Friday, April 25, 2008

Hello Again Everyone

Hello again everyone.

Yes, we are still here; it's just been one of those months.

First off, nothing much has happened with the house at all. SWMBO and I have been busy with a lot of other items, especially outside - getting the yard ready for spring and summer.

Also, a week ago today I, along with my older brother and father, had to make an emergency trip to Georgia. It was a 22 hour drive straight through.

"Why didn't you fly?" I hear you asking...simple, dad did not want to fly. Not sure why, he just didn't.

Anyway, April 16th, my Aunt Lindy (dad's little sister) died. All we know is that she died of either a heart attack or a stoke. The bad part, other than her death, was when and where she died.

She and my uncle own a set of businesses that deal with autos. As part of the business they would travel to auto auctions in Florida (they live in south central GA) and would transport the autos back. She died while driving a truck hauling another vehicle. She careened across 5 lanes of traffic and ran into the front driver's side of a dump truck at full speed. We do know that she was already gone when it happened. We are just thankful that no one else was hurt (especially with it being that large of a highway). We were told that the accident had been reported on on the national news because it was so unusual.

What I find the most sad is that Aunt Lindy had planned a trip to visit us in February with her daughter. They had to put it off but decided to make the trip this June or July.

Just goes to show - live your life as if it could be your last day - do not put off things you want to do!

For the three of us this was our first trip back to Georgia since 1975 - I was 9 y/o at the time. The last time we were there was for my grandmother's (dad's mother) funeral. Dad was born and raised in the area and my brother was born there as well.

After we got back to Kansas I just didn't feel like doing much of anything, so I've just been piddling in the yard and the red barn. I really didn't want to mess with the blog or the internet.

Following are some pictures from the trip.

I'm not sure if this is a 'Southern thing' or not, but I've never seen this done before and I worked in the funeral business for over a year.

There were two of these, one at each of the two corners of my aunt's property where it was against the road.

They were supplied by the funeral home.

I can honestly tell you that people did slow down and went as quiet as they could when they went by the house.

My aunt and uncle had a discussion less than a month ago about death and funeral plans. They decided that they wanted to be buried on their own property. For those of you who do not know it, some states (Kansas included) are allowing families to have their own cemeteries on their own property as long as it meets the acreage requirement.

So, my uncle ended up having to push through the paperwork and have a new family cemetery declared on their property. Funny, while in Georgia I could not help but notice the dozens of tiny cemeteries all over the country side.

Here is the spot where she will be (has been) laid to rest. Another funny thing is is as soon as they decided to create a family plot they bought the statue, they just didn't finish the paperwork - they thought they had time.

Here is a general view of the family plot.

The pine trees there are awesome.

We even brought some saplings home to plant, but it will be a miracle if they survive.

If we try to look for bright side to this tragic ordeal we can find it in the simple fact that we got to get reacquainted with our relatives. With the exception of Aunt Lindy, we have not seen any of these relatives since 1975. Now that we have 'rediscovered' each other I want to make sure we keep in touch. It would be nice to take Annette down to Georgia so she could see where my family comes from and meet those relatives she's only heard us talk about.

Funny how you can meet someone again for the first time in 33 years, spend less than two days with them, and then miss them terribly.

Now for a change of mood & scenery.

I'm sure you have all heard of the world famous Vidalia onion. It grows in only one small part of the world and my father grew up in that spot. Our family still lives in the area.

Here is a field of onions behind my cousin’s house (my dad's little brother's daughter).

There are about 170,000 onions per acre (IIRC) in this field and they will be shipped all over the world.

Another view of the same field. From this point it almost looks like a field of wheat.

The day of the funeral we got up early and went to the ancestral Simpson/McDilda family plot. There are three families that make up this plot and I think we are all intermarried in one way or another. The Simpsons, McDildas, and Andersons are the families that founded the small town my father grew up in.

Now, this isn't the first family plot but the second that I'm aware of.

There is another one (so I'm told) that's about 75 miles away (I think) and contains the remains of those who died before 1890 (not 100% sure about this).

Unfortunately there was just not enough time to go visit that one.

It would be nice to be buried in the family plot, but that just isn't going to happen. There are too many other family members (mom's side and Annette's side) that are buried in Kansas.

I never knew there were so many of use.

Do you see the two flags? They were set out for memorial day, and yes, that is a Confederate battle flag.

This is one of the few graves where the person is not directly related, but he had fought in the Civil War.

I had four ancestors on my father's side who fought in the Confederate army; three died and one survived.

So yes, I am a proud descendent of a Confederate veteran.

BTW - I have two ancestors on my mother's side who fought for the North. Because of this I'm what's called a 'Dual National' when it comes to Civil War ancestry.

After this we decided to go by and see dad's old home town (what's left of it) on our way to see the old home place.

Here it is - the sign at least.

Ohoopee GA - population somewhere around 460 people. If you blink you'll miss it.

Dad was sad to see that what was there when he was growing up (some of which was still there in'75) was all gone! There was NOTHING left of the old town. It was as if someone mowed it all down and replaced it with new.

I really wanted to go in the middle of the night and swipe the sign, but like I said, their just wasn't enough time.

Okay, once we left Ohoopee we went to go see the family home place. Before we get to those pics, let me give you a little of the back history. For those of my family who read this, let me know what I get wrong.

My family has never been big on history, especially family history. Not sure why, they just aren't. However, back in '75 I had the chance to listen to one of my father's aunts tell the family history. Lots of it has yet to be confirmed, but lots of it has (does that make sense?).

Anyway, here it is, from what I can remember and what I have learned from research and others.

My father's side is from Georgia. They actually started out in the Viginia area in the mid 1600s but migrated to Georgia when it was formed in the early 1700s (this part is unconfirmed, but matches family oral history). Dad's family had a large farm/plantation and grew cotton, rice, and tobacco.

The house dad was born in was enormous. The house is long gone, but as a kid (back in '75) we visited the spot where the house stood. Two rooms are left of it - a formal parlor and a little room that went off the side of it. The parlor was the size of our first house! The fireplace was so massive that a cow could be cooked in it. This part of the house was actually across the road from where it originally sat, back in '75 we could still see the layout where it stood.

Anyway, we were shown the area of the property the slaves had lived. Most of the quarters were still there, in one form or another, back in '75. At the time of the Civil War dad's ancestors had over 200 field slaves alone.

After the war most of them stayed on - they knew no other home or family. My ancestors paid them and gave them the 'quarters' they had been living in. Dad's ancestors also helped them improve the quarters and even gave them parcels of land. The first Christmas after the war, dad's family started a new tradition - they gave each ex-slave family a whole hog, half a beef cow, and several chickens. Dad remembers doing this as a child.

Dad's ancestors took care of the slaves and treated them better than most. The fact that most stayed on after the war shows this to be true. Most of them still have descendants that live in the area to this day.

Unfortunately, during the height of the depression, one of the relatives got upset that my grandfather would not give him cash right out and wanted him to work for the money. So in the middle of the night he, his father, and several of his friends, set fire to all the storage barns, and out buildings, that contained the harvested crops.

They also set fire to the barns that contained all the riding horses, work animals, a cows killing them. Keep in mind that this was at a time when most people did not have insurance.

The only way the family could pay the depts owed was by selling off the land. Eventually things got worse and they had to sell the house off as well. The house was so large that five smaller houses were carved out of it and moved to other locations (we got to see some of those back in '75). One of my father's oldest memories is of his black nanny throwing him over her shoulder and running from the house for fear that they would burn it too.

Shortly after the fire the relative who was responsible for the destruction stood in front of the area and committed suicide with a gun shot to the head.

Now nothing remains. The last of the house is gone; the footprint of the original house location is gone; and all the old servant quarters are gone. They were done away with in order to make room for tree farming and other farming endeavors.

Two good things were learned on this trip though.

1) We found out that one of dad's relatives (a cousin) has been able to buy up most of the original property.

2) I found out what the name of the property was - "Pepper Head". Don't ask me why it was named this or what it means - no one I spoke to has a clue about it.

Well, for what it's worth, here are some pictures of "Pepper Head" (perhaps we should name our house this in memoriam).

Here is where the remains of the house stood.

Just some trees on the property.

I'm not 100% sure but I think this is the spot where the guy committed suicide.

More trees.....

When I asked dad how much land the family had before it all went away he said he wasn't sure, but it took a long time to get from one end to the other.

He has often told us about needing to drop out of school at an extremely early age to help work on what was left of the farm. He remembers using a team of mules to help till the fields.

Here is where the house stood. The slave/servant quarters stood off to the back, right hand side of the picture just over the ridge.

And even more trees...

These are the trees that are the new 'cash' crop for Georgia and are planted all over the place.

They are genetically altered so they can be harvested quickly and they are EVERYWHERE!!!!

Well, I guess that about does it for now. I never really knew just how much I miss the old home place and my cousins there. All I do know is that when I was there it felt 'right'.

One other thing that happened during the trip was the realization that I'm tired of hiding my Confederate heritage. From now on I will not hide the fact that I have ancestors who fought and died for what they believed in. For them it was not necessarily about the right to own slaves but the right to govern themselves - the same reason we started the Revolution. This is one reason the Civil War is also known as the "Second American Revolution".

Unfortunately, a lot of people hide their Confederate heritage due to the fact the some people equate it with 'hate' and 'racism'. To me, when it comes to my family's slave holding past I think back to something I learned in Sunday school - "hate the sin, but love the sinner'. It was a different world back then and that is not me, nor my family, today.

For me, I plan to honor these ancestors by petitioning for enrolment into the 'Sons of Confederate Veterans'. I wonder if there is an equivalent for those who’s ancestors fought for the North?

Till next time....

Larry ~

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Good Bye" for now & a Teaser

Well, this is it...the end of the least for a few days.

Today it took 6 hours for my PC to boot-up and come on. It came on for a little bit this morning (about an hour) but then shut it's self off. Around 2ish I turned the poor thing on and left it alone. As I said, 6 hours later he finally came to life. So I took the opportunity to contact Hewlett-Packard and have them run an on-line diagnostic. I also decided to use this time to make this last post.

Anyway, the HP tech determined that there was a hardware problem and was most likely the motherboard. Before contacting HP directly I talked to the local, authorized repair company and they said it would cost $60 to have a diagnostic ran. I then found a brand new motherboard (just in case) for under $175 - normally around $300.

Get this...the HP tech has arranged for my PC to be shipped, priority, to the factory for a rebuild - ALL FOR FREE!!! heard that right....they will provide a shipping container, the shipping cost to them and back AND all the parts and labor for FREE!!!

I always knew I liked HP for a reason.

So, within 1 to 2 days I will receive the shipping container and send it off. They will then have it back to me within 7 business days after they receive it.

Thanks Ethan for helping out on this!

The only thing I have to do is prep it to go - back-up all files and remove anything, like pics and documents, I don't want erased. I'm a little leery of this because I know you can not completely remove info off of a PC unless you use certain software. So I'm skittish of them digging up my personnel and financial stuff. But then again, if someone wanted it that bad they would find a way to get it.

So, in about two weeks I will have a completely rebuilt PC as if it’s brand new.

I was really shocked when I started downloading files, pics, &c. I had no idea I had that much on it! So far I have filled two large zip drives with photos and still have a third more to go.

I will have access to the blog and e-mail via SWMBO's company laptop but they frown on it being used for personal stuff. So I will probably not post anything else until my PC comes home - so be watching for lots of pics and such!

Speaking of which, here are some 'teasers' of how things are moving along in the kitchen.

Remember those nasty green walls?


The skim coat system I'm going with is working well. The only screw-ups are due to me.

If you look real close you can see some lines on the walls. Those are the spots where I screwed up. They will be easy to fix and once the second coat is on the imperfections of the wall should be less noticeable.

Love the newspaper?

The plaster gets messy so I put the paper up to help protect the woodwork. What you are seeing here is the tattered remains after a psychotic cat had its way with it.

Here's the main wall, the one with all the patches. It isn't completely dry so you can still see some of the patches. Again, there are some screw-ups.

If you are going to be doing any skim coating you really need to get the Magic Trowel.

The first time SWMBO saw the results she said “WOW!” and I know she was skeptical of the tool.

Like I said before - it's messy.

All of those little white spots are splats of mud as I applied it.

If you look really hard you will see some of the bigger splats on the paper.

Thought I would throw in a couple shots of the 'prep work' involved.

The paper is primarily there to protect the wood from the plaster adhesive applied before the mud is put on. I’ll write more on that later.

I wonder how many people think we have put curtains up? The paper looks like cafe curtains from the road.

Anyway, I'll leave you all for now. I got this message out without the PC crashing on me so I'd better quit while I'm ahead.

Till next time....

Larry ~

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Testing, Testing, 1 2 3

Testing, Testing, 1 2 3...

Okay, things seem to be up and running once again, keep your fingers crossed.

Not sure what the problem is, but Ethan, over at One Project Closer, has helped me out a lot on this.

Thanks Ethan!

We think there might be something wrong with the motherboard.

About two weeks ago I was working on the PC while lounging in bed. Then the cats started to fight and in my haste a moved and the PC slid off my lap and on to the floor. It only fell about 20” (if that), but dinged one of the corners. After that things started to get worse.

So, with Ethan’s help, and some research, I found out that the motherboards in these models are very fragile. Right now it seems to be working, but I am going to have a diagnostic ran on it. The good news is that I can get a new motherboard for less than $175.

So, I thought I would give you all this update and also do this as a test.

Anyway, a while back my old pair of safety goggles broke and I’m reduced to wearing a pair of nasty plastic ones (you know the kind). The week we had the garage sale I happened to catch an episode of Hammered with John and Jimmy DiResta on the DIY network. One of them was wearing a pair of vintage goggles that were very "steampunk" in style. When I saw those I thought ‘EUREKA!’ I could have a pair of steampunk safety goggles. SWMBO agreed.

I found this interesting pair of goggles on eBay, and they have that "it" quality I’m was looking for.

I was lucky, I had no idea how much these things go for!

Aren't they cool looking?

The strap is not in the best shape so I'll replace those.

The most interesting part of finding these was the 'hunt' and the whole new world it opened up for me. I have been a fan of VSF (Victorian Science Fiction) since I was a kid. Well, it turns out there is an entire culture centered around this and it's called 'Steampunk'.

I had no idea there was a name for the VSF fan base. The best part of all the exploration was what I found.


Lots and lots of gadgets!! I love gadgets and the kinds associated with Steampunk are right up my alley. As some of you know, I've been looking for various ideas for the attic. We have been planing on converting it attic into a hobby/game room with a safari/adventure theme, but it seemed to need more.

While looking through the steampunk sites it dawned on me - the style i've been looking for is a VSF/Steampunk theme!

So, keep this in mind and watch for idea updates as I throw them out at you.

One last thing...take some time and have a look at some of the Steampunk sites - here are a hand full to get you started. If you are like me, it might take a bit for you to get over some of those who are way over the weird meter, but they are really cool people!

Datamancer - be sure to check out the PC related items.

Steam, Brass and Fzz and Gothic Glow for lights and other items.

The Æther Emporium a onestop resource and archive for all things Steampunk.

And last, but not least Brass Goggles, the first site I found.

For those of you interested, the music I have playing is from a group named Abney Park - check them out!

Oh can click on the "sticker" (thanks for the word Sandy!!!) and choose a song from the album.

Till next time....

Larry ~

Monday, April 7, 2008

"Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!"

"Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!" has been one of those days for that past couple of days.

Last Friday we started having 'glitches' with our PC. It doesn’t want to turn on and is acting sluggish when it does. I have done everything I can think of to fix it, but nothing seems to help.

As of today - Monday morning - it just will not turn on (it turns one but will not engage). So, it will be going into the shop.

I wanted to drop you all a line to let you know I might not be able to post for a while until it gets fixed. I will be logging onto SWMBO's PC (her company owned PC she uses to work from home) to check e-mail, so you can still contact me. Just drop me a line at correus @

By the time the PC is up and running I should have a bunch if new pics and updates for you.

As for the house, the weather was SO nice we opted to work on the little red barn. We cleaned it out so I could start assembling the new woodshop.

Till next time.....

Larry ~

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Today's Progress

Today was a good day - kind of.

I have the second coat of the joint compound finished and it should be dried by tomorrow morning.

Also, my new toy arrived today!! Can't wait to try out the new Multimaster!!

If you remember from my previous post, I had forgotten to add the metal corner bead to the chimney chase.

As you can see, it made a big difference. See how sharp those edges are?!

All I need to do is fill in some low spots to the under side.

For you sick puppies out there, you will notice that the 'Boo Boo' Meter has gone up. First thing this morning I sliced open my pinky of the left hand while cutting the corner bead. I should have gotten a pic of the blood smear dang it!

About an hour after that I whacked my index finger on the same hand with the hammer while installing the corner bead. It was bad enough I thought I broke it. My mother, a nurse, took a look and said it wasn't broken but very bruised. All I know is it feels like a hot needle being shoved in it each time something touches it.


Here’s where the hole was. Doesn't that look a lot better?! I know you can't tell from the pic, but it is very smooth.

This last pic is for Jennifer over at the Tiny Old House.

She had asked me about the “Dustdog” vacuum sander from HYDE Tools. She is getting ready to do a big drywall project at her house and I promised to post info about the joint compound I use. Here ya go Jennifer!

Here is handy little Family Handyman article you might want to read through also. Good luck with your project and I'll drop by for a visit.

Well, till next time....

Larry ~

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Delays - Delays - Delays

Delays - Delays - Delays!! It always seems like I run into to delays.

As I posted yesterday I was hoping to start the skim coat process on Wednesday, but it might be delayed until Thursday. The big patch that covers the hole where the vent was isn't completely dry. On top of that I forgot to add corner bead to a section of the wall. MAN - I must be loosing my mind or something to forget something as basic as that.

So, I spent the day doing some touch ups on the mud patches from yesterday and to sand what has already dried.

If you EVER have to do drywall, or plaster work, and need to sand it (what am I thinking - of course you will have to sand), I can't recomend this little gizmo enough.

It is the “Dustdog” vacuum sander from HYDE Tools. I got mine at the local ACE Hardware store.

I noticed a marked reduction in the dust, at least 90%. Get one before your next mudding job.

Once I was done with that I sat down with one of the best Drywall DIY books you can have.
Drywall: Professional Techniques for Walls & Ceilings is a must for any DIYer’s bookshelf.

Myron Ferguson has another book out, Drywall: Professional Techniques for Great Results . I’ll probably purchase this one at a later date.

Along with this source of info I've been going over Edwin Brown's awesome site This is by far one of THE best web site around for plaster work.

The part I will be using is the section on Skim Coating.

I'm sure I will continue reading these two sources well into the night.

One last thing I thought I'd bring up. As you know, we have been getting things together to decorate the new kitchen with. In one of the comments on the blog I mentioned the purchase of a Tagine. A friend asked me about it and I noticed I spelt it wrong.

Anyway, for those of you who might not know what a Tagine is - this is it.

Basically it's a conical cooking pot popular in Morocco.

Go here for a good, basic description.

While we are on the subject - SWMBO & I like old and unusual kitchen gadgets. The weirder the better. My particular interest is in clay cooking pots, like the Tagine, among other items.

I have a rather modest collection at the moment and am planning on a way to display them in the kitchen that will look nice.

One of my favorite pieces is this one. Isn't it ugly?!?!

It is a pre-war cooking pot I bought from a guy in Germany.

He and his wife had been given this Boar shaped pot as a wedding gift. It had never been used and they were downsizing so they put it on German eBay.

It was an ordeal to get it. My German isn't the best but he couldn't speak any English. Once we got down to the nitty-gritty of the sale I had a friend, who lives in Germany and speaks fluent German, handle the money for me. Turns out he lived a few miles from the couple and banked at the same location! So I wired my friend the cash and he gave it to the guy for me.

Anyway - thought I would just share that with you.

BTW - for those who enjoy my pains and sufferings you will notice that the 'Boo Boo' meter count has gone up. I developed a hangnail the other day and dropped a rather large power tool on it today.

Until next time -

Larry ~

It Is DONE!!!!

Hey everybody!!

I decided to pull in an all-nighter to work on the kitchen.

Drum roll please……………………………………

Tada!!!! It’s DONE!!!!!


Happy April Fool’s Day!!!


Larry ~