Softening the Hardscape

As previously described, I’m incredibly lucky to have a large shop on our property in the form of a four-bay garage. However, being a four-bay garage, it sits as a rather large and imposing structure at the top of our driveway. It’s not exactly inviting.

In an attempt to rectify this, I decided what was needed were some wooden planters filled with colorful flowers. This would soften the brown and brick façade and also give me a relatively quick and easy weekend project to work on.

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For the Bird(houses)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy working on a wide variety of projects, including rebuilding small engine carburetors, taking down fencing, building garden plots, creating a wildflower field, replacing a well pump, and minor auto repairs, among other things.

It’s one of the “other things” I’m writing about today: building and hanging birdhouses. A dozen of them, actually, from small chickadee abodes to huge owl boxes. They’re fun to build, relatively easy, relatively cheap and provide joy for years. Building them is the easy part. The hard part is mounting them high enough on trees. But that’s nothing a little cleverness can’t solve.

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The Power of the Electric Meter

One of the few improvements we made to our house after moving in was to replace the roof and to install a solar array. I love the environmental aspect of solar, as well as the prospect of cheaper electricity, but perhaps the coolest aspect of the solar system is the ability to monitor its energy production through an app or website. And, as I later learned, it could also tell me how much energy I was consuming. Unfortunately, getting that information proved tricker than I thought.

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A Dog’s Breakfast

It was a little over 13 years ago that our family brought a little chocolate bundle of joy into our lives. Milo joined our family as a palm-sized pup, but being a Labrador Retriever, he displayed an unflinching devotion to his food bowl and quickly ate his way into adulthood. I like to think he loves us, as we love him, but we also know that when the chips are down, Milo will absolutely snarf up those chips — and plead for more.

Recently, though, his food fixation has become increasingly disruptive. So much so, we’ve had to take action. And, I’m pleased to say, that required a trip to the woodshop.

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Invasion of the Smart Thermostats

One of my favorite shows when I was kid was Beyond 2000, which I loved for a variety of reasons: the geekiness, the environmental hopefulness, the futuristic optimism, and let’s not forget the Australian accents. I think it always left with me an idealistic vision of how technology could not only be used to improve lives, but also solve real problems.

I don’t know if the show holds up, and if I’m being honest, I can’t say I remember too many specifics from the show — it’s been decades since I’ve seen it. I do recall one episode featuring an indoor ski slope in a Japanese mall — ok, hardly solving real world problems — but I know others definitely dealt with renewable energy and things of that sort. Ever since, I’ve wanted to try to bring some of that Beyond 2000 future into my actual life.

And that is how I ended up with 11 smart thermostats in a house for two people. 🤪

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