"Crotty News" Postings for:
July 2007 !

Construction Continues on our new house addition !
We can't wait to have it finished and get back to "normal" !

    Sunday 01 Jul - OK, so our "news" on the web site has degenerated somewhat. Yep, it's probably boring for all of you to read the day in/day out recap of every little item of construction. On the other hand this is my modern-day version of a journal, so at the end of the year I will print each of these monthly ramblings and insert the page into our family photo albums. Years from now our many grandchildren (hah!) and great-grandchildren will be awe-struck at what I have left them!

    Monday 02 Jul - The porch was grouted today and the Hobby Room and Office flooring (tile and carpet) was laid. We now have days when nobody shows up. Actually they are usually here but then something happens at one of their other construction sites and the workmen are diverted there. Our only concern is that no one tells us when they won't be here. We're not complaining because they worked so fast and hard since beginning the project on 14 May that we're still way ahead of where we thought we would be at this time, although now that we're so close to completion we are anxious to actually use our new rooms.

    Fortunately I have plenty of landscaping/yard work to keep me busy. In fact for the first time in my years of gardening my tomatoes are wilting and my squash and cucumbers attacked by powdery mildew, so I'm busy trying to stop the damage. Chuck Crowell told me to get some Neem Oil and I finally found it hidden away on the shelves at our local Lowe's store. Hopefully I should see some postive results in the garden in a few days. Wal-Mart is starting its annual sell off of nursery items (trees, bushes, flowers) that haven't been properly watered and may die soon without being planted in the ground. I check the store every week to see what's on sale. Today I bought ten shade bushes (cleyera japonica) that are evergreen with nice glossy leaves. I'll will plug them into the ground around the new addition and also along my tree line in the back yard. In a couple of years they will be 7' tall and 4' wide, making good privacy screens.

    Tuesday 03 Jul - I've been buying many loads of red-dyed cypress mulch, one truckload-at-a-time, from our friends Larry & Linda Gross's business, L&L Landscaping. Their daughter Melissa runs the operation about a mile down the road from our house (they have another location near Surfside Beach/Garden City, south of Myrtle Beach). The red mulch really sets off all the colors from my flowers and other plants, so I've added the mulch to all of my garden areas.

    Today the tile man laid down the flooring in our new living room and the corridor to the porch. The new opening for our kitchen entrance was not yet ready so he'll be back tomorrow. I ripped out the old kitchen door and frame in the late afternoon so that the tile guy could patch the concrete, smoothing it in preparation for the final tile installation. Joe the carpenter returned in the early evening and framed it all in.

    Wednesday 04 Jul - Happy Fourth! Today we went to two parties. Gary, the owner of Socastee Station restaurant, throws a huge 4th of July party at his home every year. The roads are packed on both sides of the roads surrounding his house with cars bringing his friends to the party. (He's obviously worked something out with his neighbors). The party runs all day long and in the evening he has professionals set off a huge fireworks display. This year Karen, Chuck, Dale and I went for the afternoon fun but left early because one of our neighbors (also a friend of Karen & Chuck's) invited everyone to a fireworks display at his house. At 9:30PM we brought our chairs and set them up in his driveway while Doug set off booming rockets, blazing bombshells and a host of 6-10 foot high, beautifully-colored fountains of sparkly displays! I took movie clips and photos and will try to load the movies to the web site sometime soon (the photos are already there).

    Thursday 05 Jul - Joe installed drywall/sheetrock around the sliding door openings and in our master bedroom (former door to the old patio area). The big dumpster that's been sitting in our back yard was hauled away a few days ago, and I cleaned up the area where it was located. It's good to have it gone!

    Friday 06 Jul - Aaron, our builder, brought in a few workers to work on the wood trim around doors, painters who gave a second coat to all the wood trim, doors and baseboards, and others who poured a couple of concrete pads at the living room door and the porch's back door. Several of them hauled up scrap pieces of OSB board and laid them over the joists in the attic, over the living room. Then we hauled up various excess construction materials, such as extra sheets of vinyl siding, rugs, linoleum, etc. I'm going to use this attic space for items that we won't need often, and the attic spaces over the office and porch for all other storage.

    Saturday 07 Jul - Aaron brought a group of mexican sub-contractors who installed baseboards and shoe molding around the baseboards in the hobby room, corridor and living room. Two others climbed to the top of the roof and used the power sprayer to clean off dark fungus stains on my old roof and make it look more compatible (newer) with the new shingles on the addition. I worked out an agreement with Aaron to purchase the Troy power sprayer from him, so now I'll be able to keep the roof clean, as well as the vinyl siding (and our cars)!

    Sunday 08 Jul - Wal-Mart is now selling off its large (3 gallon pot size) camellia bushes for $5 apiece! Also lantana plants and three foot high Big Boy tomato plants for only $1 apiece. I bought 6 Big Boy plants and 7 yellow, lavender and red lantana plants. Came home, weeded the garden, planted the tomato plants and sprayed allthe gardens and ornamental trees with Sevin and Neem Oil. Hopefully that will take care of the diseases (wilt, etc) and the bugs (Japanese Beetles) for a while. It's MUGGY outside so any yard work is a bit uncomfortable until you let yourself get sweaty - immediately. Got an e-mail from my Australian friend Michael Krzeszkowski. He's currently in Taipei and has some postcards for me from Shanghai (I asked him for them). Michael gets to travel to a lot of exotic locations.

    Monday 09 July - Sharon King announced this morning that Jason and Dee's new son, Wyatt O'Dell King, arrived at 6:08AM!! Congrats!

    Joe the carpenter sheetrocked the half-circle openings where the windows used to be, and used a flexible, plastic "corner bead" to hold everything in. The first coat of compound is now drying and hopefully we will be able to get everything completed by the end of this week. Joe then worked on several minor items on our "punch list" (list of things we need fixed) and those are almost completed too. Most of what remains to be done will be done by painters.

    Dale is all excited about upgrading the kitchen. She's been drawing up detailed plans and dimensions on graph paper for the past week and today went to an outlet to choose cabinets and get cost estimates. I'll do the installation myself. Penny Crowell: this is all your fault! Dale loved what you did to your kitchen down there in ole San Antone!

    Heard from Katia Esposito today. She is the niece of our italian friends Gilda & Tony Esposito, and we also knew her father "Nino" while we were living in Carovigno, Italy back in 1977-1980. Katia is a 22 year old college student studying foreign languages, including Japanese and English, and she will be visiting with us for the month of August. We hope to have her full itinerary soon, so that we can begin to make plans. At the moment it looks like she may be flying in to either Tampa, Orlando or Miami Florida (cheap tickets).

    Tuesday 10 Jul - Helped Joe with his computer (brought it with him today). Lots of mal-ware, ad-ware, viruses, etc.; a real mess. We had our first Shag Dance lesson tonight. Jay Holder and Jane Toohey at their home in North Myrtle Beach. Small classes, 3-45 couples. Rick and Bonnie Neal are attending too, although they are using the course as a refresher. probably just taking it with us to make us feel more comfortable.

    Wednesday 11 Jul - We drove to Atlanta today. Tomorrow we pick up Alana, flying in from Honolulu (Tracey didn't want her changing planes since she's traveling alone). We're staying near the airport at the Best Western Atlanta Airport East Hotel in Hapeville.

    Friday - Sunday 13-15 Jul - Nobody from SCR showed up to work on the house. I spent three days compounding and sanding sheetrock. Dale cleaned the patio. I compounded the office/den ceiling around the attic access. On saturday I started moving office books and setting up bookcases.

    Sunday 15 Jul - We returned from Atlanta with Alana last thursday, the 12th. No one from the builder showed up on Friday (or Saturday) and we're tired of having the house in an absolute mess (sheetrock sanding). Having the original part of the house opened up to all the dust and grime is okay for a while if the builder has someone coming every day to finish the job, so that we could get back to normalcy! So, for the past three days, morning to late night, I've been doing the job myself! Dale took a picture of me today. I'm caked with sheetrock compound dust, but by tomorow I should finish up. I sanded the master bedroom wall this morning (used to be a door to the old patio) and Dale painted it later this afternoon. All done. Looks nice and finally we have our dang bedroom back!! We've had to live with plastic sheeting covering the kitchen, living room and our bed, furniture, etc. for over two weeks. Anyway, I started moving book shelves and books (etc) into my new office. Slow going, especially since I have so much "stuff" jammed into the temporary office/den/library (guest bedroom) I've been using. Kathy, Tom and Jessica are coming down from Maryland this coming wednesday so we need the extra space.

    Dale and Alana are over at Karen & Chuck's new house in the Arrowhead subdivision. It's really beautiful with gorgeous views of the golf course and IntraCoastal Waterway. They're picking up chinese food for dinner (yum!). Also think that Joe King may be coming down on the 20th or 23rd. He's buying some property here and the settlement date is coming up. Alana is doing okay but seems to me to be a bit homesick. Since I've been so busy with this house addition/upgrade, we haven't hit all the high spots around here yet. Dale did take her out to a few places today and in a few days things should get to be a bit more normal and I can join them for some local fun stuff.

    Monday 16 Jul -We've been going out with Rick and Bonnie Neal, Aaron's father & mother. They've been showing us the local "Shag" dancing venues, including the nightclubs and dancing lessons. Shag is a version of how us "kids" learned to dance back in the 1950's and early 60's. This morning three of Aaron's top people showed up and indicated that they knew I was not happy and that they were there to fix everything. I've already completed all the sanding so they're working on baseboards and painting. One of them left at lunchtime to make a run to pick up all the things needed to complete the job. Unfortunately the guy who seems to have "taken charge" of the crew just wants to get his tasks done and seems to think that paint will cover all imperfections in sheetrock. NO! A soft light shows up every line, scratch, hole, wave, etc. in sheetrock and it is doubly difficult, if not impossible, to fix once you've painted over the imperfections! Today he painted right over two doors and doorframes that should have been sanded first. The other two guys do much more professional work. The gutter guys also showed up this morning and are installing nice looking (and wide) gutters all around the house. The local electrical grid seems to be going off and on. Luckily Chuck gave me one of those battery backup systems that also protects against surges and power outages, so I've got my computer and peripherals hooked to it now.

    Tuesday 17 Jul - Shag lessons tonight! A few of the hard-working mexicans appear to understand english but in fact they don't understand the nuances of the language at all, and that has led to a few mistakes. Yesterday we took special care to explain to two of them who were brought in to do the fine sanding on the wall I had worked on for three days (the arches and old sliding door area). We told them, and physically pointed out to them, that we did NOT want them to sand around the curves of the archways. Si si senor! When I returned five minutes later there they were sanding away on the arches!!! All they really understood is that they were supposed to sand the wall and they must have thought that we were showing them places that we wanted them to pay particular attention to! This morning they brought in a mexican to paint portions of the ceiling that had been marked when they painted the wall. They taped it to get a nice line and then the mexican started painting it with the semi-gloss paint we got for the baseboards! As far as he was concerned, white was white! Oh well! The builder's guy caught him before he did much painting. The mexican has now been relegated to painting baseboards and the builder's guy will re-do the ceiling later. The guy who now seems to be "in charge") brought his two daughters and put them to work cleaning the house - the vinyl walls and ceiling on the porch, windows, walls (dust), etc. The gutters went up yesterday and look nice. I have finished (and cleaned up) the bedroom so our lives are much more normal without plastic sheetings and inches of dust everywhere. Yesterday they did all sorts of painting and today they're back and doing trim work. The guy who is here right now is a professional and he is teaching the mexicans how to do the painting job right; takes pride in doing the fine detail work, so the painting, caulking and fine sanding is looking good. One of the carpenters has two teenage daughters and they are earning extra money today by being the cleaning crew. They've started on the porch and are doing a good job. They'll work backwards into the house as they progress. The living room will have to be last, and the floor is covered with ground-in dust and gobs of compound, so there's plenty for them to do. The gutter men came yesterday and hung new gutters all around. Looks great!

    I found out that last friday Aaron (our builder) had a big flap at his other big site, a former restaurant that he is converting into a home for some Albanian guy who is never satisified. Aaron should have cut his loses and told the guy to screw himself long ago but he keeps thinking that things will get better. Anyway, last friday the subcontractor didn't show up for work because their boss was sick (so they figured they'd take the day off ;-) Aaron had his own people work on the restaurant instead of our house. We are supposed to have a county inspector do an inspection of the attic insulation, and after that I can lay down OSB board and start moving the storage items we've had jammed in our garage (and garage attic), and put it up in the new, spacious attic spaces. That will give us lots of extra space in the garage. I am still moving my stuff from the temporary guestroom-office/den into the new spaces. Man - what a job! Do I have STUFF!

    I forget which day they came, probably the 18th, but Aaron hired two women to clean the inside rooms since the young girls didn't get that far. The women run their own commercial/professional cleaning company. When they arrived they were flabbergasted at the amount of work. I guess they thought it was going to be a simple job. They did clean the new addition but refused to do the older part of the hosue where all the dust and grime had also settled. They offered to come back another day but we declined. Didn't want to be, once again, waiting around for someone to show up.

    Friday 20 Jul - So .... as far as we are concerned our house addition is "finished" as of 18 July. There are lots of minor things that should have been done by the builder but we're tired of living by their schedule. So, we decided that it was better for us to just finish the items ourselves and reclaim our home! Today we cleaned off tons of dust that had floated throughout the house and landed on EVERYTHING! We cleaned/dusted the furniture from the old living room and moved most of it to the new living room. It's like the house finally has "breathing room" :-) Once I transfer everything from the old living room to the new one, I then have some construction work of my own to complete. Dale wants a new kitchen so I now will block off the pass-through opening to what was the old living room and then paint the walls. The new kitchen itself will have to wait until we have the money, but at least we'll have the old living room transformed into a new dining room by then. I've been moving "stuff" out of my old office/den/computer room for the past week and I am amazed at how much there is still to move! I truly had jammed an unbelievable amount of books, knickknacks, computers, and "collectables' into this guest bedroom. It will take another two weeks to get it all out of here. I've already determined that I should have made my new office/library twice as big as it is :-) Our weather is hot and muggy, as per usual during South Carolina summers. I've been trying to find time to plant ten lantana bushes (bought on sale for $1 apiece at the local Wal-Mart) and some Camillia bushes ($5 apiece). Two days ago I picked up some more $1 specials at Wal-Mart: seven hostas and ten clematis vines. I've got them in my wheelbarrow and hope to plug them in the ground soon. Wal-Mart has just reduced their price on three-foot high rhododendrons to $10 (I bought several at $15 a few weeks ago). I might buy a few more and just plug them in ther back yard under the trees.

    Since the 12th we've had Alana visiting us from Hawaii. Kathy, Tom and Jessica are also here until monday. Joe King arrived last night and he'll be here for a few days (he's sleeping in our new den/office/library). He and Sharon bought a waterfront-community lot nearby, and he came down to do all the legal paperwork ("closing" was today). Karen & Chuck are hosting a housewarming party at their new place in Arrowhead tomorrow. (See pictures I will upload).

    Sunday 22 Jul - Dale, karen and Alana went to see a Harry Potter movie. Jope King and I went to Linda Morrison's birthday party up the street. We also stopped by to see his new lot on the waterway - very nice.

    Monday 23 Jul - Kathy and family left at 6:00AM. We went to the T.I.G.E.R.S. compound in Socastee with Alana, Karen & Chuck and his parents today (see http://www.tigerfriends.com/). Karen & Chuck know the owner, Dr. Bhagavan Antle. They give tourists and interested people two tours a day of the compound, full of rare animals (it costs big bucks for the tours), and if they have room, every once in a while we get to go along on the tour for free. We all went to California Ultimate Pizza in Surfside tonight. Love it there. I get a "personal pan pizza" and load it up with all sorts of things that I like.

    Tuesday 24 Jul - Shag dance class is cancelled for tonight. Joe King is staying for a while in order to look at investment properties. Our friend Steve Graham in England tells me that they are experiencing the worst downpours in over 60 years! Most of the Cotswolds (Gloucestershire, near Wales) are innundated if a river runs by -- and most villages have rivers and streams. Tewksbury is near Cheltenham, where we lived from 1969-1972, and it flooded a couple of years after Dale and I visited there. At that time Steven sent us pictures of the Abbey Mill walkways covered with 5 feet of water. Two nights ago on TV news we saw the same walkway covered with water. Cars are floating by. People's houses have two feet of water in them. Steve and Barbara are going to drive to their second home in Devon since the flooding has cut off their water supplies in much of the Cotswolds.

    Just heard from Katia. She'll be flying in to Tampa on 17 August and stay until 17 September. Aaron gave me gave me a Toro Power Washer to make up for all the delays on the house addition, so I'm happy :-) The final County inspection is supposed to be tomorrow and then we get a certificate of occupancy, which I guess truly signifies that the job is complete. The builder also said that he'll bring some of his people and after the inspection they will "help me" screw down the OSB (subflooring) boards in my attic. On the 29th we'll drive Alana back to Atlanta, stay overnight and then see her off on her 30 July flight to Honolulu; then back here to Myrtle Beach for a week or so. Then to Bradenton. I'm bushed! I still have a bunch of those perennial plants and camellia bushes (purchased on sale from Wal-Mart) to stick in the ground, but just don't have the energy to do it right now, so I'm keeping them alive with daily waterings

    I went out with Alana today to the local Myrtle Beach NASCAR "speedway" where kids can drive mini race cars all day long for $30 ticket, and/or play arcade games etc. She decided that the race track was too scary so arcade games it was! Then a ride down Myrtle Beach's "Grand Strand" (beach/hotels) to Springmaid Pier, some lunch and an ice cream, walk on the beach. She didn't want to do any miniature golf, so back home we came.

    Wednesday 25 Jul- The County Inspector was to show up this morning to make a final inspection, and give us a certificate of Occupancy if everything was OK. I didn't see anyone. Called the builder but got his voice mail. His father-in-law is very ill, so perhaps he had to go to North Carolina. I'm sure I'll get the story soon. So I spent the day planting a lot more of the bushes and flowers that I had purchased at Wal-Mart over the past few weeks. I planted seven lantana bushes (5 yellows, 1 lavender and 1 red); four camellia bushes; and ten clematis vines. I still have one side of Dale's porch that is a part sun/shade area, so I think I'll go back to Wal-Mart tomorrow and buy four more rhododendrons (3-4 foot high), which they have now further reduced to $10 apiece. I've been hanging pictures in our new living room. We had stored them in the attic (prints) and in my air-conditioned office/den/library (oils). I can't find several of the smaller oil paintings so we must have stored them in boxes and put them in the attic somewhere. It will take a while to discover all our "stuff" again. I still have to do some work on the walls in our "old living room" (soon to be our new dining room). Once I get that done I will move all our English "good furniture" (sectional units for crystal, good china, knickknacks, etc., like a German schrank) from the front of the house, surrounding the piano, into the new dining room. Then I have to sheetrock the front wall where we had termites a year ago.

    Friday 27 Jul - The Liskas, friends from Ohio (and an old Pentagon buddy), are on their way to see us for the day right now. Then we'll bring Alana to Broadway-At-The-Beach and let her have fun at the MagicQuest (see pictures under PHOTOs). Have also decided to clean up several old bookcases in the garage that I've been using for tools, and re-use them for books in my new office. Dale found a new wood cleaner that does wonders for a wood shine.

    Saturday 28 Jul - Tracey landed a job at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base, working for the company that maintains the executive jets for "Distinguished Visitors" and Flag-Rank (Admiral/General) authorities. Congrats! Tomorrow we leave around noon to bring Alana back to Atlanta. It takes about 7 hours, with stops. She takes off for Honolulu on Monday.

    Monday 30 Jul - We spent the morning at the Atlanta Zoo with Alana before going to the airport. Saw Giant Pandas (see Photos). Back in Myrtle Beach, we had our regular Monday evening "Shag Lessons" with Jay and Jane in North Myrtle Beach. Shag Dancing is also called "Carolina Shag" and it started in Myrtle Beach back in the 1930s. Once a year they hold a big event and thousands of "shaggers" invade North Myrtle Beach (where most of the big "shag dance clubs" are located). To us it looks quite a bit like the way we learned to dance in Massachusetts in the 1950s: lots of fancy footwork and spinning of your partner, but it is actually a lot smoother and methodical type of dancing than we did back then. You don't roam all over the floor (like Jitterbug). In fact shaggers take small steps so you almost stay in place, unless you make a move specifically to move further along the dance floor. As you advance in training, the dancers can incorporate cha-cha and other dance steps. Our instructors gave us a demo tonight and at times they looked like they were incorporating ballroom dancing, and then would shift back smoothly into "shag". Our english friends think the name is hilarious since "shag" is slang for what a man and woman do in bed ;-) When I told them we joined a shag club, they had a hard time breathing between chuckles! (You have to go to a club to learn THAT?). Wait'll I send them a T-shirt

    Tuesday 31 Jul - I've laid down the OSB board in about one half of the attic. Aaron says he'll have a couple of his guys come over and help do the remainder.

Love,     &nbs;       Regards,
Dad & Mom     &nbs;       Barry & Dale