Showing posts sorted by relevance for query basement. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query basement. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, December 27

A New Project

You can see, if you look closely at the picture below, there is a futon frame, belly-up in the basement. (OK, I tried to make it easy - the hot pink writing? Doesn't actually appear in the basement.)
That's the one we salvaged when we needed a couch for this place during its "construction phase", two years ago. We lived in/on/around it for about a year, thoroughly beat the tar out of it, and then, when it had finally given up all pretense of function, we laid it down in the basement. Presumably to die.

But that's the thing about metal. It just won't always up and decompose like you'd hope it would. And so, as you can see, the frame stayed. It gathered dust. It held my old lariat. It created a jarring visual. Particularly after the Great Basement Clean of '08 (which continued this last week, once I could again breathe and stand upright - but more on that later). I wanted to toss it. Zorak wanted to keep it. (Did you see all that metal? Metal is always useful. Honestly.) We went back and forth. Considering this photo was taken less than two weeks ago, I think it's obvious how I fared on those discussions. Fast forward to December 23rd. Decision-making time. There was only one way to handle this:
This basement's just not big enough... well, it's big enough, but I just don't want to look at this thing, anymore. Are you going to do something with it, or is this part of your overall plan to make me criminally insane?
Well, I guess I'd just never taken the blunt approach before. And the basement is all purtied up and ready to use. And, well, what the heck. Let's do it.

And so, what began as a Crusade to rid the basement of More Crap turned into the Plan to Make It All Come Together. Here's what we came up with:


You know, that was actually kind of fun! It fits two adults and one toddler quite comfortably. Or one adult, one bag of peanut butter cups, a coffee cup, and a good book. (Ask me where I spent the day after Christmas!) Plus, since we saved the hardware from the edges, it folds flat to make a splendid cushiony seating thing for, well, I can't think of a reason. But it'd be a great place to nap if you're small enough! It won't be pretty for a while, but now it's functional. And the view across the basement is improved already! And did ya see the joy on that little guy's face? Oh, he had so much fun helping to build it with us! That, alone, was worth all the waiting in the world.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Friday, July 25

Basement Frog

It's a rodent! It's a reptile! No! It's... BASEMENT FROG!
And this explains the dearth of critters in that back corner of the basement recently. That's a healthy lookin' fella, there, isn't it? (I have no idea if this is a frog or a toad, and to be honest, I'm too lazy to look it up. Ok, I poked around a bit. I think it's a toad. But "Basement Frog" sounds cooler than "Basement Toad". Since we don't plan to lick it or eat it, and the boys aren't currently hallucinating or anything, so I think we're okay.)
Zorak tried to catch it and liberate it back outside, but he/she (how can you tell? It's a she - her neck is light colored. Oh, the joy of the internet!) is FAST. I mean fast-fast, and rather agile. So. We still have a basement frog. It's kind of like having our own totem. Sorta. (And don't you love the nasty concrete floor? Someday, we'll acid etch it, now that we know how relatively easy it is to do!)

Kiss those babies!
~Dy
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Monday, April 10

Oh, my goodness! Memories

We worked in the basement a bit today. We have worked in that basement so many times over the years. We've never gotten it "done". It's a definite If You Give a Mouse a Cookie situation. "Well, if we're going to do this, we'll need to do these things. And if we're going to do these things, we really need to do that Big Thing." Next thing you know, we've cornered ourselves and can't get anything done down there, so we stack it up and go back upstairs. This time, however, we have doors!

Yeah, I know. Doors. Woohoo? Yes, Woo. hoo. Seriously huge progress, and I'm going to drive this donkey cart into the ground now that we have some momentum. Today, we got the industrial junk relegated to a corner that's not right smack as you walk in, and what do you know, it made a huge difference. (Yes, this should have been obvious. We suspected, but it wouldn't have mattered before, so we didn't try it out.) Then we flipped the hanging out area (gaming area? living area?) whatever, we moved the couch and the tv over by the Real Doors. So now, it has a vaguely Legitimate Living Space feel to it. As long as you don't look at the walls, or the rafters, or the floors. But if you keep your eyes firmly between 2' and 5' from the floor, it looks nice down there.

Actually, you can look at the rafters - we vacuumed them this afternoon, and they, too, look nice. That floor, though, is just going to be ugly until next year.

Then we realized the camping shelf, which, for the last ten years, has been THE tidy focal point of the basement, looked horribly shifty and ugly. I could have wept for joy! The pretty bit looks ugly, now! We're making tangible progress! So we moved it, too. Now the industrial bits are locked into a corner by makeshift walls of storage, and there is a clearly defined livable space emerging around it. I can live with that.

We picked up and cleared out so much that we found James' missing Mahabis sole! 😂 (It fell off while he was walking around down there about a month and a half ago. We have looked and looked for that thing and had both given up on ever finding it.) I think he is now certain that ALL the work was worth it, even if we never finished the basement. Happy kid. Maybe his lost tube of thermal paste will show up in the next round of shifting?

Back when we'd painted some of the walls and built the closets down there, we'd painted all the wall we could get to. As of today, there's double the amount of wall now visible, and it needs painting. When we moved a couple of shelves, we found a little spot on the wall where John's been testing spray paint for his projects over the years. It's actually kind of pretty. The more we walked around it, the more it grew on us. Finally, John asked if we could just do that, intentionally, to the wall behind the sofa. Yeah, why not? It won't preclude us from hanging drywall someday, but in the meantime, they'll have a space that's all theirs. That's on tomorrow's docket, and I'm stoked.

I am so close to being able to use the weight machine again! I think after tomorrow's push, it'll be safe to use without fear of knocking over paper piles or cracking someone in the head while they attempt to read in the chair.

We'll devote the remainder of this week to fixing that up as much as possible off this momentum. Then this coming weekend we'll see what we can do about the landscaping. Once things start to green up down here, it's on. You've got to stay ahead of it, and I just know all my local friends are going to shake their heads and point out that we're already behind.

But in the meantime, Be Encouraged!

~ Dy


Sunday, March 19

A New Project!

Guys. We've been so busy with raising kids and driving to every corner of three counties lately that we haven't made much headway on the house. Other than the wall we built two years ago, what discernible headway we have made has been in the more mundane realm of picking shoes up from under the coffee table in the living room and shaking off the table cloth in the dining room. Occasionally, we get wild and break out the paper shredder to beat back the drastic piles of college junk mail.

Well, I volunteered the property for a party in April, and that, combined with the wonderful weather, has lit a fire under all of us! Landscaping! Caulking! Debris eradication! Allofit! This past week, Z and I have been researching doors for the basement. (They were ghetto when they were installed 46 years ago. Time, and the elements, have not improved their appearance or function one bit.) We thought it would take a couple of paydays to pull that one off, but really, it needs to happen soon. (We suspect, although we have no reason to think this, that having decent doors on the walk-out will spur us to make the rest of the basement nice. It seems a sound perspective. We may, however, just end up broke, hanging out in a junky basement, staring at the nice doors.)

Yesterday, we got up early to visit Gobble-Fite, a local materials supply - they were great to work with during the bulk of the renovations, and they deliver. Considering the space is 112" wide, delivery options are appealing. Unfortunately, we forgot they aren't open on Saturdays. We brainstormed a few other places we could visit so the day wouldn't be a total wash. (Also, neither of us wanted to work on the landscaping, so we were motivated to get out!)

We stopped at our favorite hardware store and met with one of the guys there. The door options weren't great, but he did have some good ideas. Also, they have the beadboard that I want for the living room ceiling. We made notes and moved on. We checked another couple of places and then realized basement doors would likely have to be ordered and we're going to have to do some framing to alter the rough opening because part of the unique joy of this place is that so many elements are not standard. Or square. So, that's cool. But what shall we do this weekend?

Well, as luck would have it, we ended up at Lowe's. Lowe's has the front entry door I've had my eye on for the last five years. It's lovely, it's solid, and it's usually in stock. What's not to love? They had it in stock today. Oh, yeah...


This may not be exciting to everyone, but for me it is right up there with the day after we pulled the carpet out and were able to get all the way through the foyer before the weird Abandoned Shack smell hit us. I have hated our current front door for years (11.5 years, to be exact). It was oddly stained and never sealed, so the wood was rough and blotchy and hard to clean. The panels had split over the years, and you could see daylight through the door in places where you shouldn't have been able to see through. (Seriously, the paper boy from Better Off Dead could totally have kicked in this door.) The glass was hard to clean and there wasn't enough of it.

But this beauty? She's solid! She's sealed! She'll let light into the foyer! I'M SO EXCITED!!!

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Sunday, April 29

Tech Stuff, General Stuff

OK, it seems there's a hitch in Blogger's comment feature that will only sometimes allow an anon comment to come through to me for moderation. If you've been leaving comments without using a Blogger ID, and they haven't been appearing, and you know that you haven't been swearing maliciously or threatening me (about the only causes I've had to call upon for comment rejection, really)... and now you're thinking I've gone off on some completely unidentifiable, arbitrary moderation system, I haven't. They just aren't coming through. I'll put in a quick question to the folks at Blogger to see if I can fix it. In the meantime, though, a quick heads up that I'm not ignoring anybody.

And just where have we been since Tuesday? Oh, we've been pretending we're a normal family. It's hard work, and leaves Zorak and I absolutely exhausted at the end of the day. The boys are working their way through some sort of tribal rite of passage thing that involves a great deal of "creative use of time". Then I'm forced to engage in the complementary rite of passage known as "running the maternal gauntlet", most commonly identified by the middle-aged woman standing on the porch, screaming into the woods, "Whoever left that THING in the sink had best get back up here and take care of it RIGHT. NOW!" But in general, I believe the New Initiates are giving a good showing, and this will be a good year for the tribe, if not for the sink.

Zorak's been running wires like a... well, like something catchy that I can't put my finger on right now. But he's been one busy man today. There's light in the basement stairwell. Light beneath the stairs, light in the "post apocalyptic storage corner" (ok, pantry) of the basement. There are functional outlets and runs of shiny conduit at appropriate intervals. It looks and functions SO much better now. I've got to say that electrical codes are far more intuitive than I'd ever given them credit for, in many respects. I love it when things that just make sense - three way switches on stairwells, illumination on every step - turn out to be within code. I know, weird thing to get all warm and fuzzy about. Still, it does make me go all warm and fuzzy to have my home eeking its way out of Full-On Condemnation Mode. Also, in spite of the rain we've had lately, we are tickled to announce that the basement only smells like an average basement right now, and is relatively dry. Exponentially more dry than last year this time. WOOHOO!

We're trying another church this Sunday. VSC isn't going to work - it turned out to be of a completely different type than we'd thought. Der, I know. It's listed wrong in the phone book, and if you don't come up to it from the main street, you never see the little sign. It was just a fluke that the Easter bulletin didn't have the affiliation written on it anywhere. Anyway, it's a delightful congregation, but the differences in beliefs between our home and the denomination are just too extreme for us to bridge the gaps. I talked with Wonderful Pastor about our situation this week. He gave me the names of two more churches to try, and said he'd look into some others that might have something in the area that we may have missed. The one we'll be visiting this week we'll call the Very Tiny Church (VTC). According to the gentleman on the phone, it's just two families. Not sure what happened, there. I guess we'll find out, though.

Other than working on the house, working on the parenting, working on the Never Ending Laundry, we've been celebrating the kick-off to Catch Up On Neglected Health Care Month. I don't think it's a National celebration, but it seems to be a big local thing, and we're knee-deep in it. That, of course, makes for hideous blogging unless you are a) morbidly interested in others' health care, b) suffering similar ailments and looking for proof that you aren't alone in the world, or c) really desperate for something to read. So, for those who know what's up with that, all is going well. And for those who don't, that's why I haven't really touched on it. Blech.

And, that's about it in a nutshell. (It was a big nut.)

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Friday, November 4

Quick Post Over Coffee

Good Morning! It's a lovely, cold Friday morning. Everyone is still asleep, and while I should wake them up so we can get to the house early... I don't wanna. My inner introvert is about to become a neurotic mess from the utter lack of down time or time alone or time with a book. So, I'm sipping an overly-creamered cup of scalding hot coffee and enjoying the sounds of morning traffic (enjoying it because I won't have to deal with it once we're Home - yay!)

The house is coming along. Today is Zorak's every-other-Friday off, so it'll be a full day at the pad.

Chimney guy came. Chimney guy refused to speak to me. This guy simply did not care to speak to a woman about these things. I hovered beside Zorak and fought off flashbacks of living in NC many years ago, while Zorak talked with him about stuff us womenfolk just couldn't possibly understand. (What? You mean like the fact that a liner for the chimney probably shouldn't cost as much as the one you're trying to sell us? Yeah, I feel dumb.)

We've decided the previous owners were either severely manic, or possibly suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder. It's also possible they were just total hillbillies and knew what they were doing but didn't care. The wood stove in the basement is connected to the chimney with three different types of stove pipe - none of which is the right stuff for the wood stove in the basement. One piece is actually for a range - as in, a kitchen range. It's not even the right size (the difference, of course, being made up for with duct tape - possibly leftovers from their kitchen remodeling project?)

Good news: the wood stove in the basement is a monster stove in decent condition that can be used.

Bad news: it can't be used in it's current configuration.

That's not too bad. We can either buy a stove kit from the store and put it in the living room for now, or we can line the entire chimney and add the right size pipe and use it from below. Or we can buy a new wood burning stove and pretend the one in the basement is for baking wayward children into pies.

Emily has migrated up under my ribcage - waaay up under there. I think she may be an amazon child, which will help keep our freezer full once she begins hunting, but in the meantime, I'm wondering just how many organs can get stuffed up into my throat before cutting off all breathing function. Other than that, though, feeling great, doing wonderfully and getting absostinkinglutely huge.

And so, I'm off to get caught up reading and writing. Y'all have a great day, and please know that if I don't call, comment, email, or send smoke signals, I'm not ignoring you, I'm buried in the house somewhere.

Kiss those babies!
~DY

Wednesday, April 19

A little schoolin', a little lovin', a lot of livin'...

After this morning's rude awakening, I've decided caffeine is a much preferred method of easing into the day. Today was not your banner day (it was hot and muggy and we were all quite miserable in the house), but it wasn't nearly as roughly paced as yesterday (small yay). We did accomplish quite a bit (bigger yay). Mostly, though, it was a good day with the boys (saved the biggest yay for this part).

Yesterday was a day that found me begging them to please, please, try - just try - to understand their native tongue. Today, they tried. It didn't always work, but bless 'em, they did try. What a joy that is! One day, they will master both speaking and comprehending english. What a day that will be. (Of course, by then, they will be fathers, so I'll have the added delight of watching them beg their children in a similar fashion. Oh, pop the corn and break out the beer, folks - this is gonna be great!) In the meantime, this repetition is this repetition is this repetition is my job.

The boys are doing wonderfully with school. They're enjoying copywork in the mornings. John is so proud of what he can do, and I have discovered that if I ask him to do only a portion of a sentence, he will gladly do the entire sentence. (Conversely, if I ask him to do the whole sentence, he panics and develops hand cramps three letters into the task -- I can be trained, and now only ask for a portion. I'm getting great work out of him!)

James and I spent an hour today, just working numbers. He wanted to work out returns on investment for real estate. We had a great discussion on economics and investment risks while we worked out different scenarios. And the boy has mastered subtraction like nobody's business (which thrills me no end, as we skipped subtraction in MUS when we switched from Classic to New - ahhh, another academic landmine avoided.)

We are back in full-reading-swing, and can I say it's wonderful? I do hope Miss Emily skips that whole screaming and writhing in angst thing regarding read alouds. We are learning so much, and enjoying so much and... we've missed it. Smidge listens in, and engages. He laughs at the jokes (and sometimes just laughs - he is one half of Tuck 'n Roll, if that helps with the imagery any), and brings books for us to share. John plays HARD while I read, but he can tell me anything I've read throughout the day, so I'm good with that. Would that we could all multi-task so well! James gets so sucked into some of the stories that he just tips right over - he leans farther and farther forward until, *plunk*, down he goes. I love this part. This is my own personal crack. Only, you know, not so hard on the ticker. It's lovely.

Oh, speaking of being hard on the ticker, we have a cricket in the basement. I can't find it, but I think it's about two or three feet long. It sounds humongous. It also proved to me today that I know no shame. I started down there for something - a book? No, to empty the dehumidifier, that was it. The dehumidifier isn't even in the basement proper - it's on the stairs, at the bottom landing. Still, it took me three tries to work up the gumption to go get it. But I did - and got it back in and myself back up the stairs in record time. Shortly thereafter, we were recapping some of our history over breakfast, and I remembered having seen the globe in an open box. It was easy to reach - just right there, on top. Down in the basement. So. Yeah, I sent James. Worse yet, when he came FLYING back up the stairs to tell me there's "something large and chirpy" down there, I had the audacity to tell him it's "just a little old cricket, he can't hurt you".

But I will confide to you that I think it's one of those nasty hunchback ones we've seen. Does anyone know what they are? Nevermind, I found them - they are camel crickets, also known as cave crickets. Their bodies are curved, rather like a shrimp, the legs are significantly longer than regular cricket legs, and they are huge, oh, and lightly striped. They're pretty stinkin' nasty! So far, we don't have a cricket wall down there. It was bad when we bought the place. The basement is far better sealed and much drier than it was before, not to mention "the cricket room" - a partial room which had been built on at some point - has been torn down, which I hope will help keep the critter population down. And I did inform Zorak today that when he gets back (he's on the road), we are poisoning everything -- every surface, crevice, and hole in the house. I have my limits, and they have been reached, okay?

However, lest y'all develop an image in your cumulative heads of me living out in the boonies, in a shack, with my hair falling out, obsessing over insectlore... (ok, the hair is coming out, but that's normal post partum stuff - it's not mange or anything. Honest.)

My favorite highlights of today:

* Seeing James check Balto's food and water, then refill them both, AND dump out the water dish before adding fresh - all without being told!

* Making paper airplanes with John and waging a mock air battle with them in the living room.

* Holding a sleepy Smidge on my lap, hearing him giggle and seeing his eyes gleam as I sang, "Jake, Jake, Jake, I'm so glad I've got one..." (a la Neil Diamond tune!)

* Watching John come barrelling out of his class, wearing a paper crown, singing his memory verse. The smile on his sweet face made my heart soar.

* Listening to James read the beginning of the Book of Judges to me on the way home tonight. Talking with him and just enjoying his exuberance.

* Watching Smidge slowly warm up to the teacher in his class, and knowing that he is okay without me, but that I'm right. there. if he should need me.

* As I was laying Emily down on the bed tonight, she opened her eyes, smiled a huge smile, took my finger in her hand and went right back to sleep.

* Hearing Zorak tell me he loves me and cannot wait to come home.

Yay.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Thursday, April 13

The Push

Well, "the push" turned out to be more driving. Blergh. But all the kids' teeth are now up to snuff, and John's had a consult with a new oral surgeon. I'm not entirely sure how it's Thursday again, but there you have it.

We did get the wall cleaned and rinsed. The kids have decided to paint the load panel, too, since it's proud of the wall and incredibly ugly. Seems sane.

We've peeled another large swath off the basement couch. Our first "real" -- as in, new, not off the classifieds, only ours, bought with cash and straight from the store -- sofa was an Ashley sleeper sofa that we loved and loved... for about two years, until the cushions gave up, the upholstery started cracking and peeling and we realized Ashley doesn't count that as a defect in materials or workmanship. Actually, they seem to think of it as a perk. I don't know. Weird business model, but whatever. We bought a replacement that we love off Craigslist and demoted the poorly made Ashley to the basement. But it was kind of gross, and we weren't sure what to do with a couch that wasn't appealing, and wasn't in particularly "good" shape, but wasn't legitimately trash, either. We are loathe to throw away things that still have utility (which explains so much, really)... In a fit of creative implosion, I decided that we would just peel the rest of the material off and paint it! (Thanks, Pinterest!) That was two years ago. Turns out, it takes a lot of focus and determination to peel bonded fabric completely off a 6' couch... The kids pick at it while they're playing video games. Every once in a while, I'd muster up the umpf to go down there and just work on the couch, but the basement heebed me out and I couldn't stay down there too long without succumbing to the overwhelming urge to toss everything out and set it on fire.

Anyway, it's almost to the point that we can paint it. Probably a summer project. If it doesn't work, then we'll buy a slipcover for it. But if it does work? We'll have a weatherproof party couch! How cool is that? So many of my ideas could be incredibly fun and delightful finished projects, or they could be four cinder blocks away from the neighbors telling their children not to go over onto that property. I never really know until we've tried. But I have to try.

Speaking of neighbors, we have new ones. They've been busy trimming trees and clearing the property of debris. The kids heard someone in the bushes, whistling to the birds. And one of them waved back as we both pulled out of our drives the other morning. So, I'm hopeful they'll be good neighbors and will think of us as good neighbors. We need to make something and go welcome them.

We're in a bit of a lull with the kids' things. Jacob is back to Just Ballet Class, no rehearsals, and we're all appreciative of getting three extra days back during the week. John's waiting on the ACT scores to be released, but we've tweaked the plan for the next test in the meantime (no more prep, lots more reading, more books, more words, and, uh, keep plugging away at the math). James is in a holding pattern on future plans and trying to figure out how to get enough sleep without just sleeping from midnight to noon. (It's tricky. I get it.) And the Littles - they are great. They're biking and making movies, crafting and making food, all with a nonstop background chatter in voice for characters they've made up. We don't get it, but we love it.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy

Saturday, December 19

Project Blogging: Christmas '09

The kids worked like Roman galley slaves all morning, took a break at lunch to watch a movie and hang out a bit, and then went back to the rowing-rowing-rowing. They laughed and worked, ate like fiends, and crashed like the dead come bedtime. I appreciated their work today, as we got the house ready for Christmas and company.

Sometimes, (like right now), when two-thirds of the house is clean all at one time, I feel like we've accomplished so much here. Other times, (like when someone comes to visit for the first time), I look around and see only *all that remains to be done*.

And then, there are times when we're discussing one project, which is dependent upon another project, and that's tied to a third (or fourth, or fifth) project... and I realize, we will never be done. I guess that's a good thing. It'll feel better in the morning, I'm sure.

Tonight we worked a bit more on the play kitchen. Then we worked a bit on the wall in the basement. Yep, brand new project, six days before Christmas, when there are still myriad other things to be done upstairs, in the climate-controlled portion of the house. On the surface, it seems silly, I know. But in the Grand Scheme of Things, that wall will make a number of other projects (some of which await upstairs, yes) so much easier. And so, we do it.

The plan is to build a wall separating the water heater & HVAC unit from the rest of the basement. This will alleviate some visual clutter. It will also give us a Christmas Closet. It will create an entire 20' wall with electrical outlets, and a guaranteed space for sewing and other projects. AND, it will give us (because we designed it that way) a little half-bath in the basement. But of course, in keeping with tradition, the half-bath will remain an unfinished room which we'll use for storage, for the foreseeable future.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Sunday, November 30

Oh, my.

Well, we are home. Three of the five were sick, starting Thursday morning and continuing into Saturday evening. We had a lovely time, illnesses aside. Still, it felt good to pull into the drive. No matter how much you love someone, it's just never comfortable to throw up at their house, is it?

Today, Zorak got hit with something nasty. We'll call it the Productivity Bug. Urngh. He'd been coming down with it earlier, but I didn't realize just how bad it would be. When we hinted to the boys that we had some work to do when we got home, I jokingly told them we were switching to a 12-hour school day. Ha. That would've been a breeze, in retrospect. But really, I've nothing to complain about. We accomplished quite a bit, and are back on high-octane fuel around the Forever Home.

The boys helped Zorak work in the basement. That seemed to movitate everybody on some level. (James said he's just so thankful we aren't doing the 12-hour school day, he'll work as much as we need him to!) The basement is once again functional. The Mistress has been evicted. (She's living in the carport now. Yay!) Tools are back in their proper homes. Trash is in the trash bin. Recycling is... well, it only made it to the carport. But that's out of the basement, so I am a happy camper. The boys split and stacked wood, ran errands, and in general really pitched in beautifully. I cleaned, culled, and sorted. Swept, swept, and culled some more.

Zorak helped me get the door to the linen closet built. This is one of those projects where he isn't convinced it's going to work, but he goes along with it because he loves me. (That, and because he knows that without his input, I'll do it anyway, and someone may end up impaled by the fallout of a failed joint.) He made do with my not-so-precise directions, though, and went along with the crazy scheme. I guess I could have done it, but he doesn't take pictures and I wanted to document the process, in case it worked. I'll get it painted tomorrow and he'll pick up some dodads and then I'll post the pics when we've got it hung. Or when we decide to scrap it and start over.

I culled and re-organized Em's room. Then Zorak moved the crib in there. It is, once again, "The Nursery" - and now EmBaby gets to learn how to s-h-a-r-e a room with somebody. She's lucky it's just Jase. He's the most easygoing of her brothers. But we do think the new arrangements will work well for a while.

And THAT (*trumpets blare from offscreen*) frees up the guest room/nursery/library for the pending transformation into a playroom, complete with toy bins, books, puzzles and a puzzle table, comfy chairs, music, and whatever else they decide to put into the room. We'll work this week to clean it out, empty the closet, and get things lined up so that this weekend we can lay carpet and baseboard and then furnish it with the kids' things.

Hopefully at some point, we'll break out the Christmas decorations. Maybe we'll even get around to hanging pictures on the wall this month!! (What? It's only been three years. Like y'all haven't ever taken that long to get around to unpacking... *grin*)

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, September 15

Every Good Plan

Starts with a bad night's rest. Implementation comes later, after the fun part is done. Or, if you're like me, you'll just order another toner cartridge and get right back to the sleep deprived planning stage. Because, really, that is the fun part. (And it is NOT an illness. Nuh-uh. Shut up. I checked. Or, at least, I put it on my list of things to check.)

The boys and I tried to work in the basement today. Yeah, the basement I spent two weeks fixing up last December. That work was shot by the time the Pinewood Derby was over, and it's simply deteriorated from there. However, we've got things that need doing that can't be done without the basement. Well, they could, technically, but I've paid my dues with sawdust in the kitchen and projects dangling from the shower rod while the glue dries, thank you. It's not that those weren't wonderful days, but... yeah. We're not going back there.

We weren't down there ten minutes before John walked right into two lengths of all-thread which just happened to be jutting out from the wall, at eye level, eye-width apart. I cannot tell you the thoughts that zipped through my mind in rapid succession. And it's probably best that way. I can tell you that he escaped with only two cuts on one eyelid. No damage to his eyeballs. No other ruptures, swelling, internal bleeding, or any of the many other horrid possibilities that came to mind. He doesn't even have black eyes. And he still lets me snuggle him when he's not feeling well. *sniff-sniff*

So, realizing that our home is filled with punji sticks and Burmese tiger traps, I figured it's time for a Real Plan. One that involves printing things, and... and... hole punching them. Checkboxes, and perhaps even a grease pencil. Something. We need a written plan of action! Mainly, it's because I forget. But also because, um, I forgot. Regardless, if it's right there, in black and white, none of us has an excuse. It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye, right?

This week we'll be sorting, cleaning, trashing, bribing, burning, donating, mending. Whatever it takes to get this place bomb-proofed, we're going to do it. I'm sure the boys are thrilled. Fortunately, we have Netflix and popcorn and M&M's, and nothing says, "C'mon, you know you want to," better than bribery. And Neosporin. I'm keeping that on the counter.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Tuesday, February 26

Dirty Work... (Forever Home Update)

This is the view from the edge of the upper meadow. Thanks to the pesky law of gravity, and water inevitably taking the path of least resistance, you can see that both come together here to form the Zen Waterfall in the basement. (Evidently, it's easier to get under the house than around it. Weee!)

The slope is fairly steep, and the valley is right against the house. Do you see the little yellow dump truck in the distance (near the middle of the shot, but way in the back)? To the left of that is a HUGE stump that prevents water from flowing away from the house. So, we've got to do something about that. The white things sticking up are the stakes for the fence, and we kinda-sorta figured it might be best to deal with the drainage issues before we put the fence up rather than try to finagle it around the fence later.

You can see all kinds of things in the photo above: the family pirate, James and Zorak doing a little survey work, Me-Wa playing with the heavy equipment, and in the foreground, my dead salad garden boxy-area-thing. Busy space.

This is a closer shot of Me-Wa grading the back yard to redirect the runoff. Until now, it has always flowed from the upper meadow, straight toward the house. Whatever didn't go into the basement, ran alongside the house until it found a way in, and then, finally, down toward the carport/fire thing, as a last ditch effort. Now, it will hopefully run *around* the house, and down the valley farther from the house, into the creek.

Now, here, you can see that they'd levelled quite a bit. They did more after I took this shot, but it rained last night, and I'm surrounded by an 80-foot-wide swath of mud and mire from every exit except the balcony door. (The mud pit goes all the way around both the front and back of the house.)

The guys found a concrete slab by the basement window, so we used that as the basis for the new grade. It all slopes away from the house, toward the middle of the mud swath, which will one day be green and lush and hopefully not boggy in the least (if we did our math correctly!)

And this is the best that could be done with the time allowed for the rental, and the equipment itself. As you can see, they did get the sidewalk torn up and moved down to the driveway. I haven't braved the mud swath to get to the barn yet, but they also put a good-sized dent in the garden by the barn.

This is basically our final grade. Again, they did a bit more after I retired the camera (the gutter drain is gone now and that corner's been built up and contoured, for example). From what I understand, we need a tractor and a Harley Rake, or a bobcat and a box blade to do the finish work at this point. (For the record: that last sentence is entirely Greek to me, and since I'm spooling up on carpools, schedules, and meals-to-go, that's Zorak's ball to run with this week. Once he fills me in on what we're doing and why, I'll be sure to let ya know.)

The kids had a BLAST this weekend, between playing with Me-Tae, playing in the dirt, helping Dad and Me-Wa... it was just good, good, good.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Tuesday, December 18

Company, or More Forever Home Updates

I know, I promised to relegate those to Sunday's posts only. I lied. It seems that's been our focus this week, and I can't just sit here and hear the voices on my own, okay? So, I've got to share the joy with you.

We're having company next week, and I've noticed that seems to be our biggest motivator. (Ack! Someone might see how we *gasp* LIVE!) I mean, it's one thing to read about it, but it's another thing, entirely, to walk into it. What I really need is a year's supply of guests, each willing to come for one weekend a month, one group per month. That gives me three weekends to get things done before each group arrives, and then a weekend of force feeding people just because it's fun. Really, that seems like the best schedule for us to use. Any takers? Anyone? Please? The last weekend in January looks open, and at this rate, I think we could roll out the red carpet for you by then!

We finally caved and bought medicine cabinets at Lowe's this weekend. We've been holding off for an IKEA trip. There is so much we'd planned to get from IKEA: medicine cabinets, comforters for the boys, new twin mattresses, that hanging chair thing (for the kids, honest), kitchen lighting, perhaps a new sofa. See? That's worth the drive to Atlanta. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to scrape together the time to make the trip *and* the money to blow once we got there, all at the same time. But the kids really need blankets that actually fit their beds, and we really need some storage solutions. So, we gave in and went with this. It turned out great. We put up two cabinets, so there are enough mirrors that everyone can see from the vantage point of his respective sink. Plus, the mirrors are far enough apart that nobody's toothpaste gets in anybody else's hair. (If your toothpaste gets in your own hair, well, there's not much I can do for ya, there.) The gap between the two is large enough that when somebody starts touching someone else, it'll be fairly obvious who violated the airspace. The peace this will bring to my home is indescribable. There is also now enough room to stash a step stool beneath the sinks, and my stubbed toes will be forever grateful to get that bit taken care of.

Then, like the distractable puppies we are, we realized you can now actually access the wee gap between the backsplash and the wall (bad framing, not something we did wrong). It needs caulking before the boys decide it would make a great used floss receptacle. And we thought we found weird things behind the cabinets we pulled out, right? Ew. But, before we can caulk, we really need to paint the cabinet base, and before we can paint the cabinet base, we really need to dismantle the doors and drawers. Oh! Hey! We can paint in the basement! So it doesn't matter that it'll get down to the 20's at night! WOOHOO! Let's go! Now, the storm windows still aren't finished, but the cabinet base is lookin' good.

I worked a bit more in the basement yesterday, too. Cleared off the Big Wonderful Desk (I love that desk), and also cleared off the Small, Semi-Creepy-Yet-Fully-Functional desk from beneath the piles of boxes. Zorak pulled the small desk out and we made the command decision to give it a hearty sanding and restain it, and we'll put it back into the guest room, where it has lived for most of its life. That buys us more floor space in the basement, and gives James a place to work in peace (because right now, he's nine, and he must have peace to tap into his genius. Or something. I don't know. He's nine. We just try to go with it.)

All in all, things are moving along nicely. Zorak asked me to be a little less productive day, and (once I ascertained that he was actually wanting me to relax and rest, and he wasn't being snarky), I agreed. So we're going to be slugs today. Perhaps bake. Definitely read. Maybe even craft something. (Don't quote me on that, though, he said I could relax - so we'll play the crafting bit by ear.)

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Sunday, December 16

On Organizing

It's important to be organized, but it's equally important not to allow the process of organization to overtake the goal in sight. I know, I can see you nodding and hear you ask, "But how? How do you do that?" Well, don't ask me. I don't know. I just know it's important.

Anyway, Zorak and I put the kids to bed and headed down to proceed on the Great Basement Overhaul. My plan tonight was to put labels on *everything* -- every shelf, every coffee can, every box. If it's going to live down there, it must have a label. We must know why it's there or, so help me, the next time I do this, I'm just setting things on fire if they don't have labels.

We made progress. Zorak got the peg board hooks up and began hanging things from them. I suspect he's writing a secret code that'll only be visible from 20' away, but for now, I'm going to let that slide. (I want to see what it says.) We created a work space for the boys, complete with work bench, seating, and storage compartments. We got the bulk of the Scary Chemicals up, hopefully out of the reach of the Bad Idea Fairy, as well as small children and dogs.

In the process, we had to fight our inner pack rats, our inner raised-by-Depression-Era-wolves children, and our inner desire not to have to do this at all. There was a lot of internal struggling going on, but mostly, I think, we won. The sweetest victory of all, however, was not the three bags of trash, or the two large plastic tubs now empty, or the spare shelf we ended up with. No, those might sound good, but they're nothing compared to the victory we scored over the Categorizing Demons.

That's our Achilles Heel, right there. We over-analyze every. little. thing. We want a name, a place, a compartment, a label, a coffee can, for every individual item you could ever hope to find in our basement. But I only bought two rolls of masking tape. So, we had to be firm with ourselves. And so, we have labels, and we have simplicity. I thought I would share, in case anyone else has trouble deciding just where to draw the line in their categorizing, between "too vague" and "far too detailed". I think we've found a good balance.

Leatherworking; Bowmaking; Concrete tools; Scary, Dangerous Stuff (this would be the shelf with pesticides, herbicides, and other neurological agents, but "neurological agents" didn't seem like the best thing to have listed on a shelf, in a basement, with other... accoutrements... that might, you know, "concern" the nice folks at the FBI. Not that that's a concern. I'm just saying...); Happy Homeowner Stuff (small nails, furniture feet pads, stuff normal people keep in their basements); Sealants & Adhesives; Sanding materials; Power Tools; Power Tool Accessories; Construction Fasteners; Normal Fasteners; Plumbing; Electrical - Construction; Electrical - happy homeowner; Reloading Equipment; Weird Stuff You Only Look For Once A Year (very important category - you can easily fill a small bin with this one - be flexible, but don't overdo it, or it'll take you a year to find anything in that bin, and by then you won't need it).

Zorak got away from me, for a bit, with a few bins: All Things Blades; Tape (I don't mind a "tape" bin, but... there were three...); Metalworking (I take exception to this. I don't know metalworking, this is true. But I know for a fact there is an 18" piece of angle iron, cut from a metal bedframe that he took from the dumpster behind the storage facility... this is scraps, I know it's scraps, I just can't quite make a convincing case for tossing it when he quotes the price of angle iron at Lowe's. So, that box stays. For now.) I did, however, keep the masking tape on my wrist, and am going to push for a more efficient grouping of a few things down there before wielding the Sharpie Of Organization on them.

We're back on the same page again, though. No blood was shed. Nothing broken, or hidden (I think). Hey, that's what a good marriage does. It allows you to figure out how to keep it together, and enjoy the process, right? Yeah. It does. Onward and upward! And then, to bed.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Sunday, March 11

Not so bright, and not so stoopid

Not so bright: I sliced the meat off the third knuckle on my middle finger today. Stoopid, stoopid thing to do. Knew better, but sometimes we just get so comfortable in the things we do to stop thinking about the things we know. Thankfully, it was a sharp knife, and everything could be put back in place fairly accurately. I'll leave it splinted for a couple of days, hopefully it'll stick back together okay. Please pardon typos over the next few entries. I had no idea how integral to the typing process that middle finger is!

Not so stoopid: Evidently, Balto should have been named Houdini. We had company for supper tonight. Fresh children to herd - WOOHOO! So, we let him in the house after supper, while the children played outside. But, no, that would not do. The in-and-out traffic through the front door was just too heavy to expect him not to make a break for it and succeed. SO, we put him in the basement. Not fifteen minutes later, there he was, skulking along among the iris and daffodils, heading straight for all the fun! I took him back in, flipped the two locks on the basement doors, leaned a cinder block against the door, propped a pallet under the door knob, and braced that with a mongo extendo-ladder/scaffold combo. As I emerged from the basement into the hallway, I commented (half in jest) that if he can get out of that, he's a genius.

Well, he's a genius. Who knew? He's out there, now, rolling happily in the grass.

And so, another weekend ends.

We made a lot of progress on the Forever Yard. The mystery tree from last week is in bloom right now, so it looks like it's hearty enough to have survived the frost. (Yay!) Zorak has the forms almost done for the first garden bed. The pile for the chipper is growing impressively. The barn is nearly cleaned and ready to earn its keep. Zorak's already making plans for fencing, and our first cow-calf operation. It looks like I've lost my argument that goats are smaller (and thus, less intimidating to, erm, the small children... yeah, the kids...) But all taken, things are looking good. Feeling good.

The children ran wild for hours today, thoroughly enjoying their friends and this beautiful Southern spring weather. Sleepy children seem not to notice the time change, and so, they slipped to bed without complaint. I think we will have to make it a tradition to spend the first day of Daylight Savings Time BBQ'ing with friends, running the children into a dreamy, happy, exausted sleep come evening. Quite nice.

And now, I am off to continue traveling with Mr. Twain, who has left Tangier, and is headed for points further East.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, November 6

Before & After Pictures: The Hallway

In going through our photos, I realized there aren't many of the hallway itself. That's probably because it was creepy. Then it spent the winter covered in plastic and we only went back there when we really, really had to pee. And honestly, who takes a camera for that? (No. I don't want to know. Suffice to say that we aren't among those who do.) However, I pieced together what I could, so here goes.

This is the hall, as seen from the living room, when we bought the place. The hallway was, as everything else in the house, carpeted.



You can see the orange carpet in one of the bedrooms, and just in front of that, what we've been calling "the icon closet" (it finally decided to become a linen closet). The door to the basement is open. I don't know why. You can't see the old coat closet (now the washer/dryer cubby), but it's just past that door. The hall looks really long, to me, in this picture. I'm not sure why.

Nothing new to report on the whole process; out came the paneling, the carpet, the subfloor, and the doors. (The basement door we just cleaned and left on because, really, that was better than leaving the basement exposed. Ew.) So, here it is, a bit barren, but no longer inciting the willies in passersby. (This was taken from the other end of the hall, looking back toward the living room.)



And here, as it has spent the majority of our time thus far, with walls, paint, subfloor. And, it has two lights, one at each end, rather than one in the middle. The exciting stuff is in all the wiring, but you can't see that. It's a little plain vanilla, but how much time does one spend in the hallway? It's clean and not health-threatening. We'll hang stuff later, when decorations rise to the surface of the priority heap, um, list.



And then, only a year later (*snort*), here we are!



Miss Emily is thrilled with the new floor!



There's a lot of trim and detail work still to be done. But it's the fine carpentry stuff (such as borders near a few edges for the paint changes, since we used bullnose beading on the corners and that doesn't give a good, clean edge for a color change, baseboards - you can see that in detail.) But don't they look happy? And mostly clean?



And, if you'll pardon the mess (it's only about 50 feet from the front door to the kitchen, as the crow flies, but with everything upended while we work on the floor, it's a good two-mile hike over everything), here's a look at the foyer, from the living area. That arch is my happy spot. When I get overwhelmed by it all and think we'll never be finished, I sit in the kitchen and look over at my arch. *happy sigh*



Tomorrow, more flooring to put down. We're a little over halfway done with all of it, so that feels good. There's just a lot of shuffling, feeding, and tending to be done amidst all of it, so it's a slow process. But thanks for being patient and encouraging. It's really coming along. We forget just how much, until we look at the "before" pictures. That drives the changes home pretty quickly. It's amazing how quickly something can become "how it's always been" - it's an encouraging sensation.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, September 11

This time, it's personal

There's mold, and this time, it's taken things a bit too far. It can no longer infest our mildew-resistant walls. It cannot fight the power of climate controlled air and tight plumbing. It cannot stand up to gutter control.

So it went after my books.

It must die. Oh, yes.

I won't complain if I have to redo a house or something, but you don't mess with da books! Grrrr.

From what we can gather, the seemingly dry basement walls were just damp enough to wick moisture into the boxes that touched the wall. Cardboard then goes from being "handy storage" to "mold feeding water capacitor" and Voila! There goes an entire weekend hauling all the books up out of the basement for a little fresh air and your standard pre-incarceration delousing. Damn, that makes me mad.

Work progressed on the school room, between creepy loads up from the basement. More plans for major renovation - this time involving new roof trusses and a vaulted ceiling. The hurrier we go, the behinder we get. (Was that Winnie the Pooh?) Anyhow, I believe now that keeping our eyes on future projects prevents us from becoming mired in the despair that is the current project. Eh. Okay. Everyone has their drug of choice. Denial is ours, and we'll take it straight up, thanks.

Thanks for the birthday wishes for Smidge. He had a fantastic birthday. I'll post pictures when we get the thing with the card thing hooked back up. (My IT brain is gone for the day, so that's the best I've got.)

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, June 12

Rollin', rollin', rollin'...

RAWHIDE!!

Of course, at the moment, I'm singing the Billy Crystal version, not the original. Weee-dawgies, am I sore! However, it's the excruciating pain of accomplishment, and so I will only whimper mildly and promise not to use swear words.

The Closet Room is now just about empty and ready for finishing. Who knew we had so much crap er, treasured material? That room had become the pat answer to the age old question, "Hey, what do you want me to do with this *insert random homeless item*?" From what I found today, it seems the answer is, "Just put it in the closet room and we'll figure it out later." Ah, well, who knew "later" meant "June 11th"? Now you know. And if you've been putting anything off until later, well, you missed it. And now you're behind the curve, so you'd best get on it, okay? Okay.

Did the thorough once-over on the boys' room: reorganized the bookshelf, culled the clothing, sorted/culled the toys, vacuumed, rearranged the closet, boxed and unboxed a number of boxy-like things, cleaned the ceiling fan. It looks much better now, and is just about ready for pictures. We're going to have to move Smidge and Miss Emily out of there soon, though - that poor room can't quite handle all the things and energy of three and a half children.

Zorak worked in the basement, worked on the icon shelf, changed the oil in the pick up, and hung the bow rack. Busy man, he. The soon-to-be-linen-closet is now sheetrocked and taped. The mud is drying and he'll put the second coat on tomorrow after work. It already looks scads better. I can't wait til we can put our linens in there and get them out of the hallway, the bathroom counter, the dresser tops. Yeah. That'll be nice.

Oh, and I'm SO excited! Zorak said he'd take the children for a few hours sometime before the HVAC guy comes back to set the units so that I can CLEAN! Yippee! I love teaching the boys how to do the daily things, but I must admit it's a quirky little thrill for me to clean when there are no children helping, no hubby meandering about, no toddlers coming in behind me to undo the work I've just done. And if I work quickly, I can usually get in half an hour to sit in a clean, quiet home with a good book and just enjoy looking up every couple of pages at the beautiful space around me. That's better than therapy and alcohol! *happy sigh* I love that man.

Today was really. stinking. hot. Thankfully, we did have water. Good stuff, all around. I brought out all of the family games we've purchased over the years (and spent good time and energy avoiding). But now, they're out. They are accessible. Smidge went nuts and I just melted when he asked, "Mama, play game with you?" So James, Smidge and I played a few games of dominoes before supper. Smidge "helped". James was very patient. John played a dinosaur memory game. He and Smidge built domino designs to knock down. It was, aside from the sweat pouring off our chins, quite idyllic. The chess set James got for his birthday last year was in the unearthed box, so it came out, as well. We'll add that to our afternoon relaxation time and see if we can develop any skill.

Zorak and I stood in the basement tonight, looking at all that still needs to be done and he said, "See that drain pipe over there? That's where we started." And I knew exactly what he meant. There is much still to be done, but it's nothing compared to what we have done already, and it's a good, good feeling. Standing arm-in-arm in a damp, disheveled basement, staring at pipes may not be everybody's idea of romance, but it did the trick this afternoon. How could I not be totally in love with a man who would do all this for his family?

And on that note, I am going to take a much-needed shower, check on the babies, and hit the hay. Have a splendid week!

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Friday, April 21

A Few Things for Fun

Hey! Thanks for the help with names. I think John will be Chet, and Miss Emily will be Miss M. Those made me smile. I was leaning toward "Smiley", but then... today happened, and... yeah. She's gonna have to earn that one. ;-)

Janet, I don't think we count as Trekkies at all. We know nothing about Star Trek beyond what one can pick up on random episodes shown on UPN when nothing else is on, and general cultural knowledge. They probably wouldn't let us into a convention. I do, admittedly, have a longstanding crush on Patrick Stewart, but it's tied mostly to my affinity for older men, Earl Grey tea, rich and velvety voices, and Shakespeare... *wistful sigh*

*ahem* So. Where was I? Oh, yes, tidbits.

Our foyer is malingering. Poor thing.

momanna98, the basement and how we sealed it? Well, it's not "done", but it didn't take much to make major strides in it, really. The first thing we did was clear out The Scary Room and lay new temporary drains in the back of the house. Then we yanked out the old A/C unit, which was where The Queen Cricket of one of the several cricket tribes held court, and filled the vent hole where it entered the house. Whomever installed it had just knocked out concrete blocks until the unit could fit, then knocked out a few more for good measure. Plus, the unit itself was badly damaged and had holes and dips that collected water which drained into the basement. So, fixing that helped. French drain and new gutters are coming soon - they will make the bulk of the improvements. The current gutter design is to dump ALL the water off one corner on the uphill end of the house. That's what's causing the Zen Waterfall and overall foundation erosion. Lovely plan, if that's what they were shooting for. If not, then this is yet another "wow, I hope they didn't pay someone to do this" project. And finally, we'll replace the current doors with new headers and french doors leading out to what will one day be a covered patio (you know, when we no longer live in fear that the balcony will collapse on it). We *think* that will do the trick. I don't know. But drainage is a HUGE key to drying out a basement. Unless you want to dig up around the perimeter and lay a sealant on that side, you're probably not going to have any luck putting things inside to seal it up w/o doing some drainage work.

James asked the other day about the Right of Redemption deadline, and when I told him it's about three weeks away, he made the funniest face and literally squeaked, "Ohhhhh, the tension is RISING!" Made me laugh. We were worried about whether we made the right call in telling the boys about it, but I think we did. All options are known, and so if something should happen, they won't be thrown for as big a loop. We've taken it as calmly as possible, and so the boys do, too. (I did talk with Zorak today about what we would do if... We agreed that we'd look for another fixer-upper and start all over again. It's official. We're idiots.)

Smidge had the best day of. his. life. today. We picked strawberries at a little farm just down the road. I don't think I've ever seen him have such a grand time. The older boys enjoyed it, as well, but they remember doing it before. For Smidge, this had that whole inner dialog going: "Huh? You mean I CAN pick them? And I can EAT them? And I can throw them in this great bucket you let me have? Oh, you are THE BEST!" We could all stand to reach down and find that kind of new joy in something every day, because it looked like a whole lot of fun.

And now, I am going to start working on uploading photos, so that's all the blogging for tonight.

Kiss those babies!
~Dy

Monday, April 10

Home Improvement as Marriage Therapy

There's just nothing quite like doing demolition on a home to bring a couple together. It's a giddy mix of power (we just took out a WALL, people) and creativity (and we're gonna put in our OWN wall) that makes you feel like a celebrity power couple.

Unfortunately, once that wall is out, you've got to keep it together long enough to close the gaping hole in your wall and remove any trace that you've done renovation. (When we were house hunting, I remember coming to a home that looked like it was scabbed together out of Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, and salvage brick, held together with Gorilla Glue. Z and I could not make eye contact as the realtor gushed about how the owner had done a lot of work on the house. You don't say? I'm thankful for those experiences, though, because they cemented in our minds the importance of renovations or additions looking both Intentional and Original.) And that's where the fun starts. But it's good fun, because although you're going to run into friction and frustration, if you can keep it together, you'll have built a monument to your teamwork - and that is fantastic.

So we ripped out the nasty basement doors this weekend. These things had worked for all they could. I honor their efforts. I'm not even convinced they were meant to be exterior doors, but they did what they could for four decades. The original threshold was compost, now - rich, dark soil beneath the aluminum, there. The doors themselves had rotted away around the bottom years before we bought the house. We closed the doors mostly out of habit, and in an attempt to keep some of the outside air outside. But snakes, spiders, mice, and a fairly determined toddler could all get through. The sidelights were homemade, and looked it. The years had not been kind to what was probably marginally attractive to begin with. All in all, the doors were the biggest stumbling block to making the basement livable space, and I've been looking forward to this for 12 years!

The rough opening is 112" wide. That doesn't sound terribly big until you're standing in it, four abreast, thinking, "Damn, we should have bought a garage door for this thing." But, no. No, I wanted French doors. I wanted light and an inviting entry. What was I thinking? I'm so lucky Z loves me.

Because working with cinder block and concrete is, evidently, hard, the rough opening was neither square nor plumb. So we had to frame that out to get it to some semblance of squareish and plumbish without having an entire 8x10 protruding from the outer bricks at one corner. Fortunately, we can frame together like pros. There's just no room to argue over whether something is 90 degrees or not. This is a good time for a marriage. You work together. You measure, secure, check. High five. Good, good stuff. If you're married to someone like me, you get to laugh at their attempts to actually hit the nail. If you're married to someone like Z, you get to sigh in awe at their ability to make something out of nothing. I hope at least one of you is like Z.

Then comes the harrowing task of trying to move a door that's big and heavy, without twisting it or scuffing it or dropping it. Without a crew. (We technically have a three-man crew, but one was at work, one was dancing, and one was watching the dance. So it was just the two of us, in the dark, reconsidering whether we think we're old yet.) This is where you think, "Glass? Really? Just had to have glass, didn't I?" But it's OK because your partner is thinking the exact same thing about you... So at least you're still on the same page.

And now, you really get to work on your marriage skills: installing the door. You'd think this would be pretty straightforward and simple, but it's not. There are different philosophies about how to get things done, who holds it up, or what steps are necessary and what steps are mostly just guidelines. You'll both think you're right. You'll both want to forge ahead and do it your way. But unless you're each putting in your own door, that's not going to work. For us, this is usually the longest part of a job - the part where we have to determine a path forward that takes in both our perspectives, both our visions, both our experiences. You're going to unearth a lot of unspoken frustrations, and a lot of deeply seated irritants. But hang in there. Hold your tongue. Take coffee breaks. Eat protein. Breathe deeply and pray. Kiss each other often, and laugh. (But not a maniacal laughter - that's usually not helpful.) For what it's worth, it took us one afternoon to frame in the rough opening. It took us two days to get the doors squared, secured, and sealed.

Still easier on a marriage than running electrical wire. So, there's that.

And now, we have beautiful French doors that allow you to look in on what is, clearly, an abandoned storage shed...

I guess now we have to work on making the basement fit the doors. But we'll do it together.

Be encouraged!

~ Dy