Sunday, August 20, 2017

And the House Build is Started

Yesterday Hal rented a bobcat with 24" and 18" augers. We have to dig several 36", 30", 24" and 18" wide holes for the concrete footings which will support the frame of the house. As 24" was the biggest auger we could get we have to dig them out wider. The soil is clay and very hard. We hired a neighbor to help yesterday but he wasn't available today so we continued digging the holes wider by ourselves. The holes need to be about 21-24 inches deep though the plans call for 18" deep footers. A little extra concrete in the footings doesn't hurt.

Photos from yesterday.
attaching the 24" auger

Hal getting ready

The first hole
Today Hal and I worked on making them wider and perfecting the ones our friend dug out yesterday.
Hal digging

Lots of holes

removing dirt
If it doesn't rain tomorrow we will need to dig some more.

Tiger Game

Went to the baseball stadium the night of the 9th. The Tigers were playing Pittsburgh. The Tigers haven't been doing well but we were treated to a near no-hitter. Justin Verlander was pitching and the final score was 10 to 0!  Had a blast with Hal's sister, older brother and his wife. Tried out my ZS-50 from our seats in row 13 behind the Pittsburgh dugout.

Hicks hit a standup double and advance to 3rd on an error

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Batter Boards and Post Hole Marking

A couple days ago Hal and I started marking post holes with orange spray paint. We ran out and had to quit till he bought more the other day and finished them up himself. Yes, he's walking around again, the gout that delayed him for 3 weeks has mostly abated, and he's back to work.

The first day we marked the holes we had the pups with us. Even though the weather was so hot it was hard to get them to stay in the shade of the golf cart. I turned the well on and let it run into the ditch for their enjoyment but I had to take them there several times as they wouldn't leave my side. Though I know they liked being with me and not alone at home I left them home yesterday. They will stay home until this hot weather breaks.
Hot Luna and Ziggy
There are a lot of post holes and we will be renting a skid steer with auger to dig the actual holes. Unfortunately 12 of the holes have a 36" diameter and we can only get a 24" auger around here so the sidewalls will have to be widened by hand. He will probably hire the grandson of Mrs J to help with that.
Back wall holes marked
In the meantime we managed to place 3 batter boards. I cut the lumber into 30" and 36" pieces, we both used the manual post hole digger to dig holes to a depth of 18" and, as you can see, screwed the long piece to legs using the shorter pieces and buried them in the holes. Two sets of these must be placed perpendicular to the walls at each corner of the house. We will run strings around them to square up the walls. We need at least 12 of these but it is very hot, humid, and in 4 hours we only got 3 done. There is one in the back of this photo on the left side. The weather isn't any better today but now that we have a system down, maybe we can manage a few more.
batter boards at the northeast corner

Staining Hiatus

I stained one coat on the west side of the house north of the chimney. It needs 2 coats though I think it looks pretty good with one. But I had to stop as it was so hot I was on the verge of passing out on the ladder. So I thought I would wait till it cools off a little which is supposed to happen Wednesday after thunderstorms move through. Highs in the 70s will be much nicer than the high 80s. But now I see there is rain possible every day for a week which will keep the humidity high as well so it might take longer to get it done. However, I can always start cleaning the north wall. It will be shadier, though buggier, and not requiring the tall ladder.

So until then I can help Hal with the barn-home build. And how is that going you might ask? Next post.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Exterior House Staining

It took me 2 days to clean the front side of the house. Lots of standing on ladders, lots of scrubbing, 2 days worth in fact spread over a week because of the constant rain. But it got done, and when it finally dried up enough I taped plastic over all the windows, front door, exterior lights, deck, etc and stained. Two coats were required. I finished about 7:30 that night. Cleaned up the next day. It looks a lot better, it looks waterproof in fact, nice and shiny and sort of plasticky. I swore never again would I stain a wall, screw the other 2, we'll just sell the house "as is".

A few weeks later (delayed due to tendonitis of the knee, aka "runner's knee") I tackled the west side which took a much taller ladder as it's a gable end. That also took 2 days, I have to go back to Alpena and Home Depot to buy more stain before I can actually finish. Not looking forward to getting back up 20 feet in the air to finish that top section, but it has to be done. Then I have to find the energy to tackle the north wall which, though shorter in height, is 48 feet long.

I will be so happy when it's done!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The New Home Plan

So here is a rendition of the exterior of the future house. The 3 car garage is on the right, the little gable bump out on the left contains 2 small bedrooms. The kitchen was originally right behind those 2 shorter windows but now it's in the back but I think the window sizes are set. I don't know yet.There is a small porch on the front where those 2 white posts are supporting the roof.

Here is one of the previous floor plans. I have not made a copy of the latest one but at least this one is pretty close to what I am currently thinking.

The master bath has a separate shower and soaking tub. There is a beverage center in the kitchen that is essentially a wet bar with wine fridge, small sink, microwave and another small refrigerator where Hal can make his breakfast and stay out of my way in the main kitchen. That fridge will also hold the maple syrup every spring until it is processed and canned.

There is a workshop in the garage and the other room holds all the utilities, as well as the chest freezers and upper cabinets which will have to hold my pantry which is in the basement in our current house. We also decided to enclose the space between the 2 garage rooms and essentially make those 3 rooms part of the house, with the firewall between them and the garage. They will simply be a couple steps down with a concrete floor, a very common feature when anyone converts their garage to a family room. That pantry/utility room will also have a dedicated doggie door in the wall so I don't have to have one in the kitchen door resulting in dogs running back and forth while I am cooking.

Since I made a photo of this plan I have replaced the fireplace with an aquarium (finally, one of them comes out of the boxes they've been in since we moved from California in 1996) and placed a see-thru fireplace between the table and he TV room in the back of the house. I wonder how much more tweaking I will do before the plan is finalized.

Friday, June 23, 2017

We're Tired

Hal and I came to a decision about 3 months ago, in a roundabout kind of way. I'm tired of the long drives to Alpena and back (70 miles), he's tired of the numerous trips he's had to take to deal with his dad's cattle in winter and the 35 mile round trips whenever he needs to go to the camp/pole barn. We're both tired of driving long distances to decent restaurants. I'm tired of all the staircases. I know Luna is tired of them, too. In fact she seems to be in pain any time she has to climb them. I know all 4 of us, especially Ziggy, are tired of deer flies and mosquitos which are terrible this year. Ziggy's black coat seems to be a magnet for them, he constantly drops to his haunches (usually right at my feet, tripping me in the process) to protect his butt while he snaps deer flies out of the air. So whenever Hal and I have been in the vicinity of the camp we'd jokingly make the comment often seen on residential billboards, "if we lived here we'd be home now."

At some point the light dawned and we both realized we wouldn't actually mind moving there.

Yes, we've become tired of the swamp. Yet it's still a beautiful place and I know I'll miss it. But I think it's time to go.

So we started a massive clean up project of the house this spring. The county had its biennial cleanup in May so we took advantage and got rid of lots of large things that were just in the way for only $25. And believe it or not, the hot tub was cut up and dumped as well. After the filter freezing 2 winters ago when the breaker failed, it just wasn't worth fixing.
Hal and the Haul
In the meantime Hal had a well dug. It is 140 feet deep and is a flowing artesian well with quite an impressive flow. They finally capped it today after telling us a couple weeks ago they couldn't. Not really sure about this well company now, they seem to keep changing their minds about things and asking for more money. I know they want to keep "working" for us in the near future but Hal is having other thoughts. I wish the water tasted as good as it does here, but alas, it does not.

Hal is in charge of getting the site ready for a new house, the well, the septic, the land leveled, permits, etc. I'm in charge of selling the house.  I've hired a roofer to replace our very leaky roof which I was hoping would be done by mid July but all it does is rain up here and that backs them up. I think I'll be lucky if they're here by August.

I also want to stain the front side of the exterior siding, I did the east wall 3 years ago then ran out of steam. The rain however has been a problem again. I finally finished cleaning the front yesterday after trying last week and needing a better cleaning agent. Now I just need 3 days of dry weather. One to dry out the siding, one for 2 coats and then another to dry before the rain hits again.

Hired a friend with a cleaning business to come tomorrow to dust, polish, in general spruce up the place before the realtor comes next week to take photos. Hope to have the house listed by July 1, even if the roof hasn't been replaced or the siding stained, or the grass hasn't been cut because it's too dang wet! It will be interesting, if not also nerve wracking to see if the house sells fast, or not at all, and then what will we do?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mundane Happenings Which I Forgot to Post a Month Ago

My snowpeas started to sprout a few days ago and I planted the remaining packets I had before the last rain. I also scavenged the chicken wire around  the veggie garden across the driveway that never did well because it was in the swamp and wrapped the heck out of it. This garden is in the front yard inside one of the chicken runs, where I moved it to last summer after the bunny and deer devastation in my first garden that had never happened before in the previous 15 years I had planted there! In another month I can plant my beans and cukes and zukes.

The weather has been mostly delightful in the 70s the last 2 days though a drop to about 41 for a high is forecast in 2 days, with almost 2 inches of rain possible over that day and the next! At least it isn't snow which could happen with the temps at night in the low 30s'.

Hal and I have been doing other things though. I had 3 roofing companies bid to re-roof the house, we picked number 2 who was in the middle price wise but he had a few points the others didn't stress that we liked and he and Hal got along very well. So I signed a contract and we'll have a new roof around the beginning of July. It will be nice to have a roof that does not leak.

Yesterday I took Ziggy to the vet for his yearly shots. I left Luna home though. She is 11 years 7 months old and it shows. It's almost impossible to get her into the car, I have to pick up her back end every time and she's about 75 pounds. Even Ziggy required a little back end help to get him onto the back seat. He has no trouble jumping into the cargo hold at the back but the footwell/seat arrangement confuses him. The cargo hold was packed with stuff to donate, the food cooler and a bunch of bags as I was shopping with Judy as well. Fortunately though it was  degrees at home it was only 63 down at the vets, clouding over and then lots of rain so there was no danger of Zig overheating while we shopped. (and the shopping was short for once!! the eating at the AYCE Chinese restaurant down there was very enjoyable though.

While I was gone Hal emptied the hot tub, took his chainsaw and reciprocating saw and hacked it to pieces. We made the decision to get rid of it 3 days ago rather than go to the very expensive route of trying to fix a broken filter system (it died when the breaker failed and went unnoticed during a -20 F degree winter), a new blower, which failed pretty much right when we moved in, a dead light which leaked and it was developing micro fractures all along it's edges. In the last year we probably used it once or twice, so it will not be missed.

I started cleaning the siding on the front of the house, I need to continue the staining that I started 3 years ago and never got beyond the east wall. That wall is holding up nicely, by the way. There is lots of mildew so I'm adding a little bleach to the water and scrubbing away. This will be an all summer job. I hope to do a little more today.

Monday, April 10, 2017

I Planted Some Snowpeas

It's not the best job I've ever done. After I weeded and made a trench I just poured them in and threw dirt on top. Can't say I'm really in the mood to garden anymore after last year's disaster of bunnies, deer and drought but I like snowpeas so I've got to do it. I've planted about 5 feet of snowbird, and 11 feet of oregon sugar pod 2 from 2 sources. The Burpee seeds were small, the Fredonia twice the size. It will be interesting to see which is better.

Weather is crazy, it was over 70 Sunday, and supposed to be that Monday. Next day, 43e which is more in keeping with April up here.
Hal and I canned 3 gallons of syrup Sunday as well. He decanted it off the nitre at the bottom and then filtered it through 3 pre-filter papers. Heated it to 185 and canned it into pint jars. Felt good to have some actually finished. Only 10 gallons to go plus the odd jars we got from the 172.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It Was a Wart After All

Ziggy's weird little white growth on his tongue turned out to be just a papillomavirus wart after all. I could go back an forth in hindsight now and wonder if I should have taken him to my regular vet before subjecting him and my pocketbook to surgery, but it's possible that vet might have also suggested surgery, who knows? And if the wart didn't go away like they're supposed to I'd probably always worry a little anyway and for the time he had it, because who knows how long it would be there, I'd be worrying. And worry is stress and stress can cause heart attacks so I probably did the right thing after all.

His tongue looks really good now, too.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

She's Not Toothless... Yet

So a couple days after Ziggy's tongue operation I went to brush Luna's teeth on (Sunday night?) and noticed one of her back molars was rather ragged. On closer inspection I saw the side was sheered off and there was a piece of tooth floating below the gumline. She did not like me touching it. I had no idea she had broken it though I should have as I heard it when it happened. She was chewing on one of those peanut butter stuffed bones, heard a horrendous crack and I checked the floor for a broken piece and didn't find one but for some reason I didn't suspect he tooth. Luna never made a noise.

Luna pants a lot. Looking back at the few weeks between the break and he discovery she really seemed to be panting more. But I didn't put two and two together. So my poor girl had probably been in pain at least a month. She got to see the vet by midweek and on Friday, had it removed.

It's been 10 days or so and she's panting a lot again. I guess I had better go look at the removal spot just in case. SHe finished her antibiotics a few days ago.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ziggy's Home

I picked him up just after 3 pm yesterday. They say he did well, he's got a bunch of stitches on this tongue, I'm told it will heal quickly. He has 4 days of pain pills. He seems very happy to be at home. He's laying on my recliner up against my legs and seems quite content.

It is very good to have him here. Now we just wait for the biopsy results, 1-2 weeks.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Ziggy's at the Vet

I dropped him off 4 hours ago to have a growth removed from his tongue and biopsied. I had hoped it was something like the papillomavirus but when I took him in a month ago the vet didn't think it was and I agreed because it didn't look like the photos. She said not to worry but she recommended removal and a biopsy and today was the soonest we could get him in.

This isn't my usual vet but the closer one I used to take Rocket to till he just refused to go in the door anymore and I didn't want to continue stressing him so much. But Luna has been there twice for emergency surgeries when she cut herself out in the woods and they did a great job.

When I noticed the white growth on Ziggy I didn't want to wait for an appointment at my et which is also an hour away (this ver is only 20 minutes). I probably could have gotten in the next day but I think I had some other thing I had to do so this was fast and convenient even if I had to wait an hour because in Lincoln it's first come first served.

So now I wait and I hate waiting. Then it's another possible 2 weeks before I find out the results. He might not even be in surgery yet. Fingers crossed things go well.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Maple Syrup Season has Started

It's still February and it's warm outside.

Two years ago when we first started tapping trees today's low was about - 28F. That's MINUS. So the high probably was in the single digits. There was no tapping trees till mid March or thereabouts. Last year it was also in March I believe. But this year.... the high at our house on Saturday was 59.9, yesterday it was 55.5. Today it's only 43 but it's supposed to climb back up tomorrow and possibly get into the 60s Wednesday. This is April weather. Next week we may get back to March weather, before March. It's very weird.

But Hal has taken advantage of it and has the 3 lines all tapped up the driveway in the section we call "the Oaks". He's also bought more tubing and spiles and added 2 more lines. Yesterday he collected 28 gallons of sap and boiled it down to around 2.5 quarts of syrup. He's got 2 boils going on the back deck which I am watching while he is out checking lines and hitting the hardware store for stuff to make things easier.

He decommissioned the line behind the house. It's so deep in the swamp it starts late and it's hard to get to. The 5 lines currently in use he can get to with the tractor where he can fill a barrel with sap and bring it home. Then he siphons it into smaller buckets that can be carried upstairs to the "sugar shack". It's a much better arrangement then carting the coolers home one by one and then having to bring them back. Fewer trips, less work, he's happier. So I'm happier.

I've already added another 2 gallons to the boil in the last hour. We should get twice as much syrup tonight by the time we're done.

Cool beans.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I'm Making a Poncho!

I've never had one, I've sort of always wanted one but not something that reeks of the 1970's or something out of a Clint Eastwood movie, though technically, those were probably serapes. This one is teal blue in color though you can't tell from my photo. It's almost half done though this photo only shows 1/4. But here it is as of a couple days ago. Heck I only started 3 days ago and haven't worked on it as often as I would like. It's amazing how other things have to get done first, like grocery shopping, eye exams, housework, etc.
front bottom half
The whole front side is done and I'm working on the identical back half then I stitch them together and add a border. Exciting! heh, heh

Oh it's the Let's Party Poncho from

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Old Man in the Cedar

I don't cross country ski, snow shoeing is hard (and I screwed up my left knee 6 days ago), we don't have a snow mobile, I wouldn't risk the ice fishing after the warm spell we had (and I don't have much equipment for it anyway) so about the only thing I have going for me outside besides walking the dogs is my cameras and the dull gray days we had been having didn't help, so how to amuse myself? Seeing weird things in the swamp.
On a cedar I have passed hundredds of times and never noticed

He added a beret over night
Both were taken with my Panazonic FZ300. He looks grumpy.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

I Like my New Cameras So Far

I haven't had much opportunity to take many outdoor photos as the weather has been lousy. No sun and for the last few days the weather has been so warm we have had fog every day, But here are a few photos from last week when we had a couple days with an hour or so of sunlight.

The first two were taken with my new FZ300.
dead birch

an oak on neighbor's land
 These 2 were taken with my ZS50. I slitghtly enhanced the color.
Sunrise at the edge of Mud Lake
Slightly zoomed sunrise

Thursday, January 12, 2017

What's Been Happening?

This is sort a catch up post, probably won't be that detailed but more of a list of things that have happened or are going on etc., whatever I can think of in the next half hour before I go to bed.

In no particular order.

Tonight one of my upper right molars, one that had a root canal and that broke a year ago and was rebuilt and recrowned by my dentist the first time it broke, fell out. Knew it would happen, just didn't know when. I have opted to get an implant because I refuse to need dentures some day. Have to pay fot this whole thing myself as we don't have dental insurance. Ah well, it's a lot of money.

Bought a used small camera last month from a guy on who at first had offered to just give me the same camera I already had because he saw my post about mine have dust on the senosr. Instead I got the Panasonic ZS-50 for a very good price. I haven't been able to do too much with the camera outside because of extremely lousy weather in th month I've owned it but I'll keep trying. Here's a photo I took with it.
metal chicken on the plastic tree
My younger sister and her BF and Lyra were here for 2 weeks at Christmas. We had a very good time. There was food and the men hunted and there was more food. Looking forward to their next visit.

I bought another camera Sunday night and it was delivered yesterday. This one is the Panasonic FZ300. It's almost one  f-stop faster than what I had, 2.8, is weather sealed and has been getting very good reviews. I've seen lots of excellent photos. It's not perfect but for a fixed lens camera with a 600mm zoom for the price I got it for, I'm pretty happy. The weather has been lousy of course, but I managed to go outside with it and take a few photos but they're still in the camera so there won't be any here tonight.

We're dumping DISH as our internet service provider and switching to Exede. Ever since we both got Windows 10 installed on our laptops, the only reason I can think of, we run out of bandwidth less than a week into each month and end up with our download speeds throttled down to somewhere around 128 kbps. It's ridiculous. Five, 5, GB a month? We can't watch you tubes, photo heavy sites are killers. I take photos I am a member of a photo heavy site, both Hal and I are on Facebook. Exede claims we will get 150 GB a month for barely much more. So hopefully, they come tomorrow and internet will be fun to use again.

I bought a shock collar for Ziggy. He has been bad. I won't go into the things he has done but I determined in mid December it was the only thing left to try. It is my second brand, the first was dead in the water when I got it. The new one works great. It has a beep mode, a vibration and the shock. I have not used the shock once. not once! The beep works. I've used the vibration a couple of times and now it's just hit the beep and he comes running. No more screaming my head off for him to come. He's such a well behaved boy now. I hardly even use the beep. I blame the stubborn beagle half of him for having to resort to this but it works. Now Luna is less well behave on our walks.

Okay, it's possible the satellite person could be here at 8 am so I must head to bed.

Good night and Happy New Year!