A NEW HOME CHRONICLE
Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net
12 June 2018
Catching Up is Hard to Do
I realized when looking my blogs over that I hadn't updated this one in a long time. After all, it's not really "a new home chronicle" anymore, is it? We've been here twelve years. Some of our oldest neighbors have moved away, and, even though nice neighbors have replaced them, it's not the same. Most of the homes sold on this street are being bought to be rentals, and renters just don't care about their neighborhoods and the home as much as someone who actually has a stake in the house. (Some friends of ours have sadly learned this as a family member's home they rented was completely trashed. They have spent weeks trying to get it in shape to sell.) No one seems to want to own a home, at least in this area, anymore. A couple of miles up the road, maybe, near downtown Smyrna, where they can walk to the new Publix and the library and the little pond, maybe, but not here.
Life has been good here, but as the years have gone on aging has taken its toll on us. Two months after my previous entry here, James had to get a power chair. After two falls on the stairs which resulted in two compressed disks in his spine, the two heels of his feet riddled with bone spurs, two bad knees in which he gets steroid injections quarterly, and two arthritic hips, our health provider felt that this was necessary for him to have transportation to actually keep working, never mind actually go and amuse ourselves occasionally. He can no longer walk any long distances. Up until last spring he was coming out with me at night to walk the dog, but he can no longer even manage that.
In July 2016 he had the first of two heart attacks; the second of which was in September of 2017. One doctor freely admitted that he should have been catherized in 2015 when he was having minor chest pain and was sent to Northside Hospital for a battery of tests, but after 24 hours of testing they said he was okay and sent him home instead. We have made major dietary changes, with low-sodium and low-carb as our motto, but problems with his kidneys have continued to plague us. He started having kidney irregularities in December of 2015, but not one of his blood tests flagged the high scores, nor was he contacted by a doctor to get them checked out, so we didn't know they were abnormal until he had the first heart attack. For six weeks between March and April of this year he was actually on kidney dialysis thrice a week, until someone finally figured out the big problem wasn't his kidneys, it was his prostate gland. It is now so enlarged it is blocking his ability to completely empty his bladder. The overflow is is backflowing into his kidneys, causing most of the problems. He is now undergoing tests in that area to see what the ultimate solution to the problem is.
In December 2017, while starting out on a trip to Chattanooga, we were struck by a car running a red light. The back quarter of the black pickup truck was completely ruined, especially the right rear wheel, which was bent on its axle. The expensive power chair lift at the back of the truck was also ruined. The power chair was thrown across the road, but miraculously still works, although it was very scratched up. We spent the month of January searching out a new pickup and bought a white 2014 Toyota Tacoma we found at a small used car lot. We got enough from the insurance claim to pay for a new trailer hitch and chair lift and put something for a down payment. The black truck was showing power train problems, so it was probably for the best, but now James has a multi-year truck payment he didn't have before.
Our young pets Tucker, the hyperactive tricolor terrier, and Snowy, the white and grey budgie, are now mature guys. Tucker is less hyperactive, still very alert and very terrier-torial, and celebrated his fourth adoption day just recently. He will be five in the fall, and Snowy will be five in November. After learning to perch on my finger after months of coaxing, "Mr. Snow" had a complete personality change in October of 2015 and became a nipper. In the last few months he has been letting me scratch him behind the ears, and he talks up a storm, especially when I put on his favorite program, Leo Laporte's podcast "The Tech Guy." But finger sitting? No dice.
My milestone came in January of this year when I retired after nearly 33 years of Federal service. Workwise I just flat out couldn't take the stress of end-of-fiscal-year anymore and the traffic horror that is the Atlanta commute any longer. When we moved into this house it would take me forty minutes to get to work and an hour to get home. When I retired it was 45 to fifty miles in the morning, and 80 to 120 minutes for a ride home. Teleworking for eleven of the twelve years we have been here was a godsend, but even two or three days a week fighting traffic became draining. I'd also become a dinosaur at my job. CDC is no longer hiring purchasing agents; the trainee contract specialists cut their teeth on purchase orders and now everyone does them along with their contracts. There were only two purchasing agents left, and the other one was also contemplating retirement. Plus it had gotten more and more difficult for me to drive in the dark. I've never been able to drive well in twilight and it has gotten worse over the years; and except for the ten weeks around the summer solstice, I was pretty much driving to work in the dark daily. That and the crazy traffic was making me fearful. Last year the Atlanta Braves stadium moved seven miles from our house (we didn't get to vote on it; they just stuck it there and now it has eaten up all the county's budget for parks so that they are threatening to close half the parks around us) and made the traffic situation even worse.
In the months since January, when I haven't been keeping James company in a hospital room or going back and forth to doctors' appointments with him, I have been trying to get the house in order. I suppose everyone finds this out (except perhaps minimalists) as they get older, but you tend to accumulate the damnedest pile of junk as you live. You buy new stuff and toss some of the old stuff, but not all, and it just fades into corners, taking up more and more space each year. I've been wanting to tackle this junk for years, and now I have the chance.
I wish it looked a lot better, but it looks a little better and even that is a help. This is a brief summary of the progress (I'm sure it's a boring list to read, but these are major victories for me):
But, as Walter Cronkite always said, "That's the way it is."
12 September 2014
Some Wall Redecorating
Click on any image to see a larger version.
In my craft room:
The top shelf originally held a clock I didn't like, and the bottom the collectible Maxwell Smart figure James had bought me. Max is now tacked up next to the phonograph and I may rework the clock if I can find a new clock face for it. But I have a clock for the room now, so maybe not. And the "me shelf" now has a place besides on my art desk.
Closer look at the "me shelf," which is supposed to be a collection of miniature items that represent my interests. Almost all of these came from the Country Pickin's people who show up at the Yellow Daisy Festival, including the little shelf itself, some as purchased and some repainted, like the slate that's become a tablet, or the two big books on the second shelf which were painted and had printed covers put on them. I made the cross stitch frame out of toothpicks and a piece of linen. The drawing pencil is also a painted toothpick, and the box it's resting on should say "art supplies," but I haven't done that yet. The one that talks about stitchery was originally for sewing; I took the little spools off it and replaced them with "skeins" of floss. The books stacked up under the drawing pad have printed covers; one is "Sleigh Bells for Windy Foot." The encyclopedia volume at top right was a Hallowe'en spell book, repainted. The map (of Great Britain nonetheless—what a lucky find!) and the smaller stacked books in blue, brown, red and green are from the miniatures collection at Michael's. The little sheep and the cottage seemed to fit, although the cottage isn't done yet. I want to give it an autumn tint, and leaves scattered about.
The "art wall": an original Alice Spivey at top, Andy Runton's print of Owly and friends as some time traveling favorites, the stag print I bought at DragonCon this year, and a Mary Bloemker print which was included in one of her fanzines, "Faces of Time." Plus Mom and Cousin Anna Furtado smiling down at me at right.
And the recent redo of the wall in the spare room. I figured the poster fit the travel theme. [big wide grin]
15 August 2014
A "Gnedby" is what Ikea has renamed the narrow CD towers once known as "Benno." I bought two of them about a month ago for use down in the library. Yes, they are very narrow, but I thought they would be perfect for use with regular paperbacks, small trade paperbacks, and even small hardbacks like Whitman books. I'd planned to put them together the last Friday I was off, but I had a stinking headcold and a low-grade fever instead. I'd worked through most of both and was damned if I was going to assemble shelving while blowing my nose every five minutes.
Ikea stuff is simple to assemble, especially if there aren't drawers or doors, so these went together easily. Annoyed to find out, though, that the "lock screws" they're now using are plastic. How cheap. Bad enough they quit making all the nice Leksvik stuff—glad we got our china cabinet and bed and the side table and James' night table when we did!—and stopped making the CD dividers for the Billy shelving.
While the shelving didn't take me long, the book shifting did. I love my books, but not having to shift them around in large quantities. The first Gnedby went into the narrow space between a Billy bookcase holding biographies at the top and travel books at the bottom. and the door to the library, and I moved any paperback biographies and small-sized biographies, like the Dell Yearling book of Jean Fritz's biography and the two of Beverly Cleary, into it. A few health books went on the bottom and now there is biographical room again—well, until I finish all the books I have about Theodore Roosevelt, etc. at least! To top it, a foam pumpkin hollowed to hold fall flowers.
The library's still pretty crowded; at some point I'm going to buy six of the 15-inch wide Billy shelves and put them up at the end caps of the stacks to add more space. My history books runneth over!
04 November 2012
A Good Sunday's Work
"When last we met in Yet Another Journal," lo, there came the Georgia Apple Festival, a vendor who did woodwork, and...
"...a new cabinet for the dining room.
I've been wanting to get something new to replace the old microwave cart for a while. The gentleman who made our table and chair set and the medicine cabinet that we bought at the Yellow Daisy Festival also sold a lovely little china cabinet, half the size of the one we have, that would have been perfect. But he hasn't shown up at the show since 2002. I've looked online since then, trying to find something comparable. The closest idea I had was to buy a Leksvik buffet from Ikea and then mount shelves on the wall—in fact, James and I were talking about this last week at the Container Store—but I didn't want to mar the walls.
This isn't my ideal cabinet. It's plain boards dry brushed with white so it looks "distressed." [I believe the effect is called "pickled."] I'm not fond of the look. But it is nice and sturdy, and has three shelves on top and an enclosed cupboard on the bottom. With some autumnal trim it ought to look fine. Our decorating is nothing but eclectic anyway. :-)"What with going away on vacation, the cabinet has been in the garage since October 14. After we got done today buying a paper and going to Lowes and CVS, it was time to remedy the situation.
James is taking over the old microwave cart that was in the spare bedroom holding the television and DVD player. It's headed down to his hobby room to hold a paint rack. I emptied it, cleaned it, vacuumed out the space, and he dispatched it.
I then emptied out the larger microwave cart in the dining room. It holds my bird reference books, Mom's stand mixer since there's no room for it in the kitchen, seasonal decorations, a candle lamp, a container of dip mixes and another of cocoa, our collection of drinking mugs, our plate holders for parties, the seasonal paper napkins, and the stoneware dish collection my mom put together for me when I was a teenager, so this took a while (this included the vacuuming afterwards). I polished it up, then set it up in the spare room as a television holder. There's now room to put the antenna on top, and I "put up" my first Christmas decorations: the Hallmark "Mrs. Claus' cabinet" and the cute little tree I bought in Hobby Lobby last night, a bottle brush tree with glittered tips, a few red beads glued on, a tarnished star at top, all sitting on top of a wooden spool with green yarn around it. (They were too cute to put away.)
(Click on picture to enlarge.)
Next James had to bring the two halves of the new cabinet upstairs. I polished and cleaned the bottom cabinet and we put it into place. It's actually no wider than the old unit. Now came the hard part. Not putting the top on the bottom, attaching cup hooks to it! I wanted cup hooks on the underside of the top shelf to hang up our mugs. Even after tapping out a pilot hole with a nail and tapping the cup hooks in minimally with a hammer, at least one of the hooks resisted going in the hole. James even got down and tried it. He finally got the hole large enough that I could turn the hook and finally get it in. We got nine cup hooks in which will hold all our mugs, including the two new ones James got in Virginia.
Finally that was finished and I was able to polish up the top part and James used the drill to fasten the two parts together.
Lastly I "restocked" it. The cow artwork on the top doesn't quite work, but I don't have anywhere else to put it.
I bought the two wooden red apples at the Apple Festival as well. Since the cabinet looks so much like a display case that might be in a country or vintage store, I applied some decals I had to either side, as well as the three apples that are on the door. They say "apples for sale," "apple country," etc.
Still don't like the pickling. But it does look, to quote Addie Mills, "nifty."
(Click on picture to enlarge.)
17 February 2011
Two More Craft Projects
Here are two more corner shelves in the spare bedroom, on the opposite side of the three original ones. The lower shelf holds the five little songbirds I got for Christmas (they each make the appropriate sound for that bird), and Kevin the fox is sitting on the top one.
This is the little shelf I painted to go in the hall bathroom to hold the clock. It's a lot pinker than I wanted it, but it matches the stripes in the towels.
04 July 2010
The Shelf Project
We had three of those "As Seen on TV" corner shelves in the spare bedroom to hold some stuffed animals. These are cool shelves and work very well IF the corner of the room is exactly 90 degrees. Unfortunately the corner in this room was more like 92-93 degrees, and the popout supports on either side kept coming out of the wall and the shelves would fall down. Good thing all that was on them was stuffed!
Here are some:
(These have a round outside edge; we have the original ones where the outside edge was flat, making the shelf triangular.)
I saw the shelves below in the unpainted wood section of JoAnn during their last "Firefly Frenzy" and got all three with coupons, so they were about $5 each. I loved the metal support underneath! The top and edge are painted with Plaid's Apple Barrel Gloss "Real Brown." After the "Real Brown" was dry, I polished it up with some Pledge.
The underside is done with Folk Art's matte "mushroom." Here they are on the wall, 14" inches apart.
They are hung each with one 6d nail with a broad head set directly in the corner.
I have put the "As Seen on TV" shelves down in the laundry room, where the corner is exactly 90 degrees, and they are holding extra sponges, stain lifter bottles, my brads, etc.
08 October 2009
New Lamps for Old
Well, there's the last of the "big changes" I had on the Master To-Do List.
The installers turned out to be a married couple; she put the pendant lamp together while he was the one that got up on the ladder and did the actual installation. While she was on the stairs putting the light together, she saw James' "rocket garden" and they talked about having taken their grandchildren to the Kennedy Spaceflight Center and having seen the Rocket Garden and taken the tour. "Endeavour" was on the pad when they went, but they did not see the actual launch. She even cleaned up the floor afterwards, although I planned to re-sweep it and wash it before putting everything back.
Yeah, yeah, I'll cut to the chase.
UGLY AND DUSTY OLD LAMP IS GONE! "Ding-dong, the light is dead! Which old light? The ugly light!"
REPLACED BY BEAUTIFUL NEW LIGHT (the light is on here, and this was taken with the flash):
The flash version without the light being lit shows the colors off a little better, although the professional shot in the previous post probably does the best job.
Now that it's there, it looks like it's always been there, like it belonged there all along.
If you look above the purple petals, and below the purple petals, you can see the light amber and light orange, respectively, tints that I added to the glass. It's very subtle, which is what I wanted.
04 October 2009
There's Always One More Trip
After we got home from grocery shopping this morning, James decided to install the programmable thermostat we bought yesterday (a Hunter, just in case you were curious). According to the directions, it was simple: take the old one off, label the wires, take the mount for the old one off and install the new one, match the wall wires to the wires on the new unit and fasten them, then put the new one on the wall.
And the screw holes on each mount actually matched, so no messy drilling had to be done.
Except for one thing: our present thermostat is powered by the house current, with battery as backup. But nowhere on the box of the programmable unit we purchased did it mention that the entire unit is powered by the battery. Neither of us want to play that way. We like the concept of double and triple redundancy. So it was back out to Lowes. Turned out that Hunter did not haveor perhaps Lowes doesn't carrya type of thermostat that was electrically powered with a battery backup. We ended up with a Honeywell.
And after that, it was simple. By the time I got done folding the towels and my own clothes, James had it up. It took me longer to program it because it's a 7-day timer and you have to do one day at the time (well, okay, I found out later you can actually do multiple days at one time; that's what I get for reading the manual after I program the timer!). I'm so short I had to stand on a stool to look the thing "in the eye" to program it. I felt like Phronsie Pepper helping Polly with the dishes in the Little Brown House!
27 September 2009
A New Fixture in Our Future
I am finally ridding us of that nasty pendant light fixture in the foyer.
We didn't plan for the awkward thing. When they asked us to choose between the black-mounted fixtures and the silver-mounted fixtures, we thought the only difference was the color. The old house was so dark we wanted something brighter, so we chose the silver.
The black pendant fixture we thought we were getting in silver was a relatively tidy piece. It consisted of an upturned frosted glass "cup" supported and surrounded by curving black metal supports. I didn't know how on earth you changed the light bulb when it burnt out, since it was about 14 feet up in the air, but that was the only problem with it.
What we got was a silver monstrosity which I could take a photo of and post here, but I won't gag you with it. It consists of a tapered glass "box" with edges of antiqued silvered metal, smaller at the bottom that at the top. Three decreasing-size scrolls of metal piping are at each corner at the top. In the center is hung two sets of four "candles" which hold candle-shaped light bulbs. Not only is it impossible to reach to change bulbs if they burn out, but the bottom opening is so narrow that you can't dust inside it. I know, because I tried with a lambswool duster on an extension pole; it got stuck inside and I was afraid it would be hanging there in perpetuity until I managed to dislodge it.
So it sits there getting dustier by the day and looking ugly while doing it.
We had a $10 off a $50 or more purchase for Lowes that expired today, so we went there to buy some paving blocks for the dip in the side yard where the water collects when it rains and it gets muddy. (We only bought a dozen and see, after putting them out in the muddiest spot this afternoon, that we need a lot more. <g> Later...when it's cooleralthough there was a delightful breeze this afternoon despite it going up to 78°F.) After buying those and more wild bird seed, we still didn't have $50 worth of stuff. I figured it was now or never. I looked at the fixtures one more time, then picked out this:
It goes with the Tiffany-style pendant in the dining room and, although it's a little more spring-colored than I wanted, it was more autumn-colored than the other Tiffany pendant they had there. And note that the fixtures point downward: I can use the bulb-changing head that goes with the extension pole to change bulbs when they burn out. (Don't think that will happen often, as we will be putting CFLs in the fixture.)
So next thing is to await the installer to come out to put it up. (Even if we had a ladder that long, damned if I'm sending James up there to do that! Let a professional do it.)
12 July 2009
New Restaurant Seating for the Birdies
After watching that slug of a squirrel sunbathing on our deck rails after prying out suet from the suet feeder, I got disgusted. Spent much too much yesterday on a new pole support for the bird feeder, and also bought a new, small squirrel-proof feeder.
James installed the new pole and hooks today, and we also put the old assembly back up, making it more stable. It's possible the latter may tip, however, if the squirrel tries to climb it, while the new assembly is quite sturdy.
Here the new pole is on the left, the old one on the right. The old one used to be mounted where the new one is now. The two suets have hot pepper in them, as birds are not affected by pepper. They have no taste buds for it.
A close-up of the squirrel-proof feeder. It is all metal on the outside and if anything heavier than a cardinal steps on the perch or if something pulls on the perch from below, the gap closes up.
When I have a little more money I will buy another feeder. Toying with buying a thistle feeder to see if we could lure some goldfinches here.
04 July 2009
Happy Independence Day from Autumn Hollow!
Haven't posted here for a while, but haven't done any more major improvements on the house (still want to get that light in the foyer changed, though).
Here on the table, on either side of the "pick-a-nick basket," as Yogi Bear used to say, are two of the prims I bought last weekend in The Maple's Tree in Gatlinburg, TN. (The "tablecloth" in the basket is a napkin folded up to look like a tablecloth tucked in for the picnic.)
The little "Anne of Green Gables" type Liberty Angel with the Pilgrim salt-and-pepper pots from Publix, and the fall blessing:
The foyer table:
And the complete foyer:
Porch, from left-
Now that it's actually the 4th, the patriotic banner has been traded out for the flag.
Porch detail: sheep and birdhouse:
Porch detail: Uncle Sam and "bell tree":
These two have nothing to do with the Fourth, but I wanted to show off these cuties. This "fall display" is actually four parts, as the two pumpkins and the leaf scarecrow at right (with the orange leaf predominant) as three separate parts:
And I bought "Kiss the Cook" for James and set it in front of our cow chef:
I bought two other of these little block items, one that says "I [heart] Dogs" with a little flop-eared mutt sitting on the DOGS blocks, and an I [heart] Cows" with a cow in a similar position.
10 April 2008
Told you they were dull. :-)
07 April 2008
Please Fence Me In
Well, it's done. (Actually, it was done before 3:30, but I've just had the time to post about it now.) I don't think photos are necessary, since it's just your garden variety "dog ear" top six-foot privacy fence. If I take photos it will probably be after we have it stained. Besides, you don't want to see outside right now. The yellow pine pollen covers everything with a thin, gritty coating. It's disgusting. The leaves on the bushes out front are coated and I can't even rinse them off. If you look out the window, everything is suffused with an icky yellow-green glow and when you come in you have to wipe off your shoes because they have yellow dust stuck to them.
(The one mistake I did make was keeping the side and front windows open while they worked. They raised a lot of pine dust out there and now the sills and on things close to the window everything is coated with yellow dust. Ugh.)
The crew came, worked to music which didn't bother me much since I had the windows in the rear closed, cleaned up, and left (they didn't even ask for the check; I assume either the supervisor will come back for it or they will send me a bill for the balance). They did put in the second gate, and when I went out there to inspect I was astonished to find it perfectly counterweighted so it doesn't swing all the way open on the slope. You can open it to any angle and it stays there. Wow.
Anyway, once I had inspected I snapped on Willow's leash and took her out back. When she encountered the fence she tried to go around it and I had to tug her out of the neighbors' yard. I let her off the leash once inside the fence and she did her business and sniffed around, and came both times when I called. I had to watch her since the back fence is high enough off the ground so that she can get underneath it. We are going to buy wire edging and put it along the fenceline to solve that problem, but for now she behaved quite well.
They cleaned up nicely and the only problem I did see was that there are already two ant beds out there. !@#$#$!@$#$$%!! bugs!
Please Fence Me In--The Installation Edition
We had a bobble on Friday, when they were supposed to come. As I explained elsewhere, they need electricity and water to install the fence (water for the concrete and electricity of course for the saws). At the morning job they had Friday, the electricity failed and they had to use a generator to finish the job. The supervisor told me they would definitely come today, and they have; working as I "speak," so to say.
He said I didn't need to be here, but it was a good thing I was, since there was some question on where to put the gate so that Willow would not get under it. (If they put it in the middle, there would have been a big gap underneath.) Once they finish, we will need to go get some wire edging (which we looked at at Lowe's yesterday) to set out the length of the back fence that separates the property from the trailer park, since it is some inches off the ground and Willow could easily get under it.
Willow has at least quit barking, although she lets out an occasional "woof" when the sound gets loud enough. I had to shut the side window where they were installing the corner fencepost since the sound of them driving it into the ground was making Schuyler nervous.
03 April 2008
Please Fence Me In--Interval
Well, now we know it's going to happen: the grass is covered with red marks showing where the utilities are buried.
02 April 2008
Please Fence Me In--Part 2
The deposit is down on the fence. They're tentatively supposed to come next Saturday.