Monday, February 28, 2011

CMR Update Feb 26: 30 days and counting....

Things are simultaneously moving quickly and slowly towards the finish line at the CMR.  Today I will put in our "notice to vacate" here at the temporary digs.  Huzzah!  The final finishes calendar is up at the CMR - and it looks like we are really going to get this project wrapped up.  Still proceeding with cautious optimism. 

This is the calendar.  Everything seems to be in order

After another "small" problem with the water heater - some kind of interior leaking that was fixed by the manufacturer - we now have heat!  See the glowing green light?  Green = good!

Glowing Green!

More proof?  A working thermostat that says it's going great guns!  But the most important proof?  The house was actually warm when you entered it.  Toasty warm.  Take your shoes off and feel the heat on the floors warm.  If there wasn't so much plaster dust and nails and other hazards on the floor, I would have just kept them off for the whole visit.  Radiant floor heating?  It's the bees knees!

A little high for George The Elder aka "The Electric Company"
The floor was installed in the library.  It still needs to be sanded and stained (which could be problematic, but we'll get to that in a minute) - but we're one step closer in this room.  Next up?  The cabinetry.  Some place to put the loads and loads of boxes of books that have been sitting in the dark for the past 19 months.

Trim around the windows and doors in being crafted and installed.  This is our strange little octagonal window in the library.  Why did they put this window in in the first place?  Who knows.  But we like it and it's staying.  It will be surrounded by more shelves in the next couple of weeks.

We are having a bit of an ironic situation over at the CMR that has to do with staining the wood.  The existing wood work in the upper level has been used as the prototype for the stain color for the new wood work that is being installed.  Interestingly, it took several iterations on different types of wood, using varied stains to derive the final samples for the new stuff.  When we finally settled on the stain color we were jazzed.  But then during the negotiations with Charles the Painter he offered to "spruce up" the existing wood work by a simple quick sanding and a couple of clear coats of varnish.  The price was reasonable and the old wood work was a little age worn.  We went for it.

Last week, Charles started the sanding.  There are book shelves in the family room, built ins in the dining room and a whole floor of baseboards and window sills.  The ironic part?  Now that Charles has started the sanding it is apparent that the original stain color can't be easily matched.  Go figure.

Here is an OK photographic representation of the wood work before the sanding.  It's this kind-of-a-sort-of-a-honey-oak finish.  The reason that we had so much trouble matching it so that we could stain the new wood work was that it had a sort of "greenish" color in there too.  Hard to see, but trust me, it was there.

Dining room case work right before we bought the house

This is a photo of the top of that same casework now that Charles has sanded it down.  Hmmm?  What was the stuff that was on it?  Some kind of mid-century waxy furniture polish/treatment.  Now it's all gone.

In his attempt to "match" the newly sanded stuff, Charles the Painter tries his hand at matching.  First try?  On the Right.  We went from honey oak to yellow oak.  No go.  So, Charles tries again.  I arrive at the house to see attempt #2 on the left:  Mahogany.  Not only a fail - but an epic fail.  See small board lying up against the newly sanded cabinets?  That is the goal.  The Holy Grail.  My faith in Charles the painter - - who I was kind hoping had a little experience in the matching of colors - is teetering.  I get the yellow.  I don't get how mahogany is even close to the oak sample.  We got ourselves some more work to do.  GC Paul is working on it with Jason the wood guy.  Excellent choice.  He's the one who made the samples in the first place.  I am hopeful he can recreate his masterpiece.

This is a photo of the existing guest room.  You haven't seen many photos of this room since nothing much was being done in here.  It has also been used as the "safe room" where all manner of boxes containing soon to be installed light fixtures, door hardware and other "need to keep dry and out of the way" construction things like new doors and windows are housed.  The reason I am showing this photo is because when we bought the house only one of these four windows could be opened.  Some were nailed shut in what we imagine was an attempt to "keep grandma safe."  Some were just simply painted shut.  Now, although you can't see it - - similar to the heat coming up off the floors - these windows all open.  Hip Hip Hurrah!  Luke the Foreman is a God.

Simply a view from the top of the upper hallway down in to the kitchen.  They've put the old hall cabinet in to the corner of the kitchen so that we'll have a little more cabinet space until the day in the future when we rip the whole thing out and install the kitchen of our dreams.  The steel railings that will keep us from failing down in to the stair well will be one of the last things to go in.

  The bathroom tile is nearly finished.  I sorely wish that the photos didn't make it look so "santa-esque"  When in fact there's a mix of green, blue and red.  The light blue looks white - - but it's not.  I keep saying that.  Still, we like it in person.  You're just going to have to come and visit to get the real "experience."

Shower area and pony wall are nearly all done.  Still missing the right tile shape for the very edge of the pony wall

Shower floor (and the rest of the floor) is done.  I didn't take a photo of the rest of the floor since it was all nicely covered up

Niche #1
 The calendar that I started this update with says the skylights are supposed to be installed this week.  Now THAT will be one of the last really big changes to the whole space downstairs.  We wait with baited breath to see the light that comes in and how windows will look where plywood has reigned for the last many months.  I took a couple of weird angle shots the other day of the walls leading up to the skylights.  One of the coolest things has been "seeing" things in person when you could only conceptualize them from drawings.  I can't tell you how I thought the wall was going to be - - but it's amazing that it's so tall and has a nifty angle where it will meet the skylights.

View from standing in the pool room looking toward the front of the house and H's room on the upper right
 And onward we move.  30-ish days and counting.  Time to start planning the house-warming party!!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wake me up before you go go

I LOVE the Academy Awards.  It's like my own little superbowl.  I get the snacks, I set the DVR, I wait excitedly for the game to begin.  This year - - what. a. waste. of. good. hot wings. and. blue cheese.

Sadly, George the Elder was out of town, so my viewing buddies were George the Younger and Henry.  Let's just say it wasn't the snark-fest of last year with my sisters.  But even if we had been together, I think that all we would have kept commenting on was the complete dearth of  material actually needed to make a snark-fest snarky.  Going it alone was exruciating.

I began the afternoon with high hopes.  I even had a couple of hostess ho-hos on hand to make watching the red carpet just a little more tasty and decadent.  I started up the VCR with  Ryan Seacrest and Guiliana Rancic and the red carpet on E.  The way I figured it was that there could be nothing better than to watch lots of fancy pants actresses show off the talents of their stylists and designers than to do so with a couple of hostess cakes to remind me that thems is thems and mes is mes.  My observations:

  • Guiliana Rancic needs a snack.  Badly.  It doesn't even look like she's eating cotton balls for nutrition.  Her arms were like chopsticks and made Kelly Osborn's head look even larger than it should.
  • Kelly Osborn is very very very good at repeating the last thing she has heard.  If an original thought had entered her head she wouldn't know what to do with it.
  • Cate Blanchet's dress looked like she was auditioning for "Star Wars XVIII:  The Red Carpet."  I also had some concern initially that she had just put the damn thing on backwards.
  • Florence Welsh and Scarlett Johansson are both guilty of raiding my grandmothers linen cabinet.  Florence needs to return those frilly bathroom curtains and doilies and Scarlett - what made you think that my granny's thanksgiving table cloth would make a swell dress?
  • Henry thought that Jennifer Hudson looked like a traffic cone.  Me?  I thought she looked great, although  I wondered what kind of clamp-like device was holding her left breast hostage.  It looked like it was pokin' her something fierce.
  • Hailee Steinfeld was a little puff of perfection.  Her simply dreamy pretty pink princess frock was divine.  Loved the headband too.
  • Damn Nicole - - what were you thinking?  The hip shield looked like a peplum that got turned around during the limo ride.  At least it looked like your forehead was moving again.  Thank heavens botox wears off eventually.
  • Helena B.C.  You just simply scare the crap out of me.  I don't care what you're wearing.  But I do like your shades.
  • Melissa Leo - - did you break in to Elvis' house and "borrow" something from the mid-70's?  Pricilla and Lisa Marie want their heirloom back, please.
  • Some real lovelies:  Sandra in red, Halle in netting and glitz, Hilary Swank who rarely misses, and Helen Mirren who is the one star who I can actually imagine myself wearing the same things she does.

The opening montages were the harbingers of bad, boring things to come (with the exception of Alec Baldwin and Morgan Freeman cameos).  I should have just given it up, but you knew I wouldn't didn't you...
  • Ann and James?  She was like a star struck Hammy the squirrel from Over the Hedge.  Pretty much hopped up and hyperactive.  James?  Did he rehearse his bland, boring, stilted delivery and occasional eye roll?  Cause he sure was good at it  He was nominated for best actor for a guy who cut his own arm off.  About 7 minutes in to the show I wanted to cut my own arm off and beat him with it.
  • Kirk Douglas... mostly good and a little bad.  Good that he's still alive.  Bad  that he seems to have gotten in to a relationship with the same make-up artist that Dick Clarke uses.  Good that he was probably wittier than the two hosts combined even if we could have used closed captioning to understand what he was saying.  Bad that they let his shtick go on about 3 minutes longer than it should have.
  • Dear Reese - - I couldn't decide if you looked more like the flight attendant Barbie from Toy Story 2 or some doll I used to have long ago whose hair would grow when you pushed a button in her tummy.  You're darling though.  Just get a new hair stylist and let Julie Roberts have her dress back.
  • I had NO idea that Christian Bale was Welsh/English.  I actually had to look it up on IMDb.  I seriously thought he was punking us what with that bushy beard and calling himself a git and all.  He's just weird enough to make it all up.
  • There is a VAST VAST wasteland between stars (with stylists and designers and tailors and make-up people) and the poor working schmucks like writers and editors and documentarians.  It would only be leveling the playing field a bit if the academy sent out personal copies of  "InStyle:  Oscar Secrets" to each and every one of the nominees.  This year's edition extolled the virtues of selecting the correct undergarments.  Spanx would have made a world of difference for so so many.
  • Single emotional moment?  The songs from Toy Story 3 and Tangled back to back.  I admit to welling up a bit.  Toy Story 3 was brutal.
  • They should have just let Melissa Leo spew forth her F-Bomb.  Now that would have at least made ONE acceptance speech interesting.
  • First LOL (and only) :  Taylor Lautner and "Doesn't he own a shirt" musical number (see what we were up against if THIS was the only funny thing???  It was horrid.)
  • Say what you want about Oprah, but years of reading teleprompters earned her "presenter of the night."  She seemed actually interested in presenting the best documentary award.
  • Is Chris Martin getting a little pissed that Gwyneth has been asked to perform musically at both the grammies and now the Academy Awards?  Cold who???  Oh and BTW - luckily you had a really nice red carpet dress Gwynny - cause you were off key.  Sad, but true.  Does that make Chris more sulky?  I bet it does.
  • And last - - H's final comment about Ann Hathway?  "How many dresses does that woman have with her?"
And in the end, are we glad that ABC signed on for another 12 years or so to telecast the Oscars?  Not so much.  Bring back Hugh or Steve or Alec.  Bring back Neil Patrick Harris.  Bring back Billy.  I think that they gave Billy a standing ovation tonight just hoping and praying that he would stay and stage an emcee coup.   Pity for all of us he didn't.  Like I said.  What a waste of wings and hohos.  Dang.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Doppleganger Elizabeth

George the Elder and I finally got ourselves out on a date over the weekend.  We went to see "The King's Speech."  If you haven't been yet - - hie thee to a theater before the Oscars on Sunday night.  It's a damn fine film.  Me?  I was prepared for the slog of an historical documentary-esque film.  Instead, I can't exactly recall how many times I laughed out loud.  Dialog was witty and clever.  Colin Firth deserves every bit of that nomination!

Coincidentally, I received an email from a dear friend (VB you know who you are) - - who sent along some photos of the young Queen Elizabeth to me.  She reports that she is now convinced the I am related to the Queen.  What nonsense?  Or is it?  Could we be living in a parallel universe?  Was I switched a birth from royal heritage?  Whisked away to a commoner's life in Greensburg PA to hide my true and deserved lineage?

The Real Queen E

Me on the right - adjusting to life as a commoner?

Ah, wouldn't that be grand?  Just thinking about the sheer number of hats and tiny purses I would have in my closet is overwhelming.  Corgies galore!  Lots of really good tea.  And the plaid!  Oh the plaid!!!

But wait - - there is one itsy bitsy little chunk of a downside....

Egad!  The hair's about the right color already.  Will keep this in the "memory vault" for a couple more decades.  We'll check back on this later.  As in MUCH MUCH later.  I'm not looking forward to it.  No I most certainly am not.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

CMR: President's Day 2/21 Color My World

First things first....our dented mac daddy of a water / radiant floor heater was replaced with a pretty sparkling new one.  Way to go Scotty-the Radiant Guy!!

This little doo-hicky will be all that we need to manage...

This highly complex and amazing feat of radiant floor heating technical monstrosity:

Since we now have electricity running back in to the house, we "technically" have overhead lighting. We do not, however, have any light switches so only tall-ish people can "turn" the lights on.  This is also know in the trade as "screwing in a light bulb."

But we need some extra light to see our very diagonally hip mid-century dream of a marmoleum floor!!  It's a little wonky on the eye in this photo, but it's simply divine in person.

The tile guys are hard at work finishing up our new downstairs bath.  The photo makes it look kind of "christmassy", but it doesn't look that way in person.  In fact, it looks exactly like we dreamed it would!  Hurrah for bathroom tile....

While continuing to strive for achieving the perfect exterior color for the CMR, George the Elder painted some big sheets of "Sequoia" on Sunday morning over at the temporary digs.

We hauled them over to the construction site and taped them up on a bunch of different exterior locations to see if we liked the color.  Guess what?  We DID!!  So, we're sticking with a reddish brown called "Redwood" or "Sequoia."  Oh so very northern California isn't it?  The trim will be a white to "pop" the windows.  Soooooo happy to have decision out of the way.  You likee?

Typically we head over to the CMR on Sunday mornings.  We go then because no one else is there.  It is quiet - no saws, no sanders, no one working.  But, this Sunday we got a little surprise!  Meet Charles The Painter.  As it turns out Charles the Painter also likes the house when there are no other workers there.  But the best part of the surprise was that Charles the Painter and his dogged painting helpers were PAINTING THE INTERIOR!!!  We got COLOR!!

This is the entry hall.  The color is "straw."  My camera makes the colors look a little brighter than they are in person.  But, DAMN, we love this color with our oak wood work.  After living so so so many weeks and months with white walls, we couldn't be happier to see a little color on the walls!

This is the library on Sunday around noon.  The color in person is a really nice blue/gray.  Oddly, much more gray that this photo shows.

When we returned on Monday we got to see the "straw" meet the "pigeon.  We're practically giddy.

Monday afternoon they are finishing up the hallway....

The living room first coat is finished!!

And so is the dining room!!!

The master bedroom??  A lovely shade of "storm" - can't wait to see it with the hardwood floors once they are unmasked.

I was over there this morning and they were starting the sanding of all the old wood around the upstairs.  They'll give it a nice sanding and then they'll cover it with a couple of coats of clear finish.  It's gonna be all pretty and shiny!!  They were also installing the wood floor in the library (or half of the library that used to be the "bindery" before we made it into the Library).  The bath tile is nearing the ceiling, they're grouting the front steps and I hear more rumors about railings being ready.

Best news of all?  We are ON TIME for completion at the end of March.  In just FIVE SHORT DAYS we will put in our notice to vacate our unit here at the Park Merced Apartments.  I am OVER THE FRICKIN MOON!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CMR Update Feb 16: We got some finishes!

This is Jason the Cabinet man.  What's great about Jason is that we're seeing him now because after months of big equipment, cement trucks, unfinished carpentry to put up walls and lots and lots of dry wall - - we're ready for the finishes.  Hello Jason the Cabinet Man!!

Jason built these!  The left will hold George's stereo rack and stereo equipment,  the middle will be our delicious wine closet soon-to-be-built by Steve the Wine Guy and the right are just going to be some open shelves where we will put some of our children's handcrafted and fired ceramics and macaroni picture frames- - or not.

Jason built this!!  This is the boys' bathroom vanity.  It will have two nice big drawers so I can stuff all their crap in to them in an outta-sight-outta-mind move - - and down below a kinda cubby scenario where I will put their extra towels.  Soon to be seen in the bathroom???  The TILE.  They were laying it out today.  See the muddy walls?  All ready for wonderfully colorful Heath tiles...

This nice guy was hanging the first of our new interior doors.  We LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  They all have ribbed glass inserts.  Some day in the distant future, this will be the door to a bathroom.  Today it is a door to a closet.   But the bathrooms have 1/2 glass and the other rooms get...

Full Glass!!!  Whoopppeeee!!  This is the door to my laundry room.  Poetic that it will be the first room with a door AND the first room to be painted TOMORROW!!!!  Bring on the Iced Marble - we're getting some color!

And here's two before and almost-after shots.  The Master bath with all it's wallpaper and frilly curtains:

The master bath with no door, no wall paper and no frilly curtains.  Soon the ceiling will be "steam" and the walls will be a lovely shade of "storm" - how cool is this??

The guest room bath in its previous riotous color scheme. Could you get any more curtains on that window??

And mid-correction...  Frankly, I hardly noticed how super-super yellow the ceiling and window trim really was against all the seizure-provoking wall paper.  Admittedly, this room will not have the WAKE-UP effect of its former glory - - but nor will we have to call the paramedics when our guests are blinded.  And the best news about this room is that they were able to find a nearly spot-on match for the pink tile for the areas under the sink and on the shower side!  Good deal.

Last - - check out these big BEE-YOU-TI-FUL windows.  After mis-information about impending delivery 3 weeks ago, after missing their ride two weeks ago - - this week - - well we got some serious sunshine streaming in.  And the two side windows open!  And they don't leak water!  And they keep the hot and cold air out.  Perfectly wonderful windows....

They're cleaner than this!  We couldn't figure out how to open the atrium doors, so this was taken through a window!

View from library entry way down hall towards the Kitchen stairs

Look Ma!!  We OPEN!!!
Before the week is out, we will have lots of tile, more doors, and rumor has it the railings are nearly completed.  The skylight needs to be ordered and installed and we STILL haven't selected an exterior paint color.  BUT - holy house batman - - - it's starting to look like we've got ourselves a home here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grammies 2011 - What a Show?

The Grammies - - sort of like the Oscars - - but with more interesting costumes and better performances (or not...)
  • First comment from George the Younger, "Is EVERYONE wearing latex pants?  That's hecka weird!"
  • Dear Usher, You ain't no Michael Jackson.  No matter what you might think.
  • Lady Gaga pointy mutant shoulders?  HUGE improvement over the meat dress, I think.  Better yet, her whole dance crew were like mental patients in shiny yellow hospital robes.  She should, however, ensure that Madonna gets a nice fat hunk of whatever she makes from that song which is nothing more than a cover of "express yourself."
  • Lady Gaga AGAIN - wonderful black rubber body armour.  I wanna borrow it.  If I were to sit in that in my car, those big bulbous butt cheeks could enable me to finally see over the steering wheel of my car for the first time in my life.  The pointy breasts -- just a little jelly on that bread.
  • First comment from Henry, "I think Katy Perry went a little over-board with her bedazzler!"
  • Current musicians who CAN sing?:  Bruno and Eminem
  • Current musicians who wouldn't have made it to Hollywood week based on their Grammy performances?: Rhianna (who couldn't carry a tune if they handed it to her on a shovel - but obviously has a second career as a fabulously talented pole dancer) and Miranda Lambert (what WAS that??)
  • Nicki Minaj - what were you thinking?  Leopard Q-tip?  Really?

  • Norah, John and Keith - - sweet little nugget of a song: Jolene (although John looked way too much like John Mayer-channeling-Johnny Depp, didn't he??)
  • Is J-Lo married to Gullam?  And what was with the playful, yet non-sensical, marital banter between the two?  Please don't let either of the twins look like Dad...
  • Did you catch Beiber's face when he lost to Esparanza?  I don't know who looked more shocked - Justin that he lost or Esparanza that she won!
  • Mick, Bob and Babs -- great to see you - - but how does it feel to be the "old folks"?  George the Younger wondered aloud whether Mick's Dad "thought he was an akward child?" and said "Hey!  Is that the lady that plays Ben Stiller's mom???  I didn't know she sang!!!."  As for Bob - - "what's he supposed to be doing?  Singing??  It doesn't sound like singing.  And who is Maggie and what's with her pie or farm or whatever?"
  • Cee Lo Green??  Highlight of the night.  He made Elton John look reserved.  It was Monty Python meets the muppets - - and all with a great song - - that should have won....

What NOT to wear

In an effort to come to closure on what color to paint the exterior of the CMR, George the Elder and I took a little field trip over to Westlake - - a veritable cornucopia of mid-century houses - - just a hop, skip and a jump from our temp apartment.  There are street after street after street of mid-century bungalows.  While we don't have a "bungalow", we figured that we might catch a glimpse of the ideal mid-century color combo.  Hmmmm - not so much.

When we got home and downloaded the photos, we realized that we had taken significantly more DON'T photos than DO photos.  Some of them were "real keepers."  A great many of these homes are owned by Asians, so some of the shades could possiblyy be attributed to advice from Feng Shui - - on the other hand - - there were certainly a few that were simply a result of poor color choice... 

Pink AND blue. 

And who says Lavender isn't calming?

Oh how I wish this one had turned out better.  This isn't even pink.  It's SUPER PINK!!
 The sun was starting to set, so several of the photos came out dark - - I so wish I had gotten a good shot of the one that had at least 8 different colors on it.  It was as if they went to paint store and simple bought gallons of whatever was on sale and then applied them all randomly.  It was a work of art.

And, you guessed it - - in the end we are no closer to determining what color to paint our own beloved CMR.  You can be sure it won't be pink.