Sunday, August 31, 2008

When the FUCK did you learn to weld!

That was what Uncle B. proclaimed in full voice as he stood in our back yard peering in the glass of our solarium at my feral welding project from Door County ’07. Moments before I heard our elderly neighbors M. and S. milling about in their back yard. I’m certain they heard.

Today was viewing day for Uncle B., who has on his annual Labor Day visit to the old family homestead, and brother R. My parents had already seen the place a few months before when I was just starting to remove the popcorn. This at least gave them a point of comparison. Uncle B. and R. were simply floored by the enormity of the home, yard, and general quality of the neighborhood. I mean, for 22+ years we’ve lived in basically a ghetto home. A home with character, sure, but basically a ghetto neighborhood. The viewing went spectacularly. My brother, who had been whining about his own home improvement projects, decided he needed to shut up. My uncle at one point said that when we flip a coin, we really go for the flip side. Or something to that effect. It truly is night and day. Still, I found myself repeating multiple times, “only so many hours in a day,” especially when it came to the overgrown sunken garden.

We spent the afternoon packing and cleaning more stuff in the old house, then returned home to a nice beer and the quietude of the new place.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Study in Contrasts

We’ve moved. There is still a ton to be done at both houses, sure. But when we go to sleep at night, we sleep in the tranquility of the new digs.

I love our new house more than I can express. When I sit outside, all I hear are birds singing. When I work inside, only the sounds of crickets penetrate these walls. It is peaceful. The first night we were officially moved in, I sat on the couch and watched TV. Seeing that our previous home’s doors were too narrow to fit a couch in, I haven’t experienced that small pleasure in 22 years.

Yesterday I went to the old house to meet contractors and finish cleaning up. (This will continue to be a daily-as-possible task for weeks to come.) I heard a popping sound as I took a bag of trash outside. My neighbor across the street was doing target practice with a handgun in the alley. I mean, I could see him standing at the curb pointing a handgun down the alley and firing off a few rounds, then disappearing down the alley to presumably check his accuracy.

Yesterday evening we passed a few neighbors at the new house taking their dog for a walk. The wife was carrying a small glass of red wine.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Stig of Ladders

I own a ladder. Actually I own quite a few ladders. A rickety wooden 8' ladder began my ladder career back when we first bought our Queen Anne cottage 20+ years ago. It’s gone now, btw. A few months ago I took a chain saw to it in the basement and hauled the pieces to the curb. It continued with an aluminum extension ladder that was a hand-me-down from the in-laws, as well as an inexpensive collapsible two-step ladder that I bought at Roach Hardware.

From there we advanced to a two-step stool, also purchased at Roach, and a 16' articulated aluminum ladder that, when folded in half, reaches just under 8'. That made it the perfect height to work on ceilings at the old house, and with only 1/4 folded under, the perfect height to paint the pink band of siding under the exterior eaves.

But each new home has its own needs, and we quickly found ourselves ladder shopping once again. Purchase #1 was a 4' fiberglass stepladder. This is the perfect height to work on most ceilings at the new place. (Note the ceiling height difference that indicates.) The second was The Stig of all step ladders.

The Stig, in case you are not a subscriber to BBC America, nor familiar with Top Gear, is an anonymous-yet-highly-respected race car driver. The Top Gear hosts are mad behind the wheel of sports cars anyway, but they still insist on calling in “The Stig” to really give cars a go around the track. He struts out in his head-to-toe white racing jumpsuit, and slides behind the wheel, racing testing out the performance as he listens to audio romance novels on the stereo system.

I have come to understand that contractors love, love, love, my newest step ladder. Why? It’s a 12-footer. Not only that, but it is fiberglass, and the feet have a substantial spread, ensuring it is as safe as possible. Owning this step ladder makes it possible to paint the vaulted ceilings in the living room, as well as to install this:

Well, we didn’t actually install it. We left that joy to the electrician (which turned out to be an even better idea than we had originally thought because kit was missing its instructions). But he was darn glad we had the 12-footer.

I asked if he needed a spotter at once point, which he readily agreed to. We pulled our articulated ladder next to it. It’s a grand comparative study, don’t you think?

His boss came over to the house at one point. He gazed through the newly installed window openings we had installed between the living room and first basement, pointed his index finger at the ladder, and began to count. “That’s a twelve footer,” he exclaimed. Yep!

Earlier the electrician had gazed over at it and said, “oh, and it’s fiberglass!” Yep!

The contractor, when he saw it said, “I’ve always wanted a twelve-footer...”

Yes, we own The Stig.

By now you’ve noticed that I have (gasp) actual images on my blog. Here’s some more:

Curtain for the master bath.

Which I finished today.

The bathroom walls still haven’t been painted, but at least we have a bit of privacy in case that doesn’t happen prior to our move date (1 week away!!)

The pull is a piece of jewelry I picked up in the jewelry department of Michael’s. The wooden bead (which is conveniently hiding a knot) is a bit of leftover renovation material from the old house. The instructions for making my curtain came from Fabric Magic by Melanie Paine, ©1987. I hold on tight to resources I find useful, even when the instructions in said resource beg a lot of questions, and make the resulting outcome a bit of a mystery. But I seem to have done a decent job of guessing what she meant at different moments, and constructing it accordingly.

There is one more curtain that must, must, must be made prior to Saturday, and that’s the master bedroom. We’ll see how that goes... This will be a floor length pencil pleat.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Welcome to Town: Meet our Local Nut Job

Okay. I am used to a certain amount of... oh, how should I put it... local color in my old neighborhood. I passed by a bit of that local color as we headed out this morning, as a matter of fact. But in my new neighborhood? Where the bulk of the traffic on any given day are landscaping pickup trucks towing flat bed trailers loaded with riding mowers and half a dozen string trimmers? Because no one seems to mow their own lawns here? Oh no, I think not.

So it shocked the hell out of me to pull up to the house at 7:45 a.m. to find a man - a stranger - standing facing our front door. There was no vehicle in our drive, so I somewhat quickly ruled out that the electrician had arrived early, which had occurred to me that he might be even though he was in unorthodox dress. He was - wearing shorts, but no shoes - and he had a large KU beach blanket wrapped around his shoulders like he’d just stepped out of a pool.

I hollered to him from the car, asking if we could help him.

He answered that his friend lived there.

I said, “oh no he doesn’t. We live there.”

He considered this for a moment, then said, “could I at least get my stuff?”

We said he has no “stuff” here, and he needed to leave. He was, in case this is unclear at this point in the re-telling, totally out of his mind. His connection to reality was a distant cousin twice removed from the drug-induced haze he was currently in.

He stood his ground.

We had no way to safely enter our home without giving him access to our home as well. And he refused to leave.

At this point I noticed our elderly neighbor strolling down to the curb in his navy blue terry bathrobe to retrieve his newspaper from the curb. I called to him over his sprinklers, asking him to please call the police, that there was a man at our house who refused to leave.

Mack trotted back into the house.

Dude stepped off the porch and stared at me, then began walking away.

Up the middle of our side street, in his beach towel and bare feet.

I watched him, then went inside to call the police to alert them to the direction he had been walking. Before I got off the phone, Michael walked in to the kitchen and told me the police were there.

Five or six patrol cars had descended upon our corner at a quantity and rate of speed I have never seen in my old town. By the time I walked back outside, they had Dude sitting on the curb and were having a little conversation with him.

Dude, it turns out, had been a busy, busy boy. Since around 12:30 that night, he had been attempting to gain entry into the retirement community buildings a half mile away, stating that they were apartments, and his friend lived there. The police had been called multiple times, but they were unable to locate him.

Dude was issued a trespassing warning, and carted away to someplace safe. And we had a chance to meet the local law, and make a great first impression on our new neighbors who were out in droves taking photos of their children boarding the school bus on the first day of classes.

Oh, and it gave me a chance to tell my hooker joke, which officer #1 completely misunderstood, which gave officer #2 the added joy of not only the joke itself, but the joke on officer #1 who is known for thinking “shallow thoughts.”

Home sweet home.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Among the things I must do...

is find the charger for my camera battery. Under the current circumstances, I hope that you will continue to forgive my lack of actual pics in this blog.

As of Monday, the move officially begins. This is for insurance purposes. They are giving me exactly two week's overlap in terms of content coverage, and since the professionals are coming two weeks from today to move the last of the large stuff, 2 weeks prior to that (roughly) is the start of the move.

It was an overcast rainy day all day today, and quite frankly I was lovin’ it. Got loads of work done. I had hoped to make today and tomorrow an all-day-work-at-the-old-house session, but in fact client work without a moveable deadline won over and we spent all day at the new house. Me? I was making a movie.
Him? Priming the vaulted living room ceiling.

It's almost 10 pm, we’ve been at it all day, and he’s only now nearing his goal.

On the upside, while I was (yes) working on this client movie all day, I had intervals toward the afternoon when the computer was busy rendering or exporting or compressing when I would slip away and (gasp) start working on the first set of curtains for the new house. This is a blind, actually, for the master bath. I didn’t get much accomplished due to the lack of electric lighting in the new home and the overcastness of the outside, but I at least got the main fabric cut and the hem turned and hand-sewn under. Tomorrow I'll cut and sew in the lining, and if/when I have time, I’ll add the mechanism so this can become an actual working curtain.

I had hoped to nip away to knit group, but it was such an exciting prospect to finally be able to cut CUT the actual curtain, that I could not justify the “me” time.

Spoke with my mother today. She spent the morning visiting farmer’s markets with my eldest sister and basically putzing away the day. I have no idea what that would be like. But I’d love to know at some point.

Yesterday we brought the alpha male to the new house. He was excited but nervous. He spent a good part of the day sticking close to me. But every time we would pick him up, he would be purring. He’s clearly in the “I love the new house” camp.

And he managed to jump on the top of the wet bar within the first hour or so of his exploration period. Someone is soooo going to fall off of it before the first year of residency is out.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Bubbas, Jethros, and Photographic Photos

I am wrapping up my recent media trip. It has been a fabulous time, but I gotta tell ya, I’m ready to return to my home turf. In recent days it has been suggested that I speak with Ranger Bubba, I have crossed a bridge named in honor of a man whose first name is Jethro, and I went to a museum where their professionally-produced pricing board had a line item for the cost of photographic photos.

At this point in my trip I am finally at a point where I can let my guard down and be me. Really me. And that’s good.

One more quick stop tomorrow to watch horses warming up on a racetrack, and that’s it. And we aren’t meeting anybody. It’s just us, cameras, and our car loaded down with clothes that desperately need to be washed, and lots of press packets and DV tapes to be sorted out. I brought my cardigan project with me to work on, but haven’t managed to find a lick of time to work on it, even when crossing the Licking River. If everything goes as planned, we should be home by late Monday night.