Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Outside Work

After I don't know how many beautiful weekends spent working inside the new place, we decided that we should work on installing the fence on the coldest, windiest Saturday of the year so far. At least, that is how it seemed. Add to that the failure of the rental auger, and you have what might be termed an inauspicious start to a home improvement project. But, CPM and his crew are determined. The auger was exchanged for one that worked. The cold breeze was ignored. And a fence was mostly installed this past weekend. (Okay, there are still several panels and the gates to go in. It's 80 percent complete. Close enough.)

2 Man Auger

Wow, the garage is really messy.
2 Man Auger

But the fence "look niiiice. I like."
Fence Installed

The stucco guy has also been hard at work. Soon the outside will look as nice as the inside.

Stucco repair in Progress

What's left to do inside the house is mostly finish work: installing wood trim, door jambs, window sills. We also must begin the nitty gritty of selecting tile, installing tile, putting in a REAL FLUSHING TOILET and FUNCTIONING SINK. Dear god, I can almost taste the anti-bacterial hand soap! I cannot wait to banish the porta potty from the drive way. CAN. NOT. WAIT. After that we need to pick a kitchen and some appliances. (Ikea? Maybe?). No biggie, right? This is never ending.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Warm House

Because we did the whole "super high" ceiling thing in the house, we were basically limited to using spray foam insulation in the walls and ceiling. We used closed cell insulation. Hands down, this was the most expensive part of the renovation project. "Everyone" keeps telling us that we will reap benefits in the long run through cheaper utility bills. They better be right.

insulation installation

If you have any interest, the full set of spray foam insulation photos is here.

I will say little here about how the contractor hit us up for additional money on the last day of the job. Perhaps he knew how exhausted we were, and how much we just wanted to be done. My typical go eff yourself atty-tood was nonexistent, and he got what he wanted. He was a nice guy, just not the best business person. Basically, I feel screwed, because he was the low bidder, but ended up costing us the same amount as the highest bidder. What a racket.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Handy Guide for Contractors

What is it about contractors that makes them operate on their own wave length? Here are the things I want from contractors working for me:

1. A decent response time. Don't make me wait ages for a proposal. If I need to wait ages because you are swamped with work, just tell me you are busy. I will either understand and wait longer or I will seek someone else out. Avoiding any forms of communication with me just pisses me off.

2. An accurate number. Give me your best quote the first time. When I tell you that you lost the job to a competing contractor because your number was too high, it's too late for you to massage your quote to my liking. It just makes me think that you'll cheat me out of something or cut corners on the job to make your profit margin. You aren't getting the job. Be honest and up front in your original proposal.

4. Show up when you say you will, on time, every time. If you tell me you will be at my house between 7 and 7:30, do not show up at 7:40. Leave your house/shop early if you have to, but get to my house on time. I have a job, my husband has a job, and we are putting our lives on hold for you. Show us some consideration and respect. We are paying you after all.

5. Be prepared. Walk through the job after you quote it, and close to your start date. Figure out where your damn equipment will go. Do not call me on the morning that you start and tell me that your truck will not fit near my house and cause a panicked scramble to rearrange things. If you had walked through the job a few days ago, we could have calmly arranged things to suit your needs.

In short, if you are a contractor, treat people the way you would expect to be treated. Do not be an asshole.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Deep Breath

I know that CPM and I are not the first people in the history of the world to lose a pet. But really, nothing prepares you for it. I have two other dogs and a cat to love, and I still can't stop thinking about the one that we said goodbye to this weekend. The house feels empty, when in reality, it is still full of puppies and dog fur tumbleweeds.

Things that really suck: doing my normal routine, and realizing how much time Ollie spent shadowing me, and just MISSING that shadow so desperately that I burst into tears at random and odd moments. When I would be chopping food up and cooking dinner, he would position himself so close to the counter, that stray vegetable scraps would typically land right in his mouth. Smart dog. He lay under my chair at dinner. Right under it. Chair adjustments were a challenge. He slept in my armpit, or right up against my back, or with his head on top of my chest, always. He lay by my feet when I sat on the couch. He loved apples and tomatoes, cheese and bread. Well, he loved all food actually. He loved to give kisses. He loved to "shake paw." He loved to chill. He was an incredible pet.

That I have written those last two paragraphs without sobbing is a major improvement. I realize now that I could never be a no dog household...I'm not even sure how we survived all those years that we didn't have pets. I took the other two dogs to get baths yesterday, and the emptiness of the house was painful.

The other dogs know that Ollie is gone. They both obsessively smelled the jeans I wore to take him to the emergency room on Saturday morning. Squirt whined all day, looking for him, frantically making me take her outside to the yard, then back in the house, to find him. Bones is just sad. It's funny. Ollie was the glue that held the pack together. Bones and Ollie were buds, Squirt and Ollie were buds. Bones and Squirt just kind of pass each other in the hallway, occasionally interacting. I'm sure that dynamic will change. They are both mad at Rocky, the cat, which is new. Maybe they blame him.

Today at the new house, we have our framing re-inspection. We failed the first go round, had to do a few things to satisfy the building inspector. If we fail this time, after the weekend that I've had, I may just lose my mind. Fingers crossed, knocking on wood, etc. I need this week to go better than the weekend.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Dear Ollie,

Almost eleven years ago, your dad and I went to the SPCA hoping to adopt a friend for your big brother, Bones, because we thought he was lonely. (We later learned that Bones is just morose and depressed all of the time, and would have preferred to be a lone dog.) You jumped up in excitement when we approached your enclosure, and peed right through the gate onto my Saucony. At that moment, I knew you were meant to be ours. You were about 12 weeks old when we brought you home.


For a little while, you were smaller than Bones.
Ollie and Bones look for Dad

You quickly tried to become Bones' best buddy.
Ollie and Bones

You also tried to become his boss. You definitely won. The blanket lost though. I would later enter this room to find the two of you sheepishly covered in stuffing, one corner in each of your mouths.

Brothers fight

You remained Bones' boss for a while. You were the terror of the house in your puppy hood. While Bones would peacefully hang out in the kitchen behind a baby gate while we were at work, you chewed through the gate, escaped to find where we hid the treats, ate them all, then pooped all over the living room. While Bones was content to gnaw on his water bowl or the phone cord, you figured out how to open all of the drawers and cabinets in the kitchen. You ate all of my tupperware, all of my plastic utensils, all of the tin foil, baggies and wraps. You also somehow managed to one day ingest an entire gallon of olive oil. That was a stain that never came out of the rug. I once made a panicked call to the vet to find out if an entire package of fudge striped cookies would kill you. I don't know how many pairs of slip on Vans you ate. (Eventually, you resorted to simply cuddling my shoes, with your nose stuffed inside. Weirdo.) As I said, you were a terror. I laugh now, but then, I thought I wouldn't survive your puppy hood. I did, though, and you became the best dog, absolutely devoted to me.


Okay, so I apologize for Squirt. She usurped your alpha role in the house, within minutes of her arrival, actually. But she loved you immediately.

Ollie and Squirt

Ollie, Bones, Squirt

You both became my constant shadows. You slept by my side, she at my feet. I was never cold at night with the two of you around me. Right now, I wonder what it will be like to sleep with just one dog. (Bones prefers to hunker on the couch, pretending that I don't know it.) Possibly, I will no longer smush over into your dad at night. But mostly, I know I will really miss your weight on my side. It was a constant reassurance that you had my back. I also knew I would never fall off of the bed. Thanks bud.

Your favorite place was on a pillow, or cuddled with me on a blanket. You were, how do I say this, not the most energetic of dogs. For a while, one might even refer to you as "chubby." I'm sorry about putting you on the diet food, but it was for your own good.


Ollie and Damien

This morning you left me. The doctor said that cancer ruptured something inside of you, and it was making you bleed inside your belly.


You weren't supposed to go so soon. Your dad and I bought a new house, with no steps, but it's not ready yet. Since your knee surgery a few years ago, you haven't liked the steps. You always waited until you were sure I wasn't coming back downstairs to make your way up to bed. You never met me in the basement when I got home from work, unless I called you down to go outside. When you did do steps, you took your time, allowing your insane sister to careen down the stairs past you, while you waited for her to pass, and then gingerly descended. You were so regal. If you could have spoken, I'm sure you would have had an upper crust British accent.


My Ollie, I will miss you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A moment.

front door

I know the moment that I lost my sense of despondency over being trapped in a never ending home improvement project. It was the moment yesterday when I received the picture above via text message. It's a front door! A real door! For some reason, it makes me feel like this all will end for real some day soon. It's so dramatic! I feel like there should be a door installation ceremony, similar to the steel topping off ceremony that is held when a high rise is being constructed. There wasn't, but I did get to visit the door last night. The door is just fine.

For reference, here's one of the before views:

Exterior--site of new foyer.

So the house looks like a house from the street now, and not some abandoned shack.


Progress, people! Progress.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I'll be honest. I thought we'd be living in the new place by now. Really, I should know better. In my professional life, I deal constantly with construction projects. I know all about delays. I guess I just thought that in my "real" life, I'd be immune. Unfortunately, I'm not. I've said this a few times in previous blogs, but it's now official: I hope we live in the house by the winter holidays. (I'm superstitious. I bet I just doomed myself to a President's Day 2011 moving weekend by putting that hope in writing so frequently.)

It's really frustrating that I don't have some sort of super power to make the construction be done NOW. Progress has been made, though. This weekend, we worked on electric and lights.

Obsessing over Half an Inch.
Light install

New windows are going in. It's hard to tell from the photos below, but those windows are all five feet tall. Five feet, people! I could stand upright in them!

This is the view of the dining room and living room, I'm standing in my kitchen.
Living and dining rooms

This is the fireplace. I'm still a little freaked out that I will have a fireplace. It makes me wish I celebrated Christmas.

This is a view into my bedroom.

Finally, Phase 2 of "put the old exterior windows way up in the high wall inside the house" was successfully completed.

The Artist At Work
Window wall

Dude with Ginormous Head Not Included

I also managed to complete a Halloween costume (poorly), attend a Halloween party (good times), and hand out candy to numerous trick or treaters (some lame ass kids had no costumes. What is wrong with America?). Phew. I'm really ready to have a "normal" week.