Archive for July, 2009
July 27, 2009
I’m packing. And packing. And packing. Days upon days of sorting through and categorizing my things, and curiously watching myself in how I’ve gone through this process. The house is naked enough now that I am returning to my memories of my first night here: I lay in bed, unable to sleep with the awful smell of the smoke buried in the walls from the prior owners, and then crying, wondering what I had gotten myself into. I left the tidiness of my condo for this dilapidated house with so many needs.
The house had the shutters nailed shut upstairs. A friend came over and we playfully pried the shutters off, then sat on the bed during the sunset, watching the bats dart about the sky and the waves furl at the beach. We sat exhausted, but stunned…there was a view, a fabulous view! I left the shutters in the carport for a couple of weeks, the smell of smoke oozing from them all the while, and then eventually, gave them away.
Since then, I’ve been eying over this gapping hole where the stairs make their climb up, thwarting the appealing space of the best view of the house. I’ve worked through every scenario of how to move the stairs so the placement is at the back of the room, and so, in short, that’s why I got an architect. We made plan after plan of possibilities, a year of thinking, drawing, discussing. An engineer had to get involved. Beams have to come in. Now a deck is added on. Yes, I know. All this means a lot of money. A whole lot of money. A mysterious amount of money. I’ve been moving money around from CD to CD, not sure when all the work would start, and now the market is bad. Money is just sitting in a checking account, waiting, waiting like horses in the start of a race, pawing and prancing and getting ready to jump.
Okay, I’m just going to go ahead and give my plug right here and now: the doggy doors made by Pet Doors USA, DogDoors.com are really great. The doors are made of hard plastic with fuzzy brush edges. No slappy plastic sheets that get brittle and let the flies in, not to mention raccoons and other unwanted critters.
I already have an in door model that’s now 6 years old. It locks, too, which is great for vacations or when I just don’t want Cholla outside.
Today I ordered a second one; this one will go into the wall of the room I’m going to move into while the remodel is being done. Cholla and I are going to try to condense our living space while the rest of the house becomes transformed around us.
The Bathtub Controversy
Water credits are very important. Each location that spews water, and the quantity that spot spews, has a value that add up like diamonds on a wedding ring, and the quantities get written in diamond headed chisel on the title that sits forever in title land, with a panel of Important Water People guarding it.
I love the Earth. I am entering this remodel project with every intent to make the changes as sensitive to the planet as I am when I walk all around native plants on the trails, as I pick up stray garbage on my walks, as I teach children to take the easy actions to reduce, reuse, recycle. Each change I’m making is for the better in conservation and lowest impact on our precious resources.
The house had items in place back in 1969. The house had two bathtubs, and a shower. At the point of title change to me in 1999, an inspector wandered out with a clipboard, encountered the prior owner, an interesting lady often spotted with a bottle of God Knows What wandering around in front of the house, drinking. Who knows what they talked about, if anything, but the inspector had a job to do. He had to make tally marks for the number of bathtubs and showers. He noted that the heads were good on the showers, but made only one tally mark. The lady signed, and off he went with his documents in hand.
Never mind that the city shows two bathtubs and a shower on their file. Never mind that the house was listed in 1999 with two bathtubs on the MLS. Never mind that I have pictures from the open house with the bathtubs and then resident dogs in front of them. Never mind that the $500 inspection I paid for during escrow described the bathtubs in detail and the floor rot around them. Tally marks and water inspectors prevail.
And so, the interesting pressures of documentation have begun. It’s so clear why people avoid the efforts of the permit process, the rigors of inspections and “doing things right.”
I stand here, a bit flabbergasted: it’s as though someone looks me straight in the eye, saying, “Your eyes are brown.” I say, “But, you’re looking right at me! My eyes are blue!” He says, “Well, the doctor who filled out this paper says your eyes are brown, so he must be right.”
And now, the lengthy process begins of proving What Is, making my presentation in front of the Water Board, accumulating my evidence, informing the lawyer, and all the while, being
There’s a large hole in my wall downstairs. It has officially begun. The remodel. Single woman with small brown dog is remodeling her entire house. It’s a project that I’ve been working on, well, since I was a small girl and dreamed of my house by the sea, where I would write and play and have a small brown dog.
But first, I had to rent apartments for a long time. I had to fall in love, and then fall in love again, and again, and again. I had to first own a condo by the sea, a block away from where I live now. The last love lived with me here; at one time loved to build; he took down the walls, took off the banister, and we found many excuses to scramble away on inspired trips in the Westfalia with Lita, the brown dog, leaving the work behind. We found the second brown dog, Cholla, our little imp, in Mexico. We would plan for the house, discussing the possibilities, how to move the stairs to get more view space. Then he got sick. Never mind the insulation dangling off the exposed framing, and the wires laying about; the disease worked away, and Russ died downstairs with the comfort of home, of love, around him.
Four more years had to go by. I had to cry a lot. I had to cuddle with a table saw like it was a warm pillow. The pipes had to leak into the room downstairs, the sewer had to be worked on every couple of months, Lita too had to die; I had to try love again, be crushed, then befriend a wonderful man who was old and dying of Parkinson’s to be my first architect.
This project is full of spirit.