Thursday, December 31, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Yes, I know I'm late by about a week.

I was going to post last week, and tell you about the pies I made for the carpenters who have been doing an outstanding job on reconstructing my attic.

And I was going to post a picture of my menu, which picture is now lost somewhere.  Oops.  It wasn't very detailed, anyway: just the main dish, maybe with the starch if I felt that was absolutely the correct starch, and me expecting to wing it with everything else.  It worked; no one starved.

And I was going to tell you about Kellie's nice boyfriend sending this, with the note: "To all, because the M. women love their cheese and the M. men will eat anything."  He figured us out in 3 short days, when he was here for Shannon's wedding.

And Shannon's new mother in law bought us a dozen ornaments, to help replace the ones we lost.

But, really, for me, everything else became just icing on the cake on Christmas morning.  You recall that all of our Christmas stuff was lost save our silver plated Christmas ornaments.  And I was most upset about losing my Christmas tree skirt, which the girls and I had embroidered in 2000.  My dearly beloved said, "Well, just tell them to make new quarters, and make a new tree skirt!"  They are adults, and I couldn't make such demands on their time.

But they did it of their own accord.  And I almost cried.  Great tears of joy welled up in my eyes, and in the back of my throat.  These 3 fabric quarter circles might just be the best present ever, because it was the gift of their time.  And now I"ll have to design and create my own quarter, and we will have a new tree skirt for next year.

More pictures another day.  Merry Belated Christmas.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Prep

So, Ryan wandered into the breakfast room a little while ago, toting a red plastic bag, and announced that we need to put up our Christmas tree tonight.  He then dumped the bag out on the table in front of me, and told me that the sisters and brothers had gotten me some new ornaments to help rebuild our collection.

My kids are the best.

I hope all of you are well prepared for Christmas, and not feeling crunched by the holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Things We Found In the Fire

The day after the fire, Ryan went to the attic in search of our dated Christmas ornaments.  He found all but 2 (which I have purchased at absurd expense, so my set is complete).

This one was not one of my regular ornaments, but a commemorative flat ornament from our community center at the bottom of the hill, where our daughter's reception was held.  I cleaned it up somewhat after the fire, but you can see what I was working with.

 I then proceeded to clean up 36 of these:

Just FYI, if you put foil in the bottom of a pan, add a generous handful of baking soda and half fill the pan with water, you can boil silverplate clean.  That's right.  Some required just a quick rinse in clean water, some needed a little buffing with a dry towel, and the very worst (looking like my poor brass ornament) had to be boiled for a long time, then polished pretty hard, but they all came out looking pretty good.

I was delighted when I realized that I had put my grandmother's glass icicles in my dresser drawer for safe keeping, so they were not destroyed in the fire.

Ryan was very saddened to find just his name off his Christmas stocking, and I nearly cried last weekend when I realized that the Christmas tree skirt that the girls and I made back in 2000 was burned up.  Some things can never be replicated.

On the plus side, after firing 2 subcontractors, we finally have a guy who's actually getting some lumber in the air, and we now have about 1/3 of the roof replaced.  Heck, we might even have another bedroom back in service by Christmas!  I'll be cleaning that carpet and painting that ceiling this weekend, so we shall see.

Happy weekending, everyone!  Take a little extra time to enjoy the things you've had for a long time, which hold memories for you, and be happy for me that some of my memories were found after the fire.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Thanksgiving Recap

Yes, I know I should have done this last week.  But with the rebuild....well, let's just say you should all be glad you don't live in my house.

First up, on Thanksgiving morning the boys, led by Dan, rebuilt our dining table.


 The reason the holiday had to go on, regardless of fire and flood...

 This kid is an exchange student from Norway, living with Scott and Erin for the year.  He bought this sweater as a competition with his family for the best "Ugly Christmas Sweater".  I love it.  And I'm glad we've provided yet another person from overseas with a very unrealistic picture of what Thanksgiving in America is like!

Tank and Lily, AKA Bat Dog and his trusty sidekick, Adventure Beagle:
 And, of course, dessert.  There were multiples of all except the cake, so I didn't bother to photograph all of them.

So, we looked respectable enough to hold Thanksgiving; now it's time to see how we will do with Christmas!  Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Must Go On!

We are soldiering on.  And while we still have holes in our roof, it is getting replaced (albeit at an insufferably slow pace - 5 weeks to completion my arse).

We peeled down wallpaper in the foyer and in many places upstairs so the walls would dry out.  That left us with ugly walls (duh).  So my oldest daughter decided to assist me with repainting the foyer.

And while we didn't do a good job on making the wall smooth (and I should never ever ever have let her buy semi-gloss paint), it now looks quite reasonable.  I decided on a dramatic color: Ryan likes it, Mark hated it but then decided it was a good look, and I think hubster is still on the fence.  But save the tarps to protect our waterstained carpets (which we will ultimately replace), this room actually looks reasonable.

My dining room also took a ferocious fire hose induced rainstorm.  Our chair seats were really damaged - but, hey, they were white 26 years ago, and 26 years of kids using them for every holiday did take a toll on them.  So I ordered fabric to reupholster them, and when Cass was here this weekend, she disassembled the chairs and I reupholstered them.  Her Daddy's job was to test the seats and make sure they were comfy.

Those of you with eagle eyes (or maybe just paying a little attention) will notice that my dining room table is in 3 pieces, dismantled by the firemen so they could tarp it.  That's OK; it will be a fun Thanksgiving morning project for our sons: reassemble the table, or we're all hunching around the kitchen counters to eat!  (And notice that the ceiling is not in any of these pictures, because it needs minor repair/repainting, but we are prioritizing the roof before finishing inside).

And, lastly, here's the menu for the week.  It's very fluid, meaning that if I don't get to things (because I still have to reassemble 3 rooms downstairs), I won't get to them.  Thanksgiving will go on.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone; be happy that your home is intact, your family is safe and well, and that you are loved.  And know that I appreciate each and every message of support from you, much more than you can imagine!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We're Still OK

So, our house is still a disaster zone, or at least part of it is.  To refresh your memory, this is what our roof looked like the day after the fire:

The framing crew has removed and replaced the tower, but they are tearing off a lot more roof today.

But, before they got the roof back on, we had a real downpour last Tuesday night. About an inch of rain fell in an hour, pulling down the tarp they had over the top, and giving us some delightful rain showers indoors.  They boys and I tarped and laid out buckets to catch the worst of it; I ran the bucket brigade, dumping and replacing them, until 4AM.

This is what remained of the water prevention system the next day:

We rented 3 industrial strength dehumidifiers - each of which collects 210 pints of water (about 24 gallons) - and they've been running nonstop for a week now, along with 4 of the biggest residential dehumidifiers I can buy (70 pints, or about 8 gallons) per day.

3 bedrooms look like this - absolute disaster zones:

 And we've peeled the wallpaper from the flooded rooms upstairs, leaving the place looking like a war zone.  My daughter came last weekend and filled some of the holes and painted without sanding, so the place is now consistently tan and lumpy.  It was too early to paint, and the color is depressing, so I have poor Ryan sanding to prepare for repainting.  Maybe it will be dry enough for Kilz.

But our house still stands, and we are still in it, safe, whole and well.

So, no matter how bad things are, just remember: at least you don't have an open air house, with nothing but OSB between you and the sky!  Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Our friend, Greg

Our friend Greg lost his trusty companion Dakota yesterday.

Dakota came to play with Thor once.  He was too bouncy; Thor hid next to my dearly beloved; he was afraid of this smaller bundle of energy.

Dakota came to play with Mark many times after we lost Thor.  They had a wonderful time romping and playing together.

Greg doesn't blog, but writing a few words about him distracts me from the million things I need to do (reglazing and painting 17 windows isn't as much fun as one might think).

Thanks for all of your kind comments and support; I've begun to conquer the first floor mess and may have time to update soon!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Worst Birthday Yet.

Let me start by saying that we are all fine.  And I'm trying to face this with humor.   And Jeffrey sent me flowers for my birthday.

Last Friday night/Saturday morning, about 45 minutes after Ryan and Mark went to bed, they heard noises in the attic, as if someone were throwing things around.  And then they smelled smoke.

"The house is on fire!  The f**ing house is on fire!"  The terror in Ryan's voice chilled me far worse than the words.  I can't fix terror in my kids; everything else can be handled.

I ordered the boys outside, walked to the phone, called 911, gathered my purse, keys and lockbox (why lose the house deed and birth certificates?), and coats for everyone.  Within 4 minutes, our cop was on the scene (we only have 3 cops in town, so we think of them as "ours"), 5 minutes later the first ladder truck arrived, and the party started.  All told, we had 8 companies, one ladder truck with a 5" line, 3 running 3" lines, and about 50 people.

We lost part of the attic.

The fire fighters moved most of our things out of the line of fire and water.  They tarped what they couldn't move.  There are 3 bedrooms upstairs which look like this:

The ground floor is half soaked and blackened; the rest is clean.  There's a lot of extra stuff in the room where my daughter was married just 3 weeks earlier.  Stuff I don't have to replace.  Score one for us good guys.

We have a seasonally appropriate "Haunted House" look.

The things we lost in the fire are corralled in a seasonally appropriately colored dumpster.

Some surprises came from the attic, like these people from our Christmas train set.  They will be scattered around in the playroom for decoration, as a reminder of what we could have lost.

I spent last Saturday and Sunday cleaning my kitchen, sweeping away the 2" of standing water, throwing away that which got soaked, cleaning all of my surfaces a hundred times each (gotta love those disposable wipes; I've used about a case of them), laundering dish towels and cloths dozens of times, and getting ready to feed us.  One of our neighbors brought us coffee and donuts at 9AM Saturday; another brought us dinner late Saturday afternoon.  I was very touched.

My dearly beloved already had a demolition crew arranged to start on Monday morning; they put the tarps on the roof (keeping out the 3" of rain we got Wednesday), and they have the attic cleared, the undamaged section cleaned and repainted, and we are ready for the framing crew to come in and start next Monday.

So I'll only be around sporadically.  But please know that we are all a little shaken, but physically just fine, and recovering.  The things we lost in the fire?  Not much.  The things which were saved from the fire?  Priceless.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Library Book Sale!

There was a book sale the day of the wedding.  Despite the pleas of the relative from Denver, I didn't go.  I just didn't want to get up at 7AM to go trotting off on an adventure.  But today....well, it's my very favorite library, and Ryan and I just had to go.

It was a pretty morning here.  A little sunshine, a lot of clouds, a stiff breeze, and pretty cold - 40 degrees.

Ryan was enthused about getting books...Mark, not so much.  He's playing football this afternoon, and just went along for the ride.

 I got a few books, and a bunch to ship off to Denver.  I'm a sucker for giving people books.

They sell baked goods at these book sales, too.  I usually donate something, and I always buy things I didn't bake.  The boys pick out some for themselves and some for their father (who enjoys them, and then wails about being fat).

Happy Saturday, everyone!  I hope you're having a day of relaxation, maybe with a good book!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Critters Who Attended The Wedding

So, naturally, when my kids came home for Shannon's wedding, they brought their dogs.

Jeffrey's girlfriend brought her dog Lily, also known as Tank's sidekick, Adventure Beagle.
Lest anyone be confused as to whether beagles are pack animals, Shannon's friend's 6 month old baby is here to clarify the situation.  (This baby got passed around endlessly.  She was delightfully cheerful.)

 Adventure Beagle laid claim to the oriental rug Tank usually occupies.  He spent the weekend looking for food.
 Shannon's sister found this kitten abandoned. He was too little to leave home alone.
 The kitten's name is Flea.  Tank offered to help Flea finish his food.  Flea was not frightened.
 My tea cup had to go into the dishwasher immediately after I took this picture.  You just can't resist such an adorable little face, even when he's doing something strictly forbidden, like walking on my table.
 Before the wedding, Natasha helped Shannon and the baby's mother spray roses.  The baby stayed indoors and played with me and my dearly beloved.  She really liked him; I've always said he's a charmer.
 After I took this picture, Natasha growled at me.  That's her modus operandi.
 And, even though she's not a critter, I couldn't resist this picture of the visiting relative from Denver with some of my sons.  They wanted her to know just how short she is.

Happy weekending, everyone!