Floored

I recently got our energy bill for the period covering the recent cold snap: $500! Granted that was some record-setting weather but still… $500! Ouch. I’m still in shock. Or perhaps I should say I’m floored.

Some of my friends assumed this high bill was indicative of high energy costs here in Southeast Louisiana. I don’t know how we compare to other parts of the country, but I don’t think that’s the culprit.

Rather, it’s the amount of electricity used. We clocked almost 6,000 killowatt hours over the course of that month. That’s 174.9 kwh per day. I suppose it’s possible Entergy misread the meter, but let’s assume it’s accurate for now.

How could we possibly have consumed that much energy?

I suspect the problem is lack of insulation. We thought we were in pretty good shape because the house was insulated as part of the renovation. As the seller informed us:

The exterior walls of the house have R13 fiberglass insulation throughout the house. The second floor attic has R30. The lower attic (over the kitchen area) has R19, which was the heaviest insulation that would fit between the joists over that area….

All of the [vinyl] replacement windows (which includes most of the windows in the house) are double-glazed Low E, and Energy Star rated.

However, there’s no insulation underneath the house. Since it’s raised a few feet off the ground, that means plenty of air gets underneath there and when it’s cold you can definitely feel it.

It seems that insulating beneath raised houses in New Orleans presents special challenges. I found an interesting article about this, which outlines the four basic choices: fiberglass, rigid foam board, open-cell spray foam or closed-cell spray foam.

But the more I read the more daunting it looks. I was heartened to learn that a scientific study has been mounted right here in New Orleans, using the different methods to insulate underneath twelve houses in Musicians’ Village for twelve months. But after scouring the web I couldn’t find the final report, so I contacted the principal investigator (Sam Glass at the USDA FPS) and am waiting for a reply.

It’s all further complicated by the fact that our floor could use some repairs in a few places. I assume it would be best to address these repairs before adding insulation.

I don’t think this is something I’m going to tackle myself. There are just too many variables, too many things to screw up, and more work than I have time to accomplish, what with being a public school widower and a daddy.

Oh, the joys of home ownership.

Fumigation Days

The fumigation we’d originally planned for early December has finally been accomplished, and I must say despite the hassle that it’s better to complete than to abort.

All living things have to be removed from the house prior to fumigation, and relocated elsewhere for approximately 48 hours. (Actually that’s not true; indeed, the whole point of fumigation is to kill off some living things. I did not relocate the termites.) Also, all food has to be remove from the house, except stuff that is canned or otherwise “factory sealed.”

This is similar to evacuation and just as fun. In some ways it’s even more fun.

Redrum

It’s spooky being inside a house all wrapped up — tarps filtering red light thru windows.

Cream & Crimson

I feel like I’m in a Christo installation.

Our House

You’ve been clamoring for a photo of our new house. So, here it is. It was pumped full of poison gas when this was taken.

We spent two nights uptown with my boss. She and her husband were incredibly accommodating and gracious hosts.

After they took off the tarp they put this sign on the house while we waited for the poison gas to disperse:

Peligro

An unanticipated side benefit to this whole ordeal — our daughter has finally been weaned.

Carseat

Did I mention we have three cats and a rabbit? They handled the dislocation better than we did.

Carriers

So we’re back in our home now, but the termites presumably are not.

A few more photos in this set.

Well, Crap

Overnight New Orleans got pounded by heavy, heavy rain for several hours. Also some serious gusts. We lost power for a while during the night and there was of course some street flooding throughout the city.

The weather has caused our fumigation to be postponed. They were set to tent the house this morning, but during the storms the tarp got ripped. It was on another house at the time. That house has to be resealed and pumped full of more fumigant. So we have to aim for another date.

Meanwhile I’ve got a new worry to preoccupy me. This is by far the heaviest rain we’ve had in a while, and sure enough we sprang a leak. It appears to be in the area where the addition joins the older part of the house. Observant readers will recall a leak in this area was amongst the deficiencies we discovered in our inspection. But that was in at the other end of the addition; at least that repair appears to have held.

Five Things I Hate About Our New House

No, I’m not feeling particularly grumpy. Quite the opposite. We are settling in and making good progress on unpacking. We’ll close the deal soon and actually I’m pretty happy about the way things have worked out. But I thought I’d just go ahead and get these five points out of the way.

  1. The stairs are too steep. The transition between upstairs and downstairs is pretty harrowing. Especially going down I’m sometimes seized by a fear of plunging headlong forward to die of a broken neck. I’m starting to get used to it, though.
  2. The floor is spongy. This is an old house that’s been pretty thoroughly renovated. The wood floors have clearly seen better days. The effort to restore them was valiant bordering on heroic. I noticed the waviness during our initial inspections and have learned to cope with that; it’s somewhat akin to walking around slightly tipsy at which I’m fairly well-practiced. But now I’m discovering there are certain spots that give a little when I step on them. I wonder if this can be remedied somehow.
  3. There’s not enough storage space. There are plenty of closets, six I think, though I’m not getting up to count them just now. That’s awesome. But our old house had about 500 square feet of storage space in the form of a large “utility room” where we had our laundry facilities. We stuck all manner of crap down there. I kept my tools and our bikes there as well as odd bits of junk picked off the street, fodder for future art projects that somehow never came to fruition. At the new house, not so much. I don’t know where we’ll keep our bikes. I guess we’ll have to build a shed or something.
  4. The bathtubs are too small. Seriously. This may sound trivial but it’s not. I’m 6’4″ and subject to mild fits of claustrophobia when I can’t extend my legs fully. When we flew out to Houston a couple weeks ago and the pilot announced that we’d be stuck on the runway for a bit, I had a brief surge of panic and it was mostly related to the thought that I won’t be able to unbend my knees. When we were hunting for our first house in 2002 one of the items on our list was “big claw foot tub,” and it was a selling point on the house we eventually bought, and one of the the things I loved about living there. (Of course we did find that tub was laden with lead.) Our new house has three full baths, amazingly enough, but even more astonishing is the fact that they are all too small for me. These are new tubs, whereas the claw foot I loved so much was very old. I thought people were getting bigger as time went on. (Though obviously this rule of thumb does not apply across the board.) So what gives with the shrinking of the American tub?
  5. Location. This is a double-edged sword. In many ways I love this location. It’s near a fun venue that has live music every night, there are some little shops and restaurants — not too fancy but very nice. The street is lined with those archetypal live oaks. And most of all there seems to be a preponderance of owner-occupied homes. Still plenty of rentals around, but we aren’t the sole homeowners on the block like we were before. So that’s all good. And yet… and yet… I have come to think of the intersection of Jeff Davis and Canal as the very center of New Orleans, geographically speaking. It’s halfway between the river and the lake, halfway between the Industrial Canal and the Jefferson Parish line. I kinda wanted to stay near that area, and of course Bayou St. John and the Lafitte Corridor. Now we’re just a little bit removed from all that, on the other side of Carrollton and the other side of Canal. The shortest route from home to work is now through the dreaded Toni Morrison Interchange (named, by the way, for the politician, not the author) rather than the Jeff Davis bike path — augh, that hurts my soul. If you’ve ever tried riding your bike through the Toni Morrison Interchange you’ll understand exactly what I mean. I am now close enough to walk to work in record time via the “highly unpleasant pedestrian path that leads through this concrete knot,” as it’s described in Letters from New Orleans. So our new location is perhaps an improvement, but it’s not an unqualified one.

OK, enough moaning and whining already. I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Three Offers

After a couple weeks of little to no activity, we got three offers on our house yesterday.

There’s a long way to go to actually close the deal, of course. So I’m not throwing any parties, but I can’t deny that my mind is athrob with a steady pulse of excitement. We might just pull this off after all.

So I’m celebrating with music, of course. Here’s a mix of long, (mostly) mellow rhythms which seem appropriate to my mood. Only ten tracks, but over two hours of music, by Psychick Warriors ov Gaia, Grasspig, Steve Reich and others.

Anyway, enjoy. And keep your fingers crossed for us.

House Sellin’ Mix

Our open house is today, and we hope plenty of prospective buyers will show up. Our old friend Brian Rice recommended that we should have some “soothing, but hip, music playing low in the background.” So here is a mix I call “Soothing but Hip,” eleven tracks of long sweet mellowness, including music by Brian Eno, Douglas Irvine and John Zorn.

We won’t be home during the open house. That’s our Realtor’s gig. But I left this playing on a loop while we made ourselves scarce. If you’re feeling in the mood for some relaxing ambient sounds, give it a try. I think it runs about three hours.

On the Market

Our House

Well, it’s official. Our house is on the market. There’s a “For Sale” sign in front.

For Sale

We’ve been very happy here. It’s hard to think that our home for the last seven years might soon belong to someone else. But here’s hoping. If you’re interested call our Realtor, Shannon Sharpe Briand, at (504) 616-7000.

It’s listing for $179,000, which is not bad for a house over 2,000 square feet. In fact, it’s a bargain, for the right buyer. We’ve made an offer on another house; this sale has to happen to swing the deal. So it is priced to sell.

Did I mention it’s got new plumbing, and new wiring, and a huge shower with three heads, and the lower floor is essentially all new?

For a little extra help, our friend James got us some St. Joseph medallions. They were sold out of statues. Tough market for sellers, I guess.

Medallions

We buried them in our front yard.

Burying

Yes, it’s a tough market for sellers, but I am hopeful this house will move. For one thing, homer prices in the surrounding area took a hit recently, but in our zip code they actually are on the rise. And for another thing, there’s some sort of federal stimulus for first-time buyers ($8,000 I think) which expires in November. So our timing is auspicious.

This blog, or at least the homepage, will probably go offline while the house is on the market, so don’t be surprised if you find a real estate ad here soon.

Making an Offer

We are making an offer on a house today. I don’t want to reveal too many details for fear of jinxing things, so suffice it to say that it’s in Mid-City and we like it a lot.

It’s a predicated offer — our purchase of the new house is predicated on the successful sale of our current house. That’s the only way we can afford it. Tricky stuff, though I gather it’s fairly routine.

I am taking this week off to work on our house, doing little cosmetic things that I’ve been putting off for a while, to get it ready for market.

Here’s hoping this all goes smoothly.

Trading Up

I’ve put a lot of my heart and soul into our old house. Xy has too. So I thought it would be painful to contemplate moving. I thought I’d agonize over that decision more, weighing the pros and cons.

But it really hasn’t been that hard. Once I framed the idea as “trading up,” it actually became quite easy, even exciting to think about.

By “trading up,” I mean that if we sell our house and buy a new one, we will probably improve our quality of life somewhat. Central air and heat would be nice, for example. An actual yard might be nice too. Things like that.

Apparently, out there in most of the country, it’s a bad time to sell your house, but a good time to buy one. New Orleans has had a different dynamic going on; we’ve been in a “recovery bubble,” if you will. In the last year or so that bubble has dissolved somewhat, and home prices in New Orleans have indeed taken a hit — except, it seems, in our zip code where values have gone up.

If we were really smart, I guess we’d buy in one of these other zip codes where home prices have declined. There are some real bargains to be had.

But I’m not sure that we are that smart. As we’ve started to look around, I’ve discovered it’s very difficult to contemplate leaving Mid-City. There are plenty of other cool neighborhoods, but Mid-City is really where we want to be. I like the walkability of Mid-City, as well as its proximity to my place of employment (and Xy’s).

But there’s more to it than that. We’ve put down some roots here, and especially after Katrina we have invested ourselves emotionally in the local community.

My other geographical fixation is, of course, the Lafitte Corridor. Right now we are living just a couple blocks from it, and I think it will be a tremendous asset once it actually gets built.

So I am hoping we can find the right house, at the right price, in Mid-City, near the Lafitte Corridor. We are looking in other places, but that’s the dream location.

I drew up a quick wish-list of things we want in a house.

  • 2000+ sq ft
  • yard or gardening opportunities
  • central air/heat
  • pool, or room for one (Xy’s fixation)
  • big bathtub
  • nicer area
  • lead-free

The only real absolutes on that list are the last two. We will only be able to discover if a house is lead-free in the inspection phase after we’ve made an offer. As for the “niceness” of the immediate area, that’s highly subjective of course. I don’t mean fancy or posh. Bohemian is more my style. But a certain feeling of safety and comfort is essential.

A Change of Direction

I was surprised to discover this morning that our one-way street had reversed direction overnight.

Well, it wasn’t a big surprise really. The city had sent me a letter explaining the plan and polling our opinion, but I never mailed the form back in. After mulling it over a while I thought it might not be such a bad idea.

Our neighbor Charles was pissed about it though. He had voted against — twice, actually. He got two forms because he owns a double.

It’s kind of poetic for this to happen today, I suppose, because this afternoon we met with our favorite Realtor to discuss the possibility of selling our house. Kind of a change of direction for us. Further ruminations forthcoming.

Our car seemed to be disoriented by parking in the opposite direction from which it is accustomed. It started honking randomly this evening. Very annoying. I finally got under the hood and yanked the horn fuse to shut the damn thing up.

More Hazards

I was feeling pretty good yesterday as my remediation work went according to plan. Here’s four photos that show the transition from flaking lead-based paint, through surface prep, priming, and a first coat of paint.

Flaking

Scraped & Sanded

Primed & Ready

First Coat

Still needs a second coat. I’m pretty sure I did this safely, with no contamination — no lead dust in our house. The lead-based paint is still there, of course, but it’s pretty well sealed and shouldn’t bother us for years. Kids under the age of six are at the most risk of lead poisoning, and since we are living in the house right now, I’m definitely looking for quick solutions that will be effective for a number of years.

So far so good. But…

While I was taking a break and waiting for things to dry, I did some more lead-testing around the house using some LeadCheck Swabs. I found a couple more things ACORN missed.

Flaking Frames

We’ve got a bunch of window screens lying around in old wooden frames which are covered in dark green paint. These were removed from the house during our post-flood renovation and ACORN’s remediation work and have never been replaced. Some were even painted yellow by the ACORN volunteers, rather haphazardly. Yet somehow ACORN never identified that dark green paint as being lead-based — which I believe it is, based on my testing yesterday.

Not all of the screens are peeling like the ones pictured. Most are in halfway decent shape. I’m inclined to just get rid of them all, but I wonder if it would be feasible — and cost-effective — to have them dipped and stripped.

Next stop: the bathroom.

Bathroom Closet

The painted woodwork in this room was sanded down by the previous owner. If you look closely you can see patches of white paint which remain. Sure enough, it’s lead-based. It’s not just this door, it’s all over the room on the trim, and the window too.

ACORN didn’t catch this, though they did identify and address the lead paint on the bathroom wall. (Thankfully this seems to be the only room inside the house with lead-based paint.) I’m guessing the wall and woodwork were painted at the same time with the same paint. I can see why they missed the woodwork, as it doesn’t even appear to be painted at first glance.

I’m not sure how seriously to take this hazard. Sometimes you’re better off not disturbing paint. As long as it remains intact with no flaking or peeling or dust it can’t get into your system. But what about this sanded-down stuff? I think it needs to be addressed. Probably a simple matter of painting over it. Too bad, because I like the look of the wood.

Oh, and then there’s the other side of the door:

Cracked & Peeling

The previous owner didn’t sand the inside, and it’s cracking and peeling, so addressing this is a priority. Probably a good candidate for a dip and strip.

I suppose I need to have a closer look at the inside of the closet itself… Hmm… and the medicine cabinet too, which is made from the same wood and has what I assume is the same paint in the interior. And the window with its moving parts could be a source of lead dust.

Bathroom

We’re thinking of getting the tub reglazed. It will be out for three weeks, which will be an excellent time to renovate the bathroom, which frankly needs some work. But the more I think about it, the more I’m thinking we might need a specialist for this room.

Back to School

I’d like to take a moment to salute all the teachers of the world who work so hard for our children. You rock!

Today is the first day of classes at Xy’s new school.

Back to School

I took her traditional “first day” photo as she left the house. Not easy holding a toddler in one arm.

As I noted last year,

There’s no longer a single big “back to school” day in our fractured system. All the schools are on different schedules now.

Xy’s new school is starting a week early because they plan to move to a new and improved location mid-year.

Oh yes, it’s going to be a hellacious year.

Speaking of moving, I called my favorite Realtor yesterday to set the wheels in motion for making a move ourselves. Further ruminations forthcoming.

As for Persephone, she’s turned into a hat-loving freak.

She Loves Her Hat

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

As for me, I am taking the day off to enact the remediation I mentioned a couple days ago.

Flaking

I had a few brief flashes of panic — “oh no I’ve bit off more than I can chew” — but it’s pretty much gone according to plan so far. I used duct tape to get the biggest flakes off. I wet-scraped and wet-sanded and now I’m letting it dry. I have been scrupulously, obsessively careful about containing the mess, and I think I have succeeded.

I also think that I may be coming down with a cold.

Meanwhile, they’re doing something with the beehive in the house next door, but damned if I can figure out what.

Swarm

Apparently it involves burning big sticks of incense.

A Little Remediation

Problem: When ACORN did lead-paint remediation on our house, they missed one small area around our front door. The lead-based paint that remains there is a little bit flaky and very dry, so that lead paint dust on the threshold has become a problem.

Solution: I’ve been reading up on remediation techniques, and I think I can manage this job myself. It’s a small job. I measured this morning, and found the space in question is four inches deep. The total area is about 800 square inches, or five and half square feet.

I’ll take a day off work. Once the girl has been safely bundled off to daycare, I’ll crank up some tunes and prepare the site. I will put plastic sheeting down to catch and chips or dust dislodged during the process, using duct tape to hold it in place. I’ve got an old respirator but can’t find the proper replacement cartridge, so I might buy a new one. I can wear plastic bags over my shoes which should make cleanup easy — it’s important to avoid tracking lead dust around.

Then I’ll be ready to do some wet scraping. This is just to remove any loose flakes. There don’t appear to be too many areas that are actually flaking, so I don’t anticipate this will take long or dislodge much. I’ve never done wet scraping before but it seems pretty easy: spray the area with a mister and scrape with a scraper. A light treatment with a wet sanding sponge might be good to de-gloss the whole surface.

That’s it for the messy part. I can clean up then and let the surface dry for a few hours. Then I’ll put down a little more sheeting just to catch drips, and apply a coat of primer. A couple coats of paint on top of that and the job will be done. The lead will still be there, but sealed away where it can’t get into our bodies. This is essentially the same technique ACORN used on the outside of our entire house.

Or maybe I should use a stripper like Peel Away?

Hazards

We got the results of our lead test from last Friday. Check out the complete report (PDF) for all the gory details, but I am going to try to summarize them in plain English.

They didn’t find any lead hazards inside the house, but they did find some on the perimeter, in two spots.

1) The threshold of our front door. I kind of suspected there might be lead paint dust there. Back when ACORN did lead abatement on our house, they forgot the strip of paint right inside our doorframe. It’s only about 2 1/2″ wide. That pain is presumably flaking and getting dust on the threshold. Unfortunately the threshold is an area which Xy has not routinely included when she mops the house. (Rest assured I mopped it yesterday.) As I mentioned, they didn’t find hazardous levels inside the house itself, but we only had them check a few places. In retrospect I wish we’d done a couple more swabs upstairs. Lead dust could be tracked in from the threshold into the house.

2) The soil in our backyard. I don’t think ACORN ever tested this. We always suspected this soil might be contaminated, which is why we don’t grow any vegetables there — ornamental plants only. Note that we don’t have an actual yard, just a concrete slab. All the soil is in containers, large raised beds that were there before we bought the house and spent time under water in the flood of ’05. Persephone doesn’t play in the containers, of course. However, some of the containers are rather porous, and dirt gets out from them onto the slab. How much? The sample from our slab indicates an amount that is above HUD standards for outdoors — but below HUD standards for indoors.

3) That’s plenty to chew on, but here’s a little more. I ordered some LeadCheck Swabs, a do-it-yourself method. I’ve heard these can give false negatives, so I take them with a grain of salt. I checked a few items around the house. I checked the paint around the door, which I know to be lead-based, and sure enough, it gave a positive result. I had heard bathtubs can be a source of lead contamination, especially old clawfoot tubs such as the one we have (and love) so I decided to give it the test. The swab seemed to come away negative — but when I came back a half an hour later I noticed the area I’d rubbed was pink and red. (That means lead.) Yikes!

Pink & Red

So… what to do? Dr. Rodgers tells me there’s no “magic bullet” in a house with lead paint. All you can do is clean up what you find and recheck the blood. If the blood lead level doesn’t go down, then you keep looking.

According to HUD priorities you have to attack peeling lead paint, lead on doors and windows (which make dust through friction), lead dust on floors and window sills and lead soil.

So I am devising a plan of attack.

First the easy stuff: Until further notice: No more playing out back, and no more baths in the tub. We may ultimately decide these are not big risks after all, but for now we won’t take chances.

Next the mundane stuff: We are increasing the frequency of mopping. We are washing hands more often. We are trying to remember to take our shoes off when we enter the house, but this is tough because we have — no kidding — six doors to get in and out of the house. Mainly we use only two, but my shoes always seem to be by the other door.

Then there’s the more difficult task of actually doing something to mitigate the hazards. Do I tackle the paint around the door myself? Hire a pro? Or just clean the bejeezus out of the threshold? A little more research is required.

As for our raised beds, we could perhaps seal them tighter. I have some ideas that involve a bit of brick-laying and concrete patching. I might try to organize a party for that some weekend coming up, see if I can get any friends to work for beer.

Of course, we are also thinking about selling the house, and not just because of the lead hazards. That’s complicated. Further ruminations forthcoming.

And finally: I am taking the girl to another pediatrician at the end of this week for a second opinion — another capillary (pinprick) screening. I decided to pursue this after Kent shared a link indicating the rate of false positives for such tests may be much higher than I expected. (Like, as high as 73%.) Wouldn’t it be nice if this all turned out to be a big mistake? Now that we have confirmed lead hazards around our home, that seems a bit much to hope for. Still, in a couple weeks we will have another number to ponder.

Lead Poisoning

Despite our efforts, despite testing our water, despite an extensive lead abatement program conducted on our house by ACORN, we got word yesterday afternoon that our little 17-month-old girl has a high level of lead contamination.

How high? BLLs > 13 µg/dL. Translation: blood lead level greater than 13 micrograms per deciliter of blood. Is that a lot? Well, the bad thing about lead is that there’s really no safe level. She doesn’t have to be rushed to the hospital for chelation. But it’s still not good. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, permanent damage to the central nervous system, even death.

Needless to say we are very upset. There are a thousand things that can happen to an infant child, but this was the one thing that I focused on and tried to avoid. I was aware of the danger, and still we have this threat to our baby’s health.

In old urban neighborhoods (like Mid-City New Orleans) we need to be especially vigilant because of the prevalence of lead-based paint on many of our historic buildings. Of course, I thought we were being vigilant. That’s what makes this doubly frustrating. Indeed, it’s difficult to type this without using expletives.

I understand it’s not so much the exact level of lead in the system that is the primary concern. Rather, it’s the symptoms associated with lead poisoning. Fortunately we haven’t seen signs of any of these symptoms. That’s the one tiny little bright spot here.

Right now I believe there is only one course of action: Eliminate the source of the lead contamination, give her a balanced diet (with an emphasis on calcium, iron, and vitamin C), and then re-test later. But before we can eliminate the lead, we have to identify where it is coming from. The primary suspect remains lead-paint dust in and around our house. As mentioned previously, we had work done on our house by ACORN, but it may not have been sufficient. So now we are looking for a reputable commercial service that can test our house. I’ve got some leads which I will be pursuing vigorously.

Range Change

Old Range

New Range

So we got a new range to replace our ancient fire hazard. A few gotchas along the way.

  1. The old stove was 36″ wide. Most modern stoves are 30″ wide. You can get ‘em in a 36″ size but it’ll cost you. The cheapest 36″ range at Sears was $1700. So we went with 30″ and now we have a 6″ gap on one side. We can either move the cabinet over 6″, replace the cabinet with a wider one, or eliminate the cabinet entirely. Not sure what we’re gonna do.
  2. Couldn’t find a taker for the old range. I called Hugh’s Place but they weren’t interested. I advertised on Freecycle but people didn’t seem to understand the part about how it is unsafe in its current condition. It needs work. I’d hate to give it away to some poor shmuck and then their house burns down. So the old range went to the landfill, alas.
  3. I didn’t realize our new gas range would need an electrical outlet, but of course it does. It has electric igniters rather than pilot lights, and then there’s the clock and the electronic dashboard. There’s even a light on the oven, what luxury. So for now we have an extension cord draped over the cabinet.
  4. Marvin the salesman hyped the solid metal knobs. I asked if that wasn’t just for the stainless steel model. Oh no, quoth Marvin, the black version has black metal knobs. Well, they’re plastic.

The old range had some class, and I miss it a little. But it scorched the cabinet and nearly burned down the house. It had to go. I definitely don’t miss the old oven. It was less than 18″ wide and couldn’t fit much. It couldn’t accommodate our pizza-baking stone, for example. It’s nice having a full-size, fully functional oven. It makes me want to bake things. Perhaps a chocolate pistachio orange-loaf?

The old range and the new have one thing in common: They’re both Kenmores.

There are a few more photos on Flickr.

What Luck

We’re extremely fortunate that we did not burn down the house last night.

Xy had just made a couple trays of her famous pseudo-enchiladas. She had a tray baking in the oven when a strange odor began to permeate the kitchen. It smelled like something burning. Perhaps some food remnant crusted on the bottom of the oven?

Nope, turns out it was the particle board in the cabinet next to the stove. It was burning, not an open raging flame, but a slow smoldering burn, blackening the interior, peeling the veneer. Our electric mixer was in there and melted partially. Wow, did it stink.

I think it’s time for a new stove. I’m not sure what caused this problem, but the stove really is very old, maybe 50 years old or so. It’s got a great look, but it’s not in very good shape. If properly restored it could be a really cool antique stove. But I think we’ll just get something new.

Anyway, yesterday was a very lucky day, it seems. We’re lucky Xy caught this before it became more serious. We’re lucky her car pool was able to change up on short notice when the car wouldn’t start.

I celebrated our excessive good fortune with an extra dollop of cognac in my eggnog.

Something Got Done

I took the day off yesterday to make some repairs to our deck. Specifically, I replaced three old warped and worn-out boards with new lumber.

Three New Boards

The amazing thing to me is I actually got it all done. Moreover, all in one day: buying the lumber and the deck screws, removing the old boards, cutting the new boards to length and screwing them into place. Even the cleanup.

So often any project I take on seems to have a way of mushrooming and getting beyond me. For once that didn’t happen. Hooray.


Of course, something did go wrong. It had to. I dropped my phone and apparently killed it. It thinks it has no battery, and won’t even run off AC power. So don’t try to call my cell phone please.