In Which Turtle Takes Five Days to Hatch

October 28, 2010

Real work. Real staple gun. (Photo courtesy Eyegillian.)

This is where I was last week. An insulation brochure lists four steps for this project; I have highlighted, in green, these four steps.

1. Lay a ten-foot square of 6-mil polyethylene sheeting to cover the ground.
2. Unscrew the cover from the light fixture, and then unscrew its box from the strapping (1″ x 3″ boards) and pull out one of the brackets holding its power cord. Pry off the rest of the strapping that had held plastic sheeting over the joists.
3. Pull off the plastic sheeting (stapled to the joists with an office stapler; worse, the plastic was in the wrong place: it should lie between insulation and the warm-in-winter side of the house).
4. Remove the dirty, damp fiberglass insulation.
5. Remove the debris from the crawlspace and pack into three oversized garbage bags.

The garbage can is getting nervous.

6. Sweep up the mouse droppings, mouse corpses, and fly pupae; discard.
7. Hammer flat any protruding nail ends that might interfere with smooth installation of new fiberglass batts.
8. Seal air leaks around wires.
9. Measure spaces between joists. Cut pieces of polyethylene sheeting to cover bottom of floor plus two or three inches down each joist/header. Attach with (proper, heavy-duty) stapler.
10. Cut R-20 insulation to size, and tuck between the joists. Note that the insulation is 6″ thick, leaving 2″ between it and the bottom of the 8″-deep joists.
11. Cut pieces of leftover vinyl siding edging, 8″ x 2″ x 1″, and screw onto joists just below the insulation.

View of steps 10, 11, 12, 15, 18, and 19.

12. Lay builder’s shims across insulation batts, the shim ends resting on the vinyl ledges, to help keep insulation from sagging.
13. Notice old furnace fuel oil line (a narrow copper pipe) that had been sawn through (when system was changed to electric), but never removed. Use claw hammer to pull out its brackets.
14. Wipe up half-cupful of fuel oil spilled onto poly groundsheet. Using hacksaw, remove fuel oil line.
15. Cut, measure, and staple lengths of aluminum window screening over joists, letting it descend a few inches around the perimeter.
16. Return to building centre for another roll of screening. Finish stapling.
17. Study the dryer duct that the previous owner had kept aloft with a length of string looped over a piece of strapping. Remove the string, turn one of the duct lengths around so that the pieces fit properly, and tape.

"There are no strings on me-e-e!"

18. Screw new strapping along screening seams and around perimeter. Stuff steel wool into corners and along larger gaps in seams in hopes of keeping mice out of insulation.
19. Nail bracket back in over light fixture power cord. Using electric screwdriver as light source, and manual screwdriver to do the work, begin to reattach light fixture box to strapping. Watch the Arc’n’Spark Show. Abandon project till next morning.
20. Shut off power for entire house. Reattach light fixture box to strapping. Locate source of metalic tinkling. Using utility knife, carefully strip off 1/2″ of the black wire, and wrap around its screw post; tighten screw. Replace cover on fixture box. Turn house power back on.
21. Measure, build, and nail in a permanent panel that reduces the crawlspace hatch size by half.
22. Measure, cut, and place two vent covers in far end of crawlspace.
23. Measure, construct, and place new hatch cover.

Start to finish: five days.

"...and then I GLUED IT SHUT! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" (Photo courtesy Eyegillian)

Wordless Wednesday Double Header to Atone for Missing it Last Week

October 27, 2010

Snowmobile Cloud


Saint John Bag Ladies

Half a Raw Turkey Neck

October 14, 2010

Sunday was Thanksgiving Day for us Canadians, eh?

And this year, having a freezer and a large stockpot and a big enough roaster and E.g.’s parents to help eat, we bought a turkey.

I was about to cook the giblets when I remembered James Viscosi’s blog entry last year about giving raw turkey necks to their dogs. And, hey, their dogs are all alive and kicking, so why not try it with my own pupsters?

I broke the turkey neck in half, and called the furchildren outside to the patio. “Sit.”

Wow, a sit in one go.

Standing on the patio, Cai began to chew his piece of turkey neck. Fergus took his to the grass.

“Don’t do that, Fergus, it’ll get dirty. C’mere.” I set Fergus’s turkey neck on the patio.

Fergus moved it to the grass.

Cai stood on the patio, chewing.

Fergus moved his turkey neck to another spot on the grass.

Cai chewed.

Fergus rolled on his turkey neck.

Cai chewed.

Fergus made bizarre little puppy yips.

I was flabbergasted. Fergus is the big eater, and finishes his meals before you can pronounce the second b in “kibble”. But here he was, unsure of what to do with the first piece of raw meat ever given him.

Suddenly, a light went on in Fergus’s brain. This wasn’t a toy, it was food! Even better, it was his food! He rocketed all over the yard with his precious Thanksgiving treat, yipping, rolling, thoroughly coating the neck in his secret blend of seven soils and crispy leaf bits. Cai, having finished his meat, followed Fergus around, delicately sniffing each spot where the turkey neck had lain.

Here are some pictures. Enjoy!

Joy, joy, joy


Them's good sniffin's


(Wordless Wednesday) Excalibur Was Here

October 13, 2010

Turtle’s Canning Tips

October 7, 2010


I’ve been learning a lot about canning lately, and thought I would share some of my observations with you. Please don’t miss the two-part quiz at the end of this entry!

1. To ensure a proper seal, jars must not be tilted. Use the tongs to carry them upright into the heated canner, and out from the boiling water onto the table.

2. If too few jars are being processed at a time, one or two jars will tip over in the canner. It is very difficult to right them. The wet glass is slippery, and the water is boiling.

3. Your batch will yield the amount that the recipe states only 10 per cent of the time. Once in every twenty recipes, it will yield two jars more than was stated.  The other 85 per cent of the time, the recipe will make 1/4 to 1/3 less than stated.

The ugly truth about relish

4. In order to have enough jars to fill the canner, you need to follow several recipes — at least one more than originally planned — simultaneously.

5. Different foods require different lengths of time to process.

6. Different sizes of jar may also require different processing times.

7. To process safely, jars must sit on a rack in the canner, and be covered by at least one inch of boiling water. Once brought to a rolling boil, the canner will work best if its lid is not removed nor its contents disturbed.

8. A large canner will process only pint or quart jars; the spacing in its rack is too wide to hold smaller jars.

9. A small canner will process only half-pint or 4-ounce jars; there is insufficient headroom for larger jars.

10. The heat generated by the canner,  the boiling vinegar pickle syrup, the bubbling jam, and the pot of warmed snaptop jar lids, slows mental responses considerably.

Got that? Good! Here’s your homework.

1. You have harvested the last of the green tomatoes, cucumbers, and thyme from your veggie patch before frost. You have decided to make three recipes: the one for 7 pints of German Green-Tomato Relish, the one for 6 cups of South-Asian-Style Pickles, and the one for 6 cups of Thyme Herb Jelly. At your disposal you have 8 wide-mouth and 2 standard pint jars, 11 8-ounce jars, and 9 125-ml jars, all with suitable tops and jar rings. Your larger canner holds up to 9 pint jars, while your smaller canner holds 9 jars of either 250-ml or half-cup size. You want to fill the appropriate canners as full as possible, while using the maximum number of smallest jars for the herb jelly and the maximum number of mid-sized jars for the South Asian pickles. Knowing that the relish takes 10 minutes to process for pint jars, the pickle takes 15 minutes for pint jars or 10 minutes for half-pint jars, and the jelly takes 5 minutes for half-pint jars (the recipe doesn’t mention half-cup jars), how will you proceed?

2. Given the odds in Tip #3 above, what is the probability of your solution being a workable one?

(Wordless Wednesday) Tomatoes Ripen From the Inside Out

October 6, 2010

Never Underestimate a Twelve-Gram Bird

October 5, 2010

When E.g. and I first moved here, Aunt Theodora gave us a bird feeder as a housewarming gift. The manufacturers’ tag advised patience, stating that it may take a week before any birds discover the new feeder.

The chickadees found it in two hours.

Aunt Theodora’s gift is used in the Winter, when there aren’t mobs of Common Grackles to spill all the mixed seed. On the other hand, the sunflower seed feeder (above) runs all year.

 Chickadees (like the one above), Song Sparrows, Purple Finches, and Goldfinches are the usual customers. They usually take three or four days to empty the feeder. When I notice the dearth of feathered friends, I trek into the garage, fill an old ice cream container with the birds’ “black gold”, and carry it out to the tree.

I’m starting to think that my Movements Have Been Noticed.

Here’s the garage, the lovely new fence that E.g. and her dad Eddy built, the oak tree, and one of the spruces. The sunflower seed feeder hangs from a low limb on that spruce.

And here’s the inside of the garage. The blue bin behind the wheelbarrow stores the birdseed. That triangular piece, part of the door mechanism, in the upper left of the photo, is where a Chickadee stopped two days ago while I was in the garage. Instead of its “Chickadeedeedee!” warning cry, it whistled softly. “Seet! Seet! Seet!” it called, while hanging from the metal and eyeing me.

Or maybe it was singing, “Seed! Seed! Seed!” ‘Cause, I went and checked, eh, and the feeder was empty.

The Black-capped Chickadee: Excellent choice for New Brunswick’s official provincial bird.