Thursday, October 2 2014
Gretchen hadn't fully budgeted for all the expenses of buying a new house, so there was a $500 check Gretchen wrote to Larry (our realtor) that she told him not to cash for a week. In hopes of restocking the accounts, I'd called in some dollars from my Lightroom plugin client, who was having a meeting with me today. Happily, he brought me a check for twice what I asked for. After our usual debugging session, he told me his most recent horror. He and his wife had gone down to West Virginia to check in on his mother-in-law and found her living in such terrible squalor that they'd had to bring her back to Tivoli with them. She's now living in their house. Her house is in such terrible shape that it is now worth the value of its lot, and the three or four mangy dogs have all probably been euthanized by now.
After that meeting was done, I drove out to the south end of Kingston along Rondout Creek, where a gentleman was trying to get rid of various items, including a couple clothes dryers. We needed a dryer for the new house and Gretchen had found him on Craigslist. The address I drove to turned out to be a marina with an outdoor bar overlooking the water. It was a glorious early autumn day with temperatures in the low 70s, and there were six or seven gentlemen (most of whom looked to be improbable hipsters) drinking beer at 2:00pm on a Thursday. When I asked about the Craigslist posting, the young woman working as bartender directed my attention to one of the two older gentlemen at the bar. He put down his Bud Lite, suspended his conversation, and showed me to the two dryers, asking along the way if perhaps I wanted a boat. He had one with a trailer that he was selling for $600, part of a general downsizing that would allow him to relocate to a marina in North Carolina. One of the dryers was missing a part of the front paneling and so was a $50 dryer, and the other, which he thought would be a $100 dryer, had developed unsightly rust on its top surface so it was also a $50 dryer. It looked like the second one would be easier to refurbish, so that was the one we loaded into the back of my Subaru (it fit with more than an inch to spare in the tightest dimension). The cash in my wallet, by the way, was part of a loan from Susan and David; our checking account had been so depleted by the real estate fees that there was temporarily no other source of walking around money.
After dropping off the dryer at the house, I drove to Herzogs in hopes of getting some OSB (which I mistakenly referred to as MDF) for use in creating a floor in the new house's attic, but all they had there was plywood. All I bought was an abrasive pad and some glossy white spray paint for refurbishing the dryer.
Back at the new house on Wall Street, a guy walking past on the sidewalk waved at me and asked if I was the new owner. His name was Steve, he lives three or four houses to the north, and he liked to talk. He proceeded to tell me all about the seller of the house and the neighborhood. He had done a lot of work for the seller: digging the snow off her driveway, installing a new oil tank, even cleaning the house when she was moving out. He wanted to know if we wanted the big ugly triptych mirror in the living room (something Gretchen is currently trying to sell on Craigslist). Steve also asked if we were going to be moving in or renting it out, and the answer I gave was evasive. (We'd let the seller assume we'd actually be moving into her house, since she probably would have been disappointed to learn that we'd only bought it as an investment.) "The house is in such good shape!" I said to Steve. He agreed, and then detailed all the seller's hangups about things like water damage and unsightly cabling. As for the neighborhood, the big stone house across the street is owned by weekenders, is on a two acre parcel, and includes a pool. The guys to the south with the Sean Eldridge yard signs have a huge beautiful house and have done incredible things even with their carriage shed. As for the George Washington Public Montesorri School across the street, it creates traffic jams in the morning and afternoons, but it also makes this stretch of Wall Street one of the best places to hold a yard sale. There are also a great many trash pickers who drive through the neighborhood (many of them from the 'hood two blocks to the east), and they will take anything of value left on the sidewalk in front of the house, which is more of a good thing than a bad one.
My next excursion was out to 9W to deposit that big check at the credit union and to buy supplies at big box stores where that sell OSB.
The panelized lumber selection at Home Depot were more limited than I'd remembered them. The cheapest option for flooring material turned out to be 3/4 inch tongue & groove OSB, the same material that serves as the only flooring in the laboratory. It cost $17/sheet. I didn't want to overload the roof of the Subaru (the only way I could haul it), so I only bought five sheets. A helpful young Home Depot employee helped me load it. While at the Home Depot, I remembered all the various bits I would need to install a dryer: 10 gauge wire, a big metal box, a 220 volt outlet, a matching 220 volt power cord, a dual 30 amp Cutler-Hammer circuit breaker, 4 inch metal exhaust hose, and an exhaust vent. All of this stuff together came to over $200. The plump woman who waited on me was clearly new there because when items lacked their bar codes she had no idea what department to call. She was also hard of hearing, which I initially interpreted as obstinate bitchiness as she ignored me and insisted on putting my items in multiple separate plastic bags "because it's getting heavy."
When I returned to the house at Wall Street, Gretchen was there tearing out the carpet. At this point, I was exhausted from all the running around I'd done and somewhat demoralized by how little work I'd been able to do at the house.
After Gretchen left, I put down the old shower curtains as a drop cloth and proceeded to sand and then spray paint the rusty surfaces of the $50 dryer. I built up the layers gradually until the paint almost looked "factory" (as the main paint guy at Herzog's would say). I wouldn't say that it was now impossible to tell that I'd repainted the dryer, but it no longer looked like a $50 dryer.
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