Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Sunshine State

Sorry for my absence, we have been in Florida for the past few days and I have to say it's been quite enjoyable. We are staying in Miami and it is my third time in this state. We stayed up near Daytona Beach a few years back and we had a great time with family, one of the more memorable Thanksgivings that I can recall. This time we're more south and what makes it so interesting is that it's almost like being in a foreign country, but not quite. There is a strong ethnic feel here, both in the people around us and in the local culture, much more than in Daytona. Most of the restaurants and businesses have a Latin influence, though they all pretty much speak English. They are very warm and friendly, and at least where we are staying it's not too touristy. You really get a feel like you're doing what the locals do, and at the very least, eating their food, which has been awesome.

As usual, we are developing a fun routine where we eat a light breakfast, go for a bike ride along the boardwalk, then swim for the rest of the day. First on the beach in the surf, then over to the pool to rinse off. Then we venture off for food, and needless to say, we are avoiding anything with a name in English. It's easy to find really good Cuban food, and since it's local, it's pretty inexpensive and they give you generous portions. I love when that happens.

We are having fun, and the kids get to feel like they're having a real beach vacation. It's really hot, but that makes being in the water all the more enjoyable.

I'll give more details when I have more down time. Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kevin Cantor for the pic.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Reaching My (minor) Wood Goal

We are slated to take a vacation at some point, and as usual, I have some level of reluctance because there is so much to do around here and the weather has not made it easy to get a good day's work in. Nonetheless, vacations are very important to us and not only do we always have a great time, but it's a really rewarding family experience to travel together. I think more families should do it, be engaged with each other's company, and welcome the quirks and complications that arise, because as one writer succinctly put it, that's when the adventure begins.

That doesn't mean that I can't get things done around here. The key is to set reasonable goals, and I set one with the firewood. Since we dipped into the pile last winter, I needed to replenish that section as well as finish stacking the far end, but there's always a conflict as to what end to attack. I decided to get the replenishing done before any sort of vacation happens, which needed about a cord of wood. This meant cutting the logs and then splitting and stacking them, but I managed to get it done. Yesterday, in fact.

It felt good to finish that section, and the wood pile looks much nicer. It still amazes me how much wood we burn, or for that matter, that I actually cut and split it, but that's what makes me a real-man in training, right? The beauty is, once I get this year's wood done, I get to start in on next year's. It would be very cool, and I mean very cool, if I could year two done by the first snowfall. You never know, stranger things have happened.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Pordeshia for the pic.

Insulation Realization

Insulating the barn continues, and I finally got off my butt and worked on the kitchen area. It wasn't as complicated as I thought it would be, and it is light years easier than insulating the roof, which is angled and reaches all the way to the floor. Putting the insulation in up there was a bear of a job, though it makes doing the walls a piece of cake. In fact, I have been cruising along for the past couple of days and was about to do the final push when I realized a few things about the insulation, all good things.

I did some investigating into state requirements for insulation on newly constructed buildings, and learned that if you're planning on living in the house, you can pretty much do whatever you want. I sort of new this, but I just read up on it and found that you can forget about insulation if you want to, it will just come back to haunt you if you want to sell the unit, or of course in the winter time. The state has established extremely rigorous guidelines, so much so that I think it makes it almost prohibitively expensive to insulate a new house, at least for the average person. The rigidity comes into play if you're planning to sell the place, where you have to disclose what you've done and the buyer gets to decide if they'll accept it.

The point is, we'll insulate properly, but somehow knowing that Big Brother is not overseeing our every move makes it easier. I was also reminded that wall requirements are lower than ceiling requirements, which could save us some money. Originally I had planned on putting an extra layer of rigid board over the insulation to up the R-value, but I now think I can just put it over the ceiling. The walls are already at the required level, so all that's left is to drywall them. How cool is that?

Finally, the kitchen area needs to be addressed. I spoke with mom about it and we decided that since it's the one area of the house that has plumbing, we should insulate to a fault, which would mean rigid board, fiberglass, and then an additional layer of rigid board, just for good measure. I'm fine with this because it's a limited area and the cost and work would not be unthinkable. There are some issues with how the pipes have been installed, but I think I can modify it to make it more protected in the event of cold weather, I just need to get some verification from certain individuals. After that, I think we're ready to put in rigid board and then, if you can believe it, dry wall. Then again, I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, counting chickens before they hatch and all.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Kelly and Debra Fuller for the pic.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Good Vibes at Tip Top Tire

I'm liking Tip Top Tire these days. Besides being a local and small family run operation, they usually have pretty good prices and they're a cool operation. The place isn't glamorous or fancy, which is fine because I don't need to sip espresso while I wait for my car to be done. I recently bought new tires from them and as usual, got a good deal. I take the car in to get the tires rotated because they can take me right away and they charge a fair price. This time around, I went in and they did the rotation for free since I bought the tires there. I don't know if this is standard practice, but I sure was stoked. I think the fact that it came as a surprise is what made it nice.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Zip250 for the pic.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Minding Moms Peas and Qs

Something that's been eating away at me is mom's garden plot, where I built a trellis for her peas. Last year we got some dwarf variety that only grew to about 3 feet, but this year I think we got a different type because it seems to keep going. It became obvious that the the structure I built was going to inadequate, so I knew I had to build on it, but how? I realize it's not rocket science, but you want something tall that will hold up the plants, which become heavy over time. I figured rather than sit impotently and sweat about it, I was better off just doing something about it.

I searched the yard and found some long stakes lying around and secured them to the pre-existing ones. I then extended the trellis with some old deer fencing that I had used for our home garden, which is now defunct. Then I tied it all together with twine and voila - suddenly we have a bigger, better trellis. Whether or not it will hold is yet to be seen, but for now, it looks good, and sometimes that's all you can hope for.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Brent Looyenga for the pic.

Fun Father's Day

Okay, falling behind again, as usual. It's amazing how the days creep up on you and before you know it, a week has passed. I am trying to avoid this but it seems to keep happening so maybe I just need to live with it... nah.

I wanted to talk about Father's Day (FD) but that was ages ago, but I'm going to talk about it anyway. It wasn't that much time, was it? I didn't want to make a big deal about the day because I'm a bit cynical about all these contrived holidays, but I didn't want to be a stick in the mud, either. Mom and the kids kept asking me what I wanted to do and the truth is, there really wasn't much I wanted to do, but at some point I couldn't keep saying that. I started sounding too much like my dad, way too pragmatic and not so much fun. Not really knowing what I wanted to do, I figured food was always a good outlet, so I decided on pizza and ice cream. No argument from the kids, but I'm sure mom wasn't so thrilled, though to her credit, she went with it.

I even got a FD breakfast, with pancakes and bacon, though for the record, I cooked the bacon. Sunday breakfasts are a bit of a tradition in our house, and it's always nice to have a slow and hearty meal together as a family. Afterward I figured I should get some work done outside, not only because there's a ton of it that needed to be done (there still is), but also to burn off some calories to earn my pizza and ice cream. I ended up working some more on the garden, getting more tomatoes into the ground, then I mowed the lawn (so cliche) and went to work on the woodpile, which is light years away from being finished, but more on that later.

At some point everyone, including yours truly, was getting hungry, so we headed out to W. Leb to eat at Ziggy's and then to Fore-U for some ice cream. Everyone seemed to want veggie pizza, though I personally think pizza does best with a salty meat on it, but that's just me. They have a pretty good deal over there where you can get a specialty pizza and a free small cheese pie to go along with it, so we did that, though somehow the pizza didn't blow me away. Then it was off to Fore-U, where there were some pleasant surprises, though the place was packed. I think mom was impressed, it was her first time there, but it's usually pretty crowded. I love that place.

First off, we had a coupon for a free sundae with the purchase of the same. One of the things I want on FD just happens to be a hot fudge sundae, so N and I got one each and A got a cone of chocolate PB ice cream. The idea was that we would all share in the fun, that way the ice cream gets spread out a little and one person doesn't end up eating a ton of ice cream by themselves. At least that's how it works in theory. Plus, mom didn't want to eat a ton of ice cream, it's just not her thing. Since it was FD, Fore-U was giving away ice cream cones, and since we had a coupon, we ended up buying just one sundae. How cool is that?

We sat under the tent and watched the crowds enjoying their treats, then it was back home to relax for a few minutes, maybe even take a nap, before heading over to ultimate frisbee. The weather was perfect, it cooled down enough to make it bearable, and we had a good crowd of players and the teams were well balanced. It was a lot of fun, and we all got a good workout, enough to justify the thousands of calories that we consumed that day.

In the end, I didn't want to make a big deal about FD, but it turned into a fun and enjoyable day without too much planning while also getting some necessary things accomplished. Best of all, we got to hang out together and just enjoy each other's company, then work up a good sweat. I love when that happens.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Jeremy Hall for the pic.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Playing in the Band

A has been pretty dedicated with her electric guitar and has even playing in a band, which is an awesome experience for any kid. Not only is there the cool factor of being in a band, which anyone can appreciate, but it has really inspired her to practice more diligently and inspired her to venture into new and challenging musical arenas. She has an awesome guitar teacher but somehow being in a band highlights the need to practice and really learn to play various songs. Best of all, she's having fun with it.

Her band has played several concerts already in the area, and it's a lot of fun to see. Their roles in the band are not set in stone and they have the opportunity to try different things, so while she is the rhythm guitarist, she has also filled in as singer and on occasion has had to play lead, both of which she enjoys but finds intimidating. This is especially true when you're playing in front an audience of your peers.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Andres Horrilo for the pic.