Mayfern Remodel: Oct-Nov

Even though it seems like we’ve been focusing on the new house, we’ve still been working on and off on the Mayfern house.  In late October we hired Color Works to paint the outside of the house, which after a brief scare when I stopped by the house and saw patches of blue the same color of the “dreaded blue room” (which luckily was just primer) and a slight drying problem was finished early in November.

HouseFrantic picture I e-mailed James from my phone, hoping this wasn’t the color he had agreed to!

The same company was then to start work on the inside of the house, painting every room except the old office and the yellow bathroom and fixing the drywall in the garage… except they didn’t.  We weren’t sure if they were busy working outside while the weather was still nice or what, but they didn’t come and in all honesty we didn’t push the issue much, except for wanting our trash can back!  They had borrowed our trash can when they were painting the outside of the house and had never returned it! Anyway, we finally started to get antsy and decided to look at what to do about the carpet.

The current carpet was pretty old and dirty, so we knew it was going to have to come up, but when we first started looking at what was under it we wonder if we might have hardwood floors underneath some of it. The office was hardwood (scratched up and needing repairs), but it gave us some idea of what the other rooms might have under the carpet. I was pushing for the hardwood if they were there, while James was pushing for carpet and even went as far as having someone come out to give us an estimate on re-carpeting the whole house (except for the bathrooms, kitchen, and office).  Before deciding one way or the other, James decided to pull out all the carpet in the house to see what was there and to save us money if we ended up going with carpet (by pulling the old carpet out himself he was going to save us @$300).  What he found was amazing… there was hardwood under ALL the carpet, including the bedrooms, hallway, living room, and blue room!  With all this hardwood exposed we decided to go ahead and have someone come out to give us an estimate on refinishing the floors.  Lane was the gentleman who came out and it was obvious from the get-go that he knew what he was talking about.  He looked everything over and assured us that yes all of the floors were in good enough shape to re-finish.  His estimate was about $600 higher than the carpet, but considering that was including an extra room, Lane would pull up all the tack strips and staples himself, and that once refinished the floors would last the lifetime of the house, James was convinced and we gave him the go ahead to get started the very next day!

Lane and his assistant started the Friday before Thanksgiving and finished the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which we didn’t think was bad at all!  We met him back at the house the day after he put the last coat on and wow did it look different! The floors really looked good and provided a completely different atmosphere to the house, even without it the walls being painted or the house cleaned up!  Below are pictures showing the transition of the floors!

With the most of the floors finished, we focused back on the walls.  James called Color Works Monday morning and found out even though they hadn’t returned my phone call letting them know the floors were being refinished and could they come back on December 1st, they were planning on starting the next day!  The walls are supposed to be done in a neutral beige/tan shade that should complement the new floors beautifully!

After the walls get finished there is still a lot of work to be done including: getting everything else of ours out of the house/garage/shed, cleaning (!), fixing the baseboard in the blue room, putting new flooring down in the kitchen and master bathroom, using some touch-up stain to freshen up the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, putting on a new back porch door, and potentially getting a new shower or doing a really good clean/fix job on the old one. Hopefully this won’t keep us “too” busy or take “too” long because we really need to get the house on the market and sold!

Thanksgiving Weekend

Wednesday

We were planning on heading straight to Kewanee Wednesday after work, but we ended making a few stops along the way.  We had to pick up pictures from Wal-Mart in Decatur (Grandma Davis’ “big tree” picture as well as a few others), then to the old house to adjust the thermostat and check out the progress on the floors, then to get something to eat, and last to get James a turtle sundae from Culvers.  After all those stops, we managed to get to my parents around 8:30  P.M.

Once we got there, we surprised Grandma with an 8X10 of the “big tree” and then a small photo album of miscellaneous pictures of the family.

She really seemed to enjoy the pictures a lot, putting the 8X10 up in her bedroom and telling us she was going to take the photo album with her tomorrow to show everyone.  I then set to work making cherry delight and peanut butter cup pie for Thanksgiving, while James hooked up the router we brought to replace my mom’s old wore out one.

Thursday (Thanksgiving)

Thanksgiving morning we were up pretty early, got dressed, and then helped get things ready for dinner.  This year was the K Jones’ (i.e., the Jones’ from Kona’s side) which ended up being Grandpa & Grandma Jones, Linda & John (and John’s mom Betty), Deb & Glen, my Mom & Dad, and me & James.  Everyone started showing up shortly before 11AM and it was nice to eat appetizers and talk with everyone while dinner was finished up.

Yet, since we weren’t suppose to eat until 1PM (and it had been a long day Wednesday and early morning Thursday), James and I ended up crashing on the couch BEFORE we even sat down to dinner!!

Crashed at Thanksgiving

Pretty funny since people normally don’t crash until after dinner!  Luckily we woke up a little before dinner was ready and were able to help with a few last minute details before it was time to eat!

Since we were a relatively small group, we were able to all sit at the same table and that made for some fun dinner time conversation.  There was plenty of great food and the desserts were even better!  For ten people we had: Pumpkin, Cherry, Peach, Raspberry, and Peanut Butter Cup Pie, Cherry Dessert, and Thumb print cookies!  Almost more dessert than we had food!  James focused on the Cherry Delight (which unfortunately hadn’t set right and was rather runny), while I decided to try a little bit each of the Pumpkin, Peach, Raspberry, & Peanut Butter Cup pies! After dessert and picking up the kitchen everyone talked a bit more before it was time to go.

Grandpa & Grandma stayed the longest, relaxing in the front sitting room and chatting before eventually needing to leave.  Shortly after, Uncle Rob brought Grandma Davis home (the Davis & Koehler side of the family had celebrated at Nancy’s house) and briefly stayed for some pie and to talk with my dad.

While it had been a long day, James and I decided to go see a movie uptown in Kewanee.  Our options were pretty limited (Old Dogs and Planet 51), so we decided to see Old Dogs since that looked the best out of the two.  It ended up being a really funny movie and there were a couple of times I was laughing so hard I was crying! Strangely enough we found out the next day that Ty & Austin had also gone to see Old Dogs Thursday night as well and also enjoyed it a lot more than they thought they would.  When we got back from the movie, James helped me go through the Black Friday ads so I’d be ready first thing in the morning!  There were some pretty good deals, but nothing I “had” to have.

Friday

Friday morning, Mom and I got up and headed to Wal-Mart a little after 5AM (when the Black Friday deals started).  As we drove past Menards (which didn’t open until 6AM), the line of people waiting outside were already huge and we started to question our plan of going there directly after Wal-Mart.  We then really started to question our sanity as we pulled into Wal-Mart… the parking lot was packed (way more than last year) and inside the lines and the people were even worse.  I found a few things (only one thing that I had really wanted) and Mom got the printer she had wanted, so overall we didn’t do that bad.  Yet, as we went to check out it was a mad house.  The lines were almost to the back of the store and they didn’t seem to be moving at all.  We decided to try the house wares check out and it seemed like a good choice, except there was a credit card problem and the line wasn’t moving at all.  We then headed to lawn & garden, which did seem to be moving, yet before we could barely get in line a cashier came up to me to say that they were opening two new check outs at pharmacy.  Mom and I immediately headed that direction and were still third in line! Luckily the line moved pretty quickly and we were able to get checked out in no time.  Strangely enough, while this was going on, I was Facebooking back and forth with a HS friend of mine who was at Wal-Mart (the same one as us) with his Mom (who had seen me while they were standing in line up front).  It was funny to be going back and forth about the lines and people while standing in line!

Once we made it out of Wal-Mart, we decided to head to Farm & Fleet instead of Menards (it had just looked a little too crazy).  Farm & Fleet wasn’t any busier than is on a normal day, so it was a welcomed relief to be able to enjoy the Black Friday deals without the hustle and bustle of tons of people and the lines! We ended up not getting too much there, but were happy with what we ended up with.  By this time we thought maybe the craziness might have died down a little in Menards, so we headed over there just to be proven very wrong.  Menards was crazier than Wal-Mart had been! Mom and I went in and made a circuit of the store (as best as we could), running into a few people we had ran into last Black Friday at Menards, and ultimately deciding there was nothing there worth waiting that long in line for (the lines stretched back to the end of the building and were wrapping around even!).  We did however briefly stop at Dollar General for a few things before heading home for a much needed bathroom break!

After the bathroom break we then headed out to Walgreens.  I really wanted some of the big jar candles that were on sale 3/$8.99 since I’ve been burning a lot more candles in the new house since it got colder.  The price had been better at Menards, but the line just didn’t seem worth it! Once we got to Walgreens, I went straight for the candles and hit immediate pay dirt! When I moved in with James he had a candle whose scent was Cookie Crunch and I absolutely loved it, but didn’t know where he got it from or where to find it.  It’s now burned down to almost nothing, so I was hoping to find something at least kind of close to replace it, yet what I found at Walgreens was Cookie Crunch itself!!  I ended up getting three of just that scent, as well as six other candles in varying scents.  After picking up a few Black Friday days, we decided to call it a day!

On our way home we decided that even though we had a ton of leftover Thanksgiving dinner and desserts left, we’d stop and pick up donuts for breakfast!  We finally made it home, shared our donuts, and James & I watched Land of the Lost (with Will Ferrell). I wasn’t expecting much, but it ended up being so stupid it was funny.  We then started watching the animated movie, Up.  It was pretty cute, but before we could finish it, it was time for lunch, which was Hamballs (Yum) and then more leftover dessert! Yet, before getting dessert, James had to take off for his massage appointment.  While James got his massage, I got ready for my massage (my appointment was for 30 minutes after his finished), and then did a little work on the computer.  James got back to the house looking pretty relaxed and seemed to have enjoyed his massage even though it was only 50 minutes instead of the 60 we thought it would be.  I then finished up what I was doing and headed for my appointment.  I hadn’t had a massage since we were on our honeymoon, so I was more than ready for my turn!  It was a great massage and very relaxing, but similar to James, she only did 50 minutes.  Anyway, I’m not sure how I made the drive home because I was so relaxed and out of it from getting the massage and being up since 4:45 in the morning, but once I got there I crashed until after Mom got home from her massage appointment (hers was for a different place and an hour after mine was done).  We then heated up some leftovers and watched my dad play musical channels until he headed for bed.  We then finished watching Up, which was pretty good, but not as good as Land of the Lost.

Saturday

Saturday morning James, my mom, and I all headed to Peoria for the day.  Since Kristin (my Dad’s cousin) was having her 60th birthday part in Elmwood later that evening, Mom rode with us so she could meet up with Dad later that evening at the party.  We started the morning by a quick (and  yes it really was quick) trip to Talbot’s where both Mom and I found a few tops and James relaxed in the “husband chair” and read his book. The next store on our list was Casual Male: Big & Tall.  We’d noticed that James’ shirts fit him fine in the shoulders, but were just a little too short for comfort. Thus, instead of large shirts, I suggested large tall (L-T) shirts. Unfortunately this store didn’t carry L-T clothing, only XL-T or bigger (even though they advertised for it on the door even!), but the sales lady did suggest Burlington Coat Factory as a possibility.  On our way there we realized the time (almost 11AM) and decided lunch should be in order before anymore shopping.

Olive Garden is in the same area as Burlington and the rest of the stores we wanted to go to, so we decided it would be a good place to eat.  After a relaxing and delicious meal, we made a brief stop at Burlington (absolutely nothing there) before heading to Kohl’s.  After scouring the entire men’s section at Kohl’s we finally found two short sleeve and three long sleeve (yes long sleeve!) polo shirts that were the right size and color.  We then went through the women’s section with mom and I both finding some pants and a few shirts before heading to the front to check out. Luckily we had been doing good on time because the movie we wanted to see, 2012, started at 1pm at it was about 20 till when we got done at Kohl’s.  2012 was a pretty long movie at 158 minutes (i.e., 2 hours and 38 minutes) plus about 15 minutes of previews, yet we all really enjoyed seeing the destruction of the world and humanity!

After the movie, we were still doing pretty good on time (the party didn’t start until 5PM), so we decided some dessert was in order!  James stopped by Cold Stone for Mom and I, and then ran over to Culver’s for his recent favorite, Turtle Sundae.  As James finished his ice cream, Mom and I ran into Sam’s for some of our favorite cocoa covered almonds.  The lines were a bit crazy, but we finally got checked out and back to the car so we could start heading to the party.  We took some scenic back roads that got us there a little too early, so we decided to do a little sightseeing before actually stopping. On our mini-adventure, we came across a group of houses, other larger buildings, and a giant golf ball looking structure all contained within a barbed-wire fence.  We had no idea what any of it was, but later at the party we found out it was the Hannah City Work Camp (Illinois Department of Corrections) that was closed down in 2002 and was recently acquired by Peoria County.  We still weren’t sure what the golf ball structure was, but after a little research afterwards I found out it provides long range radar for planes as well as collecting weather data.

Once we were done with our brief tour, we headed back towards the party and as we pulled up and were getting out of the car, my cousin Carrie, her husband Mark, and their little boy Jack pulled in as well!  We all walked in together and were quickly engulfed the festivities.  There were over 30 people there, tons of food, and three birthday cakes!!  It was great to see and talk to family from out of town, but after spending more time than I meant to (it was hard to leave!), we headed back towards home after our long Thanksgiving weekend!

Our First Flood

… albeit a small one.

The previous owner had warned us that in the spring, the water rises out of the creek and covers the the land to the south of the house.  When we purchased the house on October 15, there had been a lot of rain and we were worried that it might have flooded the night before, but he assured us at the closing that there was nothing to worry about.  He was right.

There were a couple of more times with all the rain that the creek level got higher and higher, but it never got out of its banks, until November 17.

When I woke up the morning of November 17, I went out to the creek and took some pictures.

The creek was just barely overflowing its banks, but it was out.  Our first flood in the new house.  Kona is all worried about the spring, when the real rains come.  I think the previous owner said that it didn’t cover the bridge, but it did go over the driveway leading up to the bridge.

The Tractor!

When James went back to Gibson City Thursday to pay for the tractor they told him it would get delivered either Friday or Saturday.  It wasn’t there when we got home Friday (much to James’ disappointment), so we knew Saturday was the day, but we didn’t know what time!  We got up pretty early and James went to the office to work on the computer… which also happens to have a perfect view of the lane coming up to the house!  All morning I kept finding him looking out towards the lane patiently waiting for his tractor to get delivered.

Around lunch time, my friend Angie came over to see the new house and hang out for a while.  James made some delicious pork chops for lunch and by the time we were done eating and talking it was almost 2pm and still no tractor.  Yet, just as we finished cleaning up from lunch James yelled out, “The tractor is here”!  He went out the garage door to meet the guy and I grabbed the camera off the kitchen counter (where James had put it this morning for easy access), and Angie and I went outside to enjoy watching James with his tractor!

Once he got the hang of it, James quickly got to work trying to pick up the hedge-apples all over the side yard and then filling some of the holes throughout the yard.  He even let me get up on it and play around a little bit!

After filling a couple of holes, James decided to focus on mowing, so we took off the front-end loader and he was off and mowing.  Angie and I went inside to catch up and James continued to mow until after it was dark out.  I could look out the window and see the headlights of the tractor way out at the end of the property past the pine trees.  In fact, James didn’t come back in until he was close to running out of fuel!  This was probably for the best because it was getting close to dinner and he had been out there for quite a while.  I made dinner while James and Angie tried to get the refrigerator evenly balanced for optimal ice making, and then afterwords we ended up playing around with the fireplace trying to get the blower to work right.  It finally came on, but I’m not sure if we know exactly how it works!

Bookcases!!

As mentioned in the previous post, we got two of the bookcases put together Wednesday night and were very impressed with the ease of getting them together and their overall quality.  Thursday morning while I was getting my breakfast ready, James went downstairs and in 15 minutes had another one of the bookcases completely put together and put in place on the wall!  I went down to check it out before I went to work and immediately said something to the effect that it was going to be a “tight” squeeze to get all the bookcases against the north wall like we had planned.  James got out the tape measure and measured it again and told me not to worry we had a couple of inches or so before we’d cover the light switch.

Later that afternoon, I got an e-mail from James saying, “Told you there was plenty of room :)” with the following picture attached (he didn’t include the second picture on the e-mail, but I wanted to include it here as well)!

While it was nice to see that the bookcases did indeed fit, I was especially excited because the picture meant James finished putting together the bookcases and I could go home and start filling them!!!

As soon as I got home I rushed downstairs and was very impressed!  James had the bookcases all put together and secured to the wall (because of their height, Ikea suggested attaching them to the wall to prevent them falling over).  I quickly made dinner and got everything cleaned up, so I could go downstairs and start working!

I started with the boardgames and after about 10 minutes James came down and started offering suggestions of how to arrange them to make them all fit and look the best.  We quickly got them in the eastern bookcase and wow did it look good!  Much better than when he had them stored in the kitchen cabinets and hallway closet in the old house!!

We then went to work on filling the rest of the shelves.  We decided James should have the top shelves because he is a “little” bit taller than me and can actually see and reach books on the top shelves, and I’d take the lower ones.  We both started with our paperbacks and overall I was very happy that we were able to buy the extra shelves which made it possible to really utilize the bookcases for paperbacks (most bookcases have the shelves spaced too far apart).  James put his books mostly in alphabetical order by author (he’ll go back later and organize them by series/publication date), while I did alphabetical order by author and then by title of the book.  It was amazing to see all of our books actually being put up so we can see them and easily find/access them!

After getting our paperbacks up, I kept going with some of my hardback books, old text books (the ones I use are upstairs in the office bookcase), and then most of my children’s books.  I collect children’s books as I find them (i.e., garage sales, used book stores, etc…) and was also lucky enough to get a lot of my Grandma Davis’ books from her daycare center and some of my Grandma & Grandpa Jones’ children’s books, so needless to say I have a good number of children and young adult books.

Anyway, after a lot of sorting and organizing we finally got our books up and the bookcases finished!!! I love reading and have collected a lot of books over the years and for me this was the first time I had ever seen all of my books displayed!! Very very cool!!  I finished everything up with some pictures here and there, and our project was DONE!

As if this wasn’t enough, James also spent his day going back to buy the tractor (it might get delivered Friday!!) as well as grading and finishing up some other things he had been wanting to get done in the storage rooms.  Needless to say, he was pretty tired and sore when we went to bed!

Trip to Ikea

Wednesday Richland was closed because of Veterans Day, so James and I decided to take a trip to the Ikea store up by Chicago.  We had been searching for bookcases since we bought the house and hadn’t had any luck until I saw one of our friends’ Facebook post taking about loving her new Ikea bookcase.  We looked online and Ikea had not only a good selection of bookcases, but the ability to build and customize your own bookcase plan online!

Using this planning feature, James and I were able to completely plan and design which combination of bookcases we wanted/needed for the space we were trying to fill (which was the northern wall and a small part of the eastern wall of the lower level).

Our day started pretty well with us making it out of the house by about 8:30AM and us feeling pretty good since it was our four month wedding anniversary and we were getting to spend it having fun together.  We decided to meander towards the north, taking IL-48 to IL-54 until we hit Dwight and I55.  As we traveled along IL-54 through Farmer City, James mentioned that he thought there was a Tractor dealership in the area named Kuhns, but he wasn’t sure where.  We kept going and about 20 minutes later, as we were almost through Gibson City, we saw Kuhns Equipment Company.  James asked if we should stop and I said sure why not, we weren’t on a schedule or anything, so we might as well browse.  Less than 20 minutes [later we decided it was probably less than 15 minutes] later, James said to John (the sales person we had been talking to), “What do we need to do to make this happen today?”!  Needless to say the guy was a little taken aback that this couple walked in for the first time, looked around, and decided to buy a $10,000 tractor in less than 20 minutes!  Unfortunately they only took cash or check, so James arranged to come back the next morning with a check and John said they should be able to deliver the tractor this Saturday!

So what kind of tractor is it?  A Massey-Ferguson GC-2300 with a bucket and mower!  We were both impressed with the price, quality of the tractor, and that it came with the implements we needed the most!

So about half an hour after we pulled in the Kuhns lot, we pulled back out as almost owners of a tractor!  We continued along our way, briefly stopping for some lunch and gas in Dwight before getting on the interstate and heading towards Ikea!

I thought we were going to the Ikea store in Bolingbrook, but as I saw the sign and started getting excited, James just kept driving, right on past the store!!  I asked where we were going and he said, “Ikea”.  That’s when I knew he had decided on going the extra 40 miles past the Bolingbrook Ikea to the Schaumburg Ikea… which, just happens to be right by The Container Store and Woodfield Mall!  We finally made it to the Ikea store and wow was I impressed with the size.  It was so huge it had its own food court! We wandered around looking at everything, especially at the bookcases we were planning on getting.  We looked them over quite a bit to make sure they were what we really wanted, but the quality, size, and color seemed to be exactly what we wanted.  We had already printed off everything we needed from when James planned it out online, so after we finished browsing, we went downstairs to the warehouse/checkout area to pick everything up.

Overall it was a pretty easy to understand system and we were doing just fine finding all the pieces we needed until we went to get the bookcase extension for the two smaller bookcases.  Before we left in the morning, James had double checked and the Schaumburg Ikea had been showing four of them in the color we needed, but now there weren’t any!  This really messed up what we were trying to do because we had the extensions for the bigger bookcases, but without the extensions for the smaller ones it would have looked very funny.  We found an employee and asked them to double check that there weren’t any and even called the Bolingbrook store, yet there were none to be found.  We decided to forgo all of the extensions for the time being and just get the bookcases, figuring that sometime in the next couple of months we could come back and get the extensions if we decided if still really wanted them.

** James: We went to the Schaumburg Ikea so we could get the bookcase extensions, not so we could go to the Container Store.  That was just an added bonus for Kona rather than having to drive over to Oak Brook, but not worth the 40 extra miles.  So, to get there and them not have the 4 extensions was very disappointing.  On Sunday, November 15, the Ikea website still listed 4 in stock in Schaumburg.  That means that they think they still have four when they only have one and so they won’t order any more since they still have some in stock, although they don’t.

After waiting in line for what felt like forever, we finally checked out and headed to the loading area to get our new bookcases in the car!  Before we even decided to drive to Chicago, James had already looked up the measurements of the bookcases and measured the room in the car, so he knew that to get everything to fit he would have to put the front passenger seat down. This meant that once we got everything loaded and secured, I got to spend the rest of the day riding in the backseat behind James!

After leaving Ikea, we then went to The Container Store so I could get the small Tribeca boxes I wanted for the house.  I had already ordered two of them and had them shipped, but the shipping was pretty high for the cost of the boxes and after getting them I decided I wanted two more, so this was a perfect chance for me to get them.  We wandered around for a while with me oohing and aahing over all the different sizes and shapes of boxes, while James commented on the extremely high price of many of these “cardboard boxes”.

Overall, it had been a pretty successful day and we decided it was time to head home.  This time we stuck to the interstate, and as we got closer to Bloomington I commented that since it was getting late and was our anniversary if James wanted to go out to eat in Bloomington before heading home.  James thought it was a good idea and asked if I thought my Aunt Debbie would be at Shooters tonight.  I told him I didn’t know, but could check and upon finding out that she and Glen would both be there that evening, we decided to have dinner there with them.  We briefly stopped at the Bloomington Menards (missing our normal Forsyth sales assistant, Ben) to pick up a few things before heading over to Shooters. We enjoyed a nice meal and some good company at Shooters, catching up with what had been going on in everyone’s lives.  Also, surprisingly enough, Glen paid for our meal, which very unexpected, but very appreciated!

We got home around 7:30-7:45PM and unloaded the car directly into the downstairs to save making the trips up and down the stairs!  James then started working on building one of the bookcases just to see how hard it would be and I went upstairs to work on our bedroom (which I have been working on for the last week or so, trying to get everything organized and cleaned out).  After about 20 minutes, James called me down and he almost had the first bookcase completely put together.  He said it was really easy to do and that he was impressed with the quality of the bookcase.  Just as we were getting ready to celebrate the bookcase being completed, James realized he had put the top piece on backwards and had inadvertently nailed the back onto the “good side” of the wood.  Whoops!  He quickly got the wood turned around and while the nail holes were evident, they weren’t “that” bad.  He then got me to help put another bookcase together and even with me causing it to take a “little” longer than it should have, we still got it done in about 20 minutes!  Pretty impressive, especially given the high quality of the bookcases and that they are very solid!  No worries about having them “dip” in the middle because of the weight of the books!

Nature

Tuesday morning when James was in the Office working, he happened to glance out the window and see a really nice buck.  He was grazing between the trees in the front yard.

Unfortunately the septic guy pulled up the drive before James could get to the front door and take some better pictures.  Yet, I imagine we’ll have plenty of chances over the years to get some good pictures of the wildlife!

Later in the day, James also went out to get some pictures of the trees that still had leaves on them.  He really wants to figure out what types of trees we have,  so he figured if he took some pictures of them (especially close-ups of the leaves) he might be able to go through and categorize them.  He also got some really nice pictures of the fall colors while he was out and about!

Walkabout

Saturday, November 7, 2009, was beautiful.  It hit 71 degrees Fahrenheit in the afternoon and so I asked Kona if she wanted to walk about the property and enjoy the day.  This was after we had spent the morning grading tests and unpacking books, so it was good to get out.

As we stepped out the door, a truck was coming up the driveway.  They asked about a “moving sale” and Kona said, “I hope not!”  I guess the people at the other end of the lane are moving out (more on that later).  Then we started walking along the driveway and headed back into the part of the property we had been to before.  After going a dozen yards or so, I suggested we turn around and walk on the other side of the creek, so we crossed the bridge and took a look into our sinkhole.  This time, it was clear enough that you could see the bottom, and we estimated that it was about 3 or 4 feet deep.

Then I climbed up the dirt pile where the previous owner puts his yard refuse and burn pile from his nursery business and looked around.  There is a lot of dirt there, kind of makes you wonder why the guy had to dig up the yard to get dirt to fill in the holes from transplanting the trees.  Anyway, Kona decided to walk around the bottom of the hill along the creek and struggled to get through it.

We went a bit further and there were some blackberry or raspberry bushes.  I said blackberry because I like those better and Kona said raspberry because she likes those better.  Neither of us really know, we’ll have to wait until next summer to find out.  Not too long after that, we came across some honey locust trees that were blocking the path.  I went through, but Kona didn’t have such an easy time as I did.

Kona was wearing sweat pants and was a magnet for all kinds of cockleburs and other weeds.  We stopped several times to pull those off of her and then found that we really couldn’t get much further along the property without getting majorly scratched up, so we turned around.  As we walked back towards the main house, we turned and followed the property line towards the neighbor’s house and saw her outside with her kid.

They were indeed having a moving sale.  They had been renting the place since February, but the place is not in great shape and their first month’s heating bill had been $1500.  Wow!  Kona and I are glad our house is better built.  Although they had made a lot of improvements to the place, it really isn’t kept up by the manager and so it is a wise thing for them to move out.  I don’t envy the family that moves in, though.

Then we came back towards the house and started walking on the south side of the creek along the main portion of the property.  We had never been over there and decided that it would be difficult to get much past the fire pit because of the trees blocking the way.  There is also a drainage ditch coming off the field, so you won’t be able to drive anything through there.

We headed back, looked at some of the trees that still have leaves on them and tried to decide what kind of trees they were.  Kona found a stick that had a piece of paper on it labeled “New Bradford Pear” and as I did more research, it could have been, but I hope not.  Those trees are popular in the medians of roads but when an ice storm comes along, they explode.  They’re also short lived, but popular with people anyway.  There are either six or one of these trees in between the bridge and the house.  We’re not sure what kind they are, but there are two different kinds and we don’t know if either is a New Bradford Pear or all of those were harvested.  I do know that I need to find a different place to identify trees.  I did a search for “Illinois Tree Guide” and ended up at places that either had just the leaves or a picture of the tree that was taken in the winter so there were no leaves on the trees.  Neither one of which made it possible to identify the type of tree.

We finally came back to the back yard, where I hooked up the propane to the grill and we had steak for the first time in quite a while.  Kona wanted to know why we didn’t have steak more often.  I didn’t have a good answer other than she’s the one who buys the food.

James vs the Ladder

On Tuesday, October 27, I was working on wiring the network in the basement of the house so that we could have Internet throughout the house.  At some point, after Kona had arrived home from work, I was on the ladder, moving CAT-5e wire through the wiring staples when the leg of the ladder I was standing on gave way.  Ladders aren’t made to be stable with three legs and so it collapsed and gave way under me.  I hit my right arm on the pipes /water tank, the back of my head on the concrete wall, and my left leg on the ladder underneath me.

When the ladder broke, it a reinforcement rod nearly impaled my left inner thigh.  Luckily, I came out of the situation without any loss of blood, but with a nasty, nasty bruise on my leg and arm.  Strangely, my head was the only part that didn’t suffer real damage.

**Side note from Kona.  I was upstairs making dinner when I heard James call from downstairs, “Honey, could you come down here?”.  He sounded normal and like nothing was wrong and I thought he just wanted me to look at what he had been working on.  Yet, when I got down to where he was at, he was laying half on/half off the ladder and looked like he was hurting pretty bad.  I quickly tried to help get him off the ladder, but it was impaled so far through his shorts I couldn’t get it off of the shorts and instead had to get James out of his shorts to set him free. Once he was free I could see that he wasn’t bleeding from anywhere, but he had a huge bruise already forming up the back of his thigh, as well as bruises on his arms and legs.  He was pretty banged up!!  Below are some pictures of the bruise on his thigh and the evil ladder!

Since the ladder was wood and the fire pit had never been used (not even by the previous owner), we thought burning the ladder would be an appropriate way of disposing of it.  The following pictures chronicle James getting the fire going and then placing the ladder on top to be burnt!  As you can tell, he seemed to really get some enjoyment from the burning ladder!

So, what did James do after burning the ladder that collapsed and hurt him?  Decided to climb an even bigger ladder to try and fix some siding that had come up on the house (this was completely against my wishes after the most recent accident!).  Once he got up there he realized the problem was that wasps had built a nest behind the siding, so he had me grab the first thing handy, a screwdriver and a broom, and he used it to dig the wasps nest out of the siding and to then reposition everything back the way it should have been.  He then safely made his way down with no problems!

James then decided to empty the hot tub which had gotten partially filled from all the rain we’ve gotten lately (it hadn’t been set-up yet, so it had been empty).  When he lifted the lid we saw the Asian beetles had decided to take up residence in the hot tub.  There were quite a few piled up in one specific area, so James decided to dump the water out over the beetles! All in all, very satisfying!

Halloween

Halloween was spent mostly painting, painting, and more painting… I had decided the previous week that I was done painting, but the boring WHITE walls in the downstairs bathroom were driving me crazy so on one of our numerous trips to Menards during the week James helped me pick out a great shade of blue.  It isn’t nearly as dark as the navy blue on the bottom of the downstairs guest room walls, but is more of a deep colonial blue.

For some crazy reason I had it in my head that since the bathroom was so much smaller than the other bedrooms I had painted, it wouldn’t take long at all to finish.  Wrong!! The bathroom ceiling drops right by the door, but then goes back up within about 2 feet, so there were multiple corners on top of all the miserable trim work!!!  Thus, I was still working on the first coat of paint when James looked in the door and asked, “Do you know what time it is?”.  I told him no, I was a little busy and hadn’t been paying attention and he said it was almost 6PM!  This wasn’t good because we had a Halloween party at Nancy & Scott’s to go to that started at 7PM!  So, I quickly finished up the first coat of paint, cleaned up the brushes, and tried (without getting to take a shower) to clean myself up so I looked halfway presentable. Luckily, we ended up only being about 15-20 minutes late and people were still arriving when we got there.

I had never been to Nancy & Scott’s house, so I was really excited to get to see the inside of their home.  It’s a “dome” house (here are some examples of dome houses from a google image search) and they have been fixing it up and modernizing it without loosing the aesthetics of the original house.  Nancy gave us a tour and it was amazing!  They are still working on it, but have gotten a lot done already (absolutely LOVE the kitchen!) and it is easy to tell how nice it will be once they finish.

After finishing the tour we grazed over the abundance of great food Nancy had prepared for the party.  The main course was chili and hot dogs (cooked over the fire), but there were a ton of side dishes, extras, and desserts!  Eventually I had to stop myself because even though I knew I wasn’t hungry the food was so good I wanted to keep eating!! Yet, as a last hurrah, I got the makings for two smores (James just grabbed some of the chocolate) and headed out to the bonfire to cook the smores and enjoy the fire!

Nancy & Scott had set up hay bales around the fire, so we found a spot to sit and relax.  It was nice after all the craziness of the past couple of weeks to just sit there, watch the fire, and listen to the conversations going on around us.  After a little while, Nancy went and got some type of flammable liquid that produces “red” fire when set ablaze.   Some weren’t that impressed, but after letting the liquid soak into the wood (or dried grass) for a while you really could see the “red” in the fire when it caught.

We hung out for a little while longer, but after the long day of me painting and James working on school stuff we were both exhausted and ready for bed.  We said our goodbyes and then headed home for the night!  Overall, a productive and pretty good Halloween!