Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Roof

Or should I say "roofs?"

After putting them off for about 6 months, the roofers finally came and put on our new standing seam roof. I must say, roofers are a colorful lot, but a cool group of guys. No sissies in that bunch, and I have to confess, they were very nice to the kids, especially N, who was fascinated by all that they were doing. They were very patient and nice to him, allowing him to hang out and watch. I appreciate that.

The roofers took about three days, and worried a bit that they were going to go over the estimated price. They did a little, but not by much, and not without first consulting with us to see if the extra work required was okay by us. It was.

It did throw us out of whack, a bit, mainly because I found it hard to do things outside while they were out there, being the intimidating bunch that they were. Part of it was being self-conscious, and part of it was that I didn't want to get in the way. The kids were at clown camp, so they were out of the picture for half of the day.

Call me a wimp, but I found I didn't want to do things like hang the laundry or cook dumplings (which we now do outside) while the roofers were there. I know, I was a wimp, but somehow hanging laundry on the line outside just didn't seem like it would win me any "real man" points with these guys. Even mowing the lawn was not a possibility because the yard was overtaken by their tools and equipment.

They worked Thursday and Friday, and then told us that they'd be back on Monday to finish the job, which excited N because he loved to watch. I kept thinking that the extra day would translate into extra cost, but again, it didn't work out that way. Iron Horse was true to their original estimate.

On Monday, the guys were wrapping things up, and at one point I had to go and pick the kids up at camp. I left some beers for the guys, being the nice guy that I am, and asked them to save the bottle caps for N since he likes to collect them. The roofers enjoyed the beers and even took the bottles with them. They did, however, leave the caps, and left a few of their own that must have been sitting on the floor of their trucks, which was nice of them. They were all Budweiser, go figure.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cleaning Roof

In preparation for the roofers to come, I set about cleaning the moss off the roof before the install the standing seam, and let me tell, that stuff is not easy to remove. The roofers told me that it was a good idea to clean off the excess moss, otherwise they would do the rest.

Figuring it would be a piece of cake, I took out the ladder and got up there, and ended up spending hours in the hot sun trying to get that stuff off.

I later learned that when the stuff is dry, it cakes on like rubber cement and requires a fair degree of effort to scrape it off. Everyone says it'll come right off with a push broom, but I ended up using a pry bar to scrape it off. Factor in the fact that it is amazingly prolific, and it's a tough job that is nearly impossible to clean thoroughly.

What is really a drag is that unless you get every little bit off, the darn stuff returns with a vengeance at the first sign of cool moisture, i.e. the next morning. I couldn't believe it.

I noticed that when the stuff is moist and plumped up from the rain, it is much easier to scrape off, so that's good to know for the next roof I need to clean, which may be never. Also, I had to remove some fairly well established wasp's nests to work up there, which always makes the job more fun and interesting, especially on top of a roof.

Then again, a real man wouldn't complain about these things, so neither will I.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

PS I was told later by the roofers that the moss will simply die beneath the metal roof, so I didn't need to fret over removing it, though stressing over life's details is like breathing for me.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Good Turnout at Karate

We had quite the good turnout at karate last night. The only people who were missing were C&I and D, but no telling when he'll be back. We had about half a dozen new students, and the return of some veterans to make for an excellent class. Master Hammond was excited, and one of the new guys is quite the junior marine. It'll be interesting sparring with him, I have a feeling it's going to fall into my lap.

I'm also determined to be more diligent about practicing my katas. This came to light when MH asked me to demonstrate a kata and I couldn't remember how to do it. He let me off the hook with a bo kata, but I felt like I really let him down. With the Grateful Dumpling and all that's going on in our lives, it's easy for karate to fall by the wayside, and I think that's a big mistake. Fatigue, however, has an interesting way of taking over.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go practice my lethal blows.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Sonja Mildner for the pic.

One Roof Down, One To Go

I finally contacted the roofers to come and put on the roof, but my work is not yet completed. How's that for living life on the edge? I still need to remove the excess moss on the shingles, and that requires me putting my feet on the roof. My plan, which is always beautiful and perfect in my mind, is to extend the ladder as far as it will go, use the other ladder to get up there, and then scale the roof by walking up the ladder. Professionals do this all the time, and they make it look so easy.

Getting on the roof is the easy part, it's the getting down part that gets me. I'd been told that removing moss was easy enough with a stiff broom, but like all things in life, it wasn't that simple. Some of that moss is glued on with super-glue. I couldn't get it off with a hammer and chisel. Actually, that would probably work, but would also put a hole in the rood.

The situation is complicated by the fact that I have no time, with making dumplings and carting the kids off to various activities and shopping for food and fighting woodchucks. I still need to finish splitting and stacking the firewood. Okay, enough of my whining, at least for the next half hour.

I spent the better part of the day scrubbing the moss off. I started with a rough brush to loosen the stuff, then used a push broom to remove the last of it. Even then, there were times when I had to use my finger to scrape the stuff off. It seems like the sun baked the stuff on. That's what happens when you put things off.

By dinner time, I'd finally gotten the roof into marginally acceptable condition, and can now move onto the other roof. I'm hoping this one won't be as bad. Truth is, the roof on the barn was pretty bad, and was left that way for years, so it makes sense that it was a challenge. The roof of our house should be interesting because it has a much steeper pitch, so when I slip and head down to the ground, I will have achieved the maximum volume possible when free-falling. I can't wait. Isn't gravity a great thing?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Suffering From Complacency

We were feeling pretty good about ourselves and the measures we had taken to keep the woodchuck out of the garden, when suddenly he was back, and with a vengeance. I should have impaled him when I had the chance. The thing that kills us is that he really went to town, eating up a lot of the beans and doing major damage to the cabbage. Our soybeans are pretty much toast, and R is at the end of her rope.

I went down and did some further mending to the deer fence, but at some point you begin to wonder if it's worth it. The battles are exhausting, not to mention seemingly futile and frustrating to no end. Then again, we could always exterminate the guy. In fact, if the situation continues, that is exactly what I'm going to do. Our good friend WM is a farmer and trapper/hunter, and an expert at all three. He has several gardens and said he's trapped a dozen skunks and almost as many woodchucks in his field. I think I'll seek his advice.

In meantime, we'll watch and wait. It is really discouraging when you walk down to the garden and see that the woodchuck has done a number on the veggies. There are so many plants out there, why ours? I know, stupid question.

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

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our Bounty and Keeping Woodchucks at Bay

The garden is moving along at a fair clip, no thanks to me because it is really the hard work of R. We're still asking ourselves if gardening is worth it. R is doing a great job, considering that she holds a job and is a mother to a children and mate to me. Life isn't easy out here in the woods, and it really struck us how busy and difficult summer is. It is really a misconception that summers are relaxing and easy. Not on this end of the planet.

We have been devouring turnips and their greens lately, and it is not something I'd eaten in the past. In fact, when she told me that she was growing them, my first thought was, why? Who eats these things.

Of course, they came out beautifully, so we immediately set about searching for recipes on the web. We came upon a great one with sauteed onions and bacon. A new family favorite, and fairly easy to prepare.

As of today, we have not seen the re-emergence of the woodchuck, so maybe my tormenting him had some effect. That, or the mending job we did on the fence. Whatever be the case, we'll take it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Plumbing Master and the Next Roof Stage

JH is one of my new heroes. The guy should wear tights and a cape. He came over and fixed the darn pipes without hesitating. I would have cogitated on the problem for months before doing anything, but he just jumped right in. And, he's got a serious tool kit (can anyone say "real-man?), complete with a propane torch. Amazing.

We set about immediately to fix the outdoor faucet. The first order of business was to remove the old one, which entailed unscrewing it, of all thing. I didn't realize it was all one piece, and you simply unscrewed it and pulled it through. At first glance, it looked to me like it had been welded together, but that seems to be some sort of artifact of continuous running water. After pulling it through, we got into JH's car and headed over to the hardware store. He even let me drive his car, which is a Honda Fit. We are toying with getting one, and it was nice to give it a spin. Nice car.

We went to Britton's, but they didn't have the right size and would have to order it, which would take a few days. Being the men of action that we are, this wouldn't do, so we jetted over to Woodstock Home and Hardware and found the right size. And they had two of them.

B never showed up, and he did call, but the guy is losing credibility over here. Not sure where to go with that one. We do need someone to come and look at that floor, however. I will give him a call.

Finally, I took the plunge and called the roofers and told them to "Come on down." Just call me Bob Barker. They said they will probably come in the next week, so I have to get on that roof and clean off all the moss. Since the trees were cut down, the moss has sort of died off, but it's still sitting on the shingles. I need to get up there with a broom and sweep the stuff off, which isn't rocket science, but entails working up on the roof, which is never a fun proposition, especially in light of the fact that my friend just recently fell off the roof and thought he broke his back. Ouch! Plus, it is not as if I have a lot of free time, especially since dumplings have taken over our lives, but no sense in whining about it... as if that ever stopped me.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to ARL and NRL for the pics.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When it rains...

Boy, when it rains, it sure pours.

The list of things to do on the house is never ending, and it always seems to grow in leaps and bounds. I've managed to get the barn almost ready for the roofers. In fact, I'm going to call them and tell them it's ready, even though I still have to sweep some of the moss off, but I can do that in a day (famous last words).

In the meantime, I need a professional (I need professional help) to come and look at the floor boards near the entrance. The water damage has led to some rot, and the question then becomes, what to do next. I think JH and I are capable of fixing the deck, I have a better understanding of how it is attached, and I think removal will not be easy, but doable. However, if the floor boards need to be replaced, we are looking at framing issues, which is a big deal on a finished house. It's easy on an unfinished frame, you just knock out a few boards with a sledge hammer, but on a house, I'm guessing, it's not so simple. Time to call B. The problem I run into with contractors is getting them to show up in the first place, but we'll see.

We also need to fix the pipes in the basement, but JH says he's up to the task. He even has a torch and soldering capabilities. Amazing. What can't that guy do? He's definitely well established in the real man department, he's got an amazing tool set. I think we'll begin on that this week. The dripping pipe is not urgent because it only drips when you turn on the outside faucet, and then we can catch the water in a bucket. I know it's a short term solution, but a solution, nonetheless.

We also have some problems with carpenter ants. This bums me out to no end. I found a bunch of dead ones under the trap door to the deck, and it makes sense because the wood is rotting and is exposed to endless amounts of rain. It is cedar, however, but there must be pine trim somewhere. Either way, there are ants. People say, "Don't worry, they're dead," which baffles me, because surely where there are dead ones, there are live ones. I think we need to replace that deck, but in the meantime, we need to tackle those ants. I also found one in the sink, which really worries me, though there are no visible signs of water damage or rot. The window trim to the basement, however, is rotted, and it's possible they live in there and went on a mission to seek food, which brought them to the sink.

I spoke with HH, who is a former contractor, and she recommended putting poison baits in the form of boric acid before ripping up the walls and deck. I'm all for it, and will give it a try. I will also work on that darn window frame to the basement.

It amazes me to no end how nature continually assaults you, and wins. I'm thinking that composite boards may be in order.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Dimitri Castrique for the pic.

Friday, July 9, 2010

War Has Been Declared

Just when you thought it was safe to let your guard down and wallow in complacency, trouble rears its ugly head once again. We were cruising along with the garden, feeling smug with ourselves, when all of a sudden, R began noticing that several of the plants were being eaten down to the root. At first we suspected a small rodent like a mole or a very large insect. After all, how the heck was a groundhog going to get into the garden, we sealed that thing up like Fort Knox.

The problem began to gradually get worse until it was clear some sort of large mammal was helping themselves to our bounty. We concluded it must be a groundhog, even though there weren't any holes being dug into the garden. S&M G did a fabulous job in constructing that fence, and sure enough, it has held its ground. The question then became, how the heck is he getting in?

We figured he might be entering by crawling through a hole in the deer mesh, then scaling the wire fence to get in. Interestingly enough, there were areas where it was clear he was trying to dig his way out, but failed.

Well, sure enough, on the day that I was supposed to be getting ready for the local market, I went down to the garden to inspect things and caught one of the varmints in the garden. He was chomping on something and tried to hide in some onions. I ran into the shed to get something to bludgeon him with, but within seconds he was onto me and bolted out of the garden. I did, however, figure out his entry and exit strategy. I turns out that true enough, he finds holes in the deer mesh, crawls in, and then scales the wire fence, not even leaving a trace of how he does it. Brilliant.

And man did he bolt out of there quickly. By the time I came out of the shed, pitchfork in hand, he was long gone. I got some old barn boards and sealed the bottom of the fence, then stapled the loose mesh onto the boards. For the record, the heat was excruciating. I then went back inside and started preparing for the market, but just before I fired up the stove to heat the oil, I went back down to check on the barrier, and sure enough, the little bugger had come back and tried to breach the fence. Unable to get through the mesh, he tried digging underneath, but was stopped by the wire fence. You gotta love foresight and good planning.

Well, that might have been the end of it, except that after cooking the dumplings and preparing to clean up, some two hours later, I paid the garden another visit, and saw yet another groundhog in the garden. This guy was bigger, and he seemed trapped inside, as if he'd forgotten where the door was. I got the pitchfork and went inside, ready to turn him into coyote fodder.

He was bummed, and started to panic. He couldn't figure out how to exit, and as I approached him, he started getting a little testy. I have to confess, it unnerved me a little. As I got even closer, he bolted right at me, and my Mentor will shake his head in shame at my admitting this, but it scared me. I let out a yelp, after, of course, I wet my pants and soiled my underwear. However, I was poised and ready to plunge that pitchfork into his guts, but just as he passed me, I found I couldn't do it.

I realize this may seriously jeopardize my chances of ever being a real man, but somehow killing this furry little creature just because he's eating a few root vegetables in our garden seemed a bit much. He's just trying to eat. Maybe shooting him would be easier.

I then tried to scare him out of the garden, leaving the gate open, but the guy still couldn't figure things out. After chasing him around the perimeter, he finally put two and two together and bolted out the front entrance. You want to know what's really crazy about all this? He seems to have taken up residence underneath our shed. How's that for convenience? It's like living next to McDonald's. I'm hoping I traumatized him enough so that he won't come back, but somehow I doubt it.

Oh well, maybe I'll get another chance to win real man points if I can manage to take him out. Only time will tell.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Lynn Haas for the pic.

Twin Dormers

Believe it or not, I've managed to finish the second dormer, almost (note the before and after). I've installed the two window and now need to simply seal them with I&W shield, than we're almost ready for the roofers. I just need to get up there and clean off the excess moss on both roofs, and if I can, squeeze in a chimney cleaning, and we're good to go. Amazing.

The next step, I believe, as indicated by my Mentor, would be to put in the soffit, and then start in on the siding, which will be a bear of a job, but JH said he'd be up for helping out. Beautiful.

For now, after I'm done sealing, I'll break down the platform and remove the brackets, and move on to greener pastures, like second floor door, which is going to be a challenge to install, to say the least. Whose idea was that?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Firewood and The Deck

I saw JH the other day at the market and then the 4th of July fair, and we both agreed that if we put our heads together, we'd have one darn big head. Actually, we concurred that working together, we felt like we could tackle most jobs around here, being that he's a real man and I'm a real man in training. The barn project is ongoing, but I got to thinking that attention really needs to be paid to our front deck. I've basically ignored it for the past 6 months, much to the chagrin of R, and it may be the fitting next chapter in our journey towards manhood, or at least mine.

I think the next time JH comes over, we'll take a good long look at it and decide on a course of action. It could be challenging, but nothing that won't make for good reading, and everyone loves a good story.

On other fronts, I also need to return my attention to firewood. We stacked this year's pile and then seemed to cease thinking about the rest of the wood. It took me awhile to cut up the logs, thanks in a large part to my beautiful new chain, and now I've got to split and stack year two. We also got our new pile of logs (years 3 and 4), which I might cut up a bit before Winter arrives. I figure I've got a jug filled with gasoline, so I might as well use it up.

In the meantime, I need to move those blocks over to the splitting area, which is no small task when you're using a wheelbarrow. Speaking of which, I think I may need to replace the bed on mine, it's really taken a beating.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

This Could Be The Week

The kids will be away at camp during the day all this week, so I think I might very well get some stuff done around the house, though it's supposed to be ugly scorching hot out here. Whose idea was that?

The first order of business will be to get the dormers done and have the roofers come and do their thing. After doing battle with an army of hornets, I managed to clear the roof of about thirty of their nests. I then replaced the fascia, which like many things in life, was much easier the second time around. In fact, I'm rather disappointed in the awful job I did the first time around on the first dormer, and if I had all the time in the world (which I don't), I'd go back and redo it, but it's done, and sometimes we just have to move on with our lives.

Having said that, after I finish nailing in the fascia, I can frame the windows, install, and then Tyvek, and we're good to go. Hopefully the framing won't be too bad, but I won't make any predictions at this point. Once the windows are in and the roof is on, the barn will be fairly well sealed from the elements, and that will be a major milestone, maybe even grounds for a celebration, but who's got time for complacency?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Good Karate Class

Sensei CH couldn't make it to class last week, and my first impulse is to always cancel the class. However, Master JH was going to be there, as was D, so it was going to be fine. We went ahead with class and it turned out nicely. Best of all, A&N wanted to come along and watch, probably in a large part because their friends show up. I did notice, however, that when A was playing with one of her friends who tends to play a little rough, she could have easily taken him out with a little patience a skill. She would thus benefit from taking the class, but that may be coming soon.

Anyway, we had a good class, Master H took over and we went over katas, though D gave me some constructive criticism on my form, which I of course took to heart. He's the man.

Often when CH isn't there, we don't spar, but Master H wanted to get down to business, which meant that I was going to have to do battle in front of the kids. The pressure was on, and though I didn't have to win, I felt like I needed to score some points in front of them. Mission accomplished. In fact, afterward, N came up to me and gave me a pat on the back and said, "Nice job, dad."

I think they are getting closer to joining in. At least I hope so.

Until then, thanks for reading.