Ahoy there, mateys!

Please insert the usual excuses about my absence here. I’m terribly sorry to have been such a tease. Sadly, it won’t be the last time.

In the past four months I have:

Created one curtain for the living roomImage

Don’t mind the bookcase detritus on the window seat. There was room rearranging going on. If I only showed you perfect pictures, I wouldn’t show any pictures at all.¬† Curtain two is in progress. ūüôā I have cut and pinned panels for Craftopia, but that hasn’t been done yet.

I’ve welcomed several roommates to Elephant Culo, all of whom have been wonderful in their own ways. L has left for Chicago, J for Atlanta, but K is here until July. She has been a delight to live with – so laid back! – and has shared lots of Danish treats with me. I will really miss her when she goes back to Copenhagen in July, but something tells me she’ll be ready to get back home after a few weeks in the Carolina summer.¬† She’s staying in this room.¬† It’s not finished, of course, but it’s cozy.


The dogs have been doing a lot of work, supervising.


I’ve been quite busy in the garden, working on getting what passes for beds in the front yard blooming. We’ll get to weeding on another day. I have made a compost bin out of pallets and a pergola (well, the pergola is not quite finished, pics to follow eventually).


No picture, it seems, is complete if Goose isn’t in it. I had to go through a lot of shots to find the blurry awful low light one with Maverick, above, but I didn’t want him to feel left out.¬† Sibling rivalry and all, you know.¬† Lots of plans for this big old space, lots of work to do. K and I have enjoyed lighting a fire and relaxing in the spring evenings.


The photo is from a cell phone in low light, so that’s the quality explanation. You can see the ball fields in the background, and get an idea of why I am interested in planted a little bit of a hedge for privacy.¬† All in good time, right?¬† Ciao for now!


2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

LIttle by Little

My computers are busted.  Yes, computers, plural.  Five years ago, at the end of law school, I splurged and bought a MacBook.  It was so lovely, so fine.  It made me feel woozy because of its aesthetic delights.

It was not to last.¬† I am hard on the things I own.¬† This is not so good when it comes to computers, especially expensive to purchase and repair computers.¬† *I am why I can’t have nice things.*¬† After going through one hard drive, one power cord, and one battery, I’m done putting money into the MacBook.¬† Its battery no longer holds a charge and I get the spinning wheel of death all the time when I try to browse the intertubes.¬† Truth be told, I gave up on the MacBook a while ago, and my friend loaned me an old Compaq laptop she didn’t use.

The Compaq served me well for many moons, but now the port where the ac adaptor gets plugged in is broken.¬† That is a little spot that often breaks in PC laptops (but not on Macs because of their fancy little magnet ac adaptor things), and it’s pricey to fix.¬† Luckily, my friend isn’t mad that the computer has been broken – it’s actually had a long and happy life.¬† At some point, I will try to get it fixed, if only to rescue the pictures that are trapped on it.¬† Sadface.¬† Until then, I am borrowing my work computer to get some personal writing done.¬† Shhhh, don’t tell my boss.¬† I’d much rather be spending my money on Elephant Culo than on replacing a laptop, but I think I will get a Chromebook and make do with that as long as I can.

Phew.¬† All of that said, my sweet mom made the curtains for my kitchen!¬† Between the computer debacle and discovering that the camera I couldn’t find is actually broken, I *still* don’t have great pictures to show you.¬† But it has been far too long, so, without further ado, I present to you crappy pictures of an untidy but cheerful Elephant Culo kitchen.


Above is from the living room.¬† That bookcase was a gift from a friend who is moving, and I stinking LOVE it.¬† Seriously. Love. It.¬† You can’t see it here, but it sits on a metal frame, so it’s not as bulky as a piece that went to the floor would be.¬† My favorite lamp is plopped on top of it.¬† I used to have two of those lamps.¬† My mom gave them to me as a gift after I saw them on a Young House Love Target shopping post and fell in love with them.¬† Sadly, when I was moving, one of the lamps was broken.¬† R.I.P. Target lamp.¬† But now I can feature the one that was left.¬† And this shot features something else – my tools all over the kitchen table.¬† #reallife


I just hung up matching cafe curtains over the sink.  They are adorable.  I will take a picture soon, promise.

Now that I’ve lived here for a month, I’m recognizing other things I’d like to change.¬† In the kitchen, there is a flush mount boob light (you know what I mean when I say boob light, right?) that has got to go.¬† Initially, I wanted it to go because it’s a f’ugly brass boob light.¬† Now I want it to go because it only has one 75 watt bulb in it, and it’s maxed out.¬† What a pitiful light fixture.¬† It’s a dim-watt, as my mom would say, and I’m putting it on notice.

There is also a corner of the cabinets between the dishwasher and the kitchen sink that is pretty much unusable.¬† There is a skinny door, and it allows me to get to the shelf directly behind it, but there is about a two foot by two foot area that is unreachable.¬† I’d like to go on the outside of the cabinets – the breakfast nook side – and add a door over there.¬† WILD right?


My last post sounded a little crazy because I was feeling a little crazy. ¬†The last week has been the first time I have felt the panic and frustration that other homeowners, and other home renovators, grimaced and warned me about when I gleefully shared my news. ¬†That’s a major buzzkill, by the way, people. ¬†And not a lick of that panic or frustration has been due to my general contractor or the homebuying process. ¬†Nope. ¬†It’s been due to working with the mortgage servicer on getting the money I have borrowed in hand to actually pay people.

Big banks suck a giant bag of dicks.  Who knew?

It didn’t help matters any that I have been dedicating a ton of time to the president’s reelection campaign. ¬†I can do work as a lawyer that other volunteers can’t do, really important work that protects the fundamental right of people to vote, and I believe that because I can do that work, I should. ¬†If not me, then who? ¬†So I’ve been working on protecting the polls during NC’s early voting. ¬†That’s time consuming.

It also doesn’t help the stress level that I had a couple of deadlines at work. ¬†Work, yes, work, that wonderful thing that makes the home ownership dream a reality! ¬†Well that and a generous gift from my folks. ¬†Right. ¬†Got that deadline going on, too, and then, post-deadline, the fallout. ¬†You know, the fallout, right? ¬†Where you open your eyes and see everything you’ve been ignoring for the last month while you focused on your deadline? ¬†That fallout. ¬†Scary.

Also?  Something I ate gave me stomach woes.

Also?  The heat broke at my current house, leaving me to sleep in a chilly 45 degree abode.  But the heat is fixed and I have held down all of my meals for two days now.

We are also past the time when I thought for sure I’d be moved in, but I digress. ¬†Here is something happy:

Is that a good looking dumpster, or is that a good looking dumpster?  It is filled with padding and carpet from the living and dining rooms.  Good riddance, darlings!

Future flooring in the kitchen, mud, and bath rooms. ¬†The best thing I can say about any vinyl flooring is that it is not offensive. ¬†The second best thing I can say about it is that it fits my budget! ¬†I’m so glad to have found so much square footage at such a great price inside the beltline, but it has stretched my budget.

The gritty subfloor with old adhesive on it is a huge improvement over what was here before.  Trust me on this one.

I am not done installing the drawer pulls and knobs in the kitchen. ¬†I meant to be done, and I meant to have a picture of it for you, but I’m not. For some reason, two of the drawers had no pulls before, and I wanted to make a template for those drawers before diving in with my drill. ¬†I know, such caution is unlike me. ¬†I did take this terrible picture of my red pendant light installed, though. ¬†She’s pretty, non?

This picture is Steve’s punishment for cracking wise about drywall. ūüôā

Also, the great master bath leak of 2012 reared its ugly head last week, leaking again when the water that leaked out of the shower pan the last time we tested it finally soaked through the insulation and drywall and made its way out of the ceiling. ¬†Steve, on how easy it was to poke through the drywall: ¬†“Drywall should NOT do that.” ¬†Oh really? ¬†Thanks for that! ¬†the shower pan and the tiles over it have all been removed and will be replaced and done correctly tomorrow. ¬†Matching tiles is darn near impossible, so I picked a contrasting tile for the bottom course of the shower. ¬†Hopefully it won’t look too strange. ¬†Long down the list of things I’d like to do to this house is ripping out the wall between the toilet and the shower in the master bath and replacing it with glass. ¬†It would buy about 5″ of elbow room inside the shower, make for a much bigger looking bath, and take that bath right into the modern era. ¬†Someday. ¬†ūüôā

To come: carpet! A second inspection. ¬†Appliances. Moving. ¬†And . . . drum roll please . . . new toilets! ¬†I have some wiggle room in my budget, and I am going to spend it on the world’s sexiest¬†upgrade: new shitters. ¬†The ones in the house were functional, but they were showing signs of rust. ¬†Apparently, at one point in time, the bolts used in turlets weren’t rust resistant, which doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense when you remember they sit in water. ¬†On of the toilet’s in my mom’s house just “exploded” — her word! — on her when a rusty bolt gave up the ghost. ¬†Visions of such an explosion were in my head when I asked if we could make new commodes a priority.

I really don’t think a verbose update could end any better than that. ¬†Four synonyms for crapper, whoops, five, and a laundry list of items. ¬†Done.

Tiny Steps

This week had more frustrations from, guess where, LoanTown! ¬†After a promising telephone call after 7 last Friday night from Chris the “draft processor” at M&T Bank, I thought getting the drafts (checks) for the renovation part of the loan was going to go smoothly.


Wrong! ¬†I get the happy trio together to do our first inspection, required for the draft request. ¬†That trio is yours truly, Steve the contractor, and Dan the HUD inspector. ¬†Dan and Steve have the work write-ups that were completed many moons ago, and submitted as part of the loan, and they check off everything that’s done. ¬†Somethings are only 95% done, so Dan says we only get 95% of the cost allotted. ¬†Then, on top of that, 10% of each line item is held back until the end. ¬†When all is said and done, over $15,000 worth of work has been completed – over half of the amount I borrowed for renovations.

Awesome, right? ¬†Well, sort of. ¬†Because I ask Chris the next day if he received the paperwork, and he says “Yes, but . . .” ¬†Guys, I don’t know about you, but I hate “Yes, but.” There is this apparent policy or rule or, I don’t know, bullshit, that if your draw is over 50%, the bank needs a second title search. ¬†Why? ¬†I don’t know. ¬†Ass-covering, probably. ¬†I don’t know how I’d manage to encumber this house further having taken out so much money between this mortgage and my student loans that my debt to income ration is officially a joke, so that must not be it. ¬†I guess they are worried about liens from contractors, but that too makes no sense because Steve signed a lien waiver and besides,¬†GIMME MY MONEY!

I wrote that in an email to Chris along with some of my favorite expletives (but not the f-bomb, because I do have some sense), a few ridiculous hyperboles, and the request that he not placate me or apologize. ¬†I tried to convey anger and hysteria. ¬†ūüėČ ¬†It worked – a little while later I got word that the check would be UPS’d to me. ¬†Oh, I also had to drop the whole, “I’m an attorney,” thing. ¬†I hate using that; I don’t think you should only provide good customer service based upon the threat of a lawsuit from an asshole attorney.

Anyhow, I have been on a spray painting kick!  I showed you the porch lights, now I have the house numbers done.  Before, the numbers were a really tarnished brass and they were offset and diagonally descending.  A very reliable source told me that is not good feng shui, and we cannot have that.

I bought a little placard at Ace at Seaboard Station. ¬†When I’m done and moved in, I owe half of their staff a beer. ¬†Today they let me in when they were closed because I knew I just wanted to by a wire stripper and I would pay with a debit card. ¬†They are darlings and I love them. ¬†Anyway, I painted my little sign with the same exterior paint I used on the front door. I spray painted the brass – sacrilege, I know! ¬†But I’m not a fan of brass, and I am a fan of reusing what I have. ¬†I measured and measured and leveled and then drilled pilot holes for the numbers – they have holes top and bottom. ¬†Then I realized I didn’t have the right sized screws for them at home – I have no idea what I did with the screws that were in them. ¬†Oh wait, yes I do. ¬†They were corroded so I tossed them. ¬†Quick trip to Lowes to see George, my favorite cashier, and I was home with the proper screws. ¬†I added some wire to the back to hang it. ¬†I used the pre-existing concrete anchors on the facade of the house, popped in a screw, et voila! ¬†Happy little house numbers.

I have to finish up the mailbox tomorrow. ¬†I have no idea what would happen if it weren’t back up on Monday, but I feel like I’d get a ticket from the mail man. ¬†I need to sand the first coat of paint a bit and do a second on the top of the box before I hang it up again. ¬†I made an executive decision, because I am the boss of this house, to take the little newspaper hanger thingermajiggers off of the box. ¬†They pop right off. ¬†Why do we still have those things around? ¬†The paper gets thrown on the driveway, not delicately placed under the mailbox. ¬†That’s so last century.

First Inspection: Done

Daniel Lee the HUD Consultant (more on what that is here) was already at Elephant Culo by the time I pulled up this afternoon.  He had his original report with him and was just checking things off.  By the time Steve my GC showed up (on time, Daniel was a little early and I was way early), all Dan needed was to double check his list of what was done.

  • GCFI outlets in kitchen and baths
  • Interior painted (will be touched up after the floors are installed)
  • HVAC installed (inspection tomorrow!)
  • Kitchen pendant light installed
  • Cabinetry removed and trim fixed in the kitchen
  • Roof replaced
  • Gable vents replaced
  • Window trim wrapped in vinyl
  • Roof fascia replaced and painted

That’s a good looking list, right?¬† Yay!¬† I had to sign one form and Steve had to sign two forms.¬† Now Dan sends a report to Chris at M & T.¬† I’m sure Chris will then generate another report, possibly a TPS report, and then so long as this is done by 12:30 tomorrow afternoon, the check-cutting people at M&T will UPS a check to me.¬† The check will be addressed to Steve and I, just as a way to provide a final balance in the system.¬† Then Steve can pay some people!

Highlights to look for in the coming days:

  • Hanging my upholstered door headboard on the wall in the master bedroom – I tried to take photos of this, project and they arehorrible!
  • HVAC inspection
  • Plumber to replace the shower pan in the master bath and fix the sewer connection pipe under the house (that seems like a big deal, doesn’t it?)
  • Vinyl installation
  • Carpet installation
  • Touch up painting
  • Appliances coming for the kitchen and laundry
  • Installing cabinet hardware in the kitchen
  • Finishing the installation of the pedestal sink
  • Finishing tearing out that horrible no good very bad wall paper in the half bathroom

I’m exhausted just thinking about it, and I’m not even doing most of the work.¬† Oh, and I have a brief due in the NC Supreme Court on my birthday next week, and I’m packing, and I’m moving.

I got this.  Can someone get me a diet Coke?

Feeling good (and a little impatient)

After a long month of being assured my loan transfer was being pushed to the top of the pile, and that it was a priority, it was finally officially bought by M&T bank last week. ¬†I was really pleased to get a phone call Friday night at 7 in the evening from the associate who will be helping me get my money. ¬†Woohoo for people working late. ¬†Also, a brief shout out to my babysitting charge for that evening, who mercifully talked to his Blue’s Clues dog while I was on the phone. ¬†ūüôā

I got my first water bill for the new house.  How about a $50 deposit, refundable after six months, plus a $50 fee just for turning the water on?  Dang!  Looking forward to that refunded deposit, though.  That will be nice six months from now.

My first electric bill for the new house came, too. ¬†Progress Energy’s website is smart enough to realize that the SJF with an account on Dennis is also the SJF with an account on Lions Way, so I didn’t have to do anything fancy to get that account all set up for electronic payments. ¬†I was impressed. ¬†I bet I lose all of that easy-breezy functionality when the merger with big-bad-no-good-dirty-rotten-scoundrel Duke Energy is completed.

My old house is a MESS. ¬†I mean, I’m usually messy, but the level of chaos in here is not fun. ¬†Boxes everywhere, no where for guests to sit, and I just want to be done. ¬†I’m talking to TROSA moving this week, so I’ll have an idea of what that will cost . . . ¬†might be eating a lot of lentils and rice for the next few weeks!

Ooh! ¬†The mail did bring two fun things. ¬†The same lists that the scary insurance salespeople buy I guess can be bought by lots of other people, too. ¬†Jersey Mikes welcomed me to the ‘hood with a coupon for a free sub and Bed Bath & Beyond gave me a 20% off coupon. ¬†I’ll take it!