Winter Arrives

After the long Thanksgiving weekend here, winter arrived here late Sunday afternoon. Joyce had already taken George back to school, and the snow started falling at 3:40. Snowed heavy all night, and I got up at 4:30 to dig us out. Jenn’s school was closed, so she finished off the shoveling. After I got home from work, I grabbed the shovel and cleared out the Christmas floodlights she wasn’t able to see under the snow during the day.

Winter has arrived.

Fall Fell

In just over two weeks, the bright colors in the trees have faded, and most of the leaves have either fallen, or been ripped out of the trees by the last few rain and windstorms.

Joyce and I spent most of Sunday mowing, grinding, and sweeping up the leaves from the yard, and Jennifer helped me the day before mounting the new door on the shed, and moving the summer porch furniture into storage.

We’ve gone from a comfortable isolation, to feeling exposed to our neighbors now clearly visible through the trees. Latest weather forecasts are now talking about the possibility of snow accumulation Thursday night into Friday morning. Snowsticks are now up along the driveway and road. Fall is just about over.

And we’re back (Part 3)…

The storm had been hyped for several days, with excited forecasts of heavy snow starting Wednesday late morning to early afternoon, and going on through the night. Come Wednesday afternoon, nothing. Easy drive home, with the snow just starting as I drove up Rt. 3. The snow picked up quickly, with big, fat flakes after I got home.

About 10:30, just as we were getting ready for bed, the lights flickered a couple of times, and a few minutes later, went out for good. I added a couple of gallons of gas and started the generator, then went to bed. As we fell asleep, we could hear loud cracking and crashes in the woods next to us. The next morning, we were knocked out of our beds by a crash that shook the house, and awoke to find this outside.

Trees bent over with heavy snow.
Back yard and shed.

Front yard, north side.

Tree broken off by heavy snow.
North side, near screen porch.

Downed power line from house.
Tree top, with downed power line.

The top of one tree took out our power lines to the pole, and another just missed our back porch. The news reported Tyngsboro was 92% without power, and many other towns nearby were completely dark. Reports said many roads were blocked by downed trees, poles, and lines, and to stay off the roads unless necessary. Later that afternoon, Jennifer and I ventured out for more gasoline, and she took these pictures along Frost road.

Broken power pole on Frost Road.
Broken power pole on Frost Road.

Frost Road.
Frost Road.

Snapped branches on power line - Frost Road.
Snapped branches on power line – Frost Road.

More snapped branches on power line - Frost Road.
More snapped branches on power line – Frost Road.

Power crew on Frost Road.
Power crew on Frost Road.

The power was restored to our neighborhood around eight that evening, except to our house. Power crews were not able to address individual homes until all the large areas and critical operations were restored, so we didn’t see any activity until Sunday morning. First a tree crew arrived to clean the downed limbs from the lines, then the line crew arrived to reattach the lines from the house to the pole.

Power line and branches - Sunday Morning.
Power line and branches – Sunday Morning.

Broken power line connections - Sunday morning.
Broken power line connections – Sunday morning.

Power crew reconnecting line - Sunday morning.
Power crew reconnecting line – Sunday morning.

Power crew reconnecting line - Sunday morning.
Power crew reconnecting line – Sunday morning.

Just getting back to normal, just in time to start another school and work week. Forecasts are now calling for another ‘noreaster for Tuesday, here’s hoping it will pass us by.

Chain Recovery and Lube

I’ve tried several of the bicycle specialty chain lubes, and I haven’t been too happy with any of them. The last one I used, advertised to be ‘long-lasting’ and ‘repels water’, left my almost new chain rusted after one race in the rain at the beginning of August (Boston Tri). Here is what my chain looked like after I put the bike up on the stand and wiped everything down.

02 Bad Chain 2(Sorry about the blur. My phone is not the best camera.)

As you can see, just one sprint-distance race in the rain (and near the ocean with sea spray) turned the chain into one long line of rust. Using my Chain Breaker, I took the chain off, wiped off the last remaining lube, grit, and other road debris, then attacked the rust.

03 Clean Chain

As using a wire brush and sandpaper is out of the question, there are a variety of commercial chemical products to remove rust. The most common on the left consists of a strong phosphoric acid-based solution which converts the soft, flaky rust into a harder, impervious coating. However, this is a little too strong for this case, and would result in coating that might bind between the links. The milder ‘CLR in the center is also an acid-based solution, mostly based on various organic acids such as citric and lactic (yes, the same lactic acid which builds up in your muscles), along with surfactants, which dissolves thin layers of gunk and surface rust. After cleaning the last of the oil and grease from the chain using the IPA (isopropyl alcohol, 91%) , I let it soak a bit with occasional agitation.

04 Clean Chain 2

After a bit, the last of the rust was gone, leaving a clean chain in a dirty, rusty water bath. Removing the chain with gloves, I rinsed the chain with cold water and then immediately with the IPA to remove last traces of water. Wiping down the chain with clean paper towels, I hung it to finish drying.

05 Wax Chain 1

Meantime, I set up a double-boiler and melted one block (out of the four-block pack) of the paraffin wax I recommended previously. After the wax had melted and the water under was gently boiling (don’t let the water boil over!), I put the chain in to soak.

06 Wax Chain 2

The chain bubbled a bit as the paraffin soaked into the links, and then slowly stopped. After allowing it to soak a bit more, I fished the chain out, and hung it to cool.

07 Wax Chain 3

After the chain cooled, and the paraffin hardened, I had to flex the chain a bit to get the individual links moving. Once the chain was moving somewhat freely, I checked it against the chain wear gauge.

10 Check Chain 3(Thank you Jennifer for taking the picture while I held the chain and gauge. Now clean up your room.)

As the gauge showed only a minor amount of wear (perhaps I should have checked it before cleaning and waxing), I mounted it back on the bike, and spun the crank and shifted until the chain moved smoothly through the full range of the derailers.

11 Good Chain 1

12 Good Chain 2

Result: Almost new chain, dry lubed, for just a few pennies, which will not attract sand and grit. It worked well for Cranberry Olympic, and what do you know, the old, tried and true method appears to give the best results according to Velo News, Sheldon Brown, and even testing from a laboratory dedicated to cycling. Take that, overpriced, fancy lubes.

Bathroom Remodeling – Phase I

It’s been just over a week since the bathroom remodeling started, here is what it is looking like so far.

This is where we started…

100_5030 (768x1024) 100_5031 (768x1024) 100_5032 (768x1024) 100_5033 (1024x768) 100_5034 (768x1024) 100_5035 (1024x768) 100_5036 (768x1024) 100_5037 (768x1024) 100_5038 (768x1024) 100_5039 (1024x768)

After removal of the old floor, toilet and tub. They also took off the baseboard, numbering each piece to go back in the same location.

100_5040 (768x1024) 100_5041 (1024x768) 100_5042 (768x1024) 100_5043 (1024x768)


Here is where they ran into a surprise while taking out the old tub. Seems that when they built the place, someone tried to run a water supply line where a waste line was already placed. How did they fix it? Just run the line up through the floor next to the wall, instead of inside the wall. (Note the old hole drilled in the baseplate where the water line was suppose to run.)

100_5044 (768x1024) 100_5045 (1024x768) 100_5046 (1024x768) 100_5047 (1024x768)100_5048 (1024x768)100_5049 (768x1024)

Here is the new tub installed. They put up temporary plastic so we could use our only shower for the weekend.


100_5050 (768x1024) 100_5051 (1024x768) 100_5052 (768x1024)

Tiling has started. Hope to get the rest of the walls and floors done in the next few days.

100_5053 (768x1024) 100_5054 (768x1024)

Things are going well. More Later.

Valentine’s Day Blizzard – Aftermath

The Valentine’s Day ‘blizzard’ has come and gone, and for blizzards this year, this one didn’t turn out to be much. We did get about 10″ of snow, and it was a bit windy, but other than that, not too bad. We got some light snow yesterday, which stopped in the late afternoon to early evening. It started snowing again overnight, and was snowing when we woke, but the snow ended around 10 AM. After checking radar to ensure the last of the snow was gone, Joyce, the kids and I got out and started digging out. Here are some more pictures to compare to yesterday’s.

100_4815 (1280x960)

We still have a good bit of snow on the roof. Here is the view out George’s bedroom window.

100_4832 (960x1280)

100_4833 (1280x960)

Here is Jennifer digging out the path around the garage between the front and back doors.

100_4834 (1280x960)

100_4836 (1280x960)

While Jennifer was digging out the front, George and I worked on the big porch. George’s approach was to take a shovel full of snow, and then throw it as high into the air as he could.

100_4837 (1280x960)

Jennifer finished the front, and then came around to help us.

100_4818 (1280x960)

The snow is getting so deep at the back of the house, I had to dig a new trench to uncover the basement window. Getting the basement bulkhead door dug out is a lost cause.

100_4830 (1280x960)

100_4831 (1280x960)

100_4827 (1280x960)

We discovered the roof rake was missing a bolt. I got it replaced the night before, and was able to get a bit more down today. However, I couldn’t get as much off the small porch as I wanted, and could not get to the other side due to the depth of the snow.

100_4838 (1280x960)

100_4840 (1280x960)

100_4841 (1280x960)

100_4845 (1280x960)

Here is the view down the side of the driveway after Joyce got it dug out. Notice where the snow sticks I pictured yesterday are not seen.

100_4848 (960x1280)

100_4849 (1280x960)

100_4850 (1280x960)

So we’re all dug out, warm and dry. I hear there is another snowstorm in the forecast for later this week.

Valentine’s Day Blizzard – Prelude

Well, it’s been about a week since our last snowstorm, so it’s time for yet another blizzard. Joyce has already been to the store, I went out, filled the car and snow blower tanks with gasoline, picked up two gallons of -25F windshield fluid, and got back just as a few snowflakes started flying through the air. I took a few pictures before we left on our morning errands, and I hope to update them as the storm progresses and afterwards.

100_4812 (1280x960)

Even with the snow blower, it’s been impossible to get the driveway dug down to bare pavement. We’ve put calcium chloride ice melt down, but it had no effect as it has been so cold.

100_4809 (960x1280)

We got new snow sticks this year to help us track the edge of the driveway when we’re using the snow blower. Unfortunately, they are only 3′ high and they don’t make any longer ones.

100_4803 (1280x960)

100_4802 (1280x960)

100_4801 (1280x960)

100_4799 (1280x960)

Our backyard has become a network of trenches, so we can get to the firewood under the small porch and to the shed. We’ve been pushing the snow off the big porch, but will have to start shoveling it up and over as the snow banks have reached the level of the porch (5’6″ off the ground).

Looking forward to spring.

Go Jennifer!

Joyce and I finally had a chance to watch Jennifer participate in (almost) a whole swim meet, with the Lowell YMCA Barracudas against the West Roxbury YMCA Gators. We did miss the first few heats, as we went to the West Roxbury YMCA only to discover an empty pool not much larger than small hotel pool. The West Roxbury meet was held at the Hyde Park YMCA, which no one bothered to tell anyone from Lowell. Even the YMCA team bus made a stop at the West Roxbury ‘Y. Thankfully, the Garmin was able to guide us to the Hyde Park ‘Y.

Jennifer did great, even at the 100 yd freestyle which she was dreading. We hope you enjoy the pictures as much as we enjoyed watching her.

100_4719 (960x1280) 100_4745 (960x1280) 100_4744 (960x1280) 100_4743 (960x1280) 100_4742 (960x1280) 100_4741 (1280x960) 100_4740 (960x1280) 100_4739 (960x1280) 100_4738 (960x1280) 100_4737 (960x1280) 100_4736 (960x1280) 100_4735 (960x1280) 100_4734 (960x1280) 100_4733 (960x1280) 100_4732 (960x1280) 100_4731 (960x1280) 100_4730 (960x1280) 100_4729 (960x1280) 100_4728 (960x1280) 100_4727 (960x1280) 100_4726 (960x1280) 100_4725 (960x1280) 100_4723 (1280x960) 100_4722 (1280x960) 100_4721 (1280x960) 100_4720 (1280x960)

Kite flying with friends

George celebrated his birthday today with his friends. Rather than have a party, George decided he really wanted to invite some of his friends for an afternoon flying kites at the beach. Joyce gathered them all into the van, and off they went. Afterwards, they all came back here for a pasta dinner, cake, ice cream and movies for an evening ‘sleep over’.

George has good friends.