Sunday, January 29, 2006


Demolition Man

There's something awesome about ripping stuff out. It doesn't matter whether it's crappy kitchen cabinets, old bathroom fixtures, or overgrown plants -- it's fun to destroy! Anyhow, this was one of those weekends where I felt like I got a lot done -- more than usual. One thing a couple of you have asked me about is a site plan or some other map that shows the overall layout of my property. Initially, I was a bit perplexed but then I read back through my own blog. While it's obvious to me where the courtyard is in reference to the rest of the yard, it probably isn't for anyone who hasn't spent the last 6 months here. Also, this week I have some pictures of the pool area. Anyhow, here's a little map I put together; excuse the terrible artwork:

Alrighty, onto the pictures. I did some grunt work, which is oddly satisfying. With the fence down between me and my neighbor I thought it might be a good idea to clear out some of the overgrown, invasive, plants. Which gets me started...I think the previous owners had a penchant for rhizome-infested plants. For those of you who don't keep a horticultural dictionary next to their computer, those are plants that have huge structures underground that help propogate the plant agressively over wide areas. There's an easier, more succint definition: evil.



It's amazing how much more space there is. Also, I now have a nice view of my neighbor's paint experiments on the side of his house. Actually, he's already showed the final color to be painted this spring and it's "appropriate." Before any of you get smart, the water is cloudy becuase I just brushed the sides of the pool. I'm not one of those people with a cloudy, algae-infested pool -- at least not anymore. :)

But Wait, There's MORE!

I'm obsessed with whiteboards. I love 'em. The bigger the better. I find them to be indispensible for organizing my life. So, I thought to myself, "Self, you should cover your closet door in whiteboard material so you can sextuple your whiteboard space!" Here's how it turned out:

Enjoy the barrel distortion with my elderly digital camera, too. Oh yeah, $20 including the construction adhesive to attached it to the existing closet door. If you want to know specifics just shoot me an email. The only thing I'm missing is a new closet door handle / grabby thing. The one I have is painted white and I really want a satin silver / brushed aluminum / steel one.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Tustin...the Windy City?

One of the benefits of living in Southern California is a unique phenomenon known as the Santa Ana Winds. They can turn a brisk January night into a much more temperate September evening in a matter of hours. Unfortunately, the winds can howl.

I didn't get much sleep last night. Unlike my previous bedroom, which had one tiny window, my new one has two complete walls of glass. When the wind is howling, trees swaying, and power lines dancing, it's a lot harder to sleep when you can actually see thes things happening on both sides of you. At about 2AM I heard a loud ka-BANG!!!!! I was afraid to look out the window, half-expecting my to see my ficus tree resting on the roof of my living room. Instead, I saw this:

The wind blew the spark arrester right off the chimney; is that even possible? I guess I should consider myself lucky; it could have flown into windows and broken some glass. The next morning I also discovered that the fence my neighbor and I had been discussing for months had finally succumbed:

I really want a block wall but I don't think my neighbor is up to it. On the bright side, looks like I get to use the new circular saw my parents got me for Christmas. However, the best part of this wind storm came this morning (I feel so fortunate to have been outside when this happened). I was out, surveying the fence damage above, when this happened:

It was exactly like a cartoon. There was a gust of wind, then a loud splintering sound. Luckily, it didn't hit the garage and my car was parked out front rather than in the driveway. As Uncle Lewis said in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: "It was ugly tree, anyway."

Shameless plug for my company:

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Is Ground Shipping Okay?

"What can Brown do for you?"

One thing about being obsessive-compulsive / anal-retentive is that even simple things become complicated. Take, for example, painting a room. Most people go down to Home Despot, pick up some paint, brushes and rollers, masking tape, and a tarp or two. Easy, right? Haha...not with my house. While being unique is certainly fun, it does come with a lot of responsibility. Nothing is easy, simple, or "standard."

One of the very cool things about most Cliff May homes is that the home's structural skeleton is exposed. In a traditional home everything is covered in drywall but in mine the support posts and beams are exposed. Also, the drywall is laid on top of the skeleton but cut smaller so it appears to "float" on top of the support skeleton like a skin (which is architecturally very "honest" -- the drywall is just a covering). Unfortunately this leads to a very important choice: just paint the surface of the drywall or paint the sides too so it looks like the drwall consists of large, colored slabs laid over the skeleton. The problem with choice number two is tons of inside corners. Let me translate that for you non-painters: Inside Corners = your worst nightmare.

Anyhow, onto the title. Funny story time. My office is very light and I wanted to remodel it and experiment with techniques and choices for the rest of the house. Consistency is your friend! Because it's so light I thought it would be fun to paint it a really dark color -- brown. Brown is trickier than you might imagine. It takes a gazillion coats, and it has to be picked very carefully. With the wrong lighting, a delightful color such as "Morning Blend" can quickly morph into "What my neighbor's dog leaves in my yard each morning." After 50 color samples (I methodically rated each in sunlight, cloudy daylight, and halogen light) I finally came across the perfect color: Ralph Lauren "Cargo Brown." It scored highly in all three light types and had a certain welcome familiarity that I couldn't quite put my finger on.

After the first coat and a friendly UPS driver I figured out the familiarity of "Cargo Brown" -- I now have an office painted the same color as a UPS truck. Actually, I really like it (pragmatism alert!). No, really, I do. :) Anyhow, take a look:

I haven't painted the trim yet (and properly masked the dreaded inside corners). But, I think it's going to be awesome. Obviously, this is a work in progress so you'll see some of the cool details later on.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


House Bling!

Okay, I admit it. I have a problem; I absolutely love the word "bling." How cool is this, a word whose definition is: The sound that light makes when it reflects off something shiny. Very cool indeed.

Anyhow, on to my house bling (I really just like saying it). I saw those awesome Neutra house numbers as Design Within Reach (a very ironic name for a store selling house numbers that cost $68/number). I wanted them. Fortunately, two facts in my life coincided and I was able to get them:

1. I turned one year older and my parents demanded to know of something they could buy me.
2. I found, which sells them for nearly 33% off the "Design Within Reach" price.


This is one of those improvements that not only looks great but, unfortunately, highlights the inadequacy of my front doors. I know, they need to go. I also need a new doorbell button. Oh, just so you fellow perfectionists don't think I'm slipping: yes, I know the "1" isn't plumb -- it hasn't been siliconed yet in this picture. Oh, I know about the PO's crappy wood filler job at the top of that batten; it's on the list.

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