Sunday, November 29, 2009

Oh, the weather outside is frightful...

... but the fire is so delightful.

The sky spit a bit of snow Friday, but nothing noteworthy. Still, I used it as an excuse to hang the sunflower seed bird feeder on Saturday. The sparrows thank me.

Since the weather was not conducive to outdoor activities, I busied myself with a few indoor ones. Besides the above fire, I baked bread, the old-fashioned way. In other words, no bread machine.

The yeast was a bit old, but it managed to muster a good yeasty smell and some bubbles, enough to produce a couple of whole wheat loaves.

They are a bit dense, but definitely tasty...

... especially with red raspberry spread, purchased (along with some apples) from Cook's Orchard.

Cook's Orchard is embarrassingly close to where I live, and yet I had no idea it was there. Some out-of-town visitors wondered if there were a place nearby where they could buy sauce apples, and the Internet pointed us to Cook's. Their cider is wonderful.

Progress on the laundry room continues, albeit a bit slowly. The painters came last week, so the ceiling is white and the walls "Antique".

I had some paint from last year's construction project, enough for the trim ("Architectural Off White") and the door ("Oatmeal"), and I thought the third leftover can contained "Khaki" to clean up the old laundry area, but no. I got a little panicky because I did not have the paint sample for that color anymore, but my SO and I canvassed Home Depot and Lowe's, and found it. Whew!

Of course, there are still problems, the current (HA) one being the outlet in the above photo. It is a GFI outlet that is tied into the same circuit as the laundry room light and fan, but it keeps tripping. This is particularly troublesome because I plan to plug in a freezer there. Freezers work best if they have an uninterrupted source of power, so this definitely needs to be rectified.

Tuesday the floor is to be laid, then the trim installed, then more painting. And then? Final inspections. (Cue ominous music.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

If I will cook, they will come

Our traditional T-day menu:

Crudites (that's fancy-talk for carrot and celery sticks)
Roast turkey (duh)
Gravy (from a jar)
Mashed potatoes
Sweet and sour green beans
Stuffing (Stove Top)
Deviled eggs
Crescent rolls (Pillsbury)
Pecan pie

Not very original, but no one complains.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And we have Spanish lace

It has yet to be painted, but at least it is up.

For comparison purposes, here is the popcorn ceiling:

It's difficult to take meaningful photos of flat surfaces, but take my word for it, the Spanish lace looks much nicer.

Seed catalog number THREE arrived yesterday: Totally Tomatoes. I want to grow enough tomatoes to can sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato juice. I'm tempted to get at least one open-pollinated variety and try saving the seeds, just for grins and giggles.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cardinals eat yucca seeds!

Several male cardinals were spotted in the asplenifolia, and what they were doing is eating the seeds from the burst pods on the nearby yucca plant. One winter I saw a downy woodpecker pecking at the dead yucca flower stalks, so I stopped cutting them down in the fall. Now I have another reason not to be such a neatnik about the yard.

The laundry room finally passed all the preliminary inspections, so the drywallers came on Friday.

From the outside of the room, looking in:

Inside, including scraped ceiling:

The new alcove for the doorway, with the service panel technically outside of the laundry room:

The inspector liked this solution to the service panel problem.

The drywallers said they were coming back today, for the next step, but no one showed. *sigh* At least they did not interrupt the Colts game (we won! again!)

Seed catalog number two arrived Friday as well: Seed Savers Exchange. I bought garlic from them this year, and am looking forward to sampling more of their offerings. In fact, I'm ready to start gardening right NOW. Well, almost.

P.S. I decided to allow anonymous commenters again, but am moderating all comments. We'll see how that works out.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The First

No sooner had I mentioned seed catalogs than one arrived in my mailbox, from a place I've never heard of: Pinetree Garden Seeds. Their introductory note is basically an apology for their lousy service from last year (they were a victim of their own success) and a promise to do better. Ordinarily, that would put me off, but leafing through the pages, I see things that most gardening catalogs do not offer:

* Tobacco seeds (not that I am going to grow tobacco)
* Soap making supplies (not that I am going to make soap, although that might be fun)
* Hop rhizomes (something I've considered, for the beer-brewing members of my family)
* Green manure seeds (definitely interested in this)
* Dyeing herbs (oh, yeah!)
*Seeds for foreign varieties of vegetables: French, Italian, Continental, Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern (YUM!)

Already, I'm going "I want that and that and that and THAT and..." I wonder if one of my neighbors would let me turn their backyard into an annex for my garden.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Baby steps

The worker guys were here yesterday. The toilet was turned, the studs for the alcove erected, the light/fan switch moved, and the door will swing the other way. I went ahead and bought the sink, so that was there to provide reference, and the plumber offered to hang it as well as attach the legs, to make it extra sturdy.

Today the electrical inspector came and - YAY - we passed. Whew! Tomorrow the framing inspector is supposed to do his thing. Then we will be ready for insulation and drywall. Knock on wood.

Christmas catalogs have started to arrive. Can seed catalogs be far behind?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

At loose ends

Now that my weekends are not spent almost totally in the yard, I don't know what to do with myself. Not that there aren't still things to do outside. Yesterday I gave up on the fall snap peas - they bloomed but never podded - and lasagna-gardened that last bed. Other than hoping to steal some leaves from a neighbor, I consider the garden done for the year.

The greenery on the right are rhubarb and herbs, the straw next to it the garlic.

Other tasks this weekend included raking the few leaves that are in my backyard, primarily so I can spot the doggy-doo when on poop patrol; protecting more plantings from winter rabbit damage (poultry netting is my friend!); and raking up the detritus from the hostas and lilies.

I have become quite the viburnum fan. I love the fall color of the 'Chicago Luster'.

And after reading about not-Canada thistles in A Weed By Any Other Name, I'm letting this fellow grow.

Hopefully, next year it will reward us with a lovely bloom. Which I will destroy before it goes to seed. After all, I don't want a thistle farm.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A man's perspective

I learned from one of my guy friends on FB why toilets and service panels do not mix: a person who can use the toilet and touch the service panel at the same time could theoretically complete a circuit. My first thought was how a person SITTING on the toilet in my laundry room could accomplish that, but then I realized the not all of us SIT when using the toilet, in which case, yes, the service panel is within reach. I also have to assume that the reason such a code exists is somebody actually did this. In my Book of Life's Rules, that comes under the chapter titled "Just Thinning the Herd".

Anyway, the 30-inch toilet clearance is side-to-side, not front-to-back, so yes, they plan to turn the toilet 90 degrees, a task the plumber says is EASY. If they switch the door around, everything should be copacetic. We are having another powwow early Monday morning, and maybe by the end of the day, we will be ready for another inspection. Yay.

Meanwhile, I am going to clean and reorganize the garage so I can get my car in it, because it is getting frosty at night.

P.S. All my blogs are getting spam from "anonymous" commenters. So I am going to disallow anonymous comments, to see if that eliminates this pesky problem

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Is this common knowledge?

Today my SO agreed to housesit and let the inspectors in, should they show up. First one in the door was the electrical inspector. Ruh-roh. The toilet and the service panel cannot be inside the same room. Wha'?

It never occurred to me that this would be a problem. Apparently, it did occur to the people doing the work, but when they originally called the city's building inspectorship department, they were given a (tentative?) okay. When the inspector saw the results in real life, though, he said, Sorry, no can pass.

We (the worker guys and I) discussed a few alternatives, one being very expensive, the other being okay but kind of funky (and would not cost me anything extra). They want to recess the doorway into the new laundry room so that TECHNICALLY the service panel will not be in the same room as the toilet. Getting one's bottom onto the toilet will be a tight squeeze, but within allowable limits, which they claim is 30".

Hmmm. I just checked the online catalog for the toilet I picked out. It is 27.5" deep, which would leave the user 2.5" knee room. That doesn't sound like very much.

The guys are supposed to come to the house and draw on the floor just what they are envisioning. The room is 72" wide. I hope there will be more than 30" for the toilet.

Addendum: Home now. The only way their scheme will work is if they turn the toilet 90 degrees from its current intended location. And the door will have to swing the other way, out of the room instead of into it. Storage is more important to me that having a third toilet in my house, so I am also okay with simply keeping the room as it is, sans toilettes. Further discussion to ensue.

At least we passed the heating inspection.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Inspections conniption

For some reason, my contractor and his sub-contractors do not understand the building inspection process. I discovered this when the framing inspector showed up last Friday. The plumbing has been inspected and there is a green tag to prove it, but the framing inspector needed to see evidence that the heating and electrical inspections had passed as well. He explained that he cannot allow the drywall to be installed until those inspections have occurred because the drywall would impede said inspections. Duh.

As far as I know, the contractor has not requested heating and electrical inspections. What is up with that? They did not want to bother with building permits, which is a big fat red flag to me, the consumer. Apparently, they are also trying to circumvent the inspection process, another red flag. If they had just done things the way they should have been done in the first place, we would be past the initial inspections by now.

This is the same outfit that built the West Wing last year. That was a big project and there were very few problems, so I felt safe using the same company for this project. I think I will be satisfied with the final results, but the process is grating on my nerves. For such a simple job, they are sure making things difficult.

P.S. When I arrived home tonight, the "general" building permit posted on the garage door had been joined by two more permits. I hope that is a good sign.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I stand corrected. I think.

The contractor, the carpenters/electricians, and the plumbers all attended a pow-wow at my house yesterday morning. The c/e's took pains to show me that the floor heights were just right, and they did not treat me like a crazy lady. At least, not while I was still there. We all went over what remains to be done, and I left for work, reassured that these guys are professionals. Denial is a good thing.

Today when I came home, I discovered that this...

... had been transformed into this.

And this...

... is now this.

The washer and dryer are not hooked up yet - they will be by this weekend, when I need to do some laundry - but I am pleased. Sort of. It's funny how a vision rarely translates perfectly into reality. The room seems smaller than I imagined, the door is not quite where I expected it to be, the area outside the new laundry room seems to have awkward dimensions (i.e. is a freezer going to fit in there?) It will take some getting used to, I guess.

The best thing, though? I will have somewhere besides the main bathroom to put the cat litter box.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Signs of November

The burning bush:

Under the burning bush:

The asplenifolia:

Under the asplenifolia:

The maple tree:

Under the maple tree:

And ornamental grasses:

(Don't tell the others, but the sea oats are my favorite!)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Measure once, cut twice

I have some major, MAJOR concerns about my new laundry area. Or rather, with those working on the laundry area. These concerns are beyond the question of whether a building permit was necessary (I insisted) and beyond the fact the work did not pass said building inspection. My current concerns are of the arithmetic kind.

At the beginning, the contractor suggested that the doorway from the new room to the rest of the house be cut last, to minimize the migration of dust into my living quarters. I wondered (unfortunately, not out loud) how the carpenters would verify the height of the new floor would match the height of the floor in the house, but hey, that's what tape measures are for, right?

When they first framed the floor, I thought it looked kind of high, but I measured and it seemed close enough. So again, I did not say anything. Now that they have laid the plywood on top of the joists, the floor looks really high. Again, I measured it and there is a good 1" difference, with the subflooring and Durastone yet to be added. A tripping hazard if I ever saw one, and definitely not according to plan.

Friday they also delivered the door. The door that, including the frame, measures 33" wide. There is a pipe (the stack?) going up the wall where the door is to be installed, which allows only 29" for the doorway. Seriously. Unless that pipe is part of the old plumbing and destined to be removed, the door is simply not going to fit.

I am the first one to admit that my construction skills are nil (which is why I hire people to do my home improvements), so maybe, just maybe there is some kind of magical explanation for these whacky measurements. If not, this project is a big FAIL and will require a DO OVER. Oh, and did I mention I am on Angie's List? Heh.

On a brighter note, my SO and I once again spent the afternoon in the backyard (and the weather was perfect), him finishing off the mulch pile and me continuing to put the garden to bed. Mission accomplished, on both fronts. I can't express how grateful I am for his help. He not only does the heavy lifting, but because he is helping, I work harder than I would if left to my own devices. Thanks, hon!