Summer 2016

Summer 2016
Summer in Tsukahara

Spring in Tsukahara

gkimbal's Spring in Tsukahara album on Photobucket

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A tail to tell

Instead of the traditional hat rack hook, we chose something with a “tail.” Easy to install and it comes in an assortment of colors. We’re able to hang our hats and fanny packs for dog walking. I really like the “whimsical” look. 

Quick update on the stairwell remodel: The walls have been repaired, primed and painted. The stair treads have new plywood installed. This is needed because the height of the second story floor will be raised to accommodate the new flooring. Stay tuned for pictures.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Oven is here!

After five years and eight months of waiting, the oven is finally installed and operational. I couldn’t wait to start baking again so I gave the oven a test spin. All of my baking equipment was still in boxes from Seattle. Unboxing that stuff was like opening presents on Christmas. I haven’t seen any of it in six years. I chose to make a simple banana nut muffin. I made all the conversions from English to metric. Some of the ingredients needed to be modified since Japan either doesn’t stock the ingredient or it’s outrageously expensive. The full size convection oven worked wonderfully. I’m able to evenly bake on four racks at a time using “fan mode.” 

Lucky was able to keep an eye on the muffins to let me know when they were done. I still need to add trim to the cabinet to give the oven a "built in" look.

Nice! Everything was evenly brown and slightly crunchy on the outside and light and moist on the inside. It's time for something a little more challenging, but first I really want to make my mom's chocolate chip cookies. They are fantastic and I've been craving them for a long time. Stay tuned. 

Since the weather is cooler, it's the start of pizza season.Yeah! The wood stove is operational and here's our first pizza of the season. Time to eat!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

M13 Hercules Globular Cluster

After a long wait, about 3 months, I was finally able to put together an image of the Hercules Globular Cluster (M13). Integration time is 4 hours in LRGB. I wish I had more time to image this target, but the weather would not cooperate. As I write this post it is cloudy…again. Perhaps, October will bring clear skies?


M13 is a very popular target for imagers. It’s relatively bright and it’s possible to image even when the moon is out. M13 is one of the oldest visible objects in the night sky. It has been estimated to be 12 to 13 billion years old which is close to the age of the “Big Bang”. I did a little research on the net and found that the cluster consists of 300,000 stars. How many can you count?


I was planning to image M16, The Pillars of Creation, but it looks like that will have to wait until next year. The Elephant Trunk Nebula is a possible next target…we’ll see if the weather cooperates.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bench, Cabinet Doors, Rock Wall, Attic in Garage

It’s been a busy couple of weeks. I wanted to get a bunch of things done before winter arrives. It's been a very hot and humid summer and it was hard make any progress on the house. I've learned from Erika about "multi-tasking" and this was a good time to give it a go. Instead of finishing one project at a time, I decided to do four things at once: build a bench for the entry area, make cabinet doors for the utility room and hallway, build a rock wall to prevent visitors from driving too fast past the observatory and kicking up dust, and build an attic in the garage in order to make room for our automobiles. Let's get started!

I have quite a few hinoki logs in the garage that have been saved for legs on future work benches and seats. I'll also be making railing posts for the stairs leading up to the third floor (more on this in a later post). The logs needed to be prepared for use. I removed the branch stubs which left knots in the wood. The knots give the wood more character. Later, I planed the wood with a razor. 

The last step was to give the entire bench several coats of clear finish. 

Moving on to the rock wall...the stones were gathered nearby and carefully placed. No mortar was used. However, each nook and cranny was filled with coarse gravel. This creates a stronger wall which might be important should we have another earthquake.

Somehow, I was able to squeeze in a few moments to build cabinet doors for the hallway and utility room. 

While the doors dried, I went ahead and prepared the wood beams for installation. 

Each beam needed to be trimmed to fit the metal rafter supports. 

This stack of plywood will be used upstairs to replace the existing floor (more on that in a later post). 

Here's some photos of the new attic space in the garage. Lots of room for hiding things. 

Last, but not least, is the finished rock wall. I hope this is the last rock wall I will have to build. It seems that every home that I have owned has a rock wall. Not sure why that is, but I have plenty of practice at building these things. Up next...time to remodel the stairs and the second floor. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Clouds,clouds, and more clouds

Since June 1st, it's been cloudy every evening. The clouds seem to disappear for an hour only to return again. The one night that did not have any clouds happened to be an entire night with a full moon! I’ve just about given up hope to do any imaging until autumn. The good news is that it’s given me some time to tune up my processing skills. I reprocessed several images that I posted earlier this year. I did not add any additional integration time (too many clouds) to the images. I just tweaked some of the settings and used some of the other processing options available in PixInsight. Here's two "before and after" images that I reprocessed:


AFTER (The image was flipped and left uncropped) The galaxy has more contrast and color. The dark lanes can easily be seen. A few more distant galaxies are visible. The image could use more integration time, especially in Ha to bring out the nebulosity. I'll image this one


AFTER (Deconvolution and a few other processes were added) The core has more contrast and the nebulosity is more apparent. The galaxy appears much larger in this image as the faint outer arms are visible. The image is noisy, but the star colors look much more realistic.

Hopefully, the clouds will part long enough so that I can finish a project I started earlier this year, M13 (Hercules Globular Cluster). Up next...cabinet doors (kitchen and utility room), bench (entry area) and a rock retaining wall. Stay tuned.    George


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Rollaway Work Station

Continuing with the kitchen remodel, I built a rollaway work station. The moveable "island" is the same height as the kitchen counters. It can be easily rolled to the counters and becomes an extra work surface. The garbage cans sit on a shelf that pulls out. Wooden bumpers were installed to prevent the tile from chipping when placed next to the kitchen counters.

Here's a photo of the casters mounted to the bottom of the cabinet. All of the hardware was purchased at Handsman (my favorite store).

Friday, August 4, 2017

Part 2 The Finished Product

Here are some pictures of the finishing touches to the entry area. The sink area needed to be tiled and this was done at the same time the entry floor tile was installed. The painted area where the sink is going was scraped so that the adhesive would bond.

All the tile pieces were cut and ready for installation. 

The area is ready for the sink and moulding to be installed.

I'm prepping the entry area for tile. I will not miss that ugly tile the original owners installed.

Goodbye ugly brownish red tile, hello beautiful new black tile!

 The new "sleeping area?" was also tiled. It looks small, but the area is 2 meters long and 1 meter wide.

The sink area with tile and moulding. The intarsia frog on the cabinet was made about 10 years ago out of poplar and cedar. I'm glad it finally found a permanent home. All the area needs is a mirror, light, and a towel rack. 

The sink is plumbed and ready to go!

Here's the newly remodeled area under the stairs. Flooring, paint and moulding are installed. The recessed lighting adds a nice touch.

The paint scheme blends in nicely with the rest of the house.

It's hard to believe this used to be the ugliest part of the house.

Here's a photo of the floor lighting. This will come in handy if someone does decides to sleep in this space.

That's it for now. This project took about 3 months to complete. Up next, I will be finishing up the main entry area, kitchen, and utility room. Next year, I'll begin the stairwell and the second and third floor remodel. There's a lot more to come...stay tuned.    George

The last area of the first floor remodel (Part 1)

This is the last area on the first floor that requires some attention. It’s located next to the front door. The room was built without a floor. Huh? Well, sort of. The floor is the concrete foundation. The previous owners installed the ugliest tile on top of the concrete and called it finished. This created all kinds of problems during the rainy season. The floor would be wet from the rains. This caused mold and mildew to form on anything that was placed in the room. The smell from the mildew was sickening and it often stunk up the entire first floor entry area.

In order to fix the problem, a real floor had to be installed above the foundation. A foundation vent provides air circulation under the floor. The floor is made of 1.5 inch plywood and is supported with 4x4's. The exposed wood under the stairs was cleaned, primed and painted to prevent any mildew from forming. The treated wood was then covered with plywood and wallpaper. Some additional ceiling and floor lighting was added to give the area an updated, fresh look. The exposed logs were cleaned and coated with a gloss sealer. The new and existing floors received new black tiles. The new entry also received new tiles which blended the whole area together. 

This area is located under the stairs. The floor is concrete and the vent allows water to enter during typhoons. This is the worst area of the house and I plan on making it the nicest.

The light haze on the logs is mildew...yuk!

Looking up is the bottom of some of the stairs. This is going to be an interesting and challenging job.

The surfaces are irregular and the angles go in all kinds of directions. What should I do?

The light is a sorry attempt at lighting the area. The previous owners really didn't care about this area. I find this surprising since it is the first thing that can be seen (and smelled) when entering the house. All right...let's get started.

See any difference? (The next few steps are not pictured). The first thing that needed to be done was to remove and clean anything that had mildew. Next, I added supports and a new plywood floor. Plywood walls were also added and then covered in wallpaper. Electrical wiring was installed before the plywood was added. Recessed lighting was added under the first and second set of steps. I also added an additional electrical outlet for charging batteries and stuff.

The various angles were a lot of fun to cut out of plywood. A piece of black tile was placed to give an idea of what the new floor will look like.

Shelving was also added. Here you can see the wiring for the recessed lighting. The wall paper was a real challenge to install.

The area is large enough to comfortably sleep. It comes complete with lighting, a window, and a downstairs entry sink. This is a view of the entry into the remodeled area looking outwards towards the main entry. Confused?

Well anyway, primer, paint, and some molding will finish the walls. Here is a view of some of the unfinished electrical. To get to this stage of the project took about 2 months.

The next post I'll show the finished project. Erika is really happy with how it came out too. Stay tuned.          George