Sunday, October 30, 2011

Insulation Sunday

So we did get to insulation today! It took some work as Menards was not the most put together, but by 3:30 we were blowing cellulose into the kitchen walls.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that it is messy dusty work. But it is.

Troy had drilled holes in our fresh new drywall about half way up and at the top of the wall. We went around and did the lower ones, then we had to compact the insulation and fill them again (and again).
The holes were just large enough for me to
get my arms in just about up to my shoulders!
When the walls are 12" thick, you need to reach a long ways!

By the time we were done, we had compacted the insulation many times and Troy was hoping that we won't have to top off the insulation again later. I have my doubts. (Being more of a "math" person I knew that we would never be able to compact and completely fill each cavity. Troy, being a "physics" person, thinks that it will be close enough to count. We'll see.)

It was a long day that went pretty well in retrospect, but that didn't make me feel any better when the hose got clogged, it started raining and the bags of insulation still outside got wet or when the compacting and refilling just.wouldn't.stop. The only thing sustaining me the last hour was the thought that I was going to go out and get McDonalds as soon as I could. (I was pretty hungry and cranky by then.)

I think it was about 9 before the blowing was done. Then cleanup (sweeping, sweeping and more sweeping plus reloading everything into the truck for Troy to bring back tomorrow at 7 am and not a minute later) and then a blessed shower. By 10 I was on the way to MickeyD's for a Big Mac meal. I think this may be the first time I have ever gone out and gotten McD's to take back home to eat. Isn't that strange? Anyway, Troy got some McRib sandwiches and joined me in a meal I had to have to get over being a whiny baby celebrate possibly being done with insulation.

There's no small group tomorrow night so this morning I was thinking I could use the evening to prime the drywall. Now I'm not so sure I'm up for it. (Plus the lower holes would all have to be closed, taped and I think mudded.) On the other hand, you know what happens after the priming's done? Cabinets.

Cabinets. Not faked ones this time either. Real ones. Screwed in place.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fake Kitchen Progress

Troy really wanted to unpack all the cabinets and make sure they fit and weren't damaged, even though that would mean setting them up in the kitchen and then taking them all out again. I could see his point, but even more I could see the tedium of it all.

Tonight we got started on the base cabinets:
Does that look like a fake kitchen to you? We're getting closer (to a real one, I mean).

I am not overjoyed with the look of the finish. I find it shallow and pale, but I'm choosing not to let it bother me. (Can't you tell?) I worried that drawers to match the doors would be too busy, but now they look so very plain. Pulls would help so I just have to wait for final judgment. Troy has relented a little on the pulls and so we may return the 50 we got and get the other style that I preferred. (They really do look smashing on the cabinets!)

So far the cabinets themselves look great. Troy is happy with the quality and we haven't banged one up yet. We had a great opportunity to do so as we worked the corner cabinet in--we had to remove the front door to get it in and it was a very close one!

I also gave Troy and myself a good scare as I was laying things out on the west wall. I told him we were 3.5 inches short of fitting the stove in. He was very concerned; I just figured we'd ditch the 6" spice cabinet. (I'd miss it, but the stuff has to fit.) Then I realized I was confused and was trying to fit in a 36" stove. We bought a 30" one. All was good again. (Although I'm not sure Troy has forgiven me for scaring him like that yet.)

Time for some sleep now. We put in 4 hours on this tonight and we don't even have half of them in. (Or back out again...) [ETA: When I wrote this, I was thinking we spent the whole night on cabinets, but actually half the time was spent putting up some more drywall on the north wall so it's not as bad as I thought.]

Up next: Troy really thinks we will be blowing insulation on Sunday. We'll see...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Servitude Sunday: Over time

More drywall done today.

The first piece we cut had seven cutouts: three outlets, the exhaust fan box, gas pipe, water pipe and a power cord.
We thought once that was in, all the hard ones were done. Turns out that wasn't quite right, but we carried on.

Most of the dryall is being dropped in the gap between the new floor and the studs:
The vapour barrier is wrapped from behind the drywall, down under the drywall and then back up. Some silicone has been put between the plastic and the floor to make a good seal.

It didn't go quite as quick as we had hoped, but by the start of Sunday night football, we had all the drywall up:
All the drywall we had purchased that is. (Gotcha.)

Although it's nice to have the floor clear again (even if it's covered in drywall dust), it would have been nicer to have enough drywall to finish.
We need two more sheets of 8-foot and two more of 10-foot. The pieces that are left do not have many cutouts so hopefully they will go pretty quickly.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunday, October 09, 2011

And Twice on Sunday...

My first task when I got started on my term of servitude today was to fill this awful segmented wall with rigid foam insulation.
I started by cutting off the screws that were poking through from the outside with the angle grinder. Then I vacuumed and cleaned everything out, cut out the excess (canned) foam insulation and wondered how I was going to fill in these awkward cubbies:
There are recesses at the bottom and top and since foam doesn't bend, I can't fill both! But I decided not to worry about it and to start with what I could do and go from there.

Turns out that's all I got done today anyway:
Each of those sections got filled with 5.5 inches of foam. All the smaller ones on that wall will have to be done too. blah, not fun... (By the way, this section has already been insulated from the outside so the total will still be 12 inches. Never fear!)

I was interrupted at some point by Troy who said he had to know where the overhead lights where going. How am I supposed to know? I've got no walls, no cupboards and have never done this before!!

But I got an idea...
I put some of Troy's many flashlights to good use and used them as stand ins for the lights. Come on, now--that's pretty clever right? They look just like pot lights (not that we're getting pot lights).

And don't you worry, I didn't just eyeball it; I used some careful measurements (you know, give or take a couple inches) and then we evaluated. One thing Troy decided is that he needs three lights in that half of the kitchen instead of the two I was counting on. I'm not convinced, but I guess it'll be easier to put in three lower watt bulbs than to live with two high watt bulbs that still aren't bright enough. I guess.

Between planning for light placement and some rechecking we had to do on the fridge location, I spent almost four hours working on the kitchen today instead of my usual two--Troy got a twofer. He told me to take next week off, but he didn't mean it.

A much more exciting part of the day (to me) was when we purchased our sinks, faucets and cabinet hardware. I had picked them out a few weeks ago and have been watching the Menards sales fliers. Last night I got the one I was waiting for--sale on kitchen and bath!

Troy hadn't previously seen the sinks or faucets, but approved them quickly. We went with cast iron with white porcelain. I am very excited about the sinks; very happy they're not stainless. (You can see the specific models on my Pinterest board--see link in the left sidebar.)

Then we went looking at pulls. I had already fell in love with one and had bought a sample to bring home to show Troy:
It is gorgeous. Sleek. Sexy.

Troy did not agree. He wanted something much plainer, with a bulge for fat fingers and frankly, ugly. (What can I say, it's true!)

I was worried we were going to have a fight in Menards because we were both pretty set in our own opinion. Plus time was short so there was some pressure there. I did not think we would purchase anything.

But as we were going over all the choices with a refrain of one of us suggesting a style and the other saying, "No," I saw this style:
It has the bulge that Troy wanted, but has a similar style to the one I wanted (the ends are wider than the middle--it's a little more subtle on this one but still there). Plus it's a little shorter which I think is good in our kitchen. I know all the magazines show 8 and 10 inch pulls (or longer!), but I'm not going there. (I'm not spending $80 on a matching appliance pull either. Surprised?)

So we found one we both liked and just went with it. Picked up almost 50 of them. (Oh my...I just realized that is 100 holes to drill!) That was a relief and I am happy with them.

All for now. Good night!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

My organic, open polinated, heirloom corn. versus Genetically Modified Corn

I grow corn to make corn meal.  Corn meal can be used for all kinds of things, like tortillas, corn bread, stuffing, and so on.  I mostly use it to make a hot breakfast cereal.  It is not unlike cream of wheat.  It is made of 1/3 corn meal, 1/3 wheat meal, and 1/3 rice meal.  The rice I purchase at Sam's club.  The wheat I buy in 25# sacks from a local store that doesn't charge me shipping.  Organic and non-GMO of course.  It's pretty cheap.

The corn I grow myself.  It's a variety called Reid's Yellow Dent corn.  This variety was famous more than a hundred years ago.  Here's a quote from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (a very nice place to buy seed by the way.)

" [Dates back to the 1840's, when it originated as a cross between 'Gordon Hopkins', a late, light red variety, and an early yellow flint variety.] The cross was accidental: Robert Reid had a poor stand of 'Gordon Hopkins' one year and replanted the missing hills with the early yellow flint corn. He grew the hybrid until it stab�lized. 'Reid's Yellow Dent' is one of the most productive, hardy corns ever developed, and was a prize winner at the 1893 World's Fair and progenitor of a number of yellow dent lines. This old-timer is well known in the Mid-Atlantic region, where it is revered for its adaptability and dependability in southern heat and soils. Stalks to 7' with 9 in. double ears well filled with 16 rows of deep, close-set, moderately flat seed. Average analysis is 9.9% protein and 0.31% lysine."

For some reason, me and corn get along real good.  This variety is reported to have stalks up to seven feet tall and well filled 9" ears.  In my garden, the stalks grow in excess of 12' and the ears routinely exceed 10", a few reaching a full foot long.  Here's me grinning like an idiot holding one of mine, and one of my corn farmer/neighbor's GMO Frankencorn:

Here's another picture of several of my ears, and two of his typical ears of corn.  There's a beer bottle in there for scale:

I don't use herbicides, pesticides, synthetic fertilizer, or any of that other gook.  He does. I win.

Of course, we're sort of comparing apples to oranges here.  His might be designed to maximize the yield of high fructose corn syrup per acre, and so long as it does that, his probably beats mine.  His can be sprayed with Roundup weed killer, which would kill mine.  This minimized his fuel and labor costs, and reduces soil compaction since the big tractors don't have drive over the same ground multiple time manually cultivating the weeds out.  The size of the ears doesn't necessarily indicate the yield per acre.  Maybe he can cram more plants in per acre than I can.  Maybe his needs less nitrogen per pound of corn produced.  I have the luxury of piling on the rich compost.  He doesn't.

His probably isn't even designed to be eaten by humans directly.  It's designed to be processed into something else first.

Despite all the backpedaling and fine print and disclaimers, I would still like to claim victory for my corn.  Genetically modified food is not a good thing.  I say this as a trained scientist who did trans species recombinant DNA in lab exercises.  I know what it is capable of.

There are now many verified, repeatable examples where, given the choice, cows pigs and other animals won't eat the GMO Frankencorn if they have "real" corn as an option.  What do they know that we don't?

Cows prefer real vs GMO 

There are now disturbing independent studies that link the use of GMO corn and soy with organ failure in mammals:

Organ Failure

Monsanto has such a huge influence on agriculture in the US, they have almost literally crammed this frankencorn stuff down our throats.  If you had corn chips this week, you probably ate some corn that had a little bacterial DNA slipped in there for extra measure.  Some of the "new" corn has genetic material from a fish.  There are indications that the resultant corn makes novel proteins that may trigger allergy problems in the end user, you.  

Monsanto did tests that prove this is all safe.  The FDA accepted those tests without further investigation.  The testing went on for a whole 90 days.  If there were any differences in outcomes based on the gender of the lab animals, that was discounted or thrown out.  So, if a statistically significant number of female rats got kidney failure, or liver failure, but the boys didn't, we can just ignore that.  Really, I'm not making this up.  And really, 90 whole days?!?  What about long term problems in humans?  How did we test for that?  Oh yeah, we didn't.

The relationship between the FDA and Monsanto would charitably be described as "close".  Incestuous might be a more accurate description.

People, you have to take your food chain back.  Don't you be eatin' that stuff.  That ain't natural.

Finest regards,


Sunday, October 02, 2011

Servitude Sunday: Electrifying

Troy put me to work as electrician's apprentice today. He had a lot of the wiring done but we had more to do. Plus he had done wiring inside the room but needed my help to run it down to the panel in the basement.

We ran five lines down to the basement and did a thorough review of all our electric needs. We think we got them all.

Before we got started today, we did a little shopping at Menards. I had to show Troy the fan switch I wanted (it's a dimmer/toggle combination) and convince him to get the flat rectangle light switches. (I did.) Then when we got home we had a sudden fear that we couldn't get a cover plate for a rectangle switch and regular duplex outlet combination. Never fear, they do sell them. (Otherwise poor Troy would have to redo his outlet!) What a lot of details in building a house--why didn't any one tell me? ha ha.

The other thing we got at Menards is taking up all the room in my newly floored kitchen:
That's right--drywall!! Troy was very optimistic and thought we might get the wiring done and vapour barrier up so we could start drywall. (We really are that close!) I did say that I would work more than two hours if it meant getting even one piece of drywall up but ended up not having to deliver on that promise.

And not to sound too Pollyanna but having a pile of drywall in the middle of your kitchen not only helps stave off Alzheimer's, it also gives me a stair master machine I have to use so I "automatically" get exercise!

Oh, and one genuine source of happiness: I just discovered that we have wild grapes growing on the property. I absolutely love them and don't remember having them since grade school.

Popping the first one in my mouth brought back all those memories of recesses spent eating ourselves [almost] sick on grapes. (They were very sour as I recall and we would dare each other with how many we would eat at one time.)

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