The Cross House

2018. The Year-End Update. THE ROSS.

Each year, I do a HOUSE update and a ROSS update.

While the HOUSE update is highly popular, the ROSS update attracts three times the views. Which is a strong indicator that y’all are interested in the man behind the blog.

This is also an indicator that readers are also interested in…ah…my political views as the ROSS updates are normally rich with politics, a passion of mine. My passion for politics though has changed into more of an obsession, a phenomenon a lot of other people are experiencing as well. Before 2016, psychiatrists reported that patients mostly talked about sex, money, love, and work. Politics? Never. Never. Now? The #1 issue people are talking about on the couch? Yep, politics. People are anxious to an extreme.

2018 proved a spectacular year, politically. Do you remember the first 15 minutes of the first Indiana Jones movie? You know, where Jones runs out of a cave with a giant stone sphere rolling after him? That first 15 minutes was WOW! Well, that it what almost all of 2018 felt like to me, politically. I am living an adventure movie. We are living an adventure movie.

2018 also proved intense on an emotional level. As I wrote in my first Year End report, 2014 was one of the best years of my life. It was a thrill! But 2015 proved very different and much of the year was anxiety-filled. However, 2017 proved, against all my expectations, a glorious year. I had a great time, and could not have been more surprised. This miracle was not a result of politics (which were a non-stop horror) but of the Cross House. Painting the exterior, “enhancing” the exterior colors, and decorating the parlor all proved deeply fulfilling and this managed to pull my soul up, way up, from the horror of what was happening to my country.

And 2018?

Geez. It’s been a mixed bag.



2018 began with utter joy (getting the radiators working) and simultaneous utter horror (some radiator pipes leaked, ruining the finished parlor ceiling). And this, as things proved, was an omen for the year.

As the month passed, I slowly, incrementally came to the realization that my dreams for the Cross House were, at last, being challenged by reality. I knew from day one that I had taken on something way bigger than I could afford, but magical thinking kept me afloat. This magic burst in 2018, forcing me to look at the house in a whole new way. While there is no problem paying the mortgage and bills, and no problem proceeding with the Heritage Grant work, there just ain’t enough for, well, the enormity of everything else. There never was, of course, but loans and spending my retirement kept things merrily moving along.

Until 2018. My fifth year of owning the house.

Thus, with each passing month in 2018 I had to accept a new reality. I was forced to look at the house and think: What can I do, rather than what do I want to do? And this was painful. I much prefer magical living to, ah, reality.

In March, I wrote Giving Up On Mr. Darcy, detailing my struggle with magic vs. reality, and my new plan to convert the Cross House into an Airbnb. Months passed though and I gave up on the idea as the cost to my joy would have been too great. Instead, I decided to get some roommates to help offset the financial burden of the house. This means that the sewing room will get rented out, as well as the whole third floor. The carriage house, too…eventually.

With the knowledge that my ever-aging body may not always be able to keep up with the demands of my lighting business, I decided to go back to writing books to create an additional income stream, which I wrote in this post. I then poured myself into a new book idea:


Then Suzanne suggested that, rather than a single volume, why not create a multi-volume set on the Cross House? She thought, based on the blog these past four years, surely there was already enough information to create Volume One?

In reading Suzanne’s words I instantly understood the fantastic brilliance of her suggestion.

I had two books published by WW Norton in New York, and worked for three decades with a senior editor and co-owner of Norton, Jim Mairs. I adored Jim, and was devastated by his passing in 2016. With this loss, I also realized that I had lost my connection to Norton but this summer I braved though my fears and assumptions and called Norton. And was put through to a senior editor! Squee! My post about this.

Quickly, I explained my idea for the book, and the editor asked that I send in an outline!!!!!!!!

Then I never did an update for y’all.

For, I was too traumatized.


After speaking with the editor, I devoted myself to the task for the next four weeks. Oh, how I enjoyed myself! It was as if a part of me which I had presumed dead — AUTHOR! — had miraculously returned to life! Each day at the computer creating chapter ideas was profoundly nourishing and, with tremendous excitement, I send the package off to the editor.

He responded quickly.


No? No? What?

He explained that the book I envisioned (large, packed with glossy color images, and with fold-out plans) would be expensive to produce and unlikely to recoup its costs.

I replied with a long email arguing my case but to no avail.

No remained No.

And all that joyexpectationshope? It struck a wall at a hundred miles an hour.

The next few months were grim. I felt shell-shocked. And sooooooo sad. My friend Patricia kindly listened to, and endured, my sorry tale over many many weeks.

I felt rudderless.


In October, I began returning to life but with periodic bouts of stomach-turning anxiety. Blessedly though, life these past few months has been vastly better than life was last summer.

I have shelved a book on the Cross House but had the idea of creating a YouTube channel: Restoring Ross. Which would, surprise, offer videos about the Cross House and other restoration stories. The videos would have ads so, perhaps, the channel could become a revenue stream.

There is a video about me and the house! Elizabeth, of Circa Old Houses, has an impressive fifty videos. Her most popular, by far, is on FREE HOUSES with an incredible one million views. Second favorite is the Cross House, with 370,000 views! Wow!

I am also planning to self-publish a book:

The book is in two parts. Part One details my career in New York City as an architectural designer. Part Two details the lessons I learned. Lessons which might help others earn more money, work less, and have a better time. The overall tone is…friendly and humorous. One person who read the manuscript said: “I never learned so much while laughing so hard.”




Next week begins Year Six of owning the Cross House and I plan to — ZOUNDS — move in! This will dramatically change my life and I tingle at the thought of waking in the house, and living in the house. Wow! Squee!

This sea change has been enabled by…YOU! In October I did a jokey post about Patricia’s cat, Tinker, sending me some money to build a cat fence. And then y’all sent in a bunch more money! The lack of a cat fence is the last big hurdle keeping me from moving into the house, so, BIG HUG!


In July, Julie brought New Kitty to me.




2018 also started out with true fear: Nuclear annihilation. For my whole life I never worried about being vaporized by the USSR or some other country. Never. But, in early 2018, I was worried about Trump going to war with North Korea. Even if North Korea did not bomb us, I was terrified that Trump would drop a nuclear bomb on them.  How was this even a possibility? Yet, it was.

For months I felt destabilized. What was the point of restoring a grand old house if that house would exist a world that I did not want to exist in, a world where nuclear war was a reality?

Later in the year, Trump and Kim became, ah, boyfriends or something and while this was (and is) really odd at least the bomb talk vanished and my fears ebbed away.

But then Trump began stealing children from parents. Wow. That just knocked me out. It still knocks me out. HOW was it possible that my country could be so cruel?

And Trump repeatedly went after immigrants and Muslims and people of color and the LBGT community. HOW was this all happening in 2018? HOW could so many people still support this man, this cruelty, and these horrors?

While my heart was seared by all this, my ability to continue moving was fueled by the ever-increasing evidence that the Trump Regime might not last until 2020. While crowds at Trump rallies chant LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP! it seems that every month yet another Trump associate/appointee is being indicted or charged or being put in jail.

As these words are written there are an unprecedented seventeen different Trump-related investigations:


Seventeen! Wow.


There have already been numerous indictments, guilty pleas, and people put in jail. And I am confident that, from a Trump-related legal perspective, all hell is going to break lose in 2019. The Mueller revelations (which I anticipate in 2019) alone will create global shock & awe.

I repeat: global shock & awe.

While pundits on the media endlessly say that a president cannot be indicted, this is not actually true:

  • There is nothing in the Constitution stating that a president cannot be indicted.
  • There is no law stating that a president cannot be indicted.
  • There is nothing to stop any state AG from indicting Trump.
  • There is nothing to stop any Grand Jury from indicting Trump.
  • There is nothing to stop the Trump Organization from being indicted.
  • There is a Department of Justice policy that the department cannot indict its boss, the president. NOTE: A policy is not law. And policies can be changed.

And, oh, all those Republican-led investigations into Hillary which went on for years?

ZERO indictments. ZERO guilty pleas. ZERO people in jail. And that is the definition of a witch hunt.



Election day, 2018.




The day proved a massive blue wave, the largest since 1973. The wave swept into power a lot of women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community.

I am a very proud Democrat. Why? Party because my party reflects the country. From

  • There will be 36 new women in the House; 35 are Democrats.
  • In the new House, 90% of the Republicans are white men while 38% of Democrats are white men

I am a very proud Democrat. Why? Party because my party has spent decades working to improve the lives of average Americans:

  • Created social security.
  • Created Medicare.
  • Created Medicaid.
  • Created a minimum wage.
  • Created a 40-hour work week.
  • Created subsidized housing for people with very low incomes.
  • Created food stamps for people in financial trouble (for several months in the late 1960s, my own family was on food stamps while my carpenter father struggled to find work in an economic downturn).
  • Create meals-on-wheels.
  • Created the Civil Rights Act.
  • Desegregated the military.
  • Believes in global warming.
  • Supports the LGBT community.
  • Supports a woman’s right to choose.
  • Supports a free press.
  • Supports America’s long-standing allies and denounces dictators.
  • Has created more jobs than the other party (Between 1939 and 2011, the Democrats created 58 millions jobs, verses 26 million Republicam-created jobs).
  • Is fiscally more responsible than the other party:


In November, I asked readers to name a single thing the Republican party has ever done to help the average American.

I never received a response.

I am a very proud Democrat, and the Blue Wave in November has done a lot to buoy my spirits these past two months, and rejuvenate my sense of hope. Come January 3, I look forward to a Democratic House which will work to improve health care for all Americans, protect DACA kids and give them a secure future, refuse to fund a racist (and pointless) wall, improve border security, help to improve wages, and so many other things to uplift the lives of millions.

A Democratic House will also do something which the current Republican House has refused to do for almost two years: Put a check on the Executive Branch.



My year began with the threat of nuclear annihilation.

My year ends on a note of hope.

My year began with the unsettling awareness that my magical plans for the house were just that, magic.

My year ends with an acceptance of reality about the house. And this, of course, will truly be better for not only me but for the house as well.

Overall, I feel optimistic for the future of my country, something I did not feel twelve months ago. Or even six months ago.

After Obama was elected in 2008, I read an article where an esteemed social scientist predicted that, if Obama served two terms, there would be a massive backslash against having a black man as president. The article predicted that the successor to Obama would be male, white, openly racist, and openly xenophobic. Well…wow.

This past November we witnessed another backsplash: to everything Trump represents. I anticipate not just another blue wave in 2020, but a friggin’ blue tsunami. I predict that in, say, a decade, half of Congress will be women. There will also be many many people of color, and many members of the LGBT community. In short, Congress, our Congress, may actually reflect the country for the first time.

I repeat: Congress, our Congress, may actually reflect the country for the first time.

And this fabulous, rich diversity will happen because of the Democratic party. My party. A party I am damn proud of.



16 Responses to 2018. The Year-End Update. THE ROSS.

  1. I don’t even live in the US and yet everything that happens in the US affects Australia. We have a saying “When America sneezes we catch a cold” and America has been doing a lot of sneezing in the last year.

    I hope and pray America and Australia ends up with kinder more inclusive governments for all our sakes. So glad the Democrats did well in the last election. Happy New year Ross, here’s to an amazing 2019.

    • From the Great White North, I can do one better; “When America sneezes, we get snot on our faces”. I’m cautiously optimistic that things are improving though. Although I feel that the rift in society will take much longer to heal. A great post, Ross. Wishing you the very best for 2019.

  2. I am devastated to hear about the book/s being a non starter. Perhaps the route is to get your name out there first and then publish later these must have books for fans of Ross and the Cross house. Or self publish. You are already a talented writer, just need to turn it into a revenue stream. Yes to selling advertising space in you-tube and your blog. There’s a certain sense of compromising your art for monetary gain but we live in a world where it is necessary to sell our talents. May 2019 be a truly amazing year for you and the CRoss house. It is going to be a strange and tumultuous year in politics (again). Reading your blog has given me clarity, a sense of achievement and amazement as you progress, laughter and delight. In an insane world it is truly a pleasure to meet you and your like-minded audience, here.

  3. Ross, how do you anticipate that (finally) moving into the Cross House in 2019 will affect your progress on the house? I imagine you’re now highly motivated to work toward that big goal; once you move in, there could be a natural let-down without that same sense of urgency. On the other hand, surely you’ll have more time and resources once you’re no longer caring for two houses.

  4. Greetings and wishes for a happy, healthy, prospand fun and BLUE 2019 (and onward) from a proud fellow Democrat.

    Great blog Ross. I also feel better about the new year politically, and I feel an undercurrent of hope. We have reached the midpoint with Trump. The nightmare is almost over – I truly hope.

    I am also delighted that Congress looks more like the actual country now. My feeling is that the environment is on of the biggest issues and must be addressed immediately if we all want to live on this planet.

    I am sorry to hear about the book deal being stagnated but keep on keepin’ on Ross. You totally know you have an audience and there are many options beyond a traditional publisher today.

    I like the video and I think you could make money sharing your knowledge.

    Wishing you and your wonderful community a fabulous 2019 and sending greetings from New York.

  5. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a couple of years and have read every post. You’ve done amazing work on your house and are an inspiration to all of us who are also renovating old houses on a small budget. Don’t give up! Keep going with those baby steps.

    This past year has been tumultuous. I recently read a comment that one year of Trump feels like 5,732 years. And it certainly feels like it! There’s so much drama packed into every day. However, I’m also optimistic that things will change for the better. So many people have realized that they need to step up and actively work to make things better. I think it will be a roller coaster, but we’ll get there in the end. Indiana Jones always survives.

  6. I’m addicted to watching YouTube videos and would most certainly subscribe to yours! It would be great to see you work in real time and get more detail on your process. This Old House has nothing on you! I have mixed feelings about the new year. While I’d like to believe that people of good will will prevail, and sanity will once again reign, I’ve watched as the Teflon Cheeto dodges every consequence. Things that would have brought down any other person in that position seem to slide right off and it’s damned disturbing. I only hope our country can be saved from this madness. I’d love to go back to ignoring politics. Meanwhile, I’ll be reading your blog and following your progress. Maybe I’ll even make it to Kansas on my way to Wisconsin this summer. Thanks for your commitment to making the Cross house shine again. It does matter. Love from Georgia!

  7. Happy New Year Ross, I wish you much success in 2019. It was disappointing to hear your book deal was passed by. The You-Tube of the Cross House restoration sounds very interesting, I’m sure it would do well. I do think our country will take a turn for the better, now that the House has so many more blue seats and Elizabeth Warren has set up an exploratory presidential committee. I have not had much of a chance to read your posts since Thanksgiving, since I was babysitting for my four month old grand daughter. I will be getting caught up on those in the next few weeks and look forward to reading your blog in the coming year.

  8. 2018 was certainly one for the books for me, too. So happy for you and all you have accomplished this past year, and as always, so grateful for the inspiration you provide to us through this wonderful blog. I wish you a great 2019, and hope that you are soon living happily in the Cross House!

  9. YES!!!! A YouTube channel is a fantastic idea! Not just for the AMAZING work you do on the Cross House, but I’d love to watch your process of restoring antique and vintage light fixtures.

    I wish you EVERY SUCCESS in 2019. Your blog has been a source of both inspiration and comfort for me these past few years. Thank you so much! Lisa

  10. plus books are old tech and it’s easier and cheaper to go online and sell book sections to download. your fave audible is doing just that. I bet they would pick up you reading your book. all your followers here would subscribe.
    the real political bright spot in the wave for me is AOC and she’s only freaking 29. thinks on her feet and easily slices up old white Republicans for breakfast lower the age for prez to 30 so she can run in 2020.keep up the good work. I know you will and although I am not crazy about your choice of fence (a Maine coon could climb it), I will send some money when I go back to work in May.

Leave a Response

Your email address will NEVER be made public or shared, and you may use a screen name if you wish.