August 29, 2008
I feel like I'm treading water waiting for Jim to come home from vacation and stain my cabinets. I'll probably hear from him next week. In the meantime I'm trying to keep the end in sight by categorizing what needs to be done.
The big things are the staining, the granite and the floor. I have to get the granite ordered today. It is past time. I finally settled on a pattern, but have been going back and forth between two places to order it. It is a long story that I will tell another day. But these are the big items to come.
The next tier down involves Tom and the guys returning to build the bookcases and the breakfast nook. They will also have some installation of cupboard doors and oversee the installation of the sink and plumbing in the kitchen. Mike has to finish off the kitchen lights which are sitting and waiting to be installed. Yesterday I had Jana come and measure for the pantry shelves. I decided that white wire is the most economical and that is what I'm looking for these final days.
Speaking of my pantry, it is definitely the most creative part of the remodel. I was going to have a secret door on the back of the pantry, but Tom and I deliberated a lot about access to the space on the top of the back stairs as well as the stairs themselves. We decided that opening up the pantry to that area gave access to the laundry shoot and gave more possibilities for storage while keeping a closed door on top of the stairway. He cut down a door because the space is not very tall -- and it all works very well. It is clever and roomy although the shelves won't be very deep.
In the interests of saving a few dollars, I have some painting jobs to do. I'm going to paint the fireplace surround and the inside of my pantry and the beadboard inside my cupboards. There will be more beadboard in my pantry and backing my kitchen bookcases.
And, Mike and Tom were over yesterday discussing the cables for the TV and telephone. You might remember that all the lines were put underground, but only the electric company has been back to finish their job. There are still cable and telephone wires to come down and hook into the buried cable. Mike just dropped over to put brighter lights in my basement. I told him that sometimes I just turn the lights on and off in my basement to marvel that I have light controlled by a real switch!
Well, this is the list for now -- it haunts me day and night -- is there something I've missed? Will I be able to get into the home stretch? Will it ever be really finished? Will I ever be able to finish the job and install a first floor bathroom? Was this too large of a project to take on? Will I really like the kitchen after its finished?????? It doesn't take much to drive myself crazy!
As I wrote the last paragraph, I realized how much MORE crazy I would be if I were the really short timeline Jeni and Ron set for themselves with their kitchen. Early on I made the decision to "go with the flow" when I realized the scope of the job. Two things all the remodeling articles say, not to expect it to be done on time and expect it to cost more. I decided right then that I would not get entangled in unrealistic expectations. I've always told parents to keep their eye on the big picture, and I've tried to follow my own advice which is not to worry about a set finish date, to know be happy if there is forward movement, and keep faith that it is going to get there.
August 28, 2008
Every day I have to go onto this blog and delete spam entries that are duplicated over and over again. It is a pain, but it seems that there is little one can do. Some days there might be three or four and others there can be twenty. They show up in my email inbox and then I know they are waiting backstage on the blog for me to post. I want to swat, squash, pulverize them, but instead I just delete -- over and over. That makes me wonder what else I can delete from my life to make it run more smoothly.
I still have so many things of Don's that I need to get rid of -- hundreds of books and papers -- as well as items I, myself, have saved over the years. I am too sentimental about things. It is the time in my life that I need to shed unused stuff and give it away. I've never sold anything on EBay or Craig's list and so I think about doing that. I wonder if there is any value in what is stored -- value that will help pay for my expensive remodel. I'll have to think about what is important as I begin to furnish some new rooms.
This morning I picked up some wood that was left on my front lawn. I don't know why my crew left it -- is some of the wood useable? Is it all scrap? Can Keith use some of it to carve? If one little pile of wood gets me thinking about the myriad of possible uses, just how quickly can I make decisions to sort through the rest of my life?
Oh my, what to do! The irony is that Don always thought he would have been happiest in an ultra modern minimalist glass house cantilevered over a big city with one couch, two Eames chairs and a laptop. My kids might beg to differ -- especially Martin who spent hours helping me clean out almost every computer program his father ever bought and dozens that he got for free at conventions. I guess we would have needed a big garage!
I must get to my task for today -- to finish sanding my pantry door and cleaning my old kitchen cabinets before Jim gets home from vacation and comes to stain the rest.
August 26, 2008
More Cabinets Than I Really Need!
I'm in the middle of looking at some inexpensive cabinets for the pool room. I'm going back to Hardware Sales (my favorite Bellingham store) because that is where I found my basement bathroom cabinets. They offer free services to draw up your plans and carry a variety of designs and colors. I want to put in a wet bar which will include an electronic center (since my TV will be over my fireplace), a few drawers, a place for my little refrigerator, and a corner cabinet. It's not huge, but I'm trying to keep the cost down. It will finish off my pool room. I want to have a tea kettle, microwave, tiny sink to go with my frig. It will allow me to keep cold drinks, make tea, popcorn, etc. when the grandkids are watching TV. Probably silly, but sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet and I'm tenacious with it. I think it is a good addition to the vast room and will be pleasant when I have my desk installed. The cabinets they carry have all kinds of doors, wood, colors, etc. so it can get confusing. I really like my cabinets in the bathroom, however, so I think this will work well.
I also checked out IKEA but I must say I get confused with all the additions you need to finish off a job. Everything is separate and when all is added together I don't save much. I also checked Home Depot, but their bid was $500 higher than Hardware Sales for basically the same stuff. I thought of having someone build them, but I don't think I can get cabinets made by a carpenter for as little money.
Speaking of carpenters, Miles has been here this week finishing off some small projects like the surround for the fireplace and touching up here and there. Today he is moving out some stacked wood and things are really getting cleaned up. It seems funny since I have lived with stacks of wood or tools in my basement and garage. I'm beginning to reclaim my own space. They will definitely be back in force to finish off my bookshelves and the breakfast room, but for now it is a bit quiet for a change.
August 24, 2008
I continue to be in awe of the big granite places so I trudged through a few of them again yesterday. I have narrowed my selection down to two different granites. One of them is even grained and readily available. Another is more dramatic and hard to find so when I found two slabs at Pental, I put them aside. They may be too dramatic for my small kitchen, but I'm going to talk to a fabricator tomorrow and make a final decision. I talked to both Pental and OT&M and asked when they were doing to counter the concerns about Radon. They have some written materials and blogs on the subject. I have been doing some research myself to figure out the risks. Pental said that they had tested each different granite pattern for radon and some had more than others, especially the more exotic ones -- but unless you are shut up in a closet with them, you are probably very safe. They also said that it is the second round of concerns in the past five years -- and many of the articles are originating from the quartz industry. This was mentioned in some of the news articles I read. In any case, I have decided not to worry. I live in an old house which probably exudes radon. I'll have to have that tested some day.
I have lots of little painting jobs to do around here, but I have not yet done them. I have to have my cabinet doors cleaned by the time that Jim gets back from vacation. If it is hot, I don't feel like doing anything inside. If it is cold, I'm too lazy to paint -- I have to just get it done. I don't want to pay for a painter to come in and do a bunch of little tasks that I could do in a few hours. I suppose I could have a painting party with friends which would spur me on to the boring work.
I guess that is all for today. Dani & Charles have taken the boys back to Leavenworth so that James can stay with his other grandparents for a few days with his cousin. It is very, very quiet in this house.
August 23, 2008
What Is Real Life????
I was reading my last two entries on the blog as they came up on my computer and that got me thinking about how we view "real life." When I graduated from high school and then college, I thought how I was going to finally begin my life. I remember similar statements from friends when Don graduated from seminary -- as if all those years in school were not real life. Well, they were real enough for us since we had birthed two children and I had lost a sister during those years. They couldn't get more real than that.
Perhaps these compartmentalized views of life (after graduation, after the kids are gone, after we retire, after the house is finished...) are all ways we make sense out of the way we live. My life is surely not the same without Don and I suppose it will be even a little bit different with a new kitchen. I suspect that it will be unique with Dani and Charles and James and Nico living in Bellingham. But, what is curious to me is that during some of those other times (like during the remodel) we have the idea that life is "on hold" as if it isn't really happening. Or, maybe it is just happening differently like camping out of our little kitchen and being inundated with different people in and out of the household. But, isn't that still "real life?"
Perhaps we need to stop thinking about how things will be "better," "different," "improved," "relieved," with what is coming just around the corner. All that really is a new phase, a new experience. Life is just what it is at an moment. My little ersatz kitchen is my immediate reality. I should just enjoy every minute as it is and not yearn for what is coming. Life is this very moment. You can plan for the future, but the now holds you captive. Be grateful!
Ok, that's my sermon for today.
August 22, 2008
Ok, Ok, Here Are Some Pictures
Yesterday Tom said the words that I knew were coming, but they still were jarring. His crew were almost through with their work here. They can't finish most things that are left until the floor is in. Part of me was elated that I'm actually coming to the end of the project and part of me was upset that the people I've come to care about and rely upon would soon disappear from my life. I can't believe so many decisions have been made and no major items are left on the agenda. When you travel at warp speed for so long, it takes energy to call a halt, to relax, to realize that your house might return to its former status. No loud noises, no sub contractor invaders from outer space, no ambiguity or momentary decisions, no waking up in the middle of the night wondering worrying about a decision or having workmen in the house before you are up in the morning.
Oh, there is still a ways to go -- they put the surround on the new fireplace yesterday and finished the front deck. The breakfast nook, bookcase, and pantry shelves need to be built. The cabinets need to be stained, the countertops ordered, the tile chosen for the back of the sink. The new deck needs a railing. Lots of little painting jobs. Still some small decisions on color here and there. I know Tom has a punch list of items to finish. We just ordered some downspouts to replace those that were removed for the remodel. But, we had a monsoon-like rain the other day and I can tell you that my new decks drained without one little puddle anywhere. Nice work guys!
I've been researching granite and reading about the radon controversy. As in all things, there are various points of view. I've decided to go ahead with the product even amidst the controversy. I do not think it is a major worry for me. Fortunately, my kitchen is now open to the living area and the air flow is a plus. Also, the price is not too bad since I do not have particularly wide countertops nor a huge kitchen. I've read all the government reports as well as some of the testing results. I've also been aware that much of the scare has come from private concerns -- manufacturers of other materials and radon testing firms.
So, I guess things will begin winding down, but not just yet. In fact the workers are arriving as I write this -- so they are not abandoning me yet.
August 20, 2008
Sometimes the lazy days of summer become the lazy days of remodeling. Tom is gone for three days and Miles and Chas seem to be taking turns about who comes each morning. We have used the cedar from my swimming pool for the little deck in front of the house. Miles got that almost finished on Monday and began putting in the subfloor for the kitchen. Chas did some cleaning up and is now working on finishing the subfloor today. Tom returns tomorrow and we'll begin work on the breakfast nook, the fireplace surround, the pantry shelves, and the printer shelf downstairs. There is really no big projects left -- just the ones that put the icing on the cake so to speak.
I'm feeling the kind of panic which says, "Egad! I've spent soooooo much money and now I have to really be careful with my budget." Income earning ideas flow through my brain such as selling all my possessions on EBay and wondering what I could write and sell quickly. I keep thinking that I should be feeling relieved that I'm coming to the end of the mammoth check writing to Tom, but instead I'm worrying about empty rooms devoid of furniture, window coverings, etc. I'm simply maxed out on resources without compromising my monthly budget. I know this, too, will pass (or I hope it will). Perhaps I can find a wealthy suitor -- no, forget that idea. I suppose I could do what Debbie thought initially and rent out my new room to a few Western students.
I'm not that hungry -- yet!
August 17, 2008
The Water Was Restored
One of the things I like most about my contractor is that I can be truthful with him. So, you can imagine that I told him that he was probably glad that he was safe at home when I found I had no water in my garden after my exhausting trip to Seattle. In fact, I think I told him that I would have pounded on him if he had been present at the moment I couldn't locate my water faucet. This only highlights two items of vast importance to me -- the first is water and the second is my garden.
We have no water on the first floor except that which is outside. I left our water cooler in the living room so that both our family and the workers can at least drink cold water when tired and thirsty. But, I had not realized how crippling it is not to have water readily available. Upstairs we trudge back and forth from the back porch to the bathroom to fill our wash and rinse bins. What is actually rather an adventure when you are camping in the High Sierras becomes a bit old when it continues for longer than a few weeks. I'm grateful that the water is hot rather than having to be boiled on a propane stove -- but, nevertheless, we don't wash just a few dishes at a time but let them pile up until we have enough to fetch and carry the water. When I get my kitchen back, I think I will post a sign above my sink about being grateful for running water!
The second item I love is my garden and nothing has suffered more from the remodel. I don't think anything annoys me more than the constant nails, sawdust, wood droppings, etc. that are in the garden. Don't get me wrong -- this is the necessary workplace for my crew -- but I realize how very much I like to putter and how annoying it is to find something moved elsewhere by someone else -- such as my favorite nozzle or even my entire faucet!!! I have mentioned that some of my plants have suffered -- but not many and they are replaceable. Chas had to dig out a plant the other day to make room for the new deck -- and he even replanted it for me in a new (more convenient) place.
I think my consternation comes from having a kingdom all to oneself and then finding others have been messing around in it. I guess it is all offset by the terrific product that will be left when all is said and done -- and I get my garden back all to myself. Oh yes -- Tom did not go off on his three day vacation without replacing my faucet. So, Nico and I watered the pots yesterday -- and then we watered ourselves since it was very, very hot in Bellingham.
August 15, 2008
Great Gobs of Granite
I have been on a quest to find one of two patterns of granite that I have seen and liked. Evidently they are being discontinued so I went to Seattle and toured the big natural stone warehouses to see if I could find them. What an interesting journey. I visited Pius which is evidently a place where you can find a good price. However, their slabs are 1/2 size and they only have the thinner depth which needs to be seamed. They are close to Renovations on 1st Avenue so I looked for knobs. Since they are also close to Martin's work, he took me to lunch at his favorite Chinese noodle house.
Then I traveled further south near Michigan Avenue to all the other places which hover around 6th Avenue. I did find one of the granites I was looking for. In the first place, it was already set aside for sale. In the second place, some of the slabs were not as vivid as the one I wanted. So, now I have to decide what to do.
The places I visited were awesome. The warehouses have these huge slabs stacked up like big sandwiches. You have to sign in and get permission to go into the warehouses. Each warehouse had little trucks scooting around with the ability to pluck up and move a slab of granite like it was a slice of bread. In two warehouses, I had to wear either a vest or a special pass around my neck. In another, I was accompanied by a saleswoman who endeared herself by supplying me with an icy Diet Coke. Often I was just left to wander through the stacks to peruse the different granite patterns.
I detoured on the way home through IKEA where I was looking at cabinets for my pool room. Then, up I-5 and landing at home hot and tired from a very long day, When I climbed out of the car and reached the porch, I found a very droopy hanging plant which I had neglected to water that morning. So, before I even opened the front door, I limped over to turn on the hose. To my utter dismay, I found my faucet had disappeared. Sometimes the remodeling process is a real pain.
August 13, 2008
Early Morning Musings
For some reason I have had a sleepless night. I can't say that I'm particularly worried about anything and even the remodeling projects have not kept me thinking. But, here I am at 5:30 a.m. and I've been awake for a few hours. So, I thought that I would communicate somehow since everyone around here is fast asleep. Not for long, however, because Nico's inner alarm awakens him at 6:00 sharp.
Yesterday Tom, Debbie, and I talked about a porch/deck outside of my breakfast room. The step out of the room down to the first stair is never going to meet code since the room had to be raised and leveled. So, we have to find a solution. Since the city likes doorways to open to a landing when the doors swing out, a landing it is -- but what will it look like? Debbie is drawing up some plans. Tom doesn't need them since he knows what to do -- but I really need to see things visually. So, plans will be drawn for my benefit. I think we'll use some of the old cedar from the pool finally. It will make a fine deck and I'll probably need more railing! But, I think these are the final plans for the project.
Tom's crew has been doing all kinds of little things like remaking doors, cleaning up old door hardware and reinstalling it, installing drawers (I'm going to love my storage), cleaning up the pantry area, trimming doors, putting up a shelf in my basement bathroom -- lots of little things that still need doing. I was over at Patty Ennen's to see her granite and loved her subway tile. I'm going down to Seattle on Thursday (I think) to tour the big granite places and look at more tile. I will also try to make IKEA and Renovations. They are all rather close to each other. I'm about to order my Marmoleum and the countertops are just about the last of the big decisions.
I'm fast becoming a walking encyclopedia of all the vendors in town. I just discovered two more just yesterday. Then, Debbie told me of a place in Seattle where one of her clients got a wonderful deal on granite. It's called Pius and they come to your house and cut and shape the granite in your front yard -- no middlemen.
Dani and Charles have just bought a house out on Marine Drive and I have to say that I look at all houses with an eye to future renovation possibilities. If I were not so very old, I would enjoy buying and renovating houses. Well, perhaps not!
August 8, 2008
Cupboards and Drawers
The kitchen is really taking shape -- at least the cupboards and drawers are. Most of the cabinet doors will not be installed until Jim can work his magic with stain. But, you can still see so much happening that it begins to feel like this project will actually end in the near future. Here are some pictures for you.
The Doors That Match the Old Cabinets
August 6, 2008
Behind the Scenes
So many remodeling tasks happen behind the scenes. I haven't seen my contractor and his guys for three days but he assures me that they are working on my cabinet doors in his workshop. I went to check on the granite I want and found that it may no longer be available. I have others checking different sources, but I am disappointed to say the least. If only because I have to once more weed out possibilities. Sometimes behind the scenes is annoying such as when I garden and find bottles, boards, and blocks of wood left hidden behind fronds or flower pots. I don't mind sawdust but I do think workers can pick up stuff bigger than a bottle. I'm also going over the back of the house for little hidden items such as paint that needs to be touched up or dings or other damage. It seems that the painters are the worst villains because I have found more things either unpainted when they should have been or painted when they should not have been. Sometimes I get angry with myself for not looking closely when something was done so that I could point it out at that time. But, overall, there are so few items that I notice and question and so very much that is done so beautifully that it takes my breath away.
There are other hidden items that make me smile such as my pantry light that turns on only when the door is opened or the lights in the basement that are finally connected to one another, the pantry door that I got from the Garguiles, the items that people will take for granted and I will know took so much thought and discussion. Someday all the workers will be gone, but they will always be the presence behind the scenes.
August 5, 2008
Color is on my mind. When I had the back rooms painted, I changed directions in the pool room because of two factors. 1) Millie thought my choice of navy blue was going to be depressing in the dark days of winter and 2) I had bought some furnishings for my study way before the remodel was necessary - and they reflected the green of the walls I was going to paint my study. I wanted to use that furniture in the new pool room. So, I painted the pool room green and the lower living room yellow. Now I have a lighter yellow in the kitchen -- but I don't completely want to abandon my favorite blue. I pour over color ideas -- I want a brightly painted bathroom shelf to hold towels -- but what color? Should I introduce a completely new idea and paint it red???? I've held onto the idea that the rooms should flow from one to another with complimentary colors. I know how color affects me when I'm in a room that is painted, but I don't always know how it is going to affect me before I see it on the walls.
It reminds me of a time when I brought in a bouquet of flowers into my bedroom and was utterly flabbergasted by how the bright fushia color brightened the entire room which had nothing like it anywhere. It was like it was meant to be an accent. I pour through magazines looking for a key to that mystery. When I finish the remodel, it is evident that I'll have to paint the living room and dining room for they will be sandwiched between two newly painted spaces. What color?
What color furniture? What color towels? What color counters? On and on the choices go which is difficult for someone who is intuitive and gets there by feel. I can always opt out for neutral, but I love my blue and white bed and bath so I want to experiment. But, as usual, I don't want to make a horrid mistake. I have to remember that it is just paint and stuff.
August 4, 2008
I love Monday mornings for a variety of reasons not the least the the NY Times crossword is a snap! Mondays with the sun in the sky are amazingly inviting. And, they are filled with pregnant possibilities for my kitchen. Who knows what it will look like at the end of the week! I saw Tom through my upstairs window this morning. He picked up a few of the old cupboard doors. I'm sure he and the guys are in his workshop beginning to finish the cupboards. They have all the boxes finished off with fir, the drawers built, and now they have the cupboard doors to finish in fir which will all be stained to match the old doors.
Last week was slow since the crew was elsewhere for three days. But, as we come into the home stretch, things begin to take shape pretty quickly. There are little things that need finishing such as the trim around the windows and the shelving for my book cases -- but I see that it is actually going to get done! Dani & I went to the Anacortes Arts Festival on Saturday and I enjoyed thinking about what might look good here and there in my new spaces. Not that I bought anything -- but I can begin to fashion decorating and making the space unique to my needs.
I've been reading a good book called House Sense. It is about how our house is a reflection of who we are and what we find comfortable. I have said before that I want my house to welcome people and make them want to plop down in a comfy chair and visit. I believe that one should surround one's self with items that they love and that will make their life pleasing. Dani and I once more went to open houses yesterday and we both agree that it is fun to imagine living in each house. Some are impossible, some repel us, some invite us in. Some are so cleverly decorated and so comfortable and some are so sterile. I love thinking about what makes this so -- which elements are mere design, or decoration, or clearly personal? Which houses could be redeemed by a clever designer? Which houses are depressing? Uplifting?
When Don and I walked into Sara and Bob LeBien's house for sale in Woodland Hills, we knew we had found our home. Not only did we want to buy it, but I wanted to meet the people who surrounded themselves with such interesting and beautiful decor. Fortunately, the LeBien's were actually members of our new congregation. Sara became a good friend, and I have always appreciated her creative ability to make four walls into a lovely home. They reminded me of our Santa Barbara friends, the Woods, whose home is utterly theirs and filled with the things they love like books, music, plants, and lots and lots of love. I'm feeling sentimental today. Perhaps this is the day to paint the blackboard on my door panels. That will give my kitchen a boost.
August 1, 2008
When the Cat's Away...
Before I begin writing today, I would like to say something about this blog. What you read is how I think or feel at the moment I write the entry. I am aware that I often repeat myself, but I don't take time to go back or do any editing except for when I post what I have written and read it for errors. I'm always flattered when friends says they actually read what I write, and I know that my family and friends like to keep up with the progress on the house. So, thank you for being a part of my journey and I beg your forgiveness if you get tired of hearing about the same things over and over.
Tom and his crew have been elsewhere for three days. Tom came this afternoon to clean up for the weekend and I was proud to announce several decisions and some work I had accomplished while he was gone. I decided upon the floor for the kitchen and the countertops all subject to the bids I get. I have been lightly sanding the pantry door and cleaning the doors to my cabinets with steel wool and denatured alcohol. I had some drawings from Debbie for the bookcase and made a decision about the kind of finish to use. I decided on some ideas for the breakfast nook including where the storage will be. Lots of little decisions, but each one moves me closer to my goal of a finished kitchen. I still do not know what color to paint the inside of the old cabinets which were painted before.
I can see why some designers would have me just forget the old cabinets. They are uneven in color, have all kinds of dents or tiny holes, they have paint here and there from a former life, and I took out lots of sharp metal from when there was fabric stapled behind the glass. Some of the doors had a finish and some did not. But, I do love the fact that they are old and don't expect them to completely match. They are what they are -- and I think they will make my kitchen more colorful and more interesting.
Charles and James moved some furniture into the lower living room -- just to see how it fit. I'll either buy something new or have my old sofa recovered. I decided that a sofa and chair will be better than a long and short sofa. But, I also liked the blue Sturbridge plain -- so maybe I can incorporate some blue into that room. The piano looks good as I hoped it would. Storage for music is next. Maybe at IKEA.
Dani is over at the storage units because their first shipment of household goods is being delivered. Charles is taking the boys to Leavenworth to see his folks and Dani will stay here to get some work done. Life is certainly busy around here.