Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Master of None

I was reminded several times last weekend that despite nearly two years of owning the Einsel House, I’m still very much an amateur at this home improvement stuff. I’m typically confident enough to jump into a project, but unlike some other DIY blogs you won’t find any detailed tutorial posts here. I’m too busy reading other people’s "how to" advice to write my own.

This realization came afresh last Saturday afternoon as I was shingling the new shed awning and had the sudden inspiration to title my next post "Butt Scoot". Obviously, I resisted that impulse. But let me explain. About once a week, always in the evening just after the kids have been tucked in, while Charles is reclined in his papa chair and I’m stretched out on the couch with a book, Tiny the Cat will walk into the middle of the living room, sit down with her absurdly long tail pointing straight behind her flat against the threadbare Oriental rug and, well, butt scoot. 

I remember getting home from work the day the new roof went on the kitchen and seeing six men walking around on the kitchen roof. And I remember watching our mason walking on the highest portion of our metal roof to inspect the old chimneys. I felt more than a twinge of anxiety watching, but he looked confident enough to dance up to the peak and pirouette.

And then there’s me. I’ve come a long way since my first tentative forays onto the awning I built earlier this summer. But when it’s time for me to make my way from my perch back to the ladder leaning against the awning’s lowest edge I don’t walk. I, well, butt scoot.

There have been other telltale signs that I’m not a very experienced roofer. When I ordered shingles, the Carter’s employee asked me if I needed roofing felt. I told him no, but while driving home I began to worry. I had tar paper, but I suddenly I had this nagging fear that roofing felt and tar paper might be two totally different things. A brief session with Google seemed to confirm that roofing felt and tar paper are interchangeable. So, tar paper down, I returned to the computer to learn how to make starter strip from full shingles.

The next issue came when I noticed the shingles have small strips of plastic on the back that cover the tar. My first instinct was to remove the plastic strips to expose the tar. But on closer inspection I noticed a faint stamp on each strip that seemed to say "Do Not Remove". So back to the computer I went and Google confirmed that it is indeed not necessary to remove the strips, the tar is supposed to seal right through them.  Laying the actual shingles has been pretty straight forward so far.  It's nice and repetitive, with just some constant attention to making sure everything is straight and evenly spaced.  I suspect the trickiest part will be the last 14 inches where the shingle roof will join with the existing standing seam roof.  I should find out in the next few days.  And I promise to share some pictures of my handywork soon!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Salvaging Barn Siding

Earlier this week we got permission to start salvaging siding any time.  We planned to start tomorrow but after learning that the contractor who is tearing down the barn also has permission to start his work any time, we decided we could fit a few hours of work in tonight.   Many thanks to my parents for their help.  We have much more of the same ahead of us tomorrow. 

I took the above picture shortly before we left tonight.  I like the lighting in it.  Although I am thrilled to be getting siding for our own shed, there's still a sadness to realize that this old barn will soon be no more. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Earlier this week (Tuesday if I can trust my memory) we had some thunderstorms roll through which were followed by the rainbow pictured to the left.  

As the rainbow faded away I walked around to the front of the house and took the picture below.  Notice all the weeds?

All four days this week after work I've been outside weeding.  Monday was the shed.  Tuesday I started in front of the kitchen.  Wednesday I finished in front of the kitchen and started in front of the house.  And today I finished the front of the house.  The lilac bushes and LP tank still need some attention.  I'll hit everything with Round-Up to kill any strays I've missed, but once weeds get so big I just have to pull them.  (Round-Up is certainly easier, but I can't stand looking at dried up dead weeds.)

I've had company while I work:

It will be nice to get home from work tomorrow to a house that's back to this:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Updates, Updated

As the lack of posts here shows, I've not accomplished anything around the house lately.  But this time I have a good excuse - I spent the better part of 10 days one thousand miles from the Einsel House, and the lesser part of 10 days driving there and back.

I do have a few bits of news I can share though.  First, weeds can do an astonishing amount of growing in 10 days.

Second, thanks to my dad (and the wonderful brothers who now farm my parents' land) it looks like I again have barn siding to salvage for my shed project. 

Third, we have an estimate to deal with the flooding problems at the end of the drive.  However, we asked the county engineer's office for a second opinion and after looking at the problem they said any tile would be mostly a waste of money for two reasons - (1) it would need to be extremely large to deal with the heavy downpours that cause the problem and (2) because of where it would need to be located, any tile would quickly plug with chaff and other debris from the field.  The county engineer suggested with either (A) relocate the end of our driveway 20 feet or so south, or (B) wait until the current soybean crop is harvested so we have a better view of the problem area and then reassess the situation.  We're going with B.

Fourth, we still have kittens.  A dozen kittens to be exact.  Ethel amazed all of us, not only by having 7 kittens in her first litter, but also by managing to keep all seven growing and healthy.  If you're local and want a cuddly little buddy, let us know!

Fifth, although it was never mentioned here, I spent most of July trying to convince Honda to pay for a $2,000 repair needed on our van.  I had to fight way too hard for it, but just before crossing the Mackinac Bridge last Friday we got a call saying Honda has finally agreed to cover the necessary repairs!   This means we should still be able to have the back of the house repointed this year!

Toes in Lake Superior
And finally, a few highlights from our recent trip.  For Charles and I's tenth anniversary, my in-laws rented a cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota.  My father-in-law has made the trip annually for 30-odd years to visit both a friend made in Vietnam days and Minnesota's deer.  (Denny is always much happier to see Jim than the deer are.)

Fishing with her Grandpa

Neil enjoying table ball at the resort's play area

Every six year old girl's dream