Category Archives: Uncategorized

Joys of Owning a Home


I am sure that most houses have their subtle sounds that the homeowner is aware of and just shrugs off as being part of the house.  It might be a creaking floorboard.  Maybe it is the sound of the wind coming through the not quite fully sealed window.  Most sounds can be ignored and nothing major needs to be done.

I wish I could say the same for my problem.  It started a few days ago.  I had gone to bed early because I was tired.  I thought I was in a sound sleep when I heard the commode flush.  Just Kathy in the bathroom I thought, but why was she using the one in the powder room?  Oh, well.  I went back to sleep.

The next day Kathy and I were  sitting having breakfast.  The commode flushed again.  We were both there so it wasn’t us.  The cats were waiting for their milk so they didn’t do it.  There was no one else in the house that I knew of so who flushed?  Do we have ghosts?  Did some phantom flush just to let us know we are not alone?

What should I do?  Well, I chose the only logical path…ignore it and it will go away.  I ignored, but it did not go away.  In fact, the flushes became more frequent.  We had a phantom flush that needed to be dealt with.  I could call a plumber or I could go to the hardware store and get a new flapper unit and fix it myself.

Here is the culprit.


Maybe if I dumped those jugs of kitty litter into the tank that might solve the problem.  No, I guess it would just make matters worse.

So, this morning I went to the hardware store and bought this.


I like the words Easy Install.  We will see.  You now know what my project for the afternoon will be.  Wish me luck.  Who knows.  May it will lead to next week’s post.



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Center for Advanced Technology


I sometimes have difficulty settling in for a good night’s sleep so when I heard that there was a new product that could possibly help me I had to check it out.  Sometimes my mind races with thoughts of what needs to be done or places I need to go.  Sometimes my legs seem to be all over the bed and I can’t find a comfortable spot.

I was reading my Men’s Health magazine and found an article about a new device developed by the Center for Advanced Technology.  This product promised to take care of these problems that seem to plague me at night.

When I read the product description it seemed like the ideal thing to own.  I couldn’t wait.  I had to get one. I got on line and ordered this product and waited for it to come.  Finally it got here. I must say that it works very well despite its few drawbacks. I probably should have waited for the new and improved model which I am sure they are working on so that all of the kinks were worked out, but oh, well.

What is this wonderful new must have item you ask?  It is called the Comfortable Anti-anxiety Throw, CAT for short.  The CAT is fur covered so it is soft and feels good to the touch.

The CAT comes with many features.  You know how some people can’t fall asleep without a white noise machine?  Well, with the CAT no machine is needed.  The CAT produces its own pleasing and relaxing relaxing sound.  If you are like me and like to run your hand over the fur the noise will get progressively louder.

If you have lower back pain the CAT will undoubtedly find its way to the small of your back and bunch up in that spot.  It is amazing how much heat radiates from the CAT.  I must tell you, however, that when the CAT is in this position it is sometimes difficult to move the CAT or for you to shift positions.  Because of this immovability, the CAT also works well for keeping covers in place.

If you have Restless Leg Syndrome you might consider getting two CATs.  With one on each side of your legs your feet will stay still throughout the night. Come morning you just have to smooth out the covers because blankets and sheets did not shift thanks to the CAT.

Of course, when I got mine I went for the deluxe model which could have been a mistake on my part.  You see, my CAT comes with a built in morning alarm.  However, there is no way to set the alarm or turn it off.  This is something the tech guys need to work on.  The CAT goes off whenever it feels like whether I want to get up at that time or not.  It will not stop until I get out of bed. There is also no way to adjust it when we switch to Daylight Savings Time.

I must admit that I did get more than one CAT.  I actually have three.  Some might think that this is too many, but what do they know.  I am really happy with my three CATs and would not trade them in.

So, if you are having difficulty sleeping I highly suggest that you look into getting a CAT.  You will not be sorry.

Here are the ones I got helping me with my restless legs.



Oh, by the way, I hear that the Center also has another model who want to peacefully settle in.  It is called Drift Off Gently, DOG for short if this is more to your liking.

You might also want to go all out and get one of each.  Whatever works for you.



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Everything Old…


I guess it’s true, if you wait long enough things come back.  The other day Kathy and I were walking around B & N. We went into their music/media section.  It has been a while since i looked around there since I mostly spend my time with the books.

Anyway, I was really surprised at all of the vinyl they carried.  I know that records were making a comeback, but I was surprised at the volume of records they had.

I started looking through them just to see what titles they carried.  Their top spot – Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  Oh my.  Kathy and I looked at each other.  We have the original.

We looked some more.  Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Whipped Cream.  Have that one too.

As we looked we saw many more that we have the originals of  Oh my I was feeling old.  I looked at the price. $39.00 and up.  Wow.  We have a fortune in LPs in our house.

There were also a number of turntables.  I remember one of the first ones I had where you could stack up to five records on the record mount (not sure of the correct term) and  as one finished playing the next one would drop down so that you didn’t have to change records constantly. My first one also played different speeds. 33 1/3 rpm. 45 rpm, and 78 rpm.

I then started thinking about a commercial I have seen on TV and wondered if I am seeing it incorrectly or am I missing something.  Maybe you have sen it too.

It is for a medicine – I won’t mention which one.  Anyway, a young family is visiting a yard sale and they spot a record.  The wife buys it.  She gets it home and digs out an old record player to show her son.  She puts the record on the machine, turns it on, and places the needle on the record.  Here is where it gets interesting.  Maybe it is my eyes, but to me it looks like she places the needle at the end of the record.  She then begins dancing with her son.

Now, with all of the record players I have had if I put the needle there I would not get music.  My machines didn’t play backwards.  Did someone not do their research before filming?  Oh, well.  I suddenly feel very old.



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More from PCTELA


Whoever chairs the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (PCTELA) Conference always gets a great line up of featured speakers.  Amy and Julie really outdid themselves this year.  Laurie Halse Anderson – need I say more.

Before I talk a bit about what she had to say I must say that one of the perks of being on the PCTELA Board is that I get a chance to have lunch with the speakers.  Here  are both Laurie Halse Anderson and Jennie Brown.


Laurie started her presentation by saying that her role as a writer is to, “tell the truth.”  It might be uncomfortable to some, but it must be told.



Here is how she summed up the different drafts of her writing.


Then there was her thought on censorship.


She stated that many students hate the way writing makes them feel.  As a result, many procrastinate.  However, as she goes on to explain, procrastination is a tool used to keep from writing.  I admit that I do fall into this category.

Her one truth about writing is that, “It’s really hard.” One thing she stressed was that the majority of writing takes place in the revision process as this blurry slide shows.  “Keep calm and Revise, Revise, Revise.”


To give students more time to write, she suggests that shorter assignments be given so that students have more time to revise.

She ended her presentation with these words:

Words have poser!”

As I said earlier, there are some perks to being on the PCTELA Board.  Because I like to get down to the registration table early to help set things up for the day I got a chance to talk with Laurie while she was waiting for the shuttle to take her to the airport.  It was nice to just have a conversation with her without others waiting in line for a book signing.




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Thoughts on PCTELA 2017


I spent the weekend in Pittsburgh at the PCTELA 2017 Conference.  Wow!  Our chairs, Amy Nyeholt and Julie DiNples, put together a fantastic program.  Thank you Julie and Amy.


My job is to work the registration table.  Here it is all set up before the first people arrive.


I really enjoy doing this because it gives me a chance to greet people as they come.  It is always great seeing returning faces as well as first time attendees.

Here we have Amy and Julie welcoming everyone to the conference and then introducing our first two speakers.


Our first two featured speakers were people whom I have known for several years and consider friends.  Jennie K. Brown is a PCTELA Board member and a past PCTELA president.  She is the author of the Poppy Mayberry series, her first book which was published last year and her new one which was just recently published.  On a side note I am planning on going to her book launching party on Saturday.

Sharing the stage with her was Jason Griffith.  Jason is a Writing Project Fellow whom I met several years ago when he was going through the project and I was asked to present a lesson to the group.  He is getting his doctorate and is ABD.  His first book, From Me to We  was just published.

Jennie was the first to speak.  She focused on why she writes.  It boils down to one word: inspiration.  She writes to inspire kids to read and write.

Jason then spoke about narrative non-fiction. c6

One problem he sometimes sees in research papers is that students either have no citations on a page or else everything is cited and there is no student reaction.  To combat this he likes the one page research paper.  Students get one page to give one quote, one source, and their thoughts on the cited text.



These shots are not the best, however, Jason’s entire presentation, along with a 20% coupon for his book, can be found at his web site under PCTELA 2017.  That site is:

I think I will let our next speaker, Laurie Halse Anderson, go until next week.

One final thing I would like to say is that one of the perks of being on the PCTELA Board is that I get time to share a meal with friends and slicers I haven’t seen in a while.  Great seeing you Aileen Hower and Lynne Dorfman.



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What a difference a year makes!  Last year at this time I was was a bit frantic because I was chair for the 2016 PCTELA Conference.  Was everything set at the Penn Stater?  Would we have a good turn out? Would my speakers arrive in time?  Would things run smoothly?

This year someone else is in charge.  All I have to do is show up and enjoy the conference, which I plan to do.  This year’s chairs have put together what is sure to be an exciting conference.

We will be in Pittsburgh this year so it will be a bit of a drive.  The title for the conference is “Acquiring Advocacy: Overcoming Obstacles, Promoting Partnerships, and Cultivating Dignity”.  

Our co-chairs have lined up some great speakers.  Starting off the conference will be two of my friends, one of who just had her second book published.  Our first speaker is Jason Griffith p3 whose first book, From Me to We: Using Narrative Nonfiction to Broaden Student Perspectives, was published in Fall, 2016 by Routledge.  Joining him on stage will be Jennie K. Brown,p4 whose second book in the Poppy Mayberry series was just released.

We are really excited about our lunch featured speaker, Laurie Halse Anderson. p1 How exciting!  I am really looking forward to hearing her.I am sure I am not alone in this.

Our conference ends on Saturday with Kylene Beers & Bob Probst.  p2I know others who have heard them speak and they were really impressed by them

Intersperse these speakers with break out sessions featuring best practices form many teachers, include some stimulating round table discussions and this year’s PCTELA Conference is sure to be a winner.

Although I enjoyed the opportunity to chair a state-wide conference, I am glad someone else is doing it this year.  I know it will be an exciting and informative weekend.



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Oaks 2017


One of the things that we enjoy about September is that the annual Quilt Extravaganza is held the third weekend of the month out at Oaks, which is near Philadelphia.  Of course we go.  Kathy really likes the vendors that come to this show.  I like the buffet they serve at lunch.  What can I say.

The quilts on display are more artsy than traditional as you will see.  Quilts from other countries are also displayed.

Having just been to Australia, the quilts from that country grabbed our attention.  For anyone who likes to ride a carousel, this one won for best use of color.

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This is one of the more traditional looking quilts on display.

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I happen to like big cats.

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Imagine cutting all of these small pieces.

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At first I thought this was a vet until I read the sign.

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So in love but separated by life circumstances. Hope they are going to the same place.

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The quilting on this one was amazing.


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Loved this one from South Africa.

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This year one artist was showcases.  All of these quilts were made by the same person.  I think you can figure out what kind of quilt she enjoys.


These I just liked.

What a nice birthday present.



Again, I just liked this.



Another Australian quilt.



And one more from South Africa.

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Not all vendors sell quilting supplies.  I was able to do some early Christmas shopping for Kathy.

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I just hope I don’t forget where I put it for safe keeping when it is time to wrap it.

Well, this is the last big quilt show in our area until March of next year when it is back to Lancaster.  There might be another local guild show before then.  If there is you can be sure we will be there.


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