House – Got the Jimmy Legs


Tiptoe through the window

Note to self: If I'm ever forced to become a housekeeper (getting increasingly likely), I'll have to be the type that 'doesn't do windows.' I never really understood that until I started a floor-to-ceiling cleaning of the house. Washing windows sucks. It appears that the nearby oak tree has been spritzing the windows with sap (at least I hope that's what this is), coating them with this sticky film on which regular cleaners have no effect. Even the windows that are just 'regular' dirty rarely come out looking fully transparent; years of sloppy paint work has left little drips on the glass, not to mention the inevitable streaking and whatnot that goes with the territory. The result is a window that is slightly clearer than it was before, but I sure wouldn't pay for it. What do we expect, magic? I have a newfound respect for the window-washing industry.

Empire building

I can't believe how hard a time we're having in finding a home for Spike, the white Angora cat we took in a little while ago. We keep getting weirdos who string us along for weeks and then disappear right at the moment they're supposed to come meet him in person. I keep thinking it's one person who keeps using different email addresses, but unless they're spoofing IP addresses all over the city, it's separate individuals. Super lame. I think people think they will respond to an adoption ad and then, minutes later, go to an undisclosed location to pick up their briefcase full of kitty. Come on, people, we've got to at least attempt to establish some background before handing out cats. Oh well, try, try again.

I wouldn't mind so much but you see, we're all full up with cats. I know I've said it before but summer hasn't even begun and we've got cats everywhere. Two of the back yard cats who were presumed to be feral have turned out to be more tame and friendly than the indoors cats! So we gotta find them homes as well.

And then there's Haley, a young cat we trapped a little while ago. We'd never seen her before the night she turned up in the trap. She also turned out to be very friendly, but was skin and bones and sporting a hugely infected abscess which manifested itself as a big hole on her shoulder. She recovered from her injuries at Empty Cages Collective, and once she was well enough, we brought her back home to finish her convalescence. She still needs to be vaccinated and spayed so she's kept separate from the other cats. It looks like we'll have to wait until the end of the month to get her spayed; we could get fixed sooner but it would require getting her ear tipped. And I don't wanna do that anymore if at all possible, not for tame, adoptable cats.

Meanwhile I have been having a helluva time getting this guy to come out and give me an estimate on replacing our back door, but he finally made it over yesterday (2 hours late). We're also probably putting a fence in, and THAT guy has been giving me the runaround for weeks. This is not even mentioning the first fence guy who came over, duly measured the yard and discussed options, only to never ever call me back with an estimate. What's up with that? So I called Skilled Fencing they are a lot more professional and came out and installed the new fence. In an effort to bridge all my problems, I am in the process of teaching the cats to build a fence and replace a door. Results have been mixed so far, they have a lot of energy but I'm having trouble finding tools small enough for them to hold.

I'll be back when I have something interesting to report!

If you can put your hands upon it, IT'S MINE

I think I need to hire somebody else to clean out my basement. Not because I mind the work, that's no big deal. But I get caught up in looking at all the junk and coming up with reasons NOT to throw it away. Piles of garbage, boxes full of bric-a-brac, I know we need the space and the stuff therein is worthless (as evidenced by the fact that it hasn't moved since we got here). What could I possibly have in all these boxes that I would want to keep? I should throw it all out!

But then, I start looking at the stuff … and the brain starts coming up with reasons I need to keep it. A blister pack of small wheels, oh yeah, I need that. I'll put them on the coffee table to make it easier to sweep under it. A door chain lock, I better keep that in case those fake ConEd people start coming around. The 'smokeless' ashtray, it's such a good idea, even though you basically have to strap the thing to your chin for it to do any good. The toggle-nut bolts, the extra-small screws, the picture hanging kit … I never use them but I have to have them at all times! The half-empty tubes of caulk or pails of grout, who knows when I may need them? Can you imagine how pissed I'll be next time I'm caulking and I run out and all I need is just a little bit more …

I know the logic is flawed in there somewhere, but I can't find the fissure when I'm down in the cellar up to my knees in detritus. So I think I need to hire somebody who will just go down and be able to say, "Okay, this stuff is necessary, tools, sandpaper, tire pump. But this collection of broken picture frames you 'plan' to repair, toss it." It sounds so simple but I don't know if I can be trusted to sort it out on my own. Realistically, the Sorter would have to remove the offending items as well, I'm sure I would second guess when his back was turned and pocket some empty Lysol cans and pipe joint compound. I need I need!

I look at the floor and now I don't see you anymore

Ready to pull up the floorThe last two weeks were supposed to be a vacation but at some point we decided we would be doing some of our long-ignored home improvement projects. Originally we intended to replace the kitchen and hallway floors with new hardwood flooring. But in making the preparations for this, we realized that underneath the plywood floor (which we had painted 2 years before) there existed a totally viable hardwood floor! Once we determined this floor was in good enough shape to use, we abandoned the new-floor idea and set up to refinish. We are having professionals from, come and help remodel our kitchen.
Some old tilesTo get there, however, we first had to knock a bunch of plaster off the fireplace and remove the brick hearth form the front. Once we did this, we realized he had to remove the walls on either side of the fireplace since it stopped a few inches before the brick started. Meanwhile, the hallway needed to have its ugly tile removed.

Kitchen FloorThe hallway isn't much space but all of it was covered in linoleum tile. Jeannie took most of it off without much trouble before realizing there was ANOTHER layer of tile below it. This layer had been applied with so much adhesive it was literally pouring off the edges of the tile; the paste never really dried and was reminiscent of a quarter inch of the gunk they put on flypaper. Hallway sandedJeannie's sister came over to help and spent basically 24 hours chipping away at it. After much effort and injury on the part of the Purvis sisters, the tile was finally banished. The plywood lifted up relatively easily, leaving us with the pine subfloor (which was actually in pretty good condition). If that second layer of tile hadn't been there, we could have had the project wrapped up with a few days to relax afterwards. Instead we spent Friday to Sunday in refinishing hell. Friday we sanded, Saturday we stained, then Sunday we put 4 coats of polyurethane down. I guess it's good we did it so rapidly, if only because the cats were getting antsy being locked up in the bedroom for three days.

Hallway FinishedThere's still a lot of work to do, but at least the floors are done. Of course, most people will tell you to do the floors last, since crap will invariably fall on it during other projects. But considering how much time the floor took, we didn't have much choice, we'll just have to be thorough with the dropcloths and whatever other prophylactic devices we must employ to protect our nice new floors! Kitchen floor sanded (plus Marbles)

Other upcoming projects include: painting the walls revealed around the fireplace, fixing the brickwork I broke on the fireplace, painting the kitchen walls because they're nasty, placing/replacing quarter-round molding and doorway thresholds to cover up shoddy edge work on the floor, and painting the banister because there's too much damn paint on it and it's too banged-up to bother getting it professionally done so we're just painting it dark brown and hoping in dim light it might look like finished wood. Also planning on getting a Top Master locksmith to come and replace the outside door handles since the current ones are starting to look rusty. Otherwise should go visit Access Locksmiths. Fun Times Accomplished!

Kitchen floor by you.

The house is an ancient tomb: be warned

So much stuff is going on, and all I want to do i lie around on the couch. No such luck, however, as the Holidays are upon us.

I gotta remember to take a picture of our Xmas lights, it's so lame. Rite Aid has a sale on lights so I bought a couple strings and put them around the perimeter of the windows on the ground floor. They're white lights too so they don't even look all that festive; it looks like a dressing room mirror. Oh well, I'm a Jew, your traditions are 'strange' and 'frightening' to me.

Great upheaval includes the departure of our tenants. Yep, they moved up to Greenpoint yesterday, piano and all! Incredibly, we were able to sleep through most of the actual move, except when one of the movers loudly bet another that he'd pay him a hundred bucks to ride Buzz's bike down the stairs. Without going into it too much, they decided to move due to some safety issues, for which I totally don't fault them. We knew going into it that Bushwick is not exactly the safest place on earth, and I always felt a little bad that we sort of dragged them here in the first place. Still, they got a darned cheap rent for a duplex apartment! But money isn't everything and now they're in a neighborhood that's not only one of the safest in town, but is full of those amenities that everybody normally aspires to: grocery stores, restaurants, book/record stores, and an Irish pub right across the street. Damn, I could use one of those!

That's what sucks about home ownership; we're stuck here. Eventually this might turn into an advantage, say, if the neighborhood gets all fancy around us and we make a killing in real estate. Of course, the way things are going, this doesn't look too likely in the foreseeable future (for instance, all eyes were on the local corner property that was about to open, as a litmus test of the area; it opened as a wig store.) But I still like the house and, barring any personal violence I might endure, I'm okay with the neighborhood. But what are we gonna do with this house?

For the time being we are going to see if we can afford the whole joint without rental income. This comes mostly because the house, as it is set up, is unworkable for a rental to any but those we can wholeheartedly trust (and of course, my motto is: Trust No One). It's a legal 2-family, but there's no actual division between the units. To divide the house properly would take quite an undertaking at this point, and honestly wasn't something I was planning to do for a while. But if push comes to shove we'll have to jumpstart the renovations. Assuming we win the lottery, no problem!

Having the house to ourselves at this point has another big advantage: we have people coming for Christmas. Jeannie's mom and nephew are coming up for the Holidays, so they will be camping out on separate floors, on their respective futons (futons currently make up 50% of our furniture now, classy!) We certainly won't feel crowded. Now the problem is, what do we do with a 13 year old kid?

The nephew looks like he's in his 20's, he's 6 feet tall and otherwise precocious, so he's pretty flexible. But the law is not. So we can't just blithely take him to shows and bars as we would do with, say, Jeannie's mom. We're trying to figure out what a kid from St. Thomas would want to do in the city, but we're coming up short. Worse still, Todd P, purveyor of all ages shows, just announced he's cutting back on his bookings, meaning shows we could get a kid into will be in short supply. Argh.

I dunno, if I was a kid raised in the Caribbean, NYC in the winter sounds like Siberia. Hell, now that I've visited the Caribbean, NYC feels like a gulag to me too. Don't get me wrong, I love it here, but I just don't wanna have to leave the house. Aside from the requisite tours, museums, restaurants, what do kids do here? Should we give him some spray paint or what?