Sunday, July 26, 2009

Finding my footing

It's been a week of trying to find a solid footing despite a life in serious flux.

The first step was the pouring of the slab--my literal footing. Several husky guys spent an entire day wheelbarrowing load after load of concrete to form the floor of our new kitchen.

Coming out of the concrete truck:

Wheelbarrow #1:

Wheelbarrow #2:

Wheelbarrow #3:

And repeat...several hundred times and this is what it looked like at the end of the day. And yes, we bought these guys a case of beer.

Here's what it looks like with the framing up on the foundation. Check out my new back door:

And my wall of windows:

It was pretty moving to have such demonstrative progress. And while it felt good to have something solid on which to stand and to mark the project's momentum, this was the point at which I realized there really was no turning back. I know that sounds very silly after knocking out load bearing walls and such, but unless you have a jack-hammer, this is really permanent. Made me a bit jittery to see that in action.

So recognizing that even with concrete footing my equilibrium was decidedly off, I decided to really stare down the the water...standing up...on a board...while being pulled 30 miles per hour. I WOULD tame that beast!

My neighbor (the former token dodgy bloke who wants the record cleared that while he may be borderline dodgy, he is not spelling-challenged. I stand corrected from 2 posts ago: tattoo and Jagermeister) who among other talents knows how to wake board and, more importantly, teach wake boarding. He is also something of a beast tamer, and has a friend with a really big boat which definitely helps. And despite my spelling aspersions, consented to take the Sandlin clan out for a day on the lake. Doubting whether my current state of flux-ness would allow me to master the wake board, I went along and brought some sandwiches.

Check it OUT!

Coach Chris with his rapt pupils:

Audrey makes it up!

Try as he might, Bennett could just not negotiate his board into cooperation. No matter how skillful the lawyer, bears just don't float:

Henry decides he doesn't want anything holding him down and decides to fly:

Chris flies AND floats:

And....drum roll please...

Yup, I may have 3 houses at the moment, no idea where I'm laying my head each night, stay up debating dire questions about vertical grain fir v. maple (next week's subject), obsess about where to put electrical outlets...but amidst all that, I can get up on a wakeboard and ride for about 5 minutes. Not bad. Not bad at all.

So I'm clinging to that as the craziness abounds. It's my new laptop screen saver. Uplifting and grounding all at the same time. And, we decided to come into town for the weekend to do laundry, pay bills and get ready to start another camp session.

On tap this coming week: roof framing commences, electrical may start and...Henry B's 5th birthday blowout! Also need to dive into the whole vertical grain fir issue more deeply. Quite the twist, that one. Stay tuned....

Saturday, July 18, 2009

If you can't stand the heat...

...get out of the kitchen, get yourself a really pretty high-powered vent hood for your new 36" professional range or go out to the lake. Or do all of the above. Which I've done. To my dismay.

This week finds Bennett and me financially responsible for 3 homes. The first, our mortgaged (make that 2nd mortgaged) home which is, as you know, fairly demolished. The second, our duplex rental just down the street from said double-mortgaged removation. And, the 3rd, our lovely little cabin by Lake Austin.
As my beloved Kristin says: "Just who do you think you are?" Somehow I've jumped off the crazy-train of remodeling into veritable real-estate mogul.

Bad news and good news here.

Bad news: for those of you with any aplomb with numbers is we have 3 checks to write each month. For those of us (myself included) who believe in the check-fairy, apparently 3 contracts for living arrangements means 3 checks. Blast that fine-print!

The good news is, remodeling is moving apace, the rental lease is extended through the end of September to accommodate delays on aforementioned remodel and the lake house is PHENOMENAL. So much fun whiling our days away floating, fishing and all-around "chill-axing." We've been totally off work this week, sleeping until the heavenly hour of 7:30 am, having a gruelling day at the neighborhood dock, etc. Next week moves partial work/camp/lake time and 3rd week we back to the camp routine, but we finish our days out in the lake. AAAAAHHH.

So, see below for pictures of remodeling progress this week below. It's been a great week of progress. We found The Drain. This is big--by finding the big waste drain in the old laundry room we don't have to dig a trench across the driveway and front lawn. But perhaps you heard my sigh of relief/cosmic scream when this was discovered? Here's a picture of our trench:

Big drain:


We are really, really close to a "GO" from the city on the concrete pour for tomorrow. From there, Framing Fun and Frolicking ensues. You won't want to miss that.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dodgy blokes and clean cuts

It's frightening the choices I'll make during a week of limited remodeling activity. I turned my anxiety over no progress into some decisive actions.

We chose our appliances. Bennett and I found some good deals with this crazy appliance warehouse guy. A man my British designer calls "a dodgy bloke." I've decided that I simply do not have enough dodgy blokes in my life. I've been clinging to my awesome neighbor who has a serious tatoo, Harley and fondness for Yagermeister as my token dodgy bloke. But Appliance Man has definitely moved the "dodgy" dial and my neighbor no longer qualifies. I'm going to try to find some more.

Dodgy Appliance Man talked Bennett and I into this 36" range made by a company that gets the same parts that Viking, Thermador, Wolf, Dacor, etc. get, ships them over to China and makes professional caliber ranges available for significantly cheaper. I'm still a bit in awe that we bought this schtick. Perhaps I should have tried to fill my "dodgy bloke" hole with something a bit cheaper.

After that move, I finally let Pam give Henry a big boy haircut. No dodgy blokes here at all--just a super-hunky boy. All these years I thought he was like Sampson--all his power lay in his lucious locks. But apparently his power lies elsewhere because he's won over every camp counselor at the JCC.

Before (aka Shaggy Dog):

After: (wubba wubba; please notice, also, sister who consented to having an entire 1/4 inch cut off her hair and insisted on seeing the shavings to ensure that only the most minimal split ends were removed.)

The next step: cutting off my own hair. Despite Bennett's eternal insistence that it should be long and layered (this from the man who has never blow-dried his the summer) he approves.

And, after two years of knowing it had to happen but being unable to pull the trigger, Bean is hissing and scratching herself silly in kitty heaven. Bean, you'll live on in our memories. We've pulled up the carpets so we'll have to go by our pictures rather than our sense of smell. Audrey wanted to commission a proper tombstone for the backyard (my Goth wannabee--I'm afraid she might find her own share of dodgy blokes at some point). I convinced her it wouldn't go with the mid-century modern vibe we're going for and she's agreed to a small cat statue for the back garden.

As for the construction, I knew this week would come and I'm trying to hold steady...breathe...enjoy the process...etc. But we've got to find some momentum or I'm concerned about what other momentus decisions migh get made in the midst of stalling. The only real progress seems to be minor foundation progress. I have big bags of corn seed as one layer in my foundation. Isn't that wierd? Apparently very common, but I can't help but wonder if perhaps another dodgy (or should we say "corny") bloke has crept into the renovation process.

Fearful for what other major life decision might land in my sites, Bennett is packing us all off to a week on Lake Austin. We're going to have one fun meeting with the cabinet guy (custom-made vertical fir grain cabinets;tingle) but otherwise attempting to chill out despite 104 degree heat.
Stay tuned to see what might land on the chopping block this week...or what dodgy blokes I discover on the lake.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Peeling back the layers

Another week, more demolition. The crew this past week exposed the roof, tore up the playroom foundation and showed us just how much space we're gaining by bringing the laundry room and the..ahem..."work"shop. Very excited about all this new space and a proper laundry room.

I'm loving opening up the walls and seeing all the great treasures. When we opened up the ceiling and made way for the vault, we got to see into an area with the previous owners old stuff. Found crutches, a can, a super funky 60's lamp. Still haven't gotten up to see what's lurking in the Blue Bell icecream tub. Hopeful this week.

Also saw this weird tin foil stuff that my builder says is one of the first radiant barriers people created. It is supposed to block the heat from coming down into the attic but is hung at just the right spot to let air keep circulating.

The crew is convinced though that it was for a grow room. The light is a definite clue in that direction.

The other interesting discovery....termites! We knew it was just a matter of time before we found them and I guess it's good to expose them when there's a team of carpenters around to repair the studs. But it's a $1000 I had hoped to sped elsewhere and it's just yicky to imaging them chomping away all this time.

Enjoy these demo pictures. Should be the end of the dramatic demo. We're onto framing and should see the new kitchen slab poured very soon.

The fireplace wall.

Looking from the front door toward what will be the new kitchen.

Playroom's gone!

Former laundry room and workshop. We're reclaiming all this space to create a laundry I can access from inside the house and a mudroom.

Another view of the soon-to-be mudroom.

Everything is gone...except the kitchen sink!

Looking toward the front door

Going UP!! See the headroom when we vault the living room! I feel like we're peeling back a big cloud that's been hovering overhead for too long...

Here's the new frame that will be the kitchen foundation. The big decision for this week: is this enough room to accommodate a 36" range?

That's it for tonight. Coming up this week: perhaps the foundation gets poured, appliances ordered and some plumbing begins. Stay tuned....