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Christmas Letter 2017

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Dec. 24, 2017


Dear Friends,

Here I am again, writing this letter at the last minute and will have to send online at this point. My mind has been on too many other projects and for awhile, I thought maybe it would not hurt to miss a year doing this letter. But I’ve been writing a Christmas letter since 1991 and I guess for me alone, it’s an annual summary journal of sorts - why stop now, right?  Heck, I might make a book out of these sometime.

To summarize the year, well, if you’re on Facebook,  you know my big focus this year as been “the bakery.”  I bought a building...more than five years ago now...in downtown Carterville for lots of reasons, one of them being that I just thought our town needed a bakery and cafe.  I also wanted the challenge of designing and renovating a bakery.

Rise Above It Bakery & Cafe is what I call “the tiny building that could.”  We have jumped so many hurdles, for those helping me with this venue.  We’ve also endured so many challenges along the way th…

Kitchen - Thrill Of The Dig

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For whatever reason, I love to look at a room of a "fixer-upper" and determine the challenges, and how to solve them.  Even more, I love the "dig", taking a room a part, piece by piece, like it is a puzzle, enjoying the unexpected discoveries along the way, and getting it down to a clean slate.
This is the picture of the kitchen before I started tearing it apart. Lovely, isn't it?  In it's day, it certainly was, but it probably has not been updated in 40-50 years, and obviously I can't do carpet in a kitchen.
One of the first things I did was take the ceiling fan down (of course), and because I could not figure out how to get it down in once piece, this was an added feature in one of our bonfires.  I then took up part of the carpet (which was glued to subfloor for added exercise) and pulled out the refrigerator (guessing it is from the 1960s at the latest).  This, of course, was after I took off the door, because I could not get it to budge, at first, and…

Age Doesn't Stop This Family

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So I had the first-time task for me of taking out the chimney in my house.  I think I might have mentioned in an earlier post that I thought I could get a head start on this project while I waited for a carpenter with roofing skills and I would take down the chimney myself, and let him patch the roof.

Funny how roofs don't seem that high or steep until you get to the top of the ladder and literally crawl on the roof with claws like a cat. Anyway, I was determined and I made it to the chimney with sledgehammer, hammer and chisel in hand and ongoing prayers for coordination.

When I got ready to take the first swing, I noticed a wasp flying out of the chimney, and then another, and then another.

I quickly got back in cat-claw, must-crawl position and was now praying out loud to Jesus to please get me down that ladder safely and I will never be this stupid again.

He answered.  I made it down safe.  I went inside and tore up the couch.

The carpenter had a busy schedule, and said he didn'…

Slow Process...

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So, I had to leave town for a week of computer training, had friends staying with me for a weekend in Nashville, and then had my niece's wedding...so, house progress has not been as fast as I would like (never is).


But few things have happened since my last post.  I came home one day after to work to find this Tonka toy in my driveway. My kind brother told me one day that he would pull out the bushes in my front yard as well as cut down the tree, and the next day by golly it was done.


Now, you can see the front my house.  I plan to close in the front porch, take the windows out and replace with a couple new windows, and center the door underneath the dormer. Eventually, I would like to add on a front porch, but we'll see what I get done with the rest of the house prior to spring/summer.

I have some great friends in my hometown, a few of the guys are sort of like adopted brothers.  So one day, my real brother takes bushes out and cuts a tree down for me.  I go out of town and I co…

There's More Than One Way To Skin A Cat, I Mean, Couch

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In the middle of the living room floor, on top of the multi-level green shag carpet that needed to be taken up, was this lovely couch.  It's heavy, it is a recliner on both ends, and because I purchased the home from an estate, no one knew how the previous owner got this couch into the room.  Every way the sellers tried to get the couch out, it just didn't seem to fit through the door.

Well, I was going to wait a few days to line up some guys to try to figure this out, but it didn't take long to get tired of walking around it.  It stared at me like it had won, and screamed that it was something that I couldn't do on my own.

I accepted the challenge.  After my wasp/chimney episode, it was the perfect task to release some stress on something I could do.  I flipped it over, and with a saw, sledge hammer, crowbar, hammer, wrench and screwdrivers, began taking it apart with the back side and underneath so I could see the "guts" of this beast.


This is the pile it beca…