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.

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