Friday, June 19, 2009

spazgirl strikes again

Did I think I was good at this? Did I actually think the whole building thing was going off without a major hitch?



The rain (which I asked for, btw) has finally let up and the dove has flown off for good and the earth is beginning to dry, so I celebrated by going out to do some more work on the shed. After all, I can't leave the stupid thing lying in pieces on the grass forever. So I cut a bunch of siding to nail to one of my long walls and of course I start nailing it to the wrong side. Not a really big deal because I designed it to be symmetrical, so right side and wrong side are more of an opinion than a fact. And then I get to the middle of the wall and realize there is nothing to nail the edge of the siding to and, yes, I really did need to add that last stud even though that places a series of three studs 8 inches apart which seemed kind of like overkill for a chicken shed. So we flip the wall over and add the stud and that's when I get the great idea to add the extra studs at the wall to facilitate connecting the walls and provide added support and all that doodoo. So I get out my handy dandy circular saw and cut myself a few studs. No problem. Then I figure that I will cut the studs for the second wall and --although I measured them all at once -- the second set of studs is magically longer than the spot they are going into. How can this be, I wonder to myself. I measured them all at the same time and the first set fit perfectly. They may even have been a hair on the short side. What could be going on???? So I double check. And they really are exactly the same length as the first set. So (and this is where I just want to scream) I measure the wall. And it is an inch too short. And so I scream.

Unfortunately, my kids were outside with me, which prevented me from screaming what was really on my mind (which is spelled a lot like this: $%%$@@$%^&^&%$#$^%$#@@$%$!!!!!). All I could really think to scream was "BOOGERSNOT." Not particularly creative, but it did the trick. And it was really handy later when Nate and I bent about six nails in a row. We could both shout it really loud and I didn't have to feel like the worst parent ever for teaching my kid to say the Really Bad Words.

I couldn't take a picture of my wall being an inch too short or of us screaming boogersnot, so here is a random picture:
Don't ask. Sometimes an explanation doesn't really help.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Anger management issues?

We are in the midst of a terrible nail shortage. A fastener crisis of epic proportions. When I first went to the DIY store, I included on my list two boxes of nice big deck nails. Clearly I have a great regard for these particular nails because I came home to find that we already had three one-pound boxes of the same nails as well as the significant remnants of a five pound box of the same nails. Each box had already been opened and it would appear that each time we thought we needed nails for something, one of us popped off to the store and came back with a nice box of 3 1/2 inch deck nails. This might make sense if we actually had a deck, but we don't and I only wish I knew what we kept using these nails for. Nonetheless, we are nearly out. Not only of the deck nails that we have so carefully stockpiled over the years, but also of the two new boxes I bought most recently. And we are completely out of the slightly smaller deck nails I bought so I could make room for windows and doors. All of this has forced a temporary work stoppage. With just 5 bitty boards left to be nailed into this last wall, all work came to a grinding halt as my husband and I each tried to snatch the last nail from the box. In appreciation for his help in attaching the littlest boards, which I hate doing, I let him have the nail, but I didn't tell him that I had previously swiped most of the remaining nails for my part of the wall. Sorry, dear. As a pennance, I will be the one going to the hardware store for a new box of nails. We'll use three or four of them to finish the project and then we'll start stockpiling anew.
Not all of us were stymied in our construction projects. Below is a fabulous enclosure designed and built by a young carpentry/chicken enthusiast. Having seen a friend's new chicks at school, Nate has been a fountain of information on their care and has made it his personal mission to ensure that our new babies do not scramble away. Here he is demonstrating how it works.

Unfortunately, some members of the family prefer demolition to construction. We recently discovered that the dog likes to play in the water as it sprays out of the hose or the sprinkler. He bites at it and lets it spray him in the face and can keep himself amused in this way for hours. Isn't this cute, we would say. Shouldn't we catch this on video? Really, it is SO amusing. Hahahaha!

Well, look who is laughing now. It would seem that the dog was a little irked when we turned the water off yesterday. He took his anger out on the poor defenseless hose. Or perhaps he believed that he was valiantly risking life and limb to protect us from the evil, venom spewing serpent that lurks in our yard. Either way, the deed is done, the hose is no more (well, actually, it is quite a few more hoses now, but that is not useful to me), and I suppose I should add a new garden hose to my shopping list when I go to the hardware store.

Fie on you, wicked beastie! Look ashamed!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rain Delay

Tactical error: I did the errands yesterday in the misguided belief that it was going to rain and spoil any attempts to build. HA!
Instead, it POURED on us while we stood outside and watched softball. I thought the entire team would drown, but they enjoyed it enough to play two full innings (and for some reason they played better than usual. What's up with that?) before heading home. It continued to rain most of the night and now I am left with some very wet walls and a very wet work surface.

No matter. Today is the flag day celebration at the schools. I have already been to see lots of flags and hear some very talented flute players (and an appalling speech). Next we are off to the primary school for the flag day celebration, which somehow involves teddy bears and picnics. In the mean time, the sun is coming out and hopefully everything will dry up in enough time for me to get back to more of this

and this
before cleaning up my house in preparation for a gaggle of girls (or should they be called a giggle?) who will be sleeping over. Isn't this backwards? Shouldn't I save my energy to clean up after they go home? I'm sure I'll enjoy the clean house a whole lot more than they will.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

True love

Young love comes and goes, but every once in a while it sticks for good. Case in point: Moosie. Moosie has been our one true love for over 8 years now. He is on his fourth or fifth body, having been loved to pieces in the style of the Velveteen Rabbit. With each incarnation, he has sacrificed a few body parts, and the fine fellow who once had four limbs and a pair of ears is now reduced to a bowling pin with a tail. Nonetheless, his absence causes great anguish, as evidenced by a recent poster advertising his loss:
(direct translation: Missing: Moosie, Isabel's favorite toy. Discription (sic): Fat butt, no ears, arms or legs, grey, soft, worn-out, has a nonstuffed neck. Reward: 3$).

With all his flaws, she still wants him back. Recently, it became evident that the poor old man had sprung a leak. Poly pellets were appearing everywhere, sometimes in alarming quantities. After grave deliberations, we concluded that surgery was the only option, although it was stipulated that the services of a top-rated plastic surgeon should be engaged to minimize the scarring.

A gaping hole was discovered in Moosie's internal regions, at which point a replacement part was installed. As promised, scarring was kept to a minimum and several smaller leaks were also repaired.

The old boy is recovering nicely, although the plastic surgeon has ventured to suggest that his days of attempting flight by means of defenestration have come to an end. Alas, that we grow up so soon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A wall, a ball, and a sock that's small

Finally, our first wall. May not look like much, but it took two days of fussing and cutting and hammering and, in my humble opinion, more than my fair share of bendy nails. Matty kept himself busy at the construction site by hammering his initials (or Morse code messages) into the studs with his toy hammer, absconding with the tape measure, and throwing nails. Eventually we brought out the kiddie pool and the hose and things went a little better . . . right up until the dog bit the garden hose and turned it into a soaker hose. Tomorrow we will attempt walls 2 and 3, which are smaller and have no windows to frame.
Tonight was Tball, which is all sorts of fun. First there is batting, which is a collage of golf swings, fishing casts, fly swatting and -- every once in a while -- a swing that actually belongs in a ball game. Tonight's special maneuver involved a batter bonking his own head on the follow through. Fortunately, the players all wear special batting armor to protect themselves from this sort of thing.
Next, there is fielding which looks like this:
and this:

for a very long time.
Some of us occupy the time by creating "dinner art."

Others knit. Only certain items are suitable for Tball knitting. Plain sock = good game knitting, as it is simple and relatively error-proof. (note the emergency stitch marker cleverly made from an overly long fringe on the picnic blanket we were using)

Lace sock = bad game knitting: it requires my full attention and mistakes usually bring on language that might not be suitable for young ears.

What I still can't explain is why the sock on the right, which has more stitches and is meant to fit my giant leg, is SO much smaller than the sock on the left, which is intended for an 11 year old foot.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Floor!!!!

Here we are:
Happy builders--

and Serious Builders.

We have triumphed over the floor, which is straight, square (rectangular really, but the corners are square), level and -- most importantly-- done. It was so cool that some of us could express our joy only through dance.

We are a little behind schedule due to some vital gardening tasks we performed this morning and a road trip we took to my college reunion yesterday. 20 years since graduation and since I had last laid eyes on 3 of the 4 people I went to visit. One of us looked exactly the same (not me) and one of us sounded exactly the same (still not me), but the presence of our children -- all of whom are now much closer to their college years than we are-- prevented there from being any illusion that we were back in the old days. Maybe that's not such a bad thing. I suspect (hope? pray?) we are all more multidimensional now than we used to be.

Next up: we will build walls and maybe spin some of the giant mass of merino fleece we got from our friends and work a little on the shiny new Summer Socks pattern from Cookie A. I stole the yarn for this project from a pair of socks already in progress (if you can call 3 inches in 4 months progress) and I feel like I had better make a good show in the new pair in order to justify the unraveling of a perfectly good -- if slightly dull--lace sock.

Friday, June 5, 2009

This is a big-old-heap-o-lumber. It was delivered this morning without mishap (although I did later drop a heavy part of the saw table on my foot) and I was so overwhelmed I had to go for a walk. After a little fresh air, a long time at the playground, and a little lunch, I was ready to tackle the job. First order of business: gather the assistants.

Assistant #1 is kind of a sucker for safety gear. He flatly refused to work without his eye protection, although pants, shoes and under garments appear to have been optional.
Assistant #2 was an enthusiastic helper, although I'm not sure he really liked the circular saw. His favorite part may have been climbing up on the car so we could get high enough to take "site approval" pictures to email to Daddy. We had some location issues, so we got to do this three times and it never got old.

Amazingly, the spot we chose for The Shed is one of the few almost-perfectly-flat spots in the yard. So far so good. On to some measuring and cutting. Measuring is easy. I have been a quilter for a while now and accuracy down to 1/16 of an inch generally does not freak me out (although fabric clearly allows for a bit more of a fudge factor than wood does). It also turns out that the circular saw is kind of like a giant demon rotary cutter on steroids and we got on surprisingly well together. I made exceedingly clever use of a clamp, a speed square, and a red builder's crayon (though really I got the idea from my shed building book) and all my cuts came out straight and accurate and so I really thought it would be a breeze from there.

And then I ran smack into my nemesis: The Hammer. The Hammer is spiffy and new and was one of my look-how-much-I-know purchases at the beginning of the week. It is a marvelous shiny tool with a comfy fiberglass handle and with one look at it in the store I was totally unable to remember how much I stink at hammering. Add to that that I am using spiral nails and working with pressure treated 2x6 (which feels very dense and doesn't take kindly to being hammered at) and you can just figure that I am screwed. The biggest problem is that the nails are designed to go in and NOT come out, which means that if you stink at hammering and don't always (i.e., almost never) hit the nail squarely and tend to bend and mutilate them, there is still no option but forward. I tried using some of the same language that I learned from the nice gentlemen who framed our house, but it shocked the dog and didn't make the hammering any easier. I had no choice but to resort to the drill. Pilot holes were created, and once the wood knew I was this serious, things went better.

At the end of the day, this is what I have to show for my efforts. It may not look like much progress to someone who actually has some carpentry skills, but I am very pleased with it and I think I will come back tomorrow (or the next day) and add some more stuff to it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Someone must have pushed the easy button

So out we go looking for windows for the shed project, and what should we find but windows. Cheap ones too, and matching and the right size for the "Shed Project" and the price was negotiable. AND nice Heather at Village Glass threw (well, not literally) in half a dozen concrete blocks for good measure. And I was looking for those too. So now I am extremely pleased with myself. Lumber comes tomorrow. I am dead certain that after all my good fortune today, it will either be full of bugs or not at all what I ordered or will be dropped on my foot. You get the idea. Conservation of Happiness: there is only so much to go around.

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

In which we are bold and courageous, but still fail to buy lumber

Okay, so I made numerous lists this morning and did not resort to housework as a means of avoiding new experiences. I collected my courage and my lists and went to see the nice people at Matthews and Fields lumber, where they drew up a materials list for me and gave me a quote of . . . $735. After stuttering and sputtering and looking generally like I really didn't know that was coming (and I didn't; like I said, we are not a building people and this is kind of new for me), I fled the building and called my husband to bemoan the unexpectedly high price of building materials. After receiving from him many different versions of "could we please stop pinching pennies and start doing something fun," it occurred to me that perhaps I had an unrealistic idea of the cost of lumber in general (and grooved plywood siding in particular, which was coming in at $42/sheet). After all, if we thought it was a great deal to have paid $400 for a leather upholstered chair and if we had no problem understanding that a tiny little spinning wheel could cost $500 or that a bunk bed could cost over $600, why should I be so shocked that it would cost me over $700 to make an entire building?

Having adjusted my expectations--and gotten a tolerably cheaper quote from another lumber yard-- I am on the verge of ordering lumber to be delivered for the "Shed Project." Although, I have to admit that as confident as I was that we could figure out a way to build a decent shed with $300 of materials, I am feeling a little more intimidated by the idea of making my carpentry debut on $600 worth of wood. Here's a chicken for courage:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In which we fail to buy lumber

Here is a small house. Very cute, and just right for the "Chicken Project" the family is about to embark on.

Alas, the house costs $1300. A bit pricey for a few eggs.

Aha, we say, let's build our own!

Phase I of the "Shed Project" involved a great deal of research, mostly involving reading library books. We did however buy a book of our own, which contains fabulous pictures of romantic barns and very charming sheds. None of them looks like this picture.

Phase II (a Monday, of course): Panic ensues.
All people who have forced neighbors to tear down offending structures for failure to meet zoning requirements (and yes, the neighbors really were trying to pull a fast one) labor under the secret fear that they will be punished in like measure. So part of me felt that it was inevitable that my tiny little shed project (48 square feet) should be subject to the permit process. Descriptions, drawings, construction specifications and instrument surveys would all be scrutinized. My husband, who evidently does not fear cosmic judgment, thought this was silly and he called the building inspector, who confirmed that structures under 50 square feet (YES!) are not his problem.

Phase III: Sketches and lists.
Softball games are good for this kind of thing, because you can be there, but your full attention is not really required. The result was 6 pages of drawings, most of which are wildly inaccurate due to the absence of any actual windows to plan around. So I'm guessing, which probably is not the way professionals do it.

Phase IV: Materials are not purchased.
After a great deal of cowardly procrastination (we are not a building people, and housework suddenly seemed vitally important this morning), we went to the big box store with a list of materials for the foundation and floor. Not the whole project, because that would be an undertaking of mind-boggling complexity and would never fit in the car. Just a small list of some supplemental tools and basic joist/flooring supplies. Still under the influence of my I'm-not-a-builder-and-everyone-will-know-and-laugh-at-me jitters, I took great care in selecting a cart, which turned out to be the wrong kind. As a warm up, I grabbed a whole bunch of tools. Matty tested out mallets, and decided that they suit his look very well.

I decided that a reciprocating saw (if I am nice to it, will it be nice to me?) and a new framing hammer made me look in-the-know. We added some spiffy builders crayons and a speed square for good measure, and went to get lumber.

Which they do not carry at this store. So, tomorrow we will repeat the process and head off to a real live lumber yard to order heaps and heaps of lumber and plywood and other shed type things. The nice people at the lumber yard will even deliver the goods to our house, which will solve the problem of how on earth to haul 7 sheets of plywood home in a minivan.

p.s. They really don't recommend that you drive people around on these lumber carts. Wonder why?