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.

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

A Birthday Announcement (with very bad language).

I’m 63 today. Fuck. HOW did that happen? I used to love getting older. When I was 10 my best friend’s mother said: “You must be so excited to be 10!” I thought for a moment and replied with something which surprised me: “Well, I’d rather be 40.” She gasped, and furiously told me how… Continue Reading

Detroit: Ransom Gillis House

This is Part V in a series. Part I is here. Part II. Part III. Part IV.               In my previous four posts in this Detroit series, I detail how three historic homes in Brush Park were reborn on the cheap (by a massively well-funded developer), while one home… Continue Reading

Detroit: The Henry Glover House

This is Part IV in a series. Part I is here. Part II. Part III. Part V.     From my previous posts: The city of Detroit, which owned these three houses and the surrounding land, offered all for redevelopment, stipulating that the historic houses had to be retained. And this, this, was the mistake.… Continue Reading

Detroit: 113 Alfred Street

This is Part III of a series. Part I is here. Part II is here. Part IV is here. Part V is here.             From my previous posts: The city of Detroit, which owned these three houses and the surrounding land, offered all for redevelopment, stipulating that the historic houses… Continue Reading

Detroit: 105 Alfred Street

This is Part II of a series. Part I is here. Part III is here. Part IV is here. Part V is here.                   From my previous post: The city of Detroit, which owned these three houses and the surrounding land, offered all for redevelopment, stipulating that… Continue Reading

Detroit: The James V. Campbell House

This is Part I of a series. Part II is here. Part III is here. Part IV is here. Part V is here.   Brush Park is a residential neighborhood just north of downtown Detroit. In the latter 19th-century, Brush Park was chock-o-block with grand mansions. The advent of the automobile however meant that people… Continue Reading

Another Detroit Resurrection: Alfred Street

I was born in Detroit, the 1957 model year. For decades the city was synonymous with decay. During the last five years though there has been an astonishing turnaround, which I have posted about several times. One house, in particular, became THE poster child for abandonment:           Alfred Street is in… Continue Reading

Deceiving Sweetness

      Sound and fury….signifying nothing. They love it. And it’s almost always sweetpea New Kitty who attacks Gray. You can even see Gray’s submissive position. This is generous of her as she’s older, bigger, and was here first. Years ago I had a small dog and a very large dog (standard poodle). The… Continue Reading

Fabulous, Gentle Sid.

Last October, Sid moved in with me. I did a post about this. He originally belonged to a neighbor but when she moved…she left Sid. Days passed before I realized this, and I was horrified to discover that Sid had not eaten since she left. I ran across the street to give him food and… Continue Reading


WHAT AM I THANKFUL FOR? When I was born in 1957, nobody recycled. I’m thankful this has changed. When I was born in 1957, rivers used to routinely catch fire due to being so polluted. I’m thankful this never happens anymore due to the EPA. When I was born in 1957, American cities suffered from… Continue Reading

A Short Kitty Tale

Today, this story popped into my head after four decades:   I took my beloved cat Little Boy to the vet. He was there for two days. When I picked him up, the vet brought him out at the far end of the long table. I was at the other end. The vet opened the… Continue Reading

Thoughts About The Top Five

WARNING! This is a political post.   Rachel Bitecofer, the person who accurately predicted the 2018 Blue wave well before anybody else, has released her 2020 projections. She states that, no matter the Democratic candidate, the party will at the very least get 278 electoral votes. She states that the 2018 Blue wave was NOT created by policy but rather mostly by anti-Trump fervor. She believes… Continue Reading

Can This House Be Saved: 601 Spring St, Quincy, Illinois

The fabulous Kelly, of Old House Dreams, posted a fabulous house built in 1887. Today, the house is surrounded by industrial properties, and a scattering of other fine old houses, many in poor condition. It is obvious however that a century ago the neighborhood was elegant and prosperous. Sigh.            … Continue Reading

The Brilliance of Carl

    I told Carl that he could in no way just pull up the tiles and replace them with something else. Because Carl is pragmatic (rather than insane, like me) I suggested simply infilling with plaster and painting it a brick color or something. “That way, the new owner will at least have the… Continue Reading

A Man Named Pete

This is a political post. If you don’t like politics, don’t scroll down…                                         When you have some time, you may enjoy watching this video (below). It’s from Sunday, when Pete Buttigieg officially launched his 2020 presidential… Continue Reading

Book Covers!!!!!!!!

In 2001, and 2004, I had two books published. I’m really proud of this. I so enjoyed researching and writing books that I continued to write away, and over the next few years wrote several more books, and had ideas for several more. Nine new books total. In 2006, my lighting business began and, all… Continue Reading

Is There a Doctor In The House?

  Doug replied: “That is the original plaster ceiling medallion from the dining room. It was really damaged so I removed it 35-years-ago. It’s been up here ever since.” Wow. Is there anybody out there that can repair it? It’s broken in half, and has several small broken off bits. One small area is missing.… Continue Reading

Gutting Your Old House. JUST SAY NO!

        As the decades passed, cities and communities across the land recognized and worked to protect their historic heritage, and what Detroit did in 1961 became unthinkable. Then…and then…HGTV came along. And the idea of historic preservation was rolled back to a 1950s mentality. Out with the old! In with the new!… Continue Reading

CAN THIS HOUSE BE SAVED? 135 12th St NW, Canton, OH

              There are a lot more images here. The house haunts me. It is incredibly gorgeous inside and the exterior, restored, would no doubt be an eye-popper. Yet it sits. Unsold. With but a price of $25K. The location of the house, and its condition, would terrify 99.9% of… Continue Reading

All Aboard!

On Friday, I was in Topeka, and went to the museum of the Kansas Historical Society. It was fabulous and fascinating. I wandered from exhibit to exhibit, and saw, for the first time in my life, actual Indian teepees. Wow. Then I turned a corner…and gasped. Gasped! Wanna see? Scroll way down.      … Continue Reading

Road Trip!

        In short, the road trip involved a select gathering of insane-people-who-own crazy-big-old-houses. I was in heaven. Squee!!!!!!!! The reason for the trip was for me to help Doug with the process of installing period-correct lighting in his 1902 house. Doug, and his wife Diana, purchased the house in 1983, when it was… Continue Reading

Roman Kitties!

From Wikipedia: The Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary is a cat shelter in Rome, Italy, that makes use of the ancient ruins of Largo di Torre Argentina by providing a home within them for around 150 cats. After the excavation of the temple ruins in 1929, feral cats moved into the area, sheltered by roman pillars and… Continue Reading

Painting a Historic House

The 1886 Haas-Lilienthal House is a historic house museum in San Fransisco. It is quite the stunner and for many years looked like this:     Wanna see? Scroll way down. In 2018, a multi-million dollar restoration was completed. The original colors were ascertained and the results are both startling and unexpected.      … Continue Reading


  Brad mentioned that they had the original drawings. This information made me salivate, and I looked at Brad with pleading eyes and said: “Please, sir, can I see the drawings? Please? Please?” And then two hours vanished in a flash as Susan and Brad and I, like kids let loose in a candy store,… Continue Reading

Before. After.

There is a FABULOUS 1880s house in Wichita. It had been restored in the 1980s. And then declined. And declined. And declined. This is not, sadly, an uncommon story with old houses. By 2018, the house looked terrible, and was listed for sale, cheap. So cheap that my friend, Carl, worried that it would be… Continue Reading

A Tiny Rescue

Yesterday morning, I opened my side door. And received a shock. Then the next two hours of my life took an unexpected, and all-consuming turn.   On the porch was a sorta stray cat I call Tiny. She is small, and with long fur. I say sorta stray because she, I think, actually belongs to… Continue Reading

Lucky Ross

Today, I pulled into the Chrysler dealer. The key fob for my 2010 mini-van was just not working. A week previous, I had a new battery installed. This was after having a new battery installed just a month previous. It was obvious that my key fob was experiencing its death throes. The woman at the… Continue Reading

Do You Want to be on the Right Side of History?

WARNING: This is a political post.     The above image is famous. It depicts a moment in time when nine African-American students, escorted by the National Guard, were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The nine students were surrounded by an angry mob of white people who did not want to share… Continue Reading

The Loss of Valuable Things

In the fall of 1978, I moved from Florida to New York City. I was twenty-one, and had $200 to my name. How insane was that? My first apartment was on East 12th Street, a one bedroom. It was $650 a month, which is today laughable but which was scary $$$$ at the time as… Continue Reading

Lies About Your Health Care PART II

Warning: This is a political post. You may not be interested in politics, but your life may depend on the following words.   Five days ago I wrote this: “Around the country, Republicans are on the campaign trail. And a lot of them are, bizarrely for Republicans, defending Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even Trump… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet Sid?

Sid belonged to my neighbor. Then she moved. And left him. Then another neighbor took him in. Then she moved. And left him. It took a while, but I managed to coax him over to my house, where he has lived outside for the almost four years. He is one of “front porch kitties”, about… Continue Reading

Lies About Your Health Care

Warning: This is a political post. You may not be interested in politics, but your life may depend on the following words.   Around the country, Republicans are on the campaign trail. And a lot of them are, bizarrely for Republicans, defending Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even Trump is stating, vigorously, that he supports… Continue Reading

Remembering Tom Payne

Memory is a peculiar thing. Old memories can arrive unbidden after decades, and yet still seem fresh and alive. Today, I was sanding a basement window at the Cross House when Tom Payne reentered my mind. I have not thought about Tom in many years. But, I have never forgotten him. In 1973, I was… Continue Reading

Kitty Kaption Kontest

  New Kitty: Don’t look at me; you’re the one that keeps feeding it! As challenging as the category for this round of charades was (national flags: South Korea) Gray and New Kitty had victory in sight… and then someone’s paw strayed into the DMZ. New Kitty: She’s sniffing my paw! That means I get… Continue Reading

Cat Fight!

        This all looks fierce. It wasn’t. The two enjoyed it. I could tell right away that Gray was down with being assaulted because her tail never fluffed up, as it would if she was freaked. And at one point she bolted to the safety of the night table…only to casually walk… Continue Reading

Bounty Kat

  This is Sid. He was originally a neighbor’s cat. Then she moved…and left him. Another neighbor took him in. He’s incredibly sweet. Then she moved…and left him. Sigh. So, I have been feeding him. During the winter, I made a special box for him to snuggle in. Three nights ago, while I was less-than-sober,… Continue Reading

A Day Which Will Live In Infamy

This is a political post. If you don’t care about America, don’t scroll down…                                           Recently, Trump trashed our allies. Recently, Trump trashed the European Union. Recently, Trump trashed NATO. But today? Today, Trump praised… Continue Reading

An Uncomfortable Calm

Today, there was no small furry creature racing and careening around the house. Today, there was no small furry creature nibbling on my fingers and purring as I petted her. Today, there was no small furry creature attacking crumpled Post-It notes, dive-bombing dust bunnies, and climbing up my jeans. Today, the house was eerily silent.… Continue Reading

Detroit Reborn: The James Scott Mansion

Previously, I did a post about the extraordinary resurrection of Detroit, where I was born. During the last five years, numerous long-abandoned skyscrapers have been restored, and across the city countless houses have been brought back from the dead. The story of one structure, in particular, has astounded me: The James Scott Mansion.    … Continue Reading

New Kitty!

Seven days ago I received a frantic note from Julie, who visited the Cross House last year. She was visiting her elderly parents at the family farm when something unexpected arrived: A cat, which Julie suspected was dumped in the area. As Julie wrote: She showed up 2 days ago way up high in the tree… Continue Reading

An Unexpected Poodle

                                          Patricia thought the look was kinda sorta somewhat…becoming. I assured her that she was wrong. And I am pretty sure that Dieter agrees with me.   Continue Reading

Evil is as Evil Does

This is a political post. If you don’t like politics, don’t scroll down.                                             If you are an American citizen, or a person who values decency, you should be stunned and appalled and ANGRY… Continue Reading

Fantasy Living

For decades, I have found that a very useful mind tool is fantasy. So, if I become aware that I have spent too much time thinking about something troubling, I will catch myself in mid-troubling thought and force myself to think of something…diverting. It helps to have a default diversion. For several years I have… Continue Reading

The Carl Chronicles

    I first saw the house two years ago and it is a knock-out inside, as would be predicted. But the kitchen? I shrieked upon first stepping into the circa-1980 horror. “Carl! How have you lived with this for four years? I would have torn this out during the first month!” Carl sighed. “Yea,… Continue Reading

An Accidental Encounter with Harvey Ellis

Last Saturday I made a road trip! I hooked up with my friend Carl, and we drove to St. Joseph, MO, to visit my friend Blair, and tour the city. St. Joseph has long intrigued me, mostly due to the comments on Old House Dreams when a house from the city is posted. It seems… Continue Reading

A Not Quite Restoration

For two decades, whenever I visited the city, I would always drive by to see The House. I loved the house. It was brick, 1880s, and with an extraordinary turret rich with leaded-glass curved windows. Also of note was its condition. Which was terrible. The porch was decaying, paint peeled on every surface, and the… Continue Reading

A Deluxe Home for Gray!

I am so excited! Yesterday, the absurdly expensive super-deluxe custom-made KittyMansion™ from catsaregods.com arrived! And I am thrilled that Gray loves it! I feel SO much better about spending $4,865! Wanna see? Scroll way down…                                        … Continue Reading

My New Baby!

So, I came home around 5PM and went out to feed the yard kitties. They were all acting strange. This is NOT a good sign. I looked around and saw several cats around Flash, who was standing still. With something in his mouth. Something furry. Shit. I calmly walked towards Flash. Then I yelled: FLASH!… Continue Reading

A Petite Visitor

This morning, I showered, and then reached for the towel to dry myself. Then I placed the towel back on its hook. It was then that I saw a spider at the edge of the tub. I like spiders. So, I wished it no harm and turned away. A moment later I moved to the… Continue Reading


This is a political post. If you don’t like politics, don’t scroll down.                                       Trump spent eight years claiming that the economy under Obama was terrible. This, like almost everything Trump says, is a lie. Trump has… Continue Reading


  Gray likes to sit, like a furry gargoyle, on the back of my desk chair. Tonight, I thought: can I snap a picture of her behind me?           Continue Reading

A Gray Adventure. A Ross Nightmare.

I have just aged ten years during the past two hours. My nightmare began when I got home at 5:30, and went to feed my yard kitties. These are my outdoor beasts, safe behind an eight-foot-high unclimbable fence. During the day, I let Gray out into the yard. As mentioned previously, I found her last… Continue Reading

A Guilty Gray

  Gray. You can just hear her thinking: What? What? I haven’t been anywhere I wasn’t supposed to be. Really! And why don’t I quite believe her?   Continue Reading

Destroying America

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                     After four decades of hard work, our lakes and rivers are vastly cleaner. Today though, the GOP is… Continue Reading

Favorite Books

I love books and own a lot of them. Indeed, one of the reasons I purchased the Cross House was because it had a library. For my whole life, the idea of an entire room dedicated just for books seemed an impossible dream. Two of my favorite books are, unsurprisingly, about restoration. These two books… Continue Reading

The Value of Details

      It was so sad realizing how beautiful the house had once been, but would likely never be again. Sigh. But…but…a company which buys old houses, fixes them, and resells them purchased the house. This is normally bad news for an old house as these so-called flippers usually destroy any soul an old… Continue Reading

A Gray Adventure

On September 2, 2017, I discovered a kitten under my front porch. I could see the kitten through the deck boards, and I gently called out. “Kitty! Kitty! Here kitty!” Slowly, cautiously, the kitten came out from under the porch and jumped onto the deck. “Hello!” The kitten was very small. Maybe three months old?… Continue Reading

The Liar-In-Chief

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                                 You might think this is just silly. It is not. Trump lies… Continue Reading

Are We Winning? Yet????????

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                   FYI: “Travel to the U.S. has been on the decline ever since…Trump took office, and new data shows the… Continue Reading

Lying Bastards

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                         Even though the GOP controls all three branches of governments, our government has been shut down… Continue Reading

The Liar-in-Chief

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                                     In my experience, Trump supporters are also hostile to the… Continue Reading

Making America…A Shithole

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                               But now, he is being ripped from his family and deported back to… Continue Reading

A MUFFLED BEAUTY: 16 Clinton Ave, Fort Plain, NY

On the fabulous Old House Dreams, commentator Holly linked to a house in upstate New York. The house is a muffled beauty. An exceptional beauty. Yet 99.9% of buyers will not see the beauty. They will only see the work required to restore the house. Or the work to — shudder — update the house. With… Continue Reading

Self Delusion vs. Reality

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                     Donald Trump: My administration has been one of the most successful in American history!!!!!!!! The Majority Public: Nope.  … Continue Reading

A Furry Discovery

Yesterday, I stepped into my bedroom…and was amazed by what I found. Scroll way down…                                           This was the first time I have ever seen old-ish Spot (left) and old-ish Fine (center) sharing space with… Continue Reading

Delicious Holiday Gifts!

Want to buy some unique holiday gifts? Bo is offering a variety of delicious items created from vintage wallpaper, and through his company, Bolling & Company. Like, for example:       And Bo has more! Visit here, and happy holidays!     Continue Reading

There Are None So Blind…

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                     One of the constant refrains I hear from Trump supporters is: “He’s bringing jobs back to America!” I… Continue Reading

Economic Facts

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                             When I talk with Trump supporters one thing I hear a lot is: “Hey!… Continue Reading

Oh. Dear. God.

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                                 Trump tweeted this yesterday. This is real. Why would he do something… Continue Reading

A Year Ago Today…

This is a political post. If you hate politics, do not scroll down. If you do scroll down….caveat emptor.                                             Continue Reading

Missing Kitties

  Yesterday, Gray went to the vet. Time to get spayed. I will pick her up tomorrow. And my house feels utterly devoid of life without her. How can a creature which I did not know even existed two months ago so infiltrate a human heart?     Continue Reading

See-through Brilliance

My friend Eric, and his partner, Jim, have an old barn-like structure on their property. The siding on the structure was ancient, full of holes, and with missing pieces. But Eric loved the look of the structure, its patina, and its only-time-can-create aesthetic. So, how to make the structure weather-tight while preserving all this? Scroll… Continue Reading

New Kitty Goes To Work With Daddy!

While feeding the stray “front porch” kitties one morning, I saw a pair of eyes looking at me between the deck boards. The eyes were under the deck. As I continued sprinkling dry food on the deck, a small gray paw reached through the boards and clawed at some food, which disappeared between the crack.… Continue Reading

And So It Begins…

Last year I joined the Strong City Preservation Alliance. Strong City is a small town (very small, population 455) in Kansas. I have lived here since 1996. The Alliance has been focused on restoring the devastated 1900 Auditorium, and I suggested, of course, a blog. The blog went live today with its first post.  … Continue Reading

Cruelly Tossing History Into The Dumpster

I have done numerous posts about FABULOUS houses being brutalized by new owners. Original kitchens, for example, which I would kill for have been torn out and replaced with Home Depot crap. Varnished trim has been painted white. Gorgeous mantels have been replaced with plain slabs of marble. You know what I mean. Yet, this… Continue Reading

A Furry Visitor

            As he/she ate, I was able to pet the newcomer who growled and grumbled nonstop at the surrounding crowd. So, New Cat did not seem afraid of me but sure did not intend on mingling with the other beasts. After dinner, New Cat lounged well away from everybody…and then… Continue Reading

Furry Babies!

The other day I was sitting at my desk. It was late in the day but still daytime. Then something caught my eye out the window. Oh. Oh! OH! Scampering past was a mother raccoon and SIX babies! SIX! It is unusual seeing them during daylight hours but with SIX babies to nurse I assumed… Continue Reading

A Global Apology

  Today I feel shattered. The last time I felt shattered was on 11/8/16. The time before that? 9/11/01. What happened today? Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. This is a big deal. This is a huge fucking deal.     So, as of today America sides with but a… Continue Reading

Destroying Something Rare & Special

                                      The new owners who did this stated that they loved the house. “We didn’t want to mess with it.” Huh???????? They messed with every inch. They willfully took every distinctive original feature and threw it away or… Continue Reading

An Unexpected Visitor

Last night I stepped into my bathroom to take a pee. As I finished this vital task, I stepped away. Then a bit of movement caught my eye. The room was dark, only lighted from the adjacent room. I stared at the wall. What was that? High up on the wall is the toilet tissue… Continue Reading

A Palm Springs SHOCK!

Are you sitting down? Do you have sunglasses on? Are you drunk? All three are required to view the following. Scroll down…                                     Kelly just posted on her blog, Old House Dreams, the MOST over-the-top, meticulously preserved, eye-popping,… Continue Reading

A Furry Blur

For a long time, I thought I saw him before I knew I saw him. Just before going to bed each night I would look out through the front window – the nightly ritual. How many species of creatures might be nibbling up the last remnants of food left earlier on the porch for the… Continue Reading

Wanna Meet JC?

JC blogs about his 1923 Foursquare. He also blogs about fixing clocks. And upholstering fixture. And making fine cabinetry. And other cool old houses. And renovating houses for friends. He is young, too. Disturbingly so for someone with so many talents and so much friggin’ experience. After I read his every post I felt like… Continue Reading

Wanna See Something Unexpected?

Yesterday, Ashley brought something to my attention. She warned me that I might faint. The warning proved timely.                                                               The house appears in mint condition… Continue Reading


I end most of my days reading a bit in bed before turning off the lights. For seventeen years this ritual was hugely blessed by my cat Gilda. As soon I settled in, with book in hand, she would snuggle alongside the left side of my chest, and drape her paws and head across my… Continue Reading

Wanna Freak Out?

Travis sent me an email with attached images. He also wrote: “I thought you might enjoy seeing someone screwed up a 1931 kitchen.” Oh. That didn’t sound good. So I, with trepidation, looked at the images. But…WHAT was Travis talking about?                            … Continue Reading

Wanna Freak Out?

    I just go bonkers over such intact rooms, and at the same time fear that the new owner will tear out all this beauty to “update” the house. Let’s all pray for this Spanish/Deco treasure.     Continue Reading

A Furry Intruder!

Yesterday I wrote about the extraordinary arrival of Spot in my office. The poor dear is skittish to an extreme and spends her time in the house mostly hidden. But yesterday she appeared on my desk, and then stepped into my all-too-happy arms. Tonight I was working at my desk when I heard an almost… Continue Reading

Attacked! By Furry Beasts!

I was working to finish the restoration of a 1960s crystal chandelier for a repeat client. It needed to be in a box tomorrow morning for FedEx. While working, Stevie cat sauntered across my desk and bonked against my chest. This, as he recently taught me, was the signal that he wanted my lap. Being… Continue Reading

Fact Check #1

NOTE: This post is under the heading of OTHER COOL THINGS on my blog. This is where I reserve the right to post about things other than restoration, like about kitties or a movie I liked or, eek, about politics!   During the 2016 election campaign I paid a lot, and I mean a lot, of… Continue Reading

Respecting the Historical Narrative. PART II

In a previous post I wrote about my efforts to protect the historical narrative of the 1894 Cross House. If X feature is missing, like a bathroom sink/vanity, I will do research to learn what sink/vanities looked like in 1894, and will then go on the hunt for such an item. All the lighting was… Continue Reading

My Hillbilly Attack. A Short Story.

Recently, I mentioned that I had lost 26 pounds. This thrills me. But my pants kept falling down. My belt had no more of those little holes, and about a month ago I began constantly pulling my pants up as I walked around. This was annoying, yes, but the solution was a trip to Walmart… Continue Reading

Inspiring Visits & Vanishing Hours

I can’t watch or read any news right now for I get instantly depressed. Moreover, with being knocked out by a flu, I am also finding it hard to concentrate. A double whammy. So, it was with immense pleasure that I happened upon the website to The Landmarks Trust, a UK-based organization which does something… Continue Reading

My Love/Hate Relationship with ATOMIC RANCH

I was SO excited when I first saw Atomic Ranch magazine on a newsstand in 2004. A whole magazine about Mid-Century Modern houses? Ross happy! Instantly, I subscribed and now have every issue. But…but…this is the only magazine subscription I have where I don’t look through it the day it arrives or the day after.… Continue Reading

Damn. Damn, damn, damn. DAMN!

For my whole life I have watched incredible buildings be demolished. And I am now old enough to frequently hear, decades after some magnificent treasure was smashed to the ground: “Gee? Why did we knock it down? Looking back, it was actually an incredible building. We should have saved it.” Yes, should have. The wonderful… Continue Reading

Cat Naps

Recently, my beloved treasured adored cherished fabulous Gilda departed after sixteen years together. Even more recently, the extraordinary Emerald departed. And the inside of my house became…silent. And felt dead. For my whole life I lived with animals, and suddenly at fifty-nine my house was devoid of furry creatures. However….just outside…I have a lot of… Continue Reading

An Emerald Update

Seven days ago I did a post about an old stray cat which kinda sorta adopted me. He went blind at some point, and it was evident that he was now in a rapid decline. My days and patterns adjusted to Emerald’s ever-changing new realities, and of late he became extra picky about the food… 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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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 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 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

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