Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas comes to Kansas

The tree is up. Stockings are hung by the archway with care. We're short two stockings -- Matt and Mark weren't in the family the last time we hung a full set of stockings. That will be remedied next time we go to town. My favorite, though, is what Pat did with the piano. His stocking is the Happy Face. Mine plays Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.

The Happy Face so fits Pat. George was the Love of my life, but Pat is my Joy. How can I be so lucky to have married both Love and Joy?

Let it Snow!

Snow! It began yesterday as freezing rain. My 60 min. drive home took two hours. The top speed I could make was 35 mph. The windshield iced even though I had the heater on full bore with the wipers going. At one point I had to stop and break ice off the wipers so they could scrape a small space for me to see out.

The roads were too icy to go to work today, so I telecommuted. Wow! This is wonderful! I have the greatest job in the world. I've never had this option before! Look at the picture below this entry to see how I spent my day -- on the computer with my tea beside me. It began snowing about noon and has just barely stopped as I write this. I wouldn't rule out that it might start again -- we're under a heavy snow warning until 6 AM tomorrow morning.

Pat and Hagar have had too much fun today. Pat is originally from Eugene, Oregon then he married a gal from Dallas and moved there. Neither place gets much snow. The last time he saw this much snow was 1968 --when he was a junior in high school. Hagar just loves it 'cause it's his kind of weather. He thinks he's a Husky instead of a German Shepherd. After about three inches had fallen, they had to go out and run around in it. Hagar put his nose down and played bulldozer for a few feet then nearly dropped down and rolled in the snow. Who knows what he would have done, but he got distracted by another dog walking down the street. (Hagar's extra alert pose in the above picture is courtesy of the strange dog.)

It's 10:21 now. The snow seems to have stopped. Pat measured the snow in the front yard -- 10 inches -- and the back yard -- 11 inches. The WIBW weatherman said Waverly got 8 inches. Oh, well... Pat is still delighted to see so much of the white stuff. He didn't run out to make a snowman, but he did pop Christmas carols on the CD player and pull out the Christmas tree. Hey -- it's Christmas weather.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Properly Victorian

It's nippy this morning. We sat the heater low while we were sleeping and it hasn't regained it's momentum since we've been up.

I'm feeling properly Victorian as I sit here at my oak roll-top desk in my 103 year old house. I'm wrapped in a shawl (this one is hand crocheted. I can't remember if I made it or Mom did). I have a cup of hot tea and a toasted English muffin beside me. In honor of the mood I'm using one of my Mom's good China cups -- the one with the pink roses on it with the gold trim. It's a real tea cup, saucer and all, not a clunky mug. Aren't I a proper lai-dee?

We won't mention the stacks of packing boxes lining the room... I'll face those later today. Pat painted the living room yesterday, so now I can put up pictures. We'll have quite a rogue's gallery. I've found at least four boxes of framed photos.

I've been up since 5:30. Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor getting a gal up on her day off. I let Hagar, the German Shepherd, and two of the tomcats out before I went to the bathroom. The dog and one cat were back before I could get the door closed. See? I said it was nippy out there.

I've been sipping tea, reading email and working on my blogs for two hours. Now the rest of the family is stirring. Pat is up. Hagar is swearing HE hasn't ever been outside. Morris came in and Midnight went back out. Dewey sits in his chair watching this nonsense. being aloof as only a cat can be. Furball and Freddy are in here keeping me company. They've been playing tag on one of the boxes. I should find warm clothes and get the day started. It's been nice having this quiet time. Maybe I'll do it again some Saturday morning.

Dewey and Sumo

Dewey is sitting on the front steps. He wants Pat to repair the broken step.

Dewey D. Cat is probably our largest tomcat. Morris, Joe's cat who is living here, has as much mass as Dewey, perhaps a bit more, but he is so compact he appears smaller. Dewey, however, is no match for the orginial Sumo. The original Sumo was at least 25 lbs. (Dewey is about 15).

Sumo was a rescue from the pound who needed a home. We never knew, but I imagine he grew up with a little old lady who overfed him. When she went to a nursing home, he went to the pound. I fell in love with his picture when a call for a home came out on the city e-mail. Unfortunately, Sumo didn't like to share with dogs and other cats, so he spent the rest of his life under our waterbed. He had his own catbox, food and water under there. The only way we could get him out was for me to crawl inside the waterbed and retrieve him.

Sumo lived with us less than six months. We hadn't seen him for a couple of days. When Pat checked under the bed, he was dead. Sumo is buried in Texas next to Worf and Lady Zsa Zsa. The verdigree yard ornament in this picture is about the size of the original Sumo and we call it Sumo in his memory.

Here's a view of the new steps Pat made.

Heat! Heat is nice.

The floor furnace my folks used for years became unreliable. I have no idea how old the furnace was. It wasn't new when we bought the house in 1960. It got to the point that gas company wouldn't turn the gas back on unless the furnace was replaced. The last winter my son Joe spent in the house, he used an electric monstrosity that came from an old motel room. It heats quite well, but you can't hear because the fan is so noisy.

That wasn't for us. We researched our options and decided on a gas radiant heater. Pat found ours at Bluestem Farm and Ranch Supply in Emporia. He and Joe installed it on a Friday. The wall between the big window and the front door already housed the air conditioner, so they mounted the wall heater under the A/C unit. (In the picture you can see the both the new heater and the old furnace. The odd black object is a snoopy Furball.)

Since Pat was the smaller of the two, he was elected to crawl under the house to run the gas line from the furnace to the heater. There is headroom under there! Pat could actually sit up. Then he saw the foundation. The house isn't exactly a pier and beam construction. The perimeter of nearly every room of the house is supported by its own handlaid rock wall. Doorways have been cut through or pushed through to allow access to various parts of the house. Pat said it's no wonder the house doesn't settle. It can't.

By the time the gas line was run and the new heater in place, Pat felt like a little kid who had been rolling in the sandbox. He said he hadn't been that dirty since he was three. When I got home from work, he and Joe were making dibs on the shower. We were all ready to fire it up, but we had to wait for the gas company to reinstall the meter. They didn't come until the following Thursday.

Ah, but we're warm now! We're keeping the old furnace covered with a rug. Pat and Joe will remove it next Spring when we lay the new floor.

Kitchen Switch

The kitchen is our next big project. Mom had an L shaped kitchen with the stove and refrigerator both on the same end. I like the L, but want the stove and refrigerator on opposite ends of it. Pat switched a counter and the stove shortly after we got here in Sept. In October he moved the overhead cupboard to its new home beside the refrigerator and hung our microwave over the stove. In the picture above, the space where the trash can is located and part of the counterspace beside it is where the stove used to be.

When Joe visited from college one weekend, he discovered the only thing wrong with the light over the sink was a GFI breaker had been thrown. There were two of them. One near where we have placed the stove and the other next to the light switch. Pat and I had reset the one near the light switch but didn't realize the one by the stove also drove the light. (I wonder what Dad's logic was on that when he wired it?)

The joy of having my light back was shortlived. It came down when Pat moved the cupboard. It had been mounted on a board attached to the cupboards. Pat solved my light problem by running a display shelf the length of the east wall. The light is again mounted over the sink and I can see again!

At Thanksgiving when Joe was captive for five days, he and Pat finished this part of the kitchen project by going under the house and rewiring the stove and the hot water heater. No more electric cables running across the floor! For joy!!

In the future we will remove the panelling and the horsehair plaster behind it. I would like to put up board and batten wainscoating around the wall behind the table. Pat's three-corner cupboard looks like it was made for the corner there. We will be putting up the wide board "bungalow" style woodwork in the kitchen around each arch. I have my eye on subway tile for the walls behind the stove and under the counters. Maybe come summer we'll be able to do it. Who knows?

Painted Walls!

Look at that! The walls are painted! We're looking like someone lives here!! It's been a busy two months. There are mountains of boxes (mostly empty) still on the back porch. Pat doesn't want to overwhelm the garbage man by giving him all of them at once. I'm disparing at ever finding a place for the contents of the rest of them.

The living room is coming along nicely. It will be spring (tax refund time) before we lay the floor. That's okay. I will wait to get the floors I want. In the mean time we have two big rugs that keep the dust off our feet. The cats and Hagar enjoy sleeping on them. We'll probably keep them after we lay the hardwood floors. If we didn't the critters would never forgive us.