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March 28, 2008


All is quiet on the remodeling front, if not at this house. All the family was here for Easter and Dani and Charles and boys + friend Sam stayed on and will be here until next Tuesday. We have been looking at houses all over Bellingham. It is fascinating. First of all, you can certainly see the influence of HGTV shows because all of the houses were "staged" to show well. This is very different from 25 years ago when we bought here. As Don and I looked at houses, we wondered why someone didn't at least clean up the mess or put on one coat of paint to cover the flaws. Not any more -- or at least not in our limited experience. All owners had done their best to make their houses appealing. And, I saw lots of remodeling which seemed to be done without permits. I know some items were not up to code. I guess I'm getting an education from the experts working on my home.

We had to move the gas meter this week. Now we've moved both gas and electricity. Expensive but necessary. However, I came home from having dinner with friends to find Dani huddling in a blanket because it was very cold in the house. We have had snow flurries around here all week -- it is cold! Anyway, we called Cascade Natural Gas on their emergency line and someone came out at 1:00 a.m. and relit the system. He thinks it had a bubble of air that shut it off. I wonder if they ever relit it - but who knows? The only other new item is that my downstairs bathroom cabinets are in.

Not much else. I'm taking care of Nico who is napping while Dani and Charles take the other boys out to see two houses they liked. Both have expansive land and they thought James would really like to see the possibilities. They are hoping to move up to Bellingham in July. Charles will commute to Orange County to teach two days a week and also work for his friend, Scott, doing research on China. It is a step into the unknown, but they are excited about making a change. And, of course, I'm not a bit sad to have my grandsons in Bellingham!!!

Posted by Marilyn at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2008


If I have many more days like yesterday and today, I may decide that I don't have enough energy for remodeling. Actually, all of it is peripheral to the remodeling -- but necessary for getting the house in shape. Yesterday I went from 8:00 a.m. until time for bed with one occurance after another. Between Larry and Mike helping to load stuff out of my basement for the church rummage sale (I got rid of my big Christmas tree and swing set), a guy coming to talk about trims, both Tom and Debbie in separate meetings about my project, Kay coming over to get some clay pots for Master Gardeners, and during all this, Jim was putting molding in my upstairs bathroom and I had to make cookies for church. Today began the same way -- I emptied all my closets between the bedroom and bath to get ready to paint. Tom showed up with the guy from Cascade Gas who has to move the meter (to the tune of $1000) and another guy to look at extending my heating system to the new rooms. After running the cookies to church, I felt overwhelmed by the painting job ahead so I called Keith and asked him to come paint with me. He did and we got almost all of it done in no time. Now, after a bath and Judy delivering some dinner, I feel almost human --if pooped.

It seems like the subcontractors have descended with so many different decisions - deck railings, heat, finishing off the trim, moving gas meters (now we've had to move both gas and electricity), stair railings, flooring, carpet, paint colors. and I'm still finishing off my big cleanout of the basement so that I can store stuff when they begin my kitchen. Everytime someone comes over, I ask them to carry something heavy upstairs, downstairs, outside -- wherever it needs to go. Re-store came and picked up lots of old items for me -- but I need to still get rid of the old wood burning stove which weighs a ton. I can't say how wonderful it is to get things all cleared out -- but right about now, I wish I were in Hawaii wading in the warm water and basking in the sun. But, each day is a new day and Easter is on the horizon. Dani and Charles and boys arrive on Saturday and what is done, is done. Life is good even when chaotic.

Posted by Marilyn at 5:23 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2008

Mistakes Again

I was rereading the previous entry (I can never remember what I said more than an hour later) and began thinking about mistakes. My friend and namesake, Marilyn G., and I drove around after church (after lunching at the Olive Garden) and looked at houses that are pleasantly painted. Actually, Marilyn gave me a tour of the houses that she has been admiring -- and they were lovely. As a feeling (as opposed to an analytical) person, it takes such energy for me to understand what makes something come together so artistically. It is not because I'm not discerning -- in fact, I'm really very picky about what I like. But, I have difficulty knowing how to get there.

Also, I like so many different styles. If my house were not 98 years old, I would definitely have an all white kitchen with bright splashes of art all around. But, my house has cabinets that are old, and I want keep true to its character. Donel would have been a happy camper to live in a cantilevered house with Eames chairs and contemporary art. I don't know how he would have reconciled that starkness with his hoarding instinct. I like people to walk into my house, sink into overstuffed chairs, and chat over a cup of tea. My friend, Ann Wood, has that kind of a house -- so very inviting -- you never want to go home. I don't particularly like clutter (although you would never know that at the moment), but I do like comfort.

Where am I going with these wanderings? I'm not sure, except that I said that I don't want to make mistakes -- and yet making choices while balancing budget with materials, style and color, availability and practicality is simply overwhelming. I feel so totally out of my element. I can trust Debbie and Tom to help me, but I have to be able to communicate what I want (or even KNOW what I want) or trust them to be mind readers. I don't want to have to tell them after the fact that I got it wrong. No, I've decided that was not what I wanted -- can't we do it again????

This is the scariest part of the whole adventure for me. Donel avoided doing things around the house because he was so fearful of making mistakes while cutting a piece of wood or installing an appliance. He felt that he could never live up to his father's high standards. I used to give him a bad time about it. But, here I am saying the same thing. Not about my carpentry or my mechanical ability -- just about making the best choices.

And, really! Isn't this all plain silly? What a gift to be able to make choices at all. It's a crazy obsessive world that tells me that I should strive for an even more beautiful home. Who on earth cares if my house is perfect? I should be grateful that I have a lovely roof over my cluttered head, that I am truly blessed compared to much of the world, and that I am able to obsess over blue or green walls in the first place. Sometimes I have to stop and think about what takes my time and attention away from the really important things in life. It's good to be reminded now and then -- and to become more appreciative of my great wealth.

Posted by Marilyn at 4:35 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2008

Ho Hum!

I was delighted to know this week that a few friends actually join my family in reading this blog. It makes me feel guilty that long stretches go by without any entries. That is because the only activity is in my head. I have been drinking in lots of lighting advice -- from a couple of lighting experts, from Mike the electrician, from Tom and from friends. I need to get Debbie into the mix next -- if only to give me more to think about. I really do not relish this state of indecision about matters that are confusing at best. Tom and crew are elsewhere for awhile -- and awaiting Mike's electrical wiring so that the insulation and the drywall can be installed. Tom did arrange for the vinyl guy to pay for half a new deck off the pool room -- as his people dripped glue onto my new Trex. So, I presume I will see someone fairly soon to replace the deck -- and then Tom is gathering bids for railings. I feel like I'm treading water waiting to decide whether to swim north, east, south, or west. I'm getting tired of treading water.

I'm making slow progress on the trim for the hall off of my bathroom, have a new floor to match the paint for the basement bathroom and I have finally finished organizing the basement and put boxes aside to go through in my spare time. So, on some fronts I have been very busy while simply thinking about others.

One of my worries is that I will make mistakes -- but everyone who remodels says, "Yes, you will!" But, I don't want to. I guess you cannot go through this process without making some bad calls -- hopefully the team will help keep those to a minimum. I can't let that stop me from making decisions, however, or I'll never make one for fear of it turning out wrong. I don't know if making decisions with Donel would have been easier or harder. I would have had to compromise more. Of course I could blame him for things I didn't like. I know - that isn't fair. But, nevertheless, a very human personal trait. I really miss sharing this experience with him. I miss his support and his wonderful creativity and his sense of humor. Yes, I really could use his sense of humor about now.

Posted by Marilyn at 4:59 PM | Comments (0)

March 3, 2008

A Milestone

We have reached a milestone with the back of the house. The outside is almost done. All the siding and trim are finished and we have only a few things left to do -- the Trek stairs, the railings which we are still pricing out, and the painting which won't come until closer to summer. But those are all subcontractors so my crew is off on another job for a short while. The next move is inside, but even that cannot be done until the electrician finishes so we can put in the insulation and the wall board. We talked about finishing the upstairs and leaving the downstairs unfinished while the kitchen and the breakfast room get done -- so the guys will have somewhere to work and leave all their stuff (remember, it RAINS here!). So, I'd say I'm really on the precipice of remodeling, stage two.

Tom still has to work things out with the lower deck guy who has not called him back. I guess he will when he gets hungry. Anyway, I'm going to have dinner and a glass of wine to celebrate coming this far in my journey. Now the round of decisions will begin to show -- colors, carpet, flooring, lighting -- all the things that I will have to decide. I will again be overwhelmed -- but I've come this far -- hey, I can do anything!!!

Posted by Marilyn at 5:32 PM | Comments (0)