Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Four Hundred Dollar Backsplash!

After doing the simple job of installing the five tiles as a nice little backsplash behind the deep sink vanity in the mudroom, I decided to do a quick search using with the keywords "antique dutch tiles". A bunch of images came up, and seeing a photograph including several similar tiles,  I was astonished to find they sell for between $60 and $120 a piece on the used market. As Michel Buble said recently, "Holy Shitballs"! I now have a four hundred dollar tile backsplash, according the the person who added the comment on my first post on these tiles!

I might add three more of these in a partial second row above the first, without having any duplicates show up, and then decide what to do with the rest. There are about eight more similar to these shown here, a half dozen in blue with flowers, and three larger scenes without the circles, as well as twenty blank ones. I think I might save the six blue ones when I redo the upstairs bathroom, and then sell off the rest. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Honeywell, Lennox, and Davies - Opinion Time!

Winter has arrived, the furnace is in, the house is warm, and Katherine is very happy! Now it's time to give my blatantly honest and unbiased opinion on the furnace, the thermostat, and the company that installed it all.

Honeywell Prestige THX900 Touch Screen Thermostat
(Click Here For Information - New Window Will Open)

Simply Phenomenal! This unit has power supplied from the furnace, so no batteries to replace, ever! It offers the homeowner a level of control that simply cannot be matched by any setback thermostat you can buy at a retailer such as Canadian Tire (including other Honeywell thermostats). It offers complete and ridiculously simple end user control over setback programming, overrides, vacation programs, furnace cycle rates, and many other facets of the furnace operation. As an example, the old setback thermostat permitted me to override the current program until the new program kicked in. This new thermostat allows me to override the current program until either the next program kicks in, or anytime before the next program, or anytime through the next program. around $500 (plus HST) as a complete system (thermostat, remote, outdoor air sensor) from an HVAC supplier, installed.

Lennox G61MPV Two Stage High Efficiency Furnace
(Click Here For Information - New Window Will Open)

Quietly Impressive: There are two reasons to drop four grand on a great furnace: Two stage burners, and an electronically commutated fan blower motor. When the furnace is called on for heat, the first stage fires up delivering 60,000 BTU, and is then monitored. If heat demand is being met, the first stage only continues to burn. When demand is not being met, the second stage fires, and the full 90,000 BTU's comes on line. When the call for morning and evening heat comes, the furnace typically moves to full two stage heating, as it is pulling the house up 5 degrees celsius. Once the house is at the set temperature, only the first stage typically fires to maintain it. The blower motor is very quiet compared to the old Carrier with AC blower. With the old furnace you could always tell it was running anywhere in the home, but with the new Lennox you have to be in the dining room or front foyer to hear it, otherwise you would not know it is running. Operating noise appears to have been cut in half. $3900 (plus HST, less varous rebates) for a straightforward installation by Dave Davies, available through any Lennox dealer.

Dave Davies Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration
(Click Here For Information - New Window Will Open)

Absolutely Outstanding: If you are looking to replace or install a new furnace, and you are located anywhere near Stratford Ontario, you only have to make one phone call: to Dave Davies. You could spend time phoning around and getting a few estimates like I did, but you really don't need to. I was quite satisfied with three of the companies I contacted about a new furnace, but Dave Davies was a full step ahead. They offered clear and effective answers to all my questions, a thorough knowledge of all rebate programs in place, a competetive price, and fast turnaround on an expert installation. Domenic and Ken know their stuff, and did an absolutely top notch job, including little things that I was being fussy over. Dave Davies was very straightforward, offering great advice. Wilma (office admin) and Shaun (who provided the thermostat) were also very good to deal with. I would be very hard pressed to find anyone as good, let alone better.

The Outdoor Air Sensor

I dropped by Dave Davies Air Condtioning, Heating and Refrigeration to pick up the final toy to fully finish the heating system installation at the Field House: the outdoor air sensor. This little device remotely relays the outdoor temperature and humidity for display on the thermostat, as seen in the photographs below:

Close up of the display including outdoor air temperature and humidity. This is an actual shot of my unit, and not from Honeywell... I know 17.5 is a bit cool, but I was just testing the unit in Celsius!

The remote unit mounted on the exterior brick chimney wall. I didn't want to drill a new hole, so I used an existing hole which a while back had an anchor for a cable to hold tree upright.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Boxes in Attics

For all the bad things I might say about other people who have either done things poorly, or failed to do things properly, on this nice old house, I do have to give credit where it is due. When we moved in ten years ago, I found an old empty chest, a painted crib, a steel bedframe, and a small box which had been left behind in the attic. The box contained a number of tiles, possibly salvaged from the main bathroom when it was gutted and overhauled some time in the 'seventies or 'eighties. The tiles were mostly white, however some of them were hand painted, with an obviously Dutch style, as in the photo below:

Kudos to whoever was smart enough to salvage and save these wonderful tiles! These will be used to make a small backsplash in the mudroom bathroom, and as luck would have it, they complement the paint colour Katherine chose for the walls quite nicely!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fixing Someone Else's Mistakes, Again

Just before the old furnace died in the spring, there was a substantial decrease in airflow from the shared vent serving Rudi's room and the guest bedroom. I thoroughly checked the ducting in the basement, could not find the problem, and then the furnace promptly quit. With the new furnace being installed and working perfectly, I began to look into the problem again. and found the problem, and a few other interesting things, including a live Loomex electrical cable that had been pulled up alongside the old heating vent, and run along the heated space to an electrical outlet close by!

Above Left: The floor opening located nearly directly above the first floor wall. The two grey pipes are the hot and cold supply lines for the hot water heating system installed sometime in the 'thirties possibly. The heat from the forced air furnace is directed up the wall - the black space, to the right under the floor, and then up a bit into the heating vent located at the gap in the baseboard.

Above Right: A closer view down the wall cavity, revealing another interesting thing. The round tube standing in the wall cavity must have been installed before the hot water supply pipes, meaning it is original to the construction of the house in 1888. From that time until the oil hot water system was put in place, the second floor was heated by this 'gravity' heating sysstem, with one feed serving two bedrooms at the front of the house, and another  feed serving two bedrooms at the back of the house.

When the house was converted to forced air natural gas heating in 1987, a 6" diameter flexible conduit duct was pulled up inside the original 8" diameter carbon steel duct, placed below the old water supply pipes, and then simply left in the space between the joists pointing toward the outlet vents. Over the years, the conduit must have popped out of place, slipped back into the vertical duct, and then simply blasted hot air against the floor and into the joist space running the length of the room, with a consequent significant reduction of airflow from the vents.

Above Left: The old cast iron hot and cold pipes are cut and removed, and the original 8" diameter duct has been pulled out. The reciprocating saw with metal cutting blade chewed through the pipes in under 5 seconds each. The circular saw was used to cut the floorboards, and the flashlight required to see down the inside of the wall.

Above Right: A  view down the wall cavity with the original duct removed. The two wooden studs are the left and right wall studs, making the wall about 10 inches wide. Unfortunately, the gap between the two is open to the inside surface of the exterior double brick wall, a probable significant source of heat loss, as all of the cold from the inside surface of the much of the front wall can pass into the house through this gap.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Water Water Everywhere - Part One

It is pretty much an understatement that the Field House has a grading problem in the backyard, as evidenced by this photo I took recently, after a few consecutive days of off and on light rain. It doesn't help that the entire village is situated on extremely poorly drained clay which sits directly on top of an Artesian condition aquifer, which prevents the clay from ever draining.

The problem is compounded by an old artesian well, which leaks now more than it ever did in the past. Howver I just can't fathom why all of the previous owners of the house chose to do nothing about this. It seems to have been at least a minor issue for, say, about 120 years now!

The water depth mostly ranges from 4 to 6 inches, and perhaps 8 inches at the deepest, so I could grade the property for a few thousand dollars worth of fill, topsoil, and equipment use. But I have a better idea, which I will begin work on over the winter, and complete sometime early next summer.

Hot Dang! If it weren't so flat, you'd think we were in the Ozarks! Believe it or not, in some seasons and directions, parts of the backyard actually look quite nice!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The New Furnace Arrives

Ken and Domenic from Dave Davies Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration installed a beautiful Lennox Elite Series G-61-V Two Stage variable DC fan 90,000 BTU high effieciency Energy Star rated furnace on Wednesday. Here Ken is illustrating the Ontario Workplace Health and Safety Board approved method of conducting the initial tests of the new unit, which is said to reduce lower back injuries by a significant margin. Note these newer furnaces are much more compact and closer to the ground than the older models they are replacing!

I inquired about the very fancy Honeywell Prestige thermostat, just to see if it was worth considering. It was an additional $350 on top of the furnace which had a standard thermostat included. Since I was the only one who had ever even asked about one, and Dave's son had just pulled one out of his own house in favour of a newer model that chatted with his iPhone, they provided me his at no additional charge. Sweet! I will thoroughly test this state of the art thermostat over the next few weeks, then offer my opinions.

The thermostat comes with a remote control, which allows you to access basic functions from anywhere in the house.

A close up view of the new unit, with new inlet and exhaust piping, and minor plenum modifications to fit the smaller size unit. The Space-Guard air filter was kept, as it is in essentially pristine condition, apart from some cosmetic rusting on the back of the unit.

And for the final verdict:
Total estimate price (furnace, installation, condensate pump, new inlet and exhaust, plenum mods, and basic Honeywell thermostat): $3900 + HST = $4407.
Total actual price (furnace, installation, condensate pump, new inlet and exhaust, plenum mods, relocation of furnace switch, and Honeywell Prestige thermostat): $3900 + HST = $4407.

Three other local companies provided similar estimates at $3700 (plus thermostat), $4000, and $4450, all prices plus HST. And no, even though you see high efficiency gas furnaces advertised as low as the high teens and low two thousands, those prices are inclusive of all potential rebates, and are generally for made in china single stage ac fan furnaces, which barely meet 90% AFUE standards. If you want a manufactured in North America two stage furnace, with variable speed DC motor, EnergyStar rated, the going rate is around $4000 plus HST.

Additionally, the installation qualifies for an OPG rebate of $125, a manufacturers rebate of $150, and the province's eco-energy rebates of $650 will also apply (less the net cost of $325 for the testing) so the final price will be $3807

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cheap and Cheerful Heat Loss Calculation, And The Winner Is:

After reviewing the rather complex calculations for determining heat loss, which involve converting heat content of a cubic metre of natural gas to mJ/hour, then to kW, and back to BTU's, I decided if I can find the heat content in BTU of one cubic metre of natural gas, I can simplify the calculation considerably. From a variety of sources, natural gas has a heat content of 36,000 BTU / m3:

Take your total gas consumed for a four month period from November to February, multiply by your furnaces efficiency rating (GFUE%) and divide the volume by 2880 (120 days by 24 hours)

Multiply this by a factor of 2.4, which compensates for actual average HDD for the period to maximum HDD assuming a coldest day of -35 (I used 6360 design HDD for the period - 120 days at 53 HDD per day, versus 2680 actual average HDD from Environment Canada)

Finally, multiply this by 36,000, the approximate BTU energy contained in 1 m3 of natural gas, and the result is the appropriate sized furnace for your house (one that will work non-stop when the outside temp is -35 Celsius):

2490m3 * 0.92% / 2880 HDD * 2.4 HDD * 36000 BTU/m3 = 68,724 BTU

So it looks like the furnace of choice will be 90,000 BTU, oversized just enough to fill demand on the few days that may drop below the -35 design temperature, and if down the road we wish to heat the sunroom in the winter, among other things.

It seems the winner is Dave Davies from Stratford, who (seem to at least) have a fair and reasonable price strategy, a no nonsense approach to installations (they always install a condensate pump to a drain, rather than a hose on the floor). The furnace will be an Elite Series Lennox G61V High efficiency, two-stage with variable speed DC blower motor. Not particularly pretty, but hey, it's a furnace. And with a stroke of good luck, they will be installing a Honeywell Prestige HD 7-day fully programmable setback thermostat, with remote control.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Late Update - Festival City Run

Having long completed the 7th Annual Festival City 10k Run in support of the Stratford General Hospital Foundation, I figured it was time to fess up and post my less than stellar results!

My parents arrived for the weekend, and since Katherine had decided not to run this year, I headed out with Roger (dad) and Alexander (my co-pilot) on a cold Sunday morning. I hadn't gotten as much training as I would have liked in, but enough to comfortably finish in the 50 something minute range without having to stop at all (at least I hoped!)

I finished in 53:34, having decided to do a slow start close to the back, which always costs about a minute at most. 26th place out of 40 in the 40 - 49 men's age group, and 164th out of 350 total finishers. Believe it or not, that was the slowest I have ever completed a 10k in, though I have only done a half dozen now. I raised $230 for the Foundation, so all in all, not a completely abysmal showing!

Alexander entertained the other runners by chatting them up a bit, and doing his part, with morale boosting stretches from his comfy and cozy position ahead of me in the stroller! Thanks to everyone who made a donation!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Geothermal? Unfortunately Not An Economical Idea!

There is lots of talk recently about going 'Geothermal', with many new homes, and older houses retrofit with so-called 'geothermal' or 'earth energy systems'. Basically they are a ground source heat pump, and use a closed coolant loop to extract the heat stored in the earth (usually 8 deg C around here) which is then delivered to heat the house, and returned to the buried loop to heat up again, and continue the cycle. These installations are costly, upwards of $20,000 to $30,000 or more, require large excavations or deep wells to run the coolant lines in, but do eliminate the reliance on fossil fuels.

I went to the Nextenergy site, which has a nifty little savings calculator, which tells me I currently spend $3350 on natural gas. If I convert to an earth energy system, my heating costs would be $2260, a one-third savings over my present heating costs.

NextEnergy Savings Calculator

Size: 2900 sf
Building Age: 41+ years
Number of storeys: 2
Insulation: Loose
Province:  Ontario
City:  Stratford
Current Heating System:  Natural gas high efficiency condensing
Energy rates incl. storate and delivery: 0.41$/m3

The problem is, last year I only spent $1730 on natural gas, and if you take away the $17 'monthly charge' and 5% for domestic hot water, that leaves about $1450 as the cost for natural gas for heating, roughly 40% of the amount that the calculator estimated.

It would be safe to assume the savings calculated by the NextEnergy site are a percentage, rather than an actual dollar cost. Going this route, I could resonably expect my home heating bill to drop by one-third, roughly $475 per year. Divide the savings into an 'after rebate' cost of installation of an earth energy system of roughly $17,500 (a pretty low estimate actually), leaves a break even period of 37 years! It will be the year 2047, and I will be 79 years old when the installation finally pays for itself.

Something tells me that a roughly 40 year break even is not a very good return on investment, as the entire system would probably have to be replaced, essentially meaning there would be absolutely no break even point. Further to that, a significant portion of electricity in Ontario is still derived from burning fossil fuels, so running an earth energy system is not guaranteed to reduce my 'carbon footprint'.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Furnace Sizing: Heat Loss Calculations

Since I am of the opinion that our broken down hunk of junk furnace is grossly oversized for the heating requirements of the house, I decided to do a heat loss calculation to do things properly. The existing furnace is a 130,000 BTU 92% efficiency, which I really think is in the order of half again too big, and that something like 90,000 BTU should have no issues keeping the house warm.

I found the CMHC website which has a fantastic article on replacing a furnace, including a detailed method of doing a heat loss calculation based on your fuel bills.

The only other information needed is data on heating degree days for the period you are planning to calculate, which are available at these two sites. The first link will have you search for a local weather station, and provides historical 30 year averages for the station selected. The second link provides a Canada wide average for each of the last ten years. Specific HDD values vary by location, and you should try to get both localized data, and compare this with the Canadian data, especially if you live in places that are warmer (Victoria BC) or colder (Fort McMurray AB) than the Canadian average.

Looking at our Union Gas bill covering November 2008 through February 2009 (actual consumption from Oct 21 2008 to Feb 17 2009), I then simply cut and paste the calculation portion of the text from the CMHC site, and went through adding my own numbers below:

Total gas consumption from December to March = 2620 m3

Estimating 5% of gas is used for hot water, gas consumption during the period for heating = 2620 * 0.95 = 2490 m3

Heating degree days for that period (from Environment Canada) = 2680 HDD

Heating consumption by degree day = 2490 m3/ 2680 HDD = 0.929 m3/HDD

Heating consumption (difference of -35 coldest, from 18 ambient) at 53 HDD/day = (53 HDD/day)(0.929 m3/HDD) = 49.2 m3/day

Where gas has an energy content of 37.5 MJ/m3, and the existing furnace has an efficiency of 92 per cent, then:

Heat loss at 53 HDD/day = (49.2 m3/day) (37.5 MJ/m3)(0.92) = 1697 MJ/day or (divide by 24) 70.7 MJ/h

According to the energy content of electricity, 3.6 MJ/h = 1 kW, then 70.7 MJ/h = 19.6 kW

This heat loss would require a furnace that produces an output of 19.6 kW or about 66,900 Btu/h (1 kW is approximately 3,412 Btu/h).

If we allow the CAN/CSA F280 permissible oversizing of 40 per cent, then the proper furnace sizing would be (1.4)(20,100 Btu/h) = approximately 93700 Btu/h.

The determination of the correct furnace size for a house is NOT an exact science. Ideally the furnace size that is most efficient for any house is the size that effectivly runs close to 'flat out' only on the absolute coldest day of the year. If it is too small, it will not be able to keep the house warm enough, and if too large, it has an easy time heating during extreme cold, and becomes less efficient in mild weather.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Heating System - Time to Replace The Furnace!

A while back the furnace decided to stop functioning, thankfully timing it's failure in early April, so we didn't have to run out and buy a replacement. Two of those nice oil filled radiators, a spiffy quartz heater, and a reclaimed 1500 watt convection heater did the trick to keep the house warm enough til summer arrived. Now winter is coming up, and I am making the final decision on what to install! It turns out even though the Feds canned the Eco-Energy rebate program without warning (vote conservative if you like being screwed - thanks Steve!), the Provincial government has kept their grants in place, so I have an 'Eco-Energy Audit' scheduled for this week, and next week the new furnace should go in.

Interestingly, the existing furnace is (was) a Carrier Weathermaker SX high efficiency condensing gas furnace (92% AFUE) with a whopping 122,000 BTU output. I know enough about furnaces (which is just enough) to realize that 122 k BTU is huge, and considering that even on the coldest days the beast could pull the house up from its setback of 60 deg F to 69 deg F within an hour, and then maintain that running 20 minutes every hour, it seems there was no lack of capacity!

The owner of one of the companies I contacted laughed, and said 120 thou was fine for some of the larger older homes in Stratford, like the 5 and 6 bed mansions that run 5000 square feet or more, but the Field House is 2900 sf, plus 400 sf of sunroom and mudroom, which we tend to restrict the heat to in the winter. He suggested 90,000 BTU as he has installed that size in a number of similar size and age homes with great results. The previous owners of the house left the mudroom and sunroom doors open all year, and if they heated the place to the low 'seventies, the furnace may have got the occasional solid workout!

It looks like a choice between Ida Red Apples and Ida Red Apples, as I mull over the inconsequential differences between a Ruud high efficiency (95%) two stage burner condensing gas furnace with variable speed DC blower fan motor, and a Lennox high efficiency (95%) two stage burner condensing gas furnace with variable speed DC blower fan motor, either of which will set me back around $4000, less roughly $450 in net rebates after the audit is paid for.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Compact Fluorescents Lightbulbs - The Devil's Handiwork

So you think you are doing the environment a favour by replacing all your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFL's)? Well you aren't really, and there are a few reasons why. CFL's are significantly more costly to produce in terms of raw materials used, including glass, metal, and plastics: If you don't believe me, put one on a scale, then weigh a standard incandescent bulbs. I have found that they don't acheive anywhere near the life expectancy advertised, and seem to last typically only two to three times longer than incandescent, yet cost roughly ten times as much. Then there is the question of radiation emmissions, and harmful levels of mercury contained in them. I can't believe David Suziki ever promoted the damn things, because they are basically dangerous, toxic, resource hogs when initially manufactured, and on top of all that, really don't save all that much energy.

Now for the CFL killer. I just found at Home Hardware a standard medium base (the normal screw in type) LED lightbulb, for a whopping $9.49. But the kicker is it's consumption of raw materials is not much more than that of an incandescent (probably better as there is no glass), it's rated life approximately 15,000 hours (approx 15 years), and it's power consumption of an absolutely miniscule 1.5 watts. for equivalent to 40 watt output! That's roughly one-sixth the energy of  a CFL, and less that 5% of the energy used by an incandescant! And no mercury. So there!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Insurance Rates Gone Crazy

Earlier this summer I opened our automobile insurance renewal notice, and was a bit surprised that our rate for two vehicles had climbed from $2400 to $3600 annually. More interesting was that my portion for the Freestar van had almost doubled from $1100 to $2100, and Katherine's portion for the Echo had increased from $1300 to $1500 (all figures rounded somwhat). Seems there were no changes in our rating (claims, experience, tickets, etc) so no real justification for the increase, I was simply told that those are the numbers coming back from Aviva (our insurance provider). I was informed that my three minor convictions (speeding) were probably a factor in my new rate, but how does that explain my previous rate of $1050, as these tickets are now over 2 years old, and were on my rating the previous year!

In any event, shopping around was interesting, as I found annual premiums between $1900 and $3300 from four companies, and selected Meloche Monnex/TD, at an annual cost of $2200 ($1050 for me and the van, and $1150 for K and the Echo) for the same coverage as we had with Aviva! Now I just have to wait for the $900 refund payment from Aviva, as they have been busy processing payments on a cancelled policy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

From Flabby to Fifty Minute 10K Athlete in Fifteen Runs or Less!

It's that time of year again for the 7th Annual Festival City 10k Run in support of the Stratford General Hospital Foundation! To all of those who supported us last year thank you very much, and we hope you will be generous enough to do so again this year!

As for the title of this post, I am not entirely flabby, though I haven't run at all this year, except for two initial training runs about 2km and 3km respectively. The goal this year is to break 50 minutes while pushing Alexander in the stroller, thank goodness for super low friction bearing grease for the running stroller wheels! And yes, I only have fifteen runs in which to get my training done, as the run is scheduled for the 3rd of October this year.

We would like to raise at least $300, so I will be asking you for your support via phone and/or email this week. Please consider supporting the hospital that brought you the likes of Alexander Vlossak Chiles, and Andrew 'Rudi' Vlossak Chiles, as without our fine hospital in Stratford, we would have had to go to Kitchener to have our kids delivered! Ouch!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Mudroom Bathroom

A few years ago I decided to gut and refinish the mudroom bathroom, the decision precipitated by the water pipes freezing and bursting behind the shower stall. This small bathroom was poorly finished, poorly heated, and only adequately insulated, and without an effective reconstruction was only going to have further problems.

The mudroom is a rebuilt addition to a small back entrance probably originally built in the 'twenties, then destroyed by fire and rebult in the 'eighties. Just a standard framed and vinyl sided structure on stone foundation. It has an entryway with a closet, as well as a small 3 piece bathroom.

The deficiencies included a shower that was build 'proud' of the finished wall, so that the water supply was located on the 'warm side' of the wall (little good that did); a flexible heating conduit that led to the mudroom entryway via the unheated/uninsulated portion of the attic (not smart when the attic can drop to -25 celsius!), no heating outlet in the bathroom itself; and among other things, a poorly located toilet that stood 5 inches from the wall.

I began by removing the shower and ripping down the drywall from the ceiling and two of the walls (the wall against the house, and the wall that the toilet and shower backed onto) to find out what I was up against. The soloution was fairly simply: Add a second framed and insulated wall to bring the wall flush to the shower; add additional high R-value froam insulation behind the shower to protect the pipes from freezing; divert the heating conduit down the inside wall of the mudroom, with two vents, one in the bathroom, the other in the mudroom. On top of all that, I decided also to drop the ceiling 2 inches and add styrospan insulation, add a pot light over the shower, add a new vanity light and ceiling drop light, build in some storage, and then trim out both the shower and the built in shelves in period style trim.

This wall backs against the brick wall of the house, the heating conduit now comes down the wall, with a vent in both the bathroom (pictured) and the entryway. Space for the built in shelves is accommodated by the chimney of the main house which is located directly behind the vanity light!

A view from the mudroom entryway. The shower and toilet were in good shape, so were re-used.

A close up of the trim around the shower. By adding the second wall on top of the first, the shower stall now fits flush to the new wall - giving a much neater, professional appearance!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fruit Fly Trap

Perhaps it is only century homes that enjoy hosting fruit flies when peaches are brought home, but I tell you, the little buggers piss me right off! So Katherine says "why not make a fruit fly trap like your dad?". Now that does it: knowing my dad, his device is simple, can be made within a few minutes with items guaranteed found in the average home, and highly effective... It only happens that whatever the device is has taken him countless prototypes to acheive perfection in simplicity and design. So here it is: One 'Mason' jar with screw ring, but no top, and a coffee filter cut to size, with a couple of one millimetre diameter holes in it. Fill said container with 'bait', place filter on top, and screw down ring only to secure! Works like a charm!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mmmmmm Good Eats!

Some recent produce picked from the 48 square foot Field House Organic Vegetable Garden!

'Yellow Peach' Tomatoes - As the name implies, yellow, and fuzzy like a peach!

'Chocolate Cherry' Tomatoes - Well they look adorable, taste great, yet don't taste anything at all like chocolate!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Our Furry Flying Friends

Personally, I think our dozen or so attic guests are rather adorable, and quite useful at keeping the local bug population down in the garden. Not particularly playful however, and they snarl viciously if cornered the odd time they get lost and must be captured. A typical "Little Brown Bat" residing in our attic, the white part and two black lines are old knob and tube wiring.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Typical Containment Device for 'Peanut Sized Brain' Poodles

Before and after photographs of a standard containment device for poodles and other seemingly brainless canines, of which ours is a classic example. Without the gate, our wonderful but incredibly dumb dog would chase down pretty much everything that happens by on the sidewalk, most probably resulting in substantial tort-action induced consequences from fiscally motivated practitioners of law!

The old gate was poorly constructed, lacking the critcal diagonal brace, with just a set of two inch 'L brackets' and the pathetic lattice trying to keep it in square for the last decade, with obviously deficient results! The new one is properly constructed, with the required diagonal brace, and will probably stay square for at least a few years after my death.

BEFORE: Not so good gate

AFTER: Really good gate

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Love My Trees But... is absolutely impossible to get a half decent photograph of the house, which is a darn shame in my opinion. These are from two summers ago (for the benefit of a long ago friend from BC who found me on Facebook, and might visit the blog) and illustrate the drawbacks of having six mammoth Norway Spruce in front of the house, in addition to others all around.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hosta La Vista - Year Five

Five years after initially preparing and beginning planting, I am finally satisfied with the overall effect and appearance of the rear garden, aptly named 'Hosta La Vista'. There are still minor adjustments to be made, but right now there are close to 90 Hosta's in this bed, virtually all mature and 'massed up' properly, as well as plenty of daylillies as a backdrop against the fence. I have now completely forgotten what was against this fence when we moved in.