Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Fence

First off I have to say I am sorry for not moderating some comments that are out there. I just haven't kept up on the site hardly at all.

Finally received approval for the fence a couple weeks back at the last city counsel meeting. I still have to do paperwork to make it all official but I am not really in any hurry till this spring.

Did some more work on the laundry room in the basment. Put some blueboard up, taped and mudded. Nothing real fancy, just kind gave it a finished look.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A fence, a neighbor, a city zone inspector

A Fence:
Here is the story about my fence. We took the whole week after Labor Day weekend off from work just to get the side yard redone. After killing ourselves tilling the old grass under and smoothing the lot out I procrastinated on if I should build a fence (most visible) or a deck. Beth reminded me that we need to keep the dogs from wandering and that it would be nice to let them outside without standing and watching in the blazing sun and frigid cold. So I started digging post holes, by hand.
My neighbor George came over with his own post hole digger and really rolled his sleeves up and dug a good 10 of the 20 I needed dug. Never asked for a thing in return. Very cool guy.

In the basement, I built a jig out of a 4x8 sheet of plywood so I could layout the parts for each fence panel. Each panel is custom because??? well some are 54" wide some are 58" and on down the line. Ok I didn't measure so well spacing wise. I did nail the posts laser straight down the line though. But I digress, I have my jig, I can lay out each panel with all the spindles nicely spaced, solid so I can (get this) screw each spindle in (3 screws each, and counter sunk thank you). Only takes about 30 mins to do panel. Haul that bad boy upstairs and outside to do a custom fit. Sounds awesome huh? (too bad there aren't any pics uploaded to see)
On the last Saturday I ran out of spindles and the local HD was out and the HD in Bloomington was out also. So I put the project on hold until I could get more material.

A neighbor

I am surrounded by them, most of us are. Unlike friends, we can't pick neighbors or family.
Some neighbors are cool (like George) and some are not like the one who lives on the north side of the street. Almost to person that I have talked to about what happened says her name through clenched teeth.

A city zone inspector

Beth sends me a text with a pic attached on my phone. A stop work order stuck to the fence with a number to call. So I call the number and talk to Mr. Maddox of the City of La Salle zoning dept. I thought in the back of my mind that I forgot to get a building permit and that is what this is all about. So I ask Mr. Maddox how much I owe for the permit. He politely told me that the permit was only part of the issue. The other issue was the height of the fence, and lastly (not really) where the fence was installed. See the city of La Salle has a right of way that encroaches 40 ft from the center line of Wright St. 40 ft? Really? I was laughing at the guy. I asked him point blank "your fucking with me right?" No sir was the reply. He went on to tell me that the fence ordinance was enacted in 1952 and was consistant with other municipalities....blah, blah, blah.....I told him I don't give a shit about other cities, just my yard.

La Salle Illinois is a nice town, there are parts that have been neglected and the down town is dieing. Pretty much like any other small city in reality. But we have a new mayor and he is trying to clean things up and really pushes hard for people to clean their shit up, ummm homes and property I mean.

Mr Maddox goes on to tell me that the only fence I can have on "my property" is a (get this) 30" high chain link fence, and it can only go out to 9' 3" from the east side of my house so as not to go onto the city right of way. Now some quick math. 40' from center line of the street, and 9' 3" equals a total of just under 50'. Effectively leaving me with nothing!! I was floored! I can't do anything with my yard but pay taxes on it. He even told me that I can't plant trees or bushes in the right of way and that I probably should have had a building permit to re sod the fucking yard!! I had tears I was laughing so hard! I could not believe it. All the other people that have trees and bushes and hedges (more about that) were grandfathered in. Now wait, didn't you just tell me that the ordinance was enacted in 1952? and most people have only lived here at the longest 40 yrs?? I was getting pumped and no reach around afterwards.

The guy was pretty polite, but after hanging up the phone I felt dirty and a strong need to take a shower. I called the mayors office and left a message.
I called the alderman and left a message. The alderman called me back and said I have to request a variance to the ordinance and I have to go stand in front of the City Console and plead my case.
After writing a letter, taking pictures, and drawing a diagram of what I wanted to do with my yard, I sent the packet into the City and waited till Monday. I am still tryng to decide if I want to go through the bullshit of getting approval for a deck now. Or just build it and ask forgivness later.

Monday night the Mayor shows on my doorstep. Kind of blew me away. We talked a bit and he took off and said "I hope to see you at the meeting".
Beth and I cruised downtown and pleaded our case. I felt like I was standing in front of the principle office in High School again. I told the Alderman and the Mayor that at the meeting. told them about all the money we have spent on the house, that after 18 yrs of military service I never thought that I would ever have to defend my own property. Talked about the trees we took out, etc. etc.
The exercise was kind of cool really, I got to see City politics in action and the processes.

The board approved and gave approval, but! I have to pay $200, enter into a contract with the City and "pay a lease" yearly on my own property! But the City attorney (ass hole) says that I have to go in front of the Zoning Board, plead my case then go back to the City Console for final approval. For christs sake! it will be November before I can finish the fence.

Mr Maddox told me that a city employee turned me in, but "we" all believe it to be my North neighbor that actually called. From the grapevine, she calls the City at least once a week to bitch about something. It is pretty routine for them to get the call. So what do you do? she lives through her windows! and gossips. I look at it this way, I am going to outlive the old bat and in a couple years? I'll buy her house after she is gone and do whatever I feel like after that!!!

So I wait on the City and time..................what a bitch!

A long list

Here is a long list of things that we have done on the house since this spring. I am sure I missed a few things. I have a pile of pictures that I need to post but I will get to those later.

We had the old driveway pulled out along with the Lilac bushes and roots. The guy we had do the driveway said the roots were the hardest things to pull out. We also had the front walk way dug out and new cement poured. The cement was (both the driveway and walkway) stamped to look like cobble stones and we came back later and stained the cement the same color as we found under the original porch landing. A cool find.

We tilled and pulverized the side yard, leveled the yard and re sodded.
Started a fence but had a stop work order slapped on me by the city. (a long story that I will fill you in later with the details)

Landscaped the west side yard.

Replaced 6 basement windows (2 to go)

Installed a water softener (maybe old news)

Finally got a piece of frosted glass for the pantry door.

Repainted the sun room/front porch.

Made a built in desk in what was originally planned to be a breakfast nook. We decieded that a nook wasn't practical.

I am sure that there is a ton of things that I forgot.

An update/overview

I was asked by my church to give a "talk" about Dan Terry two Wednesday's ago. I really put the whole thing off for a few weeks until I could muster the courage and actually do it. The link below will take you to the site and if you want to listen I droned on for about 25 mins. Select the audio cast Pursecution by Scott Cavanaugh.

So at age 45 I had my first testimony! Kind of funny when I think about it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The war comes home

I know I haven't written in many months, but after at late night phone call Saturday night I really felt a need to write something. There are very few times in a persons life that things are kind of put into perspective through some outside influence.
We as Americans really live an insular world. Far removed from what the rest of the world as it spins around us. Whether this is by design or just a total lack of concern it is kind of sad state of existence. Oh yes! there is a big earth quake in Haiti, lets just dump a shit ton of money at the problem and as it fades from the news we forget. Most people can't pin point Montana on a map let alone Haiti.
Where am I going with this?? My sister-in-law's brother was killed in Afghanistan last week. He was executed (yes executed) by the great Islamic warriors called the Taliban.
Great my ass! the Taliban is nothing but a bunch of ignorant, closed and narrow minded clan of latent homosexuals (yes, men and boys are for fun and women are for breeding) that run around with guns and shoot people in the name of Allah! Fuckin blow me ok?
Dan Terry was truly one of the good guys in that country. He was there to help the people and has helped the Afghans for over 30 years. He was fluent in Dari and Pushtu. Dan and his friends were coming back from a 3 week trip from setting up an eye clinic. The convoy of unarmored vehicles were ambushed by the Taliban, robbed, marched into the woods and SHOT one at a time and left. 6 Americans, 1 Brit, 1 German, and 2 Afghan drivers. the Taliban reason? They were spying for America and proselytising. Again blow me! Dan was in tune with god but would never attempt to push Christianity onto a Muslim population. They were doctors, that's all.

I feel very sad for Dan and his family. They are good down to earth people trying to make a difference in a fucked up little country (that most Americans can't find on a map). Dan will be truly missed in this world.

Now my commentary:
Every 79 cents that we spend for a bullet that hits its mark, center mass, on some fucked up bastard that claims his god is better than mine (or yours) is money well spent.
Look don't send me any emails. I am a conservative, pro military, pro American, pro gun, I drive a 13 mpg GMC Yukon XL, steal music and videos off the internet and not apologetic for my morals or opinions. If you don't like me or my writings, move on to the next blog. If your are just totally offended but what I write, go fuck yourself and continue to pretend that none of what happens in this world affects you. Just keep complaining about $3 a gallon gas and ask your councilman to bring a motion at your next city hall meeting demanding a answer to why they closed your local Starbucks franchise. The next time an innocent is shot in the back of his or her head for not following sharia law I hope you puppy dies.

I am a American soldier, when its my time to go to the 'stan' I will send every bullet down range aimed at the Taliban with most vengeance and laugh when one hits center mass. If you believe that none of today's terrorism had to do with religion again go bury your head in the sand.

Cry havoc and release the dogs of war. Can you tell I'm pissed?

So how is that home improvement project going????

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Another month gone! Still here! I got a call a few days after I wrote the last update that I was not going to Iraq after all.
Funny how most folks around me responded with a " at least they are not shooting at you over there, Afghanastan is another matter" Well I am here to tell you that yes they are still shooting and setting up IED's in Iraq, not as many but still killing American's none the less. Funny how Iraq has fallen off the map as far as news goes and people just think it is all over with, NOT!

So anyway I am waiting for the next call up to snatch my name out of a hat and off I go!

I have a couple projects going on and want to get some pics uploaded before I talk about them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Another month

I just happened to notice that it has been another month gone and I have not written to much again. Things have been just as they say in the upper northeast "wicked crazy".
I received an email midweek a few weeks back that I was being activated and being deployed to Iraq. Not even a phone call just an email directing me to report. Now being an IT guy for a small company, it is pretty hard to just walk out the door from my job on a Wednesday and tell your employer that for the next 16 months you are going to be "gone". Kind of fucked up huh? Well after a flurry of phone calls and text messages "they" decided I wasn't needed, but to stand by for the next unit that is being mobilized. Work has been pretty cool about the whole thing.

What does that have to do with the house. Nothing really other than I haven't done much.
Did get some gutters on the house last week, Larry did a great job and was in and out and done in an afternoon. Had some rain, gutters worked great, basement still leaks.

Not sure if you all remember, I started to finish out the laundry room a long time back with white 1/4" melamine. I did take and tear those four panels out and started to replace the melamine with OSB and then the melamine over the top. FAIL! I hate that stuff with a vengence! so the laundry room is still half finished just a different color. I left the OSB as it is.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Short Video of the stump grinder

I don't know I just think this is cool. Sorry for the camera moving around alot.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ax men 2

Here is an after shot of the yard, looking kinda bare. Molly and Sugar are surveying the landscape.

Here is just some shots showing the scale of the tree and just how large it was.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ax men

Had a couple tree guys come over a couple weeks ago to give me quotes on removing the trees in my yard. Now before some tree hugger starts to go off on me about global warming etc, just let me say "kiss my ass" I am going to replace them this spring.
The two White Locusts and the Norwegian Pine were growning into the foundation, creating cracks and leaks. The neighbor told me the pine had been there more than 40 years so I suspect it was towards the end of its life span anyway. Limbs would die and fall off all the time into the yard. The locusts? You get out there and rake those leaves. They gave good shade but are really messy in both the spring and the fall. I have tracked in the leaves through the house for a year now and they just never go away. So now that I justified my genocide of the trees, I called 3 guys to come and give me a price to remove them. I figured that it being "off" season for tree removal and these guys are looking for work I would give it a shot.
Stuarts Tree Service did a great job! Cut the trees, ground out the stumps, filled the holes with dirt, raked the whole yard and gave me a credit for the locust wood because it is good burning. Can't say enough about them. They also came in $300 less then the other guys.

I stood outside at lunch watching them cut these bad boys down and the thought occured to me that if I tried to do this myself, A:I would still be trimming the branches off the first tree. B: I would be hanging off of something with a chain saw in my hand. C: cussing like a sailor, and D: where would I put the cuttings?
I like option D: Let the pros do it from a bucket truck.
You can see how big the spruce grew to be in the pictures below. You never really knew how big it was from looking up.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pantry Door

Made some progress on the pantry door this weekend but ran out of stripper towards the end. There is easily 8 coats of paint on the door. It was taking 4 applications of stripper to get down to the wood. The kitchen really took a beating when it came to paint over the years. Like the rest of the room there was a peach color applied somewhere over the years that kept leaching out from behind the white. Most of the white was just primer that some PO painted on and just left it.
I cut out the top part of the door (reluctantly) so I can put in some etched glass to allow the light to come through. Like the rest of the room the door and trim are made of pine that has yellowed and hardened nicely over the years. I am just gonna sand, prime and repaint white.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brain damage and forgotten projects

I found some pictures of the pantry that I put together around the first of October just before I left for fall vacation to Army boot camp. I ran bead board on the inside of the closet to match the rest of the kitchen. Painted it gloss white and then measured and cut some shelves to fit the space. I bought some decent plywood, stained and then clear coated everything. I like the contrast of the shelves and the white. Beth came up with the idea and good one it is. I added a dual electrical outlet for the microwave and whatever we need to plug in.

And the final product.
Under the Micro we put in some bins that hold the dog food and dog treats. The bins will hold a 50 lbs bag of dog food with no problem, and a good space saver.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Slacking the month away

You know after my boot camp vacation I had great plans for restarting work on the house and I have done absolutely nothing. No idea where the time has gone. Thinking that being cold as hell, snow on the ground, furnace running, I would hibernate and just plow ahead with the renovations. But no! The holidays, work, and everything else spinning around me I did nothing but think about doing something.

I did have an addition to the family, Molly!!!!

She is 7 years old, and retired. I got Molly from the same kennel as Sugar (aka Princess). She is a good old girl and spends a good 23 hours a day sleeping. She LOVES her pillow and tennis balls. Did I mention she LOVES her pillow? Anyway Molly has done her duty at producing pups and needed a good home. Molly has no real people skills, don't know how to walk on a leash, took a few days to get the idea that we pee and poop outside and not in the house, little things like that. But she is a good girl and only wants some attention and love. We have lots of that here! Sugar is playing the spoiled snot but thats ok, she gets just as much attention as she always did.

Ok so I bought a few toys for me that came from "Santa" I bought a planner and a joiner. I was thinking that the cost of all the stripper I buy it would pay for the planner. As long as what I need "stripped" is less than 10" wide I am ok. I still need the stripper but the planner is much quicker.

Here is a stack of trim needing stripped.

And a pile run through the planner.

And below is the wood primed and repainted with 4 coats of gloss white. I had a guy at work ask me why I was redoing all the woodwork and why didn't I buy new trim to replace the old? I thought I was gonna smack him. In reality I should be smacked in the head, but I just cannot throw away 80 + year old wood in the trash to replace with press wood. This pine is really neat, hard and has a great yellow look to it. To bad I have to paint it.
Here is the final look of the refurbed trim around the kitchen window and the door leading to the living/dinning room.