Sunday, August 31, 2008

Coming Home from Cape Cod

We are in the Cape, been here for the past week, so not much in the way of Vermont to talk about, except that we met a cool police officer from Vermont. His name was Chris, and he said he lived near the Mass border in VT. He was very cool. We pulled into the post office and he was on duty directing traffic. When we parked, he slowly approached, and naturally I assumed I did something wrong and began scrambling for a story to tell.

Instead, he asked what part of VT we were from, and we chatted it up. The Green Mountain State, coming through for us again.

We had a great trip and we're sad to go, but it'll be nice to be home and attend to home issues, mainly fixing clapboards (yikes) and mending out deck. And let's not forget about mowing that damn lawn. We stopped and Conwell Lumber and I got more of the soy-based finish and sealer, so that will be interesting. Good to be natural.

Fortunately the drive home won't be too bad, but packing up the car will be a chore, so I'd better get going. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


It all seemed so easy at first. Mow the lawn every now and then, rake the leaves in the Fall, and then the long Winter sets in and all you have to do is shovel snow. Well, easy isn't quite accurate, but perhaps simple is the word I seek. Either way, it doesn't seem to entail too much complicated thought. Of course, I was wrong, and now I'm beginning to realize that there's a lot more to living in the country and being a real man.

Besides the home improvement gig, which is never ending, I've begun doing some trimming and maintenance of the landscape, and it's not overly strenuous but needs to be done. It's a constant battle against nature, and I can't help but think that nature will always prevail. Sometimes I can't help but ask, what's the point?

I've yet to get the mowing done. Will it never end? Probably not. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Leaves Are Changing

I can't believe it, but Fall is in the air. The leaves are beginning to change, and we've yet to have a day break a hundred degrees. Hard to believe, but true. There is all kinds of crazy shit going on in this area, most notably the fuel crisis. There's no wood to be had, and it makes me worry about next year and where we'll get it. I'm putting my faith in Mike Johnson and don't want to make an issue of it, but we'll see. I think it will be fine and in some shape or form, we'll find wood, even if I have to beg for it, but we'll find a way. Take it one year at a time, that's the only way.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, August 8, 2008

More Rain

Here we are, Friday, and what must be the sixth of seventh consecutive day of rain, with no relief in sight. I look back on my drought plagued time in California in wonder and can't help but think this is unusual, even for a place like Vermont. Maybe the weather is simply waiting for me to finish our picnic table so we can get have nice weather in which to use it.

On that note, I am trying desperately to finish our table, and for the record, I did not make it, but bought it at my favorite lumber yard, Britton's (they delivered it). I am treating the wood so it doesn't get fried in it's first year, but man are there a lot of pieces to consider. Since we are going to eat on it, I've opted for an eco-friendly stain and finish, and am curious to see how it goes. This is a new product that is soy-based and all natural. I love that idea, but am unsure as to it's effectiveness over time, and for that matter, in the short term. Whatever be the case, my thoughts thus far are overwhelmingly positive, but perhaps it's because I want them to be.

And then there's the rain. Needless to say, we've had some issues with moisture in the house, and not only does it stay damp and uncomfortable, but we worry about mold. We need some dry, warm sunny days to dry things out. I sealed out front deck, again with the eco-stuff, but made the mistake of sealing the tiles, which are not porous. I do think the sealing of the grout helped, because I can see water collecting in pools, which are subsequently not soaking the foundation.

So much to learn, so much to write about, so little time. I still need a hole saw for the table, but I think I can borrow that one.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Home Improvement #1-A New Toilet

This isn't really the first home improvement project for me, but I'm still finding myself with this whole blogging gig, so it's a start. In my quest to be a real man in Vermont, I've been trying to live up to high standards that my other real men friends maintain, and it ain't easy. But I'm learning.

So I installed my first toilet, and it wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be. Besides the horrid mess I thought it would make, I worried a lot about improper installation. One thing that I've been trained to live in fear of is excessive moisture and the death mold that seems to come with it. I've seen it firsthand, and heard nightmare stories about rotting floorboards and the work needed to fix it. Of course, I responded in typical fashion and ignored it, for a year.

It was during the past year we endured the hideous black toilet in our bathroom. In all honesty, it didn't offend me that much, but I was clearly in the minority, and from the moment we moved into our house, Ruth made it clear to me that she didn't like it, and understandably so.

I'd never installed a toilet, or for that matter, bought one, so naturally it intimidated the heck out of me. To complicate matters, the whole bathroom industry borders on the ridiculous in terms of its size and scope. How the heck do you choose a toilet? They basically all look the the same, and in the end, does it really require so much thought to buy something you go to the bathroom in?

My good friend Gary, a real man who built his own house, recommended Toto toilets on the advice of his plumber friend. Being a fan of Japanese reliability, and after doing some research online and discovering that they get great reviews, I'd pretty much set my mind on one. They are a bit pricier than the standard Kohler or American Standard, but again, they get great reviews for reliability and performance.

Next problem: where to get one. You can't spit in this town and not hit a hardware or home improvement store, and yet none of them carried Toto. The one place that did was a little on the pricey side, and I would have needed delivery, as well. So I did the unimaginable and ordered one online. It's crazy to think that you can buy a toilet on the internet, but after factoring in shipping and the price, it saved me about a hundred dollars.

The toilet came via Fedex, and the big label on the front says, "Open immediately and check for damage." I took one look at the delivery guy and knew that he wasn't about to sit there and watch me unpack the beast. He didn't even want a signature, so as I watched his truck drive away down our driveway, I let the box sit there until the morning and crossed my fingers that there was nothing wrong with it.

And it was fine, thank you. I unpacked the toilet and checked it over, and it was actually a beautiful piece of work. Though we take toilets for granted, when they are shiny and new, they're pretty nice to touch and view. Our kids got a huge kick out of it and Nicholas was just itching to take it apart. I'd decided to fix it Saturday morning, keeping Kurt Boland's number close at hand in the event of disaster. I also figured that Britton's would be open if I needed anything, which of course, I did.

The removal and installation were smooth, for the most part, and well beyond the scope of a this blog, but suffice it to say that we pulled it off. We rid ourselves of the black toilet, and I even managed to take it to the dump that day. A cathartic experience, if there ever was one.

And now we have a beautiful new toilet! And it's a Toto.