restoman: (Winter house)
Yesterday was miserably cold, with the temperature never getting above zero, but this morning was brutally cold. The temperature at Syracuse's airport was 20 degrees below zero (-28 C), and that wasn't taking the wind chill effect into account. In spite of the cold, I drove to a stamp show. I didn't stay long. Attendance at the show was sparse. Many people, both buyers and dealers stayed home because of the bitter cold.

The pipes froze in 3 of the apartments that I rent out. John, Mark and I spent some time trying to thaw out pipes with a heat gun, with only mixed success. Hopefully, tomorrow's predicted warmer weather will help thaw the pipes that we couldn't.

The clear air and bright sun made for good picture taking, but I didn't want to be outside any longer than necessary.

This is the house across the street from mine. We restored it 2 years ago.

This house is also across the street from mine. It was built in 1870 and has wonderful carved details on the front doors.

Josh pets Lily, as she takes a momentary break from her game of "Bathmat".

restoman: (Adam&Hammer)
My friend, Chris, aka: [ profile] stormdog has been coming over every day this past week to take Lily for walks. Lily loves going for walks and loves Chris too. On Saturday, John's dog, Zoey, was visiting Lily. The 2 of them had a great time running around my fenced back yard. Chris came over and played with them both, then took both on a walk. Here they all are by my back porch:

10 more pictures )
restoman: (Glenn)

My street as it looked this afternoon. My house is on the left.

Our mild Winter is over and the weather has become oppressive and dreary. Over the past 2 days we have had about 15 inches of snow. Working on the 2-family house has become difficult. Even though we are working inside, using heaters, the temperature stays below freezing all day long. My crew spends a lot of their time huddled around the propane heater or one of the 2 electric heaters we are using.

Besides the oppressive cold and endless gray days, the big thing that has gotten me down is that some of my closest friends are unraveling from within and there seems to be nothing I can do to help them. One close friend has spent the past 5 weeks in the psychiatric unit of a hospital. Another close friend is spiraling downward on drugs ~mostly cocaine, and a third close friend is addicted to heroine. These are some of the primary members of my emotional-support team (it is a full time job involving many people ~It's not easy being Restoman).

I need a break from this bleak winter! I hope spring gets here soon!
restoman: (Little Jimmy)
This afternoon, I was standing on my porch talking to Wes, when there was a low rumble that lasted half a minute. I said "Was that thunder?" Wes said, "Maybe it was a train derailing." It didn't really sound or feel like either, but then Wes remembered that the grandstand at the Fairgrounds (about 3 miles away) was being demolished today. I wish I had known about it in advance! Anyway, here's the footage:

In the first clip, the blonde-haired woman is the County Executive, Joanie Mahoney. You can see Governor Cuomo on the left.


Dec. 24th, 2015 02:21 pm
restoman: (Christmas tree)
I have been very busy working with my crew, trying to get as much done as possible on the 2 buildings we are restoring before winter really hits. The freakishly warm weather has been a big help. We have had incredibly warm weather in Syracuse this December, no snow to speak of, and the temperature on Christmas Eve is 69 degrees (20 C. for you metric folks). There are Dandelions blooming in the lawn!

Dandelions are blooming! ...on Christmas Eve!!!

Last night, just before midnight, I let Lily out into the back yard one last time. She started barking furiously at something in the corner of the yard. Then I heard her yelp and get very quiet. I took 2 marshmallows and the camera and went outside in a tee shirt and pajamas to see what was going on. Lily had cornered a possum up against the fence and looked like she was getting ready to kill it. She refused to come inside or to get away from the possum. I finally lured her away with a marshmallow, grabbed her collar, and brought her into the house. Both Lily and the possum seem to be fine after their encounter

Note the sharp teeth on that possum. I think it may have bitten Lily, but I couldn't find any injuries on her. Maybe the yelp I heard was just from fear and not pain.

Anyway, I'd like to wish all my Live Journal Friends a gay old time this Christmas!

*Hugs*, Glenn
restoman: (peeking through blinds)
I borrowed this from a Facebook friend.

An elderly Florida lady did her shopping and, upon returning to her car, found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle.

She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at the top of her lungs, “I have a gun, and I know how to use it! Get out of the car!”. The four men didn't wait for a second threat. They got out and ran like mad.

The lady, somewhat shaken, then proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and got into the driver’s seat. She was so shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition.

She tried and tried, and then she realized why. It was for the same reason she had wondered why there was a football, a Frisbee and two 12-packs of beer in the front seat. A few minutes later, she found her own car parked four or five spaces farther down.

She loaded her bags into the car and drove to the police station to report her mistake.

The sergeant to whom she told the story couldn't stop laughing. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale men were reporting a car jacking by a mad, elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, glasses, curly white hair, and carrying a large handgun.

No charges were filed.

The moral of the story?

If you’re going to have a senior moment… make it memorable
restoman: (Frankenstein)
My front door and porch, decorated for Halloween.

The weather was beautiful for trick-or-treating. I had plenty of candy, including Reese's, Kit Kats, 100 Grand bars, and Milky Ways. The first kids, very young ones escorted by their parents, came to the house just after 3 PM. I turned off the porch lights after 9 PM, with just a partial bag of Kit Kats remaining. I had a total of exactly 60 Trick-or-Treaters this year. Josh came over to hang out with me for part of the evening, and we finished off my 6-pack of Beck's.

Here is the count of Halloween Trick-or-treaters for the past 13 years:

1992: 132
1998: 77
2001: 53
2003: 33
2004: 57
2005: 69
2006: 64
2007: 53
2008: 26
2009: 43
2010: 42
2011: 55
2012: 42
2013: 64
2014: 63
2015: 60
[Edited: I have found some of the statistics from earlier years and added them to this list.]

Click for 5 more pictures )

I hope you all had a fun time this Halloween.
restoman: (Solitary man from painting by Edward Hop)

This was all that remained today of that double French Mansard style house in my neighborhood. It was demolished yesterday. Nothing was salvaged out of the building because of the risk of collapse.
I am heartsick over this.
restoman: (The Road Not Taken)
Today was a beautiful Fall day. I told the crew that today would not be a work day, and that I would be taking the day off, ...and all future Sundays, whether they like it or not, ~after all, I AM retired. In spite of my protests, Mark, Josh and John all decided to work, without my support and supervision. I left Syracuse in a bad mood around noon, stopping at a store in Liverpool to pick up stuff for lunch. I got kimmelweck rolls, onion cheese, chicken roll and a bottle of water. I had brought a container of cut-up fresh pineapple with me from home. (This is my idea of a self-indulgent, but relatively healthy road-trip lunch.)

I headed off to the north west, tentatively toward Lake Ontario. The leaves were still only starting to change color, but it was nice just to be out of the city for a while. I stopped at Chimney Bluffs to have lunch on the lake and then did a little hiking. My back was bothering me, so I kept the hike short. I decided to play a little game that I enjoy: pick a road that I don't know and try to get back home without using a map, just using the position of the sun to navigate. I got thoroughly lost on the back country roads of Savannah and Montezuma, before I wound up on relatively familiar turf. I steered my way toward Whiskey Hollow Road where there is a spring with AWESOME GOOD water. I had not been there for over a year. I dumped out what was left of my store-bought water and refilled the bottle with fresh, cold spring water. I wish I had more empty bottles with me. I finished off that spring water before I even got home.

I got back home just before dark to deal with crew-members wanting to be paid. At least I got to enjoy the country scenery, and escape from Syracuse and my crew for an afternoon.

Chimney Bluffs on Lake Ontario. This is a favorite spot of mine.
Click Here for 6 more pictures )
restoman: (Bob the Builder)
I was startled to see another house in my neighborhood getting torn down today. I drove by late in the morning and saw that a demolition crew had already taken down the front of a Queen Anne style house (c. 1890) a block and a half from mine. At one time I had considered buying this place and went through it twice to assess its condition. Ultimately other houses were more appealing projects and I passed it by. It was on a small, narrow lot, and needed considerable work. Again, I had hoped that someone else would rise to the challenge, but unfortunately, no one did. :-(

restoman: (Mountain Lake Sunset)
I drove to my camp in the southern Adirondacks today to close it up for the Winter. It started off as a cloudy, chilly, gray day, but around noon the sun came out and it became one of those gorgeous, crisp Fall days, that I love so much. I didn't have a lot of time for sightseeing, and the leaf colors are only beginning to change anyway, but it was a very pleasant drive. I met my friend, Bob, from Albany there and we spent 2 hours bringing in tables, chairs and other items at his camp, then put up plywood over the doors to ready the place for the onslaught of another Adirondack Winter. I spent about 20 minutes getting my small place ready for the Winter and sealed up tight. Bob treated me to dinner at Wendy's in nearby Johnstown, and then we each headed home. Here are two photos from today's trip:

The colors of the trees have only begun changing, even in the southern Adirondacks. By next weekend the trees at higher elevations should be spectacular.

This is Beardslee Castle in Little Falls, NY. I often pass by it on my way to the camp. It was built in 1860, and modeled after Irish castles. It now serves as a restaurant and banquet facility. They also hold murder mystery dinners, which sounds like a lot of fun to me. I have never been there but would love to try the place.
The castle has a long and tumultuous history, burning down twice, and an owner hanging himself there. For many years it has been said to be haunted.
restoman: (Little Jimmy)
Since the 19th century, Syracuse has been a place where immigrants from many different ethnic backgrounds have settled and established their own communities. For many years, Syracuse's north side was home to a large Italian-American community. Before that, much of the north side was settled by German immigrants. In the past 30 years, other groups have settled there: Vietnamese, Afghan, Sudanese, Somali, Bhutanese and Nepali, to name a few. Syracuse seems to be a popular resettlement place for refugees from all over. To some extent the newer groups replace the earlier ones, but there is a great deal of mixing going on as well. On Lodi Street, just a half mile from my house there is an intersection where a small market run by a Chinese family sits next to a Middle Eastern meat market. Across the street is a Bhutanese restaurant, and on another corner is an Italian bakery. Most of the businesses are relatively new, but Di Lauro's Italian Bakery has been there for over a century.

[Edited 10/7/15: My memory failed me, the "small market run by a Chinese family" is a block away from the other 3 businesses.]

I am a regular customer at Di Lauro's. Their bread and rolls are excellent, and their pizza is good too. But it is some of their more unusual items that keep me coming back.

This is called Tomato Pie. It is a thick-crust pizza, topped with a thick layer of rich tomato sauce and just a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top. It is baked in a rectangular shape and usually served cold. For many years this was a local dish, only found in Utica, NY. But lately I have seen it available in several places around Syracuse.

This is called a DiLuna. They take a circle of Italian Bread dough, place about a cup of filling on it, then fold it over and pinch the open edges together. Then they put a small slit in the top to allow the steam to escape and bake it. It is similar to the "Pasties" found on Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but with an Italian flavor. Fillings options include: Broccoli & Spinach, Pepperoni, Mushroom, and my favorite, Italian sausage. All of the fillings include some Mozzarella cheese. I often get one of these for lunch.


If I can get there early enough, I get one or two slices of this: Breakfast Pizza. Although breakfast pizza is available at a number of convenience stores and gas stations around the area, I think Di Lauro's makes it best. Unfortunately, they often sell out by 9:00 AM. Breakfast Pizza is made like traditional pizza, but without any tomato sauce. Instead, it has scrambled eggs and Mozarella cheese, and is topped with bits of ham, sausage, and crumbled bacon. It is sooooooo good!! I get a slice or two for breakfast whenever I can.
restoman: (Adam&Hammer)
One of the things we have had to do this summer was to jack up the back end of the 2-family Italianate house that we have been working on. The land behind the house slopes down toward the back wall, and over the years soil was deposited against the back wall causing it to rot away at the bottom. The back wall had sunken down about 2 inches and was weak and unsupported. Inside, the floor pitched like a roller coaster. This was a problem that desperately needed correcting.

Soil is deposited against the bottom of the back wall of the house, and a thin concrete berm was poured against the siding to try to correct the problem.

The architect recommended lowering the ground level directly behind the house and sloping it away from the foundation. This meant digging down about 18 inches in an area 5 feet wide by 25 feet long. There were lots of tree roots that had to be cut and removed. We piled the dirt up in the back 12 feet of the yard and leveled it out. This meant that there was a difference in height of more than 2 feet.
For Umpteen More Pictures, Click Here )
restoman: (peeking through blinds)
I got my annual flu shot today at Wegman's. It was easy, fast, and relatively painless. My insurance even paid for it in full! YAY!
I took the air conditioner out of my bedroom window a few days ago. The furnace has been running on cool nights for a few weeks. I have even bought 3 large pumpkins for Halloween.

A few weeks ago, the city put up cameras, mounted on utility poles, at key intersections in my neighborhood. The cameras are monitored for illegal activities ~like drug dealing and prostitution. Prostitution hasn't been an issue in my neighborhood for decades, but drug dealing still is. Of course, I hope that the cameras will dry up some of the drug dealing, but I can't help feeling uneasy about this further intrusion by Big Brother monitoring our lives. I live in the middle of a block, but there are cameras at both ends of my block. Earlier this year there were rumors that there would be a camera in the middle of my block, directly across the street from my house. Fortunately that didn't come to pass ~so I can still safely step out onto my front porch in my boxers and not worry about the police watching me. ;-)

restoman: (Bob the Builder)
Today is my 12-year anniversary here at Live Journal. In honor of that, I will post every day for the next week, with photos!

Some of you may remember a post from 2 years ago that showed a house in my neighborhood that was almost completely overtaken by vines. This was what happened to it last week:

I can't say that it wasn't expected, but I had hoped that someone would buy the place and restore it instead.
restoman: (Bob the Builder)
WORK, WORK, WORK!!! I have been keeping very busy, but this is a hell of a way to spend my retirement! Actually, my time is spent telling my 9 workers what to do, and getting the tools and materials that they need. But, just doing that has been running me ragged. I spent 6 weeks this summer, sick with a bad sinus infection, and then pulled a back muscle from all the coughing. Fortunately, I have survived the ordeal. As my grandmother used to say, "It's not the cough that carries you off, it's the coffin they carry you off in."

So here is some of the work we have accomplished this summer:

Mark, painting from scaffolding.
Umpteen More Photos, Click Here )
restoman: (Bob the Builder)
I haven't posted in a while, and now have a backlog of work photos to share. Work is going on at two of the vacant houses that I bought last year. I have expanded the crew to 8 guys, with a 9th at times, and lots of major projects have gotten done this summer. In addition to our work on the 2-family Italianate house, we have started work on a huge Queen Anne Style house (c. 1885). The house has not been lived in (except by pigeons) for about 45 years, but the previous owner had done some maintenance on it about 25 years ago. The first step was to dismantle a very tall chimney which was in danger of imminent collapse. None of my extension ladders were tall enough (or safe enough) to do the job, so I rented a bucket lift, at considerable expense.

On the first day that we had the bucket lift, Dave and I were in the bucket, up at attic level, when smoke started coming out of the control box at ground level. Our controls in the bucket would not work. Tony went to look at it and saw flames coming from inside the box. Dave and I were not pleased about being stranded, high up in the bucket lift, with the machine on fire! Tony used the emergency shut-off button, and the fire went out. Apparently it was an electrical fire in the wires of the control panel. Still stranded in the bucket, I called the company that we rented it from and they talked me through a manual process to lower the bucket. We brought the machine back and traded it for another model, which worked fine for the rest of the job.

We used the lift to bring heavy planks up to the roof, where we built a work-platform for disassembling the chimney. That dangerous process took several days. After the chimney was gone we used the lift to rebuild the shingled gable on the east end of the house. The original gable had blown off in a storm a few years ago. We reused some of the same parts, replaced others, and made up new scalloped shingles. Of course it made sense to use the bucket lift to paint all the high peaks of the house which was far easier and safer than using a ladder. We kept the machine for 2 weeks.

The first bucket lift (green).
Click for 15 more pictures )
restoman: (Little Jimmy)
I don't eat steak often, but I have been in the mood for a good steak for a couple of weeks. My favorite restaurant for steak is The Outback Steakhouse. The one that I usually go to is on Erie Boulevard in nearby Dewitt, ~but it closed suddenly last year, then disappeared and was replaced by another restaurant. I checked Google and found another Outback Steakhouse in the far northern suburb of Clay, NY. I had never been there, but got on Route 81, then Route 481. After 20 minutes I exited at Route 31 in Clay. As I waited for the light to change at the exit, a group of 3 firetrucks came screaming by. I had to pull over for 2 more as I looked for the restaurant. A short time later I saw the firetrucks in a shopping plaza, circling a building. Sure enough, it was Outback Steakhouse. I pulled into the parking lot and watched for a few minutes. The staff were all standing in the parking lot while firemen went in and out of the building. I didn't see any flames, but they had a ladder truck up onto the roof and were busy tearing apart some ductwork. It was clear that I wouldn't be having dinner there tonight!

Hungry and frustrated, I went in search of other options. Eventually I came to the Euclid Hotel, a well known and ancient establishment that had a good reputation. I had never been there before, but the word "STEAK" on the front of the building caught my eye. The building dates to 1817, nearly 200 years old. Even though it had obviously been remodeled many times, it still bore some of its original parts. I was served by an efficient and very cute waiter who was overly attentive to my needs. I ordered the Delmonico steak, with salad and fries. The steak had great flavor but had a lot more fat than I like. The price, with tax, was a modest $ 22.00. I gave the waiter a generous tip. The restaurant was definitely not a dress-up kind of place and the 40 year old laminate-top tables and steel chairs were bordering on shabby.

I enjoyed it, but I think I can do better. I am hoping that the damage to Outback Steakhouse is minor and gets repaired soon. So here is a question for all of you: Do you know of any chain restaurants that offer a good steak for a reasonable price? I would love to hear your recommendations. Thanks!
restoman: (Glenn)
Here are some random summer photos:

There is a Honeysuckle vine growing on the side of my workshop. I planted it because it reminded me of pleasant memories from my long-ago childhood. When I was about 7, there was lots of wild Honeysuckle growing in the woods near our house on Long Island. My friend, Robby, showed me how to pick a flower, carefully snapping it off below the little bulb at its base, then pinch and slowly pull off that bulb, which pulled the pistol through the flower, collecting the nectar out of the trumpet of the flower until it formed a tiny drop at the flower's base. If you deposited that tiny drop on your tongue, you were treated to the most wonderful, sweet flavor, better than any candy. Robby and I, along with the other kids on the block would spend hours combing the woods for Honeysuckle vines and enjoying their sweet nectar.
I tried a couple of flowers today, delighting in that sweet nectar that I hadn't tasted since I was a kid.

Click for Seven More Photos )
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