Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Women in My Life

There are lots of things that make us who we are.

There are two women who are my namesakes. 

My Grandmother Katherine, who built the house that I'm remodeling, was my Dad's mother.

People have told me that I look like her and I would probably agree.

My Gram, Mary Ann, was my Mom's mother.

Today is her birthday.  She would have been 98.

I would like to be able to say I get my attitude from her.

Which would be awesome, because looks are nice,


Attitude is everything.



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pardon me while I reminisce

What is home? 
Is it where you grew up?
Is it where you spend your holidays?
Is it where your heart goes when you long for days gone by?

I've had lots of homes, I guess. 

There was the duplex where my parents lived when they were first married.  I lived there too, until my brother was born and we needed more space.  The other half of the duplex was also my Dad's dental office.  I kind of grew up there too.  That's probably why I've never been afraid of the dentist.  Why should I be?  How can you be scared of someone who lets you use their dental tools on your inflatable Mickey Mouse?

Then there's the house where we moved when I was two.  I got to pick out my own carpet and wallpaper for my bedroom.  When I was TWO.  The carpet was pink shag and the wallpaper was Mickey Mouse.  (I see a theme here.) 

My Gram and Granddad's house is where I always wanted to spend the night on weekends.  My great-grandparents lived with them too, when I was younger.  I don't know if I realized how lucky I was at the time.  That house is gone now, the victim of city "progress".  I have a few bricks, a knob off of a kitchen cabinet and some peonies that grew out by the fence.  And more memories than I could begin to count.

The first house of my own was where my son grew up.  I have "first day of school" photos of him in front of the mantle from Kindergarten all the way through senior year of high school.  I cried when I put the "for sale" sign in the front yard.  I cried because I would miss the Pin Oak that we hauled to the back yard in the little red wagon 15 years before.  And the tic-tac-toe board that some little person drew on the wall in the laundry room. 

The house I live in now was built when I was in high school.  We've been here for almost six years now.  Although its become our home, I've realized some things lately.  My Dad and Granddad never saw this house.  I've wondered what they would think about it.  My Gram and Uncle LeRoy are gone now too.  Its ironic.  I finally have my house with the big kitchen and the formal dining room.  A place to host family dinners.  And now I don't need a place this big to do it.  Because everyone in the family can sit at one table for eight.

And this little house that I'm remodeling? 
The reason I started this blog? 
I never lived in that house. 
I never even spent the night there. 

There are a lot of people that wonder why I'm so enamored by it. 
Why do I love it so? 
It wasn't a place where I spent endless weekends, but I do have memories there too. 

The deep freeze in the kitchen is where my Grandmother Katherine kept the butter brickle ice cream.  It's still my favorite.  The wallpaper in the breakfast room has cardinals on it and Uncle LeRoy would make them "sing" when we would sit and eat in there.  The toys we played with were still in the front closet.  A napkin from my wedding was in the dining room buffet. 

I've had moments in that little house when I've found something in a closet or a drawer and I become my six-year-old self again.  The me that still had too much family to fit at just one table.

Now I have the chance to make this old house into a home again. 
A place where more memories can be made. 
New traditions can be established. 
And a new branch of our family tree can grow. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

They're heeeeere!

It's been a long wait, but they're finally here.

The cabinets.

Pretty.  Shiny.  White.  New. 

Wrapped up.  In Boxes.

Wait.  What? 

That means work.  And lots of it.

I think I forgot to order the option that included the elf that installs them for you.

Its already been a lot of work to get from this

to this

It's going to be a long weekend to get from this

to this

I think it will be worth it though.

I'll let you know if we survive.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Brilliant Second Act

So much stuff to go through.

Some junk.  Some treasures.  And memories galore.

How do you take a lifetime of things and potentially toss them aside?

There are things in this house that make me cry to think that they might go in the trash.  Mostly personal items that make me remeber the people who used them.  The clothes were too old or out of style to be donated to Good Will. 

No one wants to buy a dress from the 60's or before. 
Men don't wear hats these days.

So when I sent a message to a friend and heard that her theatre students would use these items and that "they would be loved", it made my heart warm.

There are beautfully tailored dresses with lace and fancy buttons.  Handbags that my grandmother carried.  A couple of pairs of her shoes.  Men's hats from Henry's department store with my uncle's initials inside.

They'll get to shine again.  On stage.  Maybe on film. 

They'll get a chance at a Second Act at The Independent School. 


Thursday, October 4, 2012


Doors are such a simple thing. 
We take them for granted. 
Until they don't work right. 
Or at all.

This was the sad state of affairs once upon a time in this charming little bungalow.


We had two doors to the back yard.  Neither in good shape.  One permanently screwed shut because it would no longer latch or lock properly.  The other worked.  Barely.  It would open and close with a little "encouragement".  The lock wasn't anything to brag about.  Just about anyone could have taken those doors down with a kick or a good solid shoulder.

I had them replaced for security purposes a while back, but they still didn't work quite right.  They weren't plumb.  The framing wasn't rebuilt the way it should have been.  One would lock if you used the dead bolt, but the latch on the knob would never quite catch.  Even so, it was a HUGE improvement over what we had.  In function and certainly in security.

Last weeked we fixed all that.

We took out both doors, added framing to make them more secure.  Worked meticulously to ensure that they were both level and plumb - with the house and each other.  We also took out the framing around another doorway that sits perpendicular between these two and separates the starwell from the back hallway, which has helped open up very this small space.

Here's the progress:

Now they work like they should.  They lock properly. 
A little primer and paint and they'll be good as new!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My construction background

I learned about hammers and saws and all sorts of tools from a wonderful man that I called Granddad.

His given name was Robert, but everybody else called him Bob.

He let me play in his basement workshop when I was a little girl and in the process I learned how to use his tools.  The band saw.  The drill press.  You name it, he let me try it.  Within reason.

When I was in high school and working in the Music Theatre of Wichita scene shop one summer, I complained to him that I could never lay a hammer down that someone else wouldn't pick it up and walk off with it.  He fixed my problem by making me this...

My hammer never disappeared again. 

He taught me that girls could use tools.  And fix things.  And be handy around the house.

Today would have been his 93rd birthday. 

I miss him. 

But I still use a lot of the gifts that he gave me. 

Including the hammer.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Little Drain Surgery

Cast iron.  Lead.  Galvanized.  =  BAD and OLD and BROKEN

Copper.  PVC  =  GOOD and SHINY and NEW

Thats what I have now. 
A house full of new plumbing. 
I'm seeing progress and it's a good thing. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The history before the house.

In the real estate business, we see title insurance policies every day.

Webster's defines title insurance as "insurance against loss due to an unknown defect in a title or interest in real estate."

What we don't see every day are Abstracts of Title.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Digging for buried treasure

To say I've done lots of cleaning in this house would be an understatement.

My grandmother moved in here in 1937.  My uncle lived here after she died.  In 75 years, no one has ever moved out.  EVER. 

Let's just say my family is good at collecting stuff and leave it at that.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

So, probably the biggest project in this place is going to be the kitchen.  That should be no surprise, I guess.  It usually is the most expensive and most time consuming of all the household remodels.

Here, however, I have some special issues.  Before I can start fixing, I have to clear things out.  And I have a lot to clear out. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

There's no place like home...

Home is important.  Maybe that's what has drawn me to my career. 
I sell houses.  No, I sell homes.

There are a lot of things that make us into the people we are today.  One of them is home.  The home we grew up in.  The home where our grandparents lived.  The homes of family members we saw on summer vacations.  Homes where we were around family and friends and where we created memories that last a lifetime.

This is the story of a little bungalow built in 1937.  My grandmother bought it when she moved to the city from the farm.  My dad and uncles lived here when they were boys.  My Uncle Leroy lived here as an adult.

He called me in 2008 asking if I could help him find a painter and, of course, I said yes.  I hadn't been in the house since 1981 when my Grandmother Katherine died.  I was eleven then.  It had been 27 years.  I wondered if it would be the same.  A lot of things had changed for sure, but bascally - it was. 

And that was when I fell in love with a little house in Riverside.  I remembered it from when I was a little girl.  And started dreaming of what it could it could be again.