Waterworks… or does it?

Facebook chums will know I’ve been experimenting with Bonnard inspired bathroom pics – and the good news is, HALLELUJAH ! the master bath is up and running. Yesterday took first bath at home since (well, since our departure, natch). It was lovely. There’s nothing like the depth and pitch of a clawfoot tub. Heaven.

One of the delicious, over the top, affluent joys of having a big-ass house is one must ask oneself, “How shall I do the hall bath? How shall I do the third floor bath? My heavens, how shall I do the master bath?” So wonderful, so silly and so ultimately unimportant. I love it very much.

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This Tuesday, I arrived full of purpose and full of bladder, left keys, phone and other paraphernalia on kitchen table, raced up stairs to brand new loo, grabbed the hook on the back of the bathroom door and pulled it shut, because all of the door knobs were stolen. Because, as the door clicked shut, I remembered there is no door knob, they were all stolen.
Correction: There are no door knobs to open any of the interior doors.

no knob

none here either and so on and so forth
Imagine, if you will, gentle reader, my thought process as I washed my hands and looked about my beloved master bath. It was hot today, friends.

I had an appointment at the Urban League (who’ve been amazing and with whom I credit my return to the grey goddess) within the next hour. The cell phone was on the kitchen table, the nearest neighbor at whom I might yell out the bathroom window for help is the hostile neighbor -she’ll get her own post, but not for some time. Below are two views from said bathroom window. View one is circa 2010, the second whilst locked in the bathroom.

The view out the bathroom window  in springtime

Note missing tree surreptitiously chopped down by hostile neighbor

Note missing tree surreptitiously chopped down by hostile neighbor

Needless to say. I was in a palaver. Or as my dad would say, it was a conundrum. As my husband would say, it was a quandary. But-

HALLELUJAH! Monday I removed an offending brass toilet paper holder which I find no longer pleasing.  I’m a messy chick, and Praise the Lord, I left the screwdriver in the bathroom. I had seen my plumber and a contractor open one of the doors which had been inadvertently shut (did I say I HAVE NO DOOR KNOBS?) with a screwdriver, so I knew it was possible to do this.
Important to be calm. Did I say it was hot Tuesday morning? One thought occurred to moi- failing all else, I could always take another bath, and use the loo, over and over again. After ten minutes, watching the square mechanism only move a millimeter or so, it opened.
THANK YOU JESUS! HALLELUJAH! Always an adventure. It’s just like MacGyver…. Only better.



Woah! Are we talking Zombie House?


My neighbor with the gorgeous garden next door gently asked, “So what’s up? Is your house a zombie?”

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I had not heard that term before. After looking into what zombie houses actually are, the answer is yes, friends. My house was a zombie. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/zombie-foreclosures.html

We couldn’t keep up and we couldn’t get a modification.  We were served the foreclosure notice in June, 2008. The stock market crashed in September. By 2009, I was already on my fourth unsuccessful attempt at a modification.


In March 2010, Saxon informed us, the game was up. Our only alternative to foreclosure was to do a short sale. The house was on the market for maybe two or three days. We accepted the offer and went immediately into contract. The youngest member of the house hold was starting high school, I was commuting to the big city, and there wasn’t time to screw around. We moved.

Then the deal didn’t close. And then the kitchen ceiling fell in.


We put the house back on the market.

Concurrently,  with the downward eddy of our resources, we rolled around in the ups and downs of the mosh pit called Parenthood. Like love, everyone’s an expert and it doesn’t matter who you are or what you have, it always seems somebody else is doing it better. We’d both been previously married, we only added Lucca, our beloved dog, to the equation.


Marriage wasn’t a detail that inspired us. However, when the opportunity to get some health insurance courtesy of my employer came up, my spouse and I hightailed it to the altar, officially declaring ourselves to the bureaucrats and lawyers alike.


Holy Moly!  Stop the presses.

BlogHer 2015 is taking place this weekend…. Must take note and glean insights from afar. Not knowing what the hell I’m doing (it goes hand in hand with biting off more than I can chew- a thing of the past, I swear) I just checked out Goop  http://goop.com/.  It’s so elegant and interesting! Also Over50feeling40  http://www.over50feeling40.com/…. Nice. An entire universe waiting to be discovered…. So exciting.

It’s almost as exciting as my now functioning, albeit un-glamorous, masterbath. Photos to follow. In the meantime, something lovely. The window to the left above the one with the arch, is the bathroom in question.


History 1.0 – we are our parents



In the dining room during major plumbing surgery

“You can outdistance that which is running after you but not what is running inside you.” This is a Rwandan proverb. Its veracity, alas, reaffirms itself every morning I open my eyes. But it’s okay, too. At 51, I’ve come to terms with it, and like the face that looks back in the mirror, diminished collagen replaced by an abundance of lines, shadows  and a weird sort of puffiness in its place, one can only say, “Good morning. Again.”

The thing about history repeating itself, yeah- well. When my parents were about 40 years old, they  moved into an enormous West Side apartment. My earliest memories are of being small in a super big place. And frankly, I thought it felt good. I don’t know if my instantaneous reaction to The Big House was a replay of those earlier memories, or if it was something else. I fell, and I fell hard.

My parents (RIP) had a great deal of style. They could not have been more different from one another, but they did respect each other’s aesthetic impulses, and my mother particularly, ranks among the great uneducated Nancy Lancasters of her time.




The above photo is circa 1975.

We were at the big apartment about six years until things went south. Life afterward took us in many different directions all over the world. Although they had been long divorced, my father died in the same town that my mother had been born.

In some strange way, that makes it a small world, I think.

Pictures, being worth many thousands of words, will fill in the rest of today’s backstory. Here are  several about the  plumbing in the master bath. Note relocation of throne to basement, gaping, but necessary, cavity in middle of living room wall and original stack now in back yard. Yes, indeed. It’s a process, folks.

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My daughter lent me a book called Life Would be Perfect if I Lived in That House by Meghan Daum, which ironically, was published as I was moving out of mine. The graceful grey edifice that was home, we referred to as The Big House, A Wreck, The Worst Mistake We Ever Made and a couple of others which I’ve since forgotten.

We are a blended family. He came with three kids and an elegant Cavalier King Charles spaniel. I came with a college aged daughter, a ginger cat and an aging mother. In a burst of tenderness we adopted a dog, Lucca, who was the baby of the family. The grey house while not being in the lush suburb from which he hailed, nor close enough to the train or bus to give my mother the sense of independence that she craved, was otherwise perfect. For us. And for all and sundry who came with us. It was clear from the moment I saw it.

We made the offer (full asking price) before the open house even took place. This was 2004. I had just turned forty. My spouse and I  worked together and we worked hard, sometimes generating real money. There wasn’t any reason we wouldn’t be successful. He walked through the rooms, and sighed, “Ah Hayes, this house is going to need some serious work.” He knew. He’s an architect. And I had become a designer, but more than that, I am a romantic and a die hard optimist. It can be a recipe for disaster.

And the sunlight streamed in through the simple leaded window over the window seat at the top of the stairs opposite the front door, which was glass, giving the sense, by and large, of  four exposures. Airy, simple, but a Victorian! How crazy is that? I mean, this house was beautiful. Our first evening, we sat in the back yard as the the stars came out, and watched our family turning on the lights, moving through the spaces of their new home.


Happy Independence Day!

 This  is it folks. As a fan of the Beales, Maysles and others too numerous to mention, this is the beginning of my love affair with a big grey house, how I bought it, how I lost it and how I’ll get it back. Blogs will be every weekend until something more compelling comes up. So, in the meantime, I’ll master posting  (sound vaguely distasteful?) and catch up with you next week. Have a great July 4th! Norman, thanks for the pic, and Happy Birthday, Tom!