This is The Amerstam, a Sears Model Home that was sold between 1920-26. My house looks a little bit like it, but there are some fundamental differences. The chimney is in a different place and the original house had six rooms, while this one has 8.
It has been two years since I last updated this blog!
I was on vacation with my family when high winds blew through our town unexpectedly and uprooted hundreds of trees in less than 10 minutes last week. It was a strange storm, I'm told. Furious and dark, according to those who lived through it. And everyone did live through it--while the storm imposed hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to homes and cars and motorcycles and power lines, there were no reported injuries, nor any rumored injuries, to people or even to pets. Our next-door-neighbor's Golden Retriever was in his backyard when our 75-foot-tall, 100-year-old Silver Maple went kerplunk over the fence. The dog, fortunately, ran for cover when the tree began its descent, which we're told took all of a few seconds. Unfortunately, the neighbor's brand new patio and landscaping were destroyed.
This is when you are thankful that you remembered to pay the insurance bills on time.
I'm not upset about the loss of the maple, even though it was the only tree that we could hang a swing on in our yard. And it provided nice shade, and it was a haven for the squirrels who've been mercilessly chased, but never caught, by our dogs. Even with all of those excellent qualities gone, I don't miss the tree--I have no sentimental attachment to it whatsoever! Perhaps this is a function of age, or the fact that I've been there, done that when it comes to trees falling suddenly, wrecking havoc. Once, while Husband and I were reading the newspaper in our previous house, we heard a loud cracking noise and found, upon looking out the window, that a large, beautiful Bradford Pear tree had split down the middle, taking out our swingset, playhouse and dozens of bushes. One of our daughters despaired that she no longer had "an escape route in case of fire", and she drew pictures of the tree for weeks to come. I lamented the loss of the tree that bloomed like an Easter bonnet each spring. But after the dead tree and all the debris were removed, I planted a garden using transplanted perennials from my other garden plot: lupines, columbine, and day lilies, for the most part.
And they grew in a place where the sun had never before been able to shine.
There is nothing wrong with a single bulb dangling from the ceiling. The light is adequate and the affect is timely, given the state of our nation's economy. But the bare bulb gets tiresome, which is why I purchased light fixtures recently: three exterior sconces and two kitchen pendants. I still have a half-dozen fixtures to go, but this was a good start.
As you might expect if you've ever read this blog before, I shopped
around a lot. And I have a suggestion for anyone looking for a niche in
the retail industry: open up a mid-price lighting store. Most of what's
available at the big-box stores looks, costs and IS horrendously cheap,
I didn't think I had the capacity to care for another living thing when my youngest daughter brought home an aging betta fish last year. I was managing three kids, two dogs, one husband, freelance-work and the renovation of our house. Plus, we already had a betta fish, "Rainy," who ate so slowly we had to feed him one morsel at a time.
So I was peeved when our neighbor outgrew her fish phase and gave "Bob" to my second-grader: Like I needed another dependent! Now instead of taking one minute to feed the fish every day, feeding time would take me two minutes! Cleaning time would take me four! Unlike Rainy, who is as elegant as a red silk scarf, Bob was very ugly. His blue scales were covered with grey speckles and his mouth turned up like a catfish. The only thing I did like about Bob, at first, was that he was so old I figured he'd die real soon.
That was a year ago, and Bob turned out to be a very easy charge. He swam eagerly whenever anyone looked into his bowl. He ate quickly and with greed. He bumped against the glass to fight with Rainy in the next bowl over. And he didn't seem bothered when, one day a month ago, he no longer had a tail.
We were not sure how he lost his tail; was it a disease? Was it age-related? Did the tail get caught on a rock when I was cleaning the bowl? However it happened, being tail-less didn't slow Bob down at first. He swam wobbly, and maybe he was less eager to butt up against the glass, but he still came to the surface when one of us was standing by his bowl, and he still ate his nuggets before they started sinking.
Is there anything happier than a Lab in water? I took our Labrador retriever for a walk this morning. I wasn't intending to take her for a swim, but when we passed the access road to the beach, she kept looking back at me and nodding her head toward the lake. I swear, she was smiling! It's very hard to resist a smiling dog, especially one that is so loyal and who gives such pleasure.
Getting Rid Of Stuff has been a major theme for me these past two years. After a lifetime of being an accumulator, I now love throwing things away. Today I threw away a scratched Teflon skillet, thus liberating the pots-and-pans drawer (as well as my family ) from a potentially poisonous cooking utensil. I also gave away our cream-colored dining room rug, which I once loved but whose color I always regretted, especially after Milo used it as a poop mat when we were on vacation recently. I gave the rug to a man who came to haul away the bricks from the front yard. I gave it to him on one condition: That he must absolutely clean the rug before presenting it to his wife. I'll never know if he does this, but I tried.
Here's another thing I gave away today: a ton of bricks and bluestone shards. Well maybe not a ton. I'm not good at judging things like tons. It seemed like a ton to me. But the thing that really puts today on the anti-clutter radar is that at long last, I got rid of the ugly evergreens out front. Except for a few gnarly juniper stumps, the front yard is as naked as new construction.
For a progression of photos of the front of my house, click below
Death To The Evergreens! Armed with a Sawzall, Husband decimated the ugly shrubs that have been pricking passersby for some 40 years. We're waiting till September to do any serious planting, but it will be nice to be rid of these bushes.
When we moved into The Fixer Upper House a year and a half ago, I got a note that went something like this: "Until you get a proper mailbox, the United States Postal Service will no longer deliver mail to this address."
This unwelcome letter made me gloomy, because I had to pick up our mail at the post office until I replaced the 2-inch mail slot next to the front door with a mail box big enough to handle today's volume of junk mail. I knew it would take months...and months to find a mailbox that met my standards.
I had a vague idea about those standards: circa 1920s, wall-mount, brass with a brownish patina to go with the front door's 100-year-old lock and handle. And I knew I
didn't want art deco or arts & craft. Foreshadowing the level of effort I would put into finding other house fixtures, I searched ebay and craigslist; googled "mailboxes circa 1920;" looked through dozens of catalogs and magazines; and shopped malls, home-design stores, antique stores and flea markets. But I couldn't find the mailbox of my dreams.
Fortunately, about a year ago I got on good terms with Glen, my mail carrier. I think he felt sorry for me because the
It was one of those days you want to bottle and sell: 80, sunny, breezy enough that the bugs don't get you. At the beach, the sand was warm and the lake was wavy. The kids swam and the dog frolicked. And at home, the Italians were able to just about finish the stoop, despite a brief storm this morning. I'm going to miss those guys! Here's a pic:.