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August 28, 2006

Cuttin' Trim

Ah, it's these finishing touches that seem like they'll go so quickly but end up being incredibly tedious (though gratifying).
As much as the space seems "ready" and is technically liveable, things like trim just can't be ignored. Way back in the planning stages of this thing, we sort of thought trim wasn't really mandatory and we could live without it. But after seeing what a fantastic job the wallboard guys did, it seemed almost a shame not to clean up the edges a bit and make it a really nice space. Plus, Uncle Ken just took it for granted that he would have to help us with the trim, and bought all the lumber before we could say, "Who needs trim?" And, ultimately, we're glad the man likes to do a good job.

So there was some sawing.

And hanging.

We learned that the sills had to go in first, and that really was the hard part, involving complicated cutting that was beyond layman's work. Thank goodness for Uncle Ken. He and Matthew and Dad were working like a well-oiled machine. Notice, though, how Uncle Ken is doing all the work, and Matthew and Dad are either holding up little pieces of wood that weigh less than three ounces or casting about aimlessly trying to look busy.

Keeping the clowns in check makes a body tired.

One of the windows required some amazing re-engineering, involving screw bolts and washers. The wall below the window was bowed out quite a bit, and with some fancy action on the power tools, Uncle Ken was somehow able to bring the wall back flush(er) so that the window frame wasn't sticking 3 inches off the wall on both sides. Again, technical acumen that we, the laymen, don't possess. It would have looked so bad if we had done it ourselves.

And, voila! Doesn't this look so much better?

And then there was the matter of our glass block window. We had imagined it going in months ago, but somehow it kept getting put off, as easy to install at any stage of the game. The game is finally coming close enough to the end that we had to install it. Hooray! It was a little bit more of a project - the framing style is "picture frame" which means that the corners are mitered. This makes for a lot more precision work. Notice how closely dad is inspecting the work.

Notice how Matthew is casually observing the old hands do all the work.

And, in case you were wondering why I'm not in any of these pictures, it's because I pooped out and ended up taking a nap on the couch in the gallery while everyone else worked. How's that for being useless?

Again, Matthew and Dad struggle to hold up 2 feet of quarter round while Uncle Ken hammers away.

Voila, again!

And again, Voila!

Once the windows were done, it was on to the doors. Same process, different dimensions, and no sills to worry about. And now that dad and matthew had gained some expertise, it went pretty quickly. Strangely enough, with doors you actually put the frame on first, and then put it into the hole in the wall. That way you don't just knock the door out of the hole while trying to hammer it in. Again, this is the sort of thing that only years of experience (or, at least an hour of experience) will inform - had we done this ourselves, I can see that it would have been a veritable swear-fest.

After proving his worth holding up flimsy little pieces of trim, matthew was allowed to actually use the chopsaw. By the end of the day, he was chopping like a champ.

We also learned that the way I decided the doors should swing was all bass-ackwards. Uncle Ken really didn't dig it. Something about backing up to have to go into the front door or whatever. It was all planned, basically, so that we can get the big TV into the place when the time comes. Out-opening doors it is! Bring on the big TV!

And so, the doors go in.

The door going over to the Florabana side of the upstairs had a few problems. First of all, when the door is open, it's half blocked by what used to be an outside wall of that half of the barn. Opening it up would have meant removing some structural stuff, and we really didn't feel like moving in and having the whole place collapse after a month. But, the door wouldn't close without cutting off the end of one of the roof beams, that slanted out just a little into the door space. We needed to chop it off, and how best to do that than with matthew's new 8-point saw, gifted from Uncle Ken?

We got out the saw, and since it was brand-spankin new, Uncle Ken had to show us how to oil it. Oiling a saw basically involves squirting some oil on it. He said it didn't matter what kind of oil. Matthew suggested olive oil, since it's all we had on hand. Uncle Ken didn't say no, but went down to his van to fetch saw oil. So, we're not really sure whether it matters or not, but we know that olive oil, at the very least, isn't really kosher for saws.

And then matthew sawed away at the offending beam. And sawed and sawed and sawed and sawed. And boy oh boy, did he saw some more. He sawed so fast, his arms started turning to butter, just like the tigers in little black sambo.

So, we figured I should take over, before his arms turned to butter and we ate them on our pancakes for supper. A few powerful strokes, and I showed that beam who was boss.

Thus ended our day of trimming. We still have to put in the rest of the baseboard and the "chair rail" thing that will help cover the jaggedy parts between the exposed wood wall and the drywall beneath it. Then, there is the horror of the bookshelf and storage area that we will fill the gaping hold in the wall with. The small things, see, that become tedious. That's all we have to look forward to before moving in.


Posted by ribbu at 01:24 PM | Comments (1)

...and the Winner is...

Well, there's no better way to see how many people are reading your blog than to run a blog poll. How many people, that is, who aren't too lazy to click through the poll. At any rate, the results are in:
7 people voted for Naptime, and 2 voted for Sugar-Coated.

And I chose Naptime. How could I resist? In fact, after I fix myself an ice cream float and have a couple brownies, I think I'm just about ready for naptime.

The cats have been moved into the Barn since our sublet in Baltimore ran out. They have been very unhappy, and this morning Oscar disappeared. We looked everywhere. We even worried that he had somehow gotten out and was maybe under the barn. After about an hour of shaking the treat can and making kissy noises (he doesn't always know his own name) dad found him squirreled away in a crawl space above the stairs. We couldn't get him out, no matter how many fish-flavored treats we threw his way. And he didn't even eat them, which is what had me worried the most. He's a real fatass, and can't turn down a good treat.

I had to go in to meet with the IT person this morning, so left. Mom and Dad assured me Oscar would be fine and probably come out on his own. When I got back three hours later, mom and dad were both exhausted, on the couch. Oscar apparently looked like he was passing out, so they pushed a container of water in there for him, which he drank enthusiastically before collapsing again in a semi-concious state. They panicked and nearly called the humane society to come get him out with a noose or something, but he ended up coming out after lots of poking. He refuses to eat, but is acting like nothing ever happened.

That's the problem with cats. You can't actually get them to do anything they don't want to do, and then if they do decide to do something, they act like it's all your fault. Stupid cats.

Posted by ribbu at 12:43 PM | Comments (2)

August 20, 2006

Trim is a Four-Letter Word

We started off Saturday morning with great plans. We had purchased some Minwax Red Mahogany to stain the trim. It would be beautiful, and woody, and work well with all the exposed wood we have.

Uncle Ken called around 8:30 and said we could come get the lumber for the trim that we had picked up last week in his van and left at his house. He had trimmed the trim, so it was in more manageable lengths. I had understood that we would go to his house, bring all the stuff back in his van, unload it, and then return the van. Of course, when we got there (20 minutes away) we discovered he actually needed his van, so I had to return to C-town to get our van, empty it out (this involved dragging a couch by myself down the street and into the yard across rumply dumply bricks), and drive back to millington. In that amount of time, Matthew and Uncle Ken had gotten the mitre saw going, and were furiously cutting quarter-rounds to trim out the glass block window. Between the two of them, they managed to cut everything right the first or second time, and in honor of Matthew's prowess, Uncle Ken gifted him an 8-point handsaw. Matthew was touched. We have no pictures, because we really thought all we were going to be doing was driving, and left the camera at home.

Upon returning home and unloading the lumber, Matthew announced he must get to work on a project for work, left me do the staining, and set up shop on the dining room table chez Behrs.

Well, boy were we ever wrong. I stained a small little test strip, like they told me to, and it looked kind of nice. Then I stained a whole board, and it looked horrible. Not at all like the stain charts they gave out in the Minwax aisle. I mean, ick.

I thought perhaps I had done something wrong, and read the directions. It said that soft woods (like pine) needed to be pre-treated so that the stain would take evenly. I was disheartened. I ran home to chez Behrs, and asked matthew what he thought. Should I invest in pre-treatment stuff and try again, or should I return the stain and just paint them, like he had wanted to from the start? It didn't look too bad around the windows, but as a baseboard...


Matthew came and agreed it looked burfy. This would not do. Then the question was, what color to paint the trim? It needed to go with the yellow walls while complementing the dark exposed wood and the amber finished floors. There had been earlier discussion about a dark trim, maybe in the red range, but it would have to be the exact right red and I didn't feel I had the proper authority or time to be picking out a red after my insistence that the stain would look "really nice". After sweating over it for a little while, we both threw up our hands and said, "Let's just paint it white" because, you know, white is the new black. So, off I went to the hardware store to return the unopened cans of stain we had gotten, and to get some white paint. I was feeling totally demoralized.

There are so many gd shades of white that my eyes started getting boggly. But I narrowed it down to "Sugar-coated" "Naptime" and "Bleak" (seriously!) - well, Bleak was a warmer white like we had discussed, but frankly, I couldn't live with the name. If anything bad happened, I would blame it on my buying a paint color named Bleak. Of course, choosing between Sugar-coated and Naptime is nearly impossible for me. For those of you who know me, I'd like to put it to a vote.

**there was a blogpoll here, but it was slowing loading time - see vote results here **

So, after I made the crucial decision between two nearly indistinguishable whites, the kind lady behind the counter mixed them up, and then gave me a FREE paint can opener! This is why small towns stores are way better than the Baltimore Home Depot, where the service person couldn't even rouse herself to move out of the way when we were trying to push a huge cart of insulation into the lane to buy it. She just couldn't be bothered. But I digress.

Now, armed with the proper colors and the proper tools, I finally got down to brass tacks. Or, rather, paint and trim.

And more paint. And more trim. It seemed endless, even though it wasn't really. I made the fatal mistake of setting up on the floor, where I could get to more boards, instead of on some sawhorses, where I could save my knees and back. But, whatever. I can't really complain, since I wasn't insulating for three days in 100+ degree weather.

Matthew came to check on me after wondering what was taking me so long in the dead of the night. Though I insisted that I had just been painting the trim, he was suspicious, and checked behind all the doors for hidden paramours.

Thankfully, I don't have any, because we don't yet have doors for them to hide behind.

When I finally finished, I stacked all the boards between the two ladders. I felt rather ingenious, and pleased at how they lined up so neatly on both of the ladders. I took a picture Sunday morning, I was so delighted.

Until, of course, I realized I would need one of the ladders to remove the masking tape on the ceilings and beams that I was so looking forward to removing. Needless to say, my ingenuity won out, and I didn't remove any tape. The trim boards remain on the ladders, waiting to be nailed into place.

We also brought over a little home decor to spruce things up a bit. I can't remember where we got this, but I do remember it cost $8.

And doesn't it fit in perfectly? Now we just need to find some plants to inhabit the hooks. At the moment, they're having too much fun hanging out in the backyard chez Behr, with the sprinkler. He's such a Casanova.

Posted by ribbu at 10:04 PM | Comments (4)

Yet More Insulating

Much of the glamorous work has passed. We are truly down to what they call the nitty gritty. This weekend's project works well within this frame, for there was a great deal of grit in store for me as I climbed into the rafters on the warehouse side of the barn with my mind bent on sealing the great sieve of a wall that separates the barn's two halves. Many of the original barn's original exterior boards were left in place when the new section ((our new home) was tacked on who knows how many decades ago. The boards are beautiful and ancient and lend a pleasing texture to our studio, but there are gaps aplenty, many of which are wide enough to acommodate a finger or great gusts of hot or cold air, depending on the season. Because of the gaps, we thought it best not to place lung-rending slabs of fiberglass insulation up against the wall. To our cart at Home Depot we added a roll of tar paper, and so history repeated itself as we returned to the very beginning of this enterprise.

Alas, we have no photos of the monkeylike agility I displayed in reaching my perch, yet here I am, armed and dangerous, already well into my daylong sojurn with the aforementioned grit. Notice the cool and studied nonchalance with which I grip the PowerShot. Revel in the air of breezy indifference with which I behold my challenge.

The work continued apace. Robbi cleared a section of the warehouse floor and set up a staging area in which to cut the sheets of tar paper and insulation according to my measurements. We had only one tape measure between us, so progress was halting, and somewhere in the translation between my intitial measurement, handing the tape to Robbi, idle chitchat, and Robbi's ensuing measurement, some of the numbers went awry. The end result was somewhat lacking, but I have chosen not to feature photos of the rough edges here.

My reputation as a crack insulator now established, I must work to keep the rare examples of shoddy workmanship beyond the reach of Bob's razor eye.

At one point Robbi said something downright fascinating and captured my amazement in this shot. But for the life of me now, I cannot remember what it was.

It might have had something to do with the impressive figure I cut when bending over in oversized workman's pants.

Near the end of my work, I discovered a long-forgotten message high in the rafters, this mysterious "W," the meaning of which we have not been able to discern. Is it the initial of some long ago builder? A rune from which we are to derive some guiding significance? A code we are to break as we forge our new lives in the barn? Or perhaps a sign from our alien friends?

Lest you are disheartened by the abundance of gritty and nitty boards, we offer this gimpse into our side of the barn. See those floors shine.

The cracks filled, the great wall insulated, we are free to move on to the finishing work. There are doors to be hung, windows to be framed, and a glass block window to be put in place. The countdown has begun in earnest. Nine more days of work for me. Robbi begins teaching her class a week from Wednesday. Ready or not, here we come.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:00 PM

August 07, 2006


Bob and Robbi rose early on Saturday morning, energized by the day's task. I vaguely heard Robbi stirring as she got dressed, but I slumbered on as they drove to True Value and rented a belt sander and edger. I contined to sleep as they carefully selected stain (natural) and polyeurethane (water-based Minwax) and slept sweetly and well as they carried the enormously heavy sander up the stairs and assembled it. Eventually I woke, the rising guilt of my non-participation finally reaching the tipping point. I dressed, had a cup of coffee, and made my way to the barn, only to find Bob already in the throes of industry.

Getting Started

Remember, please, what our floors looked like before. Go back to the previous entry if you must. While I knew that sanding the floors would likely make them somewhat smoother, I was not prepared for the rich tones that were exposed when Bob unleashed the 24 grit belt against the old boards.

"I think it smells like pine," Robbi told me. Rememer this fact. Later you might be impressed.

As we continued, Robbi remarked that our work reminded her of the somewhat famous painting, featured below, that shows how people used to do this sort of thing before the dawn of the belt sander. I was awfully glad that we were not forced to plane the floors by hand.

We had gotten a host of advice about finishing floors from people with strong opinions. On one hand, we were warned not to use a belt sander because, when operated improperly, belt sanders can quickly dig a hole in one's floor. We were encouraged instead to use an orbital sander, a benign, inoffensive sort of sander than can only chafe and irritate, but not maim a floor, no matter how ill-used. Thinking back, the person who warned Robbi and me off of belt sanders was probably wise to do so. But with Bob and his decades of sagacity at our disposal, we were emboldened to try. Our decision to use the belt sander was aided by the fact that the guys at Home Depot estimated that it would take approximately 3 months to finish our floors using an orbital sander. They basically suggested that if we used an orbital sander we were hopeless wussies that should just give up and don a "kick me" sign.

We divided the responsiblities. While Bob ran the belt sander, Robbi used the heavy-duty edger to sand the wood along the walls, and I used a small hand-held disk sander to burnish off stains in the hollow centers of the boards that had not come off during Bob's first pass.

Here Robbi uses the edger in the bedroom.

Our floors were so old, rough, and dirty and so hopelessly covered in paint, sheetrock mud, and thirty years of dust that the belt sander kept clogging, at which point the vacuum stopped working. At first we thought that the machine was broken and even went so far as to take it back to True Value with protest on our lips. Of course, when the polite, yet incredulous True Value tool rental guy plugged it in at True Value, it worked like a charm. Nevertheless, and with our tails between our legs, we swapped our "broken" sander for the other and returned to the barn. A few minutes later the vacuum stopped working again, but this time Bob investigated.

Figuring out that the thing was clogged, he set about trying to rectify the situation. But no amount of prodding and poking seemed to be doing the trick.

I leaned in to take a look...and was reminded of my CPR classes in high school.

The thing wasn't breathing and clearly needed mouth-to-mouth recusitation.

Amazingly, my technique, though much questioned (even mocked) by those present, was a success.

Are you amazed? Do you want to watch a movie about the small miracle of the belt sander?

The downside of the small miracle was a mouth full of dust, something other prophets, shamans, and generally awesome guys before me have also had to contend with.

To cleanse the dusty palates, we got some Subway but ran into no Luna Moths. I took this photo, explaining to all present the importance to the careful blogger of thorough documentation. An entry would only be successful if the day's essential moments were chronicled with care. I was promptly mocked and the notion that lunch constitued an "essential moment" soundly challenged. Try as I might, through plea and example, I cannot convince others to value food and opportunities to eat it quite as highly as do I.


After lunch, Robbi was given a chance to brave the belt sander. She sanded and sanded well and did not drill a hole in the floor.

So pleased was she that she struck a mighty pose . . . forgetting the sander . . . which kept on whirring . . . and drilled a deep hole in the floor.

Ok. That didn't happen, and overall, I'm glad that it didn't happen, but it would have been great in some ways if Robbi had dug a hole in the floor because then, perhaps, when people in another room heard a crash or a clang coming from a room that Robbi and I were both known to be in, they might think "Robbi?" instead of thinking "Matthew?" as they do now and likely always will.

After Robbi had her turn with the belt sander, I took it for a spin. It is worth noting, in full disclosure, that by the time I got my turn, we had progressed two degrees in terms of the fineness of the sand paper. We started at 24 (very gritty), moved on to 60 (still pretty darn gritty), and were now using 80 (not really what you'd call gritty). You can still dig a hole in the floor with 80, but you'd have to be a genuine moron, not just careless, but determined to do harm. Which didn't put me entirely out of the running as a calculated risk, mind you.

A brief interlude from my banter; a lovely image taken by Robbi.

And back to reality; this is a photo of the silty black muck we painstakingly removed from between the floorboards through endless scrabing with the finest allen wrench in the set. The grit was tightly packed between every board. We could have left it in place. It wan't hurting anybody. Why did we dig it out, with great effort and even some pain? Because we could. Because we were on a mission. Because the floors were getting clean and those cracks full of muck offended us.

I'm skipping a lot here, by necessity and out of respect for your time and patience. The sanding went on and on. And on. I mentioned we started (Bob and Robbi, anyway) at 7:00am. By 11:30 pm we were still at it with hours of work still to go. We couldn't stop because once the top layer is removed from wood it becomes vulnerable to damage until sealed. In August humidity, the wood, sealed for years, is very "thirsty" and takes in moisture. This is very bad for the wood for reasons I don't fully understand. The long and the short is, it is important to seal the wood (with stain) as soon as possible after the sanding concludes.

With that in mind, I proclaimed exhaustion and went to bed. Though I am a generally energetic guy most of the time, when I run out of steam, I run out of steam wholly, like the dead run out of life. I become a limp, worthless, diffident, cranky person no one wants to be with (let alone sand, scrape, and stain with). My guilt held in check by the aforementioned lack of mojo, I went to bed, slept like the dead, and woke at 5:00am when Robbi rolled weakly into bed, barely alive. She and Bob had worked for 22 hours straight.

The next morning I woke at 7:30, hoping to redeem myself by going to True Value by myself to return the sanders and unused belts. But Robbi and Bob rose with me, both looking more sprightly than I felt, and the three of us made the trek together.

They had completed all of the sanding and most of the sealing, having run out of sealant with a few square feet to go. We bought a quart, went back to the barn, and I brushed it on while Robbi leaned weakly against the wall.

I turned to survey the work of the night before.

We were pleased.

Work (work work, not barn work) has been crazy and I had not done a lick on Saturday, and so I headed back home to spend Sunday afternoon on various projects. I drove across the bridge, stopped at Han ah Reum for two half-gallon jars of cubed radish kimchee (which I'm banned from eating when Robbi is around), and came back home.

The cats were not pleased about my having been gone. Even my description of the lovely floors they would soon tread upon did not bring smiles to their faces.

As for Robbi's keen sniffer, here's the story: Uncle Ken stopped by Saturday afternoon to check our progress. Seeing the exposed wood, he praised our efforts and proclaimed the wood pine. Either Eastern Pine, that achieves the deep yellowed tones evidenced by our floors after years of aging, or Georgia Pine that starts out that color and retains it.

Not much left to do. Next weekend it's back to the insulation game. I need to insulate the wall between our half of the barn and the Florabana warehouse. Ken is going to place the glassblock window, hang the doors, and start making trim for the windows and doors.

More to come.

Posted by bogenamp at 06:39 PM | Comments (1)

The Big Reveal

And then, Bob and Seiko returned.
The last they heard, matthew had finished insulating, and we were trying to get wallboard but were unsuccessful. We told them that it was impossible to get ahold of the wallboard guys, but that hopefully we would have the wallboard in time for us to get started wallboarding ourselves upon dad's return. They had no idea that we decided it would be well worth it to shell out the cash to have someone who knew what the heck they were doing (and could walk on stilts, even!) do the work. You see, we were being sneaky.

There was all kinds of logistical hoo-hah on how we would get matthew home for when we showed the more-than-just-insulated space to mom and dad. He has been so busy at work that he's had to work at home every night, and didn't think he was going to be able to make it on a Tuesday evening. But, he just couldn't stand to miss it and drove over just for The Big Reveal. I was taking the movie with my camera and Sarah got pix on hers. But, we have to wait for those until she sends us copies. Sorry. But they're worth seeing. Seiko can put on a good "Holy Shit!" face when she needs to.

And then matthew had to turn around and go back to Baltimore. But, he says the trip was well worth it. It's not often that Bob is impressed. And even less so, Seiko. All around, we felt that it really pays to be sneaky.

The next big project is going to be the floors, so there were certain things that needed to be done before that happened. First, we had to put the second coat of paint on. There has been lots of debate as to when certain things happen at what stage and why, but ultimately, we took the electrician Calvin's advice, with the caveat that if we didn't get it done, well, we could then follow someone else's advice.

After dad was home for less than a day, I had him doing the crappy trim stuff that I usually get stuck doing, and took over the gratifying roller work. Sometimes it's nice to have a beat-down and world-weary dad who is tired of arguing with his uppity kids.

Once again, I underestimated how long this would take. It seems like slopping a second coat on should take no time at all, but it took nearly all day. But wow, when it was done, it was a major improvement.

Dad did a remarkable job painting the edges. Sometimes slow and steady really does win the race. And if there's anything that dad is, it's slow. And if there's another thing that dad is, it's steady. Actually, he's not really steady. Just slow. But a darn good edge painter. Thank you, dad - doesn't it look mighty fine? (and, btw, ceilings are "magnolia white" to our "provence cream" walls - apparently, we're all about the south, on either side of the Pond.)

Next we had to make sure that the floor was ready for sanding. That means no nails or staples sticking up out of it, gluing down splinters and cleaning cleaning cleaning to make sure nothing awful goes under the sander. While I was painting the ceiling, I had set the foot of the ladder on a board in the trap door that evidently had no support beneath it, and it cracked and sort of caved in. Luckily, the trap door was not nailed shut, as we had previously thought, it was just really heavy. Between the two of us, we were able to open it and see if we could remedy the damage. A few screws and a piece of scrap board we found who knows where did the trick. It turns out that the trap door doesn't actually go anywhere, and has been insulated in from below, but in the event that we decide to put a fire pole in someday we didn't nail it shut. Plus, that would mean all that many more nails to countersink to spare the sandpaper. Matthew insisted via cell phone that I take a picture of the open trap door, since he might never again see it that way (until we install the fire pole, of course).

In the meantime, Iggy was throwing back the vodka and tonics,
and needed a pretty big burf pail by the time we were done.

Posted by ribbu at 06:04 PM | Comments (2)

That's one hot beach!

While all of this was going on, our cousin Sarah from Kansas came to visit for a week. Now, like I said, Sarah is from Kansas. But Sarah is really from Kansas. She experienced many major firsts while she was with us: first large body of water (Chesapeake Bay, Maryland), first moving walkway (BWI Airport, Baltimore), first seafood (blue crab, Rock Hall), first saltwater swim (Betterton Beach, Maryland) (which was actually a brackishwater swim, but whatever), first IMAX movie (Natural History Museum, DC) and first revolving door (Hard Rock Cafe, Baltimore). That's all aside from her firsts of being in Maryland, Virginia and our nation's great capital (great nation's capital?). It is easy to thoroughly enjoy someone's visit when that someone is so excited about everything that you see and do. There's nothing worse than trying to entertain someone who is so jaded that everything you do with them is totally boring, which is not unlikely when you're hanging out with me and matthew. (What I'm saying is, we loved having Sarah come visit.)

Our trip to Betterton Beach, which is just a 20-minute drive from Chestertown, was surprising even for jaded old me. (Ha.) I hadn't been to Betterton since I was about 5, when the beach was all dumpy and scummy and gross, and the water was scary because I couldn't swim and the water wasn't very clear and was probably full of huge underwater snakes and bugs and slimy biting things, and, of course, Chessie. Well, we were delighted to find that the beach had been cleaned up (no signs of Chessie, either) and was really very pleasant. We picnicked under the trees, and then made our way out on the sand.

I wore matthew's flip-flops because Iggy ate mine, and he was barefoot. Mere seconds into our jaunt down towards the water, matthew suffered an agonizing case of hot feet. After hopping from foot to foot, he discovered the best way to make his way across the beach was to sprint until he couldn't stand it, then to sit down until he couldn't stand it, and then to sprint again, and so on. It wasn't even that wide of a beach, but he had to make several pit stops.

We also took a kayaking adventure out of Rock Hall on Saturday morning. We rented kayaks from a the Swan Haven B&B which is a very nice place with a very nice owner. We only just poked out into the bay before returning to the safety of the river, but saw lots of sailboats and marsh grass on the way. It was so unbelievably hot (and we were so unbelievably not fit to be paddling kayaks) that we only lasted 2 hours, instead of the half day that we had originally signed up for. In spite of our lack of skillz, yo, we had a good time. Except for matthew, who was, apparently, bored.

On our way back from Rock Hall we picked up some crabs so Sarah could give them a whirl. In spite of being terrified of them when they were alive and somewhat disgusted with them dead, she managed to pick apart and eat two of them without getting injured or vomiting. It was cause to call home and celebrate a little with Uncle Mark and Aunt Donna.

Monday we did a jaunt over to DC and saw all of the sights/sites. We took one of those trolley tours where you can get on and off wherever you want for a not-so-low-one-time-price, but thank god for that, because otherwise we would have both died of heatstroke. I actually learned a lot on the tour, and even though I've forgotten it all by now, I was very interested at the time.

And, over the weekend, while Sarah sat all forlorn on a folding chair in the middle of the floor, playing cards on a cardboard box, we finished painting the entire first coat, and vacuumed and cleaned to prepare for the return of bob and seiko.

Wowza! She looks nice, eh?

Posted by ribbu at 05:58 PM

Glass Blocks are the Windows to [Y]our Bedroom

So, we were supposed to frame out the glass block window before the insulation and wallboard were put up, but, unfortunately, Matthew is too darn efficient, and everything was done before Michael and Uncle Ken could get to it. They insisted that framing it out post-wallboarding was not that big of a deal, though I think by the end of it all, they wished they had done it back when there were just two-by-fours to cut through.

So, step one involved finding where the hole was supposed to be. The bedroom walls hadn't been painted yet, so it was easier to figure out where the studs were from that side.

Hm, that's funny. Even though the level says we're level, it looks way crooked. Ah. Because the ceiling slopes. Funny how that works. Luckily, we left it in the hands of two pros. If it had been me and matthew - well, who ever uses a level, anyway? That's so, like, antiquated.

After hemming and hawing through the wallboard with this amazing little gizmo called a wallboard saw (doesn't look like it's much good for anything, does it?), the hole was made. Popping it out looked like way lots of fun, but I wasn't asked to join in. Sigh. I guess I don't look like the destroying type.

Then the studs had to be sawed out. I wasn't asked to do that either, even though I've been told that I really knock the studs out (if you know what I mean). Incidentally, Michael discovered that a section of the wall had been neglected in the insulation process. Matthew insists that the wallboard guys must have removed the insulation, because he definitely, definitely insulated the whole room. I am torn. Do I trust Matthew, or do I trust a guy named Timmy, who was walking around on stilts when I met him? Frankly, my bets are with Timmy. You can trust a guy on stilts. I mean, because they sure can't outrun you.

Once the studs were out the frame for the window just had to be fitted in the hole. It took a little whacking and squeezing, but it was a nice snug fit. Uncle Ken did and excellent job with the frame, putting the corners together in a rebate joint (I just learned that, thank you google!). Again, if matthew and I had done it, well - who uses a saw, anyway? That's so, like, medieval! Haven't you ever heard of superglue?

So, now we have to wait for sills and frames before we put the glass blocks in. They are so frickin heavy that we wouldn't want them falling out on, say, matthew's toe.

Posted by ribbu at 05:48 PM

Painting Phase II

I decided I must seriously dedicate myself to the task of painting before mom and dad returned. Having a more finished look than just wallboard, I figured, would make all the difference. With a newfound zeal and an 8-foot ladder, I applied myself to applying paint.

First, the undercoat. I believe it is called PVA primer & sealer. The guy at Home Depot had made a special point of telling us to just "slop it on" and not to worry about how bad it looks. But damn, it looked bad. Really, really bad. I spent a good long time ignoring what the guy at Home Depot had said, and painted and repainted the section I was working on, which happened to be the ceiling. If you don't know this already, painting the ceiling sucks. And painting it again and again while ignoring what the guy at Home Depot had said really sucks, especially when you get a call later on telling you to stop being anal and just do what the guy at Home Depot had said. Thanks, Matthew. And thanks for seconding him, Jose.

Aside from that, though, do you have any idea how hard it is to take a picture of yourself painting the ceiling from atop an 8-foot ladder? Now you do: whicked hard. I consider myself a pro, so don't try this at home.

Of course, as is always the case, as soon as I got done doing all the really tedious work, like putting on this horrible-looking primer, Matthew rolls into town and gets to do the fun stuff. Or, the stuff that makes it look like he's getting way more accomplished than I am. We picked a soft yellow called "Provence Cream" that I think we also used in our kitchen in B-more. It sure looked yellow coming out of the bucket and going onto the primer. But we had noticed last time that once all of the walls were the same color, it stopped looking quite so yellow. So, we're keeping our fingers crossed. But it sure does look tasty. I could drink it right up, like french vanilla ice cream.

While we were painting, a butterfly came in and fluttered around. I was delighted because it almost perfectly matched our buttery walls (not in the photo so much, but in real life a lot more) (for you color-matching fiends out there). Matthew was too furiously painting to appreciate the coincidence.

As I mentioned before, I usually get to do the slow tedious stuff. This is the sort of slow tedious stuff I'm talking about:

... painting carefully along the edges and making sure none spills on the beams etc. It turns out that even though I'm pretty anal about art/design projects and the like, I really stink at painting. I spilled a lot, and generally did a not-very-bang-up job (unless, is a bang-up job a bad thing...?). Anyway, all this concentrating on not spilling the paint, not putting too much paint on, painting inside the lines, not dropping my paintbrush on the dirty floor, not falling off the ladder was very exhausting. When it was all over, I was pretty darn tired.

Iggy also found the process extremely dull.

And that was just the first coat. But, it doesn't look too bad, now, does it?

Posted by ribbu at 05:34 PM