Wednesday, November 30, 2005

No Rebroadcast and Other Sillyness (cartoon pic)

My husband and I were watching a hockey game last night and the announcer came on with that long announcement they make before the end of the broadcast stating you can't do this or that with the broadcast. It seems to be getting even more strict and almost silly. I drew (painted) this cartoon. You may need to click the cartoon to see the words large enough to read.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Project Snowballs, DIY, How Hard Can It Be?

It was so nice out yesterday, minus the wind, that I felt like doing some weatherstripping.
  • This is easy, you just take down the old and install the new. I was delighted to see that there were screws included in the package instead of nails. It is too hard to nail those tiny brads with the door closed. You need to have the door closed so you can tell if the strip is touching the door.
  • I pushed the strip up tight to the door and with my 18V screwdriver I zipped those screws in fast.
  • Then I opened the door and closed the door to check for leaks. But the door wouldn't shut, not unless you put your whole body weight into it. Shoot, OK, I'll adjust it. Luckily the slots for the screws were large enough you could move it a bit without taking the whole screw out.
  • Then the door shut nicely. But then I could see daylight in the crack. So I adjusted some more, then some more.
  • Maybe if I move the door latch-catch thing slightly to the inside it would catch the latch better. I took off the hardware and was amazed at the number of times this piece must have been fooled with over the house's almost 90 years. Some pretty big openings in there from the large, old antique hardware.
  • This required Bondo. I'm getting pretty good with Bondo. I filled the old screw holes with glued slivers of wood and hollowed out areas with the Bondo stuff, sanded it smooth and replaced the hardware.
  • Very nice. The door shut perfectly, almost no air coming through the cracks around the door. I still need to replace the overhead top piece, though, that's another day.
  • I put my tools away and cleaned up my mess, vacuumed where I had chiseled some wood and then locked the door. Ooops. The deadbolt now won't fit in its hole.
  • Oh, that Murphy's Law. I went over my options. Undo everything I had just done......or move the deadbolt latch. More Bondo, more chiseling, but in the end, the door closes and the locks are striking center of the hardware now and is much more solid. I used longer, better screws than what was there. And..... the whole reason I did this, the wind stopped howling through the door.

Monday, November 28, 2005


  • My husband and I both came down with bad colds that involve our sinuses and throats. I blame that terrible Thanksgiving night weather when we ventured out to the Otters game.
  • Scientists say, "no" that cold doesn't cause it but I know better, especially when it involves your sinuses. Needless to say, we had a boring, sick weekend.
  • I know through experience that nothing helps a scratchy throat like breathing in steam over a pot of water on the stove but I didn't want to stand over the stove for several days so I decided to replace the humidifier that bit the dust last year.
  • I ventured to the Lowes store on the west side. No way was I going to go to upper Peach even though it is closer. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and it was peaceful at the Lowes on W 26th street.
  • To make a long story short, I bought two rather big humidifiers. One for upstairs and one for downstairs. It is good for the wood furnishings, dry skin and a number of other things quoted on the box. I never liked the smell of the steam ones and they seem to sputter. I bought the large Hunter Carefree Humidifier Plus evaporative kind.
  • You never need to change the wick filter and it is suppose to be quiet. It isn't when the fan is on Hi, but that is a good thing in my book. I like the sound of a large fan and I keep fans going year around to drown out any neighbor noises, starting cars, etc. that used to wake us up.
  • There is also an occasional blup, not unlike the sound a 5-gallon water-cooler jug makes when you fill your cup. I don't mind that, either. As dry as our air gets with the radiator heat, I'll probably have to fill the tank daily to keep the humidity where I want it.
  • I'm keeping our house at 60 percent humidity while we are sick and then probably keep it at 50 percent. My Boston Ferns already have perked up. Maybe my plants will do good indoors this winter. They usually look dead from the dry heat.
  • And, of course, as soon as I bought them the weather gets warm and the air has plenty of humidity on its own anyway. But I know how temporary that is.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Well, I Never

  • I never have been so cold in my life as I was when I walked from our parked car to the Civic Arena last night to watch the Otters play hockey.
  • That wind just numbed me and I was wearing my new "perfect" coat, with my new matching hat, even. I had my matching neck scarf and matching gloves and was all matched. But all I had on my legs was an ordinary pair of light jeans, I'm not wise to the effects of "wind chill".
  • My husband tried to shield me and held me close as we walked on sheets of ice that were suppose to be sidewalks (who is in charge of safety here?)
  • I thought I was going to crack a tooth the way my teeth were chattering, it was so loud! My eyes were tearing up badly and my "Dailies contacts" were floating on the surface of these tears and I could feel the edges fluttering in the wind, really they were! If they went, so went the evening because I wouldn't be able to see who was who at the game.
  • My husband guided me carefully through ice and people in the howling wind. Then suddenly the door opens and we are in a warm place but I'm still shivering. A co-worker of my husband came over to greet us. I was stunned, unresponsive. I was still in a separate world of shock. I imagine this is what the people that get rescued feel like.

I was Otterly Dumbfounded...and Cold

It's a good thing I thoroughly enjoyed the company of my in-laws and their two little boys at the Otters game last night or I'd have been even more critical that we spent that much money to see a bunch of sleepy Otters skating around the rink under the premise they were actually playing a game. What'd they do, eat turkey before the game?

We fans endured unspeakable coldness to get there, the least they could do is put out some effort. You're losing me guys. There was some quotes in the paper that said something like "they don't think they can win.. .." Well, guess what. GET OVER IT! Where's the heart, you see it in little high schools without a chance to win in football and they still play their hearts out. You play your best win or lose, it's very revealing of your character. I don't care if they were to lose by 10 points if they played hard. I give a bit of credit to the goalie for playing hard, he got very little help.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

True Story - Turkey, Romance and Death

Most of my "I remember" stories come from California where living was, well, just plain odd. This is a true story.
  • This was many years ago. I bought a baby hatchling broad-breasted-bronze turkey at the feed store, he was adorable. I fed him and watched him grow into this huge, beautiful bird. When he was mature he would display his feathers like peacocks do and shake them whenever you'd come around.
  • I felt bad he was alone in his turkey world so I put out the word that I was looking for a female of the same.
  • Someone from where I worked actually had one as a pet and wanted to get rid of it. Quite a coincidence? Not really, remember I lived in rural northern California where llamas, ostriches, emus among other weird animals dot the countryside.
  • I picked up this broad-breasted female beauty after work and was quite excited for Mr. Tom. He was going to have a "friend". She was quite a handful in the car (these birds are much bigger than their wild counterparts).
  • It was almost dark when I arrived home and wrestled her into her new pen with Mr. Tom. He immediately started his feather displays and shaking but it was getting dark and I don't know what happened after that on that fateful night.
  • I ran out to the pen the next morning to feed them and found Mr. Tom dead. I didn't see any blood on him so I can only imagine he died because he got too excited. I couldn't believe that by trying to make him happy, I ended up killing him. I can only hope he died "happy".
  • So now I was stuck with this female turkey. The nice guy that gave me the bird said he'd take her back. He had dismantled her pen but said he'd let her run free in the pasture with the cows.
  • A few weeks later I inquired about how she was doing and my co-worker hesitated but then told me her fate. They figured she had been on the railroad tracks and didn't move when the train came because they found pieces and feathers everywhere on the tracks. I had heard they look up at the sky when it rains and they drown but you'd think they would be frightened by a train and move.
  • These are dumb birds. It is a wonder that any of these birds make it to the dinner table.

Monday, November 21, 2005

I Tried My Steam Machine, Review

Bissell 9400 ProHeat 2X Select Upright Deep Carpet Cleaner (This model has 12 rows of brushes and edge brushes, stair attachment, spot cleaner attachment, squeegee attachment, and a turbo upholstery attachment.)

The directions stink, that's all there is too it. But once you figure it all out, it is easy to use.

  • The tank is kind of small you have to dump it quite often. (But it would be bulkier and heavier to have a larger tank.)
  • If you don't make sure the solution tank's top is screwed on tightly and if the tank isn't seated perfectly, the whole tank ends up as a puddle on the floor. (don't ask me how I know this.) I think they could have made it more idiot proof.
  • It doesn't hold much water so you have to fill it quite often.
  • The beater brushes hardly were touching my kitchen carpet. Probably works better on higher pile carpets.
  • The edge brushes don't turn or anything. They just sit there. I didn't see any use for them as they barely touch the rug.
  • I didn't notice the water being any hotter but I didn't take a thermometer to check it.
  • Poor instructions.
  • Would be hard to fill and empty in a smaller sink. It is easy in a larger kitchen sink.
Good Points
  • The rug came very clean. I was surprised how clean it got.
  • The way they have it set up it is very easy to dump and refill the container once you have done it once and understand the process.
  • It didn't leave the rug too wet. I was careful to keep going over it to get as much water as I could out of it.
  • Even though it is a pretty large machine, it is easy to wheel about to put away.
  • Nothing broke. I read reviews on a similar model that the plastic parts break very easily. So far so good.
  • On our entry off the kitchen we had what looked like water ring stains where our boots tracked in snow and salt. It never would vacuum out but this took it out. It must have been salt stains.
I haven't tried the attachments yet. Might be a while but I'll do a review on them, too, just in case someone is thinking about buying this model.

68 Degrees

  • Anticipating the high cost of natural gas this year, we've been keeping our house at 68 degrees.
  • I get cold very easily and in the past I've been known to keep my house at 78 degrees in the middle of the snowy winter. It's a California thing. It's a thing that my husband mentioned the other day when discussing the high cost of fuel.
  • I have been walking around with a blanket around me sipping on really hot coffee to survive this frigid temperature of 68 degrees.
  • Yesterday, this problem was solved. My husband surprised me with a shopping gift for a WARM robe that I've been wanting. I picked out the most plush, warm one I could find.
  • This is the softest robe I've ever felt and it is keeping me so toasty that I started sweating in it this morning and asked my husband if he had turned the heat too high.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Otter and Turkey for Thanksgiving

  • Our Thanksgiving plans are set. First we have turkey, then we head out for a Erie Otters hockey home game. Family will be joining us from Cleveland and their two little boys will see hockey for the first time. I'm excited to see what they think of it.

  • I'm hoping the Otters will entertain us with a win this time.

I was surprised to look out the window and find the snow all melted in our backyard. Because the snow killed all my flowers it actually looked better with the snow. Now I'm left with wilted sticks and mounds of gray. I'm pretty bumbed about winter being here. This is the first time since we have moved here 6 years ago that I didn't at least get excited about the first snow of the year. I guess I'm headed for the 7-year itch (winter-wise that is.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

I'm Seeing Red

UPDATE on Steam Machine:
Bissell 9400 ProHeat 2X Select Upright Deep Carpet Cleaner
  • I got it put together. There was only 4 screws to put on and a couple of snap-in-place pieces. The rest are trial samples of their products and attachments.

  • I ended up with 3 hose-end pieces that don't have a place on the caddy. They made more pieces than they give you storage for. That's OK, I'll put them in a box in the basement. They must have thought adding 3 more spaces in the storage compartment would be too bulky.

  • The instructions for assembly was not very good. There are drawings that don't look a whole lot like the piece they are representing. Why pay someone to draw it, why not just take a picture? Surely saving the cost of an artist would have paid for having pictures included.

  • I haven't tried it yet as I spent all day painting.

  • After removing 80 plus years of wallpaper on my stair wall I primed it with a dark gray primer and painted the wall red about 3 years ago. I had nothing but problems with the color. It has faded to a lighter shade and now looks like it has too much pink in it. It is suppose to be a blood red color to match the red in our couch.

  • If you tried to clean any fingerprints off of it, a lot of color would just wipe off, too. It is chalking. This was Sears paint and I don't recommend it, at least not the reds. I normally buy Benjamin Moore or Behr but they didn't have the right red and Benjamin Moore said they couldn't produce that exact color on their computer. It must be a problem color.

  • I have 2 1/2 gallons of the red paint from Sears in my basement so I decided I would paint the wall again and then coat it with a water-based polyurethane. I have a hvlp sprayer that I'll probably use for the poly.

  • Yesterday I did some wall repair and cleaning and then primed the repairs with the gray undercoat so the paint doesn't turn out pink. Today I painted the wall again and I applied 4 coats to the repair areas and the gray is still showing. This paint is almost like watercolors.

  • If I could do it again, I'd just find a red wallpaper and wallpaper instead of all this nonsense.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

My New Steam Machine

  • My new Bissell 9400 ProHeat 2X Select Upright Deep Carpet Cleaner arrived yesterday by UPS. It came in a smaller box than I had anticipated which is bad news because I know that means I'm going to have to be a mechanic and put the stupid thing together.

  • Being it is snowing like crazy outside, I figured it a good time to take a peek and see what I've got in there. The big box contained one large part and several smaller boxes full of parts, well that's gonna be fun.

  • I unloaded the big box and now I have a whole corner of my carpet full of parts. I decided I'd come back to it. When I came back into the room there were our three cats all sitting there trying to decide if that parts mess on the carpet was friend or foe.

  • They better believe it is their friend because they are the reason I purchased the thing in the first place. I adore our cats, they are part of the family but they hack and they seem to do it on the carpet instead of the easier-to-clean flooring, the little....**8@# sweethearts.

  • But really the reason I bought it was because my plans to replace the kitchen carpet with stone tile and the removal of the bedroom carpet to show off the wood floors has fallen way behind schedule. My 2-year plan has become what looks more like an 8-year plan to finish my house. (I blame part of that on my addiction to fishing.) I have put off cleaning the carpets this past year because I was going to rip it out.

  • So now the cats can sleep on the couch which was off limits before though I'm sure they were on it when we weren't looking. This machine has an upholstery attachment to take care of any "problem" they may have up there.

  • I'll let you know, when I get around to using this machine, if it works well or not. What's the odds it will work like advertised?

Reality Sets In

  • I put off bringing in my fountain because the weather report said it would get down to about 31 or so and I figured it would take a long time to freeze up the water so I left it out for a "few more days".

  • As soon as I got on the computer this morning and saw it flashing 25 degrees in red, I ran down, put on my shoes and tiptoed through the snow to my frozen fountain. I couldn't get the top off, it was frozen on.

  • Oh no, that will wreck the pump! I was wrestling with it when my husband peeked out the door and told me to leave it, he'd get it.

  • Dressed in his shirt and tie, ready for work, he managed to get the top off and the pump out of the base and brought it through the wind and snow to my kitchen sink.

  • He's like my super hero that comes to the rescue when I do dumb things. Thanks, honey!

  • I could have easily brought it in last night when it wasn't frozen but for some reason I didn't want to give up yet and I couldn't believe it could get that cold that fast.

  • I did bring in two of my potted herb plants last night that I planned on leaving outside for Mr. Snowman. Then I thought it would be nice to have fresh herbs for the winter so I brought them to a sunny spot (if the sun ever comes out) on my kitchen window shelves. Marjoram and Rosemary...they smell wonderful.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Update: Progress-House Restoration

The Stairs. It seems I'm never going to get done.

TIP OF THE DAY. Don't try to step on the newly finished floor before you are sure it is totally cured. But I needed to get upstairs and it felt dry to the touch.......

What I've done already on the stairs.
  • Patched the ceiling.
  • Primed, textured and painted the ceiling.
  • Stripped off the old wallpaper on the landing.
  • Ripped up the 50s or 60s shag carpeting.
  • Stripped the oak wood baseboards and flooring on stairs and landing.
  • Stripped the oak around the windows on the stair landing.
  • Sanded all the wood and then applied several coats of dewaxed garnet shellac on baseboards, floor and window trim. ( Plus a redo on the floor for my "stepping on" mistake)
What is left to do on the stairs.
  • Apply a few blonde dewaxed shellac top coats on all wood.
  • Top all wood on stairs with Waterlox.
  • Touch up paint on walls around the windows and baseboards.
  • Put up new wallpaper on landing area.
  • The outside wall along the stairs is red. It wants to oxidize and chalk so I'm going to coat it with a poly when I'm done with everything else.
  • Pick out and hang some kind of curtain on the upper level window. It is hard to find something that will look good in a window that only 40 inches by 20 inches. I may make something myself.
I also just installed 2 1/2 inch trim along the top of the stair baseboards to hide rope lights so that the stairs are always lit. I've had some close calls coming down the stairs at night. The overhead light on the landing doesn't light the bottom of the stairs very well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Along the Road (cartoon)

When I was very small in Minnesota,whenever we went on a roadtrip us kids would have a counting contest. In Minnesota it was cows in fields along the road and if you came upon a dairy, which was likely, the game was pretty much over because we couldn't count that fast or that high.

When we moved to California, the game turned into counting horses out in the pastures and pens along the road.

Here in Pennsylvania I haven't got over my counting game, it is kind of a ritual of a trip. But here I count dead deer.....sometimes dead raccoons. Last year between Pittsburgh and Erie there must have been more than 50 dead deer along the freeway during that trip. That was horror, what was that all about?

Luckily, when we went to Grove City the other day I counted only 2 dead deer in the first few miles but none after that. I wasn't as scared coming home that night. I never worried about hitting deer when I lived in California, loose 1,200-pound horses in the fog, yes...but deer, no.

Below is a light-hearted cartoon I drew of what you may see on a cross-country trip at night.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Alarming Personality


  • I knew the minute I tried on the pretty, gray, tailored, wool coat with a monk hood that it was "the one". But OK, I'll wait until I go to the other stores and I'd come back to it if nothing else beats it.

  • A dozen stores and as many "try-ons" later and with two bags of Jelly Bellys, I returned to London Fog just before closing.

  • That's the one, I told my husband who gave me approval for a good selection. We took it up to the counter and I asked the clerk to please remove the tags so I could wear it home.

  • We left the store and I felt so stylish and warm and pleased with my new coat. I actually had a bounce in my step as my husband told me the coat was very flattering.

  • On returning to Erie we stopped at Target. As I walked through the doors I heard an alarm go off but didn't think anything of it except I thought what a coincidence that it went off as soon as I passed through the door.

  • On leaving, the alarm went off again. Of course I stopped, looked around for the "door police" to arrive and check my bags but no one came and I left but not without feeling all the people around me thought I was a thief. That can be traumatic.

  • How could I keep wearing this coat if it sets the alarms off at stores? We joked that I could have a good time setting alarms off at the mall if I had that kind of personality, which I don't.

  • At home I went over that coat several times trying to figure out where there may be an alarm trigger. There just wasn't any and I was going to have to call the London Fog store to find out what to do. As I hung up the coat I noticed a tag sewn into the lining next to the care tag that had a tiny picture of a scissors on it. After closer inspection I found my alarm.

  • What a dumb thing to do, make it look just like a care tag and sew it into the lining. You have to cut it off and take a chance of ruining the lining. It had a thin piece of metallic-coated paper inside and you have to cut it really close to get it all. I guess it isn't one of those things you deactivate at the store because it says to remove it by cutting it off after purchase.

  • The funny thing is, it didn't set off the alarm at the London Fog store when I wore it out. Shouldn't the clerk tell you these things?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Whys?

  • Why can't they make digital cameras click instantly so the moment isn't gone by the time the dumb thing flashes?

  • Why don't they make an affordable turntable that you could drive up onto in your driveway to turn your car around so you don't have to back out into street traffic, something simple made out of strong plastic with ball bearings that you could just push around?

  • Why don't they make a paintable caulk that is really, truly paintable?

  • Why can't be on top of things and have "real-time" doppler instead of being late to the show with doppler images 20 to 40 minutes out of date?

  • If Dish TV can have local network channels, why can't Direct TV?

  • Why do they put paint thinner, denatured alcohol and mineral spirits in a metal can that sloshes all over the place when you pour it? If they insist on using that can why can't they sell a pouring spout for it that screws on like a gas can has?

  • Why do they try and sell a magazine with 4 pages of content and 30 pages of ads for more than a book would cost? Who are these people dumb enough to buy it?

  • Why don't they make toilet holes bigger so they don't clog?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Bird Flew (sic) (pic)

  • Dusk was fully set in as we crossed the bridge at Petroleum Center on Oil Creek. There before us, standing his ground with the headlights illuminating him, was a male ringneck pheasant.
  • We stopped and watched it as I fumbled for my backpack that was in the rear seat. I can't believe how hard it is to get a camera case out of a backpack and then the camera out of the camera case when you are surprised by a Kodak moment.

  • The pheasant seemed to be giving me every opportunity to take the picture. He turned like a model in the presence of a paparazzo, first this side, then that, even his backside for a moment.

  • When the camera finally turned on, I aimed it through the windshield and snapped the picture. Then another. A quick glance showed I was getting a picture of myself in the windshield. More fumbling and I turned the flash off. The preview looked black.

  • He'd had enough and headed for the side of the road. I got out and crept up to try and get a picture. Of course, the flash had been turned off, black picture. By the time I fumbled the flash setting back on, I couldn't see him anymore in the brush.

  • I crept closer and jumped out of my wits when he flew straight up making scary noises on the way. I think he got a kick out of that.

  • I think that bird had a couple of laughs that day. We saw hunters up the road earlier probably looking for pheasants. He was down there at the bridge feeling smug.

  • Below is what I could get from the blackened picture. Too bad, he was quite the specimen, a real Brad Pitt of the pheasant world.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Tree Could Have Been in Lord of the Rings(pic)

I saw this neat tree when we stopped at Oil Creek Outfitters near Titusville. To me it looks like a gorilla with a cone head throwing leaves or an Ent from Lord of the Rings.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

End of the Road (pic)

Yesterday we took our last fishing trip to Oil Creek for the year. We saw fish but didn't catch anything, which was fine with us. The trip there was so breathtakingly beautiful it didn't matter. Colored leaves rained down on us along the back road and the air was crisp with that unmistaken aroma of fall leaves. What more could you ask for?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Great Idea Gone Awry

My head is so full of what I think are great ideas. A good number of them don't work, but that doesn't stop me from trying them. One of the first ideas I had, was in training my horse.

  • I knew very little about horses, I just wanted one. I bought an untrained horse, that may not have been smart but it was cheap.

  • I went to the library and checked out about every book and magazine on horses I could find and started reading.

  • Luckily, I had my younger sister to test my new knowledge. Our system worked out well, I read and instructed and she'd do what I told her. When she would go flying through the air after mounting my horse, I'd tell her that you are suppose to get right back on. She'd heard that, too, didn't know why it was important, but she figured I must be right. She'd climb back on, only to be on her back a few seconds later. One day she stayed on (she looked like a professional rodeo rider) and "Glee" stopped bucking. I was so happy... he was "broke".

  • The next day I mounted Glee confidently, gave him a little nudge with my foot. It's not like in the movies.......I landed in a somewhat sitting position.

  • I read that you have to keep the horse's head up to keep him from bucking so I devised this little getup that you see in the picture. I tied a rope from each side of his halter and tied them together high on his neck and then back to the saddle horn. He couldn't lower his head very far.

  • I got on and it worked. I went out into the pasture and felt so free! I started him galloping. Yipppeeeee!!!! It was so much fun!

  • The rope broke, it is a long ways down, big rocks, flat on my back.... wind out of me....can't breathe, I hate that horse, that cloud in the sky kind of looks like a cat, I wouldn't be getting right back on anytime soon.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Latest Fish Fashion

I caught a fish once that had obviously been caught several times before and I wondered why that particular fish didn't learn his lesson.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Amish, What Do They Do In The Winter?

  • On our Sunday afternoon trip to Oil Creek we passed several Amish horses and buggies traveling down the road. We figured they were coming home from church services as it was about 1:30 in the afternoon. As we continued, we saw another one turn onto the main road from a gravel road that we believe goes to Spartanburg.

  • The shoulder of the road we were on was very narrow and the cars were passing so close to the horses and buggies. How scary that would be worrying about the cars and on top of that, they must also worry about the horses. Horses are unpredictable and these were no cloddy work horses. These were pretty,well-groomed, energetic, high-stepping horses.... a site to behold.

  • It must be hard for the Amish to try and live a seperate life with cars whizzing by and goverment regulations on their backs.

  • I've always wondered, what do the Amish do in the winter? The sides of the roads are filled with plowed snow. It is next to impossible to ride a bike in the ice and snow (though I have seen two guys do it on some of the coldest, snowiest days going up Peach Street) so I assume it would be very difficult to maneuver a buggy. Do they still use their buggies to get around or just ride the horses?