Monday, June 24, 2013

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Scene of the Crime
Before I start today's installment, I just wanted to send a big, hearty FU to the jerk that stole my bike this weekend.  You see, I did go to Wal-Mart and buy a cheap bike because I didn't want to be upset if a more expensive one were to have been stolen, but I also figured any loss would be because I did something like leaving it out on my porch overnight-- as I've done several times-- or forgotten my lock or something.  But no, it was stolen over the weekend while it was locked to the bike rack at Forest Glen Metro Station.  You know-- the station in the suburbs to where I moved, as opposed to the one in the iffy neighborhood back in the District from where I moved.  But hey, in the interim, before I re-buy that $94.94 basic blue bike again, maybe my face will clear up, because it's just exploded since I started sweating in the morning on the bike-ride in.  Back when we lived in Petworth, we had a bunch of stuff stolen; in fact, both my dad's and my mom's bikes were stolen from our front porch last fall, but that was my own stupidity for leaving them out on the front porch.  Isaac's winter jacket was stolen from inside his pediatrician's office one winter-- now that's desperate-- and some jerk stole all of my CDs, my stereo, and a whole bunch of expensive tools from a friend's uncle who was helping us renovate, which totally sucked.  But for some reason, this one hits me different.  I had thought I had moved away from all of that shit.  But here I was again yesterday, filing a police report and calling pawn shops.  Argh.

Our four newly-planted Arborvitae, that hopefully
will grow in nice, straight, narrow columns into
the spaces between our windows.
The lovely incident came in the middle of what was an otherwise productive weekend on our part.  Abby and I decided to go ahead and start planting in the one area in which we have the power to do so at this point-- the tiny strip of "yard" on the south side of the house, along the kids' windows.  We drove up to Johnson's, a huge local nursery way up in Olney, and out of all of the amazing stuff they had, we ended up buying four Arborvitae.  Yep, Arborvitae, the generic, everyone-has-three tree-bush.  But we arrived at the purchase after consulting with a nursery employee who knew everything they had to offer.  Our need was for four thin, narrow, tall evergreens that are good in full sun.  Arborvitae.  In fact, we have a sad, little Arborvitae in front of the Petworth house that we bought from Johnson's in Tenleytown; his name is Johnson.  (And yes, we name our plants, for those of you who aren't aware.)  We made our purchase on Saturday, then kept them out in the yard overnight, since we had tickets to see Daniel Tosh that night.  (Good thing no one stole them!  Grumble grumble grumble...)  Sunday came around and it was pouring out, so I waited for the rain to subside, then went out to dig holes.  By the time I was done, the sun was blazing, and it was about 340% humidity, but we had four new Arborvitae planted outside.  And two of them are already named: the woman at Johnson's was named Irene, so of course the two are "Irene to the Left" and "Irene to the Right."  (The ones in the middle remain unnamed for the time being.)  The bushes or shrubbery (another shrubbery!) are coming next-- maybe even this weekend.  But for now, it's the two Irenes, the two no-names, the brand-new sidewalk, and a colony of wasps on that side of the house.

New sidewalk, new plantings, more to come.
Inside, some work has been done since the infamous list of 13 items was unveiled.  Most of it, unfortunately, was not done by our contractor.  He insists that the only major thing left to do is to show the evil inspector the retaining wall, which will require digging up our front yard again to show him underground.  He had better not kill my hosta,  I'll tell you that!  He supposedly needs three consecutive dry days to do this, and it's true that it's been raining non-stop the past few weeks.  He claims the rest of the things that need to be done can be done in about two hours, and he has all the materials in his truck, and they'll all be done on Wednesday at the earliest, if there's no rain forecast.  Hopefully, the things that need to be done will be done a bit less haphazardly, unlike the way he "fixed" the problem with the poorly labeled fuse box.  (Abby was furious when she saw it, and wrote him a pretty nasty email about it; he claims it was a temporary fix.)

Our new upstairs shower, and the new gray wall at left.
But other stuff that has been done include our shower door, which was finally installed last week.  I took the first shower upstairs, and was really happy with the size of the enclosure, which is a relief, since I had thought it would be really tight.  I guess standing naked in the space gives you a bit better idea of how it feels than when you are clothed...  Abby's still concerned about the window, since she showers at night, but she's got this totally ghetto wood block she puts up over the glass (which you can't see through, because it's pitted, but you can still see shadows) when she uses it.  Hopefully that'll all be moot once our front landscaping's done.  Also in the upstairs bathroom, we decided the walls looked too boring, and unfinished.  I complained to her that I wanted a bathroom that felt like one in a nice hotel, and got one-- downstairs-- while the upstairs one, which was mine, felt like a Days Inn.  A simple coat of gray paint on one wall may just have done the trick, and although they're not in yet, the towel bars should finish things off nicely.

Our newly-painted black-on-black family room walls
Elsewhere, Abby painted the white trim in the family room downstairs black to match the black walls, and immediately doubted herself because it cast a shadow.  She claims she wanted the black-on-black look to blend in with itself, rather than to stand out.  I don't quite understand, and told her-- likely to her frustration-- that I liked it both ways, but that it'd be awfully hard to re-white the stuff she already painted black.  So she finished it up, doors and all, and turns out we both really like it.  It may not be what she had envisioned, but those of us who know Abby also know her imagination sometimes leads her to magical lands filled with perfectly done, affordable, clean, timely homes-with-character, and, well, that's just a fiction as far as I'm concerned.  But I like the walls.

"Magnetite" is pretty much the same color Magneto wears.
I also painted one wall in the computer room the same gray as the front foyer-- so yes, now we have three different colors of gray in the house, in addition to all the white.  This one is called "Magnetite," but I think I'd just call it "Dark Gray."  Back when we had the floor finishers in the house, they were laughing at Abby for painting the walls so delicately, claiming that if she used more paint on the first coat, she wouldn't need a second coat.  So I tried that, but I think it still might need a second, which sucks, because I really just want to watch TV tonight...

Other than that, not much else is going on.  Just waiting for the damn inspection.  Mark stood Abby up twice last week, after she had called him demanding a meeting to talk about the snail's pace he's been on.  My parents were here for the weekend, and offered to help us do stuff, but there wasn't that much to do; my Dad helped us put doors on the cabinet in the mud room, but their biggest help was watching the kids when we went out on our Tosh Date.  Oh, and we were picked by Montgomery County as one of ten historic homes to get a free energy audit this Wednesday.  A few years ago, our friends Siobhan and Perry in New Jersey got an audit sponsored by their electric company that ended with a plan for how to make their home more energy-efficient, and the ability to pay for the work over time as an add-on to their electric bill; that was an amazing idea.  We had the same thing in DC a year or so ago, but it ended with an email showing us where we could do things ourselves.  We did like two of the things, but got sidetracked by this place.  This time around, I'm hoping the audit's a lot more like New Jersey's than the District's, because I'm totally willing to pay for the upgrades, but I have no patience to go out and get someone to do the work; tell me what's wrong, fix it yourself, and take my Master Card, or fuhgettaboutit.  In the meantime, I'll be sitting here, waiting for my inspection, ducking wasps, and getting to know my local pawn shops with the hope some idiot will come in with my month-old 26-inch blue and gray Roadmaster Granite Peak 18-speed bike from Wal-Mart.  Welcome to the neighborhood.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Lucky Number Thirteen

When we last left off, there were a number of things wrong with our house; wrong enough, that is, to preclude us from passing our inspection to receive Montgomery County's seal of approval to officially move into the house.  Since then, we have found out that number: 13-- not usually the luckiest of numbers.  There are 13 things wrong enough with our house to cause us to fail the inspection.  The inspection was on June 6; today is June 16.  What, you may ask, has been done in those ten days to remediate those issues?  I can tell you definitively, in fact: Nothing.

My hostas are going to have to be dug up temporarily.
But they're just beginning to bloom!
Mind you, that doesn't mean we haven't been in contact with our contractors.  There have been a couple of strongly worded emails from us.  There have been a couple of nonchalant replies back.  There have been two telephone conversations: one right off the bat, explaining Montgomery County had "misplaced" or "misfiled" the certification that our retaining wall had passed inspection; and one tonight, explaining that they were waiting for a period of time when there were three consecutive sunny days forecast-- enough to re-dig our front yard to expose the subterranean retaining wall, schedule an inspection for the next day, and refill the whole on the following day.  While that made perfect sense, here's what I heard from that explanation: Blah blah blah someone screwed up it's not us; Blah blah blah it's too rainy; Blah blah blah we want to rip out your hostas just as they're starting to take.  (Oh, and no mention of who's paying for this re-exposition of the aforementioned wall with the mysterious lack of ,municipal approvals.

In the meantime, Mark assures me, there will be a guy out here tomorrow to fix most of the stuff on the list.  And what's on that list?  I'm glad you asked:

  1. "Stabize the lot."  Yeah, I think they mean "stabilize," but I'm not quite sure what's so unstable about our lot.  I mean, the house has been here for 115 years; it ain't going anywhere.
  2. "Outside outlet is loose."
  3. "Need backfill inspection for retaining wall."  Discussed above.
  4. "Anti-tip device for cook tops."  Oh, you mean the one that was sitting on our counter for a month?  And our dishwasher leans forward, too, when you pull out either rack.
  5. "Shower curtain rod."  The one thing that's our fault, but we have ordered the upstairs shower door, and it's due to be delivered and installed this week courtesy of Navij, our friendly Next Shower Door salesman.
  6. "Bedroom closet lights too close to shelf."  Don't know how he's gonna fix that.  It better not involve just getting rid of the light.
  7. "Need four-inch clearance on back of fireplace."  This may just involve moving the gas unit forward; I'm not sure.
  8. "Mudroom outlet missing cover plate."  Really?  I'd hope that, were this the only problem, it wouldn't have failed us.
  9. "Need arc fault breakers."  Um, okay.  Something electric.
  10. "AC breaker max 25 amp."  Thinking it needs to be bigger?
  11. "Panel directory too general."  I agree.  I want to know exactly how to turn everything off if there's a problem or a project.
  12. "Patch storage wall."  Yeah, that thing my dad has been complaining about for months.
  13. "Schedule all permits together."  Because obviously we're attempting to make this go as slowly as possible.
So in my estimation, there are about eight things that need to be fixed.  Hopefully at least six of them can be done tomorrow.  In addition, we have had a storage-room door sitting at Home Depot in Aspen Hill for a week now, and I just found out yesterday that our last remaining cabinet door is ready for pickup there as well.  Was going to pick them both up tonight after we put the kids to bed, but I forgot that the place closes at 8:00 on Sunday, so I'll either go tomorrow evening or attempt to get them to deliver, since they offered to deliver the cabinet door for free.  What I can do at this point, however, is to call the cabinet-install guys and schedule the final install for the kitchen, which should finalize not just that one remaining door, but also our pulls, as well as the things that go around the microwave and dishwasher to make the cabinets look complete.

While the contractors have been busy "working behind the scenes" (ahem), we have been semi-productive these last ten days.  I won't lie and say we've done tons of stuff and are being held back entirely by the contractors, but I will say that there are things we've done that, with a little work from the contractors, will help us finish everything up.  Abby, for instance, finally found bathroom hardware she likes.  We got the stuff at Lowe's and have it in a bag, ready to mount.  We are going to put Xs on the walls to show where we want everything mounted, because without doing so we're pretty sure everything will be put about a foot lower than it should be.  Our tradesmen are great workers, but apparently they think we're midgets-- something I think I've noted previously.  Our range hood is about 18 inches above the stove top, our vanities were originally set so low I had to bend over to brush my teeth-- I still have to stoop at the current, "highest possible" height-- and our mailbox is so low on the outside of the house that I'm fully expecting the Wicked Witch of the East's legs to be sticking out under our front porch.  To all who have not met us: I am 6' 1", my wife is 5' 10", and my kids are both above the 90th percentile for their age in height.  We have no need for those tiny toilets or baby-sized towel bars set two feet off the ground, thank you very much.

The new sidewalk out back,
and the new setback for our bushes.
We've also gone ahead and hired someone to help us with some landscaping issues; namely, that we have a number of spots on our property that are paved over that shouldn't be.  Along the back side of the house, under the kids' bedroom windows, there's a sidewalk that comes right up and literally touches the house in parts.  There is no need for strangers to walk that close to the house, easement or no easement.  So we had Paulino, a guy who does work for Paula and Richard (the Windmill's owners), smash up the concrete on that side.  The sidewalk's community property, sure, but the part of it that touched our house was on our land.  So now that things are smashed up, he's going to build a nice, straight, new sidewalk along the property line, where it should be.  With that extra space, we are going to put bushes in to form a border between what's public and what's private-- maybe something prickly, so as to discourage our kids from escaping out their windows in their teenage years...

All this blacktop was removed from the yard before we woke up today.
Amazing what can happen when people actually want your business.
Second, parts of our postage-stamp front yard are covered by multiple layers of blacktop.  When you look at old pictures of this place, one of the things that stands out is the constantly evolving shape of the front yard; sometimes it's straight across, sometimes jagged, sometimes rounded.  Currently, the yard is bounded by a curved curb.  However, inside that curb is a layer (or more, in places) of blacktop that impedes any sort of attempts anyone might have to actually grow anything.  Paulino pulled it all up Saturday morning and hauled it away before we woke up this morning.  Excellent!  (And just in time for Mark to come and dig it all back up... wonder how long it would have taken him to get around to pulling it up, had we asked?)  Finally-- and this is something I'm a bit wary of actually letting Mark know-- Paulino is going to pour a concrete pad underneath our AC unit on the side of the house.  Currently, there's a specially-made pad on top of concrete blocks-- I kid you not-- for the condenser.  (That's what the outside part's called, right?)  Paulino's going to make it so the unit doesn't fall down the slope during a hard rain, basically, which is something Abby and my dad helped forestall by putting in the longer drain hoses a few weeks ago.  All in all, I bet he'll be done before midweek.  And all this after two consecutive days of frustrating tries at meeting up-- first, I told him we lived next-door to Paula and Richard, not remembering they had another house; next, I told him Abby would be home, but told Abby I'd call her when he replied, and forgot to.  No worries-- he showed up unannounced on Friday and all was set.  On Saturday, the sound of him working on the concrete outside our window woke us up.  At 7:00.  On a Saturday morning.

This morning was Father's Day, and we had planned to get up early enough to make pecan pancakes and leave by 10 to make it out to my sister's place in Gainesville, where we'd spend the day with my parents at my sister's pool.  At about 8:00, I was aware Abby was not in bed, but rather with the kids outside doing something.  Unconcerned, I went back to sleep.  About 90 minutes later, I woke up, scrambled to take a shower, and found the three of them cleaning out our disgusting car as part of my Father's Day present.  So, pancakes were out, but so was the smell of spilled chocolate milk in the backseat.  I started to get bathing suits together and headed out to see what they were doing when I saw a family walking around the Windmill, heading toward the Colonial.  Wait-- they didn't look like tourists.  Could they be...  I had to ask... Yes!  They're the people who bought the Colonial-- the yellow house two over that was Abby's favorite, and that had fallen through so many times right before it was sold.  Eric and Christina (sp?) are native Marylanders who live with their two kids (Ryan is only three months older than Isaac and in the same grade!!) in Fort Lauderdale.  He's an attorney/developer, and they're considering making this their permanent residence.  Eric had bought the place without showing the kids, so now that Florida's schools are out, that's what they were doing.  Immediately, I volunteered my kids to show them the "Magic Trail" that starts under their house and leads to the Castle.  We all went along, barefoot, listened to their plans for the place, and commiserated with them about the approvals process.  (Hopefully we didn't scare them away...)  Regardless, not only is the house now truly owned by someone, but it's owned by someone who seems to a) know what they're doing, b) understand what needs to happen, and c) HAS KIDS ABOUT THE SAME AGE AS OURS.  Not that I'm excited about that potential or anything...  Funny thing is that my kids are so unused to having neighbors that are their age-- seeing as they've never had any-- that we had to actually explain what we meant by going next door to ring the bell and see if they were home.  "No, really, you can go over and see if your friend wants to play, without setting a play date.  No, really."

So there you have it: what I hope is read as a not-entirely-negative post.  (I think my sister may think we're suicidal based on some of my previous rants...)  Now, we just have to see if tomorrow really pans out as a cure-all with the contractor, and how deep we actually have to dig (in our yard and in our pockets) to get that damn Certificate of Occupancy.  And it's all based on the ten-day-old failed inspection and that (hopefully) lucky number 13.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Biblical Failure," or, "What is a Nick Nack?"

"There is nothing new under the sun." --Ecclesiastes 1:4-11*
"This is the song that doesn't end / Yes, it goes on and on my friend" --Lamb Chop
"I knew we were gonna fail." --Abby Wahl

Every Wednesday for two school years, I've been lucky enough to be able to take a half-day off from work in order to pick my kids up from their school, with its wacky Wednesday-half-day policy. We try to do fun things, like going to a museum or the planetarium or something, but often end up just going to the playground and/or the library, which is what we did this week. It started not only as a continuation of our set-up at Isaac's pre-school co-op, where one of us had to go in once a week and the other had to watch the baby, but as a good way for me to use my excess comp time and give Abby a half-day of non-parental adulthood. But lately, she's been joining us, whether on playground or museum jaunts, or at the house to meet with contractors, inspectors, or anyone else who needs the focus of both of us during working hours. at those times, the kids have occasionally gotten pushed to the back, either having to endure hours of cross-town driving, boring materials showrooms where a single executive putt-putt hole was the only distraction, or being shushed while they play pool or foosball in the community room.

Yesterday's plan was to keep the kids out of Abby's hair as much as possible, so we did the playground across the street from their school, spent an hour or so at the Mount Pleasant library, and went to Target to buy air freshener for our stinky car, before finally heading home at five. When we got home, Abby was in her painting clothes, having finished about a third of the first coat of Poppyseed paint on the trim in our family room. All around her, there were piles of boxes, displaced furniture, and empty cabinetry-- but not because she had carefully removed things from their place to make sure nothing got splattered. No, it was because she had spent the entire day packing up the house, so that when the inspector came today, he wouldn't see signs that we have effectively been squatting there for the last seven weeks. Her work took much of the day, and we continued with last-minute touches this morning, bagging all the contents of our freezer and fridge to stash temporarily across the street in the community room's fridge, taking sheets off our beds and leaning the mattresses up against the walls, emptying the dryer of clean clothes and packing our clothes away in the boxes they had come in back in April.

I left the house a bit late, due to all this re-packing, telling Abby that at least once we re-unpacked, we could get rid of the boxes once and for all, we could hang things on walls once and for all, we could cross "inspections" off our need-to-do list once and for all. Then, just before lunchtime, I get the following email:

"Gregory, the inspection failed. It's just a few nick nack items and one major item. The major item is the inspector couldn't find a sign off for the retaining wall, so we both are researching now to get to the bottom of this"literally"."

I had been waiting for his email all morning, having asked him to email me rather than texting, since I can't read texts at work. So when I saw his name in my inbox, I got excited momentarily. You know, like how you feel in the third quarter of a Bills game versus the Patriots. Just as fast as the adrenaline came, it left when I read the opening line. You know, like how you feel in the fourth quarter of a Bills game versus the Patriots.

Immediate questions: whose responsibility is it to have that sign-off handy? What are "nick nack items," and how many is "a few?" When will this stuff be found and fixed? How much will Abby hate me for telling her the news? Will we have to re-unpack, then re-repack, then, OMG, re-re-unpack?

So that's where we stand. Limbo. Abby was nonplussed when I told her this afternoon, giving me her quote at top in a resigned monotone. We'll bring all the food back into the kitchen, put the clothes back into the closets, arrange the toiletries and toys back into the vanities and shelves, redistribute the furniture to its proper place, reconnect the satellite and modem. Then we'll wait until we have to undo, then redo, it all over again.

*Those of you who know me personally may find it strange that I open this blog post quoting scripture. Be assured I had no idea of its biblical origin. The Shakespearean origin I had assumed was actually just a paraphrase. Thank you, Google.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Penultimate Passage

I won't beat around the bush, because I'm sure you all want to know: Yes, we have passed our plumbing inspection! Weeks after the plumbing was "done," and at least a double-digit number of days since it was actually completed, we finally got us a sticker. Despite having an inspection scheduled for last week (supposedly), it took until yesterday to do it, since we had to secure an inspection on the fireplace beforehand. Wish we had known that sooner, because last week, while thinking "hell, we might as well get some stuff done on our own," we called our trusted fireplace people and had them cap our flue and do some pointing. So of course, as soon as I pay them, I hear we need to find a chimney guy. "Nope, we're calling my guys and that's it." Within 48 hours, we had our certificate. (Granted, the inspector had a whale of a time trying to discern what the paper actually said, because of poor penmanship, but hey, maybe the guy was Dr. Chimney, thank you very much.)

But it's not just a piece of paper that we've scored since I last wrote. Our two straggler windows were finally delivered from the custom shop in Baltimore and installed; the one in the balcony doesn't make that big of an impact, but the one in the dining room is amazing, because it was the one window we never actually saw light through-- it had been boarded up since the first time we saw the house 28 months ago. Now? I sit at my dining-room table and am actually a bit distracted by seeing the top of the windmill on the right side of my peripheral vision. It's a distraction about which I will never complain.

Speaking of the dining room, we finally got our chairs. Or rather, we finally ordered our chairs, and they were delivered crazy-fast. We had been holding off until most of the construction was finished, and once we reached the point where we needed to self-propel, they were an obvious choice. We got six, and plan to get two more, either matching or complementary. They're uber-modern, metal chairs-- three with white coating and three copper. They look really great with the striated table from my grandma. They arrived in pieces, and we had to put them together; IKEA definitely didn't write these directions! After wrestling with the first chair, I got an expletive-laden voice-mail message from Abby about the experience, but by the time numbers five and six were constructed while I watched House Hunters Sunday night, they took about five minutes apiece. For metal chairs, they're really comfortable, although I did have a bit of an accident while constructing #4, and have a gash on my right wrist to prove it.

Also completed recently is the switch of our hot and cold controls on the kitchen sink, as well as the installation of the dishwasher. No more washing dishes in the bathroom, and the machine is really, really quiet, which is great. So quiet, actually, that it's already been opened twice mistakenly during the rinse cycle. Gonna have to learn how to lock it! Although it is working, it's not anchored to the cabinets, so when you empty the contents it lurches forward just enough to make you think that this is the time it'll fall completely out, just like my recurring dreams as a kid of that strong wind knocking my house over to the extent that the mailbox post across the street would come through my window. Yeah, not gonna happen, but not taking any chances. The fridge also leans too far forward, and the freezer opens every time you close the fridge door. But it's wedged so tightly in the cabinets that I can't pull it out to adjust the tilt. Gonna have to wait for the cabinet guys to finish up to see if they can do it for us.

Ahh, the cabinets. Still unfinished, but supposedly the last door is going to be delivered to Home Depot tomorrow. Once it's in, they'll come out, switch out that glass door for the solid wood one they mistakenly installed in April, and do a couple other tweaks--like anchoring the dishwasher. Also hoping they'll install all of our handles and drawer pulls, despite us having purchased them online rather than from Home Depot. Abby's not so sure they will, but I have faith.

We've done a lot of buying lately, but the fun kind of buying: home furnishings, rather than home improvement.  There were the aforementioned dining-room chairs, which are BluDot Real Good Chairs from  Then there's the computer desk we got on clearance from West Elm.  And the painting we bought from an alternative art shop in Old Town Winchester during our anniversary weekend-- I haggled them from $150 to $100, so I feel productive on that one.  There's the mailbox we found on eBay and bought, only to have the letter carrier say we should really have one on the curb instead of the house, so we just put it on the porch for the time being, but today we found it to have been installed by our contractor on the wall.

On the flip side, there's the storage-room door we swear we bought but is nowhere to be found, so we had to reorder it from Home Depot and it's due in later this week.   And of course the bathroom hardware for the upstairs bathroom that we found online and had shipped to us, only for Abby to decide she doesn't like it; it's already on its way back.  Oh, and the still-nonexistent upstairs-shower door that we had measured last month, received the quote for yesterday, and think we can do better on.  So obviously, WE still have some work to do; the ball's not entirely in the contractor's court.

But for now, our next big date is Thursday; that's when we have our big, final inspection.  Pass that, and we get our Certificate of Occupancy.  In other words, we won't be squatters here anymore.  We refinanced a few weeks back-- had our mortgage payment cut by more than a thousand bucks a month, which is like getting a KILLER raise-- and I had been worried that we'd need the Certificate of Occupancy in order to finalize the closing.  I don't know why, other than my mortgage company told me I would.  But here I am, with a new mortgage and my old one so officially closed that my website login has been disabled.  So all the inspection will mean to us is that Maryland blesses the work that's been done.  But we also have to pretend we're not living here for that to happen.  And by pretend, I mean pack up a bunch of our stuff and seriously pretend we're not living here.  Seriously.  So tomorrow, on what would normally be a fun half-day at work picking up the kids from their half-day, it'll be more about making sure the kids are happy and occupied while Abby and I repack the most important things we have here, into the boxes that have been sitting in the living room for a month awaiting this day.  Our clothes will go back into bags, our food... um... maybe into the community room fridge for a few hours?  (Luckily, I haven't been grocery shopping in a week and we're running low on basically everything.)  But hopefully, come Thursday night, we can forget about permits forever, and start focusing on the end goal: living here, with no more work to be done by the contractors, and beginning our quest for landscaping and that big Maryland Historical Trust payoff.  

In the meantime, though, off to repack our house.