December 11, 2008
November 11, 2008
So I've been wanting to replace the living room rug. It's a big rug, 8x10 and I'm not even sure I know what to look for in a rug. The point is, I found a rug that I like, I think I like? A rug that I'm second guessing myself on, but is a nice rug. It isn't girly and it's a nice neutral color. The urgency is that there are fewer than 48 left in the US (I know because the nice people at Pottery Barn can't order it for me and I have to pay the extra shipping to have it delivered to the house). But the price is right, and I can deal with the shipping cost (plus it will come right to the house and I don't have to figure out how to get an 8x10 rug in the daewoo). Do I just get the rug, do I wait for something "better"?
Rug: Braid Rug from Pottery Barn
Fabric (for drapes): Harmony (Spa) by Waverly
Sofa: Corona from Macys
Morris Chair: came with the house (needs to be recovered)
Paint: proposed color Glass Bottom Boat by Martha Stewart for Valspar
November 6, 2008
Although we've lived in the house a year now, the kitchen hasn't changed since we moved in. The new flooring went in a year ago and since then we've lived with the kitchen as is. Which means the cupboard doors are off since the doors had so much paint on them they didn't operate, the microwave sits on some old melamine shelves, the slide in range we bought to have a more built-in look just sits there with its unfinished sides exposed. The only functional prep space in the kitchen is actually the "custom" cupboard we built to fit first in our apartment and then retrofitted for the previous house and now it sits in front of the superfluous door that will soon be eliminated from the kitchen floor plan. There are just so many things that need to be done in the kitchen it was hard to get started. I bought a new sink and faucet last year, but can't install them until the counter tops are replaces, which can't happen until the existing lower cabinets are adjusted to accommodate a dishwasher (yea!) and of course there is always plumbing and electrical adjustments necessary for all this.
The new cabinets in the sketch above will go on the stove wall opposite the sink. There are no cabinets and no counter tops existing on that side of the room. When we moved in the stove and refrigerator were side by side in the space between two doors and the outlet for the refrigerator is located directly above the stove top (handy right?). The refrigerator was relocated to the basement and a new built-in undercounter fridge goes in the former breakfast area. I know some people couldn't live with the fridge in the basement, but it isn't very far, it doesn't hurt to have to go up and down a few stairs every day and it took up so much space (physically and visually).
The push for the kitchen right now is that my dad volunteered to make the new cabinets this week. This doesn't mean they will be done this week, but soon, and a lot sooner than they would be at the rate I was previously going. I took new measurements and designed the new cabinets to exactly match the existing ones. However the new base cabinets will have drawers instead of doors with full extension 100 lb drawer slides - so much more functional. I'm also matching the hardware to the existing but I'm a little torn over getting the really nice cast brass latches or the inexpensive pressed plated steel latches. The original latches are plated steel (and as such may need to be replaced also) so it's not like the originals were the top o' the line quality either. It's just the cost. The nice ones cost almost 5 times as much bringing the hardware cost for the upper cabinet to about $180. Uh, that's a lot right? It's all that brass that costs so much but brass doesn't rust which is nice for a kitchen.
The wood above is the countertops - american cherry butcher block. Due to cost and time they'll be coming from Lumber Liquidators and finished with Waterlox. Around the sink it will take six coats to properly protect the wood (six coats!) and four on on the other surfaces. Waterlox is a strong but renewable finish that offers more protection than mineral oil, but can be touched up, unlike polyurethanes.
So that's the plan anyway. I still have to figure out paint for the cabinets and walls, scrape and prep the cabinets (new and old), and figure out that plumbing/electrical stuff for the dishwasher (yea!). Can you tell I'm excited? I almost can't believe that we're on the way to having one room in the house "done." It's a start.
October 31, 2008
I created a table to calculate the return on our investment of a new furnace. It's a little tricky to read because oil is purchased in batches and gas is paid per month so the percentage will shrink until the next hypothetical oil delivery then shoot back up. The most accurate numbers will be at the end of each heating season. Since we have and electric hot water tank it will be easy to see exactly how much fuel the furnace is consuming. I'll update it once a month after I pay the utility bill. Even though gas/oil prices have dropped since this summer, I still believe that we will make back our money on this thing. And bonus: no more stinky petroleum smell in the basement. Actually right now it's pretty bad because they had to cut open the tank to remove it but it will dissipate and we'll have an big new storage room downstairs. Don't tell Paul, but it would be the perfect room to make beer in (dark, cool). I want to finish the floor with some self-leveling cement and add insulation (especially around the coal door since it gets pretty cold in there, maybe put in a "real" light fixture.
October 22, 2008
September 29, 2008
Once I find out when the actual installation date is, if it looks like we have plenty of oil left, I might just crank that thermostat up to 71F while I'm at home! (which, btw, is never so I guess I'll turn up the heat for Paul and Yoshi.)
September 26, 2008
After I moved on to other jobs, the city council finally took action and passed a resolution to extend benefits to all employees but without cooperation from the unions (all city employees except the city council and 9-12 other people below to one of the 5 unions) only a few people could even take advantage of the option. Last year the Police guild voted to include the benefits extension in its new contract and finally this month the largest union (local 270) included extended benefits in their contract renegotiation. There are still city employees not included but I think after this the remaining smaller unions will follow. Below is the editorial from the paper (which I would link to, but you can only access articles if you're a subscriber) this morning. I think it sums everything up very well. It isn't very often that I can be proud of the city I live in. But I know I'm not alone.
*He was a closeted gay Republican who was eventually forced out of office by scandal.
Our View: Benefits shouldn't be based on sexual orientation
September 26, 2008
Let's imagine that from the beginning governmental bodies granted partnership benefits for gay and lesbian workers. What would happen in tough budget years? Would employers target certain workers and rescind the medical coverage for family members? Of course not. Such discrimination would be so outrageous that it wouldn't even be proposed. Instead, if benefits had to be cut, it would be done across the board.
So why is it so difficult for government leaders to understand that it is wrong to balance budgets by blocking benefits based on sexual orientation?
The city of Spokane just agreed to partner benefits for the largest employee union at City Hall. We think the compensation package of salary and benefits is too generous, but the solution would be to pare it for all workers, not to discriminate. The city made the right choice in treating all workers equitably.
That isn't the decision the county made when negotiating with its largest union, Local 1553 of the Washington Council of County and City Employees. The county conceded bereavement and sick leave benefits for workers with same-sex partners but held the line on medical benefits. The county's position is to wait and see how much the new benefits cost before considering medical coverage. Presumably if they cost too much, then gay and lesbian workers will continue to be singled out as budget balancing tools.
This is plainly wrong. Equity and fairness should not be held back until tax receipts are calculated. As is, gay and lesbian workers are a bargain. If the county wanted to base these decisions solely on the bottom line, it would be smarter to discriminate against workers with children or those who are older and sicker. Basic decency would head off such budgeting myopia, but when it comes to gay and lesbian workers, it's somehow OK to penalize them.
In addition, the cost to extend the benefits isn't that great. A grand total of three people signed up when the Spokane Police Guild got partner benefits. Extending such benefits is lost in the churn of other workers getting married, divorced and having children.
County Commissioner Mark Richard opposes medical benefits for gay and lesbian workers but says the new bereavement benefits for gay and lesbian workers were "the right thing to do." Equal medical benefits are also the right thing to do and for the same reason.
He notes that marriage has value. It sure does. You can get better benefits. But that option isn't available to gay and lesbian workers. But that's not what he meant by "value." He was moralizing. Just as City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin did when she said partner benefits are against her core values.
The message to gay and lesbian workers is clear: Turn straight, get married and then – and only then – will you be eligible for the same compensation. Oh, and it would be helpful if you did that in a good budget year.
Such a position is embarrassing, but fortunately it is on the run.
September 16, 2008
The one thing we did inside the house before we moved in last year was replace the floors in the bathroom and the kitchen. I knew that it was something that would never get done once we were living there. Both rooms had old vinyl flooring over the original linoleum and in the bathroom both were in super bad shape, discolored, rotting, generally yucky. The kitchen had some 50+ year old vinyl that was super heavy duty, but split and peeling up at the seams.
Paul started the task of pulling up the old flooring, which in the bathroom turned out to be rather difficult. The linoleum was rotted and crumbling so it came up in tiny pieces and the tar paper backing was glued on there tight. Like most bathrooms I've seen the floor under the toilet was in the worst shape. I knew there would be issues since there was substantial water damage, missing plaster and rotten lathe, in the basement under the bathroom. So it shouldn't have been a surprise that the sub-floor and the sub-sub-floor were both completely disintegrating as well as part of the wall in the corner. It's kind of a miracle the toilet didn't fall through the floor actually since there wasn't much support. See the drain pipe for the toilet? This picture is from before we removed most of the rotted sub-floor and wall. There just wasn't anything there. My dad helped us out with fixing the floor with bondo, a 2x8 and some chip board.
After the sub-floor was structurally sound, a layer of cement board and ceramic tile went down. We went with the octagon and dot Dal tile instead of hex tile because Paul liked it better--I think that's a good enough reason. We also used a grey grout instead of white and I like the contrast with the white field tiles and will probably do the same with the wall tiles, and it avoids the future issues of dirty looking white grout everyone complains about. It took over a week (two weeks?) to do this since we could only work Sunday-Tuesday nights or Saturday day.
We ordered the tile from a local tile shop and had excellent customer service. I know the same tile is also available at HD or Lowes but after ordering the kitchen tiles from there I'm loathe to special order anything there again.
September 12, 2008
In the first year we have:
1. Tiled the kitchen floor
2. Tiled the bathroom floor
3. Replaced the roof
4. Ripped out existing Giant junipers
5. Removed sod from front yard, parking strip, and veg garden area
6. Planted perennials in the front/side yard
7. Hung curtains in bedroom (to replace sheet in window)
8. Installed bedroom closet organizer
Things I thought we'd have done by now (still to do):
1. Rewire the house
2. Build new cabinets for the stove side of the kitchen
3. Build new counter tops for kitchen
4. Scrape/paint all cabinets in kitchen
5. Paint living room / dining room / bedroom / bathroom / other bedroom / kitchen
6. Re tile bathroom walls
7. Unpack boxes in back bedroom and attic
8. Sew living room drapes (have fabric already)
9. Have a washer/dryer
Maybe I was unrealistic about what would get done the first year. I know we could have done more. If we had spend weekends and weeknights and really pushed to get things done. But we're busy and I guess it wasn't a priority. Some things are starting to be come a priority again, like the kitchen and bathroom, but it's that time of year when I don't have a lot of time again, so we'll see.
September 9, 2008
Removing all the 40-year-old aluminum trim exposed all the weathered trim with flaking peeling paint - which is why the aluminum went up in the first place. I have to re-paint the trim and soffits soon but the windows can wait. I can't take the aluminum off until I remove the aluminum storm windows, which will wait until I get new ones. Since the house is brick (tan with red accents - not white brick like I mistakenly told someone looking for my house once) I won't be changing the body color ever. No, no, no on the painted brick. The top layer of chipped paint on the trim is white. It's petty, but I don't want white trim. Everyone has white trim, it just seems so easy, so common. The bottom layer (original) paint on the trim is off-white. Okay, that's a little better. I tried thinking of other trim colors that would work like tans, and browns but that could get heavy and could be hard to match to the dirty/filthy creamy tan color of the brick. So off-white/lite cream it is.
The main trim wraps around the bottom of the roof and the soffits. One of the surprises was that the fascia board has an ogee profile (think crown molding) and the soffits are bead board. Fancy, but scraping the old paint will be a little more of a pain in the ass. Although I'll carry the cream paint to the window trim I want to do something different on the window casements - you know, the window part of the window. The house has inward swinging casement windows instead of the more common double-hung sash window. While scraping the interior of the bathroom window last weekend I hit the exterior of the window with the sander to knock off some blistering paint and noticed that under the bright green top layer was a more subtle light green paint. I'm starting to think the exterior of the house was only painted the two times - when the house was built and then again in the 40s or early 50s - and then came the aluminum.
While I hate the current green color (type "bright green" in Google image search and the first four results...that's the color of my windows right now and with 8-9 panes each that's a lot of green)I am still open to the light green option. However, originally the roof was green too. Green stained cedar shakes. While ripping off the layers of roofing we found:
1. Green shakes
2. Red diamond shaped asphalt shingles (French Method)with an embossed wave pattern
3. Green interlocking (T-lock) asphalt shingles with a large embossed wood grain pattern
4. Red (w/ black & green flecks) 3-tab shingles
If you are interested in the history of asphalt shingles, I found this engrossing article from Old House Journal.
So now that the roof is red, I'm thinking of red for the windows too. Perhaps like the persimmon shade I painted the back door (I'll get a picture of it soon.)
I found an excerpt from The Household Painter (1923), by A. Ashmun Kelly on the Old-House Journal website with some advice on selecting house colors:
- Color choices should not be made by personal preference alone.
- Exterior colors should be chosen according to the style of the house.
- Location of the house and the surroundings should weigh in on the decision.
- In suburban settings, colors should harmonize with nearby houses, not duplicate them—cooperate, don't compete.
- Large houses painted in medium to dark colors recede into the background.
- Large houses painted in light colors stand apart from the background.
September 8, 2008
When we bought the house last year I had mixed feelings over the oil fired furnace. I've never had oil heat and it's not that common here on the west coast. I did a little online research and heard a lot of people touting the comfort of oil heat, the competitive price of oil vs natural gas and yet we were already seeing rising gas prices so I knew it wouldn't be cheap. I planned on replacing it (it was 20 years old) but I thought I could hold out though, for a little while. Just a few years of oil might be okay and give me time to make a decision on the next type of furnace. I didn't want to jump to the default of natural gas (the most common choice) since we do have inexpensive electric on the west coast too. None of that mattered though when I saw No. 1 heating oil prices nearing $5/gallon this summer. The price has come down some since (to around $4/gallon) but that could still cost us an additional $430 this winter and believe me, the house is never really warm.
I had a sales rep from a local heating company come to the house to do a quote last week. I wanted to know what all my options were so I could compare the price breaks between the regular, efficient, and super-efficient options. I asked around to get a ball park idea of what it might cost but I was still scared it would be more than I thought, or that I might be required to replace duct work throughout the house. So 80% efficiency is considered normal or average for a furnace and then there's a jump up to 92% efficiency which is energy efficient and if you add a variable speed fan you get another 3%. The price break from 80% to 92% is $450 and then from 92% to 95% is $1100 + $212 for a new thermostat.
I want to be super efficient. I want that variable speed fan. However, that $1300 could be better spent on other things like weather stripping, new storm windows, insulation for the attic. It would take so long to see a return on that additional cost but just moving from the ~60-70% efficient oil furnace to a 92% gas furnace, we will recoup our money in less than 6 years (and I hope that is a conservative estimate). oh, and the local utility company offers a $400 rebate for any gas furnace over 90% AFU making the price difference between the 80% and 92% so small I don't see how anyone could choose the less efficient one. Now I have to call and schedule the installation I guess.
*Carry the log upstairs and throw it out a window. Retrieve the log and repeat.
August 26, 2008
Paul is coming home tomorrow at 5, which is why I wanted to clean the house. And by clean the house I really mean that I just want to pick up all the shoes and clean off the dining table and maybe do the dishes - nothing hard. But last night after I ate my frozen burrito and chips with salsa I just didn't want to. So, I watched Army Wives and then Mad Men on the PVR and went to bed. I keep reading advice on "how to keep your house from getting so trashed you want to burn it all" and they all say to spend 5-15 minutes everyday just picking up the clutter, throwing away the junk mail and maybe doing a few dishes. And when I do these things I'm still amazed at how big of a difference I can make in such a short time but usually I just can't make myself do it. I look at that plate and glass on the table, or that pile of junk mail, or the two pairs of shoes under the table and something inside me just goes, "Uhg, I can't." And I don't. I walk away, and then I'm embarrassed that someone might see that I live in clutterdom and can't manage to take my laundry detergent to the basement...you know, since I'm going down there anyway?
Tonight I have rehearsal again, so when I get home tonight at 9 or later I'll have to make that final decision, "do I pick everything up, or let Paul come home after 4 months to a messy house." I guess if it was clean it might give off the impression that I've kept it that way all summer, which would be a lie. But I do feel a juvenile sense of accomplishment when the house is tidy, almost how I feel when something grows in the yard like, "oh, look, I made a flower!" Ridiculous-I know. However, right now I have made lots of flowers and if I just cleaned up the shoes, vacuumed the floor and cleared off the table I could put a bunch in a vase and feel like I live like a normal person - or at least like the kind of person who cleans their house and has cut flowers.
*or, How In the Amount of Time it Took For Me to Write This I Could Have Finished Everything I'm Dreading.
August 11, 2008
The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed.
1) Bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
4) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (I read at least three of them, just haven't gotten to the rest.)
5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
6) The Bible (Well, you know, most of it.)
7) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
8) Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell
9) His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
10) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
11) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
12) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (I read this because it was on a list of banned books, which is also why I started ready Harry Potter too.)
13) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (I bought it once, but never read it)
14) Complete Works of Shakespeare (my parents had the actual complete book)
15) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
16) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (and yet I've never read the Lord of the Rings books)
17) Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
18) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
19) The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
20) Middlemarch by George Eliot
21) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
22) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
24) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (I read this in HS and didn't really enjoy it)
25) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
26) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (Is it bad that the upcoming movie makes me want to read this book?)
27) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28) Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
29) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
30) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
31) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (I think jr. high was a little too young to read this though, I should try it again.)
32) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
33) Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
34) Emma by Jane Austen
35) Persuasion by Jane Austen
36) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis
37) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
38) Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
39) Memories of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
40) Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne
41) Animal Farm by George Orwell
42) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (I'm not sure I would ever want to read this book, except to understand why everyone loved it so much.)
43) One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44) A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving
45) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
46) Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
47) Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
48) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
49) Lord of the Flies by William Golding (I re-read the entire book for the third time in one night in HS trying to find a passage referenced by my english teacher.)
50) Atonement by Ian McEwan
51) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
52) Dune by Frank Herbert
53) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
54) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
55) A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
56) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57) A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
58) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (This was my favorite book for a while)
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
60) Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
62) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
63) The Secret History by Donna Tartt
64) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
65) Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
66) On The Road by Jack Kerouac
67) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
68) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
69) Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
70) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
71) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
72) Dracula by Bram Stoker
73) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
74) Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson
75) Ulysses by James Joyce
76) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
77) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
78) Germinal by Emile Zola
79) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
80) Possession by AS Byatt
81) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
82) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
83) The Color Purple by Alice Walker
84) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
85) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
86) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
87) Charlotte's Web by EB White
88) The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
89) Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90) The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton
91) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
92) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93) The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
94) Watership Down by Richard Adams
95) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
96) A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
97) The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98) Hamlet by William Shakespeare (although wasn't this already covered in the complete works?)
99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
100) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (I always meant to, it was a popular book in jr. high)
Seriously I think some of the contemporary books on this list will not stand the test of time, and I can think of some other books I've read that should make the list. Of course this is the list of the 100 most popular books, not books that everyone should read. So what's my total? 49. But then some things on the list are collections, and some are individual books in a series. In addition to books I italicized, I expect I would read a number of the other books that could be considered "classics."
August 8, 2008
The Summer Olympics start today in China at 8:08 pm (in Bejing time, not here obviously, in fact, I think it's already started) I've heard of at least two people (that I know) that are having c-sections or inducing labor today and I'm sure a legion of couples chose today to get married. In Chinese numerology, the number eight is related to prosperity or wealth, but do most of us really believe in that kind of superstition?
From a MSNBC article:
Along with great fortune, the number eight is the atomic number for oxygen. There are eight days of Hanukkah. The symbol for infinity takes on the shape of eight, and there used to be eight planets until Pluto was demoted.
I don't know, that seems like we're reaching a little here, I mean really? Eight planets in our galaxy is some sort of cosmic significance (and then we can't even decide exactly what constitutes a planet?). And the author is wrong anyway since there were nine planets until Pluto was demoted and NOW there are eight. So, magically the number eight is significant (more so than the number 9 apparently) an just in the last year there are officially eight planets in the solar system. Pluto will always be a planet to anyone born prior to 2000 because you can't just start thinking, "oh, yeah, Pluto is a member of the Kuiper belt."
August 5, 2008
1) What were you doing 5 years ago?
Five years ago...I was working for the City as the Human Rights Specialist where I facilitated the Human Rights Commission (meetings, etc), took complaints, and served as a resource for the City and community. But, all this was only a 1/2 time job, so I also worked for PJALS (Peace and Action League of Spokane) and at Bethany Presbyterian Church. I was also sewing costumes for the production of Winnie the Pooh for Spokane Children's Theatre. It wasn't all big furry animal suits, 'cause those are scary. The animals all had ears and tails if appropriate, but Kanga and Roo wore matching blue print dresses with pink ruffled aprons, Eeyore wore grey chords and a big baggy blue cotton sweater (and of course had the pink ribbon on his tail), I also had a whole chorus of 5-year-old bunnies so they were outfitted in green t-shirts and khakis and bunny ear headbands with rabbit #1 and rabbit #2 in plaid button downs, sweater vests and vintage ties. I think the whole scheme worked well with a hint of 1950s inspiration. Of course I don't have any pictures, too bad.
2) What are five things on your to-do list today?
I usually don't have a to-do list, since I do the same thing most weekdays, but today:
1)Go to work
2)Send e-mail about getting quote for a new natural gas furnace to replace our oil furnace that could cost us in excess of $1500 to heat the house this winter.
3)Remember to turn the water off on the soaker hose that I left on along the house this morning and maybe get the other side of the house watered a little too.
4)Go to call backs for Oklahoma! auditions.
5)Try to go to sleep before 11pm
3) What are 5 snacks you enjoy?
I try to keep food in my desk at work so I'm not starving but I've gotten a little low lately. So I like 1) fresh fruit (what ever's in season or in the store during the winter. 2) Almonds (roasted salted ones from Costco) 3) Dried fruit (mostly goes into my oatmeal in the mornings) 4) Carrots and 5) then there's the stuff I love but try to not eat all the time (so it gets grouped into one item) like ice cream, cookies, an occasional chocolate bar, and a good stiff cocktail (not a snack you say? I disagree).
4) what are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?
I don't know what the average person's priorities are for this, but most of the other blogs I've read this post on are also people renovating their old houses and in general are normal people (normal like I'm normal, so what does that me). So, if I were a billionaire (funny how a millionaire isn't sufficient anymore) I would 1) pay off my house 2) pay people to finish the big projects I'm totally dreading like electrical and refinishing the floors 3) Do something for my parents (like send them to that trip to Europe they've talked about) to pay them back for everything they've helped with over the last 12 years since I've become and "adult" 4)Set up some sort of investment retirement plan (just in case you know) and 5)give a lot of money away.
There are a lot of other things I'd do with that money too, so I guess this is just the top five things.
5) What are 5 jobs you've had (or 5 places you've lived)?
Since I've already talked about jobs, I figure I could say five places I've lived, but then I've lived in a lot more that five places. Since I've lived in 5+ cities I thought I would specialize this answer to the five places I've lived in Spokane since moving back.
1) I lived with my parents for six months after moving back to Spokane and did a little house sitting so I could finish a few classes, find a job, and pay off my $900 credit card balance which seemed really big at the time since it was the first time I carried a balance on a card (and I had no income).
2) I moved to a little basement apartment in December (2001) with a roommate (Issac) downtown. I could walk to work, movies, the theatre, the bus station, bars, grocery store. Did I mention that I didn't have a car?
3) Issac moved to Boise for grad school in March of 2003 and Paul and I had gotten involved the previous September and was practically living in my apartment already, so we both moved into a new apartment that he'd signed a lease on across the river by the Courthouse.
4) By the summer of 2005 we were both itching for a little more space and the real estate market kept going up and I started to worry that if we didn't buy soon we'd be priced out. We were in a place where we could afford a house (even though I wasn't working full time again yet after being downsized during city budget cuts) and we started looking for a house. Our budget was $70-85,000. Laughably small now, but I remember then looking at houses I loved that were $92,000 and realizing that we couldn't afford them (now those same houses are 30% more at least). We found a house that I though had potential, it was little (700 sq ft) but had a little basement, but no garage, and the kitchen layout was funky, but after our inspection we had to pull out becuase there were just too many problems. At the same time my mother found us the deal of a century for a rental. All we had to do was clean out the entire house of the previous tenant's stuff, fix everything that had been neglected over a few decades (rip out carpet, paint absolutely everything, replace floors, and clean, clean, clean) but the location was terrific, the rent was a steal, and we could get a dog, so we moved up the hill to 25th.
5)After 2 years of fixing someone else's house and wanting to do even more (but realizing it wasn't worth our time when we'd be moving soon) We started looking for a house to buy again. By this time the market was even hotter than in '05 and even though we had a higher income, we were still looking at the same houses. And some of them literally were the SAME houses back on the market 2 years later but priced 30% higher (and not any nicer than they were before). Our budget started at 100-115,000 this time and we looked at a number of houses. After finding only 2 that were even in reasonable shape (since I was looking for a fixer-upper anyway) and dismissing one because the only bathroom was downstairs next to the kitchen and there was a really weird slope to the floor, we put an offer on a house that was super, but needed a TON of work and wasn't in a great location but close to downtown, close to an emerging neighborhood and on a bus line. Again after the inspection and finding out in addition to all the work I knew about and was cool about (like re-doing all the electrical, replacing the heating system, gut and re-do both bathrooms, fixing the slope in the kitchen floor, re-doing the floors, adding insulation) the roof was also failing. Since the owners weren't willing to budge on the price, or fix the 30 year old roof that they insisted wasn't as bad as the inspector said (he had pictures though, I saw it) we had to let the house go again. And that led us to this house. Our brick bungalow that I saw online and after peeking in the windows one afternoon fell in love with. We got a walk through and made an offer that day. we paid more than the top of our budget, and we still had to replace the roof, and the electrical, and re finish the floors, and scrape paint off everything, but it is in a super neighborhood (sadly no grocery store anymore, but maybe, someday) and we love it here.
July 15, 2008
It took longer than I thought, just like my dad said it would. He has worked tirelessly for the last 11 days and is finally taking the day off (but this afternoon will help me with getting the hips covered). We started ripping off the roof on the 4th (of July) and worked every day for 10+ hours for the next 10 days. Yesterday I came back to work but my dad and Ken spent one more day getting the majority of the remaining shingles up and the new vents for bathroom and kitchen fans.
Things I learned in the last week:
1. Looking back, I don't think we should have done it ourselves. Yes, a roof is expensive but it is also hard dirty work and no matter how much you try to learn about roofing before you start, the people who do it every day know those little tricks, and they're a lot faster.
2. My roof is complicated. I just didn't know how much more work that was going to take. A lot of houses have complicated roofs but if you're thinking of replacing your own roof you better hope you live in a rancher or any house with a simple gable roof.
3. I need a tool belt. Once you're up on a roof, it gets kind of hard to hold on to all the tools you might need up there and a pocket full of nails. The last few days I wore a pair of old cargo pants and stuffed the pockets with staples, nails, my chalk line and tried to carry a hammer but that didn't work too well. And later, a tool belt could come in handy for other household jobs like when I climb in the attic to install the bathroom fan.
4. There are people out there willing to help without expecting anything in return. My family was the biggest help during this project and obviously I couldn't have done it without their help. But it was people like my neighbor who loaned us ladders and tools and the last weekend helped unload the shingles and put them up. The guy who delivered the shingles who came before we had any felt on the top of the roof, so he helped roll out the top two rows, move the roof jacks and helped unload the 22 squares of shingles on the roof. He could have just said, "tough luck" and unloaded the shingles on their pallets in the front yard, but he didn't.
My mom took a lot of pictures this week and once I get some loaded online, I'll go into more exciting roofing detail. Right now I'm just happy we're done (almost).
July 3, 2008
I'm trying to keep my eye on the prize. The pretty, leak-free roof at the end of this task. The roof that will take the house one step closer to charming cottage and one step farther from run-down fixer-upper. I'm not sure if I'll necessarily feel a greater sense of accomplishment as apposed to paying someone to do it, but the $5000 we'll save will go a long way toward getting some other things done. What should be next? The clothes washer plumbing (and a washer/dryer), or the cabinets for the kitchen, or the electrical, or the back yard fence.
Speaking of the back yard, the tree that I labeled as an apple tree in my drawing is actually a cherry tree. Bing maybe, but since the crows have eaten all the fruit off the tree I can't be sure.
I also recently identified one of the fruit trees on the other side of the property line as a pear tree. The tree is in sad shape, having been improperly pruned for many years, but I saw two tiny green pears on the leafy branches. I hope they last long enough to come to maturity before the birds get them.
June 27, 2008
The Cuisipro Ice Cream Scoop & Stack gives you that cylindrical scoop shape just like a 25 cent Thrifty's cone. I remember the scoops being bigger though when I was 10. Now if I can just find some tiny malt balls to add to chocolate ice cream.
Apparently there are other people out there who loved the same ice cream. I found this recipe to make it, however still no source for the tiny malt balls.
June 24, 2008
I happened to catch this on PBS last night and couldn't turn it off to go to bed when I should have: Emile Norman: by his own design. You won't find much on the internet about his work beside his own website but at 90 he is still a working artist. Besides a profile of his life as an artist, the documentary is an illustration of the life he created for himself. I was stunned by his house in Big Sur, which he and his partner started building over 50 years ago. The house is a gallery of his art, and every surface has been crafted, even the harpsichord and organ cases.
Watch this documentary if you have a chance. The next time I go to San Fransisco, I'm going to take a trip to the Masonic Temple to see the huge glass mosaic commissioned in 1955.
June 23, 2008
I did my laundry, which shouldn't be a big deal but since I'm still trucking down the street to the Hi-Co mart/laundry mat I tend to put it off. However I'm sure I would put it off even if I had my own washer in the basement. The benefit of the laundry mat is that I can do all three loads of wash at once. It's 38 min in the washer (neptune front loader) and only 15 min in the dryer. And since I fold everything before I leave the whole trip clocks in at about 1.5 hours. Pretty good for three loads. I even brought a book to read but part of the problem with going is the waiting area. I'm sure they thought it was a great idea to make a nice waiting area with upholstered furniture except, um, it kind of smells funny. I never thought I'd be longing for a nice vinyl chair or hard bench.
I painted the back door. Again. This time I used the second mis-tint can of paint I picked up for the second and third coats on the door. The door, which started out flat white, then painted a creepy fleshy-mauve tan, is now a glossy brick red. I like it, but I think it would be too much if I painted anything else that color. I'm leaning toward a yellow tan for the window casings and super dark green maybe for the window frames. Since painting is probably a summer 2009 project there is plenty of time to ponder and test out colors.
I looked at the mountain of dirt. I didn't do anything with it. I though about digging, but then I didn't. I can't put it off forever, and since we're starting the roof in less than 2 weeks I guess I best do something with it. Here's the yard post grass removal, pre dirt mountain.
June 10, 2008
A week or so ago my mom and I attacked the parking strip in front of the house with spades and removed 8-10 linear feet of sod. It was hot, and the dogs were antsy and I stopped every 8-10 minutes to rest or pull the dogs apart and to top it off I got sunburned in the one spot I forgot to put sunscreen - the front of my neck. I knew a gas-powered sod cutter would make short work of the lawn, but they're big, super heavy and noisy and I wasn't sure I could deal with all that. Not to mention the logistical transportation nightmare. My dad just wanted the project (at least the sod removal part) done with and after an hour of the two of us pushing and pulling the monster around the front (and the back of the back) yard we were. The next few hours my mom, dad and I carried all that sod to the side of the house and placed it dirt side up over the grass/weeds in the adjoining vacant lot. It rained the entire time and it was dirty work but look at the results. A beautiful yard of dirt!
So far that's all it is, dirt, and bad dirt at that. It just crumbled in my hands as I lifted the sod. Even though it was raining, and had been raining on and off all week, the dirt 2 inches down was bone dry. Just shows how important a long soak can be for your plants/grass. My birthday present from my parents last year was a truck full of dirt for the new yard so after that is delivered and tilled into the existing soil we should be able to fill the yard with the perennials and groundcover. Maybe I haven't mentioned how much I hate front yard lawns yet. I hate mowing something that I never use, isn't decorative, and something that requires that I water it with a sprinkler that has to be moved every few hours. I admit that I let large sections of our previous lawn turn yellow last summer because
1. Grass that isn't watered grows slower, so I mow it less.
2. I couldn't stomach leaving that water running like that.
3. I'm kind of lazy.
Lawn-alternative front yards are definitely still the minority but there are a few in my neighborhood. One in particular I have admired since before we moved in. It turned green before anyone's lawn did, it has year-round color/texture, and it doesn't have to be mowed. A number of the plants have to be cut back after their blooming season is over, or at the end of winter, but for me 10 minutes cutting tulip leaves to the ground is still better than 30 minutes pushing a mower.
June 6, 2008
Like I mentioned, it appears that the roof has more that three existing layers of roofing material; I'm pretty positive that the original roof is still up there. In addition to the poor weather protection the current roof provides, I think the combined weight of all the shingles has got to be a bad thing for the continued structural integrity of the house. Since we got an estimate on replacing the roof on the house we didn't buy, and saw a thrice faxed copy of an estimate done for this roof, I know that the cost to rip off, re-sheet, and re-shingle can run from $8000 to over $10,000. Yikes!
Since I come from a family with a "I could do that myself better and cheaper" aesthetic, my dad has convinced me that we could replace the roof ourselves. So now that summer has come, rather quickly I might add, I am rushing to organize everything. I mailed off my permit and check to the city so we're legal and all, I found the shingles I want, and hopefully everything will fall into place for the 4th of July weekend. After a little internet research I found that laminated shingles (also known as architectural shingles) can now come with a 50 warranty. Now that's my kind of a shingle. I never want to put on another roof and if I'm 80+ when this one fails, well we'll deal with it when the time comes. I'm looking at the TAMKO Heritage Vintage shingles in green. I still have to go to the lumber yard tomorrow morning to order them, and all those other things like underlayment, iceshield (required by the city), drip edge, and a ridge vent. I'll also need to get new decking, new flashing, and vent pipes but I'll get those when we're ready to get started. I know this won't be an inexpensive project but I hope to fall short of the $10,000 mark.
May 30, 2008
"That's okay, can I see your drivers license?"
I hand him the license.
"The account isn't under my name, but I'm listed as an authorized user on the account."
"That's okay," he said "What's your phone number?"
"509, wait, do you want my phone number or the number of the account might be under?"
It doesn't matter he says, so I give him the whole number.
"What's your address?" And I recite my address.
"Well, you've never rented anything here."
"Yes, I have,"
"It must have been more than a year ago."
What? No, "It was about two months ago. The account is under Villabrille," I know I mentioned this before.
"oh, yeah here it is."
After this whole thing, I just want my own card so I don't have to go through this exchange again and the guy walks across the store and does some typing on another computer, tears something off the printer under the counter and puts it in the little laminated sleeve. That's right, he printed me a new card on the dot matrix printer. Even the local bakery has plastic coffee cards. Blockbuster prints them out, and part of the text is even cut off on the top of the card. Classy.
May 16, 2008
It seems so much bigger when you measure everything in pixels but I have a plan to take my back yard from meah, to, well, functional. I really need to get a "before" picture so you can see the state of the back right now. The ramshackle grape arbor and the falling down fence thing under the other grape vine are the only structure currently. For two years I've dreamed of a patio space. A defined outdoor room if you will where I can sit in a chair in the evening and look out on the tame and orderly backyard.
I need to fix the coloring on this rendering because it looks like a lot of grass still and there really won't be much left after the plan is executed. That whole section in the back beyond the path, that's the vegetable garden area and will have no grass, just some sort of mulchness on the ground. And under the fruit trees at the left? Also, no grass. I'm not sure what to do there except maybe some more mulch? There are a lot of spring bulbs already in the ground there (tulips, crocus, and the mystery plant #2 a little yellow flower with a green ruff that came up right after the snow melted) and I"ll leave those in place. I guess I'll have to create a border between the grass and the not grass area.
We also need to fence in the yard so it is more dog friendly. I'm going back and forth on the type of fence because I can't decide how much of a privacy fence it should be. I guess I want privacy, not only from people walking by on the street, but I don't really want to look at the weedy vacant lot all the time. But I'll loose what little sun there is back there in the afternoon and that would be especially bad for the vegetable area. So now I'm leaning toward a lattice* fence. I think it would offer some privacy from the street but still allow sun.
*and just to clarify, I mean a square lattice, not the diamond lattice that is so popular now. The ramshackle arbor and the grape fence both use square lattice so I think it would go well with the historic style of the house.
May 8, 2008
1. Build closet organizer
2. Measure and get quote on kitchen cabinets
3. Hang dining room curtains
4. Hang bedroom (temporary) curtains
5. Scrape paint off existing kitchen cabinets
6. Scrape paint off bookcase doors
7. Get 2 more shelves for linen cabinet
8. Replace the roof
9. Draw electric circuit diagram for the house
10. Have plumber replace laundry drain (and maybe add sink drain)
Baby steps. Some of these are just the first step in a big project, but I want to be able to cross some things off my list sometime this year.
April 30, 2008
"You will exceed your expectations"
What does that say about me? Do I have low expectations of myself? I'm sure it is supposed to be along the lines of "you will do great things." I mean, who doesn't want a positive fortune. It just feels a little sad to me.
April 14, 2008
So, for today I offer up the first post to the gods of jumping in with both feet. Tomorrow I'll start the manifesto.