730 days and counting

Happy two-year anniversary, you giant, paycheck-stealing, pretty, endless, battleship of a house, you.

As Hurricane Sandy was hitting NY and rain and wind were threatening to close the attorney’s office and registrar where our signing would be recorded that day, we were doing our walk through. Lou was already fixing things and we didn’t even own you yet.

fixing gutters

We’ve since replaced the gutters. Who knew gutters cost so much? 

You’ve brought us so much joy, Deep Eaves.

You make our boring weekends sound fun (we built a fence!). You make our lame Friday nights acceptable (can’t go out, need to save for that new toilet!). You give others a way to fill awkward silences: “So, how’s the house?!” is asked with feigned interested. I appreciate it. I mean, it’s not like we can whip out photos of the kids.

After our first winter spent washing both the dishes and our faces in the same ancient sink in a decrepit, unheated bathroom (if you can call it that), you have surely strengthened our immune systems and fortified the bacteria in our digestive tracks to resist almost anything.

dirty third floor sink

Are you grossed out yet? I am.

Well, except for that one 24-hour episode. But I still blame the crockpot.

We spent the morning of the Marathon Bomber chase in the backyard with my parents, despite orders to stay indoors, arranging bushes while helicopters buzzed overhead.

backyard with the parents

All but two of those bushes died. Figures.

We have planted two rounds of grass seed in the backyard, fingers crossed this last round will survive the coming winter. The first round didn’t survive the painters and fence project.

We found that $200 your previous people shoved in the cracks of the basement walls. Thanks for keeping it dry so we could promptly spend it on wine and cheese and a football game.

Speaking of the basement, our most valuable possessions in the entire 3,747 square feet of you are the Very Nice Tools in the basement. Not joking.

Jesus came with you and watched over us until we started up airbnb a couple months ago, at which point he now simply watches the ceiling in the laundry room from the top of the cabinet. Because a creepy Jesus bust does not a positive review make.

jesus on the wall

We (the royal we) have painted every room in this house, including closets, minus the interior stairwell to the basement, which i think about painting every time I’m in it, but have to remind myself NONONONO! NO MORE PAINTING.

Two years has brought all new plumbing. New electrical in many of the rooms (running wire was probably my least favorite, most hated project). Two new kitchens. Two new baths with a third on the way (with subway tile!). New paint on the exterior of the house. Credit cards. Loans. No signs of ghosts. Or the million dollars I was hoping was buried deep in the walls. Living in the best part of Boston, one of the few parts I will sincerely miss when we move away (someday). Paint on a majority of the clothes I own. Shoes that should have been replaced a long time ago. And Lou and I are still together!

deep eaves in snow

Someone learned to use a snow shovel.

This post marks the 50th blog entry. Pitiful for two years, but it sounds great when you consider that Lou is still trying to find the perfect pen with which to write a rough draft first post. Wait, I take that back. He’s busy drawing up countless plans for the next projects, the ones I’ll be posting about here. Because that’s how it works.

pumpkins on the porch

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A few things

Let’s talk about a few things going on here lately.

These donuts.

donuts cooling frosted donuts

They’re baked. I had to buy a donut pan, which means I had to go to bed, bath & beyond. I even bought the $4 coconut-flavored water almond milk for them. Which means they’re vegan (coconut oil instead of butter because we had it on hand and LOU bought it, not me, just sayin’…). But don’t worry, they’re FULL of sugar of the brown and powdered varieties and regular flour.

And they’re good. Fairly easy to make. Really easy to eat. A little like cupcakes, not so much donuts but hey, I like cupcakes too. Get the recipe here (note I did not put coconut on them because someone doesn’t like it, and no the almond milk doesn’t add coconut flavor, especially with the extra nutmeg I put in).

The doors on the third floor.

new third floor doors

There are a shit ton of doors in this house. And that is not an exaggeration. And none of the doors on the third floor could close because settling. And bad hinges. And old house.

I made Lou take off the bad doors, saw them down, put them back on the hinges, take them off a week later, drag them down to the backyard where I painted them, and drag them back up and put them back on the hinges a second time.

But guess what, all the doors are painted and open and close now and it is grand. And Lou has guns of steel! Thanks Lou.

The bulkheads where the basement meets the backyard.

Lou tore the old bulkheads off months ago. The stairwell holes have been covered with tarps and so far, no water has gotten in (yet…knock on wood). The past two weekends have been about building the bulkheads back up, starting with mixing, shoveling and forming cement for their base.

It is not a glamorous job or a glamorous house update but someone, namely Lou, has to do it. Because the mason wouldn’t help and we refuse to pay anyone and like they could do as good a job as Lou anyhow:

bulkhead close-up

I mean look at this concrete work. Top notch.*

*I learned tonight that the second cement pour of the first bulkhead entry is, and I quote, “Not so good.” It was said that I should have been there for so it wouldn’t look like crap. I’ll take a compliment when I hear one. I am really good at adding water and tamping that shit down. But I’m just happy this ugly bulkhead is still usable. You can’t undo concrete.

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The prettiest battleship

Months ago, I mentioned we were looking at some cheery colors to paint the house. Well, after putting several rounds of paint samples on the house and waiting on the painter, the weather, and the painter some more, the house is finally painted. It took tons of work, scraping and washing and scraping again, repairing boards and filling cracks, but it needed it, and the painters did a really nice job. And really, I’m just happy someone else had to paint it, as I paint everything else on this property.

Our neighborhood is full of colorfully-painted houses – there’s obviously no historical society around these parts to make sure everything is some colonial beige or plantation taupe. And while it seemed a little risky to paint this giant house a super-dark color, it was what Lou and I both envisioned for most of the time. Every time we tried a lighter shade of grey (and let’s be honest, grey was the only color we tried, minus one navy shade which still had grey undertones) we just wanted to go a little darker.

We ended up with Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze as the body color, which is also what’s in our bedroom…I guess we like it. It’s a dark grey with brownish-bronze undertones, and it looks good in both shadows and sunlight. The trim (porch railings, under the eaves, and beads at the top of the house) is a dark graphite color and the columns, the beams under the eaves, and the horizontal boards that go around the top of the house are white. And the red-orange door – Benjamin Moore’s Vermillion – adds a bold, fresh pop of color.

As we were deciding on what trim to paint what color, it eventually became too confusing to really envision fully – at least for me. And so I handed it over to Lou, who seemed to envision exactly how the house should look. Well, almost handed all of it over. If Lou had his way, he would have painted every inch of the house Urbane Bronze, making it one giant, monotone battleship. So we compromised. We painted the ugly metal window trim the body color to make it recede (Lou’s victory) and the columns and a few other details white (my victory). The windows themselves are still white and create some lightness, and the dark railings balance it all out.

prettiest_battleshipAnd while the painter’s initial comment when he saw the dark grey we chose was – in an Irish accent – “Oh, it’s go-ing to bay a gi-unt battleship!” he ended up really liking it. Or maybe that was just the final check we handed him talking.

Anyhow, I think it’s the prettiest of battleships.

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It’s just a fence

What’s worse than painting? How about, painting a fence? For two long hot, humid weekends? By yourself, because you are just no Tom Sawyer.

In the months after we first moved in, a couple good storms came and knocked down a section of our fence. At least, that’s how I remember it. And we spent a freezing cold night propping the fence back up, and there it’s sat, propped up by a couple 2x4s ever since.

Until a few weekends ago, when we finally replaced the fence around the majority of our yard. It was a fairly big debate about something that seems easy. We could go cheap and ugly. We could go cheap and low quality but not quite as ugly. We could go mid-range and be kind of satisfied but not really. We could go high end, and pay for it, and really have a lovely fence we liked looking at from far up high on our second floor. All of these options, of course, are assuming we do the fencing ourselves, me and Lou, because that’s how we do. The option of “pay someone else to do the fence” is not even really up for discussion, because, third floor bathroom/third floor floors/gutters/roof(?).

sampling

Sampling…

We went around and around on board type and stain color and board type and stain color and finally settled on the prettier, pricier boards. What, were you expecting anything less?

We did pay someone to remove the old fence and set the new posts but that’s where the help stopped.

STACKED BOARDS

About 100 boards were delivered, between 12′ and 18′ in length, and piled in our yard. We started on Labor Day weekend, and labored until the end of Monday in unusually warm, humid conditions. We did the same laboring the following weekend, in even hotter conditions.

Lou was in charge of measuring, cutting, and routing the ends for a nice edge. Then the boards came to me, and I was in charge of rolling stain on all sides of the board, then immediately wiping it in/off before it dried. Which basically had to happen in a matter of 120 seconds in the heat. What started as a desire for drip-free perfection soon morphed into the mantra, “It’s just a fence.” Well, one of us was saying that…

It was rough. Maybe it was the monotony. Maybe it was the heat Maybe it was other peoples labor day weekend photos. Maybe it was being in our once-green-lush-backyard now a dirt patch thanks to a summer of painters and fence boards living on it.

It was all of it. And more. Now it’s all but done. Just need a gate to keep the critters in. And here’s a photo dump so I can feel like I complained to someone and get all these photos off my phone. Thanks for listening.

SWEATY LOU

Sweating.

STAINED LEGS

Stain.

STAINED ENDS

Stain where it’s supposed to go. Kind of.

MORE ENDS LOU IN CHAIR

Time out.

LEVELER

The most level, precise, well-built fence in Boston.

JUST BEGINNING

So far to go.

GLOVES N BEER

FIRST SECTION LOU FENCE UNDER TREES

Looking good. 

BOARDS C-U BOARDS

Boards for days.

BEERS ON BOARDS

Coozies from a pre-homeownership life. What’s that like?

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Putting the Pain in Painting

Years ago, I used to actually do those weight machines at the gym – the ones where you push and pull and lift to work various arm and shoulder muscles, while always thinking the seat just might collapse out from under you at any moment. Then, as time went by, I just started doing a few push-ups and planks here and there, along with a few 10-pound dumbbells. Not even 15 reps, 3 times, but like, 10 measly lifts with each arm and we’re out.
But the last couple years I’ve done minimal arm work. Like, they swing when I run. They lift my laptop. Maybe a beer. And yet, every now and then, someone comments on my toned arms. Which, I find funny (and let’s be honest, relieving). The reason they are not flapping in the breeze when I wave? One word:
Painting.
paint can beer can

Paaaaaaiiiinting. I have to whine when I say it. Thinking about it, I hate it. And yet, it’s  the one home improvement task I can do on my own, start to finish, no Lou help involved. So even though I want to hate it, I have to own it. And therefore, I have to love it. Or at least, like it.

It’s taken a couple years, but I can say I’ve actually gotten better at painting. I know, it’s not like math or brain surgery, but you have to at least give a shit about your technique. And I finally started giving a shit. More care. Fewer drips – on the floor and on the walls themselves. A steadier hand on the trim (and there is a LOT of trim).

Most recently, I’ve been up on the 3rd floor. And I have to say, it’s the best floor, especially now that it’s almost all painted.

What started as a dusty pink hallway and rooms with dirty-white walls and beige-green trim…

gross paint 1
gross paint 2

…is now bright white (duh) and light and airy and waiting for someone to donate a Scandinavian’s apartment’s worth of furnishings.

post-painting2

And here’s one with the refinished floors! That’s another post.

pretty room

So if you’ve been wondering (and I’m sure you have been) what’s happening over at the old Deep Eaves, that’s it. I’m on the third floor, priming and painting away. Actually, first, patching away the holes the amazing, first-rate, top-notch ass hats left in our walls after insulating.

Can nobody do anything right these days???

*Some of the third floor – the part that looks really nice – was done by Dad, who volunteered to help paint while out here on vacation. Painting should not be a vacation.

**None of the third floor was done by Reggie.

painting helper
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Rebuilding the calluses

Getting back to work after a few months off is hard. Really hard. Really, really hard. Not that we didn’t know that, but after so many Saturdays and Sundays not working, we’re moving slowly. But we’re moving! So there’s that.

Image

We tore down the bulkheads that cover the entrances to the basement. They’re “trash” as Lou says.

Image

And trash is where they went. Oh look! Our friend is back!

Image

All this ruckus caused a little concern and confusion.

Image

Meanwhile, at the front of the house, those of us who could not tear apart bulkheads did what we do best: painted.

 

 

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Spring colors

Spring has not sprung in New England. But that doesn’t matter. We’re still excited to try out some lovely colors on the exterior of this old, brown, peeling lady. 

Image

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