Sunday, April 27, 2008
Again, from BHNA web site: Because of the great number and rich variety of early 20th Century homes that still exist in this neighborhood, city architectural and historic surveyors in the 1980s nicknamed it Bungalow Heaven. The name became official in 1989 when it was designated as a city Landmark District -- the first city Landmark District in Pasadena. Attaining Landmark District status included development and approval of a neighborhood Conservation Plan designed "to assist homeowners . . . with restoration, alteration or additions, so that the historic and architectural qualities of the District are maintained and preserved."
The stewards of all these homes have done a remarkable job in restoring and preserving the historical character of their lovely little homes.
I admire them. I envy them. I simply could not do it myself.
I have always said that it is not our mission to restore our 1909 Craftsman. I only want to respect the character of the home. When we moved in, over 80 years of rental-dom left our house stripped of any historical character it may once have had. And we simply do not have the patience or the resources to bring it back, piece by piece.
I cannot have the missing built-ins rebuilt. I do not see myself with the cute little kitchen cabinets, all painted white. And I cannot live with Stickley or Stickley reproductions. It’s just not in me.
Those homes are beautiful. The antiques are lovely. They are just not for me.
There is a coziness, a modesty, a humility to these homes. They are balanced and tranquil and in the best possible way – they lack drama. And that is just not like me – or the me I want to be.
And I feel a little guilty. It’s like I’m not trying hard enough. Why shouldn’t I be willing to live with a vintage stove? Others do. And why must I have a dishwasher at this stage of my life? I haven’t had one before in all the years that I was renting. Why must I insist on having one now?
I don’t have a good answer, other than to say it’s just not me. But still, I feel guilty. Maybe that’s what a glimpse of Heaven is meant to do.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
On Friday, K did the prep work - outside and in
The view seems almost too good to obscure with a window
The gents wait patiently for instructions
It's in, but they can't let go yet.
K shows off his Arabesque en Ladder . . .
. . . and smiles for the camera, all while directing the gang.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
On Saturday, K prepared the first space to receive its replacement;
This is the old window that faced the porch. It'll probably take a trip to the Habitat for Humanity store in Pasadena.
View of the two empty spaces from the porch.
With a helping hand from a friend on Sunday, the two new windows were in!
The new front window
The space left by the former front window wasn't exactly square;
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The Northridge quake was huge. We were jolted awake; sprang out of bed and held on to a door frame until the chaos came to an end. Then we went back to sleep. "You did what!?" was a common reaction. We went back to sleep because the power was out; there were no lights, no television. What were we supposed to do? Sit in the car and listen to the news? Might as well put my Olympic-sized talent for sleep to good use.
In the morning, we went out for breakfast to the only restaurant in West Hollywood that remained open.
We lost some glassware and I think some crystal that had been left out from the previous night’s entertaining. No biggie. We were renters. Our apartment wasn’t one of those on the block to be condemned. We were grateful for that and moved on with our lives.
That was 14 years ago. Today, I’m not sure I’ll be so sanguine about the next one. Even if we came through ok, I’m sure I would worry about something in the house, the foundation, the framework, the tile. "Please, don’t make us have to re-do the bathroom tile!"
It’s different when you own. Now, every little shimmy gives me pause.
At least our chimney’s already down. A lot of chimneys were felled by the Northridge quake. We had a recent fireplace/chimney-ectomy. More about that another day. Briefly, they both had to be euthanized.
Now the old fireplace and chimney are just a big pile of bricks on the side of the house.
I might miss them more if somebody hadn’t painted the fireplace bricks bright red.
But I won’t worry about anything today. I’ve got water in the basement and comfy shoes in the car. Today’s weather is cool and clear and the ground is still - so far.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Scientists: Big Quake Likely in California
Which is little like saying:
Bartenders: Heavy Drinking Likely on New Year's Eve
But then today, we had this headline:
5.2 Earthquake Shakes Up Midwest
You always hear stories about how Californians are not prepared for The Big One. K and I have done what we can. We have extra supplies of bottled water, canned food and plenty of cat food. Of course, it's all in the basement, so if that collapses, we're out of luck. Yes, we have the rare California basement. Relatively rare. I think its an advantage of the house's age. Yay, more storage!
In addition to food and water, we have $1 bills on hand (for when the ATMs all shut down). We keep shoes by the bed. Actually, I keep plenty of shoes by the bed. You never know. And, I keep walking shoes in the car.
And, we’ve had our foundation reinforced. Maybe I’ll have K blog about that one day. He loves to show off the extra-supported cripple walls. I don't know much about the process because whenever K gives the tour, I always fixate on the very un-comforting name - cripple walls.
And yes, there are flashlights but I can never find one when I want one. Their whereabouts seems to be a secret K likes to keep to himself. Fine.
But my greatest comfort lies in knowing that we live within spitting distance of the Wilshire fault and the house has managed to survive for 99 years, so far. We all take comfort where we can. I don't like the idea of the Big One but no one I know worries about it.
I was in the Midwest once - for a weekend. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I started worrying about tornadoes. I was in Nebraska and I thought it as brown and flat as a Triscuit. A perfect twister breeding ground. My hotel room was on the 13th floor and I was constantly looking out the window.
I had a aunt who lived in Texas with a special obsession with tornadoes. She had a cellar. I remember it as dark and there were always spiders. Faced with a tornado or a dark room full of spiders, I'm not sure which I'd choose. I'm glad I don't have to make that decision.
Tornado attacks seem personal, directed. Not like earthquakes. Earthquakes are democratic. When they hit, they hit everybody. Not just the few. Not just the trailer parks. Earthquakes spread their destruction around. Tornadoes destroy like a laser beam. And they have a season! No thanks.
So I imagine those people in Illinois were pretty surprised this morning. I'm sure many were frightened. As frightened as I would be to see a tornado roaring up Sunset Blvd.
But lucky me, I have a basement.
So which natural disaster most concerns you? And are you prepared?
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
We have seasons.
We have Awards Season
We have Fire Season
and we have the Holiday Shopping Season
And in between each season there are subtle changes in weather.
Or not so subtle.
For example, last Friday was pleasantly perfect. Yesterday it was ridiculously hot, somewhere in the 90’s. And as I type this it is 93 degrees outside.
And it’s only mid-April.
Of course, as soon as we take the comforter off the bed, the nighttime temperature will drop by 20 degrees. It’s a little game we play with the gods every year. They always win.
I’ve started taking more frequent walks in my neighborhood. The problem is that I am not an early riser and by the time I manage to drag my lazy self out onto the pavement it is already up into the high 80’s.
Oooh, but what a pleasure it is to return to my cool, cool house. Way too many trees shade us on our eastern side but they are much appreciated on these days. And all the insulation recently stuffed into the walls and into the attic will really make a difference this summer, otherwise known as Hollywood Bowl Season.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I am in no way endorsing John McCaine, but sometimes older is better. And sometimes, way older is way better. I was fascinated by an article about sustainability in this month’s Dwell. (yes, I live in a Craftsman but with fantasies of a Modern.)
The article mentioned Windcatchers. I’m a theatre geek, not an engineering geek; I understand nothing about how anything works and I am rarely curious about the mechanics of things.
Monday, April 7, 2008
And yes, that is what my cabinets and counter top looked like. But I take responsibility for the color. Just a test.
And the days of louvered windows letting dirt and dust into my kitchen are gone forever!And in case you're wondering about the kitten, she returned from her bath more beautiful than ever:
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Here's the same space with the new drywall. Contrary to appearances, the ladder is not a permanent fixture.
Grilles and screens are still in the box. Next up, the side-facing window for the living room and a window for the kitchen. We expect the two special windows that are coming directly from Pella to arrive this week.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
If you think she looks mad here, just wait until Sunday.
But the good news is that the worst has passed. The walls are all primed and ready for the next step. Several of the new windows have arrived and are waiting to be picked up.
Why were these louvered windows ever invented in the first place?
Safe from the prying eyes of the 2nd story tenants next door.
This pic is without the vent parts in place. The wooden box to the right is where the whole house fan will vent while providing a nice high perch for kitty.
Fan with ugly vent
The bottom step used to overlap the doorway by about 4 inches.
And, great news, K scored on a pair of beautiful, mahogany pocket doors! He found them at Santa Fe Wrecking Company http://www.santafewrecking.com/ and they're in excellent condition. That means no stripping, staining or sanding (for this project at least.)
Pic is door on it's side.
The doors were salvaged from a Craftsman in Pasadena that was torn down to build condos. Sad. But we're happy we can give them a good home.
And speaking of Pasadena, is anyone going to the Bungalow Heaven Home Tour on April 27th?