Posts Tagged ‘home improvement


Watch this space

Big changes in 3 years. Signs of life in what used to be forest.

Amazing new technology that make it so easy to record the changes to my little plot of land. Who saw that coming? Not me.

But now that it is here and available…. 🙂

I kinda check Google maps every 6 months or so…. but 1 day I found that Jefferson county has a better and more frequently updated aerial. Seems to me like that it is a competition between satellite pictures versus drone pictures, and my vote goes to drone of course…

Which brings me to the point…. with technology like this we are monitored more closely than ever before… Looks like a great way to look for undeclared buildings or unauthorized improvements in outlaying regions.

So is all these advancement really great… hmm….. can we get away with anything anymore?


Home work

Who likes homework? Really, I do. Its what I look forward to for months before I get to do it.

Almost home, flying over the Cascades

Yup, my home work is not an assignment put onto me by anybody else. It literally mean going home and working on my property 🙂 … ya, some kind of vacation… Doug and I could have gone on a cruise, but Port Townsend WA is really where we want to be and improving the property is what we want to do.

Redid our fireplace

Time is short 2 weeks for me… have to back at my desk in NY after that, but Doug gets to stay on and indulge in life back home. Lucky him. Well, so we are zipping across in a plane this time… not train, not driving, not cruising… seeing the Cascades from up above. The Cascades is like the great East West divide to me.

Is that straight?

At the airport, we collected our 2 large checked in bags and 4 carry ons, walked over to the parking garage and took Lyft to a off airport rental car facility. Cost $35 for the ride, but I got a mini van from Hertz for a amazing price of $300 for 2 weeks, tax included. Getting it from the airport would have been $500 at least.

Made it to the cabin just before it got too dark. What a relief that everything is just fine, no break in, no fallen tree on the cabin… our 2 greatest fear for leaving the cabin to fend for itself… Its always good to know that this is a good neighborhood and I have great neighbors.

Not a moment to waste

Not a moment to lose, we head out to Poulsbro the very next day and ordered up my largest Home Depot purchase till date. Lots of 12ft timbers and metal roofing sheets, no way we can load those into the minivan… Since I am paying $79 for delivery, I went overboard and ordered lots of materials for future projects as well.

Garden perimeter

While waiting for the delivery, which unfortunately is 4 days away because that’s when they deliver to PT, we sort out this and that around the property, storage and checked on Calliste at the marina.

And I found this amazing fireplace online and felt that I absolutely need to drive out to Lowes at Port Orchard to get it right away. Finally the minivan paid off, the boxed up package just barely made it into the back. At 250lbs, the guys loaded it with a forklift… now its a challenge for us to get it out and shift into the cabin. Long story how we did it, but the picture tells it all… we did it!

The log condo!

This trip, my 3 projects are to build the garden perimeter, planter boxes and log condo. It is impossible to complete all 3 projects, but we got the perimeter ready for gravel and 1 log condo. Doug can build another 2 log condos in his free time later, all he needed was the sample 🙂 . Started on 1 corner of the planter box… sigh… not enuf for Doug to go on and finish, so it will be something that we have to complete in my next trip home… hopefully in time for the growing season.

Sadly I have to go back to my other life… sigh… I had a awesome vacation being home and working on these projects! Money better spent then my other plan of cruising the Carribean onboard Carnival Cruises.



All in a summers’ work

Alder down. Its a lot of work moving the logs away

Doug been at it all summer long, cutting down trees, clearing it away getting ready for the guys with heavy machinery to come in. Finally I took 2 weeks off in September to check on my lot and get some work done myself.

Wooden boats on display at Point Hudson

But 1st, let us enjoy the annual highlight of the year in Port Townsend. The Wooden Boat Festival fleet is in town at Point Hudson marina, and we have front row seats and parking space by Calliste. We feel so privileged….

Watching the schooner race

After 3 days of watching boats, its back to working on the prop. Only 1 tree that needs to come down was still standing. It was too large for Doug to handle safely, so it will be one for the guys with equipment.

The Hitachi 120 posing with the doomed Hemlock.

And there it goes. No sawing, what a pushover with that Hitachi 120. It wasn’t that easy actually. took some digging and pushing and digging again… cycles, until it finally come down.

Sewers properly installed.

After 1.5 days of pulling stump, levelling the ground and installing the sewerage pipe, I think the RV site is ready for occupancy.

Ta da! My new RV site is ready

Looking good isn’t it? Levelled, log wall by the side and trees in the back. Next year I hope to construct a deck, put up 2 easy chairs, plant a garden.

Sitka tree farm. My own Sitkas!

Meanwhile, on the other side of the log wall  is my little Sitka tree farm. I am honoring my commitment to nature that provided Sitka timber for Calliste bowsprit. I promised to replace this wood. Here are my starts… ordered from Amazon, how amazing that is. I wonder if Amazon sells pot starts too… 🙂 That’s next on my garden plans.

Hurricane ridge.

Man and machine made quick work on my property, leaving us a free day to go up Hurricane Ridge.

View of San Juan de Fuca and Victoria, BC

It was a nice clear day, a bit too chilly for me as I wasn’t dress for the chill winds. But I am glad we came up when we did. Got a great view of Victoria across San Juan de Fuca and tour the little visitor center to learn about the Olympic mountains.

And after a productive and fun vacation, its back to my desk in Malta NY…



Separate summers

Doug’s summer

I am not enjoying the long days and great weather that much this year…. well, I am stuck in upstate NY (yes I am working, and I do enjoy my work), while Doug gets to go enjoy our cabin in the woods. The only consolation is that we are both getting so much done on both ends.

Site marked for container workshop

I hear that 20 trees have come down already, and that we are almost ready for the excavation guys to come pull those stumps and level out the workshop and camp site. Yep, I drew up some plans for a container workshop for us, a outhouse and camping deck that I could rent out to campers to cover property maintenance when I retire again.

My little summer project.

On my end, I’ve been making the dough that pays for the excavators, creating design automation solutions that I so enjoy doing anyway…. Long weekends like this 4th July weekends, I get to revamp my little blog. Yep its time to revisit some of those side panel links and catch up on whats going on around the world… when I work, I ignore the news…

I think better laying down.

And oh BTW, made a little phone holder for Scootz. My very own design, using scrap lumber leftover from the door project. Yep, I wanted to be able to use it standing up or on the side. Definitely on the side is better, IMO. The rubber coated wire tie is to hold it down so that it don’t flop out when I jump on the brakes or turn a hard corner too fast…


Setting up a rental in upstate NY

Thats my corner. All those windows above the 3 garages are my new space.

Thats my corner. All those windows above the 3 garages are part of my new space.

We will be in NY for a while… few years I think. Immediately, we need a place to stay. Being new to the area, and not really committed to being here for long, we look to rent and not to buy.

Moving in today. Nothing to put my stuff on.

Moving in today. Nowhere to put my stuff on.

Ok, so I visited 6 managed communities and chose a rather high end 1 bedroom apartment with the usual facilities. Yes, I want to be comfy and not to worry about maintenance or digging Fordie out of the snow or clearing the driveway. I want to just furnish it, move in and go to work, in that sequence preferably….

IKEA delivery was here.

IKEA delivery was here.

But it was not to be…. we moved in, ordered the furniture, go to work and complete the furnishing over 3 weeks. At least the mattress and bedding came within 1 day, the 1st night that we moved in. As for whatever we need in the kitchen, Walmart is only 10 miles away.

Altho cheap desk and shelves are available at Walmart, we hated how it look and feel so much that we rather eat on our laps and sitting on those crates.

Contemporary and comfy to me.

Contemporary and comfy to me.

I did check out the local furnishing stores, and find that did not suit me. Did I want to drive 3hrs to IKEA in NY? And rent a Uhaul trailer to bring back those IKEA boxes? Nah. IKEA has been really good to me for over 20 years. I have always been able to furnish my space with everything IKEA, it got so comfortable to me that I could just order online and know exactly what I will get and everything is exactly as describe. I never realize how much I have come to trust and rely on a business! :O

A doorway to close off the stairway in the plans.

A doorway to close off the stairway in the plans.

I could have saved $300 by renting a trailer and driving to NY, and gotten my furniture sooner. But nah, I paid the flat fee $380 for delivery which includes the guys bringing up every box to the 2nd level. Phew! I am glad we didnt have to do that ourselves. Assembly was back breaking enuf. By the time we finished, we were already living in the apartment for 3 weeks.

Doorway in the works.

Doorway in the works.

Our shipment from PT arrive just after 2 weeks and that was a good thing, cos we needed some tools. After a full month here, we are all comfy and now shift into a home improvement mode. Things like adding roller shades, adding shelves and even constructing a doorway to keep the heat in our living space.

Doorway DONE

Doorway DONE

And by golly, am I not smart! I designed the doorway without a single screw into the walls. See, I am not sure if we are staying here for more than the 1 year lease arrangement, so I want to have the least patching possible.

Pretty good eh?


Working on the driveway

Getting the blocks via my own means.

Getting the blocks via my own means. Driveway 2 low spot only needs to rise 8″. Extra blocks stored on top of the row for now.

Better get in that gravel driveway before the next rainy winter season, otherwise I be sliding all over again after the 1st day of rain, just like I did all of last winter.

Low spot on driveway 1

Low spot on driveway 1, lower end on left will be raised 2 blocks and only 1 block on right.

Here’s the plan, roughly, fill the low spot on driveway 1 to about 2 blocks high, that’s 16″. And driveway 2 only needs 1 block high, so that’s only 8″ and a smaller area.

Gravel delivered by the pros.

Gravel delivered by the so called pros.

Well, I could’ve $2000 on having it done by the contractor for just 1 driveway, instead I set a budget of $1000 for 2 driveways and a parking lot. Sure it meant a lot of menial do it yourself… and of course it meant lots of trips to get the materials that I can haul on the trailer… and sure it will exceed my budget, but it wont be more than $2000 and I would have gotten a lot more done with that money.

Cute little kitty keeping me company while I work

Cute little kitty keeping me company while I work

Ok, so what I did buy is 2 pallets of cinder blocks. That is 150 blocks at $1.30 each. When you buy by the pallet, you get a bulk discount at Home Depot :).

3" minus basalt

3″ minus basalt at car park. Notice how its a mix of big rocks to fine gravelly sand.

I could only tow half the pallet or 40 blocks at a time, so I had to make 4 trips to get them all. Still the savings was well worth the gas, maybe not the time. Getting the blocks from the place across the street will cost $2.20 each. Plus I get other stuff too. Like 6 bags of concrete mix, and planks for the camper that I am still building, and I get to stop at Walmart next door to get cheap food and stuff. … well, I make a trip every week anyway just for fun and Home Depot doesn’t limit how soon I must get them all 🙂 I like the Poulsbro HD best. Most friendly and accommodating people 🙂 , and they help me load block by block :).

Driveway 1 open to vehicles, and we used it immediately.

Driveway 1 open to vehicles, and we used it immediately.

Then its up to me to unload and arrange them. I am making a gravel retaining wall for over the low spot at the entrance…. I thought that it would be really expensive to use gravel to fill up a whole 20′ by 40′ by 16″, hence using the blocks to define 12.5′ by 40′. The driveway itself would be 120′, but its only the low spot that would gobble up the bulk of the gravel if I don’t try to contain it.

Driveway 1 leading towards RV tenant area.

Driveway 1 leading towards RV tenant area just after 2nd dump. Will look even better after I spread it out.

Anyway, I took my own sweet time… like 2 months to set the cinder blocks… it was a lot of work building up a leveled base of sand, and btw I was building a camper shell and digging up 2 stumps at the same time. I started months ahead of the rainy season, so I had plenty of time to do other things as well 🙂

Looking in at driveway 1. Its done!

Looking in at driveway 1. Its done!

When it was time, I ordered 20 yards of 3″ minus basalt, 10 yards 2″ – 4″ basalt clean and 10 yards 3/4″ minus. Nope, I couldn’t haul rocks, Fordie could probably pull 1.5 yards at most. So I got a dump truck company to do it, but they send out a lousy driver for my job…. His dump was so horrible that it completely closed driveway. Even the driver knew how bad he did, offered to charge 12.5% less… which was $68 savings, but was 8hrs of extra back breaking work for me. Doug help for the critical 1st 4hrs to get the driveway open, after that it was me on my own again.

Driveway 2 is done too!

Driveway 2 is done too!

After 1 week of straightening out the 1st 40 yards, I order the next 20 yards of 1 1/4″ granite from a different company with their own dump truck driver. So I used the larger and cheaper basalt (costlier transport) as the base, and granite for the topping layer.

And I must say I am so happy with the dump by the 2nd company. It was almost perfect. Just 3 hrs of light shoveling and raking, driveway 1 topping layer was spread nicely. Another 3hrs on driveway 2, and my own sweet time on the car park at the cabin.

So a total of 60 yards is what I got, and it leveled both driveways beautifully, made a small berm on each one, levelled a car park/turnaround at the cabin, for a total cost of $1400 (60 yards gravel + transport) and $300 (2 pallets cinder blocks + 6 bags 60lbs concrete mix). Seems like I am still ahead monetary wise, but what a lot of work that was! Apparently, if it was all done by my usual contractor, it would have been $4000 altogether, but it would have been done in 2 days max.



Visitor from way back

A nice photo of us in Fordie

A nice photo of us in Fordie

I am so excited to have my 1st visitor from the orient on my property 🙂 In a way, I am wanting to hear feedback on the 2 lives that I lead, that are so contrasting … one as a city dweller and the other being so out in the sticks.

Pretty good selfie I think.

Pretty good selfie I think.

So I am overly eager to please my dear friend Limei, who has made that long journey from Singapore, who has to overcome transport difficulties to get from Seattle to Port Townsend, to visit me.

Tada.... the cabin shall be your abode for a night.

Tada…. the cabin shall be your abode for a night.

Day 1, drive 30 miles to pick up Limei from the Kingston ferry terminal at about noon. She managed to persuade her friend and host in Seattle, Karen to drop her off at Edmonds where she gets on the ferry as a foot passenger for $8.20, so it was not too much of a commute for her after all. 🙂

Alder wood BBQ.

Alder wood BBQ.


Comfy new plastic Adirondacks

It was a Saturday in early summer, so it was busy touristy in the town of Port Townsend. Parking was quite difficult to get, but we did get one that was near to the NW Maritime Center. Did a 2 hr tour of ye olde Victorian town of Port Townsend. Yep, everything seem more pricey in quaint little towns, so we just enjoyed the browsing 🙂

Then was time to introduce the Cedar girl to the Cedar tree… and rustic living on my little land, where we still hand split our firewood and heat up our space with the slight fragrance of burning Alder.

Where it is so easy to cook outdoors with a fully loaded Alder wood BBQ for that added smoky flavor. Yes, YUMMY! I am happy that she agrees.

The new funvinyldecals workshop

The new funvinyldecals workshop

And it was a nice evening out, hasnt been raining so the ground is dry and nice. Sun set at 9pm these days, but it does still get chilly as it gets darker. We sat out eating our BBQ on my new green plastic Adirondeck chairs:) Bought just for this occasion 🙂

When it got too chilly, we went into the cosy Alder heated cabin, and chatted till we fell asleep. Good old days.

New friends in Seattle

New friends in Seattle

Day 2, visit to the new funvinyldecals workshop. Ok, so we converted the 20ft container that I bought for shipping Eleanor in 2014 into a office for Doug and sticker cutting shop for me. Of course I had to run the laptop and demo the cutting machine. In the end, she was loaded up with stickers as souvenirs for her visit.

Then it was time to send her back to her friends in Seattle. We drove on the scenic route down to Olympia and up to Shoreline. Who would have thought the traffic would be really bad on a Sunday afternoon? Oh well, it was good company so time passes quickly. Anyway, I hung out with the interesting new people and didnt get back till the next day 🙂 . Indulgent live of a retiree 🙂 Thank God for no schedules.



Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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