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 at look up at the house I have to remind myself that this is progress.  All the overgrown shrubbery and ivy has been pulled out, the railroad ties are gone and the dead trees have been cut down.  Almost all of the cedar shake siding has been removed.  The decks have been torn down.  The rented dumpster in the driveway is almost full.  The house looks... abandoned.

My son Joe is a carpenter by trade and he offered to work for us in between his regular jobs.  I am going to be his assistant.  Ray works long hours and he'd rather pay someone else to do the work than to have to come home and do it himself.  That's OK.  It will get done faster this way.

Joe took out the two windows in the front of the house that face the street.  We ordered two new ones from the siding company.  The window over the driveway will be a box window and the living room window will be a 9 foot bay window with casements.  Joe's going to take out all of the rest of the windows tomorrow and replace them with ones we ordered from Home Depot.  He said the best time to replace the windows was before they were capped by the siding company.  Makes sense... but when we started this project we only talked about replacing the decks.  There's so much indoor work that I wanted to get to.  Now... we ended up removing all the shrubbery, wood ties, and replacing the windows and siding.  Then we'll have to put in a new retainer wall and do some major landscaping.  I guess we'll have to replace the outside lights... the old ones won't look right next to the new siding.  And I'll have to get window treatments for the two new windows.  They are so big I'm sure they'll have to be custom made.

When I was reading the Sunday paper this morning I couldn't help but flip 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 shrubery in the front of the house today.  It was so overgrown it looked more like a jungle, and 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, the 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 taken out as well.  None of them had been built with pressure treated wood.  The siding and all the gutters have to be replaced.  Some of them are barely hanging onto the house.  Everything has to be capped.  All the windows need to be replaced.  We will have to build a new front porch and a balcony.  The landscaper told us that the railraod ties that were holding back the dirt on the front lawn are shot.  He has to take them out.  The only salvageable structure seems to be the roof.  So far.  It could start leaking next week.  I'm starting to get scared.  How much is too much money and work?  Will we live long enough to see the house finished?  Would a jury of my peers actually convict me if I burned it down?  I better watch myself.  I'm already under surveilance by the Park Patrol.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Crime of the Century?

Ray's house is right across the street from a beautiful park.  That was one of the main reasons that he didn't want to move.  But several years ago the Township built a 'weather station' in that park, directly across from his front door.  As soon as you open that door or look out any of his windows you can't help but see the numerous satellite dishes and antennas enclosed by a chain link fence.  Not exactly the view to die for.

The Township never asked Ray if he had any objections before they built it, and I was sure that they would never consider moving it to another location.  The landscaper who is working on transforming our jungle into a lawn agreed to plant 2 or 3 bushes in front of that weather station yesterday, in an attempt to camoflage the area a bit.  It hadn't even been 10 minutes before the first Park Patrol car arrived.  The officer sat there, staring at the new bushes... talking on a hand held radio.  He was soon joined by another Park Patrol car and 2 local police cruisers.  Lights flashing, they closed down the street and searched the area.  Were they looking for... more new bushes?  They eventually noticed the landscaping truck parked in our driveway.  Several of the officers walked over to interrogate the workers.  Yes... they were the ones who had planted the bushes in the park.  No... they didn't have permission from the Park Commission.  Yes... we were the ones who had master-minded this shocking destruction of government property.  No... there were no plans to contaminate any other scientific data collection areas.  Yes... they would immediately dig up those bushes and remove them.

I could see the officers furiously writing in their little pads.  They will now have our names and addresses and that of our landscaping company... in case there are any future foreign shrubbery sightings.  Our pictures my soon be hanging on the back walls of Nurseries all over the State...  am I turning into a radical protestor?  If they ever fingerprint me... will my thumb be... green?


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

The House

Married 28 years... divorced for 4.  I think I'm winning.  I moved in with Ray in April.  In the house that he and his ex-wife shared before they got divorced.  He didn't want to move because he likes the location.  I really didn't want to live in 'her' house.  So we agreed to renovate.  By the time I'm finished with the house even a team of forensic scientists won't be able to find a trace of 'her'.  I practically live at Home Depot now.  They call me by my first name when I walk in.  I'm becoming an expert in DIY home remodeling... but it seems like I have to do each and every project 3 times before I get it right.  Funny... Brad Pitt used to be the man of my fantasies.  Now... it's Bob Villa.  I wonder if Ray dreams of Martha Stewart?  I doubt it.


Starting life over is a lot like moving to a new house.  You pack up all of your things, give away what you don't need, and throw out anything that's broken.  Then you take it to an unfamiliar place and try to find new places for all of your old things.  When you drive by your old place it suprises you to see other people living there.  Your new neighbors smile and say "hello"... but they don't really know you.

And most of your mail is simply addressed to... The Occupant.

That's me.