Friday, April 27, 2007

Welcome "Friends"!

I noticed a big jump in "hits" today and since the Friends of Historic Preservation's email note about the Parade of Historic Homes went out last night, I'm not surprised.

Welcome to the Foxcroft Blog. Here is where I write about restoring our place. Feel free to poke around. Major construction on our second floor project started in June 2005. A few favorite posts you may want to see are:


If you want to see some pictures of the original interiors of the house, look to the links below on the left.

And not to hog the spotlight, here are photos of the other two homes on the tour:


Geoff's house which now sports it's uncovered original siding


Paul's house, as it looks after 5 of 7 additions over the years have been removed.

We all hope to see you on May 20th!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

It's a House Tour and You're Invited!

Be sure to mark May 20th on your calendar, Friends of Historic Preservation will hold its "Parade of Historic Homes" that day. Three homes will be open, all of which have had major additions or restorations that featured the use of salvaged building materials and house parts. Yes, Foxcroft will be one of the three. Here's a scaled down version of the poster:


The poster pic is one from the original construction at Foxcroft, the shot shows the back porch, and shingling on the walls in progress.

I will post more about the tour in the coming weeks, with features on the other homes. If anyone is interested in more information about the tour, the FHP link above should be updated in the next two days or so, or contact me directly.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Revisiting Tragedy

At lunch yesterday I sat with my co-workers and watched the news about the VT shootings. It hit way too close for me.

Nov. 1, 1991 was a Friday, it was cold and even had started to snow. Lisa and I had been married for 3 months, and were planning to go out after work and meet some friends at a local pub. Shortly before 4:00 I parked at home and walked downtown. Two blocks from our old house was Van Allen Hall, home of the astrophysics department, on the UI campus. When I went past it there were firetrucks, an ambulance, and police cars all around and yellow caution tape in front of the building. I thought perhaps there had been a fire, but kept on going. When Lisa got to the bar, half an hour later, she asked if we had heard anything about a shooting on campus. We got the bartender to turn on the TV and heard that there had been a shooting at Van Allen Hall, and also at Jessup Hall, the UI administration building.

The initial news reports were very sketchy, I distinctly remember one saying that 5 people had been taken to Mercy Hospital (which was half a block from our home) I turned to our friend, who was a neurology resident at UI Hospital at the time, and said that must be a good sign, since the Mercy ER is much smaller than UI's, people must not be that badly hurt. Mark's response was that this was a bad sign, if people were being taken to Mercy they were likely going to the morgue. It turned out he was right.

Gang Lu, a UI astrophysics graduate student killed Dwight Nicholson, Bob Smith, and Cristoph Goertz three very distinguished physics professors, and fellow grad student Linhua Shan. He then went to Jessup and killed UI vice president T. Anne Cleary, and wounded a work study temporary secretary, Miya Sioson, leaving her a quadraplegic, before killing himself.

It was a horrible event and one that made a small city feel smaller. Gang Lu lived across the street from us in an apartment building, but we never met him. Goertz was a neighbor of my parents. I had taken an ed measurement class from Anne Cleary in the summer of 1986. The days that followed were painful. In a class discussion one of my 5th graders, mentioned that her parents, both graduate students, were very worried how people would react, they were Korean and even though the perpetrator was Chinese, they were afraid of facing discrimination and suspicion. Another student delivered papers to Gang Lu's apartment.

Many details came out later about Lu's anger at perceived slights, the inability of PhD students in sciences to get work in a changing China, his fascination with "Dirty Harry" movies. However I think the most moving and powerful summary of what happened was written by Jo Ann Beard. Her acclaimed personal essay based in part on the killings, called "The Fourth State of Matter," was originally published in The New Yorker. It also appeared in the 1997 edition of Best American Essays, and was later published in her collection of personal essays, "The Boys of My Youth." Beard worked as an editor for a physics journal at the university and was a colleague of the victims, working closely with several of them.

"The Fourth State of Matter.

My thoughts go out to all of the those people in Blacksburg.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Remembrances: Tornado/Vonnegut

It was more than a little ironic that the one year anniversary of the Iowa City tornado fell on Friday the 13th. Here's a link to my photos from last year: Tornado Tales.

I participated in the community remembrance yesterday in my role as president of Friends of Historic Preservation. I thanked the community members that have worked to restore over 60 properties that were damaged in three local historic districts and a conservation area. FHP lobbied get over $250K in funds made available so that homeowners could make the repairs required by their homes being listed in a local historic district. Many insurance policies did not cover the more stringent repairs as set forth in the Secrectary of the Interior's guidelines. I'm sure it's just conincidence that heavily Democratic Johnson County, with a governor who was running as a candidate for President, DID NOT receive Federal disaster designation! Here is a link to coverage of the event. I am quoted in the article, and in the print version of the paper I managed to be in the background of a shot of the mayor receiving a tornado statue.

Also in the print version of the paper today is a picture of an impromptu memorial set up at the "Vonnegut House" commemorating the author's death. Iowa Citians consider Vonnegut one of their own. He taught at the UI Writer's Workshop from 1966-68 and finished Slaughterhouse 5 while he lived here. He also allegedly started an annual "May Day" celebration at the house he lived in, that continued a full 20 years after he moved out. I know, as I attended more than a few. Here is a link to the house, it's for rent right now: Vonnegut House The rent is a little steep for the local market!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

More Than a Chair!

So, I was walking around at the consignment store on Tuesday, and saw a funky looking chair. I went to inspect it and knew immediately that we had to have this in our bedroom closet. The chair we had up there was fine, a nice vintage wooden folding chair that Lisa and I sit in to put on our shoes. But what I found was more than a chair...

Here it is in the closet



Here it is when you move it into the center of the closet:


When you pull the back of the chair down, it becomes an ironing board! This is something we have really needed since moving laundary upstairs:


And if you keep pulling it over it becomes a step stool, which we also need to reach the top shelf of the closet!


Definitely more than a chair!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Deja Vu All Over Again

As major work on the house slows down I get to indulge in little things. After buying all my vintage wire I've been looking at all my electrical projects with renewed interest. The first was a bridge light base that a colleague gave my 5 years ago. It was such an early light that there isn't a hollow pipe for the wires to run inside. After purchasing, via online resources, a lamp bell socket and a wing nut swivel I could put it all together. Throw in a $4 shade from a local antique store and we've got one happening light:


Here is a close up:


Having this light next to the chair makes it a great reading spot now, so yesterday I happened to see a very cool magazine stand at a consignment place for $37, but it was 40% off so paid only $22.00. I already have my suduko book in it:


Last night while look at old photos for a picture for elder daughter's art teacher I found this shot:


So I have now unwittingly nearly recreated the original interior. Here is a picture from nearly the same spot:


The next post should detail my other big consignment store purchase...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

April is the Cruelest COLDEST Month

I took some pictures last weekend of some of our early flowers. They were up and blooming after our warm weather last month. It even hit 78 degrees on March 13th. Today when I got up at 6:00 am the temperature was 16. So I’m glad we enjoyed the early flowers because the tulips, whose flower stalks were just beginning to appear above the foliage, irises, and daylilly foliage are all frozen and laying on the ground. Lisa had planted a lot of bulbs last fall and is very disappointed. Oh well, our ferns and hostas will still come up later.

Here is our Siberian Squill.


This early ground cover pretty well blankets the lawn between us and the neighbors to the south.


It also grows in nearly every other bed in the yard. It seems to have really spread this year, probably due to our clearing out the overgrowth the past three years.



This plant might be wild ginger?


We have quite a bit of this is the “far yard.” It is a shade plant, and I hope it stays even though it will now get a little more sun since we cut back the 20 foot tall lilacs.


This last picture is the only picture I have of the "tree trimming" from two weeks ago. If you look above the birthbath/fairy garden, you will see what looks like a large post leaning on the fence/ It is the trunk of a hackberry tree that we cut down.


Once it gets above freezing I'll be able to get my peas in.