Sunday, April 28, 2019

Battery Backed-up Sump

 Because our basement was built with stone walls, water has an easy job getting it. Back when we bought the place, that was one of Dad's main concerns. In fact, after we had committed to buying, he happened to drive by and see Sam (the previous owner) hauling a hose out the south door. He was pumping water out of the basement.

 So an early purchase was a sump pump. Dad wanted a sump pit installed in the basement and a dependable pump always at the ready. That was easier said than done. First, the basement leaked water at a rate that most portable pumps couldn't handle. And when a plumber installed a sump pit (a plastic container, about the size of a small garbage can, set into the concrete  floor) we found it mere hours later lifted up out of the floor as though it had returned from the grave.

 Needless to say the plumber came back and did the job over again. How? The plastic container was weighted down while the concrete set in place. One disaster averted.

 Over the years, I took care of part of the problem but burying an underground discharge pipe that empties into the driveway. As it was, the water was pumped out and the same water quickly flowed back in. Once we got the discharge far from the house, the amount of water subsided.

 Problem solved? Not quite. We found the next weak in the chain to be Dayton Power & Light. They had - and still do - a serious problem keeping the electric on. Without power the sump was useless.

 Once, within the past year, the power went out on a rainy day. I went to the Y as planned, thinking that not too much water could seep in in about two hours. But while I was gone there was a deluge. I came home to find the power back on ... but a telltale water mark on the basement walls that was a full 5" above the floor.

 Through the years we've had an 1800 watt generator to handle those power emergencies. But recent;y that unit failed and I found it is no longer made (it was a Toro circa 1984). Parts are no longer available.

 What to do? Here's the sump that we've had for 32 years. It's been very dependable - when it has power:

 The discharge pipe is in the middle. The smaller white PVC pipe coming in from the left carries condensate from our HVAC. The mercury float switch (left side of pit) has never failed.

 Last fall I talked to a local friend who had the same problem. She said they bought a battery backed-up sump. They had it installed by Pester Plumbing. I asked for details and found that their pump was a Glentronics Inc. PHCC-1000 Pro Series.

 Glentonics makes three models - 1000, 1850 and 2400 gallons per hour. The smallest pump should handle our needs. On April 1, 2019 I signed a contract to have one installed. On April 11 Brian was sent to do the installation.

 After working in the basement for a short while he came back up and told me, "I've got some bad news". The unit had been broken in shipping (one of the two float switches was broken). He said he'd get another ordered and they'd call me with a new installation date. That was April 25.

 Here's the sump pit with the two pumps side-by-side:

 The battery-operated pump is on the right and the control unit is attached to the white PVC pipe on the right.It is smart enough to alert us of a power failure and pump as needed. The unit can pump for 50 hours at a 10% duty cycle. It has an audible alarm.

 I was happy to have it installed just before a heavy rain event. Since it was installed we've had 1.77" of rain.

 Friday night, though, the rain stopped for a bit and the stars came out. At 2:15 am I awoke and saw that we had no power. The new pump was beeping to let us know. Though the power was only off for an hour, I heard it pump once.

 So the timing was right.

 At $799 installed, this was quite an investment. A new generator would have been much cheaper. But a generator requires starting and this system is automatic. That's worth the extra cost to me.

 I hope this gives us good service and peace of mind with our constant power outrages.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Trees Flowering

 This is a magical time of year ... maybe only a week long when the trees in our yard all seem to bloom at once. There are magical tassels hanging on all the maples giving the blue sky a blush of gold. The redbuds have fired, too ... and fire is the word. The simple, skinny branches have swollen with purple-red flowers and the view has become suddenly startling.

 This is my favorite, though. The maple closest to the kitchen is flowering and the flowers descend on bright, yellow threads. There is no time, not even fall when the tree burns red, that I find it as magical as this. I walk by the back door and I forever am compelled to stop and stare. I can't quite believe that this tree has awakened from its winter quiet to this commanding explosion.

 Looking straight up into yesterday's blue sky, shows the contrast of dark branches and budding gold.

 The tree is nestled near the northwest corner of the house and becomes the largest blooming plant we have here. It is alien, other-worldly. For now, it does not belong to Earth.

 Who could imagine something this large tree creating so many flowers?

 When at last the sun sets, the tree blazes all the more. We are tempted by delicate gold strands, suddenly with immeasurable value and ones which would seem to make a fine necklace if picked at once.

 Looking back at the house from the rear of the property, the maple looms high above the garage and dwarfs the hidden house beneath. It will be a common green in another week, all distinction lost.  Now are its glory days.

 The dogwood blooms its pink flowers, too, though not so impressive as when first bought a year ago. It will have to settle in, find its way, accept that here it will spend all its days. But the redbuds - Dad's favorites - are now at their peak and command we see pink-purple in their direction.

 This is an easily broken tree, fast to root beside local roads. It is a natural here and seems to grow anywhere. And yet these seem to have a short life, quick to spread and grow, quick to die. It is too pretty to last.

 May is just over a week away and all these sights will become memories for another year. They come and go with rapid abandon and their brief blooms are where the sweetness lies.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

When a Tree Falls ...

 We've had a rough go of it here at Pinehaven. Many of our precious pines have died in the past decade. Most, I think, have succumbed to age and climate. One has now fallen to the wind.

 Back in February, a large pine at the north side of the back yard toppled to the east. It was caught by two other smaller pines and stood there at perhaps a 45° angle for nearly two months.


 We have debated how to get it the rest of the way to the ground. In fact Bob suggested stopping by this weekend and trying to pull it down with his truck. I told him just yesterday that I thought more rain Thursday night would make the ground too soft for that and that we should hold off.

  February winds were responsible for the tree falling. On February 24 we had a wind gust of 54 mph and that did the tree in. I'm not sure when this tree was planted but it was here (and already large) when  we moved here in 1987.




 The tree was literately snapped off at the base by the high wind. It fell towards the east but was caught by two Scotch pines that I planted soon after we moved here.

 Tom had cut the lower limbs, thinking that the tree could be dismantled piece by piece. At least it would be made lighter while we debated how to bring it down the rest of the way.


 Yesterday when I finished mowing I surveyed the yard and noticed that the tree seemed to be leaning further. I snapped this shot and sent it to Tom. "Hasn't the busted pine fallen over farther?" I asked him.


 It was just seven minutes later when I was mixing lawn chemicals and filling the applicator with water at the frost-free spigot by the garden. That's when I heard an enormous C-R-A-C-K and looked up to see the tree fall to the ground with a thud. I"m sure I felt the earthquake travel up my legs.


 The tree could not have been dropped with more skill. The two pines that held it aloft slowly lost their grip and it fell between them. The one tree remains a bit bowed and I suppose it was the one that carried most of the weight for nearly two months.

 Though yesterday was sunny and warm (73°) it wasn't particularly windy. There was just a gentle breeze from the west. But the past couple of days have recorded gusts to nearly 30 mph and back on April 11-12, we peaked at 32 mph. Those winds likely added the pressure necessary to bring it down.

 Nature works by slow processes, barely visible to us. But it is relentless, tugging with tenacity, making change bit by bit.

 So yet another pine is lost

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

8060 FWC

 Tom's been considering a house on Farmersville - West Carrollton Road. There were two "inspections" (March 23 and April 3). Yesterday (April 9) we attended the actual auction. Though Tom considered the place perfect, it finally sold for $102.000.
 Tom wasn't prepared to put down the required amount of earnest money (immediately upon a successful bid) so he backed away. Only two actually made bids (which started at $150k).

Credit: Google Maps 

Kitchen - facing east

 This is the kitchen, facing east. One known problem with the house was that there was a roof leak above the kitchen. And the oil furnace's condition was unknown. The house was being sold "as is" and would have represented a considerable investment to get it up to the usual standards. That said, it certainly was a beautiful old place (built in 1875) and offered great potential.

Living room facing east.

Living room facing west

Rear view of the property

Rear view of the barn

West side of house

Front view of house

East view of house

Second floor bathroom

Second floor bedroom

First floor bedroom

First floor bathroom

Dining room facing south

Wood stove in dining room - oddly angled

Garage - easily room for several cars

Loft storage area in garage

Barn - east end

Barn - west end

Towering sycamore in the back field

Tom admires an old Ford tractor on the property 

Kitchen stove - looks antique but modern 

Kitchen looking south

 The lights above the sink are electrified even though they are the old gas variety.

 Considering that the place included 10 acres, the $102k was probably a great deal. But there was a lot of work awaiting the buyer. Also, the property is taxed as a farm and if it becomes residential taxes will rise. Though Tom would have bid, I think the time wasn't right.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Pinehaven Oatmeal Cookies

 It's time to bake something. I'm in the mood for something not quite so sweet this week. How about oatmeal cookies? I dug out Mom's recipes and this one is from 1957. I remember this cookie well. I was just eight years old and Bob was just one.

Mom modified the original recipe many times and penciled notes. I made use of most of her revisions.

Pinehaven Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup margarine
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups bread flour (regular flour is fine, too)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups oats (I used Quick Oats)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup nuts (I used walnuts)

Soften margarine, combine with sugar.
Add everything except flour (which will allow the ingredients to mix well) and nuts
Mix everything thoroughly
Add nuts, then add flour last
I dropped the dough onto a non-stick cookie sheet with a mini ice cream scoop
Bake at 350° for 15 minutes
Makes 45 cookies

 The original recipe calls for this  to make six dozen cookies. Those would be far too small for my liking. That's also why the original  recipe calls for 12-15 minutes baking time.

 I lay cookies out to cool on parchment paper. A cut-up paper sack will work as well.

 This is an excellent oatmeal cookie. You might substitute dates for the raisins and you could use about any nut you desire.

 I've already sampled ... along with a cup of hot, black coffee. Couldn't be better.

Monday, April 1, 2019


 Few things offer the warm memory I have of "Bumpty", an antique wooden pinball game my paternal grandparents had. Both my brother and I would play the game when we were at their house. I could hear the trigger in my mind's eye, feel the metal balls scooting across the wooden surface, count the points at the end of every game.

 When my grandmother died, we had the game here for a short while. But we already had one - a cheap, more-modern knock off, that didn't offer the same feel. Mom gave Bumpty to Bob and we kept my grandfather's ceramic pig. Fair is fair.

 But whatever happened to Bumpty? I asked Bob and he said he hadn't seen it in years and had no idea where they had placed it. He knew he had it but that was about it.

 Yesterday I received a text message  from him. It contained just two words: Found it !!!!

 Last evening he and Nancy brought it by. I've played it a number of times since. Today's electronic games have nothing on Bumpty.

 It has a wire stand on the back to hold it at the proper angle.

 You pull back on this plunger and let a single ball go. When all ten balls have been played you count up the points. High score wins, of course. The "blue ball" (first in line in this picture) creates double points for wherever it lands. A "double" between the middle two cups doubles everything.

 Get the blue ball in the double slot and you double-double the total score. This is the gold standard of the game ... and not easily done.

 So when was this made and by whom? This game was my fathers; he was born in 1924. Though I've not found much information about Bumpty on the Internet, it's likely it was made the same time as other similar designs: in the 1930's.

 On the back of the wooden case is this:

 It appears to say "NORTHWESTERN MA . BOX CO . ST LOUIS, MO"
 But I can find nothing about that firm at all.

 Can anyone help?