Thursday, May 28, 2009

Breaking News!!!

We have water!

We have lights!

There is still a bunch more work to be done. The water is not yet hooked up to the sewer pump and the hot water heater won't be installed until next week. It will be a few days yet until the electrical work is finished. These are currently the only working lights but it is a start! I wasn't expecting the lights to turn on and just happened to be standing in view of them when they did. I squeaked in excitement.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Heart of the Home has Arrived

One of our more extravagant purchases during this whole shebang. Here is my lovely American Range.

Do you remember the Dodge Neon billboards from the '90s? The ones where the car looked all happy and said "hi"? That is what our toilets remind me of!

Ahhh Summer

A field of daisies on the mail route

Walls, Walls, Walls, Walls (and Trim!)

More trim has gone up. In fact, at this point all the trim is up except for the baseboards. Yay! doesn't it look fantastic?

And speaking of fantastic, how 'bout this wall, huh? I have meant to put chinking in it for months but never got around to it and finally just decided I could live without it. Thanks to Kathy for kicking me in the butt and pushing me to do it. It is wonderful!

What wasn't wonderful was having to re-sand all the living room walls. We sanded them once, varnished them, sanded them again and then put on the second coat. I don't know if I got a mislabeled can or what but what was supposed to be a satin finish turned out disco-ball shiny. The glare from the gloss was AWFUL! We just couldn't endure the shine so we sanded it all down. AGAIN. And today we started oiling the walls for a more subtle finish. It is looking much better.

Look at all the beautiful wood. It was soooo worth saving. Although Matt might not agree right at this moment as he is varnishing the ceiling, one of the more tedious and messy tasks.


This is what we do for our TV addiction. We don't have cable up here, only satellite TV. The satellite company won't mount the dish on our steep, metal roof. In order to clear the tree line for a good shot to space the installers suggested way back on the property. So, we dug, or rather we hired someone to dig. We learned our lesson digging for the electrical line.

Here is the machine that did all the digging. The dig here is for the propane line. We are going put the tank on the far side of the shop so it's ugliness isn't the first thing we see when we drive in.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Little Bunny Foo Foo

Drew and I went to Longview this evening to buy some stuff from Lowe's. When we got back we were talking with Matt in "the Room" (as I have taken to calling our little living space. It must be spoken out loud in dark and ominous tones), when we heard a loud squealing coming from the bay (the unheated garage portion of the pole building currently a maze of boxes and stuff waiting to move into the house). Drew and I are all, "what the . . ?" and Matt is all, "I know! I just heard that 10 minutes ago. There is murder going on in the bay. Norah and Audrey have something out there but I can't find what they have." The three of us went out to investigate but came up empty. Drew went home and I was futzing around on the computer when Matt came in from the bay with a stricken look. "It is a RABBIT!!!" he said. I was all, "OMG, OMG, OMG! Where is it? Is it still alive? What do we do?!!" Matt put on a pair of gloves and I got a towel and he eventually cornered it in our recently emptied kitchen sink box. We wrapped it in the towel, took a couple of pics, briefly succumed to its utter cuteness, almost kicked all the cats to the curb and kept the bunny, came to our senses and took it outside into the forest. Hopefully it had a chance to find a hiding place before Norah and Audrey discovered it was gone from the building. When we came back in they were stalking around the bay like a couple of lionesses on the veldt.
Now it was a small rabbit to be sure but we must give mad props to Norah for this catch. Remember Norah is our tiny dancer, she isn't much bigger than a kitten. It won't be long now before she drags in a freaking raccoon.

I Guess I Lied When I Said No Posts Until the House Was Done!

When we returned from Los Angeles we discovered that Tom had put the wraps around almost all of the windows! (Is it just me or does he seem to work much faster when I am not around to "help"?) The wood was cut on his sawmill from beams that supported the house on it's old foundation. We then planed it on Uncle Bob's planer and then stained it. FYI, if you are interetested in the stain color, we have been using Minwax Provincial in most of the house with the exception of the upstairs where we are using Driftwood and the beam in the kitchen where we used Puritan Pine. Another note, the horns on top of the windows are a recreation of what was in the house originally. We still have the original trim and are going to be putting it us use wrapping the doors and for baseboards and trim along the wood ceiling edges.

And check this out!
Our cabinet maker, Warren Tilley, started our kitchen install yesterday. It looks fantastic! If you are in Washington and looking for custom cabinetry we can recommend him with highest marks.

He also built our master bathroom vanity. I tried to find an antique to adapt for use here but was unable to come up with anything that was the right size. I did find an antique commode to use in the guest bathroom. I will take a pic of that when it is installed.

On the Mail Route

Nanny Goat here was really, really vocal. Perhaps that is why she was tied to a tree out by the road. Far, far away from the house.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Blessed Be the Wright Brothers

The weather here in Winlock last week was a soaking, chilly rain. Thank the stars that we had a little trip scheduled. Matt got called into the office for a few days and no way in hell was I planning on staying behind so on Wednesday we headed to PDX in a downpour, boarded a plane, and landed in Burbank to 95 degree sunshine and blue skies. Ahhhhhhhhhh.On approach looking at the smoke from the Santa Barbara fire with a husk of dead insect in the foreground. It was stuck between the window panes.

We picked up our rental car at the airport, drove to the North Hollywood park and ride and hopped on the Metro so we could get to 7th and Metro downtown.

We had dinner at Ciudad, one of our favorite spots.

Behold the beautiful colors on Matt's dish of black cod.

The most delicious thing I ate on the trip: Watermelon salad with baby watercress, oaxacan string cheese, pedro jimenez reduction, macadamia nuts, marash chile. Sigh. Heaven.

Then came Thursday. I dropped Matt off at work in Westlake Village at 8am and headed to Ikea Covina. See, about a year ago we picked the handles for our kitchen cabinets from Ikea but I didn't know how many to buy so I just kept checking to make sure they were still there whenever I would go in. A month ago when all the cabinets were designed and we knew exactly how many we needed, I went to Ikea Portland to buy them only to find they had been discontinued. Did Seattle still have any? Nope? How about Utah? Nope. What about anywhere in the Los Angeles area? Covina!! They held them for me for 3 weeks until I got there. So nice. Got to Covina at 10am and it took about an hour for the employee on duty to find the handles artfully hidden by the person I spoke with on the phone.

After Ikea Covina I went to Violet's Cakes in Pasadena (This should come as a surprise to no one), did a little shopping and then made a trip back out to Matt's office to drop off a dozen cupcakes for his coworkers.

I headed back to the Woodland Hills area near our hotel for a mani-pedi. It was stupefyingly easy for my nail tech to convince me to upgrade to the deluxe mani-pedi. My eyes rolled back as my arms and legs were massaged, scrubbed, oiled and lotioned. It felt sooo nice. I tried not to think about how soon my fingernails would be destroyed by the mail route and all the stain that still needs to be applied to various woods in the house.

Back to Westlake Village to pick Matt up, then back to Woodland Hills to dress for dinner at Campanile.

I don't know what to tell you about Campanile. They sat us at the crappiest table in the house. I spent the first hour of dinner wondering what it was about us that made the hostess decided to dump us in a walkway. I settled on two possibilites: 1. Braces are undignified and I look like a pimply faced know-nothing or 2. Our nearly two years in Winlock have rubbed off on us more than we are aware and we ooze country bumpkin. Did I ask to be reseated? I did not. Do I wish I had? Yes. Through dumb luck we ended up at Campanile on Thursday night and Campanile is famous for "Thursday Night Grilled Cheese Sandwiches". It's their thing. We were torn. Do we order something off the regular menu or have a grilled cheese to find out what all the fuss is about. We ended up each getting a version of the grilled cheese. Meh. I had fried green tomatoes as an appetizer and they were delicious - once I got them. See, I received sliced tomatoes with shrimp and when I sent it back, the waiter told me I ordered sliced, not fried. That bugged me. Matt thought his salad was much more exciting than his sandwich. Dessert was great but my overall impression of Campanile was weak.(No pics of the food here. It was too swanky to break out the camera. Matt would have died right there in his chair. The only thing worth shooting would have been the architecture and the dessert: honeycomb, hot fudge, and discs of sponge cake in a tower of tasty).

But that is all of no matter when there is blue sky overhead.
Friday morning I took Matt back to work and then crossed the hills over to Malibu for a drive down Hwy 1. I stopped at Zuma Beach and took these pictures.

Then I drove up Topanga Canyon, had a late breakfast at Pat's Grill, looped back up to Westlake Village, killed a few hours watching Rudo y Cursi, picked up Matt, drove back to the airport and flew home. We landed with just enough light left to see that the sky was clear. Whew.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What I am Listening to Now

Where Have I Been?

It is oft commented how hard building or renovating a home can be on a relationship. I am here to tell you that I have been knocked off my high horse. I was certain we were up to the challenge. I am very humble now.

I have not wanted to post because I have been in a really bad place and didn't want to share for a multitude of reasons: Some info was too personal, I didn't want to spread the poisonous mood, I lacked the emotional energy get through a real day let alone re-live it by posting on the blog. I intended the blog to be an accurate account of this adventure but you and I will have to settle for an account filled with holes. I guess I will let those posting dry spells speak for themselves.

Not to worry, Matt and I have made it through and will be better for having slogged into and out of the dark places. I know I have made mention to my mood in past posts with the hope that things were turning upward. That was me willing myself out of a bad place and not quite getting out. I have made it out now. It is a huge relief.

I can now say that we expect to be all finished up with the house by July 1st - final inspection, transfer from construction loan to mortgage, etc. I am so glad to be here. I am profoundly, inexpressibly grateful to Tom and Kathy for the hundreds of hours of labor and million acts of kindness they have given. I am so sorry I collapsed so completely in the middle of the process. I thought I was made of different stuff.

I am going to tell you right now that you are in for another posting dry spell. This drought will not be because of a black mood. This drought will be because we are working our tails off to put this project to bed. Expect the next post to be an unveiling of sorts - a kind of "Driver Move that Bus" moment from Extreme Home Makeover. People, we are at the finish line here! Happy Spring! Happy Summer! Happy Life. And love to all my family and friends who I have so horrendously neglected over the past 6-9 months.

Love, -Michelle

Let's Open the Mailbag, Shall We?

I have taken these pictures on the mail route over the last few months:
We have a goat farm in Winlock (The Blue Rose Dairy) that produces delicious goat cheese. The goats are not always in the field by the road so I don't get to see them every time I do this route.

In the spirit of past posts highlighting the homemade signs so prevalent around here, I present a warning against human waste. No, I have not visited the website. This sign is an upgrade. For months there was a small stenciled sign tacked to a fence. One day it was gone. The next week it was replaced by this giant sign. Well, giant might be taking it too far. It is maybe 6 or 7 feet wide.

Geese. Mean and Funny rolled into one.

Whatcha doin?

I shot this one rainy day a few weeks back. I was going to put it to music but I decided to leave the background noise. That way you can enjoy a little slice of rural mail route life. I am listening to "The Sound of Young America" on XM133. I know this world is different strokes for different folks but believe me when I tell you there are many moments in a rural mail carriers daily grind that are very nearly perfect.

Cat Update

In the "Old News" department, Una is older than dirt and is continuing to age. Check out her gnarly thumbnail! WTF?

Russell and Audrey continue their love affair. . .

. . . Despite the fact that Russell desperately needs his teeth cleaned. I hope to take care of that this summer.

And then there is Norah. Oh Norah. She is a tiny thing. At the moment she weighs in at 6.7 lbs. and we don't expect her to get much bigger. She is a mighty huntress. Yesterday was a really rainy day and we noticed mouse and shrew carcasses floating everywhere! She is fearless and that worries me greatly. Speaking of fearless, also yesterday, the deer were in the yard and Audrey and Norah decided the deer would make good playthings. They started darting out of the grass at the deer. I wish I had video. You have never seen more confused deer in your life.

Lily refused to be photographed for this feature.

Quinten remains on his walkabout but, perhaps through astral projection, remains with us in spirit and markings through Norah.

Little Project

I have been on the lookout for a little medicine cabinet for the guest bathroom for months. I finally found one down in Kalama. (FYI, for any Twilight fans - and they are legion - the high school scenes in the movie were filmed there). Anyway, while the size and shape were perfect, the bright lilac color was not. So I am scraping it off.

Internal Affairs

Looking upstairs.

Living room and kitchen looking through to the window in the master bedroom.

These Floors are Made for Walking

What is it about finishing the floors that makes it all feel so REAL!

This is the guest bedroom. Look how beautiful those board are! We didn't have to replace a single piece of wood in this room.

They are working in stages. This is the dividing line between the guest bedroom/little hall and the living room. The living room is the last room they will finish.

In my yellow room the floors have been stained but not varnished. We did have to replace a couple of boards in this room but not nearly as many as we thought.

All the wood in the house, new and old is fir with the exception of the bathroom floors. The wood in those rooms is pine and was generously donated by friend Jess and Joelle Winters. It was left over from another project and I think it was meant for this purpose. We got 139 square feet from them and used about 135 square feet!

Hard and Soft Options

The nearly completed mud room. We just need to put trim boards along the floor and in some of the corners. The walls are #3 grade fir. Looking at the room you might think that that was the most difficult part. The travertine on the floor was some sort of closeout. We got a screaming deal on it. But! As our tilers were finishing up the laundry room (to my back as I shot this photo) they found a bunch of cracked tiles at the bottom of the pallet so we had to scramble to get more. It took three weeks and I don't really know how or where my supplier found it but more tiles finally arrived. Also cracked! We made do with what we got and when you come to visit I bet you won't be able to tell.

Cedar walls and ceiling in the master closet looking out into the master bedroom and the laundry room beyond.

Here are some shots of the master bathroom. The ceiling is the same wood as the mudroom and we used slate around the tub. We looked at all kind of tile options for the tub and shower and the floors in the mud room and laundry room. Real stone was cost prohibitive but ceramic/porcelain reproductions didn't feel authentic enough for this house. I just kept on searching and re-thinking the look I wanted until I got real stone at a price I could live with. Originally I wanted stones that were in the oatmeal color family for everything. I really couldn't have ended up farther away than that with the bathroom walls but we LOVE the slate!

Skin Deep

Here is what things look like on the exterior at the moment. As of now we are done on the outside with the exception of painting the trim around the windows and putting sealant on the deck and porches. We can't fill up that trench until we get the water and gas in there. That will be a few weeks down the road.

Making sure we had a deck of usable size has turned out the be the best design decision we have made so far. Sitting on the deck watching the deer is a dream. When the first design of the house was done the deck was only 6' wide. We punched it out another 4'. It made a huge difference in the way the space can be used.