Thursday, November 29, 2007

In a Funk

Mom always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Wanted Festive Blog Photos

While decking the halls and making spirits bright, my plan for today was to take an updated porch photo to add to the header up there at the top of the page. I thought it would add a nice festive touch to the old blog. Yeah, it ain't happenin'. Pouring rain. So in the meantime just envision simple evergreen wreathes on each door, swags of mixed greens on the windowsills and a couple of antique sleds leaning in the corner where Fred the furn used to be. Voila, it's now updated in your mind!

What happened to Fred? Fred's dead. I kinda forgot about Fred, and well those east coast fellas don't last long here in the winter. Not that his life expectancy would have been any longer inside, I can kill a houseplant faster than green grass through a goose.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Snug as Bugs in a Rug

Now that we have the doors and all the cracks and crevices in the basement hermetically sealed, it's remarkably warmer in here. Downstairs anyway. Upstairs you still get that, "Oh my God these sheets are cold" feeling. We need more insulation in the attic. But until then I'll just keep my eyes peeled for some flannel sheets. Of course I can't just run to Wally World and pick some up. No, we've got those darn ultra thick mattresses that require ultra-mega-super deep sheets. So I have to search high and low for flannel sheets that don't require me to sell one of my kidney's to afford them. Nothing is ever easy around here.

Now that the insulation is up in the garage, I'm told it's nice and toasty out there too. I wouldn't know. I froze my butt off trying to clean up the front porch and hang the holiday decorations and have thus declared all outdoor activities postponed until spring. Or until my butt thaws anyway.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The War of the Whistle

The General's first plan of attack consisted of this.

(blink, blink) Go ahead, I laughed too.

When that didn't flush out the bad guy, he sent in some bigger guns. It ain't pretty, but it has stopped the gushing winds coming in under the door, thus keeping our toes warmer. Still whistling though.

So The General, following his trusty advisor's strategic plan, developed this major line of defense. Fancy new Plexiglas inserts for the screen doors. The theory being that it would deflect some of the gale force winds out here on the prairie. They work surprisingly well. But of course there's still some air getting in around the outer edges of the screen doors. So he's starting to win the battles, but not time to call home the troops yet.

The Plexiglas, in combination with the aid of the highly skilled canine unit, did however provide him with the necessary intelligence to pinpoint the location of the bad guy. Right there it is. That nice trim detail that holds the 100 year old wavy glass in the door.

By all rights, it needs to be carefully removed and re glazed. But it's going to drop 30 degrees today. So until spring, we have no choice but to keep it captured in the Frost King's tomb.

And if THAT doesn't win the war...


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Look What We Found

Friday we looked around for some blacksmithing supplies. Not only did Grandpa have an anvil, he also had a vice, hammers, clamps, all we need is a forge.

Keep in mind, it's the packrats that will rule the earth once it all hits the fan and everyone is running amok. Remember Mad Max? I come from a long line of packrats. You should be nice to us, we will be the power brokers when that day comes.

Then, while cleaning the stinkin' bugs out of the basement we found this hidden above a door. Someone was boozin' it up down there many, many moons ago.

But I think the most interesting find of the weekend was... a fungus bigger than your head. Cool, eh?

I believe it's called an elephant ear. But, I doubt it's as tasty as the one's you get at the fair.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kids These Days

Jarrod and his crew from Hi-N-Dri Guttering are here today. They're out there braving the cold, the bugs, dangling off precariously placed ladders 20 feet in the air. Obviously they're younger than we are. With age comes wisdom. We've reached the point in our lives where we know how much it's going to hurt when we hit the ground. So certain home improvement projects are going to be left to the professionals, the young, or the insane; whomever we can convince to get up there.

They quickly started removing the miniature roof moats we had previously. If you click on the above picture you can see the water draining from the gutter. It hasn't rained here for about a week. So they weren't really gutters. They were moats.

Very full moats.

Check out the size of this ladder. Nothing in this universe would ever convince me to climb up on that thing. Not even chocolate.

I feel the need to point out that they are here, working their tails off on the day they said they would. Such a rarity with contractors now days. And the best part, they're crazy, er I mean young, enough to come back and clean them out for us next year.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bug Sucking

I'm writing a letter to the USDA. I want to know the name of the moron who brought these blankety-blank Asian beetles here. You know they know who did it. I want his name so I can give him back the 6,000,000,000,000,000 little buggers I've sucked up into my vacuum cleaner the past three days. Or shoot him. One or the other.

Oh sure, some of you are sitting there thinking "there she goes exaggerating again". Um, no, not this time people. Even the gutter guy was freaked out when he stopped here the other day. It's a lot like a horror flick really. They're attracted to light colors. This big old white house is just a giant bug magnet at this point. A big old orange polka dot magnet.

They're everywhere, all day. They try to jump in my coffee, they crawl over my freshly folded laundry, they drown themselves in the dog water bowl, they're dive bombing me from the lamp as I type.

On the bright side, these blankety blank bugs do somehow cause that annoying whistling noise the door is making seem like a pleasant serenade.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Half Way There

According to Chantix's nifty little online support program, I'm half way there. Half of the 90 day program is over. So after 45 days of wanting to bash my head into a brick wall, I should now consider myself an ex-smoker.

Okay, I'll go with that, but there are still days that are worse than others. Today for instance. I've noticed when I'm not feeling so well, the cravings last longer and are more frequent. Other days it's not so bad. So I think the key now is to figure out how to survive these bad days.

I'm making muffins. Then I might just skip the cookies I'd planned and pour the bag of chocolate chips right in my mouth.

Hey, they said I should celebrate. I'm just workin' the plan.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Mentee

"It is not what we give but what we share, For the gift without the giver is bare."

Blacksmiths are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. So willing to share their knowledge and skill. So willing to encourage and support a young boy who shows interest in the craft. Of course I suppose today was a bit of a novelty for them, too. I doubt they normally have droves of middle school age boys knocking at their door wanting to join their club. So the kid caused a little bit of a stir at the blacksmith association meeting today. They were even taking pictures to add to their website.

After four hours of playing with fire and beating a piece of hot metal with a hammer, here he is with his tired and cheesy grin and his first hook.

We're guessing he'll have to eat his breakfast in the morning with his other arm. He's going to be sore. But he thoroughly enjoyed himself and is disappointed he has to wait an entire month for the next meeting. There was a gentleman there who lives much closer to us who volunteered to help mentor as well once he gets his own forge finished. That will be nice.

Now we're looking around at getting him the necessary basics to set up shop in the barn. It's starting to look like we may have to mortgage the house in order to support his new hobby. Have you priced an anvil lately? Good grief! So we're hoping we'll be able to shop Grandpa's tool shed and pick up a few things there at a much more reasonable price!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Service Technician Saves Christmas and Possibly Lives

The wonderful aroma emitted from the heating vents when I kicked the furnace on for the first time this season reminded me it was time to have it serviced. Today was the day, he promptly showed up at 8:15 this morning. I pointed him in the direction of the basement and went about my business.

Soon after he returns and asks if I have a garbage bag. He announces that our chimney is clogged and not allowing the furnace to vent properly, he's already removed a five gallon bucket of debris. I'm obviously alarmed and concerned, but he seems to just shrug it off and claims it's common with old chimneys. Then he goes back about his business.

Twenty minutes later, he's back. He needs another garbage bag. This time I decide to go back down with him to inspect what's going on down there. He shows me where he's getting all the debris from. There's no trap at the bottom of the chimney, like most have. He was actually digging the debris from the point where the duct meets the chimney. I was looking straight at it. That means there is five foot of dead birds, nests, droppings and other chimney crud in the bottom of that chimney!!! After recoiling from the horror of it all, he calmed me down by saying that as long as there's enough room for the duct to vent we're ok. I don't necessary agree with that statement, but he is the expert I suppose.

In fact he's the guy who installed this furnace to begin with. He mentioned that he doesn't recall the previous owners ever having him come back to service it. Nice. He proceeded to pull out about two foot of the crud and then apologized for having to charge me an extra $40 to do so. I was thinking $40 was a bargain since I wasn't about to reach my hand in there.

Before he left, he of course recommended that we have it serviced every year. I asked him what day he'd like to come back. He laughed and said to call him next spring. I wasn't trying to be funny.

And that, boys and girls, is how the technician saved Christmas. Now Santa wont get stuck in our chimney. And hopefully we now won't die of asphyxiation during the night.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Strategic Home Improvements

While it may seem as if we're running around here like chickens with our heads cut off, there really is a plan. It's just that some things are easier if you do other things first. And some things require that they be done in a certain order. So there's a lot of strategic planning involved in an old home renovation. Then of course you have to throw in the gotta-do-it-now damage control projects.

This spring we had the roof replaced. We also needed to replace all the guttering, given that it all flows in the opposite direction than what it should. And for those of you not intimately attune to the functional properties of guttering, that's bad. So we made all the phone calls. Collected all the quotes. Decided on a contractor. Who of course, never bothered to come back. And now isn't accepting our calls.

Fast forward a few months and we are making the phone calls, collecting the quotes...
because the gutter replacement now fits into the strategic plan. If we wait one more week after all the leaves have fallen, we won't have to clean them out!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

When the Wind Blows

Okay, remember those screen doors that my wonderful DH spent hours and hours refurbishing and replacing? Yeah, they are now whistling Dixie. I can't even describe how annoying it is. Not the horrible moaning sound like the doors in the old farmhouse I grew up in. No. This is a high pitch whistle. A very annoying whistle. If it were doing more of a cat call whistle I might not mind it so much. At least it might make me feel good about myself. No. This is a whistle like someone trying to learn to whistle. Did I mention how bloody annoying it is?

Tis also the season for things to blow into the yard. Things like corn husks and such. Which means it is also the season for the dog to go nuts. Lucy, unlike my DH, actually has OCD. Anything out of place in the yard or house gets barked at until relocated to it's proper position. I thought it was cute at first. Five years later it's about as cute as that whistling.

On the home improvement front, I don't have much to report. I did, however, get some sewing done lately. Like finishing this quilt.

I have an online friend who names her quilts like meteorologists name hurricanes. I've decided to name this one Katrina. Why? Well, it was a disaster waiting to happen. I was way in over my head. But in the end, it was a valuable learning experience.