Saturday, February 28, 2009

Update on construction bid

Well, the builder did show up for our meeting this time, but there still was no bid. Turns out his dad, who had had a stroke in January, is not doing as well as he had previously indicated. Basically, the builder just handed me back the rough drawing I had given him and said he couldn't do it. He appologized many times and was truly sorry for all the broken appointments, delays, and now his inability to follow through.
When we first talked about this project, the builder had said the Lord had told him to do this job. I had gotten the same message. I needed to remember that. So I told him about my appointment with Medicare in March to see if they would cover the remodel for the existing bathroom and reminded him of the monitary delay for my CD that would mean he could not begin the project until the end of April at the earliest anyway. I also indicated that Richard and I would be away for about 3 weeks beginning mid-May. So that if he needed to delay even further, till mid-June, it would be OK. That is, as long as the project were completed before September. I also gave him a letter I had composed that laid out our expectations for this project and that we anticipated concideration as the senior partners in both the planning and decission making processes. All this was received well. I gave him back the rough drawing, wished him and his dad the best, and I will expect a ball-park bid by the end of next week. Only if that figure is way out of reach, will I then look for an alternative means of completing this project.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Progress & Delays

Yesterday, there were three men working on my sewing room again. They finished putting down the floor and putting sheetrock on the ceiling. Yet to do is framing in the door to the pump closet and then all the finish work. I keep telling myself that it will get get done, it will get done, it will get done. Maybe I should click my heels together?
We did have a laugh. I fixed a wonderful eggplant dish and turns out one of the guys hates eggplant. He was polite, just diligently picked it out of the dish and ate the rest. Another of the guys took it off his plate and ate it. Then the stories started about all the times the first fellow had been served eggplant. We added to his collection. When his wife came to pick him up and we told her of the eggplant she just roared.
The contractor who is putting a bid together for remodeling our master bath has postponed getting the bid to us for the third time now. We had a firm appointment yesterday at 9:00 am and he just plain did not show. Not so much as a phone call even after I called him and left a message. This morning he called to appologize and wanted to make another appointment for next week. I told him no, I did not want to put it off any longer. He supposedly will be here this afternoon at 3:00. If he doesn't show or even if he calls and tries to postpone again, I will not even consider him for the job. I am about as patient as anyone, but I can't handle this lack of accountability. Please pray for me. I need/want this project to move forward.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Harvest Table

It may seem a bit strange talking about the harvest table in February, but not so strange as it appears. The American tradition is at least as old as the first Thanksgiving and represents much more than celebrating after a boutiful crop has been harvested and safely put away for lean times (winter). One example is food prepared by women for workers during a communal harvest. In this case farmer's wives and daughters would cook all morning and take a warm meal out into the fields where their husbands and sons were working together to reap grain, hay, or some other large crop. Another example is the old fashioned barn (house, church, school, etc.) raising where the community would all pitch in to construct a building. Sometimes for private and sometimes for public use. Again the men would do the heavy labor and the women would provide a hot and plentiful meal. I consider my sewing room remodel to be in this last category. The men from church are volunteering their time and labor to make my basement room "livable" and "useful" once again. The very least I can do is feed them well. The first week they got enchaladas, beans, rice, and salad. They were full and asked me not to bother with a big meal the next time they came, so I didn't and they got hungery. I think their request for no lunch must have been just an attempt at politeness. So I heated up some chicken nuggets and served them with orange slices. They were grateful. When they came again, I fixed b.b.q. ribs, wild rice, and broccoii. This week they are going to get a hearty beef and vegetable stew with french bread. These men need and deserve no less than a good meal as a token of thanks for all the Christian love they are demonstrating to me. It is my version of the harvest table.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Grandpa draws ...and so do I

Here is a new blog with some drawings from Richard and our 15 year old grand daughter Nicole. The link will always be on my links too!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Progress in the closet

I have sorted, folded, stacked, and in some cases discarded fabric for the better part of 2 days now. The 5 wrap-around shelves are nearly filled. Woven fabic is on shelves to the left. Knit fabric (most of it from the 70's & early 80's) is on the 3 shelves straight ahead. Scraps, projects in progress, yarn, and lace are to the right. Batting is on the top, center shelf and boxes filled with fake fue for stuffed animals, clothing with reusable fabric, and old draperies take up most of the other space. Can you believe it? I actually have almost 2 feet of empty shelving left over. I had to come up for fresh air and water several times today. The dust from 30 year old cardboard boxes was getting to me. Tomarrow I need to haul all of them out to the recycle bin. It is quite a stack of cardboard. There are only a few of the empty boxes worth keeping and I'm sure it won't take long to fill them up. I have a whole room full of odds and ends stacked in the furnace room that are dying to be sorted. The guys will hopefully finish the floor and sheetrock next Tuesday. Then all I have to do is paint, lay tile, and move furniture in, a piece of cake, ooh.

Early Start

We have had a couple of beautiful afternoons here in Oregon. Yesterday Shelley came by to get some garlic starts for her planting beds and ended up spending a few hours helping her dad in our garden. As you can see from the photos, we have the beinnings of a great salad already growing. I did get the peas planted on Tuesday but it is encouraging to see a litttle green and not just seed this early in the season. Shelley dug up and transplanted a lot of our garlic and some perenial flowers for me and took home enough starts to more than fill her beds. While she was doing that, Richard started pruning the grape vines. Those haven't been pruned for about 3 years, so really need it bad. He is outside again this afternoon working some more on that project. It is supposed to rain the rest of the week, so you have to get the outside work done while the sun sines.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Harsh Reality

Today I tacked taping and muding the sewing room closet ceiling. What a kick in the pants I got. The reality of age and what it brings just keeps reminding me that I can no longer do what I have always done with ease. Today it was mudding that ceiling. What will it be tomarrow? Yes, I know my hand and wrist have been bothering me over the past couple weeks, but the harsh pain has subsided and the swelling has disappeared. Even so, when I tried to apply the mud, I could not put enough pressure to the knife to spread a thin, even layer. It came out looking thick and uneven, even after sanding. Oh well, it is in the closet. No one but me will ever see it. I can take solice in the fact that the wall patches I put on came out fine. Maybe it has more to do with applying pressure while reaching over my head. Unfortunately it means that the guys will need to do the mudding of the new ceiling in the room itself. But I still have hopes that I can handle the painting. At least I'll give it a try. Irregardless of what next week brings, I start putting fabic away tomarrow.

I have a closet

When I returned home from bible study yesterday there were 5 men working in my basement. That is an increase of 1 over last week's number and made everything a bit crowded. My storage closet is all but finished. I will need to tape and "mud" the ceiling toay and then I can actually start putting fabric away. I am so very excited about that aspect.
The guys have accomplished a great deal this week. They got the plastic underlay down on my sewing room floor and about half of the sub-structure and plywood flooring in place. They will probably finish up next Tuesday. I will do the "finish" work. This includes mudding and painting. I'm not sure about floor covering. Guess I'll have to wait and see. The point is that there is a lot more to remodeling an old basement room than just thowing up a few sheets of plywood and sheet rock. So if I can take a little of the burden off the guy's shoulders by doing some of the finish work, I am glad to do so. After all, it was the heavy work I really needed help with and they have provided that. Is my impatience showing yet? The guys already have plans to help out someone else. An older couple (late 80s & early 90s) with some landscape and roofing chores. Praise God, I guess my project hasn't discouraged them. They seem to be tired physically, but energized emotionally. These men are all retired and it does them a world of good to be able to contribute in a meaningful way.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Looking ahead - A week in the making

Today is bright blue and shining. It actually looks and feels more like spring than winter. Could our friend the groundhog be mistaken? He predicted 6 more weeeks of winter. But then the weatherman forecast rain for all this week (today excluded). We will see. In the mean time, I will enjoy the sun. Peas and spinach go in the ground this week, regardless of rain, sun, or snow.
On Thursday, I sent a small chocolate cake in the shape of a heart home with each of the men working on my basement. They were meant as a token of appreciation from me to their wives. I got some interesting stories on the subject at church this morning. Two said that they had shared theirs, one that his wife eaten the whole thing, and one forgot to give it to his wife until today. Sounds strangely like a normal bell curve of averages to me. Yes, I kept one for Richard and I to share yesterday. Evidently all the men had a really nice Valentine's Day with their loved ones. That was, after all, the important thing, not to neglect their own wives to do something for me. These same guys and perhaps some additional workers will be here again on Tuesday morning. I will be at bible study till around 11:15. But I have promised them ribs and ribs they shall have. The ribs will go into the roaster oven tomarrow morning.
I am getting a little anxious about the bid for construction on my master bath. I'll give the remodeler until Wednesday to submit it and then if it hasn't come, I guess I'll have to call and find out what the hold up is. It is getting close to 4 weeks since he was last here to take measurements. It is about 2 months before he gets started on the project and I need time to study the bid and decide how to proceed. If I need to get another bid, it must be soon. Remodelers get pretty busy in the spring and summer and it can be hard to get on their schedules.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Where the money is

Today Rick, our son suggested that some of his dad's cartoons/drawings be added to our blog. Why had we not done this before? It is a great idea. So here is the first instalment. I think we can all relate to this sentiment.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Time to Get Real

OK, I admit it. I am a more than a little disappointed. The guys showed up as scheduled this morning. They worked hard and accomplished a fair amount of tasks. The electrical has been re-done, all the bracing and most of the shelves for the closet have been cut and fitted, the wall between the closet and the furnace room is is in, and some of the bracing for the false floor have been put in place. But let's face it. I had set my heart on being able to get in there this weekend and put fabric away on those shelves. It is not going to happen. The shelves just are not yet ready to receive it.
Anyone who has lived through a remodel knows how I feel You anticipate based on preliminary timetables and things always take longer, and longer, and mabe even longer. The point is, they do eventually get there. This will too. I will have to be patient. I must say, everything is shaping up. I will have a lot more light. There is now a wall switch instead of a pull cord to the closet light and so many other small changes for the better. Yes, I am excited. Praise God for willing spirits that also have working hands.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

At your request

Amy has a blog entitled "Hungry For Love". On it she published quick, nutriceous, and inexpensive meal options collected from her readers. When there are sufficient recipes contributed, she will publish a cook book, the proceeds of which will go to help feed hingery children. She has been asking for certain recipes from me for quite some time so here goes.
1 dozen corn tortillas
1/2 cup oil
2 cups Colby or Cheddar cheese
1 #2 can enchalada sauce (1 1/2 c)
1 cup chopped green onions (bulb onions may be substituted)
All ingredients must be laid out ahead of preparation in an assembly line. (tortillas, hot oil, enchalada sauce, baking dish, chopped onions, grated cheese). Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a heavy skillet, heat enough oil (about 1/4 c) to soften corn tortillas. When oil is hot, place one tortilla at a time in the oil, turn immediately and then remove. (If left in oil, they will become crisp and difficult to work with.) If making more than a dozen, additional oil may need to be added periodically.
Dip the softened tortilla in enchalada sause and place in baking dish.
Fill with mixture of onion and cheese and roll to enclose them.
Repeat until all are in baking dish. Sprinkle remaining onion and cheese over top and cover with remaining sauce.
Bake about 30 min or until cheese is melted and sauce has all soaked into enchaladas.
Serve hot over bed of lettuce.
Place short ribs in crock pot, roaster oven, or oven (may need to cover with foil) set at 250 degrees for 8 hours, checking periodically to make sure they do not dry out.
Mix 1 cup brown sugar (or Slenda brown sugar substitute), 1/2 cup catsup, and 1/4 c yellow mustard. Baste ribs and return to 400 degree oven for about 2 hours, turning once.
Cube inexpensive cut of beef (chuck or 7 bone roast) and dredge in flour. Braze in hot oil to seal juices. Place in crock pot with 6 cubes beef boullion, a little black pepper, and a minimum of 3 quarts water (bouillon cubes already contain salt).
Add 1 cup each, large chuncks of hard vegetables (carrots, potatoes, celery) along with a large onion (in chuncks) and 3 cloves garlic.
Cook at high setting until tender (5-6 hours).
Add 2 Table spoons Worchester sauce and quick cooking frozen peas (about 1 cup). Continue cooking for another 1/2 hour.
Mix 2 Tablespoons flour in 1 cup cold water and add to stew. Mix in to form gravy. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes (gives the flour time to cook).
Serve with hot bread or biscuits.
This is the simplest soup to make.
1 large package (1 lb) split peas
4 quarts of water
a large chopped onion
2 large chopped (rounds) carrots
1 teaspoon salt
ham bone, hock, or 1/4 lb ham meat
Add all ingredients to a crock pot and cook on low for about 8 hours
Note: When done, the meat will be falling off the bone. If soup is a bit thin, let stand and it will thicken. If too thick, add a little milk.
Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Timetables & Schedules

As I write this, four men from church are busily working on my sewing room. Four men in one small space (the closet ) is a bit much, but they are working out what each will do. One is moving some electrical switches, two are measuring and cutting, and the fourth is hauling and carrying. They had originally planned on coming back on Saturday after the men's breakfast to tackle putting in the false floor and the new ceiling. However, on Sunday I reminded them that this coming Saturday is Valentines Day and they should not neglect their wives to focus on doing something for me. They have decided to come back here on Thursday this week and finish up next Tuesday instead. I am very glad for this schedule change. I consider the wives of these men to be friends and I would like to keep it that way.
Today I served these workers cheese enchaladas, rice, and beans for lunch. Next Tuesday they will get ribs. It is the least I can do to express my gratitude for their gift of a sewing room. They weren't expecting this, but seemed pleased with the arrangement.
My hand is still tender, but a whole lot better than it has been. Thank you for your prayers on my behalf.
Tomarrow morning I have an appointment to complete our tax forms. It is free for seniors, provided by retired accountants and tax preparers who volunteer thier services. I have all the paperwork ready and will be glad to get it out of the way. It is just one thing on my schedule that eats at me every year until completed. Even though we don't make enough to pay taxes, don't have any withholdings, and therefore don't expect to get anything back, it is still wise to have financial documentation. Then too, only because we filed last year, did we qualify to receive a stimulous payment of $600. I anticipate a repeat of that for this year. I wish they would cut bacl on the beaurocracy and just add a bit to our monthly social security, but that won't happen.

Monday, February 9, 2009


You have all heard the saying that "you never know how important something is until you no longer have it". This is especially true of your hands. Over the years my hands have painted, nursed, prepared food, cleaned, gardened, sewn, written, and performed so many more funtions. They have served me well, perhaps too weel. I have taken them for granted and now they are worn out. The joints are riddled with arthritis and they are in pain. I can not even hold a tooth brush in the normal way. The joints of my right forefinger especially are swollen and I am unable to apply pressure of any kind. Just another sign of age. Yes, I have iced it. Yes, I have taken anti-inflamitory medication. They make the condition tolerable, if not functional. But using the hands without that particular finger is at best, doable. It is awkward to say the least. It's something of a claw effect, not very dainty or efficient.
I'm sure you have heard someone older express the thought that getting old is not for sissies. Today I heartily concur. And while I expect to spend many hours making comforters and doing long-overdue mending when my revamped sewing room is completed, I also expect that the simple act of threading my machine will take some innovation. Don't expect any hand sewn applique or beading.
Please pray that this newest flareup of arthitis will be a temperary setback to long awaited pleasures. Seems Satan always has to throw in a bit bit of pain to offset our joy.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Birthday

Today is Sarah's 6th birthday. Can it really be almost 2 years ago that we traveled to China to catch this illusive butterfly? Sarah is our youngest granddaughter, adopted by Amy and Juergen from Nanjing in April 2007. A trip I was privileged to share. Seen here at age 4, Sarah is truly the image of an Asian princess. Our butterfly princess. Happy birthday Sarah. Our birthday blessing is that you may grow in stature and love for God and your fellow man. May you someday lavish that love upon a dry and thirsting world, just as your forever family offers our love to you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

narrow minds & encouragement

Our granddaughter Nicole is gifted in so many areas, including art. She has demonstarated her many abilities both in and out of school for many years. When she was in pre-school she had some of her art displayed on the internet, has written and illistrated several children's books, and sold a serious original painting for charity. Her appreciation for art is not limited to any one form. But it seems that her art teacher in school does not share this attitude. Nicole was recently told that cartoons are "stupid". OK, isn't that the idea? Cartoons are an exagerated expression of reality designed to make us laugh. In my oppinion, more at ourselves than anything else. What a wonderful way to release stress. Laughter is a gift. Stupid? Yes, but stupid in a very good way. Thank God Nicole is secure enough in who she is and what she does to let narrow minded comments of others role off her back. On the other hand, if her teacher is promoting a certain art form, Nicole should practice that form for school. But she should never give up what makes her happy just in order to fit into a square box artificially created by someone else.
Thomas was adopted from Thailand when he was nearly 7 years old. He has suffered from feelings of "not fitting in" and "not being able to live up to" the expectations of the ridgid society in which he lives (Germany). Thomas also has had a great deal of difficuly establishing friends. Part of this is based on language, part on appearances (Asian in an Arian community), and part on his inate insecurities. These insecurities were the result of not having a family of his own till adopted as an older child, kind of like a ferrel cat. For years Thomas' grades and social interaction with class mates was poor. But he is now in a school that has many international students. It was not an overnight change, but his most recent report card reflects the result of long hard months of slow change. Yesterday Thomas brought home a very good report card. Way to go, we are so proud of you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


About a month ago I shared with you the blessing heaped upon me by the men of our church. They offered to remodel my basement sewing room. Since that time they have come on 3 different occasions to measure, photograph, and ask questions about the space. Plans have been made and dates set for the completion of the project. I have emptied the room and closet of what seems like a ton of fabric, furniture and storage boxes. It is ready. On Tuesday next week 3 men will replace a closet wall to isolate that space from the gas-fired boiler in an adjacent room, put the raised floor in that area, and build shelving for my fabric. Then on the 14th they will return and complete the project. They will spend 2 more days rebuilding the closet that holds our well so that the window will open, move an electrical plug so it will be more accessible to my sewing machine, construct a false floor of pressure treated lumber and flooring materials, and replace the ceiling that was torn up years ago when we had the house rewired.
We offered to at least pay for the materials, but they would have none of it. They are taking a tax-deductable collection to cover this as a home missions project. You can bet these workers will get a great lunch out of this.
I have once again been reminded that you just can not out give the Lord. Just under 2 years ago I initiated the Caring and Helping Hands group at church. Since then the group has provided assistance and comfort to hundreds of people in untold ways. Being able to co-ordinate this effort has in itself been a tremendous gift to me. But I honestly do think that I have received more on an individual basis than any other one person among them. One man cleaned out my gutters, 2 others repaired some electrical and outlets and lighting, a lady picked up my house when I was expecting company and my knee was injured, another brought groceries inside, one man pruned our apple trees 2 years in a row, and I have received countless cards and calls of encouragement. Just another confirmation of this ancient promise from God that you can not outgive Him. It really is such a humbling reality.
Richard too, gives what he has. While he can no longer cut lawns, prune trees, and provide physical helps to others, he still has much to offer. He has a great deal of know how that others can draw from and as a cartoonist, he spends hours on end sketching. These renderings are given to a lady at church who then sends them to our troops serving abroad. A funny cartoon to make a soldier laugh in the midst of their lonely and strssful existance is a tremendous gift. Thank you Jesus. Thank you from the depths of my soul for both opportunities to help and blessings received. You may choose to use people, but and you alone are our provider, especially in time of need. I love you so very much. Thank you is inadequite. My hope is that both Richard and I can continue to pass along your blessings so that all who receive, will be motivated to do likewise.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Early Planting

Our planting beds are about 15 feet long. It was so nice out this morning that I weeded and loosened the soil in about half of this one. I will finish the other half tomarrow afternoon. Some of this bed contains perenial plants (asparigus, flowers, etc), so it took a little effort to determine what was what. Maybe I need to keep a journal or at least a chart of what is planted where. I really like being able to sit on the edge of the blocks while I work. Getting down on the ground (actually, more the getting up again) is becoming difficult with my arthritic knees.
I also pruned the rasberries and loosened the soil around them. Rasberries produce fruit on 2 year old canes. This time of year you can see where last years fruit has been. This makes it easy to determine the older canes and prune them down. Not only does this leave more room for the new growth, but also eliminates a place for harmful insects to breed.
In weeding my one bed, I discovered that there were actually several lettuce starts clumped together. I dug part of them up and spread them out. I also found that I have plenty of both bush and sugar pod pea seed. All I need buy right now is spinach. I'll space the planting of new lettuce out to about every 3 weeks. That puts the next planting to around the last week in February. By then, all the beds will be ready for planting. New starts of tender vegies will be growing in the greenhouse, and I will be concentrating more on the flower beds.
Richard is getting antcy about getting outdoors too. The only thing that has stopped him till now has been the cold. He has poor cuirculation. But with the warmer air, he will be doing some pruning of fruit trees using a pole pruner and roses using hand pruners. This is something I find difficult to do. I have far less strength in my hands and wrists than he does. Besides, he really enjoys pruning as long as I do the clean up.


Amy corrected me on a couple of things in my last post. First, Jess is actually 17. Where does the time go?Am I getting forgetful? Probably. The other correction is the actual name of the treatment Jess would have in Cyprus. It is called hyperbaric oxygen theropy. The idea is the same as I described, but it is important to be correct on this so that if anyone wants to look it up they can get the right information. Most importantly is the hope that this treatment actually works. That is where I will focus my prayers.
Today is a lovely winter day in Oregon. I may try to get some work done outside. Shelley evidently spent several hours in her garden yesterday and has inspired me. There is a great deal of clean up to be done before planting can begin. I have already cleared debris from the vegetable beds, but the soil still needs to be weeded and tilled before seeds can be planted. Cool weather plants can be sown directly this month. They include spinach, peas, and lettuce. Sounds like the makings of a great salad to me. There are actually several early lettuces in one of the beds, the product of scattered left over seed last fall. Along with green onions and garlic, it makes a great head start to build on.