Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks Be To God

Thanks be to God for roses rare,
For skies of blue and sunshine fair,
For every gift I raise a prayer,
Thanks be to God!

     Today is Thanksgiving, and there are not words enough to express my humble gratitude. We've worked a year on the new house. No one has been injured, fallen ill, ..or fallen, for that matter. Family and friends are all well and happy. 

   Last Wednesday the fireplaces came. They are BIS Tradition CE, which are non-catalytic zero clearance stoves, installed by Woodstove Warehouse in Kelso.
Ed had previously built the frames and chases, so it was just a matter of making a few adjustments and beefing up the base support. The doors aren't here yet, and the big aluminum protector plate will stay in place until the tile is set on the surround. 


  In the meantime, I stand where the kitchen will be, and admire the view. I love the openness of this floor plan. It will be nice to be in the kitchen and still be a part of whatever is going on. There will be craftsman style bookcases on either side. 

    Upstairs in the family room and library the other fireplace awaits. This is the view from the bedroom door. The entertainment cabinet will be on the left, and will have the TV, stereo and miscellaneous electronics. To the right will be a box for firewood. My guess is that we will spend the day downstairs in the kitchen and craft room, and evenings upstairs.  Time will tell. 

   In the wintertime, the view from the balcony completely changes. The big leaf maples,alders and cascara trees lose their leaves which allows us to have a clear view of the middle pasture and the creek. The creek takes on a life of it's own in the winter. We don't have rain storms, we have weather events. With 100" of rain per year, that creek can be really scary! Fortunately in the five years we've been here, it's only come over the top once.

   It's hard to believe we drove up here on Thanksgiving Day five years ago. We had the truck packed full, and pulled a trailer with the second car which was also packed full. Everything else came by moving van a week later. Ed commuted 800 miles each way to work for four long years. By Thanksgiving next year we should be in our new home. Thanks be to God.   

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Good News, Bad News

   We've had Mount Vesuvius in our front yard since the basement was dug a year ago. Most of the dirt went down into the pasture, but we still managed to keep quite a pile. Now that the bulk of the heavy delivery trucks have come and gone, we wanted to regain some semblance of a front yard. I've been trying to figure out what I want this area to look like, but it's tough to get the picture in my mind when there is a monster pile of mud in the center.

 Fall and winter are the best times to plant trees and perennials, so Ed wanted to move the dirt around before the heavy rains start. The rule is:
  " If there is sun, outside's the one. If it is wet, inside's the best bet."
 Ok, it's a cheesy rhyme, but it's the best I could do in a pinch.  Not only is the dirt heavier if it's soaking wet, but the tractor churns up the mud like a Cuisinart on steroids. It took two days to move the pile, and put it down on the road he's been working on. The first day was a nice day. The second day...not so much.
   By the end of the second day, things were pretty wet, but most of the dirt was gone. We spent the afternoon picking up construction debris and loading it into the truck. We then made the second dump run in a week.
   Now I can start planning! I see a kousa dogwood tree, a few small Japanese maples, some small lavender, rhodys...whatever the deer won't eat.

  Once the rains started, Ed moved back inside. The fireplaces will be installed tomorrow. Ed finished framing the upstairs fireplace.
    He also had to re-work the framing in the east bathroom. Because the plans showed no route for the HVAC ducting, we had to improvise. Some of it came up through the upstairs bathroom which completely changed the configuration of the bathroom. To retain the elements we wanted, ie, double sinks, we decided to take out the linen closet, put the sinks where the linen closet was going to be, and use an antique armoire for the linens instead. In practical terms, this meant, Ed had to rip out some framing that was already completed and re-do it. In mental terms, it was like removing a tooth with pliers. But once he made the decision, he went right to it. It'll be perfect.

He had some other details to complete upstairs, such as finishing the final pieces of fire blocking.

 He also had to frame in attic access panels in each upstairs closet, and one from the east upstairs closet to access the attic over the craft room. I'm not sure why these are code. I'm sure there is a logical reason...I'll let you know if I think of one.

    The good news is, tomorrow I fly south to visit family for a few days. The bad news is, the fireplaces will be installed tomorrow and I'll miss it. Hopefully Ed won't be too busy to take some photos. I'll only be gone for a few days, but things have started happening at a rapid pace.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Two Cats In The Yard, Life Used To Be So Hard, Now Everything Is Easy Cause Of You

   Who would have believed that the huge pile of lumber and Trex deck in the driveway would be almost completely gone? We can actually use the driveway now!
    This week Ed and Rick finished up the exterior decking and stairs. It's low on the list of priorities, but before final inspection, the stairs going up to the apartment will be completely re-worked and tied into the deck. In the meantime, it'll be a little tight walking into the garage.

   This portion of deck goes from the front side between the house and the garage, to the back deck. There are stairs on either side, one set that come up to the craft room door, then some that come down the back and to the garage entrance.
    I can't even tell you how nice it is to have stairs going up to the back door. No more entry ladders! And I can almost avoid walking in wet sand...almost. Of course the dog and cats don't want to go along with the program. Nonetheless, the amount of sand being tracked into the apartment has been greatly reduced. Even so, I could probably make sand sculptures with the amount of stuff coming in.

  Kendra doesn't make much of a mess. Oh, she sheds a little, and she's tough on the baseboards which she uses as a scratching post, but for the most part she's about as slow as you'd expect a 17 year old cat to be. She does enjoy a nice winter fire. She sat in front of our Hearthstone Tribute stove for about 20 minutes, staring at the fire like it was a TV. We love this stove. It's attractive, and efficient. Maybe a little too efficient for 700 square feet of living space. We have to be conservative in it's use or we roast ourselves out of the room!

 Mittens and Midnight have a different approach to the use of the stove. The stove makes a nice backdrop for the food bowl, which is, apparently, where Midnight spends his time. It's never too difficult to tell which twin is which with these two. Just remember to lift with the legs and use proper body mechanics when picking up one's cat. At 22 lbs., he's a workout.

   We had originally planned to put a Hearthstone stove on both floors, but finally decided to go with the BIS Tradition CE woodburning zero clearance fireplace. It is a very efficient non-catalytic fireplace, that will provide plenty of heat for our needs. Of course, we have a furnace system in the event we need that, but wood will be our first choice.

   I found a local supplier who will also be doing the installation of both fireplaces. I have every confidence Ed could handle the job, but this is one of those things that MUST be done absolutely correctly. Ed started working on framing up the surround. Since we have a fireplace upstairs and down, getting both stovepipes up the chimney will take some careful planning.
    Ed decided to build the surround on a piece of plywood so he could adjust the location when the installer is here, then nail the surround to the wall when it is in the perfect location. How does he think of that!?

 We will have a 12" rise for a hearth to make the fireplace more visible. It also makes a nice place to sit. There will be step-back bookcases on either side, in the Craftsman style. A nice book...a cup of tea...does it get much better than that?