Sunday, March 31, 2013

WDM, IA - I Snoozed and I Loozed

Tax time again. This year I thought I’d be sitting under a palm tree in Galveston with warm winds wafting over me. But I’ve substituted sitting in our lower lever, looking out at the pond with geese gliding gracefully over it and the sun streaming in the window. Not a bad trade. But, hey, if I’m gazing absent-mindedly at the geese, I must not be doing our taxes.

I did get them done. I do them on Turbo Tax and am able to download all of our pertinent investment information directly from Wells into the tax program. Pretty slick and certainly a time saver. When I e-filed, I got this message back:
‘Tax triumph?’ Now, with whom would I share? Who would ever want to get a tweet from me saying that I’ve triumphed over our taxes? I can’t imagine that my tax triumph over taxes would make anyone’s day. Oh, well, I don’t live in the social networking space.

Now about that snoozing and loozing. Last June I booked an 11-day trip for January 2013 to Hawaii for $2200 - flight and hotel. And, the hotel was more a condo with a kitchenette in it. So, we could save money on meals. Or, at least, save a lot of time in restaurants. Breakfast in the room, sandwiches as we travel about and dinner out. Well, that trip went up in smoke so I went online Friday to see what I could come up with for this coming January but decided that we wanted to spend 14 days rather than 11 since I found more things to do than we could manage in 11. I found a great price:

        $2200 for 14 days

        a non-stop flight rather than one stop in LA

        boarding at 10:00 am rather than 6:45

        returning at 7:30 pm rather than 10:45.

Whoo - eee. How much better could it get?

And, then I snoozed - and lost that great deal. I wanted to wait until Gary got home from Fort Dodge to talk it over along with our schedule for the winter. And, today, I went online to book that great deal. Big mistake - Expensive mistake.

Now, the price is $1500 each for a total close to $3000. Ouch. Well, I was stunned. Shucky darn. And, I was so bummed out that I didn’t book the trip. I’ll probably lose that price too. Of course, $3000 for 14 days is quite reasonable and almost comparable to $2200 for 11. But - shucks - I wanted a GREAT deal not just a GOOD deal.

I also checked on a 3 week trip to China which would cost about $3000. Maybe I’ll go for that - and get that hike on the Great Wall that I’ve always wanted to do.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

FD, IA - Before and After

Gary and I have been doing a lot up at Lug’s home to ensure that the systems work right, that it has good curb appeal and that it is clean inside. We are highly motivated to sell that house. I’ve mentioned the gutter work, the window well work and the sump pump work that Gary has been doing and I thought a picture is worth a thousand words. So, TA DA, here are some before and after picrures.


First is the side entrance to the house. Obviously, we want to have great ‘curb appeal’ and, since this is what buyers would see when they walked up to the front door, Gary wanted to improve this. In the first picture, the 'before' picture, the black pipe is from a sump pump in the basement laundry room which comes up out of the room, through a window, through the window well, and alongside the house. Well, it was supposed to be a window but Lug took the window out long ago and put in 2 wooden frames with plastic stretched across them, plastic which had ripped. I find it so ironic that Lug, who was so concerned about security that he always locked both locks on every door even when he was in the yard and then shook the doors to ensure that they were locked, had 2 sheets of plastic over this window, rather than a real window.

Gary rerouted the sump hose so it came out right next to the dryer vent, replaced this old, torn dryer vent, replaced the plastic covered window frames with the actual window which he found in a back storage room, and then installed a new, fitting window well cover and nailed it to the house rather than putting bricks around its base to hold it in place.


Lug’s lot is higher than the lot of the neighbor so to prevent water flowing into their lot and giving them a shore line, he’s always had several gutters along his garage so the water would drain out on his driveway rather than their yard. Over time these gutters have gotten knocked around and were a bit rusty to boot. Gary not only replaced them, he attached them to the side of the house rather than letting them float, and finally he took out the stakes since the gutters were now firmly attached.


Gary’s been a busy boy and unfortunately, he’s had to work outside a bit. Me, I got to stay inside - I’m such a delicate female - and clean. Below, you can see me posing, pretending that I am cleaning some windows in the family room. I only looked busy when Gary was inside.

Finally, my brother came over to do some steam cleaning in the family room. It looked pretty clean with just some spots and some areas beween doors where you could tell that people had walked. However, it was amazing how much dirt and dust and those pesky dust bunnies Jack pulled out of the carpet. He went over that carpet for at least 1 1/2 hours and finally it looked pretty good. Here we are in the kitchen cleaning the steam cleaner. Nothing like ‘bonding’ over a steam cleaner.

And, finally, the house looks good for a sale. The insde is clean and the outside has nice curb appeal. Of course, there is still the matter of the quarter round in the rooms with the wooden floors but Gary and Tom, Cathy’s husband are going up on Saturday to do that. And the matter of painting the first floor rooms. We’ve got a bid for that but he won’t be back from vacation until the first week of April. So, we’ve got to hold off on that - BUT, if someone wants to buy before then and paint themselves, no one in the family would stop them.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

FD, IA - We Are Our Parents Own Children


I’ve sprinkled pictures of the rooms of Lug and Darlene’s home throughout this blog entry so you can see how nice it is. And, if you’d like to make an offer, the realtor is . . . Well, probably you don’t. We have lots of pictures but all of them show an empty house and, who wants to advertise on an MLS listing that the house is unoccupied. Might invite vandalism. So, the only pictures that the realtor could put online were 3 pictures of the kitchen and the bathroom, both of which still look like people live in the house. Very neat, prissy people but at least it looks occupied.

I’d love to see my brother in this house since I think it is much better than the one he’s living in. However, the distinction is ‘I think’ and it’s not what Jack thinks because he’s looking for something that is ‘perfect’ for him. Besides, buying a new house means CHANGE. Change is tough. Gary and I, as we drive throughout the USA in our motorhome, thrive on change: new campgrounds, new sights, new grocery stores new trails, etc. And, then we return to Iowa every spring and visit Jack and Lug who don’t want any change to mar their scheduled lives.
InteriorPhotosforHouseMarketing-10-2013-03-21-19-54.jpgIt is 8:00 pm and Gary is still working, though at this time, he’s just checking to see what tools and supplies he’ll need to buy at Menards tomorrow for his projects then. Actually, he planned to go to Menards tonight but just couldn’t face it at 7:00 pm when he will be searching for various parts and options and will be mulling them over. We wouldn’t have gotten home until 8:30 and then we’d barely get done with showers and have to drop into bed.

We awoke at the usual time this morning, had breakfast and then Cathy showed up to look at the house prior to the meeting with, Dwight, the Realtor, at 10:00. At this meeting, Dwight explained what he would do, what price he’d sell it at and how he would approach the sale. Gary and Cathy mulled this over and signed the paperwork. Lunch at Nettie's, a newer restaurant in Fort Dodge followed.

InteriorPhotosforHouseMarketing-36-2013-03-21-19-54.jpgOh, oh. Wait a minute here. Holy Toledo. The house is on the market and people might stop by to view it at any time. In fact, Dwight told us that he wouldn’t be surprised if someone showed up today and certainly over the weekend. Oh, my. We need to give this house a cleaning - NOW. We originally had a cleaning day scheduled and it was supposed to be this weekend. However, we postponed this to allow time for several things that need to be done prior to cleaning: painting and quarter round. Painting? We need to freshen up the walls since they haven’t been painted for years. Not only that but Lug and Darlene had loads of pictures and knick knacks on their walls - lots of nail holes. Not that painting will add value to the home, it’s just that it might speed the sale.

The quarter-round? Well, remember that carpet we took up? Lo and behold, now we need to put down some quarter-round to cover the oak floors. One things always leads to another, you know, unintended consequences. Thus we postponed the cleaning until these two things got done since they probably make a mess. The painter can’t come until the first week of April and Gary and Tom, Cathy’s husband, weren’t going to do the quarter-round until next weekend. So we postponed the cleaning until the second week of April. By that time, hopefully, it might be warm enough to wash the outside of the windows too.

However, the cleaning can’t be postponed now with the house already on the market. So Gary and I scurried around, beating down cobwebs in the basement, vacuuming carpets, cleaning windows (and now we can see our neighbors), and just doing lots of basic cleaning that hadn’t been done for a while. Gary and I completely cleaned the front entrance area since that is the way most prospective buyers will be coming in to the house. Gary cleaned the downstairs bathroom while I made the acquaintance of most of the windows and screens on the main floor. Luckily, I’ve been cleaning the main floor a little bit at a time every time we come up here. We are living here and I like it to be clean.
InteriorPhotosforHouseMarketing-26-2013-03-21-19-54.jpgOriginally, we had planned to go home tomorrow, Friday, but now think it will be on Saturday to give Gary enough time to finish some projects (like re-routing the sump pump hose and re-doing some gutters and window-well covers) and me time to finish some more cleaning.

Now, to the title of this blog which is a tautology. Of course we are our parents own children, that is the definition. However, I mean it in a larger sense. We have our parents values and faced with similar situations, often act as they would. In this case: Gary’s and my parents all grew up during the Depression when food was scarce and not to be wasted. Gary and I just can’t toss food. We eat everything in the refrigerator and sometimes I’ve bought things that we didn't like. We even eat my kitchen failures like the cheese soufflĂ© which sank instead of rising. I could have used it as a disc in disc golf but we ate it. We called it jaw exercise.

Currently, there is the small matter of the two TV dinners which we found in the freezer when Lug died. I’ve planned to eat them several times but always conveniently found something else that ‘needed’ to be eaten right away. Shucks. Yesterday, I just planned to toss them. But, neither Gary nor I can do that - it just goes against the grain, against everything we’ve been taught. So, tonight, we’re going to steel ourselves and eat them. How bad can they actually be? And, here Gary is, at our ‘dining table’, eating our gourmet delights.

And, by the way, I also had prepared a salad to fill in the gaps - I thought we might want something else to eat. And, yes, we ate the salads. When you think that the potatoes were reconstituted, frozen, potato buds - well, that’s enough to say about that.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

FD, IA - Deferred Maintenance

There were many things on Lug’s mind during his last years but maintenance on his home was not one of them. He had a girl friend and he enjoyed being with her and helping her out around her home more than he enjoyed fixing the plumbing in his own home. Well, who wouldn’t? He loved writing letters on his computer and single-handedly keeping the post office in business. He also enjoyed giving money away to deserving people and groups. And, would any one of us say that those things were not more fun than scraping and repainting an outside window, or replacing a gutter or rerouting a sump pump pipe? If you disagree, please call us because we have some plumbing issues, a few windows that need scraping and painting, some quarter round that needs to be put around the wooden floors and a few other things on his house before we sell it.

ChillyToday--2013-03-20-11-39.jpgHmmm. I hear a volunteer: Tom, Cathy’s husband, has volunteered to do the quarter-round. Do I hear any other voices?

Gary has spent several days working on some of the major issues that we think should be fixed before someone else owns this house. There is the matter of the sump pump which drains out the side of the house and then across the front stoop. There’s the window where the only thing that separates us from the outside world is two thin sheets of clear plastic with rips in them. There’s a clog in the main drain that fills up after only one shower. Yep, the typical issues that an older house has - and I’ll bet that many newer houses have.

DininginLuxury-2-2013-03-20-11-39.jpgToday we awoke to the temperature above, shivered a bit as we got packed the car, and arrived in to Fort Dodge about 10:00, in time for the 1:00 appointment with the painter Cathy found who is making a bid on painting the inside walls, the 2:00 appointment with the plumbers who are going to ream out the main drain and the 4:00 appointment with the furnace man to repair a small drip. Meanwhile he’s multi-tasking by working on that window, that sump issue and some other problems.

Remember that this house is empty? Well, there are some cleaning supplies here and we’ve borrowed an air mattress from Cathy and Tom. Chairs? Nada. Tables? Nope. Silverware? Nary a piece. Cups and plates? If you count paper. Well, you get the picture. In fact here’s a picture of one of the rooms. And this is representative of all the other rooms. Yes, we have a refrigerator. Yes, we have heat. Yes, we have electricity. Gary keeps calling it camping out but my idea of camping out involves a well-equipped RV and palm trees. Not an empty house surrounded by snow. Here’s Gary sitting in the family room eating dinner. Right now he is sitting on two cushions from a sofa which we later gave to a local charity. When those left, we had to bring some cushions from home to sit on. 

FeastingonTVDinners-3-2013-03-20-11-39.jpgPreparing meals then becomes a problem. Not pots and pans, no utensiles, no microwave. There you have it. I do have an oven so this is the go-to tool. I need meals that can be cooked in an oven: casseroles, pizza, roasts (well, maybe not these.) Today we had pizza that I had made in West Des Moines in my very well-equipped kitchen. Tomorrow we’ll have a casserole, which, you guessed it, I had prepared at home right after the pizza. I also made sandwiches and a cold salad for lunches. We have some home-made muffins for treats and some other items should we just want to nibble a bit.

Here is a picture of what we will not be having. Lug left these two in his freezer and, since they are not too old, I thought we’d eat them: one for Big Gar and one for me. But, we didn’t eat them last time we were in FD and today I looked at them and decided that I just couldn’t eat them. The pictures are pretty, the foods are normal foods but the salt content, the fat content, the extras are not what I think I can eat. And, besides, we don’t have TV trays and no TV to watch as we eat. TV dinners while reading news on our I Pads just isn’t right.

Monday, March 18, 2013

WDM, IA - More Excitement Than I Can Handle

Today, my sweet honey bunch took me on a grand adventure across Des Moines - to the hazardous waste disposal facility. Jealous? I’ll be you are. When we married, he told me he’s show me adventure and he came through in spades today. Actually, he found lots of strange chemicals in Lug’s house when we cleaned it out: ant and mouse poison, turpentine, paint thinner, and the usual liquid in a jar with no label. He had about 3 boxes and had brought them back with him in Lug’s car the last time he returned to Des Moines from Fort Dodge.
But, if we’re going to be out, we might as well make it a day of it. And, no better way to start it than with a cup or two or three of coffee from Panera with a bear claw and some bagels. Next was a visit to Cathy who was going to call around to get a bid for painting the inside of Lug’s home. Gary had all the room measurements for her and she invited us over for a cup of coffee. She also had some mail for us. (We’re having a bit of trouble getting it switched back to our own address. We requested this online and got an e-mail saying they had gotten our request - 10 days ago. But no luck, it’s still being forwarded to her.)

VisitingOurChillyRV-4-2013-03-18-19-51.jpgNice chat with Cathy as we always have. Then it was off to the mall for our daily walk. What wuzzes we’ve turned into. We used to walk every day rain or shine or snow and now we walk in a mall. We used to walk around Grey’s Lake in Des Moines in the evening when it was 10 degrees with a wind chill. We had to look at the flags on the boat house to determine which direction we should start in. We were terribly bundled up: long underwear, down mittens, puffy down jackets, turtlenecks - of course, we looked just like the Michelin man. Some nights we were the only ones walking around the lake. I wonder why. Now, we walk in the mall.

We passed by a group of men having lunch together and they laughed and shouted encouragement. We then passed by a glum group of women who merely stared at us. You meet all kinds.

5 miles later and we were ready for the epitome of excitement - THE HAZARDOUS WASTE CENTER. Hoo - boy. The excitement never stops. Oops, we forgot out HAZMAT suits. Oh, no, now what? Never fear, the guys at the HAZMAT center have them. All we have to do is pull up by the door with the HAZMAT symbol on it and they will come out to unload it.

Pictures with Trashmen, pictures with HAZMAT men, I must really be starved for pictures for the blog. 

VisitingOurChillyRV-3-2013-03-18-19-51.jpgThen, to continue the excitement, we stopped at the RV to see how it was. We had left it so hurriedly back in early February - we haven’t even cleaned the inside or outside - and just wanted to check on it. This is really it’s first winter since it’s always been in the Southwest (though with a brand name like Winnebago, maybe it has been up north in the cold) and it’s probably wondering why it’s standing in snow and why icicles are hanging down from its rear view mirrors. I’m sure it’s wondering why it ever got sold to someone who would do leave it dirty, stuck in the mud with icicles hanging off it. When we drove into the storage lot, it was a wet and muddy day and we left some ferocious 5” deep tire marks in the driveway. At one point Gary thought he might get stuck.

When we rented this spot, the interior roads and sites were covered with white stone which has slowly disappeared over the years and now mud and dirt predominate. But, today - they are replacing the white stone and it fills in our ruts to a certain extent though those heavy dark muddy tire marks sure do tell the owner who made the ruts. Note how many of the RV’s are not in their assigned spots - lucky dogs - they’re still down in the sunshine.

Time to return home to catch our breath. Our windows look down on a small pond where we often have geese swimming around. One of the pleasures of living here in this home is watching them waddle around, spit at each other, build their nests, parade around showing off their new broods and just generally being geese. This year, which has been colder than usual, Mr. and Mrs. C. (Canadian) Goose have been sliding around our pond looking for a suitable patch of reeds for their nest. I think they might need to build an igloo rather than a nest at this rate. Today I watched several geese sitting on the ice on the pond with their heads tucked beneath their feathers trying to sleep. At the edge of the ice, a male goose was paddling through the water urging the female goose to step in. Sure enough, she slid into the water too. Silly goose. I’m sure not following Gary into cold, icy water.

Friday, March 15, 2013

FD, IA - What-sit?

Any time you empty out an older home, you’re bound to find some puzzles. And, here was one of ours. 

Tell me, what is this item? We found it in Lug’s garage.
Doesn’t every house need one of these? Actually, there is a story behind this. When Gary’s father and one of his brothers were working on their mother’s estate some disagreements developed and the two brothers ended up not speaking with each other, ever. Before all this happened, the other brother had lent Lug this item and it had never been returned. At the visitation, one of Gary’s cousins told Gary that the other brother would like to have this item back and so, while we were cleaning out the garage we kept out eye out for it. Sure enough, we found it in the back of one of the top cubbies. Lug probably stored it and had forgotten he had it.

We have now returned it to Gary’s cousin who will return it to the other brother.

Can’t guess? It’s a nut cracker - about 1’ square and made out of steel in an Oklahoma foundary. Probably for those people like my grandmother who liked black walnuts. My grandmother loved them and would collect them in the fall, hang them in old potato sacks from the rafters in her basement so the green skin would turn black and gunky. in the spring, we’d sit on a huge rock in her back yard and peel off this gunky black skin and crack them with a hammer. My grandmother should have known about this great nut cracker - she used a hammer. What a swing she had. Hard enough to crack the shell, but not so hard that the walnuts were sent flying. The touch of a master.

FD, IA - Bridging the Gap

DonationtoBridgingtheGap-17-2013-03-15-12-00.jpgI believe I mentioned that all of the furniture and household items that the family didn’t take from Lug’s home, were donated to a local charity called ‘Bridging the Gap.’ It’s a part of the United Way and was begun recently when some of the people at United Way recognized that there was a ‘gap’ in their services, that there was no group which provided household items and that children were eating on the floor, that they were sleeping on the floor and that they did not have the household items that make life easier. Their motto is ’Every child has a table to eat on and every child has a bed to sleep in.’

Jess, pictured to the right, is the director of the program. She had begun with United Way as an intern in the accounting department, thinking that she was not a ‘people person.’ However, someone at United Way recognized that she actually was a people person and asked her if she wanted to be in charge of the program. She said she’d try and the rest is history.

DonationtoBridgingtheGap-25-2013-03-15-12-00.jpgIn her position, she had to recruit volunteers, had to find donated warehouse space, had to get the word out and had to get a way to get the donations into the warehouse. She spoke to a realtors group and our realtor mentioned the program to us when we spoke with him. She was at the UPS office and, when the manager asked what they could do, she said that they needed trucks and men. Then she looked around and said, ‘I see a lot of men and trucks here.’ ‘Done’ said the UPS manager and you can see the UPS guys and the truck above.

She’s done a marvelous job with the program and knowing Lug’s drive to donate, we’re sure that he would approve of this donation of furniture and other household items to this very worthy local charity.

Monday, March 11, 2013

WDM, IA - Beards

But, we didn’t spend all of our time in Fort Dodge, we rotated between Fort Dodge and West Des Moines. We have our own house to take care of also. Meanwhile Gary’s busy calling and dealing with insurance companies, annuity companies, canceling Lug’s credit cards, all those fun things that go along with being an executor.

He also spent some time in the Fort Dodge Courthouse finding out that individuals cannot close estates, everyone must hire a lawyer. Hmm, guess who made that law?

TwoBeardedHandsomeDevils-2-2013-03-11-13-45.jpgAnd, by the way, if you’re paying attention to the pictures, you’ll notice that Gary is now sporting a new beard. When we turned our RV around and began to head back to Iowa in late February, he faced a decision: spend time shaving or use that time to drive some more. And, you can see what his decision was: forego the shaving. Here he is next to Tom, his brother-in-law who had had a beard for a while. Gary admits that he’s still trying to make up his mind about whether he will keep the beard or not.
Stay tuned and see Gary with the second permutation, a goatee rather than a full beard. Now, I’ll have to admit that I was not so happy with the beard. Firstly, his beard was so thick under his lower lip that I felt like I was kissing a toothbrush. Secondly, the beard hair was coming in grey and I thought he looked older. Kind of like Don Quixote. I 'd rather walk around with Brad Pitt.

Here’s his formal picture: at least in this picture, he looks more like Wolf Blitzer than Don Quixote.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

FD, IA - Emptying the House

Today it is Dawn’s turn to take the furniture that she wants from the house. Her husband, Tom, and son, Adam, arrived in a U-Haul about 9:00 and they began the heavy lifting. Their daughter, Samantha, is graduating from college this spring and here is the perfect opportunity to get her some furniture to start her own apartment or home. They took some nice lounge chairs, a dining room table and chairs, a desk unit with several cabinets, a queen-sized bed and dresser, a love seat and other pieces. They also were taking the Grandfather clock and the corner hutch, both of which were Darlene and Lug’s prize furniture possessions. But, imagine packing both of these items with all the moving parts and the glass into a 17’ U-Haul. Luckily Dawn had brought a car load of moving pads.

They worked all morning and were finally loaded, filling the 17’ U-Haul to the very end and they were off.

DonatetoBridging-2-2013-03-9-22-19.jpgMeanwhile Gary worked around the house, putting the wall in the garage back into place, putting in a new furnace filter, checking windows for needed paint, and lots of other things that will need to be done before we declare this home ready for sale. The house may be empty but there is still lots to do.

I cleaned up after all the activity of the past two days, washed a load of rugs and put some of the items we are donating to a local group out onto the breezeway so they could pick them up more easily.

This local group is called Bridging the Gap, part of the United Way, which provides beds, desks, tables, small appliances and many other household items to families in town. Their goal is that no chile should go to bed hungary, no child should have to sleep on the floor and all children should have a table to eat on. Obviously, we have lots of these items and Cathy called this group to donate, setting a time and day when she would be up in Fort Dodge for them to come. Here is just a small pile of the things that we have to donate. Lug, who spent a good part of his final years making donations to many groups and individuals would love that many of his possessions were to go to this group. Here’s a small pile of some of the items we’ve pulled aside for them. We also have a kitchen table with 4 chairs, a desk unit, a mattress and box springs, a microwave and some other things. Great group to give them to.
Time to go home.

Friday, March 8, 2013

FD, IA - Dumpster # 2

If there's a 'Dumpster # 1' there's got to be a 'Dumpster # 2.' And here it is. The second chapter. More excitement in our lives that we can stand. 

EmptyingtheGarage-1-2013-03-8-21-39.jpgMorning came pretty fast for these weary bodies. We ate breakfast out, returned to the house and began in again on the second dumpster. With the 4 of us, it was going pretty fast. Because Gary and I had spent 3 days earlier pulling everything out of the cubbies and rafters, had already separated it into 'trash' and 'keepable' and had piled it along the garage wall, the actual loading of all the garage trash into the dumpster was pretty straight forward and went fast. Pick up a pile, walk into the dumpster and pile it - neatly. Remember, to pile it neatly.

Here’s Cathy with a small 6-wheeled cart that she used to get lots of the heavier things to the dumpster from the back of the garage. That might look like a light load but it is all heavy metal - the rebar and heavy piping that Lug saved so assiduously. Not only was all this metal heavy but some of the pieces had sharp edges. Note the heavy gloves she’s wearing to protect her hands. Strange, she’s smiling as if she were having a great time.

CarpetPadturnstoPowder-1-2013-03-8-21-39.jpgWe got the garage emptied about noon and then Tom, Cathy’s husband, arrived and we began on the carpet in the house. We knew we had to pull the carpeting since it was looking very used and very dirty. But we all knew that there was a beautiful hardwood floor (oak) under all that awful looking carpet. Popular in homes these days and a definite plus for selling the house.

RemovingLOTSofNailsforWallDecorations-1-2013-03-8-21-39.jpgBack in 2001, Gary and I had asked if Lug and Darlene would like to pull the carpet in their bedroom to get back to the original oak floor. Darlene was all for it but Lug was only ‘convinced’ when Gary, Darlene and I began to pull it up and there was no going back. What a beautiful room it was with the oak floor and we all knew that the rest of the house would look like that if we pulled the rest of the carpet. Gary began last night (he just can’t relax when there’s work to be done) about 8:00 and pulled all of the hallway carpet. With the carpet removed, the pad underneath was revealed and it was obvious that it was old, crumbling and had broken down long ago. Here’s a picture of what we found under it: remains of the carpet backing, the pad and probably lots of dirt. But hints of the beautiful oak flooring beneath.

With 5 of us working, we thought that if we worked really fast, we could also get the padding, carpet and all the tacking strips into the dumpster and save a later trip to the landfill with just a pick-up full of these things. While Dawn,Tom and Gary pulled up the carpet, Cathy and I went around pulling the padding and then the staples holding the padding down. They were throughout the floors and, using a wrench we could get them pulled. My hands still have blisters from this - did I wear gloves? Nope - and I don’t need any comments.

When the carpet, the padding, and the staples were all removed, Dawn and Tom started in on the tacking strips around the edges. And, by the way, isn’t that beautiful oak flooring? Dawn also worked on pulling the nails out of the walls which held lots of pictures. Look at that form.

And, finally, Dawn, Tom and Cathy pulled the carpet and padding from under the Grandfather clock and a large corner wood and glass hutch. Very carefully and vey slowly.

StartingtoCleanUptheBackyard-4-2013-03-8-21-39.jpgGary and I were working outside on a garden plot that Lug had for many years. Since he hadn’t grown anything for about 10 years now, it was beginning to look a bit seedy (pun intended) since the outside fencing was falling down, several trellises inside were leaning a bit and a large home-made wooden composter looked like a small oout-of-place elephant. We thought that if we took these three things out, the garden itself might not look too bad. But, Lug had NAILED it all together with LONG nails. He was thorough. It took a bit of time to pull out all the nails and take the pieces of fencing apart. But we had a deadline and we were determined to make it. Here’s Gary pulling the final side off of the composter.

Finally, the dumpster was as full as could be and we had the carpet, the padding and all of the garden fencing parts in. Whew.

CelebratingFullDumpster2-3-2013-03-8-21-39.jpgTrevor with Pederson’s came at 4:00, right on schedule. We 5, thoroughly exhausted, asked him if he would take a picture of us in front of the dumpster. He laughed - this is the first time he’s had that request. Then we all wanted a picture with him. He laughed and said that no one had ever wanted a picture with the trash man since people thought trash men smelled.

We all laughed, Trevor hooked the dumpster up to the truck, pulled it on and took off. I’m sure that he’s told the rest of the crowd at Pederson's and they’ve all had a good laugh. That story of the 5 crazy people wanting pictures of a dumpster will last for a while.

Gary called Pederson’s the next day and thanked them for all their service: they were always on time, they had pleasant drivers and they did what we wanted them to do. No wonder their dumpsters are all over Fort Dodge: with the good service that we got, they have cornered the business.

We had a plan and it worked: 2 20’ dumpsters in 2 days. Yeah!!!

TrevirHaulsAwayDumpster2-4-2013-03-8-21-39.jpgOf course, I can hardly move. I can sit and I can stand but the transitions are tough. I don’t know about the others but I can certainly feel that I have done more than I usually do.

Tom and Cathy then loaded up their cars with the furniture and knick knacks that they were taking home, we all went for dinner and they were off.

Oh, yeah, in all the hustle and bustle, Gary broke a corner off of one of his front teeth. Looks like we’re going to keep the dentist in business this spring.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

FD, IA - Dumpster # 1

Dumpster1Arrives-4-2013-03-7-21-39.jpgThe dumpster company in Fort Dodge is a company called Pederson’s and what marvelous service we got from them. Gary ordered a dumpster to be delivered on Wednesday afternoon so that we could fill it on Thursday, get it emptied and delivered back to us for filling and emptying on Friday afternoon.

Wednesday, Gary drove up early in the morning for a 10:00 mtg with the lawyer while I stayed around WDM for my dental appointment where I was going to get ‘crowned.’ Yep, I finally got the new crown that covered the tooth that I had broken about 2 weeks ago. Since they had put a temporary crown on it, there was no pain or discomfort and I could eat without trouble. Luckily, to put a crown in, they drilled on the crown but not in my mouth. Whew.

When I got it put in place I headed on up to Fort Dodge also. And, here’s what I saw when I got there. Wow, is that what a 20’ x 7’ by 4’ dumpster looks like? I never knew.

Dumpster1AwaitsUs-6-2013-03-7-21-39.jpgLuckily this dumpster had a huge swinging door on it so that Gary could go inside and ‘pack’ all of trash. Hey, look, there’s left-over trash in the dumpster already.

On Thursday, Gary and I had breakfast and then began to put some things into the dumpster. Cathy then arrived and joined in the fun.

Because we had no idea about how many dumpsters we could fill with all the trash we had, Gary packed all of the trash very neatly. In fact he packed it so neatly that we could have tied a pretty pink bow on and given it as a birthday present to the landfill. No, Actually, he packed it neatly so that we could get so much more in. He began by lining the doors, screens, windows etc, all the big flat things up against the sides and rear so that we could pack all the irregular things inside these. Here you can see how neatly he’s packing it. Cathy and I are taking a break while he neatens it all up. What a beautiful day it was. A bit nippy but we were working fast and I'll forgive any nippiness when the sun is shining as brightly as it was.
Then it was back to work. We first emptied the basement. Here’s Cathy carrying up one of 'treasures.' She and I would carry each item up the stairs, through the back door and to the garage. Here, Gary had taken out a piece of the wall that Lug had designed to be removed for easy entry into the house from the garage if you had furniture or whatever. Clever man that Lug. Here, we left it on the ledge there and Gary picked it up and placed it into the dumpster. We had quite a system going.

We did this until the basement was empty.

And our prize for emptying the basement was to start in on a smaller pile we had in a back entry room.

Then - the garage. by 3:00 we had the first dumpster full and ready to be picked up. It was obviously going pretty fast with us 3 working on it. Getting it all out of the cubbies and into a large pile earlier saved us lots of time today.

LoadingUpDumpster1-9-2013-03-7-21-39.jpgAnd Pederson’s was there right on time to pick it up, take it to the landfill and return it for another filling. Now, I had never seen a dumpster, which is also called a ‘roll off’ being loaded onto a truck nor had I ever seen one being delivered. Obviously, I’ve led a sheltered and deprived life. But, today I got a two-fer: a pick-up and a delivery. Wowsa, wowsa - my lucky day.

Meanwhile Dawn had arrived to help. The 4 of us worked on this one until it was time for dinner. I had made a soup that was simmering on the stove and we had the soup and some cheese and crackers along with some sourdough bread that Cathy had brought from Panera in Des Moines.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

FD, IA - The Garage

I find it hard to believe that 6 weeks ago we were in southern California, basking in sunshine, without a care in the world, wondering which mountain to hike. Now, we’re in Fort Dodge, IA and Gary’s father’s home has been emptied and it’s almost ready for a really deep cleaning so that we can sell it. What a long journey it’s been and I’m not just talking about the distance our RV travelled to get here. I haven’t had much time to write in my blog since we’ve been so busy but I thought I’d take some time now to summarize what we’ve done and there’s nothing better to demonstrate it all that some pictures: the before and the after. Though, I’ll have to admit, that I’ve been so wrapped up in the process that I’ve forgotten to take many before pictures and it’s almost too late to take the individual after shots.

Revealing_Sorting_Donating_Trashing-7-2013-03-3-20-28.jpgLug, Gary’s father, was a child of the Depression and, to put it mildly, he kept everything - and then built the cubbies to hold it all. I showed some of the cubbies in the basement but those cubbies were matched by those in the garage: equally everywhere, equally ingenious and equally full.

Here’s a section of the upper level of cubbies in the garage. We’ve begun to empty them but you can see how full they still are. Notice the garage door near the top of the picture so you can see how high these particular cubbies were. All had doors so no one could really comprehend how much Lug had stuffed into his house. And, by the way, he had what is called a ‘tunnel’ garage: it could hold 2 1/2 cars in a line rather than side by side. These cubbies are in the deepest section. And, another ‘by the way’, the rafters were laden with 2x4’s and 2x6’s and gutters and miscellaneous long things so we had to empty those too. Note how Gary is dressed: it’s only 30 degrees out and the garage is cold. I had on a heavy coat, gloves and a hat too. Where are those California palm trees?

Here’s a drawer in the garage which was one of about 8 drawers below the workbench.
Revealing_Sorting_Donating_Trashing-10-2013-03-3-20-28.jpgNote the axe handle completely duct taped up. He loved duct tape and used it whenever something looked like it might be broken and need to be tossed. But, nope, certainly wouldn’t want to toss anything - it might come in handy someday. Gary and I emptied the cubbies and the closets and the cupboards and the drawers in the house and put it all out for Dawn and Cathy to go through to see what could be donated, what they and their families wanted and what could be tossed. And, believe you me, lots went straight to the ‘toss’ piles. And, did we ever have ‘toss’ piles.

In the garage, Gary put up an old door as a barrier against the garage door so what we were tossing wouldn’t keep the garage door from opening and block entry.
And, then we started to toss. I would fill a wheel barrow with what ever I had found and roll it to the far end of the garage and pile it next to the doors as you can see above.

TrashPileGrowsintheGarage-6-2013-03-3-20-28.jpgNot much there right now but we continued for 2 days and this is what we got in the end. In the last picture I’m looking from the far end of the garage towards the front door. He had rebar out the ying yang and enough small pieces of wood to build a shed to hold it all. But, once it was all out on the floor of the garage, it was quite easy to see how much there was and then to decide how big a dumpster to order to put it all into.

TrashTreasuresinGarage-8-2013-03-3-20-28.jpgEvery now and then Gary and I would toodle inside to get warm but we got the main job done: un-cubby everything that Lug had in his garage, pile it into sections to make it lots easier to figure out how large a dumpster to order and then, in the end, lots easier and quicker to get it into the dumpster.

In the meantime I made several more trips to the recycling area with loads of cardboard from boxes we had broken down and lots of glass jars and tin cans. Lug had saved every screw, nail and bolt that he had ever touched in tin cans and jars. When we emptied these out, we had the jars and tin cans for recycling. By this time, the car could find the recycling place all by itself.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

FD, IA - The Basement

When we got the upstairs closets, cupboards, cabinets and under the bed areas all emptied out and while Dawn and Cathy were separating them Gary and I then tackled the basement.

Gary and I spent 2 days one week working on the basement and emptying out the cupboards and cubbies down there. We were able to separate most of it into 2 piles: one of items to toss and a second for Dawn and Cathy to go through to decide what they wanted to keep and what we could donate. Slowly but surely the toss pile built up until it filled one corner of the basement.

And, we kept filling that corner. (Actually, we took that chair out and are donating it to a local group.
Of course, we’re well aware that we’ve got to empty that corner also but first we’ve got to put it all into a pile so that we can see how much there is to determine how large a dumpster we need to order. And, no that record player does not work, nor does that vacuum cleaner.

Revealing_Sorting_Donating_Trashing-30-2013-03-2-21-28.jpgLug had an office in the basement and here’s a partial shot showing some off the floor to ceiling cubbies that lined 3 of the 4 walls. Very ingeniously, he put sliding doors on each one so they wouldn’t take too much space when opened. We’ve taken the doors off the left hand side so that we could empty these cubbies and you can see the walls in back. The doors are still on the ones from the center to the right but all of these spaces were cram jammed full.
MilanBuiltLotsofStorageCubbies-2-2013-03-2-21-28.jpgBut, it wasn’t just the office here that was full. The 15’ counter and the black bookcase that Gary deconstructed several days ago was also full of things and there were several built-in cabinets that Lug had made that were also full. Now, these cabinets had painting supplies like turpentine and old paint along with ant poison and lot of other noxious chemicals in them. Gary called the Fort Dodge landfill and found out that they have no provision for the dumping of chemicals and recommended that we take them to Bondurant, closer to Des Moines. OK. There were lots of others in the garage and we will probably fill the back end of Lug’s Vibe with the back seat down.

But, it’s not all work, we also went out to breakfast in a local FD restaurant. Because we don’t live there, we aren’t well acquainted with some of them so we’re trying them all out. Here we are in Jamar’s, a local mom and pop. I’m thinking it was started by a couple named James and Mary and is now operated by their children. But, I’m not sure of that but I do know that they’s been around for ages. I remember eating dinner there with Gary’s parents on Tuesdays which was fried chicken night. My, did Gary’s parents love their fried chicken. It’s a pleasant, bright, clean home-town diner. Just the kind of place we like to eat.

BreakfastBunchatJamar%252527sRestaurant-1-2013-03-2-21-28.jpgThe place has lots of windows so the light can come streaming in and it has lots of little homey touches which now center on Easter with lots of bunnies and Easter baskets. Lots of locals frequent the place and they are very friendly. We got into a conversation with 2 women who sat at a table near us. One of them graduated in 1965, a year after us and certainly she remembered Gary who was the Student Body President and who started all the assemblies with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Remember my new BFF from the recycling bins several weeks ago whom we also met several days later in an elevator? Sure enough, he’s the guy in the red shirt off to the left here. Gary thinks we’ve got a thing going.