Thursday, May 26, 2005

Rocco and Rolling on the Basement

Before doing any construction downstairs, we decided it would be best to start with a clean space. Especially after all the filth that came down when we removed the ceiling in January.

So Jay called up an old friend (and first employer), Rocco to see if he still had his powerwashing equipment and was able to help us out. It was hard to believe when Rocco told us he had the privledge of being handed Link Wray's guitar (rock and roll guitar player most noted for the early feedback and distortion experimentation on his major hit, the 1957 instrumental "Rumble") during a performance on Friday. But if you know him, you know he is a devoted fan of straight up rock and roll, and Link knew he could cut it.

Anyway, Rocco agreed to come by Sunday afternoon with his truck and equipment to give our basement the once over. It was amazing how much stuff came down off our the concrete. At least five layers of paint were on there, plus decades of filth. We had to blast through the floor drain several times just to make sure the water went down.

Once the dirt was cleared, we realized the basement floors actually have a color - Dark Red! Actually, we knew that already, but we had no idea there so many cracks that were invisible because they were filled in with dirt. And the fireplace is made out of Chicago common brick. It might be nice to strip. but then again, it might easier to just paint it!

When the powerwashing was all over, it honestly had a dramatic affect on the basement. It was much easier to see what needs to be done, and envision where things would go.
Thank you Rocco!

Interesting postscript: Rocco and Debbie had actually recently redone their kitchen / family room, and it was featured on the cover of April's issue of Decorating Ideas. Click to see. This also included polished concrete countertops that Rocco built!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Premature Evacuation

So ... that whole "we sold the condo - yippee skippy" thing? Maybe a bit too optimistic. While we DID go under contract, not so sure what the *@?! is up now. The buyers had a home inspection on Thursday and apparently, freaked out.

Apparently, they never noticed the windows are original to the building before, and expect us to fix them. SO NOT HAPPENING. Especially since the association is giving owners the option to fix them later this year, and all that info was in the condo meeting minutes, which they received. Plus, they want the bathroom tile re-done.The original glass subway tile doesn't suit them ...

We've told our realtor, after much discussion and not a few choice words, that we'll reglaze the windows (happening today), fix the water stain in the sunroom (it's being fixed by the assoc this week) and patch a hole in a window jamb, but if they want more, they can walk.

As Jason noted, they shouldn't have been looking at vintage if they wanted new construction. I'm just glad I didn't book the moving van. SIGH . ...

Friday, May 20, 2005

A Call To Arms

Looks like we're going to have to move into the basement. Wonder of wonders, we're having issues with the village (again) who have admitted there's really no way that we can get a zoning variance for our proposed dormer (which, although it wouldn't extend past the exterior of the current house, would be six inches too close to our lot line - apparently, our currrent wall is grandfathered in, but if we make a single modification to that wall, we is in BIG trouble, hoss). Which has sent us in a mad scramble back to the drawing board, literally. We have to shave 8 inches off our dormer proposal to be in compliance and start work. But since we have to redesign, we must re-submit plans to the village for approval.

Hear that big cracking sound? Yeah, that was my head splitting wide open. SIGH.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Oh Frabjous Day! Calloo! Callay!

So ... today has really been somewhat of an outstanding day. As we were headed out of town to see Jason's brother Rob graduate from SIU in Carbondale, we got our second offer on our condo ... which was about $14K low. We countered, and heard nothing. So around 3:30, we started to make our way south. We had a few detours along the way, and were sadly still on the road at 9:30 when the phone rang again, somewhere around Sandoval. They were countering back, more respectable this time. We said we'd consider it and call back the next day.

We finally arrived at the Heller house (home to my lifelong sister soulfriend Marsha, her hubby Scott and their uber-smart 2 year old Logan) in DeSoto, it was nearly midnight and we were exhausted. We stayed up chatting for a while, then crashed - hard. The next morning, amidst answering Logan's myriad "whasssat?" questions and watching all manner of animals parade in Marsha's backyard (hawks, skunks, demon cats and more!) we kind of forgot about the urgent phone call we needed to place. It wasn't until 1:00 and we were on the road to Bobby's graduation ceremony with Jay's dad and stepmom in tow that I realized we should turn my phone on.

Sure enough, we had two semi-frantic messages from our realtor, and the realtor babysitting our account while our realtor is in sunny sunny CA. We decided to do one last counter, and held our breath.

Bobby graduated. It was fun. We watched the graduates all pomp-and-circumstance it with restrained hoopla. Later, we got to see the antenna lab at SIU, thanks to four-year old Michael's wily charms: "This isn't a party. If it's a party, where's the disco ball?" This said to a woman who ended up being the chair of research or something. Then we headed back to Rob's for some unrestrained hoopla.

As Bobby was opening presents, we got a call from the realtor.

Sold. Hurrah!

Now we just have to figure out how to be living in the house by June 24. ACk!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


We've been feeling a general lack of progress lately since our main efforts have been structural repairs (sistering basement joists, pouring concrete piers, etc.). But all that changed last weekend.

After Jen sent out a blanket email recruiting friends for help, we had a few people take us up on the opportunity to work out some anger management issues on our walls. It was the long awaited Wallbanger's Ball, and boy did things come down!

To begin with, Scott and Julie showed up Saturday. Jay took advantage of Scott's height to do a sister (double-up) a few joists in the basement while Julie and Jen chased each other around the yard with our old-fashioned manual push mower. Yes, we can be Luddites when we want to be, although Jen remarked that it will be gas-powered if I eat a burrito beforehand.

After a few hours, we decided to move on to the fun stuff-- the Demo. [insert maniacal laughter here] We realized we needed to get a handle of how to rebuild the stairs, and without taking all kinds of measurements on the existing wierd angles, we decided to get rid of the walls to make things easier.

What began as a simple task evolved into destructive mayhem on Sunday when Mike, Sandy, and Sara came by and brought out the sledgehammers. I almost felt sorry for the poor old walls as their evil grins peeked out from behind dust masks. Almost.

Mike, got any feeling in your arms yet? :)

On Monday, Sara took a little progressive therapy and finished the destruction in the closet and bedroom, and even cleaned up afterwards. ROCK ON SARA!

All in all, it was a WAY productive weekend, and we even have photos to show for it! Thanks to all who helped out.. We couldn't have done it without you! :)

Originally posted by Jay, edited a lil bit by Jen. All apologies, hon.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Dreams of Bungalow Color Schemes

Photoshop knowledge, in the wrong hands, can be a very dangerous thing. But we only use our powers for good, at least today. And so ....

Been playing with color schemes lately, can't you tell? Wanna see more? Click Here ...

Energy level is running low, so brief update: mucho thanks to Scott & Julie & Sandy & Mike & Sara for all their hard work this past weekend. We all came together to totally turn Humphrey House into the best haunted house ever! Too bad Halloween is so far away ... maybe we'll just have to bring a lil punkin fun to Chi-town a wee bit early this year . ... say Memorial Day?

More to come, and pix too!

"Om was yesterday's mantra. Today is more along the lines of 'grrrr ..." :) - Gutted: Down to the Studs Of My House, My Marriage, My Entire Life, by Lawrence LaRose