The Cool House: chores
Showing posts with label chores. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chores. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Iron Moan

Yesterday at twilight I dug up the iron form around the rear driveway, bent it into a small hoop and hauled it to the trash collection point. Today is plastic and metal recycling day and I'm hoping it gets picked up, otherwise it'll sit there until the regular garbage collection. Even after five years of separating the trash I'm still not sure what gets recycled where. In Europe we had a list, a long long list and woe betide you (in the form of big fines) if you put the wrong garbage out or left a yoghurt pot unwashed in the regular trash. But at last I knew what went where on which day!
Of course the solution to my dilemma was to leave the freakin' form where it was but frankly I'm fed up falling over it (when I don't remember to carefully step up) every time I walk the dogs. In 2004 the owner's son had mentioned we should get the landscaper to knock it back in and I'd hoped he'd volunteer or magic elves would take care of it, but that never happened. Fast forward five years to when I told the landscaper we were resurfacing the drive and he suggested I get the asphalt guy to rip it out. Nope that didn't happen, either!
As I walked up the drive with the dogs in the late afternoon there was a chill in the air and I knew the warm weather we've had this week wouldn't last. If I didn't do something about it right now it would have to wait until Spring. That was the breaking point. I fetched a shovel and took all my frustrations out on 50 feet of metal. Why was I so miffed? The lovely deep asphalt you see in the photo that we had laid a couple of weeks back, on a sunny day with no rain in the forecast so it would have time to cure, well the weather guys got it wrong and it poured and poured, leaving puddles of sealant and exposing holes in the drive - in general it's a big gray mess. Actually it's a big gray mess covered in leaves and acorns and it will stay that way until March when the asphalt guy will come back and redo it. Until then I can look forward to it being covered in several inches of snow and impenetrable ice... and of course I have that lovely photo to remind me what it will look like when it's finished.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Those carefree summer days are over

The Guy installs the hardtop on Beach Car whilst unbeknown to him the Triffid plans its attack....

Monday, June 08, 2009

In the yard

The last blooms on the azaleas and rhododendrons have faded and fallen and although the peonies and the late dogwood are out there's little color in the yard by the second week in June. That means, of course, less admiring the garden and more chores.
So yes, there was a FOURTH attempt at setting the stone on the steps to the front door - this time scraping it right back to the foundation. (Probably should have done that first time). No one is allowed to look at it, much less step on it, so it could be a while before we know if we are successfully cemented in. Last time it seemed ok - until the torrential rain loosened the side mortar. I have fingers, toes and eyes crossed for this one.
There was the horrible moment when I put the gardening gear in the garage and I heard chewing coming form the overhang - which meant we hadn't killed all the bees last session. I stuck a kid's paintbrush in the poison dust and poked it into one of FOUR new holes - and touched a bee. That surprised both of us! It stopped chewing but turned it into a coughing, buzzing, shiny black mass of madness. It flew out and landed dizzily on the path whereupon I put it out of its misery. Next month there will be the ritual filling of the holes, followed by the staining of the siding, This never gets old. Not.
The Guy lovingly painted several new examples of poison ivy with the most effective of herbicides - taking great care not to drip it on the pachysandra or rhododendrons. (I'm a super swelling, steroid needing, extra-specially sensitive soul that gets a full body rash from touching the dog who brushed against it hours earlier so I leave this to the so-far immune member of the family). I feel this is going to be an on-going chore this season.
All the windows were washed - outside and in. We carried the outdoor pool furniture up from the basement, set it out and cleaned that, too. (The pool is actually colder then when we opened it, 66F. No one will be dipping in there this week).
The lilac bush at the back of the pool that was toppling over and threatening to decapitate anyone going back there was pruned back - hopefully we'll get more growth from the base and many more blossoms next Spring.
A gorgeous new yellow Hosta generously donated by the Awesome Designer was planted, but will be replanted this week in a more commodious spot. White Impatiens lovingly planted by neighbor Barbara the entrance to the cul-de-sac were rescued from under the fringes of the day lilies and given some more light at the edges of the bed.
Weeds were pulled and death was removed from the lawn, the flower beds and the pool skimmers.

Of course it wasn't all work: dinner was eaten al fresco, steak grilled by the Loyal Blog Reader for the Awesome Designer's family from New Mexico, The Guy and I. Later, specimen maple seedlings were dug and bagged ready for a trip to the southwest, where we hope they will find some hospitable soil amongst all the sand... (and fewer weeds as well).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weekend Achievements...

Monday AM edition:


pots of purple basil and oregano added to herb garden


Tomatoes, peppers, basil, lemon balm and cilantro in the jumbo container by the barbecue


Third attempt at setting the stone (if this doesn't work we'll be calling in the mason)!

Still to do this afternoon:


more weeding needed

and it's time for the annual carpenter bee hunt. Those guys will be going down. Spotted four so far, two dead (from the white powder I dusted in the holes last month) and two bent on making the siding into a holey mess.

Certain traditional Memorial Day activities will not be happening:


The pool is covered with a layer of pollen and only 73 degrees. Brr

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Polish and dust (then polish some more)

The day started and ended with shoe polishing. There are no pictures of this because, frankly, photos of shoe cleaning are worse than photos of paint drying. But I will say that it's The Guy who undertakes this chore and there's a whole process involved: several rags, "real polish", brushes. perhaps a little spit to help things along and always, always, complaints about the choice of colour to match the shoes. I'm much more a buff it up sort of girl so I walk away as soon as he gets the polish out. But if you feel you need know more about the polishing process here's a condensed version.

An hour or so later the shoes shone and we could move on to the next chore: Masonry Part Deux.

One of the stones The Guy carefully re-set a few weekends ago popped again. When we lifted it this time it separated cleanly along a natural fault, leaving a thicker piece that we were able to reset and a thinner piece we'll keep and use to replace cracked stones on other projects.

We used a different grade of stone dust for the mortar that should be more resistant to cracking. It looks much more natural than last time so we're hopeful. (The reddish coloured line in the photo above isn't a crack but hæmatite within the stone).

But why were there two shoe cleaning episodes? Hmm. Someone undertook the messy, dusty work in his Cole Haan sandals....

.... and had to clean them quickly before another pair became "yard shoes". 
(Yes, I fibbed about the no shoe-polishing photo).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Warm Weekend

On one of those perfect weekends that came to cheer up Spring; there was sand and summer breezes

sitting on the deck of the Bay, Friday evening watching the sun set behind Lloyd's Harbor

spotting piping plovers on the shore Saturday

a few chores like sweeping sand between the bricks on the path

celebrating the breeze with open windows and newly-hung flowing white muslin curtains

admiring the cherry blossom

and rewarding ourselves with a Bloody Mary and fresh spicy guacamole, Sunday brunch in the backyard

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sodding Lawn and Snow Plow*

It's a beautiful day at The Cool House. Let's walk around the property and see how much maintenance we're looking at this Spring, shall we?

Now what's that piece of grass doing growing out of the driveway?

Uh, oh. I think it used to be over here

Or maybe over here. Nice scraping job, snow plow! I think we have a fair amount of work to do just on the lawn. Grr.

*This joke probably only works if you're a Brit.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

More falling down

Let's start with the good news. The holly tree sprang back to life after the heavy snow melted away. Hurray. I love the dark, glossy green leaves outside the back door and the fact that it hides the falling-down fence. Which brings us to.... well, the fence. It is still standing, just. At least the panels are still upright but the post is leaning at a forty-five degree angle. You might ask how this is possible. Well, boys and girls, some time ago when we first noticed the fence was falling down I suggested we might be able to get more life out of it by bracing the two panels with a metal bracket. It worked. It worked so well that that's all that is holding the thing up. The harder the wind blows, the greater the snowfall, the thicker the ice, the greater the angle of the post from the fence. I reckon by spring it will be a full 90 degrees adrift.
More bad news. The Guy took a bath and sent water cascading through the hall ceiling. I won't say he likes a deep soaking bath or that he's a splasher, but..... I foresee a lot of maintenance in my future.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall with a hint of Guacamole

Just a few of the chores we accomplished this weekend:
1) Stained post Cabot Cardovan Brown. We would have liked to stick with Pacific Redwood Clear Coat but this wouldn't disguise the wood filler we had to use to repair the damage caused by the damned woodpecker. However, it covers beautifully and matches the protected part of the siding under the overhangs which is much darker than the rest of the house. We'll see how it weathers before deciding whether to stick with it when we next stain the siding or go with something more translucent.
2) Also stained under the overhang where The Guy filled in some missing wood and then dropped a ladder on my head. Was not crazy about holding said ladder this time but escaped with only a few drops of brown stain on my T-shirt. Whew!

3) Treated with wood hardener one windowsill and one threshold that had a spongey feel or rot. Painted another couple of frames and gave the garage door a second coat. Filled the holes, the enormous holes, holes big enough for a family of badgers to take up residence. Will have nightmares about this, guaranteed.
4) Cleaned the house from top to bottom
5) Made nachos with homemade chili
6) Dropped a pot of guacamole as I opened fridge, covered myself, fridge, floor and cabinets in green goo. That stuff can really fly. Stood dripping for a while. Eventually The Guy yelled from the yard "That sounded just like the thwack of a tub of guacamole hitting the ground". How prescient of him.
7) Cleaned kitchen, including inside of fridge, again, washed green clothes.

8) Took this photo of The Guy, still laughing.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Well, economic meltdown or no, we can't just sit around here doing nothing. But we have to be very, very frugal, so instead of buying $3000 worth of tiles, a $2500 shower system and four $500 faucets to finish the master bath, we bought a can of paint ($14) to finish the ceiling of the boys bath. The ceiling that we primed, oh when was it now? April 2007.
We didn't mean to be so lax but we figured we should leave the final coat to the ceiling until the master bathroom was done when, we planned, the painter could do a professional job on both bathrooms at once. Ha, in this house great plans have a habit of curling up in the corner for a long snooze and, apart from the occasional snore to remind us they are still alive, can be ignored until we are forced (by the imminent arrival of visitors, or the need to sell up and move to different continent) to dust off the cobwebs and ACTUALLY PUT THEM INTO ACTION. Anyway, we are no nearer getting the master fixed-up than we were eighteen months ago, so I called it diy time. Two trips to the paint store, one for a can of paint and one for a liner for the paint tray and we were ready to go. That was until we discovered that we couldn't get the stepladder into the shower to paint the ceiling without some serious trauma. One more trip, this time to Home Depot, and we scored a two foot step ladder for $13.95. An hour later we had a bright, clean ceiling, and we can finally, finally call that bathroom done.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Crisis, Panic and The Weather

Well of course it rained over the weekend but we managed to get the death out of the pool and the guys are closing it up as I type. I sent The Guy up on the roof to clear the gutters and resisted the temptation to remove the ladder while he was up there. Why would a contemplate doing such a potentially dangerous thing? This is why. See, you couldn't blame me, could you? Anyway, when push came to shove I just couldn't leave him up there and besides I needed him to get back up the ladder to fill in the woodpecker damage to the pillar on the front porch. It looks a whole lot better now and it will be almost invisible once we can stain the whole post. We couldn't do that on Sunday because
a) it rained
b) the local paint store only had a gallon of stain and we wanted a no more than a quart
c) the other branch they sent us to that had quarts available (they checked on their computer) was CLOSED on Sundays. They didn't check that on their computer for us, did they?
We were forced to postpone the Met visit, and more seriously, our forthcoming trip to Europe. Obviously the weather was to blame for the former, the latter we can attribute directly to the global financial crisis. Instead of getting on a plane in a few hours I will be staying home learning to weave warm blankets from discarded animal fur and making soup out of nettles.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

To do list and city fun

Ok, so we have a few things to get done this weekend:
1) Tackle the new hole the blasted woodpecker has made in the post by the front door before the porch falls down.
2) Clean out the gutters. Again. Yes, someone is going back up on the roof. And yes, that would be the same someone who forgot our anniversary. As both this and chore #1 require someone else to hold the ladder, I can foresee all sorts of calamities before we are done.
3) Clean out the dead moles from the pool filters so the guys can come and close it up without being totally grossed out.
4)Run into the city to see the Jeff Koons exhibit on the roof of the Met before it closes.
All these things require fine weather, so it BETTER NOT RAIN BEFORE SUNDAY EVENING.

Monday, August 11, 2008


We had set aside the final two days of our home-ation for repairing the damage done to the redwood siding by our favorite wildlife: the carpenter bees and the woodpecker. In the end we found more live bees that we had to deal with, lots more holes to fill, sand and stain, and we ended up lavishing a whole lot of extra tender loving care on the house in between rain showers. The Guy did 90% of the work, including repairing the pond pump while I stained a little wood and took a few shots.

Maintenance round-up:

Ten dead carpenter bees (sorry but the damage they do to the siding is incredible)

Four working path lights on the walkway to the front door

Several holes on the overhang, filled and ready to be sanded

The frame around the kitchen door stained with Cabot Clearcoat Redwood

All accomplished without disturbing this spider (click for the full-glory version)

Of course even when you think you are done there's always something else. Just as we were packing up for the evening I bent down to pick up the drop cloth and I noticed this. Another bee hole. A miracle of bee engineering and a complete pain in the bee-hind. Grrr.

Friday, May 30, 2008

And on the home front

We haven't been ignoring the house this week. A couple of chores were crossed off the to do list. This guy came down. We haven't had a cover on it since the cabinets went on the wall because I didn't allow for the door opening when I went for the extra long boxes.
The ceiling was primed and we had just enough left-over paint to give it the three coats it needed to make it match seamlessly. Then the new fixture went up and we can now open the cabinet door. Ta da, another problem solved.
We took part in the annual slaughter of the carpenter bees. They only seem to be over the porch this year (so far, anyway) but they've already managed to drill two new holes that will be really difficult to fill unless we get a bigger stepladder.
Things we have to do this weekend: repaint the back door, sand and paint the bottom of the garage door, sand and stain the holes the woodpecker made, stain the new frame around the kitchen door.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring clean up

Do you see what that is? No, not the cute dog with the dopey expression on his face. Up a bit. In the glass? That bright circle in the middle? It's my flash bouncing off the window because it is so freakin' clean. It's taken three years but we The Guy has perfected a system that leaves the windows cleaner than before he washed them. Hurrah. Who knew it was more difficult than rocket science?
Not to be outdone, I rearranged the laundry room (again) and I will reveal the new, great plan to make this room a fully functioning space again at some point in the very near future.
And the landscaper/font of all house knowledge guy came out and cleaned up the yard, including hauling away the dead azaleas (yes, it turns out we lost a couple this winter) but unfortunately he also took the branch that was holding up the fence, so I suspect that will be falling down again soon.
But the yard looks good, and what's better I can see it now through my sparkling windows.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Screens, doors and hostas

How did I spend my day?
First off I fixed the garage door. Not the one that failed in an ice storm on Valentine's Day this year. The other one. Someone had knocked the sensor off its box, either with the car or while manoeuvring the trash-can out of the garage. We should open the other door to take out the trash but one of us is too lazy and the other too clumsy to do it properly. Anyway, half an hour's playing with the lever, pull knob, buttons and sensor box and the door was fully functioning again.

Great room windows and sliding doors

Then I put back the screen door that the clumsy person knocked off its wheels during the party and even fixed the other one that has been only partially functioning since, oh I don't know, last summer. Pretty good going, huh?
And just because I was already sweaty and and dirty, I thought I might as well transplant another dozen or so hostas. What, you thought I'd finished that job weeks ago? Not quite.

transplanted hostas

The thing about transplanting perennials in the fall is that they will die back quickly now and then I'm left to wonder for the next six to eight months if they have really taken, or whether I just wasted several beautiful September days getting mucky when I could have been down at the beach with a book soaking up the last of summer.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Five minute fix

Cabot walnut stain
Originally uploaded by modernemama
I've mentioned this before, but it's amazing how history repeats itself around here, there is nothing like someone announcing they'd like to visit your house for you to fix those little chores you've been putting off since, oh I don't know, June 2004.
This evening I stained this piece of molding that was missing for three years and has been begging to be finished for the past two months. Hurrah for me.
I also dusted, washed floors and vacuumed, even though I know that by tomorrow morning the two dogs and four cats will have shed enough to cover every surface with a thick layer of fur, and if I'm very lucky one of the kittens will have coughed up a pink or green fur ball on the white carpet and the other will have peed on my new duvet cover.
I'm glad someone gave me the impetus to do this though. Who knows how long we might have been living with an 2' untreated piece of wood otherwise?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Power washing chore sparks kitchen design idea

concentrated power washing
Originally uploaded by modernemama
It's that hot, humid time of year when the algae grows like crazy and the beautiful slate patio looks like a mossy lawn.
Steven got the power washer working properly for the first time this year and boy did that green gunge fly off. Unfortunately so did a lot of mortar, too. *Sigh*. You know, it would be really nice to do a job and not cause another little problem by doing that job. Just once.
So next week we plan to spend the holiday weekend power washing the front path, the back patio, the brick path and pool area. Then we'll take that big bag of mortar we have left over from the barbeque project and re-grout the slabs in place.
Just maintenance, not exciting but it has to be done. The benefit is we can see how gorgeous the stone really is. Which led me to a little thought: When we renovate the kitchen, should we put slate like this on the floor to bring the outside in?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tidying up

No renovation, no demolition, no construction, no new purchases. Man this is going to be boring. I mean, seriously, what does that leave?
I decided it left those chores I've been putting off forever because I thought they needed an extra pair of hands. Turns out I could do it all by myself.
I started by throwing out the 10 year old Dell we bought from Belgium as no-one had used it in over a year. Then I fixed the hinge on the desk in Steven's office, moved his desk around so it's L-shaped rather than straight, cleaned the dust off it, kicked some filing boxes into his cupboard and washed the floor. Hurray for me. I think it looks better and will be more efficient, but it's not my space.
So if you're reading this dear, I rearranged your office space. And now can you put up that pendant shade I bought the other week?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Reviewing the weekend

This turned out to be an unforgettable weekend. Not only were we able to tick off all the chores on the list but as it totally poured down all afternoon we took a well-earned nap. Steven reminded me that, in addition to all the other chores he completed this weekend, he also removed the wasps nest from the hemlock nearest the kitchen (he sprayed it with the stuff we use on the carpenter bees and it crashed down, mercifully not unleashing a swarm of angry wasps) and climbed up on the roof to clear the gutters.
One of the neat things about the design of the roofs on this house is that it's relatively easy to climb on them and then you can sit on the edge and clear the gutters with the aid of a stick and a black plastic sack. It was just as well he cleared them because the one under the balsa tree was so blocked with leaves and tiny seeds that the rain would simply have bounced off the gutter and cascaded down the side of the house.
I completed a very successful weekend by placing the winning bid on ebay

for this mid-century wall sculpture, that I will hang on the chimney breast in the great room in place of the mask.


If you think the photo is a lot sharper than my usual efforts, that's because film maker Jake Gorst was here on Friday to look at his grandfather, Andrew Geller's work and he took a few photos, too. Like I said, it was a really memorable weekend.