Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Paths to Glory

As we begin September, I've been thinking about the different paths we all take in life.   Both Andrea and I are figuring out which new paths we should take in the midst of general uncertainty in the world.

Selecting a "path" also applies to how we approach further rehabilitation of our Old Vic.  Should we rehab it so it suits are needs for the long term?  Or should we rehab it so that it would appeal to a wide range of potential, future buyers?  Should we continue down the path that evokes its age, or "borgify" it by adding new, technological innovations that few houses have?

This weekend we got the opportunity to think deeply about "paths".  First we hiked inside Sibley Volcanic Regional Park in the East Bay Hills and pondered how some paths can have steep, difficult inclines, or wide asphalt walkways and smaller paths that seem to invite adventure and maybe a little discomfort.  Sometimes you have to backtrack on the same path because the one up ahead looks a little too precarious to continue on.  It's always good to remember that a path with a steep incline will eventually get easier as it levels off or declines.

It's also good to remember that the food tastes best after a good, long hike! lol

Well then there are the paths presented to you like in the very top picture.  I had the opportunity to walk along the new pedestrian path attached to the new Bay Bridge which just opened this morning.  In some ways, the picture above represents our approach to old house rehabbing.  On the left is the old bay bridge, built in the early 1930's and opposite is the new Bay Bridge which took much, much longer and cost much, much more to build than the old one.

If they were houses, you could see how the newly built house is a white, gleaming state of the art structure while the old bridge is darker and outdated.  However, about half way through my walk towards Treasure Island, I noticed that I spent more time looking at the old bridge than the new one.  It just has so much character which the new one sorely lacks.

 I couldn't help but wish that they figure out a way to keep a portion of the old one somehow.  Maybe turn into a 'Ponte Vecchio' of the Bay?  The Ponte Vecchio was a Medieval bridge in Italy that was transformed into an area for shops that tourists visit.

Perhaps part of the problem, here in the Bay Area, is that you have to tear something down completely and build something new in its place. I don't find too many civic examples that incorporate new innovations into the more ancient structures ("ancient" around here means about 100 years old).   Europe does that sort of thing very well with structures like the Louvre.   Of course our older structures are more susceptible to damaging earthquakes but I'm sure their are clever solutions out there that can help keep the character of our old structures.

The last thing I want to say about "paths" are the ones that are unseen yet clearly viewable.  Just like the long, dark silhouette of the bridge on the bay waters, some paths are mental, spiritual, metaphysical yet they are just as important to consider when you decide to take a new "physical" path.

So looking back in August we were able to refinish two old floors in the parlor and dining area. This is a bit of a long process that involves heavy duty sanding and the re-application of polyurethane.  The floor is old and covered in history.  To our surprise, we found out that the dining room floor is actually maple which adds a more exotic look to the room.  It takes a bit longer for things to dry with it but it is supposedly stronger than the red oak in the parlor.
Maple floor meets Oak Floor
After the sanding comes the smelly poly application.

Andrea said it looked like I was painting the floor.
Three coats and several days later, I can walk on it with my socks on.

Try and moonwalk on this floor. I did.

You wonder why I would cover the newly refinished floor?  Because I hate the thought of getting scratches or anything else on it!  We'll only remove the rugs when feel like dancing. :)
Oh, and there is a big dark spot just in front of the fireplace.  My theory is that it is oil lamp oil that spilled there many decades ago.  It just won't come out no matter what I try and what comes out has an oily consistency to it.  Oh well, it's "history"!

So what's on the docket for September?

-Rehab the garage which will function as a gym and future electric car station.
-More jackhammering of the backyard cement so we can plant more stuff.
-Polish the basement floors. Can I get the basement floors to look the ones at Home Depot?
-Construct new bookshelves and window bench for the parlor.
-Gut and remake the small office/bedroom.
- And a hundred other things....

Wish us luck!