Tuesday, January 31, 2006


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Sledge hammer waiting to be worked

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Before: the infamous "baptismal font"

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A work in progress.....stay tuned

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Crew works while the contractor rests and eats!

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Doorway to bedroom enlarges to become the OLD door to the garage

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Demolition Day(s) Begin(s)

Well.....it has finally started!!!!!! By 7:30 this morning the crew was arriving and shortly afterwards the claw hammers were working and the dust was quickly covering any and everything that was not under cloths and blankets......(like me!). I must admit.....it IS exciting to see the entire three rooms being pulled apart.....and the studs and insulation being exposed.....doors being removed and except for one door, being put on the trash heap, lights coming down, closet racks being dismantled, and the old paneling being ripped to shreds.

Ceiling tiles began falling this afternoon as we needed to see if there was any room to be able to raise the ceiling a few inches...or more. The old wall furnace, which has not been needed for years came out...AFTER the natural gas was shut off. THANK GOD....we were not planning on keeping the carpeting in any of the rooms.....hahaha!!

I will post a few before and almost after pictures as of now: 2:49pm CST. More later this evening......


Well....LOTS of progress in the demolition stage for our bedroom and family room and closet and connection to the living room!!! Walls are almost gone...ceiling in the family room is gone....new doorway from the family room to the living room has been almost completely opened....and the walls are only studs and insulation.

Oh yeah......lots of dust, insulation, and dust and dust and dust. But.....it is finally happening. I managed to fix dinner tonight: sauteed some shrimp in olive oil and garlic, fixed some rice, steamed broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, marinated some Roma tomatoes in a bit of olive oil and sea salt.......and then I pulled all of these things together onto one large platter with the rice forming a bed for the veggies with the shrimp laying tastily on top of everything. VERY good!!!! And the colors in this dish are great......red, green cream, white, and the pink of the shrimp. Of course........a couple of glasses of the dark red medicine to compliment the many levels of flavors of the entire dish.

During the day I took the massive pile of discarded clothing to the resale shop for the Senor Nutrition Center. Received a donation form for the value of the clothes (??) for tax purposes. Then I stopped at the local lumber yard and looked at vanities again and talked about the costs of the shower surround. Off I went to Farmington to two other building supply places to inquire about the same items there. Must decide by tomorrow and get it ordered......hmmmmmm......and the 1st Lady can't make up her mind!!!! (nothing new for her).

Soooooo.....a very busy day.....and many more to come, so ....as usual:

Life is Great.....and I hope it is for all of you, also!

Monday, January 30, 2006

DAMN....my moving muscles are getting stiff tonight!

Oh yeah.......today was the day to move the heavy.....repeat: HEAVY.....furniture. THANK GOD....I had some great help from three wonderful friends....a neighbor and two former students of several years ago. I was up early and carrying out stacks of books, boxes, smaller furniture such as lights, small tables, etc., etc., etc. and etc.

They arrived before noon and we had a VERY tall solid wood bookcase that had to be moved....the king size bed, the 1st Lady's dresser, end tables, a heavy 36" tv and stand(which included the VCR, DVD, cable box, and Tivo box and all the cables/cords that were attached, some chairs, and moving two other sofas/love seats, another big chair, and then the grand piano...which had to be lifted and carried across the living room and re-positioned. Not certain which was the worst....the piano or the large tv!!

Then all afternoon I continued to move the "stuff" that was in the bedroom/closet and the tv room......all going to the garage or piled in the back garden room and in the den/office. It is a intense obstacle course now just to get to anything that is necessary: water the plants, get to the guest room and bed(ours for the duration of this construction phase). Impossible to even get to the back slider door that leads to the patio!!!

Sooo, as I sit here I am realizing as the minutes go by.....my muscles and legs are beginning to cramp.....hmmm, thought my weight lifting would not allow that to happen......guess I am not using all my lifting muscles during my exercising! Popped a couple of Excedrin awhile ago.....hope it helps soon!

Of course....the move of the tv/tivo.....screwed up the settings!! Not supposed to do that, BUT....it did!!! Still working on it..........hmmmm, seems I remember the amount of time it took to get it going back about a month ago.

Soooo, tomorrow the crew arrives and we will see their plan of attack. I have blankets and sheets to cover the items that need to be "dust free"....if possible. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow...... Soooo, as usual,

Life is Great(even tho I am getting a bit sore).........and I hope it is "Great" for you, also.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

IKEA!!!!!!!!! WOW....WHAT a PLACE!!!

This morning we all had the deluxe continental breakfast on the mezzanine of our little "boutique" hotel....and it was very yummy!!! I would highly recommend the Comfort Inn and Suites at 15 East Ohio in downtown Chicago if you are looking for a very, convenient little hotel.......it was small, very clean, and the decor was really cool. The price??? Well, keep in mind that nothing in the city center is cheap in Chicago.....but for our one queen bed, a great bathroom and the wonderful breakfast.....we paid $119 plus taxes. We four were really pleased with this and will use this hotel again on our future visits.

Soooo.....where was the majority of the day spent??? IKEA!!!! And if you are not familiar with this incredible and very HUGE store, then look it up on the web and get yourself to one whenever you are close to one of them! The are a home furnishing store with.....well, you name it, and most likely you will find it there. From furniture for all rooms to kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, dishes, rugs, artwork, blinds, kids' furnishings,....the list goes on and on and on. We spent almost 5 hours there....and felt like we had simply run through the two floors of this really, really HUGE store. They have two great little cafes serving everything from soup and salads to salmon, swedish meatballs, and chinese food. Oh......this store comes from Sweden......the entire store!!!!

I visited one last year when I was out in Phoenix for a couple of weeks....and could hardly wait for the 1st Lady to see one.......and OMG....was she ever excited about this store!!!!! We may change our minds on our kitchen cabinets and go up and get them up at the SW Chicago store. Now.....you really should like modern contemporary furnishings....because you won't find country, or traditional, or ornate furniture there. It is Swedish and very clean lines and nothing overdone. WE LOVE IT!!!! Did I mention the prices???? REALLY inexpensive in comparison to other furniture stores....or cabinets, or whatever else they sell. Just hard to believe you can get such wonderful pieces for such a small price!!!! Give it a look: IKEA

We left the store around 4pm and after about three stops, including one of 30 minutes......the 1st Lady and I arrived back just before 10pm. We spent the 30 minute stop at Andrew and Laura's new house......looking it over with great approval!! It was a really wonderful weekend trip......a super dinner last night.....a great hotel......and a great day at the IKEA store today.

Soooo, now tomorrow is furniture moving day for me...and those that plan to assist me. Not an easy task as there just seems to be sooooooooo many little things that must be moved, stored carefully, and then remembering where I store them.....haha! Tuesday the project officially begins!!

In preparation for all of this......I will close for now, and as usual....

Life is GREAT.....and I hope it is for all of you, also!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Shopping on Michigan Avenue!!

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The line stretches around the corner!!!

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A bit closer.....

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1.5 hours....and waiting......

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And the wait continues to get wetter!!

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ALMOST to the door!!

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A toast to our final meal at The Berghoff!!

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Apple strudel for dessert!

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Andrew,Laura, and our not-so-German waiter

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Some German Band music!!

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View inside The Berghoff Cafe

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Andrew, Laura, and this Old Man

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An early morning……got my body out of the bed at 4AM this morning…..UNUSUAL for me to get up this early!!! We left at 5:20AM and arrived in Glen Carbon, IL to pick up Andrew Gipson and his fiance, leaving there at 7:30. We were in downtown Chicago by 11:40 and after checking in the Comfort Inn and Suites just two blocks from Michigan Avenue…..I parked the car in the garage, we got settled in, and then left for a walking tour of the Miracle Mile. It is such a wonderful city…and the city center/downtown is so vibrant and full of energy and wonderful aromas and so much to gawk at….buildings and people!!! I/WE LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We went in several stores…..mostly selling furniture/furnishings for the home. I then called The Berghoff to see see what time would be good to get there. HA….they said if we arrived after 4pm we would find ourselves standing in line for 2-3 hours……outside.

So…off we went back to the hotel to freshen up and change clothes. We then hailed a cab and went south on Michigan to get to The Berghoff. Wellllllll………upon arriving we saw this humongus line of people…….and finally found the end of the line around the corner on another street. The restaurant is in the middle of the city block……sooooo, you can see how long the line was. Soon it began to drizzle and then…..rain!! But, thinking ahead as we had done……we had the trusty little umbrellas that we had brought on the trip. Sooooo….we stood……and stood…..and then took a few steps…..and stood and stood. Then some street musicians began to play their horns…..in the rain…..so we did have live music to entertain us. Two hours and fifteen minutes after getting out of the taxi we arrive at the door to The Berghoff!! By this time the 1st Lady and Laura had gone across the street to a Walgreens Drug to get out of the rain and get warm…..so when we did get to the door I ran across the street and brought them back to the line.

We then stood inside in a line for another 20-30 minutes before we were seated. We had chatted with others in the line during the lengthy wait…..and two of the three people in front of us were from Kansas City…and had flown into Chicago this morning….just to eat dinner at The Berghoff!! The other gentleman had come from South Carolina to have dinner. Then as we talked with others, an older couple had arrived by train this morning from Washington, D.C……just to have dinner here and then were returning tomorrow to D.C.!!!

We were seated and ordered mugs of their wonderful home made brew….I LOVE the dark beer…..soooo good with tastes of caramel in it. I order Sauerbraten, and the other three all had variations of the Schnitzel…..both veal and chicken. For an appetizer I had a pear salad with blue cheese crumbles in it……wonderful….omg it was good!!!! Andrew had two different types of bratwurst with saurkraut and wonderful hot potato salad on the side. Oh…..they served the most wonderful home made breads with the beer…….just sooooo damn good!!!! The entré was more than worth the almost three hours of waiting…..plus the drive up here………what wonderful food they serve.

We took pictures inside and then others wanted me to take their pictures and email to them. Everyone we visited with was sooooo sad to know that this would be their last time to eat in this fabulous Chicago eatery……a 107 year tradition!

To top off the meal we ordered apple strudel with ice cream on top………fantastic!!!! Andrew and I order hot coffee……..it is soooo dark and rich….very much a European coffee. As we had dessert, a German band with a great tuba player began to play in our room of the restaurant…..dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing. It just added to the sparkle and excitement of the evening there……..WOW!!!!

As we left…..the line was longer than ever…we never saw the end of it around the block. Good think we arrived at 3pm……who knows how long we would have had to wait……but never mind the time spent standing…….it was an evening of the most fabulous German cuisine in a marvelous German setting with great Bavarian music.

We then decided to walk off the heavy meal…..and found ourselves walking back up Michigan and to the hotel. We decided to walk a bit more and went to a couple of other Chicago restaurants to look in on them……..The Rainforest Café….the Hardrock Café, and the newly redone two story McDonald’s with specialty coffees and gelato being served there. A quick trip to Starbucks for a nightcap cappaccino and it was back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation.

A day that we will long remember…..both with memories of the wonderful food and for the sadness of knowing that this great restaurant will no longer be open after Feb. 28th. If any of you can get there to eat………do it. You will be rewarded with having enjoyed a little part of the history of Chicago’s outstanding, excellent restaurants.

Sooooo, with a full stomach…..and a couple of aching feet, I will close and as always……

LIFE IS GREAT!!!!! And….I hope it is for all of you, also!!! Get to The Berghoff Café!!!!

Friday, January 27, 2006

It can't get much busier.....(can it?)

Today.....wow!!! I dashed to Farmington to get some prices from the building supply stores, etc.,.....and then back home. Then it was hell bent for leather to get my shoes, clothes, whatever....out of the closet and most of it into storage in TheHowserHouse. Spent the entire day working on the three rooms and closet that has to be ready for the crew that will arrive on Tuesday. STILL LOTS TO DO.....but I can see my way thru the mess now.....will just have to wait until Monday for some muscle help for moving some of the larger pieces of furniture.

The 1st Lady came home from school and we dashed to the local lumber business to check on some vanities for the new bathroom. Think we settled on one........a compromise for us. Now....to finish next week on getting a shower stall...walk-in shower without a bathtub.

Really tired this evening.....yesterday it was get EVERYTHING in place for the sorority crew.....and now everything that was in place is now out of place after moving sooooo much today!!! But.....so bit it!!!

Leaving at 5:30AM in the morning for the Windy City. Looks like the house will be occupied a couple of hours after we leave.....by Dr. Jeni and family. They have some business down here and so will be staying in the mess of a house that we are leaving!!! HAHAHA....tooo bad.

Soooo, will close for now and finish getting some last minutes items taken care of. Even though my body is crying out in pain from all of the carrying and lifting today......

Life is Great.....and I hope it is for all of you, also.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

An even busier day!!!!

Yesterday I wrote about such a busy day that I had.....and in the process neglected to mention a very important fact......a very important part of my Life......having an hour and a cappuccino with Michael Goldsmith....the former student of mine who was my replacement when I retired almost FIVE years ago. It was a great visit.....since it had been weeks since we had found the compatible time to get together....we wished each other a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays!!! There is always sooooo much to talk about when we are together.....and there is NEVER enough time to fully discuss the family news, our lives, and our thoughts on the status of the world......it always seems like being served an appetizer when it should have been large enough for the main course. Ahhhh....isn't Life like that always.....just never enough time to do all that you wish you could do......soooo, you just keep going back for more.

Today....well, our stick/brick HowserHouse is squeaky clean.....thanks to this sagging 62 year old guy. I was on my knees actually scrubbing the floor in the kitchen, dusting all the crap we have sitting around, sucking up the dirt on the carpets, washing the counters, all of the containers on the counters, the microwave, etc., etc......oh yeah....polished the bathroom. About 5.5 hours of elbow grease was expended for this 1.5 hour sorority meeting at our house this evening........hmmmmm, and to think that tomorrow I begin pulling everything out of three rooms for the remodeling project. Before long the dust will be flying and landing with loud thuds on everything that is not covered.

I managed to sneak away to the local lumber company to check out their showers, glass doors, and vanities which they sell. Not sure if I will use them.....just depends on what I find in Farmington in the morning. I saw one that I rather liked....but the 1st Lady has to approve also....before I buy.

The evening's meeting here went well.........the 1st Lady, myself, and a few others put on a small little skit which is just hilarious. We saw it performed at our fall Cedar Creek RV Club rally last September, and so I got a copy of it, knowing that we could use it at some point in time. It was great fun performing it.....and one that EVERYONE really likes......and rolls on the floor laughing.

I have to make my reservations for Memphis, TN.....for the National Cedar Creek RV Owners Club national rally. It will be in April.....and much to my disppointment, the 1st Lady will not be able to go....she has a competition with one of her science teams that she "coaches". Sooooo, it will be just me in TheHowserHouse on wheels for a few days just outside Memphis.

As I stated above......this was an even busier day than yesterday. Now....tomorrow???? Well......I should probably get started on tomorrow RIGHT NOW!!! Won't get it all done.....I know. I still have to line up some guys who can give me a hand....well,....several hands....when it comes time to lifet the grand piano and carry it from the living room into the dining room. I will NOT roll it across our hardwood floors.....nooooo way!!

But.....not matter how busy I am......

Life IS Great......and I hope it is for all of you, also!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And...it will get busier!!

Yep.....our remodeling project(s) will begin Tuesday of next week. Our contractor was here this evening and he is ready to begin the "demolition" part of the bedroom/family room/living room with the addition of the bathroom. BUT.....I/we have mucho, mucho to do before Tuesday.....moving out of half of the house!!!! And.....we can't begin tomorrow as the 1st Lady has her sorority meeting at the house tomorrow evening....about 20+ members. And therefore, I will have to do the cleaning and preparations for the meeting......and after it is over, then I can begin to start the moving process.

I need to round up about 5 other guys to help lift the grand piano and carry it across the hardwood floor and into the dining area....temporarily. All of the bedroom furniture has to move, EVERYTHING in the walk-in closet, and all of the furniture in the family/tv room. Oh where oh where is this all going to go? Oh where oh where will it go??? (please sing along)

And to think....we are going to Chicago for the weekend!!!!! I am exhausted just thinking about all of this......and I haven't purchased my hard hat and dust mask yet!!!

Sooooo, I have 20+ wine glasses to get washed...by hand....and other items to do tonight, sooooo....I think......

Life is Great.......and I certainly hope it is for all of you, also!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

TAKE me back to summer in the Tetons!!!!

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YES.....I am OK!!!!

WOW.....sooooo many have written to see if something had happened to me.....all because I didn't write a few lines of my thoughts last night!!! Hey.......all of you out there in the cyberspace we all share......THANKS for being so concerned. Had I been ill or something not-so-good had happened........well, it is nice to know that so many of you really care.

Yesterday was a day of almost absolutely nothing.....yep...nothing. There was not really anything happening in my life except.....breathing...and thank God, it continued all day and night. Soooo, when I awakened this morning, I decided I had better make something happen. Watched the Today Show as I sipped my steaming cup of Fr. Roast....the beans had just been ground by my dependable Krups coffee grinder.....and then I had a couple of errands to do, so I went out to the high school and sat in the teacher's lounge during the first lunch shift and visited with some of the faculty. After that......I was off to Farmington to get the oil changed on the 1st Lady's car......as we have a 800-900 mile weekend coming up.

Returning to F'town, I ran by the house for a few minutes and then I had a meeting at the Madison County Coffee Company. This is a rather new business....about 2 years old....and it continues to improve and thrive....much to my excited surprise! I would never have thought that soooo many here would pay the prices that specialty coffees cost, but.....they do....and that keeps the business going.....and for that I am very glad!!! As I said, I had a meeting....with the owner who has decided to run for Mayor of F'town. She wanted to pick my brain about campaigns.....and get my thoughts on these things, knowing that I had run for the Missouri House of Representatives in '04. So, we talked and thought and discussed the next two months.....and threw out some ideas to think about for her campaign and her possibilities of winning (which I hope she will!!).

The 1st Lady had to do her yearly duty of selling tickets at the high school basketball game, so she didn't get up here on the hill to the stick/brick HowserHouse until almost 8:30pm. I had TiVo'd American Idol so I ran it backwards to show her those that had been given the pass on to Hollywood. What a crew of untalented, but brazen young people there were at the auditions who, thank goodness, didn't make the cut.

Another little chore that I worked on this afternoon: returning to the walk-in closet and my tons of clothes that I haven't worn/used for a year or more and deciding exactly what I am going to do with them.......give them away or throw them away. The pile gets higher and heavier.......slacks, dress shirts(a bit faded) and many sweaters from years past that are no longer stylistic correct. Hmmmm, is that the correct way of saying it?? HAHA. I have not yet started on my collection of neckware/ties......and there are at least 150 of them hanging in there. THIS IS REAL DOWNSIZING!!!! Perhaps I need to give a few classes on just how to go about this task????

I am really getting concerned that I am becoming more and more hooked on some tv shows.....something I haven't done for......well,...years and years. Tonight.....we watched Boston Legal....which we have found ourselves watching for the past few weeks.....and each week, the hooks go in a little deeper. Pretty soon I will become a very LARGE couch potato!!!

It appears from the weather forecast that the weather in Chicago for this approaching weekend is going to be a COLD rain. But.......that will not stop this aging old man from enjoying the Miracle Mile/Michigan Avenue....and the wonderful German cuisine on Saturday night. We made more plans for Sunday........to stop at the new IKEA store in the southern suburbs of Chicago. I went to the store in Phoenix last year.....and it was really an exciting couple of hours......sooooooo damn much to see in those huge stores!!!!

Tomorrow........another meeting at the coffee shop in the city center of F'town. Then a scheduled meeting at 2pm with a group of local town shakers and movers concerning the upcoming spring election of city officials. Following that, my group of pupils will be here for there private music instruction.....and an hour later the contractor will be here to discuss the layout for our new bathroom. Soooo, all in all.....a very busy day for this "retired" sagging hulk of a former band director.

Again.......I appreciate all of you.....and as always,

Life IS Great......and I certainly hope it is for all of you, also!!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Day of No Decisions.....

After a leisurely breakfast of wonderful cinnimon(sp??) muffins prepared by Dr. Jeni.....the 1st Lady and I headed into the city...STL....to work on choosing and/or selecting items we need for the make-over and remodeling project on the house. WELL.......nothing was decided.....nothing was selected......and our tape measure certainly got a workout!!! BUT.....we took copious notes, drawings, measurements, and even took photos of many different items we will need to get. Nothing has jelled just yet for several necessary purchases, but we seem to be narrowing things down.....even though we need to be reducing the costs of this project....hahaa!!

Soooo, it was after 8pm when we returned to our house on the hill.......exhausted!!!!! After many hours we seemed to be on meltdown from soooo much overloaded information on kitchen cabinets, counter tops, lights, bathroom fixtures, plasma tvs, new furniture, colors, fabrics, etc., etc. etc. My mind is still drowning with mental pictures of all of these ideas.......it is difficult to even create a few sentences for this little blog.

At the beginning we entered the stores and shops full of eagerness to see everything that is available.......but it didn't seem to take long until we were becoming more and more confused by the myriad of choices for everything we needed, not to mention being overwhelmed by some of the outlandish prices on some items. Then frustrations set in as we began to add up the costs......which were growing each time we rounded a corner in a store or went up another aisle. UGH!!!!

Oh well.......we are not building a show room.......just a simple re-d0 of our simple little stick and brick HowserHouse. THAT is what we must keep in the forefront of our minds......or at least try.....hahaha!!!

Soooo, with ALL of my creative juices drained into the little toe on each foot, I will close this and.......once again, even after a very exhausting and frustrating day.......

Life IS Great......and I hope for all of you, also!