Archive | September, 2011

Chimney Flashing Roof Repair

September 30, 2011

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It’s all Hurricane Irene’s fault. And Hurricane Lee’s fault.

During the torrential rains, my son reported dirty brown dripping water coming from the attic hatch located in his room.


I hate roof leaks. It means going into The Attic (insert creepy organ music) and scuffling around the giant fluffs of dirty cellulose insulation and suffocating bat dung. *groan*

Well, we didn’t have to go far into The Attic (insert creepy organ music). As soon as we popped the hatch, we saw that the chimney was crying wet. Most likely, the flashing. Which meant that the husband would have to go clambering atop the roof to see what was up.

Our roof is scary. It’s steeply pitched and it’s a long drop down. I always freak out when he goes up there. What I want to do is run away to the store or the movies where I can not think about him being up there. What I wind up doing is balancing the ladder and biting my nails as he skitters across the shingles. He’s never fallen– never even slipped (as far as I know), but he did lose grip of a Shop Vac one time…. oh, that was an event to remember. We laid that poor thing to rest.

Anyway, yesterday, he went up to see what’s up with the flashing. Our roof is 15 years old so I can’t say we were very optimistic. The shingles are, surprisingly, in very good shape for their age. The flashing…. not. The husband reported that it appears that the roofers had “cobbed” together bits and pieces of aluminum, stuffed them beside the chimney and slathered them with caulk (which has since eroded). That probably explains the water damage in the son’s bedroom closet….

So he came down and we did a little investigation online about chimney flashing. I’ve done roofing jobs as a kid and installing a roof is actually not too difficult. But the flashing requires a lot of skill. You can’t just slather caulk on the seams and expect it to last very long. After a half-hour of slogging through boring chimney repair websites and unhelpful videos, we found this video about elastomeric paste. This stuff looks good!

I think this may solve our problem, at least until we eventually get the roof redone and the chimney removed (We no longer need the chimney since getting direct vent appliances). The husband went to the Big Box retail stores and guess what— SOLD OUT! Everywhere! Looks like everyone is slopping this goop onto their Irene-stricken and Hurricane Lee-battered chimneys.

So he wrapped the chimney in a tarp. Did a good job. I’m thankful he used the green tarp instead of the fluorescent blue one.

If I ever get the chance to take a little break from my job and build my own house– NO CHIMNEYS! I’m sure in their heyday they were a marvel of modern Stone Age technology. But in a rainy (constantly rainy) climate, they really stink. The era of the chimney is over, as far as I’m concerned.

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Domestic Cat Climbs Blue Mountain

September 27, 2011


I wonder if Livvy is the first cat to ever climb Blue Mountain, in the Adirondack Mountain range of New York State? Our climb was quite the adventure! The mountain rises about 3700 feet into the atmosphere, and the views are incredible. The climb, however, is rather laborious. Livvy could only get so far.

Livvy Climbing 1

She wanted to stop constantly, to smell the balsam fir and ferns. These were new smells for her.

Livvy Climbing 2

Some of the trails were pretty rough.

Livvy Climbing 3

After over 2 hours of hiking (and being carried in a cat carrier some of the way), Livvy stopped. She was probably 20 minutes from the summit, but the climbing was very intense and I didn’t feel comfortable hauling her carrier up such a steep incline (and back down again). I was afraid one of the guys would slip and Livvy would go tumbling down the incline. Also, Livvy had had very little water and I didn’t want her to continue climbing. So we stayed put on the trail and waited while the family reached the peak.

We Quit

While we waited, several other groups of climbers passed us by. Each one of them exclaimed about Livvy— “Well, that’s a new thing!” ‘OH, what a beautiful cat!” Livvy got lots of attention. I really think she may be the first domestic cat up Blue Mountain! šŸ˜€ It was good to get away from home, away from the hustle and bustle of work and the city and news about the economy and all that stuff. Livvy ABSOLUTELY LOVED the Adirondacks. We came home a week later, and she was disappointed—- I think she thought we were going to live there! Ah, if only!

If you want to read more about our climb and see some spectacular photos of the views from the summit, you can read my article about our adventure, on my New York Travel blog.

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Find the Forest Kitty 9/23

September 23, 2011


We’re back! We were gone for a week in the Adirondack Mountains in Upstate New York! The Adirondacks is the largest park in the country. It’s 6 million acres of mountains, lakes and thick forests. In the northern parts, it’s pretty rugged. I was going to leave Livvy to fend for herself alone at home while we were gone, but at the last minute, we decided to bring her. I am so glad we did! She had a blast and was a very good kitty. Can you find the kitty?

FTK 9.23.11

She had quite a few adventures, and so did we! I’ll have more about that to come. But I think she just MAY be the first domestic kitty to climb a certain mountain! LOL Happy weekend, friends.

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Find the Kitty Friday 9/16

September 15, 2011


She’s always ready to help. šŸ™‚


We’ve had a big problem with mildew this year, thanks to the uber-abundant rain, two hurricanes and humidity. My poor furniture is suffering, and I can’t seem to keep the mildew away. Lots of other folks have been having the same problem. And I saw just yesterday that some gardeners are now dealing with late-season blight that’s striking tomatoes and potatoes again. Ugh, when will the wetness ever end.

Anyway, while we clean Livvy gets to have fun. And that’s always important, isn’t it? šŸ˜€ Today she was so cute– I got a big box in the mail and before we could even open it, she was all over the box in curiosity. She’s such a doll, so curious and innocent. I love this baby. The box contained my new lasagna pan! I’ve been using a 13×9 inch pan and… let’s just say you can’t make good lasagna with such a tiny pan. I got a honking monster, stainless steel and everything. Gonna make a whopper apple crisp in it, too!

So how are you doing this fall? Do you do any fall cleaning? Cooking? šŸ˜€ Have a great weekend, friends!

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How to Clear a Clogged Drain Without Chemicals

September 13, 2011

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Those magical drain chemicals lauded on television aren’t all they are cracked up to be. When I got my first clog here at the old homestead, I used drain cleaners. Clogs in old plumbing can be pretty intense, and the clogs were never relieved after waiting only a few minutes, as per the chemical’s instructions. Instructions notwithstanding, I did it again and waited longer. Bah. Didn’t really work.
Hanging drainpipe
I didn’t know the damage that the chemicals could do until one day the husband went to look at a pipe under the sink. When he touched the chrome “S” trap, it fell to pieces in his hands. :-O The drain chemicals had eaten through the pipe.

I never use chemicals anymore. Folks with septic systems should never use chemicals, as the chemicals will disrupt the septic tank processes and perhaps harm the environment.

I’ve had very good success with my own physical techniques. Sure, they are messy and some of them are not for folks with weak stomachs… but my plumbing is intact. And I have a very weak stomach when it comes to plumber’s bills.

Baking Soda and Vinegar
I usually use this technique for the kitchen sink downstairs. I dump a healthy serving of baking soda down the drain. I then add a cup or two of vinegar. The base of the baking soda combined with the acid of the vinegar produce a chemical reaction– bubbling and mildly explosive. I press my hand over the drain to force the chemical reaction down the drain. For mild clogs, this often works.

The Manual Method
Believe it or not, many times I can unclog a bathroom sink by fishing around inside the drain. I have an old rat-tail comb that I reserve for this purpose. Bathroom sinks are more prone to get clogged with hair, floss, and soap scum. I stick the comb into the drain and fish the debris out. Then, I flush the drain with very hot water.

The Plunger
Not just for sluggish toilets, the toilet plunger works perfectly for the bathtub drain. Run a little bit of water into the tub to create a small pool of water. Place the plunger over the drain and chug down a few times. If the plunger wheezes and air sputters out, there is not enough water in the tub to create an air-tight pressure. I fill the tub a bit more and repeat the process. I’ve been doing this for a few years and it always fixes the clogged drain.

The snake.

The Auger
Also called the “snake,” I break out the plumber augers for the big dogs. There are several different kind of augers, and you should really use a certain one for a certain job. There’s the basic snake, a mere cable of just a few feet. This is good for small bathroom sinks. Then there’s the large auger, with a hefty metal or plastic bowl-shaped housing. I use this for big jobs like waste line cleanouts or big clogs in the bathtub drain.

The manual auger.

Finally, there’s the closet auger, which looks like a stiff whip. It’s a long pole with a handle. You insert the end of the pole into the toilet bowl. The end of the pole has a plastic end to protect the porcelain from scratches from the metal cable. I once had a serious toilet clog when one of the kids accidentally flushed a washcloth down the toilet. Back then, I didn’t know what to do except call my local plumber. He showed up with the closet auger, stirred things around for about 5 minutes, and charged me $100 for the visit. While some plumbers would have charged more, it was a hefty fine for a wayward washcloth.

Here’s a great video I found on how to use a closet auger.

An Ounce of Prevention…
As always, an ounce of prevention is worth that proverbial pound of cure. Old timers claim that one sure-fire way to prevent clogs is to dump scalding hot vinegar down the drains once a month. That sounds like it would work– the vinegar and hot water would clear any residual grease and soap scum, yep. But I have half a dozen drains…. I’d have to gallivant throughout the house doing this every week?!

My own preventative measures include the following:

  • Always pick up stray hair after combing your hair.
  • Never NEVER never dump grease down the drain.
  • Never dump paint or other congealing liquids down the drains.
  • NEVER NEVER NEVER dump food or bones down the drains.
  • Be vigilant about what goes down the toilets. No paper towels, baby wipes, etc.

A monthly treatment of vinegar and baking soda helps, too.

Who knew plumbing could be SO interesting! Thanks for reading. šŸ™‚ Hope this helps!

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I’d Say They’re Smart!

September 11, 2011

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Funny Captions - Did you know that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish?

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Find the Kitty Friday 9/9

September 9, 2011


We’ve been chipping away, little by little, at the spring cleaning chores I never finished. šŸ˜ Livvy always like to lend a paw.



Happy weekend!

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Collective Groanings from Central NY

September 8, 2011


What is it with our region lately? We’re being targeted with rain. Stupid hurricanes.

Yeah, we got more rain, more flooding. We only just swept Hurricane Irene out of our homes and basements and roads. Tropical Storm Lee decided to take the highway straight up from the south. Look at that line. Crazy! In case you didn’t know, I’m smack dab in the center of Upstate NY, right where that yellow-glob is.

That is a satellite photo taken at around 10pm last night.

I’m not sure how much rain we’ve had. It’s been raining straight– fishhooks and hammer handles– since early Wednesday morning. The weathermen said yesterday that we’d probably see upwards of 4 inches. But when I checked a rain barrel last night, when we were only halfway through the storm, it was 4 inches.

This is the new satellite photo, taken at about 8am today. I can’t believe this thing, it’s a monster with more energy than a 2-year old. It just keeps churning and churning.

Sorry if I am a bit incoherent. We were up a good portion of the night. One of our 3 sump pumps gave up the ghost, and the husband had to run to Home Depot (who stayed open all night on account of the emergencies) and re-pipe a new pump. Unfortunately, it’s a smaller horsepower pump, so the water in the basement isn’t going down as quickly as we’d like. At least the yard flooding has slowed.According to the satellite, though, we’ve got another day of this, probably.

My neighbors just 15 miles north of me have it bad. Neighborhoods have been evacuated– emergency teams have had to call in hovercrafts and boats. Schools are closed on their second day of school today. And the fire sirens just keep sounding. It’s unreal.

In the county next to me, reports are “flooding” in of schools filled with water. Cobleskill college had a foot of water in the dorms, with muddy waterfalls flowing down the stairs. Another neighbor had 4 feet of water in his basement. And of course, some folks’ homes have been inundated.

I know these things happen all over the world, and Louisiana is suffering from massive flooding, too. But here in Central NY, the biggest weather events we get is snow. We don’t get constant streams of hurricanes and tornadoes and earthquakes (all of which we have had in the past 3 weeks). Our infrastructure isn’t prepared for it. We’ve had five “100-year floods” in 5 years. That’s just….. nutty. Yeah, I’m frustrated. What’s worse is that states like Texas need all this rain much more than we do. I wish I could send it over, I really do. Oh well. It’s the weather. Thank God we’re still doing OK even though the losses are bad. And I’ve seen God make lemonade out of lemons with stuff like this. I just need to keep reminding myself of that while I watch the waters rise.

I will be getting a canoe, though. Seriously.

When I was a girl, we suffered a lot of rain one year. That year was actually a record-breaker for Central NY, our year of the most rainfall in 12 months. I canoed in my front yard during that time. Boy, it was fun!

Well, I think we have surpassed that old record of rainfall. And I realized that my kids don’t know how to operate a canoe. They need to learn. No time like the present. LOL.

I seem to be talking about the weather a lot on this blog lately. Sorry. I wish I could talk about my latest renovation project or something. But yikes, we can’t seem to get a hammer in edgewise with all this rain. ALL YEAR LONG.

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Find the Kitty Friday: What’s Mine Is Mine…

September 2, 2011


…and what’s yours is mine, too.

Livvy Milk

Livvy! I was going to drink that! šŸ˜

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Summer Is Over

September 1, 2011


…and how do I know that?

Why the stink in the dog room is starting to subside.

A little.

But aren’t they the cutest little things?


We’ve been doing a little experiment with Smell Control. So far, the best cleanser is bleach and the best deodorant is Linen Febreze. The Febreze is intended for clothing and furniture and the like; I use it to spray the curtains and couch. For the air, we all prefer the Thai Dragon Fruit scent. It’s sweet but not overpowering. And it’s WAY better than the smell of those little tootsie rolls the dogs leave behind. :-p

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