Happy 2004!

Carole joined DeShawn and I in Chester to bring in the new year. I’m mostly an old bear about staying up too late, especially during the colder months. But, with some gentle persuasion from Carole, I actually stayed awake until midnight on December 31; the first time in a couple of decades. There’s a lot of hope in our non-nuclear family that 2004 will be a very good year all around. If the year’s start was any indication, that hope is well founded.

The restoration theme for the holidays immediately past was definitely "electrical", set in a couple of old house attics. Working on Carole’s electrical issues over Christmas got all my tools and focus directed towards some of the unfinished electrical work needing to be done upstairs at 118 Henry Street. Last August, we had some electricians re-wire the upstairs, effectively removing the need for the old knob and tube circuits on the second floor.

As I mentioned after they were done, I was truly ambivalent about their work. They provided me with a practicum with which could be applied all the book education that I’d acquired about electrical work. The less positive aspect of this practicum was that almost all of their work had to be redone (by yours truly) to meet building code. As of August, I had cleaned up approximately 2/3’s of the work they had done. The remaining part was the lighting circuits for the bedrooms and bathroom that were fed from the attic.

In fairness to them, the attic wiring was not a safety hazard like the crossed circuit they left me with. But, with wires running willy-nilly, diagonally across the ceiling joists with no anchoring or protection, it was very disorganized and difficult to do any other work in the attic without stepping on wires. The finishing touch was that they forgot to wire one outlet when running the outlet circuit and, at the very end of their stay, had to wire it to the lighting circuit.

So, New Year’s day and January 2nd was spent in the attic organizing and mediating the tangled mess. About 6 hours on the 1st and 4 hours on the 2nd got the outlet issue resolved and most of the spiderweb of number 12 wire taken care of. I learned quite a bit working in Carole’s house and made good progress overall. Even put in a porcelain light fixture for future journeys to the attic!

Saturday, DeShawn and I spent most of the day outside. The weather was gorgeous with temps in the 70’s. The Carolina’s almost always have a January thaw week when the cold is broken for a bit with warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. This year, it came very early and well timed for the holidays. I experienced this phenomenon during my very first winter in North Carolina. In the last week of January, 1989, I was bouldering in shorts and a tee-shirt, perspiring in the 78 degree sun.

While DeShawn rode his new bike, dug holes in the yard, chased the cat and generally enjoyed the spring atmosphere, I blew and raked the last of the leaves from the yard. This was the third round of leaf maintenance so far this winter. The big pin oak (that’s willow oak to you folks north of the Mason-Dixon line) nearest the house finally gave up the last of its foliage. Total amount of leaves this year was relatively high, probably because of the abundant rainfall in 2003. Based on past years, the bets are on my having moved about 5000 gallons of leaves, mostly pin oak.

Hope you all had a good holiday and wish you a needle pegged to the right on the Progess-o-meter for 2004!