A rough two weeks.
The national tragedies hit us all hard, with Alexe being particularly hammered. She is not the most empathetic person in the world, but the death of defenseless children breaks through her barriers, and she has struggled since she heard the news from Connecticut.
The store has had personnel issues, which Alexe also does not weather well Dealing with a stealing employee, widespread sickness that has called Alexe in to work on her rare days off, the last of the used coolers that we haven;t replaced with new deciding to kick the bucket, and the general holiday business has weighed her down.
At home, this place has a long way to go. It's hard to relax, for both of us. Me because it's like living at my job, and Alexe, because she not particularly patient, and I've destroyed any chance of impressing her with excessive showing off in the past.
And then there's the rampant illness, that has had both kids run through a puking bug, Alexe through the same, and though I dodged that bullet, I had an old friend the sinus infection come to visit, and halfway through the first round of antibiotics, it decided to fight back hard. I'm now on a three week course of very strong anti-s, paired with a very large steroid taper. That would be why I'm awake after midnight, and writing here.
In all this, many good things have popped out of the woodwork.
We have new tenants for the apartment, and they're proving to be an interesting, cool couple who get the area and are actively enthused about living here. Both are accomplished in their professional field (photography) and freshly back from many years living overseas, and you can feel them sighing with comfort and pleasure into the slower, more friendly opportunities of this neck of the world.
Projects have continued, though my pace, and mood, are always the first thing to start failing when the infections set up camp in the middle of my skull.
The stairs to the second story have been relocated, and now the house feels much more fluid and connected. To make this happen the upstairs bathroom had to go.
This very heavy cast iron tub was installed and then framed around. It was a *^*&^) to get out. Alexe lent a hand.
View from the living room, in the original section of the house. Doorway being cut.
You can see how the two story addition was added at a lower grade, putting the second story maybe 5 feet above the floor of the original house.
Ah, cutting stair stringers.
The toilet is out on the front porch. A necessary badge for any house under construction/renovation. The temporary pine treads will be replaced with oak as soon as the dark tung oil dries.
The kids and I took a local Christmas shopping cruise down Main Street. Caspian was very helpful in the hardware store.
Annaliese took a couple days off from school. The first was because she was puking, the second was because she told her mother, on the way to school, that she felt sick again. The moment she was back home with me, she was happy as a clam, and following me with non-stop chatter as we continued on my agenda for the day. It turns out she had made an interesting connection: Candy is bad for you, (as we tell her) and she had been sick. Her teacher, who she adores, gave her candy. Then she got sick. So... her teacher was poisoning her with treats, so she couldn't go back to school.
We cleared that up, and she went back to school the next day, but I had lots of fun with her as a helper. Separately these two kids are much more fun to spend time with right now; together they are almost constantly at each other's throats.
Anyhow, we went to pick up some cinder blocks at the Other Other Place, (lumber yard / hardware store, a fun story there,) and after driving around back to load up the truck, we met this starving young stray. She had shown up in one of the storage sheds that morning, and the loaders were worried she was going to get hit if she stuck around there. Annaliese played with her while we loaded the truck, and when it was time to go, she hopped in and came home with us.
We have been ready for a new pup. We have the room, and Shadow, while a great dog, is sleeping 23 hours a day, and her hearing is going. Her guard dog duties have been slipping, and her constant flow of urine have ben vexing, though after her long years of service, she's earned a few ruined rugs.
This young pooch is great. She may have eaten a couple chickens, and crayons, and chicken food, and anything else the poor starving thing thinks she needs to choke down in case she doesn't find food tomorrow, but I'm optimistic she;ll get through that. She also had a pooping problem around the house, not helped by her gorging, but we borrowed a crate, and that has almost eliminated that problem.
We named her Olive. Think Popeye.
At some point we squeezed in a family walk, and I was able to show off the reclamation work I've been doing on the back 10 acres. This section was an impassable thicket a week ago.
Caspian marched to the top of the hill through the oak forest, and we found a turtle shell.
Olive. Sitting on the tractor. Which has given me some trouble. We've had a couple of cold snaps, mornings in the 20s, and the tractor was not starting. This being my first tractor, and only having the basic manual, my diagnostic skills are zero, so I spent time replacing filters, which needed it, but didn't solve the starting problem. I ran through all the safety checks, worried the PTO was stuck on, etc.
Two days later, I found a scrap of information online, referring to the solenoid ont he back of the fuel pump getting gummed up with oil. The manual hits a "take to the dealer" wall for anything related to the fuel pump, so I never would have thought of this. Twenty minutes later, the tractor is starting like a top.
(Public service announcement. John Deere model 4400, JD 4400, starting issue. Cranks, will not catch. Remove steel guard on the right side of the engine, near the brake pedals, three bolts, two smaller at the top, one larger at the bottom. Two small bolts hold the solenoid to the back of the fuel pump. Remove bolts, and pull solenoid away. You'll see a small rod coming out the front end of the solenoid, probably covered in black oil. Work this rod in and out, spraying into the solenoid with a cleaner. (I didn't have any brake cleaner, I used wd40.) A fair amount of oily gunk will come out, and then the plunger will move freely. Reassemble, and off you go.)
A beautiful day, the kids and I grabbed some packed lunches form the BTC and headed to the park. (Alexe gets credit for the idea, though she couldn't come with us.)
This little man is strong, and likes to climb to the top of things.
His feet kept slipping out form under him, and he would grunt and drag them back under his body to keep going up.
You can;t see it in this picture, but there's a huge satisfied grin on his face.
The cinder blocks were for this project, squaring off the foundation to bring the porch all the way across the end of the house.
Missing my Moore boys here. This is my first cinderblock wall.
Apparently I was ready to wrap it up, I didn't stop to take a picture when I finished. I'm not the biggest fan of cinderblock walls, but I wanted to match the foundation on this side of the house.
Both kids had Christmas parties at their respective schools, and the presents they each received have been fun, and the cause of endless bickering. The tiara, for example, is now in many pieces.
Caspian reeaaally wanted it. Though to be fair, Annaliese ended up breaking it herself.
Friday night we went to a potluck/sing along way out in the country. No pictures, but it was a great evening with good friends and well behaved children. They were the only kids there, and we stayed until almost 10 pm with no issues until we left, and had to deal with the little party girl who has never left a party happily in her life.
Saturday, we're catching up here, Alexe went to work, and was back a little later with this little girl. This is a second addition to the family this week, but a woman brought her by the store this morning, and Alexe was smitten.
The kids named her Goldilocks.
She's really too young to be away form her mother, a little over four weeks old. She tried to nurse from Olive, who I would guess is 6 months old. They get along very well, until the little one starts the nursing routine, and then she gets batted. She's eating and drinking well though, and both these pooches are asleep in separate crates in the kitchen.
The new kitchen...
Has along way to go. However, after endless removal of the crap that was in this room, there have been steps to move it towards the bright lovely kitchen it will be. The old stairs have been removed, and the 2x4 support walls have been removed and replaced by vertical oak beams. Then today, with steroids pumping through my system, I decided to paint the lovely tan bricks of the fireplace.
It makes a huge difference, visually, and psychologically.
It also takes forever. This chimney has raked joints, which mean you've really got to work the paint into the joints to over the mortar. The lower section still needs a second coat, and I've got probably 4+ hours into it so far. But, it looks so nice, and after I put the surrounding black plates back around the stove, and paint the blower grills a nice blue and put those back in, it's going to make me smile for years to come.
Annaliese grabbed a box, a steak knife, and carved herself a car this afternoon. The whole thing was rad, from the idea, to the execution that included no missing fingers, to the layout of the shift knobs and steering wheel. She did it all herself, grumpily because I was painting and not helping her, but the final product, complete with wooden components, made me very proud.