Down Town Rehabbing

May 29, 2007


We are rehabbers. My Dad taught us about real estate and helped me buy my first property… a triplex at auction purchased for $13,000. We rehabbed it, rented it, my mom help manage it and we later sold it for $30,000.

Liza’s favorite rehab was an old victorian in a somewhat questionable neighborhood that was our residence for 18 months. That turn-of-the-century, friendly spirit inhabited, cottage netted us enough profit to make our big relocation to Key West where even in the late 80’s it was difficult to find any kind of little cottage in the historic district for less than $100,000. But after 2 years of looking, we found one and purchased it for $95,000. Three thousand of our own money and a second of $17,000 held by the desparate sellers. Within two years we were able to refinance at better rates and pay off the seller. Fifteen years later we sold this property for over 6 times what we paid for it.  Dad, you were right. The harder you work the luckier you get!

Because property had gotten so expensive in Key West, we went on the week-ends to Ft. Lauderdale (where we have dear friends) and purchased another triplex, fixed it up, rented it, and sold it less than 2 years later for a significant profit. I love real estate. 

Now we are back to my hometown. For several years we have been watching our downtown area deteriorate as the mall, strip shopping centers and the suburbs developed. But as many small towns across America, our little town’s city center is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. The wonderful old historic buildings are catching the eye of young investors, the train station is being renovated, local musicians play in open air gathering spots and new shops are opening.

When we decided to come back to East Tennessee (at least part-time), we decided we wanted to be a part of the refurbishing of our downtown. So we purchased the commercial building pictured above. It was built in 1905. Local historians report that it was first utilized as doctors offices.

In the fifties, a group of attorney’s occupied the upper floor while various retail businesses occupied the two small storefronts downstairs. When we first saw the upstairs with the huge skylights, and a room with 60 bookshelves built-in (law library) we knew we had found a new project and home. 

In the eighties, the upstairs was rented by a local radio station. Evidence of this still exists as one bedroom door is labled “studio A, Control room”. We purchased this building last year and have renovated the building with new heating/cooling systems, new wiring, new wood floors, new paint, and new plumbing. We made “studio B, Production” into a roomy and modern kitchen.

We like our downtown loft even with the 25 step walk-up and the parking challenges. We miss a yard and a garage, but are proud of our work and our contribution to preserving something historic and worthy. With the interior almost complete we are now working on the exterior… well, actually, Dave the painter guy is. In Liza’s photo above, Dave is pressure washing in preparation for paint.

Love the idea of taking something old or somewhat forgotten and giving it new life cycle. Our building will be starting over. Starting over as our new home in the city.

Warm wishes.

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RV Dreaming

May 24, 2007



The good folks at GoRVing.com have some pretty compelling arguments for the road trip Liza and I are contemplating:

“What will you discover when you go RVing? That boredom can’t find you if it doesn’t know where to look. (That sounds GOOD!)

There’s taking a trip from Point A to Point B. And then there’s RVing. Recreation vehicles give you more control,convenience and comfort than other forms of travel. With an RV, you can hit the road more often for longer periods, for less money.

The reasons you go RVing are the same reasons you take any vacation. To get a break from the daily routine. To be with family and friends. To rest. To relax. To see new places. To try new things.

But the difference between RVing and other types of vacations is that RVing allows you to truly achieve all those goals – and more.

With RVing, there are no flights to catch. No security hassles. No long lines or lost luggage. No hauling heavy bags in or out of costly hotel rooms. No expensive, unhealthy food. No strange bedrooms, bathrooms or kitchens.” (This part is most interesting to Liza, since she tends to be a bit of a germaphobe.)

According to a study released by the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, the U.S. ownership of recreation vehicles (RVs) has reached record levels in the past couple of years. One in every 12 vehicle owning households in the U.S. owns an RV (amazing!), representing approximately 8 million RV households, a growth of a stunning 58% since 1980.

RV demographics include:
1. Typically RVers travel 4500 miles annually on excursions that total 28 to 35 days annually.
2. Americans in the age group of 35-to-54 year are keener on owning an RV of their own.
3. The typical RV owner is age 49, married, owns a home and has an annual household income of $68,000.”

So we are wondering if we will fit in with these adventure loving pavement travelers? Or if that matters.  We wonder if our summer should involve the purchase of an RV? Or with that number of RVs on the roads, maybe a used one? Wondering too about cost of fuel, security… how will I blog?

HOW WILL I BLOG!  Hmm. How do I get hi speed access in a mobile RV? I feel a new technology learning curve approaching.  This BBB (boomer baby blogger) might have to gear up  for starting over with an RV and a road trip.  Maybe.

Or maybe I’m just RV dreaming!

Best wishes.

(Photo thanks to Accent Alaska and The Voice of Eye.)


Hometown Graduation

May 22, 2007



The Stone Castle has played host to the Tennessee High Vikings for over 70 years. With some of my own dear granddad’s labor, the atheletes there still, today, have a terrific stadium, a one-of-a-kind historic sports palace known as the Stone Castle.

Constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the New Deal, the Stone Castle is currently still in use. This stadium is a reminder of the post-World War II era, another time when high school football received top billing around the state.

Situated on the campus of Tennessee High School in Bristol, the Stone Castle Stadium opened on October 8, 1936. First known as the Bristol Municipal Stadium, the Stone Castle is constructed of coarse rubble limestone from another WPA project at nearby Beaver Creek, the stadium seats approximately 6,000 and features most of the original Medieval Gothic details. Its unique corner towers, arched entries, and crenellated walls clearly make the Stone Castle the most architecturally significant stadium in Tennessee.

Seeing the Stone Castle again makes me remember my own years of high school and MY senior year. Our football team was state champ that year, I ironed my hair to make it straight and my favorite music was soul plus Neil and Eric, Bette and Elton. (Still is.) It was an exciting time. 

My grandad help build it, my brother was a starting football player within it’s stone walls, and now my keeper nephew just graduated. MVP. Soccer. Honor Society. Good Person.

Only nephew, class 2007, is product of his own hard work plus effective and loving parents, caring grandparents, hardworking great grands, and so far back that records are scarce being near the beginning of our very country.  So many generations choosing these very hills and valleys for their home.

So much of which to be proud. Like being hugged by your roots. And now only nephew will be starting over. Starting over as a graduate from a castle in Tennessee where the spirits of generations before him will forever be his support.







PS. Nephew’s graduation presents included (among others) the newest Blackberry and a hand made quilt from his grandmother (my mom). Appropriate mixture of the old and the new technology!

Warm wishes until next post!


Rebel Barn, Pride or Hate?

May 15, 2007


My Liza came home with this disturbing photo today.  What is this rebel flag suppose to be saying to us?  Is it “southern pride” or is it “state’s rights” or is it some kind of backward racial comment made by someone clearly still residing in another time?

As a white female boomer born in the south, I am very proud of most things southern. Love my Mama and my family and my southern musical heritage. Love Tennessee Pride sausage gravy and homemade biscuits almost as much as a nice thick authentic southern accent. I call everyone “Y’all”. I love the climate: the four seasons of the Applalachian mountains, the tropical flavor of South Florida, the historical architecture of Savannah and the diversity of New Orleans and Atlanta. And I like the weather too.

I decided a long time ago that I would travel everywhere, but would not reside west of the Mississippi River nor north of Virginia. I am a southern girl. This doesn’t mean I am proud of every page of my southern history book.

Having said that, I am also a product of the sixties. I beleived Mr. King. Racial bigotry is the same to me as any other hate based thinking involving discrimination. Whether against women, gays, minority races, or religious/secular groups, it is all the same. I have always beleived that a lack of mutal respect for other humans and/or a lack of education must be behind this kind of narrow (if you are not like me then you must be wrong) thinking.

I am a product of Key West’s ONE HUMAN FAMILY philosophy.

So what does this rebel flag emblem suppose to mean to me? Or should it exist at all?


10 Things To Do Without Technology

May 9, 2007


Know anyone that still uses one of these?

My Liza came home with this shot in her camera and we both giggled at this old technology.  What did we ever do before cell phones, ipods, computers, video games, and the like?  Here is a list of 10 things we could still do without any of our modern technological advances:

1. Visit a library for the aroma of knowledge and read a book.

2. Stroll through a park or garden. Or plant your own garden.

3. Take a bubble bath, complete with candles and music. (Transitor radio)

4. Visit that friend you know needs you. Just listen.

5. Study the stars on a cloudless night.

6. Kiss someone. Pass out hugs.

7. Play with your pet. Or your guitar. OK just sing!

8. Be still. Meditate. Nap.

9. Write a letter. (Remember, with pen and paper?)

10. Count your blessings.

Just a little reminder of simpler times. What else would you add to my list of technology exempt activities?

Warm wishes. anitamorrell.wordpress.com


Great Radio = Helen Leight

May 5, 2007

Mid-day Host Helen LeichtThis is Helen, my Liza’s famous DJ cousin from Philadelphia. Check her out at xpn.org

Each weekday at 1pm, mid-day host Helen Leicht puts the spotlight on one song from an up and coming local artist. Philly Local picks have included Amos Lee, Mutlu, Melody Gardot, Jim Boggia, Hoots & Hellmouth, Phil Roy, Sharon Little, Scot Sax, The Swimmers, John Flynn, the A Sides, Hail Social, Dan May, The Brakes, and many more!

Tune in to Philly Local every Tuesday Night at 9pm when Helen presents a full hour of Philly Local music. Tune in to hear a variety of of important music from the Philadelphia area.

Having been in the biz for nearly 30 years, Helen knows EVERYTHING about the Beatles and rock music. We love you Helen. Adding you permanently to our blogroll! Check her out Monday thru Friday 10am to 2pm and Tuesday evenings from 9-10pm.

Helen Leicht in the on-air booth


crash

May 4, 2007



It may not be easy for the owner of this crash to see the beauty in it, but Liza did.

Likewise it is difficult for us humans to understand why bad things happen to good people. Like my (high school senior) nephew’s good bud who landed the double leg fracture in one of the last soccer games of his high school experience. Tough to understand.

Or why babies die.

And old people don’t and sometimes suffer and linger.

And war heros (although I am not pro-war ever… I certainly am pro-hero and don’t understand how they can die with such brave and honorable motives).

How can a pianist loose a finger, or a singer loose her voice. How can an artist loose his sight or surgeon loose his nerve.

It is hard to find gratitude in these things. It makes me feel very human in the not understanding. Very helplessly human.

But Liza gets it. She is not ruling out any possible source for beauty and joy. She knows it is not about asking why, but about just going on anyway. Each time STARTING OVER after the CRASH with greater wisdom in this constant search for joy we call life.