Sunday, July 15, 2012

Cheney Update

Things at the Cheney Cottage continue to move forward. We are meeting PG&E at the house on Tuesday, and the power will finally - FINALLY - be connected. So the ugly temporary power pole in the front yard will go away, and we won't have to run extension cords across the dirt to bring power to the house. We'll actually be able to turn on the lights in the house and leave the porch light burning.

Once the power pole is gone, we can start thinking about landscaping the front yard. Our neighbor on Parker Street, Mark Nakahara, has been growing a japanese maple for us that is the seedling of our 60 year old tree. Soon we'll tae it over to 62nd Street and make it the centerpiece of the new front yard.

I spent much of the weekend finally building the back steps on the Cheney Cottage. After figuring out the rise and run, I determined the number of treads and risers, and the lengths of each. Then Tom and I cut the stringers out of 2x12s, and I attached them to the porch.

Once this was done, I wanted to put some temporary steps in place, just so we could use them but not have to buy the wood for the finished steps. I remembered that we had saved a short run of stairs from the back of the Delaney House, from when the stairs were inside, so I pulled them off the woodpile. In an amazing coincidence, the rise and run of the stairs was EXACTLY the same as the steps I had just built - even the same number of stairs. The stringers on these stairs were in poor shape, but the treads and risers are still usable, so we took them off the old steps, and I attached them to the new stringers.

We also had some shades made for the four upstairs windows of the Cheney Cottage. When I finish the curtains for the first floor, it should make the house look more lived in - especially with the power pole gone from the front yard.

Hilary is set to start grading and digging the trenches for the water, sewer, electrical and gas, and so then the plumbers can start running the waste lines out to the street. We started working on the interior plumbing again, and once we have the water line to the house, we should be able to easily run water to the bathrooms, the kitchen and the laundry. Power and water - it feels like a miracle.

We're going to have the plasterer come in early August, so we expect to have the house appearing pretty finished after that. We'll still have to shellac the woodwork and refinish the floors, but most of the rooms will soon be completed. Then all that is left is hooking up the heating system and insulating the attic, and then pouring all the concrete walkways outside.

We've been meeting more of the neighbors, including Jim and Patrick, a gay couple who live across the street, and Franklin and Darnis, who own the pink apartment building next door. Darnis told us that her father had built the 7-unit building in 1962, and it's been in her family ever since. Patrick bought his house in 1982 - it's a neighborhood with a lot of long term families. And Franklin told us a sad story, that an older woman who lived in one of the apartments was found dead there yesterday - she had been in declining health, but had had no family and died there alone.

Everyone we meet is encouraging about our work, telling us how happy they all are to see the progress and to think that there will soon be people living there. Except for the squatter, and the brief time that our son Elliott was there, no one has actually lived in the Delaney House since 1990. And no one has lived in the Cheney Cottage since the 1940s or 50s - it was used as University offices for the second half of the 20th Century. Having families in there will be a big change for both houses.

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