grumpy about the construction project (success at the architectural review board)

Remember my problems with the architectural review board (aka the ARB)? They wanted me to put brick where I want to put wood, in the back corner of the house. Remember that the ARB told our architect Kristi that they wouldn’t require it, but then they did.

This is a much too complicated story to bother telling accurately or fully, especially with this delicious Redemption rye in my hand distracting me, but here’s my best go at keeping it short and simple.

Not one member of the ARB who was at the first meeting showed up for the second meeting. I have no idea whether it’s because they weren’t invited by the city development guy (I’ll call him Todd, because that’s his name, and I wouldn’t go so far as to rename him “Mr. Toohey”) who caused this whole dust-up with his memo to the permit guy, or because they refused to attend and participate in an argument where they had to admit they screwed up. Todd seems to actually run the show, even though he’s not an official member of the ARB, so maybe they’re just afraid of him. Whatever. It’s LAME.

Todd came out to get us for the meeting and it went like this. He apparently told Kristi (our architect) that we weren’t going to talk about what happened at the last meeting. That’s convenient; we won’t talk about how we think Todd screwed up. Excellent news. Then he told us to come back to the room. I never met Todd before so I was still waiting for one simple nicety. I stared at him and he stared at me as we stood in the hallway. After a surprisingly long moment, I finally had to ask, “Who are you?”  He looked at me blankly. “I’m Todd,” he said, in a tone and with a stone-dumb look in his eye that suggested the following additional silent words: “how can you not already know that I am the King of England?” I held my hand out. He looked down at it. He remembered he had a hand to shake with.

We followed him into a very small, cramped conference room, where two ARB members were seated. We weren’t allowed to sit at the conference table. We had to sit along a wall. I kid you not. So there we sat, Anthony and me and Kristi, waiting for the third board member who would actually attend the meeting. When he arrived, King Todd called the meeting to order and they formally convened. Then Anthony and I and Kristi were formally invited to sit at the table. We got up from the chairs we were sitting in, took one step forward, and sat down in chairs at the table.

Then yadda yadda yadda happened, and yadda yadda. The ARB members wanted to hear from us. I opened my big big mouth. I gave them fresh color copies of our letter and powerpoint presentation. I told them I wrote the letter because that’s what lawyers do, and Anthony organized the powerpoint slides because that’s what economists and professors do. It was really snotty puffery of the worst kind. I have no idea if it intimidated them, but I hope it made a point of some kind. My skort, beach sandals, food-stained black t-shirt, and dirty hair certainly weren’t winning me any points. I didn’t mean to be unclean or sloppy. I just forgot as I was walking out of the house to put on decent shoes, and I don’t have any professional clothes that fit me anymore after a decade off the job market, and the t-shirt was dirty from feeding the kids, and the hair? Well who has time to bathe during summer vacation??

Bottom line: I don’t have to use brick anymore. Wood good. There was some banter about setting the contiguous wall back about 4 inches where there’s a change of material, and something about a shadow line, and Kristi said something along the lines of hey that’s great, it’ll look better that way and we can do that and it won’t increase costs at all — which I thought was really classy of her, because these guys really messed her about.  It’s good enough for me. Now Mr. Carpenter, can you please show up soon?

grumpy about the construction project (still waiting for total destruction)

Our foundation is dug, poured, and laid. That job wrapped up last Thursday, and now we’re waiting for the carpenter and gang to begin demolition and new building. Tick tock, tick tock. Tomorrow… carpenter Erick (hypothetically) finally begins his work.

It’s probably a good thing this part is going slow, because Anthony and I are definitely procrastinating on emptying our kitchen, which will disappear later this week under the weight of the wrecking ball. Not a real one, of course, which would trouble me no end by bringing to mind cringe-worthy images of Miley Cyrus in white undergarments and, well… ew. On the other hand, maybe it would entertain the hard-working demolition crew if Jesse and Nick and I stood out front in white t-shirts, rubbing our cheeks with our wide-open palms and bellowing “YOU CAME IN LIKE A WREEECKING BAAAAAALL…”

That’s kind of disturbing, actually. Never mind.

Sometimes I think this sort of ideation is a sign of mental illness, but another part of me says it’s just a desperate coping mechanism. I’m not sure.

Oh. Today, without any further delay, we have to bring our dining table down to the basement, empty our kitchen cupboards, and set up our alternative kitchen for the next two months. No more daydreaming about wrecking balls and Miley tears.

Meanwhile, our back yard is trashed.

We tend to keep gardens that are quite nice, in our opinion.

Oh how lovely. Look at all those textures. A little fastidious here, but it’s a young area that hasn’t filled in yet to cover all the mulch spots. Also it’s not flower season in our garden. We’re past daffodils and tulips, and not yet at our butterfly wildflowers.IMG_9354

And here are our shady spots. Boring plants to be sure, but you know, not so bad.IMG_9359 IMG_9358 IMG_9356

These are all on the east side of our property. Here’s what the west side looks like now.


That’s a “silt fence” that the city required the contractor to put up around the construction zone. I’m not sure what it’s accomplishing other than making things a bit more ugly. The giant piles of dirt were dug up for the new foundation and basement crawl space. There used to be plants where the dirt now resides. In fairness, the plants were total junk — random ground covers and weeds, and plants we dropped in there because they were dying elsewhere. I’m not that sad about the tear up, though the weeds still looked better than the dirt.

But that trashy-looking construction zone certainly sits in stark contrast to our well-tended gardens.  On the other hand, it fits perfectly with the kids’ junky plastic shit in our front yard.


Onward HO. In 3 hours we appear before the architectural review board to bitch about them requiring us to put brick on the rear elevation of our addition. I’ll be back this evening, stiff drink in hand, to tell you how that went.