Tomatoes Caprese

We planted fewer tomatoes this year but some different varieties. I gathered some a few minutes ago. You can see there are several different types but always Meg seems to find uses for them.

About 10 minutes after I brought the tomatoes into the house, Meg made us both a Caprese Sandwich (which is fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and sweet basil, with balsamic vinegar and olive oil on a baguette.)

About 10 minutes after that, I finished eating mine.

Haul Road

A friend shared this AK daylight post recently. This shows the hours daylight in different parts of Alaska today on Summer Solstice.

That line going north from Fairbanks is mostly the Dalton Hwy, close to fire hundred miles, almost all gravel road parallel to the Trans Alaska Pipeline. Nicknamed the “haul road” for the huge trucks that use it haul equipment and supplies up to Prudhoe Bay, I looked it up on Google and was surprised to learn it is consider one of loneliest and Most Dangerous Roads in the World. I never knew that.

I and several of my friends have driven this road many times; most have a haul road story or two. I’ll share one of mine.

It was deep into winter, pitch black with Northern Lights, and nothing but ice and snow. Then down the hill came a huge haul road truck. Keep in mind there are steep grades up to 12% on this road. I knew it couldn’t slow down so I pulled as far over to the edge as possible. As he passed, my windshield just exploded from a huge rock thrown up by the truck. I felt grateful for the hardened glasses I wore but unhappy my thermos cup of hot coffee had glass in it. I knocked out the rest of the windshield to clear the loose pieces.

Our vehicles had emergency radios but I decided I was fine. All of us had Arctic Survival Training and we were required to carry a whole duffel bag full of Arctic Survival Gear on the haul road. I pulled several items from my duffel bag and continued. When driving at 35 to 40 degrees below zero without a windshield, you quickly figure out that if you drive too slowly, you’d be out there freezing forever. If you drive too fast, the wind chill would soon bring dangerous frost bite. I found a compromise speed; did get a bit of ‘frostnip’ but made it to my destination just fine. BTW – driving the haul road in the summer can be incredibly beautiful.

Remodel Update

We are making lots of progress on remodeling. well actually on the demolition of our master bathroom. Our primary tools remain pretty simple, the 5 in 1 Painters Tool, a Wonder Bar, and a hammer. Occasionally, I use another tool, like a screwdriver, or a sledge hammer I borrowed from a friend. Below is a quick progress video showing the room before demo and showing where we are now.

Meg Painting

We are still making progress on our master bathroom but I caught Meg laying down on the job today.

She’s actually painting in the Master Bathroom closet which has lots of shelves.

I did do most of the bathroom demolition and destruction but that’s my specialty.

But Meg says she had kids like me in her thrid and fourth grade classes and she is pretty convinced I didn’t color inside the lines then or I don’t now.

So she basically keeps painting indoor areas visible to people to herself though I am occasionally allowed to do some broad expanses of wall or ceiling, and something like that but not near the edges.

New Tent

Meg told me not long ago that if we go traveling this summer, she doesn’t want to be crawling around anymore in the dark in any little bitty tent.
I bet she will be thrilled when she opens the package that came today – an REI Co-op Wonderland 4 Tent that I ordered. She can even stand up in it.

I also got a neat little battery lanturn at Costco. I think I’ve covered everything….

Removing A Mirror

Removing any large mirror glued to the wall with construction adhesive is always a challenge. And it can be a dangerous job. We had this 60″ x 42″ mirror on the wall in our master bathroom and it had to go.

(Actually, I’m not sure why it had to go but that’s what Meg said.)

However we have done this before. Our method has worked really well so we want to share how we do this with others.

First we covered the whole mirror with contract paper with lots of overlap. This was just a roll of Walmart house brand 18″ wide contact paper. Then we added some several strips of spare duct tape we had for extra support and safety.

Next I begin prying gently upward from the bottom of the mirror. Mostly I pried with my Wonder Bar. Sometimes the glue or sheetrock would give way, sometimes it would not. But eventually the mirror glass would break, sometimes into many pieces and sometimes into just a few very big pieces.

One time a piece was coming loose that was too big for me to handle safely. I simple stopped and tapped it lightly with my hammer. It broke it into a two or three smaller pieces that stayed in place to the contact paper.

Whenever I identified a larger piece or group of small pieces that was safe to handle that I was ready to remove, I used my box cutter to cut the contact paper and duct tape that held it in place. Then I dropped it directly in the trash.

It really worked well and 99% of the glass pieces stayed trapped by the contact paper. One small 1″x 2″ piece fell to the floor during this whole process.

Safety glasses, leather gloves, hard topped boots or shoes and so forth are all recommended.

I’ve shared our process with some contractors who said they really liked the idea and would try it themselves…..

Trash Day

Ever stumble into something with perfect timing?

Meg had noticed that today was Spring Clearnup day in our area. The trash people were picking everything. The people on our street put out so little. I saw only one other family with anything – a half garbage bag of whatever.

We made up for this poor showing of the rest of our neighbors. We put out the two big sliding shower doors, a toilet, two sinks, huge hunks of vanity pieces and boxes of cement board and ceramic tile pieces and more.

We are starting the remodeling today with a lot more space to work in…..

Bathroom Remodel Starts

In past years we first remodeled the little half bath in the hallway. Then we remodeled our guest bathroom. This year Meg wants to remodel the Master Bathroom.

The master bath really looks pretty good but there are many issues that don’t show. The original construction was in 1996. Twenty-six years of regular use, wear and tear has left its mark. It needs to be done

We went to Experience Idaho at the Idaho State Fairground earlier this month. It featured local vendors. Meg looked at all the displays and selected a bathroom remodeler to come by to look at our place and give us a quote for remodeling the bathroom.

With the current inflation, the prices for material, hardward and labor costs has soared. They certainly surprised me. It suddenly hit me – the estimate to remodel our current bathroom was more that twice as much as my dad had paid for the house I was raised in. Just seemed weird.

We understand this is a pretty big and complex remodeling project that will require lots of different skills and tasks. We do have some skills and we really enjoyed working together last year on our guest bathroom even though it was a lot of work. In this particular project, we learned a surprising percentage of the cost is for clearning the existing stuff out of the way.

We decided not to sign the contract and to take the lead ourselves. We wll contract out work that requires specials skills and tools we don’t have. We are always cautions that DIY (Do It Yourself) can save money – unless you mess things up even worse.

We have some bathroom ideas we’ve never seen actually seen anyone do. We think our ideas are creative and would suit our needs nicely so we are going to give them a try.

With the long lead times on so many things, we won’t feel rushed. And we are really fortunate.; we have a guest bathroom we can use in the meantime.

Today we decided to pick one task and start. We picked “remove the ceramic tile floor.” The ceramic tiles are on cement backer board over plywood. We soon learned the original builder did a great job on putting down this floor. You have to fight for every inch you remove.

It felt good to begin. It was a reminder that construction often starts with destruction.

Snow Day & Jade

Yesterday we saw the first hummerbird come to our house. We quickly got two hummingbird feeders out, filled, and hung them. We didn’t expect to see any this early. Today, on May 9, we had an unexpected morning snow. Snow in Boise in May has happened only 8 times since 1882.

I was planning to plant annuals, petunia and violas today but we decided to bring them in due to the snowfall and freezing temperatures tonight. We had some tomotoe plants for the garden and brought them in by the back door. .

To the right on the entry way table is a jade vase. It was my second gift to Meg, It’s next to a ‘boulder’ of the same jade that I got many years later. This Alaskan Jade is called Kobuk River Jade after the river in the Brooks Range where it is found. We really like this kind of jade.

As as aside, my first gift for Meg was a 3 record 33-1/3 album set of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos which she really liked. Now I was poor at the time, with a few pots and pans from Salvation Army, pants I hemmed with a stapler and forth but I had a great audio system – a Bang & Olufsen Turntable, a Harmen Kardon amplifier, and Klipsch speakers. (We all have our priorities!)

Meg didn’t have a record player – but she knew she could always bring her album to my place and relax and really enjoy the music. Meg liked good music also.