More snow and more work

Monday morning, 7 AM

You’re probably getting tired of hearing about snow, but I love it. After a soggy week of rain and a dusting of snow on Sunday, we awoke to this sight on Monday morning. Look at how the snow sticks to the branches. Of course, it was mostly melted by Monday afternoon, although we still have some patches here and there.

This amber wall in the dining area used to be violet.

We had a rough time with the painters last week. We spent several days shut in our bedroom while they isolated us with plastic and sprayed the rest of the house. It got really stinky when they did the office desk and shelves and the railing for the staircase.

You wouldn’t think it would be exhausting to sit on your bed and do nothing all day, but it is. I went out to run a few errands, and one day I went over to my niece’s house and had a nice, long conversation with her husband, who was babysitting instead of working so that she could have a day off. But mostly we were stuck in our room.

The kitchen walls are now all yellow instead of red.

The result, though, is a beautiful house. The weird wall colors I showed you in the last post are gone, as are all the blotches, discolorations, and marks. And the house has some lovely color. The violet wall in the dining area is now amber and the green wall next to it is the white I chose for the living room. Now, the walls in the kitchen that used to be red are yellow, along with the rest of the kitchen walls. Banana cream is the color. The bedrooms and bathrooms are different shades of green-blue, and the entryway is dark teal. The kids’ bedroom is bright turquoise, the choice of my great-niece.

Here are the guys working on the staircase.

That was a big accomplish-
ment for the week, but the other accomplish-ment was the work of our regular contractors. They put up the railings and banister for our new stairwell. I showed you the big hole two postings ago.

Our new stairwell, almost finished

My contractor has a habit of just doing things rather than presenting me with choices. This could be a bad thing but has so far worked out pretty well. The only things I’ve had to choose are colors. For the stairwell, he asked me what I wanted and I said I kind of liked the railings that were there on the scary spiral staircase. That staircase had oak rails with white spindles. So, that was all the conversation around that, and this is what we got, much more grand that I would have picked out myself, but really nice looking and substantial. Now all that remains is to finish the floor when the flooring comes in. The electrician is coming today to install the lights in the stairwell, among other things.

I am facing a huge job this week of cleaning all the rooms, since they are full of dust from the painters and woodworking. I didn’t get a start on it yesterday, as intended, because my sister talked me into helping her take the kids to the movies. The three-year-old had never been, so we bracketed the kids with the idea that I could stay watching the movie with the eight-year-old if the three-year-old got too restless and had to be removed. But he was pretty good. He got restless right at the end and came and sat in my lap. Both kids are my sister’s grandchildren.

It hasn’t been all work around here, though. On Saturday a local pub brought Dungeness crab in from the coast and had a Crab Feast. My husband and I went with my niece’s family and my sister. A great time was had by all. I just love crab. I had never had it fresh before.


Gigantic snowflakes and unexpected house painters

Yes, that’s a three-inch snowflake near the rail on the left.

There’s no way to show snow very well in a photo, so I tried to take a video for you of the snow that came down on Sunday afternoon. However, apparently my blog theme doesn’t support video. You can see the flakes in this photo, but you may not believe me when I tell you that at one point there were hundreds of snowflakes that were at least three inches in diameter. They looked like upside-down cocktail umbrellas falling from the sky. In the picture, you can see that one of them is bigger than the railing, but you can’t tell that most of them are that big. It was amazing.

On Monday, we had quite a surprise. The house painters showed up at 8 AM without warning. We knew they were going to start within a few weeks, but I had assumed that some other work would have to be done first. I also assumed that we would have warning. When I got to our contractor, he said he had told my husband last week. My husband has memory issues, so he never told me and then forgot. In fact, he has no recollection of being told, but I have no doubt he was.

Two walls of the kitchen are an unpleasant pinky red.
Two walls of the kitchen are an unpleasant pinky red.

The result was that we had to leap up and begin hauling things out of the rooms they wanted to start with instead of having time to put things in sensible places. Since they arrived at 8 AM, I still hadn’t washed my face or brushed my teeth, and since half of the toothbrush was promptly lost and the bathroom out of bounds, I still haven’t done that. This morning I was looking forward to taking a shower in the guest bathroom downstairs, but my shampoo is in the laundry room, where the cat is locked up for the day.

This violet wall is in the dining area--directly across from the red wall. Yes, it is.
This violet wall is in the dining area–directly across from the red wall. Yes, it is. Note also the charming use of green in the living room area.

In any case, despite the havoc, I am glad to be getting this done because I have been dreading the disruption. The house needs painting on the interior because of several reasons. The most prominent is the interesting color combinations throughout the house.

My niece and I discovered the secret to the myriad of colors in the house. We found a paint store color pallete, the kind that shows contrasting colors you can put together. The idea is that you pick a couple of these colors, one for your base color and one for accents. Unfortunately, the former owner of the house picked all of them. Luckily, she left most of the walls white. I’ll be sure to take some pictures of the finished rooms.

The other problem is that four years ago, after we bought the house and were preparing it for renters, my niece and I tried to match the white paint in the house so that we could paint out scuff marks. Although we found the color swatches for the house, the paint had faded or something. Our first attempt was a color much darker than the original white, something that you can’t tell until the paint dries. We tried again and got a closer match, but if you look carefully at the walls, you can see blotches.

So, right now our house is in even more havoc than usual, but the guys are making good progress. They finished the bathrooms yesterday, although we won’t be able to use our main bathroom until later today. They did the ceilings in the back part of the house, and made good progress on the guest bedroom. (The color my eight-year-old niece picked is a shocking turquoise. Years from now, someone is going to be making fun of me for my color choice.) Today they are working on our bedroom and will finish up the back rooms of the house except the laundry room. Tomorrow, I would imagine they’ll start on my office and the living room, kitchen, and dining area. But next week when I get back to you, they’ll be done! Exterior house painting is to come, but they can’t start that until the weather clears up and we have several dry days in a row.

On hold and in the fog

Our new deck in the fog
Our new deck in the fog

Today it’s foggy, actually worse than it looks in this picture. And later today it’s supposed to snow. That seems hard to believe as it is well into the 40’s right now.

We’re on hold for a while in regard to the renovations. Monday the guys came by and finished the deck and made a wooden walkway that goes above the concrete sidewalk from our back door downstairs to the sauna (so people don’t get their feet dirty coming out of the sauna).

Drywall done but waiting for wood
Drywall done but waiting for wood

Dustin came in with a sample of hardwood, trying to match the wood in our living room to patch around the new stairway, but it was way off, much too dark and grainy. I looked up some hardwoods online and suggested he look at red oak, and when he came back later that afternoon, the red oak looked like it was going to match perfectly. He said he had taken a piece of wood with him to match, but it must have been one of the darker ones and the red oak had looked too light. This time he brought back a large sample showing several boards to compare it with the floor, and it had the same graininess and shading and color. I doubt if we’ll be able to tell the floor has been patched. The bad news is that it won’t come in for three weeks. I don’t know if the guys will be back before then or not. There are some small jobs they can work on, but maybe they prefer to come back when they can get as many things done as possible.

Tuesday, the guy came from the propane company. My husband ordered a propane-fueled generator, because he got tired of the power outages. Of course, we haven’t had one since he did that. Maybe this will prove to be our costly power outage prevention technique. Anyway, we have to get the propane tank installed. Then the guys will install the generator, and the electrician will come back and hook up the generator and the sauna. Then we can invite our relatives over and I can have my first-ever sauna! I don’t know if I’m looking forward to that or not, since I hate being hot. We are sure to see my niece and her husband over here, as they had been driving into Vancouver just to use a sauna. This was another of my husband’s projects, as he says the sauna really helps his back.

A clean counter at last! (Don't look at the ones in the background. I haven't done the dishes yet this morning.)
A clean counter at last! (Don’t look at the ones in the background. I haven’t done the dishes yet this morning.)

And good news. My husband finally cleared off a kitchen counter that has been loaded with his junk ever since we moved in. I cleared it off several times at the beginning, but it just got messed up again, so I finally gave up. This allowed me to polish and display my grandmother’s tea service. We’ll have to put away the silver for the house painting, but the kitchen looks so much neater now (even with dirty dishes in the background).

Moving forward

Our stove burning merrily this morning
Our stove burning merrily this morning

It’s a drizzly morning and the first weekday in several weeks that we haven’t had workmen here. It feels like a holiday! No getting up at 7 AM to make sure I’m dressed before the guys get here. The drywaller was especially early, arriving every day before 7:30. He finished up on Monday.

Last week I mentioned that our stove was done, but I didn’t put up a picture. Here it is. It works really well and makes our house toasty and comforting. Yes, that’s the choo choo train steamer on top.

Here’s what the deck looked like on Friday

The guys spent most of last week tearing down our deck. We have a huge deck that runs the length of the house and is at least 10 feet deep and deeper behind the garage. But when we bought the house, the deck felt a little crispy. It hadn’t had any treatment in years. My niece and sister tried to restore it by painting it while we were back in Texas, but they unfortunately used the wrong kind of paint, not oil-based as they should have. So, all it did was peel.

Our beautiful new deck, almost finished
Our beautiful new deck, almost finished

Toward the end of the week, the guys added supports so that we have twice as many as shown in the picture above, so the new deck will be nice and sturdy.

This week, the guys started rebuilding the deck with TimberTech, some of that stuff that’s half plastic and half wood. We won’t have to do any maintenance on it from now on. Anyway, it is almost done, and it looks great. We have aluminum posts now, and they just have to get a couple of missing pieces and add the gate.

Today the guys are on another job. When they come back, they will finish up the deck and then start working on the staircase again. They have to install a railing and replace the flooring up top. Then I’ll have to go back to the carpet guys.

In a couple of weeks, the house painter arrives. That is going to be extremely disruptive. We are painting the whole upstairs and downstairs where the new drywall for the stairwell is installed. I spent a lot of time picking out my paints last week. Right now most of the interior of the house is white, but where there is color, the choices are peculiar, pinky red and violet in the kitchen and a light green in the entry hall and the wall just across from the violet. Then there are the blotches on the wall, caused by my efforts to touch up the paint before we rented the house out and the inability of the paint store to precisely match the color. They are all through the house on the white paint.

My kitchen will be butter yellow and amber, my bathrooms a pale greenish blue, and my bedroom a deeper greenish blue. My eight-year-old great niece has picked out a deep aquamarine for “her” bedroom, and my entry hall will be dark teal. The rest of the interior will be white.

We are also painting the exterior, but that will have to wait for a while until it stops raining. I’m not telling the colors for the exterior yet. They will be a surprise.


More snow and work around the house

Fat flakes of snow on Sunday
Fat flakes of snow on Sunday

We haven’t had any snow on the property for the last two weeks, so what was our surprise when we started to get big fat flakes of snow on Sunday morning. This is what the trees on our property looked like by late in the morning. If you look at the railing on the deck, you can see it is still snowing. I think my husband is already sick of the snow, but I love it. Of course, today it is raining. We still have snow, but it should be gone in a couple of days.

We have been dealing with contractors for months now. The first job we had done was to get new carpet into the basement in November. They took all the doors down in the basement, so we had to add a project to our regular contractor’s list to get the doors cut down and rehung. Then we had peace until January.

My semi-finished office
My semi-finished office

First our contractor, Dustin, came back and rehung the doors in time for our friend’s visit. Then later his guys laid a hearth for our new wood stove and ripped out some cheap and poorly installed shelving in my office and replaced it. It is unpainted yet, but much more sturdy.

Our stairwell so far
Our stairwell so far

The next project was to replace our scary spiral staircase. This staircase has such a tight wind and is so narrow that you can’t bring very much up or down the stairs with you, so we have been having to cart things clear around the house and down the lower driveway. It is also very slippery and not safe for a couple of geezers like me and my husband. It was pretty and left us a nice big living room, but we decided to replace it with a normal staircase. The stairs are installed, and today the sheet rock guys are here to fill in the sheet rock. They got here before 7:30! We are used to our regular contractor, who usually arrives between 8 and 8:30.

His ladder was too short
His ladder was too short

And, last Wednesday we finally got our wood stove installed! We have been burning stuff ever since. It is a lovely stove. It took the guys all day to install it, and one of them had to climb up into the attic from our bedroom, which is on one end of the house, and crawl all the way up inside our chalet roof ceiling to make the hole for the chimney.

So, that’s what has been going on lately. On Thursday the guy comes to install our new gutters, which have been leaking profusely. He is a nice guy, especially considering that our dog bit him when he came out to do the bid.

Sight-seeing North Clark County

I know I haven’t posted to this site lately, but right after New Years I got the flu, despite having a flu shot. Also, some other tests came back rather bad, and my new doctor (yay! I finally got a doctor!) has taken me off a lot of my medication, so I’ve really had to watch my diet until he prescribes new medication. Hopefully, that will happen Friday.

A cool bridge out in the middle of nowhere
A cool bridge out in the middle of nowhere

I was down sick for more than a week, and I was just starting to feel semi-normal when my friend was due to arrive for a visit from Denver. We still had snow when he arrived, but the roads were clear. However, rain was expected the day he arrived, and all the reports from Portland sounded bad. My husband wanted to ask my friend to take a taxi or bus, but I insisted on driving to the airport, and as it turned out, the traffic and the weather were fine.

The gristmill
The gristmill

We spent the next week entertaining our guest. Our contractors had come in to shave down and rehang the doors in the guest suite, so that was more or less ready for our friend. We spent a few days in because of the weather (rain on snow, but afterwards the snow melted away) and one day because the contractors were working on the new hearth and my office, but otherwise, we bopped in to Portland a couple of times and spent a day going up to Multnomah Falls. That was a kind of hairy drive, as the old highway between Vista House and the falls was down to 1 1/2 lanes where snowbanks had been shaved off, and lots of cut trees testified to the number that came down in the storm.

The creek by mill
The creek by mill

One of our most fun times, despite rain all day, was the day we decided to take the North Clark County scenic drive. We did not have the map, but just started following the signs from Battle Ground. We stopped at several falls and saw lots of beautiful scenery before losing the trail in La Centre.

One of the nicest sights was an old grist mill and covered bridge, right next to each other. We drove down a hill and around a corner, and there they were.

P.S. I forgot to mention, when I originally posted this, that one day when my friend and I were driving away from the house, we saw a bald eagle! It was sitting on a branch right next to the road, about 12 feet up. I turned around and went back to look at it, but it flew away.

New Year in Washington

Snow on New Year’s Day

We have had an eventful holiday season, our first with family for several years. We spent Christmas Eve with my sister and my niece and her family. I made an English trifle dessert, my sister cooked ham, and my niece made veggies and salad. We had dinner, then later we all decorated Christmas cookies, even the three-year-old. We finished up with the kids opening a few presents. It was a lovely evening.

My husband and I spent Christmas day by ourselves as we usually do, just opening our presents and having a quiet dinner. So, that was nice, too.

Then we more or less went back to normal for the rest of the week, having no plans for New Year’s Eve. Well, we didn’t think we had plans, but then my youngest brother let my sister know that he and his family would be driving down from Seattle on New Year’s Eve. That morning, my husband and I had some errands in town, so we picked up a few things for the ravening hoards to eat, as we didn’t know the plans. There turned out not really to be any. We took all our food over to my niece’s house later in the day, and my brother and his family arrived in the late afternoon.

It began snowing shortly before they arrived, snowed all evening, and most of the next day. By morning, when I took the picture above, we had about four inches of snow. All in all, I think we got about six or seven. It was lovely stuff, soft and sticky. Later in the day, it got sunny for a while, so the snow was sparkling on the branches.

My brother and his wife ditched their kids the first night, so they were the first to inaugurate our new guest suite, which isn’t totally put together yet (the doors are off all the rooms) but is good enough since they were downstairs and we were upstairs. Coming back from my niece’s house around midnight, we weren’t sure we were going to make it up our steep driveway, and we had to make several attempts, so my brother started putting his chains on his tires around 1 AM after seeing the house and visiting for a while. We all (except my husband) stayed up until 3 AM, something I am no longer used to. My husband and I were up earlyish the next day, but they were not. A good time was had by all, at least until the next morning.

We woke to lots of beautiful snow. The kids stayed out almost all afternoon building snow men and snow igloos, having snowball fights, and sledding. The adults went in and out. I hit my nephew with a few snowballs, but unfortunately my choice was between warm but slippery Uggs or my waterproof, nonslip, but not that warm muck boots. I chose the muck boots and had to go inside after a while, so I sat by the fire with my sister.

The second night, my brother’s entire family came to stay. They can be quite the active group, so I was a little worried, but actually they were great. The kids got their Christmas presents from us, and then we all watched an old movie on TV and had popcorn. Later, my sister-in-law and her oldest daughter and I stayed up talking until about midnight, but everyone else went to bed when the movie was over.

It was such a nice holiday. My husband and I, as I keep saying, haven’t living among family for years, my husband since he moved down to Texas to be with me, and me since the 1980’s. So far, our nearness to our family has been perfect. We get support and company without anyone feeling like we’re imposing on them.

Happy New Year to you all.