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.

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