We stayed home this year to work on the housebuilding and ended up instead reroofing Jim's garage (photos may be posted some day), almost getting the 'new' cellar insulated, and switching in September to Jim helping John K. rebuild his kitchen roof - rafters, soffits, insulation, new sheathing, tarpaper - then it got cold. We were one warm day away from finishing the cellar insulation because it needs to be warm and dry to put on the vapor varrier. Next year for sure.
We paid a friend to remove two large spruce trees next to the neighbor's garage and got sun in the garden, enough to grow lots of red peppers under where the trees used to be. The garden did well until the July drought. An abundance of mustard greens and edible-podded peas, and 9 self-planted pumpkins which we watered. Black Krim and German Evergreen tomatoes cracked but tasted good - the later like pudding eating with a spoon. Pears outdid themselves. They should be picked unripe to keep well instead of turning to mush. We also picked neighbor's cherries, juneberries, apricots, and sour cherries (planted some seeds too). Pawpaws also outdid themselves, and red and white currants. My apricots did nothing, nor the walnuts. Jim reduced the squirrel population and we got lots of hickories. In the fall we picked mushrooms - honey mushrooms and one big hen-of-the-woods, which we dried or froze.
We photographed a few mushrooms at Independence Lake, where we biked four times to swim. I did 1.5 miles the last time, but I still get out of breath biking up hills and have to walk them. Getting old? Jim hurt his knee working on the neighbor's roof and tried to stay off it all of December and he can walk again.
We continued to make free computers for freecycle (a local online group of people who give and take free things). 77 desktops to date plus 15 rackmount servers (from pieces of 30) and three laptops (a 386 and two Macs from 1992 and 1993). Repaired a desktop and tried to fix three laptops all newer than ours, for someone in Battle Creek. Played with PDAs - Jim now has Palm III (x, xe), V (x), m105 and m130, Clie (two), Handspring (two), and Pocket PC DELL Axim X5 (we ordered a used CF wireless card), Casio Cassiopoeia E-105 (serial, no charger), HP Ipaq (not working) etc. I may take a group photo. Jim also collected 15 dead LCD monitors, all of which probably need caps changed on the invertor boards.
The Yamaha electronic piano from 1986 probably also has worn-out capacitors. I am taking lessons from a piano student - Bach, Schubert... I sing once a month, and may join a recorder group. Jim swims three mornings a week (7-8 am) with the Dawn Ducks at a local pool. He is the youngest and has made nice new friends to fix things for. We are otherwise unscheduled and like it that way.
We just cancelled phone service at the building site when AT&T eliminated our party line with 44 calls (which doubles the cost to $30). The replacement will be walkie talkies (they go three blocks), possibly also $10 CB radios (to call when I am online), and someone gave us two free Verizon camera phones (we can make a data cable to transfer photos). Page Plus cellular is $10/4 months 12 cents/min (or 6 cents if you buy $80) and works with any Verizon phone ($5 at ebay).
Dec. 24 we got a ride to visit Jim's sister and family (400K composite photo) in Warren (we walked the last five miles in deep slush after realizing the bus was on 'holiday schedule' - not running ) and also Cranbrook Institute of Science and Detroit Institute of Art. See Jim with appetizers, Jim and Sindi in costume by the desserts, Sherman, Jennifer, Daryl and kids (Dylan in motion) by the fire, and Dorothy making her traditional casserole. The kids (with me by the tree) are both much more talkative this year. Dylan, who has Down Syndrome, tries hard to pronounce, and Sammy, who is almost five, sings in perfect tune and knows all the verses of the Christmas songs.
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