Monday, September 23, 2013


I've never been fond of ladders.

Back when I was repairing the eaves on my old house, I needed a 40' ladder to reach the peak at the front  of the house.  My daughter was working for a roofing company at the time, and they agreed to loan me one of theirs.

So, the weekend after it was delivered, I hauled it from the backyard, extended it and propped it against the side of the house.  Before starting my climb, I stepped back, and looked up - and up, and up.

OK, I told myself.  Lots of people climb ladders like this every day.  They don't fall off.  Ignore that voice that says, 'yeah, but what about the ones who DO take a tumble?'.  Start climbing.  Take it one step at a time.

Paintbrush and scraper firmly in my back pockets, I grabbed my paint bucket, told my daughter to hold the bottom of the ladder steady, and started on up.  Halfway there, I stopped to catch my breath and look around.  It wasn't so bad; things are pretty from 15 feet off the ground.

So, I continued to the top.  I rested my paint bucket on the top rung, and as I did so, happened to look down - and down, and down.  That was a mistake.  My hands froze to the sides of the ladder.  Reaching around to grab my brush out of my pocket seemed foolhardy at best.  Every move I made seemed certain to shake me off my rickety perch and send me tumbling.

Stop, I told me.  Breathe.  This work isn't going to do itself.  Slowly, one at a time, I pried my fingers loose from their secure hold.  (that prying was mental, of course.  I certainly wasn't about to let go with BOTH hands, now was I?)   Barely breathing, I marshalled my fears.  Clinging to the ladder with my other hand and my shins, I slowly dipped the paintbrush into the can and got to work.

Fortunately, the peak of the roof isn't all that wide, and it only took me a few minutes to complete the work at the highest point.  I gratefully grabbed my paint can and eased my way down to the ground and safety.

I lowered the ladder several feet, and started back up again.  When I got to the top, it suddenly didn't seem too bad - this time, I didn't look down, and I could look up and see that I wasn't as far off the ground as I'd been a few minutes earlier.  An hour or so later, the work was done.  And I was done in.  I was exhausted and shaking - that facing down your fears stuff takes a LOT of work!

Ever since that day, I've been able to climb my measly little 24 footer with relative ease; by comparison it's a piece of cake.  (even if I do still end up with bruises on my shins from using them to hold onto the rungs.)

But I'm still not fond of ladders.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wiring Complete

A little over a week later, the new wiring is complete and the house is covered in dust.

The electrician was great.  As long as he was here, he added in a bunch of new outlets.  He had some great tricks for cutting into walls and studs, and only had to cut one hole in the ceiling.

He was helped along by the hack job on the wiring.  They hadn't replaced the old knob-and-tube wires, but someone had gone through the time and effort to install a ground loop to the grounded outlets.  (I can't figure this one out - why take the time and energy to run just the ground?  It would have cost almost nothing more to just do the job right!  The expense in running the wire is getting it through the walls, not the cost of the wire itself...)
Because they'd taken time to run the new wire, he was able to just tie his fish tape to it, and pull it back up through the walls.

What we found in the walls was downright scary - there was one spot where they'd wired the old aluminum fragile wires back to the box, then stuck the free ends up into the wall cavity.  Much pull at all on that circuit, and the electricity could have arced across those wires and started smouldering and...  we don't need to go there.

Back on a positive note, I learned a new wiring trick.  It only works when the wire you're replacing is in conduit, but if it is...  Instead of trying to fish a tape through the twists and turns of the pipe, you just tie a piece to string to a kleenex and stick it in one end of the pipe.  Go to the other end, put a vacuum hose to the opening, and turn on the machine.  As long as the conduit is relatively well sealed, it will pull the tissue and string along through the pipe.  Then, you can tie your fish tape to the string, pull it back through, and use that to pull your wire.  Do you have any idea how much time this trick would have saved me when we were doing the wiring in my old house?  I'm impressed - it's a great trick.  (Joe tried it on one of his jobs; worked slicker than banana peels.)

I'm almost done with the plaster repair, which means I should be able to start cleaning up the dust (and not having it immediately replaced) by the end of this week.

Baby steps.  baby steps.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


There's something to a theory I've heard about how having too many choices makes it harder to make a decision.

I've been looking at new blinds for the house for a couple of months now.  I usually buy my blinds from an online site called; I've had real good luck with their products.  Twice now, in the last few months, they've had a great sale.

The first time, I missed it solely because I couldn't make up my mind.  Too many options, too many choices, what if I missed the best deal?

Brand name or generic?  mini-blinds or cellular shades?  regular or should I spring for the top-down/bottom-up option?  white, off-white, ivory, buff?  what if it doesn't match the paint?

Arrgh!  It's enough to drive you crazy!

So, this last week, when their Labor Day sale rolled around, I decided to bite the bullet.  I went to the site, found the cheapest cellular shade they had with a top down/bottom up option.  Then I got to the color selection.  Fortunately for my dithering mind, they only had six choices, and three were unsuitable.  But that still left three options - white, ivory or tan?

My fingers strayed.  My mind wandered.  But I persevered.  I went back to the page, and decided I wasn't allowed to navigate away from the website until I'd made my decision.  How hard could this be?  I sweated.  I pondered.  I chose.

Tan it is.  (I know, the suspense was killing you...)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sleep In Mornings!

Pacific Ocean
My absolute favorite way to begin a morning is to sleep in - to wake when I wake without an alarm.  These past three days have all been sleep-in days, and it's been wonderful.

I went to bed just a bit later than I usually do - it's a treat for me to get to stay up late.  (I sometimes think I'm regressing - the last time my bedtime was so closely monitored, I was eleven!)  When I woke up in the morning, instead of hopping out of bed, I had the leisure to lay there and take my time in waking.  For thirty, forty-five minutes I drifted between sleep and wakefulness, dreams blending with my waking worries in bizarre fashion. 

And, to ice the cake, I did almost nothing yesterday.  When I finally got up, I exercised, then went to sit on the porch with a good book.  And then, I...  Oh, wait.  I didn't anything.  I didn't DO much of anything else all day.  And it was a delightful feeling.  It's been a long time since I took time to just sit and read.  The weather was perfect, with a light breeze.   The bugs weren't biting, the shade was inviting, the view when I looked up from my book, refreshing.

Work's been nonstop since I returned to town, and my house is turning into a money pit.  I've been tired and stressed and going and going and going.  I had a hard time convincing me to stop even for part of the weekend.  The to-do list is long and a lot of it needs to be done before winter.  I've been caught up in doing, and I forget I need time to just be.

So, it's good to remind myself to stop, breathe and relax.  Because if I don't, no one is going to want to spend any time in my company - including me.