Tag Archives: Projects

Things that go bump in the night

There is something wrong with this picture. It’s the first day of summer, I’ve got the woodstove going, am wearing an undershirt, a t-shirt and a cardigan and am sitting on the couch knitting socks. We’ve had a lousy, wet spring and with the exception of a single day here or there, no such thing as summer.

When I got up yesterday morning and came downstairs, I was surprised to notice my 12-string guitar lying face down next to the aquarium. When I picked it up to stand it back up I noticed this:


I’ve had that guitar for about 15 years. And no, the strings weren’t too tight, they were just right, and have been on there for a few years, actually.

I find it amazing though, that the force of the neck breaking and the tension release on the strings catapulted it to the floor.

I’ll attempt a repair job with some quality wood glue. If necessary,  perhaps two screws with nuts for reinforcement. It won’t be beautiful but it might work.

Ants (lasius brunneus) Really Were Eating My Bathroom

I posted in 2005 (original post here) that I suspected that ants were eating my bathroom. They were shoveling dirt-like powder out of the cracks in the wall and not responding to ant poison.

As we have no termites in Germany, I wasn’t that worried about it. I figured the ants couldn’t damage anything too badly.

Boy, was I wrong.

In 2011, we decided to replace the tiles in the bathroom, as some of them had cracked a bit, partially due to the wood settling slightly after the house was built. Despite the fact that we had installed water-proof drywall behind the tiles, you could see from the outside that water was seeping into the concrete foundation and basement wall underneath the bathroom.

These are the pictures (you may click for larger to truly enjoy the horror) of what we saw when we had the tiles removed and the drywall off:

damage lasius brunneus
This is a closeup of the wood that remained.


damage from lasius brunneus
From the beam at the top of the picture, you can see what the wood should look like.


damage from lasius brunneus
We had no choice but to reinforce the wall with various bits of lumber. There was even a spot that had been eaten so badly that you could look through to the outside.
damage from lasius brunneus
Before we could start the repairs, we had to remove all of the remaining bits of wood that were rotten.

I called in an exterminator. When he came in the house and caught his first glimpse of the bathroom, he said “lasius brunneus”. That’s the name of the ant. He said it was the worst infestation he had ever seen. He then proceeded to drill holes in the walls and inject the wood with a high-pressure gadget filled with (I think it was) boric acid.

Apparently, these ants don’t eat the wood as such, but use moist wood to cultivate certain fungi which they live off of.

It took us four weeks to get the bathroom renovated.


Tired Bones

It probably would not be quite so bad if we hadn’t spend Wednesday afternoon re-doing my porch. You see, in the eight years the house has been standing, the ground continued to settle and the paving stones no longer resembled any sense of being level. As my father had ordered two cubic meters of gravel in preparation for the garage, we tackled the porch on Wednesday and re-layed almost every single stone. Just to give you an idea of how crooked and sunk it all was – at least five full wheelbarrows of gravel fit under those paving stones. The muscles in my back and wrist remember each one individually 😉

Yesterday, the garden house (garage) was delivered. We ended up not purchasing the one that we went to see on Saturday, as we would have had to disassemble it there, load it up and reassemble it here. After close scrutiny, the construction revealed many, many nails and we weren’t sure about getting it all apart without ruining half of the boards. Thus, we bought a new one.

Here, a view of the yard yesterday, as we were getting started. Notice the double door and window of the house leaning up against the swing set.
My father preparing the groundwork, ensuring that the “base” was level in all possible directions.
Myself, with help of the packing list and the tape measure, determining which beams go where.
Men women at work.
By 8.00 p.m., we had managed to assemble it, affix the roof boards and install the flooring. Doors and the window are on today’s program.
And the bikes got to spend their first night “indoors”.

A New Look

Well, as anyone (who is not using IE) can see, I’ve done a redesign of the blog template.

Problem is, with IE, the page is all mixed up.

So now what? Do I hope that all fellow bloggers are using Firefox or Opera?

Or need I continue to tweak to get it display on IE? (And I have no idea in hell why it isn’t displaying properly).


Carpentry Work

It’s really uncanny. Every time I have just thoroughly vacuumed the house, my father announces that he is going to (a) start a new project or (b) finish a started project. Meaning that last night, he told me he was planning to finish work on the switch-over of the rafters (since we had to cut one in pieces for the window to fit and I wasn’t eager to have the roof collapse on my head while sitting on the couch) and perhaps do some work on the inside casing and paneling.

We started right after breakfast, and finished at 7.00 p.m.

It is amazing to me how the power tools needed for this kind of a project accumulate at the end of the day. By the time we were finished, I had the following in the living room:

1 percussion drill, 1 regular drill, 1 belt grinder, 1 angle grinder, 1 eccentric grinder, 1 jigsaw, 1 circular saw, 1 cordless drill / screwdriver.

Not to mention the ever present chainsaw (which was removed from the living room immediately after its use to trim off a piece of the rafter) and various chisels and mallets and angles and pocket rules and pencils and and last but not least, lots of sawdust to go around. (And at this point I must sing the praises of my vacuum cleaner – which has survived not only building this house but various renovation projects. Mom gave it to me when they moved stateside and it has been working hard ever since.)

The window is fully installed and is perfect (because of me – I cut the last piece of paneling wood with the circular saw and the jigsaw to a perfect fit ;-). No, actually, he threatened to hit me if I ruined the board :-P.

Anyhow, poor Tobi saw the ladder this morning and exited the house quickly. Spent all day at my father’s & Hilde’s house. He hates renovations. On Monday night, after we did the initial work for the window, he got me out of bed twice in the middle of the night – I thought it was something he ate but Hilde pointed out that he was probably suffering from stress. I think she was right. Last year when we expanded the upstairs gallery, he had the same problems.

But, the window is finished. And lovely. And huge. And very excellent.

German saying for the day: “Wo gehobelt wird, fallen Späne”.

English: “Where something is being planed, shavings will fall.”

Loosely translated, it means where something or someone is being improved, a bit of dirt or remnants will fall off.

Up On The Roof

Where I do not like to be actually, I am a bit uneasy even on a ladder let alone on my roof which is a bit steep for my taste. My father however, decided that the weather was good enough to just go ahead and install the skylight window. (I noticed that when I was sitting at the PC this morning and heard him rearranging the roof tiles – quite a noisy undertaking).

It has been an exhausting day, especially for him (the chemotherapy still has its grips on him) but the window is up – fastened but not sealed yet.

Here some pictures of our progress):

Luckily, I had the foresight to put a plastic cover over the couch, despite the plastic sheeting over where the hole would be cut on the ceiling.

By the time the day was over, even the stereo was covered in sawdust.

This was the first half (left) of the opening required in the roof, the right side had been stripped down to the roofing felt and was ready for my father’s favorite tool:

This was the part where I had to climb up there with him to “catch” the sawed boards and prevent them from falling into the living room and tearing down the plastic sheeting.

This was about 4 in the afternoon, he is standing on a ladder in the living room – here you can see the size of the opening – it is huge and geez do I have LIGHT!

Like Squeezing Blood From a Stone

Everyone apparently wants at the money I don’t have.

The tax office was kind enough to return my receipts and supporting paperwork today, with a letter stating that they weren’t sure yet how they were going to interpret my tax return but they will let me know. Thanks. Kind of you.

My former employer received a letter from the employment office, wanting to know the outcome of the court hearing – just making sure I am eligible to continue to receive benefits.

What a world this is.

In diesem Sinne, das beste Kommentar zu Hartz IV, dass ich bis jetzt gelesen habe erschien in einem Leserbrief an den Spiegel:

“Ob bei Hartz IV im Endeffekt ein paar Euro mehr oder weniger für die Arbeitslosen herauskommen, ist nicht so entscheidend. Der Skandal besteht darin, dass Menschen, die zum Teil 30 Jahre oder mehr für diesen Staat geschuftet und fleißig Beiträge gezahlt haben, nach einem Jahr Arbeitslosigkeit das Gleiche bekommen sollen wie jemand, der sein ganzes Leben noch nie einen Hammer in die Hand genommen hat.”

Vielleicht nicht nach einem Jahr Arbeitslosigkeit, aber irgendwann.

On another note, I forgot to report on my father’s help in repairing my radio:

The vacuum tube responsible for the “magic eye” had died, and he managed to find a replacement at ebay. Was kind enough to install the new tube for me and look how this magic eye now glows!:

Lovely, isn’t it!

Socks and more Socks

Today, presenting some of the socks I’ve knitted, though not all since I have given some as presents.

My sock gallery…..

My most recent pair – I love these!

“Mexican light”

Green / white heel and toe

all green

My first pair, last year

One of my favorites

Brown tones

Here I was lazy and made the leg part too short…

Both of these were knitted for me by my very sweet stepmom

This one is crocheted!!!!!

This was also one of my first.


This is good for a change. It is Saturday morning, 9.00, since I took care of cleaning yesterday, I have two whole days to just hang out and do what I want (or what has piled up, like my ironing).


My wonderful aunt (who is also blond, like me) told me this blond joke yesterday – its wonderful.

A 747 takes off from Heathrow in London headed for L.A.

A blonde passenger has seated herself in the first class, despite the fact that she has a ticket for economy.

Three times the stewardess tries to convince the young woman to leave first class and go to her assigned seating. The blonde woman refuses – “first class is much nicer than back there”.

Frustrated, the stewardess approaches the pilot and asks him for help.

“No problem”, he says.

Two minutes later the pilot returns to the cockpit.

“Did you get her to leave first class?” asks the stewardess?

“Yes, it was no problem at all”.

“Well, how did you convince her?”

“It was very easy”, the pilot replies. “I told her that the first three rows only fly as far as New York”.

Ha! I loved it.


And guess what – I finished the afghan mom sent me the yarn for!!

Last Weekend…

the dust from my floor sanding attack had just settled and been cleaned up and the house was, after three weeks, once again dust free.
I knew something was up when my father came over with a yardstick in his hand. He only does that when he is bored and looking to improve/repair/build something.

Here are the pics.

How to install a larger window

Step 1: Get the chainsaw,

Step 2: Just take out pieces of the wall,

Step 3: Smile for the camera,

Step 4: Enjoy the view!

The dust has, in the meanwhile settled again. 😉