I can see my house from here

Today was an amazing warm, sunny day… I think the ol’ mercury hit 77 degrees, which is the hottest it’s been since we’ve lived here. When we looked out our window and saw how flat Flathead Lake was, we knew we had to hit the water.

A gentle breeze gave the otherwise glass-smooth water a few languid waves.

I took my brother-in-law, Jim, out for a spin. He and his wife are visiting for a few weeks. He seemed a little timid at first.

But he soon got the hang of it, and was zipping across the lake.

We headed north along the shoreline, until I found the dock that belongs to my neighbors. It has their name on it, which makes it pretty easy to spot. Their land is immediately south of ours, so I knew that if I moved out from shore I’d be able to see our house way up on the hill. Sure enough, it was peeking out of the forest halfway up the mountain. Immediately to the north of us are our other neighbors, and they have a fairly nice house. It, too, is easy to find on the water. Here’s our house in the center, with the neighbors on either side.

It’s surprisingly difficult to find landmarks from the water; everything looks very different from that perspective.

After Jim and I turned south for a tour of Blue Bay, we came back to meet Pepper and Kyra, and I swapped my jet ski for a paddleboard. Because the water was so smooth, it was awesome to just stroke gently across Yellow Bay. Wow, what a great day. Summer’s getting closer!

Not so dandy

We have a bit of a dandelion problem.

Fortunately this is in the cherry orchard, and we don’t really care if there are a lot of dandelions there. As it happens, pretty much every orchard up and down the highway has a vast field of yellow and white growing beneath it.

That said, I do care about the dandies in our yard and flowerbeds, so I’ve been on a quest to pull every last one of them. A few of the buggers keep popping up, but I think we’re down to just a handful at this point. I just hope the gazillion seeds from the orchard don’t blow uphill to our yard…

Eating out

We just bought some new patio furniture– a pair of nice aluminum couches. So this evening we decided to eat out. Outside, that is.

It’s a little brutal facing west as the sun is setting. This was at 8pm; we still had at least an hour and a half of daylight to go.

You can’t beat the view, though.

First time on jet skis

My niece Tara is visiting this weekend with her daughter and son. We’re having a good time playing games and whatnot, but I felt like I needed to take the young-un’s out on the lake. They’d never been on jet skis before, which seems a shame. The weather was overcast and a bit chilly, but that’s what wetsuits are for, right?

We headed over to Bird Island and Emi took a turn driving (with Kyra on the back). The water was so smooth it looked like glass.

Ethan was a little nervous about driving (he’s 14), so he just rode behind me. I guess it was pretty fun.

We hiked around the island a bit, took an obligatory selfie, and then explored a few other nearby islands.

Good times all around. Even when we sucked a rock into Pepper’s jet ski engine…


We were doing some yard work, cleaning up dead plants and debris, and I found an enormous slug!

Kyra was grossed out, of course. I named him Sluggo.

He was kind of chewy. Tasted like chicken, though.

That’s a lot of bytes

The hard drives I use in my data server are seven years old, and they’re starting to show their age (occasional hiccups in storage). So I bought some new drives, installed them last night, and started the process to copy everything I have over to them. This morning, the copy had finished with this report:

sent 6,094,086,288,514 bytes received 28,305,552 bytes 154,103,870.08 bytes/sec
total size is 6,092,496,202,605 speedup is 1.00

That’s just a hair over six terabytes of data. How the heck did I end up with so much stuff? Am I the digital equivalent of a hoarder or something? Maybe it’s time to do some housekeeping…

Home theater

A couple of months ago, I bought an Epson 2100 projector and mounted it near the ceiling of our “lounge”.

The picture was impressive. At 150″ diagonally, from a couch it feels almost as big as being in a real theater. But the wall is a slight yellow color and has a bumpy texture on it, which can be distracting at times.

I did some research and decided to make my own theater screen. Now, it’s possible to buy “professional-quality” projector paint, but it’s a wallet-blowing $250 per gallon. No thanks. Instead, I called my local Sherwin-Williams paint store and ordered a quart of primer and two quarts of pure unadulterated white. On my way to pick that up, I stopped in at Lowe’s to grab a few other supplies.

Thom is always blogging about his house projects, and he includes tons of photos about the process. So, in homage to him, I present the obligatory shot of my initial tools: drywall compound, a mixing pan, and a ten-inch drywall knife.

A bit of painter’s tape, some plastic sheeting and a few tarps, and I was ready to go. I layered the “mud” right over the textured wall, making sure it was thick enough to hide all the bumps.

After letting it dry for a day, I went in with a power sander (yes, Thom, it’s a DeWalt). I figured I’d generate a little bit of dust in the process, but sweet glory, I had no idea how bad it would be. The entire room was coated with a layer of very fine white powder. And, naturally, it drifted into the adjoining room as well. I literally spent three hours cleaning everything afterward. Note to self: next time, drape the entire area in plastic sheeting.

A second coat of mud to fill in the dents and anywhere it wasn’t smooth:

After another day of drying, and some touch-up sanding, I had a really nice and really flat wall. I peeled off the tape and admired my handiwork thus far.

Then it was time to paint. First, a layer of primer.

Wait a day. After it dried, I added a coat of white paint. Wait another day. Add a second coat.

Finally, I surrounded it with black velvet tape. Not only does it give the screen a more attractive border, but it helps with the picture contrast along the edges. It looks pretty sharp!

And today, the final test:

Yeah, so Tron Legacy wasn’t the best choice in broad daylight. Dark movies don’t show up well with all the ambient light. But once night fell, we sat down to watch an episode of Lost and it looked amazing. It’s noticeably better than the old wall, and will be a ton of fun.

The only problem? It doesn’t get dark until almost ten o’clock. And it’s not even summer yet! I guess our movie nights will have to wait until midnight…


For the first time in the nearly eight months we’ve lived in Montana, the temperature hit 70 degrees!

Today was the warmest, nicest day we’ve had. A perfect time to sit on the porch eating dinner and overlooking the lake.