notes to self

If wishes were pennies and I could fly, I'd be very rich I'd be very high

Dec 17, 2007

disappointments, gratitude

At the beginning of our project our architect, Kathy Rogers, told us to choose one main design element for each room, and design the rest of the room around that one graphic element. Erin wanted something specific for our kitchen, so we decided I would design the new bathroom. Kathy sent us to a high end tile place, Ann Sacks, where I found this mandala tile that I loved, and everyone agreed to design all the elements of the room around this decorative tile. It was made by a tribe of native Americans in Oregon.
So I requested a sample tile. When the sample arrived, the Ann Sacks representative said maybe I should consider a non-crackle glaze. She felt the crackle glaze allowed the pattern to bleed unpredictably. So I requested a sample tile with a non-crackle glaze. This was in July.
Then the tribe's kiln broke down.
I got my non-crackle glaze sample on November 29th. It did not match the tile with
the crackle glaze at all, or any of our materials. The contractor said it was time to order the materials right away. So I asked for the crackle glazed mandala tiles, and Ann Sacks told us they were no longer available. Kathy suggested we go without any decorative tiles. I thought that would be too subtle. I felt like we were being penalized for Ann Sacks not being able to produce. I had a good cry over this one.
Over the weekend, I came to accept this. On Monday, I checked the counter-top stone and floor tiles, and the onyx mosaic, and thought they are beautiful enough. So, we will have a white bathroom.
These are the kinds of things that feed my depression. Like our foyer. We visualized a grand stairway with a big coat closet to one side to eliminate the need for a cluttered coat and hat rack right by the front door. Not possible. The city of Oakland required us to bring our outside wall in 18 inches from the outside wall. This is called a setback, and leaves little room for a closet.

I am seeing that I am spoiled. I am depressed because I cannot get what I want. And yet, there are people sleeping on the bench outside at the end of our block where we rent. I gave one of them a blanket one night. My therapist has suggested I practice noticing what I am grateful for. I read about a Balinese medicine man who prescribed sitting and smiling as meditation. So every day, I am remembering to feel grateful for Erin, for my health, my community, every thing I can think of. And today, I will try to take a few minutes to sit and smile.


Nov 15, 2007

Update before we go to Mexico

This is a recent picture of my new office/used to be our bedroom.

The new bathroom windows

Every day, they add a little something to our new entrance stairs.

The new bedroom is well insulated

as is our attic and Erin's sitting room.

In fact, the entire house is very well insulated now. They even put some in the crawl space underneath the floor boards. Just like Adam told me. . .


Oct 31, 2007


I can't wait to take a bath in my new tub.

Meanwhile, Mimi came to visit, and Bob stopped by, too.

And progress, the roof is being put on today.

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Oct 17, 2007

nothing is safe

Since thinking of Clayton Bailey, I quit my landscape design class that I hated, and am focusing on my self. And I've been diagnosed with depression. More on this later.
The remodel is moving forward. They got the trusses in place, put plyboard on top of them, and covered them with plastic tarps. Unfortunately, the plastic wasn't as effective as hoped, and the rain did come into our living room, a room we did not plan to remodel. Looks like we'll be getting a new ceiling. I am hoping there will not be a future problem with mold and mildew.

Then, Sunday after 3:30 pm sometime, our house was broken into. The garage, too. Nothing was stolen, as far as we, the contractor and I, can tell. I just hope the bad guys are not planning to come back with a big truck. Jeez, nothing is safe.


Oct 2, 2007



Sep 23, 2007

progress report

Here we go. This is our new staircase.

And, check it out. These are the plastic tarps protecting the roughly outlined rooms from the rain that fell on Saturday morning.


Sep 19, 2007

This is one of the carpenters, Mark. I can't get over how much he looks like Adam.

Today they started putting the walls up.


Aug 28, 2007


So, if I thought it was already bad, every time we go to Kales Avenue, things just look worse. But I try to go over there every day, to water, to see, to pick up the mail, to show my face.
At least the architect, Kathy Rogers, is back from Italy. Whenever we meet with
her, it all seems so possible, so good, so happy. She is just really nice, and comforting. I am still not so sure, but here's what we have chosen for the tiles.
Erin chose this pretty Deco tile for the decoration in the kitchen. By the way,
during a particularly stressful time at work, she chose this French CornuFe stove. She likes it for the color.

Our agreement is, she gets to have more of a say about the kitchen, so I get to decide the new bathroom.

I chose this tile,

hand-painted by a tribe of Native Americans in Oregon.

And then, I found this
incredibly delicious marble at a place in Hayward. Problem is, the contractor wrote up a budget, and I am way over it. Guess I really do have extravagant taste.


Aug 19, 2007

Are we crazy? Self-doubt faze of remodel project

Sometimes you don't know what you have until it's gone. Like this is the back of our house as it looked, unadorned, in June.

Now, they have taken the roof off.

This is why not to stand under the pull-down stairs. That is a brick that was dropped during the demolition of the chimney.

I love this beautiful woman


Aug 16, 2007

Why I am stressed out

Dining Room



Jul 16, 2007


The Yard's really getting thrashed, but they are pouring our foundation today.


Jul 7, 2007


I don't feel that good about our neighbors, Babe and Larry, hovering over our project. It seems obvious to me that as I approached unexpected, the workers were leaning on the driveway talking with Larry. Not installing the wood to support the concrete for our foundation, which is what I think they were supposed to be doing. But maybe they didn't know what to do next?

In Babe's case, she's so scary, when she was sitting there, nobody was working around our house at all. I even walked down the other side to get into the back yard.

You can see right through our house now. The planks are redwood. The crawlspace is all dug out, ready for the new foundation to be poured next week.


Jun 28, 2007

Demolition: the disturbing reality

Imagine my surprise when I went over to the house June 22 and saw this. On the left here is actually looking into our bedroom from what was once our kitchen built-in cabinet. The kitchen was this bad as well when I arrived, but I was too stunned to take any photos before the fellow had shoveled most of it out. The photo on the right is looking into the kitchen, and through the wall into the bedroom, from the back deck.

Guess we don't have to question if the wall between the kitchen and dining room will have any problems associated with the rat infestation I battled in there a year or two ago because it is gone!

This is what our exterior looks like all the way around. As Stephen says, "A tarpaper shack." I reminded him this is my castle. I imagine this must be equally (or nearly equally) horrifying to our neighbors.

To keep my chin up, I think about what it will look like in about 8 months or around this time next year. I try not to worry. I've been researching kitchen and bathroom possibilities. I have noticed, no matter how much money we throw at this, no matter how much negotiating we do, I can always find something to be disappointed about, something to not like. I want to focus on happiness, so I am choosing to feel really good about this. At the same time, I am watching everything, hoping, learning. I remind myself daily that so many people wish they had a home, or even a meal. So my troubled mind is a symptom of being terribly spoiled! Really now, I mustn't take this for granted.


Apr 6, 2007

Erin, Chloe, and Stephen Swan

This is our contractor on our home remodel project, Stephen Swan. So far, we like him.

A woman from the architect's office dropped off this sign this morning. It's from the City of Oakland's permitting process. I guess this remodel is really going to happen. Seems unreal at this point. I just don't know what to plan for. So I want to proceed with my life as it is.


Feb 14, 2007

Front elevation

Our house will look something like this with the second floor addition.

It's all very exciting.


Feb 4, 2007

Our house

Erin and I are working toward adding a second floor to our little house.

This is a very long process. We have chosen an architect, Kathy Rogers. She has drawn up some plans.

We have chosen a contractor, Stephen Swan. Now we are waiting to put the plans through the city or county bureaucracy, the design review and the permit process. This could take three months. Then we have to move out for 6 months or so, and then we can move back in.