Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chimney Catch-up

I have lots of photos, but little time to post!  I'm guilty, it's been beautiful weather and when we are done working all I want to do is play outside.

This is a view from the steps towards the kitchen.

 Or from the kitchen towards the living room.

And just like that, it's gone.  And dark.  Until we have new wiring, we don't just turn off the lights we throw the breakers.  I threw the breakers THEN remembered to take photos.  The temporary wall looks so bright.
The new boards are the only clean things in the house.

A view from upstairs. The sand is gone, too.  I spent hours sweeping.  We hate working in a messy.  I know, that's funny.

A view down to the basement from the first floor.  Walt Kowalski is patching the holes in the floors if for no other reason than he is worried I will fall in one.  "Careful!" I hear that all the time.

And a view up from the first floor, through the second floor, through the attic, and all the way to the roof. You can see the new patches on the roof, but not the new roof vent.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Attention Shoppers!

At the bottom of our driveway, by the group mailboxes, there is a large stoned area.  It is our neighbor's property.  There was an old chain fence, overgrown shrubs, lots of garbage in the shrubs, and a sign that said "No Dumping."

He put none of this in place.  All was there when he inherited the house. Originally the mailboxes were in the graveled area, but after 60 years of them being hit by of out of control cars, baseball bats, and snow plows, the neighborhood got together, talked to the post office, and moved them. We haven't had to buy a new mailbox in years.  Previously, a new mailbox was a monthly expense.  Or duct tape.

The area is a magnet for car breakdowns and the neighbors get knocks on their door at all hours, 'Do you have a gallon of gas?  Do you have brake fluid?  Do you have transmission fluid?  Do you have engine oil? Can I borrow your phone to call a fried/tow truck/my mom?"

The economist in me says "yeah, have these supplies available.  Gallon of gas?  $20." But the person that likes her sleep says "I'm not getting out of bed because you can't remember to put gas in your fancy SUV."

The other problem is that the majority of people aren't polite.  Yes, we know you're broken down and under stress, but you are parked on someone's property and sometimes blocking driveways. When they are asked to move their car to not block the driveway, we are often met with arrogance "My car is broken."

Yes, I see that and I understand, but there are several older woman that live up the lane and if something happens and an ambulance is needed, your vehicle is in the way.

They don't care. We have never seen one person in a broken down car knock on the door to say "I'm sorry, My car broke and I'm stuck.  I don't mean to be an inconvenience, but I will return shortly to move it."

Call the police you say.  Once there was a broken down camper parked there for a week.  The neighbors did call the police.  They said "If the vehicle is not blocking the main road, we can't do anything about for 72 hours."

You've got to be kidding me!

Most recently the amount of turn-arounds in this gravel area have doubled if not tripled. Yes, everybody gets lost or misses their turn, but this was an unusual amount and the vehicles would often peel out at a high rate of speed, scattering stones everywhere, and leaving large potholes that collect water after it rains. And the turn-arounds where occurring on Friday and Saturday nights.

Then we started to notice that there was an unusual amount of turn-arounds from one particular house at the top of the hill.  These people must have a lot of friends that come and visit, but the odd part is that the friends just don't stay to visit very long.  Maybe 2 minutes, 5 minutes max.

Hmm.  Then we really started watching.  Sometimes the friends coming to visit wouldn't even get out of their cars. Heck, they weren't even pulling in the driveway, they were pulling into the neighbor's driveway.

Sometimes, the visitors were so plentiful, they were waiting to get in and out of the driveway.  

Then we noticed that one of the cars making the turn-arounds was the guy that lives in the house.  He'd leave his driveway, turn around, head into town, come back 5 minutes later, turn around again and then back into his driveway.
Hmmmm.  Something fishy is going on. 
Now, I know that the fastest I can get in my car, get to the closest store, pay for whatever I need, and get back is 15 minutes.  That's if I don't hit any traffic and only have one small item to purchase with no line. 
Where could this guy be going that he left, got what he needed and returned in less than 5 minutes? It can't be a legal store.  And what about all of these friends stopping by to visit for less than 5 minutes?  Even when I have to drop something off at a friend's house, even a friend I see regularly, I am going to spend more than 5 minutes. 
Hmmmm, something very fishy is going on.  What kind of activity would bring so many people that only stay for less than 5 minutes?  You don't think it could be a drug house and they are selling drugs do you?  We have seen the police there in the past.  Hmmmm.
Hmmmm.  Then one day we saw an SUV drop some off in the turn-around zone.  The person got out of the SUV and started walking up the hill.  The SUV drove up the hill to the house in question. The guy walking up the hill walked up a bit, then turned around and came back down, then turned around and walked up some more, then crossed the street into the neighbor's yard, then walked back up the hill, then crossed the street again.
Luckily, the Mayor saw him and went out to talk to him to find out what was going on. Mostly the Mayor went to yell at him for walking on grass. The walker said that he was just waiting for someone to pick him up.  The Mayor said "I JUST saw your friend just drop you off and go up to that house."  A different friend was coming to get him, he claimed.
By this time the SUV, had backed out of driveway and headed down the hill.  The walker jumped in the SUV and they were off.
Ok, now we know something is going on.  That guy was the lookout.  It's got to be a drug house. 
Oh no, not in our neighborhood. 
We *think* the police know about it.  The Mayor talked to some friends on drug patrol.  They wouldn't give any details, but it lead him to believe they were watching the situation. They also said to get license plates and vehicle descriptions.  Easier said than done.
Good, but not fast enough. In the meantime, the neighbor is going to take the turn-around matter into his own hands.
Ever had a few old tires you didn't know what to do with? Now we have a solution.
And a nice big "NO TRESPASSING" sign.

Sounds like a good plan.  It worked, too.  The turn-arounds slowed.  Now only people pulling in are those that live here. Except...last week another neighbor called and said "someone is stealing your tires."

The neighbor jumped in his car and followed the tire thief to the junk yard.  The tire thief claimed he thought they were junk and anybody could take them.  (uh, no.  Junk yards don't usually take wheeles with the tire still attached. Just the metal rims.  And the junk yard is closed, so are you just throwing the tires over the fence?) Interestingly, the tire thief just happens to be one of the "friends" of the guy who lives at the top of the hill.  Hmmmmm, coincidence? 

Saturday, Walt Kowalski got in on the action.  He remembered that we have an old tractor tire buried in the leaves in the forest.  He dug it out and rolled it down to the bottom of the driveway. If they want to steal tires, they are going to have to work harder for it. 

It's an on-going situation.  I don't like this kind of trouble in our neighborhood.  Drugs bring trouble.  Drugs bring violence. They are often yelling at each other.  Drugs bring guns. I don't even want to think about hat would happen if they made someone mad. 

This story isn't over yet.

The funny part of the situation was when the neighbor appeared from his garage pushing the shopping buggy full of his old tires out to the curb.  Walt Kowalski and I (and the neighbor's wife) had a good laugh at that one. I don't even want to know where (how) he got the buggy.   

Thursday, August 20, 2015


I was running late this morning. No reason.  Some days just take longer than others.  Even my "late" is still on-time and before everybody else.

Dark this morning.
Rain clouds to the east.
A peak of sun on the horizon.
Rain clouds to the west.

Then around the corner it became even more brilliant.

Glad I was a few minutes late.

(Let's hope the road construction is almost over.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Temporary Permanant Wall

This wasn't the post I had planned. I planned to show you the chimney removal, except...I forgot the memory card for the camera.  *sigh*
Instead, you get to see the next step. (I will post the chimney, I promise.)
Walt Kowalski built this very nice temporary wall. This was the kitchen and will be the laundry room. The wall that was here was being held up by a single piece of 8 inch long 4 inch wide siding.   How this house remained standing we'll never know.

We also patched holes in the floors from the old registers.  It's so dangerous to have to remember to NOT step in a hole in the floor.  You always have to look behind yourself before stepping and everyday Walt Kowalski would say "be careful!" cause he knows me too well.
The power tools always look like toys. 

"Quick, get a photo. This is the only level board in the house!"

The photos make it look like it happens in an instant, when really it was 4 hours later. 

We used 2x6 for this new wall because it will be the laundry room.  We wanted to give it a little extra sound barrier from the rest of the house.

The "old" new wall can now be removed .

Friday, August 14, 2015

Weekend Preview

Just a quick preview of the upcoming weekend activities:


And how do I know all of this?  Because last weekend Walt Kowalski did this: 

So I've got a HUGE pile to burn.  We've got lots of chairs, snacks, and drinks. Come join us!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

3 dollar chairs

We need new chairs at the kitchen table.  Period. We. Need. New. Chairs.

Our current chairs are probably 75+ years old.  So is the claw-foot table. That's the problem with antiques, they are old. Our current chairs are a Windsor style and we've glued them and screwed them and they still keep falling apart.  The legs want to separate from the base.


Every time we go shopping or to the thrift stores, I always look for chairs. The ones I like and the ones that match the beautiful, old, kitchen table are made the same way and have a tendency to fall apart the same way. 

One of these mornings, Walt Kowalski is going to end up on the floor because his chair is going to collapse while he is putting on his work boots.  I don't wait to be there when it happens. 

So this weekend Grammy and I went to an antique-fleatique event. It happens once a month from May through September.  Antiquing is like shopping at the thrift stores, you go with an idea of what you are looking for but sometimes you can't be too specific. Otherwise, you'll be looking forever.

My idea was kitchen chairs that won't need glued every Saturday.  I didn't even care if they matched. I also didn't care if there were 4 of them.  I really only need 2.  (If you come to our house, we'll find you a chair.  I promise.)

One of the dealers had a dozen chairs in a line.  All different shapes, sizes, and colors. Three of them even matched. 
The price tag said $5 each.

It was getting hot and sunny out.
As the morning quickly becomes afternoon, the crowd thins. Dealers know if they don't sell it, they have to pack it up and take it home

I liked the chairs.  I found a level spot on the grass and tried each one.  They weren't bad.  Not too shaky. The color didn't match. The padding was terrible, but could be replaced.  They weren't new, but they weren't 75+ years old either.  Probably more like only 50 years old.  New in comparison.

He made me a deal I couldn't refuse. 3 chairs for $10 AND he would help me carry them to my car.
I couldn't pass up the deal.  Grammy even got in the action.  She liked a different chair he had.  A folding wooden chair. $3.

We came away with 4 chairs for $13.

Here's one of them.

I started with a scrub brush, some laundry detergent, a little purple power, and added lots of scrubbing.


I actually scrubbed off the stain!  Actually, I just scrubbed off the varnish, which was ok.  They cleaned up nice. Even the cushions. 

I scrubbed off 50 years worth of old varnish, sticky finger touches, Thanksgiving dinners, lots of spider webs, and LOTS of mold from being stored in someone's basement.

The stain is a little more red than our kitchen table, but for now that's ok. 

All that's left is to add the felt pads to the bottom of the legs and see which cat likes them best. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


I got my first crop of tomatoes!

We did container gardening this year.  The containers are sitting in the driveway where they get the most sun and the last deer traffic.

We've also got several banana peppers and a habaneros. 

There are 4 Roma tomatoes and 5 Grape tomatoes in this photo:

The Romas are normal Roma size, 3inches. The grape tomatoes are GIANTS. I have never seen them get so big!  All that rain in June and July, I suppose.

Of course Walt Kowalski got in on the action, too.

He loves putting faces on fruit or with fruit.  He's the fruit. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


We hadn't seen YooHoo in a few days. 

We still left food in her bowl in the evenings.  It would be empty in the morning, but with a neighborhood full of stray cats, (Free to good homes! Would you like one?) we didn't know if she was her eating the food or the cats were eating the food.

Walt Kowalski said that when the bag was empty, he wasn't going to put any more out until her saw her.

Last evening there was a ruckus at the back door. 

Guess who is back!

Just when you think your raccoon is gone, she appears.  Hungry like she's never eaten before. 

Crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch crunch

That's a lot of crunching.  She's extra hungry.

Wait a minute.

Did we just see another, smaller, head pop up from behind our YooHoo? 

We did! It's YooHoo number Two! Slightly smaller than mom.  More fearful than mom. (That's good) Just a cute as mom. 

The pictures are so dark.  We moved the bowls away from the back door in the summer because of ticks and fleas. They were just outside of the light from the spot light at the back door and it was especially dark because of the a big storm coming.