Monday, February 18, 2008

Fun with Framing (Happy President's Day weekend)

I’ve been sick for a week. Fine way to spend a 3-day weekend. I suspect the dirt and dust of remodeling has found its way into my sickly lungs. The dust is everywhere. We try to contain it but it’s a losing battle.

K has been working hard on the house. Even the hammering and drilling don’t keep me awake. I am blessed with an Olympic sized talent for sleep. He is blessed with an Olympic sized talent for hard work.

This weekend he’s been working on the framing. We passed the framing and electrical inspection last week and now it’s all about details.

A corner of what will be a bi-level ceiling in the library. The bi-level ceiling thing was an idea that K got from a friend. I still don't understand it. I guess we'll see how it works out.

The kitten is inspecting what will be a future closet. It had been one of the front doors. Well, the door was one of the front doors. What will be the closet was just space on the porch.

I guess this insulation is going to get stuffed into somewhere.

When I’m not sleeping, I’ve been making the best of this time by checking into appliances, reading Consumer Reports ratings. So far, I think I’m pretty sold on Bosch for both the dishwasher and the stove. What really made up my mind for Bosch for the dishwasher is that it was the only brand I’ve found that doesn’t have those stupid, smooth buttons that are covered by plastic. It has proper buttons that won’t split or break through in a few months. On the a/c unit in the office/guest room the buttons split exactly as I predicted it would. We hardly ever use that air conditioner since we don’t use the room all that much. I’m surprised manufacturers still use those buttons. Maybe I’m the only one who has a problem with them. But I'll never again buy an appliance with those plastic covered buttons.

I’m not sure how to select a stove. I’ve never had the choice before. I've always made do with stoves in my former apartments or the two that came with the house. Yes, two, as the house was a duplex when we bought it so it had two kitchens (like it had two front doors). I’m not a chef. I have no cooking related criteria by which to judge a stove or oven. I hear convection is better so I’ll go with that. But I won’t do much baking. Never have, never will. Unless you count frozen pizza. Really, I can only make a decision on the basis of appearance. I know I want stainless steel and hefty knobs. Hefty knobs count for a lot for me as do full surface grates. A warming drawer would be nice too. I guess the warming drawer is for people like me who can never time all their dishes to be ready at the same time.

In addition to framing speaker wire went in, too. That includes the doorbell wire. So we’ll be able to hear the pizza delivery guy even from the back of the house. No point in getting the nice Bosch stove dirty by cooking all over it.

Hey, it’s President’s Day weekend and I can’t think of anything to kvetch about.

In honor of my weeklong cold and probable respiratory infection, let’s have a portrait of William Henry Harrison, our 9th president and the one who served the shortest term. Only 31 days into his presidency he succumbed to a cold that turned to pneumonia.

This is what I herd

My kitchen remodel will completely revolve around the display of my collection of vintage creamer cows.

The picture above represents only the cows acquired since the purchase of our house, five years ago. There are dozens others that have remained safely packed in boxes since the move. They await a fitting shelf.

The display of these cows has determined a future rustic-vintage look in our vintage but very urban home (inhabited by at least one urban and very un-rustic – but increasingly more vintage – homeowner.)
K, (who actually has fond memories of childhood year spent in McCall, Idaho) does not cling to his urban identity as much as I.

Urban or not, I love my cows. Seeing them actually makes me happy! I love to see them all lined up together. They seem to almost sing a concert of moos, their mouths uniformly open, necks extended.

By the acquisition of them, I feel I have also acquired the history they hold. I don’t know how old they are. I’m sure some are not very old at all. Others could carry considerably more history. K recently gifted me one with the highly prized mark "Made in Occupied Japan."
My bovine beauties carry not only the history of the time they were fired, they carry the history of those who first bought them and who first held their smooth ceramic bodies. Who knows how their previous caretakers displayed them? Who knows how often they were engaged in the daily act of pouring cream into coffee? I have recently learned that creamer cows were often a source of salmonella poisoning. They’re hard to keep clean. Rest assured, mine will only be used for decorative purposes.
But back to my point. My kitchen has become about the display of these cows. So really, isn’t my whole house about the display of all my material goods? Couldn’t I spend a lot less money on kitchen cabinets if I were content to go with something a little more modern (but which don’t go with the cows)? When it comes down to it, what was wrong with the house as it was? as I bought it? It had a new roof. Yes, it was as cold as hell, but I’m not remodeling the whole house just for the sake of the drafty windows. Is all this effort and expense really about ego and vanity? "Look at my good taste!" "Look at my beautiful cows!" "Look at all the stuff I’ve collected from all the places I’ve traveled!"
I always wanted to avoid being one of those people whose life centered around possessions. The material world sucks you in, doesn’t it?

Back to the rustic/vintage thing. I hear a wee bit of alarm in response when I've told others that we are going with black kitchen cabinets. But I feel drawn to black cabinets. This is an image from Crownpoint.

Crownpoint is out of my price range but this is the idea. Instead of pottery, you’ll have to imagine my cows lined along those shelves.

The paint will be distressed to give the effect of age. It will be the artificial application of history. How ironic that my 100-year-old house will require a dose of artificial history.

The woman who writes this blog: does a very nice job of distressing her own cabinets. I briefly considered this option. Not to our old cabinets, of course - but doing our own distressing on stock cabinets. The act of distressing adds quite a bit to the cost of the cabinets. Of course. Everything I want adds to the cost. But with so much else to be done, this is a task K doesn’t need.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Price of Empire

Yes, it’s been a while. In November we began the demolition of the last four rooms, the public rooms. The living room, dining room, kitchen and "library" were brought down by Mr. U and Mr. Blue, both of whom I believe came to this state from Wisconsin.

Mr. U takes down the living room.

Mr. Blue under the green beam.

Adios, ugly white painted paneling.

Auf Wiedersehen, nasty kitchen counter.

Arrivederci, white tile.

Bon voyage, bits o' plaster.

Hello, dead rat.

Santa Claus ain't comin' down this chimney no more.

Welcome, squatters and thieves!

Here, you'll just have to imagine the future loveliness of our living room.

We are down to the frame in half the house. We live in 2 rooms. Better than maybe 97% of the world; still … we feel crowded.

It’s been cold. In a Southern California kind of way it’s been cold. It’s been a damp, cold winter and there are huge gaps all over the house. The windows never did seal well and now there are holes where things used to be. And of course there’s no heat source. As K said “there’s no difference between here and outside. Just fewer ‘possums.”

But I’m glad to see it go. Especially in the kitchen. The hideous counter is gone, along with the filthy, horrid drawers and the nasty, crumbling little tiles. And the disgusting vinyl floor.

This is a picture of the kitchen under the reign of the former homeowners. I see now that I managed to make it look considerably worse over the past 5 years. It didn't help that the doors on the lower cabinets started to fall off. But my addition of the green paint certainly didn't help. It was just a test.

Through this process a dumpster was filled . . .

Who knows where all the detritus will go. Actually we do know. Into a landfill. Because we have to have new stuff. It keeps the economy running.

Presidential portrait of the day? - the man who gave us both the Immigration Reform and Control Act and the Iran-Contra affair.

I suppose soon we'll be serviced by Kurds at the Waffle House and Sunnis at Supercuts. That's cool. As long as we get what we paid for.