Friday, October 24, 2008

attempt at a new tradition

Not that I think I can keep it up, but I'll try starting a new tradition of List Fridays. Cause y'all know I love the Lists.

Things I Still Can't Find in the New House:
- Our plates. All of them. Any of them. I wasted at least an hour looking for them last night.
- My white zippered hooded woobie.
- My deodorant and body spray (I broke down and bought more).
- My favorite little silver dragonfly earrings.
- The kitchen towels

Things I'm Excited About:
- Features CD release show tonight!
- Beautiful weather forecast for the weekend.
- Weekend! Ready to sleep in a bit and spend more time on getting the house settled.
- Apple orchard on Sunday! My favorite event of fall...
- The fact that our dogs have, miraculously, adapted to sleeping on their new beds and not on the new couch!

Things We Need to Do This Weekend:
- Clean out the garage at the old house.
- Take trash, recycling and empty paint cans to the Metro waste center on Trinity.
- Finish painting all interior doors and get them hung.
- Absolutely unpack the rest of the clothes and kitchen.
- Load up the car for a massive Goodwill trip on Monday.

One Important Thing I Already Did This Week:
- Voted! It took 10 minutes at the Howard School yesterday morning. And the big news: my Dad voted too! For the first time in his life. How's that for upholding your civic duty? This morning I was listening to NPR and they said Obama is starting to pull ahead in the swing states, and it make me want to cry with gratitude and hope. And then they started talking about the state of the economy, and that made me want to cry for entirely different reasons. I feel so insulated and lucky working at Emma and owning this great new home that we can still afford. All this terrible news on the radio hardly affects my daily life, other than getting turned down for the HELOC (sigh). But it's scary to start thinking about a future where things aren't so secure. It's an inevitability now.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Foolishly, I had the Comcast disconnected Friday instead of, oh, I don’t know, Monday? So at about 7 pm (Friday) tonight we lost television and (horrors!) the internet. So I’m blogging into Word, and will paste and post as soon as my next free moment with wi-fi comes around.

And here it is: Moving Day. Or Moving Eve. It’s 10:30 pm on Friday the 17th and we’re winding down for the night. Tomorrow morning we’ll be packing up a U-haul truck with all of our (voluminous) worldly possessions and heading to 2607 Sandy to start a new chapter in our new home.

I absolutely hate it when people complain about how busy they are or how busy they have been; it’s just one of the least interesting topics of conversation I can think of. But here I go, I’m about to tell you how very, very busy we’ve been. Because almost every night for the last three weeks we’ve finished up our work day and headed straight to the new house to paint, prime, sand, scrub, rip and varnish every inch of the place. The bathroom is coming together amazingly well. Drywall is hung, bathtub is in place, walls are mudded, sanded and primed, and tonight my Dad, the hero, finished placing all of the (one-inch octagonal) tile in the floor. It’s been incredibly exciting to watch the bathroom come together, and I can’t believe he’s done it almost all himself. With lots of help from Austin, plus some from Patrick today. Simply amazing. We picked up a gallon of sky blue (Glidden Falling Rain) paint for the walls, and everything else is white, white, white. At first it seemed like an outrageous undertaking and expense (okay, it’s both) but making the bathroom a room we’re really proud of and love is going to turn out to be so worth it all in the long run.

In the meantime, the rest of the house came together beautifully. Paint is up on all the walls of the main floor. I finished the last coat of yellow in the kitchen this morning, and pulled all the blue tape down to reveal a completely transformed room. The backyard fence was finished Thursday and looks shiny and sturdy. The only major roadblock we’ve come across was revealed on Sunday night when Megan and I, excited to see how everything would look when it was finished, pulled up the carpet in the bedroom to reveal horrible stains on the hardwood floors underneath. I know we shouldn’t have been surprised, and we certainly should have found out for sure one way or the other WELL before a week before moving day, but I was simply heartbroken. Further investigation revealed the office floors were nearly as bad. Two days of discussions later, we decided to undertake a simplified floor refinishing project, and Wednesday night Brandes helped us sand the floors and bleach out the stains. Thursday morning he met me there again and we got woodstain down, then I applied poly that night and this morning and they look REMARKABLY better. Especially the office, where there is only one dark spot left and it’s going to be covered by a bookcase.

So other than the floor drama, which will most likely continue into our occupation of the home because we haven’t even pulled up the carpet in the hallway yet, everything has gone so well. The white trim, while being a major pain the labor ass, makes all the new colors look gorgeous, and this morning while we got things cleaned up it started finally getting exciting, as opposed to overwhelming. There is still so very, very much to be done, particularly to the basement, but the living space is ready for us to move in and start putting our things away.

I spent a lot of time this week picturing where everything would go, and I feel like I have a good game plan for unpacking over the next four days. I took a week off work for the moving, so I’ll have M-T-W there to really get my nesting on. Comcast is coming tomorrow for installation, including our new DVR, whoop! And Sears is delivering our new 25 cubic foot Whirlpool refrigerator in the afternoon, a hulking giant of an appliance, the kind with the French doors on top and the freezer on the bottom. We are hemorrhaging money, to the point where it’s like we don’t even notice anymore, but I know it’s gonna hurt in a month. The HELOC is still stalled in the approval process, mostly because no banks have any money or credit right now, I suppose? But we’re confident it will come through and we can start clearing everything up after that.

Packing up the old house has been laborious and bittersweet. I got a little sad, we’ve been really happy in this house and had many dreams for a future here. We absolutely got a better house out of the bargain and I’m so excited about our new home, but it is always an emotional time, stripping a home down to the walls and turning it into a stranger again. I’ve been lucky enough to have lots of tough-love help in packing (“Are you SURE you want to keep all fourteen of these ramekins? How many ramekins does one person need?!”) with VIP credit going to Jenny, who slogged away about six hours today and left a swath behind her of just-barely-contained possessions in dozens of cardboard boxes. I don’t mean to discredit the contributions of Casey, Megan and Lauren, who managed to box up the contents of the dining room and about sixty percent of the kitchen last night, all while surrounded by as many as five curious and muddy dogs, plus Charlie Murphy, who loves helping and packing and helping with packing.

*Editor's note* As I said, those were my comments from Friday night. It's now Sunday afternoon, and we're indulging in a lazy day before getting started on the absolute wreckage that is our new home. It's a maze of boxes and furniture, all just sort of plopped down willy-nilly, and I'm ready to tackle it with a vengeance. Unpacking is one of my favorite things.

Other than all the boxes, things are settling in just fine. We still need to clean the old house and empty the fridge, and take the remaining contents of the garage to recycling. And my cd/dvd shelves were screwed to the wall and we didn't have the right tools to take them down, so we'll need to rescue those before we close up the old house and give Tony back his keys.

By far the toughest part of yesterday was dealing with the pets. My sisters say we should all be alloted like 10 minutes over a lifetime when we can simply talk to our pets and have them understand. I would have taken three minutes to just explain to Charlie Murphy and Corvinius that we were not trying to kill, maim or abandon them by cramming them into a cat carrier and a picnic basket, respectively (poor Vinius). Jenny and Casey bravely took the lead on this endeavor and drove all three cats, wailing their fool heads off, to the new house. I'm so glad I wasn't in the car because I would have cried the whole time. Mackenzie, shockingly, adjusted quite nicely and was hanging out in the Man Room cool as a cucumber when I went to check on them an hour later (Charlie and Vinius were huddled together behind one of the doors). I suppose Kenzie has moved six or seven times now, while the boys were only brought into the Eastside house when they were still too small to care. Happily, by bedtime they were all three out and about, exploring, finding their food bowls, and eventually snuggled up in the bed with us like brave and forgiving kids. Charlie Murphy, especially, I believe has been extra sweet to me today as an apology for nearly gutting me yesterday in the Dreaded Box Incident. If I wasn't so embarrassed by the state of my belly I'd post a photo of the scratch that runs from my breastbone to my navel. He meant it at the time, but I'm getting lots of blinky eyes and sweetness today to make up for it.

The dogs also adjusted. We brought them over here and left them in the backyard before we went and picked up the moving van, and by the time we got back here with all the helpers and trucks they were pretty frantic. But they've been zooming around the yard and clearly enjoy all the space and shade. Last night proved more difficult; when it was finally time to bring them in for dinner it took much coaching (as expected) to get Bridgette and Mischa up the stairs. But they finally made it and explored the house (as much as they could with boxes everywhere) and spent the night sleeping on their three new dog beds in our bedroom. Then when they woke up at five am and refused to go down the stairs, things got temporarily ugly. We finally coaxed all three of them out at about 7 and went back to bed until ten. We spent some time playing with them outside this morning and I think they are really going to love it here. Hopefully by tonight we'll have made more sense of all the mess and they can get a better feel for the new place (and the new couch on which they are not invited...).

That's my excessively long update. Better get my unpacking groove on. Look for a Special Thank You edition of the Delusions blog, coming up next...

Friday, October 10, 2008

another quick update

One more week of painting, painting, painting done. The living and dining rooms are done (except for the lighting fixtures) and the kitchen just needs ceiling and wall paint. We've got two coats of red in the bedroom and it looks like it's going to take a third. The bathroom is completely gutted and Dad started replacing the insulation yesterday. We still have to paint the office, rip up the carpet in the bedrooms, paint all the interior doors and put up cabinet hardware, etc.

Sunday night we went to Home Depot and made an exhaustive list of everything we need for the bathroom. Bathtub, toilet, vanity cabinet, sink, faucet, lighting fixtures, towel rods, the works. We took the list to the customer service counter where a helpful little lady named Luz entered all of the things we wanted, issued us a line of credit, and arranged for everything to be delivered Wednesday morning. It was an astonishingly easy process. We just kept looking at each other and laughing. It was pretty much the exact opposite of the process we're experiencing with the Home Equity Line of Credit, which has been drawing out for a week and a half now with no resolution. It must be historically the worst time ever to ask for credit, even secured credit. We've got some (financially irresponsible) contingency plans in place, but it would be nice to have that HELOC to make things more comfortable over the next few weeks.

So we're clicking right along, right on track for moving day a week from tomorrow. We took a break last night and stayed home to make shepherd's pie and watch The Office. It's been extra funny this season so far. I can't wait for the return of 30 Rock in a few weeks! Last Saturday night after painting all day Austin went to Jon's house to watch football and I showered, climbed in my favorite pajamas and watched 5 episodes of 30 Rock after talking to my mom on the phone for an hour. It was not my most glamorous Saturday night ever, but perhaps the most welcome one. Oh, and Monday night we went to the Sears Scratch-and-Dent appliance store in 100 Oaks and it was a goldmine. I think that will definitely be where we get our new fridge. They had great prices on massive, nice fridges with only some cosmetic damage. Very exciting!

Oh, I updated my Picasa with more "during" pictures of the house, and also an album of the best of 2008. Check them out!

Friday, October 3, 2008

fair enough

You're right, you're right, I should have updated by now. Here's the breakdown:

Actually, after typing several different versions of the breakdown, I guess I should just sum up by saying that closing took longer than we expected, cost more money than we expected, and probably took a few years off my life expectancy in sheer stress and tooth-grinding. But it's over, we closed last Tuesday (the 23rd), it's possible that we got the last mortgage EVER in this crazy crazy economy. So that part is done; our name is on the deed. We celebrated with sushi after the closing, then spent that afternoon at the new house with Dad coming up with a Master Plan.

And then we started Operation Make This House Ours. It began with a long Wednesday night spent ripping up layers of berber carpet, indoor/outdoor carpet, disintegrating carpet foam and beneath all of that a layer of that green and beige marbled tile like from elementary school hallways. It was hard work but extremely gratifying, and now the Man Room has exposed concrete floors that we will leave unfinished for a while until we're sure all the moisture issues have been solved. The only other major projects we had planned for pre move-in were painting the whole main floor (including trim and doors) and a potential laundry room overhaul (and paying a professional to fence in the backyard). Friday night we drove to Greenbriar and picked up (part of) a new sectional couch that I found on Craigslist. Saturday we met Dad again to talk about the Painting Plan, and somehow over the course of that conversation decided to completely renovate the bathroom.

I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but neither Austin nor I are fixer-upper people. We were not looking for a project house. We don't walk around our house and itch to rip things down. We wanted to move into this new home, put away our things, and start having our normal life again, complete with an outrageous amount of free time and plenty of good home-cooked food. Even after we fell in love with this house, which most certainly needed updating, we figured we could spend a couple weekends with paintbrushes and rollers and be ready to go. A bathroom renovation was not in the grand scheme of things. But after looking at the recommendations from the Home Inspector, and realizing how much we truly, truly hated the tile on the walls and the sink cabinet (and the medicine cabinet. And the lighting fixture. And the weird little gray toilet. And the totally unnecessary striped wallpaper) it was determined that IF we were going to do something about this, now was the time, with three weeks of unoccupation and lots of volunteer labor.

So Sunday morning Dad and Patrick started demolition on the bathroom, while 9 other kind and amazing members of my immediate family (including Badness plus Brett plus Bill, who basically count) picked up screwdrivers and painter tape and trim brushes and fanned out throughout the house. We got a REMARKABLE amount done in that first full day, including a first coat of white paint on almost every bit of trim in the main floor. I was so excited and honored by all the help that I managed to (*mostly*) not freak out at the crashing and crunching sounds emitting from the bathroom. Kam suggested that, instead of having a panic attack every time I walked past and saw gaping holes in the walls, we have a photo of what we want the bathroom to look like (sky blue and white, please) screenprinted on a sheet and hang that over the door.

Progress throughout this week has been a bit slower. Monday night Austin and I got the second coat of trim on the office and most of the hallway, and otherwise realized a major glitch: there is almost no lighting in the front half of the house. Obviously this will be remedied when we install new fixtures and move in with our floor lamps, but in the meantime, painting at night is going to be severely limited. Tuesday some of our loveliest lady friends pitched in and helped me blanket the kitchen with a swath of white paint while Dad and Austin continued their ruthless barrage on bathroom demolition. Wednesday night Austin finished up the demo while I attacked a weird patch of fake parquet flooring in the basement that was apparently attached directly to the concrete floor with Gorilla glue. In 1959.

Then the nicest thing happened: we took Thursday night off. It was a rough week at work, too much to do and an apparent total inability to focus, and I was ready for a break. We made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup and watched as much as we could stomach of the VP debate. I climbed gratefully into bed at 10:15 and felt completely refreshed the next morning. Tonight we cleaned up the demolition debris. This included vacuuming up an apparent 50 year supply of razor blades - razor blades!- that were stored in the back of the old-fashioned medicine cabinet (this means they just fell through the "safety" slot into the wall), a fascinating and horrifying endeavor. The bathroom is now down to stud walls and once we remove the bathtub (tomorrow) we'll be ready to start building everything back up again.

So tomorrow we're back at it. We'll get as much painting done in the front rooms as we can while there is daylight available, and I think by the end of the day we'll be rolling beautiful colors on the walls. I'm taking tons of pictures and will start assembling them into a before-during-after home improvement diary for those of you following along at home. I didn't expect this to turn into a big life-dominating project for a month. I'd just been thinking, "First we close, then we move." But I think we're doing the right thing, and with every blister this house becomes, more and more, ours.