Sunday, December 4, 2016

2016 Books

This year's book list. The (r) denotes a repeat read and suffice to say, it was a good read. A * means it was more than noteworthy and more *s mean it was much more betterer, DNF = Bad or a better book turned up that I couldn't wait to read and I didn't get back to it yet.

No doubt you'll notice the lack of Travels with my Aunt on the list this year, I broke with an 8 year tradition and did not read it. It was a difficult decision.
I am also binging on the Georges Simenon Inspector Maigret books, only up to book 26 of 75. They are all very good, not too long mostly less than 200 pages, a few I didn't enjoy and I am surprised at the number of cases in which he doesn't arrest the perpetrator.
  1. Dr. Fischer of Geneva aka The Bomb Party(r),  Graham Greene
  2. Monsieur Pamplemousse takes the Train(r), Michael Bond
  3. Monsieur Pamplemousse on Location(r), Michael Bond
  4. The Shadow Puppet, Georges Simenon (GS)
  5. The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin, GS
  6. The Naming of the Dead (A Rebus Novel), Ian Rankin; read half and then left on the plane to Ushuaia, Argentina.
  7. The Saint-Fiacre Affair, GS
  8. The Madman of Bergerac, GS
  9. So anyway ..., John Cleese; for something completely different I read a biography, a Christmas present from the Eldest.
  10. Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sacks; oh look I'm on a roll. Very interesting, his life during wartime in London, but when he talks of chemistry, I am way less interested in reading about it that he is in writing about it.
  11. The Carter of La Providence, GS
  12. The 2 Penny Bar, GS
  13. The Smartest Book in the World, Greg Proops
  14. The Late Monsieur Gallet, GS
  15. The Flemish House, GS
  16. Penguin, Steve Martin (no not that one)
  17. The Misty Harbor, GS
  18. Murder in Thrall, Anne Cleeland; Written in an interesting manner. The next one is on my nightstand.
  19. Lock #1, GS
  20. The Maltese Falcon*, Dashiell Hammet; I'm sure I'll be rereading this one. The movie followed the book quite closely mostly.
  21. 1222*, Anne Holt; Paralyzed Retired Lesbian Oslo Detective Hanne Wilhelmsen's train gets stuck in the snow and people start to die. Number 8 in the series. The author is up to #10, I might try #1, but really need to focus on Inspector Maigret first.
  22. Shut Up Legs, Jens Voigt; A good read, very funny guy.
  23. This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism, Ashton Applewhite; Sometimes depressing, but always something I hadn't though about is pointed out. Didn't realize all the things I did to marginalize the elderly, oops there I go again. Heard the author speak on Doug Henwood's radio show.
  24. The Golden Egg*, Donna Leon; Takes place in Venice, started slow but the location kept me reading, we visited in 2005.
  25. Mrs Jeffries, Emily Brightwell; DNF
  26. Cockpit Confidential*, Patrick Smith; Lots of useful information, if your friend is afraid to fly, let them read this.
  27. Cecile is Dead, GS
  28. The Cellars of the Majestic, GS
  29. The Judges House, GS
  30. Signed Picpus, GS
  31. Inspector Cadaver, GS
  32. Dishing the Dirt, M.C. Beaton; Agatha Raisin series
  33. Death of a Nurse, M.C. Beaton; Hamish Macbeth series
  34. Bryant and May and the Bleeding Heart, Christopher Fowler
  35. Murder in Retribution, Anne Cleeland, DNF
  36. Félice, GS; The Inspector Maigret TV series starring Michael Gambon based the Maigret and the Maid episode on this book.
  37. The Invisible Code, Christopher Fowler; Such wacky characters and it takes place in London. It could only be better if there were trains.
  38. Silent Voices, Anne Cleeves; Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope series. I hear the actress saying some of the lines. You'll like this one, Pet.
  39. A Dedicated Man, Peter Robinson; Saw the TV show first and Inspector Banks is described quite differently in the book.
  40. Maigret in New York, GS; Either this one was just plain confusing or I was real tired the nights I read it. I usually really enjoy the books in this series.
  41. The Apprentice, Jacques Pepin; Very good read, his TV cookery shows are enjoyable to watch.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Thanksgiving went well, everything was quite tasty. Had 9 for dinner, but only 7 at the table. A 14 lb turkey, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, green beans with Asian dressing, cranberry sauce, stuffing and sweet potato rolls. There were a lot of deserts.
 The Traditional table cloths.
You can see the purple tone of the walls in this light. You can also see the new Dining room rug and the resting dog. I gave her an 8 out of 10 for behavior.

Short Term Slipper Salvage:
Wore a hole through the soles of my double soled slippers. I've started a KickStarter campaign to acquire a new pair, but for now I have solved the problem.
I used contact cement to adhere some pig leather(from an old backpack) to the slippers and to get a slight buzz.
Then used Freesole Shoe & Boot Repair to finish the edges.
I still have the pair that these replaced and I had always wanted to glue a pair of rubber soles to them and make them outdoorsish. We'll see how long these last before I embark on that quest.

Beers in the Fridge:
The Stella Cider got 2 thumbs up yesterday, it is none too sweet and very pleasant. Have always wanted to try it and it was the same price as the brand of cider I usually purchase, so I did.
Harpoon Winter Warmer 5.9% ABV 23 IBU. Not sure about this, too much going on? Not the right temperature? In a poor frame of mind? Maybe the second bottle will change my mind.

Harpoon Vanilla bean Porter 5% ABV 27 IBU. A hit, the vanilla is not too overpowering, not too bitter or sweet. It is a seasonal so I may never get it again.

Brooklyn  Brewery Insulated Dank Lager - 5.6% ABV. Initially felt it was just like a Guinness, but then its complexity became clear. Very good, but I probably won't get it again.


Saturday, November 19, 2016


First Leaf raking of the season netted 1.5 paper yard bags of shredded leaves.

I always take care of my property, I've got over a foot and a half on this side of the garage. I mow that strip too. The neighbor on more than one occasion has raked her leaves against the garage. Did I mention what a nice person she is?

Last weekend the hall got screened and re-coated.
 New border and old border strip. A 4 foot section was replaced. The original cross section of the border strip was rectangular with a concave bottom, but the damaged section was more of a right triangle. I ripped down a piece of oak to width and stained it with Old Masters Wiping Stain, Rich Mahogany #15404.
The adjacent parallel wood strip was also damaged in a similar way, but only for about 8 inches. I used slivers of wood to level out the strip and packed underneath it with dash patch. I then fitted an oak filler strip where there was too much damage.
 The filler strip should have been stained, but I was hoping the poly would take care of that. It really is not that noticeable in real life with the hall light off when you're in a rush for the turlit. Gunther would have done a better job.
I also finished under the marble saddle, I fitted a piece of oak, prior there was exposed mortar.
Overall, the hall came out fine, biggest problem was having to go out the front door to get to the kitchen while we waited for it to dry.

Current Blooms:
I haven't seen the Cyclamen this year (Estate Stock Photo below) yet, last year they popped up in October.
The Peonies seem to have grown bigger this year after removing all other plants from their patch of soil. The Cyclamen live in the same garden so I hope I didn't remove them by mistake.

Beers in the Fridge:
Brooklyn 1/2 Ale, Sixpoint Sweet Action and Samuel Smiths Oatmeal Stout.
All recurring favorites.
I gave 2 Sweet Actions to the co-worker who provided me with Oktoberfest beers.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mr. Bittas

Bitters are mainly known as being used in cocktails, Manhattans and Old Fashions spring to mind, with the most famous Bitters brand being Angostura Aromatic Bitters. It was Developed in 1824 by a German,  Dr. Johan Siegert living in Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar) Venezuela.

Some history of Bitters here, here(Angostura) and here(Smithsonian).

 I mainly use bitters to flavor water or seltzer, as I rarely make cocktails. Though I have added them to Cube Libras, Smoky Manhattans and Smoggy Beijings*. You can add them to leftovers to change things up, soups, oatmeal, poultices and even warm drinks.

 The Orange Bitters were a more recent 2008 addition to the Angostura line-up.
They have a good website containing history and recipes for cocktails and quite a lot of food recipes.

 Bittermens  A Christmas gift from the Youngest. I use it to mask the taste of a supplement I take to prevent leg cramp.

Scrappy's  Bitters from 2 Sample Boxes
 Chocolate, Cardamon, Grapefruit, Lime
 Orange, Celery, Aromatic, Lavender
Did I ever tell you my family was famous for producing celery seed?

Fee Brothers  A Pre-Prohibition company.
My favorite it the mint, the Cherry tastes like the liquid in the Maraschino cherry jar.

*- I made this up, well every cocktail is made up, but in this case I did not actually make up a drink, just the name.

 Gunther Befestigen, handyman extraordinaire, just back from a Blacksmithing convention finished up the Dining Room yesterday, he did a screen and re-coat using Minwax Ultimate Floor Finish. Ultimate is a Water based floor finish, ready for a second coat in 2 hours, no sanding if second coat is done in less than 24 hours. Minwax recommends application using a synthetic pad, Gunter followed instructions. Light foot traffic after 24 hours, furniture back in 72 hours. We selected a satin finish.
 Transition between hall(unfinished) and Dining Room(finished)
 Far away shot to hide all blemishes.
Corner detail.

Gunther is also making some repairs to the hall floor border strip and tidying up under the saddle of the hall bathroom. Hopefully more on that next weekend.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Today it doesn't feel like fall, it is in the 70s, but I kept on with the fall checklist anyway.

Yesterday we painted the Dining Room. We used Benjamin Moore and painted the ceiling English Hyacinth and the walls Softened Violet. I get swayed by the names much more than the actual colors. When you look at the ceiling, the medallion looks in the purple family, but the ceiling does not, even thought they are both the same color. The radiator, painted the same color as the walls looks silver-ish depending on the light.

Yard work is winding down, mostly cleanup left. Planted Mustard Spinach today and keep forgetting to see if I can find any other fall seeds at the local hardware stores. Cleaned out the pondlette and removed the pump, brought in the hose and turned off the water and did some weeding and pruning.

Current Blooms:
 Fall Blooming Crocus
 Fall Blooming Crocus mit Gast
 Erica x watsonii "Truro. This was already pruned for the fall.
 Pyrethrum family

Beers in the Fridge:
I mentioned to a co-worker that I had problems finding Oktoberfest beers and he surprised me with a mixed six of Oktoberfest Beers. I probably waited too long plus my choice beer store was replacing their shelves and the beer aisles were a mess. I've had the Hacker-Pschorr Original Oktoberfest (5.8% ABV) before, the Sam Adams was OK and I really liked the Ommegang Witte Wheat Ale (5.2 %ABV, 11 IBU), it is the bottle with the yellow label that is quite hard to read. I thought it had a slightly smokey aroma/taste, plus a touch of citrus, it was very nice. Plus they have tours if you happen to be in the Cooperstown area of NY State.

Palm, it said session ale so I though lower alcohol, but it is 5.2% ABV, it was fine anyway. Paulaner Oktoberfest Wien 6.0% ABVwas very nice. Yuengling Oktoberfest was just OK, not much different than the Sam Adams Oktoberfest, though I did have them days apart. These last 2 Oktoberfest beers I picked up after I mentioned to the co-worker my beer woes and before he gave me the beers.

Now Drinking:
I purchased this for a gathering earlier this year at our place, but I forgot to take it out of the fridge and open it. It was taking up space in the fridge so I am emptying it now. It tastes like Welch's Grape Juice mixed with rubbing alcohol mit gas. Yes it is that good!
My Grandfather always brought bottles of Cold Duck to family dinners. I found this label down his basement and framed it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Series Land Rover Door Tops

The door tops on Lump were getting rusty and spewing rust flakes all over the seats and occupants when slamming the doors. As replacements, we purchased Aluminum door tops from Rocky Mountain Products in Vancouver. Jeremy was very helpful both pre and post sales, the doors looked and worked great and the fit was perfect.

Installation was a breeze; undo 2 nuts, lift the old tops off, clean up the capping on the door bottom, lay down the new rubber gasket, drop in the new door top. Easie peasie.

I think the parabolic springs we installed on Lump in 1998 came from this company, but we purchased the springs through a company now out of service.


I had previously got a spare door(minus glass) from a fellow Rover owner, but when I test installed the door top on my door bottom, it didn't close properly.
I also had previously tried to slow down the march of rust with conventional rust primer, it worked better on the drivers door as can be seen in the photo, but probably should have used POR-15.

 The door tops are anodized and can be left unpainted or painted to match the rover.
 Front window latch, the original door tops had a fixed front window pane.
Rear window latch.

I took off the homemade door panels to check for rust and I found some. The passenger side panel had gotten wet and I was planning on spraying it with bed liner, but it was too far gone. I did spray the drivers's side panel and it looks fine. The panels I had made of lauan plywood and covered with poly, which did not provide enough protection.

Next up I will have to treat any rust areas found and then hit them with POR-15.

Current Blooms:
It's the tail end of the Phlox, Hostas and Summer blooming heaths and heather. The St Michaelmas Daisy is blooming, but we definitely need some more fall blooms around the place.
The vegetable garden is mostly empty except for one squash plant with possibly 2 or 3 more squash. It's a race against the frost, heat came up for the first time today. Garlic will go in the ground soon.
A lavender I planted in the spring didn't make it through the heat wave.
Was pruning a few weeks ago and ran into this. I had tied up a branch and forgot about it.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Things to Do

Accumulated this list over time on various sheets of paper, now I can throw the sheets away

Brewery Tours/Tastings - Beer Festivals
Outdoors: organized hikes, trail listings, trail crews