Sunday, May 31, 2009

Non-Martini Plumbing ...

Shocking as it may sound, but I spent most of the day plumbing, and I am not having a martini tonight! What gives? Well, not all plumbing involves water, at least not immediately, that would be tomorrow. I started soldering together the piping for the dish station sink, and I should manage to hook it up tomorrow. At which point we will disconnect it again, because the sink needs a scrubbing first. E! spent a good portion of today cleaning a wire rack we had bought used (I think I mentioned before that used kitchen equipment has the tendency to be somewhat unclean, to put it mildly).


Friday, May 29, 2009

All Tight ...

There's something about plumbing ... no wait, that's how I started yesterday ... but heck there IS something about plumbing, which always puts me on edge. This time it was my own damn fault (that is not unusual, but who's going to admit that).

I was going to put a link here to a previous post (links are the ones in blue text and underlined), but I couldn't find it, and I got sidetracked reading my old posts. Anyhow, I was looking for the post that said that I had trouble with a shutoff valve at the boiler, the valve clearly wasn't valving anymore, because water kept coming through.

Now, I was starting to write a lengthy explanation of what happened and why, when I remembered that you all are just skimming the blog for pictures. Well, there are no pictures today, but I spare you a lengthy excursion into heat related plumbing (if you're interested in a hot water heating 101, you know how to reach me).

To make it short, I hooked up the radiators in the ADA bathroom and the dish station to the beer hall loop, and everything works just fine.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Plumb And Plumber ...

There is something about plumbing that always puts me on the edge ...

... I guess it's because I want to do things right the first time around. When you open the flood gates, you want to know that the dikes hold. I actually didn't get to open the flood gates today, although I closed them this morning, but halfway through I realized that I was missing something. Plumbing to me is like surgery (not that I have performed any lately, or ever, but I used to watch Grey's Anatomy, if that counts), once you make the incision, you better finish the job before the end of the day. I like to make the incision early in the day, so that I get to go home in time (granted, I work at home, but you know what I mean). This means more plumbing tomorrow.

My honey, meanwhile, was busy in the paint department. Here you can see her sand one of the cove moldings I made the other day:

With sadness we received news this morning that Miss Elliott (whom we bought Gunk Haus from) passed away last night. Although the Hollywood Bar (as Gunk Haus was called before we bought it) had always been her husband Freddie's pet, we would have loved her to see the place live up again, and be a place of gathering, like when Freddie ran it. Rest in peace, Miss Elliott.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shifting Focus ...

My groove hasn't made a complete comeback yet, but I'm getting there. After the bathrooms I was a little in limbo as to what to do next. But E! suggested to start finishing the dish station. Actually I completely agree with her, out of sheer self-interest of course, as I am the one who does the dishes around here, so I have a vested interest in getting a proper work environment. Plus it's good to have the back of the house in order, i.e. working.

So I did a little plumbing today, and will do some more tomorrow. Boring, I know.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Happy Man ...

Recently we received a letter full of coupon's to our favorite (because closest) home improvement store (thank you, Tom). Oh happy day ...

By they way, that mug in the picture really is bigger than my head (recognize it, Michele?).


Fire Alarm ...

As a public space, which is what a restaurant is in essence, we are required to have a fire alarm system installed. After soliciting (quite a few) bids we decided on the cheapest, which doesn't mean that we will always go for the cheapest bid, but in this case we did.

Today, Joe started running the wires for the smoke detectors and pull stations (those are the little red boxes with a little handle by the entrances, which trigger the alarm manually). After we have everything walled up, he'll be back and install the pull stations, smoke detectors, and strobe lights (DISCO!!!).

We also received the duct work for the beer hall A/C today. After finally finding someone willing to take on this project in the first place, and endless discussions of options, we decided to go for spiral ducts, as they would be the least invasive, and more pleasant to the eye than a boxy duct, and much cheaper than high velocity A/C or ductless A/C. Unfortunately part of the delivery was missing, and some parts were wrong. Oh well, it could have been worse.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Family Farm Day 2009 ...

It was a great day to have family over (and put them to work). All day yesterday and this morning E! and I had tilled the field and run the thatcher across (to collect the uprooted weed and grass) in preparation of the onslaught of cheery and willing laborers.

The first task was to collect the rocks on the field (though the soil here is very fertile, it is also very rocky).

We staked out the rows ...

... and (literally) ran twine to mark them.

Stick the seeds in the ground, and hope for lots of rain.

All hard workers deserve a hearty meal.

Thanks to all for helping (Leslie, you may notice the blog title saying family farm day 2009; you know what that means ... ;-).


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Skinny Lad ...

Every since I got my new toy, a lawn tractor with all sorts of nifty attachments, I couldn't shake off the feeling of buyer's remorse, and that I may have bought a lemon. This was largely because even after a tune-up (spark plugs, fuel filter, air filter, etc.) it would still have these moments when it totally lost power whenever I would take my foot off the clutch.

So I figured it might be the drive belt getting stuck, it was after all rather old with lots of cracks. I go get a new one, install it, and ... nope! Still the same problem. I go get E! to sit on the truck, so I could look at the drive belt while the truck is running (like every good lawn tractor this one has a safety switch in the seat, which requires someone to sit in the seat, or else the motor will shut off).

E! sits in the seat, and the tractor runs like an ace. I can't believe it. We switch rolls, I sit she watches, and the darn thing doesn't work anymore. Our conclusion was that 110 pounds is not heavy enough to drive the tractor. I put a bag of cement on the seat (and me on top), but that didn't work either (I guess the cement bag wasn't located properly on the switch).

I tried to take the safety switch out today, but it seemed like more hassle than I was willing to commit to, so I simply disabled it, so I could get some work done.

Speaking of work, it has been rather slow the last few days, which brings me to a different topic. I was recently asked, how we are doing all this. I wasn't sure whether the question was regarding money, time, or mental health.

In the end it didn't matter, because the truth is: Yes, we always worry about money and time, yes, it does take a toll on us, mentally and physically, no, we're not quitting (the woman in the building department, who will eventually issue our certificate of occupancy, was quite concerned we would).

Yesterday was certainly a low point for me. I could not get myself to do anything around the house, and I was fighting with the lawn tractor. Fortunately we had a lot of visitors, and thus a good reason not to work. Plus we had plans to go for dinner and a movie with our neighbors Julie and Jody of Little Dog Orchard (check them out for cute doggy pictures, and apple tree leases).

Today felt a lot better, not that we got a lot done around the house. I wanted to continue work on the dish station, but we ended up doing a lot of yard work, tilling the field, thatching the field, cutting grass, etc. (after I had finally fixed - if only temporarily - the lawn tractor, I wanted to try all the attachments). We did all this in preparation of tomorrow's Family Farm Day (we have family come over to help us work the garden, it's going to be fun).

Aside from doing yard work, E! was busy in the kitchen preparing food for tomorrow, and for some reason she decided that today was the day to bring IT up from the basement.

IT is a ham, which had been air drying in our basement for more than a year now. We had gotten it from a neighbor, who had slaughtered a pig, and E! decided to turn it into a prosciutto like ham. So she packed it in salt for two weeks, and then hung it up in the basement to dry.

Boy it is sooooo yummy ...


Friday, May 22, 2009

Flushed Away ...

A wee back while ago we had our water distribution system redone, largely to install a UV lamp to kill (potential) bacteria in the water. That is one possible treatment required by the health department. Also required is a water meter, which - once we're open - we are supposed to check every day, and note the water usage.

Well, ever since we had the water meter, I made it a chore as part of my morning routine (getting up, walk the dog, make breakfast, etc.) to check the water meter. This was partly out of curiosity how much water we actually use. We usually use between 100 to 200 gallons per day (that's for the two of us, plus Jay, our tenant).

Today, like every morning, I get up, go into the basement to check the water meter, and write down the number in a pocket calendar. I almost fainted when I compared the number to yesterday's. Apparently we had used almost 1500 gallons within the last 24 hours!!! That gets your heart pounding!!!

Naturally I go into panic mode, I run through the house to see if there are any leaks, none, I go over to the cottage basement (which is accessed from the outside), where our washer and dryer are, but no sign of any water leaks or running water either.

It had to be inside the cottage. Now that was around 7:30am and I knew Jay would still be sleeping. So I did what I could do, turn off the water to the cottage (it actually receives the water from our fancy new water distribution system as described earlier, and thus has a shutoff valve in our basement).

Sure enough, just after breakfast, Jay called, having noticed the absence of water. So I jet over there, bringing the one thing most likely being the culprit: a toilet tank flapper. But I was wrong. Though the toilet was the culprit, it was the floater, which didn't shut off and kept the water running the entire night. A little jostling did the trick (though I am now in constant panic mode, fearing it could happen again).

In moments like these I am glad we have to get rid of the cottage. I have plenty of other things to do, and sometimes I see the cottage more as a liability than an asset.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tractor Envy ...

I finally made some time today to give my new toy a tune-up, new air filter, new spark plug, and new fuel filter (I still need to change the oil, and inflate one of the not so inflated tires). After that I installed the mower deck and took it for a ride.

It's still running a little choppy, but I'll get that fixed, too, sometime. Now, this is the country, folks, and as E! once said: You ain't nothing out here without heavy equipment! And people like to take their equipment for a ride.

Our neighbor Jody stopped by to pick up the trailer cart, so he can collect rocks around his orchard. I admit, his tractor looks more shiny (I can wash mine, too), has more power (maybe I should turbo-charge the engine, all the cool kids do it these days), and it has a cup holder. A CUP HOLDER!!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!! Me wants it!!!

Aside from riding around on the tractor I finished pouring the slab for the A/C compressor, and reinstalled the fixtures in the ADA bathroom. E! was busy in the kitchen, no not cooking, but skim coating two walls, sanding and painting them (did I tell you she is the painter in our household?).


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

WinWorks '09 ...

As I told recently, E! has been, and still is, churning out window sashes like a mad woman. I reinstalled two sets of window sashes today, and what a difference each and every one makes (I am not sure, though, whether the facade looks better because of the painted window sashes, or because of the cleaned windows; I guess it's a little bit of both).

E! is also making progress on the touch up in the second bathroom. Hopefully by tomorrow it'll be done, and I can reinstall the fixtures.

I started pouring another concrete slab behind the house for the A/C compressor, but ran out of cement about halfway through. As we're going to cut today short (we're going to watch a movie with our neighbors, J & J), I'll finish that tomorrow.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Plastered And Trimmed ...

Plastering is starting to grow on me, and the last wall in the second bathroom got what it deserved, a nice coat of plaster. After installing more trim, E! went ahead and caulked and touched up the paint (I should be more careful when installing the trim, which E! labored over to paint). Once all that is done, I can reinstall the fixtures, and then we have two rooms which are pretty much completed. Now that is exciting.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Closing In ...

The second bathroom is almost all plastered up. I finished two wall today. I could have finished the last wall, too, but I don't like to plaster two adjacent walls in sequence, because I would constantly gouge the still wet plaster at the joint.

Our propane boys were back to install a proper pressure regulator on the range and grill. Therefore E! grilled up sausage and veggies for dinner. We definitely still need to fine-tune all the appliances, but that's not unusual with used equipment (just as I need to give my new toy a good tune-up).


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Knock, Knock ...

The second bathroom is making progress. I installed the baseboard and door jamb (including test fitting the door) ...

... and plastered one wall.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Toy Story ...

With my trusty steel workers hard at work yesterday, I knew I wouldn't get anything done that required my full attention, instead I did something I hadn't done in a while: Mow the lawn. With all the rain lately and the warming temperatures, all the grass had been growing like crazy, and I had a hard time with our push mower, though self-propelled.

At the end of the day I had it, I needed something bigger. I went on Craig's List and looked around what's for sale, and lo and behold only ten minutes away someone was selling a lawn tractor with all sorts of attachments, thatcher, lawn sweeper, wagon, and snow thrower. All these things will come in handy for property maintenance.

To make it short, I went there, I saw, I lusted. Today we picked it up (thank you Jody for lending us your trailer, and trailer pulling car, and you, trailer pulling car driver).

Aside from that I started plastering the second bathroom. I started on the ceiling, because E! was still painting the baseboards and trim, which she finished today.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Open Sesame ...

Our steel meisters were back today (which meant getting up early, d'oh!), and it was just as exhausting as the last time. Everything went smoothly, which is always a plus, and for your pleasure and entertainment we took a lot of pictures.

Cut the post ...

... and gone it is.

Critical inspection of the work site.

In with the new beam ...

... and columns.


The pictures may not show it, but having removed the post makes such a difference, because it opens up the beer hall to the bar, and you don't feel like you have to crawl through a maze to get into the main dining area.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Inching Towards Completion ...

The little bathroom is coming along: Plastered, sink working, toilet working, all that's left is connecting all the electrical (oh Mike where art thou). In below picture the big white box on the wall is called an XLerator, a hand dryer, which dries your hands within 15 seconds (through high velocity and heat). They cost a pretty penny, but they save paper (and for a restaurant owner everything that goes with it: buying paper towels, providing a trash can for the paper towels, having to empty the trash can for the paper towels, having to refill the paper towel dispenser, cursing at whoever tried to flush the paper towel down the toilet, well you get the idea) and money.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

All Fired Up ...

How much more exciting can it get, short of us opening up of course. We had our propane man over today, and he hooked up our kitchen equipment (fryer, ten burner range, and grill). R.I.P. hot plate, we're cooking with gas now!!!

Equally exciting is that we're closing in on completing our first room. Granted, it's only a four by eight foot bathroom, but soon it will be completely done, top to bottom. Life is good today ... :-)


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mrs Santa's Workshop ...

As you may have noticed, I barely mentioned E!'s activities lately, and if they usually said something like: E! painted. That doesn't give credit to her work, because she is slaving over this "painting" thing. Below are two pictures showing her domain. It looks like an ER (emergency room) for windows and doors.

In the back you see the two doors to the bathrooms, stripped, sanded, primed, and painted. At their feet are window sashes stripped, sanded, and primed. The patient in the front is the door to the biergarten.

Up against the wall in the picture below is the door jamb for the ADA bathroom door, as well as window and door trim, waiting to be painted.

I can assure you, this is not fun work, in fact its very hard and dusty work. Getting the old paint off the doors and windows is quite difficult, and requires a lot of scraping and sanding. So tell my honey what a fabulous job she does next time you talk to her.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Treasure Hunt ...

As part of the design of our new septic system, we had to get a perk test. You simply dig a two foot deep hole, pour some water in, and measure the time it takes the water level to drop by an inch. Our trusty engineer Lou performed that test a few weeks back, and we were perky!!!

In addition to the perk test, the department of sanitation requires a deep test, which simply examines the composition of the soil to a depth of about five feet. I would have dug the hole, actually we needed two, but instead we had our neighbor's brother-in-law, who runs a mini-excavation business, help us out on that one.

A mini-excavator can come in handy, and it took Jim only half an hour or so to dig those holes.

The first hole is on the parking lot side of our property, which acts as potential expansion of our septic field, if we ever ran into trouble. It happens so that on this property used to be a school house, which was in use until some time after World War II, and the excavation brought forth pieces of the old foundation, piping, and a kitchen sink.

The second hole is next to our cottage (soon to be ex-cottage), which is where our septic system will be installed. This hole had less rocks and junk in it, but after only a shovel full, the digger had cracked an underground pipe. First we thought it might be the sewer pipe for the cottage, but I flushed the toilet, and nothing came out. I don't know what the pipe is for, but who cares, soon it will be dug up and discarded.

So Jim continued digging, and just was finishing up, when something white appeared. On one of its last scoops, the excavator had hit the cottage's sewer pipe, and put a nice hole in it.

Although we are going to tear down the cottage soon, it is still inhabited, and therefore I went to put a temporary fix around the hole in the sewer pipe.


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Table Saw Magic ...

We have yet to tackle our front entrance, which can be seen in this previous post. We want to replace the roof with copper, which should happen within the next month or so. Under the roof line is a cove moulding, which isn't in the best shape anymore.

So we set out to find a replacement for it. I took off a piece of the moulding and started touring the building supplier and lumber yard circle in our area. At one place I slap the sample on the counter, the guy behind the counter looks at it and says "Good luck with that".

He did refer us to a place nearby, which specializes in custom moulding production. He warned us that it wouldn't be cheap, and he was right, it was outrageously expensive, considering that we only need sixteen feet.

We should be able to get this moulding cheaper. So I punch "cove moulding" into my trusty search engine, and out comes: Cove moulding on the table saw!.

You know already where this ends. After two hours and a pile of saw dust, I had milled enough moulding for the front entrance for less than $20, as opposed to more than $300 that the custom moulding place would have charged.

Moving on. I finally got around to take a picture of what's to come. Hopefully this week my trusty steel workers will return and remove the big post (as can be seen in the picture below), which will widen the entrance to the beer hall, and thus make it more inviting.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Where's The Excitement ...

"Hey Dude, what's up?! Days and days of boring blog posts. You lavish yourself with praise and barely mention E! anymore. What's going on?! I'm starting to fall asleep!"

I hear you. Unfortunately not every day can deliver ground breaking news and excitement that will make you slip off the edge of your seat (don't tell me your life is like that, I'd like to hear about it if it is).

Like many of the last few days, today was filled with nitty gritty stuff (cleaning the little bathroom, because I didn't put a tarp down while plastering), running around (picking up the material for the beer hall floor), ordering things (duct work for the beer hall air condition), and painting (E! is painting doors and window sashes like a mad woman).

None of this is exciting, but it has to be done. Bear with us.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Yay Me ...

I woke up at 2:20am this morning with a dream about a head-on collision car crash, and didn't fall asleep again for another two hours. In other words, my day was dragging along.

Nevertheless, work had to be done. So I cleared the area around the opening to the beer hall, so that my iron men can do their work. I was tired today, so I forgot to take a picture of the scene, showing what's going to happen. I'll try to remember tomorrow.

The good news was that my plaster material had come in, so I picked it up, and made a mad dash to finish the little bathroom. Yay me! Ok, the bathroom isn't finished yet, but with the plaster all done, I can install the sink and toilet, and wait for Mike to show up to turn on the lights. Once this happens, it will be the first room that can be checked off as completed. Paaaaaaaaartyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy !!!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

All Quiet On The Western Front ...

Our steel boys were here today to take measurements for the next exciting project. They could have squeezed us in for Friday, but I declined. After all I have to prepare for them, and things can get bouncy around here, and I didn't want to get stressed out by having to juggle too many things in too short a time.

Unfortunately my plaster didn't come, well, it did but the bags were torn, so they had to order new ones. Tomorrow. And then it's plaster time again.

Instead I reinstalled two window sashes, which E! had refurbished, and did a few other non-noteworthy things. Some days are just this dull.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

One More To Go ...

I decided to plaster the ceiling in the bathroom today, and would have possibly done the last wall, too, had I not run out of material. I put my man Rob at Marjam to work to get me some more, which hopefully gets here by tomorrow. But there is always more to do at Gunk Haus.

I talked to my Iron Man today about another project, which would widen the opening from the bar to the beer hall. They're going to come by tomorrow and measure, and maybe by next week we'll have some heavy metal action again.

E! is very busy refurbishing window sashes and doors, for the bathrooms and the front entrance.

In case you wondered why I haven't posted any more pictures of the plaster in the bathroom, well, it is a small room, and there is no good way to take any reasonable pictures (and you know how a white wall looks like, don't you, Amy).


Monday, May 4, 2009

Who's Your Farmer ...

The Hudson Valley is a breeding ground for small farmers. Subsequently you could expect that many restaurants source locally, instead of buying produce which has been shipped halfway across the country.

The problem is, however, that restaurants and farmers are often unaware of each other. We went to an event today, which intends to change this.

Dutchess County Bounty is an organization, which tries to connect farmers and chefs. Today's event was a sort of speed dating, where restaurant chefs would sit at a table, and every few minutes the farmers would change tables. In those few minutes farmers and restaurants would exchange information about needs and offers.

It was a fun event, and we met some very interesting farmers. We took along our neighbor Billiam of Liberty View Farms, who is very involved organizing local farmers, too. While driving to the event we talked a lot about how to better connect farmers and consumers. Billiam has some great ideas, and we hope they work out.

As the event took up all morning, I only managed to get one more wall plastered, but I have to come to love borax as retarder, it works great.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Retarded ...

As I told you yesterday, I had problems with the plaster setting too fast, which prevented me from smooth troweling it for a nicer look (did anybody ever mention to you that I have the tendency to perfectionism).

I knew there are retarder products out there, made by the same people who make the plaster, which prevent the plaster from setting prematurely. So I get on the phone and call my usual sources. All but one gave me the acoustical equivalent of a jaw drop, which I am so accustomed to by now (am I really asking for things way off the charts, maybe it is me).

Fortunately, there is the interweb, which knows it all. So I punch in "gypsum retarder", and off it goes looking, searching, foraging, finding, like a three page paper by the Air Force Medical Division. Amongst other things it says there that colloids, like blood and saliva, retard gypsum.

Gosh, those materials are available in abundance, and free!!! So I grab my mixing bucket and start spitting into it. That lasted all but two minutes, when I ran out of spit. I tried hard, but aside from a few drops I just couldn't spit anymore. I had collected a meager amount of spit, but how much coverage would I get out of it, and should I risk starting a wall, not knowing if my supply of saliva had replenished by the time I ran out of plaster?

Naturally I had to find something else. The military had mentioned blood, which may be abundant for someone in the military, but all I had were my five precious quarts of blood circling my body, and although the thought of slitting my wrist had crossed my mind, I would have most likely fainted before I could mix, not even speaking of applying, the plaster. And what if I ran out of plaster, would I have to turn into a vampire, and turn innocent by-walkers into Gunk Haus wall coverings?

Fortunately I have a wife, no not for the blood. She also is an avid interwebber, and found out that tartaric acid will retard gypsum as well. I am sure all of you have tartaric acid handy for such occasion, that is if you were interested in making cheese, quark, yogurt, and various other milk based products. Well, we are those kind of people, and off I went to give it a try (no animals, wifes, and innocent bystanders were harmed in the making of this plaster).

The result was ok, but I guess I just didn't add enough tartaric acid, largely because I didn't know how much to add, and because we don't have that much in the first place. Back to the interwebs. And there it was: Borax!!! Yes, you heard, borax, the stuff that makes your cloths clean. Off to the next supermarket, $2.69 per pound, now that is what I call a bargain retarder.

My first experiment was ok, but I am certain I need to add more borax (hey, those walls better shine). Tomorrow. Wait for it ...


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Plastered Up ...

It was supposed to be yesterday, but it didn't happen until today (we were running errands yesterday), my first attempt in plastering.

For sifting the lime and finish plaster I built a tami from an old bucket and window screen. I melted the screen straight onto the bucket with a blow torch (don't breath the fumes).

And off we go mixing the plaster (in case you're looking for a Christmas present for me, how about t-shirts without holes in the shoulders).

Slap the plaster on the wall, smooth trowel, and ...

... beautiful.

Now, I make it sound like it's easy, but rest assured, I was flirting with a martini night. First I didn't make enough plaster, so halfway through the wall I ran out of mud. The big problem is that the plaster started setting too fast, so I had to rush to mix the second batch, slap it on, and still manage to smooth trowel the first batch.

This worked out alright on the first wall (I picked a small wall as my first attempt for a good reason, aside from that it is also in the bathroom that never sees sunlight, and is therefore more forgiving). On the second wall, I totally failed, ok, not totally, but I made a crucial mistake in my math.

Having learned from the first wall, I wanted to make a larger batch, but I didn't think straight and actually made it smaller, yet I added the right amount of tint for the larger batch. Now the wall looked a lot more yellow, I ran out of mud earlier, had to mix more, messed up more math, ran out of mud again, had to mix even more, ran out again just shy of the top of the wall. By that time, the first batch had set too much already to smooth trowel it.

Not a biggy, I'll just plaster over it, and get it over with, but as you can see, not a fun day, though I ended up not being too stressed out, hence no martini, just a beer, or two.