Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Home Stretch

It's been a long haul, and all we really need now is an operable sink. While Michelle, Chloe and Hazel were off to Block Island, it was non-stop floor finishing and cabinet assembly. The floor looks great. The oil and wax combination gave it just the right finish. It has a sheen but not too shiny, and it's smooth and easy to clean. For the first coat of wax I experimented with a wooly buffer attached to a drill. It shined the floor so it there was a touch of glare to it. Too shiny. I put on the second coat of wax as evenly as possible and didn't rub it at all after it dried. Just right. There was a minor incident during the oiling process, however. I applied the first coat with a old cloth diaper and rubbed it in as I went. After about a half hour, the directions say to rub off any execess that hasn't soaked in. After this first coat there wasn't much to remove. Both the oil and wax are Bioshield products. The oil is a blend of linseed and tung oil and some other natural ingredients. No thinner, though. No petroleum products. Zero VOC. For the second coat I decided to brush it on because the first application covered a lot more square footage than Bioshield estimated. (The typical application, though, is wood, not concrete and it's hard to tell the porosity of a concrete surface.) I started brushing it on a little too heavy and, as a result, had to go back and wipe off a significant amount of oil that was sitting on the surface. The one rag I'd used to wipe down the first application was quickly saturated. So I got a whole pile of worn out t-shirts to get the rest of the oil off the floor before it got gummy and hard to remove. Some of you out there may see where this is going at this point and are shaking your head in disbelief that I could be so stupid. As I continued to wipe down the floor I started to accumulate a pile of rags on the first tread of the stairs. Yes, it was a pile of OIL SOAKED RAGS! Then, thinking nothing of it, I went back to assembling kitchen cabinets in my little workshop on the porch. Hours passed. Maybe five or six. By then the floor was pretty dry; I could walk on it with clean bare feet without leaving a print. I was on my way up the stairs and I put my hand down on the pile of OIL SOAKED RAGS(!) and was more than a little surprised at the heat of it. When I peeled away into the middle of the pile I was even more surprised to see that it was smoking. I immediately picked up the whole pile and brought it outside and spread the rags out on the wet ground. Some of the rags had brown blotches. It was pretty clear that combustion was narrowly averted. Wow, close one. I think it would be an abuse of hyperbole to say that I almost burned down my new house. I almost caught the stairs on fire; that's true. But it don't think it would have gotten very far. How could I have done this when I knew it was possible and the warning on the can is pretty clear? Hard to say. I'd never experienced this before and had no idea that the reaction could take place so quickly. Additionally, I assumed, possibly incorrectly, that a product without a volatile additive like mineral spirits was less likely to combust. All's well that ends well; I learned my lesson.

I'm now at the tail end of kitchen assembly. Putting together Ikea cabinets is, on the whole, an enjoyable process. Yes, the instructions, without a word of guidance, only little drawings, can be maddening, but once you get the basic process down it's not so bad. The cabinets went together precisely. Ikea's manufacturing process must have some exact standards; everything fit together just so, and if I found something not working out, it was always my error in interpreting the pictures. The cabinet bodies are run of the mill birch veneer, but the doors are solid birch and the drawer hardware and hinges are fabulous. We're now waiting on the stone counter top. After I assembled the row of cabinets on either side of the sink, I took precise measurements and handed them over to Freshwater Stone and Brick. Hopefully, we'll have the cut pieces this coming week. Without the counter we have no sink, and until you have no sink it's hard to appreciate how vital a link it is in the everyday chain of events that surround eating. It's too bad that we're handicapped by sinklessness because the range is up and working and it's really nice. The butcher block is in place to either side of the range and it works well with the cabinets that make the island. All that's needed to finish the island is to raise up the section for bar stool seating. The plumber's got a good day of finishing up and connecting things when we're ready. Kitchen sink, dishwasher, toilet and bathroom sink will all happen at the same time.

Skunk news: He's still around. While everyone else was away, I cleared most of the remaining food out of the barn. One night, however, I forgot to keep a light on and play the radio in an effort to discourage him from just coming in and hanging out. Under cover of darkness and with a little peace and quiet, the skunk was able to break into the mini-fridge and devour a package of riblets. Left the bones in a pile. Of course, I didn't catch him with a mouthful of beef so I could be unfairly pinning this crime on an innocent skunk. His history of resourcefulness, however, makes him the most likely suspect.

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