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So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

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Home Repair Stories

Where, Oh Where, Is A Cat When You Need One?

mouse

Wow. I literally slept for over 18 hours last night! With pulling 12-hour shifts and editing two books over the past two weeks (reviews coming! Whee!!!) life has been busy enough… but then I had a mouse invasion. EUU!!!  And don’t let that “Oh, so sweet and innocent” face fool you… Hantavirus is a huge threat around here, so allowing any little four-legged pests of the rodent variety to hang around is absolutely verboten.

Living in the country around here comes with foxes, coyotes, and the occasional wolf, not to mention snakes that are definitely on the ‘unfriendly’  side – but the little four-legged star of Ratitouille truly isn’t someone you want in your kitchen.

rat
Image property of Pixar Movies

So, out with  the scrub brush, mop, broom, and a bucket filled with hot water and Lysol, and there is Leiah, on her knees, pulling everything out of the cabinets, ripping out shelf liner, rubbing, scrubbing, and generally working up a sweat with face mask firmly in place! One cabinet down, and on to the next to let the last one dry. Wow. I had no idea how much dross got pushed to the back of the lower cabinets! (Oh, and a little hint? No. Mice do NOT like mothballs . . . but putting mothballs out behind the cabinets in a dish? Uh, not my smartest move! Choke! Choke! Gag!) stinkHey, at least my mousetraps are the ‘no kill’ kind! Of course, you should have seen me the other night when I heard one scratching around and took the trap outside to release its inhabitant by the creek . . . sucker jumped straight up, smacked me on the nose, and then took off through the brush – while I landed on my backside with a THUMP and a Shriek!! Yep. Nothing like embarrassing yourself in the back yard in your underwear!! At least my closest neighbor can’t see into the back yard. . . . though since my housemate came flying out the back door to see if a coyote jumped on me, I will never live it down . . . Oy! LOL

Then, of course, the dishwasher went ‘kapluey’ and refused to drain water. (Yes, BEFORE I could put my pots and pans I keep in a lower cabinet in to run a scrub cycle on!) As it is a good 20 years old, I can’t say I am surprised, but now that I have the lower cabinets cleaned (thank goodness they didn’t get into the upper ones!), and every single item in them either cleaned (what fun scrubbing all the pots and pans! Can we all say whee?) at least that part is taken care of. Good, right?

Weelll, not so much. I got under the sink on Saturday to finish up by cleaning under there, and so I could pull the hose on the washer and move it out into the kitchen floor and clean the cabinet and around the washer cutout, as well as repairing the washer.

Ahwwwww, MAN!!! Yep. You guessed it. Leak city – as in, a leak from an unseen opening in the caulk around the back of the sink. Ugh. Rotten wood, the floor broke through when I leaned my weight on it . . . can I not get a break? Sigh.

argh

Fine! BE that way!!! 

So, I showered. Crawled in a hot tub with a book and a bottle of YellowTail Merlot and a bar of chocolate, and soaked away the aches from being on my knees for three days. Then I crawled in bed and slept and slept and slept! Ah, the joys of being single and owning a dog door and an automatic-waterer/feeder for the dogs! Hey, I don’t do it often, but since my furry babies slept with me pretty much the whole time, they didn’t complain!

dogpile

This weekend I will have to remove the sink and dish washer and rip out the cabinet and floor underneath it. Scrub, rebuild the cabinet, (or maybe I will run down to the Habitat for Humanity resale shop. I bet they will have a usable cabinet down there. . .) paint on sealer, paint on paint (see how I did that? lol) and rip the washer out into the middle of the kitchen and fix that.

And here all I had planned for next weekend was to catch up on my reading and build myself a new headboard. Then start a matching quilt and couch cover! Oh, here’s the pattern. Well, part of it anyway.

 

This is more the middle part, but you get the idea. I found that middle fabric and fell in love with it! The quilt will follow the theme, the couch in my room will get a yellow or blue upholstery with pillows in the floral, and the walls will be repainted once I figure out what color. I already have new curtains in fuchsia I picked up on sale, so something that works with that. As for the floors? Meh. I will try to spend some time this winter making old-fashioned braided rugs from scraps and old, colorful shirts I pick up at Goodwill, but after having male dogs? Yeah, you get it. Shih Tzu and “go outside go potty” don’t exactly mix!

oops

I have managed to read a couple of good books as well, usually right before bedtime. I will post those as well. Right now I have to make myself another mug of tea and start getting ready for work.

How have your adventures in daily life been coming along?

Crack! WHAM! POW! Oh, My Aching Bank Account…

Something good happens, well, something bad must be close, right?

Wind speeds this morning were, well, let’s just say Dorothy could have hitched a ride to OZ – and Back. The roots literally snapped off, as you can see, leaving a crater of all things. So Strange! So… spending the day tracking down someone to cut the tree up so I can use it in the garden (love recycling!) and then fix the fence. At least it fell over only two sections and it looks like only one post needs to be replaced. Could be worse – could have hit the roof! Just have to wait for the wind to die down before I can really survey the damage without blowing away. Sigh.

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Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design

Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design
Spruce: A Step-by-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design

Amanda Brown

Storey Publishing

Pub Date: Oct 2 2013

I have a confession. I am a serial crafter. Ooohhh!!! Shiny! Wanna try THAT!  Hence my workroom full of quilt fabrics, stained glass and tools, wood and woodworking tools, boxes of yarns, rolls of upholstery fabrics.  . . Oh. Did I say upholstery fabrics? Oh, yea!

You see, I found this beautiful wingback chair. The fabric was in bad shape, but the form was so gorgeous, I had to have it. And then, I found out it was going to cost several hundred dollars to have it recovered. Well, no way was that happening! So, I checked out the library, checked out a couple of upholstery books, and went to work. The body of the chair is gorgeous . . . but the seat? Well, let’s just say, the chair is sitting there, beside the upholstery tools and the rolls of fabrics. Couldn’t figure out how to make it so that it looked smooth and professional.

Well, with Spruce I am going to be making a trip to the upholstery supplies store, because I know how to do it now! Amanda’s book is beautiful. Not just her work, the overall design and layout of the book. The photos are clear and beautifully done, and she even shows layouts of why she made the fabric choices she made for her style and room size and shape. From design plans and yardage estimations, tying coil springs and choosing the right padding to sewing knife edge pillows, Amanda covers it all, in a clear and precise manner, with lots of those beautiful photos. Of course, Chapter 19, Constructing a T-Cushion is going to be my first job I am going to take away from this lovely little book. After that? My recliner took a beating during my cancer treatments and the aftermath, and to say the seat is sad is quite an understatement…. I was only comfortable sitting against the left arm of the chair, so now the poor thing sags in that spot, leaving me sitting sideways when I sit in it. I am going to be thrilled to fix that and be able to use my recliner again!

Overall? If you have the faintest interest in upholstery, this is definitely a wonderful go-to book. Even if you want to start out just making some beautiful pillows, I highly, highly recommend that you add this book to your shelf. It is beautiful, helpful, and so well written that it is a true pleasure to read.

A highly recommended craft book!

******* WE HAVE FAN!!!! **********

IMGP1634AND IT WORKS!!!!

Home Improvement (Ooo ooo ooo – or however Tim Taylor said it)

Click click click click click . . . arrrgh! I have listened to that from my ceiling fan for at least the last year. Click click click click. Survey shows, I definitely need a new ceiling fan! Don’t get me wrong, that one has served well for at least ten years. In Colorado summers, you need the air movement, even living in a brick house that holds the nights cool air if you seal it up every morning. But I digress.

Click click click click . . . So, I have been saving my nickles and dimes for quite some time, because there is a specific fan I want.

Pretty, huh?
Pretty, huh?

It is a Hunter 26407, a 52-inch Architect Series, bronze with cherry-wood blades (digression – HAHAHAH – more like fiber wood with “real faux cherry-wood design on one side, real faux walnut-wood on the other! Oh, well, what did I expect? The company may be in Memphis, but five will get you ten it was made it Korea or someplace similar.)

So anyway, (click click click click) I finally save up enough nickles and dimes and my fan arrives. Oh, goodie goodie goodie! Whee!!!

Now, you have to remember, I have a lot of home renovation under my belt. (Oh, Pandora is Playing Up Around The Bend – good, it is 4 AM and I just got up, my tea is made, and life begins . . . And Led Zeppelin Radio helps get me moving at this hour.) So. Where was I? Oh, yes, home renovation. bungalowI started out with a 1901 California Bungalow when I lived in California. This picture is the same structure, nearly exactly, but my photos were all lost in a flood when I lived in Seal Beach, so I don’t have any photos of the one I did, but other than the paint colours, this one is the same.) Stripping off layers and layers of paint from real old-growth redwood and cypress trim, stripping and sanding down wide plank flooring and sealing it with spar to bring up the grain and pure color. Believe me, you haven’t lived until you are sanding floors that are in a house homeless drug users have used as a flop. And let me tell you, having to borrow a girlfriend’s fire department standard hazmat suit and chain metal gloves, and using a carpet knife and long pliers to rip and strip the carpet and drag it out to the dumpster was NO FUN. . . those suits are HOT… and there must have been two dozen needles and three pounds of busted up fixings in the old shag that probably went in in the 1960’s. That stuff was nasty! But what can you expect from a neighborhood undergoing ‘gentrification” after years of not wanting to drive through the neighborhood without an armoured vehicle? Anyway, new paint on the antique plaster, sealer on the trim work, new kitchen, new bathrooms. At least the old wavy glass in the windows miraculously made it through mostly in one piece, only a few had to be replaced or were long gone. It was something to see when I was done.

Then there was the last house. A mishmash of styles and lack of styles, all cobbled together from the 1930’s to the 1980’s, after a huge wildfire that wiped out the south coast of Oregon.

Aftermath. There was no stopping the fire.
Aftermath. There was no stopping the fire.
There was nothing left.
There was nothing left.

(Yes, I do have pictures of this remodel, but they are on a drive somewhere downstairs, if you are interested I will pull them out later. But, anyway. . .)

The oldest part of the house had great plaster, nice woods, and both old-growth fir and cork flooring. New tile and refinishing the old cabinets in the kitchen, click together wood floors in the dining room (the floor was wayyy wavy and an add-on from the 80’s, what can I say?) But I did add slate flooring in the hallways where the old 80’s fiber-board was awful, and the master bedrooms had that amazing cork. New bathrooms were a must (I really, really hate installing toilets, fiddly little buggers) but it was really nice when I got done. I even did Italian plaster on the walls, leather treatment in the master, installed ceiling fans (they were so easy to install!) and did Italian plaster and this wonderful Italian tile with copper trim on the fireplace and sprayed the old 80’s era stove with copper fire-proof paint. Killer. Went from “land-only” value to mid six-figures and I was a proud house-momma!

So, we moved back to Colorado, after 20 years away, and found this nice little brick rancher in the country. poppy

It was built in 1972, and wonder of wonders, it had already been freshly painted and the carpet was new, as were the bathrooms. Glory be, I can put away my tools! Well, for a few years, at least. The water heater had to be replaced (original) then the heating system (original) then the swamp cooler had to be just forgotten about and taken away when high winds took away a big chunk of the roof (roof replaced, check). The kitchen isn’t what we really want, but it is functional, and after the market crash and my cancer, well, nothing is getting done there any time soon.

But, that BLASTED FAN!!! Don’t get me wrong, it was nice in it’s day, not flashy, but nice, a Hampton Bay (can anyone say Home Depot special?)

Something like this, but I didn't photo it before I took it down. Bad Leiah, no bisquit!
Something like this, but I didn’t photo it before I took it down. Bad Leiah, no biscuit!

But after years of nearly constant running, poor thing is just ka-put. Click click click click.

So, on Saturday the fan is finally in my hot little hands and I am thrilled.

It's here!
It’s here!

Hey, I have to sit under that thing to work on my blog and read when it is too hot to sit outside, so that noise was really truly getting on my nerves! On Sunday morning, I pull out my toolbox and start in. Everything unpacked, all pieces in order. Check. I drag out the Costco ladder (that thing with the tough plastic tray to hold your goo-gaws within arms reach is great, by the way) and do my normal, picky as heck, take each part off individually, bag the screws and tie the bag to the part that they go to, then carry the parts out to the garage one at a time. (Note: I wasn’t always this meticulous. As in, I buried my Leatherman tool out in the front flowerbed under matting and cedar

My baby is gone!!!!
My baby is gone!!!!
Now I just have a cheapo. Sigh

chips and river rock last summer because I didn’t remember to put it back on the holster on my belt, and by the time I needed it again, who knows where under the fifty feet of matting it was buried? And you would know I don’t know anyone with a metal detector. Sigh. And that was my favorite tool. Now I just have a cheapy faux Leatherman. So, yes, even old dogs can learn new tricks. One thing at a time, moron…..)

The old one come down fine, all the screws are tight, but not overly so, and I draw my wiring diagram on the back of an old envelope so I have a double check on what wire goes where (of course, later, I sat there and puzzled over “blue wire”? WHAT “blue wire”? And why on earth would the hot wire be BLUE on the Hampton Bay? However, I digress. Again.)

But I have remembered to turn off the power, so life is good and I don’t get myself knocked on my ass so far, so life is good. Oh, the power box is new too, that is one thing the 70’s did NOT offer was good wiring to handle the micro, stove, new heating system, etc. that we have worked into the mix over the years. OR the four computers, monitors, printers, etc . . . I truck it all out to the workbench and leave it there for the garage sale I am going to get around to one of these years, and (wild chuckle) I am ready for the new one. Here we go!!!

So, I pull and check the wiring, it’s new. Check. (The wiring in both the above mentioned houses had to be totally replaced. I did a lot of it myself, but sad to say, I had to have an electrician for the new boxes and the City Inspector. Well, I am not THAT good at wiring!)

Screw in a new electrical box, just because I can. Check. Ok. New ceiling plate. Nice, 3” screws to hold the whole 22.4 lbs up to the ceiling. Sweet. So, I grab my nice Ryobi drill (don’t buy a lot of tools, but when you do, make them nice ones. They last longer, are stronger, and you won’t regret the purchase later like you do that date with that really handsome guy who slurps his soup and gropes you under the table). I got the Ryobi drill, hammer drill, bits and case at ‘fire sale’ prices when I worked for Home Depot (whole other story) and I baby it to death.

Cool, huh? I love toys that work well!
Cool, huh? I love toys that work well!

Anyway – drill at the ready – brrrrrrr – BAM! Screw is sticking out a full inch and I am stuck. Up into the attic (OMG. Blown in insulation, and doesn’t THAT suck when it is hot hot hot and you are sweating and fussing. Yep. Metal plating. Bugger. I could have sworn that I checked the length on the original screws. Yep, check my envelope – 2” screws and the new ones are 3”. And you couldn’t have checked that before Leiah? Sigh) Down the steps, back out the screws, and off to the garage to the metal box. I say metal box, because the movers dropped my screw and

nail collection box (all those lovely little compartments!! And I built it myself!) And broke it to pieces. I am still picking up nails and screws from the lawn beside the driveway. So, it is ‘the metal box” an old drawer that holds everything all jumbled together. Ouch! Pointy! Ouch! Sharp! Bugger! I finally dig out the right screws, and back to my ladder. Linda has gone to bed by now (she works nights at one of the casinos in Black Hawk, and she needs her sleep) so I am back to the old hand-held screwdriver. Bugger again. But I am a woman on a mission, so I got the thing up there. Check. I want to flush mount, so no down rod. Good, put that piece back and grab the canopy and canopy ring, and double check the wiring on the new fan. They give you about eight feet of wire

IMGP1630
Excess wire. At least I have a lamp to rewire.

on the new one (sweet) so I had to measure off the wire length I needed and cut it and strip it to length. WHERE is my wire stripper? Where???? Dig dig dig.

Bang bang bang. Not where it is supposed to be, check. Not on the workbench. Check. Dig dig dig. Screw it. So, out comes the paring knife, and picky ticky picky, strip off the casing and the wires are all ready.

Stripped wires.
Stripped wires.

But this thing weighs 22.4 lbs and has to be held over my head and Linda is asleep and well, bugger. So, I pack up my toys and take a shower and go down for a nap because there is no way that I am going to be able to finish this up all the time. It is getting dark out, and I have to turn off the power to the whole den to wire this thing so tomorrow it is. Besides, it has been a while since I had my chemo and radiation, but I am still not in top shape, and that reaching over my head business sucks!

So, Monday morning, bright and shiny, I turn off the power again and, with Linda’s help, I am going to quick like a bunny wire this bugger up and get it hung so she can go to bed.

Ready to hang - - - or so I THOUGHT.....
Ready to hang – – – or so I THOUGHT…..

It is her first day off after graveyards, and I want her to be able to hit her bed. First roadblock. The wiring doesn’t match the diagram. Crap. So, we  pull it down and I go out and get the old one. Sure enough, the wiring colours don’t match, but that is workable, the blue on the old one is the red on the new one, check. Got it. Take the old one back out and back up the ladder. Now Linda is holding up the fan, but she is on a chair and she is right at 6′ tall, so life is good. I wire it up, screw on the wire caps, and Bam!

Life is good! Just hang the fan on the hooks and flip it up onto the ceiling plate and I am ready to screw it into place (yes, after making sure no wires are sticking out, I am not a total moron) and it even fits tightly, oh goodie!

Oh, not goodie. Bugger! *&(%(*^(*^%%#$**. The holes don’t line up!! The holes in the ceiling plate are stripped and at an ANGLE!!!!!!! *^&*&%$&^(&%$^$. Of course, we don’t figure that out until the first screw pops back on me, and falls into the HOLES in the top of the fan. (Buh-bye screw! Buh-bye!) Holes WITHOUT screening, so they Fall. Into. The. Motor. Housing. BUGGER  Now Linda and I both have the “flat out exhausted with the whole business giggles” – Buh-bye Screw! Buh-bye! Then again, several more times throughout the mess, of course, buh-bye screw!

Ready! Or so I thought. . .
That plate, right THERE, is the problem!!!!

Yep. Gotta pull the whole bastard down, because I don’t want that screw rattling around and getting pulled up into the motor and burning it out the first time we have to use it. By now, Linda is goofy as all get- \out and tired beyond measure, I am cranky and tired and SORE from mucking about with my arms over my head all day yesterday as well as today, and I am way pissed. So, we pull it down, unwire it, and turn it over the sheet on the floor to shake out the screw, then back up the ladder, this time with the holes covered with socks to cover the holes (the curve of the sock at the ankle means it covers the round well. (Buh-bye screw, again….sigh…) Remember that when you need to make sure screws don’t go where they aren’t supposed to next time you are doing something like this).

Now, up the ladder we rewire and flip up the fan and now we have to deal with the mismatched holes, but I am smart (this time) and bring the drill bits out of my bag and fit on the drill and brrrrrrrrr I drill new holes through the cowling and plate on two sides (the third side had been OK, and of course that is the first one we put in originally and then had to back that puppy out and it was stuck fast. Pops out and Buh-bye screw again . . .

Have I said how sucky this whole installation has turned out to be?) And we start in with the new screws – which pop out and fall down on the floor, (Uh oh,buh-bye screws! Can they not make these things magnetic? ) but not into the housing at least, so that is something. Up and down the ladder, but at least the cowl and fan are hanging from the hooks on the housing and Linda isn’t having to hold it over her head now, but she is past that sweet-spot of exhaustion and the adrenaline of listening to me cuss a blue streak and doing a bit of her own has gotten her wide awake, so we are in it to win it by this point. Yea, right. And I am going to win the Lotto too. Sigh.

Back up the ladder, we finally, finally got the bugger screwed into the housing, and TA-DA!!! The fan body is UP! Yeah, Baby!!!!

Rahr! Rarh! Rarh!Finally, finally up!!! I unscrew the plastic brackets that hold the fan motor in place from the holes where the fan blades are attached.

I grab a blade and Linda holds it while I start to screw them on. Got one screw in (Stupid! Why didn’t you remove one bracket at a time?!?! Now the stupid thing MOVES every time you try to put the blade on! Sigh) I get one in . . . but it is in the wrong hole, so now it doesn’t line up and I have to unscrew it and by now I am tired and sweaty and sore (again) and Linda is tired and sweaty and hysterically laughing (as if I am not, because a few years ago I could have done this in one afternoon all by myself, and damn, it sucks getting old and getting cancer and getting weak and did I mention getting old?) We give up, take showers, and hit the bed, and, well, now it is Tuesday, and I AM GETTING THAT SUCKER FINISHED TODAY, COME HELL OR HIGH WATER…..

So. How was your weekend?

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