Friday, December 24, 2010

A rose no longer grows

Alas, even the phoenix roses could not survive the botched transplant we did. If only we could have found the root ball...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lest I have not been clear...

...just how backwards our electricity is, here's a shot of our old meter and fuse "box." And yes, the meter was INSIDE the house!

Hm. So maybe that's why we haven't gotten an electric bill yet?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Inner Ghetto Just Grows and Grows

The former owners put a new roof on the house...on all of the house but the bump out I love in the dining room.

With all the rain we've been having, we sprang a leak. Luckily, our contractor was on his way over and was able to seal it off for now with a little trusty visqueen. That stuff is my new favorite thing!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More Signs of Progress

This may look like a whole in the wall to you, but to me it looks like a future electrical outlet, where I can plug in my laptop without having to run an extension cord halfway across the living room. Hurray!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dwarves and Giants Lived Here

Every light switch in the house is at a different height. So when the lights are actually working, you never know where you to reach to turn them on.

Just one more reason I can't wait for the house to be rewired!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Charlie Brown's Engelmann Oak

After nearly two months, the little guy's still standing -- and strong enough to hold not one, but TWO Christmas ornaments.

That's more than can be said for the roses we transplanted...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oops! A little too big...

We thought our tree would fit in the bump out in the dining room, but it's a tad too tall and I refuse to top it!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Signs of Progress

This is our new electrical panel. It's pretty ugly, but when we redo the siding we plan to hide it in a little box that matches the house. Not sure how much of the ugly tube leading out of it that we'll be able to conceal, though.

As soon as the city signs off on the installation of the panel, our contractor can start rewiring the house. Ceiling lights, anyone? Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Embracing Our Inner Ghetto

Both our front and back doors have these "security" gates/screen doors that are totally ghetto. We can't take the one off the back door because it's the only door there.

When the cold snap hit, we had to cover it with visqueen so we could turn on our oh-so-lovely heater.

What an improvement!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Let the Construction Begin!

The city has signed off on our plans to convert the Dahmer Dungeon into a rec room.

Our contractor is bidding the plans out this week an we expect to start construction before Christmas.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Phoenix Rose, Part Gazillion

On Thanksgiving, Rob transplanted another rose in front of the fence. It had the same weird tap root as the one he did last week.

No idea if it's a climber, but we shall see...

Friday, November 26, 2010

What the cluck?

I'm toying with raising chickens -- for eggs only.

Rob wasn't too keen on the idea initially, but warmed up to it after we did the house tour in Echo Park. We have a lot of other projects that are way bigger priorities, but I could see us having a couple of hens down the road.

Watching these critters is oddly peaceful. I'm pretty sure if I get chickens, I'll never eat Buffalo wings again. But that's also kind of the point.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another Mystery Solved!

The overhead lights in our bathroom, bedroom, Rob's office and front porch are on the same circuit. They'll work fine for a while and then just stop, forcing us to use the Christmas lights Rob rigged up a while back.

We finally figured out the lights will work as long as we don't have more than 2 light bulbs on at a time. If we accidentally turn on more than 2, we haven't figured out how to make them start working again -- turning them all off and turning on just one doesn't motivate them to light up.

A couple of weeks ago, when the lights were on strike, we accidentally left the bedroom switch in the on position. They decided to work again at 4am. While we were thrilled they were back, we weren't so happy to be woken up in the middle of the night.

Now, whenever we want to turn on a light, we find ourselves saying things like, "I need to turn on the bathroom light, so I'm turning out the bedroom light." Ridiculous!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nature at Work

Rob got interested in composting and started a bin in June when we still lived in the apartment.

It's been remarkable how much stuff we've put in here and how fast it's broken down. Just when I think there's no more room, I'll realize how much space has opened up because of the decomposition. It always surprises me how heavy the bin is.

er Halloween, we learned the hard way that pumpkins are mostly water and make a mess. But other than that, it's been a pretty easy deal.

We used some of the compost for the first time when we transplanted the roses on Saturday. Hopefully it helps!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Transplant Trauma

On Saturday, we moved two of our phoenix rose bushes. One was a climber that had sprung up by the porch; the other, a bushy one from the middle of the yard. We thought they'd look great in front of the new fence.

Oddly enough, we couldn't find a root ball for either one. The one by the porch had this gigantic tap root that led all the way back under the foundation. We had to hack it with a saw. Rob's convince he killed it. I'm holding out hope.

The bushy one, on the other hand, looks pretty damn traumatized. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Hidden Staircase

Last weekend the Echo Park Historical Society organized a house tour focused on urban sustainable living.

We got some ideas about gray water
and solar, but my favorite thing was this cool trap door that led to the downstairs. Would LOVE to do this to connect our basement to the main floor.

They Just Keep Coming

The roses the previous owners dug up are still going strong. Only one bush has bloomed so far. It's in an ideal location -- plenty of sun and plenty of water from the one gutter that works.

I'm hoping the workers don't destroy it when they do the foundation, but given that it was dug up completely and somehow grew back, I'm betting it can survive a little construction.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spacial Relations

Our plan is to convert the Dahmer Dungeon into an above ground basement while the foundation is being redone.

Once the dungeon has been converted, we'll move into it while remodeling the rest of the house.

Instead of buying the dream fridge now, we bought a small (4 cubic feet) interim fridge that we can easily move and then leave in the converted dungeon for parties, etc.

Fitting everything in after grocery shopping has become a Pythagorean challenge. Can't wait until next week when I have to cram a whole smoked turkey in here for Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Modern Day Tom Sawyer

We bought a stain sprayer and Rob started tackling the fence today. Coats 2 and 3 are tomorrow.

Good-bye Ghetto Gate

Got home from a business trip and was greeted by a brand new fence. Woo-hoo!

Rob's at the hardware store right now getting stain so we can seal this puppy today.

At the farmer's market last Sunday, we ordered some climbing roses from Theodore Payne, so this is going to be looking pretty good in just a few days.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

But Chain Link Is So Charming!

And sturdy!

Yep, that's our gate listing to the side when I try to open it.

Someone hit one of the posts when they were turning around in our driveway and it hasn't been the same since. Not that it was great to begin with, but at least i
t kept the dogs in the yard.

We're replacing it with a classic picket fence covered in climbing roses.
For now, we're just doing the very front piece of the fence so we can get rid of the ghetto gate before it completely falls apart. Later on we'll do the sides of the front yard, but probably leave the chain link in the back.

The new gate will be motorized with a remote, but the motor won't actually work until we redo the electricity -- which is at least a couple of more months away.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hot, Hot, Hot!

The water heater that came with the house leaked. A lot.

We want to be eco-friendly where possible, so Rob did some research and chose the AO Smith GDHE-50 to replace it. Down the road, we plant to use it for hydronic radiant floor so that we can get rid of the monstrosity in our living room.

The AO Smith is supposed to be even more efficient than
a tankless water heater. By a fluke, our first gas bill covered up to the day before we installed it, so in a few weeks we will be able to do a pretty accurate comparison.

It was pretty expensive but, thankfully, it's eligible for the federal tax credit.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

If It Works...

We have a picture rail in all of the rooms that, someday, we want to use for its intended purpose.

In the meantime, it makes a great clothesline for shirts that can't go into the drier.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Since It's Already Scary Looking...

...we thought we'd put up some black lights and turn it into a real Halloween horror.

Didn't really take much.

Oak Tree, Take Two!

Yep. That's Rob digging up our Engelmann. And with a real shovel, not the ridiculous trowel he used to plant it.

We have a ghetto chain link fence we need to replace (more on that in a future post) and the new fence is going to be set two feet further back than the current one. Our contractor thought the tree was too close to where the new fence will be.

In keeping with the Wicca aura of this planting experience, Rob did the replant on Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Puffer Fish! The Light!

This is what Rob rigged in the bathroom for light since the overheads are temperamental and outlets are at a premium.

After the house was broken into, we had this guy on a timer so the placed looked lived in. Talk about a high tech security system.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We Live in an Ice Cream Parlor

We have knob and tube electricity, which I had never even heard of until the inspector told us ours needs to be replaced. The outlets work fine -- what few there are. Our living room has two; the bedroom one. I can imagine the electrician in 1909 telling the owners they were being extravagant putting two outlets in the living room because, honestly, back then what were you going to plug in?

The overhead lights, on the other hand,
when they feel like it. Again, what few overhead lights there are; the previous owners graciously removed the living room and dining room fixtures when they moved out.

Rob decided to hang Christmas lights to keep us from stumbling around in the dark. They work quite well and make the place feel cozy. It's been a while since we've had incandescent bulbs; the light is much warmer than with compact fluorescents.

Of course, now that Rob has come up with an alternative light source, our ceiling fixtures have started working again. Even so, the Christmas lights are staying.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Lest There Be Any Doubt....

...that this guy is little.

My finger is at the 15 inch mark.

We expect it to start providing shade some time after we start collecting social security.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It's In!

We planted the Engelmann oak this weekend after consulting our contractor about where our sewer line is. These trees put down insane tap roots, so we didn't want any plumbing problems. Right now, we've got weeds that are bigger than this little guy, but he will grow to be gigantic.

This is a picture of an Engelmann on the Cal Tech campus. It's estimated to be 400 years old. Hope ours gets to live that long.

We went to Cal Tech because, according to the
Arroyo Seco Foundation, our sapling will die off if it doesn't have the right symbiotic mycorrhizal funghi for its roots. The easiest way to make sure it does is to put a little dirt from under an established oak in the planting hole. We had visited the Cal Tech Engelmann when we were deciding what kind of oak to plant and thought it would be nice to start our tree off with a little of its dirt. Unfortunately, it's fenced off so you can't get to it, so we had to settle for some dirt from a random oak by where we parked the car. That's me scraping some dirt (and a couple of acorns) into a plastic bag from Taco Bell. Hope I got the right fungus!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now We're Cooking!

We bought a period appropriate stove from friends who are in the process of turning a Victorian duplex back into a single family home.

It has two funky burner covers our friend jokingly c
alled "tortilla warmers." Yesterday I made burritos and heated the tortillas. The warmers worked perfectly, getting the tortillas evenly toasted. Even Rob noticed the difference!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's Little Now...

As if we didn't have enough to do with the move this past weekend, we also went to Theodore Payne Foundation, because we had learned they were going to have Engelmann Oaks in stock for just this weekend.

Rob's been wanting an Engelmann for a while and they're pretty rare, so when we got the call that the nursery had them, we were off and running.

Hard to believe that little guy is going to live 600 years and grow to be massive!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


While we were in escrow, we learned the house couldn't be sold because it didn't have a heat source -- a pretty significant problem in Southern California in July. Because it was a short sale, the owner refused to do any work on the property. The listing agent had a heater installed, but we didn't have any say on where it went. It now cuts up the only wall in our living room that would hold a book shelf, and the contractor's sloppy work left the floors the mess they were in my previous post. Sigh. And to think we're just going to rip the damn thing out at the first opportunity.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Before and After

After mopping the floors three times, I finally hired someone to come in and clean them. Can't wait to see the difference after we refinish them!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Rose Grows

When the previous owners left, they dug up all the rose bushes out of the front yard. Now some of them are growing back on their own, pretty amazing since they've gotten NO water. Of course, the first rose to appear was pretty sickly. Seems fitting.

Ghetto Curtains

After the house got broken into and graffitied, we upped our "security" by installing a couple of motion sensors and lights on timers. We didn't want the lights to come on, however, and shine a light on the fact the house was empty. And we didn't want to spend a lot on curtains. Hm. Ripped sheets, anyone? Classy!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Own, Private Dahmer Dungeon

Rob calls this our prison room.

The "crawl space" of our house is taller than I am. You enter it from the back yard, not from the house, so I've taken to calling it a detached basement.

Since we have to redo our foundation, we have decided to dig this out enough for it to be real living space.

We'll live in the house while the work is being done and then move into this new, downstairs living area while the "upstairs" is redone.

Originally we wanted to wait until the foundation/basement was complete and move directly into this new space, but the recent break-in has made us anxious to make our presence felt. We even threw a small party this past weekend, partially to let friends see it before we transformed it and partially to send a message to the neighborhood kids that the house is NOT deserted.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We're Moving In!

When we met with the engineer who is designing our new foundation/basement, we learned we would be able to live in the house while the foundation was being repaired. We need to fix a few things -- hot water heater, anyone? -- before we can move in, but one of our biggest priorities is making the kitchen usable.

Rob ripped out the old, icky cabinets. There was so much grease caked on them that the doors stuck together when I put them in the trash. Gross!!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Domino's Delivers

I was contacted by a location scout who wanted to shoot a Domino's commercial at the house because "it looks like the kind of place a muffler repair guy would live."

I called Rob to see what he thought. He said, "Sure. As long as they don't damage the place."

We spent a day or two fantasizing about how we'd spend the money, but they never called to book it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Security Breach

While I was away on business, someone went into our back yard and stole a beautiful planter Rob has had since before we met. Bastards!

A couple of days later, kids tagged the back of our house, our trashcans, etc. with grease pen. They also built themselves a weird clubhouse out of an old headboard and some plywood. I'd call in a party room, but they didn't leave any cigarette butts or beer
bottles. How considerate.

While we were cleaning up, we discovered they had jimmied
open a back window and gotten into the house. I was pretty pissed, but Rob took it in stride; he felt that, as vandalism goes, we got off easily. He saw it as a wake up call to better secure the place. I'm not disagreeing, but I was still pretty pissed.

I tried to pain
t over the graffiti, but our siding is so crappy that painting over the tags can't really be called an improvement. It did make me feel better, though, kind of like a dog peeing to reclaim his territory.

I did leave one piece of "art" untouched. When we went on vacation in Switzerland last year, Rob took pictures of every piece of penis graffiti we saw. After that, how could I not leave this "decoration" on our hot water heater closet?!?