June 27, 2008

Sometimes it's the shape that makes it

Friday, June 27, 2008 Posted by Ryan , , 1 comment
When we lived in California the closest drug store the the house was the Thrifty's. When I was nine-years-old the best part of going shopping was getting ice cream at Thrifty's. See, the ice cream was different there. I think I got the same flavor every time because there wasn't anywhere else you could get chocolate malt ball ice cream. And instead of round scoops on a cone, Thrifty's ice cream was cylindrical. I don't know how they did it, but saw this ice cream scooper today that might recreate that experience for me.

The Cuisipro Ice Cream Scoop & Stack gives you that cylindrical scoop shape just like a 25 cent Thrifty's cone. I remember the scoops being bigger though when I was 10. Now if I can just find some tiny malt balls to add to chocolate ice cream.

Apparently there are other people out there who loved the same ice cream. I found this recipe to make it, however still no source for the tiny malt balls.

June 24, 2008

Emile Norman documentary

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 Posted by Ryan , , 1 comment

I happened to catch this on PBS last night and couldn't turn it off to go to bed when I should have: Emile Norman: by his own design. You won't find much on the internet about his work beside his own website but at 90 he is still a working artist. Besides a profile of his life as an artist, the documentary is an illustration of the life he created for himself. I was stunned by his house in Big Sur, which he and his partner started building over 50 years ago. The house is a gallery of his art, and every surface has been crafted, even the harpsichord and organ cases.

Watch this documentary if you have a chance. The next time I go to San Fransisco, I'm going to take a trip to the Masonic Temple to see the huge glass mosaic commissioned in 1955.

June 23, 2008

Slow Progress

Monday, June 23, 2008 Posted by Ryan , , No comments
I had one of those weekends where I thought about all the things I should/could do, and then did the minimum. And I thought to myself, "at least I did something!" I'm not sure I should be patting myself on the back for that, but I'm taking those small steps.

I did my laundry, which shouldn't be a big deal but since I'm still trucking down the street to the Hi-Co mart/laundry mat I tend to put it off. However I'm sure I would put it off even if I had my own washer in the basement. The benefit of the laundry mat is that I can do all three loads of wash at once. It's 38 min in the washer (neptune front loader) and only 15 min in the dryer. And since I fold everything before I leave the whole trip clocks in at about 1.5 hours. Pretty good for three loads. I even brought a book to read but part of the problem with going is the waiting area. I'm sure they thought it was a great idea to make a nice waiting area with upholstered furniture except, um, it kind of smells funny. I never thought I'd be longing for a nice vinyl chair or hard bench.

I painted the back door. Again. This time I used the second mis-tint can of paint I picked up for the second and third coats on the door. The door, which started out flat white, then painted a creepy fleshy-mauve tan, is now a glossy brick red. I like it, but I think it would be too much if I painted anything else that color. I'm leaning toward a yellow tan for the window casings and super dark green maybe for the window frames. Since painting is probably a summer 2009 project there is plenty of time to ponder and test out colors.

I looked at the mountain of dirt. I didn't do anything with it. I though about digging, but then I didn't. I can't put it off forever, and since we're starting the roof in less than 2 weeks I guess I best do something with it. Here's the yard post grass removal, pre dirt mountain.

June 10, 2008

Introducing Ryan Jr.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 Posted by Ryan , , , , No comments
Surprise! I thought Saturday was going to be a lazy rainy day, until my dad showed up at the house with a gas-powered sod cutter.

A week or so ago my mom and I attacked the parking strip in front of the house with spades and removed 8-10 linear feet of sod. It was hot, and the dogs were antsy and I stopped every 8-10 minutes to rest or pull the dogs apart and to top it off I got sunburned in the one spot I forgot to put sunscreen - the front of my neck. I knew a gas-powered sod cutter would make short work of the lawn, but they're big, super heavy and noisy and I wasn't sure I could deal with all that. Not to mention the logistical transportation nightmare. My dad just wanted the project (at least the sod removal part) done with and after an hour of the two of us pushing and pulling the monster around the front (and the back of the back) yard we were. The next few hours my mom, dad and I carried all that sod to the side of the house and placed it dirt side up over the grass/weeds in the adjoining vacant lot. It rained the entire time and it was dirty work but look at the results. A beautiful yard of dirt!

So far that's all it is, dirt, and bad dirt at that. It just crumbled in my hands as I lifted the sod. Even though it was raining, and had been raining on and off all week, the dirt 2 inches down was bone dry. Just shows how important a long soak can be for your plants/grass. My birthday present from my parents last year was a truck full of dirt for the new yard so after that is delivered and tilled into the existing soil we should be able to fill the yard with the perennials and groundcover. Maybe I haven't mentioned how much I hate front yard lawns yet. I hate mowing something that I never use, isn't decorative, and something that requires that I water it with a sprinkler that has to be moved every few hours. I admit that I let large sections of our previous lawn turn yellow last summer because

1. Grass that isn't watered grows slower, so I mow it less.
2. I couldn't stomach leaving that water running like that.
3. I'm kind of lazy.

Lawn-alternative front yards are definitely still the minority but there are a few in my neighborhood. One in particular I have admired since before we moved in. It turned green before anyone's lawn did, it has year-round color/texture, and it doesn't have to be mowed. A number of the plants have to be cut back after their blooming season is over, or at the end of winter, but for me 10 minutes cutting tulip leaves to the ground is still better than 30 minutes pushing a mower.

June 6, 2008

I want to be dead before I have to do it again

Friday, June 06, 2008 Posted by Ryan , , No comments
Number eight on the list of summer goals (in no particular order) is to replace the roof. The existing roof is obviously failing with missing shingles, granule loss, and signs of slipping/sagging shingles. I tried to get someone to come do a quote on doing a temporary winter fix to stop the leak (where the shingles are missing) but I couldn't get anyone to actually get out to the house and do the quote before the snow started. After that I kind of gave up and figured I'd just try and fix whatever additional damage resulted. You'd think that 3+ layers of shingles would offer superior protection from the elements - not so.

Like I mentioned, it appears that the roof has more that three existing layers of roofing material; I'm pretty positive that the original roof is still up there. In addition to the poor weather protection the current roof provides, I think the combined weight of all the shingles has got to be a bad thing for the continued structural integrity of the house. Since we got an estimate on replacing the roof on the house we didn't buy, and saw a thrice faxed copy of an estimate done for this roof, I know that the cost to rip off, re-sheet, and re-shingle can run from $8000 to over $10,000. Yikes!

Since I come from a family with a "I could do that myself better and cheaper" aesthetic, my dad has convinced me that we could replace the roof ourselves. So now that summer has come, rather quickly I might add, I am rushing to organize everything. I mailed off my permit and check to the city so we're legal and all, I found the shingles I want, and hopefully everything will fall into place for the 4th of July weekend. After a little internet research I found that laminated shingles (also known as architectural shingles) can now come with a 50 warranty. Now that's my kind of a shingle. I never want to put on another roof and if I'm 80+ when this one fails, well we'll deal with it when the time comes. I'm looking at the TAMKO Heritage Vintage shingles in green. I still have to go to the lumber yard tomorrow morning to order them, and all those other things like underlayment, iceshield (required by the city), drip edge, and a ridge vent. I'll also need to get new decking, new flashing, and vent pipes but I'll get those when we're ready to get started. I know this won't be an inexpensive project but I hope to fall short of the $10,000 mark.