Thursday, March 29, 2012


We're going on vacation tomorrow for a couple weeks, sans laptops, so if I am able to post anything before we get back it'd be from a Blackberry, and therefore pictureless.  So... I figured before I left I would leave you all with a picture of the National Park Seminary Ballroom, which is just steps from the house.  It's a gorgeous five-story room with original chandeliers, original statuary, and an original sound system by the Victrola Corporation, as well as condos whose front doors open into it.  Several condos are directly underneath, which severely restricts how much dancing there can be on the dance floor, but mark Abby's words: our children will be married in this room.  And you know Abby ain't no liar.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Wahls Have (Framed) Walls

What a difference a bunch of 2x4s makes.  When Rory told us they framed the walls in the basement this week, I didn't know what I would think when I got downstairs.  My own bedroom is so small upstairs, but one of the rooms I was the most afraid of, size-wise, was the family room downstairs.  Especially since almost all the downstairs windows are segregated into the kids' rooms, I was imagining a narrow, dark tunnel with staircases at either end.  Well, that's not how it turned out.  Standing in what is now a well-defined family room, complete with 9-foot ceilings, I'm really happy at its size.  There's plenty of room for kid stuff, for tv-watching, and for Anyu's piano, whenever it gets down here.  (I'm a bit disappointed with the size of the kids' rooms, actually, but I think it's because I didn't picture well exactly where the dividing walls would be.  Both kids have spacious closets, but their rooms are not huge, and I'm already hearing protestation from 12-year-old Lola ten years from now.  Abby disagrees, and says the walls are exactly where they should be, so she wins.)
The newly-walled family room, with Isaac's room on the far left.
Next up is what I feel the most important find of the day was.  Walking into the house, first thing I walked up the steps and turned right, expecting to see the remnant of great-room wall above the bathroom cutout still there.  But it's gone!  I grinned like a little kid with a lollipop for about five minutes over that one, because I'd been waiting for that final piece of the great-room ceiling to open up since the day we closed on the place.  No sooner did I express my joy at this bit of demo than I turned to find Abby with that "I'm reworking things in my head" look we all know and love.  Uh oh, what's up?  Apparently she didn't realize what I meant by "that last piece of great-room wall that needed to come down," and in her head the part going up to the ceiling was staying.  Woman!  How many times do I have to tell you this was the most important part of the room to come down?!  No matter, though, because by the end she was thinking of places she could shop for an appropriate piece of art to go in the space.  See?  I get what I want, and she gets to go antiquing on a random girls' weekend with her mom.  We all win.
The box around the bathroom may look wonky, but it will be echoed on the other side with my bedroom closet, and  it opens up the ceiling and reveals the faux railing we didn't know was there originally.  It's a win win win win win, if you ask me!
Next up, that tiny little bedroom I talked about earlier.  You know, the one everyone thinks we're crazy for doing.  Well, first off, if Abby wasn't sold on it before (and she was), she is now, considering our (her!) immense closet is now in.  (You'd see a picture of it, except the one I took turned out really bad, so just imagine a great big closet with Lola and Abby smiling...)  With the closet framed out, we can now see exactly how much room we're going to have in the bedroom, as opposed to just doing what we had been doing up to this point-- measuring off the area in our current bedroom and making sure we can live with the space.  So I took a broom and swept the dust out of an area the size of our bed, just so we could see exactly how much space we were dealing with.  I think it's perfectly fine.  Yeah, it's not vast plains of openness or anything, but we're not going to be banging into things-- especially since Abby's grandpa's armoire will no longer grace the bedroom (hooray!).  See for yourselves:
We're left with a decent area to walk around the bed, as evidenced by the sawdust lines.
Also notice the frame of the closet in the far left; the closet stretches across the entire length (9') of the room.
Finally, I have to mention again how cool it is to have other people doing the work for us.  I feel so entirely spoiled to have so much (although not all) of the badgering and tooth gnashing of the project foisted onto someone else's lap.  I can just show up and-- surprise! -- work has been done.  Even before we got into the house, we could see progress when we drove in to find the entire bottom row of windows in the back of the house were frameless.  I guess they've been taken to the window restoration people for a first look at how that whole process is gonna work.  Additionally, the countertop in the kitchen has begun to be framed, and we can now see exactly how much of the kitchen windows (exactly one pane per window) will be blocked out by our need for storage-- and we're perfectly okay with it.  I'm very much looking forward to more of having other people do stuff for me... it's just such a foreign concept that I'll probably mention it about every other post from here on out!
Bottom window frames were taken out for restoration.
Notice the framing in the kids' bedrooms on the bottom floor.
Also notice the framing across the bottom of the six windows at top right (in the kitchen).

Close-up of the removed window frames

Comparing windows: our room vs. Isaac's

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's Electric! (Boogie Oogie Oogie)

(Unless we can't find your address in our computers.)
So Mark and Rory asked me before I left for my trip if I could call the electric company and have them start service, that way they could not only hook everything up, but use the electricity to do stuff, I gather.  First off, I had to find out which electric company served the area.  Bad news: PEPCO.  They're our current electric company, and although I really have no problems with them in terms of delivery of electricity (unlike nearly everyone else in the DC Metro area), I have been attempting to get them to finalize our electricity upgrade at our current house since we bought the place back in 2003.  No joke: our front yard is currently torn up (after finally getting stuff to grow!) so they can put in our meter, and last month we had to literally rip the cast-iron porch railing out of the wall so they could make sure the meter box didn't cross an inch over onto our neighbor's property.  This, after them wanting to put a giant double-stack smack-dab in the middle of our postage-stamp front yard.  I know Miss Thea White at PEPCO very well by now, having called her multitudes of times over the past several years.

Unfortunately, Miss Thea White is the person you deal with when you have problems with PEPCO in your house in DC; there's an entirely different department for Maryland.  So I go online to find out who to call and, voila, there's a link that lets you register new service online!  Excellent.  Did it from England, got a confirmation email, all good.  Or so I thought.  The next day, I get another automated email saying they can't find my address, so maybe I'm just wrong that they're my provider, and thank you have a nice day.  Argh.  So I responded, thereby creating a new work order.  Okay, so maybe my response was snarky, but there are only so many ways you can say "um, yes, the house I currently pay nearly $3000 a month in mortgage for does actually exist."  No response from PEPCO.

So once I was back in the States, I called and found out the phone number for the Rockville service office.  Gave 'em a call and left messages, but have yet to talk to a real person.  This morning I get to work and I have a message on my voicemail... from PEPCO!  But the message is "hi, this is PEPCO, please call me back."  Argh.  Called several times today, no person, so I didn't leave a message.  Finally at 4pm I called and left as saccharine a message I could, noting it wouldn't do either of us any good to be playing phone tag; maybe they could just tell me in a reply voicemail exactly what I needed to do to show them the house actually existed, and we could get things going by phone tag.  (I also mentioned, very nicely, that they could Google Map the address and find it quite easily.  Hope that wasn't going too far.)

My big fear here is that the contractors will be slowed from their much-appreciated pace by PEPCO's notorious foot dragging.  If I have to drive one of their guys out to the house myself I will, if it means I can get electricity!

"The Pretty Toilet"
As for other utilities, even though we're not going to have a water hookup for several months, I had to pay the water bill this year.  The water is done all together with the whole neighborhood, which is weird.  What a way to totally discourage efficient use of water.  I was even torn between two different toilet models-- one that was pretty, and one that was normal but had dual-flush technology so you could use less water when you peed-- but decided to go for the prettier, more expensive one (which is also a water saver, but just without dual flush) because I knew no matter what I did it would cost the same.  (Shh... don't make me give up my tree-hugger creds!)  Regardless, $750 a year for water and sewer service; it's about what we pay here, but we don't have to pay it up front.  $60 or so a month just feels a lot better than a whole big chunk of change, just for water!  (I also had to explain to Isaac today that, yes, we pay for water.  His response?  "How do they do that?")


Finished the game of phone tag with PEPCO this morning (Friday 3/16)!  A guy named Scott said that it won't be as simple as turning on new service, since the house has never had its own meter before.  (That's why the computers didn't recognize the address.)  We have to submit plans to them first, which Rory's going to do next week.  Better still, Scott gave me his email address, so no more phone tag; Excellent!  Scott asked us to find out whether the windmill has a meter, to see if he can tell how they went about things and mirror it for us; if anyone out there would be so kind as to find out if they have one, and what it's number is (located below the bar code), we'd be much obliged!  

So at least we do have a little progress before the end of the week.  Rory was on vacation this week, but is back now, so we'll be getting a schedule soon for the next bunch of projects.  Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Porch Roof Work

Thought you might like to know that now, if you are ringing our doorbell at the bungalow, and it is raining out, you can safely put away your umbrella.
BEFORE: Looking up THROUGH the porch roof

AFTER (or at least DURING): Looking up AT the porch roof!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Roof Work

From stained and gray to shiny and silver to brown and orderly, the roof is more than half done now.  Here are a couple pics of how the roof looks as of our trip up to the house tonight-- my first since they began work up top.

The windows are boarded up to make sure the latticework isn't broken during construction.

A close-up of the dormer.  The shingles turned out to be a bit browner
than we had thought they would be, but no biggie.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tale of Two Foundations

The first-floor flooring has been removed, because it was in such bad shape.  What was found underneath was half concrete slab (under the kids' rooms) and half plain-old dirt foundation.  Just about what we'd thought.  Here are pics of the first floor, well, naked.
First floor, towards the front of the house, with dirt foundation.

First floor, towards the back of the house, with concrete slab.
Taken from Isaac's room looking into Lola's.