New steps, and the basement remodel moves forward!


All has been quiet in the last while regarding home improvement projects here at Sparrow’s Nest, until this last couple of weeks. I’ve had trouble with my basement steps, as they were constructed poorly when they were put in.  My Dad was kind enough to come over, take them apart and put them back together correctly with new treads.  He also pounded out the drywall that line the steps, as it was on the wrong side of the wall, and put in a new light where my pantry will go. He’s got plans about how to put a wall in on the steps side of the wall, and is helping me think about how to construct a pantry on the other side and underneath the stairs. My Dad’s amazing…he can pretty much build or fix anything, and I am so grateful that he’s put his considerable skills to work in my house. He’s definitely helping me make my house more of a home. The best part is that Older and Younger Sons have both helped, which gives them a sense of accomplishment, as well as a stake in how their home is fixed.

Here’s what it looked like to start with:

  As you can see the risers were installed incorrectly by overlapping the treads of the steps. This caused uneven wear and splinters to form. You can see where there was drywall on the wrong side of the stair wall, causing several Black Holes of Doom between the studs where things would fall down from above and get lost under the stairs.

Dad came over to make all the measurements and then we went shopping for new 2×10 boards for the new treads. Since the risers aren’t so visible, we didn’t buy new plywood, but reused what was there. Not having done this before, Dad was a little afraid of how much time it would take and so he came over on Saturday around 11:30 so that we’d have Sunday too, if need be.  Younger helped with this part of the project and it took them a little bit to get started, but once they did it seemed to go really smoothly, and only took about three hours to get finished. They started from the bottom, and did one step at a time. Younger Son has been talking to me about putting a finish on the steps, which I think we will do, but it will have to wait until the Spring when we can keep the windows open all day.

Later on that week, Dad came back and Older Son helped him pound out and haul out the drywall, and then he installed a light in the back of what will be my new pantry.

Here are pictures of the results:

This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a huge step forward…if you’ll forgive the pun. By Spring I’m hoping to have  my new pantry ready to go and on the way to being filled up. I’d like to have a year’s worth of supplies banked away eventually, and this little project has gotten me that much closer to making that plan into reality. I have some other thoughts on pantry building, and being prepared, but I’ll leave those for another post.

Hopefully soon I’ll have some more pictures to show you regarding the progress on my basement remodel!

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A mish mash on a warm October day


Today is October 1st, and it is blessedly warm outside. The Weather Guy says it’s going to hit at least 80 degrees today, whereas in other years, we’d already been shoveling snow. What a blessing to have such good weather for a little while longer!

Since it is such a beautiful day, I am going to open up all my windows. throw some laundry in and power clean my kitchen. If I am really good with my time, I will leave myself plenty box opening time while I watch TV this evening. You see, I still have boxes sitting in my living room from when I brought everything up out of the basement before the flood this summer, and I just can’t bring myself to quite look in them. I know that there will be things in these boxes from my married life that I just don’t want to see or deal with.  This qualifies me as a gigantic chicken…Bock, bock, bk-ock!  Now, it’s just time to get this stuff taken care of and get it out of the house. Time to get on with it and move forward.

At the moment, Younger Son is cruising the kitchen, like a shark, looking for something to eat. He’s settled on a big glass of chocolate milk, which is just as well. I’m going to clear out the hall closet and he’s going to paint it.  What am I going to do when the boys have flown the nest? They have been really good about helping me out around the house, especially with the big stuff. I guess I’ll just have to find myself a boy toy who likes to shovel snow!

So, let’s talk about trolls. Not the living under the bridge kind, but the kind that maneuver around the internet leaving incendiary remarks on other people’s posts. I have a friend who recently experienced having to deal with one of these trolls for the first time. It’s never fun to have to kick someone off of a message board or a blog, but sometimes it has to be done. Trolls don’t just post nasty things, usually out of context, but they also feel that they can’t ever be wrong and will go to great lengths to prove to you that they are right. The thing is, they just don’t realize that being right isn’t necessarily what matters. What really matters is your behavior, because if you are well-behaved and post thoughtful, well-reasoned ideas, people will pay attention. If you behave badly and spam post people with ranting and crankiness, nobody will listen, except maybe for other trolls who live for arguing. The individual who posted on my friend’s blog, and then put comments on mine, will understand if I choose not to allow your comments to harsh the mellow that is my blog.  Enough said.

So, as I was cleaning out the closet so Younger could get started with the painting (wee!) I got a call from my best buddy, “C”.  Her brother has moved into town and they are going out tonight, and he wanted to know if I’d like to go out with them tonight.

Hmm. I do believe I’d like to do just that. It’s been a long time since a man was interested in my company so, even though we are just friends, I do believe I will go and have a good time.  “C”, her hubby and her brother are all good company, so a fun time is assured. However, if I want to not feel guilty about going, I’d better kicker ‘er down and get going. I’ve got a lot of work to do today, and looks like I have the perfect excuse to not have to look in those boxes again today. (snicker!)

Well, I guess there’s always tomorrow (wink). I am nothing, if not the Queen of Procrastination!

Of beer and home improvement projects


Something that I really enjoy is pizza. The best thing to have with pizza is a cold beer. Just one, and it has to be really cold.

I’m very blessed that my younger son has discovered the joy of cooking, and sometimes he makes supper.  Tonight he made calzones. They were just plain pepperoni and cheese, but they were really good. There’s extra yummy goodness in all things home-made. No lie.

So, what beer did I drink with my fabulous home-made calzone? Now, I am a huge Guinness fan. I like a beer with some backbone, and am not prone to drink light beer. I thought about getting some Guinness tonight, but chose to try something new today. I like to try new things all the time, and very often I will choose an adult beverage by the creativity of the label if I just can’t make a decision, but the name of this beer caught my eye. Tonight’s choice is Heavy Horse Scotch Ale, which is made by Big Sky Brewing Company in Missoula, MT. This is the amazing company who are the creators of Moose Drool, another good beer.

I can’t say enough good things about this beer. Not only is it not overly carbonated or hoppy, but it has a lovely smooth taste without being a light beer. Oh, it is a fabulously smooth beer. Hm!! Heavy Horse is a limited run beer, so I think I will go out and get another couple of six packs next pay-day.  Something I’d like to have in my new pantry is not only a wine cellar, but a beer cellar too.

Speaking of my new pantry. It appears that it won’t be built just yet. I still have a few boxes upstairs (left over from bringing everything up from the flood in June)  that need to be gone through and the contents to be kept will have to go in totes and returned to the basement. I have Christmas decorations still stored in my room, and they will have to go downstairs too. So, still having things that need storing in the basement, I’ll need to get those things pared down and squared away so I can get my upstairs finally squared away. Once the upstairs is back in shape, I can pay better attention to the basement. I have some before and after pictures of the organizational project I have going on down there, but I’m saving that for another post.

So, having gone on and on about the stuff I have to get done, I guess I’d better go get something done!

 

Flogging depression with gardening


Apparently, I’ve been depressed.

It sounds as though I make it out to be like it sneaked up on me, and caught me unawares. Well, that’s sometimes how it happens…at least for me. I realized recently, that I’d been falling into old patterns and having no feelings other than unhappy. Today I heard stories about two people I work with at The Big Box Store, who have decided to move away because they lost their homes, and most everything in the flood. There’s nothing holding them here, so they are moving to where they have family, and starting over. It really made me think about all the things that I have taken for granted, and how  fortunate I have been.

Do I have more bills than I can keep up with? Oh, yeah. Do I run like a chicken with my head cut off most days? Yep. Do I feel overwhelmed all the time? Most definitely. Has my ex-husband served me with a legal motion because he thinks he’s paying me too much, and wants a refund? Yes he did, that rotten so-and-so.  Has the heart of my city been destroyed, and so many people I know been displaced and won’t be able to get back into their homes before the snow flies? Yes, and it makes my heart ache.  Have I got more things around the house that need doing than I have time and energy for? Oh, man, do I. Did my engine light come on? Unfortunately, it did. Ugh.

I’ve been feeling really down because of all of this stuff on my plate, and didn’t realize how down I was until I realized I have been having a continual internal pity party for quite a while. Hearing about these two families who have had to make such a hard decision really jerked me out of my rut, and I was able to actually get up and do something. Feeling depressed is very much like wearing weights around your neck…it’s just so hard to get up and do anything. I wish I had realized I had sunk down so far before things got so out of whack.

The thing is, I have got so much to be grateful for, and that really should outweigh the bad stuff. Do I have a home to come home to at the end of a long day, that is dry and safe? Are my kids healthy? Am I gainfully employed? Do I have parents that have stuck by me and helped me every step of the way my whole life? Do I have good friends?  Did my garden produce food for me, even though I neglected it all summer? A resounding yes to all of these things and much more. I am so blessed, and it’s a huge bummer that I lost sight of that.

Before - ugh!

So, after I got home from working at The Big Box Store this morning, I took Older Son shopping. We came home, and then Younger Son and I spent three hours outside. He changed light bulbs over both doors and washed the van, and I spent my time cleaning up and organizing the rock beds that surround two sides of our house. The front one was especially bad, but it turns out that it didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Since I had extra time, and was on a roll, I weeded out my strawberry/herb garden and found some interesting things.

Rosemary on the right, Thyme on the left

I planted rosemary, thyme and oregano this spring, which grew fabulously. Now I have a nice bunch of fresh herbs to cook with. Actually, I like to just rub them in my hands and sniff them. There’s nothing that drops my blood pressure quick than smelling fresh thyme. Who needs drugs when you have a good kitchen herb garden!

After that was done, I took a look at my VERY over grown vegetable garden. We planted snow peas, corn, carrots and pumpkins. The only thing that did really well was the pumpkins. The vines and flowers are so pretty! Younger Son has been telling me for a couple of weeks about some really strange-looking pumpkins, and he thought the vines might be infected with something and the pumpkins were deformed. I finally made the effort to take a look tonight, and it turns out that not only do we have genuine baby pumpkins, but also spaghetti squash! I had a spaghetti squash that I ended up throwing in the compost heap this Spring, as it went bad before I could eat it. Apparently, they are very easy to grow!

We also have ground cherries and dill that re-seeded themselves from last year. The strawberries looked a little worse for the wear, but were holding their own and had sent out runners. We even had some carrots that survived all the rain we received. Even though Younger isn’t a veggie eater, I talked him into trying a carrot straight out of the garden, since he was the one that planted them. I was surprised that he actually ate it, but he did. I ate some too, and it was a little woody as it should have been picked earlier, but it was good anyway.

So, by 7:30 this evening, the rock beds had been cleared of all weeds, one garden had been weeded and watered, and the van had been scrubbed for the first time all summer (There wasn’t

Whoa! Now you can see the rocks in my rock bed!

much car washing going on with the city requesting water conservation during and after the flood, until just recently),  and I was able to sit down and eat supper with a genuine feeling of having accomplished something for the first time in a long, long time.

Tomorrow, I work on the inside of the house!

 

 

 

 

Where is Barbara Eden when you need her?


Holy cow…life has taken be for quite a ride these last two weeks. The end of the school year, combined with everything else that’s going on has left me with my head spinning and my house is a complete disaster. Here it is, Friday already this week, and I have company coming this weekend. Uff da.

I woke up today thinking how lovely it would be if I could have mad skills like Barbara Eden’s Jeannie. I would love it if I could clean my whole house with just a sharp bob of my head.  In my youth, when I spouted off about how I wished something could be different, my Dad would ask me if I had a pile of wish in one and a cow patty in another, what do you get when you rub your hands together? Better to get your hands dirty with work than to rub them together wishing things were different. Well, I’m unhappy to report that Dad was right. Wishing doesn’t quite fix the problem, so I guess I’ll stay up a little later tonight and get everything in order.

In other news, we’ve had a few gloriously sunshiny days. We deserved this nice weather, and I even got a little bit of a sunburn at the garage sale last weekend. Today we have 100% chance of rain, but I’m hoping that things will dry out enough this coming week that we’ll be able to put the garden in.

In North Dakota, we have a LOT of different Seasons, all of which overlap each other. For example, right now it is Spring, but it is also the beginning of Road Construction and Home Improvement Seasons. We have a lot of pot holes in the streets after a long hard Winter…axle-busting pot holes…and it could very well take most of the Spring and Summer for them all to get repaired. Home Improvement Season will be long too. There’s just no end to the work of art in progress that is my home. Thank goodness for my Dad, who has a handle on all things that have to do with home improvement.

Last year I had the roof replaced, the bathroom gutted and redone, and all of my windows were changed out. This will be the Summer of Small Projects. Lots of paint, lots of organizing and much getting rid of stuff that I don’t need anymore. I’m looking at doing some different things with my garden this year too, but more on that later.

Today it will rain and wash away the dust and dirt that covers everything, and make the air smell good. I have lunch with my Sister by Choice today, and work should be light….at least at the Cube Farm. It’s going to be a good day.

Windows are going in!!!


Joe, the Weather Man, had the audacity to come on the television today and tell us that we were getting snow today. What the heck? This is New Window Day! We can’t have snow. How can Dewey the Windows Guy put my new windows in if it’s snowing?!

At that point in the morning, I was having a Hee Haw moment of epic proportions:

(Doom, despair and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive misery! If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Doom, despair and agony on meeee! – This pity party moment brought to you by the good folks at Hee Haw)

But wait!  Dewey, my trusty Windows Guy, called and let me know we’re still on for the windows!!

At this very moment, even though it is snowing, there are two guys installing my new windows. I’m just blown away by the fact that it doesn’t matter that it’s snowing. So far, I have two windows completely installed. After over 10 years of  not being able to open but one window in the house, I can now just waltz over to both of those windows and open them. With one hand. Even though it’s snowing. My life is so fabulous, I just can’t adequately quantify it, and I’m just barely holding it together against crying for joy. No joking.

Most of you, my Eleven Faithful Readers, are probably wondering what the fuss is about. Just the act of being able to open my windows is such a huge deal, you can’t even imagine. This is just the gravy on top of this yummy pile of mashed potatoes, as I will also have a lowered heat bill, and some sound proofing against noise from the road, the train and the helicopters. The old saying is true…little things count. They count for a lot. I am so blessed.

Of Windows and Aliens


I am so happy today. I got the final word from Dewey the Windows Guy that I am definitely getting my new windows Friday and Saturday. Finally!!!

You might wonder why I would be getting new windows when the temperature is generally just barely above zero? Well, I did too. At this late date in the year, I figured I would just have to wait until spring to get my new windows. But no! According to Dewey, they put windows in all year round without any trouble.

I’m so jazzed about getting my new windows, I can just barely hold still in my chair! I can just imagine how much money I’m going to save on my heat bill, and boy will it be nice to be able to open the windows again!!  From what I understand, they should block more sound out too, so that will be another plus. I can’t wait!

Now, what does this have to do with aliens? Absolutely nothing.

I mentioned aliens in the title of the blog due to an announcement from NASA I was made aware of, which states:

“NASA Sets News Conference on Astrobiology Discovery; Science Journal Has Embargoed Details Until 2 p.m. EST On Dec. 2

WASHINGTON — NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

The news conference will be held at the NASA Headquarters auditorium at 300 E St. SW, in Washington. It will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency’s website at http://www.nasa.gov.”

Generally NASA doesn’t have things to announce that are Earth-shattering, and I don’t think this one will be any different. However there is already speculation running rampant on the internet saying that perhaps they are going to finally make the big announcement that we are not alone. Riiiiight…and I have a bridge in London I’d like to sell you dirt cheap.

I’m betting that the announcement has to do with finding a good candidate for a planet in “Goldilocks’ zone, or some kind of unexpected foreign bacterium unearthed from a meteor buried under an ice pack somewhere, or perhaps some telescope has viewed a cache of water on the moon or another planet that was formerly undisclosed.

Yep, that’s right. It’s stuff we’ve all heard before. Nothing to see here folks…same old, same old.

One thing does make me curious is the usage of the word “embargoed”. I mean, who is Science Journal, and who are they to tell NASA what they can and can’t disclose and when? The opening sentence of the announcement makes it sound like it’s some amazing, can’t believe it sort of thing that someone had to keep a lid on for some reason. Personally, I believe the reality of it is that The Powers That Be at NASA like to get people riled up by posting incendiary things like this.  This wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It’s just a cheap publicity stunt.  Shame on you NASA.

 

New windows and the arrival of Winter


As my 11 faithful readers may remember, I’ve written before about getting new windows. I’ve been expecting them all Summer, but I was on the bottom of a loooong list, and the weather didn’t cooperate. As a result, I’m still waiting for my new windows…until today.

While I was working at The Big Box Store last night, The Windows Guy called me and left a message that my time has arrived!! Hazzah! I was really worried about having to go through another North Dakota winter with these old, decrepit windows. Not only are they drafty, but they don’t do much to keep noise out.

Oh wait…

The Weather Man is on the TV, right now, talking about how we are expecting 2-4 inches of snow tonight and tomorrow.

So, the question I will have for The Window Guy is how the heck he’s going to put windows in when Winter has finally arrived and won’t likely be giving us another break, like the one we just had, until April?

Well, I’ll sure be interested in finding out. Perhaps they have some kind of suped-up Winter installation plan? Time will tell. Wish me luck!

Redecorating your blog


So, I’m sitting here spending some time on the computer, and waiting for the children to come home. Older Son has been out with his father, and Younger Son is four hours away from home playing football. Feeling out of sorts because the house is so quiet, so I thought I would just play around on the computer for a while and listen Lost in the Static out loud, rather than have my headphone plastered to my head.

I’ve visited most of the places I usually haunt on-line, and have read the news. Housework awaits, but I’m in no mood. So, I thought I’d write something in my woefully empty blog. I’ve neglected it in recent weeks, but I’ve just been so completely uninspired that I had nothing to write. What to do?

Redecorate!

I’ve had the same background on my blog for quite a while, so I thought I would change things up and make it more seasonally appropriate. I didn’t have any appropriate wall papers, so I went searching on-line for free wallpaper. It was a little like shopping, only cheaper! The place I finally found the wallpapers I liked is Vlad Studio, and so I did some redecorating.

Speaking of redecorating. As soon as this last episode of Lost in the Static is done, I’m going to replace all of the handles on the cupboard doors in my kitchen. Nothing fancy, just plain silver door handles, but it will be a nice sleek upgrade compared to the miss-matched hardware I’ve got now. Baby steps…little by little I’ll make my rickety little fixer-upper a cottage-like little home.

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