Sunday, August 27, 2017

more house - looks so much better than it did

We found out in March what hell winter weather, coupled with a half-ass builder, can do to a vacant house. The first set of photos are here, the horror movies are here, and a slideshow with more sad details is here. (All the links open in a new window.)

Scott was up there last weekend to check things over. He said the house looked like an abandoned house in Detroit as far as the landscaping went.

a prairie for a lawn
The house, with a lawn reverting to prairie. (click to see it big!)

Now I love a wild lawn (a Freedom Lawn) and wouldn’t have much of a problem with this, but I’m weird. Doesn’t add to the curb appeal to most people. The HOA and the Town of Oscoda do have a problem with this, so Scott found a ticket in the mailbox threatening pretty pricy fines if things weren’t dealt with by the 18th of August (this was on August 19). The birch tree in the yard (which you can see in the slideshow, linked above) finally gave up the struggle and needs to be removed—it’s never been very healthy there. Scott sent Scooter up to deal with the front yard.

The inside looks so much better, believe it or not, though the woodstove needs restoration.

Family room post remediation
The family room, post-remediation. (click to see it big!)

woodstore needs some love
Definitely needs some restoration—it will be pretty again. It’s a really good stove. (click to see it big!)

Breakfast area near the main break
This looks like the area below where the pipe broke, in the dining area between the kitchen and the family room. I think that’s a dog butt in the upper right corner! (click to see it big!)

lookng down into crawlspace
Looking down into the crawlspace—not sure where this is. Notice the great work the plumber did, notching into the joist. A very small example of the botched plumbing job the asshole(s) did when they cut into the joist holding up the second floor, where the joist was nearly cut through to accommodate the waste pipe for the upstairs full bathroom. (click to see it big!)

more down into the crawlspace
Another view of what lies below. Not sure where this is. (click to see it big!)

And there you have it. It looks so much better now that it’s been cleaned and demolded (is that a word?) Stay tuned ...

posted by lee on 08/27/17 at 12:27 AM

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Sunday, August 07, 2011

moving right along, despite the rain

By Friday evening, Stanley had the tongue-in-groove deck placed. The next steps are trimming the end, sanding, rounding the edges, priming, caulking, then painting. I get to choose the color—I’m not sure yet what color it will be yet, other than it will not not not be battleship gray. He managed to figure out how to deal with one of the framing boards that was way warped. This porch is solid!

Stanley replaces the porch
Wiping up the puddles that got under the tarp—there was an inch of rain last night! (click to see it big!)

Stanley replaces the porch
The deck done, not yet trimmed. (click to see it big!)

Stanley replaces the porch
The edge trimmed, in the middle of sanding. (click to see it big!)

Stanley replaces the porch
A closer look—it’s looking so good. (click to see it big!)

Stanley replaces the porch
Assessing the sanding. (click to see it big!)

Stanley replaces the porch
Getting ready to round the edge. (click to see it big!)

posted by lee on 08/07/11 at 11:42 PM

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

lumber delivered wednesday, progress by thursday!

Stanley replaced rotting clapboards on Tuesday, and ordered the lumber from Torno in Westport. The wood for the new porch cost about $500, delivered. It came around 10:30 a.m. He moved quickly on getting the framing done.

Stanley rebuilds the porch
Stanley assessing things. (click to see it big!)

Stanley rebuilds the porch
The base framing board. (click to see it big!)

Stanley rebuilds the porch
The frame is in and caulked! (click to see it big!)

Stanley rebuilds the porch
Taking a cookie break. Now for the deck ... (click to see it big!)

posted by lee on 08/04/11 at 11:31 PM

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Monday, August 01, 2011

lot of progress monday

Stanley accepted that the frame was way too far gone to try to salvage. Not surprising, since it’s about 60 years old.

Some rotten clapboards were found and needed replacing. (click to see it big!)

The whole is in the crawlspace under the addition—it used to hold the dryer vent. The crawlspace is now Slink’s domain. (click to see it big!)

It looks so weird! (click to see it big!)

posted by lee on 08/01/11 at 11:22 PM

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

it is rotten and it must go!

Stanley got a bee in his bonnet and decided that, at last, the back porch must be replaced. Why today, I have no idea, but I’m glad.

The porch, about 30 years old, was rotting and needed replacing about five years ago. It’s 16 feet by 4 feet.

replacing the porch
Damn! He was hoping the frame was ok, but no ... (click to see it big!)

replacing the porch
Overwhelming! (click to see it big!)

replacing the porch
Just too much rot to salvage. (click to see it big!)

posted by lee on 07/31/11 at 10:56 PM

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

more than 38 inches since december 26

The Boxing Day nor’easter dropped 16 inches of snow here in Norwalk. Last week, we got another six inches. Last night and today, it snowed another 16-18 inches—officially it’s 16 inches but 18 inches in our yard. I was hoping the weather gurus were full of it, but damn, they were, if anything, a bit on the optimistic side!

Since Ruby is still in a cast, we couldn’t let her go out in it, but Bingo, oh wow she loves it!

Bingo and Stanley nor'easter January 12, 2011
Doggie joy—Bingo loves the snow. (click to enlarge)

The Weather Service got the timing right on this one, saying it would start here around 10 p.m. last night. And it did. It was a fierce storm—and one point, I couldn’t see out the window it was so heavy, a sheet of white. I was amazed when I woke up around 7 a.m. and took a look out the window. I updated some closings on WestportNow (lots of great snow photos here), then went back to sleep.

Patio in the snow, January 12, 2011
Bench in the snow. (click to enlarge)

Stanley did most of the shoveling—we really, really need a grown-up snowblower and he promises he’ll get one. The little Snow Fox snow thrower he got me (my wedding present, which I loved, believe it or not) does a decent job but just isn’t able to handle more than six inches at a time without you having to put in a LOT of work. It’s just too exhausting to use it (and the electric cord is really a pain in the ass!) with deep snow.

Stanley Thompson, shoveler-in-chief, January 12, 2011
Stanley (yelling for Bingo here, I think) did most of the shoveling today. (click to enlarge)

We got the part of the driveway that will let us get the car out done and the sidewalk—the sidewalk was really a pain—finished, and called it a day. We don’t have to go anywhere tonight, so we’ll dig out the car tomorrow and maybe even the van. We met our legal obligation (schools are closed tomorrow, anyway). We each had a mug of hot cocoa—stuff Jamie sent us for Christmas—it was good enough to almost make the effort worth it. Well, it was good but maybe not that good.

I know I’m going to be sore tomorrow and Friday and ... and I lost a day of work, some of which I can catch up with this evening, maybe. If I can stay awake—I am really, really tired. I put a put of spaghetti sauce and sausage together before my second round of shoveling—I love my crock pot—we’ll probably eat dinner and collapse.

It’s beautiful out. But enough already.

posted by lee on 01/12/11 at 10:32 PM

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

the annual banished words list

Ah, once again, the only annual list I care about.

Lake Superior State University 2011 List of Banished Words

VIRAL: “This linguistic disease of a term must be quarantined.” Kuahmel Allah, Los Angeles, Calif.

EPIC: More than one nominator says the use of ‘epic’ has become an epic annoyance. “Standards for using ‘epic’ are so low, even ‘awesome’ is embarrassed.” Mike of Kettering, Ohio.

FAIL: One nominator says, “what originally may have been a term for a stockbroker’s default is now abused by today’s youth as virtually any kind of ‘failure.’ Whether it is someone tripping, a car accident, a costumed character scaring the living daylights out a kid, or just a poor choice in fashion, these people drive me crazy thinking that anything that is a mistake is a ‘fail.’ They fail proper language!” “Mis-used. Over-used. Used with complete disregard to the ‘epic’ weight of the word. Silence obnoxious reality TV personalities and sullen, anti-establishment teenagers everywhere by banishing this word.” Natalie of Burlington, Ont.

WOW FACTOR: “This buzzword is served up with a heaping of cliché factor and a side order of irritation. But the lemmings from cable-TV cooking, whatever design and fashion shows keep dishing it out. I miss the old days when ‘factor’ was only on the math-and-science menu.” Dan Muldoon, Omaha, Neb.

A-HA MOMENT: “All this means is a point at which you understand something or something becomes clearer. Why can’t you just say that?” Audrey Mayo, Killeen, Tex.

BACK STORY: “This should be on the list of words that don’t need to exist because a perfectly good word has been used for years. In this case, the word is ‘history,’ or, for those who must be weaned, ‘story.’” Jeff Williams, Sherwood, Ariz.

BFF: “These chicks call each other BFF (Best Friends Forever) and it lasts about 10 minutes. Now there’s BFFA (Best Friends For Awhile), which makes more sense.” Kate Rabe Forgach, Ft. Collins, Colo.

MAN UP: “A stupid phrase when directed at men. Even more stupid when directed at a woman, as in ‘Alexis, you need to man up and join that Pilates class!’” Sherry Edwards, Clarkston, Mich. “Not just overused (a 2010 top word according to the Global Language Monitor) but bullying and sexist.” Christopher K. Philippo, Glenmont, NY.

REFUDIATE: “Adding this word to the English language simply because a part-time politician lacks a spell checker on her cell phone is an action that needs to be repudiated.” Dale Humphreys, Muskegon, Mich.

MAMA GRIZZLIES: “Unless you are referring to a scientific study of Ursus arctos horribilis , this analogy of right-wing female politicians should rest in peace.” Mark Carlson, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: “No one in Washington can pontificate for more than two sentences without using it. Beyond overuse, these people imply that ‘the American people’ want/expect/demand all the same things. They don’t.” Dick Hilker, Loveland, Colo. “Aren’t all Americans people? Every political speech refers to the ‘American’ people as if simply saying ‘Americans’ (or ‘people’) is not enough.” Deb Faust, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

I’M JUST SAYIN’: “‘A phrase used to diffuse any ill feelings caused by a preceded remark,’ according to the Urban Dictionary. Do we really need a qualifier at the end of every sentence? People feel uncomfortable with a comment that was made and then ‘just sayin’’ comes rolling off the tongue? It really doesn’t change what was said, I’m just sayin’.” Becky of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. “And we would never have known if you hadn’t told us.” Bob Forrest, Tempe, Ariz.

FACEBOOK / GOOGLE as verbs: “Facebook is a great, addicting website. Google is a great search engine. However, their use as verbs causes some deep problems. As bad as they are, the trend can only get worse, i.e. ‘I’m going to Twitter a few people, then Yahoo the movie listings and maybe Amazon a book or two.” Jordan of Waterloo, Ont.

LIVE LIFE TO THE FULLEST: “It’s an absurdity followed by a redundancy. First, things are full or they’re not; there is no fullest. Second, ‘live life’ is redundant. Finally, the expression is nauseatingly overused. What’s wrong with enjoying life fully or completely? The phrase makes me gag. I’m surprised it hasn’t appeared on the list before.” Sylvia Hall, Williamsport, Penn.

posted by lee on 01/01/11 at 09:53 PM

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Monday, March 15, 2010

that was one wicked bad storm

The last measurement I saw before the cable went out was a wind gust of 79 mph with sustained winds of 35 mph at the Maritime Center, which is just under two miles from our house. It was a wild day, but the wind was getting worse and worse and even though the warning was supposed to be over at 1 am, it wasn’t. It was scarier in the dark because even if we heard something crash, we couldn’t see what was going on. The cable was off about 24 hours to the minute. March 13 was wild, the early morning of March 14 was wilder, the daytime wet but not so windy.

This morning, Stanley woke me up to tell me that trees were hanging in our next-door neighbors’ power lines, and we had to figure out what we could do about it. My first thought was to winch them back toward true, but when I saw them, they were wrapped in the wires and there was no way anyone could do anything about them while the power was on. Here are some photos:

austrees in power lines 3/14/10
Here the austrees are tangled in the power and telecom lines into our neighbor’s house. He said it happened about 3 am when he and his wife heard the branch banging on his roof. (click to enlarge)

austrees in powerlines
The bigger picture of the big problems.

austrees half uprooted 3/14/10
The trees are half uprooted—it won’t take much of a gust to finish the job and take down the wires and shingles off the roof. Fortunately, the trees are relatively light since they are a willow variant and not a dense oak or maple, so hopefully if they come down they don’t damage the structure of the house. (click to enlarge)

We did call the fire department to ask them what we should do (the neighbors called CL&P). NFD said they’d add it to their list of problems for CL&P to handle, and not to, under any circumstances, even try to do anything about it because the wires are live. We waited all day, but the power company didn’t show up. With 18,000 homes without power in Norwalk alone as of Sunday morning, we weren’t surprised. I’m just getting nervous for Reneev and Ashi because it’s supposed to be pretty windy again tonight.

protected side still shows debris
This part of the patio area was relatively protected, so the debris is a sight to behold. I’m glad nothing came through the picture window. (click to enlarge)

patio mess
The wind flipped the blue glass birdbath bowl out of the ring and about five feet over onto the patio. I’m surprised that we didn’t lose any more huge branches off the pine tree—or that the pine tree itself didn’t topple, though we were told about ten years ago the tree is in great health and very sturdy. (click to enlarge)

tree fallen into the holly
One of the trees along the border of our property—fortunately one belonging to the school and not to us—toppled into our beautiful holly tree. So we now have a view of the school, which doesn’t make me very happy, but what are we gonna do? (click to enlarge)

tree stump storm aftermath
The stump, where it looks like it was just twisted off. Dad said it will probably stay this way for years since it’s the city’s responsibility to clean it up. (click to enlarge)

shingled driveway
Most of the shingles off the outbuildings are gone. The garage has been shedding its roof for years. Now we have a shingled driveway! (click to enlarge)

This wasn’t even a hurricane and the damage is appalling. I’ve never been in a hurricane (except for the Blizzard of ‘78, which was a winter hurricane, when I live in Boston), and after yesterday, I hope that’s an experience I never have. We didn’t even get the worst of the damage—far from it. It was much worse in Westport, as you can see on

posted by lee on 03/15/10 at 01:10 AM

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Friday, February 26, 2010


So far, we have about eight inches of snow. Yesterday, we had 2½ inches of rain. Squirrel Lake appeared at the bottom of the hill until the snow covered it. A lot of H20 this month. Supposedly, it’s not over until tomorrow. Just 22 days until spring ...

Stanley digging out, 2/26/10
Stanley decided to dig out early—hopefully not much more snow will fall. (click to enlarge)

a cold job
He’s listening to an audiobook while he shovels. (click to enlarge)

snowy yard 2/26/10
It was so weird, to watch it rain hard for an entire day and then watch it snow the next day.

dogs in the snow 2/26/10
Bingo and Ruby peeking over the edge of the patio. Bingo loves the snow—but Ruby, not so much. She probably needs a coat and booties since she doesn’t have a double coat. Stanley says Bingo would probably rip Ruby’s booties off her feet and destroy them. (click to enlarge)

woods illusion 2/26/10
I love this view of the school side of the yard—it looks like we’re in the snowy woods and isolated. (click to enlarge)

doggie duet, 2/26/10
It looks like Bingo and Ruby are singing a duet. The reality is they’re playing at biting each other. (click to enlarge)

I hope it doesn’t get too cold tonight—the roads are clear for the most part, but there is just so much water around the roads will probably get slick. I’m glad we only got the edge of the storm—no blizzard conditions here.

I hope it really is finished everywhere because there are loved ones driving long ways over the next few days—Kelly, Leo, and Dale from Panama City Beach, Florida to Ann Arbor, Michigan and Dad from the same place to Natick, Massachusetts.

posted by lee on 02/26/10 at 10:01 PM

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

two new sites

A lot of what we’ve been busy with is behind-the-scenes stuff. But we recently launched two new websites.

Cerulean Advisors

The first, Cerulean Advisors, is for a company that provides capital markets advice as well as unbiased financial and strategic guidance to emerging public and privately held healthcare companies. It’s an elegant site that will expand as the company does. This site, as well as the one below, are built with the Expression Engine content management system, which we like more and more as they polish and improve it.

Robin's Resources

The second site, which is in a soft launch as we fine-tune things, is Robin’s Resources, a site that reviews Fairfield County, Connecticut stores, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, charities, and more, and is geared to busy women. It features succinct reviews and tips on what to look for or to order or why to give your money to a particular charity. Eventually it will have a full directory and be supported by advertising.

posted by lee on 01/28/10 at 12:41 AM

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