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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at Home

My dear friend Tom, who arranged for me to be invited into his son’s Fantasy Football Leagu (more fun than I ever imagined) challenged me in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  When I watched his son’s video which included his two young daughters, I knew I had to give my younger grandson the chance to get in on this and to challenge his older cousin.

Those of us who have known someone with ALS know how insidious and evil this disease is.  Please consider donating to ALS research.  Even consider that I have also challenged you to the challenge.  If you do accept it (and who wouldn’t in this weather in the South), you can challenge anyone you wish–friend or enemy.  It was fun.  Here’s our video:


The Good News!!!!

I am a knitter.

There is so much power in those words.  A few minutes on ravelry.com, a home to over 4,000,000 knitters worldwide, will convince you of that.

Knitters help other knitters, period.  We just do.

So here is my good news.Janis

Janis, knitter, podcaster, and ARCHITECT, came over for me to help her fit her new wonderful sweater. (See above.)  We were not close friends, just acquaintances who knit together on Wednesday and share a love of Frank Gehry’s buildings. (We are a lot closer now.)

I asked her to look at the construction of the deck just so I could tell Todd Cahill of Southend Painting and Roofing that I had had an architect look at it.  She took one glance and said, “Get pen and paper.  We’re making a list.”  And we did.  That night Janis brought another architect by to see the mess.  He verified all she had said and took pictures.  He wanted to show it to a colleague.  He had never seen cedar shakes four layers thick.  Both of them were truly stunned at the quality of the job.

We also had John come by and look it over, He remodeled my kitchen with Sue Ferguson, an interior designer, and it is perfect.  He said to fire the contractor and start again.  I ran our proposed settlement offer by him which he thought was overly generous.

Then Janis steps in again and says she can put me in touch with a good contractor who can fix things and give me what I want.  I didn’t really want anything but to be weatherproof at this point.  She made me talk about what I had planned and then she drew plans for me.  She told me she would meet with the contractor to make sure he understood what I wanted.  She would also drop by when the work started just to keep an eye on things.  She offered this without fee or conditions or anything.

Janis is a knitter.

This is what knitter’s do when other knitters are in trouble.  They help.  They offer whatever skills or materials or time they have and they help.  I have seen it in person and online.  If a knitter’s house burns down, someone organizes a yarn gifting and before you know it, there is a warehouse full.  That knitter will have to have yarn to knit through the stress.

I was so beaten down by the stress of some family issues and then this abusive man,  I could no longer function.  I needed help.  The comments on my blog are just a few of the offers I received.  Debbie offered massages.  Jennifer, prayers.  Naomi lessons to remember for next time.

Janis and John will need to be paid.  They are professionals and it is the right thing to do.  However, Janis may receive payment in a particularly creative way.  That will be another good news story.

If you are a knitter, check out http://www.carolinafibergirls.com for Janis and Ann’s Podcasts.  Even if you don’t knit, check it out.  They are “good people” as we say in the southern US.  On ravelry the group is Carolina Fiber Girls.

Lots of good info there.

More good news later–

Excellent Quality Work Defined

If you have not read the comment naomi posted on the previous entry, please go back and do so.  She gives us all some excellent advice and information.

Throughout this ordeal with Southend Painting and Roofing, the owner, Todd Cahill, constantly told me that his crew was doing “excellent quality” work.  In truth the crew was a dedicated bunch of guys who were not skilled, but tried very hard and were quick to catch on when given a little instruction.  They simply did not have carpentry skills required by this job.  They finally admitted to me that they had never done some of this work.  And there was no one on site to instruct them.

Excellent quality work?  You be the judge.  And keep in mind that Cahill told me this was finished work, Click on thumbnails for larger photos.

Seams and openings in sashing

Seams and openings in sashing

Outside window sash join

Outside window sash join

Outside window sashing

Outside window sashing

Bottom sash a 90 degree angle so water will drain toward window instead of onto porch.

Bottom sash a 90 degree angle so water will drain toward window instead of onto porch.

Some seams outside are quite wide

Some seams outside are quite wide

One 3/8 " seam is held open by small triangle of wood

One 3/8 ” seam is held open by small triangle of wood

Inside gaps

Inside gaps

Can see Tyvek wrapped into window, but an opening to the outside

Can see Tyvek wrapped into window, but an opening to the outside

No Tyvek wrap into the window frame, open to outside

No Tyvek wrap into the window frame, open to outside




Sorry about the formatting. I need a lesson from Prostiturtle.

Now “excellent quality” cedar shakes.

Some were smooth and some very rough cut

Some were smooth and some very rough cut, varying widths.

Some had stains that should not have been used.

Some had stains that should not have been used.


They were layered four pieces thick instead of two

They were layered four pieces thick instead of two, so they ran out.


You must be getting sick of this and you must think I am the biggest fool you ever saw.

There is lots more, but I will include only one more photo.

Doggie steps

Doggie steps

Aren’t they lovely?  Steve built them Saturday morning from the plans he had drawn.  The dogs had been unable to go out on their own since Monday.  And Jake, age 13.5, needs his middle of  the night sojourn.

Oh, but notice the shakes.  The first two rows were put on without a stagger pattern.  I caught it and stopped them, then we played until they understood the stagger.  I forgot to say remove the incorrect ones.  Never assume.

Construction ended on Thursday.  We began to search out supplies and prices.  We had two contractors look at the work and both were horrified.  Then we had two architects look at it.  More about that tomorrow.

Don’t mess with knitters.  Just saying.

Nightmare on My Street

Surprise Demo of back wall

Surprise Demo of back wall

It is one year after the huge willow oak fell on my house and finally reconstruction begins.  We lost our first contractor to a bigger name on the line, our second died as soon as we paid him some upfront money (not collectible), but then we found Southend Painting and Roofing via Angie’s List.  They don’t just paint anymore. At least that is what they told us.

Chris Kite showed up to do an estimate.  He was so professional.  He listened to what we said and then he helped us figure out how to do what we wanted.  We selected this company based on Chris.

I explained to Chris that I was easy to work for as long as I know when you are coming and you call if you can’t get here.  I don’t even ask you why you can’t come.  I just need the courtesy of knowing so I can plan my own life.  I even told him that I would fire someone who could not do this simple, courteous thing.  He assured me this was no problem.  The job was to begin May 12.

We signed the contract.  We were told to expect Todd Cahill who would supervise the project on Monday, May 6, at 9 am to measure for new windows.

Todd showed up at 4pm.  In my best schoolteacher voice, I explained to Todd my one requirement—a call—and how that was simply courtesy and good business on his part.  He understood; but it wasn’t his fault—he was in the north end of the county and had no cell service.  Hm-m-m-m.  He took the measurements and said he would be back Tues or Weds.  I said he needed to call before he came to make certain I was home or could come home to let him in.  No problem.

On Friday, May 9th, four days later, he called.

Well, he didn’t come because (not his fault) he needed to re-measure the windows before he ordered them.

(Time passes)

After that is a bit of a wasteland of calls that I didn’t document, but the gist was that we couldn’t start because the vendor ordered the wrong windows, then the windows weren’t in, then they were but he was waiting on the new back door which wasn’t in yet.  The backdoor was in my garage where it had been for a week.  Oh, they delivered it?  He didn’t know.

The last bit was June 6.  We discussed how there seemed to be an excuse for everything, but nothing was his fault and that I could no longer trust anything he said and that was not a good thing in a working relationship.  He felt I was being unfair.  He was very busy, he didn’t remember telling me things, he was in the middle of a divorce.  He didn’t understand.  He hadn’t done anything wrong.

He and Chris would meet the crew at my house on Monday, June 9, between 10 and 12 to explain the job to them.  I asked him to call when he was on the way.  He said no problem.

Why was I still employing him?  Well, he was contractor # 3 and I figured I could get some help from the owner;  we had had plywood in the window for a year, Steve was so tired of that.  I am an idiot.

I remembered Sunday the 8th that I had a nail appointment at 11 Monday.  First thing Monday morning, I called the office and left a message that I had to be away from home from 11-12, but that I would leave the gates unlocked so that he could get in with the crew and to call if he needed anything during that time.  I believe this is the courteous thing to do.

Window exchange

Window exchange

No phone call from Todd, but he did show up at 9:30.  He had a crew and my windows.  I met his father who was driving a second truck and I made the assumption that Jack was the owner.  As they were unloading, I asked Jack not to leave until we had talked.

Todd began to explain the job.  Incorrectly.  He was reading from the contract Chris had written, but he did not understand what it meant.  It said repeatedly to see Chris for details, but he had not done that.

Fortunately Steve had drawn a blueprint for part of the work.  I had sketches to explain the other parts, but he refused to look at them.

Finally I said quietly to Todd that he should have reviewed the project before he came to explain it.  Polo, the head of the crew, speaks good English and seemed very competent, but the whole thing was getting confusing. Finally Todd told his dad to leave and I said I wanted to talk to him first.  Todd asked why and told me HE was the owner.

Whole new ballgame.  I was gobsmacked.

I drew new pictures and gave to him.  I stood people in the places where things needed to be done.  The workmen nodded.  Todd had a meeting, but we had another conversation about communication and trust.  This time I tried my Mother voice.  I couldn’t wait to talk to my husband, especially about the way Todd had treated me.   He was rude, would talk over me, and told me I was just wrong about the project.  He left, I went in the house, and much to my surprise, the demo began.

Polo and his crew worked hard.  I left at 10:45 for my appointment and they said they would be back at 1:00.  But they had no materials with which to work, so they returned about 3.  Polo explained to me that he could put the windows in, but he could not seal them because he didn’t have the wood he would need to brace them.  Todd had changed Chris’ original order from 41 in. Reliabilt Windows to 38 3/4 inch no name, no warranty windows.  (I found the invoices in my garage three days later.) Polo asked if he could use some wood we had on hand and began to do the best he could to put 1 1/2 inches of “shim” on each side of each of our windows.

I then realized Todd had brought none of the materials we would need to do the project, except the windows.  No gutter, no roofing, no screen door, no wood to rebuild the arbor roof.  Polo and the crew could not weatherproof the back wall of the house.

Then I realized that they had torn down sections of the arbor that were to stay.  They were the decorative touches as well as beams and I would later see parts of them replaced with rough 1 x 4’s.

Big Demo Mistake

Big Demo Mistake

At 7:30 the new back door went in and they asked for the door hardware.  There was none.  The crew said the old hardware could not be used.  I told them not to call Todd and I would have the hardware for them the next day.

So we had no lock, and no knob, just two big holes in the door.  I reminded them I had a dentist appt. at 10 and a doctor’s appt at 12 the next day, but would leave the gates open.

We locked the fences and went to bed.

Tuesday arrived.  Polo stopped by to pick up the materials for another job that they had left in my garage and said he would be back at 1:00.  I didn’t get back until 2 and no one was here.  They never came.  No one called.

Path to enter my back yard

Path to enter my back yard

The skip had not arrived.  I had to trip over siding and nails and garbage to get to the faucet to water my flowers.

I took pictures.  Unlike Monday, I decided not to get angry.  I decided to document. Steve tried to call Todd to no avail.  He called Chris and Chris said he would talk to Todd.

Weds. 6-11

Polo showed and dropped off crew and some lumber.  Apologized for not being here yesterday, but said they had no materials to do any work.   He left to get a “tan” gutter.  My siding is not tan.  I had Jay call him and tell him not to buy gutter without having a piece of the siding with him to match the color.  I printed pictures of the roofing material for him which he asked me (via the crew left here) to text to Todd.  Steve has been trying to get to Todd and Chris all morning.  Finally he left Chris a message saying he could not reach Todd and he thought we needed to cancel the project.  Chris immediately called Todd and told him.  The next time Steve tried Todd, Todd answered and said he was on the way to the house, he had the skip to clean up the demo debris and that he had ALL the materials for the rest of our job.

The guys have removed the rest of the arbor that was to stay, so I am sitting in the den watching to make sure they don’t attempt to build the wrong thing.  They do not have the drawing.

Todd arrived with the skip and a few pieces of lumber.  ALL the materials?  I called Steve at work and he came over and met Todd for the first time.  Todd was a showman and Steve bought some of it.  He decided that we were now on the right track. That we could make it work.

Meghan called during this.  Her father-in-law ran he own construction business for 40+ years.  She told me his advice to them was:

  1.  Don’t let the project start until all materials are on site.
  2. Have copies of all vendor invoices in hand to be certain materials are paid for in full before the project starts.  If contractor doesn’t pay vendor and material is attached to your house, the vendor can sue you.

Write that down.  Wish I had known earlier.  I will be asking for this as soon as we are weatherproof.

More tomorrow.


New Sock Design Published

VOGUE Knitting Crochet 2014, photo by Rose Callahan

VOGUE Knitting Crochet 2014, photo by Rose Callahan

Big news.  My favorite sock design was bought by Soho Publishing and will be in the next issue of Noro magazine.  Woo-hoooooooo!

VOGUE Knitting Crochet 2014, photo by Rose Callahan

VOGUE Knitting Crochet 2014, photo by Rose Callahan

Item name: Faux Cable Socks

Designer: Jane Prater

Yarn Information: Noro Silk Garden in #304

For sizes: Adult Woman

Amounts: 2 skeins (for matching stripe pattern, otherwise one is enough)

The coolest part of these sock is the effect the long repeat color found in Noro yarn.  I think they invented it, but other yarns exist, especially in this world of independent hand dyers.  The faux cable cuff pattern is easy to learn, so you can go Zen while knitting these.  The wrap around arch (so comfy) is more complex, but if you place the markers, it is almost Zen.

Special tip:  I try mine on when I finish the arch to see exactly how much more to knit before I start my toe.

Here are my photos of the finished pair.

Heel and Arch (2)

Faux Cable Cuff

Arch Structure

I’m told the issue will be out June 3.

More later–















I made the picture BIG, because Libby lives life out loud.

You need to meet Libby.  She is wise and funny and has maintained her sense of humor every time life has kicked her in the whatever.  She will lift you up.

I recently met Libby who is a great friend of my older daughter.  I know how much Erica depends on her friendship and I was absolutely charmed.  Erica reads her blog.  Erica does not read MY blog, but she reads Libby’s.  After I started reading it, I knew why.

Libby is so darn creative.  And original.  She decorated her entire adorable home with Oops! paint.  Oops! paint is the stuff that people buy and return to the paint store because it’s the wrong color.  Erica says the paint store sells it for about $5 a gallon and Libby makes it work wonders.  I love found art and old things repurposed into something your never even thought of, so obviously I find this a triumph.

 I am a closet writer and do it because I love it and as I get older, and older, and older I am trying to do more of what I love without worrying so much about doing it perfectly.”   Does this philosophy sound familiar?  And wouldn’t everyone be happier if they gave this a go?

I write like a I talk so don’t expect smooth, glossy sentences or precise words.”  She does.  I spent many years teaching young writers to find and use their own voices.  Her voice is what makes reading her blog so much fun.  It is lively, bouncy, a bit self-deprecating, funny, and wise beyond her years.  It is also hopeful and real.

She is every bit as amazing a woman as Erica has always said.  I am so glad to know she will also be my friend. Just to give you a taste, I am going to simply steal one of her early blogs and publish it here–without permission. But I want to explain why I chose this one.

Erica has a group of friends who met at work and who lunch or party together.  They have named themselves the Cool Kids.  Because they, mistakenly, believe they are not.  They are now considering special T-shirts.  They rally around each other whenever one has a need.  They are the reason I only worry a little bit as my little girl goes through some life changing issues.  I suspect Libby named them because of this blog which hit home with me.  Maybe you, too.

Knock off jellies and Lee jeans

We never really escape high school.  It only takes one word, being left out of one conversation or one sneer before BAM!! You are suddenly 15 again.  Fifteen and gawky.  Fifteen and aching to fit in.  Fifteen and acutely aware of your social status –or rather lack of social status—in a clearly defined hierarchy.  Fifteen and pudgy.  Fifteen with braces.  Fifteen and pudgy AND with braces.  Fifteen with a bad perm—a really bad home perm, an-at-home-bought-off-the-clearance-shelf kind of bad perm.  Fifteen, pudgy, braced, frizzed and wearing knock off jellies.  Fifteen, pudgy, braced, frizzed, wearing knock off jellies and NOT wearing Gloria Vanderbilt jeans because GV obviously had no tooshie AT ALL because her jeans were ramrod straight and in no way compensated for a single curve.  I digress.  Okay.  Fifteen and: awkward, braced, frizzed, pudgy, with knock off jellies and Lee Jeans (oh God save us from Lee Jeans).  Standing in the cafeteria, alone, realizing that no one of your social level shares this particular lunch schedule.  Life doesn’t get any rougher then this moment.  The world stops.  The air sucks out of the room.  You know you have to take a step forward but you are unable to make your knock off jellies encased feet move.  The step forward means stepping by the ‘cool table’ full of muscles, letterman jackets, real jellies and GV jeans and long hair with bangs teased up to the stratosphere.  Another few steps and you would have to step by the wanna be cool table with letterman jackets, smaller muscles, a few more pimples, real jellies, tighter GV jeans and bangs teased and sprayed until they resemble weapons.  Further on you would have to pass the table fool of the aloof kids wearing black with sharpie tattoos on their hands.  The bow in your badly permed hair would serve as a bulls-eye for a rapid attack from the super-rebellious crowd.  Being mocked by them would cause wanna be table turn and stare secretly happy that their social status was one notch higher then yours which saved them from the verbal torture.  The cool kids wouldn’t lower themselves to look but they would be the first to ask a wanna be what the commotion was all about as soon as the lunch period was over.


This little walk down horror lane could continue indefinitely.  It was painful enough the first time. Why re-live it on purpose?  Oh yeah.  My original statement that for each of us there are things that immediately send us back to that high school feeling.  How sad is that?  How sad that at 41 year old woman I can be reduced to that low point in my life with a single slight?  How sad that no matter how old you are there is always a place where you don’t fit in?  There will always be a table that you can’t join.  Always a group that doesn’t want you as a part of it.  Always.  As adult women we just learn to navaigate away from those tables/groups.  We move on.  But I don’t think we ever move away from that adolescent girl.  Not far away anyway.

More Libby here.

More art and stuff later–

What Happened to March?

Yesterday was the 5th Weds. in a row that I have missed knitting at Charlotte Yarn with my yarn buddies.   Today I received a sweet note from Debbie making certain I am alright.  Truth to tell, I stay up too late, and sleep in most mornings.  I mean, like til 10:30 or 11.  I need to find some discipline.

When I do get up, and have coffee with my dogs, I do many things.  Lately it has been art and gardening.  I am succulent-obsessive and not afraid of any paint or ink on the market.  Look out world.

I do miss being in touch with friends, so I will try to blog a bit more.  If would please me greatly if I could encourage all of you to join me in this play.  I’ve even stopped thinking about what I would do with a piece I created.  I just leave them in my art journal and revisit them occasionally.

Here is some stuff I’ve done.  Check out the flickr link if you are looking for ideas.

Our favorite houseguest--Evan's fish named Red.  Who knew fish had such personality? Watercolor, what else?

Our favorite houseguest–Evan’s fish named Red. Who knew fish had such personality?
Watercolor, what else?


Actually it should be Terraria.  Evan is addicted to this video game and I like to be with him, so while he played and explained it to me, I added things to a page in one of my journals.  It was great fun.  Yes, I know it is ugly and I don't care.

Actually it should be Terraria. Evan is addicted to this video game and I like to be with him, so while he played and explained it to me, I added things to a page in one of my journals. It was great fun. Yes, I know it is ugly and I don’t care.

I had to make something to go with this quote I found.  One of our friend's sons wrote an essay about me and called me sassy.  I like that.  I kinda like this outfit, too,  It is scrapbook paper, but I drew the pockets on with a white Uniball Signo U-153 gel pen.  It is frightening how much I know about pens.

I had to make something to go with this quote I found. One of our friend’s sons wrote an essay about me and called me sassy. I like that. I kinda like this outfit, too, It is scrapbook paper, but I drew the pockets on with a white Uniball Signo U-153 gel pen. It is frightening how much I know about pens.

When was the last time you played with paperdolls?  If you are on flickr, search for paperdolls and you will be amazed.

More later–

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