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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Archive for the ‘Home improvement’ Category

Claire Wolfe

Catching up in the big world and my small one

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

Still sick. More than two weeks now. Whatever you do, don’t catch this thing.

It may also be that springtime is complicating matters. I don’t usually get hay fever, but Old Blue looks like Old Green every morning thanks to its daily dusting of yellow pollen, and I’m wondering whether things that normally wouldn’t bother me are affecting me now because my respiratory system is already sensitized by the virus.

Whatever this is, please don’t catch it.


I finally found a dose of OTC meds that knocks the symptoms down maybe 50% while only reducing me to stupid and dry-mouthed, no longer brain-dead. That’s something.

And today I trimmed out the back door, which means I can soon get down to one of the most pleasant of all DIY tasks, shingling the wall. Fun to do. Looks great almost from the first course. And I can pick the task up or put it down any time. My kind of job.


Meanwhile, out there in the big world …

Kit Lange (Perez) has a thoughtful piece on “Two tactics being used against you on social media.”

Books could be written on that topic. Investigative reporters could spend years plumbing the depths of how “they” — the ubergovernment and the deep govocracy, probably helped along by outfits like the Southern Poverty Hate Law Center — use our ‘Net postings to build dossiers on us. And how they use their postings on our fora and comment sections to provoke and undermine us. Kit’s only touching on a couple of things. But her points are well-taken.


This Vox essay on “The smug style of American liberalism” has been making the rounds.

IMHO, it’s overlong and repetitive. But it makes absolutely valid points about how “liberalism” became synonymous with snotty elitism and social justice pecksniffery (the very opposites of anything actually liberal, of course). Most salient point: The snottery was always there, but when the left abandoned the working class or the working class abandoned the left, nothing remained to hold the arrogance and contempt in check.

The “right” may have Donald Trump, but fundamentally the “left” is in a whole lot more perilous shape.

The most remarkable thing about the Vox piece is the source: Vox’s lefty credentials are as good as anybody’s.


Did you receive yesterday’s email alert from The Zelman Partisans? Two fine articles in it.

The first was a classic by MamaLiberty (a piece I’d have been proud to write myself). Check the original out here.

The second, a new one from the prolific Carl-Bear Bussjaeger, looks at the question of whether Obama could regulate firearms out of existence. Ha! You know the answer to that one, but Bear’s last line says it with a hammer blow.

I’m prepping this blog Monday night, before Bear’s piece posts to TZP. But it should be there at the top of the TZP blog by early a.m.


While the news is neither as good nor as dramatic as it sounds: A Colorado town’s entire police force resigns. (H/T MJR)


Finally, the 100 greatest Hollywood movie quotes of all time. I think they got it right on about 90 of them. Some of the 10 that just missed the list are better.

I don’t recall seeing one of my favorites, though. From The Wild One. A woman asks rampaging outlaw biker Marlon Brando, “What are you rebelling against?” He shrugs: “Whaddaya got?”

At least that’s how I remember it from when I was 14 and ready to rebel against whatever ya got.


Now it’s back off to my bed couch of pain many sneezes, with plans to rest up and be ready to nail shingles by the time you’re reading this.

Claire Wolfe

Sometimes you just have to laugh

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Yesterday The Wandering Monk came by to pry some lengths of 2×4 off the exterior walls of Ye Olde Wreck. They are among the last traces of the monstrous not-a-garage. I’ve never had any idea of their purpose. They had zero structural function. They were as far from decorative as could possibly be. The only use I could imagine for them was for hanging tools, but there was no sign they’d ever borne hooks or any other hanging devices.

They were just … 2x4s. Extremely long ones. Nailed high up on the walls.

It baffled me that I’d been unable to make headway prying them off myself. But since they were large and potentially dangerous if they crashed down from overhead, I figured I’d leave them to a pro.

Here’s the reason they were so hard to get down:


The nails on the left — some of them nearly 5″ long — were holding up those useless trim strips. Dozens of the things, pairs every couple of feet. This is only a sampling.

For contrast I give you nails of the size the geniuses who built my house used for crucial structual functions. On the right are 6d and 8d nails like those they used to attach both the enclosed porch and the entire back wing to the original one-room house. These are not the actual nails, which were all rusted and bent from the stresses of the house pulling apart around them. They’re just nails I keep on hand for light duty applications — like nailing up trim.

I don’t know when the cancerous not-a-garage was built. It was clearly a boozy afterthought. But the useless 2x4s the monk removed yesterday were true dimensional lumber, from back in the day when 2×4 really meant 2×4. That puts them solidly in the time when the original builder was still living there.

Somebody really had some amazingly whacky priorities.

Anyhow, now that the 2x4s are gone, the only remaining trace of the not-a-garage is 1/4″ fiberboard that covers the original tongue-and-groove siding. And those my prybar and I are more than capable of doing away with.

Claire Wolfe

I give up! No, I don’t. But sometimes I wish …

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

It started raining again Sunday evening. Just a soft, unserious, springlike shower, followed by a few more days of the same. But knowing it was coming, I put in several hours of outdoor work, then prepped for an indoor project.

Since there was not a lot I could do inside until The Wandering Monk arrived to help me drywall a ceiling, I wandered across the little one-lane road and tried to make more progress cleaning the empty lot that will someday, if all my plans and dreams come to fruition, contain a gravel path with steps down to a homemade pergola, a small picnic area, a few fruit trees, a firepit, and maybe some chickens or even a goat or two.

It’s a long way from most of that and I’m beginning to despair.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Mr. J.J. O’Shaughnessy leaves his itty-bitty mark on history

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Summer’s been with us all week (and that’s no April fooling). Aside from a little fog Monday morning, the weather’s been that ideal sort you don’t even have to think about. No worries about shivering or roasting or (thank the gods of the NorthWET) getting rained on. It’s just … what weather ought to be.

Everything smells good, too. Like spring. Well, some low-lying places in the woods smell like skunk cabbage. And skunk cabbage smells like you-know-what. But even that’s a welcome aroma; it say’s winter’s officially over.

In the warm, I’ve been hammering ceilings, beating rugs (lovely, messy, old-fashioned task), and bringing order to the chaos of the de-construction rubble heaps outside the back door.

While sorting rubble, I found something on the back of a door frame that The Wandering Monk tore out last month. I couldn’t get a decent picture of it, but it was one man’s tiny bit of immortality. In pencil (and in rather nice, flamboyant handwriting), somebody had scrawled “J.J. O’Shaughnessy” and the name of one of the nearby towns.

The signature was against a wall where no one would ever see it until the door was torn out or the house demolished, and possibly not even then unless they were looking carefully. I didn’t spot it until I was hammering apart several defunct door frames yesterday.

Off I went to the lumber yard to ask Rick, whose great-grandfather built the house, if that name meant anything to him. After 15 seconds of painful thought he got it: “J.J. O’Shaugnessy was a friend of my great-grandfather’s. They were both logging truck drivers. I remember he had his own truck with his name and a … what do you call it? … a shamrock on the door. Yeah, he helped build the house.”

I refrained from saying I don’t think I’d have signed my name to that particular work of art and asked if J.J. still has any descendants in the area.

All dead now, Rick thinks. He’s not sure whether the one O’Shaughnessy in town is related or not.

In any case, I’ve pounded all the nails out of the frame piece and I’ll hand it over to Rick as a memento. If he finds a proper O’Shaughnessy to give it to, all the better.

Me, I’m still looking for … oh, a sack of gold coins somebody might have stashed in the walls to save them from Mr. Roosevelt. Even a bit of old newspaper headlining the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the Lindbergh kidnapping would do. But so far, nothing but bugs and rot. And the proud signature of Mr. J.J. O’Shaughnessy, log-truck driver. To which he did not add a shamrock.

Claire Wolfe

I don’t always marry my first cousin, but when I do our house looks like …

Friday, March 25th, 2016

You’ve seen the improvements in my wreck of a house and indeed there’ve been many. I take pride in showing off pictures like this:


What I don’t often show you is how absolutely godawful some of it still looks. In some cases, it’s even worse than when I bought it, largely thanks to said improvements. Really, in some ways a tarpaper shack would be an improvement. I’m not kidding.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Great movie! Lousy weather. Life in general

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

Great movie! The Martian

Boy, have you guys seen The Martian? Holy cats!

I watched it on DVD a few days ago and was glad I didn’t see it on a big screen or, heaven forbid, in 3D. I’d have had a heart attack and not be here to write this at you.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

1965 boho chic

Monday, March 7th, 2016

Well, I’ve put up a trial version of my fake transom windows over the new bathroom door. I used matching garage-sale picture frames with “stained glass” cling film on their glass.

Currently they’re simply sitting on nails half-driven into the wall. Not permanently installed. Proof of concept and all. But so far, so good. They let a pleasant, muted light pass between the bathroom and the rest of the house and vice versa.

But they have this vibe of “broke bohemian college student ca. 1965″ about them. Long before cling film existed, college bohos managed to fake this same stained glass look. Plus they had tables made out of wooden cable reels. And … somewhere on the wall, inevitably, something from Picasso’s blue period. That bent old man playing the guitar, usually. Him.

And if not that, a bullfight poster. Preferably featuring that romantic young matador who got gored to death and died right in the pages of Life magazine.* What the heck was his name? Ah … Manolete.

(You can have “Paris at Midnight” in the 1920s if you want the bohemian big time. I give you San Jose State College, three blocks off frathouse row, with people who were soon to decree their abode a commune.)

Ahem. Anyhow, cheap, pre-hippie boho wasn’t quite the effect I was going for, but for now this will do.

Unfortunately I haven’t the skill or the camera to capture the effect in situ with light shining through into a dark room, but here’s a shot of the “windows” in the kitchen with meek and wimpy sun shining through them.


And while we’re on the subject of art, I just happened to look down into my kitchen sink one night last week and spotted this “dishwater art.” Couldn’t have designed that if I’d have tried.


More of substance tomorrow. Really.

Claire Wolfe

What I did on my Internet vacation

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

What I did on the first day of it, anyhow. On Saturday I turned this:


… into these.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Living space!

Saturday, January 30th, 2016

This is going to sound very silly to some of you smart guys, but I’ve never been up in the attic crawl space of this house. Reasons are complicated and I’ll probably go into them in some future BHM article. I knew generally what was up there, but until today I’d never even climbed a ladder, stuck my head through the cobwebby little hatch, and flashlighted around.

I didn’t go walkabout up there; just stayed on the ladder. But where I thought I’d find only unappealing but potentially useful storage space, I found this:


That peak is about nine feet up there, guys! And that’s the original main span of the house, so it’s a looooong room. Vertical sidewalls, too, albeit only about three-feet high (that’s the beginnings of cabinets and countertops). My brain dazzled, then got to work on ideas.

The only great big tricky thing: The stairway would have to come up right out of the living room. And that’s tough. A pull-down ladder won’t do because I’m thinking accessible living space, not seldom-visited storage.

Got some stairway ideas, but who knows yet if they’re good ones? Again I’ll keep the details for another time. Mainly I’m writing to say that I am stoked!

Laughing at myself for taking such an absurd long time to make this discovery. But stoked.

Claire Wolfe

A mega-scrounge project (not mine)

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

In the olden days, people around here built garages (or perhaps they were originally carriage houses) on steep, otherwise useless, hills. The front of the building faced the street while the rest of the structure stood on posts.

These great old garages had magnificent 4 x 12 treated floors you could have parked a tank on. But the combo of wooden understructures and unstable soils of the hills doomed the buildings. Ninety or a hundred years later, most of them are gone and those that remain look like this:


Until a couple weeks ago, this one was still completely shingled and there was stuff stored inside that nobody had touched in decades. I pass this sad old beauty every day. I tend to think of myself as a decent scrounger. But it never occurred to me to ask the owner if I could take it apart and haul its pieces away. Even if I’d had the thought, I’d probably immediately have concluded, “Too darned dangerous.”

Another neighbor wasn’t so chicken. She asked and it was given. I don’t know her well, but she’s a beautiful woman about 40 with impressive artistic abilities. Oh, the projects she’ll make from this!

She first emptied the contents, and now has begun prying off the shingles. Isn’t it cool how the formerly hidden parts of 100-year-old cedar (there on the mid-left side) remain fresh and red when the exposed parts long ago turned gray and grew layers of moss?

I admire that lady’s chutzpah for taking this on. Never mind that she’s got six kids and has recruited all but the youngest to help her; it’s still a daunting and dangerous task.

I might just have to ask her what it would take to buy that old floor from her when she gets down to it. Those ancient floors make great retaining walls and, cut up and set into a bed of sand, could become unusual and attractive patio blocks.

Claire Wolfe

Monday not links

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Various non-news, non-link musings follow

How other people see the ‘Net

So there I was last night, all set to prep a links post for today. And — boom! — down went Firefox, taking with it all my tabs.

Maybe the Intertubz is trying to tell me something, eh?

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

And speaking of free books …

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

BHM has a buy-one-get-one-free offer on any Backwoods Home anthology. Offer is good through Sunday at midnight.

NFI on my part, except the usual undying gratitude to the Duffys and the wonderful staff of BHM for keeping me writing and keeping the pups in kibble.



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