Monday, December 6, 2021

Taking a Break and a Carol Remake

 I'm going to take a break through New Year's. I found more photos of the house building and it will take me a while to process them for upcoming posts. In the meantime, I wish you the best Christmas, and here is a little poetry for you!

Have you ever wanted to do something and your family just won't cooperate? I wanted to try singing the Christmas Carol, "Ding Dong Merrily on High." I think I first heard it on the '94 Little Women movie. Anyway, I found some music for it and put it in the list of our Christmas Carols. It met with, you know, those things people do when they are uncooperative.

 1 Ding dong, merrily on high!
In heav’n the bells are ringing;
ding dong, verily the sky
is riv’n with angel singing.
Chorus: Gloria, hosannah in excelsis!
Gloria, hosannah in excelsis!

We did okay on the first verse, the chorus was a bit acrobatic but with practice not unattainable.

2 E'en so here below,
let steeple bells be swungen,
And io, io, io,
by priest and people sungen.

Here then was a mispronunciation of "io" (which as I understand it is Latin for Joy)...but when it is said as "I-owe" then the confusion starts. I did explain the pronunciation as "ee-oh but then references to Old MacDonald were brought up. Not to mention the archaic past tenses. 

3 Pray ye dutifully prime
your matin chime, ye ringers;
may ye beautifully rhyme
your evetime song, ye singers.

Nobody understood "matin chimes." So here I proposed we just leave it at the first verse, but the question was  where does it say there were bells at Jesus' birth? There were plenty more Scripturaly accurate carols to sing instead of ding dong bells. 

Just singing the chorus was out of the question because it takes too much breath to get through it. 

So you see why this song didn't make the list. And I think we need up-beat songs between the slow ones so we don't fall asleep by the 4th verse of some of the others (I won't say which).

But at least the tune could be salvaged, and the next morning I re-wrote the words to be more up-to-date and realistic for modern people:

Ding Dong Merrily I Buy

Words by Elizabeth Humphrey 


1. Ding dong merrily I buy;

The cash reg’sters are ringing!

Ding dong! Verily the door

Is throng'd with Cred’tors singing!


Oh, you owe! Oh, you owe!

Oh, you owe! Oh, you owe!

2. E’en so ev’ry year

The credit cards are swipen!

And I-owe I-owe I-owe

Before the presents ripen!


Oh no I owe! Oh no I owe!

Oh no I owe! Oh no I owe!

3. Pray you dutifully Prime

Your frequent Am’zon orders!

Please come beaut’fly on time

Fedex and UPS drivers!


Oh no I owe! Oh no I owe!

Oh no I owe! Oh no I owe!

Bass Descant:

Credit Cards with Higher Int’rest

All Year Long I Owe I Owe I Owe


Perhaps we have become a bit jaded, but the rewritten carol has been put back on the list! If you want to see the original carol, free sheet music can be found at this site, along with other classic carols. I printed many songs out and the music is clear and easy to read. 

I hope my readers have a great rest of the year!



Friday, December 3, 2021

Making it Work for RV Living part two


We were happy with this rig and felt like it served us well. I have a post with a few more modifications and some things we learned in living in it full-time. 

One thing my husband just reminded me of, is always check the awning before you buy. Don't believe the salesman if they say it doesn't need to be seen, it's okay. This one was awful! There are a few things you might see & smell when you open an awning. Mold, , water stains and dripping old brown water, strong vinyl scent, and ripped shreds of vinyl blowing in the breeze. We meant to have it replaced but never got around to it.


Under the TV shelf there was a tall, narrow cupboard, rather useless. We saw that the back of this space was a panel with screws, so we peeked inside. Aha-- the water pump. The nice thing was that the pump was a short little thing (and not something we would be using, as we were hooked up to the site water). So we modified that cupboard to make a shelf above the pump, giving us a few more inches to hold things. 

Speaking of site water, you can't have full pressure water going into an RV. You have to have a hose fixture that will let you control the pressure/opening. And of course, always buy the heated hose!

I had to add "Command hooks" everywhere. I didn't want to mess up the walls but we had to have more storage. Thankfully the wallpaper was never damaged by them and they removed cleanly.

There was a huge storage bay under the bunks, and on the other side of the RV. Still there was a storage place needed for all the shoes, boots, and winter coats so we built an outdoor "closet" which was just a narrow shed.

These photos were from right after it was built. We ended up wrapping things and putting coats in bags to hang so it wasn't so pretty when you opened the door! It wasn't spider-or-mouse proof, but with no food in there there wasn't much attraction for mice. It was more often lizards that were attracted to the shed. Still, we didn't want them getting cozy in our things.

We blocked up many passages  in the camper used by mice. This isn't because we had bought a bad RV, it is because no matter how fancy your RV is it will attract mice. Look at every plumbing or electrical chase as a mouse-road. Best to get them all plugged up (we used steel wool) before you have an infestation and a huge clean-up job to do.

RVs are stickers and cardboard inside. Unscrewing things multiple times (like panels to electrical units and such) usually strips the screw-hole. Things scratch up easily, but some things (that I supposed would be ruined) are surprisingly durable.

Though the "sleeps ten" bit was encouraging for our family size, RV water heaters aren't very big. They are "on demand" but only really effective if you use the propane rather than the electric. If we felt that we were running out of propane and needed to use the electric more, we couldn't get many hot showers in a row.  After-dinner mega-dishwashing had to be timed just so or there would be a long delay while we waited for the water to reheat. 

Some propane companies have a smaller (100 gal.) tank they will bring out for RVs. Frankly we should have had a full-sized one because there were times in the winter when the propane truck could not make it out to us, and we were precariously low.

When it rained, if the RV wasn't exactly level everywhere (that is, if anything was warped) there would be a leak at the slide-out. If it snowed, it was a constant battle to keep snow and ice off of the steps and out of the entrance (I needed a fresh stack of towels every few hours to soak up the mess). And in the winter there was the winter insulation skirt that needed to be put around, and fetched when storms blew it away. 

I will never recommend that people live in RVs through the winter. As a matter of fact, I will never recommend that people live full time in an RV at all, unless they have a metal-or-post-and-beam shelter to park it under. If I could advise myself from the future, I would say "Build a GARAGE with a living space in it and don't try RVs!"

I'm trying to remember more tips about living in an RV full time. Maybe more will come out in future posts! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Making it Work for RV Living part one

So now we had an RV all our own, and obviously we had to modify it to fit our family. I was advised against this from a friend, who was sure it would devalue the RV to add to or take from; but with as many of us as there were, and with our lifestyle, change was necessary. We did these things over the months to make this RV work for us.

 The first thing I did was to clean it. It had been cleaned by the sellers and looked great, but I felt better putting shelf paper down in all the drawers and shelves. I also removed the bullets and crayons in the cracks by the couch (obviously this had been a family hunting season camper). 

 One of the first to go was the DVD player and TV screen. As luxurious as it would be to have them, we homeschool and needed a place for BOOKS!

Next was the microwave. We needed kitchen storage and we don't use a microwave to cook with anymore. Another modification was to not use the gas oven/stove. Partly because I don't like the smell of cooking with propane in a small space, and partly because it seemed to be the favorite haunt of mice. So we put a board on the top of it for extra counter space which was sorely needed. I used slow cookers and a toaster oven for a while in place of these things. Probably not a good idea for the electrical system.

We had the repairman out many times to fix and replace (I'm so happy there are mobile RV services, we didn't have a truck to haul this thing to town!). Electrical problems, water problems... I can't remember now if there were heater problems too. It wasn't because it was a bad quality rig, it is just when you live in one full-time things can get worn out faster . For instance, the electrical system was overtaxed. Partly because the electric line, a beefy thing, was too long to do the power we needed (sorry I can't explain that better). Also because it was asking too much of a holiday camper to be running cooking appliances 3x a day every day for a large family. It could have handled a vacation, maybe, but constantly wasn't a good idea.

 The other modification was the beds. Though the ad said "sleeps ten" it meant ten very short people. The queen-sized bed (which in an RV-speak means short queen) was half on some structure that covered one of the storage bays, and half on an indoor under-bed storage box. There were built-in drawers on each side. We took took out one of the drawers, then took out the storage box under the bed. We sold the mattress and made the space into a twin-xl-daybed.




Yes it was ugly. And sleeping against that thin wall was COLD. But it made a much longer bed. 

We lost a lot of storage with this modification (you can see the remnants of the storage box above) but there were other advantages. The extra nice one was the floor space! No more crab-walking around the bed!

There was room for a portable crib and a dresser of sorts. (The mini blinds were not in good shape, so we took those off and made some curtains to go in their place. We don't like mini blinds anyway!)

The "dresser" was really just a frame to hold bins. It was one of the first woodworking projects one of my sons built. He also took the wood from the drawer and made a little cart for the kitchen, sort of a mini "island" for some extra space.

Since we were not going to use the camper as a traveling vehicle, we were not worried about adding such furniture to it. If it had been for going on the road, we would have built-in all additions, and made them of lighter materials.

There will be more things I learned about RVs on Friday's post!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Thanksgiving Reading

 image from Graphics Fairy

I just wanted to pop in here to talk about Thanksgiving Day. 

I have been reading out loud for school some books by Governor Bradford and Edward Winslow. Not easy reading, between the language structure and the gobs of business letters. Once you can get to a point of understanding it, though, it is quite interesting. I cannot summarize it well enough, but I will point out a few things that struck me.

Since the time in school that I had learned that the Pilgrims were not the first to make a settlement on this continent, their story has not loomed too large in my mind. They were just one group of many, but of course important because of the principle of freedom of religion they brought with them etc.. In those first-grade  school books they are associated with the construction-paper turkey, funny hats, and some rock they stepped on. And the story of Squanto is told, of course, still teaching us the usefulness of fish fertilizer and corn crops.

I am reading these books for our school history this month to try and find that "First Thanksgiving" feast. I  know that there have been many days of "Thanksgiving" announced by our nation, that were not strictly about the Pilgrims and their harvest, or even food. Was the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving feast  (with turkey)  real or just a legend? We've read up to the year 1623 and somehow we missed it. But I have noticed that the Pilgrims practiced a lifestyle of thanksgiving, when they had something to eat and when they didn't.

We have read of only one good harvest between 1620 and the summer of 1623. This was after barely making it to land (with no mast or sails left), losing half their people to illness that first winter, having a weakened group of workers, and taking time to build a fort for defense.  When the colony did manage to have enough food from that one good harvest, a shipload of un-supplied (and rather useless) men were brought from England and dumped on them to feed. This happened more than once in their story, and of course it always took the harvests and food storage to feed the extra people. The Pilgrims had to beg passing ships for bread, or trade with the Indians for food. Often they had to leave what they bought from the Indians because through various problems with their boat they could not carry it home. Once, another colony miles away somehow mismanaged their own food supply, nearly starved, and had to be supplied by the Pilgrims.

To top off the food problems, the promises of support and supplies from England hardly ever came through. Their main sponsor was a liar, and other sponsors would back out. It often seemed like they were going to be abandoned. If there was still someone sympathetic to their cause back in England, there were enemies  who tried to blacken the colony's name by writing letters of slander. They dealt with two-faced, unprincipled, criminal men and shysters. They wrote home to defend themselves, but it took so long for letters to get across the ocean and I cannot imagine how frustrating it must have been.

Through all their trials, even when extreme measures had to be taken, they would thank God for the outcome. They were often discouraged, and admitted it. They must have felt hopeless many times. Yet, they had an attitude of thanksgiving, giving thanks to God and looking for the good, or at least the lesson learned.

This thankfulness also made them a forgiving, or at least merciful, people I think. They helped out that liar, who abandoned them with hollow promises of supplies, when he was in want. They cared for, fed and defended a neighboring colony of people who were not honorable to the Indians, which behaviour by default would ruin the Pilgrim's honest reputation.  They kept care of Squanto, even though he turned out to be a disappointment to them and a detriment to their peace with the surrounding tribes. 

(You can read about Squanto here for yourselves. I'm glad that Squanto helped out with the corn, but I'm sad that he wasn't quite the friend through and through we all thought he was. And I'm upset that we don't hear more about Massasoit's right-hand-man Hobbamock [you can read about Hobbamock here], who should be getting a lot of credit in history books for his help. I don't remember hearing about him in the early curriculum that I went through. I think that history writers for little kids must think that "Squanto" is more fun to say when you are five or six... maybe they decided that since Hobbamock's name means "devil" that they wouldn't include him. Anyway, at least this year my children are learning about a loyal man named Hobbamock!)

I think we finally found when the Pilgrims had an "official day of thanksgiving" in 1623,  but it was after fasting & prayer (it was amazing to us that they announced a fast, when they were regularly starving as it was). There was a terrible drought at the time, and they were petitioning God for rain. When He sent rain, they declared an official Thanksgiving. 

 It is lovely to have a feast to celebrate the concept of Thanksgiving, and have a time set aside to be thankful. We say a prayer for the food and feel thankful for it. We are thankful to gather with our family. I know that this "thankfulness" for our meal would mean more if we had to suffer as the Pilgrims did, and it is worth remembering what they went through. For ourselves, perhaps we need to recall the trials we have been brought out of by the Lord's mercies, and thank Him for that specifically.

 There is a great lesson in all this, and it is one I am still learning. I hope someday I can be a thankful person in everything and at all times!

Friday, November 19, 2021

Another Spring, and Yet Another RV

 The winter had been exceptionally mild and was nearing its end. I didn’t know then how deep the well of Nancy’s hospitality went (surely she was sick of us?), but with that last RV long gone, we felt that there wasn't much of a chance that we would bump into another one to rent. 

 It was time to admit to ourselves that this house building adventure was going to take a lot longer than we thought. As affordable as our rent was with the previous two RV’s, it appeared that buying one was even cheaper. So, we packed up the kids and went to look at what we could afford locally.


Seems like all that was in our price range were fixer-uppers. As in, maybe we could gut this thing and... oh yes, we needed another construction project, didn't we? So we kept looking.

God blessed us with a great find in a bigger city about three hours away, and we bought a bunkhouse trailer. The sellers even delivered it to our town.  

It was smaller in living space, and had only one slide out, but the fact that the children had their OWN BEDS, as in NOT ON THE FLOOR like the last RV??? Oh, this was a step up in the world!
 These pictures are after we moved into it, but there is quite a story that came before that point.

We have a wonderful friend with a truck who is expert in RV matters (this is important-- always have a friend with a truck!) and was willing to help us. Poor man, he didn't know what he was in for. 

I stayed home for this story- which was a very wise thing to do- and have no photos to share of it, but picture a cold grey day in your mind.

Our friend picked up the RV and took it out to the site. It was a bit tricky to park the RV because it had to be backed uphill on the elevated RV pad, one side of which was a cliff. My husband and sons went out to help groom the gravel on the driveway and aid any way they could.

They were there all day. 

It rained, and the ground turned to mud. A fellow on an ATV came by, stating that he could have that thing up in 5 minutes for them. Not knowing the fellow, and thinking they could handle things themselves, they declined. 

It sleeted. They tried putting lumber down to make better traction for the truck. Mr. ATV came by and offered again. Sensing that the can he had been drinking from was not soda pop, they declined again.

It snowed. The boys looked on while the men were under the truck trying to arrange things for the wheels to get traction (thankfully the brakes didn't fail... don't do this at home, folks!). Mr. ATV came by, rather frustrated.

Hours later, wet, frozen, and discouraged, they stood there in the dark having exhausted all methods. They got so low that they handed the keys to Mr. ATV, and let him do whatever he wanted.

He had the RV backed up to the pad perfectly in 5 minutes. 



Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Quick & Easy Drooly Bib Sewing Tutorial

 I know this is a different kind of construction, but these photos were in with the others and I thought I may as well get around to posting them! Here's an idea to make some quick bibs in an afternoon.

When the baby got to drooling excessively, I went to Joann's and bought an interesting flannel yardage with a sort of "grid" on it. Sorry I cannot give the measurements now (it's been a while) but a nice sized rectangle cut out of it covered all of the front of the baby. I'm guessing this was at least 8" across the bottom, and maybe 12" or more up the sides. Come to think of it, you could just about use a piece of printer paper as a pattern. I was going by the grid on the fabric. Whatever size you make it, cut two rectangles.

(Since I made a stack of these, I had as many rectangles as I could get out of the yardage.)

Find an appropriately sized round object to trace around, and do that centered, about 1.5 to 2" down from the top on one of the rectangles. Make sure your round object is big enough to allow some slack, because the circle will be pulled in a bit when the bib is fastened. Sorry I don't have a diameter but every baby's neck will be different! If you were to make it as a gift I would err on the generous side.

Trace it on the INSIDE/WRONG side of the fabric. 

Start sewing around the edges, right sides together with your drawing on top. Begin on the side (you will be leaving a 3" or so gap for turning in one side).

 Make sure to turn down from the top and go around that circle! You can see at the top that I left a good gap where I turned down to sew around the circle.

You can do curves on the corners if you like instead of pivoting. I did some of both. Whichever you choose, trim the corners to reduce bulk for turning. Clip down into the circle, trim the neck hole and clip into the seam allowance a bit for turning.

Turn inside out. Gently poke out all the corners with scissors or a wooden stuffing tool. Smooth and press with an iron. You could top stitch around it if you like, folding in and stitching down the opening as you go. Or just hand-stitch the opening closed. 

Now add some velcro to the top two inner "flaps" and fasten. This is why you want to be a bit generous with that circle. 

I made about a dozen of these, which was an appropriate amount for changing out several times a day.

Friday, November 12, 2021

A Fixture

The house-building went on that winter, but I did not go out often to take photos. It was too cold, and one time the baby and I sat out there for a while, freezing, while a contractor decided not to show up. Eventually I did get out there and what progress had been made!

Plumbers had come to hook the downstairs bathtub drain up.

Wires for ceiling lights! The Electrician made it back out. I need to explain something-- it was extremely difficult to find an electrician with any openings back then (and almost impossible now). Ours was busy, and not always available to schedule nor easy to get a hold of. One evening my husband and sons were driving back from the site, and said "let's just go to the electrician's house and beg him to come." Just as they were turning towards his driveway, the phone rang and it was him! He had finally checked his messages! Or else he recognized headlights? The electrician was nice enough to work patiently with our boys to get the wiring and outlet boxes done. It was COLD out there on site and I'm sure they were working with numb fingers most of the time!

Now for the big news: that winter we passed our Rough Inspections. 

It was rather NOT like I expected. I didn't faint, or cry, or breathe a sigh of relief. The inspector did not pat us on the back and say "You've done a great job!" (I didn't really expect that, I thought it was maybe an in-and-out-routine type inspection), or go around with a checklist full of "yes" marks. Instead, it was lots of questions. "What are you doing here?" "Why is that there?" and when he finally signed off, "Well, I'll sign this as approved but I want to see that you have done XYZ by the drywall inspection." Really it didn't feel approved at all!

  Well, later it sunk in. We had passed a major inspection! The next phase was open to us!

So we went to Lowe's to buy something we could not have before Rough Inspection. We were bubbling with joy and wanted to grin and giggle-- or try not to cry in front of a Lowe's employee. We were going to buy an important fixture. 

As we turned down the aisle we were seeking, lined with white porcelain, under the bright lights, a white-haired employee from the plumbing department was walking toward us. "Can I help you folks?"  He looked like an angel...

Yes, it was our huge leap into the 19th Century (oh, is it the 21st now?). Our house was going to join the rest of Western Civilization and contain indoor plumbing. Well, 2/3 indoor plumbing (there wasn't a sink yet).

 Rather an odd thing to do to mark the celebratory occasion!  But we were so happy to be in the next stage-- now we were on to FINISH plumbing, not rough-in. FINISH electric and FINISH everything! We were FINALLY done with rough ins. I was hopeful that we would be done with the whole house by Spring!

Tuesday, November 9, 2021


 We weren't being totally useless to our hostess. She turned us into house-sitters while she was gone on trips to see her great-great grandkids, or flying off to places for vacation.

Nancy spent her time helping everyone. "This isn't my house, this is God's house" she would say, and if it weren't for a big family being hosted there at that moment, her doors would have always had someone knocking on them who just had to talk to her (with us there, she tended to go and see people instead of them coming to her). She also had God's phone, God's car, God's dishes in her cupboard... basically all God's stuff (did you know that could happen?). 

She wasn't a person of great means but she used them all for the Lord.

God favors helpful people and sends them special loved ones in their lives who say "come with me on vacation, I'll give you a plane ticket."

Yup, Nancy was the sort of person who God sends on vacation to Paris. 

The routine life was suddenly enlivened with  weeks of emails from the traveler abroad. Email became more exciting with photos of Paris in the frost, museums and cathedrals, and descriptions of fresh croissants for breakfast.

While our hostess was in Paris (and London), we faithfully house-sat, but did not neglect our own house-building. No, we had a special event. 

We bought a fixture! 

But in the interest of time, I will put that amazing story in Friday's post....

Friday, November 5, 2021

More memories of that winter...


 One of the things that was so good about being with Nancy that winter was that while I was going through that baby-life-adjustment time, the kids could tag along with her. They loved it, because unlike their mother (homebody), Nancy went places.

For one thing, she went to church early (we were always late). 

For another thing, she went to all the church parties (being so far out of town, we often stayed home, and worked on the house instead). So suddenly the Game Night, the Christmas party, the gingerbread house making party, the Christmas tree hunt, the New Year's Party, every potluck, every fancy dinner, every shared meal, and anywhere Nancy went were easy to attend. 

The best part though, was watching Nancy prepare for these events. She would not show up empty handed! She was in the kitchen thinking ahead, and putting something together for the fellowship.

As a great-great-grandmother, Nancy was well practiced in the art of baby hypnosis. I'm glad we afforded her an opportunity to sit down for a while!

Sunday dinners with guests were without question, as well as entertaining any visiting speaker at church. And she had stories of (epic, in my mind) times when she had 30+ people over at once. "We just threw in some baked potatoes!" she said.

If someone was sick or grieving, she would say "Do you think this or that soup would go down easy? I'll make some bread and we'll have it there by 5." The days that need hospitality with food happen more often than you think. 

Besides all this, she had an open pantry to all her "kids." 

I was so thankful that the kids got to see how Nancy lived, and go along with her to deliver meals. And I would marvel that she said she wasn't doing anything for the Lord, and was thinking about running off to be a missionary to Mongolia.

 Nancy was the kind of person who wanted you to eat up the newly bought ice cream in her freezer, because it might get "freezer burnt."

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Metal Siding?

It was time to initiate our new family member into this crazy family build project, so one of the first outings for baby was to the metal place. 

We were seriously talking about using metal siding. I liked the look of the old-fashioned (pre-1920) very narrow horizontal wood siding, but even if I could find it it would have been expensive. I thought corrugated siding on its side would imitate that old narrow siding in the lights and shadows.

People, including Roger (our valuable source of building supply knowledge) down at the lumber place, thought this was not a good idea. But what's not to like about metal siding? It's inexpensive, it's got a 50 year paint job, styles and colors are getting better, and the durability is tops!

(By the way, the corrugated metal on the wall in the above photo had a beautiful shimmery smooth finish; it wasn't like galvanized roofing type stuff)

The metal place even had board-and-batten look siding, which was the style my husband had been thinking about.

There were some good-looking modern integrations and applications of metal siding that were popping up here and there in architectural photos. I was sure with my husband's background in design that he could make it look good. So, he did some computer models to explore the idea further. 

(Sorry about the quality of these pics-- I was taking pictures of his computer screen! Someday maybe I can put better screenshots up.)

So this is our house model! If you look at the far right of the house, lower story, you can sort of see what my idea for the narrow siding was. This model is showing corrugated metal, and it looked just as I had imagined it would.

 Blurry close-up, but if any of you are familiar with that old very narrow siding I was talking about, you might see the similarities between that and this corrugated horizontal application. 

Well I liked it, but we remained undecided. Our siding decisions (like sooo much of this house) lasted too long. In the end, we didn't (or couldn't) choose metal for a few reasons, but I still wonder what it would have been like...

What do you think of metal siding by the way? Do you think it is a crazy idea?

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Winter Walks



I bought a very used, high-end stroller that had a bassinet option. I was so happy to finally have a "pram" because I had wanted one with the past babies. Obviously it wasn't all I thought it would be. Hey- save your cryin' for when you have to work on the house!

Living in town temporarily was so convenient. First of all, the sidewalks were a nice change from dirt and gravel! Everything was a short walk or drive away. The children could even walk to church. Grocery shopping was so easy. My husband's commute to work was cut in half. The church social life was so much more accessible, so that the children went to everything available. We started to wonder-- maybe we should have built in town?-- a bit too late.

Our hostess, Nancy, regularly walked 9-10 miles a day. She walked to the store, to church, the library, to visit. If that wasn't enough miles she would set out again.  She would talk about her personal trainer, Arthur, making her do it. Arthur lived in her knees. Guess that's what you get for a rigorous prayer life.  She was the kind of person who would come home from her walk, and then if a child wanted to go on a walk, would turn right around and head out the door (even if it meant another 5 miles) and all you would see was enjoyment on her face.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Another Winter


I wanted to give you a glimpse of our winter in town, but I either find myself going on and on too much or at a loss for the right words. I don’t want to veer too far from our construction posts, but our life journey was now merged with another’s and though we hope we brought some bit of happiness to hers, it is certain Nancy brought loads of goodness to ours!

I have been contemplating on how to sum up such a person as she was…there is so much to say. I have to pick something….well here’s one thing:

She was the type of person who would happily, cheerfully take your teen driving (on fast highways alongside semi-trucks) so that they could get their 50 hours of driving lesson practice in...because she wasn't afraid to die like you were.

Our construction went on, but I was not out there to take pictures for quite a while. I basically stepped off of the "crew" for a while, and just focused on keeping the kids from decimating Nancy's pantry, figuring out school with a new baby in tow, and staying away from the public as much as possible. The latter was because the flu was rampant that year, so much so that reports of overwhelmed hospital capacity had them putting patients in the hallways... and I wasn't going to expose the baby to any of that!

Funny now that I think back to it... no one even talked about shutting down the world back then. I used grocery pick-up and everyone washed their hands after going out. We wiped surfaces but people didn't stop socializing, church was always "on" and none of my family caught the flu. Lumber prices might have risen and fallen, but it caused no delays for us. "How times have changed."

I do have some interesting posts coming up about some design decisions, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

And Then There Was Nancy

Our construction process slowed down quite a bit in the Autumn of that year. First there was the new baby come into our lives, and then there was Nancy. 

Nancy did not want us to spend another winter in the RV, since we had a new baby and all, so she invited us to spend the winter with her. Normally I would not have accepted that, but after a long labor I was done being the "brave pioneer Mama" and just wanted a nice big recliner in a warm house! Besides that, my entire family was ready for a break and looked forward to spending more time with Nancy.

So we moved to town to stay with Nancy and waited for the upcoming hard winter.

It seemed strange to me that a single woman would invite a big family like ours to live with her, move our stuff in, take over the kitchen, nay, even urge us to give the RV back instead of keeping up the rental payment (which meant that essentially we had no place to go back to!). 

It soon became apparent what was going on... 


I guess inviting an entire family to stay was a lot easier than kidnapping the baby.


Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Hidden Dirt and Airing the Laundry

Boy if that isn't a "click-bait" title! A post this boring needs that kind though.

In hopes that this could be useful to someone, I am going to post a bit of a laundry horror story:)

I had an extra project going on last week that was none too pleasant: fixing the smelly washing machine. I don't mean that the work was unpleasant, but the increasing unwashed piles of laundry and the family precariously on the edge of not having a change of clothes for a week wasn't so nice!

Our washer was new six years or so ago, and it has been through washing rags of from all aspects of construction, sawdust, and the daily household laundry of a family living on a bare building site with blowing desert dust, oh and rags from cleaning off the yearly wildfire smoke from the walls. 

For a while now, since being more closed-up in an almost-finished house, the washer has smelled increasingly of mold. Airing it out, using the "clean washer" setting, using bleach, and dumping in vinegar had no effect. The clothes recently started smelling like the washer! So did the house! I knew that it needed to be taken apart and the mold found and cleaned. 

I started with a google search and did not need to look any further than this blog post.

From there I went to YouTube to look up my particular washer, or as close as I could get it. There are lots of videos on disassembling a washing machine, and some appliance parts stores have put up very helpful videos for the DIY-er (like this one).

 It was helpful to look into this ahead of time, and order parts and tools needed before I took things apart. I knew that the week I was waiting for tools to be shipped to me that I should do as much laundry as I could so I would not be behind if this project took me a couple days. Honestly I was reluctant to do much because I was sure the clothes were not getting clean anymore.

My tools came and although I could have done the disassembly by myself, it is always nice to have company! Especially when they decide to take over doing the work. Each step of the way I had the internet up and ready. Besides watching YT, pausing, doing, watching, pausing, doing, I also looked up videos that had to do with the particular place on the washer I needed to disassemble, and there are plenty of them. DIYers are sure generous!

Once I had the top off and the agitator off, we could see some yucky stuff, not pretty but it wasn't black mold at least. It was mud and rust.

The rusty metal parts now had to be disassembled. This is where it took 2 days of WD-40 and Vinegar soaks. I am not sure that pouring hot boiling water on it did much but I went ahead and tried that, too. Next day I just did WD-40 and alternated treatments of that with pounding a spanner wrench with a rubber mallet. 

The third day, Mr. Humphrey stepped in and got that first rusty nut off the washer  (and no, "rusty nut" is not my nickname). He was then faced with a rusty drive collar. By then I was starting to wonder if I should take the clothing to a laundromat. 



Using several YouTuber suggestions, he tried a c-clamp and other tools, got a stronger assistant and was able to get the rusty stuff off and the inner tub out! Finally we could get to the outer tub, and THIS is what was in it:

A pile of mud. 

No wonder my whites never stayed white, nor did bleach do a thing to help them. 

Basically I was just putting sort-of dirty clothing in to swish in muddy water with some ineffective soap.

And I should have connected some dots and known what was happening, for our "soil" out here (if you could call the blowing dust that on this mountain side) is a grounded chalk-rock type stuff mixed with ash and dirt. When it rains, it makes a clay-like mud that sticks to our shoes like glue. It would make sense that a lot of the finer dust would turn to sticky mud in the washer, and glue the dirt with it. It looks like sludge but it was more like a stiff mud, and scraped off in wide strips under my plastic spackling knife. 

What I didn't find, and was rather surprised not to, was black mold growing up the sides of the tub, nor did I find gobs of wet sawdust. Not even hair clogs or gooey lint. Just mud. 

Ah... so much better!

Though it seems silly to post pictures of the inner tub of a washer, you have no idea how rewarding it is to look at it until you have tried this washer-cleaning thing yourself!

This is a "self cleaning" washer by the way, there is no lint filter in my machine. We even unscrewed the drain part and washed under it.

The inner tub wasn't too bad, but had a thin coating of goo and ick and so we gave it a good scrub. 

By that time it was getting dark and late, and we were glad to get the washer back together again and end this project. 

Unlike Humpty Dumpty, the washer did go back together again quite well! But since we were being thorough, there were a couple more things that we cleaned. I suspected that the washer tray (a great big plastic thing) was harboring something. We lifted the washer and slid the tray out, which was pretty bad with dirt as well. Besides that, it had suffered a bit from the construction and had "great stuff" and tar splattered on it.

My husband was putting the drain hose to rights when it came into his mind to disconnect it and clean it out (it is rather long and opaque, I know some folks have a clear hose but we could not tell what was going on in this one).

We took it to the shower and dialed the shower head to "turbo blast jet" mode, turned on the hot water and blasted down the end of the hose. 

I do not have a photo of what followed, and it is too bad because it would have been a really good addition to a post about gross washers.

After the hose seemed clear of mud flakes, I turned it around and thought I'd just back-rinse it.

We rinsed and rinsed and rinsed that hose both ways about 6 times, and never got to the end of the brown flakes coming out. We gave up, because of fatigue and the late hour, and said maybe when the washer drained it would take care of the rest.

Folks, if you don't want to take your washer apart, you might just start with cleaning out the drain hose!

Washer all connected, the first load we did was the rags we used during the whole yucky process. I did stand there waiting for the drain cycle (maybe I was a little tired...). I could hear my drain hose sounded like a waterfall! That was different.

And I don't know anyone who does this, so it might sound a little crazy: I stick my head in the washer how and just revel in the "new appliance" smell. I also bury my nose in the loads coming out of the dryer, happy that they smell sweet! The room smells nice, the house smells nice, and it was worth the trouble.

By the end of one amazing Monday I had empty laundry baskets and stacks of folded clothes. It was so nice to start Tuesday with a bare laundry room floor.

I will probably have to repeat this washer-cleaning every year, to keep the sticky mud from building up, but don't worry I won't make another gross post about it!

Monday, October 4, 2021

On Top of the World

 Will be back hopefully soon with more construction posts! But first I have to do a catch-up-clean-up from being gone all day yesterday so I won't have time to do much but post these freshly-taken tourist photos. 

 (All Oregonians have to go and take their own photos of Crater lake, and exercise their jerk-the-the-steering wheel into the viewpoint pull-outs reflex. Those are rites and exercises of being native Oregonians.)

Friday, October 1, 2021

History Opinion Poll Results

 Well last week's poll wasn't as interesting to everyone as the ones about cave men. 

Click to enlarge. 

School has been in full swing for a month now, and as usual History is the most fascinating subject! Even if you are not homeschooling, be sure to sprinkle in a little history to your day every day-- ancient, local, family, inventions, fashion, individuals, words, or even food history!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021


 I think that is a funny title-- the entire house is custom-made. But in this case we are referring to these items that we cannot (yet) DIY-- and aren't they gorgeous?

These brackets are key to tying everything together.

They aren't plastic with fake bolts, either. My husband found a local place that did them up quickly and just to his design. It is a small part of the house, but makes us very happy.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Escaping again...and don't do this

 One more attempt to get away from the smoke that year, and I should have just stayed away until winter! No wait- until Spring. Yes, that would have worked.

(everyone Oregonian needs yet another photo of Heceta Head Lighthouse!)

To the coast it was. I think we should admit defeat and build a summer cottage there, don't you?

While I was over in the clean air regions, an old friend invited me to come and harvest her huge tomato garden patch before it rained. Sure, I was up to that! Standing on my feet all day harvesting and then cutting and freezing ALL those tomatoes...

Harvest makes me do crazy things. At least I wasn't canning them, which would have taken longer.

While I was gone, I looked around my favorite hardware store, dreaming of lights and doors...

But the crazy thing I did here was not to bring home a chandelier too soon. No, it was to buy tile for the bathroom. It was a penny cheaper than at our local store at home, and had trim options. 

As it turns out, the tile was a. the wrong shade of white (this "shade of white" tile selection process would be the bane of my existence for a loooong time), b. it was not enough (we changed the design a short time after I bought it), and c. it was almost winter and the chances that we would be coming back over the mountains to return this load of tle within the allowed time frame were ZILCH. 

Wouldn't you know it, a few months later our local store brought it the SAME tiles with the TRIM in just the right shade of white and for a good price. You will hear more about that later!  

So my advice is, at least be cautious buying things in other states/counties/regions. If possible, don't do it! Tile isn't that easy to resell. But if you had a tiny bathroom shower to tile, and need some off-white tiles, let me know, we still have them around!