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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

The Art of Plumbing

For those of you who want to know what is growing in the toilet, well all I can say is I wouldn't touch it with your 10 foot pole! With that in mind I started the plumbing repairs this week. When your main line pops as a result of freezing, most folks would wail and scream and call a plumber but here at the "Old Crack House" we don't need no stinking plumbers and I did all my wailing and screaming the first time my pipes froze several years ago. I am a seasoned veteran when it comes to plumbing. This doesn't mean that I enjoy it though!
I saw this years plumbing fiasco as an opportunity to improve on my previous efforts. Remember this?



It looks like this now;



There are two shut offs and a boiler drain between so I can drain this line all the way back to here. This is 1" pipe which is a real pain to solder. It takes several minutes to heat up the joint and you can't use butane because it won't get the copper hot enough. You need this stuff;




Mapp gas.
I used to hate soldering before this week when I bought a new blow torch. My old blow torch had a nasty habit of igniting near the valve when the canister was tilted sideways. This would cause me to go into a ritualistic dance where my hands would shake vigorously and I would huff and puff on the gas canister several times until the flames went out. Have you ever Huffed and Puffed a blow torch? After going through the "blow torch Bamba" several times within a few minutes plumbing became too much of a work out that even a few beers couldn't make better!
Since some of my cpvc pipes cracked I took the opportunity to move some lines and do this:




I now have shut off valves for the upper floors AND as you can see, I labelled my hot and cold lines for future reference! While all this plumbing is being done I shall take the opportunity to install the tankless water heater which requires a whole bunch of valves and fittings that I don't have lying around the place. I am also rigging up the first floor toilet and a sink on the second floor while I'm at it. The real fun begins when I get the city to install a meter and turn the water back on!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sealing the Deal

Ha! You all thought that I must have been on vacation because it has been a week of silence. You would be WRONG! I've been putting together a NEW BLOG geared towards homeschoolers in the Dayton area. If you have a home school related blog and want me to link to it, send me an email. If you are in Dayton and know homeschoolers then send them the link. In about two years when Elizabeth has to report to school I hope to have an established resource network and open communication through the community blog.

So what have I done around the house this week? Well let me tell you... I have had to cut the grass and then I decided to revitalize all of the dry, discolored wood parts of many of my auction bought tools AND my mega-heavy $10.00 wood extension ladder. This is done with boiled linseed oil and turpentine (or paint thinner) which is sucked up by the wood and helps make it water resistant. I saw this on one of those gay dude hosted gardening shows on PBS. (Yes, I actually watched a gardening show on PBS once, OK maybe a couple of times.) The mixture also makes a great Eau de Cologne for renovators but that is another story.

I also started the tuck pointing process on my back wall to the house where water runs down due to a leaky box gutter. This is the cause of my wet walls in the bathroom and the infamous ceiling mushrooms. As I was standing on my newly oiled ladder I scraped one of those mushrooms out of the old mortar between some bricks and while inside the house I noticed that there are another three growing out of the wall above the window molding in the bathroom. Once I have tuck pointed I have to let the wall dry out a bit and then I can spray it with water seal.

I have been ordered by "The Boss" to do what is necessary to fix the plumbing because there is something growing in the toilet.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Adding to My Collection

Most people collect stamps, coins, thimbles or other useless stuff that has some perceived value. I seem to collect holes in walls! The way this happens is like this; I start to work on a room. I notice a bulge in the wall where I know there is a chimney located behind the bulge. I wait months, even years before I do anything. Then one day I get bored stripping gook off of floors and whack the spot with a hammer and before you know it I have this!



Here is the widescreen version;



I currently have six of these. I used to have two more but have sinced patched them and smoothed out the wall so you would never know that they ever existed.
If you turn around, you see this:



Hey, what's that bath tub still doing here?

Friday, April 13, 2007

That's Some Pig!


For those of you who adore the cutest resident of our house, this one's for you!



Yee Haw!

Now if I could just train that pig to scrape floors.......

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lovely Wishes, Weather You Were Here


It is on days like this




That I feel like doing this



Oh wait! I did that yesterday.....

Monday, April 09, 2007

Preventing Nose Icicles and Headaches

What is the difference between this picture



and this picture?



Six hours of mind numbing paint stripping at a temperature of 38 degrees. This wood is a nightmare. It is very dry and it splinters readily. Any ideas what kind of wood it is?



I plan to sand this floor to a paint grade and then paint it again since it is in bad shape. The only reason I am stripping it is because there are two layers of lac paint under that battleship grey color that will gum up the sand paper on the floor sander. It is easier and more cost effective to spend 4 days sitting down scraping with a heat gun and one day sanding then it is spending three days sanding and constantly having to change sand paper every 2 minutes.
I learned something today. Normally after stripping this much floor I have a headache. Today I have a cold so I stuffed some Kleenex in my nose to stop it dripping all over my floor and forming icicles on my lower lip and "voila" no headache! Of course my wrist and knees are sore.I wonder where I have shove some Kleenex in order to prevent that....

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wanna Know What We Bought? The Tucson Chronicles (part 3)

Enquiring minds do want to know? We actually spent $12 on Wednesday on this wall pocket because it has an art nouveau design and it was only $12. Oh, I forgot the most important reason, we're cheap!



On Thursday we drove all around Tucson looking for a particular brand of Mexican drinking chocolate that Deborah read about. We went to the international market, a small Mexican grocery and then finally found it. Guess where? "Food City" which is like Kroger, Piggly Wiggly or Giant Eagle depending where you live. So we bought three of the cans in case Deborah actually likes it. Then we checked into the Marriot at Starr Pass and spent the rest of the afternoon there because there was an agenda to follow.

On Friday afternoon and evening we were released from the bonds of corporate structure and allowed to roam alone once again so we drove out to the Saguaro National Park to look at some 800 year old petroglyphs that were scratched into some rocks. We concluded that they were either gang symbols, the visions created as a result of eating certain types of mushroom or an early design patent application for a nine spoked wheel. You will have to click on the picture and look carefully for the graffiti. Guess for yourself;



On the other side of the mountain, what do you think we saw? That's right! The other side of the mountain...



Those saguaro cactus take 75 years to sprout a limb and live to be 200 years old. Some of them are blessed:



While some of them suffer from erectile dysfunction. You would too after 200 years in the desert. A little Viagra in the rain water might help;



I tried Viagra once and the pill got stuck in my throat. I had a stiff neck for a week....

These bad boys are protected. If you develop a lot then you have to relocate the saguaros. To hack them down will cost you $2000 and to buy one will run $100 per foot. Just in case you wanted to know.
Once again I was convinced to take a short stroll in the desert wilderness since a sign said Encino Trail 0.9 m. Hell, that's a short trail, right! An hour and 0.9 miles later we were standing smack in the middle of the (you guessed it!) Encino Trail! We hoofed it back to the car and drove as fast as we could (35 mph) to get to the two antique stores where we saw some stuff we wanted before the stores closed.

We got these two plates, made in Mexico of course;




They clash with the red walls but this isn't their permanent home so there!

The scoop of the day (in my opinion) was a lamp that was marked "Not Old" and priced at $55. The lamp was a sculpture of two boys doing leap frog and it had two lily shades. It wasn't old so don't get excited for us. The stores best deal was $49. There was no way we could carry the light on the plane with us and it wasn't worth the money to ship it back to Ohio. So we offered them $30 for the shades and said they could keep the lamp. Cha-chingggg! I'm no expert on glass shades but I knew these were worth more than the lamp and know they will look great in the "crack house." I think the store owner had one of those "Doh!" moments after she realized that we only wanted the shades. Here is a picture;


Art glass shades aren't cheap. Even new ones cost $50 to $100 or even more so we were happy.
Obviously we got everything back without breaking because all these pictures were taken after I unwrapped them. Don't be so disappointed, remember that I still have all that plumbing to fix in my basement!
When we got back it was in the 70s and this was the view of the front yard;



All the bulbs are in full bloom and the bleeding hearts are out too. Today it is below freezing and the tulips are exhibiting "shrinkage." (per a Seinfeld episode that is in continuous rerun.) Which reminds me of a question that was once asked of Liberace. "Which is better, roses on your piano or tulips on your organ?"

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Avoiding the Cholla! The Tucson Chronicles (part 2)

My wife has the uncanny ability to make me do things that I know are stupid and sometimes dangerous. Like taking walks in the desert wilderness. On Tuesday evening we took a walk behind the "Cactus Quail Bed and Breakfast" for a short distance. Why? Because it would be a "nice walk", that's why. There are a couple of problems though. Here is Deborah looking for a place to pee;


The landscape is certainly not squat friendly. Then there is the cholla.

I took a year of botany at university and obviously forgot everything about cactus. Right in the middle of the walk path was a small cute little thing, almost "Tribble" like (if you remember that Star Trek episode) and I just had to stop and look at it to see if it was rooted into the soil. When I realized that it wasn't (by prodding it with my finger) Deborah distracted me with "Look, it came off of that plant behind you."

That is when IT happened. There must be a book written about the stealth of the cholla somewhere, and I have never seen it because that cute little cactus that was no bigger than a few inches long ATTACKED me! It was stuck to my left forefinger and it hurt real bad. So I did what ANY NORMAL person would do, I tried to shake it off. Well that was a BIG mistake. Now I had two spines in my forefinger and another seven in the adjacent index finger. I was really in a world of hurt now. After removing the offending cactus I was left with the task of pulling out the barbed quills which had penetrated quite deep into my fingers. My left hand was out of commission for a couple of days. It is amazing what lengths I go to in order to avoid working on the house!

So here is what a cholla looks like;



So what do you think we did on Wednesday? The wife convinced me that we needed to go on a three mile hike to the base of those mountains that we could see from the back of the B & B. Estimating that this entire six mile "walk" would take us 3 hours to complete I agreed to the venture (like I had a choice!) and we set off around 10 AM following the riding trails that headed towards the mountains. Horses must know more than I do because those trails don't follow a straight line and the ground isn't flat either. We ventured across several wadis and up and down a ravine or two and after a couple of hours we were only half way to our destination. I took another cholla in the right thumb when I was scooping up a handful of pebbles and when it was time for me to to take a waz the view looked like this.



There was NO WAY the family jewels were going to be exposed to these jumping chollas! Just the thought brings tears to my eyes. When the time finally came to watering the cactus this big boy caught my eye.




After 4 hours of romping through the desert wilderness we arrived back to our starting point. Then what do you think we did? That's right! When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping! Back to Tucson to look at some more antique stores! This time we found some stuff but held off on buying it thus creating an excuse to do MORE antique shopping later in the week.

At 6:30 PM we met up with the folks at Strawbaleredux for dinner at "Zivaz" and were almost the last people to leave some 3 hours later. You wouldn't think houseblog people would have so much to talk about, I mean to most people lime and shellac are sooooo boring!


If you are thinking of moving to Tucson then you might want to read their blog and build your own house because we checked into the cost of real estate while we were there. An old fixer upper in the city will cost you about $200,000 for a 1000 square foot bungalow style home. Fixed up they sell for $300 - $400,000 on a tiny lot. If it is land that you want, 3.2 acres of land beside a state park was a mere $300,000 and that was just the land! A house near the B & B on 1 acre was $550,000! Who would of thought that living in a desert would be so popular! The bad news is that over 1,000,000 people live in the area now and their water comes from a source that is 300 feet deep. 40 years ago the source was 75 feet deep.

On Thursday we changed locations to the Marriot at Starr Pass for the real reason we went to Tucson, a business conference for all of Deborah's hard work last year! This place is huge, almost too big and comes with a golf course and a health spa. It is a pity I don't golf or do massages at $200 a pop. In fact the only weight lifting I do on a regular basis is 12 oz. bottles! The rooms cost $250 a night for a corporate rate (regularly $540!). Good job we weren't paying for it because $250 equals 25 cans of shellac or 25 sheets of drywall or even 30 strips of bead board in the realm of renovators anonymous! To be honest, we liked the B & B better because it had a better view and it was a lot easier to find the room after a weight lifting session! I can't complain though, the food was good and they had my two favorite beers, "Free" and "Free Lite"!

If you can wait I'll show you pictures of the stuff we bought for the house, all of it breakable of course!

Monday, April 02, 2007

"Go West Young Man" The Tucson Chronicles (part 1)

We weren't around for several days in case anyone was wondering. Last Tuesday we flew off to Tucson, Arizona for a week of fun in the sun! Upon arrival we picked up a rental car and headed straight for a little Mexican restaurant for some lunch. After that we headed straight for the antique stores since we couldn't check into the Bed & Breakfast until the late afternoon! We did really well. After looking in some 5 or six stores we hadn't spent a penny!

Then we headed north west on Oracle Road to the Oro Valley, some 15 miles from the center of Tucson on our quest to locate "The Cactus Quail" which was the name of the B & B. When we found it (if you pass the Catholic Church you've gone too far, and we should know. Twice!) I made sure to take some pictures.
Here is the sign;



and the view from the sign;



This is even harder at night! There are restrictions on light pollution in this part of the country but it may already be too late. It is hard to believe that an entire generation of Americans will never see the real night sky. Unless you are somewhere like the Rockies you may never see the Milky Way.
Here are some more pictures from the B & B;



I was really intrigued with the tile roof, this picture shows how it is constructed. Just in case anyone was interested.


That is mortar under those ridge tiles and at the base of the chimney, you know, lime, sand and Portland cement.

I also thought this was a cool thing to do with bricks!



Now the best thing about the place (besides the fact that it costs $130 a night) is the view from the back yard;





That is all State and National Park land back there so I expect this view is good for several administrations!

The distance to those mountains is 3 miles as the crow flies. Tomorrow I will explain how I know that (and why we never got all the way to them.) You will also learn about my experience with the "Jumping Cholla" (pronounced choya) which is a particularly nasty cactus plant and YES we did meet up with some other housebloggers while we were there so I can tell you all about that too! Since I haven't done this in a while, if you want to know how to keep a house blog reader in suspense CLICK HERE!