Monday, April 23, 2007

Fixing stuff

When we moved everything out of the living room to make way for the floor refinishing, the stereo had locked up four CDs and would not open up. So I just put it in the back room and called Sony. No, of course they couldn't tell me what was wrong. They are only prepared for such problems as "Is the unit plugged in?" Finally they recommended a repair shop in Big Flat City 50 miles to the south of us. Hmmmph.

That was several weeks ago. Last Saturday, the Cat and I made a spontaneous decision to go into BFC for something else. And clever me, I brought the stereo along. We managed to reach the repair shop 15 minutes before closing time. Well, that's the good news. The reality is that the diagnostic would cost $45 and if they actually made a repair, it would cost a minimum of $95 for labor. Now this particular unit cost us $180 at Wally World three years ago. I gathered up my unit and left in a huff. Well, actually we left in the van. "Let's just go buy a new one," I said. "Then I will disassemble this one to remove the trapped CDs."

We went shopping here and there, finally finding the other stuff we originally went to BFC for. Then we went to Best Buy looking for a stereo. The ideal would be to find a CD changer that we could plug into the old unit since the radio and tape player still worked. But that was not to be. We picked out a unit and found a salesman. But the unit on display was the only one in the store. I noticed a tag on the shelf for a 5 CD unit on clearance for $19. Yeah, nineteen bucks. But there was no model on the shelf. The salesman was intrigued enough to go searching around the store for it. Sure enough, there were two boxes left. For an extra $6 we got a replacement warranty, so if the cheapo unit breaks in two years or less, they'll send us a new one.

So when we got home, the first order of business was to activate the new stereo. Hey, it not only worked but it has a storage space for 6 CDs. Then I got out my screwdrivers and assaulted the Sony. This is what it looked like when I finally got the CDs out of it. Only the back was still attached to the frame. But they are good CDs, so it was worth it.

Amazingly enough, I was able to put the thing back together. And, wonder of wonders, now the CD changer actually opens like it was supposed to. I hooked up a speaker and tried out a crummy CD. Hey! It worked! Now the good old Sony is back in its place and the new stereo is in our bedroom. We can use the remote to turn on CDs from our bed. This worked out a LOT better than anticipated! Here's the Sony back in the entertainment center. I sure hope that the metal plate and the handful of screws that I have left over don't really affect the performance.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A week later and it may snow again

The resurfacing of our living room floor was (and continues to be) quite interruptive. The computer is in a room on the side of the house without an external door. While the living room floor was drying we could not cross it. So we have been living in half the house. The kitchen still has living room furniture in it as it will until Monday. You see, the workers made a mess of the floor and had to re-sand it, re-stain it (actually I did that part), and put on two more coats of polyurethane, buffing between coats. So the job that was to take two or three days has taken a week.

The floor does look nice now: the color is good, the surface relatively smooth, and it is dry. Once the furniture returns it will look quite nice. But I must put down some trim and paint some scratched places before that can be done. So this weekend we will not be going to central Texas for a friend's daughter's wedding after all. Besides, Cat has to work tomorrow and Sunday since her job is with an accounting firm. Taxes, you know.

When it snowed last weekend, I had covered the peonies to protect them from freezing. Ther is the possibility of light snow tonight, but I think that the flowers will be all right. The tulips had pretty well reached their seniority even before the snow. They still have blooms, but they are tired old ladies now, gaudy in color, but losing their form.

I know that Easter is over. Here's the extent of our decorations for the season: pastel rabbits. In the kitchen. With everything else.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Yeah, it snowed

As predicted yesterday, it snowed overnight. Here is what tulips look like after a two-inch snowfall. There has been a little snow coming down this morning, but now that the temperature has warmed up to a degree below freezing, the streets are wet but clear of snow.

If you did not read the previous post, do so and then come back to these photos. They will make more sense that way.

Here's our kitchen filled with couches and an entertainment center. See the dark area on the top of the front couch? That's where the dust has been wiped off. Oh, yeah, there's a fine layer of dust throughout the house, but mostly in the kitchen. We will be washing everything we cook with and eat from before and after using.

Here is an example of the interruptive flooring pattern. The area to the bottom left was in the old sitting room. The top left is from the old dining room and straight ahead is the former hallway leading from the front door. Cat had hoped that the sanding and staining would make everything the same color, but there are some dark areas (from the stains left be previous owners) and light areas (from my piecing in new wood). Well, it's old and I suppose I have some light and dark areas that will not go away as well.

Here's the way that the whole living room looks now, solemnly awaiting the restoration of pictures and furniture.

Friday, April 06, 2007

My excuse this time

The house in which we live is about fifty years old and has wood floors in the original parts of the house. As we discovered when we removed the carpet in the living room, the house used to have a different structure. When first built, the entryway opened into a hall with a door straight ahead leading to a sitting room. To the right was a door leading to a dining room with built-in cabinets (china hutch?) on the south wall. This would have been a tiny dining room, allowing for no more than six people.

When someone along the way decided to remove the interior walls to create one large room of the two small ones and the hall, rather than replacing the vacated wall plates (bottom 2 X 4s) with oak, they just nailed in some scrap wood and laid carpet. When we made the decision to rip out the carpet, I removed the scrap wood and pieced in oak planks. There were also several squares in the floor where an oil burning heater had vents and these had to be pieced in as well. That was about three years ago (um, okay, maybe four or five). Anyway, we just never got around to sanding the floor and refinishing it.

Several weeks ago, I got a carpenter to agree to send his team to the house to do this task. Scheduling was a problem due to the fact that I would be gone to Galveston for a week (see posting below). So we finally agreed on Wednesday, April 4, as a start date. That meant that I had to move ALL the furniture and books and artwork and memorabilia somewhere else. Just packing up the rocks and elephants occupied Cat for a couple of days. Her back is hurting, so I pushed around all the furniture BY MYSELF. On Wednesday morning, I called the floor guy to find out when he would arrive. "Um, early afternoon," he said. Great, I would just wait for him after lunch.

It was about 1:45 when I realized that we had voicemail. You know, don't you? He couldn't come until the next day at noon. Did I mention that the entertainment center and two couches are stuffed into our kitchen? We can still get to the refrigerator so it's been cereal for breakfast and eating out for dinner. That's my excuse for not posting earlier.

Today (Friday), they got the stain on the floor and the house smells like petroleum distillates. Tomorrow (we fervently hope) will be polyurethane day. Cat and I may just go to a hotel over Easter weekend. If you have observed the weather reports, you will know that snow is predicted for tomorrow. Yes, April snow in West Texas. Tomorrow, before the workers arrive, I will take some photos and post them whenever I can get back to the computer (located in a room on the other side of the living room). Then you will see what I mean.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Catching up

I was gone all last week and had limited computer access. I was attending a conference on distance learning; the sessions were interesting and the people were very friendly (this was, after all, the Texas Distance Learning Association conference). I met several people who are Christians and were quite interested in our Kenya project. In fact, one lady got to the point that she started crying when I talked about it just because she is struggling with what God wants her to do in her life. She has already started a cowboy church service in El Paso, but feels that there has to be more that God has in mind for her.

The speakers at this conference generally got straight to the point without wasting a lot of our time convincing us that the theory was sound. You can read my notes at eLearning if you are interested. I will be adding to them over the next week. During Tuesday's general session, one of my new buddies volunteered me to respond to the keynote speaker, so I got to talk to all 800 participants. That was cool. And I met some people I had only known through email and phone conversations before. One of them turned out to have gotten his Master's degree from the University of Texas in French linguistics. So did I. And he participated in UT's exchange program with the Université de Nice. So did I! In fact he was the last one to participate in the program before the French folks changed the program.

While I was gone, the tulips in our yard started blooming. They are stronger this year than last. Maybe it is due to the prodigious rain we have had. Anyway, they are lovely and have a delightful aroma. I will be posting more flower pix as the season wears on.