August 28, 2011

Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t...

Tom appeared on the sidewalk with a bucket of whitewash and a long-handled brush. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged.   ...

...Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom’s mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:

“Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?”

Tom wheeled suddenly and said:

“Why, it’s you, Ben! I warn’t noticing.”

“Say – I’m going in a-swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther work – wouldn’t you? Course you would!”

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

“What do you call work?”“Why, ain’t that work?”

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer.”

“Oh come, now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”

The brush continued to move.“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth – stepped back to note the effect – added a touch here and there – criticised the effect again – Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”

Oh, it is alright. It's work for sure. And everybody knows it. It doesn't matter how much Elton John you play, how much you hum while you work and how chipper you are when your son or dog or significant other passes you by, nobody will fall prey to Tom Sawyer antics. Especially not when there  are friends to visit, sunbeams to be had, or cabinets to be built.

(You too can get the full transcript of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer at the University of Virginia Library. Here: Or, you could just come over and help me paint the very high ceiling.)

August 19, 2011

Here I am

I like to jam myself into every photo opportunity. I couldn't be in the picture that shows you what the banquette (or "settee" if you're so inclined) looked like after its trip from North Carolina, but here it is. Black velvet. No Ridgeback. Way boring.

Add some fabric from San Francisco. And a sourpuss Ridgeback (apparently, I am NOT allowed on the furniture), et voila! Instant interest.

I guess next time I decide to be in the way of the camera, I'll at least try to smile. But really, it's a freakin' chair. And it's not for me. What's the big deal anyway?

August 13, 2011

Getting There

A sneak-peek at the goings on in the kitchen. This is likely the last blog entry on the kitchen until it's much closer to done, but I was just slightly ecstatic that Norm and I got the base cabinet installed and the sink plumbed in so I thought I'd share. Just a little excited. I even had Rory give me a high-five.

I'll spare you the pics of the completed plumbing, including drain and vent stacks.
But I can practically hear the choir of kitchen angels chanting in awe at my sink... I know. I need a life.

Rock On

I'm reserving final judgment, but I think it may be worth the dust. I regrouted the fireplace - it went from coral-pink to grey. As careful as I was to not get the grout on the stone, there were inevitable slops. Grout doesn`t wipe terrifically well off of rough stone. A wire brush and elbow grease were helpful, but not nearly as helpful as a nineteen year old with a few hours to kill and a grinder with a wire brush attachment. If you check the hearth you'll see that the black slate is covered in a nice fine coating of dust. It's everywhere. Fun.

Here is the 'beforeshot, taken during our prepurchase inspection. Two years ago. Unreal. One day, when people ask what I'm doing for the weekend, I will be able to say something other than 'house stuff'.

And....after. Keelan wore the brush down to nubbins, but not only did it clean the grout off the stone, it also cleaned off years of soot and grime. Now we just have to decide whether we will seal the stone with enhancer. If you look on the right hand side, about half-way down you`ll see six or seven stones that Norm put enhancer on as a test. It definitely brings the colour out, but I sort of like the pale grey too. No need to decide right away - it will keep until after the living room is painted. But first, some dusting. And then we can go pick up a slab of granite we are having cut to fit on top of the hearth.

August 5, 2011


Or, more accurately, OMHF!

Norm, Rory and I were out running errands today. Because what else should you do on a sunny day off work other than run around dealing with house reno stuff? We went to the counter place to discuss quartz, since counter day is getting closer. Since we were in that neck of the woods, we thought we'd stop in to see how the hood fan was coming along. I'm glad we stopped, because it's finished! I'm sad we didn't have a real camera to do it justice, but Norm's phone did the trick.

 I've posted before about Mike at Hammersmith Custom Metal Crafting - he's the one who built us a stainless and copper radiator cover for the front entrance. They've really outdone themselves. I'm sure it isn't the largest or most elaborate hood fan they've worked on, but I went through all of their photo albums and didn't find what I wanted. Sometimes, custom is the way to go, because this is exactly it.

I'm amazed that you can start with an idea, do a sketch and then get a veritable craftsman to create exactly what you wanted. I wanted to pet it and hug it and squeeze it. The hood fan, not Mike.

One more piece of a very long project that is finally coming together.

August 1, 2011

Out of the frying pan...

Big day in the House. Range Reveal Day. We spent the weekend doing bits and pieces, but mainly drywalling huge gaps in the kitchen walls that we ended up needing to strip to get at the plumbing. If I ever have to reno a kitchen again, it's going down to the studs first thing. Never mind trying to piece back chunks of drywall - it's all coming out. Anyway after all that, today we (that means Norm and Keelan) brought the stove into the house. We bought the gas stove before we had even moved in to the house almost two years ago. Since then it has been waiting in the garage, unopened. The warranty has of course expired, so here's hoping it's more than just a pretty face.

This isn't where it's actually going to go in the end - there is still some sanding and painting to be done after last week's plumbing and this weekend's gas fitting and drywalling - but we did need to get it out of the garage to make some more work space for cabinet materials. Priorities, you know.

We also moved the fridge. This behemoth has been in a few places, but here`s where it was supposed to end up. When we first bought it we put it in a temporary location on the far side of the kitchen. When renos were seriously underway, we moved it to the dining room. Moving this thing is not a trivial job - it's front heavy and needs to be bolted into the floor via anti-tip brackets. There are 'danger' signs plastered to the sides and the back - moving this thing freaks me out. Today we leveled and plumbed it and bolted it one last time and it's not going anywhere if we can help it. Horking this thing and the stove around also served to test the floor. No matter how many times I install tile, I still worry when it comes to actually living on it. So far so good.

And where's our hero? Doing what he does best. Supervising. Though if pressed to choose, I'd have to say that last week, Nick the plumber was our hero (he's the one on the ball cap, don't let Rory fool you into thinking he's a plumber). Somebody at work gave me Nick's name as a good, reliable plumber. This guy showed up four times, when he said he would and did the work he said he'd do - all in good time with a terrific attitude and a fair bill. Here's his website, which is still under construction (he's a plumber folks, not a website developer) but the phone number is there.