Saturday, July 12, 2014

Catching up

If I'm not doing a good job of keeping things current, it's because I have a life to lead and precious little time to devote typing away here in the sweltering hot box that is this house. 

We are well into a week of 90 degree days. It is hot, baby!

With my weather complaint out of the way, as well as my semi-hapless apology for not keeping up, let's get caught up on what's been happening.

The Solstice Party went off without a hitch. We figured we were visited by about 40 people throughout the course of the evening. There was a ton of food, a ton of libations and frivolity and fun prevailed throughout the night. I think I was even in bed before 3...with the house basically cleaned up.

My sister, Stacey was in town from California and spent most of the night taking requests on the piano.

Last weekend, we were visited by my pal Arn-Dawg and his family as they conduct their whirl-wind tour of the Pacific Northwest. Arnie and his daughter Rebecca drove from San Fran via Bend, Oregon. Arnie's wife Haley joined us the next day when she flew in and spent a few days with us before venturing up to Priest Lake for a week up there. They had a great week of above average temperatures so I'm sure they enjoyed themselves. From Priest, they head to Yellowstone and more camping.

While here, I learned about Soccer because Arnie is a Soccer fan and the World Cup is going on. We went out to Cd'A to spend the day with another childhood pal, Robba and his clan. It was a great Saturday on the water.

Now we are back to normal here in Spokane but weathering very hot days. It's supposed to get over 100 on Sunday.

I attended two funerals today. The first was for our neighbor, Margie Arndt. She discovered a large tumor on her liver back in May and she died July 2nd. That was a tough one but I'm glad she was able to get out of the hospital and die at home. I'm also glad it happened quickly for her.

The second was for Fred Utter, the father of my friend Rick. Fred was 84 and like Margie, knew the end was coming and made a deliberate decision to allow it to happen. It was a very nice service and I went with Mom. We saw lots of people there that we had not seen in forever.

That's the great thing about funerals. The dead bring the living together.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


It's getting serious now. We are a week away from our Annual Solstice Party. I'm not sure "Annual" is appropriate since we didn't have the party last year.

In any event, we are having it this year, even though it's a week late. It just wasn't going to happen otherwise.

So the pressure is on to get this house and the accompanying grounds up to a state of party readiness. This gauge is measured in Susan Stress Units. So far, we are in pretty good shape with the S.S.U.'s at about 6. Anything above 8 S.S.U.'s is bad for me. That's when I am at my most stupid.

Saturday was a lost day for Susan because she had to work her catering job in the afternoon. She puttered around, did a little more varnishing on the armour, and some cleaning.

As for me, I'm not sure what I did. I think I puttered mostly. I did a little cleaning as well. Oh...I just remembered. I did a massive cleaning of the upstairs balcony. I went so far as to be on my knees with a scrub brush cleaning the tile.

Today was where the cleaning got serious. Susan broke out the vacuum and went to town. I worked in the yard. I edged the whole yard. I cleaned up all the excess edging and then I mowed.

After that, I got to work on the hot tub. I had drained it a while back and it was time for a good cleaning. I wish I would have had the pressure washer from last week. That would have been handy.

So now the tub is clean, the yard looks great and I am beat.

We went to dinner at Webster's, a nearby bar that has $5.00 Happy Hour meals all day Sunday. Susan and I each had a beer and a sandwich and we paid $13.00 plus tip.

Now the day is over and I'm going to bed.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Obligatory Sunday Post

If it's Sunday, it must mean it is time for a post.

It's a cloudy, semi rainy day and we are doing a few odds and ends things. 

A couple weeks ago, Susan got on the project of staining the Armour we bought about nine years ago. It has been a slow process but we are winding it up today. We cleaned out all the stuff in it, and stained the innards. I am working on the shelves.

I brought the power washer home from work on Friday and used it on the deck yesterday.
Look at the difference. I don't think this pictures does it justice. I will have to remember that this needs to be done every year. There was quite a build up of weeds and roof material and general crap in the gaps between the boards. Not to mention how dirty the boards themselves were. You just don't realize it when they are all uniformly dirty.

I drained the hot tub, which was loooong over due. The water was kind of green. Now that the weather has warmed up, we don't use the hot tub as much which means I forget to keep the chemicals current. So, I'll be getting to cleaning that up and out later this coming week when the weather gets better.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Project Day

I had a long list of lots of things that needed to be accomplished yesterday. I kind of got through one of them.

It was essentially a wasted day due to my left knee. 

The saga of my left knee has been thoroughly covered in an alternate blog that details the many interesting facets of my health. If one was to care, and there is no reason one should, one could access and check out the entry for November 22nd, 2011. That has the basic info about my knee.

It locked up on me yesterday at about 5AM. It woke me up. This was the longest stretch it has gone before returning to normal. It lasted 26 hours. It was stuck when I went to bed. I got out of bed this morning and felt the stuck knee. By the time I walked down the hall, it was back to normal and I could straighten it, walk on it, it with no pain. Now I have a crap load of things to do today and it's already noon.


Project Number One: Remove the crap gutter from above the front door. The gutter I put up last year is a cheapo piece of crap. I have a guy coming tomorrow to professionally put up a full gutter across the front of the house with down spouts.

Project Number Two: Last coat of paint on the backdoor porch.

Project Number Three: Mow!

Project Number Four: Clean the Deck.

Susan had her own projects going which started with making a casserole for our sick neighbor.

Then she got out to the front yard and finished planting the flower beds. She got through the west side one yesterday and finished up today with the eastern one. There is still more to plant but that was a solid days work.

Among the plants she put in, the is a Hasta that we placed some of my sisters ashes under. So that is now the Sherry Memorial Hasta.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Vegetation Report

I'm just going to take a quick moment and comment about my vineyard and hopsyard.
From left to right, you see a Gewurztraminer Grape, a Sterling Hops, a Cabernet Franc Grape, a Hallertau Hops, and a Concord Grape.

I think everything looks really great right now. The hops are growing like crazy and the three grape vines are doing well and already showing signs of grapes to come.

What I really like is the Hallertau and how lush it is. That thing has giant leaves on it and completely covers the post upon which it clings.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Tasks for June One

It's the first day of June so that means it's June First and that means a new month has come forth here on the first day of the Sixth month and I have completely wasted the first paragraph of this post.

Susan is determined to put a strike across the "To Do" list for the Living Room. She is seeking to put some sort of a sealer over the painted stencils to protect them from scratches.

I am working on placing a strike through the back door porch item on the "To Do" list. We've been trying to figure out what type of flooring to put there and we have settled on a thick kind rubberized coating for decks.

Let's see how we do.

11:09 PM: The day is done. Gone the sun, from the lake from the sea from the sky...blah blah blah

Let's start with Susan's project. We purchased a clear varathane sealer in a spray can to try and secure the stenciling for posterity. Susan tried it on the sample tile and was not happy with the result. We both concluded...separately and at about the same time...that the stencils were fine as they are. It's not like we have wild uncontrolled dingo's running through the house.
So, it's official! The Living Room is done!

Here is how the back door looked once Phil completed his work.

I really like the way the rail came out. It now matches the railing on the front porch and the deck.

Before I got to work on the floor, Susan reminded me that it might be wise to get some primer on the railing. I reluctantly agreed that was a good idea. I really wanted to get the floor painted to see how it would look.
The floor is a large piece of half inch plywood with an ever so not so slight angle to it. We thought it should have a slight slope to encourage water to roll away from the porch. Phil made it mostly level with a sudden slope. You kind of feel like you're drunk when you're walking off it.

I've been looking around for some sort of flooring to put down. Short of replacing the tongue and groove planks that were there, there really was no good option I found.

So, we settled for this deck coating paint that goes down really thick and gives you a little grip. Above are the picture of the can and the formula for future reference.
With the railing primed with an initial coat, I finally got to work on the floor. I've only got one coat down so far and I'm not sure I'm going to like this stuff.

I was hoping this would do a better job of concealing the fact that this floor is a piece of plywood. We shall see how it looks after the next couple of coats.

Since Susan finished her stenciling project, she got to work on the flower beds out front.

The day concluded with a Graduation Party for my nephew, Peyton. He graduated a year early from High School and is not sure about what happens next. His brother, Burke, also graduated from College this year and has some plans for the summer that include working as a Counselor at Camp Nor'Wester over on the coast.

Here are some pictures.
 There are the three graduates, Peyton, Burke and Peyton friend, Connor.

This is a tree the kids planted and placed the ashes of their mom (my sister, Sherry) beneath it.

All in all, a good weekend!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Next Project

We've started a new project that I think will be completed pretty quickly and for a minimal outlay of cashola.
The flooring at the back door has been bad since we moved in almost ten years ago. It was crappy out carpeting covering a rotting piece of plywood.

I pulled all that up the other and found the original tongue and groove wood flooring that was laid down when the house was built. It's in pretty bad shape as well so...
That had to come up as well.

At this point, I called Handy Phil to come and put down a new, level sub floor. As usual, it's going to be more difficult than expected because we have to jack up the post in order to set a solid foundation for the whole floor.
The other thing I didn't consider is the post at the bottom of that stair rail.
It's pretty much rotted through and needs to be replaced, as you can see from the life-like photographic representation above.

I was hoping to use the flooring I took up from the entry way when we installed the tile but I don't have enough of it to cover the area. That means we'll be shopping for some nice outdoor flooring during the Memorial Weekend.

Susan is continuing her stencil work on the fireplace and is getting ever so much closer to completing the project.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Advantage of Security Cameras

My hops plants are doing quite well. The Hallertau has reached the top of the arbor and the Sterling is not far behind. I had a problem with the Sterling because the shoots kind of fell over near the top and then started growing up again.

I had to tie up the shoots which led to this bit of comedy caught on camera.
Here I am stepping off the chair, not realizing the cat's water bucket is right below me.
Here I hit the bucket and start the long decent into loss of balance.
Pivot points change, weights shift, the square of the hypotenuse intersects the cosine of my ass. I really don't think I need to comment beyond this point.
Amazingly, no injury, no bruises.
Just a dumb ass looking at the camera, wondering if that got recorded.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Skunk Times Two

I have been thinking for a while that it looks like there are two different skunks hanging out under the Skunk Cam. I was able to confirm it today.
The skunk on the right is MY skunk (Patty LaPue) who currently resides under the Carriage House. The one on the left (Stinky Usurper) is not from around here. Stinky comes by to check out the area but has never gone under the Carriage House.

I left Patty a little treat last night because I wanted her to be healthy. I cut up a hotdog and put it in a little bowl. I didn't get any video of her eating it but lots of footage of her after the meal.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Salute to T.J.

We had to say good-bye to T.J. today. I came home last night and found him splayed on the couch and I thought he was dead. It turns out he went into a diabetic coma. I got him down to the Emergency Vet and they stabilized him but we think he had some loss of oxygen to the brain as he was having seizures and temperature spikes and not responding well. It did not look hopeful that he would recover so we had to make the hard decision.

A note from Susan:
T.J. - his full name being Thomas Jerald because when I first got him someone said he looked like the Tom and Jerry cartoon kitty - was an amazing, one-of-a-kind cat. He was definitely our Alpha kitty and I have to admit, my favorite. He was a good hunter and brought several birds, mice and even an earthworm through the cat door in my last house to show off. What a character! He did this unusual movement with his front paws in which he looked like he was waving. I called it the "paw thing". When he was little he would rise up on his haunches and do the "paw thing" whenever he saw something unusual, but when he got older he would mostly do it when sitting on my lap. You can go to the blog post of January 31st, 2011 to see him do it. I will miss you my dear, sweet kitty boy and I will never forget you.

He is missed!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Pictured above is a hole that is going to be the subject of a recurring theme.
It will undoubtedly be featured here several times over the next several weeks because of the extraordinary wonder that nature yields. 
This is the west side of the Carriage House. That's right, we have a Carriage House. We have no Carriage, but when we do, it has a House. The unique feature of the west side is that it is the one area where nature can make its way under the building.

We have dealt with nature getting under there before and we have not enjoyed the encounter. And...that's a little strong. I thoroughly enjoyed the encounter but it required a great deal of extra work on my part.
The extra work to which I refer involves trapping and relocating pole cats. I have been battling a skunk for some time now that had been trying to dig under. She finally beat me. And I do believe that's a she.

So now I have the proof. I've seen her come out and go back in. I tried blocking her out and she made it back through. Skunks can dig!

So, I am expecting 4 to 7 little bundles of stink come popping out soon. Maybe within a couple weeks.

Skunk watching wasn't the only thing accomplished this weekend. I tending to the hops and the grape vines. I laid down some ant bait. I did some high level security work that I don't care to discuss here. I did a little pre-yard yard work. It's just the stuff you do before the other stuff you do.
I racked my current batch of beer, a clone of Alaskan Amber. This has been an odd brew. It reactivated itself after the first racking and got very active again. It kind of boogered up my cool new vapor lock.

Anyway, it's been almost three weeks and it's not yet ready to keg. That okay! I'm not yet ready to drink it. But it's coming!