18 December 2010

A Few Things

Thing the First:

I recently received a care package from India.


The way they do this in India is that the cardboard box is stitched up inside a fabric bag, which is then sewn up and sealed with sealing wax.


Inside was a small container of ground-with-mortar-and-pestle chai spices and a couple of boxes of delicious Indian tea, which I have been enjoying.

Thing the second:

I recently got to work knitting up some yak/cormo yarn my mom bought at Rhinebeck last year from the folks at Bijou Basin. She decided she'd like some fingerless gloves, so she could keep her fingertips free for her photography, and a hat. I found the glove-in-progress very amusing once it was bristling with needles.


When I finished the first one, Tolo graciously offered to model it for me.


I have since finished the pair, and I handed them off to my mom last night. For the hat, I have enough yarn that I can make it double thickness for the winter.

Thing the third:

We finally put up our tree tonight.


After the Great Monkey Massacre of Aught-Nine, I think we were a bit reluctant. It wouldn't have seemed like the holidays, though, without it. This year, it's back on top of the dog crate and has been lashed down with four holding points to minimize the potential for major crashes. I'm not entirely convinced Cougar won't kill this one, too, though.

02 December 2010

This Old (Drafty) House, or Implements of Mass Destruction

Because I had the day off and because I've been trying to do some of the weatherizing our little house so desperately needs, I spent Tuesday putting insulation in our attic spaces. I use the plural because the kitchen was attached later and has an attic space that is a) only accessible through the rotting louvre on the outside, and b) is completely unconnected from the main attic space. I had spent little to no time exploring either prior - thanks to their relative inaccessibility and my not insubstantial claustrophobia - so I wasn't entirely certain what to expect.

The kitchen space was fairly straightforward. There were some lengths of R-11 fiberglass that had been tossed up there some years back but never laid in properly, and once I did put them all in place, there were still areas that were completely uninsulated. So I laid in some R-30 on top of that, and plan to go back and put in more to make sure that we have R-60 or better in that space. I'm still fairly certain that the walls (which are sided on the interior with hardboard - basically heavy duty cardboard) are completely uninsulated, but that will have to be a task for another day - likely when we can gut the entire room and sort it out properly.

The main attic space was a very different story, and I learned a bit about how the house must have been constructed. First of all, it's a crawlspace, in a very, very literal sense. And despite my attempts to get rid of the worst of the cobwebs, I found myself dragging myself around through them on my belly for much of the afternoon. Second of all, the access hatch is too small to push a roll of insulation through. It's barely enough to fit myself through, which caused no end of anxiety every time my arm or leg got wedged just the wrong way.

So to get the insulation in, I had to open each roll, begin feeding the batting up into the attic, then shove myself past it, climb in, and pull the rest of the roll up after me before feeding it to where it needed to go. And let me just say that, under those conditions, it does not matter if you're working in a space that is, at best, in the mid-50s F. You will get hot and very, very, very sweaty. That extra 88¢ I spent per roll for the "Comfort Touch" sheathing? So. Worth. It.

I had known that the roofline had been raised in the rear of the house at some point. What I didn't realize until I hauled myself up into the Cobweb Factory was that only the tiniest of access holes had been cut into the old roof. Not only that, it appears that the area over the bathroom was originally a shed dormer, with the roofline elevation extended over the remaining length at some later date.

So over one whole room upstairs, there is exactly zero access. Zilch. And while there had been an attempt at some point to blow in insulation over the rest of the attic space, there was no real effort, it seems, to make sure that it was evenly distributed. Or even moderately adequate. Which it very much is not, on either count.

Anyway, suffice to say that I didn't get everything insulated. Yet. But it did prompt me to do some looking around and to get the advice of a butch dyke friend who knows from power tools. And now I am the proud owner of this beauty:


And as much as it reminds me of the alien weaponry in the movie District 9, it's really a heavy duty 12 amp (contractor grade) Hitachi reciprocating saw. My friend suggested it because it has an award-winning anti-vibration feature, which gave me quite a laugh, seeing as Hitachi is also known for this.

So at some point in the next week, I intend to crawl back up in the attic and perform a bit of deconstruction so that I can get the rest of the house insulated properly. And then I think Hitachi (Does it need a proper name, do you think?) and I will target the laundry sink, which really needs to come out and become a garden prep sink.

Festival of Lights

It is now the second night of Hannukah, and in honor of the season, I thought I would offer up this...erm...gem?...from the batshit crazy unbelievably soused inimitable mind of Sandra Lee.

Um, are those marshmallows kosher?