Sunday, December 30, 2007

The 2008 To-Do List

The purchase anniversary of Ballardia in September was a good time to revisit what we've done in the year of Ballardia living, but the advance of the New Year is a good time to figure out Where We are Going. Which to be honest, I probably wouldn't have done had I not stumbled across the 'What are your plans for 2008' discussion on while trying to live vicariously through other people's house projects.

Lest I be overwhelmed with the depth and scope of the list, I'm going to break it out by the Greek Elements:


  1. fix the broken basement window pane which we have temporarily taped over with cardboard, and by "temporary", I mean at least 4 months and counting. This totally belongs on a Wall of Shame somewhere.
  2. weatherstrip the basement windows
  3. insulate the garage


  1. Seek and Destroy the source of the basement water entry
  2. Deal with stormwater runoff from the back downspout
  3. Extreme Chaos Project: Bath Edition. Replace the Tub Faucet, Replace Ugly Yellow Plastic Tub Tile with Subway tile
  4. Stop the flow of tears every time I look at my to-do list.


  1. fill in and sod the bare patches left by the Side Sewer Adventure in our greenish, lawn-like groundcover
  2. prune raspberries, fruit trees, roses
  3. note the complete lack of "other gardening" in this category.

FIRE - or rather "flammable materials":

  1. replace rotted back steps with a Ginormous Deck and french doors with the nonexistent money spent on the side sewer instead
  2. paint kitchen, hall, bedrooms, all doors and trim ('Antique White' be gone!)
  3. nail in base shoe on main floor where trim doesn't meet hardwood floors
  4. epoxy paint cement basement floor
  5. grout kitchen tile (a stretch, I admit), as I don't know whether grout burns). Another candidate for the Wall of Shame, since it's been waiting over a YEAR now.
  6. Get rid of the Trusty Fisher Wood Stove. I know, that's practically asking for a power outage.
  7. Finish the network termination project

Happy New Year??? After looking at the list, I think I'll open the champagne early. Or maybe start with something stronger.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Gas and Math - Results are In

Way back before the furnace conversion, I did some back of the envelope (or is it 'back of the blog'?) calculations on whether the cost of converting the Vintage '63 Oil Furnace to Natural Gas would pay for itself in any forseeable time fame. I calculated back then that it would take about 7 years to recoup the cost of the upgrade in heat bill savings. I now have gas bills from Sept - Dec 20th, which is only a couple of days difference from the time we competely depleted our oil tank last year, so I can do the Actual Calculation.

Grand Total Gas Bills Sept - Dec: $333.

Compare THAT with the $828 we spent to fill the oil tank used Sept-Dec last year... it's 40% the cost, AND the house is actually warm!

But wait.....according to the Official Energy Statistics from the US Government, "The average residential heating oil price increased by 3.5 cents last week to reach 329.4 cents per gallon, an increase of 85.0 cents from this time last year. "
So realistically, I should add 85 cents/gallon to my oil cost to accurately compare, which makes that $828 to fill the tank actually $1079!!! 4 figures to fill up an oil tank! Yikes!

This means we are saving 70% on fuel bills, and at this rate, the conversion will pay for itself within 4 years.

Of course, the biggest benefit is Priceless: Cat Happiness.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

All I wanted for Christmas was a New Bathroom

I have resigned myself to the sad fact that Santa Plumber is not going to bring me my desired bathtub/shower faucet replacement for The Holidays, which I planned to be the start of my Extreme Chaos Project: Bath Edition. Maybe that's for the best, ensuring that Cleanliness will be found at our house this Holiday Season.

So.....since I can't get started on the Bathroom I Covet Right Now (because I want it Now Now Now!!),I can at least make it a little Better. I decided to Paint it. As they say on HGTV, Paint is an Improvement.

Pulling out the vanity ages ago left traces of The History of Paint in the bathroom, and I could see that prior to the current color, Antique White (and by 'Antique' I mean both the color and the date on the paint can), our Bathroom was once Mustard Yellow, and before that, Robin's Egg Blue. SW0068 from Sherman Williams is pretty close to the blueish color.

For the last few days,I've scraped scraped scraped, caulked caulked caulked, mudded mudded mudded, sanded sanded sanded, primed primed primed, painted painted painted, and suffered the Indignity caused by Face Mask Acne.

And the results are in.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

White Christmas in Ballardia

What's wrong with this picture? Oh yes, Ballardia is in Seattle. Not Toronto.
KomoTv reports that we have only had Xmas Day snow in Seattle 5 times since 1891. Sometimes you just get lucky. Or not.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Neither Rain Nor Sleet Nor Snow....

I've been waiting for Weather Conditions appropriate for scouting out the source of our incoming water, and finally a suitable little downpour has come my way. My Trusty Rain Outfit and I are heading out for a Very Soggy Inspection of our House's Exterior.

While Battling the Elements at Every Turn, I've located a suspicious looking downspout, which appears to be depositing all water from 1/4 of the roof about 6" away from the NW corner foundation.

Oh No!

Probably Not a Coincidence that the NW corner basement interior, inconviently blocked from view by a Wheelbarrow, features a small Puddle and rather moist looking walls.

Luckily, Mighty DownSpout Extender Saves the Day! And best of all, it's Discovered lurking On the Premesis! No Home Depot Trip Required! Smiles All Around!

Monday, December 10, 2007

TiVo Knows our Basement Flooded

We've all heard the story - TiVo users who recorded Will & Grace found TiVo interpreted that as Indicative of Personal Preferences, as reported in the Wall Street Journal Article "If Tivo Thinks you are Gay"

I get how Tivo starts with an alternative lifestyle comedy and arrives at "You play for the other team". Really, I do. But explain to me why it is that TiVo recorded "Ask This Old House - StormWater Drainage" a mere 6 days after our small basement disaster? We have never recorded This Old House. We didn't select this episode. TiVo Chose it for us. TiVo has not chosen to record This Old House before or since this episode. Creepy.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Things could be worse....

Lovely cold, sunny day today, just perfect for a walk over to our neighborhood sinkhole, which opened up during our Torrential Downpour on Monday. So, for all you people who don't have your own neighborhood road catastrophe, here are some pictures so you can live vicariously through ours:

Monday, December 3, 2007

State of Emergency in the Basement

We couldn't possibly have a statewide disaster without.....well, what would we guess here? If you guessed the Return of Lake Cesspool, you are correct!

Well, perhaps Lake Cesspool is a bit of an exaggeration, since there is no toilet paper in it, or in fact any telltale signs pointing to a Wetness Culprit.
After discovering our personal catastrophe on Monday morning, frantic phone calls were made to find a sump pump anywhere in the greater King County area, when one was located and placed on hold at the Mill Creek Lowes. After driving 22 miles up there, though, our held sump pump was nowhere to be found. Just as things were starting to get ugly (tears were forming), the Lowes customer service desk located a secret stash in the back. Whew.

After pumping out untold gallons of suspect water, we are still None the Wiser as to its origins. Is it coming up from the sewer? Improper Drainage? Ground water seeping up through cracks in the concrete?

At least we know we are Not Alone in this Crisis, as observed from the plethora of water damage repair vehicles in our neighborhood.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Bath Faucet Found

For some reason, I've been having loads of trouble locating an appropriate, traditional faucet for the bathroom. Most on the market are too modern, too pricey, or too ugly.

Martin and I each have our own sets of requirements, which naturally conflict with each other. As far as I can tell, his boil down to "no strange looking tub spouts" like the one featured in this otherwise appropriate Kohler model.

My requirement is avoidance of the Dreaded Tub Spout Diverter. The modern person mainly takes showers, not baths, but the diverter concept has 'tub filling bath' as its default. This is a bit of a design flub, requiring "action" for the most common activity, but defaulting to something I do twice a year (whether I need it or not, of course).

With the tub spout diverter, every time I want a shower, it's necessary to pull up the diverter while turning on the water, inevitably getting drenched with too-hot or too-cold water in the process. Doing the Diverter Dance requires coordination, which I am sadly lacking. And what do people with only one hand do??

Unable to find anything that both met our collective faucet needs and generated some enthusiasm, I ordered this adequate yet inoffensive faucet from NEED Plumbing, only to be emailed a day after my order was submitted that the faucet has been discontinued. SO WHAT'S IT STILL DOING ON THE WEB SITE????? And, I might add, even after this email was sent to me, so you'd think this stale, old item would be brought to their attention, it's STILL on their web site!!!

So the search continued. My fave was this gorgeous Porcher faucet, but its retail price of $594, it blows the budget at even the best discount faucet web sites.

But then I found it at small selection of three-handled faucets! No messy diverter, period appropriate, under $200, and we could agree on it! The American Standard model has options for either chrome or porcelain handles, while the Price Pfister model has cute little "H" and "C" labels in white on a chrome background. And while we don't really like the showerheads, that's easy to change.