Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Funny what you can get accomplished when the sun is out

Yes, we had a beautiful day on Sunday and that is saying alot because it has been a very mild winter. Maybe it was the time change.

Whatever it was, we cleaned out the mud room and gave it a fresh coat of paint. We want to lay tile down and thought we would paint while we didn't have to worry about the floor. While that was drying, we tackled the deck project.

When we built the deck, three years ago, we had the posts in place, but didn't finish the job with any real railings. We did attach lumber on the tops of the posts as a temporary way to keep people over five feet tall from falling off, but that didn't make our friends with children feel any better. We took off the minimal pieces of wood and secured 2x4 pieces of treated lumber to the tops of the posts. These will act as railings. Next, we need to decide on how to finish off the top. I am leaning toward white oak, which is what the floor is made of.

On a side note, a few months ago, my parents replaced their deck with that recycled plastic product. Their contractor took care to save the 2x10 pieces of treated wood so that we could use them. At the time, we didn't have a real purpose laid out for this lumber, but we only have three of the original ten that we garnered. It has turned out to be a good score as we used four of them on this project alone.

We still need to add lower railings in. I think we are going to go for the industrial look and use metal conduit. It is a compromise on what Kent wants and what I want. I won't go into those specifics.

We did need to work out a solution to what we were calling "Rita-proofing". This isn't a slight to our friend Rita, but merely a remembrance to her accident and the need to prevent that from happening. In short, our friends, Rita and Aaron, were working on their house. They have a balcony/deck off the one side. They were trying to lower something over the side of this when the railing collapsed and Rita fell to the ground. Luckily, her she only sustained serious injury to her hand, but it nevertheless, it was quite the scare. It definitely could have been worse, but Rita is quite athletic and tough as nails.

The theme of the story is to make sure all railings are secure. We used deck post anchors (that seriously, were just laying around from our deck off the old house. Sometimes I am glad Kent doesn't throw anything away.) to secure the posts on the deck close to the house. We added an extra measure by securing the post to the house as well with some treated lumber.

As it grew dark, we cleaned up the outside mess, only to finish up the mudroom. We had to put most of it back in order but held off on some. We would just have to move it next weekend when we tile the floor.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


It happened. We finally broke down and had cable installed. The big day was Monday. Kent took the morning off to wait the the cable guy to arrive between 8 and noon. Can't be too specific that would diminish the reputation of the industry that they are reliable. Fortunately, the gentleman did arrive between said time. Of course the thought of putting another hole in our beautifully crafted house is traumatizing to both of us yet compromise was made and as promised I can barely tell there is anything there.

What I noticed was my own thought pattern. When I got home from I couldn't help but think that I needed to get my money's worth and watch tv all night. Is that odd or not? Please tell me. I haven't had cable in seventeen years. Perhaps that is the unintended consequence. I decided to watch tv after dinner but the channels were overwhelming. I watched a half hour of an old Family Guy and fifteen minutes of Friends. Then flipped through, turned the cable off and watched my old stand by PBS.

I had to turn off the cable to watch PBS which seems insane but whatever. I have my go to shows on there and will likely stick to that. Except for a few sporting events I don't know if cable will be worth it, time will tell.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Year in Review

Since we haven’t been consistent this year with blog postings, I will give a summary of each month.

January: We flew to Florida to see our parents. The elder Gromens have been spending winter in the Lake Okeechobee region. They rent a nice trailer in a 55 and over community. The curious thing about this trip is that (just about) everyone we talked to was retired or close to it. That means they have plenty of time to talk, swim, talk, stroll, talk, and talk some more. Everyone loved to complain about the cold northern clime they escaped from to enjoy the sunshine of Florida. Perhaps this will be me someday. The Elder Butlers were in Pompano Beach, FL but also visited Orlando.

February: Uneventful month when I look back at it. I think we had a lot of snow last year, but my favorite snowboarding partner (my neighbor Tony) was busy working and getting his PhD. So we only went out once. But it was a good time. Since I was working at the farm, there is this great hill that is pastured by a donkey, mule and jenny. So, as long as you don’t hit one of their piles, you are good. I fell a lot, but learned some too.

March: Every year an OU Frisbee Alum hosts a reunion in March. This year, it was Tweedle, who lives in Columbus. The Columbus location always brings a good number of people since it is central for most. Kids were everywhere and the weather allowed for throwing disc in the back yard. Look for Reunion 2012 to be in Athens, y’all. Natalie Kruse is hosting the party and Chez Butler/Gromen can host folks if you would like to spend the night.

April: Wedding number 1. Natalie and Nigel in Athens. Very convenient. Had a joyous time with a good mix of people, Frisbee nerds along with profs from the university. My garden project was gearing up too. Not just at work on the farm but at home. I started tomatoes, zucchini, peas, cukes, and peppers all from seed. I kept them (expect the peas) inside until transplanting time in May. So my house was a mini green house for a while. Also, my lemon tree bloomed and I ended up getting 5 fruits growing. However, I pulled all but two off because I didn’t think the little guy could handle producing 5 fruits. (Both lemons ended up doing very well and we picked them in October.)

May: Yeah for May. It is the best month you know…Kent had an opponent for the May primary so he was hard at work, walking around the neighborhood talking to people. He ended up winning and since there was no republican running, the fall race was a cinch. Once the election was over we could use the free time and good weather to our advantage. We still hadn’t finished all of the siding on the house. We were able to start up again and work on weekends. Highlight of the month, besides my birthday, was the visit from Kara and Ethan and Salix. They came for a weekend and we walked to the farm, shopped the farmers market, and hiked Hocking Hills.

June: Wedding number 2. This one, I officiated for Patrick and Adrienne. This wedding was on the beach in North Carolina and we rented a beach house with a bunch of other Frisbee alums. I think I did blog about this, but I will reiterate that it was a blast. I forget how much I love water and the ocean. As the month drew on, I started looking for another job. My Americorps position at the farm was coming to a close at the end of July. I got really proficient at catering my resume and cover letter to conform to certain jobs. I was also looking at many state and federal jobs. Being an Americorps alums allows you to apply for internal federal jobs. (Not that that ended up helping, but oh well)

July: Wedding number 3. I also performed this marriage ceremony of Michael and Melissa. Again at the beach, this time in Florida. (I have great friends, that pick awesome places to get married) The rain failed to dampen the spirits and we had a great time once again. Hopefully we will visit Mike and Melissa in Germany sometime. Also in July, Kent and I embarked on a new adventure in our Ultimate careers. USA Ultimate hosts a Women’s Masters National Championship and a Men’s GRAND Masters NC. Grand Masters is 40 and over so Kent was one of the young punks out there playing. He got a lay out D on his first point in. Overall, though, our teams played average, as it was more about having a good time than winning it all. The tournament was in Cincinnati which made it easy for travel (for once). This is also my last month at the Good Earth Farm. It was such a fun year. I learned a lot, and taught a lot, and I was glad I had that experience.

August: Unemployed, woo hoo!! Job searching and traveling. We went to Italy to visit Jeff since I had time off. We had a low key visit and kept it simple. We enjoyed the area and the connections that Jeff and Alberta have. We went sailing in the Adriatic, snorkeling in my favorite city ever (Polignano al mare) and ate lots and lots of gelato. August is also a gearing up month for Ultimate. Tournaments and workouts predominated.

September: I got a job, but I didn’t start until October. That means that I have one month to get stuff done around the house. I preserved a ton of stuff this month. Some from my garden, but mostly from the produce auction. I buy in with friends on large amounts of produce. I then can it or freeze it. I keep track of it all and I did about the same as last year except less zucchini. I also spent time putting art up on our walls. They have been bare for two years and it was about time. We also had our friends Annah and Jim staying with us. Annah is teaching English in Saudi Arabia but they were back for a break.

October: Start job. Yeah! Kent went to USA Ultimate Nationals with a masters team, Real Huck. They did pretty well, finishing in the top half of the field. And he got to go to Florida for the third time in 2011. Lori stayed home and played the Halloween Ultimate tournament. Adrienne and Patrick came through town on Halloween and spent the weekend with us. They gave me an excuse to go uptown and see the crowd.

November: Wedding number 4! Kent’s childhood friend, Kevin, got married in a beautiful ceremony up north. It was excellent to catch up with his Kirtland buddies. Frisbee is still keeping Kent busy coaching the college men’s Ultimate team.

December: Students are gone, making the town and campus quiet again. The mild weather let us finish our woodshed. Now our wood is protective from all sorts of weather and very accessible. The holidays went well with lots of time with family and friends.

Thanks for all of the memories.

Monday, October 03, 2011

End of an era?

Tomorrow I (Lori) start a new full time job in the admissions department at Ohio University. A few things may come to mind here.

First, let's look at the full time part. I have never worked full time in my life. I came close with a few summer jobs, but it doesn't count when it only lasts two and half months. And technically, I did work full time at the farm for the past year, but it was 37 1/2 hours a week and that included lunch. This job is 40/week and it doesn't include the hour lunch. So that is nine hours at the site.

Second, the admissions department. Yeah, it has nothing to do with any of my degrees, but that so what. Isn't that typical. Getting a degree is more about the process, right? The Krebs Cycle only has limited applications.

and Third, tomorrow... is... Tuesday. Why would I start on a Tuesday? Because my boss is so cool, when I told him I would be coming back super late from Milwaukee on Sunday night (really it was Monday morning at 3 AM, yeah, that sucked) for an ultimate tournament, he was fine with me starting on Tuesday instead Monday. Yeah, that's what I am talking about.

I am looking forward to getting back into a routine. These past two months were nice and all to get things done, but I am ready for a.) something to do everyday b.) know what day of the week it is, and c.) get a real paycheck.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Deconstructing History

We are now in the deconstructing phase of the kitchen of the old house. This has been a rather interesting period since we are discovering more and more about the house and how it transformed.
For instance, after removing the aluminum siding we found another layer of siding. We anticipated this, but what we didn't expect was to find that a door used to be on the driveway side of the house. You can kind of see where it would have been in the photo to the left. there is a line going down from the window on the left and then a line under the right window. The door would have been there and this siding was added after the fact. This also explains the stoop in front of this side of the house.
Once we tore into the inside of the house, this door was confirmed and also changed the way I thought this addition was added on. I thought that it was added on in full without much changes back in the fifties when water was probably connected to the house. However, there were at least two renditions of this small addition that I can think of.
The first wall we tore into was the wall between the kitchen and bath. It was a standard plaster wall. A hammer and crow bar worked well to pull down the plaster and rip off the wood. We saved the wood for kindling. The picture below shows that wall.

Then we tore into the outside wall. Two things here. One the plaster was put one with a metal screen instead of wood. And two, there was bead board tongue and groove underneath it all. It is actually kind of prettyand in good shape and I would like to save it for use somewhere. And then when I pulled down the wall perpendicular to it, which also used the metal screen, siding from the original house was exposed. The interesting thing here is that the siding is painted the same color as the bead board making me believe that the siding and the bead board served as the interior walls of the new addition. Now think about this.
The bead board forms and straight line from ceiling to floor, right. The siding however, is not going to be a straight line, siding is lapped so that water will run down it and not up into that last board. So what did they do back then to account for this gap between the two walls? They shoved fabric in the space between the two walls and called it a day. Gotta love it.
I then went around to the other walls in the kitchen where we housed the washer and dryer (if you remember tha). The part up against the bathroom was plaster with wood lath. Which is good because that is more kindling. The outside wall that faces our neighbors is metal and then, I am banging along the wall to loosen the plaster and the sledge goes right through it all. Here we find two cavities that have insulation in them and are covered with drywall (hence the easy holes).
What the heck is with this? When did this get put in and why only two cavities. So something must have happened here that required them to bust into these two cavities only. The water heater was located here but I don't know why they would have taken a wall down to install a water heater. I sure didn't need to take the wall down to UNinstall the water heater.
At least I am being entertained with mystery while tearing the house down.
Here is another photo of the laundry area. Still finding the green bead board. No other possible window placements have been found. So if the original addition only had that one door and no windows, then I can see why they decided to add two windows and change the door location.
Other fun facts about the house as we deconstruct. Extensive termite and water damage. Woo Hoo! Actually we knew it had been sprayed for termites when we bought it. But the water damage behind the tub is new news. I don't think the tub leaked while we lived there.
So there you have it. The first report of the deconstruction phase.

Monday, August 29, 2011


In some ways Italians have it figured out. In other ways, not so much.

Take plastic. They put everything in plastic. I don't understand how they got attached to this means of packaging and distribution. When you buy something that is processed in a factory and sold, such as crackers, it is individually wrapped in plastic and then wrapped again as a whole. When you buy something at the store, say cheese, it is wrapped in plastic. Fruit and vegetables bought from the market are put in plastic. Even if you have your own cloth bag, they put it in plastic first. Just put the damn fruit in my bag. (In Italy, you don't handle the fruit at the market, only the vendor can touch it. So you say how many kilos you want, they pick it out and bag it and then you pay.) The first time we bought prosciutto they put it in a plastic container. It was very pretty , but the second time we bought it, they wrapped it in paper. Much better. More of that, per favore.

There is definitely a sense of disposability within this country. Recycling is available but I am not sure how much of it is used. I see plenty of metal, plastic and cardboard in the trash. I wonder if it is because Italy has been plundered for a very long time and there are very little places of natural wonder. Kids do not go and play in the woods because there aren't any woods. Every inch, just about, has been planted or developed. Their beaches are about the only thing that are still somewhat natural. And let me tell you, they take care of the beaches.

Maybe that is the key. Tell them plastic will ruin their sea if they don't curtail their use of it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


With out a job, I tend to putter around the house. Which is good because there are many things to still get done.

This past weekend, Kent was at a frisbee tournament. My team didn't go, so I was home alone. This scares Kent sometimes because he never knows what he is going to come home to. Tee hee.

I decided to spruce up the walls and put art and photos up. I have to admit that this is scary. That first hole in the wall is treacherous when you were the one installing it, painting it and the like. We worked so hard to make it perfect. (Well, not really, by now there are marks all over from moving in and life. That's probably why it has taken almost two years to do this.) Once, I got over that first hole, the rest was easy. Kind of like killing your first chicken. (I can blog about that some other time.)

In the stairway, I used the time honored tradition of hanging photos of the family there. I had a few collages from the old house, but got creative and resourceful and was able to fill the space quite well. I am happy with it and now I can see my friends and family every time I go up and down the stairs.

I also put up art in the guest bedroom. I don't have a picture of it, but it is big. I don't know if it will stay but for now it is taking up a lot of real estate. In the smaller office room, I hung some art that we have had for years. It was hanging in the old house. One is a serial piece from an art school friend and the other is a large painting by this guy who used to have an art shop uptown. I think we paid 60 bucks for this piece and at the time I thought it was exorbitant. Now, I can't believe we paid that, not because it is so awesome but because it is a large piece of art and materials cost more than that.

Downstairs is the hardest room to outfit. There are so many windows and distractions that there really isn't that much room for art. A photographer friend gave us a panoramic photo last year of McKees junkyard and that has been hanging since then, but this weekend I put up this series of fish sketches done by Kent many years ago. The photo doesn't show it very well, but the drawings are colorful fish that exist only in Kent's mind (and now on paper). They are fun and I like them.

My ultimate goal is to get photos from our various trips up on the wall. Websites like Snapfish and Shutterfly (and others I presume) can put you photo on canvas for an excellent presentation. We did this years ago for friends that went to Italy with us. It is still a bit expensive, but still cheaper than most art.

It is still a work in progress and could change at any time.