Sunday, July 29, 2007

A belated tribute to my love, Jennifer

I can't imagine another woman - or another person - I could do this with. Jennifer has busted her ass on this house, and after a long day of sweating and tearing down crap on the most humid day of the year, she would not take my offer to go to a hotel so we could sleep with real walls around us. "I like our house," she said to me. I consider myself very lucky. How many of you have a partner that will endure this?

She has suffered nicks, cuts, burns, heat exhaustion, voluminous sweating, dust, muscle aches, setbacks, disappointments, and all manner of general discomfort - without a complaint - and she still gets up on Monay morning and looks damn good for the business world.
I love her more with every little thing we do here.

(This is a picture of her on her cell phone at Cracker Barrel the hour before I went to the closing and she went to pick up Laura at the airport.)

Gardening, painting, housejacking, more surprises (pictures below)

We went to the Cold Spring farmer's market and gorged on some nice plants. I can't remember the names of them all but for the Bee Balm, Lavender, and the fountain grass.

Jennifer decided to tackle painting the porch deck, trim, and all the shutters, and as she sanded away she discovered some rotten wood and ants which we chased away with spray. Jennifer used some nasty chemical stripper (it burns skin on contact) and the orbital sander to remove the paint. Most of the wood beneath is good but for one corner. We peeled off the aluminum siding to get to the bad spots. I don't think we'll put it back afterward.

The last picture is of a bottle jack on a stack of cinder blocks. I have raised the house something like a quarter of an inch or more already. The jack is about 1/3 of the way along the main beam from the front of the house. After I raised the house a bit the existing poles came loose so I tightened them. Already the first floor seems more solid, but some of the remaining walls are cracking here and there, and you hear small snapping noises from time to time.

The photos are bad quality because my nice digital camera is in the repair shop - I fried the LCD one day when it got wet in my shoulder bag.

Not shown but done this weekend as well: installing shelves, unpacking more things to PUT on the shelves, making platforms for the washer and dryer,

Friday, July 27, 2007

Still slowed down, but not stopped.

Jennifer took a trip last weekend for a few days, and we decided last weekend was more for fun. We did some serious shopping. Finn got a new bike and a slip-and-slide which he and the neighborhood kids employed to much enjoyment.

Even Cara and I took a running jump on it. You will not see pictures of that, for my camera has since broken and is in need of repair or replacement.

Jennifer has learned how to use the string trimmer with much skill already, I made two shelves for the garage to get things off the damp floor and make room for other things, fixed a loose faucet by making my own lock washer and a new bolt to hold the handle, put up a shelf in the pantry, and kept myself out of trouble.

Now we are discussing what steps to take next. We still have found only one electrician who came to give an estimate. We'd like a few more to see what our options are because $5500 is a lot of money.

Then we got some serious framework to do.

Jennifer is contemplating putting in a brick patio in the interim - she's gonna figure that one out.

Friday, July 20, 2007

forced to take a break

The last few nights I was sick, then Jennifer got a little ill. We're both feeling better now. All we have done of late is pull more nails, move drywall and wood into the house, and discuss plans (also all that other stuff like paying bills, laundry, taking care of kids, cleaning, putting away clothes, etc.).

Monday, July 16, 2007


Frame straightening will begin soon. I have two bottle jacks now, enough knowledge and ambition to be dangerous, and a desire to see the floors and walls stronger and straighter. Stick around, it's going to get interesting.

Stuff we found in the walls / Electricity

Here are some pictures of the things we have found in the walls.

I don't know what the rusty tool is, but it appears to be from around the time before Beacon was incorporated from the villages of Fishkill Landing and Matteawan. '
The back of the postcard has a canned message, "I have just arrived safely and am now reporting for duty. Shall write you a little later." The date is also part of the form - just "July _____ ." It's from Culver Summer Schools in Culver, Indiana. It was never filled in or mailed.
Cabaret Voltage
I spent my time after work today removing more nails from the walls and finding out what wires we shorted during the demolition. The electrical situation is getting scarier. We did not bother to remove the chandelier in the dining room as we tore out the ceiling, and as I wielded a crowbar around it, I thought maybe I was playing some deadly game of pinata. A few outlet boxes also suffered - since they are metal the hot wire shorted on them and threw the breaker. It was interesting to see that the sparks in the air cleared the dust in the immediate area rather quickly. I guess those air ionizers work.
There are a few receptacles and lights in the back of the house that I cannot figure out yet. I don't know what breaker they are on and why they don't work - yet.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

More fun at Vaclav's Hovel

We started today with a wonderful breakfast. The first things Jennifer made with our new stove were bacon, eggs, and blueberry muffins. Finn watched them before Jennifer took them out. Finn even ate one and a half muffins.

More weird fucking shit happening in the ceiling. We took out the last ceiling for now, in the living room.
Here I am in the process. There was bead-board, originally, and ripping that and the plaster out together made the biggest, nastiest mess so far. We got through it and filled up the dumpster. No more dumpsters for awhile. Next step: get electrical repaired, straitghten and reinforce frame, put in walls where it best suits us.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Bastille Day

Jennifer and Finn next to her new stove. Notice she is holding Cliff*, her favorite tool.

Finn helping with demolition

Mother and daughter discuss computers.

We removed the dining room walls and ceilings today. This is looking up. Not evident here is the fact that the joists do not touch the floor, and that there is no subfloor. There is some weird shit going on and it has to be corrected.

Finn enjoying the fun side of a simple machine.

(*Cliff was so named because I was irritated that the straight end of him was not split to remove nails. I said it was not "cleft, clove, cloven?" Not finding the word I settled on Cliff for some reason and I refer to him as such now.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Finn is here, happy to see his big sister. He saw the garden with Jennifer, promised both of the girls Valentines, made a friend, and slept in his tent in his room. Cara set up her room for privacy by putting up sheets.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Beacon harbor in the hazy morning. That's Newburgh across the river. Hey, Tony, sail up here some time! Laura, we planted our garden, finally.

The new faucet is finally installed (Moen). I chucked the $15 Peerless, and fixed the sink with four clips in the rear.

The Bob Goddard who installed the sink put no trap in, and the tail from the left-hand sink went straight to the waste pipe. So, whenever the toilet flushed you could hear a gurgle in the kitchen, and the room smelled like sewer gas. This trap looks like hell but it works. The copper behind it is similarly ugly but it don't leak.

Bob's truck. It served us well during the move and for fetching many supplies and lumber. Thanks, Bob, Becky, Will. (sorry, Sam...)

Addendum to Sunday night.

Jennifer enjoying her book in the ersatz master bedroom.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Jennifer using the kitchen as best she can. We woke up our neighbor with the smell of maple-smoked bacon.
Woman where walls once were.
Removing walls the way of Parkour ( Or maybe not. Yes, those pieces are in flight.

All walls removed. I am in the back of the house, Jennifer in the front.

Celebrating a job well done, two dirty people share a kiss.

This one is for my brothers: Tony, Phil and Pat were all carpet cutters and installers for their teenage years and some time after. It's how Phil met his wife, Peg, and how Pat and Bob met, and then how Bob and Becky met. I may have that last part wrong but who gives a fuck.

Came time for me to work at the same place and it didn't work out - I did not have a driver's license and could not operate the forklift. So, here is the extent of my carpet cutting career.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

We decided to punch out all the ceilings in the second floor. This is Jennifer suffering the attic heat, removing old insulation and getting ready to kick through.

This is how we prevented shit from falling down the stairs. Jennifer suggested we lay a piece of plywood there, and it worked well. Kinda warped the railing a bit, but we didn't like it much anyway.

This is a 20-yard dumpster, getting full. We already filled a 10-yard over the brim.

Jennifer started working on the last walls, in Finn's room. She said the faux wainscot and wallpaper were glued to each other and then the wall. Sounds like a Martha Stewart or Lynette Jennings job. So, where was Paul?

In the basement, sweating pipes. I haven't done it in five years. They look sloppy (I use way too much flux and solder), but they don't leak.

Friday, July 6, 2007

We're taking out some interior walls now, too. Here's Jennifer getting mad at one; look at the three layers; the bedroom wall is gone; picture of a cairn or inukshuk on the shore at Beacon point; Ninth Street characters, N.A.G.A.U. logo, and Cara's SuperPencil on the kitchen wall.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Wednesday, July 4th

Celebrating 231 years of Independence, the 31 Vine Street way. That's Culpepper's Ensign beneath Old Glory in the last photo. The green street sign is one that I stole from my brother who got it from a street in Liverpool.

Justin (Cara's boyfriend) came to visit and have dinner with us. He helped me fetch a new bottle of propane in the pouring rain. Jennifer enjoys Grandma Brown's Baked Beans, cooked with bacon and brown sugar, the way I remember it from Independence Days past.

Tuesday, July 3rd - Random Subjects at Beacon Waterfront

Water Taxi Dock; Newburgh-Beacon Ferry; Red House at Long dock (see for interesting info); Portrait of a fish head; self-portrait of another fish head.