The House & Animals at 1019

1019 Home & Family Sitemap

Rev. ... 2002-02-20, 2003-11-08, 2006-04-26, -09-06, 2007-01-04, 2009-03-24;
2012-07-29, -10-30; 2016-02-23, 2016-09-19

Hello....I am Mike Firth and I live just east of downtown Dallas, Texas in a older part of town. My wife is a blind person who (as this was first written) works downtown and I at Elliott's Hardware, the best hardware store in town (and probably in Greater Texas, which has since closed that big location.). I was a self-employed independent computer programmer from 1977 until I finally got burned out in 1996. I got my job at Elliott's because I have done some serious home rebuilding in the past, including leveling the house, re-roofing it, rebuilding the garage, and installing new sewer and water as well as new electrical service and wiring. I do some metal work and blacksmithing and I like cooking and having plants and birds around. My primary hobby is glassblowing.

This page is mostly for sharing photos with relatives and friends. We live east of downtown Dallas in an area of homes built in the 1920's that is slowly going back to ownership, mostly Hispanic, after years of increasing rental places with absentee landlords.


Front of 1019 Martinique

The house
is not too large. The tree growing in the front yard is a native pecan, the second in the location, the first having been knocked down by the neighbor across the street backing out of the drive without brakes. At the date of the picture, I began working on reinstalling a split bamboo water trail around the tree, water being pumped from below the rocks and falling back on them. Barely visible to the right of the tree is a vertical brown post that will support some water drippers and glass spinners.
The wheel chair ramp was added on short notice after our friend Suzanne Whalen fell into a manhole on Valentine's Day weekend, 2000, and has now become fairly permanent as her recovery is limited. The short ramp near the steet sidewalk was added after she got a motorized wheelchair and got back her retrained guide dog, Caddo,. 2001-05-18

1019 with good date (original picture source) of 2000-08
Note growth of tree later in previous year and huge growth of rosemary next to guy walking around car. At the end of May 2001, a post was added to the corner of the yard after these guys drove across it several feet in, you can see clipping the yard in the image above. The small white wood ramp above was later replaced with concrete.  2003-08-16 and the long ramp has since been replaced with one twice as long for less steepness and to repair the rotting plywood surface. And because Mike's mobility scooter for his Lyme disease neuropathy.

January 2008 (below)
Front view of house 2008The vertical white line to the right of the sidewak is actually a sign put out monthly to remind of the 3 Monday curb trash pickup to reduce people starting to pile at curb a week or two early. On the porch to the right of the door is a box to receive packages too which serves as a seat. Under the window to its right is a heavy diaper pail for baggies used to pickup after dogs. 2016-02-24

House at 1019 Martinique, late February 2016

About eight years after the image above, the house looks much the same with the exception that the tree has gotten larger and the screen on the front door in in the midst of replacement. 
But in fact, a major repair and repaint was done after a hail storm in 2010 (?) which resulted in a new roof, replacement of all gutters, and total repaint after removing paint down to nearly bare with lead paint protections and coating before repaint. Almost all paid by insurance company after handling by contractor.
Driveway still not paved. No car at this time and none expected. Ancient brick section of sidewalk has sunk under ramp and needs to be either pulled and rebedded or pulled and concrete installed. 2016-02-24

Aerial view of 1019.

This is an aerial view of the house - enlarged and cleaned up in a graphics program.  1019 is the white roof centered in the image with the grey roofed smaller garage behind it.  You can see the original by going to the City of Dallas interactive maps or follow this link and type in 1019 Martinique Ave. or try this which points to [which Front Page finds too long to hide.]


House dimensions - outline.This is the plan of the house, a drawing first taken from a CADD layout that has lots more details and then the letters were added when we were discussing the replacement of the heating and AC.
  About 1100 square feet, D is doors, W is big windows (5 feet tall and 28-36 inches wide) while w is smaller windows.  The upper 4 rooms are Office, Bathroom, Bedroom and Utility room [left to right] while the lower 3 are Living room, Dining room and Kitchen.  All the rooms except the kitchen and utility remain pretty much as we found them. The utility now has the freezer, washer, dryer, and hot water heater, plus it lost two big windows.  The dimensions are given and if you can't read them, the zig zag is 1 foot on a side. Basically 24.5 by 40.5 feet not including the full width open front porch..  The lot is 50 by 75 and it runs at a slight diagonal (see the line at the bottom of the image - the house is square to the street. 2003-11-08.

This is Gigi's newest Seeing Eye guide dog, River, a female Goldador who went through training with Gigi in February 2015

Gigi's newest dog, in February 2016, River

This is Gigi's 8th Seeing Eye guide dog, Preston, who arrived in September 2015 and was returned in December. He was her first boy dog and first failure. Failures are rare. Each student and dog are carefully matched and sometimes a matched dog will not work out while still in class and be exchanged. There was actually a discussion about Preston and Gigi & her instructor decided to go ahead and both regret the change was not done.
The problem was that while he was one of the best street workers she had, when not in harness he scavanged things, including stuff that could kill him. This included chewing off the edge of a foam mattress cover getting a couple of quarts in his stomach that he vomited up, a sock caught just as he was about to swallow it, and a sharp pointed wire retainer. He could not be released in the house. 

Gigi's 8th dog, in September 2015, Preston

This is Gigi's 7th Seeing Eye guide dog, Elana, who arrived home on 27 October 2005.  Although she looks more like a Labrador retriever than not, officially she is a goldador - a cross between a golden and Labrador.  She is heavier than Gigi's two previous dogs at about 65 pounds and older, having been born Sept 23 2003.   This is her official Seeing Eye picture. She was retired in January 2015 after turning back from working a sidewalk and going to a car to ride.
While she sleeps alot, at times she belies her age as seen in this YouTube video










Gigi's 7th dog, in October 2005, Elana

And her Seeing Eye dog through 2005's summer, was Dolly, shown below in her official SE picture. Dolly is much smaller (under 50#) than Bianca, who was smaller than the previous dogs. Dolly was Gigi's 6th dog. She died very suddenly of an embolism, being fine looking at 6:15 am and gone by 6:45 am.





Dolly, Gigi's 6th Seeing Eye guide dog

Gigi had a Seeing Eye dog named Bianca, retired as a pet, and this is she in the back yard.  She was put to sleep when movements became uncertain and painful.







Bianca, Seeing Eye Dog #5

Dolly was Gigi's lightest dog, starting under 50 pounds and later just over. She liked sitting in Gigi's lap as shown (awkwardly) here. Gigi's face is so red because at the time of this picture, she had spent the day selling NFB chocolate bars in front of Elliott's with other people from the chapter staying shorter parts of the day.






Dolly the dog in Gigi's lap



Blackie showed up in the backyard rubbing against my legs one day. She was taken for shots, etc., and scheduled to be fixed, but upon examination, she already had. Very skittish at the start, she now sleeps on the bed and allows petting and ear scratching, but not happy with picking up or cuddling. Will not play with toys or chase strings, etc. Kills mice and rats and brings them to us in the house. Fights off visiting cats, noisily.  She is not actually all black, but has a few square inches of white on her belly, which I didn't see for quite a while after she showed up. Thought of renaming, but she sort of comes to this one and I can't come up with a better name. She comes outside and follows me around as I work.

Blackie, the cat who walked into the yard and wound her way around Mike's legs.

2003 with Dolly the Seeing Eye Dog



Blackie disappeared in June 2006 and since she has all her tags and is microchipped, I may get her back, but as I abandoned hope in September these little beasts showed up about 6 feet from where I was standing when Blackie twined around my feet.  At first they ran away, but on Labor Day it rained and they were huddled in a soggy mass on the plastic water valve cover and allowed me to pick them up and take them inside.  Washed up nicely and inhaled food.  Saw the vet on Tuesday.

They are about 4 weeks old, so I have designated 5 August as their birthday.  The orange one is dubbed Amber and is a boy, the one with the neat line down its nose is a girl, dubbed Ebony and the mottled one is named Marble.  Ebony is amazingly symmetrical, the black making a mask over the head before a white shawl over the shoulders and a neat white path down the belly with a centered blob right where a cummerbund would be.  They are about 11 ounces each.

I don't know at the moment if I will keep all three.  Amber and Ebony are well matched for assertiveness, but Marble is usually the last in line, hanging back and watching although after two days, she is starting to participate in wrestling matches, etc.  They were introduced to Elana this morning and things were reasonable on both sides. More pictures here.  2007-01-04

We kept Marble, now renamed Spots, and gave away the other two, now named Punch and Judy to a fellow volunteer at Radio and Reading Resource (below)

three kittens montage looking out
three kittens feeding
Later in 2006.  More Kitten on monitor sitting over image of kitten playing with screen
Spots and Elana, 2007 October


Beginning in January 2006, I began volunteering at Radio Reading and Recording, by editing the Friday Newspaper of the Air which involves cutting up the Dallas and Ft. Worth daily newspapers and arranging the stories for four other people to read in pairs for an hour each.  It takes me 3-4 hours to do the job.  Picture taken in March.  I am also maintaining the web site for Blind Ambitions Groups where Gigi is doing office work.. 2006-04-26  So here is a rare picture of me taken by someone else.  Blind Ambitions and G and I have gone our separate ways with some dismay involved. 2009-03-24


Whirlygig, simple bar, on post in back yard (click for bigger view)This post was installed in the backyard so I can fool around with things moving up in the air. The center post is 12' tall and the supports go 42" into the ground. In the right hand photo, it is rigged with an 8' 1x2 with a lead weight at one end. It moved very irregularly and drove the birds crazy.

Now the post has a welded triangle frame about 6' tall that I hope to sag glass to install in the frame, clear first for testing, then colored. As shown below, for the time being I have sewn up a ripstop nylon panel to provide some color and a windmill blade. Not especially clear in the picture is that the two left hand tips are not level. They are almost over each other when this is laying on the ground, so the panel is at an angle to the bearing and the whole rotates in the wind.


Whirly jig frame in backyard with clear glass installedThis is the frame with glass finally installed in it. See more details at Whirljig.htm and other projects at Projects.htm





Hail Storm - On July we were in the path of a hail storm that sliced down from north central Dallas county, over the Northpark Shopping center, the Swiss Avenue historic district and Lakewood Country club damaging roofs and taking out car windows and other glass, doing an estimated several hundred million dollars in damage.  The huge outdoor display of Dale Chihuly's glass at the arboretum suffered one small loss in a display insured for $26 million.  Our insurance company set our loss at over $10,000.  I also lost several of my glass whirlies linked above.

Images above and below from during the hail fall.  Although it is not clear, at the extreme right of the street image below right is a splash a couple of feet high in the far gutter from a big chunk. 2012-07-29

A couple of larger pieces collected and kept in freezer for a while, with a quarter. Gutter damage above and roof damage at left. Roof damage was quite variable, this being about the worst. 2012-07-29

Mike's sagged glass whirly blades after hail storm hits.This somewhat blurry picture, taken while it was still raining shows the damage to the glass whirly outside my office window. All the various glass objects and my solar tower mirrors were lost in the storm. 2012-10-30