New Garage Slab Has Been Poured!

The slab is down and the curing has begun. It is not laser flat – 1/8″ – 1/4″ variance in couple spots in the field, but the pad is smooth. I had the apron poured extra thick (8-9″) brush finished and control joints troweled in. I had a sprinkler on it for the 1st 24 hours and soaker hoses and a poly/burlap wrap was applied just after the slab control joints are cut yesterday morning.

I will let is cure for another 5 days and then apply a densifyer (Ashford) on top. Framing will start next Thursday or Friday. I am so exited that I feel like a pimply teen who just scored a playmate as a prom date!



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Continued Plumbing Woes…

As mentioned previously, no plumbing permit was pulled for the work in our house and we had to have the BRAND NEW concrete in the basement torn back so that the county inspector can view the pipes and witness a pressure test.  When the inspector arrived for the first try, he found 3 additional issues that the plumbing company (big company, one of the oldest in Seattle) had to address.  They ended up tearing up more concrete, part of our foundation wall and a 2′ section of my BRAND NEW AND FRESHLY PAINTED drywall!!  To add a little insult – I found an empty bottle of wine from a case we imported from France under the trash pile that the first and second crew used in our back yard.  Seriously, why would they leave the bottle?!  As a ‘Fuck You’..?!

I am unhappy and Stamps-With-Foot is livid.  The plumbing company GM came by and was really apologetic and assured us that we would get an update, directly from him, every day.  That hasn’t happened and we had no clue that the concrete was being re-poured until my floor re-finisher called and asked if it was OK that he let the concrete guys in.

The new concrete is super wonky and out of level – 1/2″ below the toilet flange and my tile guy wants $800 in addition to his original quote to lay extra floor leveler.  To rub salt in the wound, the plumbers sent us a bill for $36,000 dollars.  That is not a typo: $36K.  The original agreement was for $9200.00 BEFORE they screwed up.  I called the GM, sent him all the emails that had gone back and forth and he promised that he would get right back to me.  That was a week ago…

Super frustrating.  Out of the 7 contractors that have worked on our house remodel and garage build, the plumbing company is the ONLY one that we have had any issue with.  Everyone else to this point has been super easy to deal with, lived up to their contract, filed for and received permits, and were clear and concise when small issues came up.

I am not naming names – yet.  I am going to see what their next step is.  If they try to bill me for another dime, I won’t hesitate in publishing all the details, pictures, e-mails and text messages here on the interwebs – I get 34K hits to my site a week, so…  I will be having a long talk with the county concerning a fine request, use Angie’s List remediation, file a BBB complaint, file a WA State L&I claim, and then there is the Consumer Protection Division of the WA Attorney Generals office.   That should get things started at least.

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Film Friday – After work bike ride

Perfect early summer afternoon in Seattle and I spent an hour on my single-speed after work, trying to shed some winter pounds and prep for a memorial day 40 mile road race.  I linked up parts of the Interurban and Green River Trails.

The guy who almost tagged me around 4:22 in an engineer that works for another group. I sent him a copy of the clip and gave him a ration of good-natured sh!t for it.


New Floors! Reason #451 for me to have OCD

We are out of the house and living in the basement like quiet mice this week as our floors are being sanded and refinished.  I am both super-stoked and full of trepidation.  Let me explain:  I love my original oak and hemlock floors.  LOVE them!  They are beautiful and I want the entire world to see them shimmer in the sunlight.  However, I do not want them dirty or dented, or scratched, or even breathed on heavily.  That was before they were refinished…

With the new stain (DuraSeal Spice Brown) and 3 coats of hard Swedish Finish, our floors will look even more stunning and I will become a minor dictator of the hardwood – I know this will happen.  Woe be the young lady who steps inside the house with heeled shoes on and I almost feel sorry for the first electrician or plumber that comes in wearing muddy boots.

The plan was to get done with painting before we had the floors done, but contractor scheduling and a huge plumbing oops (more on that later), mean that with are 1/2 done with the painting and will continue as of next week.  The stain goes on today and they will have to cure until Sunday night.

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5/16/16 Update:

Here they are with the last coat on and dry. We are going to let them harden for a few more days before moving and furniture in and bringing in the paint ladders for finish up the last couple of rooms.

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Garage Build Update 5/10/16

My slab gets poured next Tuesday. All clear from the City for electric trench and slab forms. There were a few issues that I saw last week that needed to be adjusted: There was a rebar oops in the car lift footings that was a serious new-guy error, but instead of calling my contractor to bitch, if just fixed it. Sometimes you are only as good as your worst employee… I picked some rebar and a couple boxes of chairs, looped ties, and put a 12″OC grid down of 1/2′ rebar 3″ from the dirt in the footing hole on Friday evening after work.

I also lifted the existing rebar over the footing holes up with chairs so that it would all be the same level as the welded wire. Hanging it from the wire would force the wire down to the top of the visqueen, negating the use of the material in a large area. I took the extra chairs I had and added them to the welded wire field. I understand that it gets stomped down when they pour and walk the pour, but the trick for me is to limit the amount that stays down. It was $90.00 worth of material and a couple hours of my time and we can work it out as we move forward with the build. The minor details in the grand scheme.

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Jeep Trailer

I have been posting a LOT about our remodel and garage build in the last couple of months, so I thought I would mix it up and post something not remodel related – mostly not related…

Simple and unassailable fact:  A grown man needs access to a truck or a trailer.  Since our move back to Seattle from France, I haven’t really had either and have been visiting U-haul for my hauling/dumping/moving/logistic needs, but that is getting both tedious and expensive.  I finally bit the bullet and had a trailer made to match my CJ7 Jeep.  I had it built because there wasn’t one available retail that matched what all I wanted to do with it – remodel work, hauling heavy loads of dirt and lawn debris, moving, climbing base camp set up, camping, SCA events, hauling firewood, etc.  I also wanted a shorter and narrower trailer than the standard 5X8 utility trailer that you can find at the roadside truck and trailer dealers.  I wanted it to both look good with the Jeep and I plan on hauling it places that a bigger trailer would be a hindrance so I took the opportunity to have a little customization done to get exactly what I want.

The specs for the new trailer are as follows:

  1. 4X6 tube steel frame with extended tongue
  2. Wheel base to match the Jeep’s so that it will track in the same ruts off-road
  3. 6 lug 225 wheels with grease zerts right on the hub
  4. Steel load-bearing fenders
  5. More ground clearance than the Jeep for dodging stumps and rocks on trails
  6. Long lasting LED brake and running lights
  7. Spare tire mount
  8. Treated wood bed with 6 D-Ring tie downs
  9. 3500lb rated axle, so I can load this thing up with dirt or concrete
  10. Black hardened acrylic paint to match the Jeep
  11. Swing rear gate that is also removable
  12. Welded lip for ramp mounts
  13. Swinging front wheel jack
  14. High replaceable wood sides to match the lines on the jeep.
  15. I will be adding:
    1. Uni-strut interior rails on the sides and bed.
    2. A triangular tongue tool/storage box.
    3. Three Jerry can holders for gas and water on the outside.
    4. One propane bottle holder for the grill/heater when camping
    5. Load-bearing torsion box cover
    6. Removable rack for carrying sheet goods and lumber

I used it the first day I owned it to haul some granite and paint for the bathroom and it will be full of doors and windows on Friday.

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House Status and Plumbing Woes

We are making progress, abet slowly:

  1. My father-in-law came in this weekend and painted our bathroom and the trim.
  2. I have a new granite vanity top installed – one with the facets centered on the sink.
  3. New reproduction 1920’s glass handles are installed in the vanity.  I is not gud counter.  I bad at numbers.  Didn’t have enough – one short.  Store now sold out.  Amazon to the rescue.
  4. The drywall should completely done and sanded as of today.  The new arches are super sexy!
  5. I modified the kitchen knife rack to fit the new ceramic sharpener.  The original was broken by the asshat moving company and Kyocera doesn’t make that size anymore, so I had to drill out its assigned slot.  The replacement knives (also the movers…) are now in as well.
  6. Primer will go on the fresh walls tonight and tomorrow night.
  7. I have patched the hole in the tub surround and am waiting for the thin-set mortar to dry so that I can lay the tile.
  8. The new fireplace insert is in and fantastic.  I will do the new surround and mantel after the floors are refinished and as I am trimming out the Dining room Ceiling
  9. I met with the garage foundation crew on Monday to go over all the details and they start the ground work today.  I am almost giddy with excitement.
  10. My new dutch doors are ready and I will pick them up Friday
  11. The finish carpentry trim-out starts next Monday.
  12.  I learned yesterday afternoon that no plumbing permit was pulled and that we might have to demo the concrete in the basement – the new concrete – and the newly laid supply line so that the county inspector can view the pipes.  I am super unhappy and will update as I know more.
  13. We are now 4 weeks without a shower or bathroom sinks at the house. I have been a decent human being and fairly understanding up to this point with our plumbing company (big company, one of the oldest in Seattle). I am afraid that they have mistaken nice for weak and unwilling to have a confrontation.  That was a miscalculation.  Please refer to the Capone quote concerning kindness…
  14. My wife is still medium chipper and hasn’t threatened to leave me yet over the lack of a shower or all the dust, so that is something.
  15. The lavender out front is in bloom and the bees are back, so not all is lost.

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Productive weekend with Heavy Equipment – The Old Garage is Down!

Super Productive weekend!  The old garage came crashing down at about 9:00am on Saturday.  All it took was a little push with the forklift at the peak of the roof (I rented an extension boom forklift and a jack-hammer to assist with the garage and old slab destruction)  I didn’t take out any fences or cars, but one of our recycling cans took a beating.  Within 3 hours it was all loaded into a debris dumpster that I had dropped Friday morning.

The forklift was a little manky to start and keep running.  I would overload the hydraulics just a touch and instead of straining, it would die and take 3-5 minutes to restart.  The rental company was supposed to bring another one out, but we kept waiting and waiting and just making do as we whittled away at the slab and footing with the jackhammer and forks.  While the garage demo was a breeze, the slab was something else altogether.  It was super tough, full of quarter-sized aggregate, and 6 inches thick.  The footing was +16” deep.  I was impressed – I thought it was just some concrete poured over dirt like our basement slab.  Nope, this stuff was WAY overbuilt for the tiny carriage house.  I could had parked a tank on this thing and it would have been just fine.

With the slab about ¼ split and loaded into a second dumpster, the forklift finally died.  After a couple of calls, the rental company brought me a free 18000lb rated track-hoe with a bucket thumb and a pusher blade!!! That translated into an adult sized Tonka toy for my yard.  It was 5:30 or so by the time the track hoe was off loaded, so after demonstrating that I wouldn’t run it into a power pole, I parked it and work in the house a little.  I try to be a good neighbor and running heavy equipment while it is dinner time in a neighborhood does not endear you to others.

I was up and at it at 8:00 the next morning and the second piece of equipment was so sweet and made the tear out and load go so much faster than I expected! However, it is apparently not a normal occurrence to have a piece of heavy equipment spinning, grunting, working in my little neighborhood.  I one point I looked over and I have 5 neighbors standing in the shade of a neighbor’s garage, drinking beer and watching me demo.  When I took a potty break, one asked me if I could break something to make it more interesting.  Son of a…  They had gathered to watch me wreak havoc and as it did not ensue, were somewhat disappointed in me.

After five hours on the track hoe the garage, the whole slab, footings, three tree stumps, and four posts that were set in concrete were loaded and ready for transport.  All our water lines, fences, and overhead electrical lines were still intact so it was a successful second and final day of garage demo. My back yard is now a flat spot of dirt and is waiting for a new garage slab.

After playing in the yard for most of the day, Stamps-With-Foot and I went into Seattle and bought all the paint (Benjamin Moore only thank you very much) for the house interior and new fixtures and lights for the main floor bathroom and the laundry room sink.  I then cut and installed the new bathroom vanity on the main floor and did a little electrical work in the basement. It was then shower and night-night time, because I have a regular J-O-B to go to every morning.

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Story Time – A Small Remodeling Success

I am super proud of this door. It is original to our 1928 house and at some point in the last 88 years was removed from a closet or from somewhere in the basement and stuck in the rafters of the garage were it was covered in something near a ¼” layer of dust.

We built a stairwell to the attic and needed a door. I was all ready to source one at Second Use or Earth Wise, but at the last minute, I remembered this beauty and it was the perfect size (28″) I needed. For a jamb, I cut down one we had just pulled out of what is now the dining room. The door knob plate is a perfect match to the others in the house, which is awesome as it would have been impossible to find another one. I did source a vintage lock, brass strike plate, brass screws, and 1920’s glass knob at one of the local vintage building supply shops – both match what we already have all over the house perfectly.  The job to install the lock, attach the knob, and mortise in the strike plate took all of 30 minutes and in a year,  no one will ever know that the door hasn’t always been there or about its long dormant sleep in the top of the garage.

I am really happy to have this original piece of our home hanging there again. The trim went on to match the other doors and now just needs to be painted.  I will do so after painting the walls and with the rest of the trim in the room.

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House Remodel Status – 4/12/16

Things are moving along with the house and garage, abet very slowly.

  1. I cut the dying vine maple out of the back yard.  Its loss made both my wife and I sad – we loved that tree.  Part of it I saved for fire wood and part I gave to a local bowl turned I know so he could make beautiful stuff out of the sections that were free of rot.
  2. The new 1″ water supply line is in.
  3. Our basement slab was cut for the new basement bathroom and drains
  4. Concrete floor re-poured.
  5. I have demo’ed part of the basement ceiling, the front bedroom closet and a huge spot in the dining room for the plumbing company to run PexA supply lines and vent pipe.
  6. Plumbing rough-in is going on today and we may have a functioning toilet and kitchen sink by 5:00pm tonight – maybe…
  7. We haven’t had water for a week and have been staying in an air B&B, which has gotten old and expensive.
  8. Basement bathroom framing is going in tomorrow.
  9. The new 1st floor bathroom vanity is done and in place, but the holes in the granite top for one of the facets are cut wrong – it has made me a little crazy…
  10. I have cleared all the stuff out of the way in the back yard and am ready for dumpster deliveries.  I am taking the old garage out this coming weekend.
  11. The attic is ready for new floor joists, but still waiting on the engineer’s report to decide what is going in and options for the space.  We had wanted a Master Suite up there, but are not sure if it can be done at this point.
  12. Our fireplace insert goes in tomorrow and the new fireplace tools are already there.
  13. The three windows for the garage and two for the house are on order and should be here next week.  I just have to find a place to store them.

Some pictures of the current status and the latest progress:

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I haven’t had a day off in about three weeks – working my day job, making calls to contractors and supply companies at lunch and on the way to work/home, and working at the house at night and on weekends.  I have to work all this week getting ready for the garage demo and all weekend tearing it down.  It is all starting to take it toll on me.  I’ll get an evening off from remodel this week to attend my new advanced throwing (pottery) class, and will have a two evenings off next week while the drywall goes in, but will be back at it painting the entire weekend of the 23rd and every evening the rest of the week after.

My wife said a little something a few days ago that resonates: “Life is a journey an not the destination, but remodeling is all about the destination.  The journey sucks!” I swear if I had to make this decision again, I would have sold the house and bought a McMansion in Maple Valley or an updated mid-century rambler Bellevue and just moved right in in.  I have remodeled many homes in the past, but this one and the size/scope are both out of hand and way too ambitious for someone who has a day job.  When all is said and done, I do not want to touch a thing in or on the house for YEARS and would like to just enjoy home for a while, sit in the back yard and drink rosé in the summer sun with my wife.


A small personal note:

I don’t normally get super personal here, but this is a happy day and I am going to share.

1. We have been dealing with an insurance company who is in charge of covering a loss that happened during our move back to the States. We have had a claim that is almost 8 weeks old, moving slowly through their “process”. It is not for a small amount of money. I got a note today (after badgering them for two weeks with facts, data, and common sense) that they were going to send us an interim payment for 1/5 of the total claim while they continue to work through it all. I was happily shocked as they have up to this point been rife with fuckery.

2. We are are in the process of refinancing our house and taking a little equity cash out so that all of the unexpected repairs that have come up during the remodel don’t all continue to flow directly out of my now shallow pocket. I got a call that we have the green light to start the closing process, which means I will have a finished house and new garage/shop by summer.

3. I do not currently have ass cancer. I have been privately dealing with that real possibility for a couple of weeks and went to see a specialist/surgeon today. Apparently, I am fine and my plumbing is all good. I almost broke down and sobbed like a little bitch when I got the news.

Overall, it has been a very good day.

House Remodel Update – Mid-March 2016

All of the demolition work is now done and the rebuild has started. Electrical is moving along, the City inspector signed off on the new HVAC (there is a permit inspection for the basement still to come), and all of the rough work on the main floor is complete. The once scary attic is now clean and waiting for a reinforced floor and new spray foam insulation.  Some of the trim in the dining room and kitchen is done, specifically the cove/crown on the cabinets.  All the doors are now hung, and the Wainscoting in the new dining room is 90% up. I need to finish up around the double door and fill and prime/paint.

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Next steps:
Basement bathroom
Finish electrical
Camera system
New window install
Coffered Ceiling in Dining Room
Hutch built in the dining room vestibule
New security system (Hate ADT)
New drywall main floor
New main bathroom vanity
New Kitchen floor (both decision and install)
Finish trim out
balcony install
Attic floor install – pending engineering review
Attic and wine cave insulation – yes, we are that bourgeoisie
New basement door and back door – both will be dutch doors
Main floor hardwood floor refinish
Basement drywall finish and paint – pending city inspection
New carpet in Basement
Garage build

Still a Subaru Family

Stamps-With-Foot has some sort of internal need to be a Soccer Mom. She has been dreaming about owning a boxy Subaru Forester for years – since at least 2005 when we drove our friend Brauning’s Outback up the California coast and on to Oregon that summer. When passing a forester on the highway, she would smile and mentioned her admiration. It happened a LOT…

Fast-forward to 2016. We moved back to the US from France and Laurel needed a new ride. 1st choice, only choice, a red Subaru Forester. Off we went to the local Scooby Dealer and my sweet wife went into full Turkish carpet-seller mode. She bargained hard over two days, made them explain everything to her, and wrangled some free car washes. With the car she got the cargo rack, all weather floor mats (in addition ti the carpet ones), rear cargo rubber mat & cover, and heated seats. I think the sales guy just wanted her to leave and gave up the last bit in hopes it would make her stop trying to deal.

We took her new ride on a road trip to the Oregon Coast last weekend with five people and all their gear in it. It handled the hills, rain and wind like a champ and with the cargo box on top (same one we have had for 7 years) everyone’s stuff fit just fine.

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House Remodel Update – February 2016

Making lemonade out of lemons…  I have mentioned an issue we found with our house and how we had to tear out walls to fix things.  Well, we took the opportunity to do some long wanted remodeling since the place was already torn apart.  We are insulating the exterior walls, re-plumbing the whole house, re-wiring to remove the old knob&tube still left in the attic, remaking the Stairs of Doom into something that people won’t fall down, tearing out the 30% efficient oil heater and adding a heat-pump, adding attic access, making a dining room, putting in arched doorways, bringing in more light, and adding lots of period-appropriate detail.  Below are some of our in-progress updates after three weeks of demo, with the “WAS” pictures first.

The stairwell and chimney tear out – before and during:

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The 1942 oil heater removal – before and during:

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The back-bedroom transformation into the dining room – before and during:

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The Attic – Before and during:

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Making usable stuff with fire and dirt.

As an update to my original post about the pottery class that Stamps-With-Foot gave me for Christmas, I have made a bunch of little pots and am in the middle of firing and glazing them. Really unhappy with the red glaze that is available, but the milky white one is great, so I am doing the majority of the pots in that color.

I plan to make 8-10 coffee cups, a set of matching puppy water & food bowls, and a number of honey pots before the end of the 10 week course.  I have 4 coffee cups that have handles on them and that are drying now, waiting to be bisque fired. I’ll turn wooden lids and honey dippers for some of the cylinders and give them as Christmas and birthday gifts if they turn out well.

Progress thus far:

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Project built for my truck – the one I sold 2+ years ago…

So this post is a little bit delayed.  It has been sitting in my draft folder for almost three years.  It may be time to publish it…

My 2011 Nissan truck had a very cool really system for holding gear in the back of the truck: an extruded aluminum track along the side rails and two in the bottom of the bed.  They made sliding tie points for use on the rails that were great for some stuff, but I needed more to really strap a load down when hauling brush and debris to the dump.  I looked at buying more from Nissan, but they wanted >$200 for the set of 4.  No thank you!  I did what any engineer would do:  Designed my own and went into the machine shop and made a few prototypes out of aluminum scrap that was laying about.

I made one version with an offset bend for the side walls and the other with a 90 degree bend for use on the bed floor rails.  I might change the latter a little as I found that while a standard small ratchet strap or rope had no effect on it, if I used a large ratcheting load strap, I could bend it.

I also found that the rails were the exact same dimension as commercial uni-strut (standardized formed metal structural system used in electrical, plumbing and HVAC installations for structural support).  Parts are available at all the Big-Box home stores and I was able to pick up a bag of 10 threaded nut plates for ~$8.00 and 1/4″ hex-head bolts of various lengths for another $5.00.  The prototypes worked so well that I made more and with my hold down solution and the OEM tie points, I could haul anything I really wanted and make sure it was securely fastened:  Refrigerators, lumber, yard trimmings, fire wood, trash, you name it.

I added the side walls of a wooden shipping crate to my new truck bed system, bolted directly to the side rails using the uni-strut nut plates and then strapped over the whole load with 2″ straps.  I found the installation took me 15 minutes from start to finish and it made dump and material runs super simple.  It was even faster to remove and store in the garage so I didn’t drive around town like I worked for Sanford & Son.

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I sold the truck in December of 2013, but I kept the OEM Nissan tie points as well as the ones I made.  I will use them on my next truck, or possibly my next trailer.  I will just install uni-strut on the sides and on the deck and I will make it that much more useful.

What I Want Thursday – Febuary 2016 Edition

Below are the things that I really want and that are present for me today:

More time with my children and family.
I want to stick to my diet and workout schedule and not fall off the wagon and back into the cookie/café Mocha/lethargic/big-belly/back-hurting abyss.
For the house remodel to be done
For my Garage build to be 100% and my new lift and tools installed and waiting for me.
Growler or two from West Seattle Brewing Co.
Letters – written on actual paper – from my kids.
A longboard skateboard
I could stand a new Kindle
A handsome tweed vest – or two
Brown Redwing Engineer’s boots
Huge antique pattern lathe found in a barn or a PM4224 with all the add-ons.
A pair of 1/2 round and a pair of Snipe Bill molding planes
A 1.75 – 3Hp SawStop Table Saw
One fine compound sliding miter saw
>8″ joiner/planer
A Grizzly G0752 Benchtop Lathe and G0801 Vertical Mill

Our household goods have arrived from France!! Well some of our stuff made it…

We got a delivery date for our furniture at the end of January and it was delivered the 1st week of February.  Well, some of it showed up…  The day before it was to arrive at our door, the local delivery company called and said that there were some empty boxes.  Huh?  Specifically, a couple of empty wine crates.  Damn!!

All told, we are missing 3-ish cases of wine, some carpets (Stamps-With_Foot SUPER pissed about 1 of them), a box of books, an entire desk, a Ryobi drill/tool kit with batteries, a piece to an armoire, a bunch of hardware, a few pictures, a painting that is near and dear to my heart, a big blown glass wine jug, and various other bits and bobs.

The damage to the stuff that did make it though is staggering:  gouges, scratches, breaks, marred finish, broken legs, shattered cups and glasses, the whole works.  The guys moving and and unpacking were as shocked as we were and after opening one box, one of the guys took out his phone and sent the image inside to a coworker as he called me over.  It looked like bathroom cabinets were shaken into a single box, mixed around, a town thrown on top, and a toilet brush & plunger were packed i a box of bath towels…  Common sense is not a common virtue.

Our stuff was insured and now we are in the process of submitting a claim – what a joyful experience that is… but at the end of the day, we are safe and warm and my wife still cuddles with me.  All the rest is just stuff.

Below are some highlights of the damage and virtuoso packing skills that were on display:

Matt Talley_move damage_01 Matt Talley_move damage_08 Matt Talley_move damage_07 Matt Talley_move damage_06 Matt Talley_move damage_05 Matt Talley_move damage_04 Matt Talley_move damage_03 Matt Talley_move damage_02

2/24/2016 Update:

The company doing the shipping has stepped back, can give us ZERO detail about what happened in transit and we were refereed to their insurance company in the UK, who in turn has us working with a subcontractor adjustment firm. It looks like it will be August 2018 before this gets settled, but we have everything documented and noted, so it will get worked out eventually-ish.

If you want to hear God laugh, tell him what your plans are…

As mentioned a few weeks ago, we hit a snag on the garage build. Super frustrating. There is some stuff in the house that takes precident – they just have to happen and happen right now. Thankfully, we are in a place to take care of it, but my dream shop has been pushed a couple of months. That hasn’t stopped me from getting everything prepped though. I have completely cleared out my current GROP and moved all the innards into storage for the duration of our build/re-build. A few things like ladders and yard tools are left, but after giving away an entire trailer load of scrap lumber and plywood it is all open space. It hurts a little that the cleanest my garage shop has ever been is right before I tear it down to built a new one…

The other day, I had to do a little fiberglass repair on the Jeep top and swap out my floor-mounted headlight dimmer switch. Not super a fun/sexy mod, but taking the door off made it easy – ish. I will not be bright-lighting folks for my entire commute anymore. It was nice to have a dry spot to work during a Seattle winter. Also, this was the only time in 6+ years that a vehicle had been in it.

Matt Talley_ house remodel_2016_003

Matt Talley_ house remodel_2016_004





We had to start the house remodel before the garage and start in the rear bedroom (NW corner of the house). The interior walls had to come out to repair an issue(s). After we take care of the repairs, a new arch will lead into the kitchen, there will be a 4′ French door with a 12″ balcony looking out into the back yard, and we will have wainscoting up to 68″ and a coffered ceiling in what was the back bedroom and what will be the new dining room. Here are some shots before the full wall removal, some replacement studs and new headers.

Matt Talley_ house remodel_2016_001

Matt Talley_ house remodel_2016_002





The basement stairs are also in need of replacement and will be taken out and rebuilt next week. The new HVAC will go in the week after. It has been and will continue to be a test of our resolve and patience.

Another one has left the nest…

I sold my midi lathe last week. It was the last one of 3 and I am now lathe-less. It made me more than a little sad. We made such cool shiznit together, but I am making room for the new shop build where I will have a huge 3HP gap-bed pattern lathe with +26″ swing ad huge bed.  I won’t have a place to turn and have zero room left in storage.  It was time to let it go to a good home and get many more years of use.  That is a better life for a lathe then sitting is a dark storage room surrounded by boxes and plastic containers. It still makes me sad to both see it go and to not have another yet.

Matt Talley_Sold Lathe_01


Roman Holiday – my birthday 2015

My wife and I have destination birthdays.  She likes castles and I have a historical/cultural bucket list of places.  In 2015 she went to Neuschwanstein for her Birthday and I chose Rome for my birthday trip this year.

We spent 3 night and 4 days exploring the city: Ancient, medieval, and modern. Did some light shopping, saw amazing art & sculpture, ate, drank perfect coffee after perfect coffee, and had delicious wine. Our apartment was just steps from Vatican City and we spent an entire day touring its Museums, Sistine chapel and St. Peters. To say it was packed is an understatement of high degree. There were people EVERYWHERE.

Other sites visited included: Basilica Santa Maria, Trevi Fountain (under remodel), The Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, Villa Borghese & the villa gardens, Colosseum, Forum, the Pantheon, and small streets and piazzas throughout the city. We strolled along the banks of the Tiber, kissed in the shadow of the San Angelo Fortress, listened to street musicians, and had much gelato!

The small shops in and around the Trastevere district and pocket restaurants were probably our favorite. Laurel even had a fine pair of bespoke and bejeweled leather Roman sandals made one evening after we happened upon a small cobbler shoppe.

Below are a few pictures from our trip.





































Mid-month Update – Jan 2016

We have a LOT going on around La Maison du Talley and I have had 12 texts and e-mails about different stuff, so here is an overall update:

  1. We have our garage permit!!  I did a victory dance when our contractor sent me the mail.
  2. Building is on hold for a bit though as we have an issue inside the house that has to be dealt with before ANYTHING else.  Looks like it will not be cheap, but it has to happen right now.
  3. The old garage will be clear as of tomorrow and ready for demo, but that has to wait on the house as well.  Dammit!
  4. Still don’t have an HVAC contractor for the house – 2 that can’t do the work until summer, one that won’t send a written quote, one in the running, one contractor that sent me a quote that is for almost the same amount as the entire garage build & double the next closest bid, and another that I am on the fence about – mixed reviews, but good pricing.
  5. We finally had the new hot tub cover delivered and it is fantastic: light, ridged, perfect color…  Stamps-With-Foot is stoked.
  6. Finished the movie (shot with a GoPro) about our cross country jeep trip, but YouTube blocked the audio because I used a snip-it of Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile, which is uber verboten.  I will edit it for sound this weekend – maybe some rockin’ blues and re-post with links.
  7. Sticking to my workout schedule and wrist is 90%+ healed from the break.  My gym has hung heavy bags and I want to start smackin’ them, but will wait for wrist to heal 100%.
  8. Still chubby :-(
  9. Jeep is running great.  Front window seal is leaking a touch and need to unstick the odometer.  She will be getting an oil change and fluid check this weekend.
  10. The puppies/monsters are good, but they long for the Toulousian sunshine.
  11. I made three more bowls in pottery class and have decided to make matching food and water bowls for the puppies as my first project.
  12. My J-O-B is great.
  13. Really happy to be back in Seattle.
  14. Our furniture won’t be here until February.  Customs issues…
  15. Nana is good, her Seahawks are good. She wrangled 90 days of free HBO from Comcast, so she is happy.
  16. Stamps-With-Foot is happy to be going back to work.
  17. Looking forward to Date Night with my wife tonight at an awesome hole-in-wall Greek place in West Seattle.

Getting a new garage in 2016!!!

Woohoo!!  It looks like we are a go for a new garage and some needed updates to our heat, plumbing, and wiring at the house.  I am meeting our builder this weekend and passing him a check (two checks actually, one is for the City of Seattle permit office…) and I will have a real garage and wood-shop by spring.  I will have room for a big lathe, cabinet saws, wood storage , my joiners workbench, room to assemble projects/furniture, a real dust collection system, and all my planes/saws/chisels/hand tools on one side.  On the other side of the shop will be a mini-machine/fabrication shop with a two post lift, lathe, end mill, welder, mobile paint booth, and work table…

I cannot tell you how stoked I am!  Seriously, I am all giddy about it.  I plan to make cool stuff, descend into super-nerdy, and will be voiding the shit out of warranties!

Here are the prelim drawings that are being submitted and a lay out of the shop floor.

Garage floor 3 Garage Floor 1 copy Garage floor 2 copy


Drawings sent to the city. Cross your fingers and pray with me that Planning is having a good day/week/month and these babies get a stamp.



Serious Road Trippin’

The Ruminator and I just finished a 2900+ mile road trip in my 1986 CJ7 jeep – The Black Pearl. We drove from Little Rock, Arkansas to Seattle between Christmas and New Year. I thought it would be a nice father/son bonding trip or at least I would have him caged for a week to give his mother a respite.

After a two-day prep and checkout, we hit the road and drove right into monsoon rains then freezing temperatures. We crossed the Great Plains, filmed the whole trip on a GoPro, scaled the Rockies, drove over the Continental Divide, crossed the Cascades, suffered -17° bone chilling cold in Wyoming, had a frozen starter, black ice, 4 stitches in my forehead (whole other story…) snow, high wind, and a broken brake line coming down a mountain pass in Oregon. Nothing like bleeding a new brake line in a parking lot in 3° weather…

It was an adventure and we had a great time, even when everything didn’t go as planned. My 15 year old son was the DJ and I was the driver/chief mechanic. I will treasure the trip and the time with The Ruminator for all my days!

Jeep Road trip 2015_5Jeep Road trip 2015_6Jeep Road trip 2015_3Jeep Road trip 2015_4

Jeep Road trip 2015_1Jeep Road trip 2015_2




Jeep Road trip 2015_7