Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Starting work on back room

I made a concerted effort to straighten and organize the back room this morning, so I can work in it.  The stacking boxes were a find from work, where they were going to be tossed.  Full of sandpaper and all kinds of small stuff.  I need a better gauge drop cloth, considering how long I'll be working in this room, but this is what I had, so this is what I used.

All the new window stuff is ready for installation, thank goodness!  I spent an hour or so working on those fine bits of trim between the glass and the flat wood on the wooden window this morning. Now that the other window is done -- or at least, as done as I can make it -- I need to concentrate on this one so I can get it finished in the next few weeks.  The flat trim all around can wait, but the sashes and the inside of the window frame have to be sanded and painted.  Then, I get to remove the side trim, clean out the weight cavities, put some insulation in the cavities, and re-thread the above sash to one set of weights so it's functional before I put the trim back on.  At that point, I'll be ready to concentrate on finishing the trim and sill.

Believe it or not, I'm back to using Citristrip on this window. My problems with it were of my own making.  It's a good product and does the job.  You can bet I'll be sure to get it all off before it dries, however.  The paint on this outer sill just wasn't budging with a scraper, and it's too narrow a space to get the sander into, so this was the best answer I could come up with.

Part of all this organizing meant clearing clothes and stored stuff out of this closet.  Some of it went into the blanket chest in my bedroom, some into the deep, dark back recesses of my lower kitchen cabinets (way too hard to reach to use for anything but storage), and into the bedroom closet which also had to be cleaned out.  I don't have a place to put the roll of insulation where the kitten can't reach it, so I guess it'll stay where it is for now.  I'll use it to insulate the window cavities, and probably also to insulate other windows in the house for the winter.  There was a purpose for clearing this out, other than to keep stuff dust-free.  Once the windows are finalized, my plan is to begin my rehab work in the closet.  For one thing, it'll be nice to see one small area completed, plus I know that if I leave it to the end I might be tempted to say 'forget it'.  The walls here are the original old plaster, cracked and funky.  I think I'm going to wallpaper it. Really want those folding doors painted white, too, but can't wrap my brain around actually doing it.

Began my day with a visit to the local hospital at 7am to get some blood drawn and an EKG, for diagnostic and preventive reasons as part of my annual physical.  I've just finished lunch and now I'm going to bake some chocolate chip cookies.  There's a big event in town this Saturday -- the annual Fall Festival -- and our cemetery committee has a BBQ booth.  I offered to help bake cookies, about 100 in total.  Fun, and the cool weather is great for using the oven.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Historic Van Wert Church and Antiquing

This is the historic Van Wert Church and Cemetery in Rockmart.  Built in 1846 by some of the first white settlers in this part of the country, the building and grounds are being lovingly restored by a dedicated group of volunteers from the Euharlee Valley Historical Society.  The dedication ceremony will be October 9, and it's going to be a really big deal.  There are many civil war soldiers buried here, most of whom probably fell during a local battle.

My morning had a strange start.  I had agreed to meet some folks in Rockmart at 9am.  I got up at 6,  had some coffee and fooled with the computer a bit, then went outside to do one garden chore.  Well, that one chore led to more, and before I knew it I'd put new grass clippings into the new raised bed and forked it all under, plus put some of the grass clippings around my young seedlings for mulch.  Our weather is due to take a turn toward the more seasonal starting later today, with thunderstorms and cooler temps for the next few days. Good time to take care of things like this.

So, with that finished I went inside for breakfast and my eye caught the clock: 8:40.  And I'm due in Rockmart about 20-25 minutes away.  A quick glass of milk, teeth brushed, clothes changed, and I was out the door.  Didn't spend much time at the cemetery because the person who was the purpose of the gathering did not show up.  No biggie.  I really only went because I'd said I would. 

I didn't get all the text or any of the map in, but I wanted to be sure it was readable. 

I absolutely love what they've done with the interior.  Much of it is original -- as much as was salvageable.  The ceiling boards are new, but match the wall boards really well, except that they're not tongue-and-groove like the originals.  This sea-green color is fabulous -- very serene, to me.

Many of the graves are unmarked, others have stones that are unreadable.  Many of the stones are made of native slate, as are some of the walls.

I never knew there was a local slate industry in this county, but apparently at one time it was quite large.

One of the soldiers mentioned in the historical plaque.

I loved this one -- my bet is on Welsh as the language here.  Owen Hughes died here in 1860, is about all I can get from it.

Owen was next to these Griffiths, who were from Wales.  I can't help but wonder if I'm related to these, although I think my Griffiths were in the area earlier than these folks.

So, after I left the church I was off to Carlton Farms for milk and eggs, then on down the road towards Douglasville, which sits east of here straddling I-20, about halfway to Atlanta.  I took backroads, of course, since I was starting from Rockmart. I went in search of a Petco, which according to their website had a plain, covered cat litter box.  The town has a PetSmart, too, but theirs were all fancier. Nothing of the kind was to be found locally.  Found what I wanted, decided to hit a nearby Lowes for some Black Kow manure, then stopped for lunch, since I hadn't had breakfast.  Homeward bound on I-20 west, I spotted an 'antiques' sign as I turned off the interstate onto Hwy 27 towards home.  I remembered that there was supposed to be an antiques place here I wanted to visit, so I followed the signs and found an absolutely wonderful place, filled with all kinds of things I'd love to have brought home with me.  Prices were reasonable, too.

I loved this tall table, which would be perfect in my kitchen.  Very tempted -- but I kept reminding myself that I have to spend money on the necessary right now, not on 'wants'.

Loved these, too.  Anybody know or remember what the bucket was for?  If you didn't go cane pole fishing in the deep south many decades ago, you probably have no idea.  Actually, they're probably still in use in some form.  It's a minnow bucket -- you'd stop at the bait shop, buy a bunch of minnows for bait, toss 'em in here and come home with some big fish.  Bass, maybe?  Don't remember that much.  Loved the old wooden keg, too.

Now this had some serious lust attached to it.  I really want a hoosier cabinet for my kitchen, and this one is great.  Worn, but not too worn.  Has the original flour sifter and everything else it's supposed to have.  I remember my grandmother using one of these.  Every baked good -- biscuits, cakes, whatever -- started with a bowl under that sifter getting the flour out.  Looks like the roll-up door works, too, although I didn't move stuff to find out.  Serious, serious case of 'I want'.

Another old cabinet that called to me. Tall and narrow and really nicely worn.  But sturdy. It would be great in my bathroom.

I saw more than one of this general style and color. Who needs modern, cheap IKEA cabinets when I can get stuff like this that has so much character?  And isn't all that expensive.  I came away empty-handed today, but you can be certain I'll be going back to this place, when I have $$ to spend.

Back home once more I added two bags of topsoil and the two bags of manure to the new raised bed and mixed it all together well with my hands.  I love digging in the dirt with my hands, haven't done it for awhile since I've been so focused on windows, so it felt good all around.  Then, since rain and cooler weather are at hand, I went ahead and seeded it with the clover cover crop and some dried molasses.

That's been my rather busy day and it's been fun.  Nice to get out of the everyday rut and do something different.  I have one more coat of paint on the window before it's ready to install, but I can do that tomorrow and it'll have plenty of time to dry before John, my new handyman partner, shows up next week.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


The results of this week's work.  And no, my walls did not turn yellow overnight.  I tried to correct the photo a bit so you could actually see the window frame, and the yellow came along with it.  I don't have Photoshop, people!

I'll say it again -- sure beats two hours in the gym!  And lest you think the exercise value isn't the same, let me disabuse you of that notion.  Constant motion, using the same muscles and using pressure, akin to using hand weights.  Proof of that is that I was able to use the scraper for most of those two hours today, a remarkable improvement.  The good thing about consistent exercise is that eventually you'll build both strength and muscle endurance, and I've clearly done that.

But more than that, for the moment, is that I'm almost finished getting paint off this thing.  What's left is being very recalcitrant and may call for the power sander.  I'll work more on the side trim in a couple of days, but the paint on the inner edges simply does not respond to the scraper or much of anything else.

Nice little pile of scrapings from the morning's efforts -- although it spreads far and wide and this is merely what I could sweep up from the immediate area.  I don't know much (anything?) about paint scrapers in general, but this one requires a good amount of pressure on the knob, as well as either pushing or pulling with the handle.  I think that's what makes it so tiring.  But, I certainly see the results of my efforts quickly and that's very satisfying.

Put a second coat of Kilz on the Citristrip stain this morning, and this may have done the trick.  I can see a bit of pink, but very little.  To be on the safe side, I'm going to give this another couple of days to dry then try one more coat before doing the final prep for painting.  I'll just have to hope that the paint remover left in the wood isn't going to eventually make this flake off, but the tech at Citristrip has chosen not to answer that question so I'm just going to punt.

I'm also ready to get the furniture out of this room, as soon as I can find some help.  Time to get serious with sanding, but the main reason is that in the living room I'll be able to flop down on the sofa to watch TV and movies, which I'm really looking forward to.  I've been putting this off until the weather cools because that room gets the brunt of the afternoon sun, but as long as the nights stay cool that shouldn't be a problem.  I haven't had to raise and lower my windows daily for a couple of weeks now, despite 90-95 degree days, simply because the cooler night air keeps the house cool all day.  The down side of this house staying cool, of course, is that it's also harder to heat in the winter, for some reason.

My plans for the rest of this day are to rest.  I have a DAR meeting at 4pm which I feel obligated to attend, and I'll need at least a little bit of energy for that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

She's Met Her Match!

Those of you who know me will find this hard to believe, but I have finally been bested, in the form of being out-stubborned -- by a four pound kitten, of all things.

Since I've had her, which is what, around three months now? -- I've been trying to teach her to stay off my desk.  We've had some interesting moments around that.  But as I type this, she's curled up right in front of me on the desk, eyes following the flow of black spots and the cursor across the screen.  And this isn't the first time.  Have I given up?  I think it's just not worth the effort anymore because clearly, she is going to do what she wants to do with no regard to what I want her to do. Amazing.

I've had a lot of kittens, a lot of cute kittens, but never been totally out-stubborned by one until now.  She just doesn't give up.  And being the feisty little thing she is, she fights back.  If I make her get off the kitchen counter, for example, she'll retaliate by doing her little kitten crab walk towards me, ears back, then flat out attack my legs and ankles with teeth and claws.  I have about convinced her that this is not a good idea,  but even if I'm able to stop the total attack, she makes it clear how she feels.  If I try to influence her with a noisy rolled up magazine, she'll attack the magazine. Cute, until she finds flesh with teeth or claw.  She clearly doesn't understand the bit about not biting the hand that feeds you.

Hopefully this is just another phase she's growing through. It's just like raising a human child in the frustration area, but thankfully -- unlike a human child -- the time period involved is way shorter.  I probably have another 6 months or so of this, then she'll grow up and mellow out.  Sort of.   And then, I'll look back and wish that cute kitten was back, no doubt.

I've done lots of scraping on the window today, including an hour or more on the ladder.  Did a good bit last night, too.  Making good progress but I'm a tired cookie, and my arm and shoulder muscles are even more tired.  Tried the Kilz on the Citristrip pink stuff, and it didn't work any better than the first primer.  I've given up at this point, however.  I'm going to let it dry really good for a couple of days, maybe give it a light sanding, put another coat on and hope for the best.  I've got to get this window painted, and I'm tired of fooling with it.  It won't show, under any curtains I put up.  I need to get the new window insert painted and installed, too, and my handyman is waiting until that happens before he comes over to do the other work, so it can all  be done at one time.

It was so cold this morning that I was wishing for heat, although I would not have turned it on, since the day was forecast to be around 90.  It's perfectly lovely, whatever the number has turned out to be.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It All Began When....

After the last two posts I've been thinking quite a bit about my interest in health and nutrition and natural healing methods. This morning, as I was scraping away at the window, I started searching back to find the earliest known seed for all this.  The first one I can be certain about happened while I lived in Germany, from ages 16 to 18, more or less.  For two years, anyway, one of which was my senior year in high school.

I remember reading a news item about using hypnosis for childbirth, as opposed to drugs.  This was somewhere around 1960, before Lamaze came along and when women were routinely knocked out during the final stages of childbirth and missed the whole process.  It was a lengthy article, discussing how it was better for both the mother and child since neither had the drugs in their system.  Right then, I decided I was going to use this method when I had a child.

I married in 1961, had my first child about 11 months later.  Right off, I sought and found a doctor in San Jose, California, where we lived at the time, who used this method, and began the lengthy process of learning how to make this happen.  At first, he hypnotized me himself, but he then taught me self-hypnosis and made me practice it at home, since I'd have to do it myself during most of labor, since he couldn't reasonably be by my side the whole time. In the end I couldn't do it by myself. It worked great while he was with me, but I couldn't do it alone.  I didn't have any drugs, however, other than a tad of ether or some anesthesia at the final moments when somebody clapped a mask over my face.  I begged for drugs, certainly, but through some bit of evil that lurked in his head the doc wouldn't approve them, since I'd said I didn't want them and, I guess, I wasn't allowed to change my mind. I never quite forgave him for that.

This same doc became my kid's doc, and I learned a few things from him that have stayed with me during all the intervening years.  First of all, he told me not to worry too much about sterility around the baby (sterility was the trend back then), because the child needed to be exposed to some bugs so he could build an immunity.  Cleanliness, certainly, but not sterility.  I used that method for both kids and have never ceased using it for myself.  One of the basics of good health is a strong, healthy immune system that can fight off nasty bugs that attack, and to do that it needs exposure to bugs of all kinds.  My body does a pretty good job of that, for the most part, and I don't use any anti-bacterial products, shun them religiously.  I've worked in banks and other places handling money (filthy stuff) and interacting closely with people, but never got sick.

The only exception I made to that was last year when I had MERSA.  Once the first round of antibiotics was over, the bug came back in a slightly different location.  At that point, as much to protect my co-workers as myself, I bought, carried and used all kinds of hand-cleaning anti-bacterial products.  Yes, I also took all the strong sulphur antibiotics they would give me, happily.  MERSA kills, especially the elderly and like it or not, I'm in that category.  Sort of. Not sure exactly where or how I got the MERSA, but it manifested right after I returned from a 4-5 day trip to Cedartown to check things out.  It could have been present anywhere -- airplanes, airports, but I think it more likely that it was in the hotel I stayed in for those days.

The other thing I learned from him was using food for medicine.  I frankly admit that it irritated me at the time, because I'd call with a cranky infant with some kind of tummy ailment, and the doc would tell me to scrape a raw apple, let it brown, then feed that to the baby.  Well, as you might imagine feeding anything to a screaming baby doesn't work very well, plus I didn't always have an apple on hand.  There was something about the chemical process of turning it brown that worked for tummy issues, although any further details have long since fled.  And in case you wonder, this man was an MD, not a quack of any kind.

When I moved to San Francisco in 1968 a co-worker introduced me to Adele Davis.  I bought and devoured her book "Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit", changed my dietary habits, took supplements as needed, and in general became a devoted disciple, reading the book over and over and letting all that info soak into my head and way of life.  I may still have that book, although it was falling apart from use and I may have decided to let it go.  So that's the genesis of how I feel about health and nutrition and natural medicine.  Goes back a loooong way!

OK -- enough of the soapbox for today.  In case any of you are wondering, work does continue on the windows, albeit very slowly.  The Citristrip people told me to use oil-based Kilz for that particular problem, and everybody says to let it dry out really well before I do so.  I have the Kilz, but have decided to wait until maybe Tuesday to use it.  The other window, above, is coming along, too.  I didn't show a 'before' photo, but you can see that the amount of brown is growing larger.  It's really hard for me to scrape the paint, and sometimes the scraper just doesn't do any good anyway, but I do use it a little bit almost daily.  Once I've decided I can't scrape any more off, I'm going to cover everything up in the room and break out the power sander again. I want to be able to do it all at once, since it makes such a mess. The side trim pieces have to come off and I'll do those outside, eventually.

In recent days (weeks?) I've been concentrating on the detail trim of the upper pane, where there are grooves and such that have to be done by hand. Much of this paint is literally fused into the wood and to get it off I have to remove some of the wood.  Good thing it's not a veneer!  Most of it is cleaned and sanded, although I'm still having issues with the part along the top, shown here.  It's really awkward and hard to reach but like the rest of it, I'll get it done one small step at a time.  I spent an hour or two this morning on it -- all standing on the ladder, which is really  uncomfortable.  My body doesn't twist and turn that way as well as it once did.  Yeah, I guess I'm whining, but so be it.

I think I've done about all I'm going to do with this today.  I took yesterday off completely, my body just needed rest.  Refer back to the 'elderly' part, above.

I have some Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Beans soaking for some Senate Bean Soup -- yummy!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Medicine: Traditional or Natural?

Apparently, I set off a bit of a firestorm yesterday with my comments regarding my feelings about medicine and medical treatment.  For those of you who were concerned about me, I'm grateful for your concern and that you care.

I go to doctors -- as in M.D. doctors -- when needed and they're really the only choice around here.  In Oregon I was surrounded by doctors who practiced natural medicine, rather than traditional medicine, and those were the ones I preferred.  I'd have to go to Atlanta to get one of those now, and it would be cost prohibitive for me.  Still, my tendency is toward natural healing methods rather than traditional medicine.  Simply put, the difference is that traditional medicine treats symptoms, generally with drugs, and those drugs are often toxic to the body and almost all have side effects.  Just pay attention to a TV ad for any pharmaceutical, listen to the side effects the ad runs through quickly, hoping you won't hear them.  Not for me, thank you.

Natural medicine, on the other hand, looks for the root cause that has produced the symptoms, and treats that root cause, most generally with diet and supplements. Plain old good nutrition. I have asked several MDs about swelling in my ankles and feet, for example.  One of them (a real winner, in Eugene) suggested I wear support hose.  When I asked her what caused the swelling in the first place, she just gave me a strange look and said she didn't know. She seemed to think it odd that I even needed to know the cause, if she could treat the symptoms.  Frankly, I haven't had the best of luck on that subject with a Naturopath, either, but it's better than it used to be.

For months now I've been listening to a nightly natural healing radio show hosted by a doctor who has a large natural healing clinic in Nashville and another in Denver, with more planned.  I know enough about the subject to know that he knows his stuff, although I do think his primary goal for being on the air is to sell either his books or his outrageously expensive supplements.  I've tried some of the things he's recommended to other people for the same issues I've had, and they've worked.  I've ordered another item (although not from him) that should help the issues with the neuropathy in my feet.  Can't hurt me, even if it doesn't help. Just a form of Vitamin B-6 called pyradoxine.

Food is our best medicine folks, and a huge part of the medical issues we have nowadays are lifestyle-related.  Junk food, fast food are only the tip of the iceberg and I've been guilty of both those far too much over the last couple of months.  As Doctor Asa says, if you can lifestyle your way into an illness, you can lifestyle your way out of it.  That's the approach I take and so far, it's working pretty good for me.  But then, I've only been doing it for 40 odd years so maybe more time is needed to see what the long-term effects are. :)

As I said initially, I realize my position on pharmaceuticals and medical procedures is not mainstream in the least, but it's also not something that has come about suddenly or capriciously.  It's a philosophy that began 20 years or so ago, and that philosophy has only strengthened over those years.  I've often said that I'd rather live life to the fullest, even if that means dying at a younger age.  What is life, as in a living organism, without Life!

I'm going to live my life, but I'm not a total fool.  I take precautions, I'm extremely healthy for someone my age, and I don't refuse medical attention when needed or as a last resort, although I'd certainly still draw the line at surgery and/or chemo for cancer, or for most other invasive procedures and toxic pharmaceuticals.  I'm not going to take drastic measures to extend life merely as a living organism, merely for the sake of being alive.  I can't envision me sitting around as an invalid, unable to ride my bike or go for a walk or work in the garden or whatever else I want to do.  It's just not me. 

I may slow down with age, but I'm going to live my life.  If I'm given 20 more healthy years, that's great.  If I'm given 20 more healthy minutes, that's OK too.  But I'm not going to live in fear for any part of those 20 years or 20 minutes.  Death doesn't frighten me. What does frighten me is the thought of living out my last days in a nursing home confined to a bed, as my mother did.  Or even confined to a rocking chair in my own home.  I'll stay healthy my way, and approach death my way -- without interference from doctors and hospitals and without any drastic measures.  It's called DNR -- do not resuscitate. And that's how I feel about it.  When my time is up, let me go gently as nature intended.

I realize that 99% of you reading this will disagree, and that's fine.  I expect you to.  I respect your choice to have procedures and take drugs that extend your years and I'd never try to convince you to come around to my way of thinking. These are very personal decisions, and we should all be allowed to make them for ourselves.  I've made mine, and I'm sticking with it.

And that's my soapbox for tonight, friends.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

World's cutest kitten

This is a 'real time' photo, folks.  As I was writing this blog entry I turned around and found this sight behind me.  How in hell did she ever get into that position for sleeping?  Looks like she was playing and just got suddenly tired and rolled off the cushion, or something.  Hard to say. I was laughing so hard I'm surprised the camera stayed steady.  She drives me crazy at times, but she also makes me laugh out loud at times, and that's a rare event in this life!

Didja miss me?  Haven't done anything of note since the weekend, but thought I'd check in anyway.  Still struggling with the Citristrip issue -- emailed them this morning instead of calling again, hopefully someone will answer.  Someone suggested I try Kilz, which I may do, but I'm already using a stain-blocking oil-based primer, so am not sure Kilz would work any better.  I thought I'd ask the experts again before I do anything else.

Just returned from a huge lunch down at the southern buffet here in town.  Lots of food for a reasonable price, and I made the most of it.  Haven't felt well today, didn't feel like cooking.

For awhile now -- a year or so, I guess -- I've been having some nights when I can't sleep.  I always excuse it by saying I am just 'wired' for some reason, although there is rarely a real reason for such a state.  I go to bed as usual, but am wide awake and can't sleep.  Last night I got up and read for a couple of hours and finally admitted what I've seen in the past but have been trying to ignore.  When these nights happen, my heart is racing like crazy.  I'm used to that -- have had issues with heartbeat regulation for over 30 years now but it's not something I worry about as it's rarely evident, as long as I take my beta blocker.  These nights seem to be coming more often, although there are still weeks and maybe months in between.  I've been tired and headachy all day.

And no, I'm not going to the doctor for tests.  My philosophy on such things is not the norm.  If I should get cancer, for example, I'm not going to go the chemo or other unpleasant routes to try and gain a few more months of life, or even a few more years.  If this heart issue is changing and/or getting worse and it kills me, so be it.  I care more about quality of life than quantity of life.  I don't want surgeries or treatments that make me feel worse than I feel without them.  As a practitioner of Buddhist philosophy I have no fear of death.  I have no wish to be alive if I can't live life to the fullest, do the things I want to do.  Things like this certainly give me pause, make me think about the meaning of it all, but only reinforce my philosophy and wishes on the subject.  Not even sure why I brought it up!

This is my grandmother's sister, and her husband.  Somebody has piled up dirt too deeply in front of the monument so I can't read the death dates, and I wasn't comfortable trying to move the dirt away, or any of the flowers.  This is an old plot in the newer section of the cemetery, and it's large enough for another grave or two besides these.  I'm still looking for my Perry ancestors who are supposedly buried in this place.

Last night I decided to go to the dairy in Rockmart after work and stop back by the Spring Creek Cemetery for a look at the 'newer' section, since it was sort of on the way.  Despite Mr. Google's map, I didn't exactly take the express route through the back roads, but I got where I needed to go.  For the most part, the 'new' section was too new for my purposes, and I didn't go back to the old section because I checked it thoroughly on the last visit.  I'm sure they are there, just unmarked as so many are.

I found a handyman to work with, so as soon as I can get this window/Citristrip issue resolved and the window painted, we'll schedule a time for him to come over and take care of my short list of chores for fall. I'm hoping to be able to have the money to tackle larger projects next summer: kitchen and bathroom, primarily.  I can do a lot of the work, but certainly not all of it.  I can't do all the kitchen, either, so I'm still trying to work out a good compromise between what I have and what I want. 

Spent an hour or two this morning sanding the 'other' window in the room and made good progress.  I didn't have the full energy to do as much as I'd like, but any day that I can make even a little progress on this job is a successful day, far as I'm concerned.  I'm going to take it easy for the rest of the day!