Firewater anyone?

June 17, 2010

Sooo….I’m sure most of our friends would assume that Jay and I are referring to some sort of incredibly strong alcohol filled beverage when I mention “firewater”. Believe me, I wish that were the case. However I am actually going to discuss what could happen, and indeed has happened, to many people’s drinking water. No. This isn’t a good thing, like turning on your tap and having say vodka gush out (or Bombay Sapphire-if you happen to be Jay). No. This is like turning on your tap and having flames shooting out of your faucet! Do I have your attention now? Perhaps you should take a look at this video and if your concerned, then you can read on.

“Wow” huh? You can find many other videos like this from different areas of the country where hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is going on. Hydraulic Fracturing is a technique which was pioneered by none other than Halliburton (is this company like a bad penny or what!!) “Fracking” as it is known in the industry is a method used to access natural-gas reservoirs miles below the earth’s surface. Certain types of rock, like shale, have natural-gas embedded within it. By injecting millions of gallons of water, along with sand or ceramic, and a proprietary mix of chemicals under a tremendous amount of pressure into the rock, tiny fractures are created thereby allowing the gas to escape. Fracking accounts for 15-20% of  U.S. natural-gas production. In light of the recent BP disaster in the Gulf, many people now are expressing a real desire to not only decrease our dependence on foreign oil but to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels all together. (“Drill Baby Drill” not such a good idea after all…) Natural Gas emits less carbon dioxide than oil or coal. So that’s a plus. Furthermore, if the natural-gas industry is allowed to continue with their all out “fracking party”, (currently there are thousands of sites and the industry is hoping to soon have hundreds of thousands of sites), this country could be self-sufficient in natural gas by 2030. Sounds great huh? Not to mention, fracking allows the natural-gas industry to significantly increase production, which keeps the prices low for us. We love that, so what’s the problem?

The problem is that there is increasing evidence that fracking is contaminating our water supplies. The fact that people’s tap water is flaming demonstrates that contrary to the natural-gas industry’s claims,  gas is indeed finding its way out of the drilling sites. Natural-gas laden water is definitely not a desirable thing-just ask the couple in Ohio whose house exploded after their basement filled with gas from their water well. However, it is the proprietary chemicals cocktail which is being used in fracking that is a big concern to environmentalists as well. The industry is not required to disclose what exactly they are injecting into the ground. People around the country near drill sites are reporting various illnesses, skin rashes etc. Sounds like a job for the Environmental Protection Agency to me. Except, rats!…in 2005 the EPA exempted fracking from the Safe Water Drinking Act, so the individual States not the Feds are responsible for regulation. The good news is that the EPA has recently launched an environmental study of drinking water impacts. Hurrah! The bad news is that it is the study will not be done for two years. Boo! Can we really afford to wait? In the meantime, two fracking accidents happened in early June. There was the blow-out of a well in Pennsylvania which spewed 35,000 gallons of water along with the mystery proprietary chemicals into the environment and the explosion of a well in West Virginia which burned seven workers and sent a flare of burning gas 50 feet into the air. As the BP disaster in the Gulf continues to unfold,  many people seem very motivated to change the regulation of our oil industry. Do we need a fracking disaster of that caliber before we act?


DC Renovation 2 Electric Boogaloo

April 18, 2010

**Disclaimer:Jay solely responsible for this blog title-you’ll have to ask him**

The end of March and most of April has been taken up doing yet another renovation. I assure you we were not very happy to hear this needed to be done. To remind everyone, back in August we had just started a MAJOR renovation on the top floor apartment in our Capitol Hill building when our friend John sold his condo, which was great, but it rendered him homeless. We had been wanting to re-do our basement bedroom and bathroom, which were at the time decorated in a stunning “under a bridge” them, complete with spray paint, only missing a troll. The reality that John needed a place to stay spurred us into action and we took on that renovation project- on an accelerated schedule nonetheless!. It was pretty grueling, not only in the financial sense but as anyone who has ever had their house wrecked in the process of the improvement and had to manage various contractors and vendors, knows how mentally and emotionally draining it can be. Even though we are now six months down the road, I was in NO WAY ready to do another reno project. However, as it often works out, we had no choice. Our wonderful tenant who had lived in the basement apartment for six years was moving out. The basement apartment was the first renovation I had done after I bought the house in 2004. I was able to improve it quite a bit from what it was at the time, but being limited in money and experience, I did not do a great job. Sooo…..off we went… again!

All that being said, this renovation went very smoothly. Our friend Brian Stansberry was kind enough to take a look at the place and advise us on how to proceed with the renovation. Brian owns Capitol Hill Stay and has had LOTS of experience with renovating these units. All of his advice was stellar. We are truly indebted to him. We worked with an awesome contractor, Jhonny Claure. Jhonny was the contractor who did the fabulous work at our friend John’s house on Arkansas Ave.

Jhonny's gorgeous tile work at Arkansas Ave.

I would not hesitate to recommend him whole-heartedly to anyone looking to have work done. He focused on quality and did everything right the first time- never took shortcuts or “cheaped out”. He was really a pleasure to work with. The folks at Panda Kitchens were great as well. They installed that whole kitchen in one day. There were some glitches along the way-if you look under carpet and see 9×9 tiles-YIKES-its asbestos! In came the guys in the space suits and I am happy to report we are 100% asbestos free. The apartment is now complete and we are very pleased with the results. Now we’ve just got to get it rented! Wish us luck. Check out the apartment’s website for more pictures and a virtual tour! Here are a couple before and after pics.

Kitchen Before

Kitchen After

Washer/Dryer Pantry Before

Washer/Dryer Pantry After

Kitchen Sink Before

Kitchen Sink After

Living Room Before

Living Room After


Did you say SNOW?!

February 14, 2010

Gimlet is concerned

Poor Gimlet! He is definitely OVER the snow. He hasn’t been for a walk in what seems like one million years to him. When he does get to go outside to do “his business” he is limited to a tiny spot of real estate which has been dug out for especially for this purpose. How disgusting! And now they are saying there might be more snow tomorrow. Really?!  Actually, it doesn’t seem like the forecasters have any real idea what is going to happen tomorrow. (Surprizing huh?)  I’ve heard that the DC area won’t get any appreciable snow and I’ve also heard we could get up to 6 inches. At this point, I’m afraid that one flake could be the flake that broke the camel’s back. Gimlet isn’t the only one who has had it.  On the brighter side, we have had quite a bit of melting. Today was the first time I could actually see the pavement on Kern’s Road. I am a bit concerned with these insane icicles though. They could pull the gutters right off of the house!

Icicles on steroids!

Not much has been happening here since the storm ended. We, along with everyone else, continued to dig out. Jay and John, along with 3 other good samaritans helped push the mail truck out when it got stuck.

The mail must get through!

The outdoor critters continue to visit our feeders.

Nom nom nom!

Yum...seed!

Hungry woodpecker

More snow you say?!

I don’t think anyone here is ready for more snow. I’m headed out for work in an actual dental office tomorrow-that is if the patients don’t all cancel in one big communal snow panic attack. There is a snow charm I’ve heard of where you wear your pajamas inside out the night before you want it to snow. Does anyone know any anti-snow maneuvers? If not, I guess keepin your fingers crossed will have to do…..


Snowtorious B.I.G.

February 11, 2010

Arctic Grackle

We woke this morning to find that it was NOT snowing. Yay! Blue skies and the sun “splittin the stones”! Still a bit windy, but a big improvement over the conditions I woke to yesterday. Our wonderful snow shoveling crew rang the doorbell at 8AM, rarin to go. Neighbours are snowblowing and shoveling like fiends. Most folks don’t have to work today, schools and the Federal Government are closed again, so everyone’s mission is to get themselves dug out. We would like to send out a big “Thank You!” to our good friends Brian and Phil. They live on Capitol Hill and own Capitol Hill Stay, which offers short term luxury furnished apartment accommodation in the Nation’s Capitol. Even though they have many properties to take care of, they headed over to our apartment on the Hill to make sure it was shoveled while they were out doing their snow maintenance. We really, really appreciate it! With our driveways shoveled, we just have to dig out the cars. Jay and I have it a whole lot easier today than poor old John. We had freed Lopez from his snow cocoon after the last storm because we knew we actually needed to drive him. John has not had to go into work since the first round of storms and his car has not had any of the snow removed from it as of yet. (See pic below) Although our deck is still buried, we have uncovered the hot tub. While it is very tempting to get out there for a soak, I couldn’t help but notice the huge amount of snow on the roof right above the tub. The vision of us relaxing in the 102 degree tub popped into my head. I saw all of the heat from the tub rising up and melting that big, ledge of overhanging snow and icicles. We could potentially be impaled and then buried! Hmmm….maybe we’ll wait on that soak. The birds and squirrels are back at the feeder sans the grackles. They seemed to have moved on to another party spot today. (See photos of critters below)

Overall these Blizzards have been a lot of fun. We had some awesome meals-(and they are still happening….Jay is making his fabulous homemade pizza for dinner tonight…YUM) drank copious amounts of cocktails/wine, watched some movies, hot-tubbed, “played” in the snow, etc. Really memorable, good times. As much as I generally enjoy snow though, I think I may have had my fill at this point. I don’t know if any more snow is coming this way, I guess only Snowstradamos would know that (heeheehee-been waiting to use that one) but I’m not sure my waistline or my liver could take it!

Here are some pics from this last storm:

The Red and the Black

Gaggle of Grackles

Snow Jay

Mr. Cardinal

Madame Cardinal

Snowy Squirrel

Grackles Galore

Clear Driveway

Anyone seen John's car?

Post-Blizzard Sun

Drifts as far as the eye can see

John's Bistro Set.

Stairway up to deck

Hot Tub of Peril!

Avalanche waitin to happen! (Above Danger Tub)

Wall of Snow

Mega-cicle

Is it over yet?

Is it over yet?

Is it over yet?

Snow long for now!


Snowtopia

February 10, 2010

8PM-Wednesday

Its BAAACK! I thought we were all done….but nope. Flakes are falling again. Not flurries either…a moderate amount of wind driven snow whacked me in the face as soon as I stepped out the door. This must be one of those snow bands they were talking about.

Veuve-8PM-Wednesday

When it looked like Snowmaggedon Part Deux was fini earlier, people had actually ventured out to shovel (not us) and use their snowblowers (not us….yet….just wait til next year!)

Snowblower in Action

I took the opportunity to refill the bird feeder. Earlier today I was beset by Grackles. They stayed all day and ate absolutely every bit of seed around. I’ll post some pics of my birds in action tomorrow. Getting to the feeder was not the easiest, but -Mission Accomplished! We’re ready for the onslaught tomorrow.

Filling the Feeder-Snow to my Knees!

TaaaDaaa!

John was not playing around with any such stuff, but was working feverishly all day long. Hmmm…..John? What is that in your hand?

John-Hard at Work

Well, its dinner time now. We’re having some ravioli topped with my homemade sauce. This weather reporter has had it for today. I’ll check back in tommorow

Dinner!


Snowblivion!

February 10, 2010

4PM-Wednesday

Looks like we just have the occasional few flurries now but it is WINDY! The second I stepped out the door to snap the pics a huge gust came along and nearly pushed me back inside. In that movie-Whiteout-which we watched a few nights ago-the characters were only able to move from building to building on the Post they were stationed on in Antarctica by wearing a harness and hooking themselves to a rope. The visibility there was so nonexistent that ropes were strung between all of the buildings. If you didn’t have the ropes to guide your progress you were in danger of being blown away and then lost in the blizzard. I’m beginning to wish I’d strung a few ropes myself!

Whiteout!

I’m afraid the Veuve isn’t accurately reflecting the total snow accumulation.

Veuve-4PM-Wednesday

I think the wind is just blowing the snow elsewhere. I measured 10 inches in the driveway, but I’m not sure if that was a drift or not.   There are some crazy drifts forming all around the house. Looks like a weird moonscape.

Drifts

We still have power though Jay just tried to “word” us by talking about how amazing that was. It was quickly followed by John and I saying “Toowee Toowee Toowee” to counteract any bad luck. Hmmm…we may be getting a bit stir crazy! See you around 8PM


Son of Snowpocalypse

February 10, 2010

12PM-Wednesday

Good ole “Junior” is still raging outside. No let-up whatsoever. It looks like we have about 7 inches of new snow out there.

Veuve-12PM-Wednesday

Gimlet had to go out-nature calls you know-so out we went.

Lea & Gimlet

Blizzard Squint

I think Gimlet is over this Blizzard nonsense!

We hate-zez snows!


Snow Sorry I Ever Doubted You….

February 10, 2010

8AM-Wednesday

Goodness! I woke up this morning and peered outside to find I must stand corrected. I know I was doubting this storm at midnight. It was very quiet at that point, hardly snowing/sleeting at all. No winds. Well, that is not the case now. This storm is really raging! Not only is it snowing heavily, but the winds are gusting, at a guess, 30-40 mph.

Veuve-8AM-Wednesday

We are feeding the birds and were able to get more seed and peanuts for them between the storms. I looked out this morning to see a full on Grackle feeding frenzy. The Grackles aren’t my usual takers, so it was a bit of a surprise.

Grackle Gathering

The wind is making it difficult to get any photos and I am really anxious about the power. I can easily imagine trees going down in this. We had a large branch which was broken by the previous storm, crash down out of a tree this morning. If I don’t blog at my usual time, you’ll know I’m likely “in the dark”. I tried to get a pic of what it looks like when its really blowing. I had to cower in the carport to do so because the lens of the camera was getting so covered with snow, nothing was visible in my first few attempts. With all luck, back at noon!

Looking out from the carport

Looking out from carport-side yard


Quiet Midnight

February 10, 2010

12AM-Wednesday

Not much precipitation at the moment, a bit of occasional sleet/freezing rain. We seem to be in a some sort of a lull, maybe between bands or something. It was an eerie quiet out there as well.

Veuve-12AM-Wednesday

The forecasters said we would be getting the heaviest accumulations after midnight into the wee hours of the morning. Guess it hasn’t really got going yet. Perhaps the storm has tricked them and it won’t actually hit here as hard as they thought…..Hmmmm…..wishful thinking. Check back in the morning (definitely not at 4 AM-but sometime around 8-9′ish)


Snow, Snow……. Snowtorious!

February 9, 2010

8PM-Tuesday

It is definitely coming down now! The roads, our walkway and our driveway are covered already. I hope our nice, young shovelers come by on Thursday.

Snow Flakes

I think we might be getting a bit of a drift around our Veuve bottle.

Veuve-8PM-Tuesday

*Thanks to Duran Duran for this blog title. Did anyone get that besides me? I fear some more of those may be coming your way…..Next update 12 AM (if I can stay awake!)


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