Monday, November 30, 2009

Guess what happened today? One guess.

Alan the Tiling Guy was here.

He'd actually shown up on Friday, but we musta just missed him and left him locked out of the house. Oops. Sorry about that! Tomorrow he comes back to grout everything.

This is a pattern that Kevin and I made up. I started it with the basic concept, and he turned it into an achievable, repeatable pattern. And then he figured out the exact right level of scale for the six-inch tiles we picked out. There is one corner that requires a double bullnose in the light color - that means that two of the four edges of the tile are rounded off - and the two tiles that came in in that color were both busted. But we have plenty extra of the kind of tile that's got a bullnose along one edge only, and Alan thinks he can make it work fine with one of those.

In the meantime, many of the old crew were here to take their toys away. Here's John, packing up sawhorses into the back of his pickup. In the rain, I might add.

Then Jonathan and Steve showed up as well and also tooketh away.

Michael and Gary slaved away, as per usual. It's been raining here and there over the past few days, and we've had occasion to note how perfectly placed the grates in the deck are.

Over the weekend, we bought curtains for the bedroom.

In the cold light of the day after, I'm thinking this is maybe a little reminiscent of the self-confessed sartorial style of the author of "Eat, Pray, Love"; to wit, "Stevie Nicks Goes to Yoga Class in Her Pajamas." But hey: we like it. And we think it will look great. So there. Once we get them up, I'll post more pictures.

In other news, we haven't moved any books yet. The night is young. We're contemplating what to do with the space in the living room that will be freed up when the books go to their new home. One idea is to take all the woodstove-affiliated stuff...

...which consists of a custom-made-for-us woodbox (thanks, Jim!), and various brass and copper vessels of bark and kindling...and move it across the way.

Yet another collage - I just learned how to do a collage in Picasa, so pardon my over-use of the technique - showing the living room. So, all the woodstove paraphernalia shown at right, would go live over where that tall bookcase is.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We slept in til the crack of 9:00 am this morning, grateful to have each other, grateful for this beautiful space, and grateful for friends and family.

Our first order of business: go visit Patrick and Julia. When my dad died a couple of years ago, he left behind a vast house filled with books, furniture, rugs, prints, historical tchotches...some of which went to live at P&J's. As Kevin and I embarked on this project, Patrick made a generous offer to re-gift us with a couple of chairs from my dad's house.

Voila. Thanks, guys!

Kevin put the newly-urethaned shelves back in place...

...and we loaded up a table with books from elsewhere in the house. We're not sure it's a good idea to put them on the shelves yet - something about whether or not the screws holding the standards to the studs are really and truly The Final Screws. There are some screws here and there that definitely need to be replaced with smaller ones, because they interfere with the brackets. But aside from that, I seem to remember Jonathan saying something about "these are only temporary". Rather than load up the shelves with hundreds of pounds of books...we'll just wait til we can check in with Jonathan. Plus, we're waiting for another couple of dozen (!!) brackets.

Time for some pumpkin pie. (Actually, 'garnet yam' pie.) Happy Thanksgiving, everyone...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Another hard day at work.

It was raining lightly outside for much of the day, and the office was filled with Kevin's project - more on that in a second - so the only decent place for Steve and Jonathan to take their break today was our couch. They l-o-v-e it it when I surprise them by taking pictures. I have a few of Jonathan I could use to blackmail him, but so far I haven't needed to.

This is what Kevin was busy with: applying urethane to the boards that will comprise the wall-o'-books. Tomorrow they'll get a light sanding, and we'll put them in their right places - most of them, anyway. (We are waiting for two more boxes of brackets.)

Since the first thing Steve did today was polish off all details pertaining to the 'sun space', that space is finally totally and completely done. So, we put the TV up on its mounting bracket. (We're going to improvise a nicer cover for it - that's the sleeve it came in.) It's hard to describe how HUGE the existing living room now feels, with just another 3.5 feet of width added to it.

The view from the couch at night. Yes, I know - it's kinda stark. I have received (ahem) ZERO tips for houseplants from my devoted following.

The view from the office, looking back at the front door. Those bookshelves on the left are soon to be history, as their contents will be incorporated into the new shelves in the stairwell. That orange thingey is a Roland Simmons lamp.

Word on the street is that Alan the Tiling Guy is coming on Friday. He stopped by today and dropped off his equipment and whatnot. Yippee!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A final push: bookshelves, sun space, front door...

We had a full house today, for the first time in a while. Roll up your sleeves, here we go:

Now that the sun space floor is stained and sealed, the baseboards and trim along the sliding door can go in. There's John, muttering under his breath about how evil the plumbers are for having had the gall to install baseboard heating. It got in his way. Michael's in the background, contemplating the deck.

Steve started his day by putting the bullnose at the very top of the stairs. It was a special-ordered piece. You can see he's borrowed back the piece of flooring he used to burn out little plug holes for where the nails go. (I'd stolen it from him to use in an as-yet-unspecified art project.) At some point tomorrow, that little piece needs to get urethaned.

Michael on the deck. Note the grating - that went in yesterday.

The sheet metal place FINALLY constructed the uprights for the bannister. Here's Jonathan placing them. The goal here is to position the railing correctly so that the end of it can be smoothed out.

Oh, this is my day's project - putting up my bulletin board. Please note the profusion of tealights and the flashlight - we lost power last night for a few hours. I was right on top of disaster preparedness and did my part, by eating two bowls of ice cream. You wouldn't want a freezer full of melted ice cream, would you? I didn't think so.

John took a break from the sun space work and got busy replacing the glass insert in our front door. This isn't formally a part of the project as a whole, but it was flagged early on as something these guys could do. The whole door has been foggy for years and isn't insulated very well. But not anymore. Yay, John!

I baked banana cranberry walnut bread for the gang.

Michael and Gary cruised through their work on the deck. You can see Steve and Jonathan in the background, working on their respective projects.

Steve worked on the bannister while Jonathan started cutting and sanding the boards for the wall o' books. You can see a couple of them are in place.

Don't get used to this bannister - it's about to go away. The uprights will be sent to an auto body shop to be spray painted black. And then the cables will go in. Hearing that an auto body shop was involved, Kevin and I wondered if we could get flames painted on. I think that costs extra.

I've been chatting back and forth via email with a college roommate about the dreaded words "capillary action" as they pertain to unsolvable leaks in bathrooms. Thus fretful, I reminded Jonathan about waterproofing the alcove in the tub, and he painted this incredible layer of magenta goo waterproofing stuff. It turns out, incidentally, that Alan the tiling guy got the flu. But apparently he could be here as early as tomorrow.

By the end of the day, all the shelves were in place. (Not all are shown in the picture above, though - there's one more in that tall space.) Steve drilled little holes on the underside of the boards, where the tips of the brackets fit. Tonight, I need to vacuum the shelves down. Steve will finish up drilling the little holes. And then someone - likely us, actually - will urethane them.

The guys joked that we had ALL this shelf space, and we countered by saying that actually, we don't have enough. Kevin found that one of the bookcases will fit perfectly in the downstairs closet, so we immediately filled it with geeky grad school materials.

Here I am, looking my all-American best, in the slider, as photographed FROM THE DECK, hallelujah. Please note that in classic Sarah style, my shirt is mis-buttoned.

Monday, November 23, 2009

While we wait for the rest of the work to be done...

...we are moving in. There isn't a lot of news to report, but it occurred to me that there are some views of the whole project that might make it more apparent just how different the whole house is.

F'rinstance, when you sit on the stairs, you get a wide-angle view of the office (that's my desk), and the bump out (sun space). Yes, the bump out is blockaded with stuff to prevent the cats from walking on it - the sealer coats are still drying.

Here are a couple of views from Kevin's desk:

His view when he's at his computer...

And if he turns to the right a bit... he can admire the wall hanging in the living room.

Here's a collage of the view from the stove - the addition is to the left - you can see clear out the back of the house some 50 odd feet away. Woo hoo!

Michael and Gary were here today, working on the deck. They've got some of the grate in that will be just under the roof line so that rainfall/snowmelt don't accumulate on the deck. Naturally, I didn't think to take pictures when there was adequate light.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Dana M. Friedman Memorial Reading Nook

Here's today's project: we converted what used to be the bedroom, to a wee little reading room, using some of my dad's furniture. Thanks to our friend Dave (different Dave - this was Panama Dave) for help moving the couch up from the basement!

Not bad, eh?

The fun part was when we put the cushions on the sofa, and saw that there was a four-inch gap between them. Whoops! Turns out that when we gave our friends Pat and Vickie the matching three-person sofa last year, we'd given them the cushions from this sofa. So we headed out to their house today to do a swap. Now their sofa will cease spitting out its middle cushion. Whew!

Oh, hey - our first sleep in the addition was lovely! Lovely, lovely, lovely! In another week or so, some oriental rugs we've sent for cleaning will come home, and that ought to soften things up a bit - it's a little echoey in here today.

Kevin stained his new desk the same shade as the baseboards, shelves, etc.

All in all, a sweet day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

what a difference a day makes.

We were able to sleep in this morning until about 8:30, when the welcome sound of a pickup rousted us from our lingering dreams. The plumber! Hip hip, hooray!

He began unloading his truck.

This inspired us to continue the process of moving into the office. First up: figure out the modem/router/Vonage snarl of cables. Here's the Before picture.
Believe it or not, this version of Medusa's bad hair day is actually new and improved over what it had been a couple of months ago. While I worked on this, Kevin assembled my desk, and the plumber got busy with that toilet.

And here's the moment we've all been waiting for:
Woo-hoo! As you can see, we still need to get the handles onto the vanity drawers. That faucet, by the way, is actually a kitchen faucet, the better to accommodate Kevin's Man Hands.

I was out running errands this afternoon, and while I was gone, Kevin and the plumber moved the mattress upstairs.
Out with the old...

...and in with the new.

Here's the result of my handiwork today. I determined that the cable jack behind my desk isn't actually functional yet, so the cable into the modem (not pictured above - that's the wireless router on the left, and the Vonage thingey on the right) snakes around the corner on the floor into the sun space.

Here's my set up.

And here's Kevin's.
Sorry about how dark the picture's night and all. I'll try again in the morning.

Sweet Dreams, Everyone.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

we are cranky.

No tile guy = no progress on upstairs bathroom = no progress on moving in to the upstairs.

No progress on the wall o' books = no progress on clearing out the living room of by now half-empty bookshelves.

All that happened today was that Steve came by and cleared out tools and whatnot from the office. This was helpful, as it gave us the room to start assembling desks and such.

My Hero, assembling a drawer unit from IKEA. Note the already-assembled mini-bookshelf just behind him.

Drawer Unit.

The Batcave, a.k.a, the current office, and why we are restless to move. Can you even see that there's a rolltop desk on the right? Cramped quarters. Grrrr. Did I mention I'm cranky?

OK, OK, I forgot...Michael and Gary - they have just about wrapped up the deck railing, and next up, they'll do the planking. I believe it's gonna rain tomorrow, so their plan is to show up next on Monday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dedicated to the Birthday Girl, Miss Lizzie.

Happy Seventh Birthday, Lizzie!

It's official: we are no longer the Coolest, Biggest Project on the Docket. Today, Jonathan stopped by for a wee little bit in the morning, and then he was gone, baby, gone. No Steve. No John. Sob. Now, to be fair, there's some stuff we're waiting for from subcontractors: we're waiting for Concrete Guy to come around and do a second coat of stain on the 'sun space' floor -this will enable Jonathan to put up a couple of pieces of trim and the baseboard. And we're waiting for Alan to come tile the bathroom. And we're waiting for the plumbers to finish the plumbing in the bathroom. And we're waiting for Persons Unknown to finish making the posts for the banister, so that Steve can install it.

But we have an annoying dilemma: we can't really move in yet. We don't want to move the mattress up to the bedroom, because certain people (um, that would be me) don't really feel like navigating to the downstairs bathroom for the Noctural Visitations. And we can't move into the new office, because there's all this junk (er, equipment, sorry) in it.

But we can play in the closet, yes we can.

Before... ...After

And, truth be told, SOME people still love us and visit us faithfully.

Michael and Gary are nearly done with the framing for the railing, I believe.

But, to move on from whining, we got a visit from Other Gary - Gary the Solar Dude - today. He installed a timer, and gave us a lesson on How It All Works. We learned how to read the various sensors, and how to program the timer. Here's the basic idea: remember that huge water tank?

This one?

Well, the general idea is that the solar panels heat the water in the lower half of the tank, via coils of tubing filled with antifreeze. And the propane-fired Budaris boiler, which is that white wall-mounted thing to the right of the tank, heats the water at the top of the tank. You will recall from Science that hot stuff the boiler will only kick in if the solar-heated water isn't hot enough to heat the whole tank.

The function of the new timer is to establish key times of day that the Budaris will kick in, no matter what, to ensure that we have a whole bunch of hot water when we need it. Morning showers, evening cooking, that sort of thing. The boiler ALSO deals with the baseboard heating, but that's another matter.

So Gary told us what to pay attention to, and what warning signs merit calling him - puddles of antifreeze on the floor from the pressure relief valve venting, etc. etc. He assured us that no, the system will not explode. The whole thing really satisfied my inner geek.

In the middle of all this fun, one of the plumbers came by and installed baseboard heating in the two remaining locations: the batcave, and the 'sun space'.

The batcave. Note the baseboard in the back. This carpet, incidentally, is on Death Row.

At the very end of the day, Son of Concrete Guy showed up to apply the second, and as it turns out, third as well, coat of stain to the concrete floor. To remind us to leave it alone for 24 hours, and that includes you, Charlie and Maggie, he put up caution tape.

(Please notice the baseboard at the far end, while you're here). (And remember, that ugly paneling stuff is just lying used to cover the as-yet-unfilled gap between the concrete and the living room floor, but there's really no need for it...OK, Kevin just tossed it out onto the deck. Hooray!)

This stuff needs to dry for 24 hours. If it looks OK, then we wait an additional 72 hours, and he comes back (yes, even if it's the weekend) and applies sealer. Then, and only then, is it OK to walk on it. Tomorrow: Jonathan will clean out the junk-er-equipment so that we can move desks in. And maybe he'll figure out the boards for the wall-o'-books and we can get moving on that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Efficiency Vermont came today

Efficiency Vermont came today to test just how wonderful this project is. (See here for more info.) We may be eligible for tax credits. The first step was to see how airtight the addition is, so Steve and John put up a barrier between the living room and the addition.

The auditor then installed a fan on the exterior door of the office and basically sucked air out of the addition.

You can see the plastic bulging into the addition during this test.

He repeated the process for the existing house, and for the house as a whole, and we were told we passed with flying colors. We may be limited in how many goodies we actually get, because we have 'normal' light sockets, as opposed to sockets that can ONLY take a compact fluorescent.

Once those fun and games were over, John got busy making a frame for the cut-out between the crawlspace and the basement.

That's him on the right, and there's Gary on the left, working on the deck. The railings are going up, and after that, the decking itself will go in.

Here's John's handiwork: much better than blasted out cinder blocks!

Jonathan and Steve got the standards for the bookshelves in the stairwell set up.

And after they all left, I figured out where the shelves would be and put all the brackets up to help me. Kevin transcribed it for the guys to use tomorrow to cut the boards.

Next up: the concrete guy needs to have another pass at staining the floor of the sun space. He could be arriving any minute, actually. Alan the tiling guy will hopefully be making an appearance soon, along with the plumbers. Pant pant, whine whine.