Monday, December 10, 2018

Snow Blow One

We had overnight what I consider to be our first official snow fall. 
It falls into that category because I had to break out the snow blower. I covered my regular territory of the driveway, the alley next to the driveway, the sidewalk on Wall, and the sidewalk on Waverly Place. I also did a little on Cleaveland. 

Since it was my day off, I got to do it at a leisurely pace. 

The snow blower ran great at first, but started acting up and surging as I finished up the alley. The snow there was really wet and I had to stop and clear the barrel several times. I'm going to go get some STP or other such gasoline additive to help blow out the junk and super fortify my existing old gas.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Out With One Season and On to the Next

It's December now so we are tearing down Thanksgiving and Autumn and proceeding directly to Christmas.

We have been painting sky walks for the last two weeks so we needed to take a day to relax and regroup. Susan isn't getting a lot of that. Even today, she had to go to the Arena at 4:00 to work a Metalica concert.

The local C.O.P.S. shops sponsored a Carriage ride around the park today. It was to go from noon to 2 but so many people showed up that they went until 3:30.
I was putting up lights outside and watching the crowds come and go. I listened from the balcony as a young mother and her friend walked by complaining that they had planned the whole thing all wrong, not having more horses so she and her son could ride. The whole time she liberally used the "f" word as a noun, verb, adjective, as her son held her hand. With a mother like that, he doesn't have a chance.
I finally got the lights up and Susan got a good start on Mantleville. It's a good start on the Christmas Season.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Fall Harvest

It was a beautiful crisp Autumn day with a bright blue sky and a crap load of leaves that needed to be put in their place. 

We did good! We got the leaves cleaned up and bagged and the yard is ready for winter. 

This is my harvest of leaves, 525 gallons or about 80 bushels. That's a total guess on the bushels part. There are 21 thirty gallon bags containing approximately 25 gallons of leaves per bag.

You may also notice that these bags are nestled in a bed of leaves. I'll get those in the spring.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Pumpkin Toss

When we get to the Annual Great Pumpkin Toss, you know that the Halloween Season has come to an end.

It was a beautiful day for the Toss with bright sunny skies and temperatures in the 50's.

Here are some pictures.
Susan is holding her Pineapple O'Lantern.

All the contestants scored lots of points for splatter.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Twenty-Eighteen

7:58AM: Halloween is not starting out on a positive note. It is raining. It has been raining all night and continues into the morning. Even if it stops for the evening, it is going to be wet and sloppy out there.

The good news for me is that I may not even have to bother with the Flying Ghost. Wetness is the enemy of the Flying Ghost. We shall see how it goes.

11:37AM: Progress is progressing slowly in the yard. The rain stopped and it's not as wet out as I thought. 

I have successfully achieved a working flying ghost, although it has been paired down to single flying ghost between two posts rather than three.

Susan had to run in to work for a couple hours this morning but she has returned and she and her cousin, Louise and prepping food. I'm getting out ladders and some of the decorations. 

3:00PM: Everything is coming together.
We are operating smoothly and we will be ready for the throngs by 4:30.

10:07 PM: The evening is over and the total number of haunted visitors is somewhere between 17 and 18 hundred. The discrepancy comes from two houses that keep count with a clicker and the times they quit giving out candy. Let's just say we had a crap load of little ghouls relieve us of hundreds of pieces of candy

In the meantime, here are some pictures.

I'm going to bed!

Friday, October 26, 2018

'Ween and Wine

One sure sign that Halloween is only days away is that inevitably, it will start to rain. The rain started yesterday and as of this morning, has not let up. 

That means that tomorrow, I will be raking (not blowing) very wet leaves in preparation for Wednesday night.
We've gotten started on getting Halloween set up but still have a long way to go. This weekend will be busy and I'm taking Wednesday off in order to fine tune everything.

However, I have much to get caught up on prior to discussing Halloween.

The main thing is an update on our 2018 batch of Petite Verdot wine. Last Monday, I went to Jim's Home Brew to rent their fruit press. 
For the past several years I have gone through the long and futile task and squeezing the juice out of my grape pulp by hand. When I realized that Jim's had the press available, I jumped on it. Best $25.00 rental I've spent.
So I set everything up in what appeared to be the most efficient way to move the pulp out of my primary fermenter and into the secondary.

I placed my mesh bag into the barrel of the press in order to make removing the pressed pulp that much easier.

I then began ladling the pulp into the barrel until I had it full. At that point, I began to turn the press and clamp down on the berries as the pressed juice flowed out.

I had an unfortunate accident as I got a little bit too carried away in my pulp transfer. When I was finally able to lift the primary and pour the pulp and remaining juice through the press, I forgot that the catch tray has a very low lip. That caused me a little extra clean up that I had not counted on.
All in all, it took about two hours from start to clean up and I had just over six gallons and pressed juice to ferment.

The must is currently bubbling away in the kitchen. I'll check the gravity tomorrow but I think it still has a way to go.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Prepping for the "Ween"

Fall has definitely hit the Inland Empire and it is a beautiful Autumn day out thar.

Susan is working Disney on Ice all weekend so she has a very limited window in which she can get stuff done.

And since I accomplished so little in the area of Halloween decorating last Monday, it is up to me to get stuff done.

I'm starting with the front porch with a small easy project, putting up the lights.

But first, we have to get stuff down from the Carriage House.

Okay, the stuff is down and Susan has left for work. In the time that has passed since the last paragraph, I have visited Jim's Home Brew and had our grape juice tested. It has too much acid in it and to solve that problem, I mixed 43 grams of Calcium Carbonate into a cup of luke warm water and added it to the must barrel.

With the wine squared away for the day, I'm going out to hang some lights.

4:41PM: Finally, I got the lights up and I am good for the day, Here are some pictures.

The Cougars of Washington State are playing the University of Oregon Ducks and they've just been intercepted and Oregon has the ball waaaaay down on the Cougs 5 yard line.

I'm going to go get a burger and watch the rest of the first half at the Hub.

8:45PM: The Cougars are victorious! They beat the Ducks 34-20. They held them to zero points in the first half. Oregon made it interesting in the third quarter but the Cougs managed to hold them off.

Me drink beer now!!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Wine Weekend

Last evening, we returned from our annual trip to the Yakima Valley Region in the great state of Warshington. We go down and buy grapes for our quasi-professional wine making hobby.

This year, we made it down for "The Crush" weekend, a yearly festival of wines and wine making and most importantly, wine drinking.

Both Susan and I made an extra special effort to not drink too much thereby causing one to return to the hotel room by 2PM and nap for the rest of the day. I did a lot of spitting.

I think we visited 7 or 8 wineries between 11:00 and 5:00 on Saturday. We spent the first part of the day roaming around the region known as Rattlesnake Hills. We went to many wineries that we had been to before and at least two that were new to us. We ended up in Prosser, which seemed to be the epicenter of all the Crush activity.

At the end of the day, we returned to our Bed and Breakfast town of Sunnyside and went to dinner at Snipes Mountain. This is another regular stop for us, as they have really good wood fired pizza.

We returned to the room and watched "The Road to Perdition". We had seen it before, although Susan swears she had not. For me, it was much more enjoyable the second time.

We always stay at the Sunnyside Inn, in part because they give us a great breakfast. That was the case again this year on both Saturday and Sunday.

We began our Sabbath wine tasting adventure at 14 Hands. Susan bought a bottle there to start us off for the day. Our next stop was one of our favorites, DavenLor. We always return with a resealable bottle which they switch out for a full bottle of Recovery Red.

By then, we were starting to get burned out on wine tasting but we still had some places to visit. We always go to Kestrell because we are in their wine club and always buy a case of "Lady in Red". It a good wine that ends up costing about eight bucks a bottle.

By then it was 1:00 and we decided it was time to go pick up our grapes.

I haven't mentioned that we were accompanied on this trip by Susan's friend Ellen. We got Ellen involved in wine making several years ago and this will be her first attempt at making wine from scratch. In other words, from grapes rather than a kit.

We are buying from a new source this year since our old source, Patricia O'Brien, retired and sold her farm.

We ended up buying from her nephew, Chad. We agreed to meet at 3:00 for the pickup. We were hoping we could arrive early. On the way, we decided to stop at one last winery, Barrel Springs, because this was another new one for us and it was on the way.

It was a very nice place and they paired up a bunch of cheeses with their wine. They also had a feature that caught my attention enough to take one of the few pictures I took this weekend.
They had a piano bar similar to mine and it was for sale for about $2,000.00. Theirs was different from mine in that they left the harp in the piano, which make it substantially heavier. It also cuts down on the room you have inside to store bottle.

But it also had a beautiful wine rack built into the bottom of the piano. It was very cool and the workmanship was excellent.

From Barrel Springs, we drove another four miles out into the plains of Prosser to the O'Brien Farms location where we were to pick up our grapes.

We got there about 1:30

We arrived to an empty farm. Nobody was there. We decided in the interest of time and in order to get Ellen back to town that we would load all our luggage into Ellens car in order to make room for all the ice chests we needed for the grapes.

Then we all drove to one last winery, Terra Blanca. This is a winery with ridiculously over priced bottles because they have to pay for the magnificent building they have erected.

We went in for a tasting because it was part of the passport we purchased and then we sent Ellen on her way back to Spokane. 

Susan and I returned to O'Brien Farms only to find it still empty. We decided to wait for half an hour for Chad to show up. It only took five minutes.Chad arrived and I wrote him a check for $200.00. We transferred the grapes into the various ice chests and where on our way.

Then we drove to one last winery because Susan wanted to use the bathroom. This was another favorite of ours called Chandler Reach.

It's located right off the freeway and is really a nice place.

During our tasting, we discovered that they may be willing to sell small batches of grapes. I got the card of the General Manager and will contact her in the next couple of days.

We got in the car and began our two and a half hour return to Spokane. Ellen had stopped at the house and dropped off all our stuff. We had the grapes which we will be crushing on Wednesday.

It was a great weekend but boy was I beat! That's why we only do this once a year.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Boiler Game Conclusion

If you are playing the Boiler Game and you picked today as the day we would turn on the heat, you loose.

It might be the earliest end of the Boiler Game in the competition's 12 year history.

I filled the system on Saturday morning and almost immediately ran into a disaster. I closed the valve on the boiler and started filling the system. After 20 minutes, I realized the leak in the Dining Room had resumed. I charged upstairs and closed the valve on the radiator in the upstairs bedroom. 

I could not believe my stupidity for allowing it to happen again but I was equally mystified at how quickly the system filled. Especially on a trickle.

I was pissed! Susan was really pissed!! Fortunately, the leak subsided and no damage was done.

The other concern was leaks in the TV Room where the pipes for the temporarily removed radiator have been capped. All was well in there as well.

So, with the system filled and free of leakage, I lit the pilot light on the boiler on Sunday evening. Only one person guessed September 30th. 

Congratulations to Eldon Fanortner of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Mr. Fanortner will receive a package of cheese curds and a Gift Certificate for 15% off an oil change at any one of the 5 local locations of Spokane Lube and Oil.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Second Crush

We fired up the Grape Crusher again tonight.

I was put in contact with Nate by James at Jim's Home Brew. He was the first guy to contact me about renting the crusher. 
Consequently, I quoted him a really low number for using the Crusher. $10.00 per 100 pounds. 

I have since raised it to $10.00 per 50 pounds. I think we may also add a cleaner fee of $25.00.

Nate did a one day trip to Walla Walla, picked 300 pounds of grapes from two different vineyards and then drove back to Spokane, arriving at our house at 7:30 to crush.

We set up in the garage with a tarp on the floor. I think we did the whole 300 pounds in about an hour.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Accomplishment Man

It's my Monday off and the plan was to finish the dry walling. Which we did. I started about 9:30 and Phil showed up about 10:30.

We finished up in an hour and a half. I spent some time after Phil left working on some electrical issues I had to deal with. With that accomplished, it was time to try and clean up the porch. I did okay but the porch really needs to be hosed down and thoroughly gone over.

I loaded up the left over dry wall and hauled it to Habitat for Humanity. The rest will go the dump next weekend.

So now it's about 2:30 and I have accomplished my major goals. I'm going to try and do a couple of other things but I also may not do those things.

I'll leave this post open and update you on my continuing accomplishments or lack thereof.

3:53PM: I actually did some good. I did a little bit of organizing in the garage. When I say "A little bit", I mean a very little bit. However, my "little bit " was enough to make room in the garage for the new grape crusher. 

I have a guy coming by the house tomorrow at 7PM to crush 300 pounds of grapes. For that, we will be paid $30.00. I have since learned that that is not enough. I quoted him $10.00 per 100 pounds. It should be $10-$15.00 per 50 pounds plus a cleaning fee.

Oh well, I'm learning.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Spokane Preservation Association Tour of Homes

The tour of homes was today and four houses were open on Corbin Park. Susan and I set up a booth for our Home Owners Association. We were just making an appearance and handing out a little pamphlete that is a walking tour of the houses around the park.

Our neighbors, Ted and Rhonda took over for us at 2:00 and we toured the houses. Only one of the houses was one we had not been in before so it was worth it to get in and snoop.

It turned out to be a little bit of a chilly day but it's the end of September. What do you expect?!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Prepping for Tour of Homes

It is 2:30 and I am beat. It's not that we did that much. I just have very low stamina.

Nonetheless, we got the Carriage House painted on the alley side of the building where we scraped and primed a couple of weekends ago. So that project is in the books.

Then we went to work on the front yard to clean out the flower beds and make the yard look half way presentable. We can only do so much with what we have.

Hence the beatness of me. It doesn't take much.

The Spokane Preservation Society, of which we are a part, is having it's annual tour of older homes tomorrow and it's all here around the park. There are only four homes on the tour whereas usually there are six to eight. 

But we thought we should clean up as best we can to show a good face for the neighborhood.

Now I'm going to get cleaned up and prepare to go to an OctoberFest celebration somewhere in the Valley.

Mmmmmmmmm,  Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer!

Monday, September 24, 2018


It is my Monday off and today we tackled the drywall. Phil got here about 10:00 and we went to work on completing this project. 

There were a few little obstacles that kept our progress from going through fluidly. But we overcame the obstacles and got most of the drywall up.

The obstacles all dealt with electricity. I had to change out a fourplex box of outlets that will be used for the TV. There was another outlet that had to be disconnected and then reconnected once the drywall was in place.

We ended up running out of sheets. I purchased 12 sheets for a total of about $150.00. I'm not sure we used the sheets as efficiently as we could have. But it's hard to parcel out the sheets when every sheet we used had to be cut down in some fashion.

I think I'm going to try and use up the small pieces of drywall I have and then Phil and I can finish up on Saturday.