Saturday, December 27, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours.

Christmas Day the driveway was covered with about 5" of ice and snow. The day after Christmas the temperatures started to rise and all the ice started melting, creating a surface that is slippier than any I have ever known. Then the fog rolled in, followed by horrendous downpours during some pretty strong thunderstorms.

This is DECEMBER! In Illinois, south of Chicago, where we should be in the 20's and snowy. We were subzero then snow, then sleet and ice, then rain and storms. So this week we experienced all four seasons...kind of.

The rain seemed never-ending. Not only does it cause all the snow to dissolve and create puddles and massive flooding in some areas, it fills up my duct work. Our house is on a floating slab and the heating ducts are under the house, in the ground. This was the way they did it in the 60's when the house was built. So seepage fills the duct work, and then when the furnace kicks on, it causes the water to slosh and roll around, at times splashing out of the vents and onto the floor.

This is what woke me up at 3am, so I turned the thermostat down in the hopes it would shut the furnace off and give me peace and quiet so I could sleep. Didn't happen; the furnace didn't shut off. Seemed odd since it was about 55 outside at the time and it was quite warm in the house. So, I woke my husband up and asked him to check it out. He had to shut the furnace off completely.

Later this morning, after we were finally able to get some sleep, what with the rumbling in the floor from water sloshing in the duct work and the rumbles outside from the thunderstorm, my son checked the furnace and discovered that the hot surface ignitor was malfunctioning. That explained why the furnace wouldn't shut down last night and why the blower was at such a high speed and caused the water to really slosh around.

So, we spent all morning and part of the afternoon trying to find someplace that had the part for the furnace. The problem we had was that it's an American Standard furnace and they are proprietary and not many supply houses (that are open on Saturday) carry the part we needed. Finally, after a dozen or so phone calls, and running to 4 different supply houses in 3 different towns, we found the one we needed. Then it was back home and put it in. Just in time too, since they are calling for colder weather tomorrow.

We were lucky on several counts with this. First of all, the temperature today was close to 65 and second, a friend of my husband was finally able to locate the part for us. It was either a coincidence or pure luck that this friend also called my husband for help with a refrigeration job that he was on at the same time we were looking for this part. That was when he asked him if he knew anyone that might have it. Either way, everything worked out for everyone.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Memory Wire Is Wonderful!!

I discovered memory wire a few weeks ago and finally got around to creating with it. I love it! No more worrying about how long the bracelet is; a few loops and it's one size fits all.

What I really like about it is the fact that there is no need for crimps or clasps. I started out with the intention of using the little silverplate balls that get glued to the end of the memory wire, but didn't feel confident that they would hold, so I opted for turning the wire at the end. This also gives the possibility of having a charm added to the loop for an added accent.

I just listed two bracelets made with the memory wire along with another bracelet made with 49 strand beading wire, toggle clasp, and crimps.

Check them out:

Cloissone and pearl bracelet made with silverplate memory wire - 3 full loops

Cobalt cloissone and druk bead bracelet made with beading wire and silverplate toggle clasp

Semi-precious fluorite bracelet and earrings made with silverplate memory wire - 2 loops

Friday, December 5, 2008

Yes Virginia, There Really IS A Silver Lining

Of all days, yesterday was not the day for one more thing to hit the fan, literally.
Busy as all get out at work, job bids due left and right, phone ringing off the hook, barely time to, well, visit my "aunt".

Then, when I finally get out of the office at 4pm, looking forward to getting home and putting my feet up, I'm driving home and my truck starts smelling hot. The temp gauge was normal but the battery gauge was low, then the temp gauge started dropping and the battery gauge started increasing. I was sitting in traffic, saw steam swirling in front of me but thought it was the exhaust from the truck in front of me. All this time I was smelling what I can only describe as burnt celery. The celery and hot smell stopped, or diminished, once traffic started moving again. I pulled over, looked around my truck, didn't see anything unsual so I continued on my journey home.

I must have driven another 3 miles when the hot odor came back. When I stopped for a red light, the steam swirling in front of me seemed to be originating from the sides of the hood, then the gauges started acting goofy again. I still had heat and nothing seemed to be drastically out of line so I kept on keeping on.

Another half mile or so and I'm sitting on the I55 overpass in traffic, waiting for the light to change. Then it hit me, along with the most horrible smell like burnt celery, along with the puffing steam coming out from under my hood. I was overheating! It's 16F with a windchill of almost zero, and I'm overheating! I didn't want to be the traffic report that has Weber
Rd backed up for miles because of a breakdown in the right lane on the 2-lane overpass, so I pulled off in the Gas City and called my husband. He came up there, opened the hood, and lo and behold, something had sprayed all over the engine compartment, most likely antifreeze. That was the burnt celery odor. I went into the Gas City to get antifreeze and water, and he refilled the radiator and drove my truck home while I drove his. Once home, he had more light and was able to determine that the water pump had blown a seal. (visualize $$$ flying away)

Now for the silver lining...We knew we had the pump replaced about 5 years ago while vacationing in St Louis. Upon looking through the book in the glovebox where we stashed all the repair and maintenance receipts and old user manuals for non-existent computer backup tape drives (don't ask LOL), the receipt for the water pump was no where to be found. Ok, so we would probably end up buying one as opposed to taking advantage of the lifetime warranty that was on this one.

Today he called the parts place in St Louis where we bought the water pump. Using our old cell phone number and the vehicle info, they were able to locate the original sale information. They gave my husband a number to call, and we are now getting a FREE replacement for the water pump. YIPPEE!! Now the only thing left to do is hope for warmer weather on Saturday so he can change it in the garage without freezing his patootie off. But my son and a friend of ours will try to acquire a small portable heater for the day so he has some heat in there.

All this after we just put close to $900 in the truck for front end work! But it's my baby, and even tho it's 10 years old, I still won't part with it.

I think I'll make cookies Saturday!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Variation On A Theme

Every Christmas for the last 10 years or so, my sister and brother and I, and our spouses, have had a grab bag in lieu of buying gifts for everyone. We started out by drawing names and buying a gift for the person whose name we picked. There weren't too many rules, just that you couldn't pick yourself or your spouse, and started with a maximum of $20 to spend on the gift. We have brought the max up to $25 now, and have made changes to the way the gifts are selected.

For the first few years we wrote our name on a piece of paper, and a list of 3 things that we would like. This made it easy, but not challenging. Then we decided to write our name on a piece of paper and a single theme for the gift, such as food, liqour, something warm, etc. The possibilities were endless. One year we made a rule that no gift cards, since that was too easy.

One year we had one rule...the gift had to be a "gag" gift. That was the last year for that one!

This year, my sister, not I, came up with an idea for gifts..."Make it or bake it". Since not everyone in the grab bag is the creative or cooking type, I added that it could be something that was handmade as opposed to being mass produced. This could be something from a kiosk in the mall, which there are no shortage of but many of the items are handmade. There are also a lot of Christmas craft fairs at the different schools, churches, and park districts in the area. I added that there were numerous kits to be had at Michaels, Joann Fabrics, etc., that even the guys could create from!

The funny part of the suggestion when it was announced after Thanksgiving dinner as we always do, was they all that it was my idea! I plan on making everyone a little something, such as a key chain or phone charm, but I am still contemplating what I will make my intended recipient.
Sorry, I can't reveal who it is, that has to remain a secret until Christmas Day. But my sister usually figures out who has who by process of elimination, and she only needs to know who she has to do this, although now that my son and nieces and nephews are getting older and have jobs and will be involved with the grab bag, I have a feeling it won't be so easy to figure out who has who!

It will be interesting to see what everyone comes up with for their gift. Almost makes me feel like a little kid anticipating what Santa might leave under the tree!