Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Pop--Somebody Needs to Pimp Your Ride"

I love my truck...It is a beat up Toyota Tacoma with 270K miles on it. It has been a true partner in the home rehabilitation process--carrying everything I ask it to:

40-20 foot long 5/8 inch rebar? No problem...First, take the car seat for the kid and place it on the top of the cab. Then lay the rebar on the seat and have it overhang the front and back bumpers. Next tie rebar to the front and back bumpers. Finally, take rope and tie the seat an rebar through the cab...Oh yeah, make sure you tie the doors "shut" so you have to crawl through a window. Don't bother with the red-flag thingy--it'll just fall off anyway. And viola! You are on your way...Who needs a lumber rack?

When you have a truck like this, you don't have to worry about keeping it nice and clean...And little things like missing hubcaps, broken windshields, scratches, and compressed cabs (from the rebar), only add least I think so. My 9 year old son, however, thinks differently.

A few weeks back, I picked up the kids from school in the ol' beast--filled with a load for a trip to the dump. I had a soda with me too. After finishing the soda, I tossed it between my son's legs on the floor in the passenger section--a perfectly natural thing to do. My son looks up at me and says, "That's digusting. Somebody really needs to pimp your ride!"

Kids. They can't really appreciate some of the finer things in life--like a truck that does everything you ask of it, that requires no upkeep, that starts everytime I turn the key. When he gets older, he'll learn...that there is nothing finer than a beat up old truck.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Love and Hate. But Mostly Love

I recently posted this on another site, but since this is my blog and I’m trying to chronicle the highs and lows of our rehabilitation process, I thought I’d re-post this here…you know, for honesty sake. But for the record, I’m feeling much better about our situation today….really. No, I mean it. I really feel better. Truly…..

File this one under pissin' & moanin':

We just passed our 5 year mark (after 8 years on a previous restoration) on the ol' ball and chain. The outside is almost complete (sans landscaping), but the inside is gutted downstairs and we have miles to go before we sleep...comfortably upstairs.

I'm tired. I don't like my house right now. I want my friends back. I want my wife back . I want to go flyfishing again. I want to know what it is like to not spend every penny on the house. I want a vacation. I want to know it will be worth it. I want to entertain and have people over. I want to know what it feels like to "not have anything to do." I want to go to work on a Monday and not have paint on my person. I want to have clothes that don't have some reminder of the house on them. I want people to ask me other things besides "how's the house coming?"

I want to know who these three little children are running around the gutted spot that used to be our kitchen...and for god's sake who took my small babies that we had when we first moved into this place? I want to go to their soccer games and not look like a poor/ragged/homeless person (because I wear my work clothes all weekend). I want to remember what it felt like to get up on a weekend and take a shower (rather than saying "why bother, your going to be filthy within an hour") and stay clean all day. Most of all, I want to remember what it was like not to have crusty boogies all the time.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Getting All High and Mighty

"Therefore when we build, let us think that we build forever. Let us not be for present delight, nor for present use alone, let it be for such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, "See! this our fathers did for us."
John Ruskin
I was given a set of old books that belonged to my father-in-law that covered the basics of home construction (from a 1920’s point of view). The books are great and as I skimmed through them I read the preface which had the above quote…It put in perspective why the many hours, too much money, and all the cuts and bruises are being expended on this project…. I hope, in a small way, I am giving thanks to those who built, with hands unknown, what once was (and will be again) a gift to the street.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Laying Down The Corner Stone

Some people have such a profound impact on your life that they change the course of your life. My father-in-law, Jim, opened my eyes to many aspects of life, one being an appreciation for old homes and learning the craft it takes to bring one back to life.

When we purchased our first house, it was a run-down piece o crap. But it was a house we could afford--and Jim said he would help me "fix it up." Jim's home was a spectacular Victorian that he completely restored on his own, so how could I go wrong?

Jim and I spent the next five or six years restoring this home. And over the course of those years, we got to know each other on a more personal level. I began to not only appreciate his skill as a person who could do anything he put his mind to, but also as a patient teacher and mentor--who seemed willing to put up with this novice's lack of skill so long as I gave it a good effort.

When we outgrew our home, and we looked for another to fix up, I recall sitting with Jim in the living room of what would become our next home--an 1881 Italianate--and asking him if he thought we could bring this home back to life. Nothing was impossible for Jim. "Sure," I recall him saying..."we can do it." And so we took the plunge.

The home was a disaster--in the beginning: Stripped of most of its architectural details, and covered over in layers of asphalt siding and stucco, it was a home that needed a tremendous amount of work to bring it back.

One defining element of Italianates are quoins--faux cornerstones, often made of wood. And sure enough, when the asphalt and stucco were removed, one could see the faint outline of the missing quoins...One day, I thought, these will be replaced.

As a retired Colonel in the Marine Corp (serving as a pilot in WWII, Korea, andVietnam), it became easy to see why so many who served under Jim said he was a man of conviction, a man of honor, a man of integrity. But I never new Jim as a Colonel. I new Jim as a man I admired as being "true" in every sense of the word. Some may think it odd, but my father-in-law, became my best friend. I would have followed him anywhere.

We lost Jim this past July to cancer, but it is odd how I catch myself thinking of him while working away on the house. This past weekend, it was time to replace the last quoin. I again thought of Jim and how he brought me to this point. I started to place the quoin on the home and then pulled it back--and took it into the shop.

On the quoin I carved the following:

Dedicated To:
James W. Dillon
1881-2005 PW-PD

...And placed the cornerstone on our home.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Turn, Turn, Turn

To Everything
There is a season
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To Everything
There is a season
And a time for every purpose, under Heaven

Daylight savings, and I am now driving to work in the dark and coming home in the same. There are little opportunities to work on the outside of the house when I get home from my “real job.” I am reluctant to start tearing up the inside (more than it is already) without finishing up the outside first. And so I wait…for a weekend or a day off to finish the few remaining projects “that must get done” before I can change seasons.

That being said, this year will mark a turning point:

This rainy season will be the first year when our home has not leaked (knock on wood) in the five years we have lived under its roof. This will be our first year we won’t have pots and pans catching the rain water when the winds blow from the south. The first year without exposed wood, and leaky windows. The first year when we completed more construction than destruction. The seasons are changing indeed.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Money For Nothin'

The Wife and I had the talk...You know, the one where you try to squeeze blood from a turnip...The one where you try to figure out how to get money out of thin air. Do you know that talk? Although our government can somehow defy basic economic logic of money in should equal money out, I still have not figure out how "they" can get money from nothin. I'm trying to be responsible with our money... you know, not go bankrupt--stuff like that.

While going through the restoration process, I have heard (and know) of couples that have not survived the experince and ending up in a divorce. While we are extremely lucky that we are in this together and have both been on the same page throughout this entire ordeal, one can easily see how the issue of money (and the way it seems to disappear out of your pocket at astonishing speed during a restoration) could cause problems. I am lucky. Through thick and thin--we are in it together.

Money is a deceptively seductive temptress...what she gives to you for one thing, she takes away an equal amount from something else. When I buy a window, I can't afford food...That's just wrong. Money is evil that way...Some say yin/yang. I say yada yada yada.

In the meantime, I'm still trying to figure out how to get money for nothin'.