Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Wrap Up

Two years, 123 days. There have been eight hundred, fifty four days that we have owned the House of 42 Doors. My blogging has become more sporadic and less passionate. We are settling into the house and the house is settling into us. What originally seemed strange and wondrous has become normal and mundane.

What we accomplished this year pales in comparison to what we accomplished in 2008, but for the record, here is the list:

  • Finished up the kitchen ceiling (after the waste pipe replacement in 2008).
  • Plugged crack after crack in the basement with Great Stuff foam. Last year's basement temperature was 48 degrees. This year's its 58. Progress!
  • Stripped the calcimine from the bathroom and painted it.
  • Replaced the tub/shower drain.
  • Ripped up some of the attic floor and sealed some of the air leaks. More work needed here.
  • Painted and patched the office.
  • Distributed 90% of the huge compost pile to the garden.
  • Planted a garden.
  • Repaired, scraped and painted the beadboard soffit.
  • Built a storm window holder.
  • Put in 75 yews for a hedge.
  • Took out several honeysuckles to make room for said hedge.
  • Painted the dining room red (and interestingly, both Ms. Huis and I have gained weight this year).
  • Removed all the calcimine paint from the guest room. Patching and painting to follow.
  • Painted the back dormer.
  • Repaired and painted the back porch gutters.
  • Built an igloo (it only lasted a week - I'm no Eskimo).

Next year we'll be looking at repairing our last two roofs and maybe replacing the front entry gutters. When those are repaired that will be the end of the exterior repairs to the house.

Here's hoping you had a great 2009 and have a fantastic New Year's!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Last Lecture

Last Tuesday I started reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. It was a gift from a co-worker a few months ago and I was looking for something short to read before bed. I didn't finish it that night, but I did get a good way through it. It is a good book and worth the read. It is a thoughtful book that can lead to self examination and life re-alignment.

The next day I received word that my previous boss had died Tuesday night/Wednesday morning from pancreatic cancer.

I had known he was sick and that his time was near the end, but the timing of it all only underscored the message in the book. None of us know how long we have. Remember your dreams. Try and achieve them. I've been blessed in the last few years to fulfill a few of mine. They don't need to be grand. Sometimes they are small.

Like building an igloo.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Igloo Update

For all those people out there who have two properties, it doesn't take long before upkeep and maintenance on the other property begins to take focus away from the primary one. I'm sad to report that my igloo has some serious structural deficiencies.

Last weekend it rained slightly and reached 32 degrees. The result was that my igloo has bowed in appreciably on the north side. It has also shrunk. When I built the igloo, it was a little over six feet in diameter and a little over six feet high. Now the height is probably closer to four feet and with the wall bowed in, I have probably lost two to three feet in diameter. The door, which was never big to begin with is just barely tall enough for me to wiggle in on my belly.

My spacious igloo is feeling a bit claustrophobic. But the kids still love it. One of the neighbors told her husband that he wouldn't be granted a Dad of the Year award until he built his kids an igloo. :)

With the shrinkage, I'm now considering how my next igloo could be improved. Maybe made out of ice? Or maybe if I packed the snow tighter? Maybe I could make it bigger to allow for shrinkage? And of course all of this means I'm not thinking about the House of 42 Doors. I suppose its a good cautionary tale on why I probably shouldn't buy a rental property until after I have the House of 42 Doors fixed up. Maybe sometime in 2025.

[Ms. Huis Herself says: You can see bowed-in side here.]

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Other House is an Igloo

It's rare that we get the chance to fulfill a childhood dream when we are adults. Usually we outgrow those dreams, or the impossibility of the dream becomes all too apparent when the naivete of youth is stripped away.

When I was a little boy I had a blue plastic block, about 6" by 6" by 12". There was a picture on the front of it with a little boy in a heavy parka. He had the fur lined hood up and had a huge smile on his face. In the background was a perfectly domed igloo.

I don't remember if that toy was a birthday present, a Christmas present or a "just because" present, but when I saw it, I immediately wanted to build an igloo. And for several winters I tried, but it never worked. The snow was either too dry, too powdery, too wet or too little. And the amount of work involved was probably too great for a six to eight year old boy anyway.

Tuesday night we saw 16 inches of snow dumped on us. We went from late fall to winter in the course of 24 hours. The first batch of snow was heavy and wet, followed by drier, more powdery snow. When I went out to play in it Wednesday morning, I saw that the bottom six inches had been insulated by the top 10 inches. It was still wet and sticky, even though the air temperature was around 27 or 28 degrees.

I knew this was it. The perfect situation to build an igloo. So I went inside and dumped the toys out of six bins our girls use for toys and set to building an igloo.

It took about five hours. I did the first half by myself, but the second half was a full family effort with Ms. Huis packing the blocks and the girls delivering them to me inside the igloo. The inside is about seven feet in diameter and it is just under seven feet tall. It doesn't look much like the perfect domed igloo on my long gone blue plastic block, but I'm still thrilled with it.

I get a smile on my face every time I think about it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Standards? I scoff at your petty standards

Here's hoping that everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We did. It's why I didn't post last week.

I started a long post about blogging and Internet anonymity, but I've come to the end of the day and ran out of time so...

We have a leaky faucet. I took it apart to fix it. It needs a new brass nut because some moron put on a steel one a long time ago. Guess what? Steel + water + time = rusted and broken nut.

So I went to the local hardware store (and I mean local as in locally owned, not local as in the big box store that is around the corner) and went to their two aisles of various bolts, nuts and screws. They had about 12 square feet assigned to brass bolts, nuts and screws and guess what? I couldn't find one that fit.

Why is nothing standard in this house?