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It’s Official: I’m Now a Ham (Part III)

September 15th, 2012 Sears Homes 1 comment

This weekend (September 15/16) there was a big Ham Fest (for Ham Radio enthusiasts) at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. This morning, I was one of about 40 people who gathered in an upper room sitting for a Ham Radio licensing test.

The majority of those 40 people were taking a test for the Technician License, which is the first of the three licenses in Ham Radio. (The three levels are, “Tech, General and Extra.”)

In March 2011, I obtained my Technician’s License.

Today, I successfully passed a 35-question test and I’m now the proud owner of my “General License.”

And better yet, of the 35 questions on the test, I got 34 right!!   :)

It’s been a happy day.

With this new license, I’m now legally empowered to fiddle around on HF frequencies, which opens up a whole new world.

VHF and UHF frequencies are principally line of sight, but on HF, short radio waves can skip thousands of miles, reflecting (and bouncing) between the mirror-like ionosphere and the earth’s surface. Radios producing as little as five watts (which is very, very low power) take advantage of this “propagation” (as it’s called) and can send signals from Norfolk to London (and beyond!).

Now, with my Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) in hand, I’m free to cruise the radio bands of HF. There’s just one last little obstacle:  Lucre.

After the test today, I descended to the main hall of the Convention Center and attended the Ham Fest, which is a massive display of vendors of radio equipment. Based on what I’ve learned, I’ll need to gather up several hundred dollars to buy a new radio that complements my new radio privileges.

Until then, I’m still having a lot of fun playing around on what’s known as the “2-meter band” (VHF). Thanks to my beautiful eight-foot Diamond X-200A, a dual-band vertical antenna (standing at about 30′ high outside my brick ranch), I’ve successfully tuned in stations up to 158 miles from my home in Norfolk.

Who knew Ham Radio could be so much fun?

:)

To read more about my experiences with Ham Radio, check out Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V of this series.

Click here to take a look at the General Test. As someone with no background in electrical components, I found it a bit challenging!

My ham radio station is pretty modest.

My ham radio station is pretty modest. That's a hand-held five-watt, dual band Wouxun on the table, sitting next to a Radio Shack 10/45-watt HTX-212. A J-pole antenna hangs from the ceiling. This device (hand-crafted by Mike Neal) is a little marvel. Using only this antenna, I can pick up a strong signal in Kilmarnock, about 75 miles from my house.

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The first Radio Shack two-meter radio I used was loaned to me by the RASON Ham Radio group here in Norfolk. I was so enamored of its many charms, that I went looking on eBay for one of my very own.

The first Radio Shack two-meter radio I used was generously loaned to me by the RASON Ham Radio group here in Norfolk. I was so enamored of its countless charms and ease of use, that I went looking on eBay for one of my very own. The one I found is an HTX-242, which is (as far as I can tell) identical to the 212, but maybe a little tiny bit newer. The HTX-242 is sitting atop an MFJ 28-amp power supply. A list showing the two-meter repeaters in the Hampton Roads area sits to the right.

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Ebay - how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The first lesson to learn about Ham Radio is it can be an expensive habit! Thanks to eBay, I found an HTX-242 new in box (which is pretty cool, considering how old this radio probably is).

Ebay - how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The first thing I learned about Ham Radio is it can be an expensive habit! Thanks to eBay, I found an affordably priced HTX-242 "new in box" (which is pretty cool, considering how old this radio probably is). It is a dandy! I'm guessing it's about 15 years old, but I don't really know. It's a throwback to the days when Radio Shack sold stuff that had to do with radios. Imagine!

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My friends at RASON tell me that part of the reason my signal is so good here is proximity to the water. We live on a finger of Lake Whitehurst.

My friends at RASON tell me that part of the reason my signal is so good here is proximity to the water. We live on a finger of Lake Whitehurst.

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And this helps with the good reception, too!

And this helps with the good reception, too! Since this photo was taken, we've raised the antenna another four feet!

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Now I ask you, did you ever see a prettier antenna?  :)

Now I ask you, did you ever see a prettier antenna? :)

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To learn about RASON, click here.

To read Part I of this blog, click here.

To read Part II, click here.

To learn about the many pretty Sears Homes here in Norfolk, click here.

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And The Plat Thickens, Part II

October 11th, 2011 Sears Homes 7 comments

To read a fun update on this story, click here.

Mark Hardin (fellow researcher and old house aficionado) has observed something (again), that I casually overlooked. But after thinking about this for 24 hours, I think he’s right.

That happens a lot.

David Spriggs, Mark Hardin, Rachel Shoemaker and I have been scouring cities (via google maps) looking for Ethels, our pet name for these distinctive little bungalows that have been found in several Dupont towns. We’ve found them in Butte, Montana and Norfolk, Virginia (where they were probably moved from Penniman, Virginia), and Dupont Washington. (Actually, it was Mark that found them in Dupont, WA and Butte, MT.)

This summer, I thought I’d found one in Muskogee, but as Mark Hardin obseved, it’s not a spot-on match to the rest of our Ethels. Secondly, we can’t find any evidence of a Dupont presence anywhere nearby, and that’s an important fact.

On the bedroom side of our Ethels, it’s one window for the bedroom, bath, bedroom. On the Musky House, there’s an extra window on that last bedroom. A window by itself isn’t a big deal, but this window adds some length to the house, making it a more spacious house.

On the Musky’s front, it’s got a door beside the window, whereas our Ethels have a door on the sidewall of the front porch, and it appears to have a significantly wider foot print.

More info is needed, because I think Mark might be right. This house in Muskogee is very close, but it’s not a perfect match.

Eth

This is the Ethel in Muskogee, Oklahoma in the 900-block of Boston Avenue. It is a close match to our other Ethels, but it's a little wider. (Photo is courtesy of Angeline Stacy and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. )


house

Another view of our Ethel in Muskogee. You'll note the windows are all boarded up. Not a good sign. Angeline reports that this neighborhood was "a little scary." (Photo is courtesy of Angeline Stacy and may not be used or reproduced without written permission. )

And thanks to Mark Mckillop, we have many photos of the houses in Dupont, Washington.


Our Ethel Bungalow in Dupont, Washington. All photos are courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Our "Ethel Bungalow" in Dupont, Washington. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Dupont Ethel is in largely original condition. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

I wish Mark had taken his chain saw with him. Landscaping is always a problem when photographing old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This Ethel in Dupont has seen a little modification. Vinyl siding is not a friend of old houses. (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Ethel

This is such a distinctive little house. Have you seen it in your neighborhood? (This photo is courtesy of Mark Mckillop and may not be reproduced without written permission.)

Next are the photos of our Ethels, which art in Norfolk. As you’ll see from the photos below, they really are a good match to the houses in Dupont, Washington and Muskogee, OK.

House

One of our mystery bungalows on 51st Street. Photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Spriggs.

Another

Good shot of the two bungalows on 51st Street. This photo is courtesy of David Spriggs and may not be reused or reprinted without permission from David Sprggs.

house

This is one of the houses in Riverview that's in mostly original condition. The little dormer on the side was added in later years.

Close-up of railing

Close-up of railing

Close-up of dormer

This dormer window is a pretty distinctive feature.

another Ethel

Another "Ethel Bungalow" in Riverview

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that providing housing for workers created a more stable workforce. And that was probably true.

Aladdin promoted itself to companies as a supplier of industrial housing. It was believed that if a company provided housing for its employees, this would create a more stable workforce. And that was probably true. Dupont turned to Aladdin to supply homes for Hopewell, Virginia and Carney Point, New Jersey and Old Hickory, TN. (1919 Aladdin catalog)

To read an update on this interesting story, click here.

To read what we learned about the Ethels at Penniman, click here.

To contact Rose, please leave a comment below.

To learn more about the kit homes in Norfolk, click here.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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A Beautiful House from a Beautiful Time - OPEN on Sunday, July 17, 2011

July 17th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

About two years ago, I was organizing my collection of DVDs when I noticed a frighteningly consistent theme.

Somewhere in Time (Christopher Reeve)

The Final Countdown (Kirk Douglas)

Frequency (Dennis Quaid)

Peggy Sue Got Married (Nicholas Cage)

Field of Dreams (Kevin Kostner)

Back to the Future (Michael J. Fox)

Did you figure it out? They’re all about traveling back in time. Half-jokingly, I tell people I’m only biding my time here until the smart people figure out how to travel in time, so I can get back to where I belong: the 1920s. As someone who loves history, I really am in love with that time in America’s past.

I don’t love the 1920s because that’s when Sears Homes were all the rage; I love Sears Homes because they were offered during the 1920s. In order to write, “The Houses That Sears Built,” I spent four years immersed in the periodical literature of that time. I read - literally - tens of thousands of pages of magazines and newspapers of the 1910s and 20s.

And that’s why, when I first saw 3916 Gosnold Avenue, my emotions took over and my old Realtor training fell off the cliff and I grabbed my husband by the lapels and told him that I *had* to have this house. (That’s actually a true story.) The house was built in 1925. Somehow I felt that if I could just get into this house, I’d be one step closer to getting back to where I was meant to be: 1925.

That was 4-1/2 years ago. Now - having lived in this house for 4+ years, the practical realities have set in, and both my husband and I long to find a place on one level, with gutters than can be accessed with a step ladder, and exterior paint jobs that can be done in a couple weekends, rather than several months. We’re ready to simplify, simplify, simply (as Henry David Thoreau once said), and the best way to simplify our housing is to downsize.

Today, Sunday (July 17th) we’re having an open house. Even if you’re not in the market for a big beautiful old house, it’s a grand opportunity to come inside and see the color of obsession. Everything we’ve done to this house has been done with love, precision and a deep abiding love of history. That, plus passion, makes for a most excellent restoration job.

Enjoy the photos, and please stop by if you’re out and about. It really is a gorgeous old house.

Now, about the house.

It’s has been faithfully restored to its original splendor, and has a high-efficiency gas boiler (94%+), high-efficiency central air (14 SEER) and a dazzling rainwater harvesting system. Enjoy the best of old-world craftsmanship together with the latest and greatest of modern technology. In short, you’ll have the unique pleasure of living in a beautiful old house with none of the environmental guilt. :)

Mr. Realtor will be here from 12-3 pm on Sunday, July 17th at 3916 Gosnold Avenue.

It’s 2,300 square feet with three bedrooms, 1-1/2 baths, with a large sunporch, full third floor and awesome basement.

Asking price is $287,900, which is $58,000+ below city assessment, with $4,000 of closing cost assistance. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment please contact the Realtor.

Old

Please come on in.

Its a grand old house.

It's a grand old house. Notice the copper flashing up there? All new last year, and with a serviceable life of more than 75 years, that slate roof will last a long time.

Old Mr. Barnes loved to sit in the backyard, admiring the house that he built. He was part owner of Etheridge Lumber in downtown Norfolk, and the story is, he hand-selected all the framing members that went into the house.

Old Mr. Barnes (William Barnes) loved to sit in the backyard, admiring the house that he built in 1925. He was part owner of Etheridge Lumber in downtown Norfolk, and the story is, he hand-selected all the framing members that went into the house. His son and grandchildren lived in this house until 1971. Mr. Barnes died in the house in the 1940s. There's so much that's right and good about an old man passing away in the house that he built, surrounded by his family, comfortable in his own bed.

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The next generation of Barnes' enjoying the house that Grandfather built. This is Ed and Laura Barnes with their father (William Barnes' son) on the front porch.

K

Laura and Ed Barnes (seated) and an unknown neighbor kid play on his awesome fire truck in the back yard.

The Barnes family (Mom and the twins) line up on the staircase in Gosnold.

The Barnes' family (Mom and the twins) line up on the staircase in Gosnold.

phoo

A picture of the house (done by Kay Gillespie) hangs alongside that same staircase wall.

My old house foyer

The house on Gosnold is a classic Colonial Revival, right down to the details. The image on the left is the entry foyer at Gosnold Avenue. The image on the right is the cover of the book, "Colonial Style." Even the light fixture is the same. The rest of the details are also spot-on. Biggest different is, my rug is not as pretty as theirs.

door

And, we have an original ice box door, too. Back in the 1920s, this door provided access to the back of the icebox, so that the iceman could deliver a 25-pound block of ice to the ice box without entering the home. This was also known as "the jealous husband's door."

fam

The twin grandchildren of the home's builder (William Barnes) sit on the front stoop (mid-1950s). They were born and raised in this house. The home remained in the Barnes' family until 1971, when it was sold to new owners. Laura (on the left) supplied the family photos, which proved invaluable in the home's restoration.

housie

The house at 3916 Gosnold Avenue.

houaiw

Classic lines and high-quality workmanship make this a timeless beauty.

milk

On the back porch is this old "Milk Door," which provided a place for the milkman's deliveries, whether or not anyone was home (and/or awake!). A corresponding door in the pantry enabled the housewife to retrieve deliveries without stepping outside.

kitchen

The house has 32 windows, and 7 of them are in the kitchen. One of my favorite features in the kitchen are these many beautiful windows. The gas stove (left) is less than 30 days old. The dishwasher and fridge (both stainless steel) were new in March 2007.

ki

This spacious kitchen was remodeled in Spring 2007.

ki

The gas stove was installed less than a month ago. Still shiny new!

kitchen

Really big refrigerator does everything but serve you buttered toast in the morning.

living

The living room is awash in light with a western and eastern and southern exposure. The living room is 25 feet long and 13 feet wide.

dining room

The spacious dining room has four windows (six feet tall!) and has beautiful oak floors.

Entry foyer

Visitors to our home frequently comment on the beautiful foyer.

room

Original french doors to the living room and dining room are still in place.

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

And did you notice those shiny doorknobs on the french doors!

En

A view from the staircase.

house

Another view of the foyer.

rain

The house is also a gardener's delight, with provisions to collect and store more than 200 gallons of rain water.

garden

Your own private farm awaits: Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries, carrots and lettuce will be ready for harvest in about 30 days.

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Hubby does not convey. Usually.

Another view

Flowers in full bloom.

wow

And the world's most perfect strawberry, from my garden.

Finis!

Carrerra marble under radiator and toilet complement the hex flooring. Work was done in Spring 2010.

Bathroom pretty

Bathroom was restored to its original 1920s appearance.

House

This 1930s vintage thermostat works beautifully, controlling a 2011 high efficiency gas boiler.

New-old stock from eBay. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

It's the little things that make an old house a special home. Vintage doorbell installed in 2008, and it has a beautiful chime!

view

Front entry foyer is 11 feet wide and 25 feet long.

Its done!

Spacious sunporch has built-in bookcases that are 9-feet tall.

attic

Even the attic is spacious and grand! And with a little back-lighting, these windows can scare the beejeebies out of the trick or treaters on Halloween night! If you look up, you'll see collar beams on all of the roof joists. The house is topped with Buckingham Slate (recently restored), which weighs 1,400 pounds per square (100 square feet).

House

Little house (address is 3916-1/2) has a floored attic, vintage windows and slate roof.

housie

Another view of the little house.

uniquely large yard for Colonial Place

Private, off-street parking and a uniquely large yard for Colonial Place make 3916 Gosnold Avenue a quiet oasis amidst a sea of classic old houses.

Street view

View from the street.

Sideyard summertime view

Sideyard summertime view.

And I saved the best for last: The Perfect Pergola

Picture yourself in this swing! Feels delightful, doesn't it?

Another view

Another view of the pergola. Dog does not convey.

Another view of the pergola

Teddy the Dog wants to know if the new house will also have a dog swing like this one.

17 Really Good Reasons to Buy The Big Pink House

1) Low electric bills - average budget bill of $115/month (and we love our air conditioning!).

2) High-efficiency central air (14 SEER) with all new ductwork, and electrostatic air cleaner (installed October 2007).

3) High efficiency, top-of-the-line gas-fired boiler (94% efficient) installed March 2011.

4) Thorough restoration of original (Buckingham Slate) roof, with new copper flashing and copper cap at roof ridge. Roof repairs will be required again in 2085 (or so). (About 25% of all the construction debris found in landfills is roofing materials. Slate is the “greenest” roof in the world and with occasional maintenance, it can last forever.)

5) Seamless 6-inch (extra large) aluminum gutters and downspouts.

6) No worries about old plumbing! Entire house replumbed with new copper lines in 2007.

7) Electrical service updated (some new wiring and new panel) in Spring 2007.

8) Fresh paint, too! Two coats of Sherwin Williams Duration (25-year warranty) cover the home’s cypress clapboards.

9) Eleven new high-end replacement windows have been installed within the last two years. Windows on home’s front are original (to preserve architectural integrity).

10) “Move-in ready” for your favorite quadruped! Custom-built picket fence surrounds peaceful back yard.

11) Who doesn’t love a little house, especially one with a slate roof? “3916-1/2 Gosnold” is a custom-built “mini-house” with a 9′ ceiling, floored attic, built-in ladder and vintage windows.

12) When it’s time for the morning’s ablutions, step into the bath and back in time. Faithfully restored second-floor bath features porcelain sconces, vintage medicine chest, and a Kohler Memoirs sink, sitting atop a restored hex floor. Also has elegant wainscoting, Danze high-end faucets and solid brass vintage towel rack.

13) Modern kitchen is full of light with seven large windows, stainless steel appliances and a brand new Kenmore gas range (May 2011).

14) Harvest Time is nearly here! Tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries, zucchini and flowers thrive in three separate raised bed gardens in spacious back yard.

15) Handy rain-water harvesting system already in place for those thirsty plants, with more than 200 gallons of available storage.

16) Bibliophiles delight! Built-in bookcase on sunporch is more than 9′ tall and 6′ wide, with 27 sturdy shelves.

17) The house was custom built in 1925 by William Barnes, owner of one of Norfolk’s largest lumber yards. His grandchildren recall that he hand-selected every piece of framing lumber that went into the house. And it shows.

To schedule an appointment, leave a comment below or contact the Realtor.

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