April 22, 2017
New Power Equipment
You might remember how my snow blower died in the middle of one of the biggest storms of this past winter - and how I was relegated to shoveling a wet, heavy 15-17" of snow. I was determined to take advantage of end of season sales, did research for weeks (I research everything to death), and on 4/11 found a deal I just couldn't pass up. Not only was the price right, but HD was offering free shipping too. SOLD!
Yesterday I got home just as the delivery guy was closing the garage door after depositing the pallet holding my prize. There is a slight bit of assembly to do - install the chute and the chute controller, but I have at least 6 months to do so. I am extremely happy with the heaviness of it - no plastic parts there. It is slightly bigger, a lot stronger, and can leap tall buildings, has a slightly larger chute rotation range, and should prove more capable chewing thru berms and heavy, wet snow than my broken snow blower.
I will have a whole new set of controls to get used to, but if that is my biggest issue I will be a happy camper. It is a SnowTek, which is an off-branded Ariens, and it is rated as one of the heavier duty work-horses in its class (and the reviews rave about it). About the only way I could have gotten better was to go to much larger.
And, you probably don't remember that I broke my mower at the end of last summer. I have been perusing CL the last month or so to see if I could find a good used unit. Last Sunday night I came across the ideal - the same size cutting width, somewhat larger motor, the same brand and type as my old mower, 2 years old and slightly used - at about what it would cost to bring the old mower back to fighting shape. I emailed the seller within 3 hours of his posting the ad and asked if I could pick it up that night. I explained I couldn't pick it up during the week because of working days and nights.
Seems he has a soft spot for people with multiple jobs since he has done that for a lot of his adult life. So, he offered to hold it for me until Saturday morning despite the fact that a lot of people were interested (he actually under priced it as far as I was concerned). I picked it up at 8 this morning and am now the proud owner of this mulching, FWD, self-propelled, one pull starting beauty
In talking to the guy his MIL bought it 2 years ago, used it a couple of times then hired a lawn service, who used their own mowers. She then moved to Florida over the winter and asked him to either buy it from her or sell it for her in the spring. He had already gotten a new mower, so it was spring and time to sell. It certainly looks as if it has only been used a couple of times, and we started it before loading it in the Explorer, and it did indeed start in one pull (as it should). The controls are exactly like the old mower, so no new thing-a-ma-jigs to learn on this one.
I will get the old mower fixed since I am reasonably certain I know what is wrong, plus it needs a new blade and tune up. The old mower is a 5.75 instead of a 7.25 but fully capable of performing back up duty and mowing in the areas where roots and rocks stick up out of the ground - what, if my diagnosis is correct, caused the issue in the first place.
April 02, 2017
April Fools - I Wish
The March 30-April 1 snow storm dumpe about 16" of wet, heavy snow in my area. It was great that it didn't start sticking to the roads until I was almost home. I shoveled the first 3" Friday night, but the real accumulation didn't start until later that night. By 8:30 I measured 12".
I got the driveway snow blown, then started on the berm from the road plows
It was hard going and I was thinking how I loved that old snow blower for soldering on only asking that I put in gas and watch the oil level. Well, I'll bet you can guess what happened - I died. Oh, the motor runs great, just engaging the auger kills it. I can't find any reason so suspect either the clutch blew or some sort of bearing froze. The blessing is that it waited to die until I had the berm done. The bad news is that I had to hand shovel a path to the propane tanks and all the way to the back door. I declined to shovel the path to the front door or from the ramp to the mulch pile and where I dump ashes from the pellet stoves (and I have wasded thru the snow 3 times today to go out to that corner of the yard).
I also had to dig out the truck since the snow was over the bottoms of the doors. Also, I need a place for the snow that I pushed off the truck to land - otherwise the snow would have been window high.
I finally got to the point I could pull the truck into the driveway - I needed to load up the trash and do the dump run. I started the windshield wipers and the driver's side wiper shredded itself. So, on the way to the dump I had to stop at AutoZone and get wiper blades. The back wiper was in sad shape so I went ahead and replaced all 3.
April Fool's Day was not very kind to me, but I just had to laugh at everything anyway.
March 12, 2017
A Little Wind
We have had a very cold and windy March. Last weekend the highs were in the teens with single digit lows. The wind was also atrocious. I came home one evening, looked out the kitchen window and saw that something was missing
Upon opening the back door, I found it
On the bright side, several times I have thought about replacing it with a more decorative, less utilitarian design. The plastic cover was yellowed from age and it was exactly the most accurate thermometer. On the other hand, it worked, and I just used the temp reading as a general guide so couldn't justify replacing it. Now I have the excuse, just need to find one of the same general size that isn't utilitarian looking - a tougher prospect than I thought. Oh sure, I can find nice designs in larger or smaller specimens, but that particular size (which is perfect; not too big, but large enough for me to see without straining), seems to only come with the featureless white face. Granted, I have only hit several local hardware stores as well as home and garden stores, and I'm sure I can find something online, I just didn't think it would be a time consuming endeavor.
Although we had somewhat of a warm up during the past week, this weekend is much the same as last; single digit lows (5* right now - warmer than yesterday morning) and teens for the highs - with brutal winds. The forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday is for a Nor'easter with snow totals at this point projected to be 8-16" (depending on final trajectory). I blame the storm on my plans to pick up the bike at the end of the week. Guess that isn't going to happen.
It seems as if Mother Nature is realizing she pretty much skipped February and is making up for it.
February 26, 2017
We usually have a thfebruary thaw, but this past week was just gorgeous! Many days were in the 50's or 60's and all of our larger cities experienced record breaking warmth Wednesday thru Friday. Despite all the warm weather, I still have a good snow pack although the iced up paths are now clear and have gotten wider. These pictures were taken yesterday morning.
Last night we had rain, and coupled with temps in the 40's there was more meltage. However, a cold front went thru last night, behind the rain, so we'll see what future systems do for the white stuf.
A Place to Hang My Hat
I have been planning on creating an area where I could keep the coats/jackets sweaters appropriate for the season so they aren't all hanging on a chair in the office, or in the office closet. I also wanted an area to hold my commonly used shoes, and where I could sit to put them on instead of the couch or living room chair where I had the coffee table in the way.
Last month I did a lot of internet trolling and found a bench I liked with the bonus that it had baskets to hold my hats, scarves and gloves. These were held in the magazine rack of an end table that had been left in the house when I bought it. This is the bench I bought. It came as a kit and I put it together (picture doesn't show baskets installed below the sitting area).
I moved the drop-leaf table beside Birdie's cage and on which I had fed Fuzzy his canned food; Rita can't make the jump so I had been feeding her on the floor anyway, so I moved all the cat feeding stations to floor level. I have used the bench for several weeks in that spot to make sure it was where I wanted it. I Last week I decided to put up the coat rack that Cop Car and her HH had given the Ex and me long ago.
I really like the way the set up looks and it is very handy and much more convenient..
February 18, 2017
10 Days and 2 Nor'easters Later
Three weeks ago, although there was snow on the ground, there was only 5-6" of hard packed and frozen snow. That has changed a bit as since just before Valentine's weekend we have had 2 Nor'easters and several snow storms. These pictures were taken Valentine's day after I had cleaned up after a storm.
The day before Valentine's Day, I constructed a snow break for the back porch as the snow hadn't dumped off the roof, and we were expecting another 12-18" that night into Monday. When large amounts of snow dump it literally keeps me from being able to open the back door, so I wanted to mitigate that. The snow break as built using a couple of rail planter boxes as the base, two 2x4's, two 2x2's and a couple of pieces of plywood. Total $ spent = $0
This picture was taken the next day after a mall snow storm. The little bit of snow under the snow break was wind-driven and was taken after the small slideage shown in the following picture. I was well please on the results even after the Nor'easter the next day.
The snow dumped on the ramp was just a small slidage of a couple of sectionsthe morning of the 14th. A big dump will leave 6-12" (or more) of hard packed snow most of the way across the ramp.
Today we had a nice sunny day and it got up to 53*. I was out in a t-shirt shoveling, breaking up ice and moving berms.
I shoveled the berm away from the ramp.
Cleared off most of the snow from the top of the pellet pile. I used the snow shovel to scrape off the snow. I could have gotten the roof rake out to clear off the middle, but decided this was good enough for now.
I cleared the roof dumpage berm as well as I could from in front of the Propane tanks. Tomorrow I will see if I can get more out of there as they should be delivering next week.
I had to shovel out along the path on the other side of the house as apparently the roof dump had been pushed by the wind and completely filled in the area I had snow blown. I also shoveled a lot of snow drifts gathered at the sides of some of the paths that had been cleared.
While out there, I looked up in the willow tree to see if it had limbs hanging off. No limbs, but I was amazed that the gale-force winds we had sustained for a couple of days hadn't taken this down
That is a large nest. I don't know if it is a squirrel nest (I have a group of 3 sibling squirrels that run around here, as well as another lone squirrel that sneaks in when possible) or a bird's nest.
I probably got sunburned, but it was great getting out in the sunny, pleasant weather.
December 10, 2016
5 minutes before I would have left my night job I slipped and cracked my head on the tile over concrete floor. Wow that hurt and made a loud sound! Sat up for a minute to see how I felt - yep, I'm good. Started feeling around the back of my head to see if there were any dents, yeah, I'll be fine. Then looked at my hand and saw a bunch of blood. Got up to grab a paper towel to soak it up, and looked at the floor - hmm, lots of blood there. Paper towels came away pretty soaked.
Night of firsts: called 911 for myself (called for other people, but not for me), got an ambulance ride, got a concussion (diagnosed). They asked about pain level; 3 - and I added that I used to have migraines so I tolerate pain quite well since they looked skeptical. I was given the choice of stitches or not, and I opted for not (the doc said if it was him, he wouldn't - it would stop the bleeding but not accomplish much more).
They took a CAT scan to make sure there was no internal stuff since I wouldn't have anyone to check on me thru the night. Finally my boss came and got me at midnight and I arrived home a little before 1 AM. Long day since it started at 3:30 AM of Friday
No lifting or bending for a couple of days - um, yeah right, there's a snow event headed our way and I'll be shoveling and blowing snow Monday. I won't be moving a ton of pellets today as a concession. I do feel like my mind is about 2 feet behind me - not sight-wise, but just a slightly distant feeling, but otherwise I'm fine.
Not the way I wanted to start the weekend!
November 25, 2016
Since the day I moved into this house I have hated my propane tank placement and propane provider. The 500 gallon tank was placed in pretty much the only place it could go - smack dab in the middle of my yard. The worst part was that I can see it from anywhere on my property except the opposite side of the house. It is old and rusty and has peeling paint. And on top of that, I could smell propane almost everytime I got near it. And I'm sure that is one of the reasons my vegetable beds don't do very well and the plants always had stunted growth.
On top of that, the propane provider (which owns the tank so no one else can fill it) charges about $1 more per gallon than anyone else. The first winter here I was paying over $1,000 a month to heat this place to 64*! Okay, that was a brutal winter with extremely high propane prices anyway, but it was still $200-$300 more than I would have paid other providers.
The high prices of propane were the impetus for me to get the pellet stoves, but I still need propane for DHW, the cook stove and to use the boiler for back-up heat. I have been using 100-150 gallons per year since then, taking a delivery in the fall. This year I found that my provider was still at $3370/gallon. I figured I would look around for a new supplier (I talked some about that in this post).
Wednesday was the day! Irving brought in two 125 gallon bottles. The tank guys got here first and upon seeing the 500 gallon beheamoth, thought they had brought the wrong tanks. I assured them that they had the correct goods and showed them where I hoped they could place them, beside the garage and under the drip line of the roof (I have a 3' overhang). They were unsure if that was legal since they would be beside a garage window. Perhaps if the window was boarded up they could do so, but they would need to wait for the tech.
The tech arrived and agreed that if I boarded up the window it would be good. They were busy making plans on how the tank guys would place the bottles and lock them out. And the tech would run the line around the corner of the house, but not hook up. And one of the tank guys finally turned to me and told me that if I called when I had the window boarded up, they and the tech would come back out and do the final hookup. How long did I think it would take me to get someone to close up the window?
Then I threw them what was apparently a bombshell - "I can get it done in 10 minutes - I have plywood and a saw, and I'm not afraid to use them."
So I took measurements and went to work cutting the plywood and had it screwed in before they had completed the paperwork (bottles were in place). The tank guys were appreciative that they didn't have to come back out just to unlock the tanks and congratulated me on my handiness. Yeah, I know, cutting a rectangular piece of plywood isn't that tough, nor is screwing it into place, but apparently they weren't used to a woman doing that.
The only hiccup was that I didn't have caulk that would set up in the 30* temps. I assured the tech that I could get some at the local hardware store so he set up the line - which gave him fits since he had to thread it between the siding and the fence post in 30* and very windy weather. He then leak checked it (had to replace a fitting on one of the bottles that had cracked and finished up the paperwork. Since they could only transport the bottles 20% filled, the company will make a fuel delivery next week. The tech cautioned me that they wouldn't fill it if they saw the plywood wasn't caulked up.
No worries - as soon as he left I went into town and got some RTV (high temp caulk that also has a set up temp down to single digit temps) and I caulked it up. I am extremely happy with the guys, the bottles and the placement.
Yeah, and I called my previous propane provider and told them to come pick up their tank. I can't wait to drive up my driveway, or look out from my back door a NOT see the ugly beheamoth in my yard!
October 22, 2016
Playing with Propane
When I moved into this house, I inherited the propane company (AG) that the previous residents used. "Inherit" means that AG's tank is on the property and they are the only ones that can fill it. AG also happens to be a way expensive company to use - averaging $1 more per gallon over competitors. NH has very high propane costs anyway because every bit of it is trucked in and we only have one holding depot, which is out on the coast. So while other parts of the country are enjoying very cheap propane, NH's average price is around $2.50/gallon. The year I moved in, we had shortages because of the extreme weather and the price I was paying was $5-6/gallon - a huge expense when my 950 sq/ft (only the main floor has heat run thru it) was using 250-300 gallons per month to keep the temp at 64*. That was the main impetus for me getting pellet stoves.
The winters of 2014 and 2015 I only used propane for the cook stove (rarely used), DHW and to run the boiler a couple time a day during extreme cold to keep the FHW pipes that run thru the garage from freezing. So I've only bought 100-150 gallons of propane a year. I have always had the goal of changing propane companies and this is the year. Just before Thanksgiving, my 500 gallon tank will be changed out for two 125 gallon tanks.
Although this seems unrelated, there is a relationship here, so bear with me. Last spring the boiler's pilot light blew out during extreme winds last spring. I was lucky and it happened shortly before I got up for work, I happened to go into the back corner of the basement, where the boiler is, before leaving for work and smelled the propane coming out of the boiler. If I hadn't gone into that part of the basement, I never would have smelled the gas, and I wouldn't be complaining about the difficulties I've had the last couple of weeks as it is likely the house would have blown up before I got home. I did smell the propane, figured out where it was coming from and turned off the pipe that supplied the boiler.
With cold weather coming in I've been trying to get someone to come out and service the boiler, then relight it. I've called local companies and not had my voice mails returned. I've emailed with no results. I widened my circle to larger companies that clearly show on their website they service my area (within the 25 mile radius they show) and been told they don't come out this far. There was one company that said they could come out in mid December :( . Then I called the big outfits that have TV ads and supposedly service most of the state. Well, not this part.
My desperation to get the boiler going, besides it is always good to have a backup heat source, is because my present propane tank is still at 20% (about 100 gallons). To transport the tank over the road, the company must make sure that it is at 5% or less. If they have to pump out the propane, I get hit with up to $150 charge, so I want to burn as much of the propane off as possible. The only way to do that is to heat the main floor with FHW until the new company brings in their tanks.
After reading the relighting directions on the stove, I decided I would clean it and relight it myself. So I stopped at the local hardware store and got a bottle brush, long matches and a long crevice tool for my shop vac.
Teh bottle brush did a good job of getting gunk, cat hairs and cobwebs of the gas jets, and I was able to vacuum up all the crud that had fallen below. Since I had previously turned off the gas supply at the peipe, I turned it off at the boiler itself and opened up the valve on the pipe. I let it sit for a couple of minutes and then started sniffing around for the smell of gas - there wasn't any, so I was good for the next step.
I turned the boiler dial to Pilot, pressed the red feed button and lit the pilot light with a long match. After holding in the red button for about a minute (per instructions), I let it go, made sure the red button popped up and the pilot light stayed lit, then turned the dial to Run. So far, so good. I then turned the thermostat up so that the boiler would fire, went downstairs to check on progress and Houston, we have ignition!
So the P43, that usually heats the main floor has been turned down to 60* so it is the backup system and I am running the FHW for the heat. So far it is still fairly warm outside, so the boiler hasn't fired since I turned the thermostat back down to 70*, but tomorrow will be cold and windy so it will have to start doing some work.
Next summer I need to seriously look into replacing the boiler as its install tag has a 1991 date, but for now it's good!
September 17, 2016
Yearly Fall Ritual
It has been a cool week with highs in the 60's and 70's and lows in the 40's. Tuesday I removed the window fans and closed the windows. By Thursday the house temp was running at 65-66 degrees and I had taken to wearing a sweatshirt in the morning before getting ready for work.
Friday, when I got home from work, I decided to get the main floor stove (P43) ready for firing. I removed the plastic bag from the end of the exhaust (kept moisture and bugs out) and then removed the newspaper that I had stuffed inside the pipe which ensured that even if the bag came off, no critters would enter. Then I vacuumed the entire main floor including behind the pellet stove and getting in the motor and fan openings to remove cat hair and dust bunnies.
Then, still feeling like I should still do something, I mopped the floors and conditioned the hard wood with a mixture of grape seed oil, orange oil and rosemary oil. The rosemary oil was an accident (I was looking at the bottle of orange oil and grabbed the rosemary), but that was okay as it helps take care of any stray fleas that might have made their way inside. Not that I've seen any fleas, and I have kept up with flea treatments for Fuzzy, but it never hurts to be proactive!
The floors are all soft looking and shiny, they are protected from the drying air of the pellet stove, and any roughness my bare feet felt is gone. A good thing as I woke up this morning to hear Birdie shivering. Yes, I actually heard him shivering - he gets the whole cage to vibrating and the bottom grate rattles against the plastic base. So, being the caring pet owner that I am (and being cold myself once I got out from under the blanket), I started the P43 up.
Once it got to to 68 degrees, the stove shut down. It was in the mid 70's so I opened all the windows and let Mother Nature heat the house. Currently 71 and the low is supposed to be in the 60's, so the stove will be off for a while. But it is good that it is ready for the next cold snap.