Sunday, March 30, 2008


Spring snow!

We usually don't have much snow at all over a winter here in north west Washington State, but the last few days have been very unusual. Yesterday we started out from home about 11am to drive south to my grand daughter's 11th birthday party. It was raining when we left home but as we started up the hill on the freeway south of town we started into mixed snow & rain. A few miles farther, about at the Skagit/Snohomish County line for those familiar with the area, the snow really started sticking on the road as well as alongside the road. A mile or so farther we spotted the first car that had slid off the road. As we approached the Camano Island exit there was close to 4 inches of snow and it was coming down hard. The speed of the traffic was down to about 30mph and it looked like it was getting worse, so we got off the freeway there and turned back. Later we learned that there had been something like 6" of snowfall down at Smokey Point & Marysville that was about 12 miles ahead. I talked with K, my grand daughter, in the evening and we will go take her to lunch the week after next when she is on spring vacation from school.

Back home it was still just raining which actually quit later in the day although it never did warm up very much. When we got up this morning, this is what we had outside our windows:
March snow 01
This is our front yard with the new Thundering Plum tree and the forsythia, both in full bloom, although both with snow on them. You can see the snowflakes falling in the photo. The roads were just slushy but not any problem to drive, although I'll bet that farther south as you get into the so called convergent zone there was a lot more snow (like yesterday.)

March snow 02
This is a telephoto view of the condos on the hill just east of us. This is very unusual weather, especially for "spring."

March snow 03
A photo from the sunroom showing the little fireplace at work, trying to make it warm for the cats. The "flames" are visible here and the heat comes from the bottom of the fireplace. They love it out here but are not fond of cold weather, so we are spending electricity to heat the room. Also notice the hummingbird in the upper part of the window. More about these next.

March snow 04
A closer view of one of the other windows, with a hummingbird in it. Notice all the ice and snow on the pampas grass plant outside the window, and you can still see the snowflakes falling.

March snow 05
A closeup view of the hummingbird in the previous photo. Yes, it did stay there and wait for me to take a closer photo. That is because they are not real birds. Pat found some in a catalog that are split in half. Each half has a magnet attached so that you can put one on each side of a single pane window and they look pretty real. They say they won't work on a double pane insulated window and we haven't tried them on any of those but they work fine on the sunroom windows.

March snow 06
This is a different bird that is on one of the south facing windows. You can see the melted snow drops here as the weather system is coming out of the southwest, but you can also see how the birds are split in half. I used the flash unit to light the bird but it didn't penetrate the tinted window so the outside part is just in silhouette against the brighter sky. These things are fun and if anyone is interested in them I can post where Pat found them.

Our weather is supposed to change for the better after today. I am really getting tired of having winter in springtime. The temperature yesterday never got out of the 30s. This afternoon is supposed to have sunshine but the weather forecasts we get usually come from Seattle, 80 miles south, and it can be different up here in the frigid north. But, we are ready for better weather. Soon, please.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008


Happy Easter to everyone!

I'd like to wish a Happy Easter to everyone. I hope you are all able to spend at least part of the day with family and loved ones. We had breakfast with one of Pat's daughters and the other one is coming by this afternoon with her two kids to see the new sunroom. Her husband is in sunny Arizona to watch a Mariner's Cactus League baseball game with his brother.

Speaking of the sunroom, we and the cats have been enjoying it, especially when the sun shines. Friday morning we woke up to actually see snow falling, although it didn't stick nor amount to anything. But you know it was cold. We have heat out there set for about 48 degrees so that is what the temp inside it is in the early morning. In the afternoons it has been getting up to the mid to upper 60s if overcast and mid 70s with at least some sunshine. That is with outside temps of around 50. Spring officially came this past week but you'd hardly know it from our weather and the long range projections are not much better.

Peewee, one of our cats, has been making herself very unpopular around our house by wanting to go out into the sunroom whenever she is awake. And that seems to always be from about 3am on, while we are not ready to get up until closer to 6. She is very vocal about it and is pretty loud in the middle of the night when the house is quiet. Pat has been talking to her about that, trying to get her to listen to the cuckoo clock and wait until it cuckoos six times before coming in to "talk" to us. So far that hasn't worked too well. I guess she needs more training in math so she can count to six (Peewee, not Pat.) Then too I can visualize her hearing the one cuckoo at 03:30, four at 04:00 and another at 04:30 and figuring that makes six.

We had a water leak a couple of weeks ago that had water slowly dripping from one of our kitchen lights that are recessed into the ceiling. We had a guy out to find and fix the leak but have decided it is time to re-roof the house. The house was built in 1994 but these mobile homes, even the better ones, seem to use the cheapest materials they can get away with. All of the houses in our park are within a couple of years of being the same age and there have been a lot of them re-roofed over the last couple of years. Anyway, we got a couple of bids and the work starts tomorrow. That is almost $6000 we hadn't planned to spend right now but it needs to be done. So things will be pretty noisy around here for the next four days or so. At least it will be quiet at night. If we can get Peewee to cooperate!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The sunroom is finished!

The carpet was installed today. The sunroom is now pretty much finished, except for things we want to add to it, like plants. There are now a few pieces of furniture out there and the little TV. I have a few photos to post including one that is rather odd but pretty amazing to me.

Sunroom construction 22
This is a pretty standard wide angle lens (12mm) view of the sunroom, taken from about the door that comes out of the house. I just bought and assembled that bookshelf that is ahead on the left, with the small 19" HD LCD TV on the top of it. I have to find one of my hole saws to cut an opening in the back of it so I can feed the power cord & connecting cables through that go from the VCR on the top shelf to the TV. A DVD player is built into the TV. Past it you can see our little electric fireplace/heater. It gives nice "flames" while operating that look pretty realistic. Further over to the right is a boombox for radio/CDs, etc. although we may put a different music source out here that has better speakers. Next is the oak table I kept from my old house just for this room and a couple of chairs. Notice my Starbucks mocha cup on the table. It was ready for the photo. Below the table, actually in the corner behind, is an electric heater with a thermostat. We will probably use that one overnight to maintain a minimum temperature in the room as the little fireplace has no thermostat, so heat is either off, on low or on high, all the time, but you can run just the "flames" without any heat. This view shows the new carpet pretty well. We wanted fairly natural colors and a nylon material as it could have a bit of moisture at times since there is an outside door into the room.

Sunroom construction 23
Here the camera has turned a bit to the right from the last view, showing a bit of the outside patio and some of the common area in the park behind our yard. The barbecue unit also shows at the right. We haven't used it much since moving it here from the other house but I hope now to use it more. It was awkward to get to the patio in the past so we really didn't go out there very much.

Sunroom construction 24
Here the camera is behind the table, looking back toward the door from the house. The light on the wall outside the door is controlled from a switch in the bedroom and actually does a pretty good job of lighting the place at night. I have placed an old "bankers light" on the table but am not sure if it will stay there in the long run. We will probably look for other things to do in the way of lighting, especially mood lighting.

Sunroom 360 degree view
Okay, here is the odd one I mentioned. I put the camera on a tripod and in about the middle of the room and took 12 photos around a full circle with the 12mm lens. I then had Photoshop Elements version 6 stitch those 12 photos into a panorama photo that does show the whole circle. You can see from the way perspective goes that I was not in the exact center of the room and it really gives it an odd look, but notice the Starbucks cup on the table on the left side of the photo, then look across it to the other side of the photo. That is the same table and Starbucks cup on the far right side. So, the photo actually shows a little over 360 degrees. Does it help to see how the room looks? Maybe not. It is a bit hard to decipher but I find it very interesting from a technical point of view and it does kind of show how the whole room is setup.

There will probably be some photos in the future from this room and perhaps some of activities out there. I hope and expect that we will use it quite a bit, especially during the 2/3 of each year that has better weather. Keeping it comfortably warm may turn out to be too expensive in the winter. We will see, but at least it is now FINISHED!

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Friday, March 14, 2008


Last day in Hawaii

I'll go ahead and post the last of our Hawaii trip. Getting these posts finished has drug out quite awhile, since the trip was the last week of October but there have been other things going on and I did have a lot of photos I wanted to post. Both Pat and I were taking them and I've mixed them up here in the posts about the trip. Between us we took well over a thousand photos on the trip. These photos cover a bit about our last full day on Maui and a couple from the trip home to Seatac Airport in Seattle, WA. We didn't get "home" until the next day as our plane arrived too late to take the last shuttle bus trip home so we stayed overnight in a hotel near the airport, coming home the next morning.

Maui 122
While there we ate out for almost all of our meals and always at a different place. This restaurant was related to another where we ate dinner early in our trip. Both were good. We ate breakfast at this one which was near the post office in Kehei. There are a lot of interesting signs posted here and one that caught my interest was this one-
Maui 121
I tried to talk Pat into taking these lessons but she said "No."

Maui 123
Here is another of the Koi fish in the pool at the garden near our Bad Ass Coffee shop and the open air shopping beside it. This was a nice, shady place to sit and drink a mocha while people watching or fish watching. Or both.

We did a lot of looking around that day but have already covered part of it in photos. In the late afternoon, just before sunset, we got into our swim suits and walked across the street to Kamaoli Park 3. Pat's grand daughter is quite a good volley ball player and there were some boys there playing a version of volley ball with a ball that was about 2 feet in diameter, so she took some photos of them. I took a photo of her taking photos of them. I like to look at her better than I'd like to look at them.
Maui 125

Then we went down to the actual beach where there already were quite a few people gathering to wait to watch the sunset. While there, Pat took a photo of me taking photos of the sunset-
Maui 126
It did seem a little darker than these photos make it look but that is because the camera exposure system is trying to make it look like a normally lighted photo. The one of Pat did still have some of the late day very warm toned sunshine on her.

Maui 128
This is looking down the beach to the north. The clouds above the West Maui Mountain Range are catching the rays of the setting sun so are contrasting nicely with the deeper blue of the sky.

Maui 127
Here is a closer shot of Pat & I with the sunset in the background. I set the camera and asked a passerby who was taking photos with his own camera to take a few with mine. The camera's flash unit was set to provide a bit of fill light so that we wouldn't just appear as black silhouettes against the brighter sky, but to keep a good exposure of the sky. He did a good job.

Maui 124
Here's another of Pat's where she exposed for the sunset, letting the foreground go darker. Photoshop has brought back a bit of detail in the foreground but you can see how dramatic the sky was. The light on the beach was actually somewhat in between what is seen here and the lighter beach scenes.

Maui 129
We were getting ready to leave the condo the next morning. Pat had been out on the deck taking photos and came walking back inside as I was taking some last photos of the inside of the condo. This one shows a good example of that mirror wall that we finally got used to but it sure seemed odd at first. It made the place look larger than it really was but in a kind of confusing way. Notice the post office mailing box on the chair, ready to mail home. We bought two more bags to check on the airline to carry things we bought home and still ended up mailing two of those post office boxes with things we couldn't get in anywhere else. A lesson for our next trip - take at least one extra empty suitcase over with us.

Maui 130
Pat had the window seat on our flight back and took some photos at the airport, including this one of another plane like the one we flew on. Hawaiian Airlines uses very colorful tail paint on their aircraft!

Maui 131
This is someplace mid-Pacific Ocean as the sun set. There is not much to see from 37,000 feet up, especially when the ocean is covered by low level clouds, but she did catch a pretty dramatic sunset and with the left wing of our plane included.

Haleakala panarama 1- 6 inch wide
I still think Mount Haleakala is the most dramatic sight to see on Maui so am going to close out our trip photos with this panorama of the crater on Mt. Haleakala. I have posted it in an earlier post I think but it is interesting. I made it up by combining three separate photos into one, letting Photoshop Elements version 6 stitch them together into this one photo. Click on this image and go look at it in a larger size on my Flickr site where these photos are all hosted.

I love Maui as a place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. I would like to go back sometime in the future but it really is a long way to go and, until that genie builds the bridge, I can't drive our RV over so have to fly and then sleep in someone else's bed. We may go back but I think we are both glad that we did go there together at least once. It is a magical place.

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Friday, March 07, 2008


It is a cranky day today here

Last Sunday evening I found the URL for the Canadian company that actually built the sunroom kit that we ordered from Royal Solariums of Everett, WA. I sent them an email note saying that the cranks for the three opening windows in our sunroom were missing when the kit was delivered. I also told them the contractor who assembled the kit told Royal Solariums that they were missing and I have called R.S. at least twice talking with two different people there. Both told me they would contact the Canadian company and let me know when we would get our cranks.

Monday morning, the first business day after I sent the email note to the Canadian company, Bob from that business called and talked with Pat. She again told him of all the problems we had with Royal Solariums of Everett, WA and that the window cranks were indeed missing. Bob said he would take care of it. So far this sounds a lot like what we have heard before from R.S. (maybe I should change that and call them B.S.) BUT Bob did initiate the call- he DID call us back. Bob also told Pat they had not heard of this problem from B.S.- err, Royal Solariums.

That was four days ago and with an International border for them to cross. The missing cranks arrived today in our mail delivery! That is a company that follows through on their promises and actually delivers what they promise and on time! They are Sunview Solariums, Ltd. of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I had said I'd wait until the room is finished before posting any more photos of it but I have to show you the windows, before and after cranks:

Sunroom construction 18
This view shows the full window, without the crank. The size of the windows is about two feet square and they are an awning type that is supposed to crank out from a hinge at the top. A big advantage of this type window is protection inside if rain starts to fall.

Sunroom construction 19
A closeup view of the mechanism that opens the window, before the crank or its plastic cover is put on. I probably could have made them work with a pair of pliers but was afraid that I might strip or mar the gear the crank goes on so I didn't even try.

Sunroom construction 20
The crank is really a two piece kit and includes a plastic cover that goes on first and covers most of the mechanical part that is encased in the metal cover shown before. In this photo both the plastic cover and the crank itself has been put onto the window previously shown "nude."

Sunroom construction 21
In this view the crank has been extended to its operating position and the window opened a bit over half way. You can see how it pivots out from the hinge in the top. These windows really seem to be well made and should last a long time.

So, you see the title of this post is not at all a reflection on how I am feeling today, as that is quite the opposite of being cranky. I wish they would have been here during the time I was painting and oiling the wood out there for better ventilation but it was going to be critical to have them before really warm weather comes later this spring. Yahoo!

About the only thing still hanging is getting the carpet installed. I went by Home Depot today and paid it in full but found they do not have the carpet in stock so will have to wait for it to come from Georgia, about 7 - 10 days they say. I told them I sure didn't want any long delays with the installers getting the job finished as we had enough of that kind of crap waiting for the unit to be built. They assured me the installers will not be paid until they have finished the job and we sign off on it. So, it sounds now like it will still be a couple of weeks before we can hope to be finished. At least we can use it now although I don't want to put much out there only to have to carry it back inside when the install date does get here. But the cats all like it.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008


The sunroom commeth along

I don't know if that post title is correct English or not but at this point we are so happy to finally have an almost finished sunroom that I really don't care if the word is a real one or not. We got the electrical part finished Sunday evening and all is working fine. It is soooo nice to be able to just flip a switch in the bedroom and have a good light out there. We are also appreciating having two 20 amp circuits so that we can run an electric heater without risk of blowing a breaker on the house circuit that the light out there is on. The heater we plan to use is a small electric fireplace with flames to watch.

Also on Sunday I located the web site URL for the company in Canada that built the sunroom kit and sent them an email about our missing window cranks. A guy named Bob called from there yesterday morning and talked with Pat about that and he said he would put the cranks in the mail right away for us. I don't know if they will come from Saskatchewan or from their US head office in Reno, Nevada, but either way it sounds like they will be here soon. It is nice to find a business that tries pretty hard to have good communications with their customers. He told her they have not heard anything from Royal Solariums of Everett, WA, where we bought the unit, about the cranks missing even though I have been told at least twice by them that the company would be contacted and those cranks ordered.

Last week we picked out a carpet and pad to be installed in the room and the guy doing the actual measuring came yesterday morning to do those measurements and prepare a quote for labor costs. He said we should be contacted by Home Depot within 72 hours to setup a time to have it installed. Of course I'll have to go there and pay for it before they come to install. Once that floor covering is in we can really start moving things in. The cable installer did come last week so the TV connection is there ready to use, but I do need to get something to put it onto. It is a small one, just a 19" HD LCD Sharp brand unit with a built-in DVD player so nothing very large is needed to support it. I'm thinking a small two shelf bookcase would work well and give space to put some other things on also, like DVDs. I will take some photos and post them when we get to that stage, with the carpet in and some furniture in place. But at least it does finally look like we can see the end of the tunnel with this project.

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