Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Francesca wore her Jolly Roger gloves to school yesterday. She was told to turn them inside out because her teacher deemed them inappropriate. I fail to see how the gloves are inappropriate. Is it me? Am I missing something?

Olde House Parts

The Tuscarawas County Heritage Home Association is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the documentation and preservation of the architecturally and historically significant homes, buildings, and neighborhoods of Tuscarawas County.

Their mission is to cultivate awareness and appreciation of this part of the local heritage, encourage interest in preserving historic structures within the community, and to educate those who are interested in preservation or are actively involved in the restoration of historically significant structures.

Olde House Parts is the association’s newest project to create an additional source of revenue to further their mission. It is an architectural salvage shop specializing in old and very old interior and exterior hardware, fixtures and accessories. Customers might find light fixtures, doorknobs, hinges, mouldings, pillars, staircases, windows, latches or sinks. Some days shoppers might find signs, corbels, mantels, gas lights or spindles. On other days, heating grates, drawer pulls, brackets, doors, shutters or slate roofing might be available. An ever changing inventory comes strictly from donations.

Members of the association staff the shop. Everyone who works in the store does so as a volunteer. A love of old homes and buildings brought this group together and they will be on hand to help each person peruse the inventory.

Olde House Parts held their grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 6. Volunteers who arrived early to ready the shop for the day found customers already waiting. Dealers, old house enthusiasts, artists, craftspeople and those just looking at the interesting inventory stopped by.

Nearly everyone made a purchase and walked away with a historical piece or part. By day’s end the inventory was drastically reduced.

Members of the association are constantly looking for new inventory to add to the shop. Donations from the public are encouraged and are tax deductible. Only items that date before 1950 are accepted at this time, during business hours or by appointment.

The shop is located at 123 W. Third St., in Suite 101 of The Galleria, in downtown Dover, and is open for business each Wednesday from 4-9 p.m. and each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment. Contact them at 330-364-5757 or via e-mail at

For more information about the Tuscarawas County Heritage Home Association, visit their web page at

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Only the First Day of Winter

My brother lives in Lemoore, California. The weather there is a little different than it is here. I just checked the weather report for his region. He’s suffering in 56 degree weather right now with light rain. He made a point to let me know he just received an heirloom seed catalog and is very excited about it. He, like me enjoys gardening. He’s always been resourceful so growing food for himself and his family is a given.
I love my brother but right now I am saying things under my breath. While he is tending his winter garden probably filled with cool weather crops like spinach, lettuces, herbs, carrots and radishes I am lucky to be getting baby carrots from a diligent farmer in Big Prairie whose season extension methods far surpass my own.
My mailbox is yet to be filled with seed catalogs. They usually arrive in February just as madness begins to set in. They will pull me out of my doldrums rather quickly and I will dream of warmer days and green things.
I walked to the compost bin this afternoon to drop off several days’ worth of kitchen scraps. There’s not much activity at the top of the pile but I managed to open the bottom door with a few gentle steel-toed kicks. Delight filled the nineteen degree air as I saw a bit of steam rise from the lower part of the pile…I did have to poke it with a stick. The smell of earth and the sight of worms was enough to make any gardener smile.
Winter is difficult for gardeners. We sit around thinking about all the things we could be doing. It’s too cold to fix the fence. It’s too cold to do much of anything outside. As I watch the birds, squirrels and barn cats I realize what a wimp I am. Granted, I do adapt and don’t complain too much about the cold. In fact, I really love the snow and how it blankets the Earth with its whiteness. Still, winter is long and I long for dirty hands, muddy boots and perhaps a new shovel this spring.
Christmas is coming and it helps to put a lot of woes out of my mind while I fill the house with cheer and watch magic appear in a wide-eyed little girl who is probably as anxious as I am to get outside. Her hula hoops and pogo stick are put away for the season. I reluctantly brought her bicycle inside but it doesn’t cruise well amongst the furniture and throw rugs.
Sled riding is certainly in order and the fresh air will do us both some good. Fashion and winter do not exist in our home so we will don our ear flap hats and the extra long scarves my mom made for us. It’s so much fun going down and so much working coming up but its winter. What are you going to do?
Before long February will arrive and my letter carrier will be faced with the mountains of seed catalogs she must stuff in my mailbox. So what if my brother has tomatoes months before me. So what if he can garden all year while I must wait patiently for my spring to arrive. To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Being in Hot Water is Not So Bad...

Here's a piece I wrote for a weekly newspaper. After the fact I spoke with a plumber friend who said even this routine maintenance will not do much good and a typical water heater will last about seven years. I bought the nine year warranty with this new one so at least I did THAT right.
My water heater died. It died a long-drawn-out death because I paid no mind to it. I mean, who actually looks at their water heater? I had no idea, and by the time I discovered it had serious issues, I had no hot water…for days. Come to find out, a smart homeowner does look at their hot water heater…about every six months.

Routine maintenance of systems and appliances keeps your home running smoothly. You can spot problems before they get too big to fix and in some cases prevent the problem from starting at all.

No one ever told me a water heater had to be maintained. I suppose I believed it to be a self-sustaining system that would, of course, eventually need to be replaced due to age but not my own inadequacies as a homeowner. Looking back at high school math, I see I really don’t need to know too many equations or theorems but I sure wish somebody would have filled me in on basic, biannual water heater maintenance.

My new rule is this: if it plugs in, is connected to a gas line and subsequently costs me money to maintain through one utility or another, it requires a biannual checkup of sorts. I will follow this rule come heck or high water…or in my case, cold, very, very cold water.

My plumber had several tips to help keep your water heater in optimal condition:

To maintain your water heater, begin by determining if it is gas or electric. Gas heaters will have a knob on the gas valve and electric heaters will have a thermostat behind a panel.

Turn down the heat. Most of us keep our water heaters set too high. A temperature of 115-120 degrees is suitable and will save you money on your utility bill. Keeping the water any hotter is a waste of energy.

Next, check your temperature and pressure release valve. This valve is very important in allowing your water heater to function safely and efficiently. If the temperature or pressure in your water heater tank gets too high, this valve releases a small amount of water. If your temperature and pressure release valve is defective really bad things, including explosions, can take place.

To check it simply lift up the valve lever a bit and allow it to snap back into place. You will hear a gurgling sound as the valve releases a small amount of water into the drain tube. If it does not, consult a plumber who can replace the valve.

Sediment develops at the bottom of your water heater over time. It is important to remove it so it doesn’t cause rust and corrosion to slowly eat away at your water heater tank. Water heaters have a drain valve near the bottom of the tank.

Depending on the make and model of your water heater, the process in opening this valve may vary. Consult your owner’s manual (there is a reason to keep those pesky manuals) to see how to open this drain valve. Drain a few gallons into a bucket. At first the water may appear dirty. That is OK.

The whole point of doing this routine maintenance is to get that dirty, sediment-filled water out of the tank. Close the valve. Empty the bucket and give yourself a pat on the back. You have just fulfilled your duties as a homeowner.