Ice Maker Problem Solved

My wife should be an appliance repair person she says.  She proposed to the repairman what was wrong with the ice maker and it was deemed to be a viable culprit.  Twice now the repairman has been out to repair the ice maker on the Sub Zero 27″ integrated freezer we had installed new.  The water line is freezing up when the water is shut off as the unit attempts to suck air and the last little bits of water up from the supply line.

The culprit we suspect is our meager water pressure.  The pressure is okay if you do ONE thing water related, but if you flush the toilet, water a plant, run the washing machine, etc. the water supply system basically dies out.  When that happens the freezer is starved for water and must be causing some sort of failure in the ice making system, i.e. fresh new water keep water line from freezing.  This is all in theory but it stands to reason in my mind.  Our high-end freezer brought to its knees by low water pressure apparently.  The technician did show us how to clean out the line if it freezes up again.  We’ll run the ice maker at nite only which should solve the problem.  Nothing like spending a fortune and having to employ a “work around”.  Not the first or last for a house that hates us I suspect.

Water pressure is so low in our house because the filter that keeps microbes and chlorine out of the water supply also saps it of a lot of pressure.  A new filter should help but every 2-3 months pressure will start dropping.  Long term there may be some things we can do.  For now we’ll just hit the “ICE” button before going to bed and turn it off when we wake up.

Cabinets are ordered for the studios finally, after last night’s Lowes cabinet ordering fiasco.  Finish wise all the cabinets are Espresso colored which should go with the tile downstairs and the laminate floors upstairs.  We wanted white upstairs in Christine’s studio but white ended up costing nearly twice as much.  I’ll take Espresso maple and paint them down the road if need be.  Crazy world we live in where that’s the pricing structure.  They’re Shenandoah cabinets by the way.  The wife and I will install them ourselves when they show up in a few weeks.  Countertop wise we’ll finish hers off in Hardrock Maple laminate to match some other tables she has as well as the hardwood downstairs, and mine will be some sort of faux cement color laminate to match my studio floor.  We wanted to wait but the storage will be awesome to have early on and be a stress reducer as we settle in.

The forecast is calling for rain tonight and tomorrow which would be incredibly awesome.  The cistern needs to be filled up and all our plants are on their last leg so to speak.  We’ll move some more stuff over this weekend in preparation for closing on the sale of the old house.  Randon mitigation on the old place will only cost $800 which is good.  It’ll be an outdoor system which is less expensive.  Basically a fan and pipe running up the side of the house.  I’ll have to put getting a test on the new house on my “to do” list.  In theory the new house is so tight nothing should be getting in but technically there is a uncaulked seem between the concrete slab and the Superior walls.  Plus we have a sump pump and a crock for pumping the sewage up to the septic tank.  So plenty of places for radon to get in.  Not sure how much the radioactive earth is decaying under our new house, I know blue clay is decaying shale (I think) but that doesn’t sound radioactive to me….anyway….

This project has taught me enough to be slightly more dangerous at Jeopardy and definitely more of a bore at cocktail parties.  I can, and will, tell you everything you should and shouldn’t do when designing and building your eco-friendly new house.  This project cost me a lot, and I’m not just talking about money.  But it also taught me a few things.  Don’t ask me if I’d do it again just like we did cause the answer would be “no”, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing.  Just means I know more now than I did then.

Alright enough of this nonsense.  Here are today’s pics

Very cool contrails awaited my return home tonight.

house is painted urbane bronze from Sherwin Williams. Can’t wait to get porches finished, they’ll be white and bring it all together visually. Note, that gutter….we should have hidden it with the white corner trim. Boo, poor planning on my part.

Okay, in my top five is going to the movies, esp. here at the Cinemark in Valley View. Nothing soothes the soul like some Thursday evening escapism. We saw ‘Dark Shadows’ tonight . I liked it. By the way theater design at this location is head and shoulders above most other places, inside and out. Yay asymmetry on facades.

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RIP Customer Service

Once again not much is going on.  Same old same old.  No rain.  Unpacking boxes.  Starting to work on art.

The house is mostly done being painted, but alas I have not a picture for your tonight.  Elsewhere we’re spreading mulch in the yard.  We had some left over so we’re spreading it around the perimeter of the house to keep mud from splashing up onto the house and its new paint job.  The lack of rain has rendered the yard pretty much dead in its tracks. 

We’re on round two of repairs for the ice maker in our Sub Zero freezer, as well as the plumbing in the basement.  Having repair guys at our house is pretty much the norm since we’ve moved in. 

I was going to rant about the lack of customer service in our world today but decided that I’m so beaten down by the reality that I don’t care enough tonight to rant.  The latest example was at Lowes.  We were trying to order some cabinets for the house.  They have a great deal going on…bunch of free cabinets, 10% back and 18 mos. zero interest.  We had been several times picking and planning.  Tonight was the last night to get in on the deal so we went in.  Our regular salesperson was busy so another woman helped us out.  Well halfway through her friend shows up and she drops us and says she has to get her friend’s order finished.  Um, hello…you offered to help us out and now you’re dropping us?  The other customer was totally oblivious.  She even sat in my chair when I stepped away for a second.  We came this close to not even ordering from Lowes, but it was a pretty good deal and the zero percent was hard to pass up too.  And for my sanity I need office cabinets so I can set up my computer and files / paperwork and return to some semblance of organization.  Just frosts my cookies that people are so oblivious.  Obviously it didn’t faze us cause we still dropped a few grand on cabinets.

But in the grand scheme of things, building this house and just dealing with society in general has shown that customer service is dead today.  Another example is I’m lucky if one in five people or businesses I want to hire for a job, product or service even call me back. Everyone bitches the economy stinks, well I shouldn’t have to beg people to take my money.  Even when they do take your money it’s a crap shoot whether they’ll do what they promised, when they promised it and do it in a quality manner.  With so many options you’d think consumers have the upper hand but the choices we have are so dismal I’m not sure consumers have much choice other than to choose not to spend.  This is obviously not something my family is going to do as we’re hemorrhaging money like there’s no tomorrow.  We’re gladly taking it in the ass and paying top dollar for it thank you very much.  By the way, Chipotle massacred my burrito again tonight and forgot to give me the bag of chips I paid for.  Customer service sucks everywhere in 2012.

It’s to the point where god doesn’t even help those who help themselves anymore seemingly.  A little gentle consistent rain would be awesome big fellow.

Alright, that’s it.  Like I said, not much going on.

Still no doors on our cabinets, but I did make more shelves. These are just Rubbermaid shelves from Home Depot that I cut down to size and rested them on metal pins

Freezer is being serviced tomorrow so I removed kick plate on our Sub Zero integrated unit. The pantry trim is in the way but I managed. If the unit needs to come out then the trim is removable via hidden screws.

The little grey cat has made a habit of visiting my studio while I paint. She’s about the only entity on this planet that makes an effort to keep my blood pressure down.

Memorial Day weekend was a opportunity for us to roast s’mores for the first time at the new homestead.

I Was Mistaken….

…the exterior color is Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze SW7048  not Sealskin as previously reported.  Sorry.  Sealskin was from our Global Spice color scheme but we felt it was too dark and we chickened out by going with the Urbane Bronze.  Either way it looks great.  Even if the painter shakes his head and doesn’t understand our color scheme for the exterior.

It rained a little bit tonight, though not really enough to make a difference I suspect.

I’m busy working on cabinet layouts for a couple of storage areas.  I’m thinking if we can buy the materials, Christine and I can install them without much difficulty.  We lack money and resources to have someone else install and having the storage would do wonders for my sanity and avoid future drinking problems.

Hiccup with selling the old place as the buyer’s inspector found a laundry list of things to fix including radon levels 4x the recommended limit.  So we’ll all be dying of lung cancer after living in our toxic environment for up to nine years apiece.  Yay!  I inadvertently killed my family, awesome accomplishment – me!

I am just not allowed to enjoy one god damn thing about life or this project because for every step I take forward I get one or two set backs.  At this point I don’t even care.  I stepped outside on the unfinished porch like fifteen individual times tonight just to be out there listening to the birds and an approaching thunderstorm.  At one point a rabbit sat dead still about twenty-five feet from me, each of us contentedly looking at each other.  I stood out there just to be out there. Yesterday I saw a cool tan snake as I watered one of my over achieving hazelnut saplings.  Each day it’s something different. There are so many life altering moments and opportunities out here it’s truly magical.  I can feel it.  This place has healing properties if I just let it do what it’s supposed to do.  So while I’m now apparently doomed to die of lung cancer, through no fault of the new place, there’s an outside chance my spirit will be nourished and healed.

I’m sure there are vistas of man and god that are grander in every way than what one may observe from my back porch.  Though I’d argue that one hath not to gaze beyond a blade of grass to bask in true wonder and spectacle, beyond that which any man can create.  And I have thousands of blade, branch and fern at my tactile disposal. But the energy of this “place” is derived from something far greater than the sum of these parts.  And it is derived from more than that which bathes our eye in green, stimulates our touch, supports our step or delights our ears.  Circumstance and timing are part of the orchestra as well.

Everything apparently may happen for a reason. Pace and urgency are in the orchestra pit as well. To fully experience an experience fully I truly believe the stage requires completeness and relatively undivided attention. Life is fairly predictable, or at least I think so.  Everything is probably formulated from about a half-dozen essential core cause and effects, propped up by the reality that is the world around us, and then seasoned with the details we perceive to be important.  The point is there are a lot of moving parts, but maybe not a lot of outcomes.  The trick may be in the details as to what the outcome is; whether a place provides us with what we really need or doesn’t.  Like a small tree in new soil.  In the end the tree makes it or not…two simple outcomes. 

This place, whatever it will be, for however long it will be, will be one of wonder, nurturing growing and healing I’ll bet.  We’ll see. For now though it needs to be a place to get some rest.

-c

Footprints

 

 We’re in the midst of a unseasonably warm and dry Spring here in Northeast Ohio.  After dinner each night I go outside and fill up the watering can and drag out the hose.  Many of the baby trees I planted are doing remarkably well.  Some are most likely dead now due to lack of water.  As I traverse the yard back and forth with my watering can, it never ceases to delight me to see my boy’s little footprints in the dried mud of what is now our yard.  I can remember the day not too long ago when he made them.  There’s a depression in the back yard and he was following me and my wheel barrow on a day when we were planting baby trees.  At one point I looked back to see what he was fussing about and there he was in the distance, stuck in the little depression where the rain likes to run when it does rain around here.  There he stood as I walked back to him, mud up over the top of his green frog boots, the courage of a fearless toddler giving way to fear as he realized he was stuck.  Fortunately dad’s kinda specialize in getting their kids “unstuck”.  Plucking him up in one arm his little frog boots stood solidly cemented in place.  With a mixture of relief and alarm he gathered in my arm peering at his jettisoned footwear.  Reaching down I plucked the rubber boots, with a faint pop, out of the milkshake mud and slipped them back on my little guy’s feet, and set him down.  Firmly on drier ground he lifted up his plastic miniature wheel barrow and demanded we get back to planting trees.

And there they sit.  Two little foot prints to remind me of how fleeting life really is and if you don’t stop for a second every once in a while you’re gonna miss something.  Rain, in theory, will eventually fall and start to erode those little footprints.  Then grass will pop up and replace their impressions with a carpet of soft green blades.  And even the most jaded of us has to be saddened at the eventual prospect of those little feet growing up and moving on down the road of life.

But for today at least I’ve got two little footprints cast in dried mud and a little guy with a plastic wheel barrow to help me water dreams into reality. 

Oh, by the way, he’s starting to talk about his Halloween costume already, for this year.  Sigh as if being a tomato plant last year wasn’t enough….this year he may very well be dressed up along those lines in garb that would be a suitable tribute to this blog’s namesake.  Stay tuned.

 

I’m putting in adjustable Closetmaid shelving in the big closet. Very pricey so plan accordingly. Available at Home Depot.

This may be one of the most important pics here. Scaffolding on the metal roof that provides access for siding and painting has to be custom fabricated. Especially with this valley out back. Good reference if you’re scratching your head.

Red Robin has awesome burger selection but they need to stop putting food in basket. I demand a plate!

 

We desperately need organized storage. Here I’m planning out a desk area for my studio.

 

Photo Update

Today I’ll treat you to a photo update.  There are various and assorted things going on at the ranch.  The painters are cranking away despite me getting them in trouble. They just don’t talk to me anymore. 

We bought out first LED bulb for the house.  It’ll go in a table lamp in the Family Room.  $30 at Lowes.  A bit pricey but I’ll write it off as an experiment. (no, I’m not literally writing it off like a tax thing or anything).  Elsewhere art is starting to hang, mantles are cracking and I even built a shelf.  I’m also enjoying my Garden Weasel, though some rain would be awesome.  Mother nature washed away all our seed, then whatever seed was left over sprouted and is now dying at the hands of a drought.  It’s rained once since the lawn went in.  Our cistern water system lacks the water pressure to sprinkle the lawn much.

By the way, speaking of art, check out these two guys and their great art.  Edward Park paints fantastic landscapes. Paul Fletcher’s encaustic paintings have to be seen to be believed; they’re made from bees wax. We’re fortunate to have original pieces in our new home.

Finally I saw the most awesome medium sized turtle in the backyard the other day, while I was watering the hazelnut trees.  I’m amazed by how many cool animals call our land home.

SW7675 Sealskin

That’s the color of our house.  SW7675 Sealskin from Sherwin Williams’ Global Spice palette.  That’s the same pallete we’re using inside the house.  In case you are wondering, “Sealskin” is the same color as the skin on a seal. 

3 coats required. one primer and two top coats.

We were thinking of painting the house an orange / red color.  We had absolutely no reservations about using such a bright color.  It really came down to seeing a dark blue-charcoal color house and really liking its color.  The blue part wouldn’t fly on our place but charcoal does all the way.  Sealskin was darker than the grey roof color so it wouldn’t look to “matchy matchy” but still be appropriate.  But it wasn’t as dark as Urbane Bronze which was a bit too bold for our comfort zone.  Bright orange would have suffered seasonally especially at Christmas time.  White was another option but deemed way too common.  Plus white trim wouldn’t pop out.

The nice charcoal color will look great year round.  Everything with color pops against a dark grey background.  Flowers will stand out in Spring and Summer.  Fall colors will warm up against a backdrop of dark grey.  And Winter seasonal decor and tradition will be right at home.  Should be fantastic.

Sections of house are delineated by color

The attic, master wing and front door corner will all be painted Sealskin.  The remainder of the house will be weathered red cedar.  All the trim will be a bright white.  The intent between painting different sections of the house different colors or making them different textures is to give the viewer the impression that the house was built in stages or it is made up of several smaller structures.  This ties into the historical homes, mills, and shops in the area that, through the ages, have grown and evolved.  The contrast of the bright white trim will keep everything feeling fresh, clean and contemporary.

 Alright, I’m going to bed.  Been up since 6:30am working, making dinner, watering the lawn, planting flowers and painting art.  This makes for a long day, but also a very good day.

This weekend is more of the same.  No rest for the weary.

 

The meager beginnings of our Gentleman’s Farm. Various berry bushes, some kiwi trees, tomato plants and four carrots.

Hardware

So many things to talk about today.  I should be working on art but I’m giving myself a pass since it was 9:30 before I finally sat down and ate dinner.  My left eye lid twitches uncontrollably….I need a beer…..(stay there a second, I’ll be right back).Ok, I’m back (mmm….Great Lakes Brewing Co. Dortmunder Gold).  So where to start…right out of the gate the wife reported we had grass popping up all over.  Not a yard’s worth but at least not all was lost.  Then the glass guy showed up and fixed the shower door, no questions asked.  Go “Glassman”.  Thank you. 

Crate and Barrel delivered our family room and dining room rugs early in the day.  The wife single-handedly moved all the furniture and laid out the rug pad and 9×12 Baxter area rug.  Impressive.  We laid out the 8×10 Gianni dining room rug when I got home.  By the way if you’re getting a rug, get a grippy rug pad for underneath.  It will help soften your steps, and make things feel generally more comfortable.  We simply laid the rug on top, flipped the edges of the rug back, and  cut our rug pad 3-4 inches from the edge of the rug, using regular fabric scissors.  The rugs look awesome.  Overall our interior decorating / space planning in the family / dining room area is a train wreck that will take some creativity to salvage.

Back outside the painters got started today.  Most of the house is primed.  Painting should take two weeks and require three coats including the primer coat (to seal the Miratec siding material).

The most exciting thing that happened today is a tie between two items.  One is I found a Garden Weasel at Sears!!!!!  I desperately searched Home Depot and Lowes.  Lowes had no such animal and HD was out.  Way to go Sears!  Now I can rough up my ground, get exercise and plant various seeds everywhere.  Look, life for me is basically over for all intents and purposes.  Whatever dreams and aspirations I once had are now bitter memories, stomached only with a steady diet of cold beer and sarcasm.  For me, finding a Garden Weasel is as good as it gets.  After watering the berry bushes I inexplicably garden weaseled a patch of dirt and planted wildflower seeds.  The mulch had to wait for another night.  Tonight was Garden Weasel night.  All hail the Garden Weasel.

The other exciting thing was we got some “hardware” tonight.  “Hardware” is the kick ass trophies, certificates, medals and shit you get when you, or something you did, or something you are credited for doing stands out compared to the half-assed effort everyone else mail in on a that day…..

We got our Energy Star 2.5 certificate and electrical panel sticker.  Here are some highlights:

  • HERS (Home Energy Rating System) score of 41 is our rater’s lowest figure that he’s certified.  A zero energy house has a score of 0.  A typical new house is around 70-85.  An old existing house is typically 100-130.  Compared to a 130 rated house we save $3400 annually in energy costs.  About $1700 compared to a regular new house.  So over a 30 year loan we’ll save $51K-$102K in energy savings assuming energy prices don’t go up in the next thirty years. 
  • Estimated annual energy costs for our 4780 sq. ft home (includes conditioned basement) should be $2,450.20.  A bit high but we have a lot of lights ($1,090 of annual total), not all of which are used all the time; they still influence our score though.  Figures calculated using CFL bulbs. 
  • Lights, appliances and heating are biggest projected energy consumers.  Cooling and water heating are least.
  • 5 star plus rating puts us in the top 1% of energy efficient houses in the country.
  • ACH (Air Changes per Hour) @ 50 Pascals is 2.25.  This measurement of how tight the house is, can be improved once I install fanboard in the crawlspaces and we finish the basement off.  PassivHaus standards require this figure to be 0.6 or less.  EnergyStar 2.5 requires 4 or less.  Not bad for our first try with new comers to these construction processes.
  • There are 1 million EnergyStar homes in the US since the program began in 1995.
  • Almost 39,000 Energy Star homes in Ohio

This is all very exciting.  I’ll keep a close eye on our utility bills and keep you posted.  Okay, I gotta get to bed.  Another long day tomorrow.  Here are today’s pics.

Energy Star Sticker – HERS rating is 41

Our certificate awaiting framing.

mmmm Garden Weasel

Family Room wool area rug

No, kids are not helpful when laying down area rugs.