Early Spring 2019

April 28, 2019

With just two more weeks of school left I'm incredibly itchy to get going on things here at 173.  I look around and see so many things to do, but with papers due all the time, there's simply no sense in getting started on anything yet.  But there were a couple yard things to do today so I took a few minutes to photograph a couple things in bloom.

First was the forsythia.  It's funny - every year no matter what date Easter is, the forsythia blooms either right before or on Easter day!  This year the forsythia came into full bloom just a couple days before - always a beautiful and welcome sight!

And of course it's fun to watch the Cleveland Pear Tree that was planted back in 2013 continue to grow.  As a reminder, here is how I brought that tree home:

And here it is, barely more than a twig back then:

Now, here in the spring of '19:

Spring is my favorite time of the year for the Cleveland Pear.  In the summer it's a nice green tree, in the fall the leaves stay on entirely too long but change colors just before dropping, and in the winter it's just another bare tree, unless there's some snow on it:

But for a few weeks every spring, the tree is stunning with little white flowers all over it!

And then there's the flowers that start popping up all over the yard:

I wish I could remember their names!

This one I know, at least I think - hyacinths!

Along the foundation...

And beneath the lilacs!

That's about it right now..2 more weeks and I can started on some much-needed projects.  Stay tuned!!

The Original House Plans - 1949

April 19, 2019

Clearly I don't have any projects happening here at House 173 right now.  I have three more weeks of class then I can get moving on this summer's projects.  The two I really have my eye on are getting a few more windows re-finished, and there are a few fence panels that need replacing around the back yard.  I'm itching to get going!  In the meantime, I thought I'd get a good start on Nephew's Das Beisler Haus page, starting with the Inaugural Post last night, and a neat little post tonight.  

Way back in 2012 I posted about what some of the public records revealed about House 173, and tonight I have some pretty cool documents about Das Beisler Haus!  Nephew sent some shots of the original house plans from 1949, exciting stuff for nerds like me!

I love the old German font, and would you look at the handwriting!  Hey, if anyone out there knows anything about Georg Michael Mohr from Leutershasen, please let me know.  Herr Mohr was a maurermeister, in English - a master bricklayer.  It's interesting that in Europe there seems to still be a strong guild system, of which I have little understanding.  What I think I do understand though is that the system trains all kinds of skills, jobs and trades (encompassing some 150 professions according to Forbes magazine) in a very organized way, from apprentice to master.  Anyway, Herr Mohr being a brick mason makes sense considering Das Beisler Haus is made of cinder block!

There's a couple interesting things about this page.  First is the large circle.  Let me blow that up a little:

Not sure what's happening there but I think this was the porch roof, and if you look where I inserted the arrow, it almost looks like there was a planned balcony.  But then I see where it looks like someone extended the main roof down and it seems there was some scribbling, so I wonder if there was an on-the-spot change.  I don't see evidence of this kind of porch, but then again the house was built in '49.

Oh wait!  Looking closer at the picture I see where the roof-line slopes down.  Maybe I don't have a clear orientation of the house, perhaps we're looking at the back of the house right here?  I'll reach out to Nephew and see if we can get more pictures.  

The other thing in that previous picture was the drawing of the person.  Maybe that was to add a little scale to the draft, or maybe it's just a scribble and my mind is making stuff up!  I blew it up and darkened it a bit - opinions?  Moving on...

I don't kow anything about reading blueprints (they're not blue...probably called something else in Germany!), but I noticed the cellar doesn't run the whole side-length of the house.  Makes me wonder why?  Was it a cost-saving measure?  Did the house sit on a huge rock making it impossible to dig in that area like in Mr. Blandings Builds his Dreamhouse?  Also, I did the math and 0.40 meters between the rafters is nearly 16 inches.  I'm always fascinated when there's that kind of consistency even on different continents.  Is 16 inches on center some kind of architectural/physics magic number, or did this spacing just migrate with the craftsmen - a kind of carpentry diaspora if you will.

So, there you have it - the original 1949 house plans for Das Beisler Haus.  It inspires me to track down the original plans for House 173!  And that completes the introduction to Das Beisler Haus, next we'll have to choose which project to showcase first!

House 173 Welcomes Das Beisler Haus

April 17, 2019

So, this is a great honor!  Much like my parents at 812-The Home, our nephew (whom we will continue to call nephew) in Germany has given permission to post some of his house projects right here on House 173 and will have its own Das Beisler Haus page for archived posts!  I've already seen a few of his projects through pictures on WhatsApp and I gotta tell ya - he does incredible work!  

That picture is from some time in the late '90s I think, when we did the first build on the front stoop.  Nephew is the kid leaning - the one with his hat on backwards...generational thing I guess.  His father is in orange and that's yours truly wearing his hat in the proper fashion!  Anyway, Nephew and his wife (and I didn't know about the baby - I gotta ask!) have this great house in Bavaria...

And just wait 'til you see the yard...why wait?

I know - right?!  That look more like one of our parks near House 173!  I see that and all I can think of is a riding mower with headlights and a cup holder! So here's a little history of the house in Nephew's own words:
Before the year 1949, the yard where our house is built on was a big garden with a lot of fruit trees like apples,cherries... Then Anton Reichel a man from the small village Neunkirchen decided to build a house for his daughter in this garden and did this as well. First they only built the house in 1949. In the late 1970s they renovated the roof truss and raised it higher to get more room in the upper floor. In 1980 they built a double garage which includes a room for things for the garden like shovels... in an extension on the west side. So the whole garage would be seen as two and a half one. The women who the house was built for lives in it and got married. Her husband also lived in the house until he died early, at the age of 47 (he did not die here in the house). After that, the woman sold the house and moved to an apartment in Ansbach where she is still living. 
The couple who bought the house from this woman lived in the house for six years 'til they were divorced. That was the reason the house was sold again and became my house, that was six years ago in 2013. I renovated it for a half year before I moved in. I changed the whole floor, painted the walls and put some wallpaper on it. I renovated the whole bathroom and upgraded the kitchen with a new counter-top kitchen. Then I lived four years alone in the house 'til 2017 when my wife moved in. Since then, we are living together here. Meanwhile we renovated the kitchen completely and we also styled a room for the Baby. I am/we are doing 90 % of the work by myself and sometimes with great help from our families (when needed). Only for less special work we have to pay for craftsman. The house is built out of stone, but not bricks in German they are called "Hohlblocksteine". At the Moment we have a room of living of 134 qm. After the extension it would be 204 qm.
First let me say this - Nephew was a little worried about his English but I have to say, and please join me in applause, Nephew does great with it!  Next, "qm" stands for quadratmeter, which in English is square meters.  So I'll do the math because here in the U.S. I think we usually refer to square feet.  Who am I kidding?  I'm not doing the math - I just let Google do it!

1,442 square feet, then after the addition is built, it will be...

In comparison, House 173 is officially about 1,200 square feet, but that doesn't count the third floor or the basement that has the laundry room and workshop, so 173 lives closer to 2,300 to 2,400 square feet in my estimation.

The other thing I wanted to point out was that Das Beisler Haus is made of "Hohlblocksteine", which most of us here will know as cinder block.  Someone once told me "Americans build their wood houses to last 100 years, the Germans build theirs to last 1,000."  I lived in Germany for a few years and I think that's probably true!

I LOVE that yard!  Okay, so that's our introduction to Das Beisler Haus!  I already have enough material to post a couple of Nephew's projects so - more to come!

Legacy Project: Shoe Rack for the Back Porch

April 13, 2019

Way back in 2011 (it's painful to think that was 8 years ago already), just after the back porch remodel, I built an umbrella stand for the back porch.  After struggling with the design, it ended up turning out okay -

As a matter-of-fact the umbrella post has consistently been the most viewed post here at House 173, and that's always been a head-scratcher for me!

But there ya have it.  Probably within a week or two of finishing the umbrella stand, I was looking around the shop and noticed a stack of old hardwood bed slats that had been laying around for a couple years waiting for inspiration.  Somehow, when I saw those boards I immediately knew what I wanted to do and where it would go.  This was another one of those projects I didn't draw plans for, but I just measured the space on the back porch where I wanted it and set to work.

That picture was about the middle of the remodel, but the space in the lower right next to the outside door is where I pictured the rack going, and here it is:

It wasn't a difficult build, but I want to show a couple happenstance features.  First, in the picture below you can see that the old bed slats were chamfered.

Yea yeah yeah, I know the rack is a bit dirty, but the back porch serves as the mud room so - dirt happens!  Anyway, I made it wide enough for two pairs of shoes on each shelf.  That's six pair - if we needed more space, I figured we should just be putting some shoes away!  It's never been a problem so...no problem!  You can also see that a large bag is clipped to the one side of the rack, that's where returnable bottles are kept 'til return time.  Not particularly glamorous, but it's functional! 

I also antiqued the rack a little bit.  And that's the shoe-horn that hangs from the side of the rack.

Here's one angle of the rack in its habitat.  In the winter we put a drip tray inderneath for obvious reasons!

And here's the full-frontal!

And a final shot.  The total cost of the shoe rack was $0!  Even the paint was leftover from some other project that even pre-dated the umbrella stand!

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