Monday, November 30, 2015

Just in Case You Ever Need to Know ...

We actually invited a monster into our home a couple of days ago. But not to worry... he was friendly. We just had to feed him a lot of $$ and all was well. 

When we had a company service our furnace recently, we learned that during the construction of our house (nearly 3 years ago) all manner of dry wall scraps, nails, screws, tape, scraps of lumber and trim, etc had been allowed to fall into our floor vents. Apparently this is considered normal and the new homeowner is supposed to have the vents and heating ducts cleaned out shortly after occupying the house.

We have been married nearly 45 years and over that time we have bought 9 houses (sold 8) and of those 9 houses, 6 of them were new construction; but this is the first time we had heard of all the junk that gets dropped into the ducts during construction.

Taking the advice of our furnace man, who had nothing to gain by this, we called Monster Vac and made an appointment.  Now we have clean ducts and vents and should not have to do this again for 5 or so years (probably longer since we no longer have pets and keep a clean house).  My sister tells me there is a fiberglass material we could buy to put over the vent openings, just under the metal vent plate. I plan to look into that. (ya live an' learn!)

Here are some of the snapshots I took while the Monster was in our home:

We live on a corner. They pulled their very large truck around to the side street to make it easier to extend a big hose from the truck, over our fence, and into a basement window. (You can see the snow we got this week with multiple storms)

The big black hose stretched over the fence and into a basement window.

This is that same window, and yes, it was very cold having it open for about 3 hours while this process took place. The outside temperature was trying to get out of the teens and to the 20s.

Beloved hugs the hose to demonstrate yet again how big it is. This is the vehicle that removes the debris from the heating ducts of the house. I just wish we could have see all of that debris but it goes into the truck and we never got to see it.

Something else that's scary -- these are the pieces of metal that had to be cut out of the duct work so the big black hose, and other tools, could be attached to do the work of suctioning out the debris. When the job was all done, the serviceman patched up the holes thoroughly and attached an official sticker to the patches with the name of the company and the date.  It was all done very well.

This picture was taken in my study. They removed the vent cover and inserted a bristle brush-type thing way down into the hole. Then they used a powerful electric hand tool to rotate the brush, essentially scrubbing the walls of the duct work. They did that for all 16 vents on the main floor of the house. It was not necessary to do that for the ceiling vents in the basement since debris cannot fall into them.

The adventure left us feeling somewhat like the sensation after a routine dental cleaning: all fresh and new. 

This hasn't been a "glam" subject and it certainly isn't whimsical, but if you have ever wondered how this procedure works, now you have a better idea!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Changing Out the Cast Members

the Pilgrim people leave; the Christmas people arrive

With Thanksgiving 2015 behind us now, the Pilgrim people began lining up for the trek back down to the basement.

The Christmas people arrive while the Pilgrim people leave
At the same time, the Christmas pageant people began arriving. It all made for quite a traffic jam for a while there. I advised Beloved to avoid the entry hall and the stairs to the basement for the time it took everybody to commute to their destinations.

safely packed away
Those who have been reading my blog for the last five years may remember that a couple of times the Pilgrim people did not find their way to the right packing box and as a result showed up too late for Thanksgiving the following year. 

packing and labeling the storage containers
But the last couple of years we have got our act together and everybody has met their scheduled deadlines. With this many characters in my life, there probably is no such thing as too much attention to detail and organization.

the Nativity pageant people and the extras

By prior agreement, the Nativity pageant people and all extras met in the dining room where they visited and got caught up on their personal stories since retreating to their packing boxes last January.

the Nativity pageant animals in a coral

Christmas decor was unpacked as the pumpkins were removed.

Log Cabin Star wallhanging

"Minnesota Hot Dish" quilted runner, red poinsettia garland, Mary and Baby Jesus cross stitch by BBaker
dining room Nativity scene

a quilt from Walmart (several years ago) adorns the entry hall pew

Some of the Christmas extras joined Grandad Bear atop the Pie Safe in the entry hall

the pantry door always gets a wreath

a sparkly red poinsettia garland embellishes the breakfast room chandelier
the Nativity cast members were assigned a highly visible position on the fireplace mantel

the red Christmas card basket sits on the coffee table

We have some new Christmas season cast members
who did not make the relocation to Texas this past summer

Another newcomer who has found a place in our home to enjoy the Christmas season

Christmas wreath on our front porch

This was as far as we got with Christmas decorating for today. Tomorrow we will be opening our home to Monster Vac to clean our vents and air ducts, so the trees won't go up until after that is done.

But the change has begun from the season of Thanksgiving to the time of Advent. What a joyful time of year this is intended to be when our focus is on our Heavenly Father and His son, Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Photo Credit: Google Images,  "Thanksgiving"

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie

I'm sharing this with you from one of my blogging friends, Terri at Your Friend from Florida

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Hodgepodge for the Season

Auditioning table decor for Thanksgiving.
I did not use this one but chose something with more orange--
and then forgot to take a picture!!

Today I'm answering the writing prompts provided by Joyce and then on Wednesday I'll link up with other bloggers who have replied to the same questions.

1. What's something you wish you knew how to do, but feel like it's too late to learn?

Play the piano. I wish I could play and I wish I could play extremely well.

2. Your least favorite thing to shop for? Why?

Large appliances for the home (like refrigerators, ovens, washer, drier, etc.) are my least favorite thing for shopping because I have very little patience with sales people who work on commission.

3. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were growing up?

Hands down -- the merchants of non-essential businesses who open their stores on Thanksgiving to get more sales. (Don't get me started on that one!) 

4. What's something that when other people see it, reminds them of  you? Explain.

People tend to think of me when they see quilts because I am a quilter.

5. If you could guest star on a TV show, what would it be and why?

I would like to go back in time to sing harmony with the Lennon Sisters on The Lawrence Welk Show. They sounded great (I learned a lot about singing alto from my years of watching them), plus they always dressed so pretty and everybody loved them.

6. Have you ever farmed or spent any time on a farm? I have never farmed, but I have visited family who had farms. Are there farm stands in your little corner of the world and do you make it a point to shop there? In the summer months there are farmers' markets around here. I don't stop real often. If so, what item do you particularly like to buy from a roadside stand or farm shop? I like a good home-grown tomato.

This is how Surfer Girl stores her fresh produce.
No need to refrigerate it because her family
goes through it very fast with their
very healthy way of eating.

7. What's something you've experienced recently that made you feel a sense of awe or wonder?

Yesterday I could see the bright stars in the inky black sky while I was opening our window shutters before breakfast. I like to think of stars as holes in a dark canvas sky with heaven shining through.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

This is a Norway Maple tree in the yard of my sister and brother-in-law. The photography is by my sister. The pictures were not all taken from the same spot, but it is the same tree. Isn't it awesomely beautiful?!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my blog readers!
Thanks for stopping by and 
thank you for the cheerful comments.

To read the answers by other bloggers for the Hodgepodge on Wednesday, 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Guests Begin to Arrive

Thanksgiving week is here and our guests began arriving this past weekend. They all came up from the basement and stood in the hallway, awaiting their room assignments.

The oldest set, made of felt, was sent to the Master bedroom to stand on either side of a framed picture of Beloved and me with our Cocker Spaniel, Pal (RIP). Beloved bought this set for me about 30 years ago when he was on a business trip to New Jersey.

The newest set of Pilgrims were directed to stand atop a speaker in the great room. They were trying to decide if the box is a woofer or a tweeter when they nearly vibrated onto the floor with the sounds from a loud action movie. I will be giving them a new assignment!

The tall and slender pilgrims took their places on the fireplace mantel, flanking a photo of some of my very favorite people in all the world. 

The last pair of pilgrims was sent to stand on the dining room table.

Beloved refers to them as "the Blockheads" because their features are hard and expressionless. However, take it from me, they are overjoyed to have been set free from the box in the basement where they spend 11 months of the year.

Hanging from the chandelier above the Blockheads are four copper-colored Christmas balls that I use only in November -- as a preview of what's to come in December. 

We had one more guest show up yesterday, but he will be spending the holidays (and the rest of the winter!) out on the deck...

Like Beloved, our newest guest has a college degree in statistics. He will be recording our winter snowfall. We are told to expect 1-3 inches of snow on Thanksgiving Day, so we'll see if this fella can handle it.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Birthday to My Husband

Beloved in 1972 

"Beloved" as I refer to him on my blog
"Honey" in real life, "Dad" by our three children
"Grandad" by our eleven grandchildren

He was seventeen years old when we found each other in our church youth group. The first time he sat beside me on a pew before going to our separate Bible study classes, he played nervously with a rubber band while trying to make conversation with me. I was the new girl in youth group and he was new to dating. I liked him for being genuine and not full of himself. 

It was a few weeks before he gathered up enough courage to ask me to a movie while on the same day I invited him to join my family on a picnic in the mountains. As it turned out, we did both on the same day, for one very long date. But in looking back, it was fitting because our life ever since then has been one long romance.

Today that once shy seventeen-year old is celebrating the birthday that introduces him to Medicare and the countdown to retirement.  The years have been full of travel, adventure, achievement, and an ever-growing family beyond his wildest expectations. 

Beloved is one of those people who has almost always been sort of "grown up." The dynamics of his childhood were such that he could either have made some really awful life choices or he could see things for what they really were and figure out how to move past the negatives. He chose the latter. I can't help but think there must have been some family member, perhaps a couple of aunts, who prayed for him hard and often.

One of his favorite sayings is "Common sense isn't." Beloved was blessed with plenty of it and I have been hugely blessed for spending all of my adult life with him. 

We were both only twenty years old when we got married eighteen months before his college graduation, against the preferences of our parents. But he had already demonstrated to the folks that he had a lot going for him, and as if to prove it, he got even better grades after our wedding than before.

One of his parents died only six months into our marriage, and the other passed nine years later. Before he was thirty years old, he was without both of them. He executed their estates, made some smart choices about  what they had left behind, and many were blessed in the years to come as a result.

With this brief biography of my husband, I am reminded that the most handsome guy with the coolest car is absolutely no indication of how happy a gal can be married to him. That nerdy guy behind the black-rimmed glasses who carried a briefcase to classes turned out to be a real gem of a husband. 

Us in 1969 and 2015
Happy Birthday, Beloved!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Responding to Fear

Despite their fear of the peoples around them,
they built the altar on its foundation
and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, 
both the morning and evening sacrifices.
Ezra 3:3

Now when Daniel learned that the decree 
had been published,
he went home to his upstairs room 
where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. 
Three times a day 
he got down on his knees and prayed, 
just as he had done before.
Daniel 6:10

Going a little farther, 
he fell with his face to the ground and prayed,
"My Father, if it is possible, 
may this cup be taken from me.
Yet not as I will, but as you will."
Matthew 26:39

What are we to do in the face of current events? Are we praying? Are we seeking the Lord with sincerity and humility of heart? Are we asking for His intervention? It's not too late to ask.

Seek ye the Lord while He may be found. 
Call upon Him while He is near. 
Isaiah 55:6

Nearly every night this week I have woke up around 4 a.m. My first thought is to pray.  I know I am not alone in this. Some of my readers consider these "wake up calls" as a wonderful, undisturbed opportunity to pray and listen to the Lord.

We have fine examples from the Bible of people who prayed and bravely carried on in obedience in the face of threats to their well-being.  

No matter what happens, I want to be found faithful. I know you do, too.
All photos today are from the Internet

How to Hang the Welcome

handmade wreath created with a green wire frame and
burlap ribbon attached with florist wire.
My former next-door-neighbor taught me to do this last year

Around here the wind really blows at times. So much so that we've had a hard time keeping a wreath hung on our front porch. It's been a real problem that is no small thing to one like me who likes to put homemade decorative country touches both inside and outside of the house. I have lost count of how many times our wreaths have gone a-blowin' in the wind during storms.

Now that we've been here for about 2  1/2 years, I've finally come up with a solution.  Forgive me, but I think it's pretty clever. I won't keep my inspiration to myself.  Here is what we did.

find these screw eyes at Lowes or your local home improvement store

Using a simple nail to hold the wreath in place had proven to be most unsatisfactory, and a cup hook doesn't always work either, when the wind is so very blustery.

I decided we needed to replace the nail with one of these screw eyes (a screw with an eye instead of a head). There are so many sizes and varieties of these that it made my head spin, but this is what I brought home from Lowes.

note: you can buy an eye screw that is a clip that opens, but I think it would hard to use -- you decide.

bummer - the picture is upside down!
We also used a carabiner (look it up on Wikipedia if you're not into hiking or mountain-climbing). They come in lots of sizes and are probably most famous for use with hanging equipment off yourself when in outdoor sports. My only outdoor sport is walking the neighborhood, so this is something I normally would know nothing about. Beloved is acquainted with them, however, and bought some for me from Walmart. (look in sporting goods) The hole of the eye screw needs to be big enough to thread the carabiner through.

attach the carabiner to the back of the wreath
Here I am attaching the carabiner to the back of the wreath.

Beloved installed the eye screw into the siding on the porch 
The next step is not pictured because it was impossible to do so. But what we did was to open the carabiner and slip it through the eye of the screw on the wall, close the carabiner, and Voila', it was done!

wreath hanging with an eye screw and a carabiner

I feel confident this will hold during a windstorm and surely hope it does because if it comes off, some slats of siding may go with it!

using a carabiner to hold storage cabinet closed
We have one more handy use for the carabiner.... Again, during the wildest of our storms, the lid to our storage bin on the deck can fly open. While we have nothing in there valuable enough to warrant a lock, we do use a carabiner to ensure the lid doesn't open when we don't want it to.

Post Script: I have posted the directions for making this wreath a couple of times. If you missed it, click on this link for instructions. Thanks so much to Sheila of Missouri for teaching me how to make  this wreath.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Completely True Story

a snowy sunrise on November 17, 2015

We are sitting here with sixteen inches of snow piled high all around us. I am reminded of what we were doing nine years ago today -- it wasn't shoveling snow!

We were in a tropical place watching Surfer Girl and Surfer Boy get married. Beloved walked our daughter down the aisle in an outdoor garden where family and friends gathered to show their loving support. 

Everyone came appropriately dressed in their wedding clothes on that balmy afternoon, having left their usual costumes at home. You see, this wedding had royalty in attendance, along with a mermaid, some swash-buckling men, and even rodents. The Hunchback of Notre Dame sat humbly on the back row but Roger Rabbit and the Chipmunks preferred closer seating. Snow White and Cinderella were looking their very best while Sleeping Beauty tried to not doze during the ceremony. As you can tell from my descriptions of the guest list, this was no ordinary wedding. I need to give you some background.

You see, our daughter grew up in suburbia like an ordinary kid but at about the age of twelve, she set her goal for something quite special. She took ballet, jazz and tap classes all through her middle and high school years (when she wasn't cheerleading), and then danced her way through two years at the university before announcing to us the time had come for a serious change of venue.

Her heart's desire was to live in the Castle located far, far away from us so she could dance to pay the rent and wave from a float in electrical parades at all the guests who came to visit. It became abundantly clear to us that her heart would be irreparably broken  if we did not enable her to fulfill this dream, so we packed her up and sent her to that magical place. 

It was while performing and teaching others to do the same that she was swept off her feet by Prince Charming. They courted on surf boards during their off hours from the Castle -- which explains why on my blog I  refer to them as "Surfer Girl and "Surfer Boy."

Now, these nine years later, the marriage continues to be magical with two very cute children, a smart little Yorkiepoo, and lots of travel to some pretty exotic places. They seldom visit the Castle these days because their lives are full without it, but the interesting assortment of friends will always be dear to them. 

I conclude this true story by wishing my daughter and son-in-law a most happy anniversary and may you have many, many, many more!

Surfer Boy dances with Surfer Girl on their wedding day