Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My First 38 Caliber Bullet

Cocking a gun doesn't come natural to most women, and setting the hammer was the easy part. (The hard part was figuring out that a bullet is needed to launch the nail and frankly, figuring out what size nail to use in the first place.) My first nail was shot into a 2x4 stringer on the block wall and the kickback was thrilling. Nonetheless, I gave the Remington back to Will to finish installing the rest so we could hang siding and transform our 'basement with a roof' into an 'environmentally friendly earth home hillside lodge'.

Here's what got done and we learned:

Hydro-expansion cement does work . . . if you can apply it in the 3 minutes before it clumps; the caulk gun is a great tool . . . when you remember to pucture the seal in the caulk tube first;
painting is easy . . . except over your head (with no ladder) or over wall-paper over plaster coated over block. Let's just say it was easier to allow the whole muck to turn into paper-mache and leave it in place. We're going to drywall over it anyhow, right?

Even I can install a window . . . if someone else frames it out; pink fiberboard insulation can be snapped just like drywall . . . if scored first with a utility knife; tools are handy . . . if I would only return them to my apron pocket after use! Liquid nails really do work; instruction books are also useful, if read; Wood siding is easy to handle but different from aluminum which has pre-scored holes. It actually needs to be nailed in, low on the board, so that the next piece can slide into the groove at the top. I had to ask the hardware guy after I couldn't figure it out for myself. A nights' sleep lost for nothing.
My favorite "aha" this week is that the guys at the hardware store must have had sensitivity training - they no longer roll their eyes when I ask stupid questions like "can I return all that PVC guttering?" and "can you pick it up cause I don't have a truck?"

BTW - That PVC guttering is crap. At least the aluminum stuff can be cut, bent and pounded to fit. And I already have metal shears. Next week . . . fun with cement!

I Love that Bad Dog!

When visitors arrive the dogs have to be on their best behavior, and that means it's kennel time.

Too bad that I didn't lock both doors on the dog crate when putting the dogs in the downstairs bathroom before work.

Our 10-month old boxer-doodle Sparticus even jumped into the shower and pulled the shampoos off the top ledge. Our Scotty dogs Toby (11) and his wife Missy (7) were horrified I'm sure.

It's a good thing I arrived home first. After I stopped laughing and let the dogs out so they didn't pee on the carpet , I hurriedly took these photos and then picked up. My husband was already annoyed about a third dog.

Hey, love happens. And this one happened to make a big mess.

Are the Pelicans Lost or Did I Miss Something in Biology Class?

This is the 2nd year that Pelicans have landed on our lake here in Nebraska. Last year there were a few Pelicans and hundreds of Cormorants. This year, well, take a look. On the coldest days they huddled together, hundreds of them, like a huge mound of marshmallows. Other birds showing up about the same time included Blue Herons, a White Egret. A few weeks later the Green Heron showed up and we could hear woodpeckers, and owls. The wildlife is the best part of our home in Nebraska. The worst part? We're 1,400 miles from mom, grandpa and the kids.

Grandpa's still getting phone numbers shoved into his pockets!

Last Saturday night, mom and I were worried when we returned home after seeing Jim Kalhorn in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Glenwood community theater. My husband and grandpa were missing at 11 pm. Grandpa has Alzheimers and is usally in bed by 8, but my husband had offered to take him to dinner and they hadn't returned. Mom and I headed into town, found the truck parked in front of a local bar and were taken back by the sight of the two of them sitting at the bar with two young girls. Now my husband is a good looking, and quiet man, but the girls (ages 30 and 37) were hanging off grandpa! We helped grandpa make his way to the truck and home after having a drink together and all he could remember in the morning is that "there were some nice looking girls at the bar." He was really working the crowd that night, saying hello to everyone and joking with people at each table. In the morning, the proof of his evening was in his pocket. Amanda's phone number. Grandpa, you still got it going on!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Water Runs Downhill

We finally got our utility company Aquila to come out and bury the gas line after our grader hit it in the fall. Hey, we're all for calling Diggers hotline (we did that), but is it our fault the gas line was buried 6 inches below grade when it's supposed to be burried 3 feet deep? So the grader got a bill for over $500 and we'd fight except it's already been turned over to collections. This lesson is costly and we don't want to ruin anyone's credit.

The dented gas line did cause a few months delay (uh, we call it 'winter' here). All that time, water continued to run down the property and pour into the foundation. Thanks to our AirForce 'helper' the gutters were pulled off and the dirt pulled away from the house with an idea to put in a drain tile, but the water damage continued until thelot was graded. Somehow the drain tile and gutters never got put back up. (Something about Chad going drinking last weekend and having his keys taken away?) Anyhow, best not to drink and drive. The foundation will dry out, eventually.

Today I drove the lot across the graded driveway. I checked the block inside and it is dry so the grading worked. Hey, Jay Sorenson told me, "water runs downhill" - to him the solution was obvious. Grade the dirt so that it's higher at the foundation and then water will flow down away from the foundation. It didn't hurt that we used waterproof cement on Saturday to seal up any cracks inside after cleaning the wall with concrete cleaner. Our soil is clay so it will 'seal' outside.

One of our AirForce recruits is actually willing to read labels at the hardware store. This weekend we'll paint on the expansion waterseal and then he'll finally get to use the Remington gun to nail 2x2 stringers on the wall. Loud noises. We know what motivates!