Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oh, Menard's ...

I currently have four pending orders with Menard’s, three of which are directly tied to the patio project.

The oldest of these dates back to Sept. 15; the most recent is from Monday. I don’t yet have merchandise on any of these orders. I need to start by saying that, overall, I like Menard’s. They’re helpful. They have a large selection of merchandise and, in general, great prices. (I’m also liking the current 11 percent rebate, though it does have some sticking points for me.)

My biggest problem with them: delivery timelines. You might recall this started off on the wrong foot with my very first order when my brick delivery was delayed by multiple days.

On the columns that will wrap the posts on the patio, three to four weeks has now surpassed six and is on its way to seven weeks. New storm doors, which should have arrived at the end of last week, are still en route to a distribution center, not yet on their way to the store. Shingles, which were supposed to be in-store in six days (Oct. 26) were shipping yesterday.

On Monday, while placing a fourth order, I learned that I wasn’t being given accurate tracking information on the shingles. “I don’t know why the Internet had these as special order,” said Art, the guy who I’ve placed multiple orders with. “I’ve got these in the store.” Wait. What?!

So, it was with some hesitancy that I placed a new order for some vinyl scallop siding. After going into sticker shock from the estimate I got from Lowe’s (where we’d purchased what’s on the house and shed around 2007/2008), and getting a call back from Home Depot with pricing that was less than Lowe’s but still significantly more than Menard’s, I quizzed Art. “It’s November this week. Weather is not on my side. Is three weeks really THREE WEEKS … or is it six or seven?” Unlike some of the other companies who handled the products we’d bought, Art says this one is serious about their schedules.

Hmmm. Let’s hope so. Because I’d REALLY like to finish this project before we get snow.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Awning … Gone!

One of the highlights of Saturday was the long-awaited departure of the awning! Within the first 90 minutes of work, Lawrence and I got to the point I had hoped that we would reach during our workday on Monday. The awning came down and the rest of the rafters for both the roof and the ceiling went up.

Lawrence will be back Monday morning as I managed to score yet another vacation day to take advantage of the weather. On Saturday, it started out quite cold but warmed up into the mid-60s. The only downside was the wind. Man, was it wild! Luckily, as the day wore on, rather than being pretty consistently strong, it would only occasionally bluster. It knocked down THREE FULL SHEETS of plywood at one point!
In the end though, all of the effort was worth it. We continued to rack up some progress and now I’m paying for it by feeling like I’ve been ON a rack.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Going Batty

It never fails that when I have a million things going, I manage to add one more.

In this case, it’s at least 50 more. We’re having a Halloween party at work this week and I’m on the committee. A colleague and I got together Friday and I shared some possible decorations I made using my Slice machine. She liked them but said: “Can you make bats?” Well, yes, I can. “Can you make them bigger?” Well, no.

So instead of being able to use my little die-cut machine, I instead found a template online and I’m cutting bats of various sizes out by hand. I’m a little over halfway to the goal. And then, of course, I have to cut out several sets of the Slice decorations (in the foreground) so they can put those on tables. At least I have the machine to do that!

Meanwhile, I’ve been a little more obsessed with bats of another kind: the ones the St. Louis Cardinals are swinging. Yes, I’m deep in the throes of the World Series. These guys are killin’ me with these tension-filled games! They just won a little while ago, 5-4, with a truly incredible ending.

I was supposed to go to a birthday party tonight (sorry, guys) but in addition to the mother being sick, I am wiped out. I was outside from 8:30 until almost 6. Yep. Another full day for Lawrence and I; he left around 4. By the time I got out of the shower and got something to eat, the game was starting. I got sucked in pretty fast and just couldn’t make myself get up. The day had officially taken its toll.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Serious Disconnect

Have you ever seen the movie “Cool Hand Luke?” If so, you’re no doubt familiar with the line: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

Earlier this month, we ported our landline to AT&T Wireless Home Phone. Make sure you check this out. If you live in an area with relatively good cell coverage, it should work for you. And, at $20/month for unlimited local and long distance and a host of other plusses, there’s not much to dislike. But I digress.

So, the system works. (It won’t work with more than two analog phones though, both of which would have to be hooked into the portable signal box for either phone to be of any use to you.) D*mmit! I’m off track again, but the home phone is central to the story so bear with me.

The timing of this transfer is pretty advantageous. Just Monday, Lawrence had to remove the landline from the house (still connected, but hanging loose) so we could continue working on the patio roof. Before we can put the ceiling in, it has to be gone entirely. We’re still a little ways from that point, but the line has to go. Until I knew whether the wireless home phone would work, I hesitated to have the landline removed and mulled just moving it. Now I know the system works and now the d*mned line is in the way. So I called the phone company.

I called the number listed on their site for repair. I do, after all, need a lineman even though nothing was broken. I get automation and 97 choices. OK. Not that many – but not one that really helped. I ended up pushing the first option. More automation. Key in your phone number. When I do that, I’m dropped from the loop because having ported my number to wireless service, I’m now a Mobility customer with AT&T NOT a landline residential. It tries to transfer me to Mobility. I hang up and start over. I choose a different option this time. I get a person. When I explain my situation to him, he says, “You need to speak to Mobility.” NO! No, I don’t! So I explain again, spelling out WHY Mobility can’t help me. “I need a lineman … from the landline folks!” He puts me on hold, promising to connect me to a person. Before anyone picks up, I get: “Please enter your telephone number.” Oh, brother. Here we go … AGAIN! Disconnected.

On the third call, I go through the automated process yet again and then get another guy who again promises to transfer me. (He gave me a number though to call back in case I got disconnected again.) On the third ring, it took about five seconds for me to get this response: “Sure. I can get someone out there before 6 p.m. today.”

And about 90 minutes later, the line was GONE. BOO-yah!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Roof Goes Up and the Awning ... Stays Up

The ugly awning got a reprieve yesterday. Lawrence and I spent about 90 minutes on a trip to Lowe's, including total travel time, then loading and unloading. Purchases included: 12 sheets of plywood, two rolls of roofing paper, 72 feet of 1x6 and four more 2x6 boards. Yeah, that was fun. The good news is that the roof is on. Yay! We even got the roofing paper on. It will still need shingles (ordered), fascia, trim and drainage to finish it off. I had thought that we would be able to finish the roof Monday AND take down the awning while completing the ceiling beams. Wishful thinking. It took all day just to get the roof done. So, we'll be back at it on Saturday. Hoping the forecast sticks to what is currently forecast -- 60 and dry!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Next Level

I took the day off on Saturday to go and play with the MonkeyGirl and some other friends. Ah, what a wonderful diversion from the patio which has consumed almost every one of my free moments in the past two months!

Today, I got started on the "soldiering," putting the bricks that will cover the sides of the patio, after I finished the surface. A handful of bricks had to be repaired after the entire end row had come loose just as I was finishing up and it started pouring down rain. But I'm getting a little ahead of things.

On Friday, this project finally looked like something other than a prop on the set of "The Beverly Hillbillies." For the first time, I really got to see it all coming together. And, we even came up with a plan for that gap between the back truss and the house gutter! Take a look for yourself at where we are.

This shot is actually a little better. You get a good view of where the framing is divided between the roof (slanted) and the ceiling (straight).

For some reason, the mother still doesn't get this. And that's frustrating at hell considering that she is the one who is usually able to see things before they're really there.

If things go as planned, the plywood for the roof will be on, the awning will be off and the rest of the ceiling beams will be up.

It doesn't seem like we'll make the Halloween deadline that I'd originally hoped for but mid-November seems doable. The weather is about to change dramatically (highs in the 50s after being in the 70s) but I'm hoping it's only temporary and that I can get another few good days to get things done. Cross your fingers ...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hello, Awning

This thing has been hated and much maligned since we bought This D*mn House. I've never been a fan (always thought it looked cheesy) and to say that the mother hates, loathes and despises it might be an understatement.

But, in fairness, it has provided enough shelter to not get drowned by rain or buried in snowfall through the years.

It's still ugly and hated though. Looking at it now makes me want to get rid of it all the more. The mother will probably do a happy dance when it comes time to make this thing disappear. I hope her knee will be well healed by then because I don't think this is an event that will be too very far in the future.

So, hello, awning. Your days are numbered ...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Stupid, Stupid Rain

In the movie "Impromptu," an aristocratic couple has a house full of artistes (including the likes of Mdme. George Sand and Chopin) and in one scene, everyone is jammed into a parlor, watching a thunderstorm.

One of my faves, Emma Thompson, cast in the largely forgettable role of the hostess, utters this line: "Stupid, stupid rain." It pretty much sums up how I feel today. Earlier this morning, I had to call Lawrence and cancel. I'd hoped to get in at least a few hours of work this morning. Long enough at least to get the truss solidly into place and build the smaller version that will go along the front.

Apparently, it's not to be. At least not today.

I was just telling Jayne over at The Kelly House (she who is nursing a broken clavicle) that the universe has a way of telling you to slow down. To be honest, I could use the rest. And at least I got a much subtler message than poor Jayne.

Besides, there's a ballgame to watch this afternoon (Game 2 of the NLCS). And if it's anything like the one I watched last night, I'm going to need to rest up to survive it!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Up, Up and Away

I think I mentioned that the last chapter in Adventures with Lawrence included loading and unloading more than three dozen 2x6 boards of varying lengths.

Today, we broke into this stash and began putting them to use. There is an incredible amount of difference between hefting 10-footers than 14-footers. (Just ask my shoulders. They'll groan to confirm.) We started out with 2x4s.

The 2x4s were left over from what we had purchased and used to build the concrete forms to pour the patio. Lawrence promised me that this almost $90 worth of lumber would have a use once we got to covering the patio. Today, he made good on that promise.

When we started, I was having a very hard time trying to figure out just what the hell Lawrence had us creating. We took two 2x6s and sandwiched small squares of half-inch plywood between them. That had me scratching my head. Then he explained that those plywood pieces, jutting out from between the boards, had a double duty. On one side, they would help serve as anchors to 20-inch cuts of 2x4 running vertically throughout the frame. On the other side, they would help anchor 28-inch diagonal cut boards. It was all Greek to me, but what I saw was that the combination of the vertical and diagonal boards spelled out my initials: NV. Take a look. See?

The picture doesn't do this thing justice. It's massive. It's about 3.5 feet wide and nearly 18 feet long! And it's not light by any stretch of the imagination. So, just how were Lawrence (who is in his mid-70s AND not a very big man to begin with) and I going to get this thing almost 10 feet in the air? I'll admit, I was skeptical. You'd think though, that in more than six years of working with Lawrence, I'd know better than to doubt him. He is almost always a man with a plan.

Using multiple ladders and an array of ropes and pulleys (and me pushing a 6-foot ladder through the middle of it all, hoping against hope that this precaution wouldn't be necessary), this monstrosity began to rise. I was terrified the whole time this was going on. I was afraid that a) this ginormous piece we'd spent almost six hours building would crash down or b) Lawrence, who was being something of a daredevil more than 10 feet in the air, would fall.

After carefully repeating the procedure on both sides and then alternating between the two, we got the frame to here.
 It didn't hurt that I had an epiphany and brought out some furniture sliders to lay beneath each side of the frame to help push it along a board Lawrence had temporarily attached between the posts. Finally! The huge frame was suspended between the posts closest to the house.

But that was just the beginning. Now, this beast had to stand up atop each of the posts! Let's just say I held my breath a lot today. More than once I envisioned this thing crashing down onto the patio and shattering.

The really good news is that that didn't happen. Instead, using the pulleys and ropes he had to help us get the frame up to the boards, he then repositioned to pull the monster into place. And, just like that, it looks like this. Seems rather small and insignificant sitting up there like that, doesn't it?

The day, however, wasn't without its downsides.

First, the mother managed to get a flip flop tangled in an extension cord in the carport and fell. I don't think anything is broken but she bashed the hell out of her left knee and right hand/wrist. Both are pretty swollen and bruised. Say a prayer that these injuries manage to heal sooner rather than later.

Second, the frame is sitting several more inches away from the house than it should be. Not sure where Lawrence miscalculated on this one but we're going to have to come up with something to bridge this gap. Ugh.