A little bit of history

Information about Lydick is ridiculously difficult to find. It's fairly easy to find history from Walkerton, North Liberty, and New Carlisle, but they are all considerably bigger than Lydick. Plus they happen to still be towns, whereas Lydick dropped off the map some time ago.

Lydick's former claim to existence was based on the South Shore Railroad (formerly Chicago Lake Shore & South Bend Railroad), which still runs through here. Supposedly, the South Shore used to stop here as well, though I've not yet found any documentation to support it. I figured that by researching the history of the South Shore RR, I might come up with something relevant to Lydick.

What I found is that there used to be another railroad running through Lydick as well as the South Shore and Norfolk Southern lines that are still in operation. The Northern Indiana Railroad was an electric commuter line that connected South Bend with cities in northern Indiana and southern Michigan. There is an old depot/electrical substation still standing in Lydick. The depot is visible from Edison Road, but is set back much farther than the homes along that street. I had noticed it a few months ago, but assumed it was an old warehouse. The photos below are courtesy of the NIRR page at www.monon.monon.org and show the depot in 1934 and as it is today.

I also found another bit of information about the Northern Indiana Railroad that is extremely pertinent to my house. The tracks used to run through my backyard. Seriously. I read on another website that the former right-of-way of the NIRR through Lydick is easy to find because it follows a certain set of utility lines. Those lines are less than 100 feet north of my house in a little strip of woods. We always thought that this so-called utility easement was a bit strange... All of the homes here were built in the early part of the 20th century, and none are as far apart as ours from our neighbors to the north. We assumed that the utility lines weren't here when the homes were built, and we couldn't figure out why there was such a large gap. Now we know.

I'm even more surprised now that our home is in as good of shape as it is. Even though the NIRR was shut down in 1934, that's at least 10 years of extremely close proximity to train vibrations. The South Shore and Norfolk Southern freight lines are about 500 yards to the south, and have been there since before the house was built. Thos tracks allow about 100 trains per day to barrel through Lydick, and our house shakes from almost every single one. I can't imagine what it must have felt like to have trains running through here:

In the picture, I'm standing at the side door. The woods are where the tracks used to be, and it's about 60 feet from our garage to the woods. Pretty amazing.

Mourning a Hero

The past few days have been a little rough. Since I was relegated to light duty, I spent my last 3 days of work up in Master Control. The most strenuous thing to do up there is push a button or turn a knob. It's not the most stimulating duty station in the jail, but essential nonetheless, and it's ideal if you're injured. At about 10:45 pm on my second night in exile (Friday), South Bend PD put out a call of a shooting. Several minutes later, a dispatcher came on the air and said it was an SOS officer that had been shot. Even though I don't really know anyone on SOS, my stomach wrenched. When cops are killed in the line of duty, it's horrible. I don't know if it's explainable to anyone not a part of the "Thin Blue Line", but there's an amazing empathetic reaction even when you don't know the officer who died. There's a small voice in your head telling you that it could have been you; it could have been your husband, your friend, or a member of your family. Through random chance or God's master plan, it happened to someone else, but you know it could have just as easily happened to you or your loved ones.

I listened as South Bend officers rushed to the scene, set up a perimeter, and administered CPR to the fallen officer. When I heard that they were performing CPR, all I could think was, "Oh shit, he's not going to make it." And he didn't. About 30 hours later, after undergoing emergency surgery and sustaining 2 strokes, Corporal Scott Severns died.

Tonight South Bend PD had a memorial procession for Cpl. Severns. Neither Shayne nor I really knew Severns, but we had both met him and had spoken with him a few times. But even if we hadn't known him, we would have attended. I'm not sure how many squad cars were in the procession, but it stretched for at least a mile (and quite probably more). People of all ages lined the streets waving flags, holding candles, and standing by homemade signs. It was a moving reminder that not all citizens hate the cops, that society as a whole is comprised of good and decent people. It's easy to forget when you deal mostly with the 5% who can't get it together...

Here are a few photos I took from the staging area and during the procession. I regret that they didn't turn out better, but I only had my little point-and-shoot digital camera, and some of the pics were taken with the camera out the window of a moving squad car.

May God bless Cpl. Scott Severns and all the police, firefighters, and military personell who are willing to make the supreme sacrifice to help, serve, and protect others. Your actions will not be forgotten.


Broken Houseblogger

Progress on the house and the physical agility test both just got a major setback. I sprained my ankle at work on Wednesday night... It's not a bad sprain, but I'm on light duty at work, and I have to keep it elevated, ice it, and wear a brace. The doctor said that I should bounce back quickly, but I'm worried about the agility test next weekend. If I can't pass, I won't be considered for promotion for another year. I should be healed enough to work on the house on my days off (Sunday through Tuesday). I'm glad I've never been seriously injured; I don't think I have the patience for it!

On the upside, my sedentary work environment has given me lots of time to think about our next major project: the bathroom remodel. I've been tossing around different ideas for the bathroom since last August when we bought the house. I thought I had all the criteria covered until we found that a 60" bathtub is too small. Here's the current floor plan (the closet space is drawn a little larger than it actually is in this one):

In the current layout, the space between the vanity and the tub is right around 2 feet, and it creates a bottleneck. The vanity is also huge and hogs visual space. There's too much storage in the bathroom (amazing, huh?), and the cabinets also eat up floor space. We use maybe 30% of each cabinet. The bathtub is cheap, shallow, and uncomfortable. And, last but not least, the bathroom is just not us or suitable for the house.

We have quite a few requirements for the new bathroom, but we want to work mostly within the existing space and plumbing. We'd really prefer not to move the toilet. We want a linen closet accessible from the hallway; there's already a door there, and we don't want to get rid of it. The wall between the bathroom and the closet has to stay mostly intact, since it's a load-bearing wall. We definitely want to get rid of the bottleneck between the vanity and tub. This is what I've come up with so far that involves the least amount of rearranging fixtures:

Input is VERY welcome....!

And now I should stop getting ahead of myself and start thinking about the living room again...


Conflict of Interests

I'm not sure how it looks to folks outside of my project, but to me, it feels like we're progressing at an amazingly slow rate. As much as I try to keep my blog free of my personal/professional life, right now, they are really affecting each other. Next weekend I'll be taking a physical agility test, which is the first step in the process to get promoted from a deputy (jail officer) to Patrolman (police officer). I've been having trouble managing my time, since I've been working out pretty hard to make sure I pass the test. So when I get home at night, I'm pretty exhausted. The only time I've been making real progress is on my days off (and thank God I have 3 of them!). Once I get this agaility test out of the way, I'll have a few interviews, but those won't eat up my time and energy like working out does. And, if I get promoted, I'll have more money and time off to play with, which will hopefully mean more progress on the house (and a happier, more fulfilled me) :)


Pipe dreams

So much for the great, wonderful, free clawfoot tub... Shayne hopped inside it to make sure he'd like it and found that it's too short for him. WAY too short. It would have been comical if it hadn't been so depressing. I've sort of come to grips with not being able to use it in the upstairs bathroom, but I'm still hoping we can find a use for it in the downstairs bathroom. Currently there's not enough room in there to turn around, let alone add a tub, but we'll see. If we do add on to the back porch, we should be able to bring the tub into the bathroom. If nothing else, maybe I can get one of those do-it-yourself refinishing kits (or have it done professionally) and resell the tub to someone who will love and cherish it. *sigh*

Also today in the quest for a longer clawfoot tub, I called a tub refinisher in South Bend. The company I contacted had several tubs, but none longer than 5'. Poo. They did tell me that refinishing a tub with porcelain enamel (as opposed to polyurethane or some other similar synthetic) would cost me $650. More expensive than the synthetic stuff, but I'd prefer the original materials to something I can't pronounce. He also took my name and number and said he'd call if he came across a long tub.



In spite of my mutinous thoughts earlier this month about hating the house and being sick of working on it, I've fallen in love with it all over again. I've already posted our plans for the living room color scheme, but a few more great ideas have surfaced this week and, combined with the great weather, have inspired me to get my butt in gear. Last night, I was soaking in our pathetic bathtub, when I came across this picture in Pottery Barn Bedrooms: I couldn't tell you why, but it immediately brought to mind our little front bedroom. With dimensions of 7'2 by 10'4", it's really not practical to use it as a true bedroom. No bed larger than a twin will fit, so it wouldn't even really suffice as a guest room. I can just imagine having a couple stay the night... "Oh, you guys want to sleep together?? The futon in the basement is absoloutely marvelous!" I can't claim to be a wonderful hostess, but I hate putting people on a futon in our family room. Especially since it's in our basement. But if I use the little bedroom as an office, that will leave the back bedroom (currently the office/trash heap) free to use as a guest room.

The plan for the front bedroom is to make a built-in bed (twin) that incorporates bookshelves and storage. This way, we can still use it as a guest room if necessary, but its primary function will be my office/library/retreat. Right now, we can't fit more than the twin bed and an ironing board in there, but building the bed into the short wall will free up lots of floor space.

So after jumping out of the bath and frantically measuring the front bedroom, I noticed that there seemed to be lots of dust kittens under the bed. this led to removing all of thefurniture in that room and our bedroom and mopping the floor. Keep in mind that the bath was supposed to be in preparation for bed, but by the time I finished planning, measuring, rearranging furniture, and mopping, it was about 3 am. But the floor looks nice!

This morning, I took all the woodwork outside and worked on stripping it in front of the garage. It seemed like a waste of a great day to stay inside, and even though the garden needs work, the molding is my priority right now. I really think that we could be done with the living room in about a month, and, after being inspired by that picture, I'm anxious to get it done as soon as possible.

Another inspiration is the built-in cupboard we bought this week. It's taken up residence in our garage for now, but it'll be moving to the dining room as soon as there's space. We're going to drywall around it and use it to store dishes and linens.

The other item on our agenda this weekend was getting a bathtub. Remember the tub I cleaned up from our rental house about 8 months ago?? When we moved, we were dumb enough to leave it behind. I've been kicking myself ever since, in spite of some good deals I found on ebay. A few weeks ago, I checked the listings at Realtor.com, and found that our old rental was still for sale. It's been on the market for about 18 months now, so I was pretty surprised. Shayne called the landlord and found that the tub was still in the backyard. Needless to say, we went back and got it. We crammed it in the back of my CR-V, then brought it into the backyard for a cleaning. It's no worse for having spent a winter outdoors (not the first one!), and I'm ecstatic. :) Our garage is starting to look a bit like a salvage yard, but it's exciting to actually be aquiring things that will fit into our home.I'm sure everyone will think I'm crazy, but I had to jump in and see how it fit. 12" to the overflow, and MUCH better than our current fiberglass imposter. I can't wait!

Living room color scheme

This is what we decided on for the living room paint:
Our woodwork will be a little less brown, and the yellow-cream at the top might be a little lighter, but at least we've made a decision! We're thinking either brown or cream-colored couch, possibly leather or suede. Too bad the Tax Man took all of our money...


There goes the neighborhood...

Even though Lydick would never qualify for historic neighborhood status, there are lots of nice early 20th century homes here. Many are a little run down, but what can you expect from a town that fell off the map 30 years ago? The advantage to this is that many of the homes here have only had one or two owners, and nobpdy's been ambitious enough to remodel them in strange and awkward ways. Well, except for these folks... This house used to be a nice little bungalow (the part in the center with the dormer). Now, it is a hulking monstrosity with a Greek temple attached to the front. Why bother doing this to your house? Why not just build a new one instead of ruining what you have?

Thankfully, this is the only truly remuddled house in Lydick. I'm sure others have been victims of "updating" on the interior, and vinyl siding is still the exterior of choice, but none even come close to this one. And I thought the PPO's from my house had bad taste!!


Shopping for built-ins

Shayne and I went back to the antique store this morning and bought the built-in corner cabinet I mentioned a few days ago. It was a steal at only $120, and we're going to dress it up a little with a leaded-glass window and new door knobs. Shayne didn't think it would fit in the CR-V, so we're going to wait to pick it up until later this week when we can borrow a truck. I'll post pictures when it's made it safely home.

I really don't have anything else of interest to write about tonight... Paint stripping is on hold until we buy a respirator , since I would like to start stripping using the heat gun instead of Citristrip (lead fumes are bad!). Everything else is on hold until we get the last bit of unremovable woodwork stripped; once that's done, though, we'll paint the living room. Afer that, all we have to do is refinish the floors, then strip and refinish the remaining woodwork as time permits. even if we do the woodwork a little bit at a time, it will be good to have the floors done so we can put our furniture back in the living room. We're definitely on the home stretch now...


The Not-So-Original Kitchen Cabinets, Part II

It turns out that our not-so-original kitchen cabinets might actually be the original kitchen cabinets. Go figure. This is what we thought in the beginnning, but after reading Bungalow Kitchens, it didn't seem like they fit the profile. Our cabinets don't have recessed-panel, flush-mount doors or, latches, or mortise hinges. It is my understanding that our kitchen, if it was original, should have looked something like this photo from Rejuvenation:

Instead of that type of cabinet, our have beveled-edge drawers and doors with hinges that are mounted to the cabinet face. Kristen at oldhousewebs.com had cabinets in her 1937 home that look exactly like ours:

I don't know that I'll ever know for sure, but I'd like to think that those cabinets just might be original. Until it's been proven otherwise, I'll operate under that assumption and plan on returning the cabinets to their home in the kitchen.


More living room progress

I didn't accomplish as much today as yesterday, but I still made progress. The stairway is about 75% stripped. I still have half of 6 stairs with padding and carpet adhesive, but the other 10 are down to bare wood and ready for sanding. The railing is coming along a bit more slowly; whether I use the heat gun or Citristrip, the paint is difficult to remove. The top layer is easy enough, and I think it's latex. the layer underneath is brown, and instead of pulling away from the wood, it just melts and smears. As long as I go slowly with the scraper, it comes off pretty cleanly, but it's tedious. After this picture was taken, I stripped about 4 more spindles.

And the picture I promised yesterday of the finished front window...
The house sale I went to wasn't anything worth writing about. They did have a beautiful bathroom with original square mosaic tiles, but it wasn't for sale... I also didn't have my camera, so there's no eye candy. It did put me in the mood for antiquing, though, so I stopped by an antique mall during my errand running. They had a nice pine built-in (at least, it used to be a built-in before it was ripped out) that I'm thinking of buying for the dining room. It's very simple, but I think it would be appropriate for the character of the house. I took a picture using my cell phone, and it didn't turn out very well, but here it is anyways.

It appears to have its original finish, which is in excellent shape. The bottom section is just one big cupboard with a single shelf. The top part should have a glass window, but it's missing. That actually suits my purposes just fine, since I have a wonderful mom who can make a leaded glass window for it. I mentioned it to Shayne, and we'll probably go look at it again tomorrow.


Living Room Progress: Stripping Stairs and Woodwork

For the first time in what feels like forever, I made some progress on the living room. This morning (well, okay, afternoon for you normal people on 1st shift) I glopped Citristrip on the remaining stairs to remove the paint, padding, and adhesive. Then, I started in on the windows with the heat gun. I made some good progress before my hand started to cramp from holding the scraper too tightly and too long. I don't have a good before or after picture, but here's an in-the-middle picture. After the picture was taken, I finished stripping the remaining trim. I'll save the windows for another day, since I can't use the heat gun that close to the glass, and it was too chilly to take them out to use a chemical stripper. I'm currently working on the baseboards, but taking a break due to more hand cramps... The wood is in excellent shape and, because it has the original finish under the paint, it's really easy to strip. Tomorrow, when it's light out, I'll take more pictures.

Tomorrow, I'll be heading to a indoor yard sale at a Craftsman home in Mishawaka. Mom and I went there on a Christmas house tour several years ago, and I guess they're now selling everything. I don't remember what kind of furnishings they had, since at the time I wasn't as interested in furnishings, but I remember everything being nice. Maybe I'll find a good deal on some Craftsman living room furnishings...

The Carpeted Kitchen, Part II

So I got nosy today and decided to see what was under the carpet in the kitchen. I know the old wood floor is there, since I can see it form the basement, but I wasn't sure if I would find a subfloor also. If there wasn't a subfloor, I was hoping to get a look at the pine to see what kind of shape it's in. I can't see any water damage from the basement, but you never know.

The easiest access point seemed to be where the laminate floor in the dining room met the carpet in the kitchen. There is a strip of moulding screwed down between the two rooms, and it was fairly easy to unscrew and take a peek. This way, I could satisfy my curiosity about two rooms at once. The dining room was just what I expected. Laminate floor over a foam cushion over the yellow pine. It shouldn't be all that difficult to remove, when the time comes.

As for the kitchen floor... Well, I should have expected this, too. The kitchen has several layers of flooring. Let's start at the bottom. We have the original pine floor (condition: unknown), covered by a fiberboard subfloor. The subfloor is about 1/8" thick. Over that, there is a layer of foam padding. On top of the padding is some yellow and brown tiger-striped carpet from the ''70s. It reminds me of a sofa that my Aunt Virginia used to have... The striped carpet was covered by some kind of cement or adhesive. The adhesive is about 1/16" thick and kind of crumbly. On top of that, we have another thin layer of padding and the current carpet.

I know I should have expected this, based on the accretions in the rest of the house, but it still amazes me how many layers of crap are over the original materials. I wish I could go back to the previous previous owner (the PO's did warn us that he had done some strange stuff) and ask him why he did what he did. Or better yet, keep him from doing anything half-assed to the house. The PPO is the one who put paneling over everything, added ceiling tiles, removed necessary ducts, added walls made of paneling, replaced the original windows (thankfully the replacements were wood too), and painted the woodwork. He's probably responsible for the vinyl or plastic brick on the front of the house, too...


Old House Blues

I've been so busy at work lately that when I come home, I don't even feel like working on the house. I just hole up in the ugly office, stare at the hideous wallpaper, and wish I had enough money to pay someone to strip the woodwork, refinish the floors, and remodel my bathroom. Especially the bathroom. I desperately miss taking a real bath. Getting into a plastic tub with a molded pebble bottom and sitting in 8" of water just doesn't cut it. The water barely even covers my legs, for heaven's sake. I'd be better off setting up a kiddie pool in the backyard.

Today, for the first time since we moved in, I hate the house. I hate the fact that it eats up all my spare time and most of my thoughts. I hate that work just doesn't go as fast as I want or need it to go. I wish we didn't have to spend our time re-doing the previous PO's half-assed remodeling. I'm sick of people looking at me like I'm insane when I tell them I'm not ripping out my plaster to put up drywall, I'm stripping and refinishing all the woodwork instead of buying new, and I'm tearing out our Pergo floor in favor of the yellow pine underneath. Why, for so many people, is "old" synonomous with "bad"? I know that what we're doing is worthwhile, that someday our house will be beautiful, but I wish it didn't look so ugly to me today.