Day 13 through 18: Garage is the new patio

The original date for the walls to go up was on Nov 19th.  When supplies weren’t delivered and no one showed up on the 19th, I put in a call to the contractor.  Now the new date is Nov 27.  In the meantime, the concrete pad in the backyard has become the new patio.  Sascha uses it to stretch out in the sunshine.Rich had waterproofed the Jake chairs, but they weren’t getting dry on the patio.  So he moved them out to the concrete pad and the sunshine to try and get them dry.  After moving the chairs, the pad all of a sudden really started to look like the new patio.  The other day, I look out and Rich is sitting out there having a sample of the Husky Paws pale ale.  Sascha is sitting out there with him.  I think she was hoping for a taste.  She was the inspiration for the name.  No free tastes though.

If you know Three Floyd’s brewery in Munster, Indiana, then you know Zombiedust.  This is their pale ale with citrus hops.  Rich decided to try his hand at making a clone of that flavor in his own version.  He calls it Husky Paws.  It was really good right after brewing.  On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Rich tapped the keg.  We’ve been enjoying it for several days now.  It gets better as it warms up and the citrus flavor comes out more.  Hopefully, this will be a repeated brew in the future.

This Thanksgiving turned out to have a small crowd.  Jon and Patty came out from Michigan with Patrice.  I scaled back on the food, but we still had plenty of leftovers.  Rich did a buttermilk brine for the turkey and stuffed it full of herbed butter.  He then smoked the turkey along with a pork shoulder.  They cooked for most of the day.  About the time a rain shower started coming in, Rich pulled the meats from the smoker.  The smell was heavenly.

As her usual habit, Sascha found a prime spot right in the middle of the kitchen floor.  I’m crisscrossing the kitchen to fix the side dishes and having to walk over her.  There is a good reason why we refer to her as the kitchen speed bump.

On Friday after Thanksgiving, we went up to my friend, Dave, to join in Thanksgiving with his family.  There was ham, turkey, and a lot of food.  It’s always a good time with Dave’s family.  Once again, I ate way too much.  Thanks, Dave and Chris, for having us by.

It turned out that Dave’s nephews have started homebrewing.  They brought some of their beer and Rich had some of his Husky Paws.  There was a meeting of the brewers.  Rich mentioned he had bottles that they could have for their new enterprise.  They came by the house later in the evening to pick them.  Hopefully, they will remember to share of their brews with us in the future.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is the traditional day for us to put up our Christmas tree and decorate the house.  In the last few years, Rick has put up the tree and decorated it.  This year, we did it together.  I add something new to the tree each year.  I add some tartan ribbons trailing from top to bottom.  Rick resisted, until he saw the angel tree topper that was tartan as well.  It kind of tied it all together.

I redid the garland around the front door.  After a few years, things just get worn.  I got new garland with holly.  I used my leftover tartan ribbon to create bows for the outside garland.  It definitely looks new and less weathered.  Now I just need Rick to put them outside.

Next up: Wrapping of the gifts.  I’m typically done with Christmas shopping by October.  This year, I didn’t get started as soon as normal in July, but I was able to finish right on time.  Only probably with shopping early is that I forget what all I have!  It’ll be a new view of the Christmas that I have planned for the guys when I wrap it all up.  I just have to pick a good day with Christmas movies for wrapping up those presents.

So to recap, the garage should start getting walls this week.  That will be exciting!  Finally, the concrete pad will stop being a patio and starting looking like a garage.

Sascha spends a lot of her time out on the concrete pad. Maybe she has claimed it in the name of all Husky mixes everywhere.


Rich and Sascha out enjoying the “new patio”, as I refer to it. One day, it will have walls and a roof.


Like I said, Sascha thinks the concrete pad is hers.
Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Sascha got a bath. She was exhausted.


Thanksgiving morning, Rich was busy preparing the bird. It soaked overnight in a buttermilk brine and then he stuffed it with herbed butter before putting it on the smoker.


Rich worked hard to prepare the bird, but it was very, very delicious.


Sascha is nicknamed Speed Bump. She likes to lay in the middle of the kitchen floor while you prepare a meal. At least she isn’t eating straight off the counters.


A picture of our meager feast for the day. Turkey and pork shoulder were smoked and delicious. The rest of the sides added to the flavor. Then were was pumpkin and pecan pie for dessert.


On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Rick and I got the tree up and decorated. Rick will get the outside finished off on Monday. Welcome to the Christmas season.




Day 6 through Day 13 of New Garage: Build it and they will come

This has been Day 6 through Day 13 without much change in the backyard.

Maybe that’s the other way around though.  They will come and build it.  Monday is scheduled as the first day of framing.  We haven’t heard anything different, so we believe this to be so.  No building supplies have been dropped off, but we still believe this to be so.

The concrete out in the backyard has hardened quite nicely.  I don’t think the squirrels have exerted much pressure on it.  I haven’t seen any signs of small footprints embedded in the cement.  Sascha seems to like resting on the porch, which still doesn’t have a roof.

This week, Rich has been sick and trying to recover.  There has been some sort of virus going around work.  I assume that’s what he had.  He ran a fever and has just been achy.  Tuesday, we came home from work early.  Neither of us felt well, but at least I didn’t succumb to the illness.  Rich was home on Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday, he braved it into work AND then to bowling afterwards.  Recovery is continuing this weekend.  He’s gotta be ready to smoke that bird on Thursday!

Sascha has been enjoying the cooler weather.  She loves to lie in the yard and enjoy the temps.  With weather like this, Rich takes her scootering or running with the bike.  She’s very tired when she gets back, but she definitely enjoys the exercise. I try to take her walking on the days when she doesn’t get to run.  However, Sascha just doesn’t know how to walk!  She pulls me down the road until we arrive back at the house.  I just slow her down, that’s all.

One of the issues with running Sascha is running the risk of damaging the pads of her paws.  We tried to putting booties on her, but they came off too quickly.  Rich found a cream that you apply to the pads to keep them conditioned.  Sascha doesn’t mind too much having you apply the cream.  But she would much rather eat it than wear it.  She’s always trying to lick it out of the container.  Rich believes it has helped.  It’s called Musher’s Secret.  We’ll see what happens as the temps cool down and they can go running more.

On Friday, I was looking out the back door in time to see a squirrel pushing his luck with Sascha.  She was lying out in the yard.  This squirrel was well within her circle of influence, which meant he was very reachable.  He kept coming closer and closer to her.  Sascha was crouched down and waiting for the moment to spring on him.  He took no notice of the danger.  I couldn’t help but watch this drama unfold out there. Just when I thought she might jump, he turned and headed away from her.  Thank goodness!  I didn’t want to have to take another squirrel away from her.  Didn’t he know about this dog?  Danger, danger, Wil Robinson!

Do you want to hear about my week at work?  No?  Here it is anyway.  We finally hired a contractor who was willing to come and help us out.  Karen was recommended by Jim and Diane.  They had worked with her in the past.  I trusted their judgment and she was surprisingly what I was looking for during the interview.  This means I have someone to help with the workload, just as soon as she figures out what we do.  Hey there, Karen.  (I’m sure she’ll see this soon.)

All day Monday was spent off site at Jim’s house going over the work we had developed for this release.  We were trying to see if you used the same terminology throughout and if things made sense.  We found several things that we need to work on.  This gave us an opportunity to start sharing information with Karen.  Luckily, we didn’t scare her too much.  She actually showed up on Tuesday for more.

The rest of the week was spent trying to show Karen what we do and who the people are that we work with.  You never realize what your job entails and how much you know until you try to tell someone about it in a way that makes some sense.  Karen seems eager to learn.  I don’t think I’ll have to drag her kicking and screaming into this release.  At least, not yet.

Thursday was our annual Thanksgivingfest.  We have a pitch in dinner with the employees in the larger department.  We ask everyone to bring a dish to share.  This year, we got a ton of food and none of it lasted very long.  My boss organizes everything.  I help on the day of to keep things moving.  This year, I had help as Karen jumped in to help us.  Between us all, we kept dishes moving and adding the new ones as they walked in the door.

We had plenty of food.  Everyone came into the conference room, loaded up plates, and sat down to talk and share.  It was great.  I think we even had to kick out a table of brand new guys who were talking well after everyone else left.  I love Thanksgivingfest!

Friday was a slow day.  My brain hurt from talking and sharing with Karen.  I worked at home and slowly worked through the delivery for the next release.  I’m not quite halfway through it, but it is starting to take shape.  The process is really iterative as we start with the last release and make updates for the new release.  I’m well on my way to a final delivery next November!

This weekend, Rich finished up the beam between the dining room and the living room.  He had crafted plugs for the screw holes and glued them in.  Today, he leveled them with the beam.  I could then apply more linseed oil to the beam with the plugs in place.  It looks really good.  Climbing up and down the later took its toll, but it was worth the effort.  I’ll probably need to add a couple of coats over time for it to stop drying out.

That very special day in November is coming soon.  I’ve already pressured the guys into ordering my birthday and Christmas presents.  It should be a good birthday.  It seems unreal that I’m getting to be another year older.  It’s just not possible.  Of course, in my mind, I’m still in my early 20s.  I just can’t be any older than that already.  I guess I’ll just be young at heart for a long time.  So 10 days from Monday until my special day.

Concrete still out there.


A little wet this day.


Sunny day on the concrete.


Another sunny day on the concrete.


One more concrete picture. Will it ever get walls?


Plugs before they got knocked off in the beam. It looks mahvelous!


Sascha getting a pedicure with the Musher’s Secret.

Day 4 and Day 5 Slab awaits

Now we wait.  We are in the curing stage with the slab of concrete.  It looks like it made it through the day without the neighbor kids messing it up or rollerblading on it.  By Day 4, it was beginning to look drier in texture, even though it did rain a bit on it.  We felt safer walking on it and Rick took a stroll out across the surface.As the concrete cures, the top coat is coming out a big more.  I guess they buffed it up since it is a garage floor.  It doesn’t have the rough texture that the porch apron has, which will be outside.  You want that so it won’t be as slippery.  Wouldn’t want Rich to fall down while he is BBQing anything.

We are now in wait mode.  The framers are scheduled to show up on Nov 19 to start putting up the walls.  I’m taking a daily picture of the slab and subsequent work.  I thought I’d do one of those time-lapsed progressions to the eventual completion of the garage.  I thought it might be fun to watch.

I was so excited on Friday.  My new favorite band was in town to play a show at the House of Blues.  Trampled Under Foot is their name.  Three siblings have put together this band and they have a really rocking sound.  They’ve been winning competitions and making quite a name for themselves as well as developing a following.  They started out as a Led Zeppelin tribute band as they were building their blues repertoire.  Trampled Under Foot is a Zeppelin song they took their name from.

We heard them when we attended the Cincy Blues Fest in August.  They are awesome.  At the end of their set in Cincy, they performed the song, “Trampled Under Foot.”  Danielle has a voice and power that outdid even Robert Plant.

We had never been to the House of Blues.  We talked about going, but never went.  The TUF show was a good chance for us to finally do it.  Rich had bowling on Friday and doing a roll off to see who is in the finals.  They won!  We packed it up and drove out to the Blue Line for the L train.

It’s been a long time since we’ve taken the L.  The train was packed and standing room only.  That was a little difficult for me to stand and ride, but I didn’t have much choice.  Trains are a good source of people watching.  We had the freshman college girls behind us talking in their very high falsetto voices about the upcoming weekend.  There were the three French couples in town to sightsee.  There were business people headed home or into town.

We arrived at the Clark St. station downtown and made our way topside.  Turning left, we walked one block to the river and could see the Marina Towers where House of Blues is located.  The night was mild and the walk was good.  Arriving inside, we found TUF already on stage in the Back Porch.  They were just playing a song to test the sound.  Getting inside, we found any possible seat already taken so we were in for a couple of hours on feet.  We found a place along the railing where we could leave and hang our jackets.

The show started and people started pouring onto the dance floor/viewing area.  It got packed pretty quickly.  With that came the usual cast of drunks.  I hadn’t been in a bar like this for a while.  Is this what it used to be like back then?  I remembered too that white people don’t dance well.  More people watching opportunities were occurring around me.

During the second set, a couple white guys in fancy business suits brought a couple of girls onto the floor in front of us.  They look like they had already had a few drinks.  By this time, the floor had cleared out quite a bit.  There was plenty of room between everyone.  These four came and stood so close in front of us that I kept hitting the blond chick in front of whenever I applauded.  She didn’t seem to mind so I didn’t apologize or stop.

Anyway, it appeared that the older, bald guy was trying to hit on the blond so I assumed that the two guys had asked these girls out from the office where they all work.  The girls probably came out to get a free dinner and night on the town. The blond was being nice to the bald guy, but she obviously wasn’t interested.  The other girl was there to support her friend, but she made to bones about showing any interest in the other guy.  Poor guy was just standing around.  Oh, the machinations of dating.  Don’t miss that at all.

So the show ended and we headed back to the train.  There were less people so we could actually sit down from the ride back to the Cumberland Ave station.  Rich was telling me a story about his grandfather getting the kids of the apartment to ride the L out to O’Hare, returning to ride to downtown and then back to the California St station by their grandparents’ apartment.  I could see that happening.  There were kids all over the stations up and down the track.  I would say it looked like the Friday night thing to do.  Get on the train and ride around for a while with your friends.

It was 2:00 AM when we finally rolled into the driveway.  Sascha met us at the door, but she didn’t appear happy.  She wouldn’t let either of us pet her.  She went out, hung out with Rich for a while, and then scrambled to bed as he gave up for the night.  I think she was still a little mad the next morning.

On Saturday, Rich started working on putting up the oak beam.  I had wanted to add something to the big blank area between the living room and dining room.  My idea was an beam of sort.  My friend, Dave, had a couple of trees that he took down in his yard and had lumbering into boards so he could make create a bar in his basement.  He had some leftover and offered me one of them.  We picked a nice red oak.  Rich cut it into two pieces and sanded it a little to take down some of the roughness.  We then rubbed it down with linseed oil.  The character and color really came out.

Next step was to actually attach the pieces to the ceiling.  I chose to expose the rougher sides.  I wanted that older, rougher character to be seen.  It took all three of us to hold things in place, but we got it mounted.  It looks better than I had imaged.  The wood is still drying out.  Once Rich gets the handmade plugs into over the screws, I’ll need to rub it down again with linseed oil.  At least this Thanksgiving, I’ll finally have the beam in!

On Saturday night, we went to Mike and Barb’s for a Fall Night Out.  The plan was cookout, sit by a fire, and talk.  That we did.  There was the usual cast of characters.  Barb and Mike have some interesting friends, besides us.  We were looking forward to seeing people that we only see here.  By 10:00, I was toast.  I just can’t do too many late nights in a row anymore.  We said good night and Rick drove us home.

On Sunday morning, it was an early turnout to attend the Northern Illinois Streeters car club breakfast.  Another excuse to see people we don’t see all the time.  During the summer, we go to car shows and during the winter, they hold monthly breakfast meetings.  This was the first of the winter meetings.  Looking forward to the Christmas party with the club in December.  More on that to come after December 15.  Stay tuned.

Storms are moving in.  The wind is kicking up to 30 miles per hour at times.  We’ve just been hanging inside.  Rich was watching the dismal Lions’ game against the Vikings.  Oh well, there’s always next week.  I’m listening to TUF playing blues and writing this blog.  Good Sunday for reading the paper and watching movies.

Now, if I can only get control of the TV.  (Evil laugh heard here.)  Then there is the Browncoats Unite special tonight!  Yes, I’m a Firefly fan and I’m not ashamed to say it.

The slab is still there out there on Day 4. It does look like it is curing nicely.


That’s Trampled Under Foot on stage. Not a good photo, but you can see we are at House of Blues. Great show and a great evening out.


Saturday and the slab continues to rest quietly. I’m starting to get used to there being something out there now. By the time the garage is complete, it’ll be normal.


I had planned to put an oak beam up between the living room and dining room. It thought it might give the area some character. Our friend, Dave, shared an oak board from a tree he had lumbered. It worked perfectly. It took the three of us, but the beam is up. Rick was messing around in this photo.


Rich put in the last screw to hold it place while he did the finishing work. Thanks, dear.


Rick taking a stroll across the slab. Just another day as a blank slate.


Curing concrete has a special character. Can’t wait until it truly is a garage floor.


Day 3 That’s one big slab

6:30 in the morning is way too early for someone to show up and start pouring concrete!  That’s what happened this morning though.  I started hearing noises in the backyard.  Lo and behold, there is Dave Anderson, concrete contractor, preparing for the big trucks to arrive.  My neighbors have got to hate me today.

I was working at home and could hear them out there all day long.  I lost count at about 4th truck to come down Hickory and turn onto Oak to pour concrete.

Sascha couldn’t go out and spend her usual day in the grass.  I ended up walking her in the front yard.  Needless to say, she was not happy at this turn of affairs.  Of course, she was closer to see squirrels out there.  At one point, she pulled me right off my feet to try and go after one.  I need to make sure I pay attention when I have to walk her out front.

So the slab is down and curing.  The bobcat is packed on the trailer and driven away.  The dirt was nicely packed around the site.  The gravel driveway is level and nicely packed down.

Brad, who lives behind us, commented on the rather large slab of concrete someone left in our yard.  He assures me that he’ll be getting his blades on to come over and skate tonight.  I’m just hoping the neighborhood kids stay off of it tomorrow.

The framers are scheduled to show up on the 19th.  Then the walls will raise.  It’ll start looking like a garage.

The big slab of concrete someone put in the backyard. This is from the front looking past the 6 foot porch on the front and then to the back of the garage. This is my daily shot from now to till the end.


Nice and neat corner of the porch.


Just another view from the side. You can see where the side door will be.


Last night, Sascha was sleeping on Rick’s lap while we were watching TV in the basement. She’s so cute.


Day 2 Garage Foundations

Pulling up to the house today, we could see that some work had been going on here.  First off, there’s a bobcat in the yard!  Cool!  I want to drive it.  But there aren’t any keys for it.  Too bad.

Believe it or not, I have experience driving a bobcat.  I had a summer job at the cement plant in town.  I used a bobcat to shovel coal into the burner for the kiln used to create Portland mix for concrete.  It was a good job.  Didn’t pay too badly either.

Anyway….they had dug the foundation out, which now outlines the garage.  It doesn’t look that big now.  Rick was looking down into the holes and commenting how you could bury a body in there.  Too bad I’m not that mad at anyone right now.  I guess the contractor would want to remove the body before they pour the concrete though.  Bodies and concrete doesn’t add anything to the structural integrity.

The building inspector came by tonight to sign off on the foundation work so far.  Hopefully we can keep up with the signatures and the work to move forward.  We’ve had projects where the wait for the next signature gets in the way.  Thanks, Ray.

So now for the photo of the day showing the work to date.


There it is. What gravel and the forms in place to accept the concrete. The builder inspector signed off and we’re ready for the pour.


Rick checking out the trenches and forms. He swears you could hide a body in there.

Day 1 Garage Begins

Tuesday, November 6

We left for the office this morning with an intact yard.  I bounced Rick out of bed early to go vote with us.  I say bounced because I unleashed the energy of Sascha on him.  She lands on you with both feet and bounces around the bed before she settles down.  By that time, Rick was somewhat awake and it was safe to enter the room.

This was Rick’s first time to vote.  Yesterday, they were passing out Rock the Vote shirts at the college.  Rick picked up one and had it one for this occasion.  We entered the village hall and gave our names to the attendants at the table.  It’s easy.  We are the last ones in the book.  One of the judges took Rick aside to explain the process to vote in this precinct.  Rich took a picture of Rick when he came out of the hall after voting.  It was a proud day.

Work was a day of meetings and talking to people.  I ran a lunch time meeting with food provided.  By the time I was done at 2:00, I was DONE.  There is only so much up close and personal that I can handle in a day.  Luckily, Rich was ready to go early, too.

We drove up to the house and found a stack of wood in the backyard.  The contractor or subcontractor had dropped the forms off for the foundation.  This looks like the beginning of something big.  That’s big as in a garage.

I plan to take a picture every day from the same location to show the garage taking shape.  I’ve decided to stand in the garage door looking out to the construction site.  Hopefully, this gives me some perspective and shows the structure.  Follow along as we raise a garage.

In the meantime, I captured pictures of Sascha sleeping in the office as I worked.  As she sleeps, Sascha crosses her paws, even when she is lying on her side.  It’s so cute.  Just as cute as when she is sharing the big red chair with Dad.  I also got a shot of Rich and Sascha in the chair the other day.  This time it was from the back.  Sascha is hanging over the top.  It was cute, too!

Way out there in the back, next to the tree. That’s the set of concrete forms they dropped off. We begin.


Sascha was sleeping comfortably in the office while I worked. See, her paws are crossed.


Close up of those really cute paws.


Sascha hanging over the back of the chair asleep. Just another view of a pretty face.