Monday, November 3, 2008


I feel bad for posting so seldom, but we haven't been doing too much house-related work lately; Adam has been working almost nonstop as a volunteer coordinator for the upcoming election, and the rest of our time has been taken up by two new additions to the household:

Said additions will be ten weeks old on Wednesday, and will have been with us for about a month tomorrow. This was one of the perks of homeownership we couldn't wait to benefit from; none of the apartments we've lived in have allowed pets.

We really enjoyed our first Halloween in the house, and we got to meet some of our neighbors from around the Run. We also got about twice as many trick-or-treaters as we ever did in Squirrel Hill, despite the fact that this neighborhood is so much smaller.

In the spirit of the season (no pun intended, really...), I've been haunted by a strange sort of phantom lately. I've recently become fixated on the notion that there are pocket doors sealed in the wall between the living and dining rooms. It's not just that I think they would look very nice there (although they would). My glimmerings of hope are based on the fact that the wall between the rooms seems unusually thick--six inches or more, I think--and that the border between the dining room's hardwood floors and the living room's carpeting seems to be strangely off-center. The carpet extends further into the dining room than I would expect it to, and I wonder if it covers up the remnants of tracks. There's no sign of tracks on the top of the doorway, but it and the sides look like they've been plastered recently. That's another thing: the inside surfaces of the doorway are plaster or drywall, not wooden trim.

I don't have a great picture of it, since our camera's currently broken, but here's one from the inspection that sort of shows what I mean (please ignore the inspector and the haggard-looking prospective homebuyer in the picture.) ;-P

It shows how the carpet extends to the very edge of the dining room, and how strange (at least to me) the doorway itself looks. Maybe I'm just engaging in wishful thinking because of hearing about other housebloggers who have found pocket doors sealed in their walls, but I feel like there's reason enough for vague hope. Unfortunately, I can't think of a good way to find out beyond cutting a hole in the wall, so it's going to have to remain a mystery for now.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Win Some, Lose Some

Okay, so we've been having pretty awesome luck with finding cool old stuff in our house. Yes, we have a hidden room full of early twentieth-century artifacts. Yes, there are statues of saints in our foundation. Yes, a sealed-up closet awaits us when we remove the fake wood paneling (henceforth FWP) from our bedroom. Yes, it looks like there's some beautiful hardwood flooring (of a different kind of wood than the dining room) under the living room carpet. Yes, we just found an old staircase to a street that no longer exists on the hill behind our house. I guess with that kind of track record, it's inevitable that we would eventually come across something that's not cool.

Last night my curiosity got the best of me, and I managed to pry the summer cover (also a cool antique thing) partway off the living room fireplace. We'd been thinking of eventually making it a working one again, and I figured, no time like the beginning of cool weather to do some reconnaissance. We weren't able to get the cover all the way off, but it soon became clear that it didn't matter much. What met our eyes instead of a scary, cobwebby hole in the wall was...more wall.

Gah! Someone bricked it up! Probably 70 years ago, so we can't even get upset at the previous previous (etc.) owners for doing it without disrespecting the dead! Adam tried to look on the bright side and pointed out that 1) that was why we weren't getting a draft down the chimney, and 2) it was probably better that it didn't work given that the chimney needs to be repaired, but still--I would have preferred to find the scary, cobwebby hole in the wall. At least we could have cleaned it out and put a screen or some candles in it for Christmas.

I'm not entirely sure how to proceed with it, not that it's a project we'll get to anytime soon. It would be nice to open it back up again, but if we had to start bashing out bricks, would it damage the tiles around them? They're not in the best of shape as it is; one of them is already missing, and the picture doesn't show it well, but some of them are damaged. I don't even know if it's possible to buy replacement tiles for the ones that are already broken, much less any we might injure in the reopening process.

::sigh:: It is only a little setback in a multitude of awesome things, though. The fireplace itself is very pretty; it just doesn't work. Maybe we'll figure out how to get it functional, and maybe we won't. I guess that for old-house-related disappointments, this is an okay one to have. At least it's attractive on the outside, unlike the dropped ceilings and the FWP.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Snail's Pace

I haven't posted in a little more than a month, mostly because there hasn't been much to tell. Late August and September have been taken up with various things including Adam's new school year (he's now teaching at three different colleges and more of an itinerant pedagogue than ever), trying to get back into a regular gaming schedule with our friends, and working on a new cross-stitch project in my case. We also successfully hosted an awesome Labor Day picnic, complete with marshmallows and hot dogs toasted over a fire, entertained a few houseguests, and participated in a multi-family yard sale up in my ancestral hometown. So it's been busy, but not renovation busy.

We're at a bit of a standstill with the attic work, mostly because there's a crucial piece of drywall that isn't completely screwed onto the studs. We need to borrow a drill from one of our dads to rectify that problem, which is smack in the middle of one of the biggest walls. At some point, before we go much further, we also have to figure out how to create insulated openings into the two attic crawlspaces. The previous owner marked in pencil where one of them should go, and advised us that the other one can be reached through the closet, but we'll have to cut through the wall and make the doorways ourselves. That kind of operation is way beyond our skill level. So the third floor is kind of stalled for the moment, although I may try to work on taping and mudding more of it now that the weather is cooler. We have some pictures of our progress, but I'm not posting them right now because 1) I'm at work and 2) most of the people who read house blogs already know what partially finished drywall jobs look like. It's not an interesting sight. ;-P

I may put up the pictures of the bits of old newspaper we found adhered to the attic floor, though. We couldn't find any dates, but one of them was talking about rations and military action in Tunisia, so I'm guessing they're from one of the world wars.

Until we can get more of the attic straightened out, I've resumed my old, bad habit of stripping. (Paint from wood, of course.) :) In order to practice my skills on an inconspicuous and nonessential piece of woodwork, I've been working on one of the nice doors from the annex--the tall, skinny one that separates the "box room" from the once and future powder room (the one with the smashed toilet and little else in it.) I've gone through layers of white, tan, and dark brown to find a layer of dark red. The red is pretty, but I don't think it's the original color of the wood. It acts like a stain, but it seems more like paint, as it still obscures most of the wood's grain. It rubs off when I put the paint remover on it, but it doesn't bubble up like the other layers do.

I'm not sure what to do about it, but I'm going to see how the door looks in red once it's all stripped, in case it still resists being removed. I'm pretty sure the trim in the annex used to be red as well, so maybe it will all match. With the white walls and the colored trim, it sort of reminds me of colonial architecture I've seen in various historical villages. It may work, at least in part of the annex, to restore it to that state. I'll put up a picture of the door and my progress at some point.

I've also begun stripping an old armoire the POs left behind, which was being used to hold electrical components and paint cans. It's really beaten up, but the wood underneath is nice. When it's done, we're going to use it to store toiletries and linens, since we don't have a linen closet. My uncle (a veteran of auctions and eBay) told me that we'd get more money for it if we didn't strip it, but since we're planning to use it and not sell it, I figured we're not doing it any damage. If we ever decide to sell it, I'll repaint it. It won't have the antique paint on it, but honestly, the antique paint was all banged up and ugly, and not in a shabby chic, peeling, cool patina way--more like a "used to store volatile chemicals for decades" way. So that's been my evening entertainment lately. I'm trying to use up the gross, poisonous paint stripper we used on the apartment fireplace so I can get something less fumey, like Peel Away or more Citristrip. I like Citristrip, although I've found that I now have trouble eating some orange-flavored foods because of altered smell associations. :-P

I discovered the other day that the little patio area behind the annex may be home to not only a tiny snake, but also a big fat groundhog. It was walking around the garden, and when I came outside, it ran back into the hole in the bricks back there. I don't know if it has warrens down there, or if it's just a small hidey-hole; it kept peeking out to see if I was gone, so maybe the hole didn't go too far. If it does have tunnels, though, we may have to figure out how to evict it before it goes into hibernation. In case something happened to the poor thing, I wouldn't want it to be dead under the house. :x(

In cooler exterior news, we discovered that the staircase we found on the corner of our property goes all the way up the hill and under the bridge. Adam found the overgrown upper portion yesterday. We don't know if it used to be a private staircase or one of the city's, but it's pretty narrow, so I imagine it's the former. We haven't followed it all the way to the top, but I know there used to be another street with houses up there before the Parkway was constructed. Adam already found part of another grindstone and some of the same Prohibition-era liquor bottles we have in our secret room. We're going to explore that area at length. I keep finding more reasons to love living on an old property.

Sorry for the long, pictureless post. I'll fix the latter problem when I have access to our photos at home, but I fear I can't do anything about the length. :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Not Dead

Really, we're not! We've just been helping other people move, unpacking, attending an anime convention, resuming an intense gaming schedule with our friends, (in scholarinexile's case) getting started with the fall semester at three different colleges, seeing a good friend off to marital bliss, and watching the Olympics. There has been some progress on the house in the past month, beyond unpacking; we did begin taping and mudding the drywall in the attic (we took pictures, but they're still in the camera), and we've continued the process of cleaning up the back yard. It's not in bad shape, but it isn't entirely pretty, either.

Most of the yardwork has consisted of rounding up loose bricks, of which there are legion at the Four Mile House. The previous previous owners, at some point in the house's history, decided to cover most of the property's triple lot in bricks. I guess they either required a lot of parking or just didn't like grass. The previous owners, bless them, pulled up most of the bricks and created some viable back yard space, leaving just enough for a car parking area. Then, they (bless them even more) used most of the pulled-up bricks to create an awesome patio area at the base of the hill. However, there were more bricks than the patio could sustain, so there are just random piles of surplus bricks in several locations around the property: there's a stack in the basement, a scattering on the left side of the garden, and a sizable mountain of them on the right. Plus the ones that are being used in the fire pit and as landscaping throughout the side yard, but I'm not counting them because they're at least fulfilling a purpose. Here's a picture of the patio, so I can determine whether I'm actually capable of posting pictures on this blog.

We've managed to create a small cairn of bricks atop the wall to the left of the strawberry patch, but the mountain on the right side of the patio is still untamed. I have no idea what we're going to do with all of these bricks. We could build a decent-sized wall with them if we wanted to. Hmm...we have been wanting a garden shed so we could stop storing the lawnmower in what's supposed to be the craft/sewing room. Maybe we could at least provide it with a brick foundation.

It's going to be difficult to decide what to do with the yard in general. It's huge, but it consists of a few isolated pockets of space with little flow between them. There is the front yard, which is completely fenced in:

...the "hedge maze," which consists of juniper and yew shrubs and three (apparently) replanted blue spruce Christmas trees, all of which are growing at an alarming rate and are home to several gigantic spiders:

...and the back yard, seen further above, which consists of a concrete patio, a brick patio, a brick parking pad, an ill-kept brick walkway beside the house, a path to the garden, the garden itself, the end of the driveway, another concrete pad covered with loose bricks and a firepit, and some sort of structure (possibly old stairs?) completely covered with weeds. Oh, and also some sort of small fenced-in patio behind the annex, which is weed-infested, has two large holes in it, and is home to a tiny snake.

Wow. Until I spelled it all out like that, I didn't realize quite how...diverse...a space it is. I'd really like it to have more continuity between the three separate spaces, but it's going to take some thought and some work to determine how to accomplish this. I want it to contain at least some plants native to the area, to have a healthy and prolific garden, to look nice, to be a good space for entertaining and for kids/pets to play in, and to have good drainage so our basement doesn't flood. We have some vague ideas: scholarinexile wants to take down the front yard fence, we both want a lilac bush, we need a shed, and I'd like to put in a couple of apple trees. But other than that, we're going into this a bit blindly. We're both creative people, but our creativity is largely centered on the realm of the written and spoken word. We're not quite as good with making spaces look pretty.

Given all of this, I can't believe we're also considering buying the vacant lot beside the house and extending our property even more. O.o

For the time being, we are managing to keep the lawn mowed, and we're working on rounding up the the bricks and not bothering the gigantic spiders in the hedge maze. Today is our one-month anniversary of actually living at the house with our furniture, so I guess that's some good progress so far. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Sigh of Relief...for the moment

Things continue apace at the house. We're very close to being unpacked (or at least as unpacked as we're going to be for the near future, until we work on making more of the place livable), we've managed to mend some of the damage that the movers did, and even though the house still isn't quite feeling like home, it's certainly feeling more comfortable. My dad, who possesses mad engineering skills, was even able to reassemble my broken desk, which we thought was destined for the curb. He and my mom spent a weekend with us at the end of July, and they provided immense help in getting things unpacked and set up. So many people have been supportive and helpful throughout this whole process; it's like the house is something all of our family and friends can get excited about, and that's a great feeling. We've already had more visits from some people in the past few weeks than we have in years.

This past weekend, we went out and bought a lawn mower and weed trimmer, which felt like profoundly grown-up things to purchase. We returned home and used said items on the yard, which had been neglected since before the previous owners moved, and which consequently was looking rather unkempt. The grass in front was so high that it choked the mower when we tried to start it, and the back garden was a field of vetch and knee-high grass.

The whole experience was an adventure for me, on account of the only yard tools I've ever used in my life have been hedge shears and a rake--I was spoiled by the presence of a brother in the family, and he and my dad did all of the machinery-related yard work. So I used a lawn mower (well, for about a minute, then I gave it back to Adam) and a trimmer for the first time in my life, and felt very empowered and homeownery, until I realized that high-velocity weed fragments really sting, and that I should probably go and put long pants on. :-P

But at the end of the day, we had a neat lawn and trimmed hedges, and we managed to push back the jungle that had been threatening to reclaim the back of the house, so we were happy. We celebrated by having an extremely unhealthy dinner at the other neighborhood bar (the one that's not Big Jim's), and then by building a fire in the backyard fire pit later on. The previous owners had kindly left us a bunch of logs in what we thought was a built-in firewood box, but which was actually a built-in barbecue without the grill parts. The sooner we use up the logs, the sooner we get to put the barbecue to its intended use--and in the meantime, we get backyard campfires, which we both love. Adam is a total outdoor type, and his sedentary wife has been cruelly preventing him from going camping for the past few years, so it's awesome that he actually gets to practice his rustic hearth-tending abilities again.

Now that we're almost done unpacking, we're looking ahead to the real work we're going to have to start soon. First on the agenda is the attic, which has had drywall hung, but still needs all of the taping and mudding done. We bought lots of fiberglass mesh and knives in a wide array of two-inch increments, and I've been watching Internet tutorials on drywalling technique. Such fun! I really hope we don't make a terrible mess of it. Other short-term projects of the type we're afraid to try ourselves include exterior power outlets (these are very important, since we decorate way too much for Christmas), and a GFCI outlet for the bathroom. We were almost certain that the latter already existed, but if it did, then it disappeared at some point before we moved in. I've spent the last three years drying my hair while sitting on the floor in the hallway, and I don't want to spend another winter doing so.

The fact that we can just have an electrician put in outlets wherever we want them has been a source of great joy to us. We're still getting accustomed to having so much control over our surroundings after having lived in dorms or apartments for the last eleven years. Last night, we were looking up at one of the trees in our yard, and we realized that if we wanted to, we could just cut it down, without having to answer to anyone. Not that we would, but we could, and that's a great feeling. :) I can't wait until next spring, when we can actually plant things that aren't in pots.

Speaking of the great outdoors, we've been noticing a big difference between Squirrel Hill (tree-lined but still pretty urban) and Four Mile Run (a tiny island of houses bordered by a city park to the north, the river to the west, and forested hillsides too steep for habitation on the other sides): wildlife. Squirrel Hill isn't exactly a concrete jungle, being sandwiched between two parks as it is, but the local fauna seemed to be isolated to squirrels (of course), raccoons, cats, pigeons, mourning doves, and giant black-and-red-spotted slugs that appeared after it rained. A pretty citified bunch, all in all. In the 2-3 weeks we've been living in the new house, our wildlife sightings have included:

*a bunny,
*wild turkeys (including a mama and a baby),
*leafcutter bees, which I've never before seen in real life, and
*a tiny brown snake, which I briefly thought was a copperhead, but which was almost certainly just...well, a brown snake. :-P

We also heard shrieking one night that sounded very much like what one would expect from a lemur or a chupacabra, but it might just have been a child or an agitated small dog. At the very least, we didn't get visual confirmation of the species. In general, the Run is rather more naturey than we're accustomed to. I' m expecting the deer and bears to start showing up in our back yard any time now.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reverse Entropy

In the week since my last post, we have almost completely succeeded in moving into the new house; we still have a few items like a lamp, a fan, cleaning supplies, and my wedding dress at the old apartment, and have a few more cleaning duties to fulfill over there before we can turn in our keys. The move was...a qualified success. We moved almost all of our boxes over on Saturday without any hitches, thanks to the help of our wonderful friends and family, but the furniture didn't fare quite as well on Tuesday. The professional crew we hired consisted of three twenty-one-year-olds apparently on summer job duty; the "crew chief" had only been on the job for three weeks, and it showed. We ended up with a broken computer desk that's probably unsalvageable, a La-Z-Boy recliner with half of the handle snapped off, a nightstand with a chunk taken out of the top, a glass-top dining room table with a two-inch-chip missing from the corner, numerous gouges and scrapes on various doorframes and walls, a cracked baluster at the top of our staircase, and broken trim and a hole in the screen on the back door. Unfortunately, we discovered most of it after we tipped them and they left; the moving company received a prompt call, but we're not expecting to get much from the insurance claim. They're a bit notorious about not paying out on damaged goods. Add this to the fact that their moving truck lacked several pieces of important equipment (like a furniture dolly) and we had to sit for a half hour while they jumpstarted the van, whose battery had died...yeah, we didn't end up with a terribly favorable opinion of the company overall. I'm hoping this is the last move we make in a long time, but if it isn't, then we might go back to the U-Haul method in the future. :-P

But despite all of that, we are home, and I'm happy about that. We're slowly unpacking--progress on that should improve greatly once we're done cleaning the apartment--and the house is beginning to take shape. The neighbors we've met have been very friendly so far, and we've already discovered some more interesting features in the house. Even though the last few days have been tough, things are looking positive in general.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


We closed on the house at 4:30 yesterday afternoon--we're now owners of property! :-D It's such a strange feeling, like we got away with something sneaky...I don't feel nearly old enough to own a house and land. We'd heard a lot of horror stories about closing that made it sound like a torturous and neverending ritual, but ours was very smooth and even relaxing after everything that came before it. The closing lawyer was very nice and explained everything to us, and it was over before we knew it.

Now comes the hard part: moving. We have professional movers to take over the furniture next week, but until then, we're going to work on getting the boxes and small stuff over--including almost 40 boxes of books alone. Scary. We're also going to try to move over anything that, while being perfectly normal home possessions for people who are geeks, medievalists, and/or anthropologists, might be a bit disturbing for the movers...stuff like the sword collection and the armadillo skeleton (the latter is my husband's, not mine. Well, the sword collection is mostly his too, although I must admit to owning a reproduction of a Roman pugio.) I would have liked to do some work on the house before we moved anything in, but the timetable made that impossible. I'm amazed enough that we closed on the house in less than a month. So we'll have to work around furniture, but it's a worthwhile trade off for being able to vacate our apartment right at the end of our lease. I can't wait to get started with everything in earnest.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Long and Obstacle-Littered Homestretch

We completed the final walkthrough earlier today, during which we got to meet one of our neighbors (we got his dog*'s name but not his, unfortunately), and saw another one from afar. The house looks good. The sellers didn't leave too many extraneous items behind, and a lot of the rooms are much bigger than we thought they were at first, especially in the annex. We also found a mysterious pit in the back patio, what looks to be a heretofore undiscovered attic/crawlspace above the annex, and a tiny closet in the second annex room. We didn't find anything serious that had gone unnoticed during the inspection, so I'm happy. If all goes well, we'll be closing in about twenty-seven hours. If all does not go well, then problems will continue to happen with the sellers receiving the closing paperwork they're supposed to sign (they've already moved across the country), and we'll have to postpone. I'm going from the assumption that everything's going to come together at the last minute, though; that's been a frequent theme in these proceedings. :-P Between the uncertainty about the closing paperwork's location and the fact that our mortgage guy thought we were closing on Friday, there have been a few frustrating moments this week. But once again, we're hoping for no more problems.

Then, after tomorrow afternoon and a great many signatures, the house will be ours--and with it, a great many decisions about what is good the way it is, what needs to be changed for our own health and safety, and what we want to play with. In the short term, we're using the inspection report as our to-do checklist, but once the urgent and/or fairly inexpensive issues are dealt with there, then I fear we're going to begin to get creative.

The house was built in 1900, and as much as we can, we want to reflect that in our changes and decoration. That plan is slightly complicated because we don't have good examples to follow just yet. I've seen plenty of other houseblogs dealing with turn-of-the-century homes, but ours doesn't seem to be any particular style. It definitely isn't Victorian, and it isn't Craftsman either; the listing named it a "farmhouse," but it's in a former steel mill working neighborhood, not in a particularly agricultural area. I gather from my Internet research that farmhouse is often just a fancy word for "two-story house of undetermined style," so I'm not entirely sure what sources to look to for historical accuracy. So wherever possible, we're going to try to uncover older aspects of the house, and are going try to make our renovations not too contemporary.

A further problem is that we have nearly no experience with being handy; we can paint with not much mess, and I can hammer a nail pretty well and like stripping paint from wood, but other than that, we're learning as we go along. I understand that undertaking a historically sensitive renovation takes skill and talent, at least one of which I know we don't have yet. So it's going to be a balancing act making the place livable and enjoyable without potentially messing up its historic aspects, but we're going to try. We may end up indulging in some harmless stopgap measures until we're ready to tackle more serious projects. At the very least, for the moment, we can paint.

Twenty-six hours and forty-five minutes until closing. It's going to be a long day and night and morning.

*The dog in question is a mastiff puppy that currently weighs as much as I did when I graduated high school, and whose head comes up to my waist. She's ten months old and has a good bit of growing left in her. I hope she's friendly. O.O

Well, if nothing else, the neighborhood will certainly be well guarded.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Beginning

It's been a busy month.

Less than a month, actually--around this time in June, my husband and I had taken a look at the current housing market in our hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, scrutinized our finances, and resigned ourselves to a few more years of renting the Squirrel Hill duplex where we lived. We'd been seriously looking for a house for about nine months, but things hadn't been going entirely well. We fell in love with the first house we looked at in September, a beautiful, eccentric blue home whose only flaw was that it was beside a highway on-ramp, only to learn that someone had made an offer right before we toured it. And this past March, we went as far as making an offer on a crumbling old Victorian fixer-upper whose disturbingly low price was due to structural instability and impending foreclosure. After a few weeks of tense negotiation and immense frustration, we lost the house to the friend of a friend.

That brings us up to June 14 and our decision to abandon the house hunt for a few years. It seemed like several factors had converged to make this not the right time. The housing market in general wasn't doing well, academic politics and budget cuts at the college where my husband works were making finances uncertain for the fall, and we were realizing more and more that we'd have to shell out a lot more than we could then afford to remain in our chosen neighborhood. Squirrel Hill is a beautiful, safe area, bracketed by two parks and full of restaurants, stores, and the mingling of many cultures. It also claims some of the best public schools in the City of Pittsburgh. As such, real estate runs in the range of a few hundred thousand dollars--a pittance compared to housing prices in other cities, I know, but more than a young married couple just starting out can handle. We weighed the benefits of continuing to rent or moving out to the suburbs, and our stubborn love for the city and preference to live where our income taxes are going won out. We decided to settle down for the moment, and even to consider eventually buying the duplex where we were living.

Then our realtor--who has been awesome and indispensable throughout this whole complicated process--casually sent us a listing in a neighborhood most people have never heard of.

Four Mile Run, also known as Russian Valley or Russka Dolina, is a tiny area sandwiched between two of Pittsburgh's many hills and largely underneath an I-376 overpass. Some people know of it because of St. John Chrysostom, the church where Andy Warhol was baptized. Others have heard of Big Jim's, a modest bar and restaurant that serves gigantic portions. Many have seen it under the bridge while driving on the Parkway, but have no idea how to get to it. We were somewhat familiar with it, being fans of Big Jim's, and having had a cousin who briefly lived down there. It seemed pretty far out of the way, too far to be walking distance back to our favorite places in Squirrel Hill, but the price inspired us to take a look.

A twenty-minute tour of the house decided the issue. We immediately told our realtor that we wanted to buy it.

The story of how we ended up doing so is probably pretty standard, so I won't recount it right now; maybe later, or maybe not at all. There were negotiations, moments of sheer panic, and sleepless nights. But they accepted our offer on June 18, and we set about the insane process of trying to close in less than a month, on account of we had a lease that ran out on July 31st, and the sellers had to get busy making a cross-country move.

So here we are, five days before closing and mostly (we hope!) packed. My husband and I are both writers and like to share our lives with the entire Internet, so we talked about the possibility of branching out into a houseblog. The house, while awesome, is more than a century old and is going to require some work, and I've been exhausting all of our friends with house hunt details for so long that I thought I'd isolate that content here. :)

A little about the house: it was built in 1900, is covered in seafoam green asbestos cement shingles, contains a secret room that (according to our creative but unproven theory) may have been used by bootleggers during Prohibition, and is one of the longest houses I've ever seen (another reason for the blog name.) It has three bedrooms with a potential for four more due to a three-room add-on and a partially finished attic, a front porch that seems like it's doing its best to fall off the house, and Eastern European religious figurines stuck in the foundation.

A little about us: I'm a 29-year-old writer, currently of annotations for an economics journal, but maybe one day of fantasy and science fiction. Adam is a 29-year-old physical anthropologist and archaeologist by trade, also a writer, and currently an adjunct professor of biology teaching at three different colleges. We're also total geeks, and have been participating in two regular D&D campaigns for between 10 and 20 years.

And that's it for now, until next Wednesday, when we exchange a big and scary check for a tiny set of keys.