Our house and I were both created in the 70’s. In fact, I’m a bit older, as our house was built in ’77. I hope I never have as many problems as the house, though. The more we look, the more issues present themselves.
That being said, I’ve been too much of a Debbie Downer lately, so I thought I would focus on some things I love about our house. (I’ll update you on the progress of our work in a couple of days. Let’s just say that the only breaks we’ll have in the foreseeable future are going to work, going to see my Charles’ dad, and watching The Brass Petal’s super-cute author, Emily Henderson, on her new design show on HGTV.)
The most obvious love of our house is the view. I fell in love with our place before we ever stepped inside, and it was because of that view. Its lovely morning mists, sunrises, and reflected sunsets give me a joyful ache. People around here love to name their homes, (Our neighbors, for example, seem to have named their place after a drug and alcohol recovery center.) so we thought we’d join in. My Charles came up with, “Bitchin’ Vista.” We think it sums up our view nicely.
Our home is small, but it’s snug. We get to be all comfortable and snuggly-like during the winter because of its compact layout. Even when the snow is swirling and the wind is howling, we’re content under our blankets, sitting by the rosy glow of the wood stove.
It was originally a summer cabin, and being surrounded by black oaks and evergreens, I like to play up the cabin-y feel while still keeping some contemporary touches. Really, I’m a bit of a freak, and that shows itself in some of my decorating. For example, I’m really looking forward to the velvet painting of Bruce Campbell that I just commissioned from my friend Chris. A good deal of my friends are artists, so I’m lucky enough to pepper my walls with their creations. But back to the cabin/contemporary…
I tiled our kitchen with copper tiles. We have soap and lotion dispensers in the bathroom that I absolutely love and that make me happy whenever I have the occasion to use them. I’m planning on making a farmhouse table for the dining area when I have time, but I’m going to keep the funky collection of antique wooden chairs I got from my Aunt Jan. (I’ll probably build a bench for the side that will be close to the wall, though.) Plus, we have lovely slate floors in the living & dining rooms.
When I was a tiny girl, this was where I wanted to live. I don’t have the acreage or the horses that I dreamed of, but I do have the mountains and trees. No matter how many issues my Charles and I find that need to be corrected, at least we still have our mountains and trees.
That seems to be my quote of the day lately, but I'm trying to stay positive -- honest I am. It's just that sometimes, the whole, overwhelming mess of it all just comes a crashin' down.
My Charles' friend, Mike, stopped by to help us out the weekend before last. They worked super duper hard. I'm sure there was lots of grumbling and cursing and such, but they got a lot done. You may not be able to tell by this picture, but they really did.
They managed to get the sliding glass door out, frame and all, in a totally whole, unbent-like way, so we're hoping we'll be able to reuse it and save some dough. Part of the ledger board underneath the door had dry rot, so that got replaced.
The plywood in my office that was water damaged is now gone and whole, clean-smelling pretty plywood is in its place, eagerly awaiting the return of the subfloor on top of it. The dryrotted beams are replaced, too, so all of the icky stuff is gone, gone, gone.
As you can see, the deck is completely removed in front of my office. The paneling on the outside of the house is just tacked-up as we wait for a bit of a consultation from a professional about the best way to reinstall the door without killing ourselves in the process.
But, at least we have progress! We've just been so beat from the work-house-take care of ailing parent grind that we took last weekend off.
We did get a sail shade up, though. It's not that pretty currently, but then, neither is the house, and it's making it much, much cooler inside. Usually, by noon, the house is baking in the sun and continues to do so until about 4:00 p.m. Now, the house is enjoying the shade. Seriously, mid-afternoon, I could burn my hand by laying it on the door. Our energy bills should be helped a LOT. (My original plan was for a white sail to go with our future sage green house with bright white trim, but this was only sixty bucks and came in hunter green or sand, so I chose sand. Because of the incredibly dry air this year, the red dirt puffs up when you look at it, so maybe sand is just as well. White would have turned this color within a few days anyway. By the way, if I was going to get an awning and price wasn't an option, I'd get one of these. )
All this work has been causing the pup to feel neglected. I think the weekend off helped him too. Here he is looking at me on the other side of the door, silently asking me why I have to be outside doing stuff so often without him.
So while we're tired, we're making headway, and we're feeling a push to be done with the outside stuff. There are indications from the wildlife hereabouts that are pointing to an early autumn, so we really have to get crackin'!
David, our produce manager, popped his head into my office just before the end of my shift yesterday. His eyes were shining with excitement as he said, “One of our local farmers just brought in edible flowers. Do you think you could put something up on Facebook about them tomorrow?”
Shoot, I’d do one better than just put it up on Facebook. How could I resist the concept of local, edible flowers for my Eat Local dinner? And if I was going to eat it, I should blog about it, right?
I clocked out and headed to the produce department, giddy with anticipation. I was going to craft a dinner around flowers! Awesome, awesome, awesome! My brain began to spin with options. Obviously, I was going to make a salad with the flowers as the main ingredient. Local greens, blackberries, and Sungolds rounded out the edible posy. We had some green beans we had picked during our last visit to our CSA farm. If I kept it simple and tossed them with some regional butter, they’d compliment the sweet greenness of the salad. Then a little bit of protein… my Charles helped me out with that decision – regional chicken it was (and it was reduced – score!).
The minute we walked in the front door, I started warming up the stove-top, cast iron grill and put a pot on to boil for the green beans. Then I began arranging the salad. I must admit that almost half of the local blackberries didn’t make it into the bowls. They’re wild, so they have that wonderful untamed tang as well as sweetness. A healthy amount of Sungolds, sliced in half so their juices incorporated with the greens were next, and then I added the flowers. It was like arranging in a vase, but better, because it would soon end up as our meal. As soon as the green beans and chicken were cooked, dinner was served.
The flowers gave a green pop to the palate. I especially enjoyed the nasturtiums. They presented a sprinkling of spice across the tongue followed by a delightful burst of mandarin oranges. My Charles wasn’t as enthusiastic about his edible arrangement, so I helped myself to his nasturtiums too. Because of the wild, green flavors of the flowers accompanied with the chicken and green beans, I’d recommend a Sauvignon Blanc made in the New Zealand style. It complements the range of flavors wonderfully.
A little bit of exotic beauty for dinner – it’s so great to work in a place where I get to be introduced to so many wonderful, new experiences, especially when those experiences are on a plate.
When I was thirteen, I was riding my bike in the desert outside of Reno, Nevada. (This was before the sprawl that turned that wonderful desert into oh so many tract homes.) I was enjoying myself to the utmost, my hair blowing back, alone in the hills except for the lizards, snoozing animals, and tough, little plants. Life is glorious in the desert!
As I rode on the narrow trail, I spied a coffee can thrown next to some brush on my left. I braked with a spray of gravel and a plume of dust. My mind raced with thoughts of found treasure. Was this my doorway to wealth?
I picked up the can, hot to the touch because of its exposure to the summer sun, and opened the lid with anticipation -- only to be assaulted with the smell of rot and the vision of a dead parakeet.
This experience seems to be replaying itself as we delve further into the situation with my office. The difficulty of taking the sliding glass door out is intimidating to say the least. My Charles has begun to take out the decking so that he can see what it looks like below the door frame. What he found does not look good. Mold against the house, eating into the siding along with the dry rot.
All planks shown have been unscrewed
And then, of course, it had to get more complicated. The deck is actually attached to the siding, so some of the supports have to be removed in order to replace the siding. Even more fun was found underneath the supports where it was discovered that the original siding wasn't even painted or sealed where the deck connected to the house. Fantastic.
I love my desk
I've been feeling bad, too, because I was sick with the flu earlier this week -- high fever and hallucinations to boot. While I'm feeling better physically, I still tire easily, so I haven't been able to help my Charles with any of this work. To make myself feel a little better, like at least I was doing something constructive, I rubbed teak oil into my desk since it occasionally has to spend some time on the deck. I think it turned out really pretty.
Literally. A hornet's nest.
Oh well, when it comes to DIYing, at least I was forewarned. I read so many home blogs, I knew that any major redo takes twice as much time and money than you originally think. Somehow though, that knowledge isn't exactly helping me out as we open up cans of dead parakeets and hornets nests alike. But we shall prevail! I promise you, and myself, that we shall. We just have to get through the rough spots, and sometime down the line, I'll have glorious after pictures to share with you. It's just, ahem, taking more time and money than we originally anticipated.
My Charles and I had a little bit of time a couple of evenings ago and ripped out all of the carpeting from my office. It's really too easy to rip out carpeting. Maybe this is why everyone is so keen on the cleaner look of wood flooring -- there's something ever so satisfying in tearing out old, stinky, dirty carpet. We were organized and rolled the carpet as we took it out. We weren't so organized once it got to the padding.
Yesterday we had an entire day off where we hadn't committed to anything else, so we spent it by traveling down to Sacramento to get some flooring, stopping off at the hardware store to get some wonderfully collapsible saw horses, and then being motivated to GET THIS PARTY STARTED.
Crowbar, check! Hammer, check! Lots of frustration to take out on a subfloor, super check!
Look at this super-nastiness! We're actually going to trim some of this, as it's still sound, to reuse. This will save us a little bit of money and it will help because there's an odd alcove in my office that makes it just a wee bit longer than one of these pieces.
Now we come to the good news/bad news part of the demo. The good news is that we discovered that the trim may not have been completely at fault. This is great as it means that there hopefully isn't more of this mess hiding somewhere else on the deck-side of the house. The bad news is that we discovered that the leak is coming from the sliding glass door.
We don't have enough money right now to replace the sliding glass door. What's more, this is an OLD door, and I couldn't even find instructions on the internet that explained how to remove the door, fix the wooden support frame, and then replace it. All of the instructions involved destroying the door frame in order to remove it. Obviously, this will not work. Plus, no matter how we tried, the frame would not budge. At least part of it had been installed correctly!
This is something else we have discovered as we've worked on my office -- there was a lot of jenky stuff done to this space. My theory is that the original homeowners only used this house as a summer home, so they didn't care that there were some bazaar installations. They were only here a couple of months a year, after all. For example, not only is there no flashing under that door, I also discovered random scraps of wood inside the wall when I was tearing out the damaged sheet rock.
More moldy drywall to deal with.
And then there were the rusted nails all along the external wall that were just sitting on the plywood. They were just dropped and left, so when the water invaded, the random nails rusted where they lay.
But since we've found this new issue, we also have to replace the plywood. I'm hoping when we tear out the plywood and expose the floor joists, we'll see an opportunity to replace the bottom of the jam and install some flashing without destroying the door. Oh, and one more jenky thing -- they built this whole house with nails. I'm almost sure of it. I haven't found a screw anywhere inside the house -- at least where it's still the original construction. They even nailed down the plywood. No wonder the floor's always squeaked in my office!
It's just a flesh wound!
I also received my first construction injury. I left the office to grab the ladder, came back in, and whammo! My left eye started to tear up. I thought I had just gotten a piece of dust in my eye, but when I looked into the mirror later that day, I discovered a scabby little flesh wound. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but there it is. I also happen to be incredibly allergic to mold, so today my lungs burn, my windpipe itches, and I feel like I'm hanging out in a pea soup fog, so I guess I got a couple of injuries yesterday. Oh the sacrifices for a nice home!
It's actually redder than this.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel -- I really like the floor we purchased. It's laminate, but that's all we can afford right now, and since I paint in that space, maybe laminate's a better idea anyway. I hate using drop cloths when I'm focused on a painting. My klutziness takes over, and I trip into my easel. This has happened more than once, so I don't use them anymore.
Anyhoo... maybe something to look forward to? I guess we'll have to see how replacing the frame under the door goes. My hopes were to replace the sliding door with French doors eventually, but unless I find a kick-ass deal on craigslist in the near future, I don't see that happening this year. We'll see how the next lap in the floor replacement goes. I'll keep ya posted.