Sunday, July 18, 2010

Communication Skills

Him: "Hon, the rug between the kitchen and the dining room crawls into the kitchen, so I...."
"Me: "What rug?"
Him: The small rug between the kitchen and the dining room... it crawls into the dining room..."
Me: "The small rug crawls into the dining room?"
Him: "NO wait.. the living room... it crawls..."
Me: "What...? Which....which way does it go?"
Him: Not the dining room, the livingroom. From the kitchen..."
Me: " OK... from where to where?"

Him:" ..... North."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stair Trim... how do people do this?

OK, there is something we've been putting off for years, and it's about time to put the task to bed. The floor trim on the stairs.

Along the outside wall there is no trim yet (on the right side of the stairs looking up).

We know darn well that these 150 year old stairs are not even, not at 9o degree angles, and may not even be the same heights from stair to stair. So how do you trim out the stairs?

We saved several 16' long trim boards from the floor trim so that we could match, and hopefully create something seamless and unobtrusive, but right now all we have is drywall and carpeting.

I mean we can't just measure the first step, trace it out on the trim board then hope that all of the following cuts match... and we can't cut out one step then check to see if it fits before you cut the remaining steps... and I don't want to cut out each step individually and then put a small trim piece across the top.... and I just can't seem to find any sort of way to trace the step dimensions onto a single 16' foot board.

Oh, and all of the steps have bullnose edges.

So how do I make all of the individual cuts in the 16' long trimboard so that when I put it into place on non-standard, non-even, non-90* angle steps... and have it fit and not look like %@*&?

I'd really like to find a really big scoring tool, or a massive compass like my teachers used to use in school for making arcs in algebra class on the chalkboard.

But there's got to be an easier way.

I'm fishing for ideas folks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

EPA Makes Us LESS Safe From Lead

The EPA has sun-set the opt out provision for "Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting" rule. That means that even folks who aren't pregnant nor have children will have to comply with the added expense of extra preparation, clean-up and recordkeeping requirements that the EPA has imposed. The NAHB is suing.

This from the article:

Remodelers’ and other contractors’ estimates of the additional costs associated with the lead-safe work practices average about $2,400, but vary according to the size and type of job. For example, a complete window replacement requires the contractor to install thick vinyl sheeting to surround the work area both inside the home and outdoors – with prep time and material costs adding an estimated $60 to $170 for each window.

“Consumers trying to use rebates and incentive programs to make their homes more energy efficient will likely find those savings eaten up by the costs of the rule’s requirements. Worse, these costs may drive many consumers – even those with small children - to seek uncertified remodelers and other contractors. Others will likely choose to do the work themselves – or not do it at all – to save money. That does nothing to protect the population this rule was designed to safeguard,” Jones said.

Folks, as you know, we're a big proponent of lead-safe work practices. We really encourage do-it-yourselfers to get certified and to learn about how to work with lead paint safely. I STRONGLY urge folks to learn about this, especially because you can so easily and cheaply decrease or eliminate current and future exposure risks once you stop freaking out and learn a little bit.

The problem, in my view, has been two-fold; Hysteria ("ACK! My house has lead paint! We're all going to get brain damage!"), and excessive regulation (eliminating op-outs and lowering tolerance levels for environmental lead). In real life, where people have to make and take calculated risks and when people have limited resources, excessive regulation or the threat of massively expensive mandated remediation is counter productive. In the real world, the perfect is the enemy of the good. As public policy, excessive regulation of lead paint and work practices in such places makes us LESS safe.


Because people of limited means (the types who more often live in older buildings with lead paint) will be more likely hire a fly-by-night/rip-it-out-by-night contractor to evade regulation. This means that there's a greater likelihood for lead dust to be released not only in the home but in the neighborhood. Or folks are going to ignore the risks and do the project themselves, subjecting their home and neighborhood to the same risks.

We don't need a perfectly lead-free environment right now. What we need is for folks to be able to decrease the amount of environmental lead in a reasonably safe manner and we need for folks who are most at risk to be most protected. If folks can't afford to do the work, it won't get done and the lead hazard will remain. If folks evade unreasonable regulation, work can exacerbate the lead hazard to themselves and innocents around them.

We need reasonable tolerance levels on lead clearance tests and we need reasonable regulation that is likely to have compliance. Otherwise, all the regulators are going to do is sound good and and increase the number of lead poisoned children.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New addition to the family.

Four legs and a tail.

We've been considering adding another member to the family for a few weeks now, and yesterday I saw an ad on Craigslist for a male black 8 month old kitten, that needed a new home due to one of the cat's owners being less than pleased with the kitten's tendencies to pick things up (baby pacifier, baby ring, wii remote, et c.) and hide them in the basement. He also liked to sleep on a living room table, and had no qualms about clearing whatever was in his path off of the table to accommodate his napping needs.

Troublesome and smart cat? Sounds a lot to me like a perfect cat. We came today to see if we *connected* with him, and frankly, I just fell in love with his behavior. Very affectionate (to complete strangers) and very attentive.

One problem: He had fleas. Let me say that again. He HAD fleas. Our cat at home, an indoor cat as well, does not, nor has she ever had fleas. I wanted to bring this gorgeous black kitten home, but I was not willing to bring the fleas with him.

We called our vet, Dr. Sig Sieber (513.321.PETS) in Hyde Park ( and his assistant, Tiffany told us that she had the answer for us.

Folks, this is absolutely amazing.
It's a miracle.

We went to the vet. Tiffany gave us a pill. A tiny white pill called Capstar. We gave him the pill as we left the vet at 11:45.

We were told that the fleas would start dying in 30 minutes. THIRTY MINUTES! We got home and kept the fluffy cuss in the cat carrier until we started to see results.

At 12:15, I saw nothing and started to wonder if this magnificent beast has pulled a sleight-of-tongue on my and spit the pill out when I wasn't looking.

at 12:16, four fleas fell off of him, legs kicking like a neurotoxin invasion had just been wrought upon them.

By 12:45 there were 50 fleas wriggling in death spasms on the outside table we held him on to brush the nasty critters off of him.

I hope the person who invented this little pill is rich beyond their wildest dreams. He is flea free in just under an hour. We found a couple more near him on the white duvet, but they were both DOA.

Now, we're going to add a dose of Frontline to followup, but I have to say, this is the best stuff ever. I remember the days of flea dips, wet angry cats, scratches and stinging cuts. Those days are gone forever.

For both the Frontline and the Capstar, it cost $23.

Now we need to get the new fluffy addition used to the old fluffy addition.

He will be very happy here. And very very spoiled. And loved.

Sarah, Thank you.

He's got big paws to fill. Very big ones.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Garden 2010

The garden is taking up most of my time these days. The tomatoes are already 6' tall and fruiting like mad. We didn't check the garden for a two days last week and when we found a moment to spare, discovered that we had an 18" fat zucchini that materialized seemingly overnight.

The basil is in place, but growing very slowly, and just last night we saw our first eggplant of the season.

After last years' incredible bounty, we decided to cut back on the amount of veg in the garden this year, so no tomatillos (although they reseeded all over the place and are trying to sneak back into this years' harvest.) and no yellow plum tomatoes. The picture above was taken about 3 months ago...

We've already cycled through the first crop of lettuces... (on the left of the above picture) Simpson green leaf lettuce was great, and the romaine was wonderful. All gone now, replaced with massive zucchini plants.

The fun part will be in about a week or so when we begin harvesting our 200+ GARLIC bulbs!

Same view as above... well kinda. A little harder to see the house.

The Monarda (Bee balm) went insane this year. After a rainstorm last week, about half of it cracked the stems and they flopped over. After cutting them all back, this is what is left.

At the cincinnati Flower show this year I bought passion fruit seeds. This baby took weeks to sprout, but now that the roots are dug in, it's growing about 2 feet per day. Cool flowers, too.

LOve LOOOVe Loooooove the sweet 100 cherry tomatoes.

Did I mention the hot pepper plants? We've got 10 this year.

Big *#$@!+^%$#@#$ zucchini.

Dornfelder grapes from Germany. Compliments to Monte Cassino vineyard in Covington, KY for the starters. This is the first year they're producing fruit. They've been in the ground three years now.

Lavender and Lemon Verbeena. Oh so amazing to walk by and brush up against these two together. The smells are enveloping.

Fennel seeds just before they mature taste like good n' plentys. :-)

Oregano, mint, garlic chives up front, tomatoes and sunflowers in the back. (Evening primrose [no longer blooming little yellow flowers] in the corner)

The perfect place to hang out (under the yard thong) in the shade.

Updated the curtain post

FYI: Took some pictures of the long curtain in the livingroom and showed how they hand from the inside, as well as some additional details on how I sewed the curtains together.