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old gm building
Bartleby the Scrivener vegan27
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tour, fencing and a funeral
Last week was pretty nuts with the techno festival, construction, and Sarah moving in, and the pace did not let up this weekend.

On Friday I found out that my across-the-street neighbor Shirley had died on Tuesday the 27th, the same day Sarah moved in. Shirley was a long time resident of the neighborhood, having moved into that home in 1970, I believe. Her advocacy for the poor made her fear gentrification so much in those days that she clashed with architects and preservationists who moved into the area. She obviously mellowed out by the time I met her. When my mom, younger brother and I started to work on the Bumble Bee House in 2008, Shirley called out across the street to us to come over for coffee and cake when we wanted a break. We dusted off our clothes the best we could and she welcomed us into her home. She kept forgetting my mom and brother's names, so she would jokingly call us "Peter, Paul and Mary". When Joe moved into the house, she shouted out to him, "Young blood! That's what we need!" She didn't seem to have any fears or inhibitions. At a community meeting, she said to the owner of the junkyard next to me that wasn't then properly screened, "I've come here to unsheathe my sword, but don't worry, I'm not going to chop your head off! But I do need to wave it in the air a little!"

Sarah and I attended the funeral at St. Peter's Episcopal Church on Trumbull on Saturday. I had never attended an Episcopal service before, and I was surprised how semi-Catholic it was. The services were lovely and very well attended--a very moving tribute any way you look at it.

* * * * *

After the excavation of the concrete footings from the old "courtyard" next to my house, I was ready to install a fence--that is, have my friend Don install it. I guess I could have done it myself, but just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should. Don has the knowledge, tools and experience to make sure the fence is straight, plumb, and solid, plus he's always looking for weekend jobs.

Don and his friend Rick installed most of the posts on Saturday, and mostly finished the job on Sunday. I somehow effed up the math and was short by half a fence panel, so Sarah and I went to Lowe's on Saturday evening to get one more. Don will use it to make the back gate today or tomorrow.

The yard already feels cozy even though it's only enclosed by a short picket fence. Because I'm a new-urbanist dilettante, I know that you don't need a six-foot high privacy fence to create that effect. This is all you need to feel less out in the open, and to mark the transition between public and private space without alienating neighbors or passers-by.

I kept the fence in line with the house even though Don said he would have gone to the sidewalk. "Here's what I would do if I was you," he said, holding a fence panel right at the edge of the concrete. "I would put my fence right here and if anybody from the city came up to me I would tell that city council to go fuck themselves!"

The next step is to bury UF-B cable 12 inches underground for the outlet that will supply power to my pond's fountain. Then the fence will be stained to match the house's dark-blue/grey trim.

* * * * *

The Corktown home tour was Sunday, which of course was the most hectic activity of all. Sarah very awesomely helped me out a lot, assisting with putting out the historical lawn signs early in the morning, attending the ticket sales tables during the tour, and picking up the signs in the evening.

We had a chance to attend the tour in the afternoon and see some really cool places. My favorite was Lisa R.'s and Scott B.'s loft in what was originally a Westinghouse Electrical Company warehouse and service center. We were very fortunate to have some new homes on the tour. Reaching out to home owners and getting them to put their houses on the tour is our biggest challenge every year.

I met up with a former neighbor of mine who used to live close to my old house on Wabash, and showed me a bunch of old photos she dug up from inside and outside of her old house. A woman whose name I didn't get donated color slides of Corktown houses taken 22 years ago, and another person left us two old photos from 17th and Ash Streets from the late 1800s. I will be putting these online some time this week.

I deposited the cash and checks this morning, and Blake is handling the PayPal/credit cards deposits. We have some sorting out to do, but our initial count last night was 655 paying attendees on the tour. Thanks to everyone else who helped out!