Studio Rough Plumbing and Light Bulb Change

We’ve been busy decorating for the holidays so not many posts lately…and no I don’t have many decorating pictures to share tonight.  What has been going on is we made some progress on the plumbing for my studio project.  The pipes are rough plumbed now for my sink so up next I can start installing drywall and sub flooring in that area.  I just need to find the time.

One strange thing I discovered as a result of a burnt out bulb in the bathroom.  I reached into our fancy light fixtures to remove the T10 incandescent bulb and the bulb came undone.  It was just hanging there with the screw part still in the socket, but the glass didn’t break; it was kinda cool.  What wasn’t cool was the fact I didn’t know how to remove the glass shade.  Luckily I found the answer online at the Restoration Hardware website and it referenced using a tool to remove the nut way up inside the shade.  Well that explains the strange wire thing that was laying around when we moved in.  With the wire tool I easily removed the shade.  I then used pliers to remove the bulb base.  The T10 bulbs are hard to find in 60W so I’ll have to order some online.  At least I figured out how to remove the shade….and I didn’t throw out that wire thing.

here’s the instructions, highlighting the light tool.

Here’s my tool! You jam it up into my glass light fixture and turn. Then the nut comes off and voila! light shade is off and you can replace bulb.

Strange broken light hangs by a thread.

careful use of pliers make short work of removing the broken bulb.

New shut off valves installed as part of the studio project.

 

We bought a live real christmas tree. For now it’s planted in a shallow hole, we’ll bring it in ten days before Christmas.

 

Here’s the rough plumbing for my sink.

 

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Framing Walls (and Installing a Sink !!!)

I spent this weekend working on my office cabinet project.  The goal was to frame the two walls so that I could call the plumber and get the sink pipes extended.  All went well I can safely report tonight.  I even got a bonus project done with my free time on Sunday.  Before I go into the play by play, I’ll share something with you; throughout the process of building the house it seems a lot wasn’t going as well as planned.  As I work on each subsequent project, I have found that if I take my time, think things through and remain calm these projects are going easier.  And they don’t seem to take much longer (compared to just barreling through them), so there is value in taking my time.  Knock on wood of course.

The walls I’m building are add-ons so the first order of business is to get some solid nailing blocks in the existing exterior wall.  If I was smart I’d have had a “pocket” framed into the wall when we were rough framing the house, before the drywall went in, but realistically I wouldn’t have been able to devise where the pocket should be so the chances of getting it right back then are slim.  I spent some time marking out the location of my wall, taking into consideration my already made countertops, cabinets and even factoring in the existing steps in my studio.  Once I was comfortable with my marks on the wall I used my oscillating tool to remove the drywall and create two horizontal openings.  I devised my game plan on the fly and am fairly happy with it, looking back on my handy work.  The plan was to install two 2×6 blocks, anchored between two existing wall studs, to provide  a solid anchoring for my perpendicular wall.  After the drywall was off I scraped away the insulation inside.  Our insulation is made from recycled newspaper that was “damp” blown into the wall cavities.  Suffice to say I had to “scrape” some off to make room for the 2×6 blocks.  I then inserted the blocks and worked them down behind the drywall.  See the pics for my trick on getting a grip on the blocks.  I came up with that after scratching my head trying to figure out how to get the block into position.  The insulation, drywall and studs had a firm grip on my block so snaking it into place was tough, but the trick made it do able.  Once in place I mounted a 1/2″ block which I’d eventually mount the new wall stud to.  Finally I replaced the drywall pieces I’d cut out earlier.  Ha, after about two hours everything looked basically like it did when I had started.  But I knew I could now start building my walls.

I cut a couple treated 2×4’s, covered their underside with adhesive caulk, and fastened them to the studio’s cool cement floor with blue colored masonry screws that I picked up at Lowes.  I then cut all my studs, to about 98″ and mounted the first one to the exterior wall, screwing into the 1/2″ blocks and ultimately the 2×6 blocks I’d hidden behind the wall hours previously.  I used screws and a drill for the entire project.  I don’t have a nail gun and hand nailing is fairly quick but laborious.  Screws seemed to work just fine and I had a lot left over from other projects that I could use on this job.  Once that first stud was up I continued putting up the rest of the studs and finally the top plates.   The design I came up with meant that both walls would stop about a foot or two from the ceiling.  I capped the wall design off at the top of the upper cabinets.  This created that open air space above the  cabinets which will help keep the art studio feeling airy.  One bad thing with the design is that the walls are only attached to the floor and the one exterior wall so they’re prone to wiggling.  I nailed a filler board down low at the end of the one wall, where it meets the steps, and this helped stiffen and level the wall.  Putting in the new floor framing extension would stiffen the walls more.  Finally the drywall, cabinets and shelving should stiffen everything up as well.

One pesky task that I decided to tackle during this project was the “hidden air vent” buried under the office platform.  I knew it was there ’cause I had photos.  From what I remember it was there and no one ever hooked it up during construction.  They just built the platform over the top.  I’m not sure why.  I’m sure it sat there untouched, with some blue foam stuffed in it from when they poured the concrete floor (the foam kept the cement out during pouring). My concern was that the blue foam may have been pushed down into the air duct and was causing blockage, or maybe conditioned air was leaking into the cavity under my office.  Either way I wanted to fix it and possibly route the vent into the floor of my office and finish it off.  I started by prying off the drywall that capped the platform.  The platform is only about 14″ off the ground which meant that the 2×6 joists left only like 9″ of vertical space underneath the platform.  Ugh.  After finding a real flashlight (my boys seemingly steal all of the working flashlights and hoard them in somewhere secret) I peered under to find a mountain of insulation.  I guess when they blew the insulation in the wall cavities a  lot of it exited out down here until the cavities were full.  I chickened out a few times before talking myself into getting under there.  It was the right thing to do.

I crafted a cardboard insulation pusher on a stick and did just that, started pushing the insulation to the far side of the space under the platform.  Based on the pic I shared the other day I thought the vent was way in there.  I glance up at the exposed wall studs and decided to check my photo again; so I’d know how much insulation I’d have to push away. I was pleasantly surprised my sense of scale was off and it turned out the vent was about three feet in instead of eight feet in.  This was great news cause being under there was like being in a coffin.  And I was breathing heavy with the prospect of having to go way back into there.  So I brushed away the insulation and sure enough, there was my vent.

There was no way around it, I had to get in there.  My head barely fit and then my fat gut and waist did not fit.  Talk about hyperventilating…but with a twist I was in.  The wife handed me tools and the vacuum hose like a hygienist helping a dentist.  I pounded away at the cement overhanging the vent and carved away at the blue foam blocks inside.  Pulling the last one out of the metal vent shoot I reached in….and much to my dismay….I found…..all was for nothing.  They never cut the 8″ green air duct open at that vent.  They must have never planned on finishing that vent.  I could have just left it; I didn’t have to get all freaked out by the claustrophobic space, eat insulation or fish around for the vent.  Oh well, knowing that nothing was wrong from an air flow standpoint outweighed any frustration I would have felt going through all these theatrics. Back to the work at hand then.

I wrapped up the framing at this point by roughing in the “floor” extension.  I just used 2×4’s and set it up for a 1/2″ piece of OSB board to cap it off.  This area will just hold up the cabinets and should be plenty strong enough.  I’ll install the OSB and some 1/2″ flooring once the plumber is done extending the pipes.  So that’s it for that project for now.

With an hour to spare I decided to get the sink in Christine’s studio installed so the plumber could hook that up too when he comes out.  We bought a small stainless steel bar sink, that included a faucet and drain for only $109 at Lowes.  It was easy to install. See pics below for step by step.

Ok, I’m exhausted and need my beauty sleep.  Stay tuned, hopefully next weekend I’ll be doing some drywall.

 

Demo Half Wall

Real quick update, I demo’d the little half wall in the office area.  As simple as that.  Was nice that the guys used screws to assemble it so I was able to pry off the drywall and then unscrew everything will little mess.

Office Cabinet Project Part II

Well I’ve had a few weeks off…painting, lying around and whatnot….now back to work.  As you’ve seen previously I installed some cabinets in the “office” area of my studio.  One of the things we knew we were going to need in the new house was an office area.  I highly advise you do the same in your current or future home.  It’s great to organize mail, notes, calendars, files and all the day-to-day debris associated with running a home. And it doesn’t require a lot of space.

A simple pass through, the size of a sheet of plywood, could serve double duty as a usable office space. More than just a built in desk it features a lot of storage space without the need for a dedicated 8×10 or larger room.

We carved out some space in the original house plan, early on in the process, near the front door and strategically placed between both main entrances to the house (the other being my studio door).  Also its proximity inside my studio also means I can work on the website or take photographs and work on the computer files right there at the desk. Read any of Sarah Susanka’s books and you can learn more about these types of ‘Not So Big House’ design principles.  Once completed this should be an awesome little space that packs a punch in terms of usefulness in the house.  And like I said in my last post it’s worthwhile doing some of this stuff up front in the process if you can.  Right now I battle the family as the kitchen becomes the depository for life’s debris…if I could get the office area to be the dumping ground for all this nonsensical piles of papers, wires, toys, and what not I’ll be halfway there (the other half is having the boys turn eighteen and move out….just kidding).

So in August I did the desk part, and the rest of the cabinets have been sitting in the garage since then.  In lieu of just paying for them monthly and not using them, it’s about time I get cracking on getting them installed!  I’m installing a couple 18″ file cabinets and a 12″ set of drawers to create a 48″ base.  Above that will be two 12″ wall cabinets flanking an open shelf unit and a set of spice drawers.  This 48″ ensemble will provide a nice little focal spot as one walks around the front hall.  (I had a wicked cool idea for this area but with everything going on I’m not doing it….I was going to get or paint all the cabinets a slate grey and then hand paint over with some distressed typography, or a huge map of London or something, in white but there’s only so much one can do…we’ll stick with the cheapo stock cabinet look and I’m sure it’ll be fine…and we probably won’t tire of it too quickly.  I’ll show you a picture sometime if I can find it, of what inspire this idea that I’m not doing).  On the endcap I’ll install a sink base and wall cabinet for storage which will service my studio….for washing brushes and storing whatnot.

Because we knew the office wouldn’t be finished until after we moved in, this little half wall served as a railing until we were ready to finish off the office area.

Tonight I spent some time assessing the situation.  We set up the end of the office area with a temporary knee wall to pass code.  I’ll have to demolish this wall and also cut in a pocket for the new wall that will protrude into the studio and ultimately support our cabinets.  But before I got to demo, I spent some time with a pen and paper trying to figure out the exact plan, down to the half or quarter inch….factoring in such things as drywall thickness.  Also I’m careful to measure the cabinets and pre-made counter tops…these will all factor into my rough framing and finished drywall dimensions.

There are really only two issues I can see so far.  One is the wood floor stops just under the baseboard trim.  Which is fine except I want my cabinets stepped back about 3-5 inches preferably from where the wood floor ends.  I could put them in such a way that the toe kick covers up the end of the wood floor but that will make my passage way too narrow, up  and around the steps that lead into the office space.  So I may need create my own trim piece and trim out the end of the floor boards.  Another issue is the endcap where the sink is.  The base cabinet and counter is twenty-four inches wide, and I plan on trimming the sides in 3/4″ plywood.  It’s not really an issue but I want to make sure I have enough “reveal” either side of the cabinet and panels so it looks good, and I can’t squeeze my steps too much…should be rewarding once I get it all figured out and built.

This area is where the rest of our office cabinets will go.

Height-wise we’ll be going about 84.5″ off the height of the office platform…30.5″ counter height, 18″ in between counter and wall cabinets and then 36″ tall wall cabinets.  At that point I’m capping everything off.  I don’t want to go all the way to the ceiling.  I want to keep things somewhat “light” up top and be able to kinda see over the top of this outcropping.  I’ll cut a hole in the exterior wall, block it and nail my perpendicular wall securely to the wall.  I’ll also frame in an access panel just in case I ever need to get under the platform to service pipes.

Once everything is roughed in I’ll get to experiment with drywall.  Not looking forward to that but I’ll figure it out as I go.  I have several sheets left over from construction…basically cut, screw in place and then finish off the corners and joints.  Yes, even I will have to patiently sand everything down.  After that some paint and install the cabinets.

So far tonight I carefully pulled off the baseboard trim, intact so I could use it to trim out the finished new wall.  Tomorrow I’ll tear down the half wall and mark out all my walls. Stay tuned.

Here you can see the rough plumbing for the sink sticking out. I’ll create an access panel for this area in my new wall.

Steps in their current state. Those are 3/4″ trim boards…I’ll need to figure out how this will all trim out in the end.

Living There

A handful of my blog posts are “tagged” with the tag “Living There”.  Now that we’ve been here for over half a year there just isn’t much more construction or decorating going on.  I’ll share what we do, when we do it but “new stuff” posts will be fewer and further between, most likely.  But to keep things going I’ll start reflecting on the process, what worked, what didn’t work and what we’d do differently.  If you’re building your own house it pays to do your homework but ultimately there are some things you just don’t know until you live through it.

Before we get to some home building reflections and what on our to do lists, I’ll give you a a blurb or two on our weekend endeavors.  Saturday we got new cookware, (yes I know this all sounds boring, but hey I’m in relax and hibernate mode so to speak so it beats telling you about the entire box of Cheez-Its I ate).  Kohls had a sale and we had a coupon so we decided to replace our aging Calphalon non-stick cookware with some new stainless steel goodness courtesy of Cuisinart.  The 11 piece set we got was around $159 but we got it for closer to $100 after using our 30% off coupon.  Not too bad, and our old set was twelve years old and showing its age.  Plus the non-stick cookware is essentially toxic so it’s good to switch to good old stainless steel.  I’ll let you know how the cookware works out.  I didn’t do an exhaustive review search, like I usually do, but I’m sure we’ll be fine.

The weather was so nice today, we went out and worked on the garage.  The garage has just way too much stuff in it. After a long summer of working in the yard, randomly throwing shovels, the wheelbarrow, and bags of garden whatnot in there, open real estate was non-existent by November.  Trying to organize the garage though is like solving a puzzle.  Much of the junk in the way has a place but everything is all interdependent…I need to move that or do this before I can move that or do something with it.  But this weekend we had slated for cleaning out the garage.  Ultimately all worked out okay and we feel like we made some progress.  I pawned off a couple of things on Goodwill, and made a couple piles for family and friends to take “their” crap back.  The biggest challenge is the surplus building supplies that obliterate one wall of free space.  Other space hogs include the jeep hardtop and our (literal) ton of fireplace pellets.  In the end the RAV4 found a home in garage bay number two for the first time, warm and snuggle-y once and for all.

Garage is still packed but another car now fits in it.

So the garage is somewhat organized, I need to start eyeballing my next task.  That leads me to observation #1 of “living there”.  If you’re building or buying a new house, keep these in mind.

#1 Get Storage In Order – We have a ton of stuff after a dozen years of marriage and kids.  Yes it’s best to “downsize” but he haven’t gotten that far yet and we can’t bring ourselves to just toss it all out in a landfill.  Lot of this stuff will be handy in the coming years, assuming we know we have it and know where it’s at.  Storage and organization is paramount if you’re like us.  We had a lot of closets built-in the house, but you really don’t know until you live there.  Places like the garage are pretty much a big empty box which means we can store a bunch of stuff in there.  The shelving units and hooks we brought with us work perfectly fine but one thing we don’t have here is a shed  like we had at the old place. To compound the issue we have a ton of semi usable 4×8 building materials left over as well as a giant window, all of which are stored in the garage.  The aforementioned large objects: jeep top and fireplace pellets take up a lot of space too and will require special solutions to get them out-of-the-way.  I have no budget for buying fancy garage systems so we’ll make do with what we got for now.  Long term I plan on building a storage loft; taking advantage of our nearly fourteen foot tall garage ceilings. One other dose of reality is the fact that materials for other projects usually get stored in the garage too….

#2 Pick And Choose What You Finish Off First – Ok so we bought land, had some cool dude design us a kick ass house, we dug some dirt, nailed boards together, put insulation everywhere and finished it off with Italian tile bits.  Throughout the process to control costs we left a laundry list of “stuff” to finish off later.  Keeping thought #1 above in mind, you may want to reconsider what you hold off on, especially if you have a lot of worldly possessions and / or you are an anal retentive control freak such as myself.  In hindsight, and I don’t know how we would have paid for it, but I’m thinking we should have finished a couple organizational projects before we moved in.  As you’ve seen, we already started finishing off much-needed organizing projects in the office space and upstairs studio.  Next on the list is installing the remainder of the cabinets in the office area of my studio.  This will help free up space in the now occupied in the garage by the boxed cabinets, awaiting their install (see, interdependence). This winter we may jump the gun a bit and build that storage loft in the garage and possibly finish off the laundry room.  We can do both of these projects on a tight budget and the payoff will be great.  We’re just tired of tripping over stuff.  It’s bad enough the kids toys are everywhere, we don’t need to trip over laundry bottles or work around stacks of bins that could be on a shelf.

I will contend that if you can swing it, finish off as much storage, cabinets, counters or whatnot that you can before you move in or shortly thereafter.  I’m not sure where we would have cut back to put in all this other stuff right out of the gate but it would have been worth it, for us.  I’m saving some money, and learning a lot doing it myself, but it’s been a little bit of a pain.  One way or another I’m going to work on a few of these projects this winter. First up will be finishing the office space, then either the laundry room or my studio storage, then who knows….point is we’ll have a busy winter.  We’ll even check off some home decorating items like painting walls too, so the place will feel more homey.

#3 If You Are Finishing Things Off Choose Wisely –  You can either finish stuff off before you move in, or after.  Finish ANYTHING that requires walls, major plumbing or electrical before you move in….as well as anything that makes a huge mess.  All the deco and minor stuff, including putting in cabinets can wait til after you’re in or when funds are available. It’s up to you whether you pay someone or do it yourself.  I can handle painting, installing cabinets, carpentry and few other things.  Anything plumbing or electrical I contract that out.  I have no interest in electrical and I’m a horrific plumber.  Painting is a lot easier to do ahead of time but we like to live in the house before we choose paint colors.

If you’re finishing things off for later, and you’re building new, make sure you set everything up behind the walls to make your job easier.  Install wood blocks to screw cabinets to, run wires and pipes, cap them off and record where they are at.  I took a video before the drywall was installed and it’s saved my bacon a few times.  Plan for expansion by leaving slots open in your electrical panel for example.  Try to think of everything ahead of time.  You won’t catch it all but you’ll thank yourself for what you did remember to plan for.

I’m going to design and build a peachy keen storage loft above my work area in the garage.

#4 Don’t Be Affraid To Change, Wait, or Go With It. – The house looks just like the pictures when it’s done.  You move in, put all your crap away, drink wine, life is good.  Then something starts bugging you….the color of the walls, the style of screen door, the faucet in the half bath….no sweat.  First off there’s no way we could design and decorate everything when we built the house.  Secondly things don’t always work out the way we planned.  Don’t be afraid to cut and run from something you don’t like, or improve it or learn to love it. It’s your house, quirks and memories are going to be just as important as the perfect kitchen or bath.

We’ve been watching a steady diet of home improvement shows since we got cable a couple months ago.  All these perfectly designed and executed pads make it seem easy.  Building or remodeling a house is stressful.  Unless you’re a pro designer with unlimited funds and time you’re not going to get it all right the first time or right away.  Don’t even bother trying, rather pick a few rooms or things to get right that you can build off of.  Our kitchen looks just like I envisioned it and I’m already having thoughts of changing it.  All our walls are white but we’ll start painting them now that we know how the light moves through space.  Turns out the staircase screams for floor to ceiling bookcases….we’ll have to figure that one out as we didn’t plan it in the rough construction, so it’ll be a challenge.  Point is it’s okay to have the house be a work in progress.  And it depends on your situation.  I love the work in progress, but when it comes to organization and storage, those things need to be checked off ASAP.  The decor stuff can wait…frankly I don’t even know how to decorate the house on a budget.  I wish I could make it look like those magazines and tv shows….maybe someday.  I’m not worried though.  We did a pretty good job planning, and we can use our ingenuity to solve for the rest.

Okay, okay….I know it’s only a few items for the list, but it’s Sunday night.  Time for me to grab a beer or glass of wine and relax a little.  I think about some other pointers to add to the list and expound upon the ones above.  Check back.

-Chris

Aftermath

Let me preface this by saying no, no one died in our house or immediate friends or family as a result of this week’s storm – “hurricane” Sandy.  So we’re all thankful for that.  And we did not suffer any damage to the new house.  We didn’t even lose power so we are certainly blessed.

So onto what did go wrong as a result of the storm.  The house and property actually held up well.  We had non-stop rain for a week and nothing flooded.  Knock on wood the sump pump held up and the exterior grading, while poor in some spots, still managed to keep most of the water away from the house.  With all the wind we had, one could hardly tell inside the house and its ten in thick walls.  The house proved to be very solid, as one would expect.

At one point the rain barrel blew over because I had emptied it a week or two ago, so it lacked its water ballast to keep it upon its perch.  I didn’t think much of it but it turned out to cause some damage when it flew off.  Christine noticed a plant branch laying in the driveway.  Sadly it was our little Red Tip bush that we had planted outside my studio door. When we bought him he was bush sized and then he died back to a very small damaged size, losing much of his bulk in a stormy break off of his main trunk years ago.  Then he sprouted back a little bit. We brought him over from our old house because he was so anemic we figured the new owners would have just dug him up and thrown him out.  He seemed really happy this summer outside my studio door.   He even sprouted new branches and leaves when he wasn’t busy greeting visitors aside the driveway.

I think the red tip bush is in this pic somewhere, that’s a rose of sharon to the left of the arrow. Remarkable how those spread easily, but my little red tip bush struggled.

Here you can see the red tip bush thriving in his new home. You can see the proximity to the rain barrel that was ultimately its attempted executioner.

So I was sad to get the note that what was left of him was lying broken in the driveway.  All I can guess is the rain barrel fell off and landed on our beloved bush and as it rolled towards the driveway it ripped him in half.

Well, we came to the consensus that there must be a way to at least try to save or little guy.  Christine looked it up online and found an article on getting roots to develop on plant stems.  Obviously I’m not a horticulturist, and I’m too lazy on a Saturday night to look up the right terms so we’ll use layman’s terms here.  Yes, I know if this truly was a cool, hip educational blog I’d have it all outlined and you’d be posting this stuff up on you blog.  But alas after a long day of painting and doing whatnot, I’m gonna mail it in tonight, therefore you can put up with my overview of propagating plants from plants by way of the words that I can think of off the top of my head.  My spleen hurts too so there’s that.

Anyway I digress.  Back to making plants from plants.  Luckily the weather has been super cool and wet so our little bush was fine just chillin’ out in the driveway all week.  What was left of our guy was the main “trunk” about foot long, and about a dozen leafy sprouts.  Red tip bushes are really woody which I think is both good and bad.  Good cause they’re solid and woody once they get big.  Bad cause they are woody and can split in half if when they’re small and weakened, which this bush has done now a couple of times in its lifetime.  The article we found online (no I don’t have the link but Google “how to propagate Red Tip Photinia” and you’ll find it).  We picked up some powdered rooting hormone at the garden center.  The article mentions sterile potting soil, but who the hell knows what that is, as well as perlite needed to plant the shrubs in.  I just used regular seed starter potting soil.  It was an unopened bag so that’s sterile enough for me.

I got a dead bush, powdered rooting hormone, seed starter potting soil and some pots.

I filled three pots, that I scrounged up from the overstuffed garage, with the Miracle Gro seed starting mix.  It had little white styrafoam balls in it and was light and fluffy so it would be a nice comfy place for my poor plant to grow new roots….hopefully.  Now the article said sterilize the shears with 9 parts water 1 part bleach….I simply washed mine with a sponge and some dish washing liquid soap.  And no I didn’t sharpen my shears like the article said.  I’m not even sure I know how to sharpen sheers let alone have the tools to do so.

potting soil in the pots, sheers are cleaned up ready to cut stuff.

I read the article like three times and I read the instructions on the powdered rooting hormone, and honestly, I’m not sure I understood half of what they were saying.  So I winged it.  I assessed my broken little friend and determined that the little bit that was broken off from the main broken bit would suffice as one plant.  So I took my sheers and snipped the end at an angle and dipped that end in the powder.  That little bit had about a handful of  fronds so…hopefully it’ll turn into something.  Then plopped the little branch down into the soil and watered it a little bit more (I pre-moistened the soil, though it was so light and fluffy the water basically just ran through it.)

First baby branch with tip cut at an angle.

On the larger branches I notched the bark about 3/4″ up to hopefully give a spot for roots to grow from.

Here yo can see the rooting powder, put on about an inch worth and shake off the excess.

A couple of things to keep in mind, I put the rooting powder in a disposable cup so that I didn’t contaminate all the powder with my branches.  I guess the whole process is about keeping things hospital like.  I’m so so in that department so good luck little plants.

I then cut the remaining large branch into two small segments about six inches long, each with a few clusters of leaves.  These were bigger so I notched the woody stem about 3/4″ up from the angle I cut at the bottom.  I guess this might prove a spot from which roots can grow.  I then dipped them in powder, shook off the excess and dropped them into my virgin potting soil. A little more water and that was that.

fingers crossed.

I negotiated some space on the window sill in the wife’s studio for our little friends.  We’ll set them up there facing east, just above where they were firmly planted in the ground, outside, just a week ago.  We’ll tent them with some plastic wrap to create a humid little micro climate around the plants, and the wife will hopefully mist them regularly.  I don’t know how long it takes but we’ll see soon…cause if it doesn’t work we’ll know right away I’m assuming.

The saddest thing for me personally though was what I saw as I went to work Tuesday morning (the “day after” the storm).  I looked around as I walked out to my car and didn’t really notice any damage.  I don’t know what made me think of it but I ran back to the house to get something I forgot and I glanced over to the front yard.  Something was missing.  I was quick to sadly notice my favorite “dead” tree had been knocked over by the storm.  See when we first walked the land a few years ago I really thought it, and the other dead standing timber on our water-logged piece of paradise, added a really nice visual detail to the property.  We lost one big dead tree earlier this year out by the pond, but the one we lost this week was my personal favorite.  I wanted to square up my studio so that I could look out the window and see it, at one time.  It was in this tree that we saw our first red-headed woodpecker, soon after we moved into the house.  I  knew it would fall down someday but I didn’t think it would be so soon.

my favorite dead tree to the right in this picture taken during construction.

my favorite dead tree during the time when the lawn was going in. It stood proudly in the south meadow.

you can see the tree off to the right in this photo taken just two weeks ago, before the storm blew it down. It was great habitat for woodpeckers and other birds, insects and animals.

I guess I should be happy the tree didn’t fall on anyone.  And trust me if I thought it was a danger to anyone I would have dropped it myself.  In the end it lay down quite simply and softly in the meadow grass.  It didn’t even fall into the yard so there’s nothing for me to have to clean up.  It will just lay there and the earth will swallow it back up.  I have no idea what kind of tree it was, but it looks like it must have been pretty old since it’s trunk is about a foot or two wide.

To most it was just a random dead tree that should be cut down but to me it was visual texture and it added history and context to the land and ultimately the house…ultimately to our project as a whole.  It was one of the first things that made me feel at home here, something recognizable from day one…something that was here throughout the process overlooking our home.  And now it just lays there, still with us but no longer standing proud keeping a watchful eye on my boys and my escapades in the yard battling mother nature.  Our yard actually has a little kink in its perimeter just to make way for our tree friend.  This is the second big tree like this we’ve lost, so I guess it’s inevitable that they will all go someday.  Their bleached grey trunks no longer contrasting against the emerging green canopy of Spring days or illuminated by the fading orange light of Autumn sunsets.  I guess that’s one of the perks of living out here, and why the land appealed to us in a way one can’t really put into words.  To most sane people it’s just a dead tree to cut down, to me it was something else.  Well now it lay out there and I recon I can mow a little tick free path to it.  I’ll have a spot to rest on hot Summer days when I’m working in the yard.

Once a sapling, now headed back to whence it came.