Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Doorknobs from Ebay!

Sometimes I just randomly click on over to ebay to see what's there. Since I got the house I've always kept an eye out for doorknobs. You know it's really hard to find matching hardware for old houses, and my doorknobs are especially difficult. They aren't the mortise lock type doorknobs that most houses this age have. The doorknobs are made by Schlage, and are what I'd assume are their first crack at the modern doorknob. During the duplexing process, some of the original doorknobs went missing, so my quest finding replacements has been rather unfruitful...

Until now!
I found some on ebay last week! They are pewter, not brass like the majority of my knobs, but they are from the same time period. The metal ones have a hammered look to them, but some of them are glass and match the ones I have already in the house. A couple of the glass ones were made with black glass. How cool is that?

Even though some of these knobs are different, they are period-appropriate so they should work. Of course, this means that I'd have to get back to working on the house. Maybe they'll just stay in the box until spring break. We'll see!

BTW, I'm glad I paid for shipping on parts of the doors! What's up with that?

On a different topic, my friend Martha from the neighborhood association emailed me with some great advice for my water leak issue. It was so obvious I felt absolutely dumb for not thinking of it myself. A mug. A big mug from a local establishment's mug night. You see, when you put the mug under the drip, it stops the water from spreading out into the rest of the room and the rug. See why I feel dumb for not thinking of that? Wow.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

So Busy, Yet House Still Falling Down

I've been insanely busy with school, student organizations, committees, councils, advisory boards, and work lately that I haven't gotten much of anything done. You know how that is? You try to do a little of everything and you just get farther behind as a whole. Argh!

While I'm trying to manage everything else, the house decides to erupt in plumbing fiascoes. Here's the readout:

Kitchen: Plumbing to sink freezes again. The hot and cold water lines run right along the foundation, causing them to freeze when the air temperature drops below -10 degrees F. This leads to piles of dirty dishes, a messy kitchen, and crabby roommates. I saw an article online from This Old House that showed me how to get the pipes thawed out. I used a hair dryer (I couldn't find my 'flame thrower' heat gun) along the pipes to break down the ice. I turned the faucet on before I started so once the ice melted the water would run through the pipes into the sink. The flowing water helps melt the remaining ice in the pipe. It was such a great sound when I heard the sink drain start funneling water down to the sewer!

Upstairs Bathroom: This room has always had poor water pressure, but after the little freezing incident it's gotten worse. The tub works alright, the toilet is fine, but the sink is barely putting out anything at all. How ghetto is it to wash your hands in the bathtub after using the facilities? It's a proud moment as a homeowner... I really don't know how to fix this myself. Anybody know of a good (cheap) plumber in Fargo, ND?

Downstairs Bathroom: EVERYTHING LEAKS! As noted before, the shower leaks through the floor into the basement, but it has since gotten worse. The sink faucet cold water supply valve leaks down into the basement as well. Since the big freeze, the toilet's tank has started dripping from where the tank and bowl connect. This is more of a problem because it doesn't just drip into the basement like the other plumbing fixtures, but creates a nice little cold-water puddle underfoot. This puddle starts first by filling the cracks between the peel-'n-stick vinyl tiles creating an unexpected sock moistness that's really uncalled for. The puddle growth ends by swallowing up the entire bathmat from the bottom up. From the top it still looks like a nice dry bathmat, then SQUISH, you're up to your ankles in toilet water. SuRPRiSe! The other fixtures can just keep dripping into the basement for a while (the water just trails down to the sewer), but that toilet needs to be fixed soon.

I just don't have the time for all of this right now!

Did I mention I'm about a week and a half behind in my marathon training? I'm so out of shape!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


We have water again. Heat and water both at the same time. It feels like another Christmas!

Brrr... a.k.a. I love my life.

This is a story about how amazing yesterday was. Get ready.

Lets start this off with a quick announcement. The temperature was -15 degrees. This does not include the wind chill. For those of you who live in a land that God remembered with sunshine, the wind chill is how cold the air feels on your skin. In Fargo, this can range down to -50 or more. I bet some of you didn't know the air temperature goes that low. Freezing happens at 32 degrees, then you get to zero, then you get to go below that zero. Last year we got to 3o below without the wind chill. I'm sure it's still coming this winter. Joy.

So... my car's blower fan is broken, thus no heat or defroster. It's ungodly cold in Fargo. There is frost hardened on the INSIDE of my car windows. I can't scrape it off. There's a hole in the windshield's frost about a food wide that I can use that to see out of on my way to school. Following so far? Good.

While backing out of the driveway I roll down the passenger window so I can see if any traffic is coming. This will be the last time the top of the window touches the door frame that day. Just wait, it continues to get better.

After class I have some obligations that last until about eleven o'clock pm. My days usually last about fourteen hours before I get any time to relax. But back to yesterday. I get a text from my roommate that says, "why is the house so cold". I don't know why at this point, but I already know that it is very bad, will be expensive, and will make me want to burn down the house and flee the country. My other roommate texts me that "the house is 43 degrees". This is so not good. I want to gather myself into the fetal position and cry.

I go home and find that the oil tanks, although clearly stating that they contain just under 1/8th of their capacity, have decided to become empty. At that point the furnace says "screw this, I'm done" and takes a nice nap.

Cut to the pipes freezing over.

I set my alarm for the EXACT time when the oil company will begin taking phone calls, say a little prayer for the pipes not to burst, then layer on a parka and two extra comforters and go to bed. Shivering, lots of shivering.

7am. Phone call happens about five seconds after the alarm starts. The oil guy will be over at 9:30. The house is 36 degrees. Awesome. By the time he arrives the house is at 35 degrees. He comes inside, checks things out a bit, then pumps in 300 gallons of oil (the two tanks hold 550) and starts up the furnace again. I pay the nice man ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. I didn't even get the tanks filled up all the way. I'll probably have to get them filled again in March.

It's 2am the next day and the water still isn't running. I'm still hoping the pipes are thawing and the water will magically turn on my the morning. I know, fat chance, but I really don't want to have to fork over more money on a plumber.

Lesson learned: Don't purchase real estate north of the Mason-Dixon line. could be worse though. Two blocks away a homeless guy was found dead in front of the Cathedral's bishop's house. Apparently he had stopped by there a few times before and asked for help. This time the bishop wasn't home and he must have fallen down and froze to death. The mail carrier found him. I guess things could be worse for me huh? Puts things in perspective.

Friday, January 11, 2008

More Like My Home

Last night I had a few minutes so I hung up some picture frames in my room. It looks more like a finished room with my stuff up on the walls, so I'm really happy about that.

The wall by the door has a certificate that I received when I was initiated into my Fraternity and a cross that I got for my confirmation. It hangs a little crookedly, so I threw another nail inside the little dove to keep it level.There's a little wall next to my nightstand, made from where the closet sticks out a couple feet into the room, that you can't see from the room's doorway. I decided that would be a good place to hang the stuff that doesn't match anything but I still wanted to hang up. I have my medal and bib number from the half marathon I ran in May. Hopefully seeing it everyday will keep me motivated as I train for the full marathon this May! The plaque I received this past May as well. It recognized me as the 2006 NDSU Greek man of the year. I need to stay motivated this year since I took on a pretty big role on the Interfraternity Council, so seeing this everyday should help.
The big wall next to the bed turned out to be the perfect place to display my composites. For those of you who don't know much about Greek Life, a composite is a display of all of the members' pictures. A new one is printed each year, and I have three of them. I haven't put the most recent one in the frame yet. The redish one is from AGD Sorority who I was the sweetheart of in 2006. They gave me a copy of their composite so I put it in with the rest. The new blinds are from the elegant Walmart Mainstays collection. $4.Here's my mugshot from 2006, just to give you an example. Yes I blocked out my last name... stalkers! Below everyone's picture is the job title or position they held in the chapter. Eminent Commander is just our fancy name for President.
On the wall with the dresser I hung up a pencil drawing I did two years ago for one of my first art classes at NDSU. It's a copy of Vermeer's 'A Woman Weighing Pearls'. The dresser will be a few inches higher when I get around to painting the bun feet black and putting them on the bottom. Somehow they got separated from the dresser a while back. The boxes to the left need to be taken out. One of the boxes is completely packed with old clothes I have to donate. I organized my closet and there just isn't enough room to hold on to the old clothes I wouldn't wear out of the house anymore. I still have one load of laundry that I'll need to squeeze in, but just look at how great and ORGANIZED this closet looks! I need to hunt down my tie rack and put a shelf up over the hanging rod, but other than that everything looks pretty good. See?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Dining Room Woodwork = Primed.

I stayed up and primed the woodwork. Photos:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Dining Room: Trim Prep 2

Tonight I sanded down the woodwork in the dining room to get it ready to be primed. I filled the nail holes (which hadn't been filled for 23 years) with joint compound. Yeah, wood putty would have been better, but the Depot is really far away and I'm just painting the wood anyways. Go ahead and call me lazy... I am.
I'm leaving tomorrow at noon for a executive retreat for NDSU's Inter-fraternity Council where we'll be trying to figure out how to make that organization better. I was just appointed to the vice president position and I know we're going to need to put a lot of work in this weekend to get a head start on the semester.

The retreat is in a cabin in the woods. Yeah, that'd be one of my regular hangouts. NOT! Although I'm really not that enthused about hanging out in the wilderness for a weekend, I am excited to get out of Fargo for a couple days.

Classes start Tuesday. I'm ready to be done with this holiday break. Overall, it's fallen pretty short of my hopes, so It'll be good to get back into my regular routine.

Downer of a post, huh? At least the dining room will be done-ish soon.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Dining Room: Trim Prep

Happy 2008! First post of the new year; excited?? ...not really that cool of a post. sorry.

Tonight I started the prep work for painting the trim in the dining room. The main boards of the trim are going to be saved, but the moulding that rides along the edge of those boards is too small and needs to be removed. You know I like breaking things, so I had fun with that. Here's a photo of the old trim, and a photo that shows the size of the moulding that should be wrapping around the large boards.
Old trim piece left, new -correctly sized- trim piece right:
All I'll need to do now is give the wood a light sanding and I can get a coat of primer on there. Then paint. I'll put on the new trim pieces later, once the larger boards are all done. I just don't think I'll have time to get to bustin' out the miter saw during break. The same goes for the crown moulding. It's so frustrating that I'm not getting done what I wanted to get done.

I'll be gone all weekend for leadership retreats for two different student organizations, so anything that's getting done over break is getting done before Friday. aka: dining room is it. No living room, no stairwell.