This Old House, Glaser Edition

Thursday, January 24, 2008

This Media-Hogging, Limelight-Loving Old House!

We have not posted in two weeks, so Glasers Old House decided to grab the spotlight and force us to blog. How? The said house created such excitement for the Glasers that we could not resist blogging about the drama. Of course, it picked one of the coldest, wet nights to launch its fiendish plot. It chose late on a Saturday, too. Why, Saturday, you ask? We live in a state with the blue laws, which means that we could not buy the one teeny, tiny part that we needed until 1:30 P.M. on Sunday afternoon. You see, in 1885, South Carolina enacted a law that forbade "any worldly labor, business, or work of the ordinary callings upon the Lord's Day."

Since then, legislators have whittled away at that law with a bunch of exceptions. Business establishments cannot sell liquor, but they can sell tobacco. You cannot buy a DVD player or DVDs, but you can buy cameras, film, and batteries. You can purchase underwear, diapers, and panty hose, but not socks and other kinds of clothes. (Tammy is relieved that she can still pick up hose on the way to church if her last pair develops a run.) You can still get sick or die because pharmacists and funerals are allowed to operate. At least they have their priorities straight!

Some counties have repealed the blue laws, but efforts to end the blue laws statewide have all failed. The state capital Columbia is seated in Richland County, which dumped the blue laws. Its neighbor, Lexington County has kept the blue laws, which means that desperate shoppers cross the border to do their Sunday morning and early afternoon shopping.

But, what about Wal-Mart? Wal-Mart opens in the morning as always and blocks off the forbidden zones of the store with yellow crime scene tape. The check-out clerks are not supposed to ring up any Sabbath contraband, but we have never tried to sneak anything throng the self-check-out line.

But, we digress. Phase One of Operation Limelight was when the heating unit downstairs went stone cold dead on us. Fortunately, we had heat upstairs and oil heaters in the two rooms in which we spend the most time (Steve's office--i.e., TV room--and the kitchen). If Tammy got too cold, she could always put on the Clint Eastwood-esque alpaca poncho and toe warmers to wear under her moccasins. So, they cranked up the oil heater and sat back down on the leather couch to watch a few more episodes of Monk.

Steve's suspicions became aroused during Phase Two when the hot water heater died. Now, that was a real crisis! How can Tammy do her hair without hot water? Steve can hardly get a decent shave with hot water. How could any of us get cleaned up for the Sabbath we were supposed to be celebrating? Two dead heating units in one day were too much of a coincidence for Steve. While Tammy sat placidly watching television, Steve carefully searched and uncovered the reason for this double tragedy.

(To be continued--or it's 10:33 P.M. and we are too tired to type.)


We did find a technicality in the law. One of the exceptions would have allowed us to purchase a part for an emergency heating situation. How can we buy a legal and legitimate part if the store is not open? Here is the text of the exception:
The transportation by air, land, or water of persons or property, nor to the sale or delivery of heating, cooling, refrigerating, or motor fuels, oils, or gases, or the purchase or installation of repair parts or accessories for immediate use in cases of emergency in connection with motor vehicles, boats, bicycles, aircrafts, or heating, cooling, or refrigerating systems, nor to the cleaning of motor vehicles.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Queen of Quilts

People sometimes ask Steve why he lives across the street from his in-laws. Well, for starters, we have handyman Howard, who we have paid to do several projects on the house and who helps Tammy out with minor glitches when Steve is working. Then, there is Tammy's mother, who brews her own beer; bakes yummy bread; makes her own sauerkraut from scratch; preserves fruit as jellies, jams, and even marmalade; makes her own orange liqueur; and shares cherry tomatoes, asparagus, blueberries and raspberries, lemons, and other fresh food from her bountiful garden. And, we even forgive her for trying to sneak minced anchovies into the homemade pizza she so graciously let us sample. She is a talented artist and a trained photographer. She knits, crochets, cross-stitches, and sews. When puts her mind to a creative project, she quickly masters it.

Now, you know why we really are not crazy! After yet another satisfying meal, Tammy's Dad will quip, "Now, you know why I haven't run away from home!" Tammy is quick to add, "Yeah, now you know why I moved across the street!" and Steve will follow it up with, "And, now you know why I live near my in-laws!"

Oh, and we cannot forget the quilts. It all started in 2005 when our county celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary: 150 years of history. One of our neighbors Margaret Jackson who is on the county council figured Tammy's mom must know how to make quilts since she excels at everything. In less than three months--with the help of an experienced quilter--Tammy's mother organized a new quilt group (Heart in Hand Quilters), joined up with the guild in the neighboring county, set up classes, and sewed the official Sesquicentennial Quilt raffled off for the celebration!

Tammy's mother gave us as a housewarming and early Christmas gift: a homemade quilt made of soft blues and beige to blend perfectly with the master bedroom. She found the pattern called Garden Window in a quilting magazine. This treasure turned out so beautiful that she put it on display at a quilt show.

To ensure the meaning and history behind a quilt is not forgotten, she always includes an inscriptions in permanent marker. When this heirloom is passed down through generations, people will know who made the quilt, who received it, where it happened, etc.

2007 was a busy year for the Heart in Hand quilters. In February, they submitted some of the 200 quilts on display at Patriot Hall for the Swan Lake Quilt Guild's First Annual Quilt Extravaganza. You can see Tammy's parents busy manning the tables at this inaugural event. Steve and Tammy were delighted that her mother put their quilt on display!

By October, the Heart in Hand Quilters had stitched together a quilt to raise money for the Swamp Fox Mural Society. They wrapped up the year by donating homemade lap quilts to forty-six residents of a nearby nursing home. The week before Christmas Tammy's mother and fellow quilters went to the home and personally delivered the quilts plus lotions and perfume donated by Avon.

You would think that was plenty of quilting for one year. But, no! Tammy's mother made a lap quilt for her husband Howard, a small, starry quilt for one son, another Garden Window quilt in fresh colors for another son and his wife, and a gorgeous sky-blue quilt for one very happy daughter and her husband. Enjoy all of those joyful faces with their cozy Christmas gifts!

Tammy's mother needs to start a quilting blog! But, in case she does not, her favorite show, which she records every day, is the Carol Duvall show. Sometimes, Tammy will find used (i.e., inexpensive) quilt books for her mother. American Graphic Quilt Designs, an out-of-print book, was a hot commodity for about six months but are now going for a reasonable price. She had no problems snatching up Tradition with a Twist and Marsha McCloskey's Block Party. Tammy's favorite sites for locating reasonably priced used books are Best Web Buys and eBay (of course). And, if you are looking for a cheap way to swap used books or DVDs, try Paper Back Swap and Swap a DVD (if you sign up, please give them Tammy's email address so she can get credit for the referral . . .

Sunday, January 06, 2008

No Mo' Sanford and Son

We promised to blog more regularly, not every day! We do have a life, you know!

The first order of business the week we bought the house (July 2006) was to raze the backyard which had become overgrown. The landscaping crew that took down some old trees near the house also demolished the outhouse and yanked three clotheslines poles, probably meant to withstand a nuclear blast.

This was the view of our backyard before the landscapers started. Can you see the outhouse with the lovely words "I hate you" spray painted in blood red? Can you see the big eye sore called Sanford and Son? They really are buried behind the jungle covering our backyard.

Exhibit A: Outhouse

Exhibit B: Sanford and Son
Last spring, we were busy cooking up plans to hide this eyesore: build a very tall fence or plant bushes or ivy that grows quickly. Others suggested we dig up the dead Yankee that was possibly buried in our yard during the Civil War. Some recommended digging up the spot where the outhouse stood because people might have lost something valuable and opted not to retrieve it. In the meantime, the gentleman who owned the dilapidated house, junkyard, and a gazillion cats died. We figured we would have to live with that view until we found a way to hide it.

Fortunately, once the estate was settled, two nephews of the gentleman resting in peace decided to sell the place. But, to do so, they had to take apart the junkyard piece by piece. They had crews out there on the hottest weekends of the summer and often during the week. They hauled pile after pile of debris to the curb near the house. They tore down shed remnants where the stuff sat there rusting. One day, Tammy snapped these three photographs of the junk the crews were dismantling. As you can see, sheds full of shelves crammed with junk lined the west side of the property. The task seemed impossible, but the nephews succeeded in clearing out all of it!

Today, Tammy took this shot of the spot where the outhouse in our yard and the junkyard to the south of us once stood. Now, we can see all the way to the storage sheds that kept our stuff when we were moving into our old house in Christmas of 2006.

Just imagine! This entire fence was lined with sheds full of junk last year. We are Snoopy Dancing now that there ain't no mo' Sanford and Son!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Flying Arwen and Wishful Thinking

We have two medium-sized dogs. One is a cream puff named Loa, and then there is Arwen, whom we should have named Gollum. On the one hand, she is a sweet, happy dog who only craves affection. On the other, she is so exuberant when meeting people she scares them off with her hyperactivity and sharp claws. We wisely decided to board her at a kennel while Steve's parents were visiting for the holidays.

Steve and Arwen are playing in what we hoped would have been her lair--a completely fenced in backyard. She loves to jump, pull things, and fly in mid air. Unfortunately, she and her compatriot Loa start barking after about fifteen minutes of fresh air, which is apparently toxic to their delicate bodies. Even on the most beautiful, crisp and sunny autumn days, they want nothing to do with the great outdoors.

We could understand if the lair looked like the nightmare the former owner faced, the result of fifty years of neglect:

Even what we inherited might have been beneath their canine dignity:

Steve and David cleared out the dog yard of trash and mowed the overgrown grass:

That was not good enough for the royal princesses. They have a large yard and a dog house lined with wheat straw. Tammy's brothers dogs love this set-up, but not ours! About the only thing that keeps Arwen entertained is this old stanchion Tammy's dad used to support the front porch while restoring the columns. She drags it around like a toy! Does the Dog Whisperer make house calls in South Carolina?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

How We Spent the First Day of the New Year

Steve's parents, Jim and Barbara, joined us for Christmas this year. We spent the day keeping warm, playing Scrabble, and putting the final touches on a photo montage with photos from Jim's childhood. We hope you enjoy this bit of nostalgia from the 1930's and 1940's. We even got fancy and burned four DVDs of this clip for Jim and his three brothers.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Home for Christmas

We hereby resolve to be more attentive to this poor little blog that has gotten scarce coverage in the past six months. Last Christmas, we did not move in until Christmas Day and had no time to decorate the house. To the left is the lighted Christmas tree we bought at Lowes on December 22 for HALF of the price: $110! Steve's parents and Pamela helped him pick the perfect tree. Be sure to click any picture for a larger view! On the left, you can see a beautiful painting Steve's sister Patty gave to us when she visited us in the spring. The colors look beautiful against the living room's Resort Peach hue.

This is a view of our fireplace, which has the original tile found in other homes built at the same time as ours. Tammy's father replaced the mirror for us and redid the frame around it with trim from Lowes (our former home away from home). I love how the front porch light's reflection shows up in the mirror. The chair is an antique his great-great grandmother had in New Orleans. The wood is original, but Steve's father and mother reupholstered the chair when they owned it. The stockings are from El Salvador, while most of the knick-knacks on the mantel belonged to the previous owner of our house.

We were thinking about going with light wood furniture but worried it would end up being like having too much lard and sugar in your frosting and went with very dark wood for contrast. We love the plantation shutters, which are easier to maintain than blinds or curtains. The wreath is a gift from one of Steve's sisters who live in El Salvador. We bought the red nutcracker on a trip to visit Tammy's parents when they lived in Germany, and the bowl contains pecans from our very own tree in the back yard. Steve's father and Tammy cracked a total of six cups of nuts to prepare holiday treats like Praline Pumpkin Dessert, Gluten-Free Casein-Free Pecan Praline Dessert, Cranberry Conserve, and Tropical Dump Cake. The book on the end table is a family favorite, Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien who hailed from the Midlands of England like Steve's mother.

This detail features our Christmas look: a poinsetta from Tammy's friend, three candles (one of which rests on a wooden candle holder made by her dad from the pecan tree chopped down last summer), and a colorful nativity set and angels from La Palma, El Salvador. The items on permanent display in what Steve's sister Janet calls "the museum" include unusual artifacts gathered in our worldwide travels. The piece behind the nativity is made of driftwood, Japanese fishing floats, and shells, put together by an Alaskan native named Albert Jackson, whom we knew during our two-year stint in Sand Point, Alaska. To the right of that on the shelf behind the glass are two green, fruit-shaped pieces Steve picked up on a business trip to Quito, Ecuador. Our neighbors during our eighteen-month stay in Colorado gave us the snow white goose girl for babysitting their snow-white Westie named Christie. The cheap, ugly television behind the poinsetta is to cover the ugly gash we need to hide some day in a more elegant and refined way.

We did nothing more than hang a decorative piece on the wall of the tiffany hall, which takes you from the living room to our next destination, the dining room. Steve hung the closest thing he could find to mistletoe above the French doors. The Christmas colors of the lamp, walls, and carpet, the tiffany hall sets a festive mood without much effort. Likewise, the Heirloom Red walls of the dining room require very little addition. We put a Christmas cloth from Germany on the table and a few knick-knacks on the buffet between the windows.

We normally keep the willow girl, the prancing horse from Ecuador, and the photo of Tammy's parents wearing elf hats taken last Christmas. All we added was two more knick-knacks.