I am almost finished insulating my attic, a project that I started before we even moved into this house seven years ago. We had snow yesterday, and because I still have four more feet of attic to insulate, I can show you what good the insulation does:

Insulated well vs insulated poorly

Insulated well vs insulated poorly

See how the snow has melted on the last four feet of the roof over there on the right (not counting the part of the roof that extends beyond the house)? That’s where there is no insulation. Heat from the house escapes through the roof right there and melts the snow. If you look closely, you might be able to see icicles on that end too. That’s where the snow melts, runs off the roof, and then refreezes. If that builds up too much, it will create an ice dam, and water will pool up behind it. Then the water will find its way through the shingles and into the house.

So I guess I’d better finish this little job.

When I posted yesterday, I had meant to include a scenic photo that I captured during my walk with Penny to Sandogardy Pond. Here it is:

Gline's Road

Gline's Road

Sorry about the water spots on my lens. I was remembering the scene, not the photo.
This little path is a class VI road, meaning it is not maintained. It is never plowed, and it is never graded. Rather, it just is what it is. I know that sometimes vehicles do drive on it, because they leave their tracks. But more frequently, it is used by snowmobiles, 😦 ATV’s, 😦 pedestrians, 🙂 and dogs. 😀
Penny and I were the first to use it after this snow. Someone actually drove on it since then with a truck or 4WD, which boggles my mind, since it doesn’t lead anywhere that the plowed roads don’t lead to more conveniently. Go figure!

Jonathan and I stopped at the pond on the way home from work. He stayed in the car while I walked the couple hundred yards to Little Cohas Cache, GPS in hand. I took some readings, and will translate them into the Abenaki tongue later tonight. I think I might nail the bark covering on tomorrow afternoon. Then if I can stand to wait, I will refrain from publishing it until it snows again. Otherwise, my tracks will lead the cachers straight to ground zero. But I don’t think I will be able to restrain myself.

It snowed a little today. We got about zero inches. I noticed the flakes out the attic window. Yup – I was up there installing more insulation. I am now well past the half done mark, but that includes the work I did two years ago too. I’m pretty sure I will finish it (or come very close to finishing it) before my holiday break ends.

When I had about all the insulating I could take in one dose, I headed down the stairs. Poor Penny had not been taken outside for exercise all day. David has been sick with a sinus infection, and Va was in town running errands. So I grabbed my camera and took her down to Sandogardy Pond.

It has frozen over now, but I don’t think the ice is safe yet. I did go out on it, but if I had fallen through, it would not have been deep enough to wet my knees. It was plenty slick though.

Sandogardy Pond is frozen

Sandogardy Pond is frozen

The puddles in my driveway are frozen now too, so it’s almost like it’s paved now. In places.

Penny and I headed down the trail that parallels Little Kohas Creek. Penny does not like the bridge that crosses the creek, but the last time we were down there, she crossed it anyhow. She thought about wading across, but I told her not to. Then she tried the other side, and again I told her not to. Then I told her to sit. I was not going to go very far. I was looking to see where Kohas might have built his cabin (no luck there). But Penny could not stand it. She carefully treaded over the bridge with much trepidation. Of course that meant she would have to cross it again, but on the return trip, she went over without hesitation (but still with plenty of trepidation).

Today she toddled right over. I still have no idea where Kohas’s cabin was, but I am planning to plant a geocache along the creek in his honor. I found a place to hide it last time I was there, but then got to thinking about the snow. When it comes, it will make the cache inaccessible. It’s better to hide them higher up so they are accessible year-round. But it’s also harder to find a hiding place up off the ground. I thought I had found a spot, but now that I think about it, it might not be above the creek’s high water line. Or maybe it is. The pond regulates the creeks depth pretty well.

While I was out looking for a place to hide my cache, I spotted a strange fungal formation in a tree.

Funny Fungal Form

Funny Fungal Form

There are two growths there. A very large one on the trunk, and a smaller (but still large) one growing on a dead branch. It looks a little like the lid to a teapot to me.

But back to the cache. I ordered some plastic toys which are models of some Powhatan Indians. Kohas was probably a Pennacook Indian, not Powhatan, but the Powhatans were the only eastern tribe I could find on the Innernets. Most are Plains Indians (and come with cowboys). When my Powhatan come in, they will go in a Lock-n-Lock container along with the cache log, a pencil, and maybe a little more swag. I will eventually find a place to hide it.

I am also going to hide a cache near the Northfield Union Church. That church was built in the late 1800’s and given to the city of Northfield so that any denomination that wanted to use it could, and free of charge. The first four to do so were the Methodists, Congregationalists, Freewill Baptists, and Adventists. Each one of these denominations has an organizational logo, so I am looking for lapel pins depicting them to go in the cache as trade items.

The Adventists who met there were probably not Seventh-day Adventists (because there is no mention of anyone meeting there on Saturdays), but I am going to go with an SDA pin, because that is my own denomination, and I have a dozen SDA pins already (mostly from Pathfinders).

For the Freewill Baptists, I may have to go with a more generic Baptist pin. I plan to check out a local Christian book store to see if they have anything like what I want, and if not, I will turn to the Internet again. Keychains would work just as well as pins.

When Penny and I got home again, I was pretty tired. I sat down for a few minutes and then broke out the vacuum cleaner and ran a load of dishes. Va was in town running errands. By the time she got home, I was snoozing on the couch. She made a nice pot of chili and a batch of cornbread, and that revived me again.

I’m not a perpetual procrastinator, but sometimes it does seem like I am. Yesterday I wrote about my plans to work on the Eternal Insulation Project. And today I did work on it. I carried a few more things from the attic to the basement, all the time thinking that reversing that process is going to be a lot harder, because then my arms will be full while I’m ascending the stairs.

Once I had some space to work, I realized that I could not find any staples for the staple gun. It is not difficult for me to convince myself that I need to make a trip into town instead of doing an unpleasant task. But I may as well make the most of the trip, right?

I counted the baffle panels I have. Those are necessary to allow air to flow from the eaves up to the ridge vent. You can’t just press insulation up against the underside of the roof. I found that I would need about another 30 or so panels.

I also noticed that I have a bit of mold on the underside of the roof. That is because our “wonderful” builder opted to vent the bathroom fans out the eaves instead of out the roof. I asked about this at the time, but was convinced that it was OK. Later I found out that it can cause problems. As soon as the vent exhausts the steamy air out the soffit, it is immediately drawn back into the attic by the soffit vents on either side of the bathroom vent. And then the underside of the roof molds.

So – a trip to town was in order. I invited Beth, and she accepted my invitation. I prefer to shop at an ancient hardware store in Tilton – Bryant’s Hardware. This place has been in business for well over 100 years, and I really like the guy who runs the place. He is both friendly and helpful. I didn’t think he’d have attic baffles, but I thought I’d check before I headed over to Lowes (which does have them, and probably cheaper).

First I found the staples. The proprietor was busy helping someone else, so as I waited, I browsed around – his store is always filled with fascinating things.

He didn’t think he had baffles, but he could sure order them for me. I knew I would never get around to using all the ones I did have today, so I figured it’d be worth the wait. But then he remembered he did have some. He bought them a few years ago for a project that he never completed. No wonder I like this guy so much. He’s just like me. He disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a box full of baffles. We counted out 30 of them.

Then I asked about a roof vent for the bathroom fan. He didn’t have those either, but again, he was willing to order them for me. So we picked one out, and I ordered two (there are two bathroom vents in the attic). They will arrive sometime next week after New Years Day. But I have no desire to climb up on my roof in the beginning of a New Hampshire January. No thanks! I will wait until spring. That vent has been exhausting bathroom steam into my attic for seven years now. Four more months is not going to make that much difference.

Beth and I then went back home, and she wanted to know if she could help me in the attic. Well… sure! We went up and she handed me baffles as I stapled them to the roof. We didn’t put them all up though, because that would mean moving more boxes. I could have moved them into the empty space I created by shuffling junk to the basement, but then I’d have to move them again to put up the insulation. So instead, I figured I should just insulate while I had the space cleared.

By then Beth was ready to go outside and play with the neighbor girl. That was just as well, because I really didn’t want her handling the fiberglass.

Maybe tomorrow I will make more progress. As we saw today… it could happen!

I’m off work now until the new year is underway. It’s nice to have some time off. On the agenda today was to sleep in, take the recycling to the recycling station, run some errands, and resume the Eternal Attic Insulation Project.

The sleep in part went swimmingly. Once I had checked that box, I went downstairs and had some breakfast. Then I loaded the recycling into my car and backed out of the garage. That’s when Beth told me, “One of your tires is low. I mean really low.” What she meant was “You have a flat tire, Daddy!”

Yeah. I took a turn a little too tightly yesterday and bumped hard over a curb. It felt a little unbalanced on the drive home, but I figured I had thrown one of those balance weights. I had intended to take it in to have the tires rotated anyhow, so…

Of all the days to have a flat tire, I really can’t think of a better day than today. I didn’t have to be anywhere at any particular time.

I moved all the recycling out of my car and into Va’s, and Beth and I took it to the recycling center. I really wish we had curbside recycling here, but having no curbs, I guess that’s not likely to happen any time soon. And curbs don’t like me too much this week anyhow.

I took the tire off, threw it in Va’s trunk, and she and I drove to town. We ran errands (one of which was to get the tire fixed). When we got home I put the tire back on. Actually, I didn’t get the tire fixed, I got a new one. When we bought the tires in May, they came with road hazard insurance, and the curb was very unkind to the sidewall. From this we can conclude that curbs are road hazards. I paid $15 for labor (or something), but I am totally OK with that. I was expecting to hand over a Benjamin.

After supper I decided to move a bunch of stuff from the attic to the basement so I would have some room to work on the Eternal Insulation Project.

Well-insulated vs Not

Well-insulated vs Not

This photo was taken two years ago yesterday. You can see that the snow on the right side of the house is deeper than the snow on the left side. That’s because I had insulated the left side of the attic.

Actually, the whole attic is insulated – just not very well. When we had the house built we asked for an open attic with a subfloor and regular walk-up stairs. The plan was to eventually finish it out and use it as extra space. The builder did as we asked, but he insulated the attic floor, not the attic ceiling. That’s not so bad except that the door to the attic is an interior door, and the heat goes right through it, up our walk-up stairs, and out the roof.

So I have been insulating the attic ceiling. But not fast. My goal is to finish that project before I have to go back to work. Tonight all I will do though, is clear out some working space. The nice thing about having the ceiling half-insulated for two years running is that I know that when it is finished, it will do us some real good. I can see it every time there’s snow or frost on the roof. And I am reminded then, that I should really get up there and finish that project off.


Today after breakfast Beth and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. It was a nice walk. It wasn’t quite as warm today as it has been through most of the week, but it was still fairly pleasant. The ice on the pond is beginning to break up now. I could see that it was drifting relative to the pond’s bed, but it must have been a pretty huge chunk that was drifting. I guess it must have been going about four inches per minute – fast enough to tell it’s moving if you look at it long enough.

When we got back, Jonathan and I went up to the attic and resumed the insulation project. I’d say that a bit more than a third of the roof is insulated now. We’ll prolly take another crack at it again sometime soon. It would make sense if we were to organize the basement first and then move a bunch of stuff to there from the attic. That way we wouldn’t be moving it every time we turned around.

We had a late lunch (which followed a late breakfast). And then a little while after that I took the kids to the church for a Seder. Va had intended to go, but she was not feeling very good and opted to stay home instead.

We rent our church building to another church that meets there on Sundays (Adventists meet on Saturdays), and we and our renter church were having a joint celebration of Passover. The other church had made most of the arrangements, and a couple from Jews for Jesus were there to lead the service. It was really quite fascinating. I had been to a Seder I guess 15 years ago as well, so even though this was not my first one, I still found it pretty interesting. During part of the service, they break the matza in half and hide it. Near the end of the service, the children all try to find it, and Beth was the lucky one! She found it pretty quickly, but I know she wasn’t peeking, because she looked some other place first. She was pretty stoked.

We didn’t get out of there until 8:00pm, and then it was well past Beth’s bedtime. So she’s trying to get to sleep now, and I find that I’m having a hard time staying awake myself!

Last night I worked a little on insulating. The 48 rolls of R13 I had ordered from Lowes had arrived earlier in the day while I was at work. Jonathan was there to receive them (David and Va were at the orthodontist getting David fitted for braces). The delivery guys had a forklift and unloaded three pallets into my parking spot in the garage (as I had directed).

I had dug out a tarp for Jonathan to stack them on, but it was too small, and not needed since they left the R13 on the pallets. I didn’t want the insulation set down in the snow droppings on the garage floor. He put the tarp down on the floor anyhow (as I asked him to), so now I have a wet tarp to dry out. Oh well, I was expecting to have to do that anyhow before I knew they’d have pallets and a forklift.

When I got home, we set up a brigade to get the R13 into the attic. Even Beth helped (she insisted). I shuttled them from the garage to the kitchen, limiting my muddy footprints to the area in the immediate vicinity of the door. Beth shoved one roll at a time across the dining room to the foot of the stairs. David carried them up one flight, and Jonathan carried them up to the attic.

After breathing for a few minutes, I went ahead and hung two rolls. And somehow during all of that, I managed to strain my neck again. I was just beginning to think that I was finished with the stiff neck thing, but no. It came back with a vengeance.

Last week I suggested that the cause of all this neck pain was because I was sleeping wrong, craning my neck to keep my nose out of Va’s hair. I further suggested that she could prevent my neck pain by taking the simple step of shaving her head. But now I know that these neck episodes must be caused by something else. I guess she’d be pretty mad at me about now if she had shaved her head. Ya think?

I hardly slept at all last night because of the pain. I got up at about 5:00, and took some ibuprofin, but that didn’t help at all. I thought about going to see a doctor, but I’m pretty sure that they’d have said, “we have an opening on February 18 at 10:47. Would that be OK?” Well, no, that would not be OK. Maybe I should call anyhow. The way my neck’s feeling right now, I seriously doubt that tonight will be any better than last night.

This pain starts just to the left of my neck, kinda in my shoulder. From there it radiates out up the back of my head all the way to the crown. It also shoots down to my left elbow, sometimes all the way to my wrist. I can also feel it at the base of my spine. Ouch, ouch, ouch. And if I am foolhardy enough to actually try to move my head, Yeeeeouch! Man. It sure hurts.

I had been hoping I might be able to do some more insulating tonight, but I don’t think so!

I worked on insulating the attic some more today. I finished off the north wall and started working on the west side of the roof. For the roof I have been folding a 32′ length of insulation in half to get two layers, but I need three. The plan was to get the third layer by starting at the east eaves, going up to the ridge vent, and then back down to the west eaves. That way, I wouldn’t have to cut anything. Only I will, because that path is more like 29.5 feet, not 32. Oh well.

After a bit of that, Va, Beth, and I headed into Concord. I needed to figure out some sort of craft for the Pathfinders to do tomorrow. After potluck, we’re going to make something for a couple of shut-ins, and then take it to them. But I had no idea what that craft would be.

We went to Michael’s (a craft store) to look around, and Beth found the perfect item – soap making kits. I bought two. We also picked out a couple of cigar-type boxes to decorate and to put the soap in. I think this will work out pretty OK.

When we got home I did a little bit of straightening and came across a necktie that one (perhaps both) of the boys must have used back when they were toddlers. It was about six inches long. For whatever reason, I thought Penny would look really sharp if she only had some formal neckwear. Here is the result:

Penny Goes Formal

She didn’t care much for formal wear. This was clearly more important than straightening the house, so the house was a wreck in the photo. So I edited out the background so no one could tell the house was a disaster zone. And then I announced as much. Oh well, hearing about a messy house and seeing one are two entirely different things.

After supper tonight someone who lives near here lit off a fairly massive fireworks display. They were off to the west of our house, and maybe a half mile away. Penny didn’t care too much for that, but we didn’t mind so much. We could see the starbursts from the sliding glass door, though our view was obscured by the treetops.

Today Beth and I went to the Lowes in Tilton and bought four dozen rolls of R13 insulation. I paid for it today (meaning we can take advantage of the tax credit this year), but they won’t deliver it until Monday. Va looked into the tax credit thing, and for every buck you spend insulating, Unka Sam pays 30 cents. That covered the delivery charge by a factor of two.

Now I need to get my butt in gear and use up the stuff that’s already in the attic so I have a place to put the 48 new rolls.

It was snowing when we left the house. While we were in Lowes, a full inch accumulated on the back windshield of my car. All told we got three inches. It stopped sometime in the afternoon, and I cleared the driveway at about 4:00pm with my brand-spankin’-new snowblower.

In a little bit we’ll head over to the church for a New Years party. But we need to eat some supper first. Jonathan is making burritos, and as soon as those are ready, we’ll chow down. Va’s going to stay home and work on a secret project that she was supposed to have finished a mailed off a couple of weeks ago. I’d give more details, but… it’s secret? Maybe?

Tonight is cold and quiet. And windy. It’s 3°F outside (much warmer inside!) and the wind has been whipping all day. I stopped at Pizza Hut before coming home. We ate, and then I let Beth use my computer while I did a little more knitting. The scarf is over two feet long now.

Then I went up to the attic and did a little more casual insulating. Perhaps I was inspired by the weather. I didn’t do too much – just put some up on the north wall, all the way to the window (which is in the center of the room), and the space above it. Then Beth asked me to help her with her piano practice. Of course there was nothing I could do but advise her to keep practicing. And she did.

Then she took a bath and I put her to bed. We finished Book III of the Lord of the Rings (that is, the first part of the Two Towers). Tomorrow we will pick up with the adventures of Frodo and Sam.

This morning I dropped off the grant application at Sam’s Club. We’ll see what happens. We asked for money for playground equipment for the school, as that seems to fit the bill for what they’re looking to fund. I just didn’t think they’d give us money for our Latin America trip.

I slept late again today, and that’s going to bite me tomorrow when I have to get up and go to work. I guess I shouldn’t complain about having to go to work though, as there are plenty of people who wish they had that problem.

It was raining when I woke up, and I guess it continued with that through most of the day. We still have some snow in the yard though. I hope we get some more snow again soon though, because I don’t like having bare spots in the yard. It’s just not as pretty! I did take a look at the roof of my house again. There was still snow up there above where I insulated, but plenty of bare roof where I haven’t yet. So that is clearly having the desired effect. There were no ice dams on either side, but I expect there would be on the back side if conditions were just right.

I did a little more knitting, and then Va, Beth, and I headed into Concord. First we ran a few errands, ate lunch at Olive Garden, and then we went to the church. I loaded all our unsold fruit into the trunk of the car. It came to about eleven or twelve cases. Beth and I drove that over to Friendly’s Kitchen which is a place where homeless (and not homeless) people can get two meals per day. They were delighted to see a dozen cases of citrus, and the lady helped me load them into their walk-in fridge. Even though we had that much fruit left over, we still managed to turn a profit on the fruit this month, so I do not at all regret buying as much as I did. In fact, I think I should always order an extra four cases for them. They do important work.

After that we ran a few more errands. Va had intended to get a Raggedy Andy for Beth for Christmas, but it somehow had fallen off the list. We found one at Toy-R-Us. Then we stopped at Target and I found a flashlight designed to clip onto the brim of a cap. Well, I don’t wear a cap, but I do wear a hat with a brim. I had even thought about trying to outfit it with LED’s and a battery at one point, because the standard headband lights just don’t work well with my hat. But there is no need to do that now. I tried it out when I got home and was mighty pleased.

When we got home, Beth was asking me to teach her how to knit. For that, she’s going to need her own needles, since I am in the middle of knitting that scarf (it’s about 18 inches long now), and it looks like it’ll be a couple of weeks before that’s done. Meanwhile, I had been eyeing some yarn Va bought five years ago or so so she could use it to make “hair” for a prop. It’s some super bulky yarn, and in my reading on the subject, I found that super bulky is great when you want to knit something fast, such as… a scarf. For that you need bigger needles though (as in more diameter). And what is the essence of a knitting needle anyhow? It’s pretty much a smooth, pointy stick. I figured I had some dowels in the basement that might be pressed into service, so I went down there and found some half inchers. Then I whittled points on them and smoothed the points with a block plane. Then I showed Beth how to knit a scarf. We’re using the garter stitch on hers so she won’t have the “tendency to curl” problem that mine will be cursed with. It worked pretty OK, except that I left out the “smooth” characteristic. The wood was catching yarn fibers. As soon as we finished a row though, I took the free one back to the basement and sanded it down. Then she knit another row and I gave the other one the same treatment. They’re working pretty well now, and her scarf is already five inches long. If she can keep her interest in it, she’ll have a scarf in no time.

In other news, I found another software package to serve as our school library’s card catalog: OpenBiblio. It’s a LOT simpler than Koha, and I had it installed and configured (for testing purposes) on my laptop in under five minutes. It took a little longer on the production machine, and I still have a web server issue to work out with it, but it is ready for Va to start keying in the data. Woot!