Monday, April 28, 2003

Back on the Chain Gang

Back to work. Went out and got a mattress for the downstairs bedroom -- haven't decided yet whether it'll be our new one -- we'd swap ours for it if so. We'll put it downstairs and if we like it better we'll switch. I don't know... ours seems fine I guess. We also bought a light fixture and some curtains for the same bedroom. Vicki got some a new bed covering set.... should have known that the spending wouldn't end with the remodel itself. ;-)

Friday the contractor called and said the plumber couldn't run the outside faucet in the back the way we wanted. Their alternative was to run it out the side of the house -- 100 feet away from where I want it. We weren't communicating well over the phone. Turned out he forgot our slightly unconventional (but up to code) plans. Fortunately, we live 5 minutes away so I dashed home and 'splained to them what the original plan was. Which is all fine and good and the plumber will be there all day today doing his voodoo. However, it is raining pretty hard and the hole he's working in will be filling with water. Hope he has a pump. He's a plumber... he's gotta have a pump.

Bart apparently still thinks he needs to invent his own litter areas. Last night it was our bathroom again. Plus he got downstairs again (we left the board down) and did it in his favorite corner. Cleaned it up with Simple Solution ®. I think he's all mixed up with the house in turmoil. We're going to fire up that special Bart Litterbox again and hopefully he'll use it.

One thing we learned about the water heater was that we need to turn down the flow-rate to the laundry machine if we want to do hot water washes because I'm sure it's 4+ GPM. This means if we want to do warm water washes we need to crank the cold down as well or the cold will overpower the reduced hot flow. I cranked the hot down, but not the cold yet.

I rooted and grew three sprigs of the citronella plant in the hydroponic garden over the winter and they grew big enough to make a whole new hanging basket. It was so neat last summer, trailing down 5 feet to the floor. Very pretty foliage. The original, which I severely neglected this winter, somehow survived and is doing surprisingly well. I cut some of the roots out of it (it was root bound) and potted it in some new potting soil and added some of that water-holding stuff to it.

I took the roquette and arugula and planted them in the garden outside after tilling it up with Ryan's tiller. Also wandered about the yard spraying broadleaf weeds. They were dying this morning. That's a good sign.

Had jambalaya over at the neighbors' house last night... we brought cornbread and key lime pie. It was a nice dinner. Had a lot of fun.

But... hi ho, it's off to work I go.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Hot, hot, hot!!!!

The water heater showed up yesterday. I was thinking we'd just get the subpanel installed and do the plumbing tomorrow, but Ryan was game to do the whole thing... it took from about 7:00pm to 11:30pm to get all the wires run, stripped, old water heater out, subpanel hooked up, everything tested and read to go. It's in, and it works!

Here's a couple pictures of it. As advertised, it takes longer than if you have a regular tank water heater for the water to get warm... I imagine it's because since a tank water heater is always hot there's some conduction through the water and copper that keeps the pipe and the water in it relatively warm even when nobody's using any hot water. This thing only heats water as you use it, so there's nothing to even conduct some heat through the water when its off. So the pipes and the water in them cool down to room temperature after a while. That water needs to run out of the pipes before hot water reaches the faucet/tub. Anyway, once that water runs out you feel some rapid fluctuation and then the temperature stabilizes rock steady, and stays that way as long as you are using hot water. Once hot water is in the pipes it doesn't take any time at all for the water coming out to be hot because all the cold water's been flushed out -- just what's between the main line and whatever faucet you're using needs to be flushed if it's a different faucet you're turning on.

I think it just recently became real to Vicki how much storage space we're actually losing. She even talked about putting a cabinet up over the toilet -- something she wasn't so enthusiastic about when I first mentioned it. We'll do that, plus we'll can use the space under the stairs more efficiently now. And of course we recovered the floor space where the old water heater was. Plus the adjustable shelves in the new storage closet will allow for more efficient use of space. So I think we'll be fine.

We went to Lowe's and picked out fixtures -- pedestal sink, faucet, lights, and toilet. Need to pick out vinyl flooring for the laundry/bath. Got a mirror for over the sink.

Somebody (I assume Bart, but it could have been an "un-energetic" Theo) didn't quite seem to make it to the litter box last night and went instead on the floor in front of the toilet.

Oh, that we could get them to USE the toilet. I've heard of cats trained to do that.

The litter box's temporary quarters during the remodel is in the bath tub in the hall bathroom. Maybe Theo couldn't muster the energy to jump. Or maybe there was enough litter on the floor where Bart thought he was already in the litterbox -- I don't know. Fortunately, vinyl cleans up easily.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Hang On -- Water Heater's on it's way!!!!

Just got off the phone with Anne from and she gave me the tracking number. Anne rocks!!! I should send her a box of chocolates or something. She was very helpful and personable both yesterday and today. It MAY be here tomorrow.

Going to CarpetOne tonight to order carpet & lanoleum, then to Sam's to look at queen-size Matresses, I think... and to Lowes to pick out paint color.

And it's a sunny beautiful day outside!

Movin' On

Well, delivered Louie to Sandy's house last night, where he immediately sniffed the entire house. I think he'll be happy there. He will get all of her attention -- and no more cat-spats at home. Bart is already relaxing more. Actually he's taking out a little of his excitement on Theo -- tussling with him. Theo doesn't care for it much.

I feel a little guilty about passing him on since he's been passed around so much -- but as I've said before he really wasn't working out. We gave it a good 8 months. Sandy said she'll get us a picture when he's all settled in. I imagine Tom & Betty would like to see that.

Drywall is going up downstairs... it's starting to look more like sectioned rooms & closets. I'm wondering how they're going to smooth over some of those places where they opened the walls for electrical work... but... I hope they remove the corner bead around the old sliding glass door or it'll be a bear getting that flat. Oh well, that's their job.

We're going to CarpetOne to order up the carpet and have them coordinate with SLR (Scott Ragland/Bobby's company -- they're doing the work). Wish I had a UPS tracking number for that water heater. I'd feel a lot better if I could track its progress.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Drywall, plumbing, and the continuing saga of the water heater

Called Microtherm on the water heater this morning. They said "these orders should go out this week". They had to check. My confidence that it would be shipped by the middle of the week was pretty low.

Meantime, I called another distributor in Cleveland. They have them in stock. They're shipping one today. Actually for about $20 less. So I called Microtherm and cancelled that order.

Drywall showed up this morning, so they'll be drywalling everywhere the plumber doesn't have to be. If the plumber can stub up late this week and finish the rough-in after the concrete is poured--- and the water heater gets here by the weekend.... things'll be ok. Matter of fact, might even be done in a couple of weeks. But we have to order carpet, and pick out the fixtures. I think I picked out the fixtures yesterday. Ought to save us about $150 over what they had bid. That'll help with carpeting, etc.

I'm going to extend the deck out 21" from where it is right now so it'll be closer to 12x12 instead of 12x10. I was just going to scrub it up and stain it, but I have to tear out at least one board anyway -- and we could really use the extra space on the deck. I figure it'll cost under $200. I'd rather paint it all one color at once, and as long as I'm replacing ANY wood, I might as well buy the rest and do it the way I want it. Maybe Mark'll want to have a power tool weekend ;-) It should be a pretty straightforward project. I drew it all out last night.

Amy just stopped by... she's in the middle of staining her deck. She said that pressure washing really lightened up the wood. That might help the old wood match the new wood better. Daryl has a pressure washer, I think. Hmmmm.....

Also turns out that we'll need a vent for the sink and toilet, so we'll have to drill through the concrete wall to the crawl-space and tie in with the vent for the upstairs bathroom. That'll mean a hole in the wall in the guest bedroom for a bit.

Went Morrell hunting with Daryl this weekend. We each found about a pound. It's his secret spot, so I'm sworn not to tell where it is. They are good. We sautéed some last night and had them with pork chops. To me, they're best sautéed with butter and served with wild rice or eggs.

Also took a nice walk in the woods on Sunday -- partially to just be in the woods, partially to just enjoy a pipe in the woods..... but the excuse was to see what morrell-laden patches I might find back there. But it's too steep and rocky for morrells. I did enjoy the spring flowers. Dogtooth Violets, Rue Anemone, Sweet William, Solomon's Seal, -- and lots of others -- and all the ferns and wild ginger coming up. It reminds me of when I was growing up, walking in the woods checking out the first signs of spring. Check this out Missouri Wildflowers.

Off for now.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Not much goin' on

Bobby the contractor called last night. He assured me that the water heater situation wasn't holding them up because the Plumber might not be there until wednesday anyway. He's swamped. However, they'd about have to ship that water heater TODAY for it to be here by then.

Left him about $2,200 for the completion of phase 1, so a total of about $3,500 has gone out so far.

Cut a hole for the electrical sub-panel for the new water heater last night. The housing wire that goes to the outlet for the current water heater was right behind the hole I cut. That's good and bad. It's bad because I can't put the subpanel box in right now because the wire is in the way. It's good because that means we have easy access to that wire and we might be able to use it to pull the new wires to the subpanel through the wall.

Hala's happy. They heard from her family in Baghdad. They're all right. They line up at hotels and use the TV people's sattellite phones to call whichever of the 5,000,000 Iraqis that live outside of Iraq they're related to what their status is. So they get like 30-40 seconds. Someone in the family in Baghdad called someone in Canada and left a 30 second hurried message on their machine. How wild! Hala says everything will get better from now on. She got the spam sales pitch about the deck of most wanted Iraqi cards... said she thought about it for a second and decided she didn't want to look at the faces of the people who had been torturing her people for years. Move on. Good attitude.

Learned a new picking pattern on the guitar at the Lee Ruth lesson yesterday. Same "bass-strum", but you pick up the first string again as your index finger comes back. Seems like it would be easy, but it throws off my thumb position for the next "bass" pluck. The 3/4 arpeggio, which would seem harder, is actually easier for me. I've kind of gotten away from playing the songs I love to play to learn this stuff and because life is busier in general because of the remodel. But I need to learn to get my barred "F" down before I go back to playing a lot of those songs so I don't play the cheater "F" anymore. It's coming very slowly.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Lowe's is my friend

-- actually, more like I am Lowe's friend. Snagged Ryan (and Kristy came along, too because she wanted to go to Sam's) and went to Lowe's to get the materials we need to put a sub-panel in for the ellusive water heater. Glad I did, too, because even Ryan had to think a little about what to get so I'm sure I would have been too corn-fused.

  • Subpanel box,$22.
  • 2 60 amp, 2-pole breakers, $28
  • 4 30 amp, 2-pole breakers, $35
  • 30 feet of #6 2CWG wire, $18
  • 16 feet of #10 House wiring, $7
  • strain relief plugs, $4

Spending 40 minutes at Lowe's and filling up Kristy's trunk with electrical gear when all she wanted to do was go to Sam's and get Breakfast Bars? Priceless.

Came to about $118.

Then went to Sam's and got some Birki's (sandals) and beer. We were about out. Can't have that in our neighborhood. It's a tradition to bring one over to Ryan if you go over there, or vice versa. Some people shake hands, we bring beer. Of course, everything's in bulk at Sam's. Ok, well I was able to buy just one pair of sandals, but the beer ought to last us a while.

Ok, well that's it for this morning.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

In Hot Water

Well, the danged water heater isn't here. You know, the day after I ordered it I got an email from them saying:

Thank you for shopping microtherm.

Order No. 100289
Invoice No. 1
Shipped 02-Apr-2003

1 RA-28

Comments: N/A

Access your Smart Receipt online to view the progress of your order:

Return to microtherm using the following URL:

Your order may take up to 3 weeks to be shipped

I went to look at the "Smart Receipt" -- it says it's shipping UPS Ground, and that the order is complete. That was 14 days ago.

Now if you ask me, the fact that it says Shipped 02-Apr-2003 says to me that it's already shipped and it's not going to take up to 3 weeks to be shipped. You know, like I lucked out or something and it was on the road.

Found a phone number to call for Seisco, called 'em up.... they said it hasn't shipped yet. Well, the plumber's coming Friday to stub in the new bathroom and hook up the ventilation. Maybe Monday. But the water heater won't be here by then. And he's stubbing plumbing right in the hole I'm counting on to remove the water heater. It's the only way to get it out short of cutting it up.

I measured the diameter of the water heater... it's 22.25" -- I marked a square in that hole 22.5" wide and deep and I'm going to SEE if I can get the plumber to plumb around that. That would buy me some time. But ultimately, they're going to drywall-- I've gotta get the bleedin' thing out before then, but without a replacement water heater, we'd be waking up awfully fast in the morning.

Mean time, I need to grab Ryan and head to Lowe's or Home Depot and get some thick wire (6 AWG) a sub-panel breakerbox, 2 240 Volt 60 amp dipole breakers, and 4 (count them, 4) 240V 30 amp breakers for the new box -- and some 10AWG housing wire. That'll make installing the unit (whenever it gets here) much faster.

The new door is in, and the sliding glass door is out. Outlets are popping up everywhere, and the wiring is being done for the various light switches. It's gonna be pretty neat when it's done.

Also have to do something about a stepping stone to step out on when you go out the basement door.... and do something about the drainage in that area. We'll be home the next two weekends -- maybe... it depends on whether or not we go to Indiana for the mini-reunion. We may be putting the house back together. Sam & Connie wanted us to go on a float trip with them pretty bad that weekend. That would be a lot of fun, but we decided we couldn't. Sadness.

Went to a "Night in Havana" -- a Cuban restaurant put together for one night by the Hotel & Restaurant Management dept here at the University. Food was good. Moderately priced. Service was fine... although do you really need to sniff the cork on a Berringer White Zinfandel? Ah, well you don't want to drink wine that's gone bad, no matter how mundane it is. So I suppose so. They put these things on from time to time throughout the year. Kind of a "lab" for them I guess. Make 'em put together what they've learned.

Monday, April 14, 2003


Went to Bloomington over the weekend to see Brian & Jess. We drove up to Greenville to meet her parents (Jan and Bev) for dinner at the Olive Garden. I think Jess was nervous. She didn't need to be. We got along fine. They seem like very nice people.

Ate breakfast with Jess at the Runcible Spoon. Brian had to be at the Jill Behrman Unity Ride an hour earlier than he'd thought so we just went with Jess. Jill was the sister of one of Brian's DU brothers who dissappeared a few years ago. She was really into cycling, and that's what she was doing when she died. The ride was a benefit for Jill's House set up by Jill's parents as a temporary home for family of outpatients going through proton cancer therapy at IUB.

The Spoon has great breakfasts, to be sure. We eat there one breakfast every time we go to Bloomington (which isn't horribly often, but once a year, anyway). The buckwheat pancakes are a bit heavy for my taste, but the omelets are very good. Jess is good company and does well around us old boring fogies.

Putzed around a pricey antique mall in downtown Bloomington. Slept in a Very Loud Motel -- a bit run down. Cheap, which was good, but I doubt we'll stay there again. The weather was beautiful all weekend. Great weekend for a benefit bicycle ride.

They cut out the frame for the new basement door over the weekend. We've had to block Bart's access to the basement completely. He apparently made new messes in the basement over the weekend to the point where the construction guys had blocked his access to the old family room. They also shortened the ductwork for the furnace (which they had to do to get the door in) and moved one of the vents upstairs accordingly. Once Louie is gone he'll have to re-adjust to having run of the house.

Still waiting for the water heater. It shipped 8 business days ago. Hopefully it will be here today.

Thursday, April 10, 2003


The ladybugs came today. I pulled the tomato plants out. They were wilting as I had turned the water off to them a few days back. Tomatoes aren't worth it in an indoor garden. Too much space, and they take too long to grow and ripen. Hydroponics are great for lettuce, roquette, spinach, and starting seeds for outside.

What's left now is lettuce, roquette, and spinach... oh, and arugula (sp?).... I released the ladybugs to eat all the aphids... that's the major problem. About 20 of them came in with the tomato plants last fall, now there are... and I'm probably not exagerating here -- several hundred-thousand of them.

We'll have some fat ladybugs.

I started some tomato plants for outdoors in the hydro garden tonight --- I can put them out in about a month. They're the small, determinant kind I got for the hydro garden.... they'll be ideal for my dinky outdoor garden. Spring is about here - but tomatoes can't go out until the soil is warmer.

The closet is back

When we first moved in here, there was a quasi-bedroom (it had a sliding glass door to the outside and no interior door to close) with a bedroom closet. After the pipe-bursting incident of 1999 and subsequent basement repair, we had that closet taken out to make that room a family room. Well, now it's going to be a bedroom again, and so the same company is putting the closet back in they took out a little over 4 years ago. Try that on for size.

That's all that happened in construction today. Not much else can be done until the electrician and plumbers do their thing, hopefully next week-- although they can take the sliding door out and put the new outside door in.

A lady is coming over to "interview" Louie this evening -- probably not long from now. Bart will be a happy cat when Louie is gone.

We're going to Bloomington this weekend to visit Bri (and Jess). Leaving in the morning as a matter of fact. Haven't seen them since Christmas. Thank God our neighbors are willing to look after Theo, the diabetic cat who needs two insulin shots a day. They don't know how much we appreciate it.

Louie, Louie

He gotta go. Vicki found a couple of prospective homes for Louie. One lady just lost a cat. She's single and would give him lots of attention, which would be good for him. She has some collection of Angels so she's worried about his behavior as far as knocking things over... but he really doesn't. He learned pretty quickly where he was allowed to be and where he wasn't. Just walk toward him and clap your hands and tell him to get down a few times. He's really an OK cat.... but we've got to alleviate the Bart problem. I just can't have a cat using places other than the litterbox for a litterbox. He's had 7 months to adjust... I don't think he's going to adjust.

Tonight she's coming over to "interview" Louie. She said she could take him after she gets back from Easter visiting. If she ends up deciding against him, there's another lady who says she wants him.

So it looks like he's wanted. That's good. I'll probably miss him a little, but not for long. We haven't seen much of the other two cats since we got him.... it'll be nice to have them acting normal again.

Well, normal for cats. ;-)

What comes down must go up

They started putting up walls yesterday... walled in the new laundry/bathroom with the storage closet in it. We decided against using the extra soffit area for storage -- at least against having them do it as there's no guarantee that the inspectors will like it. There's really nothing to stop me from going in and changing it later. It wouldn't be that hard.

The room will be small, just big enough --- except for the cat litter box, which must go in there (because it's not going anywhere else). I think we may have the door open out into the hallway, then the litter box can fit where the door would open if it opened into the room. Not an ideal solution... but neither is having the litter box in any other room in the house. We'll have to put a cat door in the door so that we can leave it closed.

They measured the door areas and made sure that when the new doorframes are in the washer & dryer will fit out both of them.... very important.

Vicki's giddy about it. I think it's pretty cool, but I'll probably get more excited after the new water heater's in and all the drywall is up so we have a good idea of what it's REALLY going to look like.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

When the walls - come tubmlin' down

They tore out the walls that needed tearing down in the basement yesterday, moved the door-frame to what was the family room and what will now be the bedroom. The new family room, it turns out, won't be much bigger than the old one -- maybe by about 2 feet in one direction... but still... the recovery of all that hall space in the basement will be a good thing, as will the addition of the bathroom. I just hope we don't have too much of a net loss in storage space.... although I'm sure there's some stuff we can get rid of.

I pulled the Sattellite cable through the ductwork soffit and down through the wall this morning so that's done. Still want to run speaker wire over the top of the ceiling while it's open from them taking the bedroom wall out. Hopefully they won't be doing that ceiling yet today and I can do it tonight.

Bart made his way through the visquine.... and made another pile downstairs. We may need to get him a separate litter box while this is going on.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

First Success

Well, one of the first things we needed to do was determine where the sewer pipe ran under the concrete floor so it could be dug up and tied into for the toilet & sink. They suggested having Roto Rooter come out for $200 for the first hour and $100 or so an hour after that, for at least an hour.... possibly 1.5 hours -- to shove a metal snake down the pipe and use an electronic device to determine where the pipe was under the slab. Fortunately, Ryan (neighbor) had access to that kind of equipment and we did it last Thursday night ourselves. The device showed the pipe was 21" down and right about where I'd guessed it would be.

Sure enough, they jackhammered it up yesterday where we'd marked it and there it was, about 21" down. Yay. They ripped up carpet yesterday. Bart doesn't like the fact that the litterbox is no longer downstairs and he has to go into Louie's "territory" to get to it... so he responded by using the carpet in the hall downstairs yesterday morning for a litterbox. After they ripped up the carpet (everwhere but the old family room), this morning he decided he needed to use some of the carpet padding in the family room. We need to find another home for Louie. He's not working out.

Today they're tearing down walls. When they open up the soffit around the ductwork, I need to run the cable for the Sattellite TV through the soffit into the new family room.

Our bedroom is packed with furniture from downstairs and from the guest room. The house is quite cluttered. But it'll be a nicer house when it's all done.

Still waiting for the new water heater....

Monday, April 07, 2003

Refinance, Basement

We refinanced the house. We're re-doing the basement using some of the equity. The basement was poorly designed. Had way too much hallway, no real laundry "room", and much to Vicki's chagrin, no bathroom. That's going to be about $5,000 of it. We dragged everything upstairs into the dining area and the garage over the last week. Even have some shelving units piled up in the hallway upstairs. It's supposed to take about 5 weeks. Left $1,740 for materials this morning -- the loan won't disburse until wednesday so I had to transfer $1,000 out of savings to cover it.