Tuesday, June 26, 2007

housewarming, part 1

saturday night in brooklyn, our first backyard grill out and first official housewarming! melissa counted 41 friends; thanks for coming! it makes this place feel much more like a home having friendly faces and good people fill it up. thanks to thabo's mom for transporting his grandfather's grill from VA, it cooked up lots of tasty stuff.
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time for a new fridge

this concluded the ongoing debate about whether to keep the existing fridge on the first floor. those are cute, little, cuddly roach eggs.
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work weekend, housewarming,

this past weekend was a whirlwind of house progress! honestly, it was much appreciated; i think we've all started feeling the effects of the initial stages of excitement wearing off, and the day-to-day work setting in. so, we threw a housewarming party (part 1), and invited people to come early if they wanted to pitch in for a bit. friday night steve y-b and thabo's mom and sister came, and dug right in. and saturday, we had lots of help pop in during the day. a (maybe not) complete list of everybody we should thank for helping: steve y-b, jean, atieno, ryan o., katherine, robert, sylvia, mike y., roberto. thanks so much for helping us, and this photo collage is dedicated to you, and all that you are! lots of stuff got done, including major steps on the fourth floor (floor patched, drywall, some cool trim, subfloor, etc.), first floor kitchen cleaned and painted, lots of stuff unpacked and put away in that kitchen, plants planted, lights put up for the party, lots of cleaning and bagging up of garbage, and more. we're really greatful for the help.

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commercial break

we had a fun and busy weekend working on the house, and i promise to post about it very soon. in the meantime, this blog is a chronicle of my friends greg and mollia and gretta, and their trip to vietnam, where they just adopted henry an. it's very touching, and a good reminder that there is still goodness in the world.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

moving to parlour and first floor, wedding flowers

this week in the evenings, we've been working on moving from the third floor (where we were more or less camped out), to our more permanent homes on the parlour and first floor. each couple now has some private space to call their own on the parlour floor, and the first floor is being cleared out to make room for a living room. this is where we plan to stay for the next six months or so.
this weekend, besides having some friends over for a house warming part 1, we're planning on painting and moving into the first floor kitchen, which will officially remove us from the third and fourth floors, allowing us to work in there without working around our living space. the plan is to complete work on those two floors, and rent them out on shorter term leases, while we continue living and working on the bottom two floors.
we started unpacking a bit more of our things last night, and it's nice to feel like we'll have some living space that we can decorate and escape to when we need it.

last weekend was the wedding of our friends, matt and laura, and it was a really nice time. they gave us some of the potted plants they used to decorate for the ceremony, and melissa has made some nice patio space in the back with them. it's a nice spot to take a break from the mess. i'll try to remember to post a picture of it.

here's an interesting article in the ny times today that presents some alternatives to consumerist culture, and to reusing instead of buying things new. freegan, anyone?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

current tally...

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blue room

melissa, cindy and i also primered the blue room today. we call it the blue room, because it's completely blue; walls, ceilings, trim, moldings...everything was blue blue blue. now, it's kind of whitish-blue.
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kitchen, toilet, smiles all around

okay, here's some progress! this week has felt like things have progressed slowly, so it was nice to feel like we got more done today. thabo and i picked up cabinets from a guy in astoria, while cindy and melissa cleaned out the roach kitchen. the picture on the left are the new cabinets, and a new/used stove we got from a guy in carroll gardens. that's thabo taking a nap under the sink. slacker.

here's melissa, enjoying another fun-filled day of house work. notice the ease of access to the backyard from the first floor bathroom. who's bright idea do you think it was to make the only access to our backyard through the bathroom?? not cool.
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here's the finished, painted door. so far, the color choice hasn't really won anybody over, so it's probably going to be repainted at some point. one of the little girls down the street suggested pink, or possibly a pattern of ladybugs. both, good, solid ideas.
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

What's next?

Dan offers prayers that the roaches are gone for good

There's so much to do in this house that it's a bit overwhelming trying to decide what comes next. We've made two different prioritized lists, but our plans keep changing. Contributing to the challenge is the fact that most of our work sessions last only a few hours in the evenings, so it's hard to dive into big projects. Sometimes even those short sessions are interrupted. For instance, tonight we're supposed to go an pick up kitchen cabinets we're buying off craigslist for our 1st floor kitchen. Now that we've scared away all the roaches, we're going to try and set up shop down there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

front door extreme makeover!

our good friend jonny is in town from the northwest. sooo... we made him work on the house. on monday, jonny and i tore out some rotted plywood around the front door and replaced it with some more solid stuff. then we primered it. today, we hope to paint it and make it pretty.

thanks to thabo for letting jonny borrow work pants that make him look like he's wearing high waters.

here's a glamour shot of thabo crawling into the fourth floor ceiling.

we've been working on the fourth floor closet, starting to put things back together. got quotes from two plumbers this past weekend for various plumbing jobs as well.

Friday, June 8, 2007

closet work continues

here's two pics of thabo and the now-torn out closet. in the bottom picture, you can see where the skylight is in the ceiling (that was in the closet, will now be a nice feature in the apartment).

we finished tearing out the closet on the fourth floor last night. plaster dust galore. nothing like a thin layer of plaster dust on your coffee pot to start the work day right... two pipes that were in the closet have to be dealt with; one of them appears to be a now-defunct sewer line, the other an in-use gas line that connects to the stove in that apartment. that will require a professional's touch to move, i think. also, melissa went to the upper west side last night, and bought some cabinets and a stove from craigslist. which is super helpful.

the neighbors tell us that if we get to know the garbage guy and "tip" him, he'll take some of the bigger, heavier trash on trash day. speaking of neighbors, i have gotten to know more neighbors in my first week here, than i ever did in my almost two years in manhattan. interesting.

we now have internet at home, which means pictures will follow shortly.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

closet demo, trash, configuring duplex, neighborhood kids

last night we started knocking a closet out of the fourth floor apartment. in the picture to the left, it's the wall that doesn't have a door in it. you should see cindy weilding a sawz-all and sledge hammer...awesome! the closet opened up into the common hallway, and appeared to have been a bathroom at some point, many, many years ago. it has an old skylight in the top of it, which should make for a nice feature for that apartment. we're making tons of dirt and dust, tearing out the plaster (yes, we're wearing dust masks), and getting rid of construction debris is going to be an issue. we bagged up a bunch of it and put it out for the garbage last night, but for some reason they didn't take it. maybe it was too heavy. or maybe we have to start service. another thing to add to the list to figure out.

here's our temporary community kitchen on the fourth floor. currently the coziest spot in the house.

all bathroom sinks are now draining properly, and two of three tub/showers are too. the fourth floor tub appears to need some drain unclogging still, which may mean we have to cut into the drywall to get to pipes. add it to the list.

we're also having lots of conversations about how we're going to configure the bottom two floors. it seems that turning it into four separate apartments will increase our taxes by a large amount. so, we're currently trying to figure out how to make the duplex (bottom two floors) more self-contained, so that they don't have to use the common hallway to access the kitchen or bedroom, etc. but, we also want to figure out how to make common access to the back yard and the basement. this may be an impossible task; the place isn't that big to begin with...but we're not giving up yet.

and we've figured out that we can't get a full-size washer/dryer into the basement of the house; the available openings are all too small.

oh, and lots of neighborhood people and their kids hang out on the street at night. they've all been very friendly to us, introducing themselves, welcoming us to the 'hood. kids seem to like to sit on our stoop all of the time, and we're trying to figure out the line between being friendly and setting boundaries. i told some of them that once we have renters, they can no longer sit there. we'll see how it goes. again, they've all been very nice to us, which is great.

a mr. softee ice cream truck comes by our place every night, music playing. this makes cindy extremely happy, but means bad things for our dieting.

pictures to come soon, i promise!

Monday, June 4, 2007

we've closed, we've moved in, we've started working

wow, what a crazy week it's been! this is a short post just to chronicle a bit of what the last week has been; maybe we'll post some more in-depth stuff later.

tuesday: we closed on the house. the family who sold it brought five people along, and cut checks to each of them right there. thabo got into it with our mortgage broker for showing up with an undisclosed extra fee on our mortgage; he agreed to pay half "from his pocket." after four hours of paperwork, and forty two separate signatures, we got the keys to the house. that night, we went in to clean, and found many, many roaches on the first floor. we did some preliminary mopping, tried not to look too overwhelmed, set off bug bombs.

wednesday: we got a 20' truck, and moved two households of stuff to our new place. a TON of work. thank you to matt, shant, leigh anna, sylvia (and her friend from out of town) and the CSM crew for helping us; we wouldn't have madewn! a long day, with a break in the middle to let the exterminator in to continue waging war on the roaches. our first night in the new place...very noisy compared to the menno house back yard! the drains in the sinks and tubs barely drain.

thursday and friday: i swept and mopped out the place, threw out lots of odds and ends. we set up a temporary kitchen on the fourth floor to use for a week or two.

saturday: we tore out the kitchen in the daylight basement apt., in an attempt to get the roaches out, and it felt really good to get it cleaned out. took out the drywall behind the kitchen unit, replaced some subfloor, took up the badly laid tile. thanks to thabo's dad for driving us to home depot for supplies. check out the pics below of the roach traps (we put these down, and this is how they looked within a couple of hours). that other disgusting photo is of roach eggs and dirt...yum!

sunday: replaced the locks on the outside doors, tore up the linoleum and exposed the wood floor on the fourth floor, and dug into the plumbing issues. pictures of the plumbing nightmare to follow soon, too. lots of stoppages, including toy rockets, a plastic straw, a large cake of detergent-looking stuff, and pipe corrosion. thank goodness home depot is close enough to walk to; two trips today. at home depot, a roach crawled off of me onto the cashier counter. we got the drains working much better in two of three bathrooms.

i think we're all reeling from the adjustment to living in a construction zone. thanks to mike and katrina for coming over on saturday, and being so encouraging. we really needed it!