Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Rock On, Part Two

Current status of the rock slope project:

I know, the photo quality sucks. It was really foggy this morning and I was taking photos at the same time I was shoehorning a fried egg down my gullet and power-walking to the bus stop at 8:23 AM.

Yes, I've still got LOTS of work to do—the rocks are going to the top of the steps, where the painted part of the concrete starts, to align with the other side.

There will definitely be more planting holes than on the other side, though:

Hey, you think I can get thrown in the stripey hole for misusing my recycling bin like that? I swear, I emptied the rocks out of it before I put it out on Monday night.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Last weekend Michael was away on his big vroom-vroom motorcycle trip. Lonely and seeking a purpose (besides lounging, unshowered and partially dressed, staring slack-jawed at hour upon hour of HGTV programming), I decided to order up two tons of basalt and work on the yard.

The front yard slopes and is dominated by a large cedar tree which blocks light and drops needles year-round. Hence, grass doesn't like to grow (and even if it did I sure as hell wouldn't want to mow it) and previous attempts at planting groundcover were, well, disappointing (see below). So last year, on a whim, I ordered three and a half tons of basalt for the south side of the front yard. Michael convinced me not to rock the whole thing, and leave some planting beds, which have worked out pretty well, I think:

Emboldened by my previous success and determined to repeat it, I've begun work on the north side of the yard. Here are the before pictures:

I've dug out most of the slope and probably gotten about a third of the rocks placed. I'm using less density this time, since the south side got some complaints before the plants grew in (you know who you are, Nosey Parkers) and the north side gets more direct light so there are more opportunities for new plants to play with (and, eventually, kill).

I'll be posting photos as the project progresses, but it's going to look pretty dismal until the plants go in.

* What can I say? K-Fed's the shizzle.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Floored, Part Two

The floor's in! The floor's in!

The blue stuff coming up around the sides is the insulation between the radiant heating elements and the wood. We ended up using a different Kährs product, a solid wood instead of a laminate, since the wood veneer was too thin and between the moisture and the heat from the radiant there was a risk it could peel up. This was more money per square foot, but with a space this small it's worth it. Finding a floor that isn't tile that works with radiant heading is a challenge.

There's also progress being made on the siding:

I assume the vertical board nailed to the side near the front is to attach the decorative bracket made to match the original ones.

On another note, here's something that inpires confidence:

WTF's the question here? Is someone not sure what's supposed to come out of the spigot seven feet above the shower pan?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Random Graffiti

The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

"Hi, my name is Alexis."

"Hi, Alexis!"

"And I have a problem with furniture scale."

You see, part of me wishes that I lived in a one-level, open-plan ranch house with acres of open space joining the living room, dining room and kitchen. That's the same part of me that apparently saw fit to purchase two hulking dark-gray armchairs and a 53" long glass-topped rectangular coffee table for my living room.

I've lived with this set-up for years now, only surviving by pushing most of the furniture far away from the high-traffic areas and moving fairly cautiously amongst (or over) the furniture when I must. Enter: Michael. Michael appears to be missing the part of his brain that conceptualizes how his body takes up space in relation to his surroundings. To wit: he bangs into stuff. A lot. Well, it seems like a lot to someone who looks like Courtney Love's scruffier and even-more-coked-out little sister just by brushing up against a surface with a hardness greater than that of gypsum. Yes, that's how badly I bruise, so quit giving me shit for acting like Sam Jackson in Unbreakable.

In any event, Michael barks his shins on the coffee table. Often. So often, in fact, that I wince a little whenever his phone rings in anticipation of the audible barking of shin on glass. Add that to the problem of Silent Bob bonking her head on the underside of the table when she's trying to jump up no longer seeming cute rather than the cause of her incipient feline senility, and it seems certain that it's time to replace some furniture.

The table isn't too hard. this more or less fits the bill, although I would prefer something smaller, maybe 30" in diameter rather than 34":

I have no attachment to the Ikea coffee table. After all, that's what Ikea is for: disposable furniture that never makes a serious enough impression on you, whether positive or negative, to keep you from pitching it into the nearest unattended dumpster when it becomes inconvenient. Kinda like a guy you meet online (kidding).

The chairs, though, are another matter altogether. I love them dearly and irrationally. They're comfortable to sit in as well as flop one's self over, the gray fabric hides a multitude of sins (I'm looking at you, Bob), and they're pretty stylish without being all "Hey! Look at me! I'm a trendy seating unit purchased by someone who spends too much time concerned about interior decorating and hence has no inner life to speak of!" Or something. Anyway, I like the chairs, and getting rid of them will be difficult to rationalize, considering they're the first "real" (ie, not Ikea, not scrounged) furniture I've ever bought. I suppose they could go into the guest room, but I really don't want to encourage guests to stay that long. On the other hand, the backup TV (for when I want to watch "What Not To Wear" or Michael wants to watch football and neither of us are feeling generous enough to force ourselves to humor the other, offending-TV-watching one) is in the guest room…

This leads us to FURNITURE SHOPPING! Which is really fun, as long as I don't let my inner penny-pinching Frugal McCheapPants get too mouthy. Or let myself go crazy in Ikea, where I will buy yet more disposable furniture.

This appeals:

The color works, and the size is right, but it doesn't look like it encourages floppy TV watching and/or idle flossing during the evening news.

This one has a nice mid-century look and a fairly small footprint:

But doesn't come in any colors that won't look like ass in 2.4 seconds and, well, the price seems little high for a store that's aimed at hipsters who get sniffy at Pottery Barn.

The real challenge will come with the eventual purchase of a real sofa. What makes the current sofa somewhat unreal or virtual? Well, I'd say that when it's a twice-over hand-me-down and you paid more for the eBay slipcover for it than you did for the alcohol-fueled thank you dinner for the poor schmucks who helped you move it, your couch may not be real. At the very least you should be ashamed of still owning said couch in a non-trashed setting (garage/basement = okay, living room = not okay) if you're over the age of 30. Which I am. Which is why I end up looking at couches like this on craigslist:

Pray for me and my living room.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Trim... and Pussy!

More architecturally appropriate trim, courtesy of Barb the contractor:

That's the door leading from the landing at the top of the steps into the New! Bathroom! The color's Rodda "Wheat". Anyway, the trim is great. Too bad the guy who converted the attic to bedrooms back in the 80s didn't bother to match the trim.

Only tangentially related to the project, and in the most inaccurate way possible, here's Silent Bob in her new favorite basking spot, the old carpet at the top of the stairs:

Aw, cat muffin:

Give me a break. I only recently started figuring out how to photograph a mostly-black cat. Took me a mere five years, too.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Color Me Wanting to Pee!

The color is up on the walls and it's looking great:

And if it doesn't look great, it's your monitor, you cheap bastard.

This one's a little blown out, but it kinda shows how well the color coordinates with the tile I picked out: