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September 30, 2008

Ever Get the Blues?

Somedays I worry more than others. Donel used to say that I had a roving anxiety -- if I had nothing solid to worry about, I'd find something. Maybe it was the increased amount of alcohol I had at dinner group last night, but I just felt down this morning. Maybe it was because I am in the midst of deciding on the configuration of my kitchen bookcase, maybe because I was going back and forth on the final breakfast room decision, maybe because I am running out of funds, maybe because this remodel is never going to end -- but that is the list of worries among others.

Tom and Miles (they have lost Chas along the way) are finishing up my kitchen this week. The appliances come tomorrow along with plumber, gas company, and electrician to install. The pantry shelves come on Monday. But, I have lots of painting to do on the trim and still on the old cabinet insides. I'm just sick and tired of all this and want it to be done.

I hate the notion of putting in the floor and the granite and then having to cover them up to finish the work. I want them to remain untouched -- not have more mess around when they are finally in. That has been a big complaint of mine all along. We finish something nice and then have to continue working in the same room -- and it isn't as nice any more. I know the trim couldn't be finished until the flooring was down, but I worry that it will get damaged. I'm worried about the installation of the appliances -- I don't want the floor damaged.

Tom is building the breakfast nook today. Miles is continuing to install doors and trim. Everywhere I look, things don't seem quite right like maybe the bookcase shelves are not large enough for a microwave. I guess that I'm just prone to crabbiness today. On a happier note, I was excused from jury duty for the duration of my term -- no trials coming up. Maybe I can get out of bed on the right side tomorrow.

Posted by Marilyn at 9:48 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2008

Being Goaded

I love my kids. First, they actually read my blog. And, of course, I wouldn't even have a blog if it weren't for Martin who set it up and encouraged me to use it. Christine showed me how to post pictures. Jeni, along with her brother, continually reminds me to post pictures, Martin nudges me to write about my granite even if the pictures don't do it justice, and Dani is on the actual site helping when I am on the fence and always encouraging my writing. Wow! What more could I ask for a cheering section?

The main area floor went in yesterday and I absolutely LOVE it! Funny thing about the Marmoleum. When I walked into Elements Design many months ago, it was the first thing that caught my eye. I have since mulled over different ideas, but Tom was always on the side of a vinyl because of my old floor being uneven. Why is it that some decisions take agonizing and others just seem right without much worry? I will definitely be happy when I am in my kitchen -- with the sunny yellow floor! I'll post some pictures, but I don't know if they will come through with all the glory.

That is the problem with the granite -- the different shades are so subtle and the flecks so tiny, it is hard to get a true picture on the web. But, it has flecks of yellow, black, reddish brown and beige -- all very tiny and yet homogenous overall. I had some concerns when I first saw it laid -- a few blemishes here and there and a tiny light spot. Also, the granite is laid in different directions at one seam, so it is more visible than the other seam. These are very minor common stone problems, but, I think the kitchen will be too busy to even notice. I still wish that the one with the black veins had been available. However, this was one of my first choices and it goes really well with the floor and the cabinets. It just isn't very dramatic. I guess I'll have to add my excitement elsewhere. Perhaps the lack of drama will make the house more attractive to a future buyer.

Ever since I settled the big controversy over where I was going to get the granite and Erickson's matched the lower price, they have been amazing. What service! Their floor guy is terrific. And the owner, Butch, came over to check on the granite and has been very solicitous. I definitely will work with them in the future. When Butch was here, Pam ran down from cleaning upstairs to give him a big hug. Evidently he goes to her church. There is nothing better than working with a devout Mormon! No wonder he is a nice guy.

Tom is coming over this afternoon to make a plan for the rest of the stuff that needs to happen. I will be painting this weekend -- time to put the chalkboard paint on my door. The only difficult decision left for me is how to taper the seat over the radiator into the book shelves. It's time to see if my bookshelf painter can get off of Lummi Island to do the job.

Granite and Floor 005.jpg

Granite and Floor 001.jpg

Granite and Floor 002.jpg

Granite and Floor 003.jpg

Posted by Marilyn at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2008

Life Is Busy

One of the definite drawbacks of having a daughter move to Bellingham is that I keep ignoring the tasks I need to do and escaping to have a meal or play or whatever is offered up for distraction. The time definitely flies by completely overwhelming my quiet and sedate life. I've also taken a job supervising masters' degree students for City University. This will not take much time, but the organization of getting all the paperwork done has been a bit demanding -- like reading all the harassment and school ethics literature and taking tests to show that I digested the material.

In the meantime...my floor is going in today and tomorrow and I have hardly had time to register what needs to happen in the next few days. I was relieved of my jury duty this week because there were no juries -- I don't know about next week. I have to call Monday to have them bring the appliances over and the pantry shelves will be installed the Monday following. It truly gets exciting but leaves me with lots of little jobs to do like cleaning hinges and painting the inside of the old cabinets.

I will post some picture of the progress.The granite color does not show as well in the pictures -- it has a lot of the cabinet color in it with flecks of black and yellow.

The Long Wall -- The Dishwasher Goes in the Hole

The Hood is in Awaiting the Stove

A Closeup of the View to the Dining Room

The Floor Going In

Posted by Marilyn at 4:56 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2008

Checking In

Last year the Ashland library was closed due to lack of funds. I was delighted to find it open, lights on, and well peopled. I brought my computer to check up on my email. Millie sent an email also praising my granite. So, now it seems that everybody but me has seen it. I'm still nervous and hope people aren't just trying to allay my concern. I want it to be really great!

I also had an email from Jim telling me that the stripper is working well on my blistered cabinets and so all is moving along just fine. He assures me that he is not charging for the time that the stripper just has to sit on the cabinets -- only when he is actually doing something. I have the most awesome crew who work for me. Jim is concerned that the cabinets have taken longer than he anticipated. I am simply amazed that he could match them in the first place. How could I worry about his time? My cabinets have to be done -- he is going as fast as he can. I did most of the prep to save some $$$$$. He is just a great resource and a very nice friend.

Speaking of crew, Tom and I made contact this morning in Ashland. I had brought a couple of boxes down for his daughter who is going to college here. So, when he called, I was at a local furniture store with some friends and he was nearby so we were able to transfer the items from my car to his truck. He told me that he would carry anything home that I bought -- it is very tantalizing since Oregon has no sales tax. But, I ended up buying a photograph for my kitchen of a Chinese floating fruit and vegetable boat (ok, it's hard to describe) and a tea cart. This was after I promised myself not to spend any money in Ashland because I'm nervous about the rest of my construction.

I'm heading home tomorrow so I can take a picture of my granite for all to see. The floor should come this week -- and then just the odds and ends that are left. Oh yes, the appliances. I really think it is going to happen!

Posted by Marilyn at 2:13 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2008

On A Road Trip

I've run away from home visiting Nicole in Portland on the way to Ashland for another round of plays. Wouldn't you know that my granite was delivered the day I left? Yep! It was supposed to come on Monday but got put off until this morning. I left at 7:30 because I had a meeting in Fife at 10:15 and the guys came at 9:00. Fortunately, Dani and Tom were willing to be at the house to open up for the workers. Dani says the granite looks great. I'm afraid to come home because I'm anxious about it. Dani promises me that she in not just trying to make me feel better.

Jim has been having some trouble with the cabinet doors that are hung over the top of the glass doors. Everything had been going so well until he put on some varnish and they began to blister. I sanded them, but we couldn't get rid of the blistering. When I left, he was taking them home to try some chemical -- probably stripper on them. One step forward.....!

I'll be gone until Sunday when I drive back to Jeni's house. On Monday, I'll pick up my knobs and pulls for my kitchen cabinets at Restoration Hardware. In the meantime, I'll try to get my house out of my head for a few days. That would be nice.

Posted by Marilyn at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2008

The Value of Contractors

The aluminum railing guy showed up yesterday with the wrong railing for the deck on the front of the breakfast room. Well, it was a railing that I had originally discussed with the owner of the company when he came by two weeks ago. But, after talking with Tom, he convinced me that I told the guy the wrong size for the posts and also suggested an extra post that I didn't really need. He called the company and straightened it out. They quoted a price higher than the railing on the back of the breakfast room that was the same size. Last week they wanted to collect two hundred more for taxes that Tom had already taken care of. Since this is the company that took two months instead of the promised two weeks for the installation of the curved railings on the back of the house, they are not our favorite contractors.

In any case, I could see that the guys were delivering the wrong railing so I called Tom who was across the street at Millie's and he came over. Then they called the boss and wanted me to stick around to talk to him. But, I told them to deal with Tom. I'm nosy enough to want to know what is happening, but I'm very glad I have a contractor when I'm approached by vendors about a problem. There have been few problems, but when they happen I know why contractors get a percentage above the materials. I'm usually aware of what is going on because Tom and I chat about it. But, I just don't want the responsibility of fixing it. I just want it fixed. So, they took the railing away and I think the correct one for the correct price will get her someday.

I am absolutely thrilled with Jim's work on the cabinets. They are nearing completion. There are two that need a bit of sanding and I offered to do it. So, I'd better get going today and do my bit so he can finish. I'm taking the new sink out to the fabricator this afternoon so they can cut the granite which gets installed on Monday. I'm putting my appliances on a "no interest for a year" charge so I can pay them off next year. But, when I called to ask them a question, I found that the charge was in Don's name so I have to send a death certificate for them to put it in mine. Little glitches are just around the corner. I've talked to a painter to antique my book shelves, but he is stuck on Lummi for three weeks because the ferry is down for its annual overhaul. My other task before I'm off to Ashland is to order all the knobs and pulls for the kitchen cabinets. Three steps back and one step forward. Some weeks are like that. But, with the weather we have been having, who cares about anything but walking and soaking up sun.

Posted by Marilyn at 8:17 AM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2008


My neighbor Lisa just came over to show me how my umbrella on my patio obstructs their view when it is up. We put it up a few days ago and I actually forgot about it. She was embarrassed to ask me not to leave it up. It meant nothing to me to put it down when we are not using it. It was all a matter of perspective. I tried to convince her that what was a big deal to her was not to me. I was glad to oblige.

I've been trying to keep perspective on my kitchen cabinets. As I wrote before, they are not going to be perfect. There are dark and light patches here and there -- mostly because of the wood and sometimes because of human error. The ridges were sanded out, but now there are a few light sanding marks. Jim is wonderful and he will bring up a door and say, "this is the best one and this is the worst. Is it bad enough to totally redo?" Since the sanding was not his problem, we then have to decide if the finished product will look much different than the normal shadows on the wood. One can get up close and personal and see all the flaws or step back and get an overall perspective. As I mentioned before, all the old wood is going to be mottled so I'm not going to fret the new. However, when Jim calls me to look at something, I have to try to keep perspective.

The old cabinets have old butterfly hinges that are available still at Renovations. The old hinges have some crud on them and I'm trying to clean them up as best as I can. When I soaked a few in white vinegar, it took off the patina and lightened them considerably more than was acceptable. Again, Jim and I talked. He does lots of restoring. He says, "Use the old hinges -- they are old cabinets. Clean them up as well as possible. That's what I would do." I'm going to work on them tonight to see what I think. I just might take his advice.

I went out to lunch with Millie for her birthday and then went over to her house to say hi to Tom, Miles and Mike, the electrician. Now her house is in a mess. Nice to share the noise and chaos. I also bought a new sink today and said goodbye to Dani and Charles who are spending their first night in their new house. Their stuff is still here, but it is moving out little by little. Here are a few pictures of the cabinets in progress. If you remember my kitchen, you may be amazed at how close Jim is getting to the color -- and he isn't finished yet!




Posted by Marilyn at 6:22 PM | Comments (0)

September 7, 2008


Jim put the first coat of stain on my cabinets and some ridges showed up on the doors - not good! He indicated that sometimes stain brings out problems that are unseen on the raw wood. There are all these little ridges just about 1/2 inch from the edge of the doors. He thinks they are from a sander or planer. So, I called Tom who had actually been down to check on the staining and saw them himself. He was pondering what to do. Jim thinks they can be sanded out and then he will restain. I left it in Tom's hands -so I expect he will work some magic and get rid of them (at least I HOPE so).

My cabinets have always been a variation on the same theme. They are not uniform in color and they will not be when they are finished. The old ones are mottled and have dents here and there. The new ones will be a little lighter than the old ones because varnish darkens over time and they need to age. The variations in color never bothered me before -- they were OLD for heaven's sake. So, I hope I don't get all fussy and obsessive when they are all put back together. I've seen the stain that Jim has come up with and it looks great! However, all the different planks of wood do vary somewhat in grain color. So, we'll just have to see. Variations in color are acceptable -- ridges are not!

We've been mostly over at Dani & Charles' new house this weekend helping them get a few things in order. Dani actually made dinner tonight for Keith and Eulalah and me. Keith came over to blaze a trail through the underbrush to get to an apple tree we could see from the street but was totally in the dense woods. It is a very old tree and the best apples were too high to pick since they were reaching through all the surrounding trees to the sun. The new property has some serious pruning ahead.

I spent some of the afternoon painting the inside of my pantry and still have to paint the insides of my old cabinets. The kitchen will be measured tomorrow for the countertop which should be delivered a week later. I think the cabinets will be done by then. Then the floors, shelves, breakfast nook and the rest of the moldings. I'm working my way towards the appliances. I'm sure glad Dani has a kitchen even if it is filled with unopened boxes.

Posted by Marilyn at 8:12 PM | Comments (0)

September 5, 2008


One aspect of this remodel is the curious happening where different parties simultaneously come together in a chaotic convergence. I'm sure this happened to me often when I had little children -- life getting out of control when simultaneously one child is demanding something, another skins her knee and a third is screaming to be taken out of bed after a nap. Where to turn?

I had one of these moments yesterday morning when I was trying to get myself into the shower and simultaneously my granddog, Kinsey, began a wild barking fit, my neighbor, Leah, called to me as she climbed my stairs, my contractor Tom brought Chas in the house to fill nail holes in the cabinets, and Jim arrived to continue with the staining. There is something about being completely naked with all those things swirling around you that is a bit disconcerting.

I realize that this phenonema was enacted over and over during much of the remodel. There were so many times when I was headed out to do something and all of a sudden I would have questions from my contractor, my electrician would show up, and the telephone would ring. It was as if the players were all in the wings waiting for me to put my right foot in a particular spot in my hallway which signaled their cue to walk onstage. More than once, it would completely bring my world to a halt as I tried to sort out who needed what when. Of course, a recently added barking dog only exacerbates the chaos and I'll be happy to see him move to his own house while I have complete strangers to him walking through mine.

Sometimes when I was late to an appointment or forgot something, I tried to explain to my friends that this happening threw me off my stride. It is both flattering to know that you are important enough to be the arbiter of decisions and disconcerting to find that at any moment your life might get put on hold so that other progress is not impeded. It adds both excitement and chaos to an otherwise rather bland and organized existence. I look forward to doing without the chaos -- having men wandering underneath my bathroom during early morning ablutions, having strangers invade my privacy, the noise and the mess, the inconvenience of camping in your own home. But, I will miss the excitement, the extended family, the importance of being at the hub of decisions. Aren't we humans curious people?

Posted by Marilyn at 7:56 AM | Comments (0)

September 3, 2008

Staining Away

I know that Jeni likes pictures, but there is nothing really to see these days except four new downspouts and two new gutters to replace those that got taken down during the remodeling. Jim began staining the cabinets this afternoon and it looks like the next week will bring the granite and the Marmoleum. I went down to see the people at Erickson's to tell them about my bid from Creative Stoneworks. I apologized for getting myself between the two firms, but said that I needed to go with the lowest bid. They said they would match it (even though it was several hundred dollars less) and I will sign on with them.

Tom is across the street tearing down my neighbors kitchen wall -- but he drops by now and then to check in about stuff -- today to talk to Jim. It's nice to see the noise and mess move elsewhere. I'm holding my breath -- could we really be close to the finish line? On another note, Dani and Charles signed papers for their house today. The moving van comes on Friday to get the major items. They will take their time getting settled. No hurry! They will probably have a kitchen before me -- maybe I'll go over and eat at their house.

Posted by Marilyn at 9:38 PM | Comments (0)

September 1, 2008

Getting Into Hot Water

I've been embroiled in a tug of war between two suppliers -- one is a design firm where I got my Marmoleum and carpet and the other is a granite fabricator. When I put aside a couple of slabs of granite in Seattle last week, they asked who I was working with. I said "Ericksons." They said that they needed to put it aside for a fabricator, so I gave them "Creative Stoneworks" on the Guide Meridian. I have been both places. However, Ericksons is a middle person and so it will cost more to get it from them. Since I originally went out to Creative Stoneworks in the first place, I think it is logical to get a quote from both places. Unfortunately, it gets into their turf war over this very item.

I guess I didn't realize that when you get tile or carpet or flooring, you usually do go through a middle person. But, with the granite, you don't have to do that unless you want to pay more. It took awhile for me to really get it -- and now I have to face the music at Ericksons on Tuesday and tell them that I simply cannot pay the 15% more for them to do the job. It isn't as if I haven't given them any other business and I've tried to be perfectly honest with them from the start. They knew that Pental wouldn't put the granite slabs away in their name. However, I also know that Susan at Ericksons has called a few places for me and done a bit of legwork (I have done most of it myself). She will feel uncompensated for this -- but unless she can match the bid I get from Creative Stoneworks, I just can't afford to pay her upwards of $700 for a few phone calls.

This is another example of how I learn as I progress through this process. When I am tuned in early enough, I can avoid these conflicts by becoming savvy early on. But, when I haven't asked the right questions or read the right article, I can blunder into something that I'd rather avoid. Too bad I'm not young enough to put all this education to good use in the future. I can't see myself doing any of this kind of thing again. I suppose I could do what Debbie suggested and publish some of the blog, but I doubt that it is a real commodity.

In any case, today I'm continuing to paint, hoping to hear from Jim, hoping to order the granite tomorrow to be installed yesterday, and having a chair recovered by the Boyd's who come out to your house with their sewing machine and materials. Dani and James are off to Bumbershoot and Charles and Nico are upstairs, Yesterday, I began moving stuff into my little garden room, Charles took a bunch of stuff Dani bought at the church rummage sale out to their storage place, and we put the table and chairs on the patio. I can now walk in my garage. One small step for the McClellan household.

Posted by Marilyn at 11:20 AM | Comments (0)