May 31, 2008
If I'm going to really and truly capture the highs and lows of this remodel, I will have to admit that I practically fell apart this week. It is not just the remodel -- it's the remodel on top of everything else that is going on in my life. The myriad of decisions this week, wrapping up the final three weeks of teaching and all the papers due, checking out houses for Dani and Charles, and mostly being very sad about our friend, Tom Hunter, who is failing rapidly and who doesn't deserve to have such a horrible illness. Thinking of Tom on the third anniversary of Don's death is not something I wanted to do -- but I can't keep him out of my mind.
All these things that I can handle separately seemed to come together and hit me physically. Charles told Dani that I was an air traffic controller who had too many planes landing. I was a wreck. After last weekend, I found that crowds were more than I could handle, I had trouble keeping up with my obligations without feeling resentful, and I began feeling highly anxious and a bit dizzy. I tried to ignore it for a few days, and finally took myself off to the doctor worrying all the way and imagining all the things that could be wrong. After answering no to a litany of symptoms, the doctor prescribed a short-term light tranquilizer (which, if you knew me, you would know that having it in my cupboard will feel as good as taking it). I went back in for a blood test the next morning which was normal except for one part of the Cholesterol that was elevated a bit.
I still felt weird for a day or so, but today felt more normal and then another part of my world crashed! My hard drive on my computer went belly up. I lost everything! So, I have no calendar, no financial records, no files of pictures, no file of past writings, on and on and on. Fortunately, I am organized enough to have hard copies of all my curriculum and I keep really good financial files which I suppose I can now pull out and put my finances back in some sort of order. I'll probably miss showing up someplace because I have no dates down and no birthdays recorded. I do have my address book and my newest writings on my laptop. How in the world did I ever live so long without a computer which both made my life so much easier and yet is responsible for me losing so much?
Since it seemed like the last straw, I picked myself up after that news and took myself to a romantic movie and out for Thai food. And, guess what? On the way to Thai food I saw the most amazing sky -- it was all red and golden and miraculously beautiful! I felt a presence and knew that it would all be OK.
May 30, 2008
It's Quiet Today
It's quiet around here this morning and I have no clue where the workers have gone. Usually they tell me if they are not going to be here. Perhaps they are coming later. We're rather in limbo anyway. The wallboard guy is in the middle of painting the back rooms and we're waiting for him in the kitchen. We need to order doors for the breakfast room and to reconfigure the steps up from the front of the house because they are too steep now. Yesterday I was without heat and didn't know if it was an electrical or plumbing problem. I turned it over to Tom and we found that the plumber had neglected to turn the furnace back on after he worked on it on Tuesday. He was probably mad at me because I had been rather abrupt with him. There are just some days when I cannot worry about another thing so I told him to solve his problem without worrying me about it. Charles came up with a good analogy -- he said to Dani, "Your mother is like an air traffic controller who has too many planes landing right now." And, he is right.
My main computer crashed this morning. Hopefully, Martin's friend, David, can come over this weekend to see if he can do anything. If not, I can only hope that my backup system has worked and that I can retrieve all my information. If not, I guess I'll go back to the Dark Ages and remember how we lived when we could not put our fingers on information on a moment's notice. It will be extremely inconvenient, but not impossible. At least my new Apple laptop has the capability of switching over to Windows if necessary. Let's hope that Dave can work his magic first.
May 28, 2008
Today was Mike, the electrician's, birthday and his present was a pass from the electrical inspector! I can't believe how much wiring he has in my kitchen and how he has tucked all the old wiring in the ceiling above the breakfast room. The inspector was impressed. I told Mike that his work was very tidy and he said that was because it had to be in order to pass inspection. So much is going on around here that I can hardly keep my head straight.
One of Mike's big concerns was that the inspector was going to tell us to put a special kind of fire detector in all the rooms -- evidently that happens sometimes and then they have to open up the ceiling in every bedroom and put in more fire detectors than most people want or need -- it is very expensive. It all has to do with the percentage of your home you are remodeling. However, the inspector simply said that the battery detectors will do since we didn't remodel the bedrooms.
Today we had workers coming and going. The emergency plumber from a few week's ago came to fix the problem permanently and the part he brought did not fit right. He tried to tell me all about it, but I just told him that I didn't want to know. I just wanted him to go away and get the right part and fix the radiator. I just cannot worry about another decision that someone else can make. I went all over town looking for a pot filler that was in stock somewhere because Tom would like it to be here for the plumber asap. But, I never found one that I could live with or that was a reasonable price. I'll extend my search to Mt. Vernon tomorrow. I haven't tried Lowe's or Home Depot yet.
So many of my decisions are so small they are not worth even reporting. This morning I decided to have Whatcom Flooring put oak on the two steps into the lower living room. I found out from the carpet guy that it was going to cost me $250 just to wrap the stairs in carpet. The wood guy said it would hardly be more than that to add the nice wood. Such as small space and such a big decision. Yesterday I decided to get a full size refrigerator and a regular dishwasher instead of a counter depth refrigerator and two drawer dishwasher. Not exciting, but the thought process behind each decision was made after talking to a variety of people, reading Consumer Reports, thinking, thinking, thinking, measuring, and thinking again until finally deciding.
I gave the color samples to Tom this morning for both back rooms -- so we are close to getting colors on the wall. Then comes the trim and I'm about ready to order the carpet for the lower living room. They are ready to deliver the oak flooring. I expect that the two back rooms will be almost finished in a couple of weeks. Speaking of color, I was going to repaint the house a darker grey with white trim. But, I keep looking at the pale yellowish-beige of the Hardy Board and think it looks refreshing. Maybe I'll paint the house that color and give it a whole new lift. Unfortunately, it won't happen overnight since I'll only be able to paint the new stuff first and then the rest over time.
Tom installed the duct for the fan above the stove today. It is handy to have open ceilings, but I'm sure that he will be glad that the inspector has given a thumbs up so he can begin closing things up and building cupboards. We're still fiddling around with talking about the finishing of the cabinets. I did some cleaning of them on Sunday, but decided that we should lightly sand them first. Somethings just go smoothly with easy decisions, and some things sort of wiggle their way through as we make up our minds just a bit more each day.
Tomorrow is a new day -- sometime soon I hope to have something new to photograph.
May 24, 2008
This morning there was an explosion that was very loud and I quickly went all over the house to make sure it was intact! My neighbor, Andy, had electricity but had heard the explosion and seen a flash by the power pole. I checked and couldn't find any other neighbors who had lost their electricity. Is it my fault? Had Mike, the electrician, somehow done something wrong? After calling the electrical company, I felt better. Others had called to report the outage and they were on their way.
Now my power is restored and I wonder how it is that since this remodel began I have had a power outage and a flood. When it rains????? I do know that I was paranoid that it came from my house. I guess when things are out of whack, everything seems abnormal and related. But, sometimes there are just coincidences. I must take advantage of this three day weekend and the absence of workmen to relax my vigilance and pretend that life is normal. I hope I can.
May 23, 2008
My Little Bay Window
I just have to show you my little bay window. Now, if we are not forced to remove it by the inspector, I expect to sit next to my window and have tea every morning with the sun shining into my breakfast room and the blue water just a short distance away. I'm not supposed to have a bay window. Even though the property line is 5 1/2 feet from my structure, my neighbor's property encroaches on the line with the overhang of her ugly carport. So, Debbie was originally told, "Nothing built out on the little room." However, Tom found this little bay which only comes out 8" and doesn't even reach the edge of the eaves! We have had such a lovely inspector, we are keeping our fingers crossed that he will hardly notice. I am so excited!
May 21, 2008
Some Electrical Pictures
Part of my education in this remodeling is learning to name things correctly. So, I can now call my old electrical system a nob and tube system. There are now new wires all over the kitchen ready for installation. There is a new box in the basement and soon the box will be out of the old back porch. I will post a few pictures today.
May 20, 2008
Mike, the electrician, came today to begin the electrical work in the kitchen. Ann from Village Lighting will be here Thursday morning for consultation purposes. As Mike gets the wires in, we can begin building cabinets so the kitchen will start to take shape. It is quite a task to take all the old circuits and replace the ones that are possible to replace. The kitchen will have new wiring and Mike will extend that new wiring into all the other parts of the house that he can reach through the open ceilings and the open chimney -- but he will have to isolate old wires and find out what outlets they control. He has already installed a new electrical box for the entire house -- but he will put a smaller one in the basement to serve the kitchen and wherever else he can reach. The rest of the house will still have the old wires -- and that means putting no insulation in the walls where the old wires reside. The reason they are still viable is that they have been untouched. Mike seems very positive about it all -- although he did admit that he has been thinking about it for some time. I think that electricity is the only unknown left regarding the kitchen -- we just didn't know what we were getting into -- but once the electricity is solved, we have no place to go but towards the finished product. That is so satisfying because it is scary to wonder what is behind old walls and ceilings. To find the place intact is enough to lift the spirit!
One thing I have learned this week is that the mess and confusion move on and everything seems to get ironed out with time. You'd think I would have learned that in all my years of living, but I still get stranded in the middle of the muck. However, with time things get straightened out and life goes on. The trick is to get those feet moving again and stop wallowing. A new day is really a new day! And, even on these overcast days, it can feel sunny again!
May 19, 2008
I'm amazed at how much time I spend in meetings with my contractor. I'm also appreciative of the time that he takes to go over items with me -- sometimes many times. Today I asked my neighbor, Millie, to go over some ideas with me because I was on the fence and needed a second design opinion. She was very helpful. Then Tom and I talked over everything but the kitchen sink (literally!!!)! A furniture refinisher friend of Millie's came by and gave us some words of wisdom about my cabinets. I was relieved to find that it should be easy to match the new to the old. After he left, Tom and I continued our conversation about wooden floors, painting, wallboard, electricity, venting, ceilings, etc. On and on the list goes. Then, he brought up something I hadn't thought about -- the inside lining of the drawers. I never knew there was so much to think about in one kitchen. I'm grateful that he keeps me in the loop.
This took the whole morning -- and is the reason why I'm continually putting other things aside. At the moment this is where my head is -- and needs to be.
May 16, 2008
I love my new laptop which Martin equipped with news from the NY Times, Seattle Times and the Bellingham Herald. I can take it up to my bedroom with my tea and toast in the morning and read the latest news. I'm being lazy this morning. Evidently the crew is too, for it is 9:30 and I hear only Miles downstairs rooting around but not hammering anything. I've caught up with the news, ignored the NY Times Crossword because it is Friday, and done the daily Sudoku. It is finally beautiful weather, and I have a busy day when I would like to be gardening. More later!
It's now Saturday morning. One of the drawbacks about the long Washington days is that I begin waking up about 5:00. I am going to the Skagit Poetry Festival with my friend Barb this morning, so I'll briefly recap the last two days:
1) The plumber had to come back yet again to return the copper pipes and to take care of the problem that arose yesterday - no hot water in either bathroom! It is better, but not yet fixed. We may have to drain the hot water heater.
2) My neighbor's cat was lost and then found in my basement (evidently) -- got in when the workers were in and out.
3) New shower door in basement bathroom -- replacing the one that broke when it was being installed.
4) No sign of the wallboard guy or Mike, the electrician, on Friday (both were supposed to be here).
5) Tom went off sailing and Chas didn't show up - the advent of sun took its toll. I guess progress will have to wait until Monday when the weather gets colder.
6) I'm continuing my search for the best appliances for my kitchen and the exact colors I want. There are so many variables that one could go a bit crazy! But I persevere.
May 15, 2008
Last night I went to take a bath and the tub spewed out rusty water (not surprising because they were fiddling with the plumbing) but also did not drain at all. Big problem! Then, in the guest bath, the water pressure at the sink was very low. On top of that, the plumbers installed plastic piping to my water supply -- and removed the old copper. On top of that, I told them to leave the copper pipes that they removed from the kitchen bathroom, but I don't see them anywhere. I have another bathroom to install down the line. I want those copper pipes.
I have yet to catch Tom since he has gone out to pick up a shower door -- I'll talk to him when he returns. So, another nuisance of remodeling is having things that are not part of the remodel get broken. I have great faith that all will be put well, but it is still a nuisance factor. Millie has suggested that I go out to their Lummi retreat for a few days -- I think I will consider it -- but it might be difficult to find those few days. Maybe dreams of Lummi will get me through the plumbing saga.
May 14, 2008
Exile - Day 2
I'm back at Woods with my computer while demolition continues at the house. They decided to increase the height of the openings into the living room and perhaps take all the plaster off of the dining room wall that backs onto the kitchen. And then, they may not -- I gave my opinion and left it to Tom. The plumbers are back and have taken down the kitchen bathroom plumbing and are putting the pipes that run through the house closer to the wall. We'll have to have a false wall in front of some of the pipes since they are integral to the plumbing of the house. But, it seems that will work just fine. Since the bathroom and washing machine had water pipes right where my stove will be, it is a perfect opportunity to put a pot filler above my stove. Tom had not heard of one -- but the plumber is going to leave the ability to do that -- and then we can decide.
Tom called in a new plumbing company instead of the one I usually work with who have been singularly unresponsive unless I get in touch with the owner. I'm tired of being patient with them. These guys seem nice. On top of that, the plumber (another company altogether) who came out for my emergency a few weeks ago is coming back to put new fittings on the radiator. So, I have a plethora of plumbers at the moment.
Yesterday I came home to plumbers making their way through the house into all the bathrooms. The day before the deck railing guys were walking through and taking measurements. Now that the action has moved into the kitchen, I feel invaded. I think the invasion of privacy and the mess are the worst so far. I can see how this remodeling stuff can get to you. I wonder who these people are who have access to my home. Dani says that I'm naturally suspicious -- and now perhaps I'm paranoid. But, I slept fitfully last night wondering if someone was going to break through the thinly latched door out of the kitchen and steal my huge copper piping that is no longer needed in the bathroom.
It's rather amusing that I'm worried about safety when I've lived in the house for 1/4 of a decade without worrying about the broken door that went from the basement into the side yard. I think it is what you either put out of your mind or what you fixate on. In any case, I was glad that Katy was staying over last night so the two of us could take our pillows and beat the robbers over their heads before they made off with my pipe.
Enough nonsense for today!
May 13, 2008
I have run away from home. The dust and noise did it. There is a fine covering everywhere. What was once removed to the back of the house and separated by a barrier is now too close for comfort. I packed my bags (computer, writings, camera, cell phone, etc), told Tom to call me if they uncovered any dead bodies or sums of money, and drove to the waterside park and Woods Coffee House. Last time Charles was here, this was his place of work. People come with computers, meetings, trysts, etc. and it is lovely to sit and look at the water. The land is part of the park, but they leased it to the coffee house who built a beautiful northwestern structure and installed great tables, overstuffed chairs, and internet connections.
Since I arrived, I have procrastinated by calling Dani, made an appointment to see three houses for her this afternoon, chatted by email with Martin about my computer, written on this blog, and I'm running out of ways to avoid serious writing.
Today is the anniversary of Don's death and the Craswells have invited me to dinner. It is nice for them to remember (although Eulalah remembers everything!!!) Dani has attributed all my crankiness this past week to this coming event. Perhaps she is right. For a counselor who takes some pride on being tuned in to others, I can be terribly dense with myself. (I can also be dense with others when I'm not trying) Martin asked if I was thinking about Don. The fact is that I'm always thinking of him -- especially (as I've said before) during this remodel which he would have loved. I'm in the middle of picking appliances and he would have relished the chance to do all the research and give me his studied opinion. He would have had very strong opinions about so many things, but the graciousness not to expect me to always agree or follow his lead. I have no doubt that he is present and cheering me on.
Jeni gave me tea and chocolates for Mother's Day. How on earth did I raise such lovely people who know what I need when I need it. The fact is that I see the graciousness of their father in each one of them.
So, I'll enjoy this day of exile from all the hammering and dust. Perhaps I'll do a bit more research on appliances or go to the tearoom for lunch. Perhaps when I return home the piles of lath and plaster will be gone and the mess cleaned up. Perhaps the pipes will be gone and Mike will tell me that the old electricity is, indeed, safe. Perhaps they will find a stashed suitcase full of money! Perhaps this, too, will pass!
May 12, 2008
There is a fine coating of dust all over the first floor and drifting up to the second. I have a raspy voice and we have one more day of this before it settles and we can build instead of tear down. Plaster dust is awful -- even when the doors are closed and the plastic barrier is up -- it permeates everywhere. Fortunately, I have the piano well covered with blankets and plastic. But, it is just in the air.
The kitchen is almost down to the bare bones. There is an amusing little hole under the upstairs bathtub pipes which has probably been there since time began -- but otherwise the bones of the house look intact -- I'm so hoping they don't find any more problems. I'm a bit concerned about the old electricity -- but Mike is coming tomorrow to give a diagnosis. I spent the day looking at kitchen appliances and I'm trying to get a handle on colors for the new rooms and the outside of the house. I know generally which colors I want -- I just can't get the EXACT color chip so I know which color to order.
This is definitely the most chaotic time of a remodel regarding space. Things are so out of whack that I startle when I reach for something that is actually there! There are very few rooms that are as usual and too many that are partially finished. My study isn't too bad, although it is filled with lots of extra stuff. My bedroom and bathroom are lovely retreats, but I can't stay in bed all day (although I tried on Sunday). Katie just came home from teaching and asked me where she could find a dust mop -- and I said, "Beats me!"
Because I have truly ignored this house for so very long, people might think that I don't mind chaos. But, I really am a very controlling person. I like things in their place. If I am sick, I might even get up and tidy the bedroom so I can enjoy lying in bed. I want my dresser drawers to be tidy and I want to control how things are. For years, I've turned a blind eye to much of this house -- especially the kitchen. But, this is ridiculous -- it is beyond untidy. I think I need some lessons in Zen Buddhism or some kind of meditation to take me out of the environment and place me in a higher plane until this remodeling is done.
May 11, 2008
A Few More Pictures
Dani asked about the area to the left of the bathroom where the refrigerator and Skippy Peanut Butter cabinet was - so I've included a picture here. The part that sticks out is the back of the bathroom which cannot be removed before we get a plumber out to check on all the pipes. Also included are two pictures of the back rooms with wallboard and two of the temporary kitchen -- which, if I do say so myself, is not too shabby!!! Best view in the house.
May 10, 2008
My friend, Marilyn Gorsuch, is about to remodel her house. She is adding a second story and we have had many, many discussions about financing, watched the rates together, shared remodeling ideas, and grumbled about making reasonable choices to fit our budgets. Before I emptied my kitchen, I had the guys assemble two big Gorilla racks from Costco to store everything in the basement shop. Marilyn has no such luxury as a basement or storage space. She is tearing down her garage and having to move stuff out of one of her rooms, so she asked if she could store it at my house. She also bought a couple of racks and we put them next to my boiler against the wall. Today, she and her son, Peter, are moving all her boxes over to my house and her new racks (which she will then use in her new garage). While she is doing that, the guy who is installling the wallboard asked me if he could work on Saturday. So, he is pounding away on a usually quiet Saturday. I'm taking a door from my cabinets down to Hardware Sales who are going to tell me what kind of finish they have and how to remove it.
My promise to myself is to have a pretty quiet weekend so I'm spending most of my time recouping from last week. Fortunately it is too cold to garden today or I'd be tempted to spend time outside. When you go, go, go at top speed, it takes all your strength to slow down and give it up. I think I'll go to the Saturday Market and buy one of the beautiful hanging plants from the vendor that is there at the beginning of each summer. He only raises hanging plants -- and he sends me a postcard every year telling me the date he will be at the market and what he is charging this year. His baskets are filled with color that lasts from May through October. They definitely raise my spirits!
May 9, 2008
After such a rotten week of working my tail off and trying to handle the rest of my responsibilities, I am happy to say that I finished clearing out the kitchen, and the guys began tearing it apart. It is an understatement to say that I am elated. I no longer have to drag myself out of bed each morning and begin the physical regime of packing and toting boxes. Thank goodness Ron's niece, Madeleine, was looking for a bit of work. She packed and carried along with me. Today we finished the refrigerator, under the sink, and the cupboard in the bathroom that holds vases. The guys were on our tail -- taking off door fronts while Tom was putting up a barrier between the dining room and the kitchen. It has now turned from exhausting back to exciting. This is what I have been waiting for and thousands of unexpected dollars later, it begins! Already the kitchen looks bigger. Here are some pictures -- what looks beautiful to me probably looks like utter chaos to you. But, you are wrong.
May 8, 2008
A Little Night's Sleep Works Wonders
I must say that my spirits were higher this morning, but I'm still feeling a bit weighty. However, Pam came today and cleaned the upstairs and as much as the downstairs as she could navigate. I have to include a picture of the final time she will clean this particular kitchen as it is. She has done a marvelous job for many, many years -- she has kept the cobwebs and the grime to a minimum, given me a great deal of peace and freedom, and was one of Don's favorite people in all the world. He was always suggesting she raise her rates. Now she only comes every other week, but she hangs in there with just a few of us-- and I'm sure she'll be delighted with an updated and fresher kitchen. If I wasn't doing this for myself, I would do it for Pam!
The kitchen is now cleaned out and ready to demolish. I have some tasks around the house to continue storing items that I have plunked here and there -- but I'm ready to roll. Tom says it might take a month or so -- that is, if we do not run into difficulties. Hey, it's an old house! The wallboard goes up tomorrow and the first coat of paint to follow. Even in my exhaustion, I find myself grateful for what I have and what is to come.
May 7, 2008
OK, Now I'm Not Having Any Fun!!!!!
I am utterly exhausted. I've been working on clearing out the kitchen for this whole week and I can now see the end of the project, but it is really depressing. I am proud of many decisions I have made -- I've set up the porch in the second floor as a temporary kitchen. Whether or not it works is yet to be seen. But, it is equipped with a microwave, toaster oven, utensils, table and chairs, and a variety of other items to make life easier. It will certainly be quicker to get a cup of tea in the morning. But, it will be a pain to wash dishes -- I think I need to find a good old camping sink to use rather than the bathroom. Maybe I'll just stop eating. Seems easier. Ha!!! No such luck - I'll probably end up at McDonalds eating junk.
The kitchen is almost cleared out -- they moved the washing machine today so both the washer and the dryer are in the basement bathroom. The big racks I bought for the basement are filled to the brim with kitchen items, the trash man comes tomorrow and I'm afraid he is going to say my can is too heavy -- I surely hope not. I can't wait another week since I have bags lined up for it to be empty. I also have bags in the entry hall for the food bank, Goodwill, a friend, a neighbor, and more trash.
I hate this part! And, I'm grumpy. Everything seems dismal. Everyone annoys me. Maybe a good night's sleep will help. My body feels the 50 or so trips up and down stairs with boxes that I've taken in the past two days. Oh well, this too shall pass.
May 4, 2008
Heading Toward the Kitchen
If you walk into my house these days, you will stand and watch in amazement as worker bees fly back and forth over every available space. You can watch workers walk in and out of the front door, run up and down the stairs, carry stuff in and out, ask questions, yell answers, pop their heads in and out of crevices, haul buckets of bricks while Tom and I sit drinking tea at the dining room table and, with outward calm, talk over which windows to buy for the breakfast room. He pops up to answer his phone, direct traffic, greet the subcontractors, send people out to measure railings, floorings, stairs, and whatever else needs measuring on this particular day.
This is very different from when the work was closed off from the main living area. Once we began taking down the chimney and working on the breakfast room, the mood changed from that (usually) faint hammering afar off to mass chaos. The chimney is now down to the ceiling of the kitchen, my immediate neighbors have divided up the brick, others have queried about it, the roof has been patched where the two chimneys were removed, the insulation is in, Chas put together two Gorilla racks for me to use for kitchen item storage in the basement, 1-800-GotJunk took away my old paper burner in the basement for a price, Eulalah and Keith boxed some of my dishes and I'm working to clear out my upstairs porch to turn it into a temporary kitchen.
I'm traveling at the top of my ability to be efficient, stopping now and then to be in the real world, to take care of my Skagit Community Coilege class, to eat and sleep, and to communicate with friends. I really don't have time and energy for everything -- and yet, I move through the days doing what needs to be done and picking up what got dropped the day before. I'm not discouraged yet, but I am definitely overwhelmed.
The good news is that after twenty-eight years, I'm going to have a remodeled kitchen. Can you believe it?