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September 2013



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Back to what passes for normal around here...

I just got back from the airport--J. had an early flight out, and we arrived at MCI in the dark. 

It was harder than usual this time to say goodbye to him.  Will it be like this every time until we can be together?  Exponentially more difficult?

We didn't sleep much last night...to bed early enough after my friend's election-watch party (he won), but then woke before midnight, almost wide awake.  A long talk, then, sharing our stories, our lives, our dreams--and yes, our fears, our frustrations.  Of those there are sufficient, but there was more laughter than angst in that long wee-hour conversation.

And then we woke again, and again, and yet again before the alarm. 

I don't sleep that much when he's here, but for some reason I am nowhere near as exhausted as I am with more sleep when he's gone...

But the house next door is HIS, as of yesterday morning, at the closing.  The usual and expected silliness with the seller, who "didn't get our message" about the time, then ran astoundingly late after telling us via cell phone they'd be there within 10 minutes.  Fortunately, the title company didn't need us all there together, so we waited a bit to get the house keys, then gave up and figured we could have them drop them to us on their way home. 

For a 10:00 a.m. meeting, they called us from the title company at 1:30--some 10 minutes, eh?  We asked about the keys...he said his boys and his ex have them, he doesn't, he just went in through the kicked-in back door. 


Meanwhile the title company had forgotten to give back J.'s driver's license, so we had to drive back over to Liberty to get that, grabbed a burger, came back home and went directly to the hardware store for new locks.

J. changed locks on the front doors (the house has two, like mine, because it was once a two-family dwelling) while I began demolition, and discovered that the nearly-new door had been vandalized by someone trying to break in--it's been that way a while, I guess, we just didn't notice.  The back door is a mess.  We nailed it shut again till we could do something more permanent, and called it an evening till time to go to the election watch.  Called an old friend who's a handyman--he'll come Saturday to give us an estimate on the long process of making the place habitable.

And I'll organize work parties with my friends to take up some of the slack, between his visits!  People LOVE to tear things up for pizza--"will work for food!"  Wanna come help? >;-)

You have to wonder, though--what kind of people start replacing the drywall, then put their fists through it repeatedly?  Oh, I know--the mother, when she still lived there (before she abandoned the house to a bunch of teenaged sons, don't ask), started the sorry rehab job.  The sons trashed it, with their friends, after she moved out.  Lovely.  (So were the used but unflushed toilets, the broken window, the trash-filled basement.  We DO have our work cut out for us.)

Well, at least I know what to get J. for the next year or so, by way of presents for birthdays, Christmases, St. Patrick's Day, Solstice, Mondays, whatever the hell--demolition.  A dumpster. Drywall.  Plumbing supplies.  Paint. < ;-)

But you know?  During those long, grim years of living next door to the drug house it became toward the end, and a fair representative of the kinds of neighbors you OH so do not want, before, during all those nights of wishing for a selective tornado--or a rocket launcher--during all my dozens of calls to the police to break up their fights and beating up on wives and girlfriends over the years, all I could wish for was destruction.  I wanted it to disappear.  I didn't think I could stand more of that; the house had been abandoned for 6 months and it was wonderful.

Now?  Yes, demolition, but directed and hopeful demolition, with an eye to resurrection.  I'm feeling light and hopeful and can't wait to get at the broken plaster with my crowbar. 

A little bit every week. 

There are some lovely details about the place--a curved walk to the front porch, which is a wraparound on two sides.  A Victorian feeling, like mine--built at the same time, and a mirror image.  A charming beadboard pantry in the kitchen.  Victorian woodwork, like mine--most of it still there.  It is really going to be beautiful.

And exactly what we'll do with it, I don't know.  A gallery?  A shared studio? A place to teach?  A workshop for Himself?  Room for His Stuff? A Kate Hepburn/Spencer Tracy "live close, visit often" situation?  All of the above?

All I know is that my knight came flying in from the East and saved me from a repeat of the nightmare of living next to that mess and noise and violence.  I intend to make it worth his while.


It is VERY cool, isn't it? It'll be a mountain of work, but it will be so good for the neighborhood, not to mention for my sanity! The neighborhood has been coming back, over the past few years, from its REALLY bad time as a drug center and low-income multi-family rental low point, but this will be a cornerstone and an inspiration, I think, just as it is when any of us makes an improvement around here.

That house has had SUCH a bad rep for SO long...neglected for 20 years or more. I can't wait to get some paint on it!

And thank you, sweetie...I'm excited too!
Oh, I plan to, of course! I have a record of almost everything done to THIS house over the 30 years I've owned it--new roofs, paint, drywall, floors, deck, various repairs and so forth. It IS fun.

Can't decide whether to make a Flickr set or a Yahoo photo album.*G*
Please do a Flickr set! I'd love to see the transformation.
Good luck with everything. It's wonderful that you can be flexible with the plans for the "other" house. You could do guest quarters, a library, a classroom, a party room, storage... and how great it is to be transforming this poor house after the trashing it took!
Definitely a library, J. has tons of books TOO...and maybe a section for an artist's museum, since I have a fair number of antique art supplies!

I think the house will be delighted to have the attention lavished on it...
Kate! I musta missed this whole turn of events but how LOVELY to have two houses side-by-side. And trust me, if I were within driving distance, me'n'my crowbar would SO be there!
Hi Jen, I was just thinking about you yesterday!

I hadn't mentioned too much about it till it was closer to fruition--so many things can go wrong when you're dealing with this stuff.

We found out last Thursday or Friday that there were in fact TWO liens that had to be released and recorded before we could close. The former owner hadn't had a title search. Idjet...

So we did a lot of scrambling, but DONE NOW. If we can just keep the druggies out...


I think it's wonderful that a house that carried so much trouble for you has now become a place of love and renewal. There is poetic justice in the world. And though it will be work, it's the best kind. Productive and friendly, toward a good goal.

I'm so happy for you both!

Re: Serendipity

Thank you, sweet thing! It is utterly amazing to me--somehow this was an end I'd never envisioned, and it just seems wonderful to me. We can do so MUCH with that house...

When I first moved here, 30 years ago, it was owned by the loveliest little old lady...we hope to bring it back to the kind of home it was for her.

Re: Serendipity

Shigella said exactly what I was thinking so I just jumped on this thread. I'm happy for you both, revitalizing the neighborhood one house at a time. :-)
The misfit neighbor down the street from us has moved out and is getting his house ready to sell! Relief for all of us on the street to get his less than disirable "friends" out of the neighborhood. He has a lot of the friends who "visited" for 10min or so every couple of wks and all on the same day!

Hugs to you and J, Dee

Re: Serendipity

I wish you new neighbors as lovely and kind as you are, Dee!



Oh KATE!! Such joy, challenges, HOPE -- and he'll be next door!! FANTASTIC!!! And what a delight to reclaim, renew, reinvent this poor, disappointed house ... and to fill it with love and desire and EXCITEMENT!! GOOD GOOD LUCK with it all!!


Thanks, sweet thing! Actually part of his plan is that once we get that one done, we'll have some place to live while work is being done on MINE! We may run out of energy and money before that time, though--he won't be making as much once he retires next year, of course, and there will be a LOT of scrounging--er, recycling.*G*

I'm very happy with the way things are coming together...it's going to be lovely.
may you have every bit of peace and lovliness that you envision--a house becomes wht is expected of it. ours had been deserted for a year when we got it--it had been a group home for teenage girls who had been in trouble with the law. hubby literally prayed his way through each room, invoking blessings and joy, and repudiating any bad "stuff" that was left behind. it has been a haven, a blessing, a shelter, and the place we go to hide from the rest of the world. i suspect that yours will be filled with light, love, and laughter...not to mention art and creation!

what a wonderful thing to have to work on. i just feel the "rightness" of it!
Hi girlfriend! Thank you...I know just what you mean, and in fact thought of that in the middle of the night and wished we had blessed it together. We kissed in it yesterday, and worked together, and laughed together, so a good start.

Still, I wanted more--I went over a while ago with three big trash bags and a handful of tobacco and began the healing process--first the thanks and prayers, then filled the trash bags. ;-)

I can't work long at a time, but three bags filled up pretty fast. Big shock.

I hope it can be just as you see it--and I don't see why not. He and I make pretty powerful mojo between us, and it can be a beautiful house...some big windows and lots of light. ;-)))

yup!! trash out, good in! i suspect it is just the beginning of much good and positive endeavor that will take place there. the light and life that comes into such a place will change it.

yup. i feel it.
I sort of tend to talk out loud to the house as I work...I try to keep it on a more positive note than too much of LOOK WHAT THOSE PEOPLE HAVE DONE TO YOU as is so tempting, though.*rg* Very hard to do...I'm sure it will get easier as we go, step by step. Already I can see the difference.

We're going to get the trim painted outside first--that will show most, and let the house AND the neighborhood know something positive is happening. Bright clean white...he wants a light gray on the siding, which is basically what it has now, but poorly done and incomplete. I think it was about '95 when they started that job and never finished...
Very romantic and I'm sure the process will be a wonderful experience! :)
Thank you! This is new for me, having a place be empty (I've always rehabbed while living in the house, yipe!) and no real rush, and HELP. Wow...good all around!

Volunteer here

This sounds like a grand new beginning.... Love old houses. If you are serious about volunteers, I live in Lenexa and only work weekends, so available most weekdays. (do have to do occasional grandma things). However, I can do tile, mastic and grout with the best of them. Let me know and I will e-mail you my phone number....

Re: Volunteer here

Of course I'm serious, and thank you! Watch this space for when we get ready for that kind of work--there will be a lot of demolition first, I'm afraid.