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Veg GARDEN progress – We think

Bloged in garden,kitchen remodel by mark Sunday June 4, 2006

I’ll have to get a picture or two………. But our warm damp muggy rainy two weeks have created a problem for our water-walled Tomatoes and Peppers. We have early blight on 3 of 11 tomatoes caused by warm damp air sitting in those insulated jackets…. SO. OFF they came today as did all the blight stems. Tomorrow means a quick buy of “serenade” blight spray or Koppr Spray……and we’ll be back on the mend. Bugs are eating the pepper leaves, but they are now getting sulphur, or insecticidal soap so will be on the mend soon.

The GOOD news is that the tomatoes were all up over the jacket height of two feet and one plant already has marble sized tomatoes. We think we’ll be in great shape.

After this one more storm passes through tomorrow (an inch of rain forecast), we’ll be planting our corn starts from the cold frame! They’re already 3 inches high, and will be off to a great start.

I’m really kind of excited …………. last year ALL work went on inside the house in ONE room that had no sink, stove, or anything else. That’s done, and THIS year is being devoted to yard corrections, improvements, Gardens for fun. In fact, we’ll be tilling up the Cutting Garden space Monday and FINALLY planting some things we hope will bloom before season end.

Hurray. . . . . .!

hamlet entry nov 3 under wet gray skies

Bloged in garden,General Home Life,kitchen remodel by mark Thursday November 3, 2005

Hamlet Entry Thursday October 3, 2005 Grey, Wet Skies

Mark enjoyed a cessation of kitchen and yard work by reading a couple of easy books. They were some novels and some short stories by Augusten Burroughs, “Running with Scissors” and “Dry” as well as “Magical Thinking”….. Rodger had already digested the material and recommended the read. Burroughs (a pen name) writes his work from a biographical origin but takes plenty of imagination along with him. With a plain direct style, he took me for a really enjoyable ride about a life in foster homes, hard drinking, getting sober, and the life in the Wall Street World of Advertising. SO, there hasn’t been much news other than that except the following fall observations:

The Kitchen STILL has finish work to get done but may just be getting close. Friend and neighbor, Richard took a few hours out of his day last week to come over and help Mark put in the new entry door, level it, etc. It turned out to be a project since the door hadn’t even been sent up with a threshold or weatherstripping. Richard knew exactly what to do, and I was sure glad he was here. We had fun for that while and ended up with lunch at the little MX Bakery in ST Johns.

Tomorrow, Hayes Cabinets should be here to finish up cabinet adjustments and fixing some faulty hardware PLUS, we’re hoping Robert will help us hang the last remaining old cabinet in the garage as well as use his air-pressure nailer to get some wall trim put down.

Saturday, the Appliance Hospital should be here with the brand new Oven to replace this one that has the enamel coming off inside the baking unit. Mark’s called Carrie to help get the last LIGHT in place… when we hear from her, we just may nearly have everything checked off our list. Then we’ll have NO excuses not to extend a foody invitation to friends.

The SUNFLOWERS. These giant behemoths were planted on a whim since we had that unused space in the garden this year. As they truly became giant though, we took an active interest in preserving them. We researched what we could and all web entries talked about letting them stay till they’re DRY, brown, and then either let the birds have them or bring them inside to roast, etc. Well, with damp fall air here, of course, Mark couldn’t let well enough alone. Soon, all 9 plants were hanging in the garage or sitting on papers in the living room expecting the drier house air would help them dry:

The plants in the garage ALL were taken over by MOLD before they even got close to drying up, while the ones in the house also began to look suspiciously like they were going to rot as well, so again, an intervention and soon seeds were all over the counter:

Once free, they were brined, and baked in the oven until dry. Then, when the squirrels were given these we observed that only “some” of the seeds were actually pollinated. It seemed we did NOT have nature on our side up here in the damp to do this plant right. Just when saying never again, we checked the one plant left in the garden.

By leaving nature alone outside, THIS one plant stayed fresh through rain or shine and seeds ripened, and the whole plant had been picked clean by the birds. SO.. .. .. how many times must we learn, “Don’t mess with Mother Nature”. So, we will grow them again having learned this.

The Parrot continues to be shy and reticent in contact except when she is in complete control. She will walk off the cage on her own onto Mark’s shoulder but does NOT like being picked up and won’t allow Rodger any liberties except “kisses”…….oddly, she’ll let you put your face up to her but not the fingers…….. After one month, her high pitched hello is beginning to lower showing she IS listening. She’s watching everything we do….so we’ll give her a year or two to see how she adjusts. She IS pretty:

And likes being part of whatever’s going on, even if that means sitting on the kitchen island:

Mac got a maintenance check this past week and although never fond of it, accepts it with resignation:

Our October ended up with 2.5 inches of rain and we’re supposed to have another 2-3 inches by the weekend. In a rain break yesterday, Mark drove Mac to a Dog Park where he found two labs to absolutely run and play with. They all found two Mammoth puddles about 8 inches deep where they all sat and played, then ran again for a while. That was great until our arrival home where a truly muddy Mac was carried with some effort (at 90 pounds) to the bathroom for a complete shower before touching anything else in the house. He didn’t like that so much but always loves the hair dryer going in his direction.

As mentioned, deep fall is here now and the rains have begun with style. Our berm planting has gone well, everything’s still alive, including the Japanese maple that’s now turning red:

Near the maple is the standard Oregon spider trying to fatten up before getting her big sack of eggs laid:

you can’t walk around the yard right now without hitting some of these webs, an annual October event up here.

Sunday evening, we were invited to a “musicale” at the home of an OHSU Director, Kent & Billie Anger. Kent has several research scientists working for him in Rodger’s CROET Building and they’ve always been very good to us. Anyways, one of the scientists plays a bass guitar and his girlfriend sings….she’s traveling around hoping to sell some of her CD’s, so we attended and had a ball. Billie’s from Texas and can throw out a complete Tex-Mex Meal for 30 anytime. No exception that night, there was enough great food to last a week.

The folks were all fun to talk to, and then entertainment ended the evening.

Mark met Ryan and Lisa, a fun couple from the Heart of Mormonism, PROVO, UTAH……who have both left the Church as he has….we had lots of fun talking about the Holy Underwear, the hypocrisy a conservative religion causes, the “control” this church wreaks on members, and how all of us really truly found spiritual freedom only after leaving the fold. Ryan’s father has left the church as well, and HE was a former Mission President. It was fun really because this pair could understand all the “inside” talk that many often haven’t even heard of…like the race issue, the “We’re all going to become a God” concept, polygamy, pre-existence laws, etc.

Oh well, I digress. Winter’s here, and holidays are just around the corner. How did that happen? With this project still getting done, I have NO sense of normal year traditions coming up, and for that matter, no money left to enjoy them with. So I’ll learn the “true spirit of Christmas, eh?”

On a bright note, our winter visitors from the arctic are beginning to arrive …. Robin cousins, the Varied Thrush, will be a bright spot here in our “tropic weather (to them)” until first of March:


Kitchen (almost final) Update Aug 17 05:

Bloged in kitchen remodel by mark Tuesday August 16, 2005

August 17, 2005

Other than paying for this thing, I’m beginning to actually believe the remodeling project DOES come to a successful end. There is still much to do but we feel confident it’s going to work out.

I believe our last entry made much ado about TILE, selection, getting, and installing. Everything leading UP TO installing is child’s play. Remember our diary entry August 03 about the sweaty long job of laying Wonderboard and getting the floor mostly level PRIOR to even thinking about the tile. Also, using 18 x 18 inch tile doesn’t help make it easy. You lose a larger percent of larger tile by having to cut edges, etc. But that’s what we chose.

We finally settle into work after good friends and neighbors Dave & Deborah loaned us a “Wet-Saw” Dave has used to tile the entire exterior of his new home with ONE single diamond blade. Yes, getting a “chalk-line” down and “thinking” it square is a challenge in a 25 year old room that now has an island bolted down in the middle of it. But we made serious progress the first day:

Each odd cut required using the wet saw, and with apologies here, Mark gets HIS pic in the post because Rodger took one EVEN THOUGH Rodger is the perfectionist who really got into the process and by the end of the install, could almost hand hold a tile at this machine and get what he wanted, for example, where the furnace register required a tile cut with one edge less than an inch wide about 8 inches long:

And, lest we forget, we have a small pile of tile remnants out in the driveway edge giving testimony to the work this cutting job takes. As we discovered, the Porcelain Tile we are using is one of the hardest tiles made. Anyway, here’s Mark at the machine:

Once set on the mortar, the tile had to cure for 48-72 hours. So we prepared for the next step, GROUTING. The cement for the mortar and grout is powdery nasty stuff extremely hard on your hands. Even with the best gloves, your hands begin to look mummified, but we got through it. When grouting you spend a LOT of time cleaning up the powder when it dries:

Once the Grout’s in and cleaned up, you rest again and prepare for the final step, “sealing” it all up. It finally begins to look pretty sharp after the 3rd sealing coat:

With the floor finally down, one can begin to move appliances back into place and when you can do that, you’re a happy happy human
A dishwasher, really? Yep, that’s an amazing invention I have never taken for granted:

And the kitchen begins to look healed and complete:

The floor, once finished, has added a completely new dimension to the look and feel of the room.

Monday, Robert returned from Hayes Cabinets and placed trim, adjusted cabinets, made repairs, etc etc ALL DAY and still will be back for more, but, the room even at This late stage, once again, looked more finished and quite beautiful.

Robert’s return also allowed us to get the stainless backsplash installed onto the hood. Or should I say allowed Rodger to install it. He did all the work on this item as well. Rodger gets BIG scores for a lot of finish work. His persistence has paid off in benefits that will pay us back for years.

Mark spent most of the entire day finally picking up scores of boxes, items in back rooms and trying to get them back in order. The garage is an intended final destination for tools, etc., but THAT end waits for another day. We still have to sort out items for donation, and get this mess out of the living room too:

So it ain’t all pretty. But smiles were all around yesterday evening and pride over a job well done.

We both have a few injuries that will take some time to heal. Mark may have permanently injured the middle joint/tendon in the middle finger while Rodger may have permanently injured his last two fingers on the typing hand with nerve damage. Whew!

Still, we’re happy things are this far and we can begin to learn how to cook and socialize maybe? I need a nap.

doing it yourself laying tile

Bloged in kitchen remodel by mark Wednesday August 3, 2005

August 2, 2005

Dear Diary:

ah………one of my favorite hydrangea flowers.

It seemed all so simple then…. and life was beautiful. We had a kitchen we thought 98 % done and no more “two steps back”…………hah. We had materials purchased and everything decided………..hey, don’t you just go buy it at 12:00, bring it home at 1:00, slap it down by 2:30, and like a Do-It-Yourself 30 minute TV Show on, you’re having 40 friends over with the same TV Crew to show off your new floors. I mean all you hear is, “Yeah, yeah, you do this and that, yeah, you gotta adjust for this, but it’s pretty straight-forward stuff and you won’t have no problem. Just slap down that 3×5 ft mortarboard then the tile will be easy.”

Life is not like TV no matter if it’s soap-opera or the Home and Garden Channels. In 30 minutes they actually show on film about 1% of the total work done and THAT 1% is edited for time. At the moment, once again, the fridge is in the living room, no dish-washer, “stuff” is everywhere…………..disposal unhooked, etc.

This life episode began with Mark driving once again down to Swan-Island (a pensinsula on the Willamette located AT the “Port of Portland” where all the ships are off-loaded or loaded. Several large transportation companies are there, and if the product you sell is heavy, it may be smart to pay rent two blocks from the ship rather than truck your stuff 30 miles away. So, that’s where the tile Broker is. Anyway, we calculated that two loads on the half ton Toyota pickup would be required so planned just what we would bring home in each load. The Tile itself would be about 1400 lbs while wonderboard and all other materials about 800. Luckily, this time, as planned the material was ready to go. I told the loader I needed to take tile 10 cases along with the wonderboard he’d loaded onto the pickup to balance the weight out. “Sure, he says, “Happens all the time.” The tile cases are banded together in cases of 3 packages each so they are very heavy (to Mark)………..“10?” I said yes. He picked them up like they were foam……….and gently put them into the pickup. I immediately thought, “hm………. Installing this floor will be a lot different for ME as opposed to that guy handles this stuff all the time.”

Get the stuff home, spend a while unloading, back for remainder of material and a second unload. Thursday night…….. we began laying out wonderboard and planned how each would be cut-to-fit. Rodger decided to take Friday off so we’d get a jump on this. Hurray, all going according to plan!

Friday. We began in earnest, and we’re SO confident how quick this would ALL go, we took a long breakfast, read the paper, drove to Home Depot to browse, etc. Got back and began to cut the wonderboard for the space. Nancy G dropped by to look at Mark’s hand (another joint pull…this time caused by Mac) and left another of her hand-made cement creations: two beautiful hands that are cupped to form either a feeder or bath for the little birds. NANCY – You’re wonderful, these are beautiful.

Well, on the board cutting: The Skil Saw did a great job, but was a little slow. It took us well until dark to finish simply cutting the damn stuff and putting it on the floor to make sure it fit.

We were humble by then, and Saturday morning Rodger spent the entire day spreading mortar and laying the wonderboard…the muscle job. Mark spent the entire day putting in about 700 (I’m not kidding) screws at the required 8 inches apart………..We were so confident, we even went to Dave and Deborah’s down the street to borrow the wetsaw telling them, “Oh Sure, We’ll have this thing done in just two-three days.” That was the end of THAT dream.

We were so sore Sunday morning we did NOTHING, NADA, ZIP other than traveled to Nancy G’s to celebrate Dee’s (Nancy’s Mom) birthday with friends MaryAnn, Carol and Sandy. Dee is one fabulous lady. We got to hear a wild tale about her folks building a store on the Yukon River where she spent the first few years of her life. Anyways, the dinner was fabulous. Nancy as usual outdid herself with three gourmet salads and flank steak along with shrimp to fill us up. Sandy is another pastry chef who made a blueberry pie with crust that flaked into crumbs when placed in your mouth. She says HER secret is freezing the Crisco (the non-trans-fat stuff) and using a little more Crisco and called for but a little less water………have to try it.

So now it’s already Wednesday and Rodger’s back to work with NO tile set. I think we’re about to begin moving again though.

Mark spent Monday catching up on a dozen odd jobs, watering plants, garden, lawn, washing more clothes, cooking some food since the kitchen will allow traffic once the tile is down (for 2-3 days), cooking more hummer food, putting up the deer fence…..etc etc etc.

Deer have arrived. On getting up Monday to water the garden early, discovered all the lettuce munched including the bolted old stuff (I’d hoped it would seed itself). So half the day was spent putting up the deer fence………….

Birds are leaving………Goldfinches are losing their mating colors, and it is so soon………………it’s hard to accept that the clock moves faster when you’re busy.

Well. Wish us luck. Maybe tonight we’ll start laying OUT the tile to get it squared and lined up for an install to begin tomorrow?

And lastly, thanks to Peter M sending us the pic, here’s Rodger working one of Baird’s FAMOUS fourth of July “Flying Steel Wool Fireworks”……….always thrilling:

Mark & Rodger.

Kitch Update Jul 27, 2005

Bloged in kitchen remodel by mark Tuesday July 26, 2005

Hamlet Update July 27, 2005 – Kitchen NOT done

My oh my, July will end without having a finished kitchen. But we DO love the kitchen island now:

It doesn’t look it, but it’s about 5 feet long.

We lost one week in our schedule just because we realized the color of floor tile we’d picked out was not a good match for the kitchen. That issue discovered at the dedicated persistence of Mr. Rodger and the frustration of Mr. Mark because Rodger wanted to buy one case of the tiles to make “sure” the color matched and Mark was the one who had to “procure” them. Procuring them turned out to be a real hassle.

Do NOT go to Trinity Carpets here in Portland. They have NO business savvy about getting anything done. Our first clue should have been that one must have an “appointment” to meet with a salesperson. Oh well, anyway, they agreed to fax in one order of the selected “s-Tile AvantGard Coco” 18 x 18 floor tiles to the distributor, Cronin Company out on Swan Island. This was 2:30 pm, and I said it will take me 30 minutes to get there, Mr. Trinity Salesman, do you think your fax will be done by then? “Oh sure, and they probably close up about 4:30 so you’d better get going.” Preparing for a simple pick-up, I took the dog along even though the temp was about 85. Well, of course, the wholesaler Cronin had nothing for me when I got there and wouldn’t have had I not made several calls back to Trinity finally reaching a sales manager who actually took the issue on and processed the order. I had to then ask “s-Tile” contact Judy to please get the order immediately to Cronin……. She did. Although they close at 5:00 PM, and I’d watched the warehouse staff stream out, at 5:04 here comes out one last worker with a case of tile calling my name. Whew! Oh, by the way, this also meant I had to keep the dog cool for the 2 hours we were out. Luckily the dredged Willamette Slough (for unloading ships) was close and he had to swim in some murky water followed by a rinse at home.

Well the point of that story was that upon arriving home, Rodger was there and I put the tiles on the floor. He immediately pronounced they’re too brown. After my afternoon, I wasn’t ready to hear that…………..but begrudgingly, had to admit, they weren’t right. Well, the next day, Trinity wouldn’t take them back so we’re stuck with 5 tiles. So. We spent last weekend researching about every Tile wholesaler here, and there ARE a few in this Clay soaked country. We brought samples home from four places plus borrowed samples from neighbor-designer Lisa and spent an evening staring at the floor. Good thing no one got “stoned”, perhaps we would never have made a decision. I SWEAR, just a couple more tile samples and we could have finished the whole floor.

The GOOD thing is Dave & Deborah, both so very tuned into style and color both agreed strongly on the AvantGard Tile, but a different color, “VERT” . . . . a dark tile. So, today, not one hour ago, all of the supplies are now ordered from Color Tile and we will pick it all up Thursday morning at Cronin Company. Dave will loan us his wet saw and big level, then we must pick up screws, tape, etc………..and BEGIN.

Once again, a “to-do” list is growing: Hayes Cabinets will hopefully come in before we get the floor down to spend an entire day finishing up work and hopefully, stabilizing the island a little more. We must get everything out of the dining room, move the fridge and dishwasher, pick up supplies.

We’ll begin by laying down mortarboard onto a layer of thin-set mortar that’s been troweled out onto the woodern subfloor. We then fill in cracks, tape, and ensure it’s all level. Later in the weekend then, we can begin to tile. Hope we things level and centered.

Does the dog care? This dog Mac has discovered what a sprinkler can do for him. He has NO power to help himself when faced with water coming out of a metal object, but I admit, he looks like he’s having fun:

I mean lots-o-fun:

he goes back and back and back to that water….. I’m afraid we’ll have to tie him up once serious irrigation begins later this week.

Matter of fact, today and tomorrow temps will reach 90 and the land is seriously drying out. The new lettuce coming up is requiring a sprinkle about 3 times a day and the rest of the garden every two days at least until Friday. BUT………we’re sure enjoying the lettuce. Nothing like a salad with lettuce just clipped out of the garden:

And even though the garden isn’t even entirely planted this year because of the kitchen work, some nice pics are coming out of there. We had a great sunset one night and Rodger tried to capture all the colors. Not sure a small size pic will show you the colors, but a bug just happened to be flying in front of the flash:

But one thing we DO have growing, CORN is doing well. Here’s another sunset shot. The corn is now about 5 feet tall and should top out about 8 feet (Variety: Golden Jubilee):

The Catalpa tree produces a tree full of orchid like fragrant blooms every year:

On the down side, we can now show what our former forested 3 acres adjoining the one side of the house now looks like thanks to Mr. Ed:

Pretty desolate for a Portland location, eh? As I write this, I hear Ed out in that field with a running chain saw. I have NO idea what’s let for this guy to cut.

Hey! I almost forgot to mention…………. We actually bought groceries and ran the cook-top and oven through a little test. Rodger made a Chicken Pot Pie. It is delicious and interesting. It has less than two teaspoons of our dried thyme and that is a pleasant addition. The Pie Crust cooked well in our oven. Rodger also made Potatoes Au Gratin and I must say, I claim they’re the best I’ve ever eaten but he doesn’t agree. Mark made some Pork Chops and when half-way through the recipe realized this was supposed to be a layered oven creation with potatoes in the middle. So, he modified the thing and ended up with some delicious pork chops that had some browned onion-garlic sauce on top. THE OVEN cooked things beautifully.

We treated ourselves by baking a raspberry dish inside Phyllo dough (we bought this at Trader Joe’s) and once again, the oven produced beautiful, crisp, dough …..once we turned on the convection fan that last 3 minutes, you could watch the crust brown.

Oh well. That’s it, dear diary……………. Will we succeed on Flooring?

countertops et al

Bloged in kitchen remodel by mark Wednesday July 13, 2005

Hamlet Update JULY 13 2005


Last update: June 23 – – Day of Cabinet Installations

Unbelievably that’s been two and a half weeks…………….how could that be? Yes, I suppose we have had MORE extra time somewhere in the last two weeks than the two months prior to that. We DID seem to nail a little time in to catch up one or two things needing work in the yard (and not even close to getting to all that needs to be done), and Rodger spent an entire day in the hot cramped attic getting the hood installed. We now have 7 mole traps set in the yard as neighbor Ed continues to drive equipment over his little property to loosen up old wood that drives the animals toward us. We’ve caught 11 in the last four weeks, all on that side.

We began to plan the rest of the kitchen lighting and have just scratched the surface of what kind of flooring we need to be thinking about.

Mark’s cousin Nancy and her sister Sandy visited for a while this past week. Sandy is here helping as much as she can. Warden continues radiation and chemo for the brain tumor and at this stage, it’s causing him lots of fatigue, brain swelling, memory losses, etc. This is not an easy path. However, despite that, Nancy mustered energy to prepare a fresh blackberry pie and bring up here to bake in the new oven. What a Fantastic treat that was. Sandy is here from Utah for one week, and it’s always great to see her. She is more in touch with the old home town of Vale than I ever have been, so that’s always fun to get some news. We discussed our “families” for a while, ate pie, watched birds, and I think all had a great three hours.

We DID take off this past w/e however. Competely away from the realm of this kitchen project and it was so much of a treat, I felt like I was a child “getting away with something” and kept thinking I was going to get caught. Just last Friday night, we took in a little play at the local Artist Rep Theater called, “Take Me Out” on the recommendation of the Smiths. What a fantastic story. Depending on whom you ask, it’s a story about the Love of Baseball, no, it’s about man’s inability to communicate, no, it’s about “Coming out and growing up”, NO, it’s just about how silly MEN are in general……………… or ………. Maybe it’s a bit of all of those subjects. This had some fun stuff, live lockeroom shower scenes, man-to-man talks that really don’t communicate clearly, and other subjects that were simply touching.

Then, the next morning, we took off for a trip to Eugene, or “Veneta, Oregon” actually. Veneta’s about 15 miles west of Eugene and is the site of the annual “Oregon Country Fair”. It somehow resembles a renaissance fair except taking place in the sixties, is on 300 hundred acres of land (200 acres are parking) and is no doubt Oregon’s largest hippy-craft fair, and matches anything of its kind anywhere. There are many many stages with performances going on, meditation or massage booths, food booths, and the entire thing just meanders through woods and forests. It IS on a wetland. In the winter, the ground is underwater……….and by July has just barely dried out.
We’ll probably go again and next time we will plan on an hour or two of just sitting to watch the passing parade of every kind of imaginable human reality pass by.

We joked that this was our first weekend ever of seeing naked people every day: 1) At the play Friday night, 2) plenty at the Country Fair—many painted up, 3) a trip Sunday to Sauvie Island for the dog to swim meant seeing one naked person way up the beach despite cloudy cool weather.

We came back to prepare for the countertops and today was the day. Oddly, even at this late stage, every chore completed creates an entirely NEW “to-do” list. This week of course, once the granite was done, we can now finish the lighting work, paint touch-up, plumbing, oven and cooktop, and floor. The place is torn up again, but will quickly come together as we begin tomorrow to hook up the oven again, cooktop for the first time, and now, at least, a true dream come true, a plumber is coming up Thursday afternoon. Of everything missed, I almost have to give the prize to running water IN the kitchen.

The plumber we didn’t use just had a remodel error from Home Depot. Seems there’s quite a few of those kind of “horror” stories about Home Depot even though there are plenty of good ones as well. He and his wife ordered almost $30,000 worth of cabinets to be made by Thomasville from the line they sell at Home Depot. ALL of these cabinets came Wednesday morning, and as they opened every box they saw that every inspection went well except for one thing. Whoever set up all the box making, scanned in the wrong stain color. Home Depot is coming back next week just to pick them up, and will have to re-order every piece. The family now waits another 3-4 weeks for their cabinets.

Our granite installation exposed a planning flaw of ours that’s not disasterous but is consequential. We have only a little over 16 inches distance from the countertop to the under-cabinet trim pieces. The standard distance should be 18. That means our Stand Mixer cannot sit up on the counter as planned. So we made a mistake! The crew arrived just after 10:00 am:

The countertop work is beautiful in some spots, and a little tiny tiny bit rough on just a few of the seams so I figure the job in total was very good. We’re VERY glad we went to help plan how the slabs would be cut. The flow of the granite colors and shapes looks terrific. Hurray!

We’re still waiting for summer here. We haven’t had a 90 degree day yet, rain showers still hit us every few days so we have yet to pull out a sprinkler for the lawn and it’s the middle of July. Even though there are three reddish tomatoes out in the garden they are from blooms that were on the plant when we bought them at the sale in May. Maybe this will be one of the legendary Portland “Green Tomato Summers” we’ve heard about but not seen. This is the first month this year our furnace hasn’t run in the morning. An adventure awaits.

Oh well. Maybe we’ll start to have something interesting happen when the kitchen gets done in a couple weeks. We’re almost afraid to have a house-party for the room aftraid there will be high expectations because of the new cooking appliances……it was so much easier to just think of making a meatloaf and canned veggies, eh?

Mark & Rodger.

Debts of Gratitude are owed

Bloged in kitchen remodel by mark Wednesday June 29, 2005

As we begin to step back and view our progress on our home project, we’re really realizing how many people have helped make this happen, and we feel they are all owed a big debt of gratitude. Richard began early on with professional advice (he built their home from scratch) as did Dave and Deborah who are also building a beautiful custom home near us. Baird and Karen have loaned us several important tools, the most valuable has turned out to be the shop vac. We’re always indebted to them anyway………. Paul Barstow came over one night and helped with framing (his partner Kristen helped us with easing Tucker into doggie heaven). Architect Roushdi had a few things to say about layout that we have used. Paula and Karen had several hints for us while they visited. Neighbor Peter and lisa did the same. Nancy provided us with a contact that turned out to be an enjoyable beginning of friendship, our electrician Carri (who we saw help start up the Gay Pride Parade on her Harley with partner Francis on the back). Hayes Cabinets have turned out to be completely reliable both in product and workmen (Robert, also gay by coincidence) has been as professional, helpful, thorough, as could be expected. Kaye Rochlin even brought us over some Chicken Ragout as she pained at reading out tired stories of peanut butter sandwiches, etc. This part of our project has made us tremendously grateful for friendships that prove themselves with all the help we’ve been given.

A vision is becoming reality

Bloged in kitchen remodel by mark Wednesday June 29, 2005

Friends and Neighbors one and all:

Guess what? We “think” our friendship has survived the worst part of a kitchen remodel and have had a rush of activity this past two weeks that sharply brings the new world into focus. 😯 We now begin a down period of about two weeks while the countertop fabricators prepare the material for delivery about July 11 ….. or so.

However, IN that two weeks, we have to get a lot of work done like install the hood (it’s hanging there without ducting) up in the attic, get all the insulation back up in the attic, find and choose flooring material and color, etc etc etc not to mention begin to learn how to use a convection oven. Hurray.

Cabinets arrived in this truck Thursday, July 23:

Doesn’t look like much, does it? It didn’t even look like there was enough “stuff” in there to fill up the little kitchen space.

Here’s how it looked about an hour later:

The delivery boys left, and installer “Robert” showed up about 30 minutes later in a big van FULL of every kind of tool:

He went right to work, spent the entire day with no lunch measuring, leveling, eyeballing, sawing, shimming, hanging cabinets, re-leveling, trimming, cutting out sink and cooktop openings:

He didn’t finish that day or the next and will be back July 8 ahead of the countertops to finish up.

Mark was able that evening to the job he’s most experienced at:

After two months, we were more than thrilled to experiment with a few things that night like, “Does this ONE drawer hold all those pans?”

By the next evening, we couldn’t wait any longer and got the fridge back into the kitchen hooked up to water and ice-maker. Hm. . . . we easily figured out why underneath the machine was lots of dust:

BUT. Here’s one look at the cabinets as they “hang” today, and it’s not bad. We even have a little corner for making toast, eggs, cereal, etc. No water for two more weeks:

Carri helped us hook up the oven so there was no waiting there either. We immediately baked some chicken thighs as an experiment and they were great. Mark, however, got overconfident the next day letting the bread machine mix up some bread dough and being in a hurry, didn’t have the 3-4 hour time to let it rise properly. While the taste was great, there was kind of a doughy middle! Still made good toast.

And………….Since then, as stated, the Countertop Fabricator’s been in who’s built a template from those plywood tops and so we won’t see him for at last two weeks. We travel tomorrow to Salem to help them decide how the slabs are cut up.

We can’t believe how great the kitchen looks, and are getting more confident that our own little design for the space is going to work great. We can’t wait to see the finished product.

Hope all’s well with you, /Mark & Rodger.

A light at the end of the Kitchen Tunnel?

Bloged in kitchen remodel by mark Monday June 20, 2005

Kitchen: Drywall and paint brings hope

Things are happening quickly now, and the new cabinets get installed this very week by Thursday and Friday, June 23 & 24. The drywall began to arrive last Friday:

The room continued in a very dirty condition, but was quickly getting re-built:

By day’s end it was done. Not dry enough the next day to tape and mud, they came in Monday and finished. Dry, dry dry… Wednesday we began to paint. Now, nearly a week later, we have finished painting using 6 gallons of paint for this one room. That was what it took to cover up new drywall and color it right:

Now Rodger began to worry about the Hood being squeezed between cabinets:

As it turned out, Standard Appliance failed to prove they could get our hood in time, so Mark located the distributor and called. They immediately stated we should be talking to the store and not them so Mark calmly told them the store has been no help and had began simply saying baloney about being unable to track shipments…..THIS they’re saying to a man who worked in transportation shipping for 31 years. I only got the salesman to apologize after firmly saying, “You mean YOU have never heard of global positioning satellites? If I had two ID items on this hood from Zephyr, I could tell you where that ship is in about 10 minutes. He had been saying NO one could possibly know where a ship is at in the ocean, so naturally, could not possibly know when the hood would be in. That was when Mark knew they didn’t care enough to find something out. So, anyway, the distributor was told the sale would be canceled and “thank you for your time.” It wasn’t 15 minutes later and Standard Appliance was calling to announce that the same hood was on site AT the distributor in Seattle, and had been on hold for another customer who wasn’t ready for it……they would have it to us by Wednesday. Odd how that worked, that it took MARK to make the call, the store was of no help. Now that we had the hood by Thursday, Measurements were reviewed again:

The house is still a mess and eating out is a primary source of our meals, but when we cook something simple it goes through gyrations of finding stuff, most common used items are here on a rack in the Family Room:

Don’t forget there are shelves, stands, boxes in every room of the house … did it all fit in that old kitchen?

With painting done we still review the vision of what’s going to happen, and here is that source of inspiration, our samples all in once muggy view:

Can you visualize the new kitchen that will be in place about 3 weeks from now by looking at that pic?

Oh well, a trip to the HazMat place tomorrow, and we can then begin to try to pry up as much of the old floor as we can get. By Wednesday, we should have a quiet day to await NEW STUFF!

Today, Mark did take a few hours to plant the corn starts out in the garden since the day reached 80 and was beautiful. On the down side, after trapping 6 moles, there are STILL new holes coming up on all sides so six traps are still set……I am SURE that all the clear-cutting next door drove a few more out than normal.

As we mention our Kitchen adventure to folks, we here LOTS of different stories. One guy at Costco said to me, “Well, I hope you make it through without ending up in divorce.” It IS a struggle to continue thinking about all this and doing grunt work since March. Our Vet has a friend who, along with his wife, are doing EVERY item themselves in their remodel, and they are not replacing cabinets but refacing them. Their kitchen has been torn up for a year, and they’re still not close to being finished. That’s what happens when both people work all day and then he is going to do Everything from scratch…..THAT would be a nightmare.

Intrepid Rocks, our granite company, and their intrepid agent, Andrea Morgan, have outdone themselves. We already had three slabs chosen with our name on them. At that point, I figured they were done with us. On Friday Morning, ANDREA, who was in on her day off for a bit, called to say there were new slabs of our granite “Juperana Pompei” in and they looked very nice so thought we might want to see it. Someone was already there looking….. We hopped right down to find gorgeous beautiful slabs. We immediately changed our selection from what we had to these new ones and can’t say enough about Andrea to have gone that extra mile to help us. IF you ever need granite, make sure you talke to HER at Intrepid Rocks. Intrepid is a name that’s been mentioned quite a few times by others when we’ve mentioned that we were using them. It appears everyone who’s worked with them has been happy.

So there we have it. Hopefully NEXT weekend, we’ll be putting stuff stored all over the house back into new kitchen cabinets even though countertops and appliances won’t be working for another two weeks or so.

Odd observation: AS we get so close to having done all we can do, every day seems a long list is made up of little things that MUST be done the next day. The hidden fact of being the “General Contractor” we guess.

**ALL our bird traffic MUST be feeding young. They are seen at feeders ALL DAY LONG and draining them fast……….. what a wonderful thing to watch. The DAMN Jays already brought a fledged set o-young to the feeders. Mark got home one day to find 7 jays hogging every post in the back……and not a tiny bird to be seen. We’re seeing fewer and almost NO Male Hummingbirds………my, how this time is short here for them.

So, Nancy, rest easily knowing your hummingbirds are still being fed with clean fresh food ……….. interesting though, the feeding has dropped big time just with this warm air….I’m sure they won’t need as much, but I’m wondering how many males have “flown the coop”…………. HAH.

Mark & Rodger.

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