my many vices

tools2 One of the sideprojects I had going on this summer..while I was fixing stuff around the house, I was slowly bringing all my tools and some of the tool bench UP from the basement. The basement isn’t ‘ready’ for any sort of a workshop…neither is the porch, but the porch won’t spontaneously flood every spring…I have my eye on a sump pump to deal with that little problem… aside from that, it’s generally very cool down there and damp, neither are my favorite environments for working.   I have had a poor little box fan running down there since last March. There’s also no boiler or  water heater to keep the place warm and dry…and like the rest of the house, the basement needs to be insulated.  So I dragged everything upstairs a little at a time…including all the as yet still packed Roughneck tubs o’tools…one aspect of my life that never gets decluttered….it just grows and unless something breaks, everything gets kept..because ‘one day i could need it.’

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NEARLY all the plans I had made for the house have been changed since day one. My workshop is now on the porch, the bed is in the office, the office is well..nowhere right now.. and i still have nearly all my lot of boxes of books and dvds in storage on the second floor. I don’t see any more room for bookcases on the 1st floor..not without sacrificing open walls and floor space, anyway. I had envisioned more bookcases space on the 2nd floor when it finally gets paneled..fingers are still crossed for that.

Today I finally mounted a couple of pieces of pegboard on the side of the house on the porch..I will still keep my most used tools in their bucket for portability,  but it gives me a place to put the lesser used items..like the giant pipe wrench….and the really big rubber convincer….I have moved all the ‘fixit’ stuff out there too…all the adhesives, sandpaper and steelwool and screws and nails… and paint.. a seasonal chore will be to move all the things that would not enjoy the deep freeze into the cellar stairwell..wait a minute..i think that’s where i was supposed to put the smaller piece of pegboard…oh damn…

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To be honest the porch is where I make all my messes….where I sloshed paint around and make big piles of saw dust, the cats make their messes out there too.   If the porch is going to be a work area than its insulation just moved from the bottom of the to do list to the middle. It gets a little COLD out there, last winter I measured it below zero…basically it is the same temperature as whatever it is outside.   Adding more insulation to the second floor is higher up on the list that the porch since the porch isn’t a heated area, unlike the house itself..i also need to insulation to the places in the basement where the snow ACTUALLY comes inside.

I decided priority of tasks depends on how much money it costs to delay doing it. While fucking around organizing all the tools on the porch was important… fixing the loose grout in the shower is the thing at the top. When there’s something on the top of my list that I dread doing, I suddenly find myself organizing tools and washing window sills, trying to avoid tackling it. The makework i have ahead of the grout right now are organizing the attic, and reorganizing all the crap in the living room because the cat door to the porch is blocked by the new tall hutch and i need to move it. If it wasn’t such a pressing issue, i could find a hundred things to do to avoid anyone ONE thing on my list..i am a champion rationalizer..and procrastinator…i’m good at that too.

showerless

2015-09-21 16.20.18 I have lists of shit that i’d like to fix in the house… the way i see it, the list is my servant, i put things on, i take things off, i move them around, i do the ones i want to do, the ones i can afford to do, the ones i can’t afford to do, I either work up to them a little at a time, acquiring the materials a little at a time…or i ignore it completely and just do all the other things on the lists…then things jump onto the list of their own accord…the shower head is pretty old, probably predating the last home owner…fair enough i’m not picky…but as much super glue as i tried i couldn’t get the little part in the middle to stay put and THAT’s the most important part… so alas I had to replace this with the NOT the cheapest one off Amazon, i figured i could go a couple of days without a shower…..It actually came out rather well, i think…at least after I did it three times I figured out how to get it to stop spraying me in the face… basically use as much pipe thread tape as you can get away with… and that sort of fixed it. and bonus, i had parts left over… 2015-09-23 17.00.19i used the old hose and bough the hooky part that matched the wall mount..no way in hell was I gonna go down that road..that’s the part that’s attached to the damn wall…..the wall..the fucking wall…you can’t see it in this pictures, but the tiles are starting to come loose against the wall and there are definitely spots where the grout wasn’t perfect to begin with… that’s another project that i have been avoiding… it’s not THAT expensive, it will just be tedious…i will have to remove every tile  in the bad zone and then another course or two outside of that area….and then..clean off all the grout and th2015-09-23 16.41.08en put them all back…  the biggest fear when DOING or rather STARTING any project like this is being prepared for it to go SIDEWAYS… what happens when i pull down all the tile and find the wall behind it has failed? how to i fix THAT?  well then i rebuild the wall… and so on..once you start going down that road, then you talk yourself out of even starting projects. yes i am a little drunk…not much..just enough… I forgot how much more writing i could get done this way.    hey…i fixed the shower.

curb furniture

smallhutch1In the end I think my house will be furnished half with Ikea and half from the curb. You’ve seen the small chest of drawers… that I paired with a small bookcase, both acquired as freebies… I DID have to buy the bin pulls from ebay and then enamel them…but it was a batch of 18 bin pulls and I am rather smug about how well they came out. I prefer pulls because they are easier than knobs and if you smack up against them, you don’t get those little black and blue marks.

The more pieces I painted white, the more please I became with the results. All the pieces blended together and it has certainly made the rooms feel less FULL of crap.

lghutch1I also did the same thing to a larger chest of drawers….. I know I DID buy it someplace…but I don’t think I paid more than 30 dollars for it… It weighs a ton so I guessed it was REAL wood under it’s terrible coat of paint, and it was…..and another coat of paint healed all its wounds and another call for more bin pulls. The bookcase on top of this one was definitely a curb rescue but about 20 years ago. It had been needing a good paint for a long time. don’t judge me by the books on that particular bookcase..nearly everything on it is for research…basically this is the read and dump pile…books go from there to my desk and then to the donation bin.

They are all solid pieces of wood, no particle board furniture allowed anymore…no cheap furniture of any kind.. ..I am finding that the pieces I am keeping for myself all seem to be a little smaller than normal, probably all from children’s bedroom sets.  tallhutch1

A few weeks ago I spied this tall cabinet next to a dumpster behind a thrift shop….one of the finials at the top had snapped off…so I snapped the other one off and chucked it in the truckbed. The veneer was a little worse for wear but it was still solid….AND it was tiny barely taller than myself.  On went another coat of white rustoleum, with all the shelves installed and a new glass knob it’s actually quite charming…..mind you my ceilings are 80 inches…the Ikea Billy’s just BARELY fit with about an inch to spare.

ConantBallbedsideToday’s curb coup turns out to be a dilemma…. not that there is anything wrong with it..in fact i was quite tickled….a SOLID wood night stand, already white, I figured it just needed to be introduced to Mr. Rustoleum.

conant-ball-furniture-makers-1852Alas…turns out it is a mid century modern named piece… made by Conant Ball probably in the 60s, it was part of the Modernmates set designed by Leslie Diamond..in its natural form worth about $250…The damn thing is TOO valuable for my little hovel.

And I certainly can’t put a coat of paint on it, that would be a sin and a shame. I’m going to have to strip it and refinish it. Damn it..i haven’t done that in a long time…. i will need to do it quick before the winter sets in, otherwise it will be out on the porch all winter.

setee_edited-1At this point there is no more room for furniture downstairs…and the second floor needs to be finished before I can haul any upstairs.  I really really miss all the hiding places I used to have… no barn, no garage… either it fits or it goes… I really really need to get to work on the second floor…i am just imaging all my little curb pieces upstairs under the short walls making the place seem bigger.  The green settee has survived several threats to donate it.  i loathe the color and fabric..but it is sooo tiny, maybe it just needs  a slip cover. 

 

Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

“I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations.”
Both of those quotes are from the Big Chill, which shockingly have stuck with me since 1983. I pulled off a rationalization, a small victory against my frugal life, it made me feel very guilty…well not so very.
IMG_6019 A few weeks ago I was losing my mind trying to find an oblong baking dish that would fit in my compact oven. In the end I used a couple of aluminum pans cut and taped together with aluminum plumbing tape. When you buy baking dishes they are usually sized by the inside, so a 12″ pan may come with an inch extra for handles. Thus my dilemma. Usually when I want or need something I fuss around on Ebay, looking at vintage items stacked along the new designs and I figure out what would suite me best.

rsz_img_6020In this particular case all I wanted was an oblong that held 6 cups or more for casseroles which could also go in the microwave. Since I tweak my recipes, I nearly never make anything bigger. I would have really preferred a vintage Pyrex container, since i have a couple of very old covered Pyrex, that i use all the time…but they are round and oval. I saw some listings for an 8″x 6″ Pyrex without a handle, and it turned out that it came from the storage set and was NOT sold new independently. And strangely the storage set was barely more than what people on eBay were selling the casserole for alone.

So the storage set went on my Amazon wish list…and it sat there for a few weeks. I throw things on the wish list and take them off all the time. I always put things on the list before I buy them….just to make SURE I need it and not just want it. So things languish on the wish list waiting for me to find a rationalization to spend the money.

rsz_img_6021I’m on a half-assed diet right now… basically i’m not allowed to eat anything ‘bad’ read: sugary or starchy, which I didn’t make… no fast food, no snacks, etc… the storage containers and overs aren’t a bad size to take to work. needless to say I don’t do much plastic, I dumped all my plastic storage containers when I moved. So that’s was my rationalization…i NEEDED it for baking, i NEEDED it for portability… sheesh all that fuss for an $15 expenditure. But hey $15 is half a water bill..you know?

I am actually quite pleased with the size of the containers..i am not shitting you…i have been looking for years for an oblong to add to my ‘small-sized’ batterie d’cuisine. I once had a really nice little vintage Hall casserole…but it may have been a shallow refrigerator dish, alas it got broke and I hadn’t been able to replace it. Now I wouldn’t be able to afford to, so the little box of Pyrex is a bit of treat.

…this is just a little story since I can’t wrap my head around anything big anymore. Other people have worse problems than me.

change of seasons

11990687_10153738296870312_3880939101987852177_n Summer has been a mixed bag…..I got fed up with the place the way it has been and put my shoulder into making it livable… I got most of the kitchen painted, and the ENTIRE bedroom painted, and a closet installed….basically everything in the office but the computer has been vomited into the rest of the house, I played musical rooms with much of what I own, things in the basement went into the attic, many things  that made the trip and haven’t found a use have gotten donated, lots and lots of things have gotten painted, even things that aren’t supposed to be painted (faucet handles)….I decided to PUSH the whole cottage aspect of the joint. I painted every piece of curb furniture white so it all blends together.  I will go into more detail about specific things I accomplished that I am pleased with.

Most of the work I did on the house was low expense,  painting and spackle, hooks and hardware, so cumulatively I got a lot of bang for my sweat. 11954592_10153743051695312_2296999009024772868_nI love having a bedroom it has really moved me from ‘did i make the right decision?’ to ‘i love my house!’   I have cut the furniture down just pieces which I had been holding on to, and oddly a lot of curb pieces I have adapted.  (btw the wicker chair came from the dump, it’s  coming inside as soon as I fix the little wiggle on the arm)  What I am ending up with, are pieces which are slightly smaller than the normal size, and painted all white they make the rooms seem bigger….well.. painting the rooms properly makes them feel bigger. The ‘office/bedroom  had NEVER been painted and was just drywall with a skim coat..go figure.    The Ikea bed is OH SO COMFORTABLE and I am not sure if that can be attributed to sleeping on the hard futon for a year.  And the lounge futon thing has grown on me as a tv slash laptop chair, with room for the dog and a few cats without having to give up laptop space.

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However this is the first September in years were customer orders on the website haven’t picked up, so essentially I am living off the tiny part time paycheck and I am entertaining offers to sell of the business that isn’t pulling its weight.   As dramatic as that sounds, it would free me up to find other sources of income, like finishing a few books.

I live in a very beautiful state and I haven’t traveled outside of a 5 mile area once this summer and that’s a sin. Clearing up the work area has freed up my brain to get some work done.   Staying off the computer has certainly freed up my brain to get some housework done, but I’d like a nice balance between online and real life work.

more later.

white doors

doubledoors1For a tiny kitchen, it sure has a lot of doors…or doorways rather. The door to the second floor was removed by a previous owner…another thing on my TO DO LIST from a year ago, add a door. It wasn’t until recently that i figure out how to build one that was inside my skillset. I used some shiplap boards and some cheap bar clamps from Harbor Freight. It would have been easier with a table saw, all my edges are uneven..but then the door frame isn’t exactly perfect and there’s a definite hump in the floor to deal with, so the edges are a little effed up. It does what it needs to do, it keeps the cats from going upstairs. Come winter I will insulate the shit out of the back of it.

unpainteddoor2The door had to be in place before i started painting the kitchen..so today I did doors. I am partial to high gloss rustoleum for things that get a lot of TOUCHING, like doors and door jambs, but I was actually pretty shocked at how much brighter the room is already just doing these doors and the front door in ultra bright white, more than ever I am pleased with choosing high gloss for the blue trim and cabinets. I may never have to turn on a light again. I do have one gallon of semi gloss for the ceiling and walls, though I am certain I will need another, next pay day.

There is no such thing as a little painting, after I did the doors, I still had some of the quart left, so i did the threshold and around one of the cellar windows. I’m on a roll now… I will need more paint for a couple of bookcases that I primed. I also have my eye on a couple of trunks and another bookcase, i still have most of a gallon of primer left. I have made the decision to PUSH the country cottage look to the joint. Not traditionally my personal style, but since it is such a tiny house, light colors will make it look less cluttered and close. It will also tie in all my mismatched curb furniture.

painteddoor1With the kitchen table covered in tools again, I fixed a towel rack, rehabbed a footstool, painted the threshold, and put gliders under the table and chairs. It may be the  good weather or it maybe that i’m just sick of the to do list just getting longer.   I think i have decided to move my work bench from the basement to the porch.  I will be unusable in winter when it’s so cold, but it will make my tools one step away, instead of being in the basement which will be too cold in winter as well.   And of course the workbench will be painted ultra white too.

I am quite pleased with how the door turned out… I am also missing two doors in the living room..one into the back of closet and one into the bedroom.  I can do without a whole door to the bedroom… but the closet is another matter.  I have the feeling it was removed for heat circulation.  Since I bought the house I have been thinking a lot about internal screen doors.  After all my doors only have to be cat proof.  I’m thinking of a screen door with chicken wire…painted white of course.

spread thin

door2 I can’t be trusted with money, i really can’t. I think this weeks’ tiny paycheck was gone by Friday PM. I absolutely needed to build the new kitchen door before I start painting. Going into Home Depot for one thing, I came out with the materials to build the door…i knew i would I was just in denial. I have a make shift barricade up right now basically an old screen door covered in insulation..but the cats have shredded it to bits trying to get upstairs for no damn good reason… I need an actual cat proof door so i don’t have to listen to them terrorize mice upstairs all night long. this door should sit snuggly opening into the stairwell and not into the kitchen. Well at least that’s my plan. I have never built a door before, but like all other things I have an idea in mind of what it is SUPPOSED to be. In this case I bought some not inexpensive shiplap boards $28 and 1x3s $12…and today I bought some cheap bar clamps (table clamps) from Harbor Freight $12. It will be your basic attic door, not sound or weather proof just cat proof. Once the weather turns I will pad the backside of it really good with the cheap felt insulation from the rug place. And before you ask, no…i couldn’t just BUY a door..the damn thing has to be 24″ wide and about 75″ tall..not your average door. Besides I want it to be easy for me to remove if and when the time comes for me to haul shit upstairs…i don’t want to destroy a perfectly good door.

door72If all turns out well, I have a couple of other doors that are missing in my house. The rule of thumb is that if you remove something structural like that, you are supposed to leave it in the basement for the next owner to put back or not..but alas I didn’t see it. though the previous owner may have tossed it away when we told her to clean the basement out..right when she flushed 20 gallons of paint down the lav.
Speaking of paint, I exchanged the can of flat ceiling white paint I bought last summer for a can of blue semi gloss for the cabinets. Now that there’s a porch on the other side of the kitchen sink, i need to reflect what little ambient light there is. I think I still need another $30 gallon of semigloss for the walls too, we’ll see what’s left after I do the ceiling. This was on my to do list from last August..but since I moved  in painting rooms filled of stuff wasn’t high on my list. it’s taken me a week to clear non essential items out of the kitchen – READ- tools. Once the kitchen is done, i will move on to the living room, which is going to get a lot more crowded after I paint it. I decided to pull half the shit out of my ‘office’ and put it into what i laughingly call the living room. And since I have to move these bookcases and such, I will be painting those as well – more high gloss paint please – i’m fonder of Rustoleum but the clean up is a bitch. So another gallon of high gloss $30 won’t hurt, and lets not forget the ceiling…cha ching $30. And I won’t even BEGIN to talk about the floor… the best I can afford are the self adhesive vinyl tiles.. the cheapest is .89 a square…137 dollars…eghad…that i don’t have..perhaps a $30 box at a time.

makita i am very glad to have bought up some tools when i had the money. I adore this little saw which I am not even sure they still make. It is PERFECTION itself for cutting up to 2″ wood…and 4″ if you flip it over. Someone donated a lovely pneumatic brad nailer to the cause but Until I find the $89 for a compressor, i will keep doing everything by hand. I won’t need it seriously until I move on to upstairs chores. that’s when a lot of things need to be nailed to a lot of other things. If i keep dwelling on all the things i DON’T have, like i have been doing for many months now…then I don’t get off my ass and DO ANYTHING at all. So I work with what i got. This weekend I got some wood and some paint and that should keep me out of trouble.

lookout post

squirrel lunch_edited-1today is better, don’t know why. not much has changed, cept I have chores to do. I exchanged a can of ceiling paint i didn’t need for some high gloss color paint for the cabinets. Only in the last month have I even attempted to knock things off my TO DO list from last year. I decided to move what i laughingly call my office into the living room and make the little room downstairs an actual bedroom…the IKEA BED is still in a box upstairs, where it has been for a year. Who am i kidding? it’s going to be at least another year until I can start the upstairs. I don’t need a ‘living room’ no one comes here. If i have guests they can sit in the kitchen.  So I am painting the kitchen, and after the kitchen i start poking at the other rooms.    August is slow…so i am puttering… doing chores makes me feel like i’m moving forward. overhang_edited-1

What is high on my list, are the water diverters…i neglected to supervise my porch construction..hey at least i GOT the porch constructed…but there’s no overhang to protect the windows..and when it rains, it slides down the windows in sheets, regardless of what comes in the house, it’s rotting out the window casements, which were kinda rotten to begin with.   if i were a guy i could certainly get up on an extension ladder and do what needs doing, but i can’t climb.  today i priced out a rental on a 5 foot tall section of scaffolding.  $52.  not bad at all.  With that I can at least get up to the top of the windows, i will however need to put a step ladder on the platform so i can get the diverters up on the roof line… but i am also seriously thinking of adding a layer of shingles to add a couple of inches to coax the water away from the house.  I don’t care how it looks i only care that it doesn’t destroy anything.   I have penciled that in for ‘soon’  i need to borrow from peter to pay paul to find the money.  While up up there i will repaint the wooden parts of the window after I use some wood hardener to stop the rot.  they were free windows, i really can’t bitch.

I haven’t been feeding the squirrels too much…i am only getting two youngsters and they need to learn to find their own food. if they only eat what i put out they will never learn.  I couldn’t find any large manila rope to replace the older rotting one, so i bought three 100 foot lengths of a twisted polycore rope and spent a weekend braiding them together… it’s long enough to go from the fence to the feeder and then to the tree and then to the next 3 trees.  I still need to do another 100 foot length, i want to run them from tree to tree in the yard so they don’t ever have to come down in to the yard.  I swear I saw a bald patch on the back of this squirrel, usually the cats just chase them but never even get close, but i am certainly never positive, they have managed to do a job on the moles and i haven’t seen any chipmunks in MY yard.

fuck august

11823039_10153663554010312_5772799502282801315_oSeriously large hail yesterday, shredded the garden.  I pulled any squash that was ready and secured some of the taller plants.  Completely dangerous, one could have gotten a concussion.   I wish i had one. I don’t want to get out of bed, yesterday was pretty awful, this entire month has been awful. Trying to keep the head above water, but its harder everyday. I’m becoming sullen and rude, I accidentally insulted someone yesterday, usually I only do that on purpose.11145177_10153663847170312_4857782518135203895_o

August is never good, sales are at the yearly low and I can never make them better. I am spending a lot of time wondering how i can close up shop for good and then i remember I am not cut out for any sort of real job. I will only end up in some job i hate, killing people and trying to dispose of the bodies. I really need to get out of my own head and get back to writing.

i mowed the lawn

weedflowers. . . of course I picked the weeds before I did. I should be writing. I always should be writing. I did a good turn yesterday, I should be doing that much everyday. What I discovered years ago was that if I put a project down for more than a week, it is just as if I put a bullet in it. My life is a trail of unfinished quilts and unpainted steps behind me, like a toddler with a bowl of cheerios. It does seem as if I have been writing it forever. Many pieces are already set in my head and need to squeeze them out through my fingers.

One of the things that messes with my head is scope…how large a project should this be? If it’s too big and complicated, I fear that I will get bored with it and put it aside, then it will have been a waste of time.  I probably put more energy into that fussing than the actual contents.  It has gotten larger in scope, but I am less bothered by it.  Why do it, if I am not going to do it well?

2015-07-29 16.51.04I’ve been dragging that odd shaped glass jar around for at least 20 years, thinking ‘that would make a nice vase’. I swear I have actually thrown it in the recycling and picked it out again at least twice. It has survived when all the other actual vases have gone away.

I finally painted the little hutch I bought at Easter. I knew if I just let it filled up with crap on the porch it would have never made it into the kitchen. I may add larger work surface to to protect the paint. It’s not finely finished, just painted within an inch of it’s life.  I think it was knotty pine, and someone threw one coat of latex over it with no primer, so it looked like shit.  So now it has 3 undercoats and a thick layer of White Rustoleum.  It looks like it has been painted repeatedly for a century.  It actually looks like the kind of thing I would consider stripping the paint FROM.  And as much as I want to deny it… I now actually prefer the thickly painted look and surface.  It is easier to wash for certain, and the white sets off the actual objects on it.

11745837_10153633307245312_2419714658574256703_nNow that it is in the kitchen it emphasizes the need to paint the rest of the kitchen.  I will have to paint it in tiny sections, but I want to start with the ceiling which has NEVER been painted, seriously the ceiling tiles have just the primer they are sold with.   I also decided to exchange the unopened gallon of flat white I bought last summer for a semi gloss for the ceiling and I have picked out a high gloss for the blue cabinets. This will compound all the ambient light available and make it easier to SEE overall.  Now I just have to make a point of DOING it, and taking that much more time away from the writing.

The painting is just another thing in the long line of things that requires doing around here, but it IS something I can do and doesn’t cost much to make a dramatic change.   All the rooms need painting and some of the outside is starting to demand it too.  I made up my mind to move the bed into the office and the office into the living room.  The bed I bought last year i still in a box upstairs..where it will be for quite a while If i let it.  I think once I begin moving furniture around I will be able to paint some of the walls and trim.  It will be completely contrary to how I was always taught, no way would I be able to do an entire room or even ceiling. And I am sure I will end up with paint on things not scheduled to be painted.  But it’s an improvement that I can do without hiring anyone.  I did it for a living after college, with my uncle… and I can hear him critiquing me about sloppiness even now.

You get better at painting like anything else, from practice.  Writing also gets better if you do it a lot, but sadly I can’t find it getting any easier.

Once the sun goes down I will take another pass with the weedwacker, I don’t want all the neighbors to come back from their weekends away and think that my weeds are infecting their green carpets.

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