Wednesday, March 25, 2015


I had totally forgotten this blog.  Where to fill in ...

In  Sept. of 2015 we sold the old girl to a nice young family following my retirement.  In the intervening years, wow.

She painted up beautifully, gold with forest green and burgundy trim, black window frames.   So nice.

But in 2009, my husband got a job out of town and we bought another heritage home, an 1860 Greek revival in excellent shape, for him to live in.  Who wouldn't want two 100+ year old homes to take care of?

In January of 2010 the water main failed.  $7K later we knew that there were no water mains on our street, that it came via gravity feed from the cross street to the north, and that the sewer line ran via gravity to the cross street to the south.  We bought a rider for the insurance to take care of the sewer line, should it fail.  It didn't.

The kitchen turned out to be lovely.  Such a large, functional space!

Fantastic electrician Jon continued to work his magic and we left the house far safer, and with far better wiring, than we found it.

Lots of small projects gave us a beautiful, functional interior.  Perhaps the best rehab was the gut of the main bathroom, which finished with a beautiful space, reminiscent of the early 1900s with its vintage sink and tiny tile floor.

And the garden.  Oh my. Our garden became a showplace for the neighborhood.  I wish I'd kept count of the number of people who complimented us on it.

Even better, my parting shot to the city was spearheading a movement to create a historic conservation district to protect our old lady and her neighbors.  We got that through city council on a unanimous vote and to my everlasting pleasure, I know she's safe.

I have to confess, I absolutely adore that house, even after we're gone.  The warmth of the woodwork, the cozy spaces, the huge kitchen, I suspect it will be my favorite even to the grave.

We now live in an 1881 Italianate not-quite mansion on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.   It's wonderful, formal, classy, very big, and totally renovated.  I love its arched, 6' high windows, double arched front doors, and large, airy rooms.  It needs no work, which is a big reason we bought it.  But it ain't the old Mellicker Place.  God love her, she felt like home.  Godspeed!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


A kitchen remodel has to be, from a normal household operations standpoint, the room that matters most. We have missed having a kitchen sink: washing dishes in the laundry sink in a dimly lit and frankly medieval basement is no fun. The basement is not a space where we spend much time: it's replete with bats, snakes, spiders and lizards. Suitable for storage and the washer/dryer, it isn't a sub. for the kitchen.

Still, whining aside, the room's going to be much improved. A built-in dishwasher as opposed to the clumsy "portable," a new really deep sink... it's going to be worth the trouble.

I mean, it is, isn't it?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Descent into... messiness

The kitchen is upended yet again. Tomorrow the de-/con-struction process begins again. We're replacing 9.5 feet of sink cabinet and a wall cabinet with new. These will match the oven cabinet, and will have a place for a dishwasher, which means we can replace the "portable" Fridgidaire dishwasher we've used for the past 3 years with a built-in.

I spent time over the weekend chipping black ceramic tile off the walls (very nicely mounted tile, but really: why black?) and yesterday MK and I dismounted the wall cabinets and emptied the rest. First thing in the morning Bea Day Plumbers will be disconnecting the current plumbing, and after lunch builder-supreme Craig Wolffis will remove the rest of the cabinets. Then Bea Day returns to vent the kitchen plumbing and make a couple of other updates, and after that Craig starts installing the new cabinets. We're lucky to have them both: Craig and Bea Day are pretty much the best in their respective fields and they're good people to work with. Ditto our good friend and kitchen designer Mark Russo, whose patience, creativity, and good humor helped us see beyond the "what is" and have given us a glimpse of the "what might be."

Our kitchen is 30 x 14 -- huge by anybody's standards -- but it's odd space and has proven difficult to work with. Mark has been a tremendous help in reorganizing and reconfiguring space that's been remuddled at leasst twice.

So thus begins another period of hauling water to the kitchen, doing dishes in the basement laundry sink (just scrubbed out) and in general making do. This is nothing new, really.

In my younger hippy days I lived in a house with no indoor plumbing at all: all water was hauled in from a well and hauled out in a slop bucket -- this included water for bathing, brushing teeth and shaving. So the current state of affairs, really, isn't much of an inconvenience. Trouble is, 25 years of relative comfort have intervened, I'm in my 50s and not quite so very energetic any more.

This is to be the last kitchen update.

Meanwhile, spring is coming, slowly but surely, and I'll soon be back on the ladder painting the exterior. The year is advancing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


This house -- or maybe its occupants -- attracts stray cats. We've had four 0r five in the last couple of years, including our beloved, dearly departed Maud. Maud appeared in our garage about the time we moved in. Almost immediately adopted and deeply loved, poor little Maud died of a congenital heart defect before her first birthday. Then this past October came Petula Margot, AKA Pete.

Pete was another tiny stray kitten, hit by a car on nearby Market St. She was badly injured but saved from certain death by a kind-hearted cat lover who was unable to keep her. We were suckered in immediately. Little Pete had lost the use of one front leg in the accident and ultimately it had to be amputated. This doesn't stop her from getting around and into everything. She roars up and down the 42 stair-steps -- basement to third floor -- with great speed, if lacking a certain grace. She had an absolutely terrific time over the weekend shredding a roll of wallpaper, something you might not expect a three-legged cat to do, but she did it very well.

This allowed to me put off wallpapering the front hall, yet again.

Excuses, excuses.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wow, but I've been bad

Work on the house continues. Why no posts? It's a circular problem. I want to post some new photos. We don't have a digital camera, but think we're going to get one, so I don't post. But then I want to post, we don't have a camera, etc. etc.

Significant progress has occurred in the kitchen. We've replaced the 1997 Kenmore electric range with a Wolf gas cooktop, and added a Electrolux double oven unit. We're also replacing the light-duty Menard's-type cabinets with new ones by Burtch. Our good friend X is acting as kitchen consultant/cabinet coordinator and we're very pleased with the new stuff. One teensy problem: due to the complicated geometry required to get anything into our kitchen, the oven cabinet didn't quite fit. The resolution was very King Solomon-esque: cut the baby in half, which nearly killed X. It worked, we're happy and I thnk our friendship with X is safe. The rest of the cabinets should be here fairly soon.

We also have wallpaper picked out for the entrance hall and staircase, a good winter project, and there are a bunch of cabinets in the pantry sanded and ready for their shellac. Are these two happening? No. But I do think about them frequently.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I give up, mostly. Kind of..

Exterior painting has been going slowly, to be positive about it. As we head into fall (or into winter; it snowed the other night) I have less and less time available during the day, much less the short evenings, to scrape, sand, wash, caulk, and eventually, paint. So after some searching we hired a painter. I wish we'd done this a long time ago. The painter, Peter, has made great progress scraping the east dormer, and now the north gable and tomorrow's weather will be warm enough to allow paint application. I can hardly wait. The siding is being repainted a gold, which is close to the original color, and the window trim & crown moldings are a burgundy. The sashes are going back to their original black. Where it's done already it looks terrific. I've been surprised at how good the siding is, even on the spots which get the most water, such as where the front porch roof ties into the siding. Despite not having a trace of paint in such spots, the wood is still OK overall. It's amazing to consider the quality of the wood: 104 years old and abused by weather for many years and still in decent condition.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Free time?

I really worked my butt off today. Up early for a run with Tank, then a fast scan of the NY Times and the Gazette. Up on the scaffolding by 10 AM, following a wasted trip to Lowe's looking for 4" cove molding to replace that which was lost in a reroofing a few years back. Got the second coat of paint on the NE corner of the house, raced inside to do laundry and vacuum, back outside to scrape paint, weed the front garden, back to cleaning and more laundry. I'm so pleased at the new paint. The new color is a gold, very close to the original color. Scraping archeology unearthed a layer of blue, a grey, and lots of white in addition to the gold.

MK got home from church and coffee with a friend about 1, and helped me dismantle the scaffolding from the north side and haul it onto the porch roof so I can reach the third floor dormer. He doesn't do heights, so the upper stuff is my turf. This is OK, since I'm just a little on the OCD side when it comes to surface prep. anyway: scrape, sand, scrape some more, sand, wash, renail siding, caulk, then paint... It's a process.

Then I made dinner and collapsed on the sofa, but only to read up for the city council meetings tomorrow and Tuesday. I feel very tired, and maybe a little virtuous. But I love getting this old house in better shape, even if the progress is minute. This week we look forward to more electrical work, and a visit from the plumber: the drain from the basement utility sink is leaking a small river across the floor.