Tuesday, September 29, 2009


There is a cat that hangs around here I call Mr. G. The G is for gray - he's a beautiful gray tuxedo guy. He's been around for a couple of years and, I think, belonged to someone once upon a time. He was a young adult who had been neutered and had a collar when I first met him. Over the years it has become obvious that whoever had him in the beginning was no longer around. He's a very sweet and loving guy and would make someone a great pet. However, he has no love for being in the house. I've tried to take him in a couple of times and he is clearly uncomfortable inside. He did take refuge with us during the hurricane last year and seemed to realize it was the best place to be for the duration.

I always leave small bowls of food and water out front for Mr. G as he doesn't seem to want to go in the back with the ferals. If I leave the garage door open he spends many days sprawled out on the top of the Jeep. I guess he feels safe up there and can catch all the breezes. He will go off for a while several times during the day and then come back. Of course I wonder where he goes and the other day I found one of his other "perches".

I was out looking for him and something made me look up in the tree.

I caught sight of white paws and upon closer inspection, there was Mr. G, securely settled among the limbs like a jungle cat. His perch seems very secure, even when the wind was blowing.

He's not always there, but I'm glad he's found another secure place to while away the day.
This is a picture taken of Mr. G last year when someone had put a collar on him. Isn't he just the handsomest thing?


I should have blogged about this before, but I have just over a day left on a special ebay listing. I've listed a beautiful set of books of The Arabian Nights on ebay for a dear friend. Her late husband was an avid book collector and now she is having to sell off his collection. This 16 volume set is in near mint condition and listed at a very good price, but I will consider all offers. Check out the listing here http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=320426498563&ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT and let me know what you think. If you know any book collectors, please pass this on as this set would make a wonderful addition to any library.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Well, it's that time of the month again. No, I don't mean that special visit from Mother Nature! I'm talking about the Quilters Corner Group's Red Tag Sale. Again this month you will find lots of great deals on lots of neat stuff!! I myself have a few listings that all start at $.99 so go to Ebay and search QCG Red Tag to find the sale items.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I just wanted to report that the rescued puppy, Midnight, has found her forever home! Neighbor ran an ad on Craigslist and, after two weeks, finally got two responses in a row. The first was a lady and her granddaughter, age 11, whose previous dog had died a while back. Neighbor visited with them and decided they would be a good match. Midnight has been with them for about a week and is settling in nicely. Everyone is very happy at the great outcome of this rescue.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I can't tell you how amazing it was to see the cracks close up and the doors work properly after the foundation leveling. In the master bedroom I hadn't been able to close the closet door for a long, long time. The best I could do was to slam it as hard as I could to lodge it in the space and keep the cats out. The frame around the door was actually slipping off the sheetrock and the crack was making its way across the wall. There was such a gap between the frame and the door on entry to the master bedroom, that I had to shim out the strike plate with cardboard, nuts and washers just to keep the door latched. For the hall bath there was the same problem as the closet door. Also in the hall, the doors to the A/C unit and the hot water heater would open at will. There was a space under the wall between the garage and the house that got to be at least 1" and it ran from the master bedroom, thru the laundry area and into the kitchen. The walls above the door to the garage and the entry from the dining area to the kitchen were separating from the ceiling. The front door was sticking and there were assorted cracks everywhere.

In the small amount of time that it took to actually jack up the foundation, the vast marjority of those problems either disappeared or diminished. You have to see it so I'm posting some before and after pics. I hope that helps you to see what a difference this dusty, dirty, noisy process made.


Above the door from the kitchen to the garage. See the space at the top and the crack from the corner of the door?

This is the door from the dining area to the kitchen seen from the dining area side.

This is the infamous closet door. That's as closed as it would get. Look at the crack - there was a matching one on the other side and you could see the light through it.


Look, ma!! No more space above the wall!

The most amazing transformation of all - the closet door!

There are still a lot of cracks to patch, but they are closed cracks. I've been told to wait about 60 days to do any patching which is fine with me. It will be cool weather and much better for patching and painting.

I hope everyone has learned something about foundation problems in Houston and the great work that can be done to fix them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Sorry to be so long between parts, but I've had lots of errands to run and a fridge to restock. And the rain makes me lazy. Oh, well! lol

So where were we? Ah, yes. The concrete has been removed and the holes have been dug. The most remarkable part is just beginning. For the most part they have tried to place the piers under the foundation beams as that will affect more of the foundation with fewer piers.
When the holes are dug, they have dig out to the side as well as down so they have a place to drive the piers. The way the holes are dug there is a place for the worker to sit while they drive the piers. Take note - when they are sitting in the holes, the tops of their heads are at about floor level. Those are deep holes!!!

To drive the piers they use an electric kind of jack that appears to use the weight of the foundation above to help move the piers down thru the dirt to bedrock. They use round concrete piers that are about a foot high and maybe 8" in diameter. (These are my estimates from observation and not from actually measuring. ) As I remember it took about 16 of these to reach bedrock!! This is not a quick process, but it a bit less labor intensive than the digging. These cylinders also have a small hold in the center into which rebar is inserted for extra strength.
Once the piers are all driven the the real fun begins. They bring a hand-operated jack into each hole and the foundation is jacked up all at the same time. They do a few pumps of the jack, measure, more pumps, until the foundation is level. The change is so subtle, but so dramatic. Example - my computer armoire fits into a corner that is in the approximate middle of the house. For a while now I had to keep a hold on the sliding keyboard drawer while typing to keep it from rolling back into the unit. I was working on the computer while they were doing the leveling and it suddenly occured to me that the drawer wasn't rolling back any more.

After everything is confirmed level, they they put a rectangular block of concrete on top and then two smaller cylinders on top of that. Then they have to start filling in the holes. That means bringing all the dirt back in. After filling the holes they water in the dirt to be sure it's well packed. Then they pour concrete patches over the dirt and all is pretty well finished. To make sure there were no kitty prints or Barbara prints in the concrete, they placed the same boards over them that they had used to cover the holes overnight. The did boost them up with some of the metal shims they use to let air come in to hasten the curing. (They used the excess dirt to fill in around the foundation where the shrinkage had opened voids.)

I also had to have one new pier outside, just past the front door and the process is the same except for the concrete patches. The crew was nice enough to put some concrete around a fence post that had been loosened by the digging. Believe me, that post won't be going anywhere for a long, long time!!!

At the beginning they had planned to shim up some existing piers located under the wall between the garage and the house, but they also ended up having to shim up two more on one outside wall of the garage.

I have to commend this crew from Atlas Foundations for their professionalism and courtesy. The tolerated my curiosity about the process and answered all my questions to my satisfaction. I would have them work in my house again in a minute!

This is just the dirt from the bedroom and hall!
The dirt from the kitchen was out in the driveway.

Driving the piers outside.

Driving the piers inside (in the kitchen).
See how deep this hole is?

After the foundation is jacked up.
Can you see the space between the slab and the top of the dirt?
It's about 4"!

Finally, the work is done!

Tomorrow I'll post the "after" pics. Really amazing stuff!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Ok, I'm back for Part 2. The first thing the crew leader did was to review what the other guy had proposed. Then I showed him all the cracks and gaps and doors. He took lots of measurements with a neat little gadget that shows how much difference there is in elevation for the different areas of the house. After much looking and measuring, a decision was made to put three piers on the kitchen through 2 holes, the same in my bedroom with one in the hall. They also needed an outside pier, just past the front door. Three piers under the wall between the garage and house needed to be shimmed up, too. One of the "big guys" with the company also came by and agreed with the proposed work. He also kept saying that the house was in bad shape. I wanted to tell him to can it, but I also wanted a good job done, so I kept my mouth shut.

The first thing they have to do to dig the holes is to jackhammer away the concrete. That was the most fun (not) of the whole deal. Luckily the workers knew what they were doing and got the job done pretty quickly. And there wasn't nearly as much dust generated as I had expected. I had put a new filter in the A/C and had to change it again the next day when they were finished. Wow!

After opening up the concrete, they have to dig the holes by hand. Yes, by hand!!! And once they got past the top layer, the soil was very hard and it took them a long, long time to get it all dug out. Of course on a couple of the holes they had to go in two directions for the two piers. They did get a couple of other crews out there late in the day, but it was too crowded for them to help out much.

So the day ended with deep holes in the kitchen, bedroom and hall that they covered with big pieces of plywood so I wouldn't fall into one and break my leg as I was told another customer had done.

This is in the kitchen where they are breaking up the concrete.

This is looking down the hall into the bedroom .

This is in the kitchen where they've started digging the dirt out.

This is in the bedroom showing one of the plywood sheets they use to cover the holes.

You can see in the pictures that they covered the walls and cabinets with brown paper to protect them. It seemed to work as the only mishap was a bit of mud on the dryer where they were coming in and out of the door from the kitchen to the garage. No holes in the wall, no dings on the doors. And it was tight with those wheelbarrows!! And they covered the kitchen floor with heavy plastic sheets and only cut out where they needed to dig.

Tomorrow - the real work. I'll post pictures of the workers down in those holes driving the piers. Really cool!

Monday, September 7, 2009


Ok, I took 30 some odd pictures of the process of leveling my foundation so I guess I'd better get busy posting them and explaining the process to those of you who are not familiar with it. Believe me, I certainly learned a lot over the two days it took to get my house back on the level.

First I have to explain that the soil in the Houston area moves around a lot. If we were on rock, we would have earthquakes. We also have soil that swells when it gets wet and shrinks when it's hot and dry. The last is what happened to my house. Oh, and almost everyone here has a slab foundation. A few years ago, piers were placed around the front 3/4 of my house as the foundation was beginning to tilt forward. Because of the extreme dry and hot weather we've had this summer, the soil under the middle of the house began to shrink and the middle of my house began to sink. There was as much as a 4" difference in elevation between the highest and lowest part of my house. Yeah! The caused cracks in the sheetrock. doors that wouldn't close all the way or wouldn't stay closed. The worst part was the gap between the bottom of the wall and the floor in some places and the same gap between the top of the wall and the ceiling in others.

Today I'm posting some pictures of some of the problem areas.

Bedroom closet door - you could see the light from the closet through the crack which was on both sides of the wall! And that was as closed as the door would get.

Door from dining room into kitchen - on the other side there was a gap between the top of the wall and the ceiling.

Wall between kitchen and garage - notice gap at top of wall and cracks around door.

Tomorrow I'll post pictures of the beginning of the process. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Today is Day 2 of "after the work." Things are beginning to get back to normal, whatever that is. I walked to the grocery store yesterday for some things to tide me over until I can drive again. Despite it being a bit warm, it was a nice walk. The frozen items in my handmade grocery tote that I carried over one shoulder kept me cool on the return trip.

I've done a once-over with the vacuum and replaced some of the flooring. The crew was able to get the hall flooring up in one big piece. The bedroom, however, will be like a jigsaw puzzle. I've done a few small repairs. One baseboard in the bedroom got popped off when some debris that was under the wall got pushed out. That's been fixed. I also got the folding door between the kitchen and dining room back on track. Also got one strike plate reset, but have a couple more to do. Still lots of stuff to do like caulking and patching, but that needs to wait about 60 days for everything to settle. No problem!!! Actually, once I get the flooring relaid in the bedroom, the only real evidence of the work will be the two concrete patches in the kitchen surrounded by neatly cut out linoleum. Maybe the look will catch on with the HGTV set?

I'll be working on pictures today and hope to start posting them by tomorrow with a full documentation of the process. Meanwhile, I want to thank all those who sent messages of support while I was enduring this process. It really means a lot to me to know that my cyberfriends are there for me.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Well, we are on the second day of the adventure I call "The Leveling of the House". I'll do the full story in a few days, complete with pictures. Needless to say it's been a real experience for me and the kitties. Having a house filled with men, dust, dirt and flies hasn't been fun, but the crew has been gracious and very helpful and all my many questions have been answered to my satisfaction. At about 10:15 today the house was pronounced level. The vast majority of the cracks are now closed and all but one door closes properly. That one just needs to be lowered a bit because the frame itself is out of whack. The crew should be out of my hair and my house early this afternoon and then the clean-up begins. Since the cost of this repair has depleted my vacation funds, I'll spend my time patching cracks and getting the house back to normal.

To compound things, my refrigerator went out on Wednesday. I ran out to Sears and purchased a new one which will be delivered today. Hopefully they will be able to get in the kitchen to hook it up. I thought the foundation crew would be done yesterday, but . . .

I'll be back with lots of pictures as I wanted to document this process. It's interesting and lots of very hard, physical work for the crew.