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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

Post-weekend catching up

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Various and miscellaneous.

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Claire Wolfe

Don’t have much

Friday, July 24th, 2015

Sorry I don’t have much for you at the moment. Been a weird week. When not feeling inert (probably lack of sleep + gray weather) I’ve been busy beginning or resuming long-delayed spring projects.

Picked up another 75 pounds or so of broken glass and rusted metal from the lot across the street. Scrubbed stale cigarette scuzz out of Old Blue. Am gradually de-nailing, cleaning, and sanding 150 pieces of beadboard for my ceiling project.

It feels good coming to life again.

If I do too much my ankle reminds me to slow back down. And unfortunately the ankle’s idea of “too much” is still way less than the rest of me is ready to handle. (I’m ready to tackle that complicated ceiling; the ankle says it’s not getting on any kurflussed ladder for hours a day.) But we compromise.

My brain and body are full of summer.

Claire Wolfe


Monday, July 6th, 2015

A year ago I blogged about finding this future project at a garage sale.


I had to pay a whole $10 for it which in garage sale terms lies somewhere between scandalous extravagance and the threat of being kicked out of the Garage Sale Bargain Hunter’s League, but it looked to be 50s vintage (if not older) and its graceful shape gave me ideas.

Last year I decorated an end table I found in the woods with materials found around the house. It came out so pretty that Commentariat member Pat dubbed it “Doorway to the Sun.” And it won a blue ribbon at the county fair (awwwwwww). The next convert-a-table project would also be done only with housepaint samples and other materials already on hand, but different.

As soon as I brought this table home, I knew it would have a Modigliani-inspired face on its top. And beadwork. In nicely subdued colors, but maybe with a bright bangle or two.

I’s taken forever for me to get to it. Since spring, the stupid ankle and general lassitude have made it hard even to go out into my lumpy backyard and apply a sander.

But finally I’m feeling half decent. Yesterday a neighbor who works at the hardware store (isn’t that a nice convenience for a carless do-it-yourselfer?) brought me fresh sandpaper for the Mouse. And I found the Modigliani I wanted to draw inspiration from:


Now I’m at it. Feels good. I’m not going to copy that Modigliani. Just let it guide and inspire me. Mine probably won’t have the hand, for instance. (Modigliani could paint a hand that looks like a bunch of bananas and have the world swoon. I paint a hand that looks like a bunch of bananas and my high school art teacher’s ghost wafts out of his grave to haunt me.)


My other project is that landfill door. I started stripping paint from it shortly after bringing it home, but between several rainy weeks and the general PITA-ness of the last two months, I got no farther than the rough stripping. That neighborly pack of sandpaper will move that project along, too.

First, the new table (“Mo Inspiration”). Then door. By the time I’ve finished both, there might still be some space to do one of the smaller house projects I’d hoped to get to this year, the tearoff of the last, tiny, leaking, rotted, and utterly ill-conceived addition.

We shall see what the fates have to say about all this hopeful ambition.

But even the fates will probably let me show you some in-progress photos of “Mo” in a few days. (Except, of course, now that I’ve said that we can expect an afternoon plague of locusts, followed by several blood moons, accompanying 10 deadly pestilences, plus … well, you know how it goes.)


I started this post Sunday morning. It’s Sunday evening as I write this addition and — so far — no plagues. OR pestilences! Still a lot more time for blood moons to take over the project, though:



Claire Wolfe

Thursday links

Thursday, April 30th, 2015
Claire Wolfe

Further adventures in scrounging

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

It was free spring-cleaning day at the landfill and furrydoc guessed that I might have construction rubble to add to her truckload. (Gee, wonder what made her think a thing like that?)

So she came over, we loaded my demolition leftovers on top of hers, and off we went to the dump.

And there it was, right on the nearest heap:


The center pane had a crack across it that someone had patched with blue masking tape and cardboard from a Cheerios box. The wood has a few dings. But nothing a little Bondo or wood filler can’t handle. Rick at the local hardware store cuts glass and I even have glazing points hidden in some drawer or another. A little sanding and a coat of paint — and it’s done.

A cheerful young man who helped us unload said we were welcome to it. So I smashed out the broken pane and this cool old door followed me home.

Not sure where I’ll use it yet, but I’ll figure something out.

Just what I need: another project!

Claire Wolfe

Oh, you old house, you.

Monday, April 20th, 2015

House, you’re always providing me with lots of surprises dismay consternation cuss words entertainment.

Yesterday I moved left-over construction materials that had leaned against a “naked” corner of the house all winter. Once I got everything shifted away, I got distracted by the corner itself.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Beadboard scrounge

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

It’s been a year since I’ve scrounged anything good from the woods. Then it was the foundling end table (which got improved and which Commentariat member Pat eventually dubbed “Doorway to the Sun”).

This afternoon I brought home a small heap of equally unprepossessing but potentially useful stuff I found in a newly dumped trash heap. To wit:


This is tongue-and-groove beadboard from somebody’s old house. Depression-era, I’m guessing. Probably wainscotting from a kitchen or bathroom judging by the bits of ancient wallpaper clinging to it. This small amount isn’t enough for anything by itself, but I’ve got this ceiling project …

Last summer (you may recall all too personally, given that y’all were so involved), part of my roof collapsed. The fix involved cutting away large chunks of a beadboard ceiling. Which was bad because it was a lovely old ceiling. But which was good because working from inside made the roof fix relatively inexpensive. And which was also good because it gave me the opportunity to convert a formerly flat ceiling to a vaulted (well, slightly vaulted) one.

I just didn’t have enough interesting material to cover it. Could have drywalled it. But meh. And there was still a lot of beadboard left after the teardown, even if not enough beadboard.

Right now that ceiling is just bare rafters with insulation. Eventually I’ll turn it into a patchwork of the old beadboard, modern tongue-and-groove 1x6s, trim, and whatever the heck else might fit up there. The beadboard I picked up this afternoon is a different design than what I’ve already got and will enhance the patchwork effect. Remarkably, the tongues and grooves of all the different materials I’ve assembled fit together, too. Well, mostly. They will fit whether they want to or not. :-)

There’s probably more beadboard in the heap of construction rubble. I’ll go back and look later.

It infuriates that people dump construction leftovers in the woods. Aside from the blight on the landscape, the heaps are always full of rusty nails, sharp metal edges, and broken glass. I wonder if the creeps who use the forest as their personal landfill ever give a second’s thought to the excruciating death some animal might suffer, getting an infected wound from all those spiky protrusions.

The rubble heap this beadboard came from could have been left at the real landfill for about $7.50. But noooooo. Some cretin couldn’t be bothered.

If I ran the world, people who dumped dangerous junk in the woods would have to pick it up with their teeth. Serve ’em right. Still, for scroungers, there’s occasional gold in the rubble.

Claire Wolfe

Joel’s siding bleg

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

He’s asking for less, but can we make it $1,500 for Joel’s siding bleg?

You know how construction projects go. You think you’re looking at $700 and the next thing you know …

But anyhow, he’s also had some good news, with neighbors coming across with part of the supplies.

Claire Wolfe


Sunday, March 15th, 2015

I was very lucky in one feature of the old wreck of a house I bought back in ought-13. It has enormous, good-quality, double-pane windows, all installed within the last five or six years (PUD-subsidized specials, I’m sure; I’ve often had reason to believe those good windows are the only thing holding the entire structure together). And it has this one room whose sole purpose seems to be to enjoy those windows to the max.

It’s actually a dining room. It opens onto the kitchen and it had pantry shelves when I bought the place. But to me, it is a totally amazing sunroom. In this part of the country, having a sun room is a remarkable thing. We love sun! ‘Cause it’s so rare. Like diamonds, rubies, and honest politicians. So even if the temperature inside occasionally gets up to 90+ in the summer, I’m gloriously cheered because — Oh, look, for a change it’s TOO HOT!!! Isn’t that JUST AWESOME???


I was unlucky with this room in another way.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe

Rainy day musings

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Alrighty, then. Rain has now grabbed me by the scruff and tossed me and my projects firmly back into the house. So here I am, at the computer, and will try to catch up on blogitude in the next few days.

Actually, “rain” came Monday night in the form of one of those fogs so heavy it drips. The fog melted some of the outside work I’d done. Cedar boards are textury. They hold wet paint a long time in their woody little crannies. Even though I’d painted many hour earlier while the day was still sunny … eeew. Oh well.

Anyhow …

« Read the rest of this entry »

Claire Wolfe


Monday, March 9th, 2015

I’ve been outside the last few days. In the sunshine. Sweating. Sweating. In March. The world has turned upside-down, but by golly you will not catch me complaining. (Still sorry, you east coasters. I know that your ghastly winter has been All Our Fault.)

Been painting skirting on the house (no more piece-o-crap black plastic sheeting nailed around the foundation; the neighbors should love me!) and putting on the belly band between the skirting and the upper house. I’m hardly alone. The neighborhood is roaring with lawn mowers and at the lumberyard I’m in line with every contractor and handyman I know, all busy, months ahead of schedule.

So I’m a little slow on posting, but I haven’t forgotten you! We’re gradually moving back toward rain and that’ll bring me indoors to the computer soon enough.

Meantime I did manage to post a little something over at The Zelman Partisans. Nothing earth shattering, but there it is.

Also found this great Kevin Williamson article about that Great American Slime Mold, the Clinton family. Or, as Williamson puts it, “the penicillin-resistant syphilis of American politics.” Hey, whatever else they are, the Clintons are entertaining.

Claire Wolfe

Cleaning out the closets of the mind

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

When I moved into this house, nearly 18 months ago now, I didn’t have time to do it right. So many urgent things had to be done — and I’m talking bleach-the-mold-off-the-walls urgent, rip-entire-walls-out urgent, tear-off-rotted-rooms urgent — that many niceties got neglected. Boxes went unpacked. Stuff got stuffed … wherever.

Besides, after having lived small for 10 years (between Cabin Sweet Cabin and that crumbling fifth-wheel in the desert), I had just spent the previous three years in house with an attic, a basement, and a garage. This house … not so much.

Then there was the teeny, tiny problem of closets. This place had not a single one. Not. One. Closet.

« Read the rest of this entry »



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