Category: home renovation

When Things Go According to Plan: Tree Edition

You’ll recall a few weeks ago, a big part of the huge silver maple in my backyard fell down, knocking out my power. (Actually, it looks like that’s already been 1.5 months!) In the aftermath, we looked around at various tree services, finally settling on Hidden Hills Tree Service. They gave us a *much* better estimate and committed to cutting and splitting the wood from the tree for us as well. (When you burn wood and have a big tree fall down on your property, you might as well get some BTUs out of it, right?)

Even then, we still had to arrange for the power company to come and drop the power line so the work could be done, and that took much more finessing than we anticipated. They’re busy people in the summer, it seems. There was one morning that they had open until mid-August, so it was then or much later.

Thankfully, the stars all aligned for that one day to work. However, it was also yesterday, the day I had to be in Orono for a library development day. Denisa’s gone to Slovakia with the kids, so all of this would have to happen without anyone there to make sure it all went smoothly.

I left in the morning, hoping that

  • The power company would come as promised at 8am to drop the line
  • Hidden Hills would come to cut down the tree
  • No trees would fall on my house or anything else important
  • The power company would come back to hook the power back up at 2pm

The whole time I was in Orono, I was checking my phone, waiting for the call that told me things weren’t working. The phone never rang.

I came home at 5:00pm to find this:

For once, it all went as planned. I didn’t have to do anything or be involved at all. It was wonderful. Our birdhouse took a direct hit, knocking the steeple off, but I’m okay with that.

Today, if all goes according to plan, the cutting and splitting will happen. It’s raining, though, so I think there’s a chance that gets delayed.

Still, it’s great to have down. I’m really surprised just how sunny the back yard is now. That tree was very large. I’m sad it had to go, really. I’m a fan of trees, but it had to happen. We’ve been worried since we moved in that it might hit our house or drop a limb on a child. That worry is gone now. Looking at the interior of the wood, it’s clear it had quite a few problems. Lots of bugs and rot.

Anyway, here’s to things working as intended for once. (Knock on wood.)

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Lightning (Hopefully) Only Strikes Once

I was away in Newport on Sunday, attending a different congregation, and I got a text from Denisa.

“We came home from church, and half the power is out.”

That’s a first for me. I’ve had all the power out plenty of time, but some of the outlets were working, the rest weren’t, and the appliances were all making strange buzzing noises. Not a good thing. She reset the breakers, but that didn’t do anything, so she called the neighbors to see if something had happened.

Apparently while we were all at church, lightning had stuck someplace close by. Like, “sparks coming out of the outlets” close by. It played havoc with all of our electronics. Killed a window fan. The electric company came over and got the street patched up, and most things are working again now. My theory is it hit a telephone wire or something, though, since it totally blew out our modem and our phone, which weren’t on surge protectors.

We’ve called our ISP, and they’re sending a new modem. I’m hoping the wiring itself is okay. We were without internet yesterday and today and at least through tomorrow. The kids . . . they are restless. You don’t want to get between a 5 year old and her Netflix addiction.

Speaking from personal experience.

Of course, I figured that was the extent of it, but when I came over to the library today, the same storm had knocked out the electrical system over here, leaving us without AC. It’s not sweltering outside, but it’s still stuffier in here than I’d like.

First world problems.

Glad our house is more or less okay, and everything should be back to normal soon.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Lawn Mowing for the Criminally Lazy

Allow me to set the scene. You’ve got around an acre and a half of property. Some of it’s covered in grass. Some of it has trees. But there’s a big stretch of it right along the road that’s just a total pain to take care of. The hill is steep there, and it’s just completely overgrown.

You might be tempted to do something with it. Maybe plant something there. Some flowers, perhaps. Or you could try to force yourself to take care of it anyway. Mow it the same way you mow the rest of your yard.

Those are rookie mistakes, people.

A true professional just lets it sit there, year after year, catching all sorts of dirt and sand and salt from the road as layer upon layer of underbrush and weeds grow, thrive, and die there. Yes, it doesn’t look great. Stay strong. Ignore it.

Wait ten years.

And then, one magical morning, the town will come along with a huge digger and just scoop all that crud up when they dig a new drainage ditch.

On that halcyon morning, when that happens, won’t you be glad you didn’t plant anything useful there? Won’t you feel like a genius for just being lazy?

Yes. Yes you will.

So just remember, folks. Sometimes it doesn’t pay to go through a lot of work to get something done. Sometimes it pays to just do nothing at all.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Drilling through Your Problems

The new bathroom is officially finished and open for business. It turned out very nicely, with a tiled shower, heated floors, and a built in cabinet. I’m very pleased with it, and it’s a big bonus to have it right by my bedroom. No more stairs needed to go to the bathroom at night? What a world we live in!

The one down side of the new bathroom was the new shower head. Our one downstairs puts out a good, strong stream of water. The new one proclaimed proudly that it would do the same thing, but when it came time for us to actually use it . . . the stream left quite a bit to be desired. I don’t like having to wait for forever for the shampoo to rinse out of my hair. (First world problem, I know.)

So I talked to my contractor to see if he had any suggestions about what style of shower head we should get instead. He looked at the one we have, took it apart, and pointed to a piece of plastic sealed on the inside rim. “If you drilled this out, it’ll either break your shower head or fix your problem.”

“Do you really think I should do that?” I asked.

He shrugged. “The shower head doesn’t work for you now. You’ll have to pay at least $40 or $60 for a different one, and it’s not like you’ll be able to sell this one. Worth a shot, isn’t it?”

So I grabbed my drill, guessed at the bit size, hesitated one more time, and commenced drilling.

Layer after layer of plastic sheared away. Green plastic. Black plastic. White plastic. Some kind of rubber seal. I was sure we’d just ruined the whole thing. Finally we got through to clear space on the other side of the plastic barrier. We took the shower head, reattached it, and turned on the shower.

A strong jet of water came out. Plenty of water, in a nice spray, just like I wanted.

Shower head: fixed.

A helpful reminder that sometimes the direct route is the easiest, cheapest, and all around best way to solving a problem. Have a great weekend, all!

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Sealing Grout is About as Much Fun as It Sounds

The new bathroom is practically finished now. All that’s left is to put up the mirror, some hooks, the toilet paper holder, and . . . seal the grout?

There are some things required in construction that I had no idea were required. Grout sealing is one of those things. To the best of my knowledge, you do it so you don’t stain the grout with wine or food or something. I wasn’t really planning on drinking in my shower, or eating for that matter, but last night I found myself standing in the shower, grout sealer in hand, trying to figure out how best to get the blasted stuff onto the grout.

I had bought a specialty tool for the job. A squirt bottle with a little roller attached that’s supposed to make it easy for you to get everything just right. It made sense in theory, but in practice it left much to be desired. For one thing, you’re not supposed to get the sealer on the tile, or else you risk discoloring your tile for life.

(So riddle me this: why in the world was I standing there risking staining my tile accidentally by putting stuff on the grout to make sure the grout didn’t stain? Why not just embrace the fact that my grout might stain at some point, but my tile would be fine? Best not to ask crazy questions like that. Best just to stick to the prescribed technique of grout finishing.)

The roller was too wide for some areas and too thin for others. Worse yet, the grout sealer didn’t want to go on most of the grout at all. I tried different angles. No dice. (And don’t get me started on how long it took me staring at different grout sealers at Home Depot to decide which one I really needed.)

In the end, I gave up on the specialty bottle. Instead I went and borrowed a water color brush from DC. One of the basic little cheap brushes that comes with pretty much every water color set. I put the sealer into a plastic container and stood there getting my Michelangelo on for the next while, painting the grout by hand.

It doesn’t look like it should take that long. There’s not that much grout, after all. The tiles we got are two feet wide by a foot tall, so it should have been a piece of cake. Except when you’re using a little water color brush to get the job done . . . things take longer.

I got the first coat done for the shower. I was sick of doing it by then, so I haven’t started the floor yet at all. Tonight I’ll try to take care of both coats on the floor and the second coat on the shower. And then I’m going to do my best to forget that grout needs to be sealed ever again.

Yes, it’s supposed to be redone once a year or something. I think I might just live dangerously and put it to the test. After all, the odds of me drinking wine in my shower are pretty low . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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