Saturday Ramblings

A busy Saturday, but we’ve gotten somethings off the list. First off the gallery wall is completely painted with two coats of our Sable color paint. Check that off the list.

The gallery wall is painted. Another project complete.

The gallery wall is painted. Another project complete.

Also first thing this morning I went around and installed all the window cranks once and for all. We were missing a few and the set screws were never set. I went around and tightened the set screw and installed the missing cranks; I had to buy three extra sets at $30 a pop.

Tightening the window cranks, finally after 18 months.

Tightening the window cranks, finally after 18 months.

All the window cranks are installed, at long last.

All the window cranks are installed, at long last.

The window crank in the upper studio...well it's not going to get tightened since I can't physically reach it.

The window crank in the upper studio…well it’s not going to get tightened since I can’t physically reach it.

Wouldn’t you know it, I got to the last two windows and I was still missing two cranks. I actually had two in hand, but they were the wrong ones. Not sure why there are “left” and “right” cranks, but never the less I had two of the wrong ones.  I knew I had double and triple counted before I ordered the replacements. So I did the only thing I could do. I put a bounty out for two lefthand window cranks, promising $30 a piece for their discovery and safe delivery to me. Within an hour and a half the wife “discovered” where someone had inexplicably hidden said cranks; one in a junk drawer and one on a shelf somewhere. Having avoided ordering new cranks I installed the found ones, and forked over $60 in cash to the wife.

I am certain my family hides things now on purpose, because they know I will put out a bounty and I always pay in cash. Hey, if it means stuff is found and I don’t have to look for it, so be it. Our track record in the new house for finding bountied items is 100%.

The other day the wife and kids picked up an apple corer during a field trip to a local orchard. It’s pretty neat and makes apples fun to eat at lunch time. Also, not sure if you saw, but the front bed is now covered in fabric and mulch. Check that off the list.

The wife got an apple corer. It's a pretty neat little toy.

The wife got an apple corer. It’s a pretty neat little toy.

The giant front bed is now covered completely with fabric an mulch. Check that off our list.

The giant front bed is now covered completely with fabric an mulch. Check that off our list.

We checked on the bees this week too and they look great as always. The top mid-sized super has been prepared by the bees and is ready for honeycomb, then honey. We have a ton of late Summer flowers in the yard, and the warm days mean the bees are working hard. During inspection some honey dripped out of the comb and I snuck my first taste of our honey. It was magically sweet. I can’t wait to sneak a few small frames worth in October.

A tall frame capped with honey. You can see two colors of honey, light and dark, presumably from two different times of the year.

A tall frame capped with honey. You can see two colors of honey, light and dark, presumably from two different times of the year.

A frame from the center of the hive, covered with capped brood.

A frame from the center of the hive, covered with capped brood.

Bees enjoying a little sun, waiting for the hive to be reassembled.

Bees enjoying a little sun, waiting for the hive to be reassembled.

Bees congregating on an already inspected super.

Bees congregating on an already inspected super.

Inspecting a frame.

Inspecting a frame.

Our girls coming back home, and leaving the hive.

Our girls coming back home, and leaving the hive.

Our list goes on and on but it is very manageable. With every project complete the house feels more like home. Getting some art and photos up on the walls will help tremendously, and that is on the list. Another thing on the list is clearing out the brush around the gum trees. Which I need a working trimmer with a brush clearing attachment to do that job. Of course I wasted half of Friday trying to fix our TroyBilt trimmer…I replaced the spark plug, new gas, new oil, cleaned the air filter…in the end I couldn’t get it to start. I took it to a repair shop and the guy basically said he could clean the carburetor for $75 but why not just buy a new one with a warranty for $99 at Lowes. Basically ours was designed to be a throw away trimmer; a poster child for a throw away society.  Hmmm….what to do. I could fix it myself but that’d take hours of research and effort. I could go buy a new $99 one…after all ours is 10 years old and I could then use all the attachments with the new one (trimmer, brush cutter, blower). Or all we really need is a gas brush cutter, since we got a new electric GreenWorks string trimmer to handle grass duty. Getting a stand alone brush cutter would mean it was higher quality and not a throw away product. That would support a company making quality products that you want to service vs. a company making garbage products (I’m not a TroyBilt fan per se). In the end I’m going to go out and get a brush cutter, and probably drop $300 in the process. And yes it will be gas-powered, as I don’t know of any electric ones out there. I’ll try to sell off the old trimmer (along with my old gas mower) to some soul who is more mechanically inclined and adventurous than I am.

Okay, back to work for me.  Happy weekend peeps.

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Gallery Wall Is Painted And The Master Sinks Hate Me.

Well with my birthday over, and my offroading trip finished too, we’ve started this week by settling back into the groove. And as such I have set aside the time to write and let you know what we’ve been up to.  Absolutely nothing productive is happening outside. I just don’t look out the windows at the plant bed that still needs fabric and mulch. Nor do I look at the gum trees that need freedom from the encroaching meadow around them.  And don’t even get me started on the back yard and garden.

Inside though we’re taking baby steps. We pretty much are done painting the upstairs hall “gallery” wall. Here’s what it looked like before, painted Canvas Tan (SW7531):

The hall gallery wall before in tan.

The hall gallery wall before in tan.

We left the rest of hall that color, but for the gallery wall which runs a long way from studio to bedrooms, we wanted something darker to camouflage the closet door cut lines, hinges and door knobs. Also the dark color would make artwork “pop” when hung on that wall. Looking at our Global Spice palette of colors we selected Sherwin Williams GS18 Sable SW6083 which is a dark brown color that goes perfectly with the sage carpet and the aforementioned Canvas Tan.

I thought we’d only need a gallon to cover the 7′ tall wall that runs around…I don’t know….twenty feet long?  And surprise, surprise I was right. Because the walls were already tan we didn’t need to prime them, and two coats of brown did the job. We just have to hit the door edges and closet edges with one more coat and the job will be done. Eventually we’ll replace all the outlets on the wall with brown ones to hide those too.

The gallery wall being painted Sherwin Williams GS18 Sable SW6083.

The gallery wall being painted Sherwin Williams GS18 Sable SW6083.

Do we like it? You’re darn right we like it, a lot.  It provides visual complexity to the space and helps close in the hallway a little, making it more “homey”. And no it’s not too dark at all. Despite not having any windows in the hallway, the space gets enough daylight leaking in from all the adjacent rooms that natural light is not a problem during the day. At night it’s a more engaging space, with a new level of complexity that makes it more interesting. I liken it to a theater set, in that there is a lot more going on visually; an eclectic mix that suits our aesthetic preferences.  This is the second time we’ve painted interior walls in dark brown and we loved it each time. In our old house the entry AND back hall were a nearly black brown and it was fantastic.

Okay, so we banged out that painting project (good ’cause the paint was sitting for like 2 months since we bought it).  Check! No more “paint the hall” monkey on my back. One minor monkey project is the window cranks. The overpriced, but necessary, cranks ($30 a pop!) showed up this week. That means I just need to go around to each window, install cranks where they are missing, and tighten the set screws on ALL the cranks. Then…voila! No more hand crank monkey on my back either.  Only took me 18 months.  Not bad considering my track record for accomplishing things.

While I was emboldened to get things off my list I called up the plumber to check on the Master Bed sinks. As you may or may not know, the little rods you pull to close the drain broke off our overpriced Kohler faucets the first time we used them.  It’s a horrifically (sp?) bad design. I plan on writing Kohler a strongly worded letter asking why they design such garbage and then charge people upwards of $800-$1,000 retail per faucet. The plumber and the sink supplier both tried to get Kohler to provide a fix but the company couldn’t; basically they said “tough shit, there’s nothing wrong with our product” and left us hanging. Well I discovered we had a slick push button drain stop in our half bath sink.  Only took me 18 months to figure that out too. It looks like this:

This is a Kohler push button drain, but apparently it's only available with the nickel faucet in our half bath, not as a stand alone part in chrome.

This is a Kohler push button drain in our half bath.  Yeah, that’ll work.

Well I asked the plumber / plumbing supplier if we could just put these cook push button stops in our Master sinks. Problem solved: push button stops and we’d just glue the old drain stops in place so they looked good but didn’t function. Take that Kohler.  Without looking at anything the plumber and supplier decided I could get two push button stops, and the plumber would split the cost with me; they were $40 a pop. I said “that’s fine” ’cause I just wanted the sink drain monkey off my back. I’ll save my fight with Kohler for another day.

So the plumber came out and changed the drains. I didn’t see them because we had to run the boys to school. When I got back I didn’t think to look at them since I was super busy with work I had to get to. I paid the plumber as he explained something about needing a washer to connect a pipe or something to the new drains….okay, whatever I’m sure it’s fine…I don’t have time to learn all the nuances of being a plumber. It’s tough enough being a neurotic, self-absorbed, design prick…let alone a plumber too. Off the plumber went.

Well nature called so I decided to go check out the drains, expecting to see what you see in the above photo, just chrome.  This is what I saw:

This is ridiculous. Going from bad to worse with our Master Bathroom.

This is ridiculous. Going from bad to worse with our Master Bathroom.

Our new giant push button drains look stupid.

Our new giant push button drains look stupid.

I didn’t even know where to begin. All I could see was this giant chrome thing, about the size of a hubcap on a ’53 Mercury in the middle of our sinks, sticking up like a toadstool that small fairies would hide under during fairy hunting season.

“Wow” I thought.

“Those look big, even for a trashy LA mansion, let alone our humble bathroom. Who thought that was a good idea?” I said to my indifferent brown hand towel who witnessed the entire transformation with nary a word.

Ugh, I don’t have time for this.

For shits and giggles I looked underneath the sink to see what was up down there. I chuckled a little bit. On one sink a nut is holding up the drain pipe. On the other it’s a cutoff of copper tube holding that one up. Apparently the plumber couldn’t readily make the connection between drain and pipe so they’re just sort of squished together, propped up by the random bits.

I don't even know why I bother anymore. Here you can see a nut permanently holding up the drain pipe under the sink because something or anther doesn't bond together properly.

I don’t even know why I bother anymore. Here you can see a nut permanently holding up the drain pipe under the sink because something or anther doesn’t bond together properly.

Ugh, I don’t have time for this.

I called up the plumbing supplier and asked him if Kohler made any push button drains like the one in the half bath. They don’t. They sell that one ONLY with that faucet.  Lovely. Of course that is how they do it. A product someone wants, so don’t offer it. Marketing genius. He did inform me that Moen sells something that will work. I did not ask why didn’t we use that part to begin with. No sense asking the universe unanswerable questions. And no, no returns on the drains that were just installed. So after another $80 out of my pocket, I have two of these ordered:

Moen push button drain. We have two on order for $40 apiece.

Moen push button drain. We have two on order for $40 apiece.

I’ve called my other plumber and he said he’d install them once I get them. I told him, even if we have to take everything back to the wall, I want the pipes done properly. No matter the cost.  I think I’ve done more remodelling projects in our new home than I ever did in our last house that we lived in for a decade. I don’t even argue anymore, I just go with the flow.  Get it?  I “go with the flow“. Plumbing humor.

Going back to the upstairs hall, now that it’s painted I started dreaming about the lighting in there. For now it’s just boring ceiling lights. But the staircase is screaming for a nifty chandelier to add an eclectic charge to our theater like brown and tan hallway.  It looks boring now:

Staircase...bookshelves on the left (back) wall and chandelier from ceiling...someday.

Staircase…bookshelves on the left (back) wall and chandelier from ceiling…someday.

Eventually we want to cover the back wall in a shallow bookcase. And cascading down in front of that bookcase, above the landing, sprouting form the current light location, I’m thinking a really cool glass ball or industrial light fixture.  This is the sort of thing I have in mind:

Stainless ball chandelier.

Stainless ball chandelier.

Awesome pipe fitting chandelier from Restoration Hardware.

Awesome pipe fitting chandelier from Restoration Hardware.

Elegant glass ball pendant chandelier.

Elegant glass ball pendant chandelier.

Barn Light Electric offers this simple multi bulb chandelier.

Barn Light Electric offers this simple multi bulb chandelier.

Meteor shower glass ball chandelier.

Meteor shower glass ball chandelier.

Cool rustic ball chandelier.

Cool rustic ball chandelier.

Very cool pipe fitting lighting.

Very cool pipe fitting lighting.

Something like the ‘meteor shower’ or stainless ball chandelier would look perfect there. The space is so vertical, a light fixture that takes advantage of the space will do wonders for the stairwell and hallway. It’s such an asymmetrical space, that the fixture needs to be asymmetrical as well. In my mind the space can become one of the most dynamic spaces in the house. And rightfully so since it’s the main traffic corridor. It’ll be some time before we redo the lighting up there, including adding track lighting for the gallery wall, but it’s never to early to plan and dream. I’m even knocking around the idea of a spiral staircase to the loft, but the will be way down the road.

Alright, I think that brings us up to speed. Hopefully my studio shelves will be done soon so we can start installing them. Which in turn will help us get organized both in the studio and in the basement, which currently houses all of my art business junk.

We’ve kicked out a few monkeys.  This is good.

Pirate Looks At Forty

Nothing new to update, just painting a wall this weekend. In the meantime, lyrics to a Jimmy Buffett tune to pass the time. Peace people.

Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call,
Wanted to sail upon your waters
since I was three feet tall.
You’ve seen it all, you’ve seen it all.

Watch the men who rode you,
Switch from sails to steam.
And in your belly you hold the treasure
that few have ever seen, most of them dreams,
Most of them dreams.

Yes, I am a pirate two hundred years too late.
The cannons don’t thunder there’s nothin’ to plunder
I’m an over forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late.

I’ve done a bit of smugglin’
I’ve run my share of grass.
I made enough money to buy Miami,
But I pissed it away so fast,
Never meant to last, never meant to last.

I have been drunk now for over two weeks,
I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks,
But I’ve got to stop wishin’,
Got to go fishin’, I’m down to rock bottom again.
Just a few friends, just a few friends.

I go for younger women, lived with several awhile

And though I ran away, they’ll come back one day.

And still could manage a smile
It just takes awhile, just takes awhile.

Mother, mother ocean, after all these years I’ve found
My occupational hazard being my occupations
just not around.
I feel like I’ve drowned,
Gonna head uptown.

-Jimmy  Buffett

 

Honey

With the heat coming on fast and early we decided it was a good idea to check on the bees this morning. Despite the today’s heat the bottom is going to drop out temperature wise starting tomorrow with a rainy front coming in. And our schedule won’t allow for checking our furry friends for at least a week if we didn’t do it today. So we dawned our bee suits, grabbed our gear and headed through the garden to the north meadow.

The biggest question mark going into today’s exam was whether or not our girls were doing anything with the medium super that has been on the hive for quite some time now. Just two weeks ago all the frames in the only super were bare, with few bees even wandering about. All the frames and the super were sealed up with propolis, but no honeycomb. As I removed the outer and inner covers I could tell right away things were significantly different this week. I could visibly see honeycomb on several frames, in some instances spanning erroneously from one frame to the next, but present no less. As Christine pulled the medium-sized frames we gleefully discovered that in the course of two weeks our bees went from empty frames to about nine frames full of honey in the super. Simply amazing.

All of our fields are alight in the goldenrod bloom as well as the tiny white flowers of that dragon like weed I was clearing out last week. In addition to that the clover is still in its ever-present bloom as well. Our bees have got it really, really good folks. They don’t have to go far to collect pollen. From last to (yet to come) first frost this year our yard is a kaleidoscope of blooming flowers of every variety. I’m not sure what the garden of Eden looks like but I suspect our little hollow tucked out-of-the-way, just a stone’s throw from the crooked river, is every bit as beautiful in September. As Summer wears itself out with hot afternoons and puffy white clouds,  Autumn gets a jump on things, painting the yard aglow in green, yellow, and red; speckling it with dreamlike white dots of daisies and queen anne’s lace. Perennials shaped like fireworks dance in air so warm that it feels like you can grab a handful and put it in your pocket.

As Christine examined the taller super we could see our queen has been busy. Every stage of pupae could be seen, from a grain of rice up to baby bees emerging from their cells. We witnessed the birth of at least three during our visit. Doing a full inspection today, Christine left me in charge to carry on looking at frames while she ran back to the house to get toothpicks. We use the toothpicks to pull drones out of their cells as they are developing. It kills the drone but allows us to check for mites. Well for me, being in charge made me kind of nervous. Nervous like when I first held our box of bees on delivery day so many months ago. Checking the frames isn’t my gig. I stand there, take pictures, scrape comb and propolis to satisfy my OCD issues, and look for the queen. By the way Christine saw the queen first today. Anyway, checking frames isn’t what I was trained to do. But never the less there I stood all alone with our 12,000 girls.  I pried a frame out just like our resident beekeeper does…I was trying to recall how she did it without squashing bees. Then I lifted out a deep frame. It was incredible – it must have weighed ten pounds, fully laden with honey for the bees’ Winter. Then another heavy frame. How does that tiny mother of my children lift these things? After a few frames I settled in a bit but was still uneasy. This isn’t my gig. I take pictures. I don’t know what eggs look like. Thankfully she came back in the nick of time to take back over. We never did see any more drone cells in the lower deep so we didn’t check for mites. All the bees we did visit with looked happy and healthy so I think we’re okay for now.

With the upper super being full of honey, even though it’s not capped yet, we added the last medium super of the year up top. I would think that even with the cooler weather, that the bees might actually be able to make some headway into this fresh super and we might actually get to pull a jar of honey this year. Our fellow bee keepers will frown on our plans, but I say the bees have more than the 60 lbs. of honey they need for the winter. Besides we’re not taking everything from the upper supers, just a few frames to fill one jar for our honey tasting party (which is still to be planned).

Packing everything up we left our bees to continue their Autumn preparation. While still donning my bee suit I cut the meadow leading to and around the hive. That may be the last time for the year I hope. Maybe one more time.

We also took advantage of the nice day to stain the front porch, which looks very warm and welcoming now.

Lastly it’s September 11th, so in remembrance of that horrible day in our collective history, I wanted to share some photos of the Flight 93 Memorial we visited back in April of this year, during our return trip from visiting family in Virginia. We enjoy visiting national parks, and get a stamp in our “passport” at every one we go to. It was a somber visit to southwestern Pennsylvania, and not just because of the cold overcast Spring sky above. When the events unfolded on September 11, 2001 we were safe and sound back here in Ohio, so I don’t have any remarkable story to share. Having lived through the events though via my television it was emotional no less to see the memorial surrounding the site where a remarkable event took place.  The memorial isn’t complete, or at least they still have to build a visitor center, but that doesn’t really matter. It easy to reflect and transport yourself to that awful day, to imagine what happened there and in the air above.  You actually drive quite a ways, and then walk on foot a long distance too. A lot of time for reflection…imagining. These were real people like you and me who had people that they loved and loved them. People who worked, played and loved. Maybe one of them even liked bees like we do. And they probably had some pretty ordinary things on their minds before heroism asked them to be extraordinary.

If you get a chance to visit, please do. It’s a peaceful, beautiful place that makes you appreciate all that you have and all that you have left to experience. God bless.

 

Staining The Porch

Today was probably one of the hottest days of the year. With a change in weather coming up, from 90 degrees plus to barely 60 degrees and a chance of rain, we decided we’d better get the decks stained now. I got some work done and could delay the rest til later in the day. So around 9 AM we went out to get the back porch stained, and figured we could get the front one stained this evening or tomorrow morning. The heat wouldn’t build up until later in the day and the back porch is shielded well into the afternoon from the sun, so we didn’t think staining it would be an issue today, even if it got past 90 today.

I grabbed the two gallons of semi-transparent stain we picked out at Sherwin Williams several weeks ago. The color name escapes me now, I have a chip card somewhere in this ramshackle house, but we picked a color that we thought matched the cedar siding the best. Anyway, I taped the trim on the porch and shook up the paint can. Upon opening the can though I was fairly mortified. The stain looked a hideous shade of pink. Just to be safe I test stained an area on the porch steps and it looked just as bad there. No way was this grandma pink color going to dry to look like the siding. Crap, two gallons of stain figuratively down the drain. I couldn’t think of one use for that color anywhere on the estate. Hmmm. Well I guess no staining today.

Then I looked around the yard and saw the garden posts. That’s it. What about that 5 gallon can of stain from the old house. Who knows how old it was. Three years? Five…could it be seven years old? Does stain go bad? Well it seemed to work fine on the bat houses and the fence posts. After presenting my idea, the wife and I looked at the bat houses again. Boy, it sure looked spot on to the house siding. What the hell, I couldn’t think of a reason why not. After all I was going to throw it out just a month or two ago before I decided to use some of it on the bat house and fence post projects. And we had a ton of it left, at least 4 gallons.

So that’s what we used. And it looks great. We did the screen porch floor and the back porch floor and steps. Tomorrow we’ll do the front porch. One design change though, even though it’s stained to match the side, I think down the road we’ll actually change the color of the back porch and screen porch floors to a charcoal stain color to match the painted portion of the house. That will look really sharp, but for now the reddish-brown cedar stain looks good too.

One thing I forgot to mention in my last post, the other morning I had a fun awakening. I was fast asleep dreaming when I heard a clawing noise under my bed. I woke up disoriented wondering what the dog was doing clawing the wall under my bed. Then I realized we don’t have a dog. So then I thought, what’s the cat doing? We have a cat, but it’s a miracle she even shows up let alone do any crazy bed clawing. As I awoke further out of my slumber, I realized, crap the clawing isn’t under my bed, it is on the outside wall that my bed butts up against.  First the idea that maybe it was a zombie trying to break in and eat my cat. Then an image of a raccoon building a nest in our blue foam entered my consciousness, just like our resident yellow jackets. I leapt out of bed and tried to figure out what one wears to battle raccoons at 6am Monday morning. I decided on shorts and a t-shirt that were laying on the floor. I then listened and could still hear scraping so I ran to my studio. Well all the windows fog up every morning so I could barely see except near the edges. Squinting I could see the culprit staggering away around the back corner of the house. Was neither raccoon or zombie, but rather one of our skunks. His little black and white body disappeared from view. I ran to the family room and picked him up out of the corner of my eye as he crossed the playground into the woods. Well that was kind of interesting. Also as he was crossing, two rabbits were playing with each other in the playground too. For a second I thought maybe animals were assembling in my yard to get on an ark. With that, I went back to bed. At least I don’t have raccoons living in my walls…yet.

Heirloom Black Eyed Susan

What can I say, more of the same. Stressed out beyond belief but have some vacation time coming up. That’s not to say I’m actually working much but hey I could use a break right. My art show this weekend was a complete bust. I sat around for 2 full days to sell $60 worth of art. Leave it to me to pawn my family’s future well-being building an art studio in the middle of nowhere before I figured out that I can’t paint anything anyone would actually buy.  Well at least I’m offsetting it with a paying work project this week.

Only a couple of things to mention tonight. One, we got the decks pressure washed today and it only cost $100. Took the guy like 15 minutes with his big powerful washer apparatus. So now we can stain the decks starting tomorrow most likely, just in time for Fall.

Our heirloom black-eyed susans that were passed over to us from a friend at our old job, have finally bloomed. I thought they were dead last year with all the heat and dry weather. I’d been patiently watching their leaves all year, this year. They could have been weeds, but I’m getting pretty good at spotting perennial leaves like those on cone flowers and black-eyed susans. Well I watched them just sit there as leaves all Summer. As other weeds grew up around them. I was even tempted to pull them out but I had a feeling. And sure enough they started blooming this week. These are special flowers because they are direct descendants of the ones that can be seen in my wife’s hand cut paper artwork. So when we leave the house (after we die, or when we have to sell it later this year for example), the people who live or tour the place will be able to see the flowers and associate them to my wife’s art…which doesn’t really sell either….maybe I should have just called them weeds and pulled them…Hmmm.

Heirloom black eyed susans finally came back near the rain barrel.

Heirloom black eyed susans finally came back near the rain barrel.

 

Beyond that, I’ve been reading David Giffels’ book ‘All The Way Home’ which is about a guy who lives about 20 mins. from us who renovated an old mansion in Akron, Ohio. It’s a great book and I can relate to many of his house adventures. It’s interesting to contrast his project and ours. His was a renovation and ours new construction. I’m pretty sure his project cost a fraction of ours as he finds great reward and personal satisfaction in doing a lot of the work himself. I pay people to change light bulbs and then bitch about it, and that I’m broke. So we’re a little different I suppose. Additionally, compared to our mess, his story is actually interesting. Apparently this is a key component in successful writing so I need not worry about quitting my day job…whatever that might be. Anyway it’s a good read, I started it Sunday and should be done with it by Tuesday ’cause I can’t put it down.

Happy Monday peeps.

-Chris

Just Another Day

We exercised our electrical enhancements monkey this week. On Tuesday our electrician came out and tidied up our “to do” list. First order of business was hooking up the cool USB charging outlet in our office area. Tom the electrician cut out the drywall, ran the wire to an existing outlet and even checked my work at the other end where I installed the new outlet. I wasn’t expecting it but he even put the drywall back and mudded over the seems. One less chore for me.

Tom went above and beyond cleaning up his mess. Here he patched up our drywall after running the wire to the new office outlet.

Tom went above and beyond cleaning up his mess. Here he patched up our drywall after running the wire to the new office outlet.

The new charging outlet is up and running.

The new charging outlet is up and running.

Out on the screen porch we had him add some outlets. When we built the house we just had a cable tv wire sticking out of the wall, and no outlets to plug in an actual tv. One of our electrical panels had an open slot so he ran new wire from the panel, and the cable interface in the basement to the rim joist by the screen porch. He spray foamed the hole for the wires to make sure we maintained air tightness in the house. He even sprayed some foam around the new plumbing spigot pipe that was installed last week.  One less chore for me.

Out on the porch there’s a hollow column that is perfect for mounting all the electrical boxes to. As it turns out we asked for a ton of outlets so the column looks pretty bad now, but through no fault of Tom’s handy work. Rather just overzealous owners. We have outlets for the tv power and cable. Way up top an outlet for twinkle lights; we’ll loop those around the back porch next Spring. About 36″up another outlet was placed so we can plug in a blender for margaritas or whatnot during party time. That outlet also has a switch for the twinkle light outlet. Lastly a regular outlet down low…not sure why we did that one other than maybe for a table lap out there. Like I said, it looks awful but once we install a tv and bar countertop they should camouflage most of the visual destruction.

Enough outlet covers?  We're out of control.

Enough outlet covers? We’re out of control.

I love these slim outlet covers. They're metal and even have a hole for a lock. This one is for cable tv.

I love these slim outlet covers. They’re metal and even have a hole for a lock. This one is for cable tv.

Another cool outdoor outlet. This one is for plugging in a blender for happy hour at the estate, with a switch for the twinkle lights.

Another cool outdoor outlet. This one is for plugging in a blender for happy hour at the estate, with a switch for the twinkle lights.

After the porch we had the electrician take a look at an outlet in the upstairs hallway that never worked. Turns out it wasn’t hooked up so he was able to do the with little fanfare. In the basement he pointed out a couple oddities that were questionable but in the end we determined didn’t require immediate action. One is the pump for the septic is on a GFI outlet. Apparently the code was recently changed to no longer require pumps to be on GFI’s because if the GFI trips and we don’t know about it then the pump won’t work…I guess you figure out it’s broken when the toilets all start backing up. Also anytime you have wires leaving metal conduit there should be a transitional coupling and there were some other inconsistencies but like I said, nothing that is a deal breaker.

Lastly outside I had him look at a random set of metal wires sticking up from the ground in one of the plant beds. Apparently no one bothered to hook up the ground wires and bury them so he hooked them up free of charge for us, which was nice because he’d been working for like 9 hours already and I’m sure his family was waiting for him at home.  I’ll have to cover the wires next chance I get.

So if you’re in Northeast Ohio and need a good electrician, shoot me a line and I’ll give you Tom’s info.  He even covered our filthy floor and stairs with a drop cloth as he moved about the house.  Really did a nice courteous job.

So that’s it for electrical for the house until we finish the basement.

As for the rest of life, it is its typical roller coaster existence. Work has been slow so the thought that we’re preparing the house for sale crosses my mind often, and then things pick up here and there and we’ll be fine….then they really pick up and I get ahead of myself.  Life is funny that way.

I finally finished that painting and it’s soon to be owner is happy. And my weekend will be occupied with an art show so that’s always good, though way too much manual labor for an old guy like me.

August flew by and now September is hot on its heels. As the season winds down my sense of urgency only increases. Maybe it’s the world around me. The days are getting shorter and the yard is filled with activity. A world that was lazily enjoying the heat of Summer is now busily preparing for Fall. When I was cutting the nature trail I heard the geese moving through the valley headed for their cold weather home down south. In the yard yesterday the air was filled with dragon flies….it was incredible, not sure what they were doing but suspect the time of year had something to do with it. And of course the birds are everywhere including countless yellow ones and even the occasional cardinal.

We’re trying to get the boys out as much as we can. Wringing every warm hour out that we can while there is still time. Between loads of mulch bound for the front planting bed, I worked with them on how to hit a baseball off a tee. And as we discussed the finer points of a different type of swinging on the swing set, we looked up and watched as jets left contrails in the waning September sky.

“Dad, who’s in there?”

“I dunno bud, probably people just like you and me.”

“Where are they going?”

“Hmmm, maybe New York City or someplace.”

And it brought me back to being a kid watching planes fly overhead, leaving vapor trails across the sky. As a grown up I know whenever I’m in a plane I always look down at the world…the buildings, fields, cars….and wonder what the people are doing down there. I imagine that they’re just driving home from work, or leading their ordinary average lives, driving to the store for milk or a lottery ticket, getting ready to pick up their date or hang out with friends. Just another day, and here I am stuck in a plane coming or going. Even when I’m flying home and it’s been a long day, as the plane approaches the runway I look down and to those folks on the freeway it’s just another Thursday. There’s something to be said about it being just another Thursday. Yesterday when we looked up, if those people in the plane could have seen us I bet they’d be thinking it was just another day of the week for us.

And they’d be right.

And that’s okay. There’s something extraordinary about ordinary days.

Today we knocked a few things off our list. And added a few more. By special request I got to watch our oldest partake in swim lessons so I could see firsthand how well he floats on his back now. As we walked out I looked at all the kids playing various sports at various levels and realized how many more ordinary days we had ahead of us, god willing. It’s a lot to process during a few dozen paces to the car, especially when time is both eternal and fleeting simultaneously.

I don’t have answers, and I don’t really need any frankly.

Every day is extraordinary.

Squint and you can two planes passing overhead.

Squint and you can two planes passing overhead.