Thursday, June 10, 2010

Too Much Rain (06-10-10)

My days are spent on the phone, calling contractors.

We can’t repair the gutters because the roof eaves they are braced to is totally crumbling (dry rot and suspicious ants in the vicinity); we can’t repair the roof eaves because there is an electrical conduit with live wires braced to them; we can’t move the electrical conduit (not up to code) because the electrician needs to come brace it up to the exterior wall, etc.

In the meantime, whenever it rains, I watch water pouring out from the gutters and going straight into an opening under the house where there is no foundation wall...

My Octopus Window (06-10-10)

...Here are some photos of the window Jennifer Hanson made for our house since the other one was too small for the window frame. The window is in the bathroom upstairs now and looks superb, especially from outside at night.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Homeowner's Lament (06-09-10)

A poem by Pascale Steig

Found a house, at last
Charm abounds everywhere
It sits on a hill.

Yellow wood siding,
A nice porch to while time away
On warm summer days

Wake up to the light
Filtering through old stained glass
Lavender, red, green, amber

To rest, -Home at last-
And finally settle in,
Unpack my boxes

Secret garden spots
It is ours now, all of it
Plants, shrubs, flowers, trees.

Glorious spring blooms
Peonies, roses and more:
Endless surprises.

Water runs downhill
Rainy weather, soggy ground:
Endless surprises.

Alas! Rain; more rain!
Water pours under the house,
A river, a lake…

Crumbling foundation
Carpenter ants, -worse: spiders-
Problems all around

A mess to fix;
“Sell it before it’s too late,”
Says one contractor

“Don’t think about it -
It’s been here a hundred years,”
Says another one.

I try to fix it
I paint it; I buy windows:
Presents for the house

I want to tame it:
The cantankerous old house
Hides its beauty well.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Removal of the "Lump of Dirt" (06-08-10)

It's been driving me crazy to look out the living room or the dining room window, and to see the stupid eyesore of a mini-mountain covered with weeds behind the house! According to neighborhood gossip, it was erected when the previous owner's old father dumped the dirt that was excavated when the green house was built next door (insert the crazy vision of an old man pushing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt up the driveway, through the carport, by the garden area, to the back of the house...). We finally got rid of our "lump of dirt" and the dingy concrete pad touching the house, and had the land leveled. This was no small task; the tractor had to be brought in through the neighbor's driveway because there was no other access from our side, and three huge dump trucks' worth of dirt and one truck's worth of concrete were hauled away...
"Before" view: dirt partially removed, concrete pad in foreground.

Pretty funny, the guy talking on the phone; note the little boy watching.

View of the shed and family room.

View of the family room and the back of the house.

"After" view of the back of the house.

The Toxic Couch: Part Three (06-08-10)

My project was not going well. After letting everything fester under the carport for weeks, I convinced Gary to rent a Rug Doctor, so I could try my hands at a last ditch effort to rescue my couch and recliner.
I decided to treat the stinky mattress first. It was a nice, thick mattress; it looked comfortable and clearly had never been used before (by a human). Unfortunately, it had been in contact with the rusted springs inside the sofa and had been contaminated with the same sour smell as everything else. I laid it down on an old shower curtain on the lawn, and scrubbed the heck out of it. I then left it to dry on the green lush lawn, hoping that the fresh spring air would do wonders for it. There was nothing else to do for it but wait... Next, I scrubbed the sofa and the recliner. The leather responded beautifully, springing back into shape, a testimony to quality materials. But the dark places which had been stained and damaged, once wet, had the same sticky gummy feel as the cushion covers; the leather was rotten.

All those efforts were for nothing in the end; the repulsive smell oozed and wafted from the couch, mattress and recliner, no matter what.

The last episode in this saga: I reluctantly took everything to the dump. As I was driving away from the huge bays, I turned around and got a last glance of the couch without its cushions, with a mountain of trash all around, as a bulldozer was advancing in its direction.

RIP beautiful couch.

I drove the car to the exit window, paid the dump fee and briefly told my woes to the lady at the window. She laughed and said "I always tell people; you gotta give it the sniff test before you buy it!"

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mosaic Glass Windows (06-07-10)

I decided to post some photos of the absolutely gorgeous mosaic glass windows made by Jennifer Hanson. I found the window with the hand, the window with the flowers and the wide sun window at Portico. The cherry tree and the small sun windows were on display at Houlton Bakery in St Helens. Jennifer made two smaller windows for the master bedroom in a crazy mosaic patterns to match the colors of the "real" stained glass windows. She also made a large window with a big octopus for the upstairs bathroom (the photo of the octopus window below is similar to mine).

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Closet Palace (06-06-10)

My closet is finally finished. It's so big, it's more a dressing room than a closet; I could lie down on the rug to meditate or read a book.
We got the clothes rack, the cute red bookcase and the dresser at Ikea. The antique mirror belonged to my mother and is a replacement for the big mirror with a blue wooden frame that fell and broke at our previous house. The big black trunk came from Village Merchants. The rug and the floor lamp in the far corner both came from the local Goodwill outlet store. The floor lamp was rewired by Hippo Hardware; the small candle lights were outfitted with specialty flickering light bulbs for an added fun touch. I bought the crazy chandelier in Belgium, but it is essentially a novelty deco item made in China; it used to hang in my closet at the old house. The gorgeous mosaic glass windows were made by Jennifer Hanson; my favorite is the one with the hand, and the colors of the sun window work perfectly with the room's color scheme.