I feel like people are saying I should be angry about some things, but I don’t like being angry. Also, it doesn’t necessarily motivate me to action. I’m much more likely to be motivated by something positive. In fact, that’s how I vote, too.
Every decision we made, every project, improvement, everything involved with this house was done with the thought that we would be in this house for as long as we owned one. We aren’t stupid nor naïve, we knew that life might take us elsewhere at some point. Maybe some job we couldn’t refuse, retiring to someplace away from Houston, or on the negative side, maybe we would have to move because of the location on the Gulf Coast. But we knew that as long as we lived in Houston, we would most likely be in this house.
In fact, I often joked that we couldn’t move because then no one would feed Stella, the semi-feral cat in our backyard. She died last October at the ripe old age of sixteen. Not bad for a semi-feral outdoor cat.
I used to love living in Garden Oaks. Back in 2014, I was doing some therapy at UH, and every few weeks they do this survey about how we felt about our environment ranging from home, neighborhood, city, etc. When it came to the neighborhood, I always went straight to the highest, best rating. There was no question in my mind.
Over the subsequent five years, that seems to have changed. I’m not saying I hate it here, but the love appears to have faded. I don’t know if there is one root cause or if the multiple things that I think about are truly contributing.
If there is a root cause, it is what happened with our homeowner’s association, GOMO. I helped form it back around 2001, and now it is gone. Along the way, there were some horrible fights among neighbors and a lot of bad blood is still around. I went from a neighborhood where I generally loved everybody to one where there are people who probably hate me and though I don’t hate them and I do love them because they are fellow human beings, I would rather not have them in my life. I am also very disappointed that something I helped create that I thought would be here long after I was gone did not last twenty years.
There is also the fact that the neighborhood has changed a lot. It went from a charming neighborhood with cottages from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, lots of gay couples and artsy people, and tons of trees to one with large two or more story houses with families who have lots of money, pools, lawn crews, and maids. There are also much fewer trees.
I should note that the loss of trees have several factors including age, droughts, and storms. But the large houses and poor decisions by builders and owners have taken quite a few as well.
Part of the issue with the new houses is the seemingly constant construction. Especially in the last few years, there has been a new house being built almost everywhere, and with it the noise, traffic, and mess. During the rainier parts of the year, the streets are covered in mud.
Reading back over that, I am not sure any of that should matter, and I am not sure it does. But I know I think about those things a bit, so they do bother me when I let them. Since there are constant reminders of many of them especially because I run and walk through most of the neighborhood, they do pop into my mind more than I would like.
Then there is the house itself. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good little house and always has been. But, the size of it has always been a shade on the small side for us, especially once I got my piano and organ. It is nothing terrible, but it would be nice to have a larger master bedroom, a second bath or half bath, and a spare bedroom that could be used as such. The kitchen needs to be updated badly. When we moved in, it was fine, but twenty years later, it needs work. Fortunately, everything works, but the cabinets are horrible and the floor is peeling away from the walls. We need more working space. It probably could be reconfigured to work much better for us. The bathroom shower has a problem, and that leads me to the other issue.
It seems like we were unlucky or stupid on several of the projects we had done over the years. When we had the air conditioning replaced, I never even thought about the noise. I don’t know why, but the system is horribly loud when it runs such that I turn up the TV nearly every time. Back then, I wasn’t so focused on music, but it is ironic that now I have to deal with a noisy A/C system when I record. It is so loud that we often cannot hear each other when the other is on the opposite side of it.
The bathroom project was a disaster. We thought it was fine when it was finally done (long story there), but it turned out that the shower pan holds water. The shower floor isn’t sloped properly and water pools on the tiles. Grout has broken away in the shower and around the sink. We do not know if there is damage behind the tiles in the wood and the walls.
When we had the siding done, that went well except for one thing. They way they framed the windows we cannot use hurricane clips to board them up, meaning we will have to drill into the Hardiplank around each window if we want to cover them. Not the worst thing, but we would have had it done differently had we noticed.
The electrical system is old (do not even look at the wiring in the circuit breaker box!) and does not properly carry ground for some reason. The plumbing is old and hopefully is okay because I cannot see spending thousands on replacing it with PEX right now.
Still, we love the house and hate to see it get torn down. We could be simple and just stay and deal with it. Who knows what either house we are currently considering might end up with as problems for whatever reason.
But both new houses have their appeals. I would not say either has anything close to a deal breaker wrong with it as far as we can tell, and both have characteristics that would be improvements over what we have now. Starting with the neighborhoods, there is no history, no baggage that we have. We might not even get involved like we did here just to avoid anything close to a repeat of what happened here. Right now, there seems to be much less new construction going on up there. That might be because the houses are larger, and probably more suited to what people currently want than the original cottages that were in Garden Oaks. I don’t know about pools, yard crews, nor families but there are probably plenty of the latter. At least we would know that going in. Both neighborhoods have Constable patrollers.
We like each house for mostly different reasons, and each has things the other lacks that we wish we could find all in one house. The house at 1039 Chamboard is larger, has an attached garage, a slightly bigger yard, a great formal living room to make into my studio in a room that faces north, a larger master bedroom, a spare area between the kitchen and utility room that provides lots of storage and also could be where we put the cat stuff, and backs up to Bill and Shawn Spear in Garden Oaks. There is also a utility easement between them and the house, where there are a few trees. This house is more expensive, Chamboard gets some traffic, and there seems to be less trees in the immediate area. It is larger than we need, and some guests may have difficulty with the stairs. The bathrooms are mostly original. The location of the attached garage makes the patio somewhat small and the backyard have a lot of concrete. The utility lines may go across a bit of the backyard. It does have a pecan tree out front, but it does not have a porch. Lori is concerned our current dining room set might be too big in the breakfast nook. I don’t know if it would fit physically and visually in the den.
A mile further north in Candlelight Plaza, 5006 Park Plaza is smaller but it may be closer to what we need. It is less money, a smaller yard, has a great front porch, French doors from the master bedroom to the patio, a single story, red brick, a couple of good sized oak trees in the front, and the immediate area seems to have a lot of trees. The garage is detached, and there is no privacy such as a fence from the driveway to the patio and backyard. That might be fixable. The formal living room is okay but nothing like Chamboard. The master bedroom is smaller and I am not sure how much extra space there is in it. The laundry room is ridiculously small to the point where it could be a deal breaker. I have an idea of how to fix it without moving walls, but it would require a weird routing of water lines and the dryer vent. The fireplace is on the “wrong” side of the den. The front bedroom might be a little small for the office. It may be smaller than the room we currently use. The neighbors on the north side of the house seem really close. The master bath is small. Lori is concerned about storage space and closets.
One thing I do not like about either house is that they have these high windows in most rooms. I often look outside when I am at my desk, and except for the front bedroom in Park Plaza, there is not a room that has that for the desk.
That’s where we are right now. Three houses in play. We have what we need, and if both of the other houses get sold before we can buy either or someone wants to pay more than we do, we are fine in this house. We could easily forget about either of them and stop messing with ourselves. We put a lot into this house and there is a lot of our history here. There aren’t any deal breakers with keeping this house. We could stay, continue to do what we do in Garden Oaks, fix the place up, and shut the heck up. There really is no wrong decision for us. We can be happy in any of the houses, and we will make whatever one we choose our home.
People who can’t play without a drummer. 🤦♂️
I just got interrupted by a call from “the Publisher Clearing House, Mr. Frank,” claiming that I won $5000 a week for life. I started recording it just as I said, “really??!!” as if I believed him, and then the call was disconnected. Dang.
If I started a podcast, it would be more about nothing than Seinfeld ever was.
Social media and its echo chamber makes me wonder about the future of humankind.
Grrrrrrrrrr. [profanity laden rant]
If you’re not at the table, you’re in the menu.
@jacob On 19 June, I mentioned you to be listed in the Musicians listing but I still don’t see me in there.
@jacob I am a musician in Houston TX. I play piano and organ in blues, jazz, and other popular forms. I do a little of my own writing and recording at home as well. Here are my sites. The first one has a bio.