Monday, October 31, 2011

The Tale of the Brick Planter

I must admit that I had naively believed that if I ignored it, everyone else would too and so I kept putting off what I had should have done ahead of time. What you see above was someone's idea of making lemonade out of lemons. The builders of our house, back when I was just three years old and had no concept of home ownership, poured the foundation of the house too close to the property line and thus had to shift it all uphill a couple feet to get it within specification. So with a slab protruding from the east side of the house, someone along the line had a brick planter built and installed several rose bushes in it. The photo above shows what this planter looked shortly after we bought this place.

What the previous planter builders/owners didn't do however was install any sort of drainage system into that planter and as it turned out, it was basically a fishbowl. A few years back the water did it's thing and caused the bricks to crack on each end. Suddenly this planter had a date with destruction but the crack never got any wider and my procrastination got stronger. Then this year hit where we have only gotten enough rain since June to just retain the knowledge of rain in our memories. I'm guessing since June we have only had around an inch and a half of rain. This caused huge cracks to form in the lawn that still remain and for some reason the crack in the brick planter went from a crack to a gaping six inch gash at about the mulch line in the picture above causing the top edge of the planter to lean out over the lawn.

This happened in June and all summer I procrastinated hoping the thing would fall over on itself and I would then just pick up the pieces. Then summer turned into fall and we decided to sell our house. Knowing the mess it would create (according to the side of my brain in charge of procrastinating) I thought I would just sell the house and it would become someone else's problem. Worst case, if someone brought up the subject, I would just downplay it saying that I was going to haul it off before possession switched hands and then the new owners could redecorate it as they saw fit. Everyone that walked around the house noticed it and would shake their heads disapprovingly and whisper. I'm not sure if that is why I got nary an offer from my initial advertising blitz but it certainly didn't help. So one day after mulching up the leaves with the lawnmower, I grabbed a hammer on the spur of the moment and whacked a few bricks. They came off pretty easily. Within minutes I had broke enough off around the downspout that it wasn't going to be damaged in anyway and I walked to the middle of the wall. I put one hand on the edge and with just a minimal amount of effort, pulled the whole wall down. Like the pig for breakfast, I was wholly committed at that point.

After getting all the bricks carried out of the way and the dirt removed, some of it still muddy due to lack of drainage, I found that beneath that planter was the ugly mess seen above. Not only was the concrete stained, but there wasn't a slab per say underneath as I had heard from the previous owners. Instead there was a footer with a shoddy slab poured beneath it and the new footer that had to be put in and whoever poured it didn't even bother to clean the forming sand from the inside edge of the original footer. So with time, the sand filtered down underneath of the slab, again due to the fishbowl effect, and what remained was a rather large rough looking slot that to most people would look like a giant crack. It certainly wasn't the impression I wanted to leave with a prospective home buyer.

So I started thinking of options that A) weren't going to cost be a lot of money that I wasn't going to get back out of the house, B) wasn't going to take me a month's worth of weekend's to complete, C) would make it look somewhat planned and D) cover up that horrid 'crack' to keep a prospective home buyer's mind at ease.

The right way to fix it would be to rent a concrete saw and cut the offending concrete off from the house, dig it all up and dispose of it along with some serious re-landscaping efforts. The cheap way would be to rebuild another planter in it's place without solving the drainage issue or anchoring it in a better way to the house's foundation. In the end, my wife came up with the above idea which I thought turned out decent. I cleaned up the foundation wall and gave it a fresh coat of paint to cover the stains. They I laid down a row of paving blocks and back filled with some landscaping gravel. That was what I was in charge of doing. Phase two which my wife is in charge of doing is to buy a few large landscaping pots/half barrels/etc to put on top of the rock and create the effect of a urban garden or flower bed. It was cheap only setting me back around $180 in materials and a quarter bottle of Advil for the sore muscles. It also took only three days of effort to do, two to deconstruct and one to repaint and reconstruct. Not to bad. So now phase two of our home sell effort is going into effect with a 'For Sale by Owner' sign in the front yard with perhaps a much cheaper classified add in a couple of the local papers and (thanks to Kymber) perhaps an open house slated for later this year when my wife can be home for moral support. I may get this house sold yet.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fong's Pizza

Fong's Crab Rangoon Pizza
One of the real perks about spending time in the Urban  Jungle is finding little hole in the wall cafe's in the heart of downtown. Fong's Pizza is one that my wife found with one of her coworkers and my only introduction to it has been once in the over two years we've had this apartment when my wife brought some of it home with her. Whenever my daughter and I are up there on a Friday night, it is always crowded and parking is such a hassle that we go to other locations. Saturdays are my wife's on-call days so those are usually out and Sunday's we are doing our thing to get ready to head back home. However, the last handful of weekends my wife is taking her turn being the head doctor in charge and providing direction to first and second year residents. This means she has to round for a morning on either Saturday or Sunday morning and that is it for the weekend. She sometimes does this on Saturday morning and then drives home for the rest of the weekend but this particular weekend, we decided to drive up Friday evening so we could have more time together before she rounds on Sunday morning. Finally we had a Saturday free for an early lunch (before the crowds) in the heart of the Urban Jungle and we chose to eat at a seafood place called Splash. Fortunately it was closed so as we were debating where to try next, it hit us that we were only about a block and a half from Fong's Pizza and the rest as they say was history.

Fong's Pizza is a very small restaurant that has five or so booths up front along with some bar seating and another five seats in the back and that is it. It is easy to see how seating is very limited and shortly after we got there a little after eleven, it was standing room only for the duration of our stay. The thing I like about Fong's Pizza is that it isn't your standard pizza place. You don't go there for a pepporoni pizza or a mushroom and cheese. Instead you can choose between a Moo Shu Pork, Crab Rangoon, Loaded Baked Potato, Beef & Broccoli, Kung Pao Chicken or a handful of other pizza varieties. About as run of the mill as it gets would be ordering the Taco pizza. I've only had the Crab Rangoon and the Loaded Baked Potato but both have been outstanding, the Crab Rangoon was to die for and that is the one pictured at the top of this post.

I think if I lived in one of the apartments nearby, I would have quickly tried every pizza on the menu and loved them all. They only come in two sizes, small and large but that is perfect. I recommend getting several small pizzas of different flavor and passing them around to maximize the experience. Since I had the crab rangoon pizza the time before and loved it, we got one of those and the loaded baked potato version which came with sides of sour cream. My wife and I ate one slice over a small pizza so we had most of a small pizza in leftovers to take home but that was alright with me.

Hippies sign that I liked hanging on the back wall

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

They Look Like Skittles

Obviously from the picture you know that these aren't skittles but that is what my daughter said and since I found that funny, I thought you might too. What you are looking at is a Ziplock bag full of Chinese hot peppers that were the fruits of my parents labor back on the farm. They were given two plants by a friend, planted them and they did very well this year. The only problem was that my parents aren't people who like spicy food and so I inherited them.

I liberated them from their earthy toil one Sunday afternoon and brought the bushes, peppers and all up to my house so that I could leisurely pick the peppers off in the evening at my convenience. I did just that about six o'clock one evening and immediately afterwards, gave my hands a good scrubbing to remove any oils from the peppers. By about nine o'clock when my fingers felt like I was holding a burning match head, I knew I had been unsuccessful. By the next morning, my fingers felt fine though whenever I touched something, I could only do so for a few seconds before the pain would return. It took a full two days before I was able to hold a pen in my fingers properly without pain.

I'm not sure how many Scoville heat units those peppers contain but I'm guessing if I could convert them into BTU's, I could heat my house for this entire coming winter. But for now, they are in that plastic bag safely tucked away in my freezer to be doled out in very tiny amounts in food that only I will be partaking in.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Ackerson Family Revisited

The Joseph and Lucy Card Ackerson Family
Back Row: Ira, Edith, William
Front Row: Julia, Lizzie, Joseph, Lucy, James, Emma
Last year, I wrote a blog post on my 2nd great grandfather Ira Ackerson whom I laid out evidence that he was the World's Most Unluckiest Man. In that post, I had the only picture of Ira, father Joseph and mother Lucy that I have found which is the same as the one above but not in nearly as good of shape pixel and physical wise. After getting in touch with a distant cousin from the same line, she was able to make copies of the original and also sent me some other pictures of the family which I am posting here for future reference and perhaps future descendants of this family to find in the course of their genealogical research.

Ira Ackerson standing in front of the ponies
Although this picture carried only the label above, I suspect that the man with the bag ready to get in the carriage was Ira's father Joseph Ackerson who was a veterinarian. Somewhere among my stuff, I have a story of Joseph and his pet parrot that could talk. Joseph came home one afternoon to find the doors open and the bird cage empty. Everyone aided in the search of the farm but couldn't find the bird anywhere. The next morning as Joseph was enjoying the sun rise, a voice started calling out to him from a nearby tree. A very cold and thankful parrot was returned to his cage.

Joseph and Lucy Card Ackerson
Joseph and Lucy are my 3rd great grandparents. Joseph came from Ohio with his parents and crossed into Iowa around 1855 and settled in Butler county in northeast Iowa. Shortly afterwards, the Card family immigrated to Iowa from New York via a stay in Wisconsin and settled in the same area. Joseph Ackerson and Lucy May Card were married in Butler county in 1872 and would live out there lives there. Joseph died in 1928 and was buried in Oak Hill cemetery in New Hartford, Iowa and his wife joined him in 1944. Several years ago I was preparing a visit to the cemetery to visit their grave when an EF-5 tornado his the month before and was documented (along with the Card family name) in this video. An ongoing project to restore the cemetery is in progress and someday soon in the future, I hope to complete my trip.

Joseph Ackerson
Eventually Joseph traded in his horses and wagon and bought a 'horseless carriage' to carry him around the county at he made calls for his vet practice.

Frank Ackerson, Orinda Coulter and Willard Card 16 Oct 1913
This final picture most likely contains some cousins though I have yet to prove it. I have found a grandson of my 4th great grandfather Willard Card who was also named Willard and married a woman nine years his senior named Orinda. They were 39 and 48 in 1913 if the date on the back of the photo is to be believed. I could buy that. The only Frank Ackerson I have thus far in my family tree could be the grandson of Joseph Ackerson mentioned above though he wasn't born until 1914 according to the census records. I have another one born in 1870. But I also have lots of branches of Ackersons that I haven't put a lot of time researching yet. The curious bit is that I have a census record in 1920 of Willard and Orinda Card that lists an Edward Ackerson as their son with the Ackerson part crossed out. Perhaps they 'adopted' an Ackerson at some point and this Frank belongs to them. It is a mystery that will remain for another day.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I've walked by this little sign posted on our doors for a long time now and it has always struck me as a bit funny. Funny enough anyway that I finally had a camera with me and took a picture of it for your amusement if you understand my sense of humor anyway.  Our doors lock if that pin in the picture is removed allowing people to freely exit but requiring a key to enter. On most mornings when I get to work, the pin has already been put into place by some of the maintenance staff and since this sign is on the inside of the door, I never see it. However, at the end of the day when you are tired and ready to go home, the little sign is always noticeable and the chains dangling. I usually feel as if my chain is dangling too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Contrary to what the packaging on the chopsticks says, we were eating supper at the new sushi restaurant (not either of the two Chinese restaurants) that opened in our rural southeast Iowa town. While it is nice to get fresh sushi outside of the urban jungle without buying it at the local box store, I don't think this place will last too long. They are charging urban jungle prices which eliminates most of us poor folk here in rural Iowa from eating here with any kind of frequency. For what it costs to eat sushi there, they could eat three meals at any other restaurant in town. But the point of this blog isn't really about that, it is about the lost in translation misspellings on the chopstick packaging. You would think that the Chinese might run their translation by someone whose native tongue is English before finalizing the wording. I would bet most 2nd graders these days could catch the misspellings.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hershey's New Scam

Hershey's Air Delight
Am I the only one looking at this ad and seeing a way for Hershey to put less chocolate in their product while keeping the same pricing structure? The bar in this picture contains 1.4 grams of chocolate while the regulation Hershey milk chocolate bar contains 4 grams. That is a 65% reduction in the amount of chocolate per candy bar.  I'm sure some board room full of management material in Pennsylvania got hefty bonuses for thinking of this gem of an idea. I hope this one is more of a flop than New Coke.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Primary War

No I don't mean the first war, the biggest war or the war to end all wars. I am referring to the war to see who holds the first primary/caucus for the Republican presidential nomination which Iowa has traditionally had in the form of a caucus since 1972. By now the dust has settled (although yesterday Nevada was kicking up more dust) and once again Iowa has moved the date of their caucus to January 3rd to retain the kickoff state status. Personally, I wish we would give the trophy to another state.

Being first means you get lots of attention which is why even in this small town in rural southeast Iowa, we get our share of political candidates swinging through town. Four years they were Democrats and this year it is the Republicans. It is nice in the sense that it gives me the opportunity to go listen to a candidate in person and perhaps shake the hand of the next president. But I quickly learned that little is gained by listening to them in person because they promise the same crap they never can deliver when they are elected.

Despite this shaky benefit to having first in the nation status in determining the president, which by the way is actually not true since we don't choose our voting delegates to the very end of the nomination season, it is mostly a negative in my eye. The biggest drawback is that now a days our television commercials switch from fit women using an ab-blaster and men with erectile dysfunction to political ad blasters and politicians with mental dysfunction. It is a close decision but if I have to watch an ad, something I don't do much these days with a DVR, I would choose the former over the latter.

It wouldn't be so bad if the political system left it at television advertising because that can be avoided but they don't. I'm starting to get daily phone calls asking me to endorse a certain candidate, take a short political poll or some such thing. My snail mailbox is packed full of slick material listing out reasons why I should vote a certain way. Also, cardboard signs are starting to sprout up everywhere I look giving peaceful neighbors reason to elevate their blood pressures when looking across the street at a neighbor with what is to them, the anti-Christ posted on theirs. Perhaps worst of all, this all started almost a year ago and we still have a year to go before elections meaning that it is this way 50% of the time. It's for the birds and someone else can take it in my opinion.

Reading the comments across the web, it seems like the most common solution people propose is for everyone to have it on the same day.  This is a terrible idea. It dilutes any benefit one gets from having frequent visits by would be politicians and eliminates any message that they might get from people who didn't vote for them in one state so that perhaps they change their tune a little before getting into office. The second most common proposal is for everyone to take turns which means that each state would get their chance at being first once every 200 years, also not very practical. Besides, who cares about Rhode Island?

No I think the only solution is to divide the U.S. up into regions such as the east coast, south, west coast, plains states, etc so that each region has perhaps ten states or so and allow the regions to rotate who gets first dibs so that you get it once every 20 years or so. By making the region bigger than one state, you dilute the power Iowa has in selecting the future president, if we ever had any power, but you keep it politically small enough that politicians can capture the flavor of its citizens and how they regard the politician's ideas. Each state can still keep their primary/caucus system to vote the way they see fit and almost everyone is happy, except for the politicians of Iowa and New Hampshire. But happiest of all, is one native southeast Iowan who is tired of seeing political ads even as he fast forwards his DVR from one blissfully political absent television show to another.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It Hit My Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie

Crescent Moon
On a recent trip up to the urban jungle, my daughter and I hit the local science center for a morning of wasting time while mama was at work, and there happened to be a couple booths set up with all kinds of information about space. While my daughter was making a spaced theme picture by gluing on various stars, moons and space shuttles onto construction paper, one of the nice ladies gathered up an entire armload of literature and freebies to give to me for my daughter. Among the literature was a little magazine about the phases of the moon and the names of various lunar features and it really caught my eye.

First Quarter Moon
I don't spend nearly as much time as I should gazing up at the moon, or the stars for that matter, and I can probably county the number of times I have looked at the moon under magnification on one or perhaps two fingers. I just haven't been in the right place at the right time, i.e. knowing someone with a nice telescope that has time on a clear night to set it up. But if I ever get a chance, this guide would be a good thing to take along in my back pocket.

Waxing Gibbous Moon
One of the big things I learned by reading through this magazine was that if you want to see the features of the moon like craters and such, you need to look at the moon sometime when it isn't a full moon. One would think that when the moon is at its fullest and thus brightest would be the best time but as it turns out and is pretty obvious on retrospect, looking at the moon is just like photography. If you want to see the features of something, you can't look at it when the light is shining straight at it and thus washing out all the detail. Thus when you look at all the pictures, the most feature detail is on the side of the moon closest too being in earth's shadow. This magazine didn't contain a picture comprised of superimposed images of that sliver overlaid on each other to give a 'full' moon view in full detail but I expect it has been done.

Full Moon
The full moon does make for some useful viewing though if you are into looking for ancient lava flows and rays of comet impacts. Tycho seen above is especially visible during the full moon. Evidently one of our lunar rovers landed on the rim of Tycho and found the dark circle immediately around the rim to be glassy impact-melted rock. It also says that the rays are only temporary and disappear in only a billion years or so as the shattered and pulverized rock in the ray darkens with prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Waning Gibbous Moon
Looking at these pictures has reawakened within me a call to remedy my situation of living in town where all nights skies are washed out with the general light pollution. It always startles me a bit when I am down on the family farm after dark and see how bright and intense the stars and moon appear in the darkened sky compared to in town where you can only see the moon and a handful of the brightest stars. Perhaps when my daughter is just a little bit older and less restless, I need to schedule a star/moon gazing trip down to the family farm.

Last Quarter Moon

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dispatch From the Real Estate War Front

Going into the process of selling my home, I knew several things. I knew that it was a buyers market out there because there is a large surplus of homes for sale and only a few buyers approved for the loan it takes to get one. I also knew that selling your house privately would be a lot more difficult that selling one via a Realtor because they can get lot more exposure. I also knew that it would be inconvenient for me having to stop what I'm doing, race home, make sure things are in order and smile while people invade my sanctuary. Well I'm here to report that my knowledge was spot on.

What I didn't foresee was the huge roller coaster ride I was in for. The very morning my add hit the local papers, I started receiving calls. Couple 1 showed up that afternoon to look at our house and walked though it talking about where all their furniture and trappings of life would go. They also said that they wanted to buy a house first before selling theirs so that they had plenty of time to get moved. Both made me happy and I was sure I would hear back from them. Couple 2 looked at it the next day and seemed to like it but made no commitments. Person 3 looked at it for Couple 5 who lived four hours away and couldn't make it down to look at it for a couple days. Person 3 told a story about how Couple 5 had made an offer on another house here in town only to be rejected because they wanted to make the purchase contingent on the sale of their house. They backed off, sold their house and went back only to have the seller decide they weren't interested in selling the house anymore. Desperate for a house since they would be without one in six weeks, they were hoping to give me my asking price if I was willing to move out in six weeks. I said I would do what it takes. Another plus seemed to be that the wife's mother lives two doors down from me and a brother and a sister both live within half a block. They said they would visit in two days and begged me to give them a call if I got an offer in the meantime. I was floating on cloud nine. Group 4 was a group of teachers from the nearby school being what I suspect was just nosy as they really didn't seriously have a look or ask any relevant questions. The day arrived when Couple 5 arrived and they seemed to like what they see. Then as we were wrapping up the tour, the wife of Couple 5 let me know that they were first going to try and meet with the owner of the first house they had tried to purchase and see if they could get things rolling and if not, perhaps give me a call. Man the air came out of my balloon in a hurry.

That was Friday and as of this morning, I haven't heard a word. My ads have run out and other than a few online sites that are still relatively obscure to the masses of home buyers, my ads are fading into obscurity. I feel as if I've been through the wringer after having spent a couple nights wondering if I could get out of this house and perhaps into another one in under six weeks to now wondering if I have it in me to continue showing my house to masses of people when I really don't have to move for another year. For now, I think I am just going to take a break and relax for a bit. Perhaps I will let a stray sock hang out in the middle of a bedroom floor for a day or two unmolested. If I don't feel like opening the bedroom drapes I won't and for Godsake, I can leave the toilet seat up while I'm away at work.

Friday, October 7, 2011

When Your Daughter Is Crying

I can't think of anything harder to do than to leave your daughter who is crying behind at daycare on my way to work but I've had to do it three times this week. The first time happened the day of the last blog post after she had gone through the emotions of expecting several painful shots and not receiving any. I expected that one. But the very next day when we were back to our normal routine, she started crying as I was leaving and I had to go back and try to unsuccessfully comfort her. In the end, I had to leave her screaming and crying while the lady in charge gently restrained her. In the afternoons when I picked her up, she was always happy and even reluctant to leave. I gently probed her to make sure there wasn't some reason other than what I suspected, a bad case of missing mommy. I couldn't get any reasons out of her and so we went about our normal routine.

This morning, day three, as we were getting ready to walk out the door my daughter got all teary eyed and as she began to cry told me what I thought was that she didn't want to go to the daycare place. Instantly my hackles went up as I asked why she didn't want to go to the daycare. She said, no daddy, I don't want to EAT at the daycare place. Huh?

So as we got ready and drove to the daycare, I began to piece what the problem was. I feed my daughter a small breakfast before we go and when we get to daycare, a lot of kids there haven't eaten and I think they suspected my daughter is one of them. They would encourage my daughter to eat which my daughter, who has been taught to listen and obey her elders in situations like that, took as a demand. So I assured my daughter that she wasn't being forced to eat if she didn't want too and that I would talk with the 'teacher' at daycare to set things straight.

I did and in doing so found out the rest of the story. On the recent failed vaccination attempt day, since we had a leisurely start to our morning, I had fixed my daughter a bigger breakfast than normal which she had eaten. The daycare lady, not knowing this, had told my daughter a couple times to go down to the cafeteria to get something to eat. Her reasoning was that on that day, the school starts late and thus skips the morning snack time so it was going to be a long time before lunch. My daughter didn't know she had the option to say she wasn't hungry and thus sparked this incident.

Despite getting everything all out in the open, my daughter was still crying when I left which breaks me heart. I normally listen to the morning news on my way across town to work and this morning I forgot to even turn on the radio as my mind was focused on my daughter. Fortunately we are headed out of town this afternoon after school for a weekend of mommy time and I hope a weekend will repair things with my daughter emotionally. It is tough on her with her mom being away during the week but we are down to less than nine months and then never again for this long of time. When we were deciding to do this temporary split thing, we hypothesized that it would be easier on our daughter when she was younger than older and that is certainly proven to be true. I can't imagine how hard it would be if we were looking at the next three years.

[Post addendum: She was a little teary eyed on Monday and repeated that she wasn't hungry as we walked through the doors of the daycare. The teacher had her 'help in the kitchen' while she cooked breakfast for the other kids and that must of assured her that she wasn't being forced because there were no tears at all the rest of the week.]

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Joy of Red Tape

I'm not sure what to call this other than a big hassle. My daughter had her checkup before starting school and among the things the doctor looked at was her immunization schedule which he declared up to date. Really? I asked him again if he was sure because I thought all children entering school needed booster shots for various things and once again he confirmed that it was up to date.

Less than two weeks later, I received a card from the local public health office saying my daughter needs some booster shots for various vaccinations and a week after that, the school sent me a letter stating the same thing. So I called the clinic and asked them to re-check her records which they did and verified that the doctor had been wrong. So I told them I would like to schedule an appointment to do so.

In our school district, the public health center only vaccinates on Tuesdays right after lunch necessitating that I would have to take time off from work, take my daughter out of school to go get the necessary shots. Yet every Wednesday, school is delayed and doesn't start until 10:00 in the morning. Could I get an appointment at the public health center to do it on Wednesday morning when my daughter won't have to miss school? That was a big NO. So I set up an appointment at the clinic for the shots since they could do so on Wednesday morning.

So after prepping my daughter for two days on the fact that she was going to get some shots and that they would hurt a little, something that five year old children are not enthused about, we showed up at the appointed time, the first appointment they schedule in the day. Twenty minutes after our scheduled appointment, we finally get called into the room where the nurse tells me they can't give my daughter the shot unless I want to cough up $500! WTF? Evidently health insurance doesn't cover childhood vaccinations which I still have a hard time believing. Does that mean everyone has to get vaccinations at a government public health office?

So we walked out and my daughter still does not have her shots for which she was happy but now I have to take time off work, pull her out of school so that for the two hours a week they give free vaccinations, she can get hers. I also now have another week to answer her questions, address her fears and deal with the pre-shot trauma all over again. Oh what fun.

[Post addendum: Five shots and a flu mist were given yesterday afternoon resulting in a child with some sore legs this morning. She was a real trooper though and we don't have to go through this again until she is 14.]

Monday, October 3, 2011


I like my home like I like my jeans, comfortable. That means I am not so concerned with how it appears to others but how it functions for me. Our home is comfortable but compared to some of the 'staged' homes we have recently looked at, probably cluttered in the mind of a real estate agent. So my wife and I spent a busy weekend recently boxing up stuff that we moved into a storage room downstairs and essentially staging our home to perhaps look more appealing to someone.

I cleaned out the fireplace and laid in a nice fire just itching to be lit though I didn't put any newspaper in it to help start it like I normally would do. When I first moved into the house, the large voids on either side of the fireplace held a rickety plywood desk of sorts and another equally rickety stand made of two by fours for a large television that the previous owners wanted to leave behind but didn't when I didn't offer them any money for it. So I tore both those things out and built custom made bookcases. The south bookcase held all me books that I hope to read someday and a few collections of books and the north bookcase held all the books I had read, some ready to be sold, given away and other to be held and possibly reread in the future. But things were lopsided and to even it out, I had to transfer books from my unread shelf to my read shelf. It took all my willpower to do such a thing but with encouragement from my wife, I was able to do it. I can't wait until we get moved so I can work on building more bookcases.

We have a bedroom in the basement which has always been our storage room since we didn't need it as a bedroom. Awhile back we cleaned it out and organized it a bit for this very day when we started boxing up more of our worldly possessions and moved them in there. Now the bedroom is about half full of boxes which I'm sure isn't ideal to a realtor. They would rather have it out of the house altogether but I'm too frugal to pay for a storage unit just for that. I just hope people will look past the boxes and see it for what it really is. A recently remodeled bedroom that hasn't been used since the day I finished painting.

The house is now staged and I've spent $200 in an advertising blitz in the local papers. I hope it sells quickly because I'm not sure how I can live in a house that appears only half full of stuff for very long.