Friday, February 27, 2009

First Blooms

first bloom 09
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We have been watching the daffodils the past few weeks.

First the tiny green shoots thrusting their way out of the leaf litter, then the swelling of the new buds.

Today Rebecca saw something new.

This morning we were walking to the bus stop and we saw a bright splash of yellow amongst the brown and green.

Our first bloom of the season.

The official start of spring is three weeks off, but here in Virginia it is starting.

almost there
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I put in these bulbs eight, maybe nine years ago. I know it was soon after we moved in after we had gone one full year so I could see what needed to be added. It was just a cheap bag of a hundred bulbs, contractor grade if I recall correctly. But they keep coming back and brightening up my day.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Boy and His Dog

Dell and Nate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Nate loves dogs. He really, really loves dogs.

He has requested that I wake him up in the morning with a dog in his bed. He has pleaded with us to allow him to take Dell up to ed with him at night, but the answer remains no. Dell would inevitably slip off the bed in the middle of the night and end up destroying toys. Dell is not a bad dog, this is just something I know he would do.

Nate last night once again begged us for permission to sleep with Dell. We tried a new tactic, he could sleep with Dell in Dell's bed.

Which is a crate.

Nate was up for it.

Larry and I tried to figure out which night would be best, if by some miracle he made through the night, we wanted to be sure the next day he wouldn't be too hampered by the aches and strains of sleeping in a crate with a dog. Since today he had a field trip, we figured it was the night to do it.

Nate brought down a pillow and tucked it in side. Originally he had a blanket too, but it proved to be too bulky. After a few false starts Nate settled in with Dell. I was a bit concerned that he might want out, so I planned to stay up. Nate, however, deftly demonstrated that he could indeed open up the crate from the inside.

There was much giggling, a litany of complaints (Dell stop stepping on me) and then there was silence.

Which lasted about an hour. Nate popped out and told us that he did eventially get comfortable, curled up on his side with his head pillowed by Dell's back. But.. Dell kept shifting about. Dell is a wiggler and Nate realized that it was never going to work out.

Nate's own bed had never looked so good before.

And Dell... well I think he liked the company, he certainly enjoyed all the extra treats.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Artist of the Week: Drive By Photography

push over
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Rebecca.

In this picture she is being bowled over by little Dell Junior, aka DJ. He is just like his uncle Dell, from his kissy snoot all the way down to his waggy tail. We were told that DJ is a dead ringer for Mr. Dell at this age, hence the name. He certainly is a happy little fellow and very affectionate.

Rebecca thought is great to visit the puppies and loved every minute of it. Being pushed over by DJ was fun. She deliberately wore the brown outfit so as to resemble the puppies. She loves animals and baby animals doubly so.

I too love animals and it warms my heart to see her rolling around on the ground with a litter of puppies and having a great time.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Another thing Rebecca and I have in common is an artistic bent. She is endlessly drawing pictures, just like I did at her age. We also enjoy photography. Whenever we are out and about and I am taking pictures, she'll at some point ask to use the camera. I'm happy to let her use it after I have her recite the rules: wear the camera strap and don't touch the lens.

One form of photography I delight in is what I call drive by. Whenever we are going somewhere and Larry is driving at some point I'll start taking pictures though the car's windows. One example of this is the picture of George Washington bridge. I love the intricate girders with the cables swooping behind. If you click on the picture it will lead you to my photostream and a picture set of some of my drive bys.

new construction
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca did her very first drive bys this weekend.

We were driving home after attending a faculty recital at VCU. I had my camera with me and I had shot some pictures of the houses surrounding the concert hall. It was the golden hour and I loved the warm tones on the restored Victorians. At a stop sign I even indulged myself in one drive by of Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Rebecca then commandeered the camera at got a whole slew of pictures. The last one is featured here. It is of some new construction near the Federal Reserve in Richmond. I think it is a very interesting photo. If you click on through you can see Rebecca's photoset. Another good picture is the one she shot through the front windshield. You can see Jake sitting in the front along with a view of Richmond's city streets.

It looks I'll be letting her do more drive by photography.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Funny What You Can Find

Rebecca, Max and Nate
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
While looking at old pictures.

I was going through a bunch of old pictures from our previous computer when I found this one of Rebecca, Max and Nate. I'm guessing it's from about 6 years ago, from Jake's sixth birthday party.

I love Nate's "oh no, please no pictures pose." Max is equally amusing as he eats ice cream off the scoop. And well Rebecca... is indeed topless and looking at a cup.

Godd times, good times.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tour The Temples

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
On Sunday the first and second grades at Hebrew school got to go on a special field trip sponsored by the Richmond Council for Jewish Education and the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond. All first and second grade the children currently enrolled in a Richmond area Hebrew school were invited to tour the local synagogues.

Since there are seven different synagogues, the tour was broken down into two parts. This year the children will visit all the "Or" (plus either Chabad or Kol Emes) and next year it will be the "Beth" tour. A really nice aspect of the division is that both tours run the gamut of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox.

I volunteered to tag along because of the whole enzyme issue with Max and it looked like fun. I have never been to most of the synagogues on the tour.

Or Ami
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
It was a dreary day, but Rebecca was still able to smile, Max so much. We started out at Or Ami, just located south of the James (everything in Richmond is gauged by the James River). The Rabbi was warm and friendly. He started off by asking who was from which congregation and made the same comment about Beth Ahabah's name that I've been making for years. Namely, it translates to "House of Love" and really the only way to say it in English is with a Barry White intonation. Already I like the guy. He then did a very brief presentation about Or Ami and pointed out the features of the building.

We then opened our booklets and started matching up the pictures with their correct synagogues. If you click on the brochure up above you'll see what I mean (you need to go to the photo set or just page through my photo stream). Then it was back onto the buses for the rest of the tour.

Or Atid
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Next up was Or Atid where we have actually been before. The sanctuary is rather unique, it is a separate structure from the main building with striking walls of glass.You can see it from the road as you drive by and it has inspired all sorts of stories in our family. Jake noticed the high roof and announced that his imaginary friend (he was about four at the time) Mr. Giraffe attended services there. Mr. Giraffe, Mrs. Giraffe and all of their children enjoyed going there because it was one of the very few shuls with a ceiling high enough to accommodate them. So I guess we could say that we knew giraffes were kosher long before the big announcement last June.

Any way I wish I had gotten a picture of the exterior, (Yay Google maps!) but alas we were running late. I was just able to snap a few inside before we got herded back onto the bus. It was a long ride to our next stop and we had a snack passed out while we filled in books.

Young Israel
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Our last stop of the day was Young Israel, Congregation Kol Emes. Being a seriously orthodox congregation, our group was split by gender. All of the males went to the main seating area of the sanctuary while the females went to the small walled off area off to the side. The rabbi after a bit entered and explained that the sexes were separated so that it was easier to concentrate on Torah and in a way creating a special place to pray.

It was quite a change for the majority of the kids there (mine included).

We learned about Tefillin and the Rabbi demonstrated how he donned his prayer shawl and then the tefillin. It was a fascinating experience for me, I have had very little exposure to the world of the very Orthodox. I did have my camera, but I decided that it would not be appropriate for me to take pictures inside the building.

Then it was back to the JCC and home.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I take great pride in the fact that I can fix things, including computers.

I'm not claiming to be some sort of IT wiz, but I can do all sorts of things to keep my somewhat geriatric system going. I've added hard drives, swapped out video cards, added memory and reformatted the hard drive (an oddly liberating act). When the power source went out I did take it in to the shop, but most of the time I willing to take a stab at it.

Yesterday Nate was using the computer when the display went belly up and turned green. I messed about, going into safe mode and doing system restore, and came to the conclusion that it was the video card. My almost new card that obviously could not deal with my older system. I had a feeling it might be a bit too much a step up, but we needed to upgrade for a new game the boys had bought. We had gotten four months out of it, but it's time was over. Since I hang onto parts that are not broken, I reinstalled the old card. A quick search for the drivers online and Boom! we were back in business.

I'm just the go to person for your plumbing, heating and computer repairs.

Friday, February 20, 2009

About Those Cake Balls

more cake balls
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Last Saturday I slipped on a little picture of some cake balls I made for Valentine's Day.

I first learned about cake balls from Cake Wrecks: Sunday Sweets (a sort of unicorn chaser to all the horrors shown each week). Bakerella had made an outstanding Valentine's box of chocolates and had included a tutorial.

I was initially tempted to recreate the whole thing, but then I realized it involved fondant and I refuse to have anything to do with it. So I decided to just make the cake balls, with of course a few modifications.

For the cake ball interior I used my flourless chocolate torte. For the cream cheese frosting I used the oh so easy and oh so tastey one over at Slashfood.

After the cake completely cooled I added about a cup of the cream cheese frosting. It was pretty darn goopy so I refrigerated the whole mess before making the balls. The balls, even with refrigeration, were very sticky si into the freezer they went. Because of all the goings on they spent about a day and a half in there until I could finish making them.

For the chocolate coating I used the store brand chocolate bark in small batches. It worked out very well. I plop in the frozen ball, roll it around a bit to coat and then place it on wax paper. If we wanted to add sprinkles, we had to act fast before the chocolate set up. Rebecca loved the Valentine themed decorations I had picked up. For the gel writing we had to wait until the chocolate had completely solidified. Rebecca made some hearts, a snail and a red bird. I made the sun, the blue bird and the red heart with an arrow through it. We had a great deal of fun decorating the cake balls.

For varieties sake I picked up some almond bark, white candy coating. It was a real pain to work with. It was hard to melt and the cake balls kind of melted into the coating. I ended up with only a few white cake balls, the rest came out like dirty snow balls.

As for taste... they were a big hit, even the white ones tasted good.The cake ball interior tasted like a high end chocolate truffle. We will definitely try these again.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Puppy Pictures

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
So here are a few pictures from Monday's puppy love fest.

I love this one of Nate with DJ. Andy (my friend Dianne's husband) took this picture and I'm so glad he sent it to me. He was able to get a get picture of DJ sticking his big old snoot into Nate's face just before the pup started to give Nate a good face washing.The puppies have not a shy bone in them and they just hurled themselves into whatever lap was available.

I just love dachshund snoots and how they get poked into everything.

In the pink
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

Since that's me in the upper left corner this must be another picture from Andy. I like how little Miss Pink's collar almost matches little Miss Rebecca's jacket.

Rebecca was totally in her element and was very happy to have the puppies swirling about her. Since it was far better weather this time, we were able to sit outside in the dog yard with the puppies.

Last time we had to stay indoors and it was very cramped in the puppy room. This past Monday we got to see the puppies run and play in between cuddle sessions and I didn't have to worry so much about the puppies getting accidentally stepped on.

Max and Big Red
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Even Max had a good time, the puppies were able to elicit quite a few smiles from him. Which, considering he had been diagnosed with a rather nasty ear infection just 24 hours earlier, was pretty impressive.

Max was a bit put out at first because the puppies were not mobbing him but, when we moved him out of the shade and into the sun, it was puppy time. The pups would run on over and jump onto his lap. He didn't like it when they would try to kiss him, he prefers to just hold them. At one point a puppy started tugging on his jacket and Max started to play a bit of tug with them using a cord dangling off of his jacket.

All in all it was a good visit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Artist of the Week: Practice Concert

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is Jake. He is pictured with one of the puppies we saw this past Monday, I think it's the shaded red boy that is being called DJ (as in Dell junior- he looks a lot like his uncle Dell).

Anyway it's a puppy and it's cute and my boy looks happy.

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, Jake has continued with his trumpet and is taking intermediate band. Tonight both the intermediate and advanced bands put on an informal concert. It was officially the Pre-Festival Concert and will be followed by the actual Festival Concert next month. From what I've gathered the bansd while be judged at the Festival. This concert was a good practice run through for both bands.

I think Jake's band did a decent job of things. They performed four songs, Stony Creek (a warm up march), Irish Tune from County Derry (essentially Danny Boy), Chester Variations (I liked it quite a bit, but the clarinets were a little off) and Phantom ship (my favorite, but my video card got full and the camera cut out at about 30 seconds before the end).

The kids have come a long way from beginning band. They are perfect, but they continue to improve. Below is a clip from the concert. It's thge first tune, Stony Creek.

I would have liked to feature Phantom ship, but I forgot to clear out the camera before the concert. Hopefully it'll stay in for the Festival and I'll get to properly record it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Pretty Good Day for Baseball

As I mentioned yesterday, on Saturday Nate was the bat boy for the VSU baseball team. It turned out to be the home opener for the team and it was a beautiful day for baseball, sunny and mild. Nate had a great time hanging out in the dugout and getting the bats.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

The team and the coaches were all really nice to Nate. He would get to do high fives with players and coaches whenever he returned to the dugout and some players liked to pat Nate's helmet as they passed by.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Unfortunately it wasn't the team's day. The first baseman did make a spectacular catch, but in the end VSU lost. However, Nate was still a winner. Not only did he get to hang with the team, he was also invited to participate in the post game handshake. He looks so cute there with all the college ball players.

The guys seemed to genuinely like Nate, but that's not surprising. Nate is an affable little guy with an obvious love of the sport. They probably saw a bit of themselves in Nate.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Baseball and Puppies

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
We had a very busy weekend of baseball and puppies.

Nate got to be a bat boy for the VSU baseball team. Larry took this picture of Nate in the dugout with the team. He also got some video of Nate in action, but I don't have a patience to fool around with the clip and upload it. The team seemed to be a really nice group of guys and the coach invited Nate to come again.

As for the puppies, well we got to see Dell and John's nieces and nephews again. The pups are 8 weeks old and still very cute.

Once again they swarmed all over us, tails a wagging and giving kisses to everybody. This time it wasn't quite so nasty outside so we were able to go out for a bit with the pups. Thhe two girls pictured here are messing about with a small rake kept in the pen.

I am pooped and I think I'll head to bed. I have way too many pictures to sort through.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Four Years and One Day

I've been blathering here for four years (and one day). Subjecting you to odd videos and endless pictures.

It's been a wonderful way for grandparents to keep up with the kids and has given me a little outlet.

Who knows if I'll be here four years from now, but for now I'm here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Think She Really Likes It

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Rebecca asked a while ago for a canopy for her bed, she has a lovely four poster and I understood her request. I looked around for a bit at ready made curtains and even considered making one up, but I never did see anything I liked.

One possible option was one of these hoop style canopies, but I never got to see them in person and I wasn't quite sure if they would work with a full sized bed. I really didn't want to go through the whole hassle of ordering one and finding out it was too small. The ones I liked were not particularly cheap so I shelved the whole idea.

That is until today.

I was out shopping with Meryl at Ollie's, a bizarre overstock outlet. While searching for the George Forman iGrill (It's MP3 ready! And it was so weird we had to see it for ourselves) we saw a canopy wadded up on a pile of other stuff. I shook it out and saw that it was huge. I looked around for any more, ideally one with a price tag and in some sort of container, but it was the only one. The canopy is fairly simple, white netting on a wire hoop with pastel streamers bedecked with flowers, just the thing for Miss. Rebecca. I gathered it up and tossed it into the cart. At the checkout the price was quoted as just under $10. Sold!

After I got home I installed it above her bed with one little cup hook screwed into the ceiling. It drapped nicely over the frame and fit the bed perfectly.

Jake was the first one home and his reaction upon seeing it was "whoa."

When Rebecca got home I told her I had a surprise in her bedroom. She tore up the stairs and was stunned when she first saw it. I found her standing stock still, just blinking her eyes in amazement. I had to ask her if she liked it.

I told Nate to go take a look when he got home and Jake urged him along. He flew upstairs and bellowed out "Wow!" A bit later Max ambled by to see what all the fuss was. I think his reaction of all the boys was the best "What da heck is that!"

Happy Valentines Day Rebecca.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Time Out

chair tree
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
I'm getting increasingly disturbed by the whole porktacular aspect of the so called stimulus bill, the health related provisions in particular frighten me.

So I think I need to get away from it and share a happy moment.

On our walk on Sunday I noticed a rather odd tree, it formed a perfect chair. Rebecca was starting to crab about the length of our walk and this created the perfect distraction. I pointed out the chair tree to her and she gleefully climbed on posed for me. After that she was far more positive about the whole walk. She was even suggesting that next time we go a different way so we can see new things in the woods. She has now learned to look around and not just focus on the walk. This will open up a whole new world for her.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Artist of the Week: Illumination

Nate and Dell
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is the very silly Nate.

For whatever reason he decided to get into Dell's crate with Dell. It always amazes me what sort of tiny spaces Nate can cram himself into. But what was truly remarkable was that even with Nate entirely inside there was still more than enough room for Dell to join him.

They were both very happy in there together and we were even able to close up the crate. You can't tell by Dell's expression, but trust me, he was one very happy dog. The thumping of his tail could be heard clear across the room.

Apparently they were having so much fun John felt compelled to stand in front of the crate and bark at them. I sent Rebecca over to sit in John's crate, but that wasn't the same.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
As for the art, a couple of weeks ago Nate's Sunday school class had an in school project and the parents were invited to participate. We were to make our own illuminated text. Several different pieces of Hebrew text were scattered about along with tracing paper, examples of designs that we could use and all sorts of drawing supplies.

I picked out the Shema. It is my favorite prayer and as Nate pointed out, the shortest one available to copy.

Nate traced the text along with the decorative scroll work he selected from the pile. My job was to color (under Nate's direction) and to create the two lions. I wanted to have the Lions of Judah because they are a classic motif in Jewish ceremonial art and I thought Nate would like them. The ones the school had to trace were far too big so, I had to make them myself. Nate was pretty happy with how they came out so he agreed to have them included.

Once the text and its illustrations were finished, we mounted it in a yellow paper frame. I was a bit concerned about the pastels I used getting all smudged so I laminated it once we got home.

I think very well. Now we just have to find a place to hang it, maybe up in Nate's room.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Two Dachshunds

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
And how they differ.

Readers of this grubby little corner of the internet know that I have dogs and that they share the same father, Crunch.

Crunch was a grand old boy and we had him for almost 15 years before the ravages of time took him away. He was 11 and 1/2 when he sired his first litter and produced John. A year later he was studded out again and Dell was the the result of that litter.

The two boys are very much Crunch's get, but they are so very different. I would say physically John is the most like Crunch with his leggy athletic build. Dell has more of their fathers manic energy and boundless enthusiasm with life. Both have a very strong prey drive and are personally affronted by the mere existence of squirrels in our yard. In fact a few weeks ago John actually nailed and eat one of the little buggers. Dell spent the rest of the day trailing after John like a love sick fan of a movie star. John had become his absolute hero.

The funniest difference between the two is digging.

Both of them will dig, but with Dell it is a halfhearted affair. It's almost like he doesn't want to dirty his cute little paws. I plopped him in the wagon while John was off digging and Dell was perfectly content to oversee all the dirty work.

John, meanwhile, has a very workman like attitude. His motto is "dig we must." I filmed him yesterday in action out in the woods. I loved it when he paused and snorted in the mole/mouse hole he was excavating.

Just like his old man.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Fort Update

work in progress
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The kids were hard at work this weekend.

It was warm and sunny which meant it was good weather for fort construction. They deepened the crater, added a loose roof and paved the paths. Mind you the paths weren't paved so much as had a layer of dirt spread on top, they just called it paving. They were delighted that the dogs would use the paths as they tear around in the woods.

I'm hoping it means less ticks in the summer. If everybody stays on the paths and avoids the leaves maybe they won't pick up as many ticks. The ticks can be awful around here and I know from previous summers that as long as we stay out of the woods it's not too bad.

Anyhoo, you can see Nate is hard at work shoveling and Jake is off to get more wood. I'm not sure what Max is up too and the small pit Rebecca is in isn't quite as deep as it looks, she is sort of crouching down a bit.

the fort
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The roof of the main fort was made made from various pieces of dead fall and logs on our property. It definitely adds to the bunker like feel. They wanted to drag an old table top onto the roof, but I stopped them. I think I will however break down and let them use a hack saw on the dead fall. It will just have to be under supervision. It's a good life skill, everybody should learn how to use a saw properly.

When a do a bit of pruning this spring I'll let them drag the brush onto the roof. It'll make for a more naturalistic appearance and that should make them happy. My only other suggestion is that they deeper the main crater a bit. As it is now it hard from them to get in, especially for Jake.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Here is a better shot of what the fort looks like on the inside. I sent John in to give a bit of scale. John was very happy in there and spent a good 10 plus minutes carefully inspecting every nook and cranny. He likes to dig and appreciates this kind of effort (in fact he started the smaller pits that have since been expanded by the kids). Dell, on the other hand, was pretty much uninterested. Digging is not his thing. He would rather roll over a get a tummy rub.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday Walk

Sunday walk
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Today was glorious, sunny and warm. Larry and I took the dogs for a walk and Miss Rebecca tagged along.

This picture violates the big rule of not shooting into the sun, but the effect was marvelous.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Some nights homework is a monumental struggle. there is wailing, rending of garments and even hiding. Usually its just outright procrastination. With Max and Rebecca there is the added distraction of wrestling and he associated litany of complaints that begin with the time honored phrase "Mom! he/she started it."

Of course the only response to that is you may not have started it, but you can certainly end it.

I'm so helpful that way.

But once in a while all four settle down and just do the work.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Little Bit of Winter

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Tuesday we had an ever so brief dusting of snow. It was mostly gone by mid-afternoon, but in a few sheltered spots small patches stubbornly hang on.

We were supposed to get a snow shower yesterday, but nothing really happened. It was cold enough, but there was no precipitation.

However this weekend it supposed to get up to the 60 and even the little patches of white will be gone by Sunday.

Winter is so lame down here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Artist of the Week: Soup

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
This week's artist is my husband.

I'm not sure when this particular picture was taken, Larry looks to be about three or so. I honestly don't know. However, he certainly was a cute little guy and I can definitely see a resemblance between Larry and Nate. They are also temperamentally the most alike. While watching Nate hurl himself about Larry often tells me he was just like that.

Anyhoo many moons have passed and the little boy pictured here is all grown up and a father to a whole passel of kids. He has also become a pretty darn good potager. The most impressive part is that he is completely self taught. All I have done is tell him how to use the crock pot and get some twist top containers (much better for bring to work) to store his soup. He does it all, from the shopping, the chopping and to the cooking.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

The whole soup thing came about as a good way for us to save money and provide Larry a healthy lunch. One big batch from the crock pot usually sees him through the week.

When he makes his soup he loads up the crock pot with all the vegetables he loves. I think he really enjoys the whole process of chopping things up and adding whatever spices appeal to him. He'll even toss in some roast chicken if we have leftovers in the fridge. The kitchen always smells great on soup night.

soup for lunch
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Once the soup is done he loads up the little containers I bought for him. The screw tops really make difference when you are transporting something as liquid as soup to work. The last thing you want to deal with at work is a big spill of soup in the office or, even worse, in the car. At least in the office you can get it mopped up fairly quickly.

There is also the little side benefit that he doesn't have to go out to pick up a hot lunch. A nice thing indeed last week when it kept on raining.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Rather Nasty Surprise

old pipe
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Yesterday while looking for some errant buckets for the ongoing fort project I decided to look in the crawl space under the house.

Our crawl space is far nicer than most. It does have a dirt floor, but in some areas you can almost stand up and it has an electric light. We use it to store largish things like our canoe, lawn chairs, the bouncey tent, the rocket box and a bird bath left behind by the former owners. Our furnace is also located down there. The one negative to the whole space is that it can only be entered from two access panels in the foundation, otherwise it is a very useful spot.

new pipe
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
While I was casting about for the buckets I decided to give the furnace's vent pipe to the chimney a quick check.

I was horrified to find a huge crack in one of the pipes. I'm fairly certain it wasn't there last year when I looked. Either way this was a dangerous situation (fortunately we do have a CO monitor on the first floor, so I knew it wasn't a problem... yet) and needed to be taken care of immediately.

So today's big project was to swap out the old pipes (the adjoining one looked ok, but figured if I'm going to do one I might as well do two) with nice new ones.

After a bit of measuring I headed off to Lowes to buy a couple of five foot long pipes. I didn't have the diameter, but I did get the circumference, which was fine except Lowes didn't carry my pipe. It turns out I need a 5 inch pipe and they only carry even number sizes.

Dang. I really want to get the pipe and not have to pay a furnace guy gobs of money for such an easy job.

However all was not lost, we also have a Home Depot less than a mile from the Lowes. I headed on in, found the right aisle and the clouds parted and the angels did sing. They had tons of the piping I needed. I snagged two plus a furnace filter and headed home.

Inspector hound
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar

After lunch (mmm, leftover lasagna) it was time to get to work.

The red boys accompanied me outside and were very excited to go into the crawl space. The dogs make terrible home repair assistants, but do have the whole inspection thing down pat. I don't think the two of them missed an inch. John even went so far as to rear up and take a peek inside the canoe.

Taking the pipes off was not to bad, the cracked one was very brittle to the touch and was easy to pull out. The other pipe was in not much better condition and I was glad that I had decided to replace it as well.

Putting in the new pipes was a much harder challenge.

all in
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The vent pipe to the chimney was fixed in place as was the run attached to the furnace. I futzed around trying one thing, than other. I even thought about cutting then down, but that really wouldn't be a good solution. I finally hit upon te idea of having the two new pipes fitted together in a bit of a v shape so I could slip the ends into the fixed pipes.

It worked and with only a small amount of swearing and a large amount of banging with my rubber mallet. The best part was I did not damage myself or the pipes.

all taped up
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The end result was a nice smooth run of shiny new pipes from the furnace to the chimney. All that was left to do was to seal up the the joints.

I'm proud to say that for the second time in my life I actually used duct tape to tape ducts. I used a boat load of tape, but hey I don't want to cheap out and have leaky pipes, carbon monoxide poisoning is serious business.

When it was all done I gave Larry call at work and told him all about today's project. His reaction "I married well."

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Not So Big "Big Dig"

The not so big big dig
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Or why I'm really glad we have the woods.

Originally Larry and I planned on a Sunday afternoon family walk on a state park trail not far from the house. But the kids had some big plans. They were going to make a fort in the woods. Not just any old fort, but one that involves digging.

Nate asked of the shovel and headed on out to the wooded portion of our property. The rest of his siblings trailed after along with the dogs. An area was marked out for the fort and Nate proceeded to dig a good size trench. Max and Rebecca were set to clear the area with rakes while Jake gathered sticks and logs.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Even John got in on the fun.

He starting digging his own little pit off to the side of the main are. He thrust his snout in the dirt and industriously scraped away, occasionally pausing to gnaw at any protruding roots. This delighted my little excavators, John's hole would become a command post.

Dell, on the other hand, wasn't particularly interested in the whole digging thing. I guess he didn't want to get his wee little paws all dirty. He came back inside to hang out with the adults.

Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
The end result after a good afternoon of digging was this. A fair sized crater in the woods.

It's not quite on the same scale as Boston's Big Dig, but then again it's pretty good for four kids and a shovel. It will be interesting to see the project shape up over the next few weeks/months. I know they would love an honest to goodness tree fort, but we haven't any suitable trees on our property, so this will have to do.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

My Three Sons

The Boys
Originally uploaded by Teckelcar
Larry took this picture yesterday of the boys on the couch. Pictures of them always turn out better when they are not aware of the camera. There are no stiff smiles or outright mugging, instead they are focused on a movie and are completely oblivious to the camera in their fathers hand.

It is a very nice shot of the three of them, my only wish would be that Nate not have the Lego plane he constructed obscuring his face. Larry has quite a good eye for pictures like these. He even framed it nicely, I didn't have to do any cropping, just label and upload.