My wife seems to have a thing for chainsaws. She’s never run one, but I used one regularly in my youth. I grew up with a wood stove to heat the house, and a chainsaw was a normal thing for me. But I’ve never seen the need to have one since. Yet, it somehow became a hot topic once we began our search for a house.

The new house has a large yard with lots of trees, which is one reason we purchased it. Our basic requirements were simple: an old house with a big yard and trees. We love trees and shade and squirrels. The house is a hundred years old, and several of the trees may be that old or more.

Shortly after moving in, I noticed that the large locust tree next to the house was beginning to show its age and would need to be removed within the next five years. I was hoping to get a little time before I really needed to address it. However, over the summer, we had a few severe storms that knocked off several large limbs. Luckily there was no damage to the house, though it was a close call. The tree is nearly four feet wide at the base and probably 60 feet tall. For most of a hundred years, it has provided the house with shade, and I hate to see it go. But now, most of the top limbs are missing or damaged and dying.

The Old Locust

Which has brought the topic of a chainsaw back to the fore. Yes, we have trees now, but I had no intention of trimming them myself. Even though we have a fireplace, I had every intention of buying pre-cut wood for it. We live in St Louis, in the city; I saw no need for a chainsaw.

Shortly after moving in, my stepson brought me a $2 chainsaw he’d purchased at a garage sale. He is not mechanically inclined but figured I could get it running. He was right. I am very familiar with chainsaws and their repair. For $10, I was able to get the little junker running, just in time to cut up a couple limbs that fell next to the house. It took all of fifteen minutes to cut and clean up.

Then a couple of weeks ago, we got hit by another doozy of a storm. It threw down one of the trees in the empty yard behind us. The falling tree tore out several of my honeysuckle bushes and damaged some other trees. The most significant limb was probably 20 inches thick. That is a good-sized tree.

I pulled out my repaired and newly sharpened chainsaw and set out to get the job done. However, three cuts into the project, the saw stopped. I never got running again. I wore myself out pull-starting the POS. As you can imagine, I was pissed by this time.

Behind me I could  hear my wife quietly saying: “Just go buy a chainsaw… Just go buy a chainsaw…”

As you can probably guess: I bought a Damn Chainsaw!

Rather than getting the $140 Craftsman model (I don’t trust Craftsman anymore), I stepped it up to the $300 Husqvarna model. I am partial to the Husqvarna due to past experience and expect this to be my LAST chainsaw. I fought this purchase for long enough that I only wanted to do it once. It’s a nice saw, and I won’t be using it much. Therefore, there is no reason it shouldn’t last the life of its owner.

So, now I have a chainsaw. I expect the neighbors to soon come knocking.

“I hear you’ve got a chainsaw…”

Having a chainsaw is a lot like having a pickup truck; all your friends without one will want to borrow it. (I also don’t have a pickup… yet.)

While writing my previous post, I wanted to remember the little café we had stopped at on our first day in upstate New York.

What was the name of that place? Oh, I can find it on google maps. I’m good at maps.

I assumed I would be tracing our route on a map and locating the café that way. But once I got to the Maps page, I remembered Google Timeline. I had used the app before but had forgotten about it.  It was hidden in the drop-down options menu.

There was more than a decade of my travel history displayed on the world map. It showed my travels from 2009 onward. Almost every place I had been was there. All the restaurants, stores, places I’d worked and just driven by! I spent an hour reliving my trips and recalling wonderful places I had forgotten about.

It wasn’t until later that the creepiness started to hit me. Who else was seeing this? Could someone hack into my Google Timeline page and know where I had been, when, and for how long? And, if so, what could they do with that information?

It was at this point that my writer-imagination clicked on.

What could be done with this information? Hmmm…

– A killer could predict my daily route to work and set up an ambush or an ‘accident’.

– Someone could research my travel itinerary and pose as someone I might have met on the trip as a means of getting closer to me.

– A door-to-door salesman could predict when I would be home and available!

– An employer could check to see what I was really doing on the day I called in sick.

– A sexy foreign spy would know what coffee shop I go to alone on Saturdays and make sure to be there sitting next to me. (All foreign lady-spies are sexy by default. Foreignness plus spyiness equals sexy – period.)

I am not one to see hidden conspiracies in every shadow, nor do I have a knee-jerk distrust of new technology or BigTech. So, I actually don’t mind being tracked or filmed or recorded or whatever my Alexa is doing. But then, I am also not involved in any illegal or seditious activities. So track away. I’ve got nothing to hide.

In truth, I have an appreciation for Google Timeline. Rather than just having a file of pictures from my trips that will require me to remember where they were taken and who is in the view, I now have mapped moment-to-moment tracking of the route we took. In addition, my pictures have embedded date and time data that I can then match to the map. So, if I wanted to, I could create a minute-by-minute itinerary of my trip with pictures of that moment. How’s that for a vacation slide show?

 Google maps tracks me every day, and I am very cool with that. I find it both extremely handy and kind of creepy. However, unless I become a target for spies or start thinking about trading in contraband, my life is much too dull for this detailed information to be useful to anyone.  

“How odd… I stopped at the guitar store on the way home. And now look, Marge, here is an ad for a deal on strings at Amazon. How do those online algorithms know so much?!”

Hmmm…

For vacation 2021, we went to New York: four days in the Syracuse/Finger Lakes region and three days in NEW YORK CITY!! I’ve never been to NY other than passing through Kennedy airport, so I was excited for new adventures. I consider NYC to be one of the things every American should do once, like seeing the Grand Canyon. It can put things into perspective for you.

I am very much a Midwestern guy, and the coasts are relatively unexplored by me. Sheri, my lovely wife, and manager has relatives in the Syracuse area and has been to NYC a few times. She was to be my guide.

I’ve seen enough travel television and movies to have a few expectations of New York City. Upstate New York, on the other hand, was a blank. I had no expectations at all. I spent most of my youth in Northern Minnesota, and found the Finger Lakes area to be very similar. It felt rural but with a big city tourist patina that prevented it from being hick.

The one thing about Upstate that I knew about and was very much looking forward to was Poutine! Poutine is a Canadian dish that I have wanted to try for years. I finally got it, and it was AMAZING! A Poutine is usually french fries with brown gravy and cheese curds. I had mine as a breakfast on fried potatoes with brisket and fried egg. It was divine. I highly recommend it. The savory gravy brought it all together, and the cheese curds provided an occasional surprise gush of flavor.

We stayed in Brewerton, NY, and stopped at the aptly named Brewer Union Cafe  (https://brewerunioncafe.com) on our first morning. Breakfast is our favorite meal, so we always go big while on vacation. The staff was friendly and attentive and whoever they have mixing it up in back knows what they’re doing.

For vacation 2021, we went to New York: four days in the Syracuse/Finger Lakes region and three days in NEW YORK CITY!! I’ve never been to NY other than passing through Kennedy airport, so I was excited for new adventures. I consider NYC to be one of the things every American should do once, like seeing the Grand Canyon. It can put things into perspective for you.

I am very much a Midwestern guy, and the coasts are relatively unexplored by me. Sheri, my lovely wife, and manager has relatives in the Syracuse area and has been to NYC a few times. She was to be my guide.

I’ve seen enough travel television and movies to have a few expectations of New York City. Upstate New York, on the other hand, was a blank. I had no expectations at all. I spent most of my youth in Nothern Minnesota, and found the Finger Lakes area to be very similar. It felt rural but with a big city tourist patina that prevented it from being hick.

The one thing about Upstate that I knew about and was very much looking forward to was Poutine! Poutine is a Canadian dish that I have wanted to try for years. I finally got it, and it was AMAZING! A Poutine is usually french fries with brown gravy and cheese curds. I had mine as a breakfast on fried potatoes with brisket and fried egg. It was divine. I highly recommend it. The savory gravy brought it all together, and the cheese curds provided an occasional surprise gush of flavor.

We stayed in Brewerton, NY, and stopped at the aptly named Brewer Union Café  on our first morning. Breakfast is our favorite meal, so we always go big while on vacation. The staff was friendly and attentive and whoever they have mixing it up in back knows what they’re doing.

Poutine Breakfast!!

Spotify is a wonderful thing. I enjoy exploring new music, but the biggest thrill comes when I rediscover music I had forgotten. That is what happen the other day when I ran across  Robbie Dupree’s Steal Away, and I was mentally tossed back to 1980. It was like a gut punch or the first drop at the top of a roller coaster; it took the breath out of me. I was suddenly standing in my grandmother’s darkened pantry, singing silently to myself.

The little space was an escape for me. I was miserable while living in Podunk, Iowa. To cope, I needed to find some form of mental escape, away from the 70’s pro-wrestling and terrible television that my grandparents considered ‘family time.’ I was eleven or twelve, I think, and I clung to my little radio like a life raft. The songs that I remember best were Shadow Dancing by Andy Gibb and, of course, YMCA by the Village People. We sang it in Chorus at school, we learned the dance moves and everything.I would stand in the dark and silently mouth the words as a mantra, a spell to take me away for that moment. Outside, the trains rolled past, the vibrations making the floor tremble under me, an additional element of the magical moment.

The Village People's YMCA is preserved for posterity - BBC News

The rediscovery of Steal Away led me to an entire vein of golden oldies that yanked on my heartstrings. Like emotional cheesecake, I couldn’t get enough. I was pulling up memories and feelings that had slipped into the cracks of my mind, seemingly lost forever. But the magic of music brought it all pouring back, and it was a rush.

Music has power. I know that. I feel it every time I go to a rock show and feel the rush of energy from the screaming guitars and thumping drums. But I had forgotten the power of music memory. Songs have a way of wrapping themselves around a moment in time and organically becoming part of that memory. Our brains attach all the tiny sensations we feel, the emotions, the smells, the environment, along with the sights and sounds of that immediate moment in time to create a multi-dimensional ball of synapses that we call memory. Later, when we experience a smell or sound or emotion that relates directly to that memory, it can come rushing back to our consciousness, fully born and alive. That’s magic.

Like most teenagers, my parents and I disagreed about music. We were children of different times. At my house, Saturday night was Game Night. The whole family would sit at the dining room table and play games until after midnight. An Oldies station would be playing on the radio. Back then, the Oldies were the 50’s and 60’s. I grew up listening to Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Chubby Checker, and the Everly Brothers. Little Suzie and At The Hop were still hits in our house. For me, this was ancient music, never something I would listen to by choice. However, it was catchy, and eventually, I learned all the words. But it wasn’t music I could relate to. However, my parents would get excited when a particular song came on and would crank the volume and sing along like it was the greatest thing ever. I didn’t get it.

The Oldies stations now play the ‘80s and ‘90s, with a smattering of the 2000s thrown in. I know the music and enjoy it, but even these songs rarely have much of an effect on me. I’ve heard them all a million times.

My musical memories seem to be more attuned to the late ‘70s and very early ‘80s. Music that rarely gets played on the radio anymore. Those are the songs that evoke the most vivid emotions, such as the darkened pantry or first heartbreak. Even memories of high school aren’t as powerful as those.

I just wonder if this was the feeling that my parents got from certain songs? Were they re-experiencing a moment in their youth similar to my memory? I now feel a new connection with my parents that I never had before: a clarification and understanding. I’ve realized that it’s only with age and a little time in their shoes that you can really understand your parents. I have now stepped into my father’s place, and I’m feeling his feelings. I finally get it!

What’s next on the playlist?

Lady by the Little River Band.

Lady - Little River Band.jpg

Our new house is not far from the local airport allowing me to watch planes take off and land. I happen to love traveling and flying in particular. Flying is freedom in my mind. So, seeing these flights taking off for points unknown makes me smile. Someone is getting out and seeing the world and that is a great thing. I wave at them sometimes to be funny. I’m so jealous.

Flight to Somewhere – cooler than here.


Today I am sitting in my backyard on a beautiful sunny day and dreaming of travel as the planes claw their way into the sky. They are both an inspiration and a taunt. There is a world out there to experience, but I have to wait to board and explore. I’ve been waiting since last year. It’s time.


Our next trip is to New York City in August, only 37 days away! I’ve never been to NYC and I’m very excited. We’ve planned a sailing tour of the bay, a visit to Ellis Island and, of course, Times Square. Those are the big ones. We tried to get tickets to a Broadway show, but like they say in NY ‘fuggedaboutit’, ain’t gonna happen. Which is fine, there are a million other things to do there. Like deli’s, food trucks and one hundred thousand coffee shops. I’m excited!


We will be spending the last days of the trip in Syracuse, sitting on a lake and relaxing. I am actually looking forward to that more than the tourist thing. Give me a chair, a beverage, and a book, and I’m good for a few days. Can’t wait.
In the meantime, there goes another one.

Wave, everyone! Have a nice trip! See ya! Bring on August so I can get to the airport on time!

We now have a DOG. It is a CAPITAL LETTER DOG. In fact, a heavy breathing, barge through your day, take your spot, steam-powered DOG.

My wife and I have wanted a dog for a few years. Anytime we saw someone walking their companion in the park or saw a head sticking out a car window with ears flapping, we would turn to each other and in unison say:  “We need a dog!” We even purchased a home after years of renting – and liking it – with the intention of getting a dog. I didn’t want to limit a dog to an apartment or a tiny little postage stamp yard. So, we set the goal of having a big backyard before we got a dog. We now have a half-acre of dog-ready yard. And a couple of weeks ago, we finally got a dog.

My wife and I differed on our preferred model of dog. We both wanted a larger dog because we hate little barky dogs and wanted something our cats couldn’t beat up on. We wanted one that was smart and not a puppy. We don’t have the energy for a puppy and wanted them mostly trained already. Neither of us is well-versed at being dog parents and didn’t want to ruin the poor thing.

My wife fell in love with pitbulls a few years ago and was dead set on getting one. I’m more of a German shepherd or hound kind of guy. But, of course, she won. The dog was meant for her anyway. I’m solidly a cat person and could go through the rest of my life without a dog. Yet, we now have one.

ARLO is a pit-bull-lab mix and, again, is CAPITAL letter-worthy. He is intelligent and stubborn, and very well-behaved. He is only aggressive in his friendliness; he will lick your face off! He is only a year and a half old and still partly in the puppy stage, which is exhausting.

And now, several weeks into our dog years, we are exhausted. I can honestly say that there have been some fleeting second thoughts, not quite adopters’ remorse, but… thoughts. I knew that dogs were high maintenance and high attention. I even warned my wife of this. Up till this point, we have always had cats and could basically ignore them most of the time. Cats are self-sufficient and self-entertained. That is why I like them so much. Whereas dogs need your attention, need to go outside, need to be exercised, need your attention, need to be noticed, need to go outside, and need your attention. We were NOT ready for the level of attention ARLO required. It is much like bringing a baby home. Suddenly, your life revolves around this being. ALL OF YOUR LIFE!!

We were also surprised to find that they still make steam-powered dogs. Who knew? Arlo breathes like a steam engine. All…the…time! Chugga Chugga Chugga Toot Toot! Here comes Arlo! We’ve tried having him sleep in our room, but we couldn’t sleep with the chugging. Once he calms down, it gets better, but he fidgets all night. He now has a prime kennel in the dining room. I believe he will eventually be more a part of the family and be able to crash with us. Until then, he gets a private room.

We are adapting and aren’t going to return Arlo or dump him off or anything silly like that. We will modify our life and make it work, just like you would with a new child. I am now in charge of the 5AM walk. I’m not at all sure how that happened; I am NOT a morning person – at all. 5AM is not a waking time. That is a going fishing time or maybe even coming home time after a great Friday night, but NOT a wake-up time. Yet, here I am dressed and vertical, walking the dog every morning. This is not how I imagined my life.

Overall, Arlo is a really good dog with some really poorly trained parents. It will get better; I have faith. We love our steam-powered dog and will build our future around him. But now I’m tired and need to get up in – like – five hours to walk the dog. These are the Dog-years.

We have lived in the Century House for about three months now and have settled in very comfortably. However, we have been living without a cookstove. We sold the ancient one that came with the house because we knew we had one on the way – soon.  We wanted all new matching appliances and ordered them in January for a March delivery. Two and half months ought to be enough time to get them shipped from ‘wherever’, right?

This proved true for the most part. Everything was fine and in place by the first of April. However, I made the mistake of ordering a super special order stove with an oven that could be split into two, with dual controls. Along with this, my wife ordered a microwave with all the bells and whistles. You clearly see our cooking styles.

The Empty Spot in my Kitchen

The last two items, the stove and the microwave, did not show up on time. However, to add to the story, we were contacted several times to schedule deliveries that never materialized. The supplier both called and emailed us to schedule the delivery of our products but then didn’t show up at all. They were phantom deliveries. It was very frustrating.

Then the Suez canal blockage happened. The container ship Ever Given had run aground in the middle of the canal and blocked delivery of our stove. At least that was the story we were telling.  We don’t know the exact reason for the delay, but it worked well for laughs.

In the meantime, we have been getting by with a $75 microwave and a $25 electric griddle. We tried using our slow cooker to prepare meals ahead, but you know “SLOW COOKER” is not something we wanted to use daily. Instead, we got very comfortable with our griddle and had lots of eggs, salmon burgers, and fish fillets. All of which was fine and tasty, but I really missed a good fried egg or a stir fry or even mac-n-cheese.

$25 worth of saddness!!

Soon after we moved in, we had a technician in the house installing our security system. The control panel is in the kitchen opposite the stove – or where the stove is supposed to be. He had been at it for about thirty minutes before he finally looked up and asked: “Where’s your stove?” It took him that long to notice the odd empty spot in our kitchen.

I found it difficult to adjust to cooking on an electric griddle. I love to cook, and cutting a bunch of vegetables into a stew or a stirfry is very relaxing for me. But cooking on a griddle doesn’t require much for cutting. It was all fish fillets, chicken breasts, and patties with lots of salads. The ‘cooking’ part of cooking was a sad shadow of what I liked to do. I’m sure I could have gotten used to the griddle and eventually felt creative enough to do something interesting with it, but thankfully that time was avoided.

We have a stove! It’s a Samsung gas range with an oven that can be split into two and controlled separately. It also includes an air fryer option that I am particularly excited about. My wife wants me to make wings in the worst way, but I guess there is a chicken wing shortage or something. She was unwilling to trade an arm and a leg for wings. So, that will have to wait.

I am excited about the high-powered burner on the cooktop. It is meant for cooking with a wok. My wok is my favorite pan to use. I make a lot of stir fry and curries and similar recipes.

This is the first cookstove I’ve purchased new, and there is a huge big technology jump in this range compared to what I’m used to.  I can control the oven from my phone! Which is ridiculous! I have never once thought: Damn… if only I could turn the oven on from the mall. I personally can’t see the use of this feature. My wife has offered different scenarios to justify it. Still, none of them ring true or reasonable or an event that would happen more than once in a lifetime. However, my phone is now synced with my stove, and I’m going to dream up some weirdly unlikely situation where I will just have to use it.

Frickin’ WIFI!!!

What is the first thing I cooked on my new stove, you ask? Was it chicken marsala? Or a stir fry or a nice spicy curry (YUM!!) or some other fancy or difficult or iconic meal that would inaugurate my new stove in style. No… That is definitely not my style. Simple cooking is the best cooking. I made fried eggs, sausage, and toast. And it was glorious. I never got the hang of cooking eggs on the griddle. They were never quite right.

I’ve been feeling my age and find myself waxing nostalgic for things of twenty and thirty years ago. Most of the time, we move through our day-to-day without really noticing time passing, then one day we look up and it’s been five or ten or twenty years. I guess this is me noticing. Really, after the first few thousand days, they all start looking alike. We stop noticing.

Without some significant signposts to delineate the years it’s hard to look back and see where we’ve been or how we’ve changed. Music is important to most people and often serves as sign posts of the years as they pass. For me I tend to avoid the overplayed, shoved-down-our-throat songs that the record industry feels that everyone is required to like. Meaning: the Doors, Freebird, Poison, the Backstreet Boys, Beyonce, and Miley, to give an example from every decade of my life. However, there is music that I have kept close for years.

Many years ago I was a big fan of a website call MP3.com, where people could post their original music for people to discover. It was the beginning of digital music and there were a million undiscovered songwriters and bands to explore. If you liked a band, you could order a CD of their music; a real physical CD. I discovered a lot of great music on there and have thousands of files that I continue to listen to.

But, that was twenty years ago, the turn of the century for chrissake! The site has disappeared along with much of the music they stored. However, one of those artists was a band called Dog Party, specifically their album: Blindsided. The track Getaway Car is one of my all time favorites and still gets heavy rotation. However, they are not on Spotify and I have been unable to find their music anywhere.

A recent listen got me curious about what happened to the band and its members. Did they go on to bigger and better things? Are there other albums out there? Have I heard their material since and not known it? You know, life goes on for all of us and I was curious to see how they fared. The magic of the internet makes answering these questions relatively easy. It lets you check in on people without them knowing. Much like stalking but with less creepiness.

Dog Party has been important to me partly because they are relatively unknown and unspoiled. If I hear Madonna or Van Halen or even N’Sync, I can sense the years on them. But many of the songs I saved from MP3.com still feel fresh and new, because I haven’t heard them a billion times. They’re not overused and worn out.

The MP3.com songs are much more like intimate friends that have tagged along with me for years. They are very private and personal because I never had to share them with a million other people. Part of their appeal is that I discovered them, rather than the music industry shoving them into my ear canal so incessantly that I was forced to associate with them. MP3.com gave me those songs. The ones that I knew were mine and mine alone. For many of these songs, I am probably one of the few people that know they ever existed. I guess that makes them even more special to me. Fans of Learning To Fly by the Foo Fighters are everywhere, but a person that has even heard Getaway Car by Dog Party is a true rarity. Which is sad, because it is a wonderful song.

Which brings me back to my actual topic. Where are they now? This is the only album by the band that I have been able to find. There is an online rumor that there was a previous album, but I have not been able to find it or verify its existence. The band members were a bit easier to locate.

I originally looked up Eileen Dorn, the lead singer, a few years ago. I love her voice and delivery and was curious if she was able to build a career on her talent. She is now a martial arts instructor in California and part of a city-wide womens’ choir. She can even be found on PBS and youtube.

The guitarist Steve Gregory is still active in music and is a musician for hire. He is also on youtube and I have used his lesson videos a few times. Of course, this is assuming it is the same Steve Gregory. He looks similar, but I have yet to find any reference to Dog Party.

Drummer Mike Packer seems to have done the best for himself becoming a very sought after drummer and instructor in California and even touring with Wilson Philips. (Which is huge in my book!)

The bass player appears to have disappeared into life somewhere – like people do.

What I didn’t find in my research of the members was any mention of the band – at all! No one listed it in their bios or resumes or credits.

Life happens, which is what lead me to this topic. The members of this band have moved on to other things. But on their journey they created music that is still important to me. This is honestly one of my favorite albums and that they fail to even mention it as an accomplishment is a bit of a gut punch. Was it really so forgettable for them? Yes, it was twenty years ago, but I would think they would want to advertise it somehow.

I still listen to this music as if it’s current. It doesn’t feel twenty years old. Even after all those years and a million other songs, these small rare, nearly unheard songs are still important to me and I would like to hope that others feel the same as I do.

On our journey, certain small insignificant things end up having larger meanings than others can understand. It’s not the same for everyone. There will always be people that get all worked up about Freebird or Smells Like Teen Spirit or, hell, maybe even Getaway Car. These songs are part of the soundtrack and montage of our lives and unique to ourselves. Just because it’s a rare unknown song doesn’t make it less important.

Feeling nostalgic and looking back at our journey is important. We need to see the paths that lead us to here; the experiences, mistakes, and accidents of fate that made today. Those things are important and what makes life worth it. This is wisdom I’ve recognized only recently. I don’t like to think about regrets or missed opportunities, but rather about the little memory tokens that can trigger pleasant recollections. Like songs.

Our hundred year old basement has really good concrete. The floors are still crack-free and flat and the walls don’t show any sag or bowing. However, we don’t know how dry the basement has been in the past, so we decided to be safe and chose a waterproof laminate flooring for the main area. It is an engineered laminate that is designed to snap together. My initial plan was to do the whole floor in the TV/bar area in one go. But it turned out that my floor didn’t meet the exact requirements. The laminate requires a very flat and even floor. I poopooed this as over-specifying and felt that I could make it work on my sort of flat hundred year old concrete. I can admit that I was wrong. I failed to take into account that the basement has two floor drains and nice gradual slopes leading to each.

I found that there was not enough play in the joints of the laminate to allow for the slight curve of the slope. I was forced to limit the laminate to the large open areas in the center of the room. My altered plan had me putting down laminate in the main room and a portion of the guest room. Behind the bar I will put down a nice tile and on the sloped sections around the drains will be creating a mosaic with small 2″ tiles. The colors of the materials are similar and I think it will look nice in the end.

I didn’t want to put the laminate directly onto the concrete because of moisture gassing up through the concrete and other possible seepage in the future. I installed a dimpled underlayment that raised the laminate about 3/8″ and provided a vapor gap under the flooring. I will be keeping the drains in the floor. I have hot water heat, a boiler and lots of pipes in the ceiling of the room. I want easy access to the drains for any moisture that accumulates.

I did a lot of research before installing the underlayment and laminate. I wanted to do this myself, do it right, and do it once. So I was not going to rush into anything.

First, I filled in the joints in the floor with some left over hydraulic cement to provide a smooth flat surface for the floor. Any defects, dips or grooves in the concrete would be translated to the floor above it. Next, I put down the underlayment leaving a gap along the walls. This was all done in a weekend. I then put the laminate down during the week, working a couple of hours a night. It took some practice and some mistakes to get the engineered laminate to go together consistently, it is very brittle and the joints break easily.

Also, because the joints are so tight with very very little give, any joint that isn’t perfectly tamped together will build up and become a problem several rows later. So, rather than being perfectly straight and flat, the floor develops a hump or slight curve that you can’t easily correct. As I said, it took some time and mistakes to get it right, but I completed it in the end and it looks great. There were some harsh words and thrown tools, but this DIY Engineer triumphed in the end. But I also want to say that I will NEVER do this again! I will also not recommend this flooring. I should have just tiled the entire floor. I suspect I will be replacing this floor in about five years. I’m not a fan.

The remodel of the basement has progressed well. Once it was gutted, cleaned up, and the walls sealed I felt that I need to add a little insulation to the walls to prevent the rooms from getting that clammy basement feel. I used a half inch thick aluminum clad insulation that is commonly used for garage doors.

For the framing, I am fortunate to have an 8ft basement ceiling! This meant that I didn’t have to cut any of those uprights. I used treated lumber for the bottom plates and anchored them to the floor, with the headers attached to the floor joists to keep it all plumb.

This basement is a century old and actually looks great. However, I found that the walls did bulge a little. Getting everything plumb required a some adjustments and a small amount of rework and cursing, but it all turned out in the end.

Now, I did the framing myself. Meaning – by myself – me and my new Dewalt impact-driver. I had a good time, but ended up with tennis-elbow or something. My gripping elbow is killing me. My guess is tendonitis and I’ve got ice and a compression sleeve on it. No one every warned be about that kind of injury.

This project has now cured me of any desire to do drywall. I’ve done some in the past, but not in a while. I now have a hatred for drywall. Our mantra for this project has become: ‘Never again.’ This is honestly our last project house. We just need to finish it.

Our plan is to leave all the pipes in the basement exposed and create a steam-punk or old industrial theme. The water main comes through the wall in our TV room and I didn’t want to cover it. So, I did some creative framing around it. I think it turned out pretty good. Later, I want to cover it with a perforated brass grill with some mood lighting behind it. That will be later.

Next Post: Laminate flooring!!