Garage Version One-Point-Oh

So our big project for the first summer of home ownership is finally finished. Our Not-A-Garage is now a Garage-Once-More. To recap: the previous owners had converted the garage into an office space and computer repair shop. Things were pretty rough in there, broken shelving, plywood layered on the cement, and in a few places screwed in. The door opener was broken, we did not have any working clickers, the door tracks were gone, the spring was unmounted, and the door itself was beat up really bad.

A couple weeks ago we had a crew in to replace the door and had a belt drive opener added in. Today I did a final clean up of the garage, swept out the piles of loose computer screws, bits of scrap insulation, and piles of dust. I’ve hung the all important guide line, that bit of rope with a tennis ball on the end that bonks into your windshield so you don’t drive too far forward and toast your car.
For the first time since we moved in, for the first time in years, our garage is fulfilling it’s purpose once again: keeping the crazy Calgary weather off our car.

in-stain in the membrane…

There is something wonderful about wood. The grain, knots, the smell; I absolutely love every aspect of working with timber. So it was a shame to see how poorly kept the front deck was at our place when we moved in and cleared off the snow. The cedar deck boards looked like they had never been stained, and had been largely ignored. Mildew, algae and sun damage everywhere. But this is nothing a little pressure washing and some deck stain can’t fix.

The problem with me and staining a deck is the sun. I have this fair skin that likes to turn the colour of cooked lobster if I am in the sun for longer then 30 minutes, and staining this deck was a four hour job. Lots of sun screen SPF 10,000 was applied, but I still may burn. I’m also sort of high from the fumes of the stain… water based or not, the stuff has some chops when it comes to smell. So at this point I am in-stain in the membrane, in-stain in the brain…

Har. Har.

The deck is going to look fantastic once we are done with it. The first coat has taken it from ‘oh my ghawd, dats so GHETTO!’ to ‘Dude, that’s SWEEEET!!’ I’m hoping the second coat takes it all the way to ‘DAY-AHM how much did THAT cost?!’ We shall see.


I was out in the back yard tossing the kitchen scraps into the compost and it was like bushwacking through the jungle to get to the bin. The grass in one area was about a foot deep, which means time to cut the lawn. Problem is we don’t have all the gear to properly deal with the lawn, just this busted up old lawn mower older then me. Being a Riedner, things like that never stop me from starting up motorized devices.

This lawn mower is amazing. It has no rock catcher, no bag, no form that shunts the grass in a safe direction. It was left with the house, in the ‘shed’ in the back yard… the shed with no doors. It’s green, rusting, and held together by paperclips and prayers.

Four pulls and she roars to life! At which point I try to throttle up and see what she’s got… but what’s this? The throttle control isn’t doing a damned thing! Closer inspection shows that the throttle cable is completely borked. So now I am saddled with a gas mower from the 70s that is running, and no way to shut it off.

So I start cutting the lawn, what else am I going to do? Worse case I can just let it run until it drains itself of gas. I know that is about as environmentally friendly as pouring toxic waste into a storm drain, but, like, it’s already running… right?

What happens as soon as I hit some of the thicker jungle? The mower stalls out because the throttle is partly choked. Two pulls, she starts again. Stopping solution found, just stall it out. The next 40 minutes is spent crawling up and down the lawn dodging grass, rock chips, and stick chunks. In the end the mower doesn’t stall on the last chunk of jungle, it plows through it… leaving it running, in the middle of our lawn. Some poking and tinkering and I find the throttle lever and choke it far enough to stall. Horray! Lawn cut!

I think I have invented a new extreme sport: death-mowing.  Oh, and the sprinkler broke while sprinkling… another day in the life of our house.

bread, demo day, and ice trees

So I chose to disappear for the long weekend. I did not go anywhere, I was sort of online, but I was pretty much checked out and away from the social side of my computer for most of the weekend. Instead of doing things online, I did things around the house.

I attempted bread batch number five, this time increasing the moisture content of the dough. Sadly I ran out of white flour, and had to add more whole wheat flour then I expected. Compensated with a bit more yeast. It ended up pretty good, though it is a bit… spongy. Approaching the texture of a panini bun or a foccacia. I also made a dozen cinnamon raisin buns that turned out all right, I don’t have the dough quite right for cinnamon buns, and I think I over-baked them by about 10 minutes. They taste pretty good though.

Sunday was spent in the not-a-garage ripping it apart. The previous owners had converted the single car garage into an office/work area for a PC repair and recycling business. There were all sorts of benches and shelves in various states of death. The floor was covered over in layers of half inch OSB plywood and that plastic stuff you put on the side of houses for moisture protection on a foundation. Thier was a huge shelf built into one wall, and the garage door itself had been covered over with a freestanding ( sort of ) wall. Everything came apart pretty easy, except for a few stripped screws.

Most of it I tore down by hand, which is usually an indication that something wasn’t done right. A few scary moments when I uncovered a hidden junction box where the previous owners had connected some copper cable and run a loose cable over the free standing wall to a light switch by the side door to the garage… and then covered it over with layers of duct tape and plastic sheeting ( not vapour barrier, just some sort of thin plastic… like giant saran wrap ). When I first pulled it out I was freaking, it looked like the duct tape/plastic covering had electrical burn damage. But what looked like burns on closer inspection turned out to be dozens of dead pill bugs that had dried and rotted to the duct tape. Fascinating.

By the end of the afternoon I had ripped everything down and Sarah and I measured our SUV to see how it would fit in the garage. It is going to fit, but barely. It’s pretty tight, the garage is from the mid 70s, so I’m surprised at how tight a fit it is going to be, since the mid 70s was full of boat-like rides. Means less storage in our garage then I would like. There is currently a big pile of plywood, scrap lumber, metal shelving, and drywall in my back yard, if anyone wants some please take it, otherwise the peeps at 1-800-GOT-JUNK are going to get to come over and do a dump run.

Monday I did nothing. Woot. Today I woke up to trees covered in 1-2mm of ice, and they made a noise in the wind like tens of thousands of fairies cracking their knuckles. Very strange…must be due to me waking up at 4:40am and being unable to properly sleep after that.

1-2-3 bullseye, you’re high

So we have this half bathroom en suite off our master bedroom that is turning into the one ‘disaster DIY’ area of our home. The current theory is that when the home was built in 1973 the interior of the house was painted with a high gloss oil paint. At some point in the 80s ( two owners ago ) someone seems to have poorly primed the walls and started painting latex over the oil. For those in the know this is tricky stuff. You have to rough up the oil paint with sandpaper ( all of it ) and then use a tough primer like 1-2-3 Bullseye. This seals off the oil so the water based latex paint can bind to the walls.

But in our bathroom this wasn’t done, so when we started painting the walls the paint in high moisture areas such as around the sink started to bubble. We were at one point pulling off strips of paint 10 centimitres wide and a meter long. ( 4″ and 3′ for the metric challenged. ) But we made the mistake of not pulling off everything right then. We got bummed out. We were tired of painting, so we went home for the day. While we were away the paint partially recured to the walls, and things got really nasty. I tried removing the paint on the walls but after spending an hour to remove about one square foot I gave up. We’ve decided to putty, prime, and repaint.

The proper solution is to rip the drywall off. But that means redoing electrical, plumbing ( have to remove a toilet and vanity ), and structure ( may as well fix the damned room and any problems since it is getting ripped down. ) It would be a $3000 – $7500 job, and we just don’t want to deal with it. So we are painting over the problem, knowing we have to fix it later.

The cool thing about this little en suite is that it has no fan. That means that when you are in there with 1-2-3 Bullseye, you get high. Like I mean inhalent huffing eyes running nose dripping high because the ventilation is so poor. We’ve got fans running to get air ciculation, but even with that you are sure to get stoned. So right now I’m a bit toasted, and I keep blinking really fast… but the priming is done. Fingers crossed it binds and cures to the wall.