Other Cool Things

OTHER COOL THINGS is the blog page where I go off topic. In other words, this is a page where I ramble about a wide variety of subjects which have nothing to do with the Cross House restoration or Emporia.

OTHER COOL THINGS is where I might suggest a great new restaurant. Or a movie I enjoyed, or book. Or a favored blog.

OTHER COOL THINGS may — fasten your seat belt — open discussions about dangerous subjects such politics or religion.

OTHER COOL THINGS will, in short, be a page where I ramble about anything which captures my special attention. Like, perhaps, a nice moment I had with my favorite cat Gilda.

I love comments, so please do not hesitate to toss your two cents in, even if you disagree with me.

My blog posts are below. Enjoy!


Gilda. My favorite ever cat.
Gilda. My favorite ever cat.

Currently displaying blog entries in Chronological Order. Switch to Most Recent.

When Size Matters

A blog which I tremendously enjoy is Big Old Houses, which is owned by John. John is a world-class nut. And I mean that in a good way. John has had a life-long passion for really big old houses. So big that they make the Cross House look like a child’s toy house. BIG is what… Continue Reading

A Man. A Castle. A Miracle.

There are a lot of insane people out there restoring great old houses. God love each and every one. But perhaps the restoration which stuns me the most is one undertaken by Dr. David Johnston. You see, Johnston decided to restore a castle. Yes, a castle. A castle which was abandoned fifty years ago and… Continue Reading

The Cat Who Gave a Gift.

I am writing a book titled Many Meows, about my life with a lot of felines over the decades. What follows is an excerpt. CAVEAT: It is a bittersweet story.   The intruder came to my attention while I was washing the dishes.  One early morning while scrubbing some blackened pot I heard a faint… Continue Reading

A Cool Thing in Portland

I would love to know why I find the following so very cool but have no explanation. Simply, the following makes me excited. So, if you ever plan to visit Portland, OR, I would suggest that you check out this. Way way way cool.       Continue Reading

The Astounding Restoration of an Astounding House

Waaaaaay back when I was a young pup, in my early twenties, I first discovered the Armour-Stiner House, in Irvington, New York. The house is a famous octagon-shaped structure, and was built in 1860. By the 1970s the house was a wreck, and the huge domed roof was literally crushing the house, and would have… Continue Reading

The Cheeriest Laundry Room That Ever Was

For most of us, having a room JUST for laundry would be a luxury. And, if we had such a room, it would be efficient, simple, and utilitarian. Right? I mean, isn’t this what laundry rooms are supposed to look like? But some people think outside the box. Gotta love such people.   Continue Reading

The Thrill Of A Great National Debate

I was not around during the tumultuous national debate about ending slavery. I was not around during the tumultuous national debate about giving women the right to vote. I was not around during the tumultuous national debate when Harry Truman (give ’em hell, Harry!) ended segregation in the military. I was around during the tumultuous national… Continue Reading

A Scarily Long Post About Road Trips, Cloud Gates, & Other Adventures

Waaaaaaay back in the 1980s (it is really scary that the 1980s now seem like a historical time period. Sigh) I used to travel a lot. I thought nothing about leaving New York City (where I lived at the time) and jumping on a plane to…somewhere. Vienna? Check! Paris? Check! San Francisco? Check! London? Check!… Continue Reading

This makes me SO happy!

For many years I lived in New York City and, as a lover of architecture, walking around the city was a constant thrill. So much to see and admire! I moved to New York in the fall of 1978, when I was just a twenty-one-year-old pup. The city was a wreck, a dump, and looked… Continue Reading

A Most Extraordinary Restoration

  Wow. In Brooklyn, New York, is the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank, built in 1875. For decades this majestic pile was grimy and overlooked. In 2014 it reopened, as an events space, after a extraordinary restoration. The building now sparkles inside and out and it has been burnished to perfection. There is a gallery of… Continue Reading

A Splendid House in a Limbo State

In the late 1980s and 1990s I lived in Newport, Rhode Island. Providence is the state capital, and a wonderful city. Of course, its urban fabric was damaged after WWII, like when two highways were rammed through the city. Sigh. Providence is an old city, and during the Colonial-era one of its elite neighborhoods was… Continue Reading

The Miraculous Resurrection of Barlaston Hall

In the late 1980s I became aware of Barlaston Hall, Staffordshire, England, and attributed to Sir Robert Taylor. A group called SAVE was fighting desperately to stop the house from being demolished. This was not an easy fight as most people thought the house was more ruin than habitable structure. Considering the condition of the… Continue Reading

When I win the Lottery…

When I win the lottery I will buy the Emporia houses on on my Wish List. Then, I will go national. Then, international. All the national houses are from my favorite blog, Old House Dreams. And all the houses are a tough sell and, thus, in danger.   NATIONAL            … Continue Reading

The Potential Ruination of a Great House

  Nice house, right? Fabulous house, right? Amazing house, right? Yet this historic structure may soon be “updated” by a young couple who want to flip houses for a profit. The couple has no restoration experience and no restoration sensibility. Nor do they apparently even have experience rehabbing old houses. My heart just feels sick.… Continue Reading

The Best-Ever Dressing Room?

  This just takes my breath away. Click the image to enlarge. Just make sure you have a tissue handy, as you will drool. The room is in a townhouse in Brooklyn, NY. And the whole house is TO DIE FOR. The house is currently for sale. And it can be yours for… …$14 million.… Continue Reading

A Miracle in Harlem

Harlem, New York, was build up during the 19th-century, and its population was almost exclusively white. In the early 20th-century, Harlem became mixed races, then almost exclusively black. Harlem drastically declined in the late 20th-century, and became synonymous with decay and violence. As the resurrection in New York continues to reach extraordinary new heights, Harlem,… Continue Reading

Stories to Tell: 5724 West Race Avenue, Chicago

I buy vintage magazines about architecture and decoration. It is fascinating having a window into the past. While today we look at, say, a 1924 issue of House & Garden and think: I love all these antique appliances/curtains/furnishings, in 1924 all this stuff was new! I try and imagine: It it 1924 I am sitting… Continue Reading

THE most amazing house restoration. WOW!

Kelly, who is the originator (and Goddess) of my favorite blog, Old House Dreams, alerted me to another blog. “I think you will enjoy it,” she wrote. The simple name of the blog, The Danville Experience, in no way prepares one for the astounding, extraordinary, awe-inspiring, breathtaking work undertaken by a young couple. The blog,… Continue Reading

The Evolution of America

    History fascinates me. It always has. In studying the history of America, one dynamic is obvious: America has been struggling since its creation to manifest the intentions of its founding fathers. In the Constitution, it is famously written: “…all men are created equal.” These are fine, noble words. Yet, in reality these words… Continue Reading

The Rewards of Persistence

Matt is a young man (thirty-two) who has spent years meticulously restoring a wonderful house which had been brutalized for decades. I found his blog about a year ago (not surprisingly, I love reading old house blogs!), and had to read every post from the beginning. With each post, my admiration for Matt grew. It… Continue Reading

You might have missed…

My blog was invaded by pixies for several weeks, and people were not receiving new posts. The pixies have now been banished (but not harmed!), and all is well now. I hope! You might have missed: Favorite Houses: 512 Exchange GRAND PLANS…revised. Victoria! MY HERO! Continue Reading

Bad Boys & Girls

In my current house the backyard is surrounded by an eight-foot-high metal fence. This means that my kitties cannot climb it, so they have a safe haven INSIDE the fence. On occasion though, an unauthorized visitor enters the Cat Zone. Or unauthorized in the plural…         Continue Reading

The Power of Memories. The Kelvinator!

    My grandfather was quite the character. He was not a good husband. He was not a good father to his one child, my dad. He was not a good employee or businessman. He was however a really fabulous grandfather. Indeed, he was the perfect grandfather. He delighted in his four grandchildren, and to him we… Continue Reading

Somebody Else Having Fun With Ancient Wallpaper

I have had a lot of fun, no, THRILLS, uncovering layers of history at the Cross House via old wallpaper discoveries. Today, I was reading another blog, and smiled in recognition and delight at somebody else having the same kind of thrill. Enjoy!     Continue Reading

An 1886 House. So, why not a 2015 House?

I collect vintage magazines regarding architecture and interior design. I like seeing how houses looked way back when, and not just decor but kitchens and baths and boilers and dumbwaiters and hardware and the whole bit. A particular favorite is Scientific American, Architects & Builders Edition. Each edition, at least the early editions, are only nominally… Continue Reading

Separating Political Myths from Reality

WARNING LABEL While this blog is 99% about cool old houses, I also have a section titled Other Cool Things where I reserve the right to discuss other topics. Even scary topics. It is said that one should never discuss politics and religion in polite company. I find this helpful advice, and cannot count the times I… Continue Reading

Awestruck by Young

JC is a very young man. I am old enough to be his father. The very thought freaks me out. FREAKS ME OUT. JC is renovating/restoring a house in Canada. The house is quite simple, so simple that, when JC purchased it, it was difficult to appreciate WHY he would have purchased it. But love… Continue Reading

Separating More Myths From Reality

Today I was looking at the Facebook page of somebody I sorta know. I will call him Tom. Tom posted this image:     Under the image Tom wrote: During the Industrial revolution in the Victorian and early Edwardian era Every city was spewing Coal and Wood smoke into the sky. We burned wood or… Continue Reading

Can This House Be Saved? The Sternberg Mansion.

A few weeks ago I received an email. Did I know about the Sternberg Mansion in Wichita, Kansas? Why…no. So I clicked on the Realtor.com listing, and my heart was instantly seized. Before me was a FABULOUS house built in 1886. But, before me was also a house in alarming condition. Thus, the seized heart. I… Continue Reading

A Brief but Important Reality Check

Reading the news of late one would think that America is in imminent danger from Muslims and Syrian refugees. DANGER! BE AFRAID! Ahhh…no. You see, politicians love to scare us. And while the world IS a dangerous place, I am wholly unconcerned about Muslims and refugees attacking America. Why? Because, since 9/11: There were 45 deaths… Continue Reading

Caledonia Road Church, Glasgow, Scotland.

Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Scotland, in a sprawling, gritty city known as Glasgow, there lived an eccentric and brilliant architect named Alexander Thomson. Today, most people, even those with an interest in architecture, think: Who? When one thinks of Glasgow, Charles Rennie Mackintosh comes to mind, a world-famous architect who… Continue Reading

This Old House?

WAY back in 1979, I watched the very first episode of This Old House. And was mesmerized. I ate up each subsequent episode. When a book came out about that first season, I snapped did up, and devoured it. I was twenty-two. As the years have passed, as the decades passed, I became aware that… Continue Reading

Detroit Reborn

I was born in Detroit, a 1957 model. While my family lived in suburban Detroit, my father’s parents lived in outer Detroit, and my grandfather often took his four grandchildren downtown on the weekends. I wrote about my vivid memories of these adventures, and this was published a few years ago. My family left Michigan for Florida… Continue Reading

Separating More Myths From Reality

Wow. What a year it is going to be, politically. In November, there is a presidential election, and in my lifetime I cannot recall such, well, surrealism. The Republicans started out with sixteen candidates. This keeps getting whittled down. And I continue to gasp at what comes out of the mouths of some of these… Continue Reading

Can This House Be Saved? Four N. Main Street, Coudersport, PA

    I am a sucker for an architectural damsel in distress. And this house pushes my every button. It just intoxicates me. Had I not purchased the Cross House I might well have gone after this faded beauty. The house was featured on the fabulous Old House Dreams, where you can learn a lot… Continue Reading

Throwing History into a Dumpster

There are a spate of TV shows showing viewers how they can renovate and “update” an old home. Oh the horror. The horror. The result of this televised saturation is that a great many people think nothing about painting gorgeous wood interior trim white, knocking out walls to create “open plans”, discarding original lighting for… Continue Reading

A Gilda Change

In my office are two very large identical desks. I have a thing about pairs. One is for my Apple computer. I love love love my Apple. I also normally keep this desk quite clean. It is intended as my oasis of calm & order. The other is where I restore my lights. This table… Continue Reading


I have written several posts about Gilda, my gold cat. My old gold cat. My favorite ever cat. She arrived in my life, totally unexpectedly, one day in early 1999. My dear friend Christina (who lived across the street) and I were talking in my driveway when a tiny kitten, perhaps just five-weeks-old, scurried up… Continue Reading

Hidden Glamour

  As the heavens raged, I received a text from a friend. A house was being demolished tomorrow. He knew I had always admired it. My heart felt crushed. Another text: the house is open. Wanna see inside? It was pitch black outside, save the dramatic streaks of lighting. Rain dashed against my windows. The… Continue Reading

Astonishing Moments with Emerald

Twice daily I feed about a dozen stray cats which hang around my immediate neighborhood. Some were left by neighbors who moved away, some ARE neighbor’s cats but aren’t being taken care of, some wandered into the neighborhood, and some were dumped in the neighborhood. Sigh. One such cat I named Emerald because he had… Continue Reading