Thursday, January 31, 2013

Familiar Tunes and Chimney Liners

I've been enjoying the presents I received from family this Christmas.  I've been wearing the sweater my sister gave me and the scarf my mom made me (OK, she gave it to me ummm two or three Christmases ago, but I just rediscovered it -- living out of bags and boxes for three years results in gifts being packed back to keep them "safe" in the construction zone.)  I'm looking forward to using the gifts of pictures and wall decor in the old farmhouse, once we actually are ready to start that phase. I'm looking forward to hanging the calendar my niece made me, once I am really moved in. I've been making and savoring yogurt using the yogurt maker from my daughter. And the various gifts of lovely smelling soaps and lotions help keep my skin from driving me crazy in the cold weather.

As in years past, the best gifts I received this year, were the gifts of spending time with family.  It gets harder as everyone gets older and our children marry and have children of their own. Jobs and loves take them to different parts of the country and so, getting together is always a real treat, if even for only a few hours.

My brother Tim was able to stay the night at our place on his way up from Florida to visit with the rest of the family in Maryland and Pennsylvania.  He arrived around 10PM and we talked and visited until 3AM, before we left him to get some sleep in the new guestroom in the old farmhouse. 

While we visited, he presented me with his present to me.  It was a USB flash drive onto which he had transferred many of the records...the vinyl kind....the ones with which we grew up.  It seems that last year, when he was visiting Dad and Lynne last year, he'd returned to Florida armed with the majority of their record collection, and spent the year transferring those vinyl classics to digital format.  Then, for all of his siblings, he made copies of those familiar tunes...scratches, skips, the whole nine yards.  A most amazing gift!

About two weeks ago we FINALLY got high speed Internet.  Seriously....out here in the sticks we actually got real, honest to goodness cable Internet service.  And yes, we signed up as soon as we could, having salivated for months as we watched the crews installing the infrastructure to support the service.

As soon as the new Internet service was installed, I moved into my "winter office" as I am calling it.  Never mind that it is the closet of the new master bedroom in the old farmhouse.  It has electricity, great access to the tea pot (in the mini kitchenette we included in our redesign) and access to the new "restroom."  Who could ask for more?   So while we may not yet be living in the results of our last three years of labor, at least I am working there.  My commute has changed from ten feet to about one hundred feet per day.  I think that's OK.

The other day, while I was working in my winter office, I decided to pop in the USB flash drive and sample some of the songs from those childhood days.  The Brother Four, The Kingston Trio, Burl Ives and others reminded me of hours and hours spent in the living room of our Bowie, Maryland home, working on my stamp albums, or playing Monopoly or Go Fish with my brothers and sister.  I was flooded with memories of singing those same songs as we made our annual trek from Maryland to New Bedford, Massachusetts for our family vacation at our beloved "Pond House," six kids, sometimes a dog, and a monkey, and two parents....well, Mom really didn't sing, but the rest of us did.

And as I sat in my office and sang along to the songs, the words of which I thought I'd long forgotten, I marveled at how much my children and the generations thereafter will have missed, never having to endure the record skips, the scratchy "texture" of the music, and trying to learn the words, as one sibling raised and lowered the needle to the vinyl as another scribed the words, and the rest of the gang argued about what the singer was REALLY singing.  Yes, we learned a lot of lyrics that way.... and to this day, and am still amazed when I discover that the words were really, "The Boys of Summer" and not "The Poison Summer" (actually, that was NOT my misunderstanding, but Joe's, however it serves the purpose of demonstration) and other such carefully "scribed" errors.  No, now the lyrics are readily available for all of the songs, and though the singers' diction has not improved over the years, the quality of the recording far surpasses those old 45's and LP's of yesteryear.

Between the fun with family, work and enjoying the Christmas presents, Joe and I have made a little more headway on the old farm house.  We redid the upstairs shower/tub fixture installation, as the fixture was broken before the original installation.... the shower fixture folks sent all new parts, BUT, we had to do the repair.

Joe finished up the kitchenette and the master bathroom linen closet.

We replaced damaged mirror doors in the downstairs bathroom closet, and recycled the damaged doors, using them as full mirrors in the master bathroom.

The day before yesterday we installed new chimney liner, which was a big deal.

I think we still only need to put gutters on the new addition before we can call it a wrap...well, except we are STILL in the process of sanding, patching, painting, trim, installing shelves in closets, etc., etc., etc.  is it ever really complete?