Thursday, December 31, 2009

Skydiving

For our birthdays, Cara and I got our first jumps from Jennifer. Here are some pictures from that adventure.

On a sunny Sunday, November 30th we got to Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner, NY (a bit south of New Paltz). After about 30-45 minutes of training, we were suited up and ready to go. That's Cara behind me, also in yellow.
We sit on long benches in the plane with our instructors behind us. That's Cara to my right.
Cara jumped first. In a tandem jump you are strapped to the chest of your instructor. The person just below Cara and her instructor is a cameraman.
Then I went.

Part of our present was the accompanying pictures and videos, taken (for me) by a woman with a video camera and a digital still camera on her helmet. The instructors were all very friendly and made sure we faced the camera for the minute of freefall that we had.
You can't hear a damn thing so everything is coordinated with hand signals. You are told when to put your arms out, when to reach back and find the ripcord so you know where it is when it comes time to pull it, then put your arms back out again, then you signal off to the photographer that you are going to pull the cord. I was too busy waving to the camera and John, the instructor, could not get me to finally pull the ripcord, so he did. I just felt a sudden deceleration and then we started floating. You can see this in the video below that he gives up trying to move my arms.
The diver with the camera landed first and got us as we landed. I landed on my butt and not 30 seconds later, Cara came in on her feet. Her instructor was nicknamed "Batman".


Of course I'd do it again, and I will this spring. Chris wants to go, and so does Ken. Cara is rounding up some friends, too. Wanna join us?

Here are the videos.

video







video

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Special Anniversary

It's a special anniversary for Vaclav Havel, the eponym for my 'vaclav's hovel':

(the following is shamelessly stolen, in it's entirety, from the Writer's Almanac)

It was on this day in 1989 that playwright Václav Havel (books by this author) was elected president of Czechoslovakia, ending more than 40 years of Communist rule. Havel is the author of nearly 20 plays. His plays challenged the oppressive Communist regime, and for that he was blacklisted in 1969 and his plays were banned. He left Prague, moved to the country, got a job at a brewery, and continued writing plays and also political essays. He was in and out of jail, serving for about five years, and he wrote three major plays during the last years of Communist rule: Largo Desolato (1984), Temptation (1985), and Slum Clearance (1987).

In November of 1989, he helped establish the Civic Forum, which spearheaded the nonviolent resistance movement, and on this day in 1989, he was elected president. He served until 1992, when he resigned in the face of political tensions that split Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, a division that he opposed. In 1993, he was elected president of the Czech Republic, and he served for 10 years.

He said: "I understand, especially when one is looking at me from a distance, that I might seem as some kind of fairy-tale hero who banged his head against the wall until the wall fell, and then reigned. It makes me blush slightly, because I know my mistakes. On the other hand, I do not ridicule it because people need these kinds of stories."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Xmas Traditions


Jennifer is cranking out cookies. I hope these leave the house soon, lest I eat them.
Cara is feverishly working on her famous Christmas Cards...

Next....

Before Xmas hits, I want to see if I can finish the floor completely (I have to face nail in some pieces close to the wall and in some corners), put in the baseboard, maybe . . . just MAYBE . . . install the closet door. then that leaves his door, miscellaneous other trim, and then we'll move to his "porch" in the good weather.

If I don't weigh 500lbs after Xmas, maybe we'll start in on the hall. I bought all that flooring for Finn's room but I will have at least two boxes - almost three - left to start it.

Finn's Floor

Uf you look back through the blog this might look familiar. At any rate, this is where the heat was rerouted betwixt his room and Cara's. I finally installed a proper outlet and covered it up for good. His bed has been resting over the bulk of this, and the rest of the floor was covered with those colored, interlocking squares so he had a decent surface to play on.




Voila le flooring product.

First course ready to go.


I love floor nailers. Just remember, they nail into the tongue side.

With half the room and the closet done, I have to move the things from one side of the room to the finished floor. I don't have a lot of spare space here.

The door strikes the floor. I had to take it off, then downstairs to the basement where I sawed off 1/2 an inch.

That's the door to Finn's "porch" or the entry way from outside stairs. It's full of the rest of his things at the moment.

I had to get him a floor by Christmas if it killed me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yes, it's been awhile.

We've stalled. Too much other stuff going on. Jennifer is trying to open a whole new hotel (two, actually), and I got whatever it is that keeps me employed to worry about.

I did finish the back porch. I sealed the door in nicely, then put up some weatherproofing in various unfinished windows to prepare us for the cold. The garden is dead and down, the pergola is just an empty frame and the furniture is all put away.

I also re-seated one more window in my bedroom and man does it make a difference. I hear that leaks are the most common and most egregious heat loss problem. Just plug up the holes first, or the insulation will do nothing for you.

We'd like to get working on the upstairs hallway and finish Finn's room before Christmas but I don't see that happening. Money and time are too tight at the moment.

The original building permit expires again in June. I'll have to see about what it takes to close that or extend it again.

Throw money.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No Mechanical Aptitude

Here's where that and some scrap lumber get you.

We replaced the rear screen door. Then I decided some other changes had to be made.


I had to plane the jambs by way of ripping on the table saw to make the opening sufficient for the new Anderson door.






stay tuned.

Cara's Party


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Other Stuff We Did Today

Put teak oil on the new outdoor furniture.

Moved Finn's house off the lawn. Not sure where we'll put it yet. Don't have a lot of choices.

Replaced a tail light on the car.

Jennifer straightened out the garden. We had some cukes and beans along with the rabbit tonight for dinner. No, we did not shoot the rabbit ourselves - we got it at Adam's Fairacre Farms.

Putting Up a Pergola

Trying to figure out how all the pieces go together. We bought the floor model. No instructions & 9 bolts missing.
After a trip to Home Depot to get the bolts, we started raising it.


I have read that a lot of these things blow away, so I put three lag bolts in each corner. Sinking them with a drill was a lot easier than using the ratchet.

Notice the top piece is not right. Had to fix that afterward.

That's me moving Finn's house in the background.

Now the top is fixed. I laid 8' 1x1s on the top of the frame, pulled the center piece out, and let all the 'rafter' pieces rest on the 1x1s as I turned the center piece 45 degrees, reattached all the pieces, and was done with it.

More Patio work

All stone cut and in place.
The right blade made it easier. Jennifer spotted it when I was looking for more of the other type & convinced me it was worth it. It does work faster & doesn't wear down.

All the sand is spread in.

Now we've wet it for the first time.

This is the stuff. It's supposed to stick into the joints a little better.

What's the Bird Eating Now?

Rabbit on the grill.
Bird eats rabbit.

Eet smakelijk!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More Pictures of Ancestral Homestead.

My mother is infirm from a number of maladies including two artificial knees, arthritis, back surgery, and a recent bout with cancer. she needed a ramp, so after the contractor finished raising the attic roof, they fixed up the back porch.




They fixed up the siding for the raised attic.

It's hard to see here but the flat roof over the back of the house is now gone. The old flat roof never worked well, so this will keep the back of the house a lot dryer now.
And yeah, this really is our 'ancestral homestead' for what it's worth. 40 acres or more in the area belonged to my great grandparents Domachowski. They sold the property in the 40s and the place changed hands a few more times as the neighborhood came up around it, but the house largely remained the same in shape until we got our hands on it again in the 1970s.