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Tuesday, 10 August - link

alert level: orange

my stomach woke me this morning, tight. I tried breathing still, slow, under the warm covers. But there were too many corrections. The shower wasn't on right, the water pressure was low and it was tilted left. The faucet had arrived with scratches down the barrel, or so the plumbers said after they'd been handling it for an hour. There was a hole in my kitchen cabinet but it was just a bit shy of wide enough so the center of the kitchen held a new dishwasher that couldn't be fully installed. Ditto with my bathroom - a hole in the wall large enough for a new medicine cabinet, but not wide enough. And no medicine cabinet has shown up yet. I should really email that lady from Ferguson -

The brother-in-law of my landscaper is supposed to show up in about five minutes, at 7:30am. He's a Mayan indian, Jose said. He can lay a concrete slab where my washer and dryer will sit, in my back yard. There's really nowhere else to put it. I'll need to get some kind of a box built around it, to protect it from the elements. A little breath escapes me, and I reclaim another one - I did remember to call Sears yesterday to postpone delivery.

These are small problems! Far distant from the meaning of life or the suffering of fellow humans. But they've completely enveloped me, for a short time at least.

The Washer Box is one of the things I think about when I get some down time. buff monsterI want it to look like a giant old cargo container - pieces of wood nailed together with a cross-beam or two. I met some folks who make and post posters all over Los Angeles; I want to have a surface in my backyard where they might "post bills." Anything interesting seems expensive and complicated. I consider building it myself, but I have no tools, little experience, and no time.

Each day, there are a series of people visiting my place to help me "modernize" it, make it convenient and safe. Ripping out the old, implanting the new, and sealing it up. If I thought this process would purge imperfection I was misguided in modernism. The uneven and irregular shape to nearly everything is part of the incurable charm of the house. I tell myself. That, and I should go grocery shopping; I'm out of yogurt and bananas.

Yesterday was a 12 hour day. So was Sunday. Saturday was only 2 hours. All the other days, people show up at 8am, and leave at 8pm. I gotta stay here, not hovering over their shoulder but being available for consultation and suggestion - where the light switch should go, or how large the medicine cabinet will be. Driving off to a hardware store for an air gap valve, or the lighting store for a fluorescent fixture.

inspectorOne of the things I learned yesterday, from one of the two Culver City inspectors who came by my place to certify it "not approved," is that environmentalism in California has translated to some challenging building code. I mean I work to restrain my vanity, but I'm proud of the low voltage, high impact white white halogen lights I got stuck in my kitchen. Then the inspector mentioned that I had to have a fluorescent light somewhere prominent in the room, where it could be the light I used when I came to get a glass of water late at night. Energy efficient, dedicated energy efficient lighting. With its own fixture and switch. Mandatory in the kitchen, and in the bathroom if you're rewiring your house.

I was on the verge of some kind of petty freak out when I twisted my chin and stroked my whiskers - there must be a way to enjoy this. And it turns out there is - some unusually small, narrow fluorescent lighting, for example, or plenty of light fixtures that appear to be regular lights. Fun, almost lovely lights. At least when they're not turned on.

The good news for me is that I'm rewiring early. According to Dave, the building inspector, next October, California building code states that every room in every house in California must have energy efficient lighting, ie, every room in every house in California, new or being rewiring, must have fluorescent lighting. Bedrooms, living rooms, any room. A design challenge!

I ordered a sp0re doorbell button, it should arrive today. sporebellI love the idea of shopping for a home improvement on BoingBoing. Some avgolemono soup from Daphne's is warming slowly on my counter. My 7:30am appointment with a concrete slab is running 40 minutes late. I've got a list of colors from Mighty Nat; gotta find a Benjamin Moore paint store to see what "Mountain Peak White" and "Mayonaise" really look like. I think I'll do that after my Washer/Dryer slab appointment, after the electricians have arrived (going on day 7, which is okay because they're great conscientious guys). Gottta call the roofer, to schedule a time to replace the broken spanish tiles and patch the broken corner of the roof here. And I gotta bug the HVAC people again to get them to come fix the broken heater vent in the attic. Some guys are coming at 11 to reinforce the foundation. Melvin, a Kurdish locksmith says he'll drop by before noon. At noon, I have an appointment to get a painting estimate from The Pink Painter. Surfa's says they'll have my custom-cut kitchen metrocart cut ready after 3pm (cheaper than new cabinets to fill a big empty space in the kitchen I inherited). Last night Billy the carpenter called and put off our appointment to shove appliances into walls with a sawzall; that should happen tonight. That leaves lunchtime for errand running, gotta buy a bell for my doorbell (will I have enough time to track down or rig up an MP3 doorbell?). And a friend, Jen, might visit this morning!

Alfredo an electrical guy drills into the wall, to set up conduit between the shed and the house.  On the left are the outdoor Washer/Dryer hookups.  In the background is a fountain of a boy peeing
Alfredo an electrician drills into the wall, to set up conduit between the shed and the house. On the left are the outdoor Washer/Dryer hookups. In the background is a fountain of a boy peeing

Perhaps the most disconcerting thing at this point, I don't have an office. I had set up shop writing and running my life from a small room out back, but its walls are now gouged out and packed with metal pipes, desk covered in plastic and layers of dust. So my laptop sits between milk crates and empty paper bags on the back porch, plugged into the only power outlet that consistently works, next to the fountain of a little boy peeing. Good news is, my internet connection came on. There's a long extension cord keeping my cable modem alive. I need to plan a desk layout and construction so I can return this folding table to Scott and Mimi. But I need a few moments to get a plan together and find someone to help me execute it.

Here's the short-term schedule: probably.

  • electrical finishes Wednesday/Thursday
  • odd carpentry (dishwasher/medicine cabinet) done by Thursday
  • backyard utility concrete slab covers rich soil Thursday
  • painting and patching starts and finishes Thursday/Friday/Saturday
  • Jose comes over to install a backyard irrigation system Saturday
  • washer/dryer delivered into my backyard Saturday to sit on the adequately dried and hardened slab
  • Saturday a crew I haven't found yet does a total house cleaning, the first since deadly chemicals were sprayed inside to kill termites
  • Natalie arrives Sunday for a week of multilateral design help and visits to flea markets and Moroccan importers for furniture and fixin's.
  • 134% too much stuff arrives Monday, everything I owned in Oakland, filling this place wall to wall
  • Natalie's intern and furniture designer Piper arrives Tuesday to join the coalition of the willing in Culver City
  • all my furniture and excess belongings from Oakland should be for sale on Craig's List LA by Wednesday
  • Graduate School starts Friday
  • two weeks from today, my metabolism slows, my hair falls out and my testicles shrivel.

  • Posted on 10 August 2004 : 08:36 (TrackBack)
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    Justin's Links, by Justin Hall.