More of the same

This is the upper set of steps before being redone. As you can see, you can barely see that there are steps. You can see the edges of two of them at the top middle of the picture.

This week there’s not much to tell. We had a few days of rainy weather, but it really didn’t rain very much, and now it’s beautiful out again. We know that probably won’t last long, but right now it’s lovely, cold in the mornings and warm in the afternoon, sunny skies. The trees have begun to turn, mostly yellow, but there’s not enough movement yet in that direction to show another picture. Looks like our friend’s visit will be timed just right for fall color. My sister tells me that here the colors aren’t as pronounced as back east, but they are better than Texas, where you just get a suggestion of color change. Next week it will be almost exactly a year ago that we arrived here, and the colors in the Gorge were pretty gorgeous.

Here is where the steps go from the lower drive down to the bottom of the orchard and the pond. This is the longest set of steps. They wind toward the right of the picture and about halfway, they turn toward the left.

Our contractors came back for a day last week to begin working on our final project. We have two sets of steps that are very dangerous, one up to the ridge above our house and one down from the lower drive to the bottom of the orchard and the pond. We decided to have the guys put in steps like the ones they installed from the upper to lower drive, only half the width, because these stairs are more foresty. They put most of the steps in last Thursday but got called to another job on Friday, and then it began raining. They might put one more step in when they come back, and they have to install the railings. Anyway, I took some before pictures and have one of the mid-stage.

Here are the partially finished lower steps without the railing. Now the wind and length are much more obvious.

I skillfully avoided doing some of the more unpleasant housework (like bathrooms) the last two weeks so that it will be done right before our guest’s visit. Perfect timing.

In art class I am drawing a ruined castle beside a lake. The lake shore is about halfway down on the picture, so that the castle also appears upside down in its reflection. I didn’t have much of a problem drawing the castle, but the reflection is driving me nuts. I feel deeply unsatisfied with it.

We had our second Game of Thrones night last Friday and my husband signed on for a third, so maybe we have him hooked! Socially, nothing else is going on except that my niece is already signing people up for their spooky birthday party for my three-year-old great nephew, whose birthday is right before Halloween. I’ll be wearing a costume for the first time in 20 years. We ran into my great nephew’s other grandmother at the grocery store yesterday, and she told me that she was happy to have finally found her Spongebob Squarepants costume, so she can wear that for the party. It’ll be something to see this slim, tidy woman in a Spongebob Squarepants costume. I think I’ve been drafted to carve about a bazillion pumpkins.

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One step forward, two back

Here is our driveway, all done.

The good news for this week is that our asphalt is finished, and it looks really nice! Everyone who has come up the driveway has commented about it. Our next door neighbors even asked the pavers to come over and give them an estimate while they were here. So, here is a picture of that. One more project finished!

The floor with the old vinyl looks dirty even though it isn’t.

Now on to other news. The flooring guys, as you may remember, wanted to install the marmoleum on the same day that the pavers were here, so we had to put them off. The guy arrived to do the flooring yesterday. The original plan was to lay the marmoleum on top of the existing vinyl, but when the flooring guy started working in the laundry room, he realized that the vinyl wasn’t securely fastened to the floor. You could just lift it up, basically. Even though it had been glued, it hadn’t been glued very well. He also said that he was not allowed to lay the marmoleum on top of the flooring that was underneath it. So, it turned out he was only able to do two of the four areas yesterday. Those were the small toilet area in the master bathroom and the closet. The laundry room and half bath are rescheduled for Monday, when he will come back out and lay a different floor.

The marmoleum is down in this room, although nothing else is done.

I had hoped to be able to show before and after pictures, and I still can, but unfortunately the rooms I took pictures of are not the rooms that are “finished.” By “finished,” I mean that we are still waiting for the toilet to be reinstalled and the baseboards put back. As you can see from the picture above, the old vinyl looks all worn and dirty even after it has been washed. The after picture here is of a different room, and the marmoleum hasn’t even been washed yet (you can’t wash it for three days after it is laid), but you can see how much better it looks.

We will get one toilet back today (thank goodness—I am tired of going downstairs just to go to the bathroom), but the flooring isn’t going to be finished until Monday, and the marmoleum can’t have any heavy weights on it until after it is washed, so our washer and dryer will continue to sit in the guest room for about another week.

Now, the carpet. Just to recap, we laid carpet in our basement in December and then we replaced the scary spiral staircase with a regular one in February. We went back and ordered the same carpet for the stairs and the landing in late February or early March. We have been waiting for it since then.

Our ship date for the carpet was early May, and then it got changed to mid-May. In mid-May, I understood my husband to tell me that Lowe’s had called and told us the carpet was shipped. But by last week we still hadn’t heard back from them. I finally called them on Friday. Of course, they had no record of that last call, and my husband could have misunderstood what they said. Perhaps they called to report the new ship date not to report the carpet had been shipped. So, Lowe’s called the mill (Lowe’s had apparently completely forgotten about our order). They called back to say that the mill is having trouble producing the carpet and is going to discontinue it. They say they’ll honor the back orders, and we have a new ship date of June 30. But the flooring person from Lowe’s warned me that they had this happen once before, and the mill cancelled the order.

I have a friend telling me the carpet probably won’t match anyway, but there isn’t so much as a threshold separating the old carpet from where the new carpet will be, so installing the same stuff seemed like my best bet. I am not sure what I’ll do if they call back and say we can’t get the carpet at all. I could try for the same texture and pull out one of the colors in the carpet (which is a speckled mixture of beige and blue and some other colors), or I could install something completely different. Or I could put something else at the landing, maybe wood, and a different carpet coming down the stairs, so that the two carpets don’t meet. I hope they will at least give me a definite answer by the end of the month, either ship the carpet or cancel but don’t put me off again.

Here’s hoping that by next week I can report one more project finished.

A work in progress

The excitement around here this week is all centered around the driveway. Our pavers did show up on Monday. Up until Saturday, we just had a provisional start date from them. They had originally told us that they didn’t schedule very far out because of the weather. But they were here bright and early on Monday.

You can see how pretty and rural the driveway looks here at the top. On the two tracks running down the hill, though, the bricks are easy to slip off of or miss and they pop out of position.

This was a project that I was against when we first moved here. Our driveway is made of diamond-shaped bricks in two tracks, one for each wheel. I loved the rural look of it with the grass growing through the diamonds. However, during the winter, with all the rain and the trucks coming up and missing the tracks, it turned into a mud pit, and it still has ruts in it and bricks that are out of place. I had to admit that paving the driveway seemed to be a very practical idea. I meant to take a picture of it before the guys started, but I forgot, so my first picture is of the top of the driveway, when they hadn’t yet dug out the bricks. It doesn’t show the mess that the driveway had become, just the nice part of it, because they had already dug up the bricks in the messy part.

It turns out the driveway bricks were held in position by rebar, sticking up straight out of the ground, which the pavers had to pull out of the driveway, piece by piece. They even put rebar in the side parking area (which was where we found it first), which didn’t have the bricks but instead large chunks of brown gravel. Because the people who put in the parking area had first covered the grass with plastic, the parking area didn’t drain properly and got all churned up over the winter. We are paving that, too, as well as the lower drive. When we moved here, the movers had mixed success with getting down that drive. Now there shouldn’t be a problem.

Here is the driveway with gravel on it. The arc of grass to the right is in front of our house. The area to the left is the bottom of our ridge.

The guys are planning to finish today, but I took a picture of the driveway in mid-progress, with lovely gravel. I actually might have preferred a gravel driveway, but I know that my niece and her husband asphalted their driveway a year or so ago because every winter their gravel got washed down into the road. We probably would have had the same problem.

Of course, just as I feared, the flooring guy was planning to lay the marmoleum tomorrow. That would mean that our contractors would have to be able to get in today to yank the sinks and toilets in the bathrooms. But of course, they can’t, and the asphalt is not supposed to be driven on for a day, so we had to reschedule. So far, I don’t know when that will be. Nor have I heard at all from the carpeting people. Once these guys get out of here and we have a date for the marmoleum, I guess I need to call the carpet guys. We have been waiting for the carpet to come in since February, and it was supposed to have arrived at the end of May.

I am also still trying to find someone to whack down our back slope. Once we get it whacked down the first time, we should be able to maintain it with the push mower, or if we can find someone, we can just get them to whack it down several times over the summer. No luck so far, and pretty soon the grass is going to be over my head. I see some spears of foxglove growing in it, too. Very pretty.

Our contractor came out late last week and removed his junk from our basement and outside the house. I would be working at putting away my books if I wasn’t waiting for my husband to fasten the bookcases to the wall first. He has promised to do it this week. I feel like everything I could do is on hold. This one job would allow us to move forward in a big way, but as I’ve mentioned before, I have never figured out a way to motivate him to get something done. Right now, he has several projects in progress. The wolf pen is partway down. The parts for fastening the bookcases to the wall are there, but no work is done. The seat of our new outdoor dining chair that he broke by slamming his butt down into it is on the table with the glue sitting next to it. The table and the counter that he said he’d clear off are halfway empty but are starting to accumulate junk (all his) again. He bought a blind to cover our bedroom sliding glass door but never even started putting it up (good, because I don’t want it over the windows—it is too big). The shed thing that is in the space where my garden needs to go is still sitting there waiting to be taken down, and after that my above-ground garden boxes need to be made. (My niece’s husband said he would do that, though, so it will get done.) He cut the orchard grass once, and after the guys get their trucks out of the orchard, I suspect I’ll be the one cutting it from now on. That’s how life is around here.

I am missing my bird book, because the birds around here are different from the ones we saw in Texas. At first, our bird feeder seemed to be attracting only chickadees (and our hummingbird feeder hummingbirds, of course), but lately, I have managed to identify a couple of birds I’ve never seen before, using the app whatbird. One of them is the Smith’s longspur, which is quite a pretty bird and loves the suet feeder. The other one looks like a black-capped or California or black-tailed gnatcatcher, but the range for all three of these birds is the southwestern United States. I am only a novice bird identifier, but I couldn’t find another bird that looked like these, with a black head, a gray body and light gray tummy. They are small birds, slightly bigger than the chickadees.

Wildlife, silver, another lazy week

Today it is cold, but on Monday it was almost 90 degrees. We had the air conditioning on for a few hours for the first time. We have really had some temperature variations lately, but by and large the weather is gorgeous!

This little rabbit has figured out that I’m peeking at him from behind the wood stove (choo choo train steamer in view).

We have been seeing lots of birds lately, but we haven’t seen any deer on our property since the first report. We saw one deer at my niece’s house the morning after our first road meeting when we drove all the way down the road to look it it. My niece has remarked that we saw a lot more of the deer before three of our neighbors decided to log their property. There is a lot less cover for them in the neighborhood now. However, a bunny decided to come visit us the other day.

The work with our contractors is virtually on hold. Our general contractor wants to finish up his work at the same time as he prepares the floors for the linoleum installation, but it looks like that’s not happening. Two weeks ago the linoleum guy told me a week-and-a-half to two weeks, but now we’re provisionally scheduled for June 8, so that’s another two weeks to wait. Our contractor says his guys will come out soon to finish the other things up. Our house painting isn’t scheduled before mid-June, and we have heard nothing from the asphalt people, despite leaving them a message asking them for a rough estimate.

The road work we’ve been discussing with our neighbors will involve tearing up moreĀ of our driveway than we anticipated for our asphalting project, as we originally planned to leave the concrete apron. But the idiots who built our house didn’t put a pipe under the apron for drainage, which has been causing a problem on the gravel road for years. So, the guy doing the road work is going to tear off the apron and lay down a pipe and big gravel that the asphalt people can lay asphalt on top of.

Silver before: I let this stuff get really bad, I guess.

So, we have just been puttering around the house. I have been whacking away at the grass on the slope behind the house, but the slope is too steep for me to make it all the way up. I’m now looking for a spry youngster to do it for me.

The other project I took care of lately was to polish some old silver that I got from my mother. It was her mother’s. I have plates and bowls and servers and an entire tea service—I doubt if I will ever use it (well, I use one plain silver pitcher frequently for flowers), but I like having it as it is so pretty. I let it get in pretty horrible condition, though, and it probably wasn’t that great when I got it. Here are a before and after picture. The after picture isn’t perfect, but I like a little tarnish on silver. The secret is to not let it get into the condition that I let it get into.

Silver after: it still needs some work.

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 ceilingĀ 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.