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September 28, 2006


Okay - so I'm going to be getting rid of the very last scraps of ties in the very near future (knock on wood) - ShopSCAD is planning on buying me out, so I thought I'd give everyone one last chance to get them at the discounted-straight-from-the-robbler-last-minute-sale-price of $25/tie. There are matching boxers that have the discounted-straight-from-the-robbler-last-minute-sale-price of $10/pair. They are 100% silk, and very fine, if I do say so myself.
Have a look-see, and if you would like one, or two, or many, drop me an email and I'll send you what you want. Shipping will be via Priority Mail, and will be added on to the price.
This sale won't last long, as ShopSCAD is asking for inventory counts - so hop to it!

Just realized I posted this to thebarnstorming instead of idiotsbox. Oh well. You'll just have to read it twice. So solly!

Posted by ribbu at 06:36 PM

September 23, 2006

Sunday, September 3

Sunday came and a trip to Dover was in order. We needed a sheet of masonite to cover the Prodex and some plywood to build the "box" that would form the storage compartment for which Robbi and Matt had been been building doors. The barn has no closets and we recognized in the gaping hole an opportunity to create at least a small amount of storage space for ourselves. I hopped into the van and set out for Home Depot (site of the day of NASCAR sadness) while Robbi returned to the task of building the other bookcase door.

Meanwhile, our cats had spent yet another restless night in their new space, still devoid of anything familiar other than their trusty cat-tower. See how they look with dread upon the floor as if it were made of molten lava? They were unwilling to budge from this spot, clinging to the lone shred of comfort in a cold, hard world.

I have no photos of the Home Depot adventure, but it was trying and took longer than it should have. Upon arrival, I was confronted by a vast display of discount appliances. I immediately discovered a fridge of the perfect size for our small space, on sale to boot, and called Robbi on the cell phone to consult. I borrowed a tape measure from the tape measure aisle and we talked dimensions. Robbi paced out the measurements and we agreed that we had found our fridge. Great news! Except for the fact that this particular model was stored on the highest of the high shelves and all of the forklift operators were eating lunch or smoking or lounging or some such thing. I was left to be consoled by a friendly young woman who complained bitterly that she was not allowed to operate the forklift. She gave me a litany of reasons why, in spite of being unlicensed, she was perfectly qualified. Eventually an operator appeared, the fridge was lowered to the floor, and I set off for home with all that I had come for and more.

Meanwhile, back at the Barn, Robbi had been the picture of industry. I arrived home in time to snap this picture of Robbi on the ladder admiring her work. Who knows how long she had been standing up there, basking in the wonder of accomplishment.

I was so moved that I had to inspect her work up close. The place that I am standing in this photo was soon to be occupied by the "box" I referred to earlier.

Our challenge was now to build the "box." We started with the bottom platform, using 3/4 inch plywood since this piece would have to bear the weight of whatever we stored there. For the top, sides, and back, we used 3/8 plywood, which is much lighter and easier to work with. We needed all the help we could get from the materials, becauase working within the tiny interior of the box was challenge enough. Here I am, risking all modesty, propriety, and the prospect of ever being found attractive again in my attempt to nail in the ceiling. (If you were Robbi, might you have resisted the temptation to take this photo? I'm thwarting her attempt to use it for blackmail down the line by proudly posting it myself.)

Here Robbi installs one of the side pieces.

It was tough, but eventually it all came together.

Apparently, we both liked getting in the box and being photographed.

After the box was built, Robbi turned to the task of building the actual shelves.

There was still plenty of old wood left, so she looked for boards that matched the original beams that make up the central bracing.

When the shelves were all cut and installed she felt positively mighty.

While Robbi did her work with the shelves, Bob and I installed the chair rail we had purchased to separate the "board" and "drywall" sections of the wall. Thanks to Bob's meticulous attention to detail, this mitred joint matched up quite nicely.

The old boards were extremely uneven. In places they proruded beyond the sheetrock; in other places they came up short. The chair rail was meant to divert attention from this imperfection. It worked far better than we anticipated and effected a surprising transformation to the overall appearance of the space. Bob's reaction was gratifyiing. "I had no idea it would look so 'finished,'" he said. Or something like that. At each step Bob has been surprised, and definitely pleased, at how well things have turned out. He has known the barn in a very different state for more than thirty years. It still must take his breath away to walk up the stairs and see the transformation.

Drumroll...the chair rail:

And, for good measure, a shot of Robbi's completed bookshelf/cabinet combo. Remember that, had we succumbed to my despair, you would now be looking a a boarded up wall. Thank god I am not in charge.

At this point we were done building, but the place was a mess, and a good deal of touch-up spackling and painting needed to be done. (Had Westbrook not abandoned his post Saturday, we would have been MUCH further along on the spackling front). But I digress. It was time for bed and so we went.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:51 AM | Comments (1)

Saturday, September 2

We got an early start Saturday morning (September 2). Our good friend and former colleague Matt Westbrook was kind enough to agree to help in our enterprise. He was set to arrive around 10 am, and we wanted to be in the throes of industry when he walked up the stairs.

Robbi was hell-bent on finishing her bookshelves but I, cowed by my recent defeat at the hands of the unyielding beam, was somewhat gunshy. As Robbi took out her tape measure and set herself to the challenge of constructing hinged doors to cover the still significant gap above her lovely bookshelves, I turned my attention to the task of taming the sliding door on the front side of the barn.

Robbi's challenge:

And mine:

Above you see that the sliding door was installed by Bob, thoughful chap, some years ago, to fill the space once used for loading hay into the barn. Faithful bloggers will remember the day months ago when Michael Van Sant and I set up the scaffolding and nailed one half of the original exterior door firmly to the outside of the barn. This allows a wall of light to shine through one half of the sliding door. The other half, though very authentic and "barn"-looking, was a sieve that would have rendered my tireless insulating of the Fourth of July weekend utterly moot when the chill winds of January descended.

And so, in progress, observe my work to insulate and seal the non-window half of the door against the ravages of winter. The white stuff is another kind of insulation that Bob just happened to have in spades, tucked into the rafters on the other side of the barn. It is basically styrofoam coated with a thin sheet of plastic on both sides to help it hold together when cut with a utility knife. I measured, cut, and fit the stuff iinto the many triangular sections created by the door's cross-bracing. It was gratifying and good to be back in the insulation game. You can see the pride teaming through me. It's rather unseemly, in retrospect.

There was much more work to do on the door, as will be evidenced later in the entry. But we must pause for the arrival of Matt, who brought us a splendid houswarming gift that we were not thoughtful enough to photograph. Matt has made regular sport of beating the pants off of me in darts; either exasperated by my failure to improve or else desirous of proving that lack of practice has little to do with my failure to perform, Matt gifted us a very fine set of weighted darts and a sizeable piece of protective material to plalce behind our dartboard when hung on the wall (another not-so-subtle barb about my dart skill or lack therof).

In gratitude to Matt for driving across the bridge and agreeing to spend a day of his holiday weekend working in a dirty barn, we gave him the sexy job of spackling over sunken nail heads. You can see in this photo the line shine in his eyes as he revels in the sheer joy of it.

I wanted nothing but to spackle in his place, but I am the thoughful, selfless type, as many of you already know.

At one point I heard Matt muttering "Tom Sawyer..." under his breath, but I honestly have no idea what he was talking about.

Robbi continued working on her bookshelf doors and I returned to insulating the door. Once the styrofoam insulation was in place, I covered the entire door with a layer of tar paper and stapled it in place.

I was tempted to rest at tar paper, but remembering that Prodex remained, I pulled out the roll and relived the good old days by tacking up a layer of the space-aged wonder. Then I spent about 45 minutes reveling in how shiny it looked, how airtight it felt.

Disgusted by my hubris and just as happy to be free of my recklessly injury-prone self, Robbi selfishly requested that Matt set his spackling aside and join her in the bookshelf project. I was surprised by the alacrity with which Matt jumped to the challenge. For a second, I wondered if spackling was not, indeed, his one true calling. But just for a second.

Like two peas in the proverbial pod, Robbi and Matt launched into the sharp efficiency of synchronized bookcase making. Look at the flawless symmetry of their approach; marvel at the wholesome cooperation of their synergy. It was enough to make me sick. Neither of them spoke a word of impatience or disagreement. I began to worry about my marriage.

See??? It's like they were made to work together.

With Matt and Robbi busily at work on the bookshelf, there was no one left to admire my insulation. I appealed to Iggy, but she was asleep. The cats were terrified, abject, already cultivating the insideous intenstinal condition that you may have read about a few entries ago. Abandoned even by my loyal animals, I appealed to Bob, who seemed uninterested in Prodex but most interested in identifyinig boards that we might tack up to build a proper frame for the sliding door.

At one point earlier in the day, while Matt was spackling and I was cutting insulation, Robbi and Bob had a conversation of approximately two hours about how best to frame the door. The options were many and at odds; opinions were heated and futility was celebrated. Eventually I walked over and suggested that we just frame the sucker with old boards cast off from decades-old shelving we had removed from corners of the barn. By most standards the boards were unacceptable; they were scarred and damaged, stained and cracked. But they looked just fine in the context of the barn and we set out to give it a try.

There was a great deal of nailing involved. Bob is the master of nailing. I am the master of smashing my thumb, bending nails, and bruising wood. That is why I am the one with the camera...

...and he is the one with the hammer. Is it just me, or does Bob look like a deranged serial killer in this photo. Look how he walks with a slight hunch, hammer slung low. More importantly, look at the frame around the door. Not bad, huh? Matt and Robbi aren't the ONLY ones who can get stuff done.

To check back in on their progress:

With careful measuring, cutting, and a seemingly endless ocean of patience, Robbi and Matt created doors with a very barnlike "Z" cross-bracing. Robbi found some old hinges that must have been used for some long-ago door in the barn (thank God Bob saves everything) and, with the winsome precision of a veteran proofreader, Matt helped place the door such that it actually opened and closed.

In spite of her hyperbolic posture, Robbi's sense of satisfaction was wholly justified. I was fully expecting to have to comfort a despondent Robbi upon the utter failure of the door-making and hanging venture, but the doors worked so well, I had no option but to shower her and Matt with the praise they had certainly earned.

At this point it was almost midnight, and Matt still had to drive back across the bridge. We adjourned, tremendously satisfied with the progress of the day.

There were no major injuries, and only one more door to hang. We bid farewell to Matt and went to bed, wondering if it was possible that we might meet our goal of moving in by Monday night.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:50 AM | Comments (1)

Friday, September 1

We are shamefully behind in documenting our storming of the barn. Much has transpired. There is much to share. And yet we have been keeping the progress to ourselves. Why have we suddenly grown so greedy? Perhaps because, now that we have landed, we are less motivated to spend our time blogging as a means of dreaming of arrival. This complex theory was advanced by our friend Christian who was in total barnstorming withdrawal after we had failed to post in nearly three weeks. He is a clever guy, and so I am compelled to think him right.

Knowing now that our recent blogging indifference is born of self-satisfaction, I must firmly discipline myself to complete the story for the sake of our abandoned readers. Please forgive us this thoughtless breach of protocol.

Without further ado, let me take you back a bit. About three weeks back.

At 5:36pm on Thursday, August 31, 2006 I officially retired from my account manager position at NCSDO. I got in my car, drove across the bridge, and enjoyed a delicious celebratory meal prepared by Seiko. I went to bed with visions of my new life: long stretches of uninterrupted time for contemplation of life's great mysteries, restful sleep uninterrupted by thoughts of contracts and deadlines, hours in bed each morning for musing over the great literature of our time. I dreamed of rest, peace, tranquility of mind and spirit.

At 7:00 my bliss was shattered by Robbi's unkind voice.

"Hey Bozo! Wake up. It's time to work on the barn."

And so I returned to reality, to my perch in the rafters.

Now that the doors and windows were hung and framed, the time had come to tackle the unpleasant challenge of thoughfully filling the hole in the wall.

Harassed and fatigued from six months of construction (and desperately ready to begin my retirement, remember), I came up with the brilliant idea that we merely nail boards over said hole, saving ourselves the headache and trouble of having to engage in complex feats of construction surely far beyond our powers to summon.

Yet Robbi would have nothing to do with this scheme. "We're building a bookcase," she reminded me. "If you're not going to help, then I'm going to do it myself." She might have said "dammit" for emphasis, but she didn't, being a generally couth young woman.

She took out her tape measure and got serious. I fell humbly into line.

After meticulous measurement, Robbi created the following sketch. Take a close look and you will see the dizzying complexity of this project. The notches represent spaces that must be left for vertical boards around which this board, the bookshelf base, must be carefully fit. You will instantly identify with my preference for simplicity. You will suddenly agree that it is I who might rightfully have said "dammit."

Once the measurements were taken, Robbi, undaunted, proceded to cut the board that would be the base and bottom shelf.

Bob and I were up to something while Robbi worked. I can't now remember what it was (I'm fighting against three weeks of haze now, remember). Perhaps I was framing out the bedroom side of the cat door. Perhaps I was counter-sinking nail heads and spackling over them. Perhaps I was painting trim, moving paint cans, standing in mute wonder as my wife completed feats of construction prowess far beyond my power to imagine.

It took some doing and more than a few trips back to the chop saw for refinements, but "dammit" if Robbi didn't succeed in getting that board to fit.

Once the board was in, we took a photo revealing such heights of self-satisfaciton on the part of Ms. Robbi that I cannot bear to show it here. It would set your screens afire. It would blind you like the stuff that melted the faces of the bad guys at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

One-by-one, we added the boards that would form the back of the bookshelf, thus sealing off the warehouse from our living space.

(This part is really exciting, so I'll include every photo we took. If you look at them really quickly, it's sort of like watching a movie, a really exciting one.)

First board







Scrolling through our progress right now, you might get the sense that it only took us a few minutes to nail up these boards. You would be mistaken. Horribly so. The boards, which just happen to match the rest of the wall into which we were building the bookshelf, had to be carefully measured, cut, and placed. With finesse, care, and even aplomb.

Maybe not aplomb, perhaps, but definitelly finesse and care.

And if you know me well, or even a little, you will know that as much as I care, I lack finesse. And so, in the course of hoisting myself into the rafters, I rammed the top of my head with the force of a well-swung hammer into a thick, unyielding beam that did not yield. I saw the light of eternity, nearly fell down the ladder, and made some horrible sounds that caused no end of alarm on Robbi's part. The resulting headache was profound, the resulting hole in my head not insignificant, and the pain in my neck long-lasting (to this day, to tell the truth, though it has gotten better in the last few days).

See below said hole.

The incident brought an end to Friday, September 1, 2006.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:48 AM

September 21, 2006

You May Have Noticed...

... that we are weeks behind. Suffice it to say, there are many photos waiting in the wings, and we just have to find the time to write about them. Some bloggers we are...

In the meantime, I can entertain you with some good cat fun. You see, the cats have been battling bravely with a bout of Montezuma's revenge. If you don't know this already, these are the hairiest cats alive, and they just can't manage to have the runs without sopping up some of it with their butt-fur. This, you see, is gross. So, we've had to bathe them a number of times, and if they hate anything, it's getting wet. And if they hate anything else, it's getting clean.

As evidence:

Notice how under all that fur, Lily is actually a slender cat. Notice how under all that fur, Oscar has a double beer gut. With all the poopin, though, he's lost about 3 pounds. He could be a poster boy for TrimSpa.

This is the best, though: you must see the fun we had.

Posted by ribbu at 09:18 AM