Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The House Behind Us

The house behind us has been for sale for, oh, I don't know, maybe four years. It is a small, two bedroom house with some fairly major problems. You know, plumbing (surface laid water supply line), wiring (most of basement is strung with extension cords), water (backs into a hillside that then drains right into the unfloored basement), only one (maybe two) legal fire exits, the kitchen extension was built on a deck, black mold, tiny rooms, rotting front deck, rotting staircase from street level, undersized lot, and those are just the ones that you can see when you cursorily inspect the house.
What it does have is a great sunny location and off-street parking.
The owner and his family outgrew the available space and moved to Juneau. Most of the work that he had done while living here was done by non-bonded handymen, not contractors. An example: the front deck (we call it the aircraft carrier) is built of untreated lumber, with non-code joist spacing, perched on top of mortar pillars taller than code.. That is all the pillars contain, mortar. No aggregate, no reinforcing wire or bar, just cement and sand. You can kick them in half with a stout kick. One lick of paint on the boards and is it any wonder that the deck is already rotten, with holes in the decking after only four years?
We know what the owner paid for the house about seven years ago. We are also well aware of what he is asking now. I'm not sure even a skeevy landlord would purchase this place to rent out. There are plenty of folks who would rent it, but nothing would get fixed and the likely result would be further deterioration and higher rents.
Anyone who buys this place as an investment/rental property is going to maximize the rent, because the turnover will be horrendous. We have seen that already, with five renters in two years.
Make a great spot for a community garden though.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Arias and Recitivito

I am now convinced that the whole reason satellite radio was developed is so I can listen to live Metropolitan Opera.
No, really.
Growing up in Virginia, I spent many Saturdays at my Great Aunt Mary's house. She was a life-long member of the Met Opera. We listened to the Texaco-Met Opera radio broadcasts all through the '60s. I cannot recall any of the particular shows, but the listening bug must have burrowed in deep, because there are only a few composers that I won't listen to with great appreciation. Most Wagner, for instance.
During a recent trip to Texas, I attended my first Met Opera HD broadcast at a movie theater. Live opera, on the big screen, with surround sound, intermissions, popcorn...what's not to love? The performance was Verdi's Othello, starring Renee Fleming. I am sure that there were other singers (Falk Struckmann sang a fantastic Iago), but they were all overshadowed by Ms Fleming.
I had to call Debi after the show to tell her that I had lost a small piece of my heart and that Ms Fleming held it. Her "Magnificat" or prayer to Mary was a stellar display of voice and comfort and belief. Marvelous beyond words.
Yep, all those satellites just for me.