn't bug me nearly as much. I guess you could even say I've accepted it. But the next one is going to be a normal one, that's for sure. Unfortunately this dishwasher is actually two small ones so I'm probably going to have to wait for both of them to stop working before I can get a new one. And we'll probably still be too broke. I should have held my ground.

I LOVE my sink! It's huge and deep and so easy to rinse dishes in and to keep clean. I also love the pull down nozzle on the faucet. I'm so glad I got the one I wanted. An added bonus is that it's so deep that you can't see any unwashed dishes that happen to be sitting in there.

Doug does not like the refrigerator because with one of the doors you can't just casually give it a little nudge and expect it to necessarily close all the way, especially when it has a gallon of milk in the door shelf. You have to close it a little harder and then double check to make sure that it's closed all the way. I think it's the need for double checking that he doesn't like. I just keep my hand on it until it's shut.

For the first several days I was awakened every single morning, shortly after Doug left the house, by the beeping of the refrigerator door alarm. One time early on we went somewhere for the day and came home to discover that the refrigerator door had apparently been beeping all day. When the door is open the light stays on and the temperature thingy said that the inside of the refrigerator had heated up to 103 degrees during the eight or so hours we were gone. Fortunately we didn't have much food in there. That must have made a lasting impression because it's only happened twice since then and we were here both times. I'm really glad it has that alarm, even though it wakes me up sometimes.

One of Doug's more innovative ideas was that we should have a little five gallon water heaters on each of the two upper floors in addition to the big one in the basement. This is another thing that happened because I'm so easygoing. Doug really likes having hot water come out almost immediately. Except that in the kitchen it's only slightly hotter than lukewarm. I guess it needs to be adjusted. I'm especially glad now that we have a dishwasher, I mean two dishwashers, that will sterilize the dishes because the tap water temperature doesn't cut the grease very well.

Last fall I was thinking about solutions to the crown moulding fail at the tops of the cabinets. While Doug was away I made a bunch of sample alternatives. Thanks to all of you who participated in my survey. The least fancy one turned out to be the winner.

I went ahead and prepared all of the moulding so that one day we can just put it all up. It has been languishing up there on top of the cabinets above Doug's sink for five months so far. Maybe one day he will look up and realize how happy I would be if they were installed.

We have so much counterspace that the kitchen became the place to do the weekly sorting of charts for our Monday night gig. Now that we're on temporary hiatus, the boxes are still there and they're not even in the way.

I guess that's most of the details about our kitchen. I'll post some pictures after we install the rest of the moulding and the quarter round, and after I get all of those boxes of music off the counter.

In the rest of the house I've postponed alot of the unpacking because I thought it might be best to wait until the baseboards and shoe moulding were installed before I got too far along with loading up the bookcases and then having to move them again to finish the baseboards. Maybe instead I'll just get rid of all that stuff since it apparently isn't really needed for day to day life.

So that just about sums up April. In spite of a few annoying quirks that will be worked out eventually, we are both incredibly happy to finally be back in our beautiful new semi-finished house!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We've Moved!

It was really tough to change gears and switch from working on our house, to cleaning it up so that it would be liveable in its still-under-construction state, to packing up all of our stuff to bring over, but we finally did it.

We got started on Wednesday March 31st, naively thinking we could do it ourselves in only one day. On Thursday my parents came with their pickup truck and that was a huge help. On Friday we finished getting everything out and we also finished all of the cleaning, which we'd sort of been doing as we packed. I must say we left the place looking pretty immaculate. We cleaned EVERYTHING and got it all completely spotless. It was kind of gratifying to know that it would stay that way for at least a few days until the next tenants move in.

So now we've been back in our house for a few nights and it feels wonderful in many ways. There is still a lot of unpacking to do and there are a few kinks to work out with all of the new appliances and plumbing fixtures, but it feels so nice to be back on our own property and our quality of sleep has improved dramatically now that we aren't sharing a bedroom wall with a noisy furnace anymore. Doug and I have both been totally sleep deprived for five years because of that furnace in our rental house, not to mention all of the hot dusty wind that blew through the house every single time it came on.

But I am grateful that we had a place to stay, and a nice landlord, and this beautiful tulip magnolia tree which has been the highlight of every spring for the past five years. This tree is what I will miss the most - I'm going to have to come back and visit it every year.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Piano Room

This past Tuesday was moving day for the piano, so guess what we were doing Monday night after our gig? Why putting in baseboards, of course!

Our two recent priorities have been the closet mentioned in the previous post, and the baseboards behind the piano. The closet needed to be done so that there wouldn't be any more construction dust happening where we keep our clothes because that would be really kind of bad. I still have a small amount of painting to do in there that I wasn't able to get to before, but at least that's not a dusty activity. It would have been bad to get the piano in there with unfinished baseboards behind it, so that became the next emergency job to quickly get done.

Doug also trimmed out the window behind the piano. This is the second one he's done - isn't it cute?

So Monday night after our gig we went over there and while Doug was putting in the trim in the piano room, I finished caulking spackling and painting the closet. After he caulked the window and the baseboards in the piano room, he went home - it was like 6am or something - and I stayed on to finish the painting. I got it all done in the nick of time - about two hours before the 10:00 appointment on Tuesday morning.

The piano movers did a great job and I finally was able to go to bed by 1:30 that afternoon. I got up at 8:30 pm and was totally jetlagged for days afterwards.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Our Walk In Closet

When we were first planning the addition that eventually became what is now our house, the size of it was based on how much room Doug needed in his basement. The main floor was going to be a big music room for me that could double as a small performance space. The upstairs had plenty of room for everything we could possibly want to have up there, including a separate walk-in closet.

I hadn't really given a whole lot of thought to it other than making sure it was big enough to be flexible, and accomodate a window. I figured I'd see how it looked after the wallboard was on and take it from there.

So the plan was to have it sort of evolve, and evolve it did. When we discovered that one of our kitchen cabinet sections was taller than what we had ordered, they sent a replacement and said we should just keep the other one because they had no use for it.

After staring at it for several months it finally dawned on me to use it as a divider in our closet and either get or build some kind of unit to put underneath it. I discovered that there was a Hemnes chest of drawers from Ikea that was exactly the right size and it was nice and cheap so we bought it.

Here's a more detailed shot of the rod and the trim. We used upside down baseboard material leftover from the kitchen and the crown moulding that Doug had ordered that didn't end up working in the kitchen. It looks really nice here - it's too bad we didn't think about the shadows when we installed our recessed lights. Oh well, we can use this moulding elsewhere.

The top surface of the inexpensive dresser seemed a little delicate, shall we say, and prone to scratching easily, so I decided to toughen it up with several coats of polyurethane. It looks a million times better and makes the dresser look much fancier than it is. I sure hope it holds up.

After Doug saw how good those plain old doors in the downstairs hall closet looked after I added moulding to them, he practically ordered me to do the same thing to the doors in our closet. Here's the before picture:

And here are the doors after the moulding and painting and trim. You can also see the very first window that Doug trimmed out. We decided that the closet window was the best one to practice on. I'm very happy with how it turned out. Doug did not try to alter my size specifications and it looks exactly the way I pictured it would - awesome!

Notice also those handsome baseboards - Doug decided that he wanted tall ones they also more easily accomodate his floor heat junction boxes.

So except for the shoe moulding or quarter round at the very bottom, this room is completely finished now. It is even more finished than the kitchen which is still waiting for its moulding around the tops of the cabinets.

The thing I like most about our closet configuration is that we won't be tripping over each other because our sections are so well divided by that big cabinet in the middle. I think we are going to really enjoy the accessibility of those two levels of rods and it will be nice to be able to keep the stuff we wear less often inside the closet within the closet. I'm very happy with how this room turned out and also with how colorful it is - that's another thing that just sort of evolved.

Monday, March 22, 2010

spurts of work and stops and starts

The February snows really did a number on us, so there was no way that we could get all the work done we were hoping to get done by the end of the month. It took forever to dig out of the Cinderblock Chalet and even longer to dig our way into the FoamCoreFantasy in order to continue the work.

We picked up a gig at the beginning of March that turned into a weekly thing and Doug really really really wanted to have a rehearsal in his not-yet-finished basement studio, so that became the priority, which meant that the work we needed to do upstairs in order to move in by the end of February was not going to happen in time.

So we finished that section of the basement, had our rehearsal and then stopped working on the house for a while - so what else is new? I guess we were saving our strength as usual for the big last minute push to the end. Apparently slow and steady is not an acceptable way to pace the activities. There must be dramatic surges and enormous bursts of last minute energy.

Notice that paint job around the edge of the ceiling - that's proof right there that I didn't paint that bathroom. But I will be fixing this situation as soon as I have a chance! I'm glad Doug likes that purplish blue for his studio. It's kind of dark, but it works okay because he's got such excellent lighting down there and there's lots of white coming from the ceiling and there will be even more from the eventual bookcases.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Back on Track

I think we were both kind of burned out for a few days from all the preparations for the inspection but we are now back in productive mode.

On Wednesday we did the final pre-mudding preparations for Doug's office, studio, and buffing area. While Doug finished putting up a few last minute bits of drywall, I removed all of the switch plates and heating grills that had been installed last week for the sake of the inspection. We both took down the lights. I put down plastic on the floor and pink protective paper on the steps. I also covered the banister and newel post with plastic so that I won't have to scrape drywall mud off of them later. Then we got all of the straight seams taped.

Last night was an inside corner taping marathon. I'm so glad we did the garage first so that we could get some of the techniques down. That was a good room to start with because it was just a big square room with a bump out in one corner. Last night we did all of the inside corners for a stairwell, under the stairwell, the main room, and the buffing room. It was a huge job. Every wall to ceiling intersection and most of the wall to wall vertical intersections are inside corners, in addition to the slanted ceilings and all the other little shapes Doug had added. Inside corners take at least twice as long because you have to mud two wall surfaces before putting the tape on instead of doing one long strip the way the other seams are.

Since we had gotten started so late (9pm - where did the day go?) we ended up working until 7:30 this morning. Doug kept wanting to quit - we were both pretty tired, but since we came in one car for a change, I was able to crack the whip and say "We are not leaving until we are finished!" That seems like kind of a mean thing to say to an exhausted person at 5:30 in the morning, but we did finish and today we took the day off so that first coat can dry. It was well worth it.

We've got two skim coats left and they should go much faster. And then finally I'll be able to paint that damn room and we'll only have one left - his shop, and that's going to be an easy one.

Doug's studio will be this color - Big Sur Blue. It's kind of dark, but there will be lots of white and there's also lots of good lighting so it should be fine. Look at those nice shiny freshly painted white cinderblock walls!

No drywall mud or paint will get on these light fixtures if I can help it! This prep stuff is really boring work so it's a good thing I know how to amuse myself. Doug had several colors of leftover paint to choose from for his shop bathroom - yellow, green, aqua - but he chose pink. I tried to talk him out of it but obviously I was unsuccessful. That tank over the toilet is his central vacuum unit which he decided to locate there for some reason or other. So all of the dirt and dust from all over the entire house will empty into the can over the can.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

All the latest news

So here's what's new in Foamcore Fantasyland:
The electricians are completely finished. Last week they finished installing the rest of the lighting in the basement and outside, putting plates over all of the switches and outlets and did some final hookups.

The HVAC people came and installed a gigantic unit outside, attached all of the vent covers, put in the thermostats, and turned on the heat. They said they needed to come back after twelve hours to adjust the compression in the refrigerant or something like that and we haven't seen them since which unfortunately is not all that surprising. I just hope they aren't trying to void our warranty or something.

The heat feels great. It kind of oozes gently out of the ceiling instead of blowing huge amounts of dusty cough-inducing air in your face the way the heating system at the Cinderblock Chalet does.

Speaking of heat, Doug has not finished hooking up his floor heat yet. I don't know if it even works. Not that we really need it.

I spent the better part of two days putting plate covers over all of the floor heat outlets and the media outlets for all of the TVs and computers that we might be able to afford ten years from now. This was for the inspection. Those covers will have to come off and be put back on again when we do the baseboards, so that activity felt like a very fulfilling way to spend a couple of days. At least I wasn't on my feet for twelve hours straight. I still think it's a lot more fun to paint cinderblock.

Last Thursday an amazing miracle happened. The ever-hopeful Doug had decided that since we didn't have enough money to renew our building permit when it expired the next day, we should go ahead and schedule the final inspection even though we didn't have everything finished. Boy is he smart! I didn't want to inconvenience the inspector and make him mad for having to flunk a house that is obviously not ready to be inhabited. I thought we should just suck it up and renew the permit the way we had to do last year.

Anyway I never get my way, so the inspector came and the first thing he said to me was "I can't pass a house that doesn't have all of its gutters." I thought "Yaay, finally Doug will be forced to put up the gutters!" We haven't had gutters in the front of our house for over three years and there's a big gully next to the house and a huge area of mud on the low point of the driveway. It's awful. Doug has been insisting to anyone who will listen that gutters are not required and he has refused to put them up as part of finishing the outside of the house. So now he will be putting them up in February instead of last summer or the summer before. And I, of course, will undoubtedly be helping him. Isn't that great? But at least it will finally be done. Normal people have gutters on their house. Is it so unreasonable for me to want that too?

So the inspector has definitely endeared himself to me on this point already and then he started looking around the rest of the house. All of the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC appear to be finished and the house looks really good except for not having any baseboards and door and window trim. By that time Doug has shown up. I think the inspector felt sorry for us, or me maybe, and he decided to go ahead and finalize it, because we are obviously struggling to get it finished. But we have to call him again in three weeks so that he can make sure that things (like the gutters)have progressed properly.

So we can start moving back in as soon as certain things are finished. We are going to completely finish one room at a time, starting with our bedroom, as soon as we finish the basement. No more flitting around from one project to the next. We can start living there as soon as the kitchen is completely finished, including the mouldings on top of the cabinets. We can stop paying rent at the Cinderblock Chalet as soon as the floor heat has been on for a couple weeks and the baseboards are installed in the piano room.

So this is all potentially very exciting, but I'm not holding my breath. Except when I'm sanding drywall. Already the pace of work has slowed down a bit, in spite of the fact that Doug has announced our upcoming move to our landlord. I hope the landlord has gotten to know Doug well enough by now to know what he might actually mean when he says "by the end of the month." I think two months is more realistic. Anyway, wish us luck!

Monday, January 25, 2010

I've been clean for 41 hours!!!

Due to some playing engagements this weekend, that is exactly how long it's been since the last time I got dirty - and it feels great! I feel like an actual human being for a change. I hate getting dirty and anyone who thinks I've enjoyed the activities of the past three and a half years has definitely gotten the wrong impression. I'm looking at this period of non-dirty activities as a preview of my life in the not-too-distant future. No more day in and day out of dirt and dust and gross clothes for me anymore. A return to civilized living is finally in the works!

But now I've got on my freshly laundered work clothes and I'll be heading back over there to get back to work this evening. It was nice while it lasted.

This past week we've been putting in 14 and 16 hour days that often went until 5am. But I guess it was worth it because we got a lot done. Doug put in a sensor so that the lights will automatically come on when he gets near the door and also every time a deer walks by. He shouldn't have any trouble finding his key from now on. He also installed the door trim both inside and out. It looks really nice. And he installed all of his fluorescent light fixtures which took him a really long time for some reason.

While he was doing all of that, I finished up with the painting. I had some leftover paint from the ceiling of the back porch which I used to make the garage less drab and industrial looking. So the RL Faded Seafoam color is now in the basement too. I think it looks pretty pleasant for a garage.

We used some nasty stuff called UGL to fill in some of the texture of the cinderblock walls, but unbeknownst to us it has sand in it so although it's a bit smoother, it still has a finely textured roughness to it. It's kind of like stucco or something. I'd like to go over it with some semigloss, but that's going to have to wait a bit.

A couple of days after I'd finished beautifying his garage, Doug asked me if there was some reason he should know about regarding why I had gone to so much trouble to make his garage look nice. He wanted to know if I had any future plans and had the nerve to imply that I had made it look so good because I was entertaining the notion of eventually using the garage for my own purposes. He wanted to know what my "plans" were. He's so suspicious! I replied truthfully that I had just painted it that way so I wouldn't be as grossed out if and when I ever had to walk through there. I've already taken the farewell photo of the one and only time my car will ever be able to fit in there. It's his garage, I swear!

He's got all of his junk moved back in now and even with all that stuff in there it looks a million times better than it did before.

Doug's been putting up drywall in the basement all day while I was having fun playing music. He's pooped now.

I'm going over to get the piano room ready for the flooring which I will install tomorrow. Doug left a bunch of "Good Stuff" foam oozing out of all of the edges of the sub floor. I need to scrape that off and move all of the wood and everything else out of there, and re-install the floor heat mat. I think that's probably just a few hours of work.

I'm very eager for Doug to finish the drywall in the basement - the final two rooms in our entire house - so that we can do the mudding and taping. I can't wait to paint it! I've got some cool colors picked out!

Also, the plumber has finished all of his work and we now apparently have hot water, which I didn't notice the past four times I washed the paintbrushes because I'm so used to not having it that it didn't even occur to me to turn it on, especially since I was not informed right away about this exciting new development.

The electrician is coming on Tuesday to finish, and supposedly the HVAC guy will be here then too. It will be interesting to have an actual heating system hooked up, although with our insulation the two space heaters and one kerosene heater have been doing just fine.

I guess we'll need more heat to stay warm when we get finished overexerting ourselves in another few weeks.

Oh, and today when I stopped in there for a minute on the way home from my concert, I accidentally said to him "Hey, my garage still looks good even with all your stuff moved back in there." Oops!

Monday, January 18, 2010

just like papier mache

After we got up all of the drywall in the garage (Doug did most of this but I helped him lift all of the sheets onto the drywall lift), it was time to begin the finish work.

The first step is to mud each seam and then apply the tape. The drywall mud is this gloopy white paste that is about the consistency of mashed potatoes. Doug would slop it onto the seam while I measured and cut the drywall tape and wet it in a bucket of water to get it ready to put on. We had to coordinate closely to get this done quickly and properly since we hadn't ever taped the seams in an entire room before. It's tricky working up on the ceiling.

After the paper tape was dampened, I would hold it in place while Doug smoothed it and the mud out with a taping knife which is basically a five inch wide spatula. All those lines you see there on the ceiling are the seams where the sheets of drywall intersect.

The next day I went over and mudded the screws, which was a pretty easy job considering how many screws there were. All of those polka dots are where the screws are.

After the seams were dry, I scrapped all of the excess dried chunks off of the edges of the seams and then Doug did a second smoother coat and he did another coat over all of the screws as well.

Today I went over to do more scraping but the mud wasn't all the way dry, so I didn't do it after all. I looked at Doug's second coat and decided that once it was dry it would be good enough for a garage, so I'll just go straight to sanding it, hopefully tomorrow.

So today, instead of sanding and doing another coat of drywall mud, we painted the cinderblock walls on the inside of the garage. That was a pretty vigorous activity due to the rough texture of the walls. Tomorrow we'll put a second coat of paint on the cinderblock and sand and prime the ceiling and the walls that are drywall.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Two More Projects

Last year around this time, I installed all of the insulation in the upstairs walls (for soundproofing purposes). It was an absolutely miserable experience and so when it came time to put fiberglass in the basement, I did everything in my power (and succeeded!) to not get stuck working with it again. That stuff is horrible. It gets in your hair, all over your clothes, and last year it did weird abrasive things to the skin on my hands that took months to go away. I get it got ground in or something. Anyway, I don't want to touch the stuff. Ever again.

So I came up with some things to do instead, like finishing the closets in the spare bedroom. This is a very weird closet configuration that I came up with as a by product of a change we made to the stairwell and it will work great for our purposes. There are actually four compartments in this closet, two of which you can't see. I'll spare you the details. Anyway, I put the flooring in the two elevated sections and got Doug to do a little finish work so that I could finish painting it. It seems that one of my big thrills in life is painting the closet walls a different color than the walls in the room. In this case they are the same color as the hallway just outside the room.

Here's a closeup of the flooring I put in this section of the closet. I wish I could have done all of the other rooms that quickly.

When I was at the antique store buying the leaded glass windows for the kitchen, what I had really been looking for was a transom sized window to go over the door of the pink bathroom. Casually looking, since I didn't have the measurements with me. But I did have Doug with me, and in his usual manner he suggested that I buy this window anyway because it might work and if it didn't we could use it elsewhere.

So I used some of my fiberglass avoidance time to clean up all of the paint spatters and to sand off most of the gunky old paint. The frame was a little lopsided so I got Doug to make a piece that I could glue and nail onto the top.

Then I got the brilliant notion to use some of the reject crown moulding from the kitchen to go on the very top. I cut the pieces and glued them together and Doug attached them together more firmly with his finish nailer.

See how thrifty I am? I reused the blue tape from the kitchen windows. I decided to paint the frame the same color as the kitchen windows since that had worked out so well against the yellow walls.

It looks okay in this picture, but in stairwell where it's going to hang, the color didn't look as good for some reason I think the northern lighting in the window kind of washes it out. So I repainted it the same color as the back door and the hall closet. They are nearby so it kind of ties in.

The color combination of deep aqua blue against the pale creamy yellow has really started to permeate my house. It's spread from the kitchen out into the back hall, and now it's in the stairwell too. I'm not going to let it come too far upstairs though. Enough is enough already!