Sunday, November 10, 2013

Can you spot the difference in these two photos?

I think the photos might just say it all...

September, 2010
November, 2013

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Green eyed monster

I have been debating whether or not to write this post.  I am a little worried that when you hear about our latest upgrade that you will be filled with envy.  But, I would rather that you hear it from me.  Once the word gets out on the street I can't be responsible.  "What?!" you are thinking, the suspense must be killing you...  A fabulous vacation?  Trip to Disney?  Countertops?  New living room furniture?  A real driveway? Alas, no.  The price tag may be the same, but come on, this is so much better...

[drum roll here]

Yup.  A brand spanking new electrical panel.  Two in fact.

When we moved in we got this little gem.  The trouble is the main breaker would trip.  Randomly, without warning, we would be plunged into darkness.  We thought at first maybe moisture was getting into the panel when it rained, but it didn't seem to be weather dependent.  We would walk down to the basement and flip the main breaker and all would be fine...until the next time it happened.
The husband spent many hours labeling what wires go to what switches...

The problem is one of two things...a faulty main switch or something too awful to mention.  Now regular folks in a regular house might just replace the main and be done with it, but as you should have figured out by now, we are not regular folks living in a regular house.  The existing panel is old and has some corrosion.  It was recommended to replace the entire panel.

The corroded beast

Okay so replace the electrical panel, not too terrible, right.  Well, the wires to the panel come through the bulkhead.  And then if you look at the wires themselves, well they travel quite a distance, through the tulip tree, the scotch pine and then out to the pole on the street.
Electrical Wires where they attach to the house

Wires through trees out to street
So we decided to replace the panel and also move the service to the other side of the house which is closer to the pole near the street...which means adding a second panel, then tying the two together and dealing with the north side of the house (i.e. strip siding, cover in Tyvek and re-side in fiber cement) to attach the new electrical panel.  Eventually the wires will go underground which should help prevent them coming down in a storm.
Stripping the east side...
Progress on the siding...

Someone is excited about the siding being finished!

The new meter arrived early last week...along with the town electrical crew...

The connected new service, wires travel a much shorter distance to the front of the house...

You will notice that I don't seem to have photos of the new electrical panels...  Nope, don't even think you are getting down in the cellar to see them...  Friends do not let friends ogle their electrical panels.  In fact, no matter how much you beg, I am not letting you down in the cellar.  Friends should just stay out of cellars (at least mine)!

The finishing touches....

It's true, November has been balmy enough to continue painting...  T has been busy putting the finishing touches on the front of the house.  He had to replace the crown molding above the bay window.  He tried to restore it, but one piece was too far gone and rotten.  We couldn't match it (without spending beaucoup money on custom trim) so we replaced all of it with as close as we could find.

Before Crown Molding....

Putting on the first piece of crown molding...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The North Side...

It is not enough that we have been scrambling to get the front of the house painted before it gets too cold...  We are also trying to get the north side re-sided.  We spent a day taking down a cinder block chimney, and a lot more time stripping off the siding, sealing gaps, putting up tyvec and picking up the siding.

We are using fiber cement siding, which looks like wood, but is termite and water resistant and non-combustible.  It is made of cement, sand and cellulose fiber.  It does require painting, but because it does not expand and contract in hot and cold weather, like wood does, the paint lasts longer than on wood siding.

We got the siding from MAKI because they had the best price.  The downside is that is comes primed in gray, so until we paint it, it looks from the photos pretty similar to the original clapboard.

Here are some progress photos...

Taking off the old siding...

More of the old siding 

Cutting the new siding to fit

It pays to have friends that are contractors...well it costs too, but the work goes that much faster!!

The Tyvec is done, the siding about 3/4...until next weekend...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

More on the front...

We scored big at Rocky's Hardware Store in West Boylston.  The store is closing and everything is at least 30% off, including paint.  Yes they carry Benjamin Moore!  We bought northampton putty HC-89 exterior paint with white trim for the front of the house.  I have such a hard time picking paint...there is a disconnect between my mind and my eye.  This color is close to the color of the siding primer.  I thought about keeping the house white as it was originally, but there is so much detailed trim work that just doesn't stand out when everything is the same color.  We are keeping the door hunter green, the trim white and the body this color.  Now all that is left to decide is the decorative bracket color...

This color is part of the Historical Color collection. A collection of 174 time-honored hues comprises our most popular palette. Steeped in tradition, the refined, elegant colors of the Historical Collection deliver timeless color that can be used in traditional as well as contemporary spaces. Inspired by the documented colors found in 18th- and 19th-century architecture, these classic, inviting tones continue to serve us well today.

More pictures when it is painted!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The front of the house

So this summer we said that we were going to finish the front of the house.  I am not sure if we put that in writing or not, but here's where we are at, now that it is officially fall...

In August, we left the husband home while my Mom and I took the kids up to NH for a weekend in the White Mountains.  While we were gone he was going to get to work on the front of the house.  When we came home, this is what we saw...  Yes, it always looks worse before it gets better.  Or so I have been told. We were hoping for more progress, but alas these things take time...LOTS of time.

It has been a very slow process, with work done off and on all summer.  We had to special order boards that were wide and long enough.  Most of the original boards were rotten with a lot of creature holes.

It is REALLY high, and difficult dragging heavy, long boards up there, not to mention nailing them in...  He tried to get me to help with one of the trim boards, but I get about to the top of the door and my vertigo kicks in.  I am pretty useless frozen to the ladder.  Jack actually helped him and yes, we had words about that.

The house is starting to look better though.  He talked a friend into helping him with the crown molding.  Here is a picture of the two of them, insanely crazy people up on ladders.  I couldn't watch and had to go in the house.  They came down in one piece, thankfully and got the job done!

Hey Brian, does your wife know where you are?

Up in the sky - aye yi yi

Pilchard is supervising - notice that she can't watch the action either...

Strike a pose - small men or giant ladders...
 I am not convinced that we will have the trim finished and the front painted before winter...but I am not giving up hope.  The missing trim over the bay window had rotted beyond repair and we have been unable to match it...might have to replace all the window top molding, but I hope not.  Clearly the landscaping  will have to wait until spring...

RIP Snowball

Summer 2011 - September 2013

Saturday morning I was awoken by a teary 11 year old, who told me one of his ducks had died.  He found her in the duck house that morning.  She was one of our original four ducklings that we got from Clem's (along with Nibbles, Sweetie and Ducky).  She didn't appear to be sick, but she hasn't been laying much lately and we think she may have had an impacted egg, which can be deadly.

Snowball, we will miss you and that goofy feather tuft on the top of your head.  Even Sweetie appears a bit bereft.  We buried her in the yard by the old shed, where Lucy (a previous owner's pet) was laid to rest.

Christmas in August...

Santa Larry (aka Dad) came for a visit about a week ago.  I don't know what happens when your Father visits, you, but mine brought with him a new shower valve.  Ok so maybe you aren't instantly jealous, but you have to understand that we have been using this

for the past almost three years as the old one broke/rotted off during our first week in the house.
We wanted to replace it, but also wanted to gut and remodel the entire bathroom and so kept putting it off...not thinking it would be three years later and now the vice grips are also starting to fail...

The funny thing is that the kids are so used to the vice grips that they didn't know how to work a shower dial!  My older one said, "wow that looks like a real shower knob".  It is!  My middle one said "how do you use it?".  My younger one said "don't think I am taking more baths."

The other fabulous side effect is the water no longer dribbles out, but is a torrent.  Water pressure, oh how I have missed you!

Here is an action shot of the newest hole in my wall...well worth it!

But wait...there is more...

We have these deck supports that are concrete footings.  There is no longer a deck, and the posts stick up just enough to trip you every time you walk by.  I have been asking the husband to get them out of here for three years now.  He spray painted them orange, but that doesn't help at night.  He also brought home some sort of gadget pry bar, but they are deep and did I mention, set in concrete...

So, my Dad has a Jeep, with a tow hook.  He hooked up a chain to the posts and ripped them out of the ground.  It was awesome.  We pulled out five big posts and also two tree roots that tripped you when walking behind the duck pen.

Woo Hoo!  Love you Dad.  Your vehicle is pretty cool too.

Friday, August 30, 2013


About this time last year we had a visit from a very big Hawk, named Dave, who tried to carry off one of our ducks and  nearly succeeded.  He hung around until about the beginning of winter and we haven't seen him since...

Now there is a new hawk in town, two actually.  They showed up when the husband and I were on duck duty.  Daisy sounded a loud quacking alarm and all the ducks hid under a bush (we had trouble finding them).  We safely locked everyone into the put under the bird netting (an essential item if you have poultry or water fowl).

The next morning the little bugger was sitting on top of the duck pen, waiting for his breakfast.

He is quite fearless (or should I say young and doesn't know better), and lets you get pretty close.  He has been hanging about the duck pen, so we got some reinforcement...

Yes, he is plastic, but seems to be doing the trick so far...haven't seen the hawk since we put him up.  Of course that could be coincidental...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bed for Rent

I don't know if you experience this at your houses, but my middle child is constantly playing musical beds.  I believe the reason she prefers not to sleep in her own bed is she doesn't want to make it in the morning.

It seems the boys are onto her.  Her older brother will not let her sleep in the bed unless she promises to make it in the morning.  She has reneged on this a few times and so he has refused to reconsider her access.  Now he says she will have to pay him.  So she stuffs herself into the twin lower bunk with her younger brother.  However, her younger brother is also onto her and has also decided to charge her rent.  Daddy suggested six cents per night, but he decided he wants six DOLLARS.

Nighttime is a bit interesting as she tries to negotiate the rental fees.  Just the other day I found this notice...the price is suspiciously the same as the rent...  I like that it has its own web address.

Of course when I broke my toe and asked her to help me out she said "Hey!  I should be getting paid for this!".  Really?  I asked her if she would like to see her bill of what she owed me and she agreed to work for free!

Why she doesn't just make her own bed in the morning is beyond me...or at least sleep on top of the covers or employ any of the tricks we learned as kids to make a less messy bed...  I found this one this morning, so I don't think the negotiations are over yet...
...and I have no idea what membership entails, so I asked Jack and the plot thickens a bit.  He said he made the membership cards.  Her rate is 5 cents a night plus making the bed in the morning or 10 cents a night.  The more she rents she earns points which can be redeemed for something, but he isn't sure what yet.

Interesting...The frightening part is that they have this whole system between themselves and were it not for the notes, I may not even know what was going on.  Right now it's just bed rentals, but as they get older it could be a lot worse.  I hope they keep putting things in writing and leaving them around!  Or, I can do what most parents this day and age do, just log-into their social media accounts and monitor them.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Meet Henry...

We are down to one unhatched egg and one duckling.  Isn't he adorable?!  Daisy has no idea that he is not biologically hers.  I say the duck that spent four weeks sitting on the egg, definitely deserves to be the Mother!

We won't know for awhile the gender, until it starts quacking.  Girls  have a loud duck quack and drakes a low pitched mumble.  Very distinctive, but right now it just does baby peeps.

We are hoping that we don't have an only duckling...  The other egg is getting darker, showing signs of black feathers under the egg shell.  If we do have another duckling hatch, then the name might change...  East Indie Anna & Jones baby  is named Henry, after Indiana Jones son.  If there end up being two of them I hear we may have instead Chocolate and Rain...  

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Duck Eggs...

This summer my son has decided to try and let some of his duck eggs hatch.  The trouble with this plan is that some of the domesticated ducks will not sit on their nests.  Ducky, our mallard, will sit on her nest, but complains loudly and gets bored and leaves to go play with the other ducks.  Anna, our East Indie bantam, makes nests and lays eggs around the yard, will sit for a few minutes and then abandons the whole project.  Snowball, our Pekin, just doesn't care about any of it.  Thankfully, there is Daisy.  She is some kind of Pekin hybrid who seems to still have an intact mothering instinct.

We noticed Daisy making nests in the duck house and also in the hay in the pen.  We need the nest to be protected within the pen.  Ducks lay one egg a day and once they get enough eggs they will start sitting.  We didn't want to hatch a bunch of the big ducks for space reasons, so we smuggled Anna's eggs into the nest when Daisy wasn't paying attention.

Once there was one Daisy egg and seven Anna eggs in there, she happily sat on them.

Ducks eggs take about 28 days to hatch (which is 7 days longer than chicken eggs).  We have all been patiently waiting, but then we noticed eggs disappearing.  The first egg that was missing was Daisy's big egg.  She was still sitting on the 7 of Anna's though.  After another few days we were missing two of the little eggs...  Finally we were down to four.  We had no idea what was happening to the eggs..

Then yesterday, the husband noticed a little black puff running about the pen and lo and behold we had a duckling!

So far the other three eggs have not hatched.  Today we noticed a bit of a stink.  The boys said it smelled like tuna fish.  Then we saw Daisy pick up the stinky egg and chuck it out of the pen!  Unfortunately, it was a almost formed duckling that just did not survive.  The egg disappearing mystery solved.  Somehow ducks must know when the eggs are viable and get rid of those that are not.  Jack said that he did find a few eggs outside the nest that were squishy...

We are down to to two eggs...waiting to see what happens with those...they are hoping the other two hatch so then the boys can name them Mo, Larry and Curly.  Mom is hoping they are all female!!!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring, Finally!

It looks like it might finally be safe to think that spring has arrived...the Saucer Magnolia tree is in full bloom as is the forsythia, daffodils, and hyacinths. The tulips are just starting to open as well.
Close up of Blossoms

Saucer Magnolia Tree in Full Bloom

Full bloom!  Last year a frost killed all the blossoms before they opened.  This year is quite spectacular.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Up a Tree

This morning we noticed a strange nest high up in the tree by the driveway.
Upon closer examination it seemed to be a very large raccoon!

According to MassWildlife, "Raccoons are mostly crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) and nocturnal (active at night), however they may be active during the day if food is available. Daytime activity does not mean that the raccoon is diseased." MassWildlife Racoons

I wonder what "food" it might be looking for...according to Yahoo and Wikipedia the answer to "Will a raccoon eat a duck" is a resounding "YES!"...

Here is an article from a Walla Walla Park blaming a raccoon for eating chickens, ducks and peacocks!

According to Mass Audubon, Raccoons are omnivores, eating both plant and animal matter, and opportunistic in seeking their food. During spring and early summer, insects, aquatic animals, mice and other small mammals, and bird and turtle eggs typically make up a large part of their diet. In the late summer, fall and winter, raccoons tend to consume more plant material such as seeds, grains, and wild fruits. Actually, there is very little a raccoon will not eat. Consequently, raccoons inhabiting suburban and urban areas often become night raiders of garbage cans and backyard gardens.

The ducks complained loudly, but we kept them inside their pen!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Phase II - Internet Connectivity...Check!

Last Night we moved the Cable Internet and Phone line from the dining room into the remodeled office.
Ready to fish the Internet line into the new wall...
Of course, nothing is without its challenges...  The fishing line broke off and created a bit of a dilemma as to how to get the cable into the box...  Thankfully the hallway is still unfinished and we were able to remove a piece of wallboard to fish the wire that way... Someone put the wallboard on extra snug (and then added a door) so there was a bit of cussing...
The husband stuffing himself behind the now-removed wallboard to fish wire through to box on other side...

Line in, desk moved, Internet and Phone re-connected. Amazingly enough, everything is WORKING!!

The wall before...
The wall after...more mess...
I heard a rumor that the hallway might be next...note to self, finish wiring before putting up the wallboard!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The bookcase is finished!

The bookcase is finished! And filled...not sure where we are going to put our "books", we managed to fill it with games and craft projects.  The antique desk has become full of Cassie's supplies... the upper shelves are filled with plastic containers full of glitter, pom-poms, glue sticks, beads, etc.
Priming and painting...

Final take s very steady hand...

Maybe we need two...??!!

Look, the bookshelf is taller than me!