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The night air is redolent of it, them.

Ok, so we’re not in Manhattan anymore.

Sitting here, checking my email before going to bed, the full moon rolling past my window, I became aware of a distinctly suburban, even rural, scent: skunk. It had been mentioned by my neighbor that we had skunks nearby. He was going through a litany of resident wildlife, varieties of insects, snakes and furry creatures. I believed him, but really paid it no mind.

Tonight though, I was transported back to the home were I grew up. We were by no means out in the sticks, but back then, before those cookie-cutter, pre-fab communities started mowing down the corn, there were plenty of fields and forested areas nearby. Our yard was regularly visited by skunks, racoons and pheasants. How cool it was to look out the kitchen window and see a pheasant walking through the yard. Alas, no more. Too much development. Too many ugly houses displacing the fields and forests and the creatures that live therein.

I guess up here, in The Bronx, these creatures have had plenty of time to acclimate to their competition and usurpers. Boldly they go, roaming about by night, mindless or rather, not minding, the nearness of humanity. In fact, as evidenced tonight, thriving on it.

There are some stray cats in the neighborhood. People leave piles of cat food in the street, by the curb, not in the middle, not as some cruel ploy to get the kitties flattened on our lovely dead-end street. Now truthfully, these cats probably would do much better eating the wild game that I’m sure abounds up here; mice, rats, what have you. But humans, in their often misguided desire to be kind, persist in their foolishness. The cats certainly don’t mind.

Nor do, it appears, the racoons.

Tonight, smelling that long forgotten perfume of startled skunk, I decided, perhaps foolishly, to take a brief walk outside and feel out the nabe. It is so quiet up here. It was quiet, relatively speaking for Manhattan, in our old Inwood nabe, but nothing like this. Up here, it’s crickets and night birds and wind. Frighteningly similar in atmosphere to where I grew up.

Having had my fill of the night air, I headed back to the apartment. And there they were.

Two enormous racoons, happily chowing down on the kitties kibble. They were, to say the least, unfazed by my presence. We looked at each other and then, having acknowledged each other, they returned to their dinner and I to my home.

If one is to judge the coming winter by nature’s signs, that these racoons have put on so much body fat by late July should indicate that we’re in for a tough one. More likely though, it bodes nothing; they’re porkers ’cause the food supply is easily come by; an unwitting donation by humans doing “good” deeds.

I think I’m gonna like it here.


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As you can see, Jamie set up the computer today. Yes indeedy, I’m sitting in, or rather outside of, in the hallway to be exact, the inside-the-apartment hallway, not the hallway of the apartment building, but anyway, outside of what was formerly a nook, niche, an indent in the hallway turned, through one of the apartment’s past renovations, into a closet. But it is no longer a closet. It is now a closet and a computer room.

Yep, my keyboard which serves as our computer desk and also my midi controller on the rare occasion when I actually have time to make some music, is in the closet with the computer and all the peripherals atop and under. Our wonderful Super fixed the formerly non-grounded but now down to earth, outlet that we found in the closet. It was the original 30’s outlet; like a good roller coaster, cool and scary all at the same time.

I’ll have to get a pic of the set-up tomorrow and post it. Until then, you’ll have to do with the 12 new pics I posted in the Renovations gallery. They start with a view of the newly refinished floor, a thing of beauty.

Some day soon, I’ll write of the adventures of the move. But at the moment, it’s late and I’m still tired from last week. LOL Time to join Jamie in slumber-land.


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One day left.

We’ve taken the rugs up to the apartment. The floors look beautiful.

Jamie is disconnecting the computer so we can take it up to the new place ourselves. He is not going to hook it up again in a timely fashion so I guess I’ll write again on Tuesday with a report of the rigors and horrors encountered on Monday.

Going to pain the baseboards now.

(It’s now Friday. I’ve just re-read this and while I’m sure it did indeed hurt the trees from which the baseboards were made, I had no hand in their mutilation. I did, however, would the above had read, “Going to paint the baseboards now”, make them pretty. k. 7-27)

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Two days until the move. Too many boxes. Too stupid.

It’s two days until the move. Tomorrow (Sunday – day 1), our Godson’s family is picking up the steel kitchen baker-type shelves (3) that I hate to give up, have no place for in the new place, and in the end, am happy are going to someone we know.

They have also kindly offered, they have a truck, to cart some stuff up to the new place for us tomorrow, in advance of the move. This is great; we’ll take up the rugs, probably the refrigerated stuff, maybe some other things. Tim, Deana, Olivia, our Godson Zane will get to see the place for the first time. And we’ll all get to see how the refinished floors look.

This is all happening at 8AM. I know, no deliveries on weekends. Technically, I guess that this will be a delivery, but really, it’s more of a drop off. I feel fine with this. I see no possible upset occurring. I could be wrong. Life goes on.

So, boxes, boxes, boxes. I mentioned before that our living room is a maze of boxes. It is now more so. One must weave to get from the kitchen to the bedroom, like wading down a particularly rocky, meandering stream. Now we’ve got to figure out what’s going to the apartment in the moving van, what’s going to the apartment in the truck we’ve rented for Monday, and what’s going to the storage space. That should be fun.

Too stupid. Yes, I did about the dumbest thing I’ve done in ages today. Jamie found our old Palm Pilot and we decided to get rid of it. But what of the data still resident? The CC #’s and personal info? Jamie suggested a hammer, but both of those are up at the new place. I took the case apart and pulled out the board thinking I’d pry the chips off and mash each one with a scissors or something. Then I saw my high-powered creme brulee torch. Oh no I didn’t. Oh yes I did.

I took the torch to the board, frying the chips and couplings and all that lay resident in that particular Palm neighborhood. As Jamie came running into the kitchen yelling, “What the hell are you burning in here?!”, I also realized that I had released a ton of toxicity into our immediate environs. Jamie quickly opened the windows and set up the exhaust fan and we went to the room farthest from the toxic carnage and hid.

We both felt pretty physically crappy after that little scheme of mine. Hopefully, it didn’t take too many years off our lives. We are all entitled to a few incredibly stupid acts in our lives, I think the burning of the motherboard constituted the use of two or three of my gimmies.

So later this evening, not having enough toxicity in my system, I decided to clean the bathroom one last time before the move. Now my lungs are filled with Palm innards and Tilex fumes. I think I’ve done enough damage to myself for one day. Hopefully I’ll wake up tomorrow.


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Three days until blast off from Inwood, Monday being day 0, moving day, blast off.

There is still much to do in the new place. This week has been frustrating because, if you’ve been reading you know, the floors are being refinished and we haven’t been able to get into the place to do anything.

I ran up to the new place today to collect the mail (more final season of Deadwood discs from Netflix) and hopefully sneak a peek at the floors. Alas, the floor guys had the door taped shut to keep the fumes from seeping out into the hallway, so no visual updates on the interior of the apartment.

Today is beautiful, coolish with very little humidity, that’s a nice change from the last few extremely humid and rainy days. That should help the floor drying/curing process along nicely.

It’s my Summer Friday off from work (every other Friday, in exchange for working an extra 45 mins the other 4 days of the week) and I should be finishing the packing. So far, I’m not doing that, although I expect to do some packing when I finish writing this so I don’t feel that I’ve been a slug for the entire day. On the other hand, I kind of feel I deserve to give myself a day of sluggishness after the last few weeks. Sometimes you must give yourself the gift (sin) of sloth to stay sane.

The maze of boxes that is our living room is a quietly smirking reminder, though, that indeed, I should be adding to the cardboard confusion. Ok, ok, I’ll finish the kitchen; all the heavy things, the small appliances and such that are the bane of a mover’s life.

Hopefully I’ll have the kitchen packing finished before Jamie gets home. He won’t mind if I haven’t, but I’ll project my guilt at not having done it onto him and we’ll both be cranky. Funny how guilt works. You cast guilt away from yourself, trying to make it someone else’s issue so you can be free of it. “Stop making me feel guilty about…” It’s almost always our own issue, and most of the time, imagined, without cause or need. Although, never feeling guilt would be worse because sometimes it is indeed warrented. Better to find a happy middle guilt ground and try to discern what of it is deserved (and act to resolve/restitute/reconcile) and what is simply ego-driven self-flagellation (and just get over it – there are far better ways to use your mental ectoplasm).

Well, this post has spun off into onion-peeling. And now, I can either finish packing the kitchen of my own, happy volition because I want to get it done, or I can sit on my butt and play happily with the Wii.

And I’m not going to make Jamie make me feel one way or the other about either of my choices.

The countdown is on.

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Ok, so Jamie and I suspected it wasn’t allowed, the Co-op has house rules on this sort of thing, but we scheduled our refrigerator delivery for this past Sunday. We were desperate to get as much done before this week, the last week before the move, the week we are not able to get into the apartment because the floors are being refinished, so we broke the rule: No deliveries on weekends.

So, when you place an order with Sears for delivery, they give you a date, but the time is not announced until the day before the delivery. We knew the frige was coming on Sunday. We knew we had to take off our apartment door so it could fit through. (Yes, it’s big; lovely, stainless-steel, side-by-side, and big. We cook… a lot.) We had a notion we were breaking the house rules, although we weren’t positive. What we didn’t know was when the thing was arriving.

Saturday evening we found out. Our delivery window, as I previously mentioned, was between 7:45 & 9:45 AM. Not great, not great at all. Nothing like trying to sneak a hulking machine into the building in the quiet, early Sunday morning hours.

We got up at 5:45 so we could get to the apartment by 7 to get ready for the delivery. “5:45?” you say. “I thought you were only 15 minutes from the new place.” Well indeed we are, but the subway was running oddly due to track repairs and we thought we could stop by Dunkin’ D’s to grab a quick coffee and breakfast croissant and mentally prepare ourselves. But no. No it didn’t happen like that. Why?

At 6:45, as we were sitting on the 1 train, waiting to go “express” to our stop, the delivery guy called saying, “Just wanted you to know that we’ll be there in 10 minutes.” 10 minutes? That, for the mathematically challenged, or just to drive home a point, would put the delivery time at, oh, 6:55, or nearly a full hour before the earliest point in the delivery window. Prompt? Overly so.

Jamie explained that we were on our way and would meet them in the lobby.

We arrived shortly thereafter at our station, hurried up the street to our building. I to the apartment, Jamie to the lobby. I wildly removing screws from our front – steel – door, Jamie escorting the delivery men and refrigerator up in the elevator, all the while explaining the need (as if it needed to be explained that one should be extremely quiet, or as quiet as one can be whilst lugging a refrigerator, at 7AM on a weekend) to be quiet. The quartet of Jamie, deliverymen and frige processioning through our doorless doorway. The frige placed gingerly in its proper kitchen space. The brief whine of the screwgun (not brief enough and oh so loud) as the doors were attached. The departure of the deliverymen with the old hulking, non-functioning machine with, once again, Jamie as escort and door-opener. The replacement of the apartment door.

All very smoothly done. Except… Jamie informend me that as the delivery truck was pulling out, our Co-op board president ran up chiding him, “Bad, bad. No deliveries on the weekend.”

I was horrified. Nothing like making a good impression with your Co-op board. Well, we did what one does with that kind of embarrassment, we laughed at ourselves. Nabbed, indeed. And we decided that we would do no drilling that day.

A while later, at breakfast, I queried Jamie further about the incident. “Was she in her nightgown?,” I asked. Jamie looked at me curiously. “No, she was dressed for running, she was out jogging and just happened to be coming back to the building as the truck was pullling away.”

I explained that I had a picture of her flying out of the building, robe aflutter, hair streaming behind, fire issuing from her nostrils. Although, in the light of understanding, that did seem absurd because she is quite a lovely woman.

No, Jamie explained, it was nothing like that at all, while she did indeed say, “Bad, bad. No deliveries on the weekend” it was said in a gently chiding, non-threatening, but still blush-inducing way. Pshew.

As Jamie said, we have now played our Mulligan.

And we have now rescheduled next Saturday’s delivery of our couch and missing Ikea sink (more on that in another post) for a week day.

(Some new pix added to the Renovations Gallery.)


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One major thing Jamie and I have learned during our apartment renovation process is that the word “standard” does not live in a Pre-War building.

Lighting fixture kits that come with standard screws to hook the plate to the junction box? Throw the screws out, don’t even try to use ’em; the ceiling has been renovated so many times that the junction box is now two inches higher than it was originally due to the ceiling now being two inches lower.

The wires in that ceiling? Look out. The wiring may have been standard in 1930, but as we all know, standards change. And once you get an electrician in, so will the wiring.

The walls at angles of perfection? Uh-uh. They are canted and bowed; warped as a patient at Bellvue. Be prepared to finesse the hanging of cabinets, the painting of a straight line at the meetings of walls and ceiling.

Level is a relative term. There’s level, meaning the little bubble is in the very center of the tube and then there is “level” meaning that the floor to ceiling measurement varies by 1/4″ – 1/2″ from one side of the wall to the other but ther’s no way around that so it’ll have to do. I’m dubbing this kind of level, “Level F”, for “Level Fudged”, ie: it’s a bit off, but it works. If you’ve, however, been unsuccessful at taming the oddness and your room looks like some kind of carnival funhouse, you may change that to “Level Fucked”.

Luckily, Jamie and I have, so far and with fingers crossed, managed to remain in the land of Fudge. I was pretty sure we’d move to the Kingdom of the Fucked when we hung the cabinets against the Fudged linearity of the pressed tin. Luckily, the bizarre variations of one, offset those of the other and it wound up looking pretty darned good.

I’ve decided that rather than having multiple Crappy PhoneCam Pix Galleries, I would consolidate them all in timeline order in one Renovation Gallery that I’ll update as things happen. You can find it here. Or follow the Renovations page link at the top of the home page of this site.

Before I close and hurry to bed -’cause after all, Sears is delivering the new frige tomorrow between 7:45 & 9:45…AM… did I mention that we decided to get a new frige because the one included in the purchase price of the apartment, after being plugged in for four days never got cooler than lukewarm? And that was the freezer compartment. Oh, so many questions we now know to ask 30 or so years from now if we decide to move again… I digress.

Before I close, I do have to mention that with all the unexpected, scary things we’ve found in our architectural archaeology, we have uncovered the rare gem or two. Today, we finally undertook the task of removing the hideous blue carpet and its under-padding from the living room floor. We had previously peeked at a corner of the floor, so we knew that there was promise, but once uncovered, unleashed from the bonds of its faded powder-blueish, 70’s shroud, oh it is a thing of beauty. Three concentric (rosewood?) inlays define the living room and within them, beautiful oak laid diagonally. The arera suddenly became defined and alive. The floor is stripped and refinished all next week, so it will be even more lovely. I’ll try to get a decent pic so I can do a “before/after” refinishing comparison.

Gotta get to bed, gotta get up early and meet some delivery men.


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ting. Painting. That’s what Jamie and I have been doing since Saturday. Lots and lots of painting.

Saturday we primed, hellish, described in the previous post.

Sunday, Monday and today were spent throwing our varied and wonderful pallet up on the walls. A color sampler is found below on my shorts.
Kirk and Jamie's color pallet on Kirk's shorts.

One might, if one were of a cynical and undaring turn of mind, ask upon entering our apartment, “Where’s the hookers?” We, however, love the color scheme. One o’ these days I’ll actually get some good pix to prove it looks, well, really cool.

Three cheers for Benjamin Moore Aura paint. Beautiful. Low VOC’s. Works like a charm, although the “1 coat” promise is a bit off. The problem could, however, lie more with the finish we chose – eggshell – which we’ve been told is notoriously finicky, and the intense humidity we’ve been painting in, than with the paint itself. At any rate, the walls look beautiful.

Tomorrow, we’re taking a much needed break from painting and doing some organizing, light fixture hanging, and installing, hopefully without incident, the pressed tin.

Do we have more painting? Yes, trim and touch-ups, but we really, really need a day without rollers and brushes or else our minds may well snap.

The stove (a thing of beauty), range hood (lovely) and air conditioner!!! (!) arrived today. The AC is installed and ready to be cranked to the max for tomorrow’s work day.

And in other new homeowner’s news, we discovered when we moved in that the toilet leaked into the apartment below. Now, it wouldn’t have stopped us from buying the place had we been told about this problem prior to the sale, however, it might have stopped us from turning on the water to the toilet on our first day there. Regie, our lovely downstairs neighbor, informed us that this was an ongoing problem. Our Super said it was a leak in the toilet tank, so we bought a new one (which we’d have done anyway as the tank cover was broken and un-pretty).

When the toilet was being installed, it was discovered that it wasn’t the tank at all, but rather the fact that when the last owner had done a bathroom renovation, he built up the floor so that the toilet and the pipe below didn’t quite meet up. Euwww, I know.

This was discovered last Friday. Today the plummers came and excavated our bathroom floor. There was a mini-jackhammer, gas-tank and lots of debris and a very scary hole in our bathroom floor. But by the time they left, the entire pipe had been replaced and the floor, while not restored to its former less-than glory, is passable until we save up to do the bathroom reno. Some day…

So now, off to bed go I, to dream, perchance to sleep, as sleep has not been very forthcoming lately. Too much heat, too much excitement and too much back pain. Ah the wonderful joys of homo-ownership!


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As in extreme physical pain.

Yesterday, well actually given when I’m writing this, two days ago, Saturday to be exact, we primed the entire apartment.

All of it: the walls ceilings, doors and trim. From about 10AM until 10PM we primed. Jamie cut-in, I rolled.

I had forgotten, silly of me, I know, that fresh plaster, like our new ceilings, suck up paint like a sponge in the desert. And suck they did. The walls, after the ceiling, they were a relief, though for the last two hours or so it all seemed a living hell. But it was worth it.

Today, or rather now, yesterday, Sunday, we painted the ceilings. Oh how nice they look. So pristing and flat and fresh. The rooms are being transformed before our eyes. The only disappointing part of the day was when we realized that the paint store has messed up our order slightly and given us two gallons of Arctic White and one of Winter White rather than the requested two gallons of Pale Sea Mist and one of Arctic White. Let that be a lesson to us all and, of course, one we should already know when buying expensive cans of paint: always check to make sure you have the right product before leaving the store.

We made do. The Arctic White went on the ceilings and trim in place of the Pale Sea Mist and while it may not be what was planned, I think it will still look lovely.

Here’s the obligatory link to the bad phonecam pics of the day.

Oh, did I mention that the people who lived in the place before us had a child who liked to draw on the walls with crayon? Have I mentioned how certain colors of crayon just don’t want to hide no matter how many layers of primer you use. Did I mention that Jamie spackled the fuck out of the crayon marks to make them go away only to be then left with odd raised patterns in the shape of childish crayon drawinging on the wall? Did I mention how Jamie today scraped off all the spackle which had finally soaked up the offending crayon? Did I mention that you should never, ever, under any circumstances allow your child or yourself, for that matter, to run rampant through your home doodling hither and yon with crayons? Did I mention any of that?

Well, now I have. Props, huzzahs and three cheers for Jamie for his persistence in the crayon doodle eradication project.

And now, to bed where I shall dream of tomorrow’s, today’s, Monday’s, color filled painting; a day of Jalapeno Green, Moroccan Red, a Dash of Curry. And no, none, not one, crayon.


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Happy 4th.

There is, from time to time when history demands, a grand Thomas Paine moment. A moment in which the feelings of the people are coalesced into a passionate call for action from a single voice.

Given the recent commutation of “Scooter” Libby by our Governor in Chief on July 4th eve, July 4th, the day we commemorate this country’s bold decision to throw off the reins of a tyrannical monarch and live, (albeit still flawed in theory and practice) of the people, by the people and for the people, given the trampling of this shining ideal we live by under the callous feet of the nominal head of our government, the time for that Voice is now.

And that Voice has spoken.

If you have not read or heard Keith Olbermann’s piece “Bush, Cheney, Should Resign”, then I urge you to follow this link and give it a read or a listen. This man has beautifully summed up the feelings that have been growing stronger with each passing day, each life lost in Iraq, each lie by our leaders left unpunished… Go see for yourself, it is powerful beyond belief.

And in lighter news, the tile has been laid down in the kitchen, it just needs grouting and it will be finished.
The new tile laid down in the kitchen awaiting grouting.

Jamie and I spent an unreasonable amount of time in Home Depot (How do you say it? Deepo or Deppo? My Dad favors Deppo.) buying lighting fixtures, outlets and light switches. It’s the little things that warm the heart.

Tomorrow, our friend Deana is coming over to help us finalize the color choices and layout. That, then, means we shall be painting all weekend. Priming and painting. Jamie wants to have it all done before mid-next week, before the appliances arrive. Should be great fun.

Anywhoo, below is the link to the latest tiny phonecam video. They are stupid, but they amuse me, so…

Stupid Tiny Movie Link

And just in case you ignored me earlier, get your ass over to Keith Olbermann’s piece and check it out.


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