We’ve pulled our home home to work on our house

We were stationed in Norfolk, VA, from 2004-2010. Two years in, we bought a Craftsman-style bungalow built in 1912, and we learned that loving an old home means a lot of work — some of which we loved.

And the facts that the house is located in Larchmont, a neighborhood filled with charming older houses with wonderful families inside ’em, and that our boys did a lot of growing up there, make 1138 Manchester Avenue a place we’ll always cherish.

That said, after 6 years of playing long-distance landlords to three sets of tenants, we’re done. It’s time to own even less. I wrote about it here, and now we are here, and this is how we’ve spent our first few days:

Speaking of long distance, we're parked there at the blue dot, and our house is at the red dot. Pro: RV spot at the beach! Con: Loooong daily commute

Speaking of long distance landlords, we’re parked there at the blue dot, and our house is at the red dot. A shortage of RV parking in this area means taking what we can get, for the longest stretch possible. 
Pro: RV spot at the beach
Con: Loooong daily commute

Lola was happy to sink her paws into the sand once again.

Lola was happy to sink her paws into the sand once again.

She became part of our family here, when she was just over a year old. Life is a little different for all of us, now that she's ten.

She became part of our family here, when she was just over a year old. Life is a little different for all of us, now that she’s ten.

Inside job: repairing drywall in the bathroom. Ceiling paint to follow...

Inside job: repairing drywall in the bathroom. Ceiling paint to follow…

Outside job: constructing a drying rack for cedar shake shingles. We've uh, we've got a few to replace.

Outside job: constructing a drying rack for cedar shake shingles. We’ve uh… we’ve got a few to replace.

Channels going in. Don't worry. You'll see.

Channels going in. Don’t worry. You’ll see. And remember what I said about the wonderful families here? It’s because of them that we’re able to borrow tools and garages and driveway space, and get this work done. Lifelong friends, y’all. Lifelong friends.

Before we hammer the shingles into place, they get the dip-and-stroke treatment. It's so time-consuming!

Before we hammer the shingles into place, they get the dip-and-stroke treatment in a 5-gallon bucket of paint. It’s very time-consuming, but I figured out a “fat end first” routine that worked quite well. No puns about fat ends, please. I was painting alone in that basement for nearly two hours, and I thought of all of them.

After the dip, they go in our homemade rack to dry.

After the dip, they go in our homemade racks to dry.

Tim got 'em started, but I took over so that he could go outside and start removing the deadbeats from the house. I did this many.

Tim got ’em started, but I took over so that he could go outside and begin removing the deadbeats from the house.
I did this many.

Weather permitting, we'll start making this wall look a lot better tomorrow.

Weather permitting, we’ll start making this wall look a lot better tomorrow.

This one too.

This one too.

But the weather might have other plans for us. The hail seems to have followed us from San Antonio, dammit! We made it through those storms with only minor damage. Dare we hope for the same here?

But the weather might have other plans for us. The hail seems to have followed us from San Antonio, dammit! We made it through those storms with only minor damage. Dare we hope for the same here?

We're happy to see her so happy in her old back yard, but dang, we wish she had opposable thumbs. We could use more help!

We’re happy to see Lola so happy in her old back yard, but dang, we wish she had opposable thumbs. We could use more help!

Other posts on this topic:

  1. How it all started
  2. Bye, Lola.
  3. Coping Inappropriately
  4. Before & Afters

After 2 days and 800 miles on our butts, 6.5 miles on our feet felt wicked good

We’ve stopped for a 3-night road break on our way from San Antonio to Norfolk.

(You haven’t heard? We’re selling the other house.)

The Toad is all set up here at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, AL, and it. is. lovely. After two months of living in military RV parks with few trees and with burn restrictions in place, it’s refreshing and restorative to spend a few nights under these tall beauties, falling asleep to the crackling sounds and toasty smells of neighboring campfires.

Home for 3 nights

Home for 3 nights

We walked all over the park today, covering a little more than 6 miles in distance, and 150 years back in time, to the Civil War — errrr, I mean the War of Northern Aggression, now that we’re sitting here in the heart of the Confederacy.

Come join us…

From our campsite near the, we walked the perimeter of the park counterclockwise, from

From our campsite between the train tracks and the office/museum loop, we walked the perimeter of the park counterclockwise.


Historic cabin along the creek

Historic cabin along Mill creek


The old furnaces date back to 1830, and they produced iron for Confederate military necessities during the Civil War.

The old furnaces date back to 1830, and they produced iron for the Confederate military during the Civil War.


That's me there in the doorway, for perspective.

That’s me there in the archway, for perspective.


View of the charging bridge into Furnace 1

View of the charging bridge into Furnace 1


Close-up of some of the works at the ironworks

Close-up of some of the works at the ironworks

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When we stopped to read this sign, I said to Tim. "Hey. I've heard of Montevallo. Mom & Dad have some old friends there." Remember that. It's gonna come back later.

When we stopped to read this sign, I said to Tim. “Hey. I’ve heard of Montevallo! Mom & Dad have some old friends there.”
Remember that. It’s gonna come back later.


Along the Iron Road Trail was a spur that led to this marker, which allowed us to stand in three counties at once! It also tells me which county each of us peed in afterwards. Look. We were in the woods, there were no facilities, and... you know the rest.

Along the Iron Road Trail was a spur that led to this marker, which allowed us to stand in three counties at once!
It also tells me which county each of us peed in afterwards.
Look. We were in the woods, there were no facilities, and… you know the rest.


We couldn't walk that far without stopping to visit the old slave cemetery. It was sad in its starkness. Those rocks in the background served as headstones. I know.

We couldn’t walk that far without stopping to visit the old slave cemetery. It was sad in its starkness. Those rocks in the background are the headstones.
I know.


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The grist mill is long out of use. Probably because people stopped buying grist.


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After we finished our walking tour, we wandered into the Alabama Iron & Steel Museum to read up on everything we’d just seen. I happened to glance at the shelves in the gift shop, and that’s where I saw this book. Remember I said my parents had friends in Montevallo? That’s him. I very nearly peed again. Um, hi Norman and Joan!


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All that walking worked up an appetite, and even though I’m not a big burger fan, I’ll support a local business that boasts the best (Yelp users concurred). I had a much harder time choking down that apostrophe.


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Thanks for joining us on today’s walkabout! One more day of rest tomorrow, and then we’ll hit the road again on Saturday.

Owning less: shit’s about to get real

Y’all know we started looking at buying a new RV earlier this year (click to revisit our adventures at the Austin RV Expo, and at the Houston RV Show Day 1 & Day 2), which involved a lot of shopping and gazillions of questions, but then we got an offer on our Texas house, and pulled back a bit to deal with that.

After we closed on the sale early in March, we picked up the RV research again, narrowed our criteria, and got as far as visiting a local lot to take one more look at the top contender before pulling the trigger.

And then the tenants in our Virginia house let us know that they’ll be moving out this summer.

Oh.

Well that means…

… the time is right to sell that house too.

So now that Tim’s cleared his final surgical follow-up (that story’s here), and I’ve completed my semiannual obstacle course of mammogram-doctor-doctor-doctor to make quadruple-y sure that breast cancer is still staying away (which it is, and I’m good to go for another 6 months) we’re rolling out of here in the morning.

Sorry, Maps. Guess you haven't heard that Houston's under water, so we're not taking your preferred route.

Sorry, Maps. Guess you haven’t heard that Houston’s under water this week, so we’re not taking the southern route.

We expect to arrive in the Hampton Roads area on Sunday, with the intention of spending about a month on various fix-ups to prepare that house for Real Estate Show Time.

And that means we’re putting off the RV shopping. Again.

One house at a time, y’all.

One. House. At a time. 

1138 Manchester Avenue is a Craftsman style bungalow built in 1912. Four bedrooms, 3 full baths, detached garage, about 2400sf, great bones and lots of charm.

1138 Manchester Avenue in Norfolk is a Craftsman-style bungalow built in 1912.
It’s got 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, about 2400sf, a detached 1-car garage, great bones and lots of charm in highly desirable Larchmont, where neighbors become family from Day 1.

(If you or someone you know is into buying real estate before it hits the market, this would be a great time to open that discussion. Take a look at the house on Zillow or Trulia, and let’s talk.)

Other posts on this topic:

  1. Getting things started
  2. Bye, Lola.
  3. Coping Inappropriately
  4. Before & Afters

1 job of our own creation + 1 from Mother Nature = 1 hot day on the roof

Job 1:

It all started when Tim said, “Honey, I’m ordering a new antenna, and it will be the solution to all our internet connectivity problems, and by golly, you will never suffer service interruptions again!”

OK, that’s not what he said. It’s just what I heard, because I didn’t understand a single word of all the techno-jargon he used after “antenna.” Also, he never uses the phrase “by golly.”

New antenna means wires. Wires need a place to go. And there's a void on top of this cabinet, which makes it a perfect place to drill through the roof. I can now say that Tim has drilled through walls in every home we've owned, for the sole purpose of boosting our connectivity.

New antenna means wires.
Wires need a place to go.
And there’s a void on top of this cabinet, which makes it a perfect place to drill through the roof.
I can now say that Tim has drilled through walls in every home we’ve owned, for the sole purpose of boosting our connectivity.

Taping the wires to the roof...

The new antenna is in the foreground. We used aluminum tape to affix the wires to the roof, and you can see the entry point behind him. It’s now all sealed up with two different kinds of caulky stuff to keep moisture out.

And now our router sits right there on the shelf above my cookbooks. Don't worry. He'll find a way to make those wires less obtrusive. Or else.

And now our router sits right there on the shelf above my cookbooks.
Don’t worry. He’ll find a way to make those wires less obtrusive.
Or else.

Job 2:

Mother Nature slammed San Antonio with an intense hail storm late Tuesday night. We’re talking national news-worthy baseball-sized stones, and those babies were loud from inside this here tin can. More than 16,000 damage claims were filed with our insurance company alone.

By the light of Wednesday morning, Tim and I went outside to inspect the BFT & the Toad, and were relieved to find only a small cluster of dimples on the roof of the truck, and a couple of cracks in the skylight above our bathroom. Nothing had shattered in the night but our nerves!

Knowing it’s far better to prevent a leak than to wait for one to surprise us at a more inconvenient time, Tim ordered a new skylight, and we got to work today, since rain is predicted for tomorrow, and we’re hitting the road on Tuesday (more on that next week).

I don’t appear in any of these photos because I was taking them, but I assure you that in between all the clicks, I really was helping (and sweating, and swearing, and wishing one of our kids were here so that it could be Rohrer & Son RV Repair instead of Rohrer & Wife RV Repair).

It's kind of a skylight-within-skylight deal. The interior one just needed a quick cleaning and re-taping. The exterior one was pried off and flipped to the ground below.

It’s kind of a skylight-within-skylight deal. The interior one just needed a quick cleaning and re-taping. The exterior one was pried off, flipped to the ground below, and taken to the nearest dumpster.

Trying to scrape off all the old caulking was a chore. Hair dryer to the rescue again!

Trying to scrape off all the old caulking was a chore. Hair dryer to the rescue — again!

Dry placement to make sure the new skylight is gonna fit...

Dry placement to make sure the new skylight is gonna fit…

Fresh caulking going down...

Fresh caulk going down…

Affixing it with brand new screws...

Affixing it with brand new screws…

And finally, sealing the seams and screws with more caulk. Best part? It's on the roof, so neatness does not count. Which is good, because both of us are pretty lousy at this.

And finally, sealing the seams and screw heads with more caulk. Best part? It’s on the roof, so neatness does not count. Which is good, because neither one of us is all that competent with a caulking gun.

And guess who got to lie in the grass and “supervise” the whole operation. Yyyyup. Good-for-nothin’ fur ball.FullSizeRender 8

 

Exploring more of Fort Sam: Peacocks! And does this tank make my butt look big?

Not tank top (although I was in fact wearing one).

Army tank — one of the Patton series, to be more specific.

It's OK. I got this.

It’s OK. I got this.

We spent some time meandering about the Historic Quadrangle here at Fort Sam Houston today. I could fill this post with its history, but others have done that quite well already (try this article as a starting point), so I’ll just pass along the facts that the place dates back to 1876; Geronimo was once a prisoner here; and generations of tame wildlife have been walking the grounds since the 1880’s.

From the article linked above, “There is no good reason why the animals are in the Quadrangle,” says Fort Sam Museum Director Jackie Davis, “except that having peacocks and tame deer was a popular thing to do in the 1800s.” (Paula Allen, San Antonio Express-News, Nov. 20, 2015)

Also, I’m probably not the first person who’s tried to upstage a peacock.

I’m gonna go with the assumption that it can’t be done, and just let these photos do the rest of my talking today. Enjoy!

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Go, Navy! (That's my retired naval officer there at the bottom of the tower). Meet Army!

Go, Navy! (That’s my retired naval officer there at the bottom of the tower). Meet Army!

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And speaking of peacocks, my blogging compatriots, The Young Fulltimers, wrote recently about a new RV resort by that name, opening soon in east Texas. It's clothing optional. Bare if you dare!

And speaking of peacocks, my blogging compatriots, the Young Fulltimers, wrote recently about a new RV resort by that name, opening soon in east Texas. It’s clothing optional. Bare if you dare!

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Trying to figure out how best to take on a peacock...

Trying to figure out how best to take on a peacock…

... and opting for a "behind the scenes" pose.

… and opting for a “behind the scenes” pose.

Mmmmmmm-wah! Dahling.

Mmmmmmm-wah, dahlings!