December 2021: Maybe Now Would be a Good Time to Upgrade




Office: 843 846 2500

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December 2021
Number 94

We at Willis Sinclair wish you and your family a
Very Merry Christmas 
and a
Happy New Year!

Kandy and I visited our son and his family who live near Springfield, Missouri a few weeks ago. They (obviously) have a large family. We went out to eat, visited a couple of museums, had a picnic and best of all, a great time.

From the Desk of Bill

On the way out, we had supper with another of our daughters and her boys. Our granddaughter was working so we missed visiting with her. We had hoped to have supper with yet another daughter and her family on the return trip, but could not work out the timing. They are both in the Knoxville area.
The leaves were changing when we were on the way out and were beautiful. It was fun to see little towns, twisty and hilly two lane roads and beautiful (and not so beautiful) farms and houses on our trip.  
Bill, our son, and his family have a nice sized farm in the Ozark foothills. They are in the process of buying another parcel of land not far from them. We went exploring the new land with them and joined them having a picnic. He is a software design supervisor at the corporate offices of O’Reilly Auto Parts and ranches and farms on the side to provide healthy food for his family.
One of the interesting things we saw as we drove back roads was a covered bridge in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee (population 1,132).

We enjoy getting off the beaten path and discovering things like Lovely Brew, in Monterey, Tennessee (population 2,898). This is a family owned coffee and sandwich shop plus boutique. The husband finished the front of his plumbing warehouse to accommodate his wife’s business.
We went to Springfield and visited a couple of museums. One was a railroad museum. They have a large steam locomotive, baggage car, double decker passenger car and a caboose that you can walk through. The baggage car is filled with historical items sort of like a tiny museum. This was interesting because my grandfather worked in the baggage car of a train that went between Jacksonville, Florida and Savannah, Georgia.
Here is part of our crew in front of the large steam locomotive at the Railroad Historical Museum in Springfield. (Two grands were busy talking to the museum guides in the locomotive cab). 
The office of the museum is a building built to the plans of a railroad station that was in Ellsinore, Missouri. That caught my eye because when I was growing up, Ellsinore was the “big” town (population about 400) some seven miles from us as the crow flies. I spent my first four years of school in a one room school in the country, but when I was in the fifth grade, I got bussed to the “big” school in Ellsinore. The school was so large there were only two grades, not eight, in each class room. They even had indoor bathrooms and hot and cold running water at the Ellsinore school!!

When we lived near Ellsinore, the train station was already gone. That was back in the early and middle 1950s. For that matter, I did not even realize the train went through the town until I was looking at the railroad website a few weeks ago.
When we lived there, we drove another 20 miles to Williamsville to pick up shipments we got by rail. Back in the day, you could have items shipped by rail using REA (Railway Express Agency). They would drop the items at the nearest rail depot and you had to go there to pick them up. We had printing presses, baby chicks, garden tractors and other items shipped REA. This was before UPS delivered in the backwoods and FedEx was years in the future. If the Post Office could not carry the item, it had to go by rail.
This is an old (perhaps 1930s) photo of the Ellsinore train station. Note the Frisco Railroad spelled Ellsinore with one “l” (per UK spelling). The station and tracks were gone when we moved to the area in 1952.
After we visited the Railroad museum, we stopped at the Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks. (Note the abbreviation: AMMO). This was a small museum, but they did have some fun items. It was started by the Commemorative Air Force (the Confederate Air Force before political correctness got to them) and then spun off as a separate museum.
The grands sat in a Vietnam era Apache Helicopter trainer and a M-151 Jeep. They got to inspect a number of other vehicles as well.
The museum had many military uniforms and plastic aircraft models on display as well as actual vehicles and aircraft. It was small, but nice. The museum director was patient and informative and the grandchildren loved it. So did their grandfather. 
They also had some rusty parts of what looked like a machine gun and other aircraft parts in a display case. It turned out, a pilot — I don’t recall his name — was making a run, perhaps his last run, over Germany during World War II. On the way home, he disappeared. Sixty or seventy years later, parts of his plane were found in a lake or pond in Germany. His remains were sent home and most of the salvaged parts were given to this museum. It was an interesting, but sad story. The pilot almost made it home. 
Our trip was sort of a 75th birthday trip for me. While we were there, Merry, one of our granddaughters, (she bakes for the local farmers market and sometimes supplies the local coffee shop with goodies) baked me a cake to celebrate. They did not get a fire permit, so they could not do candles. The cake was a carrot cake — one of my favorites — with icing and pecans. 

It was great fun to visit with Bill and his family. 
By the time we started back home, the leaves were falling and the colors were not vivid as they had been on our way out. 

Maybe now would be a good time to upgrade…

Upgrade is a word that seems to have come into existence or at least became popular as the personal computer industry grew. In that respect, it means having a faster processor, more memory, a bigger hard drive, a better display, a lighter and thinner laptop, et cetera.
The word can equally well apply to your home. There are many areas where you may consider an upgrade. Perhaps it could be something small such as changing the covers on your electrical outlets and switches. This is something that is easy and anyone can do it. All that is required is a screwdriver. If you visit a building supply (Lowe’s or Home Depot) or look online (, for example), you can find an amazing variety of covers for outlets and switches. Be careful not to stick a screwdriver or your finger inside the electrical box with the existing cover off and you’ll be fine. Turn off the breaker to the switch or outlet before you do anything for added safety.
These switches and wall plate were white. I replaced the switches with black ones (a bit more complicated than just changing the wall plate). Then installed the cast brass wall plate. The change was very nice.
You may even be able to add an outlet or switch in a location where you wish you had one. Sometimes, this is easy and sometimes, not so easy. Do you have any locations that need an electrical switch or outlet changed or added?
A more involved upgrade might be renewing a section of flooring. Is there somewhere your floor is worn or just does not look as good as it should? Perhaps a little “upgrade” there might be just the thing.
In this home, we replaced the not so good looking floor with brick tile at one of the entrance doors. It was a nice upgrade.

The brick tile looks just like actual paver bricks, but is only about 1/2″ thick, so the floor often does not need to be recessed as it would for actual brick pavers.

Another upgrade could be renewing appliances. As time goes on, appliances become more energy efficient and nice. How old are your appliances? Do any of them need upgrading?
Some areas of your home might be demanding an upgrade. Areas such as rotted exterior trim, wood siding, windows, doors or fencing needing repair.  Be sure to not let wood rot progress too far. It certainly will not get better and is likely to get a lot worse. Natural materials (including pressure treated lumber) looks nice, but can rot even if the paint on it is in good shape. 
Perhaps some of your window or door glass is cloudy (indicating a broken seal in the thermal pane). The cloudy glass should be replaced.
Make sure your roof does not need attention. If you have shingles, be aware the South Carolina sun can really do a job on them. Remember “30 year shingles” is the name of the shingle, not how long it will last. Typically, they last about half of their name. (“30 year shingles” last about 15 years.) As they age, they become brittle and if (when) we have a hurricane, they may break and blow away in the high wind. The roof protects your home and all that is in it. Be sure it does not need “upgrading.”
You can also upgrade the interior of your home. How would wood paneling look in a den or gun room? Does your crown molding look suitable (large and decorative) enough? How about a chair rail in the dining room or a picture rail in a gallery or other public area? Adding bits of trim can really “upgrade” the look of a room for not too much money. Do you need some trophies or wall art hung? What would you like in your home?
Bath and kitchen remodels (aka “upgrades”) are relatively popular, but can be expensive. Perhaps you just need new counter tops or cabinets. Even painting existing cabinets is an option to improve the appearance of a bath or kitchen. You might even just change out the faucets and/or the lighting. Of course full remodels (tear everything out and redo it from the floor up) will give you a chance to improve the appearance and utility of your home.
We remodeled this kitchen from the floor to the ceiling. The upgrade included new floor, new cabinets, new counter tops and more. The change was amazing. 
You can also upgrade the outside of your home (walks, benches, patios, fire pits, et cetera), but this gets a bit more complicated because if the upgrade is outside, it is likely the ARB will want to approve the change. Still, it is not impossible.
Do you ever look at anything in your home and wish it were different? Maybe it can be. I remember once when I had damage on a truck I had just purchased, repaired and painted, the painter asked if I wanted him to paint the driver’s door also. Frankly, the door looked good except (there is often an “except,” it seems) for a scratch just above the door handle. I knew every time I got in the truck I would see that scratch and wish it was gone, so I asked him to paint (upgrade, if you will) the entire door. I am glad I did it although at the time, I was thinking how much it cost. I tend to be frugal (some would say “cheap”) but that was money well spent.
Do you want to talk over some upgrade ideas? Call or text us (843 846 2500) or email us ( We will be happy to visit you and go over any ideas you may have. No cost or obligation to you, of course. Call us. We can help.


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