Morning Update

Come, stress along with me.

IMG_9143First, and this is not really a stress and is totally expected and will probably be for the best: Of course the bistro delivery people had left for the day when I called back yesterday, and would not pick up the phone when I called early early early today, so by the time I made contact the trucks had gone out without my table. Delivery Tomorrow.

Second, although the appliances are being delivered, the hood for the range is back-ordered and is not here. That may or may not be an issue.

Third: Joe is not happy with the vent that is installed for the hood. He has looked at the space and has asked: How am I supposed to box that out? As my face turned a whiter shade of pale, he said “Don’t worry Ahuva, we’re going to make it beautiful”. 🙂 I love my contractors.

Fourth: The refrigerator is not fitting through the door. They have removed the refrigerator doors. It’s not fitting. You’d think maybe someone should have talked to us about this somewhere along the line????? I don’t like wishing time away, but I’ll be happy to be at the point where I have a new refrigerator in the correct spot.

We Have a Slab

our slabToday was our day to go see the quartz slab that would become our counters. I needed a fun day because yesterday I was beginning to feel that this project would not complete until the new year. The estimate was 10-12 weeks, which I never believed, but this is week 13 and NOTHING seemed to be happening. Combine that with a gray overcast day and it was a bit dispiriting.

We needed to drive an hour north to get to the factory (? is that what you call the place where granite and quartz are cut into table tops?). We took the convertible and had the top down, cruising merrily until we hit a sudden summer shower. I had to pull over and put the top up because this was enough rain that I couldn’t race fast enough to keep the drops from hitting us. *grin* I did THAT on the way home.

I had no idea what to expect. Let me say first that the people were lovely. Helpful, patient and very very understanding. I guess that’s how you become a successful business. slabs and slabsWe certainly had no idea how things happened, all we knew was what we wanted as an end result. They took us into the warehouse and there were scores and scores of slabs – quartz, granite and who knows what else. I could hear a lot of cutting noise from the other half of the warehouse. They led us to OUR slab. It felt a lot like being presented with a prize, or a relative’s new baby or something momentous. OUR SLAB. *grin* We loved it. The color was less gold than I expected, but it still was in the range of what I wanted. My husband loved it, and the counter is really one of ‘his’ aspects of this project. I mostly vetoed all the other patterns we’d been shown – he was the one with strong opinions. I just knew what I didn’t want.

We had time to wander about in the warehouse, looking at all the other slabs. how to move a slabSome of them were gorgeous and some were quite hideous, no matter WHERE you might want to put them. I have tried to get my photos to reflect the true color, but have not really succeeded. For that matter, my husband and I were editing the photos to try to get to the true color and we didn’t agree on which version was correct. Which merely proves the point that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I know the dress was gold and he knew the dress was blue. Whatever is our slab’s true color, we are both pleased with it and everything we picked for our kitchen, based on the sole image we had of it on my camera, will still work with that color.

It’s always fascinating to watch how big heavy things get move. moving the slabWhile this wasn’t quite as exciting as the time I watched a railroad train engine lifted up in the air and settled into place so workers could reach the underside, it was still a smooth ballet of lifting and moving the slab from one position to another. Once we could face it head-on, we began the process of placing the counter templates on the slab, trying to get the ‘best’ patterns for each piece.

We had a bit of confusion at the start, when they thought we wanted the 2 large segments to be one huge L-shape. We kept saying we didn’t want any seam up to the sink, that we didn’t care where the seam occurred in relation to the sink. They heard that originally as no seam at all. You can see in the photos that it is physically impossible to have those 2 pieces adjoin with no seam. My husband took the pieces and placed them as he wanted on the slab and then we were all able to see where the seam will have to be in relation to the sink. I gather this is another way in which my husband and I are a bit odd. close-up patternWe don’t care if the sink is centered in the counter or centered over the cabinets. It never was and we don’t care if it is now – that is not how we view the whole. What we wanted, and what we will get, is one unbroken piece from the one end all the way to just past the sink. For those of you who know the kitchen, that unbroken piece runs along the wall adjoining the bathroom, and hangs a left along the driveway to the sink. They will cut the adjoining rectangle to hold the sink and continue to the end of the counter, closest to the basement door.

full counter layoutNext we arranged for the pieces that will flank the stove. Again it’s not just a question of how much pattern you can get into the template – the grain must face the same way on both pieces. The last bit was for the cabinet in the breakfast room which is really stand-alone, so it doesn’t matter which way we oriented that template. When we were all done, I asked what they did with the pieces left over between the template. They said it was scrap and they toss it. I asked if I could have one of the pieces to use as a cutting board or cheese tray. They said absolutely and so that is marked out as well, with marker, not with a template. I’m guite pleased I thought to ask that.

the sinkThey asked us questions about the sink – where does the faucet go, will we have a soap dispenser. I told them I wanted the faucet near the bulge in the sink but that I had no idea about the soap dispenser. So many details!!!!! I said I didn’t even remember what the sink looked like, much less if it had a soap dispenser. They had the sink there (of course – they need it to cut the counter) so I have finally seen my sink since we picked it out back in April. It also took me a little conversation to grasp that the holes for faucets and dispensers are not in the SINK, but in the counter. I need to do more verification, but I’m fairly certain that there is no soap dispenser that matches our faucet, or we’d have ordered that as well.

The best news of all about the counter is that they plan to deliver it TUESDAY!!!! That’s only 1 week away!!!

The painter was here today, removing the old wallpaper and spackling the wall. He and I talked about where/how I could get one of those roll-out garbage cans in a cabinet, since I did not order one of my cabinets to have it already. IMG_9133I went online and see that they sell the hardware for installing in existing cabinets, and I have picked out the cabinet for it. We are having one of the cabinets reconfigured to be part broom closet, removing the shelves and adding a vertical divider. I think the garbage can go on the other side from the broom. The recycling bin will stay under the sink. Now I just need to figure out where to put the compost bin.

I came home and found several messages about shipments and deliveries. I needed to contact the appliance people to confirm delivery tomorrow. I needed to contact a shipping company to confirm delivery of the bistro table. I had called the cabinet hardware people this morning to find out why my order still only showed as “in processing” as opposed to “shipped”, and found a message from them that my order was sent out for shipping. The contractor stopped by late today as well and delivered the material for the soffits and the molding and what I think may be the divider for the broom closet. THINGS ARE HAPPENING!!!!

The Silver Snake

IMG_9084I am expecting this week to be full of arrivals and changes. I expect lots of deliveries on Thursday. I think the electrician is coming this week too. My painter is coming tomorrow to start taking down the old wallpaper in the breakfast room and whatever else he can get done this week. He’s going on vacation!!! Some people just have messed up priorities. *grin* We won’t elaborate on WHO it is who has the messed up priorities.

IMG_9087Rich was here today to put up the vent for the hood, which will be delivered Thursday. I REALLY hope they do the deliveries EARLY and there is someone here who can start attaching them. 🙂

Where once there was nothing, there is now a silver snake.

Decisions and a Rare Sighting

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IMG_9072We made a decision about the knobs and pulls for the cabinets. I’m NOT sharing that decision. You’ll have to wait for the pictures. 🙂 I must credit my husband for coming up with a solution to my dilemma. I was stuck on our first thoughts about the hardware, but he changed around our planned approach. I think it will look great.

Big excitement this morning! WC not only showed up meowing for breakfast, but she stuck around to PLAY!!!! While GC continued chowing down, BC and WC chased toys down the hall. I’d love to have a photo of that to show you but I had no idea the illusive WC was going to show. Our poor little WC – here she is, finally adjusting to the new living arrangement after 12 weeks, and I figure there is only maybe another 3-4 weeks before we open the door. IMG_9075ANOTHER CHANGE!!! WC does not do change well.

I paid off the balance on all the appliances yesterday. In doing so, I wiped out the rest of the renovation fund. 🙂 Of course, there are still bills coming in. Time to find another rainbow with a pot of gold.

This week we are expecting the electrician and maybe the plumber to come in and do some work. I think that the electrician will be installing the under-cabinet lights and outlets. IMG_9071The plumber might be doing the radiators, I’m not really sure. We’re expecting the bistro table to arrive on Thursday, and also the appliances to be delivered on Thursday. Still no word about when the counter might arrive. I picked up some slate cleaner and sealer so I can start seeing which tiles I want in the front hall. I need to try cleaning what is there, and then test the sealer on the new tiles I am NOT planning to use. I’m hoping those 2 activities will help me choose which tiles I should select to replace the old tiles with holes from the radiator.

By the end of this week, the kitchen may have a very different appearance. 🙂

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Rethinking the Hardware

IMG_9048Four of the sample knobs have arrived. While I really like 2 of them, I don’t like them for my kitchen. There is still one more sample due from my first batch of samples, and it’s possible that one will be okay. But I think that as much as I like the 2 stone ones in the bronze setting, they will “argue” with the pattern of the counter. I may end up having to wait for the counters to be installed before I can make a decision.

brittanicca goldOn the one hand I think it’s a bit silly to be obsessing about the knobs. On the other hand, for what I’m spending on this kitchen, and for how much time we (and our friends) spend in the kitchen, I want everything that I see to be pleasing to the eye. I don’t want to look at something and think “I could have done that better”.

1st choice knobAnd so I went and ordered a sample of the $70 knob. That knob is actually $86 on other sites, but the place I found it has it on SALE!!! Right. As I look at it I think that I would not want all 35 cabinets and drawers to use that knob anyway. We’ll see if it looks as good when it gets here. If it does, and I still love it, I will hunt for a pull that will work with it. I’m hoping I can find a suitable pull for under $70. 🙂

I’m also rethinking the tiles for the front hall. I’ve already received 2 different boxes of slate, neither of which really matches what is there now. I sent off 2 emails today to see if I could get a reasonably-sized order of some gorgeous copper red slate. The problems there are cost, size of the tiles, and the fact that when you see something in the light of day, it does not always look as good as it did on the website.

Lots of Progress

I have a room that is beginning to look a lot like a kitchen! It’s been a very productive week. On Monday they came and measured for the counters. A friend had suggested that maybe we’d want the bay window seat in the breakfast room to have the same top as the counters. IMG_9044I suspect it will (1) cost too much and (2) make the window seat too heavy to move to get to the radiator underneath, but we did have it measured and we’ll wait for a quote. We don’t have to move that window seat all that often, so if there is sufficient material left from the slab being used for everything else, and if the quote isn’t exorbitant, it may be our next change order. *grin* I’ve had a lot of them. We did get word later in the week that it will be longer than a week to get the counters made. Apparently they are back-ordered, and they ship from Minnesota. There will be a delay of 2-3 weeks for the counters.

My husband feels very strongly about the seam in the counter, as in he does not want any seam. 🙂 We all agreed that we would shift the sink over if it meant getting rid of a seam. IMG_9041We already broke with the concepts of symmetry and centering with the sink anyway. It “should” be centered with the bay window above it but that didn’t leave me sufficient space to the left of the sink for a dish drainer. 🙂 Although we ARE very concerned with the appearance of this kitchen, ultimately it has to be about functionality as the foundation. We are supposed to be contacted by the counter people once they have the slab so we can come up and see it before it is cut, and decide where to place the templates for the cuts. That way we have some say in both the seams AND the pattern that will be on the largest counter area. Our quartz selection is Cambria Brittanicca Gold, which has a marble appearance, which means there are waves of color, not one single constant appearance.

The soft area in the floor has been pulled up and repaired. IMG_9028I can still feel the difference in floor level underneath but it is a firm change, not a soft one. I think it will be okay. The trim has been put on the doorways and the pocket door is installed.

There was an issue with the door trim. I am learning a lot of new terminology with this project. I joked with Don (the foreman) that I will have to do a lot of studying before the final exam in September. Every bit of wood around the door (or window) has its own special term. I now know that the little bit of wood trim sitting on the BIG door trim is called “back band”. 🙂

IMG_9032The wood in our house is American chestnut, something I believe I mentioned during the demolition stage of this project. It is very very difficult to get chestnut wood anymore. There was a blight that struck the American chestnut trees back around 1905. It wiped out billions of chestnut trees. As I type this, I realize this is actually a bit odd, as my house was built around 1923 – where did they get all the gorgeous chestnut in my house? Ah – the tree was still around until 1950. The good news for the chestnut tree is that it is being brought back with a resistance to the blight. It has been cross-bred with the Japanese chestnut. We were quite insistent that the chestnut trim on the doorways to the dining room and the front hall be saved and reused.

One can insist but often life has its own plans. The chestnut trim was removed and stored in our garage. IMG_9030A lot of other things were in the garage also, and there has been a lot of activity in there. It was time to put the trim back this week. Unfortunately, some of the pieces had broken, and pieces were missing. They would have to build new trim out of new wood. Ideally of course we’d want chestnut. Unfortunately for us, chestnut is not yet plentiful and so it is expensive, and not as easy to obtain as other woods. And this is where I began my education in wood grain.

My husband was more upset than I at this news. My perspective is that the kitchen is changed so radically that as long as the wood gets stained the same color as the chestnut that was still usable, we’d be okay. He felt that the grain made a difference. Don and I discussed this and I asked if there was a readily available wood that had better grain than the default pine that gets used everywhere else (the pocket door, the trim on the floor – skirting!!). IMG_9031Oak has a more detailed grain than pine, closer to chestnut in appearance, and is available and not as expensive as chestnut. I made one of my executive decisions and said – use oak. I’m quite pleased with the oak, which is good, because I hadn’t realized that we’d lost all the dining room door chestnut. The onus is now on Matt, our painter, to get the proper stain for all the wood trim. He’s excellent at that and we’re used to mixing stains to match chestnut all over the house. You really can see the difference in the grain between the oak and the pine when you see them next to each other, as with the pocket door. I’m glad my husband put up resistance when I described the situation. I think my only issue with this might be that I wish the workmen had mentioned to me that there were other woods that would look better with the chestnut, as opposed to saying that the stain would take care of it. Even I with my untrained eye can now tell that wood grains are not equal and pine against chestnut is NOT the best approach.

IMG_9037We have a wood threshold between the dining room and the kitchen, and the threshold from the kitchen to the basement stairs is complete. We are only missing a threshold from the breakfast room to the bathroom, and I said that could be metal. Ultimately we need to redo the bathroom also (thanks to a diabetic cat and a dog trained to use pads indoor instead of having to be walked). I LOVE the pocket door – I am soooooo HAPPY to look there and not have the window blocked and to have the clean lines of that simple door. I can see that I need hardware for it. Which reminds me….

I did mention my expensive taste in cabinet knobs and pulls. I’ve ordered several samples and they’ve begun to arrive. Good thing I ordered samples. One of the ones that looked most promising came and it’s totally wrong. One is okay, not loving it, but it’s okay. The ceiling fan has come as well but that won’t be installed for awhile, so no link to show you it in advance. 🙂 And we DID order the funky bistro table. *grin* Sorry, Debbie, but while you sit there drinking coffee with me you won’t have to actually look at it. Now we are hunting for chairs that might work with the table and the room.

We are probably looking at a completion somewhere at the end of August, at least for the contractors. Matt is on vacation then so he won’t be able to do his painting and staining until September. I KNEW it would never happen in 10-12 weeks. 🙂
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Conditioned Behavior

I spent a lot of time in therapy, not a big secret. I went to a behavioral psychologist. We didn’t focus on WHY I had issues, we focused on what behaviors I exhibited that I wanted to change because they didn’t bring about positive results. He told me repeatedly that behavior is very difficult to change, we have to consciously work at it. Given my own experience and time with him, I’d have agreed 100% with that, until this renovation.

IMG_9014There is a doorway between our dining room and our kitchen. You’ve seen it in the pictures – it’s always covered in plastic sheeting. Our only access to the kitchen area (and, therefore, to the basement and deck) is through the front hall into the kitchen. We’ve turned the dining room into our ersatz kitchen. For weeks we would start to walk through the dining room door only to find the plastic sheet blocking the way. We learned to walk out through the living room, into the front hall, into the kitchen, and then to the bathroom, in order to get water from the sink.

This past week the men putting in the floor opened the plastic in the doorway so they could lay the floor. The door is open. WHAT A RELIEF!!!! Except…. I find myself walking the long way around all the time. If I am not actually looking at the dining room doorway when I head to the basement or deck, I will be walking the long way around to the front hall. 🙂

Why isn’t it this simple to change behavior we DON’T like????? 🙂

Cat Expressions

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It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. I took these pictures the other night when I was, apparently, late in serving dinner. Actually, WC pretty much has this expression all the time now. Maybe she’s always had it – that slightly worried look, furrowed brow. The world is unpredictable. Stick close to shelter – 4 paw widths from under the bed.

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IMG_9013I caught BC as she was looking around. She rarely has such an evil expression but the other pics were too fuzzy and this seemed to fit this post a bit better: hunched shoulders, tension in the back as she gazes towards GC sitting in front of where the missing dinner should be.
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IMG_9007GC waits patiently for her dinner, somewhat sad that it is taking so long to appear. She is NOT this patient for breakfast…
Please note that there is PLENTY of dry food available if any of them were actually HUNGRY. 🙂

Picking Up Speed

spackled sanded primed wallsWe had a very slow week before I took off for Tempe. It takes several days for dry wall and spackle to go up and dry. I believe they were sanding the walls while I was (finally) heading towards Tempe. Next came 2 days of priming and painting. Notice the smooth white ceilings and walls. Good thing that the a/c in what was the breakfast room still had power, as we ran it during the entire drywall/painting process to speed up the drying. Which brings up a very important question…. Will it still be the ‘breakfast room’ when all of this is done or will it ALL now be only ‘the kitchen’?

I got home early Tuesday after taking the red-eye home from Arizona. Shortly after my arrival, the floor installation began. We selected a vinyl floor with padding underneath (Strive Luxury Vinyl Plank). My husband had seen (felt?) this at a friend’s house and loved it. I confess that I can’t feel a difference between this floor and the hardwood in the living room. floor with cushioningMy husband and sister both say there is a difference, so I’ll believe them. My feet are NOT my most reliable body part. *rueful smile* (You’d have to go back and find the blog posts about the foot surgeries.)

I might not be able to FEEL a difference but oh wow!!! The floor looks GREAT!!! I love it. It took the two workers 2 days to get it all installed, but it’s gorgeous. Unfortunately there IS an issue – one that was stressing me out greatly. One of the key requests for the renovation was to have a level floor. When we added the breakfast room long ago, we were young and inexperienced and we let the contractors get away with having the kitchen floor and breakfast room floor at different heights, joining them with a metal whatever it is called (once again my vast ignorance of construction terminology is on display). (I’ve been told it’s a ‘threshold’.) Having the two rooms at the same height was non-negotiable. The join between those two rooms, however, was a tricky spot. I’d noticed that there was a lot of nothing under the vinyl flooring that was removed. I’m not sure why/how the gentlemen installing the new floor did not notice that what they did in the doorway was inadequate.floor close up Seriously – how can you not notice that the new floor boards don’t have sufficient support? When I stood in the doorway, the new flooring sagged. I was not happy. (And no snide comments about weight-load and all that!)

I sent an email immediately and got an immediate response from the contractor. I do love our contractors. 🙂 The next morning Manny was there and assured me that it would be fixed, fixed properly, fixed sooner than the end of the job, and I could stop stressing. *smile* He doesn’t know me very well – “stress” is my superpower. He and I talked about many things, including a new ceiling fan for the kitchen, and knobs and pulls for the cabinets. I kept circling back to the floor and he promised me it would be done, and done right. I did finally begin to feel reassured. I was fairly calm about it by the end of the day. Wouldn’t you know that is when my husband began to freak out about the floor, the warranty, damage. *grin* We really need to coordinate better. I think I got him calmed down. (And after Don talked to us when he came by we ARE both relieved and confident. That’s why we hired these contractors.) I said “look, it’s only a floor, how often have we ever relied on warranties anyway – they always expire, Manny and Don will get crews in here to fix it, it’s just a floor.” kitchen cabinetsOne thing that I have learned over the last 30 years is that “things” can be fixed. Damage to people is a matter for concern because often no matter how much money you have or time you have, some people damage can never be repaired. A floor is only a thing. On the other hand – yes, it would be nice to have it done well and right. Don will make it so. *grin*

Here is a very odd thing that I noticed when I went to lookup the product information about the floor. The floor is the correct color. It looks like what we selected (Himalayan bamboo). The boxes, however, say Georgian red oak. What is in the boxes and on the floor looks NOTHING like the sample of Georgian red oak in my renovation-selection photos. I think I should pretend that I did not notice this and go on my way quietly. (I’m way too neurotic not to dig around. I found a label on the end of the boxes that indicates it IS indeed Himalayan Bamboo. *grin*)

breakfast room cabinetsThe cabinets are in as well, another thing that went astoundingly quickly. I forgot to get a picture of the kitchen filled with boxes of cabinets (stressing about the floor AND the cabinet installers were there before 8:00 am). For those who asked me, the cabinets are Fabuwood, a NJ company. The boxes are gone and the cabinets are up and oh my!!!! It’s starting to look like a real room!!! I’m told the cabinets still need to be adjusted and drawers balanced 100% but they are all in the right spot and looking beautiful. I’ve begun researching knobs & pulls. I DID find one I loved, for only $175. That would be $175 per single pull. 1st choice knobI need a total of 35 knobs and/or pulls. I’m going to have to find one that perhaps I don’t love as much but CAN afford. 🙂 I have champagne taste – my second favorite is $70/pull. That is still a bit steep. (But it would look sooooo goood, she whined. “See???”)

I thought the workmen would be back today to do the trim and the pocket door, but I guess that is happening next week. I know that on Monday they (he? she?) are coming to do the template for the counters. I’m told that takes about a week to fabricate. I gather that installing the counter and installing the appliances can happen together or separately. After that the electrician and plumbers return to make everything WORK. I can’t even begin to imagine how wonderful it’s going to be to have an ice maker and cold water in my refrigerator. uninstalled pocket doorI started wondering about filters for it but Don told me that new refrigerators typically have the filters built in, and he’d show me where and how to change it. I hope so. It’s very educational moving into modern times.

The plumbers will have their work cut out for them. It’s not just the sink and the refrigerator – it’s 2 new hot water radiators as well. We’ve picked out very modern units. One will be installed the old fashioned way – the pipes through the kitchen floor. The other in the front hall will be mounted on the wall. That will allow us to change some things about in the front hall as well. I’m hoping that the electricians found and handled all the knob & tube issues already so that their work will be uneventful. Except, of course, they need to install a whole new sub-panel. Sigh. The homeowners’ motto: It’s Always Something.

Anyway, at the moment things are looking absolutely beautiful. I’ll be spending the weekend looking at bistro tables and knobs & pulls. I want something funky, unusual and bright. They have to stand in place of the artwork I had to remove in order to have cabinets everywhere. If you find something funky & unusual – let me know!

adjustable bistro table
What do you think? Too much? or way cool? 🙂

Light and Air

I’m not very observant. Oh for some things – like spotting a spider on a wall or ceiling – I’m eagle-eyed. For others, like new haircuts or eye glasses, not so much. Apparently light-switches fall in the “not observant” category. IMG_8786 It seems the day we got the walls, we also got a working light switch in the kitchen! It controls the light at the bottom of the basement stairs. This is wonderful news (although NOT as good news as a working kitchen sink will be). Whenever I’ve had to go to the basement in the evening, I have had to take a flashlight. There is a working switch at the bottom of the stairs but if I don’t want that light burning all evening, I have to turn it off. Then I have to navigate both the stairs and the rough, unfinished kitchen floor in the dark. Now I have light. It’s a lovely touch.

The men doing the spackling were here again yesterday and I got to meet them. It has been extremely humid and raining off and on. This is NJ in the summer after all. They pointed out that it would be really helpful if I would run the a/c unit in the breakfast room to help speed with the drying. IMG_8787I said there’s no power in the breakfast room. I know this because I lost my deck light, my garage light and the ceiling fan, all things I have been reaching for in vain for the last 8 weeks. Then we both looked at the a/c, the wall, and the outlet, and I realized that the spackler was running a little fan in the breakfast room. Obviously there is power in the breakfast room, but on THAT wall, not the deckside wall. They didn’t rip apart the wall on the driveway side. Another visual miss (or maybe a logical processing miss). This morning I pulled off all of the insulation, inside and outside, and the a/c is humming away. That was a great excuse for me to turn on the a/c throughout the house because it is again extremely humid with forecast for scattered showers. I sat and sweated yesterday but today, in deference to the spackling, I’m running the a/c. 🙂 I’m very thoughtful that way.