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Posts Tagged ‘old houses in norfolk’

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

November 28th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

Lookie who got their “Tech” license last weekend!  :)

Wayne Ringer, thats who!  :)  Hes now a licensed ham, or he will be as soon as his call sign shows up on the FCC database! Oh, FCC, dont keep us waiting!

Why it's Wayne Ringer, that's who! :) He's now a licensed ham, or he will be as soon as his call sign shows up on the FCC database! Oh, FCC, don't keep us waiting! Before long, he'll be joining me on two meters!

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And hell have the incredible opportunity to be one of the only licensed Amateur Radio operators to enjoy the hobby in a pink room adorned with Hello Kitty lights!

And he'll be one of two licensed Amateur Radio operators in the country to enjoy the hobby in a pink room adorned with Hello Kitty lights!

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

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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

October 18th, 2012 Sears Homes 6 comments

About five weeks ago, I passed my “General” (Ham Radio) test which gave me operating privileges on the HF (High Frequency) bands.

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 England, Australia (and more!).

Pretty exciting!

A few days after obtaining my General license, I purchased an HF radio (Yaesu 450D), and then last week, my Comet CHA-250BX antenna arrived.

And now, both antenna and radio are together.

Getting the antenna installed was a bit challenging - physically. It required snaking wires through the walls and climbing on the roof (over and over and over) and crawling around in the attic, out toward the eaves where there is very little headroom and no flooring. It was a real adventure!

According to the manufacturer, the 23-foot-tall Comet CHA-250BX needs to be at least 20′ off the ground. After much consideration, we decided to mount it on the chimney of our brick ranch.

To accomplish this, we had to buy a chimney mount.

When I was a kid growing up in the 1960s, most of the houses in our neighborhood had an antenna on the roof. With the advent of cable TV and satellite, it’s getting harder and harder to find the necessary hardware for mounting antennas outside.

Thanks to Amazon.com, I was able to find a chimney mount that was designed for extra chubby chimneys, like ours.

Scroll on down to see photos of the installation process.

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.

Updated! I’m now an “Extra”!

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

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worst part was

The worst part of this project was the kneecap pain. I had to crawl out to the attic's hinterlands to drop the RG-8X down the wall (between the studs) with the hope that it would (eventually) end up near my sun porch. While standing upright in my spacious sunporch, "deciding" on the perfect spot for this coax, I neglected to factor in the low clearance between the roof and floor joists out at the edges of our attic.

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ouch

Saturday morning, I spent about 20 minutes with my knees precariously balanced on these joists, drilling holes in these plates, looking for the "sweet spot" where I could drop the coax cable down into the den/sunporch. Years ago, I purchased a set of fiberglass rods that are used for pulling wire through wall cavities. They worked like a charm.

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The sunporch was originally a screened-porch, so we had to penetrate a brick (exterior) wall to get the coax out there.

The sunporch was originally a screened-in porch, so I had to penetrate a brick (exterior) wall to get the coax out there. While hubby was away at work, I put a "smallish" hole through the 5/16" thick paneling in the den, and also through the exterior sheathing. I tried drilling through the brick with a $25 masonry bit but that went nowhere fast. That 1960s brick is tough stuff. My friend David Strickland came by and used his hammer-drill to get through the brick. He drilled from the sunporch side toward the den, because (as he explained) the hammer drill had a tendency to "explode" the back side of the brick. He was right.

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Fme

The hammer drill did create a messy exit wound on the back of the brick. I placed a small piece of plywood across the backside of the brick wall, so that the nylon washer and metal nut would have a good tight fit. The "through-the-wall" fitting is an 8-inch bulkhead connector, with a 90-degree elbow attached.

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other side

The other side came out real pretty.

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A three gang

A three-gang, no-device blank wall plate provided a nice and tidy cover-up on the den side of this wall. Plus, the connection points for the coax are still easily accessible. My husband suggested that I take a black magic marker and write "Ham Radio Antenna Access" on the plate. I was headed for the markers when he said, "No, don't do that. I'm only kidding."

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When the antenna arrived, Teddy the Wonder Dog had to give an inspection of the unit. The Comet CHA205BX did pass the sniff test.

When the antenna arrived, Teddy the Wonder Dog had to inspect the unit. The Comet CHA-205BX successfully passed "the sniff test."

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Mike Neal (President of RASON) and Jim Silverstorf (Treasurer of RASON) came by to help with the assembly of the new antenna.

Mike Neal and Jim Silverstorf (both members of RASON) came by to help with the assembly of the Comet CHA-250BX antenna. Jim brought an SWR meter to check the performance of the new antenna. By the way, I highly recommend that everyone in Hampton Roads join RASON (Radio Amateur Society of Norfolk). It's not the biggest group in the area, but the people are first-class and they are VERY kind to 53-year-old women who ask the really tough questions like, "Where's the volume button on this thing?"

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After

After it was assembled, we had to stand it up and give it a test run. Teddy is on guard, waiting for the radio waves that'll soon come charging into *her* yard.

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Maybe

Yes, that's a bungie cord and nylon ties holding it secure against the deck railing. Mike said that all we needed now was an old couch and a cooler of beer to complete the ambiance.

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The instructions that came with the chimney mounting kit were as clear as mud. We were not sure what they were trying to tell us.

The instructions that came with the chimney mounting kit were as clear as mud. We were not sure what they were trying to tell us. A few more words would have been helpful.

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Ultimately, we figured it out. Took some time though.

Ultimately, we figured it out. Took some time though.

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Roofie

We placed a brick at the bottom of the steel mast, because the chimney mounts aren't really intended to support weight, as much as prevent lateral movement of the mast. And the brick also protects the 17-year-old roofing shingles from additional damage. Unfortunately, I seem to have grabbed the most crooked brick in America.

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mast

Another view from the top. When it was time to heft that antenna up to the roof, another member of RASON (Milton Crum) graciously came by and offered to help. While Wayne and I had expended some mental energy in figuring out how to get this 23' whip antenna up to the roof, Milton had a better way. While I was verbally reviewing the different ways of getting the antenna to the roof, Milt took hold of the antenna and just walked right up the ladder with it. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of this part of our adventure.

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gloves

The antenna mount is a "Channel Master CM 9067," which cost about $30 (from Amazon). It took eight days to arrive, which seemed like a long time, but it does seem to be well made. The bands are 3/4" wide stainless steel and 18' long. The brackets seem sturdy and strong, and provide a 4" offset (which we needed, due to the flare in the brick courses).

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Getting from the roof to the attic took a little thought. I didnt want 50 feet of coax cable draped across my roof, and I also didnt want it coming over my new aluminum gutters.

Getting from the roof to the attic took a little thought. I didn't want 30+ feet of coax cable draped across my roof, and I also didn't want it cascading down over my new aluminum gutters. I also wasn't too fond of the idea of cutting holes in my soffit or facia. This pipe vent served as an ideal solution. It's 1-1/2" PVC pipe with a traditional pipe collar (where it enters the roof). To prevent rain intrusion, I put a 90-degree elbow on the top.

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Inside

Inside the 1-1/2" PVC pipe is a small stub of 3/4" pipe, with 1/2" round weather stripping wrapped around it. I visited four hardware stores, looking for a 1-1/2" to 3/4" reducer, but couldn't find such a thing, so this was the next best choice. Ultimately, I'll put a little more of that 1/2" round weather stripping in the 3/4" pipe to close up the hole.

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My Ham Radio friends tel me this iis the first time theyve seen such a conduit as this, but it realy worked out well.

My Ham Radio friends tel me this is the first time they've seen such a "conduit" as this, but it really worked out well. We spaced it out about two feet from the chimney so we'd stay far from the chimney flashing. From the ground, it looks like just another bathroom vent.

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The ground wire (10 gage stranded) is connected to

The ground wire (10 gage stranded) is connected to the fiberglass mast (at the roof's edge) and continues down the mast to connect to a grounding rod below. The fiberglass mast supports my Diamond X-200A (dual band) antenna.

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Back in the attic

Back in the attic, the PVC pipe provides a nice clean conduit for my RG-8X coax.

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end

And here's the other end of that coax, poking out through the brick wall. The whole affair (and a lot of wires) are well hidden by this antique oak table.

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Annd I bet Im the only Ham Radio operator in Tidewater with Hello Kitty decor!

And I bet I'm the only Ham Radio operator in Tidewater with a pink radio room with Hello Kitty decor!

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What radio room is complete without Hello Kitty lights?

What radio room is complete without Hello Kitty lights?

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The antenna

The Comet CHA-250BX is on the left, standing at about 45 feet at the tippy top.

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front

From the front of the house, it's really not *that* noticeable.

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What a thing of beauty!

What a thing of beauty!

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To learn about RASON, click here.

To learn how to identify Sears Homes, click here.

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Old Hickory, Tennessee and Norfolk, Virginia (Update 2)

January 2nd, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

Since I moved to Norfolk in September 2006, the 16 identical bungalows on Ethel Avenue have been whispering my name, and imploring me to come close, and learn more about their unique origins. Problem was, I could never quite make out what they were saying.

For years, I pored through my vintage catalogs from Sears, Aladdin, Gordon Van Tine, Lewis Manufacturing, Sterling Homes and even Pacific Ready Cut Homes, hoping to identify them as kit homes from a mail-order company.

I never could find a design that was anything close.

Someone in town said the houses were built at the 300th anniversary fair at Jamestown (1904) and moved from that site to their resting place in Riverview (Norfolk). That didn’t ring true, because these little bungalows were more typical of the 1910s. And somewhere, we heard that there had been a DuPont factory in Penniman, Virginia (about 30 minutes from Norfolk), and that the houses might have come from the factory at Penniman.

And then I started doing research on Hopewell, Virginia and learned that it had also been the site of a DuPont munitions factory. So I drove around Hopewell, trying to find our “Ethels” (as they came to be known).

There have been many interesting discoveries along the way. To read a full history of our* project, click here.

Pictures are a lot better than words, so here are a few pictures (below).

And if anyone knows where I  might find more of these “Dupont Designs” in Norfolk, please leave a comment below!

To read the first blog on this topic, click here.

To read a about Aunt Addie,  click here.

*David Spriggs and Mark Hardin have done most of the research on this subject. On this project, I’ve been the blog writer and photo taker!  :)

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On the left is a vintage picture of a Dupont Design (The Haskell) that was built in Old Hickory, TN. On the right is a house in Norfolk (on Major Avenue). We're now certain that these houses came from Penniman (site of a Dupont Munitions Factory) and floated by barge to this location. According to an article in the "Richmond News Leader" (June 1938) there are 51 of these homes in Norfolk, in varying designs. Thus far, we've found more than 45 of these homes.

Vintage photo of Old Hickory (site of a Dupont Munitions Plant) shows two of the eight housing styles found there. These are the same two housing styles found on Major Avenue in Norfolk, VA.

Vintage photo of Old Hickory (site of a Dupont Munitions Plant in Tennessee) shows two of the eight housing styles found there. These are the same two housing styles found on Major Avenue and Glenroie Avenue in Norfolk, VA.

This little Dutch Colonial

This little Dutch Colonial was one of the "Dupont Designs" found in Old Hickory, TN. Note the narrow windows by the front door. We've now learned that this house style was named "The Georgia."

Dutchie

There are nine of these "Georgia" (Dupont' designs) on Major Avenue and Glenroie Avenue in Norfolk. These Norfolk houses are a perfect match to the houses in Old Hickory, TN.

house

Note the long, thin tall windows flanking the front door.

Two of the many Dutchies from DuPont found in Norfolk.

One of the many Georgias from DuPont found in Norfolk.

Cumberland

The Cumberland was one of 12 designs created by Dupont and found in both Norfolk and Old Hickory. There are two of these on Major Avenue (Norfolk).

And heres the real life example.

And here's one of two Cumberlands on Major Avenue. It is a perfect match to the Dupont Cumberland found in Old Hickory, TN.

The other Cumberland on Major Avenue

The other Cumberland on Major Avenue.

This is the two-story house (ensconced in the land of Ethels) in Riverview. Note the unusual attic window.

This is the two-story house (ensconced in the land of Ethels) in Norfolk. Note the tall thin attic window which is a perfect match to the Old Hickory house above. There are other architectural features which lead us to believe that this is also a "Dupont Design." This house was floated by barge to its location here in Norfolk. This is a big house to move!

Close-up of the attic window.

Close-up of the attic window found on all the two-storyy Dupont designs.

It all started with these little bungalows that weve named, The Ethels. There are 16 of these in Riverview (Ethel Avenue) and two in Highland Park (51st Street) in Norfolk.

It all started with these little bungalows that we've named, The Ethels. There are 16 of these in Riverview (Ethel Avenue) and two in Highland Park (51st Street) in Norfolk.

I spent many hours of my life, poring through old mail order catalogs, trying to identify these bungalows as kit homes.

I spent many hours of my life, poring through old mail order catalogs, trying to identify these bungalows as kit homes. And it turns out, they were built by Dupont for their employees at Penniman (Virginia). Dupont had a massive munitions plant there in Penniman, and after it was closed, the houses were shipped out to other cities, including Norfolk. That's where these "Ethels" came from.

And there are dozens of Ethels in Dupont, Washington, site of another Dupont Munitions plant.

And there are dozens of "Ethels" in Dupont, Washington, site of another Dupont Munitions plant. This Ethel is in Dupont, Washington (and shares the neighborhood with 100 identical twins).

Close-up of dormer

This dormer window on these "Ethels" is a pretty distinctive feature.

If you have any information about the houses in Old Hickory, please leave a comment below.

And there was an employee newsletter called, “The Projectile,” which featured a story on the building of these houses. That would also be an incredible resources. Thanks in advance for any and all help.

If you’d like to read earlier posts, start with Part I.

And then go to Part II.

Part III.

Part IV.

Part V.

Part VI.

Part VII.

Part VIII.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

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The Top 12 Most Important Things I Learned about Harvesting Rain Water

September 23rd, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

Back in the day, we called them cisterns. These were brick-lined wells - above or below grade - designed to collect and store the rain-water from a home’s roof. Even after city water became widely available, people kept their cisterns and its soft, sweet-smelling rain water, which was ideal for washing clothes and rinsing hair.

As the decades rolled by, people abandoned their cisterns and closed them off. Without active use, they became a breeding ground for bugs and also a safety hazard for pets and little children.

With the “green movement” and the soaring cost of municipal water, there also came a resurgence in the idea of rain-water harvesting (as it became known in the late 20th Century).

Here in Norfolk, Virginia, I had intended to dig a well, to satiate my thirsty veggies and flowers. However, my husband (who happens to be the chief deputy city attorney in Norfolk) said, “Let me look up the ordinances on that first.”

Turns out, Norfolk  has an ordinance that forbids sinking a well within 50 feet of any property lines. Since our spacious old house was centered on our 110′ by 110′ lot, that nixed that idea.

My other option was rain water harvesting. Fortunately, the city doesn’t have any ordinances against collecting rain water. (In some states, it is illegal to collect rain water.)

After I set up my first rain barrel, it didn’t take me long to realize that one 60-gallon rain barrel didn’t go very far during one of Tidewater’s hot, dry summers.

One rain barrel

One solitary rain barrel

The next summer, I added more rain barrels, positioning them under a downspout that produced copious amounts of water. The first year, my little rain barrels sat directly on the dirt, and they didn’t get much use. They were too low, too muddy and the head pressure was abysmal. Later that year, I built a nice wooden stand for my rain barrels.

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(By the way, if you’re in Hampton Roads, I highly recommend “Mike’s Rain Barrels.” Contact Mike at mminor1959@verizon.net or call (757) 761-1553. The best part - he’ll deliver your rain barrels in his Toyota Priuss.)

Rain

The triplets.

The stand made it much easier to access my rain barrels, plus, the three feet of height gave them a little bit of head pressure, and improved water flow. And the 3-foot stand made it easy to fasten a hose to the spigot (a simple feat that was nearly impossible when the barrels sat on the ground).

Another 10 blogs could be written about the benefits of rain barrels, but in short - for gardening - rain water is better than chlorinated city water. While chlorination keeps us humans from getting cholera and other nasty bugs, that chlorination will also kill off the microorganisms in the soil that helps plants thrive.

And there’s a financial incentive, too. Experts say that 40% of our summertime water use comes from the outside spigot.

In the process of using these rain barrels throughout the summer, I learned a lot of practical lessons. Below are the top 10 most important things I learned.

1) Height is important. For every foot of height you add to your stand, you’ll gain .43 psi of head pressure. If you could manage a ten-foot stand (not advisable for safety reasons), that’d give you 4.3 psi. From a practical matter, the three-foot stand (pictured above) put the spigot at the perfect height for me. And if you’re working with a raised bed garden (like mine), you’ll need the extra height so that water can flow easily to your thirsty plants.

Raised beds

My raised bed is 24" tall, so the three-foot stand is perfect.

2) Weight is also important. Water weighs about 8.3 pounds per gallon. Those rain barrels hold 60 gallons. That’s 498 pounds per barrel, and I’ve got three on one stand, so that’s almost 1,500 pounds of weight (when the barrels are full). That’s a tremendous amount of weight and you should plan accordingly when building your stands. This summer, when my barrels run dry, I’ll have to pull them down and add cross-bracing to the stands. You’ll note in the picture that they’ve started to lean hard to the left. Cross bracing would have prevented that.

twisty

Let's not twist again, like we did last summer...

3) Placement. My three rain barrels are located in my back yard, underneath a busy downspout. Water comes from the main roof (which is slate), flows down to the smaller roof and into my rain barrel. With 10-15 minutes of a good downpour, all three rain barrels are filled up full.

rain

The downspout on this side of the house produces a lot of rainwater.

4) Pre-screen your rainwater. These rain barrels have a four-inch floor drain in their top, with a piece of mosquito screen affixed. Too many times to count, I’ve rejoiced as a summer storm pours rain from above, only to find that the four-inch hole became hopelessly choked with the debris from the gutters, and very little of that delightful rainwater actually entered my rain barrels. My solution to this was simple. I took the aluminum-framed screen from an old storm window and stuck it on top of the rain barrel. That solved my problem. The large surface area of the aluminum screen allowed water to flow even after that first pile of gunk came washing down the spout.

Pre screen

And it's just an aluminum screen from an old storm window. The brick keeps it in place. My husband said this rig makes it look like Jed Clampett lives here, but it works.

5) If you’re building/making your own rain barrel, put the spigot in the right place. When my neighbor saw my rain barrels, he ran out and bought some materials and made his own barrels. Every single one of his five rain barrels has a spigot at the half-way point on the barrel’s side. This means that he’ll only be able to use 50% of the water in the barrel. Not a good design. There are also entire blogs devoted to building your own rain barrel. The barrels shown here are food-grade olive barrels, used to ship olives here from overseas. Learn more here.

Rain

Spigot placement is important.

6) Don’t get bugged. Mosquitoes are naturally drawn to stagnant water and rain barrels provide the ideal breeding ground. Screens will stop some of that, but not all. One year, I had mosquitoes crawling in through my overflow pipe. Adding several drops of baby oil to each rain barrel will create an oily film in the water, and should stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in your rain barrel.

7) One downside to this rainwater fun is that you’ll now have to keep your gutters cleaned out. If all that precious rainwater is cascading over the front edges of your gutters because the downspouts are blocked, your rain barrels won’t do much for you. And if your house is sheltered by large trees (like mine), this can be a perennial problem.

Trees

Trees are pretty to look at, but hard on gutters.

8) When the barrel runs dry, remember to turn the spigot off. Sounds simple enough, but somehow, it’s so easy to forget this little detail. Many times, I’ve gone outside to check my rain barrels after a hard rain, only to find that I left the spigot open and all that rainwater went in through the top and out through the spigot.

oopsie

It's easy to forget to close the spigot when rain barrels run dry.

9) Maintenance. About once a year, I rinse out the rain barrels with city water. The bottom gets a layer of crud in it and the smell is horrific. I’m not sure about the microbiology of all that decaying matter, and maybe it’s just dandy for the garden, but the stench will knock your socks off.

10) Keep water away from the foundation. A surprising amount of water can be discharged through your overflow pipe. Make sure that water is directed away from the house.

Make sure that water flows away from house.

I keep meaning to put that downspout spillway *under* the overflow hose.

11) Your downspout might not quite hit the sweet spot on the rain barrel. A little extra piece of aluminum downspout is probably the simplest solution. I used a piece of Plexiglas, which also does the job nicely.

Buts

You might need to add a little extender to the downspout to reach your rain barrel.

12) If a drought hits, and you don’t want to use chlorinated water on your lovingly maintained and chlorine-free tomato plants, you can fill one rain barrel with city water and let it sit for several days. The chlorination will dissipate in time and you’ll have chlorine-free water. This isn’t the ideal, but in a pinch, it’s one way to keep your garden chlorine free.

13) Enjoy. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with my rain barrels. And look how my garden grows!

garden

Garden views.

garden

Tomatoes, strawberries and carrots share living space.

wow

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

And flowers, too!

And flowers, too!

When we were kids, we’d sing this little ditty.

See, see my playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Holler down my rain barrel
Slide down my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever evermore.

Again, I highly recommend Mike’s Rain Barrels.  Contact Mike at mminor1959@verizon.net or call (757) 761-1553. The best part - he’ll deliver your rain barrels in his Toyota Priuss.

To read about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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Our New Home - in Norfolk, Virginia

August 17th, 2011 Sears Homes 11 comments

The beautiful pink house on Gosnold is now a closed chapter in our lives, and we’re delighted to be settling into our new home in another section of Norfolk. The big pink house was fun, but we’re grateful to have handed over the reins to a delightful young couple that have an inherent understanding that they are not just “homeowners” but caretakers.

There are countless blogs at this site detailing the work we’ve done to our 1925 center-hallway, Colonial Revival, so this blog will be all about the new house!

The new house is ideal for us, at this time in our lives. It’s a smaller house and a simpler house, and it’s all on one level. The best part is, the beautiful back yard adjoins a small canal off of Lake Whitehurst. For most of my life, I’ve dreamt of living on the water, and that dream has now come true.

When I was a little girl, my mother would walk through the halls of our home saying, “I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Just so blessed.” Such things leave a deep impression on a little girl, and I’m sure that my mother’s enjoyment of that home is a big part of the reason that historic architecture became my career.

And now, walking through the splendid rooms of my recently purchased 1962 brick ranch and gazing out the many windows at the beautiful yard with its water views, I hear my mother’s words return to me.

I’m so blessed to live in such a beautiful place. Just so blessed.

Realtor Gary Crawford sits on the front steps of our new home. This photo was taken several days before we moved in, and we were there for the property inspection. Gary Crawford was incredibly professional and thoughtful, too. Notice that hes dressed to match the beautiful Ringer Ranch.

Realtor Gary Crawford sits on the front steps of our new home. This photo was taken several days before we moved in, and we were there for the property inspection. Gary Crawford was incredibly professional and thoughtful, too. It's clear that he loves being a Realtor, and that's reflected in his attitude and actions. Notice that he's dressed to match the beautiful "Ringer Ranch."

Close-up of Gary Crawford of ReMax Alliance (Virginia Beach).  Im a tough customer, but I was very impressed with Gary.

Close-up of Gary Crawford of ReMax Alliance (Virginia Beach). I'm a tough customer, but I was very impressed with Gary.

The Ringer Ranch is an L-shaped brick ranch, with the large den on the back of the house forming the L.

The Ringer Ranch is an L-shaped brick ranch, with the large den on the back of the house forming the "L". For several years, my late father had lived in an L-shaped brick ranch and I always thought it was one of the prettiest houses I'd ever seen. The last day he was in that house, I sat in his living room and said a prayer that somehow, someway, I'd one day live in a home as beautiful as his. This house is an answer to that prayer.

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A large Silver Maple and several pine trees in the back yard create a beautiful, park-like setting.

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The sunporch is 168 square feet of heaven on earth. I was delighted to find that these are Andersen casement windows, and even though they're probably 20+ years old, they still work like new. This ravishing room in the Ringer Ranch will be known as "The Ringer's River Room."

Another view of The River Room in the Ringer Ranch!

Another view of The River Room in the Ringer Ranch!

And just off the sunporch is this delightful deck. Weve already found it be a favorite spot, where we can sit in the morning and evening, and watch the fishies jump in the lake.

And just off the sunporch is this delightful deck. We've already found it be a favorite spot, where we can sit in the morning and evening, and watch the fishies jump in the lake.

Front

So come on in and take the full tour!

And shut the door!

Notice the COAT CLOSET! It's a closet that's just for coats! WOW!

When we started looking at houses several months ago, I told my husband that I knew exactly what I wanted, and I described it this way:  I want a custom-built brick ranch from the late 1950s or early 60s, that has had only one owner, and that one owner will have taken extraordinarily good care of his beloved home, and the house will have two baths and at least three bedrooms and a two-car garage. The house will be a step-back in time, and will have its original kitchens and baths, and while other people may say that the house needs updating, Ill be thrilled to find a house in such perfectly original condition.

When we started talking about moving, I told my husband that I knew *exactly* what I wanted, and I described it this way: "I want a custom-built brick ranch from the late 1950s or early 60s, that has had only one owner, and that one owner will have taken extraordinarily good care of his beloved home, and the house will have two full baths and at least three bedrooms and a two-car garage. Entering the house will be like a step-back in time, and our new house will have its original kitchens and baths, and they'll be in pristine condition. In the kitchen, it'll have the original Formica counter-tops with a chrome edge. The bathrooms will be a snazzy color combination with tile wainscoting and walls. While other people may say that the house 'needs updating,' I'll be thrilled to find a house in such perfectly original condition." And I found *that* house! It is a "one-owner home" and it's in wonderful shape!

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The kitchen is in beautifully original condition. Look at that Formica!

Another view of our wonderful kitchen!

Another view of our wonderful kitchen! The Formica counter tops - now almost 50 years old - are in flawless condition. It's just amazing to see a house that's been cared for this well. For many years, I've told lecture attendees that while we may own our homes, we're really caretakers, and we have a duty to keep our homes in good condition. The previous owner of this house (Mr. and Mrs. Martin) lived this principle, and I am grateful.

And perhaps my favorite room is the spacious den, just off the kitchen.

And perhaps my favorite room is the spacious den, just off the kitchen. The den sits behind the two-car garage, and is isolated from the bedrooms - which is ideal - as this will be our "Snoratorium," where Hubby can retreat when his snoring becomes loud! The masonry fireplace is in beautiful condition.

But perhaps the very best feature of the den is

But perhaps the very best feature of the den is the entire wall of built-in bookcases. As my daughter pointed out, I have built and installed book-cases in every single home I have ever owned - no exceptions. It's nice to walk into a house with ready-made bookcases (which happen to be far nicer than anything I ever built).

L

Another view of our den, with the matching Realtor!

L

The long hallway back to the bedrooms has a lush, deep-pile blue carpet. At first, I thought the 1980s blue would bother me, but I've grown to love it. Above all, it makes the house incredibly quiet, and that's a big plus. Mr. Hubby has big, heavy feet!

And just down the hallway is the worlds most beautiful bathroom! Its PINK!  And like the kitchen, the formica countertops are in pristine condition. The tile floors and wall are also in beautiful shape. What could be better than a cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub? Nothing! Unless its a PINK cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub!

And just down the hallway is the world's most beautiful bathroom! It's PINK! And like the kitchen, the formica countertops are in pristine condition. The tile floors and wall are also in beautiful shape.

My pink bathtub!

What could be better than a cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub? Nothing! Unless it's a PINK cast-iron, 1960s Kohler bathtub! And the tub - like everything else - is in excellent condition. Mr. Martin was a mechanical engineer and it's obvious that he took great pride in this fine old house.

The master bedroom has its own bathroom, and is also in wonderfully original condition.

The master bedroom has its own bathroom, and is also in wonderfully original condition. The vanity is not original (nor are the faucets), but everything else is much the same as it was in 1962 when the Ringer Ranch was first built.

I firmly believe the key to marital bliss is his and her bathrooms. This bathroom - with its tan and brown colors - is HIS bathroom. It also has an unusually spacious shower.

I firmly believe the key to marital bliss is "His and Her Bathrooms." This bathroom - with its tan and brown colors - is HIS bathroom. It also has an unusually spacious shower.

A

I love a tiled shower enclosure. The walls, floor and even ceiling are fully tiled, and there's a handy dandy light in the ceiling! Incredibly, all the tile and grout is in beautiful condition.

F

As much as I love the house, I may love the back yard even more. It's on a finger of Lake Whitehurst, and this is navigable water leading to the Lake (Norfolk's reservoir). In my heart of hearts, I really do believe that this house is a gift from God, an answer to many prayers. As I made lists and thought about what I wanted in a house, I never dared to dream that I'd land in a house that was on waterfront property. That was a heavenly bonus. In my career as an architectural historian and lecturer, there were three times that I ended up living in a bedroom because I was out of money and out of options. And while I was sincerely grateful to have a bedroom of my own, I sometimes felt like a fraud - standing in front of a large crowd - talking about houses, while I was too poor to have a home of my own. Now, I *do* have a home of my own and it is the home of my dreams.

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property!  :)

Another view of our beautiful lake-front property! :)

This canal is on a finger of Lake Whitehurst

This canal is on a finger of Lake Whitehurst

B

From the backyard, looking toward the house.

Down by the creek

Down by the creek

H

Another view of the back yard.

The

The view from the master bedroom.

Ted

Our living room, furnished with a few of our favorite things!

My mothers china hutch looks right at home in the corner of our dining room.

My mother's china hutch looks right at home in the corner of our dining room.

Teddy the dog loves the new house and the front door, designed for easy Sheltie viewing.

Teddy the Dog loves the new house and she especially appreciates that the front door is designed for easy Sheltie viewing.

C. S. Lewis said, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

For more than 10 years, I’ve pondered the spiritual meaning of that awe-inspiring quote. Now I’ve started to ponder its literal meaning as well, and that’s a very lovely thing. Maybe by experiencing the literal meaning of that quote, I can better understand its spiritual meaning.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Soli Deo Gloria.

:)

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