...and crafting a purposeful recovery

Month: March 2018


We’ve all heard about or perhaps even endured living for a time amid home renovation projects.  In the extreme it has cost marriages.  Or maybe that’s a myth.  In any case I can now attest to the fact that remodling a dwelling whilst living in it is especially hard on a couple.  Since moving in two weeks ago my girlfriend, Cristina (previously pictured holding up a ceiling panel for me), has endured dust, noise, noxious fumes, peeing outside in the rain and sprinting to 7/11 for more personal hygeine.  Food is a whole ‘nother subject.  While these temporary inconveniences have not really bothered me up to now,  I have to remind myself that one year ago she was living in a friend’s 45th floor penthouse in Miami.  But she is being a trooper.

Cristina’s biggest complaint so far has been poor phone reception inside a metal box.

I continue to be challenged by inconsistent wood quality/color in birch 1/4″ paneling.  On a few pieces which have been predominately which birch, the stain has not looked so great – turning out pale yellow instead of a richer honey hue.  I have improvised and salvaged these irregular panels by painting them over with Minwax “Polyshades”, a tinted product that stains and polycoats at once.  By using their Pecan product, I introduce a little red back into the color scheme, making these panels a better match.  Though not perfect, they now work ok.

Before and after Minwax Polyshades Pecan. Bottom is the better result.

This is actually a tiny little can (8 oz.)


Coming Soon! Sparta in 3 – D

Good morning and happy daylight-savings time.  I really missed that hour of sleep Sunday morning and was a bit sluggish all day yesterday – not to mention out of rythym as I went to bed at 7 pm last night.  OK, enough about my sleep hygiene.

I did accomplish a little something yesterday.  This project is taking shape – now in multiple dimensions as the walls are going up.  This is a fun time and I can really  get a sense of Sparta’s blossoming figure – I am putting meat on her bones!

Back wall in. This is where the bedroom closet/drawers will go.


The original finish on the closet components looks perfect. They will go back in “as is”.

She is filling out.

Early Bird

It’s 4:44 am and 44 degrees inside Sparta as my frigid fingers type clumsily.  Though numerology does interest me, I did not get up at this ridiculous hour just to begin this entry with a series of “4s” as if to assign particular significance to it.  Truth be told,  I have been up since 12:30 this morning when it was a balmy 49 degrees and for the past 4 hours (there’s that number again) I have been solving my electrical problems.  Although I had tested every circuit when originally installed, I had decided to do so again before sealing it all up behind walls.  That’s where the problems began.  Shit wasn’t turning on as it previously had.  After spending most of yesterday racking my brain for answers as to why significant portions of my 12 volt system were not working, I finally said “fuck it” and went to bed at 6 pm.  Beating the sun to bed is hard to do in early March but I had simply had enough with fruitless problem-solving and I decided to climb into bed before doing something foolish, like calling an electrician at $120/hr.

After six fitfull hours of sleep, I bounded out of bed and walked over to 7-Eleven for two large cups of something vaguely coffee-like.  Once I forced those down I went to work.  Things usually go better with a fresh start on an old problem and, sure enough, within a few hours I had worked everything out.  Information gleaned the day before from my daughter’s friend, Saylor, helped immeasurably.  But a few issues remained – their secrets trapped behind insulation, ceiling pieces, etc.

Ultimately, the culprits were discovered – a connection that had shaken loose from the wire nut, a wire pulled loose during the insulation process and a recessed can fixture that I had forgotten to connect. Too bad that one required removing a piece of ceiling…rats!  But the biggest problem, one that almost cooked my 12 volt battery thus filling Sparta with an acrid odor, was a buried, unconnected set of wires intended for a future fan. They had simply been overlooked when the insulation was put in and the black and white leads were touching.  That’s a big No – No and made me glad I am going mostly 12 volt here. So though I have not yet tested the 120v ac/dc plug array, I am happy to report that all is copacetic with the low voltage stuff.  I can now think about going back to bed, having accomplished more this morning than I do in an average week.

Dark and cold


The offending, unconnected fan

I like these “Wago” brand box-style wire nuts. Really cleans up the appearance of busy intersections.

Damn! I hate undoing perfectly good work to get at a wiring issue. Done

That’s what I’m talking about!

I like my bronze can trim