men at work

Today the cement truck is supposed to come to pour most of the footings. They all hate my carefully transplanted bushes. The men would prefer that I planted foundation plantings after the foundation goes in rather than before. They want me to move one of them. Again.


dig this

Ground has been broken—the old fashioned way and the new. Maybe I'll be able to sleep nights, now. Committed.


thanks, guys

Have I mentioned that Nature herself has decided to cooperate with me this spring? A bit of rain when my grass needs watering; not enough to raise the ground water level as I prepare to dig. Today.
Man, however, is another matter. Specifically these guys who decided to blow out the town water lines yesterday. Nice timing. That would be the site there, right by the puddle that ate the driveway.



The manana movement begins. The mason arrives manana, on the 11:00 boat, he says. The forms are constructed. The ground is staked and the foundation laid out. The backhoe digs in. The buildings official measures. The cement truck is convinced to mix it up. Manana, baby.
Meanwhile, I dispose of the rest of the poison ivy roots and order materials. Sweettalk the lumber yard reps and the heavy equipment operators.
Then next week the boss from Santa Fe, the carpenter from New Orleans. Manana and manana. A whole house of cards built on an actual manana: Manana. Really.


hasten the mason

OK, it's Monday morning. Where is the mason? Yes, I know he just got back home to Vermont from Florida. Still, he said today. Where is he?
He started the last job he did for me (footings for a porch) on September 10, 2001. Sound familiar? That would be the day before 9/11/2001. That was the day the most dramatic news event of my lifetime happened in my hometown. And I wasn't there, because I was waiting for the mason. Just like now.


rain, rain

. . .go away. Come again, maybe—August?



Had to use a ruler to go over window openings today. The windows have all been ordered—it's where precisely they will go. The small upstairs windows (some fixed, all tempered glass) were placed about a foot from the floor. I got eight inches more after climbing out on my porch roof here to measure the roof trim. The downstairs windows are all going up an inch too. But the great sadness was learning that there was, after all, room for the 5'11" wide French doors. I quickly emailed the lumber company that made the window order and asked if it was too late to change the order.
Me too. Compromising before even breaking ground. Brother.


yay team

"I don't know if you remember me. You came out to the Island and electrified my house a few years back? With your son?"
"The writer, from New York."
"Well, I'm doing another house, and I was hoping you were interested in doing it, too."
He is. So that's my bro from Santa Fe and the carpenter from New Orleans, the masons from Vermont, the plumber and electrician from the mainland—reunited. The guys thought we were a little lunatic, but we had fun the last time and they're up for it again.


OSB panelling

The actress and the fireman are getting walls on their house this week. The walls are made of panels that are like a sandwich, with blueboard on the inside, then a layer of styrofoam, then a kind of plywoodlike particle board on the outside. The panels are assembled with splines and glue. There are little balls of stgyrofoam blowing all over the site, and the guys are chasing after them with a vacuum cleaner.
"Get your panels precut," said one guy. "Then you don't have this mess."


hope springs eternal

Yes, the Island Easter Bunny came. And the pagan roots of the holiday were made real by the fecundity of the first warm sunny day. The grass seed I planted germinated. The air is sweet. And the closest I got to church was watching the seals and their pups play behind St Ann's By the Sea.



"Hi, this is Claudia, the Donald Trump of the Island, calling. Just wanted to check if you were missing anything more from my building permit application."
"Well, actually I am." [heart sinks] "A third copy of the plans."
[Relief] "Well, I gave you three copies."
"Oh, so the other one must be somewhere around here. Anyway, permit number 174 has been issued in the name of Claudia and Hannah. You should be able to pick it up by noon."
"Thank you, thank you, thank you."

ridge party

Things I didn't know: You are meant to throw a party when the ridge beam goes up. I knew you were supposed to nail a branch up there (for obscure and likely pagan reasons), but i only just found out about the party. You mean, after spending $150,000 or so to have a frame put up, you are expected to throw a party? Before the thing gets roofed, plumbed, electrified, septicked, shingled and finished? When the money is running out and your nights are sleepless with schedules?
Frickin Druids.


pillar and post

"There's Christmas and Thanksgiving," said the actress, as she watched the first wall of her post-and-beam house go up on the island. She tucked her two-year-old closer.
"There's my life savings," thought her husband, the New York City fireman. "Up in smoke."
"Birthday parties," thought the actress. "Baths by the fireplace."
And then she realized she was sounding too sentimental. "There's the window I'll throw you out of," she told her husband. "There's the beam I'll hang myself from."
I was watching because The Contractor, The Architect and the Post and Beam People who are doing their house are the same ones doing mine within, hopefully, a couple months.
I didn't go all mushy about their house, but it was very exciting.

On another note, tonight is the night of nights—in more ways than one. Don't miss the event described below by my friend Tommy V if you're in the area:

The Romance Commandos are leaping to the stage at the Goldhawk once again.
This time it's Thursday, April 13th, and yes I've been notified by the Chosen People that it just happens to be the first night of Passover.
I swear, I had no idea. I heard about the impending smoking ban in New Jersey - they've finally gone too far - and asked Franny the owner for the last Thursday before it goes into effect.
How would I know the stupid New Jersey legislators would outlaw smoking during Passover?
This is a clear case of institutionalized anti-semitism.
I'm calling the ACLU in the morning, but before I do, I'd like to invite you to a lovely evening of musical entertainment provided by those talented, open-armed, Jew-loving Romance Commandos.

The players in the Romance Commandos, as you know, are all real mentshes, full of chutzpah and just a little meshungina.
They make me kvell.
And it wouldn't hurt for you to do a little mitsva once in a while, like maybe schlepping out to see some nice goyim play music instead of sitting on your tuchis all night like some shlemiel.
Just have a little nosh beforehand, no one needs to hear your kvetching all night about the trafe at the Goldhawk.
And remember to bring some gelt with you so you shouldn't look like some kind of schnorer.

Mazel Tov.

Thursday, April 13th
8pm - 11pm

In the back room at the Goldhawk Lounge:
936 Park Avenue (at 10th Street)
Hoboken, NJ 07030
201 420-7989
for directions


and to go with all those toilet brushes

It's time, once again, to recollect just how freaking expensive faucets are. And it's time to walk around my house and see once again why it's never a good idea to buy the cheap ones. I bought one at Home Depot the last time around. The one that leaks. The wonderful plumber who did the work and has just agreed to do the new house prefers Chicago Faucets which he says have been in business for a hundred years and can be rebuilt easily. There are also faucets from Germany, England, italy that are good. "I recently did a house that was the united Nations," he said. But he and all plumbers are agreement about one thing: Anything but Moen. No link to that website, baby. He likes Simmons mixing valves and Toto toilets. We are in agreement there. Dada says get the kind with the three-inch flapper (GMax) and glazed outflow pipe. Plumber John is in agreement. He adds that the two pieces exert more gravity than the one pieces.
I don't know about you, but I am into a traditional toilet look. Check out Toto and see what you think. I'm liking the Carroleton and the Whitney but some of you may prefer a more modern look. And BTW, the Lloyd is too expensive. Dada says men prefer the elongated bowl and women prefer round. ASccepting votes on that too. And while you're on the site, look at the tubs. The Lloyd—huge and expensive. Or compare the Pacifica huge oval to the American StandardElysse I have now. Then think about air bubble and whirlpool options. Then think about cost. Don't think about sinks—I have everything including the kitchen sink. But I need faucets for all.


how many toilet brushes. . .

. . .does one person need? Let's say a person has five toilets and will soon have eight, total. Talk about a pot to piss in! What is the brush/toilet ratio?
No wonder she was considering becoming a plumber, some of you will say. Those of you who do not know what a debacle my first effort at plumbing proved to be (the floor wasn't level and I shoulda used TWO wax rings) may be shouting encouragement from the sidelines. "There's a plumbing class at Home Depot especially for women," you will say. I know that you have ulterior motives. In the inimitable words of possibly the stupidest children's book ever published, "Everybody poops." Even rich people. Even you--yes, you know who you are.
But think about it. If the toilet brush/toilet ratio is 1:1, I will own 8 toilet brushes. That seems like a lot, especially on top of:
4 refrigerators
3 coffee grinders
many assorted toasters
8 phones and counting
3 power drill kits
and don't even think about the linens.
So, one to one or, say, one to three? Your call.


pheasant revolt

So at about this time of the evening, I can usually see a pair of fat pheasants gobbling down the grass seed I've carefully raked into the bare earth. Tommorrow, it will have been a week since I planted it. Wonder if there's any left to come up. Now that I've intruded into their territory, I wonder where those pheasants are hiding during the day. Ringnecked pheasants are originally immigrants from China, first introduced to the Willamette Valley of Oregon in 1881. Mine are not FOBs either—they have been on the island for generations.



Spent the day yesterday moving dirt or looking for a backhoe to move more dirt. I am now on a first-name basis with every backhoe operator on the island, but they were all too busy to help me out, so this hoe had to put her back in it. I am noticing a certain resistance to dealing with females on the part of the working man. Hopefully once Bro arrives, they will calm down.


kaitlin's surf city

She's on the Pacific. Okay, there's not so much surf, it's a bay in the Pacific. I don't think that's her piano, either. But we can't wait to visit.



Wolfen and the Cub are making a run for the border today. Awooo!

on the beach

Too cold to swim, but not to admire the sunset and a fire. Probably should have swam swum?), because after moving dirt and many unidentifiable roots, I'm going to have a chance to try the much touted new poison ivy treatment.



Today I need to finalize the window order. The second story small windows are the problem. They are about 18 inches off the floor—any lower and they have to be tempered glass. They can't go any higher. They can't be double hung, because they are too small, so they have to be awning or casement. Awning goes out from the top, casement from the side. They tell me casements are dumb in this wind. OK. How do screens work in awnings? Or, for that matter, in the French doors upstairs?
However, I have changed the size of the windows below. They are now two inches wider. Obviously, the windows above were designed to float directly over the top of the ones on the lower floor. I'm not sure whether they make a square window two inches wider, but if they do, it will be even closer to the floor. Sigh.
Also, they don't make a diamond window. So I will either have to make it myself or pick something else or not put it in. I have this feeling I won't be wanting to make a window around about July.
What's a girl to do? And quickly.


what would donald do?

I bet he doesn't wake up in the night worrying about cash flow, contractors and codes—even though he's got some much more serious issues than I. No sirree, Don. So I've taken Septic Maestro's advice: "Claudia, just chill."
Going to stick to moving dirt around for now.