Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas - 2014

Click……. Tap, tap, tap… Hello? Anybody out there? Can you hear me? Good.

It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote. Ok, maybe more like a few months.  Almost 6 if you’re really counting. The good news is, we’re in and have been since I last wrote. And that’s why I haven’t been able to write. Who knew that moving into a new house could be so much work? I first thought that the hard part would be packing and moving all the stuff junk that we had.

But there is all winter long to write about the move. Today is Christmas and there are more important things to write about. Like, outside of the important religious tone, things like family, presents and the bacon which my better half made for when the kids come over for breakfast. Little did she know that leaving the kitchen for a long period of time was not a good idea.

Christmas 2013
We've come a long way in a year.

Rewinding a few weeks, I was determined to have a real tree for Christmas. So we went to a tree farm with the worst looking Santa who’s ho ho ho’s sounded like they had a little too much Christmas cheer in between customers. Although I think Duck Dynasty would have been proud.

Wrapping the Tree
2 bucks extra? Really? Who charges for that?

Picking out the tree, a nice 8 footer, was quick. Loading it was not. After paying for the tree, including an extra charge for wrapping it in twine to make it less wide, we brought it out to the car. We have an RDX SUV that would fit an 4 foot tree comfortably. Not so much with an 8 footer. So as I was holding the tree, keeping the bottom out of the mud, my better half fought with putting the back seats down as I stood there patiently. Then she spread the tarp. Still patient. Then she started flattening out the tarp, while I was holding the tree sideways like an 8 foot sack of potatoes.  And of course patience and weight have opposing forces. Less patience equals more weight. And more weight equals less patience and into the downward spiral we went. 

Frigity, frigity, frigity. There aren’t any pictures. Just sound bites. None good. Out the door goes the Christmas cheer. My better half steps back and says “Good luck” with the look that only a wife that can do that pretty much says, “you’re now officially on your own.” I stuffed the now 500 pound tree into the back of the car up to the windshield, making it look like it was exactly what I had planned and away we went.

Prepping the New Tree Stand
The little plastic do-hickey they include did not make it easier.

Putting the tree up was a lot easier. After setting up in the new stand that we bought, and screwing the supports into the tree, and knowing to how to keep a good thing going, I turned on the game. Of course the results were immediate. However, without a lot of convincing (there’s a history with tree decorating here) I was able to show that she was much better at it than I was. Must be a husband thing. They want help. So we do. Then they tell us to stop. I don’t get it.

Tightening Up the Tree
And it doesn't fall over!

So fast forward to today, it’s 60 degrees in New England (so this is what Christmas is like in Florida?), the tree is beautiful and full of presents left by American Express and UPS. Strangely, the tree doesn’t have even a hint of a balsam smell. None, nada. Did they manage to manufacture that out of trees too? Now I understand why Yankee Candle makes Balsam & Cedar scented candles.

All Lit Up!
I can't take the credit. It would probably still be outside if it was up to me.

My better half is back in the kitchen and it will only be a short moment before she notices that bacon has mysteriously disappeared so I’ve got to run.

White House Historcal Society Ornament- 2014

Here’s hoping that you and your families and friends have a Merry and Peaceful Christmas full of Joy and Celebration.

Chilren's Service with Giant Puppets.
How cool is that?

And during the day today, please remember those who serve and can’t be home with their families. Whether it's military, police, fire or whomever is working; it's because of them that we can enjoy our time.

Enjoy your day. And Merry Christmas!


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rainwater Gutters

Hurricane Arthur - From NOAA Hurricane Center

Now that Hurricane Arthur has blown by us leaving a bunch of rain behind, I thought that this would be a good time to write about the underground rain system that I installed.

Making the Gutter

When it comes to rain water, you have to think of your roof as a large parking lot that collects a boatload of rain. This all has to go somewhere and you don't want it running down the side of your house or along your foundation where it may seep into your basement. This is why they invented gutters.

The gutter folks showed up and after they took all of the measurements they started making the gutters. Because they are made out of aluminum, they start out with a large roll and shape it using a gutter shaper. OK, I don't know what it's really called but it sounds good. While the gutter is being rolled out, they insert the gutter hangers every couple of feet.

Lifting the gutter Into Place


I had them use the downspout hangers that are hidden instead of the strap type. This helped make the downspouts blend in with the trim a little better.

Gutter Corners

One of the nice things that the gutter company did was to wrap the gutters around the corners instead of just ending them. This gave the effect of having crown molding wrapping around the outside of the house.

Trimmed up Nicely

Blending the Downspouts

One of the things that I was a nut about (and there are many) was making sure that the downspouts blended into the house. Too often you'll see the outside trim runied by an ugly downspout. In this picture, of the front of the house, the downspout is not very visible from the road.

Gutter Line

Because we have a pretty good slope, I wanted to take advantage of it and use it to drain all of the water from the downspouts away from the foundation. I started trenching along side the foundation. I only dug down about a foot and half because this will be covered by a garden. 

Also, I'm not worried about freezing because in the winter, rain is called snow and these aren't snow pipes.

Obligatory Large Rock

Of course, no digging would be complete without hitting about a half dozen large rocks. And I've figured out that the weight of the rock is doubled just because I was doing this by myself. And trying work them out of a narrow trench made it even harder.

Laying the Pipe

I used Schedule 35 PVC pipe which is pretty easy to work with and can be cut using a Sawzall or a hack saw if you don't have a Sawzall. Also, it's much lighter and less expensive than Schedule 40 which is used for interior drainlines. I didn't use the black corrigated pipe because it traps particles which can build up and eventually block your pipes. 

I used a level to make sure it pitched downward about 1/8 inch over every foot.

Connecting Downspouts

Connecting the downspouts gave me a chance to be creative when tieing it all together. Kind of like playing with Legos.


Because it's only rainwater and there aren't any solids, angles are a bit more forgiving when draining water.


I put cleanouts at the beginning of each pipe. Having these will make it a lot easier if I ever need to clean out any debris that's blocking the lines.

Running the Downspouts into the Lines

The downspout drops into the line using a cover to block out debris. Also, because the opening is on the side, it enables you to put the pipe close to the foundation. 

Completed Job

Once I was done, there weren't any pipes or anything else showing and all of the water that comes off of the roof is carried away from the foundation.

Pipe Ends

Note in the picture above, the tire marks runing across  the pipe end. This is another good thing about using Schedule 35 pipe. Its flexible and forgiving.

So this is the part that I'll do after the grass starts growing. My intent is to create rain gardens that will allow the water to seep back into the ground while still remaining far away from the house. 

The rainwater drains worked exactly as I had hoped. We had a gazillion inches of rain left behind by Hurrican Arthur and none of it went in the basement.

So our 4th of July was spent watching the rain come down and carry away some of top soil but it was OK. We were also moving things into the house and planning our first night there. So it could rain all it wanted. We didn't care, because our home was now ours.

I hope you had a great 4th of July.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Back Deck & Patio

Starting the Back Deck

One day I received a call from better half and she said they're starting the back deck! But they are using pressure treated wood. Isn't it supposed to be mahogany? A quick check of the contract determined that she was right.

Removing the Back Deck

We called the builder but for whatever reason they let the contarctors finish the deck. A few months later, it was being removed so they could build the "mahogany" deck.

Restarting the Back Deck

Meridian (our builder) hired DJ and his crew from D. E. Zeilstra to come in and do all of the finish work including redoing the deck that the other contractor did incorrectly. The first thing that they did was to rip off all of the pressure treated wood.

Landing for the Back Door of the Garage

One of the areas that we were uncertain about the design was the back door of the garage. We thought about steps and maybe even a small deck. We decided that a small platform tied into the stairs of the deck would work perfectly.

Almost Done

The deck, balusters, posts and railings are all mahoganey. We decided to have a white fascia board trim it off around the edges.

Deck Completed

DJ topped the Posts with Copper Caps which gave it a nice finished look.


Looking Down to the Garage

Code required that we put up a rail that was graspable.The mahogany railing was just a little too wide so we had another railing put on the garage wall. We'll have it stained to match colors.

Back Deck & Platform

We couldn't have asked for a better job on the deck. It was exactly what we had designed and came out even better than we expected. We kept it on the small side (12' x 10') for just when it was she and I using it. Our plan was to use the large patio down below when we entertained. While the mahogany added to the cost, we wanted something different and we really like how it came out.

Pavers Found on Craigslist

So you may remember my story from last year (I must Be Crazy) when I found a bunch of pavers for sale on Craigslist. I figured I could save a bunch of money if I hauled them all to the new house and built my own patio. The two wonderful ladies who were selling them, Helen and Linda, just smiled and never said anything as I toiled away during the hot summer moving them. I think they were smiling because they knew I was in fact, crazy. Certifiably.

Staging the Pavers

After watching Henry and his crew from Pereira Brothers and the work that they did with the side wall and walkway along with the amount of time it took, not to mention the beautiful job that they did, we my better half, decided there weren't enough weekends in the next century for me to build the patio. And that I was out of my mind to think that I could get something that large built before we moved to assisted living. 40 years from now. She made me tell Henry go for it.

Leveling the Grade

The first thing they did was to set the grade using a laser level and moving and compacting the gravel around that we had brought in last fall. I tried to convince my better half that I needed a laser level. And a tractor to move dirt. She responded with Henry has that stuff. You don't need that. 

Setting the Lines

If you look closely, crossing diagonally across the picture, you can see the strings that cross the patio which will guide the depth of the pavers.

Starting the Patio

I think this was the second day.

Beginning the Edge

The slight curve at the required almost every paver to be cut to fit.


We'll be planting grasses and low plants along the edge. There will be a slightly larger garden between the patio and the windows.

Looking Down from the Roof

I took advantage of a ladder being left on the deck to get a different perspective.

Up Close View of the Deck

We had Henry pave under the deck for future storage. I'll be building lattice panels with a sliding door to cover it all. We're going to add some plants in the triangle area. 

The Pavers and Mahogany deck compliment each other.

Finished Products

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kitchen Granite Installation

Starting the Finish Work

Installing the First Piece of Granite

We have a Counter Top!
And the deep Franke Sink is ready to be Installed.

Carrying in Another Piece
It was heavy and they were moving quickly

Counter Top to the Left of the Stove
We went with a Rounded Edge 

Installing the Left Side of Sink

The Heaviest Piece was the Corner End that has an Overhang
The Drawer Microwave will go in the Opening

In Place

Almost Finished. The Back Splash and the Piece behind the stove will be 
Installed Next.

It's Difficult to get a Good Pic that shows the True Color.
Sort of a Chocolate Brown made up of Different shades.

We Went with a Delta Lewiston Touch Faucet.
We didn't want a High Faucet that Took Away from the View out the window.
Plus the sink is so deep it would have splashed like crazy if it was higher.

You'll have to use your Imagination. The Pic looks Black but
it's Actually Brown.

Now we can start to bring in the Appliances!

Work is picking up everywhere. Yay! Hardscaping and Landscaping are going on outside and the finish carpenters have set up on the inside. The floors received a second coat of poly and have been covered with Rosen paper to protect them.

But nothing says “Light at the end of the tunnel” more than seeing the granite delivered. We (OK, my better half) picked out this great looking granite from Brazil that is called Tobacco Brown. I’ve seen a lot of blacks and whites and beige’s and so on in kitchens, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a brown and it looks fantastic! It contrasts nicely with the white cabinets and will look great with the stainless steel appliances that we’ve picked out.

I just happened to be there (right, it was on purpose) when the folks from Stone-Tek arrived with a truck load of granite. I can say I’m glad I didn’t have to carry any of it. Fortunately they were able to pull up to  the front stairs with truck so they didn’t have to carry the pieces up a bunch of stairs. The large pieces look extremely heavy and there were a lot of groans as they were carrying each piece in and sliding them into place. And because they used a laser for the layout, each piece fit perfectly.

Once the stove is delivered they’ll be back to finish the back splash and the wall behind the stove. The plan is to have a large piece of granite behind the stove that goes up to the vent hood to protect the wall from cooking grease.

We’ve looked at the counter tops a million times and from every angle possible and each time it brings a smile to our faces. I guess you could say we really like the look.

Enjoy your weekend.