Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Artisans Arrive In The Nick Of Time

July 28th to August 17th, 2009

"Work cautiously, in relation to the result you desire; not time, or money, or someone else's opinion of what your work should be." ~ James Krenov

Our cousins, David and Rick arrived from Illinois to be here for two weeks. They brought the furniture for the new room that they made and wood for the beams and inside trim. The beams were made with walnut that was reclaimed from a farm in Illinois and cut in Ricks shop. The trim around the windows is red oak. The fir cross beam was so beautiful, they decided to simply add a bottom layer of walnut and leave it two-toned. At the very tip top of the cupola is a point. David started playing around with the extra walnut pieces and before we knew it, he came up with the most beautiful three dimensional maltese cross with an inverted pyramid in the center. It is spectacular and a great finishing touch. All the inside trim was simply clear coated and over the years the colors will change... some will lighten and others will deepen, even further complementing each other.

The inside trim and beams took the first week. Then they started on the trellis... my trellis.... for my wisteria. Stephen helped them paint it... he wanted to really dig in and work on his own project. Then they did the skirting on the deck. David chose the paint and it turned out beautifully... everything is starting to come together.... finally.

The electricians came back and put up all the lights and the ceiling fan. The fan has both a light on the bottom as well as hidden lights that shine up... both on a dimmer. The uplighting is fabulous at night. We still had a bit to go and I was hoping we could get the hot tub up and running before Stephen left, but that was not to be.

David and Rick drove a U-haul down here and were going to fly back. But, Mom and Dad decided to get a new Honda van this summer and all they were offered for their "clunker" was $1000. I guess their Dodge Caravan got better gas mileage than required for the "great" (much sarcasm) Cash for Clunkers plan. Since it would cost about $1000 to fly them both home... Dad decided to just let them have the old car. So, they loaded it up and took it back to Illinois with them. From what I've heard, that van has been to Texas and back and doing well.

I bet you're glad we are finally in the home stretch.... I know I was.

(end of post)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Am Still Older Than You.... Not So Much A Good Thing Anymore

My brother.... knows my heart. Posted by Picasa

"To the outside world we all grow old.
But not to brothers and sisters.
We know each other as we always were.
We know each other's hearts.
We share private family jokes.
We remember family feuds and secrets,
family griefs and joys.
We live outside the touch of time."
~ Clara Ortega

I am older than this fellow. I will ALWAYS be older than he is. While this was a major sticking point as children and the source of much jealousy and ire on both parts... he always thinking I was mean and I thinking he had Mom and Dad wrapped around his little finger.... it doesn't matter much anymore. In fact, I would be more than willing to switch ages with him now. He really did have Mom and Dad snowed about many of the things he did as a child... quite devious... too bad I inherited the "see through" face that could never devise anything that ever came close to a lie without it being written all over my face for all to see.

Anyway, Stephen works hard at his craft... all over the world. This may seem like a glamorous life, but it is often filled with difficult travel conditions, lonely apartments and much time away from his home here. He is a reluctant gypsy; but with such a vocal gift from God, how could we keep him all to ourselves. Today he is performing, probably in the middle of "The Flying Dutchman" as we speak. Singing on his birthday... just as he sang the day he was born all those years ago... just with words and a greater grasp of tune.

Happy Birthday Stephen! I love you!!!!!

PS: His website has been overhauled.... Stephen Gould.

(end of post)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hurry Up And Wait!

July 6th to July 28th, 2009
Construction Phase 4

"Find your center and build from there." ~ Margaret Merrill

Let's see. So far we are waiting on the side doors and transoms... therefore, waiting on the finishing of the brick, part of the decking, the inside trim, the inside flooring... and the cousins are coming to do the inside trim. Every day... "did they get here yet? No?" Sigh. Oh, well... at least the patio guys can go on and get all the stone done. Right?

First they put down this layer of yellow sand and then started with the stones, in a random pattern. The stones have varying degrees of cinnamon and gray with a little beige. They started building the edges of the rose garden and the curved benches. We had discussed with the stone guy the possibility of putting lights under the lip of the benches and in the edge of the patio. I thought he said he could get them for us as did the contractor.... but he thought we were getting them. So when it came time to put them in, they had not even been ordered. After a few days of back and forth, I got tough and told him to do it and do it quick. So most of the patio was done... but the lights... oh, yes... they ran out of stone as well. So again, we were in waiting mode.

Not to be put too far behind... the contractor started in with the interior beadboard installation... that only took a couple of days. The painter came back and stained the beadboard and then put the semigloss finish on it as well as the fir cross beam in the ceiling. And we waited.

While we waited it rained..... and our rose garden became a soupy swampy mess. The water wouldn't drain... at all. Stephen arrived.... to all the waiting. He is not as patient as I am. The contractor thought he could fix the rose garden problem by drilling down into the clay and by filling the holes with marble chips..........but it didn't work. It looked dry on top if it didn't rain for a few days but Dad would go out and check with a stick each day and it was still mud. At this point, I had no idea as to how we were going to get this fixed.

Still trying to plow ahead, they finished up the stairs of the deck and I did finally get the hot tub put in place, not hooked up but put in place. Those transoms better get here.... David and Rick arrive in a couple of days!

(end of post)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bricks And Boards, Onward And Upward

Construction Phase 3: June 23rd to July 2nd, 2009

"As the builders say, the larger stones do not lie well without the lesser." ~ Plato

Wow! We were really flying along in this project... just a month in and already to start the brickwork. The electricians had been their to do the preliminary wiring for outlets and lights according to code. This required another decision about can lights and outside light as well as prodding me to go ahead and order the ceiling fan and light. The heat and air guy came and put the wiring and copper tubing in for the split system unit while the plumber ran the lines for the new sink inside and the outside spigot. Of course, the plumber got the lines mixed up and tapped into the hot water line for the outside spigot instead of the cold. That was interesting for a while!

City code required that they create a new access from the house crawl space to the new room, so for a while we had this hole open to the outside. One day Mr. Siamese, Mr. Rhett... got out the garage door and I didn't see him. In fact, I didn't even miss him until the next day when he wasn't trying to sneak extra food like he always does. We looked everywhere and I went up and down the street and all over the back yard. He was gone. I was afraid that since he had probably been out all night, some critter in the preserve (swamp) behind us would have gotten him... Rhett isn't the brightest crayon sometimes... he is always poking his head into things he shouldn't. Then Dad opened up the crawl space door in the garage and called under the house... he hears a "yow" and Rhett saunters out at his own pace, as if nothing were out of the ordinary. He had found his way under the new construction and through the new crawl space hole... he spent the night under the house. You would think he would learn... but no... he still makes every attempt to get in or out.... whenever a door is open.

It was fortunate that his adventure was the day it was, as the bricking began the next Monday and that access was gone in less than a day. The bricklayers were great, neat and fast. The insets were done on the diagonal and they are gorgeous, one of my favorite things about the outside of the room. The head guy was a crusty old man who had done a lot of the brick design in the neighborhood. He remembered all the houses he worked on.

At this point of construction, I was a little worried that we were moving so fast that it would be all done before Stephen arrived AND before my cousins came from Illinois to do the inside trim. Then the contractor would have to wait on them and I didn't want him to get hung up waiting on us. I really shouldn't have lost any sleep about that happening. This is where the little .... sometimes big.... problems started popping up.

The most major problem was the doors ...... we ordered all the windows and doors from Anderson the day the contract was signed, May 1st. Anderson takes six to eight weeks sometimes. The windows came in and were put in on June 14th, but the single door and French door with transoms did not get here until June 23rd. We still didn't have the side panels and transoms for the French doors... and they didn't come and didn't come. They couldn't finish the outside woodwork or the brickwork by the doors or the deck by the doors and it was getting closer and closer to the time for my cousins to arrive. Stephen got here and they still weren't here. Finally, about two days before the cousins arrived... the side transoms were miraculously found and delivered.

Then there was the deck... we had to widen the walkway because the outside vent on the fireplace stuck out... the contractor and his helpers kept hitting their heads on it... so... eighteen inches wider. Then I had to have them widen the patio so the steps would come down at the correct place and the arch had to be re-configured.
As for the deck... I gave them the correct measurements for the hot tub and they built the opening... but it was too small... by about two inches. So they had to redo the hot tub box... again.

While we were waiting on doors... the concrete guys came back to pour the patio and rose garden base. They worked so hard and did such a great job making it so smooth and gorgeous... too bad we were just going to cover it up with stone......

Oh yes, I almost forgot. One day I got downstairs to find that the windows of the new room and the brick wall and windows of the house were covered with a thick plastic..... I felt like we were in that cocooned house in "ET". These guys in space suits with respirators came in with a huge hose and started spraying this foam insulation in the ceiling and walls.... as it dried it shrunk down filling all the tiny spaces and cracks. They then put in the usual batting insulation on top of this.

You know... I think I could almost do contracting after this........ getting tired yet?

(end of post)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Measure Twice, Cut Once

Sunroom construction phase 2: framing, windows and the roof!
June 2 - June 23, 2009.
(There are notes for the pictures, just move the cursor over "notes".)

"Every nail driven should be as another rivet in the machine of the universe." ~ Thoureau

Phase 2 kicked in around the first of June with the framing crew. I was very impressed with one older guy who could take that circular saw and simply cut angles and wedges out of the wood without marking them and then it all came together perfectly. The cupola was built on the ground and then put into place, everything had to fit just right to get it to come out. I love the geometry on the inside... amazing how they can take the plans and simply put it together.

But, phase 2 was not without problems. The original plans called for four windows on each side of the sunroom and the Anderson window guy came and sat there and measured before ordering; yet when they arrived, the windows were too wide and seemed shorter than in the plans. We needed six more inches to get four on a side so I made the executive decision to go with just three on the side. It ended up making the room much more sturdy to have the extra framing between the windows... a good thing with the Nor'easters we get around here. The slightly shorter windows turned out for the best as well. We have gorgeous woodworking that would have been cut down and we were able to fit a split system heating/air unit in the room as well.

They did some of the outside trim, put in the cupola windows and the room windows and started on the roof.... the copper roof. The roofers were artists and the roof laid and crimped and finished off by hand, took almost a week. The heat made it harder, they could only work in the morning... by noon the temperature of the copper was too hard to handle. When first put in place, the copper is bright and shiny like a new penny, almost blinding when the sun hits just right. One day I went to the store and as I was driving back I was struck by a very, very bright light from the corner of our house. My first thought was that I had left one of the outside spotlights on... but then, I remembered, we DON'T HAVE any outside spotlights on that corner of the house. It was the roof. For several weeks we had gawkers drive slowly down the street into the dead end cul-de-sac and back again... just looking!

Saturday.. I always looked forward to Saturday... no workmen... sleeping in. Then one Saturday at l7AM... BANG! BANG! BANG!.... What!? The roofers.. trying to get finished. When the roof is finished no one should walk up there ... but wait... those cupola windows still have the protective plastic on the outside.... who is going to take care of that? It slipped the installer's minds. Thank goodness the roofers worked that Saturday... they graciously took the plastic off and even cleaned the windows. You have to love those roofers... even at 7AM.

Phase 2 done.... carry on.

(end of post)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Phases" Aren't Exclusive To The Moon

May 11th to May 28th, 2009 ~ Construction begins.
Phase One.

"It is not the beauty of a building you should look at;
its the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time." ~ David Allan Coe

Stephen talked to contractors when he was here at Christmas of 2008 and in February 2009, I submitted the plans for approval by the homeowner's association. This should have taken only a month to look and yet when he arrived in April, they still had not approved the project.

I read the massive bylaws in detail and found the loop hole. Apparently, they had a time limit to approve or disapprove and I pointed this out to them at an association meeting... their time was running out. If they did not approve the plans by the specified time limit, then the plans were considered "approved" by default. When the day came, I sent a certified letter demanding an approval notice to give the city. They ended up stamping the plans anyway. Of course this was a week after Stephen left... so I was now in charge.

We signed the contractors contract on the first of May and then construction started.... so did the rain. Dig a foundation? Rain. Pour concrete? Rain. Start a construction project? Rain. And very localized rain. Here it would be raining cats and dogs.... well, it does seem to rain cats at least here... and only a mile down the road it would be completely dry, with sunshine. Yes, if you need a remedy for drought... start a building project.

Stephen was adding on a sunroom, deck with hot tub and a patio area with rose garden. When they first sprayed those outlines for the foundation it looked really small. I was concerned. But Terry (contractor) laughed and said, "It'll grow... they always do." All summer I would be up at 6AM because the workers might be here at 7AM and if I slept in it would be a sure thing. Of course, many days I was ready by 7AM and they didn't show until 9AM or later or rain came or the dreaded Anderson window delays.

There was always a bit of excitement.... especially the first time they brought the cement truck in through the back gate. Two things happened that day. First, I accepted the fact that the entire back yard would be trashed before the project was over... bye, bye grass. Secondly, I fell in love... with the cement truck driver. He drove that truck in through that gate with only an inch to spare on either side and did not even touch the gate. He managed to miss the small maple tree in the back yard and get out again. I was breathless... and it has been a long time since I could say that about anything but climbing the stairs to my room.

The construction in this phase, once started, really moved quickly... even with having to pump out rainwater from the foundation trenches before and after pouring the concrete. Foundation posts in for the new crawlspace and sand deposited .... phase one ends with the initial termite treatment of the soil.

(end of post)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Made A New Year's Resolution, But Broke It The Very First Day.

Grand Canary Island, June 2009 (Picture by Stephen) Posted by Picasa

"A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other." ~ Unknown

It has been a long time... and I have a great excuse, I really do; but if I try to put my excuse into words it will probably leave my head all addled and inspiration will fly down the stairs and out the door. My knees wouldn't let me follow, much less catch it and it might be another five months before I found this page again.

As it is, I started this two days ago. But, when I finally visited my own blog, I discovered that my template had this little sticky message where the header picture used to be. So I decided to upload a new template, even though I had to change the HTML of the last one to allow for the larger pictures. But I forgot that when you changed templates, Blogger deletes some of your sidebar widgets as well as the code for any third party comments. So pretty much everything was deleted.

Then I went to Haloscan to replace the comment code, only to discover that they are changing over to something called "Echo" but you can't change it without the e-mail and so far... no email. Of course I found my old comments and exported them to my computer but Blogger has no way to import them. Oh, well! I guess that's what I get for a long lapse in writing.

So much has happened this year: bulldozers, concrete, wood, brick, pavers, decking, hot tubs, stained glass, tile floors, fire pits, tillers, trellis, ceiling fans, landscaping material, pebbles, split system air/heaters, sinks, copper roofs, swampy rose garden.... oh, yes... top soil and compost... lots and lots and lots of top soil and compost.

So, I really did make a resolution to start writing everyday again... but, of course it went right out the window on January 1st. We will see how it goes!

(end of post)