Sunday, September 18, 2005

Weekend Blunders & Wonders:

Sorry for the inordinately late post -- some home renovations going down. We've been (a) moving (the last of Dan's stuff to his new apt.) and (b) building (the new office/library room) all day, among other things.

My stepson Mike Bleier and his good friend Chad are sawing and hammering away as I type this, finishing up the outside work. Once that's done, they're moving inside in hopes of tackling the electrical wiring and prep for the heating (to be done by another contractor, Rick's Heating). The interior framing is done at last.

It's been a long haul, as this room was supposed to be done last summer, but Marj and I were stiffed by the contractor who took on the gig. Since spring, we've been seeing it through piece-by-piece, working with a procession of contractors with Mike and Chad handling the key labor since the cement floor was poured in May/June, the mason work completed, and the outside walls insulated and parged. My previous, fleeting experience of working with a roofer (in my pre-Kubert School summer) came in handy when it came time to slap on the tar-like waterproofing sealant... amazing how quickly the proper rhythm of slapping that tar on to cement came back to me, wrapping up all but the touchup work in one afternoon. I enjoyed the parging process (a cement-like water and weatherproofing material that adheres to the foamboard insulation, once its wire-brushed to provide a 'tooth' surface), which took a couple of days and some touchup, after which Bob Anderson and his crew (thanks, guys!) came in and repaired the yard and reconstructed our stone front walk and steps up to the front door. The most intensive labor that had to precede all this was completed by my son Dan and his bud Andy, who took on the thankless (but well-paid) task of shoveling out the crushed rock surrounding the foundation down to the cement footing -- a full eight feet down for much of the area. That was completed in late June in a mere two-three days, and it's all been slow-but-steady progress since then.

The decision to go ahead with all this was prompted by a 36-hour overnight trip in March of 2004, when Marj and I returned home to find the front door of the house wide open. Turns out it could not be closed; the entryway was part of an extension that had added to the house prior to our purchase of the property, an extension sans foundation. No, we weren't The House of Usher, sinking into some tarn: the extension had been literally picked up by the frost, leaving the walls fissured, three door frames akimbo and the doors uncloseable.

So, the necessity of building a proper foundation led to my master plan (conceived in 2002 when we moved in here) to turn the needed foundation area into a narrow but functional room that would extend my claustrophobic downstairs office/writing area into a library and computer studio. My two work areas (downstairs office/writing area, attic drawing studio) have become mortifying and dangerously unmanageable packrat nests, and I have yet to draw in my drawing studio -- I can't get to my board! My inability to enter the brave new computer age has been forever hampered by the lack of a dedicated area for anything but a tiny writing space. Once this new office/library is completed (November) and I've purchased a proper scanner, it'll be a whole new era.

So, back to work -- and a proper post in the AM.

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