67. Gadget stuff

This is part 5 of several posts discussing Richard Foster’s chapter on Simplicity in Celebration of Discipline.

I need want a new IPhone.

There is nothing wrong with mine, except it’s old. A 3GS. If you’re not up on IPhones, that’s 3 models ago. The 4, 4S, and 5 have come out since. A few months ago, I got Mr. H.C. an upgrade for his. He needed one; his little slider thingy (technical jargon) was broken, and he couldn’t silence it, plus it was looking pretty bad because he is a construction guy, and his phone gets a lot of hard use, and he just needed a new phone.

He didn’t want one. Mr. H.C. is not a tekkie; he uses his phone for convenience and work and just wants a phone that will do everything for him and has a short learning curve. (He’s a busy guy.) So I bought him a 4 — not that much different from his old 3G, but it has Siri, and it has a great camera. Yes, a great camera. That’s why I need want one.

Unfortunately Richard Foster reminds me (yet again) that I am falling short here too. I know, I know, we all fall short…


Victoria Elizabeth Barnes, said in a recent blog post, “Incidentally— when you start a blog, you have NO IDEA that you need to take 12,000 pictures of EVERYTHING.” And yes, she is absolutely right! Not only does one need space for one’s thousands of photos, the new IPhone cameras take Panoramic shots, which one absolutely needs if one is trying to show a room transformation… Look at these panoramic shots of the kitchen:

Apple Hill Kitchen

Panorama Apple Hill Kitchen
Yes, these were taken by Mr. H.C’s phone. And not only does it have Panorama options, it also has HDR capabilities. Right! I’m not really a tekkie either, so I only recently learned what this is. It means High Dynamic Range imaging; a few posts ago I complained about not being able to get a good photo of the inside and outside of the kitchen windows in the same shot. That’s what HDR does —

By definition, photography is the art of recording light. This act must be done with the camera sensor — which is only capable of capturing a certain range of light intensity at any given time. Even the most expensive and most professional cameras on the market are not equipped with sensors that can capture all ranges of light in one photograph. That’s where “HDR photography” comes in.”

This was from an article on IPhoneography that I went back to study. So, this photo was taken with Mr. H.C.’s camera as well:

Kitchen Windows at Apple Hill Cottage

HDR technology at work — this is the shot I could never get with either my Canon or my IPhone. I deleted all the tries or I would show you the difference.

If I had my priorities straight, I could be in agreement with TWO of Mr. Foster’s rules for a simple life here.

Most of the time Mr. H. C. is agreeable when I ask to borrow his phone. Last weekend I took eight pictures with it. But sometimes he wants to use it himself? Like tonight, for instance, I wanted to upload the photos onto the Mac and he said, “Well how long will it take?”
Right. Never mind, I’ll do it later.

Convenience! That’s what we want, and we want it now. (Sigh) Oh those wants vs. needs… They are so troublesome. Especially when it comes to tech gadgets. Those custodians of modern gadgetry sure have us propagandized, don’t they? Face it, I have three perfectly good digital cameras at my fingertips, and I’m not satisfied? There is something wrong with this picture. (It must not be in HDR!)

60. That was then, this is now…

Things are looking pretty in the Apple Hill Cottage Kitchen. Amazing, but true. Excitement abounds. We can actually see over the mountain top — we might even be descending through the slippery slope of final details and finish carpentry! This past weekend not only did I do a load of dishes in my new sink, the next evening we did a load of dishes in the newly installed dishwasher. Life is good.

In the last post I promised some pictures. The tarps are still on the floor, protecting its new beauteousness, and some cabinet doors aren’t yet in place. The tile backsplash isn’t in yet, and neither is the stove. That is actually the next project. We are trading stoves and bringing the electric stove to Pittsburgh and taking my much-beloved gas convection oven to Apple Hill. Also I want to preface some of these photos with this: You will see a lot of green. That is because we painted the whole wall to the left of the sink. But once the tile backsplash goes in (small subway tile — American Olean in Biscuit) the only visible green on that side will be above the cabinet.

So for your entertainment, I’m also including some pictures (of the same spaces) that were taken in August of 2011,  right after the cottage became ours.



Cabinets and woodwork are Sherwin Williams Steamed Milk semi-gloss

is now this!

Yes, we took out the little room that was the pantry, so half the wall you see in the first photo is now gone.



is now this.

is now this.

The cabinet at the far left will eventually be put on the wall and used as part of floor to ceiling bookcase for cookbooks, bowls, tins, etc.




is now this.

We had several landmark events this past week, but one of the best was water in the new faucet coming out beautifully into the new sink…
First water from a new faucet
And another was actually installing some cabinets that have been sitting around everywhere since last summer! In fact, here are just some random shots.

And my favorite —

No plumber's butt here. No plumber's gut either!

No plumber’s butt here.
No plumber’s gut either!
It’s a good thing too, or he wouldn’t have fit.

55. The Cave under the Cottage

If you’ve ever been caving, you might know the feeling — a generic uneasiness as you’re thinking about it and hiking to the cave; several gulps and maybe some sweating when you see the entrance and realize it’s barely big enough for you to get your shoulders through; deep breaths to keep the panic away when the darkness envelops you; the urge to shout when you emerge from the dark hole in the ground. YES! I LIVED!

I went caving once when I was younger, braver, skinnier, and more bendable. I had to crawl downward into the entrance head first and had to stand on someone’s shoulders to be shoved out the exit. I never had the desire to go again, although I did feel euphoric when we all emerged from that tiny hole unscathed.

There is a cave under our cottage.

No, it's not a coal mine.No, it's not a cave.It's our very own access to the bowels of our cottage. And it's right in the kitchen!

No, it’s not a coal mine.
No, it’s not a cave.
It’s our very own access to the bowels of our cottage. And it’s right in the kitchen!

The opening is about 18″ square. You don’t have to go down head first, but you might have to stand on someone’s shoulders to be shoved out… There is another way in and out, but you still have to shimmy through the crawl space in the dirt and rock to get there. And that’s where the plumbing is. And that’s where the wiring is. And that’s where the gas line is.

caving 002We knew that Mr. H.C. would have to go down there. The gas line needed to be moved for our stove; the mouse chewed wires needed replacing with mouse proof aluminum BX cable, and the plumbing to the refrigerator needed to have copper line run to it. And we were hoping to add to the duct work to have another register in the kitchen floor.

We kept putting it off. There were thoughts about Spiders and Mice and Snakes, oh my, but the snakes were the biggest worry. We looked it up. (Mr. H.C. isn’t married to a librarian for nothing!) Rattlesnakes (not likely) hibernate in Pennsylvania until April. Copperheads (more likely) hibernate in our area until March. Hmmm. I tried to be upbeat, but after all, it wasn’t ME going down there. I would have taken his place, but I don’t know nothin’ ’bout nothin’. Let alone plumbing, wiring, and duct work…

Our neighbor said, “Ah, you’ll be okay. If you see a snake, just don’t corner ’em.”  That was the confidence Mr. H.C. needed. He packed up his biggest hatchet, put on his hat light, and strode off to the mines.

We sent Mr. Henry down first as a scout. Sort of like the canaries they send into the mines? He took one look at the opening in the wall and hopped right in — down the rabbit hole — eager to explore. He disappeared and in a few minutes was back, with only some dust on his whiskers and seemingly unconcerned, at least about mice or snakes.

the cat in the cave

The work went just about as smoothly as it could. Of course, I’m the one writing this, and I was also the one who was upstairs holding lights, feeding gas and copper lines, and handing down tools. The easy job. The clean job. Yep, those are the ones I like…

Mr. H.C. did not have the clean job. No, he didn’t. To grab the flexible gas pipe you see in the photo on the left, he had to slide up on his back in the dirt. The workable space diminishes as one gets further in — there is about an 11″ clearance between the floor joists and the ground. Did I mention dark?

caving 009
It looks as if he should be able to jump right out, but there is duct work in the way, so he had to slither through the crawl space to get out. Thank goodness he was the only one slithering — no snakes or critters of any kind, alive or dead, were spotted during this adventure.

caving 012And as if we don’t have enough holes in this floor, Mr. H.C. cut another one and in 15 minutes had the duct work fitted for a new register in the kitchen floor. With two registers and all the holes patched, this kitchen might be downright toasty next winter.

And Mr. H.C. was indeed, euphoric when he had climbed out of that tiny hole unscathed. How about a shower and a glass of wine?chardonnay on the porch