Monday, June 16, 2008

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly....

It seems like any project undertaken around here drags on for an eternity... I have still not finished painting the inside of the house ( it was "supposed" to be done before we moved in) but the thought of dragging out the drop cloth and paint cans gives me hives. It also doesn't help that the trim waiting for its second coat is in our TV /Guest room which is home to a antique shop assortment of furniture, only some of which is actually serving a purpose. On the drawing board is a glorious wall of bookshelves/ work desk for the end wall which would actually give us a place to properly store our collection of books and other assorted stuff, but its down the list. Way Down. At least until I can't stand it anymore and actually get the thing designed and built..

The other eternal project around here ( other than my rants) is the #@$^&!! sprinkler system. Being blessed with a corner lot (with a front row seat to the endless array of near collisions) and a really Long parkway strip between the street and the sidewalk which needs to be sprinkled so I have nice green grass and shady trees rather than dirt rocks and weeds. With the lousy ground I am cursed with here (calling it soil or dirt is being too nice) I can only trench about 15 feet a night after work and install a single sprinkler head. I have two more to go one one side and then I get to move to the front of the house where I have 4 tree stumps to get rid of and then trench and run pipe... After that I can actually do the front yard itself, by which time it should be November ( I will NOT say what year) .

The Good. The bright spot is that I do have one of the flowerbeds along the side of the house done, and with the roses, foxgloves and delphiniums planted and the whole thing mulched , it actually looks nice. One needs to have a finished area, no matter how small to feel better about where it is headed.

The Bad.... (Those are the rocks I have dug up so far)

The Ugly. The sad, sad, backyard. I always wanted a backyard, I just hadn't planned on the piles of scrap metal, piles of concrete and waist high weeds) The view in the photo is the future home of a nice brick patio for martini hour... Seeing this picture makes me want a martini NOW...
Well, we have to get the before pictures from somewhere right? Its just nicer when you can blame the before on the Previous Owners, although in the case of this place they left us lots of really interesting surprises.....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Somtimes, you should listen to the little voices in your head.

Tonight was one of those nights where everything that could go wrong with a project did... an spectacularly so. I managed to burn my hands, my arm hair, and buy a tool I already had.
This project actually is a result of my ongoing sprinkler installation, and happened because I located the main waterline with the pick ax last week. Who knew that the #%##^#^ that installed the new waterline would put it three inches below the surface where I would mistake it for a rock, that was until the "rock" started trickling water. since I just dented it where the pipe goes into an elbow, and it was a very small leak, I decided to ignore it and continue my sprinkler line and get to it later or I secretly hoped it would plug itself up. Well, I decided that today was the day I was going to fix the bugger, and on the way home, something told me to put it off another day. I ignored that thought and went to Home Depot, got my copper fittings, came home, turned off the water , dug up the line and set to work heating the joint so I could pop off the solder..and so 20 minutes later the solder still had not popped and so I resorted to cutting the pipe on one end thinking I could heat the joint and wiggle it off. after another 20 minutes the elbow actually deformed and started to soften from the heat, but it was firmly attached to the other line, which could not be cut because it runs under the sidewalk. I was using another piece of copper pipe slipped into the cut off side, but it heated up and burned my hand. Finally, the cut off side Fell off because of the heat and used a pair of pliers to wrench the ^%^^&$^$ elbow off, and finally, after all that it came off a twisted and contorted mess. So, it now being 7:15pm, I cut the new section, prepped the surfaces for soldering, and slipped them onto the pipes in the ground. I had incorrectly measured a bit, so it all came off, got re-cut and went back on, ready to be soldered. I fire up the torch, and as I tip it to touch the fittings, a FIREBALL comes up and singes my arm hair. No matter how may times I take the head of the torch off, blow it out, etc it shoot out flames. Thinking I am maybe running out of gas, I get another canister from the basement and encounter the same issue. At this point is almost 8PM and with no water so in a panic, I got back to Home Depot, buy a new torch, get back, and the new one does the same thing. I try a variety of positions and it finally starts working normally, all though the flame is not as consistent and keeps blowing out. I solder the four joints, and then turn on the water - now the trickle is a dribble in a different spot and I am DONE for the night since its slightly better than before.. I think I will try again next week.....In the meantime, back to digging trenches for sprinklers and pulling up more rocks.....

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Well, I am both very excited and little guilty at the same time for my latest purchase. I have been focus on the sprinkler and landscaping project, and this week I finished the first flowerbed along the side of the house. I got five roses planted along with several foxgloves and delphiniums and put in a nice border of blue lobeila, which will grow in to big masses of brilliant blue flowers. The mulch is down, so I won't have to worry about the soil drying out or weeds, so it should prove to be both beautiful and low maitenece
The naughty purchase was a result of a trip to our local salvage yard to get materials for Steve's latest purchase - a 1926 bungalow with river rock columns that will be rented out.
Out of the deal I am ending up with the houses claw foot tub, sans the claw feet. By 1926, Claw feet were very old fashioned and so a resourceful builder boxed in the tub and tiled it in, which was redone in the 1960's with neat mosaic tile but had suffered terrible water damage. In any case, the as much as we love the old tubs, the hardware is non standard and they are harder to maintain, so we have decided to remove the tub and replace it with a standard tub/shower unit. The claw foot will be installed here at some point, as I want to restore the bath back to 1910. For now, we will store it until I am ready to redo the bath.

In any case, as I am innocently looking at replacement bedroom doors for his house, I spotted the PERFECT front door for this house - It was exactly what I had envisioned and lovely. So I measured it, convinced it would not fit, and came home only to find IT was a perfect fit. So although we are on a tight budget & front door replacement projects are way down on the list, I dreamed about the door all week and so we went down today and I bought it....So now, I just have to repair the lock holes ( someone drilled a hole for a deadbolt) and replace the front door frame ( As is the case with ever other door frame in the house, it has been massacred) But its fabulous. We got it home, and before we hiked it down to the basement for repairs, I set it in its new home and wow do I love it....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

And we have moved to the great outdoors...

Boy, its been awhile since my last post, but we have made lots of progress! I have installed the first Sprinkler zone on the side of the house, and in the process removed about five tons of river rock, and broken through very tough clay. This is the worst soil I have encountered ever, so the next step is massive amounts of compost and peat moss, and maybe a few sacks of manure for good measure. I have my roses in pots in the back yard, and added some foxglove, delphiniums hydrangias, and last night I bought a Japanese maple on sale at Lowes for 21.99 - regularly 39.99 so I am a happy camper. It will be nice when I can actully plant them in the yard, as I am having to water my mini Nursery before work every day....
The other good news in that I got the malibu exterior light on Ebay for $35 with shipping. Its over $100 at Home Depot so I am happy...
A few weeks ago I was cleaning out the garage in Long Beach and ran across a few gallons of paint I bought for the Window sashes - I ended up using less than half a gallon on the windows up there so I decided to try it out on this house.
Wow, what a difference! It really makes the house pop. I touched up the area on the front porch where it was enclosed and covered up the turquiose spots. Boy what were they thinking!
In any case, with the holliday weekend, I should finally get the soil ammended and then get most of the plants in the ground. I can't wait!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Wow, how time flies..
I wish i could report that the house is now picture perfect, but I am not THAT delusional...
Instead, I am happy to say I have removed the ugly chain link fence, the wheelchair ramp and three Jade plants. (pictures soon forthcomming). I also been collecting items for the finished yard, including 8 iceberg rosebushes, (On sale at Walmart!)the control panel for the sprinkler (A deal on Ebay!) And sprinkler parts (gift from out Long Beach neighbor), and the coup'd'ete Fabulous exterior lights for 75% off at Home Depot. Awhile back, I had picked out some very expensive path lights that were relegated to the wish list. A few weeks ago, while at Home Depot, we took a walk down the outdoor lighting aisle and I showed Steve the $26 lights I wanted foe the outside. He noticed they were on sale for $4.99!! I bought all they had, and then we went to (ahem) four more locations all over the San Diego area and I bought up all I could find, ending up with 18.... I actually crawled between the shelves at one location and found three addtional. Now I need the $100 transformer... I am channeling the Ebay gods to send me a good deal. Tonight we went to Lowes to get sprinkler heads for the side flowerbeds and they just got a shipment of Hydrangeas and I picked up the three I need for the front of the house for 4.99. Since we got first dibs, we got some really healthy and large plants. I should get them in the ground ummm soon.... Till then, I have my work cut out for me watering my collection of plants in the backyard. Its like I am back working for a nursery again. Look for new pictures coming in the next few days...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chop Chop chop...

Boy, its been awhile since I have posted, and I wish o could report on amazing progress, but then I set down my beer googles and see the disastar we actually live in.
I have made some progress on the outside, I have cut down one tree, and four really ugly bushes so you can finally see the front of the house with its peeling paint and security door.
I have measured the entire property and drawn up a landscape plan, in preparation of installing a sprinkler system. We were at our local Lowes looking at the Rainbird sprinkler display and I saw a display offering a FREE design service for a sprinkler system if you provide measured drawings. Works for me, so I completed all of the info and then sent it off. I was planning to use rainbird anyway, it works out nicely. yay for me. I have also done some resarch and found a program that provides shade trees free of charge if you attend a three hour workshop and meet their requirements ( Is within a certain distance of the house, is a certain variety of tree, etc.)
Little by little the yard is coming together.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Closet and musical sofas

Happy New Year to all!
New Years day was spent undecorating the house, and since I was on the roof, I decided to trim the trees that were overhanging the roof, and cleaning off the debris from the roof shingles. I am sure glad I did - the roof was wet under all of the yuck and it would be a matter of time before we would have a leak. I ended up with a huge pile of branches ( it didn't seem like much when I was cutting it) and most of the walnut tree that is growing from underneath the porch. I hope it get rid of it little by little until I get the whole thing down . Its sad I have to get rid of it, but its undermining the porch and has to go.
Inside, I am building shelves for the front closet and painting 500 miles of pine boards.. what fun! Once I get that done, we can put all the junk in the front bedroom IN the closet and we can start using it as a TV/Computer room. After being here a few months, We decided that the front room should be more formal and we will move the Television and overstuffed sofa out and put the vintage carved one we have in the front bedroom in the front room. It is better scaled for the space and wil go better with the rest of the antiques we have in there. Its going to be a busy new year!!