Friday, 26 October 2012


It seems like every time we go to Maui, we run into something cool. Usually, it's an NCAA Div 1 tournament, but this year, we're too early for that.

Last week, we were on line seeing what was happening on Maui while we were here. We saw there was a concert. But not just any concert: a "supergroup". The Dukes of September. Who the heck are they?

Boz Scaggs.
Boz and his axe
Michael MacDonald, of Doobie Brothers fame.
Mister White Lightning
Donald Fagen, of Steely Dan.
He DOES exist!
MacDonald sang background vocals on some Steely Dan in the '70's and '80's. Scaggs did too, but he also played guitar. These three are obvious buddies from way back.

In the '70's, Steely Dan was so reclusive I was convinced that neither Fagen nor his partner Walter Becker even existed. But I loved their music. Last night, they played Hey 19, Peg, Kid Charlemagne, Reelin' In The Years and Pretzel Logic. Never thought I would hear those live.
I had one of those when I was a kid
Boz played Lowdown and Lido Shuffle from the album Silk Degrees. That album came out in 1976, my first year of University, and was played relentlessly in my residence. Four players on that album went on to form the group Toto.
He's gotten oder, but otherwise still plays great
Michael played Takin' It To The Streets. His vocals are suffering as he gets older (Scaggs no, Fagen only a bit), but that's another song I never throught I would hear live.
The backup band was awesome. The guitarist (Jon Herrington) was killer (he has been touring for the last decade or more with Steely Dan).
The trumpet. There were also 2 sax/flute players 
Three backup singers, keyboards, bass, drums, guitar.
It was an excellent concert.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Ready to go

Thursday night, the cabinet installation dude finished. It took us most of the day Friday to clean up his mess; there was dust and sawdust everywhere. There are still a bunch of things on his "but" list, but we got to where we needed to be in order to go to Maui.
Main prep space. Microwave lives in the cubbyhole 
Eating bar on left. Space for dishwasher. Sink on right. 
Hole for the fridge. Stove on the extreme left. Pantry on right. 
The prep space again. Stove on right. Hole in counter for quartz block 
View as you enter. Eating bar in foreground.
Among the items on our "but" list:
  • We are missing a cabinet. It's a wall cabinet that will be to the left of the sink with an appliance garage under it. Apparently, they built it, installed the sliding aluminum/glass doors, and nothing worked, so it had to be re-made.
  • The electrician dude put the boxes in the ceiling for the pendants that hang over the eating bar in the wrong place. They are ~8" off centre, putting them in head banging territory. I really don't know what we can do about this.
  • There's supposed to be an electrical outlet built into that cabinet. However, the wires for it come out of the wall about 10" to the left of the cabinet.
The bend in the wire is about the end of where the cabinet should be.
  • We're installing an Insinkerator tap for instant hot water. The mini water heater lives under the sink. But the power for it comes into the back of the next cabinet over.
Electrical cord in the back of the garbage cupboard
  • Our broom cupboard is designed with a shelf in the middle -- at a height too low to put in any brooms. It has to be cut out, and a new permanent shelf has to be put in higher up.
The brown shelf is permanent
We also ended up with "spare parts" including:
  • An entire extra sheet of countertop laminate;
  • Not 1, but 2 front panels for the dishwasher;
  • 4 shelves that don't fit any cupboard we have.
Our landscaper dude never showed up this week like he promised he would. We have only been trying to get him here since August. So on Thursday, KC and I spent 2 hours hauling 30+ wheelbarrow loads of dirt to our water well. The ground settled there over last winter, making a depression around the well. This is bad, since in encourages surface runoff to collect there which can run down around the casing and contaminate my water. Landscaper dude was supposed to fill the pit this past spring when he dug my foundation, but there was a dumpster in his way. So he was supposed to fill it when he did the landscaping, but he remains a no-show. So on what we were convinced to be the last reasonable day of weather this year (sunny and +11°), we did it by hand, and re-graded the area so water will run off it. I forgot to take a picture after we were finished. But I was certainly correct about the last nice day prediction, since here's what it looks like today:
The grade looks great. I promise.
For yes, it snowed, and the forecast for the upcoming week is for cold (highs rarely above freezing) and more snow. As such, essentially no more landscaping will get done this fall (and we're not letting them do it while we are away). Our back yard will remain a dirt pile, and in the spring when everything melts and it starts to rain, we will be awash in a sea of mud.

We did receive a replacement window this week. We decided the rotted old window in our formerly leaky stairwell had to go.
The window in question, from a few weeks back
The new window wasn't that expensive, but the delivery charge was huge -- about half the price of the window. So we arranged to go into Calgary Thursday and pick it up ourselves, while taking my cat to Calgary to be pampered by friends while we are away. Imagine our surprise when the window arrived on Wednesday. Ah, well. They'll be painting and installing it while we are gone, and we've said it's OK to fix our broken stair railings and finish painting the now finished stairwell, too.

So we are off to Maui Monday. When we get back in late November (in time for the start of ski season), before we can use the kitchen, we have to:
  • Install the missing cabinet, and fix some "but" list items;
  • Level the floor, install the in-floor heating and the floor tile;
  • Install the appliances and hood fan;
  • Install the sink and taps;
  • Install the backsplash;
  • Hook up all the heating, plumbing and the electrical bits.
Whaddya think. Easter? Welcome to Canmore time.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Christmas in October

Last Friday morning, box upon box of kitchen cabinetry arrived. It was like Christmas, only more expensive.
Slightly out of focus boxes
Countertop, and other stuff
I thought they would not start constructing until Monday, but the installer dude showed up Friday afternoon and started unpacking and laying everything out.
Unboxed towers 
Rough sink layout 
Rough workzone layout
Installer dude came back Saturday and worked, skipped Sunday and expects to be finished the cabinet install tomorrow. As I type this, he's doing the counter top.
Wall pantry installed (but full of tools) 
Huge wine rack
The wine rack is so big that we have been warned: fill it up, and it will likely tear off the wall. In hindsight, we could have made it half the size and it would have been fine.
Out of focus picture of the sink & peninsula
It's really starting to look like a kitchen.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

A visitor

We were doing some housework the other day when my cat made a mad dash for the patio doors. I thought Jello was after a squirrel or a dog, but here was a pine marten on my deck. He didn't seem to care about my cat. By the time I got my camera he was gone. This was our second visit of a pine marten, the first being in February.

Yesterday, he came back, and this time, spent a lot of time scampering about my yard. They move fast, don't stay still long, and like to hide, so he was tough to photograph, but you'll get the idea.
On my deck. Not blurry 
On my fence. Blurry 
Staring at me. Blurry 
Running across my yard. Blurry. 
On my driveway. Not blurry, but partially obscured. 
Running up my driveway. Blurry.
I'm really not a fan of autofocus cameras.

My neighbour was outside when Mr. Marten was running around, so he sicked his dog on him. My neighbour isn't a fan of pine martens. They chase his chickens, break into the pen and eat them. They get into attics and make a mess (we found pine marten poo in our attic when we took the kitchen apart. He ate squirrels in there). So my neighbour likes to live trap martens and release them elsewhere in the valley.

Chased by a barking dog, Mr. Marten raced up a tree in my yard, ran around up in the trees for a few minutes, then bolted the other direction into my other neighbour's yard, straight under the deck. Looks like he's living there, which is probably fine, though now that they know about it, my new neighbours are worried and probably want him gone.

Personally, I like them. As long as they stay out of my house.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

The last warm hike of the summer

This was the week that summer ended. On Monday, it was 24°. On Tuesday it poured rain, and on Wednesday, with a high of 4°, it snowed about 10 cm, and with temps never about 10°, the snow stuck around until Friday (and there's still some in the shadier places).

We saw this coming and last Friday, when it was 23°, did a hike we have wanted to do since we moved here: we walked out of our house, picked up the Montane Traverse Trail, and walked across to Canmore at Cougar Creek, a distance of 9.4 km. I stashed our bikes over there, and we rode the 7 km back on the paved bike paths.

This isn't a spectacular hike, but rather a pleasant and fairly long wander through the forest with occasionally pretty views across the valley, which were especially nice with the fall colours.
The Three Sisters 
Mt. Lougheed over Wind Ridge 
Down the valley 
Fall colour 
The end at Cougar Creek
This trail is more popular with mountain bikers than hikers, and it cuts through a wildlife corridor where access is restricted to just the trail. We saw virtually no wildlife on the hike, other than 2 squirrels. The trail skirts the Silvertip Golf Course where there have been bear sightings this week. There's a great photo on the WildSmart Bow Valley Facebook page, but I can't repost it here.

Alas, as I noted it snowed 10 cm on Wednesday, and the highest temperature I see in the forecast is 14°, with lots of chilly lows. We hiked in shorts and were hot; I'm betting that's the last of that hiking outfit for the year. Traditionally, our last hike each year is within a few days of Oct 15. Last year, we climbed Lady Mac, and may do it again as it's not a trail that collects snow. We're sliding into "prep for Maui" mode as the hiking season winds down.

The roof is finally finished

The roofers showed up and started roofing on September 21st, and finished Thursday, 14 days after they started. I suppose they were doing well on the days they were here -- until the sunroom, where the re-flashing of the skylights took 4 days instead of 1, and entailed the total disassembly of the skylight. 
Torching on the torch on bit 
Working on a nice day
It dumped rain earlier this week before the roof was finished, but there were no leaks (at least not through the roof). It also snowed this week, and in fact snowed while a skylight was off, so it snowed into the house (but only for about 2 minutes until they got the tarp on).
Out of focus shot of the finished roof
What did happen this week was that the basement leaked during the rainstorm. This was because of all the water pouring off the new roof and no eavestroughing to re-direct it. With no where to go, it all ran to the alcove in the centre of the photo and leaked into my stairwell. Not that much came into the house, and nothing was damaged (though the mice who seem to live down there may have taken up scuba diving). The eavestroughing should be installed next week.

The painter dude also started this week, first putting a scratch coat on the walls, then spray painting the doors -- leaving rather entertaining marks.
I like it
A lot of other minor stuff got done, including filling the space at the base of the drywall, putting casing around the windows, pulling an errant pipe from the floor, prepping the back yard for the landscapers (whenever they may come), and replacing the last bits of shot siding.
Apparently, there was nothing behind that siding. It was the only thing between the squirrels and the attic.