Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Paint Chip is Always Greener...

Oh, what have I done? I chose “White Jade” as the color for our new rooms, and now I'm kicking myself, thinking that “Morning Waterfall” would have been better. My rooms are green, green, green. They look like 500 cartons of Bryer's Mint Chip ice cream exploded in there. I'm not going to repaint—yet. What I'm hoping is that once the door and window casings, the crown molding and baseboards are installed (they will all be white) the immense expanse of minty freshness will be broken up and become less oppressive. Plus, I need furniture. Lots of white, with a bit of pink would look good against all that green.

I also learned that one should never, try to conduct any sort of business on the first Tuesday after a Monday holiday. I always avoid banks on these Tuesdays, but who knew that all Charlottesville would be at Meadowbrook Hardware yesterday, attending to the hardware needs they couldn't take care of on Memorial Day? The paint counter was a scene reminiscent of a battle ground. We finally emerged with our paint, but in the confusion, I left my paint chip behind and now I'm annoyed, because I swear this paint dried a lot darker than it looked on the chip. And those paint chip cards make the best bookmarks.

Speaking of books, I just finished a novel about the Peloponnesian War--The Road to Sardis by Stephanie Plowman. You can't get it in Charlottesville, since it's out of print and not included in the collections at either the public library or the UVA libraries. I had to do inter-library loan. A sad book, but some of the events in the book parallel modern events in an oddly striking way, particularly since this book was written in 1966. Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesion War is also on my book list, and I'd been putting off reading it, but now I feel more interest.
Now reading A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

more before & after

J just couldn't wait to move the furniture back into our renovated space. We've been living crammed into just the living room and kitchen since February--and that's two adults, four children and two dogs. The amazing thing is that none of us killed someone. So, obviously, there's still trim to put in, and paint, but we ate dinner in our new dining room last night, and it was great. The old dining room will be a family room open to the kitchen.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Before & after

Here are a few before and after pics. As usual, they're a bit behind the times. We have now finished the drywall! J put the final coat of primer on while I was at work today. Now comes the fun of picking a paint color.

Explanation: The first two pics show the same view, looking across the back of the house. The last pic shows the same view now, with that old closet demolished and a new room where that pile of crap is. Once we finish painting, the electrician will come and install the fixtures and turn on the juice back there, and we'll get the floors finished. We also need to install trim and paint the exterior, plus the bathroom needs a complete overhaul, which will be DIY.

Friday, May 26, 2006

drywall hell

Our renovation is progressing. The workmen have gone, and J and I have been working hard on finishing the drywall. Since we work opposite shifts, J and I almost never work together, and a certain inconsistency in the covering of seams has become a problem. Not to worry, I devised a so-clever-it-ought-to-be-patented plan of color coding the seams so we know at a glance which ones still need work. I bought yard sale stickers and put green stickers on all the seams I think are finished, red on the ones that need more coats of mud, and yellow on the ones I think might be finished, but want J's opinion, since he's the one with the drywalling experience. I enjoy applying the mud, but the sanding is horrible. The other day, I got a fabulous haircut at Moxie, then went straight back to sanding, with my hair tied up in a bandanna. Two hours later, my kids caught me weeping on the floor of the new room. "I can't manipulate this drywall, and I ruined my new haircut!" I sobbed.

I want to post some pictures, but our internet connection is so slow, it's too frustrating right now. Pages are so slow to load, I've been reading magazines while waiting. We have portable broadband (wireless) and it's inconsistent. Sometimes it's fast, and other times it's even slower than dial up. And we live right near the tower, too. Don't get suckered into buying it. We're in the process of switching to DSL.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Bye-bye driveway dumpster

We haven't been able to park in our driveway since February, so it was so nice to see the giant, orange dumpster, loaded with aproximately 1/8 of our house, get hauled away. These pictures don't really show the grade of our driveway, which is a tad steep for the hauling away of Titanic-sized containers holding large chunks of one's house, but the truck made it out of the driveway.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Pointless and Rambling, but mainly about food.

The scary thing about installing your own insulation is when the city comes to inspect it. We passed, which is a relief. I thought for sure, she'd point to a few of the saggier batts and insist we rip them out and start again.

We went back to Tea Time Desires today, this time for lunch. I had the steamed pork dumplings, which were delicious. The prices are low, and I was expecting tiny portions, so I was astonished that the spicy chicken noodle dish my children ordered was a heaping plateful of noodles. These also were tasty, with cilantro being the dominant flavor. I had another bubble tea and liked it better than the first. Last week, when I tried my first bubble tea, I didn't realize I was coming down with a mild stomach virus, which may have been the reason I had difficulty drinking it.

Speaking of food, I'm having a grand time with a cookbook I picked up at the Northside Library: Feast From the Middle East by Faye Levy. Tonight for dinner we had the Chicken Pecan Bulgur Cakes with a tahini dip and a spinach and feta salad, plus the "Queen of Sheba" chocolate cake, which is more like a souffle than a cake: whipped egg whites, bittersweet chocolate, ground almonds, butter, and a minimum amount of sugar plus a bittersweet chocolate glaze. I highly recommend this book, but you can't have it yet because I'm keeping it the full three weeks. Also reading The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott. This is volume I of "The Raj Quartet" and I thought it was going to be a lame, written-with-a-mini-series-in-mind sort of novel, but it's a serious work of literature.

Before and after renovation pictures! Pictured first: back of house before renovation. Next: back of house now, with new, higher roof. The two final pictures show the newly built room which replaces an old unfinished porch where we used to throw tools and recycling. This porch was demolished, enlarged, with a new foundation, and rebuilt. New stairs down to the deck were also built. I'll try and sneak in another "before" picture.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fun with fiberglass

We've mapped the human genome, so why haven't we come up with a better way to insulate a house than wrapping it in fuzzy blankets of fiberglass?

Spent a truly hideous day yesterday installing insulation in the ceiling of our remodeled rooms. We were supposed to have a sub-contractor do this, but our builder suggested we do it ourselves. Building codes here require R-38 insulation in ceilings It's like stuffing a g.d. Futon into your ceiling joists. That's a slight exaggeration, but believe me, it's thick and unweildy and surprisingly heavy. I suppose I should just be grateful that we don't live in Maine, where they probably make you use R-600. We had to put on uncomfortable protective gear, including horribly uncomfortable breathing masks and goggles, and still the fiberglass got on our wrists and all over J's neck.

And you can't just jam it up there. You have to cut channels through it so it neatly surrounds your plumbing and electrical. You can't have air pockets. Never mind that prior to renovation, there was no insulation up there at all-- now we're fussing about freaking air pockets!

Now we're both slightly itchy. And speaking of itchy, one of Mad Scientist's friends tossed some poison ivy leaves down that back of his shirt. Oh, ha ha! What a funny, funny joke! MS is horribly allergic to poison ivy. Right now, his back is covered with tiny, fluid filled blisters. In about a week, he'll look like a sailor in the British navy, circa 1812, who's just gotten a taste of the cat 'o nine tails. I'm almost inclined to call the kid's mother, but I don't think he was being deliberately malicious, and I hate to be one of those mothers who complains to other mothers about their children.
I have no fun renovation photos to share. There's not an exciting visual difference between insulated walls and non-insulated. But I'll share a picture of my Siberian Irises. That's the new part of the house, off to the side.

Also, a picture of my dog, Sancho, who does a hilarious imitation of a human when he sits on the couch. He does this all the time: scoots his little bottom onto the seat and leaves his front legs on the floor. Maybe he thinks we'll let him sit on the furniture if he looks as human as possible.