Friday, October 19, 2012

The Good the Bad and the Beautiful

I went to see Mr. Fix It (Michael of FITT Therapy) yesterday. He told me my back problems were due to the fact that my sacroiliac joint was out of place. The SI joint is right were your butt and back meet. The muscles all around it were super tight.  Yes, you heard right—expert medical opinion is that I have a tight ass.  Anyway, he popped the joint back in place. I made a sound like this, “Aaaaaiiiieeeeeeee!” Hurt like hell but it feels SO much better now.

The way the house was leveled is kind of cool. They use a tool called a Zip Level. It’s a box attached to a roll of cord. The cord is filled with liquid. They put the box in one corner of the house and set it as ground zero.

At the end of the cord is another small box. When put in another corner of the house, it reads the pressure difference in the water and tells you the height difference between the two spots. Neat-o.


The day after my last post the kitchen was leveled. In the process, the drain pipe below the kitchen sink broke in half. It’s an old cast iron pipe. The house came up three inches but the pipe in the ground wouldn’t budge. It ripped in half like the Titanic. When it happened, the workmen noticed a big hole in the same pipe a foot away from the break. All the water that’s gone down my kitchen drain or was used in the dishwasher for the last year went into the dirt under my house instead of into the sewer. Sucks that the pipe broke, but at least it made me aware of a problem.


Side of my house ripped open and new drain pipe installed.
Closed up with new cleanout. Do you think my house needs to be painted?
The pipes in the front bathroom didn't break, but they were rattled enough that there are little leaks now. The plumber gave me a quote for the repairs, but said for $1,500 he would replace all the old galvanized pipes with pvc. I was quoted $8,000 for the same job when I bought the house. It is much easier to do when the skirting is off the house. I am going to do it. Here's the immediate to-do list:

Replace pipes/fix leaks;
Then the stucco skirting goes back on;
Then the cracks inside the house get fixed (and at the same time the ugly bathroom cabinet comes out).

I got a new (old) stove. I traded my non-working 1950s O’Keefe and Merritt for a perfectly working late 1920s Chambers. For the first time in a year, I have a working stove. There are a couple websites dedicated to vintage Chamber's stoves. They had features that are just being introduced into modern stoves today. They are so well insulated that the gas shuts off and they continue cooking and can hold the temperature for hours. The sales pitch was "Cook with the gas turned off!"

There's a 1920s stove in my 1920s house. Cream with sage green trim. My kitchen walls are sage green. It just belonged in my house. I think it’s happy to be here because everything I have cooked on it has come out perfect!

The autostat
Original knobs (hehe, I said "knobs")

Monday, October 15, 2012

Diary of a House Leveling (Abridged Version)

Crack in front bedroom.

If I had kept a daily diary of the process of leveling my house it would look something like this. I didn’t, so I’m making some guesses on the actual days/dates, but you get the idea.

Day 1: The fence came down, the stucco skirting was removed. My house is being supported by orange jacks and there are holes being dug.

Days 2-5: Rain delay.

Days 6, 8, 12, 14, 15: The holes get deeper and the pile of dirt in the yard gets bigger.

Day 16: Concrete supposed to be poured but the pump truck breaks. I am beginning to get stressed which causes me to develop a spasm in my lower back on the left side. (*spasm*)

Days 17-22: Sub-contractor scheduling delays. (*spasm*) 

Crack in front bathroom.

Day 23: Attempt at concrete pouring. Hose keeps clogging. Pump truck guys accuse concrete guys of using the wrong mix. Concrete guys accuse pump truck guys of having low-powered pump. It almost comes to blows. They empty all the concrete onto my front lawn. Part of it washes into my neighbor’s driveway. Concrete is remixed, pumped and poured. I’m promised the concrete in my yard will be removed. (*spasm*) (*spasm*)

Day 24: The dog escapes. I have to insist that the concrete is cleaned out of my neighbor’s driveway. (*spasm*) (*spasm*) 

Day 25: The dog escapes. (*spasm*) (*spasm*) 

Day 26: The dog escapes.(*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) 

Day 28: The beam work starts. Most of the concrete is removed from my lawn but there is a thin grey film over 1/2 of it. (*spasm*)  (*spasm*)  (*spasm*) 

Day 30: A worker cuts the gas line with a sawzall. Luckily there were no sparks so neither the workers nor my house were blown sky high. A plumber is sent out to repair it. (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*)  

Day 31: A worker cuts the water line. The plumber comes back out and repairs it. (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*)  

Day 32: Rain delay.

Day 34: Beam work continues.

Crack in kitchen. There used to be a window here. It wasn't framed in properly when it was removed. My laundry room is on the other side of the wall.

Day 35: First day of actual leveling starts. I watch HUNDREDS of small and several DOZEN large cracks appear in the walls. (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) 

Day 36: The dog escapes.

Day 37: More leveling. More giant cracks. (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) (*spasm*) 

Day 39 (today): As I get ready to leave for work, the final beam is being installed. Later today the leveling is scheduled to continue. There is a chance it will be completed today or tomorrow.

After the leveling is done, the inspector will have to come out. Then the skirting replaced. Then work will move to the interior. I had hoped the cracks would be small enough that some mud and a can of texture would do the job. No such luck. Entire pieces of sheetrock will need to be replaced. The texture sprayer will have to be brought in. Major repainting will have to happen. There is going to be dust and mess in my house for quite a while.

The bottom half of the same crack.

I know it will all be worth it when it's done but this has been a major pain in the ass--literally! At this point I think my left leg is shorter than my right and I will probably limp around like the crooked man in his crooked house on crooked lane for the rest of my life--only my house will be perfectly level. (*sigh*)

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Escape Artist

Part of the fence was removed to give the workers access to the foundation. The skirting has also been removed allowing anything that can fit under the house free access to the back yard from the front and vice versa. I have used all kinds of things--storage sheds, planks, rugs, wheel barrows, etc.--to block off the exits so Roni doesn't go wandering.

For three weeks, this worked fine. This week, she decided that she wanted to see the world. She has gotten out three times that I am aware of. Each time, I think I found the way she escaped and shored it up. But she keeps getting out! I owe several thank you cards to friendly neighbors who found her in the streets and called.

Luckily C has been able to go retrieve her each time. He set up a camera to recreate the crime.

I thought perhaps she got out out here.

Or here.

 It was much easier. Please excuse the sideways view. I couldn't figure out how to rotate the video.

This morning she pulled the lattice off the bottom of the deck and escaped again. She somehow pulled the nails out of the wood. Did I mention that she is incredibly good at problem solving? I think she just gets bored when I'm not home.

I am afraid she is going to get run over, or get in a fight with another dog, or that I won't find her. I practically had a panic attack the first time I came home and she was gone. I found her in the neighbors yard two houses down. This morning a neighbor down the street found her. Thursday she made it two streets over before being rescued.

C says her name should be Hairy Houdini. I will be so happy when the fence and skirting are back in place.

Day 7,834 of my captivity. Today I almost escaped, but they tracked me down before I could meet up with the getaway car.