The Barnum Neighborhood Circus

The neighborhood we ended up in is unique, I think, of the 79 neighborhoods within the Denver city limits.

Sure they all have "character," and "history," but the neighborhood of Barnum is the only neighborhood established by a raving lunatic circus promoter. Thats right, the neighborhood of Barnum is named after none other than P.T. Barnum, who owned seven-hundred plus acres of our neighborhood as his winter respite, yet did very little for the city of Denver other than annex his property to the city. P.T. could be our most notable icon, but as far as Denver fame goes he's no Kerouac or Cassady, but we do have local, celebrities.

Our Neighborhood is bordered by Sheridan blvd. to the west, federal blvd. to the east, 6th Ave to the north, and Alameda ave. to the south. Technically we live in Barnum West, a bit closer to Sheridan, but it's all Barnum. The populace is primarily Hispanic, and the cultural saturation abounds. There are lots of these guys roaming the streets. As with any low-income area Crime
in Barnum is evident, yet not seen personally. We haven't had the chance to visit the carneceria yet.

And there's a lovely garden.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

We have yet to post about the basement. It's a complicated subject. When we moved in, it looked like this:

...with the bar area, which you have seen, behind the photographer. The holes in the ceiling are poorly-made attempts at installing speakers. The light switch is a dimmer. The first door on the right is a half finished bathroom/laundry room, and there's a bedroom at the end. It looked like this:

The dark wood paneling went far, far away, as did the mirror tiles that were supposedly there to brighten it up. So did the thin, useless paneling in the main basement room. And every inch of nasty carpet.

As this is Spring in Colorado, shortly after we moved in, we had a [beautiful] torrential rain, with hail. Shortly after that, we had standing water in the basement. Good times. After removing some insulation, we found:

...cracks. Which we will fill. In the meantime, Uncle "Champ" brought a few yards of dirt and spread it around the perimeter of the house, effectively reversing the slope of the driveway and eroded yard away from the house. No seepage since, despite several equally severe storms. Thanks, Uncle!

Eventually, much celebration and big-screen TV watching will occur down here. We just have to re-do everything the previous owner tried to do.

Clean Clothes for Dirty Bodies

So, there are perks to marrying someone affiliated with the technological conglomerate that is Best Buy. Namely, discounts and employee auctions. The latter afforded us a $200 washer for the winning bid of...$40.

It's bottom-of-the-line, to be sure, but considering that our dryer is a wire in the back yard, it's pretty sweet. And apparently it's as laid back as we are:

...we can choose to wash our clothes in the following temperatures/temperaments: normal, gentle, or...casual? What does that mean? It's only for casual clothes? Or it starts washing them whenever it wants to?

While Bren installed this useful device...

I made a tee pee, fort and campfire ensemble out of the box components and bar remnants. The tee pee has fallen down three times, though. I guess I should stick to Irish lass and relinquish Indian squaw. I could cook potatoes on that campfire without even lighting it. All I need is a beer. Wanna fight about it?

On a related note: we got our first water bill today. We didn't have to pay for water at our apartment, so neither of us had any idea what a normal water bill was. Tip: if you want to lower your water bill, move into a house that has no bathing, laundering or lawn-watering capabilities. The grand total:

That's right. $8.46.


It's Shake 'N' Bake...And I Did It All By Myself

Finally, both layers of linoleum are removed from the kitchen. Cue the Seraphim...

Unfortunately, we won't be able to rescue the hardwood. Approximately 75% of the room was patched with unfinished, low-quality wood of a different width than the original at some point. So, we're going to scrape this stuff down to the subfloor and install new hardwood. It will be cheaper than tile, and more durable in the long run, if more labor-intensive.

In other hardwood news, I patched a hole in the living room all by myself tonight. Bren and the band had a show, so I whipped out the saw and drill and CONSTRUCTED.

I am prodigiously proud of this patch. I had to drill pilot holes for every nail I drove at a 55 degree angle into the tongue of every plank. Once we sand down the rest of the room(s), it'll be good as new. Or good as old, I guess. Yeah.


Livin' the Dream

A welcome addition to the family:

Our dream fridge, a floor display at Best Buy on clearance. Aunt and Unc have already filled the bottom-mount freezer with chili and goodies from Schwan's.

In other news:

A combination kitchen sink/vanity offers a myriad of conveniences. Just make sure your washcloth, dishcloth, and linoleum soaking cloth are different colors.



The crazy lady next door has an old-skool rotor-blade lawnmower, and a lot full of overgrown grass, weeds and plants. She cut [chikchikchikchik] a swath of it the other day, so she could sit in her lawn chair.

On the other side, last year's dump trip was preempted by a blue tarp.

One house further resides our favorite neighbor...

...who stopped by for a piece of cheese last night. She's old enough to wear an illegibly worn-down tag, but she rules the streets. Oooowwwwwww!

We would have loved to take this gangsta in, had she been abandoned. Unfortunately, her lacklustre parents will have to do for now. With the occasional piece of cheese from her friendly neighborhood dog enthusiasts.

Mama's in the Kitchen

So...I haven't posted for a few days. That's because 1) I took a break from the bathroom floor, inasmuch as it is IMPOSSIBLE to remove, and 2):

Bren went Medieval on the tub. Or, in his case, the footbath. And it takes a couple of days after ripping this crap out to be able to make a fist again.

Last Saturday, I dogsat this Gunter girl:

Afterwards, on a whim, I decided to take a peek and see if the kitchen floors were hardwood too. I found:

Hardwood. Under (again) two layers of linoleum, the oldest of which looks like...you guessed it...the most sensible thing to cover genuine hardwood floors with...fake wood!

To explain the late post...the layers of ancient linoleum are not going gently into that good night. Four days later, this is where I am in the kitchen:

The glued-down tar paper is coming up with a hot soak and a razor, but the glue itself will have to be sanded down, tripling our sandpaper budget. (It clogs the paper very quickly).

I have to keep telling myself how cool it will look when it's done. It will, right? Right?

I Feel Like a Mario Brother

My main concerns in the house up to now have been: keeping water out of the basement and remodeling our bathroom. The basement walls have a tendency to seep liquid fury into our poorly finished basement when it rains. One of three steps have been taken to dissuade this water torture. First the O'Connor brothers (myself and my brother, who happens to have a ladder and other tools needed) cleared out five or six years of rotten, nasty leaves and dirt from our gutters. Thanks Miles. Step two (dirt grading around the house exterior), and three (hydraulic water-lock cement on the basement walls) are in the works.

The bathroom remodel ranks higher on my list for one simple reason, cleanliness. We have gotten by without any issues so far thanks to the hospitality of family and friends. I made a large advancement in my home improvement repertoire today and we are a large step further towards bathroom bliss. It took me two hours this morning to decide whether or not to call a plumber to get a quote. After two hours of pondering, I finally decided to do it myself. After two trips to two different home depots (the one closest to us is horrible, although we did talk to a very helpful guy who knew a lot about our particular style of hardwood floors on my 3rd trip of the day), I returned home with the kind of thing every boy and man dreams about having:

I found that soldering pipe is not as hard as it seems. There are a lot of steps, and a lot can go wrong, but after a lot of practice I got the hang of it.

This went along swimmingly for a couple of hours, taking each step, double checking myself each time. It's a lot like learning a new song. Follow the sheet music the first couple times, trying without until you forget a step, then go back to the book. The last few times went by easily and know I know how liquid metal can osmoticaly fill the gap of a pipe fitting. Cool stuff. All this information is of course useless when you are standing in a 2ftx7ft space looking up at two pipes, barely within reach, that may or may not (but shouldn't) be filled with pressurized water. All I planned to do this time out was cut and cap the pipes, allowing me to remove the pipes above from the walls. It was nerve wracking, but I got it done. The caps have been holding steady for a few hours now, and all is well.

Why would I cut two perfectly good, old pipes? Here's the simplest way I could think to explain it. I need to move the pipes

Imagination helps.



"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer"

It's ironic that the single well-executed project in this Prohibition Era house was a bar.

This is in the basement. You can see that the guy who lived here before us was no champion at drywall or carpeting, but he must have put a lot of time into this piece. You can't see them in this picture, but there is a frosted plastic shadowbox overhead containing colored lights. Good Lord.

Bren and Miles got the thing dislodged...

...but it wasn't going anywhere. It's heavy, and the nearest openings are comparatively narrow.

So, I came home from my half-day at work, grabbed my trusty Wonderbar and Sledgehammer, and reduced the bar to this pile of rubble:

Hear me roar. I need a drink.

Doin' the Potty Dance

The upstairs bathroom saga, part one.

Once upon a time, there was a bathroom...

...that seemed irregularly large for such an old house.

The pink tile was quickly dispatched, only to reveal...

...yet another layer of tile.

That pink and cream tile-look linoleum?

It gave way to ANOTHER layer of black-and-white granite-look linoleum, and HARDWOOD FLOORS.

We suspected early on that this was initially a second bedroom, based on:

This ill-disguised carcass of a window, which roughly corresponds to the master bedroom closet, and the fact that the hardwood floors stop a couple of feet out from said closet. Suspicions confirmed: the closet was a tiny, authentic 1927 bathroom at one point.

And maybe, just maybe, our bathroom will end up looking something like this...

...after about 100 hours of scraping stinky linoleum glue.

Ring of Fire

I forgot this when I listed stuff in the house that's original:

The old wood or coal-burning furnace. We found it when removing the old, dark paneling (pictures forthcoming). It was kinda creepy, like we were finding something we weren't supposed to. It's very "The 'Burbs." Maybe that's why previous owners tried to brighten it up with a splash of seafoam green?


Our first night using the hot plate was kind of a let-down, as our macaroni and cheese took FOR EVER. But we're getting the hang of it.

It's really funny going to the deli counter at King Soopers and buying ONE chicken breast. But this guy made a hearty quesadilla for Bren (he ate salad, too, Mom), and there was even some left over for a multi-grain wrap for my lunch today.

Last night, we made a potato, onion, ham, and cheese frittata. It was awesome. Who needs ovens and refrigerators? Psh!


A Fine Vintage

Some of the original details remaining in our 80-year-old home:

The peep-hole is like a locket -- you raise a lever to open the oval door. There is no glass; the front is a door-knocker.

This vent in the bathroom both looks and sounds reminiscent of an airplane. Yes, it still functions.

The porch light. The Green Lantern. It's green glass...weird. Not a good picture -- guess you'll have to visit!

This light actually belongs to Aunt and Uncle, but it works. Especially near one of the house's many inset nooks for statues or whatever.

Finally, a forthcoming project we need significant help with:

This is where our power hails from. We have to rewire -- at least the kitchen. Bren is pro at wiring low-voltage home theatre stuff through walls, ceilings, and floors, but this is somewhat intimidating.

It's strange to think about what all has happened in the world since this house was built, let alone here specifically. If we could go back...

I would certainly appreciate my vote more.

Bren and I could say we had read The Great Gatsby, and a lot of people wouldn't know what we were talking about.

Allen Ginsberg would have been forming his first words.

We could have heard Louis Armstrong play.

Picasso was between Cubism and Surrealism.

PEZ had been invented, but not sliced bread. I guess that means PEZ is not the best thing since sliced bread. Miles might disagree.

Makes me want to put a finger wave in my hair...


Pillow Talk

This was the bedroom:

Pink carpet, and gold-veined mirror tiles on two walls. Boom-chicka-wow-woooow...

Aunt Cherri took care of that!

Don't mess with us Gunter girls. Now it looks like this...

...and is the "tool room" until further notice.


I Did It All for the Nook

The kitchen has been my primary victim over the past 10 days. Anybody need a lath and plaster wall knocked out?

Behold what was the breakfast nook, a space made useless by the archway you see.

A good day's work.

Ah, that's better. Now we can continue the cabinets and counter to the window. Someday we might even get appliances!

On an opposite wall, where all the culinary magic happens:

As you can see, having all the high-end amenities is important to us.

The pantry houses our store of gourmet delicacies, exotic spices, and fine china. Mmm, cuisine.

Time to rest the ol' sledgehammer arm.

Work, Work, Work, Busy Bee

OK, so here's some of the work we've done:

The very first thing to go was this awful burnt orange carpet. Ew.

Under that, we were surprised to find pee yellow carpet. And a fake brick tile entryway. Double ew.

Finally, under THAT, lay the original hardwood floors, in remarkable condition considering the neglect and abuse they've endured.

Note the sweet entertainment center. With a good sanding and lacquering, these floors are going to be awesome. They continue into the bedroom, as well.

Back to that tile entryway. It was GLUED down to the hardwood. Genius.

5 hours with a razor, and I got all the glue up. People, please don't do ugly things to hardwood floors. For the children.

A Time to Gather Stones Together

Today is our 3rd wedding anniversary. We are going to The Saucy Noodle, and then we're going to sleep in our new house for the first time! We've done a lot of work on it...more on that later.



"Horror has found a new home!"

Here are some lovely shots of the exterior of our "new" house.

Front porch:

From the alley behind the house: