home economics


tob

Lately (and to the point of ad nauseum in my less-than-humble opinion) there’s been a trend fadding or a fad trending called the ALS Bucket Challenge, nobly started to raise money for research into Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but now everybody’s seemingly dumping buckets of iced water over their heads and challenging everybody else to do the same.

My particular bucket challenge isn’t something I’d demand anyone else do nor does it waste a drop of water. As alluded to in my previous post I got busy yesterday afternoon transferring the above-pictured big ol’ pallet of brick slices from my parking space in the garage up 17 steps and around to the side yard using two of the pictured buckets.

To be specific, a bucket holds 20 pieces weighing 44.6 pounds (yes, I weighed one). On Facebook yesterday I submitted the above picture and opened up the guessing as to how many buckets it might take. Here’s the comment thread that resulted:

bc

Roughly three hours later, the transfer was completed involving a total of 52.5 buckets (kudos to Steven Frein for his guess of 50 buckets).

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Here’s where they ended up neatly stacked in the sideyard:

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And whilst enjoying a cold beer afterward, I did the math and can now use the term “ton o’ bricks” quite literally: 52.5 buckets at 44.6 pounds per bucket equals a total weight of 2,341.5 pounds, that I loaded, carried up 17 steps, and unloaded. The total number of half-bricks was 1,050.

If my back and the rest of me weren’t so totally freakin’ exhausted I’d be feeling pretty badass right about now.

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Demo of all cabinetry, lathe and plaster and flooring commenced Monday and was fast and furiously done, giving way to the entirely unsexy but essential plumbing and electrical work that continues on the underguts of the kitchen and future pantry and laundry room (out of view behind the cam). Removal of the laminate wood flooring and subflooring (concrete! and linoleum) revealed a tangled web of pipes and wiring that an inspector would have said “Oh hail nah!” to and so were ripped out and are now in the slightly protracted process of being replaced.

In other news that left wall of the kitchen will need reframing. The 2x4s were installed wide side out, which is how they were allowed to build things in the early 1900s, but the opposite orientation is how walls must be built nowadays.

And also, we’ll be adding first-time insulation to all the exterior walls.

Lastly, if I’m feeling like a particular glutton for punishment, I may give myself a workout today hauling up the pallet of cut Simons bricks that will be our future kitchen floor up to the side yard from the garage where they’ve been all week.

simonsWhy Simons bricks specifically? Good of you to ask. The Simons Brick Company (roughly 1900-1952), located first in Pasadena and then in what is now the City of Commerce, was a major supplier of bricks for the southern California region, including our 1906 house’s original foundation (replaced in 1999). Susan and I originally considered saltillo tile for the kitchen and pantry, but that just didn’t seem to fit in to the Craftsman style. So we thought about brick as having a stronger connection and then we wondered how awesome would it be if we could find enough Simons bricks, have them cut to paver depth and install them.

When that initially proved a pipe dream, we considered reclaimed-look brick tiles from an array of manufacturers but the color and consistency wasn’t quite right. Rather than settle, Susan undertook an epic expedition and in what was something of a miracle finally found a salvage yard in the South Bay that not only had plenty of Simons bricks onhand, but bonus: could cut them as well. In doing so we went from spending about $12 per square foot for the flooring of our kitchen and pantry to $4.

And now a pallet of them sits in my parking space in the garage. We’ll see if they’re up in the sideyard and I’m exhausted by the end of the day.

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before

 

after

The saga began more than two years ago when Ranger, while barking at a worker outside lunged toward the guy from behind the closed window in the study and cracked a lower pane. For what was supposed to be a very short-term solution, I plugged up the hole with a piece of cardboard, and just for fun took an image I had of a wolf and blew it up to same size as the the cardboard and attached it so its menacing gaze faced the street. Then I taped it all into place.

About a year later I fiiiiiinally went about getting the stuff needed to make the repair, but when I undertook the job I found I’d measured the piece of glass wrong… it was juuust a scosh too big for the space. Of course I then tried to force the pane to fit and broke it, so up went the cardboard-backed wolf picture again.

Where it stayed until yesterday when with triple-checked dimensions I returned to a local glass place, ordered up two panes (in case I broke one, or if not we have a spare), and did a passable job installing it (my window putty/glazing work leaves a bit to be desired).

This morning, I then threw open all the curtains in the study (also perhaps for the first time in a couple years), and got a good luck at what how filthy windows can get when they haven’t been cleaned in six years.

So I cleaned them. Inside and out. Screens, too (click it for the bigger picture).

Ranger approves.

Just an update on the planter boxes I suspended from the south steps’ handrail. On June 11 it looked like this:

And this afternoon, it’s looking like this, full of baby basil and cilantro and sunflowers:

I’ve totally overpopulated it, but it’s certainly a purty thang to look at.

It took longer than I’d expected to break out of my lazy cage this Saturday. That morning I had grand handyman plans to tackle several indoor projects and one outdoor one, but literally didn’t/couldn’t get going on them until way late that afternoon, when Susan and I piled into the Ford Escape and made a sunset run to the Hollywood Home Depot for:

  1. A new sink faucet for the guest bedroom’s long-leaking (and shut off) bathroom
  2. A new floatball assembly for the guest bedroom’s long-running (and shut off) toilet
  3. A couple planter boxes for a unique place along the south side of the house

I hadn’t been a total stick in the mud, having managed to muster the energy enough to fix the first-floor toilet off the landing room. Looong has it always run after being flushed and to stop it required either a lot of jiggling and/or the eventual lifting off of the tank cover to free the flap from its stalemate position against the floatball it inevitably collided with so that it could drop to the bottom of he tank and seal off the water’s escape. In the past I’d attempted simple to adjust the angle of the floatball arm, but it’s never worked. This time? the solution was to twist the tower the rising floatball arm attaches to juuuuust far enough for it to be clear of the descending flap. Why hadn’t I done that sooner? Because I over-complicated it in my mind to be anything that simple. I’m reeeeeeally good at doing that.

But it turns out laziness can sometimes happen for a good reason because had I enthusiastically hit the do-it-yourself palace any earlier, Susan and I would have missed out on serendipitously bumping into one of my favorite artists on our way home.

When we did get home Susan set to making dinner and I adjourned upstairs to the guest bathroom where I was able to quickly and successfully install the fixture and the float, returning that bathroom to a full functionality not seen in three years.

In fact, with the repair made to the downstairs toilet, for the first time in perhaps four years or more all four of our baths are entirely in working order. Yeah, I rock.

As to the third item on my list… well, I got to work on that after we got home from the Sunday matinee of  the much-anticipated and entirely entertaining “Super 8.” And here’s how the suspended would-be planter box gardens of basil and cilantro and sunflowers looks at present:

June gloom aside, the south of the house gets the most direct sun of any side, and I figured the best way to take advantage of all that rayliciousness would be to install a couple planter boxes along the handrail at the top of the steps leading to our side door. As an added-value, if the basil and cilantro and sunflower seeds grow as hoped, the greenery will be nice scenery — a nice organic, home-grown and tasty focal point addition to admire when coming down the stairs from the bedroom and looking out the side door’s window.

Of course there will be photographic updates of any growth that occurs.

 

 

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