Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Almost A Go

Well, what do you know: we got a green sticker today.

It's been a long time coming, but Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, they of the cumbersome and somewhat antiquated-sounding name, have awarded the American Bungalow at National Park Seminary a green sticker, and that means the only thing that stands between us and getting walls put in is an inspector from Montgomery County.  And if anyone knows what kind of Edible Arrangement that guy likes...

JUST KIDDING.  But not really...

Definitely excited to get past this hurdle that has been eluding us for so long.  Not only did it take several tries, but even Hurricane Sandy had to get in the way, since our original inspection was scheduled for Monday morning, when she decided to plow through town.  This afternoon, we took our DC neighbors Marni and Alex to the house to show them around, and I hadn't even thought about the inspection having been rescheduled.  While we were driving up, I got a call from the subcontractor doing our kitchen-cabinet install, wanting to know if we forgot about them.  No, I assured them: we've already paid you the $13,000, so you can be darn sure we haven't forgotten about you.  The first email I sent out was not to thank the contractors or brag to my family, but to the cabinet people, letting them know we were now one step away from finally requiring their services.

This is the second time in four days we've been up.  The first was on Sunday, since the neighborhood was having its Halloween party.  It was a great event, with a costume contest that I must say was nearly swept by the Wahl family: Isaac won Third Place in the 6-and-under division for his Solar System costume; and the Adult category was all us-- me in Third with my Orion Constellation; Abby in First with her Cat; and my mom a surprise out-of-state Second-Place winner with her Black-Eyed Susan.  Granted, only three adults showed up in costume, but we don't need to discuss that right now...  After the party, we opened the house up for anyone who wanted to see.  We met some great new-to-us neighbors, including a couple who have two kids nearly the same age as ours.  (We also met some neighbors on the landscaping committee, which might come in handy once we get around to that next year... what was that number for Edible Arrangements again?)  

The reason I bring this all up, though, is because while we were showing people the house, who walks in but our contractor, Mark.  He's there to board up some of our windows ahead of Sandy's grand entrance the next day.  Say what I will about the lack of communication on his part, or the plodding pace of late, but it was very impressive to see him show up with boards and hammers, unrequested, to make sure our pricey windows remained intact.  Brownie points indeed.  He also explained what was going on with some of the red stickers we've been getting lately.  For instance, one had to do with the main pipe under the house, which was perfectly up to code for a house our size... but not for one below grade, which is what ours is, since it's on the side of a hill.  The pipe had to be something like a quarter-inch wider and at a bit of a slant to stop any potential backups.  I think.  (That sounds about right...)  Little stuff like that.  It satisfied my unasked questions on Sunday, although I still feel these are things that should have been known about before, and things that should have been communicated to us when the red stickers appeared.  (That said, I still haven't gotten anything from him today, even though we got a green sticker, so it's not like he's just incommunicado when there's bad news...)

He also said he's not quite sure about our new plans to save the division in the downstairs bathroom.  We will likely have to go ahead as planned, and make that an amendment at the end, if at all.  Even moving the door over a foot to the left may present problems, since there is wiring in that space right now and no extra slack on the wires to be able to move them.  We may lose that, which sucks, but we're not going down without a fight.  What we did "win," though, was placement of the air-conditioning condenser out in the yard. We wanted it to be as far away from the barbecue area as possible, and he had it sitting right next to the back door.  As a compromise, we moved it as far to the front as possible, while still being positioned along the east-side wall.  Stick a few bushes around it and it'll hardly be seen.  (Plus, having it where we wanted it originally would have meant seeing it out the bathroom window, a placement I don't know if we had thought about.)

So what else is going on?  Tomorrow we're supposedly getting the giant HVAC unit delivered, which will be a milestone-- especially since it's ready to go in.  Also, all the trash has been removed from the yard, which is great because I just started getting very pleasantly-worded complaints again, which I hate.  (It's not like I want that trash to be there!)  The contractors graded the whole yard, which I think was a bit of a waste, because it's not how we want it to be in the end-- the whole thing is graded as a slope away from the house, which I understand is wonderful from a drainage aspect, but not exactly from a livability aspect.  It did, however, give us a good idea of what we'll be dealing with in terms of run-off, since the rain from Sandy carved a definite trench across the yard.  We can definitely do something with that-- likely putting in gravel and maybe a French drain to corral the water onto the sidewalk, rather than through the yard.  (By the way, did you know that the "French" in French drain refers not to France but to Mr. French, the father of Daniel French, he of Lincoln Memorial fame?  Yeah, you're welcome.)
Look at the trench carved out by Sandy's rain.
We hope to redirect it off the bottom-left corner of the picture.
That's our HVAC guy working on the vent for the heating system.
The AC condenser will be at this corner of the house.

Overall, this has been a very positive four days.  Sure, tomorrow's November, and we're supposed to be completely done with absolutely everything in 18 days, and we wanted to be moved in last week.  But baby steps, people.  Baby steps.  

And at least that baby's stepping.
Work proceeding on the cement bollards for the electric transformer.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tiny Morsels of Progress

Still waiting on the inspections, which are supposedly scheduled for the second half of this week.  I'll believe that when I see the green stickers on my window.

Our new electric transformer box, behind the house in the parking area.
BUT, there has been some progress at the house, seen by my very own eyes this weekend.  Pulling into our parking space, we couldn't help but look right at our very own, dark green, brand-new electric transformer!  Okay, so there's a caveat: it's not there because we asked it to be there, but rather because the contractor working with the Windmill next door got it put in.  But either way, it's there, sitting on the existing cement pad on the part of the lawn that's common area.  The transformer will serve our two houses as well as the Colonial (the yellow house that hasn't been sold yet), and can be hooked up to actual gosh-darn electricity as soon as bollards are installed.  (For those of you outside the DC area, who may not be familiar with the term, bollards are those cement poles that guard things like electric transformers or sidewalks or the White House from being damaged by runaway cars or trucks or terrorists.  We're intimately familiar with them here in the capital, and me even more so with my line of work.)  Anyhow, I got an email late last night from Lee, the contractor working with the Windmill, asking me in the nicest way if I might consider possibly talking to him about the potential for me to possibly hopefully be okay to maybe help them with some of part of the cost of installing the bollards, since we were sharing the transformer.  Really, he asked in the nicest, most polite, nearly Canadian manner possible.  It was actually very nice of him, because it very much is something that's my responsibility to pay for; it's just nice to be asked!  I emailed him back this morning with a very short note letting him know of course I'd be happy to pay a third of the cost (along with the owners of the Colonial and the Windmill).  Based on his reply back to me, I'd guess he's also not finding willingness to help a plentiful commodity during his work, because he was definitely appreciative.  Hey, in my estimation, I'm all about being as friendly and accommodating to my neighbors as I can, because in the end, once all the contractors leave, it's they who are going to be staring into my windows all day long...

So after the transformer, we headed inside to take a look at "the boxes."  "The boxes" are two, well, boxes that our contractors said they had to build on either side of the fireplace.  They told Abby about them late last week after we had discussed what kind of fireplace we wanted.  Although we have a real, working fireplace in the house, it has been impressed upon me by my parents that what we want is a gas-insert fireplace to put inside of that, so we don't have to haul wood around or worry about flue issues or have crazy losses of heat any more than we already will, what with 49 windows and cathedral ceilings and all...  I'm all about actually using the fireplace, and I was totally sold on my parents' gas fireplace they had installed in Grand Island; a flip of the switch and you're good to go.  So after installing the gas line, the contractors told us that code requires the hose to be completely closed in by some sort of housing.  They built a small box around it, just to the left of the fireplace.  It's a pretty low box, less than a foot off the ground and about a foot long.  But to make it even, they built a faux box on the right side to mirror it.  Looking at the fireplace with the two boxes in place, they don't seem to get in the way much.  The only problem, though, is what we'll be able to do with that space now.  It's hard enough to think about what kind of furniture's going to go in there, but now we've got to deal with these weird little boxes.  Plus, the wall to the right of the fireplace was going to have our handy-dandy, futuristic, tv-pops-out-of-it console that we are going to buy ourselves for our birthdays or anniversary or Arbor Day or something.  Abby says that box on the right has to be there for purposes of symmetry, but I'm betting it won't stay long.  In the meantime, hopefully I'll be sitting all warm in front of a nice gas fire while she debates the longevity of the right-side box.
The fireplace flanked by the two new boxes.
But since the boxes are uneven, my guess is one won't be staying long...

The left (functional) gas box up close and personal.
Next up: the downstairs bathroom.  As I mentioned last week, this is the most vexing of our issues with the house right now, apart from the inspection issue.  We want the bathroom to be split into two rooms-- one with sinks and storage, and one with the toilet and shower-- so that two kids getting ready in the morning can use it at the same time.  Right now, because of an ill-placed toilet pipe, that's impossible.  But my brilliant mind came up with a brilliant answer that hopefully won't be shot down by the evil needs of the inspector, who I think from now on I might call "Javert," since he's not exactly been nice to our cause as of late.  Anyhow, the idea is to move the door to the left, and be okay with a little jog in a dividing wall.  (Looking at the picture will help here.)  So right now, the doorway's a few feet from the left end along the wall between the bathroom and the mudroom, and opens straight into the toilet, which presumably would face directly out the door.  My super-brilliant plan is to have the door moved all the way to the left (towards the sink & storage section), to turn the toilet 90 degrees counterclockwise (so it faces the tub), and to create a zig-zag wall that runs behind the toilet, then to the right of the toilet, then back to the wall with the mudroom, so the two parts of the bathroom fit together like puzzle pieces, rather than just two rectangles.  (Listen: the reason I use the word "brilliant" here is because, for the amount of time Abby spends thinking about this, for me to look at something and have an idea she didn't think of yet?  Well, that's just brilliant.  Or crazy.  I'll take either one, as long as it works.)
The downstairs bathroom, as seen from the mudroom.
The doorway should be moved left, to accommodate that white toilet stub.
Looking back on this, it is kind of amazing that I view this as "progress," although I did preface that word with the modifier "morsel," so I think it's acceptable.  Or maybe I'm still not in the acceptance stage of this renovation.  Regardless, I'll leave you with one more set of pictures to show you more of the ceiling that was finished last week.  This time, it's a view up at the Great Room Balcony, which will serve as our home office once we move in.  The before-and-after will give you only a little taste of the difference in the house as a whole, since the balcony area didn't actually suffer too much at either the hands of the Army or time.  Still, though, it's a cool comparison.
Balcony after ceiling
and windows painted
Balcony pre-renovation

Thursday, October 18, 2012

One Month to Go

A month from today, our loan closes out.  That means everything meaningful that has to be done to our house must not only be finished, but inspected, approved, and signed off on, with appropriate paperwork sent to Delaware, approvals made there, and, presumably, a check cut, signed, and sent.  A month.  One month.  

Luckily, October has 31 days.

So obviously we will not be done in a month.  But at least there's progress being made, right?  Oh, but wait:

Three reds trumps a green and a white in this game.
So what we have here is an approval for work done back in June, a certificate of participation for work done thereafter, and three-- count 'em!-- three failed inspection stickers for work done since.  Oh, and we got one more red one this week, which makes four.  I don't understand.  The reason we hire people is because they know what they're doing, right?  These failures are for things like having a pipe that's the wrong circumference; that's not a requirement that changes by jurisdiction, is it?

We have been waiting for WEEKS now solely because of this.  We cannot close the walls until we get another green sticker.  And, like I wrote in my last post, we can't do pretty much anything until the walls get closed in.  Abby and I are just this side of panic mode, to tell you the truth.  Honestly, it's not a huge wait, if you actually think about it.  My amazingly optimistic hope was that we would get in by Labor Day, but Abby never believed that one.  It then became October 1, then by Isaac's birthday or Halloween.  Now we're pushing up against the loan deadline of November 18.  It's only an extra 75 days after my original optimistic date, which is probably par for the course for a project this big.  But with a renter waiting patiently (and undeservedly) for us to move out, and Patty the Delawarean loan officer looking at her watch and tapping her foot impatiently, this is painful.  

So here's our current plan.  We're already culling, and have made a give-away pile and a yard-sale pile in the attic.  We've been rather brutal with the kids' toys, as well as their clothes.  Isaac's birthday is October 26.  We are having the party at home.  On October 27, we start to pack, moving everything towards the front door.  We hope against hope that we have a place to put things at that point in the bungalow, but it's not going to happen.  Rather, we'll be handing out Halloween candy from among boxes.  That's fine, because it'll at least be progress on our end.  The moment-- the very moment-- we get the go-ahead to start moving things into the house, it'll happen.  It won't mean we will be living there, but it will mean our attic will start shifting into our new attic (in the basement), and we can start emptying.  Jamie will move into the basement-- for free-- that week, and will stay-- for free-- until we're gone.  And we will go the moment the bungalow is livable   It won't be done when we move in, and the work can definitely continue past November 18, but all the major work has to be done.  This won't be another case of Abby and me living for two winters in a house with no heat.  We're not going to get our electricity from one solitary working outlet again, and we're not going to use the end of an extension cord to alternate between a microwave, a toaster-oven, and a tv, and we're not going to light the house with the help of Christmas lights we grabbed from Siobhan and Perry's wedding-- like we did when we were hardy, childless newlyweds.  But we may not have a front porch, we may not have every room painted, and who knows what'll become of the Thanksgiving we thought we were going to host for Abby's side of the family?  But it's gotta happen.

And-- not that I wish them anything but the best-- but my parents, in the span of about two weeks, have found a new house, put a bid on it, had it accepted, and past an inspection.  And they're likely to close and move in by the end of October.  All in one calendar month.  It's a great little house, way the heck out in the twelfth circle of hell-- a.k.a. a town that actually touches the West Virginia border-- but it'll be theirs and done and livable and...  hey!  Maybe we can move all of our stuff in with them!  Now there's an idea.  (Actually, when they first made the decision to move, I promised them I'd help them drive the moving van down from Buffalo.  So now it looks like I'll be helping two different households move in the same month, but the only one that's sure to happen is not my own.  My favorite word lately comes to mind: Argh.)

My parents' new house in Round Hill, VA.
Things are not all frustrating.  Okay, so they're mostly frustrating, but I'm going to end on a positive: our Great Room ceiling is done.  The beams still need to be cleaned up, but the ceiling looks beautiful.  So maybe, when we kick ourselves out of Petworth and move into an unfinished Forest Glen bungalow, we can do a bit of fancy camping-- that's what we called it when we lived with the conditions I wrote about above -- and look up at our own kind of star: the ceiling of the room that sold us on the house in the first place.  Sigh...

This ceiling is awesome.
But is it worth all the pain?
Only time will tell...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Canadian in the Kitchen, an Italian in the Bathroom

Rather than bitching about what isn't happening at the house, we spent our Columbus Day driving around suburban Maryland in an attempt to finish up with some of the remaining choices we have to make.  Most importantly were the kitchen countertop materials and the bathroom flooring.  Isaac was sleeping over at his friend Alex's house, so my thought was to get up whenever Lola did, which is usually 7 something, head out to stores, maybe with a stop at IKEA for breakfast, and then come back by noon in time to pick Isaac up.  Well, with Lola sleeping in until after 9 (hallelujah!), we went another route and the girls made heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast while I cleaned up the backyard.

Finally set off afternoon with both kids in tow, headed up the B-W Parkway... but not until a stop at Burger Delite in Hyattsville for some Carolina Barbecue.  Nomnomnom.  (You see where I'm going with this, right?  So much for getting a lot done...)  Made it up to MSInternational, this huge warehouse in the middle of nowhere (Jessup, Maryland) full of enormous slabs of stone.  Very impressive, if I must say so myself.  They were recommended by a store Abby went to, and apparently they're the suppliers for Home Depot, so I guess their prices are pretty competitive too.  Anyhow, I've never seen so many countertops; they were stacked sideways all the way across the warehouse, sorted by color and grain and source and type and whatever-- impressive.  When we walked into the warehouse part, Isaac actually gasped, which I thought was neat, since he more and more often acts unimpressed by anything, being the premature teenager he is.  What was also very cool were framed pictures on the walls of giant mountains being ripped apart in extremely geometric ways.  Now I'm definitely not a fan of hilltopping, which is what coal companies do in West Virginia, leaving ridiculous environmental damage in their wake.  But does the fact that these mountains have marble and granite and whatever else in them instead of coal mean that the operations are cleaner?  My guess is no, but I'm choosing to deal with this political issue in another way some other time-- maybe as I'm making a sandwich on my new kitchen's new granite countertop...

Anyhow, Abby had two things in mind at this place: a countertop and a floor tile.  She had been here before, on a day she spent gallivanting around home-improvement places between DC and Baltimore, and had wanted me to see them.  It was great: we walked in, we looked at the slab, I said "yep," and we moved on.  Wish all decisions could be made that way.  (And for the record, our kitchen countertop will be "Virginia Mist," a charcoal-colored granite with a low number of variances, mined in Canada.)  Okay, so on to the tile.  Should be easy.  Nope.

Virginia Mist Granite:
Our Canadian Countertop, eh?
Abby picked out this tile that made me think of an Iranian whorehouse.  Okay, maybe not an Iranian whorehouse, but how about the place where Iranian call girls go to get their nails done?  It was dark gray, which is what we were going for, but with these weird cloudy streaks of metal going through it.  There were two different shades of the same style tile, and the other one, which had more brown, was definitely more bling-y, but I just couldn't get over the metallic shine of it all.  Tried going the nice route, by pointing out other tile in the store I really liked-- Abby said everything I liked was too "rustic," but I don't see it-- until I finally just told her it wasn't for me.  So, not exactly back to the drawing board, but let's call it going 1-for-2.
This is what an Iranian bathroom looks like, at least in my head.

By now it was already 4:00, and Abby was strongly hinting maybe we should just go home and call it a day, but I wanted to GET STUFF DONE so I pretty much steered the car the way I wanted it, across Central Maryland and over to the other tile store Abby had liked.  On the way, Abby conveniently started getting another headache, which is something that's been happening a lot lately-- she gets migraines, if you didn't know already.  But doggone it, we are shopping for tile here!  We make it over to Rockville and pile into the store.  The guy's a bit skeevy, with a terrible dye job, but the store has tons of choices, and we quickly go to work.  Lola's immediately fascinated by the Hello Kitty tile.  Thankfully, the kids are distracted by the putting green up front (good idea!) and we can mostly work sans kids.
I kid you not: they sell this in Maryland.
Abby and I are both drawn to stripes, for some reason; all the prettiest tiles have 'em, apparently.  But we can't do stripes on the floor, because the vanity has a really bold wood grain.  Having more lines on the ground would just give the whole thing a bit too much vertigo, I guess.  After an hour or so, we decide we really like this one gray tile, very simple but still three-dimensional (meaning it's not just flat gray), and are happy.  And it's Italian: ooooooh, fancy...  Then we realize this is the same exact tile we've had a sample of in our trunk for about two months.  Oh well-- when you like something, you like something, right?  And not a moment too soon, because the kids start going crazy.  We whisk them outta there, it's after six, we make it home by 6:30, have homemade burritos, and put them to bed. Can't think of a better way to celebrate a holiday that's still around pretty much solely due to the Italian-American lobby than by deciding on a purchase or two of granite.  Michelangelo would be proud.

Dark Gray Bathroom Tile:
Will be less blurry in person

Friday, October 5, 2012


This is ridiculous.  

I hate that the last few posts have been about how we've been sitting around and waiting.  I've been putting off writing because nothing has happened, but then I started thinking today that I was going to write this blog to show what was really happening (or not happening, as the case may be), so I might as well fill you all in on the non-events.  (What a lead-in, folks!)

No, seriously, since I posted last time, I wrote at least four emails to our contractors, asking them little stuff like "hey, just wanted to make sure you remembered about moving the upstairs toilet over," or "hey, just wanted to make sure you remember our fridge has an ice maker," since I saw no plumbing holes cut near the fridge when I went over the weekend.  Nothing.  Not until Monday afternoon, when I wrote an email specifically saying that I was pretty freaking nervous, and that we were supposed to be moving in in a month, did I get a response.  Not a satisfying response, but at least one that made sense to me.  But WTF? Why can't you just write to me like you said you would and let me know what's going on, even if NOTHING is going on?  (Which brings me back to why I hadn't been writing... hmm...)

So what has been going on is this: the inspector came out to take a look at the electric and plumbing, and immediately informed them that the gas lines had to be finished before he could do his inspection.  They weren't, so that apparently started a mad scramble to finish them up.  And I'm guessing they're done, or almost done, because the gas inspector is coming next week-- or so I've been led to believe.  Once that's done, the original inspector can come back, and once he's okay with everything-- and seriously, he had better be-- then the drywall can go up and all the dominoes can fall.  Until then?  Nada.

Well, not nada exactly.  Abby went by the house this week and saw that they've started working on the Great Room ceiling, which is good, since that needs to be done before we move in, since it's probably not in our best interest to have our stuff and our kids living somewhere where old paint is being stripped.  I haven't seen how they're doing it yet-- I'm guessing with some sort of scaffolding-- but it heartens me to know something's actually happening.  Hopefully, I'll go by the house in a few days for a different inspection and inspect it myself.

That different inspection is one for our loan.  You know, the loan that needs to be closed out by November 18.  All of the work doesn't need to be done by then, but all of the work to make the house livable does, because it's all been planned out by HUD.  Got an email today from Patty, the administrator of the loan, forwarding concerns from HUD itself wondering why we haven't had an inspection lately.  Answer: nothing's been done that's worth inspecting!  Or rather, that's my answer.  Who knows the real answer?

Well, here's what actually has been done.  My bedroom closet has been built.  It intrudes slightly into the Great Room to the left of the window on the right as you walk in, so it's pretty much mirroring the bump-out from the bathroom.  Only problem is that they built the door to the closet opening into the Great Room.  Mind you, this is my bedroom closet.  With a door that opens into the Great Room.  See the issue?  They did that, supposedly, because we said we had wanted a pocket door as an entry door to our bedroom, but we had only said that because they asked "do you want a pocked door there?"  We assumed that, since they asked, they understood that we understood that their asking was based on the understanding that the BEDROOM CLOSET WOULD OPEN INTO THE BEDROOM.  Argh.

Honestly, I feel bad.  I feel bad because these are nice guys, and this is a huge project, and the nice part of me feels I shouldn't be so peeved.  But then I feel bad because this is my freaking house!  If I want a bedroom closet that opens into my bedroom, I shouldn't be made to feel bad about asking for it!  Similarly, the fact that I've been pestering them about moving the damn toilet pipe six inches to the left for MONTHS now makes me feel like a nag.  BUT IT'S MY HOUSE.  So I go in and notice they've laid the base to the shower.  Great.  Now the shower is small, because they based the dimensions on where the toilet pipe is.  THE TOILET PIPE THAT HASN'T BEEN MOVED.  Now I feel bad enough that I didn't bitch enough about the toilet pipe that I'm just going to drop the whole issue, because I don't want it to set us back any further in time.  No, we're not going to drop the fact that the downstairs toilet is also poorly placed, but this one I'm willing to take for the team.  But again, this was MY bathroom.  And I have always wanted a big shower with no tub.  And now that shower is going to be six inches smaller than I wanted it to be.  And I feel bad, because it's only six inches so I should just shut up about it.  And I feel annoyed because IT'S MY FREAKIN' SHOWER.  Argh.

The bathroom itself now has a lip coming out above the entry door, which I think I wrote about last time.  Don't think that's a big deal, although it looks weird now when there's no reason for the lip to be there.  But once it's finished, it'll be fine, and they're supposedly going to run the trim all the way around it to make it blend in.  But what if that doesn't happen?  What if I walk in and the bathroom bump-out is all painted nicely and the trim ends on either side?  Will I complain?  Will I feel bad about complaining?  Will I feel bad about not complaining?  Seriously, how many "arghs" can I put in one post?  Argh.

Oh, and some pipes are done in the kitchen, and there are working water pipes in the showers.

So Abby calls me one afternoon this week-- Wednesday?  Thursday?  They all run together...  Anyhow, she calls me after having met with the contractors and sounds defeated.  She tells me what's going on-- more things we're either losing or "will have to see" about.  No more instant water heaters, for instance.  Sure, they were more expensive, but they're really ecological, and when you're on vacation you don't use a lick of electricity because no water's going through.  So it looks like we're going to have a standard old water heater.  Not a complete loss, but one less thing that we wanted.  I guess a bunch of people took a look at the house and said there's no way we can use them.  I trust that-- I do.  I'm just annoyed because it's not the only issue.  Another: the damn toilet downstairs.  Some crap (ha!) about the angle of the pipe that feeds out of the toilet, and how if it would be moved, that angle might not be sharp enough.  Without the toilet where we want, not only will the toilet pretty much be facing straight out the back door, but we won't be able to use the bathroom how we wanted at all, because it won't be splittable into a bathroom and a getting-ready room.  "Good news" on the fireplace and the fridge, in that both are definitely still in the works.  But annoyed that the "good news" we have to report is that something we wanted to have done, and planned all along to have done, is still going to be done.  Argh.

All in all, it still looks like a good two weeks before drywall goes up.  Remember, we bought appliances on our vacation in London so that we could buy cabinets on our vacation in London so it could all be done in time to have everything done in time.  Now, the appliances are sitting in boxes in the Great Room, the cabinet installers are writing me weekly emails to check up on when they can come out and measure, and we've already paid the $13,000 bill for it all.  

Worst of all, I feel horrible because I'm screwing my friend Jamie, who's set to move into our house the moment we leave.  That was supposed to be October 1.  Now?  If we can't move by the end of the month, which is a definite, what does he do?  We're actually thinking of moving all of our stuff either into boxes or just straight into the basement and setting up shop there for a few weeks, letting Jamie move in upstairs so at least he can live normally for a while.  But we can't do that until at least October 26, for reasons I will NOT be going into in this edition, because that's a whole 'nother story...


My bedroom closet.  Notice how the door, at left, opens NOT into the bedroom...

The overhang at the entry into the upstairs bathroom.
The beautiful wood behind it will be concealed by the air conditioning. :(

My shower.  Not nearly as big as I wanted it to be.
And the infamous poorly-sited toilet pipe at left.