Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My latest rescue

One of my hobbies is restoring antiques. Specifically, finding "junk" of historical significance on the side of the road, taking it home, giving it a little TLC and making it part of our home decor. L.A. is the perfect place for this hobby. There's just enough history here to supply plenty of poorly-cared-for furniture, which just shows up on the street on garbage-day when someone decides to buy something new. Luckily for me (and L.A.'s landfill--i.e. the ocean), I'm a sucker for free stuff. Here's an old oak desk I'm working on. From the looks of it, it's from the 1940's.
The desk was in pieces when I found it. All the wood was lightly water damaged, but nothing my vibrating palm sander couldn't fix. The original top was a fir board, with a thin layer of masonite veneered to the top. Back in the day, this was probably considered a good look, but since I'm the one who rescued it from going to the dump, I feel like I can take the liberty of retrofitting it with a solid oak top. After I'm finished gluing the oak planks, I'll use my router to curve the edges, and urethane the whole thing. More pics to come!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Baby Possum

As I was working on the leak/fungus problem yesterday, Melinda opened the door leading to our garage to find this little guy walking across the garage floor. We're guessing something happened to his mom, so we put him up for the night in our animal hotel-- complete with a heating pad, and a smorgasbord of fruit and catfood. He enjoyed them both :-) A possum expert is coming to look at him this morning, and determine if it's in his best interest for us to let him go, or give him more care at a refuge.

Any fungus experts out there?

Yesterday, Melinda called me into the den by saying, "Honey, can you come here? Something is scaring me in here." I wasn't sure what to expect, but ended up finding something not good. A bit of bright orange and yellow fungus, about the size of a silver dollar was growing at the base board. Then, sliding a piece of furniture aside revealed several larger growths in the corner. Then I noticed that several planks of the hardwood floor in that area were severely warped (and that we obviously had a leak of some sort). This portion of the house has no crawlspace beneath it. It's on a concrete slab, and is built into the side of the hill (one half of the room is essentially a basement, since it's built into the hill). Cutting away a portion of drywall exposed damp insulation, several completely rotten wall studs, some moist dirt with creepy crawlies, and a not-so-pleasant musty odor. The moisture is not coming from the top, it is definitely coming from the bottom. I'm guessing there is a crack in the concrete slab, or the concrete wall in the corner.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Away with the chain link.

Today I cut the chain link fence out of our front yard. Chain link fences remind me of a penitentiary, and we're free at last!! Here are the before/after pics!

Holding It All In

My biggest project this spring has been constructing a retaining wall in the backyard. Up until now, it's been 86 years that the lawn in this house's backyard has poured into the neighboring house's backyard. Throughout the years, occupants have done a lot, it seems, to try and retain the dirt--everything except build a retaining wall. I pulled all kinds of stuff out of the earth, including metal poles, old plywood, steel cables, pieces of corrugated metal, large sheets of asbestos, and even an old door, which still included the vintage octagonal glass knob and mortise set... score! For the wall, I chose to use the large pre-formed concrete blocks from home depot. The pink flavor. Not my favorite looking thing in the world, but a lot better then it looked before :-) All in all, the project took a month in a half, working only on my days off, and the wall consists of 240 60lb. blocks. Perhaps the most difficult part of the project was cutting through all the bamboo roots that span the hill where I wanted to build the wall. I learned a lot about the bamboo plant in the process. Mainly that the whole bamboo forest is one big plant, with the same root system. Luckily, cutting the root system does not harm the plant, and it will continue to grow as many different plants when cut into sections.. Also, during spring, when new shoots emerge, they can grow in excess of 20 inches in a day. Not kidding! The wall is now complete, and we're beginning to plot the layout of our zen cactus garden. Here's the wall from above, and from below: