25 December 2009

R I P Loki

I can't tell you how much I hate writing another post like this, but there isn't any home improvement going on lately to keep me occupied.

Loki, as I wrote previously, was in the habit of taking summer-long "vacations" away from home and yard and living in the next block somewhere.  He may have snuck home for food after dark, but I didn't see him this year until just a week before Thanksgiving.  He was skinny, going blind, and had no teeth.  His fur looked good, though, so he was eating somewhere.

I think he contracted kidney disease over the summer, like several other of my cats had when they got older.

I knew it was just a matter of time before I would be digging another grave.  I hoped he would make it until Spring when the ground is soft, but he died this morning just before 4:00 a.m. while I was petting him.

Fuzzy pic of Loki and his brother Tigger when they were kittens.

1 Oct 1996 - 25 Dec 2009

29 November 2009

RIP Lexington

2008-29 November 2009
Lexy died in his doctor's arms today.  He had an internal injury that the doctor couldn't find.  Goodbye my curious sweet-natured little boy.  I'll miss your funny loud purr every night.

28 November 2009

Followup on the Pit Bull Attack

Lexington is staying at the vet all weekend because he is not doing as well as the vet would like.  Dr wants to make sure he is eating well and the shunt is draining and Lexy is getting fluids, etc before he sends him home.  That is fine with me.  They can care for him much better than I can.   Poor little guy.

I went out this morning to take pictures of the fence damage and have come to the conclusion that stupid dog got in my yard and broke the fence trying to get at Lexy (probably after chasing the other cats around first--they were all pretty panicked and ran inside when I was running out)  I couldn't hear anything until the growling because I had the door shut.

The screws are only in about 1/2 inch, but it takes a lot of force to do this amount of damage.  The attack happened right beside that bush on the terrace.  Lexy was undoubtedly outside the fence in front of deranged neighbor's house on the left and tried to get home when he heard the ruckus.  I will give these pictures to the Sheriff when he gets here on Monday.

Stupid Neighbors, Stupid Dog

My cats go outside.  Only when I am home and they are called in when it gets dark or is raining.  They usually stay inside the fence, but like all cats and children, explore the neighbor's yards cautiously while making their rounds.  Lexy likes to sit just outside the driveway gate where he can pop back in through the pickets when he wants to.  I think it's cruel to make them stay inside when they don't want to and they are usually pretty good with coming when I call.  I have some cats that don't want to go out.  That's ok too.  I also have one who lives outside most of the time because he pees on all vertical surfaces.

My entire yard has either a 6' board or 4' picket fence to keep out the dogs and children, but if one of them is determined they could still breach the perimeter.  Some of the houses on my block have college students who never come outside, so the cats feel safe to explore their yards.  Several yards have dogs.  Several have kids.  I have not had any problems with dogs or kids for a long time.

I heard a commotion outside this afternoon--sounded like cats growling--which I hear a lot because some of my cats are grouchy and like to chase each other around outside--but different somehow.  I saw past the driveway gate a ball of yellow and black fur rolling around on the terrace.  As I ran toward it I saw that there was a yellow dog fighting one of my black cats.  I opened the gate and saw that there was a fence picket laying on the sidewalk so I picked that up and began whacking the dog's butt with it.  It finally let go and I saw that it was a pit bull.  I chased it to the corner as my cat limped back through the fence.  When I got to the corner there was a girl with a leash, who I have seen walking this dog--always on a leash.  She was alarmed that I was carrying a picket and I yelled that her dog had just attacked my cat--I'm not getting close to either of them at this point.  I wanted to see where the dog went.  The girl was getting belligerent as I explained that her dog had badly injured my cat and I was trying to see where she lived.  She was not saying she was sorry this happened at ANY point during this confrontation.  She was acting like her letting the dog run around outside without a leash was my fault.

Gotta love those stupid pit bull owners.  It's never their fault when one of their uncontrollable dogs attacks a pet or a person.

As I was hurrying home to see how badly injured my cat was another cretinous neighbor--the one who gives me the bird every time he sees me and never fails to have a string of cursing ready to throw my way (because I told him when he stopped swearing at me I would start listening to him)--had the nerve to say.  "See what happens when you don't keep your *&*&*## cats in your yard"  I told him to shut up and kept walking and he kept flinging invectives at me so I stopped and yelled as loud as I could "I LOVE you Zeke and want to have your baby!"  His look was priceless and he muttered that I was too stupid for him.  I continued to say "But I LOVE you, Zeke" until I was in my own yard.*  That's my new tactic for dealing with him.  My way of swearing.

Lexy was badly injured and was having trouble walking so I took him into the house and got him in a box with towels and made a vet appointment.  They graciously made room for me so I rushed him over.  He was covered with dog spit, poor little guy.  He crawled into my lap while I was driving.

His exam showed several puncture wounds and a massive rip of his lower belly that fortunately was just through the skin and fat--not touching organs or muscle.  His fat tummy was an asset! 

The vet called me after surgery and said Lexy was still touch and go but he would check on him later.  I had an appointment to keep with a part-time job I have so I went after I got the report.  There was nothing on my answering machine when I got home, so I'll assume everything is good for picking him up tomorrow.

I called the police to make a report and they referred me to Animal Control.  Of course, their office was closed, so I called the Sheriff.  A nice officer took my report and said that he couldn't get out to visit the dog's home until after the weekend, so one good thing is that they will worry all weekend what is going to happen to them.  He will call me before he goes there to get an update on my cat.

When I came back from the vet's I noticed that the fence section with the missing picket was torn loose from the posts at both ends.  This section had just been repaired 2 months ago, so it was secure.  It looks like the stupid dog dragged my cat through the fence as he was trying to get away or something.  It's not that easy to rip both sides of a fence loose and take a picket off without a lot of force.  I will have to take pictures and repair this before the officer can get out here because a broken fence is an invitation in this neighborhood--especially with irresponsible pet owners around.

Oh, and my unemployment ran out two weeks ago and I have not been informed about any extensions.  But I fought off a pit bull today.

*If you have ever looked at http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/ this guy would fit right in.  A cadaverously skinny redneck with an Ernhardt hat and shirt and a scuzzy gray ponytail who smokes and drags an oxygen canister around and is lately driving an electric cart.  (Not) married to a fat bleached blonde with her own multiple ailments and a foul mouth to match his.  I have known this couple for over 15 years and they have always been on some kind of medical assistance and banned from driving.  No visible sign of income, and signs plastered all over their doors about their own dangerous dog, and Don't knock on the door, etc.  A lovely couple who I am waiting to hear have died, but they never do, though they have come close a few times.

21 November 2009

The Birds

Pretty scary looking, isn't it?  There were a lot more of them in the other trees, too, all screeching and pooping.  I wore a hat to go out to the compost pile and was glad I did.  This was last week when I was trying to do some outside painting while the weather was still in the 50's and not rainy.  I had to wash the bird poop off the cellar doors twice before I could paint them, but did get a coat on that's relatively untouched.  Got another coat on the front porch, too.  Hopefully it will hold up over the winter.  The undercoat and oil I put there last fall did not.

Here is the other thing I accomplished, which usually is cut short by snow.

I always pile them in the side yard and they flatten out over the winter.  I have been piling them here for 15 years, so it must be pretty good soil by now.

The Cat Came Back!

Loki came back tonight!

I had written him off last week as deceased over the summer.  He has been taking summer vacations from home for the past 4 or so years and showing up again when it gets cold, but this year he was late, so I figured he was dead.  He's back, but very bony and he has lost all his teeth.  He is, after all, 13 years old, but very independent.
He is destined to be an inside cat now that I see his condition is deteriorating, even though it will be a battle with the other cats, as it always is.  That is why he runs away.  He is basically timid and the other cats intimidate him and chase him, so he runs to the next block where there must be some source of shelter for him (even though I provide warmth and shelter right here) and sneaks back for food.  As there are many animals eating my outside cat food I was not aware he was also eating it.
Loki's sib, Tigger, died last summer.  So far he is not eating that wonderful, rarely seen canned cat food I prepared specially for him, though he did lick the can.  I hope he is not also sick.

28 October 2009

A Pissed-Off Pussy

Poor little Bertie!  On Saturday morning I noticed that his right ear was all swollen like a balloon.  Of course I couldn't get to the vet until Monday, so I took him in and the diagnosis was hematoma caused by ear mites.  Somehow the mites made his ear fill up with blood.

I had to leave him to have an operation the next day to drain the pocket and quilt his ear back together.  That's right.  Quilt his ear back together.  He ended up staying two nights and I just went and got him.  He is having quite a problem navigating.  He wants to travel close to the walls and objects instead of just going down the middle and keeps bumping into things.  I think they fastened the cone too narrow and want to widen it out a bit so he can eat and see and not be all squished in there, but he won't let me do it right now.  It's held together with duct tape, so will be quite the project.

I have a couple kitties traumatized under the bed right now because they saw this monster in their kitchen.  Sibley is acting quite courageous and stalking Bertie to get a good sniff.  Three of the kitties have not seen him yet, so there will be more drama later.  I took the hood off one of the litter boxes so he can use it, but that may prove to be the most attractive box in the house.  (Not in the pretty sense.)

I have to take him back in two weeks to get the stitches out and he has to wear the collar the whole time.  We'll see.  His poor little ear is covered by pink sutures.

17 October 2009

Storm Windows Finished

They're done! The hardest part was fiddling around with the hooks and eyebolts to hold them in.  There wasn't a lot of room between the storms and the windows, and there was a quarter-round trim piece holding the windows in, so had to screw to that.  Not being able to stretch out the length of the hook makes the storms a little jiggly.  The maid's room feels warmer already.  Next is replacing some torn insulation and eradicating some bird condos

Fall is so depressing.  It's my most unfavorite time of year next to winter.

The only saving grace is fall crocuses.

11 October 2009

Installing Spring Bronze Weatherstripping

While the putty is drying on the storm windows I have finished two coats of exterior paint on the multi-paned windows and shaved the edges down a little to make room for the spring bronze weatherstripping.

I purchchased a box of it and the bronze nails to install it with here.  It is a little hard to work with if you are doing this by yourself, and another person holding the ends down would have helped a whole lot, but I got 'er done.

It's really easy to cut with tinsnips.  I laid it on the floor after measuring around two sides and the bottom of the opening, standing on the coil with one foot and measuring and cutting and holding it down with the other foot.  The nails go through it like butter and they are placed about an inch apart.

At the corners, to get a nice crease, I nailed down to near the bottom then placed a block of wood in the corner and hit it from two sides with a hammer to bend the bronze.  At the end, instead of cutting off the excess I just bent it to a 45 degree angle.

For the top piece I measured about an inch longer and bent the ends and stuck them behind the side pieces and hammered them in.

The hardest part is the last--bending the weatherstripping to have "spring".  You take a screwdriver or flat scraper and insert it under the strip and pull towards you all along the length of the strip.  I then inserted my windows and temporarily tacked them in with scraps of wood because I will have to take them out again next week sometime when the putty finally dries and I give the storms two coats of exterior paint. 

I had intended to also add the missing outside sash trim at this time, but don't have the router bit I need ($97!!) to put the right profile on it.  I had a carpenter lined up to do this for me but just before I was walking out the door he asked me what profile I needed.  I said that I had indicated which one in my email, but I guess he didn't read it, because he said he had no panel bits at all.  Oh well.  Greg!  Come to Michigan and bring your panel bit!

By the way, I'm loving the fact that Blogger finally got their act together and made picture insertion so much easier!  You all know what I mean!

07 October 2009

Making Storm Windows

Following are the steps I'm using in making storms for these windows, which I had made 15 years ago to go in the wall that was repaired because it was rotten from the water eating away at it for years (previous owner).

First I measured the space, bought the wood, cut and mitered it, then routed a channel on the inside edge of the outside of the window with the bit in the lower right of this fuzzy picture (sorry!).

I am a router novice, but am learning.  I made two passes a little over 1/8" deep each to make a nice deep shelf for the glass about half-way through the depth of the frame.  It ended up being about 1/2" deep.

Then I assembled the frame with glue and corner clamps and then secured it on the back side with flat screw-on corner braces, since I don't have a fancy biscuit-cutter for joining.  Note to self:  Never use the table saw for mitering again!

After painting an undercoat on the whole frame I purchased glass and put it in with glazier's points.  Gotta admit, that routing looks sweet!
Then I smushed glazier's putty around the frame, covering the points.  It's ok to be a little messy at this point--just don't get putty all over the glass.
Then take the putty knife--be sure it is not rusty and rough--and start at a corner, tilting it at an angle that meets the top edge of the frame on the other side and is tight to the bottom of the frame on the other.  Easier done than said.  It is about a 45 degree slant on the knife.  Just keep it nice and firm--use two hands if that helps--and slowly drag it to the other corner.  At the corner, lift the knife up making a nice bevel in the corner.  If your putty is fresh, this will go quickly.
AAAACCCKKKK  I don't believe it!  I ran out of putty 8 inches from being finished!  This was a new 8 oz container and it didn't even do two windows roughly 36" by 34".  Must keep that in mind.  I'm going out later and was going to stop at Meijer's on my way home, so will have to add another container to the list.  It will take days to dry, so adding the final 8" won't be a problem.  I have to put another coat of paint on the multi-paned windows anyway and then put the spring bronze weatherstripping around the opening.

I'm going to hold the storms in with hooks and eyes as I don't want to climb a latter and hang them from the outside, although this would be the best way to do them.  These windows are going to be fixed-in-place windows so I'll just have to remove the inside moldings if and when the storms need attention in the future.

04 October 2009

Buy Locally

I really want to support local businesses instead of national chains, but it's hard.  It's really hard.

I'm finally getting around to weatherizing the former maid's room that had an exterior wall replacement in 1995.  Has it really been that long?  I had stuck some insulation between the studs on the inside and called it done until it was remodeled into a bigger bathroom/laundry.  Well, no timeline on when THAT will happen, yet, but the windows needed attention.

When I removed them I found that some of the putty has dried out, some new paint is called for, and there is some rot starting on the bottom of one where the gutter drips onto the sill.  There was also some rot starting on the outside sash, so I gouged it out and got out the WoodEpox and LiquidWood and took care of that problem.  Also silicone caulked where necessary and painted the trim and sill.  I undercoated the inside of the sash and sanded the edges.  I need to take off about 1/8 " on a side and bottom because I'm installing spring bronze weatherstripping around these windows when I put them back in.

While I had the windows out I thought I might as well replace the decorative trim that went on the outside sash and build storm windows.  This is what precipitated the trip to the local lumberyard.

This local business, about one mile away, has been around for probably over 100 years at this site, but has really trimmed back on products and services.  If you want a really nice piece of clear pine instead of sorting through hundreds of holey, bent, twisted, and rotted pieces of wood at Menard's or Home Depot this is the place to go.  You also pay well for it.

I needed, ultimately (2) pieces of 2" x 1" x 10' and (2) 2-1/2" x 1" x 12' for my trim and storms.  I like to pick out my own wood.  I also asked if they had a carpenter on site who would make my trim.  The answer was "not today" but he is in on Friday.  (This was last Wednesday.)  I said "Never mind.  Do you have a card of a carpenter?"  They gave me one and I will be seeing him on Monday--hopefully he will work out because I periodically need a carpenter.

I headed out to the wood shop after horrified looks from the counter staff.  I told them I wanted to pick out my own wood and had been doing it there for years.  (I have gone there periodically over the years.)  The worker in the wood shop was nice and polite but denser than waterlogged cedar.  I told him what I wanted and he started wandering around looking for it.  There were no stacks of lumber cut to size back there.  They seem to cut all on demand.  We found two nice pieces--one 12' long and one 14' long.  I explained over and over and over what I wanted him to do and finally found out that I had to pay for all the cuts to make the pieces I wanted.  Vertical cuts were $1.25 and horizontal cuts were $.50.  Naturally I wanted to make as few as possible.  The wood was 6" wide, so this guy wanted to make two vertical cuts in each and lop off 2' from the 14 footer.  That was unacceptable and I finally convinced him just to cut at 2" vertically on each piece and cut off 2' from the 14 footer.  This took quite a while to get across.  I then went inside the store to get the lumber order for him to get my order.  This had morphed from me wanting 4 pieces of lumber to "creating" 4 pieces of lumber and when she wrote it up it was $45!  I suspected it wasn't right, but went out to have it cut.  The worker also said that it wasn't right but he would get them to revise it after he was done, and then he cut them at 2-1/2"!  I had lost patience, so said "That's fine.  Leave it like that."

I had been charged for the 14' piece of wood, even though I was leaving 2' behind.  This stuff was $1.52/bd foot.  I got a refund, but I think they made an error to my credit.  I tried to buy the other things I needed there, but they only had one corner brace in the box and they were 69 cents each.

It took so long there that I had no time left to go to the hardware store for the braces and sandpaper so I just went carefully home with my 12' boards sticking out of my 6' truck bed during rush-hour traffic.  I ended up going to Meijers later and got two packages of braces, 4 to a package, with all the screws for about $1.99/package.

I really want this business to succeed but don't see how they can if they sell wood like that.  I only had them rip it because I wanted the 12' pieces and they are too long for me to handle on the table saw by myself, not having a wood roller thingie. They do have nice wood, though.

I've cut and mitered the storm window pieces and routed out 1/2" for the glass to sit on and glued them up.  Tomorrow I'll screw the corner braces on and undercoat and paint them and Monday will go for some glass and if I get up early enough, get it put in.  I have to use corner braces because I don't have a bisquit joiner or screw pocket gizmo.

It started raining the day after I took the windows out, so we'll see if the weather will cooperate until I get these holes in my house filled.

20 September 2009

Piano Stool Transformation

Finally got it done today.  Ain't she a beauty?  This was the worst strip job I've ever done.  All those grooves and curves!  Found the best tool was good old steel wool and a dental pick.  I opted to make it look new instead of leaving the feet all brown and rust-encrusted.  The glass balls are really chewed up on the bottoms but they still shine.
Since the wooden seat top was missing and someone put that rough wood on there I made a nice thick cushion and used some crushed velvet I had laying around and tacked it tight all around.  I found some fringe that matched perfectly to cover the tacks and give it some oomph.  In the picture the colors are a little off.  In reality the trim matches.

01 September 2009

More "Projects"

Take a look at the neat Eastlake-Style Gentleman's Chair I picked up Sunday at Allegan for $30.


Lexington says "I'm a Gentleman".
I'm thinking that this is quite late in the Eastlake period as the decoration looks more modern than on the other chairs I have. It's missing casters on the feet and needs better upholstery, but it is in good shape and just has one repair that I can see.
I also picked up this piano stool for $35. It needs some tlc and somebody removed the wooden seat when they "upholstered" it, so I will probably make a leather padded seat for it.

Here it is after removing 72 staples and foam and the blanket cover. I found a layer of Depression Green under the white and the glass feet are really chipped and ground down, so this poor little stool has seen a lot of rough use.

I had a nice closeup of one of the claw feet but Purrcey got in the way.

After I had bought this and taken it back to the truck I found another one for $30 that was in better shape. Oh well! Will post progress reports.

06 August 2009

Time for a Little Politics

Our governor, Jennifer Granholm (MI - D), in her infinite wisdom, has decided, probably upon pressure from benefitting interests, to demolish the State of Michigan Department of History, Arts, and Libraries (HAL). That was not enough. She also decided to establish a brand spanking new "Michigan Center for Innovation and Reinvention". It will have a board of nine members to divvy up the carcass of HAL. Here is the makeup of that board. (I have just found out that Blogger will not let me cut and paste.)

"Nine members will form the Michigan Center for Innovation and Reinvention Board: the director of the Department of Natural Resources, superintendent of public instruction, and seven gubernatorial appointees. Three of the members selected by the governor will be from a list of candidates nominated by President Simon, and a fourth will be from a list of candidates nominated by Mayor Bernero. The board will issue its final report to the governor by June 1, 2010."

Look at that list. The DNR, three cronies of the president of MSU, a person selected by the Mayor of Lansing, the "superintendent of public instruction"--that leaves three people without an agenda, but they will also be hand-picked by the governor. This does not look good for historians, genealogists, and preservationists in the State of Michigan.

If you read the article I linked to above and scroll down to the very bottom you see what happens to the State Historic Preservation Review Board. It goes to MSHDA! All the irreplaceable historical records and books go to the DNR! And they will "evaluate and implement additional cost saving measures". What does that mean? Will our archives end up as litter in the bottom of animal cages, or as landfill in some state park? Why put an agency devoted to the outdoors in charge of things that should be stored INDOORS? And with MSHDA running the Historic Preservation Review Board will we now be mandated to use vinyl windows and siding and "encapsulate" all lead paint? I shudder to think what will happen.

The Department of Education will now be running the Library of Michigan with the same caveat to "evaluate and implement additional cost saving measures". Oh, wonderful.

And who will get the wonderful, almost new building just two blocks from the capitol? Why, probably MSU!

Here are some links to articles written by other concerned genealogists/historians:

If you are a resident of the State of Michigan, please take the time to let the governor know how you feel about this at this link: http://www.michigan.gov/gov/0,1607,7-168-21995-65331--,00.html

Sorry for all the links, but this is an important issue and I wanted to cover all the bases.

05 August 2009

A Little Reconstruction, Fini

Had a few days of rain and/or wind over the weekend, and, as I was doing this outside I had to wait. Finally got the chair finished yesterday. I had some Formby's "Tung Oil Finish" here so tried that and it looks great. Got some clear shoe polish for the leather seat, put on two coats and it's nice and shiny. Worn and beat up, but hey, it's old. I'd had to remove some ugly paint splotches from it already.

My mother offered me another chair just like it, but not broken--just in need of some TLC so I'm taking it. I have no idea what I'll do with it, but it's solid oak with a leather seat, so it will look nice no matter where I put it.

A little dark, but I didn't feel like hauling it back outside.
Now I need to finish the sideboard. . . .

31 July 2009

A Little Reconstruction, Part Tres

I ran into a little snag today with my router. I have had it for a long time, but haven't used it very often, but want to get more proficient with it. I know it's bottom-of-the-line, but should work ok for what I want to do with it. I just had to make one of these:

They hold the seat on. First off, I couldn't find the owner's manual for the router. I always like to check them out before I operate any of the machines I have around here because I don't use them all that often. Looked in all the places it should have been. Don't remember seeing it for a long time, so the ex must have put it somewhere. So I went online and found one in 15 minutes. I love the internet! Printed it out for free and figured out how to get the cutter on and off.

I cut up a piece of the right thickness of wood and started trying to set the height of the cutter. Another problem. The thing you're supposed to turn to raise and lower the cutter got jammed up by my weak girly hands and I had to take the stupid thing apart to re-align it. Got that done and then the stupid fences kept moving no matter how tight I turned the thumb-screws. I even hit them with a hammer and they still moved. So the piece I ended up with is not pretty but very functional.

Got them glued and hammered into place. By this time it was 8:00 at night and I wasted all afternoon on it. But hey! I'm unemployed and have nothing else to do. Still haven't checked to see if I have any poly for tomorrow . . .