Steve Wacksman
June 2007
What I Did On My Summer Vacation: A Tale Of Mirth And Woe
Looks like it's gonna take a few coats of primer to get those bricks painted white
Summer's finally here; time for fishing in cool streams, lazy games of croquet, and ingesting countless pounds of gypsum dust and untold filth dating back to the era of the horseless carriage.

I'm pleased to report that phase one of this three-stage project is largely complete. There's miles to go before the job is wrapped, but the main components are in place. WIth the help of my brother-in-law (whose skill-sets seem to stretch to the horizon and beyond) I removed the worthless unused stovepipe from my chimney, sealed the cavity, and repaired all the loose brick and mortar. The party wall was built out and  was filled with insulation in an attempt to deaden sound transfer ( my neighbors evidently don't share my taste in music)  All sheetrock is hung and taped, electrical in place. It's looking pretty good if I do say so myself. Can't wait to get back to my desk- working at the kitchen table is a fairly joyless arrangement.
The half-bath/closet awaiting casings and doors.
This ceiling fan worked when we moved in. Well, occasionally.
Alas, there's no sigh of relief forthcoming. Yesterday marked the beginning of phase two: the back bedroom. This will be our son's lair and in it's present state is a woefully unsuitable location. The ceiling was sagging and peeling; the back wall housed two leaky and disagreeable aluminum windows. To cap it off, there is one 15-amp outlet and NO INSULATION in the back wall.

This will not do.
Like I said- no insulation of any sort.
A common sight around these parts lately
Goodbye To One Of The Greats
Charley in his studio
Charley Harper (1922-2007)

A friend of the Wacksman family, Mr Harper's prints hung in nearly every room in our house. I recall carefully studying his complex woodland scenes and fully entering the picture; as a child there was nothing that would leave me so entranced as a depiction of a densely packed microcosm. I remember well visiting him in his studio and marveling at the chaos of creation.

As one does, I grew older and lost interest in Harper's artwork and dismissed it as  nostalgic. Several years ago as my scope of interests grew I uncovered Charley's "Golden Big Book Of Biology" and was nearly knocked off my feet. My appreciation for his artwork was rekindled. Around the same time Charley found a friend in Ur-designer Todd Oldham, who featured his prints in print ads for his La-Z-Boy line. Charley then had a retrospective in Cincinnati and it seemed his star was once again on the rise.

Oldham has since published a book entitled "Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life" which will be available soon.

Mr Harper died Sunday of pneumonia at the age of 84. He is survived by his wife Edie and son Brett, both artists as well. He will be missed, but leaves a lifetime of beautiful artwork behind.
Crawling Through The Wreckage
First the plaster and lathe came off the ceiling - 36 bags worth. Mmmm- gritty dusty!
When we last met I was in the midst of a major renovation job, building a new half bath, storage closet, and adding some other much-needed improvements to my studio. Remember?

These things take time, friends. Time and money. And sweat and, if I'm honest, a little blood. But look, if I don't do it, who will?

Things are starting to shape up. The fun doesn't end here, though; the upstairs bedroom gets it next.
The bathroom is pretty well completed; the fixtures need to be installed and a few minor finishing touches. I've back-burnered this job; I'm waiting for a sink that's backordered.
Leveled ceiling with recessed lighting. C'est bon, no? Thanks to Claude and Sara.
I leveled the joists by screwing steel studs to them; they were almost 4 inches out of level over a 12 foot span. My brother-in-law Claude  ran the electrical ( because he's an electrician) then he and my sister Sara helped sheetrock the ceiling. This house is more crooked than the White House.
The bathroom and closet are rocked and ready for taping.
Anyone need some bricks? Going cheap.
Still, there's heaps of unfinished business. Here's the back (outside) wall. As you can see, there's a door to nowhere. A crappy, ill-fitting door that lets a bracing stream of cold air in in the Winter. I'm replacing the door with 2 large double-hung windows.
The bricks inside the walls are all this wall had for insulation. I'll be replacing them using r-19 denim insulation.
Here's the exterior shot. This is under the door - I removed the exterior sheathing to see what awaits me. Assy aluminum siding ( faded mint green - that's class!), asphalt shingle with the look and feel of real brick (gag), some fibrous, spongy strand board, and, at last, the original clapboards. Seems our house was once painted a dark charcoal grey. I kinda dig the Chas Addams vibe.
Where am I going? to the top!
I'll be replacing all this with plywood, housewrap, rigid foam insulation and lastly, new cedar clapboards. Tight and toasty.
It's a dirty job, but ultimately satisfying as all hell. I love going to bed sore and exhausted. Looking forward to having it all finished and polished up by the time the kid is hatched.
It's not all rosy around here. though. After a long and courageous battle with Cancer, the Veal finally passed away last Thursday. Yesterday, June 6th would have been her 11th birthday.  We miss her something awful.

On to Valhalla, sweet pet! There was no finer friend than you.
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