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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Grafton Peace Pagoda Flower Festival

Celebrating the birth of Buddha...

I attended the Flower Festival hosted by Jun Yasuda this morning at the Grafton Peace Pagoda. A beautiful traditional Buddhist ceremony in the temple replete with chanting, drums, symbols, and Dharma talks was followed by anti-nuclear power plant messages, singing, and Irish step dancing.  Attendees then lunched and roamed the gorgeous grounds.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bear Tracks

I took a walk this evening around our "under construction" raised bed septic system. The excavator has some top soil set aside for the final layer. Part of it he had already smoothed out, providing a perfect media for black bear track molds.

The whistle's a Fox 40 Classic -- 115 dB of black bear eardrum shattering sound waves. Kind of like your nature St. Christopher's medal.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Animals Feasting Under Your Car

Red Squirrel
A friend of mine, who lives a bit north of the Plateau in a rather rural area, just had $1,000 of repair work to the wiring of his car due to a hungry groundhog he had been noticing in the vicinity of his car. The car repairman also noted teeth marks in nuts and bolts.

Great!  I guess a garage moves up a notch on our house "wish list."  Meanwhile, I've been hunting down prevention tactics.

I came across this blog entry: How To Keep Animals From Eating Your Car.  The strobe light idea sounds logical. I have an emergency strobe light in my car emergency kit that runs off the 12 volt cigarette lighter socket. But do I want a strobe light emanating from the bottom of my car all night?  Not really. Googling "the problem," yielded the following potential solutions:
  • Moth balls (Too many people said it is not effective)
  • Fabric softener sheets ( Sounds too good to be true)
  • Wooden frame covered in stretched chicken wire under motor compartment while car is parked. Supposedly the beasts don't like to walk on chicken wire. (Sounds like a lot of work)
  • Mouse trap (There'd be a mouse in that trap every morning in my yard)
  • Sprinkle red/cayenne pepper throughout the engine compartment (Sounds promising) 
  • Rataway (Sounds the promising)
However, many said the only real solution is a garage. And my car hasn't been attacked yet. So... I'm saving my pennies. When I get enough to buy a garage I'll make sure one of the specifications in the plan is "must be tight enough to keep out rodents!"

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Peace Pagoda

Flyer distributed at the Peace Pagoda:

Need a Master Carpenter?

Paul Lattan & Brett Tyson

This is an unabashed plug for two journeymen tradesmen I think very highly of -- Paul Lattan (carpenter and mason) and Brett Tyson (plumber, electrician and oft-times carpentry partner of Paul). They have done a superlative job refurbishing our lake house. The project was managed from the perspective of historic preservation and the use of natural colors (e.g. Chateau Green shingles) and materials (e.g. only real, natural wood -- including entrance door). Here's a list of the work these two craftsmen did on the house:
  • Part of our house was built in 1940 and part in 1990. The 1940 half had a dirt crawl space with a serious moisture problem resulting in rotted beams, joists and plywood walls as well as unsafe wiring and plumbing not to code (to put it mildly). This section was excavated, the house jacked up and cinder block walls added. 
  • Rotted joists and beams in crawl space replaced.
  • Extensive bad wiring in crawl space replaced.
  • Crawl space insulated.
  • Repaired dysfunctional (very) crawl space plumbing.
  • Installed new lighting throughout crawl space.
  • Replaced very large previous deck that wasn't safe (considerably below spec -- especially the disintegrating sonnet tubes), nor connected properly to the wall -- with a new one. Retained original architectural design.
  • Rock walls installed in several areas (similar to photo above). Rocks were taken from the excavating to install cinder block walls, new power line feed and french drain.
  • Sloping area of side yard leveled out, adding significant new usable space.
  • Winterized a "bump-out" kitchen nook that had jutted out from the house but would get very cold since outside air would get under the floor. Floor enclosed and insulated to ground level.
  • Rotted house trim and cedar shakes replaced.
  • Poorly fitted and aged patio doors replaced (now air tight).
  • New, all wood, front door installed (perfectly fitted).
  • Replaced rotted roof wood and fascia and re-shingled (after the above photo) roof. (Previous shingles were 20+ years old and had not been properly installed.)
  • Repointed mortar on two chimneys. 
  • Installed a french drain around entire house to capture water runoff from sloping hill and divert around the house.
  • Installed a new underground service line from the house to power pole feed. (Conduit around previous wiring had not been properly glued together resulting in multiple cracks/breaks in line which resulted in water during heavy rains filling the conduit and gushing up into the service box with obvious safety and wire contamination issues).
  • Installed outside motion-detector spotlights.
  • Cleaned and tuned boiler. 
  • Snaked TV antenna coaxial cable through walls and installed wall plate.
  • Added electrical outlets and light switches to screen house.
These guys can do it all.  I trust them and I admire their work. I highly recommend them. Whenever they'd discovered an unforeseen problem, they'd bring it to my attention.  They do things right. Paul tells me booked up at the moment, but taking bookings for later in the year. His cell phone number is (518) 925-0270.

Construction still in progress: Raised bed septic system (Excavator: Duane Goodermote, Engineer: Bill Cottrell) and propane-fueled backup generator for entire house (Electrician: Ben Krahforst/ACT Electric).

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Girlfriend Left Me for a Dish Rack

I heard her say at least 10 times this weekend how much she loves her new dish rack. So, if you care about dish racks (I don't), I guess this one's a winner: simplehuman Steel Frame Dishrack with Wine Glass Holder.

I should buy stock in the company. We already have two simplehuman Push Pumps (one for hand soap, one for dish detergent) and a simplehuman Step Trash Can.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How to Identify an Ash Tree

The recent posting, Emerald Ash Borer, highlighted the danger imposed on ash trees by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. Of course, the ability to identify ash trees is a necessary prerequisite to identifying the Emerald Ash Borer.

Ash Tree Identification
Ash Tree Identification Guide
How to Identify Ash Trees 

How to Identify an Ash Tree, EAB & Signs of Infestation

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wednesday Morning, 5:36AM

Fog's rollin' in off the East River bank
Like a shroud it covers Bleeker Street
Fills the alleys where men sleep
Hides the shepherd from the sheep 

Bleecker Street
Paul Simon