Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Christmas Story

Kent is curiously nostalgic about Christmas. We don't exchange gifts or get into that aspect of it, but he loooovvesssss a tree and decorations and all that. We tried to have a tree once or twice in the old tiny house, but it became too much of a hassle and mess.

Perhaps the tradition was lost on me for all those years without a tree, but when Kent asked this year about a tree, all I could think about was the mess it would bring into our house. Kent still persisted and this past Sunday said he was going to to get a tree. I suggested that we find our old decorations because what good is a tree without the ornaments. You see, we had to put EVERYTHING that was in the garage in one room and one closet while we lived in the old house and built the new one. This means that those ornaments could be buried anywhere. It took some digging but because I love my husband, I found them. We brought them in the house and took to hanging the one string of lights that worked, garland and various items.

I found this fake tree that I have no idea where it came from. Kent had no clue either, so if you recognize it, let us know. It came with tiny ornaments as well. The star is from my mom, I am pretty sure.

This is a box of ornaments that my mom must have sent me years ago. The majority of the ornaments were given to her by her preschool students. She got so many every year. I have many memories of hanging them on our tree growing up.

This is a bendy Santa Claus that Kent has had for as long as I have known him. The antique radio in the background works too.

Kent with the ceramic tree that my grandmother made. She was on a kick for a couple of years of making these things at the senior center. I have to say that this is one Christmas item that I do treasure. The ribbon might be from Nonna too, not sure.

Here is a picture of a closeup of some of those teacher ornaments. The snowflake says 1984 on it. Is that an antique yet?

Artsy photo of some of the truly older bulbs Mom sent.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Car

I, Lori Gromen, have purchased my first car. Sure, I’ve owned a car before. When my grandpa died in 1996 I inherited his ’84 Chevy Celebrity, and Kent owns cars, of course, but I have never purchased an automobile with my own hard earned cash. That has all changed.

For $500 and cost for title and license, I purchased a 1991 Honda Civic with 118K miles. It's bronze in color, four door, and has a simple radio. Yeah, the back end is a little bashed in but the thing starts when you want it to and doesn’t stop when you don’t want it to, which is more than I can say for that god-forsaken truck we got out back. I got it from a friend who is leaving the country for a couple of years and if he ever comes back to Athens, I might just sell it back to him.

Kent took these pictures yesterday and it was snowing so they didn't turn out all that great.

I need new tires desperately and probably new brakes within a month. But those are the burdens of owning a car. If you want the freedom a car provides, you have to deal with the responsibility of maintenance.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More of the same

Two weeks later and we are still putting up the siding. Only now we are into the "danger zone". With the help of Tim K, Jason W, Charlie C, Tony X, Krista D, Paul T, Tom H, and Jim K (gee I hope I got everyone) we are well into the second floor of the house. Today, neighbor Tony got out his climbing gear and we roped in. It was incredible. We had ropes running through the house and out the windows. We hooked into those and pounded away. We stayed up there while Charlie handed us up the next row of siding. There is the small roof to stand on but it is not that big, somewhat steep and made of metal. The metal makes it a bit slippery too. So we tied off and made a day of it.
Hey Tony, that's one helluva way to hammer a nail.
We can take on the world!
Overall, there are some pretty funny shananingans going on and I wish I could get video or photos from it, but the truth is, we tend to need all hands on deck. So there just isn't a time to get it out. Hence the week and no pictures. But we did bust it out today and made sure we got a few of Tony and I up on the roof.
The end is in sight, and I hope the weather holds out. We have been very lucky lately. Which reminds me, I should check the forecast.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Lookie lookie

We are taking huge steps towards the advancement of our project we like to call our home. It's called siding. And we are finally putting it up. This weekend, we had a few friends over on Sunday to help out with the project. Kent and I had started a bit on Wednesday after work, but were only able to get a few sheets up. But it was a good start in the sense that we were able to get the starter strips up and see how it is to work with this material. We splurged and purchased the guillotine to cut the fibrous cement siding and I think it is going to pay off. As I mentioned in the earlier post, we borrowed some shears and grinder from a friend. The shears will come in handy for cutting around windows and the like, but the guillotine is awesome. No dust. Easy cut. And clean cut too.

Here's Kent and Jim putting up siding on the west facing wall. We started here because it is the least visible side. We figured if we mess up, less likely to see it.

I took this photo from Rick's old bedroom window.

Bye Bye Tyvek. (Okay, so the whole house isn't done. Not even close. But it will look good once it is, and this is a little teaser.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

News to you

Last weekend we had a fundraiser at the farm to celebrate all things farm, fall, and fun. Part of the festivities was a photo booth that featured farm implements and accessories and Kent and had fun taking the photo below. All in all the event was a success in money raised and smiles had.

As for the house, Kent has finished the trim on the inside and outside windows. We are in the process of putting the siding up by finishing the corner trim and other prep work. It was a gorgeous day today and we spent most of it outside working on this prep. We borrowed a saw from a contractor friend that cuts the fibrous cement board that we purchased. I was cutting strips with it for the starter row and let me tell you it is one hell of a dusty, messy job. I was wearing a respirator, safety glasses and ear protection and I still could tell it was entering my body. That stuff is so dusty (and unhealthy) when cut. Luckily, we won't have to deal with that too much. We splurged and bought a guillotine style cutting device that won't be nearly as messy for the majority of the cutting. But because I had to cut them in strips the long way, this was my only option. I tried to breathe in, cut, exhale, cut, breathe in cut, exhale, cut, and so on. I am not partial to this process already.

Other exciting news (this is very exciting for our neighbors) is that we have blinds on almost all of the windows. They are double celled and should provide a bit of insulating value. I got them online from blinds.com and I highly recommend this site. Easy to install and quick. Just a few more to go and the whole house will be done. These things are expensive, so I have to buy a few at a time. My version of the installment plan.

This past weekend was Halloween here in Athens. We played a little frisbee, had some friends spend the night, and kept it pretty chill. The cold nights have enticed me to light the woodstove up, which is nice in a way. I love the ambiance of it, and Kent and I tend to read in the evenings by the fire. Very relaxing. The luster of the fire hasn't been lost yet, and I hope it lasts for a while.

Kent's big news is that he bought an iphone. It is used, so it's not the latest and greatest. I suppose he got a good deal, but I just hope he doesn't become so attached to it. Although, I am glad he got something. His old phone couldn't hold a charge and therefore had to be plugged in when you talked to him. That's not much of a mobile phone.

Happy Halloween.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Quick update

I am waiting for the laundry machine to finish so that I can hang the clothes up to dry. While I wait, I thought I would write a quick update.

Newest news, I guess, is that I, Lori, am working for Americorps VISTA now. It's a one year position and my site is the Good Earth Farm. They are located about a mile from my house on the bike path, so it's an easy commute. The farm grows food for the local food pantries and soup kitchens. They also operate as an educational farm. It is only in it's third year, so things are rapidly expanding. Besides the produce, they also have two dairy cows, a bunch of chickens for eggs, four pigs, bees, and some goats and lambs for fleece. It is quite lovely.

My main task is to get volunteers out to the farm. The farm uses organic and sustainable agricultural methods which means labor intensive. And since it is small scale, there isn't any machinery that would be appropriate to use. Right now, everything is hand dug and hoed.

The house was a bit stagnant for a while because we didn't have any wood to finish the trim. We finally got that, and Kent is working on that. I put in a closet rod and shelves in the mud room to clean that up a bit. We still need to order siding. It's really a matter of time.

Kent is still doing the same old thing. Counseling and counciling.

No big trips planned right now. Too poor and too much to do around here. But that is okay, because there is so much to do here. And it is fall in Athens. Gotta love it.

Time to hang the laundry...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

10,000 miles and still going strong

After my morning errands, my bike odometer read 10,003 total miles on my bike. I bought the green Sedona Giant in 2001, so that comes to over a thousand miles per year. I would venture to say that ninety percent of those miles are commuting miles, including trips to work, the store, bank, farmer's market, ultimate practice, campus, etc. Sure, I occasionally hop the bike for a workout, but for the most part, it is my mode of transportation around town.

In the past ten thousand miles I have changed the tires once but patched the tubes many times. I am on my third (plush) seat, second front fender, chain, and front gear box. A few years ago I changed the grip shifters to rapid fire out of pure desire. (The bumpy bricks around town would ofter change my gears because my hands would bounce around so much.)

In the fall of 2004 it was stolen on campus even though it was locked up. Four months later I found it on another part of campus. Since I had reported the theft and bought the bike locally (they had the serial number), I could prove it was mine. The cops cut it loose and I was off. (I know, I am very lucky.)

This bike has seen the streets of Bar Harbor, Maine; Ottawa, Ontario; Burlington, VT; Madison, Wisconsin; and Seattle, Washington to name a few of the outpost we stopped at on our trip across the country. On that same cross country adventure, Kent and I rode old rail trails of the Black Hills of South Dakota and the 20 mile loop around Acadia National Park.

My longest ride was about 65 miles with my neighbor Tony, when we rode the Great Miami Bike Trail from Yellow Springs, Ohio to Cincinnati. We spent the night at my brother's house and then rode back the next day. Our reward that day was a visit to Young's Dairy for an ice cream sundae. mmmmmm, ice cream.

I get it serviced about every other year at the same store that I bought the bike, but I should probably do that more. I have a rack and saddle bag to carry groceries, books, or cleats, whatever is on the agenda for the day. Which reminds me, I need to go oil the chain. Later!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Happy Fourth of July to You!

Thanks to everyone who sent out invitations for various July Fourth Frolic opportunities. We were lame and stayed home. However, that meant much done on the house. Yes, we are still doing things on the house. Things like...door knobs! Yes, any guest of ours would know that things could have been a little more private in the Gromen-Butler household, if not for the holes in the doors. But now, yeah, we can shut the doors (and lock them). The reason it took so long is because we hadn't finished the doors yet. And it is one of those things you just don't think about until you have a house guest (with dog) for 2 months. In fact, with just 2 people in the house, I rarely shut the bathroom door.

On to other accomplishments:

Since we had to finish the doors (with Linseed Oil for those who are interested), we went ahead and finished some trim as well. Kent has been slowly but steadily installing trim on the first floor.

I put up blinds in the bedrooms and bathroom. (Again, yeah for privacy) We went with very simple double celled blinds that are supposed to help with keeping the heat in the house in the winter and out in the summer. nothing fancy.

We are still installing light fixtures. Both bathrooms are now done. The downstairs bath was tricking because the ceiling is so low (no picture, sorry). and the upstairs bath was tricky because the hole for the light was off center of the mirror and sink. This meant that Kent had to put a piece of wood behind the fixture to be able to center it. See photo below. So now you know the secret if you stop by for a visit.

The biggest change is my adventure in the kitchen. Last winter, some friends moved out of town and I scored some of this composite wood material that has the white laminate on it. It's the same stuff as my kitchen cabinets. With my new favorite tool, the pocket jig, I made 2 wall cabinets to the left and right of the stove. I also installed a butcher block countertop to the right of the stove. Don't get excited, I didn't make the butcher block, I cheated and bought it at Lowes. I did put the strip of oak on the left side to pretty it up and give it a straight edge. Then screw it in to the cabinets below and presto, instant countertop.

This is the beginnings of shelving unit. I didn't make doors, and decided to just leave it open. but I did add some trim to spruce it up a bit.

Here's the finished product. I added the face plate in the middle to hide the venting for the stove. I was hoping Kent could paint a picture there, or just the words "Buon Appetito". We'll see.

Now things are much more handy in the kitchen. No more bending over to get food or plates out of the lower cabinets. I still want a small pie safe or something like for more storage. But something will come up.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Post from home

I am writing this from my brother's new iPad. It is my first attempt at typing with this type of keypad. The difference I fInd is that you have to keep your fingers above the keypad. There is no resting. That is hard. I suppose it could make your wrists stronger. I suppose we will find out. Also. I have to look at the keypad. I can't lOok at the screen late all.

Kay this paragraph I am only looking ate etch a screen. And we wil, asde how I type, okY not So food.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Me again

House is moving along as Kent continues to put up trim. It's not so exciting, but I did include a picture for you. This is the little cutout we put in as you go up the steps to the second floor. We are going to put art in there or make it a bookshelf.

He also put up some of the lighting we bought at IKEA. Again, another picture because it is oh so interesting.

We had a visit from Doug and Gina and Sammy and Owen AND COLBY and BELLA! They were in town for the day seeing friends. I had to include this picture of Colby. I didn't even recognize him with that haircut. He looks like a handsome young pup now, as opposed to his distinguished look with the long hair. Hard to believe he is seven. It was a great visit, I think Owen is going to start associating our household with naturaly oddities since he saw a praying mantis last time he visited and the "caged birds" this time.

On the school front, I will be graduating this June, so if you know of any jobs available in the athens region let me know!

Other than that things are going well. The garden is coming in (hopefully the berries will not be ravished by the birds) and we are all in good health.

If you are in the neighborhood, stop by for a visit.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The last four months

We brought in a new decade with friends at the new house. Played games, ate good food, and stayed up past midnight.

Started a new term. Kent in his second term of serving on city council, Lori in her third term in grad school.

Winter months found Kent installing trim (a neverending job). Lori co-coordinated OHIO's efforts in the RecycleMania competition. Lori also continued her efforts of increasing food security in Athens by planning a fruit tree planting for this spring.

We heated with wood the entire winter. No other source of heat was used. We were very comfortable. The snowy winter got us out on the sleds and Lori even learned to snowboard with the help of her neighbor, Tony. The small hills of Athens are perfect to learn on.

March came, and so did spring. Garden is started. A lemon tree and tangerine tree were added to the orchard. These will stay indoors in the winter, but will thrive outside in our hot, sunny summers.

Frisbee reunion in Cincy brought friends together once again. Met some new additions which is always nice. Laughed for about 12 hours straight.

This spring we hope to continue work on the house. Siding needs to go up, trim continued, and kitchen finished. Though everything is very livable and we have enjoyed the comfort so far.

Also this spring, Lori hopes to finish school and find a job. Kent hopes to finish the house and play more frisbee.

Joy to all.