Tuesday, March 25, 2008

magnetic attraction

of all the things i could not do this weekend, i did one thing and i did it well.

the front door on the tenant's side of the house. you can see it's a burglar door, iron bars & all. it was repainted about 6 months ago, and my contractor (who i'm beginning to think is retarded) never put the screen back in. so it lets in bugs. lots & lots of bugs. i happen to hate bugs, but they love me.

so i got the big bright idea to get a screen. but i wasn't about to spline it. so i also bought a bunch of magnets. a whole bunch. my neighbor happened to be outside raking leaves, so i asked him to lend a hand. he took a look and decided that magnets alone wouldn't do it, so he went and got some gorilla glue tape. we taped and magneted and now it's bea-u-ti-ful.

here's brett, my neighbor, with the newly bug-proofed screen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

everything but the kitchen stove!

ok. i decided to buy the cabinets. but wait! it's not just cabinets! it's cabinets plus

a microwave! but wait! there's more! there's a

dishwasher! and yet that's STILL not all! there's also

a refrigerator! (the guys at the house where i bought these were not happy to see the fridge go.) and yet even that's not all!

granite countertops! (there must be about 20 feet of this. and it's heavy. very heavy.) they even saved the crown molding and the screws. and, oh ... the glass-fronted wall cabinets have under-cabinet lights, which they put in there, too.

so i still have to configure it, but most of the kitchen decisions have now been made, courtesy of a great deal from craigslist.

the amazing thing is that it fits my personal sytle--bohemian thriftshopper--to a T.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

ready made?

so i found these cabinets on craigslist. i sent an email sunday, got an email with phone number in return on monday, and called about them today. the woman said she's had a lot of inquiries, and has decided she wants to sell everything in
one fell swoop. everything includes a dishwasher, side-by-side fridge, and a stainless steel offset sink with garbage disposal. (the fridge & dishwasher are stainless, too.)

went over there today. while it's not what i'd choose if i had a ton of money, the whole thing is only 3 grand.

i took some measurements and counted the number of units. now i have to figure out how much wall space i have & how much they'd take up. i know, for instance, that there's an extra corner cabinet that i wouldn't be able to use.

but it would knock a bunch of money off what it's going to cost me new, and i'd be able to do the cooktop in the island with a downdraft and built in oven with the money i save.
so what do i do?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

just what i need ... another hole in the


this is supposed to be the door to the attic. the existing 'door' is a window in the roof. this is better, but the 10' ladder i bought, that's supposed to fit ceilings up to 10'3", is too short. grrrr. i completely blame my contractor, who when i asked him what size ladder to buy, shrugged his shoulders and said, '10 foot. yeah. 10 foot.' ppphhht.

this is the dumpster on the 2nd go round. this, by the way, is the *last* go round for the $300-a-pop dumpster. everything else i'm stuffing in the regular garbage bit by bit.

another shot of the completely denuded kitchen. pray for me.

and finally ...

had to change the light in the bathroom the other day. it was like climbing to the top of mt. everest.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

wall gone!

ok. so this is what it looks like with no wall there.

and this is what it looks like with the cabinets gone.

it's actually kind of traumatizing. i laughed out loud when i saw the window.
i could be wrong, but i think my house--the half i live in, the half that's currently being rehabbed--used to be a stand-alone single shotgun. at some point the owners decided to put in a garage, and instead of mucking up the side yard, they put it in front of the house. that involved some reconfiguration of the front door, which is at the very left-most corner of the original structure, and necessitated constructing a porch, because now there was just about 4 feet from the side of the garage to the property line. apparently the garage went over so well, they decided to go into business for themselves, and constructed another large room that runs the length of the garage, plus another 50 or so feet. the interior wall of this new room is actually the exterior of the original house; hence, any windows on the tenant side were taken out and sealed up.

this is what the house--without the wall and without the cabinets--looks like from the living room.

it's all either terribly exciting or terribly anxiety producing.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


during my usual weekend haunting of lowe's, i found a track light for ... MORE THAN 50% OFF!!!!!!!! woot!

i'm still a long way off from having lights installed--hell. i don't even know what the kitchen is going to look like--but the $75 i paid yesterday beats the crap out of the $175 they usually sell for.

<finishes patting self on back. goes back to work.>

Friday, March 7, 2008

celebrity runs in the family

woot! brother dave is famous!

not that he hasn't been famous to me forever.

the wall is half empty

our story so far: a simple 'just redo the floors & rerun some wire and be done with it' has turned into a monster. the big culprit was when i decided to take out the wall between the kitchen and the living room. day one: the kitchen ceiling and the chimney from the ceiling to the attic was removed. day two: the chimney from the ceiling to the floor was removed. day three: here we are. i assumed the entire wall would be gone, but know this: i am not a contractor. apparently it's more difficult than i thought, because when i opened the door ...

part of the wall was gone, but part of the wall remained.

this is what it looked like from the living room. on the right, that's my contactor, estanislao. i just call him stanis. i should probably shorten it to stan, but oh, well. on the left is his wife, miss clara. she is delightful. as is he. clara does not like the cold. at all. it was probably in the 50s that day, so she had on a cap and a warm coat.

you can see the lath from the plaster. i still have lots of plaster in the house, some of it sheetrocked over, some of it just plaster walls. my electrician told me found some barge board, too.

although it doesn't look like it, the place is pretty clean. what you can't see is the dumpster sitting in front of my house. the other thing you might not know is the dumpsters--at least this one--cost $325. that includes hauling and the dumping fee. no hidden costs. unfortunately, i miscalculated the amount of dumpitude generated by removing a wall full o' chimney, and with the wall half gone, the dumpster was filled to the brim.
so how much to have the dumpster emptied and brought back? why, another $325. the guy cut me a break, though, and only charged me $275. who figures these things into a remodel budget? show of hands? ok. so other people know this. i didn't.

the sort of good news is that when they brought the dumpster back, i was here. after he finished prying the check from my hand, i walked the guy through the house. in addition to providing dumpsters, he also does renovations. he told me that the wall removal was a good job, and checked out the absent baseboards. he asked me if i found any rot in the studs, and i told him no. he said i was lucky because lots of the houses he does have damage. he walked around and kicked a few things and told me that the house is structurally sound. phew. you never know when you buy something that's a hundred-plus years old, and i need all the reassurance i can get at this point.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

bringin' down the house

ok. so i started this to have a record of what's going on with my house renovation, not to tell you about cats and rats and such. so let's get back on target, shall we?
this is what my kitchen looked like before. notice the lovely cabinets. i painted them myself. oh, la la. very mardi gras.

the door that you see is not the door to the outside, but the door to the tenant's half. the cat that you see is big boy. big. boy. he is grooming himself because he's a very debonair kitteh. oh, yes. and he's very big. and he's also very timid. perhaps i'll post another picture of big boy later. after you're done looking at my house.

this is my living room, with a view into the kitchen, and a view into the tenantless tenant's half. you can also see the entrance to my side of the house. the two doors make for an odd configuration. i think initially the part you see thru the tenant's door was a garage. at some point about 50 years ago, someone got the big bright idea to put a business over there, so they knocked out the garage and added on another (approximately) 60x14 space. so the tenant's half is an L wrapped around my half, which is a shotgun, which is the predecessor to the modern trailer. anyway ...

this is my kitchen, with the chimney, which ran through the wall between the kitchen and the living room, removed. yes. that strip you see in the middle of the purple wall was once a chimney. which i never really even got to see. because the first day they removed the ceiling and the chimney in the attic, and the next day: chimney. gone.

here is a closeup of ... i guess it's called the hearth. or at least, guts 'o hearth.

so i'm kind of freaking out, because ... well, because. ironically, the wall in the living room was pretty much intact, right up to my grandparents' wedding photo hanging over the mantle.

that was weird.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

and speaking of rats ...

i got a wild hair one night a few weeks ago--undoubtedly some idiocy connected with the upcoming presidential elections kicked it off--and sent an email to cartoonist mk brown. ms brown has been in plenty of media over the years, but i was introduced to her work in national lampoon. back when it was still good. or maybe it wasn't good because there was plenty in there that i didn't understand. but i loved that magazine.

i particularly loved one comic called 'whistle stop.' it was in the miracle of democracy issue. when nixon and mcgovern were battling for the title. the cartoon showed an unnamed candidate doing an old-fashioned cross country speaking tour via rail. the train would stop at a town, the candidate would speak and press the flesh, and then they'd be off to the next engagement. in this particular comic, the candidate was literally a blithering idiot, complete with a couple of handlers who would dress him, feed him his lines, and essentially make sure he didn't hurt himself. in the pivotal (to me) panel, one of the handlers exclaims, OH MY GOD! THE CANDIDATE IS EATING A RAT! the drawing shows the candidate in suit and tie with the tail of a rat hanging from his mouth.

that comic has always embodied how i feel about politicians and elections. i haven't seen it in ... oh, lord! ... 36 years. but it's stuck with me all this time. i've searched for it on & off, but i've never laid hands on that issue again.

so i wrote to mk brown and told her how influential that comic has been, and how much i enjoy her work in general. she wrote back! twice! and she said that she's received enough inquiries about whistle stop that she's going to do a limited edition print, and if i were interested, she'd let me know when they're done. well. i'm thrilled. truly. so maybe when she finishes the prints, i'll be done with my renovations. then i can hang my print in my new space.

that'll be killer.

mk brown is now on you tube, too.

the mysterious world of cats

ceiling cat
so i came home friday and bill murray was nowhere to be found. not terribly unusual. sometimes she goes off and explores and comes home in her own good time. besides, the contractors had been banging around all day and messing with her house, so maybe she was hiding.

even though i called her repeatedly, she didn't come home for dinner, which is less typical but still no cause for alarm. i figured she'd get here when she got here, and sat down at the computer to load my new design software. i heard something that sounded like scratching in the drop ceiling. no problem, most likely just the wind. then i heard it again. and again.

'crap,' i thought. 'i hope it's not a rat.' (let's suffice it to say that i had reason to think that.)

scratch. even if it was, i wasn't going to haul out a piece of cheese and entice it to a throwdown. scratch. so i went back to working on the computer. scratch. scratch. CRASH!

all of a sudden one of the ceiling tiles at the other end of the room blew out and a huge ... something ... came tumbling out and streaked across to the door leading into the kitchen of the house. given the level of debris in there, the door is closed, of course. so now i'm freaking out thinking that there's a very, very angry rat when zip! here it comes an oh, shit! it's bill murray!

i haven't been able to figure out how she got up there in the first place. the ceiling is 8 and 10 feet tall. it was missing one ceiling tile on the 10 foot side, with only a couch beneath it. she's not exactly, uh, lithe these days and i can't imagine her jumping that high and making the mark without killing herself.

so, anyway. that was kind of exciting.

by the way, that's not bill murray in the picture. she moved WAY too fast & i was a little too freaked out for me to get a picture of it. that's ceiling cat, an internet phenomenon. i always thought 'celining cat is watching you' was a joke. thanks for enlightening me on that, bill murray.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

two years, 6 months, just starting

good things come to those who wait. or so they say.

i've finally started working on MY half of the house. which means i had to move into the other side of the house, which is an office, not an apartment. i figured that this day was coming, and i did have the good (?) sense to
add a shower to the office. that cost about $2,500. (had to extend the bathroom, add extra plumbing, buy the shower & fixtures, etc.)
the office is the part fronting the street (naturally). if you look real hard, someone is standing in the doorway. i don't remember who was there the day i took the picture. matter of fact, i can't remember the day i took the picture. but his is my house.

on the left set back a little ways, you can see the door to
my half of the house. when you open that door, it used to look like this:

washer & dryer were in the right-most corner, cabinets on the right-side wall. you can see into my living room. if you look real hard, you can see mick jagger's crotch. at least a picture of his crotch.

i was just going to redo my floors, rerun the electrical stuff, and take care of big glaring problems. of which there are a few. however ... i decided that i don't much care for the wall between the kitchen and living room. that little jutty part with the three pictures on it is a sheetrocked-over chimney. which was not in terrific shape but not in imminent danger of falling in, either. however, it was crumbling from the inside, and it's useless. my contractor said that if i wanted the wall taken out, he'd take out the wall. who knew it would take 3 days and be so stressful?

the first day i came home from work & expected to see a big chunk of the wall gone. instead, i saw my attic for the first time because they'd taken out the ceiling. it looked like this:

and my attic looks like this:
ok. that's enough for tonight. i still have to finish reading the instructions on putting together my mosquito magnet. if it works half as well as i've been promised, it's worth the money.