getting started


Posted: March 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: excitement, photos, progress, slow progress | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »


We’ve only just begun… but we’ve finally begun! We’ve started to form some ideas about what to tackle first. There’s so much to be done! There is one upstairs bedroom that had wall-to-wall carpeting that REEKED of piss. So gross! This past week we got in there with a utility knife and started by ripping the carpet into three big strips (thanks Judy for the strategy advice!), then rolling them up and dragging them out. Tough going because two sides of the room have baseboard heaters and the nails holding the carpet down are under the baseboard heater, which is all fragile (take off the cover and it’s just copper piping with billions of delicate little fins that are ridiculously easy to mangle if you even touch them) so despite our best efforts we kinda messed up those heating fins, oops. This was the worst part of the process, the carpet is so heavy and clumsy that we ended up getting way more up-close-and-personal than anyone would want to get with something that thoroughly pee-soaked. Then there’s another layer of stained and stinky batting, and underneath there is a layer of stinky and crumbly particle board, nailed down to the floor. Had to pry this up gently with crowbars, we developed a good teamwork strategy and figured out how to ease it up in relatively large chunks. This also presented further complications with the baseboard heating pipes. And underneath… beautiful wood floors! Covered in lead paint, of course. But still lovely! We opened up some windows to get the smell out.

Ripping out pee carpet upstairs We ripped out the carpet!

Before & after… we ripped out the carpet!

I got the cabinets out!

Mike got the cabinets out!

At the same time, we got started on the kitchen downstairs. We’re gonna gut it completely, since the exterior walls need to be insulated, it needs new electrical wiring, and everything in there was super gross and old. We smashed out the fake bricks and tore out the old cabinets, saving some for possible re-use and just tearing others into firewood. Found tons of rat poop, one entire rat skeleton, one mummified rat, and one box of shaw’s orange jello powder. Also found a weird birthday card and a five-year-old 7th grade report card for a little boy who had a very bad academic year. It’s just so weird to find yourself picking through bits & pieces left from someone else’s life. Who were these people? Where did they go to? Why did they install wall-to-wall carpeting and who peed all over it? Why did they leave a plastic christmas tree atop a sea of baby clothes in the upstairs bathtub?
So, lots of trips to the dump! It’s so satisfying to destroy all the crappy stuff and rip it out and drag it to the dump. Sometimes I feel bad about throwing things away, I don’t like to be wasteful but… it’s really satisfying to hurl the stinky carpets and chunks of stained particle board into those dumpsters. No guilt about that.
As of this writing, we’re done working on the upstairs for this year, focusing all efforts on the downstairs. Still need to rip out a few more cabinets from the kitchen, rip out wallboard and plaster and insulate, run new electrical wires (with Richard’s master electrical guidance of course) and then install some recycled cabinets (found some in good condition in one of the apartments in the ell). Found a good price on beech wood counter top at Ikea (cheaper than Formica!), perhaps we can use the same stuff to build a matching island or kitchen table?! Very excited about designing and reconstructing the new kitchen. Then… on to the downstairs bathroom!!! Again, we’ll need to completely destroy and rebuild.
Oh, also… in the ell apartment, there is a REFRIGERATOR FILLED WITH FOOD FROM LAST YEAR. My mom of course opened it up to show us… and it smells BAD. We have a date to put on respirator masks, long rubber gloves, drag it into the front yard and tackle it. (in order to drop refrigerators at the dump you’ve got to remove the door and empty them!) Next Monday afternoon. Ugh.


here, now


Posted: March 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: dreams, excitement | Tags: , , | No Comments »


We’ve arrived in Maine at last! Got in to Boston mid-morning (beautiful snow falling all around) and made it to Gorham in the afternoon, after about 23 hours in transit. Feels like a miracle that we made it here. Dogs didn’t enjoy the flight, but are still alive and are now in high spirits. Today we went to SEE the house for the very first time! It was mostly just as I expected it, after seeing photos and videos. But I was really struck by how BIG and cold and messed-up it is. It’s like a maze that just goes on and on. The walls are basically totally uninsulated and it was bitter cold today. And it is a mess! A beautiful, rambling shambles. There is so much stuff left behind by the previous tenants; in the ruins of the upstairs ell apartment, the bathtub is filled with baby clothes, a large old beige computer monitor and a smallish plastic christmas tree. The fridge and freezer are still filled with stinking, eight-month old food. In other rooms their traces are fainter, just cigarette burns and half-painted walls. It’s weird and a bit creepy but oh, it’s ours, and filled with possibilities. The room that might be my studio is huge and has six windows and a beautiful peaked ceiling. The dogs went nuts running in the yard, Inga was careening around, crazed by more open grassy space than she’s ever seen in her life.


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