Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Superstorm Sandy

Superstorm Sandy is leaving her mark here in North Central Ohio.  It's our first snow of the year!

Over the past week we've received 3+ inches of rain from a cold front then Superstorm Sandy so the land is quite soggy...

The garden looks chilly, but pretty in its own wintry sort of way.

It's also turning into a pond...

The snow is falling again as I write.  After my foray out into the cold, I walked into our home warm with wood heat and festive with the scents of mulling spices.  Feeling lucky here in Ohio...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Smack-On-The-Forehead Event

Have you ever gotten analysis paralysis over a decision and then, seemingly out of nowhere, you get the obvious answer and then smack yourself on the forehead and say, "this things been in front of my nose the entire time!"?

Well, we do. The most recent one was while searching for a car to replace our defunct Subaru Forester. Yeah, we loved the Forester but we really don't need AWD and the MPG's are not where we need them to be, given our work commute. What we really needed was good gas mileage - no - GREAT gas mileage. Ultimately, we found out what we already knew when we started: "it's the Toyota Prius, Stupid". After about 10 minutes in this car we knew it was the one. Incredible gas mileage, legendary quality and reliability and downright cheap to buy, apples-to-apples. Plus we find it fun and sassy!

Did I mention incredible MPG? See below for our data. That's 53.5 MPG on a 96 miles combined city/highway trip. We will double check the computers math on our next trip but we have no reason to believe that it's lying. Our new hobby is hypermiling

Of course we still have our pickup so that we can salvage stuff from other people's trash but now we don't have to drive it for our workday commute. Next step: plug-in Prius retro kit.....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hybrid Sliding Barn Door, Part I

Our little green barn needed more doors and the east side faces the parking area so that's where we decided to cut a hole and hang a couple of salvaged antique doors on a standard track (a "hybrid" door system)...here's how we did it on the cheap:

 We used some salvaged 4x4's to frame the opening:

Here you can see the proposed opening w/extra studs removed. The native timber header (long beam that spans the entire wall) is strong enough to support this opening w/o the addition of a reinforced header - which is great since we didn't have enough head room for that anyway.

We used a saws-all (one of the most useful tools you can own) to cut the rough opening. We can see light from the East!

We now have our rough opening.

We cleaned-up the opening...

...and fastened the edges of the opening to our 4x4's using deck screws.

Here is the completed opening:

Other than deck screws, the only thing we bought for this project was a standard sliding door track and hardware. You can rig up a sliding door with random hardware but we spent a little money where the rubber hits the road (door hits the sliding point) so that we would not have problems with the most important thing: getting the door opened and closed.

We used a salvaged treated 2x8, ripped in half, as the backer for the track and screwed that into the header using long deck screws. We were going to use long bolts to attach the backer board but decided to use deck screws (quicker) since the door is not super heavy.

Now, the door. We got some free antique interior doors for free from a house that was being torn down. Two of these doors, fastened together, create a 60 in wide door: perfect in tandem with out 120 inch track. Since the track is spaced out from the barn surface a bit, we needed to space-out the door as well - which worked out well since we also needed to fasten the doors together anyway and the fasteners ended up serving double duty as the spacers too. We used salvaged 2x4's for nearly all of this process:

After the two doors became one, we attached the wheel hardware and then muscled the whole works onto the track. A little adjustment and it worked great!

View from the inside.

Temporary hardware to keep the wind from blowing the door open:

We got a nice fit to the threshold by building our spacer/splicer to suit:

Wow, we now have a 55 inch door opening on the side facing the parking area - that's going to be handy! Next time - final touches....

Monday, October 8, 2012

2012 Autumnal Equinox Celebration: Dolly Sods Wildnerness, WV

The equinoxes and solstices mark important changes in the earth and its rhythms and it's a time we like to celebrate.  This year to honor the autumnal equinox we met up with our Indiana friends: Paul, Tim & Savannah.  Remember our trip last year?  This year we traveled south to the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia, an area none of us had yet backpacked. 

Excited and ready to go, we headed across the river....

And after steady, steep hiking we reached some expansive views...

and charming lycopodium lining the trail.

 We nestled our tents in close to some rocks...

and discovered a hidden secret!  A black-and-white warbler nest tucked in on the southeast side of this large boulder.  After returning home, Paul identified this nest for us and it struck a note with me, this is what I (Jennifer) wrote back...."FANTASTIC!  Black-and-white warblers are always one of the birds I think of with sadness when I read about forest fragmentation.  SO COOL that we found one of their nests!  Because they are so distinctive, they were the first warbler I learned...at Lindenwood Nature Preserve.  I looked up and saw this incredible black and white striped bird and that began my love for knowing birds other than the regulars.  Gives me hope...this little nest."

Even though we did not see any, black bears are common in Dolly Sods so we made sure to hang our food at night...

and then settled into some thought provoking (hmm) conversation around the campfire.

Dolly Sods is a very unique area.  Here's a description from the U.S. Forest Service: "The 17,371 acre Dolly Sods Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest is part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. It is located in Grant, Randolph and Tucker Counties, West Virginia. The Dolly Sods Wilderness contains much of the Red Creek drainage and contains bog and heath eco-types, more commonly typical to southern Canada. Elevations range from 2,500 to over 4,700 feet."

The area is incredibly beautiful.

which makes for happy hikers!

A red-spotted purple liked the minerals near the stream...

Getting up on a ridge put us in a heath eco-type interspersed with a few bogs, which captured all our hearts I do believe...



The American dagger moth caterpillar found the heath lands to be a good home.

Jennifer could make this home too!

Autumn colors intensified moment by moment it seemed.


 The river gave us such cool, crisp water to drink...

and moments of such beauty and inspiration.

Happy fall blog readers!