Category Archives: Projects

Burst of Energy!

panoramic-photo-project-status-12-20-16It’s been a few weeks since my last post.  I’ve been putting the time to good use in my attic room conversion!  All the sheetrock is hung, 90% of the taping is complete and at least one coat of “mud” has been applied.  The finish skim coat has been applied on about 10%.  I hope to get the rest of the taping/mud done this week and possibly the texturing sometime around Christmas.  The panoramic view might be difficult to get a good idea of the room.  It helps to orientate yourself if you imagine the wooden door and the glass door as opposite each other.

framed-and-insulated

Overkill Support Beam

Here’s another view of the early days when I first split the room in half at the top of the stairwell.  I’m not very fast, but it is getting done.  I used to be able to work only a half day on Saturday.  Since I’ve been sleeping better, I can now do an hour or so here and there after work and a whole day on Saturday.  If I had a whole Saturday!  I can also wake up as a functioning human by 8:00 a.m. now.  It used to take me until 10:00 a.m. to be able to think straight at work.

 

It’s been a large project, but I wanted to do everything above code requirements.  I’ve managed to do a lot of the construction using recycled/reclaimed materials.  The drywall looks like a puzzle because a lot of it was left over from construction sites.  It was free because the corners were slightly damaged.  I managed to get contractor packs of insulation for $50.00 at a going out of business sale.  I saved almost $500.00 there!  I did have to invest in two new LED lights and a fan.  I paid a professional electrician to alter the wiring.  My HVAC guy at work gave me the “T” to divert A/C and heat from the main line and coached me on how to do it myself.

I’ve made tentative arrangements with a High School senior art student to use the wall with the wooden door as a canvas for a senior project. Maybe a Dawn Redwood.  I love all things Sequoia!  I’ll post a photo if that happens.

The room is a little more private that my other bedrooms and I hope to have some very special visitors in it!  I think my WWOOFer* will like it!  I plan on giving them three choices of where to sleep.  This next year will be exciting as I attempt to transition from a consumer to a sustainable producer of my own food.  Who needs well over 5,000 sq. ft. of green lawn?  I would much rather have some zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, herbs and more in my garden.

*World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  WWOOF has allowed Urban Gardens into the organization.  I already have a couple of WWOOFers that are interested in visiting my “garden”, several want to help in laying out the new format I’ve chosen.

https://wwoofusa.org/

Lots of changes, exciting times!

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Filed under Garden, Homeowner, Prepare, Projects, Urban Farming, WWOOF

Want vs. Need

Loft Update 9-2016.jpgMy fingers are itching to plant something so bad!!!!  Winter garden anyone? No, that is not on the list.  Sigh! Mrs. Winchester wins again!  Keep on building.

The loft room is almost done.  The electrical is mostly complete, the fan and second light fixture will be installed after the paint work is done.  I finally found a solid core door that will fit and if you look at the 8×8 block of wood on the right side of the roof, that is where I will eventually punch a hole into the main part of the house.  I still need to complete the short wall frame on the right and build a bench over the A/C.  I have purchased all the parts for the A/C vent into the room waiting for the box to be built.

I was rushing to give my adult kids more space to move back in.  They gave notice and are in the process of buying their first house.  Bad news is the good news, depending on how you look at it.

The Good News

  • They found a house they loved right away.
  • It’s close to me.
  • Their offer was accepted.
  • It’s in escrow, waiting for the home inspections now.

The Bad News

  • They found a house they loved right away.
  • Their offer was accepted.

Some of the pressure is off to finish the room and I’ve been lazy, feeling under the weather this week.  Mostly I think it is from the barometer dancing up and down with the weather.  We had some rain, but I was at work and didn’t get to enjoy it.  I did go outside for a quick minute to do my traditional dance in the rain.  I love to light a fire in the fire-place and read my Nook by firelight with a bowl of soup and freshly baked bread.  I’m making my own bread again, this time with bromine free flour!  (This is important for hypothyroid issues, metabolic syndrome or anyone with hormone issues of any kind!)

I added the rest of the single pane windows to the list so it bumped back up to 38.  That’s a lot better than 100 that we started with when we bought the home.  It will happen, I keep reminding myself that God is still in control and to just take it one nail at a time.

Instead of planting, I went online and selected what I want in my organic CSA box next week.  I can wait.  Retirement is not that far away and although I really want to build those raised garden beds, I need to finish the loft and balcony first!

Blessings to you all, remember to pray for Florida this week!

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I Can Sleep When I’m Retired?

Most of the insulation is done for the attic space that will be closed in as a bonus room.  The wiring is complete and I only need to build the wall out that the door will be installed on.  I drove my trusty truck and picked up 10 sheets of drywall.  Now, how do I get those 10 sheets up the garage stairs into the attic?

Daughter is on a weight restriction, no go.
Son-in-law is working late, too late.
Foster son is working overtime, too tired.
Neighbors are out-of-town, no go.
Friends are older than me, nope.

Pastor Andy’s sermon from Sunday reminded us that we can create our own loneliness and isolation.  When we are hurt or even grieving, we withdraw and then wonder why we are lonely.  He challenged us to reach out instead of withdrawing, to ask for help when we really need it.  O.K. so is this a test to see if I was listening?  We have a neighborhood watch app for my street that includes four or five neighboring streets.  I posted a note that I needed help unloading 10 sheets of drywall.  A kind husband/wife team in their 70’s were the ones that showed up to help.  The wife and I switched off carrying one end and the husband carried the low-end.  I was very grateful for their help and sent them home with jam, honey and a dozen eggs from the girls.  They were so helpful and would not accept money, true neighbors!

I checked the punch list.  I’ve been telling people I was down to 30 something.  I’m happy to say that I am down to 28, Whoot!  Down from the original 100 and no under 30!  Tonight I will be cutting drywall to fit into the small spaces.  Tomorrow night my son-in-law will be over with his might and height to help with the ceiling drywall.

Sigh!  I will be happy when all the construction projects are finished.

28

 

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The Sounds of Mrs. Winchester

Ahh, September, and a better attitude!

The kids call me Mrs. Winchester because of my “punch list”.  I can hire the work done or live comfortably in retirement.  So this month I have been hanging insulation in the attic, framing in part of it, and finishing with drywall.  I need to have the painting and carpet done by the end of the month.

I’ve put the screws to my independent daughter to move back in with me.  I have all this space to myself and not even a cat shares it with me now.  I want to be able to travel when I retire and having the kids there will give me freedom.  My house has two bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs with the master on the first floor.  That gives them a certain degree of privacy and the bonus room in the attic will give them even more space to spread out and two external entrances once the deck is rebuilt.  Plus, there is the added security of having a large 6′ something man hanging around brings as well as fewer hours the house is unoccupied.  They will bring with them two hefty attack cats.

The original deck was causing a major water problem and mold so it had to come down.  I hope to have it rebuilt by the end of October but the City is a bit slow on the permitting process.  It will provide even more privacy and a nice relaxation space overlook the backyard.

I’m a bit frustrated because I can measure, cut and place the boards, but I can’t seem to seat those screws and I have to ask a manly man to come finish them off for me.  So much for equality of the sexes, we are equal, just not the same. Sigh! At least this way the work progresses and I don’t have to wait for someone to donate their free time.  Mr. T or my friend Dahve are happy to finish off those screws since it doesn’t take much time.  Dahve is always ready to give me building advice.  He dropped by this week because I was two inches off and didn’t see how to solve the problem.  He had a quick answer that provided a nice finished look.  There is no substitute for experience!

The chickens are doing fine, enjoying the seeds from the spent cardone.  I didn’t get to cook and eat much this year because of my schedule so I let it go to seed.  The vocal birds encouraged this.  My feathered friends come when I get close to the plants and bock at me to pull the fluffy tufts to get the seeds.  They push each other out of the way to compete for treats.  I’m constantly amazed by these dinosaur relics.  Their fantastic eyesight is demonstrated as they zone in on the little seeds and pluck them with 100% accuracy out of my hand, never hitting my hand once!  Chicken T.V. is still the best show around.

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Mrs. Winchester – Today

People acquainted with me know about “the list”.  We bought an older home that needed a “few” repairs.  The punch list was 100 items long, my beloved completed the first 25 and then was promoted to work full-time for Jesus.  That left me with 75 items and very few skills.  I have drive, determination, an advisor and WiFi.

I watch a lot of fix it shows on Dish and even more You Tube videos on “how to”.  Once I have gained enough knowledge to ask intelligent questions, I ask my advisor Dahve what he thinks.  He thinks I’m funny.  I’m really not trying to be.

So there is always construction going on since it takes me forever to complete even a simple task.  Sustainable construction is the newest catch phrase.  I’m good with that, I need raised garden beds and I have this pile of old wood.  I can do that.  Sigh, it takes me an hour to pull the nails, scrape off the foam and get one long board ready to cut down for a garden bed.  I have two completed and need at least two more.  It was a little disappointing not to have something completed so I installed my rain gutter garden on the shady side of the house and planted my parsley and cilantro seedlings.  It looks a little wavy so I probably should have used more than four washers and screws.  I got a little distracted with the camera and thought you would enjoy my Cardoon (or cardonni) plants in bloom.  They are not artichokes, which are cultivated for the bulb, but are in the same family.  I can’t possibly eat all of this but I did discover the single ladies (chickens) love, love, love the seeds that hide in the dried thistle.  If you look close, you can find more than one or two of my bees nestled down in the purple fluff searching for pollen.  Guaranteed pollination!  Cardoon is an Italian veggie and you eat the celery looking stalks which does taste like artichokes, yum!  Hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

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Filed under Bees, Chickens, Garden, Homeowner, Photography, Projects, Urban Farming

Punching the List

Punch list update! 

The short story, we bought a house, made a repair “punch” list, closed a business, inherited a quilters will, a crafters will, my favorite maiden aunt died and my beloved got sick.  Then he died, all within three years. Breathe.

My beloved managed to slice a good portion of the 100 item punch list before he was promoted to engineer for Jesus full time.  The twenty five items he completed were big ones that would have been costly for me to hire to complete.  He rewired walls and the main panel, replaced rafters, installed two sprinkler systems, built a staircase, installed a floor in the two lofts and more.  I am so thankful for what he managed to complete!  The 76 items left loom over me like an oncoming freight train.  I budgeted for them carefully and set a priority for each item and began to tackle them one by one. 

Saturday morning I was able to put the final coat of paint on the trim around a sliding glass door and hang the blinds.  This was the completion of a long drawn out item that included: repairing water damage to the wall, removing its cause, associated black mold, insulation and drywall, some wiring and replacing a damaged outside light fixture.  I lost the alarm, electricity, light and phone on that wall due to the water damage.  The patio cover on the outside of the wall had to also be removed and the damage to the stucco repaired and trim replaced.  Research and technical advice on how to proceed were required to proceed.  It also required I face my Kryptonite, multiple trips to the big box hardware stores where the service is less than desirable when you don’t know what you are doing!  I am sooooooooooo happy that this wall is done!!!!!!!

I haven’t been brave enough during the last few months to even look at the outstanding punch list.  I could only deal with one overwhelming task at a time so, what was the point.  Today I opened up the Excel spreadsheet to move the wall repairs to the completed page and do a review/update of my remaining tasks.  There are some larger ticket items on the list that include:  insulate attic, tile the master shower, replace kitchen window and associated water damage on that wall, replace water damaged kitchen cabinets, remove two crumbling cement pads, replace patio pad, new patio/balcony (old one is removed), new construction of walkway from bedroom to landing in loft.  There are a total of 30 items, the rest are easier and lower cost.  The budget for the entire list is $33,960.00.  I feel so broke just looking at it!  Items that I complete myself will lower the cost but take longer.  Welcome to homeownership.

A review of the completed page revealed that I was completing the tasks at a rate of one a month.  Good right?  At this rate, I will finish the list in almost three years.  I really need it done in two so I can retire and transition to a fixed income.  That means I need to complete seventeen tasks this year, thirteen tasks in 2017 and four tasks in 2018 for a total of 34.  The last four tasks are looking like they may have to just stay a wish and a dream. Reality is, I may not have the money to complete them.

Who knows, if I am brave enough and talented enough to actually finish my three novels and sell them, it might just work out.  My home is no longer the horrible looking pit it was when we bought it in a short sale.  It’s still in the needs improvement  category but I have two neighbors that have usurped me in the “worst” house spot. Each item I can complete on the punch list only improves the look and value of my home. 

The land of optimism is a much better place to live than the dark side.  There are more sane people there.

 

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Rain in California = Indoor Projects

Textured wall sm

Post Writers Conference To-Do List, Homeowners To-Do List, Work To-Do List, and then there is the offspring Mom “can you” To-Do List.  I need to retire to get some work done!

My Homeowners To-Do List is the one that weighs on me the most.  It is in my face and doesn’t go away unless I’m sleeping.  It is still there in the morning when I wake up.  We purchased the home in 2008 and a series of events quickly overtook us.  My beloved was able to complete 25 of the 100 projects on our punch list.  He tackled the biggest and most expensive ones first before he was pulled away by 60 hour work weeks and his eventual death by job in 2013.  The official cause was pneumonia; only because Americans don’t have the term the Japanese use, Karoshi (death by job). He worked himself to death and I’m trying my best to find balance in my life and not follow his example.

I’m grateful for the 25 items he did get done and the 40 that I have completed in the last four years.  Projects including removing hazardous trees, painting, trim work and laying a 1,100 sq. ft. hardwood floor.  That leaves me 35 to tackle.  I am frustrated with my inability to get things done quickly. I would really like to take a shower in the master bathroom but that project does not rise to the top of the priority level.

With a heavy heart, I must add several projects to the list.  The last heavy rain shook me out of my denial and I must replace another window.  I have a heavy heart because I do not possess the ability to replace a window and will need to pay someone to do it. The leaking has been going on for so long behind the paint the sill is a void in the corner. When wiping up the water my finger went through the paint.  I have also decided to add a false wall to hide a butler’s pantry in the great room.  I can do the wall myself if my handyman places the floor plates for me.  I’ve decided this is the best way to stage everything for my kitchen replacement that way most of the mess will be hidden  The cabinets are either water damaged or were chewed on by the previous owner’s dogs.  I still have not replaced the ugly kitchen floor.  I really wanted to run the bamboo flooring into the kitchen but the grandchildren have made me rethink.  My 11 year old grandson has dropped a regular hammer and a small sledgehammer on the new hardwood in the den and left dents, major bummer.  I am having problems with him in understanding that grandpa’s tools are not his just because grandpa won’t be using them anymore.

This week, I need to finish several things so I can get outside when the rain stops!  The trim is now nailed up on the water damaged wall in the den after six trips to unhelpful big box hardware stores to find the right piece!  I’ve already painted the repaired area (photo shows texturing only).  So close, and then this item comes off the list!  I will also complete one more transition in the hallway floor and a second clear coat for the garage threshold. Three items this week, I think that will be enough.

When I’m not pretending to be Mrs. Winchester, I also have two literary deadlines before March 15 and an unlimited supply of overtime that I resist almost daily, almost.  The frustration level is very high this week and I have to constantly remind myself to trust God will bring me through it all.

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Filed under Grief, Homeowner, Prepare, Projects, Stress Reduction, Writing

Spring – Are You There?

I’ve always believed in goals but now that I am a fine and fancy widow, goals have become a critical part of my mental and emotional health.  I no longer am delighted with the love and approval reflected in my beloved’s eyes so I need to measure my own success.  This was a skill that I did not develop until I was 40.  I was not raised to believe in myself and my own success.  I was raised to always put myself last and to endure whatever was thrown at me, including fists.  Having someone believe in you can change your entire outlook on life.  I know it did for me.

I’m suffering from the early stages of spring fever.  My project list is down from 100 to 36 and I am itching to finish something.  The project list doesn’t include the new planter boxes I want or any gardening tasks! I don’t have the baseboard molding 100% done, I need a threshold and door sweep weather stripping installed and there is a 2′ x 3′ section of flooring still left to complete.  The problem is I need the big saw to complete these tasks.  It’s put up for the winter.  During the summer when the rains have passed, I leave the saw out under the awning and put it away for family get togethers.  I was going to drag it out for a few hours on Saturday but there was a light drizzle during the daylight that turned in to a rain at night.

We need the rain desperately!  One of the main NorCal water reservoirs is the Folsom Lake.  The marina has floating boat slip/docks.  They have been laying on dirt for over a year now.  We are far from being out of the water crisis but, I was so happy to see the live camera shot of floating docks!  Folsom Lake Marina Live Cam  Boats are permitted for launch starting this Saturday. Please pray for more snow in the Sierras.

FL Marina on dirt FL Marina Cam 2-5-16

Folsom Lake at capacity would mean plenty of water for the American River and all the towns between Sacramento to San Francisco.  It would mean no restricted watering.  One of the projects on the “list” is to change 1,800 sq. ft. of grass service into stamped concrete.  I removed another 400 sq. ft. from the front yard but never finished the project.  That will require some dirt excavation, a tree removal (it’s touching the roof), a walkway removal and another concrete pour.  Oh, and I’m not supposed to lift over 40 lbs. while doing it!

But the “list” is not getting any shorter, I need to accomplish something!  Arrrrgh!  My doctor said I was supposed to be kind and gentle with myself and stop beating myself up so much, to take it easy.  Raised in a performance for love environment, this is extremely hard for me even today.

I could work overtime tomorrow but I don’t think that is going to happen.  Too much goes to taxes and then there is the “list”.  The sun is supposed to shine from 6 a.m. to noon and then cloudy for the rest of the day.  President’s weekend is booked solid for the SAN FRANCISCO WRITER’S CONFERENCE (woot!) so I won’t be working on my projects then.  What’s that old saying, make hay while the sun shines or, in my case, finish something!  I can at least say my writing goals are fairly up to date.  I’ve started a local writing critique group and surrounded myself with author support. How are you sticking to your goals?

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Filed under Garden, Grief, Inspiration, Projects, SFWC, Uncategorized, Urban Farming

NaNo Recovery

 

Last night I met up with a teacher friend who was writing a final for her high school students at Denney’s, a local diner.  This was my first public writing effort since November 30th.  I love the National Novel Writing Month each November.  I’m a technical writer and edit as I write. This is great for work but bogs down the novel writing efforts to a crawl.  NaNo has really helped me to “turn off my inner editor” and make real headway on my projects.

The Christmas season is upon us with a whirl of regulatory deadlines, school events and parties.  Last night may be my only effort squeezed into December as the overtime ramps up.  January will be here soon enough and my fellow NaNo’s (or WriMo’s) want to get together for a regular, more casual, event.

Today, I am adding new external links on my employer’s safety website and came across this from the America’s PreparAthon website.  (FEMA) It is my response to the statement I often get from people I fail to understand, “Why would you want to get involved?”

The answer:  https://youtu.be/qBrMU0sLoHQ

http://community.fema.gov/

Keep America strong!

Love those around you and Stay Safe out there!

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Bitter Fruit – Introducing – the Limequat

Limequats

Limequats

The Limequat tree is a cross between a Lime and a Kumquat or so I have been told. Why? The fruit is so bitter that it will numb your mouth, your tongue or any other mucus membrane it touches on its way down to your stomach. If you don’t throw up first. Just nasty. I have found no known use for this prolific fruit.

Contrast that with the very sweet fruit I tasted on my trip to Italy. I was very impressed with the community in Sant’ Orsola, when I visited with family a few years ago. It was my only trip, so far, and I loved it! I was loved and accepted unconditionally and it was a bit overwhelming at first. It was a happy discovery! My cousin, Paolina, and I walked through the town and up the hill on the paved road. She speaks no English and I speak very bad German and even worse Italian. She speaks Italian, Mochini and some German. It was fun to communicate with each other as she pointed out different things and gave me the Italian or Mochini words.

What was the most surprising is how the community reinvented itself to revive the economy. They have a thriving tourist economy, host sports events, and grow fruit, one among the many different types is Lemons. Yes, Lemons in the Alps. I was there during the summer but I could see the structure around the trees ready for the sheeting that would turn that section of the valley into an enormous greenhouse. Not sure how they handled the snow?

My California yard should be able to grow just about anything. I have a pretty little tree that produces fruit like crazy. The only problem is I have not been able to find a single use for the fruit.   A co-worker didn’t believe me so I brought some in. He tried it, only to spit it quickly into the trash and say; that’s just nasty! I told him it was.

So the nasty tree is at the bottom of my epic to do list. The list was at 75 items at the time of my beloved’s death and I have managed to whack it down to 34. The easy stuff is done, can I call the list nasty? It is certainly bitter that my beloved is not here to partner with me in finishing the list but, I am vigilant not to become bitter. I keep telling myself that I can’t retire until the list is completed It’s the journey not the destination, right! At this pace I will be 75 when that happens as I keep adding to it almost as fast as I complete items. Sigh! When is my next vacation day?

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