Saturday, December 1, 2018

Shower Sweep

Way back when we did the master bath, we had a company do the glass surround and shower door.

There was a mix up during some part of the process and the glass wasn't fabricated quite right. They fabricated new pieces and got it installed without additional problems.

The guy who did the measuring for the master bath wasn't and isn't an employee of the glass company.

While he was here, we talked to him about repairing some issues with the shower door in the other bathroom, the kid's bath, that had been completed years earlier. He agreed to investigate and repair the issues in the kids bath.

The first issue was that the hinges had failed and needed to be replaced.

The second issue was that the shower door sweep had lost both of its seals and needed to be replaced.

Remember the timeline here... This is a few weeks after we'd had the shower glass installed in the master bathroom.

When he brought the replacement hinges he installed them without trouble. But, he forgot the sweep.

No problem he said. I have another job to get to but I'll get it and come back later to install it.

Our mistake? Paying him for both things when only one had been done.

Weeks pass.

SWMBO calls.

Him - Oh, I forgot. I'll get it and come over next week.

Weeks pass.

SWMBO calls.

Wash. Rinse, Repeat.

Years pass.

I call, mid-afternoon on a weekday this summer.

Pat - I forgot. Can I call you back?

Me - No. This has gone on long enough. You're going to tell me right now when you're coming over to replace this. Or you're going to drop the damn thing off and I'll do it myself.

Pat - I don't have my schedule right now so I'll have to call you back tomorrow.

Me - Fine. I expect a call tomorrow.

I don't really expect a call back given that the background sounded like he was in the VFW tipping back a couple. Nevertheless, I wait until the end of the day for him to call back. No joy so I call him.

Me - Hi Pat. I've been waiting for your call...

Pat - I just dropped it off at your house because you said you'd do it.

Me - [swears under my breath and hangs up]

So, if you want an anti-recommendation, talk to me offline. I'll tell you who to avoid.

And for those of you who don't know what a shower door sweep looks like, here's what he dropped off - an 8-foot length of vinyl shower door sweep. Don't get me wrong, it's what I expected given this ordeal, but I'm still galactically miffed that it took two flippin' years to chase his sorry butt and I still had to do the work myself.

I finally got around to replacing it this morning. It took me maybe 15 minutes to remove the old one, clean the nasty residue off the glass, measure it, cut it to length with a hacksaw, miter the ends with a hot utility knife so that it fit and operated properly, and install it. Oh, and adjust it so that it doesn't drag excessively on the threshold.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Everybody Poops

That was one of may favorite books to read to the kids when they were little.

Read the rest of the post and watch the video and the reference will become clear...

One of the sinks in the master bath has not been draining well recently.

We finally took a few minutes to investigate what was going on.

SWMBO pulled everything out from under the sink while I grabbed a bucket and a pair of slip-joint pliers just in case.

I loosened the trap and emptied into the bucket. The trap was pretty clean.

Then I took off the extension for the tailpiece. It has some goop around its perimeter so I cleaned that out with my finger. The extension is ABS (black plastic) and was cut with a hacksaw so had rough edges protruding on the inside of the pipe. I took a utility knife and trimmed the edges so they were clean and smooth. That should help minimize future issues.

Then I loosened the ball-and-rod for the pop-up drain assembly and removed the rod so I could remove the pop-up stopper. The stopper had a little goop on it, so I cleaned that up too.

Looking down the tailpiece revealed the issue. My fingers aren't long enough to clean it out, So I grabbed a wet wipe and had SWMBO grab a wooden skewer.  I balled up the wet wipe and used the skewer to push it down the tailpiece. Here's the result:

I assume it's a coagulated accumulation of makeup, lotion, hair, and other stuff.

We never have to do this with the boys' sinks...


Recently I was chatting with someone about gardens and. more specifically hydrangeas.

We have several in our yard, though I don't remember the exact variety names at this point.

One is a variety similar to "Annabelle". It behaves similarly to a perennial with new stems growing from ground level each spring and has large white globe-shaped flower heads, one head per stem.

These are in the back yard along the stone wall.

Another is a small/medium shrub, which I prune back hard each spring to maintain its size. At the beginning of the summer post-pruning it is 3 feet tall and by the end of the summer it is perhaps 4-5 feet tall. It has very diffuse, "open" flowers that turn pink late in the year.

These are in a back bed between the driveway and patio.

The last is a variety similar to "PeeGee". It has a dwarf tree form. I prune it back - hard - each spring and it seems to grow quite vigorously. I prune it down to 5-6 feet tall to start the summer and it ends up at 9-10 feet by the end of the summer. The flower heads are quite large and oblong. The bloom pictured is longer than my hand, from fingertip to wrist, and is roughly 4 feet off the ground.

These are in the front garden on either side of the front porch.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Destroyer of Worlds

He's a lab.

That means he's bred to want to have things in his mouth.

It doesn't really matter what it is at this point.

Even heater control knobs will do.

Because I think I'm smarter than him and can see where this is going, I played the long game.

The electric baseboard heater belonging to this knob is in the entrance to the carriage house.

I'd previously removed it when I installed the new tile in the entry, so knew what needed to be done.

It wasn't really in too bad of shape, but has been painted a couple of times, evidence being that the knob is not the same color as the heater.

Also, to get where I want outsmarting the Destroyer of Worlds I might as well go all the way and replace the heater, too.

The replacement heaters were 25% off this week at the green big box store, so I got a new one and the associated smart thermostat.

No chew-able protrusions to tempt him any more...

It took me about an hour to remove the old one, unbox & install the new one, and decipher the particularly poorly written manual to correctly wire & program the thermostat.

And with the new auto-setback thermostat, it will probably save a few pennies on the electric bill.

Sunday, August 12, 2018


Last summer while playing in the dirt I planted a couple of fruit trees. They survived the winter and have done reasonably well.

The peach tree in the middle has really grown. This spring it didn't blossom much or set any fruit. I assume that's a result of the big blizzard in April. This variety is known as an early bloomer, so it is a little sensitive to late frost.

The apple trees bloomed and set fruit. I thinned the number down to 6 or 8 on each tree as a pollination trial run. The fruit was doing well on both until recently. The rightmost one got worms, so I removed all the fruit. That way it's not wasting energy on fruit production. The fruit on the leftmost apple tree still is doing OK.

The sad thing is that the leaves on both have been ravaged by Japanese Beetles. Removing them by hand into a bucket of soapy water has been working OK, but I don't think it will be manageable as the trees get bigger.

I'm considering this year an experiment on what I need to do to get a crop a few years down the road, so I'm learning a lot.

As I recall, great-grandpa Joe had an apple orchard in his yard, so maybe I'll get there eventually...

Friday, August 10, 2018

Art - 2

Earlier in the summer we took a family vacation to Montreal and Quebec City. I'd never been to either city before and really enjoyed both. The old town areas in both were very interesting with lots of history and cool architecture.

Of course, SWMBO managed to do some shopping and found these prints made by a local artist in Quebec City. Each of the prints shows a different street scene in Quebec's old town.

They survived the journey back and we had them matted and framed here. A few days ago we hung them in the kitchen.

While the frames are all the same size, it's inevitable that you can't just place the hooks at the same height. Even though I used my trusty laser level and measured everything multiple times, it's still a pain to get the cluster all hung at the same height.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Tuckpointing - 2

Progress has been a bit sporadic.

Dave the mason has also been working at the nearby Commodore. When he gets stuck there he comes here and vice versa.

There were a few bricks that needed to be replaced because they were too damaged. We'd saved some from when we had the porch piers  rebuilt, but there weren't enough. The mason had to begin the sourcing effort and, like always, it's not easy.

The initial selection was approved by the HPC, but when we went to place the order it was discontinued.

After some back and forth, the HPC approved a different brick. It was the right color, but the wrong size; both in height and width. The would mean two cuts on each brick to get it to the correct size. It also means a ridiculous amount of time and labor for each brick.

So the search started again. This time they approved a brick that was only mis-sized in width. That's the easier of the two cuts, so it's not so bad.

We know we're going to need more bricks when we get to the other sides of the house, so we get a better deal if we buy a whole pallet. The extra ones will get stored somewhere unobtrusive (not on the driveway!) until they are needed next summer.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Lost History - Part 2

Life is full of coincidences. And sometimes some of what was lost can be found.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across an announcement about the son of the 3rd owners and posted about it.

Last week, one of his sons happened to be in town for a college reunion. He and his wife stopped to look at the house and SWMBO coincidentally was outside. They chatted and she gave them a tour of the interior.

This was his grandparent's house, so as one might expect, he doesn't have vivid memories of many things. Likewise, there are things I remember about my grandparents' houses, but there are details I don't recall either...

He was able to share some interesting information, though. The paintings on the door of the study bath are likely not original to the house. He believes they were painted by his great-grandfather, W. B. Robertson. He shared this photo of a painted fireplace screen that he says was in the house and was also painted by his great-grandfather. The similarity to the hunting scenes on the door are striking, so I certainly agree with him.

Saturday, June 16, 2018


As the guys have been doing the brickwork in the front of the house, they've brought up some concerns with the downspouts.

The existing ones weren't really working properly and would overflow causing water to cascade down the front of the house. As a result the brick would get wet and because of the need for tuckpointing, water was getting into the wall.

In typical "while you're in there" fashion, we might as well get the issues taken care of now.

Those with sharp eyes will note the fancy new temporary downspouts. They certainly ensure that the water is routed away from the foundation...

Monday, June 4, 2018


We've had various brick work done in the past and knew that we'd eventually need to do a fair amount of tuckpointing. We'd met with various contractors over the years and we're finally ready to get started. Understanding the unique aspects of doing this with old soft brick is important and that limits the number of available contractors. As a result, we've been on the list for quite a while waiting for them to complete other jobs.

Last Thursday this pile of material showed up.

And Friday it was assembled to look like this.

The plan is to do one side at a time over the next few years, depending upon funding. The chimneys need it too, so they will need to fit in somewhere.

The bits that need it the most will get priority...

Long time readers will recall that I'm not fond of heights, so this is one of the jobs I'll leave to the professionals.