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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Goodbye to Mom, Hello Birdbath, and more Farmhouse Projects

On Saturday, we said our final goodbye to Mom with a live streamed service from her church in Florida.  It was emotional and we had a private gathering at our home with the siblings and a few grandsons too. One grandson flew in secretly from Pennsylvania to surprise his mom (my sister) on her last day of radiation and attend the live stream service with the rest of us.  It was good, sad, tragic and healing all at the same time. 


A month or so ago, our daughter noticed that our old house in Green Bay was for sale.  She sent me the listing and I looked at the pics.  

It was a great house---  an investment property with an apartment in the upstairs that was income, to help me pay my mortgage when I was a single mom.  When Steve and I married in 1997, his parents had gifted us with a beautiful birdbath made from tiny pebbles. It proudly sat in the front yard under the pine tree. We started building our new log house that fall. We later sold that home in February of 1998. The birdbath was frozen in the ground, and we didn't want to destroy it by prying it loose.  So we left it there for the buyers.  I always regretted that.

Fast forward now 23+ years later.  The house is for sale. On a whim, I contacted the realtor.  I asked if either the sellers (it had changed hands a number of times over the last 23 years)  or the buyers cared about the birdbath at all.  Would either party be willing to let us have it?   The realtor said she would work on it.  She contacted me today, and said the property closed and YES... COME GET IT!   

We hopped in the Saturn and headed down to Green Bay right away. It was rainy and icky out, so what better thing to do on a rainy day???

We tossed it in the back of the Saturn as quick as a wink.

I wrote a nice thank you note, and left it in the mail slot for the lower apartment to the right of the door.  Nobody was there, and the house was still vacant.  I had half-heartedly hoped they would be there so I could go through the house one more time.  But just getting the bird bath was enough for both of us!  Here is a pic of when I owned it before we built the log house up on the river in Oconto. 

The bird bath is in the garage right now,

and once the rain stops, we will add it to our yard. 


In my last blog, I wrote about how we finished up the inside window trim on the two new windows in the kitchen nook.  We managed to steal little Claire to come over and help dust off and put up all the collection of my blown glass paperweights. 

She went right to work


She arranged and rearranged and arranged again all of the little paperweights.  She had so much fun. I think each one was picked up and put down 10 times until they were arranged to her complete satisfaction. 

Good job, Claire! 


Now that the inside of the windows were trimmed out, we needed to focus on the outside trim.  We got all of the materials ready and stripped off more of the siding, but only up to a certain level. We didn't want to rip off too high up, until we figure out the spacing of the matching window for the master bedroom.  That will be more intense figuring with a new header, king studs and inspection before we can even knock a hole in the wall!  

In the meantime, we gathered our tools and started to work on the nook trim and siding. 

We spent one day trimming out the windows and another day doing new soffit and fascia.  The weather got very hot, so we did what we felt like doing, and took a break for the rest of the day. 

Once the soffit and fascia were in place, Steve was able to put up new metal raingutter so we never have the problems of water intrusion that previously damaged the wall in the corner like before. 

While Steve was working on that, I was busy busy busy painting trim and siding boards out on the sawhorses.  Each piece takes three coats, one primer and two paints.  It was a gorgeous day with blue sky and puffy clouds.  

When he was ready to get to the siding, I had enough painted and dry and ready to work with.  We work together as a good team, and he handles the air nailer gun, because it really hurts my ears. Even with ear plugs in.  I think I am gonna get the full ear muff style protection.  Gosh, I feel old. 

I take care of the leveling and spacing and hold the other ends of the boards while he does the nail gun thing.  The long 16 ft pieces go up easily, and will butt up to a vertical trim board that will configure with the new master bedroom window. 


As he works on his cutting and figuring stuff, in between waiting for coats of paint to dry, I was working on planting flowers in my flower boxes and planters, as well as some other projects..

This one I really had fun with...  ever hear of a rain chain?  I made one last year for the front porch. Here is the blog from that one: 

making a rain chain from Dollartree Buckets

I went to Dollartree to get some more buckets, 

but they don't have them this year! 

I found these pretty iridescent buckets at Walmart in the party supply aisle.  Only 97 cents each. Deal!  Steve had a hunk of chain, and I bought 8 little S hooks from the hardware store. That is all I needed.  

I begged Steveio to put down his siding tools for a bit so he could help me.  I asked him to quickly drill 1" holes in the bottom of each bucket for the chain to run through.  Thank you! 


I assembled the S hooks and then bugged Steve again to screw a big hook into the edge of the fascia above the rain gutter.  We hung the chain up and then spaced out the buckets in a reasonable fashion to let the rain run from one to the next. 

The bottom of the chain is dangling down into the big rain barrel.  On the bottom, we will add a heavy old vintage window weight that my brother gave us.  We didn't attach it yet, because I want to get one more bucket for the chain yet. 

Today it poured rain for hours.  The chain worked great and the rain barrel is now full for my tomatoes that I am going to plant in a few days. 

Here is a You Tube I made last year on how the other rain chain works on the front porch: 

With the rain chain in place, now the rain won't splatter down on the siding or the tyvek house wrap.  Glad we got that done.  Also in the background you can see we got the siding up to the bottom edge of the windows.  Our weather has turned cold and icky, so we didn't get out there to do any more today.  (instead, we went and got a bird bath!) 

Once that part of the siding is done, I have 12 tomato plants patiently waiting in temporary pots.  Their garden spot is right where the new siding is going up.  Once that is complete, they can spread their roots in their new home... and grow grow grow to give us yummy maters! 


Oh, last week, Steve had a little idea to brighten up a gloomy emotional day after everyone left after my mom's funeral service.  We weren't going to start the siding just yet, so instead he cut up some precious wood.  It was scraps from in the garage. If we went to the lumberyard right now, that would be $20-30 worth of wood! 

He cut the strips and I got out the paint. (he hates painting)  and soon the 2 coats were dry and ready to be assembled. 

A new trellis for my clematis plants! 

It didn't take him long to whip it together for me.  The store was selling plain old wooden ones for $40 and painted or vinyl plastic ones for $50.  I think I prefer home made.  Especially when made with love.  Awwwww

I think it looks so cute there and kinda fills up the gap on the wall. The big electrical service meter is there, as well as the gas meter further back beyond that.  The more we can beautify up the space, the better.

So that is it for today.  We will see what tomorrow will bring.  As for now, it's still raining well into the night. At least I know my rain barrels will be filled to the brim. Ready to water the flowers and 'maters once they get planted. 

And maybe fill a certain bird bath once we figure out the perfect space in the yard. Maybe back by Finnegan's grave, with trees nearby for the birds to perch on as they wait their turns to bathe. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Trim - Tasks - and Time with Family

Steve got up this morning and decided it was time to start trimming the inside of the new windows. It was rainy and icky outside, so there was nothing for him to work on out there. 

He got out all of his tools.  It was measure measure measure, in-and-out in-and-out to the power saw in the garage to cut each little board.  He had to figure everything out so each piece would all be symmetrical and perfect. He would write down the measurements on his little clipboard, but he didn't always remember to take it with him out to the garage. Good thing he still has a pretty good memory. 

He pre-treated all of the knots with Zinsser shellac spray. Otherwise they will eventually bleed through the paint, even after multiple coats.

Attaching the trim boards is pretty easy with the little air powered finish nailing gun. He has this little portable tank that he can fill up with air from the big air compressor in the garage.  Binney does NOT like the nail gun, whatsoever. She came over to give it a sniff out of curiosity before he started. Once the 1st nail was driven into the wood, she scattered for the hills!  (and hid behind our bed)

Putting the trim on is like the final dressing on the window project.  He really wanted to get this trim in place.  It makes kind of like a "picture frame"  around the beautiful scene looking out into the backyard. It was bugging him to get a move on, and I had to move his stuff around to make him breakfast and take a break. 

Once he had all the wood into place, and then he caulked all of the little cracks and seams. That way, when it's painted with the white paint, you don't see all of the dark cracks and seams where two pieces of wood meet. I had to wait a little while for the caulking to dry before I could paint. He uses a paintable latex caulk that doesn't take too long to cure. 

Out came my little favorite roller and painting tray. I like those little 4" rollers instead of a wide brush. I still use a narrow angled brush to cut in the little edges in go along the edges of the window. But the roller seemed to leave a nice smoothly painted surface without any bristle marks from the brush.  It was getting rainy and dark, so I was loosing my natural light for painting the first coat.

While I had a pot roast in the pressure cooker for dinner, I was able to get the 1st coat of paint on all of the new wood trim.  I do enjoy painting, and this was such a small job, that it was done in no time. 

I think that it sure looks nice and neat. Steve did a very good job trying to make both windows appear the same and to have a nice little ledge and reveal to frame in the windows.

I can't wait until the 2nd coat is on and dry. Then the grand kids can line up my little blown glass paperweights all along on the sills.


Yesterday was a good day. I spent some time with my sister. As of writing this blog post, she now has 6 doses of her radiation completed. She only has 4 more to go. 

My goodness, I love her so much!!!

 She is so brave to go through all of this.

I brought her some goodies and things to help make her comfy.  Her husband has been a champ to run and get things and keep her on schedule for all the sessions.  He has been through cancer himself, so he knows what she needs too.

After our visit, she needed to go back to the hospital for her next dose of radiation. We left there and drove up to Door County, Wisconsin to spend the rest of the day with Steve's dad, Paul.

He had prepared us a wonderful lunch of baked chicken, baby red potatoes and carrots. It was delicious. He is quite a cook for 88 and a 1/2 years old~ 

Next, he had a list of projects that he needed a hand with. He made a pretty good supervisor while Steve took care of power washing his little tractor.  

This beautiful flowering crabapple tree needed a couple dead branches taken out. Steve took care of it rather quickly and we carried the branches back to the burn pile. Things are way too dry right now in Wisconsin to do any burning, best to wait for another day.

Pops Pfundtner got his little raised garden cart already planted for the summer. Three different colors of peppers, some tomatoes, and I believe he also said green beans and a few other things are planted as seeds. He also took care of getting some tomato cages adapted to fit in the cart and protect the tomatoes from the harsh Door County winds.

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, sitting out on his backyard deck. The wind chimes were clanging as the breeze was blowing. There were birds flickering here and there. All of the trees were in flowering bloom as well as spring flowers poking up everywhere.

After all of the work was done, they needed to sit down and play a hand of cribbage. It was a tight game and getting competitive towards the end, but Pops pulled ahead and finished with a 3 point hand to win!

It was a long ride home, and we were glad to spend a wonderful day with Paul. He has such energy and ideas and great conversationalist. I love spending time with him. We did a couple little things on his computer, and he is very well adept at handling all of these new modern technology things. He takes it all in stride. I am quite proud of him.

After we got home, we ran a little errand out to our daughter Heather and son-in-law Jesse's house. They have the most absolutely beautiful magnolia tree in full bloom in front of their home. Little Whitney posed to be the little "Magnolia Blossom Queen"--- Just look at those beautiful eyes!

As we went to bed last night, we were thankful for family and all of us trying to help each other along the way in this journey we call life. On Saturday, my siblings are going to gather here while we watch my mom's live streamed memorial service from Florida. It will be a sad day, but it will be a good day for all of us. We need this.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Sister Tackling Cancer - Starting Spring Gardening

Today, my wonderful sister, Linda, started the radiation treatments for breast cancer. She will be receiving localized radiation treatments twice a day for 5 days in a row. Prayers or kind thoughts or loving feelings towards a healthy outcome and positive healing are appreciated.

With everything else going on in our family, this is the last thing she needs to be facing at this time!

She sent this message after her 2nd treatment was completed today to everyone on Facebook. Letting everybody know that she has her "Schmootie Attitude" in high gear and is meeting this head on.

The prognosis is good for a clear outcome as well as she has something very, very special to look forward to... 


Steve helped them locate a wonderful newer camper to replace their aging one.  It's in like-new condition,  it even has that "new camper smell".  The sellers think they maybe only slept in it 3 times while they owned it. It was stored indoors and kept in pristine condition. 

Before leaving town for her radiation treatments, she was able to start loading it up with their gear.  Just look at that happy girl! 


She had so much fun finding new places for everything and storing it all away. It is something very positive for her to look forward to during this radiation process.

She just can't wait to get it out to the lake, set it up, start a campfire, and sit down in her woven lawn chair next to her husband. She never asks for much in life, just this. She loves camping and campfires and cooking outdoors and fishing and hunting.  This is her life. She is a true Yooper Woman.  All she wants is to get through this and go camping.  Let's all pray that she is granted her wish.


Last night we had a crazy biker gang pull up an invade our yard. My goodness, such a radical biker bunch. Please notice the little pink helmet peeking around the corner from behind her daddy's butt.

They hung out on the front porch for while, and we had a nice visit. I brought out a big bowl of freshly cut up watermelon as a treat. The weather here has turned warm and sunny. It felt like summertime!  

They only live a mile away, so they made it back before dark. Just in time to wash up and get them off to bed for school the next morning. 


Speaking of morning, this morning I really enjoyed seeing the beautiful golden sunlight streaming in our new windows!

We still need to complete the inside wooden trim around the windows and hang the Heritage lace curtain valances again. Then I can also put all of my colorful little blown glass paperweights along the window sills. 

Little Claire, 4 years old, was quite upset last night to see that all of grandma's paperweights are off the sills and stored away in boxes. That just didn't settle right with her. It's her job to wipe them down and dust them for me when she comes over.  When we are done, I think I will have her over to help put them back in place again. 

Today, Steve made himself busy working on the soffit and facia of this little overhang on the kitchen nook.  It had never been covered up before, and was a perfect spot for wasp nests and spider webs and bugs!  ewwwwww

It was kind of a One Man Job, not much for me to help him with. So I made myself busy with potting my precious tomato plants temporarily into individual flower parts. Actually, I had to put 2 plants per pot.  They will reside here for a week or two.  I can bring them in at night, and bring out in the morning to get fresh air and sunshine.  They need to harden off and acclimate to the new weather.

My garden plot for my tomatoes happens to be located right where Steve is working. The space is invaded right now with ladders and tools and pieces of siding and soffit and facia and rain gutter. There's really no room to put any tomatoes in the plot right now. This is the best spot in our yard for growing tomatoes, plus it's within a fenced area to keep the sassy deer out.

The weather crept up into the high seventies and it was very nice working on the shady side of the house in the afternoon. I think my misplaced rain barrel just happened to become a work table?

Once the soffit and facia are done, and getting the rain gutter hung back up, the downspout will start filling my rain barrel. I like using fresh rainwater on my plants as opposed to city water.

I had rooted and grown some ivy indoors over the winter, saved from the last few summers.  I put some of it in the silly hanging baskets on the pergola. Little Claire calls them "birdnest" planters. Lol.     

They came with the pergola when we bought it last spring from facebook marketplace.  The sellers threw them in for free.  I don't think the husband liked them at all.  hahaha

Last summer, I let the ivy grow down and weave itself among the lattice work of the pergola.  So this year I gave it a little head start and helped guide it through some of the lattice already. 

Last year, I had also planted some ivy down at the base of the pergola on each side.  I figured it would die off over the winter, and I could plant some new stuff this spring.  But to my surprise, the ivy that was planted in the ground wintered over in the sub zero temps of Wisconsin!  It is growing and sprouting new shoots and greening up!!!  So this will weave upwards in the pergola trellis and meet up wit the ivy growing from above.  It made a nice covered secret entrance to either side, into the She Shed or into the garage. 

This is the backside of the pergola, and looking through it is forward into the front yard and the street. On the front portions of the pergola I have red and white Clematis vines that are just starting to grow. Soon there will be blooms, as I see a lot of buds. 

Steve finished up the soffit and facia right before dinner this evening. What a nice neat job he is doing.  Next up is the window trim and siding.  

The weather man is predicting some rain tomorrow. We are going to take a break from all these siding and window projects. We are going to go up in see Steve's dad, Pops Pfundtner, to spend some time with him in the morning and do a few projects for him around the yard. Also we are working in a visit with my sister on the way back through Green Bay where she is staying at a hotel nearby the hospital.  

I think she needs a hug. 
I think we all do.