Friday, February 25, 2011


Here are a couple of shots of the steps with the wood in place.  It's a little muddy still.

I was so pleased when I got home and saw it that I called Vic and said, "Do you know how great it is to come home after you have worked all day at my house?" I was beaming. He had done a beautiful job.  He even played with the wood colors to give it a little design.  He said he estimates he has about a half day's work remaining and that he would see me in the morning.

Then he said, "I made a mistake, did you notice it?"  I hadn't.  He said that he would show it to me in the morning and that we could decide how to fix it.  Okie doke.  When I hung up I went outside and looked for the mistake, but I couldn't find it. 

When he arrived this morning he pointed out how on the edge of the large landing, on the edge that leads to the step below, the wood is supposed to overhang the edge by 3/4".  He says it's a safety thing.

Hmm.  Well, now that he's pointed it out, okay, sure I can see it.  And looking at all the other steps where he did make it hang over -- yes, the hanging over ones do look better.  Are they safer?  I have no idea.
There are two possibilities to fix it: 
One, he can put in a ripped board that is about 1" wide and drop it between the boards and bump that edge out.  The problem with that is that that 1" board would be the only 1" board, and it would probably be fairly noticeable.  I inquired about putting one or two additional 1" boards in elsewhere, to give it some continuity, and I can't remember the reason why, but he said that wouldn't work. 
The other solution is to put in a new full width board.  The problem with that?  We don't have any 10' boards left, only 8' boards -- so it would have to be pieced -- 8' and then a 2' piece.  That would really catch your eye.  My solution to that?  Go to the lumberyard and buy one more 10' plank.  The problem with that?  There's no way a 10' board will fit in my car!  The answer to that?  Drop the convertible top, and put on my Carhartt jacket and a scarf.  (It was 43 degrees this morning.)  Sure, I got some funny looks at red lights, but it wasn't nearly as cold as I'd expected it to be. 
Other related updates...
Re: the hole in the ground, Vic can't get under those last 2 steps to affix the boards from below, so I'll have to dig out and crawl under there to do those.
Re: the touch up paint to touch up the new welds from installation?  Mark called this morning and is sending a crew member out to seal up the bottom of the stringer had to be cut off (don't try to follow, I left that part of the story out) and to paint the welds.  He'll be there today at 2.
With regard to the giant green forklift parked at my front curb that was supposed to be picked up yesterday, and was supposed to be picked up "first thing this morning," they really truly promise it will be gone by 3 today.
Regarding the gutter we had to remove to get the steps in place?  My gutter company referred me to a company called Handy Dan who is going to be at my house at 8 a.m. Monday morning.  They estimate a less than 2 hour repair, at a reasonable hourly rate.
So, things are coming along.  For some reason, though, I feel very out of control.  All of the floors in my house are muddy.  Even my dog is muddy.  Outside, aside from my backyard being muddy, my driveway, with the corresponding edge of my neighbors lawn, is muddy and sort of torn up.  My carport is positively trashed with items that had to be moved to make way for construction.  One of my rain barrels is leaking at the hose connection, adding to the mud.  I'm a little wild eyed.
On the way to work, I stopped for an egg biscuit -- it was 10:15 and I was ravenous -- and when I stopped a block away from the drive through to wolf it down, I unwrapped ... a biscuit.  No egg.  Just a biscuit.
At 10:30 when I got to work, I was met with complaints from several counsel that our fax machine is down.
When my boss noticed I was sort of quiet and asked if I was down today, I started crying.  Fortunately for both of us, we were on the phone, and he wasn't standing in front of my desk -- in my experience few things affect men the way a woman crying does.  He gave me a wide berth.
Now, it's 12:30.  Rationally I know I really have nothing to be wild-eyed about it.  Hiccups are always a part of projects.  And I've got it really good -- in so many ways my life could be so much worse.  But for now?  Tired.  Teary.  Really needing the rollercoaster ride to be over.  Really wanting a few hours to knock out some clean up and get my haven reorganized.   The solution to that?  My boss just left for the day, and advised me to go home, and take care of business.  Like I said:  I've got it really good.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Power of Positive Thinking

A couple of really huge good things happened this week:  My steps were installed, and today Vic will complete nearly all of the ipe installation.  I would do well to write those two things on the back of my hand with an ink pen.  I'd been planning them since May 2010, and they are in.  And for the most part, they look positively fantastic.

This week has also been an emotional rollercoaster.  On installation day, the nervousness and anxiety about things coming together and going smoothly combined with the excitement of it actually finally happening had me on the verge of tears all day long.

I was worried about what would be right:


... the forklift fit down my driveway? (yes)
... the footings be correctly placed? (yes, they were)

... the structure fit under my gutters and eaves? (it did not fit, and an inch was cut off the legs)
... the 2 steel pieces fitting together (with some adjustments, they did fit)
... the work be completed without damaging surroundings?  (aside from some slate cracking, yes.)
... I still like the design after all these months? (YES)

I cry easily.  I'll get teary when I am really excited about something, like when I got to swim with dolphins in Mexico.  I fight back tears during every opening and closing argument we do in trial.  Happiness, stress, being overtired, being really angry -- they all make me cry.  I don't necessarily view that as a bad thing --generally I can have good cry for 60 seconds and I feel infinitely better than before.  It's a great release.  But riding the crest of being on the verge of tears for 12 hours?  Hoo-ee, that is exhausting.  When I saw Red that evening I couldn't recall conversations we'd had just an hour prior.  I finally confessed that I was so wrung out that I felt as though I had just gotten out of trial.  That's just weird.  But it's me.

Until mid-way through the installation I had forgotten about the many conversations that had gone on with regard to where the bottom steps would land (no pun intended) with respect to the grade of my yard.  And when they were put in place?  The bottom step and the handrail stringers are two feet below grade.

No it isn't optimal.  Agreed.  Do I wish that hadn't happened?  Of course.  But it did, and so the best thing I can do is focus on how it can be remedied.  But before I can do that, my mind needs to rest, and absorb the huge, wonderful transformation that has happened already.  And in time, I'll work out a solution.

I didn't sleep well the night after installation.  I was positive I would have a great evening with Red and just collapse into a coma.  Great evening?  Check.  Great sleep?  Not so much.  And so on the heels of all of that, Vic arrives Thursday morning.  Although weary, I thought I was in a pretty good mood.  The first thing Vic says to me?  Not hello, but "What happened to your hair?"  Determined not to let that derail my morning I laughed it off and we walked to the backyard.  He laid eyes on the stairs descending into the earth, and I waited -- and he did not disappoint:  "Ahhh!  I TOLD YOU that was going to happen!"  Yes, I know.  I gave him the credit due and told him I would figure something out.  As predicted, he had strong opinions of how it should be remedied.  I listened, thanked him for his opinion, and said I needed to let the scenario gel in my mind for a few days.  I do not have to come to a final solution today.  But he kept on.  And finally I had to just tell him to stop.  Multiple times.  Perhaps I had to raise my voice a bit.  I get it.  I do.  And I will deal with it.  So -- let's focus on this beautiful lumber that is going to go on these beautiful stairs.

I won't torture myself or you with the details of what transpired in the next couple of hours.  I had showered, gotten mostly ready for work.  It was raining.   My yard was very muddy.  And although I was not dressed for it, I was outdoors with Vic.  And next I knew, I was in the aisle of Home Depot surrounded by a vertitable posse of Home Depot employees, mud between my toes, with my back arched, my head thrown back and wailing.  (Inside.  I was wailing inside -- not outloud.)  Would this never be over?  OHMYGOSH.  Seriously, I had no work awaiting me at work, but I could not wait to get there.

The Morning After

This morning the forklift sits at the front curb; the workhorse silent.  Stepping into my backyard today was like returning to the scene of the crime, and now it's super muddy because it's been raining for 12 hours.

I have an "aftermath" post to author, but I am still decompressing from yesterday.  I know -- melodramatic. 

Vic is at my house today, cutting lumber and laying it in place.  If the rain stops, he may start affixing it. 

The steps do look pheneomenal.  James and his crew are one class act.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Coming along nicely...

2 p.m.

12:10 p.m.

2nd piece

11:35 a.m.

Steps headed back now...

Second piece

Here is the second piece, and the rain barrel tables.


11:16 a.m.

The first piece is in place!

My ipe was delivered!

First yoga platform footprint

Putting my excess nervous energy to use -- can't stand to watch the steps installation, so I am doing some platform prep.

One inch

10:15 a.m.

It's too tall; shortening the legs one inch.

9:38. Power lines were challenging.

9:10 a.m.

Here we go... Slowly

8:30 a.m.

Forklift is here. Yikes.

Old stairs gone!

Forklift just arrived.

The stairs are here!

Waiting for the forklift and Mark and his crew.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Leaky Faucet

The little "hot" and "cold" labels on the tops of my bathroom sink faucets have been upside down since I moved in.  They were on the proper faucets, but irritatingly the text faced the wall.  Over the months I made a few half hearted attempts to unscrew the top thing that holds in the white porcelain round, but honestly?  I didn't try all that hard.

Also an on-going issue is that the cold water handle leaks.  I have a white pedestal sink and there was a perpetual rust colored ring around the fixture.  Before expected company arrived, I'd take the time to get out various implements like old toothbrushes and a razor blade in combination with the beloved Bon Ami; but I in no way stayed on top of it.  I mean, c'mon, it was perpetual.

I got out my home repair but it wasn't terribly helpful.   Then over this past weekend I started unscrewing anything that I could unscrew, and enlisted Red's assistance.  He was more successful at dismantling than I was, and here is what was revealed:

And I'll tell you that before those photos were taken, substantial clean up happened.  When we first lifted up the fixture to remove it, about 3 tablespoons of this black chunky water flowed out.  Ewww!  I brush my teeth right there every day!  Totally disgusting.  We dutifully took photo documentation, and headed out.  Dinner, we said, and then Home Depot. 

Well, we forgot.  We remembered dinner, of course, and then Red dropped me off at home, and I went about my evening.  Until, oh, about 12:30 a.m. when I decided to brush my teeth and hit the rack.  Which is when I flipped on the bathroom light and there it was.  Now it was dry, and crusty.  Lovely!  Fortunately we had only taken apart the cold water -- the hot still worked.

Fast forward to today.  Let's thank whomever determined that presidents deserved a day of recognition, because Red was off work all day today, and I only had to work a half day.  I called him to announce my unexpected afternoon off and was met with his muffled voice -- he was on his back under the pedestal sink.  Bless his heart. 

He had it dismantled, and we went to a locally owned plumbing supply store.  They were very helpful and knew immediately what was called for.  The downside was, it was $55 per part, per faucet, and I needed two.  Ouch.  But onward!  Upward!

Now when you come over you'll see this pristine sight:

And I'll know that there isn't any sludge hiding underneath.  Always a good thing.

They aren't new, but ...

Ultimately I want to replace the French doors in my kitchen that go outside, but it isn't currently in the budget.  I would like new doors that are wood, not painted metal, and I would like windows in them that do not have the grid-like panes in them.  Oh, and somehow I would like a screen.  I have no idea what type of door would include all of that criteria, but I know for sure that even if it does exist, it doesn't exist in my budget.

As a stop gap, I decided to paint the exterior of the doors.  For some unknown reason they were painted maroon.  Not a single other thing on the house is maroon...  And with the new steps coming day after tomorrow, immediate action was required.  I for sure didn't want to paint the doors AFTER the new steps were in:  I'd undoubtedly drip paint on the new steps.

I looked in the shed (my goodness, what a nicely organized paint shelf!) and spied what I believed to be the house trim paint can.  Score!  And also a can of interior/exterior super powered Kilz.  I scrubbed the doors down, let them dry, and painted on Kilz.  Even the blindingly white flat white was quite an improvement. 

I powered onward, with the beige-y color.  I can't tell if it isn't the same color as the house trim, or, the more likely scenario, the house trim is extremely faded and dusty.  But if I can't tell and I'm standing right in front of the door, then it seems unlikely that anyone else will notice that it isn't an exact match, either.  Score again.  And regardless -- beige is way better than maroon.  (No offense to my Aggie friends, I promise.) 


New paint

Old paint. 
Don't be fooled; they did not match the gutters above; that's a trick of light.


This morning I got  a phone call from Mark at the steel fabrication company.  When could he come to scope out where they will be installing the steps?  My answer?  "I am at your disposal."  He said he could be at my house in 40 minutes.

And he was.  He was a great guy and basically told me not to worry about anything and that they would be at my house at 8 a.m. on Wednesday morning if that was okay.  Okay?  Is it okay?  Um, yes.  I am very okay with Wednesday morning.

He is a little concerned about my overhead power lines in my backyard and how they will get under them.  And he said he isn't sure the 18-wheeler that will deliver one of these

will even fit down my street.  He said they may have to park the truck somewhere nearby and drive the Sky Trak to my house.  Amusing.

Lumber is being delivered Wednesday. 

Vic and The Magic Van will be at my house Thursday morning for lumber installation.

I'll probably barely sleep Tuesday night.


My back steps are going to be installed  t h i s  w e e k.  THIS.  WEEK.  I'll find out today which day that will be.  As soon as I hear, I'll call and arrange for my ipe' lumber to be delivered, and line up Vic and The Magic Van for lumber installation.

Also this weekend I used wooden stakes and string to outline my 3 yoga platforms, and the decking outside my workshop.  I want to have a few days to look at the outlines and consider the new layout before I make them permanent.

GOAL:  To have at least one yoga platform built before my sister arrives March 5th.  It will be a push, but it might happen.  You've gotta have goals!

Things are happening, folks, things are happening.


When I had the party at my house a few weeks ago, a neighbor loaned me her backyard patio furniture to put on my porch for the weekend.  Until that time, I had consistently said I didn't want furniture out there -- I wanted a wide open space with a big rug on it because I am a floor person.  I just love sitting on the floor.   But her wicker loveseat was just so cozy... and cushion-y... and, well...  I'm apparently not quite as much of a floor person as I thought, because that 48 hour period changed my mind.

The hunt was on last week for inexpensive furniture.  Inexpensive, because I'm not totally sure it's not going to get stolen off my porch...  the shrubs sort of hide it from full on view, and I think I'm going to loosely tether it down just to make it a little more difficult to cart away.

There was a matching table available at the store too, but it was rectangular, and a little too large.  And it was more expensive than the love seat!  So my two tree stumps are once again repurposed, and now they are earthy ottomans.  Perfect!

After unloading the truck, unwrapping the furniture and cutting off approximately 200 paper tags, my neighbors and I immediately began lounging yesterday afternoon -- we sat out there laughed and carried on while we admired our shopping skills.*  And then another neighbor showed up with home made finger sandwiches, scones, and this marvelous fig spread (she was all set up for a small person tea party and had extra sandwiches -- divine --and how generous!)  And then a while later Red stopped by and as he put his feet up, he gave his whole-hearted approval of the new set up.  I'm just going to say... it is amazingly comfortable.  I'm going to be living out there.

* And by skills, I include a strong cardio-vascular system.  I bought the set at Garden Ridge (which my neighbor constantly calls "Garden City" so appropriate that it makes me laugh -- a store I normally steer clear of because it is just too huge -- and wow -- let's talk about store organization: 

The patio furniture and the cushions are sold separately -- not even the display set of the furniture had cushions on it -- and they are separated by about a quarter of a mile of mass produced merchandise.  Aisle after aisle after aisle of a craptastic (to borrow a favorite phrase from a friend of mine) extravaganza.   

Once we were through making a cushion selection, we could have added a couple of miles to our daily cardio tally.**    I'll give Garden Ridge snaps because there was a plethora of fabrics and shapes to choose from.  When we were done, several discarded cushions were on the display set and golly gee, if people weren't stopping and trying them out!  Seems like we should get some type of commission for their upcoming sales, don't you think?

** Additionally, to help the cashier at checkout, and to prevent a mass revolt by all the people in line behind us, at one point I ran the full length of the store carrying a wicker chair over my head.  Considering that I was dressed for weeding in my yard and not shopping in public, undoubtedly that was a sight to behold.  I wish I could say that explains why my fellow shoppers cleared a path for me, but they were completely oblivious to what was happening around them.