Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
I'm in the middle of painting and wiring my bathroom and I ran out of wire nuts and pigtail wires yesterday evening . I told my husband I needed to quickly run up to Lowes so I could finish. On the way back he pulled into Barnes and Noble. Oh, good, I can thumb through the magazines. I found a nice new magazine I hadn't seen before called Arts and Crafts Homes.
While thumbing through the magazine I looked up and saw a lady thumbing through some magazines and she looked kind of familiar. I saw the magazines she was looking at were watercolor art magazines. So I looked down at her shoes. She wasn't wearing those very artistic painted shoes but I was quite certain from one of her posted photographs that it was Toni Kelly, a local blogger that I read all the time.
I debated introducing myself as I have been working all day on my projects and was a mess. My hair was pulled up and falling down, my knuckles were scraped up and full of plaster and paint that I couldn't get off before we left. I had grabbed and changed into a non-paint shirt just to run to Lowes and realized when I got there that it was missing a button and was pretty wrinkled. But hey, no one knows me. OK, I was about to make a bad first impression, ha.
I couldn't help it, I finally asked, "Are you Toni Kelly?". She looked up and replied, "yes". I said I was Linda.......eriesargonaut.
So we talked and talked and our husbands quickly exited and went their own way through the store. When my husband and I left I thought, oh no, it was their anniversary night out and I talked her ear off.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
To read part 2, click here.
To read part 3, click here.
To read part 4, click here.
Visualize, if you will, a man, 6' 4", crammed into my Geo Metro. Visualize the movie, "The Incredibles" in which you see that superhero hunk come out of that tiny undersized little car. That is my husband in my little Geo.
Say what you will about those Geo Metros, mine hasn't given me a lick of trouble except a little windshield wiper water squirter motor gave out once and I had to replace a muffler for a safety inspection. It is a 1996 but runs great, only has 79,000 (mostly California, no salt) miles on it and it is always there when we need it, and we needed it. I call it my glorified motorcycle. We ran all over town on Sunday and went out to dinner with the family for Father's Day. I drove the Geo Metro LSI and my husband sat in the passenger seat with his head bent slightly forward to keep from hitting his head on the roof. His knees were up into his chest but he didn't complain. He was taking all of this in stride.
To our surprise we got a phone call with an estimate at 7:30 AM on Monday and they said they would have the Subaru fixed by that afternoon. Now that is service!!! It turns out that the alternator went out and it killed the almost new Sears battery while it was at it. So what is a few hundred more dollars, we almost have a rebuilt car by now. My husband said he'd come home from work early and we'd drive to Warren in the Geo, pick up the car and each drive our own cars home. On the way we passed a Subaru on the side of the road with people inside. I said we should stop and help them if they are stranded, my thoughts of repaying the kindness given to us. But just then the car pulled back onto the road.
Maybe you have to go to the country to find nice, helpful people like the ones we encountered on Saturday. Maybe it is because they haven't been corrupted by the hustle and bustle of city life. I think we all get so caught up in being in a hurry that there are few that go out of there way to help someone. It is all about US and get out of OUR way mentality of people. When someone does help it is such a big deal that the person will write a thank you letter in the newspaper (or as in this case, a blog) . We wondered if we had driven by someone sitting on the side of the road where we had been stranded, would we have stopped to help. I'm ashamed to say I don't think we would have. I always think there is too much danger in it. Those two girls took a chance on us and I hope to be able to help someone someday like they did.
We decided to go to Kinzua Reservoir in the first place because we thought it would be a nice drive and we would be back in time for game 6 and what we thought was most probably the final game of the Stanley Cup. We missed it. As luck would have it, not only did we have a great day on the day we broke down, but the Stanley Cup went to game 7 and we were back in time from picking the car up on Monday to see it.
PS. Last night we went car shopping. : -)
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
To read part 2, click here,
To read part 3, click here
My husband jumped to his feet and went over to greet the driver. I stood up not quite ready to say goodbye to these nice people and this out-of-the-way place. The hour it took for the driver to get there had flown by. But we needed to get going, still unsure how we would get home.
My husband jumped up into the cab first and I followed. I struggled to put on the one passenger seatbelt in the cab leaving my husband without one. As the truck started moving and bouncing to get up onto the pavement my knuckles clinched the open window frame. I glanced at my husband who gave my leg a little pat of assurance. The truck started moving but was geared so low that the driver had to shift gears every few seconds until we started building speed. Each gear change made an obscene grinding sound.
The tow company was from Mt. Jewett which I had never heard of before but my husband knew where it was as he is a native of Erie. I tried to size up the driver. He looked like a tow-truck driver. He was a heavy-built and rustic-looking man. He wore a hat, jeans and a long shirt left hanging to the outside. My assumption was that he may be one of those redneck types. Then we all started talking and asking questions. He wasn't at all like I thought he may be. He was very sweet and seemed like a real gentle soul. He knew the area inside and out.
We headed back into the woods for miles and finally came to the spot the car gave out. Funny how our car doesn't break down closer to home. With his expertise, the driver loaded up the useless vehicle and locked it down. He took us to the town of Warren to the Subaru dealership. I was afraid it may be quite a ways out of town and we'd have no way to find something to eat but it was adjoined to the local mall. When the truck came to a halt, I had to pry my fingers off of the door frame. I had been gripping it with white knuckles the whole 20 plus miles of curvy road since picking up our car.
As the driver was unhitching our car from the flatbed tow truck my husband saw his cell phone now had service and he called his parent's house in Millcreek hoping someone would be home. He figured if his dad couldn't come then maybe his sister's husband could. Turns out his sister and husband were out of the state for a few days but his dad said he would come pick us up. Half an hour later and he would have been gone attending a party and we wouldn't have been able to get a hold of them until the next day. We felt terrible asking him to come all that way especially right after he got off work and Father's Day being the next day and making him miss out on a gala event.
We thanked our nice tow truck driver and locked up our car. We walked over to a mall restaurant and had dinner. We were gonna miss what we thought was the Stanley Cup final game. As we were eating we both commented how lucky we were to be sitting down and eating right then. How things could have turned out so much differently. And that we both had a really good time. Weird, especially with the thought of a big repair bill hanging over our heads and after just forking out over $4,000 in repairs just a few weeks before for the same car.
We returned to our car and started organizing all our belongings that we couldn't leave in the car. My husband got an envelope out of the self-service box at the repair shop at the dealership. They were already closed and wouldn't open until Monday. He wrote down the symptoms of the car failure, dropped in the keys and dropped it into the slot on the side of the building. So there the car would stay and I was quickly losing fondness for it.
Just then my father-in-law pulls in and he even has a smile on his face. He is a very special person, most always happy and always willing to lend a hand. We filled the trunk with our stuff and loaded ourselves in and headed home. I wondered how long, this time, we would be without our car.......to be continued
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
The little store with the pay phone, minnows, worms and lures, and a variety of diet-busting snacks was quaint and woodsy as could be. It reminded me of my youth where I spent summers at Milacs Lake in the upper central part of Minnesota. My great uncle has a cabin there. That is where the movie, Grumpy Old Men was staged. This place was that kind of bait shop. We bought some water and Pepsi and I chug-a-lugged that Pepsi down. Ahhh, ice cold.
The guy that ran the place knew it was going to be a while before the tow truck came and told us we were welcome to get out of the sun and go next door and relax under their large shade trees in front of one of the cabins and kick back in their chairs. We told him thanks and mosied over to a big tree. I really didn't want to intrude on their personal territory so I sat down on the grass under another tree and played with a caterpillar that was making its way across the grass.
A few minutes later we were joined by the family that ran the place. There was a break in business and they spent their breaks out under the biggest tree. There was a fresh, cool spring that ran just past where the chairs were that made a soothing trickling and bubbling sound and there was a thick canopy of old growth trees over head. Again he asked us to take up a chair and join them and this time we did. My leg had gone to sleep sitting under the tree and I gimped over to the picnic table. It must have been 10 degrees cooler there next to the stream. I thought what a dream come true to be able to have such a nice place in the woods like that. Boat rentals, canoes, cabins.
Sometimes there is an awkward silence when you are suddenly among people you don't know. I don't remember who started talking first but it was if we knew these folks. Conversations flowed and the benefits and drawbacks of running such a place brought laughter and smiles. The conversation only paused when their land line portable phone would ring with affirmative replies that they had this and that and yes, you can rent boats there. We were having such a nice time and I was truly enjoying the relaxation when the quiet sounds of nature were abruptly interrupted by the sound of a large engine, the squealing sounds of brakes and rattling of large chains.
You need towing?.............to be continued
Monday, June 19, 2006
Two girls stopped in a car that looked a lot like the one the man was driving earlier. They asked if we were the one's that needed help for a broken-down car. Yep, that's us! They told us they would take us to the nearest phone so we could call for help.
Apparently, when the man got back to the campsite he told the family about us and they decided to find a park ranger to see if they would help. The girls said they were concerned that the ranger may not do anything. They thought of us out there turning down rides thinking a car was coming back to help. So they took the car to go find us.
They introduced themselves as Vanesa Venezia and her friend, Sandy. They were from Hawaii and camping with the family at the Dewdrop campsites. Vanessa said she was from the Warren area originally. I can't stress how much we appreciated that they went so far out of their way for us. They drove us to the nearest payphone which was somewhere on highway 321 at a little store and bait shop. They said if there wasn't a phone there they would take us into Kane, another 8 miles. Vanessa and Sandy said they wanted to stay until we had made the arrangements with the tow truck driver and to make sure everything worked out. They even said we were welcome to join the family at the campsite if we couldn't get home or find a place to stay that day which was beginning to look like a possibility as it was now past the open hours of the Subaru dealership or the car rental place.
After all the arrangements were made with a tow truck that was coming all the way from Mt. Jewett to tow us to Warren, we said our goodbyes. The two wouldn't accept any money for gas and helping us.
Wow, there are still nice people out there. Our day was getting better already. I thought about that movie "Pay it Forward".
The bait shop..........to be continued
Sunday, June 18, 2006
No service is what our cell phones said. That's when it hit me that we could be robbed, kidnapped or worse. Of course my husband wasn't thinking along those lines but he was concerned as we were miles and miles from a phone signal or land line.
Our day trip to the Kinzua Reservoir was wonderful until we drove several miles past the Dewdrop campgrounds and decided to turn around. A couple of jerks when the brakes were applied. an"at oil" light came on as well as a flashing ABS light. The engine was speeding up and slowing down erratically and then it happened, it died. Dead, doornail dead. Subaru dead.
Ok, luckily we got AAA a couple of months ago when we were stranded when our transmission gave out in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately we didn't get the upgrade for the 100 mile tow. And even more unfortunately, when we tried to call for a tow truck we realized we were screwed, No Service.
It was hot, very hot. Boy, I was glad I bought some chocolate strawberries and some pecan turtles from Romolos before we left. We had two diet cokes and one ice pack in the lunch-pail size cooler.
We got out a map and my husband was trying to see how far we might be from a phone. Just then a car happened by and I gave that distressed look and it worked. The man stopped and asked if we needed directions. I told him the car died. He somewhat begrudgingly said he'd come back to help after he dropped his carload of kids off. We waited and waited and waited. It was getting so hot. We decided to start walking even though we knew there was no way we'd be able to walk our way out of that place.
I was trying to make the best of it and took out the chocolate and said we'd better eat it before it melts when the ice pak gives out. So with chocolate faces we headed up the hill.
When the taste of chocolate finally left my mouth my thoughts started turning to the fact that we already drank most of the coke and we didn't have anything to drink after they were gone. Then the thoughts turned to bathrooms. Now what will happen then? I'm not a "go in the woods" type of person. I barely will use an outhouse and that is only after hours of agony before accepting the lesser of two evils.
Then the car comes around the corner but it isn't the man we saw earlier.
to be continued.................
Friday, June 16, 2006
I was emailed this as one of those FW:FW: etc etc. but I found it interesting. I entered the phrases in Google and found several sights that are posting this. I wouldn't know how to know it was true unless you happen to have access to a two-way mirror to test it.
TWO WAY MIRRORS
I thought it was quite interesting! And I know in about 30 seconds
you're going do what I did and find the nearest mirror...
Do you know how to determine if a mirror is 2-way or not? This is
not to scare you... but to make you aware. A policewoman who travels all
passed this on.
When we visit restrooms, hotel rooms, changing rooms, etc., how many
of you know for sure that the seemingly ordinary mirror hanging on the
wall is a real mirror, or actually a 2-way mirror ( I.e., they can see you,
but you can't see them)?
There have been many cases of people installing 2-way mirrors in
female changing rooms. It is very difficult to positively identify the
surface by just looking at it. So, how do we determine with any
amount of certainty what type of mirror we are looking at? Just
conduct this simple test:
Place the tip of your fingernail against the reflective surface and if there is a GAP between your fingernail and the image of the nail, then it is a GENUINE mirror.
However, if your fingernail DIRECTLY TOUCHES the image of your nail,
then BEWARE, FOR IT IS a 2 -WAY MIRROR!
"No Space, Leave the Place!" So remember, every time you see a
Mirror, do the "fingernail test." It doesn't cost you anything. Remember:
"No Space, Leave the Place!"
Ladies: Share this with your girlfriends, sisters, daughters, etc.
Men: Share this with your wives, daughters, in-laws, mothers,
girlfriends and/or friends.
And to my friends... please pass this email on to all your online
Remember: "No Space, Leave the Place" --- Better safe than sorry.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Monday, June 12, 2006
- My husband took Friday off of work and we got to enjoy a 3-day weekend. We went to Pittsburgh on Friday to visit the Science Center that we didn't have time for the last time we went to Pittsburgh.
- If I had school-age kids this would be the place to bring them. But you never outgrow having fun with science. This was the first time I saw live seahorses swimming around.
- I let myself be a bit silly and went in the blue-screen booth and did the weather forecast. I was doing an imitation of Groundhog Day. I figured no one knows me there so I could act silly. Later, at the scale-model train room the assistant said there were several people from Erie there that day.... Oh.
- My favorite part was the real (cold war) submarine. I loved the old brass and how well everything was made. It is amazing how small a space those guys had to live in.
- We saw the Everest Imax film which was great. We rented it a few years ago and saw it on our TV but it is nothing like the IMAX theater screen. My favorite part of that was the introduction that showed Pittsburgh. The flyovers etc. You really feel like you are flying.
- After the Science Center we visited some of the "for sale" Mexican War Street historic homes and took pictures for my sister. My sister (from California) is interested in buying one for a vacation home. Who would want to vacation in Pittsburgh? That was my first question but I guess if you are used to living at the beach in southern California it is nice to get away to something different. Pittsburgh does have some interesting things to do.
- Saturday was spent working on my little backyard. We bought some landscape fabric and covered the rest of the yard with that and added the red mulch. The Scott's mulch came in 2 cu ft bags. We figured about 5 would cover the little area. We had to go back 2 more times to get enough to cover the grassy area of the yard. My back yard is something like 16 by 20 ft and half is garden not being mulched. The grand total to cover the area that was grass was 24 bags of that stuff. Boy were we off! But it really looks nice and neat now and no more weed whipping. Maybe a little roundup along the edges. When I finish with the front lawn next year, about 10 ft x 16 ft, we can sell our lawnmower!
- Yesterday we drove to Findley Lake (I love it there), then on to Cambridge Springs and then visited Campbell pottery again. I love going there and there is always new stuff to see. I didn't buy anything this time but I'm sure I'll make up for it in the future.
- So this week is going to be filled with working on the bathroom. I'm adding 4 GFI outlets and new lighting fixtures. I'll have to plan it all out and get my permits. In the mean time, I have the door stripped and primered. It took just about a week of tedious work and huge mess on that one and I have decided to just do the bad spots on the rest of the woodwork in the bathrooms. The rest of the house has natural oak and heart pine. Now I know why very few people strip the paint off. Just sand and paint over it even it it looks a bit bumpy. It is an antique house, after all, gives is character :-)
Monday, June 05, 2006
I finished my garden project today and look forward to taking the morning paper and coffee out and enjoy my little quiet spot in the garden. I finished the painting a couple of weeks ago but just finished adding several coats of poly on it to make it stand up to the weather. I mounted it in the window frame I fixed and painted. Then I took a very old shelf and painted it to match and mounted it on the fence with shelf brackets. I bought 2 of those little, colorful flip flop picture frames and put them on the shelf. I'm going to put pictures of my nephews in them after I waterproof the printouts. At night the landscape lights hit the picture and it looks like the sun is still shining behind the trees. I really like my new area to relax.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
"Up-close look at the new Tom Ridge Environmental Center with photo gallery, 360-degree look at key rooms, audio clip from its large-format theater."
Friday, June 02, 2006
They didn't restore their home, someone did it for them. They didn't paint or shampoo the rugs, they didn't strip the woodwork, they didn't even draw up the plans for the addition. Yes, oh my, they had the absolute awful, stressful job of picking out the fixtures. Hmm.
I had an in-law relative once claim to have built a house. It was a few years before I found out he never lifted a hammer. He "oversaw" what the workers were doing, meaning he sat sipping a cold drink and watched some contractor he hired and the contractor's crew work. He helped make some decisions on the fixtures and how many rooms and the size of the rooms . I was so impressed that he was able to build a house until I found out the truth. Anyone can pick out the fixtures and watch the other people work.
Once in a while they will have on those shows, someone that actually took a toothbrush and stripped all the crevices on the stair spindles and stripped all the layers of old wallpaper, that saved the old windows and restored them one by one until they were as good as new, that made the custom gate for the yard, that made the stained-glass windows, that tore out the toilet and fixed the leaks, that repaired parts of the foundation, that made screen doors and windows, that repaired, plastered, and painted the ceilings and walls and even painted the artwork on canvases in the frames hung on the walls, that tore out the old carpets and stripped and sanded the hardwood floors.....and then to have someone ask that person, oh, you don't work? you don't have a job? must be nice! Oh, wait, that person that doesn't work is not on the show, it's me.
Now, why now after all these projects am I complaining? It's not that I still have dozens of major projects hanging over my head and it's not that there is no satisfaction in completing these projects and when I'm done we'll have a real nice house. It's that paint stripping is the worst, the worst! of all possible jobs that I have done. And when the paint goes back up on the wood, no one but us will even notice the difference.
The real reason why I'm writing this is because I don't want to go back in just yet and finish that paint stripping. I'm enjoying sitting here in front of my computer sipping on an ice cold coke. Oh, you work at a computer desk all day? Must be nice!
Thursday, June 01, 2006
How many more layers of paint are there?
After almost 90 years the paint on the bottom layer of my bathroom woodwork is failing. Why couldn't it have failed with the previous owner? :-)
I'm using a semi-paste paint and epoxy stripper. It is too hot and humid to use the heat gun. I almost fainted from the heat when I tried it. It works good outdoors but I don't like it indoors. So I took out the "big guns", my strong paint stripper. The fumes are terrible even with the window open but I shut the door and let it work and come back and quickly try to remove another layer and put some more on. This is not fun, not fun at all. I did try the safe "peel away" paint stripper. It took overnight to do one layer of paint. I'd never get done at that rate. So I'm using the obnoxious stuff. The top layer came off easily in large strips, the old oil paint is a gooooey mess.
Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. This is going to get done eventually. I have floor to ceiling built-in drawers, a medicine cabinet and the window and half the door still left to do. I'm trying to whistle while I work. I'm reminding myself that I "love old houses".