Sunday, January 25, 2015

Where I'm Going: II: The Outside of the House

Our house doesn't look like much from the outside. It needs sprucing up and something-- we're not certain just what at this early date-- to add drama. A 15-foot tall 1950s-looking rocket? A trebuchet? Battlements? We'll figure it out.

Here's the back side of the house.

Here's the level portion of our yard. Word is Patty Duke once played tennis here.

There's no garage, but there's plenty of parking space. We hope to add a carport this summer.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Where I'm Going: Our New House. I: Inside

The first thing one sees when entering our new house in New Jersey is this beautiful freestanding wooden stair. It leads to two huge rooms-- one 14' x 17', which will be my office, and a huge 17' x 24' room which will  house the biggest television screen we can afford. We are already calling it the media room. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the upstairs.

The huge stone fireplace visible at left, above, opens to a stunning living room with log beams from 1940 (when the house was built) and a vaulted ceiling.

Double doors leading to a mudroom and then outside can be seen at center right, and at center left the back of the stairway can be seen. That's a wood-burning stove on the hearth.

Here's a portion of the mud room.

None of this shows our furniture. These photos are from the real estate listing which led us to the house. The furniture belongs to the previous owner.

The doorless opening on the left, above, leads to the kitchen, and the double-width opening just to the left of the fireplace leads to the dining area. The kitchen and dining areas comprise one big room.

Below is a second view of the kitchen, looking back at the living room.

To the right of the refrigerator is an honest-to-god pantry!

Shown below is about half of the dining area.The other half is visible at upper right in the first photo of the kitchen.

For the past six years Heather had to put up with a skinny side-by-side refrigerator that didn't keep food quite cold enough (and didn't have room enough for much in the first place), so I don't begrudge her choice of this huge Samsung french door fridge. I took the photo above with my cell phone.

My four-year-old much less fancy fridge will remain in my house.

I've been describing the newer portion of the house, which we call the public area. What you'll see next was once a 1940s cabin. There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms (one with a tub and one with a shower), and a walk-in closet. We have appropriated the master bedroom for ourselves. The second largest will be the guest bedroom, and the smallest, which has hardwood floors, will be a music room.

Here's the master bedroom (again, this is not our furniture):

The bath is to the left and the walk-in closet is to the right. There's a second walk-in closet at the top of the stairway to the second floor.

Here's another view of the master bedroom:

Here's the master bath. That wallpaper is butt ugly, isn't it? We will soon be removing or painting over it.

Here's the second bathroom:

This bath looks better (aside from the shower curtain), but the enclosure around the sink is too big, making for a tight sit on the toilet; we will be replacing it with a pedestal sink. The cabinet on the wall (which is hung out of level) will probably also go.

Finally, here's the music room, As tiy cab seem it was once someone's office.

There are not yet photos of the basement or the ridiculously steep and narrow stairs which lead down to it. There are three large rooms with concrete floors and framed walls and a larger fourth area which, is begging for a cement floor. When the floor is in we'll have more storage than we will ever need. Thankfully, the basement is dry, with no evidence of having ever flooded. Most of it is above ground level, for the house is built on a hillside, so things should be safe in the basement. Still, I'll be laying down pallets for boxes and large objects.

The basement houses the gas furnace, water heater, electrical boxes, and the mitigation system that was put in when the house tested high for radioactive radon gas. There's a washer and dryer hookup, and a door leads to the outside.

The house has newly-installed central air, but that unit is outside. So, also, is a Generac standby generator; it comes on automatically when the power goes off. It runs on natural gas, so there will be no need to add fuel.

This concludes the tour of the inside of the house. Thank you for witholding your applause until the end of the presentation.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Where I'm Going: Ringwood, NJ

I'm moving to a community not unlike Pine Lake. The three big differences are 1) it snows there; 2) the people talk funny; and 3) there are no grits. In fact, I will be doing a blog about my experience there called, ta DAH! No Grits For You! Here's the link; I warn you, though, nothing is posted yet.

The photo above is Cupsaw Lake. It's a two to three minute walk from our house, and have a lovely view of it from the hill upon which our house rests. If we opt to join the lake association we can house my canoe there and use the lake and its facilities year round. Of course we will do so.

Our town is Ringwood, New Jersey. Here's the Wikipedia entry and here's the town's website. Population is about 8,000 and there are at least four lakes. The area is sparsely populated because most of the land for miles around is state park, botanical gardens, and protected reservoir. There's a lot of wildlife, including an eagle reservation within the city limits, and brown bears abound; it's necessary to keep garbage inside or in a bear-proof enclosure. At night the stars are breathtaking.

Amazingly, Ringwood is only 25 miles or so from Manhattan. Distance by car is 37 miles (53 min.) and transport time via public transportation is an hour and a quarter. There's a free parking area at the town's library with a shelter,and that's where the bus stops. The library is about a mile-and-a-half from the house. The New York state line is just two to three miles away. So is the Appalachian trail. There's first-class hiking everywhere.

There are just enough business in town to make things convenient: the aforementioned library, a grocery, a branch of my bank (Wells Fargo), a drugstore, a dollar store, an animal hospital, medical and dentist offices, two liquor stores and a bar, and a car wash, assorted gas stations, and automobile repair places. Restaurants include a steak house, a couple of pizza/Italian restaurants, Thai and Chinese places. a deli, and a great luncheonette that's a town favorite. The only franchised restaurant is McDonald's. All this is just a little more than a mile from our house-- and there are a half-dozen larger towns within ten miles or so which offer far more. State Hwy 17, home to big malls, hundreds of big box stores, and franchised high-end eateries, is less than ten miles away. Gas prices are a little lower than they are in Atlanta, and by law attendants must fill fuel tanks. That's easy to get used to!

All is not rosy in Ringwood, however. In the 60s and 70s a nearby Ford plant hired truckers (reportedly via the Mafia ) to dump thousands of tons of heavy-metal bearing paint sludge in abandoned mine tunnels (before it became a resort community in the 1920s, Ringwood was home to many iron and zinc mines. The materials were dumped miles away from our house in a community that is comprised primarily of Ramapough Mountain Indians, a closely-knit mixed-race community of some antiquity that has been recognized by the state of New Jersey (but not yet by the Federal government), as a tribe. The far side of Ringwood has been a SuperFund site since 1980s and is still the EPA's largest . Fortunately, the tribe has had some success in court. Unfortunately, the tribe, which was once known as Jackson Whites, has a long history of being discriminated against and most of its members continue to live in a toxic environment and in poverty.

I'm looking forward to learning more about my new home town. The rest of the state? Not so much.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dallas Denny Day

Me, Performing at the Pine Lake Lounge
In December, Eva Sotus (who lives in he house just behind mine) asked if I would come to the Pine Lake Lounge event and sing my Pine Lake song. I said yes, of course.

So I arrived at the beach house at 7:30 pm with my guitar, suspecting nothing.

My turn came and I sang the song, then, by request, repeated it with everyone singing along from lyric sheets that had been printed up by Christine Slocomb.

After playing a second song of my own devising, I left the stage. Next up was mayor Kathie deNobriga, who had earlier that day told me I would not be allowed to leave Pine Lake because I had not turned in the proper paperwork. I half-way believed her.

So, Kathie started reading a proclamation. First, of course, came the whereases:
WHEREAS, the City of Pine Lake has been blessed with many talented residents; and
WHEREAS, each of these individuals contribute toward making Pine Lake the special place we call home; and  
Okay, I thought. Where is this going?
WHEREAS, one of our long-term residents who has tirelessly contributed their time and talents to the benefit of the City; and
I was starting to smell a rat.
WHEREAS, the works of this citizen are demonstrated by the beautiful pictures taken and posted for all to enjoy; and 
 Yes, I said to myself. I smell trouble coming.
WHEREAS, this citizen has served as the City Historian for many years.
Oh, good. I don't recall being appointed historian. For a minute there I thought...

Then came the therefore:
Now, therefore, in honor of the many contributions made, I, Kathie deNobriga, Mayor of Pine Lake, proclaim December 14th, 2014, as "Dallas Denny Day" in Pine Lake.
Dag! It was me after all!

To say I was astonished and gratified would be an understatement. A day named after little old me?

To top things off, my next door neighbor Barbara Whitlow produced a lovely departure cake. It was delicious and I ate three pieces. I hoped no one noticed the guest of honor pigging out.

Afterward, with my guitar slung over my shoulder and a lovely greeting card signed by half the city, I floated home.. I went immediately upstairs and phoned my fiancee to tell her the 14th had been declared a holiday.

She was already amazed I had sold my house so easily. "Your social network is amazing!" she had said. "What do you think of my network now?" I asked smugly.

My thanks go out to Mayor deNobriga, Barbara and Christine, Eva, Tommy Conlon (who talked about me when he read his amazing poem about the "right" side of the lake) and the many Pine Lakers who have wished me well over the past month.

My belongings are now all packed. My departure is linked to the closing date for the sale of my house, which should be announced shortly. I will miss my house, the lake, the city, and most of all, the wonderful people. I'm about to cry.