Saturday, July 30, 2005

Details, Details

I'm being a slug today, so I got to thinking that I don't think I have ever posted photos of my old condo. It is the place where I lived prior to buying my current house. It was built in 1928 as apartments and converted in the 1980's by the original owner into individually condos. The original ower lived in one of the condos until the mid 1990s. The unit I owned was essentially unchanged (except for decor) since the day the building was built. I think it was the only one that had not undergone major renovation......and its original condition was the reason I bought it. It was a bit of a landmark in the neighborhood, and when I held my open house to sell the place, more than 300 people came through.




Before moving out of the condo, I took a lot of photos of the details of the building on the chance that I would want to replicate something in the future. You might notice more than a little similarity between my old place and my new house.





















Sunday, July 24, 2005

Changes in Attitude, Changes in Lattitude

I am bored to tears working on my house. Bored. To. Tears.

I have lots of projects to get done and can't bring myself to work on any of them. I just don't have the will.

I'm tired of stuff half done. I'm tired of stepping over boxes. I'm tired of a dishwasher on wheels. I tired of spending every waking free moment doing house stuff. There, I have said it.

The plan was to tear down my yucky kitchen ceiling this weekend and finish painting my upstairs. Ha. What actually got done was a few bike rides around my neighborhood, a trip to the mall, and a lot of just wasting time. Omg, this is what I have become in my quest to avoid working on my house.

A few days ago I was reading an intersting blog by someone that just had finished their upstairs expansion. They expressed surprise that they were able to live in their house for 3 yrs without getting some of their more important projects completed. 3 yrs!, I though to myself. I felt sorry for them. Then the horror of it hit me. I will have been in my house 3 yrs on October. 3 yrs. My pity for that blog writer became pity/disdain for myself.

I'm going through what I think is an "Opportunity Cost" phase. What am I missing out on while I devote my energy to this house? (I'm sure my accounting teacher would be minorly impressed what I remembered the concept). I used to travel. I used to travel a lot. I miss it. I'm suddenly missing it a lot.

I have a suspicion that this is all brought on by the allignment of a few different factors: 1) listening to too much Jimmy Buffett (Buffettheads, will probably recognize that my past few posts have modified versions of the titles of his songs); 2) Stumbling across too many eposides of
Globe Trekker in the wee hours of the morning; 3) the never shortening list of things to do in my house; 4) very vague memories of having fun in the distant past; 5) the realization I don't have the stamina/drive that other house bloggers do.

I need to get away. I need a road trip. Or a plane trip. If my passport gets to come, all the better.

Friday, July 22, 2005

It's a Jungle Out There


My garden has made some progress in the past few weeks.

I am obnoxiously excited about the asparagus plants that appear overnight and the next morning stand about 4 inches tall. I am in for a long haul with these little fellows as it will be another two years before I can harvest them.

The tomato plants in this garden are now well over 5' tall and I've had to buy additional 7' stakes to keep them upright. They have me a little freaked as each plant (there are 9 in all) currently has 30-40 little green tomoatos hanging from it. I have my canning jars ready to go, but you know they will all come ripe at precisely the same moment on a Monday afternoon in 95 degree heat.

My beans are ripening and will be ready in a day or two and I have big plans to make them into neat little jars of lemon-rosemary pickled green beans. I pulled out some old fence pieces from my garage and nailed some netting to them..and the climbing beans seem to like it.

Then there is the zuke plant. For dinner last night I picked my first zuke and sauted it in onions and garlic with parmesan on top. Yum. Everyone has warned me that this plant is just warming up and soon I will have zukes coming out of my ears.

I'm new to gardening, so you will have to bear with me....and the things I think are interesting. But my acorn squash and pumpkin seem to have developed minds of their own and are now slowly crawling up my sidewalk towards my house. I keep thinking of that episode of Saturday Night Live where the shark is knocking on the door saying they are the pizza delivery guy. If one day, they find me missing and my back door open.....tell the police about the squash.

I've lived my whole life in the city, but I'm thinking I'd probably do ok as a farm girl. This is kind of fun.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Different Point of View

Here is a short story about being a homeowner from a slightly different point of view.

This past weekend I was going to take my motorcycle out for a ride after a bit of a hiatus. When I pulled the bike out, I noticed that the tire air valve caps were missing. I thought about it for a few minutes and realized that somewhere there is a 16 yr old with almost new Suzuki chrome air valve caps on his off street bike. And I got to thinking, once again, about a little "situation" that I have had going for the past year.

Last summer an acquaintance came to my house to help me with my roof. He brought his teenage son with him. Nice kid. The son volunteered to mow my lawn for me while we worked on other stuff. Later that day, the son stayed at my house to watch TV while we ran some errands.

When we got back from running errands, I knew instantly upon walking into my house that something was amiss. I have this uncanny ability to notice when anything is out of place (it used to drive my college roommates crazy when we were in college and I could tell when they borrowed my clothes on the sly). I noticed drawers and cabinets in my dining room and kitchen had been opened. I also noticed the door to my bedroom was now open....the dvd player had been used.....there was scratches on my floor where the dog had followed....and it looked like my dressers had been gone through.

It's a strange feeling trying to figure out what is missing from your house. At the oddest moments, something will dawn on me. Oh, the Vin Diesel dvd is gone (lol...perhaps a blessing). Ah, the air valve caps are gone. Etc. I couldn't care less about most of those items. They don't mean anything to me (although I have spent a fair amount of time mentally inventorying things of sentimental value to me that were in those rooms). I've had to spend some time thinking about why this bothers me so much. This is a nice kid with some "issues", so it is fairly easy to get over that aspect. Beyond that, I think it's a change in the way you feel about how secure your house is.

For those of you that have read my blog for a while, you may remember that two Marshall Fields furniture delivery men (allegedly) stole my purse (and my identity) shortly after I moved into my house. My house and my life went into security lockdown after that happened. So, I've had a chance to think about this for a while....

As a homeowner you spend a lot of time and energy getting attached to your house and making it a cozy place to live. It's odd the things that can affect how you feel in and about your house and what a big and unexpected impact they can have on you.

Switch to Blogger

Well, its official.  My blog site will switch to Blogger as of today.  I'll keep the archives on this site for the sake of nostalgia (mine).

The new link is: stuccohouse.blogspot.com 

Interesting, I see that AOL has now decided to reset my hit counter back to zero.  Just one more reason.......

Friday, July 15, 2005

Website Counter

Ok, I'm about ready to switch over to Blogger. However, I am finding it hard to believe that Blogger does not offer a website counter. I mean, come on. They do provide a link to a number of third parties that offer counters & website stats. For this you need to surrender to their "privacy" policy, provide the password to your blog and place their ads on your site. If you read the html code that one provides, it is actually run by online casinos. Yuck.

I don't want website stats. I don't want my visitors tracked by some unkown party. I want a simple counter. Pure numbers, that's it. Why is that so difficult?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

New Blog


I suppose it's only fitting that my new blog start off with another freakish backyard wildlife story. I've had a brief respite from racoons, brown squirrels, crows, ants and slugs. However while sitting in my backyard the other day, I was quite startled to have a white squirrel crawl under my fence. At first I thought it was a big white rat.....but the fluffy tail finally gave it away. Knowing no one would believe me at this point, I raced in to get my camera.

You can see my hew little buddy wrapped around a branch midway down the photo. Is a white squirrel sighting good luck or bad?

My old posts can still be found at my former AOL blog pages.

Irony - The definition

Irony:  sweat running down your forehead while you put together a little platform for your double hung window sill to hold your new air conditioner.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Blogger

I'm contemplating a move from AOL Journals to Blogger.  I came to terms long ago with being part of computing for the masses at the lowest common denominator, but I periodically have a really disillusioning experience with AOL technical support that sends me over the edge.  Usually I solve it myself or just get over it as inertia sets in, but this time I think is different. 

Optional reading: Long story short: if the AOL tech, in his office somewhere across the world, is having the same problem I am having in my little home office......then it seems logical to me that it is an AOL systemwide problem and not something wrong with both of our computers.  And it alarms me that I, not a computer expert by any stretch of the imagination, can figure this out......and the AOL tech can't.  Sigh.  Well, to their credit....after the first two techs couldn't figure out what was wrong and were accidentally "disconnected".......the third tech *did* realize this.  Heavy sigh. Rant over. 

This, and now Blogger hosts pictures.  I have gone so far as to set up a new Blogger site.  But, I'm now coming to the realization that in order to get the blog exactly the way I want it.......I will need to learn the behind the scenes of Blogger.  Also, from my test run Blogger seems to take an abnormally long time to update itself.  So, now I am mulling over how much time I want to spend on front of my computer....knowing how easily I can get sucked into these things......

Will keep you posted (no pun intended....well, maybe a little one).

Friday, July 08, 2005

Racoons, Blood Meal and other Horrors

I've had racoons prowling my yard this summer.  I didn't realize how big the problem was until I heard screaming outside of my window in the wee hours one morning and when I looked outside, saw a pack of 6 racoons in some kind of turf war.  Of course, this was taking place near my beloved garden.

So, in my ever escalating war against wildlife, I went to my local garden store to ask their advice.  Without hesitation, they recommended "blood meal" as a sure fire deterant to racoons.  Sounded good to me.  They pointed me towards a neat little white bag, I paid my bill and off I went.

This week I actually got around to applying it.  In reading the directions, the horror hit me.  This was DRIED BLOOD.  A BAG OF DRIED BLOOD.  Of course it would deter racoons.....it would deter anything.  I am a city girl....my mind does not work like this.  I sat out in my lawn chair for a long time.....and debated what to do.  I finally decided that if a bag of dried blood would get rid of the racoons threatening my garden......then a bag of dried blood it would be.

I know myself well enough though to know that I couldn't put the "blood meal"  directly in my garden.  Eating a tomato or cucumber that I know was raised on blood isn't something I could do.  So, I sprinkled that bag on the lawn surrounding my gardens.  I am sure my neighbors wondered what the hell was going on watching me sprinkle this bag of red powder and gagging.  Or maybe they don't even wonder anymore.

As it turns out, DRIED BLOOD does deter night time wildlife.  But it does attract flocks of big, scary crows that smell road kill.  Its like a scene out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  They land loudly on my roof in the morning and then spend the day circling the yard during the day.  Live and learn.

Now, maybe I can get back to working on my house......

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Finding New Neighbors

The house across the alley from mine is for sale.  It has been for sale on and off for about a year.  I believe it is the owner’s second house and he is not overly anxious to get rid of the house unless the price is just right.  Fair enough.  It is a cute post war cape codesque house.  I suspect it is very well maintained.  I base this on a few observations:  1) that I have never seen the lawn not perfectly mowed. 2) This guy is out there the minute the last snowflake has fallen and has shoveled his driveway before I am even out of bed.  Both very good predictability factors, I believe, in how well the house on a whole is maintained.

 

The only thing…..is that it is painted a kind of odd gold color….nothing outlandish, but enough to make a buyer with limited imagination possibly pass.  However, the price…which was on the high end last year is now on the low end of the market.  Appreciation in this area is brisk.  I have no good answer as to why it has not sold.

 

The realtor occasionally plans an open house on weekends.  Often I have been out working in my backyard as potential buyers check out the backyard of this house.  A few have seen me and asked my opinion of things.  I give then the Cliff Note version of the neighborhood and my opinions of the house.

 

One day it dawned on me.  I can play a role in finding new neighbors for myself.  Huh.  Perhaps living next to a single, hunky electrician/plumber/landscaper is worth a little extra effort on my part.  Huh.  This put a whole new spin on things for me. 

 

So, now I have varying pitches that I give out regarding the house…based on how desirable the potential house buyer is.  If that realtor only knew ;-)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Chemicals

Today was my day for working with caustic chemicals.  I like to batch my exposures instead of spreading them out over an extended period of time. 

A few weeks ago I found a deal on an little, old telephone stand.  Solid wood....covered with layers of paint....the most recent, a hideous brown.  I took my heat gun to it first and uncovered layers of cream, green and brown paint.  I finally reached a nice red stain.  The type of wood is still a mystery to me.  When I removed most of the paint I pulled out the paint stripper.  I will tell you now I use the methylene chloride version.  I have tried the non-caustic strippers and have many, many half used bottles in my basement.  My theory when working with old (and probably lead based) paint is to get in and out fast.  Get that old paint off as fast as possible and dispose of it properly.  To that end, I have a cute little stripped telephone stand outside my front steps as we speak (well, as I type).  I still need to get the odd paint specks off...and then I think I will restain it the original red color and finish it.

My next chemical exposure was not nearly as fun.  I once had a bat, but that bat is now gone.  This is a very long and complicated story (that I will post about one day when I have the energy), but suffice to say that bats eat lots of bugs...including ants.  Carpenter ants.  And there are a lot of ant treatments....and many old wives tales on how to get rid of ants....but few of them work.  So, today I drilled holes in my plaster wall and applied permethrin dust into the wall cavity.  Then I raked up all the oh-so-attractive-to-carpenter-ants wood mulch and created a perimeter around my outside foundation dirt with permethrin spray.  I then laid down some rubber mulch in the two feet surrounding the foundation (it actually matches the real stuff that is now pulled down into the flower bed).  All in all a lot of work for not so great rewards.

So, to recap - methylene chloride and permitherin.  But fear not, I'm sure the radon and asbestos will get me first :-)

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