Sunday, November 19, 2017

O Captain! Her Captain...

We recently moved some old boxes around as we continue sifting through lots of old stuff and this very old box ended up right next to my drum set. As I stared at it tonight, memories of my last San Francisco roommate and her boyfriend whom she later married, a captain in the Army, came flitting back. So long ago, but some moments so very clear.

I did a quick Google search to see if we could re-connect with them and I was stunned to see that he died in a car accident a few years ago. They had been together through undergraduate and graduate degrees, two daughters, and lots of years. At age 51, gone. All the plans they had to grow old together, cut short. It's somewhat poetic that I should think of them as I sat down to practice something I put off exploring for so long. Be all that you can be, now rather than later.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Enjoying a lovely cab

We have been working on some fun final details, including finishing the kitchen cabinets. It is always fun for me to see the process, especially when I return home to find the drawers up-ended and resting while they wait for installation. The hardware underneath intrigues me so this is a great chance to see it up close. Our kitchen is getting closer to completion, but enjoying the journey is what's most important to us.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Carpentry geeks, unite!

What does a talented carpenter do when he finishes a big milestone? He starts a new project, this time for some friends. [There's much more to do on our project, but he wants to finish up a few details for on long-promised projects.] And when I have the day off, we make an adventure out of a trip to Economy Lumber, suppliers to woodsy folk since 1936.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I said, "OH! This is the place we visited a while back, and I remember promising not to embarrass you in there by taking too many photos." Try as I might, and desire as I do to not be a goofball inside, I still had to take photos, crack jokes with the staff (who did not seem to know how to take my invasion into their clubhouse), and do things to make my boy laugh while we waited for our turn at the counter.

The last time we visited, I marveled at the oddly tall doors for one of the buildings in the yard. Imagine my sincere, lumber-geek delight to discover that we were going to actually step inside that building, past those giant doors. SQUEEEEE! Or, perhaps I have been around construction for too long. Naw, delighting in stuff everybody else passes by is my jam. The last photo below shows a worker and Bill inside that building with the reason the doors are so very tall.

Bin-iful bounty of nails, screws, and bolts

I have no idea what these are, but they are cool. That is all.

We might have finished sooner if we had bought earlier.

The mystery of the super tall doors is solved.

Monday, July 31, 2017

So, this just happened...

All you need is love ... and awe for that love

Even after all these years, I am still rather in awe of Bill's amazing skills. Our remodel project has given me lots of opportunities to watch with incredulity as he has tackled thousands of projects small and large. On Saturday, he said, "I'm going to go hang a door." And, rip zip quick, he was done. I'd like to think that one of our survival mechanisms through this big project (after our shared sense of humor) is deeply appreciating what he can make happen.

I was reminded of how far we have come when I laid down in our new gym to rest my back on Saturday afternoon:

That big beam, which is openly visible in the gym and travels through the attic space towards the back of the house, brought back some memories. I was working from home one day several years ago and had the opportunity to watch Bill + four friends muscle that beam into place using their ingenuity and strength. It was so nausea-inducing that I had to walk away and distract myself while they continued on -- I couldn't watch the action without deeply worrying for their safety, but those boys were successful that day. That beam serves as a reminder of our devotion to this project, mad building skills, and intense teamwork.

Here are a few scenes from this weekend.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Lighting the way home

The electricians visited today and made magic happen, both inside and out. Most special to us was the power that was hooked up to our front porch light, which we wrote about a while back while Bill was rebuilding it. This new photo is blurry but a very special milestone.

We appreciate the beauty of this one remaining intact piece of our old house and how it still lights the way to our home.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Handle me with care

I don't think there's anyone who doesn't want to be handled with care. We look forward to giving every visitor who rises to our second story a handrail so that they may rise with care.

As The Traveling Wilburys said: "You're the best thing that I've ever found. Handle me with care."

Hank concurs.

Taking our milestones when we can get them

For the first time in our lives together, we have more than one bathroom
and the TP is ready to be distributed.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Job dog

We've been using the term "job dog" for so long that I didn't even know that the phrase seems to be short for "Job site dog," when a person in the trades brings their pup to work.

What makes a good job dog? According to one of our dear friends and construction helpers, a dog that stealthily sneaks up on workers who are heavily concentrating is not eligible for being labeled as a good job dog. Okay, Kyro is out of the running.

However, Hank is the best job dog ever. Well, after our beloved, departed Nikki. Hank naps nearby and wakes up just enough to wag lightly as you come through the room. Or, he gazes at you as if to say, "Have I told you that I really, really love you?" All while being super relaxed. You're a good boy, Hank.

A chill job dog

Sunday, July 16, 2017

It takes a village to build a house

Yesterday was a great day in the smallest, yet largest, of ways. We rode off on our bikes in the morning to get coffee, visit our local bike shop, and then get groceries at our neighborhood farmer's market. Not very extraordinary. But, we encountered sweet friends in front of the coffee shop who we have not seen in a few years, and chatted with another friend and his adorable young son a few steps later. Incredibly sweet moments, small but wonderful joys.

As I pulled my phone out at the bike shop to write something down, I saw that our video doorbell had recorded someone ringing at our front door. When I viewed the video, I saw that FedEx had dropped off something that was expensive that we need on Monday to meet our aggressive inspection deadlines. ack! What if some no-goodnik takes the package before we can return? Do we turn around and forget about the market? No. We call our dear, sweet friends who live across the street and ask them to snag the delivery off our porch and secure it. And, of course, they did.

The help of these wonderful friends enabled us to continue on with our morning and the last few details on our big project as we get closer and closer to completion. While some may think that this is not a big deal, it is hugely important to us that we share our lives and exchange help with the members of our local community. We love our neighborhood and couldn't imagine living anywhere else. So many people have lent us assistance on our project and we thank them all for being part of our village.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Being counter productive

Yesterday was another exciting day with our little project. Our new countertops arrived and the fabricating crew installed them. Progress!

The underside of the countertops include steel supports so that they are strong and sturdy.

The installation begins.

Mad Chemist 100% Virgin Acetone, whatever that is.

The new island.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fun with fabricators

When you buy a slab (or three) for your kitchen counters, you have to decide the shape into which they will be cut. To do this, you work with a fabricator. The first step is for a worker to come to your kitchen to create a template of your surfaces on site. The fabricator builds these templates out of thin wood like balsa and the shape is assembled with staples. Bill was working on this step as I left for my work trip on Tuesday.

Today, as  I returned, we drove straight from the airport to the fabricator's warehouse where our slabs (and those of many other customers) are in process. We needed to look at how the templates are placed on the slab to ensure that we like the portions that will be in different parts of the room and agree on how it will be pieced together.

We made slight adjustments back and forth that were probably back to the same position that the fabricator suggested before we arrived. It will be exciting to see these slabs cut, assembled, and installed soon!

A fabricator's workstation

Someone else's slab and template

The templating process ensures that shapes and sizes will work in a space and not lead to an expensive mistake.

"Let's move this a little..."

Our kitchen island

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A grate idea

When we started our wee project, we thought a lot about energy conservation. We enlisted the help of the amazing Frank Schiavo on passive solar, and we (meaning not me) thought a lot about how to cool the house in the summer without installing air conditioning that neither of us wanted. And, rarely need. During our occasional very warm days, Bill knew that he wanted to leverage the cool air from our crawlspace to help draw down the temperature inside the house. He installed a whole house fan upstairs, and wanted it to draw cool air from downstairs via the crawlspace. Through the magic of the interwebs, we found this cast iron grate and it is now in place. You can feel the cool air coming up from below even when the fan is not running. His grate idea is helping us cool with science, and that's pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A trip to the island(s)

Me, calling home at the end of my day: "Hey, love, I'm heading home in a bit."
Bill: "Great! I want to take you on a trip to the islands."
Me: blink. blink. blink.
Me: "AH! You have been working on the shape of the kitchen island!"

The care and crafting of our home is one of the most enjoyable parts of this remodel. Plus the humor. :-)

Each of these marks indicates a factor in the shaping of our kitchen island.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Brown v. Red. v. Floored of Education

We chose our floor color today (should we make it more red, more brown, more lightish and greenish?) so we will keep you in suspense about our choice for now. The stain was applied today and three layers of protective coating will follow starting tomorrow.

I do love puns, and I love how inclusive our country can be. So, that's how I chose my somewhat nerdy headline for this post. #punnygirl

Choices, choices.
After choosing from the samples, they are removed.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Keep floor nose to the grindstone

Day 2 of preparing the floor for stain! These workers are talented, hard working, and gosh darn it, we like them.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Makin' lemonade

When we woke today, we expected to have a full day on our own, of our choosing. Most Saturdays and Sundays during this long remodel have been full of either volunteering or coordinating/doing some part of our house construction. It has been rare for us to have a day with no commitments and no tasks that had to absolutely be done that day. Both of us were looking forward to an ordinary, regular day, but that was not to be. Our flooring crew asked if they could come over and sand the hardwoods. Of course, sure. Come on over. We worked through several bits of necessary logistics with them including narrowing down our stain options for their return trip. It's amazing what all needs to be done for a task like theirs, including a trip to the hardware store to get tool parts. Then, all of a sudden, it's 4:00 and the day has flown by. We did what we always try to do, adjusting our expectations and desires for the day to make lemonade out of what we hoped for but did not receive. We're very fortunate to be able to do this project, but we look forward to our next opportunity for a plain, vanilla Saturday. Some day! :-)

Sanding belts, standing at the ready
Our lunch stop (on the way to the hardware store) included some tasty beverages that helped our day quite nicely. 

The flooring fellow looked a bit nervous when I jokingly asked if we had to narrow it down to fewer than 17 options for the colors.

Trying out a few possibilities

A boy with mad skills

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Happy days!

We always feel like there are plenty of opportunities to be happy in life, but this week brings extra joy. Behold, our new red oak stairway! Later, this wood will be sanded and stained. The risers will be metal, designed and produced by Bill.

Happy wife! 

Happy dog!

Happy carpenter!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Would you or wood you knot?

While we were out of town, hardwood was delivered for our front rooms downstairs. The wood needs to acclimate for several days to the temperature and moisture levels in the rooms where it will be installed, so it is resting just like we were.

We decided to have our flooring contractor install bare hardwood and then stain it the desired color. The bare stair treads arrive in one piece with something called a stair nose. The nose is the curved part that hangs over the riser. For construction nerds (especially stair construction geeks, so much math!), check out the illustration and commence the discussion and other ideas over what the parts of stairs are called in your world.

Bundles of oak for one of our rooms

Stacks of hardwood plus stair treads

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Wall-to-wall love for our pets

Hank (AKA The Barking Barfer) helped us choose carpet today for our upstairs rooms. He looked at all the samples and chose the one he wants to barf on most often. We've negotiated with him to do most of his barfing on the concrete floors downstairs, but he is consulting his attorney before he signs anything. It's a good thing he's super adorable!

Maybe we should have laid the sample down on the floor for the most authentic interaction.

The Island Install Two-Step

Hank watches as Bill does the Island Install Two-Step

Monday, April 17, 2017

Our very own Easter egg hunt

Today, we had a lighting consultant in to talk about sconces, fixtures, and monorails and ended up having our own Easter egg hunt, one day late.

As we looked at our kitchen and talked in depth about the recessed can lights that are already there, he asked, "How will you see in this corner of the room? There's no can here." Ummmmm... We looked at how the lights lined up in the room and I said, "I'll bet that there is a can installed under the drywall." The lighting consultant said, "That never happens." Um, no. Actually, it can and does happen with new construction.

We had taken detailed photos before the drywall was installed and were able to quickly determine that the drywall installers had indeed covered the rough electrical connection in that corner for one of our lights. Time to cut a new hole and find the last egg.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A tisket, a tasket, a brown and yellow board with a biscuit

Bill really hates to see stunning redwood go into the landfill, and he has been tucking it away for years just like an Ask This Old House squirrel. We are getting to the point where we are re-using these amazing treasures, sometimes old-growth pieces.

He is working now on some pieces that were salvaged from a job site in Los Altos, kind of a well-known place to the locals that he helped renovate. It is yellow on the painted side that hides amazing redwood below.

The boards are pieced together using a biscuit joiner and glue. Get the raspberry jam!

Boards that came out of a renovation in Los Altos

Hello, Little Biscuit.

Where this yummy redwood will go, along the edge of the stairs.

Assembling, gluing, creating
Great detail in the redwood will look great as trim in our rooms!