Friday, February 29, 2008

Because I know people are waiting now too...

The update, unfortunately, is that we still have no baby. :) We're still waiting, patiently. More as events warrant at this stage. Technically, we're two days "late" now. I'm just hoping for a weekend delivery now...and Gina is definitely hoping for a sooner-than-later delivery. I'm tired of waiting, she's tired of carrying.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The waiting game...

Still no baby...but it's not like we're late. Wednesday is the supposed due date. So we're OK. It's really just a waiting game there.

Also, no real developments in "Other People's Business" (the bungalow up on Nagle in the previous posts). I'm avoiding going and taking pictures as an excuse to use my fancy camera, because this blog is supposed to be about MY bungalow, not someone else's. :) Even though I know I'd have a relatively interested audience. Maybe I'll snap some pics, we'll's not THAT convenient for me, but maybe I'll make the effort.

Meanwhile, amidst waiting for the baby, we're trying to figure out when we can get the plumber out to fix the water pressure. So that's fun. More and more waiting! :)

The only real new development is that Gina and I went to H.D. today to buy some tools and look around. Bought a new hammer, a combo square, a mop, a corn straw broom, and a stiff wire brush. And some nightlights for the stairs.

I've been partially motivated to get back down to the basement, particularly since I've been slowly but surely figuring out Google SketchUp (motivated by Tiny Old House author Jennifer's post of a week ago). I've had SketchUp for a while now, and for whatever reason have had a devil of a time figuring it out (which is weird, because my brain works EXTREMELY spatially, so I should be able to have used it earlier).

Anyway, I decided it was probably time to start futzing around with ideas for the basement, given that we're going to be moving along more quickly, probably, than I'm lazily believing. So here's what I came up's pretty rough, and many of the details are lacking. Also, the sofa and loveseat are ENORMOUSLY too large, while the flat-panel TV is WAY too small. But it's just an idea...the bar is also not drawn in...that will go in front of the fish tank in the photo.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Phew! Kinda...

After some searching, I found their city's not a teardown, thankfully.


So now I'll have something to look at on my commute every day, and say either it's beautiful or it's totally ugly. I'll have to check some online architects too and see if I can find the plans. (Isn't it interesting, to some extent, that this stuff is public record? Who knew?).

Update: Even worse possibility...

I drove by the bungalow this morning and got a better look, because traffic backs up right there, and I believe my absolute worst fears came to a head: I think this is actually a TEARDOWN. I didn't sit there long enough to see or confirm it for sure, but it looked suspiciously like the back of the house had been torn out already. Hard to tell, but man, this will be even worse if they put up a whole new building or condos or some crap. More later, after I pass by again on the way home.

I don't know why, but this has virtually ruined part of my day. What does that mean? Does that mean I should be doing something else with my life? Really, it shouldn't be my business, and I'm not looking to make it my business, but what does this total disappointment mean? I can't figure it out...I shouldn't be affected by this as much as I feel I am, especially since I have no PERSONAL connection to the house. It'd be a different situation if, say, this were my former residence or my grandparents' house or something like that, but it's not. It's not even close to where I grew up and not very close to where I live now. So what gives?

UPDATE 7 p.m. Tuesday: Well, I drove by the house on the way home, went around the block and approached the house from the back. If it's not a teardown, it's a complete and total gut job. As best as I can see, there is nothing left inside, really, except the brick walls, the floors and a few support posts. However, the back is semi-closed off, so maybe, just maybe, this is a complete gut job. I'd almost rather see that than a teardown, even if it means an ugly-ass addition to the top and/or back. More as events warrant.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A bungalow scalped...

My daily commute takes me from the Northwest Side into the northern suburbs, and from where I am, I'm too far away from expressways to make them worthwhile. Though the traffic does keep me away too. So I take surface streets.

In the past, I've noticed a really cool five-home set of Chicago-style bungalows on the corner of Nagle and Palatine. There's nothing particularly special about them -- if you know anything about Chicago-style bungalows, they're very pretty, and this sort of "repetition" and "similarity" happens a lot, particularly in the city's Bungalow Belt.

Anyway, if you go to Google Maps and use the Street View function, you can see them. Well, today, I noticed, surprised, on the way home, that the corner house had the entire second floor (attic space) completely removed. It was basically the house was scalped. Now, I've seen pictures of this type of thing happening before on architectural sites and whatnot. But, to see a bungalow that you actually thought was kinda pretty-looking (at least outside--who knows what's going on inside) get just scalped with your own eyes, it was a bit on the jarring side.

I'm hoping against hope that this home will retain its bungalow flavor, especially for the simple sake of the fact that the five homes pretty much went together. Just like Chicago-style bungalows, several of them were carbon-copies, with subtle variations (see the gable roofs on each, for example). Together, they completed a beautiful picture. Furthermore, this is the corner house -- the focal point when coming from the north.

I'm hoping that this person is an HCBA member and has a real love for the Chicago-style bungalow and an appreciation for what his/her home means to the others next door. But I just have this sinking feeling that it won't be that way and some monstrosity of a top floor or addition or whatever is going to spring up on top of this thing. And, yes, this homeowner is obviously free to do whatever he/she wants, and who am I to judge, right?

But anytime I see a siding-clad, pathetic attempt at a second-floor addition or dormer, it saddens me ever so slightly. I really should have been an architect or an architectural historian or something along those lines. I'm sure most of you, who read this blog and have blogs along these lines would agree. I'm going to try to take pictures of this place some time, but given it's high-traffic, low parking-space location, I can't promise anything. And I'll be sure to post those pics if I get them.

For now, pray that my assumptions are wrong and that this place will only improve with whatever addition they're building.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Paying for my stubbornness, in a sense...

So, here in Chicago, we have this thing that many of you may not know about. Go here to read about it:

It's quite "controversial," in the sense of, people get beaten up over this, tires get slashed, cars get keyed, etc. I'm not kidding. It's serious stuff. If there's one thing you learn growing up as a Chicagoan, it's to not mess with someone's parking spot chairs in the winter.

Anyway, I personally don't REQUIRE parking directly in front of my house. I'm not so lazy I can't walk a couple houses over to get to/from my car. Helping the situation is that, really, at my end of the block, parking isn't bad at all. The only reason I'd want to park in front and have found it important lately is that, well, Gina's pregnant. However, even amidst the snowstorms this year, I've not put chairs or anything out (partially, too, because I really don't have "junk" I can put out there).

By the same token, I haven't dug out my spot either. I've just rolled my Equinox in and out of the spot -- compacting the snow and ice and creating some nice ruts to drive through.

Well, as I type this, I'm in pain. Today, I paid for not shoveling out some of the snow ahead of time. We had rains and rains and melting snow today, which created all sorts of standing water all up and down the street. Now, we weren't in danger of flooding the house, but all the standing water on the sidewalk makes for precarious walking. And with the temps about to plunge again, I didn't want all that ice on the walks.

So, I went and got my trusty metal garden spade and went at the solid, compacted ice in the street along the curb in order to create a channel about 40 feet long from my sidewalk to the street all the way down to the nearest sewer. I was out there chopping and shoveling away at the ice for probably a good 30-45 minutes. I accomplished my task, but realized that my hands and fingers had kind of seized up because of all the reverb, repetitive motion and being kept tightly in the same grip the entire time. Once I loosened them up a bit, it was better. But now, they're sore, even typing out this long message.

Parking "dibs" is interesting...and it's really a hit-or-miss proposition...on my block, for example, there aren't many folks who do it...yet, anyway. But you could go over a block and find everyone doing it, or no one. It's really a block-to-block thing.

Personally, I probably won't put anything out in the street, at least not at this time. Like I said, parking's still not bad, and people actually shovel their sidewalks here too, so you don't have to trudge through snow and ice to get to your car if it's a few doors down. And I don't mind if people put stuff out in front of their houses either. That's cool. But, I think next time, I'll try to shovel out a little bit of the street, to prevent my hands from being jackhammered once the ice is compacted and immovable. It'll save me some time, effort and hand-ache later.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

How's that BABY doin'...

No baby yet, but I did get my camera and started playing around with it. It's so much better than the point-and-shoot we have. Granted, we'll still use that in a pinch or "bad weather," but this Nikon D40 is just fantastic. Took a bunch of pictures, messing around and at my bro's birthday "party" at my parents' house. But here's a nice one of the outside of our house in the backyard at night, with no flash. Looks great compared to what the point-and-shoot might have done.

I also got the baby car seat base installed in 10 minutes, after hearing from a multitude of people that it's gonna take longer than you think. Yeah, whatever. They forget, I'm a DIY-er...I should be able to run a belt through a carseat base and latch it to the bench seat. It wasn't tough at all. Now, we just have to level the seat, once we get the truck on level ground, and we'll be all set.

Oh, and I discovered another, more recent date that would be a cool time to have the baby born. That would be this Wednesday, Feb. 20. There's gonna be a total lunar eclipse. I think it would be cool, in some weird cosmological way, to have a baby born during a total lunar eclipse. Plus, isn't the old wives' tale that full moons typically spur childbirth on? :) Whatever, hey, I'm a complete nerd, so sue me. :)

Finally, in case you thought we'd done nothing on the house...we had a plumber come in to check out our water-pressure situation, and he said he could help...we're just now waiting for a quote and a plan from him. Once that happens, we'll schedule it, and then maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to take simultaneous showers here...that would be nice! :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Almost there...

feb10 nursery 1
Originally uploaded by southsideandy
Well, we're 16 days from the baby's supposed due date, so it could be any day now. We've got a couple things left to do in the nursery, but here are some pictures of it during the day, since most of my pics have come at night. These pictures also have the benefit of Chicagoland's first day of sun in about one full week (seriously...that's not an exaggeration). Makes the room look much nicer, honestly.

Things will likely slow down on here for a few weeks after the baby is born -- just a warning. Those of you who are parents or have been I'm sure can understand (and are probably saying, "He doesn't even have a CLUE how quiet this blog will get!"). But I hope you'll all check in every now and then and see how things are going. The basement's half-demolished, there's plenty of painting and other remedies that need to be taken care of, and we'll have plenty to keep us busy with the house, aside from taking care of Baby.

As I go along, I'll be sure to keep this updated. Also, I'm getting a nice new camera Wednesday, so as I snap pics of the house/garden/yard/etc., I'll be sure to post them here. So, thanks all, for reading...and I hope you'll keep on reading, even when the posts get fewer and farther between at times. Or seem groggily written, at least. :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Snow for sale...

Send me $1, and I'll send you an envelope of snow. We've got more than enough to share.*
Your $1 will go toward paying off the new camera I just bought. That camera will bring even BETTER pictures to Building a Better Bungalow, assuming the photographer (me) has any talent.

*--Snow not guaranteed to stay frozen or not evaporate in transit.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Disappearing one...

So you're probably wondering where I've been. Or maybe not.

Well, in between shoveling out piles and piles of snow (about 8-9 inches late last week, followed by another 3 or so last night), we've actually been up to getting things done in anticipation of the little one, who is due in about three weeks.

Our parents were by on Saturday to help us make a quantum leap on the nursery, which is nearly done anyway. But they wanted to contribute, and boy, did they. First, we swapped the tan blinds in the nursery with the whitish blinds in our master bedroom down the hall. The Moms cleaned and dried the blinds by hand in the tub and on the kitchen counter (it's freezing up here in Chitown, so the hose is not an option). Meanwhile, Gina's Dad put together the baby swing and the bassinet. My Dad and I worked on hanging the new double valance and the decorative shelf on the wall, as well as putting the legs and drawer knobs on the dressers. We also did the actual disassembly and assembly of the blinds in the two rooms, once they were ready to roll.

In short, aside from a few arranging things, the room looks like a nursery now, and looks nearly complete. It certainly feels cozy now.

I'll post pictures on Flickr, most likely of the room soon. I'm hoping to get a new camera -- a Nikon D40 DSLR -- in the very near future, in anticipation of needing a good camera to catalog my baby's development and life. Yes, I'm likely to be that kind of parent, but that's because I wish I had more pictures of my life, period. Even the parts I DO remember. But I'm nostalgic like that. Just like I'd love to see pictures of my current home in its "past lives" if it was possible. Even though I had nothing to do with this house, it would be awesome to see who did and what they did with it. Someday, I'll get to the library for that aspect.

Anyway, I'm hoping to get the camera sooner than later. I've been totally hung up on whether to get the D40 or a Canon XT. It's been tough to choose, and since they're pretty similar, I'll likely go with the best deal available to me once I get the guts to pull off the purchase. :)

So, for now, sit tight...we're bound to have more information as we go along...and once the baby arrives, I'm sure it'll be really unpredictable as to how and when home improvement takes place.