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Thursday, April 30, 2020

Day 51 - Swingin Into Spring and Mud Puddles

It's day 51 of our self-imposed quarantine. Some days just kind of blend into each other. The last few days it's been nothing but rain rain and more rain. It's been kind of depressing. I've been keeping myself busy sewing, and Steve's been puttering around with a few inside jobs in the house.

Today we were surprised to find sunshine first thing this morning! The weather man said it wouldn't be coming around until later in the afternoon or evening and we were supposed to be cloudy and rainy most of the day. I guess he was wrong. We don't mind.

Steve decided that today would be the day to mount the hooks for the chains into the ceiling of the front porch. Yay! Today we were going to mount my porch swing!!

If you recall, a couple blogs back, I mentioned about finding this beautiful porch swing for sale on Facebook Marketplace. We bought it from the sellers, using social distancing, and brought it home. I painted it up and added a little square of red vinyl in the flip down cup holder. Steve added an extra little board to the back side of the cup holder to make sure things like our cellphone or our MP3 player wouldn't slide off the back end.

He got out his tools and with some very careful deduction he was able to determine where the main rafters were located underneath the beadboard ceiling of the porch. It had to have enough strength to support the heavy swing, as well as two adults and a couple beverages!!

With some measuring and some drilling of pilot holes he was able to determine exactly where the rafter was. We were lucky that it was in a perfect location to allow enough movement of the swing, but not advance it too far forward into the porch open space for our rocking chairs. With the tip of a long slim drywall saw he was able to slip in between the beadboard and check to see how wide and tall the rafter was, without having to tear down the beadboard.

While he was working on the ceiling and getting the hooks into place, I started mounting the chains on to the arms of the swing. It sure cleaned up pretty with the two coats of paint and the added little red vinyl in the cup holder.

It didn't take very long before Steve had both of the lag screws securely mounted into the rafter.

The heavy chains and springs were included with the swing when we bought it. We were able to hang it up into place and adjusted to the exact height we wanted.

I have never, ever owned a porch swing before. I have always wanted one, and now it's finally making my dream come true. I cannot wait for the big lilac bush behind it to come into full bloom in a few weeks!!!  It is going to be heavenly to sit out there and smell the blossoms and listen to the birds. 

Steve carefully caulked up his little pilot holes as well as the sliced saw marks between the bead board that he made with the flat drywall saw. Now you would never know that he had done a little surgery to the ceiling to determine where the rafter was... PS, a stud finder did not work in this case...

I think it just looks so naturally perfect there at the end of the porch. In that wider section of the porch we have our two rocking chairs and now the porch swing. In the narrower portion of the front porch in the foreground, we have the two little white chairs that I painted a couple weeks ago. Steve helped me recover the seats with red vinyl so they match too. Now when we have company, we can just grab these two extra chairs and bring them over to the other side of the porch.

here are the two Honeymooners,
sparking on the front porch together.


As I previously said, we had about three days of constant rain. I know we've got more than a couple inches total between all three days. Of course, that meant that our ponds were back again in the backyard!!!!

After Steve worked so hard
to drain them down
last week!

They're baaackkk! 

This week, he got a better idea. Instead of using that little extra sump pump, he decided he was going to "Go for the Gusto" and order a larger horsepower transfer pump. He found this one at Harbor Freight, and we arranged for a curbside pickup:  1/2-hp-cast-iron-transfer-pump  It was on sale plus an extra 20% off coupon. This made for a very fun toy for this boy to play with his mud puddles!!!

Now he got out his other hoses and he set up this pump. Soon he was moving large amounts of water down through the drainage line that he unplugged last week. 

He was gleefully watching the water go down and down and down. In the photo below you can tell where the highest water level was way out near the raspberry bushes to the left in the photo below. Look how much water he got down in just one afternoon!

This area here 
was all covered deep
 in 8 to 10 inches of water. 

Just look at this happy boy, 
playing with his mud puddles!!!

I will watch him
 from the comfort of my porch swing, 
thank you very much...

And So It Goes at our National Folk Farmhouse.

Please stay in,
 stay safe,
 stay healthy!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Day 47 - 1 Year Anniversary - Socially Distant Helpers

It's day 47 of our self quarantined stint. Sometimes it may feel like forever. Other times it feels like it's our normal routine at home, and we are only limited by not going out shopping or hugging our grandchildren. But we can cope with it for a while longer, if it means remaining virus free and healthy.

Can you believe today is our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of selling our home in Chilton and buying this one in Oconto... all in ONE DAY?? Whew. We had a lot of money come in during the morning, and then we had a lot of money go right back out again a few hours later.
But it sure was worth it! 

Here is the house as it was when we bought it:

and here it is today! 

This is the video saying goodbye to our house in Chilton
that I filmed one year ago yesterday.

and this is the video of the house up here in Oconto
filmed one year ago today:

What an adventure it has been! 


We woke up this morning to sunshine.  It was going to be a beautiful day today with temperatures up in the sixties!!

We messed around the house for a little while this morning, and Steve exercised the generator on the motorhome. It needs to be done monthly to keep it in tip-top shape. He fires it up and then turns on some high usage appliances inside to create a draw for a while and exercise it. He ran the microwave for a little bit with a cup of water in it. Then he turned on an electric heater for a while. Then the roof air conditioners.  It's good to run a few things at a time to really put it through it's paces.

While we sat out there in the rig, we kind of took an inventory of things we need to replenish and restock before our first camping trip. Most everything stays in there except for perishables or things that might freeze. Even the clothes and bedding and towels all stay out there. No damage over the winter, and no intrusion of mice or insects. While parked in the yard, we keep two of the Victor electronic Mouse repellent units suspended on a electric cord underneath the motor home for the winter months.

One facing forward and one facing rearward hanging down on the cord from the chassis. It keeps the mice out for sure, and other rodents like squirrels or chipmunks as well.

They are only good for about five years of use, so we write the date on them so we know when it's time to replenish with new ones. We also keep them in our garage and then our house on the main floor, the attic, and the basement.


About 11 a.m. we had the delightful opportunity of having two little munchkins come over to socially distance and do some work for us.

Chelsea and Clayton who are 10 and 8, rode over on their bicycle and scooter, respectively, to spend a couple hours at our house outside.

We kept our 6-foot distance and put them to work.

The first job was for Clayton, the badger, to crawl underneath our front porch through the little triangular access hole on the side of the stairs. While under there he removed all of the loose bricks, stones, and pieces of broken cement that have accumulated over the years underneath the porch behind the lattice.

He worked so hard and pulled all of the blocks and bricks through the spaces to set on the steps.

From there, it was Chelsea's job to take each piece and determine if it was a pretty rock that could go in the wagon, or a broken piece of rubble cement or brick that could go in the wheelbarrow.

Once they were done, it was time to wheel away the product of their work. Chelsea's wagon went to the side of the she shed to become rocks for the flower garden.

Clayton's very heavy load of broken bricks and cement pieces were loaded into the back end of the tracker to be hauled away to the city's municipal recycling yard.

They took a break for a little snack on the front porch. I left the snack out there in advance, set by their two chairs. Then we went and sat on the other end of the porch in our rockers while they enjoyed their snacks.

When snack time was over, they went to work on the flower garden. I marked where there would be perennial plants coming up with little sticks. They arranged clusters of the newly unearthed rocks into beautiful art in the flower garden.

Back in January, before all this virus stuff hit, the kids had been shopping with me in the Dollar tree store. They picked out an assortment of little fairy houses, garden gnomes, and froggies and turtles to set out in a beautiful little array in the flower bed.

They worked so hard in determining what got put where, and they rearranged it a number of times before they were satisfied with their final presentation.

I am sure when the other grandchildren come to visit, they will rearrange them again and again.  They can help to plant some annual flowers too.

It will be considered the 
"Grandchildren's Flower Garden".

---and it will keep them out of
the rest of my flower gardens
that are around the house!

Once that was done, we then headed out for a walk, being properly socially distanced 6 feet apart through the big backyard. The dogs were along with us and Steve brought the leashes so we could hook them up and walk around through the nature preserve.

Behind our house is a large tract of land owned by the Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust. We are welcome to walk back there on the trails and the land that adjoins to the Wisconsin DNR's Green Bay West Shore Wildlife Area Marsh as well.

We walked around with the kids and came up on the old barn foundation from a farm a long time ago. The barn had burnt down but the cement walls are left behind with all of the little square shapes where the windows had been at one time.

The kids decided it was not a barn, it was a CASTLE! Because it had the up and down square-shaped fortress shapes, just like a castle. Makes sense to me!

They crawled around for a while, exploring the place. Someone had left a stool there that I think they were using it as a hunting blind to watch for deer.

We saw two snakes on our walk and Clayton found a beautiful big feather, I think from a turkey.  He came up with a brilliant idea.

From one turkey to another grandpa says...

We wandered all the way back through the overgrown farmstead and around the big pond. It was a delightful way to spend the afternoon and work up an appetite.

When we got back to the house, while I was making a lunch inside, Clayton was determined to turn his turkey feather into a quill pen!

He borrowed a pliers from Grandpa, and then later used a scissors. He cut the end off, a little bit at a time, until the opening was wide enough to accept an insert of a ballpoint pen! Used a little bit of tape to hold it into place.

Pretty smart, hey?

He was very pleased with his creation.

I brought lunch out to the front porch, I put the kids' food down to their end, and our food over to our side by the rocking chairs. So we socially distanced our little lunch together and had a nice time visiting back and forth.

It's one thing to see each other on social media, doing our little FaceTime visits, or sending each other texts. But it's another thing to actually watch their silly expressions, see their great ideas evolve, and watch how excited they are to tell us about things that have been going on in their young lives.

We really miss the random chitter-chatter that these kids come up with. It was so enjoyable to spend some time with them.

We can't wait to spend some more time with all of our grandchildren.

Hopefully soon.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Day 46 - Scavenger Hunt Surprise

Yesterday, we were going about our putzing around doing some housework. You know, a little of this a little of that. Suddenly we saw some faces at our back door with a little tap tap tap sound on the glass.


Oh my goodness! What a surprise!

It was our two grandchildren Chelsea and Clayton, along with a playmate Maddi, and their teacher from the Oconto Non-Profit Child Care Center.

 I was so choked up, even as I am typing this now, I am crying!

The kids were missing us, and they had decided to surprise us and put together a creative and thoughtful task to do at our house.  (the daycare center director who knows us, had called ahead to our daughter to make sure this was okay to surprise us)

They stood back six feet from the door and set down a paper bag and set down the instructions on the walkway. Then they told us to go back in the house and not look out the windows???

It was a 
"Social Distancing Scavenger Hunt"!!!

Here is a close up of their list:

They came here to hide things in our backyard!  Then they left another sheet instructing us that we have to take a picture of each thing we find.

We obliged and hid our eyes and didn't look out the windows.  Once they were done doing their little activity in our backyard, they came back onto the walkway by the pergola.

We opened the door to talk with them, at a distance while we stood in the open doorway.  I had just finished sewing three new masks with cute little woodland creatures that I gave to each of them to keep. Nolan helped tie them onto each kid.

They were so excited to have 
masks of their own 
to wear back to the daycare.

I also left a little bag on the walkway, at a safe distance, with some granola bars and chewing gum snacks.

We chatted for a little while, but my arms ached so badly because I just wanted to hug them. I mean I could feel a physical ache in my arms as well as in my heart. We had to be happy with what we could get, even if it wasn't actual touching and hugging. We were so blessed to even be thought of and missed.

Sadly, the kids got back in the vehicle with their teacher and headed back to the daycare.

Steve and I gathered up our little bag, and put on our gloves and read the list of items to look for in our backyard.

It was a lot of fun! Some things they put out in pretty obvious places, and other things were hidden really well.  It took us a while. They are good at this.

I just knew it was Clayton who had put this plastic cup out in the fence surrounding the apple tree. The tree is a special one that they gave us as a housewarming present last year. I just knew it had to be him, he would be the only one that would walk through the squishy ground to get way out there and stick the cup in the fence!

Bit by bit we found all the items except for the "2 pine cones". We looked high and low all over for any type of unusual pine cones. We finally gave up and just collected four little ones from our own trees and said good enough. That was the last item on the list.

Then we took pictures of everything and contacted the daycare to send the pics and show the kids that we did it. Chelsea then confessed that there were NEVER any pinecones! She said that they couldn't find any to take along and she forgot to cross it off the list before they attached the list to the bag!!

So the joke was on them, 
because we actually
 did find some pine cones!!

Thank you Oconto Area Non-profit Child Care Center!!!

You have no idea how this warmed up this lonely grandmother's and grandfather's hearts!!


Speaking of mushy ground, here is how our backyard looked about a week ago.

We had a lot of water from runoff from snow melting, as well as quite a few rainy days. We have a very high water table the last few years around the Great Lakes, and we are located close to the bay waters of the Green Bay one mile away.

The water in our yard is so deep we actually have ducks and geese swimming around in the water. I kid you not!

Well, my last blog I mentioned how Steve was carefully working his way back and forth along our fence line to unclog some drainage piping that was buried there.  Our neighbor said it used to drain out from our yard into the curb via a small outlet, but it hasn't been working now for a few years and must be plugged up.

Steve got the line free of mud by shoving a sturdy rubber hose with the water blasting at full force. A couple feet at a time, and he would let it drain back out. He was finally able to run water completely through it all the way out to the curb. From there it runs down the street and off into the marsh. It does not go into the city storm sewer.

Now that he got the interior of the pipe freed up of mud, he was able to start draining some of the standing water in our yard. He had an extra old sump pump and a lot of hose. He was able to set the pump out in the middle of the deepest puddle and drape the cord up high along the fence line back to the grounded GFCI outlet in the garage.

He located the hose over to the drainage line where there is a sunken 5 gallon bucket as a chamber where he could set a pump into it if he needed to.

From there it drains out 
another hundred feet 
underground and then pours
out the opening 
in the curb.

At first it was a lot of sand, mud, and silt that came out of that opening. Now it's finally clear water being pumped through from the pond and out to the curb.

Just look at this happy little boy, in his rubber boots, sloshing up and down in the gutter. He was like a happy kid who was playing with toy boats or sticks in a little stream of water, making it go.

After two days of his creative pumping... moving the hose from here and there, he was able to drain our yard down to this!

Let us hope we have a normal spring and summer this year and have a regular yard without the backed up water ponds that we had last year for most of the summer.  This will help with the mosquito population and let us have a nice lawn without getting our lawnmower stuck (again).

This was all deep water 
across to the greener grass
the day before~ 

All of our neighbors around us said last summer was the worst in a very long time for standing water in the yards. It's not normally like that in our neighborhood.  Maybe this is a start to a good thing?


Steve was busy with another project in the back yard this week. He had been cutting down some dead trees and odds and ends throughout our woods. He made quite a nice little pile of firewood. Our neighbor will take that because he uses it to heat his house. We might keep some for campfires.

Steve took all the brush and branches and hooked them with a tow strap to the back of the Tracker. He dragged them across the back part of our yard out to the edge of the gravel road that borders the backside of our property.

Even though it is gravel, it is still a city street, and the city does come down it with the tree chipper. They will take care of the branches for us. That is a free service to City residents, courtesy of our property taxes.

It sure beats having to drag the branches all of the way out to the front yard, at the other end of the property, by the street in front of the house.  This is at the back end of the Big Backyard.  The dogs sure like ramming around and playing back here. 


I got out my paintbrush today and spruced up some more parts on the pergola.  Now the columns have a second coat of paint and the two back boards are now red. These are for the red lattice to attach on to.

Steve and I cut two panels of treated wood lattice that was left over from a garden structure we took down when we bought the house last year.

These two pieces go on the left and right of the back side that faces the backyard. Will make a nice backdrop for the white grids that are on the front sides. I started painting up the first piece, and I will work on it a little bit each day. It seems like I get a sore "tennis elbow" if I do too much painting in one day.

I already painted this cute white little plant stand that is going to go on the front porch, as well as this red base from a bird bath that Steve found in the woods. I'm going to set a pretty flower pot on top of it in our flower garden..

It's been a long day, and we got quite a few little projects done. Besides a bunch of flowerbed cleanup, I sewed up 10 assorted face masks for the neighbors. Then I made a creative supper of beef stew from leftover pot roast from yesterday.

I think now it's time to play a couple hands of cribbage with my hubby before I hop in the tub and relax these aching bones from all of my gardening and painting today.