Sunday, 27 May 2007 07:06 pm
...I was going to make this "local" filter, but I figure I might amuse the Usaian audience trying to figure out from context.

Eavestroughs. Cleaning. 20-foot ladder required, which we do not have nor want to borrow. Hire someone? Yes, but who? Any recommendations?

Before I started working at the University, we had them done by a guy who came door to door in April, who carted away half a dozen icky bags of sodden gunk. It's been a few years since they've been done now. We've got drippy eaves. Connected? I 'spect so.

I'll be darned if I'll call the company that spams on light-poles.


Sunday, 20 May 2007 11:55 pm
Today I:

slept in,
went to Quaker Meeting and Business Meeting, which was generally pretty good,
was formally asked to speak at the upcoming Non-Violence Festival in four weeks,
failed to return library books /or/ get good coffee, due to closedness downtown,
did yard-work,
finally met the lesbians from next door,
failed to get to the nursary to buy a few Clematises, though they're open tomorrow,
talked to [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball and we were in agreement that we wish he were coming home tomorrow instead of Tuesday,
treated myself to mango chicken from the around-the-corner chinese restaurant,
talked to my mother, and
had company till 11.

Hm, I think I'll go to bed now. Tomorrow, I'm planning to go in to work, to get stuff done where it's quiet, and because I'd like a vacation-day when dan's here.

Apologies for the flat delivery of this post. I'm sure I'd have more interesting things to say about the day if I were more awake. Speaking of which, I was going to bed... 'night!

Oh, and thanks for the birthday wishes. :)

(no subject)

Saturday, 12 May 2007 07:34 pm
The Victorious Hunters^W Gatherers Return from the Field... )

I had help testing out the Lee Valley high-pressure weed puller! It's quite a bit more fun than digging or levering out the dandelions, and I can safely say that the yard's watered now. In fact, I hope it isn't a muddy soup. It is creepy the number of feet underground that a stubby little one-flower dandelion will reach.
And unfortunately, there are still a LOT of dandelions in our yard. I think I did... 3/4ths of the back yard? Four hours work?


Thursday, 10 May 2007 10:49 pm
I was going to plant morning glories for the front trellis, but every single person who knows plants has said, "watch out, they will take over."

This evening, I talked to a gardener who repeated the line about taking over. They're annual, but unless I'm strict about picking up the flowers all spring (summer?), the seeds will germinate everywhere they can reach, the following spring.

"Oh oh," says I. The trellis is just on the edge of our lot, and the flowers would be planted in our neighbour's grass, and she's a bit particular about her grass. I know this because she was worried when I asked her if she minded me planting morning glories just at the edge. I promised her I'd investigate further before planting.

Jeanette, this evening, recommended Clematis. It's perennial and has pretty blue flowers. And doesn't muscle out the grass or require daily flower/seed cleanup.

...The tulips finally sprouted, but they seem to be a week or so behind everybody else's. Either we have worse soil, late bloomers, or everyone else is more gourmet with their plants' feedings and waterings and little Plant Waldorf School. I wonder if we can send ours for tutoring.


Wednesday, 9 May 2007 09:01 pm
Cleaning out a water-softener brine tank. If you don't own a house somewhere with hard water, you'll probably never have to worry about it. But I was looking in the tank (to see if it needed more salt) and realized there was some kind of gunk on the inside walls. And it hadn't been cleaned in six years at least. Hm.

So, yeah, the water in the brine tank doesn't circulate up into the rest of your house, it just flushes out the calcium and magnesium that collect on the polystyrene beads in the resin tank (which turn hard water into soft water). It's a nice closed system, it cleans itself (using the brine) every two weeks. But if there's crap in the brine tank, I'm thinking it's kind of gross.

The Book of Fixing Household Stuff said it should be cleaned regularly, but it didn't say how- and there were some fiddly pieces in the tank I didn't want to break. Googling pointed me at this advice on LJ, and I followed her lead, using a scrubber sponge and dish soap. And a LOT of rinsing, which is about as annoying as rinsing out a garbage can. But less icky.

The only icky part was at the beginning, when I discovered that (I think) the previous2 owners had added a nifty little riser into the brine tank, to separate the salt from the brine goo at the bottom. Lifting up this riser revealed... grey goo, mostly salt, and I decided the rest was minerals. For no real reason other than it would be too icky otherwise.

But everything washed off with no real problems, and I just ran the softener through a regeneration cycle and it didn't start making horrible noises or give any indication I broke it.


Saturday, 5 May 2007 10:09 am
Twice since winter I've gone to Home Hardware for key-duplication. Twice, they've been cut by people younger than me. Twice, they've not been done right: the first time, he forgot to buff it afterwards so it was paper-cuttingly sharp, and the second time she seems to have slightly offset the base of the key so it's unusable. *frowny*

Bring back the old key-cutters! They always got it right on the first try.

Minor Observations

Sunday, 29 April 2007 05:57 pm
The back yard hammock is so more enjoyable when the next-door neighbour isn't blasting guitar-rock. Thanks to whomever rang the doorbell and got him to turn it down. I'd assumed it was [livejournal.com profile] melted_snowball... but it wasn't.

Window washing always feels a bit pointless beforehand, and OMZG such an improvement when it's done. ...I vaguely wish I could get a frontal-lobe wipedown. I mean, I feel better when I get my schedule and todo items recorded and not cluttering my brain, I wonder what other cruft is knocking around up there.

The Globe and Mail's business magazine had a (mostly useless) article on learning to haggle in day-to-day life. I hate haggling, and I'd hate living in a culture that expects it for everyday activities. But this article did have a nifty side-bar explaining Quaker influence in reducing haggling in 1700s and 1800s Britain and New England. There was a short list of companies that succeeded through their Quaker "fair trading" business practices. I knew Lloyd's and Barclays, and Cadbury's, were all started by Quakers, but I hadn't known that R. H. Macy, of Macy's was also Quaker. Neat.

Finally: I wish I were in Boston on May 15th. xkcd@MIT! :)

seeds and bulbs

Monday, 2 April 2007 08:55 pm
Home Hardware rocks my socks. It's less annoying by far than Home Despot, and oh so friendly. On this evening's trip there we got out in under half an hour with:

  • brita filters on sale
  • pringles for d, also on sale
  • little custard cups with lids, to solve a little plastic-wrap-not-sealing-and-spilling-fish-sauce-in-the-fridge problem
  • a pyrex 1-cup measure
  • 9-v batteries
  • a packet of Morning Glory seeds
  • even-still-more-compact compact florescent bulbs
  • 1 gal. green paint to finish d's study
  • 40kg. water-softener salt.

  • I feel so domestic.


Monday, 2 April 2007 10:25 am
Sunday morning I went to Quaker Meeting, which was pretty good. There were a few messages about honouring those who have died and how to remember them, and I shared my story about Marion's Crocuses.

Rain. Lots of rain. We badly need to clean our eavestroughs (gutters, for you non-Canucks!) I suppose I'll look in the Yellow Pages, because I don't really feel like borrowing a 20-foot ladder and mucking them out myself (and I don't see d. doing so either). We skipped driving to Toronto for [livejournal.com profile] metalana's Clawfoot Swap Meet, because the amount of rain looked un-fun to drive in. Boo.

Sunday afternoon included fighting with our network connection, which wouldn't stay up for long and was flaky while it was up. The phone-line was noisy also, and I found the cause of that: dan's painting his study. He washed the wall with the phone-jack box (not built-in, but sitting on the wall). More water than I would have expected got into the jack, causing intermittent shorts. So I took it apart to dry, and the phone-line crackling stopped. Yeesh. Now that I think about it, I've gotten water into a phone jack before, and I suppose you just need to be careful washing around them. Or replace them with in-wall jacks...

But there was something else wrong with the DSL, because the network was still wonky until late evening... But I think it was packets dropping at our ISP's end, and it resolved itself around 11.

We had [livejournal.com profile] mtffm and [livejournal.com profile] the_infamous_j over for stuffed shells. They brought tasty cinnamon rolls, d. cooked up a storm, and he and j. made a German pancake for desert. Happy stomach, happy taste-buds, and overall happy. Oh, right. Twirl-a-squrrel. Go, watch.

EnerGuide Audit

Monday, 12 March 2007 10:16 am
Thanks to a heads-up last month by [livejournal.com profile] nobodyhere & [livejournal.com profile] psychedelicbike, this morning we got our house re-assessed by the local energy-audit services. This is the twilight days of the federal grant which reimburses homeowners for energy upgrades, and we squeaked in for a small (but worthwhile) cash savings.

Surprises: our old score (from the first assessment, four years ago) went down, due to a few evaluation criteria changes in the intervening four years. The old score went from 49 to 45, which worked to our advantage in terms of the grant: a tidy $378.00. That's actually more than I expected, because all we've done in the interim is insulating. In the balance, I guess I'm not surprised by our new EnerGuide score, which is... 50.

Oh, and according to them, our retrofits are estimated to reduce our energy needs by 13%, and reduce CO2 emissions by 1.5 tonnes per year. Go, us.

He recommended wall insulation in the basement (which continues to look prohibitively expensive, but he claims could save us 25-50% of our energy needs), caulking around the basement headers to reduce air leakage (which I suppose I could do myself, if slowly), a better seal on the attic-access door in our bedroom, outlet covers (the childproof kind) throughout the house to reduce air leaks, and lastly, replacing windows, as a lower priority item. I sort of take issue with their low priority for windows: their claim is that you don't see so much of an improvement replacing them; they will continue to radiate a fair bit of heat. He joked that they could rename their program "The don't bother replacing windows program." But in our case, I think we are leaking a lot of air around the windows, which are metal and slide horizontally. We can't add storms, we can't even easily put up the shrink-wrap stuff, due to the window design.

Still, their list of recommendations is shorter than it was the last time, since we've done all of the weatherstripping and insulating they recommended for the main and 2nd floor. And the house is warmer and less drafty than it was beforehand.

At the end I chatted with the assessor about their work. They've been around longer than the federal grant program, and they don't see their amount of work going down too much after the program ends. There will be a new grant program from the Conservatives, which should start up soon. From the looks of it, the new program will cost the consumer more at the outset, and get them a bigger grant afterward, so it's a shell-game that hurts people who can't lay out $300 upfront. Why is this a good idea? Only in that it improves the odds that people will sign up for the reassessments, I suppose.

...Now for this morning's second bit of fun, I'm waiting for Urban Wildlife to show up and (ideally) install a temporary Skunk Exclusion Barrier.

Weekend wrapup

Sunday, 18 February 2007 07:14 pm
Dan's sleeping now. He's spent the day in bed; more asleep than not. To me, it looks much like a bad flu, at least at this point. He came downstairs for some chicken soup, then he went right back up to bed. He has some fever, not dangerously high, thankfully.

I don't know how he'll be tomorrow morning, but I expect at least I'll come home for lunch. I so don't envy him right now; it's apparently quite itchy.

The other crop of non-sick-boyfriend stuff:

I investigated under the porch, and sure enough, there's a critter highway under there. Well, footprints, probably just one critter. I think the proper solution involves a roll of chicken-wire, but I want to be certain the critter's not in there at the time (it's impossible to see around the corner, because the space is only about 6 inches at the back). I'm probably going to shine a nice bright light under there for a night or two, to convince the skunk or whatever that it's not a good place to hang out; then, climb down there around Wednesday afternoon with some chicken-wire and a staple-gun.

The dripping from the ceiling is only in one location. For now. The roof will have to wait until spring. I'm pretty sure the problem's that we never cleaned the eavestroughs and downspouts, and it became solid ice pretty early in the season. Grr. I hope the ice doesn't damage our new roof.

I made a big pot of vegetarian chili, which I'm looking forward to eating in the next few days. Hope d's well enough to enjoy it too.

What a weekend!

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