Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin and the home mortgage crisis

I remember when I first became aware of George Carlin. He hosted the very first episode of Saturday Night Live. I don't remember his routine that night but he has fascinated me ever since. He was one of the funniest people of the 20th century and his scathing observations of our culture will be greatly missed.

What does George Carlin have to do with homes and the mortgage crisis? He had the nerve to point out (to me anyway) that a house is nothing more than a place to keep your stuff and that we materialistic Americans have way more stuff than we know what to do with. He showed us that we load ourselves down and surround ourselves with a lot of meaningless stuff and that it is all just a weight upon us.

And that is why so many of us are in trouble today. Because we bought bigger houses than we could really afford because we have so, so, so much stuff.

Thank you, George. I wish more of us had listened.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I had to hit the snooze button

For anyone who's been keeping track of my June 20th deadline, uh, mission not accomplished.

The day came. It went. K worked late and returned home to find me cranky and overly-reflective. The clock is ticking in so many ways. How I would hate to come to the end of my days on this earth and never have been able to sit comfortably in my beautiful home that I'd spent so long planning and shopping for? How I would I hate to live out the rest of my life living in one cramped room like Soviet-era Muscovites. How I would hate for my tombstone to read "She never saw the end to the dust."

Can you tell I have a big birthday coming up? - a birthday that I had wanted to celebrate with a big party? - a big party IN MY OWN HOME WITH MY OWN STUFF THAT'S BEEN PACKED UP IN STORAGE FOR HOW LONG NOW?????????????

Forgive me, we old people get testy sometimes. Even bitter, if we spend too long in self-reflection.

It's best to keep the television on all the time. It saves us from reflecting on ourselves.

Ok, here's the list and what's left to be done (from my original post):

Installing the whole house fan - DONE

- Installing the new fireplace - DONE
- Building the fireplace facade - DONE
- Creating the new mantel
- Selecting and ordering tile for the fireplace facade - DONE (well, the selecting, not so much the ordering)
- Tiling the fireplace facade

- Installing the kitchen cabinets (delivered and patiently waiting in their boxes)
- Installing tile mural back splash behind the stove
- Buying the new stove (and the new dishwasher, the new refrigerator and the new range hood)
- Installing all of the above appliances

- Installing library/living room pocket doors (2) - DONE
- Installing kitchen/hallway pocket door (1) - DONE
- Installing closet door
- Finding and installing new front door (somewhere in here I'm sure there will be some stripping, sanding, sanding, sanding, staining involved)

- placing glass block in the upper window - DONE
- covering banister with veneers and moulding
- re-covering treads and risers

- Building bookcases
- Building window seat
- Buying and installing the new hardwood floors

Painting - mostly DONE

Hooking up door bell - DONE

I forgot to include in my original list the replacement of six windows. That's why I'm not put in charge of anything. Anyway, the windows were a big project that is now done.

From now on, no more deadlines. We want it done well, not just DONE.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Painted into a corner

Good news - K started painting the remaining rooms yesterday

First, we covered the new windows with plastic.

I'm not sure the kitten approved.

K paints the upper half with Tealight from Sherwin Williams.

The lower 48" will be covered with walnut stained wainscot.

The kitten inspects the progress in the future dining room.

Bad news - I've been trapped upstairs all day. Without warning, K taped plastic over the bedroom door and the door to the guest bath - limiting access to both bathrooms, and to my cell phone and to any laundry that I thought I might do today. And then, once he started working on the ceiling over the stairway, I couldn't even leave the upstairs office.

Oh well. I'm just happy to see the paint go up.

Fred's Before and After Contest

This is a great challenge for a worthy cause. I love to see remodeling Before and After pics. My biggest gripe about most home design magazines is that there aren't enough Before and Afters. Or that the Befores often to seem to be shot in black & white, as if the the renovation weren't dramatic enough. If you have some good before and after pics from this season's projects, check out the Before and After - Summer 2008 post at One Project Closer. Fred's hosting a great challenge to benefit a great cause, Habitat for Humanity. There's a $50 gift card prize, so do enter.

In the meantime, this is a good excuse for me to post before and after pics from some of our earlier projects. They're all from years past, so not eligible for the current challenge:

Our backyard jungle under the care of the Previous Owners

K builds a deck . . .

The finished deck (with jungle tamed) from the other end . . .

Our little Eden in the back corner, with a terra cotta snake and SynLawn

When we first moved in, the house was surrounded by chain link fence,
with this gate . . .

In 2005, we built a new fence with a new gate . . .
and this corner . . .
became this corner . . .

Previous Owners enjoyed designing with eagles and plastic flowers

Their bedroom became our eagle-free guest room

with wall-mounted sling for our stuffed animals

and doubles as a home office with computer armoire . . .

I hope to have something current for Fred by the end of the summer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No estates for me, thanks.

Maybe I'm old fashioned. When I hear the word "estate" I think of something that might have belonged to the Biltmores or the Vanderbilts or Mary Pickford.

Or maybe the mortgage crisis has resulted in a redefinition of the word "estate."

This ad for burglar bars and security doors was in my daily junk mail recently. Apparently, the addition of these items will transform my house from a bungalow to an estate. And on approved credit, I won't have to pay for 12 months!

Most of my neighbors would be surprised to learn they are living on an estate. I wish I'd known all this before we removed all the burglar bars that came with our house. Little did I know I was downgrading instead of upgrading my home - like those people who put the popcorn ceilings in their Craftsman homes way back when.

My favorite part is where the ad touts "not prison looking." Now that's classy!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Say NO to Prop. 98 and also to parking lot petitions

If you are a voter in the state of California and tempted to vote in favor of Proposition 98 (which is ostensibly about eminent domain reform but, which in fact, will eliminate rent control in the state), consider that fanning the flames of class division historically does not bring peace or prosperity to either class.

Homeowners do need protection from improper eminent domain actions. But in seeking this protection, we should not destroy the hard won victories of rent control. The Kelo decision has divided the commercial property class against the homeowner class. As voters, we should not allow Proposition 98 to divide the homeowner class against the renter class.

If the authors of Proposition 98 truly intended to merely protect against eminent domain seizure, why would the elimination of rent control be included?

This is what comes of supermarket canvassing. Too many of us are signing petitions in supermarket parking lots. We don’t read the texts of what we sign. Some guy asks us if we want to advance what sounds like a good cause, in this case, eminent domain reform, and we sign. Then, enough of us either don’t vote or don’t understand the consequences of what we are voting for and bad laws are made.

Don’t throw our renter comrades to the wolves. We’re all better than that.

Thanks, Jenny Holzer