Memorial Day Ranch Battle


We arrived with the first warm weather (i.e. not snowing and freezing at night). The lilacs are still weeks away from bloom.


What’s wrong with this picture? Why is the toilet tank lid on the table? Where is the faucet for the sink? Why is there cardboard on the floor? Answer: I hired a plumber who converted everything to PEX pipe, and in doing so demonstrated the ranch law of unintended reciprocal breakage of critical items for any improvement.


Essential Man Pow-Wow with Bow-Wow. Plumber is gone and toilet is still dead (not my job). A feller could head to town and rent an industrial snake. So a feller did.


Bath is taken apart again, and beat with a snake till the walls need repainting and the floor needs refished; in the end the line was cleared 30 feet out into the yard.


Floor is sanded, room is vacumed and wiped down, walls repainted, then floor urethaned, sanded and re-urethaned. This all means staying friendly with the shovel and the hills behind the house for another day.


The Roto-saurus left whip marks on the walls as it would uncoil explosively back into the room. I had to re-thread the bolts for toilet flange after bending them back upright.


I ran hot water in the tub to help lube the system, and discovered that the head pressure for the heater is less than its drop pressure. This resulted in solving the mystery of why the tank’s heating element burns out so often. The solution has been discovered by an old Mr. Fixit working in the Great Falls ACE Hardware. It will be a science project.


The shop-vac and the orbital palm sander were from the same long ago art commission. The shop-vac is still kicking, but the orbital sander died in the line of duty. I pulled my old square sander out of retirement (luckily some of my out-to-pasture tools have made it to the ranch) and it did its best. Operating an old tool which is half the tool of a tool that dies in service can make a fellah feel old.


The battle of the commode was hard fought, and settling the environmental damage is part of the battle.


That can of Kilz has traveled 1800 miles to be a part of the triage.


A great battle was fought on this field. Danger takes a quiet moment of reflection on this Memorial Day weekend.


A fitting headstone for the rotosaurus, and a sign that visits to the hills bearing a lone shovel will be no longer.


Xandar claims the only quiet (and finished) room in the house. Plus, it has a heater.


Elizabeth and I tag-team on lawn mowing, finishing just in time for thunder and rain.


Stanley oversees the connection of the old stone footpath to the bridge.


Stanley, as foreman, is not as easily pleased as the laborer.


The new stones found their way from hillside washes into the pickup on the way up the road from returning the Roto-saurus.


This little job was a nice break from the frustrations of push-back from the cranky old house.




Under the fridge and the stove still needed a first layer of sealant, and 17 holes to nowhere filled under the stove ( four holes for the fridge).


Fridge footprint.


Four dowels to fill holes near the fridge.


Oven footprint covering 17 holes.


Holes doweled with glue and hammered or cut to flush with the floor.


Living room. Torn wood from last summer’s floor sanding needs wood filler. Store only has light colors, so after filling and sanding it will all need staining.


The orbital sander will finally die on this battle field.


You can’t try to be the World Police for all the issues of the floor, so Strategery is applied. Some conflicted areas can seem a proper place for your resources, but really any intervention there will only lead to greater conflict.


Minutaie v the long view.


Aftermath of sanding. The orbital sander is still with us, the shop vac is essential too.


Stain application for wood filler, as well as places the big floor sander wore down to bright wood.



Elizabeth sent me to bed and stayed up til 3am scrubbing with denatured alcohol and steel wool to remove the pervasive layer of blackened old finish. She lamented her hands, now turned to crone claws.


The room is vast and E is very very tiny. But persistent.


Do I look fat in these pants?


Danger struggles to mouth read a big word: Carcinogenic.


Zillions of hours of prep work is finished, starting way back last summer; battle gear is donned. Time to end it with a new beginning.


Stanley guards Xandar outside where things are safe for critters.


E assists by keeping the finish at my elbow and picking last minute specks from the floor.


Next time we come up we’ll have to deal with the footprint of the couch. never. quite. done.


The orbital sander died before prepping the kitchen, so it was up the retired square-sander to prep for this second thick layer.


I hope we didn’t forget anything in there…it takes 14 days to cure.


This may be better than having the house fumigated. Can you see the fumes?


Part of turning off the water is draining the line with hose that reaches far enough down the hill to siphon out the water tank.


Electricity is shut off, and water is off. Headlamp is on for the last trip into the basement.


Elizabeth takes this shot while contemplating shutting the door and rolling something heavy over it. Just a flash of an idea I’m sure…


Truck is loaded and ready to become slathered in 600 miles of insect splatter.


The rest is dedicated to our pretty yard in Salt Lake City, looking bright and cheerful the morning after getting home oh so late.









1 comment
  1. I believe you may have started a larger project than building a house from the ground up … the old ranch house may never stop “kicking back”!

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