Studio Shelf Day 4….or is it 5?…

….oh hell, I don’t know what day we’re on in the studio. All I know is were making progress.  Okay I don’t know where we left off….Oh by the way I’m working on yet another blog (this time it’s for work so no swear words). As such I’m going to shoot to write for both blogs on Tuesday’s and Thursdays. If something cool happens, it’ll have to wait although I reserve the right to post up here, more than just Tuesday and Thursday, if the mood strikes or the bees do something cool. My hope is that this consolidates my writing time, makes things more consistent and better quality, blah, blah, blah….

Alright back to the studio. Well when we left off I was going to pay the painter guy to paint the shelves and studio walls. Well turns out we’re broke, at least for the next few weeks, and with Christmas approaching, I needed to take matters into my own hands. I cancelled the painter and went out to Sherwin Williams and bought about $180 worth of supplies to paint my studio. I chose Whole Wheat SW6121 from our Global Spice color palate, for the walls. The shelves will be painted Carboard SW6124 giving us the “tone on tone” look we adore so much. In fact both colors are off the same color card, three spaces apart. A happy coincidence since I was picking from the Global Spice chart which doesn’t indicate which colors are actually tones of each other. By the way, picking colors from the same card is awesome, especially in rooms that get some day light. During the day everything will look the same color from certain angles. Then at night the room takes on a ton of dimension with darker and lighter tones visually playing with each other. We did this trick in our old house with four!!! colors from one card in the kitchen, dinette, family room and fireplace. It was subtle but I found it delightful every time I laid on the couch with a beer and watched Cops.

Note, all the paint I’m using is Sherwin Williams’ top of the line Emerald paint, which up until a minute ago I thought was low or zero VOC paint…I’m not convinced it is. Oh well, we’ll survive.  SW does have Harmony zero VOC paint. Who knows what in the hell I am doing over here. Maybe I’ll go cut some more trees down and step on baby squirrels…

Well since I’m doing the studio myself, I started out caulking most of the joints on all the cabinets. I used a simple white paintable DAP Alex brand painter’s caulk from Lowes.

I hate caulking.

Plus I totally suck at it.

It requires patience and I have zero patience. I’m pretty much a ‘cut to the chase‘ kind of guy. Caulking is anything but ‘cut to the chase’. With caulk there is no chase. Just more joints to be caulked. Caulking makes cutting blue foam seem romantic and adventurous.

So of course I plastered caulk all over the place and gummed up my hands and ruined a bunch of rags. I guess you’re supposed to wet your fingers before you squish the caulk into the corners, and you should use a wet rag to clean up the excess.  Ugh, I would rather crawl under my deck, or listen to Taylor Swift go through her “pro vs. con” list of ex-boyfriends than clean up my caulk mess with a wet rag. They need to make sand able caulk for guys like me.

A day after the caulk was dry I primed all the cabinets with a zero-VOC primer from Sherwin Williams. I used exactly one gallon. It took me about a day. I used a brush and a roller. Now everything looks white.

I was humming along and now suddenly I got two new projects that are both due in 2 days (my life) so now I put the brakes on finishing the studio. Probably won’t get back to it until next week at the earliest. I think the gods are messing with me, exchanging one form of satisfaction for another. Oh well, doing the studio myself save me a grand and there’s no guarantee I’d have steady work this week or next. It will get done soon enough.  Here are tonight’s pics.  Check out Christine’s awesome Jeep cake she made for our guy’s birthday.

Studio Shelf Day #3

Today was a planned day off of work so we could get the last bookcase installed in my studio and install the finish trim. It took us about four and a half hours to get everything done today. I have some trim left to do in my office space but otherwise we are ready for painting.

Because everything is going to be painted we were able to use a lot of scrap trim to finish up the job; holes and edges can be sanded, caulked and painted and look just fine.

I really like the new angled bookcase we installed. It’s in my top five favorite things I’ve designed in my lifetime. It’s going to look great when it’s painted. The middle shelves are angled to get more storage capacity for larger books on the left side. At the right side it’s all the same depth so it doesn’t protrude into the floor space below.  There is still room in my studio nook now to put a chair and ottoman for reading or relaxing (sleeping).

We also trimmed out the tall bookcases with a wrap of 1×3’s at the ceiling and a band about 90″ up.  This lower band is right at the height necessary for a library ladder, should we ever choose to install one down the road.  Note to separate the wall color between his and her studio (above) we nailed up a small block of trim next to the window at the top of the tall bookcases (see photo).

I’m not sure what colors I’ll select for my studio, other than I think the bookcases will be “cardboard” in color, with the wall likely being a tone lighter than that. The painter recommended oil paint for the bookshelves for durability but we don’t think we want to deal with the smell and the long term chance that the paint might yellow.  Instead we’ll tell him to paint the shelves in latex (which isn’t as durable and never really “dries”) and then I’ll hit the horizontal surfaces with a water based clear coat to make them more durable, almost like plastic.

Take a look at the photos and let me know what you think.

 

Chris

Below the new bookcase is an access panel for the water shut off

Below the new bookcase is an access panel for the water shut off

The tall bookcases are all trimmed out and ready for painting.

The tall bookcases are all trimmed out and ready for painting.

The angled design of the bookcase allows larger items to be stored to the left, smaller items to the right, while preserving usable floor space.

The angled design of the bookcase allows larger items to be stored to the left, smaller items to the right, while preserving usable floor space.

The angled bookcase installed and ready for painting.

The angled bookcase installed and ready for painting.

The three peanuts we grew this year.

The three peanuts we grew this year.

Studio Shelf Update

All is quiet on the home front. We pushed back the final day of studio shelf installation to next Monday but I did get a photo of the last studio shelf and it looks great.

The last studio shelf.

The last studio shelf.

Studio bookshelf design.

Studio bookshelf design.

I can’t wait to get the studio done and move back in.  In other news I finally bit the bullet and turned on the furnace. As I sit at my desk freezing to death I felt it was time. The thermostat said the house was at ~67-68 degrees but all I know is I’m freezing in my office so on goes the furnace set at a balmy 70 degrees.  I can hear the fireplace going in the family room, set to an even warmer 73 degrees (which it does accomplish in that space.

I know I have to install some sealing bits on the Thermatru exterior doors, but alas I forget where I put the padded envelop I got from Thermatru in my haste to clean out my studio.  I know you can see daylight at the bottom of a couple of the doors. Hopefully I can fix that.  Well back to work. I just wanted to show off the newest bookcase waiting to be installed.

-Chris

Studio Shelves Day 2

Yesterday my brother and I spent another day installing the studio shelves.  We got the bookcases installed on either side of the north studio window.  I’m ecstatic to have so much storage now in the studio. I can’t wait to get them trimmed out and painted and start using them; unpacking boxes of junk that have been sitting in our basements for years upon years.

It was nice to spend two days working alongside my brother too; a rare treat, even though I don’t do much except hold up walls with my shoulder and talk the whole time. Still I think two sets of hands are better than one, and we weren’t in any hurry.

Sunday we spent a little time showing the house off to some special guests, interested in learning more about the design and sustainable features of the house.  It’s always enjoyable to tour the house and share what works and what we would do differently. Nature provided us with a beautiful, sunny day to show off how the sun bathes the front room with light.  The kids were even able to go out and play in the yard on a nice fall day.

For whatever reason two days of working on shelves has worn me out completely (and I didn’t even do anything). Or maybe it’s just a long week, month or year(s) catching up to me. We took the afternoon off to see a movie and grab a bite to eat.  I love going to the movies. I suspect probably because of the escapism. The more complicated and stressful my life becomes the more I enjoy getting away from it all every now and then.  Installing the shelves was a similar like diversion. A way station away from walking on the edge of a razor.

Here (below) are the pics from yesterday’s shelf install. Also today I started making the sunflower seeds from that sunflower head I picked.  The seeds are soaking overnight in saltwater, then tomorrow I’ll roast them for ~40 mins in a 300 degree oven, with some oil and salt. Friday we will install the last studio shelving unit and trim it all out. Also note my brother installed the laundry room shelves in between our store-bought cabinets.

Studio Shelf Day 1

What a great day. We started the shelves in my art studio, which in turn starts the ball rolling to finishing off my studio and finally “moving in” to it.

Let me say that I did finish my big project so that is good to have that off my plate, and I have a seemingly happy client so win-win. With that done, I set aside today and tomorrow to work on the studio with my brother.

First things first though, the plumber showed up at 8am to replace the master bath drains. I won’t go into the details again but suffice to say that fiasco is finally resolved, albeit at the cost of another $170 in parts in labor (plus $80 for the new drains). I forgot to take a picture; I try to get one for you tomorrow.

By 9am my brother showed up with a truck full of wood parts; everything that would become my studio shelves, save for one unit that he’ll bring out tomorrow.  I don’t know if you remember but here is the design I created:

My studio shelves design

My studio shelves design

Today we made the large set of ~35″ deep shelves on the big interior wall, the set facing you in the rendering above.  We built the right side on the ground then stood it up. We finished the left side by installing the shelves and 1/4″ plywood on the back while the unit was standing. We then slid it straight back into place and secured it to the wall studs with cabinet screws.  Tomorrow we’ll do the two units to either side of the window, and install the angled set of shelves in the studio alcove.  Here are some photos from today:

As I sit and write I can smell the fresh wood just around the corner. It smells good. With all the complexities of life, it’s nice to have something so simple help keep the world at bay. Tomorrow will be awesome, getting all the other shelves in.  I’m actually going to get an estimate for having our painter paint the studio and shelves. They’ll do a much better job than me and probably in half the time. I already have two gallons of the cardboard colored paint for the walls (they will need more if we do all the walls that color). I just need to decide what color the shelves should be. We’re thinking a complimentary tan / brown tone.  Not sure though.

After the paint dries I’ll be able to start unpacking once and for all (If I ever move again I won’t need any of my stuff wherever I’m going). I’m even going to put up my deer head and plastic fish…not sure where yet.

The wife had some great ideas for making the space hospitable for hosting clients as well. (Though I guarantee the deer head was not in her plans.) I’m going to figure out something table-wise so I can have a conference table with chairs around the table. The room already has an outdoor access door so clients can come right in that way. I don’t have a great need but occasionally (like this Tuesday) I do have clients that will come out to the estate. I’d like to have a space where we can meet uninterrupted, without tripping over toys or my wife’s grocery list. Maybe the table will have a flippable top so I can paint on one side and have a smooth surface on the other for meeting.

Heck, I’d like to be able to serve dinner in there if we ever got the notion. I think it’d be cool to have a “studio” dinner where we can sit with guests in the studio…eating and drinking. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m the only one who would think that is cool.

Well regardless it’s going to be an awesome space once it’s done. I can’t wait.

-Chris

Saturday Ramblings

A busy Saturday, but we’ve gotten somethings off the list. First off the gallery wall is completely painted with two coats of our Sable color paint. Check that off the list.

The gallery wall is painted. Another project complete.

The gallery wall is painted. Another project complete.

Also first thing this morning I went around and installed all the window cranks once and for all. We were missing a few and the set screws were never set. I went around and tightened the set screw and installed the missing cranks; I had to buy three extra sets at $30 a pop.

Tightening the window cranks, finally after 18 months.

Tightening the window cranks, finally after 18 months.

All the window cranks are installed, at long last.

All the window cranks are installed, at long last.

The window crank in the upper studio...well it's not going to get tightened since I can't physically reach it.

The window crank in the upper studio…well it’s not going to get tightened since I can’t physically reach it.

Wouldn’t you know it, I got to the last two windows and I was still missing two cranks. I actually had two in hand, but they were the wrong ones. Not sure why there are “left” and “right” cranks, but never the less I had two of the wrong ones.  I knew I had double and triple counted before I ordered the replacements. So I did the only thing I could do. I put a bounty out for two lefthand window cranks, promising $30 a piece for their discovery and safe delivery to me. Within an hour and a half the wife “discovered” where someone had inexplicably hidden said cranks; one in a junk drawer and one on a shelf somewhere. Having avoided ordering new cranks I installed the found ones, and forked over $60 in cash to the wife.

I am certain my family hides things now on purpose, because they know I will put out a bounty and I always pay in cash. Hey, if it means stuff is found and I don’t have to look for it, so be it. Our track record in the new house for finding bountied items is 100%.

The other day the wife and kids picked up an apple corer during a field trip to a local orchard. It’s pretty neat and makes apples fun to eat at lunch time. Also, not sure if you saw, but the front bed is now covered in fabric and mulch. Check that off the list.

The wife got an apple corer. It's a pretty neat little toy.

The wife got an apple corer. It’s a pretty neat little toy.

The giant front bed is now covered completely with fabric an mulch. Check that off our list.

The giant front bed is now covered completely with fabric an mulch. Check that off our list.

We checked on the bees this week too and they look great as always. The top mid-sized super has been prepared by the bees and is ready for honeycomb, then honey. We have a ton of late Summer flowers in the yard, and the warm days mean the bees are working hard. During inspection some honey dripped out of the comb and I snuck my first taste of our honey. It was magically sweet. I can’t wait to sneak a few small frames worth in October.

A tall frame capped with honey. You can see two colors of honey, light and dark, presumably from two different times of the year.

A tall frame capped with honey. You can see two colors of honey, light and dark, presumably from two different times of the year.

A frame from the center of the hive, covered with capped brood.

A frame from the center of the hive, covered with capped brood.

Bees enjoying a little sun, waiting for the hive to be reassembled.

Bees enjoying a little sun, waiting for the hive to be reassembled.

Bees congregating on an already inspected super.

Bees congregating on an already inspected super.

Inspecting a frame.

Inspecting a frame.

Our girls coming back home, and leaving the hive.

Our girls coming back home, and leaving the hive.

Our list goes on and on but it is very manageable. With every project complete the house feels more like home. Getting some art and photos up on the walls will help tremendously, and that is on the list. Another thing on the list is clearing out the brush around the gum trees. Which I need a working trimmer with a brush clearing attachment to do that job. Of course I wasted half of Friday trying to fix our TroyBilt trimmer…I replaced the spark plug, new gas, new oil, cleaned the air filter…in the end I couldn’t get it to start. I took it to a repair shop and the guy basically said he could clean the carburetor for $75 but why not just buy a new one with a warranty for $99 at Lowes. Basically ours was designed to be a throw away trimmer; a poster child for a throw away society.  Hmmm….what to do. I could fix it myself but that’d take hours of research and effort. I could go buy a new $99 one…after all ours is 10 years old and I could then use all the attachments with the new one (trimmer, brush cutter, blower). Or all we really need is a gas brush cutter, since we got a new electric GreenWorks string trimmer to handle grass duty. Getting a stand alone brush cutter would mean it was higher quality and not a throw away product. That would support a company making quality products that you want to service vs. a company making garbage products (I’m not a TroyBilt fan per se). In the end I’m going to go out and get a brush cutter, and probably drop $300 in the process. And yes it will be gas-powered, as I don’t know of any electric ones out there. I’ll try to sell off the old trimmer (along with my old gas mower) to some soul who is more mechanically inclined and adventurous than I am.

Okay, back to work for me.  Happy weekend peeps.

Gallery Wall Is Painted And The Master Sinks Hate Me.

Well with my birthday over, and my offroading trip finished too, we’ve started this week by settling back into the groove. And as such I have set aside the time to write and let you know what we’ve been up to.  Absolutely nothing productive is happening outside. I just don’t look out the windows at the plant bed that still needs fabric and mulch. Nor do I look at the gum trees that need freedom from the encroaching meadow around them.  And don’t even get me started on the back yard and garden.

Inside though we’re taking baby steps. We pretty much are done painting the upstairs hall “gallery” wall. Here’s what it looked like before, painted Canvas Tan (SW7531):

The hall gallery wall before in tan.

The hall gallery wall before in tan.

We left the rest of hall that color, but for the gallery wall which runs a long way from studio to bedrooms, we wanted something darker to camouflage the closet door cut lines, hinges and door knobs. Also the dark color would make artwork “pop” when hung on that wall. Looking at our Global Spice palette of colors we selected Sherwin Williams GS18 Sable SW6083 which is a dark brown color that goes perfectly with the sage carpet and the aforementioned Canvas Tan.

I thought we’d only need a gallon to cover the 7′ tall wall that runs around…I don’t know….twenty feet long?  And surprise, surprise I was right. Because the walls were already tan we didn’t need to prime them, and two coats of brown did the job. We just have to hit the door edges and closet edges with one more coat and the job will be done. Eventually we’ll replace all the outlets on the wall with brown ones to hide those too.

The gallery wall being painted Sherwin Williams GS18 Sable SW6083.

The gallery wall being painted Sherwin Williams GS18 Sable SW6083.

Do we like it? You’re darn right we like it, a lot.  It provides visual complexity to the space and helps close in the hallway a little, making it more “homey”. And no it’s not too dark at all. Despite not having any windows in the hallway, the space gets enough daylight leaking in from all the adjacent rooms that natural light is not a problem during the day. At night it’s a more engaging space, with a new level of complexity that makes it more interesting. I liken it to a theater set, in that there is a lot more going on visually; an eclectic mix that suits our aesthetic preferences.  This is the second time we’ve painted interior walls in dark brown and we loved it each time. In our old house the entry AND back hall were a nearly black brown and it was fantastic.

Okay, so we banged out that painting project (good ’cause the paint was sitting for like 2 months since we bought it).  Check! No more “paint the hall” monkey on my back. One minor monkey project is the window cranks. The overpriced, but necessary, cranks ($30 a pop!) showed up this week. That means I just need to go around to each window, install cranks where they are missing, and tighten the set screws on ALL the cranks. Then…voila! No more hand crank monkey on my back either.  Only took me 18 months.  Not bad considering my track record for accomplishing things.

While I was emboldened to get things off my list I called up the plumber to check on the Master Bed sinks. As you may or may not know, the little rods you pull to close the drain broke off our overpriced Kohler faucets the first time we used them.  It’s a horrifically (sp?) bad design. I plan on writing Kohler a strongly worded letter asking why they design such garbage and then charge people upwards of $800-$1,000 retail per faucet. The plumber and the sink supplier both tried to get Kohler to provide a fix but the company couldn’t; basically they said “tough shit, there’s nothing wrong with our product” and left us hanging. Well I discovered we had a slick push button drain stop in our half bath sink.  Only took me 18 months to figure that out too. It looks like this:

This is a Kohler push button drain, but apparently it's only available with the nickel faucet in our half bath, not as a stand alone part in chrome.

This is a Kohler push button drain in our half bath.  Yeah, that’ll work.

Well I asked the plumber / plumbing supplier if we could just put these cook push button stops in our Master sinks. Problem solved: push button stops and we’d just glue the old drain stops in place so they looked good but didn’t function. Take that Kohler.  Without looking at anything the plumber and supplier decided I could get two push button stops, and the plumber would split the cost with me; they were $40 a pop. I said “that’s fine” ’cause I just wanted the sink drain monkey off my back. I’ll save my fight with Kohler for another day.

So the plumber came out and changed the drains. I didn’t see them because we had to run the boys to school. When I got back I didn’t think to look at them since I was super busy with work I had to get to. I paid the plumber as he explained something about needing a washer to connect a pipe or something to the new drains….okay, whatever I’m sure it’s fine…I don’t have time to learn all the nuances of being a plumber. It’s tough enough being a neurotic, self-absorbed, design prick…let alone a plumber too. Off the plumber went.

Well nature called so I decided to go check out the drains, expecting to see what you see in the above photo, just chrome.  This is what I saw:

This is ridiculous. Going from bad to worse with our Master Bathroom.

This is ridiculous. Going from bad to worse with our Master Bathroom.

Our new giant push button drains look stupid.

Our new giant push button drains look stupid.

I didn’t even know where to begin. All I could see was this giant chrome thing, about the size of a hubcap on a ’53 Mercury in the middle of our sinks, sticking up like a toadstool that small fairies would hide under during fairy hunting season.

“Wow” I thought.

“Those look big, even for a trashy LA mansion, let alone our humble bathroom. Who thought that was a good idea?” I said to my indifferent brown hand towel who witnessed the entire transformation with nary a word.

Ugh, I don’t have time for this.

For shits and giggles I looked underneath the sink to see what was up down there. I chuckled a little bit. On one sink a nut is holding up the drain pipe. On the other it’s a cutoff of copper tube holding that one up. Apparently the plumber couldn’t readily make the connection between drain and pipe so they’re just sort of squished together, propped up by the random bits.

I don't even know why I bother anymore. Here you can see a nut permanently holding up the drain pipe under the sink because something or anther doesn't bond together properly.

I don’t even know why I bother anymore. Here you can see a nut permanently holding up the drain pipe under the sink because something or anther doesn’t bond together properly.

Ugh, I don’t have time for this.

I called up the plumbing supplier and asked him if Kohler made any push button drains like the one in the half bath. They don’t. They sell that one ONLY with that faucet.  Lovely. Of course that is how they do it. A product someone wants, so don’t offer it. Marketing genius. He did inform me that Moen sells something that will work. I did not ask why didn’t we use that part to begin with. No sense asking the universe unanswerable questions. And no, no returns on the drains that were just installed. So after another $80 out of my pocket, I have two of these ordered:

Moen push button drain. We have two on order for $40 apiece.

Moen push button drain. We have two on order for $40 apiece.

I’ve called my other plumber and he said he’d install them once I get them. I told him, even if we have to take everything back to the wall, I want the pipes done properly. No matter the cost.  I think I’ve done more remodelling projects in our new home than I ever did in our last house that we lived in for a decade. I don’t even argue anymore, I just go with the flow.  Get it?  I “go with the flow“. Plumbing humor.

Going back to the upstairs hall, now that it’s painted I started dreaming about the lighting in there. For now it’s just boring ceiling lights. But the staircase is screaming for a nifty chandelier to add an eclectic charge to our theater like brown and tan hallway.  It looks boring now:

Staircase...bookshelves on the left (back) wall and chandelier from ceiling...someday.

Staircase…bookshelves on the left (back) wall and chandelier from ceiling…someday.

Eventually we want to cover the back wall in a shallow bookcase. And cascading down in front of that bookcase, above the landing, sprouting form the current light location, I’m thinking a really cool glass ball or industrial light fixture.  This is the sort of thing I have in mind:

Stainless ball chandelier.

Stainless ball chandelier.

Awesome pipe fitting chandelier from Restoration Hardware.

Awesome pipe fitting chandelier from Restoration Hardware.

Elegant glass ball pendant chandelier.

Elegant glass ball pendant chandelier.

Barn Light Electric offers this simple multi bulb chandelier.

Barn Light Electric offers this simple multi bulb chandelier.

Meteor shower glass ball chandelier.

Meteor shower glass ball chandelier.

Cool rustic ball chandelier.

Cool rustic ball chandelier.

Very cool pipe fitting lighting.

Very cool pipe fitting lighting.

Something like the ‘meteor shower’ or stainless ball chandelier would look perfect there. The space is so vertical, a light fixture that takes advantage of the space will do wonders for the stairwell and hallway. It’s such an asymmetrical space, that the fixture needs to be asymmetrical as well. In my mind the space can become one of the most dynamic spaces in the house. And rightfully so since it’s the main traffic corridor. It’ll be some time before we redo the lighting up there, including adding track lighting for the gallery wall, but it’s never to early to plan and dream. I’m even knocking around the idea of a spiral staircase to the loft, but the will be way down the road.

Alright, I think that brings us up to speed. Hopefully my studio shelves will be done soon so we can start installing them. Which in turn will help us get organized both in the studio and in the basement, which currently houses all of my art business junk.

We’ve kicked out a few monkeys.  This is good.

Studio Bookcase Design And Death.

Well after a day of designing stuff for other people with mixed results I decided to design something for myself this evening.  Here is the plan for the bookcase, which will be located around the corner in the alcove of my studio:

Studio bookshelf design.

Studio bookshelf design.

The lower section is flared forward to allow me to store books and magazines on the left and paint jars on the right. Midway up is a little 4″ shelf for life’s miscellaneous debris. Everyone should have a shelf for debris. Right now it’s all accumulated on a window sill in the studio.  Up top are little 6″ shelves for paint bottles.  The big opening at the bottom is an access panel for a water line shut off valve.  This book-case will be painted tone on tone like the other shelves and walls in the studio.

I enjoy designing things for myself because of the creative freedom it affords me. Unfortunately the pay is horrific.

On a sad note, today the only polar bear at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo died. He or she was the subject for several of Christine’s works of art. In loving memory, here’s a hand cut paper piece of artwork depicting the (now dead) polar bear (when he / she was alive).  Sad.  We’ll miss you furry guy (or gal).  Happy seal hunting in the sky to you.

RIP Cleveland Metroparks Polar Bear.

RIP Cleveland Metroparks Polar Bear.

Burn Out

The number one rule of being a writer, or even an average blog writer, is writing creatively as often as possible. Well I’m sucking at being a writer because I haven’t written here in over ten days. In my defense we took a well needed vacation and I’ve been busy walking the tight rope between getting things done and going crazy with all the monkeys on my back.  Now all of a sudden Summer has flown by and I don’t know where all the time has gone.

I have been spending a lot of time getting some projects underway or at least planned out. I’ve had several tradesmen out to look at various projects including a small electrical punch list (adding outlets to the porch and finally hooking up the outlet in my studio), a gentleman came out to quote sealing my studio cement floor before we put in the new storage shelves, and I got an estimate on pressure washing the decks in preparation for staining them.  The pressure wash guy looked at washing the grey streaks off our gutters too but we ultimately decided to leave them because they’d just come back most likely. They only bother me and no one else cares so we won’t worry about it now.

For the studio floor there are several options. The company we’re going with uses H&C products, which I think is a division of Sherwin Williams. The finish that looks the best is an “infusion reactive acid” stain, which provides a mottled look. But the process sounded to hazardous for our comfort in our home – 4 day process, have to mask doorway to the rest of the house, and there are carcinogenic materials in the finished product. Instead I decided upon a water based semi-transparent decorative stain that is zero-VOC. We selected “espresso” which will hopefully match the tile found elsewhere in the house.  I just have to clear out everything from the studio so they can come in and prep, stain and seal the floor.  Once sealed I should be able to spill paint on it and have it be easier to clean up with soap and water.

Once the studio floor is done, we’ll start installing the new shelves and finally I’ll be organized in my studio, before I go insane.  Thank you god.

Speaking of organization, we got the laundry room cabinets installed and we love them. They make the room look more finished and now we have a ton of space to organize all of the laundry room essentials. I know all this costs money, and I know we should pitch 90% of what is in our home, but in the meantime it’s nice to have a place for everything. The cabinets should help with resale value as well, if and when the time comes for that. With the cabinets in, we’re waiting on laminate and then the countertop. We also need to select a sink for the laundry room and get that ordered….. So much to do not nearly enough hours in the day. If I win the lottery, the first thing I’m doing is hiring a personal assistant or two.

One other monkey I’m getting off my back is the window crank monkey. When they built the house three cranks went missing so I finally ordered new ones. Can you believe it, the bill is $96 for three sets of window cranks….eeek.  But at least that will be off my bucket list. Serious windows got bought out / went out of business so they’re under the Alpen name now. Regardless my old rep is the same. Something of interest: I had to describe which window cranks I needed to order them. Someone smart realized that they should color code the cranks so you can describe if you need a “right” or a “left”. Take a look at the photos and you’ll see that the “left” ones are silver and the “right” ones are gold.  Good idea.

Outside we’re slowly getting the fabric down in the front bed…still! We did plant the new, real, oak leaf hydrangea and transplanted the impostor ones.  I really like the texture of these new hydrangea; they look great outside the dining room windows. Elsewhere I put together the mail order bat house and mounted it to a 16′ 4×4 post. I just have to mount the other bat house to the other side and then go erect the post with houses attached out in the yard.

We’ve been harvesting a bunch of veggies, and wild blackberries in the yard and garden. And many of the wild flowers are still blooming. Everything looks beautiful. I find great pleasure in looking out my studio window as I work at the drafting board. Such a happy and pleasant view.

Sorry I haven’t been writing much lately. Not sure it will be any different in the coming days. But there is a lot going on project wise, life wise and work wise. I’m wearing many hats…which is how I like it I guess. I even have an art commission and I’m working on some things writing wise beyond this blog. So it’s all good. I’m too neurotic to make any of my endeavor amount to anything but that doesn’t stop me. It’s better to burn out than it is to rust right?

-Chris

A silver left crank on our Serious brand window.

A silver left crank on our Serious brand window.

A "gold" right crank on our Serious brand window.

A “gold” right crank on our Serious brand window.

Assembling one of the bat houses.

Assembling one of the bat houses.

Laundry room cabinets are installed.

Laundry room cabinets are installed.

I mounted the bat houses to a 4x4 post, slipping a 3/4" strip of cedar to mount the bottom of the house to the post even with the top of the house.

I mounted the bat houses to a 4×4 post, slipping a 3/4″ strip of cedar to mount the bottom of the house to the post even with the top of the house.

Oak leaf hydrangeas planted in front bed.

Oak leaf hydrangeas planted in front bed.

Wild flower annuals I planted from seed this year.

Wild flower annuals I planted from seed this year.

Honey Bee Queen 2.0

“How are your bees?” is the most popular question we get from people (i.e. family) who read the blog.

Well today we checked them again. And…..

…..wait for it….

…..wait…..

WE HAVE A NEW QUEEN!!!

Last week when we checked we had a lot of hatched queen cells but no queen. This week, in the upper box about the 5th frame I spotted our new queen.  The wife was franticly searching but I calmly pointed her out as soon as I saw her large body with tiny wings.  I’m kind of proud that on at least two occasions now I’ve spotted the queen, which is as close as you get to competitive bee keeping sports.  With out further ado, my I be the first to introduce you to our new queen:

Our new queen!

Our new queen!

If we didn’t find a new queen today we would have had to buy one. But for now we don’t have to. The next step is to see if she’s laying eggs. We think we saw one frame of eggs but we’re not sure. We’ll have to wait and see. We did notice that there was more activity in the third box up top so maybe they are preparing that for honey or egg laying. It was amazing to think that our little hive knows what to do and replaced our previous queen all on their own. Let’s just hope she does her job. Regardless, re-queening sets us back a few weeks but it’ll be fine all in all.

The hive looks really healthy and active in my un-knowledgeable  opinion. The bees were really buzzing when while we were inspecting the hive this afternoon.  One other note, the heat wave finally broke and storms just passed through so the hive was extra full today.  I did see one bee fully laden with pollen though so that was a good sign.

Our queen during her coronation.  We didn't see many eggs so we think she just got started. Fingers crossed she does a good job and they keep her.

Our queen during her coronation. We didn’t see many eggs so we think she just got started. Fingers crossed she does a good job and they keep her.

Two bees "talking" to each other. Look at how perfect the honeycomb is.  Not made by man made machine rather the ingenuity and perfection of bees.

Two bees “talking” to each other. Look at how perfect the honeycomb is. Not made by man-made machine rather the ingenuity and perfection of bees.

Bees on top of the frames.

Bees on top of the frames.

A frame full of capped honey.

A frame full of capped honey.

It's amazing just to look at the frames. If you never have, do yourself a favor, find a bee keeper and ask to help out next time they check their hive.

It’s amazing just to look at the frames. If you never have, do yourself a favor, find a bee keeper and ask to help out next time they check their hive.

Also today we celebrated Python Day in town. There’s an old legend that a large snake roamed the area so townsfolk have used it as an excuse to have a fun low-key festival day. There were a lot of activities for the boys including making various crafty snakes. For lunch we had ‘python dogs’ which are really just foot long hot dogs. I even took a stab at learning how to juggle. I wasn’t too bad actually.  After lunch the police shut down the main road and we witnessed the world’s smallest annual parade…or at least I’d bet it’s the smallest. Finally we got to pet live pythons at the old high school.  One neat thing about the school is you can see how worn the stairs are from a century of teachers and students walking up and down them. Was really neat. I love old buildings. It was a great way to spend the day, and get away from work.

The back of the Python Day parade.

The back of the Python Day parade.

The front of the Python Day parade

The front of the Python Day parade

Worn stairs at the old school.

Worn stairs at the old school.

Back at home, we checked the bees like I said. Afterwards I took a quick jaunt around our land. The wild black berry bushes are going like crazy this year. I noticed a lot of the berries on the neighbors’ driveway bushes were starting to ripen so I went back and checked ours.  I discovered a whole new little grove of bushes, but nothing is really blackening up yet….I picked one berry. But soon we’ll be up to our eyeballs in blackberries. Even my bushes are showing some berries and recovering from the deer eating the plants.

House-wise my brother-in-law installed a ceiling fan on the screen porch and moved an outlet so now Christine has a place to plug in her fridge in her studio. I also met with my carpenter to make plans for the studio storage units.  So a lot of good things going on around the house.

Well we’re really happy about our bees and everything is looking good. Now some time to relax and have a beer.

Cheers!

Long live the queen!