email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oops, I Completely Forgot... post about the storage/cat room.  I KNOW I wrote about it, so I must have deleted it somehow...  Or I transported to an almost-identical alternate universe AGAIN and in THIS one I didnt post about it (This seems to happen a few times a year - LOL!).  ;)

Anyway, at least I intended to (see here at  Feb 16th Item 4), and I DID do the project on March 9th.  So here is the missing post...

When my parents stopped traveling, I sold the guest room furniture to make it a storage room.  But when I got my 3rd cat (Marley), I decided they all needed a playroom.  So I decided to combine the two ideas.  The long sold wall of the room would become storage and the rest a cat play room (The "Mewsroom").

I checked for the depth I needed for boxes, vacuum cleaners, the carpet cleaner, etc; located the wall studs that would accept those things.  Naturally, the nearest stud was 2" too narrow, so I had to move out to the next one.  That was more space than I really needed to store stuff, but I will probably appreciate it in the future (if I'm IN this dimension in the future).

So, the concept was to take about 2' of the room and hang drapes to make a storage space and make the rest of it a cat playroom.  I tried to find drapery rods that could bear the weight (I have some old but nice drapes), but rods are not designed to float 2' out from the walls and I didn't want to go into the stipple ceiling for vertical support.  I checked out a few other ideas at home stores.  But what I ended up with was a 1" iron pipe.

Now, the iron pipe comes in 10' length and the walls were 10' 3" apart.  Pipe couplings only add 1/2".  So I thought about that.  The 2 ideas I came up with were"

1. Attach 1.5" boards to the walls (1.5 plus 1.5 makes up the 3"), or
2. Hang the pipe from 3" corner braces

If I had used the boards, I would have have to fancy them up.  Plane them to size, sand them, chamfer corners, stain and finish them, etc.  I just didn't feel like doing all that.  Maybe I will next year.  I went with just hanging the pipe on corner braces.  Hey, I had other things to do, and the gardening projects can't be delayed at this time of year!

So, there I was deciding to hang drapes from a 1" pipe.  I decided that wouldn't work.  Drapery hooks don't slide over pipes.  But shower curtain rings do!  Which gave me a further idea.  Why not get some nice light outer shower curtains?

I attached the corner braces to the stud.  The board was there to hold the other end of the pipe.  I couldn't be at both ends. 
When I maneuvered the pipe onto both braces, there was enough movement for the pipe to slip off one.
So I added wood blocks on both to keep the pipe from moving.  I'll screw the wood in place one of these days...

Here is a clear picture of the shower curtain pattern.  Not to plain, not too busy, not too cute.
And the closet is looking better.

The lamp will be hung up soon.
Games I love, using some freed-up space!

Here are a few pictures of what I wanted to hide behind the curtains...

Here are some of what it looked like afterwards...
 That cats loved the changes...

Isn't that a nice curtain to hide stuff behind?

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I have my tomato seedlings started.  Plus peppers, celery, lettuces, and a bunch of flowers.  More to come fast on the schedule!

But it bothers me that my plant stand only has 2 bulbs over each shelf.  I use daylight and/or plant light bulbs in them, but it seems my seedlings are always "leggy" (long and thin).  So I decided to change to 4-bulb fixtures to increase the light the seedlings get.

The stand for the seedlings is an awkward size.  Prebuilt shelf systems are 4' long.  But the fixtures are a couple inches longer.  So I have to build one to suit the fixtures.  The important considerations were strength, cost, and ease of construction.  I'm fine with general carpentry, so I sketched and priced several designs...

1.  All plywood - I can make it all 1/2" or 3/4" plywood with a good sanded outside surface.  The "pro" is that it is all same size solid pieces.  Stainable.  Three easy 16" wide sides, top, bottom, and shelves per sheet.  And plywood is stable.  Cons:  Would need 1"x3" board attached to the shelves to resist bending under weight.  And lots of ugly (to a woodworker) plywood edges.

2.  1" board - 1" board frame and shelves.  Pro - Easy wood to handle and cut.  Stainable.  Easy to make dado cuts for solid shelves.  Cons - Have to join two 8" boards to get the 16" depth I need for the 4-bulb fixture on all pieces (sides, top, bottom and shelves).  I can do that and it would be strong, but that's a lot of extra work.  And dado cuts into 1" nominal boards have to be shallow.  Boards more likely to be "unperfectly straight" in all dimensions.

3.  2" board - 2" board frame and shelves.  Larger "glue and screw" edges.  More solid in appearance and actuality.  Little support needed.  No concern about shelves bending under weight. Dadoes can be deeper, so more solid.   2" Boards are usually straight.  Cons - Heavier and inelegant.  Wider dadoes needed.  Bulky-looking.

I considered combinations of 1", 2", and plywood cases and shelves, but didn't see any advantage, and the imagined results were practical but ugly.  The cost of all the above ideas turned out to be from $105 to $128 so the cost is not a concern.

I have decided to go with a solid 2" frame and shelf design.  True, I will have to join 8" boards at the edges, but I have a joiner edger machine and biscuits to attach them flush.  Not as easy as plywood or 1" boards, but stronger.  And something I will be happiest with in the long range.  Those 2" boards will never sag under the weight of the 4 fluorescent bulb fixtures!  I built a plant shelf once; I don't want to have to build another!

The shelves will be of graduated heights.  Shelf #1 is 3" below the lights, shelf #2 is 7", shelf #3 is 10", shelf #4 is 13", and shelf #5 is 16".  That lets me move the seedlings to only a couple inches away from the lamps as they grow.  And with 4 bulbs, much sturdier seedlings anyway!

Oh, and the existing 2 bulb fixture plant stand?    I bought 2 new 4 bulb fixtures.  That will take care of 2 shelves.  The 2 bulb fixtures on the old stand will be removed and doubled under the other shelves so there are 4 bulbs under each one.

The old stand is destined to be moved to the Mews Room to become a cat exploration area with cat-sized holed cut out randomly in the shelves...

Pictures to follow as I build the new plant shelves this week!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Eyeglass Fun, Part 3

Writing yesterday's post reminded me that I had had 2 pairs of the previous prescription and ruined one.  The frames had a tendency toward loose screws.  I brought the previous back to For Eyes several times for that (after searching the office carpet for lost screws at least twice).  They simply re-installed screws (Duh, I can do that).

I finally decided to epoxy the lenses to the frame and end the problem.  Now, I'm a reasonably "ept" repair person.  But I sure chose the wrong way to do it!  With my slightly shaky hands, attempting to apply epoxy inside the frame rims and then getting the lenses back in while also trying to tighten the frame scres, I botched it big time!  I had epoxy smears all over the lenses...

I contemplated the disaster.  It wasn't the frame, it was the simple little screw.  On the OTHER pair of glasses, I dabbed the tiniest bit of epoxy into the screw hole with a toothpick, tightened the screw and the problem was solved forever! 

Man, I can be stupid sometimes!!!

I will do that with the new frames as a pre-emptive measure...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eyeglass Fun, Part 2

Well, better news about the new eyeglasses today!  Previously, I mentioned how I had 3 botched appointments with the Dr at For Eyes.  I had exams there before and they were excellent.  But they seemed to have lost the ability to manage the appointment schedule (an estimated minimum 1.5 hour extra wait each time), so I went right around the corner ta another place.

THAT exam went just fine, but their frame selection was AWFUL!  All the frames were expensive designer types at ridiculous prices ($200+ for one frame, and I wanted two)  And being "designer frames", they were the size of postage stamps.  Sorry, I don't want to even SEE the frames when I wear them.

And I told them that when I went in for the exam.  It's why I didn't go there first to begin with!  So I got done with the exam, paid for it, and they wanted to say "bye-bye".  Wait, I need the prescription!

"Oh gosh, the Dr is with another patient now and you'll have to wait..  Um, wasn't it obvious I would want the prescription?  Probably, but they wouldn't get paid for that.

Revenge time:  I spent 10 minutes pacing rapidly around the waiting room.  That disturbed them.  Finally, a clerk came over and said they would have the prescription faxed to where ever I wanted.  Good!

So I went back to For Eyes, with the great selection, walked in, and said I want your 2-for-1 deal on these (showing them my current frame).  They had them at 2 for $109, great.  They got the prescription faxed, I paid and left.

I picked up the new glasses today.  They fitted them perfectly in 5 minutes and I was out of there!  They work great; I can read small print again, and the newspaper and computer are easy to see.

Too bad the good appointment scheduler at one place didn't work at the place with the good frame selection.  They'd all be rich.

But all's well that ends well (to coin a phrase, LOL) and I can now laugh about it.  Until next time...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Seedstarting Fun

Is there a rule in life that nothing can ever just go smoothly?  I ask because I went to start my garden seedlings a couple of days ago and it was harder than it should have been.

Now, maybe I am fussy about my seed-starting, but I have 40 years experience at it and I know what works best.  You start seeds indoors, and you want sterile, unfertilized non-crusting soil. That means something called "seed starting soil".  It is finely sifted, loose, and no fertilizer that encourages fungal growth to kill the seeds.

It was time to start my tomatoes, peppers, etc.  The home stores did not have seed-starting soil available!  What???

 They said the demand wasn't high at this time of year.  But THIS is the time to start seeds!  The garden-department guy just looked at me weirdly, like maybe I was a communist.  After visiting 2 other home stores, I went home defeated.

But I checked my supplies.  Seed-starting soil is milled moss, vermiculite (or perlite), and sand.  I had the first two, but no sand.  And I found a bag of potting soil with almost no fertilizer (0.07%).  I made my own!

The potting soil and the sphagnum moss had chunks of stuff in it.  I tried using a kitchen sieve, but it was too fine.  The kitty litter scoop on the other hand worked GREAT (cleaned and dried).  3 parts sifted potting soil, 1 part sifted sphagnum moss, and 1 part vermiculite, well stirred, and I was in business! 

The sifted-out stuff will go in the regular potting mix for houseplants and outdoors containers.  They won't mind the extra material at all.

So I have my heirloom tomatoes, hybrid bell peppers, broccoli, and various annual flowers going just fine now.   The tomatoes, etc are upstairs where it is warm to germinate best.  The flowers are in the basement where THEY germinate best, and the petunias (that need light to germinate are under artificial "daylight" lights. 

At least the new season is started!

I guess that, in the future, I will have to buy my seed-starting soil later this year for next year!  Glad I have a storage shed...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Eyeglass Fun

Well, the old eyeglasses have gotten weaker and scratched, so it was time to get replacements.  It started last Fall.  I went to the place that gave good service previously and arranged an exam appointment.  When I arrived, the Dr was three (30 minute) appointments behind.  So I cancelled and went home.  I'm not one to sit and wait.

In January, I made another appointment.  The Dr was again behind by three appointments.

Last week, I made an appointment for the first appointment of the day.  He can't be behind schedule then, right?  Wrong!  Some twit in the office made earlier appointments KNOWING he would be behind schedule from the start!

I walked out, went to the nearest other eye Dr and scheduled a new first appointment on condition that there COULD NOT BE earlier ones.  I was assured there would be no earlier ones.

And there weren't!  I had a thorough exam and even was shown pictures of my retina and blood vessels on a computer.  Mine are (fortunately) GREAT/PERFECT/YOUNG-LOOKING. 

I should mention I am farsighted and need only reading glasses for the computer and newspaper.  To those of you who need glasses all day, I AM truly grateful for my otherwise good vision.  Not like it is something I accomplished myself; I have to say I had good parental genes.

The Dr said I had no serious eye problems, but I AM getting older and "chit happens"...

I looked at the frame selection and was seriously disappointed.  All were small frames (the new fashion?) and ridiculously expensive celebrity-name brands costing $200 and up.  PFFT!  I told them I would have to take the prescription elsewhere.  So they knew that.

So it came time to pay.  No problem there, except they gave me a receipt for the eye exam and said, "well that's it".  Um, prescription please?  Stunned silence at the desk.  "You need a prescription?  Well the Dr is with a patient and it will be about 30 minutes".  Man, once they had all the money they were GOING to get from me, I ceased to exist.  After pacing around the small shop for 20 minutes, though, I guess I got annoying.  a clerk offerred that they could fax the prescription to where ever I choose a frame.  How kind of them...

5 minutes later, I was back at the original place, showed them my current eyeglasses (large enough so that I can't see the annoying frame), found the identical ones (two for $99), and told them to get a faxed prescription.   They did and I was out of there in 10 minutes.  The glasses won't be ready for a week, but that's is OK.

So one eyeglass place cant manage a schedule in three attempts but has great frame selection and is good about taking a prescription order, and the other is good about managing a scheduled appointment but has limited and expensive frames. 

A pox on all their houses!  Or maybe they should merge.