Saturday, February 29, 2020

hope springs eternal

Well, the glimmer turned out to be just a glimmer of hope that the bathroom would be done by the end of the week. Alas, that is not the case. Rocky and Daryl got the vanity moved into the bathroom Monday and lo and behold, while the plumbing for the sink got moved to the left, it did not get moved far enough to the left. Fortunately this was something Rocky could fix so no need to call in the plumbers again but he had to cut a 16” square hole in the sheetrock to do so.

So the water lines and drain pipe have been moved to where they need to be, the sheetrock repaired, the trim for the door and window has been stained, the painted window trim has been replaced with the stained window trim, the tile has been grouted, the paint touched up. 

Still need to put up the trim around the door and the water heater/clothes hamper door and paint the doors, still need to add the pencil tile to trim out the edges of the wall tile (we had originally planned to use a strip of stained wood for that but that involved several problems and a lot of labor which I needn't go into here so to that end I drove out to F&D yesterday afternoon to return all the extra tile and the other stuff we opted not to use and got 9 more pieces of the pencil tile), still need to mount the sink under the marble top and install the faucet and get the vanity in place and the water and drain hooked up, still need to get the wall cabinets and mirror back up. Seems like a lot still to do but Rocky's only been working here half days after he gets his crew going on his big job and he was committed elsewhere all day Friday. We didn't expect the remodel to take this long but then we didn't anticipate the two major plumbing woes not to mention the water heater crapping out.

The husband returns tomorrow from his week in the frozen snowy mountains of Colorado with my brother. My one week alone a year has been a little less than alone as Rocky has been here most days and showers were had by the kids and Sarah came by with upgrades for Gypsy's habitat.

She checked out all her new surroundings, testing everything with her tongue, climbing on her hammocks, stared at the scenery background.

Wednesday night it dipped down into the high 20˚s and the next night close to freezing so I had to cover a few things. I should have cut the amaryllis bloom and brought it in since it froze but the daffodils and pansies are fine. Back in the 70˚s yesterday and today. Thursday I managed to lock myself out of the house when I walked the dog but fortunately my sister has a key and she was home so she came and let me in. I rented two movies...Knives Out and Maleficent: Mistress Of Evil...and then realized I hadn't read a single word in my book all week so that's what I did last night. Today I'm shoveling dirt back into the hole from having the sewer pipe replaced and getting the camellia in the ground. At least that's the plan.

Oh, one more thing happened this week. Remember last February when I spent those weeks tracking down receipts and filling out the application and getting it submitted for the Texas Land Office's Homeowner Reimbursement Program for Harvey flood victims to pay people back that had to spend their own money for repairs? And then the subsequent meeting last June and inspections last August? Well, a little over a year later, Thursday morning I got a call to schedule my appointment for my signing event! I'm not getting the whole amount we spent but I am getting 65% which is more than I thought I would get.

It might just pay for the bathroom.

Monday, February 24, 2020

there's a glimmer in the that the end of the tunnel?

Rocky showed up noonish on Friday ready to get the rest of the tile up and we got the next row of pencil tile up and started on the 6” band of wall tile, 2 pieces up and the saw started being balky so he took off to get a new blade and I never saw him again. Just as he was leaving, the old plumbers showed up to work on the water heater. They spent the better part of the afternoon cleaning soot out of it. Leeland and his helper were in the attic, on the roof, in and out of the bathroom. Did you know water heaters are hollow inside? I didn't. There is a long stretched out auger looking thing inside the water heater that they had to pull out from the attic that had mounds of soot caked up on it, the cap on the vent pipe on the roof was covered, and inside the hollow part of the tank but they got it cleaned up and then he tinkered with some other part and then put it all back together with the burner that he had already repaired and fired it up and we have hot water! He's going to stop by Monday to check his work and see if it's still working and I think that whatever was causing the soot has been addressed so they left and without presenting me with a far. And it's just as well Rocky didn't come back because he wouldn't have been able to accomplish anything, which I'm sure he realized, as long as the plumbers were here.

So, sink is unstopped, toilet is unstopped, water heater is working so now maybe we can actually make some progress on finishing the interior of the bathroom.

I took Marc to the airport Saturday morning for his annual week in Colorado with my brother. My brother skies all day, Marc hangs out at the resort all day and they visit in the evenings, and I get the house to myself for a week.

Rocky showed up Saturday and Sunday and we got all the tile up except for two small pieces which can't go on til the baseboard goes on. 

Still needs to be grouted. Sunday afternoon I got the trim for the doors and enough for around the window because I think I'm going to change that, bought a faucet, a towel bar, and a toilet paper holder though it's all chrome and I don't especially like shiny but the faucet was the style I like best with white porcelain handles.

Last Wednesday was the last watercolor class for the daytime series. I made pretty good progress as you can see but didn't finish. 

There are two more sessions for the Monday night class and those of us who didn't finish have been invited to attend so after yoga tonight I'm going to drop into the class and see if I can get it finished.

In the yard (we got an inch of rain last night so everything is wet), as we flip back and forth from winter to spring, my daffodils are finally blooming and the first amaryllis have opened, 

the ground orchids are blooming 

and the azaleas and they really are that vibrant. 

Redbud trees around town are in full bloom but not the two in my neighbor's yard yet. My little miniature redbud in a pot is putting on some flowers.

End of day, baseboards and the last two little pieces of tile are in and the molding for the window and door is stained. Rocky wants to move the vanity in tomorrow, maybe even get the cabinets back up.

Getting close.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

and the problem that started this whole ordeal was not solved

Since the new flooring is in, the plumber came yesterday morning to reseat the toilet and to snake the kitchen drain. They left after putting the toilet back for another job and to get the snake they needed and returned in the afternoon. In the meantime, Marc used the toilet which did not completely empty when flushed which is why we called Rocky in the first place and which caused the whole replacing the plumbing under the house and in the walls of that bathroom. Apparently we all got blinded by replacing the plumbing and completely forgot about the clogged up toilet.

So after they cleared the kitchen sink drain yay! they tried the snake on the toilet. It went in and in and in but never encountered any obstruction and never emerged in the pipe to the septic system as viewed from the clean-out about 6' or 7' from the toilet. It went up the vent pipe instead. So they tried from the clean-out and the snake went to the pipe from the kitchen sink and not the toilet. So they removed the toilet again, tried the snake again with the same result.

Now master plumber Bill is talking about having to dig up the sewer pipe from the toilet to the septic tank or at least to the PVC where the clean-out is. So Gunnar gets the shovel and starts digging and encounters roots from the Chinese fringe flower tree right outside my window immediately and also having to dig up a large clump of liriope and there's bricks and stuff and so now Bill wants to bring in the little Kubota but that means tearing down a section of fence because they don't think it will fit through the gate and he says the fringe flower tree needs to be cut down, that it's most likely roots have gotten in the pipe, none of which I wanted to do.

So after muttering fuck and what a bunch of shit and again fuck, I told them that they should go on to whatever job and give me the rest of the day to dig. They didn't like that idea and so while they discussed their afternoon plans I got in the with the shovel and started digging, using the long handled nippers to cut roots when needed and then Gunner started digging and we finally found the concrete sewer pipe from the toilet and while we were uncovering that Bill called Rocky to get him over here to help and when Rocky got here he took my shovel and told me to get out of the way so Rocky and Gunnar got it all uncovered and found that there had already been a repair where the concrete pipe joined the PVC to the septic tank at an angle (which is why the snake went awry from the clean out though why it went up the vent pipe from the toilet instead of the sewer pipe is anybody's guess, well we did understand why later) and it looked like they just mixed up a bag of concrete and poured it over the whole mess so they had to use what looked like a mini jackhammer to bust that all up along with the concrete sewer pipe until they finally got enough of it removed to find the clog...a huge solid 12" mass of tree roots and sludge. Pulled that out, ran water into the sewer pipe from the bathroom, no water flowed out so they dug more and broke away more and more of the concrete pipe until they came to the part under the house that was completely encased all around by tree root and also filled with tree root from the old tallow tree across the yard (so yay, I don't need to cut down my Chinese fringe flower tree since it wasn't the problem after all). 

They hacked away at that until they finally got it all clear and the old pipe removed and the new PVC installed and the toilet now flushes completely and we have not only all new plumbing under the floor and in the walls of the bathroom but also new underground sewer pipe from the toilet to the PVC to the septic tank.

Good news, right? Not so good news on the water heater. I called the manufacturer to honor the warranty and cover the cost of repair or replacement and the customer service woman asked me a bunch of questions the upshot of which was that it needs to be registered (which hadn't been done) to honor the warranty and it couldn't be registered until it was installed properly so when you get it installed properly, send us pictures and we'll talk. What!!! Currently, the water heater is in a closet in the bathroom where the previous water heater was installed. According to the manufacturer, gas water heaters cannot be installed in a bathroom or a bedroom, it has to be in a closet with a solid self closing door with weatherstripping and an air supply/vent from outside. Moving the water heater anywhere would involve all kinds of expense involving moving gas lines and water lines not to mention building a closet with all that they require and we're supposed to do this for a water heater that doesn't even work right now. Our current plumber Bill says this water heater would probably crap out on us in a few years from now anyway if we did get it fixed since everything made these days is engineered to fail in 5 to 7 years. The one we replaced 3 1/2 years ago had lasted 27 years.

So here we are, still no hot water, waiting for the part to come in to see if the previous plumber can fix it or not.

Geez. Why does every problem have to be a fucking can of worms!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

when it rains, it pours

The row of blue tile went up yesterday. First the first row of the pencil tile and then the blue tile. I had pre-marked the miter for the corner pieces of the pencil tile which was great except I had marked the wrong side resulting in a miter that didn't work. Fortunately Rocky wanted to check in situ before proceeding and we discovered my error. So, I marked the tile, he cut it and set it in place. This was as far as he wanted to go until the adhesive had set. The next row is pencil and then 6" of wall tile. Crucial where the collar for the shower rod falls. We checked the measurement today, fingers crossed. We could increase the 6" to 7" but I'd rather not.

Yesterday was the first day I got a glimpse of my design, what I came up with with the things available I liked best. Rocky had the first row of pencil tile up and two 12" sections of the blue tile and I chuckled. That sounds like somebody who's happy with what they see says Rocky. And yes I was happy with what I saw. Seeing the samples, seeing the drawing, visualizing it in my head is all well and good but the moment of truth is when it all starts to come together in real life, seeing that your idea and the solutions to problems actually work.

But of course something had to balance that out and last night when the kids came to take showers, Sarah reported that the the water never did get hot and Mike had to take a quick cold shower. Checked the hot water heater and the pilot was out and would not relight. This hot water heater is only 3 1/2 years old (and still under warranty) so when Rocky showed up this morning he pulled out the burner/pilot/clicker thing and discovered that the burner was completely covered in soot, cleaned that up and vacuumed everything up, checked the gas supply, and still the the pilot wouldn't work. More investigating and blah blah blah everyone says if we have to replace that part we might as well just replace the whole water heater, that's how expensive the part is. So we finally called the expensive plumber who sold us the water heater and installed it and the guy looked at the part, thinks he can fix it, disconnected it and took it with him. We should find out in the morning if he could. If not then it's wrangling with the manufacturer to honor the warranty.

And because that's not headache enough, the kitchen sink is stopped up and the 8' snake did not clear the problem so tomorrow we try with a longer snake. In the meantime I'm heating water with which to wash dishes in a basin so I can throw the dirty water out in the yard (same for rinsing) and I took a shower at my neighbor's house (Marc just suffered through a cold water shower).


Tomorrow is the last watercolor class so Rocky won't be back til Friday to finish up the tile (he's using today and tomorrow to finish up one of his other jobs while we get the water heater and sink straightened out).

But, once the tile is done the rest should go pretty quickly.

Friday, February 14, 2020

some progress is being made

The tiling is going slow. Those of you that followed me through the rebuilding and remodeling of the half the house that flooded after Harvey may remember how crazy this house is built with rooms added on at a weird angle and other head scratching shit. Well, this bathroom is no different. The bathtub itself slants down from one end to the other by about a half inch over 5' and as it would happen, we started on the high end with the tile so now there is a half inch gap between the top of the tub and the bottom of the bottom piece of tile at the other end. Great. Not only that but the walls on the two ends aren't plumb. The wall with the spouts and handles bows out a bit in the middle. Rocky's doing his best to make all the joins flush but it's an impossible job given the walls. Yesterday afternoon I had him remove the last piece he put on Wednesday to make a slight change and then he had to remove two pieces he added yesterday because they weren't following the pattern. Plus he didn't get here til noon yesterday because he's working two jobs, mine and the one before me that put him on hold for two weeks. So at this point, he has to finish the fourth row of big tile and then the fancy stuff starts...the pencil tiles, the row of blue tiles, another row of pencil tile, a 6” row of wall tile, then another row of pencil tile, the flower border, and the last row of pencil tile.

As it happened, nothing got done today. Rocky showed up late and started working on the window molding which has to go up before he can finish the last bit of wall tile but his miter/chop saw started burning wood as it attempted to cut and so after tinkering with it, putting on a new blade which didn't help, he determined something was broke and he needed a new saw and I had to run out to Lowe's to get another piece of baseboard trim and samples of different stains for the upper cabinets to test to see which one will come closest to the vanity. Of course, two of the three that we picked from the little brochure at the paint store here, which doesn't sell the sample sizes, are no longer available so I just winged it and picked two others I thought might do.

I have yet to pick out the molding for the two doors because it needs to be 2 3/4” wide because...reasons (crazy built house), even 3” would do, except I can get all kinds of 2 1/2 or 3 1/4” or 3 1/2” but no 2 3/4” wide molding at Lowe's. One style of 3” which I didn't like so tomorrow I'll try the two building supply places in El Campo but if they don't have anything then we might have to use the old trim which Rocky saved which I'm not wild about but it's around all the other doors in the upper house.

On the upside, I did make good progress on my water lily during the watercolor class Wednesday but I still didn't finish, have two more petals to paint. One more day for the class so I hope I can get it finished.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

definitely spring

It was overcast all day Sunday, warm enough but the cloudy sky did not inspire me. I did finally empty the garden cart onto the burn pile of the weeds and yard trash that it's been full of for weeks! so that I could put Saturday's weeds and yard trash in it. Did I empty that onto the burn pile? I did not. Saturday I weeded an entire flower bed, the one from which I have been trying to get rid of the mexican petunias. There was some of that coming back but mostly it was dayflower that had colonized it last summer. The mini flood we had last February in which the entire yard was under water creeping at the threshold of the door to the little backyard brought untold number of weed seeds. Clover. I have clover all over the big backyard. I have never had clover back there. All kinds of other spring weeds but not clover.

Sunday I was back to pulling clover and cleaver and hay grass out of the big backyard. That task is overwhelming in the front, well, it's overwhelming in the back too, and the ditch and the easement. We're not getting as many bluebonnets this year as in previous years because, I think, the county mowed the easement and ditch before they had completely gone to seed. The county never mows in front of our house but last year for whatever reason, they did when they mowed the deep ditch in front of the shop property. That and we haven't gotten much rain this winter. But! We tossed some seed at the back of the big backyard several years ago and that patch has grown and expanded and this is what I saw when I wandered back there Sunday...

bluebonnets blooming in early February. This is so wrong.

More pictures of some of what's blooming in the big backyard/meadow...

the ten petal anemones which have completely colonized the yard

and the very rare pink version


dandelions, of course

and the woodland violets still

the woodland petal pink is putting out it's first blooms

The other thing I did Sunday was alter a dress for grandgirl Robin who was home this weekend. She's spending the weeks in the city staying with friends until they get the electricity hooked up which is probably still several weeks away.

Yesterday, another overcast but comfortable day, I took the long handled nippers and cut back everything...the other confederate rose, the morning glory bushes, the penta, the plumbago, the hibiscus, the cinco de mayo rose, the sprawling orange lantana, the firespike, the yellow trumpet flower and pulled up more cleaver and clover. I'm not sure I'm going to cut back the knockout roses. I usually cut them back every other year and I did cut them back last spring but they didn't do well last year so I probably should cut them back and then fertilize them. And I still need to trim away all the dead leaves on the banana trees and plant the camellia but it turned cold today.

On the bathroom remodel front, second coat of paint went on yesterday and the flooring got installed today.

before and after


Next the tile goes up.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Camel Dances

When the kids were young I bought a slim volume titled FABLES written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. It was a favorite of the kids at bedtime. They're short, all of them one page with a moral at the bottom. Just for fun I thought I would post them now and then. I'll start with this one. As I recall it was a favorite of the kids.

The Camel had her heart set on being a ballet dancer.

To make every movement a thing of grace and beauty,” said the Camel. “That is my one and only desire.”
Again and again she practiced her pirouettes, her releves, and her arabesques. She repeated the five basic positions a hundred times each day. She worked for long months under the hot desert sun. Her feet were blistered, and her body ached with fatigue, but not once did she think of stopping.
At last the Camel said, “Now I am a dancer.” She announced a recital and danced before an invited group of camel friends and critics. When her dance was over she made a deep bow.
There was no applause.
I must tell you frankly,” said a member of the audience, “as a critic and a spokesman for this group, that you are lumpy and humpy. You are baggy and bumpy. You are, like the rest of us, simply a camel. You are not and never will be a ballet dancer!”
Chuckling and laughing, the audience moved away across the sand.
How very wrong they are!” said the Camel. "I have worked hard. There can be no doubt that I am a splendid dancer. I will dance and dance just for myself.”
That is what she did. It gave her many years of pleasure.
Satisfaction will come to those who please themselves.

Friday, February 7, 2020

(not too) easy (to) come, (not too) easy (to) go

Yesterday was one of the least favorite days of my life. Not this day particularly but this type of day. And by that I mean the kind where I spend a lot of money. That's not completely true of course but I am frugal by nature and even as a kid I tended to save my allowance instead of spend it and living hand to mouth for most of my adult life has reinforced my natural tendency so when I do spend money it tends to be in large sums. If I'm going to do something I'm going to want something nice. With an eye to the expense vs pleasure ratio, I don't throw caution to the wind but I don't pare it down to the bare minimum either. This is one of the reasons it normally takes me a lot of time to decide on things, like tile and flooring and paint color and vanities. Will the idea that appeals to me today appeal to me tomorrow or next week? Because I'll be living with the results of my decisions. So I feel a bit under pressure since I have to commit now! And commit I did yesterday.

I bought the light fixture, the glass shades, light bulbs, the baseboard trim, the 1” x 4”s for the window trim (couldn't decide on the door trim), 1/4 round for the baseboard at Lowe's then it was off to Floor and Decor to get the tile for the shower, the pencil tiles (which involved the difference between polished and unpolished and the price difference), the blue glass accent tiles, the marble flower accent tiles, grout for one and grout for another, spacers, special adhesive for the glass tiles (holy crap!), and sealer for the stone.

I had to get someone to help with the pencil tiles and the flower tiles as there weren't any on the shelf so I found the woman who had helped me on my first visit. She did find me what I wanted, having to go to the back and root around, but she and I had a different perspective on what would look good. She thought my design was 'outdated', I don't care I told her. And she didn't like my idea of using a darker grout in the flower border tile, you won't like it she said, I've done it before and it looked fine, I told her. She thought I needed five boxes of tiles for the shower when I thought four would be more than enough (I had already figured up my square footage). I can always buy one or two extra if need be but at four boxes, I think I will be returning some.

Anyway, it was nearly four before I got home with all that material loaded in my truck cleverly disguised as a car and we got everything unloaded 

it doesn't look like much for the amount of money it represents

I fed the dog and took her outside, then sat down at my computer and realized I should have left 10 minutes ago to go get my sister for the yoga class that night and rushed my way out and we barely made it in time. It was a large class last night and thankfully it was a gentle, restorative class (they alternate on Thursday evening between gentle and active).

I was a few minutes late to watercolor class Wednesday because Rocky showed up just as I was leaving and we had to have our morning confab. The last project that we will work on the the last three days of the class (she added an extra day) is a water scene with a water lily. We transferred the waterlily to our paper but we had to draw the rest ourselves and I took far too much time on my composition (you may not be able to see the faint pencil lines in this pic) and consequently got the least amount of painting done of anyone in the class. Here's mine...

group shot...

you can see how little progress I made compared to everyone else so it's a good thing I have two more days to work on it.

Well, Rocky might start tiling the shower today or he might install the light fixture first. We'll see when he shows up.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

more progress and a different houseguest

Monday dawned with a clear blue sky and I planned to do some work outside but by the time I got my errands for the day done...garbage to my sister's house (because we don't have garbage pick up here in the county, you have to pay extra so I just bag it up and take it to Pam's), recycling to the drop off station, and accumulated newspaper to the vet... and got out there to do some weeding in the afternoon it had clouded over and it was overcast yesterday as well though it's still warm, was supposed to rain but hasn't really. Cold front came in last night a little early since it wasn't supposed to get here til today and it's overcast today.

Rocky got the last of the sheetrock work done and sprayed the texture yesterday so next on the agenda was selecting a paint color (white to pick up the white dots on the 'flower' trim tile – done, though I still have to buy the paint) and buying the tile/grout/spacers (planned for Thursday). Also needed to decide finally on the flooring (done – going with the roll vinyl). 

Now it's just incidentals...light fixture, glass shades, faucets, grab bars, soap dish, baseboards (which I'm thinking might be stained to match the vanity and cabinets), and door and window trim (maybe the door and window trim too).

It looks like the kids may not be moving in after all, at least not right away. Their septic system was put in Monday (yay!) and they are concerned about the two dogs and three cats being left to adjust to a new place all by themselves and since they now have a flushing toilet and a battery powered light they're going to camp out for a few days and see how it goes. Plus s-i-l Mike is working nights for a few shifts and needs a quiet place to sleep during the day which won't be here until the bathroom is finished. Their bearded dragon Gypsy, though, did move in since she has to have electricity for her warming lights and hot rock.

Today is the 5th of the 6 watercolor classes and I have no idea what she plans for us today. And yoga tonight. If I don't forget like last week and if it's not pouring down rain.

Monday, February 3, 2020

moving along, moving, and moving in the future

I drew up the other idea for the accent borders in the tile and while it would have saved me about $150 it also created two other problems, one concerning the height of the tile on the wall and and the other running afoul of the shower head. And besides I think I like my first choice better after all.


We also moved the boxes off the pallet and into the back bedroom where we opened the box the vanity is in just enough to see it (and by that I mean we tore the front side off) and check that nothing was damaged, opened the box with the marble top and it matched the tile really well so I'm happy though the color of the vanity is a little redder than I would like but I'm sure I'll get used to it and it is pretty.

I hate buying things sight unseen.

It finally cleared up and warmed up some so yesterday I got a little weeding done in one of the flower beds. I haven't been very diligent this year about pulling up my handful or two of clover a day out front where the bluebonnets are and the big back yard is looking more and more like a meadow the spring weeds are so thick. Do we even have any grass left? But I do like seeing it dotted with flowers...10 petal anemones, dandelions, and woodland violets.

shrimp plant blooming

Also Sunday I drew up the floor plan for two of the manufactured houses my sister and I looked at week before last from 1/8” = 1' to 1/2” = 1' so she can make cut outs of her furniture footprints and see what will fit where while she decides what to keep and what to get rid of. It surprised me how much I enjoyed doing that, drawing something up to precise dimensions, something I haven't done since we retired from the etched glass.

So here's what's happening. We're going to put a manufactured home on the shop property for my sister to move in to. Her situation is such that she cannot stay in her house longer than about another year and a half. Neither of her daughters have taken her situation seriously (one lives in New Mexico and the other about an hour away) and after weighing her options she decided to take us up on our offer which makes me happy as I did not want her moving away and makes my daughter happy for the same reason. We're still in the beginning stages, have to find the best house for the best price. We'll have to have a septic system put in though the shop has one but it is so old we have no idea what kind of system it is or if there's a tank involved or just a field line or even where it is and I'm pretty sure the county will insist on a new one. Fortunately we already have water and electricity on the property.

Back to the issue at hand though, Rocky is here today (and I guess til he finishes though you never know) having reached an understanding with the guy on the other job. And the kids didn't finish their move yesterday. One more day, they'll be here tonight so the sooner Rocky gets the bathroom done the better. Or at least gets the toilet and shower functional.

I'd settle for just the toilet.