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Monday, June 26, 2017

Yes, You CAN Go Home Again

Have any of you been lucky enough to revisit your childhood home 46 years later?



Well, you CAN go home again, if the people who own your childhood home are nice enough to let you come and visit!

Yesterday I had the emotionally charged opportunity to GO BACK HOME AGAIN!

Let me step back a little bit here. A couple years ago I had Googled my childhood home address in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Not only did the address pop up on the maps for Google Earth, but also a business Facebook listing came up.

Of course, I had to pop off a message to her saying "You don't know me but..."

Since then, we have become Facebook friends and have chatted back and forth. She gave me a standing invitation that if any time I come down into that area I will be more than welcome to stop by.

It just so happened that Sunday I needed to run down to Milwaukee and pick up some items from a friend of mine who is moving. So I contacted the owners of my childhood home and asked them if it would be possible to stop by and visit?

They emphatically said yes and that hopefully I could spend the afternoon.

I drove down to Milwaukee and met up with my friends Karen and Herb. They are moving items from their home in Milwaukee down to their home in Florida and she had a large amount of weaving and spinning materials to get to me. We met up at Trader Joe's where I could stock up on my favorite Two Buck Chuck wine (Charles Shaw) and cookie butter. Then we went out for a little lunch to Applebee's and enjoyed some time together.

After piling my car full of bags of wool roving and weaving supplies, it was time for hugs and goodbyes.... now I could head on out to the next step of my adventure!

I swung up on the exit to Cedarburg which was crammed full of traffic due to the Strawberry Fest going on downtown. I didn't go anywhere near the downtown and instead cut around through Hamilton to go up to the cemetery first. I added some flowers to Grandma and Grandpa and Great Grandma's graves, it looks like cousin Laura has already been there along with some of the other Staton cousins.



I talked to them for a little bit and told Grandma I'm trying to do the best I can to become a grandma just like her. She is my role model for being a grandma. Always unconditionally loving and making sure everything is fair and giving all she could to her grandchildren.



Then I got back in my car and cut back over on Pioneer Road to the other cemetery. This is the one that my little sister Su Su is buried in. I made my way to her familiar grave and cleared off all of the overgrown weeds. There's some beautiful little statues and figurines there that my mom and my cousin Laura also put into place during previous visits.



I added new flowers to her grave and talked to her a little bit too. I told her I was going back home to where we used to live when she was such a sweet little girl. Sadly at the age of 2 and a half years old,  she had been hit and killed by a car in front of the home.

Here I am with her at a birthday party... 
and one of her with our big old tom cat, Tabby. 



But I wanted to focus on the happy years that we lived in that home 
and not focus on the loss of my little sister.

As I turned my car north up Horns Corners Road and headed over towards the house,  my heart started pounding. I drove past all the familiar houses along the way. Along my old school bus route. Many houses have taller trees or are remodeled-- but mostly the countryside is still the same as I remembered it.

As I drew up closer to the house, I had to slow down a bit and snap the picture of the home from the car. My heart was leaping up into my throat. The house came into view with taller trees around it. I was joyously happy to see it again.



Parking my car in the driveway, I eased out and took a deep breath. I was shaking. I don't know why but I was shaking. I looked around and it felt good. I was HOME!

Here is a quick 30 second clip I put on Youtube:

Long ago, it had been a country school house,
on a rural crossroads.  
It had already been made into a home 
when my parents bought it when I was 2 years old. 


J and L (I will call the owners) came out to greet me. With hugs all around they told me they were happy to give me this opportunity to see my childhood home. L never had a chance to revisit her childhood home and said she was happy to give me this chance as it was something she couldn't do for herself. J said that he had driven past his childhood homes a couple times and wished he could go inside. So both were very happy to give me this opportunity and use up a couple hours on a beautiful Sunday afternoon

We started walking around the yard, a lot of trees are new and different, but the old apple tree and the crabapple tree are still there as well as the big old white lilac bush and some of the purple lilacs. If you recall a few blogs back, for Mother's Day I just planted a white lilac bush in my own yard, remembering the one that I had as a child at this home.

From there we went to the garage. I reminisced as I looked at Dad's old work bench still in place. I saw the crazy cross boards pounded on to two of the wall studs leading up to the attic of the garage. We used this as a ladder to get up there.


I remember as a child crawling up this makeshift ladder and we would sit in a big aluminum flat cement mixing tub that Dad had stored up there. It was a hideaway or a clubhouse for us kids.

I saw the patched-up hole in the cement where the lightning bolt had hit on the floor....  Right at the entrance to the garage door on the right hand stall side. Dad had been in the garage as a storm was rolling in and a lightning bolt struck the floor and blasted a hole in the cement. Dad said the lightning bolt flashed around inside of the garage and all of the dust and dirt flew up into the air from the static electricity. He got the dirt in his eyes and came running into the house hollering and bellering and scared the bejesus out of us kids. I remember him bending over the kitchen sink with Mom at his side trying to rinse his eyes out with water --- and we were all terrified about lightning after that. What a memory.

We walked around the yard and admired J's wonderful work at arranging new flower beds and trees and bushes and shrubs. L showed me their special area where they buried their pets of the past years. It was right where we used to bury ours. She had a little Memorial Garden setup for all of her pets. I remember our pets well when we lived there: we had Duke the collie mix, Big Mike the big black lab, and Scooter a terrier mix... All who are buried in that yard.

Me n Duke at the door...
 and us kids with Scooter at the Doghouse



We also had Petunia the Beagle who moved up to Michigan with us in 1970. 

I remember all three cats that we used to have  over the years when we lived there. There was Tabby, Moonbeam, and Hasdroopal. Here I am with Hasdroopal... whatever Hasdroopal means, I don't know. It must be some German name we came up with?

In the background you can see the old apple tree (still there) 
and our big Cabin Crusier boat


Now it was time to go into the house. Oh my what a flood of memories! Right from the hallway as I entered the landing is a shelf to the right. This is where we lined up mason jars full of things we would collect like caterpillars and fireflies and bumblebees and whatever else we would catch in mason jars. The old door latch is still the same and  the door knocker is too.



I tried to take pics of the little things that sparked memories.. and not just sweeping pics of whole rooms. I wanted to protect the privacy of the new owners, but also the memories are seeing the house through my eyes, not their decor and possessions.

I had been telling L about some of our exploits in the basement so we turned to the right and went down to the basement first.

Oh my goodness what Memories. Underneath the wooden steps I remember all of us kids crouching on a old sleeping bag as tornadoes passed overhead and how scared we were hiding in the corner of the basement. Our house was not hit and we were very fortunate. But it became our go-to place to go whenever there was a storm.

I remember sitting on the old wooden steps in the basement with the neighbor kids. They taught me the song "Found a Peanut Found a Peanut Last Night" I have no idea where that memory came from but it comes back, clear as a bell.

On the wall to the right I could see where the old shelves had been at one time. The paint on the wall showed where the location was. My mother kept laundry supplies on that shelf including bluing. Do you remember bluing? For making white laundry even brighter? Well underneath that shelf she had a big old baby buggy. Mom would stick my little brother and sister in there while she was running clothing through the wringer washer (which can be very dangerous). She turned around to see my sister who was probably 4, squirting the bluing into my brother's light blonde white hair who was about the age of 3. My sister was playing hairdresser! This all happened while I was at school but I came home from school that afternoon to see my brother stretched across the kitchen counter, with his head in the sink, while my mother was scrubbing his hair under the faucet. She was trying to get the bluing out. His snow white blonde hair turned into green! It lasted for a couple weeks and I think this was around Easter time. So that meant that he had to go to church with green hair! Ahhhh the things we remember...

As I looked around the basement I remember things like riding around on our tricycles and our old pedal tractor. Or playing with roller skates clamped to our shoes... going around and around in figure eight fashion around the metal posts that supported the center of the house.

I don't remember it so much, but my mom said I broke my collarbone down there. I do remember my brother pulling me around on my tricycle like crack the whip and Mom said I came around the furnace and smacked into the hot water heater and broke my collarbone. I do remember wearing a harness. Being that we were out in the country we played a lot in our house in the basement and the attic and in the yard. We played a lot with each other because we were rural kids. We were each others best friends. Sometimes we would play with the neighbors kitty-corner across the road too. But usually we were pretty much six brothers and sisters all together in that one small house

We laughed about the sewer pipe where I would crawl up as a kid and i would pad it with a piece of dirty laundry, usually a towel, stolen from the washing area. I would lay up there on the pipe like a cat, and it was my Hiding Place. It was one horizontal section that joined into the vertical section and I could crawl up there on the ribs of the old cast iron sewer pipe. We kids found lots of cool places to hide or play. Maybe with a family of 6 kids I like to find places to hide so I could read a book. I fondly remember sitting in a crook of the apple tree, reading up in the hidden greenness of the leaves in my own little sanctuary. I was a voracious reader and read everything I could get my hands on.

Next, it was time to go up the stairs and see more of the house on the main floor. Amazingly so much is kept original. All the original hardwood floors, the trim woodwork, the doors and knobs, the arch to the hallway, yes.... everything is still the same. New paint of course, but the cabinets were the same and the layout, even some of the light fixtures were the same.


Amazing after 50 years that this was still my childhood home... and it was intact.   Even the cutting board!!!!  Some of those cuts were made by my mom, canning vegetables, preparing meals, making our sandwich lunches....


I felt the familiar groove underneath with my fingers as I pulled it out. 

It was J's idea that I sit on the kitchen counter in the same spot where this original photo was taken. What a hoot. I said I did not need to sit up there, but he insisted. They moved over their canisters and coffee maker and toaster etc to clear a spot for my butt to plop on their counter. They brought over a little step stool and made me perch there for a couple pictures.



 And through the magic of Photoshop
here I am doing dishes with myself 50+ years later! 
 This picture makes me cry,
I could never imagine this fanciful imaginative emotional child in the picture
would someday be doing dishes with her own self 50+ years later?  



I got to look at my old bedroom and envision where all of our beds had been. The home has 2 bedrooms on the main floor and an unfinished upstairs/attic area.  As each kid came along, our parents just made more room for another bed. The room is small but soon there were two sets of bunk beds and a crib crossways on the north wall. We had five children in that one bedroom! The two girls had the bunks on the right and the two boys had the bunks on the left. Toddler SuSu was in the crib and when baby Umpee (Eugene) came along, he was in a bassinet in our mom and dad's room across the hall.

Dad started building the bedrooms in the upstairs. There was room to make three or four bedrooms up there. He studded in the wall and started a room for the boys with some walls studded in and low pieces of sheetrock and never got any further before becoming disabled.

But the boys moved their beds up there anyhow which gave more room to the bedroom for us girls. In the open area of the unfinished attic he had made us a little school room. We had three little school desks up there and he put a chalkboard on the wall of unfinished studs. Imagine my surprise when J and L pointed to the chimney. Even though they have the entire upstairs now finished, they left the chimney brick exposed. Look at this!


Yes, this is our artwork from one of us six kids. I have no idea what it says or who did it. All I know is it is for sure from one of us. How amazing that they did not cover it over or repaint the chimney in any way. It is preserved for us children, now grown, to know that we spent many happy hours in the upstairs of this house playing "School".


The other thing we did in this upstairs is very unusual. The wide plank floors had a lot of knot holes. The knots had fallen through and there were these big holes. It became a fun game for us to roll marbles across the floor and see if they could make it from one end of the attic to the other without falling in a hole. Of course many of our marbles did fall in the holes...

Can you imagine J and L crawling around on the floor with a flashlight looking in these holes and finding our Treasures? The holes are too small to reach in and grab anything... but it one hole L even spotted a little pink beaded bracelet that must have come from one of us girls. J mentioned as he was finishing off the attic area he did find some small toys crammed around the edges where he was doing the insulation in the eaves and blocking it off. He said he found little toys like old Fisher-Price people and marbles and whatever ----and said he saved them in a box somewhere. Maybe someday if he comes across them I will be able to see our old toys? What a treasure!



The job they did with finishing the upstairs off is absolutely wonderful they made such a nice area. L has a separate craft room, and a bedroom and some huge walk-in closets as well as a nice open seating area and lots of storage. That is what my parents had wanted to do, but circumstances changed and we moved away before dad ever had a chance to finish it.

Sadly, the circumstances were that my sister had died, plus my dad had been disabled from some accidents and surgeries on his stomach. Mom just couldn't bear to live there anymore.

Dad had some friends whose father had been fixing up a house up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (his hometown area). Their father had died and the family still owned the house and wanted to get rid of it. So we had an opportunity to buy that house. Dad went up ahead of time and started fixing it up for us to move there. They put our little Cedarburg home on the market it sold very, very fast. We had to rush to pack everything up and leave.

I was almost 10 years old and I did not want to leave. We were so close to our Grandma and all of our cousins and this was the only life we had known. This quaint little pioneer theme town of Cedarburg, full of culture and art and wonderful things, was going to be left behind. I remember that day of October 10th, 1970. I looked out my window for one more time from my bedroom and said I will remember this view forever. Then I picked a little rock out of the driveway and I still have that rock to this day and it has been in my jewelry for box 46 years.


Yes, good things come to an end. But through the kindness and compassion of J and L, I was able to go back home again and relive it one more time.

Excuse me now while I go and cry.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

I Inhaled Some Bad Weed!!

Not weed as in marijuana, you silly goofs...

I have been sick as a dog for the past 6 days... and it all started with weeding my flowerbed last Wednesday.


I was busy as a bee, pulling out old dead vegetation, snipping back on dead tulip stalks and digging up yellowed spent mushy rotten leaves. I was digging down in the dirt and happily spending my evening in my flower bed.




At one point when I was tossing lots of pulled up weeds n junk into the wheel barrel, I somehow inhaled when stuff was flying through the air, I guess.

I could feel something go into my lungs and I started coughing. I kept coughing and coughing throughout the rest of the evening and night, trying to cough up whatever it was that got into my lungs. It wasn't blocking my air way, but I could just feel something in there tickling away at me.

If you know me, I also have a history of a chemical spill resulting in lung damage. I was on oxygen for quite a number of years, so my lungs aren't the best to begin with.

By Thursday morning, I was still coughing and by midday I finally coughed up a tiny green triangle shape of some kind of vegetable matter.

Whee, I thought that took care of it.

Nope.

Still some more coughing, and now the fevers and chills started. The first I thought maybe I had the bad luck to have started a summer cold. I started to treat myself with cold medicines, and Tylenol, but nothing was stopping it.

Friday came and went in some kind of a fog. I had some antibiotics on hand from my last bout of pneumonia, and started to take them.

I was thinking about going to the doctor, but thought I would wait until the weekend passed. I don't like to run to the doc for every little thing.

By Saturday I was soaking in a tub of eucalyptus and epsom to help breathe better. It helps some. I wasn't coughing as much but I could feel the phlegm inside. Fever and chills, but no other cold symptoms.

By now, I guess I have an infection. I am even having a kind of gurgling on my exhalations. Not good.

Sunday evening I actually started feeling a little better, so I thought I was just rallying around and getting over a cold.

Didn't sleep very good during the nights, and during the days I felt pretty weak.

Monday I just started feeling more miserable than ever. I tried to really do some normal things and kick myself in gear. Nope.

I kept trying to do things around the house, but I am feeling so drained of energy and lack of sleep. The coughing has hurt my ribs and stomach muscles.

Steve was busy for a couple hours over at his brother Pete's, but when he got home, I said enough is enough.

 Time to go into the doctor...

Since our insurance changed on January 1st, I do not yet have a pulmonologist yet, or even a primary doctor with our new health system. I looked online and found out we could just go into the convenience care clinic in Fond du Lac and see what they could do. I didn't have a lot of "Hope".

Boy oh boy, was I ever surprised! We were treated so well. Information was quickly taken, and I was escorted directly in the room without even having a chance to sit back in the waiting area with Steve.

The nurse took down some more information and my vitals, said the doctor would be right with me and he was coming in the door as she left the room.

He immediately got me into x-ray, and that gal took me directly to the changing area, did the x-rays, and escorted me back to the waiting area.

I didn't even sit down for more than 3 seconds, and the doctor called me back again to his examining room.

He said I have an infection in my lungs. As for the x-rays, he said that it needs to go to a pulmonologist and be read by a radiologist. He had me cough up a bit of phelgm that he sent off for testing, and the results should be back in the morning.

He said I may need to have a procedure done which rinses my lungs to flush it out. The pulmonologist he is referring me to will determine what is the next step.

In the meantime he was going to give me some stronger antibiotics, some stronger cough medicine, stronger inhaler, and recommended probiotics (which I already eat daily in yogurt).

At the front desk, the gal took care of getting me connected to a pulmonologist in the system, agreed to send him all the reports and x-rays from our visit, and said they would call me by 8 a.m. in the morning.

From there we were ushered across the hallway to the pharmacy in the convenience  care clinic and they had my prescriptions filled in five minutes flat.

The whole experience was done in 45 minutes from in the door to back out to the car!

I have never had such an efficient walk-in clinic visit as this.

And sure enough, the pulmonologist called me at 8 a.m. to set up my appointment, and after the lab tests come back we will have a little better idea of what we are dealing with.

As of noon today, Tuesday, the newest antibiotics are kicking in and I am feeling better already.

Steve happened to be off work Monday and Tuesday from his old fart party bus job so he is here taking good care of me.

He is also replacing the muffler on the tracker.

And he is replacing the fan belt on the Lincoln.

In between he keeps dashing back into the house to check on me. Awwww

And ---- he is NOT letting me back out in my flower garden!









Friday, June 2, 2017

Eternabond Tape and Washing Motorhome Roof

To start off this blog, I just wanted to mention today is a special anniversary. 22 years ago today, Steve and I had our first date!!  A friend from work had set us up and we had spoken on the phone for a few weeks, and finally decided to meet face-to-face.

I was a very busy single mom, selling real estate and handling all the advertising for the firm. It was rare that I could take off an hour or two on a Saturday in between open houses. Steve said he had to leave later that afternoon to pick up some new exhaust pipes for his motorcycle. So we only had about an hour or so to get together.

We arranged to meet at a little ice cream shop not too far from my house, called the Hansen's Dairy on Gray Street in Green Bay.  https://www.facebook.com/Hansens-Dairy-and-Deli-162993840386629/


I was delightfully surprised at this beautiful tall good-looking guy who seemed to be honest and sincere. Ya know, after my dating a few toads who didn't even turn into a frog, much less a prince, I kind of figured out this guy here was a real "Keeper".

He said he found me very easy to talk to and enjoyed the stories I told about camping and kids and dogs. He really loved camping too and we made a good pair.

Hansen's ice cream store was having a promotion with Stewart root beer and they were making root beer floats in these commemorative mason jars that they were giving away. We each saved our jars from that date and we still use them every year for a rootbeer float.


Guess what's for dessert tonight?

Here are some pics of what we looked like way back when----




~~~~~~~~~

Okay, enough of that love bird stuff. Now on to the topic of my blog. Back in 2009, we had coated our roof of our motorhome with a layer of elastomeric paint. Here is the blog post from that day.  Coating our RV Roof with Elastomeric Paint   At the same time we had sealed both end caps where the fiberglass meets the roof with a four inch wide swath of Eternabond tape

Sadly, this spring we went to investigate the motorhome after sitting out in the winter snow, and realized we had a roof leak!! Upon further examination Steve found two little areas that he felt the Eternabond tape had come loose or worn through with two little holes. I personally think it was from a tree branch somewhere last fall.

Either way, it let the ice and water get into a little gap which left a huge stain on the ceiling of our motorhome. Steve immediately sealed the gap on the roof with some Dicor brand RV caulk and that took care of the leak. On the inside I spritzed the ceiling with the Fantastic/Scrubbing Bubbles/Oxy Power solution, scrubbed with hot water and white terrycloth rags, and the stain faded away to almost nothing.

(best stuff EVER for removing roof leak stains from white carpeted RV ceilings!) 


But just to be sure this didn't happen again, we ordered a wider roll of the Eternabond tape to go over the existing layer.  6" x 10 feet ordered from Walmart for $35.90 plus $4.50 shipping.

It came the other day, and Steve decided it was time to scrub the roof really well before applying the Eternabond. Using TSP cleaner, and a good stiff brush, he scrubbed the roof from one end to the other. He uses our pressure washer to spray it off, but not under heavy pressure. He sets it very light. Also he uses hot water from the house in the hose. He had added a valve in the basement to turn our outside water spigot from cold to hot if need be. Very handy~


Here is all of his equipment getting set up on the ground. He said there was really no need for me to go up on the roof with him, although I did help with the initial application of the elastomeric paint years ago. This time I just got to stand on the ground and hand him things as needed.

He loves his telescoping ladder and keeps it in the storage compartment on the motorhome. He has two foam blocks that are used for hauling canoes or kayaks on the rooftop of a car. He puts them on each side of the ladder so it does not mark up the painted fiberglass of the motorhome. This kinda grips it and doesn't let it slide from side to side either.



Yep, this is the before picture. What a filthy mess! I gave Steve the camera to take these pictures up there. The paint is flaking off our Maxi Air vent covers. I asked him to remove those now so I can take off the rest of the chipping paint. Maybe some fingernail polish remover acetone will do it?


Yes, those are our solar panels up there. We have five 100 watt panels which adequately provide us plenty of power for the for deep cycle batteries that we use when boondocking.


Just look at how filthy dirty this thing is,
 and all the dirt running down the side of off the roof.

 

So here is my guy up there working hard in the morning before it got too hot out.  The temps were in the mid 70's and there was a nice breeze too.



Once he gets the roof done, he has to quickly drop down and wash the sides before the TSP leaves streaky marks.

Steve uses an automotive car wash solution in his bucket for the sides of the motorhome. We do not use Dawn dish soap because it can strip off our finish. 

Our motorhome sides never needs any wax. It's never been waxed in the 21 years since it was made. It has a special Mercedes paint, with layers of clear coat over it. All it needs is automotive car wash soap and a little light brushing and a rinse---  Voila it's done.

The stainless steel door panels on the lower portion must never ever be scrubbed or polished with anything, There is a protective coating on it. Once you accidentally strip that coating off, then you always have to clean them with scouring stainless steel cleaners. Other people with the same type of motorhome found out the hard way to never remove that coating.  Now they have to polish it all of the time. So we are very careful to never remove the coating on our stainless steel doors.


I went up on our back shaker porch and snapped this picture when he was done. It looks pretty clean from here and he said it was like night and day as he scrubbed off the roof.



Here is the area of the two little holes that were in the old tape. I think something poked through there, or rubbed it down to the horizontal seam you can see. That is where we think the water intruded and froze and left a gap over the winter. The few times we went in the rig during the winter we didn't see any evidence of a roof leak, so I think it just leaked this spring after the ice melted



Here is the new roll of the wide Eternabond that we bought. I snapped a picture of the label but we will store the label and receipt away because there is a 25-year warranty on it. This is some of the best stuff out there and almost any RV repair place will recommend Eternabond sealing products.



Steve waited until the roof was good and dry later in the afternoon. He came back from one of his old fart party bus runs and went back up on the roof to apply the Eternabond.



Look what a nice neat job he did! He rolled over it with a small wooden wallpaper roller. He applied a lot of pressure. The more you squish as you roll the tape, the more it mixes the chemicals inside the tape material to create a good bond. Now they also include a little tube of sealant with the Eternabond tape to go around all of the edges. He did that too,


What a great job, and thanks to Steve
we can now rest assured that we will not have
 another roof leak
hopefully ever again.

While I was relaxing out in the backyard in my chaise lounge (watching Steve work) I shot this little film of our silly dogs. They so totally enjoy their "Big Backyard". Just watch them race around. Those are some really happy dogs:



It looks like our weekend is not going to contain any camping. Steve is helping his brother today with building a retaining wall with some big stones that were delivered at his new house he just built. Then we are going to be helping out with some items over at the Calumet County Historical Museum before the big opening for the season on Sunday.

Also, I am working today on a donation quilt for the Wisconsin Sheltie rescue. We adopted our Shelties from this great organization. This year is their 20th year in existence and they are having a reunion in June. I usually donate a couple items for the silent auction to help with fundraising.

This year I found some really cute doggie material in prints and I am working on some blocks. I'm almost ready to start putting them together with blue strips in between. I only have two weeks to get it done so I better get my butt in gear.




I think I'm going to toss a couple steaks and baked taters on the grill tonight, and of course we will have our anniversary root beer floats in our little mason jars.

What a lucky girl I was to find this wonderful man 22 years ago, and I think if you asked him, he would say the same thing too!