Friday, July 31, 2009

My Short Term Plan

I have four goals in the next week, though getting too ambitious seems to have the opposite effect of making me do nothing. Anyway, here goes. I want to:

fix the lawnmower carburetor
sand and paint the trim on the roof
remove the tiles on the deck
change the oil in the car

That's not asking too much, is it? Each task involves a lot more than described, but isn't that the case with everything? I got a chisel and will begin to chip away at the grout and see how it goes. Part of me would like to just take a sledge to that deck, but another part of me wants to see if I can pull this off (no pun intended) without completely destroying them. I realize it's naive of me to say this considering that I have no experience, but I think I can do it. It seems straightforward enough, but even the experts say I'm a fool to think this. What else is new?

I put in a new air filter in the car, which is an amazingly easy thing to do, but if you go the shop, they'll charge you for labor, which is a total scam. Be aware! I'm also going to try to change the oil, another thing that gives me anxiety, but I'm committed. This should be interesting.

I'll start with the easy stuff-destroying the deck. At least I can't get that wrong, can I? Also have to do some research in removing a carburetor. I'm going to try to remove it and then soak the thing in carb cleaner. Dismantling it is beyond me and then I'll have to take it in, but I think I can simply remove and soak.

Wish me luck. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Lawnmower Issues

I'm a bit conflicted here, and as usual I'm getting conflicting advice. I tried the suggestions of the guys at Joe's-I started the mower with the air filter off, and replaced the spark plug-both with no results. I asked the folks at Charlie Brown's and they said right off the bat that I had carburetor problems, which has been suggested to me, so I'm back to square one.

Now I don't know if I'm man enough to rebuild a carburetor, but from what I understand, the first step might be to simply soak the thing in carburetor cleaner. That might do the trick, though the easiest and simplest thing would be to just take the darn thing in, but we aren't looking for the easy way, are we?

It's off to the auto parts store to get carb cleaner and while I'm there, I might as well get oil and a filter for the car. What am I getting myself into here? I don't think soaking a carb is too bad, even if I've never done it before. Heck, I've gotta give it a try. Wish me luck.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Lawnmower Developments and Home Improvement Confusion

It turns out the whole drama behind my lawnmower has not been resolved just yet, in a good way, mind you. In the beginning it was going to be a simple case of taking the thing into Joe's and having them deal with it, when my real man in training instincts kicked and told me to at least try it myself, thanks in no small part to the encouragement of the guys at Joe's. I love those guys, you have to appreciate when a business compromises their own bottom line by informing you that you can do it yourself.

Anyway, the original plan was for me to try dismantling the carburetor and cleaning it, something I've never done and had never planned on doing. The logic was if I totally screwed it up, a strong possibility, I could always just take it in.

Well, after talking to them again, M told me to that before I go off and start taking things apart, try doing the simple stuff first. Test the mower without the air filter, check the gasket, and replace the spark plug. All things I can do... I think.

I know one thing, I'll be a Joe's client for life.

On the barn front, just wanted to mention that I am once again getting mixed signals. Some people say replace the roof, others say if it ain't broke, why fix it? Who do you believe? I want someone to just hold my hand and tell me what to do, but no such luck in a real man's world. It's all part of my training, right?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mike's Mobil Station

Now this is about as unscientific as they come, but we've noticed something interesting about our car. We've had problems for the past year with the check engine light coming on. There's no explaining it because we took it in to have it checked out and they said they dealt with it. Still, it keeps coming on. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal except for the fact that I don't think the inspectors will pass the car if the light is on, but what do I know?

Anyway, it was off for about six months and then suddenly it came back on, but we had a sense of time and place, i.e., what had changed that made it go on. We traced it back to the gas we were using, and what happened was that I had gone to Sunoco when for the past several months we had been using Mike's Mobil Station, our bitchen local service station. Mike's a great guy, BTW.

Well, to test our theory, we ran the tank low and then switched back to Mike's Mobil. Nothing at first, but after about a tank of gas went through, suddenly the light went out. It's been off ever since, and it's been about two weeks.

Now I don't know what the reason is, but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. It's Mike's Mobil from here on in. Kind of interesting, kind of cool, though I'm not sure what to make of it all.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Projects Around the House

So for all it's worth, I'm not for want of things to do around the house, even in lieu of being a complete bum over the weekend. There three biggies that come to mind. The first will be to overhaul the deck in front of the house. The current state of the deck is fine on the surface, but for whatever reason the person who installed and oversaw its construction (that would include MG) failed to deal with the fact that the deck leans in towards the house. The consequence of this is that water runs toward the house and collects along the front door. While it doesn't get in through the front entrance, it does leak through the tiles and into the basement, soaking the frame and the floor boards. NOT A GOOD THING.
So the plan is to gently pry the tiles off and salvage as much of it as I can, though I've got free license to destroy the things, so I'm not too concerned. Even still, I'll try to be graceful, because they are nice tiles, not to mention, I'm sure, expensive. My mentor told me to just try and ram a pry bar underneath and lift and see what happens. I think I can do that. Once we have them up, we need to cut out the wood and then replace it so that the pitch of the deck slopes away from the house. Then lay the tiles, grout them, and caulk the heck out of the seams. Sounds easy enough... if you're friggin Bob Vila.

The other thing I need to do is sand and paint the trim along the root. Normally this would be a piece of cake if it weren't so high up. The rain doesn't help, either, but I've got to tackle this before winter kicks in. Though I have some time, better now than later. What will make this job a bear is that I don't have a scaffolding, so I'll have to do it a few feet at a time. Sand, paint, then move the ladder a few feet and repeat. Sounds like the instructions on a shampoo bottle.

Then, of course, I'll have to finish painting the clapboards and then the windows. Then I'll have finished half of my mandatory painting work, according to the Jack Castle 2 and 4 theory of house painting, which states that you should paint the two sides that get the most sun every two years, and then the other sides every four years. It works out so that the high sun sides get painted every two years and the low sun sides get it every four years. Is that perfectly confusing?

I've also decided to venture into territory that mortifies with me fear but I'm going to give it a try due to the thumbs up by my favorite tool store, Joe's. I'm going to try and remove, dismantle, clean, reassemble, and reinstall the carburetor on my lawnmower. First, however, I need to locate it. Wish me luck. You might not be able to tell, but our lawnmower is shaking with fear at the prospect of me working on her. I figure that if I succeed in even one of these steps, I'm farther along than I was a year ago. If I get two, then I'm looking good, and any more than that, then look out for Fred, real man in training.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Week of No Returns and Dealing with Next Week

Last week was tough, we were out and about every day with camp and the weather was lousy (how much rain can a person endure?) so of course I got nothing done around the house. This was aggravated by the fact that our lawnmower kicked the bucket-I'm not sure what's going on, but after doing a little research, I think it has something to do with the fuel line or carb. Listen to me, as if I had any idea what I was talking about.

Did I mention that our critter is back and raiding the compost bin? The one tiny spot that I had left unattended was sure enough where he struck, but it was enough to drive a couple of stakes in and close the door on that one. Somehow I seriously doubt that this is the last we'll see of him, even if we now have the Fort Knox of compost bins.

I did resolve to change the oil in our car myself. Something every real man does. And I also thought it was time to store the beloved chainsaw. My original plan was to use up the nearly two gallons of gas that I still have in the can, but it's about two months old, and the guys at Joe's said don't use it if it's more than two months. I also read somewhere that one month was the limit. While I hate to waste the gas, I'm more concerned about the welfare of the saw. So I'll use up what's in there and then prepare it for the winter. Makes my life easier, actually, and will help me overcome my OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) for firewood and move on with my life. I've cut about half a cord and will stack that in the woods for splitting next year.

Now comes the lawnmower. Now in the past I've been guilty of not storing it properly, and now that's come back to haunt me. The darn thing won't start, and I think a trip to Joe's in order. Darn. The good guys at Joe's did say that I could fix it myself if I was handy, but that there were a lot of small parts and if one got lost, then forget about it, so I'm leaning to taking it in. In the meantime, our yard looks like something out of Wild Kingdom, it sort of bums me out. Maybe I should get an old fashioned push mower while the other one is out.

We've also decided to do something about our lawn. Not sure what, I have no experience in dealing with grass other than smoking the stuff, but something has to be done, and I'm guessing I'm the one to do it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Lynne Lancaster for the pic.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Look Johnny

So I've gone and done it again. Am I dork, or what? I've changed the look on this blog, as well as my parenting blog, though I've got to admit I'm rather partial to the current look. This is supposed to be ochre, whatever the heck that is. I thought it looked greenish but at this point I'm not sure. Whatever color it actually is, it seems to go with the green, and this seems to be the only template that lets me use a big image at the center. Man, it's hard being so clueless about these things.

I was going to use this image for my parenting blog, as well, what with the whole family theme and all, but I've got one already (compliments of my wife) and this one seems to say what I'd like to say, though don't ask me what that is... please!

Either way, thanks for reading.

First Steps

Me thinks the first steps to doing this barn will be to contact the excavator and get the darn septic system in. I haven't spoken to these guys in months and I'm sure they've written me off as a complete flake, which is not unwarranted. Then again, they may be stoked to hear from me because a job is a job.

There is, however, 0ne serious matter that needs to be attended to, and that's the front porch deck. For whatever reason it was made with a slope into the house, and during heavy storms the water pools up against the house, and then seeps into the basement. It's kind of a serious thing, and makes me wonder why MG, who is a very together person, made such a screw up in design. Either way, DIY Dave said not to let it go another winter, so with word from above, it must be done. My mentor seems excited about the prospect of tearing the thing up, and it of course terrifies me. But such are the tests for a real man in training.

I'll have to talk to my mentor about what I need to do. If it simply entails tearing the thing up with a sledgehammer, I think I can do that. But if it requires some skill and finesse, then I'm already in way over my head. We'll see where to go with this one.

I haven't mowed the lawn in weeks, and we've been getting so much rain that the grass is growing like... well, grass. I need to get on that and will hope for some sunny weather.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Like Being Run Over

One thing about my mentor is that he's a just-do-it kind of guy, so much so that when I deal with him I feel like I'm being run over by a truck. Not for the faint of heart, and I have a faint heart. Then again, it's with guys like him that things get done, whereas with someone like me, I sit around with my thumb up my ass and then wonder (or complain) why things never change. There's a lesson in there.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tool Time

One cool by-product of this house project will be that we're going to get some new tools, and some serious ones. Ones that I thought would be cool to have but could never really justify buying-namely a table saw and a reciprocating saw. Just another real man plug-Home Improvement Dave (HID) complimented me on my tools and tool bag. Did I mention this already? Always looking for some validation, it's my insecurities talking. I'm sure there are other things I'll need, but for now, that's where it stands.

Talked to my sensei about doing the roofing job and once again it was hard to get some definite info out of him. He's so laid back, everything is just "we'll talk about it." I need concrete answers, but maybe this is the process of becoming a real man-being more laid back. And they don't come any more "real-man-ish" than my sensei. He's the type who rubs dirt in a gaping wound and then goes back to work. He's also a big believer in DYI, and said he would teach me how to do the roof and that I could help. Yikes!

My son and I were at Home Depot and we looked at windows and tools. The windows didn't seem too exhorbitant, and I'm not sure where Home Improvement Dave (HID) and my mentor are getting their figures, but they're talking $10,000 for new ones, which I can tell you right now is not going to happen. The tools looked affordable, as well. At the least the reciprocating saw, not sure what a table saw will run, but more research is in order.

Did my karate exercises last night, at least a good number of them. And only one day after class, no less. I'm on a roll and there ain't no stopping me.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to James Goneaux for the pic.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Scoring Real-Man Points, Our Own House Issues

Since I'm always looking for validity in the eyes of real men, not an easy thing for a sensitive guy like myself, it means a lot when I score real-man points. In the world according to Dave, he gave me thumbs up on my tool bag, my miter saw, and some of my tools. Gotta take what you can when you can get it. We also jived on how we sharpen our chainsaws, using a Dremel. Speaking of Dremels, since I used it to sharpen my chain, it's been cutting beautifully. We're back to the butter effect, i.e., like cutting through butter. I have to confess that I didn't have as much luck with the file, but that may come with practice. Besides, you can't beat it for convenience.

The world according to Dave also gave me a thumbs up on my job with the clapboards on the back of the house. Am I on a roll, or what? Best of all, we don't have to replace the boards, according to Dave, which is a huge relief.

Then again, I can't get too cocky. That always leads to disaster.

The world according to Dave (WAD) also mentioned the problems with our roof. He said he'd never seen so much moss forming without a tree to blame, and I reckoned it had to do with the fact that the front faces north and get no sunlight. Whatever be the case, we're getting leakage and the tiles are looking fried. Not that I would know either way. He said that when we replace the roof on the barn, look into replacing the front of our house at the same time. More money and time.

One last quick note-I've won the latest battle in the war of the compost bin, though I know this conflict is far from over. I bit the bullet and pounded stakes around most of the perimeter, so the critter can't dig his way into the compost. It appears to have worked because there are the telltale signs that he tried. Just a matter of time before he finds his way back in, however.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Coming Into Focus, Firewood Progress, the House and Garden

The barn project is coming more into focus, and we don't feel as dejected or discouraged. What a difference a day makes, though it still amazes me how much people do to their houses and don't seem to blink an eye at the cost. Crazy. After speaking with mentor and his friend D, we have a better sense of what to do and how to do it. It's going to be an astronomical job, but according to the people in the know, a "fun" project. We'll see how that turns out. First things first-secure funds and get the septic put in. There are times I do wonder why we are embarking on this whole thing in the first place, but some questions are better not asked.

We'll also need to get some key tools. I have the miter saw and good cordless drill, but I'll need a reciprocating saw and table saw. Time to hit Home Depot. I did learn that even pro contractors don't get a break at HD, and got two thumbs up for LaValley's, so it looks like we'll be spending some time over there, even if they aren't all warm and fuzzy. Apparently it's where the pros shop, so they don't need to give me hugs and kisses. Not that I needed them.

We have our own house projects that need to be attended to. The problem of our leaky front deck can no longer be ignored, and according to Dave, we shouldn't let it go another winter. So me and my mentor will need to tear it up, change the angle of inclination, and replace the tile. In the world according to Dave, it should cost around $300. My kind of estimate. Once you start getting into four figures, it makes me nervous. My mentor is fearless and I can see the eager anticipation in his eyes of using real man tools as well as the process of cutting, destroying, and rebuilding. This should be interesting, to say the least.

Quick notes-the wood is almost completed. I've got 75% of two years of wood cut, split, stacked and covered. The last 25% needs to be covered and then we're done. Actually, we're good to go as it is since this winter's wood is ready to burn. Need to get more tarps. Also, I'm stacking the unsplit blocks in the woods, and that's a relief. This entire path was filled with seven cords of cut but unsplit blocks. At least the wood is protected from rotting and is out of the way. Finally, I still need to cut my extra six cords, as well as use up the gas for my chainsaw before it goes south.

Did I mention I need to paint the trim and clapboards on the back? And the grass needs cutting? Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Last Chance and No Escaping the Barn

Today is my last chance to redeem myself in the eyes of the karate gods, and the funny thing is, it wouldn't take much in terms of time and effort. Besides, I was at the pool yesterday and became acutely aware of the battle of the bulge. There are some seriously unhealthy people out there, but to their credit, they don't let it stop them from having fun. All the more power to them.

My mentor's friend D is coming over today to look over the barn and give us feedback and advice. part of this process will be for us to have questions and decisions ready for him, which means we'll be clueless, lost, and unprepared, just like always. But at the very least, we'll be one step further along in this process. One of the biggest issues that we face is what to do with that darn siding. We like the rustic look of the wood and would like to keep it as it is for the aesthetics as well as the simplicity and convenience (i.e., it's already on there), but there seems to be a number of issues, first of which is the amount of wear that it has already incurred over the years. Not sure how old the barn is, but it has been hit a bit by the weather and such, and it shows.

Note the darkening of the wood near the ground, and the boards were put on green such that they have contracted and now have gaps between them. Apparently this can be easily amended by way of spray foam, but everything sounds easy in theory and isn't always so in practice. The other issue is that I'm not sure if they put Tyvek under one side of the house, and if they did not, whether or not this is an issue. Will have to investigate all these things. So many questions, I just don't know what they are. The beautiful thing about situations like this is that I don't know anything but can't seem to come up with any questions until after the source of information has left and gone home. Of course, I wish someone else would simply deal with all this, but such is the life of a real man in training.

Another issue that is just eating away at us are those windows. Nobody seems to like those windows, and I have to confess that they are not the best, though they work. And they are on the there already, so that's a huge bonus. Most of the people we talk to, including my mentor, don't seem to blink an eye at the idea of pouring money into a project. It's just no big deal to them, and maybe that's the way it should be, but I have a lot of trouble with it. It just makes me uneasy, and the idea of replacing the windows at the cost of thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars, just doesn't sit well with me. Maybe this is all a process.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Living a Meatloaf Song

Two out of three ain't bad, as the saying goes. We borrowed GL's big truck and made a family trip out to Home Depot expressly to get a chest freezer, and ended up getting two rugs, as well. Home Depot has this huge tent in their parking lot selling rugs and implying that you can get them at clearance prices, with is just a marketing sham because the tent is always out there. I'm no expert on rugs, but they still seem expensive to me, but I think everything is expensive.

We uncharacteristically got sidetracked and spent an hour in the rug tent, and R picked two out. We then went inside and they were sold out of the chest freezer we wanted. In fact, they didn't even have a floor model, and their selection was a bit shoddy. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in Home Depot, the salesperson seemed to not know what was going on and pulled the "old search and find info" to my question thing, i.e., she didn't really know the answer, though she was pretty quick on her feet and played it off well.

We bought the two rugs, and then went to Sears and got our freezer. It turns out that (according to the salesperson) Kenmore is a better brand, anyway... funny how that works. Being the complete sucker for a sales pitch, I of course bought into it and we got the freezer. His words didn't seal the deal or change anything, we were destined to get a freezer, but it made me feel good that we had serendipity (according to his wisdom, mind you) on our side.

Well, it turned out that one of the rugs was great, the other one just didn't work, and the freezer had a big ding in it. We had to borrow GL's truck once again, he was super helpful, and we got a new freezer, no question's asked-I was a little concerned they would give me a hard time, but Sears has kick-butt customer service. At one point I thought we could live with the damage, mainly due to the hassle of getting GL's truck and returning the darn thing, but I decided that was a lame way to go. We paid for a new freezer and that's exactly what we should have got, or at least one in pristine condition.

So we got it. We now have a new freezer to store meat and fruit, and a beautiful new rug in our front entry way (the kids thought it would make a great place to make Lego creations). The other rug we'll have to be exchange, but two out of three ain't bad. I'll take it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Karate Vows and Backyard Battles

Okay, today is Wednesday and it's not too late for me to practice my katas and one step spars and get enough practice to feel like I've adequately put my time in. Thursday is almost acceptable, Friday is pushing it, and by Saturday, I've already blown it. The ball is in my court, it's up to me.

I've been doing battle with some sort of critter in our backyard that's been invading our compost. I'm guessing it's a raccoon because he's tenacious and eats the corn. We saw a skunk at one point over by the bin (the cats wanted to attack but that would have been a disaster) but I'm not sure if they eat garbage. Coons, on the other hand...

Whatever be the case, I'm not sure if I just let the thing eat all the garbage it wants or try to put a stop to it. I've been engaging in the latter, with mixed results. Personally I don't have a problem with some animal eating the food we're tossing out, but man does that thing make a mess, and my feeling is that it's not a good idea to encourage foragers in your yard. We don't the animals in the woods to think that we're an all you can eat buffet. So I've been trying to patch up the holes the animal digs with posts, rocks, and dirt, which stops him at first.

But then all he does is moves to another section of the bin and digs through. It's become a bit of a cat-and-mouse game, and now our bin looks like Fort Knox. Every morning I go out there and find some new tunnel dug along with all the garbage strewn about the yard. What a slob. If he was neater about it I'd let it slide, but at this point it's become a battle, and there is no turning back. I could stop the whole charade by simply putting a barrier all around the compost bin, but that would take some time and effort, and I'm hoping in the back of my mind that he'll give up at some point. Fat chance.

So every day I just go out and drive some more stakes in.

I've been preparing the woods for storage of our wood, and there's plenty of it. I've still got about six cords uncut, and if I ever get around to cutting it, I need a place to store it. I've noticed that there are more ants on this wood than previous piles, perhaps due to the amazing amount of rain we've been getting. Kind of disconcerting. Speaking of wood, I actually started to cover up next season's wood, and should have it done within the next week, but don't hold me to that.

And adding to our responsibilities are our praying mantis'. We are actually raising praying mantis' and they are really cool, except that they eat bugs, and that means I've got to catch them. It's actually not a problem because our compost is a bug sanctuary, it's just that when I go to get them I am literally swarmed with flies. The things we do for knowledge.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's Not My Fault and Home Stuff

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that we actually burned wood on the 10th of July, or at least around there. It's crazy to think of burning wood this late into July, or even in July, for that matter, but the weather has been crazy. It's been raining like you wouldn't believe, and cool, with little to no signs of the sun. I'm no expert on New England weather, but it strikes me as strange. Not sure what to make of it, but our garden is taking a beating and it makes it hard to get a lot done around the house, at least on the outside. I spoke with my beef contact JM and he said he couldn't cut the grass in the field to pasture his cows until just recently because of the rain. It's funny, but everyone is talking about the weather, including yours truly.

I will say this, however-I don't miss the grueling heat. Not that it ever gets that bad up here, I shouldn't whine, but some of those hot, humid summer days really get me down. It's been cool, at the very least, just no sun. And when the sun doesn't shine for days, it can be a bummer.

Oh well, it's been nice the past few days, so we'll take that. In fact, when the sun does shine, the weather has been stellar.

Speaking of wood, I finally finished the wood for the next two years and need to cover 2010's stack. Then begins the process of cutting our second big pile and storing the blocks somewhere in the woods. Should be interesting, and no stress, so fun. I'm hoping that my piles add up to eight cords, four for this winter, four for next. If any wood-people out there beg to differ, please share your thoughts, your input would be much appreciated. With the wood and our fuel contract with Irving all in order, I think we're set this next year at least in terms of heat. As for everything else, we'll see.

Also speaking of wood, my sensei who says he could cut down the tree behind the barn is expecting me to help out in felling the tree, so another notch in my real-man training.

Finally, we got the ultimate real-man accessory for summer, a barbecue. Sure, not manly as far BBQs go, but it works, and the kids get a huge kick out of it. In fact, they go bonkers for the thing, though I'm not sure I want to encourage pyromaniac ways. Even still, it is nice to grill food and eat outdoors during the warmer days. We've been finishing off every meal with s'mores, which adds to the fun. We simply grill them over the coals. We've lucked out with the weather, though it was threatening rain all night last night and didn't come down until we were all done. Much thanks to the rain gods.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Karate, Trees, and Answering to my Mentor

GL has been all over this project in the short term, and I feel like I'm letting him down by not being more enthusiastic and prepared. There's still time to get my act together, but there's so much to do. I was at Britton's the other day asking about siding when I realized that we had already come to a decision on siding, so no reason to even go there. I did get some information on how to set up a contractor's account, so maybe that's a good start. R talked to her dad and they agreed on some process of having a set amount of funds at the ready and then replenishing as necessary.

With that in mind, we'll go ahead with what we have on the barn. The siding looks good and I'm still not sure if it's a viable choice. We need expert advice rather than questions about what we want. We don't know what we want. That's the problem with these kinds of projects, you open the door a crack and the flood comes bowling you over. It's feast or famine on this end.

The project will entail cutting down some trees, which is a bummer because of cost and hassle. We have two huge trees in the back, with four others. GL had a logger come and look at them and decided that about seven trees had to go, including the dead hemlock in the driveway. I actually got to meet the famous Snake, tree man extraordinaire, who both G's know and love. Either way, they said we had some options, which always complicates things. Either cut the trees and then cut the wood for firewood and boards, or just leave them to rot in the woods.

What I wanted was for them to just come in, deal with it, and leave me out of it, but no such luck. I'm going to not only have to be involved, but I have to make decisions. Never a good thing. Actually, scratch that. It's a good thing, just makes me uncomfortable, but for a slacker like me, forcing me out of my comfort zone is a good thing. Otherwise I'd defer to the path of least resistance, which is not always the most rewarding. Indeed, it often is not.

I also had my sensei CH come out and look at it, and he is a logger/climber as well, not to mention a trusted good friend. He said he could do it and wanted to know when to begin, but wouldn't throw out a number, which I need. Just a ballpark, but we can't go forward without some sense of cost. Also, I'd be much more involved with CH, in fact, I'd be right there in the thick of things, which is how I'd like it. I feel much more comfortable with CH, but I just need that darn price.

Karate has been good with the return of M&R. I was a bit skeptical about seeing them again, I assumed that wherever they went didn't seem to work out, and I believe that was the case, but it's good having more bodies, and they are very serious, if not a little out there. Either way, it's been good having them, and one more leader is not a bad thing. We all benefit from more learning. Working my way to my green belt, two more katas to learn. Have to practice, and am thinking more and more of bringing the kids along with me, but we shall see.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Lining Up Contractors

This whole house building thing is a bear, and it's all been laid out for us, so it could be so much worse. We seem to run into the same problem every time, based in lack of information, i.e., ignorance. Everyone asks us the same question-what do you want? I don't know what I want, I guess I just want someone to come in and tell us what to do. It's not, however, going to be so simple, and we are going to have to make some big decisions, which never goes over well with the likes of us, especially where money is involved.

However, now that we have GL with us, there's no more messing around. Not only is he the ultimate do-er, but he's got time to burn, and he's chomping at the bit. So it's time to round up contractors and get some quotes, and get this show on the road. Yikes!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Moving Ahead

We are moving ahead with this barn, and G couldn't be happier. He is asking me about choices for siding and he brought over a couple of guys to estimate the cost of felling some trees. Not too keen on cutting down trees, but these seem like they need to come down for the best of the project. I had originally planned on asking my sensei, but G jumped on it and brought these guys over. They seem like they know their stuff, and I trust G, but I'll ask my friend. They mentioned that the pine would be worthless, and I hate the idea of it going to waste, but what do I know?

The maple, on the other hand, could be used for firewood, so that's good enough for me. As for the siding, I'm not even sure where to begin. We are leaning to taking all the boards off, planing them and using them for the floor. Then we would put up plywood, cover it with Tyvek, and then figure out what to put over that. That's where things get a little sketchy, mainly because of my cluelessness. Such is the life of a flatlander. Time to do some research.

Until then, thanks for reading.