Thursday, November 13, 2014

Building a New Home for the Robins!

Remember our lovely Robin neighbors?

Once they were all raised and gone, it was time to tackle the balcony.

At first we thought we might be able to scrape and paint this decking.

But it was so very rotten.  Dry rot had made some of the boards so weak, they crumbled beneath you.  I was worried it wouldn't even hold our weight.  But Scott just climbed out there and started yanking off the railing and soon we were left with nothing but a platform.

The planks at the bottom were rotten, too.  Especially in the corner where the Robins had nested....hmmmmm.  The beams below these planks, however, were not rotted!  They were extensions of the beams that run under our bedroom floor and had been protected by a good coat of paint.  And though we considered getting rid of the balcony altogether, we decided to rebuild it.  The windows in this bedroom come almost to the floor level.  They would be dangerous if nothing was left outside.  I didn't want any grandchildren falling out of windows!

Fritz agreed.  No dogs falling out windows either!

So we started rebuilding!  Made a new floor.  Added some posts for support.  The previous balcony had no corner posts!  Nothing to insure that when you leaned against the railing, it didn't just fall right off!


I wasn't thrilled to have Scott working out there with nothing between him and falling to his death on the concrete below...

...or worse yet, falling an additional 12 feet into the bottom of the concrete swimming pool!!

Sometimes I reached out the window and held on to the back of his belt.  He didn't appreciate that.  But it made me feel better!

Soon, we had railings and balusters.

We put the balusters a little closer together than the previous ones were.  For safety's sake!

Balusters were attached from the top---then hung down loosely.

We built it from the top...then had to come and finish it from the bottom.  Carefully screwing everything into place.

Not bad for having never built a deck before!

It's not perfect!  I'm the one that held that corner post askew when it was attached....

...but we painted it to match the trim of the house and if I hadn't pointed it might not have noticed!

We don't know if this corner will measure up to Mr. and Mrs. Robin's expectations next year.  But we hope so!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The End of the Money Pit's Money Pit!!!

Well, we finally did it!  We got rid of something deep and dark and scary!

We got rid of the swimming pool.

A swimming pool is a lovely thing!  It provides recreation in the summer!  A place to splash and play.  You can have parties!  It lends an air of sophistication and elegance to your lovely home.  Everyone wants one!  Don't they?!?

This "Swimming Pool" was no longer any of that.

It was a SNAKE PIT!  A Turtle Pond.  A Frog Swamp.  A Mosquito Hatchery.  An Eyesore.  And a Grandchild Hazard!!!

It was cracked deeply in several places.  The plumbing to it was cracked and broken deep within the earth.  The plaster was cracked and peeling.  The pump didn't' work.  The cement walkways around it were heaved up in wrong angles--causing stubbed toes or worse.

And the worst thing of all?  The entire pool area sloped back towards the foundation of the house---sending gallons of rain water--right into our basement!

THIS is the DREAM of the pool.  What it might have been like.  Sparkling Clean.  Perfectly manicured.  A glass of pink lemonade in my hand while I laze around on a floating chaise lounge...

But it was not to be.  The pool we had was not repairable.  

And for a while, we thought we would never be able to afford to have it removed.  Quotes for removal were coming in at really high numbers.  It seems that anything with the words "Swimming Pool" in the title would cost an extravagant amount.  An amount we hadn't factored in when we bought The Money Pit last year.

"WHAT HAVE WE GOTTEN OURSELVES INTO!!?"  was our repeated mental quandary.

Then we heard of a man who removed pools for far far less!  We tried to call him in the spring.  We tried to call him in the summer.  He was too busy.  Too many pools to remove.  Finally---just on the very edge of Cold Minnesota Winter---he called us back and said he had time to do our pool!

But we would have to decide quickly---because winter was upon us.  Once there was snow---he couldn't drive his equipment up and down the hills around our house.  The ground would freeze solid and he couldn't dig it out.  We had 2 days to decide---otherwise, it would be next year.  

This was our one chance to get it done.  We had that much money in the bank.  It was affordable!

We called him back that afternoon...and the very next morning, I heard a strange RRRrrr Rrrrrr sound.

I looked out the dining room window and saw this monster Tonka Toy going by....

It stopped in the backyard behind the pool.

Soon a giant dump truck joined in the fun.

Within minutes, I thought then end of the world had happened.  BOOM!!!

A giant boulder was being dropped from the basket of the excavator onto the bottom of the swimming pool!  It wasn't your typical wrecking ball---but it was wrecking things!!

BOOM!  BOOM!  BOOM!!!!  It shook the house.  Fritz went into hiding.  The pictures on the walls went askew!

Over and over.  Breaking the pool cement into pieces.  Piling it out of the way.

It felt like an earthquake every few minutes.  By the end of the day, my nerves were frazzled!

In the evenings, we would go out and look at the progress.

How on earth would this giant mess EVER get cleaned up!

But it DID get cleaned up!!!  The dump truck was loaded up and driven away.  Load after load of cement boulders.

The sidewalks were pulled away from the house and stacked in great piles of concrete sheets.

Dirt was moved around.  Filled in.  Packed down.  Smoothed off!

And before I knew it---I had a BACKYARD!!  No more pit of snakes and doom!  No more danger of falling 12 feet to a concrete death!  No more eyesore!  No more anything!  Just nice smooth dirt!

Nice smooth dirt that slopes away from the house slightly---as it should---and gently down towards the lake.  Just like it was 35 years ago before a pool was ever installed.

I hadn't realized how worried I was about that empty useless pool.  I hadn't known that I was carrying anxiety over it.  But when it was gone---It felt like a heavy load had been lifted off of me!

"IT'S GONE!  IT'S REALLY GONE!" sings my heart every time I look out the window!

We spread out some grass seed the day they were done.  It will sprout in the spring and hopefully keep the dirt in place before the spring rains.

Then we moved some planks for a future garden.

And the very next day, WINTER came!  We had made it just in time!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Here a Little, There a Little!

It's been a while since I've posted anything.  Spring came.  With all it's wonderful nature bounty! Then Summer.  And we were just so delighted to be out of the snow and cold that blogging got put on the back burner!  But we have made some progress around here at the Money Pit! Would you like to see?  Here a little.  There a little.

We removed and replaced the ancient thermostat!

Yay for better control over the heat and air conditioning!

We discovered a missing drawer front---hidden back behind the drawer---for a little desk in the kitchen!

A little scraping, fixing, gluing, and clamping....

And our little kitchen desk was back in business!!!

We painted the side front door to match the regular front door!  It looks SO much better!

And it matches!

I decided to paint some of the newel posts and railings black.  The jury is still out on whether I like them.  But they are too widespread for modern safety standards anyway---so changing them all up is still a future project.  (No grandchildren falling on their heads, please!)

More scotch tape was found and dealt with in the office.

I have decided that there should be a law prohibiting children from buying, using, or even touching scotch tape!  I have found bits and pieces of it all over the inside and outside of this house---and of course it is impossible to remove!  Much of it old and brittle and stuck down hard.

Give children masking tape!  It doesn't hurt a thing and the worst residue it can leave is easily scrubbed off.  (My new mission in life---to get children to turn in their scotch tape dispensers for free masking tape!  Let the violence to walls and doors END!!!)

This particular batch had been painted over!  So when I pulled it off, it took part of the wallboard.  Making for yet another unnecessary wall patch!  Sigh.

Tee hee hee.  This wallpaper border was also an interesting tidbit we found in the office.   I imagine the previous owners making this decision:   "Hmmm.  The ceiling does something different here---how shall we handle the wallpaper border?"  "I know!  Let's just split it in half!  And pretend the bottom half stretched all the way through the alcove!"

I could have just removed all of the wallpaper border, but I kind of liked it--so I simply removed the sections that were so silly!

And then painted everything to match.  Much better.

Do you remember our sad little powder room!?

With the toilet that had rust stains that wouldn't go matter what I scrubbed, bleached, or pumiced them with!?

 And that wonderful brass hanging light fixture---that came down on both sides of the missing mirror---but only worked on one side---with both globes missing?

And the 1990 texture-looking vinyl wallpaper?

Yes, THAT powder room!  The one we could welcome guests into.  Yea.  Yuck!

The wallpaper removal was a total pain!

But we got it done!

And then found moldy wallboard behind the toilet.  Because the toilet was leaking.  (A theme in this house.)

The toilet got ripped up and thrown away!  (I'm actually an expert now at toilet removal--this being my 4th!)

Did you know a hair dryer is an essential plumbing tool?!  Well it is!  Especially for stuck pipes that won't budge when you are trying to replace a faucet!

But here it is!  The finished powder room!

Ta Da!!

Brand new "Edison Bulb" light fixture!  And a new mirror!

New faucet!  (I installed it all by myself!)

New towel rack.

New toilet!  New paint!  And a brand new feel!

Maybe guests will actually come back for a second visit now instead of running screaming into the night!

That's all the tidbits of progress I have to show today!

But here's our next big project:


Stay tuned for the expense and trauma and toil and sorrow.....  ; )