Monthly Archives: June 2011

install a dog door in the wall (day one)

i learned a lot of things today. the most exciting thing being how to use a reciprocating saw. dad you’d be proud. i bought a skil saw. we went to home depot to pick up a pet door for the boxer max and the terrier sam. apparently the thing that little boys are supposed to do while their mother antagonizes over plastic flaps and large vs/ extra large is to slap and slam every dog door on display very loudly and squeal and giggle with delight. one torn and irreperable green flip flop later, we were at target sizing flip flops. after having looked at the cute diagrams illustrating what tools were needed for Dog Door Installation, i was now also in the market for a saw as i never took the chance to borrow one. so we stopped at lowe’s across the street and checked out all sorts of saws. which are cool but scary and intimidating to someone inexperienced such as myself. at first all i saw were cordless tools with batteries not included. i know not having to fight with a cord makes the project go that much more smoothly, but isn’t that part of the process?
after loading up the cart with two tubes of silicone caulk, one dog door, one wall kit in case the wall was too thick to allow the indoor and outdoor frames to fit together, and one reciprocating saw, we checked out and sped off to jump the gun on the dog door project. after lunch. I set the boys up with a movie and tore into the dog door box.

first off, this door is huge. i thought my dog was big, and “boxer” is listed in the breed list on the box. fair. but i feel like maybe a pony would be able to get at least some of its body through the Gateway to the Backyard. so, dog door out, its shiny, the plastic flap is fresh and clear. i took the instructions out. i’ve watched videos online before about installing a dog door in the wall. and its always a white man in his 40s with a moustache and a toolbelt whipping this project together in a 3:27 video. cool. i can do this.


use a level to ensure it's straight

tape the template to the wall. so you can use both hands to flatten it out and draw around it. trace around the inside of the template so when you cut, the hole will match the measurement of the door. also trace the drill holes provided in the template. this is where the bolts will go through the wall to grab the other half of the dog door. remove the template and drill the holes you traced. also make drill holes at the corners of the template you drew on the wall. this will help keep you from overshooting the end of the line when you’re in the heat of the moment with the saw. so far, in my personal project, things went to plan.


me pulling insulation out whoa

i then began to cut the hole out with a power saw while the kids were outside. note to self: next time, wear safety goggles from the getgo and a mask to prevent inhaling all the fine dust that flies out of drywall. also be sure you read all instructions carefully. i cut the hole in the wall. one of the wildest things i’ve ever done in my life?! yes. cut a hole in the wall of your new home?? yes. it had to be done. ao i cut a hole in the drywall and pulled it out. next i pulled the pink drywall out in sheets, trying to keep it in the same shape it was in in the wall.


why, wire, why?

next, it was time to extend the drill holes all the way through to the exterior wall so that the template could be retaped and redrawn on the other side of the wall. i went to make sure there were no wires anywhere and sure enough, at the top of the hole, narrowly missed, was electrical wiring for the wall! of course a huge problem for someone who didnt know that there is such thing as a voltage detector that can tell you where not to cut holes in your wall with a power saw. so the hole was moved down by two inches.
we made a trip to home depot where we picked up a nice long 3/8″ bit and a pair of safety glasses. as we tried to drill to the exterior wall though, we began to hear weird sounds coming from the wall and not much progress being made with the drill bit.
after doing a little research on drilling into concrete walls, we learned that normally a hammer drill is used, as it can both provide the impact of a hammer to penetrate the hard surface and it can also drill away at it and remove the debris so you make a little progress with it. the following day after work, i made a trip to home depot to check out renting a hammer drill and bumped into an employee. i told him what we were experiencing with the wall and he told me that a lot of homes that are stucco actually have a metal or steel frame on the outside and usually need a bit for drilling through metal. he also gave me a few pointers on how to successfully drill through it.
i confidently drove home after purchasing a long bit for my project, changed clothes, kicked the kids out, fitted the bit to the drill, and i’ll be damned the motor was dead in the drill.


Moving Day . . .

last night began the caravan voyage journey into our New House.
directly after work, i drove the black lifted dodge 4×4 my manager at work insisted i borrow to move with up to the apartment. i solicited helping hands to load up the bed of the truck with the towering structure of boxes that crowded my bedroom. most boxes fit and there was still room in the king cab so in went more boxes and bins and the boys’ backpacks and tent.
the power at the house was still off even though i requested the transfer in plenty of time. i thought maybe with Memorial Day things got a little jumbled up or lost so i didn’t think much of it. honestly it was a little odd being in the house. i kept expecting someone to come and tell me to leave. it was warm inside and very musty. nothing familiar at all. during escrow i’d continually pictured the rooms as-is, with norm’s stuff in them. so to be here in his presumed space of the last 25 years felt wrong.
but there i was shoving box after box into each room before anyone could kick us out. as we unloaded, my neighbor from across the street came home in a mini van. a little blond girl waved from the driveway and kara and i went across the street to introduce ourselves. the little girl’s name is emily and her mother’s name is jackie. they live there with jackie’s husband and they are happy to have more children in the neighborhood.
shortly after that, we finished unloading boxes and locked up. we dropped the truck off at the apartments and then left to go pick up my car and then the boys. when i went to go get them, my oldest, elijah, asked me when we were moving. i told him “tonight and tomorrow is when we are moving.” and he couldn’t have been more excited. i took them back to the apartment where we ate dinner and after the arizona sun set, we loaded up the truck with the dining room table, two bookcases, and with the unexpected help of passerby, my big heavy coffee table.
the kids rode in the backseat of the truck, naturally convinced that this truck was now also ours. they helped with trip #2, keeping the cell phone screen lit as we moved furniture into the living room in complete darkness. it was approaching 9pm when we finished up and the street was quiet and dark. the boys were eager to get out of the house because now in addition to the stuffiness of the house and the musty smell, it was pitch black and they didn’t feel safe. they were waiting at the truck as i locked up.
i panicked as in the dark all alone at an unfamiliar place the door wouldn’t close all the way. at first i thought the trouble was air pressure so i pushed the door open and pulled to close it but again that resistance was there. i called out to kara for help and got more worked up and anxious as i repeatedly called to her and tried to close the door. she could hear the fear in my voice as she approached and when i told her that something was holding the door open, her first instinct was to take a huge step back and kick the door in . . . it flew open and bounced against the wall. i shined a light into the doorway. no one and nothing there. i went to close the door again and the damn curtain to the windows next to the door was in the door jamb. i didn’t laugh about it until 10 minutes later or so just because my nerves were so shot. we all went home and went to bed.

moving van

positioning of the uhaul plus stowaways

the next morning felt like The Big Day. i woke up early to pack a couple more boxes and go get my mother and my sister and some coffee. when we got to my apartment, the boys were awake so i dismantled all the beds and my sister and i packed more boxes as my mother graciously folded my laundry and packed it away. the boys ran around and picked up toys and put them everywhere except for the toybox, naturally. we began to pack up the truck and my honda with the boys’ beds and more boxes and toys and odds and ends. after unloading everything, including my ma, my sister, and the boys, kara and i drove to the moving van rental. on the way to the rental shop, i called the power company. even though they sent me an email saying the power was in service, it wasn’t on. as i waited on hold, it occured to me that i should’ve checked the circuit box. sure enough that’s exactly what the operator said. called my sister at the house and she flipped the switches for me. magic! power!
after that was a new adventure of driving a moving truck (14 feet of truck!) and making a u-turn in it and trying not to flip it on the way up to the apartment where kara met me with the truck. my brother met us with his buick, and my friend mike met us with his truck. two hours of loading up the trucks and van with belongings, and one solid bit of advice that i was not to quit my day job, we were set to begin the 30 mph parade up to my new house.
of course, mike parked under the covered parking and one piece of furniture that we’d carefully balanced on top of the truck and tethered to the bed got caught on the cover of the parking spot and made an awful sound. all vehicles partially pulled out stopped and jogged over to see what the damage was. luckily nothing, just some red faces. hence the 30 mph in a 45. just in case.
when we pulled up to the house, Metro Water was there to shut the water service off for the previous owner. the lady was nice enough to give me the phone number of the office where i could get it switched to my name. as i talked to another nice lady (whose daughter happens to be best friends with one of my coworkers), mike, matthew, and kara unloaded the truck, then started on mike’s truck, which i was able to help with. then mike moved the uhaul and we unloaded it. ordered a pizza and then unloaded the buick (note to self: order food a few days beforehand. we got the short end of the pizza stick). shoved the mattress up the stairs and pushed furniture out of the walkways. pizza man showed up just in time and luckily i knew where to find paper plates for us. everyone ate and pretty much left. the boys and kara and i went and returned the uhaul and then went to the apartment to grab a red desk and drop it off at goodwill. then it was down to return the truck to my manager and then lastly to target to pick up essentials. stopped at the apartments to shower everyone crashed and burned with exhaustion.

ahhh moving day.

wheels in motion

keymy final walkthrough and the signing fell on the thursday before memorial day and it just so happened that the date my real estate agent and i selected to be the closing date was monday, may 30th. and this year that fell on Memorial Day: offices closed, barbecues lit. so in a way i felt like a dope for inadvertently screwing myself out of my close date. i’d have to wait until tuesday to get the keys and honestly feel the transition to homeowner in my life.
the boys came with me to the walkthrough. we met our agent, jackie, at the house. the owner was here and i followed the boys throughout the house as they checked for any damage we may have missed the first time. they were so happy and so excited. they were telling jackie all about what was going where in the house and who would be with us and about all the fun things that they would get to do once we lived here. and jackie’s such a genuinely nice woman who just loves children so she spoiled them with questions and suggestions. we were only at the house for a good 15 minutes but as jackie reviewed details about leaving the keys at the title company, she saw a key on the table. she asked if it was a house key and the owner nodded and handed it to her, who then turned and handed it to me. i held it with my purple wallet as if it were a piece of paperwork i was trying not to misplace. we all said goodbye before he climbed on his bike to check the mail.
we followed jackie to the title company where i signed a criminal amount of paperwork as she sat with the boys and played lavamonster. as we left the title company to get to the bank for the cashier’s check, it felt like the whole transaction was very mundane for everyone involved, including me. i acted very collected the entire afternoon. and all through saturday as i worked a double and left early to go to blanco for dinner, promising to pack and be organized when i got home. instead i fell asleep. on sunday again i meant to be productive but spent my time relaxing and cooking. monday dragged by as i trudged through work trying to mentally outline all of the little things to do to set up for the move such as organize all the people who offered to help me. i spent two weeks at the beginning of may cleaning appliances and unearthing toys from beneath the couches to be packed safely for the move. i spent two months carefully packing up my kitchen and closets and sending unused items off to goodwill. painted the walls back to white. and now that it was almost here i felt like i was scrambling and grasping at straws when it came to my time constraint. but as i sat on the apartment steps monday night, eating an ice cream cone, a fact crashed into my consciousness and i smiled as it became clear and dawned on me: “today is my close date. contract is closed and i have a house.” and this subtle joy coursed through me as if to say “everything is all right.”
thats when i knew it was time to let go of the fear and just get things done. i was afraid to move on from the apartment, afraid that i wasn’t going to be able to legitimately get the house. as if i were filling out a form online just to see what it would be like to apply for something i knew was out of reach. with that emotion out of the way, the first order of business was to go to the electric company’s website and transfer my service. next up: rent a uhaul online in advance. i then went to change my address with the postal service and perhaps set up broadband at the house.
after that i went to the kitchen to pack two more boxes and clean up a little before i layed awake in bed, clicking away on my blackberry every time i thought of something to prepare for moving day or some bill that i needed to get out of the way before i forgot.