Tuesday, February 26, 2019

How to get fuel up the icy driveway



We are setting up a retirement home in the back woods of Wisconsin.  There is baseboard heating, a propane furnace and an insert in the fireplace that will heat the house.

My handsome distance runner checked the fuel tank on the other side of the house the first weekend of February.  He determined more was needed and I contacted Hot Flame for a delivery.  

In the next two weeks of freeze - thaw - snow- wind - drifting and deep freeze the truck was not able to drive up the steep driveway because it was too icy.  They called me on a Thursday explaining why my fuel tank could go dry, causing all kinds of other problems.  


The original plan was to have a girl friend's weekend away from everything.  Instead...

A few phone calls on Thursday, and the situation was understood.  
1- Marinette County has a free-to-all sand pile that was gone.  There was a need beyond anticipated (because of the thaw, freeze, snow) for the sand and it had been used up.  More was anticipated the following week.
2- Once the sand was available, Bob would re-plow the driveway to remove the drifts and spread sand.  I'll repeat, the sand was to be delivered in 5 - 7 days... if they could get through the next snow storm.
3- Then his wife (Phyllis) would call the fuel company to let them know the driveway was passable and they could make the delivery.
4- Ever hopeful the girls weekend was not shot, I called my cousin Barb.  She lives in the next town to the north.  I asked her if it was possible to get my car safely up and down the driveway.  


What happened was.
1- Barb called her friend Phyllis to check out what could be done.
2- Bob went to the county yard to scrape the last grains of sand available and plowed the driveway, leaving the sand behind.
3- Phyllis called Hot Flame.
4- Barb called me to let me know the driveway was plowed and sanded.
5- I called Hot Flame and was told the delivery was to be added to the list.
6- It must have been a short list, or the dispatcher is another friend of my cousin Barb.  The truck got up the driveway and the delivery person dragged the hose to the tank on the other side of the ranch style house.  (The path had drifted over to a point of 2 foot deep since handsome distance runner shoveled it on February 3.)  Fuel was delivered.  The tank did not go dry.  All is right with our world.  And the villagers rejoiced!!  This is because a whole list of remarkable people went the extra mile.



Handsome distance runner decided to investigate the house and would make the 3 hour drive after work on Friday.  The photos below are how he found the property.  How he left it was with the path to the fuel tank re-shoveled, and both the garage and house roofs shoveled.  Yes, that is a 5 foot snow bank between the driveway and the garage.

Think this through...soon to retire man, alone, up on a roof with a shovel in a situation that could have him sliding off and landing in a drift with no one around to see or know until the thaw in April.  Of course, that excited him even more.  






 Photo of house from the garage below:
 Photo of driveway from the road below:



In our conversations since, he has expressed a desire to have a Komodo (?) to remove snow when we both retire.

The End.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How I made a floor cloth

June 2, 2018: I love the look of the hickory hardwood floor but, it will need some protection in the high traffic areas.  The most high traffic area of the house is the dining room looking out the patio doors at the live entertainment provided by the local wild life.  To provide that protection I decided on a painted canvas floor cloth.

I purchased the canvas from Wholesale Arts and Frames 6839 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91602   818 255-1400.  info@wholesaleartsframes.com   It is a presized cotton canvas normally used for stage screens.  I needed the 96" width to cover the space needed to protect the floor from scraping chairs.  Sail canvas only came 60" wide.  There was 6 yards on the roll in the photograph.  It looks like I may have an opportunity to do more than one floor cloth.  I will let you know latter if there will be one floor cloth for each season.
The width and length of the floor cloth was eyeballed and the roll was used as a straight edge to pencil mark the cut. 

8" was marked from the selvage edge and cut off.


 All the online instructions said to turn over the edge one time and top stitch.  This was not fun because the prefinish and weight of the canvas made it stiff.  The pressure foot was not able to keep the fabric under control.  I had to ssssllloooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwllllllyyyyyyyyy sew, supporting the fabric to keep it from sliding out from under the pressure foot.

Two coats of the base paint left over from the walls of the dining room were applied to the canvas.  I used package tape to attach a 2" paint brush to a broom stick.  It was braced by two wooded spoons from my kitchen.  Low tech is a good thing. A cheap plastic paint cloth kept the canvas from picking up dirt from the concrete patio. The mint green is leftover paint from the walls of the dining room and kitchen.  There were a couple hours of drying time between coats.

After the canvas was dry I loosely rolled the canvas, covering the beginning edge of the roll with the plastic to make sure the paint would not end up sticking to itself.  I brought the loose roll into the house anticipating overnight rain.


June 4, 2018: The plan is to put an 8" border around the floor cloth of currants on stems with leaves.  The border was described on the canvas in pencil.  It will be covered later with a 3/4" wide lattice.  For the background of the border I rag painted golden rod over the green to soften the background.  It was a windy day so heavy books were used to hold down the canvas while it dried.


I left the canvas outdoors until it was dry to the touch.  Then I moved it indoors to continue drying flat, undisturbed because we were returning to the other house and did not need to use the floor space.  Now I have to check the basement of the other house for leftover paint from other projects to use to paint the currants and leaves.


You may be wondering why the canvas is being painted outside on the patio instead of in the basement or garage.  There are actually four reasons.  1- the basement does not have the wonderful ventilation of the outdoors.  2- The patio door is a lot easier to navigate than the 12 steps with two sharp turns into the basement. 3- The garage is almost a football field away from the house, down a gravel and sand drive way.  Transporting the canvas un-damaged that distance would be tricky.  4 - There are all kinds of woodland creatures that like to visit the garage.  This last week is was a skink.  (not a skunk, although there are some around)  Mice, chipmunks, snakes and insects I do not recognize all like to visit the garage.  I don't want to chance one of them chewing or what ever on my floor cloth causing damage.


June 16, 2018: Last week I stayed in SE Wisconsin while my husband and son did projects on the retirement house.  Almost 2 weeks of drying time.

The small table was moved out of the way and the telescoping dinner table was pulled out and covered with new plastic tarp for the next steps of this project. All 7 leaves were needed.

I have a collection of photos taken of the currants from blossom to berry from past years.  They were printed up and spread on the floor cloth for reference.


The paint is artist's acrylic in tubes, purchased for the project.  I did check in the basement for paints from other projects and decided not to go that direction.  There were too many bases in enamel and oil.  Many were dried out.  

4 colors were used: White, red, brown and green.  The brushes came in a pack with chisel point and fine points. 

The lack of friction of the plastic tarp and the weight of the canvas required weights be used to keep the painting in place.  Note the hammer and bread board.  Polystyrene compartmentalized trays left over from some event years ago were used as my pallet.  An empty spice jar was used to hold water.

The lines of the border were painted using a blending of the brown and green.   The lines are not precise.  I've never been accused of coloring between the lines. 


The small paper plates were used for templates to outline the shape of the leaves in pencil on the canvas before I began painting.  There were two sizes of templates used.




June 17, 2018:  Color... The leaves were filled in color by color.  There were 3 rounds of the border, starting with the brown.  





June 18, 2018:  Here is the 3rd round of leaves with stems added.



 A few rustic bush branches were added in brown and white.  This pulled the floating leaves together.  Painting the berries began using a darkened red to define the strands, followed by the pure red of the berries.


There is no reason to stay within the lines of the border with the leaves and berries.  

 And... the green stems were added to the strands.


June 19, 2018:  This is the canvas drying after the 3rd layer of water based polyurethane. (1 quart)   This time I found a roller, cover and extension stick in the basement.  

It was brought into the house once dry to the touch to set completely while we packed up and came back to SE Wisconsin.  On Friday it will be put in place under the table and chairs, ready for the first spill to be wiped up.

Note the difference between the canvas in detail and in it's entirety?  I am an impressionist at heart with a love of the work that catches the feel of the subject.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

2018 Gift Blankets

This is another year of celebrations. 

One tech school graduate who is now an official flight instructor.   This is a combination of deconstructed pre-used sweats and salvaging the letters to spell out the school name.  The back is lined in large pieces of red, black and white fleece.  The edges are finished with red, black and white left over sweat shirt fabric.  (This was a bad idea because it was too thick to make a respectable mitered corner.)



One high school graduate with a full scholarship to the crimson tide.  Blue taffeta back with red and white fleece front quill-o.  It folds into a easily transportable pillow using the pocket on the bottom of the blanket.  The 'Lucy' is added by trimming around a free needle cursive embroidery.





One new life expected in July.  The pre-print was too small on it's own, but popped when a 4" border was added along with super wide yellow rick rack trim.  The blanket was free needle machine quilted around the designs onto a green mini gingham back.  I love the wonky offset of the print.







Saturday, April 28, 2018



Above is a photo commemorating the good bye to a beloved couple from our church on their last day before their move to be near family members during this new stage of their lives.

The group are people from a Bible study group.  Some from years ago.  Some from now.   Some were always there.

You may be wondering why any adult would attend Bible study on Sundays.    It is simple.  It gives me the boost to be a more compassionate and open person the other 6 days of the week.

Today I was running some mid-day errands.  There was an impatient person behind me while I waited for on coming traffic to pass.  When there was room to safely turn onto the highway I did and the other driver followed.  What surprised me was the road rage brought to the situation in the form of swinging his (her?)  full sized SUV well into my lane as he passed, and then quickly pulling into other traffic to avoid identification.  It was over before I knew it... and surprisingly....... the anger that used to be a part of my day lasted less than a second.  Instead I am sad that someone is so tightly wound that waiting to turn onto the highway would cause such a reaction.  I said a prayer that the other driver was now aware of the over reaction and was able to calm down.  I am still saddened by such an immature reaction.

When I got to where I was going, another vehicle was moving the wrong way down the parking aisle I had just turned into.  Space was made to pass each other, along with a smile and a wave.

The smiling faces of the photo are the reason the situations did not escalate.  By the grace of God and their kindness, I was able to show love today.  Our days are made better because the child of God in each of us is recognized.  This is what Bible study keeps in my heart. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Plarn Mat for the Homeless

Plarn Yarn Mat for the Homeless


My sister mentioned investigating knitting instructions using cut up plastic shopping bags to make a mat as a project.  The plastic bags would not go directly to a land fill and the homeless would not be sleeping directly on a floor in a shelter, or ground outside.

At first glance it seemed like a wonderful project to investigate and participate in so I began looking on line to see what others have been doing.  There are many, many postings on line with instructions to crochet and frame loom these mats.  I found none for knitting.   

Below is the result of weaving a plarn mat on a floor loom.  The first photo is the daisy chained plarn in the basket with the mat in progress on the loom in the background.  The second photo is the finished mat.


Around thanksgiving I began taking control of the plastic Pick & Save bags brought into my home and stuffed into the 'bag of bags' in my pantry.  All the beige and half the white plarn in the finished mat came from Pick & Save bags.  The balance of the plarn was made from Piggly Wiggly and Woodman's bags.


As great minds would have it, the craft group at church decided (independent of my project) to collect shopping bags to be made into mats and donated.  One of the local shelters would take whatever they gave.

Inspiration to execution showed the flaws in the project I did not see mentioned in the you-tube instruction videos. 

The plarn compressed.  It flattening out to paper thin when weight was applied.  Not much protection from the cold ground.  A thick mat was needed.  The plarn was cut wider.  The mat got thicker.  The mat got heavier.  The mat got harder to pull the crochet hook through.  The mat required more material than I had access to.

I was in the planning stages of my next set of woven rugs for the weekend house so I factored in extra warp.  The crocheted project was pulled apart and I commandeered the church collection of plastic bags to have sufficient material to complete the mat. 

The plarn daisy chain was ~ 3" wide.  4 daisy chains of plarn were bundled together to get a thick mat. 

This extra thick plarn distorted the warp on the ends.  I was not able to get nice straight edges.

The final factor that convinced me to never, ever work with plarn again was the allergic reaction I had in the form of dermatitis.  Now, I am hypersensitive to allergens much like the canary in the mine shaft.  I wove wearing a lab jacket to add a layer of protection.  The HEPA air cleaner had to be on.  I showered and changed clothes after I worked with the plarn.

My final perspective on this project comes from living through the transition from paper grocery sacks to plastic.  We were sold a bill of goods.  The argument in the late 60's - early 70's was focused on the non sustainable forests being flattened for paper bags.  Yes, the same non-sustainable forests that to date provide paper goods from diapers to printer paper to Amazon boxes.  We were told plastic was a much better product and the transition was made. 

There is a place for the sterility of plastic.  Plastic bags do not have a valid purpose double bagging 2 liter bottles of soda. 

Here comes the old mantra that I still believe: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  My household is going to continue to focus on Reduce and Reuse.  Recycle needs to be investigated more fully.  Are the plastic bags put in the recycling containers actually being recycled? 

If you still want to provide more comfortable sleeping for the homeless, used yoga mats can be had at local resale shops for ~ $5 each.  They are lightweight and provide protection from the ground.

My time is better spent in other ways for mission work.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Repurposed Yarn into Rag Rugs

My Methodist/German upbringing will not allow me to throw away anything 
that could possible be used at least one more time.  This is what lead
to me being up in the middle of the night chaining 12 strands of used
yarn into one strand.

The weekend house we bought on 'pill hill' in Crystal Falls, MI came
with hand crocheted window valances in the 3 bedrooms.  They were nice
with Packer green trim on one, variegated pink and blue trim on another and fushia trim on the third. 
Most of the yarn was an off white.  I had other plans for the windows.

A normal person would have washed up the valances and dropped them off
at the St. Vinnie's on the hill.  Instead, I decided the valances could
be deconstructed and the off white 4-ply yarn knit into a blanket to
replace the sleeping bags we were using.

As the deconstruction progressed it became apparent the yarn was a tiny
bit sun rotted in a few places.  That took the plans for a blanket from
one 4-ply yarn to two 4-ply yarns.  I should mention that I began
wondering if the yarn from the window valances was going to be enough
for a blanket, so I began buying odds and ends of 4-ply yarn at the 2nd
hand stores in white and off white, just to add interest.

The next change of plan happened when the blanket in progress weighed 5
pounds at 12" of knitting.  And... I had just acquired a 4 harness
floor loom with a 45", 15 dent reed (15 yarns per inch).  I would weave
a blanket  instead.

It took about half a year to set up the loom, make sure all the parts
were complete, there was a fresh coat of Danish rubbing oil on all the
wood and to warp up (thread) the loom.  

There was more play in the 4-ply knitting
yarn than the pearl cotton I was used to, but I was able to
get an even tension on the warp with a bit of attention to detail.  It
was time to weave.   There were laundry baskets full of repurposed 4-ply
yarn balls waiting to be woven.

This was sooooo exciting because I had dreamed of weaving on my own
floor loom for decades.  I stepped on the treadle, shot the beginning
scrap fabric through the shed, changed treadles to set the row before
pulling back on the beater bar.  Those of you who have woven know what
happened next.  Nothing.  The 4-ply yarn went through the reeds,
singly.  The tension on the 150 4-ply yarns lined up did not allow the
beater bar to budge.

A 10 dent reed was procured, the warp transfered one yarn at a time and I was able to weave ~ 12" of blanket before we sold the weekend house in Crystal Falls and bought the future retirement home in Wausaukee.


The loom was dismantled with the warp removed from the back beam and
carefully wrapped around a cardboard tube.  All was brought back to West
Allis to keep it from rusting in storage.  And it sat for a year in a
spare bedroom until the hardwood floors were nearing completion in
Wausaukee.  Brand new hickory hardwood floors that would need some kind
of protection in high traffic areas and warmness in the Winter.  I would
go pioneer and weave rag rugs for the floors.  The blanket would have to
wait.

The loom was set up.  I bought 60 yards of fabric at the Florence
Eisemann Sale to use as filler.  The first two rugs were woven last
Summer from 10 yards of fine navy corduroy.  There was enough fabric
left over for a comforter to match.



The loom was warped up for the next set of rugs over Winter shutdown. 
10 yards of cream colored cotton knit were earmarked for the filler. 
But I kept tripping over the yarn for the blanket.  By this time it had grown to fill a duffel bay and the bushel basket.  The balls for the filler kept falling out of the basket.  The duffel bag did not stay put.  The cardboard tube with the original weaving kept leaning toward me saying, 'walk on me..'.

I gave in and took a bundle of yarn and wove a couple of rows.  12 yarns 
produced a nice thick fabric perfect for a bedroom floor.   The yarn has 
been re-purposed again.   I hope for the last time.

The yarn was bundled into one long chain and loosely draped into and eventually over the handle of a bushel basket.  When one yarn ended another was added until all the yarns were ready to weave.

The final tally is 6 rugs 27" wide.  Five are 66 inches long and woven from the repurposed valance yarn project .  The final rug used up the remaining warp and some leftover navy corduroy from the earlier rugs.  That is just large enough to fit under a chair.  All the rugs will fit into the home washing machine, one at a time.  

The weavings were removed from the loom and taken to the Wausaukee home to finish the ends and put into use.  The unrolled visual on the snowbank is what the weaving looks like before finishing.  And the very last photo is the rugs in place.
  

  
Yes..  the colors are odd and I am not completely comfortable with them.  I pulled the colors on the comforter from a fabric I fell in love with.  That led to the colors on the warp.  What scares me is if I add any more purple tones to the room it will not only whisper but scream 'old lady'.