Archive for December, 2010

Happy Holidays

December 29, 2010

Well, here I am, back after a wonderful Christmas break. Christmas was great, spending Christmas Eve, as we always do with Ariel’s parents. This year was even more special being baby Yonathan’s first Christmas. Earlier in the day, Patio Joe and his wife came by for cake and coffee and Tammy got to see all the work her hubby did outside and what her Uncle Lou had done on the house. We visited for quite a while and even talked about photographing the patio for Joe’s website. Later, my mother got here and we took off to Newark.

Christmas Day was enjoyable and relaxing. The three of us had a leisurely breakfast then opened gifts with Stephen King’s Misery playing on the TV. We had our inaugural dinner that night in the new dining room and later we watched The Women (1939), with the promise of the next time she’s over, of watching the 2008 horrible remake, just to prove a point why classic movies should never be tampered with.

Sunday rolled around and we went out to take care of some stuff that needed to be taken care of and on the way home, the snow had begun, light at first, but before long the ground was covered and there was no sign of stopping. It took us nearly 3 hours to clean the snow we needed to clean, including a pathway along the inside of the fence on the patio, just in case the lights come in before the snow has a chance to melt so Joe would have a place to walk. And speaking of patio, I have more pics. So, before I leave you with those, let me take a quick moment to wish you all a very happy and healthy 2011. This will be my last blog for this year and I will see you here after the New Year!

   

Starting out the back door, looking from side to side. See that poor lonely, lost looking fire pit?

   

The firepit/coffee table, a great find, and a great compliment, we think. And then a look at the opposite end of the patio and a portion of the garden.

   

Looking into the garden and then panning around. A shot of the front corner of the patio from the outside.

   

A view of the fence and retaining wall from all angles.

   

A few shot of the patio in the snow!

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Don’t Fence Me In

December 23, 2010

In just a few short hours from now, depending on when you’re reading this, I will be done with work for the week and will be in the kitchen baking. This year I’m making a red and green velvet cake to take to Ariel’s parents’ for Christmas Eve. I don’t know for sure if Baby Rita will be making our apple pie or not. She does a great job with it every time she does. I also have to decorate the tree. Ariel picked up a little 2′ fiber optic tree that twinkles in a variety of colors. We were using the little ceramic Beagle tree from The Bradford Exchange but he thought a slightly larger one would look better in the window. We decided what with all the hullabaloo with the house and the last thing we needed was that humongous tree and with all the trimmings.

I could, and should, go on and on about the patio. And you know what? I will. The larger crew was here yesterday, but they didn’t drink as much coffee as I anticipated. Ugh, if there’s one thing I can stand see go to waste is a good pot of coffee. They worked on the fencing, the garden bed, finished the pavers up to the house and ran the wiring for the lights. The plumber was also here and connected a water line for irrigation for the garden. And wouldn’t you know it? I’ve got a bunch of pictures.

 

   

The day the paving began, first with pallets of pavers and then the sand was dumped and spread out. The last picture in this row shows the side where the garden beds will be.

   

The paving in various stages

   

Some more of the paving. The flatbed full of fencing. Installing the fence.

   

The first section of fence. Later in the day. A shot looking over the garden beds to the back. And the completed outline of the gardens. I can almost taste those tomatoes now. And the basil. And I hope there will be enough room for a mozzarella plant.

 

Earworms….Bad!

December 22, 2010

 

Meanwhile, the guys have just about finished laying the pavers on the patio, but it wasn’t as hectic a day as I thought I was led to believe it would be. No fence, although it was delivered, no water line, no electric, no digging out the garden beds. I was a little bummed. Not only had I made an extra large pot of coffee for all who would allegedly be here, but it seemed that now it would be impossible for the patio to be finished by Thursday.

But then this morning, one of the two things that invaded my thoughts upon waking this morning (I’ll get to the other one in a minute) was that  maybe since they left an even border between the pavers and retaining wall, that must be where they will install the fence posts and the rest will be taken care of between today and tomorrow. Then I realized, it’s not like we’ll be using the space (phew, I had to say something other than patio) but it would be kind of nice to have it finished. So, I’m keeping the faith and I have donuts a fresh pot of coffee all set to plug in for them.

Recently, I received an email, which I, in turn, spread around to some of my friends, that was a list of 25 Christmas questions. Questions like favorite gift as a child; where do you spend Christmas; favorite thing to eat; real tree or fake…things like that. Right away when I got to favorite Christmas song, it was no chore to name mine–Oh, Holy Night, and I especially love how Donna Summer sings it. Then, for haha’s, I listed the first two songs I hate which are, “The Little Drummer Boy” by anybody, and Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano. Well…… I have to thank the deep dark recesses of my mind for not even conjuring up this next one the day I filled out my answers in that email because it would have been plaguing me that much longer; “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”. All it took was hearing a snippet of it this morning while I was waking up to get it stuck in my head and I cannot get rid of it. It just keeps playing over and over and over in my mind. And I think that rounds out the songs I really cannot deal with at Christmas.

But I have an instant remedy for such an earworm and I know I’ve posted this video before, but I’m going to post it again, just in case grandma and her reindeer are running around in your head now and you want it out, you, too, can purge.

Ah, well, look at that! As I’m finishing up this blog, who pulled up with a truck full of conduit? Patio Joe! All’s right with the world once again.

Hats Off To The New Room

December 21, 2010

It’s been 372 years since the last lunar eclipse that fell on the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Did anyone see it?

Someone said I should change my mug shot, so I’m experimenting.

Okay, some good news. The new lighting fixtures we picked out for patio are available and came in within our price range. The only thing though, this particular set does not have a matching wall lantern, as they evidently are called now. I mistakenly looked for porch lights online and got everything from strings of Christmas lights to plastic Santas that light up. I learned of the new terminology while we stood in Lowes last night, looking for one we found on their website only to learn it no longer exists (note to Lowes: update update update!) when I went on the Home Depot site and found the perfect “match” to the post lamps. Of course, it’s not available in any store within a 35 mile radius. So, someone is supposed to be calling me today to see if it can be ordered or we’ll have to keep searching. There really is no urgent rush except for that we hoped to have the entire thing done at once.

So, worked vigorously continued on the patio yesterday and today the pavers will be finished, the fencing installed and the garden beds done. At least that’s the plan. More guys are expected today, so I have a larger pot of coffee set to go for them. I took a few pictures yesterday but I will post them tomorrow to make it a more impressive presentation and so that means, now, I can show you the new room.

   

A look at both entryways with the finished new base moldings. Of course we still have to paint. Then we sneak in through the kitchen for a first peek at the room.

   

Some close up shots of the dining room, spread out and cleaned up and then the woodtone vertical blinds on the sliding door. I still can’t believe we have a sliding door.

    

This first room is where all that dining room furniture had been since we bought it, ages ago and we’ve used that room maybe 3 or 4 times in nearly 12 years. Recently, the table itself became the pantry. That’s the futon that helped cramp up my office, which also needs a makeover (nothing drastic, just some rearranging). We have two chairs that were Grandma B’s we want to have recovered and put in this ex-dining room, but the upholsterer we contacted only went so far as to tell us he’d call when his samples came in and that was over 2 months ago. Then the gaming corner/breakfast nook with two settees a pie wedge lift top table and then a long shot of the dining room from in front of the slider/futon room.

 And at long last, the fan. The ceiling had to be raised to 9 feet to accomodate it, but really, wasn’t it worth it? We’re thinking of painting the sides of that tray the same color as the room, but we have to get more of that color because we’ll aslo need it for the paint job we’re doing in the kitchen, kitchenette and the futon room.

 And lastly, a fond memory and a tribute. Way back, while the addition was still in its rough framing stages, on an already blistering hot Saturday morning, Ariel spotted Lou’s straw hat he’d wear to shield the sun hanging on some scaffolding. “I have to get a picture of that,” he said and snapped a shot. I had an idea of having a print made and giving it to Ariel for a Christmas present. Of course, as time progressed, it seemed more and more fitting that we should have that print and I got to work on designing it. I ended up giving it to Ariel earlier than Christmas because the day it arrived, was the day of Lou’s wake and it was a joyous symbol on such a solemn day. And that’s the picture you see on the table on the pie wedge table.

On The Move

December 20, 2010

It’s official. Semi-official. We moved into the addition this weekend. Jim told us we could, that his son had explained the situation to the inspectors and they said we could move in, but we still need that railing on the back steps in order to get our CO.

Lou’s wife called the other evening to give us an update on what will be happening in the coming days and also to ask what all we still needed done according to the contract and all of it will begin, possibly as early as today, with a guy coming to measure for the railing.

Meanwhile, the patio is progressing, the retaining wall was completed on Saturday and Joe showed us the markings of were the fence posts will be. With any luck we’ll find out today if we’ll have lights so the entire job can be completed in one fell swoop. We’ve had to change our minds a few times because the lights we’ve been picking out haven’t been available and, of course, we wouldn’t expect anything different.

So, as I said, the rarely seen dining room furniture is in, as well as our gaming area. To our, or at least, my surprise, it fits and with lots of room to spare, better than I had imagined because taking into consideration all kinds of factors, it would be a tight squeeze sitting around that table. And speaking of that table, and the chairs, the sideboard and the buffet, all of it was stained and polished to a brand new luster and the set hasn’t looked that good since we got it. And yesterday we began to rearrange the other rooms in the house. After all the hubbub of the holidays, we’ll get the painting done.

Oh, did I tell you I took pictures? But I don’t have them ready for today. We took a friend out for his birthday last night and got home a bit late so I didn’t get a chance to get them blog-ready, but they will be up soon enough…including the long-awaited shot of the ceiling fan.

On that note… later!

Here’s To The Omelette

December 17, 2010

 

Amazing, you know what I mean, like….whatever! Well, whatever was voted by 39% of those polled to be the most irritating word of 2010. “Like”, which received 28 % of the vote was mostly by the age group that most uses the word; kind of like they don’t know enough to come in out of the rain. “To tell you the truth” and “Actually” were also on that list of irritating words. But what I want to know is, where the f**k is “amazing”? You know what I mean?

Another harrowing day under our belts concerning the CO for the house, but from the way Jim was talking yesterday afternoon when he came to finish the section of the floor molding in the kitchen, his son arranged for the inspectors to give us, I guess, a temporary CO, meaning we can make use of the room for the holidays. But then we have to haul everything back out afterward…just kidding. No. Actually, it’s all a bit confusing and a little frustrating because one way he said it, it sounded like it would be the final inspection and then another way he said it, it won’t be until the patio is done and the railing on the back steps is installed, even though an inspection isn’t required for the patio. He and his son, who knows and has dealt with these inspectors on numerous occasions will be here today.

Meanwhile, as you can see in the slide show below, work is progressing quickly on the patio. In fact, Joe said by next Thursday it’ll be finished. Now, whether that includes the lighting all depends on his ability to get them in time. He knows our price range, he knows the color, and he has an idea of the design we’re looking for. I gave him free rein, actually, carte blanche was the snooty word I used, to just get whatever lights meeting that criteria he can so the entire job can be completed at once. So, again, we’ll see.

Meanwhile, this slide show comprises two days of actual work, from the trucks setting up in the yard to the actual patio portion being 7/8 the way completed and maybe one shot of how the machines are rutting up my grass. But I guess you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. So, here’s to my omelette! And in case you want to see any of them longer I also included a “gallery”.

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Round And Round…

December 16, 2010

Okay, consider this a warning, I am not responsible for this blog. I actually wrote it last night and I was completely drained. Let’s review:

The Patio Brothers came with their posse and began work on the patio. When I could, when an opportunity arose during the day, I took a few progressive pictures. I thought I would take one after they left but, alas, the put the hay back and recovered the whole shebang with those tarps. So, when I get a few more I’ll put together a part one of a slide show. Then there’s the ordeal with the lighting. The lights we wanted for out there, which we ordered months ago, when we ordered that fan, which you haven’t seen yet, were backordered and were due to in the beginning of last month, and then yesterday, but as of this past Monday, they now won’t be shipped until at least the end of January. Well, neither would a completely new set we picked out, or a third. So, now we’re scrambling to find lighting so the work can be completed in one shot.

Meanwhile, the New-natics (oh, yeah, see? It does work!) were here, did a final sanding on the spackle, put the kick plate on underneath the slider, the saddles in the doorways, and they put the baseboard moldings up in the kitchen and old dining room and somewhere along the way they ended up about three feet short in one section, which will have to be done today. Also, what needs to be done is the railing on the back steps and Jim is not sure he’ll be able to get to that today because he’s got another appointment at noon and isn’t sure when he’ll be here. From the way it sounded by the end of the day, if it came to it, he’d have to put the railing up on Friday–remember, he leaves for home on Saturday–and it would be ideal if he were here when the inspector came; I’d be more comfortable than having to face the inspector alone. But that can only happen if the railing goes up today. Of course, either way, there’s the chance we could fail and it could be who knows when, and by whom the work would get corrected. I’m trying not to think of that. Kind of seems small potatoes by comparison to their current situation, and things are getting done as they can, but how nice would it be to finished before Christmas? So, we’ll see.

We go LIVE to Thursday morning. There was a dusting of snow blanketing the ground when I awoke. Should not interfere with patio progress.  We now return you to your pre-written blog, already in progress.

That observation I wanted to share is that, am I the only one who seems to think it’s staying lighter later these days? I actually wanted to write about this last week, but something shiny must have caught my attention. The shortest day of the year is still a week away, but I began to notice how light it was between 4:30 and 5 a week or so ago. So, that makes me wonder if the earth’s axis may have shifted somewhat. And if my observation isn’t equal to or greater than a hallucination, I wonder if that isn’t the true cause for this global warming you hear tell of. I mean, look, there was once an ice age and now there’s this opposite phenomenon.

Hey, you know what? This wasn’t such a bad blog after all, now that I go back and look at it.

Now, (and remember this is last night) it’s time to go have another slice of that confidence shaking apple pie.

 

Fading Away

December 15, 2010

I had a scary experience last night. Ariel brought home an apple pie someone had brought to work to give as gifts for the holidays and when it was finally time to have dessert (yeah, I know, there goes my fat belly again) I cut each of us a generous portion, poured a glass of milk for myself and doused Ariel’s in whipped cream. I took my first bite and, oh my God…it was delicious. I don’t even think the last one I made tasted as good and you know I pride myself on my apple pie, from crust to filling. For me to really rave about another apple pie, and mean it…now I’m nervous. Maybe I’m losing my touch. I better go make one and regain my confidence.

Is it my imagination or is my blog snowing harder as the month progresses?

Okay, quick “house” update. The “New” Crew (get it? New rhymes with Lou… and Newnatics just doesn’t have the same ring, so…) was here yesterday to do some more work and will be back today to continue on those last details that need to be taken care of. The New Crew consists of Lou’s 2 brothers; Jim, the one from Virginia who has been up here for a while and who is going back to see his wife this coming weekend and will be gone for two weeks, and Charlie, along with his son, Dave,  from California who are leaving for home on Thursday. Jim is confident we’ll be inspection ready before he leaves and we just have to hope we pass. Patio Joe and Patio Brother are to begin on the patio today.

Oh yeah, don’t touch the bottom of a hot frying pan.

So, here’s something odd. Since we got the bathroom redone upstairs, we’ve gone to hell with ourselves and bought several sets of nice plush towels in several regal colors, all that compliment the new tile work. We’ve been noticing that one towel of each set has been fading in blotches. Ready? I’m the cause of it. Well, not me, but my soap.

My new dermatologist had recommended a soap to use to help clear up my yucky dry skin and I’ve been using it since the summer. But now, since it’s getting colder, my skin is drying up even more and I went online to see if Pan Oxyl had a lotion I could use after my shower. I started to read some user reviews and one of the people who wrote warned that his or her towels were discoloring. So, I had to make a quick decision and I found a new soap, Dove special limited edition winter formula bar soap and already I’m feeling as smooth as a baby’s bottom with a grit grade of 30. Got any paint you want stripped? I can do this little dance…..

That’s all I got and hopefully tomorrow I’ll have some progress pictures on the patio and I also have an observation I want to share.

So, You Think That’s Big

December 14, 2010

On a final note, on Friday, we went and paid our last respects to Lou and his family.

We then thought we’d go to dinner at O’Connors Steak House and were anxious to see what they’d done with the place, since the last time we were past there, a sign announcing a new restaurant was soon to come. Well, it’s still coming and after much deliberation as we drove around trying to decide on where to eat, we settled for Ruby Tuesday.

Saturday evening we visited some friends down the shore and their ferocious–sorry, check that, precious little Chiweenie, Rusty who stopped at nothing to get us to bring him home with us, well, maybe with a little nudging from me to pack his suitcase. We hear he talked about nothing else but us after we left.

So Sunday came and it was the day of our company Christmas party that was over 1400 strong. Because of the amount of people we didn’t have the normal sit down dinner, but rather it was an open, all-evening cocktail hour with food stations set up throughout the various rooms of the Westmount Country Club. It was a great idea so that people could eat what and when they wanted and it afforded everyone to mingle. From the sound of it, this set up was received better than was anticipated.

What we didn’t expect was for Ariel (and a few others, as it turns out, we found out later) to wipe out in the foyer of the banquet hall. They redid the entryway and staircase with a translucent acrylic that lights up in a rainbow of colors from underneath. Sure, it’s all sparkly and elegant, but it had been raining and the ground was wet and that combined with that new flooring sent Ariel to the floor and he somehow twisted his knee and now it’s all swollen and he can hardly walk. They had a mop girl stationed there to clean up the wet spots, but it was suggested perhaps a rug might have been more effective.

But otherwise the party was a success and I had my big moment when my name was called out in the roster of employees with 10 years in the company. And I got a wristwatch as a gift. Wow, ten years!

See that picture? We went out Saturday morning to sort of point out the size of the patio. That’s us in the background and in the front, that huge brick thing is a piece of the retaining wall and is at the far outside corner. Ariel is up by where the garden portion will be and that will run the entire length along that side of the addition. From the front, or rather the side where the slider is, to where that block is and over to me is the actual patio part.

Then yesterday, Patio Joe and Patio Brother–I call him that because I don’t remember his name–came by to lay some hay down and cover it over with tarps to keep the ground warm where they’ll be working and I took some pictures of that to get a little better idea of the enormity of it. Plus with the fencing and lights and the new slate fire pit that just arrived yesterday we’re gonna be on our way to our own Shangri-la at Leaning Pines. Next thing we have to do is find furniture. So, stay tuned.

  

To Every Season

December 9, 2010

Okay, you might not believe this, but I just killed a mosquito that was flying around my computer monitor. I guess he didn’t get the memo that it’s freezing cold out. Neither has that dive-bombing fly that’s been buzzing around the kitchen for two days, seemingly in slow motion until you go to swat at it and then it disappears.

So, to catch you up on stuff, while we were away in Illinois for Thanksgiving, the landing, I guess you would call it, on the back steps was done as you can see in the photo below. We hadn’t expected the four slate pavers to be included but what a nice touch. Trust me, there are four and the little bit of brick pavers that you see factor in elsewhere in the story.

On Saturday, after the bizarre Friday night, we met with Patio Joe who had indeed gotten my message about enlarging the outline for the patio. He even agreed that the original 15 feet from the back of the house was kind of small, hence his “you’ll be boxed in” warning, so he outlined both a 20 and a 25 foot mark for us to decide which would suit us best. Quick, which do you think we chose? Right, the 25 foot. And there is still plenty of yard leftover. I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture from the far end of where the patio will be to the house to give you an idea of how big it’ll be, but there’s time. I thought I had. I guess I didn’t. Anyway, Joe told us he has two jobs he’s finishing up this week and he can get to us, if not by the end of this week, then definitely by next week. And the start time has been confirmed for Monday, so I have a few days more to get that starting picture instead of this football field wannabe.  And he said the entire project should take no longer than a week, so by the weekend, we could be stepping out onto our brand new fenced in, very LARGE, patio.

Those brick pavers in the first picture are the ones Joe suggested. Their colors compliment both the original brick on the house and the stonework on the addition

While he was here, his father-in-law, Lou’s brother was also here applying a second coat of spackle on the entryways and he would return the following morning for the final coat so that come this past Monday it could all get sanded and ready for paint and the moldings put up and tie up what all is left to do. But Monday came and went, as did Tuesday. Then yesterday afternoon, while the Carlosians were busy cleaning the leaves, the call came……..