Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The fascinating history of my home

So.... in 1921, the second owner of my home accidentally shot himself to death, in the living room, while handling his pistol.

His wife and children were playing in the front yard when they heard the shot fired, turned, and saw him fall across the bed. His mother-in-law was in the backyard at the time. He died shortly after his wife reached his side, which is to say, it was a rather brutal shot to the stomach.

The story was on the front page of The Houston Post:

Here's a closer look:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Big Daddy

About a year ago it occurred to me that I needed a truck. *NEED* This is not a "want"--it is a necessity. It's simply too difficult to haul sheets of drywall in a sports coupe, let alone impossible to haul a yard of soil, bricks, plywood or whatever is needed on any particular day.

So I began the search, only to discover that trucks are OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive.

Heated leather seats? Add $10,000.
Navigation? Add more $$
Orange exterior? Rare.
Premium sound system? Virtually nonexistent. (No, Bose speakers do NOT count)
Sexy interior? Completely nonexistent in pickups.

What could possibly be more discouraging? My trade-in, which had all of the above, was valued at a pitiful $4,000. And that was before the front suspension went out ($3,000 repair).

My car, nicknamed 'Ginger'
My car's interior

So I eyed all the vehicle resale websites for 6 months, seeking something I could finance. Zip, zero, nada. Everything that looked good online turned out to be flooded, have < 150,000 miles, have a crappy Triton engine, or simply be out of my price range (thanks, law school loans...)

Then one day I saw that a local dealership had a GMC Sierra for $11,000. Having no idea the condition of the truck, I stopped in to investigate. It was dirty, it had cloth seats, lacked all of the above preferences, but was steal of a deal. So we negotiated and I signed a price agreement for $10,000. We went to finance, and the deal ended there. Despite superb credit, the banks weren't willing to finance a 9 year old truck with 130,000 miles on it--at least not for a reasonable APR. I walked, said 'give me a night to think about it.'

The dealership called back with an offer that cut the interest rate in half. Now they had my attention.

The next morning, the AC compressor went out on my car. It's 100+ degrees out, 100% humidity. Utterly miserable. This lasted one morning. I called the dealership back, soaked from the 15 minute drive to work, "Get the papers ready, I'm coming in to sign."

So poor Ginger is off to the auction, and I'm at home with 'Bog Daddy' as my neighbors have named him:

Saturday, July 22, 2017


The neighbors and I secretly plotted a welcome home prank for our buddy Alex and his wife while they were vacationing in Florida. {Mwahahahaha!}

They arrived back to a hundred flamingos that had followed them home!

A few days later, Alex texted, Your extension cord and lights are under the blue tarp. Not sure what to do with the pink birds yet

I'll come get them after work today, I replied.

Mischief got the best of him. As I pulled up into my driveway, I caught him red-handed with a mischievous grin on his face—much like the grinch who stole Christmas— practically rolling in laughter on my driveway. Alex had just relocated the last flamingo to my yard!

they were in the compost pile:

drinking water:

on the front doorknob:

and yes, these two were even doing the birds and the bees:

Saturday, May 13, 2017


He found an unpleasant surprise in the concrete... chain link fence was used as a poor man's rebar 

But the job is done! A few hiccups: The guys overloaded the trailer, causing it to get 2 flat tires. We also discovered that part of the driveway had concrete 2' deep, so we just jackhammered off the top and covered the rest with dirt. All-in-all we loaded and dropped off 13 tons of concrete over the course of 2 weeks. The remaining rubble I gave away for free on Craigslist and I gave the metal shed to a neighbor. Exhausting job.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Slytherin' along

A neighbor in Broadmoor posted this photo to the Nextdoor app (kinda like Facebook, but for neighborhoods)

I couldn't resist making a meme out of it:

and yes, that's a live snake. From the looks of it, either a ball python or a rat snake.

And what could make a photo of a giant snake slithering along a wrought-iron fence in the neighborhood even more glorious? {or terrifying} that a kid snapped the photo on his walk home from school.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A glance back in time: Vintage Postcards from the Houston Packing Company

These postcards were made for the Houston Packing Company, a local meatpacking company which included a canning factory. They were printed in Germany by the publisher Raphael Tuck & Sons.

"Friend of my soul! This goblet sip...." (1905) Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries:

"Here's to one, and only one,...." (1905) Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries:
"There's always a song to the future." (1905) Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries:

"God made man Frail as a bubble...." (1905) Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries:

"Yesterday's yesterday while to-day's here...." (1905) Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries:

"Here's to the American Eagle:...." (1905) Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries:

Monday, April 3, 2017

New Toy!

Got my slick new SawStop 36" Professional Cabinet Saw assembled!

The safety feature on this saw is absolutely incredible. I figured it was worth the investment, since, what's the cost of a finger? Certainly more than the saw!

Sunday, March 26, 2017


My blogs been fairly quiet recently because I've been doing a major amount of landscaping in the backyard. Here's a summary of all that's been done:

  • Buried low voltage landscape lighting lines
  • Pulled up uneven brick pathway tree roaches were living in
  • Got rid of remaining junk pile
  • Installed hose bib for backyard

  • sledgehammered up, not one, not two, but THREE layers of concrete sidewalk—laid one on top of the other 

  • Installed backyard pathway
  • Sloped terrain away from pathway
  • Created swales and berms using remaining clay from dumptruck
  • Tilled soil + laid topsoil + laid grass around pathway

  • Split up bucket of ginger, created bed and planted along back of house

  • Prepped and laid topsoil + grass along side of neighbors house
  • Dug drainage trench along driveway + filled it with paving stone

  • Cleared out brush for clear line of site to 200 year old water oak

  • Graded landscape so terrain slopes away from house (this has solved the pool of water issue under the house)
  • Planted a Texas Vitex in the front

  • and saved a baby toad

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Kitchen dreaming

I photoshopped a mock-up of how I'd ultimately like the kitchen to look. It's based on the fabulous work of Bungalow Revival here in Houston, which does a tremendous job of remodeling kitchens in historic homes.

I plan to close up the doorway into the hallway, build kitchen cabinets along that wall and install my new Viking stove over there too with a nice range hood. I'll also be adding a dishwasher and moving the laundry into the back corner. Let's not forget my little screamer, Hanai, who is always in the middle of the floor for you to trip over.

But, reality check.
Right now it looks like a bomb went off in my kitchen: