Monday, July 04, 2016

Y.M.C.A

Lately, we have been utilizing our membership fairly extensively.



Tristan and Kassi are reasonable swimmers, easily passing the "deep-end" test. Toly can pass the test but struggles because he is one of those sinking people--no body fat and dense bones. Rome has just started swimming with complete confidence. He ventures into the deeper side of the shallow end (over his head) and easily swims back to where he can stand, head out. He can do three underwater back-summersaults in a row. Georgi is just starting her swimming career. She loves it, she clings like a monkey riding me like I'm a dolphin. She also will allow me to hold her nose and take her "down there" under water. She is so confident that she'll lay her head back while I support her, just exposing her face above the water.

The Berkeley Y.M.C.A is an awesome place. They have three pools. Family swim is in "Grace's pool" the one with the deep end.

Tabitha and Tristan plan to take swimming lessons to learn to lap-swim. I love lap-swimming. It would be a great way for both of them to get no-impact exercise.

Friday, June 24, 2016

I.M.H.O. We currently own the best cat ever.

Warning, cat story ahead...

Kosmos aka. Cosmos was a feral stray adopted as a skinny kitten by Kassiopeia's best friend. Literal skin and bones living on the streets of Alameda. They took him in and got all his medical necessities sorted. They saved his life by feeding him high a protien/fat diet. Cosmos' family had to move to Hawaii. The long quarantine required for all animals emigrating to Hawaii wasn't humane to a recovering kitten.

Kassiopeia's best friend was hugely upset having to give up her kitten. The only consolation would be that Kassiopeia adopt Cosmos. I relented, cat allergies and all. Well, Kosmos was renamed with a "K", an important letter around here. I consoled myself that He is a Russian-Blue and allegedly hypo-allergenic--loud sounds of feet dragging.

As animals go I appreciate the practical over emotional. We continued his strict diet and finally got him up to a healthy weight. He grew and grew. He was always aloof but would greet me when I woke and came home. He's weird like that. Also, he seemed super smart, a little too smart, opening closed doors and the like. I liked him, he exhibited strong signs of being a natural hunter and I am not allergic to him.

Then the hunting started in earnest. He has killed several animals. One of them was an obviously offensive song-bird. Nonetheless, he started killing rats. Rats are the scourge of Berkeley gardeners and orchard owners. Both of which we aspire. Berkeley has rat super-highways of bamboo and ivy along dividing fences.

We also have chickens which bring the rats from blocks around. Allegedly, our neighbor's house was also inhabited by a few rats. So a few weeks ago, I heard what sounded like cats fighting in the middle of the night. Kosmos is a muscly, big cat so I wasn't too worried about the outcome. In the morning there was a huge dead rat sitting in the backyard on the trash can lid--good kitty.



A week later he killed a juvenile rat and left it in Georgiana's dolly wagon--pretty good kitty. The following morning there were two more juvenile rats DEAD just outside the back door.


All the neighbors love him and sing his praises. He has left them little prizes too.

As I write, as if he knew, he just scared the crap outta the kids because he brought a barely alive rat into the house chasing it around. Everyone was yelling "DAD KOSMOS HAS A RAT IN THE HOUSE" I said just tell him to take it outside. He did.

Good kitty


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

To all my fellow patresfamilias, Happy Father's day

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Kitchen plumbing II - Hieronymous Bosch

In this photo most of the kitchen plumbing is done, the tile is just grouted and the sink is full of dishes. Outlet covers are waiting for grout to dry. Things are really looking good--almost like a dream kitchen.
 Meet Hieronymus or Iroh for short--the benevolent grandfather fire-bender from Avatar--the last air-bender. OR Hieronymus Bosch the artist. Iroh is a convection oven with all the bells and whistles; dough proofing, temp probe and fancy lights that fade on when you open the door. Kassiopeia is an avid baker and we all know that Tabitha is an excellent baker also. Iroh should get run through his paces for many years to come.
 Here Kassiopeia is making a sandwich.
 Here I am standing on the counter and taking a work call, NOT technical support for the range hood--Matt. Tabitha named the range hood Winston.
 Meet Katara she is doing some water-bending to fill a pot to boil eggs. When I first installed Katara she leaked at the "O"-ring wall connection. I called Signature Hardware and they were awesome. They sent me new o-rings and were just as helpful and articulate as could possibly be.
 Here Tabitha has moved in. Notice the old-timey speaker? I wired the kitchen for sound. It is magisterial listening to music in the kitchen while cooking and cleaning. The old-timey Harman Kardon tuner sits atop of the fridge. I also bought a $14 Bluetooth adapter that lets me play Pandora from my phone while sitting on the charger at the USB outlet on the counter--"..modern conveniences William"*.
 Coffee anyone? One of the nicest "first-world" conveniences we are enjoying is the instant-scalding water dispenser. Instant Tea, filling water bottles for sick people with the chills and I use it to pre-fill the espresso coffee makers nearly instant coffee in the morning--YES.
 Here are the reasons we bought the extra pricey IKEA cabinets--lighted drawers, and perfectly fitting bamboo organizers for silverware.
 Having lived in our new kitchen for a few weeks I am extremely happy with it. We are still figuring things out but it is glorious.

*Bill and Teds excellent Adventure

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Kitchen Plumbing

The kitchen faucet resting in its future home--the tile backsplash isn't done yet. We bought our faucet and pot-filler from Signature Hardware. They are awesome, their customer service is exactly what you want when buying a product that you expect to last your lifetime--made in USA.
Gigi decided to "help" me plumb the drain from the sink.
She is too cute.
"I loves yous da-da--what every father wants to hear.
Here I'm adjusting the height of "fritz" the dishwasher. Yes, we are those-people, we give names to everything. Naming kitchen appliances started way back during our preparation to move to Missouri. The Wedgewood stove we bought was named Hubert by urban ore--they name all their antique stoves for sale. Tristan named our old dishwasher Fred, we wore Fred out. Luckily we bought a four year extended warranty and qualified for complete reimbursement toward a new dishwasher. We upgraded to German engineering and this one got a German version of Fred--Fritz.


  • Dishwasher = Fritz
  • Wedgewood Stove = Merrick
  • Wall Oven = Hieronymus
  • Pot-filler = Katara
  • Range-hood = Winston
  • Fridge = Sam



Saturday, June 11, 2016

Presidential cutting table

 A friend from church was moving and gave us this awesome butcher block cutting table a couple of years ago. We love it, after we first got it Rome took a butcher knife and chopped it up on the edge. I was upset at the time. The mars were along the edge and we just left them. I always knew that I'd sand them out. Eventually, the table collected more "character" this is when we completely fell in love with butcher block as a working surface.
 While we were designing our kitchen this table was always the centerpiece. It has a tag on it somewhere that claims it a replica from the WhiteHouse kitchen. As the completion of the kitchen came to a close we took it outside and I sanded out the 1/4" chop marks on the edge and Tabitha oiled it with special butcher block oil. I also repaired the loose slats across the bottom.
Here it is moved into its final resting place. The washtub sink just behind it was only employed for a few more days after this photo. It was retired almost the moment the new farmhouse sink was deemed working. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Subway Tile 9' by 9' wall

I have had very limited tiling experience. Sadly one of my attempts was a dismal failure, our bathroom in Missouri. I had to tear it all up and re-do it. 
I went to the ever reliable Youtube to try to glean some necessary skills and tricks. After watching many videos on tiling. I stumbled upon the holy grail of videos. This is a time lapse video of this guy installing a bunch of subway tile. (awesome video). Armed with my new information I set about my work.
I started behind the stove as to hide the usual initial mistakes.
Only one small mistake on the lower left.
Onto the visible courses. Stagger guidelines helped with the offset. Horizontal lines on the wall helped keep things level and straight. 
Tiling to the edge got a bit tricky. Bullnose ends made a nice edge.
I used these wonderful little wedges instead of the usual tile spacers. I blue-taped the corners to keep them secure. 
Luckily I borrowed a tile saw from a co-worker. I have since been informed that the Berkeley Public tool lending Library has tile saws for loan. 

I used thin-set to set the tile. This was a first for me. It IS the right technology. Also, we used a latex based grout. I will never use any other type of grout, albeit 10x expensive. 






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