It’s autumn.

I like the idea of following the cycles of the sun and moon. I never understood why the summer solstice, when the days start to get shorter is called the beginning of summer. It’s more an end than a beginning. Same with the winter solstice, the days start to get longer and the rebirth of Mother Earth is on its way.
At least the autumnal equinox is called autumn. I find it the most wonderful of seasons. Certainly spring with all its color and sexual verve is exciting after the doldrums of February and March. But the clear sky’s and perfect temperatures after August’s frightful heat, humidity and haze is so refreshing.
Maybe it’s the bitter sweet knowledge that so perfect a time of year is leading us into the depths of winter. But we are soothed and cajoled by autumn. With its warm days and brisk winds for the best of the sailing season and the cool nights that make being under the covers a joy.
So here’s to autumn. Not so much an ending but a bucolic and wonderful season that stands on its own.



I spent the first weekend of the season on "Peregrine". It rained Saturday night but my enclosure for the pop top and a cockpit canopy kept me dry. It’s great to be back on the water and Oyster Bay is glorious this time of year. It was a long cold winter now it’s time to sail.
More on sailing as the season develops.

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A Year Latter
Today marks the first year since the start of the Iraq war. Bush has his cronies out in force protesting that the WMD’s were not the reason we went to war. But if you read Bush’s speech to the American people on March 20 2003 you will see that Bush used the WMD’s as the main reason we were sending our troops into Iraq.

Here are a couple of quotes,”, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.”
Clearly the “disarm Iraq” relates to the WMD’s and he infers that the entire world is in danger of nuclear harm.

He goes on to say “The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.” How much more clear can he get? He says we are fighting to stop an outlaw who has WMD’s.
Don’t let his peons tell you differently.

He closes the speech with this little gem,” We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities. “
This is a reference to 9/11. He is saying that your homes and lives are at risk if we don’t go to war. He uses the fear of more bombings in our cities. That is not what a responsible President should be doing because he knew it was not true.
The speech was cynical and calculating. He used the speech to instill fear into all Americans.

Well to date NO WMD’s have been found and now over 500 American soldiers are dead, over 10,000 Iraqis are dead, 200 Spaniards are dead, and the Iraqi people live in chaos.

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Super Tuesday indeed.

Tomorrow we vote. As usual NY is voting when the outcome is no longer in doubt. In the past I have used my vote to keep the dialogue alive by voting for Jessie Jackson and Jerry Brown. Not that I would have wanted either to be President but I wanted to keep the democrats in the news and continuing to talk about ALL the issues.
This time I will vote for the front runner and IMO opinion the next democratic nominee for President, John Kerry.
The Remodeling is in Phase II

The Russians left today!!
They cleaned up and left today at 4pm. I have new bathroom and most of a new kitchen. Both came out great. Now my work starts. I have to strip the kitchen cabinet doors and put new hardware on them, all 18 doors, then paint the kitchen and hang the center fixture, an old factory glass shade. Then I have to paint the rest of the apartment. Whew. Lots to do but the ordeal of construction is over. Yeah!!


On to Politics

Did you hear President Bush’s speech yesterday on gay marriage? Today he is goading on the right-wingers in the congress to amend the constitution to ban gay marriage. The constitution? This is a religious fight and we cannot have zealots messing with the constitution to pawn their brand of religion on the country. This is an administration driven by religious fundamentalists no less dangerous than the ruling power in Iran. Separation of church and state means just that keep government and religion separate and the objection to gay marriage is religious. Even thinking of amending the constitution for a religious belief is wrong.
To quote President Bush’s speech ;

“An amendment to the Constitution is never to be undertaken lightly. The amendment process has addressed many serious matters of national concern, and the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance.
The union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith.

Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society.”

There is no question that Bush and the right wing Christians intend to have their religion dominate every aspect of our lives.

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Remodeling Redux

Day 13 Friday 2/20/02
Disappointment. I get home to find no work has been done. I had been brought home by Artie who cut up some plywood for shelves etc. and to find the work not done was really a bummer. It could be it was the 13th day. I called Gregory who said “I told you” well his English is not the best so I didn’t understand. Ultimately I see why but that is not enough to appease me. There was/is only for hours work to finish the bathroom and that would have wasted a day of one of his most valuable men. So on Tuesday two guys will come finish the bathroom and get started on the kitchen. Oh well it will soon be over then my work starts. I still have to paint the entire apt and strip and paint the kitchen cabinets.

Day 14 Tuesday 2/24
Walking home from work I ran into the real estate broker who sold me my apt. and she said a smaller one bedroom in this building ended up in a bidding war and got $15K more than asked! In just five months I‘ve already made good money on the apt.
Outside my building is a big truck and I asked the driver if he had delivered a stove and fridge. Indeed my new appliances are here. They are stainless and black, very cool. There is loud Russian rock and roll blaring on my portable radio and Vitali is painting away in the bathroom the floor in the kitchen has a layer of luan down and the counter is gone. Progress at last! There might be a chance the Russians will history by the end of the week but I am afraid to jinx it so just go in my bedroom and close the door.


Light at the End of the Tunnel
The remodeling continues.
I have a toilet. Yeah!! Of course nothing is going the way "Vitali" would have hoped. First the floor is lower so he had to cut the toilet drain down to the floor which was messy to say the least. Then a plastic part broke inside the flush mechanism, luckily the super had the part. Now he is installing the pedestal sink and he just found out the floor is not level so he will have to shim the base. I looked up the sink on the web and found the Toto pedestal sink is pictured with the same faucet I chose.
Vitali is Gregori's main man and he stoically goes about his business and solves each problem in a methodical way.
I bought towels today and will get a rug, shower curtain and new toilet seat tomorrow while I am near BB&B. Those of you with out a Bed Bath and Beyond it is a one stop urban supplier for all the things for the NYC apartment. We couldn't live without it.
By the time Vitali left the sink was in and working a third layer of plaster is on the walls which are now ready for paint and we set the placement for all the towel bars glass shelves and even a four foot stainless shelf which sits high in the wall opposite the mirror so the door will clear under it. Supplies not needed every day will live there. A trip to the Container Store will fill that shelf with matching boxes.
By the time I get home from work the bathroom will be usable. Next the kitchen. The good news is Gregori wanted me to order the appliances today to be delivered on Tuesday. I know he is ready for this job to be done which is good for me. The faster the better.

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Love & Marriage

Two friends of mine waited three hours and got married in San Francisco yesterday. They have been a couple for many years and have the protection of same sex couple benefits but yesterday they were allowed to do what most people in America take for granted, they are “married”. I don’t want to go on too much about same sex marriage per say. With the divorce rate at 50% or higher in America the straight world should embrace anyone who wants to build a long term loving relationship with another person.
What I really want to talk about is way our President has defined the argument. He and his Christian right government talk about the “tyranny of judiciary “.. He has decided that the judiciary branch of the government is the enemy. In other words the executive branch wants to rule without the benefit of the courts. This is a direct assault on the way we govern ourselves. The last time Bush used the word tyranny he bombed the crap out of Iraq. Take a look at the judges Bush has put forward. Charles Pickering, Priscilla Owen, Miguel Estrada these people are right wing ideologues looking to use their judgeships to put forward a Christian fundamentalist view. They openly oppose abortion, same sex marriage and will support the executive branches abuse of privacy. There is no difference between the Bush administrations stacking of the judiciary with religious zealots and the Imams controlling the Iranian government.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, said.
"We are pushing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. We're working on one, we're trying to bring everybody together," he said. "When you have a runaway judiciary, which we obviously have, that has no consideration for the Constitution of the United States, then we have available to us through that Constitution [a way] to fix the judiciary."
This no less than an attempt to circumvent the legal system which does not fit their view of morality.
I think we should all be thankful for Mayor Gavin Newsom's brave and historic dictum to allow same sex marriages.

Now I know most of you waiting with bated breath for the latest report on the remodeling. Well the toilet just got hooked up and I am hoping for a working sink by the end of the day. I’ll update the work latter this evening.

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Thank You and Good Bye Dr. Dean

Just a quick political note before I get back to the report on the remodeling. Last night I wrote the following to as many places on the Howard Dean web site; as I could find.

As a Vietnam veteran I will be voting for the man who not only fought in Vietnam but led the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Your campaign is over. You have done well now go home."

Today we wake up to hear he will announce the end of campaign. Do I think he listened to me? Of course not but each message is tallied. Whether you write your congress person or the White House, be sure to state your position right up front and keep the message short. Basically you will be sending a pro or con message and it will be counted as such if you keep it brief.

Howard Dean was good for the party and made the race interesting and has kept the Democratic Party in the headlines. It is now up to Kerry and Edwards to continue the dialogue and make the case against what I feel is the most dangerous administration since Eisenhower. Eisenhower allowed South America to be plundered by corporate thieves and threw out Iraq’s last chance for democracy by supporting coup that put the Shaw in place. Now the Bush administration has turned Afghanistan into a mire and lied to the American people to start a war that was planned long before 9/11.
Can Kerry win it? It will be a long hard road and the Christian Right will be fighting with all their efforts. But the fight has to at least define the position against a government of ideologues.

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Day 10 Tuesday 2.17.2004

Its 4:45 and Sasha just left. He’s in a little bit of trouble because it’s his wife’s birthday and he had hoped to get out early. But it turned out to be a long day in the bathroom. Today he had to fit all the floor tiles which are on a diagonal and cut the wall tiles around all the pipes. To finish it off he set the threshold before he left. The threshold is the best part, Gregory bought a black and green marble threshold that looks so classy next to the green tiles. He usually uses gray marble but he knew this was a great finishing touch.
Gregory took me to the paint store where I got the usual primer and decorators white but for two walls I am using Benjamin Moore #1583 a light celadon, it’s just enough to pick up the color of the floor.
It seems like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Sasha will do the grout in the morning then the plasterer will do his second coat and then the painting after that all the appliances and towel bars etc. It could be a bathroom by the end of the week.


Day 9 continued

The toilet is now sitting in the tub and the floor tiles are being laid. They really look great. Sasha is at the point of fitting them around the toilet and the pipe for the tub cut off. Slow work but he is good and meticulous. With the toilet out I am off to stay in Manhattan with friends. Back in the AM to buy paint and see the progress.
Day 9 Monday 2/16/04

It’s the little things.

Sunday was a day off so I won’t count it as a day. It was a good time for me to look at the work and make a few notes. The fact is that no one will know the room as well as you. The crew certainly knows how to do their job but they have tunnel vision. Ultimately I am the designer on the job and the general contractor is not on the site through the entire process so I need to watch all the details without slowing the work down.
The kitchen and bathroom share a common wall. I saw that the electric outlet that the fridge and stove plug into was right in the hole where the medicine cabinet goes. There is a range hood going in over the stove and it needs electricity. Now is the time to run that power BEFORE the medicine cabinet is screwed into place. Alec showed up a little after Sasha and he understood immediately that now was time to run the power so when we start the kitchen that wall will not have to be opened up. It got done and power to the medicine cabinet is now run. There is still the issue of the bath not draining. When the demo was done the drain got plugged up. I won’t be happy till that is fixed. Anyway the cabinet is now in place and the door is being hung. Hopefully Sasha can get back to the tile work in another hour or so. It’s 10:30am.


Day 7 Friday 2/13
I hadn’t realized it was Friday the 13th and the day went reasonably smoothly. The tiles and Gregory showed up as planed a little after 2pm. The tile man is Sasha and he has less command of the English language than the rest of the crew. Between Gregory, Sasha and myself we came up with a plan for getting around the medicine chest and I have asked for dark baseboard or “saddle” that matches the floor to go over the white tile on the sink/toilet wall. It’s a little unconventional but will look finished when it’s all done. Even with no language between us Sasha and I convinced Gregory it was the right solution. So Gregory is off to other jobs and Sasha starts the tile. I am thrilled to see this phase started.
It is great to see the choices I made in the show room look good together. I stuck my neck out when choosing the floor tiles they are a green and black sort of “agate” look. They have a bit of texture so I won’t go sliding across all five feet of bathroom floor. Did I mention the bathroom is tiny?

Day 8 Saturday 2/14.
Sasha has got most of the whole pieces on the wall of the tub surround by noon. After his lunch, they all carry Tupper Ware lunches and tea, he is starting on all the cuts around the faucets and nozzles.
I spent the morning at the container store and Bed Bath & Beyond scoping out new towels, storage boxes and shower curtains. I should have a scrap of the floor tile to take with me in the next day or two. I managed to get out of both stores with only a $5 trash can but will have to bite the bullet soon and buy all the stuff when we get closer to completion. With the green of the floor I think the towels, rug and shower curtain will be sage or celadon. The wall color will also be celadon with the wall opposite of the mirror staying white. Of course I’m getting ahead of myself. I think the walls and floor will take through Monday.


The Walls Came Tumbling….UP!!!

Day 6 Thurs. 1/12
It’s 12:30 and walls are all closed up and the cement board is going down for the floor tiles. It’s so much better now that the walls are closed I can almost sense that a bathroom will exist here in a few days. These boys don’t mess around.
There is of course plenty to do. Next the floor gets tiled then the tub surround and sink wall gets tiled and then all the “accessories” get placed. Each tiling job has wait times involved so things will speed up then come to a sudden halt. I decided to put a grab bar in the shower. I may not need it now but I think it will be a safety feature that is better added now rather than latter.
There is a little delay in that the floor tiles will not be delivered till tomorrow at 1pm. They could have started the floor today but all is well and the half day wait won’t hurt that much. It’s a bit anti climatic, the room still looks like a construction site and the hallway into the apt. is still piled with tools, plaster, workmen’s cloths and the pieces and parts yet to be installed, but today was a good day.
On another note it is freezing here in NYC but a small ray of summer just showed up in the mailbox. The mooring permit arrived for ”Peregrine”. This is always a welcome sign that Oyster Bay will indeed thaw out and sailing and lounging about in the sun is coming.

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Ah… The life of a home owner.

The following is brief description of the remodeling that will go on in my apt for awhile. Since it is a major factor in my life I’ll let it take space in the blog.
The remodel includes a total redo of the bathroom from the floor up and just the floor new counter, sink and appliances in the kitchen.

Remodel Diary

Day 1 Thurs. 2/5
The Russians have landed!
Gregory said they would show up at 8:30 so of course they showed at 7:50 while I was still in the shower. I let them in and they started covering the floor and taping up plastic while I finished my shower.
The ordeal has begun!!
By the end of the day the bathroom was rubble with all the walls exposed to the studs and the ceiling out.

Day 2 Fri. 2/6
One lone Russian had the sad task of finishing the demo by himself. The job was done by 3pm and Gregory showed up and pronounced the job “good” the bathroom however looked like a bomb went off. I am now living in a wrecked bathroom and the rest of the apt encased in plastic to keep the dust at bay. It will be a long weekend.

Day 3 Monday 2/9
The plumber showed up and started to rough in new copper with new fittings and cut off valves. All was going well when the super Adam shut off the water to the toilet and the pipes were cut. When Adam restored the water we had a flood from above. The toilet in 5A overflowed when the water went back on. Adam had to break into the apt and fix their toilet that was not draining before they start work again. My bathroom was soaked but since the walls were out there was nothing to get damaged. I worried about the apt below because she has worked so hard to make her apt a showcase.

Day 4 Tues. 2/10
No issues with the apt below so work continues the plumbing is roughed in and the new framing is starting. It’s great to see the new work starting. After another discussion about putting the medicine cabinet in the wall I pull the cabinet out of the box and insist that be set into the wall. I ran off to work at noon and let the Russians do the work.

Day 5 Wed. 2/11
I am now staying with friends as the bathroom has little or no function. I returned this morning to find just one workman putting up the cement board. It is 10am and the ceiling is up and the tub wall is rocked. The GFI plug is in the middle of the blank space I want to put shelves in so after a bit of explanation it will be moved next to the medicine chest which is in and set well into the wall. It’s important to see each detain so changes can be made easily as you go.



$350 Later

Now that I am a home (apt.) owner I’m sure this is just the first of many such sagas.
I awoke Monday to find the power off in most of my apt. Only the kitchen and bathroom had power. Thanks for small favors. After determining it was not the building I got a couple of young Russians in to find the problem. Of course they couldn’t show till 7:30 pm and at 9pm they still had no idea where the problem was so I sent them home to return in the morning.
They came at nine and took up where they left off and by noon had all the power on and all new outlets installed. Between them they had about 15 words they could speak in English and I only know “Da” and “Niet”. For the longest time I didn’t hear very many “Da”s only “Niet’s”. But they went about their business. They saw last night that I don’t where shoes on the carpets so they took their shoes off without being asked and Alec brought flip flops to wear today. They worked fast and cleaned up. Nice guys.
It did cost $350 but with 5 hours work for two guys and the hardware it’s not great but not horrible. They were sent by the contractor who will start the remodeling of the bath and kitchen so I was glad to see good workers show up. I will have them wire the track lighting and other fixtures instead of doing it myself because if there is a problem they can find it. The wiring here is from the sixties and pretty out dated so it’s best to pay a few bucks and have it working well.
Ahhh….. the life of a home owner!