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high desert. small house.

Days 323-327: Polyurethane, Part I

Wednesday, 6/1
Happy June everybody.  The warm weather has already arrived.  Last week was hot and sleeping conditions at our rental apartment have been stuffy and too warm.  Just another reason to move into our new house…

  • Top of the list – NO MORE RENT
  • A shower environment that doesn’t cause rage – the shower curtain grabs you with its slimy body and the step-down out of the tub is high and dangerous (especially for me because I’m usually sans contacts or glasses).
  • Oh yeah, a better bathroom sink – the sink in the apartment bathroom is only 8″ across at the wide, diagonal point (it’s a corner sink).
  • Speaking of sinks, the kitchen sink in our apartment has separate hot and cold faucets, so you’re either burning your skin off or freezing.  Obviously, that won’t be the case at the house.
  • Having a temperature controlled space that allows the dogs to be comfortable and therefore not wake us up with panting.
  • Speaking of dogs – it’ll be nice to have immediate access to the outdoors for the times when they really need to use the bathroom.  Presently, it’s a real drag in the middle of the night when you have to get dressed, use a leash and walk across the street.  Often times it’s me doing it because Brian sleeps through everything.  So as I stand across the street, with car lights illuminating my diarrhea dog and nightgown (usually with rain boots) and I think to myself, “Maybe they’ll think it’s a dress.”
  • We’ll finally unpack and organize our lives.  Stuff that we haven’t touched since moving here will get sorted, sold, dumped or donated.

We recently received our 30 day maintenance warning on the Smart car.  We didn’t write about it last year because it was a little too raw at the time.  We referenced the drive and food on the way back from Albuquerque in this post.  Here’s the deal –

We are required as part of the lease agreement to bring the Smart car in for maintenance once a year.  This was easy in Connecticut when the dealership was a 15 minute drive away.  Less so here, where the nearest dealership is in Albuquerque, 5-6 hours from Silver City.  Last year at the requisite time, Smart USA, being open minded and generous, agreed to tow the car for us one way.  We were responsible for the return tow or we could go pick the car up.  We decided to go retrieve the car ourselves and use the return journey as an opportunity to “explore” New Mexico.  Here’s how it went last year –

We left after work on Saturday, dropped the dogs off in Las Cruces and arrived in ABQ sometime around 8pm.  We picked up the Smart car and headed back…however, instead of a solid 5-6 hours of driving, we had to drive for an hour, park and charge for 3-4 hours, drive for an hour, park and charge for 3-4 hours, etc.  We had predetermined stops at RV parks along the way (their 240 volt hookups are the fastest way to charge).

We did that all night Saturday and all day Sunday.  So yes, theoretically we slept some, but it was sitting up straight-ish in the car and for only 3ish hours at a time.  We scooped up the dogs at 4:45pm from Las Cruces, stopped in Deming to charge (and ate dinner at Adobe Deli) and finally rolled into Silver City around 7:30pm Sunday night.  Groceries and then bed…and then awake bright and early at 5am to get ready for work.

So you can see how disruptive such a trip is.  Anyway, we have to plan for one of those trips in the next 20 days, which means a big fat ZERO progress on the house for that weekend.

The day involved some cargo bike tinkering (did we mention we are trying one out?), the purchase of a better paint brush (you know, one that doesn’t leave its bristles behind in the polyurethane) and some polyurethane application.  Brian completed the first three rows on the east arched wall.  When I arrived with the dog team, I helped him move the mega scaffold into place for access to the fourth row.

Brush recommended by paint store. Something....

Brush recommended by paint store. 2.5″, angled end, tapered filaments.  Purportedly holds the most polyurethane or paint than anything else with the caveat that there may be more brush marks than with a softer brush.  Given that brush marks seems to disappear with our finish anyway, this seems like the fastest possible brush for us.

Poly on the bottom row and top right panel

Poly on the bottom row and top right panel

Lower two rows finished.

Lower two rows finished.

Quail sighting atop our pile of junk at the fence line.

Quail sighting atop our pile of junk at the fence line.  It looks more like a balancing woodland chicken.

Thursday, 6/2
We started the morning by not going to the gym and instead taking Sydney and the cargo bike out for a ride.  We wanted to see if she would run with us, essentially exercising herself and removing the need to walk her on slow, boring walks.  She much prefers to go all out, as we learned when we water skied her with the Smart car.

It was TOTALLY awesome.  This is the bike for us, so the search is over.  The Smart car will go back when the lease is up and the bike will handle our transportation and bean delivery needs.

With Brian pedaling and me sitting on the cargo rack, we dragged her to the college parking lot. Kidding....she was on a leash, nearly making us crash for the whole half mile, but she was definitely never behind us. We rode around the parking lot for a little while to test if Sydney would follow the bike without a leash on (she did awesome), rested for a short bit and then headed home, this time with her off leash and free to set her own pace. It was the most incredible morning in recent memory. We had fun with the bike, Sydney had a blast running her heart out and we all made it to work on time.

With Brian pedaling and me sitting on the cargo rack, we dragged Sydney to the college parking lot. Kidding….she was on a leash, nearly making us crash for the entire half mile distance, but she was definitely never behind us. We rode around the parking lot for a little while to test if Sydney would follow the bike without a leash on (she did awesome), rested for a short bit and then headed home, this time with her off leash and free to set her own pace. It was the most incredible morning in recent memory. We had fun with the bike, Sydney had a blast running her heart out and we all made it to work on time.

After our morning spin with Sydney, I left for work in the Fit and Brian rode the bike.  I arrived only two minutes ahead of him.  Not bad! [We’ll do a full write-up on the bike later.]

The route Brian took from the apartment to the shack.

The route Brian took from the apartment to the shack – Just about 2.5 miles and on residential streets until the last little bit.

Successful day at the house – Brian finished painting the poly on the final two rows of the west arched wall.  Our Varathane consumption seems on target at this point to finish the house.

We also heard back from the tilesman!!!!!  We discussed our schedules and he is going to be in touch late next week to pinpoint the install date.  He estimates it’ll take 3 days (and then he’ll return a few days later to seal the grout?) and will probably squeeze us in on the weekend.  So, it’s possible the tile will go down June 11-13, in which case we will need to keep the scaffold mostly assembled but suspended.  If he pushes us to the next weekend, June 18-20, then we’ll have time to allow the poly to cure, caulk the seams and disassemble the scaffold for good.

Brian used the hole saw to make an opening in this cottage cheese container. No need to purchase an expensive brush holder - make your own!

Brian used the hole saw to make an opening in this cottage cheese container. No need to purchase an expensive airtight ‘brush saver’ – make your own!

One row done, one to go.

One row done, one to go.

Friday, 6/3
Before work, we tried the Sydney exercise system again.  We were hoping her good behavior the day before was attributable to wanting to stay with the bike, not the novelty of the situation.  Turns out it was the novelty and that the good behavior was already on the free-fall by the second journey.  She ignored us twice to go after other dogs.  It all worked out okay but it’s too risky to allow her to do that.  We’ll have to figure something else out.

We started the day with some roasting and then a call to the Smart/Mercedes center in Albuquerque to schedule the tow in for maintenance.  They put us down for Tuesday, so we’ll have the tow truck pick it up on Monday.  I rode the bike to work today and it was a blast.

The goal for the day was to complete the higher up endcap areas AND the top two rows of the west arched wall.  The remaining areas will be accessible from the ladder and metal scaffold.

……….

At least we aim high, even if our objectives are sometimes too optimistic for a given time period.  Brian finished just the south endcap except for one half panel that will be accessible only once the mega scaffold is moved.  However, because he wasn’t able to move the scaffold without me, he decided not to stop with just the higher up area of the endcap – he completed the whole thing.  We left the scaffold where it was so that he could do the same for the north endcap on Saturday.

Something about vacuuming out the HRV.

The Lunos’ cleaning indicator light came on so we gave the filter a gentle once over with the help of the shop vac.  The hose was kept a few inches away from the filter to avoid ripping it out.

Taping off areas...

Taping off areas to avoid picking up rocks and sawdust in the brush.

HOT

From either picking up rocks and sawdust in the brush or high ambient temperature, today the polyurethane was determined to chunkify on the brush.  The chunks wouldn’t come off onto the wall very often but when they did Brian intercepted them with a paper towel.

2016-06-03 14.51.39

Half of the endcap done.

Saturday, 6/4
We had a number of errands to run after work and ended up arriving at the house later in the day than anticipated.  It was very hot and after a few minutes of discussion, we decided to take the evening off in preparation of our long day of Tucson driving.

We ran Sydney a little bit with the bike, gathered our returns and prepped the car.  The internet was down at the apartment for some reason, so it was incredibly easy to hit the sheets early at 8pm with our alarms set for 4:45am.

One of our errands was taking the bike to walmart to see which containers we could utilize as storage/transport bins. We ended up getting the ones that Brian is trying in this picture.

One of our errands was taking the bike to Whalemart to see which containers we could utilize as storage/transport bins. We ended up getting the ones that Brian is trying in this picture.  [Of course we wheeled our bike into the store!]

Sunday, 6/5
What an exciting day.  We left about 30 minutes later than planned but it worked out.  As Brian reminded me while we were heading down the mountain, “We’ll gain an hour once we cross into Arizona!”

It was already warming up when we crossed the state line.  We usually start to get hungry about halfway to Tucson and that puts us around Wilcox, AZ.  We tried the Subway once, McDonald’s the most recent trip and decided this trip to try the grocery.  Because we don’t eat a lot of carbs, it’s difficult to find enough food for a reasonable price at most fast food joints.  If you get a subway sandwich and throw away the bread, you’ll wish you had a second sandwich soon after…same with McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches.

My phone map program sent us on a wild goose chase to find the Safeway grocery store.  When we finally arrived, we found ourselves less than 0.25 miles from the freeway.  Wtf?  Our goose chase continued as we walked around the grocery store, completely unsure what to buy that would be easy to eat in the car and a good deal.

We first ended up with a packaged salami and a cut of gouda.  Total price – $16.  Seemed kind of crazy, especially since we’d be forced to eat it all since we had no refrigeration.  We tried the pre-packaged meat/cheese combo packs but found them lacking in size.  We made a great discovery when we found GIANT pre-made deli sandwiches with lettuce, cheese and three types of meat.  $7 and it had enough for both of us, even if we threw away the bread.

Giant sandwich - it's wider than my legs!

Giant sandwich – it’s wider than my legs!

Our circuit included –

  • Harbor Freight:  Returned one item but rejected on the other return due to being out of the 90 day return window
  • Home Depot:  Returned 2 extra outlet boxes and 3, 4’x4′ tri-ply panels and purchased tape for our seam caulking and paint work
  • Costco:  Returned some clothes and bought paper-goods
  • REI:  Checked out some of their bike gear and tried on some clothes

We had a pleasant drive back and arrived in Silver around 5pm.  We made our drop-offs at the shack and then went to the grocery store.  The weather at this point was becoming increasingly threatening but with only a 50% chance of rain at 6pm.  Just in case, we dashed home, grabbed the dogs and took them to the property.  Unfortunately, we had forgotten to thaw their meat that day so no dinner for doggoes.  It worked out, though, because the car had only been parked for 30 seconds when the first boom of thunder sounded, sending Sydney immediately back into her car crate.  (She won’t eat dinner when there’s thunder.)  Trooper meandered about for 2 minutes but his outdoor time was cut short when the wind seemed to change direction and the massive rain body started to head our way.

Is it monsoon season already?

With dog team loaded back up, we took both cars to the shack so we could have the Smart car on hand for its pickup on Monday.  The sky opened up while we were en route and a huge rain storm did its chaos trick.  The roads were B.A.D.  Climbing hills was an actual challenge, with water rushing down the road, reducing traction and rain falling so fast the wipers couldn’t keep up.  The low parts of the road had nearly a foot of moving water with more coming.

The rain is exciting here….not ‘exciting’ as in watching an action movie while pumping popcorn into one’s mouth, completely safe in the squishy depth of the movie theater seat.  ‘Exciting’ as in it shakes you out of the routine stupor that you’ve coasted into when not paying attention and/or not incorporating enough change and liveliness into your life.  It’s good to have a driving challenge and it’s good to find oneself in moments of genuine awe.

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