Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Old Farm House

I have started writing my personal history (guess you can call it an autobiography). As the mood strikes me, I add to the stories.  These stories (recollections) are a work in progress.  Just wanted to solicit comments about my work.  I have found some of my old slides helping to illustrate the articles.  My mom's autobiography has been very helpful for details (just wish he had kept the original photos she has in her book).  Thanks to my cousin Dale who furnished many family history photographs.

Here's what I wrote about "The Old Farm House".

I grew up in an old farm house owned my the paternal grandfather. It (and the grandparent's house) were on the land of 240 acres (give or take) which my grandparents owned.

Typical old farmsteads, there was a barn, milk house, machine shed, and house. The well was usually at/near the milk house. Constant cold water from the well was needed to keep the fresh milk cool. Water was piped underground to the barn and house.

From what I remember, there were 4 sections of the house. There were the 2 rooms and hall (closet) in the back, almost fashions as a “lean-to”. The main (1 ½ story) house was in front of the bedrooms became the living room. These sections of the house had a stone foundation.

The “closet” had access to both of the first floor bedrooms. It was also a very narrow hall – at least us kids would use it as such at times. With the dining room and living room, they make a loop in the house to chase each other. You know how children can't avoid running and chasing through a loop of rooms in a building!

The dining room and kitchen were on a concrete foundation (from what I remember) and concrete floor. Two or three different distinct basement floors. The final addition was made adding a bathroom. Yes, the house had an outhouse until of age 10 (almost 11)!

In the Winter, we did not dally – did our business and hurry back into the house. Of course, us men would make a “short-cut” to urinate just outside out of the back door during those bitter cold Winter nights. Toilet paper was a luxury. Mostly we used newspaper. When there was no newsprint – there was the Sears & Roebuck catalog. Newsprint was preferred because the catalog paper was not as absorbent. I know it sounds like a joke, but we used what we had.

This was about the same time that I start remembering major items. Perhaps it is because of the changed made during that year.

1958 was a big year. That year, my little brother (Kenny) got sick and died of leukemia. During that year, trying to make the house more comfortable for Kenny and the rest of the family, dad made major changes to the house.

The old big coal fired furnace was removed and replaces with forced air propane furnace. Previously, the house was heated with one large register right on top of the furnace. Once I was old enough it was my job to bank the fire in the furnace before going to bed. It was cold in the house until the furnace was stoked and hear radiated through the house. Many Winter mornings my sister, brother, and I would get dressed in front of the open oven door.

There was no forced air (other than possibly a fan) to distribute the heat. My bedroom was in the upstairs, right under the roof. Finally, I had a heat register in my room.

With the removal of the old furnace, the flooring in the dining room was replaced with hardwood flooring. The other big change was addition of a bathroom in the house. Before the bathroom addition, we had the outhouse and a shower in the basement. Shower just attached to the chimney. No curtain or such --- just the open shower in the basement.

For the early years of my life, the bedroom off the dining room was mine, and then one I shared with my sister. Eventually, I needed my own bedroom. I got the upstairs room (over the dining room). For a short period, little brother Kenny shared that bedroom with me. Being right under the roof (the room was more like a finished attic) the room was cold in the Winter and Hot in the summer.

But that upstairs room was a social gathering space. Friends and neighbors visiting gathered in the dining room. Us “kids” went up to my room. Seems I had lots of interesting items to play with and entertain our friends. My cousin Don Gillmore tells that I used to tell ghost stories in my room and the stairs to the room. Lights were turned off and there was often a flashlight for surreal lighting. We used to scare the younger cousins.

The room housed my radio gear, including amateur radio station. One of the kits assembled was a broadcast band transmitter. We would spend hours broadcasting a radio “show” to whomever happened to drive near the house. Favorite was the commentary about “Dot's Marble Cake”. The “show” was a running joke by Wilfred Meier. His sister and I were in the same class in high school. As a joke, my mom backed a marble cake, including actual marbles backed into the cake.

My parents purchase early (if not the first) TV in the family. It was a B&W 13” RCA table model. When they traded up to a larger set, the old TV went into my upstairs bedroom. Another reason the room was social central. Anyway – with the TV and my radios, I spend many late nights in the room. Ofter watched the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. My room was on the other end of the house – so my late night TV/Radio did not bother the rest of the family. The only problem was the loss of sleep, which at times I paid for dearly! I still have the TV.

In the mid 70s, my parents started talking about building a new house to replace the old farm house. My sister and I were both well established in our own right. We supported them in the decision. After all, there were not getting older and should enjoy life. In the 1976 they moved into their new house, built behind the old house. The old house was razed. Some of the lumber (4/5th oak flooring) was sold as salvage. When the old house as torn down, construction deficiencies in the house came to light. Much of the house had a layer of newsprint as the only “insulation” in the exterior walls.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rain Damage to Road

Over the last week, we have had a couple heard downpours.  Deep channels are being cut into the gravel road.  (see photo).  This condition is usually worst on steep hills (where one wound think it - fast running water).  The big problem comes when meeting traffic.  The other day, topping a hill and meeting an oncoming vehicle, the right side wheel cropped into the rut.  The rut grabbed the tire - and I fought to maintain control.

When I moved here 28 years ago, I thought the gravel roads around here might be paved by now.  Looks like no chance.

Iowa Pottawattamie County L52 between US 6 and State highway 92.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Long Morning Shadow

Good day for a bicycle ride, was long as you were out early.  When I left home, weather.com was reporting 66 deg and 100% humidity.  Sunny morning with a slight breeze from the West.

With the humidity, it was a bit chilly when I headed out from Wabash Trace Trailhead.  Glad I had my light jacket.  Headed down the Lake Manawa Trail.  I had some back pain over night, so took a couple generic "Tylenol".  Hoping the ride would loosen up the back.

So, I took it easy starting down the trail.  Felt pretty good to be one the bike, riding the hybrid.  Looking for a little change of scenery, I decided to ride the loop around Lake Manawa in a counter-clockwise direction.  Today's photo was taken on the Veteran's Memorial Trail near the junction of East Manawa Drive and Hwy 92.

Did not meet any other riders until I rode down Indian Creek Trail.  At the bridge, I was getting a bit warm so stowed the backed in the rack bag.  Met several more early morning riders in Lake Manawa State Park.  Surprisingly, my legs were not sprnt when I got done. 

While in town, did a couple errands.  Stopped at the hospital for my regular blood draw.  Then Hy-Vee for new supply of generic tylenol and one of my prescriptions.  On my way home, detoured to Treynor and picked up some snacks.

Home, checked e-mail and facebook.  Re-hydrated with Powerade Zero and took a nap.  Pretty good morning.  Calendar proof was in afternoon e-mail.  Approved the proof.  SWINT meeting this evening in Silver City, debating if I make that meeting. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

2015 Calendar

The 2015 version of my "Bicycle Trails" calendar should be going to the printer next week. 

New Gutters

Thursday is a day for coffee at Panera.  The contractor's crew was scheduled to install new gutters.  With the problems with the roofers, I did not cancel my coffee chat.  Good thing, too, because Paul (had not seen him for a while) stopped by for a while.  When I got ready to leave and shut down my laptop, there here 14 updates needed tp be installed.  Delayed me departure by 20 minutes.

The contractor dropped off their trailer while I picked p the rest of supplies.  About 9:30 the crew arrived at the house and got to work removing the old gutters.  New, seamless gutters with leaf guards and larger downspouts.  Chose the classic cream color for the gutters since I am repainting the house and want a lighter color.  Colors are discussed in another blog posting.

The gutters are formed on site from a roll of painted aluminum.  I had hoped to watch the machine form the gutters, but I missed it.  They were too quiet and did not hear them.  They have their forming machine in a trailer which they bring to the job.

Over the last several years. I have not been able to get up on the roof to clean the gutters.  The downspouts were completely plugged.  All this did not help keeping a dry basement.  Having the larger downspouts and the leaf covers should make things much better -- no more water pouring off the roof and past the gutters.  May find out how well they work this weekend are rain is forecast.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Top 10 Day Ride

Been looking for a good weather day for a bike ride.  I been suffering through some depression and pain in my back.  I needed to get out for a bicycle ride.

It was about 10am this morning when I kitted up for a bike ride.  Loaded the hybrid on the rack and drove to Lake Manawa.  Parked at the Nature Trail.

Did my good deed of the day.  At the trail parking lot, there was a woman contemplating the trail signs and map.  It was obvious she was not familiar to the area.  I offered her some help and gave her a copy of the Omaha.Council Bluffs trails map I always have in the car (in the bike rack bag).  Suggested some routes and their distances. 

Sunny with light, variable winds,  Thermometer on the car said 72 degrees driving to the trail.  Road the look around Lake Manawa.  Perfect temperature - in the shade and a little wind I was cool,  in the sun and sheltered from the wind it was a bit warm. 

Snapped this photo at the apartments across from the golf course.  Three bears climbed a tree as chain-saw are.  The sculpture was fashied from on dead tree - instead of cutting the stump - they created the sculpture.  Had seen if earlier in the season before the bears were painted.

Stopped at the bike shop for a quick visit.  Rested and napped the rest of the afternoon.  Word is that the contractor crew will be at my place tomorrow to replace the gutters and downspouts.

Oh, while riding my bike, my back did not hurt so much.  Pain was back when done, though prehaps a little less than this morning.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Contractors (and other vendors) Beware

Back on June 3rd, we got hit with a nasty storm.  My house suffered hail damage.  This is August 12, almost 2 1/2 months since the storm.  I am STILL getting unsolicited phone calls for roof and house repairs!

First - They are too late.  Do they really think I would wait for over 2 months to look for and contact a contractor?  I was on the phone and web sites withing a couple days.  I know contractors get busy at these times, so the best thing is to get estimates, Do the rest of your homework, and select a contractor.  Then you are on his list for repairs.  Nothing will happen until this happens.

Second - I do NOT work with contractors that solicit work over the phone.  I will work with local, known contractors that I contact and ask for estimates.  There are too many traveling, fly-by-night contractors out there.

Finally, my phone number is on the National Do No Call list.  Anther reason your phone calls will not generate any business for me.  All you do is make me angry and make sure I would never do business with you.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Rainy Day Errands

Sure glad the roof repairs were completed Tuesday.  Yesterday was a wet, rainy day - most all of the day.  Good day to do errands in town.

Started with a hair cut (I was getting a bit shaggy).  Then stop by the paint store to tal about paint colors for house exterior.  The clerk there said they could match just about any color I wanted.

Next stop is the hospital.  Short visit with the Cardiac Rehab folks.  Wanted to show them the selected photos for the 2015 calendar.  Then it was to CVS photo department for passport photos.  My passport had expired last year.  Need it renewed or a new passport card if i want to drive through Canada during my trip to Portland, Maine.

While the photos were getting processed, stopped by the bike shop to visit.  Talked to Zach - asked him to proof my calendar - I had e-mails it to the shop account. Bacl the CVS to pick up my photos.

DAMN! Passport photos are a rip-off!  I could have taken them myself, but hearing all the hassles with size of the face in the photo, size of the photo, not to mention of printing and cutting to size, I decided to have CVS do them. 

Now, anywhere, you can get 4x6" prints for under 20 cents.  Passport photos are 2"x2".  But, they cost almost $12 each!  And we need to get 2 (government paperwork is confusing - some places in the web site I see 2 photos are needed, other places need 1).  Anyway, $24+ (including tax) is a bit high.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A New Roof

After almost a week of broken promises, yesterday was again the day for the shingles replaced on the roof.  I was a little concerned when I got up.  There were showers in the area.  Decided I was not going to miss my regakar trip to Panera Bread for coffee, bagel and conversation.  I was there when they opened at 6am.

Logged in for my normal chat session.  Forgot to bring the portable hard drive with my photos, so could not do much photography work.  Left early and headed home - interested to see if I had roofers at the house.  They were promised for 7am.

Disappointed but not surprised when I got home a 7:45 and no activity at the house.  Grabbed the laptop out of the car and took it to the house.  Was about to take the trash to the road when I saw the roofing crew arrive.  They back their trailer up to the garage (for removed material), parked the rest of their vehicles and got to work.

I also had a exterior painter coming to look at the house.  The house is in bad need for repainting.  Has been another of those items I deferred.  With the new roof and gutters, it was time to get it done.  And, soon the condition would be damaging the house. 

Had a good discussion with the painter.  Showed me that I was look at.  He suggested I go to Sherman-Williams to select colors.  The gutter sample colors the roofing contractor has gave me a good color scheme. 

I had to watch out for any clash from the brick part-way upthe front of the house.  i an settling for a cream main color of the house.  Trim in a dark. subdued green. (see lower photo)

Roofing contractor salesman dropped by as the crew was cleaning up.  We discussed plans for getting the gutters replaced.  Can change the gutter color (yet).  Can use the new base color of the house.  They were all packed up and gone before 5pm. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Another Visit to the Zoo - Roof Repairs Stalled

I needed to get out for a walk or bike ride today.  Roofers were supposed to arrive between 7 and 8 in the morning.  It I wanted to go to the zoo, I needed to leave the bouse at 8:30.

Was a little bit humid and overcast when I stuck my head out of the door.  I had already dressed in shorts and polo shirt, so decided is was a "Zoo" day.

Arrived at the zoo as the gates were opening.  Got a good, close-in parking spot.  The goal today was to get down to the petting zoo area.  Did a detour through the Desert Dome - since most of it was closed when I was in March.

I get busy shooting photos, I do not get the names of most of the animals/  Another visit to the zoo, I should stop to shoot the exhibit sign so that I can later match the animal to the photo.

Stopped to shoot some flower photos.  Most of the plants are NOT labeled on the zoo grounds.  That would be helpful.  For now, som eof my flora/florist friends generally supply the names after I post them on facebook.

All around of Bear Canyon I found these strange cheracters (see photo(.  From the name, I think it was some Asian sculpture.  (should have grabbed a photo of the sign).  No idea it this is a semi-permanent exhibit.

The Zoo Railroad was running (I was sure sections of the track was torn up a month ago).  Toured Bear Canyon,  Lower photo is the American Black Bear. Got a couple shots of a peacock showing off his plumes.  Peahens and chicks wandering the area around Sue's Carousal.

My 11am. my legs had enough.  Splurged (50 cents) to ride the tram up neat to the zoo entrance.  While it was overcast and not hot, I was sweating from the humidity.  Treated myself to a Blizzard on the way home.

When I got home, I found no roofers.  Not surprised.  Exchanged e-mails with the contractor's salesman.  He came to the house to apologize.  Guess the company has a new work scheduler - and not coordinating much with the salesman. Was hoping to get the crew to my house tomorrow.  Well - that was blown out of the water later in the afternoon - the house the crew was working on needed a new roof deck in addition to the shingles - so would not be getting to me tomorrow.

 He gave me more info about getting the broken window.  Have someone to work on that tomorrow - after I am home from breakfast.