Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This is *really* Halloween

Not having our Halloween stuff was really making me sad.. But once we got past the fact that there was no way we could do a big haunted house in our brand new basement I had only one goal for this year: I wanted a ghost in the window. We might have picked up a few spiders and demons and ghoulies also.. but it's really all about the ghost.

We had a ghost at our old house.. her name was Victoria. The neighborhood kids LOVED her! They would ask all year long if she was gonna be back. And after we moved they asked if she would still be there after we were gone. Sadly, Victoria probably hasn't made an appearance, but we have a different ghost at our new place

The new ghost doesn't have a name yet, but Henrietta likes to keep her company in the window. Maybe next year we'll have a ghost in the window AND one haunting our basement :D

Here's a spooky shot of some demons

And a couple videos

I thank my lucky stars for my madscientist every day.. among other reasons because without him I would be SUCH a crazy cat lady! But who can blame me?! how cute is this?!:

If you're anywhere near Oakland, CA this weekend, please join us in our old 'hood for the 3rd Annual Ghost Town Halloween Haunt. With all our stuff in storage there won't be quite so much in the way of decorations.. but there will be a bouncy house, a dj, and count 'em TWO snow cone machines! It's a day of fun for kids that could really use it. More details here

hazardous waste

I've been dreading dealing with the scary pile of hazardous goop we found in the house.. Even with all our dumpsters and runs to the dump there were things that really needed special handling. It's all been sitting on the floor of the garage, but since I still have hopes of starting the foundation work soon, it had to go!

So I finally loaded everything up in the truck and brought it over to one of the Alameda County Hazardous Waste Facilities. It was by far the easiest thing I've done at the new house!

When I pulled up, I hopped out of the truck to start pulling things out, or at least pointing things out.. and I got chastised! "We can handle it, you don't need to do anything," I was told. From pulling up, giving them the form (which they had copies of on a clipboard, in case I hadn't printed it out beforehand.. and it's very short.. only has about 3 lines to fill out) and driving off took under 5 minutes.

Is it wrong of me to wish everything was more like the hazardous waste??

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fresh hot water

We're getting bids from other foundation contractors, but may wind up going with our original one after all.. hopefully that will be sorted out in the next couple weeks. In the meantime, it was suggested that our old water heater, while full of personality, would probably not survive the jostling of the concrete being broken up on all sides of it. We plan to put in a tankless hot water heater, but will need to redo much of the supply lines before that can happen, and a nice solid wall to mount it to would help as well. In the meantime, 10 minutes on craigslist turned up the perfect, lightly used, plenty-of-life-left-in-it hot water heater for $50. The couple we bought it from had just finished work on their house and it was easier for them to get a new water heater in the new spot and get it all hooked up before they took out the old one. It worked out perfectly all around.

While I got the last bits of stuff out of the basement, Dan hooked up the shiny, new-to-us water heater. Look at those shiny supply lines! (don't look too much at the exhaust line.. it's temporary, and does the job for now)

Here's something I didn't know.. when they're first hooked up and lit, they often drip. for awhile.. long enough for us to have the "did you tie it down in the car or did it get whacked around on the way home?" and "are you sure they said it didn't leak when they pulled it out??" conversations a couple times, along with the "how late is home despot open tonight?" conversation. And long enough for it to put out the dainty little pilot light! But right there on the side in a big, bold sticker it said essentially that it's a feature, not a bug:

The water heater we pulled out was actually not that old.. it even had an energy star sticker that put it at about the same efficiency as the new one! But apparently rat pee isn't any better for water heaters than it is for our noses.

So we had a couple nice, hot showers in nice, fresh water!

Monday, October 15, 2007

This is Halloween..

It somehow doesn't surprise people to hear Halloween is our favorite holiday. And for the last few years we've gone from decorating our house...

this is our old house-> having a little haunted house in our driveway (pictures here), to blocking off the whole block and throwing a street fair with our neighbors (lots of pix, & some video here). We'll be headed back to the old 'hood to help give out some costumes and paint some faces, but we had to take advantage of the fact that Chez Neumansky looks so much like a haunted house already that the neighbor kids dare each other to go near it. We were hoping that the foundation would be done by now and we'd have a nice, empty dry space that we could set up a cool haunted house.. but no such luck.. All our Halloween stuff is in storage and the foundation work hasn't even started. At least we don't have to feel bad about how shabby the house looks, with the front stairs falling in and the paint peeling.. it's like we spent months getting it ready to look spooky!

A few strategically placed pumpkins and a demon go a long way.. And we should have a little something extra in the front window by the end of the month :D

The gargoyles on the sides of the stairs got stolen, which bums me out.. but in our old neighborhood they'd've been gone much faster. It was sort of test.. oh well.

About that foundation.. we were hoping to get started today, but on Friday we got the final quote based on the final, approved plans.. after the nausea passed we went back through to try to pick out the parts that we could do ourselves, and the parts that might be able to wait. We had a few estimates months ago, but now that we have all the details we need to to get a couple other bids.

So there's nothing to do but enjoy the most magical time of the year!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

No More Stinky House!!! we hope...

¯Stinky house, stinky house,

its not your fault!!!!¯

So, as most of you know our house STANK when we bought it. I mean, make you gag, run outside for air, dry heaving STANK! We've torn open lots of walls and removed lots of rats nests and sprayed our magic de-stanking solution far and wide. The house smells pretty good, but there was still a waft of nasty funk coming from the vague vicinity of the pocket doors. We've been combating this mostly by keeping a couple of windows open in each room and hoping the smell would go away... Well, with the turn in the weather we've been forced to close most of the windows in the house.

First, it was our bedroom window (we were scared) on a Friday night, but lo and behold no stank in the bedroom the next morning (we slept in)! Next, we closed the windows in the kitchen.... no stank!! Then, we closed the transom window and the windows in our front room... dang, some stank... the area of our pocket doors was still funky.

So, guess what I got to do? Yes, knock into the walls and dig around for nasty, disgusting rats nests! The pocket door looked mostly clean from peeking into the opening, but there was definitely funk coming from inside the pocket. I knocked a small hole in the wall (this side of the doors was drywalled) and dug around inside. Waaaaaay way in the back around a corner I hit stinky gold!!

Yep, just look at this bag of yummy, yummy, yummy rats nest. The best part was that I was up to my shoulder in the wall reaching around blindly pulling this stuff out. I thought for sure that I was going to stick my finger through a gooey decomposing rat.. but rats, no such luck...

I soaked the cavity with the de-stinking solution so much so that it rained down below on Irene! She wasn't so super happy about that... but its been a couple of days now and it appears that we've beat the nefarious smell.

And Now For Some Crazy Cat Person Pics!
When we are working on the house we can't have the cats getting underfoot so we have to lock them in a room. Since the double G's stole our bedroom door the only room that we can lock the cats in is our bathroom!

Here's what our punk ass cat Henrietta likes to do to the toilet paper!!
Just look at her she's sticking her tongue out at us!!
Look at that guilty look on her face!!

This one's hilarious, our other cat cowering in the corner getting snowed on.
She looks guilty doesn't she?

Here's a close-up shot of the mess they made. That was a full roll of toilet paper before they started.
This wouldn't bother us so much except that it looks like a, you guessed it, RATS NEST!!!!

That's all for now still waiting for our contractor to get back to us on a re-worked quote for foundation work.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

We are so goth, Azrael

Still waiting to get started on the foundation, but the light we've been eying in a catalog for about 7 years, but never thought we'd actually ever have any place to put, just arrived! So this afternoon we got rid of one more ugly light.

Here's the entryway Before

Here's Dan getting the wires ready

And here he is putting the finishing touches on our cool light.. there were a whole lot of steps in between, but I was holding the light up from the other side of the ladder during most of it, and I'm just not coordinated enough to hold something that heavy and still snap a pic. Besides, this way it makes it look like we're just that good that it only takes 5 minutes to put in a light!

Here's our much grander entryway After

And a closeup of the cool gargoyles (click the photo to zoom in). I think the ones on the bottom look like monkeys, which makes Dan keep asking what I have against monkeys.. it's not bad, I've just never seen monkey gargoyles before.

It's a little on the big side for our not-giant entryway.. but it looks really nice. We only used 2 links from the 4' chain it came with so no one will knock their head against it coming down the stairs. All you can see from outside are the nice Victorian glass shades, which look perfect!

That's it for now! next stop, Halloween!!!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

We got our Permits!!!


The planning and building department called this morning, and we officially have a building permit for our foundation redo!! We are still waiting on the Major Design Review from the planning and zoning department, but we think that will come through today also.

Our contractor hasn't seen the most recent version of the plans (finished Friday), so we need to get that to him so he can redo the quote to reflect the actual work. Plus, he needs to fit us into his schedule since he's been waiting on us for months! We hope to be finished by the time the real rains start, usually around the beginning of November, so we're just barely within the window of time where that's still possible.