how great is this?

o brother where art

Oceangurl's brother might want to work on the place.
Jersey Girl's brother might want to work on the place.
My own brother might want to work on the place.
The first two are local—from the mainland. The latter, far from it—Santa Fe.
Those of you who are asking about The Man From the Dump, sorry girls. The Man from the Dump is an Islander, and thus by definition both unreliable and expensive. A worse combination I can't imagine. Off island workers, by contrast, are usually eager to get the job done and go the heck home. Especially in those shoulder seasons on the Island when there are no girls and no restaurants and the wind never stops blowing and the boat doesn't run and there's basically nothing to do but work and drink. Plus would I rather pay somebody's brother or a stranger?
And, oh yes, Oceangurl's brother doesn't drink and neither does mine. Let's see how it times out.


wind hole

port hole
There have been complaints lately:
"Why so many window pictures?"
"Are you just observing life and not participating?"
"Are you spending too much time on the inside looking out or vice versa?"
Let me just say that my obsession with windows has some basis in reality. Other than the frame, which is also worrying me, windows will be the single biggest cost of this new house. I spent some quality time with the Andersen "Coastal Product Guide for Professionals" (which Pomegranite found for me at the dump after The Architect threw it out) this morning, and I am panicking big time.
I can't even order. I know I need the Storm Watch series, but do I want the High Performance Impact Resistant Glass or the Monolithic Clear Laminated Impact Reisitant Glass? What should the performance rating be, DP +50/65 psf or more? How about the AAMA/NWWDA? What is the AAMA/NWWDA? No freaking clue. The details for the rough opening are still scarier. Buy windows, pop em in, trim em out—that's all I knew.
I do know that with building codes for hurricane areas being enforced it will be more money per square inch of glass than I can imagine.
So, yes, I'm obsessed with windows.


my kinda gal

A heart-warming construction story from a far-flung correspondent:

The bond formed between a little girl and some construction workers makes you believe that we CAN make a difference when we give a child the gift of our time. . .
A young family moved into a house next door to a vacant lot. One day a construction crew turned up to start building a house on the empty lot. The 5-year-old daughter naturally took an interest in all the activity going on next door and spent much of each day observing the workers.
Eventually the construction crew, all of them gems-in-the-rough, adopted her as a kind of project mascot. They chatted with her, let her sit with them while they had coffee and lunch breaks, and gave her little jobs to do to make her feel important. At the end of the first week they even presented her with a pay envelope containing a couple of dollars. The little girl took this home to her mother who said all the appropriate words of admiration and suggested that they take the two dollar "pay" she had received to the bank the next day to start a savings account.
When they got to the bank, the teller was equally impressed and asked the little girl how she had come by her very own pay check at such a young age. The little girl proudly replied, "I worked last week with the crew building the house next door to us."
"My goodness gracious," said the teller, "and will you be working on the house again this week, too?"
The little girl replied, "I will if those assholes at Home Depot ever deliver the fucking sheet rock."



So youse takes the architectural plans, see, and youse makes 'em into something intelligible to the computer, and den dese guys feed big old pieces of wood into their machine, and den the machine, notches, cuts and bores until youse can pop that frame together just like Lincoln logs.
Oh yeah, der machine ist German.



merry merry merry merry merry merry merry merry merry merry merry merry merry merry merry etc.


frame picture

Checked out Rick and Jack's new post and beam house, then went to a meeting with the company that's putting it up to find out that the price they quoted me has gone up by 10 percent thanks to petroleum price hikes—Douglas fir comes from the West Coast. Pine?


house of rex

This is Rex's winter home. Just so you know, Rex has decided on his summer place. It will be Claudia's Surf City I or II, depending on status of construction. Rex's owner writes, "Please give the owner of the House of Hat a big sloppy kiss from me and a sniff-sniff from REX! Tell her that I'm sorry but her house is not the famous Claudia's Surf City! & never will be."


escape from new york

Left the city at 6 ayem, a transit strike underway. Police cars blocked the West Side highway southbound at 96th Street, and already the cars were stopped for miles. Only cars with more than four people were able to proceed to midtown.
I was headed north with a truckload of presents and doors. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. But I regretted it. I love New York during a disaster. Blizzard, blackout, terrorist attack, transit strike—it shouldn't be, but somehow it can be fun.


police blotter

A jealous spat marred an otherwise pleasant holiday season as Dolores and Angelina came to blows in a New York City apartment.
The cause of the argument appeared to be the guest list for a seasonal party. According to eyewitnesses, Angelina, founder of Jeal-Anon, maintained that Dolores had not invited her to the festive do because of jealousy. Dolores then cited another party that Angelina had failed to invite her to. The two former friends then attempted to choke the life out of one another, as the hostess despaired of intervening.
A neighbor's call to the police resulted in a warning but no arrests.

baby, it's cold

Maybe it's the weather, but my thoughts have turned to heat. Mr. Know-It-All has this to say:
Your furnace ought to both heat the water for the radiators, which will then carry a freeze protection antifreeze solution in a closed loop, and the water for your hot water faucets, both loops being closed so the water from one does not mix with the water from the other. For the hot faucet water side, you can either go with an on-demand unit or you can get a jacketed hot water holding tank connected to the furnace. I think plumbers tend to recommend the latter because of the volume of hot water that Americans like to use when they bathe. On-demand systems come in various volume sizes. Either way, the hot faucet water uses the oil fired burner to heat the water, so the furnace never sits idle even during the summer season. There are also furnaces that can burn alternative fuels--even our common oil-fired furnaces can use a certain proportion of vegetable oil. Wood furnaces would be nice if we had any wood on the island. With the price of heating oil so volatile, it would be nice to have an alternative. One thing here in the winter that is a cause of concern to those of us who have stopped taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors is that the electricity goes out fairly often and sometimes for quite a while, as when we have nasty blizzards that knock over the power lines. Without electricity, even oil fired furnaces go out, and sometimes, depending on the cycle they happen to be on when the electricity goes off, they don't come back on automatically, but the re-set switch has to re-set. This is all very confusing. But the point is that a built in propane or gasoline-fired powered generator is not a bad idea up here where one is dependent on a sole power source from an aging power company with above ground power lines subject to breakage.
On the web, the brands I found were Takagi and Monitor. But as I have no idea what size I need, I'm not much forrader.


doors to nowhere

Here is a concept not often used in architecture, but often used by builders and rennovators: Build the walls around the doors.
The trip through the labyrinth of the Demolition Depot last week with the Mystery Woman (above) revealed the value of what I typically score from the trash in my building.
And I have scored again. Thanks partly to the season and partly to the fact that he has to clear out the basement, the super gifted me with six doors, some with hardware. Two old glass-paned French door types which are wide enough to be perfect for the wheelchair access interior doors downstairs, and four solid wood closet doors, one with decent mirror. By the calculations of the Demolition Depot (which I in no way endorse), that's upwards of $2000 worth of doors. Yes! And Bob and Hector (below) were nice enough to help me load 'em up in the truck. Hopefully the Demolition Depot guys won't steal them off the street before I book.


preserve me

The grand Ocean House, an old hotel in Watch Hill, RI, will be destroyed this week. A Wall Street zillionaire bought it saying he'd save it—even printed up T-shirts—and now says it has to come down to build condos and a resort.
I need doors and fixtures, and thought it might be nice to get some from that historice structure. The guy at Demolition Depot, an ex-Downtown venue now on 125th Street is selling the Ocean House stuff. It turns out he's not selling it yet, but here is a sampling of his other wares, much of which I, and I assume he, can find for free in our local dumps and dumpsters.
Old doors: $350 and up. That green sink: $2850. The white sink: $1750. Sconces: $12,500 the pair. Derelict tin tub similar to the one pictured but a wreck: $2250.
I don't think I'll be purchasing anything from this emporium. The stuff is nice, but the man's a scam artist. Preservation my ass.


it's a foundation

Dear Mr. Mason, Remember? The last time you were building piers on my place it was 9/11, and I was crazed to get back to New York.
As you can see, there are a lot of piers. Do you remember what brick we used before? Maybe I can find it in my files.
The design shows two stacked fireplaces. I was thinking of small, shallow fireplaces, maybe a 30-inch downstairs and a 24-inch upstairs. Do you know anything about Rumford fireplaces? People tell me they are the way to go SEE PICTURE I’m not familiar with code on BI for fireplaces. Better give me a price on just one, as well, as I may have to bag the upstairs one due to cost. Since the chimney runs inside the house, my bro said you would likely have to build in stages. Check out these WAY COOL CHIMNEY POTS.
I am hoping to get my final approval from CRMC in February. I would start as soon as weather permits. Some site work (i.e. clearing) will be done by the septic designer, but of course I want to disturb the surrounding land as little as possible.
A surveyor will be marking the corners of the building soon. Is there anything more you need done?
I’m so happy this is working out. Hopefully there won’t be any major national disasters during this project.


ye olde lang syne

That's Dangerman and Mary Ann on the last weekday that the best bar in midtown was open. In our years at Life and Time, Dangerman and I closed down working class bar after bar until finally we landed at Ye Olde. It had the best rock and roll jukebox in the city, the best decorations (it was always Christmas, St Pat's Day, Halloween simultaneously) and Mary Ann, the best waitress. It also had the best clientelle, i.e. we could be pretty sure that we would see no one from work.
Mike has been the bartender for some 34 years, since age 19 when he went to work for his father, who owned the place. He remembers the night the Rockettes did a kick line, the night Liza Minelli had her first legal drink, the budding standup careers of Freddy Prinz, Ruth Rutner, Larry "Curb Your Enthusiasm" David, trying out their acts at the open mike in the corner. He remembers the chi-chi clientelle from Studio 54 across the street slipping over for a quick drink or a quickie in the balcony room.
There's the table of Con-Ed workers, toasting Mike in Champagne. "The most racially diverse table in the city," says Dangerman. "Asian, Indian, Irish, African-American, Carribean—all table wrestling and arguing but together at 'our dive.'" There are the insurance company crowd, the information services nerds, the session musicians from the nearby sound studios, the coworkers having affairs, the hooker cashing a check. Here we all are.
Here are me and Dangerman, dealing with romances and divorces, births and firings, wars and deaths. Here are our little children, eating fries or asleep at the table. At this table, a hundred plots have been hatched, a hundred ledes written and stories edited, a hundred grilled cheese sandwiches consumed, summit conferences held, tears shed. Like now. Mary Ann is crying, Dangerman's eyes are misty. Dolores speaks the epitaph: "We had a lot of fun here—when we should have been at work."
For serious mourners, there's The Tripple Inn Refugee Portal


narnia, or the original lion king

A movie made from the Chronicles of Narnia opens today, the first of a series. Annoyingly, Christian bookstores are making a coordinated push to sell the books. There is no question that Christianity runs very deep in the stories. What no one seems to have focused on is that it is a brand of Christianity that betrays its deep roots in paganism and archetypal myth. You've got tree worship and the occult, witchcraft and blood sacrifice for power--all the facets of pagan worship that, cooptedd by the church, made Christianity so successful. OK, you've got the father (the Emperor from Beyond the Sea) and the sacrificed son Aslan), but those are deep archetypes from ancient agrarian civilizations, and I defy anyone to find the more recent holy ghost in the Narnia books. While not the intention of the author, the Chronicles seem to me rather a subversion of Christianity than support. For What Happened After, check out Return to Narnia


learning curve

I hope that Kevin will be my new lumber company rep, but it remains to be seen if the company approves my application for a $30,000 line of credit, given that I don't have a job or an income. Following is my hopeful note.

Dear Kevin,
Attached is the window schedule for the house I'm building.
I basically need a quote. These are two-over-two double hung windows for the most part. Also four sets of French doors—fuck me! I think I am required to have factory installed mullions and a windload upgrade to DP 50. You would know that better than I. I think Andersen, the company you usually use, calls these windows Woodwright, but I'm not sure.
I may look into some other manufacturers as well. The quote I have so far is from Loewen, which I think doesn't meet the windload requirements and comes to something over $20,000. I am assuming Andersen will be double that.

Look at the lingo in that letter. Tip of the iceburg. I also read an interesting thing that said when French doors are installed in a high wind area you want them to open out rather than into the house so that they are forced shut by the wind rather than open. Makes sense to me. When you are about to spend $40,000 on windows it pays to improve your vocabulary.


hay is for houses

The first directly construction-related purchase has been made: 70 hay bales. They buffer the sensitive areas (i.e. ponds, salt and fresh) on the property. Each must be butted up against the next and affixed there with two stakes through the heart and into the soil. The Coastal Resources Management Commission even tells you what kind of hay and in what direction the baling twine around it should stretch (lengthwise). Alternatively, I could use a synthetic filter fabric barrrier made to USDA Soil Conservation Service specifications, but really, I think I prefer hay bales.
Besides, one of the last farmers on the island had his last two cows die on him, and he has a lot of hay in the barn he doesn't need. For $2 a bale, it will be mine.


fast passage

At 9:30 I left New York, making the Westerly, RI, DMV by noon. There was no one in front of me in line, so I scored my tempoary licence, went out to lunch with the Mack Attack, who doesn't believe I can build my house on the island for less than $720,000, left RI with him at 2:00 and was parking in a Huge Spot at 5:00, before the snow arrived.


winter farm

The past few nights it's been: New York, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, New York. Tonite: Rhode Island, then back to New York.



Desperado's into a seventies thang. She's listening to music from the seventies, reading books set in the seventies, wearing ruffled bellbottoms from the seventies, using fake-fur bedspreads from the seventies, and she's just lit up an artificial Christmas tree in the block-long loft in Newark that's straight out of the seventies. Not to mention living more like she did during that decade than she did in, say, the ninties.
We're talking the kitchen sink in the two-holer bathroom. There's no heat other than that thrown by a (literally) electric fire and the sun coming in through the windows. And with the exception of some high-tech equipment (computers! wireless! cellphones! digital cameras!) and a few lines on the face it's the hippie-boho life all over again.


chick magnet

The elevator man says Cuba collects the ladies like flies to Tupelo honey. The teamsters on the set say so too. "They were raised by rich people in Havana Cuba," says the owner. "They have no purpose in the world besides being pets."