Well Ring-A-Ding-Ding

We have rings!

With the house renovation taking center stage in our lives right now, and on this blog, I haven't had much time to think about/talk about our upcoming nuptials.

But today, our rings arrived and I am more excited than I thought I'd be.

When Daniel and I decided to get married, I knew I didn't want anything even remotely resembling a traditional wedding. I am not and never have been on board the wedding train. I even refused Daniel's efforts to hook me up with an engagement ring - it's just not me, and fortunately, he understands that. He totally gets me. So, when I said I didn't want a wedding, he said, "we'll do whatever makes you happy...i just want you".

Rings, though...rings I want. I like the tradition of wearing circles of metal as a unifying symbol. Rings are a symbol of marriage, of partnership and commitment, and I like that.

So, I went about looking for rings. Initially, I really liked the idea of this concrete and steel ring, but the artist could only make it in one width. Plus, even though I like it now, I may not like wearing it when I'm a withered 82 year old. It seems kinda trendy...and I wanted something timeless.

But, I knew I didn't want a mass-produced ring you could just go to any jewelry store and pick up. I'm weird like that.

I don't even remember how I stumbled across this exquisite piece by turn-of-the-century, Danish metalsmith, Georg Jenson. This ring is no longer in circulation and I could only find a few online (all international dealers), but the mobius design caught my attention for it's simplicity and elegance.

I read more about the mobius strip, and the more I read, the more fitting it seemed; the more I loved it. Strong, simple design combined with mathematical theory (In case I've never mentioned it, Daniel is a HUGE math geek. Now you know.) representing "no beginning and no end". Perfect.

But, as I wasn't able to get my hot little hands on a couple of original Georg Jensen mobius rings, I started searching online for other mobius ring designs. Believe it or not, I had a difficult time finding what I wanted...until I stumbled across this wonderful artist:

Amanda Fisher is a metalsmith working out of Northborough, Massachusetts. You can look at her website here. She was awesome to work with. She went over every step of her process in creating our rings. Made us read about the different metal options to choose the right one for us. Sent us photos along the way at each step. And eventually mailed us these:

They are perfect. Perfect thickness and width and weight. Perfect color. We used a 14k palladium white gold. White gold is typically made with nickel. The palladium gives the gold a darker, steely-er color. Also, a lot of people have or develop allergic reactions to nickel...but not so with palladium.

This is Daniel's ring on my thumb - he has big fingers.

I love that they were hand-made. Just for us.

Very exciting.


Are We Done Yet?

Now? How about now? Now are we done?

As much as I love our contractors, I want them GONE. Impatience has settled in my bones. I'm ready to have them be done with their work so Daniel and I can move in and get on with stuff we want to do to the house, that we can't, as long as all of their construction crap is strewn about the ENTIRE house. We are officially moving our asses (and all of our furniture) into the house in less than 2 weeks. And instead of our house looking tidier and more complete as the days go by, it looks as much of a wreck as it ever did...at least on the surface.

The master bathroom, along with ALL of the electrical work, are the last major components to be completed. There are still a few little things hanging out there like repairing the kitchen wall and building a surround for our new range vent and repointing the fireplace bricks...

Last week, they spent a good portion digging up our main water line and replacing it, digging alongside the house to provide extra drainage, installing a roof vent for our shower, and finishing up the plumbing in the master bathroom.

Here's the other thing they've been doing: Mutilating our front door.

The front door is problematic. It was painted a heinous shade of cracked, faded teal. And the bottom would stick everytime you opened or closed the damn thing. Our initial response was, "Replace it!". However, the door is the original solid mahoghany door. The inside of the door is gorgeous paneled wood. And it's an unusual height of 7'-6" (doors come in standard sizes of 7'-0" or 8'-0"), so we would need a custom door built in order to replace it. Plus, trying to replace a beautiful old door of this quality and craftsmanship, would require mucho dinero. Our contractors offered to strip it down and see what kind of condition the wood was like underneath the layers of paint.

Conclusion: The door itself is sturdy and not yet ready for the graveyard. However, getting it to the original wood again will be nearly impossible and/or cost prohibitive as the paint is so very old.

Solution: The contractors shaved an 1/8" off of the bottom so it wouldn't stick anymore and suggested we re-paint the door once they have repaired any cracks and sanded it down.

So, I guess that's what we'll do. But for now, this is what graces our front entrance:



6th Grade Rebellion

So, this morning, at 7:16 a.m. as I was getting ready for work, my phone beeped with an incoming text message. It was from a local number but one that I didn't recognize. This is what it said:

Msg:FWD: send this to every middle schooler at CPA: where [sic] comfy day stuff friday and no one will get in trouble if every1 does it. :)

CPA is Christ Presbyterian Academy - it's a private school located on my route to work.

Vellly Intellesting...

It would seem as though I am in possession of highly sensitive information. Information of a revolutionary nature...or at least a coup. Right? School uniforms be damned, the middle schoolers are plotting their "comfy day stuff" rebellion. They have used the modern medium of text message to convey and spread their mutinous cause.

I guess this would imply that most middle schoolers have their own cell phones? Hunh.

In the spirit of solidarity, I will not turn them into the authorities. And hopefully, none of the CPA authorities are aware of the existence of this blog and thus the subversive efforts of the CPA middle schoolers.

Viva la Revolucion!


Pink Is My Favorite Color


The other bathroom in our house is pink. With some white. Originally it had blue-pinkish paisley wallpaper, but we took care of that atrocity right quick!

Underneath the wallpaper we found lovely plaster walls that had been painted...pink. I can live (for now) with the pink wall tiles. Mostly because they are the real deal - real tiles, as opposed to acrylic or some other kind of plastic substance. Same with the floor. The floor is the original hexagonal tiles, mostly white with a few scattered pink tiles.

The walls, however, must be dealt with.

First, we sanded them to remove any bits of wallpaper still clinging to the surface along with any wallpaper glue, and any other unidentified anomalies. We tried using elbow grease and those smallish foam sandpaper blocks. When this method proved mostly futile, we brought out the big guns - namely, an electric sander.

Hello, my friend.

I adore the electric sander. Best $29 bucks we've spent so far! And, let me tell you, we have certainly been spending the bucks lately, at an alarming rate.

Once we sanded the walls, we went about patching them using a spackling substance called DryDex.

Anyone who has plaster walls, knows that they are prone to hairline cracks. These cracks are not indicative of any structural failure or wall damage, it's just the nature of the beast. Personally, I find the innocuous cracks charming. But, since we have the opportunity now, and future cracks are inevitable, we went ahead and repaired them along with any nail holes before we paint.

The DryDex is applied using a plastic spatula scraper thingy (that's the technical term). It's a bright pink color (think bubble gum on speed), and the consistency of thick cake frosting...just like the Betty Crocker stuff that comes in a tub at the grocery store.

Then, as it dries, it turns from psychedelic pink to white. When it's completely dry, we will sand the walls again, wipe them down, and paint them using a paint that is both primer and paint in one. I've never used such a product, but we thought we'd give it a try. Ultimately, if it means LESS painting...I'm in!

On the NON-PINK front, our contractor has been working on tiling the kitchen floor. I'd say, 85%-90% of the tiles are laid, no grout yet. And they're kinda dusty from general construction dust, but MAN, I am loving those tiles!

Sure beats the black and white vinyl checkerboard floor that was there before.


Get Ready To Rrrrrrr-UM-BLE!

I cannot wait for tomorrow night. It's just so exciting...and sad. Because after the season finale tomorrow, we have to wait, like, 8 months for the final season of LOST. I will be bereft. But at the moment, I am all a-tingle with anticipation!


Hot, Wet, & Sticky

Wallpaper Removal.

Anyone who has enjoyed removing decades old wallpaper, say "Aye!".


Remember how I told you about, and showed you, all the freaking wallpaper in our house?

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Previously, we (Daniel) had attempted to remove it using the heat gun. It worked so well on the contact paper, we thought we'd give it a shot. It did not work well on the old, old wallpaper stuck to original plaster walls. So, then, we (Daniel) attempted to use a water and fabric softener solution to remove the wallpaper. This method also, did not work well.

So, on Saturday we went to Home Depot (our new hang-out) to rent a wallpaper steamer.

This thing actually worked pretty well. It was still a hot, wet, sticky, messy process that required considerable patience, but we managed to remove all of the wallpaper in the entire kitchen (even the little strips above the cabinets), and in the hallway and in the pink bathroom. And it was only $32 to rent for 24 hours.

So, now instead of dark blue wallpaper with little columns of pink roses, or pink paisley wallpaper, we have lovely old water stained plaster walls which will require patching, sanding, priming, and painting.

One step at a time...


Are You Tired Of House Posts Yet?

I'm finding it extremely difficult to concentrate steadily on anything but my new house and it's current state of transfiguration. Last night, Daniel went out to the house to take some boxes over and talk to our contractor - again, without me because I was at the office until 8:30 p.m. Blah.

The brick re-pointing has been finished on the back terrace. Basically, re-pointing bricks just means cleaning them up, replacing or repairing any damaged bricks and re-mortaring the brick joints. It's a maintenance thing to keep any brick structures from crumbling to bits. And the non-painted, exposed brick of the terrace seriously needed some maintenance. Here's a picture of the steps after being newly re-pointed yesterday.

Our contractor, who is a hoot and a total pleasure to work with, sent new pictures of the work they've been doing on the master bathroom. The plumber was there today, re-plumbing everything and upgrading pipes and connectors and such.

We've come up with an interesting design (well, I guess we didn't really "come up" with it since they've been doing something similar in Japan for ages) to accommodate our smallish space. Since we absolutely want a walk-in, tiled shower stall, but also want a soaking tub, we're going to combine the two. So, you'll walk through the glass shower door into the tiled shower stall and just beyond, tucked in a sort of nook, will be the soaking tub. Get it? No? Never mind then, just wait til I post pictures of the finished design.
Right now, it looks like this:

Oh, and the mystery of the mystery tile has been solved. It's the glass tile we're going to be using as an accent in the shower. The shower will be tiled mainly with black slate, but then we're going to do a band of decorative glass tile. Our contractor brought us a sample of said glass tile. Mystery solved.


Renovation By Proxy

Buying a house is awesome. Buying a house and not being able to ever see it, SUCKS.

Yes, that’s right, due to the fact that I leave for work at 7 a.m. and don’t return from work until 8:30 p.m. (yes, even on the weekends), I have zero time to drive over to our newly purchased house to help with the renovations.

Being forced to stay on the sidelines during this project is maddening.

Fortunately, because Daniel is aware of my slight control freak nature, he sends me text messages with pictures attached whenever he is at the house. Cuz he's the best, that's why!

Last night, after work, he went to Home Depot to pick out the range hood – he’s the kitchen guy, so that decision is all his! Then he went to the house to clean.

Yes, we are aware there is massive rehab going on in our house and cleaning at this point is mostly futile, but there is one large bedroom where NOTHING is happening. Not one thing.

Sooooo, what we thought was that we could use this room to get a jump on moving. You know, haul over a handful of boxes every time we go over there so when we REALLY move (in ONE fucking month – AHH!), there won’t be as much to move. Good plan, right?

But we don’t want to pile a bunch of stuff in a room that is filthy and filled with ladybug carcasses, so Daniel cleaned it.

You should know that he’s a little obsessed with the hardwood floors in our house and is always researching the best ways to care for them, clean them, be one with them . . .etc. So he got this stuff at Home Depot specifically for hardwood floor rejuvenation and went at it.

And sent me a text message with this picture attached: Look at the shine!


He also sent me a picture of our brand new HVAC unit! Woo hoo!

In case you hadn't noticed, the camera on his phone is not a high quality piece of photographic equipment. Here's another picture of our new HVAC unit taken by our contractor with his camera phone.

Daniel also showed me that our contractor had picked up our new bathroom sinks and vanities. Yay!

And also that there was some curious tile in the kitchen that neither one of us knew anything about. Hmmmm... Will have to ask contractor about mystery tile.

Even though I can't be there, Daniel is making sure I get to share in the exciting renovation process via text messages and pics - slightly fuzzy, out-of-focus pictures, but pictures nonetheless. Cuz he's the best, that's why!



Our house is going through a transformation, a metamorphosis. And it's cool to witness the stages. Last week, our contractors gutted, GUTTED, our master bathroom and framed it out.

They also cleaned out our crawlspace and remediated the mold down there. They ripped out the old HVAC unit and cleaned (and replaced where necessary) the duct work all throughout the house. They removed the old kitchen applicances and took up the sub-flooring in the kitchen.

And they are making a royal mess of the place. Our little house is in its "ugly phase".

Daniel removed wallpaper in the kitchen this weekend along with the tack strips in the basement. Tack strips that were nailed INTO the concrete. Good times.

And the yard... Uh. I don't even want to talk about the yard. We've had non-stop rain for the past 5 days (seriously) and our yard is now officially a jungle. And we do not have a mower. And it is low on our list of priorities. So, we'll just have to live in a jungle for a while.


Biological Inequality

I need to start this post off by affirming that I am a feminist in every sense of the word. And while I realize the personal meaning of the word “feminist” can vary widely from individual to individual, I generally assume that when one claims a feminist stance, they believe fundamentally in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

In college, my feminist student organization would have a bake sale every year to 1.) raise funds for a local women's shelter and 2.) raise awareness on the discrepancy of pay between males and females. So, if we were selling a dozen cookies for a dollar to men, women would only be charged 80 cents (or whatever the average difference was at that time) for the same dozen cookies to help illustrate the disparity. Of course, we got a lot of flack for this little stunt every year (in addition to our many other awareness raising activities on campus), not only from men, but from women as well.

And I always wondered how people couldn’t or wouldn’t see the simplicity of the situation. Equal Pay for Equal Work! How hard of a concept is that!? Why should equally qualified and talented women be paid any less for doing the same exact work as a man? It seemed like a no-brainer.

Fast forward 11 or 12 years.

I work in a male dominated professional field. And although I am aware of it, I don’t typically think much of it. There are certainly more female architects today than there were 20 years ago, and in my personal experience, the blatant prejudices you encounter as a female architect are few and far between. In my office, we are asked not to discuss our salaries with our co-workers, so I have no idea what the compensation comparison is for women and men in my office, but I have no reason to believe there is any gender discrimination going on.

In my firm of 28 architects, 4 of us are women.

Last Friday, one of those women was put on bed rest for the next 6 weeks (or until she goes into delivery). This woman is the project coordinator on the project that I’m working on. The same project that is on a fast track schedule to begin with and recently had an entire month cut out of the timeline in order to meet the CON deadline. The same project that is already causing me to spend less time at my new house and more time in my office.

Believe it or not, this one inconveniently timed bed rest thing, puts a strain on nearly our entire office. Part of it is simply bad timing. Nevertheless, people have to be shuffled, gaps have to be filled, extra hours have to be put in, all because one woman chose to procreate. On top of that, as project coordinator, she was in a position of responsibility and leadership. She has critical information about the project that few other people have. And now she is suddenly and unexpectedly gone.

Okay, so our lead architect on the project, a male, could've been hit by a car last week and put in the hospital to recover for 6 weeks and we'd be in a similar situation.

But here's the thing, when an employer hires a woman, there is a high risk involved that she will get pregnant (a higher risk than a man getting hit by a car). From the employer's perspective, nothing good can come of this. First, there's the chance that there will be complications and she will be put on bed rest (check!). Then, she is legally allowed to take up to four months off of work after the birth of her child while her position remains empty and open until her return. Then, if she decides to be a stay-at-home mother instead of returning to the work force, the company has lost a valuable employee in whom they've invested a lot of time and money. And, even if she does decide to return to work after having a baby, she is inevitably going to require special allowances. She will most likely be taking time off more frequently because no longer will her career be her first priority. Working the late hours that is often necessary in our line of work, will no longer be an option for her.

This boogers things up mightily.

And yes, I realize we did not choose to be the sole child-bearers on the planet, but we are. And yes, I realize that some men take paternity leave, but it's not nearly as common as maternity leave. And it's even less common for a man to quit his job after the birth of his child. And unheard of for a man to take time out of his work day to pump breast milk.

So, it kinda sucks for women in fields of work that are not "mother-friendly". Unless you are a sole practitioner, architects rarely are able to work from home. We are brought up in a "studio culture" and it is a firmly ingrained tradition from which few are able to deviate. Architects also do not "job share" or work part time hours. The nature of the work simply doesn't allow that kind of convenience.

So, it's understandable that employers in such fields have to take the child-bearing risk into consideration. Women, while equal in talent and dedication to men, become a greater liability if/when they decide to have a kid.

It's completely plausible that when the next big project comes around, and the partners are looking to put a design team together, they think twice about putting someone like me in a position of leadership and responsibility. Someone who is 33 (a year younger than my co-worker who is now on bed-rest), and about to get married. Even if I get paid the same as the men in my office, opportunities for advancement may be fewer, because consciously or unconsciously, I am considered a liability due to my functioning uterus.

While I want it to be as simple as Equal Pay for Equal Work, I fear the female reproductive ability is the monkey wrench in that equation.