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Showing posts from August, 2021

Waiting On Sand

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Life would be a lot simpler if I lived on an area with a flat lawn but you can't get everything it seems. And so I spent a lot of time filling in the forms so that any concrete I pour into them doesn't end up at the bottom of the hill and pounding a lot of stakes and bracing to keep the forms in place when the immense weight of the concrete is poured into the form.  Initially when I started this project, I had hoped that the dirt from the rat barrier would be enough to fill up much of the inside so that things were level but after digging one side of it, I canned that idea. A rat barrier is a narrow trench that get dugs in around the inside perimeter of the future concrete slab to prevent rodents and such from digging up underneath the concrete and making it a deluxe apartment. I also think it probably helps keep the structure rooted in place. The dirt from digging the rat barrier is dried out clay and it would take a lot of moisture and effort to pack it down dense enough that

Vacation Scenery Part Two

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  On our second day, we stopped at another garden to stretch our legs between meals and kids activities.  There was an old fashioned sundial and I put my own watch on it for reference to show that someone had forgotten to adjust the sundial for daylight savings time.  Another Monet shot of lilipads. We also went to Madison's farmer's market which is well known for its size and variety. While we were sitting later eating some of our purchases, I noticed this mural painted on a building and thought it snap worthy. Some of our purchases. We used these for breakfasts to avoid the motel breakfast and also snacks in our car on the longer drive times. Another scene I just sort of stumbled upon and thought it snap worthy. Looking to get out of the heat for awhile, we stepped into the state capital for a looksee. Like most state capitals, I spent a lot of time looking up. In any other capital one might see a majestic eagle adorning such a scene but not in Wisconsin. I presume this was a

Vacation Scenery Part One

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One of our first stops was to a small museum in a university building dedicated to physics experiments. Unfortunately, this picture through the very clean door glass was as close as we got as it was closed probably due to Covid. There was no sign explaining why it wasn't open. So we took the long way back to our vehicle by walking through a garden in front of another one of the college campus buildings. This one even had grapes growing on a garden arbor and there may or may not be a few of them missing when they go to harvest them. Trying to capture a bee busy at work harvesting pollen. We continued on to Olbrich Gardens which we had stopped once before but in late fall when it was cold and most of the displays were heading towards dormancy. This time everything was green and lush. I couldn't help but let my inner Monet take a picture of the lily pads. Underwater rock garden and fountain. Japanese style pagoda being worked on. Sleeping lion  I'm not sure what the things in

Vacation Food Edition

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About a week ago you may or may not have noticed my absence for a few days. We took one last small minivacation before school started by driving to Madison, Wisconsin, a town we have visited a few times over the years. This vacation has a few goals. It was meant to let the kids burn off some coped up Covid steam, to allow us to try some new to us foods and restaurants, and just to spend some time walking and relaxing.  This post is all about the food and our first meal was at Dotty's Dumplings which is known not for their dumplings (aren't even on the menu) but for their burgers. Above was my burger which besides the cheese had all the fixings and a garlic mayo sauce. It was quite delicious.  Old readers will know that we like to hit up farm to table restaurants where ever we go and do we made a stop at the Heritage Tavern which is a well known one in the area. Above was the appetizer of deviled eggs three ways. My entrĂ©e was heritage pork snitzel from the pigs the owner of the

Updated Plans

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With it being so hot, I do have some time, quite a bit actually, during late mornings and afternoons to do other things so I touched up my framing plans for this project. Nothing earth shattering but should help me get a lumber count so I can just pay for delivery once. I don't think I will try to haul all this in the minivan over countless trips. I'm still deciding how I want the doors for the storage side of the building. Ideally I would like to make it rodent proof while still having a 72 inch wide opening. Not sure if I can do that with home built doors. So more thought and research is needed.

Reverse Dentistry

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  What a week to start a project like this. Within 60 minutes of starting to work on this at 6:30 a.m., I am soaked with sweat just as if I had just come out of a swimming pool. I move slowly and the breeze helps but it doesn't take long before I am completely dehydrated and in need of a fresh set of clothes. I have gotten the cracks all sealed to prevent concrete from oozing out the bottom of the forms and now need to pound in a lot more stakes and do bracing on the back side especially. Concrete is very heavy and exerts a lot of force. I am also going to see about getting a load of sand delivered while the ground is dry to help level out the interior of the form so not as much concrete is needed. The rest of the week is supposed to be just as hot so work sessions will be early in the morning and short in duration. Then we have a few days off for one last vacation before school starts and then the following week is supposed to be 15 degrees cooler on average so I hope to finish up

Jellyfish

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  Our oldest has been wanting a pet for a long time. Ideally she wants a cat but there are a few issues with that. We like to take vacations, sometimes two or three weeks at a time and can't bring a cat with us. Our neighbors are mostly retired and gone for long periods of time. Thus far, we have no friend that would particularly want or even enjoy looking after a cat and there is no family nearby anymore who might drop in and check on the thing. There is also dealing with cat hair, litterboxes, having to make a special trip to a store we don't normally go to just to get pet food, etc. So we have said no thus far.  Earlier this year, the oldest, hit upon a clever idea. She asked for jellyfish instead. I didn't even know they were available to obtain as pets having only seen them in zoo aquariums and dead on the ocean shore. But she had thoroughly researched the subject and had links she sent me to sites selling jelly fish and necessary supplies. So we relented and bought he

Greenhouse Part Two

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 Every good building needs a solid foundation. After kicking around various thoughts for awhile, we finally settled on concrete. It is a one and done foundation and eliminates space under the structure for various varmints and critters to call home.  But as you can see above with our forms leveled out, our property has a fair amount of slope even on this "flatter" section of our lawn. None the less, we are proceeding though it will mean a fair amount of work.  With my wife's help one weekend, we dug in the uphill side of the form and leveled it out. I wanted to dig it in to keep the backside height of concrete to a minimum and to keep the frontside height of concrete low enough I can drive a mower right into the building easily and yet not have water run down the slop and into the building. If everything goes as planned, there will be a two inch step down to the lawn on the lawnmower storage side of this building.  By the time we got the front done, it was killing hot and

Greenhouse Part One

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 One of the deficiencies in having our garden 40 miles away at the farm is that we don't have access to a greenhouse. There is a greenhouse there but without daily care, it is for the most part useless to us. Having a greenhouse would allow us to raise things from seed to provide earlier crops before the dry months of late summer hit or longer season stuff like peppers. My wife also dreams of sticking some house plants out there in the summer months instead of living all their lives indoors.  When we purchased this property, I moved in with a tiny 16" push mower which wasn't up to the task of keeping up over 2 acres of lawn on steep slopes. The people we bought the house from gave me the phone number to their mower guy and I gave him a call. His price was such that to buy a new mower would probably take five to six years of paying him to pay off. As it turned out with several dry years in there, it was closer to eight. I would eventually like to get a mower to do it myself

Down the Rabbit Hole

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After finding and writing the previous post, I found another article written about Fred H. Grattan that was a lot more in depth and just a classic example of writing at the time. It also led me down a rabbit hole of sorts. But first, here is the article:  What caught my eye was the mention of the (sic) Drageger Pulmotor. A quick search shows that it is actually the Drager Pulmotor and was pretty revolutionary at the time and Fred was the first person who wasn't revived by it though I am assuming that is a very local reference. Here is a Wikipedia entry on it. The wiki article mentions that these devices were troublesome because they couldn't detect blockages of the airway, a problem that Fred evidently had according to the article. None the less, they were heavily advertised in period newspapers of the time. Too bad it didn't save Fred, but then again, had it saved Fred, I wouldn't be in contact with the branch of my family tree that I wrote about in the last post. A re

Deaths of a Family

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George Thomas Heppenstall on right. I recently received an email from someone asking if I had any information on George Thomas Heppenstall, the adult man in the photo above. It was a name I was familiar with only because of a ten year struggle to determine the knotted puzzle left behind by my Chicken/Baker ancestors. Before I knew about the name change from Chicken to Baker, I had gone down my family tree looking for clues and thus ran into the story of George Thomas Heppenstall. After my third great grandfather Joseph Chicken/Baker, the person who did the name change for reasons unknown, his wife Frances Ann Bolton Baker married a man by the name of Thomas H. Heppenstall. Thomas's family were English immigrants much like the parents of Joseph and wife Frances and all three of them had spent time at one point in Colchester, Illinois. Thus I assume they were all acquainted with one another and so not entirely unreasonable for them to marry after Joseph died his untimely death. The m

The Peach Tree

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Growing up, my parents had a peach tree in our front yard and I always enjoyed eating those fresh peaches on a hot summer day. So when my wife and I hit upon the idea of planting an orchard instead of giving out favors at our wedding, I had to get a couple peach trees included. The day after our wedding we planted them out in the canary grass buffer behind all the farm buildings and pretty much forgot about them for the next 15 or so years.  I guess the reason is that aside from the apple trees, they never produced a lot of fruit. The deer evidently love peach trees and kept them heavily pruned, killing the other one. Probably the same went for the two sour cherry trees we planted. One apple tree however did alright and we did pick some apples off it from time to time but that was the extent of our use of the orchard. So when the garden fencing idea took fruition, we enclosed the old orchard remnants and I have kept it mowed this past year. With the deer now not welcome the old peach t

Roundabouts

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 Since I have moved to the town where I currently live, the city has installed three roundabouts with plans for another one in the works. Each time they do, especially in the beginning, the local social media is inundated with people furious at the decision. They generally fall into two camps. The first camp is that nobody knows how to use them and so it is a waste of money. For sure, I have been behind some extremely timid people scared to enter into the traffic circle until it is completely devoid of vehicles and others who stop at the yield sign even when it is devoid of vehicles. But, in the years since they have been built, even behind such people, it is still much faster and safer to travel through those three intersections than it was prior to them. On one intersection, I had sometimes to sit for upwards of five minutes to make a left turn across traffic during busy times of the day and since the round about, I've never sat for more than a handful of seconds (if behind that