A Manly Weekend

boxingThis weekend was the first weekend without travel or work in over 2 months!  Needless to say I was pretty excited to sleep in and log some serious pajama hours.  However, once the weekend hit and the morning crept into early afternoon I got a case of restless manliness syndrome which can only be solved with the proper use of power tools and getting dirty.  So instead of the slipper-clad weekend of relaxation, I had a weekend filled with checking items off the ole to do list.

Friday night we kicked things off with a late night!  Kate and I went to the WAM (Wichita Art Museum) holiday party, danced the night away, and ended up shutting down one of our favorite bars after a few scotches and tumbleweeds for desert.  If you don’t know what a tumbleweed is…you’re missing out!  One of the joys of pregnancy (if you are not the pregnant one) is having a designated driver.  However, the driver can at any time say she wants to go home and you MUST honor that immediately!  She is growing a person and can quickly feel left out if everyone crosses over from tipsy to slurry.

Luminaries_CandyCanesSaturday my lovely wife Kate was kind enough to let me sleep in…which I desperately needed after the week I had…and the 1:00 am tumbleweed!  After a short respite on the couch getting my bearings it was brought to my attention that we needed to have our Christmas luminaries setup by nightfall for the neighborhood Christmas Light Party.  Now this is an easy enough task, but the way I run the power for the luminaries is directly tied into the rest of the stuff we setup such as the lamp-post in the front yard and the garland over the door…so they both need to get done at the same time.  PLUS I had an idea for an addition I wanted to make to this year’s display; so a few trips to the hardware store later, some dirty jeans, and aching backs…my wife and I created “Candy Can Lane.”

Candy Cane Lane
Candy Cane Lane

MaxDadShocksWe enjoyed a brief respite before heading downtown to Charles Koch Arena where my undefeated WSU Shockers beat Northern Colorado!  This season we have been taking Max to the games and getting him used to sitting still during the halves which is no easy task.  The last game he was an angel…this game he got antsy and started fussing quite a bit in the second half, but he survived.  The downside is that he goes home and shoots about 500 baskets in a row on his mini-hoop and if you don’t watch him he gets very upset.  The upside is he has mastered the dunk, the short jumper, and is working on his three-pointer (no joke).

Sunday morning I got up and chased the chicken…Max is the chicken.  Ever chased a chicken?  A 2-year-old is a chicken.  As I had breakfast I stared at the TV sitting on top of my bar.  Its been sitting on top of my bar since we moved into this house over a year ago with the intention to mount it to the wall.  Last month I bought the mount finally…but after only finding 1 stud with the stud-finder I decided to wait till I had some time to do the job properly.  This seemed like the time.  I pulled the bar away from the wall, disconnected the TV wires, put down a drop cloth, and poked a small hole in the wall.  Then I inserted a wire coat hanger to confirm the stud I had found.  Yup…there it was.  Then I went looking for the stud I couldn’t find which should have been 12-16 inches to the left…but nothing there till the hanger hit the air register…but the register didn’t make a metal sound.  Something fishy going on.  Only one solution…open up the wall.  Kate took Max to another room.

A short while later and a massive mess I had cleared a 1 foot by one foot square where I wanted the center of my TV to be.  This was a rough task as my house is so old that the walls are made of cement sheetrock on lathe.  This means everything you do causes the cement sheetrock to crumble and turn to dust.  Once I confirmed it was hallow behind where I was working I took the electric hacksaw and cut through the sheetrock and lathes.  Now that I had a big enough hole to see what was going on and get tools inside the wall it was easy to see my problem.  First, stud finders rarely work on lathe walls because there is wood everywhere.  Second, there was a beam right on the side of the air register…I can mount my TV!  However, it was clear to see that when the bathroom on the other side of the wall got remodeled they made adjustments and added horizontal studs to reinforce the new drywall wall and plumbing.  I drilled a 1 and a quarter-inch tester hole into the middle of the stud and found a lead pipe directly on the bottom of it (downspout from upstairs bathroom).  I reached in with my fingers and found the spot where I could drill and proceeded to open up a 2 inch hole for cables.  Next I measured out for my outlet by the baseboard and aligned it with where the TV center will be and the appropriate height for my electrical outlets as well.  I fed my longest and most durable cable through from the top hole to the baseboard hole and captured it with the hook of the hanger so it was perfectly snaked from top to bottom.  Then I taped my next cable on to that cable and fed it down, pulled the original cable back up a bit, taped the next cable on, fed it down, and repeated till all my cables were snaked.

Because my wall is cement sheetrock I decided to take extra precautions and cut 1/2 inch ply to a 20″ x 28″ sheet with a 3″ hole dead center.  Using 3′ wood screws I mounted this board (with the cables fed through the center hole) to the wall, anchoring my screws along the studs but leaving room for the TV bracket mounting hardware.  Once the board was on and solid I mounted the bracket and drove the bolts through the board, cement sheetrock, lathe, and directly into the wooden studs for added reinforcement.  After that it was a simple task of hanging the TV, snaking the wires through the hardware, hooking everything up, and cleaning up the mess.  The entire install took 6 hours which is understandable with the obstacles my old house threw at me.  I used to do this professionally…but Upper East Side apartments in NYC and 1930’s Wichita houses are very different infrastructures.  Seeing the TV on the wall was like scratching an itch that has been bugging me for years.  I knew that project was going to be a beast (like the upcoming re-treading of the basement stairs) but it is done!  The reward is not only having it look nice but we got our bar back, which Kate quickly began  arranging with decorations and holiday gear.

TV on the wall with full articulating arm and hidden wires.
TV on the wall with full articulating arm and hidden wires.

This weekend was one of those weekends you’re proud to be a home owner.  This is my damn wall and I’ll take a hacksaw to it if I want to!  Sometimes getting dusty, dirty, and sweaty is exactly what you need to relax.  I know I’ll veg out Christmas weekend…till then I’ve got some projects that may need to get done…if I can get off the couch and stop staring at my mounted TV!

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