Monday, September 30, 2013


I know everybody is complaining about them.  We are no different.  We've got them and hate them, too.  Stink bugs. 
The trees are full of them. The chimney sweep guy who came on Thursday said that our area is one of the worst.  Lucky us.  I asked him not to judge us by the number of stink bugs in our chimney.  He laughed, but I have a feeling he was thinking it.  
This is just one side of the house:
Please note the sneakiness of these bugs.  They know to stay in the high places of the house, just out of my reach.
The front door, garage, and back door are just as bad. Every evening as the late afternoon sun warms the trees, they come out in droves.  Swarms.  Walt Kowalski attacks with the broom.  I attack with the swatter.  We could (and have) spent hours in this battle.  Getting into and out of the house is difficult.  They cover the screens and stick to your back hitchhiking inside when you're not looking.
We have even started keeping the windows shut to help slow down the traffic into the house, but even the glass isn't stopping them.  They find a way in through every little crack and crevice.   
We had a camp fire on the back patio one evening.  What we didn't realize was that the smoke from our fire created a bug bomb.  All of the stink bugs hiding in the oak tree leaves above, came out choking and coughing and flew right down on to us sitting below. 
Then yesterday afternoon, to make matters worse, we have a new battle to fight.  In addition to fighting the stink bug battle, a batch of flying ants hatched.  At least the stink bugs are slow movers.  The flying ants are fast.  They fly at your face, in your drink, in your food, in your hair.  gag.
I know this is their last hurrah.  They know it, too. The yellow jackets are especially annoying this time of year, too.  They are arrogant. 
*sigh* Remind me again why I like living in the forest? 
How about a pretty picture so we stop thinking about bugs:
Ahhh that's better. Walt Kowalski bought me these and a bunch of yellow.  My two favorite mum colors. 
I cropped the photo so you couldn't see the stink bugs.   :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sick Day

Walt Kowalski and I are healthy individuals.  (Knock on wood.)  We eat well.  Take our vitamins.  Wash our hands.  Exercise.  Wash our hands. 
The students are always sick.  (Just one reason I'm always washing my hands.)  Several of my co-workers are regularly sick.  Some are "sick" on a regular basis, too.  Don't get me wrong, I do not wish sickness upon anybody.  But as a healthy individual, sometimes I feel short-changed and over-worked. 
I know that sick days aren't just for being ill.  Doctor appointments, family doctor appointments, sick children, snow delays, school events.  I am not a sick day abuser.  The *official* use in our employee handbook says 'health reasons, family care obligations, and other conditions that have a bearing on physical and mental welfare.'

Other conditions that have a bearing on physical and mental welfare.  Hmmmm

Have I used a sick day when I wasn't sick? Yes.  
Have I come to work when I should have taken a sick day?  Yes.  

I have been nursing a sore heel for the last few weeks.  Heck, last week when I cut my finger I could have very easily taken a sick day.  Typing was not easy.  I bandaged it so I could type.  I could have bandaged it so I couldn't type and the injury could have prevented me from doing my job.  

I also know I have personal days and vacation days.  So do my co-workers.   

Is there an allowance for taking a sick day when your co-workers come to work when they are sick? 

Dear co-worker, You are sick, but you are at work.  Therefore, I am taking a sick day so I don't get your cold.  I'm taking a sick day because you should have taken one.  You are infecting the entire office.  Thank you.

Walt Kowalski said if he counted he'd probably see that he has co-workers that have used more days off than days worked. 

Physical and mental welfare. 

Either way, sounds like tomorrow might be a personal mental health day. 
No fake coughs needed.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Yesterday after work, Walt Kowalski and I stopped home to the Cat Ranch before heading to House #1 to demo the bathroom.  The last room to demo! 

Hanging on the handle of our front door was a jacket.  A long sleeve, blue plaid, hooded jacket.  The kind I would wear on a cold fall day to work outside.  But it wasn't mine.

Walt Kowalski noticed it first.  I said 'Oh, Grammy must have been in the neighborhood and stopped by.  It's probably one of dad's old ones that she doesn't want him to wear anymore.'

Walt Kowalski said 'See if she left you a note in the pocket.'

No note in the pocket. 

Instead, I found $2 in one pocket and a silver teaspoon in the other pocket. 

This is weird.

I smelled it and it didn't smell familiar either. 

Walt Kowalski said 'Let's see if she left a note inside the house and what else she left.'

No note in the house either. No other evidence of Grammy in the house either.  Walt Kowalski said 'Call Grammy and find out if she left it.'  I did.  She didn't.  Grammy said she wasn't at the house at all. 

This is getting weirder. 

So who dropped off a long sleeve, blue plaid, hooded jacket with two dollars and a teaspoon in the pocket at the Cat Ranch?

Walt Kowalski set the jacket back outside.  it was a little too mysterious for him.  I washed the spoon.  The two dollars are in the basket in the kitchen.  The owner of the jacket can claim them all.

Eventually we made it to House #1.  Walt Kowalski had to drag me away from the garden department at the home improvement store.  We worked most of the evening trying to get the fiberglass bathtub surround off of the wall.  Tonight we will prevail. 

It was a very small room for two people swinging hammers. I get a little overzealous trying to help at times.  Walt Kowalski is always very careful and I am so thankful.  He joked and said, 'With the two of us, we really should be wearing hard hats and have 911 on speed dial.'  He knows me so well. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Page 101

The other day Walk Kowalski said 'do you ever get that feeling you're being watched?' and gestured to the living room where we saw this:

Oreo in the middle licking her lips, Mama on the left plotting, and Cocoa Fluff on the right.  I don't think Cocoa was in on the plot.  She just has the look of fear in her eyes like she always does.
Reading evades me lately.  I read most of the daily newspaper everyday (sometimes a day late).  I've been reading the same book for two months now.  I read about 4 pages a day.  The morning, when I'm drying my hair, is the when I get those 4 pages read. 
Today was a little more difficult.  I could read only pages on the right.  *sigh*

Please notice the clothes basket in the background.  It's empty of clean clothes!  That is such a rare occasion.  I cut out the portion of the photo with the pile of dirty clothes on the floor next to it.  small victories.


Monday, September 23, 2013


The bird feeder was empty again. *again* Completely empty.  Every single last seed.  Gone.
Walt Kowalski just filled it up.  We do have a nice selection of nuthatches, sparrows, chickadees, and every now and then a yellow finch.  Although, the yellow finches prefer the seeds of cone flowers out in the big garden, they occasionally stop by the feeder. 
Maybe it was a busy weekend.  Maybe the birds are storing up for the winter.  Maybe they were having a tailgate party for the many sport competitions this weekend. 
That's what it was.  They had their tiny tvs set up and their bird friends were coming over.  Of course they needed the extra snacks. You know, the Pirates were playing the Cardinals.  :)
No, that wasn't the case.  Oreo found the culprit. 

That little rat chipmunk (and I'm being nice here) wasn't content with just eating at the feeder.  Noooooooo.  He had to eat IN the feeder.  Now I know why every single last seed was gone.  Birds aren't that neat.

Now we have to put a lock on the lid of the feeder.  I would be surprised if the next time we look out he's trying to pick the lock.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sweating and swearing

We took the evening off again last night.  (har, har)  Instead of working inside at House #1, we decided to go home to the Cat Ranch and work outside on a lovely evening.  It was nice.  We know these evenings are fleeting, so this was an opportunity we didn't want to miss.

We also watched the weather that is predicting rain on Saturday.  Sounds like a good day to work inside.

On our evening off, we came home and changed into our "play clothes."  I headed out to the garden to move some more hostas and Walt Kowalski attacked the growing wood pile.  Our wood pile is small in comparison to Chain Saw Johnny's because we're only making recreational fires for the evenings we're in the game room. We like the smaller branches, but they still need split.  That's what Walt Kowalski was working on. Once he's got them split, we can restack and reorganize the pile.

Three hostas came out easily.  There are at least four more that I want to move from the big garden to the wall behind the house.  The digging out is the easy part.  Digging the holes in the new location is the harder part.  It's digging through rocks and roots.  Rocks from the wall and roots from the former shrubs.  There are stumps that need major picking to get them out. 

It took me a 1/2 hour to dig out the hostas and 1 1/2 hours to dig the holes to put them back in.  It is very frustrating.  I just have to remember it will look nice next year.  I also don't want to plant the new perennials we just purchased until I move the hostas. 

So while I'm digging and sweating and digging and swearing and digging and sweating, Walt Kowalski is swinging his maul and splitting the wood.  Throw in the other "night off" to-do items, water flowers, clean litter boxes, take down trash (I did this for Walt Kowalski because he was busy and it was a small trash week), do a load of laundry, sort out a few papers, fold some laundry, kill a few stink bugs, pack gym bags for the morning, and get some dinner cooking.

I've been sorting out paper from Walt Kowalski's old house.  It has really put me in the mood to sort through my own mess of papers and junk.  It is easier to clean out someone else's papers.  I have no personal connection to these items.  Burn pile. Old bank statements from 1989, burn pile. Old electric bills from 1993, burn pile.  Old cancelled checks, burn pile. 

Maybe I should let Walt Kowalski clean out my boxes.

(No, I don't have attachment to old electric bills. I'm not THAT bad.)

I've burned 4 boxes of old paper work and still have a few boxes to go. But I have also saved at least 2 boxes of good paper work, baseball cards, family mementos, and photographs.  Every photo I find I say to Walt Kowalski 'who is this and what was going on?'  Here is today's memory:

Walt Kowalski said 'See, that's when we had real snow.  That's also before child labor laws! Look at that child abuse!'  Isn't he a cutie. 

As I was upstairs cooking dinner, and cutting my finger (hasn't even chef got a finger cut at some point?), Walt Kowalski was downstairs fighting a war on stink bugs.  This war started outside before the wood chopping and continued inside.  His weapons of mass destruction included the shop vac and a fire. Powerful tools.  He said the chimney was polluted with them and as the smoke got to them they would fall.  gag.

As he's sending them to their fiery death, he happened to notice one in between the stones on our fireplace. Tucked in tight, this bug was not going anywhere.  Neither were all of his friends in all of the other gaps.

If you've never seen the fireplace in our game room, here's a photo to give you a better idea:

This is unfinished.  We covered the brick at the bottom with more stone. 

Those darn bugs came down the chimney and crawled in between each stone on our fireplace.  Walt Kowalski swept every single crack to remove those darn bugs.  He also swept up all the spiders, webs, and kitty litter.  Then he stoked the fire to warm the game room for dinner. 

We love our game room, but it neglected in the summer.   He did a great job. 

Our "night off" was just as busy as any other night. 

P.S. My finger will be fine.  The nail will grow back.  In the meantime, it's going thumpa, thumpa, thumpa, as any sore finger does and, inevitably, I have bumped it on everything. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One last kibble

It was Sam's Club day at the Cat Ranch.  The cats got dry food, Walt Kowalski got vitamins, and I got bread. I shared with Walt Kowalski, but not the cats.

Cocoa Fluff, the cat who is scared of bags, was willing to risk this particular bag. 

And we aren't just talking about a few loose kibbles at the edge of the bag, she went for the gold at the bottom of the bag.  There are always a few that just won't come out easily.

This is the cat that is afraid when I bring a bag of groceries into the house.  The same cat that is afraid when I pull the full garbage out of the can under the sink.  The same cat that hides in fear in the basement when I replace the garbage bag under the sink!
But when you add food to the mix, the bravery appears. 
It was her bag, and she was not giving it up. After we emptied the food into smaller containers, they each took turns crawling inside and licking the bag.  When I thought they were done with it, I picked it up to take it and reuse it for garbage.  I went to grab the small trash cans in the bathrooms and when by the time I came back, Fudge had pushed it off of the pool table, onto the floor, and was licking it some more.  
They are starving, don't you know.   Of course, if you talk to Grammy their mother doesn't feed them. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Lick and a promise

Grammy, my sister, and my nieces have been hearing all about this project at House #1.  They have listened to our stories of construction and demolition.  Except in pictures, they have never seen the house.

This past weekend they were in the area for the afternoon and I gave them the 10 cent tour.    I should really increase that to 25cents because of inflation.

They liked it.  They liked to be able to see it in progress and get a better idea of everything in person, not just in pictures.  The kids had lots of questions and Grammy and my sister had good ideas for the remodel.

My youngest niece commented at one point that the people who lived in this house previously must have been very poor.  Grammy said "No, they were lazy.  You can have no money, but still keep a clean and decent house.  My grandmother had no money and lots of kids but she had the cleanest house in town.  Everybody had to clean up."  She is correct.  Her grandmother, my great-grandmother, would be very disappointed in the Cat Ranch right now. 
I don't consider myself lazy.  Time-challenged would be a better term. Although given the choice of sitting by the fire or cleaning the bathroom, sitting by the fire is going to win every time.  Hands down.
We found out just recently that 14 people once lived in the house.  

14 people! 

14 people with one bathroom upstairs and a single toilet in the basement (which might have been a recent addition).  Let that sink in for a moment.
I can't think of 14 people I want to go on vacation with for a week let alone share living space. 
Can you imagine the shoes piled up at the front door?  There's only two of us and this morning and there were 10 pair of shoes by the front door.  Those cats must wear a lot of shoes. 

P.S. My granny often said she gave her house a lick and promise, meaning she cleaned it real quick and promised she'd do it better next week.  Her real quick lick was still WAY better than my good.  :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hen of the Woods

How can it be Monday already? Obviously, when I leave my office on Friday afternoons, I must bump the fast forward button. Maybe it's when I close the door.  Which would make sense why when I open my office door on Monday, time slows down.

We took a couple of days off from House #1 and House #2.  The Cat Ranch needed some attention.  The pile of wood lath needing burned from House #1 was huge, the grass needed mowed, weeds needed pulled, laundry, trash cleaned up, flowers needed transplanted. The list goes on.

Walt Kowalski did the mowing.  I did the trash clean up along the road.  I could clean up trash along our road every day.  (The trash situation along the road is a rant...uh...I mean post for another day.)  Then moved a few hostas from the main garden to the back wall.  Throw in a few loads of laundry, and you've got the day wrapped up. 

Walt Kowalski works with a guy who has a friend that found a truck load of sheepshead mushrooms on his property.  These are the non-deadly variety of mushrooms found in the forest.  This is what one looks like:

They grow in clusters at the base of oak trees.  Oak trees!  We've got lots of those!  We looked in years past with no luck.  Maybe next year.

This year, the friend of the co-worker of Walt Kowalski didn't have the space to clean and store all of the mushrooms he was able to gather.  We were the beneficiaries of the mushrooms.  No complaints from us.

This sink full was just one portion.  After cleaning, we had 5 gallon-sized storage bags full of mushrooms and a lot of wet paper towels and dish towels.

 Here is a close up view. The brown bits you see aren't dirt.  That's just part of the mushroom.

So these mushrooms have been burning a hole in our freezer for the last week when Walt Kowalski brings home another three bags!  We have hit the mushroom jackpot!

Just in time for cool weather.  Nothing says autumn like soup.

And easy soup too.  AND and opportunity to use up some of the homemade broth I have been saving from every chicken and roast I made all summer. 

Carmelize an onion, throw in the mushrooms, add a little flour, and the broth.  Let it simmer for 30 minutes, add a little sour cream and some milk. 


Soup by the campfire.   I joked with Walt Kowalski that we were camping.  We both smiled and agreed that this was our type of camping. 

Walt Kowalski gets soup for lunch today and we're having more for dinner tonight.

I used about half of one of those gallon-sized bags of mushrooms.  There is going to be a lot of mushroom soup and dishes in our future.  I have never been a big cream of soup kinda person, but this was really good.  Thanks to the homemade broth it wasn't too salty (always a complaint of commercial soups)  I tasted the soup just before I added the cream and milk and it was good that way, too.  Hmmm, another soup idea?

As we were eating Walt Kowalski said "You know what would be really good in here?  Add some chicken.  Then, for the next meal, you could make a few dumpkins for in it.  Then for the next meal, you could put it over a bed of mashed potatoes.  Then..."

There is no better compliment to a cook than seeing smoeone enjoy a meal.  Especially an experimental meal.  I make soup all the time (even in summer) but cream of mushroom soup was a first for me.  It won't be the last. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

In today's news...

As I was putting on my shoes this morning, I noticed that I still have my summer decorations up.  Technically, I still have my spring wreath up. 

It's half way through September.  I need to get some fall leaves up. 

Then as we were leaving, I noticed the light in the entrance.

It appears I have started to decorate for Halloween after all.  These are the authentic decorations.  No fake spider webs for us.

The rooms downstairs in House #1 have ceiling lights.  They had old ceiling fans, but we took those down and just replaced them with blubs for the time.  But this means we can work later as it is getting darker earlier.  This also means we are working later.  Just one more wall.  Just another half hour.  Just another few boards. 

I'm just as guilty.  I might be slow to start, but once I get going, I want to keep going.  We always have to remember to leave to time to clean up so we can start fresh the next day.  Having to start by cleaning up yesterday's mess is no way to start the day's mess. 

Walt Kowalski found an old classified section of newspaper when he took out the built-in cupboard in the kitchen.

June 13, 1928
 Life was different back then.  There was three different articles about people being killed by trains.  These weren't front page news articles either. 

All of the articles were very small.  Then again, it was a small local newspaper.  I liked this about the Lincoln Highway.  I'd like to search for more information to see what was changed and how close to it's current location it is.

The divorces section make me laugh.  My, this would be a humorous section of the paper today.  Cruel and barbarous treatment. 

How about renting a house?  Four rooms for $18 a month. Or six rooms, a cellar, and a attic for $30.
And if you wanted to buy a five room in excellent condition.  It includes a furnace, just incase you were worried.  $4,450. 

Look at the phone numbers, too. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Things I've learned the hard way #1

I put the #1 on this post because I know there will be more.
Every morning I pack a small container of nuts and berries for Walt Kowalski and a small container of nuts and vitamins for myself.  Walt Kowalski gets a weekly container of vitamins on Monday mornings.  I tried the weekly container and at the end of the week I brought it home full.  The container of vitamins sat right next to my nuts, but I just didn't remember to take them. 
Almonds are my daily nut of choice.  Sometimes I sneak in a cashew or Brazil nut from Walt Kowalski's mixed nuts. 
Before I close the lid of the nut container, I go to the other kitchen cupboard cabinet and add my daily vitamins.  A pink multi vitamin, folic acid, ginseng, Acai berry, and fish oil. I normally have chromium picolinate in the mix, but I'm out of those and need to get more. We used to take a separate vitamin E, but I've read too many things lately that we're already getting enough vitamin E in the multi and too much isn't good, so I only have those once a week.
There are two ginseng, Acai, and fish oils everyday.  I have one of each in the morning and afternoon. 
As I sit at my desk and drink my tea, I have a few almonds. The salty coating goes so well with the sweetness of the tea. Recently I picked up a container of cocoa roasted almonds.  I haven't had them in a while and now I know why.  I can't stop eating them!  I allow myself a few everyday with my regular almonds.
Today was the end of the bag of almonds, so there was lots of almond dust that ended up in the bottom of my nut container. (Even better it was all the salty bits.)  But it covered the rest of the nuts and vitamins. No big deal.
So here I am at work.  Type type type.  Sip tea. Have an almond. Answer telephone. Type type type.  Sip tea. Have an almond. Answer telephone.
Then it happened.  I accidentally picked up one of the fish oil vitamins, popped it into my mouth, and bit down like it was an almond.
I knew the moment it happened but it was too late. 
I should, should, have just swallowed the pill, fishy liquid and all, and then taken a big drink of tea.  But nooooooooo, I stupidly spit it out into my hand to throw it away in the trash can.
Now my hands smell like I just came from the House o'Crab Legs.  Which isn't a bad thing when you've just come from the House o'Crab Legs. It is a bad thing when you're in your office all day. 
Wash hands.
Wash hands.
Wash hands.
Wash hands.
Antibacterial hand sanitizer.
Wash hands.
Wash hands.
Wash hands.
Wash hands.
Antibacterial hand sanitizer.
sniff sniff. 

ick. House o'Crab Legs smell.

Wash hands.
Wash hands.
Wash hands.
Wash hands.
Antibacterial hand sanitizer.


I know it will go away in a few hours, but right now that's all I can smell.  ick.  
And now I want crab legs. 

Somewhere Walt Kowalski is reading this and saying "yum, crab legs."

Your Support and Influence Respectfully Solicited

We've found a lot of dirt in House #1.  We've found some crap in House #1.  We also found a couple of interesting items of local history.

Yesterday, as Walt Kowalski was removing kitchen walls and I was taking down the ceiling, a small business card fluttered to the floor.  Walt Kowalski picked it up and said "Hey, look at this."  so I looked.

Adam M. Wyant

Never heard of him.

The first thing that ran through my head was "Crap, another bit of history I should know and I don't."

Then I looked at the card.


Now I know why Walt Kowalski said to look.  He didn't know him either. He was amazed at how preserved the card was from 1932.

Now I need to know who Adam M. Wyant is.

Google and Wiki tell me that he was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from 1920 to 1932.  He was the first professional football player elected to the Congress. 

Born near Kittanning, he went to school in Chicago, then returned to the area to teach at the Mt. Pleasant Institute, Mt. Pleasant, PA.  In 1896, he moved to Greensburg and continued to play professional football with the Greensburg Athletic Association.  While still playing football, he became the first principal of Greensburg High School (now Greensburg-Salem) and soon became the city's first superintendent of schools. 

From superintendent and football player,  he went on to law school and practicing law in Greensburg and in 1920 headed for Congress. 

I still have never heard of him.   Want to bet that sometime in the next week his name will come up?


Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Here are a few before and after photos.  Or rather before and during. 
This is standing at the entrance to the dining room looking to the kitchen.

On the right is just one of two chimneys that will be removed.

This is looking into the living room.
This wall is a weight bearing wall, but Walt Kowalski has a plan so we can take it out and make a grand entrance into the house.

We still have a long way to go.  Last night was tough.  It was hot.  We were very sweaty. My knees and Walt Kowalski's forearms were sweating.  Very...unusual places to sweat. That is in addition to all the regular places to sweat.

Here's a view from in the living room towards the front entrance and why I thought removing the wall would open up bottom floor.  

The large hole in the floor was the former location of a register. 

We have come a long way.  Some days it seems like we will are running in place.  Pound, smash, sweep, shovel, haul, dumpster. Pound, smash, sweep, shovel, haul, dumpster.  Pound, smash, sweep, shovel, haul, dumpster. Lather, rinse, repeat as needed. 

Looking back at the photos from just over a month ago, we have made progress.

And trust me, after working in the dirt, we do need to repeat after the lather and rinse. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Backup update

We are no longer backed up.

The roter man came last Tuesday to unclog the clog and said that in his professional opinion he thought we had a problem at 40 feet our.  Part of the cleaning included a free camera inspection of the pipe, but the home owner had to be there, but we had 7 days within to do it. Oh darn, make me take a half day off of work. It was free and if we do have a bigger problem, now is the time to find out.

A different rotor man, who talked too much and got distracted easily, came on Thursday at noon. I re-explained the situation to him between his distractedness. 

No, we don't need the pipe unclogged, just the camera please.
Yes, the dogs are cute.
Yes, someone else was here to unclog the pipe, just the camera down the pipe please.
Yes, the water lines are new. 
No, I don't remember the other technician's name. 
Yes, just the camera down the pipes to see what is going on. 
No, we didn't hire a handyman to run the water lines Walt Kowalski did it. Yes, yes, Walt Kowalski did a good job of the new pipes.  
Just the camera down the pipe, please.
No, Walt Kowalski isn't looking for a job. Yes, he is very good at soldering he is a professional. 
Just the camera down the pipe, please.
Yes, it's a grinding wheel.
Yes, it came with the house.
Yes, I know it's an old house. 
Just the camera down the pipes please.
Yes, the dogs are cute.

Finally, finally, he got the camera down the pipe and started looking around.  His expert opinion was that there wasn't a break in the pipe at 40feet, there was a break in the pipe at 17feet.  Uh oh.  MUCH closer to the house than we expected and possibly our problem, not the city's problem.

Outside we go to locate the sensor at the end of the camera. 

Yes, the dogs are cute.
Just the location of the sensor, please. 
Yes, the swing is old. 
Just the location of the sensor, please. (The suspense is killing me and the thought of the bill isn't helping)
Yes, it's a quiet neighborhood. 

Finally, the location of the sensor. Right.On.The.Curb.  Sigh?  Maybe? 

He wasn't familiar enough with the city to know where our responsibility stopped and the city's responsibility started.  He had to talk to his manager. Really? What are we doing, selling a used car here?

But his manager gave us good news.  It was so close to the line where our responsibility ends and the city's begins that he wasn't going to give us prices for repairs until we talked to city.  *small sigh*

Ok. I can do that. 

Friday morning I called the city municipal authority.  She said that Pete was in a hole and he would call us back.  He did.  10 minutes later. 

I must not have been that big of a hole or they get good reception in holes in this area.

Pete said he and his men were in the area and would stop over that afternoon and run their own camera to find this "so-called" broken pipe and the home owner didn't have to be there.  That afternoon he could be there. THAT AFTERNOON!  I can hold my breath for a little longer.

Pete kept his word.  He was there that afternoon.  Inspected the pipe and gave us his report on his finds.

There was no broken pipe.  *SIGH*

What the rotor man saw was a broken piece of something stuck on the reducing coupling.  The coupling that reduces from the city's 6 inch pipe to the house's 4 inch pipe.  

This was probably the cause of the clog originally. 

Pete flushed the pipe again and gave it a clean bill of health.  He also said if we have another problem like this to call him first. 

If the entire city was run the Pete ran his department, the city wouldn't be in trouble.  Yeah Pete!

So for the cost of one rotor man we got the clog unclogged, a free camera inspection, another free camera inspection, a pipe flushing, and a big sigh of relief knowing we weren't going to have to dig up the front yard, basement floor, and sidewalk.

Sid I say *sigh*?

Roll with it baby

Every evening we have a pair of cardinals that visit our bird feeder in the back of the house. 
Male and female.  He and she. Husband and wife. 
They raised a family and brought their daughter to the feeder as well.  They were fun to watch.  Beautiful feathers.  
Every morning and afternoon we have a different male cardinal fighting with another male cardinal in the front of the house.  Or at least he thinks he's fighting with another male cardinal.
He's going to get that cardinal.  One of these days that bird in the mirror is going to let his guard down.
You can see the mess he is making on Old Blue.  We have been putting grocery bags over the mirrors of Big Red so this doesn't happen on the new truck.  Let's hope this cardinal doesn't think Big Red is actually a Big Red bird.  I don't think I have a grocery bag big enough to cover the entire truck.
We played the weather game last night.  We win the weather game about 50 percent of the time. Saturday was beautiful.  We were outside from 8am until 11pm.  Sunday was cloudy in the morning, but turned into a nice day.  Nice for moving, nice for nice for an evening by the fire.
Yesterday afternoon it got humid.  One of those days where everything sticks.  Your clothes stick to your body.  A strand of hair sticks to your face and you can't get rid of it.  Perfect conditions for pop-up thundershowers.  Not a perfect day for moving.
Walt Kowalski and I were helping the mama of House #1 pack up and move from her current location. House #1 isn't ready yet, but that's ok.  She's rolling with it.  We are rolling with it.  Everybody is rolling with it.  It's going to work out well in the end.  For all of us.
On the way home from work, we noticed the clouds starting to form on the horizon.  It didn't look too bad, so we decided to do the move. Luckily, we weren't moving very far.  We got the first load of furniture packed in the truck when it started to sprinkle.  Walt Kowalski and I got the furniture unloaded, but it started to rain a little more.  No problem. We have all evening.  We'll just give it few minutes.  It looks light on the horizon, so this probably won't last very long.  We helped pack boxes waiting for the a break in the rain action.  And it did break for a few minutes.  We went with the opportunity and loaded the back of the truck with the boxes we had packed.  About half way through the loading process the rain came again. 
If you wanted to see comedy, you should have seen the three of us running up and down the stairs trying to beat the rain.  We packed as many boxes as possible and away we went. 

How do you drive quickly so the rain doesn't soak your boxes, but not so quickly that you break everything in the boxes?  Very carefully.  

We made it.  JUST made it.  The boxes got a few, ok many, drops on them.  Nothing was soaked through.  With the temperature going up to 90degrees today, we have no fear the boxes will dry in their current location.

On our way back for another load, the horizon was very dark again and then lightning came.  Rain we can work with.  Lightning we won't risk it.  Wow.  What a show of lightning.  Then the rains came. We were done with moving for the night.

It worked out well in the end.  We helped finish boxing the TV and sorting out a few things in the basement.  We even formulated a plan for today.  The mama of House #1 doesn't have to work until this evening.  She borrowed Old Blue to do more moving today and tomorrow. 

Tonight Walt Kowalski and I are going back to House #1 to fill the dumpster.  I have about half of the ceiling in the kitchen removed.  We still have walls in the kitchen, a wall up the stairs, and the ceiling in the hall.  My goal is to get the kitchen done tonight. 

We are in for a hot night of work tonight.  90degrees today.  I have my long sleeves, long pants, hat, gloves, and dust mask ready.  (Gee, why don't I just throw on a parka, too!)
We'll roll with it.  As Steve Winwood sings:

When life is too much, roll with it, baby
Don't stop and lose your touch, oh no, baby
Hard times knocking on your door, I'll tell them you ain't there no more
Get on through it, roll with it, baby
Luck'll come and then slip away, you've gotta move, bring it back to stay

You just roll with it, baby, come on and just roll with it, baby
You and me, roll with it, baby, hang on and just roll with it, baby


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Squirrel in a tree

Chain Saw Johnny (poison ivy free) came over today.  He and Walt Kowalski cut down the last tree mixed in the wires on the front hill.  WITH NO PROBLEMS!!  Woo Hoo!  *SIGH*  That is a big sigh of relief. We had a moment of concern when one branch hung up on the bottom cable wire.  Apologies to the neighborhood if your cable/telephone went fuzzy for a moment today. 

Saturdays are ADD days.  Here's why:

I was burning the branches that Walt Kowalski was cutting and realized I needed to go use the bathroom. On my way into the house I heard the washing machine beep end of cycle.  I stopped to empty the clean towels from the washer into the dryer when I remembered I wanted to wash the couch cover from the basement couch.  It smelled like litter box in the basement and I was blaming the couch cover, but as I was taking the cover off of the couch I smelled litter box even more, and I was no where near the litter box.  Then I realized it was the chair!  Ewwww ew ew.  So I dragged the chair outside. (Something else for the dumpster.)  The couch cover didn't need washed, but the blanket and pillows laying on the chair did.  Stinky, stinky, stinky.  (I can't blame one specific cat because it smelled worse than one random pee and I have noticed it for several days now.)  The blankets and pillows went in the washer and I went back outside.  Only then I remembered I was on my way upstairs to use the bathroom.  Up the back outside stairs I go.  Around the back of the house I noticed that the impatient flowers needed watered.  It hasn't rained in a few days, so I had  better water.  Grab the watering can, fill it up, and water all the flowers and pepper plants. Then I notice I set the kitchen rug outside to be scrubbed.  I pick that up and take it back down the outside steps to the hose to get a good scrubbing.

About this time Walt Kowalski said they were ready to bring down a tree in the front of the house and needed me to work the rope.  I said I had to use the bathroom.  Didn't I start in that direction about 45 minutes ago?  *sigh*

That's a typical Saturday.  Start everything.  Finish nothing.

Walt Kowalski played squirrel in a tree today.  He placed the ladder in a tree on the front hill and ratchet-strapped the ladder to the tree.  Excellent safety measures.  Then he began to saw the tree limbs away one at a time.  He was doing well until the last limb.  The last limb was the limb his ladder was leaning against.  He cut half way through the limb and stopped.  And waited. 
He knew gravity would take over in a moment.
He waited.
Gravity took over.  (It took a moment longer than we expected.)
The branch tore and fell just above where Walt Kowalski was cutting.  The branch was large and shook the entire tree and just missed Walt Kowalski on it's way down.  Walt Kowalski had one foot firmly planted in the crook of the tree and the other still on the ladder.  He ducked and held on to the tree.  Had he been a squirrel his tail would have been wrapped around the tree.  At this point, Walt Kowalski was probably wishing he had a tail to help him hold on. 
All turned out well.  The tree fell with a great thud.  Walt Kowalski was safe and unharmed, although he had Jell-O knees when he got off of the ladder, and I had a pile of branches to burn.
Chain Saw Johnny went home after spending another successful day of playing in the poison ivy.  I "cheated" and ordered out wings and pizza for dinner. Delicious.  Even better because I didn't have to cook after a long day of work.  

Now here we sit enjoying a lovely, cool, Saturday evening by the fire.  There is a block party, with a live band, down the street and around the curve towards the pond.  We get to enjoy the music from the band without having to mingle with people we don't know.  That's a win-win situation. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013


I have a pimple on my nose.  For the record, you shouldn't be allowed to have pimples AND wrinkles.  Only one thing that ends in -les at a time, please. 

I get the same pimples in the same places every month.  It's a girl thing.  It's a hormone thing.  I have accepted it and moved on. 

But I have a pimple on my nose hasn't gone away.  That is won't go away.  Every morning the skin is peely and I can see it when I look down my nose.  It's annoying and distracting. 

Why won't this pimple on my nose go away?!? 

Tonight I figured it out.  Duh.

It's not a pimple.  Rather, it's no longer a pimple.  It might have been originally, but it's not now. Now it's where the dust mask rubs against my nose.  Between the sweat, the dust, the girlie hormones, and wiping the sweat from my face I have worn the skin off of my nose.  


Along with long pants, long sleeves, work boots, hat, dust mask, safety glasses, and work gloves I now have to wear a band aid on my nose.


Only me.  All I can do is laugh.  We are on our fifth dumpster. Five dumpsters full.  We almost filled this one to the top in 2 days.  We are thinking only one more.  At this rate we might be personally saving the city from bankruptcy. HA!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Is that snow in August?

It looked like it was snowing in House #1 the other day.  Walt Kowalski was knocking the ceiling down upstairs and packing peanuts galore were falling from the ceiling.  They used packing peanuts and crushed up Styrofoam egg cartons for insulation.  Interesting concept. 

That's a yellow egg separator in the mix.  No, I won't be saving it to use in the kitchen.  We also found a ladle.  Didn't save that either.  Mostly I tapped Walt Kowalski in the bum with it.

And away go troubles down the drain...
The rotor man was at House #2 yesterday.  He got the clog unclogged.  Yeah!  Walt Kowalski and I tried our best, but even after letting it sit all night, there was still water in the pipe in the basement.  It drained a little so we knew it wasn't stopped, but clogged.  Our handheld auger didn't do enough. 
We had to call for help.  Walt Kowalski could have done it with a larger auger from work, but the space was very small and he had concernes the equipment wouldn't fit in the room. (As it turns out, someone else from work borrowed the auger for the weekend, so we wouldn't have been able to use it anway!)
Knowing when to call the professionals is the most important part of home improvement. 
After many flushes, and many attempts to get water to go down, we had enough and the mama of the house had to do some laundry.  Those work clothes won't wash themselves.
At that point there was already water in the basement, it was going down, just slowly, what would a little soap detergent hurt?
She called to tell us the water was still coming up in the basement.  She said "It's very bubbly down there.  But it smells better. "
I'll take the smell of laundry detergent over the smell of sewage any day.
The rotor man is coming back tomorrow to look through the pipes with a camera.  He thinks there might be a problem 40feet down the line.  The city has the main road torn up and Walt Kowalski has a sneaking suspicion they might be part of the problem.  Either way, the camera action is free.  A little piece of mind on old pipes, and leverage against the city if necessary, is good.
Things I learned today
  1. I'm quite talented at using the plunger. 
  2. Plunging is not a talent I want to put on my resume.
  3. I could have never lived in a time without plumbing.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Feed me

Ever seen a mad kitty cat?  Here is what one looks like:

Where have you been?
Do you know what time it is?
Do you know my bowl is empty?

She really does look mad in this photo.

It's been one of those days.  *sigh*

Pepper and her brood are not the only ones yet to be feed.  We just got home after a good day of getting the washer and dryer hooked up and a bad day of plumbing issues and 6 trips to the hardware store.  Let's just say that right now you need boots in the basement of House #2.  Plumbing and sewage problems are not what we had planned for today, but that's how the day turned out.

We have had enough for the day.  Our original plan was to get the washer and dryer hooked up at House #2 and had back over to House #1 to do more demo.

But it's ok.  Tomorrow is another day.  Yes, we will be laboring on Labor Day, but we will be laboring for ourselves. 

Walt Kowalski is out making a fire.  I'm making ravioli and garlic bread, the cure for a bad day of plumbing in case you didn't know. The day may not have gone as planned, but the evening will bring some enjoyment.

Happy Labor Day.