Friday, August 30, 2013

Bringing Down The House

 Do you know what this is?  I do.  It's a handy little tool for unzipping the vinyl siding from your house.  It works really well, super easy.  Pray you never have to use one.  Because there are only two reasons for removing the vinyl siding from your house.  Either you don't like the color (in which case you can probably afford to hire someone else to change it), or something has gone horribly, horribly wrong behind your siding.
 Yup....horribly wrong.  It all started with the chimney, but we all know what happens when you get into what seems like a straightforward project.  Right behind that section where the drywall is exposed is my computer desk.  In recent years, when the house is quiet in the morning, I could hear chewing noises.  I kid you not.  I thought I was losing my mind at first, but it turns out the chewing was real.  What I was losing was my house!!  Not even termites, just ants.  Although what's the difference in the long run, I couldn't say.  The house is just as destroyed. Preston assures me that since this is a gable end it doesn't support a whole lot of weight, and he would know, but I still have the nagging suspicion that the siding and cheap T-111 that was under it were the only things holding my roof up. 

This is the part where the chewing was coming from.

So now I'm torn between showing up at work in order to make money to pay for all this repair, and staying home to help repair it!!  I feel so guilty going off and leaving Preston to deal with it alone, but then if I close the shop to stay home and help him, I don't get any work done and no money comes in.

So if my hours are a little erratic this week and next, that's why.  If I could only clone myself.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Today, We Pour.

Booze?  No, even more fun.  Cement. It seems our chimney has (had) a huge crack in it, and Preston determined that it was not going to make it through one more winter; a fact that was proven when he got on the roof and was able to almost push it over with his bare hands.  I have a video of that, but for some reason it won't upload.  Anyway, we hooked it up to the truck and with very little force, down it went with an anticlimactic "plop".  I was hoping it was going to make a big crash and shatter into a million pieces, but none of that happened.  So this is what the back of our house looks like, minus that big wart of cement you see here.  The reason the bottom half of it is black is from all the creosote that leaked out, hence the need for a new chimney.  So last night he built a form, and today we will pour a footing. A fun way to spend my Sunday, I like playing in the cement.
I found this table in a yard sale and it just begged to be rescued.  It's a good thing there are no yard sales in winter, or I'd never catch up on my projects!  It's a well-made little table, and it even has a drawer!  It is definitely handmade, and pretty old, and surprisingly sturdy.  Usually I avoid those turned legs, because they're a bitch to sand, but I couldn't resist this poor table.  It has issues, of course, but that's the way I like 'em!  There are a couple of places where there are digs in the wood and whoever painted it just painted right over them, so I'm going to try to fix those as best I can. I have this stuff called "Quick Wood" (stop giggling), and although it smells pretty foul, it hardens like cement.  Also the bottom of the drawer will need to be replaced.  The color is just WRONG, and it's no mystery to me why it got relegated to the basement (or maybe the tool shed), as evidenced by all the spider webs and crud on it.  I AM going to finish the tea tray project first, but I wanted to see what was under the hideous paint so I started sanding the top and found that in its first incarnation, it was stained and varnished and had a nifty design painted on it!  I wonder why someone covered it up.  We'll never know that answer, but now I'm debating between two different plans for it.  Which way I go depends on how the top looks when I finish sanding.  I'd really like to stain the top and paint the rest, but can't tell what condition it's in yet.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Moving Right Along... the next project.  Always looking for stuff to paint, I picked up this little tray a few weeks ago.  The box is also wood, picked that up meaning to do something with it related to the bureau project.  But then I found this beautiful teapot, and of course I had to have it because it's purple and green, and suddenly these unrelated things started to make sense together.  Of course when I spotted the fabric, it all jelled in my mind, and suddenly the bureau project got pushed down the list again.

The tray seemed a little wobbly, so I decided to give it some wood glue since it didn't seem to have any.  What ended up happening was that I took the whole thing apart, glued it and re-nailed it.  It wasn't put together very well, and I wouldn't trust that lovely teapot to cheap Taiwanese craftsmanship. Sparky laughs at me because I put SO many hours into these projects that I probably end up making the same pay rate as the guy who made the tray did.  But I bet I
have more fun!

Found this guy on my car, and boy, did he have a bad attitude.  He was strolling across my hood, but as soon as he spotted me he stopped cold and put his front legs out in front of him and turned his head to stare me down, trying to look like a badass. We stood like that for what seemed like a long time, neither willing to back down...until I went for my phone and broke eye contact, at which point I guess he decided he won because he turned and continued across the hood and onto the mirror, completely ignoring me but not willing to stop to have his picture taken.  He was apparently on a mission.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

If Only I Didn't Have To Sleep!

The apple table is finally done!  Sometimes projects seem like they're never going come together.  Problems with the painter's tape, problems with the paint drying, and then when I got it all done and put together I discovered that the legs were not all the same length! Didn't notice that when I bought the table.  Off they came, and Preston cut them for me so now it's nice and stable. For a small table (18" by 30" x 29" high), it weighs a ton.  Hardwood.

The next project (I know I said I was going back to the bureau but something else came up!) is a wooden tea tray and tea canister that I'm going to paint to match a lovely little teapot I picked up.  And then yesterday I found a piece of fabric that also matches, so there will be a tablecloth to go with them.  Sometimes I have to wait a long time for inspiration, but these pieces, which all came from different places at different times, just all go together so well I have to move them to the top of the list!

 Try as I might, I didn't get everything done I was supposed to for the powwow.  This little dress was the last thing I finished, and I disappointed several people.  There just are not enough hours in the day to finish everything I think I can do, and I wonder if I'll ever really wrap my head around that reality.  Probably not.  I always think I'm going to have enough time to squeeze in one more thing before a deadline, and the part of my brain that loves to take on a new project does not realize that it also has to sleep and eat and do housework.  BUT, the people whose projects I did manage to finish in time were most appreciative.  I will have to plan better next year.  Please try not to laugh too hard.

Since Sue has been doing the South Kingstown Farmer's Market, and has removed almost all of her stuff from my shop, it occurs to me that most of the things I have been making are things that hang up.  I have lots of surface area in there, and have decided to fill it by finishing some projects I started a long time ago, like these dolls. I used to make dolls and lots of other stuff so long ago when we used to do shows, and haven't made any since before I opened the store.  These two I started when I first opened, but never got around to finishing them. 

It's also time to get out the fall merchandise; not my idea, although I love fall and can't wait to feel that little nip in the air.  But people have actually been coming into the shop and asking about fall and winter clothes for kids, so I guess it's time to think a little ahead.  I did find, when I got out the fall clothes, that the stash was pretty depleted so I guess in between dolls, I'd better get out the fleece and flannel! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Don't Go In The Basement

 Slow going with the table!  I'm determined to get it done so I can get back  to the bureau project, but I ran into a paint won't dry!! It's been really humid here, so I thought that was the problem.  Brought it in the house, where it's significantly less humid, and that didn't work.  Preston said it needs to sit in the sun and bake, which made sense, so we had a couple of really beautiful days with much lower humidity.  I let it sunbathe, and still the paint was tacky.  So I did a little research, and found this to be a widespread problem with latex paint.  The solution everyone had to offer was, use oil-base.  Not helpful at this point.  And since I did see a post from someone who painted a bureau and YEARS later stuff still stuck to it, I decided that I would just go ahead and poly it.  Seems to be working out so far, the water-based polyurethane has no problem drying.  I'm going to put at least 4 or 5 coats on it, since it's a table top.
 As I paint, I have an audience of ginormous humpback crickets, or as i refer to them, my minions.  They hang out on the walls and ceiling of the cellar and are about 1-1/4" long plus legs.  The antenna, which you can't see in this pic, are easily 4" long.  They started to populate the cellar after Crash got too sick to go down there and putter all the time, and it took me some time to get used to them because they're pretty ugly, not cute like the usual black field crickets.  They look kind of spidery, also not a point in their favor.  They definitely are getting bigger every year. But they seem to regard me as a minor nuisance, and if I make too much noise and commotion they go hide till I leave.  I don't like to kill things, as long as they don't bother me I don't bother them.  Sparky is a little disconcerted that such monsters dwell in the nether regions of her house, but I assured her that they don't want to come upstairs.  They like the dark and damp. Plus, I can't remember the last time I saw a spider or a mouse in the cellar.  I'm pretty sure the crickets are eating them. Ah, life in the country.

 Finally, a beautiful evening I could spend in the garden without getting eaten alive!! Maybe mosquito season is over.  Sparky said maybe they decided to fly south for the winter.  Whatever they were doing yesterday, they weren't doing it in my garden.  My friends the cows, as usual, saw me out there and came to demand their fair share of grass and weeds and of course, I'm happy to oblige. They look kind of small in this pic, but actually they're getting pretty big. There's just a drop off behind my garden so they're down lower than me. And they were eating that thistle where it pokes through the fence!  Talk about heartburn!  I would think it would hurt their tongues but I guess cows are pretty tough customers.

The thistle is beautiful, I left it alone because it lives in the DMZ between my garden fence and the pasture fence.  The no-cow zone.  Not a very big space, but big enough! So there have been lots of bees and butterflies checking it out.  No goldfinches, but that's probably Sparky's fault because she feeds them all summer so they don't need to go looking for seeds.

 Some things are doing very well in the garden this year, some not so much.  The butternut squash seems very aggressive toward the bell peppers. Once it started to spread, it made a beeline for them and now is determined to wind its little tentacles around and choke the life out of them.  Not cool. I planted the butternut and the cucumbers more toward the north end of the garden this year because everything that spreads tends to spread south.  However, this year they are traveling north, which baffles me. But at least they're growing so I guess I shouldn't complain.
one lonely little ripe tomato!