Friday, January 22, 2010

Fun Floorz

The vacationers arrived home yesterday afternoon exhausted from travel and happy to be home. Chloe and Hazel knew that I was busy transforming the second floor into a more livable space while they were running around on the beach and submerging themselves in the hot tub. What they didn't know was that their room now had a pink and green polka dot floor. They were floored when they saw it, pardon the pun.

I had mixed feelings about the floor as it was going down. It's visual impact was hard to predict. The girl's room is kind of like stepping into a scene in Alice In Wonderland. The rest of the floor is less jarring but is distracting nonetheless. It's durable, easy-to-clean stuff though. Good for as long as we can tolerate it. That may turn out to be a long, long time given the list of higher priority projects. The drywall is no longer shedding dust, and the windows in our bedroom and Michelle's office turned out beautifully. Another marathon of work is over. I spent a good chunk of today reading to Hazel and falling asleep in the process.

Our barn now has chickens. Twenty-eight laying hens busy laying eggs. I have never been close to chickens before, and I'm slowly becoming a chicken guy. A friend lent me a couple of chicken books and I'm learning the in's and out's of chickens. Not much to it really.

Michelle will post pictures of the second floor.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Two Weeks

Michelle, Chloe and Hazel are off to Florida for a couple weeks. In their absence I'm going to try to finish one bedroom (0urs) and paint, or at least prime, the entire second floor. The only unknown in this equation is trimming the windows. It should be perfect joint compound drying weather so at least I've got that going for me. I'm going to leave the flooring as a complete surprise. I was struggling with the options in terms of wood flooring that would fit our budget and produce satisfying results. So I found something that...well, let's just say that the kids will love it.

Today, before they leave we're going to work on a space in the barn for some laying hens in need of a home. I don't know exactly how many yet. Something around twenty. Their owners are off to New Haven for a while, and we, along with a our neighbors, are taking over.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Home Again

We've been back from the holidays for a few days now. Our house was just as it should have been upon our return. If we had a programmable thermostat, we would have been able to see how cold or how warm it had gotten when we were gone. I did note that there was water in the overflow tray of the solar storage tank meaning that the water in the tank had gotten so warm that a pressure relief valve had let a little out. If there is a flaw in the system, it is that the two parts, the solar and the propane back-up, work well together when heating our hot water but not when heating the space. To most efficiently heat the space I have to be here to manipulate the system. If I'm not here to press buttons, the benefit of solar heat going into the slab is lost. One problem is that the heat is controlled by thermostat. Since the house is passive solar, on any day that there's solar heat for the slab it's already warmer inside than the temperature set on the thermostat. So at the time when it would be free (no propane use) to add heat to the slab, nothing happens. When I'm home at a time like this, I turn up the thermostat for a few hours and the excess solar heat flows through the concrete. The result is impossible to measure, but imagine, for example, that the 1000 square feet of concrete goes from 65F to 67F in the few hours I'm able to dump heat in. At 3am when it's in the single digits outside, those two degrees are slowly seeping from the slab, keeping the house just a little warmer. As the day lengthens throughout the course of winter, on sunny days there'll be more and more of this excess heat for the slab. By March the days we'll need supplemental heat from the wood stove will be few.

Michelle and the girls are off to Florida soon. My job is to transform as much of the upstairs space as possible when they're gone. Painting, trimming windows, painting the plywood floors. I should be able to put a large dent in it in ten days.

A nor'easter dumped a foot of snow yesterday and last night. Today might be good for building snow forts.