A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Monday, April 28, 2008

Stress, Thy Name is...


Yes, we've hit the wall. And, sorry to say, my dear younger son - who is the ONLY beneficiary of this effort - is JUST like his mother in that the stress of this deadline has made him really crabby!

He has to be out of his apartment (which he shares with a friend) by Wednesday. Today is Monday. The room is not done, despite both of us spending every spare minute for the last - well, it seems like forever - working in that room. Today, after teaching a full work day, I spent another four hours painting closet doors and a big space in the inside of the closet that G--- didn't do. I cut all the baseboards (yes, with 45 degree angles in the corners) and taped the walls to paint the door trim. This after dropping off the window screen - damaged beyond repair when someone forgot their key.

He just dropped by to use my drill (bitched because there's something wrong with the way the batteries are [not] working right) to put holes in his temporary snake homes. Pitched a passive aggressive hissy hanging the last of the closet doors (complained because one door appears streaky; of course, the reason it's streaky - IF it is - is because the lad used up all the rollers (no he didn't clean them, he just threw them away) and left me the one that was losing it's nap all over the closet doors.

Last straw for both of us was picking up the EXPENSIVE drop cloth I'd bought for this project only to find that the white paint had dripped on, then through, the cloth. I should have bought the cheap plastic.

Well, enough of the rant. He'll just have to figure out that we rarely get life exactly as we would like it to be, huh?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Almost There...

We're almost finished with the master bedroom renovation so that my younger son can move back home. It's so exciting to see that 35-year-old, filthy, tired space reborn. Here are some of our progress shots.

We had already started when it dawned on me I should be taking pictures. G-- had already taken the dark walnut fake wood paneling off the wall here. You can see the wallpaper just behind the dsl lines dangling out of the attic. Shortly after this picture was taken I went into the attic for the last trip and moved the dsl lines into another room.

The attic access stairs. When we bought this house in 1974 it was going to be our "starter" home. Three bedrooms, two baths, "farm" kitchen (which is an L-shaped kitchen area stuck onto a tiny family room, which made a large kitchen). Living room but no dining room. Within 18 months the price of the house had tripled and we couldn't even qualify for our own home if we had tried to sell it and re-buy it ourselves. Of course, that meant we couldn't move up into anything larger, either.

When we learned I was pregnant with our second son we added a large family room off the kitchen and the house is now 1350 square feet. We raised two BIG boys (and their big dog, a 110-lb Akita, now gone) in this house. It worked well except there wasn't room for the flotsam you get when two packrats raise a family. About 30 years ago we installed this access into the space over the master bedroom and, for 30 years I've been stashing stuff up there. I've been working since November pulling stuff down, sorting, pitching and re-storing in a rented storage unit. Now it's virtually empty (DH chickened out of dragging the last of his stuff down so it's still up there) and part of the renovation has been sealing that access up.

If you're looking you can still see where the stairway was, but it's pretty well camouflaged. We had the acoustic (popcorn) ceiling scraped off and a new knock-down texture applied. I did the painting on the ceiling. After one coat of flat I decided it looked awful and did another coat of semi-gloss which my son and I are very happy with.

Both of the doors - the one into the bedroom and the one from the bedroom into the bathroom - had holes in them so we had them replaced with these "updated" doors. All the trim is wide and I chose lever handles, too.

G--- spent some time today painting the walls. He chose the ever-popular Navajo White (Eggshell finish) for the walls (semi-gloss for the closet doors.) The doors, trim, baseboards and ceiling are all Nude semi-gloss.

About ten years after everyone in the neighborhood had moved in, people started falling through their shower walls. Turns out the developer (this is a Pardee development) set the shower tiles onto regular wallboard. DH picked this yellow (his favorite color) for our replacement. As I prepared the bedroom for re-painting, I realized that the shower had been leaking into the room we were working on. When our contractor demolished this stall he discovered that Pardee had also not bothered to make the shower walls plumb, which is why it kept springing leaks. We didn't really have a choice but to have the shower re-tiled. While we were at it, this pan simply had to go. It was not only cracked, but in my exuberant cleaning efforts I had managed to scrub off the finish over the years and it was impossible to keep clean (the camera picked up crud even I couldn't see. We're lucky the health department didn't raid this place!)

I already posted about my frustrating experience of learning that nobody makes a decent pan for this sized space anymore so...

We are well on our way to a completely tiled shower.

My husband is whining because it's all going to be gorgeous (our son is ecstatic) and the rooms that DH and I will be using are still cruddy. It's been a fairly big hit in $$$ and we won't get to use it.

My response is that it's time to do the rest of the house too, dear.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Disney Parks - Where Dreams Come True


Absolutely buried.

Room project. Work. Parents. BTSA.

Am taking B--- and Y--- to Disneyland next weekend for Y---'s birthday and can't wait. Check the youtube video to see why I'm excited.

What I'm most excited about, though, is that I get to spend the night with them and go to meet B--'s students the next day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

I just love...

the blog world of stitchers.

Honeysuckle Tree posted a delightful meander through spring that included a needle keep from a freebie design by Windy Willows. Of course, I had to follow the link and let myself be greedy in her free chart area. The needle keep really caught my fancy. Check out how she has placed the design so that she could include a ribbon lengthwise that she could slip a paper with the color numbers and chart symbols. Then she can just slip her needle into the linen next to the number. SO much better than when I do with the magnets (which, more often than not, results in the threads getting tangled and pulling the needles off the magnets.)

Windy Willows is a Japanese site. I used Babel Fish (in my side bar) to translate the site. My DIL tells me the English to Japanese doesn't communicate at all, but the Japanese to English worked about as well as the French to English. You wouldn't want to use it for legal documents, but it's good enough to be able to follow the gist. I was able to understand her frustration at working on check, understand that she stitched part of a bag that wouldn't be seen by anyone but her as she put things into the bag, understand that things had been busy at work which is the usual at this time of year and so on.

Windy Willows and Babel Fish are in my sidebar if you want to check out this delightful site.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


on most fronts.

The great attic clean-out is completed. I left a couple of boxes of stuff up there (old records, my old hairdryer, my flower preservation sand) but everything else is out. I spent today cleaning the boys' crib and cradle and taking them to storage.

There were much happier finds in this last push. This is a box of the books that I used to fall in love with reading. My first series book set was the Cherry Ames nurse series. Each was a mystery with an ALMOST romance on the fringes (although I don't know that Cherry ever actually ended up with anyone.

There is a Cherry Ames website and they announce that the books are back in print. I see my 8th graders reading romances that embarrass me sometimes so I'm glad to see books with a little more appropriate content coming available again.

And Missy, you can relax now. I found another box of baby clothes (these used by BOTH boys and my favorites) and they are in much better shape than the last box. The bibs at the top of this post were part of the collection. There was another - a teddy bear with a Valentine heart that was just too far gone to keep - but most of them are very usable.

Some of the other treasures:

This was our favorite photo session with our oldest. He was a happy baby with, as you can see, a huge smile.

There's a funny story about the superbaby session. B--- was ten weeks old in this picture. There was another couple there with their eight week old who, I would guess, was probably a preemie. He was very little and - well, to be blunt - scrawny. When the parents heard that B--- was ten weeks, the mother gave a rather shocked look as she looked down at her little one. I've always wished that I'd had the presence of mind to tell that mom that B--- had been born two weeks late so, although in calendar terms he was only two weeks older than her baby, in developmental terms he was at least a month older, maybe more if her's had been early.

Another survivor of twenty-five years in the attic was my younger son's first Christmas outfit. G--- was born in October and was almost exactly one month old when this picture was taken.

I was able to rescue their crib and cradle as well, although a couple of decades in a damp attic were not kind to the springs and metal fittings. G--- grabbed all of this as I handed it down out of the attic and was especially thrilled with the cradle. He didn't even know we had it and I said, "That's not surprising as you're the last baby to sleep in it."

Other treasures that survived included some knitted pieces my mom had done. My babies were pretty big (8lb4oz and 9lb 4oz) and didn't wear Grandma's beautifully knitted sweaters very much. I will pay them proper homage here.

I had my last appointment
for six months with the cardiologist on Thursday. Before I post the outcome, let me say that this whole adventure in cardiology started when I commented to my internist that I realized that for four years I had been committing slow suicide by ignoring my health, and that I was trying to get back. Among other things, I was starting to feel the strain of carrying over a hundred extra pounds on my hips, knees and feet and knew I needed to lose the weight, but the only thing that is going to work now is to ramp up my metabolism (currently at slug pace) and exercise. I asked for guidance to do that safely. The internist expressed a concern about my rapid pulse rate. I said I was sure my heart was fine but out of shape and that I needed conditioning to get it in shape, which would bring my pulse down. She strongly recommended the testing, which I've been doing for a few months, now, and the verdict is in.

My heart is fine. I'm out of shape and need to exercise to get my heart back in shape, which will bring my pulse down.

I spent four afternoons/evenings on union stuff this week. Boring and exasperating at the same time. Nuff said about that.

The back room restoration project hit a huge snag this week. I went to buy a new acrylic pan for the bottom of the shower and learned that they (Kohler) do not make that size. In fact, near as we could tell, nobody makes that size. (Well, I think I saw that the company that makes really cheesey pans made that size but I was not interested.) So, now our fixer-upper guy will tile the floor of the shower as well as the sides. This puts the shower part of the project behind G---'s move-in date, but the rest of the room leaped ahead today. Miguel and his crew (yes, union) are AMAZING! They took out the attic access stairs, repaired the wallboard on the ceiling and taped it, scraped off the acoustic (popcorn) and repaired what was left behind, then put a coat of quick-set up as the first step in applying an new "knock-down" texture.

They put down nail strip for my carpet (I had to lift it to make sure the pad had not mildewed with the leak, which it had not.) They took out both the bedroom door and the bathroom door and replaced them, adding wide moulding around the edges. Very han
dsome. I love the handles I bought. I put an entry set on the bedroom door so that G--- could lock himself in securely but so that we would have a key in case of emergency. We also put a matching bathroom set on the bathroom door. they look great.

The guys cleaned everything up on their way out. G--- should be able to come tomorrow to work and we will take down what's left of the wallpaper (in bedroom and bathroom) and finish preparing the walls for painting. We need to take down the closet doors and paint them. I need to buy more trim which they will use to finish the doors and which we will use as baseboard, too. With luck the room will be ready to paint early next week. Meanwhile, Miguel said he should be able to come back early in the week to finish the "repair" work in the shower (none of the framing was plumb which, we said, probably contributed to the leaking) and set the concrete for the floor.

Absolutely no stitching has occurred. Closest I came was finding this in with the baby things.

I think my mom did them, though I'm not sure. I'll have to check. My sis is a HUGE Beatrix Potter fan and she may have done this (although she never got much into crafts.)

To finish this up, Cheryl was asking about Utah travel (on a motorcycle) in May. I have no idea what the weather will be like. They seem to be moving into spring - until it starts snowing again. Wish I could be more help but it's a La Nina - coupled with climate change - winter. No predicting.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008


Life is pretty chaotic right now. I used to be able to keep track of seven things at a time with no problem. A few years ago I started to realize that my mind had become less like the carousel, though, and more like the queue. In fact, my memory was like a printer queue. I could manage five things in the list. As one was completed and dropped off the top, another could pop in from the bottom. Now, just a glimpse at what's lurking down there throws me for a loop. I have to focus on just one thing at a time and forget all the rest, then, when I'm ready, move to the next compartment and deal with what's there for a while, then move...

In the health department, I have an appointment with the cardiologist this week to get the results of the 24-hour monitoring. I'm also experiencing some joint and leg pain from the Lipitor. Since the whole point of all this was to get the all-clear to start exercising some of this fat off me, and since my cholesterol wasn't THAT high and he was only concerned enough for the Lipitor because I also have high blood pressure (controlled) and he was thinking I might have heart disease which the other tests ruled out, I'm going to tell him I'm stopping the Lipitor and going to exercise instead. This should help bring the cholesterol down. Doesn't make sense to not be able to exercise because my joints ache when exercise was the reason for all this in the first place and will help the problem anyway.

In the work compartment, it was a pretty easy week. Grades were finished and turned in as of Tuesday, and I started the kids on a book assignment using the Joy Hakim History of US series. I have a class set of these books for two segments of American history and I wish I had them for the entire year! They are engaging and great fun to read. It's the only time of the year that I have absolute quiet in the classroom. Even the bottom dwellers get into them. While they worked I should have been clearing my desk or filing or doing something else useful. But I'm just too burned out and mostly just sat and stared into space (which, it turns out, made the kids feel like I was mad at them which also helped with the quiet working.) I did get some work done on a new assignment I'm thinking about but otherwise the desk is still a mess, the cupboards are still stacked high and nobody can use my sink because of the boxes on the floor in front of it.

In the union compartment, things are getting nasty. Our new superintendent - whose name is Luiz but whom we have named King Luiz (pronounced loo-ee) has turned out to be a slimey dictator. His way or watch out. Our attempts to get COLA this year are going nowhere and I have people on my committee who are angry because we aren't doing enough, and people who are angry because we are doing too much. Go figure. I don't want to talk about that any more.

In the condo department (remember the flood the day after Christmas?), the condo we've owned for the last five years in Moose Hollow (part of Wolf Creek Resort in the Ogden Valley) is FINALLY back together as of yesterday. (I added the links if you'd like to go watch the videos and see why we're so crazy about this area. And no, we don't wave board, ski, mountain bike, snowboard...) I've scheduled a vacation for DH and me in June and another in August. DH can't come with me in August so am looking forward to several lovely hours at my favorite needlework shop of all time. Envy me, stitchers! Every year I get to spend my vacations fifteen minutes up canyon from Shepherd's Bush!

This will be the view from my balcony my last weekend in August. It's the Ogden Valley Balloon Festival. Not a very big festival as these things are rumored to go, but I can't imagine much prettier than these jewels against a Rocky Mountain sky! Even prettier over the lake!

In the Attic project department, DH and DS2 decided to help out and brought down a load last week. We had a couple of years where we heard critters in the attic. Rodents for sure, a racoon for sure (I watched one leave the attic once so that's the only specie I can personally attest was up there) and something big and clumsy (either a cat or a possum). When I started the attic project I dreaded the damage I was sure I would find and have been happily surprised. It's been a dirty job. Yes, there were definitely rats up there at one time (and we also had our roof replaced -from shake to asphalt shingles- and that really made a mess). But until this load I really hadn't found much damage. Silverfish had chewed up some book bindings and pages here and there and the heat hadn't been too kind to some things. But other than just dirt that could be cleaned away with good old Clorox Clean-Up I really didn't find anything to make my heart sad.

Until this load.

Lemme hear ya say, "eeeeeuuuuuuuuwwwww!"

Sigh. These are blankets my mother made for my babies. The yellow and white one is crocheted and the white one is an Aran pattern knit. Not only were they, apparently, the litter box for the beasties, but they ripped a big hole in it helping themselves to nesting material.

Can you stand one more gross-out that's actually pretty funny (in a funny-peculiar, funny-ironic kind of way)? One of the things I had braced myself for in all this was the possibility of finding nests in boxes as I emptied them (you should see me up there, this fat woman with a dust mask and gloves armed with shop-vac and disinfectant, gingerly picking her way through boxes of ephemera.) This is the first nest I've found.

Both of my children were born at home, and part of the preparation for having an informed, safe home birth is reading reading reading about the process. This is (was) my box of books and articles about birthing. Seems kind of appropriate in a yech kind of way that the only nest I've found in a box would be the box of birthing books. Apparently, though, I kept the best books somewhere else and so can dump these. The picture is from a calendar that has a lovely poem about big brother little brother. It's still intact and so I'm going to copy the poem into DS2's scrapbook.

In the Room Renovation compartment I'm moving right along on my part. Here is the palette I've decided to work with

Sorry for the lousy picture. Anyway, since we're HOPING to sell this house within the next few years we're going cheap. I think it's a nice, neutral palette that still goes with the quasi-ranch, 1970s "style" (the '70s didn't have much style, guys) of the house. So far we've just about cleared the wallpaper and are ready for the guy to come give us an estimate on the shower tile work and the ceiling refurbishing in the bedroom. DH just didn't manage to make the call this week. Sometimes...

Have you seen the commercial where the little girl and her daddy are getting a snack and the little girl throws off a comment about the shabby kitchen cabinets? Then dad looks up and the camera leaves the kitchen as dad is getting his "aha" moment about the cabinets. Then we move into the living room where mom is sitting on the couch reading and as the little girl walks behind the couch with her snack, mom holds up money (never a word exchanged) and the little girl grabs it as she walks past. Have you seen that one? Cracks me up every time. I told DS2 that if he really wanted this room done, he should be the one pushing his dad. He's not a cute little ten-year-old girl, but even as a 6'5" 27-year-old, he has more of a chance of getting his dad to make this call than I do.

In fairness, he did call and meet with the electrician who is coming tomorrow to replace the bathroom fans and fix the outlets. I said inspect, repair or replace as necessary, but DH is having him replace them all so they will look new. As we continue to get the house ready to sell we'll do this in each room so that when it goes on the market all the outlets will be updated.

In the garden compartment I did manage to keep the sweet pea seedlings watered but that's about it. After years of neglecting his part of the garden, DH got out there this week and pulled "weeds" including my healthiest seedlings. Sometimes...

Last but not least (well, maybe least this week) in the stitching department, I really haven't had time to do much stitching. I did do a little embroidery on my quilt last night, though, and don't think I've posted progress on that border lately so here's where I am now.

And now I'm off for a crop day with Mom and Sis. I haven't decided what to take, yet. Probably DS2's life story, although I also may take a binder organizing project I've been working on so that I can get that finished and put away. If it works out I'll post it here.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Best Day

Really! I had the best day!

I got The Room pretty well cleared out. DS2 had some things to do in the morning so I ran errands. He got there a little after noon and started taking the paneling out. I kept on the wallpaper. One of my errands was to Home Depot for scrapers and a tool to score the wallpaper so the "stripper" (I used fabric softener) could get under the paper. We talked nonstop (except to stop now and then to listen to the play during the Dodger game) for seven whole wonderful hours. We talked about everything under the sun from health to family to hobbies to mutual friends to favorite tv shows to...

We haven't had that kind of time to talk since he was in high school (he'll be 27 in October) and would talk in the car on the way to music competition events.

We got a LOT done. He was a little frustrated with the tedium of scraping the adhesive off the wallboard under the paneling, but enjoyed scoring the wallpaper.

And the best part, one of his best friends is a plumber! He called him on the spot and the man will come tomorrow to check out the leaking shower. I'm pretty sure it will be a full (read $$$$) replacement but that's OK. Bathrooms and kitchens sell homes and we need to move forward to get this ready for the market in a few years. This will be a great first step.

Hope you all have a great week!

One step forward...

...and five steps back.

I'm exhausted from the great attic clean-out adventure (still not done) that has been my focus for every weekend day that I've been home for two months. DS2 comes today to start the demo (acoustic ceiling, wallpaper). I want the room empty for him to work in. One of the last things I did yesterday was move my laundry hamper off the tarp where it's been sitting since before Christmas.

The tarp was mildewed.

Yes, the shower is leaking through the wall and into that bedroom carpet (which is not even two years old). We've known we would have to replace the shower before we sold the house, but this pushes the whole thing up.

DS2 will be disappointed that he won't get "his" room the way he wants it when he moves in.

I am, too.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Layout help, please?

I am really bored with this blogger layout and have been browsing some of the sites that offer much nicer layouts.

If anyone has experience with these "freebie" layout sites (do they mess up your computer? is it impossible to recover your stuff if they do? words of wisdom?) would you share with me, please?


Friday, April 04, 2008

New to Me

Once upon a time I considered joining a group of stitchers who create memorial pieces for the families of fallen American soldiers. I decided that realistically this is too chaotic a time in my life and I am unlikely to finish such a large but important piece, so I have not accepted the challenge. I have, however, stayed on their email list and this morning received this information. I was unaware of the site.

It's called "Stitchpoint" and one of their tools is an alphabet generator. There are six fonts. You type in your message and it will chart it for you in the font you choose.

Pretty cool.