A look back at 2020

2020 sucked.

Seems like this is something that doesn’t really need to be said. But just in case there was any doubt.

We are lucky to be have the option to work from home (and thus remain employed) and we are lucky that we have enough space to WFH without being on top of one another. Yet it was a year filled with anxiety, worry and a general sense of dread.

As we spent 99.9% of our time at home, we did manage to get a few projects done.

Right before shutdown we tackled the grape arbor. The somewhat ancient grape vine was precariously held up by a concoction of metal pipes, rusty wire and a broken broomstick. After slowly raising the vines to a point where we could actually walk under them, it was finally time to build a proper structure.

The empty shelves at the grocery stores were the impetus for the the next project: a small vegetable garden. I built these mostly with what we had on hand (bead board, scraps of lumber). I think they turned out pretty good, considering.

Boxes before stain/paint.

I used a dark mahogany stain on the outside (again, what we had on hand) and painted the inside blue with some leftover exterior paint. Not to worry, the boxes are lined and the soil doesn’t come in contact with the paint or stain. The thought behind painting the inside was to make them a bit more durable. As a bonus surprise, I think the color combo kinda works. These were completed at the height of the pandemic here in New York, when the city was absolutely quiet except for the wailing ambulances. We had no idea what the months ahead would bring, and in a small way being able to grow a few tomatoes and peppers seemed like a decent step against the food shortages we all feared.

A mesh top prevents said cat from using our “farm” as a littler box

Next up came the upstairs bathroom. Measuring a whopping 27 square feet, this was the original bathroom on the top floor, however the only original thing left in it was the footprint. The tub, sink and toilet, along with flooring and tiles had been replaced over the years. The shower was leaking into the wall and the tiles around the tub were about to fall off.

The before. Note the two shower heads, because the one on the left was leaking into the walls.

The space was gutted to the brick on the shower side. We salvaged as much of the plaster on the other side as possible New plumbing lines are run and proper waterproofing was done.

It always looks worse before it starts looking better.

We chose to go with a simple classic subway tile on the tub wall. We stripped what felt like 10,000 layers of paint from the window trim and we restored the original window.

Getting there…

Next up, the air shaft. This small and utilitarian feature of the house dates back to when new building regulations relating to air circulation were put in place in the late 1800s. Sure we no longer believe in “the vapors” or the “miasmas” yet proper air circulation was quite the contemporary topic for 2020. In here we stabilized the plaster an added some waterproofing (just in case).

Yes this is inside our house and yes, it’s super creepy.
Looking down from the third floor bathroom window..

There was also time for an impromptu trip to the Catskills to pick up an old toilet from Max at Shadowcrest1901 which may or may not have been the toilet used by Mr. Fleischmann of Fleischmann’s yeast (another on-point 2020 reference).

So yeah. Not a whirlwind of activity, but a few things here and there did get done.

Onwards to 2021, which I hope sucks a little less (and be productive a lot more).

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