Sunday, December 30, 2007


Random images of holidazin'...


Holi-treein'. (You can see up its skirt!)



Cute small humans.

This is what happens when you let cute small humans hold the iphone.
Yes, the above photos were taken upside-down.

Swedish Sausage Party Attendees.
BLB attendee & bloodees.

Ok, here's it all in a whirl.


This is where the house used to be, one day after the pictures below.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


What I really wanted to write about today was not remodeling, but demolition. I had to finish the remodel blog entry, because I can’t get in the habit of leaving blogs hanging, and yet here I am much more interested in something else at the moment. Demolition.

See this house? It’s a nice duplex, built 1903, great hard wood, relatively level floors, good floor plans with a cute pantry (with a window!). Maybe you didn't notice that giant yellow machine idling next to it in the alley...
But maybe the litte guy will get your attention. That cute, sound house has a bad mortgage and no one paying its taxes, and, well, you all know what is coming.

This is all we've been talking about at architecture-work. It's an absolute waste. It's an offense to the universe, to tear down this perfectly sound, well-designed house and put it in a landfill. Why? All because some big lending companies and the real estate lobbyists drop-kicked the economy.

My Mentor Architect (we will call him AM) spent a good part of yesterday and some of today prying the birch trim and removing brass fixtures from the house. Once he showed interest, suddenly the Demo Man saw $'s and then he took off the big booty: two built-in birch buffets, two birch ice boxes. The demo man got tired though, so he sold the birch archways and balustrades to AM. Our side garden at the office is now a refuse lumberyard, but we already have one project in which the homeowner wants to use the birch baseboards.

We should start advertising how hip & sustainable we are, eh?

ReMod, ReTold

In the interest of clarity, and longevity, of story, I am going to start this tale anew. In the beginning, there was a wall. The wall was at a 45-degree angle to vertical, and had several large cracks along it, like roads through a rural area, in some country other than ours that has non-grid-pattern rural roads. The crack-roads followed the topography of the wall, which swelled outward in several places, like a bit of flesh around a mosquito bite. One day, as a demonstration of the doughy quality of these swells, I poked one with my finger. The swell, however, had grown beyond the doughy stage; it simply collapsed. A clump of plaster fell to the floor. Behold! My new wall:

And this was the state of the room when work began, a few moons ago. My previous post was a little misleading, as it shows a mixing together of living room and turret. In real life, however, the living room was worked on first, exclusively, while the turret was left untouched (and was in fact filled with furniture). So here is where the story more properly left off:
This view: looking South, toward the front of the house and the street.

I had advised my carpenter to use his judgment and patch where he could, remove and replace with sheetrock where necessary. Well, you can see where that led: nothing patchable above the knee-wall.
This view: looking North, toward the back of the house and the rest of the apartment. Please do note the lovely (and useless) 80s vintage light fixture in the center of the image. For the record, plastic "walls" do not actually contain sheetrock dust, contrary to popular belief.

Wall with new sheetrock! Living room! What a happy result after having to rewash clean dishes every morning. The white dust, it's everywhere....
Wall with new sheetrock! Living room.
A little sideways window repair.
Now with paint! And for the very observant--without carpet! Actually, maybe that's the other way around. That dark surface you see is what we found under the lovely beige carpet: surprise! a stained floor. The subfloor is a rough but lovely wide-plank variety, which unfortunately will have to be covered again at some point, in the interest of dulling the sound transmission to the apartment below.
Living room, in a moment of relative presentability. In summary, what's been done as of this photo: bad plaster removed, insulation filled in as necessary, windows taken apart and put back together, new sheetrock, new paint, bye-bye carpet hello shiny, rough floor boards.

And with that stage of the mess completed, we will move onto the turret. For those who might be new to the story, I live in what is commonly called a Queen Anne Victorian, which among other features (asymmetrical craziness and a roof that makes a grown roofer cry), prominently features a tower to store princesses in. Since my tower's (former) princess decided to move to NYC, I decided to tear it up.

To start with, the turret is a 10' x 10' octagon in plan, and had a somewhat oppressive 7'-2" ceiling height. No wonder the princes fled--her turret was a cramped box. The ceiling was in good shape, so it was with a small amount--only a small amount--of remorse that we cut into the flat, crackless sheetrock to reveal... plaster. So we cut through the layer of plaster to reveal... what can that be?

So, yes, this is the inside of the turret's "witch's hat" complete with beams. Yes, those lines on there are plaster lines from the former ceiling, which was, once again, at 7'-2" from the carpet. Somewhere in this time period I began referring to the beams as the turret's "snowflake." And though the carpenter (and his father) thought I was crazy, but I would not let them cut them out. No, I insisted that he cut the sheetrock around all eight-times-three of them.

It feels a little more lofty in the turret now. The sheetrock (slowly, and perhaps a little painfully) was puzzle-piece fitted around the beams. J made a custom (star-shaped ;) ) face plate for the joint of star. The dark little shapes are where fixtures will someday live. The moulding is just to look fancy.
The princess even came to visit, so we had a little party:

Oh turret fun.
This is the first snowfall. Someone didn't get their leaves cleaned off their roof. Bad homeowner. OK. this has nothing to do with the reMod.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Home. Re. Pair.

So I thought it about time to post some pictures of the home-sweet-home, thought it’s not been a sweety, homey kind of place for a while. It’s a long story that is not worth telling of misplaced dreams and not enough time; bad contractors and even worse other things. And besides, anyone who's reading this knows enough of the story anyway.
This is not quite a "Before"... more of an "Early" image. I am not dating these images to protect the guilty. But that is lathe, lots and lots of lathe.
That is a sidways view with sheetrock--that column-like thing is the same column-like thing as in the first image. (Turn your head 90 degrees for better viewing)
OK. Now this one is in the turret. I think I need a "before" picture before this one, but I just suddenly realized that I need to step away from the computer. So this is a cliffhanger. More to come...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Oh and there was dancing

Yes, dancing!

Bulls Blood, Paprikas, & Friends

Ohhhh… When the Minnesota Hungarians get together, you’re going to feel it the next day. We ate too much, drank too much, and danced too much. It was a good time. The Gralenas are in town, the half of the Molkens crossed the river, and the half that did brought her Mom. A good time was had by all, and by some, a little too much of a good time.
Our table, the focus is a little funky.
The DeeJay and his protege
The wonderful raffle-ticket-and-sausage salesgals, putting the hard-sell on the deejay stand.

The reluctant?... no, the eager bartender
A half Mol-ken and her Mommabird.


And then came the raffle...

Our clan made off like bandits in the raffle. J-Man scored the first prize. Having only purchased one ticket, he was quite amazed. Mommabird won a bottle of wine, Cousin-T won a Rubix-Suduko (how Hungarian!), Mister-J won a lovely doily, and the grand prizes went to the table as well. Mad got the PAPRIKA PALINKA and Bob won the CAKE! Hooray!

Not everyone could win the palinka, though.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hollow Evenin'

Taking a queue from the CEOs of the world, I am backdating a few things here. Halloweens. It was fun. Master Jay and I went to party the weekend before, we were costumed as a carrot and a bunny.Master Jay’s costume required some last minute stitchery—you can’t have 4 ears! BTW, that’s my estate sale 35-dollar sewing machine. It’s a swinger, I mean, Singer.

The carrot costume—constructed via self-made rules in under 30 minutes of things already existing my apartment—weighed heavily on my wee little skull (The plastic fern was a-stuck in my ponytail), so I did not re-costume for the actual holiday on the 31st. Magyar-E & Magyar-T did costume, and the less painful bunny-costume reappeared for the great candy hand out.

For the record, Magyar-E holds the record for scaring the most children. Her devil costume brought tears to a few little eyes. Magyar-T handed out candy like he'd been doing it all his life, although this was his first Halloween. I did my small part in purchasing about seventy or eighty bucks of candy, which was gone by 7:45 PM. Lord forgive me for the teeth of the children.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Jobby 2

Aerial photos of the building I draw lines in. I put some text on the images, but it is only 150 dpi to begin with and it is utterly illegible once posted. Alas. I work in the brick building on the left, in the left-hand picture. In the right-hand picture, you can see the alley side of the building. The little window in the white addition to the building is where we draw lines and make blue prints. The blue print machine smells like ammonia. It clears them sinuses real good.
For the record, I am cheating and past-dating this blog entry, so it doesn't look like I went a whole month without adding anything. Oooo... sneakers.