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

August 28th, 2012 Sears Homes No comments

About 18 months ago, I wrote a blog about passing the Technician’s test and obtaining my Ham Radio License. That was certainly a big milestone and today there was another one: I now have a beautiful eight-foot Diamond X-200A, a dual-band vertical antenna, proudly standing beside my house and reaching toward the heavens.

Were it not for RASON (Radio Amateur Society of Norfolk), my ham radio license would be just another document, sitting at the bottom of a desk drawer and gathering dust.

I can’t imagine trying to navigate the complexities and nuances of radio equipment and antennas and power supplies and grounding rods and frequencies and on-air etiquette and more, without the ongoing support, patient tutelage and constant guidance from these experienced members.

Based on my real-life experience and a little research, most Ham Radio operators are hyper-intelligent, well-read, sagacious and perspicacious male baby boomers who built their first ham radio from a Heath Kit in the 1960s.

Generally speaking, I’m a smart cookie, but when it comes electrical systems, I’m a bit of a dullard.

After procuring my first ham radio, (a hand-held Wouxun transciever), I needed help with a couple things, such as turning it on and turning it off. And changing from one frequency to another. And plugging in the antenna. And removing the battery so it could be recharged. And putting the battery back after it was fully charged. And everything else.

And I mean everything.

When I told RASON president Mike Neal that I was ready to put up a “real” antenna at my house, he graciously offered to help me with the whole project. And wow, did he help. He provided specific guidance on everything from finding an ideal spot in the yard to measuring the length of wire needed for the new antenna, and he even provided me with a detailed shopping list, showing every piece and part I’d need.

When the antenna and associated components arrived, I excitedly emailed Mike and asked him for help installing the new antenna.

“Help” is an interesting word choice here.

The word “help” implies a partnership of sorts. In fact, I merely watched in amazement as Mike went to work assembling this thing. (Despite having read the assembly instructions several times, I was still not convinced that Universal Radio had sent me the correct order. I was feeling a little befuddled.)

I watched in silent, reverential awe as this Japanese-manufactured mass of stainless steel pieces and parts and pipes was transmogrified into something resembling an antenna.

Less than an hour after Mike arrived, the antenna was assembled, installed and ready for its first test. (And that 60-minute time frame included Mike’s muffin and coffee break.)

The antenna is - in my humble opinion - a thing of beauty and a joy to behold. The signal it produces is strong and clear.

Thanks so much to Mike and RASON for holding my hand and walking me through these very first baby steps as I enter the world of Ham Radio.

The learning curve for a late-comer like me is massive, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a fun ride.  :)

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.

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Mike Ham

I paid close attention as Mike assembled the antenna but most of it was a high-speed blur. Diamond Antennas should hire this man to create an online tutorial on how to put an antenna together because he makes it look so darn easy. And to us neophytes, it's not "easy."

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Heres a picture of the stick antenna I used prior to this. Again, it was made (and supplied) by RASON and with this little antenna (and my five-watt radio), I picked up Kilmarnock from my sunporch. According to Google maps, Im about 90 miles from Kilmarknock.

Here's a picture of the "stick antenna" I used prior to the installation of the exterior antenna. This magical little device was made (and lent to me) by RASON. With this little antenna (and my five-watt radio), I picked up Kilmarnock from my sunporch. According to Google maps, I'm about 75 miles from Kilmarknock.

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The mast for the antenna

The mast that supports the antenna was purchased from eBay. This mast is made up of several army surplus tent poles (fiberglass) and measure 40" per length. They're ideal for mounting Ham Radio antennas. Again, Mike and RASON were the source of this information.

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I have a vague memory that something about grounding rods was on my Technician License test. Fortunately, Mikes memory on this topic was better than mine.

I have a vague memory that something about grounding rods was on my Technician License test. Fortunately, Mike's memory on this topic was better than mine.

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The connection point into my sunporch was very neat and tidy.

The antenna's connection point into my sunporch/radio room was very neat and tidy.

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close

A close-up shows how tidy this connection really is, thanks to Mike's supervision and guidance.

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Tidy

Close-up of my "equipment," which is a Wouxun transceiver KG-UV6D. The wing chair is the official "Rosemary is playing with her new ham radio so please don't disturb her" chair. It's quite comfy.

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The best part of the instructions was the Engrish translations.

"Do not use iron ladder." Are those popular in Asian countries? Because I think they'd be pretty darn heavy. And the Japanese must be far more social than us Americans. Throughout the text, the phrase, "Ask your friends for help" appeared eight times. Apparently installing a Ham Radio antenna is a big social event over there.

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Out

And now the beauty part: The antenna itself. I'm not sure how tall it is, but I think it's about 28 feet to the top of the antenna. That Holly bush (center of photo) may have given its life for this project. It was hacked down to 30% of its original girth to make way for the antenna installation.

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Another view of that dandy antenna.

Another view of that dandy antenna.

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Darn

Reaching for the heavens, baby...

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From the front of my house, this antenna is nearly invisible. Can you see it?

From the front of my house, this antenna is nearly invisible. Can you see it?

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Now

How about now?

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To read part one of this blog, click here.

To learn more about Ham Radio, click here.

Click here to learn more about Radio Amateur Society of Norfolk.

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When an Old Person Dies…

October 28th, 2011 Sears Homes No comments

There’s a saying that when an old person dies, it’s like a library burning down. In other words, it’s a significant loss of historical information and stories and records and experiences that can never be restored.

I’d have to say there’s one exception to that rule: When that “old person” has taken the time to write a book, and record and preserve all the historical information and stories and records and experiences.

These days, I get asked a lot of questions about Addie Hoyt Fargo, my great Aunt. And often, I preface my response with, “I’m so grateful to Mary Wilson, who took the time to write a book about Lake Mills, and share what she knew about Addie’s death.”

As a fellow author and historian, I really am grateful that Mary Wilson left us a 700-page book detailing so many elements of Lake Mill’s history,  because it preserved a written record of Addie’s death that would have otherwise been lost to the ages. It was because of Mrs. Wilson’s book that I started digging into this story. Reading her book cover to cover is akin to sitting down and hearing the stories of someone who was born and raised in Lake Mills, and spent nine decades here, because - that’s just what Mary did.

It is a book full of gems.

So what does Mary tell us about Addie? Simply, that Addie was shot by her husband, Enoch Fargo.

In The History of Lake Mills (published in 1983), Mary Wilson writes, “A number of persons who knew [Enoch Fargo] will tell the same story - he shot Addie.”

Enoch had three daughters by his first wife, Mary Rutherford Fargo. The eldest daughter was named Elsie Fargo (McCammon). Elsie McCammon’s daughter was Mary Wilson, who authored The History of Lake Mills. In this book, it’s Enoch’s own granddaughter describing what happened to Addie Hoyt Fargo.

Mrs. Wilson also writes about Dr. William Oatway, the physician who was allegedly complicit in this crime, and reports that Oatway stated years later, “No one was fooled” by his alleged falsification of Addie’s death certificate (showing diphtheria as the cause of death).

That book was an incredible resource in my research, and gave me the foundation on which to start building a case. And in the ensuing four months, I’ve discovered a multitude of documents and resources that point to the fact that Mary Wilson’s accounting of this crime in Lake Mills is probably accurate.

It’s a tough book to find, and I paid almost $50 for my copy, which is a true testament to this book’s enduring value and appeal.

To learn more about Addie, click here.

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My favorite photo of all.

An amazing glimpse into another time, this photo shows Addie in her bedroom at the Fargo Mansion Inn in Lake Mills.

Addie

There's a sweetness and naivete on this young woman's face that is wholly compelling. She was just a girl - 24 years old - and full of hope and dreams and ideas. Perhaps she'd planned on having a whole passel of children or maybe she was looking forward to being a socialite, carrying the torch for whatever causes that filled her heart with passion. She's so young and sincere-looking in this photo. So untarnished by the world. And five years later, she'd be dead, murdered (allegedly) by the man that had promised to love her for the rest of his life.

Addie

Addie Hoyt - in 1896 (wedding day) and 1901 (shortly before her death). This photo presents an argument that Addie was sickly at the end of her life. Given the jagged and receding hairline (on the right), one has to wonder if she was suffering from arsenic poisoning. There's also a swollen lip and other distortions around her nose. Perhaps she fell down a flight of stairs and landed on her face. I understand that Victorian-era women were very prone to such accidents. She sent this photo to her brother-in-law Wilbur Whitmore, living in Denver at the time.

Contrast

This shows the remarkable difference in the hairline.

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Comparison of Addie's lips, showing the swelling and misalignment (on the latter photo on right).

To keep reading about Addie, click here.

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I Painted My Kitchen Red. Ask Me a Question!

June 1st, 2011 Sears Homes 3 comments

Since March 2007, I have lived in a beautiful old house with a beige kitchen. The walls were beige, the cabinets were beige, the floors were dark beige and the ceiling was “Bacon Grease Beige.”  We had a whole lot of beige going on. When we decided to sell the house, we decided to clean up the kitchen and make it shine. We patched a few old cracks along the way, and then we painted the whole room from ceiling to baseboard.

Never in my life have I seen three gallons of paint (ceiling, walls and cabinets) make such a difference. As my friend said, “Now you have a high end kitchen to match the rest of your high end house.”

Pictures are below.

BTW, the asking price is $299,900. It’s a beautiful old house on a beautiful lot in a beautiful area.

Ready for the tour? Enjoy the photos below!

Click on links to read parts one, two and three of this story.

kitchen

The look of the new kitchen (new paint) is just dazzling. Had I known how beautiful it would turn out, I would have done this years ago!

ki

My favorite feature of the kitchen is the large windows over the sink.

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

kitchen

The cabinets have been painted bright white. Lots of work!

kitchen

kitchen

kitchen

And I'll miss this massive refrigerator with an ice and water dispenser.

kitchen

A view from the doorway.

kitchen

The long end of the kitchen has a fish in a fry pan that we bought at the Stockely Gardens Art Show in 2009. It's always been one of my favorite items, and now it matches the kitchen! Fishie does not convey. :)

kitchen

That's one happy fish!

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Wayne, after being permitted entry into the kitchen. Teddy is hoping Wayne is going to drop some food.

housie

The house at 3916 Gosnold Avenue.

houaiw

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

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.

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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.

garden

And they all live together in peace - in a fully enclosed living space - safe from racoons and squirrels.

wow

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

And flowers, too!

And a flower garden, too!

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.

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

And I saved the best for last: The Perfect Pergola. The design came from a 1924 architectural magazine. Note hipped roof with slate shingles.

Another view

Another view of the pergola. Dog does not convey.

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

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