Top Down Ride

We cruised with the top down on the on April 16, 2016.  So much fun!

Even more delightful because this 1968 GTS sat in the garage without starting for 13 years and we only thought about rides (we spent our time raising kids and enjoying their activities).

Seems all that was required to start it was a little Russ magic.

File Apr 28, 7 22 51 AM

1968 GTS, 383 4 speed


Firing Up the Riverbank

It was mid-April and 80 degrees!  So we packed up and headed to the River Property for the day with the dogs and a little project. It seemed extra hot with no shade because there were no leaves.

The project:  Burn the leaves on the riverbank (of course, this was Dad’s last minute idea, i.e. no plan). The accumulation of leaves had increased over the winter (and likely winters before).  Apparently, as the river goes up and down, all kinds of things park themselves on our bank, ’cause we are on a bend, I guess. Good news! No new island of knot weed deposited this year.

My job — start a fire on the bank and rake leaves into the fire. I’d like to remind everyone, this is Dad’s no-plan leaf burn

Did I mention it was hot with no shade?

After I cleared an area for the fire, then moved it because Dad didn’t like my location, and finally started a small fire on the BIG rock, I took a break. Then I got up to continue raking.

Did I mention it was hot and no shade?

As I raked more leaves into the fire, a light breeze picked up and suddenly the part of the riverbank starting burning. I’ll cut to the chase here: we were not on the nightly news, and the fire department did not have to come out…..but it was nip and tuck for a bit. I went into fast action mode – to get water to keep it from the next property and Dad started raking the fire to get it back to in its place.  Alas, I’m not a great water girl — the 5 gallon containers are super heavy when filled with water and I had to drag them up the hill to the fire, then go down the hill to fill them, then back up the hill — you get the picture. We got the fire under control, just before it crossed over to the other property where the vegetation is tall and dry. We then guided it to burn in segments on the riverbank.

Did I mention it was hot and no shade? The dogs had to get in the river to cool off.

Before I started this project I fussed about the amount of work required to burn (I wanted to relax) but I guess the universe thought I should rest too because the riverbank burn was over and done quick!  Next step – PLANTING GRASSES!

Note — no pictures of burning bank, all the photographers were busy.

“Dad, I need to Pop!”

He took one look at her shoes and asked, “Are you really going to wear those?” And Jen said, “Daaaaad, I need to Pop!” — AND SHE DID!

JenShoesWe just arrived to attend the First Year Engineering Conference*and met her before her presentation. It was a lively day with more than 500 professional looking Freshman presenting at their allotted time.  A combination of interested parents, smiling upperclassmen hosts, eager presenters, and posters that hung on the walls created the energetic atmosphere. We

  • saw Jen’s winning “best in group” poster,
  • learned that Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes are the topics of interest to many students, across engineering disciplines.
  • ate a plentiful and YUMMY Lunch!
  • enjoyed Jen’s presentation skills
  • watched the roommates’ visually interesting presentation.
  • met the friend group parents and enjoyed a dinner for 12 at Lidia’s Pittsburgh.

The day was one of those days you feel blessed to have!  Can’t wait for another event.

*Each year the entire First-Year Engineering class at the University of Pittsburgh participates in a professional-style conference. Each student and a partner prepare a conference research paper and poster then present their paper to their peers, alumni, family and faculty. This paper is the completion of a year-long writing project.




The Dustpan

By mistake I threw the dustpan away, oops. 
It happened the day I cleaned the concrete pad outside the walkout basement.
It was the favorite dustpan.
We ventured to Home Depot on a Saturday.
It was a popular dustpan shopping day, and the aisle was jammed with customers.
After a short wait, we retrieved the dustpan we wanted, the same as we had before.
Who knew dustpan shopping was so popular on Saturdays.
The joy of owning a new dustpan carried into Sunday and beyond.

Fireplaces and TVs, Oh My!

Russ and I agreed that I would be in charge of the fireplace. It didn’t take long and this rabbit hole went deep fast. Now we have a file about 3 inches thick of information, drawings, pictures, etc. Plus we are watching TV at our current home with our TV on top of a stool on top of the TV cabinet.  Craziness.


It all started with a visit to the Fireplace store, the local one our builder likes to use. After viewing several natural gas fireplaces in the store, I casually mentioned we plan to put a TV above the fireplace as low to the ground as possible, so the fireplace would start at the floor. Then, he said, “you will be surprised how high the TV will end up.”   I wasn’t completely paying attention but I asked why.  He talked real fast about fireplace heat, codes, and TV installation rules and I glazed over.

We walked out and I wondered, HOW HIGH and what defines that height?  Then I started obsessing about it. I printed installation manuals from the fireplace companies websites and read stuff.  The funny thing – I had no idea what they were saying. Then I found mantel height information, 13 – 19 inches above fireplace top, depending on the brand.  I got distracted by questions and answers and chats online about the trend of TV over fireplace.

Russ finally engaged, for his own sanity sake, in the conversation with me; maybe I was a little consumed. The wall we plan to put TV and Fireplace in some combination (stacked or next to each other) is 20 ft, but 4 ft is window – that leaves 16 ft.

The next weekend, we visited 2 more stores, talked with sales people and put our TV up on a stool. I learned the mantel height info was for “combustible” mantels and we will put up a NON-combustible mantel. We made the assumption that the NON-combustible mantel could go a few inches above the framing height for the fireplace. Of course, most installation manuals don’t really address non-combustible mantels related to framing height, we have more work to do.

I’m calmer now because I made a chart:) That always helps me, and now I’m free to concentrate on other important details for building the house. My current favorite is the Regency P36 with louvers (the P33CE is a few inches shorter but the fireplace is pretty small). That decision happens a little later, thank goodness.

Fireplace Framing Heights