Snap-Crackle-Pop

The ranch is a bit noisy at night – and during the day. Taking a nap in the afternoon one can be awoken by various cracks and groans – but the groan is usually a HVAC precursor. Then vroom-woosh as the cold air floats down. I’m thinking the previous owner, during his upgrades and contractor-work might have kept things wrapped a bit too tight. The charming wood floors, beautiful distressed hickory planks that go from one end of the house to the other, might be lacking a bit of float, and as evening arrives and the temperatures cool they release tension accompanied by various snaps and pops. Sometimes the noise sounds like it’s right next to you, sometimes its up in the ceiling. Maybe a bit of work on the attic furnace was a cross-brace that was pounded-in and lagged-down real tight that finally relaxes in the cool with a cracking sound.
Anyhow I have a list of to-do’s based on the Inspection Report and one involves going up into the attic-crawlspace and doing a bit of flooring so that the furnace has a 20-inch work/inspection-space to stand upon. But for now it’s not happening because when it’s 100-degrees outside the attic is close to 160-degreees – but only feels like 1,000.
Sometimes I awake with a start because it’s loud and nearby – but nobody is there. Anyhow, it also reminds me of the Japanese castle that we visited on our way going-overseas as a kid. Nijo Castle in Kyoto was erected in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, and it has “Nightingale floors.” The wood planks are purposely built to chirp when walked-upon. It did back then and they still do it today. A whole long hallway full of silent Ninjas would have sounded like a loud flock of birds. There was/is absolutely no way to pass along it silently, and intruders would meet their fate. For medieval gothic castles that’s pretty cool.
So I feel confident that there’s nobody else here, and I get up in the night and hear only my own footsteps as re creaking and chirping I walk out to the open-space living room-kitchen in the dark. If someone else were here you could hear them breathing anyhow, since the shiny wood floorboards reflect sound well. The big downside is you can also see each and every dust-bunny quite clearly too, so the Miele vac get’s a workout. I don’t even bother to put it in the closet.

Carry On Calm, Swampy Meadows

The AZ permit came through. Woot! So Utah, AZ (which gives NV, so now I don’t have to go over to Minden and take a two-day class), and CA. Grails are reachable.

Working with the guy who was right-hand to the previous owner/contractor, we will do the walls and maybe even a ceiling (with insulation), anyhow it’s going to go forwards.

But not a Olympic sized pool. “Problem” being that the water table here is really quite high, in winter a pool could become a boat and lift off it’s base. That low spot noticed out in the meadow might mean free water, so perhaps a row or two of grapes is in order and also not requiring an ditch-tender irrigation system.

First other things first though, carpet up at the Low Granite Outcropping Thursday.

Carpet

Carpetization is coming Thursday to the Low Granite Outcropping, and it’s a serious lot of the shaggy-stuff. Which means moving a LOT of once stationary and heavy furniture to a location where it’s not in-the-way of the new underlayment. Also means time to paint that nasty closet with the yellow-orange “Dried Plantain” interior. Yecch-yellow. Seriously?? A huge walk-in closet painted something other than white?? That is just El Stupido – to paraphrase The Don. So we work and we move stuff.
Meanwhile plans to go forward with Mud&Tape at Los Garage De Los Ranchero advance when new BFF comes by on Tuesday night after his current day-job doing tile at a house-flip. Pay-Money Work up here is scarce, and the thin pale ones doing hated retail under fluorescent lights in air-conditioned splendor don’t know how lucky they really are.
Back-When I applied at so many places for such work and was always turned-down. Also many front-room food-service jobs were simply wiped-away by my lack of bi-linguality. No Habla. But now in my “retirement” we may have to revisit that trend/opportunity – just as soon as I spend all my money on retrofitting this/these place(s).
I appreciate the fact the guy has no life and will work more, after first-work. I was up Friday night ironing shirts.
“Sorry I can’t, I have to wash my hair.” Remember that one? With me it was common enough back in The Day. Today it’s entirely possible to hear it again, but from me – that is if you go by “my hair” as a singular noun. There’s one thin one sticking up in the middle of the glowing dome. But enough.
New gun shop has a Model-19 on consignment that I’m considering…
Spend it while you got it. Blow it up. Pour radioactive crud on what’s left and blow it up again, then light it on fire and throw it into the ocean, onto a whale. See if anybody remembers you. They won’t.

Tractor Bjork and Enduring Brightness

It was 102° on Friday with slightly lesser temps in the high 90’s on Saturday and today (Sunday) dawned bright and cool so I went out to mow.
Out in the middle of the tall grass the twin rotating blades ceased to rotate. Maybe it was the hidden stump I hit? But that was earlier, and I kept mowing – so I disengaged the deck and drove up to the wash-out point and hosed it down to get all the green crud off and have a look-see. Kinda dark in there and the bright sunlight hitting the other side – I can’t see much but one of the belts is not running on the pulley, and just seems a bit loose. Maybe I burnt a belt?
Without being able to take a closer view and understand the situation I’m stuck – and my big fat wheel-chocks are at the other house. Time to take a shower and have some breakfast.

Lights and Lamps: Down at Costco we picked up and installed seventeen on-sale 14-watt LED floods to replace the 65-watt incandescent ceiling heaters and PG&E cash-register ching-a-ching-ching lamps. And they’re fully dimmable and work in the existing can-lights with no extra mods. Bright but cool to touch, the lamp color is normal and not some ultra-white surface-of-the-moon effect. I have two, 2-way wall switches to replace the current flip-switches that are good for dimmable LED’s and that will help in the main open-concept space/room to bring down the brightness for when we don’t need surgical lighting.

Hot and Muggy

Yesterday a thin layer of moisture-laden haze hung everywhere and amplified the suns rays like a lens, making moving the gun-room a bigger chore – plus the AT&T guy had to search high and low for two undamaged wires that could connect to the handset and provide a dial-tone. Great guy with a lot of local knowledge since he’s from HERE and not Bangalore – or Massachusetts, or Florida – same as the Cable Guy who happens to be married to the cousin of our realtor’s husband. And the Fort Knox guy is just down the street.
IMGP2227x1000Apparently we live next to the old drive-in movie – which is where my neighbors pasture themselves. We also have wild turkeys who peck through the tall grass.
Do I really need a sweeper attachment for the mower, or should the cut grass (and weeds and other unidentifiable plant-a-zoidal fluffy crap) lay organically fallow? Is fallow the right word?

Boom and Bust

The history of the Gold Country is replete with tales of boom and bust, of peak-moments of crazy-fabulous riches followed by troughs of fire, depression, failed-crops, and broken dreams. In other words, the prospective house needs a whole new roof, entirely new attic ducting, and an electrical make-over. There’s some witches-brew of mis-wiring; the light/fan in the master-bedroom trips the GFI in the master bath, but then the fan continues to operate. One GFI circuit in a front bedroom trips a circuit on the other-side of the house out on the deck. Another GFI circuit in the kitchen is un-tripped by itself but is tripped by the non-GFI outlet on the other side of the sink. The carpet smells of smoke, and walls need patching – that’s trivial and cosmetic, but/and there’s no vent-stack for the stove/range. Venting into the attic is not a recommended procedure as I understand it. The vent-stack could be fixed at the time of the re-roofing, but the full inspection report and termite-report and will come tomorrow. And no dirtbike riding, too noisy! Pbbth! Other than that the HOA is pretty un-intrusive! I’m gonna go have a beer.

Getting Better

High gray skies with a low-lying layer white cumulus in between the top-cover and the ground. Interesting muddle today. So we went down to the Evil City of Sleazeballs and Gov. Slimsuckers: Sack-O-Tomatos. It’s been a week since our last visit, and about three-weeks since our neighbor went into the Hospital, but she of the double brain aneurysm is visibly better than last time, and less at a loss for words. Therapy is keeping her busy, and last-time she complained saying, “I’m sorry I can’t be more articulate.” – but that right there was a good word-choice and a good sign. Today she was wearing her jogging shoes and it was other stuff to complain about, and we can tell she’s anxious to be out of the smelly facility and back home. I pointed to her shoes and told her she should make a break for it! She laughed.
Wednesday is septic-pumping at the new “other place,” and Thursday is the Inspection (and with that, Termite). I need to have a couple checks ready for the guys. State Farm declined to cover us because the zip-code is “high fire-danger” – but there are plenty of other homes out there, and this-here zip-code is also “high fire danger.” So…we got pointed to a broker who found a couple of mainstream biggies who will cover: both Travelers and Hartford. We’ll probably move our vehicles and all the rest to one of those…so bye-bye Snake Farm after thirty years. Things are looking up! Soon we’ll be measuring walls and painting at The Remote High-Chaparral Chalet, elevation about 3,100 ft.

The Center Cannot Hold

IMGP2105W. B. Yeats in 1919, the atmosphere of post-war Europe.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The middle finger always goes. Between moving rocks and yardwork this must be the fifth pair of leather gloves, nearly as many “Mechanix” type synthetics have also fallen by the wayside.
Also to the gray-goatee’d fake-factory spandex $3000 bicyclists taking up the middle of the narrow country road, yes YOU bastard Yuppie Boomers, I wave with my whole hand because the display of a single finger does not express enough contempt.

Country Livin’

Water, Waste, Trash, and Warmth. When we first moved out of the Perfect Suburban University Paradise we were uncomfortable with some of country livin’s inevitable mechanical features, such as a well and a septic tank/system. Not so much anymore.
For water there’s the “Irrigation District” piped-in water, a kind of hold-over from the old days of “Ditch Tenders,” water-rights, and mining operations – and what some still consider to be a rapine Utility just like in the old days. A lot of people up here have wells and that’s drinking water – but they need to be tested for various levels of stuff besides bacterial nasties, like iron so your pants don’t come out of the wash brown. In the current drought-conditions, some of the lower elevation wells were going-off dry or showing up muddy. In order to restore volume and flow, some people had to get another few hundred feet deep. That can get pretty expensive and I imagine that a bunch of other well-stuff gets upgraded or replaced at the same time.
Waste-systems, as a friend in MA where it’s actually pretty suburban but lacking in waste-infrastructure says, “Think of a septic system as a biological engine, and don’t throw food-scraps down the in-sink-erator disposal.” The leach-field or tank needs to be properly maintained and at a proper distance from the well. And then there’s “casual/causal waste.” Being that we produce X-amount of archaeological-worthy litter on a daily basis, where does the garbage go? Some folks also have burn-piles and on burn-days sometimes it’s smells like they’re burning old milk cartons and plastic wrap – it’s not all fragrant pines and balsam up in the woods. As discussed in comments:

Out in the sticks many driveways are practically tiny roads, too long, twisty and tight for the big waste-haulers to even navigate. If you have to push your waste-bins down a mile to the road every Thursday it gets a bit old. Lot of people have a small garden-tractor and trailer for just that. Lot of people leave the waste-bins lined-up in rows by the roadside next to the mail-boxes. Some mail-theft here too.
But still people are free to live like pigs in squalor, and you can see them from the road. Homes where garbage is piled all around, blue-tarps cover mounds of decaying old vehicles and mattresses, ancient rusting appliances dotting the landscape. I dunno, it’s either because they’re old, or just cheap, or poor, or they are hoarders who never throw anything away. We have passed-up several opportunities where the neighbors lived like pigs and too close-proximity made all the difference. I guess for some people it’s a way to prevent anybody (at least people of a certain sensibility) from even moving-in next door. Or they might just be crack-heads on Gov. assistance.

Heating. Given the sheer natural abundance of timber, wood is still a viable heating alternative to rapine utility companies like PG&E, but in an appliance-rich environment they still they mostly get the “E” out of you for lights and computers – unless you go Solar. But the cost of electricity is not so great (compared to the Expensively-Perfect Suburban Paradise), and many kitchens are all-electric. My preference is for gas wherever possible, and it can be re-plumbed to connect-up to the propane tank, because most furnaces are running on propane…

Lookeyloo

Went drivin’ past a couple more houses, and got in to see one today. Lovely 8×8 pier construction and a nice hip-roof with good overhangs, sheathed in tile. Wish we could crash through the pending short-sale contingent, but the necessary work involved would probably not produce a net benefit down the road and someone is already in the #1 spot. Poorly home-done and obviously amateurish crown-molding in a couple rooms where none is needed or desired, wallpaper, stick-down vinyl floor tiles, some ugly golden-oak cabinetry to rip-out – all fairly and easily doable but altogether not a win-win after adding it up. The deck needed some TLC and the grounds needed pruning, but the barrier was already set in the contingent sale, and at a cost per-foot where we wouldn’t come out ahead, even if we were in the game. Too bad, the home had real nice bones and wasn’t chopped-up by a weird floorplan.
UPDATE: But mainly I liked the hip-and-gable roof style with generous 4-foot overhangs. Houses built today with no trim or overhang look like they come out of an appliance factory.