Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's 4 am. Do I know where I am?

K cut the butcher block counter-tops today. We picked them up at Ikea this morning and then he cut.

But we got a late start. And we hadn't done our homework. While he cut, I went online to see how they should be treated. I remembered reading somewhere that the cut edges needed to be treated differently than the rest. Except, I couldn't remember where I read it or exactly what it said. The advice I finally found said the cut edges would need 4 coats of sealant. And each coat needs 4 hours in-between to dry. And the 3rd coat was due at 4 am. K said two coats would be enough. I insisted we follow the directions. He said, in that case, he would set an alarm and get up. I said, "don't be silly. I'll can do that much myself."

Except, I tend to ignore alarms. I hate being told what to do, especially by alarms. So I stayed up. Not too difficult. I had stuff to do - long neglected paperwork and paper organizing. And Borat was on HBO.

But now it's time to tend to my duty. And go to bed. K can do the 8 am coat.

Oh, and our fabulous plumber will be here at 9 complete the sink and dishwasher.

Yay! Progress!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fit in a soffit?

Still can't decide if you want a kitchen soffit or not? I came across this video today. It might help you decide.

If you or the kiddies are sensitive to FCC restricted language, you might want to turn down the sound. - Watch more free videos

That guy shouldn't complain. It was time to do something about that ugly wallpaper.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Top 5 Totally Uncool Things About My 'hood - #4 in a series

#2B – Plenty of Pavement

When we first moved in, the window at the top of our stairs had the best of all the views in the house. The house whose backyard abuts ours had a huge rubber tree in which lived a bounty of birds. There was also a tall palm tree. The view beyond and through the trees led to hillsides. It was pleasant.

Then one day, incited by the sound of chainsaws, I looked out the window and saw a crew of men preparing to bring down both mature trees. For months afterward, the backyard stood bare and unused. Then one day, I saw a crew of men preparing to pour cement.

This is our view today.

So, now he has parking. I sympathize with his parking predicament. But he could have had both trees and parking if he had given this plan any thought. Now, the summer heat bounces off all that cement. The rare rainfall is washed into the storm drains.

The real problem is not just about spoiling my view. The real problem is that paving over front and back yards is a common solution in my neighborhood. Sometimes it’s a solution to the parking problem. Sometimes it’s just a solution to yard maintenance.

There are property rights activists who will argue that the homeowner should have the right of total control over his own land. But not all homeowners have enough sense to know what is best for their land. Certainly not all homeowners consider what is best for their own property values or for the environment.

I wouldn’t want a city agency giving me an edict about how I use my yard; but I can’t say that I want my neighbors to be free to do whatever they please.

It’s the conundrum of living in a free society and the answer to why the phenomenon of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions was created.

Plenty of property rights. Too much pavement.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What Would Jeannie Do?

You know how you're always seeing stories about an image of Jesus in a tortilla or a vision of Mary in a muffin tin? And then the owners of these hallowed products go on to sell them on Ebay, (because that's what Jesus would want) and the buyer is usually the online gambling site, who buys the item purely for the publicity value (again, exactly what Jesus would want).

On Red Hill, we have our own miraculous vision which has come to us in the form of a patch of varnish that has come off a crappy interior door that came with the house.

Except, instead of any member of the Holy Family, we have what appears to be I Dream of Jeannie.
Do you see it too?

The little bun with the pony tail looping down? I even imagine that scarf, which I believe Jeannie abandoned in the later seasons.

This resemblance is as good as any image that makes the news.

I wonder how much our door would fetch on Ebay?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Think I Have a Sickness

It's likely not terminal, but there is definitely something wrong with me.

Otherwise, why would I have saved years of issues of Metropolitan Home?

Why did I even subscribe to Metropolitan Home? It's true that I live in a densely populated metropolitan area, but my 1909 kinda-sorta Craftsman is never going to have the look of the houses featured in Metropolitan Home.

OK, so I subscribed. No big deal. But why did I hold onto those issues all these years, thinking that when my home was ready to decorate that I would go back and refer to them.

What was I thinking?

And why do I have all these issues of Dwell?

I took the Met Homes to the office where they were gladly devoured but I'm not giving up the Dwells. No way. I'm holding on to the Dwells.

Here's where the magazines had been living -

- along with bird seed and spray cleaner. I have no idea where they'll go now that the area is about to undergo its face lift. But I'm keeping the Dwells. My excuse is that Dwell is really about the articles, not just the pretty pictures.

Anyway, what kind of a psycho subscribes to Metropolitan Home and Dwell and American Bungalow? Those three aesthetics have nothing to do with each other.

Is that a sickness or what?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Good News/Bad News - Part II

The GOOD NEWS is that the floor guy can start on August 20th, just after the guests have left.

The BAD NEWS is that Lumber Liquidators cannot get the Red Oak we want until the end of the month.

Oy. It's always something.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Good News/Bad News - Part I

The GOOD NEWS is that, just in time for my birthday next weekend, we shall be receiving out of town guests. For one, a dear, dear, DEAR friend from college, whom I rarely see because he currently resides in NYC and hasn't visited our coast in years, is flying west just to help me celebrate. PLUS, K's daughter, K the Younger (aka Dr. K) is flying here with a friend. K the Younger lives in Auburn AL, where she does something scientific involving animals. Dead ones. She's kind of like an agricultural William Peterson, but not as arrogant. And she trains horses. Live ones. For fun and profit.

The plan is that K the Younger and friend will return to Auburn in the pick-up K inherited from his step-dad. As we approach the end of the remodel, the theory is that we will no longer need a pick-up and we certainly don't need a third vehicle to park. The younger K can use a pick-up, what with the horses and all. People with horses seem to need pick-up trucks in the way that people with children need mini-vans or SUVs. Us? All we need is more parking.

The BAD NEWS is that the house isn't ready to receive guests. And my friend, CK, (a lot of Ks in my life) has never seen the house, not even in it's truly awful state. I would have preferred to introduce him to it in its finished state - or its truly awful state. But not in this, "we're almost there but not quite state." Oh well. I'll just be happy to see him.

Oh, and one more thing. With uninstalled appliances and still-in-their-boxes kitchen cabinets taking up valuable space, I have nowhere to put all these people.

I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. In three days.

Big Brother Travels Through Time

Hey, fellow blog readers! In case you missed the story on NPR, I want to let you know that you can now read George Orwell's diaries in blog form.

An organization called The Orwell Prize is posting the diary entries, in real time, exactly 70 years after they were written. The diary begins being about his domestic life and then starting in September, the writings (the political diaries) will reflect Mr. Orwell's observations of events leading up to and into World War II.

I, for one, will be watching.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I'm telling you why.

I called it the Santa Claus Comes to Town fireplace.

When we bought the house in 2002, the fireplace looked like this -

- actually, when we bought it, it didn't have that Ikea cabinet in front of it. I wish I had an unencumbered picture. They must be on film, in storage. Anyway, we just kept that cabinet there to keep the dirt in and the cat out. Ugh. Can you believe we lived with THAT as our living room for 5 years?

I cannot grasp why anyone would paint a brick fireplace bright red with white grout lines. And in super gloss, no less. If the choices had been anything else, it would have been better. If it had been glossy Moss Green paint or eggshell Battleship Gray paint, it would have been better. If it had been bright red, but matte, it would have been better. But nothing, nothing could have been worse than the combination we were given.

For years, I agonized over our options. Should I just paint over the brick? If so, what color should I choose? Should I use a matte finish or a semi-gloss?

Should we strip the paint off and expose the natural brick? We tried this with a single brick and revealed an ugly, unappealing old brick. But, I rationalized, it would be authentic - what would have been here when the house was first built.

Then I thought, should we tile over the brick? This was my preferred option, but the most expensive (of course).

Finally, when we were ready to tackle the fireplace, the decision was made for us. As we had never used the fireplace before and as we had no reason to believe it didn't need some work, K arranged for an inspection. Yep, it needed some work, alright.

The inspector sent a beam of light up the flue. Then, K and the inspector observed the results from the attic. It was like George H.W.'s Thousand Points of Light. Light burst from all the gaps and cracks in the mortar. And there was worse. Standing on the rooftop, the inspector poked at the chimney with his finger. The chimney wobbled. It actually swayed!

With the help of Mr. U and Mr. Blue, the fireplace was gone by the end of the month.

Mr. U

And that's how the old fireplace became this -

- and how we ended up with a new gas fireplace, which today, looks like this:

Keep in mind that the tile still needs to be applied and the mantel still needs to be made (from a redwood beam taken from the house).

We didn't know what to do with the stack of several hundred bricks. K had an idea to pave the side of the house or the driveway with it - when he was done with everything else. Yeah, right. Like I need a huge stack of bricks to navigate around until he gets "done with everything else." Besides, they needed cleaning - all the mortar and the paint. Another huge task in itself.

K thought (briefly) about just pitching them. In a landfill? But we decided to list them on Craigslist. Who knew there was such a demand for old bricks? There were several inquiries but the winner was a woman who promised to give them a good home in her 1902 Victorian in Pasadena. She was thrilled to find bricks that matched the age of her home for her restoration.

I'm writing this now, because I'm really grateful that last week's quake didn't happen 10 months ago when we still had a tower of delicately balanced bricks sitting in our dining room.

And speaking of Pasadena . . . our mahogany pocket doors came from a Craftsman in Pasadena. Hmm. Maybe Pasadena is a vortex of restoration?

Or maybe it's just Santa, bringing all the good girls and boys what they really need.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Don't mess with me, Mu$!

Ech! I had to do physical labor today. A woman and two helpers came by on Saturday morning and took away the last of the stack of hundreds of bricks that had once been our fireplace and chimney. She has a hundred-year old Victorian in Pasadena, so she was happy to have hundred-year old brick. I'm happy to have it out of my way.

But, they left behind a big bricky mess of chipped off mortar.

K said that he would clean it up. Like he doesn't have enough to do. The worst part is, he has a play opening next weekend, so this weekend he's deep into rehearsals, putting in 13+ hour days. So nothing is getting done on the house. And he's going to sweep up brick dust?

So I did it. No reason not to, other than my general prissiness. And my allergies. It did make me awfully sneezy but somehow I lived.

Once that job was done, I decided to sweep off the 17 steps that lead up to the house since the steps were also filthy with brick dust. With broom in hand, I decided I might as well sweep up the leaves the huge ficus tree dropped on the sidewalk. Then I decided to tear out some Bermuda grass that was taking over the parkway area. Nothing that I actually want will grow in that area but for some reason Bermuda grass always thrives. By then, it was like 2:00. I hadn't had breakfast and I was starving. I kept thinking I would be done very soon. I hadn't planned to spend all this time on this. I still had the back patio I wanted to sweep up and plants that needed to be watered.

And then I saw it . . .

I really didn't need this today. Some little punk had tagged my retaining wall with a Sharpie. It's hard to tell in the photo but in my best interpretation of Taggerglyph, it looked like it said Mu$ is Che.

I don't know anything about Mu$ and I suspect that Mu$ doesn't really know anything about Che. As far as Mu$ is concerned, Che is some guy on a T-shirt, but Mu$ wants to be him and I suppose that tagging a wall on somebody's home is his idea of a revolutionary act.

Hey, Mu$, why don't you go tag a house in Beverly Hills? I dare you. You could even take the bus. Get on the 304 right at the corner. It'll take you right into the residential district of Beverly Hills. You wouldn't even have to transfer. Use your Sharpie on the houses of the rich, why don't you? You're such a brave little revolutionary, why are you wasting your time preaching to the choir in Red Hill?

I finished my sweeping, found the paint for the wall, painted out the tag and then made myself some lunch.