And the road goes on forever...

Monday, May 27, 2019

Currently...

I’m sick again! It seems to never fail that every time Marc flies home he ends up catching a virus which he then thoughtfully passes along to me so I can share in the misery. The only thing is that he ends up fending it off fairly quickly, while I suffer for weeks and weeks with it lingering a slow death. So, I’ve missed work and have been generally just feeling punky and out of sorts. 

Wisconsin is finally moving into summertime although a tad on the cloudy/rainy side. It’s back to mowing again but that’s not a chore I dislike as somehow it proves to be very cathartic. Kind of like a mindless, contemplative state which occasionally renders useful thoughts or ideas. Our second lot is an acre and the past two years I’ve let over half of it grow as meadow, which proves to be a good hunting patch for the cats. I’m considering expanding the meadow and just mowing the perimeter and around where we keep all the trailers parked which would further cut mowing chores. I recently scored some brass cranes off Craigslist which I’ve placed around the birch trees and I like the effect. The apple trees and lilacs are finally blooming and we planted a new Crabapple tree by the house. I also finally sprang for the purchase of a handmade wind spinner which I had lusted after for years and it’s like watching a mesmerizing ballet in motion.
The biggest change by far however is that spur of the moment I decided to empty and clean out my RV and get it out front for sale. That didn’t take long: within two hours the first guy who looked at it offered me cash, so it was a done deal. The next day we took care of the title DMV work and that evening he drove off with it. Given that he and his wife had been using a tent to camp in, they were absolutely thrilled with the thought of having their very first RV! It was sad to see it pulling out but I figured rather than sitting here depreciating with very little use, it was better off being gone. Marc always felt it was too small for the both of us anyway.
At some point there will likely be another RV in our future, but who’s to say? We still have the big one he is living in and have to decide its final disposal once he can retire. We’ve talked about placing it in a seasonal lakeside campground and using it like a cabin but that gets to be a big annual expense. On the other hand, that also requires keeping the Freightliner for towing it and I’d like to finally send that off to a new owner as well. It’s expensive to maintain, license and insure for no more use than it gets. 

I’ve got the annual Humane Society rummage coming up and although I opted out of running it this year due to my work schedule, I will still participate as much as I can. To that end, I spent lots of time making my glass flowers and a bunch of jewelry and if everything sells, that should net them in the neighborhood of $400 as my donation. I priced things below cost so they would move.
Marc is very happy to be entering the final few months of his project in Mesquite; this has been a particularly trying one given the quality of the manpower in that neck of the woods. And that's the polite way of phrasing it!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Why Aren’t I Blogging?

Inertia, or something more sinister, like wondering what is the point? My life has settled into a known routine of tedium that leaves me wondering just what is there to say that anyone else cares to listen to? 

I’ve given it lots of contemplation and arrived at the conclusion that I don’t want to feel the obligation of a certain schedule to the blog; hence, is there really any point at all in keeping it up? I do enjoy the format as a quick and easy way for friends and family to see pictures once in awhile, so have determined that I probably won’t give it up completely. In terms of a chronicle of our lives however, I suspect it will mostly fall to the wayside. Without constant new fodder, blogs grow stale and mundane, showing the same trivia and scenery as before and even more pathetically, talk ruefully about life as most must live it—in the same spot, making a living, with an occasional varied day thrown in to the mix. 

Most recently, Marc finally made it home in mid-March; it being his first visit since the Christmas holidays and will get to visit again mid-May; his 65th birthday. In celebration, upon finding that a friend has recently moved to the Rhinelander (up north) area, we’ve decided to head there for a few days of lakeside camping even if it’s still chilly. He was able to finish up the kitchen shelving so it’s nice to have those completed. 

Having enough of the awful mouthy bitch in the bakery, I made a move into the deli, but am finding she haunts me even there. I guess she won’t be content until I am gone completely, which may just happen if she doesn’t shut her constant carping at me. I just don’t want the constant aggravation of having to feel terrible upon going to work. Other than that, I do enjoy the deli—my shifts are longer but fewer, which should work well for my summertime household and yard duties. I am more than anxious for the opportunity to start enjoying gardening again and planning for a deck full of beautiful flowers. 

I had to give up most of volunteer activities with the shelter due to my work schedule so am hopeful working less will allow me to get back into helping more in that realm. I am again refinishing some furniture I’ve wanted to work on even while now fighting terrible, unrelenting arthritis in my left hand and wrist. For some reason, it has rapidly progressed from knuckle to knuckle this winter, like a demon intent upon gobbling everything in its path. The hand is virtually useless for all manner of things it used to easily do.
My mother celebrates her 92nd birthday today without us and it bothers me greatly that I can’t find a way for us to visit. With their old vehicles, my brother doesn’t deem it prudent to attempt to drive her half way to meet me and she won’t fly. For me, leaving here in summer would be very difficult as things need watering daily and the mowing often occurs at least once if not twice a week. Besides, leaving here in summer is not something I want to do: after sitting cooped up for six months of winter, I want to enjoy Wisconsin’s glorious summer. 

And, as always, Wisconsin remains fickle; yesterday reached our first sunny, 74 degrees since last September, yet by Thursday they are predicting we could be buried in up to 8 inches of new snow!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Old Man Winter is Kicking My Ass

Let’s just write February off, shall we? First, we were hit with those minus temps and howling winds and lately it’s just storm after passing storm of snow. I was so buried in it for awhile I couldn’t keep up. As soon as I’d dig the walkway out, the winds would fill it back in for me.
Finally, Marc found some old work pals who came over with a big old Chevy and equally large blade and plowed everything out so I could get my car out again. It may all be for naught however; as I write this, it’s snowing a projected 4-6 inches and won’t stop until tonight, not leaving me time to dig out before I head to work tomorrow. Then more is predicted over the weekend and the following Weds-Thurs.
Marc’s plans to return this month failed big time, so no telling when he will be able to show up again. With his back out, he wouldn’t likely be much help anyway…

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Winter Fantasies

Winters here can be hard to get through for people such as myself, who don’t enjoy being outdoors in low wind chill temperatures. As winters go however, this one hasn’t been all that bad in terms of amounts of snow we’ve had to fight; mainly, it’s just been day after day of low temps and low, leaden, endlessly grey skies. I’ve not been fighting depression, but I do think I’ve come up against a certain amount of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder). 

Thus, I can honestly say, my job has become my lifeline and even though the hours have dropped significantly now past the holidays, I cling to it as the preserver of sanity it has become. Other than my occasional aggravation of working with the one person, the job offers up only positives for both my mental and physical well-being. 

Some things I thought might get accomplished this winter are being put off. For instance, I have several pieces of furniture I want to refinish or paint but have decided the necessary stripping and prep are things better left outside in the sun room where I can have necessary ventilation and won’t worry about the mess. I can’t say I use my time constructively at this point, spending many hours working jigsaw puzzles (addicted), reading, or doing massive amounts of internet research. What am I researching? Well, there are all the possibilities of island and stove hood design and various materials to consider. I read house d├ęcor and design blogs and relish what others have done on Pinterest. I research areas of the greater Great Lakes as to areas or things I may eventually want to see or experience, and lately, once again, I am heavily researching boats. 

Having a boat has become a major priority for me—for Marc, not so much. He said he is not opposed to it; he just doesn’t feel the time is right. But if not soon, then when? With each passing month it seems we experience the infirmities of old age creeping yet farther into our bones. We are both becoming so riddled with arthritis, some days moving body parts is downright almost impossible. Does having a boat at our age make sense? Not in the least, but alas, it’s one of those bucket list items for me that I see running out with the sands in the hourglass. 

So, I spend countless hours contemplating styles and types of boats, what size, how we might primarily use one and where (with Wisconsin’s 10,000 lakes, 33,000 miles of rivers and two Great Lakes it won’t be a problem), looking at for sale ads, and then vacillate back and forth between what we may eventually purchase. Notice I use the word “may”—gotta keep a positive attitude about this happening! (The picture is actually the Georgian Bay area of Ontario, but definitely on my wish list since it is so close!)
I love the platform of a pontoon with an economical outboard, but I also lean towards a cabin cruiser gas hog that would allow us the opportunity of camping on it overnight (with room for the cats of course!). An old boat of course—not to break the limited budget. Something like this 26 foot 80's Sea Ray:
The possibilities for boat camping are endless—motoring past and docking at the historic towns along the Mississippi River; traversing and fishing for lake trout around the Door Peninsula in Lake Michigan; island hopping and camping the beautiful and wild Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. Even enjoying the smaller lakes like the ones we visited last September where we could just anchor out instead of hauling the RV to the campground.
Moving on, this is the way the kitchen shelving came out; now awaiting Marc’s next visit home to install the corbels he made. They will cover up the iron brackets to make a much neater and finished appearance. While he was in the basement working, he also decided he needed a routing table, so started working on building one. He gets so excited by the opportunity to putsy around in his workshop; I know it’s a huge hardship for him to be away from home for years at a time, but unfortunately, there is no end in sight even though he turns 65 soon.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Building a House, a Piece at a Time

Marc is back again, and things have been very busy for me. I helped at the shelter recently for the photo shoot of pets with Santa, stuffed envelopes for a 9000-piece mailout, and just finished a run of early shifts at the bakery involving the Christmas rush, which had me arising at 3 a.m. for a week. I can’t count how many Christmas cookies I frosted and decorated! On the 24th we must have had at least 50 special orders of breads and buns in addition to our normal packaging. It was exhausting, so I really enjoyed Christmas day as a day to recuperate! 

Now to the title of this post: one thing about building a house over the course of several years is the chance you get to really think about things and how you want them. It’s been bugging me that it has taken so long for our kitchen to be finalized. We’re living with temporary open shelving, a temporary island, and no stove vent hood. 

Tackling one thing at a time, I finally goaded sick Marc into at least starting the shelving this trip home. (Every single time he flies it seems, he ends up sick and this trip was no exception). The melamine that currently hangs is too thin, has warped from the weight, and it did nothing to address the brackets that are less than stellar and wide open to view. We went together to Menards and picked out birch butcher block which he is then cutting down into 12” wide boards. He oiled them with the stuff that we do our butcher block in, so the natural tone of the wood will match what I have going on with other woods. He will also need to come up with a fabrication of some type of corbel he can do to cover the metal brackets which support everything. Originally the plan had been to have floating shelves and the brackets would have been encased, but I since changed my mind, figuring that would look too modern.
Then, it was onto thinking about the island. We had gotten a quote a couple years ago of one we had drawn up to match our bottom cabinetry and the price was over $3500. So, we’ve been letting it slide, while I just use my $100 stainless work table with shelving for pot storage. One advantage I’ve really come to love is the fact this has large casters so can be moved. 

My brain got to whirring with the idea of maybe just replacing the stainless top with wood butcher block; something that would go with our main Boos block. When you purchase butcher block you can get either lineal wood grain or end grain. The end grains are small pieces glued together and make a much superior cutting surface but are also labor intensive to build so their cost is about four times as much, depending upon depth. I had our butcher block done ten inches in depth and it’s the closest thing to heaven I can think of to cut on.
I was happy to think of ordering a lineal grain top for the work table at a depth of just 1.5 inches, but Marc really liked the idea of something more matching our main block so suggested an end grain of three-inch depth; also made of hard rock maple. This would be a special order of Boos to the tune of approximately $1400. Not cheap by any means, but much better than the afore-mentioned $3500, which wouldn’t even include a top. We had pretty much decided this would be the way to go and he would try and get it ordered to match up with his next visit home in Feb. However, as he got searching the internet, he saw another interesting idea for a top to the work table. Plus, it’s something he himself could make since he likes tinkering with woodwork. 

Since Wisconsin has many trees, there are plenty of sources for obtaining many different slabs of wood, either hardwood or evergreen. Entire companies specialize in this as do small sawmill yard places on Craigslist, so finding material is an easy matter. It is amazing what creative minds have come up with using live, raw edge slabs, cut in half then turned inward to form a “river” which is then filled with epoxy, colored or clear. Marc is intrigued enough with the idea we are considering it for our island top—which I think would create such a spectacular, one of a kind focal point for the kitchen.
If we take it far enough, we may even be able to use a huge old oak which fell on our property a few years ago. It still struggles to live, having one artery root which still feeds its suckering arms. If we had one of these companies cut it into slabs, it may make some nice wood. Punkiness and rot within the trees can lead to nice cavities which can be filled with the epoxy, creating exciting patterns.

My ultimate love for a stove hood is real copper but spending upwards of $3000 for something like that isn’t in the cards either. I will be researching faux painting a wood one that Marc could build or maybe checking into a local fabrication shop that may be able to do something rustic with tin at a reasonable price. If I’m lucky, maybe be summer’s end, I’ll finally have a finished kitchen, yay!

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Holidays

The Green Bay Packers are the alter at which probably 80% of Wisconsinites worship, thus making Aaron Rogers their God. Have you ever known me to follow sports of any kind? No, I’m not turning into a fanatic, but given that on game days the bakery decorates everything from cupcakes to donuts with green and gold sprinkles I thought it only fitting that when it was my turn to decorate cookies and the Christmas gingerbread men, that some would just have to wear the green and gold #12.
The holidays are bringing forth all sorts of fun things to bake and package: traditional breads I had never heard of before (Rye turtles, anyone? Yes, they look like turtles and are labor intensive) to me having to unpack and prepare around 100 pumpkin and apple pies just before and around Thanksgiving. My shifts were much longer but have now calmed down in the lull before Christmas. 

Mother Nature has been fairly kind to us with many of the major storms passing to the south of us, hitting Chicago-land instead. We still have only a dusting of snow on the ground although temperatures are running about ten degrees below normal, so it definitely feels like winter! The kitties have found their ways to stay warm and aren’t so keen on stepping foot outdoors.
It’s still better than what those poor folks in California are dealing with. I am from the Chico area and have many relatives there, some of whom have still not been able to return home. I read with sadness about how the fire had destroyed Honey Run covered bridge, a structure that had stood for 132 years and was the last of its kind in the U.S. My father carved his initials in it when he was a boy and he is buried not far from there at a pioneer cemetery in Nimshew near Magalia. His marker was provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs, out of bronze, and I am left wondering at what temperature bronze melts or is destroyed or if the fire skipped that area and all is well for the dead in their eternal sleep.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Whatever

Marc has come and gone on his latest visit and I didn’t get much time with him, which was depressing. I had to schedule a colonoscopy for when he’d be here to drive me, and that process killed two days, then I was scheduled to work four days. I think we had one full day together when the weather refused to cooperate as well. 

He tried to relax from his stressful job and also got more done on the sunroom. He ran the electrical outlets, used up some leftover insulation he had available, and started on getting up the pine walls. He ran out of material, so the final portion will be done during his next visit at Christmas. I'm left to decide upon which window wrap I want: painted or stain grade. I'm thinking white surround might be too busy and appear too choppy, so am leaning towards having it match the walls. Right now the T&G is natural while I decide if I want to whitewash it or not. Any painting has to wait for summer so I've plenty of time!
Life during this time of year in Wisconsin is mostly a non-event; it’s been a rainy, blustery, cold Fall which precludes getting out much. Yard work is over and done, the lawnmower put away and the snowblower now taking its place waiting for its turn. I’m hopeful I’m able to run it on my own since I leave very early some mornings for work. Having the four-wheel truck is good backup but we hate to run it in winter due to the salt-caused rust. I don’t have that problem with my old Saturn because it’s all plastic quarter panels, hence no rust. 

Marc won’t return for Thanksgiving, so I’ve volunteered to work if someone else at work wants it off with their family. They tell me the bakery gets very busy over the holiday season, so I will likely be doing longer hours soon. By the end of the month I may also get training to work in the deli some as well, and I’m looking forward to that. All in all, I really enjoy having the job and am thankful for it. It gives me a sense of community during these long, lonely days of having a husband I rarely get to see. And so it goes….