Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

A delay… sort of.

We got an official excavation timeframe from our builder. It’s not “NOW,” so we’re a little disappointed, but it’s for the best. With the holiday weeks coming up, it wouldn’t make sense to do all the excavation and then have big holes sitting empty, freezing, and/or filling up with rain and snow waiting to be filled with concrete after everyone is done with their eggnog. So our breaking ground timeframe will be the first or second week in January. This time, however, it’s an official timeframe from the builder, not one of our wishful or speculative timeframes.

And that’s really only about two and a half or three weeks away. After planning for six months, I think we can wait another couple weeks.

We don’t want to, but we can.

Ready to dig…

This morning, we closed on our construction loan. That means that we’re ready to dig. Well, at least I’m ready to dig. The excavator might be ready in a couple days.

Ready to dig!

What the permit means…

So this is hanging in our window now.

Our building permit

In case that doesn’t show up well on your monitor, the project description says, "Full home remodel, 2 additions, Deck, Detached Garage + Enlarge Driveway." To quote George Carlin (from a really obscure episode of his short-lived television show), "That seems like a lot."

And it is. So what follows is a visual depiction of the changes that are about to occur.

This picture…

Our current house

…is our house as it was on Thanksgiving morning (it’s the same now, too, but without the snow). It’s a little three-bedroom rancher with a two-car garage and a walk-out basement (the door’s around back). There’s some attic space, but it’s the kind where you have to crouch down and walk like a duck to avoid impaling your head on the points of old roofing nails.

Here’s the computer rendering from the architect of what our house will look like when we’re done. It’s moderately close to the same angle as the above picture.

Our future house

You can’t see the deck on the back or the detached garage (which will be off to the left), but you can pretty easily see the "full home remodel" and the two additions and the enlarged driveway. If the angles were a bit closer in the pictures, I could overlay the current house onto the rendering, but you can use your imagination to see that the current house fits snugly right in the center of the rendering. The front doors would align.

So… tick-tock. We’re counting the days to ground-breaking day which should be about the middle of next week. From that point on, we’ll be surrounded by mud for the foreseeable future. Hooray. Mud.

No, really. Hooray, mud!

The Moving Saga

The old place

Way back in February of this year (2014, for those of you reading this in the distant future), Lori had started thinking that she might like to move somewhere with a bit more space than what we currently had. A little more land. A little more storage. Just a little more room in general. She had had to commandeer my library for a Pampered Chef work room and our two-car garage hadn’t been able to house two cars for over fifteen years. With the kayaks, it barely contained her little Scion xB, anymore.

So we went off house shopping. We hadn’t really made a decision to move, but it couldn’t hurt to see what was out there, right? We looked at a nice nine-acre farm with a pond and a bank barn, an eight-acre property with a very stately house (from the outside), and a lot of smaller properties with nice houses that just weren’t… right.

We finally made the decision to actually make the move because we really needed to have a contract on our house before anyone would take an offer on a house we wanted to buy. So we got our house all staged for sale and put it on the market in May. Thanks to exceptionally good advice from our real estate agent (thanks Pat Manalli!) and Lori’s hard work getting the house ready for showings, we got a full-price offer in two weeks. The offer we accepted had a June 20th closing date… and we had nowhere to go.

The new place We put offers in on the two multi-acre properties I mentioned earlier, but we got out-bid on one and rejected on the other. In the mean time, Lori had noticed that this property (where we are now) was for sale and both of us had, for years, driven by it and made comments about how nice it was. It’s a nice corner lot on a back road with about an acre and a quarter. Woods on one side and nice neighbors (behind a tree line) on the other help make it a great location. The only problem was that it was a tiny ranch-style house, which didn’t exactly match up with our plan to upsize our living arrangements.

However, Lori went to the township building and asked whether the house could be expanded. With the help of the township guy, she found that there was a ton of expansion potential, so we got our agent to schedule a viewing the same day, went through the place, and decided to make an offer then and there… with a June 20th closing date (which was now only three weeks away!). We expected to get a good response on our full-price offer, but rejected on the exceptionally close closing date. To our surprise, the offer got accepted on both counts. We had somewhere to move!

Before we even moved out of our old house, we met with a builder (Co-Del Construction) to discuss expansion plans and that started the whole remodeling ball rolling. Now, finally, we’ve got finalized plans, finalized financing, and finalized building contracts. We should be starting our mega-project in less than a week and it will take about nine or ten months to complete… while we’re still living here.

Let the chaos begin!

First snow in our new place

The day before Thanksgiving, we got blanketed with the first snow since our move. I thought I’d capture it on camera because it certainly won’t look this way when it snows next year!

First snow in our new place

Paddling Pals

These guys paddled along with a friend and me today on our kayaking outing. I’m pretty sure they were begging.

Paddling Pals

The Glenn Beck Tactic *

How to get away with saying something crazy - Cyanide and Happiness

* not used exclusively by Glenn Beck

(h/t Cyanide and Happiness)

Roasted Red Peppers…

…stuffed with onions, bacon, cheese, and some sourdough break cubes, then roasted in a small foil pan covered with foil on my Holland Grill. This tasted phenomenal! It turned out way better than I expected.

Roasted red peppers stuffed with bacon, cheese, and onions

Of all the things to complain about…

Diner PlacematLori and I went to a diner in York yesterday that neither of us had been to, but has been around for upwards of 20 years, I think. The decor was in the classic “70’s American Truck stop” style with potted plastic plants hanging from macramé holders, hanging lights of yellowed glass, and paper placemats covered with ads for local businesses. The wait staff was mostly comprised of retirement-age women who had seemingly lost the ability to smile or to speak with any kind of inflection. The food was average; not bad, not great. I wondered how a place like this could stay in business for as long as it has.

Looking around at the other patrons, I noticed that the average age was probably somewhere between 70 – 90 and, like the wait staff, the clientele was comprised of folks who were unsmiling and joyless.

What made the visit noteworthy for me, however, despite all this bland and lifeless mediocrity, was an elderly couple who came in and sat in a booth next to us. The man was wearing a polo shirt, shorts, and sneakers… with the classic calf-length black socks. He seemed to be particularly grumpy and after looking over the menu, he put it aside and started perusing the ad-covered placemat. After about 20-30 seconds of that, he said to his wife, “I wish they’d get new placemats in here.”

I think the guy may have been in a rut.

Finally!

After a 5-week hiatus while moving and settling into our new place, I finally got out on the water today for some paddling. I was lucky enough to convince Megan to come along with me.  Here’s her “I love kayaking ” face, along with a couple other pictures.

Megan's "I love kayaking" face

Megan’s “I love kayaking” face

Rare photographic evidence of me in a kayak

Rare photographic evidence of me in a kayak

Beautiful day for kayaking!

Beautiful day for kayaking!

Another win by John E. Jones III

Equal RightsJudge John E. Jones III ruled today that the Pennsylvania ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. Judge Jones is the same judge that ruled in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover case in 2005, scoring a big point for science standards, shutting down the attempt to push "Intelligent Design" into the Dover School District’s science curriculum.

This time, instead of protecting science, Judge Jones protected equal rights, saying of the Pennsylvania ban on same-sex marriages, "We are a better people than what these laws represent. It is time to discard them into the ash heap of history."

Governor Tom Corbett can appeal the ruling (and probably will), but it’s doubtful that will accomplish anything other than rallying the backward-minded members of his political base and wasting time and money.

What Gov. Corbett should do, however, is leave well enough alone. Pennsylvania is (was?) the last northeastern state to disallow same-sex marriages. It’s sad and embarrassing. It’s well past time for Pennsylvania to leave the bigotry behind and stand up for equal rights. As Judge Jones stated, the term "same-sex marriage" will be abandoned in favor of "marriage" someday.

Let’s make that day today.

A bit of a current…

I went kayaking on Lake Clarke today (on the Susquehanna River just above the Safe Harbor dam). The dam must have been releasing a lot of water because there was more current on that section of river than I’ve ever seen (as the buoy picture shows!). I was surprised at the speed but it didn’t really affect my paddling very much.

It did make going downriver a bit easier, though.

Current!