Tuesday, February 2, 2010


we are really almost done,. they are painting the trim today. I have given up updating, the laptop at home decided to die a slow and impending death. things at work got busy and then hit warp speed. it's just one thing after another but it is ALL GOOD. I'll shut this blog down soon, as it was only intended to offer my (wretched) friends and family who said, "Oh but you MUST keep a dairy of the process....and who have probably read this thing maybe...twice in its lifetime...you wretches....

so there! :-)

if you've got my email address, and really want to know, drop me a line. there's a lot going on on the domestic front - the house and elsewhere and it has been good.

The half ironman looms :-( and yes I am training.

ta ta!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Xmas

We return to our regular if belated posts of the progress or lack thereof tomorrow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Day 49

What a week. The emotional stress of that wretched kitchen.

This weekend saw us cleaning the dark hole that is the garage. Why anyone would put crap in the garage and leave two perfectly good and somewhat expensive cars outside is simple a sign of the abundance that is America. Of course, leaving cars in the driveway is also now seen as an additional deterrent against crime.

We tackled with some grimness the boxes that were piled in the garage. Throwing away a good many. It reminded me of the disaster that was our tiny storage unit when we first moved here and didn't have a place for our extras (we lived in a very large mansion overseas) and by the time we got to those boxes, several boxes of paperback books were ruined.

So it is looking a little better in the garage because you can actually see the floor. But we've got a ways to go and the threat, aye, threat of the sheet rocking looms.

So we felt somewhat productive this weekend. Apparently the cement fellow came to measure the patio and the driveway. We will be getting an estimate on what it will cost to pour a new driveway and a patio. I'm not convinced we really need to do either. I'm rather fond of the idea of doing a simple sand foundation and putting big pieces of flat stone on top.

For someone who dislikes driving, I have spent an inordinate amount of time driving from one place to another with mapquest directions, and getting lost since I didn't reverse said directions, or simply setting off with some faith in verbal directions, only to get lost and remember why the f#$^ I don't like driving.

"Are you coming from west or east?"
"I dunno"
"Well are you coming from downtown?"
"I think so"
"ok, so turn north."
"Is that right or left?"

This past week saw me tackle the slate for the patio on some highway I've never heard of, in some part of town I've been to once in 7 years. I saw a vast assorted of rocks, and learned about granite. The company specialises in "exotic" granite. Apparently, it's all in the detail. Builders usually buy granite that lends itself to less waste. So if you're going to cut counter tops, you want to minimise waste and get granite that will look good and not be difficult to match at the seams. You might only need one slab for an entire kitchen.

"Exotic" granite isn't that generic and hence you might need two slabs just to get it to look flawless.

Today, I sped off to another show room to pick out tiles. There's a heck of a lot more than I realised and I find myself deeply nostalgic for the days of living in third world countries where you had a generous two choices.

Fortunately, my choices are very basic and simple. Show me what's in my budget and then show me what's in the lower range of that budget. Then show me a tile that is durable, doesn't wear more sparkle than a 2 year old, and lends itself to grout that won't show evidence of how messy we are. That's it.

After that, I went to a "sister" showroom, tell me do they ever have brother showrooms or maybe even the Mother of all showroos?, and proceeded to be intimidated by the stacks of enormous pieces of granite stacked throughout the warehouse in no discernible order. It was throughly distressing as there no evidence of order.

"Is it...alphabetical? I asked the young man hopefully as I put on the rather flimsy orange mesh vest. I assumed the vest was supposed to help a fork lift operator see me since it certainly wasn't going to help if a slab fell atop me.

"No," h said cheerfully, "it's just kinda all over the place. You just walk around and pick what you like."

"What about colours? Does it go from dark to light, or maybe from highest price to lowest?" I offered hopefully.

"Nah...."he shrugged. "Cathy will be here soon and she'll come find you."

And find me she did as I was contemplating walking out and going online. Surely I could get Amazon.com to ship me a slap of granite in the exact colour. With Amazon prime, I'd probably get free two day shipping too.

We took care of business in 5 minutes and though she said I was welcome to continue looking, I gratefully escaped with the samples she gave me and took off without a backward glance.

Because, as you know, I was still trying to figure out where the hell I was and how I was going to get back to where I needed to be.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 45 Friday

The designer came back with the plans for the kitchen yesterday, three options. They all look good. What doesn't is the "at least 35k".

I'm not crazy about the idea. I don't see the point of tearing up a decent though not enormous kitchen. Granted, it's not spacious and I've struggled with lack of counter top space. But with a pantry to store items in, this might not be an issue or as much of one.

I contacted the tile/granite company to ask about removing the slab of granite and moving it, and the woman said they did that in their showroom and it worked fine. The fabricator said it depends on how it's done and how it's anchored to the cabinets. So they will come out on Monday and look.

I feel strongly that we can and should salvage and use what we already have rather than tear the whole thing out.

Also some of the options like a double oven while "nice" might really not be that practical for us. I don't bake as much as I used to, and I have no fantasy of turning into a kitchen goddess.

We passed electrical inspection yesterday. Today was structural and the men were completing the siding on the upper level on the back and siding the front of the garage. The electricians were there this morning in preparation for the sheet rocking which we are apparently only a few days away.

If we tear out the kitchen, we're looking at an overall 3 to 4 week delay. Not something I want to do!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

somewhat unrelated remodel issues

Yesterday R calls me with a hint of concern in his voice.

"We have a lizard emergency."

The lizard is a western fence lizard aka blue bellied lizard that D2 caught in Taos,NM this summer, which we then kept for D1's boy scout reptile merit badge. The boy scouts have a lot to answer for in this household....

Thanks to craiglist and the internet, the most fabulous terrarium was created (required for webelos naturalist merit badge). We fed him generously and he rewarded us with much larger piles of lizard poop than I thought possible from such a tiny thing.

With the remodel coming up, I farmed out with lizard with not so subtle hints about meeting requirements for merit badges to the boy scouting community. Family 1 took it and survived although webeloe mum reported that C was "grossed out by cleaning out the poop."

I was too...

He/she/it is currently on his/her/its third family.

"Does it ever hide in the sands during the day?"

"oh yeah..." I said thinking of the times when I thought the wretched reptile had escaped SOMEHOW and caused me to doubt my own sanity and memory(which I do often anyway....).

"Yes, but does he stay down for more than 8 hours?"

"Well.....I think so...I mean, he's disappeared on us before and then he reappears."

"I sifted the sand gently and I didn't see any evidence of him."

How well I know....he had us so baffled with his amazing disappearing act that we took to calling him Houdini. The first time he pulled that stunt, I realised I had become rather fond of it, and was rather worried that he had run away never to be found. We took the top of the terrarium off, put some crickets in, left the heat lamp on and were so pleased to see him sunning himself the next day that we never interrogated him about his whereabouts.

We finally figured out he never got out but went underground when he disappeared on me one evening. One minute he was there and the next he was not, and the top of the terrarium was firmly attached. 30 minutes later, he was on his sun rock.

R was still speaking on the phone, "We had it under control until yesterday when the cleaning lady came in. She didn't realise it was in K's bedroom and she left the door open. The cat was on top and his weight bent the netting a little. I thought I fixed it. I can't imagine how it could have gotten out even if there was such a small opening......"

"Maybe it went deeper underground if it was traumatised?" I suggested. R was much more worried about the lizard than I was.

He sighed, "Or maybe....it got eaten..."

Suddenly a poopless future glimmered. It had been two months since I had seen the lizard. With four demanding kittens that we rescued 3 months ago, scooping up lizard poop seemed to add just a little more work than I was prepared for.

I quickly reassured R, "It's fine. Worst come to worst, don't worry about it."

"Well worst come to worst....what did you say it was?....we'll get D2 a rejuvenated one...."

"No no...REALLY....you don't have to BUY us ANOTHER one...."

"Oh no...tell D2 not to worry...."

I looked over at D2 who was happily playing with his friends and had not mentioned or seemed to remember the lizard at all.


"I'll send you an email if it resurfaces."

A full 24 hours later..an email pops up. 'Just when I had given up hope, I come home and there is the lizard sunning him?self on his sunning rock, acting all innocent.'


Posted by Picasa

Picture of Houdini with his late best friend, the Giant Grasshopper. Houdini used to sleep on the plants before he discovered the security of the caves we built him.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wed Day 44

Mechanicals passed inspection today. Wish I could say the same for 26% of my students.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Day 43

I think one of my strenghts is that once I decide to take on a project, I rollup the proverbial sleeves and power through it, pushing all and any obstacles out of the way. Of course, one of my failings once I decide to take on a project is that I rollup those same sleeves and power over any and all obstacles in the way..

The kitchen is going to be done. I am not convinced it necessary but that is likely because I spend a great deal more time in it than any other human being in this household and I'm much more aware of the reality rather than the ideal.

"Why would I need a double oven?"

"Well wouldn't it be nice for the holidays?"

"I leave during the holidays. That's why it's called a 'holiday'"

We're going to re-use the upper kitchen cabinets in the garage, though I don't know that the bottom ones can be salvaged as we will have to tear up the granite. I've become rather fond of that granite, so we're going to attempt to salvage some of that and put that in the utility room. We're not going to be able to use it in the secondary bathroom as the counter top there is about 6" and the huge slab we have is just about 5". Personally, I'm not fussed about seam here or there.....

However, apparently the real cost of the granite is not the stone itself but the labour.

I've contacted the designer that Jeff recommended as we need it fast. And we'll meet on Thursday and get this sorted out.

I went to the builder's office and met with his highly competent manager who showed me a selection of granite and tiles. I didn't really like any but there is a huge difference between a 12 inch square and a counter top. Granite I didn't think I liked actually looked quite nice on a counter. They had a small sample of counter tops. I said I would prefer to use remnants as I did in my bathroom remodels. She got on the phone and called the fabricator to set up an appointment for me to go through the bone yard. Doesn't that sound positively deliciously ghoulish....

As for the tiles, I have an appointment next Monday to go pick some out. I really don't mind the remodel. The stress comes from having to have these choices. I'm sure some people embrace these opportunities. I just don't really care much for it. I once knew an older (ergo different generation) woman who lectured me that "the house was the most important part of a woman's identity and that's why 'we' take as much effort to make it beautiful"

I dunno about you but my house is just a place I live in and my home is where my family is. I don't much care for the bells and whistles that adorn many new million $ houses today, but I do ask them to pick their flipping c%&p off the floor so I don't trip over and break my neck. And to pick up their socks,for heavens sake.

Beyond that, I don't really think of what I live in as my "identity" and not being an overly domesticated individual, having to make choices between one finish over another strikes near terror in me. What if I make the incorrect choice?

What I do care about in no particular order is
1. How easy is it to clean it?
2. How durable is it?
3. Does it show dirt easily?
4. How much does it cost?

Steve from the tree company came over and we walked the front and back lawn. He gave us a very reasonable estimate to trim the redoak and water oaks and various trees as well as deep fertilise.

The electricians hooked up power to the temp meter and there was LIGHT!! It was very exciting....and they are going to drop the wiring into one of the old bedrooms for a tv outlet later. We also picked out a spot to put the cable wiring, though now that I think of it, I might hightail it back and ask if another spot can be used instead....

The ac inspector came....and went...and we passed inspection.

I better get back to the house now that I think about what I want to do with the cabel wiring...