And the road goes on forever...

Thursday, May 22, 2014


When Marc left for his latest trip to North Dakota he packed for the normal week’s time stay but once there, he was informed that he would be staying until one of the problem projects is done. We figure he won’t be able to return home until sometime in June, so that’s all those weeks with no break for him. He actually oversees five projects now in North Dakota and on the edge of Minnesota so some days, like today, will see him up at 3:30 a.m. to drive around 800 miles making several job stops along the way. I honestly don’t know how the man manages to do it, putting in the ungodly hours and high levels of tedium and stress that he deals with on a daily basis. 

Meanwhile, here on the home front, not much gets done with his absence, towards the house or our lot. The sales rep at the modular place did redraw a plan we like making the changes we requested and I have a feeling we may well use this company. It’s a simple, small ranch style home with an optional large screened front porch which Marc will likely build himself or hire done. We did expand the kitchen, eliminating the dining area and will plan for a very large island with seating at some future point. I am trying to decide whether to go with the significantly more expensive built in oven/micro and stove cook top or just to stick with the more affordable slide-in range and oven. The decision doesn’t have to be made until we place an order. We provide our own appliances so I am free to get what we figure we can afford. I was able to get credit for a large bank of drawers in the expanded area since we eliminated all upper cabinets and the stupid angled raised small island the kitchen came with. Marc will replace the uppers with floating shelving. I love the openness that should provide and things are so much easier to grab and use. 

I did make a couple of purchases from an antique gallery in Appleton early this week. They get many of their exquisite pieces from Europe and maintain an excellent website with great detailed photos, making initial shopping easy. Most of their sales aren’t local so I felt privileged to have them so close. I got four fabulous vintage iron and wicker chairs with great lines. They are solid iron so very sturdy; two will go with my small pine drop leaf table in what is left of the dining area. That will leave the others for the screen porch or bedrooms.
I had noted a primitive pine hutch and buffet which dated from 1900 and definitely took my eye so while in the store I checked it out. The hand carving was homey, the curved top accentuated the lovely glass hutch, and two skeleton keys opened both the top and bottom. I left the store with my chairs but couldn’t get it out of my head, so I called Marc and asked if he’d mind if I bought it? I ended up going back and securing the hutch and am very glad I did so—it’s the sort of piece in high demand by internet shoppers. The patina on the wood is satiny smooth and just the right color. It will look outstanding at the end of my kitchen as additional storage. I left it at the store until Marc can get home to get it, where we’ll be able to store it in our cargo trailer until the house is completed.
At a more local antique mall in Stevens Point, I added a couple of old crates to my kitchen items. These will eventually go under the island on a bottom shelf to hold something like onions and potatoes. I guess in my mind I have figured out a vintage “farmhouse, quasi rustic” look to everything.
Since one of the renters here moved out and threw out a bunch of still useable items in the dumpster, I fished out some old furniture figuring since it was free it would be good fodder for some practice painting with a technique called chalk paint. Chalk paint is sold professionally at very select places (none around here) and is terribly expensive but there are also recipes for DIY using plaster of Paris. Since I now have many sample paint jars from having chosen colors, I decided to paint up this old beat up end table and also add a decoupage accent to the top. It doesn’t seem to photograph as the true color but it gives you the idea of making something look distressed and vintage looking. If nothing else, it can be another item for the screen room although I think it goes well next to the new paint and upholstery job I did on my wicker set! Still to be done is an equally beat up Mission style oak coffee table which I will be turning into a padded ottoman bench once I can figure out upholstery fabric and color.
Spring is here and things are now really hopping in Central Wisconsin in anticipation of the holiday weekend. I will be checking out an art show in a small hamlet just up the road being held in a historic old 1868 grist mill Saturday. Marc told me to keep my wallet in my purse after this past week-ha! Have a nice holiday everyone.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Even Kitties like Wisconsin Cheese!

It felt as though spring finally really arrived here yesterday; warm sunshine greeted the entire day and the trees are finally starting to leaf out. Wisconsin responds to spring by holding city wide rummage sales and since Marc and I missed the one in Amherst the previous weekend I decided to head over and catch the one in Weyauwega on my own as Marc is again in North Dakota. 

Weyauwega is another old village of around 1600 population spread out over a pine filled hillside which spills down to flat ground around a very nice looking lake. It’s only about five or six miles from our lot in Waupaca. My wandering brought me to the free city boat launch so I made a mental note of that should Marc ever obtain the small fishing boat and time to use it he yearns for. While it has many nice old homes, like this vacant one, the town looks a little down and out with many empty store fronts and lots of properties for sale. Although Wisconsin weathered the recession much better than the west, it still hit hard here and many mom and pop businesses, especially if they weren’t necessities businesses, went under.
I spent a pleasant morning scoring a few treasures, perused the one antique store I found open then headed directly across the street to one of the reasons for coming here—the plain-entry Star Dairy retail store. It’s no secret that Wisconsin makes, by far, the creamiest and tastiest cheeses in all the land and my formerly high cholesterol levels can testify to that. I still buy cheese for Marc and an occasional snitch for myself but being in a place like this sure makes the choices hard. We are particularly fond of smoked cheeses and they offered up quite a selection here, including smoked Monterey Jack with Peppers, something I’ve not seen done before. Of course, smoked Parmesan is also to die for and I had also never heard of smoked Swiss so all those offerings had to make it into my basket. Then I threw in some of their freshly churned butter. In addition, the store offered some locally produced honey and some homemade (even the label says literally “produced in my cottage kitchen”) jams of various berries made by a gal in Wild Rose, another close-by village. Since we have a large rhubarb patch growing I choose a blueberry/rhubarb combination to try to see how I like it. I was planning on giving our rhubarb away but if this combination is a winner then some weekend Marc will just have to get on his jam-making hat!
Later in the afternoon I took Rocket for his romp in the park which was a pleasant place to hang out smelling spring coming to life. As we were standing by the Tomorrow River I heard this loud scratching sound climbing a downed log on the far side of the river. It was so brushy and whatever it was blended in so well I couldn’t tell just what creature it was at first, thinking maybe a beaver. I about fell over when I saw the most massively large turtle short of a desert tortoise I have ever seen! Unfortunately my pictures don’t do it justice as I just couldn’t focus in close enough but I was astounded with the size of the claws which were easily as big as a bear’s. I figured the creature must have weighed at least 150 pounds; I had no idea water turtles could get to such a size! It looked like one nasty creature to mess with, let’s just put it that way. Snapping turtles are ubiquitous in the Wisconsin River so I figure that is what this may have been. It soon disappeared back under water; and here I had been daydreaming about floating this river on a tube on a hot summer day!
Marc appears to be really tied up in North Dakota for the foreseeable future, maybe weeks this time. His job is not an easy one and he put in 70 hours this past week. It’s very tiresome and there are no easy answers for it. We are tentatively making slow progress on having the modular house company draw us up a plan incorporating changes we wanted but this could be at a standstill until his return. Another thing now at a standstill is further mowing of our lot which he did manage just before leaving. I must say though that at this new point in the game, it is something he seems to enjoy, as evidenced by the smile on his face. Having just learned to run the mower I don’t feel competent enough to tackle it all on my own as yet. We did manage to get five poles of our garden fence set.