Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Our Little Piece of California-Part 2

Well, after several attempts we are finally in the home stretch on a house in Long Beach! As is usually the case, we are so much happier with this place than the others we tried to get, and it is a great deal as well. Here are some photos:
This is from the front. It is closest to a Spanish Colonial Revival style, though it has California Craftsman touches too
This is standing in the dining room looking toward the living room in the front of the house. We will take the stone off of the fireplace and get it back to the plaster that would have been original to the house
This is standing in the living room looking back toward the dining room. Kitchen is to the left after the arch opening
This is from the breakfast area looking toward the kitchen. We will eventually remodel with new cabinets and tops. Though not original, we love the huge garden window.
And this looks toward the breakfast area from the kitchen. The patio slider is great for light and a lovely breeze-useful in this warm climate
This is the main bath.
This is the back of the house from the rear yard. While small by midwestern standards, this is a very generous lot for LA And finally this is half of the back yard from the rear of the house. there is a huge grape vine, an apple tree, a pear tree, an orange tree, and other landscaping.

More to come soon, as we move quickly to close. Our date for closing is June 19th.

Stay tuned! Mark

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Realtors and Friends

We continue to grind through the process of buying a house. Having a seller who is out of the country slows down the process considerably. It's looking good to finish the deal and have an April 20th closing though.
We went out to a local pub last night with our realtors and friends, Raymond and Gina. After snarfing down really good burgers and fries, we had a couple of beers and played some pool. Apologies for the grainy photos, I used my Blackberry in dim light.
Laurie lines up a shot while Gina coaches and Raymond looks on. It was girls against the guys. Raymond and I whooped some girlie butt!

Raymond considers his options while Laurie and Gina relax. I'm probably feeding the juke box when not snapping pictures.

It was a fun evening, only a few miles from our house and a few blocks from theirs. That's one of the things we really like about this area. . .lots of locally owned, neighborhood places.

A great and relaxing time was had by all. Cheers!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Our Little Piece of California?

Our house search may have come to fruition more quickly than we anticipated, since we are in escrow on a home already and if all goes well, we will be California home owners as of April 6th! We looked at perhaps 8 or 9 houses, this one being near the end, and we both fell in love with the property almost immediately. It is not perfect, but it meets nearly all of our criteria, and has a ton of potential. I did an inspection today, and crawled through every nook and cranny. Other than a few fairly minor issues, I am happy with the findings. Here are a few photos:

This is a shot from down the street, our house being center in the distance. The street is a half circle off of another street, which is nice for visual effect and will also limit traffic to those who live there since it doesn't go anywhere.

This is the house. It is deceiving, because it goes back a long ways on the other side so it is bigger than it appears. The front is cedar shake siding, but the other three sides are stucco which is typical here. In the future I will probably add a front porch roof.

This is the fireplace in the living room. There is a gas line, so we can burn wood or use a gas log set. The wallpaper border must go! The carpet and paint are brand new, but we will paint colors we like, and we checked and there are original hardwood floors under the carpet in every room! They will need sanded and refinished so we will take our time but eventually eliminate the carpeting. There is a large family room at the rear of the house which also has a brick fireplace and opens to the back yard.

This is the dining room, and beyond is the utility room with ample laundry space, a deep sink, and I will build a pantry since the kitchen is a bit small. The master bedroom suite is left from the utility room.This is part of the kitchen, which will need updating. It is very useable as is, but we will one day remodel from top to bottom.

This is part of the back yard. The tree in the corner of the house will come out immediately, but the one on the left is a lemon tree (I picked one today) so it will stay. We have plenty of room to plant other citrus trees, a nice vegetable garden, some palms, etc. There is also a nice covered patio off the side of the 2 car garage which will be great outdoor entertaining space.

It isn't ours yet, and there are still a few things that could torpedo the deal (appraisal results is the main last issue) but everything is looking good for a closing in about 2 weeks. Pray that if this is the right move for us, things will come together as planned.

That's it for now. Take care! Mark

Sunday, February 22, 2009


We recently traveled back to Indiana for the sad event of my mother's passing. We miss her terribly, but take comfort in knowing she is with our Lord and reunited with the love of her life, my dad Barney, and our siblings Rosalie, Brian and Christine, as well as family and friends who have gone before. She was a beautiful, gentle person who gave of herself constantly, and Heaven is a richer place with her there.
Here she is as a child

And as a beautiful and stylish young woman about town
In 1938, she married my dad and remains faithfully in love after over 7 decades
This is a rare photo of her whole family, except Christine who died at birth
Here she is celebrating her 88th birthday last August

Thank you, mom, for giving us all so much, and rest in perfect peace. We will see you again, and will hold you in our hearts until then.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shoveling Sunshine

After reading our daughter Mallory's blog reporting 13 inches of snow at their house, and Laurie's sister Mary's blog reporting an ice storm, I thought I should share a bit about what we are dealing with here in Los Angeles.
Today, for example, we had to shovel a ton of sunshine in order to get out our front door and make our way to the beach for a long walk. We braced ourselves for the 80 degree temperature and cowered from the 10 mile an hour sea breeze gently ruffling our t-shirts. And don't get me started on all that stinking sand in our flip-flops.
Just look at some pictures of the aftermath from our severe sunshine. . .

The lake at the Chinese Garden in Huntington Botanical Gardens
Tidal pools at Abalone Cove near Palos Verdes south west of L.A.
The mountains north of Malibu.
I realize that we are not taking as many pictures lately, because I struggle to find new stuff for the blog. We will work on that. Last week we were in Atlanta for Habitat's national conference. It was good catching up with old friends, and reconnecting to the larger mission of Habitat.
We are starting to think about buying a home here-a daunting venture given the housing costs here, even in light of the down real estate market. Now is a great time to buy though, because interest rates are down as are house prices, and it's a buyers market. It looks like we will be able to get a nice place in a neighborhood near where we live now within our budget. Buying now should prove beneficial when the market turns around and we realize an increase in value. We are in prime position to take advantage since we don't own a house now, so don't have to sell in this market. We'll keep you posted with pictures of potential properties (phew!) as the search goes on. We figure it will be about 3-6 months to find and finalize a deal.
That's all for now-Love Ya-Cheers! Mark

Friday, November 28, 2008

Where the deer, the antelope, and the Habitaters play

We went camping at Joshua Tree National Park a couple of weeks ago with friends from work. It was great to get out of the city for a few days, and this park never disappoints. We hiked and enjoyed campfires in the evening while stargazing.This is our campsite, right up against the rocks. It is a cool way to camp. At night the heat from the rock reflected back to us as it got quite cool. The fire lit up the rock face which looked cool as well. We had two sites next to each other as there was 10 of us and they only allow 6 per site, so the other tents are out of view.
Steve, Jan (pronounced Yan) and Laurie enjoy camp life
The park is very mountainous and mostly rock. It is great for hiking, and being desert, has warm days with cool nights.

This is Laurie and I at the 5000 ft+ peak of Mount Ryan. Notice how deep blue the sky is. Our whole group, except Steve, made the summit. He struggles with altitude.

The day we drove out was the day the latest wild fires broke out, and Laurie, Ken and I drove right through one of the main burns as it was taking out homes along the 91 freeway. We got through just before they closed the road, and the others who came later had to go around the fires.

More later. . .Take care one and all.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Oktoberfest! Das Gut!

A short post about our visit to Oktoberfest last night. This is an annual tradition in several locations around LA, but we like the one at Alpine Village near our house. They bring in an authentic "Oom Pa Pa" band from Germany, serve the sausage, saurkraut and potato salad dinners and, of course, plenty of beer under a huge tent filled with picnic tables and thousands of people. It is loud, but lots of fun.

Laurie with, from left to right, friends David, Steve and his wife Beth.

Things are now rolling good (around 9pm), and the band members come and play on your table top while ladies stuff dollar bills in their socks and lederhosen. Believe it or not, the girls with him in costume are not workers, but attendees. Lots of people really get into it and dress the part. Steve jumped up and joined the trio, clearly having a good time!

Try as we might, Steve and I just could not beat the young girls back. They were all over us! Actually, this group happened to sit next to us for the evening, and we had a lot of fun. It always facinates me how in a place as big as LA, people create community wherever they are. We were all fast friends for the evening by proximity, and may never cross paths again. It's very cool. We had a single (male) friend who was supposed to come, but didn't make it, so we asked the girls to pose with us so we could show him what he missed. They were happy to oblige, and we were happy to be obliged : )

OK, more soon. Our love to you all. . .Mark