Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bricks and Pizza

Man…almost a month’s worth of fun has kept me too busy to post! Now I’m FINALLY current! Needless to say, we’re enjoying our summer holiday!

So…our goal this summer has been to finish the exterior of the house. We’ve slaved away on this house and I long to see just one part of it finished. For now, we’re going with the exterior of the house, only. Not the garage or the backyard, just the exterior of the house – and we’ve been working on the front yard, which has been directly affected by what we’ve been doing to the exterior. And before I launch into this, I want to mention that this is one of the things that T and I enjoy doing together. It’s sort of a hobby, though at times I think I enjoy it more than he does. I am energized by doing projects, T is drained by them. As long as we set a decent pace and do the work in moderation, I think it’s safe to say we both have a good time.

Sooo…I don’t have any digital pics of our house to show you how far we’ve come…but the front door used to face sideways and the sidewalk routed to the left of the current door location and lead to a giant concrete ramp. In the last eight months, we’ve busted out that ramp and all the excess concrete, filled in with dirt, and laid sod. FINALLY we have poured concrete to complete the sidewalk so that it actually goes to the steps/front door! I can’t believe we’ve finally done it! Hooray! Oh the house has been transformed! And it’s been a long time coming. Our neighbors have been very patient. We still have much to do, but we’ve certainly come a long way!

Now that we’ve mixed some 48 80lb bags of concrete and poured them ourselves, we just have to brick over it, fill in the sides with dirt and a little extra sod, and the sidewalk will be complete! I’ve got to hand it to T. He is AMAZING! He built the curved forms for the sidewalk all by himself! He is so talented! His skill and his attention to detail, his desire and perseverance to do it right the first time is unbelievable. He has read massive amounts of books and magazine articles about building and is self-taught. Babe, you are amazing! I am SO PROUD of you! Thank you for all you have done to turn this house into a beautiful, structurally sound home!

We’ve ordered the bricks and they will hopefully be delivered sometime in the next few weeks. We bought Old Chicago Pinks, to match the bricks we used when we built the porch. They are salvaged bricks brought from old buildings that have been torn down in the Chicago area. They’re solid and are an odd size. They’re beautiful! I’m a bit of a romantic as I love to think about which buildings the bricks may have come from and what went on in those buildings, what conversations those bricks have been privy to, etc. There’s something so mysterious about it!

Fortunately, or maybe not so fortunately, these bricks are only sold by the palette. What does that mean for us? Well, we don’t need nearly as many bricks as come on a palette to do the sidewalk (and the porch to the left of the house, where the old ramp was). So, we’ve had to save a good bit more $ to make the purchase, but now we think we’ll have enough bricks left over after we do the sidewalk and the front porch, to brick the patio out back! Hooray! I am so excited! The back patio is a mess of unplanted dirt and weeds and randomly shaped concrete. Oh the outdoor living space it will give us! Yea! And the thought of completing the exterior…ahh…that’s a sigh of happy smiles!

So what’s left on the outside once we finish the sidewalk? We’ve got to brick the porch and put in a new support beam as well as real columns and then trim it in. The back of my office needs a short length of gutter and a downspout. All the windows on the back and west side of the house need to be re-trimmed and sealed, as all the trim is rotten. We’ve got a massive, currently duck taped crack in the bathroom window on the back of the house that will need replacing, along with a few panes of glass on the front of the house. We also need to do some work on the support beam on the east facing exterior wall of the den – the deck was improperly tied in there and caused rot issues….arf! Once all of that is done, we’ll paint the new trim and touch up here and there and then, for all practical purposes, we’ll be finished with the structural and or rotten areas, and we will have hopefully protected the house from rot issues. Then we’ll make a new “dream list” and begin working on it, one thing at a time.

The big thing I have to keep in mind is remembering that redoing this house, restoring it, whatever you want to call it, isn’t about the end result, it’s about the adventures along the way. Of course, we’re eagerly working toward the end result, but the process is where the learning and growing occur. Oh, to remember that when we’re living in the middle of the mess! Oh to embrace the adventure…and to REMEMBER! To remember what the house looked like when we bought her. To remember the day that I nearly fell through the kitchen floor thanks to a dishwasher that had spent years leaking and rotting the floor. To remember that huge board that ran the width of the kitchen for how many months while we saved so we could repair the floor? To remember the insane three-day weekend when T and I hauled EVERYTHING out of the kitchen and tackled those rot issues. He was still under the sink trying to reconnect the water when his carpool ride arrived to take him in for night shift. He’d hardly slept at all! We nearly killed ourselves! There have been some really fun times. The process has been a blast. We’ve laughed and cried and yelled and fought and made up…now I’m just reflecting…I remember the weekend we built the porch. We poured 68 80lb bags of concrete that weekend. We ordered a pepperoni pizza, which, when delivered was a cheese pizza. We sat it on T’s truck so we could finish pouring the last of the concrete. When T lifted the lid on the box, there were roaches crawling all over our pizza. T ate it, I did not. By 2am, we were cleaning up to go to bed for the night. T dumped the last little bit of concrete and gravel in the yard, the yard I’d spent days picking rocks out of, and I lost it. Hunger and fatigue coupled with my complete love of myself and my sin nature gave way to yelling at my husband in the front yard! I’m sure I probably woke some gracious neighbor who’s been kind enough not to mention the incident. T and I laugh about it now, though it was NOT funny at the time.

Ahhh…enough on that.

Mentioning that pizza, I’ve got to blog on one more thing! Last Tuesday T and I were headed out for a date. Just before we left, he took out the kitchen garbage. While he was putting the trash can away, he got a phone call. I carried the phone out to him and noticed he was hiding one hand behind his back.

“What are you hiding?”

Nothing whatever! He had gotten a piece of pizza out of the garbage and was eating it!



  1. In my defense, the pizza was still in the pizza box. The box had just been set on top (NOT IN) the trash can, so the trash can barrier had not been broken. So for all of you picturing George Costanza...that's not the way it happened. Oh well, you've got to re-live the college glory days every once in a while.

    By the way, my wife can go toe to toe mixing and pouring concrete with just about any man I know (and she looks dang hot while she's mixing concrete too).

  2. "Adjacent to trash, is trash." - from Seinfield. So technically the pizza was trashed. LOL

    Christy and Scottie