Home Improvements 1

This is our kitchen in daylight.

This is our kitchen in daylight. Look closely at the workbench.

Some have wondered about our new old house so I thought I’d post a couple pictures.

First our kitchen. Notice the wonderful island! It used to be called a workbench. When we got the house they were going to put in an ugly a**ed stainless steel table which seemed more suitable for autopsies. Meg and I said no thanks, and used the money for other things. But we still needed a table, and as we were thinking about where things would go when we moved in, Meg suggested using the Sears Craftsman workbench I had for the island. It had drawers, it had a solid top, and it was about the size we thought we needed from diagrams we’d drawn. Using the workbench would let us see if it was really right. It turns out that it fits just about perfectly for our needs. So now when we have money to build a wooden one, and when we have space to put the Craftsman one somewhere, we’ll  move this one out.

On the left you can see one of our two pantries we have in the house. It was originally for a small stackable washer and drier, but we needed more space, didn’t want to spend the money, and wanted the light, so our old machines went into the basement. By the way, this house is the lightest I’ve ever seen, just an amazing amount of light comes in. On the right is the pink bathroom.

Red Room, Flag, and Dragon

Red Room, Flag, and Dragon

On the right is the study with my father’s old wooden roll top desk and a dragon weathervane we hope to get on top the house someday, perhaps when my rock climbing son comes through town. I originally put it on my “permanent” house in Lincoln, but life is change so when I moved to KC I brought it along. I was born in the year of the dragon, and expect the dragon to rise again. This was the hardest room to paint. The red required five coats which made it so thick it was like a plastic film. When I pulled the masking tape off the paint film pulled away too in some spots. So I’ll be doing touch ups someday in the future.

More pictures soon!

Joining Google Fiberdom

Friday we got the card from Google. Google Fiber is getting ready to deliver their services to KC, the first in the country. What a great city! It will bring us:

  • 1 gigabit upload and download speed
  • Lots and lots of HD channels
  • Nexus 7 tablet (used as the remote and for other things)
  • TV Box
  • Storage Box (for the storage or those shows we miss while away)
  • Network Box
  • 1TB Google Drive

All for $120/mo + taxes and fees.

The interesting thing about this is Google is having a neighborhood race of sorts. To preregister takes $10. Those neighborhoods that met preregistration goals first get installed first. To see where my neighborhood is check out Strawberry Hill Fiberhood here.

Colorizing The House

It’s been a long time without updates to the blog. Moving in was a three truck and three month affair. Two 16′ budget trucks to move the Lincoln house (which is finally sold after 6 months). We had great friends in Lincoln to help us load up and feed us (shout out to Kelly for using his can cooker).

Our Front Porch

Our Front Porch

To move all the stuff that had accumulated at Meg’s apartment required a 24′ truck, along with two or three guys, depending on the time of day. And me. The movers thought I might have a career being a grunt.  It was a compliment but no thanks!

We are finally beginning to feel like we can expect to find something when we wonder where it is. All in all we love the house and mostly like the neighborhood. The worst part is the abandoned church across the street. A couple weeks ago they were making an independent film in there for a few days so maybe I’ll see our house in the movies someday. I’ll have to remember to watch for Kick Ass productions in the theaters.

We’re a five minute walk from Meg’s work and the library so I don’t have to get so many magazines and store so many of my own books! It’s also one minute from I-70 but because of the hills we can’t hear the road noise, only the occasional train or barge whistle (we’re two blocks from the Kansas river and only ¼ mile from where it joins the Missouri river). And we know several of our neighbors already, even being invited to an open house the other day.

Paint Cans In Front of the House

Here are some of the paint cans that have gone into the house.

I’ve painted about 25 gallons. Here’s a picture of some of those gallons. Downstairs we wanted a nice transition as you can see completely through the house from the front window. So the front room is bright red, the dining room is orange, the kitchen yellow, and pink for the bathroom. Upstairs was inspired by pictures of the ocean shore that Meg’s sister Melissa had given us: sky blue, aqua, a sand brown, cobalt blue, and lavender.

So all in all we are settling in!

This Ol’ House and Archeology

Basement Before

Before the paint. Notice the back entrance.

We were given the keys to move a few things into the new house. Those things were the washer, dryer, and stove. But the plug in for the dryer was wrong, and the plug in for the stove was wrong! Whatever. Fifty dollars later and I’ve changed the cords but then found out they wired the dryer connection wrong (with 10/2 instead of 10/3 wire if you want to know).

The future laundry area is in the basement next to the outside entrance. Yup, we have a new internal stairs but they left the older entrance to the basement, the external stairs. This is not a bad thing since it makes it much easier to get things into and out of the basement.

But the curious thing is this one room in the basement looks like it was done in stone and then coated in cement, while the rest of the basement looks like it’s poured concrete. We asked when the house was build and they aren’t sure but the guess is about 100 years ago.

Now we think we have another theory that explains this. Can you guess?

This is the basement after the paint job.

This is the basement after the paint job.

We think this laundry room of stone was a root/storm cellar with it’s typical mid-western outside access door. If you’ve watched The Wizard of Oz you know the drill, rush outside, probably in this case to the back yard, open the storm cellar door and go in before the tornado hits. And store things in it that are better kept cool. This means the previous house was small. When they built the current house they just used the previous cellar and poured a bigger one on the west end.

To improve the looks I’ve painted a waterproof coat on the older basement walls since they were a bit wet. During the process we also had a new dryer vent cut in the side of the house and replaced a joust that had old and obvious termite damage.

Here the kitchen is in the middle of being painted.

Here the kitchen is in the middle of being painted.

Leaving the rest of the basement for a while it was on to the kitchen  and its bathroom. Chosen colors were Whisper Yellow and Demure Pink. I’d love to talk to the people whose job is to pick color names. My old house had color in it but all my adult life was done in muted colors and neutrals. Time for a change by letting the color animal in me come out. Now only about 25 gallons of paint to go!

 

Our Urban Renewal

Front of New Old House

Front of New Old House

A new phase of my life begins.

My wife, Meg, and I are purchasing a new home, part of an urban redevelopment. It’s shown at the right. We both grew up in Nebraska suburbs. Lots of lawns, big trees, and gardens. That’s pretty much how we’ve lived our adult lives. For me that’s been in Lincoln NE, and for Meg in Omaha NE and Cheyenne WY. Meg then got a job in Kansas City, told me she loved her employer, and I needed to get my rear in gear and move to KC too!

Our goal was to not spend another miserable winter apart and finally start living together (thank you Skype for keeping us together). So I started preparing for the move last spring, started applying for jobs in June last year, and moved here at the end of October. It is so very nice to have meals together each night and then sit on a couch to watch TV.

Right now I’m looking out of a 5th floor apartment over downtown KC. It’s been fun here, just  a 10 minute walk to the Power & Light District, a major tourist and entertainment destination in the city. But we longed for more space and something that was ours. Something we could paint in whatever odd colors we wished. Someplace to put our dragon weather vane on top of again.

One of the challenges was the pedestrian issue of cost. The other major issue was the future of energy prices. They are going UP↑ As the economy recovers; as China, India, Brazil, and other nations become bigger consumers, energy costs will rise. So the era of the suburb is going to be ending since it was a product cheap energy. And the populace will return to the cities where those jobs are. I’ve already been witnessing that with young adults such as our children. So how does one get cheap housing that’s close to work to reduce that commute time and driving costs? You redevelop the city.

Back of New Old House

Back of New Old House

Life is a mix of hard work and luck, though hard work seems to attract good luck. So it’s been with us. The University of Nebraska, where I’d worked, was having more and more budget cuts making it uncomfortable. And the housing market in Lincoln has not been good, we  will certainly take a loss on my house there. An inauspicious start to getting to KC. But through being aware and looking for opportunities, and luck, this house became available.

The choice was easy. It costs less to live there and it reduces Meg’s commuting time from an 8 minute drive to a 6 minute walk. In our effort to make our lives simpler, we have the possibility of owning just one vehicle. We can have our own herb garden for the lovely smells we want to make in the kitchen. And hey! I can start making beer again! All the while making an interesting neighborhood better. Life is looking good!