April Fool’s Day Snowfall

Maine has the most unusual snow that I have ever seen. Under normal conditions the snow is so light and fluffy that you can easily shovel a load of snow without much effort. This year, however, the snow on several occasions has been much thicker and wetter. This makes the shoveling pretty difficult without the right equipment. Heavy!

Today, April 1, 2011, we are still in the midst of quite a storm. The snow has been falling all morning and we are sitting with about ten inches so far and it may snow ’til after midnight. Some Spring!

At this point, we have lost one tree, with one bending over to the ground.

Broken Apple Tree

This poor apple tree. It is so old. Must have been here for well over 80 years. The contractors who built this house just didn’t have the heart to cut down this poor thing. Contorted from the many years of lost major limbs, it is a sight to behold.

Two years ago, this same tree was hit by another catastrophe. A brief rain and wind storm came out of nowhere and tore off the front side (closest to the house). We had to spend about three hours cutting this major branch away and, since this happened in late August, the ground was covered with apples. The deer found them within a week and gobbled most of them up.

Now, this. The back side (farthest from the house) has split away and will have to be dealt with after the snows stop.

I have noticed that Winter here is not kind to the trees. Most of the trees up here seem somehow very brittle. Poor, rocky soil, perhaps. We see lots of downed trees every year.

By the garage, there is another downed tree. This one, however, is just bending and not breaking (yet). We’ll see, when the snow leave the limbs whether it will every be able to stand up straight again. (As an update, the white birch by the garage stood up straight until the leaves matured. Even the weight of the several thousand leaves has brought the tree down nearly to half mast. She will have to be cut down :>( )

Downed Tree

That’s it. By the way, Molly is doing fine.

Molly in the Snow


Interior Painting: The Walls Are Painted Last

I have been painting my bedroom on and off for the last year. Why should such a job take this long? Two reasons: (1) I am very busy and must devote most of my waking hours to business, and (2) I am lazy when it comes to the work that needs to be done around the house.

To stress the point of number two above, we have been here for over four years now–a house that was room-to-room beige and in dire need of paint–and we have only completed a few painting tasks–one upstairs room (office, which is what we use it for, or the third bedroom), the main floor office, and the formal dining room. That is it. The two bedrooms upstairs, one of which is a master bedroom suite, which I occupy, are partially done. The master bedroom suite is only waiting for completion of the walk-in closet–the bathroom and bedroom are completed.

This is really a post on how to paint when you are too lazy to empty a room, and how to get professional results when doing such a project.

When painting a room, or an area, such as the one I will be discussing here, the master bedroom, I almost always choose three colors (usually all on the same color card). For the master bedroom, I chose a muted blue color scheme. The trim is done with a light blue (Under the Big Top), the walls a medium blue/gray (Colonial Blue), and the ceiling dark blue/gray (Hudson Bay). All of the paint purchased was from Benjamin Moore and all are semi gloss. I like the glossy look of semi gloss and gloss paint, though it does require the painter to take special care in order to get a good look.

This suite is in a lovely Cape Cod, with the slant ceiling in the bedroom that follows the contour of the roof. The dark blue/gray color was used on the actual ceiling and the angled ceiling.

The first task in any interior paint job is to patch any problems in the wall surface. In this case, since I had planned on taking my time on this project, the ceiling–since it was first on my list of painting tasks–was all I had to worry over.

Taping light fixtures should be done only on fixtures that cannot be taken down easily. In the case of this room, I had to do the ceilings in the bedroom, the walk-in closet, and the bathroom. The bathroom has a fan/vent that was easy enough to dangle down so I could paint the ceiling including the area under the fan. The walk-in closet, has a ceiling light fixture that was easy to dangle as well. The bedroom has a smoke detector, that was easy to remove temporarily, but the ceiling fan was not, so I taped it.

Now that the room is prepared for painting, I laid out a huge canvas tarp so as not to drip paint on any of my furnishings.

I started first by painting the areas of the ceiling where the ceiling meets the walls. You should not be particularly concerned about carefully cutting in the line between the ceiling and walls, however. Since, you will be painting the walls last, you can cut in that line when you do the walls. Do, however, make sure that you paint the ceiling with some overlap onto the walls.

Also paint a goodly area around the ceiling fan, the bathroom fan, the walk-in closet light fixture, and the smoke detector. This was all done with a 2-inch high-quality paint brush. When I finished doing this trimming of the ceilings, the paint was dry enough for me to start at the beginning and get a second coat on the trim. Sometimes, two coats is enough. In this case, it was.

Upon completion of the ceiling area with the dark paint, the paint brush I used was folded carefully into plastic kitchen wrap so as to be fairly air tight and then put into the freezer. This will keep the paint from drying for an extended period of time–but not forever.

The next process that is needed to be done is the rolling of the paint on the ceiling.

Now that the trim is done, and dry, it is time to paint the entire ceiling with a paint roller. Everyone should know what equipment is needed for this, so I will not add comment about this here. There are plenty of articles discussing this kind of stuff.

What I would like to stress is that, when working with gloss or semi-gloss paint, do not go back over areas where you might have missed a spot (called holidays). Leave it alone as it will be dealt with on the second coat. Try to avoid holidays by being generous with the paint refilling the roller often. Inspect your work as you go and follow a pattern that gets you finished as quickly as possible. The reason I mention leaving holidays for subsequent coats of paint is that glossy paint will leave “textured” areas when you roll over areas that have had a few minutes to set up. This does not look good when the rest of the room is nice and glossy, and that one area, where you overrolled before it had dried, has a inconsistent texture to it that is nearly impossible to make right.

Once you have the ceilings done to your liking, you are ready to do a wall. Why just ‘a’ wall? Several reasons.

  • We are painting this room without the removal of furniture and we will need to jockey the furniture away from the wall we will be painting, and
  • If we short ourselves on the wall paint and need to buy more, if you are cutting in one wall at a time, slight differences in paint color will not be noticeably different.

You will need to clear furniture, wall hangings, and electrical face plates from the wall you will be working on. You should also fill any holes in the wall, blemishes, etc., so that the wall comes out looking nice.

Before you start painting the wall, however, you should paint the trim. This would be baseboards, windowsills, door frames, etc. You needn’t worry about slopping paint onto the walls when doing the trim. Since the walls are painted last, you will be painting over any trim paint that gets onto the walls. In fact, you should make sure that you do overlap onto the walls a bit so that the old color is not left behind when the job is done.

Once you have the trim painted to your liking, it is time to trim up the walls. Now, this is the time to carefully outline the wall color so as to make a nice steady line against the ceiling and the trim. So you trim and roll just as outlined in this post.

Pretty simple. You have the ceiling done, one wall with baseboards and trim done for that one wall. Now, if you have time, you can do another wall. If not, you can put it off until another day. Just remember, your brushes and rollers will not remain moist in the freezer for too long, so you might want to finish your painting tasks and get your brushes cleaned as soon as you can. Six months in the freezer is too long–your paint will have partially dried and will require combing of the brush to remove the paint chunks.

Hope this helps those who paint.


New Computer Work Chair

I’ve had this same crappy chair for 12 years and I am finally going to get something better.

At this point in this chair’s life, it is getting pretty beat up. There is a big tear in the seat cushion, one of the adjustable arms, which are plastic-encased foam rubber, was so tore up that I took it off a year ago. The metal under the foam rubber was exposed and I was afraid that it would scratch up my bass guitar. So off she went!

But, the really big problem, the reason I can’t stand this chair, and I would never buy another one like it is the single-post support for the back. Over time, these single-post supports begin to wobble and start to loosen so that when you try to lean back in the chair to relax, you end up leaning back so far that the chair threatens to keel over.

One last point, this was not a cheap chair.

The chair I am replacing this one with is a Sealy Posturepedic Geneva black leather executive’s chair. Tried out a number of under $400 chairs and this one was the best in my view. Whether it will hold up, who knows. But, at least, it does not have a single-post back support. The arms of the chair are attached to the back so it will be less likely to wobble.

Tomorrow, delivery!


Wow! My First Post, and I Have Only Been At This For Four Hours

Slight exaggeration, but I feel like I have been at this for a while. I will get better at this shortly.


Molly the Cat

Molly the CatWe met Molly when we first moved into our new house. She always met me at the mailbox and came over to sit around with us when we did yard work. Neighbors in the area would often use our cul-du-sac as a turning around point for their walks, and Molly was always there to “make friends” with everyone.

We just thought she was the cul-du-sac cat and didn’t have a home*. We watched her from the summer of 2006, through the winter of 2006-2007, through the Spring and back into the following year before we realized that she was getting awfully skinny.

Since moving from Arizona neither of us wanted another mouth to feed around the house, but we also couldn’t allow that homely cat who had been lobbying pretty hard for us to be especially nice to her, to starve to death.

That afternoon, we made a trip to the grocery store. While there, I picked up a few cans of cat food. My intention was to put a can of cat food out near the front of the garage to hopefully give her something to eat. Man, she was skinny.

After doing this for several days, I was outside doing some carpentry when Molly happened into the garage and strolled right into the house. It was like she owned the place.

After doing a few carpentry-type things, I went into the house and, when Molly saw me, she panicked a bit. I think she knew that she had not gotten permission to enter the human’s house. I calmed her down by petting her a bit, and then she made herself at home.

So the story goes, and it is three years later, and Molly is still here. By the way, she is very clever. She does not lobby walkers anymore. I have caught her several times laying in the front yard watching walkers go by. Once, I even saw her walk away from someone who had bent over to pet her. Clever girl!

I have had cats before, but Molly is a peculiar animal. She has had somewhat of a difficult past. She does not require much attention and does have a very independent streak, and she is territorial beyond what I would consider healthy. I saw her get pretty bloodied up taking on another cat who had the temerity to stray into her turf.

Most of the year she spends out of doors. Comes in for the occasional feeding, maybe some petting and very rarely a nap on the office couch. Other than these very brief visits, she is off and running. Except during the winters.

As you may be aware, winters in Maine can be uncommonly brutal. She is mostly stuck indoors during these long months, and she is less than happy about it too.

During the summer months, she does leave us mementos now and then. No, she is well potty trained (we have a litter box, but she almost never uses it). What I am talking about is the small animal parts on the front and rear porches. Now, this is gross. I have never owned a cat who did this kind of stuff.

I have heard some cat owners say that their cats leave presents for the food, petting and shelter providers who live in the house with the front and rear porch, but I think it has more to do with her not wanting other predatory animals in the neighborhood to run off with her prey. She figures that by putting the prey close to the door, none of the real wild animals would venture this close to the door to steal the carcass–wild animals usually take great care to avoid the human animals!

So, I get to put on the thick rubber gloves to remove the remains from in front of the door. I would have thought that after having her dinner disappear from in front of the door would have forced her to find a new place to put her victims. But, alas, no. She still does it.

We use to have squirrels around the house, and we had a chipmunk living in a hole in our backyard for several years. Now, they have all moved their residences to safer habitats (didn’t think anyone would want me to give the gory details, so let’s just leave it at that).

* After the second year, we did find out that she owned the neighbors across the street. I talked to these neighbors on the telephone about Molly and they were grateful that Molly was okay, and that she had a new home. Huh! Apparently, they got a new cat several years prior and these two cats had become sworn enemies. They didn’t want her back.