Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekend highlights

Sat morning Spouse went for his work out while I fed and walked the dog, drank coffee, and watched several back-to-back episodes of 'Sell This House'. I love this little Sat morning routine.

Spouse and I ran a few errands including stopping in at the stained glass studio. Unfortunately they did not have the right glass colors in stock, but they offered to order what was needed and have us come in later to approve the colors. I also inquired about classes and found that its a full day (10am-5pm) where you learn the techniques, how to use the tools, and actually work in the studio with them. I love this idea, rather than several weeks worth of 2-hour classes. I think I'm going to sign up for this at some point, perhaps in Jan or Feb when there's not much else going on.

We had lunch and then went to Steve & Thad's to see Thad's vintage hat boxes (I will borrow a few for the car show) and to visit. We had a nice time seeing their house, talking about Thad's upcoming birthday party, and just getting to know each other better. Afterward we went to a state Democratic fundraiser held at the pavilion at the beach. The 'Beach Jamboree' was fun and we saw and listened to short speeches by the Governor, Lt. Governor, former Governor, and many other Democratic politicos. The food was good, too. The tickets were a gift from our friends Scott & Dave who are very politically active. Afterward we had a relaxing night watching TV.

After breakfast on Sun, Spouse went to the store while I stayed home and did some housecleaning. As much as I am enjoying watching the progress of the addition, it is a dusty process. We have given ourselves lots of leeway with housecleaning during this process, knowing that deep cleaning every weekend would be a huge waste of time. So our weekend housecleaning is more about trying to minimize the tracking around of dirt and dust. When the job is done we'll hire someone to clean the entire house thoroughly.

Then we met up with Steve & Thad, Bob, Jason, and Mark at the beach. It was a beautiful day! It was in the mid 80s but the humidity had dropped and there was a nice breeze coming off the water so it was a perfect beach day. The after effects of hurricane Danny left the water warm but kind of wild. The waves were much higher than normal and looked kind of dangerous, so we only got into the water about knee high. But it was really fun to be on the beach with friends on such a beautiful day. After showering and feeding/walking the dog, we met Steve & Thad at the Miltonian Pizzeria & Wing House for pizza and wings. What a great way to end a great day!

Later that night I watch Design Star and was kind of unimpressed by the team's answer to the big backyard challenge. I thought the finished yard looked nice, but I agreed with judge Candace Olsen who said everything looked purchased rather than designed. It looked nice and the homeowners were happy with it, but it just didn't look like 4 aspiring designers had 'designed' a backyard retreat. Despite Dan's mistake with the budget, Torrie was sent home for her lack of leadership as the team captain.

Crush du Jour: Jason Giambi

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Addition update - week 11

Week 11

Mon: The HVAC work was finally finished. The amount of HVAC work was minimal when compared to the plumbing and electrical, but the HVAC work took the longest due to an emergency in the HVAC contractor's family. He finally finished his work, just in time for me to request a couple of corrections. In the photo below you can see the first location of the vent on the right, and the new location of the vent on the left.
The first location was in the middle of a wall which would prevent any furniture from being placed there. So I had him move the vent to the right. In the photo below you can see 2 patches in the sub flooring inside the storage area.
This is because Mike the builder was not happy with the location of another vent, so he had the HVAC guy move it. Honestly, I believe the HVAC guy is a good tradesman or Mike the builder wouldn't use him all the time. I'm sure he was just distracted by his family situation. Attic ventilation was also added, and some siding and trim touch-up painting was done.

Tues: The framing of the soffit for the new HVAC trunk line was completed.
Insulation was put in the garage...
and closet/dressing room.
Wed: The drywall was delivered. I wish I could have taken some pictures of the cool crane they used to unload the heavy sheets of drywall off the truck and into the garage and house, but they arrived just as I was about to walk the dog, and they were finishing up 15 minutes later when we got back. The guy used a remote control device that looked like a Nintendo game console to operate the crane. They removed the upper and lower sashes from the upstairs window and slid the 4' x 8' sheets of drywall into the window opening with the remote controlled crane! I was amazed how little time it took them.

Just as the drywall delivery guys finished, the drywall hangers arrived, a day early. Ooops! A scheduling error meant they had to hang the drywall on Wed or else return next week. So Mike the builder, Jay, and Junior scrambled around for a few minutes to move their tools etc away from the garage walls so the drywall could go up. About an hour later, here's what the garage looked like:
Here is the original bathroom with new drywall:
Standing in the original bathroom looking into the new space:
Above, the 1st door on the right is the toilet closet. The 2nd door on the right leads into the closet/dressing room, and the space straight ahead is the shower.
Standing in front of the shower and tub looking back toward the entry, the hole seen above is where a recessed linen shelving unit will be installed.
Standing in the original bathroom looking into the new space, here is the window wall, tub, and the cut-out for the glass block. Below is the right side of the closet/dressing room.
Here is the left side of the closet/dressing room:
While the drywall crew was busy inside, Mike the builder, Jay and Junior were busy outside installing the reclaimed tongue-and-groove wood ceiling in the portico above the side door:
and painting the scallop siding.

Thurs: The end of the porch ceiling got its siding applied:
as did the wall inside the portico:
More scallop trim was painted.
Fri: The trim was painted and installed on the inside ceiling of the front porch.
The foyer and powder room drywall was replaced.
The foyer and powder room ceilings had been opened up for HVAC and plumbing access.

I can't get over how different it looks now that the drywall is up. Its much easier now to feel the dimensions of the new spaces. Next week the drywall finishing will take place, which means lots and lots of drywall dust.

Crush du Jour: Tom Duer

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

After turning off the word verification on my blog again, the spam robots wasted no time 'commenting' on my blog... again. In 1 day I had 3 bogus comments. So I've turned word verification back on. Sorry folks.

This is one of the craziest, most dangerous things I've ever seen! Its really hard to believe someone would do this. Um, how would one practice?

Has everyone begun making their plans to attend the National Equality March?
In case this is the first you've heard of it, or if you're wondering why we need to participate, click here.

This (NSFW) was sent to me by my friend Dick, which is funny. Had it been sent by a friend named something else, I wouldn't have thought it funny at all. Enjoy!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Crush du Jour: Aamir Khan

Thursday, August 27, 2009


In many states it is still illegal for financially and emotionally stable gay and lesbian couples to adopt children. Somehow their being gay makes them unfit parents.
Yet there is absolutely no requirement for heterosexual people to be decent parents as long as they can reproduce. They can be unemployed and abusive, but as long as they're fertile, they can be parents.

This point was brought home to me when a friend emailed me this article. The Smith family's pet, 1/2 dog 1/2 wolf, named Dakota snatched the Smith's 3-day old baby from its crib, which resulted in a skull fracture, collapsed lungs, broken ribs, contusions and cuts. The animal was removed by authorities, but Mr Smith wants the wolf-dog to be returned to the house!

Despite the animal nearly killing his newborn son, Mr Smith wants to bring Dakota back home.

Perhaps this shouldn't be so surprising when you consider Smith's complete disregard for family safety. Authorities responding to the baby mauling found a loaded gun sitting on the coffee table.

So, I ask these 2 questions:
  1. Why is a gay couple, together 8 years, both of whom are professionally employed, who have the money to hire a full-time nanny while they are at work, denied from adopting a child because they are gay?
  2. Why is the Smith family, who wishes to bring their wolf-dog back home where they leave loaded weapons sitting around, after the said animal nearly mauled their infant son to death, allowed to keep their child?
I only come up with one answer: discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Something is WRONG with this picture.

Crush du Jour: Jesus Luz

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The possibilities are endless

In late Sept Spouse & I will be attending our 1st car show where Big Ella will be entered and judged.

I don't care a single bit about the judging part. We've attended this car show before as spectators and to me, that's what its all about: seeing and appreciating these gorgeous pieces of drivable art.

But in order to show your car to car club members and the public at the show, you have to enter your car, and as long as it is entered, it will be judged by the other car club members. Trophies will be given out in several categories, but as I said, I don't care about that part at all.

The car show will be on a Sat, but the car club is having member activities on Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun. I thought it would be fun to have some auto-inspired shirts to wear to some of these activities, so I went online (of course) and found this website that allows you to create your own customized gear (mugs, mouse pads, clothing, umbrellas, you name it). You can type in text or upload photos to appear on your items, and the prices were not as high as I expected for this level of customization.

So I created 2 t-shirts to wear on 2 of the 4 days of the event: this one is obviously a variation of the 'got milk?' campaign, and this one which is an actual photo I took of Big Ella. See? Here's my photo:

and here's the t-shirt. I ordered 1 of each t-shirt for me and for Spouse (although we'll likely wear them on opposite days since Spouse HATES it when we accidentally wear matching clothes), and can hardly wait for them to arrive!

Another cool thing about this site is that you can allow the site to list your custom created items for sale to others. So someone else who loves tail fins like me can search "tail fins", see my 'got fins?' t-shirt, and buy it, and the site will give me credit toward future purchases. You can also create your own virtual 'store' of customized products for other enthusiasts to buy. I mean, if you're a creative person you could literally create hundreds of funny or themed items for your virtual 'store' and possibly earn enough credit to shop on the site for free. I think that's pretty cool!

My mind has been reeling ever since with all kinds of funny and/or poignant sayings and slogans I could put on t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.

You can create a one-of-a-kind gift for the person who has everything: a coffee mug with "ABBA rules!" on it.

Think of how fun it would be to have customized apparel to wear to family reunions: "Phucker Phamily Reunion", milestone anniversary celebrations: "Dominic & Antoinette's 50th wedding anniversary", and milestone birthday parties: "Steve Collins is really, really old". You can really make a statement at a GLBT equality march by having all your friends show up in the same t-shirt with a tag line: "Equal rights, not special rights".

Really, the possibilities are endless!

Crush du Jour: Owen Hawk

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stained glass

Stained glass is a pretty significant element of our house. There are 6 installed stained glass light fixtures and 3 stained glass lamps, and there are 5 stained glass panels mounted inside windows. When designing the garage/bath/closet addition we decided to repeat the stained glass element because we like stained glass and because it would further tie in the new portion with the existing house.

Spouse saw an ad in the local GLBT magazine for a stained glass studio that sells pre-made pieces, makes custom pieces, and gives lessons. The studio is only about a mile from our house, so we stopped by one day and met the owners, a married couple whom we liked right away. We explained our project, looked at their pre-made pieces for sale, and browsed their huge glass selection.

I took digit photos of our existing window inserts and emailed them and our new window dimensions to the stained glass couple and asked for estimates. They gave us an accurate estimate on the window insert we want duplicated, and a rough estimate on the other, different pieces. They asked us to come back into the shop and look at some glass samples they pulled out for us, so we went in again last Sun. They also said they wanted to see the window inserts in person (to check my measurements and assembly technique) so we made arrangements for them to come by yesterday evening.

They really seemed to know their stuff. We talked about lead versus copper, mounting versus hanging options, etc. and they seemed to understand my concern for staying within our budget. Because we live in a small historic town where homes are more expensive that those in the non-historic areas, some tradespeople think that money is 'no object' for people who live here. Well, it is certainly an object for us, so I have found it good to mention "working within a budget" whenever dealing with tradespeople.

Here is the side of our house, before the addition. Notice there is a diamond shaped window between the 2 rectangular windows in the dormer on the 3rd floor. (Click the image to expand it.)
There is another diamond shaped window between the side door and a rectangular window on the main floor. Both diamond shaped windows have stained glass inserts with the same pattern: a tulip. More on the tulip motif later.*
Here is a close-up that shows the different colors and the different patterns of clear glass used.
So we are going to have the stained glass couple (SGC) duplicate the diamond shaped window insert above but make it larger for the new, larger diamond shaped window in the dressing room (on the left, below).
When all is said and done, from the side of our house you'll see all 3 diamond shaped window and they will have the same tulip pattern and colors. Pretty nifty, eh?

Here is our house from the side/front, before the addition. Notice in the peak on the 3rd floor there are 3 rectangular windows.
Here are the 3 stained glass inserts in those windows:
Here is a close-up:
Also visible from the front of the house are these 3 new window, located over the tub in the bathroom part of the addition.
At first we thought we'd have the pattern duplicated from the 3rd floor window inserts for these 3 windows, but then decided against it. We started thinking it may be too many tulips, and since the 3 inserts above have a lot of clear 'air bubble' glass in them, you can see through them pretty easily, which is not so great for windows over your tub.

So when we spoke to the SGC in the studio on Sun, we asked them to help us design a complimentary window insert using the same colors, but less clear glass and no tulips. They assured me there was no extra charge for custom designing, just the materials used and time to assemble them. So Spouse & I designed simple, sort of geometric pattern using the same glass colors as the other windows, along with some clear glass, and a diamond in the center. The SGC will make 3 of them, which will be hung in the lower sash of the 3 windows over the tub.

When the SGC came last night for the measurements, etc. they had a drawing of our custom design, and I must say I think its terrific! I should have snapped a picture of it while they were here, but I didn't think of it, so you'll just have to wait until the window inserts are done to see it.

*Now, for the story behind the tulip motif. Our house was built in 2005, which was also our town's 375th anniversary. As a part of the 375th anniversary celebration, the local garden club planted 10,000 tulip bulbs in public areas like parks, libraries, and government buildings. They chose tulips because tulips are very Dutch, and our town was originally a Dutch settlement in 1630. So when the stained glass inserts were designed for this house, they chose the tulip motif to commemorate the house's completion during the year of the town's 375th anniversary as a Dutch settlement.

Crush du Jour: Jonathan Agassi

Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend highlights

Recently we've been spending time with and getting to know Steven & Thad better. Thad was intrigued to learn that I have been writing this blog for 4 1/2 years and has become a loyal reader.

He recently gave me a little grief because I had not mentioned in my blog a very enjoyable dinner we had. (He was kidding, of course.) In reality, the dinner occurred last Mon night and I simply forgot to include it in my Friday fragments.

This past weekend we spent a good bit of time with Steven & Thad, so I'm sure Thad will be happy to see that I am mentioning him, several times. It was a very 'Thad' weekend!

Sat morning after Spouse returned from his personal trainer appointment, we picked up Big Ella from the storage center (her temporary home until the garage is done) and went to a car show at 1st State Chevrolet. It was hosted by a Corvette club so there were probably 30-40 Corvettes in every color, old and new, convertibles, targa tops, and T-tops, along with a smattering of other collectible cars. Rick & Nick entered their Corvette and Viper in the show. We drove Big Ella but did not enter her since we arrived after the registration period had ended. However I parked her near the entries so observers could appreciate her anyway. Steven & Thad also came, and we walked around together for 30 minutes or so, looking at the great samples of automobile Americana. It was about 90 degrees and extremely humid.

Afterward we had lunch with Steven & Thad at Pizza Palace, a spot where Thad had eaten lunch several times before, since he works nearby. The food was pretty tasty and very reasonably priced. Unfortunately Steven's 'lunch flow' was irreparably thrown out of whack when the waitress brought his slice of pizza at the same time as his cheeseburger. The slice was supposed to be an appetizer! Once home again, Spouse took a nap and I prepared some blog stuff. Later we went out for a ride in Big Ella, then returned her to the storage place just as it began to sprinkle. We stopped at the grocery store, then went home and watched TV.

Sun morning we had coffee and watched a little TV, then did some housecleaning. Our DVD stopped working correctly so I pulled an extra one out of the attic and used it to replace the 'bad' one. The 'bad' one would play for a while, then freeze. The remote and panel buttons did nothing. The only way to free it up was to turn the player off completely, then turn it back on and skip through the chapters to find where we'd left off. This happened like 8 times while trying to watch a DVD and was very frustrating! Anybody else every heard of this?

After showers we went to Chris & Jason's house for Chris' birthday party/dinner. Jason made delicious lasagna and other food. I couldn't believe we stayed for 5 hours, but we were enjoying meeting some new folks and talking with folks we already knew, like Chris & Jason, the Bobs, and Steven & Thad. We had a lot of fun!

Shortly after returning home I watched 'Design Star'. For the 2nd week in a row, Jason said "functionable" (not a real word) instead of "functional". After viewing his 'high energy' hosting skills during the room reveal, Jason said to the judges "I am SO gay." DUH!!! But yet again, he could not complete his room in the allotted time and the judges thought it looked amateurish. Buh-bye Jason. I wonder if Thad watched 'Design Star'?

Crush du Jour: Arap Bethke

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Addition update - week 10

Week 10
This week was all about finishing up things in preparation for 3 key inspections, so the photos this week aren't so exciting. But, here you have them.

Mon: More HVAC work, more electrical work, and more plumbing work were done, most of which were not visible. Some roofing touch-up was completed. The siding application continued.

Tues: More HVAC, electrical, and plumbing work was done. Here is the wiring for the light fixtures on either side of the garage door.
The door from the house into the garage is installed. There used to be a window in this spot, which was removed and relocated on the outside wall of the garage. This opening was boarded up for a few weeks, but now has a fire-proof door.

Wed: The plumbing and electrical inspections both took place: we passed! This is the new electric breaker box in the garage. The house's breaker box was full so an additional box was installed for all the new electrical outlets, lighting fixtures, and the heated/jetted tub.
The application of the tan HardiPlank siding continues on the back of the garage.
Thurs: Framing around the HVAC duct in the garage was started.
We know that we will have a Rinnai tankless water heater installed at some point, so we had the 'rough in' done now while the addition was under construction. When we're ready, the Rinnai unit can be purchased and easily installed. Here is the 'rough in' for the venting of the Rinnai.
Fri: The framing inspection occurred: we passed! Some exterior trim touch-up painting was done, and the crew went home early. Its been so hot and humid that I didn't blame them for knocking off early. Of course, about an hour after they left, the scalloped siding they'd been waiting for all week was delivered.
Mike the builder gave us a catalog and we picked out our garage door.

Crush du Jour: Mat Lutge

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

My cousin Hilleary will be visiting me this afternoon. He lives in CA but spends 2 weeks on the East coast every Aug to spend time with this parents and siblings. He's been at the beach for a few days, and will stop by our house this afternoon to chat and then go to dinner with us, similar to last summer. I'm looking forward to visiting with him and 2 of his sons.

My neighbor Claudia's fig tree is producing like crazy, and Claudia generously brought over a bunch of sweet, delicious figs for us! They are wonderful to eat plain, but can also be fabulous stuffed with goat cheese or wrapped with bacon. Until living here I had never eaten a fig, unless you count those Fig Newton snacks.

My friend Bill sent me this.

I think its funny because it suggests an older woman would try to 'trade in' her clunker/husband, but it also demonstrates how so many lazy Americans don't read or learn the facts. Confusing a car trade-in program with health care reform is completely believable, considering what we hear coming out of some of the Town Hall meetings. To rebut them, I offer to you this:Isn't that poignant?

I am in love with Ohs cereal. There's something about the balance of graham, honey, and oats that I find delicious. And as an added bonus, it is the least expensive cereal on the entire isle at just $1.99.

Despite my early reluctance, I have really been enjoying Facebook. But my enjoyment has not been without some trials. Early on I located a friend from high school named Tim, with whom I was very close. We spent time at each other's houses, and he wrote a very nice tribute in my senior yearbook. Soon after reconnecting on Facebook and exchanging some 'nice to see you again' kind of messages on each other's walls, I noticed he dropped out of my friend list. I sent him a friend request again, but it was ignored. After finding and friending several more friends from high school who were also friends of Tim's, I tried yet again to friend him, but he as ignored the request. I'm sure now that he does not want to be friends with me, and I suspect it is because he now knows that I'm gay. Whatever! Its his loss. I finally had to de-friend a former high school friend named Christa. Somehow, she turned into an ultra-conservative racist, and I got tired of seeing all her anti-everything posts. It was like watching Fox News. So I de-friended her. I am still enjoying Facebook though, despite these minor trials.

Our accountant was too busy to complete our Federal and State tax returns by April 15, so he filed extensions for us. This week we got our completed returns from him (to sign and mail) and were delighted to see that we are still going to get sizable refunds, despite having sold our house in VA last year. YAY!!

I saw
this lovely video over at Kelly's blog and had to share it. Who knew the Golden Girls were so ahead of their time?!?!

A friend posted this link on Facebook and I just had to share it. Doesn't this aptly named 'Double Bypass Burger' look delicious?
Its a hamburger topped with 5 slices of bacon, 4 slices of cheese, 2 fried eggs, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion stacked between 2 grilled cheese sandwiches. Seriously. I'm drooling. Who's with me?

The forecast indicates we're going to get a bit of a reprieve from this oppressive heat this weekend. We're going to drive Big Ella to a Corvette show at a Chevrolet dealership on Sat. We've been to this show before and have seen others drive their non-Corvettes for car enthusiasts to see and enjoy. In the afternoon we're going to the beach. Sun we're going to a birthday party.

Have a great weekend!

Crush du Jour: Adam Tucker