darkemeralds: detail of beaded purse, caption One Bead At a Time (beadwork)
Today my niece came and took away my collection of beads.

Farewell, my little beads. )


13/4/14 15:11
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Empty Room)
My good friend [personal profile] roseambr and Mr Roseambr sacrificed a gorgeous spring day yesterday to share their expertise, their power tools and their knees and backs in installing my new laminate floor. Their precision and attention to detail have resulted in a gorgeous installation.

DarkEm's new black laminate bedroom floor in the afternoon light, with a white fur rug and some purple and magenta fabric samples

It's a curious thing, moving from design to execution. I'm much happier thinking up possibilities than pinning them down. Though I'm extremely satisfied with the results of all my planning, I'm aware of an antsy, anxious feeling today as the plan manifests, and all alternative possibilities drop away. I don't just have the cool idea of a black floor--I've now actually got a black floor--more or less forever. It's no longer possible to rearrange the furniture: everything now has to go where I drew it on the floorplan.

So though there's quite a bit more physical work to do, the really fun part is done, and soon I'll be back to my regularly-scheduled retirement. I'm gonna need a new project!
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Empty Room)
I can't decide whether the best invention ever right now is kneepads, utility knives, audiobooks or ibuprofen. All of these have played major roles in my life the last few days.

It's a good tired )

Board now

5/4/14 20:14
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
I've been sleeping in my living room for three weeks.

The moonlighting electrician, who could only squeeze me in on a Saturday, added a week to my little camping trip. Another several days got tacked on by four applications of plaster, each taking a day longer than normal to dry, owing to persistently damp weather and a north wall.

I do not repine, however. )


31/3/14 18:44
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Empty Room)
The drywall contractors dropped off 20 sheets of Sheetrock the other day, and it's been lying on my sad, sad bedroom floor, conveniently wrong side up, so last night I magicked some of it up.

A piece of Sheetrock with a large portrait photograph of DarkEmeralds taped to it, and the poem The Jewel by James Wright
That's my one and only professional portrait photo, which I had done for my 40th birthday and have had hidden in the back of a closet ever since. I wrote a little history of my time in this house on the back.

The writing is "The Jewel" by James Wright, my forever-favorite poem:

There is this cave
In the air behind my body
That nobody is going to touch:
A cloister
A silence
Closing around a blossom of fire.
When I stand upright in the wind
My bones turn to dark emeralds.

A couple of vigorous fellows came at 8:30 this morning, and had my drywall installed by 2:00. (One of them looked at my Sheetrock enhancement and asked, "What's that?" and I said, "Just some magic," and he kind of nodded, like, yeah, I've heard of that. Apparently people do this kind of thing all the time. Who knew?)

DarkEm's bedroom with raw drywall installed on walls and ceiling, and an incredibly dirty floor.
(Look at all my light fixtures! \o/)

Taping tomorrow morning, mudding tomorrow afternoon, sanding on Wednesday, and the contractor says I can paint by Saturday.
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Empty Room)
A couple of very focused, very knowledgeable drywall and plaster experts started in on my bedroom this morning at 8:30. It's been a noisy, chaotic, somewhat nerve-wracking day.

Wow. So layers! Much crowbar! Wow. )
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Empty Room)
Apologies to everyone in my circles for being a bad online friend over the last several weeks. I'm entering the freaking-out portion of my bedroom project, and my level of absorption--not to say obsession--is extreme. I hope to return to regular communication very soon.

Ready for the onslaught )
darkemeralds: Photo of Downtown Portland, Oregon USA in twilight (Portland)
Here's the fourth of five visits to Portlandy things I love. We seem to have a theme of redistribution going on. Today I visited two favorite east-side reduce/reuse/recycle places.

Scrap and Free Geek )
darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)
Since creating my not-really-black Rothko Walls in the living room a couple of years ago, I've been wanting to do a not-really-white version in the bedroom. Today I bought some paint and started experimenting.

Experimental results )
darkemeralds: Shirtless construction worker. Caption "Home Improvement" (Home Improvement)
I've been so immersed in my bedroom remodeling project for the last couple of weeks that I'm dreaming about it. I can--for the moment--recite IKEA cabinetry dimensions and all the Swedish product names, as well as every measurement of my room.

Don't worry. I won't. )
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Empty Room)
I'm taking this bedroom re-do so slowly, it's like watching hair grow. I do a tiny bit every day, some physical and visible, and some preparatory, like shopping online for better deals. None of it has unduly hurt my hands or wasted resources in hasty mistakes. So far I haven't even really spent any money (though that's coming).

And yet there's progress.

Taking my time )
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Empty Room)
Here's how it went:
  • Ohh! pretty curtain fabric! *buys*
  • Man, that window trim needs painting now
  • If I paint the trim, I really need to paint the walls, which means protecting the carpet
  • Wow, this carpet is disgusting! Hahahah! Utility knife! Slash! Rip! Goodbye old carpet!
  • This floor! What a sad mess!...*shops for new flooring*
  • But I can't do the floor till I solve the wardrobe problem...
And from there it's a total re-do.

Some DIY )
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Empty Room)
Consultation with my sister the realtor has convinced me that there's no meaningful advantage in selling my house and moving to a condo. The only gain--that of no longer having a garden to waste water on attend to--would be amply offset by losses. I can't actually downsize--my house is already smaller than a lot of condos. I can't reduce my monthly rent by enough to matter. And in my price range I can't possibly improve on my inner-city location.

So I'm staying. But one brilliant idea emerged from the few weeks where I was thinking about moving: I'm gonna play dead and have an estate sale. Turns out there are businesses--reputable local businesses of long standing--that will broker, sell, donate or discard every single thing in a house and leave it "broom clean and ready to sell". They document everything, take a cut, and write you a check.

I'm gonna rent a POD, put a select few items in it, take a vacation to the beach, and let the estate sale agents go to town. Then I'm going to move back in with my few items and start all over again.

I'm hoping to accomplish this before I retire.
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Decluttering)
A comment from [personal profile] karen_jk this morning has me thinking again about the analogies between weight loss and decluttering--specifically, can you "hack" your clutter the way John Walker claims you can hack your weight?

Analogies? )
darkemeralds: Manga-style avatar of DarkEm with caption Hee (cartoony me)
Whew! Just came home from the grocery store on Eleanor O with all three baskets filled, the most stuff I've ever carted by bike: lots of goodies to share with [personal profile] kis and Mr Kis over the coming week.

My front yard has been suitably barbered, the house is as tidy as it's gonna get, and I've painted my last for a while. There's a fresh set of cotton sheets, the duvet cover is on the clothesline being breezed, and I have a stack of little post-it notes ready to affix to cupboards and drawers so that my guests know where to find things, notably the tea.

I've emptied out a couple of drawers in the bedroom, set up a clothes rack, and fluffed up the pillows. I think Hotel Dark Em is ready for guests!
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Decluttering)
Back in 1912, when my house was built, Portland was booming, and housing for railroad workers was going up fast and cheap. They dug a hole, set some sturdy timber posts in concrete piers, laid beams across them, and put up walls and a roof.

There was a woodstove. No central heat, no insulation, no double-glazed windows; just a box of wood and glass, hovering about three feet above a depression in the soil, with a thin wooden skirt between that crawlspace and the east wind.

Fast forward a century, and a tiny house in an ungentrified working-class neighborhood is, not surprisingly, hardly improved at all. There are electric space heaters now (of the recalled-for-fire-hazard sort), and some cheap landlord of the past insulated the roof to 70s standards, but the house is still bloody cold in the winter.

Well, that's all about to change. The Clean Energy Works contractors spent the morning here assessing and measuring, and whee! It looks like I'm getting not only big fluffy insulation on all six sides of the cube, but what amounts to an actual heating system, too.

Just think! I'll be able to sit in my living room on a January night, rather than having to go to bed just to keep warm.

It's homeowner geekery at its finest, but I'm really pretty excited.
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Decluttering)
Clean Energy Works just called me to say that they've approved my loan application. This is the program that rejected my sister's application a few weeks ago. I tweeted the mayor to say that it didn't seem fair, he DM'ed me back saying he'd look into it, and now my application has been approved.

I asked the Clean Energy Works person what the approval criteria were, and she said your house has to be in the "top 75%" of energy inefficiency--or the bottom 25% of efficiency, I guess--and you have to pass the credit check. The inefficiency measure is based on heating bills and square footage. There was nothing to suggest that "mayoral pressure" was involved. Yet I went "Hm."

It turns out that the work they underwrite is really unglamorous: insulation, air-sealing, water-heater wrapping. No replacement windows or doors, nothing pretty or fancy or even visible. Just the hard, ugly work of blowing insulation into existing walls, and caulking gaps between them and the floors, and putting fiberglass blankets up under the floor from the basement.

It strikes me that it's almost like compacting the mass of all the stuff I've gotten rid of in the past couple of years and stuffing it into the walls and crawl spaces to help keep me warm this winter.

Work starts in October.


1/8/10 19:17
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Decluttering)
Until today, I hadn't started my car since February. It's been sitting out on the street in front of my house, gathering cherry-tree detritus and looking sad, while I ride my bike everywhere and test non-car-ownership as a way of life.

Poor car. If my sis hadn't stepped in, it would have sat there till all its value was gone. To me, the deadness of it seemed like an insurmountable obstacle, but she called AAA (on her membership), and they came and poured two gallons of gas into the tank and forced enough juice into the battery to turn the engine over.

Then she went with me for an otherwise-pointless 45-minute freeway drive to solidify the battery's charge and ream out whatever pipelines might have become gummed up.

To my amazement, it was fun. Driving fast on a summer afternoon, going nowhere, enjoying the freedom--it's part of the foundation of my youth. Suddenly, just getting rid of a car that I couldn't easily replace seemed kind of extreme. It's a nice car, it's a pleasure to drive, it runs well, and it's paid for. Part of me really does like driving.

On the other hand, the car needs cleaning, an oil change, some air in the tires, and, sometime in the next year or so, new brakes. And driving somewhere once a week just to keep an unneeded car viable seems silly and wrong.

I don't know. I haven't decided yet, I guess.


13/5/10 13:15
darkemeralds: Photo of an empty room with caption "Imagine an Empty Room" (Empty Room)
I joined Zipcar today.

Zipcar is the car-share business that lets members reserve and use cars for a few hours at a time. Their cars, rather than all being at the airport or in a central garage, are parked throughout the city. Once you're a member, you reserve online, you go borrow the car, you drive, and you park it back where you found it--easy peasy.

There's a Zipcar parked a couple of blocks from my house. It's not that my own car isn't working--it is, I think, though I haven't started it months, and last time I did the fuel tank was near empty. That's the point. I don't really need to own a car. I haven't needed to own a car for a while now.

So I'm gonna try out ZipCar for a few months. It cost me $25 to join, and the hourly rental fees (which include fuel and insurance) wouldn't amount to a hill of beans at my rate of car-usage.

Then, at the end of the summer, if it's been viable, I'll probably sell my car. It's just sitting there.


darkemeralds: Dark Emeralds in red glasses (Default)

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