Archive forJuly, 2009

Siding our House

to be covered up
A couple of weeks ago (just before we went to Evart), John ordered nearly $6,000 worth of siding to replace the exterior of our house. We’ve lived here for 23 years and the siding has always presented problems. It was what’s called T111 siding. It is basically plywood and looks like vertical siding. It may have been ok back in the late 1980’s when we built the house, but it’s required plugs (where the siding had knots), and painting/staining. Another real problem has been that woodpeckers love the bugs that hide out in the channels under the main layer. Therefore we have little holes in rows going horizonally across our house. It’s almost like a row of machine gun shots. John’s filled them, but that results in an unappealing stripe. Also the paint on the siding has faded creating dark panels. You can see the discoloration in my photo above.

This early summer, John converted a small covered porch behind our garage to a storage area. At that time, we needed to match the siding on the addition to make it look like it really fit the house. But putting more of the T111 siding just didn’t sit well with us. We hated it. Not only that, but T111 siding wasn’t availabile any longer.

the siding project
So we decided to go with vinyl 9″ shakes (in natural clay). Now our small project has become a project that involves the whole house.

It’s a big investment but we think it’ll add value to our house. We’ve already replaced the roof with roofing shingles which should last through our lifetime and once we finish this, we plan to revamp the kitchen completely and add hardwood floors in great room, dining room, kitchen and half bath. We may even re-do the master bath and enlarge our closet. When all projects are complete, we want our house to be what we want. (Besides life is best when you have things you’re “looking forward to.”)

So today we started installing the siding.

When John said he needed help, I went to assist him and we worked together. The temperature of the siding was 130 degrees, so you can tell how hot it was where we were working, but we stuck with it until we got through the first half of a square (half of 10 x 10 foot).

It really looks nice! I’m so glad we went with what we really wanted and didn’t compromise.

By adding new vinyl siding, the house will be maintenance-free. (A huge selling-point, if we ever decide to put our place on the market.)

I’ll be happy if it’s complete by next year at this time. As I said, we have other jobs waiting in the wings. I will show before and after photos here when we get more finished.

We want to re-do our chimney too. (It is now a wooden “chase” which means it’s boxed in with T111.) Our plan is to use synthetic stone to match the real field stone that we used on the front of the house. That should be a nice touch. At least we’re trying to make improvements.

Note: For many of you who follow this blog, you probably wonder why I’m showing our “siding project.” It’s not especially exciting, but this blog is a way I show stuff to my daughter (Kelly) who lives in Florida. So the blog includes the fun stuff, and the dull. It’s all part of our life.

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Paper Trail

Today I spent much of the day on line writing reports, emails and letters. It seems that I can’t catch up.

When I pass on, they’re going to find that the whole world can re-grow forests because I won’t there to use up paper. (Of course today most of my correspondece was digital.)

John is planning to re-side our house. He’d been advised by the local Menard’s home improvement store but they advised him incorrectly and he special ordered a lot of stuff that he has now found won’t work. It’ll take another week and a half to get the correct starter strips. So he re-ordered and I help with on-line searches. Stuff like that always takes lots longer than one would think. Seems we were tied up most of the afternoon.

I also completed my financial report for the ODPC funfest, wrote my workshop leader article for the newsletter, and resolved our financial/banking reports. It was a busy day, but there’s little to show for it.

Jim, my “new” sweet brother (read “Family Matters” to the right at the top of this blog) contacted me to tell me that he’s now a grandfather of William John (who will be called Will). He was so excited and I was so glad to hear from him!

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John’s health

I’m worried about my sweet husband John’s health. He hasn’t felt well for several months. He’s been to the doctor numerous times and had a CT scan of his chest and an echo cardiogram Thursday. So far no answers. I’m scared for him. He has no stamina. It’s not a normal condition for him. He’s lost a lot of weight and he feels yucky. He has a cough. It’s obvious that he has some kind of respiratory/pulmonary problem.

My fear is that it’s asbestos related because he was exposed to asbestos for the first five or so years of his working life.

I’m scared. I have looked up pulmonary problems on-line and many are very serious. I know he is concerned.

But we’re continuing to try to find answers and we won’t give up until he’s well.

We have so many chores on our platter: performances, camping weekend, house projects, yard work. Because of severe allergies I am very limited in what I can do to lighten his load outside but I’m darned good protecting him.

I just hope they determine what’s wrong with him so we can get him on a treatment plan so he’ll soon be back to his active self.

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Bullet Story Over-Shadows Our Festival

Cadillac News Bullet Story (link)

The story about the stray bullets hitting the fairgrounds where we were holding the 37th Annual ODPC Funfest (aka Evart Dulcimer Festival) has been more talked about than the wonderful time which was had by all.

The festival was grand. We had 564 campers, about 5,000 attendees, 203 workshops, fun that was not able to be measured but exceeded our expectations.

We’ve re-hashed the tale of those three stray bullets every which way. We’ll all be surprised if there wasn’t even more damage done. Folks may not realize they have a hole in their trailer or vehicle roof for some time.

John and I are still tired today. It takes longer and longer to recover.

I just spend about 45 minutes on the phone with the IRS. I’m still trying to get the refund from my deceased mother’s 2008 taxes. I need to get it straightened out so I can close out her accounts. It all needs to be done before the end of August since that’s when her fiscal year ends. (Her refund check was cut and sent in May, but it went into someone else’s account (because Mom’s accountant put the wrong account number on the return for direct deposit). We’re now trying to get the IRS to get it back and cut the check for Mom’s account.) I’ve spent dozens of hours trying to get this problem straightened out. At least we know where the money is.

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Home and TIRED!

We’re back home. We were at the festival for about ten days.

The weather didn’t cooperate. It was a tad rainy, and felt more like November than July. We froze while watching stage shows, and didn’t play much. Part of the reason we didn’t play was because John wasn’t feeling well, and I was glad to just spend time with him listening, or even turning in early.

We had huge crowds! Everything purred and we couldn’t have been more satisfied.

But yesterday it was really scary. There was a target range about two miles from the fairgrounds. Apparently the owner obtained a permit to shoot off some large caliber ‘munitions. We were annoyed by the noise rom before noon through the afternoon.

About 3:15 one of the ladies came running up to me. A bullet had gone through a trailer and had taken out the window. The damage was only a window and a hole in the ceiling, but it could have been so much worse.

As it turned out a truck was also damaged with a bullet hole, and a bullet was found after it had hit the ground.

The president of the ODPC, the fairground administration, and law officials are involved. Hopefully they’ll make sure nothing similar ever happens.

But the rest of the festival was a grand event. We had all positive comments. Everyone was really satisfied.

I’ll be posting photos, but for now you can check out those I’ve posted at

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We’re Here in “Hammer Heaven”

We’re here at the world’s largest gathering of hammered dulcimers. Right now the festival is still four days away so lots of folks have yet to arrive.

Hammered Dulcimer
It’s held at a the Osceola County Fairgrounds in the north central part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. About 8,000 people show up for this event which is truly unique. Hammered dulcimers “rule”.

I just found out that the National Taiwanese Yangchin champion. (The Yangchin is the Far East version of our hammered dulcimer.) She is coming to Evart to learn the hammered dulcimer. She’ll also be on stage Friday night to perform for us.

The festival costs $3 and is a three and a half day experience. Admission includes attendance any (or all) of the 205 workshops, the stage shows (which are plentiful), and access to everything going on on the grounds.

Right now I’m listening to two lovely harps play a duet (Chuck Boody and Martha Kuch).

Next door there are five or six hammered dulcimers, and just a few trailers the other direction from us, a lively “fast” jam featuring the Kaiser Family and Jim Rathbun are playing spirited fiddle tunes.

This morning John invited everyone over for a waffle breakfast. Others brought eggs, sausage, juice, fresh pineapple, orange juice and of course lots of coffee. We had about 35 folks attend. It was a pleasant way to start the day.

Today it’s a tad cool (about 68) and very windy. We’re not complaining. Too many years it’s been nearly 100 without a breath of air. We’ve attended for about 18 years (I’ll have to look up the exact date). I do know this is my 14th year to be in charge of workshops.

It’s a time to be with friends. We all go away with an “over-load” of dulcimer music, vowing to improve our own playing skills.

I’ll write more later this week. We’ll be here until next Sunday (a week from today).

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Tomorrow we “move” to Evart

Our 5th wheel
The trailer’s almost ready to go. It’s after 9:00 p.m., we’ve been at it all day. What a chore. It’s like moving. We bring everything: chairs galore for the workshop leader area, munchies and food, clothes for any weather, lots of office supplies, sewing and first aid emergency kits, books, software, musical instruments. The list goes on and on.

I hate the packing process, but once we’re in our fifth wheel, it’s really comfy. For a trailer, it’s nice. It’s definitely not new a new one, but very attractive and roomy. We’ll live in it for the next ten days.

We always forget something. One year it was the extra toner cartridge. One year it was a tent we’d promised to loan to friends. Those times we had to drive back home (it’s about 85 miles one way) to get the forgotten items. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen this time but we’ve given up hope that we will remember everything. Even with my huge list.

We’ll camp two more times this summer (at Carriage Days in Gladwin, MI, and at the Midland Dulcimer Festival, Midland, MI.) Those times it’ll be easier. We will leave everything possible in the trailer from now until we pack for Florida in September (and even then, much of the stuff will stay in the trailer over the winter). Today was tough and I’m tired. Tomorrow, when we’ve arrived and we have our campsite organized, it’ll all be worth it.

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Brakes Broke

We were originally planning to go to Evart today, but instead we decided to leave early Friday.

This morning we took our 2004 GMC truck to pick up all of the boxes of programs and the rented copy machine. Of course that’s the truck which we use to pull our fifth wheel.

John noticed the brakes on the truck were acting weird. An alarm started sounding and a warning light came on. A quick check of the owner’s manual had a warning that this was SERIOUS. John stopped at Meijers and checked the brake fluid level. It was low so he bought a quart of fluid and filled up the reservoir. The warning light went out, everything seemed fine and we continued on our shopping.

But after we’d spent some time in a store, we came out to find a puddle of brake fluid under the truck. The warning light came on again. John put more in the reservoir and we headed to a garage to have the brake lines replaced. Our vehicle won’t be ready until tomorrow.

If we had been heading to the festival, we would have had our problem in a remote area on our way to Evart and there wouldn’t have been a convenient, familiar garage to do the repair. Thank heavens we were always safe.

We have the workshop programs. They look great. Next year, my goal is to do a revamp of the front cover, but this year, with all of the changes, we wanted to keep things the same.

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Fun 4th

Last year, we had another couple stop over for the 4th of July celebration, but tonight will be very cool, so we decided it’s best that it’s just the two of us.

We’ll bar-be-que a lovely steak dinner on the deck with baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and lots of wine. Then we’ll enjoy fireworks.

We spent the day on the deck, taking in the pleasant weather and relaxing.

deck facing east

deck facing west

our lake on 4th of July

Our Michigan home is on “Lake Cecil” in Thomas Township (about 12 miles from Saginaw, 7 miles from St. Charles, 3 miles from Swan Creek, 7 miles from Hemlock). To make it simple, we’re out in the country west of the “Thumb Area” in Michigan. The man-made lake was named for Cecil Sepanski who dug and developed the subdivision around this 23-acre lake/pond. It’s 20 feet deep at it’s deepest, with two small islands. No power boats are permitted so it’s lovely and quiet. The subdivision is called “Dude Estates” after his son, Dude.

This afternoon we watched workers plant launchers in the island right in front of our property so they can shoot-off fireworks tonight.

Florida is lovely, but this time of the year, I prefer our home here where the temperature was only 73 today and a nice breeze kept things very comfortable.

Here’s a photo from 2009’s fireworks display on Lake Cecil.


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Departure Date Changed

Looks like we’ll wait until the 10th to head to the festival grounds. We’ll leave next Friday early in the day.


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Another Toe Tale

I seem to be prone to breaking my little toe(s). It’s been a couple of years since I did it, but two winters ago, I broke them twice within a month. I ran into the base of a ladder, the first of the two times. Actually I dislocated (or broke it) it to the point that the toe was a right-angles to the one next to it.

This time it may just be bruised. It’s sore and I’m limping around but it’s not as bad as it’s been when I hurt it before.

Two years ago, my friend Dr. Doug confirmed that it was undoubtedly broken. It took a couple months to heal. At his suggestion, I wore sandals most of the time after it happened. At least it’s summer this time. Sandals work.

Today I was walking from the kitchen to the dining room, trying to avoid Willow, our small dog, who moved suddenly. I caught the corner of the doorway with my left little toe. Ouch!!

A glass or two of wine will help sooth away my pain — guaranteed.

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