I just got home from a genuinely fun and satisfying evening out in our little town. It’s so great to have options for hanging out with your friends and neighbors in downtown!
I don’t get into town much, but Anita invited me to join her for coffee, so I headed over to the Farmers to Market Coffee Shop for some of their delicious coffee and cozy decor (plus friendly staff and friends to chat with). I’m thrilled we have TWO coffee shops to choose from. It’s getting better here!
Then we took the opportunity to see how the work Railfan is doing on downtown buildings is coming along. The Venue is getting even more beautiful. The mezzanine now has a beautiful wood wall and the floor is so shiny. What great work!
Next we wandered across the street to the old JC Penney building and its neighbors, where my son was painting walls and sealing bricks. It fascinates me to see the bones that were hiding in the former bland county offices.
Next we checked out the Penney building, which I’d seen before, but not cleaned out. Wow. I’d love to live in a loft on the third floor! Being able to look out the windows was a fun surprise. And the old elevator is something that needs to somehow be preserved. Being able to watch these renovations gives me a real sense of the hard work and creativity it takes to achieve a downtown revitalization.
Enough with the old buildings! Anita and I next went over to another building that was vacated when the county offices moved, the former tax office. Now it’s the Cameron Beer Market, with pizza, beer, pool, and so many fun people.
There were opening night glitches, like the credit card machine not working, so we had to pay cash. I never have cash. Still, we had fun conversation with so many folks we know, plus I got to enjoy Lee, Anita, and Declan talking about music. That’s always interesting.
Dang! Another fun night here, and soon we can do stuff like this all the time. And hey, some of the people were planning to go to another downtown spot, our beloved Central Avenue Bistro, after their beer, so wow, options!
Thanks to everyone who supports local businesses here, including the established ones, so I’m not forgetting Ginno’s Italian and the great Mexican restaurants here. Or further out, Bob’s! There’s stuff to do in our little town.
There always seems to be some house or another than needs to be worked on in our little community. The focus right now is on Anita’s retirement house, Pickle’s Pink Palace. I’ve probably mentioned that a few things have come up, so she isn’t in there yet (she’s in my office, right where I am typing).
The crew (the nephew and his helper, Marcus) have already taken down some walls, made some openings, and come to the conclusion that the whole place needs rewiring and insulation on the outer walls (there is NO insulation).
But the place actually looks a lot better already, thanks to painting the walls a neutral color and removing the old cabinets and scary appliances (the stove is not scary, just dusty, and the fridge holds beverages for the crew). The biggest eyesore, a heater that took up the best wall in the living room, is also gone. The hole it left is much more attractive.
An electrician and a spray-foam technician have already been scheduled, so that will be taken care of soon and the walls can go back up.
Then will come more painting, flooring, cabinets, and the all-important HVAC installation. And oh yes, new windows and roof.
Much landscape cleanup has been accomplished, but there are a lot of nandina plants and other nuisances to get rid of. I hope we can save some of this beautiful little “weed,” though.
There are a few very large, very old trees that were planted when the house was built in 1955. They are in their old age, but we hope to pamper them a few more years. The oak and pecans make Anita look even tinier!
We’re all extremely excited to get this house livable. We know it has a good vibe from back when we bought it. Anita is going to make it so true to its lineage, and so livable as well.
Today I toddled off to the Pope Residence to see how I could help Chris. I knew I had to paint another coat on the second floor porch door and use paint thinner to get the rest of the paint off the stained glass over the front door.
I got the door done but really didn’t feel like scraping yet, so I finished my project of creating a little anteroom out of the former scary upstairs kitchen.
It was fun. I ripped the remnants of the extra-flimsy sheet vinyl from the floor and finally got all the broken glass and other odd detritus off the floor. It made getting to the porch dangerous.
Next, I “cleaned” the pink Formica counters. They are marginally less filthy. I sprayed some Windex on the old sink in there and it got a lot cleaner! I think we can actually re-use it!
I looked down. There was my can of paint. I proceeded to do perhaps the worst paint job any cabinets have ever received. No prep work, no taping things off, nope. I just slapped paint on them. You could say it’s cheerful.
You could also say it’s ugly, but I put a bench and folding chair in there (to store our cushions during rain), and added a fine mirror and wall decor thing. The final touch is two puppy chia pets that I’m lucky Lee didn’t throw away when he was disposing of some stuff yesterday.
Well. I was more successful with my paint scraping I did after lunch. And Chris is putting in floor trim.
I don’t think they’ll turn me loose with red paint and no set agenda again! I don’t blame them!
I saw a little blurb in This Old House magazine, saying this new book is a “must-read” for anyone restoring an old house. Why, I’m renovating an old house, which is close. So, I ordered two copies, one for me and one for Kathleen, of Restoring Your Historic House: The Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners, by Scott Hanson (2019). At 720 pages, it has a good chance of being comprehensive, anyway!
This post will have two parts, one in which I review the book, and the other in which I talk about the choices we have made on the Pope house that do or don’t follow Hanson’s recommendations.
As you may know, we Hermits are doing our best to isolate ourselves just with the folks at the Hermits’ Rest property. We’re lucky we all work for Hearts Homes and Hands in some way (except Lee’s brother, who has taken on mowing our property and hanging out with Vlassic as his life’s mission), so work isn’t a problem. And our renovation of the Pope Residence is right across the street from our office. Oh boy, I get to walk across the street!
I’ve shared a few photos in other blog posts recently, but today I thought I’d share where we are now. We’re all pitching in, so things are progressing, even though we miss our other helpers.
We’re finished with most of the window trim (except the front room). We decided to put shelving back on the window between my office and the entry hall, with some opaque glass behind it. I’ll put my glass collection on those, and it should be really pretty.
One of the big projects right now is putting up the trim around the ceiling on the rooms whose ceilings aren’t getting painted. There is plain wood trim, with crown molding on top if it. I’d say it looks pretty spiffy. All the trim in the house is the same shade of creamy white, which looks great against the brick and really brightens the place up. It almost doesn’t feel like the same house.
The trim is a challenge, because of course the walls aren’t 100% square. That gives Easton and Chris a lot of fun calculating and trimming. But, it’s moving right along, and they’re on the second room.
I got a few requests for more pictures of the Ross house in Cameron, which we are hoping to close on ASAP. It will be perfect for Chris, Kathleen and their family while they are here building a business, building a family, and whatnot. Then it will be available for our next project. Win!
Today I’ll share some pictures of rooms we didn’t look at yesterday, as well as a bit of the property around the house. I believe that if you click on an image, you’ll be able to see it bigger.
The attic really was the best part of the house, for me. Here are some more of the photos and documents we found. If any of these are images or items about your ancestors, we’ll give them to you once we take possession!
And finally, I wanted to show you how large the lot is. It goes all the way to the road past the large tree in the distance here.
You know how hard it is for me to not share when something exciting happens. I’ve had to wait a couple of weeks for this one, and it’s been killing me. Good news is needed these days, and we have some! Let me tell you a story (which I will share on another blog, too, but that’s okay).
Once upon a time, last month, Kathleen was taking a back way from the grocery store to the office. She passed by a house with a For Sale by Owner sign on it. Kathleen thought it was really beautiful and reminded her of her grandmother’s house. She kept driving by it, but didn’t mention it to me or Lee, since we are so busy with the Pope Residence project. She did call the seller and got information on it, but never went farther than that.
It kept tempting her, though. So, finally she broke down and told us about it, the week before we were scheduled to leave on our vacation. She scheduled a viewing, but could only get it for the day we were supposed to leave, because the current owner lives out of town. We debated whether to put off the trip or not, but I really did want to see my family…
We were pretty excited by her description of this large 1885 house on over 1.5 acres that had been partially renovated, so we decided to drive over there and at least look at the outside.
I hadn’t planned to do another renovation update, but then I got all excited. The office chairs that Chris and Kathleen got me for my birthday arrived, and of course I had to put the one I could find together and test-sit it.
The color came out a little darker than we’d thought, but the red and orange will still be perfect in my new office. It certainly looks fancy in my old office!
A lot got done yesterday, so I’m going to share even though I just posted pictures yesterday. For one, all the drywall is now up, including along the future “break room” wall.
The stairs are all covered up, and the old flooring removed in the new landing. This is unrecognizable as the same house!
The brickwork is moving forward. It’s now getting dusted and cleaned, and two of the rooms are now blocked off in preparation for sealing.
Yep, it’s getting real. Shoot, we’re so close to being done that we ought to start on a new project, right?
When all your workers live at or near your house, you can keep your renovation going! While Lee and I were on vacation, Chris, Easton, and Randy kept up the work at the Pope Residence. They concentrated on the back stairway area. and it was easy to see that a lot got done.
Almost all the drywall is up, and the second set of stairs got completed. You can now get to the second floor from the inside, if you are so inclined (which few of us are; it’s a mess).
They’re still working on the floor of the upstairs landing area, but what a great surprise it was to find out that they managed to make the area a bit larger. For one thing, since the first course of stairs was taller, there are fewer steps on the second course, so it ends farther from the door. That will give us a little sitting area/balcony kind of deal up there.
A new little window was installed in the stairwell, too. That has made the back part of the house much lighter and brighter. Plus, the windows that were already there now allow light to go all the way down to the first floor.
Chris decided to put greenboard on all the bathroom walls, to add a bit of sound protection. Some of the walls will be covered with metal, which we are guessing may conduct sound.
Preparation for Flooring
There is a lot of wood waiting to be used. There’s some nice wood that will serve as a stabilizing influence and go under the luxury vinyl tile in the downstairs rooms that don’t have tile or original wood.
And Easton did a great job of getting rid of the bad wood in the main “parlor” room and replacing it with wood from Lee’s office. That’s gonna look so great when it gets cleaned up!
The rest of the wood is all the trim. There is a LOT of trim. It will match what was originally there.
Meanwhile, Randy worked on brick. The area in my office with the window into the hallway got bricked up to the height of the wainscoting in the entry hall. And the place in Kathleen’s office that had crumbled now has nice, healthy brick.
Chris says they are going to clean the brick really well, then put on a sealant that will really make the walls look spiffy. Argh, so exciting.
We’re going to keep you updated, of course (and post this info in a couple of other places). It’s fun to see a plan coming together.
The word of the day in UU Lent is imagination. Great, I thought, I already wrote a lot about this in my post about mind blindedness. I’m going to repeat a section from that post at the end of this one, because it explains a lot about my childhood and development.
My imagination has been my constant companion, sanity saver, and comfort zone my whole life. It’s almost as if I’ve lived in two worlds, the one I physically walk around in and the one in my imagination and dreams. Guess which one I prefer (even the weirdest of my weird dreams are at least fascinating!)?
Cautions – Too Much Imagination Can Be Damaging to Your Health
While using one’s imagination for temporary escapes from either too much stress or too little going on can be a good thing, I’ve sure seen a lot of times where too much imagination (or maybe it’s more like conjecture) can have some unpleasant consequences.
I used to have someone very close to me who had an issue with paranoia. He would experience something, and then use his vivid imagination to come up with consequences, motivations of others, and their effect on him. I can remember a two-hour conversation about how a higher-up didn’t say hello to him, which meant his entire career was in jeopardy, she had something against him…blah blah. I just kept repeating, “Maybe she was just thinking about her own shit.” I wasted many hours and much energy on this.
I didn’t hear from this guy for 20 years, so when Facebook showed up, we re-connected. He immediately launched into how his current employers were out to get him. I did not engage.
Or course, I’ve dealt with this kind of thing myself from time to time. Mostly it’s when someone suddenly drops out of my life, which happens to me periodically. I’ve spent way to much of my energy imagining possible things I said or did to offend people, or things that might have been going on with them that could have led to it.
Has any of that helped the situation even one little bit? Well, maybe, if I would have stuck to the imaginary scenarios where I’m a totally innocent victim of some huge misunderstanding and I’m better off without the person I formerly cared deeply about. But, no, I’ve spent way too much of my energy and time imagining less pro-Suna scenarios.
What’s helped is that I’ve been training myself to live with ambiguity. I’d rather have that than to find out the paranoid truth. I think I’d rather have not known why Edie and Leigh (two young women who lived with our family when they were having problems) both suddenly went off on me and told me everything I did was for selfish reasons, they’d never loved me, and they’d hated being in my family temporarily. Like my old friend, they were twisted in knots with things they came up with in their heads, and it made me sad. But in both cases, I just listened, knowing my actual motivations and that I loved them anyway. They weren’t interested in my perspective; they must have needed to make a break for their own reasons. I just moved on.
I hate dredging it all up, but I wanted to share how painful over-imagining things can be to others. I don’t want to do it.
So now, I’m okay not knowing what other people’s imaginations have interpreted my actions and motives to be. Everyone has their own perspective, and if anyone wants to talk to me about it, I’ll listen, but I won’t endure abuse. I’ll move on. And I am consciously refraining from imagining why others might be thinking or doing what they do. It’s not helpful to me, and I end up much more mentally healthy and with lots more time for all the things I enjoy.
From now going forward, I’m using my imagination to design dream homes, take mental trips to interesting places, conjure up a nation and world where differences are celebrated, and remember my departed loved ones.
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
My Imagination and Me, from February 11
In case you were wondering about me, I’m one of the 2% on the extremely vivid mental imagery side. I’ve always been that way, so I never knew any different. My mom said as a toddler, I was always wandering around talking to a tree. When she asked why, I said I was talking to Jose, who lived up there. Where this little Anglo girl got that name is beyond me. So, either I was seeing fairies, or I had a vivid imagination. It’s all the same to me.
I had an imaginary gang of cartoon characters that went with me everywhere, too. My parents loved to tell the story of the time Mom shut the car door on Theodore of the singing chipmunks. I apparently didn’t take it well. I was also a Highly Sensitive Person, ha ha.
My whole life I played stories in my head. It helped pass the time, since I was not the most popular child, and certainly not the most popular during the early teen years! I had an entire life I lived during the time between going to bed and actually falling asleep. In this soap opera, I was strong, smart, and always said the right thing. What a nice world. I also had very cute boyfriends, especially the one from the comic books who was the smartest guy in the universe, and also green.
This internal life was very vivid and had touch and smell, as well as visual aspects. I now fall asleep without my “dreams,” for the most part. I think it lessened so dramatically when I started anti-anxiety medication. I will gladly exchange that loss for my mental clarity and ability to handle things more calmly.
I still can enjoy a little mental vacation by imagining things, like what’s going on in the towns I drive through, or what animals and plants may be perceiving. I find that fun. No wonder I’m not bored easily (if ever).
Is your imagination your friend or your enemy? Are you imaginative? Where do you go in your imagination?