This Old House, Glaser Edition

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ringing in the New Year!

We did more housework today. Tammy focused on the two bathrooms upstairs; David washed the walls because the dust stirred up by the floor restoration lightly coated everything! Steve installed doorstops, new window latches, bought supplies for the electrician, replacing the too bright 75 watt light bulbs with lower wattage, and assisted Tammy’s father with prepping the installation of mantel mirrors and the restored fireplace in the office.

The electrician completed mundane tasks like fixing the fan in the master bathroom that had burnt out, figuring out the electrical outlet adaptor needed for the dryer, and installing a smoke detector (no, it was not the culprit from yesterday!). Then he replaced the lights in the dining room and at the bottom of the stairs. Steve picked both lamps at Lamps Plus and chose well.

We envisioned a simpler light for the dining room because it was too busy: beaded trim dangled off the fussy mini-shades, and the bottom of the lamp had a busy floral pattern. We thought the medallion was busy enough and wanted to keep both the room’s color scheme and the lamp simple. An effusive crystal chandelier was definitely out of the question. We opted for a bronze pendant chandelier with the opaque shades tilting up for we despise bare nekked bulbs. The graceful, elegant design allows the ceiling medallion to be the focal point, and the light makes a beautiful pattern that highlights the colorful medallion. Even better, it was on clearance at half off the listed price!

The original lamp in the hall seemed a bit dull. The new tiffany lamp in the hallway is about as perfect a match as you can get. Its colors tap into nearly every room downstairs: the leaves hint at the soft, warm blue in Pamela’s room, the red reflected dining room’s dramatic red, and the green unite the garland green in the stairs and the olive tones in Steve’s office. The warm colors blend in well with our peach living room. Because the space is rather confined, an intricate light pattern dances on all the upper walls of this area at the bottom of the stairs. This chandelier brightens our journey every time we pass it going up and down the stairs!

We spent New Year’s Eve at Tammy’s parents’ house and enjoyed more delicious fare. As we are still cleaning the stove and are surviving on microwave food, we were especially thankful for real food. We toasted marshmallows over the fire in their chiminea in the back yard. By ten, the Glasers headed home and passed out in Camp Glaser. David was the only one who decided to stay up to watch and hear the massive firework explosions ringing in the New Year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Firing Up the Neighborhood!

On our first, official, full day in the house, we excited the entire neighborhood! Back in July when we bought the house, the previous owner asked if we wanted her to transfer the ADT security system account to our name. We told her to deactivate it, and we would restart the system after moving into the house. We assumed someone had deactivated everything completely. To be honest, we really did not know what the system was supposed to do. When we plugged the system into the wall, we assumed we would have to call ADT to reactivate it. We assumed too much!

Steve saw an innocent looking wiring hanging off a smoke detector in the ceiling. He hauled the latter upstairs and tried to figure out how to make those wires disappear in their hidey-hole. Suddenly, a noise blared through the house that sounded like he had dropped a hammer on a banshee's foot. It was the smoke detector, but it was no ordinary one. The shrill alarm pierced our ears much more sharply than your average pathetic chirpers could. He turned off the sound, and we all went back to our housekeeping duties.

He looked out the window and noticed a Sears' delivery truck stopping out our house. We were puzzled because we had ordered nothing. When two fire trucks showed up at the house a minute later, we slowly realized that parts of our security system were not only activated, but also in tip-top condition. The deliveryman, part of the volunteer fire department, asked us where the fire was. Even if we had known to call 911 to alert them of a false alarm, it would have been impossible. We are getting by with cell phones, which lack 911! The phone company transferred our landlines over to the new house, but our phones are hiding somewhere in the storage shed!

By this time, the whole neighborhood was out on the street, wondering what the Glasers had done to their house now! We are quite sure they were laughing with us! (This was because it happened at eleven in the morning, rather than six.)

Besides helping Steve make a joint to-do list in Excel and joining him on another Lowe's shopping spree (area rugs, oak registers, door stops, window latches, and other minutia), Tammy unpacked clothing from the trip, but did not do any laundry because the appliances are not installed. She discovered something awesome about the kitchen window above the sink. Some variety of camellia shrubs line the yard due east of the kitchen and dining room, and they are blooming right now during the gloomiest season of the Carolina year. All she needs are some bird feeders, and she will happily wash dishes all day long. We will figure out what variety they are after we address more pressing concerns, like the security system and a telephone connection!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Camp Glaser

We returned home in the early evening completely exhausted and did little more than shop for essentials (like nine-volt batteries for our birdssmoke detectors), check our email, and read a few pages from a book. We have no Internet right now, but happily discovered we can mooch off Tammy's parents' wireless if we sit with our laptops in the north end of our house! The earliest we could set up our own connection is January 2. Right now, we are trying to avoid setting up too many rooms until Tammy's brother installs the shoe molding, so here is our campsite!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lessons Learned at Universal Studios Part II

Please join us for the conclusion of our lessons learned at t Universal Studios. (Click here for Lessons 1-9). Here are our final lessons learned from our visit to Universal Studios Florida:

Lesson 10 In every photograph, there is always at least one person not willing to pose for the camera, even if you prompt them with "Say cheese." If you wait too long to snap the shot, hoping for that perfect moment, waves of people will flow between the camera and its subject. Just get on with it and take the picture!

Lesson 11 Some unwilling posers prefer the limelight and want to hog all the glory to themselves. Corollary: The unwilling poser might not have been sure about sticking her head in a shark's mouth until she saw her cousins do it and walk away unharmed. Smart cookie!

P.S. It is hard to discern which theory is more true. Said poser was unwilling to leave until Tammy snapped the shot.

Lesson 12 Lovers of all things disco be forewarned about staying at the Hard Rock Hotel, which displays detestable art with slogans like "Disco sucks." In the immortal words of one of the Disco Boys from Mystery Men, "Disco is not dead! Disco is LIFE!" If sensitive to anti-disco imagery, choose another hotel. Signs of sensitivity include dumping disco songs into your video games, memorizing the track numbers of your favorite disco songs on each CD, and wanting obscure titles like Let Me Take You Dancing by Bryan Adams for your birthday.

Lesson 13 Properly framing a shot in a crowd is next to impossible, even with a digital camera at a Blues Brothers Live Show where crowds are known to dance and jostle your camera arm!

Lesson 14 Never enter into a staring contest with this person. You will lose, and he will win! How does he do it? He does not try to make silly faces because he will laugh himself. He simply stares and thinks of something sad until the other person cracks.

Lesson 15 Even cutesy creatures totally unrelated to any known cartoon characters remotely resembling Ariel's friends under the sea can capture the imagination of those who are young at heart. Do not attempt to photograph older male teenagers with a sea horse and starfish worthy of H. R. Puffinstuff. They will not like it!

Lesson 16 Do not spill your soda while this one is reading the television guide in the newspaper. She will move out of the way and continue gazing at the beauty and order of a lovely schedule. She will not lift a finger to help.

P.S. Pamela LOVED the rides, especially Jaws, Doctor Doom's Fear Fall, and everything in Seuss Landing. David's favorite rides were Spider-Man and Back to the Future, and he lived vicariously as a storm-chaser wanna-be in the Twister ride. Steve's favorite ride was The Mummy, while Tammy enjoyed tamer things like the Blues Brothers and Men-in-Black.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Lessons Learned at Universal Studios Part I

We interrupt this house blog with a brief message about our trip to Universal Studios. We met up with the nephews and their cousins at Universal Studios for two full days packed with excitement. Here are our lessons learned from our visit to the Islands of Adventure theme park:

Lesson 1 Do not expect to have free Internet as an amenity if you stay at the pricey hotels at Universal Studios (*ahem* Hard Rock Hotel). Even if you do have Internet, expect to get behind in blogging due to sheer exhaustion if there are any teenagers in your party. Parental exhaustion is directly proportional to the number of teenagers present. Wear anything other than dependable running shoes at your own risk.

Lesson 2 Speaking of running shoes . . . if you lack proper footwear for running, wear some with laces you can tie tightly, preferably with double knots. Failure to do so will result in unexpected loss of flip-flops, loafers, and clogs on rides like The Incredible Hulk Coaster. We do not speak from personal experience, but witnessed evidence first hand. Double click the image to the left for a better view.

Lesson 3 Do not try rides like this early in the morning, especially in the winter. Be suspicious when teenagers try to convince you that you will not get too wet. Based on our experience, consider the following rides suspect no matter how much said teenagers beg you to ride: Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls and Jurassic Park River Adventure. They were kind enough to warn us that Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges really will get you wet!

Lesson 4 If you are tempted to ignore the previous lesson, take off your sweatshirts, jackets, and sweaters and leave them with someone with a weak stomach. Better yet, wear a cheap, hooded plastic poncho for better protection. Our experience is that T-shirts dry faster than sweaters and sweatshirts. If you fail the last lesson, expect to either spend time waiting for your clothing to dry or fork out $50 per sweatshirt when the sun sets and hypothermia begins to degrade your financial wisdom.

Lesson 5 Know your limits. Previous excursions to theme parks have resulted in unexpected loss of lunch for Tammy and nearly so for Steve. While Steve can handle up and down motion, spinning will undo him. Tammy can ride mild rides, but nothing with continuous, unstoppable, lurching, dizzying movement. When in doubt, team up with families with adults who have iron clad stomachs. Because we mastered this lesson before arriving, no one had to return to the hotel for a change of clothes!

Lesson 6 If you have a queasy stomach or are too short for some rides, be prepared to wait. Stretch your imagination in thinking of entertaining conversations to humor those who cannot ride. Steel yourself for signs of the poochie lip disease and rolling eyes for those tired of waiting. Buying an Express Plus Pass for all is well worth the money! You still have to manage short lines, but you will see fewer pouty faces.

Lesson 7 According to the web page about Doctor Doom's Fearfall, "the initial launch at the beginning of the ride uses more thrust than a 747 jet engine and accelerates faster than the space shuttle." Feel free to draw your own conclusions about this one, which are obvious to the most casual observer!

Lesson 8 Expect to cramp up horribly if you stupidly schedule a long drive after two days of moving boxes and furniture and cleaning house. While following teenagers all over the park can help loosen up the calves, nothing will prevent tired and achy feet, especially if you ignored the first lesson.

Lesson 9 If you have extreme fans of Dr. Seuss with you, expect difficulty in extracting them from Seuss Landing, followed by dazed, dreamy expressions as you walk through the park. Our definition of extreme fandom is owning a copy of nearly all the books in the picture below, memorizing all information contained about every Dr. Seuss cartoon ever made that can be found at IMDb, and repeatedly watching and discussing DVDs like The Hoober-Bloob Highway and The Lorax in more detail than you ever wanted to know.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of this information-packed series!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Our First Day at Home?

Disbelieving neighbors shook their heads and claimed we would never fill our first humongous dumpster. Not only did we pack the first dumpster to the top, we filled the second one with debris from the house! With all the warm weather we enjoyed in December, the dumpster began belching vile odors. Tammy snapped a shot of the interior and found nothing suspicious nor worthy of an episode of Monk, a detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder who would not touch it with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.

Because all demo work is finished, Steve called the dumpster company this morning. Business must be slow this time of year because the truck arrived in about half an hour. Our neighbor probably uncorked a bottle of champagne once she saw the foul beast depart from our driveway. We were glad to be rid of the stench worthy of Shelob's lair. And, we are excited because we can finally park our cars, side by side in the driveway. Our carport is full of junk again and cleaning it up is yet one more project on the to-do list.

Readers might wonder why we were so adamant about moving into our new old house in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We faced two intractable deadlines: (1) our lease expires on our rented house by the end of the month and (2) Steve’s nephews and their father were visiting Universal Studios in Orlando all the way from El Salvador. The cousins had not seen each other in two years, and we hoped to share some quality family time. We knew we would not enjoy a vacation with the dread of a move hanging over our heads, so we gritted our teeth, ignored our sore muscles, and pushed ourselves.

We spent the morning washing clothes, dropping the dogs off at the kennel, and packing for the trip. Steve, Tammy, and the children (Pamela and David) ate a hearty lunch at Tammy’s parents—leftovers from Christmas dinner, even better the second time around. We left at 2:30 P.M. and spent the rest of the day in the car, allowing our sore muscles to stiffen! What ought to have been a six-hour journey took seven-and-a-half because of traffic backed up on I-95 going through South Carolina and Georgia. We arrived in Orlando completely exhausted between the hard work of the past two days, the chirping birds in our house (two smoke detectors in dire need of batteries, stashed in an unknown box in storage), and the long ride.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Every Christmas Eve, a neighbor leads a group of people who line half a block worth of street with luminaries for all to enjoy on their way home from Christmas Eve services. Tammy and the children, who are in the youth/"young" adult choir, sang three songs from City on a Hill for the Christmas Eve candlelight service and felt welcomed home by the soft light.

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day moving into the new house and cleaning the old one (in between singing gigs). Well, we did not exactly move in because Tammy's brother and co-worker have to finish the kitchen, Pamela's bathroom, and the punch list. We put most of our stuff in storage a block from our house. We are "camping out" on mattresses on the floor in David's room, living out of suitcases, and surviving with minimal supplies in the kitchen. We have been slowly moving boxes and furniture into storage since Thanksgiving, so attempting this during the holydays was less traumatic than it could have been. We had to rent a U-Haul truck to move the appliances, which we dumped directly into the house to avoid moving them again!

We took a break on Christmas Eve after the service and celebrated the holiday in the German fashion. We lit the Advent wreath, and Tammy's father read the Christmas passages from the Bible. We sang Christmas carols, each person taking turns picking their favorite. Her mother even broke out the harmonica and played Stille Nacht. Then we opened the presents—that is right, we opened the presents on Christmas Eve! Viva la différence! We never complained about opening presents early as kids and neither do mine! Would you?

Living across the street from Tammy's parents gave us one fringe benefit. Her mother is a fantastic cook that would give Julia Child a run for her money. She cooked a wonderful meal for Christmas dinner: ham, deep fried turkey, mashed potato, a Momma Dip sweet potato recipe, mixed vegetables, homemade cranberry sauce, and biscuits, topped off with Italian love cake for dessert. Moving had built up a healthy appetite, and Steve even ate seconds! Dad says Mom's cooking is the reason why he will never run away from home.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Dear Aunt Della!

We planned for today to be the day for hauling as many boxes as humanly possible into storage and for cleaning both houses. Life interrupted our plans: Tammy's dear grandaunt Della died yesterday. Her grandparents have been dead for many years, and Aunt Della was her remaining link to the past. Tammy and her parents visited her at her home in Mount Olive last June before her final health decline began. She gave her last gift to us that day, sharing wonderful memories we never knew about life in Piney Grove, North Carolina in the first few decades after the turn of the last century.

She reminisced about her parents, Tom and Ola (pictured here), who spent many of their days poor, but pretty well off on their two hundred acres of farmland. Tom borrowed three dollars to pay for their marriage license, and Martin Luther Weeks presided at their wedding in Sampson County on Christmas Day of 1901. They raised their family on the old King plantation in Piney Grove Township, where the cemetery is today. They were poor during the "Hoover" Depression because they literally had no cash. Unlike others, they ate well, raising hogs, chickens, and cows on their farm and living off the land with vegetable gardens and grape vines. Both white and black grape vines thrived on the farm, and Della claimed that preserves made from black grapes could not be beat. One could guess a child's age by the number of rings of scars on the legs from picking huckleberries every year. By Depression Era standards, Tom and Ola prospered for they had a two-holer outhouse with a Sears Roebuck Catalog to pass the time.

Tom's younger brother Henry Clevland was called Preacher Henry because he was an ordained minister presiding over the Pentecostal Holiness Church in Suttontown, North Carolina and had served as a missionary in Africa. He and his brother Tom (Della's father) clashed over tobacco. Preacher Henry raised cotton, corn, soybeans, and vegetable crops and sold them at auction at the farmer's market in Faison, North Carolina, while Tom raised tobacco. Preacher Henry did his share of rebuking before removing Tom from the membership roll of his church because of Tom's partiality to tobacco. Tom was described as very mild-mannered, and the only person to whom he raised his voice in anger was Preacher Henry. As much heat as their arguments generated, nary a curse word passed between their lips.

The community held a great deal of respect for Preacher Henry and his strong beliefs, which were at times a bit too strong. Not only did his Pentecostal Holiness Church disenroll Tom, it removed Della's mother Ola from the rolls for taking the children to the county fair. From that day, Tom and Ola attended, but did not join, the King's Methodist Church in Piney Grove Township. Their daughters Della and Alice eventually became faithful members of the Methodist Church in Mount Olive.

We learned about family traits observed in our branch of the King line. Della's father did not leave behind too many serious pictures of himself: he despised having his photograph taken and would totally ruin a shot by monkeying around like a clown. Both Tammy's father and son (pictured here) have that tendency to show off for the camera and look forward to Halloween and costume parties just to have an excuse to ham it up. Tammy learned her lyric soprano voice, which mysteriously appeared during her college years out of nowhere, might have come from her grandfather, Leslie Howard (Della's brother). He was known for his very high tenor falsetto voice that only appeared after hours when the musicians showed up at the store. Not only was Tammy's grandfather Howard a talented singer, but he kept people entertained by wrapping both legs behind his neck like a pretzel. He could also crawling around the floor with his legs crossed, yoga style. Music flowed through the family gene pool, and a young Della bought her own guitar and learn to play. Della gave it to Tammy’s father, who taught himself to strum chords.

Aunt Della died on Friday and, because of the holidays, her family held a funeral service on Saturday and burial on Sunday. Tammy and Steve drove three hours one-way to visit friends and relatives. While Steve and the children headed home, Tammy attended the Saturday service and rode back with her parents. Beautiful flowers surrounded the altar, and people who fondly remembered Della filled the room. A poem about Della printed in the bulletin for the service, writing by W. Dwayne Summerlin, describes her beauty, grace, sharp mind, and wonderful things we cherished about Aunt Della:

Mrs. Della was always a well-dressed lady, everything in place,
Was always fixed up when going out, she walked with splendor and grace.
She liked nice things and wanted them right,
And her spoken word was always positive, or else, she’d be quiet.
Love and compassionate, she was extremely kind,
And even until her dying day, she had the sharpest mind.
The historian of her family, all the important dates she knew;
Competent advice was there for the asking, she was knowledgeable and nurturing too.
She was the mainstay of the King clan,
She worked hard and took care of those needing a helping hand.
She loved to dance, she loved to read,
And was happy to see others succeed.

Here is another snippet that made us smile:

Brother remembers the time she was driving the ’29 Ford Model A,
And how it got in the ditch, she backed it out, and they were on their way.
These and many more memories of a life well lived, a lady well loved;
May the Lord enfold her in His keeping in the heavens above.

Here is her obituary:

Oct. 1, 1913 - Dec. 22, 2006

MOUNT OLIVE -- Della King Jordan Joyner, 93, of 902 North Church Street in Mount Olive, died Friday afternoon.

Funeral services were held Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Tyndall Funeral Home in Mount Olive, officiated by Dr. H. Dennis Draper Jr., with visitation immediately following. The burial service will be today at 1:30 p.m. at Wayne Memorial Park.

She was a retired hairdresser and a member of the First United Methodist Church of Mount Olive. She was a native of Sampson County.

Those preceding her in death include her parents, Thomas J. and Mattie Viola Sutton King; her first and second husbands, Pete Jordan and Edd Joyner, her infant daughter; her brothers, Wesley King and Leslie Howard King; and her sisters, Mattie K. Hollowell, Essie K. Payne, and Alice K. Baker. Those surviving include a brother, T.O. King and his wife, Betty of Durham; and several nieces and nephews, including Thomas D. Hollowell of Mount Olive, who had been a special caregiver.

Gifts in her memory may be made to First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 420, Mount Olive, N.C. 28365.

Arrangements handled by Tyndall in Mount Olive.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Close Call in the Can

Everything about David's bathroom is a tight fit! We replaced the bulky claw foot bathtub with a Victorian style pedestal sink. Tammy's brother rerouted the plumbing to the left to supply water to a corner shower, which was a tight squeeze. The shower covered up the ceiling light switch plate, so Steve found a very small ceiling light with a switch built into the fixture. Even Tammyat 64 inches tallcan reach the switch because the ceiling is so low. The light ended up with about an eighth of an inch clearance from the shower door (pictured left). Did we mention Steve is an engineer? We kept the toilet in its original spot, but replaced it with an Heirloom low-consumption model manufactured by Steve's company. About the only thing we kept from the original bathroom was a compact medicine cabinet.

Tammy, who is no interior decorator, put some careful thought behind the look of David's bathroom. Because it was so small, she kept the window to create a feeling of space and selected white and very light airy materials. The pedestal sink and corner shower allowed much more floor space. She thought contemporary fixtures made sense in a small space because the Victorian ornate details can be fussy and claustrophobic. Steve picked a contemporary mosaic tile that made the bathroom look smart. Tammy's brother mixed leftover powder blue paint originally used by the previous owner in David's bedroom with the Lowes' American Tradition blanched pine to give the ceiling an ethereal feeling. The faucets made by Steve's company harken back to the Victorian era. We chose only modern brushed steel hardware for this bathroom from the Brentwood collection with a satin nickel finish at Lamps Plus: towel holder, towel bar, bathrobe door hook, and toilet paper holder. Tammy's brother installed a shower from a kit we ordered from our local hardware store: a 38" by 38" by 77" Atlantic NEO-angle shower with white trim and three shelves and a towel bar into the corner. This shower adds a great deal of floor space and makes the bathroom feel larger than it really is.

Below are before (to the left) and after (to the right) shots for comparison. The bathroom is so small it is impossible to get a full shot of the shower, but you can see the model by clicking this link.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Postcards from Heaven

In the process of fixing up the fireplace in Steve's office, Tammy's father brought it down to bare brick. As he pulled the wood off the chimney, something caught his eye as three postcards from the 1930's fluttered to the ground. He could not wait to share his excitement over this ancient find with us! The postcards are in poor condition, but intriguing nonetheless.

Two of the postcards were postmarked and bore one-cent stamps, and the third never left the house. One displays a picture of the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta—an important symbol of the Great Depression, while another is a reminder requesting a financial report for the local chapter of the American Red Cross chapter, which is still very active because of hurricanes in this region. The third could be Depression Era fraud in which a person sells 20 articles of some kind of merchandise and receives some kind of reward premium for doing so. We could find very little online about Reliable Premium, but it is listed as a pending lottery case by the Federal Trade Commission for fiscal year that ended in 1943 (page 77) and a resolved case in 1944 (page 88). The case was one of five involving the use of lottery methods in selling candy and other merchandise. Another site mentions a "Big Reliable Premium House" in Chicago, not New York, as a mail order catalog outfit in which "lady agents" sold the merchandise for premiums, which sounds like a forerunner of Avon and Tupperware!