Posts made in August, 2013

Refinish = refresh

We went over this morning to check on the wood floors. While they have not yet been fully refinished, they’re looking great. Remember this old shot of the kitchen floor?

Here’s how it looks today:

Here’s the view from the front doorway:

And from the kitchen into the dining room:

The cabinets may come as soon as mid-week next week; guess I better see to ordering the backsplash. Though I’ve got the grain of the cabinet running the wrong way, here is what it will all look like:

Next up – A Farewell to Tangerine?!?


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Chapter Whatever in the Annals of Boneheaded Driving

So after a long weekend of visiting family in Ohio, we set out this morning along the back roads linking small towns before we reluctantly committed ourselves to the numbing routine that driving Eisenhower’s interstate system has become.

Glum with ennui, we persevered through sheets of rain obscuring our progress from the Keystone state into Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. Suffused with an imagined sense of zen-like mastery as we motored ever eastward, I took on the task of nudging sociopathic left lane dawdlers into learning the error of their ways.

Part of my non-AAA-approved technique is to swing into the right lane to pass the miscreant and then drift back into the left lane (w/o signaling of course) to conclusively demonstrate (pretty much always) his dumbassery.

Well, this time something else happened.

As I was schooling this fool, passing him on the right and getting in front of him in the left lane, I noticed this odd little after-market searchlight on the left side of his car. Being all in and with nowhere to hide, all I could do was watch in the rear view as the lights came on.

Now some of you if you knew you were driving on an expired license might have elected a different driving strategy than the one I was confidently beavering away on. I am not like you; I am that (other) guy.

Even though my license has expired (thank you for nothing DC DMV for not sending a renewal notice), an earlier “passing acquaintance” with a Joe Friday officer of the Arlington PD had alerted me to the facts of the situation and I had proof of my renewal with me though I did not actually have the new valid license itself.

So when the Chris Farley-looking copper came up to the car, I had the entire package for him – (expired) license, registration and note from the teacher explaining that yes I kind of sort of really had a valid driver’s license.

He was a bit mystified but took in the whole situation – heading-down-the-other-side-of-middle-age white guy driving a station wagon with the wife and the dog – and admonished me about my idiotic driving in cutting back in front of him well in advance of the speed limit and leaving him no choice but to assert his lawman’s prerogative.

Happily for domestic tranquility, our Agent Unknown was not a state trooper but was on fugitive patrol looking for actual criminals who were evading the law. His self-respect as a peace officer led him to pull me over, but he had no interest in doing the paperwork and writing me a ticket.

White male privilege saved my ass, and suitably chastened, I drove mildly on home. Lesson learned???

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Behold the Built-ins

While we wait for kitchen cabinets, the project has progressed into the surrounding now rather small-seeming area. Built-in bookcases demarcate the dining and living rooms, and a bench along the east wall will afford our friends a seated view into the new kitchen (the panels along the bench are cabinet doors for the lower part of the bookcases).

Being newcomers to this sort of renovation, our wonderment is almost childlike. I have moved enough in my life and have lived enough in forgettable enough places that I don’t have much of a strong attachment to the physical structure where I live (years ago, I was instantly charmed to learn that Camus lived a good part of his adult life in hotels). But seeing the eradication of such familiar, basic and fundamental spaces and their phoenixlike replacement by something altogether new has reordered my domicilic sensibilities. Platitudes revert to insights – you don’t own an old house, you just take care of it for the next person – and my naiveté about the emotional impact of the transformation stands revealed.

Thanks to our architect, one of the built-ins has wine “cubbies” along its sides – house-warming ideas, anyone?

The new pantry:

See how narrow and empty the house looks:

I like the ghostly “art installation” feel of this; it kind of makes me want to leave the space unfinished.

Next up – refinished floors!

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Shirlington: Exile or Oasis?

Since the kitchen project began in the middle of last month, we have been nomads crisscrossing the Potomac in search of relief from the heat and the dust. Fortunately, our friends have been incredibly generous, and we have been variously encouraged to stay with them or in an apartment in Shirlington when it is unoccupied. Each time we go back to our house to see how things are going, we are again reminded of what friendship has spared us. But while we are grateful and relieved to be temporary suburbanites, the transition has taken some getting used to.

In the Arlington-dominated metro area, Shirlington (along with Fairlington and as-yet-undiscovered lesser “lingtons” no doubt sprouting nearby) lacks a vibrant sense of identity. It seems more like an open-air mall than a community.

Its residential architecture conjures a sense of place akin to that of an area near an airport.

But on the ground level, it is clear there is something else afoot:

Most of the businesses put out water bowls, and in the evenings and on the weekends, dogs are everywhere.

Nearby, there is an off-leash dog park:

where the rules are taken very seriously

and the dogs enjoy playing in the water

Here is a view downstream with “our” apartment building in the distance:

There is also an excellent regional theater

and a library with dozens of computers and free wifi for all:

Anyone sitting outside in the “mall” can access the internet for free, a public service unknown in DC.

WETA is nearby, and the corporate masters town planners chose to honor its founder by naming the main street after her and erecting this plaque:

My initial sizing up of Shirlington as a place that appeals to the kinds of people I didn’t like in college has been tempered by greater acquaintance. The post-neutron bomb-like sterility of its architecture is still off-putting, but the public spaces and shops and restaurants attract a more diverse community than is apparent at first glance. As temporary refuges go, one could do a lot worse.


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The March of Progress

The project has officially spilled out into another room. The crew has sanded down the drywall in the kitchen, and while they wait for the cabinets, they have turned to building bookcases and a bench in the dining room. Here’s a shot of the new bench that runs along the east wall from bookcase to bookcase:

And the bookcase on the other side:

On the opposite wall, a similar bookcase will house the various electronics:


And though you can’t get much of a feel for what it will end up looking like, here’s the view as you enter the house:


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About Me

Born in Baltimore and raised in Cincinnati, I have lived on both coasts and driven back and forth across the country a number of times. I now have the "midlife opportunity" to do so on two wheels.