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Saturday, September 24, 2005

September 24, 2005

So it's been more than a month...

...since my last post, which is not exactly what I'd like to say. But, such is life, I guess.

Anyway, much has transpired since the last installment. Of course, not necessarily in the way I'd like to present, but much has taken place nonetheless.

Autumn Has Arrived!

Well, as of the other day, it's officially fall. This is most definitely a change, I have to say, on more than one front. For starters, it means that the hustle-and-bustle of summertime is finally (and officially) gone and things wind down some. That's positive news. On the flipside, however, it means that all those other outdoor projects need to be wrapped up before too long (after all, we're now in the official 'Snow Season' of MN).

An End to the Summer...

After my last post, we took time to do the traditional end-of-summer stuff -- do a little pre-fall shopping (a trip to a place we don't often go to), etc. Weekends seemed to be packed with various activities and whatnot. Probably the most memorable was our trip (over labor day weekend) to the State Fair. I had personally never been there before (although I'd driven by the fairgrounds) the three days we spent there were definitely a good time. Of course, having an actual [private] place to keep our stuff (and relax) on the fairgrounds was a huge benefit. Made things a whole lot more palatable, especially on the evening it rained.

Anyway, after the long weekend at the State Fair, we went back to the grindstone...

Bathroom Status

Every time I write one of these, I look back at (at least) the most recent post to see if there's anything I need to address in the follow-up. My words came back to haunt me this time. In the August 14 post, I stated "I'm fairly convinced that within two weeks we'll have a completely painted bathroom..."

Umm, yeah...

Obviously this wasn't the case. However, I can say that it wasn't exactly the case either. We were quite busy the following two weeks from that post, but I still managed to take some time here and there to finish up the drywall sanding and preparations. I even managed to get some of the other drywall fixes taken care of (namely in the alcove where we'd previously installed the vanity) which had already been painted.

I don't recall exactly when I finished the sanding portion of the project (but I have to say that wet sanding beats the hell out of dry sanding), but as of today (with the exception of the ceiling), every non-floor surface in the bathroom is either painted or has been primed. The only times I've been able to work on the ceiling (for priming/painting) have been in the evenings. Due to the fact I need to place dropcloths and whatnot around the room (and I still need light without the overhead fixture on), the dropcloth-light contact is not a good thing. Moral of the story is that the ceiling is ready to be primed/painted but hasn't because it's always been getting dark when I get to that project. One of these days (in the short term), I'll get that done in the light (so I don't need artificial light).

I also took the opportunity during the priming to remove the window jamb and lower sash so I could replace the pane of glass. A crack had formed (it was always there) and over the course of a year had spread across the pane. I've procured the glass replacement, but just haven't done the swap and re-glazing quite yet. This is likely to happen this upcoming week (see more about the upcoming week below).

So, in all actuality the bathroom really is progressing. Unfortunately, sans paint, it will not be in a showerable state until after I get the window reinstalled and trimmed out (due to the shower surround needing to be cut near the window). But, we're planning a trip soon to get door and window trim as well as baseboard. Finally, the end is near...

Outdoor Status

Well, unfortunately, the second coat of window trim paint has still not yet been applied and the storm windows are not yet completely ready to go. Compound this with a recent influx (over the last month) of insects claiming the lit (at night) side of the house as 'home' and it was obvious to hold off on a second coat of paint and storm installation until after a thorough house washing has been completed.

I am procuring a powerwasher tomorrow (Sunday) for some time, and thereafter the house will get cleaned. Hooray!

I also took some time today to finally work on the storm windows I'd previously removed (and an extra I found in the basement). I set up a small shop operation in the garage and went to work with the scraping, sanding, and removal of deteriorated glazing compound. It's the latter which was truly the needed part in most cases, although the scraping didn't hurt at all. smile

For the three storm windows, they're ready to be glazed, primed and painted. Then comes the fun part -- installation! It's a real Pain In The Ass to do, but it's done now and the easy part is left (for those I've got available). So, after I powerwash the house, I will then put a second coat of trim paint up and do all the storm window stuff (and deal with the lower bathroom sash replacement). This means I can get at least the back half of the house ready for wintertime.

And speaking of which, I took the time today to cut back the large, overgrown bush objects in the front of the house (namely the two which were preventing me easy access to the front windows). This is a little bit on the early side, but time is no longer on my side. I'm holding off on starting the furnace as long as I can (more about that below)...partially because I would like the windows to be ready for the wintertime before I start paying out the ass to heat the house (fortunately the house (for its age) is relatively efficient and sealed or sealable).

I didn't take down the storm windows in bad need of attention just yet (I figure I'll wait until after I do the washing and other stuff), but I now have decent access to those areas and will be able to do it in a fairly short order.

While I was outside today (namely before/after I did the bush cutting), I took some time to clean out/organize our little tool shed in the backyard. It was getting quite crowded it seemed and just needed some organizational TLC. I didn't really sweep it out (I'm holding off on that for a while yet since I'm still actively mowing the lawn) just yet, but there's now room to store everything (and then some) AND be able to walk around. This is clearly a Good Thing.

I bought some grass fertilizer (why I need this is another question entirely -- it grows enough as is it seems) and winterizer/weed killer last weekend. This is mostly for the weed killer effect (the idea is to kill the weeds off before everything dies for the winter, thus taking it longer to arrive in the springtime since the root structures will have been killed off) I can fire up my spreader here shortly after the next lawnmowing (which will be soon).

CTAM Conference

I know this seems thrown in here (and to a degree, it is), but I don't want to forget about it. Last weekend (September 16-17), the Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota held its annual conference in Mankato, MN. For various reasons (namely the fact that I'm a Theatre Educator by doing One-Act), I decided to go. Furthermore, Beth wanted to go due to her involvement with One-Act/Speech in the past and in the future.

So, we took the opportunity to do something different by attending this event. I have to say that I had a really good and educational time. Once I take a test, I will be registered as a Speech/One-Act judge by the MSHSL (State High School League). I am doing this mostly for myself...and saying that I can. smile

But anyway, we sat in on many neat and varied sessions throughout the conference time and had a good time. I was able to see and meet some familiar names/faces in the crowd and would have to say that, assuming the conference schedule is appealing next year, I will intend to attend again (say that ten times fast).

Heating Time!

As I noted before, I'm trying to hold off as long as possible before starting up (or switching on, rather) the furnace. I am really not looking forward to buying fuel this year due to that whole fiasco with prices (which is another reason I'm holding off on starting it since I will shortly thereafter need to get fuel).

So, this is a good time to work on making things a little tighter around here so Matt doesn't have to buy as much fuel this season. I've done a few things thus far (and intend to do more as the next weeks commence), and hopefully will see some sort of return on this adjustment.

The first and probably most cool thing I've done is replaced the old thermostat. I figure this will also be the single most cost-effective thing I can do as well. I've thought about this for some time, but while we were at Home Depot in St. Cloud/Waite Park a month or so ago, I noticed that they had several [Honeywell] models on sale. I figured I'd spend anywhere between $50-80 for a replacement thermostat, and it just so happens that the model I chose (normally $85, sale price $55) fell into that category.

It's quite a neat device. It is programmable to four different 'time periods' per day, for three different 'day types' (e.g. weekday, Saturday, Sunday). And it's automatic. But one of the coolest things I like about it is the backlit display (convenient in the dark when I head for bed after turning off the light) and also the filter change reminder. This is a configurable setting to remind me when to change the filter.

It's a little bit overkill in that it can also control a cooling system (we don't have central air at this time), but I figure at some point in time we'll be able to simply add that in without much trouble (and without a new thermostat).

Anyway, with automatic settings for climate control, I figure I will be able to recup my investment in a short period of time (especially with fuel at the current price).

I'm also dealing with the window reglazing and whatnot, which should help quite a bit in some cases where there was obvious leakage (we had a few windows last winter which were semi-frequently fogged over).

Another project I'm going to do here when I don't feel like doing anything else is to install foam gaskets in all of the switchboxes/outlet boxes on all exterior walls. This, oddly enough, was an item I figured I'd have to go buy (I was intending to do this anyway). It just so turned out that they were being given away at two locations at the state fair. This meant that over a course of time I procured several sets for free and should be able to cover all these sources of air movement for free.

Yes, I'm cheap. It's foam.

Also, at the end of this week I will be getting the furnace tuned up. I figure that this will also make things a little better for the winter.

As a somewhat related but not quite note, I bought a few more fire extinguishers and a new CO/Smoke alarm and installed these (actually mounted them) appropriately.

TV is High, Miscellaneous Projects

I had thought about it a long time ago, but happened to see it come on sale in the Menards flyer a few weeks ago. TV wall mounts. This would be a good idea for our bedroom, and the price was also right. So, I went and got it, installed it, and life is good. It's definitely not going to come off the wall, though. Three 1/4" diameter, 2.5" lag screws imply no movement. This is a Good Thing.

I also did some straightening up in the basement and organized/put away tools. This was a much needed thing since they were everywhere after the plumbing and other projects of the last six months and is the precursor to one of the winter projects below.

Announcement of the Winter Project

While we were in the St. Cloud area, I took the time to obtain some more pieces of the 'total home network' package. Matt's wintertime project will be to do some voice/video/data wiring throughout the house. This will most definitely be a Good Thing.

Another wintertime project (we'll see how far this gets) is to seal up the basement (something akin to Drylock). After this is done, I want to essentially build a bit of a mini-shop in the basement (essentially a large section of pegboard, a workbench, and some shelving) to make life easier. It also will help take some of the beating off the washer and dryer, which typically end up being my workbench as it currently stands.

Alright, I've had enough...

...and my guess is that if anyone actually read all of this...well, that's not likely...

So, I'll wrap this up and say, "Until Next Time..."

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

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