Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Craftsman House.

Tim finished the house we bought last spring and it is rented out.

We've bought another house. It is a craftsman bungalow with wonderful woodwork and leaded glass windows. It belonged to a hoarder.

As we understand it, the fellow that owned the house got it through his second wife's family. She had inherited it from her family. When she died, the house became his. He married again and lived with his new wife in her house. The beautiful Craftsman bungalow was used to store stuff.

Some of the things that we have discovered: a box full of pictures dating back to the mid 1800s, including post cards sent to the family from France, during WWI. We handed those over to a local historian to go through. My 70 year old historian friend was amazed to find pictures of his own mother during her high school years.

We found a box full of old (1935) Fortune magazines which are fun browsing, court transcripts from a fatal car crash, deeds, a wicker doll carriage, some great furniture, old Swedish books from the 1800s in a tall secretary desk with glass fronted book shelves. German crystal wine goblets still in their paper, a peugeot coffee grinder, an old pearl necklace in a bank envelope in the back of the china closet that seems to be the real deal (it will be taken to a jeweler), a brand new milk can, Christmas lights still in their boxes, two cedar chests and one steamer trunk, an armoire, dressers, tables. There is so much to go through, and everything must be gone through because the man is reputed to have misplaced an envelope of $100 bills. There is plenty of trash but some very awesome treasures.

Right now, the roof is being replaced and once that is complete, the contents of the house will be safe.

We were taken aback that such a home would sell with all those contents un-gone through. Sad to think that all of those things had no meaning to the children.

As she cut my hair, my beautician asked, "Do you feel any creepy vibes there? Any presence?"

I said, "I certainly hope not!"

From all reports the man was a real bastard. He was involved in almost every local social group you can imagine. Lions. Moose. Elks. Zem-Zems. Masons. Shriners. The list goes on and on. There are boxes and boxes of his life. His first wife left him, and fled with his children to California. There are boxes and boxes of the receipts for his child support payments. He married again. She died. He married one last time and was soundly hated by her children. She died too, but before she did, she threw him out of her home. She died shortly after that.

He moved back to his cluttered old Craftsman bungalow with the hole in the roof. Although the roof leaked and the house was floor to ceiling with stuff, one thing he did religiously was had the house painted. I told Tim that it seemed fitting somehow, that he should have been so concerned with outward appearance, paying no attention to the decay and rot and junk on the inside. A metaphor for his sad life, don't you think?

The children of his last wife ended up with the bungalow by default we surmise and did not want the headaches of fixing up a place that had belonged to a man that they could not abide. It was placed on the market. Tim saw it, and moved quickly. Our offer was accepted almost immediately.

I said to Tim, "This is the last house we buy, right?" and his answer came as it always has: "Oh, we'll never see a deal like THIS again."

And so it goes.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I love that the world  has begun to speak up.

I love this too, for completely different reasons.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I don't drink green beer, but I DO like bad puns: What is an Irish furniture that stays out all night? Paddy O'Furniture.


(And you are not the first people to suggest that I take up drinking).

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Falling into Bad Habits.

Habits are a funny easy to slip back into, right? It's very easy to neglect the blog.

We've been (predictably) busy here. A woman at work was having a lot of trouble with her landlord. Her apartment is all utilities included, however the landlord doesn't pay the utilities. She's come home and discovered that her electricity is out. She just got a shutoff for the water. Frustrating when you've got a small child.

I pick her up for work.

I was appalled at some of the things that she said. Landlords amaze me. When I hear a landlord complaining about being regularly ripped off by his/her tenants, I always wonder why. Tim and I have been blessed with tenants, long term tenants. We've had some problems, but those folks are an exception to the rule. I questioned one angry ripped off landlord and was shocked when he said that one of his apartments did not have heat. He also baldly proclaimed that he was not going to fix that. He looked shocked when I said that the reason he was being ripped off regularly was because HE was ripping people off.

Anyway, Tim and I talked about my rider. She's really in kind of a desperate situation. We bought another house.

I took vacation, and we have gutted the house in record time (NOTE: just say no to wallpaper. My gosh. The bathroom upstairs was so very heavily layers. The CEILING had cut out designs from the last wallpaper snaking across it, with stenciled leaves to make the flowers more realistic I guess. Ye GODS! Dylan commented that when you remove that much wallpaper you're actually adding square footage to the room. Funny boy, my Dylan!)

The big accomplishment was heat. It had been improperly winterized and the pipes for the hot water heat had burst in a hundred different places. The refrain rang out again and again from the basement: "Okay, I am turning on the water!" Which has answered again and again from various points through the house: "Turn it off, turn it off! We've got a leak." Finally, yesterday, at last, the call came up from the basement, and there was no answering cry. Tim cautiously asked, "No leaks?" and I said in hushed tones: "There doesn't seem to be." There weren't. The next step was firing up the boiler, which had not been used for at least a year and a half. We expected problems. The thing rumbled to life, and within minutes, the pipes began to feel warm...and then hot...and then the house began to heat up. It was a great moment.

Tim is cutting out the stairway today. An open stairwell will make moving easier and minimize the risk of damage to the walls.

Next week, we will put in the new kitchen and backsplash and stainless steel appliances. We will begin painting. The bathrooms will go back in. It will be a little bit harder because I go back to work tonight.

There's a change there at work as well. The first night of my vacation was also the beginning of the scourge. My department was eliminated on third shift. We were the lucky ones. We kept our jobs. The firings continued on for 3 more days, and there are ominous rumblings on the horizon about what happens next.

Tim and I are lucky. We do not financially depend on any company. We do, however, need the health benefits that come with my job. To that end, I will continue to be flexible and do my best to meet the needs of my company as I use them to meet the needs of my family. I'm very grateful to look at this situation squarely, without fear. It's not like that for everyone. No one had any idea of what was coming and there are a lot of people who were taken by surprise, and have no clue what they will do next.

Monday, I'll begin my new shift. Day shift is a different animal. The women are sharp and mean, watching each other closely for signs of 'cheating'. We did not have that on nights. We were a small group and got along. I'll take a book for lunch and break and wait for kindred spirits. I'm sure they are there...just need to find them.

Head over to Bob's. He's found out his grandbaby will be a boy.

Head over to Mrs. Spit's . She could use an encouraging word as she grapples with a new treatment for her MS.

Head over to Amanda's to give her your best wishes. She's celebrating her 50th birthday this weekend. May you ALWAYS sparkle, my friend!

Me? I reckon I'll get back to work now. Tim and William have gone on an adventure to watch the trout stocking and I've got a house to set to rights.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


William is the little boy in the front left of the picture. He is now six, and this is his birthday party with four of the 8 cousins who were there. The party was held in a place called The Treehouse. It is very hard to plan birthday parties in February because you can never be quite sure of the weather, but it was a beautiful day, and 9 kids ran their hearts out climbing and crashing and generally whooping it up.
 There's never a bad excuse for a good time with your cousins.
Pictures courtesy of my niece Kellie who was there with her three children, Rachel, Chance, and Greyson. There was also Brady and Brandon and Abby, Danny, and Caleb. 

It was a great day and a lot of fun. William chose to go out for 'China food' for supper. We met his mother there after her work day. By then, William was tired and managed to fall out of the car backwards in the parking lot. Never fear. He was not so tired that he could not tell everyone there it was his birthday and 'Now I am six'. He was so vocal about it that people from the next table came over to wish him happy birthday. 

He has grown into a happy child who does well in school. He has begun to read and he's good at math. He is the joy of his grandparents hearts and the apple of his mother's eye. 

Today he's going to see a play with his mother. "Knuffle Bunny: a Cautionary Tale." He is pretty excited about that as well. 

One of the greatest feelings in the world is watching that little boy grow. 

He generally sleeps over at our house Friday nights when his mother works late and then gets up early to open the store on Saturday. It is just much easier to have him where he needs to be. He loves a bath, and will beg for the chance to be in a warm bathroom soaking in the clawfoot tub full of bubbles and toys. 

He also loves lotion, and is quite a fan of the scent of vanilla. ("I smell good enough to eat!") I got some Gold Bond Men's lotion for him. He read the label carefully and then said, in a shocked voice, "But Grandma, I am not a man!" I told him that he was growing into one every single day. He was surprised at this and asked Grandpa for verification. Grandpa assured him it was true, that it was happening right in front of our very eyes. This has set him off on a tangent, where he will have long discussions with himself about what kind life he intends to have. 

One of his announcements: "...and when I see a house with a sign in front of it, well, I will tell grandpa and he will buy it and then we will fix it up and we will sell it." 

Speaking of that, we did buy another house. Work is slow for me right now (a blessed relief after the 66 hour weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas), and so we intend on getting in there, ripping it apart and putting it back together at a record pace.  

That's it, really. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Love Letters

A few years back, I met Mr. R, a lovely man who was beloved by all. Plans for his 100th birthday party were unfolding. I was looking forward to it very much, but three months before the big day, Mr. R. died.

He was a wonderful person who loved his life. He loved his job. He loved his friends. He loved books. Words, Art, He was a widower that cried when he thought of his wife. He talked about how they were avid ballroom dancers. He talked about how they read to each other every day, and when she grew to weak to read, he sat at her bedside and read to her still. It was so sweet, so touching.

When Mr. R passed, there was a massive estate sale. I wanted something to remind me of my friend and so Tim and I went. One of the things that I bought was a small vase. As we were leaving, I ran into a mutual friend. Seeing that vase, he said, "You know something neat about Mr and Mrs. R? Every night they sat down to supper. There were always flowers and there were always candles.

Every. Single. Night.

I wrote a Valentine column about that a few years back.

Last week, there was a message on the answering machine. I did not recognize the name. He spoke of his grandfather.

It was Mr. R's grandson. Mr. R was a WWII soldier. He wrote faithfully to his wife. She wrote faithfully back. The entire correspondence was saved, as I understand it, treasured by both parties. He's sending me a flashdrive.

He thinks it would make a lovely book.