Sunday, October 28, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
And I haven't posted about productive work on the house for I think a week yet again.
Friday, October 19, 2007
"Sure. It's the Recorder of Deeds Office. Go on over. They won't be busy right now."
(It's handy living in the county seat, with the courthouse just a few blocks away.)
So I went and inquired. And found out some things I hadn't expected to learn.
The legend around my neighborhood is that the land was a fruit farm up until 1925 or so. That about that time, the old farming couple died and their grown children didn't want to take on the orchards. That the heirs platted the land and sold it off for building lots, and barring the original farmhouse across the street and the old carriage house down the block, all the dwellings here date from the late 1920s or thereafter.
Well. That's not what it says at the Recorder of Deeds.
The area may well have been a fruit farm-- the plat is called "Groveland Plan." But it was platted and registered in June of 1889.
As for ownership of my lot* and its "appurtenances," it goes like this:
Prior to his death in November 1911, it was owned by Edward J. Allison. It then passed to his children, with a life-interest held by his widow Margaret M. Allison.
19 June 1916, Margaret M. Allison and her adult children Margaret and Dwight liquidated all their considerable property in the plat for the benefit of their minor brother and sister, selling "my" lot to Romaine A. Wilkinson and his wife Laura D.
15 April 1920, the Wilkinsons sold the property to George Henry and Cora Lezonia Jeffrey.
16 April 1920, the Jeffreys sold it to Laurie H. and Kathryn G. McLaughlin.
(There must be a story here. Were the McLaughlins family to the Jeffreys? Was Kathryn a Jeffrey by birth?).
This much I learned from actually looking at the recorded deeds. What follows is from the clerk's print-out:
1 January 1930, Kathryn G. McLaughlin purchased the property (from the estate?) for $4,600.
The next day, 2 January 1930, she sold it to Kathryn C. McLaughlin (her daughter??) for $1.
30 November 1981, Kathryn C. McLaughlin sold the property to Mary K. Soltis for $45,000.
25 June 1987, it was purchased for $1 by Mary Kathryn and James Neri (Hmmm. Are Mary K. Soltis and Mary Kathryn Neri one and the same? I suspect so). These are my POs-1, my Victorianizing previous owners. (Bless their hearts!)
28 February 1997, the Neris sold the land and improvements to my immediate POs, John A. and Kate A. Carpenter for $96,500.
And on 28 August 2003, I, Kate H., bought it from them.
Do you see a pattern here? It was so astonishing to the Deeds clerk that she dropped everything to help me search. Ever since 1920, this property has been owned by someone named Kathryn/Katherine or Kate!
Too strange . . .
But as to the house itself, the Deeds clerk brought up an assessment document stating that it was built in 1916! And she was anxious to point out that it might be older than that and probably is.
What difference does it make the the Sow's Ear is at least ten years older than I thought it was?
It's a matter of spirit as I go about the improvements. It assures me that I'm not abusing the original intention of the house by redoing it with a Craftsman or Arts and Crafts feel. Before, I felt I needed to curb my enthusiasm: after all, I'd tell myself, the house could actually date from the 1930s; maybe I should be going for that sort of style. But no. Now I know my instincts were correct.
And now I know what to look for for examples and inspiration.
There's a lot more I can find out, but that's all I had time for today.
The immediate remaining mystery is, why didn't I run over to the courthouse before and find this out a whole lot sooner?
*My land is actually portions of two lots of the original 1889 plat, but for style's sake, I call it one lot.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Huh? I thought I was taking a class to learn architectural computer drafting!
No chance to ask the teacher about it after class. Besides, what can he do? He's teaching what he's teaching, and I'm a non-degree student anyway. But I had to ask the faculty supervisor down in the office about something else, so I inquired of him-- am I in the wrong section?
No, not really. Turns out the AutoCAD 2008 class I'm taking is a prerequisite for both architectural and mechanical drafting. And apparently it's up to the instructor for the term which one he or she wants to emphasize. It's the luck of the draw.
Meaning that I need to be willing to be bored-- I mean, instructed by having to do up incomprehensible-- I mean, illuminating diagrams of pipe fittings and machinery, in order to get the commands down. That's the point of taking the class, after all.
The faculty supervisor said he could ask the course instructor to assign me something architectural for my final project. But I won't stake my life or my grade on it happening.
Friday, October 12, 2007
When I draw up digital ideas for my ugly foursquare box, I can post them on here. I'm sure you'll be waiting with anticipation and glee.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
*Fill the rough places in the replacement plywood drafting board and make it smooth to receive the vinyl board cover. This was an all-day process, of course. Started with spackle, finished with joint compound. Started with wet sanding, finished with dry hand sanding. Started in my front room where I have plenty of floor space and light, finished in the basement which is darker but where I have a better chance of keeping the dust contained.
*Take the new high-pressure hose nozzle and knock the loose paint off the Adirondack furniture. Yeah, the set I was talking about repainting way back here.
It was chilly today. Fall and winter are definitely in the wind. Shortly before sunset it hit me that I'd better tackle this job now, if it's going to get done before next summer at all.
Because the only place to do it was the portion of the backyard closest to the house where my dog has messed up the grass. If I wait till next spring, the new grass will be trying to come up and I'd drown it with all the water. But if I power wash the chairs and table now, the water will dilute the doggie residue. And it won't mess up the grass-- there really isn't any. The paint chips will get raked up with the dead thatch. And doing it right away, there's half a chance I may still get some grass started this fall, before it gets too cold.
I'm debating what sort of surfactant to use to get the actual dirt off this furniture. I'm thinking maybe plain baking soda. Seems to me, it'd be good for the soil. It might neutralize all that doggie acid.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Yesterday on my general blog I posted about trying to get the old linoleum off my thirty-year-old drafting board. I wrote it there because it was more about me actually taking steps towards generating some freelance architectural work, than about fixing up the house per se.
But it's turned into a houseblog issue.
Because the lino residue stinks. Badly.
And the smell is getting up my sinuses, and it hurts.
Why does everything these guys say sound so reasonable when they're talking to me and so "hey, wait a minute!" when they go?
But afterwards, I got to wondering. I checked out foundation drain details in Architectural Graphic Standards, and they didn't tally with the assumptions my waterproofing estimators were making. But maybe they know the houses around here weren't built that way? Who was I to argue with them?
This sounds reasonable. Really reasonable, for a change.
As to my opening question, it's just me. I hate to get into authority battles, especially when I'm not the expert in a particular field. So when I turn down your bid, it's the honest truth that I don't want the wall vinyl or don't want to borrow the money at this time-- but the fundamental reason is that I'm not totally convinced by your arguments about hydraulic engineering. And I'm too nice-- or cowardly-- to say so.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
A late development on the basement waterproofing front:
(If confusion ensues, see previous entry.)
Hooray! That gets me my three estimates before Thursday afternoon, right?
(As might be said in another context, "Skrwepullus Kat Iz Scrwepullus!")
That was bad enough. But I had a feeling at the time that my architectural firm employer was running out of projects that matched my skillset. So even if the price turned out to be the going rate, I didn't dare take on that kind of major obligation. I told the estimator I'd be getting at least three bids total and I'd (maybe) call him back.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
The appraiser who's supposed to tell the bank if my house qualifies me for the new and improved home equity line of credit was due sometime between 3:00 and 4:00 this afternoon.
At 2:15, I'm down in the basement bathroom, trying to figure out how to work the tension shower curtain rod my POs left me--I've been using it the past four years, but every time I take it down, I can't get it back up without it and the curtain falling onto the floor at least twice.
Which it was doing now. I could hear my dog barking upstairs, but he sometimes does that, at whatever or whomever passes on the street. So I ignored him, because the appraiser was due at 3:00.
But Llewellyn kept up the racket, and at last, I thought I'd better go look.
It was the appraiser, at the door. "Hi, I'm Ernie*, from XYZ Realty!"
"I wasn't expecting you till 3:00," I replied in my adrenalin-fueled, sleep-deprived, stretched-to-the-limit ungraciousness.
"I know," admitted Ernie cheerfully. "I'm running ahead today!"
He certainly was. He went out front to take his pictures and measurements, while I did a quick sweep through the house picking up dust cloths and stashing the vacuum cleaner. And I swear it was no more than four or five minutes before he appeared back in the house. He got started in the front room, and I dashed down the basement to quickly get the shower curtain up and stayed up, and to move the more egregious obstacles out of the way. Thinking to return and answer questions upstairs.
Escorted him up to the second and third floors. A quick glance here; a floppy-tape measurement there. There were spaces he seemed about to skip till I advanced and opened their doors. Is he such a pro he can take everything in at a glance? Or is basic structure and dimensions all he (and the bank) cares about? Or was he scamping the job? (Oh, surely not!)
At nearly the last minute, Ernie asked me what improvements I've made to the house since I bought it four years ago. And in all the hurry, damned if I could remember everything I should have!
There is something to be said for an unhurried approach. So much more conducive to preserving one's health and sanity. But even as your deadline drives you on to exhaustion, it's also nice to stop from time to time like God on the Seventh Day and say, as did a high school classmate of mine after a communal renovation project, "See that part? I did that. It's real keen!"
Real keen, like the bolt I installed early Tuesday morning on the hatch to the attic storage. On Monday the kittens, taking after their adopted big sister the calico cat, figured out how to jiggle the cabinet latch open and get in. The little female picked up a dead bird in there (Let's not think about how it got there and how it got dead, okay?). I do not want a repeat of this. Thus, the brass bolt.
And from Tuesday, see how keen the basement shower floor is with a second coat of moss-green floor paint? Applied it with a brush instead of a roller this time: maybe it'll hold up better.
That's real keen, too.
And early (very early) Wednesday morning, it was keen to get the basement laundry room walls de-cobwebbed, vacuumed, and scrubbed with mildewcide and Simple Green and the floor mopped with TSP:
Wednesday, I got the silly bushes in the front and side trimmed:
(I say "silly" because if you don't trim them, they look unkempt and disruptive and disreputable, but when you do trim them, it seems it's always the most charming, liveliest branch tips you have to shear off. It keeps striking me as some sort of parable about modern society, but whenever I try to work it out, I can't decide on which side the moral lies!)
But getting them done was keen, especially the lemon-lime parfait effect on the golden cypresses or whatever those are.
And it was keen to get out the loppers and tame the weeping cherry, which had threatened to reach out with its rampant branches and devour the house:
And ya gotta admit, it's real keen that at long last, I got the new tiles around the upstairs bathroom mirror grouted and a new medicine cabinet put in:
(Of course, all this will be torn out when I do my Dream Bath with the blue iridescent tile and the clawfoot tub.)
There's even more keen stuff I got done these past few busy busy busy days, all so I can impress that august personage, The Appraiser. I was up till six-ay-em doing it. (Thus the chronologically-impossible but artistically-accurate time stamp on this post.) But at this hour enough is enough. I do believe (novel thought!) that it would be really, really keen to get some sleep.
Will the appraiser think all this work is keen? Will the bank extend enough of a line for me to get something done on? We'll see in a few hours what comes of it all.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Um . . . my front border looked really ratty (witness specimen photo from last Spring): All random piles of rock and landscape fabric sticking up here and there, where I'd cleared the ground to plant daffodils and balloon flowers in previous years. Or from where I tried to dig up the miniature rhododendrens to transplant them in a more favorable spot, and gave up because the roots were under all that rock and I'd run out of places in my backyard to pile it. Good intentions and optimistic plans are all very well, but your typical appraiser won't see that. Curb appeal, my house front had not.
Wonderful how much three and two/halves people can get done in an hour and fifteen minutes! No, I did not make choir, and I shall have to prostrate myself in deepest self-agnegation to our director.
Too bad the daylight ran out. Too bad Hannah and Steve don't need about 20 more cubic yards of the stuff. I'll trade them the rock, for a hole to put it in!