Entries in hall house - attic (5)


the madness has officially begun

For those just tuning in, after months (and months and months) of planning and financial wrangling, our massive series of home improvement projects are now underway. The good news is that we're going to be getting it all over with in one fell, relatively short, swoop. The bad news is that we might possibly be crazy. Because our plan involves accomplishing almost all of the following in 2 weeks:

  • new roof and gutters
  • repairing dry rot and water intrusion damage on the front facia and west gable/porch overhang
  • replacing all the plumbing (including installing shutoff valves, which I never realized how much I would appreciate in my previous life as a non-homeowner)
  • new furnace and thermostat
  • new heat pump to replace the decrepit and long-overdue-for-replacement water heater (no seriously, we have pushed our luck beyond belief with this water heater -- it was past its life when we moved in...12 years ago)
  • bathroom renovation, including: refinishing the original cast iron clawfoot tub; tearing out the tile floor and replacing with a new tile floor; installing wainscoting with trim and new baseboards; stripping paint from trim, window frame, both cupboards, and all drawers/doors; painting walls, cupboards, trim, ceiling; installing bathroom ventilation; installing a clawfoot shower kit; replacing the sink with a new pedestal sink & fixtures; replacing the light fixture; replacing window and cabinet hardware
  • replacing the attic dormer window (a 7 foot, 3 unit casement window) with a custom wood frame window
  • 12(!) Indow Windows for the main floor and attic (to make our original, single pane windows more energy efficient)
  • energy efficiency improvements -- air sealing, duct sealing, rim joist insulation, attic insulation, wall insulation, floor insulation

Today was actually Day 4 of this whacked out home improvement schedule of ours. The whole rolling snowball of insanity actually began last Wednesday -- which, I will note, was also my birthday -- with the removal of the tub. As mentioned above, it's the original cast iron clawfoot tub, over 100 years old and weighing about the same as a dumptruck. Much of its porcelain finish has worn off over the decades so we're having it refinished, which means it has to be physically relocated to the refinishers' shop in Vancouver.

The plumbers needed the tub out of the way before they could begin work, and the plumbing work needed to be done before the bathroom contractor could do their renovations, and suddenly we're in that song about the old woman who swallowed a fly. The kicker is that while the tub refinishers would pick up the tub, they would only pick it up from the street -- something about "liability" and "potential damage" and "holy crap all those stairs are you crazy, lady". Moving a tub that weighs a gazillion tons from the bathroom to the street is also not in the plumbers' wheelhouse, which meant we needed to hire movers -- because what's another contractor in a cast of thousands, really? -- to move it from the bathroom to the street. (It ended up being easier to just have the movers take the tub to the refinishers.)

Complicating all of that was the plumbing, which, like the tub, was also over 100 years old and thus had no shut off valves anywhere but at the main. So removing the tub meant turning off the water to the house until the plumbers could install shutoffs as part of the rest of the plumbing replacement, which is also why we had to time it closely with the plumbers' arrival, since we kind of, you know, need running water.

So the tub came out on schedule, and the plumbers worked their magic in two days, also on schedule. Next up on the schedule: the simultaneous arrival of the bathroom and roofing contractors today, who have this week to do their work so that the furnace, hot water heater, window replacement, Indow windows, and energy efficiency improvements can all be done next week. Also arriving today: 2+ inches of rain, finally ending months of abnormally dry weather.

Not all of the work will be done by the end of next week, unfortunately. The tub won't be back from the refinishers until mid-March, nor will the shower kit, sink, and fixtures. So what are arguably the most crucial and personally impacting portion of this whole complicated plan -- the tub/shower and toilet -- will also take the longest to be restored to normal.

The loss of our bathroom means using The Bathroom That Shall Not Be Named for toilet needs, which has the extra super duper bonus of being in the Totally Not Creepy basement. (As for bathing needs for 4 weeks, well, that's a whole other story.) This was planned insanity, to be sure, and we knew the loss of our bathroom was going to be a hardship. Somewhat less planned was that everything would get underway on my birthday, that it would coincide with a visit from The Albino and Family, or that it would come on the heels of a pretty spectacular winter storm that wreaked havoc with everyone's schedules. Completely not planned and really unnecessarily sucktacular was both of us getting struck with the flu riiiight as everything got underway, because apparently we stole Karma's lunch money in a previous life. Which meant spending the weekend that we were planning to do a lot of preparation for everything to kick into high gear instead doing a lot of sleeping and feeling generally miserable, trekking up and down two flights of stairs to go to the bathroom, and taking about four times longer than usual to empty the bathroom in preparation for the renovation.

But Karma's personal vendetta and flu obstacle notwithstanding, we were ready and waiting for the contractors bright and early this morning. It worked out that I had the day off as a work holiday, which was fortunate for coordination purposes, if not exactly relaxing when all I wanted to do was pull the covers over my head. I had to stay out of everyone's way so I spent the day in the kitchen with the kitties while a bunch of guys ripped our roof off and another pair of guys ripped out the floor of our bathroom. And in my NyQuil induced haze, I sometimes couldn't tell the difference between all the hammering and the pounding inside my skull.

The area around our house looks like the aftermath of a tornado, the front porch is overflowing with power tools and orange power cords, the toilet is in the library, my desk is functioning as a temporary vanity/medicine cabinet, and our toothbrushes are now being stored in the kitchen. But the roofing crew managed to get three layers of old roofs off in the midst of a downpour without once springing a leak, the bathroom crew laid all the tile before they left for the day, and by the end of the week, we'll have more than half of that list up there crossed off.

So, onward.


we have doors!

We have eave closet doors! Which you can't see yet! Because we still need to paint them! But still! DOORS!

Six years, you guys. Six years we've had big gaping holes uncovered closet openings in our attic eave walls. To say that we are overjoyed to finally have doors for those damn closets would be an understatement so gigantic it has its own gravitational field.

Of course, given our track record, it'll probably take another six years to get them painted, but let us hope for all our sakes that it does not. Let us hope that the preliminary plan of attack we came up with for getting them painted in a reasonable and timely manner actually, you know, works.

We also, also got doors for the kitchen shelf space that is actually the back side of the dining room buffet. Those doors also need to be painted, and we need to get glass for the inserts, but the frames, at least, are done. And even unfinished, they look wonderful. I can totally see why some people prefer to renovate with a checkbook instead of a table saw.

We didn't get started on the painting this weekend, however. Sal had to work for a bit yesterday in preparation for the big James Beard Award event taking place at OCI today and he was also fighting off a nasty cold. And I...well, I just played around in the studio all weekend.

Which means I have no good excuse for my sad little bento today, nor for not having a dinner bento for tonight. I am not proud of this bento. This is a bento composed entirely of laziness, sloth, and procrastination, with a side sauce of not-giving-a-crap. But, I figure I should post the bad with the good, so here, let me inflict it upon you.

lunch, pink natural lunch:

  • orange ginger chicken
  • Thai sticky rice with green onion for garnish
  • orange ginger chicken sauce

All items are courtesy of last night's takeout leftovers from the neighborhood Thai place. Which is delicious. And is probably the main reason I have a lunch today. Clearly, it's time for a vacation.


insert clever title here

this has nothing to do with today's post, I was just fondly remembering our trip to the tulip festival awhile back with The Albino and Mr. T.It's a busy week ahead, including a Wednesday-Work-From-Home-Day in the office instead. I actually have a presentation that morning (hence the reason I have to go to the office) as part of an office-wide meeting. Tomorrow is an off-site executive work retreat, and I took next Friday and Monday off. In other words, some added disruption to my already cracktastic schedule. I'd say that the change in routine keeps things interesting, but I don't actually have a routine so it's quite interesting enough as it is. At least "boring" isn't a word that in any way applies to my job.

We spent the weekend generally avoiding responsibility and opting instead to do things we wanted to do. I spent most of my time in the studio, working on revisions and later, doing some collage work, while Sal bottled his latest batch of beer and started a second batch of sauerkraut. Oh, it's a fermenting frenzy over here at Hall House. I know he's a qualified chef and everything, but there are days when I suspect he's just randomly sticking stuff in a jar to see what happens.

Now that the studio is finished (I know, I still need to get those pictures up), we're ready to get the attic eave closet doors done. Finally! And in fact the only reason they're getting done is because we won't be doing them, but rather, hiring someone to do them. Otherwise, we'd both be drawing Social Security before they'd get done. We got a personal recommend for a local carpenter who specializes in cabinetry. We've given him some leeway on the design so I'm excited to see how they turn out.

lunch, Ms. Bento:

  • Sal's Whatever's In The Fridge Soup -- chicken, Swiss chard, potatoes, carrots, onion, golden chiogga beets, celery, garlic, mushroom broth, oregano, thyme
  • homemade ciabata and a Babybel cheese
  • pineapple with pomegranate seeds as gap fillers
  • cashews, dried cherries, and yogurt covered raisins

progress on this work in progress

one of the eave closet openings before the trim was up; there are FIVE of theseWe've gotten the quote on getting the doors done for the attic closets and it's...not too scary, actually. We'll have to hold off until after the first of the year since we have the Sooper Sekrit Project coming up in December, but it looks like we'll have doors on those damn eave closets by the end of January, just like a real house! If you had told me ten years ago that the prospect of having closet doors would fill me with the kind of excitement most women reserve for large expensive jewelry (or in my case, large gift cards to Powell's), I would have scoffed openly at such hilarity.

these built-in shelves in the kitchen are actually the back side of the built-in buffet in the dining roomThe estimate also includes cabinet doors for the open shelving in our kitchen. We think it originally had doors similar to the rest of the kitchen, and in fact we did find a cabinet door in the basement that seems to fit one of the openings, but they were removed at some point. It's a pretty nice use of an otherwise unusable space, and perfect for all of Sal's cookbooks, but because our kitchen doesn't have hood for the stove, it's hard to keep them clean. So we'd like to have doors with glass inset to protect the books, but still display. We'll paint the interior something rich and spicy -- the color of saffron or paprika, maybe. Should look pretty neat when it's all done. (Of course, it'll make the rest of the kitchen look even more in need of a makeover than it already does, but baby steps, baby steps....)

lunch, Laptop Lunch:

  • PB&J, using peanut butter and red currant jam on buttermilk bread
  • peas and carrots
  • half a Fuji apple with a carrot shape garnish and a few raisins at the corner as gap fillers
  • red grapes and a bit of ranch dip in the condiment container for the carrots

A kind of American-style lunch box theme today with the PB&J. (No chips or juice box, though!) I'm famished today so it was nicely filling lunch. But I must say that with the cooler weather, I'm craving soups and casseroles. And chili, lots and lots of chili.

Hmmm...we do have a ridiculous amount of peppers from the CSA to eat up, and some onions...oh, and nice bag of mixed greens from our latest share that would make a delicious salad with some cut up rainbow carrots that were also in our share...yes, I do believe a big batch of chili is in my future....


know when to fold 'em

We had a guy come yesterday to take measurements for doors to the attic eave closets so he can give us an estimate. There comes a time during renovation when you just have to call in the professionals, whether it's because you don't have the time for a particular project or you don't have the expertise. In this case, it's a combination of both. It's been five years since we finished the attic and we simply aren't going to get those damn doors done ourselves.

Of course, the danger with calling in the professionals is if they do a good job, it's tempting to just hand over your entire To Do list and a blank check....

breakfast, cute animals sidecar:

  • oatmeal
  • raisins
  • pears cooked with brown sugar and cinnamon in the mini sidecar (to be mixed in with the oatmeal and raisins)

lunch, black strawberry:

  • sushi using carrot and cucumber strips
  • shrimp sauteed with a bit of butter, sea salt, and fresh garlic on a bed of wilted kale salad (After the shrimp was done, I deglazed the pan with a little clam juice and then tossed some fresh kale in there to soak up the flavors for a nice little wilted salad.)
  • grapes and green string beans with a fan of leftover carrot strips for a little garnish
  • half a molded (and purple dyed) egg -- it came out lopsided when I molded it, and it was a tad too small so it didn't mold very well...c'est la vie