Friday, December 29, 2017


We are still in the clutches of this deep freeze. Yesterday morning the wind chill was 30 below and while the guys had planned to work on the chimney from the roof down. They changed their minds when they got here.  Yep. I was relieved. 

Flue blocks are big and heavy as is the flue itself.  Our "attic" is cold and there isn't a lot of room between the roof joists. I don't know how but they managed to set those blocks and the flue to within 6 inches of the roof. (You can't see the other person but trust me he is there. ) There is no choice now.  To finish placing the other flue blocks they have to get on the roof and drop them in from above.    

Today it was still sub-zero and windy again.   Not a day to be cutting a hole in the roof and trying to set block.  Instead, they finished up the pedestal and the hearth. 
It's a beautiful thing. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Through the ceiling

 It happened. The chimney is through the ceiling. Tomorrow they plan to take it through the "attic" and up through the roof.

I don't know.  NOAA predicts the high at MINUS SEVEN.  They can't really work from below. That means that they have to work up on the roof.  No real sun either. That's what saved us today. Solar gain.

I hid out in the basement sewing most of the day. That's my plan for tomorrow. Otherwise I will be fretting about frost bite and wind chill.

Monday, December 25, 2017

It all started

so innocently last spring. There was no heat in the new house. The gas line from the underground tank to the furnace leaked. The gas company would not unlock the tank until we fixed that leak. 

So we tried to stay warm with the fireplace.
That didn't work. It burned the fuel we provided; some actual hardwood firewood and the gawdawful late century wooden towel bars and other fixtures from the bathroom.  The heat went right up the chimney.
 Our Hearthstone Heritage wood stove was our primary source of heat in the old house.  We barely burned fuel oil.  According to the specs, it can heat up to 1900 square feet. Our old house was 1800 square feet with original, single pane windows and DRAFTY.
 The new house is super well insulated and 1200 square feet.  We are pretty sure the Heritage is too big for the house.  Originally we thought we would leave it behind. In the end, I just couldn't do that. So we brought it with us.

Steven knows people who know masons. Nigh onto two months ago, Steven called Ryan who is renowned in these parts. He advised that he would be in touch. Two weeks ago he called.  About to start a job in the "money is different ski resort town" near us after the first of the year, he had a window of two weeks and he could work our job in. We said OK.

Demo began the next day.
Steven pried the bead board off carefully. I removed the nails. We will use the materials for something else, somewhere. We were touched by the message left by the builders. Ev and Jollie's son built that fireplace for them shortly after they moved in thirty years ago. I am sure they loved it. 
Were it more efficient, we would have loved it, too.

Before we started the project, I asked Steven why we were building a masonry (not masonary; no such word) chimney instead of just running stove pipe up through the roof. 

After we got to this point in the demolition, I understood why.   

Steven and I managed to get the stove off of the hearth. We even somehow managed to loosen the stove pipe. There was no way we were going to be able to move it more than that. 

Luckily Ryan and his tender had to come by to receive the first load of materials.

So they helped (did it themselves using an appliance dolly) move the old fireplace on out. 

Don't worry, he's a professional. 

I have no photos of the headers and re-framing. He's a professional and I was not around when he finished that up. 

It might not be evident from the photos, but the living room is a mess. There are tarps on the floor and plywood where there aren't tarps. There is dust everywhere. The furniture is pushed against the walls. We should be wearing hardhats, seriously.   I don't mind at all, though. This will be a beautiful thing. A very beautiful thing. 

That piece of insulation is covering a big hole in the ceiling. Steven cut through the sheet rock on Saturday when it was above freezing.  The chimney will pass through the roof and Ryan will build a little tent on top of the house so he can work. Projected high Thursday is 9 below. I don't know how he will do it. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Breaking Blogger Rules

I realize that more than one post a day is verboten. I am unapologetic.

We laid the plastic down this morning. I don't know why it took so long. Before we knew it, we were hungry and had no food in the house. We took a break, walked (yes walked) to the grocery store for provisions. There is some action on our street.  A row of very tall trees have met their demise. Before the trees could take down the power lines, tree guys are taking down the trees. They have been here all week. Big tall pines, and smaller ones too, are all gone We will get more afternoon sun, for sure. Our sightline to the mountains will not be improved. Our neighbors will lose the barrier between them and the street. The power lines will be saved. Oh, and our other neighbor won't lose his house if the north wind knocks the trees over.

So, after lunch we laid out the carpet.

And Steven cut the corner.
Then we had to move more stuff so that we could free up the wool rug and put down the rest of the plastic. 
Stay tuned for the update. We must schlep back to a Big Box Store in the Big City tomorrow to purchase the rest of the carpet.  Then I will start settling in.

I plan to tinker in the corner where the laminate flooring survived. (See top photo). So maybe, one day this blog will be about sewing machines again.

It didn't go

quite as we expected. 

I have one experience with laminate flooring.  I was around fifty and kneeling was much easier. We placed Pergo laminate tiles, not fake wood floor, in the kitchen. It was a nightmare.  Steven has more experience and I relied on him to know what to do.

As we laid the first course, he reassured me it would get easier as we progressed.  That was somewhat true after we agreed to live with a gap in the second course. But by the time we reached the angled wall there was no hope. I tried and tired to get that second course against the angled wall to stay together. It just wouldn't work.

We decided that there must be too much of a hump in the floor.  I spent a sleepless night thinking about what to do.  I knew neither of us have the energy or stamina to prep that floor perfectly flat.  My goal is to contain dust and make the floor easy to clean. After reading about various cement sealers, and VOC and ventilation and more prep work, we agreed that the quickest solution is carpet.

Lumbers Liquidators accepted the 27 boxes as a return with no restocking fee.  That was a relief.  We picked up a couple of cheap (and yes, you get what you pay for) rugs at Home Depot and came home, after picking up some dog food on the way. 

Sideline: Frannie had pancreatitis years ago. She eats a low fat kibble. It's pricey compared to Purina. Before we moved, I always bought the food from a local shop as any conscientious locavore would.  (I know I am taking liberty with that term, still..) The food, actually, is only available through independent pet shops. An online search revealed two shops near our new abode. One was on the way home from Home Depot.

"Money is different here," I told Steven as we pulled into the parking lot. I was right. The upscale shop must have a high overhead because the food was twenty percent more expensive. Time to find new food.  It won't help to try the other shop, they share the same name and I am sure have the same pricing. Bummer.

Back to the floor project. We moved more stuff to make room for the plastic underlayment (6ml poly) moisture barrier. We caulked the edges of the walls and floor and a crack and now, today, can place the plastic and lay down the rugs. We would have had to move all that stuff to make room for the laminate, for sure, but now we won't have to be on our hands and knees for hours whacking planks of laminate together.

PS. Don't buy cheap laminate.

Sunday, December 3, 2017


My sewing space is in the basement. Right now it is a mess. 

We decided that laminate flooring will be the best and later today I am meeting Steven at Lumbers Liquidators to select the flooring.  I would love cork. I think I would love the extra dollars more. It appears that I will be subsidizing someone's jet in the near future.  F^ck that. 
Anyway, when I was here for Thanksgiving two weeks ago, I unpacked a few boxes.  One had the little drawers that fit my small stuff organizer.  You know the one, it's metal, has little plastic drawers and some people put nuts, screws, bolts in those little drawers.  I put sewing machine parts in mine.

I had taped the larger drawers in place. I removed the tape and noticed what looked like a piece of wood stove rope gasket stuck on the cabinet.  I had no idea how that got there.  I pulled it off and then screeched. 

This poor, little baby garter snake had crawled under the tape, likely looking for food. It died there. 

 This makes #5.  Three were living.  Steven reassures me that we won't have a problem in the spring and summer. He is sure that the snakes live in the bilco and the babies make their way into the basement.  The adults are too big to fit through whatever crack or crevice the babies find. Certainly we have not found a nest. Garter snakes birth their young live.  I believe he is right.  I am absolutely finished with snake surprises.  All the same, as varmints go, garter snakes are better than mice. 

There are few things I miss from the old place.  The daily walk is one.  We would trudge up the hill on a path that followed a small stream.  The water almost always flowed over the rocks.  I have never seen it completely dry. Walking along flowing water soothes me. 

This morning the pups and I took our morning walk. I had certain criteria for the new home.  Flowing water to walk beside was not one of them.  It seems that it happened accidentally, none the less.  Lucky me. 

Monday, September 25, 2017


Steven is on his way to UHAUL to fetch the truck. Tomorrow we load it up and then he and his son will head on out with all of our stuff.  I will stay here with the dogs. In a week, if all goes well, we will get some money and turn over the keys.

We have been trekking to the new place almost bi-monthly all summer. Over Labor Day we packed the antique treadles into the back of the Tacoma. I truly wanted to take them all: the Howe, the Wilcox and Gibbs, the Davis and the Mystery Singer. I was willing to leave behind the Mystery Singer. Ouch. Luckily, I didn't have to. 

That's it right there.

The Davis and the Howe and the Wilcox and Gibbs are all jammed in there. I packed up each machine and tucked them where ever we could. I jammed the containers full of fabric anywhere they would fit, too. We are packers. 

 This is the shop. It's completely empty now.  A lot of stuff went to the "Free Store" at the end of the drive way. That compressor is still with us. I am hoping I can take it along. I know it will tuck right under the Nolting frame.

 I'm absolutely not sad to be moving. I am not sad that I ditched a lot of stuff. I am suffering from the chaos of the move. This morning I could not find any underwear. I really needed clean panties. I eventually found them, buried in a suitcase. But not before panicking a little bit.

The new space is dark. It's a basement after all. There are two windows. Hanging the shop lights and painting the walls with white  dri-lock made all the difference.  All the stuff is piled in the middle of the floor to provide access to the walls.

 Once all the stuff is there and I can sort it out. Maybe ditch some more machines. We will be in the 802 area code. There seems to be a paucity of machines up there.

I have a Kenmore and a Singer 66 left. I have to deal with them over the next few days. Or maybe I should just pack them up.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Empty nest? Not yet.

I went back to work on the 20th.  Easing back in, I worked one day.  Steven and I then traveled to the new house for the weekend.  I had listed four machines on CL and agreed to meet the buyers on our return.  They live not far from where we pick up the interstate.  Four machines, bam, out the door.
Was I sad?  Maybe a bit.  Instead I rejoiced in finding them new homes outside the scrap metal dump.

 I think this one is a 127 really.  I know better.   I clearly made a mistake researching the serial number.  I added the hand crank. 

 I think that each one of these machines came to me.  I did not go to them.  I almost kept the knee controller 99.  Almost.  There are other machines I would rather keep.  My 319, for instance

The 306 left home just before these four did.  Another machine that was given to me.  I was happy to pass it along.

The belt on the 306 is in better shape than the 319 and I liked the beefy, rugged look of the 306.  But the typewriter like stitch selectors on the 319 had me from the git go.
 It is much easier to give away machines that were gifts.  I spent money on the 319.  More than I would these days.  But then, I had to have a 319 and I had money.

I have had no bites on the needs wiring 15-91 a friend literally dumped on me.  I guess I will have to re-wire it myself and see if it will go then.  I also have a very old back clamp Red Eye 66.  The decals are worn.  But for 15 bucks?

Off I go now.  More culling and sorting.  I'm getting to the point where I want to keep the ones I have left.  After looking at Steven's stash of camping equipment, piled high in the shop before we packed it into the trailer for this trip up to the new house, I think I might be allowed to keep what's left.  Maybe.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I don't think it's the same trip

I'm not really an old hippie.  I am a Socialist, Commie, Liberal, though (according to a comment sent to me via the blog).  I never dropped LSD but am of a certain age that one could imagine I did.  Last night, as Steven and I sat reflecting on the past nine months I said "What a long, strange trip it's been."

"Honey, I don't think its the same trip."

Well, no, it isn't.  But I did have an out of body experience when I became syncopal after chemo, twice. 

I finished the sixth of six cycles on June 15.  Monday I had a PET/CT scan.  Tuesday I saw the lymphoma specialist.

I cried when he told me that there was no evidence of lymphoma on the PET/CT scan.  He was very gracious.  I composed myself but was barely able to concentrate as he explained what is next (basically observation).  I was not expecting a complete response.  I truly thought that I would have residual disease.  I am very, very lucky.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


In March I ordered a new belt for the Necchi.  It was guaranteed to fit.  Well it didn't.  I knew it wouldn't but, nevertheless I persisted, and forced that belt onto the Necchi.  That, of course rendered the machine inoperable because the motor position interferred with the feed.  Sigh.  I had hoped that the new belt, which is the appropriate width, would fit so that I could use the Bobbin Winder.  The current 14 3/4 inch diameter 1/4 inch width lug belt works fine.  It's just too wide and kicks the bobbin winder off after only a few rotations of the wheel.  I doubt I wll be able to find a narrow 14 3/4 inch belt, though I will continue to look.  Meanwhile I can wind bobbins on my Nolting BW and when all of my sewing stuff is in one place, it will not be an issue.

 I had started this project in the house.  That was just plain stupid.  I figured that I would be better off in the shop. As soon as I set the machine on my makeshift working block, two lock washers fell off onto the work bench.  Why they didn't fall off between the house and the shop is a mystery to me.  But it was clear where they belonged, on the bolts holding the motor to the machine.
 Steven was of the mind that the lock washer should be positioned next to the bolt, not next to the motor.  This picture was taken before I took the bolts off, in the house.  I believe whoever changed the belt put the lock washers next to the machine.  When I put them back, I put them next to the bolts, in the interest of marital harmony, so to speak, and because it was much easier.

It felt good to be in the shop.  I opened the window, listened to our babbling brook and played with my tools. 

Yesterday I sorted through machines, looking for one I could donate to a new sewist, sewer, person who sews. I had in mind that the Montgomery Ward I have is the perfect machine.  Except....

When I got it out to look at it and test it, I felt that SOJ.  Spark Of Joy.  Nope  Gotta keep this one.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


The new house is small.  Twelve hundred square feet and all on one floor.  There is an attached garage for a shop and a full basement for sewing.  True I won't have the full windows for daylight but all of my sewing and quilting work space will be in one area.  I won't have to trek outside to sew and upstairs to quilt.  Plus there will be a small area for tinkering.

 We have living neighbors as well who are very friendly and know our grandson.  There are other friends of the family who live on the other side of the cemetary. Ready made community.

Bonus, there is an apple tree on the property with different variety of apples grafted on to the same tree.  I will plant some berries, maybe take along some mock orange, and of course, the iris.

I was out in the shop the other day. I started crying. It's ok to grieve. I don't know when I will be back to sewing machine tinkering.  I know I will again.  Maybe as early as July.  Certainly not for the next two weeks.  Sigh. 

Today completed the 6th of 6 cycles of chemotherapy. The next few days will be hell and then I slowly come back to life.  In a month I go back for re-staging.  That's the scary part. 

One thing I do know, when I die my obituary will not read "She fought a courageous battle against lymphoma."  Not me.  I am a fucking coward.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

More Lilacs

Our house was built around one hundred years ago.  I am certain that no one has refinished the woodwork in all that time.  Until now.  This is the only window that opens in the house. The cord that was connected to the sash weights on the other four had rotted or been cut. I do know how to replace that cord (AMHIK) but we decided that we had enough ventilation with the screened front door, this window, and the three kitchen windows.  So we sealed the other four with caulk when we moved in nineteen years ago.   Oil wasn't cheap then and it isn't cheap now.  The large plate glass affords lots of light and lots of heat loss.  Even so, I will miss these windows.