Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Surviving the Winter

It is cold here! For those who have not been following the saga let me remind you that our primary source of heat comes from two wood pellet stove inserts. We have four furnaces from the days when this place was four apartments but none are hooked up because they all vented out of chimneys. They are all 80% efficiency furnaces. The main part of the house has no attic insulation either. We have been struggling with getting the temperature on the first floor above 60 degrees and on the second floor it hovers around 62 degrees. We have had to resort to a few different strategies. One is the traditional method

This raises the temperature as long as there is wood inside the house to fuel the fire. Unfortunately, at night when the fire goes out, so does all the warm air. Right out the chimney. We wake up to 56 degrees on the first floor! We have curtains up between some less used rooms and the main hallway to keep the warm air contained. That hallway is very cold!

We bought a "Heater Fan" for Elizabeth's room.

This is a Reiker brand fan and cost us $269. It was installed by yours truly the day that it arrived. It maintains the temperature in her room between 63 and 65 degrees. It is still not enough so I went out and bought this

50 bags of blow in insulation. I get to borrow the machine for free except that you get it for 24 hours with a 20 bag purchase. I negotiated 2 days since I really didn't have to buy all 50 bags at once. I have to go back to pick up the machine when I have some time because it took 4 hours to make two trips to the big box retailer and haul those 50 bags up three flights of stairs to the third floor!

The plan is to spend New Years Day blowing this stuff into the floor of the "attic." Fortunately we have many floorboards already ripped up so this should be a relatively easy task. When done it should give me an R-value of around 26 between the second and third floors. That will keep some of the heat in and reduce our pellet use - I hope. We bought 4 tons of pellets in September. We have used 3 1/2 tons almost. I have one ton still from last year. Looks like we need to buy another 4 tons. It makes me wonder how they heated this house around 1890. I know it had a coal furnace but one would have to shovel coal in it constantly throughout the day. I have to fill the pellet stoves first thing in the morning and last thing at night or they will run out of pellets causing the temperature to drop.

So now I am running around doing some last minute rewiring of the bathroom before the insulation goes in because it will be much harder to do it after Friday. Stupid stuff like moving a light switch so that it isn't behind the door when it opens. Of course, when I installed the switch the first time we didn't have a door or a toilet for that matter! So now I have to come up with something to hook the original switch to. I'm thinking wall lights but that means more wiring!

Saturday, November 07, 2009


News will be slow for a while. In case anyone didn't know, I am the Mayor-Elect of Dayton Ohio. The race has been described as the "Big Upset" locally and may be national news very soon. I am an Independent candidate. I won the election on a budget of $17,000. There was no special interest money donated to my campaign. The incumbent spent at least $120,000 and had the full backing of the Ohio Democratic Party as well as the Montgomery County Democratic party. Six of the nine political mailings done by the incumbent were negative about me. I had no money for mailings. We went door-to-door. I had the backing of the voters of Dayton which trumped the political machine.
If the incumbent had read this blog and understood the enormous task that this house presented, maybe she would not have underestimated my capabilities.

The incumbent spent $134,000 and had an additional $60,000 in-kind donations. My money expenditures were $17000 and I had an additional $5000 in-kind. You don't need big money or a whole lot of support from a political party in order to win a mayoral election. Working smart and good timing can beat money and an established name in the political arena. Even a two term incumbent, democratic party super delegate.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back to Brimfield

We were on vacation last week. We decided that it would be cool to visit Maine and on the way back, go back to Brimfield. Maine was beautiful. I have never been to Maine before. We went to Belfast and spent a day in Acadia National Park looking for starfish and sea urchins with Elizabeth. Since we are home educators, much of this trip will get logged in as science. On Wednesday we drove to Brimfield, Mass.
If you have never been to Brimfield, it is an experience. This year marked the 50th anniversary. It all began in 1959 when an auctioneer opened his property up to 67 dealers to sell their stuff for a few days. Now it has grown to 21 different fields along a one mile stretch of road with some 5000 dealers. If you go to the link above you will see an aerial photograph that will give you an idea of how big this show is.
This year I had the privilege of running into someone that I used to work with in my Pittsburgh days some 15 years ago. Jack Dill is an auctioneer that I worked with for about a year and a half. He now has his own business. He bought an old Victorian house back in 1994 and proceeded to renovate it. He has been selling at Brimfield for 25 years. It is because of him that I knew about this place. Here he is in action!

Elizabeth was in her element. She collects Wade figurines and had discovered an entire box full of the things when I took this photo

We also discovered a great craft item for kids when we went to one local restaurant. They are called wikkistix. These wax covered pieces of string can be used like pipe cleaners to make things. Here is a photo of my figure (on the right, in a pike man's pose) and Elizabeth's figure which is about to stick a pie in my face!

But alas, vacation is over. Today I cut the grass, weed whacked the back yard and made a dash to Home Depot to get the wood paneling to fix my termite infested kitchen wall. Tomorrow the craziness associated with running for mayor begins. Only six weeks to election day and then I get my life back!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

It's Been Awhile .....

Sorry for the delay in posting. You would think I was running for mayor or something ....

What has August brought us. Let's see. Lots of rain has caused much havoc and our bathroom ceiling finally produced a black hole where there once were mushrooms growing out of the wall and ceiling. I have made several trips to the roof with tar and flashing in hand to reduce the effect of the rain. At one point during a severe storm, I emptied three five gallon buckets of water in 7 minutes.

I have been chopping wood. The back yard jungle has been cleared to some extent and needs much more work. There is so much wood debris. We need one of those chiminea things so we can just burn most of it. I'm tempted to take one of our wood stoves outside. In the meantime we have lots of termites back there. As long as they stay away from my kitchen I don't care. What we really need is an anteater for a day or two. A couple of goats would be good too. I wouldn't have to cut the grass.

Now let's talk about the raccoon that has been frequenting our attic. Several nights in a row we have been awakened around 4 AM by something going "BUMP" in the night. On the third floor no less. After investigating the first time we heard it, I found a raccoon climbing up one of the structural joists. After a few prods with a long stick the thing wouldn't budge so I told it to leave quietly and went back to bed! Two more nights it returned and it sounded like the thing was having a relay race around the central chimney up there. So a couple more trips to the roof to plug a few holes and we are back to sleeping like babes except that the dumpsters at the Dollar Tree store are emptied at around 4:30 AM every other morning which is a violation of the noise ordinance I believe. The driver of that truck bangs those things so loud that the whole house shakes. Maybe they need a raccoon to keep them company.

Monday, July 20, 2009



Super Bastards. They ate the pink styrene!

Oh well, we needed an excuse to re-paint the outside of the kitchen.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Laundry Room Blues

In 2006 the laundry room looked like this.

You can read about the progress back then if you search the archived posts from around July 2006.

This morning the room looked like this.

I spent a couple of days putting the tile down and getting the room painted. We decided to use up some old paint that we had left over rather than buy a new color. So we ended up using three colors since we didn't have enough of any single color to do the entire room. Two walls are the same green color that we used in our bedroom. One wall is dark brown and one wall and the ceiling is a pale yellow color. Not bad considering that I started on Friday and today is Tuesday. It's not like I'm running for Mayor or anything important like that ....

Last night when I was painting, Elizabeth wanted to help me with a paint brush but the only brushwork was cutting in the edges which requires a steady hand. So I promised her she could come out with me today and help me paint out some graffiti on this old building. All in a days work!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Chronicles of Narnia.

Like we need more furniture! We went to another auction at our favorite auction house and bought a wardrobe because Deborah has way too many clothes! The three closets don't cut it. Of course, in the 1840s when the house was built, people only had three sets of clothes and a drawer full of collars and cuffs. So in those days the three closets were adequate and probably quite bare.
The wardrobe is a Gothic style knockdown wardrobe from the 1840s. We know this because it has those pre 1846 flat tipped screws holding the hardware together. It is in excellent condition and we got it for $350. You can't get a new one at IKEA for that price!
Here is the money shot;

Elizabeth thinks it will take her to Narnia. I hope she isn't too disappointed.

While we were there we bought another mirror. We have so many. This one was a deal at $55.

It is leaning against the wall in the hall until I find time and a location to hang it ..... I am hoping no white rabbits will emerge from it.

We are STILL living out of many boxes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Evil Roots

I am so far behind with blog updates. That is what happens when life catches up with you!

Anyway, would you believe that one week after snaking out the drain, it blocked up again? This time I did what any sane, intelligent person would do. I asked the wife to call Roto Rooter and schedule for them to come out and clean the thing!

The poor man was here for at least two hours. He got about 2X more roots out of the main sewer drain than I did one week earlier and called for a supervisor to stop out with the "camera." A few days after my drain was professionally cleaned we got it "scoped" to see if we were facing any major problems.

The drain passed with flying colors! In fact, considering the fact that it has been there for at least 113 years it was in remarkably good shape. Three tiles exhibited slight separation. One may be off by one inch due to settling. It had a root protruding through it into the drain. Looks like we dodged the bull(et) dozer this time around. Think of all the money we saved!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Root of All Evil

Wouldn't you know it. Three weeks after we move in the sewer backs up. This is a common story. Fortunately it wasn't so bad. Of course it would happen the week that I was out of town. I don't know if I ever mentioned it before but when we bought this place, upon closing we discovered that the sewer had backed up and my very first job was wading through two inches of water and sewage in the basement in order to clean the place up.
Anyway, I rented a large drain snake on Tuesday and proceeded to snake the drain. At about the 50 feet mark the snake was kinked and I could not get it to go down the drain. It kept winding the coil in the rotating cage such that it would not pull out in order to be fed down the drain. This was frustrating because I had a luncheon speech and a neighborhood tour to do this same day, so I must have changed my clothes five times between various events. Eventually I gave up and went to bed late. On Wednesday morning I returned the equipment and got another to replace it. I rushed home and got the job done before 11:00 AM so that Elizabeth could go to her playgroup by 11:30! Good job I'm not afraid of dirty work.

Here were the results;

A pile of roots bigger than my hand

and the tell tale signs that the drain had been snaked!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Move From Hell (Part Two)

So this last week has evoked such intelligent conversation like;

"Honey, where is the (insert common household item)?"
"It is in a bag in the kitchen."
"Do you know which bag? I count at least nine that I can see."

Then there are these conversations:

"Wow! I haven't worn that shirt since 1982. Let's see if it fits." Rrrrrrrip! "Oh well, now I have reason to throw it out."

"Cor blimey, what the phuck? I used to use this thing when I went to school. I wondered where it went. Guess we'll box it up and stick it in the basement."

"Do you think Elizabeth will want this old toy when she is older?"

We have also vowed NOT to buy any more books at the library book sales. We have boxes and boxes of kids books. We could probably open our very own neighborhood children's library. Guess who has to carry them up the stairs to Elizabeth's room?

So what have I done in the way of work on the house this week? Quite a bit actually. A neighbor and I hauled the claw foot tub to the third floor and got the worlds heaviest washing machine to the second floor laundry room without destroying the woodwork. I hooked it up and guess what? It doesn't leak - yet. Remember those two marble tiles I busted out in the bathroom a couple of years back because the pipe froze? Well, not replacing them paid off because the other pipe froze sometime in the last two years and when I turned on the hot water to the shower I had water dripping into the basement. I fixed that problem by cutting the copper pipe and using a "gator grip" cap. Where were "Gator grips" eight years ago when I needed them? I remember PEX was not approved for use by the city back then also. Anyway, the tiles are still out but those empty plastic wood pellet bags duck taped to the wall provide a temporary cover for the time being. The shower works great but we can't use the body jets just yet unless we want to mop the floor beyond the center of the room.
We had the phone number transferred last Friday but then I realized I had run phone line throughout the house but had failed to put any jacks in. So that was another trip to Lowes. Then on Monday the phone went out but the DSL didn't. Don't know if anyone has ever tried to contact the phone company when the phone line is dead but we had to stop at Deborah's work to call that problem in. I also got two of the four slide out shelves made for under the kitchen counter, the computers are hooked up, the faucet changed in the bathroom and a plug installed. Oh, I also had to get the smoke detectors installed before the pancake breakfast and when I burned the first pancake soon after opening the doors we knew they were working just fine!

So, here we are, finally moved in after only eight years and thirty days and about to embark on the busiest six months of my life. Guess how long we will be living out of boxes!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Move From Hell (Part One)

Not wanting to sound like a post from "The Devil Queen" I will describe what I hope was the final moving experience of my life. We planned to move into the "Old Crack House" the week following my fund raising pancake breakfast. Which was great by the way. In fact, the local paper wrote a story. Deborah took the whole week off of work so we could pack and move stuff. Then we hit the first snag. Deborah had to show up for jury duty on the Monday. Of course, with all the people they could have chosen, she was picked ..... for a murder trial ...... that would last the entire week. The good news was she was home early on Thursday because she would deliberate on Friday. Since it seemed to be a slam dunk case, she knew what her verdict was going to be and if everyone was in agreement she would be home early on Friday. One person of the twelve did not agree and so it took the entire day to decide a verdict. In between appointments, amusing Elizabeth and attending the odd meeting, I managed to pack a lot of boxes.

By this time we are behind on our packing. We moved a few things over during the week in a borrowed van but the big move was going to happen on the Saturday when we would rent a 16 ft Budget Truck. We were only moving 4 blocks so we didn't mind having to make a couple of trips. While we were moving stuff out, the renter of our other house was moving stuff in. We warned her that we were running a bit behind on our plan and she had no plan to actually reside in the place until Tuesday. So we had four days to do a weeks worth of work. We moved on Saturday and we moved on Sunday which was much worse than Saturday because I miscalculated my ability to judge distances by 3 inches and clipped the bumper of the neighbors car with the rear step of the truck while pulling in front of the house, doing a mere $1200 worth of damage to her car. So while we are actually moving into the "Crack House", I have been relegated to the "dog house" but I've been there so many times I am used to it. We have been paying insurance premiums without an accident since 1990 so I was long overdue and since bad things come in threes, I will let you all know when I have the next two accidents and whether I make it out of the dog house before those happen! We moved again on Monday and got more stuff Tuesday and I still have to retrieve items from the garage and one corner of the basement.

I never realized how much crap we had! I hadn't seen some of this crap since I moved to Dayton from Pittsburgh fifteen years ago! If I stick it in the basement here it won't be found for another 30 years! I remember that old skit from Saturday Night Live, "If it's not Scottish, it's crap!" I can safely say I have very little stuff that is Scottish and what I have that might be would certainly fit in an extra small sporran! Of course, since it belongs to us, it is stuff, but in reality it is crap. Now here is what some of our rooms look like so you have an idea about the magnitude of our crap collection.

These are big rooms. This is a lot of crap!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Stop It With The Farmhouse Sex!

Why are people doing Google searches for "Farmhouse sex"? I haven't figured it out. I get several hits on this site every day from people searching for "Sex in a farmhouse", "Farmhouse sex", "Sex in an antique farmhouse" or just plain "Sex on a farm". I know why they are finding the site. It is because of this post some two years ago. What I don't understand is WHY people are searching. You can rest assured knowing that the majority of such searches originate in India or Pakistan. Must be something to do with a translation glitch. Maybe there is a rock band called Farmhouse Sex, I don't know. I think I'll Google it and find out for myself ........

"Hey, what is this Crackhouse site?"

This is my 500th post by the way. I apologize if you have had to read the other 499 in order to find this one that tells you absolutely nothing about what you are searching for. I suggest that you go buy a goat!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gosh, Darn, Blast and Phuck it!

I did something yesterday that I haven't done in two years. Wait for it ...... now you all remember just how much I hate plumbing, right? Wait for it ..... Well, um, er ... I turned the water on to the second floor of the house. I am proud to report that Newtons gravitational theory still applies in the 21st century. Well at least to our cold water line. Water emitted between the 1st and 2nd floors did manage to find its way to the basement within a matter of seconds.

Phuck it, phuck it, phuck it, phuck it, phuck it!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

An Open Invitation

Gary Leitzell
For Dayton Mayor

Ready. Willing. Able.

You are respectfully invited to a Pancake Breakfast and Open House at
“This Old Crack House.”

Enjoy homemade pancakes with delectable toppings.
View before/after photos of “This Old Crack House.”
Suggested donation: $5.00 per person
All proceeds and donations will go to “Friends of Gary Leitzell.”

Please RSVP or there won’t be enough pancakes for you!
(937) 253-1359 or

Where: 114 Volkenand Ave., Dayton, OH 45410
(Across the street from Wayne Ave. Family Video)
Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Date: Saturday April 25, 2009

Paid for by Friends of Gary Leitzell
Dan Kennedy, treasurer, 525 Heiss Ave. Dayton, OH 45403

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Family Portrait

Seen through the eyes of a six year old!

That thing above Deborah's head is the ceiling fan in case you wondered.
I noticed that my lips are so much fuller than ever before and I have my old waistline back!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Price of Gas!

We just got our gas bill from Vectren yesterday. We used to pay just $3.50 several years ago as a service charge each month but that was increased to $7.34 about two years ago. Now, realize that we use NO gas at the "Old Crack House" or so little that we got billed for one ccf last year and that was for cumulative use of the tankless water heater. Now the fee has increased to $13.47 a month with an added volume charge based on usage. Next year it will go up to $18.37 with no volumetric charge. That means we are paying 83% more for a product that we aren't using. I don't understand it. The world markets are plummeting, we have another 100 plus years supply of natural gas and the cost of that has decreased about 30% since last summer. So, how can it cost 83% more to get it to my house when it has been coming in since the 1890s and I have gas lines in my floor to prove it!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Overdue Update

Here is an overdue update of what has been happening here.

1) House update; very little to report. I have done little to nothing for the last two months due to item 3) below. I am trying to get the place cleaned up and all the clutter put away because we plan to move in very soon!

2) Kid update; Elizabeth turned six last week and is more excited at the fact that she has a loose tooth than the fact that she has almost completed her kindergarten course for the year. Of course the completion of school work only guarantees that she will proceed to first grade material before entering first grade. The losing of baby teeth means she has to be more vigilant with her brushing!
She didn't want to go ice skating this winter either ......

3) The Dayton Mayor update; If you don't live in Dayton or check my link periodically at the right side of the page that says "DaytonMayor" then you have no idea what has happened in the last few weeks. Five people submitted petitions to run for mayor. Only two qualified. The incumbent and myself. Since then two of the people that did not acquire enough valid signatures from registered voters residing in the city have filed protests with the board of elections. The board of elections has rejected their protests since they have little legal claim but if their claims were valid I would have been running unopposed! I am running as an independent candidate but have managed to attract the favor of the Republican Party which is going to help me out tremendously in the days ahead. Fortunately there will be no primary election since we only have two candidates. This means that I didn't get swept up into a whirlwind of chaos preparing to be on a May ballot. Hopefully this also means that I can get some work done on the house!
This will be an interesting year. I hope I can keep up!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Today I ....

did something I haven't been able to do in a while. I worked on the house! I have to get the place cleaned up for several reasons. I will elaborate more in the very near future! In the meantime I am starting to get the third floor cleaned up a bit. We have lots of walnut shells littered all over the floor up there. Me thinks we have a squatter .....

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Cost to Build in 1965

I went to visit my father in Cleveland a few weeks ago and he wanted me to go through a stack of old papers. Most of the papers got shredded but I saved an old folder pertaining to a house that my parents built in 1965. I remember the house vaguely. I remember visiting the site once while it was under construction and I remember a little bit of the time we lived there even though it was for about two years. My grandfather gave my parents the lot since it was next door to them. My brother and I used to run over to their house on Saturday mornings so that we could watch the cartoons on TV in color since they had a color TV while we still had black and white. Everything my parents paid is documented in this folder. It is quite interesting to someone like myself. The house was a brick veneer modern ranch style 40' X 24' single story house with a basement and integral garage. The model was called "The Christopher".

My parents took out a mortgage for $12,500 AT 5 1/2% interest. Their mortgage payment was $80.00 a month. My father made $613.00 a month as an industrial engineer. The basic shell cost $7618.00 and labor cost to build was $775.00.

The entire cost to plumb and sewer was $335.00. Wiring was $140.00. Heating was $108.00. Plastering cost $520.00. The garage door cost $90.00.

The total cost on the construction loan sheet was $13,258.75. I believe the place was completed within 6 months.

I think we have spent way more than this. My labor cost is nothing and we still aren't done yet! My dad told me he once ran for the school board so it would seem we have more in common than one would have thought!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dayton Home and Garden Show

The Dayton Home and Garden Show is next weekend, February 27 - March 1 at the Dayton Convention Center. So all you folks from the Dayton Region need to go out to this and get lots of ideas for your own renovations. All I can ask is that when you use a contractor to do the work, make sure it is a local one. We need to protect jobs in our region.

Check out this site while you are at it Improve Your Home and Garden they are part of the promotion team and have some interesting articles on their site.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Our 4th Break In.

We have experienced yet another break in. I don't understand why some people risk their lives to acquire nothing. This makes number four since we bought the place. The only time anything was actually stolen was when some idiot took my chainsaw and hid it by my old van so they could come and collect it later when mommy and daddy weren't going to be home to smell the gasoline fumes it emits because it leaks! I recovered the chainsaw so they achieved nothing and left me with two broken window panes.
This break in is totally weird. Someone made the effort to climb our fire escape at the back of the house. The first flight of steps has been removed to discourage such activity. Once at the top they busted out two pieces of plexi-glass that I use to stop raccoons from accessing the box gutter and getting on my roof so that they can climb down my chimney. Then they climbed out onto the box gutter and hopped up on the top of the fire escape and then on top of the roof where they managed to heave the cover of the access hole off. This would require some force. Once opened they would have found a ladder leading some 13 feet down to the floor. There is no evidence that they entered the building. All I can think is that someone who used to live here when the place was apartments my have been under the illusion that they would drop 6 feet into an attic and another 7 feet onto the third floor where they could rob the apartment. Well, if they come back they are in for a shock. The door hatch is secured better and the ladder has been removed.
I think they did this to celebrate Charles Darwin's 200th birthday since it happened last Thursday. It is a pity they didn't fall off my roof so that they could qualify for a Darwin award.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dayton Housing

Property values in Dayton are our best kept secret. I posted about this before a couple of years ago. The real estate bubble bursting did not affect our values tremendously but has caused a surplus in vacant housing. We have another wave of foreclosures coming. Adjustable rate mortgages that are going to reset at a higher interest rate in the next two years. Then there are all those "interest only" loans that are going to affect the owners of the mcmansions in the suburbs. I would urge anyone to refinance if possible and lock in at a fixed rate and would always recommend 15 years over 30 years. If you have at least 20% equity in your house then a home equity loan used to pay off the first lien holder could save you thousands $$$ in refinancing fees and reduce the term left on a 30 year loan to 20 years.

I'm telling this to the world now and I will continue to over the next few years because we are poised to recover faster than many other parts of the country if people know about our low property values. You can buy decent houses here for less than $40,000. Old houses, big houses, fine houses. Why so cheap? Besides the fact that there are so many empty houses in the area, they are stripped of copper and heating systems in many cases. To fix them up yourself may cost as little as a few thousand $$$. To pay someone may cost $20,000. Not bad for a fixer upper. Most are in solid shape. Here is the real news though. In two years when the banks start loaning mortgage money they are going to go back to the old rules. That means 10% to 20% down on a house. It is going to be easier to save 20% for a house valued at $80,000 or less than for one that is $200,000. What about jobs? We need more well paying jobs here because we have lost many manufacturing positions (just like every where else) but if you ever had the inclination to start your own business, this is certainly the place to be. We have affordable housing and a cost of living that is below the national average. We are located almost equidistant between Indianapolis, Columbus and Cincinnati. If you own a home in New York City then you could sell it and retire here in a much bigger house!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Follow up to "The Crap In My Back Yard"

Last April I posted about the "Crap in Our Back Yard." In this post I complained about how our county sells tax liens on piece of sh*t properties that the lien holders don't have a hope in hell of collecting on. Well, in the last 9 months since writing the post the city and county were supposedly working together to identify properties like these so that they could prevent liens from being sold so that people could acquire the property through another program offered by our city. In the same 9 months one of the houses has had SUR 13 sprayed on it (which I'm guessing isn't good) and both properties have had significant reductions in property value while ours went up 43%. In the same 9 months two adjoining properties to ours have become vacated bringing the total number of vacant structures in the immediate vicinity to ours to 7 out of 18. In the same 9 months I mentioned these properties to city directors, a commissioner and if you recall from my April post, the mayor, who acknowledged my concern about such properties several times during the same nine months. I was told at least twice from different sources, that these properties were on the nuisance list and scheduled to be demolished. I reviewed that list on line last week and these properties were not listed at all. In fact, one is listed as having 3 code violations while the other has 6 code violations. I checked the online tax records this evening and noticed that the 2007 liens were sold. This means that these will sit ANOTHER 2 YEARS before I can attempt to acquire them in any way that is affordable because the total owed in liens for both properties is about $15,000 now. I have no way of knowing because the taxes are no longer delinquent. Way to go!

One other thing, 9 Months ago in my post I threatened to run for mayor and now I'm going through the process of making that a reality. So at least one person is willing to do something to improve the situation. Just like the old saying, "If you want a job done properly, do it yourself." I wish I could just go down to the courts and file a civil suit against the property owner for contributing to the demise in property values but the county auditor isn't co-operating with us!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Even More Cold Weather Crappity Crap

Here I am worrying about the pipes freezing at the "Crack House" during ultra cold weather. On Friday the pipes froze in the downstairs bathroom at the residence and low and behold, the pipe feeding the toilet was completely splintered were it sits in the wall. Of course I only discover this AFTER it has been thawed out for two or more hours. Did I ever tell you how much I hate plumbing? What, you don't remember?

I walked down to the basement where most of the floor was covered in water. Turned off the shut-off valve to the bathroom (I've been through this before!) Waded through the inch and a half deep puddle which was already draining itself down the floor drain and put on a small electric floor fan. Then I walked away. Two days later the floor was dry and I replaced the CPVC pipe that was cracked with some new CPVC (I keep a stash on hand at all times.) I need to buy a new shut off valve to the toilet but that repair will take 5 minutes. It is so nice not to be phased about what most people would consider to be a major plumbing problem. The wife wasn't even upset, so I guess I have finally arrived when it comes to plumbing woes!

More Cold Weather Crap!

When the thermostat for the pellet stove drops below 38 degrees, which it often does after running out of pellets on really cold days or nights, it registers 99.9 degrees and the whole heating plan for this place falls apart. So I have to go over to plan B which is to put this thing

within three feet of the thermostat to get it to read at least 38.4 degrees so that this

comes on. However, it turns out that on really cold nights like we had last week, I have to revert to our back up heat source

and our back up to the back up heat source

just to get the room temperature up enough to get the pellet stove to kick on! Eventually we can get the first floor up to a real toasty temperature as you can see here ....

Of course, Elizabeth running around the place adds a couple of degrees to the temperature so I make certain to take her along every day when I check on the pellet stove!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Another Day at the Auction

We went to ANOTHER auction on Sunday. Our favorite Auction House, Woods Auction, had an all-day er and we came home a little poorer than when we arrived there. I don't know about the rest of the country but it seems that the market for basic antique furniture has tanked. If you want beds, drawers, tables or chairs then buy at an auction. We kick ourselves for not buying stuff sometimes. Even if we don't need it!

We tend to buy things we like or things that we know that we need. Sometimes these become split second decisions at an auction. We bought two old irons for $15 to use as bookends or doorstops. Did we plan on buying these? No, but they would go with the house and we have a Godawful amount of books that we get at library book sales. Cast bookends sell for a lot more than $15! We bought a large Victorian oval picture frame with the curved glass for $20. I bought three of these several years ago in a box lot for $20 which was one of my better scoops. I put black and white or antiqued pictures of Elizabeth in them and hang them on the wall. Maybe we'll do a family portrait for this one.

We bought a set of three hip hugger chairs and a captains chair. Two are pictured here;

We got these for $17.50 each. Now, if you say that you are all about recycling or saving the rain forest, buy things at auction. The tree was cut down long before you were born and you can't save it now. Besides, a single, new wooden chair at IKEA will cost you $40 - $60 and isn't anywhere as nice as these. I learned a long time ago not to buy very much that is new. Old stuff like furniture is made better than anything you find today and is often solid wood if it was made before 1930 when plywood started becoming popular. You can't beat old iron cookware either. After it is seasoned it is better than any non-stick pan on the market. Teflon is just a thin layer of a carbon based compound that flakes off eventually. A seasoned iron pan has a decent residue of real carbon and is readily replaced by burning the remains of last nights meal onto the bottom of the pan then rinsing it with water!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Back of Beyond

Now here is a view of the house that you've never seen. I never really paid too much attention to it either. In the summer you can't see the house for the trees.

You can see the fire escape in it's full ugly glory. Complete with missing pieces that blow off every so often. This contraption is responsible for most of our roof leak problems. On rainy days I'm glad I kept all those empty joint compound buckets!