Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why I need The Bean Scene, also known as my bathroom odyssey

This is what the bathroom looked like when I first bought the cottage.

Note the lovely wallboard on the lower half of the room. I've said it before and I'll say it again: WALLBOARD MEANS SOMEBODY'S HIDING SOMETHING!

Indeed, such was the case here.

Also note that miscellaneous crap strewen about the room was there from the start, abandoned by the previous owner. Some of the more interesting items include a paint sprayer (in the tub) and a faux-radiator-looking space heater.


Beautiful pipes there, aye?

I suppose one could say they add character.


I sure hope they do, cuz I'm NOT removing them. There's no room in the wall behind. (It's a "short" wall.)

The plaster which I removed from the lower section of these walls filled AN ENTIRE truck bed, which I subsequently hauled to the dump.

(I heart the dump!)

Gotta love that old cast-iron sink.

Maybe I should put it in the garden and plant flowers in it?

(The toilet's already outside, and it might be lonely.)

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand, we have drywall!


Those silly pipes are such camera-hogs... I think the window is getting jealous.

In the next episode of the bathroom chronicles, we shall have paint, a new light fixture, a re-painted clawfoot tub, and a tile floor!


Postscript: Can you guess why I need The Bean Scene? It's elementary, my dear Watson. I have no place to pee. (Of course the obligatory coffee that I buy with every visit is a cunning reinforcement of the cycle... but what to do?)

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Backyard

So I posted about all the yardwork and gardening I've been doing but I didn't add any pics. Fellow houseblogger Litter Box House totally called me out on it!

I was actually thinking that I should add some when I made that post, but as usual, I wanted to wait until everything was totally perfect before posting photos, lest someone think "hrm, that doesn't really look so great, how many hours did you work on that again???"

Or maybe that's just my inner critic!

Anyway, if I wait until things are perfect, I'll be dead before anybody sees anything, so screw it.

Here is a little flower bed I made out of "re-crete" gathered from the crumbled edges of the pad from a former garage. (Now reincarnated as a patio, since I don't feel like jackhammering it up.)

The flowers are white columbine which I planted from seeds gathered from my mother's garden several years ago. I'll plant some other stuff in there too, but I still don't know what.

These are my raised beds. The small one in the background is a nursery bed, where I've planted other flower seeds for future transplantation, as well as a few rows of gathered seeds of unidentifiable genus. (I forgot to label them when I gathered them. Oops!)

In the foreground bed I have cold crops such as lettuce, mesclun, radish, turnips, kohlrabi, and various herbs.

I need to build AT LEAST two more such beds, since I have a dozen eggplant seedlings at home which are beginning to flower already, plus roughly two dozen brandywine tomato seedlings which are bursting their peat-cups.

This is the weird mound to which I referred in my previous post. It's kind of hard to see how high it is in this photo, but suffice it to say that when I stand on it I can see OVER THE FENCE.
Bizarro. I suppose it could be the result of some earth moving which came from the demolition of the garage... Who knows? At any rate, I intend to dig it down and spread the dirt around in an attempt to reduce the rollercoaster-like unevenness that characterizes my yard.

After that fun task, I'll probably just seed the lawn and be done with it. (My ideal yard would be landscaped with no grass at all, but one must be practical when one is operating on a deadline!)

I didn't take any pics of the boulevard garden yet, since there's not much growing there at the moment. (Stuff is still under the dirt!) As soon as things begin to come up and I get it mulched, however, it will be properly immortalized on this blog. (Being sure, of course, to avoid shots of the front yard proper, which is a disaster right now!)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Garden Fever!

One of the beautiful things about spring is that I have an excuse to avoid interior work by telling myself that some landscaping tasks just HAVE to be done right now, before it gets to warm.

Hooray for justifiable procrastination!

So this week I built raised beds, hauled truckloads of compost and woodchips, dug up my boulevard and planted flowers, planted cold crops in the back, and guerrilla-gardened in the (vacant) next-door yard with mixed perennials and sunflowers.

Now I just have to dig several rain-garden trenches, dig up and spread out a bizarre mound in the backyard, haul at least two more truckloads of woodchips to spread along the sides of the house and over/in my trenches, and build a retaining wall and terraces in the front yard. Whew! That should take a while...

In the meantime, I did finally locate a handyman who was willing to show up (not on time, but whatever) and tape the dreaded drywall in my bathroom and office. He didn't do the greatest job ever, but it's better than I could have done, to say nothing of FASTER, so I guess that's what's important.

Now the office only needs some touch-up sanding and paint, and the bathroom needs a bit of plumbing rearrangement, a new tile floor, (I'm going with multi-colored mosaic slate!) and the claw-foot tub to be sanded, primed and painted.

Oh, and a new toilet and sink...

And trim...

And lighting...

And shelving, towel racks, tp rack, hooks, shower-curtain apparatus, etc...

Okay so I guess there's a bit yet to do.

But I still feel like I'm sooooooooooooooooooo close to the end! For JOY!!!

I'm already planning the post-rehab party in my head.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Four Months Over North

Alright, I think it's time for a recap:

It's been four months since I began work on the house in North Minneapolis. In fairness, I know that's nothing. In further fairness, I will divulge that I have yet to sleep one night there. I'm still living on the south side, mainly due to the fact that the house continues to lack: a toilet; a bathtub; a stove; a fridge; and furniture.

I'm working on that.

At any rate, I still want to say that it's NOT THAT BAD, PEOPLE. I mean, I admit that I'm not there so much at night, but I have yet to have one negative experience, at least not compared with life on the south side. (In other words, yes there's trash and a few broken down cars and lots of unemployed people, but it's no worse -actually it's better- than the Whittier hovel in which I currently reside, just a quick walk from the esteemed Lyn-Lake.)

Don't get me wrong - Willard-Hay(Homewood?) is no Linden Hills. These things are best evaluated on a block-by-block basis though. There are good and not-quite-as-good blocks in most neighborhoods, and I have to say that my NoMpls block is BETTER than my Whitter block. When compared to my previous Powderhorn and Phillips blocks, I'd say that so far it ranks about even.

Of course, when I buy and fix up the houses on either side of mine, it will surpass even Linden Hills - just you wait... :-)

Ranty Hills.

I like the sound of that.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Eggplant, anyone?

So I was a little over-excited about planting this year, and did something very silly: I started seeds in February.

It wouldn't have been so bad except that I had given away all my pots when I sold my last house, and all I had were these little peat-cells in which I started about 80 zillion eggplant seeds.

Since I don't have 80 zillion pots, nor do I have 40 zillion bags of potting soil, things are getting a little hairy around here as the plantlets are bursting at the seams of inadequate cells.

So now they all look like this:

I'm keeping them alive as best I can, and the few which I have transferred to pots are thriving.

As for the rest? Well, that's the reason for this post.

Does anybody want some???

If you're inside the city and want a few, I'll give them away for free. I just really don't want them to die...

The other thing I should mention is that these plants came from a variety pack, so I cannot say for sure which eggplant is which. They will probably look like one of these though:

Any takers???

Sunday, April 8, 2007

And now for something completely different:


Here's hoping that every last one gets consumed at today's Pascha (Easter) celebration... because I don't really care for them myself.

But they are SO much fun to decorate!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Fun with Doors

One of the first things I did when I began working on this house in December was remove the bedroom's crapped-up-looking double-doors and toss them in the basement for later. There they sat until I finally remembered them a couple of weeks ago. (I think I tripped over one while looking for a drywall knife.)

As usual, I can't find any good before pics, probably because I was in too much of a hurry to take any. Here's the only shot I found in which you can sort of see them: (The view is from the bedroom, looking out into the dining room.)

And here's that same view now, with the doors closed:

And from the dining-room side:

I sanded them down completely by hand, and I think I did a pretty good job of it. What sucks is that I succumbed to the temptation of a crap-o-licious "Polyshades" stain/polyurethane mix on them afterwards, and it's about as useful as watery ketchup.

Never again will I be so silly as to look for an alternative to the glorious, time-tested splendor of SHELLAC.

I do hereby solemnly swear it.

I give up!!!

Okay not really, but sort of.

I'm sick of working on this stupid house. It always goes like this - I'm jazzed up and energetic and work my ass off for three-quarters of a project and then just before it's done I lose all interest and move at a snail's pace. I suppose it's impatience, or maybe just that my brain moves faster than my arms and in my mind this place is supposed to be FINISHED, ALREADY! Ugh.

So, after two straight weeks of doing nearly nothing, I am now entertaining bids on the more aggravating pieces of interior work that remain. Specifically, sheetrocking and tiling the bathroom, and skimcoating the study ceiling.

I feel a strange combination of conflicting emotions about it. On the one hand, I'm salty about paying someone for work I could easily do myself. On the other hand, it's elating to think that someone might actually complete these tasks inside of a week, rather than procrastinating them for a month as I surely would. (Er, as I HAVE, that is.)

So, okay. Whatever. Why should I care? Don't zillions of other people speak of "doing" projects, (e.g. "we remodeled our kitchen!" or "we put in a new deck!") when in fact they paid someone else to do it? Why is it that when *I* say these things, I have to mean that *I* actually did it with my own two hands? People rarely believe that anyway, most likely because I'm a chick.

Screw it.

I want a manicure.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Stop that Mexican - He's headed for MEXICO!!!

This story just doesn't make sense to me.

So ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detains a guy at the airport for looking suspicious. They discover that he's an illegal alien, take him into custody, and prepare to deport him.


He was carrying a ticket to Mexico City at the time of his detention.

Coulda just let him go, but noooooooooo... we gotta send him back on the taxpayer's dime instead.


P.S. I realize this post has nothing to do with North Minneapolis, nor does it have anything to do with the house-rehabbing, but it's my blog and felt like posting it... so there.