Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Flying pool roof during Easter time

 We have just had our Easter vacation which got concluded with a real crazy April weather. In Italy, that would be a crazy March weather. 

Snow, hail, sun, snow, hail, wind. All at once, almost. 

Snow for the day after Easter

We managed during the few days off from work, where the weather was decent, do to some minor work with our projects to recover from the pool roof flying last year. 

Mattias is keeping a decent tempo in repairing the different parts, so that the section that he was working is back on the pool. 

One section is back on the pool

Testing if it rolls fine

Putting it back was not exactly trivial, but it was good to see that it was rolling fine on the tracks that got repaired. 

While he kept working on another section, I was busy recovering the boule track from all the weeds that had grown, as in a green house, under the pool roof. 

Weeds all over the track
All of this doesn't move completely smooth all the time. On saturday, while he was working on another section, he asked Isabella's help to hold it, while I was inside the house a while and it was very windy. Isabella got the the heavy section on her head while the wind took it down and she couldn't it hold it anymore. The roof kept falling few times, also breaking a chair that Mattias used optimistically for holding it. 

But progresses, at least and at last.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A day of spring

Both yesterday and today have been "warm" days. It is the end of march and we have been steady below 10 degrees except for these two days. Today for many in this country, it was possibly almost summer time.

I tried to enjoy the sun and the warmth by being outside a little. In this way I have helped Mattias moving a section of the pool roof that had been lying just in front of our secondary entrance forever and that, due to that, had created a good collection of weeds under it.

The first thing I did was enjoying removing them.

The weeds (dandelions) where the pool roof piece had been

Mattias is enjoying trying to renovate the pool roof after it flew last spring. The section that we moved today is under "polishing". He is cleaning it and I guess doing small adjustments.

Washing the pool roof section

He made a reparation "table" so he can try to fix the pieces that broke

The work with the pool roof has gone very slow. We were hoping the insurance company would pay for it, after talking with the people that sold and mounted the pool roof on the first place, but that was denied and we have been trying to seek also the possibility to get spare parts. I don't know how that operation is going. 
Nevertheless, the pool looks like *h*t right now, as during winter time there was no cover at all. 

Isn't it inviting? 
While Mattias was being the usual pool boy, I did some more clean up on a flower bed, removing leaves, moss and trying to make it look cleaner. It is not easy as there are a lot of small flowers coming up and I don't want to step on them or pulling them up when I rake it gently.
Among the flowers I saw today it is worth mentioning is a blue anemone.

Blue anemone

When it got a bit chilly, I went indoor. As always, it is not like there is a shortage of things to do and I took the occasion to look at my samsas where the two small cats have decided to have a party since they came and live with us.
I will have to glue a band that they manage to tore apart, but I had some serious issue with a button, that has always been not perfectly in place.

The button is in a quite bad state and it is not fixed properly to the back of the couch 

I have asked some suggestions on how to fix this, but I would have to dismount the couch and I guess it will stay like this. I would just hope I could find a nicer looking button, because despite my attempt, this looks crappy still.


Saturday, March 6, 2021

Make a cast on old pipes

It is true what they say. Having a house is a constant source of work. An old house probably generates additional issues, especially if owners after owners have been playing around with trends, personal taste and whatever. A big house with a complex structure will also generate quite some tasks.

I think we got jackpot of complexity and infinite amount of tasks to deal with. 
In this case the fault is somewhat ours. 
When we moved in 2012, we relied on a quite cheap/old house incompetent building company, that helped us with the major renovation we did. 
One day, one pipe in the basement started to drip water. We looked up and thought that the pipe for some reason just broke.
Some of the workers we had, took and broke the insulation around to pipe, to check its state. 
It turned out that the issue was due to the fact that the radiator had been removed at the end of the pipe, and with a change of water pressure, the water of course started to go out of the open pipe.
As the insulation was broken, they took some modern one and just wrapped it around the old pipe.
The pipe with its modern insulation
Nothing strange with it, except that the "cut" around the old insulation has looked like crap and well, I hadn't had major plans to do anything about it (well, after 9 years, what do you expect... that this is prio 1?) for a while.

Close up around the fracture in the old insulation

I have recently had a visit of a building engineer who, when checking other issues with the house, looked at this and told me: "Arianna, you need to fix this asap".
It turns out that such old insulation is usually full with asbestos, and that is ok until one breaks and touchs the parts. 
Now, I have been there fixing the laundry for 9 years, so I suspect that, if any asbestos, I have had some exposure to it (although I have never touched for any reason that part of the pipe).
Nevertheless, she recommended to buy some plaster rolls, that I suspect are usually used for molding plaster items or even broken limbs.

Starting to roll the wet plaster rolls
Without knowing what I was exactly doing, I dripped the plaster roll, one by one, in cold water. 
I took them up and started to roll them around the pipe.

I wasn't very prepared and the floor got a bit messy
I wans't really prepared, so plaster started to drip from the pipe a bit everywhere. Eventually I put some form of floor cover and that made life easier. Luckily it is reasonable easy to clean plaster up.
At the beginning my technique was very much suboptimal. It turned a bit better by the end, although when comparing with the old insulation (which probably had plaster rolled around it too), one sees an abyss of different. The old ones are smooth and even and perfect. What hands for doing such a job!

The critical point that was supposed to be sealed
By using the plaster rolls, I am basically sealing the asbestos risky point and, as a bonus, I am also making the modern insulation looks a bit more like the old one.
The final result

It wasn't easy to make it even there

Another point got sealed as well, since I was at it
Considering this was the first time I used anything like that, I am quite happy of the result. The old insulation has leaked a bit color on the plaster, as of course, it got wet. But it should be enough to paint it a bit. In theory I should use lime paint on it, but since those are two micro spots that needs some adjustment, one of us should be able to just paint with whatever we have around. 
So, that's the next step. Problem is that now when I look at the pipes, I just see spots where I would like to preeventively patch all of this...

Friday, February 26, 2021

Tiny Steps Forward

This is probably not just a tiny step, but quite a progress!

Now, both lamps are up and running at the gate and what is left is to fix the marks from the previous lamps.

These lamps really melt into the environment!

Now, it will be interesting to see if their IP classification will make a difference for the lightbulbs consumptions. The previous lamps, apart from the low aesthetics, had also the feature of forcing me to replace lightbulbs fairly often. I think they were simply not made for being outdoor.

Changing topic completely, there has been also a micro step forward towards making the "curtains in the living room project" complete. 

I am still waiting for some holders for the side curtains as I thought I could find something online that would fit, but it didn't really work out as I thought and realized that it'd be better to have something handmade by the blacksmith that would fit with the rest of the other details.

So, as he is a bit evanescent, I am waiting patiently that he will produce those side curtain holders, but as I had managed to get him to make at least the central, double one, I made sure we would get it mounted. Also, we have finally put back the curtains, pushed by another reportage on a newspaper, as the small cats are probably less wild (I hope for the best here) and the risk to have climbing spider-cats on them should be minor. This is also needed as spring is creeping in (or rather exploding) and soon the light and the sun will make playing the piano an extreme activity.

It is nice to see the "complete" picture getting more and more complete.

The curtains behind the piano. The central ones now are held together when needed.

Details of the holders

The holders have the same style as the curtain rod holder (as one can half see in the pictures).

A nice touch, I think

Saturday, February 6, 2021

So be light

 I believe the last "previous owner" liked to mix modern fancyness, modern cheap solutions and jugend all together. 

Our gates, which have a strong art deco feeling, have substituted the original in wood (there was just one) and they mostly dominate with the white pillars that define the entrance to the garden/our premises.

One set of pillars have been equipped with some lamps that, well, could have had a better style. 

The original lamp
Apart the form, shape, color, style (which I believe are questionable and do not fit with the rest of the house), we had a painful problem. Probably the lamp is not made for being outdoor, so I had to often switch lightbulbs, until I had enough of it.

Since I wanted to be sure that we got something that would work, I went and search for some newly produced outdoor lamp that would at least fit semi decently despite not being from 1910...!

Once the purchase was made, of course it took few months before we even opened the box with the new lamps. 
Substituting the old lamps
Without rush (we really don't have that style), one lamp got removed and switched to the new one. 
It is soon time to see also the second appearing on the second pillar.

The new lamp is shining in the dark

The new set of lamps is at least having some resemblance of old style and it matches in color with the house roof and the gates. 
It looks quite ok - and at least, definitely better than before! 
I was welcomed by the light
Naturally, as in every of our projects, a small change requires an longer chain of patches and fixing than one thinks. We need, indeed, to seal up the holes from the old lamps and paint the pillars as well...
Next century?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Patching and breaking

 Things don't always go as one hopes. Well, actually barely ever.


It seems that Oscar got stuck in the toilet, locking himself in. Mattias put some oil through the keyhole in the lock and, well. Noone casually knows how the door was open. 

The fact is though that after this episode, it was not possible anymore to lock oneself in (which, being a toilet, it could be useful).

The lock on the door
I decided to look into it and get assistance from online experts to fix it. So, I first dismount it. Interesting, it was put on the door with a random piece of wood. When I got into fixing it, I also took out another lock that was left around by the previous owner in the basement. The peculiar detail is that the second lock has some paint that would fit more the color that I see under the layer of white paint on the toilet door.
So, I wonder if that was the right lock for this door, but broke and someone put a lock that was somehwere else (and I think it must have been in the kitchen, since it is light blue under the paint layers).

A door without the lock

Let's take a good picture of how it look before I disassemble

Yaha, now it is opened

Ok. I opened it. I have played with it. Without the lid it locks. With the lid it doesn't. It seems there is some friction with some parts, but I still wonder how that became the problem just with some oil in the keyhole. 
I have spent already few hours on it, without figuring it out. I am sure that someone knows exactly how to fix it in few seconds. I just don't get it, so it has to wait a bit longer until I get any positive energy to not lose the patience on it.

In some parts of the floor in the TV/Piano room there has always been some evil draft coming up, there where the sliding doors are. 
We have the only part of the basement that is not isolated under that room and I guess that around the sliding doors, as there is no threshold and probably the floor construction changes, there is this gap that let cold air come up. 

Mattias had the great idea to close the gaps between the wooden planks, or at least to put some insulation. He went and buy some flax caulk and even a tool for doing that (we could just use whatever we had around) and he started doing it. A bit. 
But the gaps are not deep everywhere, so it is not easy to let it stay, with people and cats running around and a vacuum cleaner that regularly sucks up the insulation.

The floor with the gaps poorly insulated
As lately I did find a lot of pieces of flax caulk everywhere, I tried to understand how to fix the problem.
I think generally one would use sawdust with glue for this job, but we had the flax caulk and I was going to use that. 
I thought then to use glue to secure it in the gaps. 

Mimmi decided to help picking up pieces of flax

I am using a properly very expensive tool for doing the caulking
Piece by piece, I took the flax, squeezed it between the gaps and pushed it down after putting some indoor glue. 
In certain cases, I put also the glue on top of it, to avoid that it'd stick out too much.

The end result
I am actually quite happy of the result. We did run also a vacuum cleaner test and it seems steady enough to stay where I put it. 
When passing the hand over that part of the floor, one doesn't feel any longer the evil cold air coming up, so hopefully this is a good patch for the issue at this stage.

I bought some fancy curtains. Well, it is about time to put some curtains up. Afterall we have been living here just 8 years and half. Some people would have put them up before even putting the beds in place.

So, I got the curtains. But then we need to find a way to put them up and after a lot of research on a long enough curtain rod, I picked up some semi random item that would work ok here, although not very super duper expensive or handmade or authentic.
Now, buying things is relative easy. Doing something with them is another story.

Mattias is busy drilling holes
Mattias is the handyman when it comes to this and he started to happily drill in the wall. First the drill was swobbling everywhere, so it took few weeks/month to go and buy the right point to use for drilling. 
Done that he succeded in the first hole. 
The second didn't really work as smooth. He managed to hit a perfect cross between the bricks, making it impossible to drill the hole. Or better. He made a hole, just an enormous one. The plaster just started to fall apart by looking at it.

The hole.

The end result

Conclusion? Now he has to move the previous attachment as it is no more aligned with the second one. We risk another black hole. He also has a third one to put up. 
This is going to take probably half a year more at least. 
Excluding the time it will take me to patch the holes....

Sunday, December 27, 2020

What has happened lately

December is always a quite intense month. Christmas is what is dictating the rhythm and, despite corona and the cut of most of events, maybe due to the darkness, things have been moving with a heavy step focusing on the advent and Christmas preparations.
Chloe has discovered immediately the tree
We started to decorate Villa Bellevue directly from the 1st of Advent. We have a plastic Christmas tree (second hand one!) and, knowing that the kittens would have had great fun with it, we decided to limit the decorations on it and exclude the balls. That was a wise choice. 

After few weeks the lights were broken, branches kept falling and the few decorations were thrown allover the house. 

Just before Christmas Eve Mattias started a big restoration and since then it has at least looked decently.

The restored Christmas during Christmas Eve

Eventually, despite the days running too fast, I pushed Mattias to put up yet another shelf that I bought at an auction, to end up in Isabella's room. I am not very convinced of the position, but I guess we will have to live with this until some more drastic change occurs. 

Her previous shelf got crowded quite soon and we knew that she would get a new load of books to devour.

Her room with the new shelf just hanged

The new shelf
After we had got the walls in the entrance restored, we have had the thought of try to protect them.
In september I managed to get in contact with a company that could prepare plexiglass sheet shaped as we wanted. 
We took the measures. And we took them again. And then again. Bah, the walls never seemed straight, so we decided to make a template. But we didn't have the right material for it, so we had to order it and then to find the time to fix the template.

Eventually, again under coercion, we spent an evening trying to sort this out. It had just pasted three months since I was in contact with the company... 
Mimmi is helping

Or maybe she isn't

Ok, I am not sure of the result

Once again, this project had to be put on hold, because even though we had the template and new measures, the company wanted to wait few months as they are understaffed right now.
So, let's wait few months more for this.

Finally, Christmas came. The Eve was spent mostly preparing the last things and for me it meant finally having the time to bake. 
I can imagine that Bellevue has been seeing a lot of Christmas baking during all its years...

One tray of gingerbread cookies

Lucia cats (Lussekatter) 
Two types of fudge
An orange sallad to refresh the heavy Christmas food

The buns are ready and it is time to go to bed and wait for Christmas

The good thing with Christmas is the extra little free time to be able to do some project. 
One of the things that I have been doing has been starting to clean up the boiler room. It was a mess last year. We got some minor order and clean up some stuff, but we never finished, with the result that it got very messy very quickly.

On top of that, the ceiling has fallen down on one side of the room and I am thinking of tearing down the rest of it to fix it up properly.

The hole in the ceiling

I think the higher planks are the original roof. I believe that when the toilet was made, they probably reinforced it with iron beams and lowered part of it

Also this part is soon falling down

While cleaning up I have also noticed how great they have been patching the window, in this room.
Some foam, a big cut, some random pieces of wood, part of the window has never been painted in green. I wonder what did they do to it from the start. I suspect that there might have been a shortcut for filling oil in the oil based heater but that was patched brutally? 
It is weird that in such fancy house nobody did take care of the details of the less noble parts of the house...

How the window is looking from the inside

Wooden bits and pieces are placed on one side of the window

The window has been chopped off in some weird way. That part has never been painted in green - so
not touch from the 70s at least?

In the room I am trying to squeeze in a lot of things to have tools and spare parts and whatever in order. 
Right now though it is a bit complicated if I have to be fixing the roof. So, I have placed some stuff just temporarily in the middle of the room.

There will be a drawer, a carpentry table and a quite generous shelf

Mimmi is approving the temporary placement