Thursday, November 20, 2014

Snow Season Begins

We shall mark this day as that in which we received our first fall of snow. It's not major. We didn't get six feet like they are getting in Buffalo, New York.

We got a dusting. A nice soft whitening over the landscape. It continues to snow as I write but I don't believe it is going to be anything substantial.

I need to update events since I've ignored the blog for a couple of weeks.

After a wonderfully warm Autumn, the weather turned icy cold right after Halloween. All of the sudden, it was below freezing and it was hard to adapt to.

Usually one gets the opportunity to slowly acclimate to the slide of the temperature. But this happened so fast, it really felt cold. It still does.

Susan and I were out working in the yard last weekend picking up the last of the leaves and the chill made it difficult to stay out there and complete the task. Our beers stayed icy cold the whole time we worked.

We are getting ready for the busy Holiday Window Painting Season. In fact, we are one week away from the beginning.

Oh joy!

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Hot Tubbin'

We got up at 8 which was really 7, due to the cancellation of Daylight Savings Time. We used the time to kick off the start of Hot Tub Season.

We were only in the hot tub for about 20 minutes so I figure I still have about a half hour of Daylight Savings that I haven't used yet. I may wait to use it later in the week, like when I'm late for something...or want to be.

Friday, October 31, 2014

1,652

I am dead tired which seems appropriate. It has been a long day and the header of this post will let the masses know the reason we are tired. The Trick or Treaters started at 4:30 and we ran out of candy at 8:30. That did not stop them from coming still. We shut down, brought in all the props, pumpkins and Halloween 
paraphernalia and they continued to ring the bell on the dark house. 

The count of Trick or Treaters comes from my neighbor who has someone manning a clicker all evening long. I am confident it is accurate enough for our purposes.

Here are the pictures.







I had the presence of mind to take a video of the yard as well. I hope this works.
video
Thanks to Ron, Kelly, Mark, Randy, Karen and Ellen for helping out with everything. It makes it a lot easier to enjoy the evening when you can rotate between giving out candy, checking out the crowds and scaring young children.

Another successful Halloween is in the casket!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Day Before All Hallows Eve

Susan and I have been working all week in preparation for Halloween. We had about 12 pumpkins to carve and lots of props to get out of storage.

I think we are in pretty good shape for the big day tomorrow. It's a Friday this year so we are expecting a big crowd. The wrench in that monkey is the possibility of rain.

We have still been experiencing an unprecedented Autumn season of warm weather and lovely, mild days. We have not had a freeze yet.

But rain threatens to fall in the late afternoon to early evening.

Here's a couple of pictures of the set up.
 Those are our real pumpkins. We still have about 20 synthetic pumpkins we put out every year.
I am taking the day off from work tomorrow and Susan is off at noon. With the help of a couple of friends, we should be ready for the onslaught by dusk.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

We Are NOT Dead!

It's the start of the Halloween Season so the Heading seemed appropriate. I just wanted to get that in because it has been a long time since we've posted anything and it's a shame, cuz there is lot's to post.

We got our grapes from Prosser a week ago and the crushed grapes that became our must is currently percolating away. We pitched the yeast on Sunday after crushing the grapes last Wednesday. All seems to be going along smoothly. In a year, we will be bottling another batch of Tempranillo.

October 21st is the record set many years ago for the Boiler Game. Even though it has been an incredible Autumn with temperatures ranging in the 80's, it is getting close to time to fire up the boiler. I was prompted to make this post because I was checking the Blog to find out the exact date for the Boiler Game Record. I decided that since I was here, I should Blog. And so I am.

The boiler hasn't been fired up yet mainly because I was having leakage issues with the new radiator in the Living Room. We had it returned to the system earlier this Spring as we completed the Living Room project. It turned out to be a major project and I called in Handy Man Shaun to handle the re-installation. I had not filled the system until a week or so ago. I discovered a small but prolific leak in the right side joint. So I drained the system again and arranged to get my Boiler Guy (Shaun) here.

We finally arranged it for this evening. He arrived at 5:30 and the system was already filling. We enjoyed a beer and chatted while we waited for the system to fill and the leak to begin.

It took a while but the system was finally filled and to my surprise and Shaun's pleasure, no leak materialized. I just checked it again and it seems to be holding.

So now, the dilemma is whether I should fire up the boiler. I would like to go for the record, but the way the weather is, we are not going to make it past next Tuesday, which will be the 21st. So it really isn't a dilemma at all. I shall fire up the system and make sure it remains leak free.

10:10 PM: The system is fired up and operating. There is an ever so slight leak in the coupling joint of the Living Room Radiator. It drops a tear drop of water about every three minutes. It is collecting in a little bowl. It is slow enough that it should not be a problem through the night or through the work day, as long as we empty the bowl regularly. I'll contact Shaun and see where we go from here but I'm hoping it's small enough that it will seal itself. Yeah, sure! That happens all the time!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Weekend Fun

This looks like a busy weekend with not much chance to get stuff done on the house. And yet, we are going to try.

We got up early (8ish) after sleeping in and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of cheese eggs and turkey bacon.

After that, we got to work on the upstairs closet. I want to take down all the wall board and plaster on the wall where the closet door will go because I am thinking I want to put in pocket doors. Having access to the whole wall will be essential. Also, there is electrocution running in the wall and I need to re-direct it. Having access to that is equally essential. Of course, the whole process was made a bunch easier because of the fabulous floor that had been built into the closet space by MEEEEEEEEE.

Susan and I both worked in the closet, banging down dry wall over plaster and lath and creating a crap load of dust. We got a good portion of it down but quit in order to get ready for an afternoon barbecue we were invited to.

The party was a wedding reception for Dale and Cheryl Dupree. They got married earlier in the year while in Mexico. So this was an after the fact party with a Hillbilly theme. They roasted a pig in a big pit that Dale made and there was a crap load of food, PBR, and a good crowd.

We were back home by early evening, having stopped at the Hub Tavern on the way home. We learned from Dave, (one of the owners) that there was a job opening at the Humane Society for a front desk person. Susan intends to follow up on that on Monday.

We didn't really do much that evening. I think we drank wine and got caught up on a TV show we had recorded.

Sunday was another early rise for us as we were participating in the Se7enth Annual SpokeFest. It's a community bicycle ride that is just a fun event to ride in. And this was our Se7enth! They said there were 2,200 bikers taking part. They offer four routes of various length. We rode the nine mile route and discovered that we are really only good for about 8 miles on a bike.

I made my one goal of riding up Doomsday Hill, which you will see in one of my many pictures about to come up.

We had to hurry home because we had to get out to the Spokane Interstate Fair. We spent about 5 hours out there and if you haven't been to the fair in the last 20 years...it's still the same!

There are a few new things like Glazed Donut Cheese Burgers and many of the rides are exciting and new. But they still have the Octopus and the Tilt-A-Whirl.

We entered wine in the Wine Competition and got two Second Place Ribbons for our Syrah and Plum wine. No big deal and actually pretty shitty considering there were only nine entries.

After the bike ride and the hours of walking around, we were beat and sore when we got home. We watched a show and were in bed by ten...which is early for us, and especially early for Susan the Night Owl.

But, her boss wanted her to work this coming week which is a good sign.


Monday, September 01, 2014

End of Summer-3

I would like to start today by mentioning that I have been much more aware of trying to reuse building materials I already have. I used the treads from the newer staircase I tore out for the stringers for the closet floor upstairs. I reused a whole bunch of nails I pulled out of the ship lath and used them in my joists. The floor you see in the picture below came off a platform that was left at the house when we bought it. It has spent the last nine years out in the weather next to the Carriage House.
It had gotten a little moldy on one end but I was able to cut out the cancer and keep the good parts for my flooring.
So now I have this floor in and a bunch of unused space below it. A few people have cautioned us about removing the back staircase, citing the advantages of having an extra escape route in case of terrorist attack, fire, or other emergency.

We already have a roll up ladder to go out a window if the need arises, so I haven't been concerned with removing the extra escape route.

But there really is no reason to remove it. There is a lot of storage space in that stairwell and it would make a terrific grow room when I start my Marijuana operation.
So I decided I needed a trap door in the floor. I will go further by adding a secret door in the bathroom at the bottom of the staircase when that project comes off the holding pattern.

So that's all I managed to complete over the three day weekend. I'm satisfied. Especially when you consider we also went downtown to the park and enjoyed a little Pig Out fun, we hosted Mom and the girls at the house, and tonight...we're going to the annual Symphony Concert at Comstock Park.
This was another event where we had no chance that anyone would go hungry. Lots of food and drink to go around for everyone you see pictured above.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

End of Summer-2

Today I shall be building...and this is not something one would consider to be in my wheelhouse. 

It should be fairly easy. I'm building a floor on the upstairs portion of the stairwell.
I've got my stringers in and I even went the extra mile of securing them with 6 quarter inch lag bolts. Them babies ain't going nowheres, Man!
Next I cut my joists to size and hung them in the joist hangers. That's my very first joist pictured above. Not bad. I shall soon be losing my membership in M.W.C.B. (Men Who Can't Build)
Once I got going on the joists, it went very quickly.

I would comment on how pleased I am with myself but I am all to aware of the fact that pride comes before the fall.
I will try not to fall until I have the floor in.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

End of Summer -1

I am hoping to accomplish a great deal of accomplishments this weekend. Today is Day One of the Labor Day Holiday...the unofficial end of Summer.

Let's see how I do!

The plan is to start the remodel of the main floor bathroom. We have budgeted $5,000.00. The big expense will be any plumbing changes we make and the possible purchase of a new bathtub and maybe a shower.

We really don't know and won't know until we have the wall down to see what we can do with the space.

Oh...another monkey wrench has been thrown into the mix. Susan is suddenly without a job. Her boss of nearly 20 years laid her off on Friday. It could be a temporary thing, perhaps a couple of months. But we are thinking we can't really wait around a couple of months for her boss to decide whether he can keep her or not.

And so...the bathroom project is on a temporary hiatus until we know what's happening with Susan and the job market. 

But that doesn't mean there isn't work to be done. Even if the downstairs portion of the remodel is on hold, we can still be working on the upstairs portion.

You see, the expansion of the bathroom involves removing the wall between the bathroom and the back staircase. We never use the back staircase and feel the space can be more efficiently used as usable living space.

So the bathroom gets larger downstairs and the back bedroom gets a nice closet upstairs.

So my project this weekend is to build a floor at the top of the stairs and maybe cut a hole in the wall for the closet door. That's pretty ambitious but let's see where we get to.

Here are a couple of pictures of what I'm starting with. An observant person might notice something unusual. There appears to be a staircase under the staircase. "WTF?", one might exclaim.

Well, when this house was a group home, they built a staircase to accommodate the code of the day over the very steep and treacherous original staircase.

So, I got to work a few weeks ago to take out the newer one.

I also got to work taking down the drywall in order to expose the walls. Here's something else to observe. The boards on the wall in the picture above are ship lath. The cover a layer of tar paper. That indicates to me that the wall there was at one time an outside wall.

This was not a surprise to us as we knew the kitchen had been added to.
This pile of razor blades fell out of the wall when I started removing the ship lath. That's because the medicine cabinet in the bathroom had a slot in it for disposing of razor blades. They just shoved them into the wall. 
I eventually got the whole wall cleaned up which gave me a crap load of wood to start cleaning up.

So cleaning up the wood was my main task today. Once again, we're going to be burning a good portion of the house this winter.

That's enough for today. We have Mom and some of her friends coming over for a nice barbecue to make up for the missed Mother's Day earlier this year.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Siberian Swan Song

I got home last night to discover the tree guy had finally showed up and started remove the Siberian Oak that has caused us sooooo much trouble.
 Before and after yesterday's pruning.
I am glad it is going but I think I will miss the shade it provided for the house. It has to go though. It's sick and falling down in pieces and it is in the way of our future garage. Not that the garage is happening soon, but the tree would have had to come down at some point to accommodate the new, super deluxe, space age two car garage.

Anyway, it looks like we'll end up with a bunch more wood to burn next season. I hope he's cleaning up the brush. That was the deal.

I found this guy, Donovan through my insurance agent. He taking down this tree for about $700.00. That's $500 below any other quote I got.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Catching Up S'Mo

To begin...and have some continuity with previous weather posts, the heat wave continues but it looks like there is light and the end of the forecast tunnel. The temperature is in the high 80's today and the forecast for the rest of the week calls for similar temperatures.

It's been waaaay too hot for waaaay too long.

We have finally figured out the next project for the house and in fact, preliminary work has already taken place.

We have begun the remodel of the main floor bathroom.

The work done so far is in the back stair well space that the bathroom will be expanding into. A staircase built to the proper code was built over the original very steep staircase.
Here you can see the space we are expanding into and the two sets of stairs.

The top picture shows the newer staircase and the bottom shows the old original one.
I have removed the newer staircase and am getting ready to open the wall between the stairwell and the bathroom.
We are holding off taking down the wall for two reasons. The main reason is because it is a bearing wall and I'm going to need to consult with my peoples on how to proceed.

The other reason is because we are hosting a party this coming weekend for Susan's friend, Sharron. The plan was that Sharron would be attending this party but she died August 8th from Lung Cancer.

Sharron still wanted the party to take place and she will be there in spirit.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

It's All Our Fault

We took a trip to Colorado to spend some time with Susan's sister, Margaret and her family. We went to Estes Park, a little town in the mountains outside Denver. Susan and Margaret used to vacation there when they were kids. I assume their parents vacationed with them, but don't know that for sure.

We returned to Spokane on Wednesday the 23rd. About an hour after we got home, a tremendous wind storm suddenly rolled through town. It was like someone hit a storm switch. It came up that suddenly.

The wind howled and knocked down lots of trees around town and took out a lot of electricity.

My buddy Mike came into town the other day to hand out for a few days before returning to Hell in Saudi Arabia. He teaches English to the entitled princes that inhabit the region.

We had a party to attend last night but another light switch wind storm hit the city and continued to wreck havoc where the other storm left off.

We left for the party and had a difficult time getting there. One road I took was closed due to a tree across the street. We doubled back and realized how dusty it had become. A couple of small fires had started as well.

The party was to be a dock party out on the Spokane River in the valley. Because of the wind, the party got moved inside. Soon enough though, we were able to move to the dock and I was able to dive off the bridge like I do every year.

We had a nice time at the part, left early to go see a baseball game, which was followed by a really good fireworks show. We had a great evening all the way around.

And then we got home...to a dark neighborhood...and a dark house.

It wasn't until the next day that we discovered that our tree out back was the reason for the power outage.

This tree has been featured here before as it is slowly killing itself by having various parts of it fall off. Until now, it has managed to avoid hitting the house.



This time, it has laid itself upon the garage without causing any damage to the building.

It is time for this tree to come down before it causes some real damage.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rocky Mountain High

I am writing from the deck of the condo we have taken over. We are in Estes Park, Colorado for a little vacation.
There's the view we have. 

There is lots to update so sit back, shut up and read on.

We Flew out of Spokane bright and early on Friday and flew to Denver where we rented a car and met up with Phil and Margaret, Susan's relative through sisterness.

We drove from Denver to Evergreen, CO where we were to go to a concert of the Nadas, a band the Phil and Margaret's son Neal plays in.

Along the way to Evergreen, we stopped for a tour at Margaret Brown's house, better known as the Unsinkable Molly Brown. From there we ventured to see the grave of Buffalo Bill Cody.

We finally arrived in Evergreen and split up from Phil and Marg as they went to their lodging and we searched for the Elk Run B&B.

We all reconvened at the Little Bear, the divey little bar where the concert was. We had some dinner and some drinks and enjoyed a great concert where most of the people knew all the lyrics to the songs of this native Iowa band.
On Saturday, we took a tour of a local estate called the Hiwan Ranch. It was homesteaded before the turn of the last century and over the years, what started out as a barn became this beautiful, extensive log home. The tours lasted about half an hour but our tour guide gave us about an hour and a half. We asked lots of questions. From there, we took the drive to Estes Park. It was about a two hour ordeal over mountain passes and winding roads and horrible Colorado traffic.

When we got here, and discovered the housing Phil had secured for us, we were all quite pleased. It's a really nice, modern condo with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a hot tub, and a lovely kitchen and living room.

The condo is located on the grounds of Mary Lake Lodge and resort. The main building is over 100 years old and is quite striking. We had dinner there last night.

Susan and I slept in today, waking at 9 to find we were all alone. Phil and Margaret went to church in town and then we connected with them at the Stanley Hotel. The Stanley is best known for it's starring role in "The Shining", the one from the 80's with Jack Nicholson, not the piece of crap they made recently for television.

That was also very nice.

That brings us pretty much up to date. We have just returned from a hike in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. I would imagine we went about three miles and climbed about two or three hundred feet above the 9,520 foot starting point. 


I was a little concerned because of the altitude. I'm definitely feeling it as I walk around. It sure would be nice to be in shape.

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.