aguas calientes

May 2, 2008

and gas too.  whew.  i don’t have much else to say; i can bake again and won’t have to deep breathe while bathing…

have a great weekend.



May 2, 2008

they turn, spin, wave, create shadows, yet stay intact, all the parts relating to each other. as i have made and hung mobiles, i have always thought about edith schaeffer’s book what is a family? and her analogy – we are meant to be relating to one another in the context of family the way the parts in a mobile interconnect – each piece its own separate work of art, each piece moving separately and independently, but in relation to circumstances (the wind, usually) and the other parts of the mobile.

the past year and a half has been such a tremendously trying, challenging, rewarding, taxing, hair-raising and nerve-wracking adventure. and now our old life is back, except that it isn’t. because taylor is now the pastor of a small church plant (along with wonderful jeff), we live in a completely different neighborhood, our kids are older (and different, and i can’t go back and give ari the 1/4 of his life that was such an abberation), and frankly, i don’t know what lies ahead. i’m now the mother of two young men, who at the moment are recovering from hand, foot & mouth (it sounds horrible doesn’t it?), preparing to adopt from ethiopia, acclimating to a community that is both american and yet so hispanic that i can speak the language i really love every time i walk out the door.

i have thought about bringing the epic to a close, slowly, and with a lot of progress pictures along the way, as we finish the little things. would you like a list? i’d kind of like to make one, because it would prove to me (at least) that there is nothing major left to accomplish…additionally, and this may be a major social fox pass, i’m going to be doing a calculation of how much of taylor’s hard earned money i actually spent (i know, i know, i can take credit for some of the money too), so this whole thing is set in some realistic context. but i haven’t done that yet. i’m working on the washer leak and the fire ants and the kid virus and learning to use the dishwasher.

to do: hang cork in 3rd floor bedrooms. track down a new painter to finish doors, and get them painted. get remaining doors/trim done after previous items are accomplished. plumb, equip, clean, and fill the pool. (that may all be one call and one guy!). landscape. kill fire ants. remove rabbit cage from back porch. call in final pool inspections after i get a new light (low voltage). paint stair handrail. poly birch. get oak boards to transition from wood to tile in bathrooms. seal tile (pretty much everywhere). seal cypress decks. get front fence/planter things built and then plant in them and park on our land. build shed. clean stickers off windows. get a door to close off el nido from the boys’ room. buy a lot of doorknobs and hang them in boys’ room.

but hey, doesn’t that sound like a slow list? who cares if it takes until june? (and oh, baby, it will) i think it may even be august, but we’re here. 4 months minus one day from groundbreaking on the piers to moving in was crazy. we’re hoping for a little less craziness, so i’m going to be baking scones, cooking beans, making frozen lemonade, drinking coffee, reading out loud, reading silently, exercising again, praying, sitting and looking at the trees, and thinking about family. i think interesting things may keep happening around here. so i’m going to keep writing, but not so much, and hopefully not so faithfully at 1am. (although tonight i’m right on schedule)

corin is already shopping for land that we can build on for other people. but i’m temporarily retired. at least from full-time building. though what a weird thing to have more than one option when people ask me what i do. ‘builder’ doesn’t feel quite right, but how weird that it’s true. retired builder is more like it.

a million apologies, and a story [a rather lengthy narration, if my independent coffee shop time lasts]

April 25, 2008

ok, i have 15 minutes with my teeeny pc, so here goes.  i’m in buellton, california, for the wedding of one of our best friends, which we’ve been waiting to attend for the last, oh, 11 years.  we got here tuesday, after a morning of flying, which was preceded by 2.25 hours of sleep.  this is because we had to pack for this trip out of boxes, because while everything we own, including a lot of crap we really shouldn’t own, got shoved into our urban treehouse over the weekend, it really wasn’t organized or unpacked.  no surprise.

i wrote a post on thursday am or wednesday pm.  i hadn’t called in all our final inspections, because the computer wouldn’t let me.  i go downtown bright and early, after watching emma, and think i’m in for a day of nervous waiting while i play settlers of catan with ari.  hardly there, mr. julio pulls up in his official truck, and i do a quick sweep – counters shiny, i have my flip-flops on, and my official papers are laid out for inspection.  after waiting a minute, i walk out to the truck and say hello, julio….  i start to tell him sorry, he tells me just a sec, let me look up all your permits, and then asks, ‘so, why didn’t you call in final building?’

‘well, i tried, but the city says i need a water tap inspection and so it wouldn’t let me, and i left a bunch of messages at the water utility and’

‘water tap inspection?  don’t you have water already?’

‘yea.’ ?

‘listen, what’s your goal today?’

‘i want to move in…?’

‘ok, let’s just go have a look around, and i’ll see what i can do.  i don’t think you need a water tap inspection.  but let’s see the house first.’

we start walking across the street, through the chain link fence, and he says, ‘i think you should be done today.  i’m going to see what i can do, and i think i’ll be able to get this all done for you today.’

i am at this point inwardly freaking out.  so we start walking around, he looks at things, i grab a pad of paper and start seriously jotting notes – 3 things to fix on the first floor.  i’m not feeling so good.  but then we get all the way to the nest with nothing else, and then he says, ‘what is this?  can you go get the plans?’


but i play it straight, tell him the truth [it’s on some plans, not on others, the house changed right before we started building and i didn’t go back to the city, and the whole time i was getting the plans, ari’s telling him about his secret passage.  julio knows full well he loves it and what it is.  i get back, trepidation in my heart if not my steps, and tell him…

and he says, ‘so, what do you call this?’

there is seriously a twinkle in his eye.

and i say, ‘what should i call it?’……………………..’attic?’

‘no, it’s conditioned air.  how about storage?’

‘mmm, storage.  yes.  great.  storage.’

and that was the end.  a little chatting about the door we need to put in, and then we walk downstairs together.  he leaves to his truck, telling me he’ll go pass everything and then have me call in the rest so i’ll be done, and as he walks out the door, i just start sobbing.  oh, god, thank you that i am no longer a builder… i’m just a mom again.  i was completely overwhelmed.

to abbreviate, since my coffee shop time was truncated, is that taylor picked up our certificate of occupancy, we moved 95% on friday, the rest sunday, our other house is empty, and we have seen the sun rise and set through our windows.  we are elated, tired, grateful, and amazed.

ready and waiting.

April 17, 2008

all is a go.  who the heck knows what will happen tomorrow…

the house is ready, but we need a water tap inspection before we can call final building.  so i called wallboard, final electrical, final plumbing, and final mechanical, but we’ll see if they fail all, pass all, give us a temporary, or what.  it all works for me.  one thing i’ve learned through all this is that i’ll eventually pass, even if it isn’t the first time.  so stay tuned.  we’re not working at our house tonight, we had loads of help all day taking recycling around, vaccuuming, going to the restore, cleaning, sweeping, and generally encouraging good cheer.  i’m off to watch a girl movie in my pajamas.

don’t think less of me.

crying. in a good way.

April 16, 2008

so i was up til 2am (don’t miss last night’s must-read post) and we dragged ourselves out of bed, thinking that we need to make a list to get ready to move (like the day i got ready to apply to build but didn’t own the property yet), and i am walking downstairs when taylor comes running with my cell phone.  it’s sam, the city electrical inspector, who says, ‘hey, i’ve been thinking about your house this morning, and i think you may need to file an extension of work on your pool, so the permit doesn’t expire.  and i don’t know about that light… is it low voltage?’ so we talk, and i tell him that i am planning and hoping to call finals for tomorrow, and he says, ‘o, well, you need to have passed your electrical final before you can call the rest of the finals, so you just need to call that in and i’ll take care of it and get it passed for you.’ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  this city doesn’t do same day inspections.  but he is.  because he called to check on me and so……………wow.  if you ever deal with inspections, you’ll really know how blown away i am.  i think just having read this blog for 6 months will give you a pretty good idea.  i was crying at the computer as i looked up all the codes to call in.  amazing.

you never can tell with days.

April 16, 2008

who would have believed (at 6:30am) that i would spend ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL day on the phone trying to find a store in town that sells bosch tankless hot water heater venting parts.  there was a kit at lowe’s, with only one 90 degree angle, and wouldn’t you know that only bosch venting can be used, and the water heater is mounted where it can’t vent straight out the wall, because 3 2×6’s are holding up a very large beam.  so i went looking for parts, and… none. really. talked to pretty much every plumbing supplier (all the ones bosch lists on its website) and every one our plumbers could think of, called bosch 800 number i think 3 times, discussed, chatted, theorized, consulted with carpenter tim, and at the end of the day, nothing. no venting. i was playing hangman with my right hand and calling to price other brands with my left, attempting a solution. that’s a lot of money ($1200.). or perhaps go to lowe’s, where we bought the water heater, to buy maybe 3?!??!? kits they sell to vent this water heater, for the bargain price of $260. apiece. what a lame day. i lay down in the dirt on the front porch and found this view,

which was amazing, and i thought that really, a solution would come along. meanwhile, tim spent all day rerouting our range hood vent so that it is high enough, which involved siding, blocking, electrical, sheathing, insulation, and drilling. and vaccuuming. he finished at 5 too. i didn’t really finish anything, since i hadn’t managed to get anything done. and right around 3, our realtor/next door neighbor calls to ask if we can close this friday. meaning the old house would be empty. but nothing is done today, save heating and a/c.

plumbing, not so much.

building (all the necessaries, like stair handrails and sheathing bottoms of the stair landings), not so much.

general sense of the whole thing really not being under our control, immense.

that wasn’t meant to be an amex commercial. speaking of which, i need to write less and go pay that bill, so the long story short is that we told him there’s no way we can close, but then we were offered monday. who the heck knows? can we call inspections thursday? will we pass enough to get a temporary co? can we move over the weekend? what about the freaking hot water heater venting?

so we make a list, send mom, corin, and ari on a date to cazuelas and cafe mundi to eat and play cards and generally not have to eat, sleep, and breathe house, and we head to lowe’s to see if perhaps we can look at one kit and maybe just suck it up and buy 2. only $600. better than buying another heater. we have this big list, thinking tomorrow we should try to knock out all the necessaries, and after a few light bulbs and a stop to order shiny brown paint for the banister rails, we head to appliances, where i really, really immediately tell him, smilingly but really incredulously, about my day. all the calls, to stores and bosch and even lowe’s, and that no one helped me. and then he says, ‘oh, yeah, well, there isn’t really much to see, since i don’t keep that kit in stock.’


big breath.

and then, ‘well, sometimes i get returns here from people that buy them at other lowe’s stores, so let’s go look.’

walking, walking, arriving, to a shelf that says $57. and there are 3 of these almost free official bosch hot water heater vent kits:  the magical number we couldn’t stomach because it would be about the same cost as the heater itself, but really the number we needed to get enough elbows to actually vent it per code. no surprise that we bought all three.

i must also say that i have no idea what tomorrow will bring. the water heater may be vented easily and in due time, and then again, it may not. but we stocked up tonight with great intentions of working hard yet another day for the goal of getting to the ‘hood.’


5 hours of sleep sound good? anyone? anyone?

April 15, 2008

we had this idea, sunday evening, as we drank a bottle of wine at the hip winery cru near our suburbanite home, that we should prioritize and stick to the essentials monday morning.  only work on things crucial to calling for our final inspections.  which meant that i sat with my office at cru and wrote lists, but depending on if you personality is like mine, you may understand that this can be a freeing and calming and ordering sort of process.  my list was:

mail taxes

call:  electricians, mechanical contractor, plumber, mccoys, painter, shower glass company, plastic people (backsplash)

pick up backsplash

figure out where corin is taking ITBS tuesday and don’t forget to take him

ok, so monday morning i first thing (after waffles, while my mom is doing the dishes) call the shower glass people.  plumber called during breakfast to ask for a meeting because he can’t vent the water heater.!  they never ordered the glass.  after a little incredulity, i switched to the contractors i had previously rejected and ended up getting better glass for $100 less that i was going to, and the other ones weren’t even going to stick to their price when it came down the line.  so no glass for 2 weeks.  2 weeks, you say?  don’t you need to be done in 2 weeks?

yes.  so i call tara and ask her to solve my shower problem.  do what you can, i don’t care what it looks like, but make those showers work, i beg.  you do have free time, right?  no sweat.  she buys a lot of pvc, some corners that are three way, and promises to get shower curtains the next day.

in the interim, i called all the other people, left messages, found out that my wrong size hobbit door from mccoys can be remade, they’ll pay, but it will be next week.  i’ll be in california next week………….. so they’re giving me the money for pro-carpenter tim to remake opening, and by evening, that door is set and trimmed, and only needs a handle.

i find out that the painter really is never going to call me back, so mccoy’s is going to start fighting for me.  but who needs paint?

i realize i really need to call a wallboard inspection, but that means the slats have to be done on the ceiling.  we always have people over on monday nights, and i teach an english class, but we make a pact to finish, even if we stay up all night (it was 1 when we went to bed).  we finished, but after a lovely dinner of tacos and chips & salsa on the roof patio with 7 friends, my mom, corin, ari, and a beautiful view.

i made the window in the bathroom with the chadelier unable to ever be opened again so that we could vent the water heater.

and we figured out that the hole for the range hood is so low that we won’t be able to cook a pot of beans on the stove if we set it into place, and that!!!!!!!!!!! took a few turns around the block for me to get calm enough to see that the cheapest, easiest thing to do is remake the hole, move the vent, and pay tim to be expert carpenter, so we can use the vent hood we have, bought already, and like.  i almost drove off to ikea half cocked in rush hour traffic.

but though the stress is getting to me occasionally, i am still smiling.  thank God.  it is absolutely ridiculous to be trying to finish in 4 months on my first  (and super-weird) house, but here goes.  it’s tuesday morning, bright and early, and i have no idea what today holds.  i’ll let you know later.

the little family that could… with friends and mom.

April 14, 2008

this is my visiting mom, who really didn’t want me to take a picture of her with one of taylor’s old shirts on, but she was stuck. she stained (some with me and some with a passerby we hired named johnny) 216 2x2x8′ slats to antique walnut gloss perfection, artisinally, of course. when you study the ceiling, you will see artisinal drips that drip upward, and very very intentional variations in color. the overall effect is quite breathtaking, or horrible, depending on how you feel about seeing through the ceiling…

here are some other pictures from around the house that show it all coming together.  other stories to tell, maybe another time when there is time…. there is a plumber coming over and yada yada yada.

this is my office.

a piece of window trim.

wish i could post more, but i can’t.  17 days left to go – we have be to in by 4.30.08.  stay tuned.  i’ll probably be a horrible writer between now and then.

hey! you know any rich white people that want to buy some belts?

April 12, 2008

[and other weird stories from standing in the front yard and staining 2×2 slats with my mom]

well, yesterday tim was asked very nicely if he wanted to buy a jackhammer out of the back of some dude’s car as we stood in the front yard working, and i was very glad (as i’m not usually glad) that the gentleman assumed i was unimportant since i was a girl.  tim politely declined the jackhammer.

later yesterday, as the sun was setting behind the house and batch 5 of 18 (12 8-foot slats per batch) was getting finished up, 2 guys walk by, and one calls out, ‘hey! you’re a carpenter!  look! (to the other dude) it’s a female carpenter!  i didn’t even have to speak.

mostly the plumbing is done.  i took some lovely photos of the baths and kitchen, but then i left the camera at that other house i almost live in…  the city came and turned the electricity on, then other city people came and turned the water on, so last night we used the toilets!  washed our hands!  turned on the water just for fun!  tested the instant hot water dispenser by the sink!  we left on front porch lights when we went to dinner.  and i vaccuumed on the second floor without running an extension cord in from outside the front of the house.

and then today, more slats, prepping for a renovation of the downstairs ceiling, where all the trusses will be ‘covered’, and this has even been ok’d by the electrical inspector.  i love playing it straight.  it is seeming to serve me well so far through the inspection process.  tim finished trimming out all the windows and doors on the first floor (i’ve got pictures of that too). so… we’re working, my visiting from albuquerque mom and i, the boys playing around, writing newspaper articles and such, when this guy walks by with purses on his arm, belts around his neck, holding an heb bag i assume was also full of belts.  and he seriously called, ‘hey, you know any rich white people that want to buy some belts?  i’ve been trying to sell these all day and it seems like the only people that want to buy them are rich white people.  do you know any that want to buy some?’

‘no, i don’t.’


April 10, 2008

there are pocket doors, closet doors, countertops, air conditioner condenser unit (1), toilets, kitchen sinks (1), colors, clean floors, plastic paneling cut minus two pieces, electricity ordered from the city (may be turned on tomorrow!), water to be turned on too (really tomorrow), and i didn’t have time to take pictures after a long time buying 2×2 slats for the ceiling.  but wow, eh?