August 23, 2015
Strange Cat Sighting
There are several cats in the neighborhood that I regularly see, but this one decided that my propane tank was a good place to rest for a while. Don't know why he was up there, but it didn't disturb him that I was taking pictures or using the flash.
August 14, 2015
New Culvert, Now a New Road
Monday I rode the bike into work. When I was coming home, I turned onto a dramatically different road than I left that morning.
The dirt was very soft and made the bike squirrely. I was glad I didn't have to go far (you can see my tire tracks in the first picture to the right of the driveway). Since then it has rained hard, so it has compacted a bunch - a good thing since I have to ride the bike to have some service done tomorrow.
Oh, and now that they have removed all the shade creating plants by the culvert, Japanese Knotweed is growing like, well, weeds - better in fact. I have to inform the town that it is there and maybe they will try to take care of it before it comes into my yard (if you will remember, that is what I spent so much time eradicating/controlling over by the garage). I read that Deering just did a spray program to try to control/eradicate this nasty invasive, maybe Hillsboro will do the same.
New(ish) Pellet Stove
Last spring, as I was perusing CL, I was looking at pellet stoves. I know, I know, I have 2 pellet stoves that performed well last winter and kept me toasty warm.
However, the really nice looking St. Croix Hastings has a small hopper, holding only about 35 pounds of pellets, and on really cold, windy days, it would run out of pellets just as I was getting home from work (literally shutting down either just before or as I was walking in the door). This cramped my style as I had to make sure to rush home from work on those days. No, I really have no place else to be, but working late or having a long commute time during snow storms stressed me a bit. Plus, the SC is more demanding than my Harman P61a (stove downstairs. It has a small ash pan, so it had to be emptied every weekend and the longest I can go between cleaning of the rest of the stove is 2 weeks.
So anyway, I was perusing CL looking at pellet stove, not really thinking I would find anything that I would be willing to afford, when I saw a Harman PP38++ (basically a P43 if anyone cares - which only a pellet-head would), located in Weare, being sold by someone who was moving. The asking price was about $600 more than I was willing to afford. Not that they were asking a bad price for it, just I already had a stove that worked fine, so I wasn't willing to pay what they wanted.
I let them know I would be interested for a certain price, and they rejected it (naturally). A couple weeks later they lowered the price and I reiterated my interest, for my price. One issue in my favor was that they needed it to be moved on a certain weekend. I was willing, and had a person from the pellet forum I frequent who was willing to help on that day. About 3 days before they needed it moved, the contacted me and accepted my price.
So, I rented a van from U-Haul and my pellet forum acquaintance (that is being kind - he was a total stranger who answered a plea for anyone willing to help me) and I went and picked it up. Much to my delight I found the stove is only 2 years old (the St. Croix was born in 2008m the PP38++ born in 2013). The Harman has been hanging out in my living room since then but I couldn't put it in place until I got rid of the St. Croix.
I have had an ad on CL with it for sale or trade (for a trailer), and I had it for sale for the price I paid for it last fall. I knew I wouldn't get that, but one has to start somewhere. About 3 weeks ago I lowered the price by $150, and I got a lady who was interested. She came to look at it last Friday and definitely wanted it, just had to arrange for transport. We "dealt a bit and I dropped the price by another $50 if her helpers would help me place the Harman in its place after removing the St. Croix.
Tuesday evening she and her helper picked up the SC, and they helped me move the Harman into place (I could have done it myself, but having help is easier). The Harman doesn't look as nice as the SC, but it has a 55 pound hopper, I can get a hopper extension for an additional 40 pound capacity, I won't have to empty the ash pan but every 3-4 weeks, and the maintenance and cleaning schedule is exactly like the downstairs Harman (clean every ton or once/month). I can also get decorative trim if I wish to dress it up a bit. I still need to hook up the exhaust which I have to modify from the previous stove since their heights are different.
I also made out as far as I was concerned because I have a newer stove that cost me less than what I sold the SC for - and that includes the $100 for van rental, mileage charges and gas. I am a happy camper and I hope the lady who bought it is happy with her acquisition. The SC really is a fine stove, just not the best for my circumstances.
So, Cop Car (who has heard about how much a U-Haul really costs to rent, but didn't know what I picked up), yes, my deal was still a good deal.
August 02, 2015
Town Work on Road
The town has been working on my road replacing culverts. They finally got to mine. It looks much better as before it was heavily overgrown with poison ivy and wild, invasive roses.
The water going into the culvert is extremely rusty - weird, since it looks clear up further (top of pic). Maybe it is from the culvert they took out.
Wish they had taken this tree. Most of the green you see is poison ivy
Hopefully this means that they plan on repaving soon.
May 30, 2015
Small House Projects
Last weekend I wasn't in the mood to do a whole lot, but there was one thing I definitely needed to get done; I needed to put a privacy film on the bathroom window. Up until last weekend, I just had plants in the window and a frilly, see-thru lace curtain on a tension rod (the curtain came with the house).Since the bathroom is still torn apart, I don't want to put holes in the wal or window frame to install a better curtain or shade.
I wanted to move the biggest plant outside which would remove the biggest screen to anyone outside viewing the going ons inside. Plus, if I ever get the bathroom remodeled the way I want it, I will have a light in the center of the bathroom (right now it is behind a wall from the window), which would make it more likely someone could see things at 4:15 AM that I would rather keep private.
During the day, there isn't much that can be seen from outside. This is the sight without the plants and curtain in the way.
If you look closely, you can see an aluminum grab bar that is installed on the framework the shower is attached to.
I had gotten some treatment film a month or so ago, so I finally got around to cutting it, cleaning the window, spraying the window, installing the film and squeegying the air bubbles out. No, it wasn't difficult and I don't know why I didn't do it before - but it's done now.
Now a night view from the outside isn't even possible. Yes, the light is on in the bathroom - it is screened effectively by the wall it is behind and that is why I haven't really worried too much about it until this point - especially with the Rosemary and lace curtains. I have no doubt it will be lighter when the light is in the center of the room, but it should still do a fine job of affording me some privacy.
And here is what it looks like with everything in place.
May 16, 2015
Making the Bed(s)
When I moved into this house, there were two raised beds that I used for limited vegetable gardening last summer. One bed was in decent shape, the other waws really falling apart. The beds were about 8 feet apart and I hate mowing (actually, I dislike having a lot of grassy area), so I covered the section between the two beds with landscape cloth. I had a vague plan to put in a 3rd raised bed at the time, and this year I decided was as good a time as any. The existing raised beds are on conceret cinder blocks, with wooden structures on top and I decided to carry the theme forward.
Instead of wood, I found raised bed kits online that are made of composite material and are easy to put together - no tools needed. The bonus was they are cheaper than buying the wood and hardware necessary (at least the sale I stumbled onto made it that way). The end of April I set up the lower cinder block structure then the first weekend in May I added the composite material and used excess dirt from the other two beds to fill it.
I filled that bed fairly full of dirt, including filling the cinder block holes since I left the landscape fabric in place. However, there is still plenty of room to add mulch/compost/manure in future years.
I also tore apart one of the old beds that was in really horrible shape - the wood was twisting away from the corner brackets and was very rotted (of course no pictures of that). I also wanted to move it about a foot closer to the new bed, from where the cinder blocks were. I dug out the cinder blocks and spent quite some time getting all the rocks, dirt and weeds out of the holes before setting up the new base.
Since I was relocating it, I also had to dig out more than a foot from the outside (you will see why in future pictures)
Finally I got the composite structure placed on it. Since this bed is not on landscape fabric, I did not refill the dirt quite as high as I did for the new bed. I didn't realize the new cinder blocks were slightly shorter than the old cinder blocks, so one edge is quite wide on the outside - oh well, I'll put in some thyme or something there.
The one remaining old bed will not be touched this year. It is still in decent shape even though the cinder blocks have been shoved out from beneath the wood. These pictures show why I actually ended up moving more than a foot of dirt for the restructured bed - the cinder blocks were pushed way out from the actual bed itself.
I do enjoy these flowers around the old bed too (flower pictures taken this morning). Not sure what they are, but they bloomed most of the summer last year so it looks nice.
March 29, 2015
Still Snowing at the End of March
Although it is slowly warming up, and the birds are flying up from further south, we are still getting snow. The storms aren't big, mostly dustings - and we got about an inch yesterday, after heavy rains on Thursday (the garage did get some water, but not nearly what I got last year, and not entering the basement, so I am good.
Pictures taken yesterday and today of the snow pack remaining.
In my area, a big flock of redwing blackbirds arrived about 2 weeks ago and they have hung around. I can hear/see them in the trees in the trees in back, and to the side of my house. Pictures of other birds at the feeder a couple of weeks ago (3-7-15).
It is supposed to get in the 40's this coming week, but even then Easter egg hunts next week may be in the snow.
March 22, 2015
New Cooking Appliance
I frequent a Pellet Stove forum - at first it was to soak up knowledge, now it is more conversation and helping others, expecially with St. Croix Hastings/Greenfied stoves, since that is the one I have had to figure out everything on. I still learn plenty about both stoves and set ups in general. And we all share what pellets are available where (some areas have shortages, other areas have gluts, and still other areas the price can be as much a $4/bag difference between retailers). And we share how different brands are burning so those that drop big bucks on buying several tons at a time don't get stuck with crappy pellets.
A couple of weeks ago, someone asked if anyone had tried cooking with their pellet stove. After much off topic banter, a member reported that he had just tried baking some potatoes in his Harman P61a (the same model that I have in the basement) and that they had come out perfectly. Well, that is all it took and I was off and running.
I bought a couple of sweet potatoes, washed/scrubbed them up well, wrapped them in foil (still wet) and set them on the ledges at the side of the stove. I made sure it was in a maintenance burn (would not turn itself off), set the timer and went about my business.
1.3 hours later I removed the foil packages and opened them up to find perfectly steamed sweet potatoes. I dumped them in a bowel and stripped off the skin (very easy - just lifter right off), then added some real butter.
After the butter had melted a bit, I mashed them all together, added a bit of real maple syrup, about 1/2 cup of oats, ground cinnamon and some water.
I then let the concoction sit a couple of hours for the oats to soak up the water and decided that a parfait would be perfect; So, I scooped out a bit of the sweet potato mixture, added vanilla Greek yogurt, and topped it all off with cinnamon.
Awesome! I reported my results on the forum, and someone else chimed in with their results from steaming vegies in their stove. Someone still needs to do an experiment with filling a small crock with meat and vegies to make a stew for 1-2 people - I am looking forward to a report on that! Earlier this week I put in 3 more sweet potatoes and have been enjoying them at work (and for breakfast this morning).
Pellet stoves; keeping the house warm, blow drying hair, and now cooking - is there anything they can't do? LOL
March 15, 2015
So far I have gotten my wish and the weather has been very slow to warm up which means the snow is melting slowly and not creating flooding havoc.
View out the living room bay window on 2/22/15
View out the living room bay window today (3/15/15)
We still have a long way to go before there is green grass.
February 28, 2015
Foundation Snow - Insulation or Not?
In some of my pictures of snow at the house, Cop Car suggested that the insulation value of the snow against the foundation must be very helpful in keeping the house warmer. Unfortunately, that would not be the case. I have a roof that is made for a more southern home; not only is it fairly flat, it has wide eves at 3 feet. This really works well to keep out the summer sun while allowing plenty of winter sun in, protect the ramp from snow, and protecting the foundation from rain. I really like the wide eves for that reason. However, the snow pack is away from the house, except for where I have either snow blown in that direction or shoveled - and both those spots are near the garage, which is not very helpful for insulation.
This is the side of the garage. Sure, if the garage was fairly air tight at the door, and in back, the snow might be helpful - but neither of those cases are true. The snow is blown in that direction while snow blowing the path to the oil tank - just for the little help it might provide.
The front of the house is mostly barren, except the part closest to the garage, from my shoveling the snow from the roof dumping (I don't blow snow that way because I don't want high-velocity projectiles aimed at the bay window. Oh, and if you look in the lower left corner, you will see a mound of snow on the steps. I took the pictures about 25 minutes after I was done snow blowing - which was about 5 minutes after the roof dumped and I had to put my boots back on to go shovel.
On the side that the pellet stoves are on, it is mostly clear for about a foot before the snow pack starts - mostly of that is from the roof dumping. And, what little snow is there, has slid down the berm from the roof snow. I did have to shovel out some of the berm closest to the lower pipe (the Harman in the basement), to make sure there was no impedance to the exhaust.
Of course the back side of the house does not have snow around the foundation because of the ramp.
I'm sure the snow does provide wind relief for the sill of the house, and some insulation value to the garage, just not as much as Cop Car imagined from looking at pictures taken from a distance.