Sunday, June 25, 2017

I love food (and this is why I run!)

I am not sure if I have so many photos of food because I am blogging (and I want to have pictures to post), because we eat out frequently, or because Spousal Unit is such a good cook and I love to document his masterpieces.  In any event, I think it is time to get some of these wonderful pictures into the public domain.  I am salivating even as I think about it!

Since we moved to Montana, we have been searching out new restaurants.  We especially enjoy venues that have outside dining.  One such find is the 406 Bar and Grill in Kalispell.  In addition to the fine patio, they have an eclectic food and martini menu.  What's not to like?

The next few pictures are from the kitchen of Spousal Unit.  Since retirement, I will offer recipe ideas from Pinterest, and he will execute the ones he likes.  Case in point: (left) Egg and Cheese Hash Brown Waffles and (below) Zuppa Toscana.  Of course, everything tastes better when eaten outside with a cup of fresh coffee!

Breakfast Burrito a la Spousal Unit
Other delectables, such as the burrito, are purely his creation.

Zuppa Toscana (recipe from Pinterest)

We are currently on holiday in the UK (visiting my in-laws and hosting my sister and her husband), and our visits here are never complete without sampling the wares of the local pubs.  And sample we have!  (When I was younger, I always heard that food in the UK is bland.  Clearly, people must have been visiting another country!)

Can you tell that we like pies (the savory kind?)

We have been enjoying the great British past-time of walking (hiking) with my sister and her husband; the public footpath system in the UK offers an unparalleled opportunity to see the countryside.  My sister's phone tracks the number of steps and elevation gain (in the form of flights of stairs) that she does each day.  Our record walking day culminated in 26,101 steps: 11.2 miles and 22 floors.  I think we earned our food each day - what do you say?

Back at home, we had been aching to try out the Kila Pub (yes, another pub - but this one's in Kila, Montana), and we finally had our chance a few weeks ago.  (It is the closest restaurant to our future home and we want to give it a lot of support to ensure its ongoing existence.)  And we were not disappointed.  The food and the drinks and the VIEW were all tailor made for a Friday afternoon!

As you may have figured out, these delicious dishes are (mostly) timed for days when we are going hiking/have been hiking and we can afford the calorie count.  If that is not the case, I will work in a 6-mile run.  The delight of the eating is worth the effort of the workout!

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Sunday, June 18, 2017

For the love of a cat (who doubles as Houdini)

Miss Maggie
Since arriving at our new home in Whitefish, we have had a child gate installed on the stairs to keep the cats from going into the carpeted areas of the house.  (For those of you who have been reading this blog since its inception, you will know that we have two cats – Maggie, a 16-year old veteran who lords it over Josie, 2 years her junior.  Maggie persists with her dominance despite her advanced age and an obvious hitch in one of her hips.)  The gate is partly for our benefit (avoids the necessity to clean cat puke and other secretions from the carpet) and partly for Maggie’s benefit – we don’t think it’s good for her hips to use the stairs, and she is already at a low weight. 

Miss Josie

Despite the gate, we have discovered Josie upstairs numerous times.  It was a question for the ages.  Was she jumping the gate?  Squeezing through it?  Bumping the gate until the spring released? 

While puzzling over this, it occurred to us that maybe she was feeling restricted and bored.  (It should be noted that we were also finding litter on the black kitchen countertops each morning – she was clearly jumping up on them at night to get to higher ground.)  So, we decided young Josie needed a cat tree.  With time on our hands and the budget of the retired on our minds, we determined that we would build our own cat tree rather than resort to PetSmart.

The Web yielded a few reasonable ideas (for those with no fingers and all thumbs). 

We looked for a used step ladder at the ReStore, but no luck there had us in Lowe’s to buy our raw goods (and Spousal Unit gets all the credit for the measurements, etc. to make sure the thing would actually go together!)  Below are several pictures of the tree in progress.
In the garage

Ladder complete
Fabric added to platform

Platforms attached to ladder

And I am pleased to say that Josie is using the tree – see below.

Linking to Mosaic Monday

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day 2 of the Re-Set

The log structure is done and the dream another step closer to reality!

Yesterday's work started at 7.15 am, with the placement of platforms and scaffolding to enable working on the logs on the upper part of the house. 

Very quickly, the remaining log truck from Friday was emptied; the window frames for the great room and the dormer for the upstairs bedroom were in place.

Rocky and Neal install great room window frames


While more scaffolding was assembled for the next step, Spousal Unit and I took a walk down to the lake.  He snuck a picture of me!!!  We love the open aspect of this part of our lot, and have many plans for a fire pit near this spot.
Looking from lake back toward the house

By then, the next (and last) truck had arrived.

As you can see in the picture below, one log had to be cut with six notches to fit over the beams that form the ceiling of the master bedroom.  As with every other  log, all of these cuts were done by hand!
Peak above kitchen; through lower kitchen window the
arch in the loft can be seen

During the lunch break, we took a few shots from inside the house.  Way back when (November), we took a lot of time with the  surveyors on the placement of the house, and now that it is here, we can feel that we chose wisely.
View from loft through kitchen and out large window

View from "bed" in master
through door onto deck
As we sat in the back of the house (trying to stay in the shade - the day got really warm in the sun), we shared our plans for the natural looking gardens that we want to have around the house.  (This basically involves planning by me and sweat equity from  Spousal Unit.)  We have a lot of work to do when we get back from our upcoming trip to the UK, but it will be fun work.
We have a lot of naturally occurring plants, shrubs and trees that we can build upon for the gardens.
After lunch, the truss was moved from its storage location in the garage into its rightful place over the front porch.  During measurements, Odin was heard to say "It's off by an eighth of an inch", so of course it had to be adjusted!  As I have already said, the precision is incredible. 

Five logs later

Last porch log in place

Ben added the pine branch!
Pretty soon it was easy to see where the last few logs needed to go.  I think it was at this point that Rocky turned off the crane and said that he had run out of gas.  I must have had a shocked look on my face, because he smiled and turned the engine back on without saying another word.
Rocky in his 'office'

Last peak log goes into place

Our neighbors Ryan and Holly came by with several of their kids, and the timing was perfect to see the (nearly) finished house.  We were thrilled to walk them around and share our dream with them.  Rocky moved the crane out to the road and we were able to capture the first shot of the front of the house without anything blocking the view.  Jokingly, we told Neal that we had decided the house should move 15 degrees to the right!
So, at the end of the day, we all commented on how smoothly it had gone.  The worst thing that happened?  Sometime during the day, Spousal Unit ripped the seat of his shorts, and was wearing his long-sleeve shirt over them to protect the innocent.  On the way to our hotel that night, he took off the shirt and completely forgot about the massive hole in his shorts.  He checked us in while I started to unload the car.  When he returned to the car and leaned into the back to pull out a suitcase, I had to point out to him that he was showing underwear and more to the world.  And, of course, there was a guy in line behind him to check in!  We had a good chuckle over it, and hope that is the worst we encounter with the house build!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Day 1 of the Re-Set

Have you ever been emotionally drained and yet totally happy?  That is what Spousal Unit and I are experiencing today.

Truck loaded with logs
The re-set started at 7.15 am, and we both shed tears and hugged each other closely as the first log went into place.

Pete, Scott, Neal, Odin and Rocky (crane operator) move the
threshold log into place

The original forecast described heavy cloud
cover and the occasional shower; we were blessed with partly cloudy skies and cool temperatures.  Here is a picture of what morning will be like from our back deck.

The process included adding insulation to the grooves of the exterior logs, maneuvering the logs into place and securing them with (seriously large) bolts and bars.
Ben and Chris adding insulation

Bolts and bars
Pete and Scott hammer bars into logs

The first course of logs (read: first layer) took some time to put in place.  The team ensured that all the measurements were precise since that would dictate the fit of the remainder of the structure.  After that, the process clipped along at a fair pace – by lunch time, the first truck was empty and everyone took a well-deserved break.  Number One Son was able to stop by and observe part of the morning, a special blessing.

Farthest corner shows half sweep design

Odin, Neal and Scott assemble front porch truss in
the great room

Rocky hoists the truss out of the great room into the
garage until they are ready for it on Monday

I took this opportunity to walk around the lot and captured this image of the house playing peek-a-boo through the trees. 

Right on time, the next truck arrived.

The afternoon flew by – and I continued to marvel at the precision of the craftsmanship and the teamwork.   Time and again, the logs would settle into place with a pleasing “thunk” sound that meant it was a perfect fit.  Rarely, but when necessary, the team would move the logs ever so slightly to ensure flawless alignment. 

Odin and Neal position log that frames the
great room window
Closest corner (mud room entrance)
shows half sweep. Lake can be
seen in the distance

The team was always careful not to damage the logs.  For example, if hammering on the log was needed to bring alignment, the crew member placed a board against the log surface and hammered on that.

Another example: the dining room window opening had a two-by-four inserted for transport to ensure no breakage.

Odin and Scott secure the second log above the
great room window

Nearing 4.30, the second truck was almost empty and Crew Chief Odin called it a day.  While the team put away their tools, Spousal Unit cracked the bottle of champagne and retrieved the beer cooler from the car.  All enjoyed a beverage of choice while gazing at the days’ work.  Scott took several aerial shots from his lift.

Our neighbors Steve and Karree stopped by for a quick tour; we were delighted to show them around and so honored that they made the time.  Soon, everyone departed to join family and friends for weekend activities, with shouts of “See you Monday!” leaving Spousal Unit and I to go into the house on our own.  We placed our chairs up close to the great room window, looked out at the view and just smiled.  This is what it’s all about.

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