Moving on

I guess I’ll just come out with it.  Wilbur passed away shortly after Thanksgiving.  We’ve both been reluctant to post to the blog since then because we knew we’d have to say something but didn’t know how much to put out there.  Though Wilbur lived here with us only for the last few months, Matt has known and loved Wilbur since he was a puppy, and he really was a great dog.  He died peacefully at home with both of us at his side and petting him.  It was very emotional for us, and maybe sometime we’ll write more about it.  RIP, Wilbur.


Tags: Wilbur dogs loss

Snow day!

Last week Matt finished installing our final new window, so we now have a full set!  They are fantastic, and we’ll tell you more about them soon.  Yesterday I used the Great Stuff low-expanding foam to insulate between the window frames and the rough openings. Here it is curing, yet to be trimmed (easily done with a razor blade or a serrated knife).

I had already done four windows a few weeks ago, but was waiting on the final window to do the last batch.  The cans of foam are pretty much one-time-use since the foam will cure in the straw and block it, so it seems more efficient to do several windows at once.  Boy does that insulation make a big difference.  It was getting cold outside and some condensation was forming on the inside of the nailing fins.  I could even feel a cold breeze coming in around the edges of the window frames.  After the insulation, no more cold air!  It was just in the nick of time.  We woke up this morning to this:

Wilbur was the first one outside to check it out.  He loves it!

Early in the day we had maybe an inch of snow on the ground.  Seattle doesn’t usually get snow that sticks, so this is pretty exciting for us. 

Amazingly, it stayed cold all day and the snow kept falling.  We ended up with a few inches of fluffy, dry snow.  Here it is piled up on the fence and sticking to the old picture window.


Rob knocked on the door and invited us to come play outside with several of the neighbors.  We had a blast making a 6 foot tall snowman.  “With a corncob pipe coffee bean mouth and a button mustard bottle nose and two eyes made out of coal beer cans.”  Classic.  Oh and his neck tie is made of a piece of old wiring we recently pulled out of the wall.

Rob is hoping it will get on the news.  Several people gave us the thumbs up as they drove by at 5 mph.  Now we are warm and cozy in our mostly insulated house.  Even in the middle of winter, it is uncommon for the temperature to drop below freezing here, but it will be in the 20s and maybe even the teens this Thanksgiving week.  I’m so glad we got the house buttoned up just in time.


Dog Door

For four years, we lived in rentals with a dog.  Having the freedom to install a dog door was honestly one of my most frequently thought-of reasons for owning a home.  Sometimes dogs have to pee early in the morning when I like to sleep in.  Sometimes they get sick and want to go outside in a hurry, and it’s much more pleasant for them and for people if they can get outside quickly.  And old Wilbur’s greatest joy in life is being inside the house, so I didn’t want to relegate him to the yard for long periods of time.  Soon after Wilbur came home with us, we installed the dog door.  It was a pretty straightforward process, though it did take some time.  Here’s how it went:

1. Complete 6 foot fence around back yard.

2. Get dog.

3. Realize the antique screen door will have to go.

4. Do a bunch of research and choose a type of door.  I considered the ones that unlock or even open magically when a pet wearing the magnetic or electronic “key” collar approaches, and while I liked the enhanced security aspect, I decided the simplicity of the traditional flap made more sense for us.  I then proceeded to choose pretty much the most expensive flap door possible: the Endura Flap.  But with a solid frame construction, effective seals to keep cold air from constantly leaking in, and a 10 year warranty on the flaps, it might be worth it, especially if when we replace the back door and have to uninstall and reinstall the dog door one or more times.

5. Check for proper door sizing using dog, treats, and a piece of cardboard.

6. Order door.  Receive door. 

7. Trace included template on door.  Check for level.

8. Take door off hinges.

9. Use jigsaw to cut hole.

10. Cut some 2x4s [Edit: whoops, I meant 1x4s] to attach to the ridiculously thin panel of the door so that the double-flap (more energy efficient) model will fit.

11. Get rid of the routed edge around the panel using the Fein multimaster and a chisel.

12. Drill, countersink and screw the 2x4s to the door.

13. Put the door back on its hinges.

14. Follow directions to install the dog door frame, including make sure it’s level.

15. Attempt to use wood filler to cover the screws and joints between pieces of wood.  Fail “Buy some experience,” as Matt’s grandpa says.  Figure out why technique was no good and led to ugly cracks.

16. Use birthday gift of blade/carving set to remove wood filler and redo the job better.  Decide that wood filler is ok on the screws but caulk is better for the joints between pieces of wood - at least on the exterior side.  Yes, Matt really got this for me for my b-day, and yes, I do appreciate gifts like this.

17. Caulk the interior joint between the two sides of the frame so the cut part of the door won’t be exposed to water.

18. Teach dog to use his door by throwing treats through while holding the flap open. Rejoice when he starts using it on his own after only one day.

19. Procrastinate on painting the door, figuring it will be more efficient to do it when we’re already painting siding and trim in the not too distant future.

20. Enjoy happy dog.  Sleep in.  Start next project.


Edit: The dog door came with a panel that locks it from the inside, so if Wilbur isn’t home to guard the house, we can still keep intruders out.

Introducing Wilbur

First, let me apologize for not posting anything lately.  We have had so much going on for the past couple months that we just fell out of the blogging routine.  How ironic that when we have the most interesting developments to share, we are too busy to share them.  Now that that’s out of the way, check out our new(ish) family member!

He requires an introduction in the blog if only because I have some dog-related DIY projects to post later.  Wilbur is 13 years old, 75 lbs, and an unknown mix of breeds we’d guess may include Chow, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, and who knows what.  Matt’s family adopted him from a local shelter when he was a puppy.  A few years ago, Wilbur moved in with Matt’s aunt and uncle, joining four other dogs. Here he is with his former buddies (and yes, the obviousness of the photoshopping is intentional - where was she when I took this picture?):

It was a great home for him, but these days Wilbur is moving slower, and five dogs is a lot for anyone, even for a big house with a big yard.  So about two months ago, we welcomed Wilbur to Matt & Kelly’s retirement home for geriatric dogs (only joking - our last dog was a similar story, but we are not trying to make a habit of it).  Wilbur is a great dog, and as luck would have it, he’s pretty much the exact right dog for us right now.  Aside from some extra effort getting him to eat enough and the expected age-related medical issues, he’s incredibly low maintenance.  We’re firm believers in daily walks, but otherwise he is content to snooze most of the day away.  He’s also partially deaf and doesn’t seem to mind all our construction noise.  We’re thrilled to have him.  Here he is enjoying the back yard:

Did you notice the cat in the background?  When we brought Wilbur home, we were already cat-sitting for our friends while they moved cross-country.  Luna was a real treat to have as a visitor.  We mostly kept the two separated since it was short term, but I think they could have become friends eventually.

I’ll post later about installing a dog door, training Wilbur (and Luna), and home made dog food.