Friday, September 12, 2014

Getting Soaked at Dahlia Fest

Speaking (once again) about rain, after UF we went to the Dhali Fest down the road and it was nice. The weather discouraged some people from coming, and the crowds seemed to have thinned over the years, but it was still really nice. There were even some new faces that I knew but had never seen at the party.

The food was amazing. I dropped the kids off and went home to change, and by the time I got back, the food was all gone. Bummer, not that it really mattered, I scrounged around for crumbs and bits. Enough to get me through the night. After the meal, we all went up to the stage and watched the performances. A belted out a couple of nice tunes, even singing one she wrote, which blew me away. We stayed for most of the shows, but at some point the rain gets to you, and it was getting late, so I pulled the plug and took everyone home.

Another memorable Dhalia Fest, like all the rest. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Anirudh Koul for the pic.

UF in the Rain

A week or two back we weren't sure if UF was going on because the weather was gloomy. It was the night of Dahlia Fest and it was raining all day, but when we checked in with other people, they all were game to play. Say no more. I thought (hoped?) that the weather would clear but it ended up raining the entire time, sometimes in buckets. The ground was soaked and people were slipping and sliding all around, but we went to the end, and it was fun. Ther was a good turnout, and I think everyone enjoyed it and were glad that they came. I know we were.

What's nice about playing on wet grass is that it cleans your feet so when we got home, we didn't incur the wrath of mom by tracking muddy footprints all over the house. I love when that happens.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to albert.trank for the pic.

Preparing for Winter

Speaking of the end of summer, it's time again to prepare for winter. That means winter gear, and this year we're going to get a little socked because the kids need new gear. A and N both need new skis, and N needs new hockey skates. They both could use new sticks, but A's needs are greater in this area. N's skis are harder to find (at least for a good deal) because he rides twin-tipped skis, which never go on sale and are nearly impossible to find used. He likes them because he like to do tricks and ski backwards.

I'd better start writing more stories, because winter is looming on the horizon. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Inka for the pic.

Squeezing It All In

I realize Labor Day is long past, but we had an interesting weekend and of course it got me thinking about life and how we live it, or rather the structure to it all and things seem so mindless at times. It was a beautiful day and there was much to be done, but we felt it was important to do some family stuff, as well. I worked on the barn and then took N bike riding on the trails, after which we went to the driving range to hit a few balls. When we got home, it was still warm and nice so we decided to head over to Silverlake and do some kayaking. What's crazy is that there are still a few weeks of nice weather, but the park (it's a state park) closes on Labor Day, without exception. Seems sort of rigid, but that's the traditional day that everything ends. I remember that in New York, everyone stops having fun after Labor Day. It didn't seem that way in California, but that was many moons ago.

Either way, we rented kayaks and cruised the lake, and then had a picnic supper on the grass. It was nice, I had planned on making pulled pork tacos for supper but we just ate the pork and some bread and veggies outdoors. We then went home and watched a family movie, but it was sort of sad saying goodbye to summer. I don't know why, it just gives you a melancholy feeling. Is that biological, or the result of 14 years of public schooling?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Richard Burtle for the pic.

Schooled Once Again

Okay, we got through yet another school year, and it all goes smoothly until the end when we have to answer to the state. What a pain, but I guess they're just doing it for our own benefit. We had to get the end of year assessments done, as well as the enrollment documents and the outline of our school year. It takes a fair amount of time, but at least by the end of it you have a good sense of what we're supposed to learn this year.

As usual, I vowed to do thing better next academic year, but I say that every year. We'll see what happens this year, I feel like it will be different.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Rober Arevelo for the pic.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Water Issues

We had some water issues a few weeks back and it was quite the bummer of a situation. I even consulted with my Mentor and our neighbor who runs a water testing service, and everybody was at a loss for an answer. What makes it particularly troublesome is that human beings, and for that matter all of life, sort of needs water, at the very least to wash our hair.

The kids noticed the situation first, which makes sense because they are young and have a super sense of smell. Their hearing and vision are pretty darn good, as well. They said the water smelled funny, but R and I hadn't noticed it until we poured a glass and took a good long sniff. Sure enough, it smelled bad. The water smelled that way coming out of all the sources, including the outside taps. The only place it smelled fine was at the source, coming out of the well and into the house. This indicated that maybe it wasn't a well problem, thankfully.

I unscrewed the water filter housing and sniffed it and it seemed fine. I even had R and the kids sniff it, and they seemed to agree. We thought it might be boiler related, maybe a leak in the propane or something, even though the smell was not of propane. It smelled like motor oil. I even ran the water for a few minutes and it didn't go away. The funny thing was it dissipated within 5-10 seconds and didn't linger. I filled some mason jars and capped them quickly and brought them over to BF, the water guy, and he couldn't figure out what the smell was, though he encouraged us not to drink it. He told me that it wasn't worth it for him to test it because it was clearly not a bacteria smell, and that I should have it tested for organic compounds via the state. I ordered the kit, which is expensive, and awaited its arrival.

In the meantime, I took drastic measures, which for me means asking every possible person who might know. I contacted a plumber (Levesque, recommended by BF) who came and couldn't figure out what the smell was, though he said it reminded him of galvanized piping. He was very cool and was willing to stop by and check it out and didn't charge me a dime. Don't you love small town life? I finally broke down and went for my last-ditch desperation move - I contacted the former owner, SG, who lives right down the road. He's such a nice guy and knows houses, especially this house, inside and out. He's helped me in the past in my time of need, I just feel bad asking him about his old house, especially since he wanted it. Either way, I called him, and the first thing he said was to take out the filter. I told him it didn't smell, but he said take it out anyway and run the water.

Well, sure enough, when I pulled the filter out, it was clear that it was the source of the smell. There is a black rubber gasket that smelled like an organic solvent. Really weird, the smell was masked because it was submerged, I guess. I took it out, ran the water for about 15 minutes, and the smell was gone. Can you believe it? I should have (should've, would've, could've, but didn't, as my kids like to say) checked the filter more thoroughly and once again suffered from my incompetence. Oh well, that's why I'm a real-man only in training, right?

Now the water is fine. I still plan on testing it for yucky stuff, but for now, things seem okay.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Michelle Kelley for the pic.

Fort Noxious 2

Our compost bin has topped out and I need to start using one of the other ones. The only problem is, I have that bear to worry about. That means building another barricade, and needless to say, I'm not feeling very inspired. I whipped out the first one in a day, and it was pretty sturdy, but I benefited from using new pallets. I got some more pallets at Woodstock Home and Hardware but decided that they would be better suited for the firewood. I have several old pallets that are falling apart, so I took those, did a little repair work on them with all the scrap wood I have lying around, and they will suffice as barricade walls.

Fort Noxious 2 is a work in progress, though it coincides with the cooler weather which could signal the disappearance of our bear as he starts to get ready for winter. Then again, that's the time he needs to start storing fat and will be looking for as many all you can eat buffets as he can find.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to London Permaculture for the pic.