Saturday, December 30, 2006

A very ghetto x-mas

I've been AWOL for a while now, but that doesn't mean I've been slacking on the sledge. Au contraire. In the interim, there've been at least six trips to Home Depot, and six thousand dollars (probably much more) spent on supplies and building materials. I've also acquired a live-in contractor. Maybe it started as a crazy idea, to find a live-in contractor via CraigsList (list of all lists!), but, my, my, it was BRILLIANT. Not only is the guy pretty cool, he has a sweet, scary-looking dog (Rex's latest gay lover). He's pretty easy to live with, not a sketchball, and, most importantly, he knows what he's doing. I've never been a woman to swoon over guys with powertools, but now I'm enlightened. Not that I'm swooning. (Sorry kids, not at all.) I just see the value in having someone on-hand to fix things you can't easily figure out. (I've had my bed on milk crates for the last six months b/c the frame was broken...and this dude fixed it in five minutes! What's so bad about that?)

I didn't realize how hard it is to do something as seemingly simple as selecting a faucet or lighting fixture until I found myself staring at them. THOUSANDS of them! The contractor, who has seen and remodeled hundreds of re-sells, is like a re-do guru. Forget Martha Stewart and those TLC people. I've realized, over the course of making these plans and buying this stuff, that if I can't even pick out a fixture (it's like staring at a menu with too many choices), there's no way I could've done this remodel myself. (As ever, in over my head...then, by magic, in the clear.) I feel really fortunate. And I'm psyched to see it come to fruition!

The master plan:
Get the place ready for a re-appraisal so that I can get a home equity loan (HELOC) (right now, there's so little equity, I'd be a fool to apply). This includes re-doing:
Kitchen, living and dining rooms, and two of the bedrooms. Also, install the windows, for which I paid cold, hard cash. (Ouch.)
With the HELOC, I can pay off the supplies I've charged thus far AND remodel the back bedroom, bathroom, and add ANOTHER bathroom, which will be exculsive to the back bedroom (a room to rent, w/ private entrance from garden). By the summer, I should have the front and back lawns xeriscaped. Vision: French doors from kitchen lead to back garden patio (fenced, private...many mornings of coffee and the NYT w/ dogs at my feet...heavenly), which will be very GREEN and include a sauna...and maybe a hot tub, too, if I feel really extravagant. I plan on living in the place for at least a few years before I can re-sell, so I want it to be NICE (and to include those features that rich people can't resist).

Bought poplar to trim ALL rooms and add lighted crown moulding to cieling in living (and maybe dining) room.

In the living room: built-in bookshelves on either side of the chimney (will install wood stove), refinish wood floor, bought new front door and door to hide furnace, knock out part of wall btw. liv/din. rms (add ballustrade)= gorgeous.

In kitchen: Laundry room (pretty big) becomes a part of the kitchen; door in laundry room disappears, thus making French doors (from kitch to back patio) main back entry. Hide laundry stuff w/ a closet; add pantry, new cabinets, new counters/countertops (custom butcher block mixed w/ sandy-colored slate); saltillo tile on the floor (also in dining); breakfast nook btw. dining and kitchen (requires removing a wall).

Serious undertakings! But I'm psyched. Now that we have all of the materials, it's really going to start coming together. I spent an entire day hunched over the kitchen floor, chipping away at the layers of ancient linoleum, all the way down to the concrete. It's still not entirely done, but it's close! It's going to be slow, I realize, but, well worth it, I think. Like anything else, I've got to suffer a little before I can eat my cake. (Speaking of which, I'm afraid I'm getting scurvy from eating so many xmas goodies.)

It's been nearly a year now that I've lived in NM (I drove out after Xmas last year, and arrived Jan. 3), and though I never meant to stay, it feels exactly right that I did. I can't imagine going back to NYC...not now, anyway. I couldn't take the hustle-bustle, not any more! (I don't know if I could've withstood another year...I'd be bald from too much stress, fat from all the drinking, and terminally insomniac.)

It's SO flippin' BEAUTIFUL here. We're in the midst of a major snow storm, and the entire city is blanketed in this pristine white crust. Coupled with that electric sunset? Outrageous. It never tires. Even the ghetto looks stunning, covered in snow. This was Rex's first encounter with the stuff, and he went nuts. We went for a run in the snow today, and he went loping through the woods, snarfing up the snow like a coke fiend. Totally adorable. At the park, he chased after kids on sleds, bounding in front of them as they torpedoed down the hill, then issuing drooly kisses as the kids lay face-up in the snow. Most succumbed in half-terror, half-glee. Who could resist?

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