Tuesday, April 21, 2009

electric mayhem

The electrical work on our basement is done!

It took Mike and I several minutes to realize we had no clue how the basement was wired, so rewiring was out of the question.

It took our electrician friend 3 nights of after-work visits to realize he needed more bits. As he's already got a real life, moving into our basement to help us wasn't an option.

It took a paid electrician less than a morning to finish off the excellent work our friend had done.

In the interim, as I had nothing to work on, I started running again (OK, slow granny shuffle, but it's definitely NOT a walk), cleaned up the front garden, moved the yukka, cut down the rest of the smoke tree in the hope that it will generate beautifully shaped new growth to replace the old, split the Karl Forrester reed grass and helped Hugh move the dishwasher.

Why did we move the dishwasher?


Apparently they used the underside of our rarely-used dishwasher as a disco. Or an outhouse. Same end result. Much poop. It's now cleaned, and access to their disco has been foamed in. They can still get under the sink.

Hugh's plan? Trap and release. His initial plan was to flush them, as he figured they'd survive a trip through the sewers. But he decided against that, and released one in a field and one in a massively busy intersection, near a garden centre. Will they survive? It doesn't seem that likely, but they'll make better food outside of our house.

And now, a word on renewal pruning.

Renewal pruning involves cutting 1/3 of an overgrown shrub down to the ground in each of 3 consecutive years. The theory is that this will encourage the healthy, enormous root system to put up new shoots, which can be selectively pruned as required to create a brand new healthy beautifully shaped shrub. The pictures in gardening books make it look easy and idiot proof. And honestly, cutting down shrubs is something I'm good at.

The reality so far is that the shrub has sent out some new growth, mostly parallel to the ground, and the rabbits have eaten a lot of it. What we have now is an oddly shaped stump with various branches sticking out all over the place, mostly chewed up by rabbits. I am still hoping real new growth will emerge, now that there isn't a remaining old branch sucking up energy.

Next steps? In the garden, the honeysuckle must go. In the house, drywall must move from piles on the floor to the ceiling. In the kitchen, we'll hope the mice don't build another disco.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

red hot strapping mama

Oh yeah. We're done with the metal. Today we started the strapping, and it was good. I learned how to use a powerful drill, and spent much of the day screwing. Strapping to the ceiling, of course. Please note there are 2 screws for every meeting of strap to joists.

Here's the nasty corner, with 2 levels of ductwork, all framing by moi meme. Isn't it shiny?

And here's the incentive to finish:

Yes, that's a full drum kit in our living room. The boys had band practice yesterday, and I don't know what songs they played, but I can tell you it was loud. We bought a mess of sound insulation today, we'll probably start insulating on Monday, once the wiring and cable is done. I asked Hugh 3 times if he'd do the cable tomorrow. Here's what I now know.

1. It only takes 10 minutes.
2. It's easy to do.
3. You just go to the box and finish it (huh?).

What I don't know is whether or not Hugh will actually run the cable tomorrow. Maybe if I ask him to show me, he'll just do it.

Tomorrow is also Easter, when we commemorate a resurrection by finding chocolate eggs hypothetically laid by a placental mammal. I'm voting we switch it to the Easter platypus. Far more interesting and plausible.

Happy oestrus, all! May your garden prove fertile, and anything else you wish to multiply.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

opinions and rationalization

I am pondering flooring options for our basement.

The subfloor will be happiest with a floating floor, and so will I - I don't want to pay for installation, and I really like mucking around with my hands. It's very satisfying, even when the end result is a tad disappointing. Like the roman shades I made - they worked out perfectly, but they just don't look that great. They are too blah. I need to paint them or something.

My initial plan was cork flooring. It is beautiful. It is $5 a square foot, a tad expensive, but affordable (except to my inner Scot). It installs easily, and is rated for basement installations. But it is prone to nicks, I mean, it is cork - we all have some experience working with it, although it tends to be get this cork out of the way of my wine "work". My children are wonderful, delightful, amazing creatures. Quite possibly the best children ever to exist. Yet I know their understanding of "be careful on the floor" and mine come from different universes. So the floor will get nicked. It will. Absolutely. And the children will spill brightly coloured drinks on it. Think orange pop meets grape pop meets pomegranate juice. Their idea of a quick clean up is to remember to tell me a couple of days later.

Actually, that's optimistic. Connor cleaned his last spill by cutting a hole in the rug, then cutting out an almost-matching hole from a slightly hidden clean part and sticking it in the spill hole. He was so impressed with his ingenuity it was hard to tell him why that's a bad idea. I shudder at what he'd do to the cork, especially knowing my concern that they keep it safe...

Next option. Bamboo. Teragren sells a Leeds certified oh-so-green floating bamboo floor that gets a high rating from Consumer Reports for durability. But it's pricey. How pricey, I don't know - probably about 50% more than cork. That may kill the Scot. More likely it will enrage him and he will start waking me up even earlier. I'll still check it out. Hugh may axe it before the Scot even finds out.

Last click flooring option I'd consider - engineered wood. Not sure if it actually comes as a floating floor, usually it's a glue thing and I don't want to glue anything. Laminate doesn't need glueing, but I have a severe aversion to laminate flooring despite its low cost and ease of installation. U-G-L-Y you ain't got no alibi, you're just UGLY.

So - my options are expensive but durable or fairly expensive but destroyable. Looking at all the dents and holes in our drywall, I think durability has to be high on the "need" side in this decision. Common sense occasionally sucks big time.