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Loading up oversized chair at Goodwill Athens Ohio.

Anna was a little dubious when I told her I could fit this oversized chair in the car.

The Goodwill people are very nice and let us determine if it could fit in the trunk before we bought it.

Posted Mon Nov 20 07:00:14 2017 Tags:
Hanging up pots

It's amazing how hanging up pots makes a new kitchen feel like my own. Mark added some thin boards to give his screws something to bite into between studs, providing space to hang up the most-used items. (Thanks for yard saling such great sauce pans, Rose Nell!)

Drilling out a pot handle

Back in Virginia, we hung our pots on mug hooks. But screws are easier to use high up on the wall in our new location. A little bit of drilling ensured that each handle would slide easily over the screw heads.

Posted Sun Nov 19 07:00:14 2017 Tags:
Estimating wire length


6-3 wire for an electric range costs $2.79 per foot.

At that price, it's essential to guess your distances correctly.

Running a string from the fuse box to the stove is a good start. Then add 15% for wiggle room.
Posted Sat Nov 18 07:00:12 2017 Tags:
Dow Lake

This past weekend, I discovered that I'd been driving the long way around to get to the nearby Strouds Run State Park. Taking the shortcut means I hit park property only 2.1 miles from our house, and in double that distance we achieve the scenic (if man-made) Dow Lake. Inspired by the close proximity, I tried out not one new trail this week but two.

Drained beaver pond

In addition to ambling along the Lakeview Trail, I also enjoyed Beaver Pond Trail...which ends in this flat, open area where a pond probably stood only a couple of years before. The walk was a lesson in impermanence --- how human to name a trail after something that can disappear based on a whim of the weather combined with a critter's unpredictable brain. Is this a bit like giving directions based on "that old store that used to be owned by the Joneses back in 1977"?

Ice droplets

Despite the minor disappointment of finding no beaver or pond on Beaver Pond Trail, I thoroughly enjoyed the walk. Because the setting was a broad floodplain with clay-lined streams exactly like the one we moved away from. Now I know where to go if I ever get homesick!

Posted Fri Nov 17 07:00:14 2017 Tags:
Plumbing a pressure tank


We added a pressure reducing valve and a pressure tank before installing our heat pump water heater.

Total elapsed time for the entire project was three hours hands-on plus two hours at Lowes.
Posted Thu Nov 16 07:00:13 2017 Tags:
Heat pump water heater location

Research suggests that heat-pump water heaters are by far the most energy-efficient option for most households. They're approximately three times as efficient as ordinary electric water heaters since they don't create warmth...they merely move heat out of the air and into the water.

Installed water heater(A gas, point-of-use device at each hot-water faucet approaches the same efficiency. But we're not on a natural gas line and didn't have to make that choice. Electric point-of-use hot-water heaters can't come close to heat-pump technology.)


Downsides of a heat-pump water heater include the high initial price tag (but look for rebates!) and the hum of a fan. Heat-pump water heaters also cool the air around them (great in summer, not so great in the winter). And they need a large, open area with a temperature that doesn't drop below 45 Fahrenheit for optimal performance.

I decided to give up a bit of square footage in my writing space for optimal, energy-efficient hot water. More on what we think of our high-class heater in a later post!

Posted Wed Nov 15 07:52:21 2017 Tags:
Junction Earthworks


It was hard decision between the Amish store and the Indian mound.

But a road closure made the choice for us.

Actually, both roads were closed, but Errol knew a back road to reach the mound site.
Posted Tue Nov 14 07:00:16 2017 Tags:
Breaker box diagram

Figuring out our breaker box became a lot more intuitive once our electricity was turned on. At that point, we were able to use the tried-and-true technique of turning on all the lights in the house then flicking breakers one by one to see when each zone went dark.

In the process, I learned that I'd incorrectly added up the amperage already in use in our box. First of all, there were three wired but apparently unused breakers in operation. I'm a little leery of simply deleting them, but I'm equally leery of leaving juice running to wires that seem to go nowhere. At the moment, I'm leaning toward pulling those mystery breakers and associated wires out and using the spots for something else.

Tandem breakers

I also learned that the two breakers shown in the center of the photo above are what's known as tandem (or cheater) breakers. Each one allows the wiring of two unrelated circuits in a single spot. Despite the name, they're not necessarily cheating...although they can be.

Tandem breakers can also be a problem because they're small and heat up easily, so they have a tendency to flip a lot. Sure enough, Mark's breaker flicks every time he turns his space heater and his big monitor on at the same time. Assuming those confusing slots  mentioned above really aren't in use, it seems like a good idea to ditch the "cheaters" and wire each of our zones onto a standalone circuit that will be less likely to overheat.

Posted Mon Nov 13 07:00:51 2017 Tags:

Install minisplit


None of our local HVAC companies will install Home Depot minisplits.

We decided to buy the brand we want anyway and install it ourselves.

Stage one involved mounting the indoor unit. Easy once we figured out our stud spacing. Sixteen inches on center.

Posted Sun Nov 12 07:00:18 2017 Tags:
Frost on brussels sprout

So far, our ridgetop location seems to be moderating low temperatures as expected. We missed the October frosts that hit so many other folks, skating by at 35 even though the projected low was 28 one night. This is in stark contrast to our previous, north-facing, valley-bottom farm where lows could often dip as much as ten degrees below the forecast.

Frosted redbud

But all gentle autumns must come to an end. The night after our electricity was turned on, I woke to frost on the grass. 30 degrees --- enough to send many of the tree leaves tumbling but not so much it nipped my winter garden. Now to see if the ridgetop mildness can make up for me planting everything a month late....

Posted Sat Nov 11 07:00:12 2017 Tags:

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