January 07, 2005
Monday was a "scheduled non-work day" with regard to building the house. The construction crews also had last Friday off. Two days off for the New Year's Day holiday that occurred on a Saturday. Sheesh. Don't these people know we have a house we want to move into?
Construction proceeds apace on our house-in-progress. Today was officially work day number 14, and they are wrapping up getting the shingles on the roof, the plumbing in the walls, and they've started putting in ducting for the heat. The front, side, and rear doors have been installed (kinda).
I was curious as to why one of the second story windows has been sitting in the garage instead of being installed in its wall. It turns out that this window space is used as the major port of entry for the sheet rock which will be delivered the week after next. I'm sure that beats trying to carry it all upstairs.
The construction schedule includes an opportunity for us to meet with the site super (supervisor? superintendent?) to inspect the progress before the dry wall goes up. This also gives us a chance to take photos of the wall studs and the wiring and the ducting and everything in the walls that will be hidden by the sheet rock. This will be very useful when we want to make little renovations down the line. We'll meet with the super next week.
In the meantime, a couple of my faithful readers have asked for pictures from some other angle; something to give more of a sense of what the house looks like in context. In the coming days, I'll give you some other angles of the front of the house.
For now, however, let me show you the back of the house.
As I had mentioned in an earlier posting, our house is a little bit bigger than the houses on either side. This photo shows just how much farther our house extends into our back yard than our neighbors' do.
This is purely an accident of timing. Paulette and I had picked out this particular floor plan as being the best suited for us from among the many plans that the builder makes available. Because we got into the game so late in this community, there was only one lot left that could accommodate the house we picked. There were several larger floor plans (and several smaller floor plans) available, and there were still a couple of lots left to accommodate those larger plans. However, they didn't want to sell us the larger lot to put our puny house on. (Naturally, they wanted to sell larger houses for those larger lots, because that way, they'd make more money.)
So instead, they sold us the smallest lot left that our house could fit upon. Most of the houses on lots of this size have a smaller footprint (I don't know what the construction term is, so I'm using the computer geek term), and therefore a larger yard. As a result, our house looks much bigger than it is because it's next to smaller houses rather than being next to larger houses. Had we our preference, we'd have gone for the larger lot if only to get a decent size yard.
As with everything, there have been trade-offs each step of the way in our choices. Since we are not independently wealthy, cost *is* a constraining factor. This builder gives the best value of square footage for the buck, and if that means we get a smaller yard, then that's the way it goes. And so, here we are.
But all that said, you can imagine how psychologically weird it is to just look at the arrangement of houses on the one hand and say, Oh, My! That's one big house! And, on the other hand, to then look at the back yards and say, Oh, My! That's one tiny yard!
Earlier, I had joked that we were going to paint our house white with red polka dots. Well, that's a little family joke (my paternal grandfather once maintained a family cottage in Ontario in the sleepy town of Crystal Beach that was, indeed, white with red polka dots), but the truth is not too far off.
We had to pick the color scheme from a list of pre-approved schemes assembled by the builder. We opted for red with an off-gray trim, because we wanted something that wasn't effing green. Of the thirty color schemes available, twenty-five of them or so were some shade of green. It's like some cruel Northwest joke. "The Evergreen State" my butt. So, we opted for the least green color available. It was red.
If you think our house is a little bit taller, a little bit wider, a little bit farther forward and a lot farther back compared to the other houses on our street, just wait until you see it in Red. Holy cow, is our house going to stand out.
We didn't plan it that way -- it never dawned on us that our floor plan was larger than the houses next to ours. They hadn't even poured the foundations for our neighbor's houses at that time. But while we didn't plan it, is it any surprise to anyone who knows me that our new house is, like it's owners, going to stand out just a wee bit?
(Yes, I know. I need to go on a diet. But that's not what I meant....)
January 13, 2005
No, our house-in-progress is not going to be green. I've said that. It's going to be red. Unlike every other house on our block, which is either going to be green or beige (with green trim). That said, however, they wrap up the house in green paper before they put up the siding.
Today is day 17 of construction on our new house. Yesterday, there were all kinds of vans from So And So's Electrical Hut parked in front of the house, and the schedule had called for them to be wiring the house, so I'm guessing that's a good sign. This week has been the week for wiring the electrical, plumbing the gas pipes, finishing up the heating ducting, and inspecting the results.
Tomorrow is officially Day 18, since last Friday was a non-scheduled non-work day, but we are still scheduled to go in tomorrow for our Day 19 walk-through. Then we'll get to officially see the inside of the house for the first time. Remember, according the schedule, each day so far has been a "red" day, which means we're not allowed to go it. So, of course, since I haven't gone in, I haven't observed that they put in the wrong tub in the master bath, and then later replaced it with the correct one. Nor have I observed that the thermostat is being wired for the wall we asked them not to wire it on. That last item is something I'll have to make sure to notice tomorrow.
But all in all, with everything I've seen both outside and in (not that I've seen anything inside, mind you), it's exciting how everything is coming together. This is going to be a great house.
Even if we couldn't avoid that obnoxious Northwest insistence on using green to envelop the house.
It's going to take an awful lot of paper to wrap up this box. What kind of paper are they using? Construction paper?
January 14, 2005
I ended my previous entry by musing, "What kind of paper are they using to wrap our house-in-progress?"
Even though today is Day 18 of construction on the house that we are having built, we had our Day 19 walk-through this morning. That meant touring the house with one of the site supers (superconductor? supercollider?) and reviewing what has been installed so far versus what was on the plans.
There were only a couple of things that shoulda been done thisa way but instead were done thataway, but they are simple things that should be easy for them to fix before the drywallers start drywalling.
But I also learned something I hadn't known before, which I'm sure any of you who have ever paid any attention to construction already knew. The purpose of the paper that they wrap around the house before they put up the siding is to act as the true protection for the house. ie, even though it's called paper (as in "tar paper", even though they don't really use tar paper any longer), what it really is is weather proofing. It's a moisture barrier to protect the outer walls. This is where all the real work is done -- or at least, so I'm told.
So the paper protects the outer walls. The purpose of the wood plank siding that goes on top of this paper is simply to protect the paper. The purpose of the paint that goes on top of the wood plank siding that goes on top of the paper that goes on top of the outer walls is simply to protect the siding. Apparently the paint itself is not worth protecting.
January 17, 2005
Warning! This entry is not for the squeamish!
Heading into the Christmas season in 2002, gum tissue covering one of my teeth acquired a tear (which is a delicate way of saying it ripped -- ouch!) and necessitated some speedy oral surgery called a "gingiva graft". I told the gory story here on this website, and it is currently one of the most searched for sections of my public journal.
It had occurred to me as we left behind this most recent Christmas season that I ought to give an update. Interestingly enough, a visitor to the site dropped me a line at the same time asking how things have been going.
Well, funny you should ask.
I had my wisdom teeth pulled out in April this past year, and once again the procedure was effortless but the recovery was a drag. In fact, I was fine for the first day or two after the event, but then the pain level started to creep up. At the same time, I was settling into a relatively new job, and had to travel quite a bit as a result. There's nothing quite so fun as hopping the globe while recovering from oral surgery and having that slow taste of cloves (used as an anesthetic) to make all of your food taste weird.
But that, too, passed, and life went on. Then, a month ago or so, I had my biannual (did I say biannual? I meant semi-annual! Silly me... Freudian slide, I guess) dentist check-up, and my dentist said: "What the hell? Don't you floss?"
Well, no, not really.
All by way of saying, I need to floss more or my dentist will disown me (after taking all of my money and, he says, some more of my teeth). OK, that's probably more information than you really wanted to know. But despite all that... the area that had been the site of my gum graft is actually looking pretty good. It's been two years now, and it's clearly in better shape than it had been in before the tear.
But there's more to this story on a couple of different levels.
One is how the passage of time lends perspective on things. A reader stumbled upon my site and described a very similar chain of events with regard to how well their gingiva graft(s) have been going. Which is to say, they haven't been flawless, which is why another procedure is on the horizon. As my reader knows... I feel your pain.
But the reader went on to ask (in reference to some other issues I mentioned in my string of essays about the gingiva graft): "I also feel my smile is weird and different since that little thing that attaches your lip to your gum has been sliced. I can't even see it! I feel like my lip is kind of hanging freely and falls forward a bit? 'Is this normal?' I sure hope so."
Reader, nothing is normal about any of this, and you will NEVER BE THE SAME! BWAHAHAHAAAA! Your intimates may or may not notice the change in your smile -- my guess is that they won't -- because even if there is a change, it's probably very subtle. But what *will* happen is, you'll get used to how it feels. Just like you get used to how it feels when you have a tooth extracted, or braces put on or removed, or you gain or lose weight, or you get earrings, or your foot is amputated by a passing subway train, or whatever.
I'm having to reconcile myself with the sad fact that with every passing year, I look a little bit less like the guy I looked like in college. And let's make no mistake: I didn't appreciate it then, but I wasn't such a bad looking guy in college. Of course, I appreciate it now because now I'm 80 pounds heavier, my hair is *darker* (I liked being a blond, durnit!), I'm fatter, I weigh more, I have widow's peaks, and I'm much larger than I used to be. In fact, I'd have to say that if the gum graft altered my smile at all, it was nowhere near as much as my weight gain has altered my smile. :-X
So, dear reader, if you want to stop feeling self-conscious about how the gum surgery has affected your smile, do what I did: gain an average of five pounds every year.
Fortunately, ice cream is both good for your surgery recovery *and* for pursuing that weight gain.
There's another aspect of the oral surgery I wanted to mention here, with regard to what it means down the line. Two years or so have passed since the graft(s), and over half a year has passed since I had my wisdom teeth forcibly removed. I've settled into my new mouth, though, and my mouth is probably about as healthy as any typical American male my age.
But therein lies the rub. As a good friend of mine once commented (he is ten years older than me): it's all down hill from here. In a bad way. Sure, it's oral surgery today, but next year, it's getting new glasses. Or arthritis. Or mid-life crisis (more on that in a future essay). Or menopause (for half of my readers, anyway). Cancer. The flu. Knee replacement surgery. Empty Nest Syndrome. Senility. Flatulence. Halitosis. Ennui. Rigor mortis.
It's been two years since I had the procedure(s), and you've caught me in a philosophical mood: it wasn't a walk in the park, but then, walks in parks are overrated. Everything has worked out okay as far as my mouth is concerned... much to the chagrin of my waist.
Work continues on our house-in-progress. Day 19 and Day 20 are on the schedule as just being catch-up days for the items we caught during the frame walk-through while the siding continues to be installed. [Note: this entry was written on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It was not on the schedule as a work day, although I'd originally assumed that it *was* a work day, since people were there working. Hence, although I had originally thought this was Day 19, I was in error.]
As you can see in this washed out snapshot, they've started attaching the wooden planks at the bottom of the house and are layering them up the walls. The planks are a kind of off-white. I'm assuming that simply means that they came pre-primed.
You can't tell it from the photo here, but it was raining here as the crew finished up for the day. So I thought it was kinda funny when they took out a hose in the midst of all this rain and sprayed the siding they've installed so far. Like, how much more wet could it get? (I know, I know, the rain wasn't cleaning it off the way a good hosing down did, but it was still funny.)
For the next couple of days, the wood plank siding will continue to creep up the outside of the house, while not much will be happening inside (except for taking care of those aforementioned small issues). Work inside the house resumes in earnest in a couple of days, when they begin putting up the drywall.
At this point, we are over one-third of the way through the construction schedule. Wow, is time flying. Yee-ha.
January 18, 2005
I was just speaking with one of my avid readers (Hi, Mom), and she observed that it appears from my photos that our house-in-progress has no front door.
Au contraire! There *is* a front door... you just aren't looking hard enough. Here's a photo I took a few days ago (before they started putting up the siding):
Watch out for that first step... it's a doozy.
Now, with this photo and the other photos I've posted, you should be able to figure out where the front door is.
January 20, 2005
Sometimes I can be a real idiot.
I went today to check on the progress of our house-in-progress. Today is officially Day 21 on the schedule. (Note: I'd originally posted an entry on Monday the 17th and referred to that as Day 19, but it turns out that Monday was a scheduled non-workday because it was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Alas, since I was working that day, I didn't register that the construction crews might have the day as a scheduled day off. The fact that they were actually on site working didn't alter that impression, either. I've update the heading for that entry to read that it was the Day Before Day 19. But that’s not what I was referring to when I said that I can be a real idiot....)
Day 21, according to the schedule, is when the crews are supposed to wrap up getting the siding installed. As you can see from today's photo, they were still working on it when I dropped by at around 4pm. They were working on the area beneath the front eves while I was there, and there's still some space above the top floor windows that need to be taken care of. The other sides of the house appear to be all done.
While I was there, I had a chance to meet one of my future neighbors. This is where my ability to sometimes be an idiot comes in.
By way of background, I should remind you that I once studied Tae Kwon Do (back before I turned into a blimp). TKD is a Korean martial art, and one of the things that one learns at a good TKD school is rudimentary Korean language skills (how to count in Korean, the Korean names of various techniques, etc.) and rudimentary etiquette. Nothing super fancy, but enough to at least show some respect for the traditions and the practitioners of the art.
One of the things we were taught is that it is polite, when shaking hands or when handing something to another person (or taking something from another person), to bring up your left hand and hold it (palm down) below your right elbow as you extend your right arm in front of you. That sounds more complicated than it is. It's a subtle gesture, one that you might not notice if you had never been taught it -- although you better believe that your instructor will notice if you fail to do it!
There's a deli nearby where I work that is owned and managed by a family of Korean-Americans. I noticed that whenever I give them my payment or accept my change or my purchase that they automatically offer this gesture. Noticing that they do so, I reciprocate. It's a little thing, an attempt to acknowledge their culture and their politeness.
So as I mentioned above, I had the chance today to meet one of my future neighbors. And when we shook hands by way of introduction, I noticed the gesture. Involuntarily, I said, "You're Korean?"
Even as the words came out of my mouth, I felt like an idiot. What an awkward way to introduce myself, by starting off asking about their ethnicity. Stupid, stupid, stupid. What an effing moron I can be sometimes.
"How did you know?" she asked politely. Yes, this future neighbor is a she, and no, I did not ask, "So, you're a woman, too?" I sorta mumbled my way through my answer, about how I'd learned the preferred handshake when I took Tae Kwon Do, and I was all stupid and awkward about it. I don’t even know if my answer made sense. (Would *she* know that TKD is a Korean martial art? Just because she’s ethnically Korean doesn’t mean she knows Tae Kwon Do...)
I'm inclined to think that my future neighbor wasn't offended; at least, I *hope* not. We had a pleasant enough (albeit brief) conversation. She did notice that Paulette’s and my future house seems relatively large. I should have told her that I hate, hate, HATE backyards, but that didn't occur to me at the time. (That *will* be my response from now on, however.) Instead, I just mentioned the kid thing, and was otherwise non-committal. I didn't want to get into the whole indoor swimming pool issue, the bomb shelter, the mad scientist lab, and how it's not the size that matters, and all that.
So far, I've met maybe a half-dozen of our future neighbors. They have all been very friendly and welcoming, and I expect that we're all going to get along just fine. Still, I hate the idea of making an awkward first impression.
Secret Korean handshake: dumb white guy opens mouth, inserts foot.
January 21, 2005
Inside of our house-in-progress, they've installed insulation.
Outside, they've installed ladders. Lots and lots of ladders.
They were an expensive option, but we didn't want to leave anything to chance.
January 24, 2005
Work continues pretty much on schedule on our house-in-progress.
Inside: the drywall is up. All of it! You might even catch a glimpse if you look inside the garage.
Outside: the siding is complete (or at least, it appears to be), and they've even put up some of the window trim and shutters.
I'm curious about why they install these ornamental shutters. Clearly, they have no practical value at all. They are in no way going to protect your windows in case of severe weather. So why bother?
January 25, 2005
Somehow this past weekend, I managed to escape the usual routines and requirements at home and get out to see a movie at a movie theater. On the basis of Roger Ebert's excellently written review, I decided that I should see Million Dollar Baby before someone spoiled the story for me. In his review, Ebert doesn't tell you too much, but gives very compelling reasons as to why you should go see it.
As the movie opens up, you can tell where it's going -- which formula it is following, which notes it has to hit -- and it's done brilliantly. The actors are pitch perfect: Clint Eastwood as the cranky old trainer who is guarding a heart of gold, Hilary Swank as the wanna-be contender who has all of the odds stacked against her but an undeniable will to beat the odds, and Morgan Freeman as the wise intermediary who nudges both characters to see what they otherwise could not. Had the movie played out as expected, it would no doubt have stood as one of the best of its breed.
But then, well, it turns out that this movie does not follow the formula at all. Much like Eastwood's movie Unforgiven, it transcends its genre. Million Dollar Baby tells a very human story that goes beyond its apparent setting as "a boxing movie".
I don't know if I agree with Ebert that this is a "great" film. It is certainly not flawless -- unlike, say, The Godfather, which is arguably perfect. I have a couple of minor quibbles with a couple of scenes that didn't ring quite true to me. But if this movie isn't one of the all-time greats, it is nonetheless damn good.
There is a danger of going in to see a movie like this with one's hopes set too high. When I went in, I had no idea what to expect. Ebert didn't really warn me of what to expect -- much to his credit -- but rather, he simply said that this was the best film of 2004. Going in, that seemed to set the bar pretty high. But then, as much as I love Mr. Ebert's writing, we don't always agree on what works and what doesn't. So I went in expecting that the movie would be worthwhile, even if it wouldn't make *my* list of the year's best.
(Of course, I haven't seen that many new movies this year.)
My first reaction when the movie was over was that, well, hmm, maybe it *was* the best film of the year. And the more I've thought about it, the more convinced I have become that, yeah, this definitely was the best I've seen, and probably better than the ones I haven't seen. Here we are a few days later, and I still can't stop thinking about it.
Was it perfect? Certainly not. Was it great? Ask me again in a year, after I've had time to digest it. Was it worth seeing? Oh, yes. Definitely.
Don't read any more reviews. Just go see this movie, and tell me what you think.
January 28, 2005
Unless there has been an unscheduled non-work day that I'm not aware of, the builder working on our new house-in-progress closed the books today on Day 27 of construction. This is officially the half-way point of the schedule.
The crew appears to be pretty much on schedule. Some things appear to be a little bit ahead -- mostly on the interior, where the sheetrock has been mounted and the mud and tape and the sanding appear to be well on their way, if not completed. The scrap from the drywall has been removed, which means the rooms look more like rooms than they do construction waste bins. Not, mind you, that I've been inside the house to notice such things.
As you can see from this photo, the garage door has been installed. Other than that, one doesn't see much work being done on the exterior. Painting the exterior should have started, according to the schedule, the day after the siding was mounted, and before the shutters and garage door were installed. Likewise, the gutters should have been installed by now.
However, other houses at the same stage of construction as ours also appear to have been delayed. I suspect that the weather has been the culprit. This past week (the past two weeks, by and large) has (have) been mostly dry and warm, but the painting crews may be behind schedule because of two weeks of pretty much daily precipitation before that. Judging by the houses that are just ahead of ours on the master schedule (three of them are right next to each other, one block down), one of which received its first coat of its primary color today, I reckon that ours is maybe a week away from getting its first coat.
From what I've seen of other houses going up in this development, the painting and trim process of the exterior won't be wrapped up anywhere near as quickly as the other exterior work has been thus far. Interior work, on the other hand, will be picking up pace dramatically.
Watching the house go up is, in many ways, similar to watching Alex grow up. Alex is two and a half years old now, and every week (at least) there is some new behavior, some new physicality that presents itself. Some sign of progress, of growth. He's closer and closer to becoming an adult, which is freaky considering that he's still got a few years to go. Likewise, with each passing week (at least), the house has some new feature that makes it more and more like a complete house... although it still has a way to go, as well.
Of course, the house will hit maturity in 27 work days. The same can not be said of Alex... thank goodness. Then again, the same can not be said of me, either. :-)
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