Saturday, March 6, 2010

Got Mail?

The Delaney House and the Cheney Cottage both suffer from neglect, deferred maintenance, and lack of color.

The Delaney House was last painted 20 years ago or more, and it was painted white. The only spot of color is the light green used on the window sashes - the rest of it is white. The Cheney Cottage is solid grey, with some white on the windows - it hasn't been painted in years.

So Tom and I both feel that both houses need color. We've been looking at colors for the houses, and we plan to paint them both so their details really show, and so they show off their architecture.  The Cheney Cottage will get a light body color, with the timbers painted a darker color to show off all the millwork.  The Delaney House is going bold, with "Painted Lady" paint colors.

But even without painting the exteriors, we want to start adding color back into the houses. So today, we started right at the sidewalk, when we installed a red mailbox with gold lettering.
It's a small detail - but significant, not only to us but to the 62nd Street neighbors.  The color of the mailbox makes a bright spot in what is still a drab site.  But also, with the high chain link fence locked around the site, no mail has been delivered there in 20 years.  Having a mailbox is yet another sign that the house is returning to life, and that people are in it and caring for it.  I watched out the front window and saw neighbors walking past, noticing the mailbox and smiling.

Today was also a banner day in that I finished installing all the new copper pipe.  The Delaney House now has a hot water heater (though the gas line has not yet been hooked up, so it's not heating anything), and water to all the fixtures. By tomorrow, we hope to have hot and cold running water - a miracle.

Sweating pipe is a lot of work, and it can be fun.  But I've noticed that, as my vision deteriorates, I tend to burn myself more and more.  I have to get closer to the work to see what I'm doing , to make sure I'm really getting the joints soldered.  As a result, when the hot solder drips, I tend to be close by.  I managed to give my self a nasty burn on my right ring finger when a big blob of solder dripped right onto it from a newly soldered joint.  I also dripped solder onto my feet, arm and crotch (fortunately, we're not restoring the house while naked, so I was uninjured).

Tomorrow, Tom will be screwing plaster washers in to the walls to stabilize the plaster, and then patching the walls and ceilings.  I'll work on getting the gas hooked up,. so we can have the hot water heater on and can also hook up a stove.  There is some more wiring to do (the bathroom still has no light or outlet, and I'd like to put some lights on the back of the house to illuminate the yard), and the floors still need refinishing.  But the house is quickly becoming habitable - and soon it will be inhabited, when Elliott moves in.


  1. You get extra points if the feet-arm-crotch injury was a single bank shot of bouncing, splattering solder. Bank shot = money shot?

  2. Luckily, California no longer has laws prohibiting soldermy

  3. Soldermy? Why I oughta!!
    It reminds me of this awful new ad campaign by Axe Body Spray where a guy on a motorcycle does a back flip while spraying various body parts with Axe. The move is called "double pits to chesty" and they actually bothered to set up a website, What's your move called, Dmitri? Phalanges to Privates? Delaney Dismemberment? Sterilization by Solder? Golden State Gelding? Crawl-space Castration? That's enough. It's starting to sound like a fetish.
    I'm just catching up on the blog and trying to digest it all. Where did you learn these manly arts, like sweating pipes? And did you say that Berkeley has a "tool library"? Not only am I reading about the soldered body parts, but also the scraped scalp and barked knuckles etc. As Roseanne Rosannadanna would say, "Gee, Mr Belser, You sound like a real attractive guy". Be careful, would ya!!
    Good luck with the accelerated moving schedule. I'd suggest watching the movie "Up" to see if you get any ideas.
    In closing, I just wanted to say, a la Hannibal Lecter "Love your mailbox". If you missed that reference, you can listen to the original:

    Carry on, boys. Arsenic and Old Ricky