Family, Minimalism

About It’s Approved…


I’ve had some inquiries about the nature of the building that Michael and Kathryn have purchased.  To I decided to provide a little history (as little as I know)

The building is pre-1900 and for quite a few years it has been nothing more than storage for machine tools.  The former owner of the building has been  a seller of machine tools (lathes, presses, etc.) for many years.

In it’s early life the building housed a magnet factory.

This image Michael found and here’s his caption:

Just found this online – 1942 Popular Mechanics article . Publicity shot of a woman in iron-soled shoes suspended by a Dings Magnetic Separator roller . She’s hanging from the back crane , pretty much where it is parked now . Great piece of 2424 So. Graham history !

The interior is really three long bays.  The ‘kids’ residence will be the 1/3 to the right in the photo, the reamining 2/3 will be used for Mike’s auto and furniture shop.

Old Diary

Happy Birthday Peg

my wife's head

May 7th…. the day that will go down in infamy!

Well, not INFAMY….

But it is my Sweetie’s birthday today.  Not that she allows for having any more birthdays!  And we don’t talk about numbers either.  We’re retired you know — that’s all that’s important.  We’re both still breathing!

No huge plans today.  Get the lawnmower out so she can cut the grass. (no smart-aleck comments from the peanut gallery) I have to air-up the flat tire on the snowblower and roll it down the ramp into the basement.  With a little luck I’ll get Journey over here today and start on faucets after I do some trimming on our wisteria which is taking over the arch at the end of the sidewalk.  Just as we planned but it does need a little more training that we’ve given it thus far.

Word was that last night the buyer and his agent were to meet to discuss the results of the home inspection.  Fingers crossed on that account.  Still waiting to see the loan commitment letter from his bank.  Things seem to be moving forward positively — so we’re still optimistic even after being at precisely this point 1 year ago with a different buyer and a different bank.  Think Positive!

And the fact that we are heading into our fourth straight day of 60 degree weather and sun… is helping a lot!  Spring may finally have arrived.

We did visit Boerner Botanical Gardens yesterday.

We are clearly a couple weeks, or maybe a few weeks behind Chicago. And the fact that Milwaukee doesn’t have the budget that Chicago does also means that there aren’t as many fresh greenhouse plantings here, but it’s a nice walk-through.  Being a Milwaukeean most of my life has meant a lot of trips to Whitnall Park and the Boerner gardens.  They’ve never been a huge public attraction here but during the middle of the growing season they are quite beautiful.  And it’s never bad to get out into nature and hear the birds and other critters.

numeral 31

Thirty One More Days?

Talk to you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Linoleum Engraving

As you know, we’re out of town “filling time” in anticipation of the buyer’s home inspection tomorrow. So, consider this a meaningful filler.

On the annoying side we were expecting an amendment to the sales contract extending the buyer’s option to inspect.  We’ve been expecting that since Wednesday morning.  The buyer signed off on it Wednesday evening. The Buyer’s agent signed off on it yesterday.  So when did we get it?  The Buyer’s agent’s email to our agent is time stamped 11:14 today — on Friday.  I just don’t get people like that.  What’s so hard about delivering a form in a timely manner?  Ah, it’s the world we live in.  We have all these fancy electronic devices and we can’t manage to handle a piece of paper….. argh.

Skilled Hands

Camera Love

I’ve never been great with my hands. Oh, I can type fast — I love typing because its the only way I can communicate as fast as I can think.  But other than that, I don’t do a lot with my hands.

I wrote a while ago about trying to do some water-colors, or sketching.  I haven’t done much about that yet; in my present frame of mind I’m not in a mood to sit and draw or paint.  But what I have been doing is looking for other avenues to use my creative urges.

When I was young I used to do a fair amount of wood carving. I don’t think I want to return to wood carving, but I like sharp edges and I like simple lines.  So I have turned my thoughts to something I only tried once — while in school — and I enjoyed it a lot.

Linoleum Engraving

Lino Arches

I have learned that I am more of a two dimensional artist than a three dimensional one.  Theoretically there might not be a huge difference but practically — to me — the difference is monumental.  I have always loved the look of pen and ink drawings as well as block prints such as these two examples.

It might take a while before I try my hand.  As I said, I’m looking for ideas.  My hands are still firm and I’m not old enough to be shaky — so its entirely possible I might do well with a gouge in my hand rather than a knife.  After we get out on the road I’ll have some time to play and I’ll give a try to see what the results look like — if they are worth developing I might give it a try.

We started making travel plans in detail, and once we know if the deal is going through I’ll fill you in.  We are considering a summer of 2 weeks stays.  Last year we did a few 14 day stays but they were interspersed with as many shorter stops.  Our intent this summer is to see how well we do in Journey for longer periods of time — anticipating that we may winter in places for several months at a time.  With two weeks in one place I might get past that itchy desire to see what’s around me, (communities, people, wildlife) and settle into a hobby other than working on images.

I sometimes think that I took up photography just because I wasn’t great with my hands and a single image did not take hours or days to create.  Oh, they can take that much time. There have been more than a few images that I have labored on in Post-Production for days (tweaking contrast and color, adding elements or removing them, layering effects into an image).  But in general photography is the act of a moment.  Engraving, sketching, and painting are all processes that consume far more time for much less output.  Because I have always been conscious of the passage of time I guess I have wanted to put my hand and energy into activities that produced more (quantity) tangible results.

So now, when I have the time to play, and I am not concerned about selling product at an affordable price, activities that take longer to do have more interest to me. We’ll see what mobility brings.  Maybe I’ll take a much different view of life once I get past this selling stage…..

Anyway…. talk to you tomorrow.

Thirty Four Days

Thirty Four Days

Minimalism, Old Diary

One Hurdle Overcome

numeral 36

36 days till closing

Talk about hormonal downs and ups! Wednesday was full of them.

Loan appraisals are less about whether the property to be purchased is worth the dollars lent, and more about whether the lender could get their money back should the buyer default.  As a result, a buyer’s appraiser looks very carefully at the nature of the building and whether they feel there is a market for such buildings.  In our case, our very unique building could be seen as a lending risk.  Our agent, Julie, did a good job of covering us with fact and honest and after a very fitful night and waking up grumpy we got a call from Julie around 9:30 to tell us that the appraisal went just fine and the lender is satisfied with the building’s risk level.

One Big Hurdle Down

Vector Athlete running and jumping over hurdles

And one more big hurdle ahead, on Sunday.  And our solution for coping with that one is to….

Run Away….

Well, at least for an evening.

The inspection is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. and I’m sure if we are here anticipating getting up and out of the house by 8 a.m. that neither of us is going to get a good night’s sleep.  So, we’re going to head out of town for the night to a place we’ve stayed before with a decent weekend rate.

I’m not all that happy spending as much money as we have during this time but right now minding our blood pressure and making sure we don’t stroke out or some such thing is higher on our priority list than being cheap and holding onto all our nerves and stress.  As far as I’m concerned the expenses of the next 36 days go under the category of wellness care.

Chicago Botanical

We enjoyed another day at Chicago Botanical. Since our last visit it’s amazing how many flowers have broken out into full bloom.  It’s still early in the season but on a day with 76 degrees and clear skies it was good to be out and soaking up Vitamin D.

I’ll put up some images from the day after I get a chance to work on them.  Right now I owe my daughter some images that I need to get to work on.

Talk to you tomorrow. 🙂

Minimalism, Old Diary

We Have Ignition, Will We Get Liftoff?


Apollo 17 Ignition, Cape Canaveral (now called Cape Kennedy), 1972

April 23 goes down in history as a red-letter day for our family! It’s kind of odd about this week in April.  Peg’s dad died on the 24th of the month, my dad died on the 26th of the month, and now we get an offer for the house/school on the 23rd!

This morning we hot-footed it over to our agent’s office and signed off on it.

Good news:  the offer is free of home-sale contingency (the “little detail” that caused the previous sale to abort).  There are typical inspection and appraisal requirements but it’s a deal we are happy about.  The timing is perfect and the price is acceptable – God knew both our emotional and financial limits.

This has been a 16 month process.  At many times it seemed unending.  But the house across the street from us was on the market for nearly 48 months.  The last couple to view our home told us they have been trying to sell their property for a whopping 60 months.  I truly  believe that the uniqueness of this property may be the feature that got us a deal in such a relatively short time in this market.

That being so, the good things about the deal don’t erase history.  We showed so many people through our school resulting in so many trips up and down the hormonal roller coaster that there is a part of us which is afraid to embrace the offer as reality.  But, reality it is — and it’s gradually sinking in.

So, up goes the countdown timer.  Won’t you count down the days with us?  After today you can find the timer at We Have A Buyer For Our House.

numeral 44

Counting Down from 44 days to close.

What do we do for 44 days?  Well, let me tell you, we have a few things on our to-do list.

Not least of which is re-jiggering our plans for the rest of the year. But more immediately…

We need to hang out  near Cudahy for a couple weeks.  The buyer has a right to inspect the property — so someone will need to let them into the building.  Whether or not the appraiser will need access to the building has yet to be seen.  When our son-in-law bought the building for his business he never showed anyone into the building at all.  How anyone can assess the value of the property without seeing it is beyond me but I never did understand real estate.

We are two and a half weeks until heading off to Elkhart for the floor / sofa install.  And we’ll probably head to TN and GA for the two weeks they are working on Journey.  From the time we are scheduled to get Journey back from Bradd & Hall there are only two weeks until closing.  So that will be time to get Journey loaded out, clean up the house for delivery to the buyer and get our act together for what we’re doing and where we’re going for the rest of our life.


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.