December 06, 2004
The perils of youth

As I've described before in my occasional poetry postings, I've been the regular emcee for a monthly poetry and prose open-mic night for the past several years. One of the events we have every four months is an "Island Style Slam", wherein participants put in three bucks, get three words back, and then have twenty minutes to come up with something that uses those three words.

There are typically three or four sets of words at any given Island Style Slam, and I've enjoyed taking on the task of trying to come up with an "uber poem" that uses every word from every set, which I then read as the first "sacrificial poem" to get things started.

The following uber poem, from earlier this year, was a bit of a departure from my other poems, in that I tried to go for the serious artsy-fartsy style that is so popular among the younger slam poets. I put myself in the frame of mind by thinking, "If I were young, what serious things would I write about?"

So here is my attempt at being a serious, artsy-fartsy poet. My nine words were grapple, shingles, girlfriend, yield, wind, mother, curl, piercing, and celtic:

My girlfriend and I
grapple at clothing
and hair
which yield easily enough

Just As the wind
struggles to get past the shingles
on our roof
-which do not.
Then comes the celtic shriek
piercing enough to
straighten that which is curled
curl that which is straight

The most unwelcome visitor of all.

Posted by at 01:01 AM in the following Department(s): Poetry | Comments (0)
 December 15, 2004
If you lived here... still wouldn't be home by now, because they just started building it.

Our very own hole in the ground.

The construction crews started framing our new house today. Yee-ha!

Posted by at 11:51 AM in the following Department(s): Building a House | Comments (0)
 December 16, 2004
Building a House (Day 1)

Even though they actually began framing the new house yesterday, today is officially "Day 1" on the construction company's calendar. As of this morning, they had the joists and most of the floor down for the covering over the "sub-basement". In the photo below, you can see that where there used to be a hole in the ground, there is now something of a floor on top of the foundation.

Our very own hole in the ground is now covered with something resembling a floor.

You can also see from this photo that I need to clean the lens on my cell phone's built-in camera.

The next task on the list for today is to begin framing the garage walls. I assume that that's what those many piles of wood are all about.

Although Paulette and I particularly enjoy living in our current house in our current neighborhood, it has become obvious that we have outgrown the house and that the neighborhood is not terribly kid-friendly. We decided to look for a place where we could fence in the yard for Alex, where our house wasn’t attached to our neighbor’s, where there are more neighborhood kids near Alex's age, and where we had more rooms in the house to allow Paulette and I to each have an office in the home (which we haven't had ever since Alex arrived) and be able to accommodate various future needs.

There were a number of homes in nearby neighborhoods that met many of our criteria, but they were also outrageously priced and most needed the kind of repairs that we just didn’t have the energy or the money to contemplate making. We decided that, for the money, it would make more sense to buy new construction (like we did with our current house) and make sure we get everything that we want right from the beginning.

We ended up choosing a neighborhood where there is an elementary school being built roughly two blocks away, where there are a plethora of parks and trails scattered throughout (most of the parks having all different kinds of jungle gyms and swings and the like; very kid friendly), and where there was a good solid sense of family-friendliness.

The builder that designed the community is a “production builder”: something between a speculative builder who builds the house and then tries to sell it, and a custom builder who builds the house exactly the way you want it. What these folks do is sell you a lot, let you pick a floor plan that will fit on that lot, and then let you customize that floor plan with a few set, specific variations (like choosing a loft versus a closed-in room, for example, or having a fireplace installed in the family room, etc.). You can’t customize the floor plan the way you can with a custom builder: no moving around where a doorway goes, or widening the stairwell, or anything like that. You can’t add a fireplace just anywhere; only where they have it specifically listed as an option. That kind of thing.

Once you’ve picked your floor plan with you choice of variations, you can then go to town customizing options like cabinets, bathroom fixtures, moldings, door styles and door wrap styles, exterior colors, light fixtures, carpeting, etc., etc., etc. They even have a showroom where you can go to see most of the available options. In many ways, it’s like buying a car: they get you with the options.

But then, it’s those options that truly give a house its character. Unlike our current house, which we bought from a developer after it was already being built, we had a chance to truly customize our new home. So we splurged on cherry cabinets in the kitchen, skipped getting an air-conditioner, and so on. Picking the options was not stress-free: we were constantly confronted with the battle between economy and “doing it right the first time.” Nonetheless, Paulette and I benefited from being able to work harmoniously in making our choices, and we’re both happy with the choices we made.

Alas, this builder is selling houses faster than they can build them. So we made our choices for the options (a multi-week process), and then we waited. And waited. And waited. And, of course, tried to sell our current house in the meantime.

But now, our current house is sold and our new house is being built. The calendar calls for a 54-day building schedule, not including weekends, holidays, and “non-scheduled non-work days” (meaning weather delays).

Today is day 1.

Posted by at 01:06 PM in the following Department(s): Building a House | Comments (0)
 December 17, 2004
Help me! What's a Hope Chest?

Okay, I admit it. I'm a guy. I grew up never needing -- nor wanting -- to know what the heck a "Hope Chest" is. As near as I can tell, it's some kind of girl indoctrination thing whereby grown women who should know better start their daughters on the path toward planning for the eventual wedding by giving them a box to put stuff in that's, well, domestic.

Is that about the size of it?

I have a writing project in mind that may involve the whole hope chest scene. Do any of you, my loyal (or, even first time) readers, happen to know anything about hope chests that you'd care to share with me? Please?

Feel free to comment by clicking on the comment link, or send me e-mail (the link is on this page *somewhere*.


Posted by at 12:23 AM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (1)
 December 20, 2004
Progress in Progress (Day 3)

It's amazing what a difference a couple of days can make. For example, compare this picture below with the one I took on "Day 1" of our house being built:

The walls are closing in on us!The first and most obvious difference is that cleaning the lens on one's cell phone camera produces a much better picture than if one just lets it stay gunky and dirty.

The second most obvious difference, of course, is that they -- the ubiquitous they -- finally got around to painting our next door neighbor's house. Interestingly, the house on the other side of our neighbor's is also green (albeit a darker green). Ours is going to be white with red polka dots, so at least we won't have the problem of having three green houses in a row.

The third most obvious difference, which is probably lost because of the other two, is that our new house now has a few walls. I'm told that this is a feature, included in the purchase price. A friend of mine came out with me to survey the progress, and after noticing that all of the other houses in our new neighborhood are two stories tall, he asked how tall ours is going to be. I told him that it will be six stories tall. We are, after all, planning for the future. Twenty-seven bedrooms and a dumb-waiter-style elevator.

We're still waiting on word from the home owners' association for approval for the extra four floors, of course (just as they have to approve our color scheme), but I'm sure it'll come through.

In the meantime, though, it's clear that our new house will have at least one floor, if not two.

PS: if it looks like the first story of our house is already taller than the first floors of our neighbors' houses, that's because it is. We paid $.39 to "Biggie Size" our house. Either that, or our foundation sits a little higher for some reason.

Posted by at 01:59 PM in the following Department(s): Building a House | Comments (0)
 December 21, 2004
The Eager Suburbanite

When we had our most recent meeting with the builders of our new house, they gave us a schedule that outlined Days it is Unsafe for You to Enter the Property, Days it is Okay to Enter with Supervisor Permission, and Days it is Safe to Enter.

The beast takes shape.The unsafe days are all in red, the safe with permission were outlined in yellow, and the safe days in green.

The schedule was pretty much entirely red.

So I don't dare step foot on the property while it's a red day. What if the site super is nearby and catches me? I'd be violating the terms of our contract if I were caught in the house on a red day. They might throw me in jail! They might stop building the house altogether!

Or maybe not.

So they now have the second floor atop the first set of walls, and that's cool. The main stairway is in... but, of course, I haven't dared to actually enter the property to inspect it (or climb up it). Walking around the perimeter of the property, there's the smell of lots and lots of wet wood. New house smell, of a sort.

Man, I am such the giddy little suburbanite, all excited about our new house going up. The proximity to schools and parks and trails, the family-oriented community, and the many neighbors who live there already who have kids the same age as Alex.

Buying the mini-van was nowhere near as thrilling as all this.


Posted by at 05:57 PM in the following Department(s): Building a House | Comments (0)
 December 22, 2004
Today is officially Day 5

...but the framing guys are way ahead of schedule in putting up the walls on our house. When I went over to take today's photo, they were using a crane to start lifting up the roof triangle thingies (I believe that's the technical term, but I may be mistaken) and piling them on top of the second story walls, which are already up.

What are those roof triangle thingys called, anyway?

Again, I know that they won't *finish* ahead of schedule, but it's nice to know that at least we're not experiencing any delays just yet.

Posted by at 05:34 PM in the following Department(s): Building a House | Comments (0)
 December 23, 2004
Happy Festivus!

December 21st is one of my favorite days of the year. From this day forward, the amount of daylight increases every day.

December 25th is a pretty cool day, too. Celebrating Christmas, especially with a kid in the house, is always a fine time. Some folks get stressed out over the holidays, but not me. I love it all -- the shopping, the giving, the receiving, the spending time with family and friends. The whole bit.

Well, okay, I don't love the extra traffic near the malls, but even that's not such a big deal.

December 23rd, of course, is neither a holiday nor a seasonal day, but it is rapidly becoming one of the most widely-recognized made-up non-holidays ever. December 23rd is Festivus! According to the description spelled out in an episode of the sit-com Seinfeld, "a Festivus for the rest of us" is a day for complaining about how people have disappointed you and for setting up a plain aluminum pole and adorning it with... nothing. Festivus is supposedly a statement against the commercialism that has overwhelmed the holiday season.

How long do you think it will be before there are Festivus greeting cards? And... how ironic would that be?

Happy Festivus, everybody.

Posted by at 01:39 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (1)
The Roof! The Roof! (Day 6)

Before, I'd thought it was an optical illusion, but now I'm sure of it: our new house-in-progress is taller than the houses on either side. It also stands a little further forward and extends further back into the yard. This means that our backyard is teeny tiny (and, as you can tell, the front yard ain't much larger than a postage stamp), but in this day of Barry Bonds and other steroid-taking heroes, why get hung up on consequences?*

The roof! The roof! The roof is on the hizzouse!

As of today, the new house has a roof. Framing is very near completion. I think the eves over the porch and in front of the garage are the only things left.

*PS: can you tell that these posts are tongue-in-cheek? Or am I being too opaque? I realize that sardonicism (sardonicness? sardonicity?) is relatively rare these days, so it's hard to tell if people are taking me at face value. Hmmmm.

Posted by at 05:30 PM in the following Department(s): Building a House | Comments (0)
 December 27, 2004
Quiet Time (Day 7)

The crew that has been framing our new house is roughly four days ahead of schedule. Aside from some pick-up work here and there -- getting the white siding up for the porch eves, etc. -- the framers are pretty much done.

I was framed!

However, because this is a production builder that's running the whole show, that doesn't mean that the house is going to be ahead of schedule. A production builder coordinates the assembly of dozens upon dozens of houses (if not more) at any given time. Just because our framers are ahead of schedule doesn't mean the next crew to work on our house is ahead of schedule on whichever house they are currently working on.

ie, The plumbers will most likely come in to work on our house on the day they are scheduled to. Likewise, the roofers will show up when they are scheduled to show up. Just because one crew finishes early doesn't mean that the rest of a given job moves up. It simply means that the framing crew has a little bit of slop time now between this and their next scheduled house to frame.

Still, it's nice to see things moving along. Any time one crew gets their job done correctly and on time (or early) is one less potential roadblock to our house being completed on time. Near as I can tell, this crew put up the correct number of walls for the correct number of rooms . . . not, of course, that I'd know, since I'm not actually allowed to go in just yet. Safety reasons, you understand.

All that said, there probably won't be much new to see for the next few days, as the house sits and waits for the roofers and the plumbing crew to work their magic.

Yes, it's true, I'm still excited.

Posted by at 05:02 PM in the following Department(s): Building a House | Comments (0)
 December 30, 2004
Installing Windows (Day 10)

I started writing a long essay about the problem of stalkers and the Internet; decided that maybe that's not such a good idea right this second. Instead, here's a photo of how our house-in-progress looks on Day 10 (attention stalkers -- there's nothing to see here. Move along.):

Windows 2004

As you can see, the big difference as far as the exterior is concerned is that the windows are now going in.

When Al Gore invented the Internet, I wonder if he had any idea that it would be used to create millions upon millions of virtual slide shows on subjects as exciting as watching some family's house being built. *You* may not find it exciting, but *I'm* having a wonderful time watching this thing go up. Thanks for letting me share.

Posted by at 03:23 PM in the following Department(s): Building a House | Comments (0)

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