Monthly Archives: September 2013

And how’d the rest of the summer go?

bike parking work party

bike parking work party

One more month and we’ll be celebrating 5 years of the ecoplex! I find it funny that I find so little time to update this blog now, since in many ways my life has gotten way less busy since the beginning, but also less structured and structure helps me fit things in, I guess.

So the community garden sheet mulch beds are a raging success – they were very, very productive and beautiful (well, still are…only had one night of light frost so far).

Baby birds were finally born on-site as mama-duck hatched her first two ducklings. Sadly, one didn’t make it, but the black duckling is almost full grown and beautiful!

I finished up the remodel of the first floor unit (#3) and moved out – it’s lovely even if I never got around to replacing the vinyl kitchen flooring or adding more natural lighting.

The finished yellow bedroom - new paint, re-plastered ceiling, new light

The finished yellow bedroom – new paint, re-plastered ceiling, new light

I finally fulfilled my dream to live in the basement apartment (#4). It’s also a 2-bedroom, but osh and I both have our beds in one room, so there was a spare room. Rented the first floor apartment and my extra room in the basement apartment to a good friend and her roommates, and I am really enjoying the community! I do have to adjust to sharing spaces and objects though. Last night I got out a drinking glass to use as a cookie cutter, then decided I had to let the dough sit a bit longer. I came back to the kitchen later and rolled out my dough. Then I turned the glass over to cut cookies and poured water all over the rolled out dough! Of course my second thought (after the inevitable swear words in my mind) was to tell this funny story of assuming no one but me was acting on the objects in my kitchen to my housemate.

My new housemates and I formed a work party and finally made bike parking! Well, the roof isn’t on yet, but we have the 4×4 and 4×6 corner posts for a shed roof (salvaged from a fence I am tearing down and other sources) and 5 inverted ‘U’ shaped racks made from 1.5″ galvanized steel pipe and 90degree elbows. The U’s (or n’s) are 5′ long but 2′ is buried in concrete in the ground with 3′ sticking up. They are 1′ wide and spaced 3′ from each other (I’ll get a picture up someday!) A bike can be locked to each side of each inverted U, for an easy 10 bikes, with plenty of space in between to avoid locking peddles and handlebars. Total cost ~$300 so far – mostly for pipe and ready-mix concrete. Will probably spend more on polycarbonate clear roof panels.

Also, last week I figured out my roof had been leaking for a while, as rain water came in around the fan in my dad’s unit (#2). Turns out whoever put on the metal roof years ago never flashed or cricketed around the chimney, they just gooped up the gap with roofing tar stuff. I figured it out pretty fast, but my fix is only temporary – I used some aluminum tape as weak flashing and Henry’s to re-goop. It should last through til spring and I had the materials on hand. It will give me time to figure out if I can do repairs myself, if I should hire it done, or if I should replace the boiler with a high-efficiency condensing unit and rip out the chimney all together (I should, but I don’t have the $ on hand and am reluctant to take out a loan for this).

That’s the big stuff, here’s a summary by category of other summer happenings:

Efficiency and funtional improvements to the ‘plex:
-efficient Panasonic whisper wall fan installed in #3 on a motion sensor switch
-range hood fan in #3 routed to outside (instead of going only to a filter in the hood).
-afore-mentioned bike parking
-storm door mounted on North side door.
-broken dishwasher in #3 replaced with energy star model
-fan in #4 bath put on humidity sensor
-triple pane insulated-frame (U=.13) fiberglass windows ordered from Greatland in Fairbanks to replace the broken and old wood-framed windows in upstairs bath’s (#1 and #2)

A visit to Greatland Window in Fairbanks!

A visit to Greatland Window in Fairbanks!

-3 more Panasonic fans (whisper-green 50cfms) ordered for other 3 baths
-while cleaning water from roof leak out of attic, air sealing attic floor better.

Local food things:
-went dipnetting at Chitina again, tried to make Botargo from salmon roes – smells nasty, but tastes ok, haven’t really done anything with it yet

Rolling salted sockeye roe to make botargo

Rolling salted sockeye roe to make botargo

-collected bountiful poppy seed harvest and made hammentaschen:
making hammentaschen with homegrown poppy seeds

making hammentaschen with homegrown poppy seeds

-grew lots of turnips as usual
-another great fruit year! All the cherries died back so much they didn’t produce, but have 5 apple pies in the freezer and ate countless berries.
-Also a great mushroom year – found some edible agaricus in the front yard that were delish. Decided that hawk’s wings (shingled hedgehog) not worth any effort to parboil out bitterness – yuck! Dried plenty of boletus.

I am working both of my jobs from home now. I have mostly settled in to that, although having 2 different things to do on two different work computers can be a challenge. I manage my website most mornings for about 3 hours before my son gets really up and about, and fit the other in when I need to or can. Osh is homeschooling this year, but he is in a program that includes core classes taught for 4 hours on tues and thurs with a ton of homework. The homework is painful. But it is nice to not have to get up early every weekday and rush off to school. He gets a ride to class, and it doesn’t start until 10am. SO generally life is, or should be, pretty relaxed. With getting work done early or taking computers with me we have been able to visit my mom in Oregon for a week, go to Salmonstock music fest, camp and travel the state in the middle of the week, etc. On the other hand, I often work a bit 7 days of the week. So each day is chill, but no day is totally relaxing. Also, while not too bad, the lack of imposed structure can paradoxically make it harder for me to fit in errands or other routines like posting to this blog. And just when I think I’m going to get a break from working on the ‘plex, the roof leaks (for example). But generally I’m done with aesthetic building remodeling, and plan to just catch up on and do functional repairs as needed, which should make for a less stressful existence. My current housemates are a great community, and I look forward to other joint, mutually beneficial, projects. Having my friend move in to my spare room means that I can (and have had to) get rid of some of my stuff-accumulation (we only need one tea kettle, and why did I have four 1/3 C measuring cups?) I enjoy the extra company, the help with cleaning, and all the other benefits.

SO that’s the update! I’m looking forward to a quiet winter, so maybe I’ll have time for more in depth posts on some things – like bike parking specifics.