Shoveling the walk isn’t enough

I thought I would just start the work with a public service message. The fire hydrants are buried in the snow.  That makes it hard for our local firefighters to hook up a hose quickly.  They need our help.  Grab your shovel and clear the snow around the fire hydrant on your block.

It is going to be warm and sunny today, above freezing even. 🙂

Everything in an old house can be made new

Gravity Furnace – isn’t she a beauty?

Just about everything on the inside or the outside of a house can be rebuilt or replaced. An old house can have a new roof and new windows too.

There are old houses and there are old houses. Sometimes home buyers are intimidated by the house that was built in the 1890’s when it is the house that was built in the 1980’s, or 1990’s.  that they should be concerned about.

Houses built in the late 1990’s may still have the original roof. Replacing a roof is expensive and some only last 20 years. A 20-year-old forced air furnace is a scary thing. Plumbing doesn’t wear out as quickly but I know from experience that plumbing for toilets and faucets and valves wear out and they can be expensive to replace.

Our home was renovated in the late 80’s and we have replaced almost every faucet and valve in the house and upgraded toilets and replaced a few sinks. The plumbing, in general, is in much better shape than what I find in houses that are almost a 100 years newer. The fixtures and plumbing in the kitchen are just a couple of months old.

Our furnace is now three years old and the water heater is about six years old.

I strongly encourage home buyers to have a complete home inspection before buying a home of any age. While house hunting pay close attention to the age of the systems inside and outside the house rather than the age of the whole house.

If a home as been newly renovated ask for warranties on the work, make sure permits were pulled and that they have been closed.  Local government entities that rehab and sell houses will sometimes refuse to provide any kind of warranty on the work making a complete home inspection even more important.

Most of the housing in St. Paul is old. There isn’t a lot of new construction and it is very expensive. Houses are definitely reusable and upgradable. The oldest houses in St. Paul were built without plumbing or electricity. That was all added later.

Also, see Younger buyers want technology  Homes can be retrofitted with smart home technology.

Fewer Registered Vacant houses

In St. Paul you can register your vacant building with the city. During the peak of the housing market crash and the great recession there were over 2000 registered vacant buildings in St. Paul and most of those were houses.

Today there are 645 registered vacant buildings in St. Paul and 586 of those are homes. I mention this because there are fewer than 300 homes for sale in our fair city at the moment. St. Paul appears to own at least 135 properties at least according to tax records. Apparently, some of these homes are going to be re-developed. Some of them were foreclosures.

This little house at 47 Douglas street has been on the vacant building list since the Fall of 2009 and has been owned by the City of St. Paul since 2010. I asked about it a few years back and was told that it needed a lot of work. I’ll bet one day it will be a vacant lot owned by the city rather than a vacant house.

vacant house
47 Douglas Street, St. Paul, MN 55102


New Mayor could mean fireworks

July 4th Fireworks in St. Paul

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. I decided to write a letter to our new Mayor. It was about bringing back fireworks. Back in the day before CHS field was built, we used to have these beautiful fireworks on July 4th. They were launched over our great natural resource, the Mississippi River.

After CHS field was built it became the new home of July 4th fireworks. The field is in the lowest part of St. Paul and is surrounded by tall buildings. If there is a baseball game the fireworks might be delayed by an hour or so.

The CHS field venue guarantees the smallest possible audience. There are rules about how high the fireworks can be launched because there is an airport close by and it is the lowest point in St. Paul.  I suppose it would be worse if they were set off indoors someplace.

I never would have supported CHS field if I had known it would mean the end of public fireworks on July 4th. We used to go outside and head for the nearest bridge or river bluff. We would meet neighbors along the way and talk amongst ourselves as we waited for the big display.

The fireworks could be seen for miles. Some people would grab blankets and watch them from the parks. Others watched then from boats. It really was beautiful. I am happy that I took the time to take some pictures.

I really miss those fireworks. I hope there is someway we can celebrate July 4th like we used to. Like they do over in Minneapolis with “Red, White, and Boom”. The fireworks are launched over the river and are free for everyone to see.

It isn’t always cold here

If you are here from out of town for the big game you need to know that it isn’t always cold here. We just happened to have one of those miserable cold snaps on Super Bowl weekend and it could have been much worse.

I know many Minnesotan’s including myself who have not adopted the mantra “the colder the better”.

Sometimes when it is cold we have to be outside. I have all the clothing required to comfortably stay outside in weather that is up to forty below zero.

The museums are open during the winter and always warm inside. There is art and history and theater too. There are wonderful places to eat with lovely warm fireplaces. I can’t imagine ever running out of things to do in the winter or any other time of year.

Cold snaps rarely last more than a few days leaving plenty of winter days for outdoor activities. When it is as cold as it is today I focus on indoor activities. I always have “winter” projects to do around the house.

This winter I am working on a backsplash in the kitchen and some painting. I have a list of indoor projects that I plan to get done so that when the weather is nice I can spend my time outside.

We have four seasons here in Minnesota. If you are not crazy about cold weather you should come and check out the Minnesota State Fair. It runs from 9/23/2018 to 9/3/2018 this year. Better yet come back for fishing opener and enjoy one of our 30,000 lakes or if you don’t like to fish bring your kayak or rent a sailboat and just have fun.

For people who like to hike or ride bikes, we have miles and miles of trails and many of them are paved. A person could bike from one end of the state to the other along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) and camp along the way.

If you really love the cold weather and sub-zero windchills good for you. I find it painful and would rather stay inside. I don’t know anyone who lives in Minnesota because it can get so cold here in the winter. We just learn to deal with it. Minnesota has so much more to offer than bone-chilling cold.

St. Paul skyline
spring in St. Paul

Downhill ice racing

crashed ice
Saint Paul Cathedral – Crashed ice 2018

I cheated and took this shot the day before the event. Normally the venue would be packed with people but I have found that it is easier to get the shot before the event and before the security guards start guarding.

Once the jumbotron and the big spotlights are turned on it gets harder to photograph the venue.

Downhill ice racing is a thing and it draws huge crowds. Those crowds drink lots and lots of beer in crashed ice village along West 7th street.

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival starts this week and then it is on to the Super Bowl. It all helps take the long and boring out of Winter. 🙂