Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Poo Chronicles

Alaskans have unique relationship to their waste stream. And sewage in particular. I was recently at an all women's dinner party where the topic of sewage captivated the crowd for a good 20 minutes; one woman, an engineer in designer jeans claimed 'I LOVE inspecting people's septic tanks.' Really. Keeping one's systems 'a go' during the long winter is a huge challenge. Like several other homes on our block, we have a personal sized, above ground 'Extreme Sewage Treatment Plant' (ExtremeSTP). This is pretty much what it sounds like. Bad stuff goes in, good stuff goes out. The ground is simply too frozen for a septic tank.

Well, we didn't quite get around to checking all of our plumbing heat trace over the summer and we're paying the price now. A few weeks ago we replaced the ~40feet of output pipe from the STP because it was entirely blocked with ice. All of this at -40 in the dark. The bathroom sink hot water invariably freezes every night and must be thawed every morning. Finally, this last week, the entire toilet line froze. So it was a matter of thawing the contents, tearing out the old insulation, adding a functional heat trace, and replacing the insulation. Pretty awful. But we learned a lot about our house in the process!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Crawling Toward the Finish Line

Well, there are still a few details left, but we are very close to having finished our kitchen renovation. Hence no posts for many months. In an earlier post you can see what was a dark, cold, ugly cabin.

Some in-between pictures show us laboriously replacing the electricity, framing in the walls, adding insulation, a vapor barrier, and drywall. New doors went in. A solid oak floor took nearly a week of our labor. We painted the cabinets and put on new handles. A local hardwood specialist made us an ash countertop.

Bob washed 30 years of grime off the wood ceiling. That was pretty gross. We took out the old propane lights and added new track lighting and a chandelier.

Finishing touches included curtains and some additional chairs from Ikea. The rug is a Navajo antique that belonged to my grandmother.

We kept all of the old appliances for now, but added a dish washer...that was possibly the best part of all.

Where We've Been

Everyone loves a great 'before' and 'after' picture. Bob was the official documentary photographer on our cabin renovation. I'll let his pictures speak for themselves. The top picture was taken in June and the bottom one in early November.