Category Archives: rambling

Great Aunt Grace

So, this is another story that actually happened awhile ago, but I’m only just now getting around to putting it on the blog. My grandfather (Rynkus) had one sibling – a much younger sister, named Grace. I keep in touch with Grace, talking periodically on the phone with her and swapping emails. I met her once previously, about twenty years ago. She has a husband, Bob, and they have a few kids too, out in California, though they’re about 10-15 years old than I am. Bob and Grace also gave Mary and I her parent’s set of silverware as a wedding present

Last spring, I got a call from Bob to ask me if I could give them some advice – they were planning a trip back to upstate New York in the fall. They wanted to see the leaves, the scenery, and stop by and visit us if we were up for it. Needless to say, it was exciting and we were happy to host. I helped them with some advice on some places and things to do, and they planned to stop and stay in Owego for an evening and they were going to come over and get dinner. 

There is some additional connection here for my Aunt Grace – as mentioned, she was quite a bit younger than my grandfather. My grandparents moved into this house in February 1960, and at the time my grandmother was pregnant with their second child. That child came in June of 1960 – and it was twins. Grace and her mother came out and stayed here at the house for the summer of 1960, helping take care of the twins. So part of this trip for her was to come and see us, and part of us was to just come and see something connected from her brother and reminisce. They did happen to snap a photo from then that I have on an old slide:

L-R in photo: My Mom (Lois Rynkus), Grace Rynkus, Laura Rynkus (my great-grandmother), Pearl Rynkus (my grandmother) – babies are Phyllis and Cynthia. 

They came in early October of 2016. We had a great time, visiting about the current things that were happening, getting more stories from the past, and giving Stephen a chance to have a visit with a relative who, because of the distance, will be difficult to get to see soon. As far as Stephen was concerned, she was “Grandma Grace.” Stephen had still not learned how to smile for pictures much at the time, but we did get a picture of everyone together:

You may notice those pictures are about five feet – and 56 years – apart. 

Local MCM House For Sale

The neighborhood we live in is known as Ridgewood – it’s about 200 houses, the earliest houses are from the mid 1950s, and the newest about 2010 (there are lots available, but no new houses have been built since then.) The neighborhood has a lot of what are known as “mid century modest” houses – ranches, split entrys, etc – but sprinkled in the mix are a number of great mid-century modern examples too. On the outskirts of the neighborhood, one of those just went on the market. It was built and owned by a local dentist – on a hillside, overlooking the valley, with walls of glass and a pool out back. And a really awesome mural downstairs. See it here: 964 Mountain Rd, Owego, NY 13827

Matt Pond, In Concert at My House


Mary and I have the pleasure of doing something really cool on October 5th: hosting an actual concert at our house. Matt Pond is an indie rock artist (his band is called Matt Pond PA), who has released 8 albums in the last 17 years, with a few hits on the Alt Rock charts along the way. We’ve enjoyed his music for many years. September into October, Matt Pond and Matt Pond PA guitarist Chris Hansen will be doing a “Living Room Tour” playing a stripped down set in people’s homes across the eastern half of the US – and we are the last stop before heading home (they live downstate.) We’ve seen him several times in Ithaca – he’s a great performer!

If you happen by chance to read our blog, live nearby, and think going to a concert in the living room of a sweet mid-century house might be your bag, the tickets went on sale today (promotion by Matt Pond begins Friday) and there are only 50 available, $20 each. (Note: All money goes to the artists.) They can be purchased here:

If you want to know what some of Matt Pond PA’s music sounds like, check these out:

Two Years, Blog!

A few weeks ago (on April 3rd), this blog turned two. A lot happens right around that time – Stephen (our son) has a birthday, as does Mary, and this year Easter also happened around that time, so I didn’t put up a post right then about the blog’s birthday.

With another here, I find it interesting to compare the statistics from year to year:

April 2013 – April 2014 page views: 14,615

April 2014 – April 2015 page views: 13,160

Most popular post (besides the homepage), is once again is Adventures in Mid-Century Modern Kitchen Flooring: 1,351

Second most popular is It’s All About The Sputniks with 975 views.

It’s fun finding out the people who read and keep up with our blog. Thanks for following along with us on our adventures! There’s lots more stories to tell: I just did some more work in the kitchen with chroming items and adding lighting, have done some other vintage-style projects I am eager to share, and we’re already started on this year’s exterior house work.

Stay tuned!

Kitchen Drain Fix

A few months ago, after an event at the house, we ran into an issue I had resolved once prior: the kitchen sink was draining incredibly slowly (almost plugged, but not quite.) Back when we first moved in, in November 2012, this same problem occurred. At the time, I called a local drain service and had them do a clean out on the drain line and all was well. I had figured this would hold up for a number of years (more than 2), but apparently that was not to be.

Most of the drain lines in our house are copper pipe – something that would be unusual now, when PVC is used. The plumbing “stack” for the bathrooms is on the other end of the house, and is all copper, but there is a section of drain for the washer, dishwasher, and kitchen sink that runs through the basement. For some reason, this section of drain line was installed with “black pipe,” a mild steel pipe. Turns out, this is bad news for drain pipe. Why? Black pipe easily supports all of the nasty slime that grows inside of drain pipes. It builds up quickly and clogs the pipe. So, the solution was to replace it with new drain pipe – PVC.

This gave me a chance to try out a new tool I had – a reciprocating saw attachment for my Craftsman Bolt-On drill (a really cool system, BTW. Compatible with Black and Decker Matrix line, FYI.) So I cut out the old pipe and built a replacement one in PVC. How plugged was the old pipe? Have a look:

Here is the process and the new pipe. I attached the new PVC to the existing copper stub coming from the wall for the kitchen sink\dishwasher drain, then ran it across the basement to connect to the rest of the PVC junctions. This turned out to be an easy fix – about $60 worth of parts, versus $120 to do the clean out previously. Huzzah!