January 31, 2018:


Today is the Super Duper Blue Red Full Eclipse Partial Eclipse Moon, depending on where you may be viewing from.

Three years ago this day was my last day of working and I retired after 46 years of full-time work. I've enjoyed every single moment of my retirement since then - three years and hoping for twenty more, we'll see how things go...

February and March can be cruel months in southeastern Wisconsin where I live. January itself was nutso here weather-wise, with two separate thaws. I don't ever remember getting two January thaws before, and many years none happened at all.

Before I know it I'll be headed to Las Vegas to visit my friends and celebrate some sunshine and warm weather, and see a show (I always try to squeeze one in). Meanwhile, I am continuing, slowly, to make this smaller retirement ranch into a home that makes me smile in every room. I still have lots to do, including major painting projects. I keep putting them off. Seems at 66 I'm not so keen on painting as I was at 36. Gee, I wonder why...


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Shopping for a New House: House 2

Hola darlings!

Well, since writing about House 1, it came to pass that the seller and I were not able to arrive at a mutually acceptable purchase price, and so I let my Offer expire.  We were $2,900 a part, but neither of us was willing to budge another inch.  I know I had budget considerations, and I suppose the seller did too.  Sigh.

On to... House 2. 

House 2 was actually the first house I looked at, because it has the best location vis a vis the places I need to get to on foot:  the Pick 'n Save supermarket, Walgreens, and two bus routes -- a mere 3 blocks away, moving me 6 blocks closer (and NO hill to climb while lugging groceries) than I am right now. 

Location alone put this house #1 on my list.  I met my buyer broker, Laurie, there, for the first time and we hit it off immediately.

This is a small house, no way around that; giving up space (that I don't need), and I've always wanted another brick house.  My first house, purchased in 1986, was a quasi-Tudor style brick 2 bedroom with Spanish plaster, all original woodwork and hardwood floors, built during the Art Deco era, and I loved that house!  But the area the house was located in was headed toward decline, unfortunately.  I sold the house for a profit in 1989 and built Maison Newton, where I've been ever since.  Until now...

House #2 is a cute, but small, all brick ranch, built in 1956.  Solid as they come, and well cared for.  The brickwork is solid, no step cracks at all, no need for tuckpoint repairs.  Three car garage with a summer-room, a small concrete patio out back, concrete drive in not bad condition.  A generator, too, in case electric power ever goes out.  There is no sidewalk on the lot along the roadside; the lawn runs to a shallow culvert and then the blacktop road starts.  Big yard, bigger than I want, but also giving me a clean slate to maybe do the garden of my dreams, as my vision about that has changed so much over the years.  The rear of the property abuts part of a commercial property, the Mad Dog Saloon, LOL!  I've been there several times during it various incarnations over the past 23 plus years I've lived in at Maison Newton.  The property line is delineated by a very tall solid wood fence.  Commercial doesn't bother me.  The road House #2 fronts on is lined with single family homes and it's all very rural feeling, just feet away from 76th Street, one of the city's main drags!  Amazingly quiet, too.

Roof, windows and furnace all newer.  Not a thing has to be done to the exterior of the home, other than creating some curb appeal.  My gardner's hands are already itching.  By the way, 978 days today (and counting down) to retirement! 

The interior is small, 1,012 square feet.  There are three small bedrooms, one small bath, made even smaller by some floor to ceiling cabinets that were installed for additional storage, a small kitchen that has the worst floor plan I've ever seen and is also cut in half but a ceiling-hung display cabinet!  What on earth?  My 56" wide round dining table will NOT fit into the current dinette space -- a card table and 4 card chairs barely fit into the present space!  Well, I'll let the pictures do the talking:

Above photo shows the entry into the front room (living room).  The living room is 11 x 15.  Small.

This is the other side of the front room (living room).  To the left of the sofa is the entry to the bedroom/bathroom hallway and the entry to the kitchen/dinette.  There is a hardwood floor underneath the carpeting per the listing description.  Because of the two large windows, the room is flooded with light.  But, as you can see, it is small.  The furniture I have was purchased for larger rooms. That is an issue.

Hold on to your hats, the kitchen is next:

From the front room walking toward the rear of the home where the kitchen is located.  On the left is the hallway housing the entries to 3 bedrooms and 1 full bath.  The kitchen wall you are looking at is on the east.  There is a tall and spacious pantry cabinet unit, three above-stove or fridge cabinets, the cabinet that the microwave is placed upon, and the fridge.  You can see some of the door to the back hallway on the far right, behind the fridge. You can also see the end of a cabinet jutting out into the room.  That cabinet area, I guess it's a sort of peninsula, cuts the kitchen in half.  Above it is a glass encased cabinet hanging from the ceiling that, right now, contains some stemware.  More about that later.

Another view of the pantry cabinet, microwave cabinet and fridge (from the southwest end of the kitchen).  This view shows you some of the glass-encased ceiling-hung display cabinet that cuts the room in half:

While I'm not crazy about the cabinets, they are in great shape and, as you will see, there is an abundance of cabinet storage in this space.  New hardware would help, I think, and probably a paint job to all white is in their future.  My intention is to re-use the existing cabinets to reconfigure the kitchen into a more functional lay-out, opening up enough space for my 56" round table and four chairs.

So, here is the dinette space.  This photo shows another section of that ceiling-hung glass encased display cabinet, as well as the paneled-over back of an older electric stove.  If you look to your left, you can see where the cord from the electric range is snaked through to the electric outlet underneath the top end cabinet.  That stove must be VERY old, it does not appear to have a three-prong heavy-duty plug requiring a separate electrical circuit!  The window overlooks the driveway and a side of the house next store.  Not a nice view.

As you can see, a card table and four chairs were placed to give an idea of what the dinette would look like.  My table would definitely not fit into this space.  I thought, when I first saw this, that perhaps a built-in banquette and small table, but then, I'd have to give up my beautiful dinette table and chairs, and I don't want to do that!  Not to mention the cost of having a banquette installed (or buying one).  I soon nixed that idea, though, after seeing the rest of the kitchen:

This is the view toward the rear of the house as one walks into the kitchen from the front/living room. To the left of this wall, out of view, is a step-down to a tiny back hallway with a door that opens to the backyard, and opposite that door is the staircase to the basement.  Directly across from the kitchen opening to the back hall landing is a step up to the half-bath, consisting of a small toilet and sink and some rather unique blue laminate countertop.  I'll show you that in a moment.  The kitchen wall we're looking at is along the south of the house.  On the right you can see the "peninsula" sticking out into the room, cutting it in half, and above it, a small part of the ceiling-hung display cabinet.  Facing us is an antique dishwasher on the left, an old front-loading washing machine underneath the window, and a dryer on the right.  I believe they all work. The countertop is faux butcher-block laminate.  It is not a continuous run of countertop, as you can see, it looks like some was added later.  Was the kitchen sink originally under THAT window?  Or did the owners have new plumbling run for the dishwasher and washing machine?  My buyer-broker said she thought the laminate was probably from the 1970's. 

Dryer covered with butcher-block laminate.  Because of the vent there, I thought perhaps this may have been the original location of the stove? But then, it also looks like a cold air return, which doesn't make any sense at all to have it in the middle of the wall...

The sink is on the south wall of the kitchen, view overlooks the driveway.  To the right, you can see the very old electric stove and its plug, and also a good view of the overhead glass display cabinet that cuts the room in half.  That overhead cabinet would be removed.  Electric stove and cabinet on the right next to it would be relocated.  Washer, dryer and antique dish washer would all be removed.  Fridge, cabinet and pantry cabinet would be relocated.  Cha ching, cha ching, cha ching!!!

Here the half-bath (powder room) off the back hall.  I'm not sure that it is 2 feet deep!  But, because if its existence, this house is advertised as bath and a half!  Ridiculous!  This powder room backs up to the plumbing in the full bath.  I would totally junk this space and add much-needed space to the full bath on the other side of the back wall.  There is a "rec" room area, including a bar, in the basement, and a bath could be added down there if some future owner wished it.  For myself, I don't live in my basement.  I live above grade. One larger bathroom for just me to use is fine.

Here you can see the back end of the house (faces south) and the large three-car garage with summer room.  It's a big lot, mostly grass.  There are two Norway maples planted far too close together on the east lot line closer to the back of the house -- you can see part of their branches on the left end of the photo.  The tree nearest the house will have to be cut down.  Makes me cry, but that is the reality.  I KNOW what those trees will be like 10 years from now, should I live that long. 

This is the only photo of the full bath.  Fortunately, it does NOT have a glass block window.  I hate glass block windows, egads!  What is that finish on the walls?  Wallpaper, you might ask?  Nope.  It's a marble look plastic laminate sheathing of some kind, that was screwed to the walls.  It complete surrounds the inside of the bathtub (hidden by the curtains on the right side of this photograph).  From what I figure, directly behind the sink/vanity and toilet is the back-hall "powder room", which I intend to junk if I am successful at buying this house.  The tub has old fashioned style glass shower doors installed, those would be removed   The tub, itself, looks dingy and dirty, probably needs to be replaced.  The faux-marble panels would also be removed, as would the 1950's era mirror/medicine cabinet on the wall at the left of the photograph.  It is flanked on either side by fluorescent lights.  The mirrors actually open out to create a tripod of mirrors. Maybe I could sell it on e-Bay???

The price was recently dropped on this property from $149,900 to $144,500.  So I'm putting an offer in, with a final price range in mind, and we'll see what happens. 

Fingers crossed, darlings!

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