Sunday, April 24, 2011


A framed Bread & Puppet poster outside the first floor bath

A oil-pastel of the yurt hanging in the stairway positioned essentially where the window view corresponds to the view in the image.
A close up of the yurt oil-pastel

The vanity in progress

We've started hanging bits of artwork here and there.

It is (for me at least) a somewhat cautious process of pulling things out and thinking about what might go well in any given spot. Its not like we've got a massive trove of great artwork, but we've got a few things and its fun to contemplate putting them up. I find when we do, it adds a sense of completion to an area or a place that is very satisfying.

I was a Fine Arts major in college and did a bunch of painting over the years. I've also done woodblock prints as well and it'll be fun to dig into some long-packed away work and see if there is anything that merits hanging on our walls. In actuality, I've given a lot of my best pieces to other people as gifts, so I doubt there is too much that I'd really feel that enthusiastic about hanging up.

Nancy was a Peace Corp volunteer in Papua New Guinea in the late eighties and acquired a number of really cool figures, masks, spears and other local craft that is also really fun to think about finding a home for in the house.

Unrelated to any of this I've been busy building a vanity in the second floor bathroom that will be housed behind the hanging mirror that we've had in place for the last couple of months. I want it to work so that the mirror still hangs off the wall at the slight downward angle that it does when it hangs from a nail. That is making the execution a little more complicated, but I think it'll work out pretty good once its all together.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A tale of two bulbs

A standard "Edison-base" lamp mount on the left and a "pin-base" lamp holder on the right.

Today we had our final visit from Efficiency Vermont which is the organization that encourages, measures, and rewards efforts towards energy efficiency in Vermont businesses and homes. Although we were attentive to meeting the required standards put forth to qualify for Energy Star rating and meet the requirements for the various incentives, I must admit I didn't actually hone in on what we needed to do to meet these points until fairly late in the game, basically confident in the knowledge that the standards to which we were building would far and away exceed their minimums.

Lighting was the one area that I struggled a bit with. In order to meet the standards set for our home we needed to have a minimum of 10 pin-based light fixtures in main living areas. "Pin-based" means what it implies, and ensures that the only lights that will work in it are florescent bulbs, guaranteeing reduced electrical consumption because you can't just throw in an incandescent bulb if you feel like it.

Early on Nancy and I went to a couple of lighting stores with "pin-based" fixtures in mind to look at the selection and were quite underwhelmed. I would say that maybe 1 or 2 percent of the available fixtures were of this type, usually housed in some neglected back alcove. As long time readers will recall, soon after this experience I became fixated on building my own light fixtures and discovered that I could build almost any light fixture with a pin-base, and so many of the lamps throughout the house now feature this type of lamp base.

Additionally, we purchased some LED recessed down-lights for the living room and a series of mini-florescent bulb-fixture combinations that are mounted in the track over our counters in the kitchen.

In advance of the visit from Efficiency Vermont I knew we were in pretty good shape, but I was a little uncertain if groups of lights would count as "a light" or as individual units, so I made sure we had the required minimum, even by conservative measures.

In the end we passed the needed minimums just fine. The irony is that we would be using mostly florescents even if we weren't incentivized to do so and the light bulbs that fit pin-based lamps are actually more expensive than the Edison-based florescents that you frequently see for sale.

The expectation is that in a few years the pin-based requirement will be outdated because you will not be able to buy incandescents any longer, so there will be no need to require a special mounting base. I suspect that as the pin-based bulbs die out I will rebuild the fixtures so that we only need to have one type of bulb on hand.

You might be interested to know that we expect to receive somewhere in the neighborhood of $3000 in various incentives, rebates, and rewards for meeting the required guidelines. We will also be given what is known as a HERS rating, which stands for Home Energy Rating System and is a standardized number that allows comparison with other buildings and buildings in other regions. More about this later.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Photo Shoot

above photos: Teri Maher

Today was our big publicity day, such as it is. Our friend Teri came over to take some pictures of the house with the paint colors in place that she consulted with us about way back last fall. When she first came over there wasn't much for her to work with: unpainted sheetrock and only the vaguest of ideas of what we wanted on our part.

With the house fully painted and mostly complete, visitors often remark on the great colors and we have Teri to thank for this. We knew we wanted to be adventurous, but it was her that got us there.

Teri spent the afternoon here today taking pictures for her website and other publicity as she establishes her interior design company. I helped her by supplying furniture and various objet d'art that I thought might be useful. She has a great sense for this kind of thing and Nancy and I kept going "cool" at the various set ups she created.

Teri has a website which is just getting off the ground and can be found here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Our friend (and frequent blog commenter) Wendy sent us this great door knocker a few months ago. It took us a while to get the time to install it, but here it is. As beekeepers it's perfect. We are also seeing the bees out with the recent spring days, so the timing seems right. It's also just kinda fun and not too serious. Thanks Wendy!

I've been at work tidying up lingering items such as the rest of the track lighting in the kitchen, repairing a leaky water line to the garden stand pipe, building an integrated shelf and grow-light unit for a spring seedlings in the big living room window.