Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Sand

After excavating the hole yesterday, today we filled it with sand.  Sand is an absolutely critical part of a paver job, and I learned this from my grandfather's knee.  He never used gravel under pavers, unlike all the YouTube videos today.  More sand is better, but a good base is at least 4" deep, so that's what I've always tried to do.  Coincidentally, one shovel-depth will give you a good base, over 4" of sand.

So, today we moved sand.  I'm unable to get any equipment in the tight spaces of my backyard, but there is always the shovel and wheelbarrow drill.

That's what the base looks like.  Just a nice bed of sand, the same process that the Romans used 2000 years ago, and the same process that my grandfather used 50 years ago.  Tomorrow, we'll do the final leveling and install the pavers.  I'll be glad to be finished with this project.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Muggy Monday

It's muggy out there today, with the temps in the high 80s and bumidity in the low 70s, it feels like it's in the high 90s.  Muggy, wet, with a little breeze augmented by a large fan pushing air across the work area.  The boys and I spent the morning digging dirt out of the hole for phase V of the summer project.  We've taken a lunch-time break, and we'll commence about 2:30, when the shade is better in that particular spot in the yard.  We got a little less than half of it dug this morning, and thankfully there is no serious rain in the forecast till later this week.  We'll dig this afternoon until it's done, then tomorrow we'll fill the hole with sand.

I'll be a happy sonofagun when this phase of the project is finished.  I can do Phase VI by myself, there's not much to it, simply installing a base for my fire pit, and helping Milady re-arrange furniture on the new patio.

UPDATE  My dirt crew in the pool, about 4:30 o.m. after the hole is dug.  They did good, over about 4 hours, and they deserve a swim to cool off.
Tomorrow, we fill the hole with sand.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Apollo XI

I am reminded that 45 years ago today, Apollo XI landed on the moon.

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface, and Michael Collins orbited in the command module.

Even today, the only footprints on the moon are American footprints.  I remeber watching it on live television.

Sunday Morning Dawg

Overcast these last couple of days, and the dog is harassing the cat.

Yeah, he's out of focus, but he was moving.  I had the camera set wrong for the shot.

That's a little better.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Brisket blogging

Twelve hours at 250F.  Dalmatian rub.  Pecan-shells for smoke.

I'll let them cool for a bit, then slice them.  We've got to be in Jena for noon, so we're leaving here at 10:30.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finally Friday

It's finally Friday and Milady should be home in another hour or so.  Tomorrow we celebrate her mother's birthday, 94, I believe, and I'm on the hook for a couple of briskets.  So, this afternoon I went to the grocers and selected two nice packer-cut briskets.  Just before bedtime I'll crank off the smoker and put the meat on.  Low and slow is the secret to a good brisket.  Over they years, I have modified my brisket recipe somewhat, to make it simpler.  In 2005, I gave this recipe for brisket, but today I do it differently.  Of course, that recipe went in the oven, and it still works, but now I'm using the smoker, and this recipe works as well.


Packer cut brisket

That's it.  A packer-cut brisket is sometimes called a whole brisket, or an untrimmed brisket.  It has two muscles, the point, and the flat, and while you can separate the two and cook them separately, I find it just as easy to cook the whole brisket and use the fat as seasoning while it renders through the meat.  Lots of folks use fancy rubs on their brisket, but the better cooks use what they call a Dalmation rub, which is simply white salt and black pepper.  You can add more seasoning if you like, but all the beef really needs is salt and pepper.

Take the brisket out of the package and find the fat cap.  That cap will be on top while we cook.  Liberally salt and pepper the brisket, then put it in a cooking pan.  Pour half a beer over the brisket.  Drink the rest.

Put the brisket into the smoker, pan and all.  Set your temperature for about 225F and leave it alone for about ten hours.  When you take it out of the smoker, let it rest for a few minutes, then trim any extra fat, and separate the point from the flat muscle.  Slice across the grain of the meat.  Place into serving dish, then sit back and enjoy the accolades.

Brisket is easy.

More Sand Filters

My post yesterday on sand filters generated some questions, better answered here than in the comments.  So, let's see if I can address them.  I'm no expert, and Google is your friend, I'm sure that better answers can be found online, but I'll give them a shot based on my experience.

Milady and I installed the pool in April/May 2007.  The sand in the filter is seven years old.  We noticed earlier this year that the filter wasn't catching as much of the normal crud that moves through the system as it should, so we started casting about for answers.  Obviously, the filter wasn't doing as good a job as it should and in our research we learned that locally, people tend to change the sand in their filters every three to five years.
Our pool carries approximately 15,000 gallons of water and the installer gave me a filter to handle that amount of water.  It's a Triton II, a fairly standard design, and easy to access.  So, to the questions.

Mostly Cajun asks if sand wears out>  When I opened the top of the filter, I could see that the sand was dirty, and the sand didn't feel like good river sand.  It was less abrasive, didn't have those nice sharp edges we associate with sand, and it just felt different, and it looked dirty.  Of course, it has been filtering water for seven years, so I expected it to be dirty.  I back-wash it regularly when I sense a reduced flow, but the filter didn't seem to be catching as much dirt, so we decided to change the sand.  My particular filter takes 300 pounds, and a local lumber yard was running a sale on pool filter sand, so I picked up six bags on sale.  It took me about an hour to scoop out the old sand and pour in the new sand.  Not a bad job, but a dirty one.

Rivrdog asks if that filter could be used for primary filtration of creek water?  I don't know why not.  We don't cover our pool during the winter months, and when I start cleaning the pool in the springtime, it's pretty cruddy.  The filter cleans the water quickly, although before drinking, you'd need to sanitize it and have it tested, but it would be clean water.

We use a salt system, which uses a charged grid to release the chlorine in the salt to sanitize the pool.  It needs to be cleaned regularly, normally twice per year, a process that takes about 30 minutes and is fairly straightforward.  The salt system has up-sides and down-sides, but the biggest upside is that it uses salt rather than toxic chlorine to sanitize the pool.  The salinity of the pool water is about the same as human tears, so the grandkids don't come out of the pool with red eyes.  And pool salt is cheap as regular salt, because it is simply salt.  I have used livestock feed salt on the occasion that I could't find pool salt.  Morton salt is Morton salt, and I could probably use table salt.  The pool normally uses six or seven, 50 lb bags of salt per year.  Total chemical expenditures on my pool normally runs about $50.00 per year.  Salt is cheap and it's the only chemical I put in it.

That's not exactly true.  In the winter months, when the water temperature gets below 50F, the system quiits making chlorine, so we have to supplement a little bit.  Milady normally picks up a little bucket of chlorine tablets and we'll drop one in the skimmer during the winter months.  So, add another $30-$40 for the chlorine tablets.  Those little buckets, when empty, make a great container for storing range brass and cast bullets.

I hope this answers your questions.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pool Filter Sand

I just finished changing the sand in the pool filter.  It's a Triton, and thankfully I didn't have to cut or remove any of the pool piping.  Just unscrew the top and swing the baffle out of the way.
The rest of the procedure is pretty straignt-forward.  Remove the sand with a coffee can and a shop vac, then fill with clean sand.  300 pounds of clean pool filter sand.  It's a dirty job, but not particularly difficult.  Follow label instructions, your mileage might vary.  But it's done for another four years.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Phase IV Complete

Phase IV of the summer project is complete, and phase V is on the project board.  We'll commence sometime next week, when PawPaw get less sore.  Every muscle in my body aches, that good ache that comes with hard physical labor.  A photo, though, to commemorate the crew and the project.  Without further ado, I give you my paver crew.

Five of my grandsons, and each had a hand in the project, from working concrete, to digging out the dirt, to filling the hole with sand, to scree-ing the sand and installing the pavers in a pleasing patern.  It's 12 feet by 12 feet, with two cubic yards of dirt, two cubic yards of sand, ten bags of Quikrete, and over 100 pavers of varying size.

Good job, boys.  Next week, we rinse, lather, repeat.