Thursday, January 11, 2018

Step 3: Remove the ugly/dangerous/dirty things from the ceilings.

It had not previously occurred to me that there were so many ugly/dangerous/dirty things that could be on ceilings. I think I'd imagined that anything dirty would fall down from the top of the room, rendering the floor filthy, but somehow leaving the ceiling pristine. Not so. The original ceilings in our place are bead board - planks of wood with rounded edges and a groove in the middle such that it looks like twice as many smaller boards. On top of the [undoubtedly lead based] paint on these gems was a layer of wallpaper (likely with asbestos), and then eight inches of cobwebs and random wires and extension cords, and then a drop ceiling. As those things have come down, we've only found one hole in the ceiling, and it's small. 

Work-life has been busy, so this step has been almost entirely conducted without me present, but still consulting on the phone and demanding constant photos of the progress. Here's how things are looking:

The bedroom with the drop ceiling tiles removed, but with the frame still up and the wallpaper underneath. It almost looks like a geometric pattern, but it's really just water damage...

The ceiling revealed, including a small hole...
The bedroom in its current glory. This time it's the air scrubber sitting jauntily by the fireplace. You can particularly appreciate in this photo that the white paint on the walls stops where the drop ceiling was placed. It now gives this wild edging effect wherein there is white paint, and then about six inches of unpainted faux-wood paneling, then a gap with crazy looking wallpaper, then the picture molding, then the ceiling. Somehow beyond shabby chic...

The living room ceiling is the same material, but a slightly different color of blue-gray. Also, there is still peel-and-stick linoleum in there. I think the previous residents kept the linoleum company in business. There are miles of it...

Overall the bead board is in good shape, and it's beautiful. Once it's scraped and repainted (with lead-safe masks, mom, really) it will be restored to it's former glory. 

I'll leave you with a funny list of how this move has altered my search history in my phone seemingly irrevocably. When I type the word "Durham" into Google, it prompts me for the following items:

In fairness, I did once Google the toilet rebate program after seeing an ad for it on a television in a lunch place. Only in recent weeks have I heard "Do you need a more water efficient toilet?" on a television and thought, "Why yes, I do!"

Friday, December 22, 2017

Step 2: Connect the top and the bottom floors

When the house was built, it was used as a rooming house. Judging from the holes and patches in the walls, it seems that at some point it may have been configured as a duplex. Most recently it was set up as two separate apartments, a larger one on the first floor and a smaller on the second floor. In order to achieve this, the stairwell in the middle of the house was boarded up. There were a series of two-by-fours, two-by-eights, and two-by-unclear-slightly-larger-amounts which were nailed to a frame of two-by-fours, and then plywood was nailed over the whole thing. The general approach to building this separation seems to have been that more and larger nails were better - no need for screws or other building materials that are easily removed. 

The first of the plywood comes up. As an aside, we don't have any lights upstairs right now, so this stunning photo shoot lighting is from a phone and the crack in the "floorboards". 

Lynn uses the sledgehammer to remove another board. She's kneeling on a weird long step/platform that was also built in, presumably for some security purpose I cannot fathom. 

The stairwell revealed!

Completely connected!

I'll have to make a point tomorrow of taking a picture of the sawed-off banister that is hot glued into the wall. 

Step 1: Remove the ugly/dangerous/dirty things from the floors.

There are so many ways to define the beginning of adulthood. Those of us who are still trainees in our 30's tend to spend a lot of time justifying that we transitioned to being "real adults" when we graduate from college, started supporting ourselves and our scholarly endeavors, moved away, became a "real doctor," or completed all of the training necessary for licensure and board certification. I will stand by my insistence in all of these milestones as markers of a truly adult existence, but will qualify that by staying that I've come to believe that there is not really a firm threshold to cross from young person to adult. 

And then we bought a house. As a milestone, it's out of reach for so many that adulthood certainly can't be predicated on home ownership. In the setting of the recent financial crisis, frankly, it seems imprudent to even suggest that signing for a mortgage is a right of passage. Nonetheless, I don't know that I've ever felt more like an adult than when we sat and, rather anticlimactically I might add, signed on the dotted lines and received the keys to our new home. 

As soon as the deed was registered, we started on the massive project that I anticipate chronicling here: restoring a 1933 gem to it's previous glory. There are layers of tile and carpet over the hardwood floors. The paint on the door frames and baseboards is so thick that they appear rounded in places, and there is certainly lead in the deeper layers. There are likely asbestos-filled wallpaper and tiles in many rooms, and although less medically ill-advised, the decor choices in most of the rooms were not good. 

Step 1: Remove the ugly/dangerous/dirty things from the floors. 

 Distressing carpet gives way to bright green carpet pad, which is stapled to thin wood paneling over the original hardwood floors. Oh, and some of what were supposed to be delicate nails holding the tack strip around the edges are actually 2.5" carpentry nails. 

 The first real glimpse of the hardwood floors. 

The shop vac poses jauntily with the fully uncovered hardwood floors. 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Down dog, a meditative cat, and a mystery

I'm truly settling in to fellowship life! Leading indicators:

1. I have been able to make progress reading a novel in more than 0.5-1 page increments before I fall asleep.  I've been reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I highly recommend it.

2. I've started getting back into yoga. I'm not yet back to my Ashtanga life, but I've been using this app called Down Dog that will put together a series of poses that actually make sense for almost any time interval. The dog generally sleeps through any yoga in the morning, but the cat is very keen on joining me.

3. I completed my 50 mile bike ride, and learned of an amazing mid- or post-ride snack: a spoon full of peanut butter rolled in a mixture of M&Ms, mini peanut butter cups, and pretzel bits. This was quite possibly the highlight of a rather rainy and gray ride. The sunniest bit is shown below. I have also made a new cycling friend in the triangle, and I've got plans for more rides in the coming weeks. 

We took Walter to the ocean after my ride, even though it was a rainy and gray.

And finally, unrelated to my progress toward normalcy, there is a mystery involving Clyde. He had been thriving, and even had leaves that looked variegated in color like his old self. Then, one day last week he abruptly lost all of them. We hadn't had rain in a bit, and I'm not amazing with the watering can, but I really don't think that I would have offed him that quickly. I'm pretty sure that some creature ate the stems, because I saw one laying in all of it's green and purple glory next to the pot. I'm starting again from scratch, and hoping that he can make another comeback. 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

First training ride, and a Clyde update

Today was my first official training ride for Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach! I rode a little over 10 miles, exploring some of the parts of Chapel Hill that I haven't seen before. Turns out the UNC golf course is fancy... and to put the hills in perspective, on my usual little 14 mile loop around San Francisco I would gain approximately 1,600 ft of elevation, whereas my 10 mile loop today was just shy of 500 ft. Despite the grade not even approaching that of San Francisco, I am out of shape enough to shift down significantly and pant my way up even the little ones around here!

And in case you were hoping for a reminder, here it is: Click here to help to meet my fundraising goal of $1000! Thank you so incredibly much to those of you who have donated already.

There are a bunch of lush bike paths all over Chapel Hill. Here's one I hit on my ride this morning.

In addition to doing my part to get to a world free of MS, I'm also contributing to the beautiful greenery that defines the North Carolina summer landscape! Here is my most recent photo of Clyde, who has really been flourishing in the rain. He even has some of the darker color in his leaves now!

Still not quite filling the pot, but looking more like a normal plant every day.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Third time's the charm

Two years ago, I joined The Best Team. Period. I became a part of Team Menstrual Cycles, an incredible group of cyclists that includes not only many OB/GYNs, but also a number of lovely folks riding with MS. I got a bike jersey featuring a uterus riding a bicycle. Together, we rode in the Bike MS: Waves to Wine ride in California and raised tons of money to fight MS. This year, for my third annual Bike MS ride, I'm riding as a member at large!

It's clear that moving across the country, taking boards, starting fellowship, and dealing with all of the roadblocks life throws up along the way have left me terribly out of shape. I got on my bike the other evening and panted through a 7.5 mile ride through the UNC campus... This is not how I left things after the back-to-back centuries last fall. Nonetheless, I'm committed to riding 50 miles on October 7 in the Bike MS: Breakaway to the Beach ride on the coast of my new state of North Carolina. It looks like some of the routes even dip into South Carolina, although the final details are not yet posted. I look forward the beautiful landscapes I'll see on my training rides and the day of the event!

My goal is to raise $1000 for MS research and support by October 7. While I train, you donate! Even more than wanting to train enough to breezily blow through the finish line on the day of the ride, I want to breezily blow through my fundraising goal! Every little bit helps, and if today isn't the right day for you, do me a favor and pass this along to a friend or family member.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Clyde: An Allegory?

I have had a plant named Clyde for over a decade. He was a gift from my mother, and is a cutting of a plant given to her at his namesake's (my grandfather's) funeral. I think we all like the idea of his memorial living on, embarking on transcontinental travel, and botanically connecting the entire family.

What I should have, but did not anticipate when I first assumed care of a Clyde plant, was that I would inevitably kill one through a combination of neglect and drought. Horticulture has not been my primary focus at any point in my life, and if memory serves, at some point in medical school or graduate school I had to obtain another cutting from my mother and vowed to be more careful. Unfortunately, Clyde proved no match for the Midwestern summer sun through the rear windshield of the car we drove from Michigan to San Francisco. I felt terrible as I looked at the hard, baked dirt and shriveled brown stems and roots of my previously beautiful plant. Suffice it to say I was able to move on, and my mother dutifully provided me with another cutting to cultivate. I think Clyde traveled by USPS in a plastic baggy.

Throughout residency Clyde always seemed on the edge of perishing. My erstwhile watering patterns were sufficient for my succulents, but in no way resembled the summer rains in Michigan. He was reduced to just a few leaves that wavered from green to brown over the course of four years. Despite this, Clyde survived, and was loaded into the car for yet another long drive. Suffice it to say that if the summer heat across Wyoming was a bit daunting four years ago, the Mojave was a whole new level of hot. Clyde baked in the sun even inside his protective cardboard box, wilting to almost nothing.

When we unpacked the car, I placed Clyde's pot on the back porch, a sad memorial to a nice memorial. I informed my mother that I might be in need of yet another cutting. Still holding out a small amount of hope, I watered the sad, brown, exposed roots and stems in the pot, and allowed the North Carolina rain to soak the soil in a minimally draining pot that was never really meant for plants. Much to my surprise, Clyde is coming back!

Clyde shows an tiny sign of life...

The little leaves grow...

Starting to look like a real plant again!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

And now for something completely different

I've been her in North Carolina for almost a month now, and life is so different from San Francisco. Here is a little table I've prepared to illustrate just how different it is (click to enlarge):

You can appreciate that fellowship is objectively, quantitatively better than residency, despite the steamy weather that heats up early, and that many aspects of living in Chapel Hill are amazing. I miss some of the food options (read: State Bird Provisions and Uji Time Desserts) that were close and delicious in San Francisco, but there are tasty things here that we're discovering every day (like The Root Cellar, which is literally right outside our side door).

Walter does not enjoy the heat. He is, however, loving having more rooms in which to lounge and a guest bed to sleep on during the day. Here

he is recovering from a long walk in the heat, and drinking from a twirly straw:

Just kidding, he cannot drink from a straw. I just posed him like this in solidarity with a friend who was limited to liquids for a bit. 

Good by to the slogan "Brown is the new green!" that was all over municipal green space in San Francisco during the drought. Here in North Carolina freeway rest stops are beautiful!

The view from the passenger's seat on our drive in.