Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Sun Room Fan / Home Inventory

When we first bought this distressed farm house three years ago, there was a big 'ol ceiling fan in the downstairs bedroom.  I mean, it was a big 'ol ceiling fan.  Way too big for the room it was in, the blades almost hit the walls.  If there wasn't any furniture underneath it, it could have been like walking into a rotating helicopter blade.  If you were seven feet tall for instance.  And it was on.

Me?  No worries.  I could have jumped up and down on that bed pretending it was a trampoline and not have had a thing to fret about.

However, if your bed was underneath it, you probably wouldn't want to pretend it was a trampoline.  It'd be like bouncing into a guillotine.  I'm sure this was the room the previous owner, Homeboy, played Sky Pilot in.  You know, pretending to be a helicopter pilot, hopping around on the bed and shooting at phantom specters in the night as he came down from tooting organic drain cleaner.

The fan was taken down during our initial pre-move-in refurbishment blitz, which can be read about here at Refreshing Refurbishment.   The fan and all of its components were stored in the garage for 2 1/2 years, kind of sitting off on the side in Project Land.  One side of the garage is for my lovely wife's car, the other side is for projects.  There are always things on the project side of the garage.  It is a never ending saga.

My car sits outside in the elements for all seasons.  It is an Explorer.  Based on its name, it should stay outside.  You know, it needs to stay alert and look around.  Kind of like any car that is named after a dog, or a horse, or a bird.  These vehicles should all stay outside, at least until they're house broken.

My lovely wife has had a new location in mind for this fan since she first walked through the house.   Before we even bought the place.  She has decorating in her blood, besides whimsy and cool.  The fan's new location would be high enough so that one would not have to worry about their carotid arteries if they walked into the room, and the blades would have plenty of room to twist and shout unfettered and free.

Our sun room has a vaulted ceiling, and the fan, too big for a regular eight foot ceiling, was a perfect fit.  She saw that then, through all the colors and musty mist of neglect that held the house hostage.  Back when the room was filled floor to ceiling with lots of crapola.  I just saw lots of crapola.

I try to mix my project up around here.  Some of them are physically taxing, like tree falling.  And subsequent trimming, limb and trunk bucking, hauling, splitting, stacking, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  That and pretty much anything to do with land clearing, like manzanita wrangling or trail blazing.  Then I have many other projects that are not as physically taxing.  So after a day where I have hauled a cord and a half of wood up the hill, and I can't move for aching-but am still up for a project-that's when I'll do things like fans.  Or screens. Or cookies.

So there was Mr. Fan, hanging out and staying loose on the project side of things.  He'd been hanging out for a couple years, getting moved and kicked and bumped and bopped.  He'd been passed over numerous times, many newer projects coming in to Project Land but then going out way before he ever got his chance.  So he just hung out, so to speak, probably listening and lamenting to a lot of Ray Price, as if fans or any other inanimate object could hear.

And while we're on the subject of Ray Price, here's one For the Good Times.


One afternoon, not so long ago, I was scanning Project Land, as I am want to do from time to time or every day.  There wasn't much there.  I've got a couple winter projects languishing, but none besides the fan that needed immediate attention.  His time had come.

Mr. Fan was in back room dusty dang storage condition and had developed one hell of an attitude.  His unconnected blades were light bamboo brown.  His body was black.  He had been moved about thirty-six times since he was placed over there in Project Land amidst a plethora of other sordid ideas. Somehow his clear glass lamp covering remained intact, as did his mini halogen bulb. 

I picked up the the pieces, dusted them off and kicked the entire mess out to the paint room, which consists of a canvas tarp on the driveway.  There they got a full treatment of semi-gloss white.  After the paint job, I put him back together.  It was amazing, after sitting for 2 1/2 years in a project wasteland he was only missing 2 fan blades screws, which could have been missing from the get go.  You know how lackadaisical Homeloaf could get.

The sun room is a lightly insulated fully enclosed room that was built over a deck. I have put window film on the eight single pane windows to help with some insulation, but I put the film on primarily to keep the harmful sunlight out.  We have a couple antiques out there, and we've seen what direct sunlight can do.  To a $2,000 sofa no less.  Turned it into a lighter, different shade of pale over the course of a season.  Trashed it for any kind of formal use.

The sun room is adjacent to our living room, and when we have a house full it is easy to open the French doors to immediately expand the play area.  It's also a great room for the grand kids to watch a movie in when all us adults are yakking away.  The fan will certainly help circulate the air and help keep the room warmer in winter.

I do have some Tyvec as well as light throw rugs down on the decking to help with the updraft.  We also have plans this winter or spring to put some sub-floor down and then figure out what we want the surface to be.  That's my lovely wife's job.  I'm just the under belly guy.

Fan installation is actually pretty easy as long as you have all the parts.  Fortunately I did.  There's a bracket with a saddle that attaches to the ceiling, and then at the top of the fan assembly is usually a ball type affair that slips into the bracket saddle.  There's usually some sort of covering that hides all that bracket and saddle stuff, and then you have the blades, sometimes a light and hopefully some wire.

I was attaching the fan to a wood beam, so I didn't need any sort of special screw that you might if you were going into sheet rock.  I just made sure the screws were good and long, tapped them in through the bracket holes solidly into the wood beam.  Then I slipped the top of the fan assembly into the saddle and it was secure. 

The next step was to get the fan some juice.  There was an old patio light on the sun room wall, hearkening back to the day decades ago when it was just a deck.  I took that vintage piece of Salvation Army dog meat out and put up a junction box in its place.  Then I ran my two wires, heavy gauge copper, black and white, from the box through electrical conduit up the wall and across the beam to the fan.

At the fan, I connected the black and blue wires (one is for the fan motor, the other the light) to the newly run black wire.  Then I connected the white fan wire to the newly run white wire.

Back at the box I connected black to black and white to white and wallah, we have a wonderful working fan.  The light even works.  The shoelace chain extenders shown above will soon be replaced with a hand painted needle point macrame, or just regular fan chain.   Only longer.

The overall install is fairly simple, but do make sure the power is off or you could end up in Siberia, unless you live there already.  In that case you'd probably end up in Jamaica.  Mon.

Home Inventory

Every place in the world, even the universe for that matter, has its hazards.  Who'd want to be the recipient of a direct hit by an asteroid?  Or get sucked into a black hole?  Speaking of which, if you ever do get sucked into that black hole in Oakland Raiderland, make sure you bring some ear protection.  You don't need physical protection, just ear protection.  Contrary to popular belief, everyone's real friendly in that part of the world.  Friendly, but loud.

Black holes aside, every other planet has its hazards.  If you lived on Uranus for instance you'd always get picked on by aliens just because of where you live.  And if you lived on Jupiter you'd probably be haunted by Timothy Leary's ghost. 

Here on planet earth and specifically in America we have our own set of recurring natural disasters and hazards.

The southern and eastern seaboards are always potentially subject to hurricanes, the mid-west has them twisters, the west coast has them earthquakes, Florida has them sinkholes and Kansas has Topeka. 

There's also Lutefisk in Minnesota.  I'm half Norwegian and I don't even begin to understand Lutefisk.

 At all.  Fish puddin?  Are ya kiddin?

Then there are some folks who are subject to flooding from time to time, or every freaking year.  Here's an idea if your house gets flooded every year: MOOOOVE.  

Out here in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of California we don't worry about earthquakes much.  The major faults are elsewhere, and we rarely get more than a light weight tremor or two from a 4.0 a hundred miles away.  It doesn't flood too often above two thousand feet of elevation either.  No hurricanes, no twisters.  And Topeka is a long way off.  What does concern me and a lot of folks out here in the west though are wildfires.

Back in another life and my impetuous youth I was a volunteer firefighter for a few years.  I take flames very seriously.  To that end, land clearing of dead brush all over these 2.6 acres has been a priority for this old man.  I've done an admirable job over these last three years if I do say so myself, doing it all with a chain saw and shovel.   And a set of really good clippers.  About eight pairs of work gloves.  Four pairs of boots.  A lot of sweat.

My only concern is my knucklehead neighbor's acreage next door.  I've got great defensible space all around this house except for that side, which happens to be the side of the property that the house sits closest to.  His house is out of sight and lower than ours, closer to the road.  Less money for a driveway for him, more privacy for us.

BUT, it also means I've got a fire fuel fiesta languishing through the hot summer days about forty feet from my casa.  I've got at least a hundred feet or more of defensible space on every other side, but not on knuckleheads.

I haven't met him yet.  He seems to be more of a car guy than country guy.  Likes his privacy so he can shoot his gun and pee outdoors.  Doesn't give a rats ass about wildfires, safety or defensible space.  Apparently.

Fortunately, on that particular side of the property I've got four water spigots with hose all the way down to the road.  If something wicked this way comes his neighboring brush is going to get saturated.

Now that we know that it doesn't matter where we live, that we're all prone to disaster, that we may just be lucky enough to escape with our lives and all our hard earned stuff is going to go poof, what do we do?   Well, I used to drink copious amounts of alcohol to make the disaster demons go away, now I just eat cookies.  Not a lot, but enough.

Most all of us, at some point or another, begin to accumulate stuff.  It starts out at a young age, with baseball cards and ponies, and then mass marketers make sure we all get a lot of stuff, usually more than we need.  Or can afford.  Most of these disasters shed stuff, or at least make it all unusable.  Nothing like sitting on a sofa after it's been submerged in liquid filth for a week. Squish.  And ah, the sumptuous aroma of gasoline, sewage, latex and cheese puffs in the living room. 

We all pay lots of money for insurance that will supposedly pay us for our stuff if it all goes swimming or say, blows from Oklahoma to Borneo.  Or goes poof in flames.

So, all your stuff is insured, or most of it, right?

So, whaddya got?

Seriously.  Close your eyes for a moment.  Visualize a room.  Hell, visualize the room you're in.  OK, maybe you got the furniture, maybe half the stuff on the walls.  But what's in the drawers?  The closet?

What's in your kitchen cabinets?  The garage?  If you're lucky, you're going to remember half the stuff you own.  Probably not even.

Your insurance company no doubt has an outdated home inventory pamphlet, which is a real hassle and incredibly time consuming to fill out.  So what do you do?

Well, in these days of enlightened modern digital there's a real easy solution.  And it only takes minimal organization.

In another other life, I started a company up here in the hills to take video home inventories for the public at large.  $99 for a video of all your stuff.  I did some print and radio ads.  I think I did ten, maybe fifteen inventories.  And then something else came along that sent me in another direction, otherwise I might have pressed on.

At any rate, even for an extremely good price folks apparently did not want a stranger in their house videotaping all of their belongs.  I was bonded, insured and clean shaven, nevertheless, not very many folks took advantage of that great offer.  We never think disaster is going to come to our front door.  We never think it's gonna happen to us.  We never do.

Well, you can probably talk to countless thousands who have said that and later said @&*$.  In no uncertain terms.  Probably real loud too.

If you don't have a video camera, a digital camera is fine.  I used a $19.95 model with an 8GB card.  I took 862 pictures.  We, apparently, have a lot of stuff.   And I took a lot of photos.

I started at the front of the property and then went all the way up the drive, capturing all the landscape and major trees.   I hit all the outbuildings, close ups of improvements to the exterior (eg: new roof, gutters, screens, awnings etc). Then the garage, the attic and the rest of the interior, room by room.

I opened up cabinets, drawers etc.  I opened the refrigerator and freezer door.  There's a couple hundred bucks of food in there.  Ya'll bought any bacon lately?

I pulled out some items that have higher value and shot them separately.  I took close ups of electronics, making sure the make and model number were visible.  I will also take more photos at Xmas when all that stuff is up. 

After you take the pictures, make several copies of the file.  Make sure to store one copy away from the house, like a safe deposit box or maybe even another state if yours is really prone to disaster. 

It took me about 3 hours to shoot the shots, but it is done.  And if anything happens, were gonna get a lot closer to the amount we're owed than if we didn't have the pictures, guaranteed.

Fowl Update 

Nothing of great import to impart.  Goldie, the Rooster, and his eight girl harem are all doing fine. We're averaging six free range organic eggs a day, everyone seems happy and they all continue to cavort in their own fowl little world.  Favorite treat to date, cooked vermicelli.  They love their pasta!

We're still languishing in late summer temps here in the foothills, and we have been smoke free for a few days now.  Although there have been no close wildfires so far this year, prevailing winds have helped share a lot of that noxious, toxic haze throughout many foothill communities, ours included.  It has even hampered our little Western day light view a few times, although the shroud does help stimulate quite colorful sunsets.

The ironwood front porch decking just received a couple coats of Watco Danish Oil Finish.  It is now ready to receive any and all as our sunset season comes back into range for the next six months.

If you're in the area around sunset, stop on by for a little orange sky.  It's a delight every time.