Tips on The Final Walk-Through at Your New Home

Often, people buying a house think that the final walk-through is time for some last-minute negotiating – it is not. Nor is it a closing contingency based on the results of the final inspection. It should take place between a few days to a few hours before closing. This way, if repairs or replacements were not completed as agreed upon the seller can give credits to the buyer at closing for the work that needs completing. The final walk through is the time to make sure that everything the seller has agreed to repair or replace has been and that nothing has gone wrong with the house since you last saw it. Following are the items that should be checked as near to closing as possible.

Home Exterior:

Roof Gutters and down-spouts
Siding Porch/Deck Siding
Storm windows and screens

Home Interior:

Working Smoke/fire/carbon monixide Detectors
Water stains/leaks
Windows/Doors Fireplace
Screens are in place and not torn

Basement/Crawl Space/Garage:

Walls (Serious Cracks)
Water Penetration
Garage Door Operation


Cabinetry/Counter – chips and cracks
Run Water Appliances Floors


Check all plumbing fixtures
Check Drains for blockage and leaks

Electric System:

Operate Lights
Operate Fans
Check Outlets

Plumbing Systems:

Run water
Leaks and water stains
Operate Water Heater

Heating/Cooling System:

Run Systems

Have your real estate broker go with you on the final walk-through. This way if items that you and the seller agreed would be completed have not been finished your broker can contact the seller’s broker and have adjustments to the price made. Likewise, if something major comes to light, such as a new roof leak, your real estate broker can help in having the price adjusted to allow for repair or replacement.

The final walk-through is also a good time to make sure that the seller has provided you with appliance and other operating manuals such as for the sprinkler system, the garage door opener, the heating and cooling system and the water heater.

Exploring the Heel of Illinois, or I Don’t Even Know Where I Am

Exploring the Heel of Illinois or I Don’t Even Know Where I Am We had a destination when we started. It was the blue grass festival in Bean Blossom Indiana. This year was special because it celebrated the 100th birthday of the father of blue grass, Bill Monroe. We had attended once before but never camped so we picked a large open field hoping for some peace and quiet. This property used to be Bill Monroe’s home and farm where he lived and enjoyed making music with friends and fox hunting. We followed the bright sound of strumming banjos and guitars to the stage. Soon we were taping our toes and reminiscing about the songs our grand daddies sang even though we grew up in Indianapolis far from the hills of southern Indiana. Dr. Ralph Stanley topped off the evening with his rendition of “Oh Death, Won’t You Spare Me Over for Another Year,” made famous in the movie, Oh Brother Where Art Thou? We made our way to our tent at about ten o’clock and lay down for a peaceful sleep. Unfortunately the kids on golf carts had other ideas. They were still racing around the field, revving their engines and shining their headlights into our tent when I finally looked at my watch. It read a shocking 2:30 a.m., and we pulled up our tent stakes and headed for Nashville, Indiana and a Comfort Inn were they were doing an audit and couldn’t access the computer. We finally got to sleep around three in the morning.

The next day we were on our way to New Harmony a place where the Rappites and Owens had tried to establish Utopian societies in the 19th century, to visit my friend, an artist who paints subjects from the nineteen fifties and architecture along old highways like US 40 and Route 66. Serendipitously she found an old drive-in restaurant on state road 66 and converted it into a studio. We enjoyed seeing pictures of James Dean, Hank Williams, women in full skirts and high heels ironing with their new Steam-o-matic’s or admiring their snow white electric washing machines or ranges. One couple danced around the kitchen in front of their new refrigerator looking like they had just returned from the prom. Giant ice cream cones atop tiny restaurants promised relief from the summer heat with no worries about fat or calories. No worries about Chesterfields or Lucky Strikes either. No worries period. Just the promise of suburban bliss or Utopia 50’s style.

It is then that we strayed from the beaten path by crossing the toll bridge just a block from my friend’s studio across the Wabash into southern Illinois. Here was a different world which we had unsuspectingly entered into the previous evening when we went to hear a folksinger in Grayville. Everything seemed fine if a bit surreal. He sang of a minor league baseball player who spent time in Lynchburg and ended up with a pinched nerve. A few songs later he launched into “South of Solitude” about entering into the labyrinthine roads of southern Illinois and getting lost resulting in the lyrics, “I don’t even know where I am,” and ending with the lyrics, “I don’t even know who I am.” We didn’t know it then, but we would soon live the song. There were a grand total of nine or ten people in attendance, four of whom were some young German guys not paying too much attention to the singer. We weren’t too surprised to see them as southern Indiana abounds in descendents of German settlers and German restaurants. Travelers are never too far from a good sausage and sauerkraut dinner. But here in Grayville the waitresses seemed quite surprised and happy to see them as they actually spoke German and were young and not too hard on the eyes. We found out that they were in town to work in the coal mine for eight days and were enjoying some Grayville nightlife. The singer ended with some Dylan songs and his friend accompanied him on the harmonica. “That’s what you get for Loving Me” seemed appropriate to end the set, and the German guys smiled and said goodbye in English.

The next day, at the suggestion of my friend, we ventured across the bridge again following a vintage Airstream travel trailer, which again lent an air of the fifty’s, into surreal southern Illinois again to see the Garden of the Gods. We had seen the one of the same name in Colorado Springs and were not expecting much by comparison. But we were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful and strange looking rock formations in the Shawnee National Forest. The wilderness area is over three hundred and twenty million years old and includes over 3,300 acres of beautiful old growth forest. The sediment rock in this area is over four miles deep and the fractured bedrock has created some interesting rock formations that represent various objects like anvils, camels, and mushrooms. Next we traveled south to the Ohio River and saw Pirates’ Cave at Cave in the Rock. Two riverboats had been built and had burned here, but now there was only the ferry taking cars and trucks across the river at no charge. As we reached the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, a truck with an oversize load in the form of an earth mover was waiting to board the ferry. We were glad we had crossed in the company of small cars.

We were now on the Trail of Tears which the original Americans had been forced to take when their land was confiscated by the pioneer settlers. In 1830, Congress passed a bill permitting the removal of all native Indians living east of the Mississippi River. For the next twenty years, Indians were marched west to reservations in Arkansas and Oklahoma, including the bands of the Illini Indians in Illinois. In the Fall and Winter of 1838-39, Cherokee Indians were marched out of Georgia and the Carolinas across Southern Illinois to reservations in the west. It was estimated that two thousand to four thousand Cherokee men, women, and children died during this one thousand mile journey west. It became known as the Trail of Tears due to the many hardships and sorrows it brought to the Indians. The Buel Family told the story of their ancestor Sarah (Jones) Buel who moved to Golconda on Sept. 2, 1836. Two years later the Cherokees passed through Golconda. “My great-great-grandmother was acookin’ pumpkin an’ keepin’ an eye on her baby when she heard a strange noise outside. Before she knew it, the front door popped open and there stood two Cherokee Indian braves just alookin’ at her… They had smelled the pumpkin cookin’ as they passed by, but my grandmother had no way of knowin’ that. Finally, she understood what they wanted, and those Indians were mighty thankful when she gave them some of the cooked pumpkin. I ‘spect she was just as thankful when they left,” she added.*

Home For Sale? – Try Exterior Home-Staging For Sure-Fire Sales Results

What if I told you that there is one simple thing that every homeowner can do to siginificantly increase both the asking price, and the exterior appeal when trying to sell a home? So significant, in fact, that at an average cost of around $500, this simple decision alone can increase the asking price by as much as $10,000!!!

Home-staging is very popular these days, as it obviously gives the potential buyer better visual imagery to see what the home could look like as they may have it decorated. But, there is one big problem: 75% of homeowners make their decision BEFORE they ever enter the house. That’s a staggering statistic, but we all know that there is no second chance for a first impression. So, what can you do to ensure that your home is viewed in a positive light by passers-by, and prospective buyers?

Clean the Roof!!!

A simple roof cleaning does wonders for the exterior appearance, and selling price of your home. No one thinks ugly roof stains are attractive. But, there’s a catch: Roofs should NEVER be cleaned with a pressure washer. This is in direct violation of both ARMA and RCIA specifications for roof cleaning. Even if the prospective contractor promises to use “low pressure”, that’s still a no-no for proper roof cleaning. A pressure washer of any kind should never, ever, ever touch your roof.

In closing, one word of advice: be cautious when choosing a roof cleaning contractor, as the integrity and safety of your roof is of the utmost importance. Please don’t choose any contractor based on price alone, or you may end up paying for it in more ways than one. When it comes to roof cleaning, choose the Pros: the SoftWash Pros! Please visit our website for an approved list of roof cleaning contractors in your area.

The Use of a Deck As a Multifunctional Area

Most new (and old) houses have a deck off the side or rear of the house. In designing a new house, an owner usually just installs a deck of ‘X’ amount of space and really doesn’t think much about how the deck is going to be used. As an Architect, the deck design is just as important as the rest of the house design. In real terms, a deck can be used as additional floor space and storage, at a significantly lower cost than the rest of the house. The deck should be used as an extension of the living space, and the spaces below the deck used as storage. Here are some tips to make your deck work more for you.

1. Use a large glass doors to open to the deck. You can use sliding glass doors or swing doors. Glass doors let you see the deck when they area closed. Have the opening at least 4 feet wide (minimum) or wider. On my house I have a 12′ siding glass door, which opens in the middle for a 6 foot wide opening. It allows free flow of people between the Great Room and the deck and gives a sense of Great Room and Deck being the same room.

2. Don’t skimp on the size of your deck–make it even larger than your Great Room or Living Room. Think of the deck as an additional Living Room, with couches, chairs, dining tables, TV’s, stereos. In other words, Think of it as living space to be used in the milder temperatures of the year. My Great Room is 22’x34′. The deck is 20’x38′, with 20’x28′ covered with a roof.

3. Don’t have a step between the deck and the house 1st floor. Instead have the deck flush with the house. This gives sense that the deck is an extension of the home.

4. Put a roof over the deck. The roof can be a canopy, metal roof, or an extension of the house roof (wood framing, asphalt shingles). Having a roof over the deck area makes it more “livable” when the sun is out. It also gives a “human” scale to deck. A roof overhead makes it feel psychologically more comfortable, putting a ceiling above where you sit on the deck, rather than open sky. A roof also makes the deck usable when it rains.

5. Use drywall and carpet instead of siding and decking.. If you put a roof over the deck, install moisture resistant drywall or “flat” siding on the home exterior wall and indoor/outdoor carpet on pressure treated plywood rather than expensive floor decking. It is less expensive, and gives the deck the look of being inside the house rather being outside.

6. The deck area and the furniture should be flexible. You shouldn’t cram a lot of furniture on it, but allow for people to filter out of the house onto the deck, or change the arrangement of furniture for large gatherings. My favorite use of the deck is for birthday parties. My son may have 30 guests arrive, so we rearrange the furniture and set up 4 long tables with chairs around. It keeps the Great Room open for guests to move around, and put dining on the deck.

7. Use plants, and wall hangings on the deck, just like you would in the house. Just make sure they are more “weatherproof” than normal. It will give the deck the illusion the of being part of the house

8. The deck can have shaded areas and sunny areas. Not all the deck needs to covered. Keep a small area uncovered for some of the in-between times of the year. In Indiana, it’s warm-sunny in the summer and cold-snowy in the winter. But in Spring and Fall, it’s in-between these 2 extremes. Sitting in the sun on the deck in March at 55 degrees is wonderful. The warm sun shine makes it feel like summer. Also if you have a grille, you don’t want it under the roof. Letting the smoke lift into the sky is more preferable for most people rather than letting filter into the house.

9. Change the function of the deck as seasons change. How the deck is used in spring, summer, and fall should be considered in your design. For our house, in the summer, The swimming pool is set up in the sunny area of the deck, while seating and dining is in the shaded area of the deck. In fall and spring, the pool is removed, and the seating and dining tables are in the sunny areas of the deck. In the winter, the seating and dining are kept under the deck roof to protect it from the harsh winter.

10 The deck railing and wall under the deck can be solid. Having the railing and space below the deck floor covered in the same siding as the house (even brick), rather than open fencing has a couple of advantages. First, it makes the house look bigger from the street. It visually seems like house has grown larger ins size. A solid railing (3′-6″ in height) allows privacy. If you sit down, people on the street can’t see you, but if you stand up, you can converse with your neighbors. A railing at 3′-6″ is also perfect “leaning” height for most people, you can rest your elbows on the top of the wall at this height.

11. The area under the deck change be used for storage. Having the space below the deck floor covered in siding allows for storage under the deck to be hidden from view. If the 1st floor of the house is 6 feet above grade, the deck effectively becomes a shed and is a perfect place for the storage of things normally in a garage. Having a roof above the deck also keeps weather off items under the deck. This is the place for bicycles, lawn mowers, scrap lumber, saw horses, and other bulky items normally found in a garage. Most people want a 3 car garage simply to have 1 bay of the garage for storage. Instead of building a third garage bay, put those items under the deck.

The Indy 500 Festival

The 500 Festival is a non-profit organization which, in its own words, serves “to advocate and celebrate the history, heritage and legacy of the Indianapolis 500”. Since 1957 this organization, through its members and affiliates, has organized parades, dances, and community events in order to help shine the light on the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The Indy 500, in many ways, has helped shape the destiny of Indianapolis and its citizens. The founders of the festival were very much aware of the symbiotic relationship between the citizens of Indianapolis and the world’s most famous auto race.

The 500 Festival events are expected to draw nearly 500,000.00 spectators and participants in 2010. People from around the country and around the world show up in Indianapolis each year to be a part of these very special festivities. The four main events which make up the festival are the Mini Marathon (May 8th, 2010), the 500 Festival Community Day (May 26th, 2010), the 500 Festival Parade (May 29, 2010), and the Snake Pit Ball (May 29, 2010).

Each year the Festival designates a theme by which participants and guests can rally together in honor of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. In 2010 the theme will be “Embrace the Pace” in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It is not, however, the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Because the race did not run during World Wars I and II, a total of six years passed without any action at the world famous oval. This year will be the 94th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

The Mini Marathon (May 8th, 2010) is the largest mini in the United States and the fifth largest running event in the world. Nearly 90 thousand people show up to this event where 35,000 competitors roll, walk and run the 13.1 miles, which partially navigates the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway before returning to the beautiful downtown streets of Indianapolis.

The 500 Festival Community Day (May 26th, 2010) held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a family friendly event, where children are not only welcome, but expected. Drive the family truckster around the world famous track where the legends of racing made their mark. Listen to world famous bands perform live on stage. Tour the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. Tour the race care transport trailers. See the official timing and scoring booth in the Pagoda. Photo opportunities and autographs from championship racecar drivers are all part of the fun waiting for you and your family at Community Day at the IMS. Tickets for the event can be purchased at gates #2 and #10. Adult tickets are $7.00 and children under the age of 6 are free. The event begins at 9:00 A.M. and runs until 6:00 P.M. Don’t miss your chance to join in all the fun.

The 500 Festival Parade (May 29, 2010), held on the Saturday immediately prior to the 500 Mile Race, electrifies the streets of downtown Indianapolis as the stars of Indy join with other celebrities from around the country and around the world to celebrate the worlds greatest spectacle in racing. Bleachers and reserved seating are available and secured by the purchase of a ticket. Tickets for adults can be purchased for $18.00 for reserved chairs or $14.50 for reserved bleacher seats.

The Snake Pit Ball (May 29, 2010), an annual event taking place on the eve of race day, is a star studded black tie gala held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. Beginning at 6:30 on May 29, 2010, celebrities and fans will dine and dance the night away to the music of the fabulous Grammy Award Winning trio, The Pointer Sisters. This event is hosted by Paul and Cindy Skjodt, owners of the Indiana Ice minor league hockey team. Phone (317) 927-3378 for ticket information.

FHA 203k – 5 Tips to Make Your New Roof Last Longer

Whether it’s home improvements or house repairs or full-on rehabilitation, the FHA 203k is a great option. The mortgage loan option covers new purchases OR refinancing. Let’s take a quick look at what the FHA 203k is:

A home buyer can finance a house and many repairs, renovations or improvements right into the monthly payments, amortizing the work over the life of that home mortgage loan. The great thing is that with interest rates where they are right now, it will only add about $6 a month for every $1,000 in repairs or renovations you finance. That means a $10,000 roof will only add about $60 a month to the house payment. Then, when you decide to sell, that cost stays with the house.

Some of the work covered by the FHA 203k (Full or Streamline) includes these projects:

New roof
New deck
Waterproofing the basement
New windows
New kitchen
Interior paint, wallpaper and flooring
Several other projects

Let’s get back the project of a roof. Whether it’s simply replacing old shingles with new ones, or tearing apart the entire roof, wood and all, you’ll want to make sure you get the most money out this new roof. After all, you wouldn’t want to go through all the trouble again in 5 or 10 years. So here’s a look at a few maintenance steps you can take every season to make that roof last longer after the FHA 203k work is done.

Keep the roof clean. Keep twigs, leaves and other debris off the roof. Be especially vigilant after a storm. Make sure no branches fell on the roof from surrounding trees. As these wither, they can damage the integrity of the shingles and wood underneath.

Clean your gutters. You can get out the ol’ ladder in the spring and fall or find a gutter topping to keep stuff out. Either way, keeping those gutters clear and flowing will make sure no water gets backed up into your roof. Water in your gutters can make them heavy and rip them off your roof. It can also lead to leaks in your walls and water in the basement. I’ve even seen some houses with so much junk in the gutters, it looks like they’re growing trees!

Speaking of trees… Trim them! This goes along with the previous tips. Keeping the trees trimmed will help keep the roof and gutters clean.

Get rid of the moss. Keep your roof dry and moss-free to help make sure the shingles and wood underneath stay good for a long time. A little bleach and water mixture usually helps get rid of the moss, or call a professional if it won’t come clean

Where it snows – prevent ice dams. Preventing ice dams begins with keeping the gutters clean. When snow melts and has no where to go because your gutters are clogged, it build up, re-freezes and creates ice dams. So it goes back to keeping the gutters clean. Another way to help is to get a snow rake for the roof and keep the snow build-up to a minimum. You can also find snow melt cables that heat up and keep the snow and ice from building up (we do not endorse these products, because we’re not part of the inspection team or safety crew that makes sure they won’t catch anything on fire – but they sure look cool!).

Recommended Roofing Materials for Various Roof Pitches

Roof pitch plays an integral role in the type of material you choose for your home or property. In fact, it is one of the most influential factors. Continue reading to learn why, as well as, which roof materials work best with which pitches.

You wouldn’t think that something like pitch would matter when it comes to choosing a roofing material for your home. However, it is actually one of the most important factors to consider in the roof replacement process. There are numerous material options on the market, from metal roofing and asphalt composite, to built-up roofing, rubber roofing, wood shakes, and more. Choosing one can feel quite overwhelming, so narrowing down your options according to pitch is an excellent way to take control and find a viable starting place.

Measuring Your Pitch

Roof pitch must be measure by a professional. You should not grab a ladder and attempt to spread a tape measure across the surface of your roof. This is incredibly dangerous for anyone who is not experienced in roof work. Instead, ask your trusted roofing contractor to provide you information regarding your roof’s specific pitch measurements, and then use their findings to match a suitable roofing material for your home or property.

Roof Pitch Values

Roof pitches are read as a fraction or ratio, usually using the number 12 as the denominator. The numerator is the vertical height of the roof, and the denominator is the horizontal length (i.e. 4/12 = for every 12 horizontal feet, the roof drops (or rises) 4 feet).

Here are some recommended roofing materials for some of the more common roof pitches in Indiana:

1:12 to 3:12

These pitch values are in the lower range. Conventional shingles are not recommended for low pitched roofing systems because of the risk of moisture accumulation, which can lead to a long list of roof damages, including mold, mildew, algae, and moss growth. Low-pitched roofs have reduced water draining capabilities, which prevents shingles from being able to dry out thoroughly. Instead, you would need a water-tight seal, which can be achieved with a built-up and “torch-down” roofing, or standing seam metal roofs.

4:12 to 12:12

In this range, roofs are not too flat or too steep. They are comfortably in the middle range. For this reason, the most suitable materials for roof pitches in this range are asphalt and composite shingles. These are popular for a number of reasons, particularly for their cost-effectiveness, ease of installation, and low maintenance.

5:12 to 12:12

For these values, it is common to see wood shakes or slate shingles. They are more inclined to leakages since they do not lay completely flat or secure tightly together, which is why they are not recommended for flatter roof types. This means they are best for steep sloped tops with good water drainage.

Solar, For an Indiana Couple, is a Safe Investment in the Future

Janice and David Isaacs recently had a solar photovoltaic system designed and installed for their home located in Georgetown, IN. The 4.29 kW system consisting of 22 solar panels mounted on their roof-top is a sound, safe, and smart investment for the couple. Not only is the system decreasing their dependency on coal but it is also saving them money, as evidenced by their electric meter running backwards. “That’s just a neat feeling”, commented David. A former math and science teacher, he had been researching alternative energy years ago, but the financial case was difficult to make at that time. The couple’s main goal was to lower their “carbon imprint” AND “save money”.

Currently, solar energy is a sound financial investment because conventional fuel costs have been increasing steadily for the past decade. The recent 12.1% rate increase imposed by E.ON’s LG&E is a good example of this trend. Not only are prices increasing, but the environmental impact of conventional coal-generated power imposes a hidden cost burden on society as a whole. These hidden costs are not typically considered in financial comparisons between renewables and conventional power sources. Measures such as net-metering, the current 30% Federal Tax Credit, and RECS make the investment more attractive, and renewable energy lacks all of the social costs associated with conventional fuels.

A long-term investment in solar energy is sure to pay off sooner rather than later with the anticipated rise in energy costs. Just across the river in the neighboring state of Kentucky, Louisville residents are wrestling with the LG&E rate hike. The Isaacs and other customers like them have decided not to tackle future rate hikes and the uncertainty of energy costs. Instead, they have decided to essentially lock in their next 30 years of energy bills by installing a photovoltaic system now. They will see a return on their investment that will be on par with a fixed income retirement fund. With time, just as with stocks but with considerably less risk involved, their initial investment will provide a Return On their initial Investment.

The Isaacs were pleasantly surprised by how quickly their Indiana utility, Duke Energy, responded to their request to grid-tie their solar system to the utility. Duke Energy has been allowing customer to net-meter their solar and wind systems. Net-metering is a policy that allows customers that have grid-tied systems to receive credit for their excess, unused electricity generated by renewables. Net-metering helps customers of renewable energy systems receive a better return on their investment. Recently, Indiana rejected a comprehensive net-metering bill that would require all municipalities and local utility co-operatives to offer net-metering in Indiana.

In addition, the Federal 30% credit for renewable energy systems goes a long way to helping reducing the actual costs of these systems. This credit essentially reduces the system cost by 30% in the form of a federal tax credit at the end of the tax year. For example a $30,000 solar system will result in a $9,000 tax credit. The savings don’t stop there, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) also help increase rate of return on a solar investment. One solar REC represents 1 mega-watt hour worth of solar electricity and is valuable to solar home owners for the following reason: large-scale electric suppliers are required to supply a certain percentage of their electricity from solar. They can do so by building large-scale solar facilities or by purchasing solar RECS from customers who generate solar power. This creates an entirely separate and ongoing revenue stream for the residential renewable energy system owner. The customer has the option of taking an up-front lump sum payment to help reduce the upfront cost of the system or quarterly payments for the term of the contract with the REC aggregator company. In either case, the impact is significant.

Finally, most people don’t stop to think about the social costs they are paying for conventional fuels which include toxic emissions, pollution of waterways, and military costs required to protect our fuel interests around the world. Renewables inherently don’t have this burden.

The investment in solar made by the Isaacs, and many other folks with long-term outlooks will be financially, socially and morally rewarding for years to come.

Toetripping or Tiptoeing Through the Toe of Indiana

My friend moved from Terre Haute to New Harmony. “Good move,” I thought partly because I have always loved New Harmony, the site of an early experiment in communal living in the United States and partly because she found a good deal on an old drive-in restaurant which she converted into an art studio and living space. I decided to spend a couple of days visiting her and other friends in the toe of the state. It was only a four-hour drive from Indianapolis but seemed like a trip back through several decades of time.

We had dinner at the New Harmony Inn, beer from a local brewery, cheeseburgers and fries and checked out the Hoosier Salon artists in a main-street gallery. If the inn and its menu seemed time capsuled, we stepped back a few more years when we headed for the big event in town that night, a Hank Williams concert. In reality, it was a concert by the group HankeringforHank, a Hank impersonator who asked if anyone had heard Tony Bennett sing, “Your Cheating Heart” on the radio lately. A couple of jokes about the red G-string on the bass and going to the topless church down the street, seemed right on key, and everyone joined in for some heartfelt gospel singing at the end. We left longing for the “good ole days” before television and rap… but the Rappites might have disagreed. Like, “we dig socialism, but don’t you know man, we can’t agree on nothin’ so let’s just jam.”

New Harmony was founded in 1814 by the German religious group known as the Harmonists or the Rappites. When the Harmonists decided to move back to Pennsylvania, it was sold to Robert Owen, the Welsh utopian thinker and social reformer and William McClure. Owen recruited members to the community, but a number of factors led to an early breakup of the commutarian experience. It is easy to understand both his idealistic approach and the reason for its demise. As he himself admitted, “… It appeared that it was nature’s own inherent law of diversity that had conquered us… our ‘united interests’ were directly at war with the individualities of persons and circumstances and the instinct of self-preservation… and it was evident that just in proportion to the contact of persons or interests, so are concessions and compromises indispensable.” (Periodical Letter II 1856)

The community then became a scientific (entomology and geology) and religious center which it has remained to this day. It has a little over nine hundred residents and many of the old Harmonist buildings still stand and have been restored. Paul Tillich, the renowned theologian and religious theorist, is buried across from the roofless church, open to God and the universe. His words, “Man and nature belong together in their created glory – in their tragedy and in their salvation” still ring true today. The maze remains to encourage contemplation, and gardens, and art galleries enhance the town’s beauty. The search for knowledge is well served by The Working Men’s Institute, established in 1838, by William Maclure. It is the oldest continuously operating library in the state of Indiana and also houses a small museum.

I wanted to experience time travel on this trip and also try to “Keep on the Sunny Side”. Hank may have enjoyed this song sung by his contemporary musicians, the Carter Family. I must admit that even this experience had a downside as my friend had a raging tooth ache, and it was about 98 degrees on the “sunny side” of the street. We enjoyed our visit anyway, and after admiring all of her beautiful paintings, I set out enthusiastically the next morning to see the rest of the toe.

As I headed out of town I was soon humming Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning as the sun was coming down like butterscotch in southern Indiana in summer, and the humidity added to the sticky metaphor. As I sped through the green countryside, a beautiful yellow swallowtail butterfly flew in front of my car. Unfortunately it hit my windshield and lay flapping in the road behind me. Everything else seemed cheery. My friend seemed centered and settled in her new studio, and I was headed toward Santa Claus, Indiana to celebrate Christmas in July. I planned to visit my daughter’s mother-in-law. This lady had been a successful business woman who decided to buy several acres of wooded land outside Santa Claus and live there with her three sons and their families.

She was no doubt familiar with New Harmony, but maybe not its demise. The sons did not agree with their mother or the wives with their husbands and moved away. After all, if the Rappites and the Owens couldn’t do it, how could they. I headed down highway 165 not knowing for sure where her farm was located and reluctant to ask my daughter who preferred separation of her relatives and wisely so. Blue cornflowers, purple cow weed, and white Queen Ann’s lace adorned the sides of the highways. Violet thistle and yellow goldenrod fringed the edges of the green quilted fields. I was mesmerized by the passing landscape and unable to slow my momentum through the honeyed morning even to stop for blackberries, corn, squash and melons advertised on a handmade sign.

My mood was broken by a more ominous sign that read, “Prepare to Stop.” A few miles down the road I saw the reason for the sign, a monstrous structure towering above the park, it’s top lost in the stratosphere. I was approaching Holiday World, and this was the world’s longest water coaster. I knew because my seven-year-old grandson had recently informed me with the greatest authority that he had been on it. I was horrified and asked how this could have occurred. Apparently, the last time he had been to the doctor to be measured he was forty-eight inches tall. Upon hearing this much-anticipated fact, he whipped out an advertising brochure and informed the doctor that he was now tall enough to ride the water slide at Holiday World.

I stopped at a filling station for a soft drink or a pop as they are called here. It is not my drink of choice, but somehow looked irresistible when imbibed by a jolly rosy-cheeked Santa Claus. I tried to figure out how to get to my daughter’s mother-in-law’s farm using the map. I didn’t really believe that I could find it, and eventually had to give up and call my daughter. After several tries on my cell phone which was rapidly losing power, I heard her voice demanding, “Do you have an emergency or something?” Well it seemed so to me as I was starving, my phone was dying and I was driving around in 98 degree heat in another era, so I screamed, “Yes!”. She told me she couldn’t remember how to get to the property, but she did remember a county road and some Wapati elk and buffalo across the street. This seemed like valuable information to me in my pathetic state and recalling another 60’s classic by Janis Joplin, I decided to “try just a little bit harder.”

Her directions proved helpful, and I was soon seated in an air-conditioned house with a glass of lemonade, hearing a tearful Donna describe how her beloved dog had died of the heat on the way to the vet the day before. I was deciding if the lemonade and air-conditioning balanced out this new tragedy when I was hit with another one. My grandson had fallen in the pond while fishing from the dock during his last visit and had been covered with pond slime. The next topic of conversation was about the coyotes on her property who frequently send the female coyote out to attract the cute little male house dogs, and then the male coyotes pounce on the dogs. Wiley Coyote is alive and well in Santa Clause land. As I headed out of town a giant Santa Claus beamed at me from one side of the highway while a small madonna smiled benevolently from the other.

My next stop was Adyeville, once a thriving town which used its nearby creek to ship cattle out of the countryside and down to the Ohio River. It now consists of two houses and an old store which another friend of mine calls home. He was retired from teaching sociology, and we enjoy discussing politics and philosophy. He wasn’t home so I discussed politics and water quality in the area with his donkey, Third and patted his dog, Second. Third was concerned about the state of the environment but Second was only concerned about enjoying long walks in the countryside. I think my friend was First but I am not sure as Second or Third might have been first. Third often came into the store/house uninvited. Abbot and Costello of “who’s on first fame” were also contemporaries of Hank.

Then I travelled up the highway to French Lick, Indiana’s Historic Playground. On the way I say a sign that said, “Eat here! Get gas and worms too. Beer(deer) hunters welcome.” Wow, what a place! I was becoming elated again until I saw a dead deer on the roadside which brought me back to roadkill reality. A sign for tomatoes and one for web design juxtaposed the old German agri-culture and the modern American cyber-culture on the side of the country road. But entrepreneurship was alive and well! And corn was everywhere, in small gardens, in yards, in giant fields by the roadside and next to the roofless church in New Harmony where it was framed by the stone church windows like a goddess in a shrine. Iowa may produce the most corn in the country but Indiana has Orville Reddenbacher of popcorn fame and the motto, “There’s more than corn in Indiana.”

Patoka Lake, in the state park of the same name, where I had spent many happy hours camping with my family, came into view. I’m sure the original native American inhabitants of the land enjoyed this area as well. Its Indian name means “log on bottom.” Its surface area is 8,000 acres, it has many campgrounds and hosts many sports related activities. It is also home to many varieties of birds, fish, animals, and insects. I had once camped there during a year of the cicadas or seven-year locusts. The roar from the woods sounded like a massive factory working the night shift, but was just a huge choir of cicadas that had been waiting for seven years to sing

When I arrived in French Lick, the first thing I saw was the French Lick Hotel and new casino surrounded by a moat of water. This is the only way it could have existed in this mostly landlocked state, with only a small shoreline at the point of Lake Michigan at the north and the Ohio River at the south. The state has a split personality when it comes to casinos which, by law, must be on a river or lake if they really have to be here at all. They are the work of the devil, but so is Pluto water which has been in French Lick from the beginning. So here it was with its moat, surrounded by little white frame churches with disapproving faces. They would rather have used the water for holier purposes.

The Pluto Water factory sold the mineral water in bottles with a picture of the devil on it that supposedly cured all ills, except maybe gambling. Al Capone traveled here by train from Chicago in the 30’s and wealthy families came from Europe to take the water. The West Baden hotel right next door had the largest free spanning dome in the world for many years and was billed as the Carlsbad of America. Visitors from around the world still come to French Lick now that the West Baden Hotel has been restored and is part of the French Lick Resort Casino Complex, a giant undertaking, but worth it to keep this unusual town on the map. The gilded hotel roof gleamed in the afternoon sun like a veritable Pleasure Dome whose outside is the opposite of topless, but inside, who knows.


Jobs in Construction: Indiana Opportunities

Construction in Indiana has increased over the years. After the recent recession, it has been more than free to accept new workers in this field. There are a lot of opportunities to be explored in this field. If you want to have construction employment in Indiana, you have come to the right place.

In this article, we shall tell you what’s hot in Indiana construction work and how to get hold of these jobs. But first let us know a bit more about this state.

The State

Between the time period 2004 and 2014, it has been estimated that there would be around 302,600 jobs in the state. Out of this growth, construction and extraction work is supposed to make up around 12%. There has been a sudden flurry of development work in this state which is expected to believe in this growth. For starters, Honda has decided to open up a center in Greensburg. This will be one of a kind center with all the modern facilities.

Toyota is expected to start building automobiles at Subaru in Lafayette. For this a new factory is going to be built soon. Then there is the prospect of a Nestle plant at Anderson and American Commercial Lines at Jeffersonville. These industries will lead to a lot of direct and indirect jobs for construction in the state.

If you are a newbie and want to start your career in construction, you can well start it by being a construction worker for any of these new sites.

If on the other hand, you have some experience and want something a little better, then perhaps you could sign up with the Major Moves Initiative. This initiative is expected a lot of jobs on construction that require high skill and expertise. The growth in extraction and construction will outrun the overall average of the state.


Construction work in Indiana has increased lately. You can work as a Project Manager or Superintendent in construction companies at Indianapolis. This place has a lot of companies which are also on the lookout for smart and intelligent Project Coordinators. Crown Point is another favorite place for Indiana construction jobs.

Do you have experience? Do you have a specialization? Well then you can work as an estimator or water technician in this place. Another job of construction in Indiana which has become very popular recently is roofing. Lafayette has a lot of companies which are in the search for roofers and other specialty trade experts.

If you are a service technician, then you should opt for Indianapolis as this is one of the largest cities in Indiana and one of the favorite sites for construction work in the state. This is the place which also has a high demand for machine operators and experienced construction workers throughout the year.

This is unlike any other state where the construction work is mostly seasonal. Muncie is a good place to look out for jobs in fabrication supervision. Greenwood and Carmel have a high demand of truck drivers for transport of construction materials. If you have no degree in construction, you can well begin as a truck driver in this field.

Construction in Indiana is stipulated to rise more so make sure you have a job in this field.