Saturday, 26 December 2009

The evidence

The fact that there is no chimney at the Tall House has been the subject of many bedtime chats between myself and our little Superhero.


Little Superhero: What if HE can't make it in, Mummmyyyyy?

Mummmyyyyy: Well, then he'll use the door.

Little Superhero (shaking his head vehemently with panic in his voice): No, nooo cause that would be like stealing!


Well, Santa, being the ingenious fellow that he is, did indeed find a way in. The big guy chose to make his entrance through the skylight in the top floor bathroom. We know this because on Christmas morning, his big brown eyes the size of saucers, our little Superhero himself discovered a torn piece of Santa's coat wedged in the skylight's opening.


Although we are as yet uncertain how this happened, we have discussed it at great length. And the general consensus is that perhaps our favorite man in red sampled one too many cookies while delivering gifts to the previous good boy's and girl's houses, making that opening well, really quite tight.


But what will become of Santa's coat? Well our Little Superhero has hidden away the two precious, ripped pieces for safe keeping until next year. "So that then we can give it back to HIM, and that way Mrs Clause can fix it!"


Of course there were presents under the tree, and stockings, and a feast. But they are already a fading memory. Because this year we discovered that Santa really does exist. A dear little five year old boy holds the proof. And that will never, ever be forgotten.


Merry Christmas everyone, from the Tall House to yours.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Well, what I saw coming a mile away sadly happened. No amount of panic on my part, seemed to imprint on Manu the importance of getting heat to the basement.

-The pipes are going to freeze.

- No they won't.


Manu, having wisely preferred to live at home during his early adulthood rather than rough it in student apartment squalor, was sadly oblivious to the facility with which pipes in northern climes freeze. The fact that I had all too much experience in this domain didn't sway him in the least.

-The basement bathroom is flanked by two outside walls just like pre-yuppie apartment X, where the pipes froze every winter. And I was LIVING there.

-Maybe so, but OUR pipes won't freeze.


So even when I started waking up at night, descending flashlight in hand into the basement, clad in my PJ's and using my work boots as slippers, to run the water for a few minutes in a vain attempt at preventing the ice from accumulating in the pipes, Manu didn't budge.

-If we re hook-up the wall heater in the bathroom the pipes won't freeze.

-The pipes aren't going to freeze.


But then the temperature took a turn decidedly south. And the block heater finally got relocated to the basement. But it was too late. The pipes froze. And burst.


I was too bummed even to mutter "I told you so". The mess, the money wasted, not to mention the potential can of worms that this little mishap may uncover, squelched any sort of satisfaction I may have had at being right. And Manu's penance was paid ten fold while trying to install temporary valves to cut off the water supply to the basement bathroom.


But next time, I won't wait for a unanimous decision before calling the electrician, plumber or even the damned candlestick maker. From now on, when it comes to averting disaster autocracy rules.


Queen Frozenpipes has spoken.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The dust clouds behind the plastic sheeting.

The dust, not content to invade every nook and cranny of the Tall House, has branched out to the neighbour's. And they are hopping mad. I must say I can't blame them. It's bad enough for us, but we created it. Nobody wants to have to deal with our second hand dust. Like second hand smoke, second hand dust is extremely irritating mostly because the person on whom it is inflicted has absolutely no say in the matter.


Unfortunately, in all the excitement of last week, we forgot one very crucial element: we didn't warn Daniel and Donald that the bricks needed to be sawed in order to make way for the doors. And of course the weather was unseasonably warm for November, and of course their windows were wide open, and of course that red brick dust went flying through, and of course the damn stuff stains. So most of their weekend, apparently, was spent cleaning up after us.


What pains me the most is that Daniel has been a brick, no pun intended, throughout the whole process, patiently taking all our banging and debris in stride. And of course we adore Donald, he of the Halloween cakes, jams and marmalade. Neither deserve to have their home invaded by the red plague.


So Manu has offered, at least, to help clean up Daniel's terrace and I will try and soften them up with liquor. Not the hard stuff, just a bottle of wine. But I think I'd better make it a good one.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Little Superhero (holding up his toy sword): Mummyyyyy, I can't find the scaffolding for my wizard sword.


Mummy: ...


Mummy: ...


Mummy: Oh, you mean the scabbard.


Little Superhero: Oh yeah, that's what I meant.


Mummy: ...


Little Superhero: ...


Little Superhero: Mummyyyyyyyyy, I knew that. It's just that scaffolding is a word I hear more often.


Mummy: ...

Friday, 20 November 2009

Manu attacking the back door shed

A bonus from the shed: old boards that will be repurposed elsewhere in the house

RIP the shed

The brick having been sawed, the left opening is ready for the door frame

PF and Louis looking rather biblical while they install the first frame

The first door is in! View from the backyard

So much light

They're in!

What a week. I worked away stripping the stairs, I cleaned the exposed brick wall (yet again), Manu and I demolished the small shed off the basement back door, we put up a whole wall's worth of gyp rock... but it all faded into the background because this week was the week that the doors were installed!


Having paid a pretty penny for these lovely portes françaises we happily handed the job over to the very capable hands of Pierre. Mister organization himself, Pierre had the mason lined up the day after we took delivery and as an added bonus our two favorites Louis and PF would be doing the job.


We enjoy Louis and PF's company so much that we tend to forget that they are at the Tall House because we pay them. They are so easy to talk too and such a wealth of knowledge that time tends to slip by as we chat away together. It probably doesn't make for very good accounting but it certainly makes the job so much more fun. And as we are surrounded with friends and acquaintances who have all to many many contractor horror stories to tell, we count ourselves very, very lucky.


So it wasn't at all surprising to see how much the guys shared my enthusiasm for the new doors. That Thursday afternoon when I came home and saw the first door installed they were as excited as I was. And I was excited. My voice went up two octaves, I was jumping up and down, I was flushed, and I must have called Manu about six times. The doors looked incredible. They changed the whole space. They changed the whole house! By this time the guys were jumping up and down too with PF pointing out all the marvels of the state of the art hardware and the solid construction. They lock! They open! They swivel! You'd think we'd won the lotto.


Having decided that they'd had enough excitement for one day, and with the winter daylight hours being as limited as they are, PF and Louis cut out early, leaving me alone to contemplate the wondrous new additions. Because they were just that special, I popped open a bottle of wine and poured myself a glass. And there among the sawdust, the power tools, the sheets of gyp rock and the mess I sat in the thrift store chair and I felt like a queen. 


And then I couldn't stand it any longer, I called Manu. Just one more time.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The first frame makes its arrival. 

The boarded up openings. 
Good for keeping people out. Bad for letting sunlight in.

Even as we begrudgingly left our bed at the ungodly hour, dictated by the Princess, of 5:30, we could feel the excitement in the air. The doors were arriving today! The oh so unsightly, ghetto fabulous, boarded up openings would soon be a thing of the past. And in their place would reign our sole real, over the top, luxurious expense. The main floor dynamic duo! The king and queen of portals! The pair of aces! Or, our truly grand french doors. 


Because when it came down to it we could have chosen some run of the mill, sliding, big box store, patio door. And to be honest, that was probably what was more in keeping with our budget. We also could have been just slightly reasonable and gone with just one set. But then what would all the sacrifice be for? Perhaps we would have been finished a little sooner. And perhaps we would not have had to do so much ourselves. But despite my recent complaining, we really have been enjoying the process. To be active participants in the making of our dream house makes us extremely proud and is hugely gratifying.


So we splashed out a little, well a lot. We decided against the Payless and went for the Prada. But he Tall House will thank us for it every time we set foot on that floor. And believe me, the old gal is worth it.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Click on image to enlarge

Okay. Its starting to get to us. Well to me mostly, Manu is still holding on strong. I find myself falling asleep at night, fantasizing about a finished house. I miss knowing where to find things. I miss cleanliness. I miss being able to have friends over. I miss having free time. And more importantly, I miss that wonderful, relaxing moment when you walk through the door and that you are greeted by the lovely, calm, soothing interior of home.


And although decorating shows, blogs and magazines offer a modicum of escape they still can't replace that wonderful moment of shear contentment, because "aaaah, you're home".


So never one to give up (and frankly, as one completely obsessed), I went back over the old photos of when we bought the Tall House. And hey, we have come a long way, baby, indeed. For what I saw in those old pictures was scary, and compared to our present conditions, frankly unlivable. Granted there are still holes in the walls, but we have a gorgeous bathroom (95% finished), the kids have really cool bedrooms (again 90-95% finished), we have a flat out fantastic 4Th story landing (my favorite spot, bar-none in the Tall House), we have a very elegant, antique staircase... And that all important main floor is moving ahead slowly but oh so surely.


So, while I find the time to take some pictures of the changes that we have made 'til now, take a look at what we fell hook line and sinker for, or what our house inspector (obviously a man after our own hearts) termed our diamond in the rough.



One of the key selling features, a skylight

The scary 3rd floor toilet

The even scarier 3rd floor bath

One of 4 bedrooms (notice the beautiful, old floorboards)

Another bedroom

The two front rooms that we merged together to create our bedroom(for now)

The 124 year old staircase

Apparently kitchens sell houses. Not in this case.

What one day will be our master bedroom

The crazy wallpaper in the office


The 1st floor entrance

The 1st floor bathroom (now gone)

The front 1st floor front room (now open plan living area)

The 1st floor back room (now open plan dining area)

The stairs leading to the basement
The thankfully now defunct shed



Monday, 9 November 2009

An art director, a real estate agent and an engineer disguised as drywallers.

The moaning lift

So on a dark and stormy Halloween morning I took the kids to their swimming lessons, while Manu, Fabio and Casanova attacked the dry wall. Armed with an old lift that was badly in need of oiling, the guys toiled away to the not so soothing but oh so fitting soundtrack of moaning metal. The Caz took over as chief of operations, being the only one with experience in the drywall domain. But what the crew lacked in knowledge they made up for in attention to detail. So despite having numerous tasks to tackle at their own dream houses, Fabio and Casanova spent the day at ours, working well past the first trick or treaters visit, making sure our ceiling was perfect.


Halloween on the Small Street is a site to behold. The houses are all decked out for the occasion in cobwebs, tombstones, bats and skeletons. And all manor of little Pirates, Princesses, Spidermen and Doras invade the sidewalks. The Small Street's reputation is such that children are even car pooled in from less magical streets for the occasion. But instead of moans and the rattling of chains, the air is filled with laughter and excited squeals of darling little creatures racing from house to house as their parents cheerily strike up conversations in their wake. Maradonna came by with his daughters, Emilie, looking like a cross between Jane Jetson and a Rockette brought her brood, Rose and her muscle-bound mini-Spiderman made an appearance... But most touchingly Daniel, his eldest daughter Lili and their wonderful tenant Donald stopped by with a basket of home made pumpkin goodies: Pumpkin bread, pumpkin marmalade, pumpkin butter a veritable cornucopia of Halloween goodness.


And although our Little Superhero only visited three houses, he has enough candy to last him until Christmas. For the wonderful young couple who live across the street from us had made super-sized Halloween care packages just for our kids. Two huge bags filled with candies of every description, gum and jellies and chocolate and lollipops - enough to put Willy Wonka to shame! - all tied up with orange ribbon and a pretty little Halloween card.


So this incredible chain of events had me thinking, was it Halloween or Thanksgiving? Because we had a lot to be thankful for indeed.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


Down the street, past the Poet's house, lives the incredible powerhouse known to us simply as Emilie. Emilie is the kind of woman that makes most of us wonder what we are all doing with our time. A mother of two small children, Emilie runs her own business, is active at her kids' school, has been the instigator (or in the very least the facilitator) of all manor of community projects AND as if this weren't enough she is now running for Independent Councillor of our Borough.


Despite her "independent" status, Emilie's campaign, like the woman herself, is extremely well organized. She has been everywhere and her posters are omnipresent. So much so that it has spawned a whole slew of questions from our Little Superhero: "Mummy look, there's Emilie on a poster! Look! there's another Emilie... Mummy...how come Emilie is everywhere? Mummy, what is a Borough? Mummy, what's an election?..."


Then after my short explanation, The Little Superhero came to the most extraordinary conclusion "Mummy, Emilie should win. Because she is REAL".


Of course what the little fellow meant was that he knew her and that she was not just a picture on a poster, that to him she was a real person. But the wisdom of five year olds is great. She is real. She speaks like a human being, not a politician. She is completely unencumbered by bureaucracy. And she wants a better neighbourhood for her family to grow up in.


Because she lives here. She has seen first hand the broken swings and slides that her children play on in the neighbouring parks (and she knows what parks to avoid), She has had her heart in her throat when the cars have sped by her house all too quickly while the kids played on the sidewalk, and she has sat up bolt upright in bed in the middle of hot summer nights, completely on edge, having mistaken a car's backfire for yet another shooting in the Hood.


But most importantly she is going to do something about it.


So if you are lucky enough to live in The Hood, this coming Sunday go out and vote for Emilie. You won't regret it. Really.


www.emiliebordat.com





Monday, 26 October 2009

There is nothing like a few sunny days to put everything right and to make the dust clouds disappear. So although we did very little on the house this weekend, the sun has re energized us and given us our second wind. While the Little Superhero and I prepped the exterior for Halloween and the Princess slept in her chariot, Manu took advantage of the time by calculating the amount of sheets of drywall (55!) that need to be ordered for next weekend's bee.


For if all goes right, our matinee idol named crew of two - Fabio and Casanova - will be making an appearance at the Tall House this coming Saturday and Sunday. Taking on the starring roles in Manu's Dry-Wall Installation Extravaganza.


And Hallelujah, Insha'Allah and God bless! The doors should be arriving on the 9Th of November. News that makes our hearts sing and our mouths water in anticipation, because these gorgeous hunks of metal, glass and wood will make all the difference in the world. Down will come the depressing temporary plywood boards and in will pour the cheery, life-affirming daylight. But more importantly, we will see if the finished space will live up to what we have been imagining all these years.


So although there is still a bunch of stuff left to do, we are moving forward. And even though we most certainly will not be finished by Christmas, the space will at least be air tight. And with the walls up, relatively dust free.

Sunday, 25 October 2009





The great advantage of living in an old house that has been all but abandoned for many years is that it comes pre-decorated for Halloween. Dilapidated victoriana? Check. Old cobwebs? Check. Boarded up, broken panes of glass? Check. For the Tall House's exterior is as much in need (if not more!) of TLC as the inside, but it being the season, we are all too happy to embrace the haunted house look. 


So on this beautiful autumn day, out came the burlap clad ghosts, the glow in the dark skeletons, the yellow police tape and the dollar store cobwebs. With The Little Superhero as director of operations, and myself and the Great Chazz (grandma to the stars and purveyor of said Halloween decorations) as his lowly worker bees the Tall House was Bate's Motel worthy in no time flat.


So hear ye! Hear ye! Wee Goblins and Ghouls, pint sized Princesses and little Superheros of all ilk. You are all invited to stop by the Tall House come next Saturday eve. There will be treats aplenty, and shivers guaranteed!


Just don't use the front stairs, they are badly in need of repair.

Thursday, 22 October 2009




We have been working for over five months now on this phase of renovations and quite frankly, I at least, am starting to wonder if we will ever see the end of it. Money is quickly running out and we are finding it more and more difficult to schedule in DIY time in and around our already busy lives. Thankfully the economic downturn has turned out to be a boon for advertising agencies, but it also means that our day jobs sometime have to be night jobs as well. That coupled with the fact that the cooler weather has ushered in cold season at day care, forcing us to play nursemaid at night, hence sapping us of any desire to log in some after hours activity on the first floor. So although not at a standstill the work is certainly creeping forward at a snail's pace.



Here is the somewhat daunting list of what is left to do:

  • The remaining five metal channels need screwed to the acoustic panels.
  • The exposed brick on the stair case needs to be cleaned one last time.
  • The brick sealer must be applied.
  • The dry wall has to go up.
  • The plaster work needs to be done.
  • The duct work for the kitchen fan must be installed.
  • The brick has to be cut to make way for the French doors.
  • The French doors have to be hung.
  • The stairs must be stripped of their paint.
  • The floors and stairs have to be sanded and stained.
  • The entrance tiles must be bought.
  • The entrance needs to be tiled and grouted.
  • Paint needs to be applied.
  • Heating needs to be installed.
  • All the lights need to be installed.
  • Base boards and crown mouldings need to be installed.
  • The coat-closet doors still need to be stripped of their paint, sanded, painted and have mirrors installed in the openings. Then they need to be hung.
  • AND we need to figure out precisely what we are doing with the kitchen.



Somehow it is looking like our Christmas deadline ain't going to happen. But living in the upper forties northern parallels as we do, there are certain things that must be done and soon. The house needs to be airtight and sealed against the elements. And unless we want our beautiful new plumbing to freeze, the base heaters need to be installed ASAP.


So we have no money, no time and we are on a schedule.

Cue the dramatic music, because we appear to be in a bit of a pickle.

Monday, 19 October 2009





Now, I would be what Jerry Seinfeld once famously qualified as a low-talker, with a voice that is practically inaudible to anybody over forty. But Manu, on the other hand, has a voice that can be heard across a packed rock venue - with the band playing. Believe me, this is no exaggeration. People have stopped Manu in the street and asked him if he could sing (unfortunately he's tone deaf), just on the strength of his speaking voice. And although, in all honesty this is not the reason why we've gone overboard on the sound-proofing of our future living-room/dining room/kitchen, it certainly is a factor.


The Tall House is actually one of two Tall Houses built side by each some 125 odd years ago. And as was common in construction at the time, the two buildings were erected with brick on the outer walls and nothing but large, wood planks, lath and plaster on the walls between the two structures. One of the first conversations we had with Daniel, our neighbour in the Tall House's twin, was about how the walls were so thin between the two buildings that he could actually hear the previous owner (an older gentleman) when he got up for his nightly tinkle. Well we are all for loving thy neighbour but there are things that we would much rather keep to ourselves. And we reasoned, if Daniel would be woken up by a tinkle, imagine what he would think of crying babies, whooping boys, raucous dinner parties, occasional loud music and an animated Manu?


So the top story got the CIA soundproof treatment: Roxul (insulation batting that is itself fire retardant and soundproof), Sonopan (acoustic panels), plastic sheeting, metal channels and finally gyp rock. A winning combination that has had us living completely complaint free from Daniel, since we moved in two years ago! And seeing as Daniel one of our, shall we say more normal neighbours, we want very much to keep him happy.


So this past Sunday, Manu and I set out to recreate this now tried and true soundproofing technique ourselves, on the main floor. After a few false starts, due mostly to our lack of experience, we finally got our rhythm and managed to complete most of the job by the end of the day. One of the great advantages of working with someone you know so well is that it is easy to anticipate what the other is thinking. That and the fact that you can kiss every once and a while, just to keep the energy up! Manu and I toiled away, so into the task at hand that we didn't even stop for lunch. Measuring and cutting and nailing and taping and caulking our little hearts out. It was only when we stopped that we noticed how much our muscles ached.


And although we will only know down the road if we did in fact do a good job, we did follow our contractor Pierre's instructions to the letter, and the wall sure looks the part. In fact it looks downright spectacular! All decked out in green and red and wrapped in clear plastic, rather like a giant Christmas present. And we chuckled ruefully to ourselves, for that was in fact what it was. Our gift to each other for now and many, many years to come. For there, poured inside those walls, was the fancy watch, the latest lap top, the new car, the trip to Italy... 


Oh my god, what where we thinking?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009



The beauteous copper pipes. Basement view.


The living room pipes. Gorgeous.


Oh the pressure!


Well it looks like all our scheming and  trickery has back fired. Call it karma or just plain bad luck but dear Zio Peter is off the hook. When we first started this phase of renovations we naively thought the only plumbing intervention that would be necessary was a simple hook up beneath the floor for the new kitchen sink and dishwasher. Well, we were sorely, sorely mistaken. As it turns out we have had to redo the plumbing of the entire house save for the fourth floor, and only because we already redid that part two years ago. Oh and not only inside, but on the outside as well.


The Tall House was a mess from top to bottom. Drain pipes were spotted and cracked, water pipes were rusted and deemed a general health hazard, water pressure was decent but could be improved on... Not to mention the impending doom a pipe bursting and the subsequent water damage. Something that we of course were loath to happen once the walls were all closed up.  


It took two plumbers three days to complete the job on the inside. While on the outside a separate team (thanks to city bureaucracy) comprised of a back hoe (and of course its driver), a couple of city workers and a city certified plumber replaced the pipes that run underground from the city main to the house.


So 12 000 and some odd dollars later the Tall House has all brand spanking new plumbing. 12 000 dollars that was not budgeted for. And unfortunately 12 000 dollars that was earmarked for the new kitchen.


I would like to say that the new pipes are beautiful and resplendent in all their copper glory, but lets face it they are part of the functional aspect of the house. And bit like having to buy a new iron or a hair dryer (albeit incredibly expensive ones), we sorely wished that we could spend our money on something less, well utilitarian. Something that would make our hearts race whenever we came near it. Something that we could "ooh" or "aah" over.


But now that it is all done and that the money is spent, the security of knowing that the inner workings of the Tall House are pristine and in perfect working order is strangely comforting. 


And there is something more. By doing so, we have turned a corner. For we can now proudly say that we, us, Sam and Manu have saved the Tall House. Or that it is, at least taken it out of intensive care. For even though we have a list longer then the house itself of things to do, from now on it is really mostly cosmetic. 


And so what if we have to live in a dump for the next few years? We have water pressure that could sandblast paint of a wall.


And hey, isn't it what is on the inside that counts?

Saturday, 19 September 2009



When we first bought the Tall House two years ago, I had naively chosen my 40Th birthday as the date for the renovations to be finished. The party would be HUGE and we would invite all our friends! In my rookie-house-renovator mind two years was ample time to redo a house top to bottom, inside and out. But I hadn't factored in the time constraints of living with young children. There are parks to explore, Pirate ships to accost and of course Super-hero identities to keep secret. The renovations may have stalled a bit, but the two little creatures that fill the Tall House with magic and giggles don't seem to mind in the least. 


So two years on and there are holes where ceilings should be and insulation where walls should be. But we have already planned for the party next year. So I will very unoriginally remain 39 for a second year in a row. Or as Manu likes to say: 41 will be the new 40. And although the Tall House will be far from finished the first and third floors will be completed. And they will be lovely.


Manu had very thoughtfully planned for us to take weekend trip away somewhere to visit other Tall Houses in Brooklyn, Boston or Chicago. But I had a hard time justifying spending a small fortune when we were already going through a sizable one on renovations. So we stayed put and I indulged myself by taking the day off from my advertising job to work in the Tall House.


We had found some absolutely stunning doors that had originally belonged in a Parisian apartment. Lord only knows how they made it to The Big City, but they crossed our paths one winter's morning while we were out for a walk. And in probably what was our second biggest impulse buy (after the Tall House itself), we snapped them up then and there. For we saw right away that these stately doors would be the ones to transform our lowly  future cloak closet into a work of art. But like most things we fall for (happily, with the exception of each other!), they are falling apart. Decades upon decades of paint and grime need to be removed in order to restore the doors to their former glory. 


So as Manu busily prepared the pared down festivities for the evening (only a privileged few are granted access to the Tall House in its present condition), I happily worked away with my scraper and heat gun patiently bringing those doors back to life. And as the sun sparkled through the trees the birthday wishes poured in, with cards and letters and messages and emails. Even The Poet, back in full African regalia, stopped by with a special birthday verse. And my wonderful, crazy mother festooned the dining room with a piñata and an abundance of balloons including a 4 foot Mylar bride that she'd of course purchased because it reminded her of me.


There were flowers, and champagne, and extravagant gifts. And the food was delicious. And the incongruity of the huge helium filled Doras, T-Rexes and my inflatable doppelgänger  against the backdrop of plastic sheeting and hole-filled walls, not to mention the fact that this was the decor for a 40Th birthday party, made us laugh until our sides hurt. 


And it was a wonderful, wonderful birthday.

Friday, 4 September 2009

The mighty backhoe

The completed framing for the future patio doors

The ever essential coat closet.

PF on his coffee break. Coffee by Manu.


The Tall House is a veritable hive of activity today. Plumbers plumbing, Electricians de-wiring, PF and Louis erecting walls, not to mention a big honking backhoe tearing up the place.


The backhoe was brought in to dig up the front yard so that we could replace the old lead pipes that stem from the city ducts to our house. But as an added bonus the ugly-beyond-mention brick-a-brack flower container is no more. Money well spent.


Most of the framing has been completed. PF and Louis are magicians and take extreme pride in their work. Because of them we will have beautiful, straight walls (quite a feat seeing as the Tall House is anything but square) not to mention a lovely straight ceiling. For a while we had considered trying to do the framing ourselves but once we were confronted with the geometrical headache that the crooked, stripped walls represented we knew that we were out of our depth. So PF and Louis have been working their magic since Monday, easily accomplishing in 5 days what would surely have taken us a very painful 3 weeks.


Manu also spent two half days (and a few nights) working alongside them doing the grunt work: insulating some walls, lining others with black paper, cleaning up, even getting coffee. And although the work is hard, I can tell that Manu is having the time of his life, taking great pride in his unofficial apprenticeship with two masters of their trade.

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