Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A capsule of the last few weeks - and a test of some software

I'm testing out some blogging software.  What I had been using has now gone wonky and ??? if they will ever fix it.  But part of the scarcity of posts is lack of a decent tool.


But I digress....


So, We had fall bounce out close to the last time I posted.IMG 1075


A pause for an interesting sign.


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OK back on topic...

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Then Monty got dressed up for Halloween.


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And the green bushes in the back finally decided it was fall.


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Then it turned cold and we started using the fireplace(s).

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And Thanksgiving came.  I failed miserably in documenting it so all I have is the morning after shot of the Big ass table (actually two end to end.  It's not so easy to see here but there was plenty of room for more table!

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And then Winter arrived.  On the 30 of Nov. we had a bit of the white stuff.


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The stubby maple is still pretending it's fall but pretty much everything else has given up.

The recovered dining room.  Thetable in the back is what extended the main table for Tday.

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For those that know, we have everything in here we had in SF plus a trunk and the second table.  It's kind of mind boggling.

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The once red bushes a week or so later.

It's cold but we only have gotten light snow so you get some pretty interesting images like this one.


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And it's nippy enough in the back bedroom at night the the beast has no problem snugling up.


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well thats


Monday, October 10, 2011

The big questions

After the why did you move?, comes:

Did you move on a lark?

I HATE to move, so if it's a lark it's not mine.

Did you know how much it would cost to fix up the house?

Yes and no. It's coming in at almost exactly what I said it would but it's not exactly where I thought it would be spent. And we thought it would spread out over a number of years instead of whacking us all at the same time. O the flip side we will have very must do tasks left.

How can you stand the weather?

I kind of like it. We will have AC next summer so those few really nasty days will be livable, but most of it has been pretty nice. Of course we are heading into winter and that is going to be cold.But, and this is a big ?, so far I like that you have to change things around. You can't wear the same cloths, the same food doesn't really work, etc. It's a little like the Olympics. Was it was once every four years it was special and we all looked forward to it and planned around it, at least a little. Now that there is one every four years it's almost always happening or getting ready to happen... kind of boring. So I'm looking forward to winter because it will be loaded with things that can't be done in the summer. The Bay Area doesn't have a lot of seasonal change, there is some. But san Francisco has a lot less than the East Bay and it all mushestogether a bit. Now ask me in a year if I'm looking forward to winter and it might be a different take.

OK still no pictures but soon really.


So this is what they were talking about!Maybe.

For the first time in months it's warmer in SF than it is here, though that should change in a day or two. Bur SF you go from warm to cold going across the city but here it's pretty consistent in the day. But... Sat was in the 90's, Sun it was nice in the low 80's, Mon. it was in the 50's. That is SF kind of weather. We have had a few days of 50's - 60's so if it's a trend it's "Welcome to Fall". Lots of squash in the market, but still a lot of berries. Where did the summer go. But we are definitely heading into fall.

So time to do winter...

Apple season is just coming in so cider time! And I just got the summer brews in a good place.

OK so winter brews, hard cider, apple jack etc.

house news.

The doorbell is working again, it got broken in the heating adventure (might have been me pulling down pipes).

Wow I started this a while ago... So sorry about the delays. It's been chaos, mostly of my mind.

Well I will finish this off quickly and try to get a better one up in the next day or so.

Roof is almost done, looks great.Heating is done except for inspections and closing walls.The exterior has had some adventures but gets closed up tomorrow and then a week needs to go be before they can paint and then the roofers have to do the portico.

I have to get off my but and give the front drain another shot. If we can't seal it we will have to bypass it and put a redo for that bathroom on a list for another year. It would mean disabling the bath tub but everything else would work.

I have heard from a little bird that the film incentives are getting largely reinstated so things are looking up.

And we are going to be featured in an article in the Detroit Free Press.

Unrelated to that...There is a pop up biergarten that has been happening every Sun. and I have been helping out and I got captured a bit on film so I'm also in the Detroit News.


And Monty won cutest dog at the Living in the V event.

So pictures next time

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'll be fixing some holes... my mind is wandering


Holes, Vacuuming the dust from all those holes, All those damn holes, Calling someone to fix all those damn holes.






I think there is a theme here. We are beginning to refer to the guys as the gods of Destruction. It turns out "minimally invasive" means that they don't strip the walls back to the studs. For some silly reason we thought "a few holes" didn't include ripping two foot wide channels up walls and into ceilings (and cross your fingers , not yet across any ceilings).


To be fair they figured we had balloon construction which is common with this vintage but low and behold we had much sturdier construction. Good in general, bad for running forced air ducting. ANd they would have had to rip into a lot of the same places to get to the water lines that were broken so...It's still a lot of ravage for the poor old house. It's also going to be a LOT of repair work after the fact.

I was pretty resigned to the fact that the house was going to be a construction site till all the work was done, so while it's a bit more than I expected it is in the general ball park. Aislinn however missed the first round when the plumbers were chopping holes (smaller and MUCH fewer) so I think she is kind of in shock right now. Until you go through it it's hard to comprehend the shear volume of dust and that it gets EVERYWHERE. Till they are done and we can really vacuum this dust will be in everything we own and eat.


To a lesser extent it will happen again when we close up all the holes.

But then we will be able to actually start unpacking!

On an up note the deck is almost back together.


And Monty found a new playmate (appropriately named for the houses condition "Dusty").


The electrical is almost done with the first phase.

Bottled yesterday while the power was off, so were stocking up!

so long from the BigD

- 30 -

Friday, August 26, 2011

Al Grain, no Pain

A quickie on brewing in the hood because the beer festival is looming...

So on coming to the big D and regaining some space one thing I really wanted to do was get back into brewing and up my game a bit.

Extract brewing is good but it's a bit expensive and a bit limiting and I wanted to be a bit more "off the grid".

So That is what it has been, mostly. I had some extract from before so I have used a bit in some of the brews but mostly all grain.

First I tried the Brew in a Bag. I like the idea and will revisit but with out being able to get or make a big enough bag (we are still mostly in boxes remember) it was not super successful. Or it was successful but I had to use a fair amount of extract because of the bag limit..

Then I went crazy and tried to do a Pari-Gayle brew. I did but when your living out of boxes it's silly to try a complicated brew day. That was two smaller batches of tasty beer but ...

Then I had this fruit that needed to be used and was over ripe so I brewed a weird mix of fruit juice and grain that is really refreshing. A crazy brew of malt plus plums, apples and peaches with some ginger thrown in in a fit of madness.

Then I calmed down and did an American Pale ale. I had a lot of two year old hops so I calculated the loss in bitterness but I guess I stored them better than I thought and ended up with more of an IPA than a PA but still very good.

In the fermentor right now is, or should be, closer to what I was aiming for last time.

I have also managed to scrounge up some used kegs and scored a great deal on a CO2 tank, so this or the next brew may go into a keg! How cool is that.

Cooling might be an issue but I have plans for a way to cool keg to tap and in the winter...

In future I'm planning to do a bunch of hard cider when apples come in and then turn that into Apple Jack over the winter. If it works I will probably put that in my ale keg and let it sit for a year or so and have it ready for Thanksgiving 2012 or 2013. Actually since I may end up with three or four gallons It may come out many years running...

Speaking of T Day. We set up the table the other day. We can't find some of the parts (they are in a box someplace...) but I stuck a dowel in and used some cedar shingle shims. We even had guests for dinner the other day. So we have no idea how many people are going to show for T day. It's looking like probably under ten, which as many of you know is way down from the 30-40 of recent years. But you never know.

Cheers from the Big D

- 30 -

Radiating Pain

I had mentioned before that we had a little hiccup with the heating system...

Well essentially all the radiators are trash and way to many of the feed pipes also, SO.
we had to give up and move to forced air. To save some bucks I with some help from Aislinn did most of the "demo", cutting out the old heating system pipes and stacking them up. It's kind of cool actually but 4" steel pipes are HEAVY!

The pile grows...

Slice and dice baby!

Back at the boiler it looks really cool...

And then there were none...

So now they are cutting holes in the walls all over the place to run the vents...

On an up note Aislinn got to experience the joys of the old super wimpy 20 gal electric water heater.

Side bar, did I mention that the fridge and washer drier she ordered showed up? Big fridge, lots O ice, mmmm. Somehow it was OK for me to live off a dorm fridge but.... well anyway the big bertha arrived and we can now shop at CostCo again ;~)

So anyway she also had little tolerance with no washing machine. So it all arrived and I hooked up the washer (drier needed a gas line run, and a couple of loads with warm water and that emptied the tank. Now I knew from the dark days when the water heater was just turned on that it takes a couple of days to get hot. Well Aislinn took a shower after the washing and was less than thrilled. When after two days it still was not really hot, replacing that sucker moved way up her list.

So since the heating guys were just kicking back now that they didn't have to deal with the boiling beast she made them put in a new on demand water heater!! WhoHoo! They got a smaller one than they wanted because of the price point so this one only does 8.5 gal a minute.... So basically we could have showers going in all four of the bathrooms (if they all had showers) and still be able to wash dishes. And we could do that continuously till we all turned into prunes.

And the electricians have arrived...

They are not going to do a huge amount right now. Check out what is here, Ground the system, it's the little things that count. And put a whole house surge protector so everything doesn't get fried in the next storm.

They are also going to run power for the shop. It's now located where the furnace and water heater used to be. Bigger space, better access and a flue for those fumey things like welding and a forge? ;!) (probably not but one can dream...).

There is a lot more usable space "down under" now that there isn't heating pipes running all over.

In taking down the piping I found a few pipes that probably would have popped once the system was up and running. Ones that I started cutting and had just break off. With the auto feeder on the boiler it could have pumped a LOT of water into the basement before we noticed something was wrong. So sad as it is it's probably a god thing that we have moved beyond the radiators.

Also we may have cut the heating bill by 2/3rds. That is the guess at the efficiency difference. And it can be switched to do cooling also. If Aislinn finds out that we can do geothermal (sounds strange like personal nukes but it's the new thing, not too expensive and completely passive once it's in) we can hook that into this heater and it would have been complicated with the boiler.

So long from the Big D.

Soon it will be time for !) the big beer festival and 2) the huge jazz festival.


Mish mash and smish smash

So I will try to cover a bunch of time.

So I got back, we had a lot of heat and then it has been mostly pleasant weather wise.

The tree trimmers are still going sporadically. Partly because there have been a few storms through and partly (I think) because it's down to "topping" the elm which is around 120 feet tall. Me personally... it would be a freezing day in hell before you got me up there, it is scary tall. To put it in perspective if you were up where they need to be and fell you would fall about 80 feet before you hit the peak of our roof and that is three stories + the roof up. The guys who fixed the chimney were a bit in awe of the tree trimmers and that guy was sitting on top of the chimney (~40 up) with no safety line!

Oh and we had the fireplaces inspected and "pointed" and a new flue put on one and spark arresters on the rest.

A pause for some Eastern market food porn.

Well that was good for me, you?

OK so we are in the middle of construction and destruction all at the same time. Aislinn is hot to get everything painted AND we needed to do that behind the radiators while they were pulled for the system test. So most rooms have color tests in them now.

And the room that was falling off the house, kind of we needed to jack up and support. Well they needed to see inside the floor to make sure jacking it up wouldn't break the kitchen ceiling. So since that room was tiled and those would break when we jacked it up level I needed to remove the tiles. They came up pretty easy but they were laid on concrete board. Think sheetrock but made from concrete. The folks laying it down were of the "belt and suspenders" crowd (folks who don't trust either and so wear both). And they glued AND screwed it down with determination. That meant basically breaking it all into small pieces with a hammer drill.

So this room

Became this room

And slowly all these little rocks got cleared away

In this bucket

And a lot of sweat

And we got down to the boards and then beyond...

You probably can't see it in this shot but the first three joists are cracked because of the "falling" room.

But then Ray and Ron rode in on white stallions, or maybe it was a car? and ripped open the deck below and put in some posts that could actually hold some weight. They also jacked up the room. It had sagged over an inch on one end and just under an inch on the other. FYI that is a LOT of sag for the five or so feet that hangs over the deck.

Old semi-useless posts.

Though they had replaced older and even less useful posts...

Now with all new and really useful posts

OK next, radiating pain...