Sunday, March 23, 2008

Time Flies!

I can't believe spring is here. Now all we need is some consistantly springy weather. I shouldn't complain, though; there have been some lovely days and the weather is gradually geting warmer.

Things are slowly progressing in the house - the soygel works slowly but is really melting the paint off the fireplace brick. (note to self: take pictures) I tried some on my lower front windows and it peeled the ugly stuff right off. I am coming ot the realization, however, that no matter what one uses to strip paint the stripping part is tedious and nasty. Ah well, a little at a time. The great thing about the soygel is that is does not make me feel sick.

A friend who has a silent paint remover has offered to give me a demo when she starts stripping the paint from her porch. Even my beloved soygel drips more than I would like and it'll be interesting to see a painstripper that uses heat and not goo. The horrible heat gun I had a few years ago doesn't count. :P

The garden has been laid out and folks have started planting. The best part? I didn't have to do any of it. :) I did buy some herb seeds and I'm going to plant them in the front beds against the porch but it's going ot be small and manageable. (she says with great conviction) The heavy duty gardening will be left to the community gardeners. (note to self: take pictures)

There were some concerns over my Black Walnut tree and its poisonous to veggies nature but I found some websites that have lists of plants that will co-exist nicely with Black Walnut trees. Trees=bliss.

Here are some links with info about Black Walnut trees:

Ain't Google grand?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Community garden, part the second

The gracious Mr. Mark Powell met one of my neighbors at my house last weekish to have a gander at my yard. My next door neighbor, a retired man who mowed my lawn all last summer when I was too sick to do it, came out and joined the conversation. I'm guessing that the sight of two strangers, one long haired, set off his neighborly concern alarm. The upshot is that he donated the use of his plow to the cause and a few days later I had a big plowed and tilled area in my back yard.

I went over to thank him a couple of days ago and he said that my gardening buddies impressed him enough that he was happy to lend them the plow. Apparently he was right in there plowing with my other neighbor with whom he seems to have bonded.

This never would have happened in my old neighborhood in Jersey.

Mark dropped off a set of rules for the gardeners and a lease for me. I suppose the next step is to figure out who wants a spot and how many we're going to create in the yard.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

busy, busy, busy...

It's been a scurrying sort of week as I try to clean my house, get back to work, and have a social life. A friend pointed out today that I've spent all of my time here in Roanoke either taking care of my terminally ill mom or being in cancer treatment. Despite all of that I still love this area and am really jazzed that I'll be able to finally see it as a well rested healthy person. :)

I finally bought a quart of Soygel and tried it on my painted fireplace. It works the way they said it would and the smell is really minimal. It does have a plastic-y smell that I wouldn't want to dab behind my ears but it's bearable and doesn't permeate the house. It does require quite a few hours to work, but work it does. It lifts the paint right off the surface and is stupidly easy to remove with a plastic putty knife.

Starting the paint removal process on my fireplace has solved a mystery for me: why did the house flippers paint over the brick in the first place? The paint is so thin that I assumed it was only one layer. Alas, there's a layer of deep red paint under the white. It's a horrible color and is being a real bear to remove. The white paint is lifting off nicely. The red paint isn't. I'm guessing that it's being difficult because it's right on top of that nice porous brick. I'm removing paint from a small area right now so if the red paint doesn't come off well I may just paint over it all in a nicer color. Cross your fingers for me.

Friday, February 29, 2008

It's over, done, kaput...

One week ago today I finished radiation but more importantly, my entire 8 1/2 months of cancer treatment. :) I've been mostly sleeping this week, in between going back to work half time.

A small group of friends, including the uber fabulous chicken men, showed up and surprised me at the last treatment. Another friend, who is a cancer survivor, came with flowers. The radiation staff gave me a certificate. How cool is that?

My wonderful boyfriend took us out for breakfast afterward.

It's great to feel my energy slowly come back.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Yet another blog...

I've started another blog. It's intended to be a listing of sites/resources I've found with regard to historic designations and home owner politics in Roanoke. Here is the link:

Community Gardens

I attended our neighborhood association meeting last night and heard a terrific presentation from a guy named Mark Powell who has started some community gardens in Roanoke. What a neat dude! I was so impressed with his attitude and committment to the cause that I volunteered my back yard for use as a community garden this year. The part that convinced me this was a Good Idea was the fact that all the gardens his organization plants are organic. Perfect!

I thought that having a community garden in my yard would be a wonderful life affirming thing. What better way to get my strength back from my cancer treatment? And make new friends to boot!

One of my neighbors is already talking to me about planting in my yard. Bring on the seeds!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bring Spring! Like, Now!

I have that flu that's been stomping through the Roanoke area. Somewhere along the line it managed to turn into bronchitis.

Four more radiation treatments and I am oficially done with cancer forevah! Like, totally.

The house is neglected, poor thing, while I cough and hack. I have a basement drain to unstop as soon as I can muster the energy for it. Ah! The joys of home ownership. Bring on the baking soda, vinegar, and the snake. Oh yeah!

A friend has offered to help me plant a garden this year. I seriously need to look at some garden planning books. I have big dreams of an herb garden and a labyrinth.

Here's a description of how one goes about walking a labyrinth on the site:

Wouldn't it be lovely to have one right in one's own backyard? Ya know, next to the chicken coop? :)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ask Google and Ye Shall Receive

Here is a link to the Department of Historic Resources website:

Of particular interest, to me at least, is the FAQ:

I found this entry really interesting:

"Some friends live in a historic district, and they tell me that they have to get permission from a board to repair their porch or paint their house. Will I have officials looking over my shoulder if I register my house? No. Only locally designated historic districts are subject to local zoning ordinances and procedures. Sometimes, a property or district may be listed at the national, state, and local levels but it is only the local designation that places restrictions on private owners."

So the actual registration of a property does not mean that the owner will be subject to restrictions on what they can do with their property. Those restrictions are left to local governments, who are organized under a Certified Local Government (CLG) program. More info here:

This makes sense in terms of the differences between varying Architectural Review Boards.

I have a lot of questions with regard to accountability, the public's role in setting these CLGs up, and citizen aproval processes, if any.

There's a local DHR office right in Roanoke. It would be interesting to pay them a visit and get a detailed overview.

Another Unpacking Party?

One of the friends who helped organize the unpacking party thrown for me last summer is talking about doing it again. It's true that I am completely overwhelmed with boxes and spending my unpacking energy getting back to work. Lucky for me, there's a terrific pizza place a few blocks away that makes yummy box unpacker feeding goodies. :)

Also lucky for me I have little shame when it comes to my messy house. :P

My friends amaze me on a regular basis.

Someone Else's Local Politics

Here's an interesting article about a neighborhood battle over a historic designation:

I'd like to find out what the procedure is for a Historic Designation application. One hopes that it is a more democratic process than the one outlined in htis article.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Local politics

A very nice representative from the city came to our neighborhood association meeting last week. One of the things I love about my neighbors, at least the ones who regularly come to the meetings, is that they are not shy. They are not shy about asking difficult questions or saying what is on their minds. They are also so nice about it that one cannot be offended.

We asked the rep about everything from recycling (he'd come to tell us about a recycling contest between our neighborhood and the one next to us) to civic plans. The city spent a lot of money on an Architectural Planning Guide to guide folks through the exterior renovation process. It recommends things such as period appropriate colors and building styles and adornments. Some of us have been suspicious that it is a move toward designating more neighborhoods as historic. So we asked. The rep said that our neighborhood was not in the works for any kind of historic designation. A lot of us heaved sighs of relief. Nonetheless someone did ask the million dollar question: if the neighborhood were up for consideration as a historic district would we be informed? The rep looked a little surprised and said of course we would be informed. Being a suspicious sort I'm still going to keep my eyes open.

The rep did remind us that Old Southwest residents requested the designation. True, but I suspect that a lot of those people did not fully understand what the designation meant in terms of rules and costs. I've looked at one or two other areas with historic review boards and it does seem that Roanoke's is pretty draconian. I would hate to see my neighbors a few doors down have to remove their rusted chicken sculptures. I swear that they look much cooler than that description would suggest.

Monday, January 21, 2008

And furthermore!

I Got Stuff Done this past week. Small things but for me, huge.

I cleaned and polished the oak floors in my TV room and put down an area rug. The color is totally awful for the curtains in the room and I absolutely refuse to put up a picture. Ok, maybe once I'm ready to replace said clashing carpet.

The other reason it took me so long to put down a rug was my 3 cats. or rather, the 3 cats who own me. Claw the carpet they must. I sprayed with some Lambert Kay Boundary Indoor/Outdoor Cat Repellent, stuff I used when I was an apartment dweller. It worked really well for that place, and I'm hoping that between the spray and the expensive kitty condo I put in the room here the little darlings will claw appropriately. Sure they will.

Holy Moly it's freaking COLD!

Even though southwest Virginia tends to be way warmer than my former home in the greater Philadelphia area, these mountains are COLD this week! It went below 30 degrees last night!

What does this have to do with my house? Ha! My house, like so many 1920s abodes, has no wall insulation. Brrr. And let's not EVEN talk about my leaky windows that are still leaky even after the shrink plastic. There were cold breezes wafting though my kitchen last night. I had my thermostat turned up to an embarassingly high temp last night and it was so cold out that my inside temp never got over 66 degrees. That's frigging cold.

I look into my crystal ball and forsee blown-in insulation. Oh Hell, yeah.

In other news the radiation treatments are going well. I feel a little better each week despite the tightly controlled sunburn. That nasty yet life saving chemo is slowly leaving my system. w00t!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

City Dwellin, Chicken Havin Folks

I heard that at a New Year's gathering from one of my neighbors, who was decribing some other neighbors who have some "heirloom" chickens. Here in Roanoke, we're allowed to have chickens and other sorts of birds. I wish I could have a couple of sheep, but alas it is not to be. And yes, I fantasize about having pretty egg laying critters all the time. It's prolly too much work for me at this point but wouldn't it be fun to be a city dwelling, chicken having folk?

I love my neighbors.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Season's Greetings and Happy New Year!

The holidays were nice, and quiet, and I'm glad they're over. I started radiation on Thurs and will be getting zapped for the next 6 weeks. It's really nice to be getting a treatment that doesn't involve geting stuck with sharp pointy objects.

I'm so happy I finally recaulked my shower stall after putting it off for so long. I finally had to sit myself down and give me a peptalk. "Self," I said "it won't be perfect. It's your first time doing it and there's a learning curve. Put on your big girl panties and deal!" So I did. It is indeed imperfect, but there's a good seal and it works. w00t!

My list further down in the entries has been greatly modified to reflect how tired I've been lately. :) My big goal for 2008? Refurbish ONE window. I'm not EVEN going to talk about unpacking boxes, nosireebob.

I may peek at the earlier to do list when I'm feeling better. :) Even at my slow pace the house becomes more of a home every day and that's the most important goal of all.