Fencing Replaced

So, some nimrod managed to *not* turn…and drove his/her vehicle through the fence at The Old Vic late Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

The took out my mailbox and pole, 40 feet of fence, 4 poles, the gate, my ugly bush…thing…(just to the right of the porch stairs) and they even managed to hit the house.

Ya can jog right or turn left...this nimrod split the difference.

Ya can jog right or turn left…this nimrod split the difference.

We found some fender-well or door-edge trim with reddish paint on it, and there was reddish paint where they hit the house too.

Impact. Little cracking...paint and plaster removed.

Impact. Little cracking…paint and plaster removed.

Neighbor says she saw a possibly 70’s or early 80’s model pickup…two tone with red or orange and white or yellow (hard to tell at night) around 1 am.

They, of course, ran.

If the person that did this happens to be reading…I’d have a word or two with you. Bring your checkbook. You may also want to stop by and speak with the local police and get your status straightened out there.

Saturday I bought a bunch of stuff and my friend Mike came by and helped. Got the old poles (and the concrete they were set in…that’s the hard part) excavated and new ones put back in and concreted by Saturday evening.

Sunday we had a leisurly breakfast and then finished the fence before Easter dinner. Thanks Mike!

Between the two of us we even managed to figure out how to weave/splice the new chain-link to the old, undamaged section for a seamless repair. We managed to salvage the gate and its pole.

Fencing fenced.

Fencing fenced.

Between the poles, top rail, fencing, mailbox and pole, concrete, and brick-a-brack this cost about $385 and a dozen or so man-hours of labor…add a little for cleanup and yanno…it sucks.

All the work…and I’m right back where I was Thursday at midnight.


…and now I’m googling surplus tank traps (grins). I could call ’em “yard art.”

Oh, and if there’s such a thing as keeping score…that just leaves THREE roofs, ONE car, TWO trucks, at least TWENTY windows, and a bunch of ceiling tiles and insulation to replace…

Daniel Meyer

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And then there’s this…

Somebody drove a car through the fence at the Old Vic last night…

Pretty sure now the universe is just messing with me.




At least…it appears…they didn’t hit the house…

Got my work cut out for me for the near future I expect.

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Oh hail…

We had an intense storm roll through Clarksville on St. Patricks Day, doing severe wind and hail damage across the city.



We took serious damage at Cupola Art <--click to read more about that. Y'all might recall that the roof on the Old Vic was just finished about this time last year…well, after the pissing match the insurance companies had about just which storm caused the previous/existing damage (which they weren’t gonna pay for anyway), I vowed that if I even heard the word “hail” in Clarksville I’d have the roof checked for damage.

As it happens…I needed my roof guys anyway to see what they can do for the Cupola Art building.

There was still hail on our porch 11 hours after the storm. And paint. Lots of paint. It took paint off the house!

We also lost the glass out of a window or two.

Hail and paint chips.

Hail and paint chips.

You guessed it. The Old Vic needs new shingles (sob!). Only hail damage though…all the structural work and redecking we sprung for did the job. We were protected from the wind damage and we’ve no structural damage and no leaks at this point.

But this is heartbreaking.

More as it develops.

Posted in Roofing, Windows | 3 Comments


If y’all ever wonder what the 300-pound, strong as an ox, rides a motorcycle with impunity in metroplex traffic, has knocked out a horse with a single punch (that’s another story), tough as nails biker dude finds as absolutely terrifying nightmare fuel?

This. Out of one of my porch columns. The entry hole was not even half an inch.

SO glad I didn’t stumble upon these while they were active….



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The finger of god…

Y’all might have seen our area in the news this last week…a series of major tornadoes (one an F4!) hit the area, one coming within a couple miles of our Suburban Blah House. We watched the news from the Old Vic…wondering what we would find when we went home.

Fortunately our property was fine.

Today we headed back to The Old Vic for a bit…and ran our “sort of usual” route…the route we did *not* use on the way home last week due to the minor fact of major tornadoes and flooding all along it.

Sobering run indeed. Vast swaths of homes and businesses wiped out along TX 78 just south of Farmersville…the stunned realization of the power unleashed here…

A few miles later…the dawning comprehension of the mechanics involved to create the farm field were the tornado shut down and simply dropped, straight down and without disturbing the trees and buildings here, tons of debris, thousands of pieces…crumpled refrigerators, entire roofs, wadded up sheet metal, an unbroken toilet. That thing over there that used to be a car.

Major, major damage…and this is NOT the damage you’ve been seeing on the news…since by comparison…it’s minor.

It’s still catastrophic. It’s amazing the death toll was so low…there is no meaningful warning for these storms as unless you’ve built a specialized shelter, there’s simply nowhere to hide from a direct strike. The warnings are so “general” (“Storm on the ground near so and so and moving northeast at 45 mph”) and it’s night so you can’t see it coming…which way would ya run? Which house of cards would you hide in?

We feel for these folks…but we’re also very grateful these storms missed our Suburban Blah house (and not by much!).

The human mind can’t help but look for meaning when confronted by chaos…but just because we seek meaning…doesn’t mean there’s any there.

The writings of a mad god weren’t meant to be understood. If you survived to wonder at the insanity…well, that’s a win.

Ya’ll be safe!

Rockwall...the Sunday after Christmas

Rockwall…the Sunday after Christmas

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The Tool…

So yeah…using a tool…to do some tool kind of stuff…’cause tool kind of stuff is the sort of stuff you do when tinkering on Old Victorians…

…and then of course…I needed the tool to fix the tool…which I couldn’t find because…yanno…you don’t need the tool to fix the tool very often. I didn’t have another tool to fix the tool because…well…I don’t need that kind of tool to fix the tool on this project very often so that tool is with the other tools…in another city.

But see, the tool to fix the tool COMES with the tool…but as I mentioned before…I couldn’t find it.

The hardware store was fresh out of tools to fix the tool…or…maybe they weren’t out but just couldn’t find the tool to fix the tool too!

So I bought another tool…which also came with the tool to fix the tool…which I promptly used to fix the tool…and then decided to put somewhere safe and obvious so I wouldn’t lose the tool to fix the tool again…yanno…in case I needed the tool to fix the tool.

So I decided the tool to fix the tool should go with other tools of the type of the tool (the tool that needed fixing, not the tool that I needed to fix the tool…follow?).

So I took the tool to fix the tool and put it with the tools of the sort of the tool that needed fixing…and of course…if you’ve managed to read this far you probably know what’s coming…in placing the tool to fix the tool with the other tools of the type that needed the tool to fix the tool…I of course…FOUND the tool to fix the tool…(the lost tool to fix the tool, not the new tool to fix the tool)…so now I have TWO tools to fix the tools…which works out okay since I now have two of the tools that need the tool to fix the tool…and they are stashed in a safe and obvious place…just so I can go buy yet ANOTHER tool to fix the tool the next time I need a tool to fix the tool.

So basically I spent $15 bucks to find the place where I stashed the tool to fix the tool.

More coffee, methinks….

The tool...with the tool to fix the tool...

The tool…with the tool to fix the tool…

Daniel Meyer

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“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”
– Robert A. Heinlein

Geronimo, the big orange cat, is meowing pitifully from somewhere in the Old Vic. It sounds frantic…and pathetic

I’d let him stew for a while…there’s really very little trouble the cats can get into here. Well, there’s little trouble once we plugged the durn cat-leak anyway. Besides, the ghosts like the cats, and Geronimo in particular.

Yeah, I’d let him stew…except the wife worries more than I do and flashes “the eyes” at me. She’s even cuter than the durn cat is.

Sigh. The things I do for pussy…ur…uh…cats. Pussy cats.

I go hunting and eventually end up upstairs. It takes a bit of time, as it’s a big damn house and he is not constantly crying. Finally I locate him.

Yep, he is, somehow, locked in a closet.

I open the door. We look at each other. He’s just sitting there in that uber-dignified cat way, tail wrapped around his front paws. For as pitiful as he sounded he seems remarkably calm.

“What the hell, cat?”

He calmly blinks. Basically the cat version of, “What’s up dude?”

“Well? Come on!”

He just meows and makes “the eyes” at me.

“Dude, I am NOT carrying you. Out!” and I point toward the stairs.

He gives me an insulted look and the 19-pound package of muscle and grace leaps out of the closet (tawump), gallops across the hall (galump galump galump), zooms down the stairs (kathump kathump kathump), and races into the parlor (thud thud thud) to join the wife watching TV.

So, a close look in the closet reveals his secret. There’s a passage into the side attic upstairs (several actually), and there’s a hatch in the back of the closet to an attic over the porch, so obviously he navigated that connection.

Mystery solved. Cat safe. Pettin’s and purrin’s all around. All is right with the world.

Well, until…

A couple hours later the pitiful, frantic meowing starts up again. So do the wife’s “cute” eyes.

I step out in the downstairs hall, listen carefully. And yep, it’s coming from upstairs in the same general direction.

I yell, “Geronimo! You doofus! I am NOT rescuing you from the same damn closet again! Get your furry orange butt down here!”

(KAThump!) from the closet back into the porch attic
(dadump dadump dadump dadump) through that attic and into the side attic
(tawump!) out of the attic into the hall
(galump galump galump) across the hall
(kathump kathump kathump) down the stairs
“GaYAAAA!” (the 19 pound furry missile bounces off my legs on his way through the hall door)
(thud thud thud) and into the parlor to watch TV with the wife.

The big orange butt...

The big orange butt…

(shakes head)

Daniel Meyer

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One, two…

Making a *tapered* column plumb on a curvy Victorian house that wasn’t necessarily built square/plumb in the first place is a challenge…but column # 1 was installed on Friday.

I also cut column # 2 to length and embarked on its “prime dry prime dry prime dry attach endcaps” regimen.

Fits right in!

Fits right in!

The ordeal of putting multiple coats of primer on Column # 2 was made more interesting as all the neighborhood cats came to visit…and some insisted in helping. Slinging paint at cylinder with a couple cats doing figure eights around your ankles while others sit by offering helpful advice or encouragement can be fun!

I can’t wait till it’s time to stain the back deck.

A few hours of priming, painting, and installing endcaps later I got the second column installed.

I also did a bunch of trim work, puttying of nail-holes, lots of caulking, etc in the area.

Everything still needs a finish coat of paint, but I’ve also got SO MUCH more trim to put up against the soffit…much of which is…of course…a strange size (4-1/2″ for the initial trim). I’ve got to get some 1×6 and rip it down for that.

SO much missing trim...

SO much missing trim…

There is SO much missing trim to do that I expect I’ll give everything a finish coat of paint first…as the primer isn’t supposed to be left uncoated for more than a couple weeks…and then maybe hit the major stuff first and circle back around to the trim and fine details.

I imagine weather will interfere here shortly as well.

Not sure if I’ll start the underpinning or move on to the next section of porch next (more structural work there). I have SOME materials for each direction…but not enough for either…so it’s a harder decision than it should be.

And of course…once I get the underpinning on…I’ll be right back where I started at the beginning of the year…needing to install railings.

Sigh. It’s a process.

Daniel Meyer

Posted in Carpentry/Structure, Front Porch | Leave a comment

Column prep…part the first.

Okay, on the agenda this weekend, box in the box beam and install a couple columns.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

It’s not. The sheer amount of steps required in prepping a column take up a lot of time…fiddly work…but important to get right for a couple reasons…one is the longevity of the column, the other is, of course, so it will actually FIT.

Measure 34 times, cut twice.

Measure 34 times, cut twice.

These things are expensive…and have to be cut to length…perfectly square and perfect length.
Both ends require a cut (square off the top and cut extra off bottom).

So…desired height, subtract the column base…and the header…and the cap…and take a saw to your nice expensive column.

Heard the adage, “Measure twice, cut once?”

Well, it doesn’t apply here. It’s more like, “Measure thirty-seven times, calculate differences 42 times, make a mark, and repeat…till all results are the same 245 times in a row.”

Or something like that.

The math was actually pretty simple:

U + fucca + this + up = bigHonkin $$$

So…after measuring 842 times and doing the math at least…twice…it was time to take a hand-saw to my nice expensive piece of wood.

How confident am I? Well, I’m SO confident I actually cut the thing!

Of course, I only cut ONE of the things…there are THREE that should be this exact measurement.

Yeah, I’ll cut the other two AFTER I fit this one in place.

Chop chop! Weeee!

Harder than you'd think...whacking bits off that you know you can't put back on.

Harder than you’d think…whacking bits off that you know you can’t put back on.

You may recall a couple weeks ago I slathered the insides of these things in the blood of my enemies…or some nasty old oil paint that will outlast the next ice age…whichever is more politically correct…well, now it was time to prime the outside. The column maker calls for two to three coats of a premium exterior primer, and I only intend on replacing these once in my lifetime so two to three coats it is! I mean, I’d hate to die an early death and have the coroner’s report say something like, “Column failed. Heart stopped. Patient’s last words, ‘Oh HELL no!’

It’s actually kind of a pain…painting a cylinder…I elected to stuff a 2×4 through the middle and “hang” it on some sawhorses for easy access. Since I needed to paint the ends as well it was impractical to stand it up somewhere.

Kind of a pain, actually...painting a cylinder.

Kind of a pain, actually…painting a cylinder.

Between coats (drying time) I worked on boxing in the box beam that these columns support. I neglected to take pictures of this process, but suffice it to say, I took a piece of the “most expensive plywood ever” (3/4″ exterior grade, no voids, smooth one side), and subdivided it into the 13″ wide by 20ish foot long covering for the exterior of the box beam. This provides additional strength, and gets the covering to the thickness needed to match the existing details on the house. I then primed the exterior face and edges, and screwed it on up. I still need to fill the screw holes, add some trim and top coat the paint…but that’s coming after I get at least two of these columns in.

NOT a cheap chunk of plywood...turning it into "trim" makes my wallet hurt.

NOT a cheap chunk of plywood…turning it into “trim” makes my wallet hurt.

After several hours of chopping and priming and fretting and measuring stuff, it was time to install the column cap and base. Diligent squaring up of “stuffs” (again, kind of a pain on a cylinder), a coating of sealant, some carefully drilled pilot holes, and a few screws and taaDaaa! One column, ready for install.

Caps installed.

Caps installed.

And THAT…my friends, is a pain in the ass…ur…rather…it is a
*deep breath*
Custom length, double-oil-paint interior-coated, triple-primer exterior-coated 10″ tapered column…cap and base (also primered) installed and the whole thing ready for installation and a top coat of paint.

That is one solid pain in the ass...

That is one solid pain in the ass…

And there’s only 11 more to go…

Well…only five of those are new (so far). I think I can salvage the six columns immediately adjacent to the porch steps (there are three right together on each side of the stairs), but we’ll see. I expect salvaging the existing ones will be more work than prepping a new one!

Oh…and does it fit? Well, that’s a cliff-hanger isn’t it?

Tune in for our next exciting episode of, “This things gonna fit if I have to use explosives.”

Daniel Meyer

Posted in Carpentry/Structure, Front Porch | 1 Comment

Halloween was a success…

Heavy rain Friday kept us from decorating early, but the weather broke Saturday in time to get some of it done and have a nice Halloween night.

The spider in his web made his appearance of course:

Six foot spider. His web is woven from 100' of rope light.

Six foot spider. His web is woven from 150′ of rope light.

The web is woven from 150′ of rope light and is amazing at night…alas we were so busy with trick-or-treaters I never took any night time pictures this year. (some older ones here)

The cats were hanging out as usual. The crouching one turns his head at random intervals…this does seem to startle the little kids and a few of the adults.

These are 8 feet tall/long or so.

These are 8 feet tall/long or so.

And new this year…a dragon! He’s 12 or 13 feet tall and even flaps his wings!

Dragon in the yard. I ain't cleaning up after him!

Dragon in the yard. I ain’t cleaning up after him!

One little boy wouldn’t come in the yard…he was afraid of the dragon…his *little* sister tells him,
“That’s not a real dragon.”
“How do you know?” says the shaky little guy.
“If it was a *real* dragon it would have eaten YOU already!” as she laughs and gleefully runs up to get her candy.

Gotta love little sisters, right? (or put frogs in their hair!)

We also heavily decorated the porch…lots of glowing jack-o-lanterns, skulls, witches and such…oh…and the Medusa head that detects motion…her eyes glow red, her snakes wiggle, and she says things like, “Look into my eyes!” and such.

I’m thinking we had about 40 different things plugged in!

I again failed to take pictures of that stuff. Aw well, there’s always next year!

We had around 200 kids. Very polite, lots of great costumes. We saw tons of Ninja Turtles and at least as many Spider Mans (Men?) (not often ya need to pluralize a proper name…that happens to have a plural form when not used as a proper name…properly…or something like that)

Something over 50 pounds of candy and 150 real glow sticks were given away. The glow sticks ran out first, and the candy gave out at about 8:45pm (we are not stingy with it), so we shut it down.

I am a HUGE fan of the glow-sticks…we tried glow bracelets last year but they were dim and unsatisfying…so this year I sprang for real glow sticks…very bright and last for hours. They were a big hit and we could see them waving and wandering for blocks down the street. Very cool to get some light on those kids…cars and excited/hyper kids sometimes don’t mix well.

For us in attendance at the Old Vic, we then followed up with homemade chili and fresh homemade cornbread for a late dinner.

I even found me a busty pirate wench to drag off to my cave for the night!

A great night!

Posted in Miscellaneous, Yard | 1 Comment