Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Because Grandpa says so

Tidying up the basement this week has got me thinking about a number of organizational and basement improvement type projects. One of these projects was rebuilding the basement stairs.
These stairs are probably original to the house making them circa 1935. They look like they were built from scrap wood laying around after the house was complete. Add to that some of the stair treads toward the bottom are missing chunks from our first Labrador. They are pretty ugly.

I was excited about the challenge of rebuilding them because they are steep and far from any sort of standard run/rise combination. I looked forward to measuring, making calculations and drawings, re-measuring, redrawing…etc.

Well last night, my devoted wife’s brother stopped over for a visit. He is a carpenter and master craftsman.
Normally, when I tell him of one of my crazy ideas –he is right on board, often lending advice on how to measure or what materials may work best.
When I mentioned the stair project to him last night, he gazed down the stairs shaking his head in a patient, all-knowing sorta way…
“You don’t want to touch those.” he said. “Those are grandfathered.”

Who would ever disagree with their grandfather? Grandfathers are old.
This means they know.
They know most everything.
They have seen it, done it and been there… perhaps several times.

And so by being ‘grandfathered in’ – our stairs... which do meet new codes or regulations –can stay, no questions asked.
Because they are already here and have been here for a really long time, and they are old and wise and have seen it all.

And so when your master craftsman brother in-law tells you something’s been ‘grandfathered’… don’t ask questions.
Put down the tape measure and back away from the tool box.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A good purge

Our recent oil tank incident has caused a flurry of activity in our house this past week.
Since we needed to quickly rearrange things to move them away from the old leaky, smelly oil tank, we took the opportunity to get rid of alot of it and reorganize the remainder.

Purging can be so satisfying... just ask Sassy.

Now we have a garage full of junk rather than a basement full of junk.
This will be organized into three areas:
stuff to sell
stuff to toss
and our favorite... stuff to put at the curb for free.

We do this alot.
It's like sport for us.
We take perfectly good stuff that we no longer use and set it out at the curb to see how long it takes for someone to snatch it up. We do it so often that folks probably wait with great anticipation to see what we will put out next. We actually have an old (working) air conditioner that we are saving for just such an occasion. We want to wait until next summer when its like 99 degrees out - then put the old A/C out at the curb with a FREE sign on it...
That's gotta make somebody's day.

Oh, and of course, all this tidying and purging has also spawned some ideas for new projects... more on this later.

Monday, January 29, 2007

...later that same day


it fit down the stairs!

Its all done, and the house is almost warm again.

They did manage to put a big scratch in the side. I am not to happy about that. Because its important for me to have a shiny new, scratch free oil tank. (I may have to touch it up).

Now I must go and vacuum and mop up after the installers.

Our Old House

Nothing is ever easy here.

The new oil tank is being installed today.
Here is our old one. The heating guy said this tank is probably 70 years old being the original tank from when the house was converted from coal.

Yes, it's a stone basement. I believe the floor used to be dirt. But at some point an inch of concrete was poured down there.

Because of the lack of a separate entrance to the basement and the narrow stairs... today's project will be a challenge.
The fellows who are doing the install tho are familiar with these issues. We live in an old farm house - and there are many in these parts (sprinkled in with the McMansions), so they have a plan.
First, the old tank will be drained and washed clean. The oil, about 175 gallons, will be stored in drums and tansferred to the new tank.
Then they will cut the old tank to fit it up and out the stairs.

Our new tank will be slightly smaller, 22" wide, and 240 gallons rather than the standard of 275.
Here it is in the driveway.

Fitting the 22" tank down the narrow stairs is still really just a theory. If it won't go - we can actually get two small tanks which they can tandem.
We are really hoping this is not necessary tho, as it jacks up the price by a grand.

I told my frugal wife not to worry - I would find a way to get this tank down the stairs no matter what... I will start taking down walls if I have to.

They will also need to replace our vent line, as its not up to code (really... in this house... what is).
This will require widening the outlet through our stone basement walls. I hope this works out easily. But with this old house - I wouldn't put money on it.

Friday, January 26, 2007



If you live in an old home, like we do, keep an eye and a nose on your indoor oil tank.
They are much, much easier to replace in the summer ... when there is not 250 gallons of oil in them.

Look underneath your tank often. And if you smell oil... you've waited to long.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


It occurs to me that I never followed up on our counter installation.
( didn't actually occur to me - I was reminded)

Plus, we needed some extra time to finish the back splash for the final pictures. (ok, ok not that much time)

Ok so...
the counters used to be green, and clearly that needed to change.

As I told you the installation was harrowing:

First we removed the old counter. We put the old counter on sawhorses close by so we could use it as a reference. Tho we quickly learned that we would not be able to transfer the old measurements. I began to panic.
Lucky me, my mathematical wife steps in with a pencil:

After penciling in the proper measurements, she adds tape so that the foot of the saw won't scratch the new counter.

My intelligent and attractive wife has me check the final measurements one more time. You get one shot with a sink hole. If you mess up - you can toss the whole counter out:

Then we use a hole saw in each corner:

After all four holes are drilled we simply cut the straight edges with a jig saw. I am using a small kerf laminate (down-cut) blade, so as not to chip the laminate during the cut.

Look! it FITS!

Some things we leave to the professionals. The plumber came the next day.

Then my creative wife finished up with a stone tile back splash (during this process I got to wipe things, get her fresh water, and open the wine when she was done).

Notice the sink rack in the bottom of the oddly shaped sink. Initially we went to Bed Bath and Beyond to get a rack to protect our happy new sink - but we dismayed with the selection. I found these custom racks made by the manufacturer online. I do so love the internets.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I'm not a felon, but they don't know that yet

Next week, here at the office, we are all going to be fingerprinted.
No one has given us an actual, plausible explanation - tho its fairly obvious... since we work with highly confidential personal data.

As to be expected, many folks are in a nit about it.
Personally, I am excited. I don't think I have ever been fingerprinted.
Well... there was that 'incident' in upstate New York. Tho I can't quite remember if they fingerprinted me or not.

I felt like I was in Mayberry.
The synopsis goes like this:
- around midnight driving through nowhere on our way to Canada, circa 1989
- stopped for really minor traffic violation
- I was a passenger and arrested on an open container charge
- my empty beer bottle was marked as 'Exhibit A'
- almost got into more trouble for laughing at the labeling of my Michelob
- I had to ride in the patrol car to the police station/court house
- the officer and I chatted about real estate prices and rising insurance costs
- the judge was called in from home, he was wearing a flannel shirt
- I was asked if I wanted a lawyer, and again... the laughing
- I pleaded guilty to drinking a beer (technically it was only 1/2 a beer...)
- payed a 20.00 fine to be release into the custody of my giggling wife

This can't possibly come up on my record... can it?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Let’s just say

Let’s just say you were approaching the entrance to your favorite local shop.
You notice as you get closer that someone else is also heading for the door.
Do you speed up to reach the door and let it close behind you so that you are in first?
Then why do you do that in your car?

Let’s just say you are walking along a park path. Ahead of you is an elderly couple, holding hands and enjoying a leisurely walk. Suddenly you realize the time and need to brisk your pace to get back for an appointment.
Do you yell at the old couple as you approach from behind, and then scowl at them as you pass in your haste?
Then why do you do that in your car?

Let’s just say you walk into the bank and need to see a teller for your transaction.
You notice there are a number of people waiting in a roped line.
Do you bypass the line and go directly to the front to be waited on next?
Then why do you do that in your car?

Let’s just say you are a thoughtful, courteous person – who tends to open doors for others, help a lost person, be patient and kind.
Then why aren’t you like that your car?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Circle the wagons

I keep falling off damn wagons.
Well, technically, I was never really on the wagon per se...

In my ongoing determination to lose weight, I had decided several weeks ago to cut back on my beer consumption. It's just so many calories, and... being a middle aged woman I just don't metabolize alcohol like back in the day.
(which is mostly just the universe telling me enough is enough old woman, you ain't 20 anymore)

I had a bit of a setback this weekend.
But its Monday... I am now planted firmly in my wagon seat, hands on the reigns, keeping a look out for angry natives, with a Perrier by my side.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fallen off the wagon

I have fallen off the blog wagon.
I am running to catch up.
I don't run very fast.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

In training

The road where my office complex is located is like the Autobahn.
It’s a newly paved rather curvy road, and the drivers are all professionals.
Professional commuters.
Pretty much the only traffic on this road is limited to people heading to this complex.
You need to be savvy to the commuter rules of the road.

This morning, as I was taking my left turn onto the OfficeAutobahn, I noticed a car coming in the opposite direction moving very slowly with the right blinker on.
Its an unusual site to see someone driving slowly in this area.
As the car took a very tentative, hugging the shoulder sort of turn, I noticed the big yellow signs on all sides.

Why in holy hell would someone bring a Student Driver on this road... at 8a.m.

Poor kid. Bet this kid gets a city job that he can walk to

Friday, January 12, 2007



We gave Ferris a car stereo for Christmas. The Daughter's Handsome Beau helped us pick it out and did the install as well - he is a pro in this area.
The thing has all the bells and whistles. So many bells in fact that its not all that easy to figure out how the thing works. Luckily it comes with a thick manual.
After the Handsome Beau was done with the install he came into the kitchen and handed us the thick manual.
"Ferris needs to read this, put it in the john."

Huh. I had never thought of putting stuff in there that he really should read, but probably wouldn't.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I am, for the second time this week, eating and working at the same time. No time for a break, work is busy.
Or course I am also blogging... and cleaning the oven.
Man... I'm good.

I was supposed to be at the gym during lunch today. Normally, I go to the gym at 4:00. Then I can watch Ellen while I am on the Elliptical.
This makes me happy.
I like that time slot.
But the gym is packed with post holiday exercise binging so I am looking for a quieter time. I know most of these newbies will give up in a couple weeks, so I can have my routine back.
I do so like routine.
But knew that.

I have been very good about going to the gym... not perfect, but good. 3 - 4 times a week good.
I don't seem to have much measurable results yet. I have lost 1 pound, and have been told that my face looks thinner, which seems to have no effect on the way my pants fit... o well.
But getting older makes you more patient.
The universe gives you this great gift of patience as you age... mostly because things tend to take longer.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Our reality show

My mom came over yesterday to watch the Patriots game in HiDef on our big TV.
My mom LOVES the Patriots.
Its like they are all her kids...she seems to know how they are feeling, what kind of mood they are in, who is friends with who. She said one day that she thought they lost because Tom Brady looked tired, and maybe he was fighting off a cold.

While she was there I demonstrated how easy it is to record shows using the DVR. I think it would be easier for her to use than her VCR.
Since I wanted to record it anyway, I used the L W0RD as an example (10:00 is just so late, so we didn't watch the premier yet - possibly tonight).

When she asked what the L W0RD was, I replied. "It's a show about rich, successful, extremely attractive lesbians all living in the same city in California. They all know each other, hang out at the same places and can walk to each others houses all day when most people are actually working... you know - just like real life."

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

kill a watt

Here in CT they plan to raise our electric rates by somewhere near 50% over the course of the next year.

That's alot for watts.

We have never been very mindful of our electric usage. We tend to turn on lights in rooms we are not in or leave computers running we are not using. Forget Ferris. His room is a watt-fest. Everything is running all of the time... tv, playstation, computer, lights, phones... I think he even plugs himself in to recharge. more.
My frugal wife and I are taking action.

We are discovering there are alot of things plugged in, sucking power for no good reason. Do we need a clock on the wall on the stove on the microwave on the coffee maker? I don't think so.

You do know all of your appliances are gobbling up kilowatts just waiting for you to turn them on? They sit in a ready state, plucking dollar bills from your wallet - just so you can push a button from across the room to turn them on. Well, I am not that lazy.

We'll start by putting some appliances on power strips. This way we can control when they start sucking energy. Several of the appliances with clocks will simply be unplugged until we need them. We will also be switching over to fluorescent bulbs where ever we can.
And lastly... we'll send Ferris back to college where we more than cover any of his electrical expenses.

Oh, and my watt-conscious wife wants to get this device.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


It occurs to me suddenly that I have failed to supply myself with a 2007 calendar.

I don't know what day it is, and I can't make any plans.
It's not so bad really.

Monday, January 01, 2007

I'm Back

I took a hiatus.
It was divine.
The holidays were lovely. The time off from work sublime.
We were lazy and decadent.

Real posting begins tomorrow.

Today I am springing back by eating lettuce all day.
Let's call it a cleansing after last nights fondue madness.
Have you had fondue lately? I highly recommend it.