And the road goes on forever...

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wisconsin Has Droughts?

Yes, apparently it does because we’ve been in one all month. To add to the misery of excessively high heat and humidity that has blanketed the state, there effectively has been no measurable rain in Waupaca, which has served to sear my normally green lawn and plants. I do what I can to hand-water the plants daily, which takes up to two hours, but weeds have jumped in to take over the now brown, crunchy grass. I am not one to normally use chemical weed killers but there is a type of very hardy, deep-rooted bush which is now springing up mercilessly all over and I figure if I don’t catch it in its wee stages they will grow to look like this whooper.
Obviously, I know we are not alone in our travails; the entire country seems to be ablaze this summer, but it’s come at a particularly bad time for me since I had to deal with it during our annual Humane Society rummage. Our rummage is held in an old tin marina warehouse and this year, both setup and the sale itself were just miserably hot and humid. I think it affected our performance and profits; I would exit daily in the late afternoons, blazing red in the face, feeling like a heat stroke victim and crowds were off significantly from past years. I joked with the other gals that I thought I had moved far enough north to escape the heat; just how much farther could I go—to the shores of Lake Superior? We’re only about 250 miles from Canada!
I hope we can take this as a learning experience and find a different venue, so we can move the date of the rummage to a cooler month. I love heading up the effort but have indicated that I am no longer interested in cooking myself to death, so my participation depends upon a change. Since no one else has shown interest to take on this huge responsibility, I figure I just might get my way,ha!

Planning, organizing, running and advertising the rummage effectively took up much of this month but in between moments, I have done some further furniture refinishing. I tried a dry brush technique on some old Sauder furniture, which is photographed wood, so can’t even be sanded; and I took one of the closet maple doors off the old Travel Supreme and redid it to use as a full-length mirror, using a darker stain and glaze.
Marc and I have our 30th anniversary coming up on September 4th, which I consider to be a huge milestone given my history of divorces, so in honor of that I decided to go all out with a big surprise for him. I have been working on that and all will be revealed in the blog by September. 

He is due to arrive home late next Thursday and will be able to stay until the 5th and plans are to continue working on our front porch and sunroom electric. He will be volunteering at the big EVAA Air Show event, held in Oshkosh every year (the nation’s largest fly-in), so will lose two work days to that but he deserves the time off. 

His project is on the cusp, finally, of getting going the moment he returns to Nevada. Given the late start of this one and the fact there could be little to nothing for me to do with it not being far enough along by the time I would be there, I am seriously considering not traveling west this winter. It’s a difficult decision to make given the age of my mother and my wanting to see her, but on the other hand, sitting in the RV in an RV park with three cats who don’t want to be there and not a lot to do for months on end is not something I would relish. There’s also the monetary expense, which is no trivial matter when putting on that many miles with the rig. Mesquite isn’t exactly a hot spot for activities other than golfing. At least the cats are content at home; I have my puzzles to work, books to read, furniture refinishing, and volunteering to keep me occupied. Oh, and snow shoveling—almost forgot that part! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

17 Days in June

If you’re not into construction, you may want to skip this post because that’s what it’s all about! The day finally arrived for the three-man crew to get started the first part of June to frame, sheet, and install the windows for our enclosed sunroom. Bugs, wind, and rain would often spoil our enjoyment of our front porch, so we made the decision to make it into a three-season room (no heat source). Despite the cost, it was the best decision ever!

The second half of the second day the crew was rained out, but altogether they had things completed in less than three days. The windows were large and heavy and expensive! As it came together, I marveled at how much larger it made the space appear.
Not a week later, Marc got home for a nine-day visit in which he planned to get the exterior siding taken care of. This involved piecing in and attaching to existing siding so it wouldn’t look like an add-on so much time was taken in cutting precise small cuts. It also happened to be hot and humid during some of his visit, which slowed him down. In addition, he hung the two ceiling fans I had purchased and got up most of the blinds, save for two which had not shipped yet.
Finally, the main door came in and I helped him out with getting it hung. We also bought a screen door, but it is waiting until his next visit to get hung.
The interior awaits finishing: there is electrical wiring to be done, insulation to be installed in the knee walls and installation of wall material. We will probably go with car siding, which is known in the west as tongue and groove knotty pine, which is now hung on the ceiling. Flooring won’t occur until next summer, but I bought some area rugs which help for now.
However, on Marc’s next trip home he intends to start work to finish off the front with a porch made of Trex, with a white vinyl railing which will match what we have going on out our back door. I am currently working with the landscaping around the front and redoing the flower beds with bark mulch and larger shrubs. It’s hard to believe that at that point, the front exterior of our home, after three years, will finally be done! 

Even getting as far as we have has made such an impact on how much better things look and it appears more and more like the little cottage I originally envisioned.
We are beyond thrilled at the way the new room is already working out. It’s such a pleasant space for happy hour in the evenings or to eat looking out at our view and of course, for naps on the porch!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Awash in Lilacs

In our years of being here I’ve never seen our aged lilacs bloom like they have this year. I’ve been enjoying cutting the blooms daily to get their sweet, sweet, heavenly scent inside in every room.
As I note actually, every blooming thing is going to town—the apple trees have more than usual as do the ornamental plum trees. It’s been wonderful for bouquets since I love having flowers inside. The bees are busy trying to pollinate it all for my future harvest.
I’m back to my normal routine at home—all the yard work, mowing, gardening and mostly, weeding. God, they grow too quickly! Dandelions have overrun the entire region in masses also. I’ve planted some new ornamental grasses but not much else. I’m also still volunteering for the humane society. Despite the work burden falling solely on me, I’ve been enjoying my time at home immensely. Daily I try and sit out and have “porch time” and it’s always at this time that I reflect that I wish I didn’t have to make the trip west in the fall. 

I’ve found a new passion in refinishing furniture! I love the process of destroying a damaged or unwanted surface and turning it into some totally different concept and color. I have several projects in front of me but am now working on redoing my old antique iron bed. It was very chippy paint, falling off, probably lead paint, when I purchased it, so I let it sit out this winter and further deteriorate. Stripping it involved a lot of rotor wire brush, paint remover, sanding and repeated sanding. Now I’m working on building layers to accomplish a finish that is yet undetermined. I decided to use up more of the blue mineral paint I had used on the bedroom set but now I will use white wax instead of brown. All of it takes layers and layers. Finding a mattress for this bed has proved problematic; it seems the antique ¾ mattress size is no longer produced unless one wants to spring to have a custom one made. The twin size I used last year is just too small. So, I will be on the hunt for a source for buying foam in large pieces we can custom cut to size.
Word is that the construction crew should be able to start on the sunroom this coming Tuesday. It should only take them a few days to accomplish their portion as Marc intends to finish the interior with electric and what little wall will be necessary. The lower sills will be 18” off the floor to match what is going on with the house front windows and there won’t be much wall space between windows. I had thought of it as being all enclosed by the time they left but in actuality that won’t happen until Marc’s return because we don’t have a front door as yet! We’re planning for a single, all glass French door with side lights and possibly transom windows. Get home soon Marc—your construction skills will be badly needed!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Time Flies

As they like to say when you’re having fun. Of course, my idea of fun may not be what most people think of since many of the tasks revolve around yard work and interior improvements. It always seems when I return that there is a boatload of things on my to-do list, so I immediately dove in knowing time's short. We’ve enjoyed wonderful weather for the most part which has quickly spurred Spring into action. I had our first mowing yesterday just before today’s rain. The lawn should like that. When it initially wakes after winter, its like a verdant, lush green carpet and the smell after mowing it was heavenly. Makes one feel as though they are part of the very earth and is an endorphin of such magnitude!

Things are on target with the sunroom’s windows now ordered to hopefully begin construction of that in a few weeks. The windows are the major cost driver in this project, coming in at over $4000! In anticipation, I had researched myself silly about what to do for furnishings when I had an epiphany . Our big reclining, rustic couch in the living room hardly ever sees any use; why not just place it in the sunroom? I know it already blends in with other pieces I have on hand that I plan to use. Since we rarely have company that uses any seating, that freed me up to purchase a couple of accent chairs for the living room. I saw these beauties and just had to have them. Once they can be placed it should spatially open the great room in a beneficial way.
I’ve been working hit and miss on getting a small garden going. There are still some more seeds to plant when the rain abates. After the snow went away and it warmed enough for the hoses to work I was able to finally get the rigs cleaned and washed. Then I started tackling one of the most important projects of the summer, refinishing our bedroom set. We had ordered it online and although I usually like the natural knotty pine look, this set arrived as stained orange. It has only aged badly in the past few years and was positively looking like a ghastly pumpkin.

I was going for a stained top with the rest painted distressed blue. The first stain just didn’t cover adequately so after two coats of that I tried another color. That after two coats gave me a much darker color than I was really after but the thought of doing another complete sanding job had me figuring it wasn’t so bad as it was. Concurrently, I was also working on sanding and staining the trim on the bed.
The paint went on beautifully and is a great color which doesn’t translate well to camera. It looks fabulous against the gray walls though. Once two coats of that were completed it got a topcoat of Polyacrylic and then came the fun part: using dark wax to distress and highlight. There is nothing like adding something that stains your brand new fresh paint job to get your adrenaline flowing. Replacing the hardware would have been expensive since there were 21 of them, so I opted instead to work with what I had by painting the wood portion hammered brown to match the stain and left the silver inserts. As it turned out, it’s one of my favorite things about the entire redo as I feel it really sets off the dresser now.
Coming up I plan more. In the living room housing our stereo equipment (yes, we still have receivers, amplifiers and LPs) I have an old knotty pine armoire which is shiny and badly scratched; a relic from the early ‘90’s which is in desperate need of a redo, and we also brought back my childhood cedar hope chest. This needs to have the legs and some wood damage repaired, then it too, will be ready. It is solid pecan wood, so I need to get it stripped down to bare wood to see if it merits stain or paint. When’s the last time you saw a piece of pecan used in furniture? Nowadays, consumers think rubber and mango wood are “real” hardwoods since they are almost being exclusively used in furniture due to cost. That’s the primary reason I try and buy vintage or antique—if its lasted 100 years it will likely continue to last during my ownership.
Another thing I worked on was a total replanning of where we will head during daughter’s visit in August. Lake Superior is just too far for the short amount of time she has so we’ve decided upon the Wisconsin Dells area. Not for the tourist trap town, but for all the natural features and hiking and boating in the area. Wisconsin state parks are always very crowded and we will be visiting the state’s most popular, Devil’s Lake. I managed to snag an electrical site at nearby Rocky Arbor SP, one of the last available. More about that coming up.