Friday, July 16, 2010

Grace is now over one month old. She just passed 30 pounds today. She has a good buddy - a fawn colored male who was born on the 4th of July. Betty is calling Deganawida, who was a native American known as The Great Peacemaker. He along with Hiawatha are credited with founding the Iroquois Confederacy, a union of native american tribes in New York. Betty thought that was a fitting name for being born on the 4th of July. This little guy has taken a shine to Grace and they can often be seen wrestling and chasing each other around the pasture. (Not to mention, he seems a bit precocious, already climbing on her back and orgling!). It is so much fun to watch this little herd of fuzzy babies running full-speed across the grass. After all that chasing, Joy takes a break in the sunshine. Joy is very sweet and curious - she came to check out my flowers before anyone else dared approach. Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For those of you who don't know this already, Pappa Bear and I own a very old house in Duluth, MN. Since it's origin in 1890, it's 3 levels and 6 bedrooms have been divided up into a charming duplex and used as a rental property. I purchased the building in 1998 as a young single mother on one income, trying to support my little family of two. I could not have afforded the mortgage otherwise, even though the payment at the time of purchase was only $475. Like every 100+ year old building, there are always lots of projects and repairs that need doing. Since PB and I moved to the Minneapolis area five years ago, we have had precious little time or money to sink into repairs and remodeling jobs. Apparently, according to the realtors trying to sell the place for us, this now equates into a lot of "deferred maintenance," which, for some odd reason, cause buyers/prospects to submit low-ball offers on the place. So, on a whim last week, with a (low-ball) sales offer pending on the place, PB and I decided to road trip up there and take care of some of most aggregious repairs - such as, the crumbling cement stairs on the front walkway, and the rotting porch deck boards (both porches, front and back). We figured either the home inspector or the appraiser would ding us on these and give our prospective buyer even more leeway to lowball us, so why not just nip those projects in the bud? So, without further ramblings, here is the whole process we followed to fix that front walkway. First step: Remove old pavers that we placed temporarily until steps could be fixed. Ogle hubby’s bum. Beneath the pavers, remove old chunks of sidewalk (see above, under Pappa Bear’s foot). Under that layer, remove old chunks of asphalt. Under that layer, remove old pieces of brick. Under and between and around all the different layers, remove piles and piles of sand. Ogle hubby’s bum again. Sorry, can’t help myself. Admire the pile of stuff being removed from the hole. Wonder to myself, who gets to move that pile? And where to? Answer: Yours truly will carry this pile by the bucket load to the back porch, where it will be dumped down the burrow holes that were made by skunks/woodchucks (or like my neighbors like to call them, “whistle pigs.”) Do I have to do everything around here? Just kidding. PB let me pose for this shot, just to convince folks I worked on this project, too. Build a form across the open end of the now empty hole. Ogle hubby’s biceps. Here comes the cement truck! Please make note of the fact that A) the truck is NOT backed up next to our hole, and B) PB is pushing our very old, very tiny, very rusty wheelbarrow towards the truck… I really wish I had pictures of the next sequence of events. Unfortunately, I was busy pushing cement around a hole, and PB was busying carting plops of cement by tiny wheelbarrow from truck to hole. And then we switched jobs, and PB pushed cement around while I carted plops of it from the truck to the hole. While you’re picturing this scene, please picture me without my double chins and about 10 pounds lighter. Please do not picture my red face or the sweat dripping down my back. Thank you. Our first couple plops of cement. Notice how it appears to have the consistency of rocks. That would be correct. Try pushing rocks around in molasses. That would about right. Push rocks/molasses around with a bull float, tamping it down as you go. Ogle hubby’s biceps. More tamping, more pushing, but now – cement looks more like, well, cement! Lots more tamping and pushing. Until finally… finishing touches with a hand float. And, of course, ogle hubby’s biceps. Texturize the setting concrete to make it grippier. Don’t you just love making up words? Keep it moist and let it cure for 3 days. But you can walk on it in the morning. Probably sooner, but that’s what we did. Cheers –

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Like most house projects, our plan to resurface the back porch ran into a couple of snags. For one, the cost of replacing the existing tongue-in-groove porch floor boards with something similar was like 4x the cost of replacing them with red cedar deck boards. For another, the supporting beams were a bit, um, weathered at the far end of the porch. And, not quite long enough to reach the very end. Which meant Pappa Bear had to locate another support board that could be screwed next to the old ones, so we could use that one to screw the new porch boards into.

A good 'ol board We keep a lot of scrap boards under the front porch, so PB began digging through them until he located a likely suspect for our project. When he laid it out on the back porch to begin measuring where to cut it into 3' lenghts, he laughed and told me he knew exactly where this board had come from.

It was from when he built a frame on the back of his Chevy 1-ton pickup truck to move himself and his stuff to MN, to be with yours truly. This board was as old as our relationship, 10 years on August 12th. The staples were still stuck in it where he had stapled the tarp down over his load. The staple+tarp system proved to be a bit less than ideal... thirty miles out of Sheridan, WY, we had to pull the truck over and head back into town to get more tarps and bungies, as the tarps had ripped out of the staples. It was, of course, freezing with blowing rain that night as we struggled with those tarps and bungies in the pitch black roadside off of I90. That board now has a second life - it has been cut into two pieces needed to hold up the back porch. Ten or twenty years from now, when the next owner of this old building rips up the back porch decking, they'll see some newer boards spliced onto the old beams. They probably won't notice the staples. And they will never know where this old board has been. But we know. And it makes me smile knowing a little piece of our history is now holding up the back porch. Cheers -

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