Painted doors, new locks and sharper axes

November 26, 2017

The dense foam rollers did a great job on my metal doors.  I don’t see any brush strokes on the finish. My aunt stopped by today and she thought I had installed a new door so I guess that job is complete!

Of course now that the door looks new, all of the door hardware needs to be updated  I’m change to a lever handle rather than using the twist knob type of hardware.  The lever type door hardware is much easier for me to operate when my hands go wonky or when carrying stuff inside the house.  The original door knobs from when I moved in are starting to get loose inside because of wear and tear of the last couple of decades since installation.  I can’t afford to do a full security retro-fit but I can add much longer screws to the lock plates and tie them into the door studs rather than using the short screws that just drill into the door frame.  I can’t stop someone determined to get in but I can make them take a bit more time and be a bit more noisy if they want Breaking and entering my house.

Mom and I are slowly gathering new curtain and blind hardware around the windows.  I have picked up several of the round decorative curtain rods to replace the old rectangle/cheap rods.  Adding the new rods will make opening up the curtains much easier compared to what I am using at this time.  With new windows I want it to be easy to open up and see outside.

I got my hatchet and single bit ax sharpened up.  I generally use the single bit ax to cut kindling and split the bigger chunks of wood.  While some people claim a dull ax is better for splitting wood I disagree.  A sharp ax is like a sharp knife as it safer and more effective cutting wood.  I also found out why my splitting wedge just “bonked” off chunks of wood.  There was no sharpen edge on the ax edge at all.  I have seen garden shovels with more of a cutting edge than this splitting maul had on it.  I assumed that a “splitting wedge” ax would have at least a some sort cutting edge but I was wrong.  It’s not all bad news, as now I will have to get some files and learn how to put a cutting edge on an ax.

Another lesson learned splitting soft woods like pine or Douglass fir, it is best to split from the outside/bark side in and with harder woods like maple it’s best to start in the middle and go with the grain to split from the inside out toward the bark outside.  This an early theory of mine as my wood splitting time is  physically limited but so far it seems to have proved out on splitting fruit woods I have on hand.  The maple wood that I have at with an ax will split easily if I go with the grain of the wood.

I have not tried the newly sharpened hatchet on the “mill ends” to make kindling.  It will be an interesting test to see how the hatchet does going through a mix of  hard and soft woods used for “mill ends” I had delivered.

The new Kitty Cottage seems to be water-resistant if not water tight.  The food bowl is getting emptied and the water bowl is easy  for Mom and I too clean and refill.   So far it has been very warm this fall compared to last year so a warm enclosed sleeping spot has not been a high priority for the cats.  The cats are still showing up for mice/ hunt the little birds and have a guaranteed meal of kitty kibble.  All the cats have to evade is my small house dogs.  Most of these cats look very healthy so they may have owners that simply let them roam.  As they say cats don’t have owners, they have staff!

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New paint rollers and BBQing the turkey

November 22, 2017

I got some of those dense foam paint rollers for painting the entry doors and giving a smooth finished look.  I’ll use a fine grit sanding block to knock down the paint strokes and get a smooth surface area for the paint.  Once the paint is done all that is left is to add the new door hardware then most of the House exterior jobs will be complete except for the gutter covers.  One very nice thing my siding guy did is dump out all the gutters and place the gutter at the correct angle for water flow, as he did the siding so the house is ready for winter.  Water dams should be less problematic this winter!

I changed up my easy access charcoal storage method to a small galvanized trash can.  The size of the trash can is perfect for holding the 40 pounds of chunk charcoal though the bag had some darn big chunks that were almost small logs.  This should work out great for making a good layer of  coals for cooking the turkey.  FYI if you brine and BBQ a turkey the meat take on a pink color so use a meat thermometer to insure you reach at least 165 degrees F. for a done turkey and let the bird rest in tinfoil, breast down for at least 20-30 minutes before carving.  While the bird is cooking I rotate it every 15-20 minutes and flip it every hour of cooking to ensure even cooking.  I keep a small pan under the bird to catch the drippings as well as add liquid to steam the bird during cooking.  You can add White wine, dark beer or vegetable stock the the pan to help cook the bird.  By BBQing  your bird you free up the oven to bake pies, rolls or casserole type dishes.  Leftovers: If you have any the shredded turkey meat makes great sandwiches or turkey tacos.   Trust me if you brine and BBQ a turkey you won’t get dry and tasteless white meat.

For the turkey brine figure about 1 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar per gallon of  liquid.  I like using Apple cider for my liquid and then you can go nuts on spices you like for flavor.  Get your turkey out of the brine and give it about 30 minutes to warm to room temp before you throw it on the grill.  This is the time to add oils and spices to the bird directly.  I never have BBQed a “stuffed bird” but adding a few sprigs of rosemary, bay leaf, cloves of garlic or raw veggies to the cavity can add a lot of flavor.  If you must have turkey infused stuffing I’d get a small fire safe pan and place it below the turkey during the last hour/ 30 minutes of BBQing  to catch the drippings then stuff the bird during it’s rest time.

BBQing a turkey is very simple but it is not as easy as throwing it in a roasting pan in an oven.


Critter beds and painting the doors

November 20, 2017

We got rain and a bit of wind the last couple of days and the kitty cottage did okay though I need to add a bit more wood to finish up the boxes.  I added a couple of those throws to the boxes and the kitties can “knead” the blankets into place.  The boxes are still a bit exposed but most feral/alley cats are very keen to have a good view at all times.

I bought a little pet bed and set it out for Tucker the little peke and he loves it!  Now the little guy can have a place in the computer room and not worry about getting stepped on.  Plus he always seemed to be sensitive to drafts and cooler temps.  In just one day of having his own little place for keeping warm and not getting stepped on when he naps. Tucker is much more relaxed and that has started to go through our little pack of dogs.

I bought a foam paint roller for finishing up the doors and a fine grade sanding square.  I want a smooth semi-gloss finish to the door paint with no brush strokes trails.  Some folks like that brush stroke look,  I think for the “Craftsman” look I want, a more clean/finished look is best. I’m pricing projectors for Xmas lights rather than hanging Xmas lights until I get a handle on the new siding.  Drilling or poking holes at random on my new house siding seems to be contra-indicated.

So far stocking up on Ice melt, snow blower and building up the driveways and wood racks has worked to appease the snow gods!  It will be some what damp for Thanksgiving but the high temps are in high 50-60 F. degree range.  You all in the Great lakes and NE are going to get hammered but so far the Inter-mountain West are getting off easy for the weather.  I ain’t getting cocky as the Cold tends to hit in January.  I’ve prepared as best I can and all I can do is wait and see what mama nature throws at me.

One great thing is the thanksgiving turkey will be cooked at the BBQ at almost 60 degree F. weather rather than freezing  weather like last year. Maintaining 325-350 F. on the BBQ is going to be easy in 50 +F. degree weather.  Usually I prefer snow to rain gbut after last year I’m good with rain after dropping drainage rock in the Driveway but I’m ready for the ice.


Stitches removed, Kitty cottage built

November 18, 2017

Stitches were  removed on the 17th of November.  That was great as the stitches were starting to pull on the skin and were uncomfortable.  I still need wash the cut with soap and water and bandage twice a day but the pain has gone to down to minor annoyance levels and that is when I bonk it.  I really like using Doc in the Box for low cost treatment and speed of service.  My office visits and suture removal was only $60.00 cash so overall I think the $900.00 total cost was not bad though it really ate into my “Emergency fund”.  Well that is what an emergency fund is for i.e Emergencies.  Gosh if I had just walked into an Emergency Room and got care in 2-6 hours it would have cost at least a grand and gone up from there as a starting point if I was lucky.  My 10 day course of antibiotics only cost $18.00 at the Pharmacy because I paid cash.  Government and Insurance approved health care is very expensive!

Any hoo, I got out today and built the little kitty cottage for the cats hanging around.  The cottage still need a bit of detail work but it should weather resistant if not weather proof.  The cat we call “Dakota” watched me build and then ate a bit a food and checked out the area before going on her rounds.  I will probably need to make adjustment but at this time the area is out of the wind and somewhat insulated.  We have provided food and water.  Plus I built a platform for the cats to soak up the sun.

Mom to a spill and her ribs are a bit bruised so I had to get in wood and set the wood in a place she did not bend or get hit with much weight.  Taking a hard hit in the rib cage muscles makes even breathing sore and bending over to lift any weight can be brutal.

I loaded up the porch wood rack section with all small hardwood Mom likes for keeping the fire going.  The wood is about hip tall on her so that is an easy grab for her even with her rib ouchies.   I stocked up little fruit wood logs and some of the dried maple I could split.  I think I got a white maple but if it is wet it won’t split but if it it dry it will split easily just using a basic ax.   On the wet maple my sharp ax just buries itself into the wood and my not so sharp maul just “bonks” off the wood.  I need to sharpen my maul!  One thing I did notice if the maple wood is dry it is very easy to split.  After dealing with twisty Elm that is a blessing.  On burning dried poplar it seems about as warm as elm but a bit less ash.  but I had a lot of bark on my elm and no bark on the poplar.

I’m doing my best to prepare for winter.  I have 200 pound + of sand.  100+ pounds of salt.  I bought a snow blower and have added drainage rock too the drive ways around the shop.

Mom got an accepted bid on a small house and acreage in Marsing/Owyhee County.  Nothing is done until the paperwork is done but it looks like Mom will buy a small home and acreage in Marsing.  The paper work should be complete around the end of December.   I’m so excited for her to get a place with some land but still in town so she feels somewhat safe.  She can clean up the house and move in the stuff in the storage sheds when she has stuff prepped.  While I don’t want to get nasty,  my shop might actually become a work shop and not a storage area.

Great things coming at casa de chaos!


Lots of little jobs done on the to do list

November 15, 2017

I got most of the blinds up and most of the curtains got a wash and rehung.  I can make some adjustments on curtains as Mom found a great curtain rod for my big window at a 2nd hand store.  I cleaned the blinds by setting them in the tub with very hot water and Dawn dish soap.  That cleaned off most of the tar/smoke stains with just a bit of scrubbing via a sponge or brush.  The small bathroom blinds cleaned up great and getting new replacement brackets has worked out great for the new window.  The nice thing about blinds as they can let in light but not let people look in.

I cleaned up my front porch light using a little CLR and a scrubby sponge.  The glass globe around the light cleaned up real good.  When I repainted the front door I saw how weathered the door hardware had become and it needs replacing.  I want levers rather than knobs to open my doors and for about $60.00 I can replace both doors hardware with a finish that will look good with the grey door up front and the red door in back.  Once I know the cost of stitch removal this weekend I’ll know what I can afford to retro-fit the access doors.  I may not be able to do a full security retro fit but I sure as hell can buy/install screws into my homes studs.

I did a of cleanup or at least moved all the trash wood away.  I want to build a good cat cottage for the roaming alley cat mousers.  I’ll re-purpose some wood crates and build a nice cedar wood basking area for the cats above the compost heap. Add a little radiant barrier for insulation and you have a great little kitty cottage. I saved some metal from the contractor so I should be able to make a dry sleeping space for the kitties.


House is holding heat great and a stitches update

November 11, 2017

I have been blown away by how well the house holds heat since the windows and siding are complete.  My computer room now gets into the mid-70’s F. and retains the heat even after the wood stove burns out.  Of course it has not turned to cold in the valley since all the work was done but with the old windows heat would just leak out if we did not have plastic on the windows.  Mom and I are using a lot of the mill ends and smaller limbs for small fires and just to keep the firebox going through the day.  The only problem with that sort of fire is I’ll need to buy more of the mill ends for the rest of winter (for kindling) and too use next spring.  I have the materials for another wood rack and one more load of wood ordered for delivery this month.  That last load should fill up the main wood storage area and I’m storing the mill ends in a separate area that is easy access for adding more wood if needed this winter of spring.

I started painting the front door a grey semi-gloss that matches the color of the gables and frame work around the windows.  It is going to take a couple of coats of paint to cover up the old red door.  The worst part is the old door hardware looks kind of terrible against the new paint.  I have been looking at new locks and door levers rather than just the standard knobs.  Eventually I’d like to change all the doors to the lever type handles as they look great and are much easier for me to operate with my CIDP.  One thing I have become aware of since getting disabled is how much easier life can be if you retro fit faucets, door handles and other (ADA approved) hardware.  What is great is most of the hardware has a retro-look that fits with me going back to the original look of a 1910-20’s Craftsman House.

Update on the stitches: Every thing is looking good according to the doc in a box.  In a week I’ll get the stitches removed though it may take up to 6 weeks the cut to fully heal and give me another interesting scar.  The Doc in a box even asked where I got the bandage I was using to cover the cut.  The Walgreen’s brand of 3 inch x 4 inch knee/elbow bandage works great for covering a large cut and is very easy to apply.  I’m not sure if this is correlation or causation but when I started using Curad’s Anti-microbial silver solution  I noticed a significant reduction of pain around the injury site compared to using the little packets of anti- Bacterial cream I got from Doc in a box.  I believe but can not prove that the silver solution gel made a huge difference on how quickly this cut started healing.

Not to much more to add other than I got some tree limbs to cut up, more leaves to clean up and I have to install all of my solar motion lights.


The Siding is finished!

November 6, 2017

OMG the siding looks great!  The guy that installed the siding, trim and soffits worked everyday including weekends from 9 AM till dark to finish the job.  Everyday he cleaned up the cut up siding materials so the pets did not walk over cut metal or vinyl siding.

We all hear stories of bad contractors but I have had great contractors, so far and those craftsman that do a great job need more good recommendations as they are a treasure.

Once I clean up the yard and paint the exterior doors to match the new paint scheme. I’ll post pics of the finished job.  My Contractor was a bit dubious about the red corner post I demanded but after seeing it today he loves the look of it.  My siding guy said the house looked like a throw back to the “Americana” look.  Rather than using a glaring Red, White and Blue, I chose muted tones of barn red, cape cod grey and a subdued blue.  No pale pastels but colors that are strong but weathered and with a history.

I recommend you always get at least 3 contractors to bid a job and check out their references.  Once you find a good contractor then you ask who they would recommend for other jobs like electrical.  I found several great companies that do work homes but I also did the work of getting several bids before any work was done.  Most of the bids I accepted were in the mid-range price wise.  Remember if it sounds to good to true it probably is not true.  Learn some DIY skills and be familiar with the cost of basic materials for home maintenance.  I’m still learning how to do stuff around the house but I know the basic costs of materials needed to do a job.  These things take some effort on your part but it will save you a lot of money long term.

On to my stitches in my upper left hip area or my butt. While a bit extreme it does show how a simple fall can screw everything up as a prepper.  I’m probably going to pay around a grand on this medical issue.  At this time that is cheap as I’m using a “Doc in a Box” and did not go into an Emergency room.  I went to Walgreen’s and bought the biggest most flexible bandages on sale.  Athletic tape is not the best tape to use when you have a gash with stitches though I think it would be great for splints.  I’m probably replacing the bandage twice a day after washing with soap and water.  That may be more than what is needed but it is my ass I’m protecting and me not getting sick from infection.  So I’ll spend a bit extra on not getting an infection.  The tetanus shot did not set a flare up of my CIDP.  Though I do seem a bit sleepy and less energetic.   Well it is to be expected after taken a big physical hit.

Tried out the Walgreen’s 4×4 absorbent/drainage bandage.  Wow, this is a great bandage as it has a double thickness of gauze area over the wound. Also very easy to apply. Hey if I do dumb stuff at least I learn how to treat it.  You all can learn without doing my dumb stuff.