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Nov 3, 2012

I know. I KNOW!

I know, I got you all riled up and some of you read my words and some of  you even came back time and again, One of you entered my contest -which my sister did not because she could not remember her log in... to her sister's own blog... hmmmm... Dr. Freud, what say you?- and if my sister had entered, she would have been disqualified as she knows someone "at the top".

One of you sent me reminders that my posts might be stuck in draft state. I loved that the best because the writer doesn't know me "IRL" (that's in real life) and was trying so hard to tell me how to possibly fix it, without coming out and telling me I might not know what I'm doing (which is frequently the case) and simply stripping out my password and fixing herself. You are a doll face!

I love ya all.... I do, in fact, have several posts stuck in draft stage. Because they're still drafts. Because they're not finished. Because I had a VERY TRAUMATIC SUMMER.

First off, I have to say that everyone is OK. I am still married and my husband has started speaking to me again.  If I call him at work, he has stopped sending my calls to voicemail and texting back "How Much This Time?".

Can you guess what happened? R-E-N-O-V-A-T-I-O-N.

So, if you read here, you know that I bought an old house. The house of my, my sister's, my mother's, and my grand mother's dreams. I bought a 1720 built Dutch Colonial in - hand to ear for your chorus:  "The quintessential New England town"! Exactly!

By the way, a Dutch Colonial is also called a "Gambrel Roof Colonial".  I really must figure out how to put pictures on this thing because words are not adequate to relate what happened here.

I'm thinking of writing a book about it:  "My Renovation or What the Hell Just Happened Here?"

So, my neighbors found a contractor for their house and I watched the crew come in at 745 every morning and work until it was too dark. THEN they would clean up and come home and do it all over again the next day.  There was a Project Manager on site every day, the contractor had a special website to communicate (also known as the Portal to Hell where the Change Orders, Invoices and Pictures were posted), they have a great relationship with their trades. Could you ask for anything more?

So, off Big Daddy and I went to the Contractor's Office. We'd like one round of Windows, Siding, Insulation, please!  I had watched the workers put a shingle roof on the house next door - it went on in 2 days! They re-sided the back of the house in 1 day! How difficult could my house be?

What? What's that bump on the side of my house? Ignore that bump. Just don't look at it.

So, the Contractor does an extensive amount of research to give us a proposal. Contractors come, window guys measure, for some reason the designer came by and took pictures of wood trim and threatened to call "hoarders" on me.Let me tell you, I thought that was hilarious.

I told him "Listen, Mr. Mid Century Modern - Zen is a style of gardening! That may look like old stuff to you, but it's a style called "Early American Pack rat" and you should find an appreciation for it!".  He didn't do any actual work on my project (since we were doing nothing interior) which is fine, but we continued to make fun of each other.

So Big Daddy and I go to the Contractor's Office for the "Big Reveal" of the proposed project and the contract. When I tell you that my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I broke out in a sweat, and I thought I was going to barf on that table, the language is not too strong, I promise you.

The Hizzle done fizzled my shizzle..

Of course, Big Daddy and I have been accustomed to doing one project at a time which one usually has a financial grasp for what's coming down the pike. We chose to do 3 (2 major 1 not so major) projects at once. They kind of had to be done at the same time so we would get the optimal seal around all the openings (I mean how much sense does it make to do siding then rip the windows out?).

Then the workers found a prodigious amount of lead paint. Now,  lead paint one should expect from a 300 year old house, but "the most heavy concentrated lead paint we have ever encountered in the 25 years we have been in business" kind of lead paint set the stage for the entire project (little did I know). And it wasn't just on the trim. It was on the clapboards we found under the shingles on the entire front of the house, as well as on 75% of each side of the house. 

So, of course, that had to be taken care of in the most upright, state certified kind of way - read: Expensive.

Big Daddy nearly blew me away when he whipped out the check book and calmly wrote the first of many many  many checks. I swear to God, if we knew then what we know now, I PROMISE you we would have sold this place in a flash. Even at a loss.

So we drove home in one of those "Oh my God, I know he's beyond mad at me right now, please don't make me talk to him" silences. I had my hands over my face the entire ride and my jaw was clenched and despite the air being on "arctic" I was sweating up a storm. That's how big the number was.

I would have moved into one of the brand spanking new great big houses with 5 bedrooms that I turned my nose up at when we were house hunting. Why did I turn my nose up at one of those houses with crown molding and shiny granite counters and professional stoves and soaking tubs the size of a small swimming pool, and a 3 car garage that looked like it fell off the screen of House Hunters? Mostly because I didn't want to spend the money on furniture or to heat it for just the 3 of us. They all had forced air heat and I can't stand that stuff. Give me a big old cast iron radiator any day! Now that's heat!

But I digress.... So, because we are living in the house during the renovation (apparently the contractor is used to people who move out), they are doing the project in 3 stages, the front and sides of the house, the garage area and the side of the garage, then the back of the house.
The day comes, the guys arrive, the dumpster (1st of 3) is delivered, the scaffolding is erected and the siding starts to come off one side and the front. Most of the windows are removed, and the very odd, old and not as sturdy looking as I had imagined it siding underneath the shingles is exposed. As is the aforementioned unmentionable "bump". hmf.

Day two comes and it's the first of several "Lead Removal Days".  Very large "Poison" signs are posted in my yard, driveway, and on various places in the interior of my home. hmf. Of course it was 800 degrees and there my guys are in the hot sun, wearing Tyveck suits (head to toe), respirators and goggles. I'm sure they loved me at that moment.  The offending siding starts to come off, and then the quiet of lunch time arrives. Except I look at my watch (yes I still wear one) and I realize it's 2 hours to lunch. hmf.

So, I have a secret stash of icy cold water meant to convince the workers that I was not so bad, after all.

I walk out my front door and there were a lot more people than I expected. I found my project manager, the senior project manager, the owner of the General Contracting company, the head of the construction crew, an additional construction crew, a man who was introduced to me as Sam from the environmental company and Steve. Steve was the engineer. I was fine until I heard the word engineer. I looked at the owner of the GC. Nobody was smiling. They were not here for a tour of my very cool, authentic colonial house. I turned around and looked at the house and saw what they were looking at.

Oh. My.

So, The wall with the bump on it - not actually attached to the house (this would explain the draft in the cold front room last winter).  That unmentionable bump? the main joist between 1st and 2nd floor had actually rotted through, which is why the wall wasn't attached to the house.

The sills were completely rotted through on 3 sides, the corner posts on the front of the house needed to be replaced (these were not completely unexpected), NONE of the studs rested on the sill - instead they'd rotted away and were "fixed" by someone who nailed a stick to what was left of the studs and rested it on the rotted out sill, this is how my house was being held up.

The joists in the basement - the authentic300 yr old logs that had been trees, felled and seasoned and finished and laid by hand - upon which the weight of my house rested - wre writhing with suddenly not dormant powder post beetles. Seriously. I kid you not. It gets better.

So, the entire south and front wall of my house has to be rebuilt. all of the joists in my basement need to be replaced, it's 800 degree end of July/ early August, we are LIVING IN THIS HOUSE, and the GC says to me, "You know you have a lot of asbestos down there, right? A lot? Define "a lot".

I know there is some asbestos, as in those sleeves on heating pipes, which are wrapped and coated and which we have absolutely no plans whatsoever to ever touch. Well, joke's on me! Turns out that we ARE going to have to touch those heating pipes because they have to be moved for the new sills.

Oh, do you know your oil tanks (yes, that's tank S as in 2) are leaking and need to be replaced?  like now? Well, yes in fact I did know that because the man from my oil company who came to clean the furnace 2 days before you started told me about it and very kindly stopped my oil deliveries so I wouldn't have 600 gallons of heating fuel in my basement. I plan to attend to that after this project because I know darn well that my boiler guy (not the oil guy) is going to be one hell of a lot cheaper than the contractor, and because he gave me the idea to replace the 2 old tanks with one big one. Read: Cheaper.

Well, that's all well and good, but it turns out that there are pipes above the tanks that the workers will have go get at. Oh, and the ceiling boards above the tanks and boiler are asbestos. And the area above the asbestos ceiling boards is pumped full of vermiculite, which is also known to be a carcinogen. And we believe the pipes in there are also wrapped in Asbestos (of course it was).

And you are going to have to move out because your house is going to be mostly without power for several weeks. 

Well, if you don't think I just stood there in front of the 27 men in my front yard and let the water works go... deep heaving no hold 'em sobs... you would be mistaken.  I could not stop crying into my sleeve.  and wiping my eyes with the tail of my dirty button down. The GC kept asking if I wanted to take a break to "gather myself". I asked him if the "tour" was going to get any better and when he couldn't reply in the affirmative, well I  tell you what, I just said "oh just keep going"... I'm pretty sure he got a snot bubble or two.

Ok, I'm exhausted. I just lived through Hurricane Sandy and my fellow Americans are only looking as far as their own non working ice makers and travel plans. I'd like to knock some of them into next Tuesday or maybe Thursday. They should watch a little of the news from Staten Island or Long Beach Island or Breezy Point, which has already lost so much and see how unimportant their "problems are".

Plus the wound is still fresh and it's difficult for me to relive too much of this summer at any one time.

so I will see you soon. I will
I promise!

I'm going to prove it by not even putting this into draft state for a proof read, so don't give me a tough time about my mistakes! I am going to spell check though.


Good night I hope you are all well.

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