Feb 28, 2011

A long weekend and interesting openings

DH took Friday and today off and spent it working on our latest remodeling project.  He finished rewiring the kitchen and utility room.  He also cleaned out the attic and did some reframing.  Today he will be working on getting the HVAC inside furnace/coil unit installed in the utility room.

As soon as we can get him scheduled, the electrician will come out and install a new breaker box.  Our old breaker box is too small and it has a dubious reputation.  When we had the electrician out quite awhile ago to give us an estimate on the work, he took one look at the breaker box and said, "Oh!  One of those old things.  We electricians call those 'Never Trip' breaker boxes."  Yikes.  So now that DH has replaced all the wiring in the house, we'll replace the breaker box.

Emma is enthralled with all the goings on in the utility room.  DH had carefully stacked stuff in front of the ZipWall plastic so she wouldn't poke another hole in it.  Thursday night (she sleeps in the utility room), we heard her banging around in there after we went to bed.  DH found her in the construction area; she had pawed aside DH's barrier and poked another hole in the plastic to gain entrance.  The plastic now has a cardboard barrier that is Emma-proof.  Silly dog.

She is very interested in all the open places in the utility room.  There is a hole in the floor where the tub plumbing was that is apparently extremely enticing.

And she begged DH to lift her up so she could investigate the opening to the attic (which will be closed off with sheetrock once DH gets the HVAC installed).  To Emma, one of the functions of her humans is to lift her up to investigate things above her head.  We often oblige.

I got stash in the mail last week.  If you haven't seen them, go check out Bent Creek's Photobooth patterns; there are several out.  My favorite is the one with the two snowmen, so I indulged myself.  It will make a nice pattern to stitch at the stitching retreat I'm going to in March.

I haven't stitched a lot this weekend as I've been reading, but I am making some progress on "Homespun Hollow."  I'll post a picture later this week.


Feb 24, 2011

A great use for a shoe

This past weekend, DH and I were staying at my parents' house.  On Friday evening, DH - having had his shower - was lounging in bed reading in the guest room while I was taking a shower in the adjacent bathroom in the hallway.

I was done with my shower and brushing out my wet hair when I saw in the mirror crawling down the wall behind me a roach the size of a battleship semi-truck bathtub small dog loaf of bread, well, it was darn big.  I let out a yell, grabbed my towel off the rack, donned it, and ran out of the bathroom hollering for the first roach-killing man I could find.  As I had run into the family room instead of the bedroom, the man was my dad.  Dad is used to females with bug phobias as my mom hates them, too, and he raised me.  

I spluttered and gestured and described the size of the roach while keeping the towel about my naked self and not embarrassing myself or my dad.  Dad listened and said those famous words, "Let me go get a shoe."  He retrieved a shoe, then went into the bathroom and hunted down the offending insect and whacked it flat and dead, then gave it a burial at sea (he flushed it).  My hero!

During the search, DH came out of the bedroom and watched my dad seek out and kill the roach.  He said, "I heard her 'bug yell' but since you're here with the shoe, I'll let you do the honors.  It's nice to have time off from bug killing duty."  (DH married me for better, for worse, and for killing all bugs.)

Lest you think my parents live in a roach-infested house, they don't.  This was one of those huge outdoor brown roaches that sometimes sneak inside the house to quickly die by shoe.  Luckily they don't come in too often.  

And no, there's no picture.  You wouldn't really want to look at a picture of a roach would you?  Especially of a whacked dead roach?  Which would be the only way I'd get near enough to one to take its picture!  Yeah, that's what I thought.


Feb 22, 2011

Going dotty

My grandma passed away last week so DH and I attended the homegoing service this past weekend.  I was not at all sad at her passing as she had been suffering from dementia for many years.  Her health had declined a lot in the last year and her memory was so bad that she could no longer remember her kids most of the time.  But she knew Jesus as her Lord and Savior and is now in heaven with Him.  I am glad for her homegoing as her memory was so bad that she's really been away from us all for many years except in body.

Funerals are usually family reunions, and this one was no exception.  My grandpa (my grandma's husband who passed away over ten years ago) was the oldest boy of sixteen children, fourteen of whom made it to adulthood.  All of these children are gone except for the youngest, my Great Uncle Johnny who is 87 years old.  We picked him up and gave him a ride to the funeral.

Uncle Johnny has always loved my grandma.  When he was a boy of eighteen finishing up his last year of high school, my grandparents took him in (my grandpa was 20 years older than his little brother Johnny!).  My mom was a baby at the time.  Uncle Johnny remembers my grandma as a very kind and loving lady (which she was!).

Uncle Johnny married late and he and his wife had their first child a couple of months after my mom had me.  My mom always thought it was weird that she had a baby at the same time as one of her uncles.  

A lot of the children of these fourteen kids were at the funeral.  And yeah, they're all adults now and most of them are way older than me.  Most of them.  My cousin Jeff was there.  Even though one of his parents was of the "original fourteen" (I can never remember which one), he was born when his mom was in her late-forties and he is a few years younger than me.  

I had fun catching up with him.  He retired from "show biz" several years ago and is enjoying a new job that can best be described as helping investors with mergers and acquisitions.  He was an actor for a children's educational program for many years and loved it.  He retired shortly after the show was bought out by an "evil" company.  

And I got to see my nephews.  We had lunch together at a restaurant and while we were waiting for our food, my oldest nephew and I played tic-tac-toe.  It was not fun because neither one of us won; the games kept ending in a tie.  (My nephew said this was because we were both "too smart.")  So I taught my nephew how to play "Dots."  I have to confess that I used to play it with my lab partner in high school anatomy all the time on the sly because we thought our teacher was boring.

Anyway, if you've never played "Dots," you play it on paper by filling a page with dots in a grid and then you take turns drawing one line between two dots.  If you draw a line to finish a box, then the box is yours and you get to draw another line.  The winner is the one with the most boxes.  My nephew caught on quickly and thought this was great fun.  

And my youngest nephew and I played a rousing game of "This Little Piggy" with his toes on the way home in the car.  And once we got home to my parents' house, Emma scared him into raucous screams with her enthusiastic greeting.  But she calmed down and so did he.  ;-)

I finished "Betty Broomstick" last week and here she is!  She is stitched on my 28 count hand-dyed Lime Green linen by Zweigart with my DMC and with specialty fibers and embellishments included in the kit.

And I started on a new project - "Homespun Hollow" by Linda Myers.  I've always liked this design and the colors in it.  So far it is a fun stitch.


Feb 17, 2011

ZipWall: dust proof but not dog proof

In my ongoing quest to keep home remodeling project dust/debris contained, I ran across an ad for the ZipWall System in one of our DIY magazines.  After investigating it, I promptly ordered a four-pole system from Amazon as I figured the cost would outweigh the marriage stress.  ;-)

DH used it to block off the "former bathroom" end of the utility room while he continues doing demolition.  I must say it has worked satisfactorily in containing dust.  (And yep, that's a long zipper in the middle of the sheet plastic so DH can go in and out.)

However, it doesn't seem to work very well at keep out dogs.  See the Emma-sized hole in the bottom of the sheet plastic?  Yep.  She poked a hole in it so's she could get in the construction area to investigate.  Silly dog.

"Betty Broomstick" nearly has a hat and I should be stitching her smile and hair on today, too.  

The weather is 70s warm but cloudy.   I'm happy wearing shorts, but grumpy because of the clouds and no sun.  Oh well.


Feb 15, 2011

The Betty WIP

"Betty Broomstick" is coming along.  I've got all the bling/backstitching done on the lower half of the pattern (aren't her sparkly fuchsia shoes cute?), and I just have her hat to stitch before doing all the bling/backstitching on the top half of the pattern, including her frizzy hair.  She's been a fun stitch.  And don't you just love her grinning cat?

I plan to finish her as a flat fold instead of a stand up like the instructions say.  Flat folds take up less storage room.

DH spent the weekend working on the utility room (at least he did when he wasn't on the phone with AT&T!).  Actually, he was up in the attic clearing out the old, varmint mangled fiberglass insulation.  He was also inspecting the roof trusses which are in very good shape.

We had planned on tearing off the kitchen/utility room side of the house and starting from scratch because the floors in both are so saggy.  However, as DH has done demolition on the utility room, he has noted that the construction of the walls is very solid.  So we're going to have a foundation/floor guy look at the floor trusses to see if they can be reinforced or improved in some way.   I'd much rather remodel than start from scratch.  

We're having lovely weather here in Texas today.  I'm wearing shorts and the doors and windows of the house are open as it is 70 degrees outside.  I love it!


Feb 14, 2011

AT&T Customer Service - we're here to help!

I've been without internet service since last Wednesday (which is both a blessing and a curse!).

I use an air card to connect to the internet out here in the boonies.  DH and I have no telephone land-line; we only use cell service.  We have an AT&T cell tower less than 200 yards from our house that we were told was a 2G tower when we signed up with AT&T.

While the air card was initially faster than my dial-up service, it has slowed down significantly recently.  Because I hate to talk on the phone and my hearing loss makes understanding anyone with an accent difficult, DH has been trying to find out why service is slower by calling the helpful folks at AT&T.

It took three calls before he got to the right department (air card).  DH asked to speak to a tech that was well-versed in Mac computers as that is what I have at home.  (*Note that the air card was working just fine but slowly before all this started.)  The first thing the tech had DH do was uninstall the air card operating program.  He intended to have DH reinstall it to see if that helped connection speed.  (Also note that DH is a self-professed computer moron who is not at all familiar with my Mac computer and was not present when I initially got the air card up and running.)

Tech:  "Now sir, go to Applications and click on Global Connect."
DH:  "You just had me uninstall it and it's not there."
Tech:  "Okay, just insert your air card and the software should load automatically.  What OS version are you using?"
DH:  "Snow Leopard 10.6.2."
Tech:  "Oh.  I see [from my computer prompt] that the software for using this air card with a Mac is download only." 
Pregnant pause.
Tech:  "Do you have another computer available to download the software?"
DH:  "No.  We only have the one computer at home.  I will have to go to work tomorrow and download it to a flash drive from my work computer."

And it went downhill from there (DH is to be commended for not losing his temper, although he did bang his head on the keyboard a lot).  In a nutshell, five days, two program downloads (one of which was wrong), three more phone calls and five techs later, I am back on the internet.  One tech insisted that the air card was broken.  Another insisted that the problem was in our hard drive.  So much for "expert" care and service.  Sheesh.

And we found out our tower has been "powered down" while they upgrade it to 2G.  Evidently they lied about the "power of the tower" when we signed up.  Supposedly, this upgrade will be done by March 15th.  Supposedly, it will be upgraded to 3G within the year.  Supposedly.  I ain't holding my breath.

On a more happy note, here is a picture of the lovely tote bag LoriRay made for our friend to use to carry her quilt.  It has a couple of pockets on the inside for small items, too. 


Feb 8, 2011

A beautiful quilt

Here is the finished quilt!  Georgia did a great job turning our stitched pieces into a work of art!


Feb 7, 2011

Winter weekend

We had below freezing temperatures here last week.  Then to add insult to injury, we got some snow on Friday (it was mostly melted off by the afternoon).  DH got the day off as the boss closed the business for the day.  Texans don't know how to drive on ice/snow; the wise among us admit this freely.  The only people in Texas who can drive on it are transplanted Yankees, and even they have problems with ice.  

The pipes that we had freeze up finally thawed late Friday afternoon and neither were damaged - thank goodness! 

So with an unexpected day off, DH decided to start the next remodeling project on our agenda: gutting the old bathroom in our utility room in order to ready it for installing the HVAC.  He had to tear out the old bathtub and shower surround (both made of fake marble).  He also removed the sink.  Then he gutted everything down to the studs, at least on the bathroom end of the utility room.


(Notice the hairy supervisor/inspector in one of the above photos!)  The weird green wall in the above photo is further proof that the utility room used to be a porch.  This is the what the wall looks like after DH removed the tub and tub surround.  Those are actually the same shingles that are used to side the outside of the house, so we think at one point, it WAS the side of the house!  As we renovate, we are removing these exterior shingles and replacing them with Hardi-plank and paint.  DH will remove these inside shingles and, after doing some electrical upgrades, he'll install dry wall.

I was able to get a goodly amount of stitching done on "Betty Broomstick" and I'll post a picture on another day. 

We enjoyed the Super Bowl and the Packers victory.  We thought the "singing" of national anthem was a disgrace and the half-time show was "interesting."  And as always, the commercials were either fun or really dumb.  We liked the Darth Vader, Detroit, and beaver commercials the best.

Georgia spent the weekend finishing up our friend's quilt.  DH will bring it home with him tonight and I'll post a picture of it tomorrow!


Feb 3, 2011

Froze up

I know lots of folks in the Midwest and north are buried under ice and snow; my sympathies to you.  While we didn't get any white or icy stuff down here in south central Texas, we did get very cold weather.  It's been so cold that we've been battling frozen pipes at our house.

DH carefully left the faucets dripping the first night it got below freezing, but we still have some frozen pipes.  Washing dishes in cold water is no fun.  We are VERY thankful that we still have hot and cold running water for showers.  And we are VERY thankful for our wood stove.  It's been below freezing here for two days and nights.  DH is hoping that when it does thaw out, that we have no broken pipes.  We'll see.  Such is life.

And to think that last week it was up in the 70's here.  

I'm coming along on "Betty Broomstick" although I need to stitch her face as she is currently headless.