Hillbilly Potting and Cabinets

Sorry my computer’s been in the shop so to speak.  Problem didn’t get solved but at least I got it back.  Apparently you shouldn’t click on pop ads that you stumble upon when “researching” things on the internet.

That last few days have fairly full of chores.  It’s been hot and dry so we’re watering as best we can.  We cleaned out all the flower pots in the yard so they don’t smell like old people or dead mice anymore.  I picked up some peppers and tomato plants at the store and planted those.  We put them on the porch so the boys could water them, watch them grow and gain some appreciation for living things.

The best part of living in the sticks is you don’t have neighbors on top of you minding your business.  I actually don’t have to clean up after myself in the yard if I don’t want to.  I was wishing I had a shed or green house in which to work on potting my plants.  Then I realized my dirt floor of a yard was one giant open potting shed.  So I organized all the pots in one area.  Off to the side is my broken lawn mower.  A small wheeled seat acts as my potting bench.  When cleaning out old pots filled with soil and dead plants, I just chuck the debris on the ground.  The spent soil has got to be good for the yard, since the yard is just clay based dirt at this point.  This is awesome, I invented the outdoor potting shed, best part it is free.  I could never do this at the old place.  Too many neighbors with too much time on their hands working on their perfect lawns and cleaning out their already clean garages.  The horror I’d instill in them if they saw me just chucking potting soil all over the ground.

This week all our Shenandoah cabinets were delivered.  I’m starting to put them up in my office first.  Tonight I laid everything out.  The base cabinets are 28.5″ tall which will give us a 30″ height to the desk surface (two 3/4″ partical board layers with laminate finish).  Between the desk and the wall cabinets will be 18″ of space.  Enough to house a smaller iMac or Sony all in one computer.  Above that we’ll have 6″ worth of “mail slot” cabinets and a 36″ doored wall cabinet to top the whole thing off.

Other than that the primary focus is on prepping for art shows and working on art.  Each day is exhausting for me as I try my best to get a couple hours of work in each night either painting or doing house chores.  Like Warren Zevon said, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Here’s tonight’s gallery, enjoy.



Rain Barrel And Other Assorted Nonsense

It’s Sunday night and I’m finally able to relax for an hour or two.  Between “work” work and the work I have to do around the house I’m not one to have much free time. This weekend’s focus was on organizing the garage.  We seasoned that endeavor with a few other tid bits, all in the name of progress on the home front.

Friday we traveled out to IKEA in Pittsburg to pick up some of their low-cost home furnishings.  What we got was mostly for Christine’s studio, including stools and a table for the boys to do their crafts on.  I got a nifty stool for my studio as well.  It’s adjustable for height, and generally lower than the seating I currently had in my studio.  I spent this morning assembling all our goodies.  As most people know, IKEA furniture is all knocked down (KD) so assembly is required.  I think its design simplicity, environmental awareness, and low-cost far outweigh the less than high-end finish and robustness.  Would I furnish my whole house with it, probably not but we do have quite a few pieces and we are throughly happy.  That’s all that matters.

I’ve hung most of the art and pictures that we had, throughout the house.  Latest great shout out is for Chuck Wimmer, we have several of his prints; his illustrations are humorous and as well crafted as you’ll ever find. Is good to get his art and many of the other wall decorations up. No household tasks are completely done but many are far enough along that they don’t stress me out as much.

Chuck Wimmer prints are now framed and hung in the kids bedrooms.

Organizing the garage took all day Saturday and we still didn’t get it done.  We have two major problems in the garage. One is we have a ton of windows which tack up usable wall space for storing things.  Secondly we have one entire wall consumed by left over construction materials, including a giant window that we couldn’t use in the house but had bought anyway.  I need to check around and see where I can unload all these building material left overs.  I hate to just throw them out.  I believe Habitat for Humanity might take some of them for free.  The window we’ll just have to live with until we build a freestanding single car garage or who knows what.  If you need a big energy-efficient south-facing window (non-operating) let me know.  If you can haul it I can be persuaded to make you a sweetheart deal.

The garage is far enough  along though that I can find tools and have some breathing room in there which is nice.  We also was all the flower pots in the yard, exercising them of their mouse turds and rif raf.  Today I planted three plants that we moved from our old house.  One is a no name plant that almost died at the old place then miraculously recovered.  Another is an azalea that has always been sickly, even when it was originally planted twelve years ago shortly after our wedding.  Finally are some peonies that came from Christine’s grandma before she passed away.  None of these are in the landscape master plan but I found a spot for them in our future planting beds.  They will look just fine and it will be nice to have old friends around.

Today I set up our rain barrel finally.  We have one random gutter that was draining to the ground so I decided to place our rain barrel underneath it.  I placed the barrel on two sets of cinder blocks to get the barrel 16″ off the ground.  This will allow us to get a watering can under the spigot or hose of the barrel.  For stability I placed two salvaged pieces of granite under the cinder blocks.  By the way I oriented the cinder blocks so we could plant some flowers in their cavities and the lower level could even act as a toad house if the toads are so inclined.

With all the pots I figured I could pick up some potting soil when I got the cinder blocks.  I also got two tomato plants and two pepper plants too.  We won’t have a ton of fruits and veggies from our garden this year but we’ll at least have some.  By the way we stopped at the farmers market on Wednesday and picked up some bread and veggies.  I cut up the veggies and sautéed them in a pan with garlic and olive oil.  I then mixed in some penne pasta and mozzarella cheese.  Was a nice, local, healthy dinner at very little cost.

Now the time has come to get back to working on art.  We have two busy weekends coming up and a lot of art to wrap up for them.

salvaged granite base for our rain barrel. I measured our watering can and figured 16″ height clearance was plenty. I cut back the existing downspout with a hacksaw and tin snips

I used long nose vice grips to crimp the corners of the downspout so I could slip the bottom elbow of downspout over the main part.

sheet metal screws get the downspout whipped back into shape and all assembled.

rain barrel on cinder block stand. We can plant flowers in cinder blocks and lower set can make for a great toad house. To the right is an actual toad house made from a cracked flower pot. To the left is the no name plant from our old house.

veggie pasta

first raspberry of the year from our new plants.

















































This is what happens when finish carpenters use screws that are too long near pocket doors. Now I have to add “get door fixed” to my to do list. As if I have all the time and money in the world to deal with this.

Bother Me Tomorrow, Today, I’ll Buy No Sorrow

Well it’s been a while since I wrote but a lots been going on.  I have some pics tonight to show all the cool things that have been going on.

In no particular order let me start with some wood shelves I plan on building in the basement.  To replicate these shelves, all you’ll need are:

  • 8′ 2×4’s
  • 4’x8′ sheets of 1/2″ OSB (oriented strand board – plywood)
  • Wood screws, two sizes 1″ for OSB, 2-1/2″ for 2×4’s
  • some scrap 1×2’s to attach to basement wall
  • some masonry screws to attach 1×2’s to cement block wall

Start by laying out your design.  My shelves were all 3′ wide, 2′ deep and 2′ vertical spacing.  This was great for placing two Rubbermaid bins on each shelf.  Also provided waste free yield on most of the lumber I was using.  Every 3′ I have a set of 72″ tall 2×4 uprights, between the uprights are the shelves.  Cut all your uprights to 6 feet long (72 inches).  Your remainder pieces will be about 2 feet long, perfect for use in your shelf frames.  Use two 2 footers per shelf.  Then cut two 3′ 2×4’s per shelf.  Finally cut 2’x3′ rectangles out of your OSB for the shelf tops. You can use the scrap OSB elsewhere in the house.

Once everything is cut, screw together your 2′ and 3′ 2×4’s to create a rectangular shelf frame using the 2-1/2″ screws.  I like to then attach just the shelf frames to my uprights, as opposed to putting the plywood shelf tops on. Makes for lighter weight working conditions and easier adjustment / squaring things up. I did the job solo with the help of some claps but if you’ve got a helper go for it.  Once your skeleton of uprights and shelves are all done, fasten them to the wall using 1×2 cut offs and masonry screws if you’re going into block walls.  Butt a cut off against the wall and your back upright and fasten everything together.  Check for level if need be.

Finally fasten the OSB shelf tops using 1″ wood screws.  Voila!  Cheap sturdy wood shelves in your basement.

I have been busy accomplishing some things in the house such as hanging pictures and shelves.  A neat product I’m using is E-Z Ancor drywall anchors from Lowes. I’ve used them in the past and love them.  Simply mark your location and use a drill to drive the anchor into your drywall.  Then follow up by mounting whatever you want mounted using the included screw.  I did run into a strange problem where I was shredding them but figured out my cordless drill’s shaft is off center so the anchors wouldn’t go in and were breaking.

The other day the wife discovered an ant mining insulation, I have some repair pics to share below.  Not surprisingly my ironing board install went astray when I discovered the electricians disregarded my request and ran a bunch of wires and an electrical box for the microwave in the bay I needed for the built in ironing board.  Now I have to pay another electrician to come out and correct the problem.

Father’s Day I was treated to a new grill and I assembled our porch furniture.  It was awesome to finally sit on the porch with a cold Bud Light Lime in my hand and just enjoy looking out on the yard.  Steaks on the grill, boys playing….it was awesome.  It was the first time I was able to relax since we started building the house.  We’ve turned a corner and while there’s a lot left to do I can now start concentrating on living and enjoying life and the house.  We’re so fortunate to have this great piece of property, and I’m fortunate to finally be finding the time to enjoy it. We also have gotten two days of some much needed rain.

Thank goodness for that.

To Do List

Alright, now that moving is off my “to do” list I can now focus on the rest of the list.  Yes, I will bore you with the list tonight.  Here we go in no particular order:

Get money / spend money – there is a laundry list of items that never got done.  All the trades cashed their checks and left us high and dry to figure out what in the hell to do next with their unfinished tasks.  Only a marshmallow like me rolls over and lets this happen.  I can’t imagine anyone else who pays this much for a house spends the first few months spackling cracks to keep ants out. These are things I will just pay someone to do or finish up paying these people so they don’t sue me.

  • painting guy, he’s done now I gotta pay him – I’ll dig out the pea gravel near my studio and paint the ends of the trim boards in case they didn’t do that.  Doing so keep water from migrating up the board via capillary action and ruining the life of the paint job.
  • I’m going to hire someone to come out and help me finish the exterior columns and screen porch and steps.  My family ditched me on this one. Our $2,000 pile of lumber has been weathering in the back yard for going on six weeks now.  Time to get it wrapped up.
  • Ditto paying someone to finish the upstairs hall doors.  We’re giving up on the hidden hinges and push button operation.  Better to go with more reliable mechanics while sacrificing some aesthetic appeal.
  • pay off the landscaping.  The yard was a disaster.  But maybe it’ll pick up again in the fall.  The field stone walk is divine as are the planting beds. New plants will wait til fall to be bought and planted at this point as we suffer through a drought.
  • get money by selling old house, selling art, selling bodily parts and fluids. 

Crap I have to do myself.  All these things take priority over playing with my kids, working on my art business, keeping my sanity, and being nice to my family, friends and co-workers.  Resentment is a bitter drink and I’ve got one of those 64 oz. convenient store cups full of it.

  • move boxes into basement.  We have so much crap it will almost cover 1,000 square feet of basement.  I need to get my studio cleared out so I can paint again.
  • figuring out how to keep ants from nesting in my house.  Today we discovered one ant going to town in the upstairs closet.  Seems there are huge gaps above each of the previously mentioned hall door openings.  The drywallers, trim carpenters and everyone else just left them there.  One little ant was pulling insulation out of the openings like there was no tomorrow.  Caulk was impossible to get in the openings so I started dumping gobs of spackle in there.  “Whatcha doin dad?”  “Son, daddy’s in the midst of a fit of rage.  Please stay in the Family room until daddy either calms down or drops dead.”  Sealing these up should help our air leakage significantly as well.
  • kitchen cabinet doors.  I need to order these and I’ve got one of them hole saw looking bits that I can drill the hinge mounting holes in the cabinets.  At some point you just have to “little red hen” it.  Nows the time.

Fun stuff that we need to do. All things on my to do list that will get done at somepoint….right? 

  • organize garage.  It’s a two and a half bay garage and it is literally filled from wall to wall with my crap.  I need to organize it so I can figure out where my tools are. 
  • hang pictures and a mirror.  We found a mirror for the half bath at Target so that needs to go up.  I also want to start hanging art to make the joint feel more like home.  Other things like hutch tethers, coat racks and what not need to go in as well.
  • install cabinets.  Our Lowes cabinets will show up soon.  Christine and I will try our hand at installing those ourselves.  Wish us luck.  Then we’ll be able to organize the art studios and office space.
  • organize closet.  Self explanatory.  I’ve been wearing the same five casual / dress shirts to work for six weeks now.
  • clean garden pots and implements.  Everything smells like old dead people and / or our potting shed at the old house.  Everything is covered in mouse poop.  It’s all sitting in my yard waiting for me to clean.

Alright my “to do” list tires me just writing about it….I’ll share more as things get added or come off.




As I sit in this chair in our family room and I sip my cold beer, I can say for certain that we are done moving.  We signed the papers today closing the sale and gathered the last remnants of our nine-year presence at the old house.

Most reasonable people I know would barely register this as much of an event, save for the fact that we no longer have two mortgages (monetarily focused is the realm a vast majority of our world operates, in my opinion).  Even I was taken aback by the amount of sadness and fits of melancholy today’s events imposed upon me.  As I stood in our mud room the cause and effect struck me square in the face.  I’m fairly good at compartmentalizing.  That goes for work, plans, dreams, joy, pain and emotions….basically whatever I encounter in my limited trek in this mortal world.  Over the last year, frankly the last nine years, I’ve been able to rationalize and compartmentalize my emotions surrounding our home, (among other things).  My impression is most other people probably don’t even think about their home in any terms beyond this so I didn’t really either.  But deep down inside, i had a sneaky feeling of what was really transpiring.  So over the last few days, as rooms emptied and boxes were stacked, even my resistance to reality began to fade. 

I suspect it a low-grade version of what people with terminal illnesses go through.  As I approached the end of our stay in our home I became acutely aware of the actions that were the “last time I ever do this” variety.  Yesterday I was taking down a wall mounted television in the wife’s old studio bedroom.  It was a million degrees in there and the weight of the TV was making it difficult to remove the mounting lag bolts.  At the end of my rope I dragged myself to the top of the stairs and weakly yelled out “Christine, I need your help.”  With no response I repeated my plea, a little louder.  Eventually she came to my assistance and we got the mount removed.  Before she came upstairs though it struck me.  That was the last time I’d utter those words in that home.  On the verge of a tear I reflected back on all the times I’ve pleaded for help in that home of ours.  From the first time, as fairly younger people, when were moving in and needed help arranging the furniture.  Then the time, when I was building the basement storage shelves and  I ran a drill into my thumb requiring her to play nurse and patch me up.  Or all the other times that I know are out there even if my scattered brain can recall at this moment.

We did a once over today just to make sure we got everything….found a toy car under the range….some baby bottles in a cupboard.  I couldn’t bring myself to go room to room remembering.  Too painful, even for a monster like me.  A couple quick photographs, going through some papers to leave behind, that was about it.  I quietly swept out the garage.  A few brief minutes of solitude between me and another place that was a friend of mine.  Sweeping the very floor where my friends and I put the lift on my Jeep.  Cleaning the corners where my tools were stored, or shovels awaited snow days.  The world passing by just an eighty feet away at the end of the drive, but for seven minutes it was all so inconsequential.  I’m not sure what Christine was doing inside the house but I suspect going through her own personal goodbyes as she readied the fridge for its new owners’ sustenance.

So I know why our old home is more than “it’s just a house” to me, to us.  Here’s the deal: it felt so much like home until the very end.  If I’m lucky I’m only halfway through my tour of duty in this world.  And in the last nine years we turned a bunch of wood, cement and glass into a home.  That “house” was there when we brought our two little guys home from the hospital.  It was there every time I stayed out too late with my friends.  It was there on misty Sunday mornings as I loaded my clubs into the Rabbit for a round with my dad.  When it seemed the entire world was against me, against us and we couldn’t buy a break we could handle it because we were home.  I used to thing you got used to your stuff so it was good when you moved; all the stuff comes with you.  I stood there as a thirty-eight year old man, who could put up with some seriously messed up pain and other people’s bullshit, and mentally waxed poetically to myself about the wire shelves in my pantry.

I think a lot of this is related to the fact that we can’t avoid taking much of our existence for granted.  In away the whole point of a house is to be in the background most of the time.  You take it for granted.  You take a picture and most of it is house bits.  You turn a key at midnight to come in from the cold; there the door’s shut and you’re off to your warm bed. You curse the lord cause you have a long list of house chores that you have to do, but after nine years that tree you planted is three times your height and your three-year old kid is running in circles around it. The reality is that house is a home over time and it’s never in the background, we only think it is. It burns a little when life reminds us of this truth (or at least it burns to me cause I lie awake thinking about this stuff).  Staying in that house forever wouldn’t have solved anything.  No matter what we did, time and our innate sense of place are just too good at it was gonna hurt at some point.

That house was our safe haven, from which anything was possible.  Now we’re in an unfamiliar place and it has been a long time since I’ve felt this vulnerable.  I suppose there are better people than myself who move all the time and would use my emotion as comical fodder, and they are welcome to their opinion.  I can only worry about how I feel and how it affects me. For me it is scary in a way.  Starting from scratch gets more and more difficult as time passes and the ultimate train stop approaches.

It will be years before our new place even starts to get to that level of attachment.  We could leave in six months and I doubt there’d be too much separation pain.  Who knows.  But today was sad and there’s nothing I can do about it.  It was just so unbelievably canny how it still felt like home.  It’s literally like someone forbids us from going home.  Think about that.  You’re at work, or school or vacation.  Someone comes up to you and says you can never go back home ever again.  It really sucks, or at least I think that sucks.

We’ll be in this limbo in-between state for quite a while in the new house.  We are a family without a home. I miss having a home.

Framing Art Lession And Other Assorted Non-sense

First off, a link to an article on CNN here.  Please stop having kids, burning fossil fuels and converting our biosphere into one big city / farm.  Ironically that’s what I kinda did with our six acres as I stripped it of plant matter and I’ve been planting berry bushes….In my defense though the house uses less energy than one half its size.  We’ve had a hot dry spring in northesat Ohio.  And by the looks of what the scientists say this will be the new normal.  Our house repels the heat extremely well.  Our furnace is set to kick on only if the house gets above 72 or below 65.  It hasn’t gone on in over a week, either way and we’ve had some pretty big temperature swings.   We also technically had it off for about 4 days with the windows open.  We have yet to set up and employ a window opening strategy but none the less all is working well, even with our willy nilly approach to temperature comfort.

The lack of rain continues to be our biggest concern.  Long term we’ll be screwed if annual rain totals start to diminish.  We’re actually doing a decent job of conserving water without even trying. Our low flow toilets help and in general we don’t seem to use a lot of water per se.  I’ve cut off doing any add’l watering of the yard.  We’ll have to wait til Fall to get grass back growing.  We’ll leave it in Mother Nature’s hands for the summer. I will continue to water the berry bushes and kiwi’s.  The female kiwi is not looking happy.  I’ll keep an eye on her for the next few days.

I’ve got an art show this weekend so I’ve been busy wrapping up my paintings and framing them and taking pictures.  I’ll share an impromptu framing lesson on the off-chance you want to take up art and whore your wares.  My paintings are abstract acrylics, done typically on stretched cavas.  I prefer using “floating” frames which impart a contemporary simple feel to the art.  I get frames and the hardware from PictureFrames.com


Still Moving

3,000 square feet upstairs, another 1,000 downstairs and it’s all covered in crap and boxes. There’s no chance that we’re settled any time before 2016 or 2017. Don’t expect an invite for dinner anytime soon.

We’re down to a handful of days to empty the old house.  And we’re working on upcoming art shows including one this weekend.  The new house is a train wreck of boxes; something like a scene out of one of those hoarding tv shows.    I can only pray our kids don’t grow up to be like us, and hopefully they have sense enough to throw it all in a dumpster when we are dead and gone.  We’ve been moving stuff for several weeks now and it will come down to the wire to see if we finish on time.  In addition to the constant chest pains, back pains, and leg pain, I’ve (seemingly) broken a finger and a toe moving.  What a wreck.

Outside the blueberries are ripening and the kiwi trees are finally planted.  Deer eat kiwi trees by the way so I had to fashion bird netting arrangements to protect them.

blueberries are bluing.

male kiwi (or female) hanging out under protection from deer.




Tonight I did clean off part of the kitchen.  For my sanity I wanted a clean counter to make dinner on, devoid of clutter.  That and some wine went a long way in short order. 

clean counters, even if for one night.








The screen porch furniture showed up the other day so I’ll be putting that together soon.  I’ll share that info with you.  I’m contemplating starting the construction of the screen porch by myself soon too.  Not sure how to do it but I’ll figure something out. 

sad mom hugs old dining room argyle wall

laundry room in old house, we’ll replicate this in the new house.

Family room where I spent two weeks holding our oldest son in my arms for four hour shifts when he came home from the hospital as a new baby. Also where he swung his first bat and golf club. Site of a lot of crawling, playing, laughing and crying too. I designed fireplace and entertainment center. Now somebody gets to come in and change it all up and render everything just a memory.

painting I did in old nursery. Soon to be overpainted by new owners i suspect, thus closing that chapter forever.

Sunny Memories

Happiness we finally got some good rain today.  Pretty much rained all day which is good.

Today all I did house wise was hang a painting.  “Sunny Memories” by Jurate Philips (2011) now hangs proudly in our entry hallway.  Previously this was above our fireplace in the old house. Check out her work sometime, great stuff. 

I worked in my studio tonight, getting ready for my art show next week.  Ugh so much to do before then.  Sigh.  Okay, that’s it for today.  Bye!


“Sunny Memories” by Jurate Philips (2011)