One Week

Happiness, we’ve been moved a week.  Area rugs are on order so reason for more happiness. After a busy weekend we should be able to concentrate on finishing up the unpacking of boxes.  Also it’s nice to see the weather will be getting warmer. Will be nice to start thinking about working outside in the yard.

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Q&A

Christine successfully used the microwave for the first time (in this house I mean…..not implying she doesn’t know how to use a microwave), and even cooked grilled cheese with butter, in a pan, on the range (which, once again, I mean is an an accomplishment in so much as we couldn’t find our pans, and had no bread or butter just twenty-four hours ago).  Woo hoo, f*cking “A” we’re making progress here folks.So I’ve been getting a lot of questions from fans of the blog (not really, except the ones I make up on a regular basis when I whisper to myself in the dark).  Let me try to answer as many as I can tonight.

Q: Chris, when are you gonna stop bitching all the time and start showing us some f*cking pictures of the house with all your crap inside so we can case the joint?

A: Ok, ok, I’ve been busy.  I work like (one to) eight hours each freaking work day,  (sometimes up to five days in a row), then I stop at the bar until my kid calls me to tell me mom must be “done” emptying boxes cause she’s having alone time with her “grape juice” on the couch.  Alright, I’m joking….my kid doesn’t know how to use a phone yet.  Anyway, see pics below with my witty banter like captions.  I’m really self infatuated and it shows sometimes. Come be infatuated with me as well.

You don't get to see this crap in Better Homes & Gardens. The TV is on the floor. This is sadness. Please send me money to buy a proper media console.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: Chris, what’s the best thing about the new place? 

A: Well, that’s hard to say there are so many cool things and the potential is so great.  Today my favorite thing was visiting the sewing room.  When we built the house, somehow the wife, kids and cat were allotted unfettered access or control to about 7-10 rooms (i.e. the entire house).  I was given access to one, maybe two rooms (and one of those I poop in).  So anyway, the best part is visiting, albeit briefly, all the rooms I’m not really appreciated or allowed to go into.  I checked out the sewing room which contained MY lounge chair.  Oh it was joyful to sit in my IKEA chair and admire the kick ass ceiling lights I picked out.  The wife has a really cool Sony clock radio too.  I asked if I could turn the sewing room into my man cave and have the clock.  She said I could have the basement and I should look at my watch more often.  The basement smells funny, has dirt all over and is illuminated by just a pull string light bulb.  Unbelievable. 

Sewing room has my chair in it so it's mine right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: Chris, sorry to hear that your family hates you / abuses you and you’re pretty much relegated to living life like you’re in a Turkish prison.  But you’ll always have your studio, how’s that? 

A: Thanks for the words of sympathy, I think it’s criminal how I’m treated.  Taking the high road though and can say that my studio is awesome for the most part.  I’ve got about half of it cleared out so there’s lots of space.  Maybe even room for my lounge chair.  There’s lots of light and big doors and all my crap is there.  Being on the ground floor makes loading the trailer a breeze. Problem is everyone else thinks it’s their room too.  Lacking a real driveway, the boys ride their bike in there.  And the damn cat, well since she owns every room in the joint, she decided to that the studio was perfect for her litter box.  So she comes to visit me, I pet her, she purrs, then poops.  That’s about as good as it gets for me these days.

Apparently my studio gets to house random window screens, the litter box and act as a tricycle indoor track. In all seriousness I'm fine with two of these three things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: Chris, speaking of the cat, how is she adjusting?

A: She was skittish at first so we were worried, but as I write this she’s at the bottom of the bed licking the part of her butt just under the tail parts.  I’m assuming this means she’s adjusting better than I am.  I have yet to lick myself there whilst living in this house.

Awe, kitty likes her new house and nest, and has no intention of getting a decent paying job anytime soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Q: Chris, how’d the guys handle the move? We were worried it’d take a lot out of them. 

A: First of all, what the hell is with all the questions about the cat, movers and other people?  Um hello, I’m sitting right here.  Anyway (I’ll take the high road here), the guys are perfectly fine.  They really are the best and they made moving day look easy.  

 

These guys know how to pack furniture.

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, I’m getting sleepy so that’s enough Q&A for today folks.  We’ll catch up on more exciting stuff over the weekend. -chris

Home Sweet Home Day Three

Today was my first day back to work since we moved.  For whatever reason I have yet to bring over my alarm clock so I awoke to the random loudness that is the alarm on my cell phone.  Navigating my sleepy way through the foreign landscape of our new bedroom I opened my eyes to find myself staring into a still unfamiliar mirror.  What strikes me first is the delightful way the lights that flank the mirror reflect in my eyes.  Four dots of light frame each blood-shot eyeball.  Behind me a monochromatic portrait of curtained glass softened by a geometric background of glass subway tiles.  After jabbing lenses into my eyes and brushing my teeth I look to my right.  I see a perfect two foot square portrait of the world outside my window.  In the distance the rising sun awakens as well, filtered by a screen of budding trees.  In the foreground rests my trusty Rabbit on the gravel drive, her five cylinders at rest, eager to awaken my morning commute. I’m fortunate that I get to wake up to this every morning that is chosen for me to be here.  I don’t know if architects take the time to plan these sort of scenarios out in their head but I like to think that the good ones do.  I wonder how many people pick up on the beauty that surrounds the most mundane acts of our lives.

Stepping out of the shower I peer at my high-definition portrait again.  The sun is higher now, without looking at my watch I can tell I’m running a little late.  The bathroom at our old place looked out at the neighbor’s house.  Unless he was holding a large clock in his window I doubt I’d be able to gauge the time even remotely close based on day light alone.  Here I have nature’s time-keeper all to myself.

Several minutes later I’m washing the remnants of my four-day old beard down the drain.  The cool water runs over my hands and I’m reminded that some of that very water came straight from the sky above our home.  For all intents and purposes I had just taken a shower in an early Spring rain.  Lingering not too long I scamper into the bedroom and giggle to myself like a little school girl.  The soft carpet is spongy under my tired feet.  While it is unneccisarily difficult to sweep, the carpet more than wins hearts with its warmth and feel; arresting any feeble attempts to leave the room in a bad mood.

Reflecting on the pure joy that will be my morning ritual, it’s impossible to belabor the drama and setbacks that besiege the house.  But with each passing day they are laid to waste.  For this house is hell bent on showing her stuff and no man can keep her lashed.

The sea does not bear the weight of the ship builder.

Home Sweet Home Day Two

I survived day two.  We’re making some progress and some steps backwards. 

My morning shower greeted me with cold water.  I checked the sink and hot water came out of that.  I went down to look at the hot water tank for no known reason.  As an aside, our new hot water tank doesn’t have the neat temperature meter with buttons that we had in our old house.  Too bad, it was handy for adjusting the temperature and it even had a “vacation” mode that allowed you to lower the heat on the tank when away to save money.  Guess the hot water tank industry is regressing or we got a cheapo cookie cutter one in the new house.  Eventually I may look into switching it out for one that has the easy temperature control. The one we have now you have to remove an access panel and find a screw driver to adjust the temperature.  Anyway, back upstairs I went.  Then it struck me, I reached out and turned the shower lever towards “cold”.  Sure as shit, the water warmed up.  I literally laughed out loud, par for the course. The plumbing in our shower was rigged backwards.  I didn’t go to plumbing college, but I’d think they’d teach you to check that during the first week or two.   

Add that to the list.  Other items on the list include a plug that prevents my washing machine drain pipe from being used (it’s draining into the sink for now), some gas line that needs to be replaced, no dial tones on the phones, mis-rigged gutters, unfinished doors, hole in our vanity, and the oven that doesn’t work.

One thing I did fix today, with the help of my father-in-law, is the dryer vent.  The HVAC guys inserted a 10″ long (four inch diameter) vent pipe into the wall.  The pipe fell about 3″ short of the inside of the wall but that didn’t seem to bother anyone.  We ended up buying a new pipe at Lowes and cutting it to 17 inches.  This gave me plenty of pipe to clamp the flexible dryer hose to on the inside.  I had to shave away quite a bit of wood trim, plywood and insulation to get the hole to be the right size and shape to allow the pipe into the house.  I’ll hit it with some caulk inside and out, but for now it’ll be fine. 

So much for new construction being easier than the renovation of an old house.  Building this house proved to me that most of the trades are primarily interested in just collecting a check.  A sense of craftsmanship, or going the extra mile, is a thing of the past.  Building an expensive house doesn’t afford you any extras in terms of attention to detail.  I don’t know if I pissed them off by asking them not to poop in boxes, but they pretty much just mailed it in for the most part when working on our house.  Who can blame them I suppose.  In some cases like the dryer vent it’s easier for me to fix it myself than to wait for an appointment and have some worker track mud all over my house.  So most of the time it’s worth it for them to do a half assed job cause probably only a handful of people call them on it.  It is what it is.  No big deal.

Tomorrow we should be able to start really unpacking now that repairs are underway throughout the house.  Right now the place looks like a disaster area strewn with toys, dishes and boxes.  It’ll get better with each passing day. 

 

Home Sweet Home

I’m exhausted, but I present to you my first post from our new home.  Today is about ten months after we broke ground, and fittingly it’s Earth Day.  The last few days have been hectic and draining to myself and the family physically, emotionally, and mentally.  My crack team of movers did a stellar job of getting all the large furniture and boxes into the house yesterday.  There have been a ton of tears and a handful of laughs in the meantime.  It’ll be weeks before any of us are at ease, but each day will get better. I’m pretty much brain-dead tonight so I’ll leave you with a list of first impressions on the move and house. 

1) Holy crap do we have a lot of hutches.  We moved four horizontal hutch type things from house A to house B.  On top of that were four chests of drawers, and at least four vertical hutch like things.  My friends (i.e. the movers) hate me.

2) First thing to buy are area rugs for the Family Room and Dining Room.  Having two toddlers running around on ice rink slick hardwood floors is a recipe for disaster.  Tonight was “climb the bear foot stool and jump on the big chair, while dad has chest pains” night, with no wall to wall carpeting safety net.

3) I have no idea why our $5,000 oven doesn’t work.  I figured out how to turn on the gas valve, but when I turn the knob on for the electric oven portion nothing happens.  The electric clock works though.  We’ve lived here twenty hours and I already have to call a repair man.  I can tell what time it is and that we’ll starve to death unless I unpack the NuWave oven forthwith. I’m going to store ceramic unicorns in the fancy oven in lieu of cooking with it.

4) The house is freakishly hot then cold.  Either I’m going through “the change” or the thermal properties of the house will take some getting used to.  I need to stop blogging; the typing is causing  me to build up a sweat.

5) If I load our small trailer up one more time I will cry.  First I hook it up to the RAV4, then drive over to the other house, then I grab a bunch of our crap in a panic and stuff it into the trailer (hitting my head on the door frame).  Then I drive all our crap fifteen minutes to the new place and unload it all, hitting my head on the trailer door frame.  Repeat.  I estimate I have thirty-seven hundred trips left to make.

6) I do not know how to turn on the lights.  At the bottom of the stairs I flip a switch and the hall lights turn instead of turning the stair lights off.  By the front door I turn on a switch and the spot lights go on in the back yard.  There is no switch for the garage lights anywhere.  I can only think that when I flip the switch by the porch…the one where nothing seemingly happens when I click it up and down….well, I like to imagine somewhere in electrician hell a light goes on and off inexplicably.

7) Having a lot of crap means that when you do finally move it and set it up, even a foreign place can start to feel like home.  The old couch, that tv….the scary cat bowl we got as a gift…they’re all a part of our lives and they earn their keep during times like this.  Best to get it all set up ASAP. Same shit, different day (and location).

Oh well, that’s all I got for now.  Happy Earth Day.

4 am

Wide awake at 4 am on a school night, all the change of address contacts jumping through my mind like useless sheep, means the stress of this endeavor is putting up the good fight until the bitter end. After viewing some lady’s forty seventh “watering can with flowers poking out the top” pin on Pinterest, I decided to post up here in order to be somewhat productive at this hour.

I worry about my baby trees. I looked online and they do sell these sleeve looking things that you can put around saplings to keep the deer away. Lowes website had nothing, so I’ll check some local nurseries.

Hold on little guys” is all I can say.

I did finish the mailbox install so that is one less monkey on my back. It was super easy; just followed the directions without incident. Bonus points: no one ran over me on our busy country road while I laid in the grass screwing my mailbox….(wait, that sounds dirty). Anyway, anytime you can lay yourself down in bed at night and think “Wow, no one ran over me today.” is a good day in my book. I’m sure you’ll agree.

I’m down to just three more post holes to dig. It’s almost to the point where my arms might be slightly toned now. Luckily my beer gut betrays any nonsensical notion of me being physically fit, by any scope of the imagination. All this nonsense is good for me in sone regards after all. I’ll have slightly toned arms when the stress lands me in a pine box because of a heart attack.

This is my first post via iPhone on WordPress. It seems pretty easy. Though obviously devoid of photos so I’m not sure of the functionality of that.

What else….hmmm….if I leave you here I have to go back to staring at the ceiling….4:48 am.

For those of you interested, the dogwoods are blooming now. A lot of them were decimated in construction but I count at least two that are flowering. And I think a couple of the trees we transplanted by the drive are dogwoods. Very much this equals happiness for us.

Ok ok I’m done rambling. Back to counting sheep.

Nursery

Tonight was supposed to be more productive than it turned out to be.  I was going to wrap up digging some post holes that I didn’t get to over the weekend.  Instead I ended up trying to figure out what to do with a couple dozen baby trees. 

This weekend was spent moving some stuff over to the new place, and looking at some potential new furnishings including rugs for the dining and living room spaces.  The weather was nice on Sunday so I got a couple of chores done outside as well.  I grabbed my post hole digger out of the shed at the old house and made an afternoon trip down to the new house. Once there I unboxed the cookie cutter mailbox I bought from Home Depot and gazed at the instructions.  Simple enough, after cutting a treated 4×4 to 48″, I grabbed my post hole digger, hammer, screwgun, some cement and a pail of water, and stowed it all in the Rabbit for the long trek down the driveway.

Driving down a bumpy pot hole laden driveway with a bucket of water is tempting fate. I only spilled a wee bit of my half full pail.

                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I lined up a spot 3′ from my neighbor’s mailbox and dug a hole that was supposed to be 18″ deep; turned out I hit sandstone at 12″, I suspect an extension of the country road bed of some sort.  Good enough I said, and dropped in the 4×4.  I then dropped in some quick-setting cement around the post, along with some water and squished it all around; repeating this until I reached the top of the hole.  Next up I leveled the post in both directions and fastened a couple of braces.  I was going to wrap up by installing the cookie cutter plastic mailbox today but got side tracked with my aforementioned baby trees. The other thing I was going to do today was finish the post holes required for the porch steps.  There are “wrap around” steps in a couple of places.  To fully support these we’ll drop posts into the ground and header across with pressure treated joists.  Presumably we’ll then cap off all of that with five quarter floor boards for treads.  Each post hole should be 28-30 inches deep.  I dug about six of them on Sunday, by hand.  It was quite the workout.  I was hoping to finish today or at least get a few in but alas I never even picked up the post hole digger. 

 

Post hole. The white speck you see in the hole poking out is a water collection tube. Luckily by using a hand digger I could avoid the pipe once I hit it. A power digger would've cut it up pretty bad I suspect.

                      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View of several post holes in a row. Not sure why we need so many, all it did was wear me out on a hot Spring afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were showing the old house on Sunday, so that meant pack up the kids and cat and go down to the new house.  This was Daphne’s first visit to the new place.  She timidly came out of her cage and sniffed around.  I followed her around, petted her, and explained, in a soothing voice, about all the new places she’d have to explore.  She slowly navigated the open staircase and poked around the hallway, inspecting her new house without really knowing it was her new house.  Eventually she found safety in the panty; one of the few spots that currently is conducive to a cat hiding in an otherwise empty house.

"This will never do, you've ruined our lives, you idiot" my cat is thinking. "Trust me it sounded like an awesome idea", I plead. She's wondering when they're going to finish the upstairs hall doors too.

As I said earlier, tonight was tree planting night.  Not on purpose but out of necessity.  We bought a bunch of seeds and baby trees from our local soil conservation district.  We were supposed to pick them up on Friday but of course we forgot so we got them today.  Reading the instructions, the trees basically need to be planted right away.  I don’t know if frost matters or not but regardless I can’t leave them in my dining room in their plastic bags.  We decided to make a nursery so the trees can go from babies to toddlers in one area and then we can transplant them to their final home later on.  This arrangement will make it easier for our lazy butts to water the saplings and to protect them with a temporary fence.  I was going to plant them all individually but I didn’t have nearly enough time tonight for that.  Instead I cut a 6′ wide trench and laid all the baby trees on their side at a 45 degree angle.  We (the wife and I) then covered up their roots with some of the top soil we had scraped away when building the house.  A little bit of water and now we just keep an eye on them.  Temperatures will be cool this week and I’ll be out to check on them.  I wish I had the time to spend a day just planting happy little trees.  Somewhere out there are people who have time to do that sort of thing, and they truly have found the secret to a good and rewarding lifetime.  I am not one of those people.  I will be in a fabric cube slowly waiting for death to come rescue me instead of planting my baby trees. 

Our first new trees. Make shift nursery is made from bird fencing and metal stakes. Fresh trench houses conifers, shade and nut trees. About 30-50 trees total.

I was so happy to see our quickly thrown together little nursery.  All the little happy trees in a neat row.  I’m sure they’re probably scared though, in whatever way little trees can be scared.  And I got to thinking, Daphne was scared too.  My wife is having a miserable time of it.  And I know if Mr. James, our oldest, breaks down it’ll be the end of me.  In hind sight I bet the worst part of this whole project will be the moving. 

We’re all kind of like those little trees treading out into unfamiliar territory.  Life in our existing house, for me at least, is taken for granted.  I’m so good at blocking things out, it won’t bother me until afterwards that we’ve really moved.  Only time can heal such non-sense of the soul and mind.  We have a lot of good memories, and too many bad ones, in this “old” (to us) house of ours.  It’s more a testament to the fact that where we live is as much of our family as any one of us.  Like I said I try not to think about it lest I shed a tear and send my wife over the edge.  I don’t think I gave our current house its due which is regrettable.  We never really got started here cause we always knew we’d probably leave.  Like not really putting much effort into something cause you’ve got something else going on or coming up.  Our old house in many regards holds its own quite nicely compared to the new one….better pocket doors for example, and more importantly about nine years of memories including the fact that it’s the first house our two boys ever lived in.  Ten inches of insulation and glass showers don’t hold a candle to that. But alas life if about progress I suppose, or at least that’s what we kid ourselves into lest we drink all day, right? 

So our little trees are out there with a mesh fence around them, and soon Daphne, our boys and the two of us will be out there, leaving behind the comfort of home to go live in a house.  And we’ll all be in the same boat, starting from scratch.  Some for the first time, some for the countless time. 

I recon we could stay, after all the old place isn’t sold yet. On the other hand though, there are a bunch of little trees waiting for us in a makeshift nursery.  I suppose they’re going to need someone to look after them in their new home.