Saturday, December 26, 2009


Well, here we go again! Got a little busy taking driving trips to various locations in the Midwest, flew to Florida to visit friends down there and then the snow came and forced me to focus on finishing up the house. However, when I got back the computer was down and difficult to determine the reason! Was it the internet provider?.... who accused the software.... which led to the hard drive. So, no internet access, no blog! Then, once the computer was up and running, I slipped and fell (hard) on the ice in the park behind the house. Actually, there was a two inch snow cover and I had been walking a while when I reached the area between the hockey rink and a small skate rink between the two. It's one thing to walk on snow covered washboard ice than the pristine glass-smooth surface designed for ice skaters. I totally wiped out apparently breaking my fall with the tip of my third finger on the right hand. The egg-sized knob on the back of my head reported the failure of that fingertip to do an adequate job. Although the crack to my head hurt (thank God for thick hair), the injury to my right hand was much more troublesome and now after two weeks is permitting normal movement.

"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." ~ M. Kathleen Casey ~

I could go on and on about what a wonder it is to watch the body heal and the wisdom of the way our bodies are designed is so incredible. Should I? Perhaps a little.... So, I figure I must have broken a blood vessel (or fingertip bone? ~ who knows) as the end of my third finger swelled up like a balloon. Now that in itself is amazing because apparently at each joint there is a barrier preventing the blood from going to the rest of the finger, so the rupture confined creates pressure and we all know that pressure stops bleeding! So, although I was in pain, I was totally awed by the safety mechanisms designed within our bodies to protect and heal themselves. And, daily I could watch its progress towards recovery.

"A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses." ~ Hippocrates ~

Of course, being right-handed, recuperation time did take its toll on projects at the house. But, I'm pleased to report that the hardwood floors on the 2nd floor are complete. All the interior doors and closet doors are installed and about half the painting is finished. So, soon on to the quarter-round and base shoe molding and the trim around the doors and windows. One more little trip to San Francisco to meet my sister and then the end of January I plan on assembling and installing the kitchen cabinets and countertops. If I finish by February 1st then this project will have taken a year and a month with about four months of vacation time. Not bad for all that needed to be done. :D

"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." ~ Albert Camus ~

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Easy Project

"When faced with a challenge, look for a way, not a way out." ~ David Weatherford ~

Well, now that it's almost winter I figured I'd better get the central air taken care of. At least it will be ready for next year's summer weather. Actually last summer was very mild and one of the coolest on record, so I was lucky. The technician needed to put the condenser on top of the deck as he surmised the previous one burned up because it was tucked under the stairway to the three season porch. Air conditioners need open air from above but I most certainly don't want a side stage view of it on my deck, so I bought a fence panel, cut it into three sections, cut a ten foot four by four post in half, assembled the pieces and voila! Instant air conditioner screen! I spent about $100 on that project. Not bad when preassembled ones can cost $250 or more (depending on size).

"If we all did the things we are capable of doing we would literally astound ourselves." ~ Thomas Edison ~

So grateful to have an easy project for a change! :D

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Outward Embellishments

"Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall at last unveil." ~ John Ruskin ~

When I went to Michigan in August, I hired my brother and sister-in-law to paint the outside of my house and install the new front door. I chose a deep reddish brown with a beige trim around white windows. I hardly expected anyone to notice or make comment, however, in this neighborhood it seems to have made a hit. Neighbors have stopped by with positive comments. Even people driving by when they see me watering the plants outside have stopped to let me know they like how the house looks now. I didn't want to post a photo of the house painted until I had the new garage doors installed and finally this has been accomplished! The final bit is to power wash the deck and stain it which will be finished as of tomorrow.

The inspectors passed me on the insulation I did. I put alot of research into it and because of cost I ended up using three types ... fiberglass, spray foam, and T2000 foam board. Spray foam applied individually turned out to be very messy and required alot more cleanup time than I wanted to put into it. Although it's a good product, I would hire someone to apply this type of insulation than do it myself again. The easiest and least messy were fiberglass and the T2000 foam board.

"Once the 'what' is decided, the 'how' always follows. We must not make the 'how' an excuse for not facing and accepting the 'what'." ~ Pearl S. Buck ~

I had another inspection done for the city code violations I had put money into escrow way back last January. I got a check back for 5/6ths of the amount I put in which I was very happy to sign over to my brother. Predictably, he didn't want to take it saying that he was having fun helping me on my projects,.... but he and I both know that without him (and without his tools) I'd have gone to great difficulty and expense to accomplish half of what we've been able to do together. I've learned so much from him this year, and working with him has been gratifying. He's my safety net. If I hit a wall I know he'll help me figure it out.

"I studied the lives of great men and famous women, and I found that the men and women who got to the top were those who did the jobs they had in hand, with everything they had of energy and enthusiasm and hard work." ~ Harry S. Truman ~

I've been so busy ticking items off my "to do" list. I installed the glass block in both bathrooms (which is way easier than you'd ever imagine). Also, we installed the wood floor in the 1st floor and are working on the 2nd floor. Some interior painting has been started but isn't complete as yet.

So, all is well. I still have alot more to accomplish but I'm happy to finally be working on the outward embellishments instead of the inner workings of the house.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Keep Your Balance

Well, what can I say? I've been so busy and hence ~ tired, it's been difficult to post in my blog. Which, in general, is a good thing (not to have too much time on you
r hands).

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." ~ Albert Einstein ~

In getting ready for the city inspection I've been taking care of details like getting screens for every window, making sure all the windows function properly, even washing them inside and out (although the city isn't concerned about that).

A t
ough one was the crawl space. This space is 35' wide, 3.5' deep and 2.5' high. The before and after photos are posted above. It needed to be dug deeper by 6", covered with 6 ml thick vinyl and walls insulated with a noncombustible foam board. It's a dirty and physically challenging job which I admit to being physically incapable of handling myself and once again, my brother came to the rescue. We removed the dirt from the crawl space and deposited it on the North end of the house to correct the grading problem (the dirt must slant away from the house to provide adequate drainage).

"Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right." ~ Dr. Phil McGraw ~

When the framing was inspected, the inspector made note of the fact that no heat runs were installed in either the powder room on the first floor or the master bath. So, I was remembering how I saved money on the appliances and now I had to spend more on something very important that I had overlooked. It only turned out to be $500.00 so it wasn't too much of a killer. (But I was really sweating it until I got that estimate in.) Another potential pitfall is I can't get the air conditioner running, so I'm getting an estimate on that. Although I would prefer that it be fixed, I can't be so vested in that outcome that I fail to see there are ways around it. If I do need to purchase new central air then it will use up more of the money I had set aside for hired help. It will simply require me to learn new things and do it myself. In the end, that's not such a bad thing after all. ; )

Friday, August 21, 2009

Burned Up With Beauty

"It is better to be happy for a moment and be burned up with beauty than to live a long time and be bored all the while." ~ Don Marquis ~

I took another impromptu trip .... this
time to Mackinac Island (pronounced Mackinaw) in Michigan. The island forbid motor vehicles in 1898, so getting around requires good walking shoes, bikes, renting a horse or taking a carriage ride. Ah! Good old fashioned fresh air free of car exhaust and fragrant with horse manure. ;) Not that I mind because I love horses and leaving a bit of modern life behind. They do an excellent job of cleaning up and I found the pace of life there remarkably tranquil.

It's a nice bike ride around the island. The path is 8.8 miles long (also walkable if you want to make a day of it). Better yet, hire a saddle horse and make the ride around. Horse drawn carriages are also fun to view the flora and fauna from. Arch Rock, the butterfly museum, the Grand Hotel, the Fort, tons of restaurants. shops and hotels to dally in.... yes, you can actually experience what it's like to dally (an antiquated concept in our fast-paced world).

It makes me wonder about our recent ancestors before this explosion of technology. Driving horse-drawn buggies, socializing on the veranda, playing games together, just walking and talking and allowing the moment to grow. Very nice!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rite of Passage

"Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional." ~ Roger Crawford ~

I guess you could call it a rite of passage to have worn out your first pair of leather work gloves. To tell the truth, I never really appreciated their value until this project came along. But, they've been invaluable and have saved me alot of misery as I've found that when I'm without them I end up with blisters, slivers or metal shards causing discomfort. Just carrying a bucket of dirt (and I never knew how heavy dirt is either) is more comfortable with them on. My brother is the one to point out this questionable achievement and since I am still painting the woodwork on my windows I'll indulge my thoughts on my relationship with him...

"The measure of a man is not, 'How did he die?' but 'How did he live?' not 'What did he gain?' but 'What did he give?'" ~ Unknown ~

I'm ten and a half years older than he so I've always taken him under my wing and tried to spend time with him. His nickname as a kid was "Pinwheel" as he was always moving and would just as soon climb up your arm and over you than to go around you (not exactly an endearing feature, but he was a great kid nonetheless :) So, even when I went to college I would try to make it home at least once a month for a weekend with him and who wouldn't for the excitement and obvious affection I appreciated from him. I'd take him bowling or to a movie or a drive, or just spend time with him on his go-cart and later on, his motorcycle. I'm happy to say I was the first to let him drive on the freeway. I took him places with me like to St. Louis and Wisconsin Dells although we never made it to Alaska to fly over the North Pole as we'd been planning. Instead of trading in my old car (very old car), I gave it to him when he was sixteen. That was a no-brainer as the amount my loan would be reduced was next to nothing and he was overjoyed just to have "wheels". So, we've had alot of great memories together. None of which were made with the intention of payback but just because he's such a great guy and fun to be around.

"A great man is he who does not lose his child's heart." ~ Menicus ~

As we are working on the house, we relax and joke around just as if we were kids again. So, we smile and tease each other and do "stupid" things that only siblings have an instinct for. I don't care how old and sophisticated you are... if you let your hair down with family it's as if time stood still. You still can go "back there". And, there's no better remedy for those aches in your soul than a good laugh with a good friend. Create the situations where they can happen and you'll be alot better off for it.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Good Enough For Me!

While I've been waiting for the plumber and the electrician to complete their portion of the job so that city inspection can take place, I've been painting the woodwork on my windows. No easy task to accomplish as I've found that three coats are required, therefore I've had plenty of thinking time. So, here's where my mind's been drifting....

"The best portion of a good man's life: his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love." ~ William Wordsworth ~

I think alot about friends and relatives who have taught me lessons or been examples of virtues or personality traits I admire. One of which is my Aunt Marge. The following is a rough sketch I drew as a preliminary for her portrait (which, of course, I gave to her).

I'll tell you what I learned from Aunt Marge ... She had so much love, emotion, and sentimentality contained within her for people that you felt her hug long before she actually accomplished the feat. I still can smile remembering an Auntie Marge hug. So, no limp handshakes from me, no blase' hugs or insincere words .... Aunt Marge taught me to put out that warmth of emotion to enrich the lives of those she loved.

"You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a fine spirit of hope of achievement. You are here to enrich the world and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." ~ Woodrow Wilson ~

And what would Aunt Marge be without her Otto? Uncle Otto was the strong, silent type of man with a twinkle in his eye and an adoration for the woman he loved that could never be questioned and only admired (of course, it was returned full measure to him). He taught us ~ Not to open our mouths more than we had to ~ To adore your spouse is the best gift you can give your children ( friends, relatives and yourself) ~ To know that people sometimes make mistakes and to seek to understand without passing judgment.

"Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don't look back at it too long. Mistakes are life's way of teaching you. Your capacity for occasional blunders is inseparable from your capacity to reach your goals. No one wins them all, and your failures, when they happen, are just part of your growth. Shake off your blunders. How will you know your limits without an occasional failure? Never quit. Your turn will come." ~ Og Mandino ~

Every other year we would go visit them as they lived in New York State and we in Minnesota, so it was a few days drive. They would visit us the alternate years. But, I can remember the family get-togethers we would have playing horseshoes or tag or having water balloon wars with my cousins in their yard. We'd just run wild and holler and laugh and let off steam. We'd love it if we could get an adult to join in and most of the time if we threw a water balloon near enough (almost, but not quite....) one of the adults would up and chase us and then the squealing would really begin. Uncle Pete was a good one for that. It was great fun, those family barbecues at their house. Uncle Otto's been gone probably eighteen years now and Aunt Marge passed more than ten years ago of Alzheimers, the same disease that afflicts my mother.

My brother, his wife and I care for our mother. I am quite aware that we are lucky she's not angry and combative. As Alzheimers progresses, it peels away memories and layers of personality. She is losing her ability to speak as her vocabulary is slowly disintegrating. We are left with her core spirit which is peaceful and happy and can literally be one of the few who are genuinely living in the "now". She knows not our names or who we are to her, but she does know that this face she loves. And, that's good enough for me!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hired Help

Here we are nearing mid-July and I am still doing demolition and working on the "guts" (the unseen mechanicals) of the house! I've finally hired a carpenter, electrician and plumber and all are on board to get their portion complete and inspected within the next week. I've chosen a good crew and am happy with the pointers and recommendations they are willing to offer a "novice".

"In about the same degree as you are helpful, you will be happy." ~ Karl Reiland ~

For example, all winter the basement never had a smell. This June, an odd smell started emanating from somewhere down there and for the life of me, I could not pinpoint the source. The plumber advised me to pour water down the P-traps of the drains as it had evaporated allowing sewer gas to seep back up the line. It took one minute to do, and by the next day the smell was eliminated completely

Above you are looking at the wall from the three season porch that I had to remove so that the carpenter could bump out a master bedroom closet and master bath shower. I had already removed the drywall on the inside of the wall.
I unexpectedly ran into plywood underneath the drywall which made the demo three times as hard. That gave me alot more thinking time and I've been toying with the idea of addressing some of those thoughts here. For example, my admiration for the plethora of tools man has devised for whatever problem he encounters... crowbars, prybars, grippers, sawsalls, multimasters .... I used to tease my brother that his candy aisle at the store was the power tool aisle. Mine, of course, is the art supply aisle. I mean, you can actually catch a glint in the eye of a person truly fascinated in scoping out what genuinely interests him/her.

The third photo shows the demolition task complete and the fourth photo shows the new framing for the closet the carpenter built from the inside of the master bedroom (he makes it look so easy...). You've got to admire a person who does a job well. It's such a thing of beauty!

"There is a kind of victory in good work, no matter how humble." ~ Jack Kemp ~

Monday, July 6, 2009

Go Beyond the Norm

"If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it, even if I did not have the ability in the beginning." ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~

I told a friend of mine that I was going to teach myself how to build a closet by reading a book and figuring it out on my own. Well, I did it! And, the carpenter I hired to build a closet through a structural wall in the master bedroom approved of my efforts. If you look at the floor plan in the June 19th entry, the photos above show the changes on either side of the front door. The first photo shows the framing for the 1st floor half bath (formerly the coat closet) and the 2nd photo shows the closet I built (myself) to the left of the front door. I'll be installing a new front door changing the swing of the door to open to the right so the electrical switches also must be changed to the left side of the door (always there's a domino effect)!

Every cause produces more than one effect. ~ Herbert Spencer ~

It would be nice to be able to show you everything all pretty and nice and completely finished, however, that's not how the city inspectors will let me work. First all the framing has to be inspected along with the electrical and plumbing. Then I have to insulate and have the insulation inspected. I can then move on to drywall, taping and mud, sanding, priming, painting, trim and then finally I can install the flooring. Wow! And I haven't even talked about cabinets. So, it will be a while before I'm entirely finished. I didn't take this on without my eyes open. I knew it would be a lengthy process and challenging at that!

"Challenges make you discover things about yourself that you never really knew. They're what make the instrument stretch - what make you go beyond the norm." ~ Cicely Tyson ~

Monday, June 29, 2009

If It Is To Be, It Is Up To Me!

I told you that I have alot to recap so I'm about to get on with it... The first photo is of the ceiling fan in the three season porch (my favorite room :). Actually one of the bulbs is broken so the base is screwed in with no bulb to turn it out with. I just learned that I can cut a potato and force that onto the broken base and turn it out that way (otherwise I'll work it out with a pliers). I'll let you know which works.

"The best place to find a helping hand is at the end of your own arm." ~ Swedish Proverb ~

The second photo is of the type of ceiling fixture I put in two of the bedrooms and the hallway. These were already wired, so it was merely a matter of replacing the fixture. I had never done that before so I learned about ground wires, live wires, capping things off in the right combination, tugging on my wires ensuring a permanent connection and of course, I triple-checked to make sure I did things right.

The third picture is of the flexible track lights my brother helped me install in the kitchen above the sink. The former track lights are in the fourth picture (the large lights in a straight line). So that takes care of the lights I replaced. The fourth photo also shows the holes cut for the pendant lights to be installed over the new bar. Now we get to the thirteen can lights I cut holes in the living and dining room ceilings and fished the wiring between the holes. Photo five shows the circles I drew on the ceiling using the template included in the can light and the holes I cut (hopefully avoiding beams - luckily I hit only one). The electrician I hired had to do the actual installation and final wiring hooking it up to the electric, etc. I wouldn't try to do this myself on the sly because it can cause alot of problems down the line. Let's say there was an electrical fire and the insurance company double checked the permits that were pulled on the house and found that no permits were pulled for those lights that caused the fire. Then they wouldn't pay for the damages. So, you're better off doing it legally and cover your bases.

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." ~ John Wooden ~

I'd say the worst part in installing the can lights is the blow-in cellulose insulation in the rafter area. You can't move without it falling all over you and everything else. VERY MESSY! Also, because the living and dining room ceilings are slightly vaulted running the fish-tape from hole to hole to pull the wire through was nearly impossible because the rafters were scissoring across each other. Honestly, by the end of successfully pulling all the wire, I felt a miracle had occurred. Now I know why electricians charge so much for that part of the job!

"Patience is a bitter plant that produces sweet fruit." ~ Charles Swindoll ~

The sixth picture is of the hole we cut in the ceiling to install the chandelier. Since chandeliers are heavier, we needed to support it extremely well. So, we installed a two by four fit between the rafters so that you could swing from it if you wanted. No need to fear on the support for that light. Of course, we have a bit of drywalling and plastering to do, but well worth the extra effort.

"Right action is the key to good living." ~ Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions ~

I don't expect that I'll be doing that any time again soon. But it's nice to have that in my repertoire of experience. I think I'll always be nervous about working around electric. If you've ever grabbed a live wire (I did as a kid when Dad was wiring an outlet - it's a cold grinding feeling) you'll never want to repeat it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Look For The Gift!

"Every new day begins with possibilities. It's up to us to fill it with the things that move us toward progress and peace." ~ Ronald Reagan ~

This is the view of the backyard from the deck in the morning. The house sits on a double-wide lot so it's quite large and open. It's the best backyard I've ever had as it is completely fenced in for the dog and my dog and I love it. I have never known him to stay outside for hours. He investigates all perimeters each day, then sits under the shade tree waiting for people (with dogs) to pass by on the walking path in the park behind the house. There is plenty of wildlife to check on every
morning with birds and bunnies living in the wild back there. You can hear the birds scolding him when he gets too close to their nest. Yes, it's idyllic and I can just imagine sitting on the steps having my morning coffee, absorbing the beauty of nature.

"Each day the world is born anew for him who takes it right
ly." ~ James Russell Lowell ~

"The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises." ~ Leo Buscaglia ~

Here is some gardening I did out in the front. The tree surround was already there but some of the stones were out of line because the roots of the tree grew too large beneath certain areas. It required removing sections of stone and trimming the root (sculpting it, so to speak) to permit the stones to lie flat. This season, that is about all I intend on accomplishing in the yard.

"True wisdom lies in gathering the precious things out of each day as it goes by." ~ E. S. Bouton ~

So, don't forget to look for the gift in each day! Because there is always.... and I mean ALWAYS a gift ... if you remember to look for it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In The Middle of Difficulty

As mentioned in a previous post, the first photo is of the two flats of fifty-five boxes of hardwood flooring that was delivered (dumped) in my driveway that I had to carry into the garage. Although it was challenging, one musters the strength to do what one has to do and feels good about it once done (although a little sore).

"Life only demands from you the strength you possess." ~ Dag Hammarskjold ~

The second photo is of the hardwood flooring in bedroom number two that I had to remove. It was perfectly good flooring, but it ran the wrong direction and it also was difficult to match. The photo below shows all the nails in each of the boards I removed. All the nails had to be ground off with the rotary grinder so that they could be stacked and ready to reinstall at my brother's duplex someday. 'Can't waste perfectly good flooring like that.

"Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity." ~ Albert Einstein ~

If you've looked at my profile, my profession is in the fine and graphic arts so I am definitely stepping out of my comfort zone with this project. But I am enjoying stretching my boundaries, learning and doing new things and I've noticed a spring in my step going up the stairs. Is it hard? Very! But, I've learned that I can do it. And, that's a pretty good feeling....

Friday, June 19, 2009

Images of Probabilities

"The moment of enlightenment is when a person's dreams of possibilities become images of probabilities." ~ Vic Braden ~

As promised, these are the floor plans and design changes that I submitted to the city for the building permit. The first floor changes include all the overhead lights, chandelier and pendant lights I am installing and the location I managed to squeeze a half bath into (which required moving the entry closet to the left of the front door).

The second floor changes include radically enlarging the closets in bedrooms two and three. The original only bathroom in the house will now have a whirlpool tub. The former master bedroom closet will now become the master bathroom by breaking through a wall and incorporating part of the space in the three season porch for the shower and the master bedroom closet. All floors will be covered either in 3/4" prefinished oak hardwood or ceramic tile.

Another economical success was shopping at an appliance liquidation sale where I purchased a french door/bottom freezer refrigerator, five burner gas stove, microwave rangehood and dishwasher, all in stainless steel, delivered, for the price of a refrigerator in the regular marketplace. That scored some wiggle-room in my budget, which I was quite happy about.

"Every man is the architect of his own fortune." ~ Sallust ~

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Catching Up

I hate to admit that I traveled once again ... but what can I say? When the opportunity arises one must go with the flow. I went down to St. Petersburg, Florida, to visit two very good friends. I've seen each from time to time individually, but this is the first time in ten years we've all been in the same room together. Besides reminiscing, walking the beaches, making more memories, and eating out every meal, we went to the Dali Museum in Tampa. There's a music video I love that shows a drawing of a telephone with a lobster as the mouth and earpiece. I always wondered about that. I was
elated to know that it actually was a nod to Salvador Dali.

I've been working like crazy on the house. 'Had to get the building permit from the city inspectors office which took some time. I will try to scan the floorplan and the changes I am making to the house that I had to submit for approval. It's a little ambitious but, God willing, the house will be absolutely wonderful once complete.

"Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." ~ Aristotle ~

I did find the prefinished wood flooring I was shopping for and at an unbelievable price ... two entire floors to be done for $3,000.00. That's unheard of! I once spent that much for a hallway (installed of course). This price is for material only and I will do the installation. I did pay for it in another way though .... when they delivered the flooring, they simply left two bundled flats of fifty-five boxes in the driveway and drove off. 'Couldn't leave it there, so I cut the bundles apart and carried each box of about seventy-five pounds into the garage. Once again a test to my physical endurance. Everyday life wins out against the trainers at the gym!

So much more to cover. I've been working sometimes until 9:00 at night. I've got a lot to catch up on but I remembered to take pictures so it should be fairly easy to recap! Later.... !

Sunday, May 3, 2009

In Time of Need

'Sorry for the lapse in posting on my blog. It surprises me when I find other people behave differently than what I expect ... perhaps I keep my face turned so much to the sun that I fail to see that they are looking at the shadows. But, it's alright because you can't get through life happily without being "oft forgiving~most kind".

"Guard within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness." ~ George Sand ~

Snoqualmie Pass, WA and Couer D'Alene, ID

So, that lesson learned, I was immediately tested on my commitment to a family member. Without boring you with details, the end result is that I spent a month and a week assisting him in rejoining his wife and child.

"We are not put on this earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are always there for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you." ~ Jeff Warner~

Missoula, MT and St. Joseph, MO

It was both a trying and memorable experience and resulted in much happiness. Since I had the only valid drivers license, I was enlisted to drive a 14 foot UHaul truck with a flat-bed car trailer towed behind from Tacoma, WA, to St. Joseph, MO. This meant going over two mountain ranges to get there, but I have to hand it to UHaul, their equipment was excellent and performed beautifully. The first day was a little nerve-wracking, but the second and third days were as if I were driving a family van. The scenery was astonishingly beautiful, and the company was held hostage to companionable discussion, shared experience and comfortable silence. I will never regret putting the house on hold in order to have this memory with him. Thank God I wasn't locked into a nine to five job that would limit my ability to go.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


"Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together." ~Johann von Goethe ~

It seems I got lucky as far as neighbors go. The first few days I owned the house the neighbor across the street came over to talk and shovel the driveway with me. He managed to give me quite a bit of history about the neighbors...chatty storytelling. Apparently, one of the neighbors (she's in her nineties) was one of the first residents more than seventy years ago. She was newly married and hanging wash out to dry when a cow came up and nudged her in the back. Then who adopted and from what country, etc. Who got "frisky" after their kids were grown and ended up with a surprise baby at menopause. Well, I was thoroughly charmed by the conversation as he had such a matter-of-fact affect and colorful language (not in the swearing sense). And, I had assistance shoveling the snow to boot!

"He does good to himself who does good to his friend." ~ Erasmus ~

My next door neighbor came over to meet us as my brother, Mom and I were walking in one day. I introduced him to my brother and then he said he knew our mother (my brother and I were shooting a look at each other like - yeah, sure!). But, it turns out he drives bus for the adult day care that Mom attends and he did indeed know her. Well, Mom ended up in the hospital this past week (she's out now and recovering) and then it snowed. So, my brother and I came to the house today armed with shovels as we figured we would need to clear the snow to get the garbage bin filled with cement and tile out to the curb for pickup tomorrow. What did we find? The driveway was cleared. We could tell the next door neighbor had cleared a footpath for the postman to walk on from house to house and then continued on into my driveway and cleared that as well. Was it because he knew Mom was in the hospital and that I was busy caring for her? Perhaps. But it most certainly brought a smile to my face and filled my heart with gratitude.

"We are primarily on this earth not to see through one another, but to see one another through." ~ Peter De Vries ~

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No More Popcorn!

"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." ~ Zig Ziglar ~

Happy to say that by now I have managed to scrape all the popcorn texture off the 2nd floor ceilings and the lower level ceilings on the 1st floor. The first photo shows the tools I use, the most important of which is the garden mister. It has a continuous spray button on the spray lever and being that the water comes out as a mist you don't get all those drips falling back down on you. So, just moisten the popcorn and let it sit a couple of minutes and then start scraping. You will end up with a nice flat surface ready to be skim coated, sanded and painted.

"When we show respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us."
~Arapaho Indian Proverb ~

I do have to add that as I was spraying the ceiling I did notice that I was destroying the habitat of a very small spider. I figure the mist gave them fair warning to vacate the premises. And, I would prefer to live in a spider-free environment if possible. Those of you who have popcorn on their ceilings might want to check closer and see if these little creatures are watching over you as well.

"When a person is sufficiently motivated, discipline will take care of itself."
~ Sir Alexander Paterson ~

I always keep a couple of projects going at the same time so when I tire of one I can move on to the other. My other easier project is to remove all the carpet tack at the borders of each room. Won't be needing that anymore! I am shopping for hardwood floors which I should be able to get for half price if I do the install myself. So, I'm off to do some shopping!