Friday, October 31, 2003

Big family... not one arsonist!

The attic closet is almost finished.  I can't wait to get the clothes and all the stuff that was in the attic out of the bedroom and back in there.  We also have all the bathroom fixtures from the master bathroom in there with us too... we can't move.  And I can't find anything.  Just when I thought I couldn't get anymore frustrated... we had a flood.  In the only room in the entire house that didn't need a lot of work.  I turned on the water to the hose bib outside the front door so that the work crews could wash off their tools.  Apparently the pipe to that hose bib had frozen some years before and it had burst.  No one ever fixed it... they just turned it off and left it that way.  Now the living room was totally flooded.  The rugs, padding and sub-flooring over the cement slab are soaked.  We had to open up the wall to locate the leak to replace the pipe.  All the furniture had to be piled up in drier parts of the room.  After I called the plumber  I noticed that the garbage disposer wasn't working.  While he was installing a new one he discovered that the pipe that drained the kitchen sink must have rusted through at some point and all the water from the dishwasher, sink and garbage disposer was not going down the drain.  It was actually flooding the storage room beneath it.  The indoor/outdoor carpeting and wooden sub-flooring of that room is now completely rotting and mildewing.  The siding guys informed us that all of the outside hose bibs have to be removed and replaced because they are too close to the walls for siding to fit around them.  So... the kitchen sink pipe was replaced and I got a new garbage disposer.  All the exterior hose bibs are being replaced along with the pipe that burst in the living room wall.  My son and I pulled out all of the carpet and sub-flooring damaged by the flood.  Now the master bedroom, bathroom and living room are all practically unusable. But I have 2 really beautiful windows to look out of.  I can see the EP Henry Stone Wall... and that annoying weather station across the street.  I have a large family.  Not one arsonist.  Damn.  I could be on a cruise right now or having a face lift.  

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Window shopping isn't what it used to be....

There were 3 separate winows in the living room.  They were large... taking up the whole wall.  I wanted to replace them with one huge bow window.  When we started to take out the old living room windows we were horrified to discover that the wooden beam going across the top of the windows was a split header.  That meant that we couldn't remove the stud in between the old windows or the house would collapse.  The new window was custom made and already sitting on the truck in front of the house.  Un-returnable.  We would have to use a hydrolic lift to support the front of the house while the window guys took out the old beam and replaced it with a new header.  Tack on an additional $1500.  When they took the upstairs window off of the truck I realized that it wasn't the one that I had ordered.  I wanted a bay window with casement windows on either side and they gave me double hung sash windows instead.  I'm a Christmas decoration freak and I wanted that window to be as unobstructed as possible to display them.  The window guys checked.  Made a few calls.  I was right.  If I was willing to take this window instead... they wouldn't charge me for the new header they had to install.  And they would put a little roof over the front door... no charge.  Ray was immediately agreeable.  I was angry and disappointed.  Very reluctantly... I finally gave in.  When the windows were actually installed and I stood back and looked at them, I was thrilled.  I can't believe what a huge difference they make.  Good thing I opted to save the money.  Now I realize that we will be needing custom window treatments.  Poor Ray!

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Take it off... take it all off!

The cedar shake shingles are all removed now.  It took 5 men a day and a half to do it.  Beating each tile with a hammer until it crumbled and fell to the ground in huge piles of giant tooth picks.  The property looked like the house had exploded.  Wishful thinking I guess.  The lower third of the house was covered by a thin cement called parging.  The previous owners had painted it brown.  It was now peeling, cracking and crumbling.  In order for the siding company to cover it with vinyl siding they have to nail wooden strips to the parging so they can attach the siding to it.  Of course... it will cost more.  But it will be worth it... I hate that parging.  The satellite TV men are coming today to remove that obscene dish they hooked up right smack in the front of the house years ago and re-locate it to a less noticable position on the roof.  I have no idea what they were thinking at the time.  The landscaper is starting one of the retainer walls on the front lawn today.  He's going to use EP Henry stone bricks.  The pictures of them in their catelog are beautiful.  He says they'll last forever.  A thousand years from now my wall will be featured on National Geographic.  "The thousands on tiny wood chips buried deep within the soil suggest that there was a great explosion.  Apparently all that remained was this beautiful wall and an ancient weather station a few hundred yards away..."  Sorry.  I think my mind is going.  Probably out looking for my sanity which left yesterday morning.  Maybe that explains why I decided to tear down the wallpaper in the master bathroom before we even finished the attic closet.  All I wanted to do was re-paper or paint it.  But once the paper was off I could see that there were gaps between every piece of plaster board.  Whoever put them up didn't use greenboard either... a must if the walls are in a bathroom.  Probably why the room had a tendency to get mouldy.  Black Toxic Mold no doubt.  I'm sure I'm being poisoned as we speak...

Monday, October 27, 2003

If I ever HAVE a closet... I'm never coming out!

It's raining today so the siding guys can't work on the house.  While my son is taking out all of the windows (except for the two in the front of the house) I am going to empty out the attic.  There is a carpeted, normal width, 4 step staircase leading to it from the master bedroom, and since there is no closet in the master bedroom, I am going to have Joe enclose it and make it into a walk-in.  Joe thinks the angles of the attic are so steep that it will cost too much money in labor to make it cost effective.  But how can you live without a closet in the master bedroom?  Besides... that little staircase looks stupid just going up to 'nowhere'.  And I detest the folding door that opens to it.

Right now we are using one of the other bedrooms as a walk-in closet for our clothes.  But it's on another floor and I'd rather use that room for something more functional.

ClosetMaid has a great web site that teaches you everything you need to know about designing your own closet.  Home Depot will cut all the wire shelves for you for free when you bring in your measurements, so your closet will be 'custom made.'  Even if you just want to make an existing closet more organized... I think ClosetMaid isa definitely the way to go.


Sunday, October 26, 2003

This IS progress... right?

As I stand back and look at the house, I have to remind myself that this is progress.

The overgrown shrubbery has been pulled out. The Railroad ties have been removed and the dead trees are cut down.
The cedar shake shingles and decks have been taken down. The rented dumpster in the driveway is almost full. The house now looks...


My son Joe is a carpenter by trade trade and he offered to work for us in between his reguslar jobs. 
I am going to be his assistant.

Ray works long hours and he'd
rather pay someone else to do the work then come home and do it himself. That's OK. It will get done faster this way.

Joe is going to replace all the windows tomorrow. When we started this project we only talked about building a new deck.
Now besides installing new windows and siding, we had to put in another retaining wall and do some major landscaping out front.

Of course, new windows mean new window treatments inside the house. Did I mention that there is a ton of indoor work to be done as well? 

While reading the Sunday paper this morning I found myself flipping through the Real Estate section.

Is it too late to pack up and move?

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Ground Zero

I keep telling myself 
that this will get better.
The landscaper ripped out ALL 
of the shrubbery
in front of the house today.
It was so over-gown
it looked more like a jungle.
Not to mention the fact that it
was preventing us from getting anywhere near
the house to start working on it.

But now the house looks naked.
There is nothing to hide
the peeling paint, cracks, rotting wood, and missing shingles.
The front deck which served
as a porch was obviously
falling down and had to be removed.
The second-floor balcony
on the side of the house
had to be torn out as well.
The siding and gutters
will need to be replaced.
Some of them are barely clinging
to the house.
The wood trim needs to be capped.
We need all new windows.
The landscaper said the railroad ties holding back the dirt on the front
of the lawn were not pressure treated and are now rotting.
The only salvageable structure
seems to be the roof.
So far.
It might start leaking at any moment.

I'm beginning to get nervous.
How much money and work
is TOO much?
Will we live long enough
to see the house finished?

Would a jury of my peers
actually convict me if I
burned it down?

Friday, October 24, 2003

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The House

Married 28 years.
Divorced for 4.
I think I'm winning.
I moved into Ray's house in April.
The one he shared with his ex-wife.
I really didn't want to live in HER house.
He really didn't want to move.
In an attempt to compromise,
we have decided to renovate.

By the time I'm finished,
even a team of forensic scientists
won't be able to find a trace of HER.
I spend so much time in Home Depot these days,
I'm on a first-name basis with all the employees.
I'm becoming quite the DIY-er,
but I usually have to re-do every project
three times before I get it right.

Brad Pitt used to be the man of my dreams.
Now, it's Bob Villa.
I wonder if Ray fantasizes about Martha Stewart?


Starting life over is a
lot like moving to a new house.
You go through all your stuff,
give away what you don't need,
and throw away everything
that's broken.

Then you pack up what's left

and transport it to an unfamiliar place
to try to find new spots
for your old things.

When you drive by your old house,

it surprises you to see other people living there.
You new neighbors 
smile and say "hello"...
but they don't really know you.

Now, most of your mail

is simply addressed to...

The Occupant.

That's me.