Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Success! At Last!

Tubly Triumph
Sweet success!

I finally got the epoxy to dry properly, so the upstairs tub is finally, finally, finally done.

Over the course of this deeply frustrating project, my standards have gotten lower and lower and lower. I used to worry about evenness of coverage, getting the color to match the woodwork, smoothness of texture, et cetera. Now my standard for success is "Is it dry?"

Which--huzzah!--it is! Blotchy and (oddly) variably shiny, but still--dry!

Matt is as tired of hearing about this project as I am of working on it, so he suggested that we leave it as is and consider having the tub professionally refinished a few years down the line. This seems like an eminently sensible solution. In the interim, the tub is completely covered, and it's nice and clean. Welcome, guests. Soak long, soak deep.

The dazzling adequate new tub finish.

Ashes to Ashes (heh)
In other news, we've been chopping and burning the remains of that ash tree. (Matt's been doing all the manly chopping; I've been doing the twiggy, dainty, chopping. From each according to her ability...) I think I've never really given ashes (messy, short-lived, limb-dropping) the respect they deserve. They are hard. Matt's ax keeps bouncing off of the wood. And they burn hot and bright. Thus far, we've been having very utilitarian fires to try to reduce the huge piles of twigs in our yard--we haven't really had the time to sit and enjoy, which is a shame--the weather's just right for it: snappy, but not bitter. (When you're burning a twig fire, you have to keep feeding it incessantly, so there isn't much time for zenning out with a mug of hot chocolate.)

Towards a New Chandelier
Matt's also been spearheading the chandelier installation initiative. It's been vexatious, but we've finally got the wires sorted out and poking through the right holes. We just need to buy a special screw and everything should come together. (However, there will still be a big hole in the ceiling where the fan used to be. Eh, well. We'll deal with that eventually.) The chandelier will be attached to a dimmer switch so--oooo!--mood lighting!

Master Plan
And finally, I've committed our long-range landscape plan to computer. Matt & I have had countless garden planning conversations, with hastily scrawled diagrams drawn on odd pieces of paper, and we never remember what decisions we reached or where exactly everything goes. So here it is: the master plan (click for a legible size).

Our Master Landscape Plan

The pink is crushed granite to be used for new walkways and to improve the weed-ridden driveway. Orange plants still have to be bought; blue plants will be transplanted from their current location to the spot indicated on the map.

W = White oak
L = Lacey oak
CM = Crape myrtle
M = 'Little Gem' Magnolia
BC = Bald cypress
J = Juniper
R = 'Forest Pansy' redbud (purple-leaved)
P = Persimmon
B = Bur oak
Li = Ligustrum
S = Eve's necklace (Sophora sp)
CP = Chinese Pistache
R = Red oak (Q shumardii/texana)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Whole Lot o' Shakin' Goin' On

Yowza. It's been a month since my last entry. Various excuses: job...weather...guests...travel...malaise... (I didn't say they were good excuses.)

The happy thing is that I've got quite the backlog of news to share (some of it has becomes olds in the interim, but whatever.)

Introducing... Po!
The most important thing: the house has acquired a kitten! Matt was seduced by a little feral tabby at his work, and next thing you know, we're cat-owners. His name is Po--mostly named after Lightnin' Hopkins who frequently referred to himself in the 3rd person as "Po' Lightnin'." As we got him the night before Halloween--on All Hallow's Eve Eve, if you will--his name is also a nod to the poet laureate of Halloween, Edgar Allen Poe. And lastly, and most implausibly, since I am an italophile, and there is a river somewhere in Italy called the Po, his name is also an homage to the land of pasta and expensive footwear.

He is ferocious cute. Check him out:
Po, our very cute kitten.

He's also a freak mutant. He's a polydactyl cat, which means he's got a weird toe deformation that gives him, in effect, thumbs. He's got giant clodhopper feet, too. Our little clydesdale.

Matt's totally besotted. Which, in itself, is actually even cuter than the kitten.

Matt & Po

So far, I've had very few allergy problems. We bathe Po and keep him out of the bedrooms, so that probably helps. I think I've mostly outgrown the cat allergy, fortunately. (The oak allergy, on the other hand, is still going strong. If I could sell phlegm the way other people sell plasma or sperm, I'd have already paid off my student loans.)

My name is Ozymandias, tree of trees
In other news, we have finally pulled down both our dead trees. The chinaberry came down a while ago, but we just toppled the ash on Sunday. It was a fighter. And nerve-wracking, because it was right next to the garage. However, we used guy-lines and a sort of a pully thing to hold it in the right direction. And then Matt went after it with a chainsaw very, very carefully. To our delighted incredulity, it came down with textbook exactitude: It didn't fall on the garage, the fence, the sapling bur oak, nor on our elderly neighbor who insisted on standing unnervingly close to the thing to watch it come down. The wood was very, very hard--poor Matt got tennis elbow dealing with it. But now we have a yard full of high-quality firewood--we shall have fires in the fire pit this winter! And drink hot libations while looking at the stars. Splendid!

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Also, Matt's been working on installing our chandelier in the dining room. You may remember that the fan that had been in there was off-center, so we had to cut a new hole and thread the wires over to it. That part went fine--Matt just reached into the ceiling and pulled the wires over. The weird bit is that there were six sets of wires feeding into the old fan. Six! So he's having to test to figure out which are live, and that has been complicated. (Matt doesn't like volt-meters--he doesn't trust them. Much the way I feel about tire gauges, I think. I just never feel confident that they're measuring accurately.) So we're going to have to patch up the spare wire and plaster over the hole and do some more testing and then--hey presto!--new chandelier.

See all the freaky wires coming out of the old hole (foreground)? That pink stuff coming out of the new hole is wads of plastic--Matt says it's something to do with the insulation.

What, you may ask, have I been doing while Matt risks life and limb chopping down trees and fiddling with electricity? I've been "spotting" him (yeah, it's a pretty cush job) and working on that misbegotten incubus, the epoxy. I've been scrubbing off the old, sticky epoxy preparatory to yet another desperate attempt to refinish the pedestal tub. I'll be tackling the new epoxy soon. And that, my friends, is the last time. If I can't get it to work this go-round, I'll be hiring a professional to handle it for me. It ain't cheap, but I can't afford to lose many more brain cells to epoxy fumes.
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