After regaling y’all with stories of the Forest lately, I guess another shot of the big city is ok…



Memories of NYC #2


I’ve been regaling y’all with stories about life in the forest and maybe it’s time for a couple quick detours.

A couple years ago Peg and I took a trip to the Big Apple. I was rooting around in some of the shots from that trip and came across two images I liked but never had time to finish.  So, with a couple days off it was time to remember where we’d been…


Images, Old Diary

Memories of NYC #1

Old Diary, Travel

Heading Back Home

A pleasant visit with old friends and today we head back to Cudahy.

I’m not sure how to describe our outlook for post closing travel.  We are both aware that some of our decisions are skewed.  Blame it on tension, or stress, or who knows what…  We have reached a conclusion which gives us about a month worth of plans.

We need to be out of the school by the 3rd or 4th of June, but I need to be around to talk with our attorney AFTER the closing.  We’re hoping to get an early-in-the-day closing making possible a Friday afternoon attorney meeting — but can’t count on that.

So…. we decided to plan one week of easy access to Milwaukee followed by one month of decompression time. After that we are agreed to head out on our unscripted life with undefined destinations.

Ta Da!

June 3-12 we’re in Bong Recreation Area — one of the Wisconsin State Parks that we’ve never stayed in but have walked.  With some nice trails it’s the perfect place to hang out for a week and a half.

  • close enough to Milwaukee to make repeat visits if necessary
  • less expensive than the State Fair Park RV park
  • plenty of exercise opportunities
  • close to Home Depot’s and such in case we have fresh-from-de-winterizing issues

June 12-26 – Blackhawk Park – De Soto WI — back to the Corps of Engineers campground.  Lots of space to walk, not too far of a drive, and familiar territory — time to just set-a-piece, relax after anticipating the closing and rushing to get things done.

June 26-July 10 – Thomson Causeway – Thomson IL — another 2 weeks in familiar Corps facilities.  Again, lots of space to walk, some trails we  never got to walk last summer.

After that we’re still making decisions:

  • Part of us is inclined to pay our mandatory visit to Peg’s brother and S-I-L in S. Lake Tahoe, CA. They are getting up in years and a visit is a good idea.
  • I have been thinking that we would spend our first winter in TX — but if we do that it doesn’t make much sense to head way West — whether to CA, or OR or WA
  • We are eager to check out Hemet CA where a friend of our has settled after moving from Milwaukee.

Clearly we have conflicted ideas about what to do, but we haven’t been able to focus on the future long enough to sort them out.  The month of quiet will give us that time.  Stay tuned.

On a more touristy train of thought we had a really interesting tour though the Dana Thomas House — Frank Lloyd Wright’s first open checkbook commission. It’s quite an amazing building, built at the beginning of the 20th century.  Walking through I seemed to remember other Wright buildings that we have toured as being brighter — but this one seemed quite dark and oppressive.

We are (fingers crossed) counting down the 40 remaining days.numeral 40


Show Up, Show Down, Merry-Go-Round


Selling A House is Like Riding a Merry-Go-Round

I suspect that selling a house is about as close as any male can come to understanding P.M.S.  Fortunately it doesn’t come with cramps!  Having said that, there are other physical symptoms that are sometimes associated with home-seller-itis: among them sleeplessness, nervous stomach and other symptoms related to stress.  The good part about  home-seller-itis is that it doesn’t recur monthly year after year.  Well, not unless you are really into real estate.

Bay View Homes scheduled showing #9 yesterday.  It was a potential buyer who was supposed to see the house/school last week and cancelled at the last minute.  The showing seemed to go reasonably well.  It’s a couple who look like they would respect the building for what it is.  They seemed interested.

Once again we enter that period of time when a good showing turns into a weekend or a week of waiting.  No matter what we do there’s nothing we can do to intervene.  One guesses and second-guesses how well the showing came off.  It’s hard — each and every single time — not to get excited and optimistic and hopeful.  But nothing counts; at least nothing short of an offer to purchase.  And so we wait through the weekend, and who knows how long into the week, to see whether this will be the buyer for us.

Why write about this one?

That’s simple.  As a person goes through the home-selling process dealing with the timing of a sale is hard on anyone who isn’t lucky enough to sell in the first couple weeks.

There is a small house — I suspect it’s about, or even smaller than 1,000 sq ft.  — not far from us.  It’s a 1950’s property that has been on the market off and on again for at least 4 years.  Considering that I am often chronologically challenged it could be longer than that but I have little by way of a touchstone to assess the total time on the market.

The couple selling are in their late 80’s.  They moved out of the property well over 3 years ago.  They had it listed with multiple realtors; there were periods when the house wasn’t in the market; and there were periods when there was a For Sale By Owner sign out front.

Midweek cars arrived at the home, and began unpacking furniture, and bicycles, and plants.  The home has sold.  We have new neighbors (sort of — they aren’t that close).

I cannot imagine what that old couple thought about the time it was taking to sell their home.  They had been there 30-40 years.  They raised their family there.  I’m sure their retirement plans did not include waiting four years to free up the capital they had in that home.

Nor did we expect we’d be still in the process of selling our home at this point.  But the time has been well used by some of us.

Peg and I got out in Journey last year, we sort of took her for a shakedown trip.

We figured out what major changes we wanted to make to the coach.

Michael and Kathryn found the new-to-them old (100+ yrs old) building for his business, and they closed on it last year.

Their plan had been to utilize the entire building for business.


The New Old Building

But over the last 3/4 year those plans had time to morph and new ideas took root.  Rather than rent part of the space to unreliable tenants someone floated the idea of using all the space themselves — converting part of the building into residential space.

But isn’t it wonderful to have a dream so big that other people think you are crazy?  Isn’t it wonderful to dare go places no one else you know is willing to venture?


as it looked before taking ownership


as it looks recently after much of the detritus has been removed.

Sometimes buildings don’t speak to us immediately.  Sometimes a building needs to know it’s fate is safe in the hands of the new owner before it will surrender up it’s secrets and tell you just what it wants to be. Once their building started talking it nearly scared the pants off them! Our daughter and Son-in-Law have a big job ahead of them.  The renovations to the old structure and making plans on how to retool the space for their future business and family needs are a job big enough that a lot of folks would never even try what our kids are up to.

There’s room for fear, there’s room for doubt, there’s room for city inspections and zoning worries.  They will face financial binds, they will learn to be more creative with their plans. But most of all they are building more of a life together.  After 20 years of marriage they are starting off on a new and exciting adventure.

The reason I bring all of this up at the moment is some of these things would not have happened if our house had sold right away.  Michael would have gone ahead with his first plan to utilize the entire building for business and he would have poured a lot of money into walls and renovations so that a tenant could use part of the building for their business and bring in some cashflow while Michael used the rest of the building.  All while continuing to pay real estate taxes and expenses on the home they own in Bay View.  And, had they decided to change plans in midstream — to decide at a later date to switch over to a mixed use building — then all those renovations would have been money down the drain.

It took time for the idea of tackling this huge project to percolate through their brains.  It took time to formulate workable plans for a mixed use building.  It all took time. Time they would not have had if our school sold quickly.

Sure, there have been days when Peggy and I wished our house would have sold the first week it was on the market.  It didn’t. We have had our days and night of frustration and impatience.  All the while that was going on in us, the kids had time to think.  Time they used very well it would seem.  We have lived with the ups of waiting for the next showing, and taking the buyers through the property (which the first couple buyers never even saw all of — because there was no one here to guide them through all 21 spaces) And after the showings we have lived with the downs or waiting, and waiting, and waiting.  We have had interested parties with no money; we have had lookey-loos; we have had snobs come through who never should have viewed the property in the first place — what they wanted clearly was not what we were selling. We have gone round and round on the real estate merry-go-round.  And while we were doing that our daughter and son-in-law had time to think and plan and dream big dreams.


The Roof at the New-Old building

Isn’t it wonderful to have a dream so big that other people think you are crazy?  Isn’t it wonderful to dare go places no one else you know is willing to venture?

When we bought the school people thought we were crazy.  I guess crazy runs in the family.

I’m just happy our kids have the courage to dream big dreams and to step out on faith to make their dreams a reality.

Oh, I might have liked to be a former homeowner…but I’m glad that they have had the time to see the light at the end of their tunnel.


Port Isabel Lighthouse

This image is a couple years old but I had time to work on it recently.

Constructed in 1852, the Point Isabel Lighthouse was built to protect and guide ships through Brazos Santiago Pass and the barrier islands. In 1952, the Lighthouse was opened as a State Park and remains the only lighthouse on the Texas Gulf coast open to the public. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage which is on the grounds of the Lighthouse, is open to the public and houses the Chamber of Commerce and the Port Isabel Visitors Center.

Port Isabel Lighthouse

Images, Old Diary

Mauve Over Paris


The Mauve Hour is an identifiable entity, occurring twice each day just before sun up/down and lasting (usually) 30-45 minutes.  It’s that time when the sun’s light hits most obliquely across the earth’s surface and abounding in warm red, yellow, and orange tones.  This shot was taken in early July at 9:45 p.m. The light over Paris is always extraordinary, but this shot, shortly after sundown always takes my breath.