Thursday, December 12, 2013

live a little

put down your phones.
WATCH your life
with your OWN eyes.

if something magical happens
TELL the story
again and again
for years to come*

you will tell it better than any video
because you took the time to LIVE it.

*this method also allows for healthy embellishment.

Monday, December 09, 2013

It's all in my head

I write a blog post in my head almost every day.

Why they don't seem to make it here elludes me.

Thursday, September 05, 2013


Sensing a theme here?

But no, I am not referring to rolled up grass.
Nor do I mean it as 'fool' or 'idiot', or maybe I do...

It's my own personal acronym.
You've heard of SAD... that Seasonal Affective Disorder,
well this is Seasonally Overwhelmed Disorder.

I get this way in the spring and the fall. In fact... I've blogged this before.

When the seasons change there is much to do.
And for some ridiculous reason I get all anxiety stricken.
Like OMG I need to wash the windows, plant some grass, wax the car, take in the screens, get a new storm door, wash the floors, tidy the garage, test the snowthrower, do the laundry, change the oil, lose some weight, find the missing house key, wash the dishes, organize my sock drawer, clean the oven...

and on and on it goes.

Why o why did I also decide this was the time of year to cut back on my wine consumption.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

I have no one to blame but myself

I am making an effort to getting back to documenting life (and renovations) here at the brick house by the marsh.

I wanted to write something current. Very current.
I sat and pondered.
Whats happening... let's see... whats happening right now. This week.

Not the giant front yard project to begin next week.
Not the plumbing project to begin asap in the basement.
Right now.
And what popped into my head ?

Yes. Grass.

Technically the lack thereof.

Somehow... after moving away from a lawn the size of a small ranch.

Maintaining large, diverse grassy areas. A pleasure to stroll.
sunny parts
shady parts

even outside of the fence there was GRASS

so much grass

somehow I have managed to utterly destroy this tiny little backyard.

There was neglect.
There was arrogance.
There were rookie mistakes.

And now there is crabgrass and dead grass and weeds and ...utter despair.

I simply cannot get myself to upload a picture of it.
ohhh the horror.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

oh right...the fireplace

sorry got distracted...

The original fireplace surround (using the word original loosely- I think the 'actual original' was just brick) was a brown tile circa early 70's Brady Bunch era I would guess.
The fireplace screen had little swirly iron branches with acorns and maple leaves - not very beachy.

(note in the picture below the diamond placed tiles in front are not part of the hearth...we were just checking colors... didn't seem to have a better 'before' picture)

We replaced the tile with beachy seaglass and used some of the marble from the foyer to tie it together and break up the field of tiny tiles.
To save some money my clever wife took the original screen apart - removing all the forest-y details.
and gave it some fresh paint (yes..more silver paint. I believe the can is still not yet empty... more on that  to come).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The end is in sight

Whenever I say to friends we are nearing the end of our renovations, they just sort of smile and nod.

But really just about the only thing we haven't changed here is the bricks. So the end will come.

This house was like an onion. A big stinky onion. As we peeled away the layers of filth we found ...well more filth and lots of things just done plain wrong.
While removing all evidence of several previous owners and poorly done renovations we have tried to retain any features original to the house (this will be evident when i post about the first floor bath).

So nearing the last items to be changed were the tile in the foyer and the tiled fireplace surround.

So the foyer:

We actually started with the stairs.

The newel post was that same dark cherry stain that was slathered on all the wood throughout the house, and the spindles were black iron, and frankly we hated the whole thing. Granted they went really well with all the dark, dank mobster decor - but we needed to lighten things up.

I tried to get the spindles out to replace them - but without dismantling then entire railing it was a no go.

Not a problem for my artsy and ever patient wife. She painted the newel posts white...ahh so much white here- crisp and clean, and the spindles she did in bright silver (remember this... the silver... because she has more paint left and you know what that means...)
still old foyer tile here...
With a brush. Whew.
I have no patience for tedious tasks...

In the top photo you can just see a small portion of the old tile in the foyer. It was white marble.
Ok ..kind of plain - not hideous..but .. yes... we hated that too.

Had to go.
So here is where we ended up.
weird little hole... odd.

Here is where we really ended up:
It's marble - yes we replace marble with marble.

Our marble - a beachy, warm marble has a soft matt finish - we added tiny glass mosaic inlays.
I adore this tile. It feels delicious under your feet. It makes the foyer feel clean and inviting.

Next the fireplace....

Monday, June 24, 2013

follow up

Just to swing back around to an unfinished project before moving on.

This weekend we installed new screen/window things on the screen porch.

Each unit arrived packaged up nicely. There are 10 in all, each custom sized for the opening.
 Starting on the back wall.
(my new ladder - my overly cautious wife made me buy a new one after I fell off and bent my old one)
 Here are the first two installed. The first unit has all the windows closed. the second has the windows all tucked down to the bottom - leaving open screen at the top.
The 'windows' are a thin, lightweight vinyl.
 Whala! It took about 5 or 6 hours to do the entire install. I was a little slowed down by choosing to work at noon in full sun. Duh.

Free Dog has acquiesced. I think she preferred the room with no walls at all.

For her we have all the windows stacked at the top. Allows a nice breeze.

The windows also come out if we wanted to store them over the summer season.
But we'll leave them -- its nice to sit out in the rain and keep all the furniture dry.

Friday, June 14, 2013


The OLF*s are here.

They are calling our house home base for the week while their parents jet across the country to a destination wedding.

Today as I sit at my desk shivering because the corporate air conditioning seems to be set to the lowest common denominator... they are at the beach with "auntie".

I believe they are at "aunties BIG beach". This is the beach we drive to (we can walk..but NOT with four year olds...whew). It boasts a concession stand with DORA ICE CREAM, a playground, places to play basketball, tennis or skateboard and a finely groomed beach with lifeguards. The girls LOVE this beach.

Sometimes we go to aunties 'little' beach. We walk there.

Our favorite activity there is to throw rocks into the water. It's a natural beach with no stands or bathrooms and NO grooming. This is the beach we frequent when we are alone. Its also the same stretch of beach where we launch our kayaks.

Near this beach...well technically on this beach is where we get 'breakfast on the patio'. Another favorite thing to do at weese and aunties house.

Then of course there is the playground at the elementary school around the corner. The routine is for the girls to get their purses (in which we have placed a dollar or two) and we walk over to the deli. There they get to pick a treat there - perhaps a cookie or an ice cream, maybe some candy. Then we walk up the street to the school playground (unless like today, its actually a school day).

Then we go back to auntie and weese's house where the fun will continue.

and so it will go until mommie and daddie come home.
I trust there is much swilling going on with mommie and daddie right now.

*Our Little Friends - our neices

Monday, June 10, 2013

finishing touches

When we last left our kitchen renovation - hmm, I believe we were here:

she loves the plywood counters i made her
A functioning kitchen with plywood counters and no trim.

This kitchen... oh this kitchen.
When we first moved in - this was the room we started to demo first. I blogged about that here.
Its been a delightful challenge ever since.

We lived with those plywood counters for a very LONG time. We knew we wanted butcher block - but evidently there was suddenly a huge RUN on butcher block. huh. Go figure.

Sometime during the time we were hunting down butcher block - the giant back window started to leak. As a stop gap measure - duct tape and plastic sufficed.

notice Ferris and the FREE dog do not seem to mind
Plywood and plastic...classy.
Can you see the plastic over the window? We then lived like this for another LONG time. It felt suffocating.

After much research and calling and begging(ok we really didn't beg - we just wrote a check) - we finally acquired some butcher block.
To save some money we spent hours in the garage (later to be the studio) sanding and treating them ourselves.

she is such a perfectionist

They came out pretty nice.

Since that time - we've had (all) the windows replaced.  I trimmed around this giant window myself- and my rather flexible wife installed delicious backsplash tile.
And then the finishing touch..
We had purchased a counter depth fridge and had our cabinets designed to fit that fridge size - but these are stock cabinets, not custom, and so there was a gap over the fridge of just a few inches (you can actually see it in the first picture above.). So when we had the under cabinet lighting installed we asked the electrician to put a light tucked up under the cabinet that sat over the fridge with a separate switch.
Well - in getting good use of her new studio - my clever wife finally found time to pull this all together.

 A close up - because I can't seem to capture the amazing colors and textures of this piece with my crappy camera.

 ...more stained glass pieces to come.

Monday, June 03, 2013

the season begins

Here we are first day of our kayak season.
Today's activity will be to make seaglass.

First we carefully prepare each new recepticle.

 Once its ready (empty) we launch it.

and thats all there is to it... well other than the retrieval proces - which we do on land.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


I wondered... what does the woman in the hot pink pants suit think of my outfit?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Memorial Day

firemen in the parade
When this dapper fire captain hopped out of ranks to steal a kiss from his gal and then skampered back into line it was a sweet moment.
Thats my Bubba*.
And Bubba is happy.
Ah... spring is in the air and love is grand.

Happy spring Bubba!

*Bubba is my big brother.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Prodigal Free Dog

For reasons we cannot fathom, the Free Dog still lives with us down here by the sea.

Free dog is getting older and slower, as are we. So by the time we all smelled the skunk - it was too late.
And despite previous experience on both our parts - we all succumbed to rookie mistakes.

And so the next several hours into the night we washed and aired and washed again.

We spent the next day airing the house with the windows WIDE open.
Just in time for pollen.
It seems that ALL the pollen came off EVERY tree yesterday.
Our entire decor is now a lovely ochre.

Things are smelling better in here today. The odor is mostly contained to the basement where Free Dog has her bed.
Which is in my office.
Which is where I am now ... I knew I should have gotten a laptop instead.

Monday, May 20, 2013

If you want somthing done right...

First hire a professional, then redo the parts you don't like.

So last year we had the screen porch added.
from last year

We used it ALOT.

For the winter I got an idea to use these heavy clear tarps so we wouldn't have to store all the patio furniture inside somewhere else.

porch bubble
This was was both a swimming success... and a failure.

I say failure because these clear plastic panels were HEAVY, and difficult to put up. I could see right away this was not going to be conducive to my plans of aging gracefully.
That said - the porch was toasty warm on sunny days. Even tho there was tremendous air leakage - it was still very comfortable on some very cold days. This was a pleasant surprise.

So this spring we had two issues to solve.
First, my wife detested the way the contractor had installed the screens. The white outlined effect detracted from the simplicity of the room, and frankly looked cheap. She particularly disliked the white horizontal bar around the entire space just at eye level when seated.
I disliked the screens for the practical purposes of fixing and cleaning them.

So they had to go...
why does it always rain when i work outside

After removing all the screens and trim I reframed the spacing and added a sill plate all around the bottom and making the openings closer to four foot, vs. the eight foot spans originally.
still some landscaping in progress around the base of the porch
We are now ready to order some new screens.
I've got something in mind...
I hope this idea is better than my last.

Friday, May 17, 2013



I am back dammit.
I spent some time over the weekend using this very blog to research various important facts - such as the timing of the arrival of pollen dust, did we have ants in 2006, and how many years did I skip crabgrass control.
I am realizing I can't remember a damned thing.
But my blog can!

Today's tip is how to keep doing over-the-top, out of your league, DIY projects as we age.

I learned while re-framing our screened porch
yes...I said re-framing, and yes... we just had it built last year. what happens when you spend alot of money on something but you are really not completely satisfied with the result - well, just change it! I will post about this fun project.
I digress
So I noticed that its getting harder and harder for me to do heavy work over my head. Evidently I am not as strong as I used to be...or I am just getting noticeably lazier. Either way - placement of your ladder is key.
Say you are trying to screw in a fairly heavy pressure treated header with 3" deck screws -- so place your step ladder in a position where you are dead infront of the current screw you want to drive. Whats key is to place it far enough away so you can lean your weight into the drill. This will help drive it home. Move the ladder for each screw you need to drive instead of trying to reach. Reaching really diminishes your torque. Also don't forget how handy a good set of clamps are. This way you don't have to hold a board as you hold the drill.
These small changes to your work habits will get you through a project well enough ... at least well enough to still be able to uncork the wine later.

Monday, April 01, 2013

gone viral

Did you get a flu shot?
I didn't.
I am one of those people who says...'Baahh, I've never had the flu.'
That only works for so long.

Tho - no one told me that I actually ever had 'The Flu'.

What they said was 'viral infection'. A seemingly random virus.
A virus gone rampant. Gone viral.

So viral in fact that after being amazingly sick for 7 days - I landed in the ER.
So viral in fact that the ER couldn't even 'treat and street' me.
So viral in fact that I really should have stayed that extra day in my comfortable 7th floor hospital room.
12 days of hell.
Today, over 30 days later, I am still recovering.

Next year, I will get a flu shot. Maybe two.
And perhaps not leave the house from Nov - April.

Friday, February 22, 2013



While you're waiting for spring - its a good time to move stuff around and vacuum. Remember to remove the grill on your fridge and vacuum the coils. Also with all these heavy winter clothes and so much of that fleece -- your dryer vent and pipe could also use a nice dusting out.

Friday, February 15, 2013



Remember to dig out any exterior vents when the snow starts to pile up.

Here we dug out our dryer vent - which is vented very low (eek... not to code) out of a basement window.

But more important than this - be VERY sure your furnace vents are free and clear. And always make sure your CO detector is working.

Oh... and also remember cars buried in the snow will have their mufflers blocked. Do not sit in a running car with the muffler blocked.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Nemo (or whatever it was called...)

We moved to our little house by the marsh to get away from all the snow inland.

Luckily - at the last minute and at the urging of our mover (of all people) I had decided to bring the giant snowthrower with us, rather than just leave it at the old house.

Friday the snow started during the day, and I cleared the driveway twice that day in anticipation of alot of snow overnight.


Saturday morning we woke up to... well... wow.

We started to clear first thing in the morning. 
I did learn that with high winds - pre-clearing the driveway can be pointless.
Luckily in some areas there was only about 2 feet - the snowthrower went through this easily.
taken from an upstairs window, after having given up
But the wind was brutal.  If you've ever tried to use a snow thrower in high wind - you know what that's like. So after some hand shoveling we gave up for the day.
crazy wife is still out there

Sunday was bright and sunny.
We assessed where we had left off from the day before.
Found one of the cars.
We eventually got the driveway cleared by knocking the snow down with shovels then running the snowthrower through at a snails pace.

But we sorta dead-ended at the street - two days in and no plows yet.
notice the fabulous melting, its about 25 degrees out

So - we passed some time.
but the sunshine made it feel like spring
My clever-wife got the idea to dig our way out to the road.
looking north down our street
Luckily help was on the way.
looking south down our street
She wasn't out there long by herself, and by evening a full car width path was opened up for the entire block.
i love this neighborhood
Monday a payloader arrived!
The plows were by later to tidy up.


 And on Tuesday - we finally got that snow bank backed off the driveway.

taken Thursday morning... hardly any snow left!


bring it.