Monday, January 29, 2007

We Pause for Something Very
...well, Different in Log Homes.

Now this gives a whole new meaning to “Log Home!”

(From the Blog of Logs to which I was directed by Jim of Parkway Rest Stop. Go take a peek at each of them.)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Snowy Sunday

It started snowing this morning soon after Terry took her little Aveo down the mountain to church.
Snowy Morning 2

The cats and I took things easy while she was gone.
Three sleeping cats
Shadow and Chester stretched out on the top of the couch while Julie took the middle cushion for herself.

The snow came down quite heavily at times and there were two or three inches on the ground when I got “THE CALL”.
Snowy morning
Two or three inches of fresh powder snow on a fairly steep hill can lead to only one thing.

Terry had managed to get her front-wheel drive Aveo to the edge of the property (about 300 feet from the driveway) but could get no further.

Well, I wasn’t about to take the truck down the hill to tow/pull/push her anywhere—so I walked down and got behind the wheel.

Not being able to get up the hill myself, I managed to get it turned around after backing up a quarter mile and went down the hill until I found a relatively flat area. Turning around again, I put the Aveo in second gear (yeah, it’s a manual transmission but I would have done the same with an automatic) and, keeping my foot on the gas so as to provide just enough go juice to get up the hill but not so much as to cause the tires to spin, I managed to get to and just past the driveway. Then I backed the little yellow Aveo into the yard and parked it.

When we got inside, the cats hadn’t moved much at all.

Shadow still lay on the back of the couch.

Chester sat up when we entered. (Probably hoping for some food.)

And Julie had curled up with a good book.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Curious Cat

As I’ve mentioned before, we have three cats at the Aerie. Julie, the eldest, is my daughter’s from college days. Shadow and Chester are mine via Adam and Braun. They were adopted this summer and are just over 9 months old.

Each of the three has a unique personality. Julie, as befits the eldest role, is more laid back and peaceful. She occasionally sets upon the other two when they try to draw her into their rampages about the house but will, more often, ignore the youngsters and find a hidey-hole away from the ruckus.

Shadow will often demand attention; shoving her head against your hand until you start to scratch her and pet her.

Chester…well, he is Chester. He wants attention too and will squeeze his way into Terry’s lap even if Shadow or Julie are all ready ensconced. He just shoulders in there and, with a little push and a little shove, ends up right where he wants to be.

All three are vocal pussy cats but the two youngsters are LOUD, very LOUD—especially at breakfast time. We need set no alarms in this house! Little paws reach under the bedroom door, name tags jangle on the floor, and loud meows sound through the house when they think it is time for us to get up and open a can of cat food.

When Terry and I are doing something—anything—Julie will usually go off and take a nap. But Chester and his sister, Shadow, have to watch our every move. Pull out the vacuum cleaner and Julie hightails it to parts unknown. Shadow sits on the couch and watches. Chester gets right up close and personal with the head of the vacuum to make sure we don’t miss a bit of dirt. He does the same thing with my shop vac too. He even sat on a piece of woodworking I was doing as I used the brad nailer and it wasn’t until the compressor kicked on that he took off running. THAT was too loud for him.

Chester is particularly curious about water. Use the shower and he will jump right in when you step out. Brush your teeth and he’ll sit on the edge of the sink and play patty-cake with the water stream. Stand in front of the toilet to go #1 and you better not piss in his ear—cause it will be hanging over the bowl.

This morning Terry did the laundry and we tried counting noses. Julie? Check. Shadow? Check. Chester?…Chester? Not to be found. Then I looked in the laundry room.
Curious Chester
Yep, Chester was atop the washer watching the water splash into the sink. Last time he was in the sink when the rinse cycle dumped sudsy water in there. Sigh. At least he learned something.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Dang! It’s cold out this morning.

Some strong winds out of the north swept frigid Canadian/Polar air into the region last night and the morning temperatures plunged into the single digits. As the clock approaches 10 AM it is still just 7 degrees F outside and, although the winds have subsided considerably, the wind chill brings that down to –7 degrees F.

A couple of things I’ve noticed in our new home.
1) The radiant floor heating is slow to respond to severe cold. You can’t just punch up the thermostat and expect it to immediately raise the house’s temperature. (And once it does reach the higher temp, you better be happy with it ‘cause it’s gonna be a while to cool off if you set it too high.)

2) The doors to the garage and the front entrance need better weather stripping. The cold air seems to be pouring in around the ThermaTru front door. Whether that’s because it got sprung in transit, needs adjusting at the latch (which seems loose) or needs a thicker weather stripping along the opening edge, something will have to be done. But it’s just too cold to keep the door open for any length of time right now so it will have to be done later.

3) Even with a humidifier going full time, it is difficult to keep the relative humidity inside the house at around 50% as recommended to prevent unwanted checking and shrinking of log walls. The radiant floor heat (dry) and the supplemental fireplace hat (drier) contribute to that of course.

Being on the northwest side of the hill, the sun has yet to shine upon the house although it is creeping closer. Once it gets here, things may warm up a bit inside as well as out. Hey, at least it doesn't look like there will be any snow flurries today.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. The temperature at the Adirondack cabin has risen to 0 degrees F since a low of –2 degrees F at 7 AM. There is no wind chill up there, however.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Winter Has Finally Arrived

Winter has finally arrived and the lake effect machine has reached as far south as the Northern Tier of Tioga County. Luckily, the house is snug and it’s quite warm inside.
Winter has arrived

It's warm inside.
We still need to finish the outside of the chimney, stain the logs a little darker, erect some retaining walls and add some gutters to the eaves. But all that will have to wait until spring arrives. Probably in May, no matter what Punxsutawney Phil has to say about it.

Meanwhile, this baby will get a workout the next few days as the nighttime temperatures dip into the single digits and, perhaps, below.
Finished Fireplace

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Global Warming? (Part deux)

It’s currently 12 degrees outside at 9 AM at The Aerie. That’s up from 9 degrees three hours ago. Luckily there is no wind to speak of so the wind chill is non-existent. Up north, at the Adirondack Bolt Hole, the morning temperature is currently –6 degrees. Three hours ago it was –3 with a wind chill that brought it to –15 or so. I guess winter has finally arrived in this neck of the woods.

We had a dusting of snow—only about an inch or so—earlier this week from what was called lake effect bands sweeping down from lakes Erie and Ontario. The Bolt Hole got a bit more as the band from Ontario remained in place a little longer. This was after the ice storm passed through.

The Herkimer County town of Old Forge reports up to 8 inches of new snow from the latest system, which should make the snowmobilers happy. As late as last week most of the trails were in poor condition due to the lack of snow and open puddles of water. THAT changed in a hurry.

At least the days are beginning to grow noticeably longer. It remains light until after 5:30 now. The trees and plants that were starting to bud earlier this month have grown dormant again. Hopefully they will not be damaged.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Idol is coming! Idol is coming!

One of the shows I was forced to watch introduced to this summer while living with Don and Deb was American Idol. It’s not that I cringed at the talent, most of that was pretty good and got better each week. No, I found Simon to be unbearable. If it were my TV, I would have surely thrown something at the b@st@rd some time during the season—if not more than once.

Perhaps that’s why I find this little ditty penned by LittleOrangeFox at Outlaw Republican so amusing as the 2007 season opener approaches.

(to the tune of The Sound of Silence
The Sound of Simon
by LittleOrangeFox

Hello Seacrest, my old friend,
I've come to watch with you again,
The television quietly broadcasting,
Woke us while we were still weeping,
And our mourning you would soon put to an end
But with him.
Within the sound of Simon.

….There’s much more so go on over to read the rest.


One of the problems with our new home is the lack of TV reception. We're tucked into the north side of the hill so any satellite dish would find it difficult to pick up a signal. There is no cable this far out on the rural line. And the telephone company that was supposed to have TV service via CAT-5 cable, just like it has high speed Internet, has yet to receive the routers necessary to make that happen.

As a result of this delay in service, we sit and listen to the radio or surf the Internet. We've missed all the hoopla of the NCAA football bowls and New Year's Day parades but little else. Until last night.

Last night was, of course, the two hour premiere of Day 6 on 24 and marked the return of Jack Bauer from his long, slow ride to China. We were scheduled to have dinner and watch the show at Don and Debs but a combination of Don's getting a cold/flu and some serious icing conditions on the roads caused a cancellation. (They taped the show for us anyway.) If Don is feeling better and if the weather improves, we will go over tonight to see hours 3 and 4.

Later this week American Idol makes it's debut. Hopefully the routers won't be here yet.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Now THAT’S a Knife

I‘ve carried a Swiss Army knife in my pocket for years and find it useful in so many ways. The few times I either forget to pick it up when getting dressed or must leave it home (damn airport security!) I feel naked. Once, when I accidentally left my knife on my dresser, I had to run to the sporting goods store to purchase a replacement because…well, I just had to have one in my pocket.

My current pocket knife is the fisherman’s model has two blades, two screwdrivers/can/bottle openers, a Phillip’s head screwdriver, an awl, scissors, a hook disgorger, and tweezers and toothpick. Amazingly, I haven’t lost either of the last two in the four or five years I have owned this particular knife. In the past, they may have disappeared in the first month.

I love my Swiss Army knife. They manufacture a multitude of models for every taste but this one…well, it’s the ultimate knife! I give you: The Giant

H/t Appalachian Gun Trash

Friday, January 12, 2007

Food For Thought

From The Anchoress:

10 Things to Ponder About for 2007

10. Life is sexually transmitted.
9. Good health is merely the slowest rate at which one can die
8. Men have two emotions: Horny and Hungry. If he’s not chasing you, make him a sandwich. (Is that true?)
7. Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day; teach a person to use the Internet and they won’t bother you for weeks.
6. Some people are like a slinky - not really good for much, but you can’t help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.
5. Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in the hospital dying of nothing.
4. All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
3. Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars,and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents?
2. In the 60’s, people took LSD to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.
1. We know exactly where one cow with mad-cow-disease is located among the millions and millions of cows in America, but we haven’t a clue as to where thousands of illegal immigrants and terrorists are located.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Log Home Update: Part 57:
Time to sit before the fire

After several weeks of above average temperatures, the wind shifted so it came out of the northwest and it started spitting snow and became pretty cold. That’s why this is such a big deal:
First fire

We lit the first fire in the living room this afternoon. The zero clearance fireplace burns so efficiently there is almost no smoke coming out the chimney. And the blower system kicks plenty of heat into the room. Plus the wide glass door lets you watch all the pretty, pretty flames!

Unfortunately, Don was unable to hook up the basement wood burner. Although the T-junction and the insulated pipe are made by the same company, they don’t fit together. One’s 6-inches is not the other’s 6-inches. After a few calls, he was able to get a company that would get us a T that would fit overnight. Hopefully, we will be able to light a fire in that stove tomorrow night.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Moon Set

Moon set
Moon Set

Moon set 2
Moon Set 2

These morning photos were taken two days after the full moon. It was just after 8 AM when I took this picture of the waning gibbous moon on January 4. Moon Set 2 gives you an idea of the view from the front window of our new home.

I’m sorry I didn’t grab my camera two days earlier when the moon set behind the ridge in the distance and turned bright salmon. Moments later the sunlight spread across the landscape moving toward the house as the sun climbed above the hills behind me.

Log Home Update: Part 56:
Finishing for the winter (?)

Have I mentioned that we are building a log home? I know, posts on this topic have been scarce lately but that doesn’t mean that things haven’t been progressing. Everyone did take some time off between Christmas and New Year’s, but they’ve been here working like gangbusters since January 2.

Don, Adam and Dan did show up one day right after Christmas to weather proof the chimney. The exterior stone work will wait until spring arrives and the night time temperatures are more conducive to the mortar curing.

Adam went through the list of items (a very short list) that the building inspector wanted done. Most had to do with electrical outlets being GFI protected. Some we knew had to be done and a few we thought were okay. In any event it took him just half a day to knock those out.

Then there were the two big items on the list. The garage had to have dry wall installed and the basement stairs needed a railing. Adam and I tackled both those jobs. I helped install the sheetrock and then Adam did the spackle work and applied a coat of paint. The same got done to the exterior of the bathroom in the basement and the wall to the utility room. Only it was Don and I installing the dry wall (a.k.a. sheetrock) there while Adam was doing the spackling and painting in the garage.

Adam and I laid out and cut the materials for the hand rail going down into the basement. With the exception of one 2 x 4 we used left over materials from the exterior deck rail and the interior loft/stair rail. Troy came over on Saturday to do some work and helped mount the spindles and rail in place. Now that it is in, it makes the stairs themselves look, well, shabby.
Basement stair rail
Basement stairs.

While we were doing all that, Kyle and Dan worked on finishing the installation of the insulation (say that five times fast!) in the basement ceiling. This insulation will more or less force the heat from the radiant floor system upwards into the first floor. Secondarily, it will provide some sound barrier between the two floors.
basement Insulation
Basement ceiling insulation.

Don, when not working to install drywall in the basement or 2 x 4 walls down there, went to work on the stone facing for the living room fireplace. He is using a cultured stone product from Owens-Corning that looks so real you have a difficult time picking out the few real stones that are interspaced. The “fake” stuff is made from lightweight concrete and is done in such a way that in the four boxes we opened for use on the fireplace there wasn’t a duplicate in the batch. The colors are varied, as are the shapes. It should be obvious that the smaller filler stones are (mostly) real, but even a few of the larger ones have been picked up around either his yard or mine and used because they have a nice color or shape and are the right thickness. The actual hearthstones will be real stone from around the yard placed in a bed of mortar.
Don does stone work
Stone work on fireplace.
Stone work
One day day's work to go.
Cultured stone
An Owens-Corning product.

There’s still some trim to be done in the garage, the drywall over the fireplace and the basement wood stove to attach, but the work for the year is almost completed. The building inspector has given his OK and we should have a C of O in a day or two. Meanwhile Terry and I have been squatting here, with Don’s permission, since around the 21st of December. The bank inspector will be here on Tuesday and we should be switching over from a construction loan to a standard mortgage right about on schedule. There will be some work left for the spring, such as the stone on the chimney and the walk out basement front, a few retaining walls, staining the exterior of the logs, and installing gutters and down spouts. Money for those items will be put into an escrow account and will be released when the work is done in the spring.
basement wood stove
Basement wood stove.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cincinnati Holds Off Western Michigan, 27-24
Big East 5-0 in Bowl Games

Cincinnati Bearcats became the first college team to win a bowl game played outside the US (the 1937 Bacardi Bowl played in Havana, Cuba ended in a 7-7 tie) by defeating the Western Michigan Broncos 27-24.

The teams were appearing in the first ever International Bowl played in Toronto, Canada.

The Bearcats pulled out to an early 24-0 lead in the first half only to see the Broncos rally to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati’s Kevin Lovell converted on a 33 Yd field goal with 6:13 left in the game to provide the winning margin.

The win gave the Big East a perfect 5-0 record in bowl games this season.

(Game Story and stats here.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Louisville downs Deacons 24-13
Big East now 4-for-4 in Bowls

After a sloppy and slow start, the #5 Louisville Cardinals managed to pull it together and drum the Demon Deacons of #15 Wake Forest 24-13 in the Orange Bowl.

Junior Quarterback Brian Brohm was 24-for-34 for 311 yards and was chosen the game's most valuable player.

(Game Story and stats here.)

PS: Is there another conference that has been perfect in the bowls this year? One that has as many as four or five teams playing. (The Big East has five teams engaged in bowl play. South Florida won, Rutgers won, West Virginia won and Louisville won. Only Cincinnatti remains to play in the International Bowl against Western Michigan.)

Monday, January 01, 2007

Big East now 3 for 3 in Bowl games with 2 to go

The West Virginia Mountaineers’ leading rusher all season, Steve Slaton, carried the ball only three times for eleven yards and their defense gave up 333 yards in the air to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Gator Bowl today. Taylor Bennett was 20-for-30 for those 333 yards and threw for three touchdowns. Sophomore Bennett made only his second career start replacing academically ineligible, senior Reggie Ball.

Despite all that, West Virginia came away with a 38-35 victory. The win was the result of overcoming an 18 point deficit with a 21 point, come from behind, burst in the third quarter that was aided by a muffed kickoff by the Yellow Jackets Tony Clark. That error after the second WVU TD of the period, along with an unsportsmanlike penalty, gave the Mountaineers a first and ten on the Georgia Tech 20. Two plays later, Patrick White rushed 15 yards for a WVU touchdown. Pat McAfee’s extra point made it 38-35 and that’s the way it ended.

(Game Story and stats hereand here.)

The victory gives the Big East three wins in three attempts before Tuesday tonight’s Orange Bowl in which Louisville faces Wake Forest.