Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


Archive for the ‘landscaping’ Category

Winter Prep List Revisited

Let’s take a look at the list I made myself back in October or something.  I don’t think I’ve done very well.  🙁

  • Install gutter apron (PRIORITY ONE, ASAP) DONE!!!
  • Finish landscaping wall some progress made
  • Transplant hostas and ferns  not even close
  • Make kindling bundles out of the sticks in the backyard  Does breaking some big sticks into smaller sticks count?
  • Borrow a chainsaw and cut the logs that are too big for the wood burning stove  Found a couple friends with chainsaws!
  • Finish the shed or at the very least gather all the pieces and move them inside Yeah, no. Snow covering all the pieces we left outside. 

*Sigh.*  I need a better list.

Winter is coming!!!

I know it’s still a little ways off, but I have a whole list of projects, some of which I’d like to complete before winter, some that MUST be completed.

  • Install gutter apron (PRIORITY ONE, ASAP)
  • Finish landscaping wall
  • Transplant hostas and ferns
  • Make kindling bundles out of the sticks in the backyard
  • Borrow a chainsaw and cut the logs that are too big for the wood burning stove
  • Finish the shed or at the very least gather all the pieces and move them inside

Let’s see how many of these I can finish before the first snow.

[tags]wood burning stove, gutters, yardwork, retaining wall, landscaping, future plans[/tags]

“Oh wall, oh sweet and lovely wall…”

I saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed in the natural theater in Greenwood Park last week. It was wonderful! But my favorite performace of Pyramus and Thisby will always be The Beatles performing it.

Meanwhile, I’ve begun building a wall myself! I’m afraid I’ll be pretty embarassed when my uncle, the landscape architect comes over to take a look at it, but it’s my first try so there’s lots of room for improvement. I don’t really know what I’m doing.





[tags]photos, landscaping, yardwork, retaining wall[/tags]

Pictures from the weekend… and beyond!

I told you about scraping the wallpaper in the front bedroom. Here’s a picture of my progress so far:

I also told you about Grandma persevering at scraping the wallpaper in the living room and dining room:

Yesterday and today she worked on that and now she’s only got one little section left before she’s all done. Unbelievable!

Yesterday I sallied forth to Menards to find the coupling I needed to hook the shower extension onto my tub. Silly me, I thought I could measure both ends, walk in, find the piece I needed, and have made a successful trip. Not so. Trouble is I suck at measuring, so I bought the wrong size coupling. I had one coupling that had been used to attach a hand held spray nozzle and I knew that one end of that fit into the faucet. So when I went back I took that coupling with me. I also took the shower extension with me since I didn’t trust myself to eyeball it any better. I couldn’t get the threaded end of the shower extension to fit any of the couplings they had! So I asked a trusty Menards associate. He scratched his head, tried to fit the threaded end into a few more couplings, had no success, scratched his head some more, and consulted with his youthful protege. “Looks like garden hose thread, not pipe thread,” the lad said. “Maybe it’s metric,” the elder pondered. I took back my shower extender and took another close look at it. I scraped away some of the pipe tape that had crustified around the joint and discovered that the oddly threaded coupling was actually screwed into what appeared to be 1/2″ pipe thread! “Have either of you got a wrench handy?” I asked. We found a wrench and the stronger of the two associates gave it a few good turns and sure enough, the odd coupling (sorry for the bad pun) came out and I was left with a perfectly standard 1/2″ pipe thread which would fit perfectly onto the coupling I started with in the first place!

So here it is connected:

As swimmingly as that all worked out, it is actually a little too short for my tallish husband so I’ll be looking for another section of pipe to extend it a bit, but for now, he’ll just have to stoop a little.

So now on to more recent developments:
It rained in Des Moines today. A lot. When I got home one of the downspouts had come detached from the gutter and was streaming water straight down at my foundation! I got up on the ladder and hammered a nail into it as a temporary fix, only to find that the downspout was leaking a stream of water from the elbow. I took the elbow apart and surprise surprise, it was totally clogged with years of composted leaves. Yummy. In the process I re-sliced open the cut on my hand from the razor blade, so I’m putting that wound on infection-watch. Don’t worry, I’m current on my tetanus shot. After I got that whole contraption put back together I still had a big pool of water threatening to seep down into the foundation, so I took the bricks the chimney sweeps had removed from our chimney and used them to displace some of the water. I don’t think it really did all that much, but it was a way for me to at least feel like I was trying in a futile situation. When I got back inside I looked like a soggy sewer rat. BUT! I noticed when I was changing into dry clothes that a mud splatter had landed on my face and looked JUST LIKE Marilyn Monroe’s beauty mark. My grandma said I should leave it on, but I had to wipe my face.

The good news is that there wasn’t much water in the basement at all. Just a couple damp spots on the inner foundation wall where water was starting to seep in, but nothing like the puddles we found when we first bought the place.

While Grandma worked away upstairs I went down to the basement to start picking out the recyclable copper wire from the pile the electricians left me.
That was a dirty job because the cloth covered wires were all coated with several decades’ worth of coal dust.

Mmm sooty:

Here’s a really scary connection I found in the wire I was untangling. Remind me again why my house didn’t burn down long before I ever had a chance to buy it…

My bucket o’wire for Craig. He’s going to burn off the insulation and take the remaining copper to a metal recycle shop and they’ll apparently give him money for it. Can’t be that much, but hey, recycling rocks in all its forms. I admire his motivation.

Since I was already in the basement with my camera I thought I’d poke around some of the nooks and crannies that having a digital camera makes it so much easier to explore. Most of the original foundation of our house was built of these hollow cinder blocks. Where they come together at a corner or at the end of a wall, they often open sideways into a series of little pigeon holes. My grandfather used to store tools and owners manuals and things in the ones in his house on E. 14th St., so I thought I’d see if there were any little treasures left behind in my walls.

I found a spool, or something resembling one:

I found a ginormous rusty nail:

And I found several pockets of coal left behind in the furnace room:

Once I’d grown tired of spelunking in my basement I went back upstairs to clean up a bit and feed the cats before fleeing to my mom’s house to take a shower. I actually found a pre-made shower curtain rail that is big enough to encircle my WHOLE tub, but I need help installing it so until that’s up, no showers at my own house yet.

Phew! This post has been a doozy. I’m ready for bed.

P.S. Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day! I wonder how many people will blog in pirate-speak today.

Another morning with the contractors

We had a very productive, very awesome morning with the two people we asked to give us quotes today.

First the electrician came and he was super professional, friendly, and really knew how to deal with our house. In fact, by the time I got in to work he had already emailed me a fully itemized quote, with everything we talked about on site, AND his total price for everything is exactly what we were hoping to budget for initially, right around $5,000. Of course, we have a little extra money available should unexpected things come up, but he seemed really confident in how smoothly this job would go. We will probably get a third electrical quote, just for good measure, but this guy has all but won the bid already.

The chimney sweeps came next at 9:30. There were two people, the person who owns the business and her assistant of seven years, who is also fully certified. They did their inspection and then we sat in the air conditioned living room to discuss our options. This company offered two solutions: 1.) insert a stainless steel liner through the chimney and get it working as a traditional fireplace, or 2.) install a wood burning stove insert with a lined chimney pipe for increased energy efficiency. There would only be a difference of a couple hundred dollars between the two choices, so after hearing all about the stove insert and how it works and all the options we have with it (it does have the option to look like a regular fireplace if you want that ambiance) we’re leaning toward that. Either way, the work will cost just under $4000, which is GREAT for our budget.

After everybody else left, Brandon and I went outside to measure for building our retaining wall planting beds on the south side of the house. I had forgotten my tape measure, but we found a yard stick inside left by the previous owner, so while Brandon walked the area measuring with the yard stick, I wrote down the measurements on a diagram. I’m going to take that information tonight and start drawing a (mostly) to scale diagram of how these will be laid out so we can plan for how much it’s going to cost.

It was so much fun going through everything with Brandon. He’s really caught the enthusiasm to get started now too.

(Excited squeal and happy dance!!!)

[tags]budget, chimney, contractors, electricity, fireplace, landscaping, retaining wall[/tags]

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