Monday, January 31, 2005

More house stuff...

Well, it appears that things are winding up on the house and soon the construction phase will be finished. This week, the last of the granite for the kitchen will be installed and the plumbing (thank God) will be restored so that we will have running water inside the house for the first time since the start of construction in October. It is a dirty, dusty mess and even though I am excited at the prospect of moving in, I am dreading all the work it is going to take to clean it up just so it can be moved into.

Over the past few days, the medicine cabinets and vanity lights were installed in both the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms. The tub was dropped into its spot in the pedestal, and the vanity for the upstairs bath was assembled. Granite slabs were ordered for the shower seats in both bathrooms, and for the vanity top in the upstairs bath. Crown and baseboard moldings were completed in the guest bedroom and most of the moldings in the front room were completed.

What's left? Well, the kitchen still has tiling work to be completed for the backsplash. The living room (den) still has to have its french doors installed, but they are on special order and we are still waiting on them. All plumbing fixtures, such as toilets, bathtubs, showers, faucets, water to dishwasher and refrigerator, etc. have to be installed. Wainscoting has to be installed in the dining area. The oil tank needs to be cut up and removed from the basement. Tile needs to be laid in the laundry room. The garage interior has to be demolished and re-sheetrocked. Lighting fixtures have to be installed on the first and second floors. A soffit is being built for the front of the house which will change its look pretty dramatically. Then new siding has to be installed, along with new shutters and a new garage door. There's more, but these are the biggest of the jobs, and at least we can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Even after the construction is completed, there is still work to be done. Painting will take several weeks, then carpeting has to be installed. After that, shutters and window treatments. Only then can we think about moving.

All in all, though, things are winding down and now we're starting to think about the packing process for the current house, and throwing away what we don't need. It's all a little overwhelming...we're still cleaning out Jess' grandmother's apartment, which has been a long process, and having cleaned out the new house before construction started...well, it seems as though we'll never stop cleaning up houses!

Monday, January 24, 2005

Delicious. Oh, and the food was good, too...

On Friday evening, Jess and I were invited to Michael and Anthony's home for drinks and hors d'oeuvres. There were lots of blogger boys there and a few non-bloggers, too.

The company was positively intoxicating and yummy. Among the guests were Patrick, Greg, Rich, Byrne, Famous Author Rob Byrnes, Wayne, Matt, Jase, Wayne (the non-blogger Wayne), and several others whose names or blogs I can't remember. It was a fun evening, even if we did have to leave early so that we could get back to Long Island at a relatively reasonable hour.

The food was good, but I was disappointed that I didn't get to taste Anthony's famous fried chicken that Michael has bragged so much about (that, and his mama's cornbread are two things he won't shut up about, but we've never gotten to taste-though PatCH claims to have tasted the chicken); however, there was a consolation - aside from being quite handsome, Mr. Anthony makes a mean pot of chili. Michael insisted it was Anthony's first try, but it tasted like the work of a pro to me! And the guacamole and salsa that came from a local spot in Spanish Harlem was terrific, too.

Jase gave me a lesson on sushi and sashimi (I eat neither) while I admired his new glasses, which made him look positively dashing (as if he wasn't dashing enough already).

Oh yes, and lest we forget about drinks, there were plenty of choices. I chose to make a concoction of Absolut Citron, OJ, and peach schnapps. It was tasty and accomplished its objective!

There was plenty of witty repartée among the guests. And what else would one expect in a room full of gay men? I actually thought there might be a drunk-dial to Nicole,, but nobody got toasty enough while we were there to claim themselves drunk. Hey Nicole! Maybe next time. You would have enjoyed it, even if you would have been the only female there!

At any rate, it was a great evening. I hope our own housewarming party will be as much fun when we finally get to have it!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Renovations continue

Okay, some of you have requested more pictures and information on the house renovations, so this post will attempt to accomplish that.

The contractor is more than halfway done with his portion of the work - but he still has plenty left to do. The granite for the kitchen should be delivered Monday or Tuesday, and that will help the kitchen progress much more quickly. But there is plenty left to complete. Plumbing fixtures have yet to be installed. Moldings and doors are needed, and the exterior of the house will have all new siding. And of course, once the contractor is completed, there’s still painting and carpeting to be done, along with window treatments. I'll post pictures of those phases as they are forthcoming.

This is a not-so-great shot of the master bedroom. I would need a much wider wide-angle lens to capture the room than my digital camera has. No, it’s not going to stay that color! The ceiling was vaulted after the contractor tore out the ceiling to re-sheetrock it and decided it might be much more attractive if it were vaulted. And so it was. There will be a chandelier of sorts on the ceiling instead of that bare light.

The upstairs and downstairs bathrooms have been tiled and are ready for the plumbing and furniture (vanity) to be installed. That's what you see below.

This is the platform for the soaking tub in the upstairs bathroom. The tub is six feet long by twenty-one inches deep. It's not a jacuzzi, it's just for soaking. The platform is Emerald Pearl granite, which is really not emerald-colored at all, it's black with metallic flecks of blue, silver, and green-gold mica. This picture does not do it justice.

On the side wall of the soaking tub, there’s a textured glass block window on the wall to let light pass from the window on the opposite wall through the glass block and down the stairwell. I know what you’re thinking…glass block that lets you see into the bathroom?! Relax…as I said, it’s textured…you’re not going to see anything. Around the glass block, you’re still seeing sheetrock…that will be covered with a mirror that will surround the glass block window.

This is the door to the upstairs bathroom. Actually, both bathrooms have a frosted glass door to give a bigger and more cosmopolitan feel.

This is the detail of the chair rail and mosaic tile listello on the upstairs bath wall. The chair rail is a very pale grey-lavender that is pearlescent. The mosaic tile is basically purple-black with an iridescent top finish that has shades of green, purple, and pink in it. It can’t be accurately captured in a picture.

I didn’t take a shot of the shower in the upstairs bath, but it’s very similar to the shower in the downstairs bath, which you see above. Both showers will have frameless glass doors that will create an open feel.

This is detail of the chair rail and listello on the downstairs bath wall. The chair rail is tumbled Tuscan marble and the listello is assorted shades of tumbled Rainforest marble cut into two-inch by two-inch blocks.

A closer view of the chair rail and marble listello.

So, there you have the latest developments. More to come.

Monday, January 10, 2005

My three little bundles of terror

We have three dogs. Call us insane, you may be right. They are all crazy, in one way or another. They all have their own brand of intelligence, too, each is wily in his or her own way. But one of them is far smarter than the other two.

Anyway, before we cover that, we must cover each dog, complete with nicknames and explanations.

Bernice - Bernice is named after Alice Ghostley's character on Designing Women. She was named so because she is quite smart but doesn't look it or act it most of the time. She has a number of nicknames, all of which she will answer to, which is scary.

To give you an example of her wily intelligence, on the night we brought her home from the puppy pound where she lived the majority of her first nine months, we had set up a large cage for her to sleep in at night and stay in during the day until we could assess her level of house-brokenness (if you want to call that a word). We were trying to get her to enter the cage without forcing her. We had laid out a nice fluffly towel on the bottom of her cage, and put a toy in the back. The toy wasn't of great interest (she never was a toy-lover) but we got her interested in a puppy treat. I held it through the bars in the back of the cage and she would put her nose in to smell it, but was having nothing to do with getting into the cage. She tried to go around the back to me, but Jess was standing in her way telling her to go get the treat. Finally, I had an idea - drop the treat in the very back of the cage, so far back that there was no way possible for her to get the treat without fully entering the cage. It took her less than one second to figure out that she could pick up the towel in her teeth, pull it out of the cage with the treat lying on it, grab the treat, and run like hell. And so she did. Jess and I looked at each other and said almost in unison, "We're in big trouble."

Among Bernice's many nicknames: BTD (Bernice the Dog), Senior Dog (because she's the oldest), SED (Bernice has a tendency to enjoy an occasional doggie figure it out), and Horse Dog (because she jumps around like one when excited).

Mandy-we didn't name Mandy, this was her "prison" name...the name she had when we brought her home from the same puppy pound from whence Bernice came. Mandy was adorably cute but obnoxious. She came home the first night and promptly laid claim to every toy, treat, and dog article that was Bernice's. She had terrible manners. In her first week, she decided it would be funny to jump up on our bed. As she did this, she peed all over the comforter in an act of what can only be described as spite. She's very smart and understands the English language much better than she should. By that, I mean she understands sentences, not just words. Once she was asking to go out and I knew that she was asking not because she had to relieve herself, but because she wanted to go play with Dodger. I responded to her, "Okay, fine. You can go, but not him." She let out a defiant string of barks that could only be interpreted one way: she was giving me the middle claw.

Among Mandy's many nicknames are Winnie (as in Winnie Mandela), The Divine Miss M, and Sally (short for Salamander).

Dodger- Dodger was a street dog who apparently had a hard young life before Jess and his then-boss found him wandering on the Rockaway Parkway in Brooklyn. He was a filthy, grimy mess. He had been on the street so long his claws were worn down to tiny nubs that were barely recognizable as claws. His paw pads were split. His fur was matted and greasy. We found out that there were things he knew already - he was housebroken; he knew what a leash was; he hated the sound of breaking glass; and he recognized the sound of a doorbell. What we didn't know was how smart he really was.

He hadn't been with us long and he quickly discovered Mandy's prime vulnerability - she doesn't like the basement steps. She won't go down them. Bernice and Dodger descend and climb them with no problem. So in a dogfight over one of Mandy's toys one night (and understand that ALL toys are Mandy's toys), he ran to the open basement door with the toy in his mouth and hurled the toy down the stairs. Then he sat there wagging with a big grin on his face while Mandy barked furiously. Surely the dog wasn't that clever; it had to have been a coincidence. When Jess, who happened to be downstairs doing laundry, heard the toy come bouncing down the steps, he came to the bottom of the stairs and demanded that Dodger come pick up the toy and take it back upstairs. Dodger complied, but in a few seconds, there was more fighting and the toy was hurled down the steps again. That's when we knew that Dodger was beyond your normal dog. And he only answers to his name or nicknames. If you say "Dogs, let's go out," he will sit until you call him by name. He will not be addressed as a dog.

He has a number of nicknames also, such as Lee Dog, Brownie, and Kitty-Cat Dog (because he cleans his paws and face as a cat would).

More to come on this topic later.