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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

this is not a happy post

Do you ever feel like you're digging in your nails trying to keep from being dragged backwards into a swirling vortex of unpleasantness but it's not doing any good and all you're doing is making giant scratches in the floor that you're going to have to fix later?

That's kind of how I feel.

Incidentally, I was right -- no Installation Guy yesterday. Don says his dad is coming over on Thursday to help with the wiring and we'll call after that. It's supposed to be in the 90s this week, with the usual high humidity.

I tried to clean the bathtub today, in a fit of morality and cleanliness. It wouldn't drain, and I managed to make it dirtier. Sitting on the bathroom floor in my underwear and trying not to cry hysterically because of a stupid bathtub made me think that perhaps, just a little, I'm overwhelmed.

We have money issues, contractor issues, family issues, relationship issues, job issues, and probably issue issues. I just want to go stay someplace where bathtubs and sinks and various mechanical devices all work, and where I don't have to wear shoes because there are nails everywhere, and where the temperature is the same in the entire house, and where there aren't piles of tools blocking doorways, and where there isn't always something waiting for me to do or finish.

Probably a pipe dream. A clogged bathtub pipe dream.

Monday, July 30, 2007

maybe we can bet on it

Yes, yes, you want to know what's going on and whether we've got air conditioning yet. Well, we don't. But this time it's our own fault, I think. Or at least partly. Installation Guy isn't done yet, but he's close to it (I think he just needs to finish up in the kitchen or something). It's not in our contract with them to run the necessary electrical (apparently because Sales Guy was under the mistaken impression that we were hiring an electrician to run every little wire in the house -- not likely, even I know how to wire an outlet, sheesh). So we need to run some wire from the box to the new HVAC unit(s). Don was supposed to get his dad to come over and help, but for some reason he didn't call his dad until Saturday evening, and apparently his dad never got the message, because we didn't hear back and Don had a fit of machismo and refused to call again. So the wiring's not done, and we can't call Installation Guy like he asked us to when we were done with the wiring so he could make the final hookups.

Don is under the impression that Installation Guy is supposed to be out to the house today anyway, to finish up the kitchen and whatever else isn't done. I got the impression from what IG said on Friday that he won't come back to finish up until we get the wiring done and call him like he asked. We'll see who's right.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I just added a new banner to the site. I had to use this workaround to get around Blogger's insistence on using their text for the title and subtitle. Worked pretty well, although since I'm using yet another workaround to get the three-column layout, I had some frustrations. It won't put the banner along the far left edge of the columns -- it'll always start in the middle of the first column. So I couldn't do a color bar, which is what I wanted to do. But I think it turned out pretty decently, for a quick thing. :)

Update: I also added the Etsy mini, to the right. Now you can be tempted by our pretty jewelry without even leaving AP! ;)

Friday, July 27, 2007

you know what? just kill me now

Surprise! No air conditioning. They didn't show up yesterday, and they didn't call. Don finally called Installation Guy, who, sounding mildly surprised, said that Sales Guy was supposed to call us. Hadn't he? No, Installation Guy, he hadn't. So Don called Sales Guy, who said that they had a job they absolutely had to finish yesterday because there was an inspection scheduled, and that they would be out to our house today. He also politely suggested that we should probably look elsewhere for somebody to do the upstairs installation. Apparently they are as tired of us as we are of them. Can't imagine why.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

i can't help myself

Originally uploaded by Angel's Lens
The cuteness, it is too much.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


How to get a kitten to come out of hiding:

It's all in the fingers.

(Photo by Lindley, who is now the proud owner of said kitten. And yes, that's my finger.)

the saga continues

Why is it that it's always on Wednesdays that I forget to post? Normally I post every weekday, generally in the morning. But for the last several Wednesdays, I have been either uninspired or forgetful, and have either not posted or posted later than normal. Hump day indeed.

So, today's news:

The bad: Unsurprisingly, we still don't have air conditioning. Don got a call from the again mysteriously-absent Installation Guy, who informed him that they'd JUST ordered our units and thus were waiting for them to arrive, and he'd be back on Thursday with the units and ready to go. Why they only just now ordered the units when they've been working on our house for like two weeks is beyond me. Whatever.

The good: I've spent a whole lot of time in the last couple of days working on Anapurna stuff, and I've finally got our Etsy shop up and running. With some judicious forum posting and self-promotion, it seems to be generating at least some interest. Hopefully people will start buying things in droves. Including you people. Go on, buy something.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Still no air conditioning.

(Still not King.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

presumptuous squirrel

Don took this picture on Friday. This squirrel sat on the picnic table in the backyard and stared at him insolently for like an hour. You may have to click the picture to get the full size version.

Friday, July 20, 2007

stress relief

Demo day is officially canceled, which seems to have completely cured Don of whatever mental breakdown he was suffering yesterday. The knowledge that he doesn't have to accomplish twenty-five impossible things today is like a huge weight off of his shoulders. It wound up working out better to cancel it anyway; HVAC guy won't be done until Monday, and if we had moved downstairs all of our stuff would be hugely in his way. So, whatever. At the end of the day, all that really matters to me is that we'll have air conditioning next week and I won't be sick anymore. For the last couple of weeks, while it has been really hot, I have been basically useless, which is really frustrating.

So, no demo day, and we might actually be able to enjoy the predicted nice weather this weekend. That would be nice. These things happen. We'll try to reschedule when we know further what's going on, but if the fraternity guys don't give us a response again we may have to give up and just work on it when we can.

This week has really been miserable (in the TMI realm, I've also been having awful cramps the last few days), and I'm SO glad it's just about over. Cross your fingers nothing horrible happens today.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I'm home now. Don called me back, extremely upset, and said something about the HVAC guy and a hole in the wall and a general contractor. I couldn't get anything further out of him, so I came home.

Our kitchen is an addition, and to get the ductwork through to it, HVAC guy has to go through an old, previously blocked up window in the basement wall. Fine and dandy. Except that after he's broken through, removed the metal panel and insulation and whatnot that was sealing the hole before, he mentions to Don that "normally" a general contractor would go ahead and seal that hole up around the duct. Um, what? We don't have a general contractor. Apparently what he means is that it's not in his job description to actually fix this large hole he's just made in our house. Hence, the upset phone call.

I came home and convinced Don to call HVAC guy's boss, who kept saying "Well, we're not carpenters!" But eventually he agreed that at the very least they will put up some plywood over the hole. Apparently anything further than that is up to us, something which was definitely not explained until now. Fantastic.

So, HVAC guy is working away in the basement (we just heard him cutting out the old boiler -- at least I hope that's what that was), and Don is calmer now and studying for the test he has tonight.

It's looking like demo day might not happen. This took a lot of time out of the day, and Don needs to study, and we're not moved downstairs (the minimum that needs to happen for that is to get some temporary wiring in and fix the downstairs toilet and put up something to hold our clothes, plus the actual physical moving of stuff). I absolutely have to be at work tomorrow, so I can't stay home and help with anything. All that plus the total lack of response to our increasingly panicked emails to our so-called wrecking crew (except you Danielle!) are leading us to think that demo day may have to be canceled.

This has not really been the best week.

yes no maybe

Huzzah! HVAC guy is officially at the house. He is, however, apparently banging mysteriously on things. Don ended our phone call rather abruptly to go find out what was being banged on so mercilessly, so I really have no idea what's going on at the house.

Let's just hope something gets accomplished.

We're both a little frustrated; the fraternity guys have been decidedly lackluster in their responses regarding demo day on Saturday. When we mentioned that we would soon be ready to have it, all of them were enthusiastically all for it, but as soon as we settled on a date they all suddenly stopped communicating. They haven't said that they aren't coming, but they sure haven't said that they are, even after we've outright asked several times for a definite yes or no. If they'd actually told us they couldn't make it, we'd happily reschedule, but they haven't told us anything at all, which is frankly really annoying. So we have no idea whether or not demo day will be a success. Which means, of course, we have no idea if we'll be able to get anything else done afterwards, including getting the upstairs HVAC installed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Everything that isn't necessary to our survival has officially been packed away and stored in the garage. Don said he's going to move our desks and computers downstairs today (and possibly some of the office supplies and shipping stuff for the business, etc.). He picked up a giant roll of black plastic yesterday, and is -- I think -- going to be stapling it up to protect the rooms we'll be living in from debris and to cover the windows so the neighbors don't get an eyeful.

I hope he remembers that he still needs to fix the leaking valve in the downstairs bathroom's water line, and test the shower down there. And clear out the attic. And build something to hold all of our clothes. And pull out the nails that are still in the wall studs downstairs. And move the bedroom stuff down. And make sure the Internet works.

I can't wait for this to be over.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

what a surprise

Yesterday I called Don about halfway through the day to check in and see whether the HVAC guy had shown up as promised. You can probably guess the answer. No guy, and Don was positively livid. He told me he'd called both Installation Guy and Mr. Sales and Service (who is actually the owner of the company and Installation Guy's boss) and left really nasty messages for both of them. He said if he didn't hear back from either of them by the end of the day, he planned on calling the bank and stopping the check we'd written them (for half the total cost).

Well, before long Mr. Sales and Service called Don back and apologized profusely. He said he had similar calls from three other customers besides us! Apparently, while Mr. S&S was on vacation, Installation Guy -- who normally doesn't do his own scheduling -- had overbooked himself, gotten extremely flustered as a result, and then just stopped communicating with everyone. (!) Apparently he doesn't deal well with pressure. So Mr. S&S told Don that he was taking over the scheduling, with an iron fist or something, and Installation Guy could be out at our place on Thursday, or we could have our check back. Since getting our check back does nothing to get us air conditioning, we said Thursday was fine. If he doesn't show up then, we'll get the check back and find somebody else.

The positive side of this -- because I always find something to be positive about or I'd probably kill myself and others -- is that it frees our timetable up a little for moving downstairs. We were originally going to wait until Installation Guy was done, so that our stuff wouldn't be in his way and we'd have A/C when we moved down there. Now we're just going to go ahead and proceed with the move, and just shove our window units in the downstairs windows for the nonce.

Don got a phenomenal amount of work done yesterday, clearing and packing and organizing and sorting all the stuff upstairs. When I got home from work we went up to Summer and Matt's house and picked up some bags of packing materials (bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts) that they had from their wedding crystal packaging (thanks guys!). Don will use it today or tomorrow to pack up all of his grandmother's glassware -- we've had it sitting around ever since we found it in the dining room ceiling. He's going to get rid of the last remnants of construction debris on the first floor and then tarp off the rooms we're going to be living in (as opposed to the rooms which will be used simply for construction purposes).

I hope we can get everything done in time for demo day. Even after we finish moving downstairs and packing up our non-necessary stuff, we still have to clear out the attic (a huge task on its own), build the dumpster chute to use on Saturday, and create a temporary landing extension for the staircase so that we can reach the landing window to toss stuff out of and also reach all the walls in the stairwell. Don is optimistic; I am worried.

Monday, July 16, 2007

saturday highlights

Charlie showed some crabs who was boss:

Don got thrown in the pool (and then he lost his glasses and made Bobby go diving for them).

Lee had no idea what was about to happen to him:

Greg and Scott lost a bet, and Zach and Mikey collected in a rather painful fashion:

Mikey showed off his trademark sad face (this is the look he gives you when he needs you to drive him home at 2 in the morning from Power Plant Live because he is drunk and didn't arrange a ride home -- not that I would know or anything):

And Nathan for some reason didn't appreciate the guys' gesture of thanks for organizing the whole shindig:

Full set is here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

one thing has gone right this week

The new dumpster arrived this morning! As usual, we can't say enough good things about our friends over at Benjer; they are so, so helpful. All we do is explain what we want to the driver and it's done. Easy.

He showed up at about 9 AM this morning, with our new dumpster, which he dropped off temporarily in the street in front of the house (the "clang" is what alerted us to his presence). Then Don went out to explain the situation, and I headed to the upstairs landing window to take stealth pictures. The driver picked up our old, mostly full dumpster:

And dropped it off in front of the neighbor's house for safekeeping while the rest of the maneuvering went on (I'm sure they were thrilled):

Out with the old, in with the new:

It wound up right where Don wanted it for demolition day. He's quite pleased, which may explain why it looks like he's marching in a parade in this photo:

now i can say it

So the big, bad thing that I couldn't talk about before is now officially on safe-to-say territory. This week, Don was forced to resign from his job. As of today, he is no longer working for his previous employer -- or for anybody, actually.

It's a mixed blessing. He was pretty unhappy at that job, and he absolutely hated the commute (no sympathy from me, though -- remember my two-hour-each-way commute that he used to insist wasn't so bad? Karma!). We have enough money in the "F Fund" -- and tangent here: this is something everyone should have. You should have a separate savings account that is totally untouchable, one that has enough money in it to approximately equal one person in the household's salary for a period of time, usually between three and six months. It's so, so crucial. Ours is called the "F Fund" -- for when all you can say is "Oh, f---!" (We also keep separate savings accounts for a Christmas budget, a repair fund, and our regular savings. Eventually we'll have a vacation fund in there too, but for now that money just gets sucked into the house.)

Anyway. We have enough money in the F Fund to keep us the way we've been going (paying double to the home equity loan, putting about four hundred dollars a month into savings, etc.) for two months, and for four months if we cut out the extra payments and things. So Don has the rest of the summer to look for a new job, hopefully one that's more to his liking (he's hoping for something in the finance industry, since that's what he wants to do) and that's closer to home. He'll be able to spend some time working on the house while he's job hunting, which is a bonus.

It was pretty stressful during the week, while we were talking the whole thing over and struggling with the decision, and then while I was waiting for Don to finish agonizing over the possibility of having to do new things (he's not a huge fan of drastic changes, so he dithered for a while). But there was really only one option to take, and now that it's done we're really looking forward to moving on to more positive things.

Deep breaths. Here comes life.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

negatives and positives

The HVAC guy didn't show up yesterday, either. But we finally got a call from him. The deal is that the company we went with is actually a two-man operation. One guy does sales and service, and one guy (our pointy-shouldered friend) does installation. Unfortunately, it just so happens that this week, Mr. Sales-and-Service is on vacation, and Installation Guy has had to pick up the slack. He said he's been working ten hour days just trying to keep up with the service calls. We're not thrilled, but whatever. We're going to be out of the house most of the weekend anyway. He said he'll be back on our job on Monday (Mr. S&S gets back from vacation on Friday) and will have us "up and running" on Wednesday. Sure thing.

Life's not all bad, though. I brought in a bunch of basil for my coworker (he's a trained chef!), and the whole office smells like a garden. Also, I got this book in the mail a couple of days ago; I'm looking forward to taking a little bit of time for myself and reading it.

And, of course, the most awesome news right now is that Lindley is getting this adorable kitten!

Pretty much the cutest thing EVER. I think we're meeting up on Sunday to go on a kitty supply purchasing run.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

no news isn't particularly good news

I just don't have a lot to say today. There's no update on the HVAC, as apparently the guy did not show up yesterday. He's scheduled to be finished with the first floor tomorrow; if he doesn't finish I may in fact cry.

There's some other stuff going on which I can't talk about yet, but suffice it to say it's definitely not positive and it's really making it hard to maintain motivation to do virtually anything. Not good. I feel like I'm just sort of wading through some sort of swamp, barely holding ground and not moving forward. I could really, really use a few days off to just relax, go to the farmer's market, plant some lettuce (this gardening thing is getting out of control, I blame Danielle), read some trashy romance novels, make some jewelry, etcetera. Of course, any time off I do wind up taking will be filled with doing laundry, packing up the office, pulling any remaining nails out of the walls on the first floor, moving wood and tools around, doing dishes, blah blah blah. Our real vacation is in late August, but I need something now.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

really i just like the phrase 'back-stoop basil'

We have holes in our subfloor, huzzah! We came home last night to find that the HVAC guy had cut vent holes in all the appropriate places on the first floor, and had left a great deal of flex tubing and other various HVAC supplies in the basement (as good a place to put them as any, since that's where the first unit's going).

In other news, my back-stoop basil has gotten HUGE. In like a week! Holy crap! When I came home last night, Don said, "What have you been doing to that stuff?" I was like, "Nothing! And sometimes I still forget to water it!" It's insane. And also delicious. I had some of it on a tomato salad the other day, it was fantastic. The other great thing about it is that it's incredibly fragrant; all you have to do is practically wave your hand near it and you'll smell like lovely, tangy basil for the next four hours. Mmmm.

We're looking forward to the annual Lambda Chi summer crab feast this weekend; it should be good times, and a nice break from the house. And, in theory, by the end of the week, being in the house should be a lot less intolerable since we'll have AIR CONDITIONING!!! It's been miserable for the last few days -- heat indexes over 100, with humidity in the 90% range. And we all know how well I deal with that stuff.

Monday, July 09, 2007

behind already

We didn't get the mudroom demo'd this weekend. Nor did we get anything else done, actually. But the HVAC guy should be at the house today, cutting holes in the first floor for vents. And patting the cat -- she loves him, for some reason.

Friday, July 06, 2007

operation big house

Don has come up with a schedule for the rest of the summer. In theory, this schedule will make it so that the upstairs subfloors are done by the beginning of September, although I believe some of that depends on how much Don and his dad are willing to work during the week in August. So here's "Operation Big House" (apparently that's what the family used to call our house in Don's childhood, and he still calls it that). Creative spelling has been corrected by yours truly.

Operation Big House (7/5/07)

July 7: Finish mudroom demo / Fix downstairs bathroom waterlines / Clean up downstairs wood and tools

July 8-12: Pack upstairs / Move boxes into storage

July 9-12: HVAC Downstairs installation

July 13: Dumpster change out

July 14: Clean the downstairs (rest of plaster/nails/etc) / Tarp downstairs ceiling and windows / Move downstairs / Tarp downstairs “walls” / Run downstairs temp electric

July 15: Clean out attic / Buy trash cans for makeshift dumpster chute

July 16-20: Remove landing window / Build temporary stairway landing / Assemble dumpster chute

July 20: Remove upstairs doors / Remove upstairs blinds / Turn off upstairs water / Turn off upstairs electric

July 21: Demo Day 2 (which many of you should now have the evite for! If you don't have it and you want it, let me know.)

July 22: Install new attic trapdoor ladder / Clean the upstairs (rest of plaster/nails/etc)

July 23 or 30: HVAC Upstairs installation begins

Beginning August: Window installation

cat paparazzi

We have stray -- or not -- cats that like to come hang out in our backyard. They're insolent creatures, and one of them actually has taken to napping on top of Don's car, just to prove that they're better than us. It's very hard to actually get a photo of them. Although they're not at all afraid of us, once we get close enough to them they will run away (although not far -- Don spent a good ten minutes chasing the orange one round and round the dumpster, as it would run around the corner of it and then sit back down and wait for him to find it and then repeat the process).

This particular one pictured below (in a very bad, paparazzi-esque photo, all I could get) is extraordinarily fat and wears a red collar, so we're pretty sure its not actually a stray. I don't particularly mind having them running around -- everybody knows I'm totally a cat person -- but Don gets practically apoplectic when he sees them.

Probably because it's his car they sleep on.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

all kinds of news

The biggest news is that the new and improved Anapurna website is up. And, unlike the old site, you can actually successfully use it to buy things from us! Yay! Go check it out.

Other stuff going on, that I thought I'd get down before it drifted away in the massive cloud of to-do lists and scheduling I often find myself in:

Don got a call from the HVAC guy (who, incidentally, has the pointiest shoulder blades I have ever seen on a human being). Said guy is going to come over tomorrow night with a contract for us to sign -- with the original price they quoted us (yay!). He's really truly officially going to start work on Monday. It's like a dream come true! Air conditioning!

We're getting our nearly-full dumpster switched out for an empty one on the 13th. Benjer must love us, we rent so many damn dumpsters. This will be the third this year.

Demolition day, as you all know, is on July 21st. Don't forget to tell me if you want to come.

Windows will be installed sometime after that, hopefully in early August. All the paperwork has been signed for the financial stuff on that one, now we're just waiting through their lead time. Plus, we're getting the demolition done, which will make things easier for them (since they're doing all the framing for us -- they don't have to worry about the demo part).

At some point -- I am guessing next weekend -- we will officially Move Downstairs. I haven't made a lot of progress on cleaning out the office. This must change.

Don says that he'd like to have the upstairs subfloors done and all the final framing in place by the time school starts (August 29th). Considering that we're going on vacation for a week within that timeframe, it's a tight schedule. We'll see how it goes. I'm a little concerned about the plumbing for the new master bathroom, but Don seems to think it's "NBD".

finding history

This weekend, Don and his dad cleared out the big crawlspace under the kitchen, in preparation for the HVAC guys (who need to go in there to put a few ducts in). I was at the bead show the whole time, but Don made sure to save everything for me to photograph when I got home. We found some amazing family history -- everything from Don's dad's childhood homemade "go-kart" (pictured below) to the old family sauerkraut-making pot, plus some great old soda bottles ("Sun Spot: Bottled Sunshine"). There were also like six lawnmowers under there -- it was like a museum of lawn care, going from an ancient rotary mower all the way up to a more recent powered one. Anyway, if you're interested, photos are in the "stuff we found in our house set" on flickr.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

save the date: demo day 2

Demolition day for the second floor is officially Saturday, July 21st. If you want to come help out, please give me your email address by the end of this week so that we can send you the Evite (how cute are we, sending out evites to a demolition party).

This is an all day thing, though nobody is forcing anyone to stay for the whole day. We're going to completely gut the second floor down to the studs, and we'd like to get the pool deck down too if people aren't too tired. We'll provide donuts and coffee in the morning, cold bottles of water throughout the day, something (most likely pizza) for lunch, and work gloves if you haven't got them (also I'm the queen of first aid, so if you hurt yourself I'm there to tend your boo-boos). If you've got your own crowbar and work gloves (and/or other demolition-useful tools like reciprocating saws), bring 'em! All this information will be in the Evite, plus anything else we come up with.

If you're not comfortable putting your email address in a comment here, please email me at jamailac at gmail dot com.

Monday, July 02, 2007

property values

Just heard from Don's parents that a house on their street -- ten blocks away from us -- has sold for $375,000. And it was just over half the size of our house, on a smaller lot (although recently rehabbed, if it's the one I'm thinking of -- and they did a nice job). That's good news -- it means our house will be worth quite a bit when we're done with the renovations, and it's worth the money we're putting in.

The breakdown so far:
Our house is about 2200 square feet, on one third of an acre of land. It's got three bedrooms, and by the time we're done renovating it'll have either three full baths or two full and one three-quarter bath (depending on who wins that argument), an open floorplan with a main floor family room in addition to the living room, and a moderately "gourmet" kitchen.

We paid $220,000 for it in January of 2006 (it was listed as a four-bedroom, which affected the pricing somewhat then and will affect pricing later by its absence but not absurdly so), and have so far spent (or committed to spending) just over $50,000 on a new roof, new windows, and central HVAC. The cost of the rest of the work we're doing, both structural and finishing, is comparatively negligible, since we're doing it all ourselves and don't need contractors. [Example: we've completely changed the floorplan of the first floor, both removing and adding walls, replaced all the floor joists, and installed a level subfloor for about $1200 -- just the cost of supplies.] This isn't to say that, for instance, the entire house's supply of drywall isn't going to be ridiculously expensive -- but comparatively speaking, DIY is always cheaper. If you know what you're doing. Hospital bills can add up, if you don't.

We plan to live in this house for at least the next ten years or so. But if we don't, at least we'll be able to afford to sell it. Mind you, I'm not endorsing real estate inflation. I'm just grateful that we managed to get in early enough that we could get the house for a reasonable price. As a fixer-upper, it was (rightly) discounted some. But I've seen fixer-uppers now selling for finished prices, which sucks. If you're in the market to buy, be mindful of neighborhood property values and trends, and make sure you're really getting what you're paying for. It can still be done in the market now, it just takes some research.

my herbs, let me show you them

Here are the herbs I planted last weekend. They're still alive!

I know, I can't believe it either.

Closeups of basil and thyme are here and here. I'm not so good at macro photography yet.