Posted by mike d. Filed in family

Three and a half years ago, on September 20th, 2010 at age 94 my grandmother passed away.

She contributed to a very specific part of my development providing me piano lessons and treats/baked goods a-plenty for most of my life. I remember Christmas carols at Christmas, making homemade doughnuts with her, and playing with marbles that she kept by the kitchen. My memories of her are all positive: She was clever, witty, and warm.

When Mom & Dad D dropped off a few items at the new home last week, they also passed me an envelope that my family had found in some of my grandmother’s items. It had my name on the front. At first I didn’t recognize it for what it was, Time had colored the envelope, it’s edges worn. I opened it to find a letter my grandmother had signed for me but never sent – a belated birthday card.



It’s nothing our of the ordinary. It doesn’t have any special message or touching story. Just a belated birthday card with a technology joke to me from an older generation. But perhaps it is its commonality that makes it so powerful. It is a matter of fact letter signed and sealed with care by someone who loved me.

For me, opening that letter was a very brief visit to Grandma’s. Complete with a piano lesson and homemade doughnuts.



Posted by mike d. Filed in Quickthoughts

Apparently Squirrels read my blog.

They started showing up yesterday afternoon to raid the feeder.

Darn it.

Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

One of the prominent features of the new House is a beautiful picture window off the breakfast nook where we can watch wildlife.

We purchased a cheap plastic cylindrical bird feeder to reside outside this window and our winged friends have been all over it. When the Parents D came to visit this weekend, they pointed out that our seed choice could use an upgrade.

And thusly begins the Great Seed Experiment of 2014.

Our cheap seed was mostly millet. It’s hilarious to watch the birds actually toss the millet aside to get to the good stuff. For our test, we bought a mid-expensive big back of black oil sunflower seeds and a fairly expensive blend of sunflower seeds, nuts, and other seeds.

We will fill the feeder with each type and time how long it takes the birds to empty the feeder. We’re approaching two weeks for the cheap millet. Once we know the favorite, we will buy in extreme bulk.

Note: For one reason or another, there are not many squirrels in our neighborhood. So far, we haven’t had to fight off seed thieves.



Posted by mike d. Filed in Quickthoughts

From Vivienne, this Axe is amazing.



Posted by mike d. Filed in Conversations

Jen and I will be going to Italy for a belated honeymoon this July. In preparation for the trip, we acquired Italian language CDs to listen to on the way to work. Jen started yesterday, coming home with a wealth of Italian phrases at her fingertips.

I needed to catch up.

Since moving to the shore, I’ve started commuting with Sander. This morning when he hopped into my car I informed him that we would be learning Italian and started up the CD.

CD: “Do you understand Italian? … Capisce l’italiano?”
Mike D: “capisce l’italiano”
Sander (in Italian accent): “Doa you understanda italiano?”
Sander: Seriously, that is perhaps the least useful phrase ever if you’re going to Italy.

He jests and jokes, but I’m pretty sure he’ll learn Italian faster than I will.



Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

Holy smokes, there is a lot of wildlife at the new home.

This weekend we saw:
Red-Winged Blackbirds
Black cow birds
A red tailed hawk
Eastern Bluebird
Garter Snake
Four deer bounding across an old beaver dam

I’ve got my camera at the ready, but so far I haven’t been fast enough or subtle enough to snap any pictures.



Posted by mike d. Filed in A Day In The Life...

At this point Jen and I are mostly moved into the new home. And a new home it is; we are the first residents in this new construction. Easy and convenient? Yes, though non-loan-related financial output for the home has surprised me.

There are always a bunch of costs associated with buying an older home, and I think these are mostly understood and expected. Usually there are repairs necessary or major components like furnaces, roofs, or water heaters. That was certainly the case with the House of Rock. We had to replace a furnace, remove an old oil tank, fix up some walls, and clean up some old junk that had found refuge in rafters of the garage… but the house was essentially livable from the get go.

What surprised me is that the new home has its own lengthy assortment of costs based entirely on the fact that it is new. The house needs a water filter, radon testing, appliances and all the standard decorating accouterment. Painting and staining are on the menu, as is a new gas line for a grill.

Perhaps the real difference between the HoR and the new Home is not the built-on date as much as it is my higher expectations for quality and performance. With the HoR, all I needed was to be certain that the house would stand. With this Home, I’m eager to make it streamlined and efficient.

Posted by mike d. Filed in House of Rock

Tomorrow, Jen and I close on a new home – this home needs a name.

We’ve been toying with naming our final destination “The Keep” as a reference to both long-term possession and the strongest portion of a castle; built to protect. But… this house doesn’t quite feel like a Keep.

The new house is positioned on a very localized hill. It resides about 30 feet above all adjacent houses and, also unique amongst the neighbors, ours stands above the recorded 500yr flood record (though I question the source of such data).

As the house is expected to survive any flood, we were thinking of referencing Noah’s Ark. Conveniently, Ark is also defined as a repository for sacred items (i.e. Ark of the Covenant). We tried to identify the items most sacred to us and came up with one potential name:

The Ark of the Oven-Mitt.


Not bad.

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