Monday, February 24, 2014

Three Holes in the Ceiling

While Bruce was cutting in the kitchen electric boxes, Bill asked Herbert to install some can lights in the hallway, something Herbert has done for Bill before, flawlessly, I must add. So far, so good. Herbert, surveying the ceiling before beginning the project:
So, he proceeds to take down the old light, find the wiring, and begin cutting three holes in the ceiling, only running into the studs twice, requiring a little patching. This morning, while over at Bill's, waiting for the Bright House guy, I found one of the actual circles, which undoubtedly will add to your amusement over the following story.
Pretty darn small, right? Especially so when the old wiring is lost up in the ceiling with extremely limited visibility. It came down to this: Herbert asked if I could help him find the wire in the ceiling by sticking my arm into that black hole and feeling around. Bruce, meanwhile, hearing our struggles, came to help. After nearly 30 minutes of literally grabbing in the dark, my hand found the wire in between the studs. We all breathed a sigh of relief that the entire ceiling did not have to be cut! Fortunately this all happened while Bill was making a Home Depot run, as he would have had a heart attack. And who could blame him? No one was happier than Herbert, who gave me the honor of hitting the switch once it was all put back together.

Saturday was long and productive, with blinds going in, the shower head finally installed, bathroom painted, and more. This sight made me smile today, when I saw he had one of his guitars out...he's making the place his own.
Before leaving Saturday morning, I walked down the street with my camera to photograph a neighbor's tabebuia tree--the very same tree that Sun Dance turned into the image sold in Kirklands. I was so darn delighted when I saw a rainbow over Lake Jennie Jewel.
I bet I see only a couple of rainbows a year, generally when I can neither stop, or don't have my camera! Here then, is the gorgeous tree:
I am more than excited to tell you that our tree is beginning it's annual show of vibrant yellow blooms. Any day now I'll hopefully have a beauty from my own yard to show off!

If you can imagine, we've been so wrapped up in Bill's house, that ours is being neglected. Stars from the party are still hanging in the foyer!!! Why yes, that is the wreath as well.
Saturday was a big fat rainy mess, and that's what we thought was going to be the case on Sunday, but fortunately it was not. Not gorgeous like the previous two Sundays, but tolerable. Every week there is something that strikes me as plum crazy and this week it was this:
So, do you see the white and black dog taking a drink, while wearing a t-shirt? You will never believe what that same t-shirt says, and I won't make you wait another second to find out!
Canine evangelism! What a concept!!

Then too, this little guy comes often for a visit. While we were chatting, he not only told me he is starting algebra in the FIFTH grade (!), but that he will eschew paper for his book report, instead opting for a Power Point presentation!
Really? Seems kind of young to me, but hey, it's been years and years since my children were in elementary school.

There is a whole lotta spiffing up of very young girls as well. This one was my favorite:
Unfortunately, in my haste to take her photo,  I cut off the black patent leather boots she was wearing. She could not have been more than three?

Bruce has gone down to Miami to help the superintendent solve a few problems before Thursday's opening party. God bless that man of mine! I'm off to the grocery store to stock up, as we've been eating on a wing and a prayer these last few weeks. I've pretty much mined my freezer about as far as I can!

Just as we were packing up yesterday afternoon, someone reported receiving a tornado warning on their phone, which was pretty much a false alarm. With clouds like these, I was feeling pretty confidant we would make it home safe and sound, and we did. To tell you the truth, there was nary a drop of rain in our part of the city.
The same could not be said just to the North of us! Thank God for small favors. :)

One last thing---because we returned so late Saturday night, neither one of us thought about the mail. As we were finishing unloading yesterday afternoon it occurred to me, and Bruce went to check the mailbox, calling out that my check from Sun Dance was there. Furthermore, he said it was kind of fat. By golly, "mailbox money"is pretty awesome--by far my largest check to date. Woo hoo!

Friday, February 21, 2014

This Wouldn't Be the First Time

I had to chuckle when this truck drove by as we were heading into WalMart for a few last minute supplies for the big move.
It mostly fits our situation, although we have yet to help all of our sons move--David seems to have not needed us, and I can't exactly remember why that was so. Nevertheless, some of you may remember when we flew to Chicago to help Jon and Alissa move to Austin, TX.  (click on link for a refresher)

Then too, it was before I was writing this blog that Bruce not only helped Matt move to Atlanta, he also shared driving duties during Matt's move to Chicago. Now that move was a bear as there was no elevator in the building (!),  and everything had to be carried up four flights of stairs!

Yesterday during the move, Bruce was feeling his age, leaving some of the heavier lifting to the younger guys. During the second trip over to the new house, he stayed behind with me to help with the cleaning, and thank God for that. He is the only one with the tenacity to have gotten the shower doors clean!
I would have given up, that's for sure!

But I digress.....

Tuesday I thought it would be best to at least get the majority of the dust off the floors before the furniture arrived. I figured, how hard could it be with my trusty Oreck vacuum cleaner and the super-duper Enviro-steamer? I was to soon find out how hard it could be.
I swept and swept, followed by the vacuuming. Looking better, except, and that's a big except, once I started using the steamer, all I did was smear the floors like nobodies business. My goodness, what a mess! I kept thinking if I just kept at it eventually they would look good. Not so my friends, not so. In fact, I'm pretty confident they looked worse than when I started!

I took a trip to Publix, looking for anything to use, and what I ended up with was a "Cuban T-Mop." What's that you say? Basically it is two wooden poles that form the letter "T" and somehow you are to flop this cleaner pad thing on it, and push. While I was standing in line, a woman the next line over, tried explaining it to me, but it fell on deaf ears. On my drive back, I had to stop for a little photo at the Lake Underhill park...
Just what I needed after spending the day fighting the floor. My spirits sank once I tried to use the mop, but after some Google searching on it's use, along with how the heck to get the floor clean of the plaster haze, I went to sleep happy.

Here's the secret--white vinegar and water!!! Plus, I got the mop thing to work using an old towel that I'd put in the bucket, and squeezed the heck out of, to remove the excess water. The secret to the mop was just not picking it up--push, push, and more pushing! In a few spots where there were scratches I used a trusty friend--Old English scratch cover. Well now, this is more like it!
Believe it or not, I did have a little fun this week, joining the ladies for wine at Pat's house over in Southern Oaks. She'd assembled a wonderfully diverse group of ladies whom I enjoyed meeting immensely. Don't you just love it when coincidences pop up? Get this: a friend of Pam's, visiting from Portland, is heading to Amsterdam in mid April. If you can imagine, one of the ladies Pat invited brought along her Dutch friend, who is a tour guide at the major tulip garden in Amsterdam which Pam's friend will be visiting!! This beautiful world of ours is small, don't you agree?
So, I said it wasn't the first time we helped with moving, and neither is it the first time we've helped with remodeling. Almost eight years to the date, Bill moved into his first place, the condo which was in pretty rough shape. At first it was hard to go over there as it was in the same complex Mom lived in for sixteen years, and of course then it was only two years following her death. But then I decided it made me happy he was going to live where she'd lived. Anyway, we pretty much did for him what we are doing now, except then he was not nearly as solvent, so it was an even bigger help on the cash front. Bruce had a stainless steel company make the edging for the counter tops, as well as removing part of the ceiling where the old fluorescent bulbs used to be.
Bill has a thing for stone and through the years added it to most every surface he could cover, including the ceiling! The magnificent ceilings we saw in England would make him very happy.
In any case, we were a bunch younger then, as I don't need to remind you. That said, we enjoy doing it and wouldn't help him if we did not. Furthermore, the timing could not be any better for Bruce who has one more week to go. The restaurant opens next Thursday night, and that will be that.

Before moving day, Bruce reminded Bill that his place would need a thorough cleaning, and boy was he right! In Bill's defense he'd been ignoring the condo for the last seven weeks, mostly stopping by to change out of his suit, and heading to the new place. Once the furniture went onto the truck, it became apparent that it would have to be cleaned and pronto, as the tenant was to move in today. You know who did the honors, with Bruce helping when he could. Bill and two others did most of the actual moving, and all I can say is, I'm glad it is a one bedroom!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the azaleas keep getting prettier by the interesting how some of the blooms are white.
And talk about flowers co-mingling on the same plant--this one has the red striped blooms, and now this lovely magenta shade with a little yellow piping.
How's that for a lovely image to close with?

Monday, February 17, 2014


Believe it or not, we stayed home on Friday to work on our own house! Yep, we did the yard together, and finally got the mass of oak leaves off the bottom of the pool. The bird feeders are filled as well. I thought this photo was kind of cute:
I finally took time to notice my own beautiful, light pink azaleas in bloom:
So, while Bruce was filling multiple garbage cans with leaves from the street, I mowed the lawn, putting most of those leaves and clippings in my flower beds for mulch. While I was mowing Regina came walking down the street with Argyle. It had been more than two weeks since I saw her last, so she had no idea about Bruce. Her reaction--I hate passages, and this is surely one of them. You bet it is. More than 20 years of Bruce's life was spent either on the computer, a job site, an airplane, or a car. She went on to say how she just knew he would thrive, and that most certainly is his plan.

He met with an HR person later in the day to have some of his retirement options explained further. Once folks knew he was in the building, they all wanted to chat, which made him happy. What is really making him happy is working on Bill's house. This morning, while packing for one of his final trips to Miami, he told me he'd rather go take down a crumbling fence at Bill's place! South Beach--Bill's house, that's quite the contrast!

Saturday we spent all day over there, along with Bill and Herbert. Bruce worked primarily on building a soffit for the kitchen to cover the new duct work. Here he's building the frame,
which looked like this when it was mostly ready:
Actually, he had to make a bottom frame, followed by a separate box to go over the refrigerator, followed by covering it all in drywall. Before the front drywall goes on, Herbert will get the electricity to this side of the room sorted out.

Remember when I mentioned how the awful color choices the previous owners made for the exterior?Bill, as noted, is not one to jump into a decision he'll later regret. Then too, painting the exterior of this house will run into the thousands, so it is hardly surprising. BUT, and that's a big but, something had to be done NOW to at least improve things a little bit. The house is faded pink, and the front door, although nice, had a light gray and black color scheme going on. Well done, but awful. Taking matters into my own hands, I bought a pint of color for the door. Bill, of course was none too happy with me, but I told him I couldn't come into that house one more day without something happening to the outside! If he wants it re-painted, so be it. For now, I've changed the color to the shade of cayenne pepper, or maybe dark terra cotta might describe it better.
I finished just before dark so I'm anxious to see it fully dry with two coats in the daytime. Bobby is nearly done tiling the front courtyard, and I think it will match both the travertine there, and the eventual beige shade Bill chooses for the structure.

The market was terrific again--great weather equals great sales. Remind me of this later in the year when the weather turns hot!

Tell me, whatever happened to turquoise cars? What a joy to see such an exuberant color on the road!
Oh yeah, before I forget, the other morning, looking out the bedroom window I noticed steam rising from Lake Gem Mary, a few doors away. Throwing on my new uniform of a crummy sweatshirt and old Addidas pants covered with paint, I thought it was just too pretty not to photograph.
Finding the gate open at the vacant house, I used their shoreline as my vantage point. Pretty, huh? Well, while walking home, my neighbor Pete was out front of his house, and exclaimed, oh that's you Gail. Why, yes it is. He went on to tell me that his wife Terri, looking out her front window, told him it looked like a homeless woman was walking down the street and he should check on it. Ha ha--I'm pretty sure that's the only time I've been mistaken for a homeless woman!

Here's a new take on street art, or at least it is to me. I don't know who is hanging these clever birdhouses on the trees lining the South side of Central Avenue, but they make me happy. Here's a trio:
And a singleton:
Driving home from the market yesterday afternoon, the light was so alive,  I stopped to photograph the Performing Arts Center which is looking very nice indeed:
Super exciting for Orlando. Set for a November opening, time will tell, won't it?

Walking back to my car, I noticed someone keeping their trash off of the street:
What will they think of next?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Hole in the Floor

Let's put it this way, they don't call it a crawl space for nothing. Poor Herbert! Although, he is getting paid, so there's that. At any rate, the day finally arrived when he could cut a hole in the kitchen subfloor to move the plumbing to the other side of the room. I always say to Bruce, I'm pretty good at coming up with ideas, it is the implementation that is the tricky part for me. There's no doubt Bruce could have done it, however, this job is best left to a younger man.

Now you see him....
Now you don't...
Well, if you look closely, you do see part of his body, and his head lamp, which he needed to see what the heck he was doing under there. I'm losing track of the days, but I think this was on Monday or Tuesday. The plumbing is now moved--next up the electricity.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bruce put the stucco mix on the nasty wall...
Covering every bit of it so it will provide a stable surface for when the back splash goes in, which seems to be weeks away. Here's the finished product along with the wider door opening.
I took this before the plumbing was moved as you can just see it on the bottom right. And, although I don't have a photo of it yet, the door opening is beautiful now; Bruce finished cutting the opening and putting up the door casings on Saturday. Believe it or not, I stayed home on Saturday, cleaning my own home, picking up my order and the like. While I was tending to the home fires, Herbert installed all of the baseboards and door casings in the room Bill will be using as a temporary bedroom. I spent one day this week painting it. As well I painted one of the other bedrooms, another shade of beige. Just like the living room, I'm afraid some of it will have to receive another coat, as it was too gloomy for me to see that I wasn't getting full coverage.

Another dumpster arrived, thank goodness! Bobby (tile setter) and I watched the driver back it up the hill.
Yours truly promptly began filling it....
I know--gross, right? Our unpaid project manager insists on a clean job site!

In the meantime, I did do the market on Sunday and was it ever fantastic!! The weather was sunny and brisk, and you know what that means. After literally almost a week of constant rain and gloominess, the beautiful weather inspired loads of folks to get outside and bask in the sunshine. Including me! I'm thinking we are in training for more than a life of remodeling right now. I'm afraid the English weather, when we are there for the wedding, will be like we've been having this winter. We are getting an early taste of it!

Speaking of which, the invitation finally arrived Tuesday, and it is not what you might call lovely--stylish might be a better word. Blue chevron stripe on the top, if that tells you anything. :)

Back to the market, I had a personal best that day, not in terms of money, although that was good, but in terms of pieces--42. Can you believe it? Me neither!! In a break from all these construction photos, here's a funny one from the market. When was the last time YOU saw a dog in a back pack?
What will people think of next?

I'm still working on the coasters, learning as I go. They are entirely unpredictable, so making a bunch seems a little daunting right now, but I will say I'm getting better. I sprayed these with a clear lacquer finish when I returned from the market.
You are correct if you think Bruce had anything to do with the stand. This having a whiz kid around the house is the bomb!

Yesterday between business calls, he continued on the windowsill project. Older homes, including ours before he changed it, had basically bathroom tile sills. I imagine that had something to do with our rainy summers and having the windows open? You may recall that none of these homes were equipped with central air conditioning back then. Certainly my childhood home, only blocks away from this one, did not. I remember being very jealous of the Peck family because they had a wall air conditioner whereas we did not. Moving to Melbourne in 1969 changed all that because we moved into a home with AC!

Here he is in the dining area with one done, and one not.
It's a shame I took this with the back door open--it is in sore need of attention as is most of the outside. Before he got to one above, he did the front window:
As you can see, the outside of the house is still pink. No amount of cajoling by his Mom can convince Bill to pick a new color. So by the end of yesterday, the sills are done in the main living area--woo hoo!

One of the very first things Bill did, in fact, I'm thinking it was the day after closing, he went over in the rain and trimmed back most of the plants, but fortunately, he missed this one.
We've spent so much time over there I've barely noticed my own azaleas blooming. This has been a strange winter for us, as you are by now, no doubt,  sick of hearing from me. Some of the plants and trees think that it is spring,
however, today's predicted high of 57 is anything but spring like, at least here in Florida! What pray tell do we have to moan about when so much of the country is either ice bound or snow bound? Enough said.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Hole in the Wall

We are happily continuing our work at Bill's place. Most of Friday, Saturday, and then again, Monday have been spent making the place better. Not only do we enjoy it, but it's a help to both Bill, and Bruce. Bill--for obvious reasons. Bruce--ditto.

Before Bruce became a project manager extraordinaire, he was a carpenter. Today everyone thinks they are a carpenter until they see a trained one in action. It took him four long years to learn the trade. He's done a lot with his knowledge through the years, including teaching carpentry. However, and that's a pretty big however, for years now, his skills have not been utilized. But, guess what? He seems not to have forgotten a thing.

It must have been Friday, the days are kind of running into one another, that he put the new windowsills in what will be Bill's temporary bedroom. I was painting, so I don't know exactly how you get one to fit, and wrap around the outside, but obviously, he does.
Not the greatest view out the window, but it won't be long before the blinds are put up. Unfortunately, the off the rack blinds are just a wee bit too narrow. Meanwhile, his tile setter Bobby, has been getting the shower tiled. Bill has an obsession with stone. 
I've been painting the living room which has not been all that fun. The walls are heavily textured plaster with so many nooks and crannies that I can't wait to be done!
Not to mention that it is quite large! One of the things you noticed, when first walking into the living room, were two weird poles. Who puts poles in the living room? Why, someone who takes down a wall and can't think of any other way to keep the ceiling up, that's who. Although still not great, I thought to at least paint them, improving their appearance ten-fold. Down the way he will do something creative with them (think stone), but for now the goal is to at least get the living room, the kitchen, one bedroom, and bathroom, done before he moves in on February 17. The clock is ticking.....

Not only are there weird poles, but the kitchen view was grim. I mean, grimmer than anyone can imagine. I cannot tell you how much this weighed me down. Until, sometime in the last week or two, as we were coming home, I asked Bruce about the possibility of flipping the kitchen around, and cutting a hole in the long living room wall. He said it could be done. Calling Bill with the idea, I explained the notion, and he was speechless. So, how grim was the view? This grim:
What pray tell are you looking at? Well, of course all the cabinets are now removed, so there's that. Adding insult to injury, before they were removed by Bill, some spindles in it!!! As if they could disguise the hideousness! The previous owner added a second floor over the garage, put the stairs alongside the house, and enclosed the whole thing. That, my friends, is the stair rail, and the carpeted steps!! Not to mention the unattractive fence. I told you it was grim.

So, here's the fix:
How did Bruce do it? With a very little help from me. He began with laying out the kitchen. Next, lots of measuring to get it right, followed by chalk lines. The saw came out, and here's where yours truly came into the picture. Holding the shop vac just on the other side of the blade to suck up most of the dust. The operative word is most. Good grief was it messy! The kitchen dry wall was cut, then he beat it out with a hammer, followed by cutting out the studs. Lest you worry about stability, he re-installed all sorts of pieces of wood around it.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. I wondered how he would cut the hole exactly on the other side. Now I know. Cleverly, or at least to my way of thinking, he drilled holes on each corner, which we then chalked on the living room side. If I thought the kitchen side operation was messy, it paled in comparison with the plaster side. Sparks were literally flying! I had on some safety goggles and a mask, but what I didn't bargain for was my hair. My poor hair. As if getting gray hair weren't bad enough, I am now abusing my hair left and right. Last week it was a crown of paint, this week a crown of plaster dust. Now I know what I will look like when all my hair turns gray! I will say, it washed out much easier than the paint.

Since he had out all the tools anyway, he then cut the room opening larger, another big task:
Please forgive me for the darkness of these photos, the days were so dreary that the light was not good. Of course this will be refined later, but prior to the cutting, this area held a pocket door. Funny how people once wanted to close the kitchen off, and now they want it open....

Herbert, God bless him, pulled up all the old flooring, and there were many layers, with a crowbar. Nice to be only 41 years old. What you see above is what's called the subfloor, which will of course be covered in stone before too long. Speaking of which, Bruce fashioned a work table from one of the crates the stone was delivered in.
Everything was damp and cold from the incessant rain. Then it went away. Sunday, the market was lovely. We went from one extreme to the other in two days--46 in the middle of the day, to Sunday's temp of 86. I did not complain!

Instead of sweatshirts, yesterday we wore shorts to continue the work. How to get rid of the old hole? Ask a carpenter, or follow along and you shall see.
Getting the hand saw ready beside the big fat mess of the old floor. Thank gosh Bill has another dumpster coming tomorrow before someone gets hurt.

Here's what he did--made a box to fit the opening:
Love that sunshine!! Almost there...
And now he is:
I bet these photos warm the hearts of my boys, seeing their Dad doing something he loves. Not that he didn't like project managing, but there's nothing like going back to your roots. When I wasn't helping him take down the cabinets, or putting on drywall tape, I continued the miserable painting. The ceiling, however, is not going to be done by me. I draw the line somewhere.

The drywall installed:
which he followed by mud, and what have you. Before long, actually when he gets back from Miami, that nasty black stuff you see in the middle will be covered with stucco mix. Bruce surmises that when the latest round of kitchen cabinets went up, they yanked off the plaster. Couldn't have been a trained carpenter.

You Just Never Know