Tuesday, July 22, 2008


This year's Chairman's Cabinet Trip was to Prague in the Czech Republic. We stayed at the Four Seasons Hotel very close to the Old Town Square. Prague is an ancient city. It was spared bombing runs during World War Two so the original buildings dating to the 13th century are still around. It was a very quick trip. We only had one full day there with some time on the afternoon of our arrival and a little time in the morning of our departure.

While we were there we visited the Old Town Square with it 500 year old astrological clock in the City Hall building. In the town square is a monument to Jan Hus. He was really to first person to protest the control of the Catholic Church in Europe. He was around 100 years before Martin Luther and burned at the stake.

We also visited the Jewish quarter where we toured one of the biggest Sinagog mueseums in Europe. We learned a lot about Jewish religious practices and saw the cemetary where as many as 100,000 are buried. They ran out of room so they started burying the bodies on top of each other. Then they stacked up the tomb stones as best they could.

We visited the Praque Castle. The St. Vitus Cathedral is in the middle of the Castle. The castle area is over 1000 years old. Thursday evening we had dinner at the Chateau Trojoa, a beutiful hunting lodge hundreds of years old. They had a 20 piece orchestra playing classical music. It was a very nice evening. The next day we all boarded a chartered plan for our company and flew to Vienna.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

This old house

Since I am trying to use my blog as a form of journal / family history and since some day Jesse is going to show me how to publish the blog in book form and since with all of the good work that jared and Sara have put into the yard this summer I thought I'd tell the story of our house. We have very few pictures of the places we have lived. Lots of pictures of the people inside but not too many of the actual places. So with this post, I'll share the story and some pictures.

We bought the land in August of 1993 for $70,000. We hired Steve Swartz to build the house. I had a collection of floor plans from various catelogs I had purchased. I couldn't find one house that I felt fit the bill but I had a composit from three different plans that I liked. We interviewed three different contractors. They mostly told us that if we would bring them completed blueprints they would build the house. We went back to Corona with the land purchased but little else decided on. After a month one of the contractors, Steve Swartz called us and said he had something he had to show us. He flew down to Corona and brought a set of working drawings that he had drawn up himself. The drawing was great and incorporated everything we were looking for in the house. We were a little nervous about Steve. He seemed a little like a Tahoe ski bum turned contractor. He proved to be an excellent contractor to work with and did everything he promised to do. The Construction cost of the house was $258,000.

Our land is 2 acres and sits on what used to be called Chamber's Field. It was an alph alfa farm. The land is flat. Because we are on the same plain as the Carson River the land is full of fist sized river rocks. This past year we brought in some gravel and used the river rocks we've pulled out of the yard to give the appearence of a small dry river bed running in front of the house. Our original plan was to sell our home in Corona and use the equity in that home to build our NV home. The real estate market collasped in 1994 so we couldn't sell the Corona house. We rented the Corona house out and my dad helped us with a construction loan. Once completed we got permament financing and paid my dad back. We had to economize somewhat. No more basement, steel front door insted of Oak, formica insted of tile counter tops, linoleum floors insted of tile or granite. We put hardwoods down in the entry way and under the piano. The rest of the living room we just edged in hardwood and put carpet in the middle. So it looks like we have hardwood floors in the living room. We cut the roof hight to save money. We did not scrimp on structural items. 2x6 construction throughout, nine foot ceilings downstairs, tongue and groove I beams for the floor joices. Steve built it like a fort. We starte construction on December 1, 1993 and moved in on July 1, 1994. We had no yard or landscaping when we moved in. No fences or window coverings. No airconditioning and of course summer 1994 was a very hot one. Within a year we had some grass hydroseeded and I started planting trees. I went to the Nevada State nursury where land owners of one acre or more can buy trees for one dollar each. They were small ( six inches or so) but I could buy a lot of them. I bought some bare root fruit trees from a catelog and planted them the following fall. I cut out some lilac suckers from our friends the Russells. Today there are 64 mature trees on the property. Our nieghbors to the east and south have about 40 Austrian pines that border our fence line. So all in all there are over 100 trees on or around the property.

We finally sold our home in Corona and used the money to build a car port and my basement. No we didn't dig under the house to build the basement. We just added a room on the back of the house. Marla calls it the greem room, I still call it the basement. It seems to confuse people but it has been a great room for the teenagers to have parties. The car port, and basement added $99,000 to the cost of the house. We also spent around $21,000 for an asphalt driveway to replace the dirt one and fencing , the lawn and sprinklers.

In 2002 we built the barn. Why build a $32,000 barn for a couple of $900 horses? Good question. I always wanted to have horses and a barn. We also closed in the car port with an ingenious system of sliding barn doors that John Pagen put in for us. It seems that every fall the car port would fill up with tumble weeds. It is now like having two barns. Marla has done a beutiful job decorating and by now has repainted every room except our upstairs bed room .

We've added air conditioning and a hot tub off the basement. Two years ago we split the back field and put in a sprinkler system and pasture grass on one side and five inches of sand on the other side. So far we've invested about 400,000 in the house. Two years ago it would have appraised at around $1.25 million. We are in another real estate bust now so we probably couldn't sell it at any price. Last April 2007 we paid the mortgage off sixteen years early. So we own it now.

Why talk about a house? It has been a lesson and experience in vision, goals, patience, long term planning. Much of our lives and our children's growing up happened here. Hopefully it will be a place that children and especially grand children will love to come for a visit. It has taken 15 years but it is mostly done now. Needs a little bit of touch up painting, and I've thought of redoing the kitchen counter tops with granite. We've already redone the two upstairs bathrooms. I think I'll stay here and enjoy it for a while, although I some times get an urge to start a new project.