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  • Monday, January 01, 2007

    Burning Down the House Vlog #3

    Repairing a damaged floor.

    Saturday, October 28, 2006

    Burning Down the House Vlog #2

    Last weekend's project was a problem solving exercise. I've been looking for a way to paint my stairways since we moved in. I'm no fan of ladders, so I really needed something that wasn't going to shift around a lot.

    This video jumps around a bunch because I recruited an eight year-old to handle the camera work. You'll get to see me giving her directing tips. The entire video is only about 5 minutes long, and you get to see me in a pink shirt.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Burning Down the House Vlog #1

    A simple project: installing base board trim.

    I filmed this, hoping to start a new feature on this blog. Based on how much work went into editing, I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep this up every week. It was fun, anyway.

    The tool tip I gave is actually partially inaccurate. The tip of the tape measure moves to compensate for the width of the metal hook. This ensures that your measurement will be correct whichever way you're measuring.

    Saturday, September 30, 2006

    My Bowl, My Bowl!

    We spent the past week in Ontonogon, MI. It's on Lake Superior, near the Porcupine Mountians in the Northwestern U.P. We were extremely lucky to pick this week, the fall colors peaked a day before we arrived. The word "Ontonogon" comes from a legend about an Indian woman who lost her bowl in the river. Apparently her cries of dismay were worth naming the river (and town) after.

    Of course I took tons of photos. These few are just a small example of how great the trees looked, in spite of all the rain.

    I spotted this pheasant feather lying in a ditch when we stopped to walk the dog.

    This is Lake of the Clouds. How do you suppose it got its name?

    Ok. I don't know my birds. It's a crane, right? Anyway, this was the best shot I could get. I was actually standing pretty far away, using my camera's awesome optical zoom (I use an Olympus 2.1MP. It's the 10x optical zoom that makes all the difference). The light was too low to get all the jitters out, though.

    Our cabin looked seriously retro. All that's missing in this photo is a cheap hooker.

    Me, the woman, and the dog's butt on top of Michigan's highest point (Summit Peak, in the Porcupine Mountains). The dog hates stairs, but somehow we got her up that ranger tower.

    On the return trip we made a point to stop at all the waterfalls we could find. There are tons of them! We stopped looking when we got sick of driving on bumpy dirt roads to see what amounted to someone's sump pump draining. Bond Falls is was the first and best of the bunch. It's probably one of the best falls I've seen in a while! Apart from the awesome cascade, there are actually places to walk right up to the river and wade in or stand on the rocks. Seriously, there's a boardwalk around the base with stairs going down to the water. I hope that lawyers never find this place, it's too perfect as it is.


    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Free At Last!

    The upstairs floors are done, after a year of work. Granted, most of that year was spent dreading the task. But, it was all so worth it! Check this out:

    That's my room. Look at this wood grain!

    We used gallons of floor stripper, countless sander belts, a dremel tool, palm sanders, and brute force to get this done. We hauled out garbage bags full of saw dust and even burned up a belt sander. In the end, I think we've accomplished job that looks 90% as good as the professional work I've seen. Using the dremel, we even got under the radiators and into one tight corner.

    While I do think that this task was relatively easy, I'd warn anyone who's thinking of resurfacing hardwood that it's nowhere near as easy as the videos make it look. I'm extremely glad that I can finally pack away the chemical respirator I used while chemically stripping the old varnish off the floor.

    Saturday, June 17, 2006

    Copper Falls

    It's been a month since our vacation at Copper Falls State Park, and I've really wanted to share these photos ever since.

    I chose Copper Falls State Park for a few reasons. I haven't been to the area since I was really young, it was far enough away from the Dells to avoid crowds from Illinois, and there were a number of parks in the area that promised good scenery (mostly waterfalls). As it turns out, Copper Falls SP has several waterfalls and plenty of good hiking trails. We visited other parks in the area and I would choose to stay at Copper Falls again because is has good hiking, a lake, nice facilities (and concessions), it's close to Ashland if you need anything, the campsites are nice, and there's good biking (more details later).

    These images are all from Copper Falls State Park:

    I have no idea how anyone could hike one of these trails. Nevermind how long it would take. How do you prepare your gear? How do you know where to spend the night? I can tell you from hiking the short stretch in the park that you would need a VERY good map. The trail isn't always well marked and it forks a lot. You could make plenty of wrong turns in 3,200 miles!

    Our first day at the park was filled with on and off thunderstorms. We even heard later that there was a tornado in the nearest town. The above photos were all taken on our first day, between rain showers. I actually enjoyed the experience because the rain wasn't too cold and it wasn't windy. When we put on rain ponchos, there really wasn't anything to worry about except the mosquitos and ticks.

    The bugs were awful the entire trip. I think we must've gotten used to the mosquitos eventually, but I never could feel comfortable about all the ticks. Those bastards got into our sleeping bags and we kept spotting them on each other while we were out in the woods.

    Kelly chose to torment every animal we encountered (what a perfect enviromentalist she is). I assume you've seen the video of the frogs. All of these guys also suffered her wrath:

    This poor turtle was minding its business, possibly laying eggs. Kelly chased it back into the lake.

    Don't feed the animals? They get used to people and get aggressive? Kelly says "prove it."

    What do you do when you see frogs hanging out, minding their own business? Stand there taking tons of photos.

    Yup. They're ugly, and fun to mess with, apparently.

    Kelly sent this guy running right after he'd had a big meal.

    A family of loons managed to keep out of the way by staying on the lake. The male got close enough for me to get these awesome shots.

    We also spent plenty of time in Ashland. Riding the bike path along the shore of Lake Superior was a good way to spend the evening. This is where we did most of our biking because the other state parks didn't have trails and the ones at Copper Falls are really steep and grassy. Since Kelly's bike has two gears that work: "hard" and "random," we had to stick to the really easy trails or risk walking back.

    We spent the last day of our trip trying to burn down the forest. We'd brought lots of firewood, and purchased even more on our second day because I thought we would run out.

    After skipping a fire or two, the wood pile was looking a bit intimidating. I love camp fires, so I wasn't about to back away from a challenge. I set out to burn all the remaining wood. At one point the fire was so hot that many of the flames were blue.

    I managed to use all the wood, but Kelly still wanted more. So, we took the "dead and down" rule to a whole new level! There were a bunch of fallen logs around the camp site that I started cutting up. Then, Kelly decided that she wanted to play with the axe. She spent the afternoon looking for logs to feed into the fire. One of the ones she picked was completely rotted. It smelled horrible when we burned it, but we managed to get rid of all of it. The next campers on that site aren't going to have much cleaning up to do!

    One last note: on the ride home I spotted a sign that said "Watch for low-flying planes." Excuse me? Just what the heck am I supposed to do about it if I see one?

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    Tree Stump Removal

    My dad and I rented a tree stump removal tool over the weekend.
    This thing is tons of fun! Watch it eat those stumps!

    Watch here.