January 25, 2010

Winter Blues

I have been trying to figure out why I have not been inspired to write over the last couple of months. It would seem to be the winter blues. This is our first winter in Healdsburg and it is an odd little town as the days grow shorter and the the weather changes. When November rolled in and the holidays loomed on the horizon it seemed that everyone left town. Off to warmer climes, second homes in the big city, or to hole up with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It became really apparent to us at Christmas and New Years. The sidewalks were not covered in a blanket of sparkling Christmas snow, but were rolled up and wrapped in tarps to await the return of the sun, longer days, and people. Even the stop lights seemed to just sit and sit on red waiting for someone to notice them so they could leap to yellow and green. Having come from two very large cities, and thrilled to be back in a small town environment, we are used to big gatherings and celebrating at the holidays, but found ourselves alone on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. All of the friends that we have made here were nowhere to be found. So the holidays passed unusually quite for us and we concentrated on our house instead.

Now we find ourselves more than halfway through January and it is raining. Its been raining for more than two weeks with no sign of the sun in the near future. The rain and the blues have taken me by surprise as I grew up in weather like this. Oregon, where as they say "you don't tan, you rust". Of course if we could hibernate in our little shack, cook spaghetti, play cards and watch movies for the winter I might feel differently. But we spend our weekends at the house, and at least three evenings during the week. Those evenings are the hardest. Cold, wet, damp, dark, and quiet... with the exception of the cars honking at each other on the corner... But we suck up and carry on. There was a time a month ago that there was no end to plumbing. Now I am convinced there is no end to electric. Electric goes on and on and on... and we are still on the first floor. I don't think any of us truly appreciate what is behind our walls and how it got there. Every electric box that is placed requires thought about its position, not only where it falls on a given wall, but also it's relationship to other boxes and everything that surrounds it. Add to that the fact that we are placing things for our own home. Crazy rounds of discussion about what ifs. What if we decide to put a lamp there, or what if we put a chair here, or perhaps a sofa there? Room by room these discussions happen and room by room we have worked our way through. The kitchen and breakfast room are finally done and everything else is a piece of cake after that. The dining room and living room are also almost complete, and soon we will have the library and office wired and move onto the second floor.

Adding electric to our house has also spawned a nasty rumor around town. I feel like I should address it here and now. I hate to admit it but, It's true. We have joined the ranks of tract housing and we are installing recessed lighting. We fought and fought against "canning" a one hundred and forty year old house, but we finally gave into the pressure. Granted with the exception of the kitchen, the cans are art lighting placed along appropriate walls, but they are cans nonetheless. We both feel dirty, unclean, used, abused and so... average, so cross your fingers and hope we can downplay their appearance and when you see them don't torture us too much. By the way, all of this art lighting brings up a small problem... ART... lots of wonderful pools of beautiful light bathing walls that will hold, well, um, art? If you happen to have any lying around that you don't need be sure to let us know.

January 06, 2010

Who are "They" anyway?

I grew up with three monsters that I lovingly refer to as my brothers and sister. I of course was the angel of the brood and never caused a moment of trouble...  Sorry I was remembering my halo and how it glowed! Well, in my mind it did anyway. Our Mother is a woman with a mission, but always with a sense of humor. I remember as a kid, chores being dealt out on a daily basis, and when ever I would pass by one of my siblings I was reminded of my current chore. "She, told you to take out the trash", "She, told you to vacuum the living room", "She, told you, or She, said...", and it did not matter where you were, in the house or out in the back forty, that loud and clear voice would ring out true, "Don't call me 'SHE', I'm your Mother!"
This memory visits on a daily basis at the house. It is only a shell of a home with no insulation or interior walls. No windows on the East side, and poorly fitting ones everywhere else. Folks walking by on the sidewalk don't realize that we can hear every word that is said. We overhear all kinds of conversations about our home. "They, are doing such and such", They, are doing this and that", "They, are making huge mistakes...", They, are...". It's kind of crazy, and kind of fun at the same time. "They", "She", now I understand. Some times I want to run out the front door into the yard and yell out "we are not 'They', we are Mark and Phillip, and if you are so curious come on up and sit a spell". But fear not, we are recording every conversation for future reference.

We spent 9 days working our butts off at the house over the Christmas break. Rough plumbing, wiring, and earthquake retrofit were the name of the game. Lots of earthquake retro fit, cause ya know, that there hunerd-n-forty year old house might fall down if a big one comes along. Hmmmm, let's see, I guess that means that the 1906 and the 1968 were just little bumps in the night. Oh well, suck up and bust. So my right arm is killing me from holding the nail gun ten feet in the air as I added block, after block, after block, of two by ten lumber between all of the floor joists.