Getting Closer Yet So Very Far to Go

Just a quick update with no photos because well, there aren’t any. After around three weeks, the painters finished and are safely home in California, and we have begun getting blind estimates. With the hardwood flooring installed, carpet remains the last major step inside the house. However, one heating vent needs to be moved as it currently resides about a yard into the middle of the room. Since that requires cutting a hole in the floor and patching the hole from the existing vent, carpet is on hold. We also still need to move one more light fixture mount to the center of the room and address the dryer vent issue. The problem has become finding contractors that we can trust and who will actually show up and do the job.

We are having similar issues with contractors outside as well. Before we can fence and move animal structures, Spouse wants to level the area slightly by adding some fill dirt. Despite repeated efforts, we’ve made no progress on any of this. This is a major source of frustration because we can’t move till our animals move. To do otherwise would require two hours of every day be spent driving back and forth twice a day to the current house to feed, water, and secure the animals. Beyond that, the current house can’t go on the market till the animals and their housing no longer reside there.

At times, it feels like this transition will never end, and it is getting rather old.

Fortunately, ways to work off frustration abound, as we have started packing in earnest. So far, we are limited to items that we can comfortably assume we will not need for several months. Even with that, it’s a slow slog to pack up six people and a menagerie, and I am reminded once again why I am adamantly opposed to moving.

I swear my next real estate purchase will be roughly six feet long, four feet wide, and six feet deep. And someone else will have to do the packing.


With the painters’ arrival from California, things took a fast leap forward. I think I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

Mom’s shower went from this . . . .

To this . . . .

To this . . . .

The new tankless water heater was installed.

I know all the piping isn’t finished in this photo, but work with me here.

We started fooling around with interior paint.

And ended up with a primary color of Kelly Moore’s Hush Gray with Awakened accents in three rooms.

The Mercier hardwood for Spouse’s office, my office, and the pantry arrived and acclimated for 11 days.

The installer, Hardwood Perfections, did a fantastic job.

The new natural gas washer and dryer arrived.

Unfortunately, that is also when we discovered that the dryer heat vent was squarely placed *underneath* both the washer and dryer. All we can figure is that the previous owners put their washer and dryer up on a platform? Any other answer blocks the door into the garage.

Suffice it to say, in addition to moving one heat vent and one lighting mount, we’ve added moving the dryer vent to the list of jobs for the contractor. That said, the list for the interior of the house is at least getting shorter.

Outside, we did a bit more gardening, planting or transplanting two azaleas, three rhododendrons, three vinca, and two peonies. That moves pretty much everything we planted at the current house to the new property.

The lighting is bad, and they all look pretty bedraggled from the big move, but I have hope.

This week’s project is to get bids on draperies and shades.

As things are winding down inside the house, we are turning a more intense focus to the exterior. Spouse wants a rock retaining wall on one side the house. After that, we will be ready for the fencer, but I question when he will be ready for us since this is his busiest season. He will also break down and rebuild the three large animal shelters and hay storage that currently reside at our current house and fence off and gate the property so we aren’t wide open to the general public. After that, with all the contractors finally cleared out and some ability to control who comes in and goes out of the property, we will finally be ready to start moving in. That said, I’d guess we are probably two months out?

And so it goes.

Work Done, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants

(My apologies to Michael Pollan for mangling his catch phrase. )

Despite the passage of almost another month, little has changed at the house. Our contractor is still AWOL, and the tile for Mom’s shower seems to have taken up permanent residence in her sitting room. Spouse thinks the contractor is waiting for the installation of the hardwood flooring so he can finish the base boards at the same time. I have a less sanguine view.

Speaking of hardwood flooring, we made our final choice and placed the order this week for 400 square feet. We chose the Mercier Professional- grade Red Oak (far left below) at Completely Floored to match the existing flooring. It should take approximately ten days for it to arrive from Canada. Then, the hardwood needs to sit in the house and acclimate for another five days. After that, we wait for the installer to have an opening.

On other fronts, we now have a new natural gas meter:

Interestingly, it took three separate visits to accomplish this task. First, someone installed the new meter. Then, someone had to test it. Finally, someone came to turn it on. Nevertheless, its advent allowed the nicest, skilled plumber, Paul at Butterfield Plumbing, to install our new tankless water heater.

Other than that, there isn’t a lot to report inside of the house. Our house painter and his son expect to arrive this week and work for two to three weeks, so paint colors should rise in priority this weekend. (Secretly, I am hoping this also spurs our contractor to finish the shower, since the bathroom needs to be painted.) We are also ready to purchase a new natural gas washer and dryer since our current set run on propane.

Outside of the house is a different matter, however. Over the course of two days, I accomplished quite a lot:

Nine new fruit trees in the side yard.
A new dianthus, and a camellia and rhododendron transplanted from the current house by the front door.
Another transplanted camellia, four peonies (marked by stakes) and another new dianthus in front of Spouse’s office window. (Not pictured, four more peonies and 70 tulip bulbs across the way.)
Despite the terrible photo, two new blueberry bushes, two new lilacs and one transplanted lilac in the back yard.
Seven transplanted rose bushes in the front yard.
Sixteen varieties of Horton Iris Garden irises transplanted from the current house now residing outside Mom’s bedroom window.
And one lowly, transplanted clematis that I refuse to give up on.

While working in the yard, we were delighted to find that, not only do we have a basic irrigation system, it seems to function rudimentarily at least. With the advent of spring, I also spotted this:

Forsythia! This made me unnecessarily happy as it reminded me of my home in Califorinia.

That’s all, folks. Here’s to hoping that it doesn’t take another month to find more to report.

What a Difference a Day (Or Maybe a Well-Phrased Text) Makes

After my last rather dour post, things turned around quickly. Here are the highlights:

New pantry door!

We were so dazzled that we forgot to focus. This will be a recurring theme.

New glue chip doors to my office!

Something’s going on with the fireplace mantle. Spouse says this picture is an optical illusion. In fact, it is level. I am choosing to believe him.

And for the big finish, Mom’s shower pan is at least sitting in the right place.

The contractor also gave us the go ahead to contact our painter to get a starting date. Spurred on by this heady sense of progress, I also contacted our flooring company to get a bid on the laminate for my office and Spouse’s and left messages with two contractors for one of the outdoor projects.

Finally, Mom and I made time for a trip to Seattle Lighting, where she choose this lovely number for her bedroom and sitting room.

Livex Lighting 4824-91 Newburgh 3-Light Ceiling Mount, Brushed Nickel

It definitely feels good to see the wheels of progress turning once again!

Are We There Yet?

It has been almost a month since I last posted. Unfortunately, not a great deal has changed. At first, we blamed the snowpocalyse and a thoroughly icy driveway. Now, however, the snow has mostly disappeared, but substantial changes have not been forthcoming. Worse yet, our contractor continues to find more issues with the house that demand attention. In darker moments, it feels like we’ve bought The Money Pit or that we’ve hired Eldin Bernecky, the house painter from Murphy Brown, who moved in to paint Murphy’s house and stayed for six seasons of the show.

Here are the highlights.

We have a new kitchen door.

Door knobs are overrated.

And two new bedroom doors that lead to the deck.

No, I have no idea why anyone would put a heat vent in front of a door

We have two, count’em, two new electric car charging ports in the garage.

The weird track lighting in front of the television in the master bedroom is history.

And canned lights now go around the entire master bedroom instead of just one side.

Hurray for reading in bed!

The faucet in Mom’s shower is now on the right, rather than the left so she wont have to lean around the toilet (when it returns from exile) to turn the shower on from the outside, and has a canned light overhead.

Speaking of Mom, her bedroom now has one central light, although she will pick a different fixture and the old light mount still needs to be patched over.

My office also has a central fixture mount now, rather than two utterly useless wall sconces, although the actual fixture is not up yet.

On the one hand, this looks like a fair amount of progress. However, Spouse and I sat down today to review our initial contract and see where we stand. Here’s what we concluded:

  • Surface Protection: Covering floors and cabinets to prevent damage. Done
  • Fixing broken panes in Mom’s sitting room window – Not started.
  • My office doors – Started but no real progress
  • My office light install – Done, except for light fixture installation
  • Install #356 colonial 2 1/4″ base and reuse old stuff to repair other areas – Not started
  • Bedroom door upstairs replacement – Removed but not replaced
  • Pantry door replacement – Removed but not replaced
  • Mom’s shower – Waiting for shower pan as the first one arrived crushed
  • Remove window seat – Done
  • Fix master tub water fixture – Done
  • 2 car charger plugs : at panel¬† NEMA 1450R (tesla) ,¬† X Y W 240 Volt leaf on pole, drywall repair – Done
  • Master bedroom external doors – Done but needs locks.
  • Kitchen exterior door – Done but needs lock
  • Kitchen outlet power on island, one on each side – Done
  • Garage exterior door replacement – Done but needs lock
  • Seal floor of 3 rooms: 2 offices + great room upstairs. Done?
  • Living room fireplace – Done except for mantle.
  • Replace crawlspace door – Not started
  • Garage drywall patch – Done

In the meantime, the contractor found several problems in the master bathroom, and we added a few jobs we discovered:

  • Cover original light mount in Mom’s bedroom
  • Move heat vent in Mom’s bedroom to side
  • Move the light fixture to the center of the room in Mom’s sitting room
  • Add a shampoo shelf to Mom’s shower
  • Stabilize the glass wall in the master shower
  • Figure out why the master shower has only hot water
  • Fix loose floor tiles in master bath (Note: these last three items prove conclusively why DIY is a *really* bad idea.)
  • Add toilet paper spindle to guest bath
  • Fix wiggly faucet in guest bath

Compounding our sense of frustration, this is just our first in a series of contractors. We still need to get in line with our carpet company and the painter. While we know the carpet company works fast because they recarpeted our current home, the latter has estimated that he will need two to three weeks to complete the job. Outside, we still need to get a fencer to create a couple of paddocks for our large animals, dismantle our current animal shelters, and reassemble them at the new house. (And, in case anyone is keeping track, we still haven’t decided on a water heater.) Only then will we finally be able to pack and move to the new house and begin repairing the current house for sale. Suffice it to say, we wont be moving in over spring break as we hoped.

On another front, we have made a bit of progress on the flooring. Since the previous owner put new flooring in the kitchen and entry way last summer, we are attempting to match it so that it flows smoothly into Spouse’s office and my office. Here’s the best result thus far:

Shaw SL111 2212 Big Bend Oak

We also chose the tile for Mom’s shower. Since we can’t match the tile on the wall and the original tile was damaged in the removal, we attempted to find something complementary because anything too close would always look like a failed attempted at an exact match.

Daltile Memento White resting above wall tile (Bathroom lighting is not great for photography.)

Finally, on the current home front, Spouse and Sons put up a 10 by 20 pen for Knowie the horse. Knowie hasn’t been trailered in five years, so the idea is to get her comfortable in this small space, back the trailer to gate, load her goat friend Truffles, and she will simply walk in on her own with no fuss. (This solution is a vast improvement over chasing a Thoroughbred around a third of an acre till she (or more likely, us) wears out and gives in.)

Note food troughs inside.

So, that is where things stand for the present. Here’s to hoping for a more upbeat post next time.

Miscellaneous Updates

We are slightly snowed in here. (Okay, we could get out, but it’s too cold to make much of an effort.) So, it’s a good moment to catch up on a few more mundane details.

First, Spouse finally decided that Baldwin locks met his standards. So, as I write, twenty nine separate door knobs/locks and deadbolts are winging their way here. We chose the Tobin Passage Lever. The metal is termed “slate.”

The other big issue is lighting. Much of the main floor seems particularly dark. We are moving the fixture in my office from the wall to the center of the ceiling. We are adding fixtures to Mom’s bedroom, sitting room, and the master bedroom because all of those rooms have one small fixture on one side of the room. We are replacing the fixture in the laundry room so we can actually see the stains we are treating. To date, we have no plans to improve the ceiling fan/light in the living room, but we are aware that the room is essentially a cave. (Truthfully, we haven’t been able to find a way to turn the fan light on yet. We suspect a remote went for a walk.)

The questions for Spouse and I are how many lumens are enough, what type of LED bulbs are available to meet the lumen need, and what fixture will hold them? Because my office is for art, needlework, reading, and writing, I’ve said that I want enough light to be able to perform surgery. I tried to suggest to Spouse that this display was moving in the right direction for my office.

Nothing exceeds like excess, right?

Spouse and I did a test this past weekend with a shop light and found that 4000 lumens leaves no dark corners in my office on a dark, rainy night. I figure that a dimmer switch can be added later for less dark days.

With that information, Spouse researched and found this bulb, capable of almost 1300 lumens.

The issue then becomes finding a fixture that will hold several of these. That took us to Seattle Lighting. They had some rather unique choices.

Spouse really liked this wall mount.
We thought this would be cute for middle and youngest sons’ bedroom, but decided to pass.
Given Spouse’s preference for blue, I thought this Chihuly-meets-Spaghetti-Factory number would be perfect for his office. Suffice it to say, he passed.
This inverted bowl caught my eye. It makes a statement, but I’m not sure exactly what.

After all of that, we ended up in track lighting because it’s the rare fixture that will take LED bulbs that produce that large amount of lumens. Suffice it to say, I suspect we will end up with fairly utilitarian, maneuverable, white track lights in the darkest rooms. Something like one of these:

Then again, I’m not the sort to meditate on the aesthetics of light fixtures. I say, “Let there be light!”

Bits of Progress during Snowpacolypse 2019

A surprisingly strong snow storm has slowed life considerably here. Seven inches fell at our current home last Sunday night, and another six are expected tonight. Schools and colleges have been closed several days in the past week. If grocery stores are any indicator, they have been packed with grumpy people pushing heavily laden carts through mildly ransacked aisles.

That said, the snow provided the perfect opportunity to test the roof insulation.

We are pretty sure that rectangular shape to the left on the roof is a badly insulated attic door. Future project!

It is surprising any progress has been made at the house, especially considering the house sits downhill on steep drive that can be tricky to navigate in these icy conditions. Still, I have a few bits of progress to report.

The carpet is essentially gone from the house now and residing in this large, mildly damp pile in the garage.

Good riddance!

I think this rather large hole in the garage wall is evidence that work has begun on the two electric car chargers that will be installed in the garage.

Work has begun framing the wall that will enclose my office.

And these large holes in the floor upstairs represent the new lighting fixture and light switch in my office downstairs.

I know, a hole. How exciting. But it means I wont be reading by Braille in my office.

Finally, significant progress has been made on the fireplace.

When it’s completely done, I’ll post a before and after pic.

On the gardening front, I added two lilac shrubs to the orchard in the garage because, you know, there are several inches of snow outside, so of course!

If construction doesn’t end soon, I will have a nursery in the garage

Last of all, for anyone interested, here’s a better picture of my jutting kitchen cabinet under which my Ikea hack of the previous post will reside.

Bookmarking a Future Project

Today, I’m going to take a moment to bookmark a project for future reference. Behind the scenes here, there are neat lists and random scraps of paper galore with ideas for fixes and projects we want to consider later. However, for the time being, we are strictly limiting our focus to those projects that are either mandatory before we can move or best completed before six people and a menagerie are underfoot. That said, I’m pretty sure this blog will have plenty of fodder for years to come from the looks of the lists.

One side of the kitchen has a small wall space sandwiched between the kitchen entry and the staircase leading upstairs. The previous owners chose to put what I think was intended as sort of a free-standing china cabinet that protrudes into the walkway. (Of the thousand shots I have of the house so far, this is the best I’ve got of this cabinet.)

I recently happened on this Ikea hack, which I think might make a terrific addition, providing added storage and warding off the inevitable bumps that will result from the cabinet’s position. Even better, this is a fun project I can do with Spouse! I’m already envisioning a gray paint and faux marble top to match the kitchen island .

The plans and ideas just keep coming, and the fun is just beginning!

Days 2 and 3

Now the changes are coming rapidly.

No more carpet in the living room. What exactly did they do to the floor? Nevermind, I really don’t think I want to know.
Spouse’s office floor has been sealed.
And mine, too!
Evidence of the future outlet in the kitchen island that will bring it up to code and be so handy for using cooking appliances in the kitchen
Say goodbye to the wall sconces in my office!
Mom’s shower, tub, and fan are gone . . .
But not forgotten.
I can imagine that this is endearing us to the neighbors. I have to ask, wasn’t there some place safe in the house or garage? Really?

This hole beneath the master bath tub keeps getting bigger for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me. By the way, the tub, despite its resemblance to a sarcophagus, is staying.

Goodbye, rec room carpet.

I’ve decided to spare everyone (including myself) the pictures that Spouse took while using a black light to identify the pet stains. Suffice it to say, we are going to seal everything, and we aren’t going to salvage any carpet. Sigh.

Last, but not least in my mind, which is yearning for spring and gardening, the future orchard grew to nine trees with the addition of an apricot, a lapin cherry, a nectarine and a plum.

It is such a relief to see things moving forward, and I’m starting to see glimmers of the house I see in my mind’s eye. Very exciting.

Let the Demolition Commence!

Last Friday, we finally signed a contract with our contractor for a portion of the projects, with the idea that work could begin while we work out the details on other projects. And work definitely began today!

Our kitchen is currently wrapped in plastic..
The carpet is gone from Spouse’s office.
And my office.
They moved the toilet and removed the shower doors in preparation for removing Mom’s tub.
Mom’s window seat is officially history, and she gained an electrical outlet. Who knew?
The master bath has been covered in plastic and cardboard and the tub moved to gain access to correct plumbing issues, although we are considering a different tub because Spouse hates this one.

On a somewhat less exciting note, we made a couple of major purchases for the new house this past weekend.

Fruit trees!

The humble beginnings of our new fruit orchard: a semi dwarf Fuji apple, two semi dwarf black tartarian semi sweet cherries, and a 3 in 1 pear. (Not pictured: a Frost peach.)

Finally, our painters are coming from California and will live in the house while they repaint, so they will need beds. At the same time, our two youngest sons have outgrown twin beds (the middle one now stands over both is father and me!), and their bedroom in the new house will accomodate two queens, so we decided to upgrade this weekend while Costco had a sale.

Spouse and middle son lugging the first of two mattress and box springs upstairs to the attic storage.

We are now the proud owners of an attic full of mattresses.

I guess the best closer for this post is, “What a difference a day (or two) makes!”