Archive for the 'This Old House' Category


It comes of not having a dishwasher, or, more accurately, of having a dishwasher full of light bulbs.

I was working in the kitchen and rinsing something or the other, when I noticed that the rinse sink was filling with water. A bit odd, but I know that I should run the disposal at least once a day, and sometimes I forget, so I flipped it on, thinking that that would clear it out and suck out the accumulating standing water. Well! You probably can’t imagine the horrid grinding noise that ensued. Within two seconds, I had shut off the disposal, and I stood there, wondering (a), what was wrong and (b), what to do about it.

We’ve had disposal issues before. To say the least. Stories could be told. The sound had been something akin to the sound when a peach stone got down in there. It was a terrific noise, so I was sure that whatever was down there was an item of, well, substance. Now, I’ve never relished reaching down into the disposal. I’m of the firm conviction that dealing with disposal contents is much like dealing with backed up septic systems, Personally, I think that full disposals fall into the same category as backed-up septic systems, clogged bathtub drain, snakes in the cellar, or evidence of in-house visits by any members of the order Rodentia. That is, a MAN should deal with them! Problem was that my man was out of the house for a little while; maybe 30 minutes.

I decided to be brave the potential slime and reach down in there. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? Well, I actually felt it before I saw it. (It’s hard to see much of anything in a disposal.) Something hard. Very hard. And smooth. Very smooth. At which point I pulled my hand out – and it was NOT slimy, whew! – and looked down in there and saw something clear… a juice glass!!! Of course! No problem. We’ve done this before. And we know that the very best was to get broken glass out of one’s disposal is to use the shop vac. But wait. I reached back in very carefully. This particular juice glass didn’t seem to be broken. Juice glasses are, you know, the perfect size to slide down into the disposal, and when they are not broken (and therefore not candidates for the tried-and-true SVEP, shop vac evacuation procedure), the trick is to spend way too much time trying to grasp the wet, slippery little glass and pull it up and out. The usual method is to eventually give up on trying to grab the rim of the glass (which can’t be done) and resort instead to a process of putting one’s hand IN the glass and trying to press out with enough force to prevent slippage while simultaneously pulling up and thereby completing the extrication. This latter was my intended plan of attack, but sadly it proved absolutely impossible because this particular juice glass had managed to position itself – are you ready? – on its side down in the disposal.

Oh, my.

In the spirit of loving my lips, I immediately realized that “This [was] more serious than I thought.”

The problems with it being on its side were that (a), it could not be righted, and (b), it could not be pulled out until it was.

At which point, I gave up but tried not to cry. And waited for Scott, who arrived home in a few minutes to a somewhat frazzled wife, who apologized profusely while explaining the situation. Scott is a problem solver extraordinaire, so I was sure that in a few minutes he would have the juice glass out of the disposal and all would be well, but one beach towel, one flashlight, one screwdriver, a few other tools, and a few minutes later, while he had indeed loosened the disposal enough that it would twist around a bit in the sink, he had removed neither the disposal from the sink nor the offending juice glass from the disposal. And he said, “I think the wisest thing to do is call Mr. Bill.”

Please do not, Dear Reader, construe that statement to mean that Scott was planning to call Mr. Bill. Oh, no. It simply means that I then had permission to call Mr. Bill. Which I did.  = )  He happened to be home (that’s nice; only .1 mile away), and said that yes, he’d be willing to look at it for me, but that he and LaShell had a guest coming for dinner (this was about 5:30 PM on a Friday), he didn’t know if the guest was there because he was just getting out of the shower, and could I give him about ten minutes. Yes, of course!

As it turned out, Mr. Bill arrived in ten minutes with his plumber’s tool bag in hand (but without his reading glasses – boo hiss), and in just a very few minutes he had the disposal out of the sink. And then came the real challenge: how to get that pesky juice glass out? He played around with it for a bit and suddenly the juice glass twisted itself enough for him to lift it straight out. Voila! He instructed Scott on how to put it all back together – minus the juice glass, of course – and returned home to his dinner and guest; the guest who, by the way, had been at their home when Mr. Bill departed for our house. Scott reassembled everything, found a minor leak that needed some play-dough-like putty stuff, applied that, and all is well. The juice glass has been very well washed and is no worse for the wear.

Those who have drunk juice at our house in the past may recall that we have two sizes/styles of juice glasses: the shorter, squattier and the taller, thinner. Had this guy been short and squatty, I could have manipulated him (think turning a breech baby from the outside) into an upright position, but as he was tall and thin, that was not possible. He was too tall to turn and stand up, which makes Mr. Bill’s success even more amazing.

Moral of the story: If your dishwasher is full of light bulbs because you like the taste of your hard water, and if you therefore wash your dishes by hand, and if for that reason you have a dish drainer on the counter that is nearly always full of elaborately stacked and precariously balanced dry and/or drip-drying dishes, and if said incredibly full dish drainer happens to also sport a collection of juice glasses upended on its plastic draining prongs on one side, and if that side of the dish drainer is toward the sink so as to allow the draining water to flow into the sink rather than onto the floor, then you simply must ensure that your dish drainer doesn’t hang so far over the sink that when your husband starts to put away the dry dishes (to bless you; acts of service, you know) it becomes unbalanced, slides sideways, and sends all its remaining contents (including the aforementioned dangling juice glasses) crashing into the sink, thereby inserting one juice glass feet first into the disposal. Furthermore, if you fail to ensure such an eminently stable dish drainer placement, and if you then innocently turn on the disposal, you may rest assured that the water you are running into the sink to cool the disposal, combined with the suction generated by its ancient and wheezing motor will yea and verily cause the upright (intrinsically moral) juice glass to cave to pressure, lie down on its side in sin, roll over and play dead.

And you do NOT ever want a juice glass sideways in your disposal!


Gonna have a yard sale

We’re not, but our church is. The purpose is to raise money for the mission team that’s going from our church to Niger this summer. I think the total needed is about $21,000, so we’ve all been encouraged to donate as much used-but-valuable stuff as possible to the yard sale. This is a great motivator for me, as we have a house and multiple out-buildings just full of stuff. With so much fodder, all I need to do is to schedule the and then discipline myself to start somewhere and go through stuff. I have about a month to accomplish this, and I have already ruthlessly culled my dresser. I think next will be my closet, then maybe Jo’s closet. . . I really just need Jessica to come stand over me and tell me which area to tackle and what to get rid of. My goal is to put at least three things in the yard sale pile every day, starting tomorrow. Anybody want to hold me accountable?  = )


On Scott’s side of the bed, he has a little “touch” lamp with a three-way bulb. You just tap its base to turn it on the dimmest setting and then each additional tap brightens up the light a bit.

Our bed comforter is rather lightweight and happens to be made of polyester. It’s great in the summer, but in the winter we add a heavy cotton quilt underneath it. I’ve noticed over the years that when I change the sheets in the winter, if I yank the comforter off too violently, I can actually create blue sparks with the static electricity. Since I know from experience that any exposed appendage (finger, nose, etc.) can get shocked, I am now fairly careful when I pull the comforter off. I don’t like being a human lightning rod!

This morning I decided to strip the bed and get the sheets washing while we were at church, but I must say that what happened in our bedroom had never happened before. Standing at the foot of the bed, I pulled the comforter off, and it crackled a little bit, but get this: When the comforter crackled at end of low end of the bed, the touch lamp turned on at the head of the bed! I thought it was just some weird coincidence (or as my dad used to say, “co-inky-dink”), so I turned the lamp off and tried it again – with exactly the same result!

Moral of the story: A static electrical charge can travel at least six feet through the air inside a very dry 105-year-old frame house.

Feel free to indulge your curiosity and try this at home. I actually think someone should figure out a way to harness the power of sheet-changing (or some other means of rubbing polyester against cotton) to charge a cell phone or something.

Jeopardy question: What is “clomp, clomp, clomp?”

Answer: The sound generated when a person going down the stairs wearing tennis shoes gets to the lower half of our main staircase, now that there is no carpet on those stairs.

Mr. Bill to the rescue again

This evening, our good friend, Mr. Bill, accompanied by his extremely delightful assistant – the one carrying the toolbox and sporting the maximally becoming headlamp, arrived to repair our more-than-a-year-old cellar leak.  Our hot water was only off for 10 minutes, Mr. Bill had all the tools and connectors and expertise necessary, and everything went very smoothly. The two of them made quick work of it, and we now have no more cellar drips!!! It cost us the price of the parts, a bit of money for his time and knowledge, and a pan of Batchelators. I think they were both more excited about the Batchelators than the money.  = )

“What’s making me happy?”

I listen to a podcast called The Simple Show, and near the end of it, the host always asks the guest to share one thing, “from the ridiculous to the serious,” that’s making her happy. Then the host shares her happy thing, too.

If someone asked me what’s making me happy right now, I would definitely say,”hanging out the laundry.” A couple months ago, when I was trying to come up with some small money-saving adjustments to make, I realized that we could probably use our electric dryer less than we were.

I started with hanging out our sheets, which is just wonderful. They feel so crisp and smell so good! I remember my mom hanging out sheets when I was a kid, and now I know why. My next step was to begin hanging out some other items like T-shirts and jeans, and before long, I was doing whole loads, not so much to save money, but just because it was so much fun.  = )

I have a pretty good system worked out now, what with where the clotheslines are positioned (partly in shade part of the day), which things take longer or shorter to dry, the realization that sun + wind = dry, Jessica’s tip to hang bright colors inside out so they don’t fade, and this truly amazing insight. Our dryer has a setting called “Fluff Air” which I had never used. It is entirely heat-free, and we I’m sure that running the heating element takes a lot more electricity than just running the motor. Well, let me tell you that with my new-found dryer setting, I can off the line a load of TOWELS that are totally crunchy (read: “rough as a Brillo pad”), throw in them in the dryer on Fluff Air for 30 minutes, and while they’re not quite as soft as they would be had they been dried on high heat for 60 minutes, they are certainly soft enough to use.

So, I’m just having a blast hanging out laundry these days; so much so that I’m frequently looking for reasons to do a load of wash! And on Thursday, when I was so diligent to get the (admittedly very small) load hung out before I left home in the morning, and when it poured down rain that afternoon while I was gone, and when even more rain was forecast that evening overnight, get this: I had the absolutely stellar idea to put those three very damp items, including a pair of jeans, on hangers and suspend them in the playroom from the garage door track right above the dehumidifier. By the next morning, they were totally dry

This clothesline experience really is making me happy.

We’ve been here for twenty years!

On June 28, 1996, we moved into our house in Walnut Shade. We had moved from Little Rock to Branson to plant a church, and a series of totally amazing “it could only be God” circumstances put us in this place.

God showed me the whole interior of a house in a vision while I was taking a shower in our second Birchwood house in Little Rock. I was stunned, thought such an experience quite odd (I’d never had a vision before), had no idea why God would suddenly show m such a thing, and figured that maybe someday we’d live in a house like that.

We retained a realtor who was absolutely positive she could find us a five-bedroom house within 20 minutes of Branson and in our price range – a price range Scott had made up out of thin air, as he had quit his job and had no income. We later learned that our realtor had never sold a house.

On the way to see the series of houses she had found, all of which ended up being unacceptably junky, she said we’d be driving past “this one really unique property” that she wanted to show us. It was tens of thousands of dollars out of our price range, and she knew we couldn’t buy it, but it was “just so very unique that you really have to see it.” We pulled into the driveway, and sitting in the back seat of her car, I was again stunned speechless. Every detail of that house looked exactly, uncannily like the house I had seen in the shower, even down to the white barn to left of the house. And when we walked inside, all the interior details I had seen in the shower were right there before my eyes in actual living color. I was totally freaked out. Scott was whispering to me, “Is this THE house?!?” and all I could do was nod like a zombie.

The story is way too long to tell here, but we ended up writing a personal letter to the owners, telling them some of the things God had shown us about this house (way more than just what it looked like), we offered to buy it at a ridiculously low price, and not only did they accept our low-ball offer, they agreed to finance it for three years! That was extremely helpful, as it can be, ahem, rather challenging to secure a loan from a bank when you have no income.  = )

We moved in on June 28, and six days later, on July 4, we hosted a big cookout for all our new neighbors. So much for unpacking gradually, setting up housekeeping, and easing into rural Missouri life!

Our kids were 6, 4, 2, and -3. They have grown up in Walnut Shade with trees to climb and read in, the post office next door, Triple Oak Landing, outside play time, a  thirty-minute video when it rained, the moo cow at the end of the road, the Indian house, kickball in the back yard, and plenty of swimming at Big Rock. It’s been a SUPER place to raise a family, and I am so very thankful to God that he chose to plant us squarely in downtown Walnut Shade in our big, big house, with lots and lots of room. It’s kind of hard to believe that we have lived here for twenty years – that’s two DECADES(!!!) – but we have, and I can honestly say that we have lived every one of those years fully. We are so very, very blessed.