Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More house history

The kiddo and I spent a few hours at the library on Saturday looking through the old city directories and deed indices on a creaky, lop-sided microfilm machine. We got a little bit of new information, perhaps-- I'll need to go to the courthouse and look at the actual deeds to confirm.

I believe we left off where I had read the book about our neighborhood; the author listed TH Brannan as the first resident listed in the directory at our address in 1922. Here's where we deviate. The deed index only lists grantor, grantee, date, and which book the deed is in-- it doesn't identify the actual property, not to mention it's handwritten and not really in alphabetical order. I looked up Mr. Brannon, but couldn't find anything where the dates coincided. I did, however, find a Gertrude Brannon with appropriate dates. Hold that thought...

In going through the city directory, we found a lot of cool stuff, including advertisements for the Goldman Hotel, European rooms, with rates from $1!

Postcards from the Fort Smith Historical Society's website. The link there is to an article about the hotel. In 1985, my father was on the crew that was looking to restore the hotel, so I did get to run around the inside a fair bit; it had been mostly gutted by the time they were involved, I think, but was still a cool, monster of a structure. You just knew it had been grand.

We also confirmed something we'd seen in the neighborhood history. In the 1921 directory, there's a resident, W.D. Baker, at a mystery address between ours and our neighbors. There's not an empty lot between us, and that address only appears that one year-- never before or since. I had assumed that this was a garage apartment or something, but I decided to dig a little since I had the index right in front of me.

Follow me here: Mr. Baker is listed as a grantee in February of 1921. He bought the property from H.P. Lyman, et al. Lyman owned a very active real estate agency, and the Lyman, et al, name as a grantor shows up a lot around this time period. My assumption here is that Lyman was a realtor and developer. So now I went to see where Mr. Baker is listed as the grantor, to see when he sold the property that he bought from Lyman. There's a listing showing William Dudley Baker selling a property to Gertrude Brannan in December 1921. See what I just did there? The person who lived at the ghost address (one number over from ours) sold a property to a woman with the same last name as the first resident in our house at the same time that our first resident appears.

My current assumption is that the address was a typo in the city directory, or the neighborhood was rezoned; there was a huge amount of development going on at this time in an area that had been in the country until now. It wouldn't surprise me if the neighborhood itself was still being sussed out.

So. Looks like the house was built in late 1920. By a developer. I'll make a trip to the courthouse to look at the actual records at some point in the future; unfortunately, the research librarian tells me that the courthouse only has 2 microfilm machines and the place is currently crawling with oil and gas speculators. Sometimes you have to wait hours.

So the oilmen screw me every morning and evening when I drive to work and back; now they're gonna screw me in a whole different way.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Real work!

We actually made a little progress this weekend. Saturday brought the usual catch-up of cleaning, laundry, etc. But on Sunday, we drove over to Harbor Freight, armed with the 15% off coupon we got through One Project Closer and found the pneumatic stapler that we needed-- a 2-in-1 18 ga stapler/nailer for $29. We got to the counter, where the girl thought our coupon was a fake; it wasn't. Apparently there had been a rash of counterfeit HF coupons. Anyway, she scanned the coupon and gave us the grand total of... $18. Not only was the coupon awesome, the stapler was on sale for $19.99. Perfect. And it did the job splendidly. AND it was fun to use.

Then we went to Home Depot to get fake beadboard for the porch ceiling. Unfortunately, they hadn't restocked in the last 6 weeks, so there wasn't enough of the lightweight stuff; the MDF is just too heavy for the ceiling; the cheapo panels are made of composite fiber, so not exactly water-resistant; and the real wood is too expensive. We ended up with water-resistant ultra thin luaun.

And then we discovered that the panels didn't exactly fit into the vehicle we brought. So we went through an exceptionally long fiasco of buying straps and tying it to the roof.

After quite a bit of futzing and fussing and trimming and false starts, we got the plywood up. A little recap: here's how it looked right around move-in:

And here's after we replaced the plywood; you can see that the seams are pretty uneven.
And now, with the luaun:

There will always be a bit of a bow in the ceiling, but it's a vast improvement. The ceiling beams are not parallel, but run at various angles from house to outer edge, so there's not beams for the seams to run along. What we did was run 3 4-foot panels, plus a another foot off a fourth panel, from one end of the porch, then did the same with the luaun, but starting from the other direction. In other words, this means that the luaun seams were staggered in the middle of the plydoow underneath. Does that even make sense? It's 2 layers of wood, but run from opposite ends.

Anyway, by the time we'd hit this point in the project, it was 6pm and all our energy had been spent on tying the damn stuff to the car.

We called it done. We'll add crown next week and I can caulk and then paint everything white; the consistency of color should mask the undulations.

And then...

We screen.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Local advice

This is not house related, though I suppose it could be...

I'm going to Boston for a long weekend in the very near future. We won't be able to do alot of walking (one of us doesn't get around particularly well sometimes), but we will have a car, and a friend who lives in the area.

Even though we have a city resident and I think all of us on this trip have been at least once before, I thought I'd solicit any good recommendations-- restaurants, shops, pin bowling alleys, bakeries, architectural salvage, flea markets, antiques. Great tourist sights, even. Whatever's on your DO NOT MISS list when you visit Boston, or if you live there, what do call a must do/eat/see?

Bring it on!

Wino Friday

...and a little kitty eye candy to start with.

So. The wine. In the summertime, I want beer or white wine (no, not pink wine. white wine.). I'm off beer right now, but it's been rainy and dreary and mild enough lately that I'm moving along to the red stuff. A nice glass on the porch is hard to beat.

Yesterday, I was killing some time in Target and came across this hanging wine rack:

It was only $6 on one of the endcap clearance racks, so I'm giving it a try. There's a third wire piece that you can attach, so it'll hold up to 6 bottles. Do I like it? I don't know. Six bottles hang a little low, but the top bottles are a little hard to reach. I'll try it out. The hooks were already in the ceiling, so no extra effort required. However, I'll want to make sure that they're tied into ceiling beams and not just sheetrock; those bottles carry a lot of weight!

More high hopes for weekend advancement-- and yet more forecast of rain. Sigh. We need it. The dogwood needs it. The grass needs it. The long ass list of shit that needs to be done to the outside of my house patently does NOT need it.

And my favorite liquor store appears to be out of business or otherwise closed for some undisclosed reason. Things are not shaping up quite the way I want them. Oh well. There's always unpacking!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lucky duck

At least, I feel like a duck. We got all that rain on Thursday that cooled things off, but brought out the mosquitoes-- apparently my choice is 75º weather with mosquitoes, or 105º weather without. Can't have both. Then Saturday was looking clear and bright when the dog started freaking out. That usually means more rain. And not just rain. Storms. From Saturday evening through last night, we had nonstop rain, with a lot of thunder and lightning thrown in for good measure. It really battered all the plants.

So that's the duck part-- and the lucky part? Bit of a long story, so here goes...

I mentioned a while back that our neighborhood was finally named to the National Register of Historic Places. It's very exciting! I looked on the state's and the National Park Service's websites to make sure we weren't going to need special permission to make exterior changes. No permission needed, so I went on my merry way continuing to chose colors and whatnot.

And then it occurred to me that I hadn't checked city guidelines. We have one other historic district, and I discovered that it requires residents to make formal requests for any exterior changes, including color schemes. And get this: the commission approves these requests by granting a required "Certificate of Appropriateness." Jeez Louise. More dealing with the city. Shit. Shit shit shit. (Whoops! Language like that won't get me any Appropriateness certification, now will it?)

The thing is, I'm not worried about the historic color correctness of our choice. What I was concerned about was the consequences of the possibility that we may only paint the facade; and I was doubly concerned about the painting of brick, fearing that they'd tell me to strip it, or leave it.

I went back and forth. Do we just paint and claim ignorance? Do we ask and hope that we're approved? Do we do nothing?

I finally sent an anonymous email (I'm a pansy. I know this.) to the city planner. And guess what? National Registry is honorary only; our other district is concerned with preservation. No approval necessary.

Now we can paint and paint to our heart's content without the prying eyes of the city.


Meanwhile, you can probably guess, the rain meant cool weather, but zero exterior work done at all. I unpacked some boxes of clothes with the puppy watching from the bed with a big stupid puppy grin on his face. He couldn't believe his luck, getting to spend all day on the bed.

See? Lucky ducks all around.

Friday, August 8, 2008

And he said, "Stand back, I'm gonna make it rain!"

After something like 10 days of 100º + weather, topping out at a whopping 105, we got a day of 9os and finally-- rain. That's right. RAIN. The dog was so happy-- he was a big muddy mess; I was so happy because it cooled things down considerably. The high today is supposed to be in the 80s and I can't believe it.

Post-summer rain is just so pretty. The drive to work this morning:

I mean, I don't mind the heat; once you pass 100, 102, it all starts to feel the same. But high 80s is my ideal, and Adam is not nearly so fond of this season as I am. I'm hopeful that the cooler temps mean we'll get some outside work done on the porch; like, I don't know, maybe give it a ceiling and some screen, get the porch swing up. Fingers crossed!

Now, while thinking about this post, my brain went on a tangent. I thought of Shel Silverstein's Unicorn Song:

A long time ago, when the Earth was green
There was more kinds of animals than you've ever seen
They'd run around free while the Earth was being born
And the loveliest of all was the unicorn

There was green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
The loveliest of all was the unicorn

The Lord seen some sinning and it gave Him pain
And He says, "Stand back, I'm going to make it rain"
He says, "Hey Noah, I'll tell you what to do
Build me a floating zoo,
and take some of those...

Green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
Don't you forget My unicorns

Old Noah was there to answer the call
He finished up making the ark just as the rain started to fall
He marched the animals two by two
And he called out as they came through
Hey Lord,

I've got green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but Lord, I'm so forlorn
I just can't find no unicorns"

And Noah looked out through the driving rain
Them unicorns were hiding, playing silly games
Kicking and splashing while the rain was falling
Oh, them silly unicorns

There was green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Noah cried, "Close the door because the rain is falling
And we just can't wait for no unicorns"

The ark started moving, it drifted with the tide
The unicorns looked up from the rocks and they cried
And the waters came down and sort of floated them away
That's why you never see unicorns to this very day

You'll see green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
You're never gonna see no unicorns
Then I came across something I bought the other day. The special edition reissue of The Last Unicorn.

I think this movie is how I learned to draw horses. They all had impossibly long legs and lashes. Anyway,

Happy Friday!

**See? Despite their side effects, the antibiotics and subsequent lack of infection have raised my spirits considerably!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Salivary Gland Stones

Really?!? They exist?

That's what the doc thought I had, but no stones could be found. So I'm on a super fun round of penicillin. Yay.

In other news...Enjoying that porch furniture! Heat or no, with or without stones, it's a great place to be.

Just keepin' it house related.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Back to the grind

The weekend is over and I'm sorry to see it go. You already know how I spent most of my day yesterday; add to that mowing the grass and cleaning front and back porches. Once I got the porch set up, you were hard pressed to get me off of it if unless there were tasty things like grilled burgers involved (there were indeed eventually burgers and beers to lure me away; in fact, Adam and his friend had a burger-off. Both were so good, I really couldn't choose a winner). And at cooler times in the day, some other outside lovers relaxed in the shade, too--

The kitty's name is actually Kiara, but my mother's neighbor dubbed her Sneaky when he kept finding her slinking out of his work shed. She and Simon like to lay together-- not too close, mind you, it's hot. In the wintertime, though, they will gladly snuggle up.

And I mentioned that Adam put the French doors back in their rightful location.

If nothing else, they hide the mess behind them.

That and the usual cleaning up and catching up from the rest of the week pretty much covers it. Kids' birthday parties and helping someone else pack up to move took up the rest of the time. Really, though, I can't complain.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Summertime, Southern style

As in, on the front porch. We got our patio furniture put together and arranged on the screen porch in time to have coffee and the Sunday paper out there this morning. Granted, no screen or ceiling fan, yet, but soon enough.

And yes, these were taken with the new wide-angle Nikon. I love it. This is basically on auto, with minor brightness/contrast adjustments. It's picking up some pretty bad hotspots at this setting, but I'm just glad the shots are in focus-- it's a major improvement. It does soooo many things, and I need to learn how to find and use them all. I'm having a great time playing with my new toy.

The first pic shows our new fancy furniture-- from Wal-Mart, of all places. It went down so much in price that I couldn't say no. The second shot shows our tragic little pea green couch that was "destroyed" in the storm; it had previously been "destroyed" by the cats, and "destroyed" by a lot of flopping down on it. But cover it with some old sheets, and it's perfect for this space.

Porch swing also came in--

Once we get it hung up, it's going to be great. Ugh. Note to self. Save down the pictures from 8 Mp before loading into Blogger-- they take forever! The old camera maxed out at 4 Mp, so I'll have to remember to do some adjusting.

We've done some more unpacking and cleaning this weekend, and finally reinstalled the French doors between office and living room. They look great, but I'm not going to post anymore about them right now; I'm actually on the front porch, where it is, no lie, 105º, and any more time on this computer will heat up my lap too far beyond the boiling point.

So more tomorrow. Time now to lay back and enjoy this fragment of a breeze.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A new pair of eyes

Nikon P50 eyes, to be exact. I just got it last night, so I don't have any feelings about it yet except that I really need to a refresher in Photography 101. I remember juuuust enough to get myself in trouble, and it has juuuuust enough options to facilitate that process.

So now, bad photos will no longer be chalked up to the dying Olympus, but rather to the, um, "complexity" of the new Nikon...