Saturday, March 3, 2012

Life Certainly is Interesting!

My son-in-law brought these flowers to me last week.
He is the sweetest guy!

$2,400 flower arrangement!

Now here is the rest of the story...
Living on a farm, we can't identify with the term "summer vacation." For us, summer means the days are hot, dirty, long and bone weary.  Spring and fall are no different, just not the hot part.  I am not complaining, it's just the nature of the job.  We were raised on ranches/farms and it's the only way of life we know.

So, we take our vacations in the winter.  When the kids were growing up, we snowmobiled and skied.  Having 3 feet of snow right out our back door and millions of acres of back country to explore . . . well, it was a given that we "played" in the winter.  Up until this winter, we always had lots of snow.  This winter has been the mildest one in the 37 years we have lived here.

By February, this is what we usually look like here in Idaho.
Feb. 2011.
Not so this winter!
Feb. 2012
Our winter activities have changed: the kids are grown and on their own so we take a  week or two each winter to visit them and when we go, we plan to help them with their projects.

Our daughter lives in Minnesota. February 15th, we packed our work clothes and flew back to MN to spend 11 days luxuriating in their rental property project.  There's only one thing I love as much as quilting/sewing and that's remodeling!  YeeHaw!
That's why I subscribe to my 2 favorite magazines!

Vacation in central Minnesota in winter? You betcha!  Interestingly, the only time I wore my coat was in the airport so I didn't have to carry it around.  Their weather was pretty mild with temps around 20's and 30's during the day.  No slick roads and hardly any snow in Minnesota either.

This is what it looked like where kid's live in Minnesota!
The Mississippi River is just down the hill to the left of the photo and it's absolutely beautiful in the summer.
Only an inch or 2 of snow during the 11 days we were there.

Our Minnesota kids have careers a long way from the farm: she is a Pharmacist and he is a Financial Analyst. They took a few days off work and we had a great time helping them with their current project: a recently purchased foreclosure (in the next town) they plan to use as a rental property--3 bed/one bath with an unfinished basement. They hired a contractor to frame in the basement to include a 4th bedroom, large family room, laundry/furnace room and a full bathroom. When we arrived the sheet-rock had just been freshly hung, taped and textured.  

I just love the smell of fresh sheet-rock!

My hubby helped with plumbing, doors, kitchen cupboards, vanities and other misc projects. He installed 2 built-in microwaves (one in the rental and one to replace theirs in their own home.) They already had the upstairs rooms entirely painted so I started priming and painting the new basement ceilings and walls. Days later, after rolling gallons and gallons of paint for 864 sq.ft. basement area, we painted almost 500 linear feet of trim for the baseboards, doors and closets.  When we left, they were picking out carpet samples!

The contractor told me that paint jobs in the busy season are bid out at around $49/hr.  When I added up my hours those roses cost about $2,400! Whoot! Don't worry, I'll take it out in trade (with interest, financial analysts understand interest.) Someday when I am old, I will need a mother-in-law suite attached to their home.  *smile*

Back home to Idaho:  Our closest airport is Salt Lake City International in Utah--a 125 drive from home. When we flew to MN, the car started loosing power as we approached the airport.  So, we spent our entire time away from home wondering if we were going to get back to Idaho from the airport!  When we did start home, we barely made it across the first intersection out of the airport!  My beloved 2001 Pontiac Grand Am was acting up!  Now, as her only owner, she and I have 224,000 + miles together; and I have known for a while she is bound to go sometime.  Reality finally set in as we chugged our way north.

Long story short, we took a few back roads until we got out of the worst of the crazy Utah freeway traffic. It was a Sunday, so we knew we were on our own and couldn't stop to get the car fixed. Hubby thought it was probably a fuel filter, but it's not one that you can throw up the hood and change, it's way down by the gas tank underneath everything.

We made it home.

Monday morning, we called our favorite mechanic and I followed hubby with the truck another 60 miles north into "town." Have I mentioned that we live 60 miles from anywhere?  Groceries, dentist, doctor, Pizza Hut: 60 miles.

We just picked the car up yesterday.  Indeed, the fuel filter was somewhat plugged, the catalytic converter was shot, the bearing on the tightener on the serpentine belt that runs from the alternator was shot (I know that's a lot of prepositions; but, luckily this is not a graded English essay.)  We had him replace the brakes too, as this was something we knew we had to fix soon.  While my car was at the spa, we also had him order a new condenser for the AC, so it wouldn't heat up in the summer. I love my Pontiac, and have long known they have a design flaw for folks that live out in the country.  The AC condenser is right behind the front grill and the fins that were not bent from grasshopper assaults were plugged with grasshopper remains.

Parts: $685 . . . Labor: $395 . . . Having my baby back in my garage: Priceless!
Since I am out here in the garage, I should share the place where the "quilter" becomes the "handyman."
Recycled miscellaneous cupboards make a fabulous work bench.
This part of the building is fully insulated, so when we stoke up this little stove it becomes toasty warm even if it's below 0 outside. Of course, we move the chop saw and the yard tools away when we build the fire.
When it's not in use, the table saw that Hubby got me for Christmas in 2008 makes a nice work island with a piece of 3/4" plywood.
Twenty years ago, my Dad gave us this great case to hold lots of jars for misc. small parts, nuts, bolts, etc. It has sliding glass doors to keep everything clean and organized. It was designed for quart sized jars to fit on the shelf.  However, over the years, I have changed out all the glass jars with safer plastic peanut butter, mayo, and salad dressing jars.

See that old electric knife from the 80's?  There just to the far left?
Nothing works better to slice through foam for upholstering! 

Meanwhile, back in the studio: after juggling several sewing and quilting projects this week, I should show some progress soon. I am finishing up my Mom's March wall hanging this afternoon.
Funny thing, I would have had it sewn and quilted all ready, but since we got home, we have had a several power outages the past 5 days.  We had a wind storm that brought salt with the snow.  Salt from the Utah Salt Flats.  It has played havoc with the power substations in our local area.  Even more local, it blew out the transformer 70 yards from our house Wednesday night and we actually saw fireworks out the front door!

Suffice it to say that I have caught up with lots of reading lately.  While traveling and at home by the gas and kerosene lanterns, I have burned through over a dozen books the past 2 weeks!

Oh, one more little detail.  My desk computer monitor quit the morning we left Idaho.  I have been using my lap top while waiting for a new monitor.  Since Quick Books is only on my desk top, thank goodness I got all the tax/accounting books done and into our accountant by Feb.13th because our taxes were due Feb. 29th.  Whew!  At least I didn't have that stress hovering around all the other pieces of life the past 3 weeks!

Life certainly is interesting.


  1. Welcome home! I wondered if you had taken a vacation. A quilter AND a handywoman, too? I'm very impressed!

    Glad to see someone else prefers to maintain and drive an older vehicle. It seems like all my friends trade-in their cars after a year or two. That's just when they work well. ;oD

    No snow to speak of here either, but now the March winds are howling. I guess I am never happy.

  2. My car is a 2005 and has 121,000+ miles on it. Other than the large quantities of gas it uses (Trailblazer SUV), I love it. I drive it from Illinois to Texas (and everywhere in between) several times a year. Glad to find someone else that likes 'non ordinary' gifts. I asked for a dishwasher for my birthday one year, and a dremel for another gift (hubby keeps stealing it).



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