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Saturday, October 16, 2021

To Parge or Not To Parge? That Is The Question I Ask Of Thee...

Steve answered the question.  He will parge our chimney. 

What is purging you ask?

A parge coat is a thin coat of a cementitious or polymeric mortar applied to concrete or masonry for refinement of the surface. Parging is usually applied with a trowel and pressed into the existing surface. Wikipedia

He started the process the other day by cleaning and scrubbing off the chimney. Because of the two different types of bricks and patched areas, it needed something to be done to upgrade it's appearance. I had suggested just painting the surface of the bricks themselves with a roller. But because they are two different textures he didn't think that would look good. So he decided to parge it. 

Last year Steve had parged a section of our lower foundation and it worked really well. He also finished up this year doing the rest of the foundation including some inside work on the basement walls. So he had gotten adept at parging, using the trowel and spreading the surface of masonry as smooth as possible. He was not daunted at all to attempt this. The only problem, it's way up high on the roof! The other stuff was down on the ground. He went up the ladder and brought all of his equipment up there. Fortunately the chimney is located in an area where he can stand on the roof to work on it. The only problem is with the tilted surface of the roof, his ankles and feet get sore after a while.

See the unevenness of the brick and the two different colors? Plus the patched areas he did the other day needed to be covered up somehow. Last fall, we had the taller portion of the chimney removed and capped off. It's not used for anything anymore. It's purely decorative. Here is the blog post from that day:  up-up-and-awaayyyy-taking-down-our-chimney     But it does look better if it is smoothed out and more harmonious instead of sticking up like a sore thumb, literally!

He worked on it Thursday and got two and a half sides completed. His ankles were sore from twisting at different directions. He decided it was time to quit when he reached the end of a bucket of his special masonry mix.

Friday afternoon, he got up there again and finished the rest of the way around. Now it needs to dry for a while. I am assuming it's going to dry to a lighter gray color. We have some paint that is compatible with masonry. Steve (who doesn't like to paint) will get up there to roll it on, once everything is completely dried. It looks like the next few days are going to be free of rain, so it might be nice to get this on before the weather turns cold. It sure will look a lot better!

So ----   for the question of to parge or not to parge? Well, he parged! 


As we've been getting ready for winter, another project Steve needed to do was to remove my rain chains. They are not made to sustain the heavy weight of ice buildup or the winds of winter. Sadly, they will be taken down and stored away in the garage. Here's the one from the backyard. PS, I made it with cheap little 99 cent iridescent treat buckets from Walmart's party supply aisle and a piece of chain and some S hooks. Steve drilled out the holes in the bottom of each bucket to assemble it. We made this for less than $20.  He will hang them in the garage from the roof joists so they don't get scratched or tangled.

Since this was all new gutter and soffit that was put on this past spring around the kitchen nook, we did not yet have the right downspout configuration made for over the winter. A quick stop at the ReStore, Steve was able to collect the right pieces of twists and turns of elbows to connect the rain gutter now to a long downspout. This will route the winter snow melt waters off the roof and down and out into the yard. Next spring we can just unhook this configuration, and put the rain chain back up again.

While we stopped at the ReStore, sadly, we didn't find any of my 74 inch tall plastic shutters. But I did find this beautiful Rowenta quilting iron. These retail in the $150 range. It was marked for $5, and then it was 20% off! So for only $4, this beautiful almost new iron came home with me!  I have a good one for the house, but this can be my "backup" iron and go traveling with us in the motorhome.


Thursday, we had the opportunity to take some of the grandkids after school for the evening. We made up a list of projects and they went right straight to work helping us out around the house. It was little four-year-old almost five-year-old Claire's job to point out where every weed was in the cracks of the sidewalk. And then her older sister Chelsea was manning the pump sprayer with our homemade safe weed killer in it. They make a good team, and Chelsea is pretty patient with little Claire. 

Here is the recipe that I had gotten off of Facebook a couple years ago. It works really well! The ingredients are not harmful and it is safe for the children to spray it. Sometimes for the really deep-rooted weeds, it takes a double dosing:

While the girls were doing the weeds, Clayton was manning the zero-turn rider lawn mower. He really does a good job and has a long attention span, for a boy. Steve or I stay out there to monitor him.  He mows the lawn without leaving any skipped spots or  "mohawks" behind.

When the outside projects were completed, the kids came in to help cook dinner. Everyone takes a turn helping out with something, even if it's just setting the table. The menu tonight was meatball subs, meatballs and pasta, garlic knots fresh from the oven, and spiced apple cider to drink.

We got out after supper to take a quick walk before darkness fell. Boy oh boy, it's been dark by 6:30 p.m. already. And once daylight savings time hits at the end of the month, it will be even darker sooner. Our neighbors started decorating for Halloween, so the kids stopped to pose in front of their array on the corner.  I made them pose.  They thought I was being a goofy grandma.  Yes, I suppose I am. 

We walked around the back side of our property on the gravel road.
Now who is being goofy????

This part of the land comes alongside of the Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust Nature Conservancy Area. Every once in a while we will see some wildlife. But with the chitter-chattering of the children and the dog, most inhabitants of the conservancy leave quickly, get out of sight, dashing into the safety of the woods beyond.

After our walk, they all gathered on the front porch for a little while before the sun was setting completely. The weather was turning cold, there was a crispness and nip to the air. We can tell that fall is here and winter is coming.

The kids decided to help whip up a treat before we had to leave to get them all home again by bedtime. Remember, there is school the next day. They all worked together to make rice crispy bars. With sprinkles!

Even littlest Claire has to take a turn, and then everybody gets to help lick out the bowl after we put the bulk of the crispy bar mixture into a pan.  We made sure everyone gets enough leftovers. 

Claire helped clean up the fallen Rice Krispies cereal that managed to land on the floor. Even using something like this simple little vacuum cleaner is a fun task for a little girl. She doesn't see it as work, she sees it as helping!

Because the Rice Krispie bars had to firm up, the kids decided that their treat for the evening would be frozen fruit bars. We like the ones from Aldi, they are made with real fruit in them and are quite tasty.

Clayton opted to have his chopped up into squares and put into a bowl to eat with a spoon. Kind of like a little frozen fruit cocktail.

Claire ate hers with a dip prevention device, created by bigger sister Chelsea. Using a couple layers of large cupcake liners with a little slit cut into them, Claire was able to eat her fruit bar while joining us down in the she shed, without making a big mess. And, she gobbled up the whole thing and was the first to finish!

The kids were trying to politely protest that they needed to have Rice Krispies bars brought to their house at bedtime. We cut five small pieces and put them in a container to bring over that evening. They felt that was kind of unfair because usually I send along a lot more. But they tried to not complain too much because they already had a fruit bar. I smiled and said five little pieces was enough for their family, and Grandma and Grandpa wanted the rest of the big pan to themselves!

Boy oh boy, talk about being unfair. That didn't settle too well with them but they didn't complain any further.  I did get some rather cranky looks. LOL

They didn't know what I had in mind.

I knew that on Friday afternoon, as soon as they got out of school, there was a huge surprise waiting for them. Since little Claire was turning five on Sunday, their parents had planned Claire's Epic Birthday Weekend! They were going to hop in their motorhome on Friday and take a wonderful surprise excursion. The kids had no idea what was going on. But I did. One of their visits was going to be parking their motorhome in the parkinglot and spending all day touring the Milwaukee Zoo! I had done that with my own two girls and couple cousins when they were little. By parking my motorhome in the parking lot (yes, my big old 1972 Winnebago Chieftain), we could spend the entire day at the zoo, go outside the gate to the motorhome to take a break, have lunch, go to the bathroom, have the little ones take a nap, and go back in and tour again and again. It was so nice to have the motorhome right there. Fond memories of the those trips were what let these parents come up with doing this for Claire's Epic Birthday Weekend. They had never been to the zoo before in Milwaukee, and it was going to be a great adventure. So I cut up the rest of the tray of the rice crispy bars and put them in a large plastic container for their upcoming trip.

I printed up this cover letter and taped it to the lid. How fun is that, to be in charge of an entire tray of Rice Krispie bars when you are newly 5 years old?


We hid the tray of Rice Krispie bars in their motorhome refrigerator in their driveway before they were loading up and ready to leave. We also swiped their two dogs to bring them to our house for the weekend. That makes it a lot easier to travel and go in and out of places without having the dogs along. So the dogs are going to relax for the weekend at our house and hang out with us while their family has a wonderful Epic Birthday Weekend for Claire.

As for us, we decided to stay home for the weekend and babysit the grandpuppers. We will spoil them rotten with lots of treats and make sure that they are not pining away for their family and getting homesick. 

Binney will be a good hostess, but make sure that she gets her fair share of the treats too.

The weather is still cool for the weekend, but it's going to warm up again midweek so I think we will go camping one more time, maybe on Monday. But for now, we are going to stay home in our little town of Oconto. Someone on one of our local Facebook group pages posted this photo of downtown Oconto. I don't even know who took the original photo but it's cute. So I copied and put it here.


Well, it's time to finish up this blog and catch up with Steve. I had painted all the trim strips for around the new bedroom window on the inside, and he is going to start are nailing them into place. Once they are all up he will fill in all the tiny nail holes with caulking and then I can give it one final coat of paint. He is putting the tall mop board into place as well. That will be another task done before winter.

I wonder what our next project will be?


  1. Man, you guys are house renovators extraordinaire! You always have something on the go! We feel bad that we didn't make the effort to meet up when we passed through your area last year. We've been reading your blog for a lot of years now!


  2. I love the motorhome in the zoo parking lot idea! Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Your grandkids are so lucky! What good workers these three are! Zoo and RV idea is a terrific one. Hope it is a great birthday weekend for Claire. Didn't realize the ReStore had small appliances too. What a good deal that iron was!


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