21 Nov 2011, 4:43pm

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Porch Renovation 7


The builder was here on Monday to do some more work on the cement stair removal. Tuesday, the trusses were delivered from Santelli Lumber and, on Wednesday, around 2:30 PM, the framers started there work.  The architect stopped in to use one of our blue prints to be sure the framers knew where to put things.

Thursday  afternoon, Dave and I went to watch Tyler swim for Pal-Mac in his first Modified Swim Meet.  He did well, as he finished both of his races and he wasn’t last, either.  The framers started in on the wall structures while we were not home.

On Friday,  the framers were here in force and by the end of the day, the walls were up, as well as the west end gable.  The architect stopped in for a chat.  He said that having the gravel in the tub and powder rooms was good, even though it made a little more work for the plumber.  This way there won’t be any sagging from the gravel settling under the soil pipe.

14 Nov 2011, 2:37pm

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Racing in the Rain

Our Craft of Writing

By Kate Chamberlin

We know that to be a writer, you must write and re-write.  You also must read and re-read.  I

suggest that “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein is an excellent book to read first for the enjoyment of the story.  Then, after you’ve composed yourself , re-read it to study the craft of writing.

In a nut shell, the story conveys “…life, like racing, isn’t just about going fast. Having learned from his master, Denny Swift, what it takes to be a  compassionate and successful person,  the wise canine, Enzo, can barely wait until his next life-time, when he is sure he will return  as a man.”

The story is “…A heart-wrenching, but deeply funny,  and ultimately up-lifting  story of family, loyalty,  and hope….a look at the wonders and absurdities of life as only a dog could tell it.”

When you re-read the story, note how the characters are developed, what actions compel you to like or dislike them;  the fore-shadowing to set up tension, drama, and suspense, not to mention emotion;  the handling of flash-backs that are logical rather than confusing; the use of metaphors;  the use of repetition of certain phrases throughout the story; as well as many other techniques to bring the story to its conclusion.

“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein ; read by Peter Gannum, October, 2008  RC66787; Bright White Light, llc/Harper Collins Publisher;  321 pages.  www.artofracingintherain.com.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this story and the craft of writing.

Kate Chamberlin

Author:  “The Night Search”, “Green Trillium”, “Charles and David”

Contributor:  “Behind Our Eyes, An Anthology…”

Staff editor:  Magnets and Ladders, An On-line Literary Magazine


13 Nov 2011, 2:52pm

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Porch Renovation 6


Soon after the original porch and patio were built in 1977,  we added cement steps from the north side of the patio down to the small brick patio just outside the family room door.  We used big rocks and many bags of Sakrete  and planted ground covers on each side.

When the “west wing” was added in 1981,  these steps were blocked, so we filled the area between the west wing and the cement patio with dirt and planted a garden and a globe arborvitae in the corner.  As plants tend to do,  everything got too big for the area and we wanted more patio space.  The garden became topped with cement patio blocks.  Very low maintenance and more space for chairs and the gas grill.

Now, however, the sewer line for the new powder room needs the way cleared to go into the basement.  The plumber wants to join the new line into the old cast-iron pipe with a  “y” joint.  To make a long story short, the builder spent two and a half hours on Tuesday afternoon applying a jack-hammer to our cement steps.  They are history.   Our Indian Summer might have ended last night.  We woke up this morning (Friday,  November 11, 2011) with frost over hill and dale, including our yard.

Since this is Veteran’s Day, I sent a  note to our son-in-law, Joe, a former Marine, to tell him how proud we are of him and his accomplishments.  Thank you, too, to all Veterans, including my husband, who served in the Army before we were married.

The weather from last Saturday until today was very nice bonus  days, which has come to an end.  It is cold with precipitation some where between snow and rain, so let’s call it snain.  This is, of course the day the builder has brought back the little caterpillar and is back filling the south wall and around the west and north sides of the new section.  The powder room and spa room sections are now filled with gravel and tamped down.  Our question is:  Shouldn’t the waste line from the powder room be laid down before the gravel?


8 Nov 2011, 4:29pm

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Porch Renovation 5


On Saturday at 8:15 AM, the mason backed is little mortar mixer into our turn-around and left, saying he’d be back at 10:00.  And he did, along with one helper.  They’d hoped to get the entire block foundation established that day; however, a second helper didn’t show up and they were still working at 7:00 PM.  We turned on the pool flood lights and aimed an indoor spot light out the glass door, but, they didn’t give much light, so the workers left with a promise to be back the next morning.  Sunday?  Right!

The mason and one helper showed up Sunday morning before Dave and I left for Church.  When we returned, they were gone and the foundation was complete.

We’d picked up John and Tyler after church, lunched at the Yellow Mills Restaurant, and brought them home to see the progress.  The boys were more impressed with the amount of mud and the Styrofoam cup of coffee one of the workers had left in the bottom of the deep trench.

Around 4:00 PM, the architect phoned to be sure the mason had covered the blocks to allay freezing or rain from getting inside the blocks.  They had not covered the blocks the night before, nor this morning.  Dave checked for any cracking in the mortar and covered the blocks with a  tarp the mason had left.  All was well.

Apparently, all was well on Monday and Tuesday, also, as no workers came.  The weather was crisp and cool, but sunny and dry  with a high of 62-degrees.

Tuesday evening, we went back to Crown Electric in Webster to check out their powder room vanities, sinks, toilets, and lighting.  Last week, we’d ordered the tile and wood layment flooring from Rochester Linoleum.  The builder only has to call them a week ahead of when he needs the materials and they’ll be delivered.

On Wednesday at 7:25 AM, I heard what turned out to be a compressor.  They sprayed a silver coat on the blocks where the mason had spread a layer of mortar.  Exploratory   holes were made with a hand shovel to pin-point the location of the sewer pipe that exits our home  from under the dining room.  They anticipate tying into that main pipe .  Later, in the afternoon, Peyton and I  sat outside enjoying the Indian Summer weather.

On Thursday, the builder stopped in to let me know he’d be using a  gun to attach rigid insulation to the cement block foundation.  The gun shoots nails into cement.

Late Friday afternoon, the builder phoned to ask if he could bring the plumbers   (Tom and Jeremy) in to show them the basement and where the big sewer pipe is.  Apparently, they have decided to run the pipe from the new powder room north along the porch and patio, bend around the corner and go east into the basement to attach it with a y-joint.  They want to run the water through “black pipe” across the porch pad into the powder room, rather than saw a  trrench line for copper piping.  The builder is going to check with the Town Building Inspector to be sure that is okay with him.

Inspector John

8 Nov 2011, 12:05pm

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Voting 2011

Voting 2011

My voting experience was so humiliating and frustrating  using the handicapped accessible voting machine last year, that I seriously debated whether or not I should even show up.  I lost sleep over my dilemma.

By morning, I was confident that I, at least,  knew what I was doing.  I’d studied the guidelines and discussions I’d had with Susan Cohen last year. It was time for a follow-up session to master the art of voting with the Image Cast Ballot Marking Device  (accessible voting machine).

I confidently marched in next to my guide dog and my husband.  I had printed out the guidelines and had brought a  tray with a soft pillow attached to the bottom.  Last year, the key pad kept slipping off my lap and this was one of the things I’d noted to be sure to bring.  I signed my own name in the correct box to register and asked if my psw (Poll Site Worker)  was available to assist me.  She and another PSW were at my station, readying the machine for me.  They had the monitor turned off.  The first “head-set” they handed me turned out to be to large, left and right push buttons to be held in the voter’s hands.  I calmly suggested that if I had to hold these up to my ears, I’d have no hands to operate the key pad.  The appropriate head-set was located and the guide’s synthesized voice flowed into my ears, enabling my fingers to operate the key pad. First barrier cleared.

The PSW noticed that the ballot in my privacy sleeve was printed on.  She took it back to the registration table and got a plain piece of paper.  Once my ballot is finalized, the whole ballot would be printed out.  Second barrier cleared.

The guide’s voice narrated me patiently through the entire ballot with clear, albeit, hesitancy, until I  pressed the “ballot  complete”.  Third barrier cleared.

The guide’s voice informed me to:  Poll Worker Assistance is needed for the printer”.  The fourth barrier stopped us in our tracks.  They phoned the County Election Office and was told to turn on the monitor.  I suggested that that would show my ballot and cancel the privacy issue.  There were several buttons (a green and a yellow) in front of me, but the PSWs admitted they didn’t know what they were for or how to get the printer to do it’s thing. Pushing the green button did not make it go.

Another call was put into the County.  After the first call, before I began voting, the “voting Machine Guru” got in his car and was on his way to our polling station.  It  occurred to me that I should make a date with him to meet at 6:00 AM next year to avoid the wait.

After a short discussion, he pulled up the printer top and extracted the crumpled up ballot.  There were only a few squiggly lines on it.  The PSW deposited it in the “damaged ballot box”  and got another piece of paper, inserted it, and hoped.  Meanwhile, I’m holding the privacy sleeve up to the slot where the printed ballot should come out.  The top of the sleeve was on top of the slot and the bottom of the sleeve was under the bottom edge of the slot.  The idea is for the printer to spit the completed ballot into the privacy sleeve privately.     We could hear the printer grab the paper and print, but no paper came sneaking into my privacy sleeve.  Off came the top of the printer.  One edge of the paper had caught in such a way as to print correctly, but scrunch up, instead of coming out.  The guru  snatched the ballot out of the jam and popped it into my “public receptacle”.   Oh well, the fifth barrier was sort of cleared.

I was escorted around to the slot on the other side, where everyone inserts their ballot.  My PSW lined me up, told me where to put my hands, and I slid my ballot in.  The machine sucked it in and kept it.  I promptly had a rush of exhilaration, as all the Polling Station Workers gave a huge   sigh of relief.  I think we all let go of the breath  we didn’t know we were holding.  Sixth barrier cleared.

This year’s voting experience was definitely better than last year’s.  I’m looking forward to an even better experience in 2012 for the National Presidential Election.


5 Nov 2011, 5:16am

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Star Spangled Banner

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

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