Thursday, March 11, 2010

Almost There...

Hey! Sorry I've fallen off the Blog Wagon. Been so busy in process and you know.... Updates:

1) We've settled on a name for our hermaphroditic apartment, J.B. Tailor. Thanks for your imput. J.B. for significant initials in our lives and Tailor since once the reno. is over, it will have been "tailor-made." (Thanks "C")

2) Looking forward to updating this blog with before/after photos once it's complete. Almost all painted, kitchen floor is in , kitchen cabinets in, icestone template was measured today and every day my life consists of running around here, there and everywhere.

3) We move in less than three weeks and I am happy to report how "ready" we are. I was afraid I'd feel separation anxiety and in fact, feel quite the opposite. This apartment has literally come to life before our eyes and we are both excited for the next chapter.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Take It Slow

Living in the fastest-paced city in America, I have no hope of this ever amounting to anything around here. However, living in the fastest-paced city in America, I have to admit that this all sounds enormously tempting:

If you go to this brief Wikipedia explanation, you'll note that America only currently sports one such "Slow City" and it hardly constitutes a "city" in any meaningful sense of the word, as it is more of a smattering of villages grouped in a general location than a cohesive urban unit. It also happens to be one of me & my wife's favorite places on earth. Just a coincidence, I'm sure.

I'm not certain whether it is a lack of ambition on the part of American cities to make it onto the list or a prejudice against American cities by the people who arbitrate the list which keeps out the good ol' U.S. of A., but I expect the most likely reason is our nationwide reliance on far-flung resources of food production, processing and distribution to all be stitched together with petroleum-intensive technologies. As a nation, we made a series of very bad bets in the 1950's, 60's & 70's on how to assemble our living-arrangements, bets we now live with every single day in the form of urban sprawl, traffic and pollution, to say nothing of the warped foreign-policy agenda needed to underwrite those bets and support those lifestyle choices. Which is to say nothing about how all of that feeds back into our bitter, divisive domestic politics.

People all across this country have a vested interest in the status-quo, from the humble farmer's gas-powered tractor all the way up to the financial titans on Wall Street making ungodly amounts of money hedging the petroleum market, and every suburban home-owner surrounded by an acre of grass and only connected to the outside world via a subdivision feeder road leading to a freeway in-between. Each, in his or her own way, has multiple lifetimes of resources vested in the maintenance of the existing arrangement -- from mortgages to infrastructure. It is simply easier to hope things will just work out somehow than to cut losses and start-over, especially on a nationwide scale.

I don't know if my living arrangements are any better, though as gasoline climbs to $10 or $20 or $50 a gallon as the oil fields run dry across the globe, I figure I'm at least slightly better-positioned with my little European-style street and miles of greenspace adjacent to a river,
currently in the form of public city parks. The fact is that nowhere in America qualifies (except Sonoma Valley) because most of the other places on the list pre-date the advent of landscape-warping petroleum technologies. Either they inherited from their ancestors living arrangements made centuries before the magic black goop oozing out of the earth's crust made it physically possible to separate the scut-work of producing food from the shiny, candle-lit enjoyment of it, or their current citizenry is informed enough (with actual facts, unsullied by FOX News acting as the media wing of one political party's agenda) to collectively choose to live the right way. Admitting that the current arrangement will likely prove to be a mistake is the first step to correcting it.

I hope we're able to make the hard choices, though I feel more confident that those lifestyle changes will be forced upon us and cease to be a choice.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Green - Pay it forward

Something wonderful happened today. I saw, in action, the power that bettering yourself has on others. Today I met with our contractor (I'm gonna refer to him as Stud) and our kitchen "designer" (I'm gonna refer to her as Babe) from the Green Depot. ( It was great to have these two meet after several trips in person and what seems like hours of emails and phonecalls. There we were, the three stooges, in this naked "please love me" kitchen. One thing led to another and...before I knew it, Stud was asking Babe about green design and is asking for her card as more & more folks are asking about going green! Babe was asking him for his card as they are always looking for contractors excited about going green...Hooray! Just last week Stud had never even heard of Green Depot. Just last week, Babe was looking at me not at all sure I was even serious. And now, not only are they helping us fulfill our goal, they will likely work together again with more and more Greenies! Ahhhhhh....

It was also thrilling to have them both love the samples I had painstakingly chosen. Earlier, I qualified Babe in quotes as my kitchen "designer" as she is implementing what I've asked for but deep breath, drumroll..... I designed our kitchen friends! I hope you like it as much as we do when it's finished. One of these days I will post before/after photos. Here's a taste though, the color scheme vibe, if you will, is wine meets fog. We can't wait.

PS - a plea: please love me through my anxiety folks and reassurances are welcome. It was super scary today to write our contractor the first big deposit check. It amounts to half the final cost which will inevitably be more than currently stated. We hope we're not biting off more than we can chew but we continually remind ourselves, the cost of not doing it this higher. And as a friend of mine once said - "We're cats. We always land our feet."

Monday, January 25, 2010


Hooray! As of January 25, 2010 I am happy to report we are cleared for take off! Yup, we correctly predicted the month of January would be a wash just getting through the red tape to get started with the reno. but thankfully, we're still well ahead of schedule.

Tomorrow afternoon I will be meeting with our contractor and our cabinet lady from "Green Depot." They're both gonna come with lots of forms and contracts and I better come with lots of checks and credit cards. Ooof. Basically, I've picked out the manufacturer of cabinets (local baby - more expensive than the ones from Indiana but LOCAL LOCAL LOCAL - that was our goal) and given her measurements. She is coming to confirm with the big bad contractor man that mine & her measurements are correct. You know...cuz....we're girls ;)

The Superintendent needs 7 days notice (technically) to prepare for any large item removal and to begin the work at all. Who knows? Maybe we can start sooner. BUT I have next Monday February 1st as D-Day. This gives all parties involved a chance to get ready. For example, we have to move accumulated crap from the new place (pillows, blankets, tools, etc) back to our "second home" and write out notes to our neighbors to prepare them for Armageddon. That should go well? Fingers crossed. I'm gonna be positive but I am bracing myself for the furrowed brow of hate.

I am also awaiting an estimate from the quarry place we researched upstate. We got our slate floor samples and actually seeing the colors was a tremendous help. I hope it gets here soon as Mama needs to order! The floors, after all, need to be done before the kitchen cabinets and appliances move in. Should be fine though. The cabinets alone are about a 5 weekturnaround. The entire project (so the contractor tells us) should be 4- 5 weeks so if we order THIS week and start work NEXT week - we're right on schedule.

Phew. Lots to coordinate and still have time to sit on my A$$. Thanks for reading. More to come!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Life and Posting is Process

Hello reader! I am....not even at all sure I want to type this. What's the hesitation? Fear I suspect. Fear of failure. Fear of not keeping up with blogging which relates back to point one - fear of failure. Fear of judgement. Fear that public opinion will have a morsel into what is a very personal, precious moment in mine and my husband's lives. Our first home.

That's a bit inaccurate. We have rented our first home as a married couple for nearly six years. But this is our first purchased home as in...we own it. Holy Shit. Our goal: to renovate this gem of an apartment ethically. This little sweetie has been untended in decades. We like to say, he/she (we're not sure if it's a boy or a girl) needs not work, but love. We not only want to renovate but we want to make sure it is done in an eco-friendly manner as in, locally and sustainably.

As my husband said in post numero uno on January 1st - we are buying the products as much as possible from local non-chain vendors. We know this will cost more than if we just bought a pre-fab kitchen from the Home Depot and all but the cost of not doing it this way when we know better, is higher. Not only is it an investment in our souls but practically, an investment in our futures. If we ever sell, we know we'll make a great return not only for an eye appealing reno. but for being "green." Unless you have your head in the sand, you might have heard about the end of peak oil and climate change.

So...I will keep you posted if not daily, as I feel inspired. 'Til then, I leave you (and myself) with a vote. I think our new gender-free hermaphroditic home needs a name.
Please Vote - posted in alphabetical order:

J.B. (as in J.B. Priestly or J.B. Fletcher)
Sidney (*disqualified as the name of an ex)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Well, we did it.

Many months later, and we finally signed on the dotted line. Third attempt this last year. Lots o' money this one. And lots o' work, too. I think it will be worth it in the end, because it really is such a great apartment and in the right spot for what's next, good and bad.

But about that work, the wife is already on track for the kind green renovation I envision. She resourced stone quarried in New York State for the kitchen floor. She's picked a cabinet-maker who only builds with responsibly harvested solid wood and only uses "green" formaldehyde-free plywood boxes and non-toxic water-based glues and finishes -- plus they are located on Long Island. The countertop-maker is located in Brooklyn and uses 100% recycled material. Appliances from a company in the Bronx. Local, local, local. The building itself discourages people who renovate from discarding old hardware and keeps the various Art Deco pieces (door knobs, light fixtures, etc...) in storage for people in the building who want to use them for their own renovations.

(deep breath)

I think this is going to be great.