Category Archives: doggy dreamhouse?



SOMEthing is done.

I know it’s only a small cog in a much bigger wheel, a tiny part of the larger whole, but it’s done and I never have to work on it again.

By it, I mean the outside stairs. The deck isn’t done and the railings aren’t installed but the steps themselves are DONE, baby.

Woo-Hoo. The Little House of Horrors has steps. No more humping shit up a ladder.

I rest my weary head in my exhausted arms and weep.

Until Phabulous Phil and his crew arrive to install the front door and the windows.

As he’s walking up my newly finished, slightly cherished stairs, he checks the tread overhang with a tape measure he’s carrying.

Inspector Dickhead’s gonna ping you on the treads he says.

WTF? Why?

You gotta have 3/4″ overhang and you only have 5/8″. Sorry dude he says and keeps going up to the stairs.

I stare up at what my life has become for a long, long, time.

You call that a deck?

My brother and me made some progress last weekend.

I know little brother had wanted to help me build the whole deck but a man’s gotta know his limitations and I certainly know him and ours when we get together and theres beers involved, so I’d asked Phabulous Phil to put the rest of the girders and the deck joists up last week leaving my brother and me free to concentrate on the decking and the stairs and I was dreaming about all the concrete I get to hand-mix this weekend when-

weather alert weather alert weather alert weather alert weather

-my phone rang. WHERE ARE YOU?? the currently-out-of-town Miss Carol shrieked. THE KILLER STORM IS HEADED YOUR WAY she screamed. I had no idea what’d been going on. I’d been blissfully working away doing my thing. ARE CUTTER AND TUG OK???? CALL ME AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME!! she wailed and hung up.

Mr. Antic and Mrs. Frantic punched me in the face.

My blissfulness burst bubble-like and I ran to MR.GREENE. hurling myself homeward in a souped up hip-hop, mostly profane, sprint for home to save the maybe cowering storm ravaged Cutter and Tug. I cussed everything.

And as I drove I did the usual dickhead shit.

I rode peoples bumpers with all my lights on high until they moved over, giving me the middle finger “you’re Number One” salute and smoking tires at stoplights like a doped up teenager racing his first hopped-up-testosterone-laden kiddie car.

Yup. I was that marginal guy you want to empty a clip into.

And I got home, and I walked the sodden dogs in the drenching rain and took a shower and it all stopped and the sun came out at sunset and I realized with a stupid giddiness I’d survived yet another non-event and how wonderful it is to be alive and I thought I’d just grab another coldie when-

weather alert weather alert weather alert weather alert weather

– I remembered how much concrete I get to hand-mix this weekend. So anyway.

Where was I?

Bogged down.

I knew the big bog down was comin’ up ’cause it’s just me now, but I didn’t think it’d be this bad.

Phabulous Phil and his crew are waiting on windows so they can side the house and finish drying it in. I’ve been working on the window quote for weeks now, trying to juggle building code and DP ratings and manufacturers pricing ineptness.

Even the ever ebullient Miss Carol tried to help and finally caved, cursing.

I mean, who knew guv’mint could make simple shit this hard?

Everybody put your hands down.

Finally, though, the window angels sang their clarion call and all the various codes and ratings and seemingly endless minutiae coalesced and the window package is finally ordered. Can I get a woo-hoo?

So anyway-that’s why I haven’t done an update on The Little House of Horrors-it’s boggin’ baby.

I’ve been working six days a week for the last month or so, leaving only Sunday to try and get something done on The Little House of Horrors.

But Sundays are when Miss Carol wants to make us brunch and because keeping Miss Carol happy is always a good thing, that shortens up Sunday. Add to that shortening up picking up the generator from Phabulous Phil and any materials I need from Home Depot and an hour’s drive in each direction and all the sudden I’ve got about three hours to get anything done, and that’s if I’m out the door by sixish.

So yeah, progress is very slow and very lame and fully sheathed in LOTS of cursing and hatred for The Little House of Horrors.

But that’s all supposed to change this weekend. I’m taking Friday and Saturday off and my little brother and his little cupcake and his kids are coming down and we’re supposedly gonna get the deck built.

I hold out hope. But.

Normally when my brother and I get together everything needful just kinda dissolves into laughter and seemingly endless beer drinking. We rarely get together, which is probably a good thing, but when we do? We rock.

So we’ll see.


I didn’t want to do it.

I didn’t want to lose my great big windows. I mean, hell, I’d designed The Little House of Horrors around my great big windows.

I loved my envisioned big huge gliders and the unobstructed view they’d provide and I didn’t want to have to change them out for smaller windows. I especially didn’t want to fuck with the view from the kitchen.

But I had to.

We got the quotes back on the smaller single hung windows and it was a pppffffffttttt decision. If the difference had only been a couple of hundred bucks or maybe even a thousand or so, I would’ve fought mightily for my big beautiful gliders. I’d’ve impressed upon Miss Carol the importance of choosing what to scrimp on and what not to scrimp on in our dream house The Little House of Horrors. I would’a. Really.

Unfortunately the smaller windows are waaaay less. Like six thousand George Washingtons less.

So, um, yeah.

My big huge gorgeous gliders became a rapidly fading memory and yesterday I rapidly went down to The Little House of Horrors and rapidly re-framed all the windows.

I mean, it’s not bad. The view is still there and all, it’s just a little more prison-ey looking. A little more grid like. But ya know what? For six grand I can live feeling fenced in. Hell, for six grand I can do a whole lot of things.

So, yeah. We changed them all out. By we I mean, you know, ME.

In the bathrooms I decided that instead of a big window in the shower

I’d close the opening down from three foot by six foot to two foot by six foot and install glass block for privacy.

Speaking of which, as it turns out, privacy was one of the unintended results of the great glider compromise.

We have total privacy now.

It’s kinda cool and actually kinda sexy feeling. All of the windows that face the road are five feet above the floor and are only two feet tall. They’re wide, they let in lots of light, but not prying eyes.

Which means Miss Carol can walk around topless if I can ever talk her into it.

Ooh baby, baby.


Ya know, unless you have a rich daddy paying for it, or lots and lots of unlimited laundered money, building a house is an endless stream of compromises.

And since our laundered money is severely restricted to the size of our savings account and because we don’t have a rich daddy we’re finding the endless compromises to be endlessly challenging. Our shifting dreams rarely play nice with our concrete realities.

Take the windows for example.

The house, as originally drawn, had eleven windows, most of which were biggish gliders on the south side of the house overlooking the Sound. I got a couple of quotes on the window package way back when for our budget, and then forgot all about it. It was done, right?

Um, not so fast there, Mr. DumbShitVirginHouseBuilder.

Come to find out, adding that upstairs room shifted things I didn’t realize were being shifted. I had originally planned to build a little 1200 sq. ft. house on stilts. It had everything Miss Carol and me needed or wanted. Great views and two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Then I found out that there’s a 1600 sq. ft. minimum imposed by the silly homeowners association, so I added 400 sq. feet downstairs and just figured I’d do something with it at some point in time.

That’s when Phabulous Phil looked at my crudely drawn plans and suggested moving the downstairs to the upstairs.

Cost about the same, he said.

Just raising the roof in the middle of the house, he said.

Be a killer view, he said.

Hmmm. At least Phabulous Phil was right about the killer view. But. Unfortunately, by going up those additional 14 feet we moved into an entirely different realm window-wise.

Because we live in a coastal area prone to hurricanes our windows have to be rated tougher and stronger than non-coastal areas for insurance and code reasons. (Don’t even get me started on CODE. If I never hear that fucking word again, it’ll be waaaaay too soon) This hurricane-proofness is defined by the design and performance of the window construction, or the DP rating.

*doink*doink*doink* Anyone still awake out there? Hellloooooo.

Anyway. Because the DP rating is a function of building height, adding that upstairs room means we have to install windows rated at DP50 instead of DP35. A DP50 rated window will withstand winds in excess of 130 mph. Which means a coupla things.

One, it means if we EVER have a storm strong enough to generate 130 mph winds, the windows will be the only things left standing, hanging there in mid-air like the Chesire Cat’s smile in Alice in Wonderland.

And two, it means our window package went from $2500 to $8000. Fuck.

So. Yet another compromise.

We’re gonna have to downsize some of the windows and probably install two side-by-side double hung windows instead of the biggish gliders.

I wish I had a rich daddy.

Or maybe some more laundered money.


After the furious fun of Florida I was probably way overdue for a cold hard slap of reality.

And I got it.

When we were in Florida, in a weirdly provocative, probably drunken dream, I had dreamt that, while Miss Carol and me partied, swarms of little people had swarmed all over our house and finished it- you know, kinda like Ty Pennington and his crew had a coupla days to spare and had taken pity on me and my foolish dreams?

But nooooooo.

The Little House of Horrors was still waiting for me when Miss Carol and me got back. Still standing there, looking kinda school-marmish, hands on hips, scowling, and tapping one foot impatiently- come on dude, enough’s enough with the fun already, time to saddle up and ride, The Little House of Horrors said, You started all this with your biiiiig talk of ooooh-won’t-it-be-fun-to-build-a-house?  So hey, bring it. The Little House of Horrors said, You’ve talked the talk asswipe, now you gotta walk the walk, buddy-boy.

So I took a deep breath, wistfully remembered my dream briefly, braced myself, and took the cold hard slap as manfully as I could.

At least I didn’t cry.

But it was tough, man. We had flown back on Saturday and on Sunday morning I was meeting with the plumber, laying everything out so that they could get started during the week and after he left, I stayed at The Little House of Horrors and re-worked a bunch of the electrical rough-in.

A bit of backstory- originally we were going to have recessed lighting everywhere. It’s totally cheap, totally innocuous, and totally bleah. Recessed lighting really does nothing for me, except that, you know, did I mention it’s cheap? Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, I had roughed in all these fixtures, thinking, you know, WHATEVER. Cheap is good, right?

Then. Down in South Beach? In the room we stayed in for all of one wild ride of a night?

Sconces baby.

Warm, lowly lit, wall sconces everywhere. I gazed upon them rapturously while the angels sang to me and I knew we had to have wall sconces in The Little House of Horrors. F the recessed lighting and it’s coldly impersonal bleahness.

After a couple of cocktails I was able to convince Miss Carol just how desperately we needed wall sconces.

But I wasn’t able to convince her about the air brushed wall mural.


Little house of horrors.

Ah, dreams.

All along, I knew this would happen. I knew at some point we’d hit the wall.

I knew that the lusty fun of building a dream would slowly succumb to the reality of getting to pay for it and having to see it through to the end.

Shits like that.

Dreams at inception are magical elfin little things dancing around on the periphery, seductively luring you into stuff that the long haul slowly grinds into something you end up hating.

I knew this was gonna happen.

The truly fun way to build would be having enough money to pay everybody from architects to contractors to finishers and designers to build your little dream and paint and stock it with freshy goodness and let you walk into your squeaky new little house beaming broadly with the huge happiness that comes from not having had to work on any of it.

But that ain’t a happenin’ thing at Casa Oceandoggy.

Phabulious Phil and his crew are just about done and the house will be dried in-meaning the siding, the roof, and the windows and doors will be on or in. Rough shelter. You could live in it if you didn’t need running water or heat or toilets. Think plywood tent. Think trailer on fuck me pumps.

And then it’s just me to finish this baby.

Having spent 50K by dry in we’re approaching budget limits that let Miss Carol scream at me almost constantly, which is always nice.

I look up at it and think about the countless hours of my life I’m gonna spend getting it done and I wonder what the fuck I was thinking? I don’t have enough to do keeping my business afloat, writing a crappy blog, and trying to write a book?

And now I’m gonna spend every weekend for the rest of my life working on Casa Oceandoggy?

Dreams baby.

Update. Finally. Right?

Last week was gonna be the week My Brother and me were gonna put the deck up.

But The County and Mrs. Weakneed Engineer and Mr. Dickhead Inspector and everybody else that makes building a house a nightmarish breaucratic clusterfuck had other ideas.

Get this.

The County requires a nailing inspection before we cover the exterior. I’m not sure why, I’m kinda baffled by what The County thinks we might be using to hold this house together, but hey. You do as you’re told.

So we had the first one. For an hour and and half Mr. Dickhead Inspector stared at nails, making notes. Phabulous Phil kept looking at me, winking, going WTF? is with this guy?

So he had issues. You gotta realize- every time Mr. Dickhead Inspector can flunk me he can force me to cough up $50 for a re-inspect. Tiny money but gnat-like annoying.

So we fixed those issues and called for the re-inspect. And Mr. Dickhead Inspector found new issues. Gosh go figure. Some of the issues were things that he said had to be engineered before he could sign off on them. Do these guys drink together and dream up this shit or what?

Soooo. Instead of hitting Mr. Dickhead Inspector in the head with a hammer until my arm got tired and burying him in the bay, I called in Mrs. Weakneed Engineer. She’s a he but maybe only barely.

Short aside- Engineers are the folks with the knowledge, the know-how, the collegiate training to calculate all the shit that needs calculating to build stuff like bridges and skyscrapers and maybe, just maybe, a tiny 1600 sq. ft. house.

And so Mrs. Weakneed Engineer thought way long and way hard and came up with the engineering solutions necessary for us to satisfy Mr. Dickhead Inspector’s and The County’s overbearing wants.

And we did them. To the letter.

But before we could even call for the $50 re-inspect Mr. Dickhead Inspector called me to say he had problems with what Mrs. Weakneed Engineer was proposing. It just goes round and round, right?

Loooooonnnnngg story short? Mrs. Weakneed Engineer folded immediately and Phabulous Phil and I had to spend the weekend getting other opinions and forcing Mrs. Weakneed Engineer to come out to the site so that he, um she, could get a first hand look and honestly? she, I mean he, agreed with us and told us he’d (she’d?) re-do the engineering letter to The County and Mr. Dickhead Inspector.

So loooooooonnnnnnngggggg story shorter? My Brother and me managed to get up three (as in 3) girders for the deck. They are the pale fleshy white things hanging horizontal on the pilings in the picture.

It’s FUN building a house.

And just like that.

9 days after they rolled onto the property we’re framed. Phabulous Phil says we’re not dried in until we’re black (30# felt on the roof and walls) but I’m feelin’ pretty damn topped out and I’m hopin’ Phil’s gonna be flying his flag off the roof tomorrow.

It’s so goddamned amazing I’m fucking beside myself.

I mean, who says you can’t draw up your stupid dream on page after page of stupid graph paper? Huh? And who SAYS you can’t wear down county gov’mint ’til they finally acquiesce? Hmmmm? WHO SAYS???? HUH!  AND WHO-THE-FUCKALL-SAYS-YOU-CAN’T-MAKE-IT-HAPPEN????????


And who says you can’t throw yourself down in the muddy mess that will one day be a driveway and just revel and wallow and roll around in it and stare up at the bright blue sky and bright white scudding clouds and smell the fresh new lumber and squeeze your eyes shut and think-

It’s a house, baby.

Phabulous Phil.

I have to be careful here.

I don’t want to get all gay about Phil ’cause one of his kids might find this and read it to him and then he’d seriously kick my ass.

But ya know what? He’s flippin’ amazing.

I’m not sure if his son Nick and the boys work as hard as they do because they love and admire Phil and strive mightily to please him or if they’re terrified of an unhappy Phil.

Maybe some of both of it.

Whatever it is- Jesus monster they work their fucking lungs out.

A week ago Phil and Sideshow and Johnny and Crockett and Nick showed up and started framing our little hacienda.

Phil strode onto the scene of our lonely pile driven tapestry, settled on the motorcycle that is his company, started shit up and grabbing a handful of throttle, dumped the clutch and burned rubber, pushing his crew relentlessly.

Day after day he drove them mercilessly. And yet they didn’t seem to mind. Nick and the boys sprinted lumber and spat nails and made my poorly drawn feeble ass dream an amazing reality.

And they did it refreshingly happily. Day after grueling day.

I don’t know how Phil does it, but I want to bottle it and patent it.

I wanna say I love the Phabulous Phil but I don’t wanna get my ass kicked.