Friday, December 31, 2010

Minor Setback

Today didn't happen as planned and the bedroom remodel is a few hours behind schedule.

Yesterday was cloudy so in the evening I was running the generator when I heard it stop unexpectedly. The error indicated low voltage which caused me to suspect low propane pressure. I checked the propane tanks and both were empty.

I knew we were using far more propane than usual and I had checked the supply by looking at the indicator to determine which task was being used. The indicator was set on the first tank which should have meant the second tank was full. Not so. It appears the regulator is malfunctioning. The indicator did not switch properly.

Fortunately, we have a small 20 pounds cylinder that was almost half full. I connected it to the system until we could get the two 100 pounds cylinders filled today, new year's eve. We drove to town this morning hoping for a quick trip.

The first place was closed, the second had a frozen pump and an employee told me of a third business with a frozen pump. We phoned two other places -- closed. We called U-Haul and learned they were open but propane cost 64 cents more per gallon than the place I normally use. We drove to their location but left without propane. A young woman about 19 years old said she couldn't fill the cylinders because I had them lying on their sides and the value may be hung even if I stood them up. The cylinders don't have OPD valves but I didn't argue with her. She is an employee following the instructions given her.

By this time it was getting close to noon so Julie and I stopped for lunch. As we drove to a restaurant we passed a tool rental place that I've been by many times and entered a few times to buy parts. I noticed a large propane tank that had escaped my attention in the past. After lunch we went to the rental business and had the tanks filled.

We got home late in the day and I cut trim for a window while Julie put another coat of paint on jambs and crown molding. Also, I tested a solution to fix the low spot in the floor.

Tomorrow we paint the walls and install the flooring -- barring another necessary but unexpected trip to town.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


The house is in shambles, disorganized, cluttered and dusty. Julie vacuums daily, generally more than once, but she can't keep up with the dust we're creating. A large part of the clutter is my tools. We have baseboard, casing and crown molding on one side of the hallway awaiting another coat of paint before installation. New flooring is stacked in the utility room and our bedroom furniture is stashed in other rooms.

I have more tolerance for dust than Julie but neither of us has much tolerance for clutter and disorganization. We're working fast to finish the bedroom renovation and get things cleaned and returned to their proper places.

Today we planned on texturing the walls with hopes of finishing the task by noon. It didn't happen. I have a texturing roller that has vanished. We searched twice and accepted our fate: a trip to town to purchase a roller. By the end of the day the trip was behind us and walls were textured.

Tomorrow we put another coat of paint on the trim, paint the walls and fix one problem with the floor, a problem that we didn't know existed before the carpet was removed. About eighteen inches from the east wall the floor slopes. It appears two adjacent joists are bowed in opposite directions which makes the problem seem worse than it is. It's nothing serious, just a slight cosmetic flaw that I hope to fix before installing the new flooring.

Two or three days of dust and clutter before our world returns to it's orderly state. Anticipation!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This Day

This day began with blue skies and sunshine, a welcome change. Over the last two weeks we've had more continuous cloudy weather than we've seen in the last six years. We've had to run the generator daily to recharge the batteries and we've had to build fires each night to keep the house warm. Last week the forecast for two days was "sunny" but the sun never appeared.

But this day was different. By noon the sun room was 80 degrees and blossoms on tomato plants in the utility room were fully open and shining bright yellow. The batteries filled easily and the generator wasn't needed.

This day saw good progress on the renovation of our bedroom. On Christmas day as we hiked in the Grand Canyon Julie proposed we leave the completion of the kitchen for another week or two and use our week off work to start and complete the bedroom.

We removed the carpet and removed two closet doors and some wall to install a six feet wide bi-fold door. We're in the process of refinishing the walls and installing the closet door. The next steps are to replace the door between the bedroom and hallway and install new flooring. We're on schedule to be finished by Friday.

This day we worked, enjoyed a walk in the sun and finished the last episode of The Forsyte Saga. This day was a good day.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I am in my sixty-fifth year and have been for a few days.

To celebrate the beginning Julie and I did something we haven't done in a while -- geocaching. The cache closest to our house is less than four miles. It's a volcanic protrusion over 50 feet tall. We drove close and walked to the outcropping and explored around it.

Volcanic protrusion. Volcanic protrusion over 50 feet tall.

Home in the distance. Home is to the left of the hills.

Julie. Julie said "let me take your first picture of the year". I did and replied "let me take yours". I like her photo much better!

The morning of my birthday Julie gave me two small books as gifts . The first book is on the subject of designing chicken houses but it's the second book that I found so entertaining. The book is Recipe for Raising Chickens by Minnie Rose Lovgreen. Mrs. Lovgreen was born in 1888 in Norfolk County, England, left home at age 11 and later booked passage on the Titanic to immigrate to Canada. She took another ship and made a safe voyage to Montreal. A few months before she died in 1975 she published her book.

I found the book entertaining due to her personality that comes through in quaint sayings, homey perspectives and brief anecdotes. It's not a masterpiece of literature but it's a small (31 pages) pleasant glimpse into another time.

Julie made sure my sixty-fifth year began right.

Chirstmas Hike

This year rather than exchanging gifts Julie and I planned shared time and memories for Christmas.

Christmas day was planned as breakfast, phone calls to/from family, a hike in the Grand Canyon (Grandview trail to Horseshoe Mesa) and supper in El Tovar lodge.

A late start caused us to alter our plans. The Grandview Trail is a little over 6 miles round trip including 2,600 feet elevation change between the trailhead and the mesa. There wasn't enough time to explore and enjoy the trip. We opted for a loop: parking area to Shoshone Point, along the rim to Yaki Point, down two roads back to the car.

Grand Canyon. View of the Grand Canyon from the south rim between Shoshone Point and Yaki Point.

Our plans for supper in the El Tovar changed also. Earlier in the week we phoned for reservations and learned the earliest available was 9:30 PM. We chose the Bright Angel lodge where reservations weren't needed.

It was a good day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Rainy Memories

Julie posed a question as we drove toward California. "When was the last time we took a trip that wasn't family related?" My first thought was the trip last February to Guadalupe Canyon in Baja. Then I remembered scuba diving in San Carlos, Mexico, in June. And, there was an overnight motorcycle trip to Show Low in October. Regardless, we felt a need to take a break from work and enjoy some leisure time.

A few weeks ago we made reservations at an inn in Palm Springs. Our intentions were to read, hike and swim under sunny skies. Last weekend the weather wasn't promising. We phoned the inn and considered changing our reservations to next week but decided a little rain would be enjoyable. Palm Springs gets only three inches of rain per year so a few minutes of rain would be fine.

Upon arrival as we drove through Palm Springs we had to turn back and find another route. The road was flooded and closed. We found the inn, checked in, had a glass of wine and talked with the owner. It was raining lightly but there were two couples in the large hot tub. We joined them and enjoyed the conversation and the cool rain on our faces.

The next morning we returned to the tub in the rain, had breakfast in a covered area out of the rain, jumped in the swimming pool and swam in the rain. Later we drove though rain to find a used book store where Julie bought two books. After lunch we drove though more rain to find a nature preserve where we walked in rain from one palm grove to another grove surrounding a pond. It rained the entire time, a slow constant rain.

One morning I was floating on my back in the pool with just my face out of the water. The muffled sounds of raindrops filled my ears and cold drops stung my face and eyes. It was wonderful.

We never saw the sun and it never stopped raining. When we left we drove through flooded intersections.

It was a wet, fun, memorable trip.

Wet boardwalk. Julie leads the way across a wet boardwalk.

McCallum Grove. Nearing McCallum Grove.

McCallum Pond. McCallum Pond.

Julie in front of a large palm tree. Julie in front of a large palm tree.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I have a permit for the Grand Canyon in March or April!

I haven't received the permit as yet but Julie checked the credit card and saw a charge by the National Park Service. It's in mail.

I applied for four nights (March 14-18) with second and third choices in early to mid-April. Next I checked the box that requests any dates between March 14 and April 11 if choices 1-3 are unavailable. I probably got our first choice.

Below are two photos (courtesy of the NPS) of our destination.

Colorado River at Nankoweap. Colorado River at Nankoweap.

Granaries at Nankoweap. Granaries at Nankoweap.

From the NPS description of the Nankoweap Trail: "This trail is classified as MOST difficult of the named trails in Grand Canyon. It has the largest total rim-to-river drop (5640 ft / 1735 m) and is one of the longest trails." Translated this means "solitude, beauty, memories, reverence, rejuvenation".

Another adventure in paradise!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Back on an early morning in the first week of July I tried jogging. My left knee swelled up and became painful. This wasn't unexpected. It happens every few years.

I waited a few weeks until it healed and tried jogging again. This time the right knee swelled slightly and became tender. At this time I got the message. "Don't jog. Ever again. Or else!"

In October during a backpacking trip I was in the lead. We were just a few miles from the trailhead and had to climb a hill named "KA Hill", descend the other side and cross a small stream. I set a fast pace just to see if I could do it. Todd didn't complain so tempted cardiac arrest and pushed to the top of the hill over uneven ground littered with smalls stones that required uneven steps and twisting the foot left or right to avoid objects.

I've wondered what "KA" represents and I think I know because it kicked mine. A few days later both knees hurt and my left knee swelled. I tried my usual form of medical care -- ignore it -- but it didn't help. After about six weeks with no improvement I tried a second form of medical care -- consult the web oracle. I found a few exercises designed to strengthen leg muscles that support the knee. I began these exercises knowing they are a long term solution. At the same time I tried another fix.

A short time ago Julie and I bought a stationary bicycle since aerobic exercise in the winter is more difficult due to the short hours of daylight. I tried riding for 10 minutes at a relatively fast pace while ignoring my knee's complaints. The next morning my knee felt much better. Coincidence or cause/effect? The next night I rode for 30 minutes. Same results!

My left knee remains slightly swelled and tender but is much better. My right knee feels normal.

Julie and I have bicycles but mine isn't appropriately sized. I've thought about replacing the handlebars or the front stem to raise my posture. Now I'm considering replacing the bicycle.

I like this unexpected solution.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Time to Go Shopping

Julie found an article that I consider fascinating: "Can Plants Improve Indoor Air Quality?". The answer is yes!

Plants can remove chemical pollution and dust as well as control biological pollution and humidity.

The last time I counted we had 105 plants in the house. We've given a few as gifts but we've acquired a few new ones so the count remains about 100. The article mentions that some plants that are good at removing specific chemicals such as formaldehyde or benzene but it lists the top 20 plants that are generally good at removing many hazards.

Among the top plants to improve air quality are three palms (areca, lady, and bamboo palms) and the rubber plant. We have none of these. Looks like it's time to got shopping -- after determining how large these plants grow, water needs, sunlight requirements, etc.

Another option is to move to a tropical climate and live in an open-air structure. That's sounds like another good idea.

First Weekend in December

I'm back to work after a weekend of work.
  • Hauled four loads of water and filled the cistern to within 50 gallons of full.
  • Cut one load of firewood. I have enough for the winter but would like to get one more load. I have a permit that is good through December 12.
  • Installed the last piece of counter top. The piece was damaged in shipping and reordered. The new piece did not align properly with it's mate so a chisel and few minutes of time were required to fix the problem.
  • Reversed the refrigerator doors, finished reversing some cabinet doors, adjusted door alignment and installed the last of the knobs and drawer pulls. I built two jigs to install the hardware. I have no need for the jigs in the future but I think I'll save them.
  • Built a small cabinet to hold a cell phone and hide the antenna cable and power cord.
Misaligned Counter Top. Misaligned counter top. I used a chisel on each piece of counter top to align the slots for the clamp.

Cabinet hardware. Cabinet Hardware. Jigs made installation simple and fast.

Cell Phone Station. Cell Phone Station. An antenna on the roof is connected by a cable to the top of the cell phone. Without an antenna we wouldn't have phone service. The cable is hidden by the upper cabinet. The power cord is hidden behind the small cell phone cabinet. The cell phone connects to the silver box above the fire extinguisher via bluetooth. The power cord and phone cord for the silver box are hidden by the refrigerator. We use standard house phones to make and receive calls through the cell phone. We need to be able to see the lights on the silver box (Dock-N-Talk) to know that the cell phone and Dock-N-Talk are mated by bluetooth.