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Friday, June 29, 2007

lindley's studio photography is getting better and better

We went out for dinner last night and did some shopping at the Annapolis mall. Plans are in place for excursions to the National Arboretum (photography), Patapsco State Park (photography), the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse (photography), and Tyson's Corner (lots of shopping).

Not to mention the beach in August (relaxation!). Friends are the best.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Thanks for your suggestions about the radiators, folks, but I'm still stuck. I called Housewerks -- where I plan to go and spend a great deal of money once I have some studio space to work in -- but they don't take radiators unless they're of the interesting variety: decorative, or interestingly shaped, or what have you. Which makes sense, really. I spent some time on the phone with them, and learned that they don't want our windows, either -- hopefully the housebloggers will want them at some point -- but that if we wanted to get rid of our doors they'd probably take them. Of course, we're keeping our doors, because they're cool -- which is, after all, the same reason they'd take them!

So then I called United Iron and Metal, who do take radiators (and don't have a website). But they pay $100 per gross ton, and you have to drop them off. Heavy as they are, and as many as we have, there's no way we've got a ton's worth of them, and for under a hundred bucks there is no freaking way we're moving the bastards again.

So I'm stuck. Alex mentioned that radiators can be worth between $200 and $400, but so far it's looking like we're going to have to call a hauling company to just take them away for free (if that). Maybe I'll post something on Craigslist. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


I'm looking for a place to recycle these babies. Hopefully for money!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

sunday brunch

Hey, local types -- I'm headed to Intergem on Sunday, and my peeps and I would like to go out for a Sunday brunch beforehand. Do any of you northern folks (or anyone else, for that matter) have any tips on a great place to go in Timonium or Towson for brunch? The kicker -- it's got to be totally nonsmoking.

Monday, June 25, 2007

monday morning weekend recap: other people are more productive than me

We weren't as productive as Don had hoped this weekend, but we definitely accomplished some stuff. On Saturday we lounged around, feeling guilty the whole time that we weren't getting anything done but enjoying ourselves anyway. Sunday, I woke Don up at 8 AM (I'd been up for a while already but I let him sleep a little more) and we headed outside. We ripped off the very last part of the back deck -- you can sort of see it in this picture from last summer during the Great Possum Debacle. We threw out the broken grill and broken dryer that the previous owners had left, heaving them into the dumpster with great joy.

While Don worked on tearing out the deck, I cleaned out the mudroom. I think Don had hoped to start the demolition in there, but we just didn't get to it. But everything that was in there is gone, generally to places where it actually belongs, which is good. So it's ready for whenever we do get to the demo (next weekend? Anyone want to come over and help?).

All that was done by about 11:30 in the morning, so we headed out for brunch at the diner and then went to Home Depot, where we picked up a "professional" four-gallon backpack sprayer and some weed-killer concentrate and some herbs and potting stuff. While Don mowed the backyard and then strapped himself into the sprayer and ventured off into the jungle, I planted some basil, thyme, and rosemary and set them out on the little concrete landing off the back door. We'll see how this growing experiment goes.

As we all know, I'm not very good with plants. I have watering issues. But Lindley came up with the notion of leaving a filled watering can right next to the plants, and putting the plants next to the back door where I'll always see them when I come in and out of the house. Hopefully, since I'll see them I'll remember to water them, and since the water will be right there I won't neglect it out of laziness. Cross your fingers -- herbaceous lives are at stake.

On a side note, Ariana apparently has a lot more to show for her weekend than I do -- and check out her kitchen! White cabinets with glass uppers and black countertops like that are EXACTLY what I want, and I am taking this opportunity to point out to Don that Ariana and Jeff's kitchen doesn't look "foofy country" at all just because it has white cabinets. I'm just saying.

Friday, June 22, 2007

the hypothetical laundry room

In addition to cleaning out the back bedroom, the other project we need to get done before the HVAC guys start their install is the laundry room.

Our laundry room is actually the back entrance to the house, the one we use (we never use the front door). As you can see, it's in pretty bad shape. We took out the washer and dryer that were there when we moved in -- the dryer's broken, so it's bound for the dumpster, and we sold the washer on Craigslist for 45 bucks. Now we need to rip out the dry-rotted floor, take down the paneling and the drop ceiling, go down into the crawlspace below and fix the plumbing (that's the pipe that froze this past winter -- it goes to the laundry room, the downstairs bathroom, and the outside hose faucet), and then put in a sealed subfloor of some sort and any new plumbing.

Eventually we'll put in a new washer and dryer, but we definitely have to get it prepped and ready for the HVAC guys. We were hoping to work on this this weekend, but we're unsure of scheduling and things right now, unfortunately. We'll see!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

not exactly big trouble in little china

Don called the county inspector man last night. What a turnaround! After we got the ticket, as I told Danielle, the guy practically hung up on Don, he was so uninterested in giving us any information whatsoever. That was after we managed to get hold of him in the first place after calling for three days -- he told Don to stop "calling him all the time"! Anyway. This time, he answered right away, and was positively garrulous.

So apparently, somebody originally called him and said we weren't mowing our lawn. Fair enough -- we weren't, because we hadn't gotten to it yet. He gave us the ticket, we mowed the lawn, done. Except then our wonderful neighbor -- whichever one it is -- called him back, and said "Oh, we don't like their ivy, either." So, grumbling, he came back out, took a look around, and left his card yesterday. Unlike the neighbors, he realized the obvious -- that we're doing some massive renovation, and doing the best we can. Last weekend we sprayed the jungle at the back, as well as the side of the driveway and a couple of other bad places, with a broadleaf vine killer, which should take care of a lot of the stuff. It takes two to six weeks to kill things, but the vines on the shed are definitely wilting, and we're going to spray again this weekend. Don told the man all of this, and he said he sort of figured that was the case, and since it was pretty obvious what we were doing the county is perfectly happy to work with us. And he is apparently not particularly pleased with our petty neighbors, either. He definitely seems to agree with us that if they had a problem, they should have said something to us first -- the county doesn't enforce any of those damn codes unless somebody complains, and he's got other, more pressing work to do.

So there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

trouble! right here in river city

This was on the door when I got home.

i hate summer

I am not a fan of summer. I should clarify -- I'm a huge fan of Summer, the blogger! But I hate summer, the season. Ever since I was very small, I've been extraordinarily sensitive to heatstroke. Put me outside in the heat -- let alone in the sun! -- and I wilt like a dead flower. I get nauseous, I pass out, blah blah blah. It just sucks. I can remember years of being taken home from summer camp early or missing out on everything because I had to lay in the nurse's office with wet washcloths on my head and neck. That still happens, without the camp part.

And for some reason, I moved to the Baltimore/D.C. area. Where, I'm told, people used to get hazard pay for being posted, because the climate is so bad! What was I thinking?

So summer, for me, is basically just three months of being really, really sick. It's not very fun. Last year, in the middle of the summer, my doctor ordered me to lock myself in the air-conditioned part of the house (the upstairs rooms) and work from home for two weeks -- she was afraid I wouldn't survive the commute during a particularly bad heat wave.

Last weekend, we went out to try to do some clearing in the yard. Turned out that the day was somewhat humid. I was out for less than ten minutes, and both of my hands swelled up to twice their size. I couldn't close either hand into a fist, and we both thought we might have to cut off my engagement ring -- my finger was turning purple. After ten minutes in ice-cold water, I managed to get some of the swelling down and the ring off.

I haven't been outside but to run to and from my car since.

I hate summer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Originally uploaded by jamailac
All I know about hydrangeas is that they are the ph test strips of the natural world, and they bloom different colors according the acidity of your soil. Our soil is apparently whatever acidity makes blue, because that's what our hydrangea bush blooms.

The only other thing I know about hydrangeas is that they are apparently indestructible. This bush is located right next to where we put the dumpster every year, and it's had plaster thrown into it, boards dropped on it, and all manner of terrible things happening around it, and it still blooms gorgeously every year. I certainly don't water it or pay attention to it, so it's doing this all on its own. Go little hydrangea, go!

Monday, June 18, 2007

a project and a deadline

It's official. The HVAC crew will be at the house on July 9th. They've been very accomodating, and they're going to be installing our system in two stages. Since we're getting a two-zone system with two units (one in the attic and one in the basement), it's possible for them to install it one floor at a time. So on July 9th, they'll be installing the HVAC for the first floor. It should take them about four days. After that, we'll move downstairs and gut the upstairs (be warned, helper-people!). Once that's done they'll come back to install the upstairs system.

So, by July 9th, we have to be ready for them to come. Which means we've got to be ready to move downstairs, basically. So I've got a project:

Clean this room. That's our back bedroom, which will someday be the calm, relaxing, zen-like guest bedroom (which my mother has been anticipating since Don and I moved in together). Right now, it's serving as both our temporary office (read: where we spend the majority of our time, attached to our computers by steel umbilical cords like the desperate Internet addicts we are) and storage for everything that "goes upstairs".

As you may recall, all of our downstairs stuff is in "storage" -- aka the garage -- while we renovate. Most of the stuff pictured above is destined for the same fate; it's boxes of craft supplies, or knickknacks, or whatever. Our dining room chairs are just out of sight in the closet on the left, too. It's all got to be lugged out the garage eventually.

Then there's the stuff that's got to stay, to get moved downstairs to the new temporary office (the dining room). All of my jewelry-making supplies, all of the Anapurna inventory, shipping supplies, and various other business materials. All of my writing stuff -- and anyone else who writes for a living will tell you that it somehow generates a huge mess. Papers, binders, files, blah blah blah. Our desks are staying, of course, and our computers. There's also some stuff laying around in the giant mess that's meant to go up on eBay, some stuff we found in the house that we don't really want but someone else might. I've given up on actually listing it myself -- I'm going to take it to an eBay auction place and have them do it. So all of that has to get pulled out and boxed up. And don't forget the office supplies! Those have to get organized somehow.

This should be fun. If anyone's got organizational tips for giant messes like mine, feel free to share.

Friday, June 15, 2007

too much to hope for

The HVAC man is supposed to come over tonight to start taking all the relevant measurements and putting together a work plan. I'm not holding out a lot of hope that a) he'll show up or b) things will go as planned. He was supposed to come on Monday, and got stuck at a job site in DC and couldn't make it. We originally got an estimate from him quite a while ago -- sometime last year -- so we'll have to hear what the final price is going to be (one MILLION dollars). We know he's running two to three weeks out, and ours is (of course) a fairly big job, so we're not going to have air conditioning for a while yet no matter what. And that's not even counting the unexpected issues that could come up: what if he needs us to clear out the attic before he can start work? What if it turns out that the kitchen will be more of a problem to run vents to than previously indicated? What if the cat poops in the basement again, right where the new HVAC unit is supposed to go?

It's much easier to be a pessimist about this sort of thing. That way, when something goes unexpectedly right, you get a pleasant surprise! And the rest of the time, you can simply swan about being proven right all the time. Who hates that? Nobody, that's who.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

on gentrification

Danielle and I went out for dinner last night, to "Baltimore's first pizzeria", Matthew's, over by Patterson Park. Boy, has that area changed. When I first moved out to Baltimore as a neurotic and angsty eighteen-year-old, I spent some time in Highlandtown, across from the park, because that's where the BSFS clubhouse is. I had to be walked to my car at night; it wasn't a good idea to go exploring; litter was everywhere -- and you sure never went to the park.

But I took the opportunity last night to wander around a little bit (and managed to get caught out in a massive thunderstorm, spending about ten minutes cowering under a large tree and finally making a run for it to the restaurant -- where they told me I looked like a drowned rat and gave me a towel). The park is gorgeous. It's well-kept, clean, and full of yuppies walking their dogs. You can tell that when you live in that neighborhood, you stay there -- you can really spend time and hang out in your own neighborhood. How neat is that?

Watching urban neighborhoods change like that is fascinating for me. I grew up in Washington, and anyone who's ever been down to see the Fremont Troll in Seattle knows all about urban gentrification: the artists move in because housing is cheap and they're poor, and then the yuppies come and buy out the artists because their presence has made the area super-trendy. It's such a documented phenomenon that cities are now encouraging starving artists to come move to specific areas in the hopes that they'll revitalize the market there -- it's happening in Station North in Baltimore right now, and elsewhere (there's a report here, developed for Louisiana, about using tax incentives to promote arts-related property development [it's a PDF]). What goes on behind the scenes of urban renewal is a lot more complex than people who just want granite countertops and rooftop decks realize.

But, on the off chance that all you really want is the info on how to get into the great neighborhood that Patterson Park has turned into, check out the Patterson Park Community Development Corporation. They're having an open house on the 17th for six of the houses that are currently for sale.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

proud possessors of hypothetical windows

Hooray! We have officially purchased windows. Or at least, we've signed a contract saying we're going to.

Apparently, the fact that we want to put in four bay windows makes this job a big deal. I had no idea. When we decided on putting the bays in, it seemed pretty straightforward. We knew we wanted one in our master bedroom, and the back bedroom's identical to the master, so it made sense to put one in there as well. And the dining room is practically screaming for one, and so then why not put one across the way in the family room? What can I say, we like symmetry. And all of the rooms we're putting them in will really benefit from them, so it seemed like a no-brainer. But apparently bay windows are a huge deal. Most people seem to only put one in, if any. I don't see why. If you're going to re-do the damn house, you might as well do it in a way that will make you happy.

Anyway. We're also putting in a round window at the base of the stairs, to replace the unwieldy square one that's there now, and we're putting in a huge picture window with double-hung windows on either side in the living room, which will do a lot to bring light into that room. Most of the rest of the windows are just replacing the old ones.

The best part? Every new window will have a sill wide enough for the cat to sit on, so she'll finally be able to spend all of her time staring out the window. Well worth the money.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

in brief

HVAC guy couldn't make it last night, as he got stuck on a job site. Rescheduled for Friday. Another window place coming tonight; we have high hopes.

My night elf druid is almost level 64.

That's about it for now.

Monday, June 11, 2007

what's the deal with that?

I don't understand why contractors, when asked to give you a quote, will give you their price and then give you another, cheaper price but only if you sign RIGHT NOW. If you can afford to give me a price that's fifteen thousand dollars cheaper if I sign right away, doesn't that mean that if I wait and get quotes from other companies like a sensible consumer or even just take a day or two to think about it, you're going to overcharge me by fifteen thousand dollars? How is that supposed to make me want to work with your company?

The whole reason contractors come out to give quotes is to give a quote, right? So how is this unreasonable pricing helping them? Just by bullying people who aren't committed to doing their research? Is that really the best way to make money in the contracting industry? How depressing.

Needless to say, we didn't buy windows on Friday night. I wonder if there's any way we can just sort of let these people know at the beginning of the interview that we'd love to hear their sales pitch and learn about their product but they don't need to bother with the dishonest pricing since we're just asking them to give us a quote and there's no way we're signing something right away. Argh!

Friday, June 08, 2007

breaking news

I have pinkeye.

Don't touch me.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

this was unexpected

We got a ticket yesterday. A freaking ticket, because apparently there is a Baltimore County law that says your grass "and weeds" can't be higher than three inches tall. And we all know how good Don and I are about keeping up with the yard. So there's evidently a law which says we can't let our house look as hovel-ish as we want. Who knew?

Anyway, if we don't get the lawn mowed and the weeds trimmed (!) by the 13th, they're going to start charging us $200 a day.

Which is a lot of money.

I'm really hoping they only mean the front, because there's no way we're going to be able to deal with the jungle in the back by the thirteenth. We weren't planning on touching it this year at all, since we're focusing on the inside. It's got to just be the front, right? Don said he saw somebody sitting in a car in front of the house yesterday before I got home (which is when I found the ticket on the door). So if they're just driving by the front of the house they can't see the horror that is the backyard, right? I mean, is some Baltimore County suit guy really coming onto our property and clambering around on the pool deck to measure our weeds?


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

a waiting game

Window people are coming on Friday evening to talk to us about stuff. They offer financing and they're having a great sale, so provided we can work out what we want with them in terms of actual stuff and timing, we're just going to go whole hog and replace all the windows in the house, including the ones which have been boarded over or filled with styrofoam (you think I'm joking, but I'm not!). We're also hoping to put in four (!) bay windows: in the master bedroom, the guest bedroom, the dining room, and the family room. Bay windows are large and heavy, another good reason for having the window people do the installation instead of us (in addition to not having to face the prospect of it taking MONTHS of weekend work).

The HVAC guy should be coming over on Monday to take measurements and work out the duct placement and maybe even give us a final price. He told Don that he's currently running about two or three weeks out, which isn't so bad. I can live three weeks more without air conditioning (although I'll probably whine about it).

In the meantime, we are going to play a lot of World of Warcraft, try and get our homework done (why did I think grad school was a good idea?), and maybe tackle the laundry room/mudroom at the back of the house. Just think -- maybe soon I'll be able to do my own laundry in my own house! It's the little things that keep me going.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

what blogger happy hours look like

Totally anonymous, lots of beer.

When's the next one, guys?

Monday, June 04, 2007

this post is more than one sentence long

I suppose you might actually like to know what's going on around here, aside from my various wittily-captioned photos and LOLcat obsession. The big news is that the first floor subfloor is officially done, and we're moving on to wiring. Or rather, we thought we were moving on to wiring.

We went out and bought some good books on wiring and electrical work (yes, Dad, including one that is about the NEC code). Don spent most of Saturday reading and then making an electrical plan (which he says I can post once he has redone it so it doesn't look like our house is inside a funhouse mirror). You may recall that last weekend, he and his dad cleaned out the basement and did the first of the new wiring, putting in far more lights than anyone actually needs in a basement (at Don's insistence). Once that was done, we could really plan out how we wanted the electrical to work in the first floor. It's really nice to be able to consider things like where we want our Christmas tree to go, and be able to make sure that there's a plug there for the lights. So we made our plan, and Don started placing boxes for electrical outlets in preparation for wiring.

The problem? Well, we realized that we can't actually wire until the HVAC and window contractors have come through, as they'll be changing our spaces. And since we have yet to be able to get hold of either the HVAC guy or the window company (WHY won't anyone call us back?), we are at an impasse. Frustrating, but it gives us some time to recover from the massive construction effort (and for me to get over the bout of poison ivy which, despite everyone's best intentions, I've managed to contract) and to start clearing out the clutter upstairs in preparation for the move downstairs once all this is over with.

There's a positive side to everything. But I would really like to have air conditioning soon.

Friday, June 01, 2007

it's a bird! it's a plane! no! it's electricity!

We have a light switch.

And -- get this -- it turns on some lights. I'm serious.