Monday, March 28, 2005


As a guy in the middle of a major renovation, I'm getting tired of the commute. All DIYers know exactly what I'm talking about. The home to HomeDepot commute. The home to the tile place commute. The home to Parr Lumber commute. The short commute to the store that doesn't have what you need immediately followed by the HomeDepot commute.

It's hell

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oops and oops

The original work that our plumbers did was superb. The craftsmanship and speed of installation showed expertise and professionalism. Everything fell apart today. Today was the day the city's inspector came to check the plumbing and structural. Oh the stuff all passed without problem but a few mistakes were made.

We need to start from the beginning with some background info. The plumbing permit requires that any drainage system goes through a rigorous test. The test works like this. Cap off every the bottom and any connected drain and then fill the whole system with water and wait 4 hours. If nothing leaks then you pass. Easy enough right. Your plumber is who loads up the system with water until it pours out of the vent on the roof and then comes back after the inspection has taken place. Then they uncap what they capped. OK, clear on this...good.

Now the system was getting filled with water and soon would be spilling out of the roof vent. The one problem is that there was an open T fitting about three feet below in the attic. Well water started pouring out of this for about 30 seconds before Amy's panicked "WATER!!! WATER!!!" commentary could be reacted to. I shut off the fill valve probably at the same time as the plumber did at a different point.

The saturated blown in insulation and the roof below were soaked. I poked a hole with a pin into a crack and water came out...hmmm. The plumbers will sort me out for the damages and it's really not such a huge deal but a good morning it did not make.

Oh and then there was the 2nd thing. Again Amy noticed, although much more calmly, an encroaching puddle in the basement. On the phone with the plumber, he was confident that it couldn't be growing. I assumed that he was right and the existing puddle simply was spreading slightly due to the normal effects of a puddle sitting. It's a nasty basement so as long as it dries, I'm not going to worry about it. I continue about my day and go into the basement to visit the chickens when I notice that the puddle is MUCH bigger. Perplexed I investigate to find that the pipe connected to the existing bathroom lavatory is resting gently on a rubber cap. It's supposed to be connected to the pipe below. One bucket, one screwdriver, and ten minutes later I have it all sorted out and everything's fab.

The funny thing is that I can see how both mistakes could have been easily made. The existing workmanship and professionalism was so good prior to today's mayhem that I have a hard time reconciling the two. I still think these guys are good plumbers but really got it wrong today.

And Amy truly saved the day. If the water had run into the attic for three or four minutes then the damage would have been drastically different. The ceiling would have likely burst sending dirty water atop the very absorbent futon and likely taken out the computer and other furniture in the room. More importantly, my bikes in the basement might have gotten wet. Then I would have been really mad.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

(moo) Posted by Hello


Most people have a simple happiness algorithm. Rain=sad. Sun=happy. This is, of course, excluding the farmer. I find myself more like the farmer in spirit. It's finally raining here. I surprise myself with the amount that I care and the emotional response to the rain. It's as if I can feel a collective sigh of relief from the plants and the ground itself. It's the fifth day of this pattern with no end in sight. The current rains may not erase the low seasonal measurements and we may be looking at an earlier fire season. But, for now, it's a nice saturated Pacific Northwest and that's a good thing.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The bug, the bath, and the coffee

Surely each incremental bit of progress in the bathroom project generates a collective yawn so I'll spare the details and photos won't appear as often. But what's interesting is the amount of work and under what conditions it all happened. Lets set the stage... All of us are sick and have all of your favorite cold symptoms including my favorite: fuzzy head. Nothing like working with power tools in a haze. Within the course of one rainy weekend we ...

... framed up and installed a 2nd skylight that doesn't leak...yippee

... filled a construction sized massive trash bin (30 cubic yards fyi) with heavy crap. Happiness is getting rid of the previous owner's trash. Some items needed to be dismantled before removal, like the rusty yet physically connected hot water heater.

... Purchased materials/equipment to build and then built the railing. It replaces the ugliest drywall crap ever.

The bathroom is inching ever closer. Somehow sharing the pain & effort eases the pain. OK not really but what else do I have going on? There's the new coffee grinder en route but best to save that for another day. Surely THAT foreshadowing will leave you on tenterhooks. indeed.

Work work work Posted by Hello

Friday, March 18, 2005

The perfect storm

So we have a huge weekend of work ahead. There's a monster room sized trash bin that we will be filling over the weekend. There's the skylight that I'll be installing. And the best part is that it's supposed to rain all weekend. THEN the piece de resist ohhnce is that all three of us have a nasty head cold. All of this stuff is on a deadline so we have to suck it up and push through. Fun.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Oh the sweet fleeting moments

It's so nice to be thirty five. So robust, so strong, so ... sassy. Well in 87 minutes it's all down the toilet. Over thirty five, ugh. It's all downhill from here. It was fun while it lasted {sigh}

The third rail

So this bathroom project is all consuming. It has an energy of its own and the inevitability of its completion can be felt. One of the biggest subtasks of of the whole gig is installing the giant 12' rafters... three of them. They're in. They're installed. They're done. I cannot tell you the misery of being in a tiny space full of old insulation trying to power in some screws... upside down. It's all going to get easier from here. Of course by saying this I've cursed myself. More photos soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

The promised land. These guys ... well lets just say that you need to take a couple hours out of your day if you ever find yourself in Seattle. It will be worth it. Posted by Hello

The 2nd skylight is in. This bathroom will be all glass and awesome. The smaller skylight to the left is actually to be replaced by a bigger one to satisfy minimum ceiling height code requirements. It's all coming together Posted by Hello

Friday, March 11, 2005


The boy officially turned two. The party ran smoothly with no injuries. I call that a success. The cafe got a good workout as master barista chuck Y luv cranked out the drinks. The guests strongly prefer the Stumptown Hairbender over Espresso Vivace's Dolce. I had an espresso from our friends in Seattle and it kills me to admit this... There is no better shot than what they created. To be fair, it was called a sugar shot with sugar added before the espresso. It is meant to be consumed inside of 30 seconds from creation. Sip, sip, swirl, finish. If you haven't had an espresso from these guys then you probably don't know what espresso should taste like. The sweetness of honey, the tones of chocolate, and the essence of fruit without even a HINT of bitterness.

Here's the thing. Think of a perfectly built espresso as a house of cards built racing the clock. Everything has to be placed and balanced in a certain order and with great precision. Get any one of dozens of variables wrong and the whole thing falls down. Given that, it's safe to say most people don't have any idea that there's such a thing as a non bitter 1 to 2 ounce magic coffee drink.

A moment to rant about Starbucks. We owe them for helping educate people (for the record, I was frequenting Misha's Coffee in Alexandria VA prior to this whole starfish thing.) on the existence of something beyond folgers. For that, thanks. But for the homogenation of so many places we say with great sarcasm, thanks. Today's starfish from a drink quality perspective sucks. It's the lowest common denominator for a $3-$4 coffee drink. Their espresso quality is so far away from the experience at Vivace or Stumptown that it really needs a different category. The interesting bit is that the prices are basically the same. When on business in a foreign town for a laugh I order different drinks from them: cappucino, macchiato, latte... and no matter what I say, I receive the same drink: a milky sedate latte. The reason is more than barista ignorance in my estimation. It's that they're masking the crappy shots with enough milk so that it won't matter (enough) to be noticed by the average java jacket paper cup sippin' 'bux customer.

But enough negativity... I made a shot with the same Vivace beans that they use for espresso and generated a shot that wasn't marked with the same perfection as the in-shop experience but it was fantastic just the same. Most people do not realize that there's real human talent and mechanical precision involved in crafting an excellent espresso or cappucino. I've traveled some distance down that road but the end is far away. There is no end but I'm still pushing on. People that visit the cafe are happy to enjoy the ride.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Everybody loves a play-by-play of my life... image of dinner attached. Egg drop soup with tofu and fish cake. Also known as "refrigerator scrounge" ...  Posted by Hello

Today's adventure with the boy: OMSI. After stopping half a dozen times to see what was up with Benjamin only to realize he was singing a Cake song and not upset I realize how much I need the sidecar. Thank you REI dividend. Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The ChickenCoop nearing completion. All it needs now is some trim pieces & paint.... oh yeah, and some chickens. Posted by Hello


When I first moved into my house, I was in love. Sure it needed a few minor tweaks but it was ok as is. Nearing a year in this place it has been like sleeping on a lumpy bed after drinking too much coffee. Lots of tossing and turning, waiting, then flopping about again in search of the confortable position. Lets see, our bedroom has moved 3 times, my office thrice as well, b-dog's playroom twice. At least the kitchen hasn't moved. The analogy isn't perfect as it's nice here already but something wasn't quite right.

With the landscaping coming into bloom, the bedroom moved upstairs (involving complete destruction & reassembly of box spring), & the bathroom to be completed in the near term, I'm really starting to feel like we have a home here. The master suite will be decadent luxury with skylights in the bedroom and almost an all glass ceiling in the bathroom. Although I've forgotten what it sounds like, the pitter patter of rain on glass will make for perfect slumber. Wierd as people find it, having the fancy toilet moving upstairs in our private space will be a good thing. The style of the bathroom will be strongly japanese although those not versed in that genre will simply like the elegant simplicity and minimalism of it all. Lots of earth tones and textures will permeate the space.

It's nice to buy a house and get past the first major phase of modifications where it goes from house to home. Sure there will always be the list but the sense of urgency will wane for awhile as we enjoy the super local as well as the local of our environment.

"Portland's got soul and it's su[per]bad." -b-dog

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The boy consumed TWO hot chai lattes this morning. He, like his mom, is obsessed. He didn't do it during this photo shoot but he usually buries his face in the cup trying to get at the last bit of foamy goodness. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


I need to listen to my body. My back was killing me but I went on a mountain bike ride anyway. I rode the single speed up 3000'. There's no greater torque that can be put upon the lower back than muscling up a steep mountain in a tall gear. THEN to make matters worse, I rode a substantial ride the following day. I took my geared bike so I could be gentle to my back and spun up another 3000' or so. Later that evening I looked in the mirror and noticed that my back was completely eskew. I was the leaning tower of Chaz. I dosed up on vitamin I and went to bed. While I'm not fresh as a spring chicken, alignment has returned. I feel like an old man. Single speedin' is a younger man's game. BUT that which doesn't kill (or permanently damage) you, makes you hurt... I mean makes you stronger. Yeah, that's what I mean't. Speaking of spring chickens, they're doing well and are a bit larger. The cats are shockingly disinterested in the little birds. I think they're afraid of the red glowing incubator. good.