July 28, 2010

Watch that first step

I think I am getting to old for this. Or, thats what my body is telling me after a weekend of gloved hands, lifting six by six posts and four by twelve pressure treated posts and beams into some position. I say some position because of the semi irregular shape of the deck on the back of the house that was a pain in the ass to keep square, level, and plumb. Up the posts went... six by six, four by six, four by four, each post with a specific engineered load requirement placed, more or less, where the engineer required them to be. And then the beams, twenty foot long, four by twelve monsters that took three and sometimes four of us to maneuver into position nine and a half feet above our heads. Up it went, moment by moment, until just before dark on Sunday night when we suddenly were staring at the frame work for the massive decking that surrounds the back of the house. All of these body aches just to get our power turned on. Do we really need it? How about candles, kerosene, and wood stoves?

Every evening this week we are working away at the small pad of concrete and bricks at the end of the stairs. Tonight when we arrive we will be leveling the form and learning how to mix cement. I have watched others do it and I am sure we can handle it. If we can get the stairs up tomorrow, we can call for inspection on Friday and have electricity by Monday night.


I have been looking at other peoples house blogs lately. Blogs about restoring antique homes. There are a few I will admit that are really great and I have become a follower of a couple of them. I would recommend "The Petch House". Greg, the owner of the house and the blog, is a great writer and is doing very much the same things we are... but he is a lot further along! I have secret thoughts of playing house switch with him!

One odd thing that I have noticed, well odd to me anyway, about a lot of the blogs about home renovation/restoration is that they are not writing about fixing their homes at all. They are plugging the latest "sooo cute vase" from Pottery Barn that will look so wonderful in your powder room, against the latest wallpaper from "so and so", while you do crafts with the children, and bake super lo-cal, but incredibly delicious chocolate cake. Or posts about fluffy not feeling well and perhaps needs a visit to the dog psycho doctor or a doggie whisperer, and lots of "sorry for not writing lately, I just had fifteen babies", I think its an epidemic!

One of these would definitely help that situation!

But mostly an incredible number of renovation bloggers writing about their gardens, and their cute little flower beds. I suppose it is somewhat related, kind of, but at this point in our adventure the concept of garden is just, well, foreign! So I have been thinking that I would share some of the lovely views of the gardens at 227 North Street, I am sure you will be amazed and astounded at the beauty.

Beautiful spring flowers growing amongst the lush carpet beneath the trees

I know that I will receive many request for our landscape designers name, but I promised I would never tell. I am posting one more photo below that shows another sign of things to come. it is a shot of the wooden template that will soon be transferred to a piece of White Statuary Marble and permanently installed as our new front door sill.

When next I write we will have some lights on in the house and not be so dependent on one hundred foot extension cords plugged end to end, to end, to...

July 22, 2010

The Sun sets on another lovely vacation

As the sun sets on our ninth day of vacation we reflect on nine fun filled days of home renovation and a pre-inspection walk through by the city inspector. A lovely time was had by all, sanding, digging, priming, and running around shopping like chickens with our heads cut off. (do they really run around? I have always wondered!)

By Monday morning we were ready for our walk through and our inspector was incredibly pleased with the work that we have completed so far. Scott Ward, a fine gentleman and a scholar, went through the house with a fine tooth comb and listed items for us that needed to be addressed prior to "close-up". Close-up being that time in which we actually can start to seal up walls and begin the re-trimming process. There were only 12 items on the list for the whole house and at least four of them did not affect our "close-in" sign off, things like stabilize the front porch and finish the heating and air conditioning.  He was so impressed by Phillips electrical system that he said he would tag the panel for power up! Yeah... power! Lights and plugs without extension cords running everywhere for miles. So around the back of the house we marched so Mister Ward could place an "A-OK" sticker on the panel. We all paraded to the back yard and turned to face the panel, slowly every set of eyes traveled up the foundation and then up the outside wall of the breakfast room to finally settle on the main circuit panel... twelve feet in the air. Well apparently you must be able to access the panel in an emergency, who knew! So no power, no lights, and no plugs, until we build at least some of our deck under the panel and add a set of steps to climb up onto it. Now mind you, the deck was not on the financial plan until somewhere down the road, so far down the road that I couldn't even tell you where the signs pointing in that direct might be. But build we shall. First there are seven huge holes to be dug and filled with rebar, and concrete, and that is just for half of the structure. Then we will get down upon the earth, bow our heads low, and pay massive monetary homage to the Simpson Strong Tie Corporation. That wonderful company that makes all of those beautiful metal brackets, hold downs, and supports that are an engineers wet dream. By that I mean they are uglier than hell (I was going to say shit, but I wasn't sure if I could say that here) and cost two arm, two legs, and the rest of your hair. But, by the end of this weekend we shall be able to walk to the back door of the house via the back steps and pass right by that lovely main electric panel, which will hum with electric life the top of next week.

This past week we also added a new addition to our family. It big, and slick, super heavy, and shiny white. Phillip has been in charge of the procurement and installation of this beauty, which now sits proudly on its  concrete base awaiting the flowing liquid of life. Please meet, all 75 gallons of...

Mister Water Heater

In preparation of the hook-up

Garry was with us during our vacation and he tackled the last of the windows on the ground floor, those being the bay window in the former Library, now known as the Drawing room. And when I was not pouring over the engineers drawings, desperately trying to understand them, I was working on the exterior of the Drawing room bay window. Just like the one in the Living room it came completely apart and was reassembled.

Before we knew it our week was up and both of us had to go back to work. Garry headed off into the sunset for Los Angeles, and our home is once again quite during the day. But come 5:30 in the evening, every evening, we can be found once again sanding, hammering, and priming away.

July 09, 2010

A new look and the Orange house

Yesterday I spent more time than possible creating a new look for the blog. I hope everyone likes the new look. The image that I am using as the blog title is a piece of art work by the late Rosinda Holmes that was drawn for the cover of a book entitled "Historic Homes of Healdsburg". Produced in the nineties for the Healdsburg Museum by Hannah Clay, this book has been out of print for years. If you would like to view the entire book, click on the title above to be taken to my photo album, which has the book in it's entirety. It's a fun little book with great old pictures and interesting information about the local houses. I really think it should be updated and once again published by the Healdsburg Museum. It is a great walking tour. We had seen the second edition of the book before and although our house is in the book, the cover artwork is drastically different, in fact it is a collage of three homes in town. By accident I found a copy of the first edition on line and was very surprised to find a rendering of our house on the cover. I am trying to track down the original drawing with hopes of hanging it in our home some day. I hope that Rosinda and her family do not mind that I am using the image for the blog, I really find the drawing compelling and want to honor the memory of Rosinda's art.
The cover of the first edition

Top of Page 26

A Before and After for today...

While working on images for todays post I came across a crazy before and after. Although the after is not completely to date, the difference is astounding.

The before rear of our house standing in the back yard facing south

The after! Although far from finished it is amazing that it is the same house.

Like the old "can't see the forest for the trees" sometimes we don't see how far we have come in ten months. And daily we stride forward. Tomorrow we begin another nine day vacation. That means no day jobs to contend with, only wuhvwy west and wewaxation! with sweat pouring over the dirt that has caked onto us during a stretch of twelve hour, hard days, at work on the house. Garry will be back with us and we should have lots of photo's to share.

*** News Flash ***

Word from our local city hall has everyone abuzz... it's true, the owners of 227 North Street have called for inspection. Scott Ward, our local inspector will be doing a preliminary walk through on Monday July 12th, with the mechanical inspection scheduled for Friday July 16th. Good luck to the boys, and we all hope they pass with flying colors!


The Orange House

I want to talk about the orange house. I have had it with it, and I am fed up to "there" with it. Tuesday evenings, during the summer, the city of Healdsburg hosts music in the square. Basically some form of a "rock-a-billy" band clangin away for for an overly zealous town square, packed to the brim with folks drunk off their asses. Every Tuesday it's Déjà vu all over again. The neighborhood is full of cars, the town square is full of the same music, the same crowd sitting in the same places passing wine bottles around, the same group of middle to elder aged folks dancing, and the same group of the younger set, with headphones on, listening to anything else on their ipods... there is something very "Stepford Wives" about the whole thing. Then at eight thirty, heaven forbid anything go on into the later hours in this town, the music ends, the sidewalks roll up, and all those people in the square waver their way down the sidewalks in a drunken stupor to head for home. Last Tuesday night we were wrapping up our work evening a bit early to go have dinner with some friends as the groups of people from the square were making their usual Tuesday night trek to their cars or home. A group of three men passed us and turned beside the house up Fitch Street where they had parked. As we were leaving I saw, out of the corner of my eye, one of the three cross the road and head for our property. I knew immediately where he was headed... The Orange House!
I circled around the property expecting to wait outside the orange house so that I could let him know that this was private property and that the orange house was not for public use... well that was the plan anyway, I rounded the back corner of the house to find him standing behind the orange house with his"hmm hmm" in his hand and just peeing away into the wind. At this point he had not seen me, I was completely dumbfounded and did not know what to say, then I got mad! I piped up with "excuse me, this is private property!" He just looked up at me in a wine induced haze and continued to water the weeds, so to speak, and apologized by way of saying "I guess I should have gone in the Orange porta pottie"...
You should have gone in the Orange porta pottie??? He should not have been there at all! Foaming at the mouth I chased his sorry self out of the yard while he was desperately trying to stop what he was doing and put his "hmm hmm" back where it belonged!

To say the least will have a toilet in the house by the end of the month come hell or high water, and say good bye to the Orange house!