Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Anniversary Presents

It was December 23, 2011 when we actually moved into our new house, only 129 days after we took possession of it. You can read about that eventful day here.

So it seemed somehow fitting that when we got home from skiing on December 21st this year, we arrived to a new kitchen that was essentially finished. Electrician dude was in on the last work day before Christmas to fix up some things that weren't working, and releasing us to "move in".

Now, we are not totally done. We still have a "but" list of items. There is still wiring to change out in the garage. There are shelves missing from cabinets because the sent the wrong ones. There are doors on some cabinets with the wrong hinges. There are bases missing from other cabinets. There are repairs to be made on one of the trim strips because the laminate has delaminated. A drop in bit of quartz countertop has not yet been cut.

But we are essentially done, almost one year to the day after we moved in, giving us an anniversary present for our first year here.

And it looks good.
Missing counter bit in the middle 
Eating peninsula 
New laundry area in the back 
Screaming for art to be hung
And so we did what we designed the kitchen to do: we entertained. We had folks over for dinner on Dec 22 and again for our annual Christmas Eve lobster extravaganza (which I wrote about in 2007 and last year).

Now we just have to get rid of the old fridge, move the stuff from the old basement room to the new basement room so we can paint the floor, move it back, move the freezer and beer fridge back where they belong, complete the landscaping, connect the sump pump drain, and clean up all the "but" list things...

Maybe we're not quite done. Sigh.

Sunday, 23 December 2012


There are those who might call me a competitive person. I never think of myself that way, though I do compete with myself on some things.

Skiing is one of those things. I like to challenge myself, tacking new places and runs that I don't get to very often, and skiing more/farther/longer than previous years.

I am silly enough to keep skiing stats. I used to report my stats here before I started contributing to the Powderwatch.com blog. Now that I write over there, I don't write too much about skiing here.

But today was a bit of a "red letter" day. As I mention in today's Powderwatch post, I had the happenstance to be very early to the hill, stuck at the hill until late, and skiing on my own. So I decided to go for as much vertical as I could today.

The easy way to do this would have been to find something groomed and rip up and down it. But 6-25 cm of snow fell last night, so there really was no corduroy around, just acres of powder. So I skied it like I normally would, only more of it.

And I skied 13,640 vertical meters in 25 runs today. That's 44,750 vertical feet.

My best day ever was April 1, 2001, when I managed 15,430 m (50,623 vertical feet) in 29 runs on a day with a lot of groomed runs, sunshine and 10 cm of powder.

My second best was April 12, 1997, when I estimate that I got 14,263 m (46,795'). My altimeter was broken that day, so I kept track of my runs and calculated the vertical. It was a groomer day with sun and no new snow.

Today was my third best day ever, and even more impressive an accomplishment as the weather wasn't good, there were no groomers, and there was tons of new snow.

I wonder if I will ever get a chance to break 50,000' again.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Chicken wings

It's official. We're in the kitchen and cooking.

The electrician dudes came back today while we were out skiing to finish, and they sort of did. The lights on my porch still don't work, and I have a plug that doesn't work yet, but my hood fan works.

The hood fan dude came back and installed the stack and chimney...
Fan done
...scratching my newly painted ceiling while doing it.
Who fixes this?
Having been cooking outside since mid July, I had a serious hankering to bake something for dinner on my first night with a stove again. I have been craving home made chicken wings for a while, and telling everyone that it would be my first meal in my new kitchen.

So I roasted up a batch for dinner tonight. They were awesome. Even my contractor knew it was wing night, and he sent me a text accordingly. I also boiled up some ribs for broiling tomorrow. It's nice to have my stove back.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The End is always Tomorrow

As of last Monday, here's what was left (and when it was supposed to be done) before our kitchen project was finished:

  • Final painting (Monday)
  • Grouting the backsplash (Monday)
  • Kitchen cabinet "but" list items (Tuesday)
  • Installation of the hood fan (Tuesday)
  • Completion of the electrical (Wednesday)
Based on this, we shut down our temporary kitchen space and moved to our new kitchen space on Sunday in anticipation of completion. We even used the kitchen space as prep zone on Sunday night (though I'm still cooking outside in -15° temps). Now, we did this in part because a friend from Ontario started staying with us on Monday night, and we needed to turn our guest room back into a guest room. But still, we're supposed to be done Wednesday.

When we started the week, everything was lined up for a Wednesday finish. All the trades were scheduled. But...

It's Canmore.

Monday, the painter dudes came and wrapped us up in plastic and drop cloths.
Everything we need is under wraps
Made it kinda hard to access anything to cook. Then the grout dude delayed a day -- meaning he got in the way of the kitchen dude. They made a mess on Tuesday, and all the while the painter dudes were still painting (which in the end took 3 days, not 1).

Kitchen dude spent several hours re-installing the fridge, and the panels on the front of the fridge. He was also able to finish some other stuff, like the wine rack interior...
...and the toe kick under the dishwasher, but he has still not received many kitchen "but" list parts we thought we would have by now (glass shelves for one cupboard, a latch for another, bases for 2 others, a replacement door, a replacement trim bit, etc) so he won't be back "for some time". 

Accordingly, hood fan dude was delayed a day, and only got in late today to partially re-install the fan.
Panels on, grout done (but not cleaned) and fan partially installed
And thus, electrical dude got delayed a day (now supposedly here Thursday) and after he's done (hopefully in 1 day), hood fan dude STILL needs to come back to connect the vent pipe and put on the chimney cover (probably Friday) after the electrical dude is done. A 1 day hood fan job becomes a 2 day job.

In typical Canmore time, what was supposed to be 3 more days of work turned out to be 5 more days of work -- 66% longer than expected.

It's seeming these days like the end of this project is always "tomorrow". As the immortal Frank Sinatra once sang:

Let's forget about tomorrow,
For tomorrow never comes.

Monday, 10 December 2012

He's back again!

My pine marten was back again today, and this time, he really didn't seem to be in a rush to leave, so I got lots of photos.
What a face 
He was following vole tracks 
What does he smell?
It turns out the little dude was hunting for something up in the tree:
What's up there?
"Up there" is my suet feeder.
Found it!
But when he found it, all he did was sniff it and move on. He never attempted to lick it or break into it (knowing him, he would have chewed through the bars in a heartbeat). No, he got into the tree, sniffed it, then moved on to track the voles.
Outta here

Friday, 7 December 2012

A newbies thoughts on Twitter

I'll admit I wasn't a Twitter person until about 2 months ago when someone had to step up to the plate and pick up the Friends of Kananaskis twitter feed given the imminent departure of our program coordinator (recall that I am a Director of the Friends).

Being a smart guy about these things, rather than screw up the Friends twitter feed with newbie mistakes, I decided to create my own Twitter feed, and "practice" there. Tweeting's not hard, but it does involve a rather unnecessarily complex vocabulary all its own.

So I have now started tweeting as the Friends of Kananaskis, too. And I have learned much about tweeting.

First, Twitter really boils down to "producers" of tweets, and "consumers" of tweets. As myself, I consume tweets. I consume the tweets of my ski area to see how much snow there has been and what runs are open. I consume the tweets of the road reports and the avalanche forecasts. I consume the tweets of my local papers.

As the Friends tweeter, I produce tweets that my followers (consumers) want to see, including hiking and mountain biking condition reports and current weather information. I re-tweet information my followers will care about if they don't follow the reports of the avalanche and public safety guys.

As myself, I could give a hoot about the latest ramblings of Lindsay Lohan (a producer of tweets). As the Friends tweeter, I could give a hoot about Lindsay Lohan, because we're in the hiking trail maintenance business, and Ms. Lohan is in the "get into trouble" business.

So key Twitter learning #1: understand if your a producer or consumer of tweets. Act accordingly.

Second, I find Tweets MUCH less interactive than Facebook. MANY Facebook status updates could be tweets, but Facebook is far more interactive about the way we deal with those posts (note: the Friends has a Facebook account which I will also soon control). I can ignore a Tweet or Facebook post. But if I care to comment on, or enter into a debate on, said information, it is MUCH easier to do so on Facebook than Twitter.

Third, Twitter's main value is its immediacy. But you need to continuously follow your Twitter feed constantly in order to benefit from that immediacy. Examples:

  • I get to the ski hill, and a section is closed for avalanche control (I knew that would be the case from the morning Snow Safety tweet I read at breakfast). I ski a bit. Then I learn that that closed section is now open and dozens have been in. They found out because they saw it open. But at least one person came a'running because he saw the tweet that it was open. Well, I don't look at the twitter feed on the ski hill (but obviously, some skiers do). So unless I'm monitoring the feed, the producer's info isn't available to me as the consumer.
  • I am driving to Calgary and "on the road". The AMA road report tweets that the road is closed/blocked for weather/accident (great, immediate info about a traffic snarl I could avoid). But I drive right up to and am stuck in the traffic jam, because I can't access the immediate tweet unless my iPhone or computer is on the Twitter feed continuously (while I'm driving, which happens to be illegal where I live).

So Twitter's an interesting idea, but I'm really struggling to see the value, unless you have nothing better to do than sit on the feed and watch it all day long. I have 6 followers, the Friends have 56. Perhaps the reason that the Friends of Kananaskis don't have a lot of followers is because whomever set up the Twitter account spelled Kananaskis wrong.

I'm just glad that no one will live or die based on the info in the Friends tweets.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012


Tiler dude returned first thing this morning, and in a matter of hours, tiled both behind the sink...
Tiled, not grouted
...and behind the stove. The plumber dude was also here, and he hooked up the stove, though I can't use it since we have to wait for a few days before re-hanging the hood fan, plus the fan's wiring has to be reconnected.
Wonder where the fan will go?
The tile needs to sit for at least 3 days before it can be grouted so the grout colour doesn't run, so it may be Monday before he's back.

The painter dude was also here for a short while, painting the closet where the washer/dryer will live. We could move them upstairs, but need the electrician to put the plug in place, and the infamous "somebody" to connect the dryer vent.

Countertop dude also came by and took away the slab of quartz, leaving me with a sheet of corrugated plastic sign board with which to cut a template to fit the space. Not sure when he'll have the quartz cut, but it's really no rush.

Tomorrow, we are supposed to have cabinet dude installing the panels for the fridge.

Monday, 3 December 2012

More whoops

The fridge got put in place on Saturday. Somehow. By somebody. One of those processes we're glad we didn't see.
Awaiting front panels
The hood fan got installed, too -- mostly.
Fan in place, but no chimney cover
You can see that there's no chimney cover for the exhaust pipe. The installer dude took it away to cut it to size. I thought this would be a problem as I thought you first put the fan in place, then tiled the backsplash, and the backsplash dude was due today.

Well, the backsplash dude arrived and it turns out I was really wrong -- in great part because we are using small (1" square) glass tiles, the tiles must go on the wall before the hood fan and chimney. So the fan had to come off the wall, then the wall could get tiled, then the fan has to be re-mounted. All that work installing the thing on Saturday was for naught.
Hood fan removed 
Back to Friday
I thought the tiler dude could install the backsplash behind the sink, but also apparently not, at least not without some adjustments. Turns out that in our not-very-square house, the gap between the wall and the back of the countertop is too wide to mount the tiles.
The gap at the back
It starts at the cabinet on the left, but is gone by the pencil mark
Tiler dude wanted us to place a very thick skim coat of mud on the wall to level it out. We don't like that idea because the mud dude is the messiest slob on the planet, and it would take at least a week of daily mess making to build up. Our solution is to cut a filler strip of countertop (from the sink cut out) and glue it in place, kinda like this:
Gap filled by a wedge of wood. Tile sitting on that wood.
It will mean a seam in the laminate. It will mean a slightly visible repair job. But better that than the mud dude making a mess again.

So one of my contractor dudes came by, and voila, in 30 minutes, the gap was filled and you can barely tell we had a gap at all.
Small wedge in place
Now, when do you suppose the tiler dude will return?