Friday, May 23, 2008

Day Twelve.

Dinner: At our friend Stephanie's house tonight for Shabbat dinner. Salad, fettuccine, meatballs, challah, juice. Yum.

Progress: The tile crew got the tile grouted today. It still needs a few washings -- it's a little hazy -- but it's pretty obvious that it is going to be gor-jus.

I had a little bit of a shock, when I got home.

Yup. Those are cabinets going in. These guys don't pussy-foot around. The carpenter installing the cabinets won't be back until Tuesday, but he said he'll have the rest of the cabinets in on Tuesday!

Sorry for the poor light and photo quality. I'll take a few more tomorrow or Sunday with more natural light.

Tomorrow the electrician works on an additional (oi) wiring thing -- it seems as if out breaker panel, which shows room for four more circuits, was put up to make it LOOK like there was room for four more circuits, but there really wasn't. So we have to have an entirely new breaker box put in. Oh well, it's only money. And once the circuits are in I can have more lights in the kitchen, so you'll be able to see the cabinets better.

Also tomorrow we will have the guy who does the plastering and the drywall to skim coat the ceiling and putting up the drywall in the pantry.

We aren't planning to be here much -- only to sleep, basically, so we will be able to avoid most of the dust. Little Bird and her moms are in town, so at least one evening this weekend we are having a slumber party.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day Eleven -- The Main Event

They arrived without fanfare.

They brought us a few boxes.

Then they left.

The mah jongg table, upon which we had been eating dinner, is now in the sun room. The couch is half in the sun room and half in the living room. I don't know how exactly I am going to get in to the thick of this and get to Norbert's trombone, which he needs for a Lag B'Omer talent show at school, but I will get it somehow.

There is one HUGE cabinet in the dining room. It was too damn big to move any farther. The two delivery guys couldn't get it up the last flight of stairs, so I enlisted the help of 2 of the tile guys and together the five of us got it up. It's 8 feet tall. Oi.

I felt kind of sorry for the delivery guys. We ordered the best cabinets the company made, made from solid wood, with all of the heavy upgrades. If it made the cabinets more sturdy or durable, we bought it. Damn the expense...or weight! So basically every box was like toting an oak tree up the stairs. I think I saw one of the delivery guys cry.

They really are going to be beautiful, though. Amazingly beautiful. I can't wait for next week.

Today they laid the tile in the pantry. (I can't wait to see the pantry -- and it's new mud roomlet -- after it has been drywalled!)

They cleaned the tile in the kitchen three or more times. Almost all of the haze is off. Tomorrow, all this beautiful tile will be grouted. I think Saturday will be plaster for the ceiling and some drywall stuff. Tuesday -- alas, the first time I've been disappointed by a three-day weekend -- they will start installing the cabinets.

I really miss being able to cook. So, in the name of sanity, I've been making lists in my head of the things I want to cook once my New Convection Oven (140) with its Six (Count em!) Burners is installed. I've been thinking about the first Shabbat dinner (after the house is clean).

First Shabbat Dinner

Homemade Challah
Homemade Gefilteh Fish
Chicken Soup
Potato Kugel
Steamed Cauliflower
Chicken Leg Quarters stuffed with Kishke
Pineapple Pie
Rum Raisin Pie

That's a meal to keep you sane, isn't it?

Day Eleven -- The Preview

I just couldn't wait until later to show you this. Luis and his Tile Crew have been doing a wonderful job on the floor. The pantry is tiled, and I think they are starting to grout in a few minutes. And in their spare time, they managed to do me a little, tiny favor. They cut enough tiles to line two half-sheet pans, which now gives me two brick hearth pans upon which I shall bake bread in my New Convection Oven. Did I mention I was getting a New Convection Oven? Really? Only one hundred thirty-eight times?

But seriously -- once the tiles are cleaned up, they are going to be of great use. Preheated for 30 minutes, these pans are going to give my hearth breads a crispy bottom crust and just the boost they need to really bloom in the oven. And I bet they will work with pizza, too. Woo hoo! I can't wait for that New Convection Oven to be installed. Did I mention I'm getting a New Convection Oven? Really? Only one hundred thirty-nine times?

I'm going to be insufferable, Y'all.

Day Ten

Dinner: At the home of our friends, Chuck and Leora. Pan fried tillapia fillets, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, white rice, and black beans. A little ice cream for dessert. Yum.

Progress: The kitchen floor is pretty much done. They still have a little bitty, two-inch row to do at the far end, and the pantry. Then they have to grout. Cabinets will be delivered tomorrow, which is very, very exciting.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Day Nine

Dinner: Take out from Pockets -- Me: Veggie with added jalapenos; Myfanwe: Tuna with a bit-o-feta; Norbert: Original with turkey.

Progress: Certainly enough to notice, but, after the striking progress of prior days, I am ashamed to admit I was a little bit disappointed. But progress it is -- the blue take on the tile marks "yesterday's" tile. At this rate, it's going to take the whole week to do the tile. (I'm a little bit afraid about what Thursday is going to be like -- the cabinets are to be delivered on Thursday, and it doesn't look like they are going to be able to use the back door. Oi.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Day Eight

Dinner: Norbert had dinner at Ken's Diner, a kosher restaurant in Skokie. I had to eat on the run, since I had to pick up Norbert and his friend, Tolstoy, and bring them back South. I had a quick chicken kabob with a little rice and 1/2 a pita. Myfanwe had a tuna salad.


There is progress. Maybe not as dramatic as every day last week, but it is progress. I LOVE the tile. Love it, love it, love it. I would marry it if I weren't already married. Try to picture it with grout the same color as the tile. I'm almost beside myself with happiness.

But all I have to do is cross the threshold into the dining room and my happiness goes away. I think it's because of this:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

I Feel SOOOOO Third-World.

Day Five

Dinner: Salmon fillets seasoned with Moroccan spices and garlic juice, cooked in our FlavorWave convection oven, steamed broccoli, and rice. Ice cream for Shabbat treat.

Progress: Well, this morning I was told that the tile guy was coming today, not the dry wall guys. But when I got home, this is what I found.

I don't want to seem ungrateful, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the tile guys here today! They got about half of the kitchen proper drywalled. They are coming back tomorrow morning to continue, which means that tomorrow we could have the entire kitchen and possibly the pantry and Norbert's new hallway done. That would be most excellent.

It's starting to look like a kitchen, isn't it?

They got the hole for the air conditioner framed in, so you can see where it will be. And before you e-mail me that it should have been centered on the wall, realize that it had to be moved to the left because in the corner to the right will be a cabinet that pulls out to store oils and vinegars and various and sundry liquids. We want to be able to use that puppy!

We've made it through our first (work) week of construction, and aside from the $2500 electrical surprise and the dirt and dust and inconvenience and washing dishes in the tub and having to go into 4 different rooms to gather the necessities for making salmon, it hasn't been too bad.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Day Four

Dinner: Thai delivery. I had basil chicken, Myfanwe had Thai mixed vegetables, and Norbert had Pad Sei Ew.

Progress: Well, technically the first picture was from Day Three, but I took it this morning. There was no electricity in the room, and I thought the morning sunlight was beautiful.

As expected, today saw noticeable progress. The underlayment for the floor is, as promised, laid and secured.

Please note the board nailed up under the window. This covers the big hole they cut through the 18-inch thick brick wall to hold our air conditioner. This is, as they say in the home decorating biz, "A Good Thing".

The back door doesn't look great. I still have to buy new hardware, and it will be sanded and painted the same color as the trip. I hope next year to have a new, custom made door made to fit. One that doesn't have that stupid 70's diamond window in it. But that will have to wait until the budget allows.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but this is another hole in the exterior wall. It will hold both the 6" exhaust pipe from the stove hood and the 4" vent for the dryer. All contained in a soffit half the size of the old one, which allowed us to go with 42" cabinets. I am really excited about having all this new storage space! (Especially since we gave up our storage room, i.e. Norbert's bathroom, to create his tween's suite.)


I spent my lunch hour yesterday with the knitting group at work. I've been so busy for the last several months that I haven't been able to get there. I haven't been knitting at home much the last four weeks -- moving out of the kitchen and planning and designing was a lot of work. And now it is so dusty, I don't even want to bring my knitting into the house. Too much dust. So spending an hour knitting on Little Bird's sweater was a real treat.

Speaking of Little Bird, she's coming to town for a visit over Memorial Day weekend. I'll try to remember to take some pictures, but for now, these recent pics of Little Bird and her moms, George and Maxine, will have to suffice.

Have a great day, dear friends. Check back tomorrow for more construction updates. The DRYWALL crew is supposed to be in!

Day Three

Dinner: Veggie burgers, cooked in our FlavorWave countertop convection oven, purchased by my mother from late-night television. Saffron rice. Steamed broccoli.

Progress: No pictures, because most of the progress wasn't photogenic. Yesterday we got a couple new doors? Today we got one less...the old door to Norbert's bedroom, which is now no longer necessary, since he now has a suite. They managed to take the header and wall above the door out, as well, which makes the space look a lot bigger.

The electrical re-wiring continued, as did installation of recessed lighting.

What is on the scedule for Thursday? Who knows! I do know that they are planning to lay the underlayment for the tile floor, which sounds exciting. Underlayment is just one step away from tile, right? And tile is just one small step from walls and cabinets and counters, right? I know, it doesn't work that way. The cabinets aren't delivered until the 22nd, anyway. But a man can dream.

Oh -- they are planning to take the doors off the refrigerator and move it out of the kitchen. That means they are almost done, right? Please! Throw me a bone! Any kind of encouraging word!

I sent an e-mail to my closest friends apologizing for my previous Pollyanna attitude, and begging forgivement for every glib "Oh, a little dirt isn't going to take ME down!" in response to their insistance that the dirt would make me crazy. I also pleaded with them to invite us for a warm, dust-free dinner. So far we are booked Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, so it worked our pretty well. And not one of them said "I told you so." I have really exceptional friends.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Day Two

Dinner: Salads at McDonald's. (I had a grilled Asian chicken salad with low-fat ginger dressing -- 8 Weight Watcher points.) Myfanwe had a Southwest grilled chicken salad and Norbert had a grilled Caesar salad. All delicious, and all dust-free.

Kitchen progress:

They pulled up the sub-floor, which must have been pretty intense. They got the plumbing run, including the line under the flooring to behind where the refrigerator will be FOR THE ICE MAKER!

They also gave us doors. Two, to be exact. OK, maybe they only gave us 1 doorway and expanded a previously existing one, but we thought it was dramatic progress.

This is the new doorway to Norbert's suite. He's in the old maid's bedroom, which was off the kitchen, but we are walling that hall off and making it kitchen, and this was punched through from our dining room to give access to Norbert's bed and bath. We found a gorgeous door at Salvage One that matches a few of our other doors perfectly in style, except that it is heavier and thicker. It will be beautiful.

Now this doorway had always been here -- it's the doorway to our pantry. It used to have a little door on it which opened in, precluding the use of a great deal of the pantry. We took it off years ago. We had the contractor tear out the wall above the door and all of the trim, widening the doorway and making the pantry much more accessible. Plus, with the pantry window now visible, it will bring a little more light into the kitchen. We are very happy with this!

Now pay attention, Boys and Girls and Others...this is something they don't teach you in school. Apparently -- and I have this on very good authority -- 80-year-old wiring is bad. Very bad. 80-year-old wiring looks like this:
Notice the cloth wrapping. Apparently, that is very, very bad.

New wiring is very good. It is also very expensive. Very, very expensive. New wiring looks like this:
Notice there are no cloth insulators anywhere on this wire. That is very, very, very good.

We have made it through 2 days of this never-ending nightmare. I don't know how I will survive. I feel dirty all the time. That is probably because one can actually gather a layer of dust while sleeping. Everything is dirty. Everything. Mitzi is actually the clean thing in the house, and she smells undeniably of kennel. I poured cereal this morning which let off a cloud of dust.

I'm going to have to end up doing a major cleaning myself. I'm afraid my cleaning lady will quit if I ask her to help with this mess. And I really need her.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Day One.

Dinner: Gardenburger Riblets on whole wheat buns with red onion and a mixed green salad with tomatoes and spicy French dressing.


Like the old song says, "What a difference a day makes."

Or, for a slightly different perspective, the view from the back door:

(I know what you are thinking. Right now there's a voice in your head shouting loudly "I LOVE what you've done with the place!" It sounds a lot like Paul Lynd. Early, before the booze and pills. The same voice often occupies my head.)

The contractor made a great discovery in the pantry. This is what it looked like before:

As they were demolishing the pantry they discovered this:

This is a remnant of the old ice box. Remember, this apartment was built before electricity. And long before refrigeration. We are absolutely ecstatic...we are asking the contractor to drywall the alcove and we plan to put coat hooks into the "top". I also figure I'll find a metal worker who can make me a galvanized metal tray for the floor where we can put our shoes in the winter! Our own little mud room-let!

Also found behind the counters was a picture of a lovely woman taken at a fancy dress ball of some kind on March 18, 1972. I'm going to keep it and treasure it. When I figure out how to scan the picture, I'll post it so you all can see it.

The workers also found a half a book of 32-cent stamps. When were stamps 32-cents?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I spent a lovely evening last week with Sweet Alice and her BoyToy, Kilt Boy, visiting the Windy City from Toronto. They are both lovely young people, quite passionate about their academic fields of study, and quite pleasant company. We ate a bit, had a few lattes and au laits, and more than a few laughs. Alice was knitting on a pair of Brenda Dayne socks, and I was working on a sweater for Little Bird. I was really impressed with their English -- as the third wheel, I was a little bit afraid they would spend the whole evening speaking to each other in Canadian, making comments on my weight, my hair, or my advanced age. But no, they were absolutely wonderful company, and never once resorted to talking Canadian. I was impressed!

[Note: I just heard that, since returning to Toronto, Sweet Alice and Tristan (aka Kilt Boy) have not had a good week. Alice has been sick, and Tristan's grandmother passed away. They are both in my thoughts and prayers.]

The beautiful Buddha cookie jar has sold. I am sad, but I also know that I am an incredibly lucky man, and my life is still incredible.

Posts may be a bit more sparse than usual, as so many things seems to be joining forces to see if I can't be separated from what little sanity I still can claim. I'm still busy at work, but I caught a case today that will keep my very, very least through the summer.

Plus, the kitchen rehab begins TOMORROW!

I can't believe it. We are squeaking in under the wire with preparations, but we are going to make it. I'm excited again. (I don't know how excited I will be after a month of Subway sandwiches and McDonald's Asian Salads, so ask me in a few weeks!)

One of the most satisfying parts of packing the kitchen has been what I refer to as Fun With The Floor. Our kitchen floor was put down 35+ years ago before the apartment was converted from rental to condominium. And even as rental units go, the owner put in crap. Crappity crap crap. The cabinets are cardboard. (No shit. Really. 2 pieces of crap laminate over cardboard.) The floor, if you can believe it, was peal and stick vinyl tile. Over the ten years we have lived here we have tried several different things to keep them in place. We have stapled. We have nailed. We have used construction adhesive. And we have on more than on occasion used prayer. But since we inked the bid from the contractor, we've been having Fun With The Floor -- every time a tile came off, we threw it out! Isn't that revolutionary! And as we emptied a drawer, we threw it out! When a cabinet was empty? We took the door off and threw the futhermocker away! I
can't tell you how liberating it was.

This is what it looks like now, on the eve of construction. please note, the only tiles still on the floor are the ones stuck down with construction adhesive.

The big black thing under the window used to be IN the window. It held the air conditioner. The contractor is going to punch a whole through the wall beneath the window and put the AC through there. Which means we can have the original window in, which means a LOT more light. (It also means I can't make coffee in the morning without remembering to put on my robe, which totally robs me of the Josh Lucas effect I usually try to project. It's hard to look like anyone but Rob Petrie when you are wearing a plaid cotton robe.)

I'll try to post pics of the progress. Though I expect I will spend a lot of time sitting on the edge of my bed, rocking forwards and backwards, muttering, "ohmydog, ohmydog, ohmydog ohmydog".

Put some positive energy out into the universe for me, please. If I can swing this rehab with $800 left over at the end, I will be able to afford a new refrigerator, as well. (A pretty, shiny, energy-efficient one with an ice maker!) But only if I have $800 left over at the end. (We got a $1,000 Home Depot gift card for purchasing our cabinets! So all I have to have is the balance!) Wish me luck!