Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fixing a Wobbly Lamp Using a Lock Washer










Right between the saddle and the long neck on this lamp is the key to keeping it from wobbling — a lock washer.  Before that fix, for the longest time, this nice porcelain retro lamp leaned a bit:

There are dozens of posts on the internet that describe how to rewire a lamp, but they often skip the part about including a lock washer on each side of the assembly (inside and outside the lamp) to keep it from unscrewing itself and becoming wobbly over time.  I learned this trick from the people at Royal Touch at Coit and Arapaho in Dallas.

Here is a closeup of a lock washer:

Also – when rewiring don’t forget your underwriter’s knot:









This great illustration comes from the Flickr account of b_light, who has an awesome photo set on How to Wire a Lamp.  It is worth a look.

Here is the rewired lamp with a new $10 shade from Tuesday Morning:


Before and After, Washer-Dryer

O good times, for this…

… is now this …

Fancy!  My new washer and dryer play music.  I pulled the trigger on this purchase recently when the old Kenmore washer started leaking.  So far I have found front-loading far superior:

  • The washer uses far less water, less than you would think could clean anything.  Before, I thought if you opened a front-loader mid-cycle, water would spill out everywhere.  Not so, because the clothes at their wettest are merely soaked.
  • The dryer filter ends up with a fraction of the lint the old machine produced, ergo clothes must be less beat up in this process.
  • The “Steam Refresh” cycle on the dryer removes odors and wrinkles.  I am gradually refreshing more things instead of washing.
  • The stationary drying rack lets you dry items like sneakers and delicates without tumbling.

This Samsung pair was disturbingly expensive but ranked first in the Consumer Reports test.  I highly recommend if you have to replace your set.

The Ravendale Greenhouse


It’s a lucky week for me.  Check out my new find.  It’s a greenhouse!  Recovered from brush and bulky!  Without a doubt my best (and largest) trash find ever.

The process of acquiring the greenhouse was quite a thrill.  I spied it on a nearby block while riding in a car with a business associate.  She had driven us from an office downtown to a meeting in Garland.  We swung back through my neighborhood so she could show me a house she’s thinking about buying on our way back to the downtown office.  It was pure coincidence that this block was a quarter mile from mine.  I thought about asking her to stop the car so I could exit and examine it, but I wasn’t sure that would give such a good impression.  Let’s talk business… no wait a sec, lemme go pick through this pile of trash over here first.

After returning downtown to fetch my car, I drove back and eventually found it again.  A neighbor and a couple passing cars were eyeing the structure, which was sitting in the street, just past the curb.  I knew time was of the essence here, it was quite heavy, and I didn’t have the truck.

Hmmmm, how to move something fast during the day in my neighborhood?  Lawn crew!  It took about ten seconds to find some guys with a flatbed.  Communicating was difficult, but with hand signals and gestures they got the point that I needed some help moving something a few blocks.  I offered $30 but ended up paying $40, as it required moving a bunch of equipment from the trailer to the truck.  In retrospect perhaps I should have been more shrewd.  I find that the rule of Craigslist, garage sales, and just about every other junk transaction is that you should take the asking price or first number you expect to pay, and knock it down by about a third.  Maybe more.

For now it’s in my back drive, waiting for me to figure a final space for it.  It needs a replacement roof panel, and it could do with a new paint job on the frame, but other than that she seems good to go.  In the spirit of naming great estates and boats and all things fancy, I am naming her The Ravendale Greenhouse, for the street on which I found her.

Obvious Fixes

Fence Repair, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

Do you ever fix something and find that the new material makes the old look much shabbier? Seems like this has happened to me a lot lately….

* New cedar next to old
* Bright white caulk around old tub
* Sleek stainless dishwasher in clunky old kitchen

Squirrel was Here

Squirrel was Here, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

Your eyes do not deceive you. This is a ripe, half-eaten homegrown tomato perched atop my backyard fence. Deposited by a squirrel no doubt. Looking outside my kitchen window, I witnessed perhaps the same squirrel running up my neighbors roof with a smaller red one in its filthy undeserving mouth.

How depressing. To avoid this I believe you either must pick them green and let them ripen inside or create a physical barrier with netting. I hate to pick them unripe because they don’t taste as good. What’s the point? But I’ve been so busy the net’s not quite situated right. Obviously. Need to work on that. But until then, it appears I’m writing off a chunk of my crop to the squirrels.

Making More Free Thyme

Woolly Thyme, originally uploaded by patrick_standish.

I love that garden magazine look of wooly thyme creeping between stones. I have a flagstone edge along my front flower bed, and I would love it if I could get thyme growing between all the nooks and crannies and spilling over onto the rocks.

It would cost a fortune to buy the dozens of little thyme plants at the nursery, so this spring I put a couple small thyme plants I received at the spring plant swap into a container out back. Here is what they spread into over the summer:

Earthbox Thyme

This morning I cut 5 inch patches out of the planter and started inserting them along the rock edge. I used a knife to get a clean cut, and so far I’m surprised how far the patch is going. I think it will look fabulous once it gets going in its new home! If only it didn’t take all summer to get this accomplished.

Thyme Between Stones

Improving the Square Foot Garden

“Homely Homer” Tomatoes, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

My fall tomatoes are going strong and starting to ripen. They are doing considerably better than my summer ones did. I imagine it’s because I chose better varieties, and because it’s easier to keep them watered when it’s slightly cooler outside.

I also decided to change up the trellis for the fall garden. This old setup with the rigid panel made it difficult to reach through to the middle of the garden. It also didn’t seem very feng shui.


I needed something more flexible, that would allow tieing up tomatoes and beans in other parts of the box. To achieve this I decided to turn the cattle panel into a roof instead of a wall. Using a few more piece of conduit and zip ties, this is what I came up with:


So far it seems to be a much more workable system. Here is the mound of pole beans climbing up the string:


And the string on the trellis:


The overall garden: