Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Graveling Won't Get You Anywhere

Everyone has their own preferred method of relieving stress after a long hard day of work. Some people go for a jog while others pop open a beer.

Me? ....I like to rake the driveway.

I know, I know, that doesn't sound remotely interesting to anyone. It doesn't even seem interesting to me when I talk about it. You see, we were blessed with one of the World's Longest Driveways. The first 100 feet or so are asphalt (hate it) and shared with the vacant house next door. The last 100 feet are gravel (hate that too). The gravel wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so damn large, sharp, and nearly white (like that albino guy in The Da Vinci Code).

One day after a 14 hours of staring at a computer screen full of numbers (a typical day on the job), I decided that it was time to get rid of the gravel....the hard way. I raked the driveway for about 45 minutes and managed to clear about 3 wheelbarrows full of gravel. Strangely enough, it was relaxing to me. I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

Sadly, it rained pretty hard that night, which exposed even more gravel buried beneath the section that I had just raked.

Now I rake about once every other day. You know, I'm not exactly sure what I plan to do once I finish. I'd think about that, but it would probably stress me out too much.

Then I'd have to come up with something else to relieve that stress...like tearing off aluminum siding.

Monday, May 22, 2006

One Thing Leads to Another....and Another....and Oh Dear God, Please Make it Stop!

A few weeks ago, Emily was down in the basement doing laundry when she noticed a random wet spot in the middle of the floor. When she looked up, she saw water dripping from the ceiling. After a little investigating, we realized that the dishwasher had been slowly leaking and seeping through the kitchen floor. I'm not sure how long the leak had been there, but it was safe to say that it had been that way for more than a few days...maybe a few years.

Well now we had a dilemma. Fix or replace? All of the appliances in the kitchen came with the house when we bought it. As close as I could tell, the appliances were all from the Reagan-era...the first term. Our dishwasher had already failed us once, and rarely produced what I would call "clean" dishes.

The leak seemed to be coming from somewhere near the motor, so my vote was to replace. Emily agreed. Of course this discussion then led to..."Well what if we just bought all new appliances?" (I admit, I was the one who uttered those famous words.)

It made sense. These days, some of the package deals that you get on appliances make it very tempting to buy everything at once. We searched several stores but eventually found what we wanted at Sears. Although it wasn't until my second trip to Sears that I finally was convinced to buy from them. On my first trip, the appliance salesman chose to spend more time helping a guy pick out the right vacuum cleaner bags than answer my questions about the $1200 fridge I was looking at. Don't they work on commission? That must be one heck of a commission on an $8 bag of vacuum cleaner bags.

Anyway, on our second trip, the salesperson actually recommended that we come back at the end of the month when they had a bigger sale. Buy 3 appliances over $399 and get 20% off all three. That was enough incentive for me. We picked out 3 while we were there and then went home to wait patiently. On the way, we stopped to stock up on paper plates and plastic cups.

Two weeks later, on the last day of the sale, we forked out the money and bought the appliances. A $100 dishwasher repair had just turned into $3000 worth of new Kenmore stainless steel appliances.

Touché Stickley Bungalow. Touché indeed.

To be continued....

Bonus...Here's a photo of Old Smokey just before he made his first 2006 trip to the landfill. Note the dishwasher.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

What are the odds....

If you've had a chance to check out the latest edition of American Bungalow, you'll notice that there is an article about a Gustav Stickley designed Craftsman House located in a little historic neighborhood called "Irvington". Sound familiar?

No, strangely enough, it's not our house. It's the Lewis T. Gilliland House.

Given that they have only identified less than 100 true Stickley Craftsman homes that exist in the country, I find it very strange that there are two located in neighborhoods called Irvington. The Gilliland is located in the Historic Irvington neighborhood of Portland, Oregon and ours in the Historic Irvington neighborhood of Indianapolis.

That, my friends, is a creepy coincidence.

If you happen to live in the Portland, OR area, be sure to check out Irvington's home tour this weekend as I'm sure the newly restored Gilliland house will be a sight to see.

Needless to say, I'm jealous that ours still has a long way to go.

Winning the War on Boredom.

Okay, so we've been out of the loop for awhile but in our defense, we've had a flurry of recent activity that has kept us from having much time to do anything. Here's a preview of what's been keeping us busy lately and what you can expect in future posts:

1. Photos. I'm scanning in photos of the house from when we bought it so you can see how little we've actually done in 3 years. Fantastic!

2. Hail damage. Because of some recent hail damage, the roof and the aluminum siding will need to be replaced. We hate them both so we couldn't be happier. We're taking the siding off for good and then replacing the roof. Oh good God that is going to be a big job......Buckle up.

3. Kitchen repair. Our kitchen, by far, the ugliest room in the house, is getting a makeover. The new appliances have arrived and we're working on getting the electrical work estimates. I'm not looking forward to pulling up 7 layers of flooring.

And the house next to us is vacant again so if anyone wants to be our neighbors, just let me know. This house has been foreclosed on twice in three years. I don't know if its cursed or if its just the neighbors....Oh wait, that's us.

Speaking of neighbors, our new neighbors to the south just painted their house. Oddly, they chose the same green color as our siding. It's a definite improvement over what was there before, but now it makes me feel like I live in the burbs where the houses are all the same color.

So in addition to the work on the house, which takes up about 10% of my time, the other 90% has been spent on making neighborhood improvements, trying to move my mother to Indianapolis, help my brother find a job, spring lawn maintenance, and of course, my day job.