Friday, January 1, 2016

2015: Don't Let the Door Hit You in the Ass

2015 was this to me:

  • A shit-storm of emotions, burdens, loneliness, realizations, wake-up calls, growth and change.
  • A finalization to the three-year divorce battle of the roses (insert my last name and his which is not Rose)
  • The year I reached the summit of my life in age (despite feeling at least a decade younger most days).
  • This wonderful time I was able to spend two months on a work-vacation (mostly work) in Puerto Rico.
  • A time when I was unable to complete even one full task on the Broken House (although, I did try!)

So, onward march into a fresh New Year, I say, and here it is upon us! I just feel 2016 is going to a much better one and I made 20 goals to help guide me. And, just to be sure I have all my NY bases covered, I also decided a good word for 2016 is:

Repair (rəˈper)
1. To fix or mend (a thing suffering from damage or a fault).

2. The action of fixing or mending something.

       (Synonyms: Restore to working order, put right, renovate, fix up, overhaul...)
2016 Goals
  1. Pay off a third of my debt. More would be even better. How? See the next goal!
  2. No spend for an entire year (basically beyond very necessary items like pet food, a little perishables, TP, and the proverbial new underwear should they be needed, I will buy nada! I will also make a list of wish/wants/possible needs beyond the aforementioned and try to scrounge, borrow, and, last, buy used before succumbing the siren call of retail). This will also mean being creative in finding free entertainment, ways to save on food, and making gifts.
  3. Organize and purge the email boxes (both work and personal). You have no idea how tedious this one is going to be, but both have had years of neglect.
  4. Organize and purge paperwork. Again, work and home need some serious weeding/landscaping in this area.
  5. Read 25 already owned books and then purge, give-away, sell or whatever. Keep only if absolutely irreplaceable (like a reference book).
  6. Restart blog...Hey! Here I am!
  7. Learn something new. I am hoping I learn to identify mushrooms, but we shall see.
  8. Practice/study Spanish every day. I have Rosetta Stone and bilingual friends to call upon for this goal.
  9. Hike 12 new places.
  10. Build raised garden beds and grow something in them (something other than weeds, preferably).
  11. Rehab rental house and sell. I do not have time for a house 8 hours RT away. I had to hang onto it until the divorce was completed and it is. Bye, bye little cottage!
  12. Visit a new state and/or city.
  13. Organize office. Enough said.
  14. Purge/de-clutter/Konmari-the-hell out of the clothes and shit in this house.
  15. Be an urban forager: relearn edible plant ID, learn mushroom ID, try other urban foraging activities.
  16. Learn photo editing software and organize photos.
  17. Find a kennel for the dogs (I should knock this one out fairly quickly as my pet sitter is no longer a part of our lives and I will need one by end of January).
  18. Finish a house project before starting (non-emergency) one. I want to see progress!
  19. If I should happen to finish the many projects already started, begin this one: Pantry/workshop room.
  20. Do three art projects. I have some ideas, but I am leaving this one open.
  21. Do 6 things on the 101/1001 days list I made over a year ago. I am running out of 1001.

Happy New  Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Dogs like Cookies Too

I am on my own tonight for Christmas Eve for the first time in decades. Last year, I had a boyfriend. The year before that, I had a housemate. Thirteen years before that I was co-habitating or married to my children's father. Before him, I had another boyfriend and lived in my hometown with siblings and parents and on and on. The last time I was alone on December 24th was when I was 25 and living in Tucson, AZ with my dog Isaak (RIP sweet boy). Exactly twenty years later, I am alone again. Well actually, like in AZ, I am not really completely alone now either; I am sharing the holiday with Banksy and Orca, my current two loving and beautiful dogs.

And, this holiday eve is warm and mild which has been a very lovely break from last year's hellish winter. The pups and I took a long walk along the Ohio river, under a bright, blue sky. When we returned home, I wanted to make cookies; however, I haven't much a sweet tooth these days. So, I made dog cookies!

Here is the recipe if you want to make some for your own loving canine. I based it off this one, but changed it to meet my own specifications. For one, I did not add dried milk or salt.

Canine Cookies

2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 cup of oats (quick or regular)
1/2 cup of nutritional yeast (optional but adds nutrients and flavor)
1 bouillon cube (I'm a vegetarian so I used a vegan "pork" flavoring)

Put in mixer bowl and mix together

Add to flour mix

1 cup peanut butter (I only had chunky, but either one is fine)
2 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of water (enough to make a dough)

Mix well. Turn out on parchment paper and lightly dust with flour. Roll and cutout in desired shapes.
Bake at 300 degrees F for 40 minutes (until lightly browned). Let cool (the cookies will quickly harden up). Keep like any other cookies in airtight container.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Before/After Days


It's been over a year since I updated the house/urban living blog o' mine. Since March 2013 (yep!), so much has evolved in my life. I am still living in my wonderful Camelback Shotgun house deep in the urban neighborhood of Portland (Louisville, KY). In fact, I am spending much more time here courtesy of a divorce and a change of job duties. In case I never mentioned it, I previously lived back and forth between here and Northern Indiana due to a job transfer and traveled north every weekend (a story for another time).

The divorce (still pending and still vicious) was petitioned July 2013 almost to the date of my house purchase anniversary (7/12). It's been stressful on my mind, heart and finances to say the least. House renovations basically came to a screeching halt while horrible, greedy lawyers and The Evil Ex sucked away all my savings. My vow to only use cash on the house work had to be adjusted. Sadly.

But, work has commenced and I am actually feeling more in sync with my old house and my new challenging life. I've made beautiful friends, worked in my community by planting trees and gardens, learned to be ultra-frugal and accepted that my life is headed in new and curious ways. I've made great strides even in the wake of a massive war that is divorce. My community involvement, friends and this house have helped me stay above swirling, dark waters. Well, all of those things plus my dogs (new guy joined our motley crew in December).

I hope to pick back up where I left off here. Catch up on all the sorid details. I have lots of photos to share and lots of stories to tell about the neighborhood and house that finally gave me a home. I want to jump back into the adventures of saving the soul of an abandoned house located deep in a transiting urban neighborhood or perhaps this is simply the story of saving the soul of an abandoned girl living deep in a transiting urban life.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cool Idea

I came across this interesting group called Good Garbage based here in Louisville. I found it via another local blog, D.I.Y Louisville. The group serves the community by providing an outlet for artists to find, repurpose and reuse items destined for the landfill. I love it! Obviously, having purchased a boarded up, abandoned house in the "throw-away" part of Louisville, I am very much pro-repurposing! I applaud the group!

I also would love to utilize this group. See, I have this idea and I have no idea if the rest of the neighborhood would stand behind me, but I would love to see it happen. Being so close to a major river, but being cut off by a highway has posed a lot of issues for this area. The area that borders the highway is blighted. At some point before I moved to Portland, a group of artists tried to brighten it up by placing street art along the 6-ft chain link fence that separated the sidewalk from the grassy area that runs along the highway. I used to drive by and admire the various works made from recycled materials. Sadly, all of the art installations were removed except for a series of colorful letters.

What I think would be wonderful would be to see a wall replace the ugly chain link next to the highway on ramp. One, the wall would help cut down the noise pollution. And, if it was constructed back a little, trees could be planted to help cut down on general pollution. The view is not worth keeping thanks to really bad city planning at some point in Louisville history (it is literally a view of a highway).

What I think would be even better, though, would be to set the neighborhood apart with art. Why not incorporate a wall made of recycled mosaic art? Can you imagine a wall with a depiction of the neighborhood's history (think steamboats) or a river view of the city. Maybe the faces of past residents. Materials could be old dishes, wine bottles, old tiles, even ceramic figurines. It would keep us weird and wonderful!

While trying to find more mosaic examples and a photo of the area I am referring to in Portland, I stumbled upon this artist's blog. It seems my idea is not unique. I'm still learning who all the visionaries are in my adopted 'hood. I love his idea of incorporating a "permaculture" aspect to the street art and he clearly sees a wall in the same place as I do. I think this was the original sketch for the artwork I mentioned used to be there. I should contact this guy, but I think this group of artists have given up on Portland.

Here are some more mosaic examples:


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bye, Bye Beautiful

Two sad neighborhood occurrences happened this week (and the last part of the one before):
  • The awesome thrift store that first brought me to the neighborhood closed for good.
  • Two more historic shotgun houses were torn down by Metro (I presume).
A couple of months ago, I attended a meeting with city officials to remove my house from the abandoned properties list. I had no problems and was applauded for being an owner-occupant. The people who helped me were gracious and kind and very much pro-revitalization of the hard hit West End of Louisville. Sadly, however, I learned then that the wonderful building that housed the thrift store was bought and plans were in store to demolish it (note to self: Take photos this week). I also heard that plans included a(nother) dollar store to be built in its place.
Then, I saw a town hall meeting to approve a Family Dollar. At first I had plans to attend and voice opposition to the plan. However, a week or so later I saw a woman walking on a very cold day from the General Dollar which is further away. I thought maybe we (as in neighbors without transportation or means to get to shopping centers) might need a Family Dollar. Of course, I have since changed my mind again and regret not going to the meeting. The Dollar General is actually only a few more blocks away, near businesses and other retail, and why is it this is the only type of business investors will bring to us. How about an Aldi's or Walgreens or other chains if this is the way it has to go? How about a sit down restaurant? Why another blessed dollar store?
When I first decided to move into this neighborhood, I was smitten with the historic houses and businesses (albeit too many of them boarded up and decaying). I loved that it is near the river and the oldest part of Louisville. It was once a busy steamboat port, the last unboarding/boarding before heading on to the mighty Mississippi. John James Audubon even once lived here and owned a mercantile with a friend.
Sadly, technology came and the choice was made to build a lock and dam further to the east. This essentially gave Louisville the steam to become a full fledged city. The neighborhood I live in began its decent into ghost-town-hood soon after it opened. Yes, Louisville killed the steamboat port town (sing to the tune 'Video Killed the Radio Star').
But, even with the demise of the port town, things were still hopping in the West End of Louisville. Just to the south, Louisville had it's own version of Harlem. Businesses, restaurateurs, artists African-American weathy and free slaves were building a thriving, prosperous and colorful community. Then, a man came along, sold Louisville on a plan to turn it into a white cake donut (sound familiar?) and killed Louisville's Harlem as well. They built a highway that cut off the main routes into these historic neighborhoods and funds were diverted to the east side of Louisville. The ghost-town disease spread.
Now, with other cities revitalizing their historic neighborhoods, Metro Louisville supposedly has a strategic plan to turn the west end around. However, their plan seems to be 'contain the impoverished and build warehouses and dollar stores everywhere else'. Many are proposing other ideas (Portland Orchard Project and Urban Louisville are both visionaries outside the usual box). What saddens me the most is that houses that are highly sought after and selling for $100K elsewhere in the city are just being torn down by heavy equipment in mine. At least one of the houses (the one pictured above) still had life and gorgeous original character. Why did no one at least salvage the wood, windows and other details? And, to make it more poignant, these two houses are located just off the major highway exit and the first houses visitors to the area would see if they headed west. Now they will get to see a Shell station and a effing dollar store.
I really think my neighborhood (and the others in the West End) are perfect for the type of revitalization seen in other Louisville neighborhoods like Highlands, St. Matthew's and 'NuLu'. I don't understand why small businesses, artisans and niche entrepreneurs are not flocking to this historic area. Is it just the stigma of urban decay? Is is the Metro? Is it just that people are more interested in McMansions and such? Maybe people are just consumed with their everyday crisis and lack interest or means to change the plan? Where are the artists, the visionaries, the hipsters, the lovers of old houses? Why does the city ignore all these investor and bank owned neglected properties until they can't be saved?
I'm not sure I am going to find any valid answers to all my questions, but I intend to at least ask. Meanwhile, I am mourning my neighborhood's latest casualties.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Creaking Old Houses

Well, I was amazed by my lack of posts in a two month time span, but what FOUR months? Here it is a new year, a different season. I seemed to have misplaced autumn altogether.

Anyway, back at the Shotgun, I have slowly (as in faster than a snail, but way slower than a turtle) been plugging away at the house rehab. I started the siding and I cannot stress how much of a change it is from the icky, rotting plywood siding to vinyl. I would have loved to put clapboard on the house, but, in the interest of not overspending what I can ever sell a property in the ghetto for and the time I need to get things done, I decided to go with vinyl. I'm not straying terribly far from the color on it now (I think it's called slate). This was mainly so I could do it in stages and it wouldn't stand out. I'm glad I chose this route as winter really came on fast and I haven't done anything but the back of the house (which was falling down and needed priority repairs).

The next side to be done will be the west side. This side gets direct wind and, even as I type this on a snowy night, I can hear the creaking of the poorly insulated walls. I had to do a temporary job of shoving insulation along the edges of the crawlspace to block the wind off of the pipes. This has pretty much been wide open to the wind and I realized the importance of wind blocking when my pipes froze last week. Fortunately, I had no damage (no thanks to the worthless plumber I called to help me thaw them out-Yes, I'm looking at you T. D.). I am hoping I don't have frozen pipes again tonight as the temperatures are supposed to rapidly drop. I am dripping the faucets as a precaution, but I am not going to like the resulting water bill.

Overall, I am still in love with the house, but she is a problem child (as was expected when I found her abandoned and neglected). I need to regain my rehabbing mojo, but winter doldrums have kept my motivation suppressed. I am hoping to start some seeds tomorrow (Feb 1st!!). And, even though the blustery snow is beautiful tonight, I am really waiting on spring to come back around.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Really? Two Months?

Well, I see I forgot I have this blog. Life just seems to get faster and faster and two months (plus!) have marched away since I closed on the Louisville house. I am working away on her, but my early zest has trickled to a bit of a slow crawl thanks to work travel and other items that have taken my focus of late.

So, to catch up, here is what I have managed to complete:

*New roof
*Office floor finished (more on that in a minute)
*Painted the living room (horrible shade that will need to be redone later)
*Painted part of the kitchen (really great color)
*Installed most of the kitchen floor
*Installed new doors
*Uninstalled cabinets in kitchen (much better!)
*Patched up some holes

Wow, looking at this list makes me feel I've hardly accomplished anything, but many of these projects took a long time, not to mention money, to complete (like the roof). I still have two major exterior projects to complete before winter gets here-siding and insulation. I still need to have the furnace examined or replaced as well. Once I get past those hurdles, it's mainly cosmetic.

I really like the neighborhood and the neighbors all seem friendly enough. The most excitement has been an accident that happen this past Sunday inches from my car (so I am parking down the street a bit now). My only gripe is that there is nothing to do around here. This is such a cool, historic area of Louisville. Where the H is the restaurants, pubs, shops? I am really hoping some revitalization happens around here at some point (sans gentrification). On the plus side, there is a Habitat Restore and a great thrift shop within walking distance to my house.

And, in "file under wonderful", I have been told I am moving to a home office! This is such great news and will not only help me save on mileage, but will give me back at least an hour of my life! This, of course, meant the office room moved from near the end of my ginormous house list to near the top. I'm not complaining; I'm ecstatic!