Friday, August 28, 2009

August Transplanting

There's an old-timer's rule around here that says not to plant or transplant anything in months without an "R" in them-i.e. May, June, July, August. It's just too hot and dry and they can't take the shock I guess.

Given that I just removed the bushes from around the abbreviated deck and the roots were exposed, I really didn't think they it would hurt them to get them into the ground where the roots can at least be protected from the hot air.

So, I went to work on that yesterday morning. This is the method I use for all planting and transplanting, although I have no idea if it's correct. Things that I've planted this way survive, so I guess it must not be all wrong.

First I set the plants in their places then dig an outline of where the hole needs to go. Move the plant and dig the hole the dimensions of the outline. I like to dig an inch or two or 3 deeper than the plant but leave the bottom of the hole full of that much loose dirt.

Then I make what Donnie calls "mud pies" which is basically putting water in the hole then working it around with a shovel so that the water penetrates deeper into the soil. When it's all nice and gooey, fill it to the brim or as close as you can come with water and let it stand a while which allows the dirt along the sides of the hole to absorb water.

Set the plants in the hole with the remaining water and let the root ball soak it up. Leave them for about a half hour or so.

Once the root ball has absorbed a good deal of the water, I fill the hole with water all the way to the top. As the water recedes, I start adding the dirt back into the hole. Once all the dirt is back in and some of the water has absorbed into the soil, you can step on the top of the root ball and squish the roots into the soft mud.
While I haven't studied the science of this, pushing the roots into the mud would serve to eliminate air pockets as well as pushing the mud into the spaces between the roots therefore creating a better bond between the plant and the earth.

It's a theory. What can I say?

So, the bushes that started out lining the front walk made their way to the back yard, some along the fence and some around the deck. When the deck shrunk, all but one bush joined the rest at the back fence-and what a beautiful fence it is! Bless the Powells! They got their fence up and we got to take our "fence" down which is a major improvement to the view on both properties.

South side yard 2006

South side yard 2009
It's slow, but we are making progress

So, Let's recap our progress (and the neighbor's contribution) in the back yard so far....

Summer 2006

Summer 2009

You never would have known there was a good sized yard back there 3 years ago!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Mini Mini-Deck

Wait! I thought we were supposed to be done with this project by now! I guess my idea of "temporary" was different than Donnie's.

We have an outdoor wedding reception here in a week. I was thinking maybe to just attach the old handrails so that people wouldn't fall off-at least til after the wedding. Donnie clearly had an opposing idea which in fact is a much nicer, more proportional area with wider stairs and the like which I definitely approve of. It's smaller, but as I said, we aren't deck people, so if it will fit 2 chairs and the grill, it's fine by us.

My question is will he get it done before the reception next Saturday?

Donnie has 11 iron panels that he's been hauling around for several years that he'd like to use as part of the railing. The back door is also some kind of black metal security door, so it might provide some continuity. Personally, I'd like to ditch the storm door-which is the only door to the back opf the house-and put a nice wooden door on the porch. BUT, given that the porch was enclosed with big glass doors turned sideways. I guess a wood door in the middle of that probably wouldn't improve the appearance of any of it. I'm sure the previous owners loved the back porch and deck, but I think it's an eyesore.

Anyway...back to the deck. Given that we are about 5 iron panels short of being able to go all the way around the deck, we're playing with some options so that they can be spaced farther apart. It's a thought. We'll see what it might look like in real life in a day or two-I hope!

At the moment, Donnie's working on building wider stairs on the side nearest the driveway. There will also be a wide set of stairs that face the back yard. As much as we'd love to have just one set of stairs-the ones facing the back yard-we need a set that we can back the truck up to for the purposes of unloading. There are apple and pear trees in the side yard, so we'll have to keep the stairs closest to the driveway. Sigh.

Then there's the question I've been wanting to know for more than 3 years... :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

We're Not Playing with a Full Deck Anymore!

This was my "little project" for yesterday.

After months of discussion and anticipation, we finally decided we've had enough of the sticky deck. Like most things around here, the only tools that seemed to be involved in building the thing were a hammer, screw driver, and a saw-ok, and a post hole digger. There is no evidence whatsoever that a measuring tape, level, squaring tools were involved. The ocean during a hurricane has less dips and waves than this thing does. The multiple slopes did come in handy for helping the water drain out of the rugs I always cleaned on it though. So, another fine example of "interesting" craftsmanship was irritating issue #1 on our list.

Irritating issue #2 is that the deck is under a large pecan tree which drips sap all summer long. You can't sit in the chairs on the deck without first spraying the whole thing down with the hose then letting it dry or you'll be sticky or wet all over. It's just disgusting. The tree dips little drops all night so while the cats are sleeping, they're being coated with that sticky mess then you get sticky when you pet them. Not only that, but dust sticks to the sticky stuff, so they don't get to stay "cat clean" which I'm sure isn't pleasant for them.

Irritating issue #3-the crooked deck blocks that view to the back yard which is actually beginning to look like a back yard. We'd like to see more of it and less of the bowing deck.

Issue #4 is that neither of us are deck people. We're porch people-you know, something with a roof on it. Eventually, when we get the air conditioner issue resolved and get it moved to the other side of the house (not on today's agenda) we want to build a nice deep porch that runs the length of that part of the house-with an attached gazebo if we live that long.

Issue #5 is that we both hate the damn thing and want it gone. At the moment, we're working on some other things and aren't ready to build said back porch, so we really need to keep the deck-or at least part of it. Yeah, part of it sounds good!

Donnie said I could work on removing it this week, but I have plans to paint the porch all week and didn't have much to do on Sunday, so....

As part of the determination of whether we really wanted to do this, I removed the handrails and put them in their new position then arranged the chairs and stuff on the part we were going to keep. It helps to experiment. Once we had a good idea if the remaining space was going to be usable, we decided to go ahead with it.

Donnie was working on the front porch so this this little project was entirely mine and I was excited about doing it. I've been waiting for this moment for more than 3 years!

I was nice and gently pulled all the pieces loose. Most of the decking is still good and we have a few other projects we could use some wood for, at least as a temporary solution to the problem of the obnoxious neighbor kids and the mess they have going on in their yard. I'm thinking it would work great as a makeshift privacy fence although I would screw a 2"x2" full of long nails pointing upward to the top of the thing. The kids love to stand on top of our neighbor's fence and jump from it onto their trampoline. I'll be having none of that. I suspect Donnie won't let me do it though.

Once I got all the deck boards removed, it became apparent that the part I was removing was either an addition or was built in sections. Fortunately, there was already a ledger across where we wanted to stop. That made things a lot easier since we didn't have to prop the whole thing while we tried to add a ledger and hangers to the part we wanted to keep.

Here's what I found interesting. I moved the middle post to the new location and used the same rail units that were originally attached to it. Remember what I said about no measuring tape, level, or squaring tools used? Here's the proof. The deck at the new location is approximately 5 inches wider than than it was at it's old location. I suspect alcohol was involved.

This is on the south side of the house and it was sunny and hotter than the dickens yesterday, but I worked slow and steady and managed to get the extension removed, got the railings attached until next weekend when Donnie takes a break from the porch and does the finishing up. I also got the bushes dug up and moved, some holes filled, and the area that was under the deck cleaned up and hauled all the mess to the road for pickup and stacked what we want to keep. The final thing was to water the yard to encourage the burmuda to wander into the bald spots. It was a full day.

Nice huh? Anyone else notice the unsupported swag in the middle where the temporary post is? Beyond that, in the walk path, there are a couple of unexplained bulges. I took a look one day and discovered the problem. At some point when it started swagging up there, someone propped it up with a couple of 4x4s. Apparently it was their first time around because they propped the decking and not the joists. Duh.

Today I cleaned the furniture and rinsed off the deck so now we can actually sit down...until tomorrow.

Introducing the mini-deck. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fun with Astrology

While the previous personality test was geared more toward the professional, I thought it might be interesting to compare it with an astrology thing I did several years ago. I have always considered these types of things frivolous, but you know, sometimes ya just gotta peek. This was available (and still is) at and is based on your date, place, and time of birth. It's interesting in comparison with the Jung-Myers test although this one is more personal than professional. Maybe there's more to astrology than I imagine-or not. I'd say they hit about 50/50.

Positions of Planets at Birth:
Sun position is 19 deg. 54 min. of Sag
Moon position is 12 deg. 41 min. of Sco
Mercury position is 9 deg. 03 min. of Cap
Venus position is 16 deg. 11 min. of Cap
Mars position is 5 deg. 32 min. of Cap
Jupiter position is 9 deg. 38 min. of Ari
Saturn position is 18 deg. 39 min. of Aqu
Uranus position is 10 deg. 04 min. of Vir
Neptune position is 16 deg. 37 min. of Sco
Pluto position is 14 deg. 13 min. of Vir

Section 1: How You Approach Life and How You Appear To Others

Aquarius Rising:

Forward-looking and progressive, you are a person who supports change, innovation, and human advancement, and you are often strongly committed to a humanitarian cause or social improvement. You are extremely aware of the interconnection and interdependence of all people, and are always relating personal issues to some larger framework. You see the political or social ramifications of personal actions, and you wish to contribute something of value to the world, or at least to your community or group. The ideals of equality, fairness, human rights, brotherhood, social justice, etc. color your whole outlook and approach to life. You are truly interested in the good of the whole and not only your own personal well-being.

Sometimes you may overlook or ignore your own and others' personal needs, desires, and feelings, especially if they do not conform to your ideals of how one SHOULD feel or act. Though you have little patience for conservative narrow-mindedness, you yourself are sometimes dogmatic about your beliefs and ideologies.

You are attracted to the avant-garde, the latest advances in human thought and development, and you are eclectic and cosmopolitan in your tastes. You may consider yourself a "global citizen" rather than claiming a narrow, limited identification based on nationality, race, familial heritage, etc. You are strongly influenced by your peer group and the flavor of the times in which you grew up, more so than by parental or family influences. You are involved and active in groups, community efforts, cultural and progressive movements.

On a personal level, you are friendly and express a kind of impersonal good will towards others. You probably have many acquaintances but few really close friends, and much of your closeness with others is based on a sharing of common ideals and principles, rather than on emotional ties. Others see you as a good friend and comrade, who is objective, fair, and rather detached emotionally. You do not often show your emotions, and may be unsure how to respond to others' emotional expression, for you tend to be very rational.

You are also very independent and refuse to be possessed by any individual. You are not comfortable with traditional sexual roles and are inclined to have "liberated" views about marriage, relationships, sharing of child rearing responsibilities, etc. You need to have a life outside of the personal, domestic sphere and to be involved with people on a broader scale. The nurturing of family ties, and close, deep, personal sharing may take a back seat to your work or outside social involvements.

Section 2: The Inner You: Your Real Motivation

Sun in Sagittarius:

You are a gambler and an adventurer at heart, one who loves to take risks, to discover and explore new worlds, and to take the untried path rather than the safe, reliable one. You are an independent soul, freedom-loving, and often very restless. You need a lifestyle that provides opportunities for travel, movement, change, and meeting new people. A steady routine which offers much in the way of security but little in the way of space and freedom is odious to you.

To you, life is a journey, an adventure, endlessly interesting and rich with possibilities, and it may be difficult for you to decide where to focus your attention and efforts. You probably traveled around and experimented with many different paths before you settled on a particular career. Or you may go from one project to the next, for once the challenge and vital interest is gone, you are very quick to move on. Commitment, discipline, focus, and concentration are not your strong points. You can be irresponsible and disinclined to take on the burdens and limitations of adult life.

An incurable optimist, you have big dreams, aspirations, and hopes for the future and are usually pursuing some distant goal. You have a great deal of faith and trust in life and failures don't crush your spirit. You always bounce back from disappointments, often with another bright dream or scheme. You have a sporting, playful attitude toward life and are philosophical about your mistakes. You have the ability to sense future trends, to see the big picture, and you like to theorize and speculate. However, attending to all of the details and practical requirements of implementing your theories is bothersome to you.

You express yourself in a very open, direct, and straightforward manner and are often blunt and tactless as well. Because you do not take yourself too seriously, you may not realize how deeply your candid statements can wound more sensitive souls. In fact, though you may not realize it, your insensitivity and lack of understanding regarding others' feelings is probably one of your worst faults.

You do enjoy friendship and comradery, but you need freedom also and do not do well with a possessive, clinging, or emotionally demanding partner. You are quite generous yourself, and heartily dislike pettiness in others. Someone who shares your ideals, your sense of fun, and your zest for life would be the right companion for you.

Section 3: Mental Interests and Abilities

Mercury in Capricorn:

Clear, objective, and realistic, you are unimpressed by exaggerated claims or promises. You insist upon being shown facts to back up any statement you hear, and your natural skepticism often borders on cynicism. You approach problems clearly and rationally and maintain your poise and objectivity even in the midst of critical situations. Anyone seeking your advice is certain to get an unemotional and unbiased assessment of their situation, and you therefore make a good arbitrator or judge. You are thorough, conscientious, and disciplined in your thinking, and have an aptitude for business, organization, and administration. You are also a good strategist, and will plan and patiently follow a realistic course which will lead to your eventual success. Serious-minded and studious, you enjoy quiet time alone for thinking or reading.

Section 4: Emotions: Moods, Feelings, Romance

Moon in Scorpio:

Secretive and inclined to brooding silences, it is difficult for others to really know your inner core, for you trust and open yourself to very few. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and to relinquish control in relationships is not easy for you.

You have intense, passionate loves and hates and are a jealously loyal and protective friend - or a fearsome foe. You have a nasty habit of holding on to past hurts, resentments, and guilt - and to keep such feelings to yourself. It is important for you to learn to forgive and let go, as well as to express your feelings openly and directly, rather than hiding or repressing them.

You are not content with superficial appearances and are always probing beneath the surface of things for hidden motives. You have a great deal of emotional depth.

What's Your Personality Type?

On to something a little less depressing...

A color test on my favorite message board prompted this one. According to that little exercise, I'm a nympho with a whole slew of personal insecurities who insists on being a victim. Interesting, but not even close. I wonder who comes up with this stuff?

So, I was thinking about some personality type exercises that they did at my last job for the purposes of understanding each type of personality better so that they could enhance our team interaction. This was provided by the human resources office and was pretty interesting. I was a contractor, so I wasn't included in the session, but got to have a look at the materials and results and include myself in the group a little later on. I don't think anyone got the point of the whole exercise, but I could see where, if properly used, you could get the best performance out of a team simply by aligning each persons natural personality assets with the types of tasks in which they have a propensity to excel.

Knowing your personality type has value in other ways as well. By identifying your type, you can begin to understand your areas of strengths or weaknesses and use them to your advantage or begin to take steps to control negative behaviors that come natural to your type if you choose. Of course, as one who has to analyze, I had advance warning about my character traits before I even knew there was a test. :) I wish I had realized some of these things when I was young. Maybe I would have chosen a different career path! Ya live, ya learn.

There are a couple of good tests out there but this is the one I found with the least confusing questions. To be successful, you have to answer the questions with the truth, not what you want the truth to be. HumanMetrics Personality Test

I'm an INTJ which was confirmed years ago when I took a similar test for the purposes of possibly changing careers. It's the only time in my life that I get to be a Mastermind. :)

From "The Rationals"

Rational Portrait of the Mastermind (INTJ)

All Rationals are good at planning operations, but Masterminds are head and shoulders above all the rest in contingency planning. Complex operations involve many steps or stages, one following another in a necessary progression, and Masterminds are naturally able to grasp how each one leads to the next, and to prepare alternatives for difficulties that are likely to arise any step of the way. Trying to anticipate every contingency, Masterminds never set off on their current project without a Plan A firmly in mind, but they are always prepared to switch to Plan B or C or D if need be.

Masterminds are rare, comprising no more than, say, one percent of the population, and they are rarely encountered outside their office, factory, school, or laboratory. Although they are highly capable leaders, Masterminds are not at all eager to take command, preferring to stay in the background until others demonstrate their inability to lead. Once they take charge, however, they are thoroughgoing pragmatists. Masterminds are certain that efficiency is indispensable in a well-run organization, and if they encounter inefficiency-any waste of human and material resources-they are quick to realign operations and reassign personnel. Masterminds do not feel bound by established rules and procedures, and traditional authority does not impress them, nor do slogans or catchwords. Only ideas that make sense to them are adopted; those that don't, aren't, no matter who thought of them. Remember, their aim is always maximum efficiency.

In their careers, Masterminds usually rise to positions of responsibility, for they work long and hard and are dedicated in their pursuit of goals, sparing neither their own time and effort nor that of their colleagues and employees. Problem-solving is highly stimulating to Masterminds, who love responding to tangled systems that require careful sorting out. Ordinarily, they verbalize the positive and avoid comments of a negative nature; they are more interested in moving an organization forward than dwelling on mistakes of the past.

Masterminds tend to be much more definite and self-confident than other Rationals, having usually developed a very strong will. Decisions come easily to them; in fact, they can hardly rest until they have things settled and decided. But before they decide anything, they must do the research. Masterminds are highly theoretical, but they insist on looking at all available data before they embrace an idea, and they are suspicious of any statement that is based on shoddy research, or that is not checked against reality.

Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Dwight D. Eisenhower, General Ulysses S. Grant, Frideriche Nietsche, Niels Bohr, Peter the Great, Stephen Hawking, John Maynard Keynes, Lise Meitner, Ayn Rand and Sir Isaac Newton are examples of Rational Masterminds.


I think they got it right.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our Fabulous Historic District

I know you can't hear the sarcasm, but it's definitely there. So here's what went on in our historic district yesterday.

This was one of the oldest houses in town. I went into it a few weeks ago. I was surprised that the interior condition wasn't nearly as bad was the exterior would indicate.

And here it is today.

Great huh?

I can hear the house next door to it coming down right now. This one was my favorite.

I loved this house. It was a good house. The whole thing-floors, walls, and ceilings were made of solid tongue and groove old growth pine. It needed a heavy handed cleaning and some TLC and it would have outlasted the newest of new houses that are being built today. We made a cash offer on it last year, but decided we should wait to see what my job was going to do before counter-offering. It's a good thing that we held onto the cash, but I really wish we would have looked into a small loan for the place. Donnie wanted the house that went down yesterday. We could have bought them both for less than the cost of a small economy car. I am just kicking myself for not pursuing it.

Both of these houses are on the street behind us and are part of our back yard view. In their place, I have been told there will be 2 $400,000 houses going up. When I asked whether these houses would be new modern looking houses or whether they would be houses in a style that would blend in with the other houses in the historic district, I was told they would be new modern styled houses. Great. I was also told that "it's a small town" which in English means that if someone has the money to build a bunch of ridiculous houses right smack in the middle of the historic district to use for the purposes of housing severely mentally retarded residents in a multi-unit situation, then so be it. If I remember right, the council voted to have no more multi-unit buildings allowed in the historic district. Um, hello?

So, the neighbor behind us was venting her frustration when we first got wind of what was going to become of the properties. She's very annoyed that there will be two houses of minimally supervised government funded severely retarded people living 2 doors down from her. There are already a few crazy people that live close by and they have been known to come into people's houses and just wander around. This is not the kind of thing an already declining neighborhood needs. The mayor's response was that the $400,000 houses will increase the value of her property. Well, maybe that would be so, but how desirable is it to live 2 doors down from a nut house?

To top all that off, the house across the street from the same neighbor burned down several months ago. The property has sold. Come to find out there will be multi-unit apartments on that lot. Ok, let's see. She has two nuthouses two doors down and an apartment complex going in across the street. One block from her house is one of the 5 government subsidized housing complexes (aka: the projects). Tell me again how the value of her property is going to go up with all these government and commercial buildings going up within spitting distance of her house? And she lives directly behind us, so it isn't going to help things at our place either. Course, we live next door to a funeral home, so it may not matter in the long run. There are plenty of vacant and abandoned properties that are not salvageable and vacant land around town that isn't in the historic district. I want to know why they didn't pursue some of those avenues. Why did they have to take the things that could be saved???

What really gripes my ass is that they are able to make all these accommodations for the deterioration of the historic district, but when I wanted to put the fabulous mailbox outside our fence next to the side walk it wasn't permitted because "it's in the historic district."

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against the mentally challenged having nice places to live, that's not my complaint, but I really wish they wouldn't have destroyed part of the historic district to do it. And yes, while I realize that the average purchaser of a property gets to decide how they want to use it, I don't think the city should have allowed either the new homes or the apartment complex to operate in the historic district. Especially since the one thing that Trenton likes to boast about is the historic district. Interesting isn't it? I've decided their "historic district" is comprised of the 7 houses they deem beautiful-ours being one of them. Everything else is just old worthless crap.

I happened to be in the Mayor's office today and asked if he had learned the status of the Neil House that I posted a few weeks ago. Apparently, they're still waiting for the judge to decide. He heard there was some discussion about selling off the parts of the house for the money. Then of course, they'll build yet another parking lot. From a historical perspective, that house has more known history and is part of the story of the town's Civil War battle (which is a big deal around here) probably more than any other house in town. If they choose a parking lot over a house that could be fabulous and with history to boot, I'm going to be beyond disgusted. The thing that kills me about the Neil House is that the church that owns it says they are growing. When I asked about that growth, it's young people. Young people that are going to be leaving town to go to college. Young people that will be moving away when they graduate because we don't have any jobs here for them. Does it not occur to anyone else that as soon as these kids get their licenses they're going to hit the road and never look back? They're not going to need a parking spot.

So, back to the "historic district." Every year the owners of those 7 houses are approached to be in the Chamber of Commerce Historic Homes Tour with a target participation of 5. We've been in all of them and a couple more. But here's the deal. If one more salvageable old house goes down for some stupid or greedy reason and the city is involved in the decision, our house will never be on another fund-raising tour again nor can they use any photos on the city's promotional website. If they can't be sympathetic to the things that are important to us, I can't be bothered with being sympathetic to their need to make money from our hard work. Our friends on the next street over have decided this as well. Selfish? Hell yeah. But from what I hear, our house is what draws a good bit of the crowd. Wonder how ticket sales will go if we both decline? I know it's petty, but that 's my private protest.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Have You Visited the Library Lately?

A couple of years ago, my friend Tammy sent me a link to the online library for our state. We're both kind of addicted to books and I had borrowed a couple of her audio books, so when she discovered that there were audio books online at the library she sent me the link. Finally, I can "read" when I'm doing housework, driving, mowing the grass, painting, etc! It's fantastic!

Ever since I became a homeowner (and all of my houses needed work of some kind) I haven't had time to just sit and read. When I read, I'm obsessive about it and won't put the book down until I'm finished, so I hadn't read anything in years. I've loved to read since I was a kid and I really missed not being able to do it. While I'm working on things around the house, my mind was always busy pondering things-the state of the town, how to bring jobs and tourism in, how to save the old houses, how to reverse the negative trend that's going on in our country right now, where to find a job in my field when there aren't any out there-you know, things that I have little or no control of. I generally consider these ponderings stressful and non-productive. While these thoughts often help me understand why things are how they are, it doesn't give me much peace.

That's where the books come in. I get to listen to stories I wouldn't have time to read and while I'm listening, my mind is engaged in following the story and NOT engaged in plans to save the world and not bored with the sometimes mind-numbing work that needs to be done around here. While I'm being productive, I'm also learning details of other places, professions, diseases, foods, etc.

There are people who think I'm pretty smart. To them I say, I read a lot and ask a lot of questions. :)

Check your library. You can check them out and download them free onto your PC, or MP3 device. When Donnie and I drive to Nashville, I always download a couple onto my MP3 player and plug it onto the car system and we listen to it the whole way there and back. Makes for a short and more interesting ride and when we get there, we hate to get out of the car! :)

Here's some of the books I've read in the last 2 years. There are more, but I forgot to put them on my list for several months after my laptop crashed. Most of them were good and probably less than a half dozen weren't worth the effort. Not bad overall. They're mostly detective stories. My favorite is the Pendergast series after that there are several ties for second.

Author Title Series
Aaron Elkins Turncoat
Agatha Christie The Secret of Chimneys Battle, 1
Agatha Christie Seven Dials Mystery Battle, 2
Agatha Christie Death in the Clouds Poirot
Agatha Christie Mysterious Affair at Styles Poirot, 1
Agatha Christie Hickory Dickory Dock Poirot, 36
Agatha Christie The Big Four Poirot, 5
Agatha Christie Mystery of the Blue Train Poirot, 6
Agatha Christie Peril at End House Poirot, 8
Agatha Christie Murder on the Orient Express Poirot, 9
Agatha Christie The Body in the Library Marple, 3
Agatha Christie A Murder is Announced Marple, 5
Agatha Christie A Pocket Full of Rye Marple, 7
Agatha Christie 4:50 from Paddingotn Marple, 8
Agatha Christie And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie They Came to Baghdad
Amanda Quick The Paid Companion
Anne Perry A Christmas Beginning Monk
Anne Perry A Christmas Visitor Monk
Anne Perry Funeral in Blue Monk, 12
Anne Perry Death of a Stranger Monk, 13
Anne Perry The Shifting Tide Monk, 14
Anne Perry Dark Assassin Monk, 15
Anne Perry A Christmas Guest Pitt
Anne Perry A Christmas Journey Pitt
Anne Perry Execution Dock Pitt, 16
Anne Perry Bedford Square Pitt, 19
Anne Perry Southhampton Row Pitt, 22
Anne Perry Seven Dials Pitt, 23
Anne Perry Long Spoon Lane Pitt, 24
Anne Perry Buckingham Palace Gardens Pitt, 25
Anne Perry No Graves As Yet WWI, 1
Anne Perry Shoulder the Sky WWI, 2
Anne Perry Angels in the Gloom WWI, 3
Anne Perry At Some Disputed Barricade WWI, 4
Anne Perry We Shall Not Sleep WWI, 5
Anne Perry A Christmas Secret
Brad Meltzer The Book of Fate
Brad Meltzer The Book of Lies
Brad Meltzer The Millionaires
Bruce Alexander Rules of Engagement
C.J.Box Blue Heaven
Dan Brown The Da Vinci Code
Daniel Hecht City of Masks Cree Black, 1
Daniel Hecht Land of Echoes Cree Black, 2
Daniel Hecht Bones of the Barbary Coast Cree Black, 3
Daniel Hecht Puppets Mo Ford, 1
Daniel Hecht Skull Session Mo Ford, 2
Daniel Silva The English Assassin Gabriel Allon, 2
Daniel Silva The Confessor Gabriel Allon, 3
Daniel Silva A Death in Vienna Gabriel Allon, 4
Daniel Silva Prince of Fire Gabriel Allon, 5
Daniel Silva The Messenger Gabriel Allon, 6
Daniel Silva The Secret Servant Gabriel Allon, 7
Daniel Silva Moscow Rules Gabriel Allon, 8
Daniel Silva The Unlikely Spy
David Lindsey The Face of the Assassin
Dean Koontz Prodigal Son Frankenstein, 1
Dean Koontz City of Night Frankenstein, 2
Dean Koontz Fear Nothing Moonlight Bay, 1
Dean Koontz Seize the Night Moonlight Bay, 2
Dean Koontz Odd Thomas Odd Thomas, 1
Dean Koontz Brother Odd Odd Thomas, 3
Dean Koontz By the Light of the Moon
Dean Koontz From the Corner of His Eye
Dean Koontz Intensity
Dean Koontz Midnight
Dean Koontz One Door Away From Heaven
Dean Koontz The Darkest Evening of the Year
Dean Koontz The Good Guy
Dean Koontz The House of Thunder
Dean Koontz Ticktock
Dean Koontz Velocity
Dean Koontz Winter Moon
Deborah Crombie A Share In Death Kincaid/James, 1
Deborah Crombie In a Dark House Kincaid/James, 10
Deborah Crombie All Shall Be Well Kincaid/James, 2
Deborah Crombie Leave the Grave Green Kincaid/James, 3
Deborah Crombie Mourn Not Your Dead Kincaid/James, 4
Deborah Crombie And Justice There is None Kincaid/James, 8
Deborah Crombie Now May You Weep Kincaid/James, 9
Donna Leon Blood From a Stone Guido Brunetti
Donna Leon Doctored Evidence Guido Brunetti
Donna Leon Suffer the Little Children Guido Brunetti
Donna Leon Through a Glass, Darkly Guido Brunetti
Douglas Preston Blasphemy
Douglas Preston Mount Dragon
Douglas Preston Tyrannosaur Canyon
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child Relic Pendergast 1
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child Reliquary Pendergast 2
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child Still Life With Crows Pendergast 3
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child The Cabinet of Curiosities Pendergast 4
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child Brimstone Pendergast 5
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child Dance of Death Pendergast 6
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child Book Of the Dead Pendergast 7
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child The Wheel Of Darkness Pendergast 8
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child Cemetery Dance Pendergast 9
Elizabeth George With No One As Witness Lynley, 12
Elizabeth George Careless In Red Lynley, 14
Erik Larson The Devil in the White City
Faye Kellerman The Burnt House Decker/Lazarus, 16
James Ellroy The Black Dahlia
James Patterson Jack & Jill Alex Cross
James Patterson Mary, Mary Alex Cross
James Patterson Pop Goes the Weasel Alex Cross
James Patterson Violets Are Blue Alex Cross
James Patterson Along Came a Spider Alex Cross, 1
James Patterson London Bridges Alex Cross, 10
James Patterson Cross Alex Cross, 12
James Patterson Double Cross Alex Cross, 13
James Patterson Kiss the Girls Alex Cross, 2
James Patterson Cat & Mouse Alex Cross, 4
James Patterson Roses Are Red Alex Cross, 6
James Patterson Four Blind Mice Alex Cross, 8
James Patterson The Big Bad Wolf Alex Cross, 9
James Patterson Step on a Crack Bennett, 1
James Patterson Run for Your Life Bennett, 2
James Patterson 1st to Die Women's Murder Club, 1
James Patterson 2nd Chance Women's Murder Club, 2
James Patterson 3rd Degree Women's Murder Club, 3
James Patterson 4th of July Women's Murder Club, 4
James Patterson 5th Horseman Women's Murder Club, 5
James Patterson 6th Target Women's Murder Club, 6
James Patterson 7th Heaven Women's Murder Club, 7
James Patterson Honeymoon
James Patterson Judge & Jury
James Patterson Lifeguard
James Patterson The Jester
James Patterson The Quickie
James Patterson The Thomas Berryman Number
James Patterson When the Wind Blows
James Patterson You've Been Warned
Jane Austen Persuasion
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice
John Grisham A Painted House
John Grisham The Appeal
John Grisham The Associate
John Grisham The Broker
John Grisham The Client
John Grisham The Firm
John Grisham The Last Juror
John Grisham The Runaway Jury
John Grisham The Summons
John Grisham The Testiment
Jonathan Kellerman A Cold Heart
Lincoln Child Death Match
Lincoln Child Deep Storm
Margaret Truman Murder at Ford's Theatre Capital Crimes, 19
Margaret Truman Murder at Union Station Capital Crimes, 20
Margaret Truman Murder at Washington Tribune Capital Crimes, 21
Margaret Truman Murder at the Opera Capital Crimes, 22
Margaret Truman Murder on K Street Capital Crimes, 23
Margaret Truman Murder Inside the Beltway Capital Crimes, 24
Margaret Truman Murder in Foggy Bottom
Michael Connelly City of Bones Bosch
Michael Connelly The Overlook Bosch
Michael Connelly The Poet Bosch
Michael Connelly The Black Echo Bosch, 1
Michael Connelly The Narrows Bosch, 10
Michael Connelly The Closers Bosch, 11
Michael Connelly Echo Park Bosch, 12
Michael Connelly The Black Ice Bosch, 2
Michael Connelly The Concrete Blonde Bosch, 3
Michael Connelly The Last Coyote Bosch, 4
Michael Connelly Trunk Music Bosch, 5
Michael Connelly Angels Flight Bosch, 6
Michael Connelly A Darkness More Than Night Bosch, 7
Michael Connelly Lost Light Bosch, 9
Michael Connelly Blood Work
Michael Connelly Crime Beat
Michael Connelly The Lincoln Lawyer
Michael Harvey The Chicago Way
Michael McGarrity The Big Gamble
Michael Palmer Fatal
Michael Palmer The Fifth Vial
Michael Palmer The First Patient
Michael Palmer The Patient
Michael Palmer The Society
Nevada Barr Hunting Season
P.D. James Death in Holy Orders Dalgliesh, 11
P.D. James The Murder Room Dalgliesh, 12
P.D. James The Lighthouse Dalgliesh, 13
P.D. James The Black Tower Dalgliesh, 5
Phillip Margolin Gone, But Not Forgotten
Phillip Margolin Proof Positive
Phillip Margolin Wild Justice
Raymond Chandler The Little Sister
Robert Andrews A Murder of Promise
Stephen Coontz The Assassin Carmellini, 3
Stephen King Black House Talisman, 2
Stephen King Delores Claiborne
Stephen King Secret Window, Secret Garden
Stephen White Blinded Alan Gregory, 12
Stephen White Dry Ice Alan Gregory, 15
Stuart Woods Beverly Hills Dead

Thursday, August 6, 2009

History of Pecan Place

The original house that stood on this lot was built in 1846 by Henry Lucas Elder. The style is what is sometimes termed a typical "Southern Colonial." Often this style is ornately Italianate in features, however, ours was fairly modest. It's configuration consisted of a central hall flanked by one room on each side on both floors. Both floors had a front facing porch, one at the entrance of the house and one above.

This is the only picture we have of the old house, so little is known about the configuration of the back although the 1877 map of Trenton shows a T-shaped structure that extends beyond the central hall to another room which seems to be quite common for this style of house. The house originally faced College Street. There was some speculation that the house faced 4th Street, but if you will notice the tree prop on the small tree to the far right it provides evidence that both houses faced the same direction. The drawing on the 1877 map also indicates this.

It has been said that the Elder family watched the Civil War battles from the back porch. I'll have to do some additional research on this to see where all of the local battles took place, but the only one that I am aware of took place down by the railroad track. The back porch would have faced east. The tracks are to the west. They would have been facing the wrong direction to have seen that battle. It is possible however that it they may have watched this from the second story front porch although I'm skeptical about this as well since there is a rather large house on High Street that would have probably blocked the view.

I suspect that because of the age of the newly planted trees in front of the house and the age of these same trees in front of the new house addition, that this photo was taken very shortly before construction began. I also suspect that a good deal of the people standing on the porch lived in the house at the time, including the maid who can be seen to the far right in front of the window.

Given the date the house was built and the date that Horace McClung Elder was born, I'd suspect that Henry built the house to accommodate his upcoming family. He would have been 25 at the time. Horace was the first of what looks to be seven children. We have yet to find out much about Horace, but apparently he grew up to have comfortable plans and some means of making them happen.

I presume that being the oldest son, Horace inherited the house at age 31 upon the death of his father. Horace worked for his uncle and next door neighbor, John Wesley Elder, as a cashier at the Gibson County Bank. I imagine the responsibility and wages for this position are much different than they are for this position today.

Horace McClung Elder 1852

In 1893 at age 46, Horace added on to the family home. In fact, he added an entire house to the family home!

The planning of the addition included rotating the original 1846 home 90 degrees clockwise, removing the central hall, then moving the remaining rooms to the back of the addition. Whether the home was rotated and moved intact and used by the family during the construction of the new house is unknown although quite practical. It could have then been added once the new house was complete. I hadn't considered this until now.

Although we have no concrete evidence of this, it is highly suspected that the architect for the addition was none other that George F. Barber of Knoxville. Several people knowledgeable of Barber's work have confirmed that our suspicions are probably correct. I'd still love to find the blueprints though!

Photo from Gibson County Illustrated, 1901

Because of the number of pecan trees planted on the property, Horace named the newly finished home "Pecan Place."

Postcard of College Street looking north towards the courthouse. Given the growth of the trees, I'd say this was probably taken between 1910 and 1915 possibly. The photo was taken at the south side of our property. The fence can be seen in the foreground. The house that is now the funeral home next door is seen in the distance on the right and the Methodist Church on the left.

Henry Houston Elder is third from the left posing in front of his law firm with his partners and a colleague from Humboldt, a nearby town. (More to tell about this a little later.)

Residence of Evelyn Howard Elder Sawyer prior to sale of home to Dr. A.L. Schrader in 1981. After 135 years, the family home was sold to the town doctor who had loved the house for 20 years before he was finally able to obtain it. The purchase came just in time too, as it is rumored that Evelyn had considered selling it to the Methodist Church for use as their parking lot. I guess given that the house needed repairs and updating and this is a rather small rural town, it was unlikely that someone would want to tackle the work or have the available funds to do so. So, thanks to Dr. Schrader, the old girl was saved. He and his wife were married in the second parlor and lived here for the next 20 years or so.

To carry on the tradition, Donnie loved this old house for many years too. After several years of being on the market, we bought it and got married on the front porch. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Following the Elder line as it pertains to the house:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Meet the "Family"

Some of our friends have dubbed this place as the "Trenton Cathouse." I think every Victorian house should have an abundance of cats, so I thought I'd properly introduce the "family." I think we've just hit 13. OH MY!

Our newest arrival is Duncan who has been with us a little over a week. He sure is a wild thing and cute as he can be. The man who brought him to us said she was a white calico, that her name was Molly and that she was 6 weeks old. A few surprises there though. Molly wasn't a girl nor is "she" a calico. He's got long thick white fur with a tabby tail and markings at his ears. He's just precious.

Callie was acquired from a family that had been out walking and said they had rescued her from the sewer. She had been following them for at least 2 blocks. Donnie and I just happened to be in the back yard near the gate and saw this little teeny tiny kitten running and jumping to keep up with them. A long story short-they live in an apartment and can't have pets, so I volunteered to taker her. She's about as smoochable as they come.

Sable is back home-or at least back to where she started more than 10 years ago. My sister found her as a tiny kitten at the automatic doors in front of Kroger and took her home. At the time, she lived where pets weren't allowed and asked if I'd take her until she moved to a place that would let her have a cat. So, Sable spent her kittenhood at my place which was 4 houses ago. She's getting older and my sister has other responsibilities to give her everything she needs so I brought Sable home with me one time when I was visiting. My sister is tickled that Sable is happy and healthy. Sable on the other hand, clearly has a few thoughts to express. :)

Constance was found on the street behind us about a year and a half ago on one of the coldest nights of the year. I was outside around midnight and heard this frantic screaming meow and went to investigate. She ran out from under some cars so I tucked her into my sweatshirt and brought her home. Donnie woke up to a surprise kitten in the kitchen the next morning. He handled it well. :) Constance is a hunter and takes it as her personal responsibility to try to keep the entire neighborhood free of anything moving.

Hieronymus, a.k.a. "Harry" was a wander-up to the food bowl a couple of years ago. Once I decided that he didn't have a proper home, I took him in to be neutered and to get all his testing and shots. The bad news is that he's not only FELV+, he's also FIV+. Other than having two fatal diseases, he's doing well and is a loving and gentle kitty. I pay extra attention to his general health as they can go downhill quickly with either disease. So far he seems to still be enjoying life and has a good appetite. I figure he'll let me know when it's time to go.

Merlin belonged to the neighbor in one of the houses on the street behind us but started making regular stops for food several years ago. Eventually, he pretty much stayed on the property and might make the occasional visit back to his real home. At some point, he stopped going home and packed his bags and moved over here where he prefers to spend his days napping in the top of the carport on top of the piles of building materials.

Callahan, a.k.a. "Papa" technically belongs to the neighbor next door. He's Papa because I suspect he may have had something to do with Poo's heritage. In his previous life, his name was Butterball, but it was about 2 years later that we found that out-or that he was their cat. By then, I guess the statute of limitations must have expired and they seem quite content knowing he's being fed and cared for.

I think I had my stuff moved into this house about a week before the bush next to the front porch started screaming. I went to investigate as it sounded vaguely like a small kitten. Indeed it was and she was very small, maybe a 6 weeks at the most. Pookins, a.k.a. Poobelle and Poo, wasn't thrilled about the idea of being picked up-and still isn't, but as long as you left her have her space, she's a real sweetie. Even now that she's grown, she one of the most amusing to watch zipping around the yard, jumping in the air and hunting invisible prey.

Fenton almost didn't make the bus! We were loading the last bunch of stuff when I moved from my old house when he strolled up to the back porch. He had been coming around for a couple of months but I imagine-or maybe hoped-that he had a home somewhere. So, he's just watching us load the last couple of kitties in the car and Donnie says "What about that cat?" When I didn't say anything cause I was still trying to decide what to do about him, he said "He's a nice cat." That did it. If Donnie could handle another cat, Fenton would be coming with us. He is a nice cat and he's especially nice if you offer him beef jerky.

Then there's the wild Bizzy. He was a half grown kitten when he started showing up at my last house and was so energetic in his stalking and pouncing and just generally annoying the other cats that he stayed pretty busy all day. For lack of anything else to call him-and hoping he already had a name and a home somewhere, I just started calling him Bizzy. Several years later after neutering and gaining 10 lbs. he isn't quite as busy anymore. The activity of the day is sleep, harrass Sable, sleep some more and take plenty of breaks to taste test the contents of the food bowl.

Then there's DaVinci who seemed to have multiple personalities. He also wandered up at my last house and would let me pet him and pick him up and was just a really sweet cat. Then there were times when I could come out on the porch and he'd be off like a shot. It all seemed very weird until one day I heard a cat fight in the barn and went to investigate. What I found was Vinny in a big ball fighting with himself! With my arrival, the ball unrolled and I could see that Vinny was actually 2 cats! Mystery solved. I think the people across the street left them behind when they moved. One was friendly and the other was afraid which made me even more determined to befriend him and provide him with safety and love. His name was Armani. Eventually, he did give in and I was able to catch him and bring him in the house. One kind pet on the head was all it took and he turned out to be a sweetie too. When I took them in to get neutered, I also had them run FELV/FIV testing as with all my kitties. The vet called me back within an hour and told my they were both FIV+ and recommended euthanization. No way. Not as long as they have quality of life and enough time to know love. So, they were neutered and I brought them both back home. They'd have to be indoor cats from now on. One morning not too long after that, Armani went into respiratory distress and there was nothing that could be done to save him. At that house, I had an area outside my bedroom window where I was making a landscape garden. I put him in there and it became Armani's Garden. DaVinci is still with me. He doesn't have much trouble with his disease, but most of his teeth have fallen out except one long one in the front. Vinny is the alpha cat. Everyone else gets in line behind him.  Because anxiety isn't good for his health, the spoiled little rascal has the upstairs master suite all to himself.

Clark was one of the only ones that came to me by choice, two houses and one apartment ago. A co-worker was moving out of the state and couldn't take him. She had gotten him from a shelter just in time on "his last day." It's a good thing too because he's a wonderful cat. He's the household explorer. He tells me "a rolling stone gathers no moss" and off he goes to explore the neighborhood. He has particular houses that he goes to for the most part. At my last house, there was a house on the street behind me that he liked to stay at. If I wanted him to come home, I'd just drive by their house, call for him, open the car door, and he'd jump in. I picked him up after work everyday. Kind of like daycare. The first time the people that owned the house saw this routine they just thought it was the funniest thing! Next thing I knew, they were letting him in the house and taking care of him if I went out of town. When I had them all on Invisible Fence collars, he'd pace the yard like a caged tiger and not too long after that he'd be on the other side. Guess he decided his freedom was worth the inconvenience of the shock. Eventually, I just quit collaring him and let him do his thing. He always knows his way home and has been doing this for almost a decade, so I guess you can't teach an old cat new tricks.

Red and his brother Bandit made their first appearance when they were about Callie and Duncan's age-maybe 2 1/2 months old-from a house that ran parallel to mine. The kids that they actually belonged to told me their names and where they came from. The kids said they found them up on Tiger Hill-a large hill that was nearby that had a reputation for rattlesnakes and copperheads and that we all drove up to on July 4th to watch fireworks around town since you could see all of Murfreesboro from up there. So Red and Bandit were barn cats and would wander from their house to mine and back. I guess eventually, Red decided he preferred the sofa and cable TV in my garage to the barn life and never went back. His real owners were happy he found a home, so that's how he came to be the member of the family that's been with me the longest. Other that the mysterious shattered femor that he had one morning several years ago (I think Bizzy pushed him off the hayloft and maybe he hit the car) , he's had an easy life. The leg healed and he's the most well-behaved, well-rounded cat of the bunch and has never met a stranger.

By the way, they're all just a little bit spoiled! :)