Like my former main house shut off valve, the washer shut offs were this round red handled type, that can’t be trusted to last more than a few years.
This time the old washer shut off valves didn’t break or start leaking, but recently, when I tried to turn them off, the cold water valve was stuck open. I didn’t try to force it to turn, because I’ve had one of the handles break off in my hand and the valve start spraying water (a la last year’s post).
The new shut offs. I replaced the washer shut off valves myself, with these Shark-Bite connections, and cpvc pipe. As you know if you’ve done any DIY plumbing projects in recent years, Shark Bite connections are a literal game-changer, making anyone and everyone a potential plumber. They push into place. Honest. No cement, flame torch or solder required; and no leaks.
New utility sink! I also used this as an opportunity to add a utility sink, which I’ve wanted for years. I loved the sink instantly. It gives me a place to fill and empty the mop bucket, and rinse off and soak big things. It will also serve as a backup to hold washer discharge water if there’s ever a blockage in the drain (which has happened before).
New washer hoses, too. Murphy’s Law dictates that all of my ‘simple’ DIY plumbing projects will expand into a second project. This time it was new washer hoses. As I was reconnecting the washer hoses to the new shutoff, I realized one of the hoses was going bad. Turns out, the cold water hose was so corroded at the washer connection, that it wouldn’t come loose. I feared in removing it, I might also break the connection on the washer itself. I applied some WD40 and stepped away from the project to give it time to work. Success. The hose connection came loose with some gentle coaxing, and without breaking anything else in the process.
I’d wanted the metal braided kind of washer hose, but the store didn’t have that type in the length I needed. I could have ordered and waited on them, but I wanted everything installed that day. These will be good for several years anyway.
My wheelchair-bound mom with advanced Parkinson’s, is in a care home, locked down for the pandemic. My last ‘normal’ visit with her in her room was back in February. Then came the lockdown. Earlier this month they started allowing limited visits, so my brother and I gave the required 24-hour notice of our visit, drove 5 hours each way, to talk to her outside, for 30 minutes, from behind a strip of tape that kept us 10 feet apart, with lawnmowers working all around us. She can only talk in a whisper volume, and has trouble verbalizing her thoughts and enunciating, so we could hardly make out anything she was trying to say. After 5 months, and 5 hours of driving, and all of us wearing masks, not even a hug was allowed. But we did get to see her, and take her a bottle of Coke and some homemade cookies, and that gave us all a boost.
The other thing we took to her was an Amazon Echo Dot device for her room. It has been an unbelievably helpful communication facilitator.
This post is a recommendation and review of the Echo Dot device. It is not solicited or compensated. The device has been a Godsend for us in our situation with our mom, and I want to share the information for anyone who may find themselves and a family member similarly situated.
From the moment Amazon introduced Alexa, ‘she’ was banned from my devices and my home. A device listening in my house all the time was not okay. Then I began reading about Amazon’s Echo Dot, and realized it can help my mom, who can no longer dial her phone, check messages, text, use email, etc. We got the Dot to her, and programmed it with a handful of close family members and trusted friends as her contacts. The Echo Dot picks up her whisper voice, and can understand her voice commands. She can talk to her contacts simply by saying, “Alexa, call _____.”
So, where Alexa was once banned from my house, ‘she’ is now listening day and night in the form of an Echo Dot on my front room table.
The Drop In
Not only can the Echo Dot call your contacts’ phones; it can also ‘drop in’ on other Echo Dots or Alexa-enabled devices. It works like an intercom. I say, “Alexa, drop in on Mom.” I’m instantly talking to her through the Echo Dot in her room, and the sound is loud and clear, as if she’s here in my house.
The first time I ‘Dropped In’ on Mom, it went perfectly. I dropped in, started talking, she heard me and we had a brief conversation, as if she were here in the next room, rather than another state. We ended that drop in with agreement to do another one soon.
Then I started getting ready for bed, and let Myrtle-the-dog out one last time. I happened to glance toward the Echo, and realized it was glowing green, which meant someone had Dropped In and could hear me. It was Mom, trying the Drop In for herself. I frantically thought back through the last few minutes, trying to remember if I’d said any cuss words or something else I wouldn’t want Mom to hear. It was a flashback to being a busted teenager. I now watch my language even in my own house, because you-know-who might be listening.
It’s been a couple of weeks, and the Echo has been amazing for her. She can make a shopping list of things she needs someone to bring or send to her. She can call her friends and family, and Drop In on those of us with Alexa devices. Her voice is loud and clear. I can assist remotely by adding to her contacts, and reading her shopping list, etc., from the Alexa app.
Shopping List. She can say, “Alexa, put socks on the shopping list.” And we know she needs socks.
Routines. We’ve set up a couple of Alexa ‘routines’ for her. One is for morning. She can say, “Alexa, good morning.” It will tell her the day, time, weather, and a news briefing from the Kansas City Star. There’s a ‘good news’ briefing, that will give her a good news report. There is an evening routine with tomorrow’s forecast and a news briefing.
Music. She tells Alexa to play 50s music, Elvis songs, classic country, and more. Alexa does what she requests.
Meanwhile, here at my place, I’ve now gotten a Smart Plug, that allows me to say, “Alexa, turn on/off the light.” Each morning Alexa reads me my calendar for the day, the weather report, and a news briefing when I say, “Alexa, good morning.” Alexa is now maintaining my grocery list. And now that the MLB season is underway, I can ask, “Alexa, what time is the Royals game?”
Wrapping this up…, if you are like the pre-Alexa me, you’ll want to keep banning her from your home and devices. It’s a privacy thing. I don’t blame you. But if you have a need to stay in touch with a vulnerable family member or friend, even temporarily, the Echo Dot works, and works well. All it requires is a plugin and a wifi connection. It has restored our ability to have a daily conversation with our mom, and she can contact and talk to us and her other close friends and family at will, even though she can no longer operate her phone.
After looking at the life and career of Nelly Don the iconic Kansas City designer in Part 1, and then deciphering the diagram for her 1925 patented zero-waste apron in Part 2, here in Part 3 are the apron construction steps.
The Apron and patent drawings:
Last week’s post provided measurements for drawing and cutting out the pieces, like this:
Nelly Don designed the apron to be sewn in one sitting, without having to remove it from the sewing machine. So now in Part 3 we sit down at the sewing machine and start constructing:
These are the chronological construction steps:
Hem all free edges
Side Panel (C) top edge
Pocket (D) top edge
Back (B) centers
Sew a Pocket (D) on each Side Panel (C)
Join Front (A) to Front Yoke (E)
Join Backs (B) to Back Yoke (F)
Join Side Panels (C) to Backs (B) and then to each side of the Front (A).
Join Front Yoke (E) to Back Yoke (F) at shoulders.
Hem entire lower edge
Sew ties to back pieces at the waist line.
Here are the above-listed steps in pictures:
Hem all free edges (shown in blue)
Sew a Pocket (D) to each Side Panel (C), along the bottom edge of the Pocket, right sides together.
Then flip Pocket right side up, and top stitch across lower edge of Pocket.
Join Front (A) to Front Yoke (E), right sides together.
Join Backs (B) to Back Yoke (F), right sides together.
Join Side Panels (C) to Backs (B), right sides together. Catch the pocket side in the seam.
At this point, the your pieces will look like this:
Join Side Sections (C) to Front (A), right sides together. Again, catch the pocket side in the seam.
Join Front Yoke (E) to Back Yoke (F) at shoulders, right sides together.
Tada! Now you have your lovely apron. To finish it, turn under and hem entire lower edge and the armholes; bind the neckline; and sew ties to the back for the closure.
How about some finished examples? These were my practice attempts:
This wraps up the Nelly Don apron series. My obsession with the patent drawings has been satisfied…for now; although I do keep thinking of more ways to experiment with it. Have you made a Nelly Don apron? I’d love to hear about your experience with it.
Back to 2020, Series 6 of The Great British Sewing Bee is about to conclude. It’s been a fabulous series of talented sewing contestants and their creations. Last week was ‘Hollywood Week’, and it did not disappoint! https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1148109945557937
I may end up buying the authentic Thundershirt for Myrtle (or one of the smorgasbord of other brands now available on Amazon, such as this one called Mellow Shirt“).
But first I want to see if Myrtle needs it and if it will calm her during fireworks season. We’ve had three nights of fireworks in the neighborhood so far. The first night, she was visibly agitated, even in the house when I was with her, trying to comfort her. She was startled and barked at every boom.
So, I’ve mocked up a DIY compression vest for her. The first mock up is made of terry cloth, to be soft and cool.
The next mock up will be all or part netting, and stretchier:
While wearing the terrycloth vest, she immediately began sitting and laying down more, while not showing signs that the vest bothers her.
However, the real test hasn’t occurred yet. The fireworks have been quiet in our ‘hood since that first night.
I’ll be watching and tweaking the vests all week, hoping that by July 4th, we’ll have something that keeps her from being frightened.
The vest has not taken away her energy, and by that I mean her desire to play with the baby robins in the neighbor’s tree.
Do you have a main water shut-off valve inside your house? It’s a code requirement, so you probably do. But if for some reason you don’t have one, I recommend getting one installed. It makes it easy to shut off the water to repair or replace toilet valves, washer hoses, sink faucets and supply lines, etc.
Mine looks like this. I access it from a trap door in a closet.
Do you turn off the main shut-off when you go on vacation? I recommend it. It’s peace of mind that you won’t come home to a flooded house if a washer hose bursts, pipes freeze or some other unplanned catastrophe occurs.
Can you easily access your main shut-off valve, or is it behind a locked door, accessible only by ladder, or otherwise barricaded by stuff? If so, I recommend clearing a path and making it quickly accessible. That way, if there is a water emergency, such as a burst pipe or hose, you can quickly stop the flow.
The next important question is: Is your main shut-off valve this type?
If so, I recommend replacing it, and here’s why. It will break.
Recently, I turned the water off at the shut-off, so I could replace a toilet valve. With the toilet valve easily replaced, I re-opened the shut-off valve. Unexpectedly, the shut-off valve handle came off in my hand, and water started pouring into the space under my house.
Miraculously, I got the handle back on and the valve closed. Murphy’s Law dictated that this would happen on a Sunday afternoon. No plumbers were available. I went all night without running water, worrying that the shut-off would fail. Thankfully it didn’t. The plumber got here first thing in the morning and replaced the valve. He replaced it with a quarter-turn ball valve.
This is the type of shut-off I had always wanted, but didn’t realize I should have gone ahead and gotten the replacement. The total cost was $150. The plumber rolled his eyes at the round handle type and said “they all fail”.
With the quarter-turn ball valve, my peace of mind is restored. If I want to replace a faucet, or go on vacation, a simple turn of the shut-off valve is all it takes to turn the water off to the entire house.
Not all water can be so easily turned off. I’m speaking of all of the rain we are getting here in the Arkansas River region. Our banks, reservoirs and ditches are full, and we are sending the excess on to Oklahoma and Arkansas. Sorry ’bout that, neighbors to the south.
Bridges are still doing okay in my area, but some streets and paths, not so much. Parts of our river bike/walk path has been submerged. When the water recedes, in some spots the path has washed away with it.
‘Some’ are enjoying it. Others like me are spending a lot of extra effort on cleanup. Sigh.
There’s a lot of conversation about measles these days, in the US anyway. Here’s my story….
I got miserably sick with fever, and then a rash started showing up. Mom took me to the doctor. The bewildering diagnosis was measles. It was bewildering because–
No one gets measles (or so I thought); and
As a child, I had been vaccinated against measles. My immunization records confirmed it.
The assumption was made that the vaccine failed, or the pediatrician’s staff had noted the immunization in my records but forgot to actually administer the vaccine.
It was the most miserable I’ve ever been in my life, and scary.
There were the typical symptoms of being sick–Achy and miserable all over, nose, throat and relentless cough; no energy for anything but bed rest.
Itchy, burning rash–The rash covered my entire body, and itched and burned like mad, day and night.
High Fever—persistent, deadly high temperatures.
Ice baths–The high fever had to be controlled with intermittent freezing cold ice baths.
Night sweats–I learned to love them, because it meant the fever was breaking, or something like that. Confession: I still love night sweats to this day, because I remember the relief it brought.
The misery lasted about a month, with 2+ weeks being absolute round-the-clock hell.
The rash made me really ugly.
The rash was thick, soft and red, and covered my entire body; face, arms, legs, and torso. Visualize the worse case of acne, chicken pox and poison ivy ever seen, and then fill in any open spaces with more rash.
My dad teased me about how bad I looked and asked if I was going on a date. (Yeah, thanks, Dad. :p )
The rash didn’t disappear when the other symptoms finally did. It was basically a massive number of sores that took their own time to heal.
Even after the sores healed, the rash left dark, blotchy shadows on my face and body, under the skin. It took weeks and weeks for the shadows to fade away gradually.
I could have infected lots of other people because I didn’t know I had a highly-contagious, potentially deadly virus.
The 16-year-old me did all of these things on a regular basis:
Worked at a fast food restaurant
Went to school every day
Went shopping (tried on clothing, shoes and jewelry, and tested makeup)
Went swimming with friends
Hung out at friends’ homes
Ate at restaurants
Dated boys (and kissed them)
Cared for my toddler brother at home (feeding, dressing, child’s play, etc.)
My mom was pregnant at the time with our baby brother, or she got pregnant soon after that.
Who knows where I came in contact with the measles virus, but the list above indicates it could have been anywhere. Kids and teenagers are constantly in contact with the world.
From the Mayo Clinic on how measles is spread:
Measles is a highly contagious illness caused by a virus that replicates in the nose and throat of an infected child or adult.
When someone with measles coughs, sneezes or talks, infected droplets spray into the air, where other people can inhale them.
The infected droplets may also land on a surface, where they remain active and contagious for several hours.
You can contract the virus by putting your fingers in your mouth or nose or rubbing your eyes after touching the infected surface.
About 90 percent of susceptible people who are exposed to someone with the virus will be infected.
When I finally healed, it was complete. I was lucky. Some common complications from measles are dangerous and/or permanent.
From the Mayo website on common complications from measles:
Ear problems. One of the most common complications of measles is a bacterial ear infection. Permanent hearing impairment can result.
Bronchitis, laryngitis or croup. Measles may lead to inflammation of your voice box (larynx) or inflammation of the inner walls that line the main air passageways of your lungs (bronchial tubes).
Pneumonia. Pneumonia is a common complication of measles. People with compromised immune systems can develop an especially dangerous variety of pneumonia that is sometimes fatal.
Encephalitis. About 1 in 1,000 people with measles develops a complication called encephalitis. Encephalitis may occur right after measles, or it might not occur until months later.
Pregnancy problems. If you’re pregnant, you need to take special care to avoid measles because the disease can cause preterm labor, low birth weight and maternal death
Did I mention having measles was the most miserable I’ve ever been in my life? It was. Scary, too. I don’t want to ever feel like that again. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Can I get measles again? I asked my doc that this week, and the answer was “maybe”. My choices are to get a test to see if I have the antibodies, or skip the test and go ahead and get the vaccine. I’ve decided to get the test first, mainly to satisfy my curiosity. Stay tuned….
Last month I ordered a new phone and case. When they arrived, the case didn’t fit the phone. Dollar Store to the rescue. At the Dollar Store, I found some cases that were the correct width, but too short. They were flexible material, so I decided to try cutting one to make it fit. I bought two, in case I messed one up. Here’s how the process went.
Cut the case in two, to increase the length. The case is a rubbery material, so strong shears are needed. I used kitchen shears. (The picture below shows the finished black case on the right, and next to it the turquoise one in progress.)
This shows the additional length needed to fit over the phone. Next I punched holes in both pieces, to stitch in a piece of fabric to bridge the gap.
Marking and punching the holes:
The locations of the holes were first measured and marked, using a simple ruler and gel pen.
A leather punch worked great for punching the holes. My leather punch isn’t the exact one pictured, but is substantially similar. It was $7 well spent. I use the punch all the time for making belts fit, and numerous other ‘hacks’. Click the picture to go to the punch on Amazon.
When one side was punched…
I used those holes to mark where to punch on the corresponding piece.
Then, using cotton yarn and a darning needle, I stitched a scrap of woven belting to each side, to bridge the gap. Almost any durable fabric could be used. Think denim, duck canvas, vinyl, etc. Just make sure the edges are bound to prevent raveling.
Using the kitchen shears again, I adapted the back holes for the photo lens and sensor. This first attempted adaptation wasn’t very pretty, but it did its job.
On the other case, I omitted the fabric, and simply laced the two pieces together with elastic cord.
The cord lacing fits as well as the fabric piece. It was easier to do, and came out looking a lot nicer than the fabric, I think.
Here’s a side view. With the kitchen shears, I modified the side cutouts to match the control buttons on the phone.
From the front, the cases look like this.
The DIY cases worked out great. They never came loose from the phone, and they did their job of protecting the phone while I ordered another case that was supposed to fit the phone. When that case didn’t fit, I ordered a third case. After three failed attempts to get a proper case, I gave up. There were other issues with the phone too, so the phone was returned, and I ordered a different phone and case. The DIY Dollar Store cases got me through while waiting for the ‘right’ phone and case to arrive, and they would have lasted a long time, if I’d kept that phone.
Have a lovely Easter. We sang this in church on Easter morning when I was little.
This 2017 documentary shows Andy Warhol, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Truman Capote, Lee Radziwill, photographer Peter Beard, and others, enjoying themselves at an ocean-front home in Montauk, and at Lee’s Aunt Edie’s house in East Hampton. Beard is the main narrator. Some of the surviving participants and their contemporaries gave interviews for the documentary. There are no put-ons in the vintage film footage. No one is on stage or playing to an audience. The footage is akin to home movies of a group of friends having fun away from the city, taking pictures, and indulging their creative propensities. That is, except for Lee’s part in helping to bring her aunt’s house up to code. That part gave the impression of being professionally filmed, but was no less interesting.
About Lee’s Aunt Edie and her house:
If you have seen the 1975 documentary, Grey Gardens, then you know of Edie and the house, and that the two ladies who lived there are famous. If you haven’t seen the original Grey Gardens, that is the place to start.
[This video is labeled ‘trailer’, but it’s the entire 2+ hour Grey Gardens documentary on Youtube.]
The two Edies became increasingly reclusive and eccentric during their time living together at Grey Gardens. They never left the property. They had their groceries delivered. By the 1970s, the house had deteriorated to a point where they didn’t have proper plumbing, heat or garbage service. The local code enforcement authorities stepped in like bulls in a china shop, did further damage to the house, and tried to remove the Edies from their home and property. The Bouvier-Onassis-Radziwill sisters sprung into action to save the Edies’ home without usurping their chosen lifestyle.
In 2009, a Grey Gardens movie was released. Drew Barrymore did a great job portraying Little Edie, and Jessica Lange was great as Big Edie. The movie told the poignant backstory of the Edies growing up, and how they ended up living together in their old home. The movie can be streamed for free right now with a Prime subscription. https://smile.amazon.com/Grey-Gardens-Drew-Barrymore/dp/B007Q34WIK
In 2015, the spoof series Documentary Now!, did an eerily likable episode on Grey Gardens, with Fred Armisen playing Big Edie and Bill Hader playing Little Edie. The episode is called ‘Sandy Passage’. Definitely a fun watch.
More about Big Edie and Little Edie:
Big Edie was beautiful, spirited and talented. She loved singing, dancing and performing for others. Her lawyer-husband left her in 1931, when their three children were still young. Once the children were grown, he divorced and disinherited her, which left her only the Grey Gardens property and a $65,000 trust fund.
Little Edie was also beautiful, spirited and talented. She spent her young adult years in New York City, but never married. At some point in her life she became bald. There are conflicting stories about how she came to be bald. To cover her baldness, she wears a variety of headscarves in the documentary, sometimes adorned with jewelry.
Little Edie has so many great moments in the documentary, but this has to be my fave. Here she is, showing off her self-designed practical outfit for the day–upcycling and repurposing long before those concepts were cool.
The rest of the Grey Gardens story.
I can envision two more potential documentaries to be made out of the Grey Gardens story:
One is about Little Edie’s life after Grey Gardens. She left the home after her mother died in 1977, returned to the stage for awhile, and had other projects, until passing away in 2002.
To say Grey Gardens is an awkward documentary to watch is an understatement. Somewhere at any given moment, viewers are easing the awkwardness by making jokes about crazy cat ladies and hoarders; and scoffing about rich people who can’t take care of themselves. But looking past the easy jokes, the story comes through about how individual all human beings are, and how each person chooses in what ways to conform, and not conform, in the community and society. I’m captivated by these stories, and so glad for Big Edie and Little Edie and the Grey Gardens documentary, and for the inspiration for creativity and delightful individualism.
IMDB links: (Put together these four films, and you have a superb binge-watch.)
And now, back to ‘That Summer’ and what makes it special. The footage in this 2017 indie documentary precedes the Grey Gardens documentary, and brings together the Edies and Grey Gardens at its most delapidated, with those most famous Warhol-Studio 54 denizens when they escaped the city to the quiet Hamptons. It is truly unique. If binge watching, I think you can either start or end the series with “That Summer”. “That Summer” can be streamed from the usual sources, and can be viewed free on Hulu with a subscription. https://www.hulu.com/movie/that-summer-6c7dd4c4-49cd-4666-b794-e00ae5ab311a
…is that you might not want to give the pup back. I knew it would happen to me eventually. Turns out it was foster pup #8. I’m now her permanent human. She and I have kept the name the humane society gave her–Myrtle. I never would have come up with that name on my own, but it’s adorable and fits her perfectly.
When I first picked her up from the humane society, she was 4-5 months old, and had demodex, a non-contagious mangy skin condition. She was missing much of her fur. She was uncomfortable, but had a sweet disposition anyway.
It got worse before it got better.
But the humane society clinic vets are awesome and gave us the right Rx, and in another week we started seeing gradual improvement, so that by week 3 she was really getting her fur back.
This set of pictures was supposed to be for her adoption profile page. But she was already starting to win me over.
She loves rawhide chews, furry squeaky toys, cardboard, and plastic milk containers. These days when I take the milk containers to the recycler, they are partly broken down already. 🙂
She made this mess when she was about 6 months old. She is now almost 8 months, and 44 lbs, and still this serious and industrious about her play. When she is playing, it sounds like there is a basketball scrimmage going on in the room. There is a daily carpet of chewed cardboard and plastic stuff for me to sweep up.
She’s a growl-talker. She talks to me all. the. time. I’m still trying to learn what she is telling me most of the time.
She’s a quick learner, but *cough* hard of hearing when she’s in the yard and I call her back to the house and she doesn’t want to come in. 😉
She has an insatiable love for playing tug-of-war. A tennis ball in a sock is the best for that. Here she is with her ball & sock, telling me it’s time to play. She loves taking walks on the leash, which is less a walk than her dragging of me down the street. Once we have the leash walking routine worked out, I think she’ll be my first dog ever to be a good running buddy.
Breed? She has to be part Labrador, because she has webbed paws, and she’s a water dog. I’ve already had to pull her from icy lake water. I was a terrified foster mom, and she was a cold scared puppy. That may have helped to form the bond. I think she is also part pit and/or boxer.
She likes riding with me in the car, so when I reach for her Kurgo seatbelt harness, she goes wild. But once in the car she calms down and is great at riding shotgun.
She has her own ‘girl cave’…
Because she does great at home alone, I rarely close her in the girl cave. But, I do regularly drop treats and toys in there for her to find, so she thinks of it as her ‘happy place’.
So anyway, you’ll see more of Myrtle now and then.
Hopefully, this doesn’t mean the end of my fostering, but it will limit the doggos I can foster. No more tiny ones, or contagious conditions.