Friday, July 31, 2009

OK, maybe too much slowing...

But only because I don't have a bathroom yet. It's coming.

Short post, because for once I'm tired and not because of nervous exhaustion or anxiety-induced freezing. It was caused by actual sustained physical activity. Now there's a concept! A lot of what I want to do around here has been put sort of on hold while the bathroom got sorted out, and because of the stunning amount of rain we've had. I'd be willing to bet we haven't had three days in a row without some sort of precipitation since the beginning of the month. I don't think painting is a great idea in a steady downpour (even though I'm painting inside, of course). I have visions of the fresh paint simply peeling off the old paint, just like pudding skin. (Which I love, by the way.) Perhaps if it were a little warmer whilst being rainy, I might be willing to take the chance. But upper 70's at the beginning of August doesn't count. If I were a farmer, I'd be having a heart attack pretty much every day.

So back to the sustained poured steadily all day, until about 4:00. Then the sun made an appearance, and combined with the humidity...YUCK. It wasn't all that hot, but SO muggy. As the sun went down, it wasn't so bad, and I think everyone who had some yard work (other than mowing, that would be an exercise in foolishness) leapt into action. It's supposed to be sunny tomorrow, but rain again Sunday, so we must make hay while the sun shines. I took the opportunity to pull the weeds I had dosed with Spectracide the other day, and boy did it kill stuff deader than a beaver hat. Said stuff was growing up through the gravel that is my back walkway into the mudroom, and where I park. Before long I had the rake out, and realized that whoever dumped this gravel...well, that's what they did. Dump it, and barely spread it around. Wherever it fell, that was good enough. (I can only hazard a guess whose work this was. *ahem*) So I raked the gravel off of what turned out to be a concrete slab under the steps into the mudroom, and away from the base of the WOODEN steps. Then I had to start working on the parking spot, again, just planning to rake out the dead stuff.

That's when I realized that the basement window wells should perhaps not be full of gravel. And that the gravel also should perhaps not be right up against the house to the point that it's under the siding. And that the gravel would really do well to be under my car before I chew up that muddy, muddy spot. So I hauled out the work gloves and BY HAND scooped the gravel out of the wells. Between the two of those, and raking away from the foundation a fair bit, I had enough to cover about half of the parking area. (It's roughly two cars long, and one car wide. I live on an alley, remember?) There was garbage and broken glass in them as well, always a treat. Now, if it turns out there should be more than the shallow layer of gravel I left in there, I will happily march over to the Home Despot and buy me some bags o' marble chips or something. But it would take a lot of arguing to convince me to fill them to the brim again. I've left a couple inches of the galvanized metal whatever-it-is-around exposed, to encourage the rainwater to go around instead of over (and presumably, IN). The windows have plywood in them now. I wonder if plexiglass would be a good replacement? (That would probably lead to replacing the window casings down there too...maybe I'll leave that alone for a little while...)

So I raked for two hours, met two more neighbors, and realized that it's VERY gratifying to have people tell you how welcome you are to the neighborhood, and how nice it is to have a nice person living in the house again. It had been abandoned for a couple of years prior, and while I categorize my house as medium-large but modest, the neighborhood is quite...well, not-modest, for the most part. (Especially the street above me.) Let's just say that "abandoned" is not generally the architectural style preferred around here. It's much more welcoming than any neighborhood I've lived in before, and I think I'm going to like it. much for a short post, eh?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Slowing of The Entropy

(I hope)

Nothing is leaking today. Of course, that would be because I have nothing in my sink, no toilet, no tub. The leaky lines have been capped off. I've ordered a new cast-iron tub (to replace the Styrofoam one) and a pedestal sink (to replace the dreadful vanity and mismatched sink); the toilet is going back in. I'm not sure if the tile guy came over today, as I had lessons in the afternoon, but I'll hear from Fred My Awesome Plumber tomorrow. Unless it turns out to be stoopid expensive, I want subway tile to surround the tub (as opposed to the plastic? fiberglas? POS? that was there). Picked out the faucets (vintage-y look). Found a medicine cabinet (nice plain oval). Plan to paint the wainscot white and the walls a very pale pink. Odds are good that I'll slap down another piece of vinyl, too. If I've got to be inconvenienced by this situation, at least I'm going to end up with a bathroom that I'll never have to worry about again...and will look like it belongs to house built in the 1920's instead of a bad double-wide reno.

I finished the amigurumi pear, though I don't know if it's really amigurumi until it has a face. I think I'll finish the apple tonight, and then I think I need to make a monkey. Actually, I should finish the sock monkey first. I've been working on the Uhura tank top by Connie Chang Chinchio (summer Twist Collective), and it's going fine...except it's not been tank top weather around here. It's a very dreary July, and much cooler than usual. Plenty of rain and temperatures barely breaking 80 on a good day. Very strange. But a good tank looks just as good with a t-shirt under it for extended seasonal wear, so continue I will.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Entropy, part C

No pictures this time, because I think you know what open walls of lath and plaster look like. Half of another wall came down yesterday to give us access to the leaking hot water intake. When Mr. Seller installed the plumbing (because no self-respecting licensed plumber would have left work like this), he did a very poor job connecting the new fittings to the existing ones. Therefore, that hot water pipe has been steadily dripping right through the wall into the basement (which is wet enough as it is). Luckily, it hasn't been dripping for too, too long, and there's no damage to the wall.

Since the walls are open, and easily accessible, it seems like this is the time to do a renovation. The tub is also as cheap as they come...the old plastic kind with the foamy stuff on the underside. Well, the foam is breaking down, and as it does that, the tub loses support, which means on some future unknowable day, it will fall apart from the weight of the water and whoever's washing up at the time. So out is goes. The sink, as I mentioned before, is departing as well. In doing all of this, I probably should just put down a new sheet of vinyl flooring too, as it may very well be cut to fit around the ugly vanity. I won't know until the vanity comes out. I really did intend to do all of this, just not in the first week of living here.

The other stuff is getting unpacked, slowly but surely. Having stacks of stuff piled all over raises my anxiety level to "uncomfortable" and while I could really use a little extra rest, I'm driven to put stuff in some semblance of order. Sleep is over-rated, right?

In fibery news, last week I began teaching a beginning crochet class down at our local shop. I learned how to crochet when I was seven or eight, but teaching it really is another matter. It seems to be going well, and there's only three women. Two came last night, and I really enjoyed the company. I don't often enter into social knitting groups (see above, "anxiety"), but this may encourage me to try again. I'm usually fine once I get there, but it's hard to get me out of the house. I bet if I asked my friend Wanda to come pick me up, she would do it, even though she lives on the northside and would have to pass right by the store to get me. It's kind of silly, but I'm much more likely to go in a case like that, because I feel an obligation to the person who's going out of their way for me. And like I said, I know I'd enjoy it, and I know Wanda is a lovely compassionate person who would understand.

OK. My 10:30 lesson cancelled (and paid ahead, so I don't lose any money on this one), so I'm going to finish the pear I'm crocheting. I have found my camera cable (the pictures in the last post were from my cell phone), so there should be more to look at soon.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Entropy, part deux

For those of you who wanted pictures. :-)

The picture at the top is the drain pipe from the upstairs bath, which is split nearly in half by a nail used to put down the subfloor. This puppy has been leaking since the bathroom was finished MONTHS ago. Basically, the blown-in insulation had been soaking it up until it reached maximum capacity yesterday. My niece's shower took it over the edge. We had heard in the mortgage process that the seller was having issues with a very large water bill. Apparently, it never occurred to him to check for leaks; it made more sense to him to just get pissy with the city.

I'm not thrilled that this has happened, of course, and there is still a drip going on in the basement. But that's tomorrow's problem, and I know Fred My Plumber will get the drip fixed too. He and his guys are amazing.

Silver lining: the sink in that bathroom is about as ugly and crappy and cheap as it could be (I'm pretty sure the seller ran out of money right about there, or picked up some POS off the curb and slapped it in there). Since the ceiling is already opened up and the pipes accessible, this is a good time to replace it. I'll catch the ugly tub later...after I recover from this!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Nature tends from order to disorder in isolated systems.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm isolated, but the level of disorder is certainly on the rise here. I have moved; the only things not here yet are my bike and its gear, and my instruments. They're safer where they are for a little while more, partly because of the chaos and daily rearranging, and partly because it's very damp here. The horn would be OK; the dulcimers and the guitar would not be so happy.

In the grand scheme of things, it's been a great move. I have amazing, generous, very hard-working friends who have leapt to my assistance several times during this saga, and this past weekend was no exception. My niece was here yesterday and got her workout in for the day, schlepping boxes up and down the stairs as we did the Fed Ex thing. You may remember that I had to bug out of my last apartment on rather short notice, so my usual organized packing and marking of boxes kind of went to hell. There was a fair amount of "put it in the office" yesterday, so she and I pretty much got things at least into the rooms where they belonged.

The first wave of the kitchen has been unpacked. I have A LOT of kitchen stuff. My new kitchen has some decent workspace, but not an awful lot of cabinet space. I have a mudroom, though, and as in my last house-based kitchen, that's where most of the not-oft-used things will go. That'll involve the purchase another set of those Swedish pine shelves that I love (from Williams-Sonoma), because the current set usually holds the yarn stash. (THAT room is a mighty disaster. Never fear, I still have several projects easily available.) I have all of my appliances, though currently only the fridge and washing machine are functional. Another wonderful friend will be pulling the gas lines from the basement to my stove and dryer next week. (I've been without a stove for two more days will be a breeze.) The dishwasher gets hooked up tomorrow by the wonderful carpenter I have set to speed-dial. He also replaced the nasty awful cheap storm door last night. I've painted the front and back doors red. (I had to do something Friday while waiting for the various installation people to arrive.)

My bedroom is in pretty fine disarray as well. I may try to tame it a little this evening...I may not. The bed is set up with my lovely soft sheets, so really...I can live out the suitcases for another night. We'll see.

There is a need for another bookcase or two; my last apartment had a wall partially dedicated to built-in shelving that made my library look deceptively small. (And I've culled the collection quite a bit since leaving my house two years ago.) There's plenty of painting to do, as I choose colors. I hung all but three roller blinds on the windows today too. I managed to score them at JCPenney for 50% off way back in...umm...March, I think it was. Somehow I'm short three sets of hardware, but that made for a good stopping point.

In amongst all of this wonderfulness is a problem, though if this is the extent of my woes, I'm a damn lucky gal. I may have mentioned that the seller of my house...well, he either is a cheapskate, or he got fleeced by the folks who worked for him. I am grateful beyond words to have new siding, new windows, a new water heater, and a new furnace. The kitchen cabinets are new; not great quality, but certainly fine. New carpet and laminate. There's PLENTY that is good around here. However...the things that need to be fixed are pretty important and I'm surprised at how shoddily they were done in the first place.

I live on a hill, which may lead you to believe makes me pretty safe from water problems. But water runs downhill, and we also have a lot of small natural springs running not far underground. Therefore, in many neighborhoods, wet basements are a given and mine is no exception. I probably will never store anything there; the furnace and hot water tank are up on blocks and my laundry is on the first floor. Like everyone else, I have a sump hole in the front corner. I think someone's Uncle Bubba installed it. It works, mostly, but it is The Weirdest set-up ever. As a matter of fact, that it works at all is pretty impressive. The basement floor is trenched to allow the water to run to the pump, yet there's a lip of the floor just before the hole...effectively creating a little dam so the water has to get kind of deep (relatively can't go fishing in there) before it can run off. Luckily, a fairly easy fix. I also need a dehumidifier that actually works instead of merely sounding like it does.

Here's the part where I nearly had a heart attack last night, though. The house passed inspection easily, but has been empty for a long time. The seller never lived here, which is why I think no one caught what I'm about to describe.

After a day of folks trooping in and out and you know, USING the bathroom upstairs, my niece got ready for bed and took her turn. I happened to walk into the "office," which is below that bath, and noticed a distinct dripping sound...coming from the ceiling. I knew there was a little leak somewhere, as Fred My Plumber and I noticed it in the basement. This new development, however, was more than "little." So we shut off the valve, used the powder room loo instead, and the dripping stopped. This morning, in the name of science, she took a shower. Same damn thing. Someone did a very poor job with the drain lines up there, and I'm pretty sure the way to fix it is to go through the ceiling. (Which is stained now anyway, so no loss.) I'll be showering at Mom's for a couple days.

I'm glad we caught it early; since there's been so little use, I'm hoping the damage is contained. Also, now I know that this won't be a problem any more. I know that it'll be fixed properly. I'd rather spend the money on light fixtures that aren't the cheapest ones at Home Despot, of course, but even I know how important this is, and I want it done well.

There's a couple of other not-cosmetic things to do; being an old house, there's not enough electrical outlets where you'd actually want them. The gutters need cleaning. (Easy.) The yard, such as it is, is mostly weeds. Maybe that's cosmetic...we'll see what my other friend the landscaper says. I can live with that for a summer.

This may be my longest post ever, but I think it has the least amount of whining in a loooooooong time. Stay's only going to get better from here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The ordeal is over...

I closed this morning!

The relief I feel is tangible, as it seems to be manifesting in a headache. (Figures, but I can take it. I'll have a little lie-down after I post this.) The seller is still being something of, but all will be well. The house is mine. I've already bought the red paint for the front door. The appliances come tomorrow, as does the cable hook-up and such. My goal is to be sleeping there Saturday night.

I think the reality will hit me when I paint that door. I still sort of think that my lawyer's office will call and say, "Oops, we forgot to sign one more paper..." But I'll get over that too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Small change coming

So far, the closing date is holding fast. I have permission to have my appliances delivered on Wednesday, but am under strict orders NOT to hook them up or have any utilities put into my name until after the closing. I teach for a good chunk of Wednesday (with a couple of hour-long breaks), and scheduling any kind of delivery is challenging in any situation. I may reconsider and have them delivered on Friday when I can be there all day. I'm going to call the troops tomorrow and see who's available to help me move (again); I think I might call the U-Haul people too, so we can do this in as few trips as possible. I'm moving the equivalent of a one-bedroom apartment, with relatively little furniture (quantity-wise, not size-wise). I also have stuff in a couple of other places, but it'll all get there.

While that may seem like enough of a change, I'm planning on a change name for Le Bog as well. My new address will be on Pearl Street. I, of course, feel it should be spelled Purl Street. But here on the hill, we also have alleys between the numbered streets (First, Second, Third, etc.) that run east and west up the hill. The north/south streets are named after trees, and then apparently whatever the city planners felt like naming then. The alleys have forever been "the alley between First and Second," until 911 came to town. Now all of the alleys are named, and 99% of them are named after glass techniques or styles. There's Etruscan Lane and Diatreta Lane and so on.

My house is on the alley, which means my front door is on Purl Street, and the side of my house runs parallel to the alley. What's my alley called?

Intarsia Lane.

No kidding. I will live on the corner of Purl and Intarsia. It's a glass technique as well as a knitting technique, utilizing larger blocks of colors in the design.

So once the dust settles and I have the cable situation straightened out, the blog will quietly migrate to a new name: "From the Corner of Purl and Intarsia", and will hopefully contain a whole lot more fibery goodness than it has of late. I'll give you fair warning before it happens, dear readers, and I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Well, there's good news and there's...

Oh, wait! It's all good news!!!

I have a closing date. A real closing date, with the lawyers and the settlement people and the seller and EVERYthing. July 16th, 10:00, checkbook in hand. Hopefully the seller will agree to let me in before that, so I can get my appliances delivered and hooked up, but even if he doesn't, I can live with that...


Friday, July 3, 2009

Addendum to the addendum

Though I still won't believe it until I'm sitting at the lawyer's table with the house keys in my hand, the most current stumbling block to closing has been waived. (Imagine that.) If this is indeed the case, I should get the OK to close early next week and close before the end of the week.

I can't wait to think (and talk) (and blog) about something else.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Now with 100% more attempts at humor! Really, just when I think this situation is as ludicrous as it could possibly be, they totally raise the bar and throw me off guard. I should appreciate a company that strives to be the best at being the worst. Everyone should have goals.

So here's an open letter, and my evening's attempt at cleverness. Apologies in advance...

To the people handling my mortgage:
You suck. You suck with the force of a thousand black holes. You suck more than all the vacuums in the world. You suck more than every soda straw in the past, present and future of every fast-food establishment in the universe. You suck deeper than the mud of the rainiest rainforest in the Amazon. You suck with the intensity of all the quicksand in every bad jungle movie on film.

I don't think there's a thing I can do to counteract the suckiness other than to invite every friend I have in the world over to my house (when you finally allow me to move into it) and SUCK UP ALL THE BOOZE IN THE WORLD until we forget this ever happened.

Piss off.

Words fail me.

Not really. You know me better than that, right? But I don't have many, because I am beyond tired of this rollercoaster.

I did not close a week ago.

I am not closing this week.

I probably won't close next week.

Every time I get to the day before closing, something else strangely pops up, which then takes a week to schedule the fix and another week to file the paperwork.

The mortgage industry caused this mess, and the rules that they suddenly are insistent upon following are making it worse. Or should I say, the rules are fine. Great. Put those "fixes" in place, shut that gate now that the horse is out. But don't tell me for ONE LOUSY MINUTE that you didn't know these things were coming and couldn't do one last little thing to be prepared for them until the day before I'm supposed to close.

I thought I was at the end of my rope a few weeks ago. I think I'm down to the last few strands. And I can't wait to think about something other than this house...which was supposed to be an exciting event, especially as I'm doing this with MY money, on MY terms (I thought), to start this new chapter in MY life. I've been on hold for so long now; I hope I haven't lost momentum permanently.