Tuesday, May 29, 2007

"Back to the grind."

This past holiday weekend saw "The Gear" a virtual hub of activity. I bet you think I'll have tons of photos of me stripping. Nope.

First of all, I still haven't had a chance to try out my Silent Paint Remover. Some of the time it was too damp to use electricity and other times I was too busy mowing to stop and strip paint.

We rented a stump grinder this weekend. Of course, Roger was in seventh heaven. Oooooh baby...heavy equipment. Roger was able to grind out all the stumps in the yard. The stump grinder came with a helmet and ear protection. Neither of which Roger used. Several times I went over to him and said, "don't you think you should be wearing hearing protection?" To which he replied, "huh?" Exactly...I give up. He had on a pair of cheap sunglasses, so he felt that was enough protection. Throughout the weekend he never missed the opportunity to say......."well, back to the grind." Just what I need.......a husband who thinks he's funny and can't hear when I tell him he's not.

Sorry...no photos of this past weekend. Digital camera is no longer working. I had anticipated buying a smaller camera with more pixels and more memory capability for the wedding in October, but I guess I have to buy one now.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Frustrated with fenestration

fen·es·tra·tion noun
An architectural term for the arrangement of windows, doors, skylights, and other glazed openings in a building. Is derived from the latin word fenestra for window.

I love buying old books off of eBay. Especially those related to houses or gardens of the 1920's, 1930's, 0r 1940's. Yesterday I received a booklet I purchased called, Forty Practical Designs for the low cost house, copyright 1939,by The House of the Month Service. Out of 40 designs, I would live in 38 of them. Of course with some changes to make them more usable in the 21st century. You know 2 maybe 3 car attached garage and rooms a tad bigger but other than that I wouldn't touch a thing. Especially the windows and doors.

Today's newer homes have in MHO, uninspired windows and doors. My biggest window gripe is the undersized window. You'll find these windows on the back of houses and on attached garages. The side entry garage with smaller windows than the rest of the house is at the top of my DON'T DO list. Those windows should flow with the rest of the home...same size...same window treatments. Number 2 on my list is the use of arch top windows. They are soooo over used. What should be a focal point, loses it's gusto when repeated. Also the term palladium refers to a 3 part window consisting of an arch top window flanked on each side by a shorter rectangular window. This window configuration was named after Andrea Palladio, a 16Th century Italian architect. The window really gained favor after it was used by Thomas Jefferson. So often today, palladium refers to any arch top window. Rarely is it configured correctly.

So what does this have to do with The "Gear"?

Well....my fenestration has me frustrated. The last couple of days I have been trying to accomplish several overdue tasks in the yard but I keep getting sidetracked. My windows in the sun room are not symmetrical. The sun room has 8 windows. Six of one size and two of another. Notice in the below photo how the window on the left is narrower than the center and right side window. Why oh why couldn't they have put that smaller window in the middle?????? I can only speculate that the original design called for it to be in the center, but somewhere in the communication between the designer and installer/carpenter, that idea was lost.

So now I am perplexed as how to go about disguising the fact that they are different. I'm thinking mullion the three windows together using trim to mimic the living room windows.
Maybe I should just get back to stripping, edging, painting, planting, etc. and forget about my fenestration frustration.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Going green is making me see red....

Another house blogger recently blogged about "going green" and it got me thinking. Read that blog...here.

Going green is making me see red. "Green" seems to be the new buzz word. Building green, greener automobiles, green, green, green. I'm as environmentally friendly as the next person but I have to believe that a lot of this need to go green is nothing more than a marketing ploy that plays on well meaning concerned citizen's guilt about the environment. In the name of going green, normally sensible people buy big /small and cheap/expensive items that they currently do not need. I would rather people fix, recycle, reconfigure, re everything before they jump on the green bandwagon and throw out a perfectly good working item in the name of going green. If everyone in the world immediately went green, we would be up to our eyeballs in perfectly good debris. Going green should be gradual and on a "as needed" timetable. Not a knee jerk reaction to a long overdue problem.

I'm sure there are some people who when they view my home think....hmmmmm...."why don't they replace those old wooden windows with more energy efficient vinyl windows?" or "why did they spend all that time stripping paint off their house when they could have just put up vinyl siding and saved the environment from all that VOC when they paint?" AND of course "why didn't they just tear it down and build new with green products." "They aren't thinking very green!"

I think we are green, sort of a sagey green not avocado green and here is why...........The wooden windows are drafty because they have not been maintained. Once they are stripped of excess paint, re glazed, and weatherstripped they will be good as new. AND I didn't add anything to a landfill. Plus I will use less energy to heat/cool my home now that the windows function as they were originally designed to do.

The reason I plan to strip the paint off my house and repaint rather than put on vinyl siding is three fold. First, vinyl siding at it's best still looks like plastic, even with the simulated wood grain. Second, vinyl siding doesn't last forever. I see vinyl siding installed in the 80's that needs replacing only after 25 years. On the other hand, my 70 year old cedar siding needs a few shakes replaced and needs a new coat of paint to look as good as it did 70 years ago. Thirdly, (is that a word???) by repainting and not installing vinyl siding I did not add anything to a landfill.
Most older homes would need far less repair if they had not been "improved" upon by previous home owners. That is where the trouble usually begins. Case in point. The back door was originally built without an overhang. No big deal. This is not a door one would use to enter the house during the rain or snow. But somewhere along the line, someone needed to improve upon it, so they built an overhang. First off, it was ugly. Second off, it was useless and not needed. Third off, it collected rain and snow which kept the siding wet, which in turn damaged the plastered wall. I wonder how many times it kept someone dry while using that door? But in the meantime damage was done, that now needs correcting. Cedar siding worked fine until someone decided to improve upon the original design.

Notice the peeling paint above the door in this "after overhang removal" photo.

So far we have had to purchase very little wood to complete our repairs. Whenever we have done any demo, we have been mindful to save usable pieces for later use. Most wood that has gone into the trash was severely splintered and unusable. Cedar siding was removed from the front of the house when the overhang was extended back to it's original design. I am sure that during the 70's they removed that overhang in an attempt to get solar gain and help with heating costs. But I am sure whatever gain they may have gotten was all lost by the solar gain they got during the summer. I prefer to have the extreme evening sun tempered with the overhang the way it was originally designed. But back to the shingles.....I kept all the usable shingles and reused them to replace the rotted shingles around the front door. In true "Yankee" fashion, my father and I scrapped the peeling paint off and just flipped the shingle over. Nothing went into a landfill. Another added bonus besides the fact that it was free and didn't add to a landfill was the fact that the shingles had shrunk all they were going to, so the shingles are still nice and tight up against each other.

Notice the used shingles to the right of the front door. These shingles were removed when the overhang was restored along the front of the house.

Oh and the reason we didn't tear it down and start over is because I like what I like and I like old. New I don't like. So until something is beyond repair I'll continue to use it. If by chance my taste change I'll recycle it. Filling a landfill will be my last resort.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I'm on the edge...of the driveway

When we first purchased the house we couldn't understand why anyone would make a driveway so narrow. Well they didn't. It was just overgrown on the edges. In addition to that, it was covered in leaves, pine needles, and dirt. I think over the last couple of years I have reclaimed approximately 2 feet on each side. It's a lot easier to edge with the shovel after it has rained. And that is what I did today instead of stripping.

Since this is the month of May and any good race fan knows what that means, I'll fill you in on our driveway plans.

"What do you mean, it's the month of May and what does that have to do with being a race fan and your driveway??"

All during the month of May race teams prepare the the Indy 500. They practice, they have Carb Day (short for carburetor, which they don't have anymore), they Qualify, and they have Bump Day (last day of qualifying and you hope you did well enough not to be on the bubble).

Being gear heads and race fans we can't have just a regular driveway....can we???? Noooooooooooooo we can't. Just like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Gear Acres will have a Yard of Bricks just inside the gates. Yard of bricks????? Originally the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was paved entirely in bricks, hence it's nickname the "Brickyard". The only bricks left intact is a 36 inch wide strip of bricks across the width of the track at the start/finish line, hence a "yard of bricks". You've probably seen photos of the winner of the Brickyard 400 kissing the bricks after winning the race.

We will probably use concrete pavers for our "yard of bricks". I think I'll try and purchase just one REAL brick from the speedway. Now just how cool will that be????

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

These boots are made for planting

Nancy Sinatra I have a song for you!!!!

These boots are made for walking,
and that's just what they'll do
one of these days these boots are gonna grow all over you

Roger bought these at a garage sale last year for $2.00.

Aren't they cute????

It rained today so I didn't have a chance to try out the Silent Paint Remover. But mark my words..."Thursday I will be stripping!!!"

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Holy Grail of paint removal

Lately all I do is strip. Not that kind of strip....geeeeees. You know paint stripping. I strip strip strip and all I have to show for it is a very sore shoulder and a pile of paint chips. So I bit the bullet and bought a Silent Paint Remover. The only saving grace was that I bought it on eBay for $400.00. Had I known that I needed one I would have bought one in the winter when I could have gotten one for about $350.00.

Here it is in all it's glory. The Holy Grail of paint removing...The Silent Paint Remover.

I was leaving for work when it arrived, but from what I can tell it looks like it's hardly been used. I'll try it tomorrow if it doesn't rain.

I was reading the house blog Ocean Manor House. He made his own infrared remover. Very clever. If we decide that we need a second unit, it might be advantageous for us to build one. But for now....I needed one like last week.

The nectarine trees were planted today. A variety called Fantasia. I also trimmed all the fruit trees today. Only one looks iffy. But I'm not jumping the gun. It could just be that the early warm weather we had followed by the single digit cold snap might have damaged the buds. I can replace it in the fall with another peach tree. All the rest looked good and several smelled wonderful.

I also trimmed all the climbing rosebushes. Lots of dead canes but also a lot of new growth. Only one bush looked bad and again I am not going to panic just yet. I could see that most of the bushes had frost damage to the new growth.

My nearly black tulips are at their peak right now. In just the right light, they do look black.

I really need to get my landscaping rocks down before the weeds start to grow. But then I need to strip, mow, paint, got to work, make more shutters, hang shingles, and fertile the lawn and put down grub control. I wonder if I can get that all done this weekend????? this summer??? this year???

Monday, May 7, 2007

Fruit trees and excuses

On Sunday, our intention was to plant our newest fruit trees. Last fall I ordered 2 nectarine trees and a Asian pear tree called 20th Century. Both of us worked Sunday (me 4pm to 4am and Roger worked the night before from 10:30pm to 7am) so I needed to leave early for my hour drive and he needed to get to bed. So unfortunately only the Asian pear was planted. The plan is to plant the other two tomorrow because there is a chance of rain and that would work out perfect.

The fruit tree total is now 17 . We have 4 varieties of apples, 2 peach, 2 apricot, 3 plum, 4 pear, and 2 nectarine trees. This spring I would like to also get a peach tree with white flesh. In the fall we will plant 6 cherry trees. Roger like sweet cherries and I would prefer tart cherries for pies and a Rainier cherry tree.
Our son Gavin and his significant other, the lovely Barbara Jean, came over early Sunday and dug up some of the bazillion day lilies in the side yard. Barbara received some great news this week..........she passed the bar exam!!!!!! Yea!!!!! She can now make a wicked Martini....oh wait wrong bar. She is now a card carrying lawyer. I just had to work that into my post...sorry....but we are very proud of both Barbara and Gavin.

Well back to the house.........where was I???? Oh OK I remember....another reason we didn't get the fruit trees planted was that I started digging around in the area where the fountain will go. It appears that there was a patio behind the raised area. We have to decide whether we want to remove that or repair it. I would prefer to repair since I have an abundance of wrought iron furniture. That's a whole post in itself. I'll have to wait until the leaves come out on the trees and see just how shady that area will be before we make a decision. Plus I'll need to do a little more excavating to see how large the patio used to be. Below is a photo of the fountain area.

The patio area is behind the raised area and to the right of the day lilies. Before excavation it was covered in a huge mound of dirt. I would really like to know what it looked like originally. Maybe we will get lucky and someone who knows about the home will walk up our driveway and fill us in. So far our all our information has come from Gary our neighbor and that only goes back about 16 years or so.

In the meantime I would just like to level the dirt and plant some grass seed. Our neighbors would probably like that as well. That would improve their view immensely.

But no leveling tomorrow. Tomorrow is fruit tree planting and climbing rose bush trimming day. Then off to work. So much to do and so little time.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Tip toeing through the tulips....

Nothing much has been done at The "Gear" this week. I am working 12 hrs 7 days this week. That hardly gives me time to smell my flowers. That's right, I didn't smell them but I did take photos of them.

So without further ado....The Tulips at Gear Acres.........ignore the dandelions!!!!
These are a lovely mix of tulips...pretty...but they were suppose to be dark maroon and cream.

These are so cute....I wish I had bought more....I think they were in the clearance bin at Kmart. Martha Stewart tulips, I do believe....."that's a good thing." Don't look directly at the dandelion..."That's a bad thing."

These look exactly like the photo. I'm buying more of these. They were from Home Depot. Which means I can say "Go Smoke". That was a gratuitous Tony Stewart plug. I don't think Tony likes tulips or Nascar at the moment!!! Damn caution flags!! Those of you who are not race fans........didn't understand any of that.
Just like the photos. White ones were purchased off eBay. The purple ones are more from Home Depot.

These are from Frost Gardens. The photo just doesn't do them justice. BUT...sorry they just don't match. I'm going to have to relocate these. That big rock behind them is a piece of petrified rock from the Great Lakes area. Very interesting rock.

Here is my all time favorite tulip, Queen of Night. Black tulips do not exist, so this is the closest thing to it. Black tulips have been the subject of poets and authors.
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to flower
Comes a pause in the days occupation
That is known as the Black Tulip hour
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I just recently purchased the book The Black Tulip or as it was originally titled Tulipe Noir by Alexandre Dumas. You remember him.....The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monti Cristo, and The Man in the Iron Mask. The Black Tulip is a romantic tale centered around a fictional black tulip. It is a love story laced with murder, torture, greed, dastardly intrigue, and sudden surprises.....or so they say. I'll let you know after I read it. If you're a race fan...you probably didn't understand any of that.

Tiptoe to the window, by the window that is where I'll be, Come tiptoe through the tulips with me!Tiptoe from your pillow, to the shadow of a willow tree, And tiptoe through the tulips with me! Knee deep in flowers will stray, we'll keep the showers away. And if I kiss you in the garden, in the moonlight, will you pardon me? Come tiptoe through the tulips with me!
Recorded by Tiny Tim
Lyrics by Al Dubin and Joe Burke

So Thank you for Tip Toeing Thru' the Tulips with Me...........geeeeees Louise!!!!! I just couldn't help myself....it's late...I'm tired.