Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Suck It Up

The majority of my neighbors subscribe to the "no leaf left behind" philosophy of fall lawn clean-up. When the first snow flake falls into their yard, it falls on shortly clipped, leaf free grass. I honestly think some of them take time off of work to regularly remove leaves.

Out of necessity, my approach is a little more laissez faire. A leaf here or there does not bother me. Even if I wanted to follow The Philosophy, my lack of time and stamina would pretty much put an end to those aspirations. This does not mean that I don't feel the peer pressure. After all, who wants to be known in the neighborhood as the house that does not rake properly?

So, this year I bought a Toro (A MN company) Rake & Vac - electric mulcher. It sucks the leaves up and slices them into small shreds. All the owner has to do is spend some time walking around the yard trailed by an electric cord and strapped by a huge leaf bag. I can do that.

I was a little dubious of how well it would work, but I have to say...thumbs up. Other than the fact that the machine seems to have been made for a 7 ft man (the bag dragged on the ground behind me even on it's smallest strap setting)....and the bag should zip from the bottom up (to make emptying it into a trash bag smoother), it was quite easy to use.

I usually bag about 15 bags of leaves.....this year 7. I also was able to put some of those leaves in my compost bins and over my perennials knowing that they actually would break down over the winter.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blogarist, Again.

The blogarist is busy trolling my blog. Again. Sigh.

Every time he returns to go through my posts, I'll comment on it and he will dredge up the whole topic again. Because after misappropriating my posts to use on his clients' websites, I don't trust him.

I apologize to those of you that just want to read about restoring houses. Honestly, that's what I really want to be writing about.

If he was wise, he'd just leave my blog alone and go along on his slimy little way.

Hex All Around

Only an old house owner could get excited about something like this.

Behold my new ceramic toilet bolt covers. They arrived yesterday and will replace the plastic covers currently on my bathroom toilet.

Again, only an old house owner.....but note that the covers have six sides just like the hex tile.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Flag

Of course, yesterday was Veterans Day and today is the government observence of it.

I've been making an effort this year to fly the flag on the officially designated flag days. I printed off a list and have it taped to the inside of the door to my front closet, where my flag is stored.

I'm a female who owns her own house and business. I have a good education. I travel wherever & whenever I want. Today I'm wearing jeans, boots and a sweater. I am very aware of the fact that in probably 3/4 of the world....all or at least some of those items would be dramatically different. Restoring a house without internet, wearing a burka while rocks were being flung at me would not be fun.

I figure flying the flag is a pretty easy way to show some of my appreciation to my country and to those people that sacrificed to make sure I could lead the cushy life I lead.

Last summer one of my neighbors & I discussed making an effort to start flying the flag. I noticed yesterday that one of the houses across the street has also been making an effort. It's kind of a fun sight to see when you are driving down the street. I'm hoping a few other neighbors will join in.

One last little tidbit. Did you know that you can request a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol? All you need to do is contact your Senator or Representative and place a request. The cost is in the ballpark of $15 to $25.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New and Vintage Stoves

In a never ending parade of things that up and quit working at StuccoHouse, my oven has now stopped functioning. The burners are fine; the oven is not.

My current stove is fine. It is a Kenmore with bells and whistles. It's maybe 7 or 8 yrs old. I have never liked it. It has a black front which I find yucky, although I know some people think this is cool. It was filthy when I moved in and I had to scrub, scour & sanitize it top to bottom and that's something you never really get out of your head. It's most likely the stove that took the place of the original old one, and I think it looks silly in a vintage kitchen. The plan has always been to ditch it sometime down the road.

Now that the oven is no longer working (yes, I pulled out the manual and did all of the troubleshooting stuff), this is going to force my hand. I am reluctant to spend even one thin dime fixing the current stove. I have been mulling over my options:

1) Call the repair guy and pay to have current stove fixed; or

2) Buy a new 30" stove - something all white and a little more upper-end than Sears. Then, have a new bank of cabinets built that match my vintage cabinets for the space next to the stove (where there are wall shadows of a missing original cabinet) and include a single drawer dishwasher (with wood front); or

3) Find the vintage 40" stove that in my heart-of-hearts I really want. Forgo the dishwasher due to lack of space, and have a bank of cabinets built to match the originals in the space next to the stove.

I really want to take option three, but there are so many factors involved. First, I need to locate a local stove in good condition. Then, I need to figure out how to get it to my house. I've called around and have a piano mover that would do it for $200.....add another $100-$300 for so for the stove itself! Then I need to make sure it's safe (although there's a lot of info. online on this - I'd still need to find someone to do it).

But the end product of all of that effort, I think, would be one of those Mastercard commericals where it all ends in a warm fuzzy moment with me taking perfectly baked cookies out of my vintage stove and the word "priceless" flashing on the tv screen.

What to do, what to do, what to do.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Portland - The Hardware

I alluded to it in yesterday's post. If you are an old house owner visiting Portland, from the moment your plane lands you hear a soft whisper beckoning you from across the Willamette River.

With the Oregon countryside under my belt, on my second free day in Portland I headed across the river. For those of you that know Portland, I took the light rail from city center out to the Convention Center. I got off the train, located Grand Ave NE and started walking south. Now you know my dedication ;-)

My first stop was School House Electric. I ordered my kitchen lights through them a few years back (to be installed as part of the kitchen restoration). I adore their hand painted shades. It was fun to see the lights from their catalogs in person. I asked them if they knew of any other old house type places in the neighborhood and they handed me the Resource List (I hope they don't mind that I included it here) with a recommendation to go see Hippo Hardware.

So, off to Hippo Hardware I went. Three floors filled with old (and some new) hardware, lighting & plumbing. I had a very good time chatting with the guys in the lighting department about how no one make sockets with bottom pull chains for sconces any more. This is a sign of a true old light store, when they know this.

I worked my way down to the hardware department and just for fun asked the salesperson if she had any idea what hardware would have been used on an old ice delivery door. I restored my ice delivery door a while back but the hardware is missing, and I have been on a bit of a quest to find replacement hardware. I don't think she really knew the answer, but she pointed me to a bunch of boxes of salvaged ice box hardware. I spent the next hour and a half sitting on the dirty, concrete floor going through those boxes. In the end, I found a nice brass latch that I bought. It looks like something that might have been on an ice delivery door.

After a lot more walking, my next stop was Rejuvenation. I bought my dining room light through them, as well as some bathroom fixtures & light. I have had mixed luck with their customer service, and this past summer much to my frustration they declined to help me buy back band they stock in their Portland store. However, there is no way you can be in Portland and not visit the store. It is impressive.

Armed with a little card filled with various measurements from my house, I ventured into the store. I bought two ceramic bolt caps to replace the plastic ones that came with my non-vintage toilet. I bought a nickel sash lock to replace the one I mysteriously lost while restoring my bathroom window. I debated buying the brass turn keys for my storm windows. I decided not to buy them and now could kick myself; I'll end up ordering them via phone soon.

Then while digging through the clearance bins, I found a brass storm door set at 50% off...identical to the one I used on my front storm door. :-) Perfect for the wood storm door I intend to hunt down for my back door.

I made my purchases and then strolled back to look at their salvage. Holy cow, salvage prices in Portland are very high. I just about had a heart attack when I saw what they were asking for a bathroom wall sink. Of course, being a glutton for punishment I had to wander over to the millwork section and go look at the perfect back band I am not allowed to buy ;-) I fingered it longingly and briefly considered pleading with them in person to ship it to me. But, alas my pride wouldn't let me.

I toyed with the idea of walking down the McCoy Millwork & 1874 House Antiques but it was still a pretty far ways off and the sun was heading down, so I turned around and made my way back to the light rail stop and headed back across the river to my hotel.

Of course, TSA loved all that metal when I went through airport security.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Portland - The Views

This was my second trip to Portland, Oregon. The first time I visited Oregon was for work...and it was very reluctantly. No one ever talks about Oregon, so what could be worth seeing, right? I was blown away at how beautiful it is.

On my first trip out there I had more time to spend, so I was able to see many of the sights....from the coast inland to Mount Hood. This visit I had less free time, so I had to hit the ground running.

I knew I had to see the Columbia River Gorge and the waterfalls again this trip. I will admit to you that I snuck out of a work session in order to make it happen. Shhhh.

Of course, the next day I did what every old house owner visiting Portland is compelled to do.......

Friday, November 02, 2007

Ghost Whisperer

I'm not sure if I should be amused by this or totally freaked out. I'm leaning towards totally freaked out.

Here's the story. Stick with me on this one.

This past week I was in Portland, OR for a work conference. I arrived a day early and was staying in one of the alternate hotels (because I made up my mind to attend kind of late). So, I was a little surprised on the airport shuttle bus when the woman sitting next to me told the driver that she and her friend were attending the same conference and staying at the same hotel as me.

The ride in from the airport was kind of long and as the woman next to me chatted with her friend, I started to think I recognized her voice. I kind of glanced sideways over at her and was pretty sure I had met her before, but couldn't place where or when. For whatever reason, she asked me if I was in town for work. I told her that I was attending the same conference as they were......and then told her I thought we had met before. Long story short, we finally deduced that we had worked in the same department for a company 15 years ago. We marveled at what a small world it was.

We got to the hotel and went our separate ways. About an hour later, I was down in the hotel lobby taking a look at my city map before venturing out, when the two women came down the elevator. They saw me and asked me if I'd like to join them for dinner. So, I did.

We were sitting in the restaurant waiting for our food to arrive and making small talk about what we each had planned for our free time. I told them I was restoring an old house and was going to visit some of the" old house" stores in Portland. My former co-worker asked me where my house was located, and I told her the general neighborhood. She mentioned that a number of years ago she dated a guy who lived in that part of town near a popular local restaurant. I told her that I also lived really close to that place.

She paused for a second and then slowly said her ex-boyfriend's address as she remembered it. It took me a minute before I realized the address she had just said was MY ADDRESS. I even had to repeat my address silently in my head to make sure.

My former coworker's (who I met on a hotel shuttle after 15 years) ex-boyfriend lived in my house. We had to stop talking for a few minutes as our brains imploded.

She had a very detailed memory for what my house looked like. She commented on the quirky bathroom with zero clearance between the toilet & tub. She told me there were little benches on either side of my front door. And she confirmed my suspicions that as late as the 1990's the house still had it's original stove (which of course, points to the realtor who flipped the house as being the one who yanked the vintage stove out - a pox on her and her children.) She even thought she may have some old photos. She confirmed and corrected some of my assumptions about this guy (based solely on my vivid imagination and what I could find in my house abstract). She also told me that he had passed away at a fairly young age.

We had been discussing all this for a bit when she said "I'm not sure if I should mention this or not...." It turns out the the ex-boyfriend has mentioned his thoughts on the after life. Of course, this led us to try to figure out if he was trying to reach her or me.....and how much of a hand he might have had in us meeting on the shuttle, etc. Bizarre, huh? What if he hung around to help me figure out what my house is supposed to look like before passing on into the bright light?

We have plans to meet for lunch & a tour of the house sometime soon.

Freakishly small world, huh?

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