The Genealogy Hobby and my English Ancestors

The cat sitting at the keyboard of the computer explains to the cat watching: “So far I’ve discovered I was in a litter of eight and my mother’s name was Fluffy.
– Contributed by Shirley O. to Cockney Ancestor #89 –

Genealogy can be an addictive hobby. I started tracing my family tree when we moved to England for a few years. Most of my grandparents came from England, so it was a wonderful opportunity to not only discover my roots, but see where those roots had been planted.

I can’t count how many times I took the train into London so that I could visit the various archives for information. On week-ends, my spousal unit and I would go sightseeing – often planning our destination so I could visit at least one cemetery on my research list. On one such trip, we visited the seaside town where my grandfathers family had been tradesmen. We saw the little old houses they would have lived in. We walked the streets that they would have walked.  We had lunch, and a pint, in a pub they would have frequented. It was just the best research day ever!

Montana – A Highway Motorcycle Ride

“I’m so far behind I think I’m first.”

My spousal unit used to say this when he got home from work,  in response to my query, “How did your day go?”

On our group motorcycle trips, my husband usually is the drag bike. On long stretches of  open highway, he sets his speed control and eventually ends up well back of the pack. He’s okay with that – he’s far enough behind to feel like he’s first… but still close enough to keep watch over the family.

Tractors – Big Deere, Little Deere

toy tractorWe have a few John Deeres in the family. The most hours are put on the one that keeps the lawn under control.  The second busiest tractor is probably the pedal car that the grandchildren drive when they come for a visit.

My husband usually mows the lawn. But now and then I take a turn. It is a simple job, that gives me a lot of time to think. What I have been thinking about this spring is our former neighbour up the road. She had a lawn tractor too, but it wasn’t a John Deere. Green was not her colour.

Her lawn tractor didn’t have a bagger on it, so she would hand rake the rows of grass that were left on her lawn. Then she would put the cuttings in a bucket and haul them into the woods, where she would scatter them.  When she got tired, she would turn the bucket over and sit on it for a while. She probably had about an acre of grass.

A few years ago, we had a lot of rain. Her grass got very long, and her tractor couldn’t cut it. My husband took our John Deere to her place, and mowed her lawn a few times. She was impressed with the fact that there was nothing left to rake. “It’s a mulching mower,” my husband said.

So she sent her son off to the local implement dealer to get her a new tractor. He had a rear bagger delivered to her. She used it once, then complained bitterly about how difficult it was to empty the bagger in the woods where she liked to scatter her grass. The mower went back, and a mulching mower took its place. She was back in business.

Except for the ditch. She was not comfortable with the new tractor on the steep sides of the ditch, so my husband mowed her ditch that summer. But the next summer, she trusted her tractor, and she was doing all her own mowing again. That summer she was 85 years old. The following spring, she passed away.

I’m near the end of todays mowing. The only part left is the ditch. I think about how much I don’t like mowing the ditch. It is deep and steep. I picture my neighbour as she navigated the ditch on her tractor. She inspires me to… go sit on an upended bucket for a while and think about whether I really want a cleanly mowed ditch.

How to Save Paint Brushes from Drying out Mid-Project

Sometimes when I am in the middle of a painting project, I don’t want to clean my paint brush until I am done. Sometimes being done means tomorrow, or the next day. Or, sometimes it is a month later if the Never Ending Reno is in progress…

  • I’ve tried wrapping my paint brush in clingy wrap, but the other day I ran out of cling wrap. So I popped the uncleaned wet paint brush into a small heavy duty zip lock bag. I scooted the brush over to one side and  zipped up the bag as close to the handle as I could.  Then I folded the empty part of the bag around the brush as many times as it would go. Lastly I used a twist tie to secure the bag around the handle. So far I’m on my fourth week of not being done, and the brush hasn’t dried out at all.
  • A similar process can be used for paint rollers. Lay the uncleaned wet roller on a square of cling wrap and wrap it up tightly. Pop the roller into a plastic bag, preferably the long plastic sleeve that new roller refills come it. Secure the open end with a twist tie.
  • Lastly, the paint in a paint tray can also be saved for later. Lay cling wrap right over the surface of the paint in the tray.  Pop the entire tray into a plastic kitchen catcher size bag, and secure the open end with a twist tie.
Paint tray lined with Glad Press’n Seal Wrap

I purchased several teflon coated paint trays because I don’t like cleaning paint trays. After I am finished painting, I leave a fairly thick coat of paint in the tray, and let it dry. Once well dried, the paint peels right off the tray. If the paint coat is too thin, it is more work to peel it off.

If you don’t want to buy teflon coated trays, then line the paint tray with Glad Press’n Seal Wrap. Press it down tightly, especially along a seam. When you are finished painting, let the paint dry, then peel off the Press’n Seal Wrap.

Fly Proof Your House

I have two coats of paint to apply to the walls today in order to see some progress on a renovation that was started in January. This renovation is a continuation of last years project, which took  two and a half months. And this was a continuation of a project the year before, which took most of the summer.

There were two goals to doing this work. From my husbands perspective, we were going to make this house less drafty, and therefore reduce fuel consumption. Note, I said reduce consumption, not reduce cost. From my perspective, we were going to banish house flies from ever entering the house again.

House flies might seem like a minor inconvenience, but when 30 or 40 of them are buzzing around  the room every day, sitting on my supper, and batting themselves silly inside lamp shades at night, they are a real pain.

The first year, The Car Guy bought several cases of sealer, and went around the outside of the house filling every crack and cranny he could find. There was no appreciable difference in the fly population, but it likely helped the draft situation. The next year, we started addressing the problem from the inside, and started with the family room. We removed all the tongue and groove pine wall boards, vapor barrier and insulation. When we identified the places where flies and mice were obviously entering, we filled the holes. Then, we reinstalled the insulation, vapor barrier, and drywall. (And caulked the windows, put down new flooring, replaced the old bar cabinets, etc, etc.)

We were so pleased with the result of this project, that this year we are doing the same thing to the dining room, living room, front entry, stairs, and hallway. We didn’t find any places where the “mickey’s” are coming in, but found a few more crevices that were being used by the flies. Fly be Gone – and now they are. It is wonderful.

There are a few of lifes little unanswered questions in this story. We don’t have any more flies coming into the house, but we also have very few flies outside, either. Is it because they don’t hang around houses that they can’t get into? Or is it because fly populations swell and crash for some reason? Will we ever be completely finished any reno project before we start another one?  How many years from now will the next owner of this house tear off the baseboards in the living room and say, “Oh look, this wall was once painted Autumn Leaf!”?