Moving earth

There is a small area in front of our house that had bushes and some vining ground cover.  Mel has wanted a seating area out there for a while so I did that project this weekend.  The area is bout 3′ X 6′. On day one, I cut the bushes, pulled and replanted the ground cover then moved the roots and about 6 inches of dirt.  Day 2 I started moving and setting stones.  I used the old concrete blocks I had collected for making a back porch.  It took me the better part of the day to set the stones, fill in the dirt then put the left over dirt in the garden and clean up.

Kitchen Project

The largest project I have taken on would probably be the kitchen from our house on Odie St.  The house was build in the 1960s and the kitchen had never been updated.  The deep reddish-brown lacquered wood with pounded copper hardware.  The washer and dryer were in the same area and acted as pseudo-counter space.  Tile counter top was falling apart and the plumbing was a mess.  I bought the unfinished cabinets when we moved in with some of the money we made from selling our previous home.  They sat in the front room for about a year but the day came for the project.

With my father and brother helping, we tore out the entire kitchen, cut the old plumbing part of which was moving the washer and dryer to the other side of the wall which happened to be the garage.  The walls were patched and covered wit a coating of Kilz to cover the bug problem.  All cabinets and counter top were installed.  This was all done over 4 days.  Later, my wife and I finished the cabinets and finished all the painting.

This was the result.  The red was chosen to be a dramatic accent to neutral cabinets.  What you don’t really see are the details added.  All the places on the wall were covered with a textured paintable wallpaper.  The cabinet finish has an antiquing in all the crevices and there is molding on top and bottom.  The layout was designed with space and efficiency in mind.  I really missed that.

So, what do you do with the dirty dishes during the project?

And what do you do with the old, very large and heavy cast iron sink that was replaced?

Here is the entire project.

Bathroom Project

Here’s an oldie but goodie.  This is one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog in the first place.  We moved into this house in 2003.  When I went over to check it out, I noticed the toilet would fill the take every minute or so.  This means there is a leak and that you are wasting money.  So I decided to go to Home Depot and get a new refill valve and get that fixed.  While doing that, I notice bot the tank and the bowl had cracks.  Might as well change the whole thing.  Since it was old, that meant sawing off the bolts holding it to the floor and when I got done, I realized I had to replace the toilet flange.  Uh oh.
Seeing that the project was getting bigger, I took a closer look at the whole project.  The shower head came up to my chest, the tub did not drain, the sink valves were rusted shut and there was no plug in the room.  I took a hammer to it and decided a fresh start was in order.
Keep in mind that I was working and going to school  full time and my wife and I had just had our second child.  I got to work on the bathroom about an hour a week on average.  So my 10 minute project took me almost a year and a half to complete.  I learned how to do tile floors and walls, set a toilet, sink and tub and rewire.  I got the tub for about $500 (huge whirlpool type) and the tile was about $1800 or so.  I spent more on this tiny little 5’X6′ room than I did on our kitchen remodel.  That is a whole other story.

@0# #@$% Phone Jacks

A little while back the phone jacks in the house stopped working. I called AT&T who came out and took a look. Seems the trouble is on the inside, so I either pay them $200/hr to fix it or do it myself. Those nifty new boxes have a test jack, so my “temporary” fix was to run a 15 ft cord from there to the inside. There, problem solved. Fast forward a year (see temporary) and the poor phone wire has been abused through repeated window openings and closings. The internet is out and I decide it’s time to rewire.

My father-in-law has an abundance of phone and networking wire, so I borrowed the box and sussed out the situation. Getting into the attic, I see where the wire comes in from the box…waaaayyy over in the corner in a space impossible to fit a small adult female, let alone a hulking example of manhood like myself. Clearly these wires were put in at the time of construction. Using metal fish tape that I used to rewire our last house and little patience, I get the tip in a small hole I drilled near the phone box. I tape on the wire and reel it in. Step one is complete.

I run the wire across to an “easier” location to add the jack, in the front room where there is plenty of space in the attic. It takes me a bit to figure out exactly where to drill in to get it where I want it. I try pushing the fish tape and wire in, only to find this is one of the few walls they put insulation in. The temp is rising and I’m losing my patience. I cut a hole in the wall where the jack is going to go and get the extending handle from one of our mops. I jam and push, wiggle and mash till I have a path for the wire to travel. I start pushing it in hoping to get enough in by luck when I hear my youngest daughter yelling she sees something in the wall. Success. Step two complete.

Next I wire in the jack. Dark blue to red, light blue to green. Do the same at the box and test the phone. No good. Plug the connected wire into the test jack so the new wires are connected and test. No good. Check all the wires, colors match, screws tight. On a whim, I change one set to have the dark blue on green and light blue on red reversing the order of the jack. Success. Step three complete.

Next I move the modem/router to the plug. Of course, I am now short a phone wire. With a little digging I find a tiny 4″ wire so I get it all plugged in. No interwebs. Making the call to AT&T, the router shows there is an error. It could be the power supply or the router itself. Rather than buy those things right away, I check my wire bin to see what I have. I just happen to have a power supply that puts out the correct voltage, but the the connector is the wrong size. I clip the working tip and add it to my new power supply and…nothing. I pull the tip off, reverse the wires (it worked before) and…SUCCESS! The router powers on and shows interwebs. Turn on the computer and waiting, waiting, waiting…low connectivity. AAARGH!!.

To give you a little insight, there is an unsecured wireless signal somewhere nearby. I did not know my router was having trouble for a week because the computer just hooks up to that network. I don’t know where it is, but it always seems to be on and it is pretty fast. I have to assume it is outside of my house, so it is through walls and many feet away. The new jack and my old router are 30 feet away with one sheetrock half wall to get through. JEEBUS!

So, I signed up for Time Warner to have them come out and put some jacks in and have them as my phone and internet for a while.

Update:  As part of my attempt to get the connection working, I installed the updated AT&T self repair tool which also installed their network connection software.  I decided to go back to using Windows to connect and voila problem solved.  Strange that a company’s software cannot work with its own hardware.