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Sunday, October 10, 2010

What's New At The New World

So what's new up at Cascade Bluff, other than fabulous autumn colors? (More of that in another post to come!) Well, lots of new things are happening. First things we noticed on arrival on Sept 18th were these giGUNDO new boulders. Dean Berneking, who really rocks, liberated these from their former resting place and artistically placed them near our main entrance. The guys were a bit worried that we weren't rock lovers and had left us some anxious messages to call right away and let them know what we thought. We should really give Dean and Chris a tour of Kathy's office back in Bloomington-- she has boxes of rocks, bowls of rocks, jars of rocks... every horizontal surface is COVERED with rocks. No worries, gents, we love the rocks!

A few more of Dean B's great-lookin' big boulders...

We have new stairs from the outside to our deck, with a small landing deck that looks north and west...

...where we have already camped out at night with blankets to watch the stars! Nice!

Here are the guys taking a short lunch break. Kathy and Morgan the Wonder Dog are supervising...

The generator is now fully operational! Brian Bennett and Randy Hodel were so engaged in their work that they never slowed down, not even to pose for a photo for the blog. All work and no play, guys...

We also are now the proud owners of a "new" (actually refurbished) 1000 gallon liquid propane tank, being delivered by Como Oil and Propane. The less often they have to grind the gears and get the tanker truck up our very steep hill, the more they like it!

The itty bitty 500 gal tank is being hoisted away. The LP tank has kind of a nice view of the maples, doesn't it?

And then, in our ongoing attempt to use the least amount of propane imaginable, so that tanker doesn't have to make that climb so often, we had a visit from Jim Mattson the plumber... Nope, no toilets were plugged...

We've installed two solar thermal panels on our roof! These panels collect heat from the sun, and are considerably more efficient than the photovoltaic panels at collecting solar energy.

They are filled with a form of antifreeze and bring a loop of heated material down into the house, into the utility room...

...where Jim has installed a solar domestic hot water tank, powered by the panels! That's the new tank behind him with those big black insulated pipes coming down from above. A loop of heated antifreeze goes into the tank and heats the water. When the sun is out (even in winter--it's the light, not the outdoor temperature), two panels are plenty to heat all the water we need. If the sun's hiding, we still have our propane fired boiler to back us up. The two systems are linked so if we've got lots of sun-charged hot water, the boiler does not need to run, other than in winter for the in-floor heat (which requires a much lower temp.) Slick!

Also new are the pavers Chris and Nick are installing at the entry and around the west and south sides. They look great, and they are quite comfortable to walk on barefoot...

...and they are made of recycled tires and plastic that would otherwise go to landfills. These are made by a company called VAST (see their new link on the sidebar). They're pretty much indestructible, each weighs a few ounces, and they never fade or crack with harsh weather. They install over a premade grid so they don't slide around or shift out of place too!

Nick's preparing the sand bed for the path going to the foot of the new stairway. We'll have a paver patio on the south side of the house, too.

Now don't be thinkin' that all Val and Kathy did was lie around eating bon bons on this trip! This gorgeous photo is actually posted to show you the very nicely manicured entrance to the trail, around 3/4ths of a mile long, that starts off our driveway and goes right through the maple forest, then up to the top of the bluff and back down to the house. Looks inviting, doesn't it?

Here's Val running the Bush Whacker that we borrowed from her Dad--basically an enormous weed trimmer with a blade instead of a nylon string, to speed up the otherwise very slow task of clipping and sawing our way through the forest. Kathy came after with the standard clippers and cleaned up the smaller stuff.

But lest you worry that Kathy didn't get to play with any of the big toys, here she is on Keith's ATV (we're borrowing that for a while, too!) hauling (predictably) rocks! The northland is more or less filled with rocks, of course, but these had to be special rocks...

...to place around the bases of all the big posts that hold up our deck!

That is a LOT of rocks, folks, we have twelve posts! Or is it fourteen...
Whew, those rocks were heavy!

And speaking of mechanical toys, these friendly wind-up creatures (and some not so friendly--you gotta watch out for Nunzilla!) made the journey from our kitchen shelves in Bloomington to our kitchen shelves at Cascade Bluff! Fear not, however--there are still plenty more back at the big city home!


But despite all the hard work, we enjoyed many quiet evenings by the fire...

...and the view isn't new at all... except that it is new, every single moment.

We never get tired of Silvery Superior! More posts coming soon -- yah sure, d'ere's some new t'ings coming at da New Vorld... new HOT things!