Archive for the ‘Arkansas’ Category

Yes, we have no bananas in NW Arkansas

Monday, February 11th, 2008

In what seems to be an Onion-worthy announcement, I received an email from the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce Friday. It was captioned “Very Important.”* It seems the Chamber has confirmed that the world is round that there is no, repeat, no outbreak of leprosy around here. Whew. We can all go back to our normal lives. Maybe practice our duck and cover techniques.

In unrelated news, my brother says there is an outbreak of whooping cough in his area.  Or at least, there are two cases he knows of.

*Text of the Chamber’s message:

Promoting a Strong Business Climate in Fayetteville, Arkansas

An Important Message!

Dear Chamber Members:

You may be aware of a media report that is suggesting there has been an outbreak of leprosy in Springdale. This is not true.

The Springdale Chamber has been in touch this morning with Governor Mike Beebe, Congressman John Boozman, the Center for Disease Control and the Washington County Health Department. Each of these entities are fully engaged and are reporting to us that there is no “outbreak” of leprosy in Springdale or Northwest Arkansas.

In fact, the Washington County Health Department explains nothing has changed in the number of known cases of communicable diseases in Northwest Arkansas in the past year.

Please help us in our effort to diffuse this non-factual story with the accurate details of the Springdale Chamber’s research from this morning. 
Copyright © 2003-2008 Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. All rights reserved.

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Faucets quit working? Check if you still have pipes.

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

I have just come across another explanation for when your faucets quit working.  (Besides, of course, the most likely reason in Arkansas last week: frozen pipes.) 

A Little Rock woman … arriv[ed] home to find the faucets in her house not working. She later found water streaming from under her home and when she checked, the copper pipes under her house were missing.

From a news story reporting increased penalties for copper theft here in Arkansas.*

Around these parts, copper wire thefts are fairly common, but in England they are losing entire roofs from their churches.  One church was hit seven times, including a theft using the scaffolding set up to replace the previously-stolen roof.  Our Religious News section in the local paper had a short article about a product called Smart Water.  The company’s explanation sounds like magic to me:

Each bottle of SmartWater contains a unique forensic code which is dabbed into the nooks and crannies of the valuable item. A clear solution which cures hard, SmartWater is virtually impossible to remove and will withstand significant attack. SmartWater has passed extensive testing by organisations such as the Forensic Science Service, an agency of the Home Office, and Thatcham.


By developing a strategic approach, and working closely with the Police across the UK, SmartWater has become well known to the criminal fraternity, not least because of its 100% record in convictions. Having applied the SmartWater solution, all that is required is to display the SmartWater warning labels. SmartWater has become a cornerstone in household and business security and one of the most powerful deterrents in the fight against the common criminal.

Weird.  Contemplating PEX versus copper for our house. We currently have a lot of old galvanized, but we’d have to find a plumber willing to do PEX.  The Chicago plumber we asked wasn’t really willing to try it.

*The news story also reports repeated thefts of utility lines and from new construction across the state.

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Getting Ready for Christmas in Arkansas

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

camellias-in-december.jpg Camellias in Hope, Arkansas, December 1, 2007

cedar-for-christmas.jpg Don harvesting a cedar on my folks’ land (late December 2007)

c-for-christmas.jpg C for Cat is getting ready for C-for-Christmas under our fir tree (from Wisconsin)

Statue in December Statue (left by POs) in our backyard on Saturday, December 21. Ivy is still that green. It was 61 degrees Saturday afternoon and we spent the morning cleaning up the yard and messing around outside. (By Sunday morning, it was 19 degrees. 42 degrees change, and about half of that drop was in less than an hour.)

The Little One sits with Santa on the Fayetteville Town Square on November 29, 2007.* (She chose her outfit: Princess dress with ballet slippers and pink sweater from Grandma. As a concession to me, she wore her coat until Santa was ready for her. She apparently wound up on TV that night.) She also rode a camel and we four (Don, Lisa, my mom, and the Little One) rode in a horse-drawn carriage which had a piece of mistletoe in it.

Now she really wants some mistletoe of her own. Did you know that mistletoe can be harvested with a shotgun? Just shoot it out of the tree. I told her that we once had a neighbor in Oklahoma** who would shoot down mistletoe.  When my mom and I went to see my grandfather et al. Friday, the Little One asked me to ask Granddaddy for some mistletoe. (I had told her that he had a gun.) He doesn’t have any mistletoe growing on his land. Nor is any growing on my dad’s land. I think she may have to go without this year. Which is OK with me. She’s a little young for kissing.

But wait … what’s that over Santa’s shoulder?


Yes, in a serendipitous moment, Don caught a Razorback in the same picture. Go Hogs! (The first six months we were here, the Little One would go hogwild whenever she caught sight of a Razorback. She’d call out, “Razor, Razor!” in delight. She is more blase about it now, but her kindergarten teacher has taught them how to call the Hogs. Very cute.)

Christmas Pageant Angel On our way to the Christmas Pageant with the Littlest Angel.

angel-recessing.JPG Angel recessing!

Merry Christmas!

*The Lights of the Ozarks go off New Year’s Eve, so go see them. Really. They’re lovely.

** Mistletoe is the Oklahoma state flower. Does it strike anyone else as odd that they chose a parasite? The National Geographic article (in the link above) assert that its resilience, greeness and tenacity (especially during the Dust Bowl) were reasons for its selection.

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Historic Preservation Ramble

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

In November, Don went to the Arkansas Historic Preservation Alliance Conference, and I drove down to North Little Rock to join him for the house tours. Because this got us on the mailing list, last week we were invited to the Arkansas Holiday Ramble. We love being house voyeurs, so we persuaded my parents to keep the Little One, and we left for Little Rock about 7 a.m. so we could ramble (which involves eating, drinking, and house ogling — all in a tour bus) across the state, and get home in the middle of the night. (Actually, 1:30 the next morning.)

We saw:

  • a Queen Anne bed and breakfast in Arkadelphia (owned and restored by Henderson State University). It was the university museum for about 20 years before its restoration, and before that it was three apartments upstairs with the family living downstairs. The granddaughter of the family that owned it for most of the 20th century and the restoration architect joined us to show off the house.


  • an antebellum Greek Revival home in Hollywood (Arkansas). Same restoration architect did this work. The house had been vacant for many, many years (40?) before its present owners kept in the family, but moved it across the highway (one of the oldest roads in the state because it was the Southwest Trail*) and started its restoration. (It has remained in the same family for most of its existence.  This restoration has been in the works since Mrs. House Owner first saw it nearly 30 years ago — She was seventeen, it was Valentine’s Day, she had a big crush on the house and the boyfriend.  She married her boyfriend, who had it in his family, and now it is in their family.)

Hollywood Greek Revival

  • a 1841 log cabin that had been on the 2005 most endangered list as the Noel Owen Neale House. The current owner moved it from near Nashville (Arkansas) to near Washington State Park, and has added two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a geothermal heat pump** (as recently seen in This Old House magazine), while preserving its dogtrot structure and nearly all the original fabric. (The log cabin is surrounded by a collection of old buildings, including a Greek Revival house, a general store, a cotton gin, and a couple of others I have forgotten.)



  • acres of never used FEMA trailers.  (Not on the tour, but we drove by them.)


  • a three thousand luminiaria-lit Washington. Washington (founded 1824) was the county seat of Hempstead County, the Confederate capitol of Arkansas after Little Rock was occupied by the Yankees, and is now a state park with a large collection of old houses, mostly ante bellum.
  • We saw the 1856 Crouch house that was used as an example of building techniques, several Greek Revival houses (unpictured), and more (pictured below in order of visitation so I apologize for the growing darkness) — all with hosts in period costumes. This house tour was worth every penny of the $9 ticket (included in the price of the ramble). Next year’s date is December 6. Mark your calendars.
  • Hempstead County’s 1874 Italianate courthouse


  • The 1847 Trimble House is a spectacular example of Greek Revival. (It is on its original site, just next to the Southwest Trail, and is filled with Thibeau [sp?] replications of its original wallpaper and its original furnishings.  It stayed in the Trimble family until Trimble descendants gave it to the Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation in 1978.  (Representative Harrelson’s blog has a better picture of the Trimble House.  I guess he planned ahead and took a picture in daylight.)


  • and the 1914 schoolhouse, where we had dinner.


Speaking of food, we started the tour with screwdrivers and doughnuts, followed by high tea at Captain Henderson’s, followed by eggnog and hot cider (spiking optional) at the first Greek Revival, followed by a box lunch, then cookies and cider on the President’s lawn. Dinner was a chicken/rice/almond dish with a nice green salad, wine, coffee, and desserts. Plenty of holiday calories.

* Both Washington (founded 1824) and Hollywood were located on the Southwest Trail, which connected St. Louis, Missouri to Texas. (Parts of it were known as the Natchitoches Trace.) Sam Houston, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett all used the Southwest Trail as did thousands of Choctaw Indians from Mississippi, who were going to Indian Territory (1832-1839). (Sam Houston was supposed to be a friend of my 4-times-great-grandfather in Tennessee, according to my great-grandfather. His son moved to Arkansas in 1837, and I bet he used the Southwest Trail.)

** I kinda want a geothermal heat pump, but I suspect digging the holes in rocky NW Arkansas would be a deal killer.  That said, we have accredited geothermal heat pump installers in the area.

Then we were chauffeured back to Little Rock, where we arrived at 10:30 p.m., with another three-hour drive home. Next time, we’ll plan to stay the night in Little Rock — perhaps in the 1888 Empress, which is owned by one of our colleagues on the Ramble. (Don and I stayed there a couple of times before the Little One was born — one of the best b&b’s we have ever stayed at. Excellent breakfast and delightful rooms in a wonderful Queen Anne. Sharon says they have added several rooms since we were there last, including spa-like baths. I’ll have to find my photo album dating from our stay there and scan some snapshots in.)

It was a most excellent way to spend a very long day — thanks to my parents for keeping the Little One for us.

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Exterior Colors

Friday, November 30th, 2007

The current owners had already contracted to paint the house when they decided to sell to us. Our last two houses were Victorian, so an Arts & Crafts or Colonial Revival was a little outside my comfort zone, at least when it came to dealing with accent and trim colors — I was fine with the medium sage green for the body, but not too sure about going with lighter trim instead of darker. Not to worry, the Big Noble Book Store had Bungalow Colors, Exterior, in stock so we bought it.

A quick study of it (along with looking at several examples in the neighborhood), and I was fine with the light, light sage green for the trim, and a somewhat darker sage green as an accent (including the bottom trim piece — like a kickplate), and a brickish red for the screen door. (I got a bit defensive when our neighbor/current owner thought it sounded like it is going to be a Victorian/painted lady — it’s three shades of the same green, which hardly compares to the five or six different colors we used on our true Victorians. Guess we’ll see how it turns out.)

Now to see if the painter can get it done before real winter shows up. It was up nearly to 80 degrees (F) on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and we’re still getting some warm days. Lovely late November weather. He’s gotten the base coat on all the house except a section that we are having resided, and he has the trim work done on most of the house. Not to mention the back part that he’s already ripped off and resided. (Rotten, nasty bit around the walk-out basement.) It looks like he spray painted the sides (plastic over the windows), and brush painted the front.

From left to right, a picture of the house in October (when we thought we were making an offer), and a picture of the house in process.  The lower right windows in the second photo shows two trim combinations we considered.  We chose the trim color on the right side (more or less), the red (visible above the window on the right) on the front door, and a dark green (but not as dark as the one on the left) for the “kick plate.”  (What do you call that board that wraps around the bottom of the house?)

  Exterior before offerExterior before trim

I was waiting on this post because I have a picture of the whole front in its finished form, but I haven’t uploaded it.  Will just post separately on it sometime later.  I don’t know why the sky turned pink — it was a normal, sky color in the original photo.

We’re thinking red for the roof when we replace it.

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Freecycling, anyone?

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

I’ve gotten the hang of buying things from Chicago’s Craig’s List and even Dallas.*  Our stove at the old house was a Craig’s List buy, and the dishwasher was a local EBay buy.  (Mostly, I entice my husband with pictures, and he does the negotiations), but there are two other options in NW Arkansas that I haven’t tried: Freecycling and KURM’s dial-a-trade.

I haven’t done Freecycling myself (yet), but this comment from Jennifer at Tiny Old House made me think about it. And Google it. We do have a Freecycle group here in NW Arkansas. (Come to think of it, a fellow I used to work with told me about Freecycle last fall.) And, they’re mentioned in this Fayetteville Free Weekly article about dumpster diving as a resource. I have a feeling I’ll be watching the list for a while to see what I think.  Last week, I saw several old fridges find homes.  Might be a way to deal with the many fridges that are coming with our house.

And then there’s KURM’s dial-a-trade. Until recently, I thought that the radio show’s host’s was named Kerm (as in Kermit the Frog), and that he had an awfully long shift since the show is on mornings and evenings.  However, K-U-R-M are the call letters, and it is essentially classified ads on the radio. I could listen to them for hours. Very relaxing. (Except when the host gets irritated with someone trying to sell more than one firearm or any firewood at all. Why one firearm, but no firewood? I don’t know.  Probably has something to do with the Second Amendment.) KURM even broadcasts livestock auctions, umm, live.  And one of their former announcers has been in the news lately for leading an unusual double life.  (In another small world coincidence, this same former announcer was a pastor at the Hessville Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana – not too far at all from Don’s first house.)

*We haven’t bought anything from the Fayetteville Craig’s List, but the listing activity is gradually picking up so I’m hopeful there will be something for us soon.

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Buying Update 2

Monday, November 26th, 2007

We ran into our mortgage broker on the way to kindergarten this morning.  The appraisal came in at our price and as a four-plex, so I expect we’ll be closing sometime later this week at 6.5%, 30 year-fixed, investment property.  Whew.  Maybe we’ll be doing demolition this weekend while the Little One goes to see Santa.  (Neighbors have offered us spare space in their kitchen-demolition dumpster.)  I’ll have to see if my parents are available for a trip to Santa.  The only thing I’ve heard so far on her list is something that will “make me and Daddy girly girls.”  I think it’s spray paint for hair, featured in a commercial she saw in Chicago.

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Adventures in Salvaging, Part 4: Westwood Gardens Auction

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

When we thought we were about to buy a house in October, I saw an ad in the paper. The local big garden center was auctioning off its surplus plants. I made big plans to go and get a headstart on landscaping. As you can imagine, a house that has been rental apartments for fifty years (or eighty) doesn’t have a lot of landscaping, but it does have at least three huge dying trees that I hope can stay upright until spring. Anyway, we ran into a snag, and I didn’t have a house at the time of the auction. I went anyway, with our neighbor, who is, among other things, a master gardener.

Lacking a house, despite being an auction junkie, I managed not to buy too much — just two huge hydrangeas (Dooley’s, $8 each, currently parked in my mom’s labyrinth garden), four fly swatting chairs ($12.50 each), a pair of hypertufa/concrete birdbath like things with a definite Prairie style to them ($60+20), and a marble-looking planter with figures cast in it ($15). It still filled our truck up because the fly swatting chairs wouldn’t nestle.

Good thing we both had trucks because our neighbor filled up his truck with Japanese maples (some beautiful ones) and the like. (We took just his truck for the day — Don and the Little One came at the end to help load up my stuff when I realized that the chairs wouldn’t nest.)

Our stuff:


Of course, now that it looks like we’ll have a house after all, I’m wishing that I would have been able to buy for it. I’m thinking of an Asian-influenced garden (with 1950s flyswatting chairs), and need to, ahem, buy some books about Arts and Crafts gardens so I know what I’m doing. I think we’ll put a gingko in the parkway* — there aren’t any on our street, so that will add some diversity.

My prairie birdbaths have been installed at my parents’ modern house (where, unfortunately, they look very good – the gourds were grown by the Little One and my mom, and arranged by the Little One), but I bet I can make some hypertufa birdbaths in my copious spare time.

The flyswatting chairs have some surface rust, but should be just fine — and, at $12.50, they’re cheaper than the rustier originals we’ve seen at flea markets.

*Do you know where the parkway is? I didn’t, until I moved to Chicago. It is not the driveway. Nor is it the scenic road running along the Blue Ridge. Rather, it is the small bit of dirt between the sidewalk and the street. A useful term, but not in the answer dot com definitions.  (See my glossary for more.)

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Buying Update

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

We have found a company willing to insure the house, although we are paying a higher premium since it isn’t owner-occupied. (If I didn’t mention earlier, the insurance agency I’ve been with since 1987 doesn’t insure old houses in Arkansas, especially if they’re being remodeled.  Once it’s all put back together again, they’ll consider insuring us.  Nice.) 

Just like we’re paying a half percent extra interest on the mortgage because of it not being owner-occupied. 

The insurance rate may go up still more once the tenants leave, until we move in.  And we had to bump up the amount of insurance because the mortgage company wants it insured for at least the amount of the mortgage. 

While we do have closing scheduled for November 28, the appraisal hasn’t come back yet, so it is very unlikely we will actually close on November 28.  Even if it comes in today (which it is supposed to), the mortgage broker needs 24 hours to clear, and the big bank is taking 72 hours on top of that to issue instructions.  The broker says she hears that the big bank is extremely busy because of all the other small lenders shutting down their lending operations.  Not so much due to a sudden uptick in the housing market.

Will hold breath for reasonable appraisal.  If we don’t make the appraisal, we may have to shut the whole thing down and try again in the spring.

At least we’re not trying to vacate one house and move into the next before month’s end.  If we were, I would be much more worried about all this.

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Adventures in Salvaging, Part 3: Craig’s List

Monday, November 19th, 2007

So the Little One is out of school this week, we don’t own a house (yet — maybe next week), and we need to do something, anything.  What to do, what to do? 

I started checking out Craig’s List, got bored with Fayetteville, and moved on to Chicago (and Dallas and, well, anywhere in between).  In Chicago, I found:  (1) a mess of salvaged divided glass cabinet doors  (11 doors plus for $120), (2) two Rejuvenation craftsman sconces for $120 (list $174 each), and (3) salvaged quartersawn oak hardwood flooring for $4/square foot.

An advantage of having a SAHD is that he can go to Chicago if the fancy takes him.  An advantage of the fancy taking him this week is that the Little One is out of school and can go see Grandma and cousins with him.  So, a few emails and phone calls later (plus 12 hours on the road to get there), we now possess a mess of doors and two sconces, and the promise of plainsawn oak flooring, delivered, in December, and the Little One has had a good time at Grandma’s.  Now to get them home again.  (Salvage and family, both.)

Quartersawn is sold out.   The flooring guy salvages floors for a living and has to come to Arkansas in December anyway, which would save us a trip with a trailer.  $3/square foot for plainsawn, I think, plus whatever we negotiate for delivery.  (When we pulled the quartersawn ourselves, I think we paid a dollar a square — that was hard work, and not exactly convenient to Arkansas.)  We’re thinking we’ll pull the downstairs floors out of our house, and use them upstairs, and install oak in the living room (or perhaps throughout downstairs) to cover up/resize the huge floor grate.  Anyone else in Arkansas want some salvaged hardwood flooring?  We could probably work out a deal for volume.  (And the turn-of-the-century stuff is pretty easy to work with — it’s much longer than what you get now, and the flow is so much nicer.)

I can’t wait to see the salvage — Don says the cabinet doors were rescued via dumpster diving from a condo conversion, and the un-installed (NIB!) Rejuvenation sconces came from a beautiful Victorian, whose owners are going to Thailand to do something for the Department of Justice (I think).  He says the finish is nicer on the sconces than in the picture (below).  I don’t seem to have saved the Craig’s List photo of the doors, so we will have to make a separate post later.  (The doors are destined for either our pantry or kitchen, depending.)


And the Little One was so exhausted last night that she missed me and wanted to come home.  (I miss her, too.)  She played with her cousins from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., when they had to go home.

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