Sunday, January 21, 2018


Before Christmas I hosted an open house for people I work with.

Some had been here before and tagged along on tours to see the changes.

Others had not been here before and received the full tour.

Often people ask if the house is haunted. In response I usually tell the story of the light in the  makeup mirror.

Now I have another story to tell.

During the tour with a handful of people, we were in the Study. I was describing how its style is much more masculine than the Music Room. I mentioned that typically after dinner, the ladies would have gone to the Music Room and the men would have gone to the Study to have a cognac and cigar.

After I finished explaining, one of the ladies mentioned that she could smell cigar smoke. We all paused for a moment and could smell it too.

It wasn't a faint odor; it was noticeable.

I'm in the study typing this and it doesn't smell of cigar smoke now.  And there hasn't been a cigar smoke odor in this room in the past either.

Another thing that's hard to explain...

Friday, December 22, 2017

History Repeats Itself

We've been here long enough that it's time to return to the beginning.

The carpet in the carriage house was starting to look a little tired. And SWMBO wanted to change the wall color while we're at it.

It took a while to find the right ones and the decision was finally made.

With everything going on we also decided that I wouldn't do the painting. We reached out to the original painter who did the exterior painting way back at the beginning of our journey. He was available and we got on his schedule.

He did the bulk of the painting and agreed to come back after the carpet had been installed.

The carpet install went less smoothly.

First, there was a flaw in the carpet, but they installed it anyway.

Second, the installation wasn't great. The seams were very noticeable. Now, we know there are going to be seams in a space this size and we know that seams aren't invisible. But these were bad.

Third, as they we cleaning up, the vacuum caught one of the loops at the seam and unraveled the carpet. Noticeably.

It took a while to get the vendor to agree to fix everything.

And in the meantime we got a call from William the Painter wondering when he could come back to touch up after the carpet install.  He understood the delay after hearing the story...

Eventually they aordered new carpet and got the install right.

William came back and touched up where necessary.

And all is good.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Mind The Gap Again

SWMBO has complained about the carriage house entry being cold in the winter. With it being colder than normal over the past few weeks, she applied pressure for me to do something about it.

It didn't take much investigation to notice that the top edge of the door was not level with the jamb.

I fixed a problem like this once before, but in this case the solution is a little different.

The easiest way to solve this particular problem is to build up the door.  So I found a piece of poplar at the store that was about the right thickness at the thick end of the gap.

After planing it down and tapering it to fit the gap I installed it with glue and my pneumatic pinner. A little painters tape held down the thin end until the glue dried.

Now that the glue is dry we can pull the last of the tape remnants, clean it up, and paint it in the spring.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bleed Valves

All last winter one of my bleed valves had a slow leak. Not much, just a drop every minute or two. Just enough to be annoying and make a wet spot on the floor.

The leak was not from the valve itself, but rather from the threaded connection between the PEX-to-threaded pipe fitting and the bleed valve adapter.

This photo is of the leaking old one with 6 months of mineral deposits, etc...

A few weeks ago I made a new assembly, cut the old one out, and installed the new one.

When I opened the shut off valves...

It leaked worse than the old one.  Argh!

Did I mention that I assembled it using used parts?

Probably not a good idea...

So, off to the store to get new ones and try again...

And a third time...

Still no luck.

So I gave up and installed a PEX plug at the top of the tee. I filled the vertical PEX stub with water before crimping everything, so it will still function as an air trap.

Lo and behold, no leaks.

Now SWMBO is happy because the in-floor heat is working again.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Light Bulbs

We had a friend over for an update tour last weekend. She hadn't been here in a while, so she got to see the many updates since she was here last.

Along the way we noticed a number of light bulbs that appeared to be out, so I added a new task to my list.

It runs out many were loose and just needed to be screwed in a little tighter.

A few however were burned out.

I've been waiting to see when LED candelabra bulbs might be usable in exposed locations. I happened across these at the store.

Unlike many others that are unsightly around the base, these actually look like regular bulbs. And they now come in soft white so they look good when lit as well.



The kids are getting older and are not as interested in various Halloween decorations. We never had many outdoor decorations, but those we had were starting to look a little sad. So we dumped them a while back.

While at the big orange box the other day I saw something that looked intriguing and got SWMBO's approval.

They project onto a translucent screen that is hung in a window. And here's what one video segment looks like:

And another one:

Monday, August 21, 2017

Playing In The Dirt, Again

The old crab apple trees were never my favorite part of the landscape. They provided some privacy, but they always looked sad. They were well past their prime. I'd been angling for some time for SWMBO to let me cut them down.

Needless to say, I wasn't terribly upset when the falling oak took them out. And over the weekend I got my wish.

Saturday was a pretty boring day. While everyone else was doing other stuff, I cut the grass, weeded many of the annual &perennial beds, dead-headed various flowers, and weed-killed the boulevards so I can re-seed them later in the year.

And had a little bonfire with the sticks and fallen branches from the yard.

During my bonfire respite, I contemplated my dirty fingers from the day's work. At least I still have all my fingers after all these years of projects.

Sunday the little man (who is already as big as me) and I went to buy the trees I've had my eye on.

Because we had other commitments on Sunday, I couldn't plant them until tonight.

And now I have my own little edible fruit orchard.

  • Sweet Sixteen apple
  • Honeycrisp apple
  • Polly peach
All are dwarf varieties and winter hardy here. The peach is self-fertile so it doesn't need a pollinator. It'll probably take a couple of years before we get any signification amount of fruit, but I'm not in a hurry.

I'll probably have to dig out the pair of Taunton Yews along the wall. They have always been completely protected from the sun and now that the space gets full sun, they've gotten pretty crispy and won't survive.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Where the Sidewalk Ends

The step at the ends of both our sidewalks have slowly been crumbling apart.

We'd got bids for repairing this and a couple of other things and finally pulled the trigger on this part of the repair.

The guys called early one day to say that they had a hole in their schedule and would be over later in the day.  We were a bit surprised that the work was happening so soon, but otherwise we had no issues.

Day one they broke out the old step and day two the poured the new ones.

They did a great job reproducing the old profile so we don't have issues with the HPC.

They also fixed the one on the north side (right edge of the photo).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Good Timing

This morning we had a little incident in the yard  (photo is from after some of the cleanup was performed).

One of the big oak trees fell and apparently made quite a racket. Fortunately no one was in the way at the time so there were no injuries.

Had this happened a couple of weeks ago during the party, a bunch of people would have gotten squished...

The top of the tree landed on the wall and obstructed the sidewalk.

In the process it took out one of the apple trees (you can see what's left of it on the right side of the photo holding up the top of the oak) and most of the other.

Once it's all cleaned up we'll be able to better evaluate the damage and determine next steps.


A couple of weeks ago I received complaints that the door from the garage to the carriage house wouldn't open.

I quickly tried it a couple of times with no success and declared it out of scope for the party.

I didn't want to get into yet another project, because I had a feeling...

And I was right.

As always, it's never easy.

I devoted some time over the weekend to tackling the problem.

After messing about for a bit I still had no luck and decided to take off the doorknob so I could see what was going on.

Regardless of what I did, the latch wouldn't fully retract. I even took off the casing on the interior of the door and tried various tools to force it.

Eventually I ended up removing the hinge pins and taking the door off completely.

Then I could remove the entire latch mechanism.

This must be a common failure because the big box stores stock the specific replacement part for the failed component.

It's sad that we have fully functioning 100+ year-old door latches, but these modern ones, that I installed, break in less than 10 years...