Saturday we pushed hard, rented a Uhaul and got the first load of furniture to the new house. This was the initial trial Living Room setup, functional, yet lacking. But having 'our stuff' in the new house made this whole thing much more 'real.' It's hard to describe but both M and I have been noticing how much different we feel emotionally, semi-consciously, now that we have a house. More stable, more secure, more relaxed. It makes sense, but I'm surprised at the magnitude of the effect.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
From the Living Room looking into the kitchen: Here's the wall that we are slowly removing. The kitchen has no windows, as it's surrounded on all sides by other spaces, so in an effort to make it feel less dark and isolated we decided to take out the wall separating the kitchen and living room. We'll push the kitchen out into the living room by about 5 feet, and put in a peninsula with bar stools.
Here's a shot from almost the same location as the previous post, but 1 week later. There's now a fridge and stove in the kitchen, and the cabinets have been disassembled, sanded and primed, thanks to my Aunt & Uncle, and Mom & Dad. This is about what it looks like right now, except with less hand-carts and shop-vacs, and more food in the cupboards.
The other important thing about this image: It immortalizes the very first pot of tea being made in the house since we got the keys.
I know this color: Benjamin Moore Eco-Spec 'Grey Owl' because Meredith used it in her old studio in our rental. It's a nice subtle grey that is a good neutral to hang art on, or shoot photos against. Z & M have since painted pale blue polka-dots on the walls as well.
I'm terrible with paint colors and have no sense of adventure so I'm really happy that M took on that task. Going by paint-chips alone, I never would've picked this because it looks so dark, but it on the walls it's lovely. Very classy and masculine. Meredith and Sylvan picked it out, I'll have to ask them what's it was called.
Pretty heartbreaking isn't it? Really she doesn't look this sad in her kennel most of the time. She does it for the camera. She's still a young pup, and has a tendency to be a little bit destructive when left unattended (she's got a thing for paper, and Z's stuffed animals), so during the move we would put her in the kennel for a couple of hours at a time. It for her own good. Really!
List of accomplishments:
- New tankless hot water heater installed.
- All the bedrooms and hallway primed and painted
- All carpets, pads and tack strip removed
- Dangerous wiring removed in the kitchen wall
- Half the kitchen is now wired to code
- The wall between the kitchen and living room has been stripped of sheetrock and electrical stuff in preparation for removal.
- Washer and Dryer hookups have been created in the garage.
- New locks and deadbolts installed.
- Most of our belongings have been moved to the new house.
It was a tremendous couple of weeks, and at the end of it I came down with a cold, but we are 'functional'. We have hot water, refridgeration, a stove, and the ability to wash/dry our clothes. So now our focus moves to cleaning out our rental so we can get our deposit back and finish what we've started.
Notes on the tankless water heater: Originally we bought a Bosch tankless, but returned it and got a Takagi on the advice of our contactor friend Paul. Basically, he said that the Bosch units seemed to suffer from problems more often than the Takagis and all the plumbers he knows prefer the Takagi. It was also cheaper than the equivelant Bosch, so it was a really easy decision.
It was hard to install. I should note that every install will be different, but ours was a PITA. We had hoped to use our old hot water tank flu, but the tankless heater put out so much waste heat that you must use a special stainless flue from top to bottom (an additional $350). It also needs a special 'full-flow' gas pipe and care should be used in hooking up the water lines as the connections on the unit seem a little fragile. But once it was in, and we'd finished getting everything connected it worked like a champ. Now I can take a looong shower without ever running out of hot water! Or more accurately, all of us can take showers right after each other without running out of hot water, and as we only have one bathroom, that is exactly what is going to happen.
A tankless water heater is often referred to as an 'instant' water heater, which it is, but that doesn't mean that you'll have hot water instantly at the tap. With a whole-house tankless heater, you still have to run the water for a while before hot water comes out. That's simply because the water in the pipes between you and the heater will cool off after a while and you have to flush all of that out of the system before the hot water can make it to the faucet.
There are two major benefits for a tankless heater. First, you get unlimited hot water. Second, you save energy because you don't have to try and keep 40-50 gallons of water hot 24 hours a day. You are only heating the water as you need it.
How does it work in reality? For the most part, it works exactly as advertised. Hot showers are hot and you don't run out of hot water. The only problem we've had is running two high-demand uses at the same time, ie the washer on hot, and a shower. When we try to do two things at once, the water is still hot enough, but the mixing of hot and cold gets tricky. For example:
You're in the shower and you've got the temperature just how you like it. Then someone starts a hot-wash cycle. Suddenly the water is 10-15 degrees colder than it was. You turn up the hot, no problem, there's plenty of hot water to go around. But then the washer stops filling and suddenly, like instantly, you've got super-hot water in the shower. I can see why they put so many warnings about getting burned and scalded in the manual!
But other than that, it's works perfectly.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
But in only 3 hours we filled up the carport with a pile of stuff to take to the dump. Hopefully today we'll get Todd's truck and get to make multiple dump runs.
Our goal for the first week is to get most of the interior painted, the carpets out, the attic insulation cleaned out in preparation for electrical work, and the yard and outbuildings cleaned out of junk and toxins.
Escrow was supposed to close the day before Thanksgiving, but we had all our ducks in a perfect little row and it was looking like we might be able to close the Friday before. We (Meredith, my Agent Carol, and my Broker Mark) all met at the Title company's office to sign the last of the papers. When we got there the Title agent told us that there was a hitch. There had been a lien (a Deed of Trust) on the title placed by the sellers son. We had known about it, but the word had been that he was ready to sign all the necessary papers without delay. That turned out to be wrong. On the day of the signing, he decided to hold out, and then stopped returning any phone calls.
This meant that we couldn't close, as the Title company wasn't willing to close with a 'clouded' title. Now the seller herself was reportedly upset by this, she wanted to sell as badly as we wanted to buy but it seemed like there was nothing that we could do. Thankgiving week, and the week after, different solutions were presented and nothing was working.
I hired an attorney, we started talking about how much time and money it would take to get possession of the house (not the happiest of holiday weekends).
In the end (after many many phone calls and much hand wringing) a bond company came in and 'bought' the debt, thus clearing the way for a smooth transfer.
The bond papers got signed on Friday (Z's birthday) and then our agent surprised us Saturday by bringing us the keys! WHOOOOHOOOOO!!!!
So we have a house. I can't believe it.
And we have a lot of work to do :)
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Except for one thing.
They wanted 17 days to close escrow, not 30.
Well, except for two things, they wanted to make sure I was a real offer. Like that I had all my financing in order. Which I didn't, totally.
So Monday morning I rushed around like a madman talking to my loan broker, calling my agent, Meredith and my parents keeping everyone in the loop. At the end of the day we were set. Now all we had to do was have the listing agent finish up their counter offer, we could sign it and send it back. Then we'd be in escrow and get the house the day before Thanksgiving (!!!!!)
Except one thing. In the interval between our verbal acceptance of the counter, and us getting a copy of the papers to sign (my cell phone died, they had fax problems, it rained frogs) another offer had come in on the house.
Tuesday was a loooooong day. Wondering if we would get in a bidding war (in this market?!), or whether we could even match them. The idea of looking at more houses, waiting longer, watching mortgage rates creep up, didn't leave us very happy.
Then at 4pm, our agent called. They'd chosen us, no need to counter, the paperwork would be to us and signed and back to them that same day.
More phone calls on my new phone (email me if you need the number, it's different than before) to keep everybody informed, and then we waited for my agent to come over and give us the papers.
Everything in order and back on its way to the listing agent. At 10:41pm we received confirmation that we were in. Escrow started this morning.
Then I spent most of the day at the 'new house' with the housing inspector and getting more paperwork photocopied and filed.
The bottom line is: Whooohooo! We're getting a house. We get the keys sometime near Thanksgiving, we're hoping for before but it could be after.
Photos at my flickr page.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
The bonus is that it has a giant, humongous yard. With mature fruit trees. We will hopefully make an offer tomorrow.
I'll post details if our offer gets accepted.
Cross your fingers for me.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
In the last 5 years or so the fall malaise has been more subdued, more introspection, then depression. And this year is continuing that trend. Perhaps it's growing older, perhaps I'm just busier and generally fulfilled. Whatever the reason, this year has already shown me a couple of things about myself I hadn't realized. So what is the result of this seasonal navel-gazing?
I don't like cars anymore*. Or motorcycles. I'm no longer keen on learning how to build everything. At some point, I stopped being a 'reader' (I blame college). Single-player gaming leaves me cold. I'm never going to learn all the skills of the ninja.
Basically many of the traits that used to define me (in my own head, anyway) don't fit anymore. It's an odd feeling. What do I do with all the tools and books and material I've accumulated over the years? Do I really get rid of that sweet '60s Cafe Racer gas tank that never found a frame? Can I slim down to one set of sockets? Should I?
But for me the bigger problem, is that I feel like I don't have 'an interest' anymore. Something to occupy my thoughts when I'm trying to fall asleep. I imagine that someday soon, that'll be the house we buy, but until then I feel kind of blank. Hm...
Sunday, September 16, 2007
So we keep looking. Next up: The Slater House. A slight fixer, in a good neighborhood with a great yard.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
First, the listing isn't accurate. It says it's a 3 bedroom 2 bath, with second unit and den. No it's not. It's a 3 bedroom, 3 bath, no second unit, no den. Or it's a 2 bedroom with den. Or it's a 2 bedroom, with a possible 2nd unit, no den. It does have a garage, and it does have 2 fireplaces.
The good: Most walls, trim, and all teh windows are intact. The roof looks newish, the gutters look passable. The view from the upper garden terrace is very nice. The third bedroom is a surprisingly nice space. The squatters didn't do much visible damage, other than dirty carpets. There are several skylights, and lots of nice natural light in the house. Two fireplaces! It's got good bones, and a decent layout.
The bad: The front chimney is pulling away from the house, the kitchen needs to be gutted and redone, the bathrooms would need to be redone eventually (they'd need to be fixed in the short term). The windows are all single pane and original.
The surprising: Original wiring and plumbing. The bank is apparently firm on price (give 10k or so).
Paul's take (paraphrased): Take a remodel budget of 30k, you could do the floors, kitchen and a bathroom or two (while fixing the chimney), but doors, windows, other bathroom, electrical/plumbing, etc would all have to wait. Basically you could make it livable before you move in, and then gradually fix the rest over a couple of years. At the end you'd have nice, 600k+ house built the way you want it. Do the major stuff (floors, kitchen) clean the rest, and gradually update the wiring room by room. The chimney (which freaked me out) is 'not a big deal', he believes the front of the house has settled a bit and that tipped the chimney enough that it's load is now pulling on the front of the house, not straight down as it should. The fix? Strap the chimney and tie it back to the roof, then reline the flue. From what he could see, the foundation looked ok.
More photos here
I spoke with my parents, who've dealt with destructive renters, about how much work it would be to rehab the interior. They seemed optimistic. Sure it would be work, but as a team we could get it livable fairly quickly, and end up with a great house and a relatively small mortgage.
So this morning I'm going through the house with Paul. He's a contractor (True North Construction) and has an incredible eye for remodeling houses and design. His own house is a thing of beauty, and a testiment to his vision and forethought. If he likes the idea, then I'll come back with a team of friends all of whom are craftsmen in their respective trades: Ben and Paul for the carpentry, Orion for the masonry work, Michael for the electrical, my Dad & Mom for paint and trim. We'll see.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
We decided to wait on making an offer, and see what else shows up, or comes down into our price range in the short term, to think about how much we are willing to 'simplify' and how much we just want to buy a house.
I'll post the set of photos I took on my flickr page under 'Little house"
Thursday, September 06, 2007
We gave up on the idea of buying a house a while ago due to the state of our finances vs. the state of the market. My how times have changed. Months of working on my credit score has garnered modest gains, and the market has suddenly cooled off, the combined effect means we are just barely able to get in.
We've found a house and now we are starting the bewildering, stress-filled process of loan applications, meeting with realtors, lawyers, planners, and others who are gently guiding us along. I want to give a huge public thanks to my parents for their support, and their experienced advice. They have been a tremendous resource, and having them an intimate part of the process has kept me from freaking out too badly. Thanks.
I'll stay mum about the house for now, except to say it's tiny, cute, and a better fit than our current place. We will have to jettison/liquidate a massive percentage of our stuff, but we are super-excited about that as well. We've gotten to the point where we have too much stuff and it's become draining to even think about, so forcing a downsize will go a long to way to clarifying and focusing how we want to live.
Our goal (fingers crossed) is to be in a new place before the end of the year. I hope all 3 of you reading this will come to our housewarming/christmas party. :)
Monday, July 09, 2007
Now Bowie *loves* people and other dogs, and Sunday, our friend Jacquie and her dog Mixx were the catalysts to a doggie breakthrough. Meredith met up with them and used the lure of doggy-comraderie to get Bowie out onto Sebastopol Road and down the railroad tracks with no problems!
TAL featured one of their stories this last week, so I googled them up and started listening to episodes. It's very good, with a greater focus on science and psychology than TAL does. I highly recommend checking it out. You can listen from their website, or subscribe to their podcast, or download mp3s.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Today is our first day as a dog-having family. Fargo would come visit for a while but he was always 'my' dog or 'Laurel's' dog. I had resisted getting another dog for months for specious reasons. I didn't want to replace Fargo, and I didn't think our landlady would go for it. Once I sat down and really thought about my reasons for stonewalling Zelia's many, varied, impassioned pleas for a dog, I realized I was wrong. So I started perusing various dog agencies, and got the approval from our landlady. Yesterday I stopped by the Sonoma County Animal Shelter on my way home and the pretty dog in the photo caught my eye. She was really perky, engaging and funny in the cage, but her larger brother kept hogging all the limelight. But I only had eyes for
Today, it still seemed right, we knew we would have some challenges. She's a border collie mix and has had a seemingly tough life so far, but the bones are there for a great dog.
I'll write more about her first day home (it's been filled with little triumphs, and interesting observations) but I'm recovering from teh flu, and it's been a BIG day. So I'll leave with this for now:
Her name is no longer Coco (she wasn't very attached to it) and it is now Bowie. She went from being scared of her crate to settling down in it with almost no coaxing from me in about 4 hours. She's very gentle and sweet. Zelia, who had been spending the day at a friends house broke out in tears when she saw Bowie. And later ran down the street yelling "Attention everyone! Today I got a dog!!!!"
Friday, June 22, 2007
It's also hackable. For the geeks, it's the espresso machine equivelent of a WRT-54GL router. Put a PID temp controller and a open portafilter on it, and you can get better espresso than you'd get from almost any cafe.
Downsides: The length of time between when you pull a shot, and when it's ready to froth is too long, and the espresso cools off if placed in an unwarmed cup. Also, it'll make you wish you had a good grinder, and you'll start thinking about roasting your own beans to have total control over your coffee.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
But I digress.
The point is, I burnt out on Beatles really early, the songs had lost their power and my ears couldn't 'hear' them anymore. So, I have not let myself listen to them since for fear of turning burn-out into loathing.
But a couple of weeks ago, while going through my records I threw on disc 1 side 2 of the White album. Wow. These guys were brilliant! I wanted to hear more, but unfortunately the other albums, and tapes I had haven't survived with me all these years.
So off to the local music store to see what remastered CDs I can find....
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Warcraft is powerful magic for making time pass.
After climbing the initial learning curve, she took to it quite strongly. Almost too strongly. I fear we'll be having this conversation soon.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
We went on the school camping trip, but only just barely. M has a bad cough (bronchitis or something) and as feeling pretty lousy, so drove to Sunset Beach, just south of Santa Cruz, and set up camp. Then Meredith and I drove to a nearby hotel and got a room. The kids got to camp with their friends and she got a nice warm, dry place to sleep. The following day we packed up and went to the Monterey Aquarium and saw lots and lots of really cool stuff. Otters of varying types, jelly fish by the hundreds, and of course, fish. Photos to follow...
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Two notes: Zelia fits Meredith's gear pretty well. Sylvan it too big for it. Kids grow fast. Especially ones that eat as much as they do.
That reminds me. Last night while we were cooking dinner, Sylvan decided that ten minutes was too long to wait. So he made a PB&J sandwich. Five minutes after that, he was hungry again so he made another. Then he sat down to dinner and ate more than anyone else (after Zelia). I need to start buying primate chow in 150lb bags and just shoveling it into his computer room.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Ok, I kinda cheated, I didn't get any photos on Saturday that I liked. So I'm putting two up from Sunday.
Even though I had to work on Sunday, I took the long way in via VFR. It is always so lovely to ride a motorcycle through west county in early spring. However, it's not so good for bugs.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
First up: Cherry blossoms. How can you go wrong taking pictures of cherry blossoms? I just want to stare at them for hours. Spring is on it's way.
Update: we now have a flickr group, in case you'd like to join in. It can be found here.
February 25, 2007
As many of you know I have been working on historical political
project where I am reprinting and distributing Mother Earth. You
may ask what is Mother Earth? (and no its not the
journal/magazine you can find in supermarkets today)
Mother Earth was a political journal that advocated radical political
causes, labor agitation, and opposition to the U.S. government on a
variety of issues. Its subscribers and supporters formed a virtual
'who's who' of the radical left in America in the years prior to
The first issue of Mother Earth, with a print run of 3000 copies,
hit newsstands in March 1906. For a dime, readers got a showcase of
anarchist and radical writings on current events, as well as poetry
and fiction. Editor Emma Goldman kept the monthly in circulation
until August 1917, despite conflicts with the U.S. Postal Service
and law enforcement authorities who found its content "treasonable."
Goldman's circle of friends and associates -- especially Alexander
Berkman, a professional typesetter -- helped shape each issue at meetings
in Goldman's apartment. "My room was the living-room, dining room, and
Mother Earth office, all in one," she said.
By 1918, in a repressive wartime environment, federal authorities had
seized lists naming over 8,000 subscribers to Mother Earth, targeting them
I am writing to ask you to help support this project.
It is inspiring to read writing by; Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman,
Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Peter Kropotkin, Voltairine de Cleyre and more.
With the current oppressive political climate it is easy to draw
comparisons and feel the passion that sparked the writings found in Mother
Earth. No person interested in history or currently involved in radical
politics should go with out getting their hands on these writings. We all
should invest in keeping anarchist history alive. There are currently no
one else working on creating reprints of Mother Earth in its original
Please give what you can. All donations can be tax deductible.
You can pay on line via pay at
XXXXXX (leave a message in the comments)
or snail mail at
c/o J. Gooley
Berkley CA, 94703.
With every donation over $20 dollars you will receive all four new reprints.
With every donation of $25 dollars you will receive all five reprints.
With every donation of $100 dollars or more you will receive all five
reprints and a surprise thank you gift!
So where will your kind donations be going?
The story and the logistics:
I was able to find a purchase 22 of the original copies ranging from
the years 1909 – 1916. At a cost of
$20 - $250 it cost well over $2,000 dollars to acquire the original copies
(the magazine originally cost a mere 10 cents).
It is shameful and unacceptable that in order to retrieve and read
irreplaceable radical history it would cost this much. I decided
right then and there that I would copy and distribute this magazine
so that no one would pay more than 3 dollars again. I found an
amazing radical printer who was/is just excited about this project as
I. We did our first print run in 2005 with a 500 copies of an issues
from 1914. Distributors both large and small have gotten excited to
carry mother earth including AK press -
I have sent off to the printer four more original Mother
Earth’s to have printed in time for the 12th annual anarchist
book fair March 17th and 18th , 2007.
So this March there will be a total of five reprints available in the
original form, done with a letter press, by a leading independent
radical printer in Tucson AZ.
This current print run will be a count of 250 for each of the four
issues that I have sent to print. I decided to scale back the print
run to get more issues out there even though ordering less than 500
increases the cost per unit. The total cost with out shipping for
the reprinting of the next 4 issues is $1,500.00.
Total project costs are:
* Current Reprint Order (4 issues at 250 copies of each) = $1,500.00
* Reprint 250 copies of the remaining 17 originals = $6,375.00
* Shipping related cost ($50 - $ 100) from Tucson and out to
distros/individuals = $ 1,700.00
Total Estimates cost to complete project: $9,575
Thank You for You time energy, and making this project possible.
- Jamie Gooley
This was taken in Mammoth Lakes, up on top of the Panorama Dome. The wind was howling and clouds were starting to rush down the face of the Sherwins. We could barely stand up to the wind, but it was such as rush to be out there in those conditions. We were giggling and hooting all the way back down into town.
As long as I can remember it's always looked abandoned and decrepit, but until last spring it was still producing a variety of lines and twines as it had done for since the end of the 19th century. Some history changing cordage has come out of that brick pile: Parachute cord for the Apollo missions as one example. But it's manufacturing days are over. Housing is it's future.
My knee jerk reaction is to decry the condo conversion, but I will be thankful that they are going to be saving the structure and not wiping the site clean. Luckily, (thanks to my dad) I was able to go on a 'last tour' of the building and thereby fulfill a childhood dream of seeing the inside of the place.
I also took the opportunity to meet up with Lauren Smith, an old school friend, while I was down there. It was great to see her, and meet her husband Derek. They've come back out to SF after years in NYC, and have been working on several interesting projects under their "Curiosity Guild" moniker: blog, shop, and the original guild website (out of date, but you get the idea). After the show a gaggle of us all went out to dinner. It was a nice way to spend the evening.
For those who couldn't make it, I've put together a partial grouping on my flickr page.
It was an important step for me, as it's something I've been wanting to do for over a year. I just never got it all together until now. It was interesting to hear, albeit second-hand, some of the comments from the few who turned up. It appears that some people didn't really 'connect' with the photos because they were so still and quiet. There wasn't the emotional hook to pull them in. I was worried about that..well, worried is too strong, I was...aware that people might find the photos too vacant/remote given the photos I chose to show, but I wanted to see how it worked. It was an experiment.
I saw this show as a good first trial. It was a small commitment, only 10 pieces in all, in a place run by my friends, not too far from home, so it a good place to work out all the bugs of actually preparing for and having a show.
Now I need to set up the next one. (Paging Heebee Jeebee's...paging Heebee Jeebee's)