A wee bit o’ the tardy in arriving, but here’s a 70-frame slideshow I just tossed to YouTube from beginning to finished-product end of our roughly 10-week kitchen renovation that took place from the middle of August to the beginning of November:
Fri 28 Nov 2014
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Thu 27 Nov 2014
I dreamed there was no knife in my hand after I took the punch to the side of my head.
It was a nice dream while it lasted, but I came awake with a jump at the subconscious knuckle crunch of fist against temple, much in the same way people who are falling in their sleep jolt awake just before they impact whatever hard parcel upon which they are about to land.
Blinking the blur out of my eyes, the flood of relief I felt at the absence of the knife boiled entirely away in the instant I found myself still in the jail cell I’d been placed in after being booked for murdering the road-rager who’d thrown the blow.
Because there had been a knife in my hand. Funny thing, not only do I not remember how it got there, but I had initially planned on just accepting the slug. In a way, I totally deserved it.
I’d gotten off work. I was coming from Hollywood into the valley through the Cahuenga Pass where I’d been in a hurry to drop off a package for my boss at the FedEx near a curve in the road past Barham. I was in a rush to get home to my Encino apartmetn and cleaned up for a date later all the way back over on Melrose with none other than Elie Tolsen. I’d known Elie since high school, but back then crush be damned, I was a stoner fuck-up to whom such a princess wouldn’t give the time of day. Since then, I cleaned up nicely and got a promising job at Paramount. She’d filled out nicely and landed a co-starring roll on a popular TV cop show that just so happened to film at the same studio.
So there I was, FedEx package delivered and putting my car in reverse there on the driveway apron, trying to make every second count. Instead of backing out, heading east and turning around safely and sanely somewhere back in the direction from which I’d just come, I opted instead to back out across the clear eastbound lanes and arc into the space for left turns in the center of the street.
While I executed the obviously questionable maneuver perfectly, it surprised the driver of a car coming west around the bend who laid on the horn as he passed me, an alarm I fully deserved. After pulling into the lane I came up behind him stopped at a red light a couple blocks down. While the driver of the car was just glaring at me in his rearview mirror, it was the passenger who’d gone totally apoplectic with anger, turning fully in his seat full-throat yelling at me and flipping me off through the rear window. Seriously, there was spittle involved. Man overboard!
The irony is not only did the driver try to calm his friend down, but I also gave it my best attempt to placate the asshole. I mouthed sincerely that I was sorry and gestured as best I could to indicate I was certifiably the worst driver in the world who shouldn’t be allowed to walk the streets much less operate a motor vehicle upon them.
It didn’t translate to the guy riding shotgun. He just kept laying on with the fuckyous and the assholes and the middle fingers and the kickyerasses to the point where I had enough and returned fire. Then he gestured: let’s fucking go right fucking here, right fucking now.
Next thing, the light’s turning green, but he’s out of the car and moving towards me. Nothing about him was outwardly concerning — 5’10” maybe 175 pounds, no guns in his hands. But regardless of his lack of physical stature or weaponry, logic dictates that one should not stay frozen in a confined and hardly defensible space such as the interior of a vehicle as some stark and raving lunatic closes the distance. One should get out, the better to fight or to flee.
But for some strange reason, I stayed put — surprisingly calmly so. Ignoring the psycho as he arrived at the driver’s side window and instead looked straight ahead at the driver of the car who also remained behind his wheel but now in exasperation held his head in both hands.
I don’t remember what the fellow yelled and spit at me through the open window, neither is it important. What is important is that my failure to engage enraged him further enough to first slam his hand down on the roof of my car and then bitchslap at the side of my head, coming into contact with my left ear enough to cause an intense burning sensation.
Here’s the thing. I don’t take pain well. I don’t mean to say that I have a low threshold for it, it’s just that I woefully lack the ability to ignore whatever thing — be it animate, inanimate or in this case highly animated — that is the cause of that pain. I’ve destroyed chairs that I’ve stubbed toes on. I flushed a hamster down the toilet that bit me on the pinky. During my first year in junior high, I put a towering ninth grader in the hospital for suckering me into accepting a high five with a nail held between his middle and ring fingers. The school security guard had to pull me off him to stop me with hands full of his ears and hair from banging his head face first into the playground asphalt for the tenth time. It’s a byproduct overdrive impulse to inflict an equal or greater amount of damage to that which has been inflicted upon me.
Slim as it may have been, any chance of me not going batshit at the eird slap was taken off the table when his fist came in full contact to my temple, the force of which drove me across onto the passenger seat, upon which sat my backpack and in which resided the buck knife with a folding four-inch locking blade that was a gift from the warehouse manager of a previous employer back when I hadn’t quite cleaned up so well. The job was in a bad part south and east of downtown and the manager told me for very good reason that I should never ever be without a knife.
In the ensuing daze of ear-ringing semi-consciousness I won’t deny going through the complicated process of opening the appropriate pocket of the backpack, removing the knife from its leather case, and locking it open. It’s just that I sincerely don’t remember doing so. All I recall is that when I felt him grabbing at my shirt and pulling me back toward him, I came up more quickly than he expected. With my left arm I pinned his right arm against pillar of the car frame and kept pushing the forearm away from me at an unnatural angle until there was a very satisfying crack and and even more satisfying a scream. Then what may have been the butt of his left palm connected with my forehead and I saw a light show before my eyes during which I drove the knife in my right hand into and out of and into and out of his midsection.
I couldn’t tell you how many times, other than I didn’t stop until he slumped and fell away from my car onto his back in the number one westbound lane just in time to be run over by a passing FedEx truck. Whether he was dead before he hit the street, or was finished off under the tire treads, I don’t know.
All I knew when sirens sounded in the distance and grew louder with each passing second was that I had killed two things, a man and my date with Elie. I was far more upset about the latter.
Sun 31 Aug 2014
I thought we’d lost her yesterday: Buster, our Russian tortoise. Lately on weekends I’ve been taking her out of the self-contained hutch we built in 2007 and letting her have what we call the “pumpkin patch,” a roughly 10′ x 4′ section of the backyard normally reserved during this time of year for any would-be jack o’ lanterns I attempt to grow.
With its perimeter built up with river rocks and bricks, the patch has proven to contain Buster pretty well, thanks to me paying close attention to the weakest exit points that she inevitably and incessantly will exploit and then strengthening them in some manner… maybe with a repositioned river rock or some stakes driven into the dirt that she can’t defeat.
At dusk last night, when it came time to move her back from the patch into her hutch, she was gone. I asked Susan if she’d returned her, and she said no. I wondered if perhaps one of our kitchen renovation workers, not knowing the exploratory nature of tortoises had seen Buster trying to escape and helped her over the barrier figuring “How far can a tortoise go?” That’s a typical rhetorical people ask themselves and the answer is “Far enough that you may never see them again.”
I’m serious. They can get themselves under some foliage, dig down into the soft earth and even though they’re theoretically under your nose, they’re just as completely GONE as if they’d managed to crawl all the way to Kern County.
My first thought was one of relief because I was pretty sure she was at least somewhere in the backyard as there weren’t any readily accessible escape routes out of it. But compounding matters and fears, said workers had left the backyard gate nearest the patch open during their time here, meaning that if Buster either escaped on her own or was assisted, she was only about 15 feet and one low step away from getting beyond the backyard into the north side yard, with its thick growth offering plenty of places to hunker down over night before setting out for Kern County in the morning.
So time was pretty much of the essence, and with the daylight failing Susan and I got busy. I stuck to the backyard and north side of the house while Susan went all the way down to the street and down the block.
You think that’s silly? Then check out my account below of an escape she made back in 2004. The use of “Miracle” in the headline is NOT an exaggeration.
Long story cut short: There was much rejoicing and relief when I found Buster still in the backyard, instead of going out the open gate she made a left and crawled under the potting table among a half-dozen or so brown widow spiders, wedging herself against the outside of the kitchen wall.
Maybe she was interested in the renovation’s progress.
Sun 24 Aug 2014
Lately (and to the point of ad nauseum in my less-than-humble opinion) there’s been a trend fadding or a fad trending called the ALS Bucket Challenge, nobly started to raise money for research into Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but now everybody’s seemingly dumping buckets of iced water over their heads and challenging everybody else to do the same.
My particular bucket challenge isn’t something I’d demand anyone else do nor does it waste a drop of water. As alluded to in my previous post I got busy yesterday afternoon transferring the above-pictured big ol’ pallet of brick slices from my parking space in the garage up 17 steps and around to the side yard using two of the pictured buckets.
To be specific, a bucket holds 20 pieces weighing 44.6 pounds (yes, I weighed one). On Facebook yesterday I submitted the above picture and opened up the guessing as to how many buckets it might take. Here’s the comment thread that resulted:
Roughly three hours later, the transfer was completed involving a total of 52.5 buckets (kudos to Steven Frein for his guess of 50 buckets).
Here’s where they ended up neatly stacked in the sideyard:
And whilst enjoying a cold beer afterward, I did the math and can now use the term “ton o’ bricks” quite literally: 52.5 buckets at 44.6 pounds per bucket equals a total weight of 2,341.5 pounds, that I loaded, carried up 17 steps, and unloaded. The total number of half-bricks was 1,050.
If my back and the rest of me weren’t so totally freakin’ exhausted I’d be feeling pretty badass right about now.
Sat 23 Aug 2014
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Demo of all cabinetry, lathe and plaster and flooring commenced Monday and was fast and furiously done, giving way to the entirely unsexy but essential plumbing and electrical work that continues on the underguts of the kitchen and future pantry and laundry room (out of view behind the cam). Removal of the laminate wood flooring and subflooring (concrete! and linoleum) revealed a tangled web of pipes and wiring that an inspector would have said “Oh hail nah!” to and so were ripped out and are now in the slightly protracted process of being replaced.
In other news that left wall of the kitchen will need reframing. The 2x4s were installed wide side out, which is how they were allowed to build things in the early 1900s, but the opposite orientation is how walls must be built nowadays.
And also, we’ll be adding first-time insulation to all the exterior walls.
Lastly, if I’m feeling like a particular glutton for punishment, I may give myself a workout today hauling up the pallet of cut Simons bricks that will be our future kitchen floor up to the side yard from the garage where they’ve been all week.
Why Simons bricks specifically? Good of you to ask. The Simons Brick Company (roughly 1900-1952), located first in Pasadena and then in what is now the City of Commerce, was a major supplier of bricks for the southern California region, including our 1906 house’s original foundation (replaced in 1999). Susan and I originally considered saltillo tile for the kitchen and pantry, but that just didn’t seem to fit in to the Craftsman style. So we thought about brick as having a stronger connection and then we wondered how awesome would it be if we could find enough Simons bricks, have them cut to paver depth and install them.
When that initially proved a pipe dream, we considered reclaimed-look brick tiles from an array of manufacturers but the color and consistency wasn’t quite right. Rather than settle, Susan undertook an epic expedition and in what was something of a miracle finally found a salvage yard in the South Bay that not only had plenty of Simons bricks onhand, but bonus: could cut them as well. In doing so we went from spending about $12 per square foot for the flooring of our kitchen and pantry to $4.
And now a pallet of them sits in my parking space in the garage. We’ll see if they’re up in the sideyard and I’m exhausted by the end of the day.
Tue 19 Aug 2014
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Sun 17 Aug 2014
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