Attic work

Working in an attic is not my favorite thing to do, but there are things up there that need doing.

The first was to build a walkway so I can blow in insulation. The next was to install our whole-house fan, formerly known as an attic fan. This is it, just to the left of the walkway.


It’s supposed to be much quieter than the old-fashioned fans like the one we have in our current house. The gray rectangle on top is insulated doors that open to let two smallish fans suck air from the house and blow it into the attic. The weather for the last few weeks has been ideal for using an attic fan. We look forward to having one that’s quiet enough to leave on overnight.

There is about six feet of headroom from the top of the ceiling joists to the ridge beam, but  there is about two feet less on the walkway. That means I have to stoop to make my way deep into the recesses of the attic, which I had to do Tuesday.

In the photo below, far, far in the right hand distance, out near the edge of the roof, there is a metal chimney coming through the ceiling and then continuing through the roof.


I had to put pieces of plywood across the joists to get out there. So I went from stooping in the middle of the attic to hands-and-knees just over the shiny duct you can see, and then to a crawl as I approached the chimney. The chimney is insulated but there is a requirement to keep attic insulation at least two inches from it. There was a pass-through fitting at the ceiling level that provided that space to about six inches in height, but I need to keep 16 inches of blown-in cellulose away. So I fabricated a sheet-metal shield and installed it to bring the protection up to the required level. It sounds easier than it was.

The shiny, round duct is supposed to take warm air from the ceiling over the wood-burning stove and carry it to our bedroom. The vertical sticks are for measuring insulation depth. The lower line at the top is 16 inches. The upper line is 18. When I blow the insulation in, it should all be between those two marks.

The weather has been pretty good lately. The nights have been cool and the days not too warm. That has been good for working in an attic. Tuesday, however, it was in the lower 80’s and sunny. That meant the attic was hot. I don’t know how hot it was, but when I came down the ladder to 80 degrees in the house, it felt comfortably cool.

This is me just after I finished installing the insulation shield.


Fortunately for you, you can’t tell how sweaty I was.

Everything went well Tuesday. That means mainly that I didn’t step through the sheetrock and fall to the floor below. It wouldn’t have been too big a surprise if I had. I seem to have a little problem with falling lately. First I kicked the ladder out from under me and had to drop from the ceiling joists to the garage floor, hurting my shoulder in the process. Then, after my shoulder had recovered to the point that I could work, I fell again. That time I was unloading a sheet of 3/4-inch plywood from my truck. I managed to unload it onto my foot which told me that it was pretty heavy. In the process of getting it off my foot, I stumbled and fell against the garage door frame. I hurt my shoulder again, but not enough to keep me from working. And then on Sunday while I was unloading garbage at the county transfer station, I tripped over a parking lot tire bumper and went down on both hands and my right knee. Now I feel a little more of a twinge in my shoulder, but my knee took the brunt of the fall. It’s stiff and sore.

I’m beginning to wonder about myself.

I mentioned the garage. I think we’re going to be really happy with the garage. I picked up our hardwood flooring on Monday and parked it there.


That’s about 3000 pounds of hardwood, which is as heavy a load as the trailer can handle. Even with the trailer backed in, I could pull the truck in far enough to shade the cab. Our Subaru is going to feel lost in there.

The tile is stacked outside the garage and the mortar and underlayment are just out of sight to the lower right of the photo. The tile installer is supposed to start next Monday or Tuesday. The hardwood installer is supposed to start a week later. In the meantime I hope to get electrical power to the house and the air conditioner working so that I can move the hardwood in and let it start to acclimatize.

Sunsets and sopapillas

As I mentioned in a previous post, Wednesday was my birthday. We had huevos rancheros and, as usual, when Leah told them it was my birthday, they brought out a birthday sopapilla.


It was rather large, although that’s hard to tell from the photo. Leah had just a little taste, so I had to eat the rest of it. Poor me.

Later on Wednesday evening as we drove home down Huffaker Road, nature gave us another sunset. As usual, we could see it only in little patches. This was the best shot I could get.


The colored clouds stretched halfway around the horizon, but we couldn’t see all of it at once at any one place.

If we look off to the east from our new house, we can see Mount Alto, from which, if you look to the west, you can see Lavender Mountain and our house. And also the sunset. I told Leah we should finish our new house, sell it and then build on Mount Alto. She thought that was pretty funny.

We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary tonight. It was not much of a celebration. We exchanged cards in the morning, and for at least the second time, we got each other the exact, same card. I had to (or got to) do a few hours of work for the company I used to work for, which, thank goodness, I could do right here at home. Then we went out to eat for dinner. Sunset on the way home was hidden behind thick, gray clouds, so no photos of that.

I’m not sure how many people read this poor, little blog, but I wanted to thank anyone who does. When I read the blogs that I read every day (I hope if any of their authors are reading this, they know that I do read them), even though I don’t really know any of you all, I feel like it’s a conversation between good neighbors leaning on our common fence. I appreciate comments, since otherwise it can feel like shouting into an empty stadium, and I try to reply to every one. Sometimes I miss a comment, but rest assured, I read them all.

Bullies and bullied, and an anniversary

It’s the same old story. The cats never get tired of it, but we sure do.

Here are the two cat bullies, Sylvester and Smokey, hanging out in front of the garage, probably planning their attack.


And here are their targets, Dusty and Chloe.


Chloe is almost hidden behind some of the liriope.

I’m a little embarrassed by the first shot. It shows a lot of trashy junk, including a load of scrap metal I plan to take to the scrap yard, a cooler and a bucket with some vinca that I plan to take up to the new house. The two propane tanks are headed for the scrap yard, too. I filled them with water and cut them open to make them safe. There’s also a trap we use to relocate possums and the occasional raccoon.

We really aren’t that trashy, although we sometimes look like it.

Today, May 20, is our 11th anniversary, both of being married and of living in our current house. It’s hard for me to remember not being married.

We’re going to a party party

The first time I drove out West was early in 1971. I went with my high school friend in the 1966 Buick Special convertible I drove at that time. We drove as directly as we could, which was basically, go north to I-40, turn left and keep going. When we got to New Mexico, parts of I-40 were unfinished, and traffic was dumped onto the old highway.


Route 66 is a historic highway these days, sometimes a local road and sometimes completely abandoned. It’s mostly kept around out of nostalgia but not much use for anything practical.


And, speaking of that, today is my birthday. We’re not really going to a party party. Our plan is to go to Los Portales, our Mexican restaurant of first choice, for huevos rancheros. It’s our normal practice to have huevos rancheros for lunch on Wednesdays. We have been doing it for long enough that the waitress doesn’t bother giving us a menu and usually brings out our drinks without our having to order. She brings one sweet iced tee, one unsweet, lemons, a bowl of regular salsa and one of ranchera sauce. Then she asks, “The regular?” And we, of course, say, “Yes. Suave, please.” That ensures the yolks are soft and runny.

If we happen to mention that it’s Leah’s birthday in March, or mine in May, they usually bring a complimentary sopapilla in the Eastern style (a flat toasted tortilla with sugar and cinnamon, topped with ice cream and whipped cream — not the puffy New Mexico style eaten in one hand with a squeeze bottle of honey in the other hand).

Back when I was younger, in my 30’s and early 40’s, I didn’t expect to live past 50. It wasn’t that I was in poor health or anything like that, it was just that I thought of myself as a young(ish) person. A young person is not 50 years old, so I couldn’t be 50 years old. I have since figured out that no one actually is a young person. They may be at a young age, but they’re only passing through; age is not a destination.

I see it kind of like we’re all falling from the top floor of a very tall building. As we age, we pass lower and lower floors. So as someone passes the 20th floor, it’s ridiculous for someone who’s just now passing the 99th floor to look at him and say, “Ha ha! Look at the old guy. He’s almost reached the ground now.” We’re all headed towards the same end.

So now I find myself at an older age, an age that I thought of at one time not as “older” but as flat-out old. People older than me probably think, “Why, that young whippersnapper, he thinks he’s old. He’s not old. I’m older than him, and I’m certainly not old!” Just like I do when someone turns 30 (or 40, or 50, or even 60 …) and moans about getting old.

My body is old. My knees are bad (Bad knees! Bad!). My shoulder is bad (Bad stepladder! Bad!). My eyes are kind of bad, bad enough that I need reading glasses and a little bit of long-distance correction, although I can read highway signs without glasses, not to mention the writing on the wall.

But I’m not old. The me that’s looking out through my somewhat bad eyes remains pretty much the same me as it ever was. Maybe a little wiser. Probably not much, but enough so that when I look back on some of the things I did or said at a younger age, I cringe.

What idiots young people can be. I’m glad I’m not one of them.


Our two dwarf gardenia plants are starting to bloom. Gardenia was my mother’s favorite scent. I suppose it’s probably pretty old-fashioned these days, but the real thing is nice.


The amazing thing is how many buds there are. There are hundreds of unopened blooms.


It looks like there are more buds than leaves.

They won’t all open at the same time, but if they did … that would be a sight.