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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Our Old House Project - My Early Birthday Present

Since only 2 of the 3 parts are in for the motorhome repair, my Steveio is just waiting around with nothing to do. Oh my... that is NOT good for him, is it?

Well---- a while back he mentioned that both our shower and bathtub upstairs are draining slower and slower.  Even with cleaning out the trap, they are the last of the old original steel drain and copper water plumbing pipes left in the house. The rest has all been replaced with newer PVC drain pipes and Pex water lines.   He said in order to drill in a new hole to go down inside of the laundry room wall on the first floor, then he would have to pull up the bath tub to get access!  Oh my, that is not good either.

On Sunday night, he said that since he has to pull up the tub, would this be a good time to actually get the bigger corner tub that I looked at 5 years ago when we first redid the bathroom??  It was not in our budget at that time and we bought a cheaper regular tub instead. We decided to put the money into the separate stand-alone shower.  The tub was fine, and it was deeper than most on the market. I was happy with it. 

But in our last home, in Oconto, we did have a big corner tub which was soooo nice! It was good for soaking, or bathing grandkids, or even getting a romantic evening as it had a two-person capacity.

I said to him: "Yes, a corner tub would be nice, but we are watching the budget for the motorhome brake repairs, remember?"    Then he turned around his laptop to show me his screen of what he found on Craigslist!!!

It turns out that last year, a guy had bought the same exact tub that I had looked at 5 years ago.  It had to only be 4 foot on the side walls because of our window placement. The more common 5 foot ones are too big for our bathroom configuration.  So I knew that the 4 foot Lyons Sea Wave was the only one that would fit in our house.

That Craigslist guy brought this tub up to his cottage near Rhinelander and planned on remodeling his bathroom up there.  It took over a year and a half before he was ready to set the tub in place, and guess what?  It was TOO BIG for his cottage!  Now it was too late to return it. He listed it on Craigslist for a very, very good price.  He was only asking $150.  New it is over $600.  Steve said we can re-use my same faucet and drain and it can be my early birthday present. Wheeeeee!

Steve said "Let's hook up the trailer and go see the tub".  It was a little trek over to Wisconsin Rapids where the guy lived. (about 90 miles one way)  He met us in the parking lot at his place of business.  He and Steve wheeled and dealed until they settled on $130.00  Ahhhh that sure is a nice early birthday present for me. 

We drove home and while he had it in our own driveway, Steve MADE me get in the tub and try it out.  Hahahaa I knew I would like it, because I sat in it 5 years ago on display in the store too.



I could just see it---
 full of bubbles, 
soft music,
 and a glass of wine! 



Monday morning he had a little time to get the old tub unhooked and removed from the corner in the bathroom.  Underneath where it was located is where he needs to put down the new drain lines with proper traps and a vent (which weren't correct in the old plumbing configuration anyhow). 



There... the old tub is out! He had to leave and drive for his job later on that morning, but we carried the old tub down and set it in the garage. It was only 70 pounds and we managed that easy enough. I am going to sell it on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace because it's just fine, and only 5 years old.

Now he has the access room to put down the new drain pipe and lines and cap off the old ones.  In the meantime he set the bath tub faucet (that we are re-using) into the shower stall next to the tub to the right.  Just in case of it getting bumped, I taped the lever down.  The shower still works, as he later capped off part of the old drain that went to the tub.



We carried up the new tub together. It was a bit awkward around the three turns of our front staircase, but we made it!  It weighs 110 pounds, but between the two of us we managed to get it up there. Whew!  It's good that we are doing these projects while we are still strong and in our late 50's for me and 60 for Steve.  We won't be able to do these kind of house remodeling projects 10 or 20 years down the road.  

We set the tub into place to take measurements and figure out the drain placement.  We have an extra piece of flooring and sub floor to splice in later to cover the open older plumbing area. 



The new tub is shorter in length on the side walls (4 ft vs 5 ft) so luckily we have extra beadboards from when we updated the walls last winter.  I am glad I saved the leftovers! We pulled the boards back to remove the short ones and replaced them with the longer ones to fill in the gap.  The baseboard will go back on once we set the tub into place permanently.



Steve drilled the new drain hole using a hole saw.  Oh wow... they sure made houses strong and sturdy in 1913!  We don't hear a lot of upstairs noise and that is because there is a 3/4 inch subfloor of heavy old pine, then 3/4 of an inch of thick hardwood flooring (the bathroom had been originally wood floors!)  and then a subfloor of 1/4 inch thick wood too.  Then the wall plate was also 2 inches thick to drill through as well.  Back then in 1913 real 2x4 boards measured 2" by 4".



Steve had to go and drive again today for a while, so he had to let the project sit and percolate in his brain. What a frustrating thing for him to have to do.  He loves projects and says this is his version of "fun".  Once he got home, he couldn't even wait for me to cook supper.... he went right to work assembling the drain pieces and dry fitting and double checking the measurements. 


You know the old adage:
"Measure twice - Cut once"
It works on both wood and on plumbing. LOL

He then went down in the basement to double check where the old pipes were tying into the newer sewer pipes that were installed back 5 years ago. Now he can bypass the old cast iron sewer pipes and everything will be new plumbing, once he ties it all together. 

While he was doing that, two little Nosy Rosies came in to see what was going on.  They like to bark at the drills, saws and hammers.  I popped them both in the tub to keep them out of trouble.  Do they look like they get into trouble?? 



After supper, I decided that we should relax a bit. He put in a full day between tub removal, taking measurements, drilling holes and then working for 4 hours.  I made up some chicken stir fry and we are settled back in our comfy chairs.  He is antsy and I am thinking he is going to pop back up and go double check something. Soon I will hear a saw or a drill or something going on?

I was looking online and decided to splurge on something for my new bathtub too.... my old chrome bath caddy won't span the wider tub width, so I found this one that will go to 42 inches wide to fit the new tub. How nice is this?  It's made from bamboo to withstand moisture, and has legs if I want to use it as a bed tray too.  Happy Birthday to ME!  (even though my birthday isn't until October 31)



Hmmmm I wonder how long he will sit still in his chair?  


Monday, October 15, 2018

It's That Time of Year to Say Goodbye to the Yard

In comes the frost 
and out goes the flowers.

The temps in Wisconsin have finally gotten down below the 32 degree mark at night. That of course means one thing. All of our flowers are done for.  We covered them up the first few nights of low temps to get a bit more life out of the blooms.  But now it is time.

They're full of wilting heads and shriveling leaves hanging down off of the window boxes. It looks kind of sad.  The flower gardens are all withering stalks of mushy vegetation and brown curled up drying leaves.

Sunday was crisp and cold, and the winds of Saturday had also died down.  Steve and I grabbed our work gloves, the wheel barrow, the little red wagon and a pile of large garbage leaf bags. The dogs ran around the back yard, barking their fool heads off at the neighbors who were also getting their yard work done.  (they think the neighbors are "burrrglurrz" and need to warn us of their presence).  After a few minutes of that noise, we put them inside to watch us from the windows instead.

They watched us pull out the flowers from the window boxes... which really gave us a lot of enjoyment this summer.  The flowers had grown so tall, they could be seen nicely from inside of the house as well as outside.  This is the side windowbox by the family room... where the dogs can look out from their little ottomans.



The front box had a few less blooms, but the greenery was still in pretty good shape.  Oh well, they all had to go! There was snow in the forecast.  I want these boxes put away for the winter, after Steve worked so hard to build them last spring.



Steve pulled up the clumps of plants and they were so pot bound that it pulled out all of the soil in a perfect rectangle shape!  He had to actually break it up into sections to put it into the bags, after I dug off the pieces of styrofoam.  We had added those to the bottom to work as lightweight drainage instead of gravel.  We didn't want the styrofoam to go into the mulch recycling program at the city refuse yard.



After we pulled off the boxes and stored them away in the garage, I had to wipe off all the leaf and blossom marks they left on the windows. I wasn't going to do ALL the windows of the house, just the ones that I could reach.



It made me smile to think of old Mr. George Kopf Sr., who used to do the windows on the house too.  I was given a picture of him working on the same section of the house 45 years before.  That was when it was three separate sash windows, which had been replaced with the more modern one years later.  Someday if I find three old sash windows, I would like to restore them back to original too. 



We cleared out the pots of flowers as well.  On each side of the garage door this year I had planted these new pedestal planters I got from Craigslist.  These geraniums and spikes grew like crazy and I added some ivy.  Whew... did they ever get pot bound!  The roots were even growing out the bottom holes of the planters and dangling 6 inches below the pots! 




Up in the front, the same story--- The two cement planters on the stoop were pot bound so tight that there wasn't any dirt left in the pots!   Guess next year I should plant fewer plants per pot?



Even though we had frost, there were a few brave clematis blooms poking out their pretty heads yet for a bit of sunshine.  Now I clipped those plants back to about 3 feet tall so they could have some old growth stalks to help support the new shoots next year.   This is a new plant I bought this year that took off and grew quite well.  I love the delicate pale blooms with the pretty purple thin lines of accents.   I hope it survives the winter? 



The vintage old purple ones are as tall as the top of the windows on the front porch.   I love these clematis because they give shade from the southern facing sunshine into the front porch, plus you can see the purple blooms from inside the windows. It keeps growing back bigger and bigger each year. 



This is the same original old plant that appears in photos from 1947 that the Kopf family shared with us.  This is George Kopf Jr., the son of the man who appears in the old photo above.  You can see the clematis plant to the left corner in the pic below of his 8th grade graduation.  We "re-created" his childhood photo when he came to visit the house in August.  



It was time to hoist up my little Dutch girl and boy into the red wagon and haul them off to the garage.  They are very heavy cement and take a lot of "oomph" to move them. I suppose they could winter outside, but I would like the paint to last and not have to redo them every year.  I nabbed them cheap from a rummage sale last fall, (I think 10 bucks) and they graced my front flower bed all summer long.  Now they can sleep in the wagon all winter... hibernation?



While we were working on the flower beds, pulling up clumps of coleus and begonias, this little guy was hiding out by the downspout in the corner.  We know he lives under our front porch.  As long as he doesn't nibble on my tomato plants in the summer, I don't mind him hiding out.  He is almost grown now. His mom used to live under the front porch as well, and I have a feeling he was born here.   Once in a while the dogs give him a good chase, but he easily flings himself through the fence spindles and gets away to a safer spot.



AHHHHHH my precious hydrangeas!   These are started from small slips and shoots from my friend Charlotte back in our old town of Oconto.  They have multiplied and flourished well here in Chilton.  I dug up some last spring to move to another spot in the yard and they have survived as well.  Next spring we are going to share some with Steve's brother Pete who is landscaping his new yard at his newly built house.  For now, the creamy white blooms have all gone rusty brown. I snipped off some of the heads and sprayed them with clear acrylic spray to preserve them in a vase in the house.  The rest of the plants we snipped off about 3 feet tall with the electric hedgetrimmer for the winter.



Steve started to load up the back of the Tracker after I spread a tarp down on the floor.  We put in all of the coleus plants we pulled up. It's easier to clean them up in the fall than in spring dealing with mushy old vegetation. I learned the hard way last spring when I breathed in some of the rotting old leaves and got soooo sick! I ended up pneumonia in both lungs and it took three separate courses of antibiotics to rid myself of the illness.  So this year, all the vegetation gets pulled in the fall so I am not messing with moldy old leaves next spring.



We chopped off the hosta plants at ground level and bagged up the large flat leaves, as well as the blossoms and clippings from the rest of the yard. We had six big bags to haul besides all of the loose stuff in the Tracker. Whew!



Our city has a big refuse area to bring yard waste.  They let you pile the loose stuff in one area and then the tree branches in another. They grind it all up and make piles of mulch for next year.  It is used in the local parks and also available to the residents to take for their own gardens and yards.  How nice is that?   (someone tossed SILK flowers in the pile... we pulled them down to the side to separate them from the real stuff... geesh)



These are all of the rows of tree branches that are collected in large rows as people unload them.  The city crews run these through a chipper device to make wood chips for next spring.



After we were done with all of that, it was time to come home and relax in our chairs and take a break!   I grabbed ice water and Steve did a glass of his favorite limeade as we got comfy in our livingroom.  Whew... what a day.



But --- But --- But ---

That didn't last long!  

Steve found something on Craigslist and we had to jump back up and head out to go get something for my "early birthday present".  Here we go with another project???


More on that in my next blog! 


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Halloween Event at High Cliff State Park in Wisconsin

Wow, we sure got busy this week and I never got around to writing about our Halloween Walk at High Cliff State Park.  We were the camp hosts all week long, and got our site decorated after Wednesday's storm blew through.  We didn't bother putting anything up on the campsite before that, because it would have blown away into the next county.

Steve hauled out all of our totes of decorations from the garage, and set them out for me to start the Halloween Decor efforts.  All of the campsites are reserved 11 months in advance at midnight, with everyone clamoring to get a site.  There are 112 campsites and 8 large group sites that can hold larger numbers of people (I think it's 20 per site now?)   This is a BIG event and people come from all over to walk through the campgrounds and collect treats from the campers.  (I had 1,600 pieces of candy on hand and my nephew contributed more so we started with about 2,000 pieces)  We expect between 4.000 and 5,000 people to attend!

Here is our camphost site, all spiffied up. 


 We added lights and pumpkins and 
silly things, trying to not get too scary for the little ones. 



Less than 40 sites have electricity at High Cliff, but this is the one time of the year that generators are allowed in the non-electric sites too.  So those people could fill up with lights and fun inflatables too.  Believe me, many people did a LOT more to their sites than we did... they put up huge displays with fun electronics, lights, and soundtracks....  even spooky haunted trails leading through their site to get to the candy bowl etc.



  I think our scariest guy is our gargoyle,
and he is kinda cute too. 



This sign was a little icky, 
but the little ones can't read anyhow.  LOL 



Our motorhome even got into the act! 
Frankenstein and Dracula hung out in the front windshield 
with some eerie white LED lights for illumination.



I am glad our camphost site is large and welcoming.
We were having family join us for the celebrations of birthdays as well.
(we later covered the cord with a heavy rubber mat) 



Our kids, Dan and wife Heather, with grandkids Mason and Allegra got to the park on Friday afternoon to spend the weekend as well.  They decorated up their campsite in front of their camping trailer to join in the fun.  We are so glad all of our kids are following in our camping footsteps and show their kids the fun they had when they were younger and went camping with us. 



Our friend Vicky came out to join us, with her shelties Stuart and Tara.  We took the dogs for a walk around the park before the festivities really got underway. That way we could see things and be able to be back at our own campsite when the throngs of people started coming through.  Of course, some of the grandkids had to join us on our doggie walk as well. 



While we were walking, 
the four older grankids decided to serenade (and practice) 
singing Happy Birthday to the littest cousin, Claire. 



Soon the rest of our families came to the campsite, to join in our special gathering. See, it's little Claire's second birthday, and we also celebrate my birthday too (which is ON Halloween!)  It's a fun family time to get together for the big walk at High Cliff and get all of the October Birthdays done too.   Grandmuddah and Granddaughter got piled up with gifts to open..... 



 Then everyone sang to little Claire the Happy Birthday song again...
She seemed to be more interested in the cookie! 


Our daughter Erin arranged to have these special gourmet cookies made for us,
instead of cakes...  it is a great way to serve up a group, and each one is a work of art! 
Mine were all sewing and yarn related....
and Claire's were all about puppies, her favorite animal at the age of 2.



After all of the presents were opened, little Claire and Whitney set about to explore the toys that Claire got for her birthday.  I love this pic of them both being busy busy busy with the Fisher Price Farm that we got for Claire.



Then it was time to change into costumes for the trick or treating walk.  What fun!!!  Little Whitney was an adorable unicorn, and Chelsea was a ghoul with lit up eyes (with a little battery pack)... creepy!



Clayton was some kind of super Ninja guy
and little Claire was Scrappy Doo



Allegra was a unicorn with all over jammies to keep warm
and silly Mason was a Floppy Flamingo! 


Our daughter Erin and husband Waylen love to get dressed up
and take part in the fun.  
They are Velma and Scooby Doo
(danged dog) 




The Choate Family 


I cooked up a crock pot of my calico beans, and Steve grilled up a bunch of brats and hot dogs for the kids.  We fed everyone lunch to get something in their stomachs before all of that candy and beverages for the adults.  Later I had a big crock pot of chili waiting for them after getting treats... and my friend Vicky brought along some of her great rice krispie bars to munch on. 

Our nephew Matt and wife Amanda also joined in
as well as daughter Heather and soninlaw Jesse.  

The youngens did a few jello pudding shots
but Grandfaddah and Grandmuddah were hosts on duty, 
so we didn't imbibe. 



The people started coming down the roads of the campground.  The rangers block off the roads to all automobile traffic, so it's safe and fun.  Soon the crowds increase to a solid flow of people past our campsites.  We tried to remind the kids to only take ONE piece of candy, so there is enough for all.  A few would come through again and again, especially when I refilled with the chocolate bars!



This creepy leprechaun comes year after year. I have no idea what he looks like behind the mask.  Amanda was looking for him and finally found him. He was up on the roof of a camper, squealing and dancing in elfish delight!  I am sure he imbibed in a few beverages as well. 



Soninlaw Waylen brought a smoke machine.  It's harmless smoke made from glycerine and water. The kids had fun playing with it, and by using a remote control it would smoke out into the road when groups came by the campsite.   Grandnephew Lil Matt took care of the candy bucket and the smoke machine as the people came by our site.


The main event was from 4 pm to 8 pm. 
We doled out the candy, and by 8 pm this is ALL we had left! 

Actually a little less than that, I took the pic about quarter to 8.

Our kids who weren't camping, that had just come for the day, had now left 
and headed home with sleepy grandkids full of candy! 

Things calmed down nicely in the campground --- by 11 pm all was pretty quiet.  Being camphosts means we can be called upon to help out or call the rangers or wardens to handle conflicts.  Our only problem was someone dropped a brandy bottle in the men's shower about 10 pm and it shattered into a zillion pieces.  It skittered across under the dividers into all three shower stalls. Steve and I cleaned it up, carefully wiping down every inch of floor to be sure we got any shards, and then rinsing the floors thoroughly to rinse down any tiny pieces. We would hate to have someone step in there to take a shower and cut their feet! 

ON EDIT...  THE COUNT AT THE GATE FOR THE PARK WAS OVER 5,000 PEOPLE ON SATURDAY!  SOME MAY HAVE BEEN THERE TO WALK THE TRAILS OR ENJOY THE PICNIC GROUNDS, BUT MOST WERE FOR THE HALLOWEEN EVENT AT THE CAMPGROUNDS!) 
  
Grandson Mason fell asleep in our camper, so we let him spend the night.  In the morning he helped me create our "Breakfast Bake" casserole.  It's becoming a family tradition and a good way to feed a group of people at the same time with eggs, ham, bread and cheese all rolled into one. 



 (NOTE... I OMIT THE MILK... IT BAKES BETTER) 
also we used ham instead of bacon or sausage.



Now it was time to tear down all of the decorations.  It was due to rain in the afternoon, and also the Packer Game was going to be on tv at noon.  Mason helped Grandpa tear it all down and load it up into the totes.  Another Halloween Event at High Cliff is in the books!


Although we could remain as camphosts for the rest of the month, there is another couple who usually host for a month that missed out in the rotation this summer because they went to Alaska.  So they were more than happy to come and take our place for the rest of the month.  With our brake problem on the motorhome, Steve wanted to get it home in our yard and go over every inch of the system and then test it out. Kinda hard to do that while camphosting and being set up on the site for 30 days.  So they were eager to get moved over and set up on our campsite before noon rolled around as well. 

 I headed on home driving the Tracker about 11 am
while Steve did the Dump Station Conga Line
on a Sunday morning:



As for the brakes, Steve said they were kinda sorta working on the way home, but the front brakes were smoking by the time Steve pulled into the yard~!! Dang they locked up and we hope he didn't warp the rotors or fry the calipers.  Also the pac brake (exhaust or "jake brake" as some call it) was not operating properly either!  Steve ordered some more parts that will be in later this week.  We postponed or possibly cancelled our upcoming trip to Tennessee and Florida.   We are bummed, but we have to have the motorhome working and fully reliable before heading out that far.

Sooooo we are home.  
More on that in tomorrow's blog!