Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day

I hope everyone had as good of a Christmas as we did. It was extra fun for us watching our grandsons, the real joy of Christmas for me.

Nate offers me a present that he wrapped

Nate Shows Great Grandma our present from the boys; a 2008 calendar with their photos on each page.

Blake shows Mamma his new walkie-talkies, the hit of the Christmas gifts. I’m almost surprised the batteries lasted the whole day!

Nate unwraps his present. He has always been fascinated with cordless tools so how could a grandpa resist buying his two year old grandson his own cordless screwdriver. Older brother Blake will give him a hand using it.

Nate shows off the cordless screwdriver

Blake shows papa and Nate his new book. The book is a popup book that is all about the human digestive system. Of course it has all the gross stuff that a 6 year old boy would think is way cool.

Everyone stands around looking at Blakes book.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Grandma and Nate Dancing

When you are two years old it sure is fun to have an extra silly grandma!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sun and Snow

As I sat at my desk this afternoon and tried to work this view of the sun and snow kept calling me.

I finally grabbed the camera and went out on the deck and took this photo.

Then I walked down to the lake to look at the beauty of the sun on the snow and ice covered lake. As I walked back into the house I snapped this photo of the sun on the deck.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Grandsons and Christmas Cookies

It was a cold day with rain and snow so it seemed like a good day to stay inside a bake gingerbread men with the grandsons. 5 year old Blake really got into; mixing, rolling out the dough, cutting and then decorating the cookies. 2 year old Nate was excited about it too, but didn’t understand that you don’t have to use all your weight when pushing in the raisin eyes. So his cookies were a little deformed, but they sure did taste good. Of course the fun thing was spending time with the boys.

We always feel like we are extra lucky to have two great boys for our grandsons. All the long hard hours of building our dream home were worth it when we get to spend some good quality time with the boys!

Blake making the dough

A little molasses on your face is ok when you are the person in charge of quality control

Nate inspects his coookie while grandma looks on

Nate points to his cookie, just before grandma pulled it out of the oven

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Heated Wall

Today I finished tiling the mud room’s heated wall. Here in Southeast Alaska one frequently comes in from outside with a wet coat. Since Connie rides her bike to work most days and home again for lunch that means she is out in the rain about 30 minutes each day. So she not only has wet rain gear but a wet backpack. So, I figured a heated wall that is hooked to the radiant heat source would be a good idea.

What wasn’t a good idea was that I originally had just a layer of sheetrock over the PEX tubing that delivers the heated water to the wall. Well I can now tell you that sheetrock is a very poor thermal transmitter and that the thermal conductivity of ceramic tile is much better by a factor of several times. So, the tile will now transmit the heat to the coats and wet gear to more efficiently dry them. The added bonus is just before you go outside you put on a nice warm coat.

I had never seen a heated wall before I built this one into our home, but I have to say I got the idea from heated towel racks that are common in many European hotels. I can now say that I highly recommend radiant heated floors and why not heat at least one wall in a mud room?

I only hung one coat on the wall so that you could see the tile. The wall is only 3 feet wide and the tiling is 4 feet high. That is big enough to do the job. The water that run through the PEX in this wall and in the floor is heated to around 90 degrees.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas is Coming

Yes, it is a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. But, it’s the 1st tree we have had in our new home so it is extra special to us.

Living in a rain forest surrounded by thousands of evergreen trees I just can’t bring my self to purchase a farm grown tree. (I also don’t buy drinking water in a plastic bottle when we get over 100 inches of rain a year.)

This little tree was soon to be cut down anyway as it was right in the path of some underground utilities that are about to be ran. I hate cutting trees down unless there is a reason too.

4 generations work together decorating the tree. Great grandma, grandma, momma and Blake putting the decorations on the tree.

Blake was getting into the tree decorating.

When you are not quite two years old its tough being told you can’t be at the top of the ladder with your 5 year old brother at the same time. But, it helps to have a loving grandmother.

Grandma holds Nate on the lader while I go outside and take a picture through the window.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Concrete and Christmas Cookies

Yes I know that Christmas cookies and concrete don’t go together, but I like the title.

I went out this evening to take a couple of photos of the concrete after I finished stripping the forms from the garage floor a couple of day ago. As I was coming back in I looked though windows to see Connie baking.

I took this photo through the window and as you can see Connie didn't know I was there.

I accidentally hit the lenses on the window so she caught me taking this shot.

Below are the photos of the concrete after the forms were stripped from the garage floor. I finished the job a couple of days ago after putting it on hold because it was too cold to work in an unheated area.

I’m very happy with the results. After finishing stripping the forms the concrete looked about as good as it could except in one small area. So, I’m very happy and proud of the job we did.

The black ABS drain pipe is the floor drains for the garage floor. The area below the garage will someday be a family rec room and my office.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Another Day on the Lake

I saw my daughter-in-law Jenn out on the lake today with the boys. So I walked out to see Jenn and Blake on skates while Nate was going skating the easy way.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Frozen Lake

The last few days it’s been cold and clear in Sitka so Swan Lake is good and frozen. My mother-in-law Millie and I had surprise visitors today when my daughter-in-law and two grandsons came walking across the lake. When the left I joined them on the ice and the Connie and I went back on the lake this evening for a short walk.

The view from the front deck of the frozen lake.

Daughter-in-law Jenn and grandson Nate on the ice in front of our house. I tired to get 5 year old Blake in the photo, but do you know how hard it is to get a 5 year old to stay still when there is a frozen lake to run on?

Looking back at the house from just a short ways out on the lake.

Connie is trying to stay warm as we cross the lake to get a look at the house, which is in the middle of the photo.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stripping Cement Forms

Nearly 20 months after we poured the concrete for the garage I’m finally getting around to stripping the cement forms that held up the garage floor. As you can see in the photos this is all overhead work so a hardhat is a must. Between wearing a hardhat all day and working overhead my neck feels like it’s been ran through the wringer. But, it’s been worth it to finally see how the concrete pour turned out. I have to say so far I’m very happy with the quality.

One portion stripped down to concrete and the joist pulled off the plywood just prior to the final stripping. Even though it’s overhead and gravity is working in my favor the ¾ plywood form is a bearcat to pull. But, when it lets go you better move out of the way fast!

A closeup of one of the grade beams. Note the round circles are the plastic shoes that held up the rebar.

I'll post more photos later when I get further along or get done with the job.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sitka Daily Photo

I was cruising around the world of blogs the other night and I came across a blog called Sofia Daily Photo. This is a blog that features daily photos from Sofia Bulgaria. I then noticed a link to a whole bunch of blogs that feature daily photos of cities all around the world. The idea of sitting at my computer and checking out interesting places to visit all over the globe intrigued me and a spent a couple of hours just traveling to cites I had been to and cites I want to go to someday.

Living in Alaska I know this state and area of the world is interesting to many people so I decided to sign up for a daily blog to feature Sitka, Alaska. I know I’m a little biased but I think Sitka is just about the most beautiful place on earth and I’m very thankful that I get to live here with my family. So, if any of you readers of this blog want to see more photos of Sitka please visit my new blog at this address: http://sitkadailyphoto.blogspot.com/

I’m sorry I’m not a better photographer, but maybe I’ll get better as I take more photos of the wonderful city of Sitka and post them on Sitka Daily Photo.

Grandson Blake came with Connie and me on Sunday when we went to Sitka’s National Historic Park to take a walk and to take photos of the many totems in the park.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Thanksgiving Day Photos

Nate runs everywhere he goes

Nate is always intrested in what big brother Blake is up to

Blake likes the loft

I guess I like the loft too. I set my dinner aside long enough to take this photo. I didn't have a wide enough angle lens on the camera to fit in everyone so poor Nate is not in the photo.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday and it was extra special this year with 4 generations of my family sharing diner in our new home.

I think I have always like Thanksgiving because it is the one holiday that is dedicated to being thankful for all the wonderful blessings that I have been fortunate to experience. I of course am most thankful for a great family.

Nate likes to play peek-a-boo on the stairs

Blake discovered that he can slide down the stair jacks. It’s hard to say don’t do that when I know how much fun I had doing it when I was a kid.

Connie as always put at one heck of a good spread of all the traditional Thanksgiving food.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pan Abode Homes

I came home over this past weekend with my head swirling with all I learned in just a few days of training at the Pan Abode Homes office in Renton Washington. I also came home even more impressed with Pan Abode.

Not only has Pan Abode been putting together home packages here in the USA since 1952, but I like their business philosophy and integrity. They believe in charging a fair price for a high quality product and strive to always make improvements in their designs. One way I judge a business is by what the employees say and how long they have been employed. I found the employees to be happy and 20 to 30 years of employment at Pan Abode is the norm. This says a lot to me and I’m proud to now be a small part of the Pan Abode Team striving to make dreams come true.

Pan Abode designs and builds 3 types of homes: The Cassic Timber, The Phoenix Timber Home and Post and Beam. Below is an example of each type of construction.

Pan Abode Homes Classic Red Cedar Home style that they have been designing and supplying material for in the US since 1952.

The Pan Abode Homes Phoenix Home system utilizes laminated red cedar logs to build a strong and very beautiful home.

Our home is a Pan Abode Post and Beam style house.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Silly Boys!

I’m heading out of town for a week but before I leave I figured I’d post these two cute photos of Blake and Nate from this past Saturday.

The boys showed up Saturday morning just as I was putting away some of my ties that Connie had been drying on the folding table after washing. I’m not sure Nate even knows what a tie is but he sure wanted to put one on. Then he wore it all day long and all around town. Silly boy!

This window that Blake is poking his head out of looks out onto the great room from the loft in the spare bedroom. It was Blake’s idea to put this window into the loft and he and his grandmother out voted me because I wasn’t going to. I guess this is a vote I’m glad I lost because it’s sure has been fun for me to watch the boys have fun in the loft.

This is the boys play loft in the spare bedroom and one of their favorite places to play.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Honoring my Father-In-Law On this Veterans Day

The USS Gambier Bay

Veterans Day is of course a day that has been set aside for us to pay our respect to the many brave Men and Women who over the last 2 centuries have given so much for us. I have to admit that sometimes I find it a tad hard to be patriotic in today’s world where we the USA no longer seem to live up the high standards that many of those brave folks gave their lives for. When I hear our President dodging the question of torture and when I look at the toll this never ending Iraq War is taking on our county I have to wonder.

However, when I think back to all my father-in-law George Durkop gave for the US and the high standard that he set I can not help but feel pride. I’m not only proud of my wife’s father, but I have to be proud of what he and so many others stood for.

George’s served active duty in 3 wars. The 2nd World War, Korea, and Viet Nam.

During WWII he was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gambier Bay on the fateful day of October 25th 1944 when the only US aircraft carrier sank during the 2nd World War went down. George was serving as Gunner’s Mate 3/c on the Gambier Bay when she was hit by several 8” shells fired by the Japanese War Ship HIJMS Chikuma and at least two other Japanese ships during the Navel Battle in the Leyte Gulf. He spent over two days swimming in the ocean before being rescued. This was when he earned his 1st Purple Heart Medal. He finished the 2nd World War Serving on the USS Hubbard.

At the end of the 2nd World War he joined the US Air Force.

During the Korean War he served active duty in the US Air Force in Korea and somehow earned another Purple Heart. I never heard how he earned this one.

In 1968 during the Viet Nam war he was called up for active duty from the Colorado Air National Guard during the Pueblo Incident . He was sent back to Korea for a 2nd time. During this duty he was one of 2 Air Force NCO’s who was stationed on the DMZ to work as an air support spotter. He spent 13 months on the DMZ during this Hot time in the Cold War.

George Retired as a Chief Master Sergeant from the Colorado Air National Guard in the 1980’s.

George was a very humble quiet man who seldom talked of his time at war. Once shortly before his death I felt honored when he recounted the full details of the sinking of the Gambier Bay to me. After hearing how he watched men be blown up, burn to death and then some of them get eaten by sharks I could understand why he didn’t like to talk about some of the darker things he had seen in his life.

To me George was a real American Hero!

George I salute your memory and thank you for all that you gave to the USA!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Kitchen and Laundry

When Connie and I started thinking about building a house we knew that we wanted the kitchen and living room to not be separated by a wall. The idea of a peninsula with the sink in the middle so that we could wash dishes while looking across the dinning area and then out the front windows appealed to both of us. I don’t know about you, but if I can have a great view and talk to my family while doing dishes it doesn’t seem like such a big chore.

In the design phases of the home we were extra pleased that Pan Abode Homes was so very willing to work with us to locate the kitchen where we wanted it. And then when we asked them to add additional windows in the kitchen they were more than happy to do so. Connie and I were both willing to give up some cabinet space to get more sun light into our home.

We put the windows above the stove counters becasue our only view out that side of the hosue is of the neighbor's house, and this gave us room for stuff on the counters under the windows. The other window was installed lower so that we could have a full view of the lake while working at the stove.

A few folks have given me a hard time about mounting the microwave hood vent so high above the stove, but I didn't want to knock my head on it ever time I bent over the stove. That is why there are two microwaves. Sort of a "His" and "Hers". I usually use the upper microwave and my 5'1" wife usually uses the one on the countertop. But, I have to confess I like having two microwaves, because when I cook it’s almost all done the fast and easy way with a microwave.

This is the view we see as we come in the back door and through the laundry room.

The shelves in the pantry are built extra heavy out of fir so that Connie can climb them like a ladder. If you note the top shelve you can see the hand hold that is cut into the shelve. The two below this one are cut the same way.

Connie picked out all the appliances when we were furnishing the house, but I insisted on a mop sink. And, man or man was I glad we had this when we were doing the sheetrock mud and painting! You will also note the big jug of hand soap right over the sink, this is so I can wash up as I come in the house from doing some dirty job outside.