Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Three More Leaks Fixed

So far this morning we've had 3 more gas line leaks fixed.

Last evening we had one fixed (while the kids and I were at the Muny). The plumber was really kicking himself this morning for not re-checking the entire line -- every single join -- while he was here last night. Although 2 of the 3 leaks this morning were on already existing joins -- I guess maybe they jarred loose during the new piping installation? Really, I've no clue.

Here's what I know -- I'd really, really like to sleep tonight. You know, go to bed at a decent time, in sort of a carefree, calm manner built on the security of knowing that everything is going okay.

Right now someone is actually installing the stove. Which I guess could cause another leak if something goes wrong with that. But I'm really over the gas leak thing. It no longer bothers me. The past couple of days have been sort of like a giant desensitization therapy session for that.

But don't worry -- I have plenty of other things I obsess about. S the loss of this particular obsession isn't going to leave a gaping hole in my life. Like, what if one of the tires fell off the car while I'm driving? (Actually, Uncle Chelsea explained to me how to handle that if it happens -- RULE #1: DON'T USE YOUR BRAKES -- so I'm a little calmer about it, but still sort of tend to ponder it whenever I'm zipping along the highway.)

Monday, June 29, 2009

It is Now Midnight

Thalia, Annabeth, and I just got home from the Muny -- we went to see Annie.

Walked in the house and the kids immediately held their noses because it smells so strongly of gas.

We got Rick out of bed. He shut off the valve. I hope it was the right one.

Yowza. It's not really easy to just plop into bed and go to sleep under the circumstances.

We Haven't Blown Up Yet

A few years ago I read a news story about someone doing something with a gas line in a house, and then leaving the house empty (no people moving in and out) for a few days, and then the house blew up because of a gas leak.

This has always stuck with me. In a bad way.

So when it came time to run the gas line for the new gas stove, I spent an evening beforehand online reading stories about exploding houses. Because, of course, that's the best way to spend your time if you're worried your house is going to blow up.

I mentioned this to Linda last week. At the time I thought they were going to run the gas line that afternoon, and that she might be the last person I ever talked to since both kids and Rick were out of the house for the day, leaving me alone in the explosive house. She was very sympathetic. Then she asked if we really did have a horrible accident, could she please have my ticket to Mary Poppins at the Fox, since I wouldn't be needing it.

So. This morning they finally did the gas line. And all day I kept thinking I smelled gas. But then I thought maybe I was just being a bit hyper about it. But when we got home from piano Annabeth commented that the front hall smelled like gas to her with no prompting from me whatsoever. Later I ran an errand ... and when I got back the front door was open.


When I came in the contractor said, "You've got a gas leak." Wow. He had turned the gas off, and called to have it taken care of.

Yowza. Does this mean I should start making psychic predictions? After all, when we bought the new dryer I accurately predicted that the little knob would break off within a couple of years. And now this.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cheap Filler

I'm going through and filling in the gouges in the subfloor left by the ripping up the luon-glue-staples, using cheap wood filler from Lowes. The consistency of the filler reminds me of cookie dough. Butterscotch.

I'm wondering if opening a container of wood filler and immediately thinking of cookie dough could be a sign that I've gone too long without an oven.

Also, we can now track animals in the air conditioned comfort of our kitchen:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Finally Get to do Something Fun in the Kitchen

I've had several hours with no one else at our house today. Which means I've finally had a chance to put something away in all of these spiffy new cabinets.

When we lived in Ohio we had an upper cabinet next to the stove that was for spices -- it had a spice rack built into the door. I thought that was pretty nice, so when the Diamond catalog said they had a spice cabinet I said, "Sure, definitely!" figuring it would be the same thing.

So the cabinet was installed right next to the stove, where it will be handy for cooking,

and we discovered that, no, there weren't little shelves on the inside of the door. Instead, the little shelves are actually inside the cabinet itself

and swing out

to reveal even more little shelves behind.

I sort of want to spend the day alphabetizing the spices, it's just so much fun to put stuff on all these little shelves. If you ever get new cabinets, you gotta get one of these.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shorts Marathon

The challenge: Make 3 pairs of shorts for Thalia to wear during camp this week. She will be leaving Tuesday at 1pm, so we're working on a deadline.

Saturday evening: Purchase fabric at JoAnn's on sale. Thalia wants brown, black, and blue linen. There's no blue linen, so I get some sort of cotton/poly blend in dark blue.

The brown has this interesting detail in the weaving:

The black is nice and thick. I wish I could think of something I want for myself in linen, because this is really fun fabric and it's 60% off.

Sunday: Wash fabric, ignoring care instructions. Trace out size 12 of pattern, as Thalia has grown since last year. Cut out brown pair.

Monday: Pack lunch for Rick. Pack lunch for Annabeth, and take her to dance camp. Stop by grocery on the way home, since lunch-packing has revealed a lack of food in the house. Home, put away groceries, laundry, go mow lawn (at 10am the temperature is 89F and the heat index -- which factors in high humidity -- is 99F). Back in, re-hydrate, deal with phone calls and emails, laundry, discover I've lost the pattern envelope and directions, decide I don't care, begin sewing.

Break at noon to fix lunch. Answer knock on door. It's a couple of contractors. WHAT? We were told no one would be here to work on anything this week! I stare at them blankly. They say they are here to accomplish this and that. I tell them maybe they shouldn't do that because the pipes seem to be run in the wrong place. They say they'll do it anyway, and then just rip the drywall back out if it's wrong (umm, why would you spend time putting joint compound on the drywall while someone is telling you that you're probably going to have to rip it back out in a couple of days? In what universe does this conversation make sense?)

Decide to go out to get something for lunch. Contractors are gone by the time we get home.

Take Thalia to piano lesson.

Home, Thalia tries on Pair 1, decides they fit, so we are good to go on the next pair using the pattern as is.

Go pick up Annabeth from dance camp. They will be having a "wig rehearsal" Tuesday, so we need to have her wig organized for her to take in -- I have no clue if it still has bobby pins hanging in it from the last feis, but we'll deal with that tomorrow morning. Cut out blue shorts. Sew.

Take Thalia to Beginner Class, at which she is a teacher's aide (earning service hours for her Silver Award). Drop her off, discuss various things with the teacher, come home. Make supper.

Rick comes home. He has called the head contractor about the drywall and various other issues. During the conversation he discovers that the plumber and electrician are scheduled to come at 9am Tuesday. Surprise! Too bad no one will be here to let these people in the house, since we were told no one was working here this week and had planned our lives accordingly. He has sorted that out -- they'll come Tuesday afternoon while he's here to let them in and supervise them.

I go pick up Thalia from dance, which is running late. Home. Thalia and I eat. I sew. Blue shorts done. Take Thalia to her dance class (Novice/Open). Stop to pick up more elastic and bias tape at fabric store. Home. Cut out black linen. Sew.

At this point I'm getting fairly good at this pattern, which is a simple one from New Look. Not that I can tell you what number it is, having lost the envelope and all the pattern pieces -- I'm cutting it out from a Pattern-Ease tracing because 1. I altered it, and 2. Pattern-Ease holds up better to multiply cutttings. But, it's just legs and a waistband, with elastic in the waistband and also a drawstring. Buttonholes allow the drawstring through the waistband, and I'm using bias tape in lieu of making my own drawstring. Easy.

Pick up Thalia from her dance class. Come home and start elastic and waistband -- the home stretch. Things start to go wonky. Something is wrong. Egads -- the elastic is totally too short. Also, why have I been fussing around with these waistbands -- why haven't I just finished the inside edge, folded the whole thing down, and then stiched-in-the-ditch from the right side, just as when making trousers?

Up early Tuesday morning, take the waistband apart, put more elastic in, re-sew. Thread bias tape.


Except my camera's fogging up because it's so humid. Let's try getting another shot.

Hey, those shorts are pretty boring. You know what would really make this photo better? Put a cat in it.

As a matter of fact, I think these shorts need my special finishing touch -- a boatload of cat fur.

Monday, June 22, 2009


No one is coming over today to work on the kitchen. Which is exciting because we can have a quiet, dust-free day. But annoying because we still don't have a stove, several light fixtures are missing, and we still turn the lights on and off by unscrewing the bulbs.

Rick gets together with some guys a couple of times each month. They were over Saturday morning and moved our refrigerator into place, so it looks all official now.

That floor vent in front of it is going to be moved. It's always been annoying there, and should've been installed elsewhere in the first place. (This is where the wall ovens used to be, by the way.)

Rick had done the electrical outlet for the refrigerator himself. As to why we were left to do this stuff ourselves instead of having the contractor do it (let alone that no one's coming to work on the kitchen this week), it's a long story involving various disparate elements such as someone quitting and a float trip.

They had left a mess when they stopped work last week. Piles of crud that needed to be swept, a large pile of junk in the kitchen, and the garage was a shambles.

Saed came over to work with Rick to get it all tidied up to the point that we can get the lawn mower out, get to the work bench, etc.

Then they (Rick and Saed) started ripping up the rest of the kitchen floor in preparation to installing the new laminate. I hadn't met Saed before. Really nice guy, very sharp. Doesn't speak much English. He wants to get a job so he can learn English better, since then he'd be around people speaking the language all day; but he can't find a job because he doesn't speak English well. Quite a catch-22. Sometimes we're talking, communicating just fine, and suddenly you realize that the conversation has turned a different direction and you have no idea where it went.

Anyway, the point is, taking up the floor was noisy and dusty. And was going on all weekend. And isn't over yet. We have (right to left) cheap peel-and-stick over vinyl-stuck-to-luon which is thoroughly glued and stapled to the subfloor.

The big pieces are up out of the main areas

but there are still staples and blobs of glued down luon all over, and the laundry room still needs to be done. But no one is working on anything today, which means we can finally catch up on important things like sleeping on the couch

since that's been impossible with all these Scary Guys banging around the place.

Friday, June 19, 2009


The serger fits rather well on the chess table a relative gave Rick years ago.

Granted, there's not a lot of table left to support the fabric, but we're not going to be making anything fancy here -- I just need to get some utilitarian sewing done in the next couple of weeks. So I'm figuring out how to accomplish this in the basement. The lighting isn't the greatest, the table's too small, but so far I've made a blue dress cover for Annabeth for Nationals. Next up: some quick shorts for Thalia that will be used while painting, etc.

And since that photo of the serger-plus-chess table gave you a tantalizing glimmer of our basement decor, I took another photo to give you a bit more:

Hoe-down time! Yeehaw!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kitchen after 2 weeks

After 2 weeks of uproar and pounding we have trim:

(In the picture below, the upper cabinet to the right of the window is new -- there wasn't one in the old kitchen. And that gap below that has a trash bag in it is the future site of the dishwasher.)

(Desk area, which formerly had a cheapy, crappy shelf.)

We have large cabinets replacing the closet, and a bump in the wall for the refrigerator

and we have plumbing for a utility sink, which is something this house never had in spite of the relatively large laundry room

The island is still sort of floating around the room, with the cabinet that belongs above the refrigerator. And no shelves in anything -- several sliding shelves still need to be installed.

Still no glimmer of putting in the stove. This isn't a problem insofar as the oven is concerned -- at 7:30am the temperature is 79F/26C, with a forecast of 95F/35C, and it's so humid the windows are steaming up, so the thought of turning on an oven isn't really appealing -- but it might be nice to have a stovetop.

They measured for countertops last night, so we can hand in those measurements and have the countertops made. The floor is a mess, which we expected -- we're ripping up the old floor and installing laminate.

I am really looking forward to the day when I DON'T have workers hanging around the house all day. I'm also looking forward to putting kitchen things away, rather than having everything all over everywhere.

And the cat is looking forward to having 24/7 access to her favorite litter box, because the other 4 litter boxes we have in the house that are still easily accessible aren't quite good enough to poop in as far as she's concerned. And even though she glowers at the workers with her Eyeballs of Doom, they still stand between her and her litter box.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Work in Progress Wednesday

Last week I decided that since I can't sew right now, what with the kitchen remodel uproar, I should knit some socks. As I was looking through the various sock patterns around the house I noticed the Mirabella Cardigan from Interweave Knits. And realized that it could be made out of Cotton-Ease.

I managed to dig out 3 matching skeins of Cotton-Ease from one of the bins at Michael's, aka "Home of the Orphan Dye Lot", and cast on last week.

Wonderfully mindless, I can knit this while reading a book and pretending that I don't hear all that loud pounding in the kitchen.

I Wash Dishes

I've realized that on one hand I can go a long time without a stove, but on the other hand it's really annoying to wash a cutting board in a bathroom sink. I can think of meals to make using a blender, crockpot, rice steamer, and/or electric skillet -- no stove needed! -- but I haven't had a good way to wash out those larger items.

Yesterday afternoon they re-installed our old kitchen sink:

so after 2 weeks of kitchen renovation I could immerse and scrub things in hot water.

Of course, this involved shutting down the water to the house for a while ... it turned out to be about 3 hours, by which time I was getting twitchy with a desire to wash my hands.

Today: light switches. We've been screwing/unscrewing the light bulbs to turn them on and off.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Indianapolis Feis

Indianapolis presented their 12th feis this past weekend. After so many years they really have it down pat, and it's a very well-run feis. Which was good, because I was totally unfocussed and unable to deal with anything out of the ordinary.

We left for the feis early Friday afternoon (up at 5:30am to try to finish the laundry, since it's almost impossible to do when the kitchen construction crew is here ... a concrete crew arrived at 7am to rip up a sidewalk near us, at which point one of the cats disappeared somewhere outdoors, then the kitchen crew appeared around 8, general building pandemonium while we're trying to pack and locate truant cat ... find a neighbor who is willing to be cat-scout for the weekend, continuing the search ... honestly, I almost forgot to take underwear -- it was that sort of trip) except Thalia got sick on the way there, somewhere in Godforsaken, Illinois (we ran into the ONLY place with a restroom in that entire part of the state, only to meet up with other people from our dance school using the exact same facilities -- weird coincidence) so the trip took a while since from that point on we stopped at every available rest stop just in case.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express at the intersection of 65 and Keystone in the south part of town. Excellent staff there! They really went out of their way to make our stay pleasant. Not many places to eat in the area, though, so we went down to 31S south of 465, which is about 10 minutes away and has every restaurant chain imaginable.

Saturday morning it was just a matter of hopping on 65 North and driving about 10-15 minutes to the Convention Center. Rick dropped us off, then went to park, while we quickly checked in, and set about the business of Getting Ready to Feis. It's really easy to see where you're allowed to dump your stuff and set up camp because they mark it all out with yellow and black tape:

and since there's gobs of room, people abide by it pretty well. There's even room to set up your own camp chairs and watch the stages from them, or you can use the chairs provided. Really a spacious area.

We got off to a great start by making the Best Poof in the History of Poofs:

and also actually managed to put the wig on straight, as a change of pace from Louisville.

Unlike Louisville, though, our scores didn't reflect our awesome poofiness or wig-straightness. Go figure. Annabeth got a 2nd in a dance she flubbed, and that was it for the day for her. Thalia danced extremely well, and got a couple of ribbons. Their teacher was watching, and commented on how well they were dancing. Obviously the judges were looking for something other than what we had.

The scores were posted quickly. I decided I was too lazy to write all the numbers down, so I just took pictures.

We also saw some of the same people we saw in Louisville.

And a brainstorm of Rick's -- we bought lunch from the vendors about a half hour before the lunch break was called, and stored it in a cooler. That meant we didn't have to stand in those long, long lines to get a sandwich at the exact same time about 1000 other people were trying to do the same thing.

Aunt Elaine showed up and stayed for a couple of hours, and had lunch with us.

Afterwards we headed north to spend the night with Mom and Dad. Then on Sunday morning we visited Rick's Mom and Stepdad. Home to discover that yes, the cat-scout had let the correct cat into the house Friday night. What a weekend.

Kitchen Update

We just got back from being out of town for the weekend. We left Friday before the workers were finished, so we didn't get a chance to see how far they'd gotten with the cabinets by the end of the day Friday.

Now we can see that they managed to install the Deluxe Kitty Perch, which has a handy view of the countertops and stovetop.

If you want to install one of these, the cabinet places call them microwave shelves. But we know what they're really good for, right?

Thursday, June 11, 2009


First, bring the cabinets in boxes into the kitchen:

Then the doors are taken off:

The cabinets are attached to each other all nicely squared up

and then lifted up to mount on the wall:

They expected to get a lot more done this afternoon, but had a number of unexpected things. For instance, the corner cabinet isn't true/square -- the installer thinks he can work around it, maybe -- the alternative is to ship it back to the company (Diamond Cabinets from Lowes, if you want to know who lets this sort of thing out the door) and wait for a replacement, which would probably take a couple of weeks.

Paint! Cats!

You know how some cats like to roll in dust? These days the cat can roll in dust without ever leaving the comfort of home:

Black cat in white dust. Pretty funny when you see her trotting around the house with a white butt.

But, more importantly, paint on walls! It's just in the places that won't have cabinets.

Also, paint on ceilings!

You can sort of see the texture of the ceiling in that photo. I think it turned out pretty spiffy. Every place we've lived has had a different texture on the ceiling -- blown in, stomped, smooth, etc. I now know how to do this one -- it involves sand in the paint, which is rolled on, then going back over it with a broom.

Today they'll finish the ceiling (we had the lights put on 3-way switches so we no longer have to walk across the room to turn them on and off -- now we'll be able to torn off the kitchen lights as we leave the kitchen instead of turning off the lights and then walking across the room with the lights out -- this involved several holes in the ceiling), and start putting up the cabinets.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

100 Species Challenge

1. Strawberry
2. Black-eyed Susan
3. Rose of Sharon, Althea
4. Potentilla
5. Vinca
6. Grape Hyacinth

7. Tiger Lily

The former occupants did many odd things with the landscape here. They did manage one incredibly cool thing, though -- they planted these:

It's much more common to see an orange Tiger Lily. We had scads of day lilies and tiger lilies at our old house, and I was pretty ho-hum about them. But I think this reddish pink is gorgeous.

I've noticed that when I google "tiger lily" I get some pictures of things I would call day lilies. Notice that the plant in my photo has leaves whorled around the stem -- that's the plant I use the common name "tiger lily" for. The ones on this website I'd call day lilies. Your mileage may vary.

Also, the wikipedia article calls the plant I'm thinking of Lilium columbianum, while I see it listed other places as Lilium tigrinum. Are these 2 different plants? Likely, although it could be just another example of changing nomenclature. I wonder what the difference is. I know that people eat day lilies, I've heard they eat tiger lilies, but are we all talking about the same things when we say these names? These are questions I'd like to find out more about.

More about the 100 Species Challenge here, and a link to all of my 100 Species entries is in the sidebar.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kitchen Remodel, Days 3 and 4

Drywall taping, mudding, sanding. Then another layer of mud, then more sanding.

Lots and lots of dust.

Also, working lights! The wires are live, so to turn them on and off the bulbs are screwed in and out. They'll hook up the switch boxes later.

The lights are a nice touch, since it's been gloomy and rainy and generally dark in the kitchen.

The rain means that the drywall mud is taking f.o.r.e.v.e.r. to dry.

Also, grilling in the rain isn't so fun. And meals are now on a card table inside.

Today's tip in case you decide to do a kitchen remodel:

If you use paper plates for every meal your trash can fills up really fast. It's startling.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Camp Half-Blood

The local libraries set up some Camp Half-Blood programs to celebrate Rick Riordan's latest book in the Percy Jackson series, The Last Olympian. Before we went we discussed that they probably wouldn't have a rock climbing wall, let alone a rock climbing wall with flowing lava (don't you hate it when libraries have to cut back due to budget restraints). Annabeth found this disappointing, but was determined to make the best of it.

The kids were assigned to a cabin as they checked in, and were sent to begin designing a shield for themselves. When everyone arrived, each cabin worked on a trivia quiz on the first 4 Percy Jackson books. Our crew, the Apollo cabin, did well with this event.

Next up, canoe races. In library book tubs.

A relay involving golden apples:

Cyclops shooting:

Thalia, our archer, decided not to use the nerf archery set since the arrows weren't in good shape. Instead she used a little shooter that looks more like our flyshooter. She was the only one from Apollo cabin who did well with this particular task.

As a matter of fact, Apollo cabin didn't do well in any of the feats of physical prowess. But they were beyond compare on the trivia quiz (and probably should've really been the Athena cabin, what with the wisdom displayed). So they ended up winning the competition, earning a large Hershey bar each.

In a random drawing, Thalia received a copy of The Last Olympian. It is now the "family copy", as our other copy has been autographed to her by Rick Riordan. The kids also got a map of Camp Half-Blood to take home.

A fun evening, even though they had to skip the sword fighting due to lack of time. Probably just as well -- even though the plan was to use foam bats for the swords, the Ares cabin was disturbingly bloodthirsty, and overall just a little too much in character. Several kids wanted to play capture the flag, but that will have to wait for another day.