Time to start a new project

The weather has turned cool here.  That can only mean that winter is on the way.  Where do I sign up to move to better weather?  I have a feeling winter will be particularly brutal this year.  I just hope I’m wrong about that.  Winter is far from my favorite season.  Anything below 40 is too cold.  Snow is out of the question.  I know we need the cold and snow to set things right with the seasons, but I’m hoping for the best.

Halloween is Wednesday.  We’ve seen a greater number of kids in the number this school year.  I’m hoping to see a good turnout for the Trick or Treat.  I like this part of the Halloween holiday.  They are so much fun to see.  I’ve collected my toys to give away.  A dentist friend prefers to see toys and not candy during Trick or Treat.  I think the kids get enough candy.  The toys are a welcomed change.  The kids don’t seem to mind.  I had skull squishy balls, smiley face squishy balls, glow in the dark bracelets and bendable skeletons.

With the cooler weather, Rich has started taking Sascha out for scootering.  Today, he was only in danger three times.  Apparently, Sascha stopped for one squirrel, the dog down at the end of the street for a social moment, and to chase one groundhog.  She does love small furry things.

Our next project is slated to begin very soon.  We picked up the building permit for the new garage last Saturday.  On Monday, I contacted Pete D. (the contractor) to let him know we have it in hand.  On Tuesday evening, Pete stopped by with the final papers in hand for us to sign.  In the next few days, the first day of excavation will begin and we will be underway.  Pete says we should have the garage completed in about 6 weeks.  It is exciting on one hand to have a new structure going up and yet a little panicky because we are building on and putting out more money.  I guess you can’t have one without the other though.

With so many vehicles, we need to do something.  Then, Sally needs a home where the boys can work on her in peace and not let fumes into the house.  As we move forward, I plan to take pictures and write up some details on the progress.  I was thinking it might be nice to do one of those time elapsed set of pictures to show it from Day 1 to end.  Hopefully, it won’t take long to complete.

And I just finished another project.  Or at least, I just need to tweak it over the next few weeks.  My back was hurting when I worked at home.  I realized that my chair had gone bad.  The padding in the seat was displaced bad enough to leave nothing to help with the metal seat.  So I had to decide, do I need a new seat or raise my desk to allow me to stand?  A year or so ago, I raised my desk at work.  This has given me the ability to seat, stand, and lean as I work.  I love it.  And my back doesn’t hurt.

This was my opportunity to raise my desk at home. I did some research and found that people are doing a number of different things in an effort to raise their own desk.  The commercial world is offering several different methods to raise your desk as well.  There is big business in this effort.  I couldn’t afford most of those.  However, I did find a solution that was a little costly, but would work out great.  I bought an adjustable frame to which my desktop could be mounted.

On Saturday, I took my current desk apart.  Rick put my desktop on the new frame and I started putting my work area back together.  I got the desk to a good height for standing.  Then I realized that my monitor was too low.  I came up with a temporary solution for the monitor.  I figure my back will get better.  I just need to get accustomed to the arrangement.

Rick signed up for next semester.  He was able to arrange his classed for 8 to 12.  That means he can work a full shift in there.  Not ideal for him, but he needs to learn how to have a job.  It wouldn’t hurt him any at all.  The money would be nice for him and then he can stay out of my wallet!  FedEx is hiring for the holidays.  He’s going over to fill out an application and see if they can find a place for him.  Good luck, Rick.  Mom’s rooting for you.

Work has been crazy.  On top of that, I am holding a training session on what the documentation for the latest set of tools look like.  Seems like a no brainer to me, but there is some comfort in having someone take you through the unknown once.  I’m sure I’ll be answering lots of questions for weeks afterwards though.  So on Thursday, I plan to bring in doughnuts, have coffee, and run through the applications and what to expect when you click Help.  This used to be my passion and it might be again to create really great online help.  The doughnuts will help, I’m sure.

Two more months to Christmas and one month to my birthday.  Unfortunately. I’ve been all over the guys to remember to buy me stuff.  I came up with a very short list on Amazon for what I want.  That should make it easy.  I don’t think Rick has purchased anything yet.

I’ve been done with my Christmas shopping since July.  I like to think ahead and stretch out all of the money I spend.  I actually buy as I go throughout the year.  So if I see something, I buy it then and store it.  I probably buy too much that way, but I don’t think Rick and Rich will complain too much.  They might actually get something they want also.

Now I just have to buy the odds and ends things for other people.  Like when we go to Michigan.  I’m still working on that, but I have found a few items.  What do you get for a group of in-laws and out-laws who might have just about everything.  I’m scanning the catalogs for something interesting.

Okay, enough rambling.  Just a couple of photos this time.


We have the building permit in hand for the new garage. Let the building begin!


My new standing desk. I can stand, sit, and lean. Hopefully, the back pains stop.


Just another Sunday morning at our house. There is no keeping Sascha out of her favorite red chair.

Stage 1 Garage Construction: And the trees must fall

On Thursday, Rich put his signature on the plans for a new garage.  Our contractor, Pete D., brought out the latest plan for sign off and to move the process along.  I did my part and got a new plat started showing the latest changes to the house.  The next thing was removal of four trees from the backyard.

A year ago, we had some tree damage from a storm and the oaks in the backyard required some maintenance to prevent further damage.  I called Mark’s Tree Service up in McHenry to come out and take care of the work.  They did a fantastic job.  I was very happy with the work and Mark wasn’t too bad to deal with.

I put the call into Mark to come out and give me an estimate on the removal of the hickory trees that were in the way of the new construction.  The price wasn’t bad and we talked about taking out the hickory tree from the back of the lot that now appeared to have died.

Mark called on Thursday to let me know that his schedule was open for Friday and those trees were coming down.  It was just like one of the Crashers shows on HGTV.  “I’ll see you bright and early at 7:00 AM on Friday with all my trucks in a row.”

Around 7:20 AM, Mark and his guys show up.  That’s fine.  There were four large trucks, two pickups with trailers, and a single pickup truck.  I felt overwhelmed.  I stepped out on the deck to talk to Mark about the work and make sure he remembered that the building inspector at the end of the street was getting some of the wood.  We were good to go.

The bucket truck took Marco, the site supervisor, up to the top of the first tree and they were off to the races.  The limbs came tumbling down and it wasn’t long before that first tree trunk hit the ground.  It hit pretty hard too.  I felt it while I was working away in the office.  I had to run out to see what had been flattened.  All the guys were standing, so that was a good thing.  The work progressed.

Sascha is all excited by the noise and the people milling around outside.  She is beside herself with excitement to go and join them.  Unfortunately for her, that wasn’t going to happen.  She stood at the back door and the windows to see the action.  She ran between the two as people moved around the yard.  I’m pretty sure the noise from the chainsaws was deafening for her.

As the guys were starting up, Brad, the neighbor behind us, came over to try and get some of the tree trunks for bonfires.  I took him and introduced him to Mark.  I let them work out the details.  Mark was happy to put a couple of the sections into Brad’s yard for his personal use.  I didn’t care as long as it left my yard.

I was emailing Rich as the work progressed.  I told him about Brad coming by to try and get tree remains.  Rich mentioned that he wanted some of the branches for smoking.  Well, that would mean another trip outside to try and find Mark.  OK, I guess so.  I went out and stood around the driveway looking for Mark.  Apparently, he had left to take a look at another job.  I couldn’t find Marco either.  I stopped one of the guys to ask about some branches I saw lying in the yard.  He agreed to put some on the patio so Rich would have wood for smoking that wonderful BBQ.

Around 10:30, the last hickory tree hit the ground.  And it hit big.  Because they had room, they took it down in one piece without trimming the top out.  It landed out in the backyard and almost touched the Oak Street.  They spent the next hour trimming down the tree and getting it out of the yard.

My yard looks so bare.  There was lots of sunshine and very little shade.  This is going to be different.  Then I notice all of the sawdust lying on everything.  The cover to the hot tub is brown and no the red it used to be.  The patio is dusty as you walk across it.

Around 12:10, the last of the trucks pull away from the front of my house.  Sascha starts to calm down. I put her in the backyard.  She stands looking at the spot where her favorite tree had stood.  Poor girl doesn’t seem to understand what is different.  I walk around the yard taking pictures.  It’s so empty.

Looking over at the trees that Mark had put into Brad’s yard, I see that the fourth tree is lying there.  The entire center of the tree is hollow.  I guess that would explain why it had started to die.  It must have been bad for a while.  I got a picture showing the whole through the trunk.

I realize without the two trees that Sascha can reach, her days are over for catching squirrels.  Thank goodness.  I don’t hear any of the squirrel chattering that I thought I might.  The squirrels didn’t seem to be angry that their trees were gone.  No more nuts falling on my head or being thrown at me.  No more sap on the driveway or cars.  Maybe the new garage will be worth it.

I will miss the hostas that I had planted around the dual trees in the middle of the yard.  I guess I’ll just have to replant them next to the garage next spring.  Maybe I’ll put in a new flower bed there with a really nice variety of plants.  Maybe it’ll be a good spot for a vegetable garden.

So the next step is the excavation.  This is estimated to start around November 1.  After that, the concrete will get poured and the framing can then begin.

Mark’s Tree Service trucks show up for work on Friday.


Tree limbs are falling as the first couple of trees start coming down.


Saying good-bye to the hickory tree where the squirrels would bomb you with nuts.


That darn hickory tree is down and ready to tear apart. No squirrels in there now.


Guys took an early break before they start the chainsaws on the last hickory.


Sascha was all excited by the noise and people in her yard. She wanted to go and play with them.


Because the foundation for the garage needs to go where the trees where, the guys put the grinder down and really created a lot of sawdust.


They really cleaned up well when they took down the trees. Even the stumps are hard to see.


View of the backyard after the four trees came down and the guys cleaned up. Looks a lot different. For a while anyway.


Sascha was trying to figure out where her favorite tree went. This means no more squirrels. Darn.


The guys were kind enough to get me some branches for Rich to use in his smoker.


This was the center of the tree that appeared to have died at the back corner of the lot. It might explain a lot.

End of September already?

Last week, someone said that they would see me at Christmas.  I was thinking it was still a ways away.  Not!  How could it be the end of September already?  I just went on vacation (back in May) and we just had the pig roast (back in June).  I know, I know.  Only an old person says that time flies by.  I’m not old!

Rich and Sascha have been taking advantage of the nice weather to go biking with the Walky Dog this week.  That came to a scary halt on Saturday.  They broke the Walky Dog!  Luckily, Sascha didn’t have a chance to take off.  While riding on the first half of the circle, one side of the dual strings broke all the way through.  Rich managed to get back to the house with Sascha before the other side gave way.

Because Sascha constantly pulls on the strings and compresses the springs inside to their maximum, Rich thought Sascha had broken the Walky Dog.  Turns out, the connector had a bur on the inside that rubbed the strings and that’s what really broke the strings.  I’m sure it doesn’t help that Sascha is trying to run at her 20+ MPH and stresses the device to its max.

Rich smoothed the bur off the connector.  We went to the hardware store for string as strong as we could get.  The strings on the device were for 550 lbs of dead weight.  We got a similar strength, but it just didn’t seem that strong.  Rich added the new strings and then took it out for a test run.  Sascha didn’t snap it yet.

After some research, Rich found that he could get parachute cord at the sporting goods store.  Hopefully, that will come with a higher rating.  I just don’t want to chase down a Siberian Collie again.  She’s fast.

Rich got a call from the contractor with an update on the garage.  They were able to reach the building inspector for the village and start working with him on the plans and permits.  They are looking into some variances that we need to do the garage just like we want.  So far, we are moving forward.  With some luck, we can build like we want.  If not, we’ll have to see what happens.  It might be Plan B then for the car situation here.  Stay tuned for more updates.

Rick came in from work.  He got a job working at Stades Farms, which is a local pumpkin farm.  They have rides and activities and use the local kids to man each of them.  This was Rick’s first full weekend.  He was hired as backup and fill in or if someone quits on them.  Today, he manned the big slide and the pedal cars.  As he says, he gets to yell at the kids to knock it off and quit horsing around.  At least, he has a little spending money.

It was quiet and I didn’t do much.  I created pictures from some Yosemite and Sequoia National Park postcards and hung them in the living room to go with the outdoors and fishing theme.  They look nice.

Next weekend is Iron Invasion.  This is a huge car show and demonstration.  It’s the first annual, so I don’t really know what will go on.  Rich is volunteering and driving Sally up to put her on display with the other hundreds of cars expected.  I’ll be sure to take pictures.  I’m just hoping for nice weather.

Now it is October

So I decided not to post this blog.  Now I have more to add.

Today, Rich took the day off to brew beer.  This was an absolute necessity since there was no beer in the house.  Also, this is the beer that needs to be on tap for Thanksgiving.  Rich decided on a Zombie Dust clone.

For those who don’t know, Three Floyds is a microbrewery in the Chicagoland area with a knack for brewing some great beers.  One of these is Zombie Dust.  It is a citrus-based, hoppy beer that hits your taste buds and lingers on into the back of the throat with a bright, hoppy flavor.

After sleeping in for an hour or two, Rich got started with the brewing process.  Of course, I was inside at my desk slaving away over a document that needs to be ready yesterday.  I did venture out a couple of times to check on the progress.  Progress went well.  This was a small batch though.  Since it was an experiment, Rich only did 5 gallons instead of the usual 10 gallons.  Less painful if you have to throw it out in disgust.

Finally, the batch was done and transferred to the fermenter.  As usual, Rich took a sample to test for gravity and alcohol content.  It looked to be about 6% alcohol.  We then tasted the raw beer.  Even without fermentation, it was pretty good.  It tasted a little like grapefruit when it first hits your mouth and then turns mellow as you push it to the back of the throat.  It was very, very good.  I can’t wait for the finished product!

While cleaning up, Rich had a beer on the table so he could drink as he went.   However, he wasn’t really watching the glass closely.  He took a drink and got more than he could drink.  There was a bee enjoying the nectar as well.  Unfortunately, the bee stung Rich inside of his mouth.  There was beer all over the garage where Rich had spit it out to get rid of the bee!  Don’t worry, Rich and the bee are okay.

Carolyn at work said that Rich was torturing Sascha by making her run alongside the bike.  I assure you that Sascha is only tortured while she has to wait for Rich to get things set up to take her running!  As soon as she thinks Rich is even thinking about touching the bike, Sascha is all over the door.  This is one of the few times that she actually barks!


Can't stand still
Sascha is a ball of energy while she waits for Rich to get the bike ready.


Excited husky
That’s one excited Husky waiting for Rich. He has to lock the door to keep her under control.


Getting ready to roll
Looks like we are getting ready to roll now.


Boy and his dog
There they go down the road for a nice run.


Brewer at work
Starting up a small batch of Husky Paws (Zombie Dust clone).


Good stuff in that pot
A peek at the brew as it brews. Smells good!


Putting the jacket on the pot
Almost like getting ready for dinner. Gotta put on the jacket.