Posts Tagged 'construction'

Stalled

IMG_8695Construction has come to a halt while we wait for the township to come and inspect the insulation. I have been extremely surprised at how quickly we have had the past inspections. It seemed Don had but to call and an appointment was scheduled within the week. Not this time. This is more what I had expected, given some of my other dealings with government when trying to sell our mother’s house. We are stalled for over a week, waiting to get the next inspection done. I think this is the last inspection for quite a bit. I don’t think the next few rounds of activity are going to require stage-by-stage approvals. So no renovation news until next week sometime, when we pass inspection (we hope) and start on the walls.

In the meantime I’ll share garden pictures. I’ve been working in my sun room in the front of the house. The house faces south, which means that sun room can get quite warm. IMG_8697That’s a good thing in the winter but can be a bit much in the summer, hence the awnings. A friend of mine said “why AWNINGS??? They are so DARK!!!!” Well, yes, I replied, but come and join me when the temps are in the 90s. The awnings are a real help then. There are 8 windows in that sun room. I keep the blinds shut in the early morning, until the sun rises above the awnings and there is no direct light into the room. My co-workers have been commenting on my beach room, because that is, of course, what I did with my sun room. It is a very happy place for me, even if the chair/desk situation is not very good for my back. I’m in the office today and I’m wearing my sweatshirt and drinking hot coffee because I’m COLD in the air conditioning. But the chair is soooo comfortable and I love my 2 ft monitor. Pros and cons everywhere.

Spring flowers (peonies and roses) are done but many of the summer flowers are blooming. I love them, but I confess that I get bored around mid-July with having to water them so much. I have a soaker hose, and I even have a 4-way spigot I could put on the outdoor faucet. I just haven’t gotten to it. IMG_8710A common refrain: “not gotten to that yet”. I know Honour knows this song too. I love canna lilies as you can see in the photos – I have them in 3 places. It’s almost time for the rudbeckia to bloom as well. I picked some of my “crops” to snack on today in the office: yellow cherry tomatoes, which are wonderfully sweet, and Mexican sour gherkins. The gherkins are fun but they are very sour. 🙂 I’m trying to think of a good way to use them to take advantage of the taste. I have another tomato plant as well as the cherry tomatoes, but that second plant has produced a single tomato. One. And my hot pepper plants have done nothing. I bought all of those at the ag fair back in the spring. I’m a bit disappointed with most of my purchases there. Only the gherkins and the cherry tomatoes seem to have thrived.

I need to trim the front hedge again. I took it down quite a bit in the spring, but it needs some attention. I need to tame the forsythia and the rhododendron on the side of the house. I cropped the picture to avoid the overgrown azaleas and the huge taller-than-my-dining-room-window weed that is growing by the outdoor faucet. That side of the house is definitely in need of major pruning. The lilac bush is blocking my way to that faucet, and so are the spider webs that spring up as soon as I clear them away. This past weekend was actually perfect pruning weather but I had other plans. I need to hire someone. Of course, I now need to hire someone to cut the grass as well, because my young high-school grass-cutter found himself a permanent job. It may be time for me to stop supporting the local youths and simply hire a lawn care service. But only if they’ll do it without chemicals. Or I could just let it all grow and grow….
IMG_8696

Up and Down

basement wiresLots of things have been up and down this weekend. Especially me – up and down the basement stairs. One of the ‘promises’ my husband and I make to each other is that our next home will be one story – no more stairs. Highly unlikely, but everyone needs the hope of something better.

Down: I broke 2 pieces off of the vacuum cleaner while I tried to get every little spec of kitty litter off the carpeting upstairs. Oh yeah, we are so ripping out those carpets when the kitchen is done. This is only half-down because the vacuum still works. I’m not sure what those pieces did.

Up: a wonderful day spent out in glorious sunshine, without humidity, at a very good street fair with a fun friend. The weather was perfect, the fair was well attended but not jammed, and we found a parking spot in the shade.

laundry sinkDown: broke one of the 2 light bulbs in the refrigerator. Again, not really down-down because we are not keeping this refrigerator anyway. But annoying because there is now less light. Also annoying because I think the bulb broke off so part of it is still in the fixture, so I can’t just put in a new bulb.

Up: found a new artist at the craft show whose work I really like – Linda McAdams. Had to buy a piece to bring home with me, and I’m hoping to get one to put in the kitchen, to hang between the basement door and front hall door. She takes photos and transfers them to wood. The grain of the wood enhances the photos and makes for extremely appealing landscapes. She can make them to spec as well. I notice that the one that I liked is cropped differently in the photo I took at the show, than it is in the version on the website.

new art palm treeDown: I dropped one of my plastic lids so that it is under one of the cabinet drawers. I don’t have room to remove the drawer to get to the lid, and I haven’t been able to get sufficient leverage to try to knock it out under the opened drawer. When they move this piece back into the breakfast room they’ll take the drawers out and I’ll get it then. In another 6 weeks…..

Up: Managed to find enough surface and tools to make 3 different salads to have handy in the house. I’m very tired of store-bought salads and all the plastic containers. Here’s a concept – just like we bring our own bags, we should be able to bring our own containers to have them filled with salads and other prepared foods. We managed to cook dinner 3 nights in a row on the grill, with salad and corn on the cob. Perfect. And I also found everything I was trying to find (plastic containers, potato peeler, measuring spoons, spices) with the sole exception of the good can opener (hand operated). I did find the not very good one, which I had upstairs to deal with recalcitrant cat food cans, but the good one is not in any of the 3 kitchen implement storage bins. Or it is, but it was hiding. But still – this is the first thing in 6 weeks that I have been unable to locate. That’s not a bad percentage.

Down – or is this Up? Once again I am playing the role of Sisyphus, this time trying to deal with dust and debris. We’re both a bit tired of having to schlep dirty dishes to the basement to wash them (and I had a lot after making the salads and dinner). I spent a good hour or more in the basement sweeping and vacuuming and wiping down surfaces and objects trying to deal with the residual mess from opened ceilings and drilled holes and other banging and hammering. care packageI am REALLY growing to loathe the hanging wires at the foot of the basement stairs. Short as I am, I still bang my head on them no matter which way I duck. I understand why my husband goes down those stairs even less than I do. But on the upside of this down, the laundry area is MUCH cleaner, even if I did inhale a ton of dirty dust, and even if I know it’s only momentary until the workmen are back. I also swept the kitchen and breakfast room areas, including the “carpet” that is meant to help us walk safely between rooms. Another probably pointless task but at least for the moment I am not seeing pieces of wood or wire or other chunks of whatever. It was the window seat in the breakfast room that triggered this particular boulder-up-the-hill effort. I just had that replaced this March and it was completely covered in dust and debris. I wonder if my new blinds will ever be clean again. I wish I had realized they’d be coated with dust. I could have taken them down. Or realistically – had someone take them down for me. *grin*

flock of sea birdsHUGE UP: I came home from the street fair to discover a BOX! It was from Honour. On the label it said “paper bags”. That was odd. Why was Honour sending me paper bags????? I opened the box and lo and behold – the label lied. (Must have been her Canadian accent.) It was a care package sent with love from Canada. Apparently somewhere in the last several days Honour had gotten the impression that I was a little stressed, and thought I could use a bright spot in my day. 🙂 Brilliant woman. The box was chock-full with edible goodies AND a non-edible puffin!!! My husband and I both grabbed for the puffin. 🙂 It’s mine. 🙂 We made a start on the yummies that night with the cranberry cookies. The puffin made friends with the seagull and took up residence in my sun room, which is my beach room. A good place for a puffin, right?

Adding not Subtracting

IMG_8699We have definitely turned the corner. We are not yet in the home-stretch but
have rounded the first curve. 🙂 Yesterday we passed another inspection – a building inspection for the fire-stops. Today the insulation was added. This means another building inspection and then….. then…. WALLS!!!!

I’ve been answering some questions from Manny (do I want a want a tilt-out soap tray? No.) and hoping for some suggestions from him about new deck lighting. It’s clear that my husband and I are excited about very different aspects of the kitchen. When I talk to people it’s all about light & space: opening the doorway, the pocket door, the slanted ceiling in the breakfast room. He is very much about the stove and the counters. When I was chatting with the foreman and reciting back to him “what happens next” I listed walls, floor, cabinets, appliances. I forgot about the counter top completely. I confess – I’ve NEVER walked into any kitchen or showroom or anywhere and said “WOW!!! What a gorgeous counter!” Obviously counters are not my thing. Although at the moment I am missing them greatly because it’s very difficult and unpleasant to try to do any food preparation in the little piece of the dining room table that is available. I know, first world problems, right?

We are also tweaking the schedule to make life easier on our painter. Don (the foreman) suggested that our painter might want the opportunity to get in and do the priming and the ceilings once the sheet rock was done.IMG_8700 I checked and he agreed. Given that this is July, we all expect that it will take days for the sheet rock to dry sufficiently for any further work. Our forecasts here are 3Hs – hazy, hot and humid – now through August. Don even suggested having the painting done, but I haven’t the faintest idea what color I’m going to want. I’m not going to be able to figure that out until the counter top and the backsplash are in place.

I think it’s probably time to start looking for a new ceiling fan for the kitchen (sans lights) and for funky cabinet handles and knobs. I’m going to have to make a decision whether I want to keep with my earth tones/materials in the kitchen or if I want to look for something funky (like steampunk) or if I want to get splashes of bright color. One thing about knobs and handles – if I get it wrong it should be fairly simple to change. I hope. Sure beats knob & tube wiring issues.

A New Career

Who knew? I certainly didn’t. Apparently I am an architect. 🙂

We were having a lovely, lovely 4th of July BBQ with friends, folks we have not seen in ages. Of course we were sharing the saga of the kitchen renovations. Most of them had also lived through a renovation or two. After asking about the contractor we were using, one of the men asked “Who’s the architect?” I looked at him, puzzled. “Architect?” I shrugged and said “we don’t have an architect, what does an architect DO?” He replied “Decides on heights and changes in walls and where things go.” I looked at my husband, still a bit puzzled. My husband gave that little secret smile of his and sort of nodded my way and said to me “You’re the architect.”

I guess I AM. I’m the one who is changing the doorways and the ceilings and deciding other structural changes.

Look at me – I’m an architect! I’d better figure out what the heck the soffit IS and how it’s going to work with the crown molding. *grin* search: images soffit………

Renovation Hardships

When we told our friends about the kitchen renovation, and that it would take 10-12 weeks to complete, almost ALWAYS the first question was “What will you do about FOOD?” I scoffed and said what was so terrible, we’d have the grill on the deck, we had a microwave, we had a refrigerator. I was right and I was wrong. We do have all of that and more (coffee, hot water, toaster oven) but it’s really not the same. My husband is reveling in this lack of kitchen because he gets to stop every day and pick up food for dinner. I notice he’s also spending a fortune on eating out for breakfast and lunch because there are never any leftovers to take. Bringing in food is not awful, but it’s a lot higher in calories and much less fresh than if we were making our own. I usually make up a huge salad and then munch my way through it during the week (much the way the local deer work their way through our gardens and yards). I miss all the fresh veggies and I miss my weekly trip to the local farmers’ market 5 block away.

I thought I was prepared to deal with the cutlery and dishes. I bought a huge quantity of plastic ware and paper plates and plastic (recyclable) cups. After all, we have no dishwasher and no kitchen sink. Yet we still use dishes and utensils that need washing. drying dishes in the bathroomWe can either do this in the bathroom sink or down in the basement in the laundry area. The basement was working well – I had the dish drainer on the washing machine. There is a big sink so we could do the cutting board and other large items. Then the electrical work began. Not only did the alien electric cords emerge from the ceiling but there is dust and wood chips and other debris down there. The contractors do a very good job of cleaning up each day but there is still the debris that has fallen down among the items on every surface. Washing the dishes in the bathroom sink is a challenge because the faucet is fixed and low – very difficult to get a 16-oz glass clean. I also worry about glass items because the sink is so shallow that anything larger than a cup hits the sides.

The recycling hasn’t been too much of a hardship. That all used to be in the kitchen. Now we have the glass/plastic in the front hall and the paper in the living room. Both containers are tucked in neatly. They need to be emptied more often, however, because (1) we have a lot more containers to toss and (2) they are unsightly and (3) it’s summer and I don’t have central a/c and it gets warm and they start to smell. Still all in all, not really a problem.

Water and ice are perhaps my biggest annoyances. I can’t make my own ice and I have to buy bags of ice. The ice in bags is NOT really cubed ice. IMG_8676It may have started that way but by the time you get it home and hammer it apart (because it melted on the way home and then froze into one huge lump in the freezer) it has a lot of little pieces and lots of pulverized ice. The crushed ice is great for a frozen drink, but if you want iced tea or coffee or water, cubes are much better. And the fragments fall on my wood dining room floor which makes me crazy. 🙂 Okay, crazier. I don’t want my floor ruined because of stray ice chips. We are in the 5th day of a heat wave, with at least 2 more days predicted, and we are using up a lot of ice. Although it costs more, I’ve gone back to the gallon jugs of water instead of the 2.5 gallons. The 2.5 gallons are not as easy to use for filling coffee pots and pitchers. Sometimes they are difficult to close one-handed and that means water on the dining room floor. They also take up a lot of room, and counter space is in short supply these days. dust on tableOn the other hand it finally occurred to me that I could store things under the dining room table since I removed half of the chairs (so we had room to walk around the table).

I guess the last “hardship” is the dust and debris that seem to be everywhere. I don’t consider myself an especially “neat” person. I can tolerate a fair amount of disorder in the house. But when I get stressed, my solution is to clean and straighten. There is kitty litter being tracked all over the upstairs which is, unfortunately, all carpeted. That may have to change after this experience. There is dust and minute particles tracked all over the downstairs from the open ceilings, walking back and forth through the construction, food handling in the dining room and eating in the sun room. There is plastic hung between the front hall and the construction to limit the mess, but as we keep walking back and forth to the bathroom, the deck, the basement, the plastic can only do so much. plastic in doorwayNot to mention that having to wend our way through the plastic is annoying. When the workmen are not here, I try to keep the big plastic sheet tucked out of the way. This all seems to be causing a low-grade, subconscious stress for me because no matter where I look, things are not clear and organized. I had no idea I was so obsessive about order. No wonder I love Seder so much. Vacuuming is do-able if I don’t mind freaking out the cats when I do the upstairs. Downstairs is okay, but there is so much stuff in the way that it mostly consists of moving furniture. It all feels extremely Sisyphean.

I was going to call this “first world hardships” because nothing I’ve described is really a hardship. There is an end to it, I’m getting something wonderful, and I chose to do this. It all reminds me of a wonderful parable I read when I was young. A poor couple has a one-room house and many children. They are very crowded in their house and it’s becoming very stressful and unpleasant for them. They ask the Rabbi for help. The Rabbi has them bring their farm animals into the house, one-by-one. Finally when all the animals are crammed in the house with all the family, the Rabbi has them take all the animals out. The man comes running back to the Rabbi to proclaim how WONDERFUL it is – there is sooooo much room in the house!! *grin* That’s how I am going to feel once all of this is out of my living room and dining room. Wow!!! Look at how LARGE a house I have!!

(of course not EVERYONE in the house agrees with me…… )

Renovation hardship cat

TRUE Renovation Hardship

Finally the Ceiling I Wanted

flat ceilingI can’t remember how long ago we did the addition on the house – maybe 28 years ago. As I’ve mentioned before, when I requested a skylight, it never occurred to me that it did not come with a slanted ceiling automatically. Instead I’ve had a shaft going up to the roof, letting in light and air (the window can be opened). It hasn’t been bad, or a problem, it was just not what I had envisioned. After we all agreed to slope the ceiling, it was almost a matter of minutes before all the extraneous boards were removed, and the proper supports to satisfy the engineer were installed. I wish I knew how to take photos that would convey the slope, but you will have to make do with what I have. As happened with the widened doorway, freeing the skylight from the shaft has already made a HUGE difference in the room, even with only rough boards. I now also have a beam that WILL be noticeable when all is finished, but I am already planning to hang flower baskets from the beam. That may NOT be a good idea unless I put in fake plants, because I tend to water my plants until it runs out the bottom, and I will also have a brand new floor under those plants. I’m open to suggestions because I’m fairly certain a beam like that is calling for something creative or funky.

I ask questions when the workmen are here, hoping to learn more about how things work, what other people do when renovating old houses. sloped ceilingI was pondering putting in a new electric skylight but we all agreed that making it a power window (and shade) would be adding one more potential headache. I’m not sure what to do about a shade up there. I have a suspicion that now the window is freed from the shaft, there may be a lot more heat than even I will like (I have a very high tolerance for hot weather). That is one of those things that can be addressed at a later time. Still on my list of “things I’d like to accomplish this year” is the replacement of all of the upstairs windows. I can think about the skylight at that time too. Also a new front door. I really want a new front door, too. 🙂 The window people usually do doors as well. Again – that’s something for the fall. I figure maybe October/November time frame to replace the windows. It would be nice to have more energy efficient windows come the cold weather.

I believe that I have mentioned my dislike for the knob & tube wiring in our house. The K&T struck again. We knew that the dining room chandelier was down the line from the kitchen K&T. skylight with high hatsThe electrician had come up with an ingenious solution for getting the dining room back online once we replaced the kitchen K&T. I’m going to spare you the photos and diagrams that would explain this, because – spoiler alert!! – we didn’t do that anyway. I’m sharing it so you can truly appreciate the nuances of replacing K&T. By the way, 3 knowledgeable folk have told me that K&T is SAFER than the current approach. I have NOT understood their explanations but they have all assured me this is so, and they are people who would know. The explanations for why insurance companies won’t insure homes with K&T make as little sense to me as do the explanations for why K&T is safer, but we do what needs to be done to get the permits from the township.

The plan was to take the new up-to-code wiring from the kitchen and run it up the wall to the ceiling, where it would hang a left and go into the breakfast room area. At THAT point it would hang a right and go outside the house, secured to the siding by tubing. I was told that there would be no problem with this if/when we replace the siding. Once the new wire was in line with the dining room chandelier, it would hang a right and head back into the house in the ceiling. They would take down the chandelier and hook it to the new wiring. If all went well, and if they had a clear sight line through the ceiling, they would even send the new wires straight through the ceiling to the sun room, where they would put the ceiling fan/light on the new wiring. You remember the new fan in the sun room, right? That’s what started all of this a year ago. 🙂

Well, the best laid plans and all of that. When they went to replace the K&T in the kitchen, they discovered that the hot wire and the neutral wire did NOT go in the same direction in the dining room. dining room ceiling PLEASE, do NOT ask me to explain what that means. The hot wire went up the wall, hung a left, went down to the switch in the dining room and then up to the chandelier. The neutral wire did not accompany the hot wire on this venture. No, apparently the neutral wire went straight across the dining room and somehow met up with the hot wire near or at the chandelier. In other words – we couldn’t redirect as planned because we wouldn’t have all of the parts available.

The electricians were very apologetic and sorry and, to be fair, as unhappy as I was, but for different reasons, I’m sure. They needed to cut open the dining room ceiling to figure out where the neutral wire was exactly. We discussed all the permutations and as long as they were cutting open the ceiling in the dining room, we agreed to take the new wiring all the way to the sun room and get that done properly as well. That meant a hole in the ceiling and wall of the sun room. This is where again, they know what they are talking about and I imagine something else. That happened in the breakfast room when they said they’d “open the ceiling” and I didn’t realize I was going to lose the whole ceiling and get to beams. That worked out well for me, however. I was imagining the same “rip it all the way open” approach in my dining room as well. Nothing like that. They marked out sections to cut, hoping that they’d hit gold in the first one or two sections.

sunroom ceilingThey covered everything in the dining room with plastic, hung a big plastic sheet between the dining room and the living room, and proceeded to cut away. As you can see in the pictures, the openings are NOT very large (well, not compared to what I was imagining). It just means more painting at the end of the job to get the dining room and sun room cleaned up. In the meantime, I am almost completely free of K&T on the first floor!!!! The front hall light (and I suspect therefore the front porch light) and a few wall sockets are the only K&T left on the first floor. I’m hoping that when we go to deal with them, it will be a non-event. I hope. Please.

So the good news is all of that got done. We had our rough electrical and plumbing inspections last week and passed. I love how we pass the electrical with the wires all hanging down in the basement. aliens in the basementJim and I do need to go down there for laundry, and some other supplies, and we’ll need to empty out all of the STUFF we have stored there for the congregational rummage sale. Yay – we can bring our donations now!!! But we will have to weave our way through the alien life forces that have emerged from the basement ceiling and have congregated around the foot of the stairs.

We’ve started Week #6 and we are making progress. The next thing to be done is to get past the building inspection. I think I understood that means that all the holes around the wires need to be fire-stopped (plugged with fire-retardant material). And I *think* we may get the insulation put in before that too. But our township seems to only inspect on Wednesdays so despite the fire-stopping being completed, I doubt much will happen for another week or more, since the next Wednesday is July 4th. I rather doubt any inspectors will be here on July 4th. But once we pass this point now we start ADDING things instead of REMOVING things. We get walls, then a floor, and then appliances, and then cabinets…. It’s really happening!
approvals

Two Steps Forward

IMG_8525One step back, but then forward again. Which means that progress is being made. Let’s deal with the most important gains first.

WC, although still extremely angry, has relented sufficiently to allow us to see her during daylight hours. I’ve found her secondary hiding spot (in the office under a table behind a box) as opposed to the primary spot under our bed. She has even deigned to come and eat in the food room 2 out of 3 days. For breakfast that is. She’s still not convinced it’s safe to eat there for dinner. And that means that we are still serving her dinner in whichever room is her safe zone at the time – bedroom or office. Yes she has us VERY well trained.

IMG_8524GC and BC appear to be fine. BC is happy if we are upstairs with her. GC is happy as long as she gets fed and petted. Last night we were tossing rolling toys for BC to chase up and down the hall. I thought for one fleeting moment there GC might actually run, too. Hah! 🙂 They are eating, complaining, playing, providing output and in general they seem to be adjusting. I’m not going to say any of us LIKE this setup as a permanent option, but it really gives me peace of mind during the day when doors are open all over and there is a lot of noise.

This week has been about plumbing and electricity. I knew something happened with the plumbing on Tuesday while I was out. You can’t fool ME, experienced homeowner that I am. Version 2I turned on the faucet and there was that familiar spitting air-in-the-line action that we all know from water being turned off. Wednesday I actually met 2 of the plumbers. They drained the radiators. Sigh, I spent thousands of dollars in March to put in a new boiler, which necessitates draining and refilling. Had I but known then what I know now, I could have done the radiator work then. More importantly, they removed the pipes that used to be behind some cabinets. This is EXTREMELY exciting because removing those pipes enables us to widen the doorway between the kitchen and the breakfast room by about 21 inches. Of course I have no “before” photo that shows clearly the limited sight line from the kitchen to the breakfast room, but the ‘after’ picture thrills me. Anyone reading this who has been in the rooms will see immediately the difference the wider doorway makes. I think it pulls the 2 rooms together to make them feel much more like one room. The other thing you can see in the ‘before’ photo I did post is the horrible ugly wall paper that we lived with for 6 years before we did the addition. I circled it so you wouldn’t miss it, and drew an arrow to show what got removed to make the larger passageway.

Today I was expecting the plumbers back but no, it was the electricians. When I finally left my desk to go say hello, not only were the electricians here but Manny was here as well. IMG_8527We were chatting in the breakfast room and I mentioned that had I realized that they’d be ripping out everything in the ceilings, I’d have asked to have them change my breakfast room ceiling to a sloped ceiling (vaulted?). This is something that escaped me when we did the addition. I thought that by asking for a skylight, I’d get that sloped ceiling automatically. Not the case. Anyway, Manny is supposed to ask Don for an estimate. Manny, Eli (the electrician) and I all think it would look fantastic. 🙂 And most importantly for me – would let in a LOT more light. I’m all about light as you can tell from the bay windows and the multiple banks of lights in the kitchen. I haven’t actually run this new idea by my husband yet….. Even if Don okays it, it might not happen. Apparently my husband does NOT like garbage disposals in the sink, so that idea was abandoned. I hope he likes sloped ceilings.

IMG_8528 (1)The “one step back” came as I ate lunch. Eating my salad, reading the paper, and the lights went out. They were cutting knob and tube wires. YAY!!!!! It’s a small price to pay – no light in the dining room – if it means getting rid of the K&T. 🙂 Eli and Chris just left but they restored power to the dining room lights and outlets. We even tested the TV – which works. Of course I still can’t work the TV properly because sometime since the superbowl cable tv has dropped off the menu at the bottom of the screen. There is now some convoluted routine to get from netflix to cable and back again, but don’t ask me to do it. That’s DEFINITELY a step back but NOT one I can attribute to the renovation.

I was going to go stare at my beautiful wide opening between the rooms and smile. But as I typed this I heard a forlorn beeping coming at regular intervals. I’m hoping it’s the microwave. Or the coffee pot. Or something easily silenced.

Two out of Three

patient noirIt seems most of you are concerned about the same thing we are: the cats! Tuesday was a very low profile for all 3 cats. BC is the least stressed. She always tended to spend a lot of time upstairs, she has always slept with me and she likes to hang out with my husband when he plays his video game. I’ve even toyed with the idea of letting her loose when there are no workmen because she will come to me if I call. My husband is very opposed to that idea and I do agree with him. Just think of Charlie getting sealed into the wall. I often come up the stairs, look through the door, and see BC waiting patiently for me to arrive.

GC expressing an opinionGC is a bit neurotic but also mellow. We knew from day one that she would be the “couch potato” cat. She can be reasonable if you overlook the known quirks. I was also sure she would come around quickly. She has indeed settled into the routine quite nicely. Last night and this morning she had multiple helpings of her wet food (she’s allowed all she can eat). I’ve avoided serving the rejected flavor from Monday night. GC even walks about and lets us pet her, and doesn’t flinch away. I sat reading in a chair upstairs last night and she curled about my legs, allowing me to reach down to scratch and pet. GC will NEVER do anything as reasonable as pick a convenient spot for cuddling. Her favorite spot is on the stair landing, where we will sit at times to deal with footwear, and she will get behind us on the landing and bump us with her head. If we turn around to LOOK at her while we pet, she moves away. No, no, it MUST be uncomfortable for us for it to be good for her. 🙂 I’ve included a picture of her expressing her opinion on the “upstairs situation”.

breakfastWC is not happy. I was reading last night and looked up to see WC sitting in the room, staring at me. I called her by name, said hello, asked how she was. She skewered me with a glare and turned and walked out and went back under the bed. She’d only emerged, apparently, to make sure I knew she was not happy and she blamed me for everything. I guess she’s been in touch with Honour’s cats. I managed to get her to eat a nibble of wet food yesterday by moving it into the bedroom near the bed (not really where I want their food).

The elusive WCThis morning I woke to the sound of mews and meows and peeps. All 3 of them were in the food room. WC was near the water fountain, so I know she knows where it is. She just is not going to give me the relief of seeing her drink. GC and BC are not so stubborn. Everyone ate breakfast today, GC and BC having multiple portions. WC still refused to stay in the food room for breakfast, but i did get her to come to the bedroom doorway at least to eat there. Getting closer….

I appreciate all the advice and suggestions I’ve been receiving about caring for the cats and symptoms of stress/illness. Even for a cat as nonchalant as BC, this is a stress to the system. Heck, it’s a real stress to ME and *I* know what is happening. My stomach is not so happy today. Again, I haven’t observed any activity in the litter room myself, but we have found signs of usage. 🙂 You can see the daily collection in the photo.output I have seen BC and GC wandering out of there also. I said to my husband that I was waiting to discover that WC has been urinating in our bedroom, and he said calmly ‘so we’ll pull up the carpet’. See? For us it IS all about the cats.

Anyway, I’m happy to report that on Day 3 of The Great Incarceration, 2 of 3 cats seem to have adjusted and there have been sightings of the 3rd. I’m sure by the time the construction is over they will have forgotten there is a downstairs. Hah!

drinkingFootnote: Some of you may know how relaxed my husband and I have always been about fixing things up, or renovating. I’ve mentioned that in this blog, too. I feel I must point out that the carpeting that shows up in the upstairs is NOT carpeting that we selected. 🙂 It was in the house 34 years ago when we bought the house and, well, we just never did anything about changing it. It was fairly new, in good condition, clean, and who cared anyway. But as I look at the photos I realized I don’t want credit for the rugs. 🙂

It Has Begun

IMG_8417Although the workmen are MUCH quieter than I had expected, I see no sign of any catabitation upstairs. I have refrained from looking under the bed because I suspect that will be just one more upset for WC, if not for all of them.

Everything has been removed that needed to be removed. The refrigerator and the oak cabinet are both in the dining room AND fully functional. 🙂 Even better, right? A few more boxes needed to migrate into the living room in order to open the refrigerator door but I’ll sort them out later.

IMG_8478There are 3 doorways with trim in the kitchen. Two of those doorways have the original chestnut trim. You can’t get chestnut anymore because of the chestnut tree blight originally diagnosed in the early 1900s. We requested that the workmen preserve and reuse that trim. I was quite happy to see how carefully they were removing it.

I was planning to toss the stove but it pains me too much to throw away something that is working fine when I know that someone out there could use a good working stove for free. My sister has kindly volunteered to help me out with posting the stove to the local swap meet board. I’m also second-guessing myself about the dishwasher, which I love and planned to put back in the kitchen. It’s 4-5 years old, a Bosch, and it’s great. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I’m being penny-wise but pound-foolish. I’m wondering how well it will function after being disconnected, moved, spending several weeks in the garage, and then moved again. *grin* I guess if I’m NOT spending $3400 on the faucet (I did NOT miss a decimal on that price) I could get a new dishwasher.

IMG_8419There is plastic sheeting up on the doorways to the front hall and dining room (think chestnut trim) so I can’t get a good look at what’s not there. I’m fairly certain I no longer have a finished ceiling. 🙂 I did get a few shots as the walls came down. Somewhere I have a photo that shows the wallpaper that was up when we moved into the house. It was truly awful. It might have been that wallpaper alone that caused us to do the addition on the house a mere 8 years or so after we moved in. Imagine my surprise when I saw that there was even older wallpaper buried behind the walls (I wonder why there was wall in front of the wall paper). I can’t say that I like this ‘new’ wallpaper very much but as unbelievable as you may find this – it’s better than what we lived with for years. 🙂

I really like this crew. They are friendly, they are polite, they are cheerful and they answer questions. IMG_8477Normally I like to watch and ask questions and learn, but I decided this time I’d stay as far away as possible and let them do their thing. I’m hanging out in the sunroom. I’d normally have taken today as a vacation day from work because I knew I’d be as distracted and as stressed as I am, but I have a major project underway and I need to be accessible, even if I can’t focus on my own, without a specific question/request.

The next step was supposed to be the framing (okay, I confess – I have NO idea what that really means) but Don came over to tell me that he thinks he needs to bring in the electrician and plumber first, because “there are pipes and wires all over the place”. *laughing* Well, I DID warn Don and Manny that once they opened the walls and floor and ceiling not to expect anything standard. I think everything in this house was built Rube Goldberg-style.

IMG_8480For the moment quiet has settled on the house as it’s lunch hour. That meant I could go through the basement door to see what’s been happening behind the plastic. Wow. Amazing how quickly it all comes down. By the time they left all the walls and ceilings were down. They vacuumed up the dust, put down carpeting for us to make it from the front hall to the deck safely, and promised to come back tomorrow to rip up the floor.

Dinnertime brought out BC and GC, but I have not seen WC since this morning, before the noise and vibrations. I asked my husband to look under the bed to see if she was still breathing. Poor WC. Life is so stressful for her. GC did eat her dinner but stopped after one helping, instead of her more customary three. Maybe things will be more ‘normal’ (feed me feed me feed me!!!!!!) for breakfast tomorrow.IMG_8486 (1)

The Great Incarceration

end of hallAs my friend Honour has pointed out, I haven’t mentioned the major change coming into the lives of my 3 cats. They aren’t going to like it.

As I mentioned recently, I am going to gut the entire kitchen and part of the breakfast room. It’s a major undertaking. It will be a mess. Lots of noise. Workmen. Dust. Noise. Open doors. Noise. Stress. We are expecting this to take 3 months at a minimum. And that doesn’t include painting the new walls and staining the new molding.

Most people ask us what we are planning to do about eating since we won’t have a stove, sink, dishwasher, floor and counters. I *think* we will have the refrigerator in the dining room, and maybe a microwave. I’m not too worried about the whole food thing. It’s spring, almost summer. We have a grill on the deck. We have lots of restaurants we like. We have restaurants that deliver. Maybe we’ll even get lucky and have friends who invite us to eat at THEIR homes. 🙂 No, what worries ME are the cats.

hallway to stairsTwo of my cats are, no nice way to put it, old. They will both be 16 in August. Not only are they set in their ways, but the white one is totally neurotic. Extremely. The gray one is not as crazy, but not 100% well-balanced either (of course, can you say ANY cat is 100% well-balanced?). The black one, the child of my old age, *grin*, is wonderful, but very active and needs to be wherever I am. Henceforth they will be known as WC, GC, and BC. 🙂

There is NO WAY I can leave the 3 of them loose in the house while the workmen are here. The cats don’t want to be near strangers and noise and the workmen don’t want them around either. 3 months is too long to board. I can’t lock them in the basement because (1) the workmen will need access to the basement and (2) the door they will use opens on the basement landing. So the cats need to be locked up. Now probably most of you who own cats say what’s the big deal, you lock them up during the day while the work is going on and you let them out at night while you are home. That does sound reasonable, if you overlook the time when our friends took that approach and their cat got shut behind the dry wall. They had to rip out the new wall to get the cat out. But still, many people would take that approach.

bathroom and little room doorsMy cats are NOT reasonable, not by any stretch of the imagination. If it were ONLY BC, not a problem – she even comes when we call. WC – she is nuts. We are going to have one chance to grab WC and GC and that’s it. They don’t like to be held or picked up. If we ever let them out of being locked up, they will hide and we will never find them again. Or not in time. Or not safely. So we will grab them once (my husband has been told he has to grab WC, I’m grabbing GC) and we will shove them into their restricted quarters and there they will stay until such time as we deem it safe to release them.

Obviously we cannot lock up 3 cats for 3 months in 1 room. First, the 2 big cats have issues at times with BC (you know, pesky kid sister and all that). Second – the food, water and litter boxes need to be considered as well. Add that to the 3 cats and you have one crowded room. Had the basement been a viable option it would have been fine – there is a DOOR to the basement. We can’t confine them on the first floor – that’s where the work is happening. The second floor is the solution EXCEPT ….. there’s no door to the 2nd floor.

top of stairsWe are building a door in the upstairs hall. There is no good place to put a door – the hallway is filled with doorways that do not align. We have steep steps. We need the light and air from the window at the end of the hallway. We are building a door, at an angle, with consideration for light and air, and seeing what’s on the other side before we open it. That way the girls will have access to every room on the 2nd floor – plenty of places to hide, water & food in one room, litter boxes in another room, bed to hide under in a third room, and so on. Room to avoid each other. And BC can sleep with me, as she always does. Once the construction is over, and the house is deemed safe for cathabitation, the prisoners will be released. But since they will miss us, we will be living upstairs also. Watching TV on the computer instead of the TV. Working from home from a bedroom instead of spread out on my dining room table. All 5 of us on the 2nd floor.

It’s going to be a very long summer. And none of us are going to like it.
The Great Barrier


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