The Cross House

Golly. What a Day!

MORNING

 

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I had to get two boxes ready for a FedEx pick-up this morning. The first box was for this incredible Gothic-style sconce, which has ceramic candle covers. Way cool. The sconce was part of a set of seven, and six had been shipped previously. This last one had some issues but I was able to resolve these, and complete the restoration. Whoee! The buyer was extremely gracious about the delay.

 

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Box #2 was a set of porcelain fixtures by Porcelier. There was this 3-bulb fixture, a 2-bulb fixture, and a pair of sconces. All had to be cleaned and rewired.

 

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When I restore lights, I always either listen to an audiobook, or a movie on the computer. For the last several days I have been watching The Martian. I do love a good space movie. Space! Mars! When working on lights, I can only watch a movie I have seen previously. You see, I need to know the plot so I can concentrate on what I am doing rather than stare at the screen. I saw The Martian three times when it came out last year. In the last few days I have “watched” it six more times. I know, weird, but the ritual is oddly satisfying. I don’t actually look at the screen much; only the good parts (like when the main character is rescued. Whoee!). Then, with both boxes packed, and left for FedEx, it was time for lunch!

 

 

AFTERNOON

 

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I adore ritual. Every Friday, I lunch at Ad Astra. When I wake up in the morning I think: Whoee! Ad Astra day!!!!!!!! The restaurant in just two block from my house. Now, I live in a town of 550 people. Yep, it is a SMALL town. Tiny. Its main street is not even a full block long. Yet…yet…we have a hipster restaurant! With good food! I LOVE IT! While dining, I pour over political news on my iPad. So, good food + politics = happy Ross.

 

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With lunch finished, I drove the twenty minutes to the Cross House. This image was taken today. I can’t help but STARE at the wonderful tower finials.

 

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This week I did a post about the re-installation of one of the three stained-glass transom windows in the round Receiving Room.

 

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Today, two more were given their final coat of gloss oil-based black paint on the wood sashes, and these windows will soon be reinstalled in the blank transom openings. Soon!!!!!!!!

 

DAMN GRASS

Another project this afternoon was mowing the grass.

For weeks it has been blistering hot, but today it “cooled” to just really hot. But really hot (and humid) is only fractionally better than blistering hot.

This is SO not conducive to mowing the lawn.

I had a young pup willing to do it, Josh, but he texted that he was uncertain if he could come by today. Ugh.

The lawn was already higher than I had ever allowed it, due to a broken mower, so waiting another day was kinda freaking me out. Plus, I am having guests tomorrow!

Since buying the house, the lawn has been religiously mowed to golf-course standards. While the exterior of the house is in various stages of presentability (some parts look great; most parts look disturbingly pitiful), and I can’t do much about this, I can control the lawn.

This is an old-house philosophy of mine: do whatever you can to be a good neighbor.

So while the house looks great from X angle, and like something waiting for a demolition permit from most other angles, I find it really really really helps if the lawn is kept immaculate, and all its edges maniacally trimmed. Oh, and a pair of…

 

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…flower pots on the front steps helps, too.

 

Oh, and clean windows matter!

I think these things make a big difference to my neighbors, and to the city (the Cross House is highly visible). A trim lawn, clean windows, and some potted flowers make it clear that the house is loved and being cared for. So, while the exterior restoration will take years, anybody walking or driving by cannot help but get the impression that something is happening. Perhaps even something magical.

 

HAROLD & WILMA

Just after starting my lighting restoration business in 2007, I kept hearing about Harold and Wilma.

“Have you met Harold and Wilma yet?”

“Oh! You HAVE to meet Harold and Wilma!”

“You really remind me of Harold and Wilma!”

It seemed that Harold and Wilma, and I, did, indeed, have a strong connection. As I learned, they, too, loved old lighting and had, it seemed, amassed a huge collection. Which they wanted to sell.

Which they wanted to sell.

I was breathless.

Finally, I got their phone number and an appointment was made. The couple lived 3-1/2-hours away, due west.

For the next two years, I drove to visit Harold and Wilma, and ended up purchasing most of their large stock. I also got to know them. And was awestruck.

For most of his life, Harold drove a milk truck from Hutchinson, KS, to Kansas City, MO. He would leave at like 11PM, then drive 3-1/2 hours to Kansas City. He dropped off the milk, then drove back to Hutchinson.

He did this for like thirty years! This job would have killed me in six months, but Harold loved it. He LOVES driving. When their three kids were young, Harold and Wilma would pack them into the car, spin a compass, and then head out in that direction to discover something new.

Harold finally retired, but, insatiably curious, he and Wilma just kept on driving. Along each trip, they would stop in antique stores and junk shops and salvage yards (people after my own heart) and buy old lights. In not much time at all, this turned into a second career, and their basement was soon stuffed with old lights. Then their garage. Then an an old building (a former corner grocery store) was rented. Then a steel building.

Yep, people after my own heart.

Harold restored many of these lights, which they sold word-of-mouth, and at the monthly flea market in Wichita.

By some miracle, just when Harold and Wilma realized that they should start downsizing, I arrived in their life. Being shown their storage buildings was like being escorted into Aladdin’s Cave. I was gobsmacked.

Each buying trip (there would be many) was also an opportunity to get to know the couple better. And the more I learned the more dazzled I was. One hears the phrase salt of the Earth, but Harold and Wilma personified this. Although now elderly, they were always helping other elderly and less mobile people. They thought nothing about venturing out during a heat wave to clean up a semi-delict house (washing windows and trimming back overgrowth). When I asked them why they were doing this, they replied: “Because it needs it.” They fretted each winter that wild birds were not getting enough food.

 

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In 2001, a devastating tornado swept through the small town where Harold and Wilma lived. Blocks and blocks of houses were utterly demolished. Just two houses from this horror, Harold and Wilma’s house stood…untouched.

 

One day I drove to their town not to buy more treasures, but to tour a Lustron House which was now a museum. Harold and Wilma had been, of course, instrumental in saving it from demolition, and getting it turned into a museum. It was the first time I had been in a Lustron, and was thrilled thrilled thrilled.

Then one day I received an email.

Wilma had severely hurt her back. It was bad. Very bad. Then several years passed and I received only intermittent news.

Then came even worse news. The worst.

A world without Wilma? How was this possible?

Since buying the Cross House, I had been eager to give a grand tour for Harold and Wilma.

And tomorrow…tomorrow…Harold is coming, joined by his daughter. Although the reunion will be a bit bittersweet, I am sooooooooooooo excited.

So, damn the heat, the damn grass had to be cut today!

Also tomorrow, is a tour for about a dozen people from a writer’s group. Writers! They contacted me and I replied: “Sure!”

 

LATE AFTERNOON

I got most of the lawn cut and edged.

I was dripping wet.

While finishing, Sharol stopped by briefly. As I stood, imitating a built-in pool, we chatted about politics. Or, rather, perhaps I chatted about politics. But Sharol was gracious and it is always nice seeing her.

At last, the damn grass was cut, I mopped myself off, changed into a dry shirt (is anything better than a dry shirt?), and drove home.

Upon arrival, I could not get out of the car. My body was just locked into place. I felt as if I had been run over by not one, not two, but…

 

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…three trains. Oh baby, I hurt.

 

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Before I could collapse, there were some chores to do. Drat! DRAT! One was to burn the oil-soaked rags from the Cross House. Such rags can spontaneously combust, and I never never never leave them in the house, and never never never bunch them up. Normally, I burn them at the house, but today could not find the matches, and was too exhausted to search for them. So the rags came home with me, to meet their fiery end.

 

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The cats had to be fed, Gilda attended to (her every wish is my desire) and, lastly, the goldfish fed. Then, praise the Lord, I could at last sit in front of my computer, in the air-conditioning, a COLD cocktail at hand, and catch up on whatever political nonsense had transpired since lunch. Oh…I am with her.

 

 

 

 

10 Responses to Golly. What a Day!

  1. Oh, but of course Wilma will be with you and Harold during the tour tomorrow. Every second. I’m sure she wouldn’t miss it.

  2. Thank you for merely skirting the edges of politics in your postings. Much appreciated.

    Have a wonderful Saturday. I’m sure the house will be preening. After all, she was born for this.

  3. It is amazing what a tidy yard will do to the appearance of a house. A few weeks ago one of my neighbors did a big time yard clean up and it looks like a brand new (old) house. You are a good neighbor.

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