news from the homefront

So, we’ve survived the holidaze, and the fella is taking the week off work to get to work on the many millions of projects that stand between us and a warm, safe, and comfortable home. We spent the first half of new year’s eve (once I got home from work) up and down ladders, me tacking up tiny little spacer blocks of wood to the underside of our roof deck with a brad nailer, and he cutting and fitting foil-faced foam board (individually measuring and cutting each one as of course the rafter spacing in our 130 year old house varies from 19″ and 22″ and change on center. The dog was much distressed, as she believes one of her missions in life is to protect me from pneumatically-driven tools (she views these as very dangerous, and I’m often inclined to share her view, especially as they are plastered with “caution! improper operation could result in severe injury or death!” warnings)… when the fella or his dad is working with them, she will ignore them all day until I get home, then get between me and the tools and bark most ferociously… “Lady! There is danger! Dog is on the case!” The fact that I was now wielding the fearsome object was a little much for dog-brain to process, and she did a lot of pacing, at least until we packed it up, ate a cheap frozen pizza (rehab will make you do terrible things), and went to the studio to change clothes and ride two miles north to our friend’s new year’s eve party. We usually lay low on New Year’s, stay off the roads, order massive amounts of chinese food, hang out with other folks at the studio doing the same, and set off some fireworks in the hallways at midnight. This year we decided to mix it up a bit, especially as we’d just ordered chinese for christmas eve and had plans at the studio for new year’s day… and while it was tempting to skip the whole production and just keep plugging away at the project, it was probably a very good idea to go out and pretend like we had a normal life for once.

The insulation project, much delayed, is progressing… after three months of waiting for the appropriate truck to borrow, the fella actually called the insulation warehouse our friend recommended, only to find they’ve been out of the 3″ sheets for almost a year- the factory that used to supply them closed. Soooo… we re-bought the thin foil-faced sheets that we’d returned to Menard’s back in October, found the craigslist guy who we bought our first load of 1.5″ factory-seconds sheets from again, and now have 150 or so sheets of foam in three stacks in our house, two of which are floor to ceiling on the first floor, right next to the woodstove, making it inoperable until we get some more work knocked out and at least one of those stacks upstairs. We came home a few nights ago to an almost frozen kitchen faucet and icebergs in the sink… and the fella went straight downstairs and LIT THE FURNACE.

Those who know the fella know what a big deal this is. The only time he’s ever willingly heated his living quarters with fossil fuel was when he shared a house with a friend and had to, though they kept the thermostat as low as his roommate’s thin-coated dog could stand. Friends of ours, who are hardy, ride-their-bikes-through-the-winter types, tell stories about leaving winter parties at the fella’s first apartment because everyone was sitting around with their coats on and just got too cold. I know, where’d I find this guy? The first winter I spent at our studio I’d go sit in the fermentation closet with the beer, where there was a tiny space heater on a temp. controller to keep it at a happy 65 degrees, and I’d curl up on a shelf with a book and a blanket and a mug of cocoa to thaw my bones. I’ve grown hardier since, wear a lot more wool, and 52 seems positively toasty compared to the 33-49 degree mark our house has been at. It’s warmer by the fire, of course… so that fact that it’s been in the low 50’s in our house this week is something to celebrate (though I still sleep with my hat on). I won’t be celebrating when I open our gas bill (since if you add up all the openings, gaps, and leaks in our second floor envelope you’d probably have a hole big enough to ride a bike through, if not to drive in with the monster truck). I’m trying not to remind the fella too much that we could have been done with this part at least a month or two ago if we’d just proceeded with the original plan (exactly what we’re now doing) and saved ourselves a month or two of misery. But since he’s currently in bed feeling sick because he cut foam for two days while his respirator hung on the wall by the back stairs, I’m trying not to do too much “if only-ing”, because he already knows. Our biggest challenge now will be getting it warm enough up there for the caulk to cure… hopefully once the whole roof has the first layer of insulation it will be warmer, and we’re supposed to get a 50 degree day next week… so if we time it right, and fire up the woodstove with the furnace going, we should be golden?

Speaking of golden, we thought we had found our first floor bathroom tile, at a steep discount (we have the floor tile for the second floor- white ceramic hexagonal mosaic acquired on craigslist, surplus from the installer who did John Cusack’s bathroom remodel. Yes, we have John Cusack’s leftover tile for our master bath. Booya, ladies!) but I don’t think it’s going to work out as the fella has this thing about practicality. I did some extensive googling while looking for ways to win the not-quite-an-argument with him over marble mosaic tile vs. quarry tile for our bathroom. Yes, quarry tile, which until now I had been ok with (grey not red)… so practical! Affordable! And easy to clean! And the fellow, he is a little rough on surfaces and lax with cleaning, especially the kind of cleaning that needs kid gloves and gentle chemicals and probably a toothbrush… he’s more of a, “lets get stainless laboratory cabinets for the kitchen with acid-resistant counters, put a urinal and a floor drain in the bathroom and we can just hose everything down with bleach or caustic when it needs it” practical kinda guy. So he’s probably right, and he would murder the marble… but he saw the marble first, and liked it, and then showed it to me and it was on sale and we put a hold on it… and I pictured our amazing future bathroom and imagined showering in it and how impressive and gorgeous and serene it would be, and suddenly NOTHING ELSE WOULD DO and the quarry tile would look exactly like a McDonalds, which is how I was feeling when he called from the material store, ready to pick up our pallet of golden-hued spa luxury but for his cold feet, and his friend’s impromptu iphone research, and we weren’t getting the tile after all.

Sigh. Back to the drawing board, and hanging insulation, and trying not to step through the hole(s) in the floor on the way to the coffeepot in the morning… and reminding myself that we WILL be done someday and we’ll appreciate it so much more for having been through this. Last night we were sitting and chatting with a friend at the studio, and he commented how rich he felt, something to the effect of, “we own a house down the street, we get to hang out here, drinking beer from a tap, and I have a gorgeous girlfriend… We have a saltwater aquarium we never even look at and a great dog all of this stuff and we’re warm and everything is so great, and next year maybe we’ll have a house we can live in and everything will be different but still good…”. I admire the power of his positive thinking, though sometimes I have a hard time being as optimistic while we’re slogging through the details. But someday, someday, someday soon… we’ll get there, or closer.

Apologies for the lack of photos lately, and for the promised-but-never-posted pictures of the artful brew day. My camera remains broken, and the fella just lost his or it was stolen from his office… with all the pictures on it. Urgh. I know. Hopefully it will turn up, but I fear the worst… a new camera is on the list, right after a new-old laptop. I’ve been limping along with an old desktop for awhile, but it’s technically the fellas so I haven’t put all my files on it, and am ordering a refurbished older-but-newer-than-the-x31-that-died thinkpad this weekend, installing Ubuntu, and pretending this laptoplessness never happened. Can’t wait.

Leave a Reply