Friday, February 15, 2019

Drifting Away

Well, it's just another day in Wisconsin, sitting here watching the driveway drift shut.  We had another light snow overnight on Thursday and today the twenty mph winds are creating some mighty creative sculptures.  

  In particular, the drift behind the house is making my bird watching a lot more difficult.   Yesterday I could still see the bird feeder hanging from the trellis but------

Today, it's disappearing fast!

Oh, dear.   There's a bird feeder behind there somewhere.

Time to fire up the shovel.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Destined To Shovel Or Sink

Snowstorm Destiny is supposed to be done doing her thing and should be on her way out of the area around midnight, so they say, but I'm awake at 1AM and it's still snowing a little.  

I'm not sure what the totals will be on the actual snowfall, but as of 10PM tonight, though it was still snowing, the moon was visible when I went outside to shovel off the back porch.  I heard estimates of anywhere from 10" to 14", judging by the snowbanks, I'd say we're on the high end of that.

Carl opted to stay home from work Tuesday and I didn't blame him.  He's sixty-one now and has put almost forty-three years of work in the same place (that's almost a record, nowadays).  He's getting tired of risking life and limb in a blizzard on the fourteen mile drive at five o'clock in the morning.   I could tell he felt guilty and restless, though.  

Joel made it to and from work, but he said his roads weren't great, either.  And now the wind is picking up, so Wednesday morning will be a hoot on the roads, too.  All of the recent snow has been super lightweight, and it sifts through cracks in the garage doors, making drifts inside our buildings, too.  I can about imagine what the driveway will look like tomorrow morning despite the fact Joel plowed us out at six pm on Tuesday.  

For some goofy reason whenever we have a big snowstorm I find myself in the mood to bake.  I don't need the calories, believe me, but today I cranked out ten dozen chocolate chip cookies.  And, as usual, I will be dispensing said cookies to anyone and everyone who shows up at my door just to be rid of the temptation.  Such an exercise in futility, but it was wonderful to have the smell of fresh baked cookies in the house. 

I should have gone skiing afterward to burn off some of those cookie calories, but the snow is so light that I'd be over my knees in powder. From past experience, I know my skis would eventually get crossed and since I wouldn't be able to see my feet, I'd fall over in a heap.  

When I first started skiing back in 1979, I remember reading that the best way to get up after a fall was to lie on your back in the snow and put your feet straight above you (with the six-foot+ skis still attached to your boots.) Now that you look like a helpless upside-down turtle wearing skis, tuck your knees close to your chest and roll forcefully over onto your side, propelling yourself with enough force that you end up with the skis back under your feet where they belong, and simply stand up.   Oh, yeah, you'll have to bend over now and pick up your poles, too.  But that's ok, because you'll be on your feet.  Uh-huh.   

I tried that maneuver a few times, but have rarely been successful, mostly because I'm not twenty anymore and also because I've eaten too many of the aforementioned cookies over the last six decades.  I end up rolling around in the snow, looking like I'm having some sort of medical emergency.

No, I opted not to ski after the mesmerizing sight I witnessed earlier in the morning in our backyard; a gray squirrel was clinging to the bird feeder, stuffing his face with black sunflower seeds.  I startled him and he made an impressive five foot leap to the ground only to completely disappear in the snowbank.  He was nowhere to be seen.  After a few seconds, the snow started to move and his nose reappeared followed by the rest of him as he alternately hopped and sank his way to safety in the powder.  He just kept popping out of the snow like a jack-in-the-box. 

 If the squirrels are having a hard time, I will wait for better conditions.  The roll-over-to-my-feet technique isn't going to work in this stuff.

I really do admire this youngster, though. He's just as sprightly as the squirrel:

(And, you can see why xc-skiing burns calories, even chocolate chip cookie ones.)


Monday, February 11, 2019

Snowstorms Aplenty

On January 31, I noticed a huge sun dog just as the sun was beginning to set behind our house.  It was brutally cold that day, and there was too much snow to run out into the field and get a full picture of the phenomena, but this was the most circular sun dog I'd ever seen.  

What is a sun dog?  Wikipedia explains:  

Sun dogs are commonly caused by the refraction and scattering of light from plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals either suspended in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds, or drifting in freezing moist air at low levels as diamond dust.

That's right, we have diamond dust here in Wisconsin.  We are very fortunate.  And it truly is beautiful.

When I was a kid and Dad would see sun dogs, he would always say we were in for a big change in the weather; look out, another snowstorm is on the way.  Well, I have carried on his tradition, and when I saw this massive sun dog, I told Carl we'd better get the shovels front and center.  

This has been one snowy winter so far.

Most of the snow has been of the light variety, almost like the fluffy flakes seen in Hollywood Christmas movies, wafting down in lazy circles, seemingly in slow motion at times, landing without a sound.  

I was curious about how 'snow' is made in movies, so here's a video explaining the process:

Well, that was interesting, but the video didn't mention how they clean up the paper, did they?  I think I'd rather shovel real snow. 

Here's a video of Real Wisconsin Snow: 

The snow in yesterday's video was nice and calm.  However, we had sleet last week Friday which fell like a hard summer rainfall, similar to hail, only tiny, round pellets with no wind to drive them, and dropping straight down out of the sky.  The pellets hit the tin outhouse roof, bounced a little and then rolled off like minuscule marbles, forming a circular ring on the ground. 
Though we love the tufa gabion outhouse, I'm happy we have indoor plumbing, too.  Those two people look pretty cold. 

 Ah, much warmer then.....

Snow has really piled up since this picture was taken in December!

The bird feeders have been a constant flurry of activity, too.  My cellphone doesn't take the greatest photos, but we have a flock of cardinals here who have been brightening up the yard with their brilliance, along with chickadees, blue jays, sparrows,woodpeckers and many others.

When Mom came to live here in February 2016, we brought her bird feeder with us so she could see her beloved cardinals.  I went from one bird feeder of my own, to two, and now, this year added a third one.  

My original bird feeder was glass and had bird images and flowers embossed in the surface, but last March something (probably a raccoon) knocked the feeder off the pole and the glass tube broke in several pieces.  Carl decided to replace the glass with wire mesh and the birds love it.
Sunday, February 10, 2019
The backyard snowbanks are getting higher and higher and I have to shovel my way out to the feeders at least every other day to keep them filled.

Mom's feeder was a Droll Yankee Flipper, the kind that will spin when a squirrel climbs onto the perch, but the flipper part wore out, so now it's just a feeder.   Though it's hard to see from here, I hung a wire waste basket over the top of the feeder to ward off hawks who are also attracted to the bird feeders for prey.  The birds seem to like having the extra seating available while waiting for their turn at the buffet, too.

Last month, Carl welded up a garden ornament for me.  It was made from some old nails that had been part of a homemade garden drag we'd built when we first put our lawn in.  The wooden parts of the drag had rotted almost entirely away, but the nails remained.  While cleaning up in the yard, I was going to toss the whole thing into the trash, but Carl disagreed with me.  

I admit, I was angry about his wish to hang on to the junk, but also have to admit he made something beautiful out of nothing once again.  Sadly, we don't see eye-to-eye on the junk around here.  I realize he's capable of making something out of just about everything, but man, oh man, he's got a LOT of everything.  

The birds really like the 'Nail Allium' though, so I'll stop kabitzing.  For now. 

I hear another snowstorm is headed our way, beginning tonight and into Tuesday.  This storm already has a name, 'Snowstorm Destiny'. 

 When the storm is given a name, we're supposed to pay attention.  I'm not sure what this one will do beyond heavy snowfall and high winds, but one thing is for certain, we know what our destiny will be once again.

Joel and Audrey, making sure the 574 is ready.
 It's time to stock up on gasoline for the tractor.

"Keep the feeders full, please!!"

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Remodeling Our Hut: Part 4

In the first week of December,  Carl and I had just finished eating dinner one day and got to talking about the fact we hadn't heard anything from Contractor Phil for quite some time, actually, come to think of it, not since late September.  Wow, was it really that long ago?

You know how it is when you lose yourself in a project and time seems to accelerate?  We'd been working on the driveway and the culvert replacement for all of October and it was well into November before we were done moving trees and stone walls.     After the culvert was installed, I was getting the garden ready for winter and had about half of it cleaned up before the weather forced me to quit for 2018.
Culvert delivery October 2018

Anyway, during that discussion on a Friday in December, Carl and I surmised Phil had possibly changed his mind, too.  After a long talk about what our next move should be, we decided to just let the remodeling idea go, the same way I had seven years earlier when I never heard back from the very first contractor.  Once again, it must not be meant to happen for some reason.  Besides, we have the hosta convention tour in June; why create a crisis?  We'll be busy enough.  Though it may seem strange to say this, we were more or less relieved.  We have time, after all, we've waited this long. 

Ironically, the very next day Phil drove in our yard.  We were very surprised, we weren't expecting him.  Carl went out to talk to Phil, who apologized for the lack of notice, but he was here to meet with the designer.  She wanted to take some pictures and measurements and by coincidence, they were both nearby at the same time.  Would it be ok if they took the outside measurements?  They wouldn't have to come in the house. 

Carl said, "As long as you're here, you may as well take interior measurements, too."

I was scurrying around picking up Christmas ornament boxes (I had been decorating the tree) and all the other junk that gets disrupted when doing holiday decorating and trying to tidy up the best I could, but it was a losing battle.  

When the designer, Nicole, walked in with Phil right behind her, I quit trying to clean and put on a brave 'Yes, sadly, this is the way the house always looks, but I'm sorry you had to see it this way' face.

After introductions, Nicole assured me she wouldn't be posting any photos online (that's good) but she was taking pictures for her own reference for design purposes.  She also had a fancy laser gizmo for measuring interior dimensions.  After a bit more talk about what we were hoping for, Nicole said she'd draw up some preliminary plans and we'd be in touch.  


In a week or so, Nicole sent us these preliminary pictures of what this old hut could look like from this:
April 2018: We hadn't shoveled out yet after the record-breaking blizzard last spring.

To this:

We would be adding on a mudroom, attaching the garage, adding a  porch across the entire front of the house and wrapping it around to the side, and adding a dormer upstairs.  

Currently, there are two bedrooms upstairs on each gable end of the house, facing east and west.  In the middle, there's a stairwell and a very tiny half bath.  And I mean tiny, and complete with a slanted ceiling which you quickly remember is there when you stand up too fast. 

By adding the dormer to the front and back of the house, we could have a room that is approximately 13' wide by 28' long which I was hoping to turn into a stained glass studio.  By adding windows to the dormer, we'd gain much needed light to the space upstairs, too.  Right now we do all of our stained glass work in the basement and it would be fantastic to have the advantage of natural daylight for glass selection.    

She also sent along a proposal for what the main floor and mudroom would look like, too.  (The upstairs floor plan is still in the works.)  

Since we'd eliminated a mudroom from the plans when we first built the house in 1978, it hasn't been fun.  Upon entering the back door, the kitchen is to the right and the dining room is to the left.  There's a narrow two feet of space between the dining room table and our current 'breakfast bar' where we eat 99% of the time.  To get to the kitchen, we need to walk around the peninsula/breakfast bar.  Carl added on an extension to the peninsula that can fold down if need be, but since we need the room, it's always in the up position, leaving about a foot between the peninsula and the adjoining countertops.  

In other words, it's a tight space.  

When we have guests, people have to get up from the dining room table or the peninsula to let other people out or into the house.  And there's no place for wet shoes or coats, either.   My garden shoes, boots, gloves, trowels, ski poles and whatnot are chronically in a dismal, chaotic heap right by the back door.  

The front door opens onto the front porch, but I do not ever remember welcoming guests into the house using the front door.  We do sit out on the porch now and then, especially when it rains because it's my favorite perch in the summertime, but it is very small.  I had always wanted a screened in front porch, but since the square footage of our house plans had been drastically cut down back in the day to make my dad happy, the only way we could have the porch was to cut into the dining room area four feet.  Now, we are going to bump the dining room out flush with the living room which will add much-needed room.

Remember I said in an earlier post that we'd been boring our friends and relatives with the 'someday' dreams about this remodeling for at least a decade?  Well, it hasn't gotten any better for those poor people since we received the plans in mid-December. 

There are three people we've bugged the most about this, all of them are in their 30's and we are old enough to be their parents.  Dale is our neighbor who rents our farmland and who has a background in cabinetry and house design.  I've been bugging Dale about our house since he was in middle school and he always has valuable input.  He's done cabinetry for me in the past and I appreciate his help.

Cody and Briana are a young married couple with three adorable little girls who have had to put up with us traipsing over to their house with our laptops and house plans all this winter.  We have attended builder-sponsored new and remodeled home tours with them for a few years now and we're always on the search for ideas.  We all especially love to see the older home remodels, since we love Victorian and Arts and Crafts homes and the detail and craftsmanship that go into them. 

Cody works as a technician, but on the side he is a talented carpenter who did a fantastic job on remodeling their home, complete with a new kitchen that is a masterpiece.  Their house should be in a magazine with before and after photos; it is beautiful.  Briana is a math teacher has a wonderful sense of architectural design.  They have both helped us immensely with the house plans; I don't know what we would have done without them.

Since Christmas, we've been working with Cody and Briana on making changes to the plans Nicole sent.  We were thinking about moving the mudroom door to the east side and rearranging the kitchen to make more room for a nook, and a bunch of other what if's too numerous to mention.  

I had been in contact with the designer, asking about the possibilities of changing stuff around and she'd been doing her best to accommodate our randomness, but we realized we needed to have a definite plan in place for what we wanted so the designer would know exactly what we hoped for. 

A few weeks ago, we were at their house when Carl and Briana discovered the house dimensions on the plans didn't seem to make sense, so we kidnapped Briana and headed back to our house at 11:30 PM to take measurements the old-fashioned way, with a ruler.  Cody came over later around midnight to pick Briana up (his sister was staying overnight and was with their children) and before we knew it, it was 3AM and we were no closer to figuring out a solid plan. 

That's when we decided to invest in our own home design software and have Briana draw out a variety of house plans for us.  The software wasn't terribly expensive (the designer's fee is $35 an hour) and the way we were going, we'd have a chunk of change tied up with all the 'what if we do this, or what if we do that' scenarios.

All four of us worked on the house plans over the next few weeks and though there are still a lot of bugs to be worked out, we finally came up with what we hope is a winner.   

The relationship of the garage to the house to Carl's shop limits what we can do with the size and placement of the mudroom and door arrangements, plus, every change raises the price of the project considerably.   We have to face it, there's only so much we can do when it comes to remodeling this old hut.  

With Cody and Briana's help, I emailed the plan we'd come up with to the designer days ago and now we're waiting for her input.  

We really hope there's help for this little hut in the alfalfa field.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Remodeling Our Hut: Part 3

 Now that Ms. Crawford has given us her advice on my last post on how to proceed with the remodeling, I have a much clearer picture of what we need to do. 

Here's one of the problems we're facing, I know it's kind of hard to see, but there is just a little room between the house and the garage, just enough to walk between them comfortably.  If we are going to attach the garage, we don't have a whole lot of room to work with.  Carl didn't want an attached garage back in the day because he disliked the smell of gasoline, but as we get older, it sure would be nice to be able to walk into the house without going outside.

That point really hit home during the Polar Vortex last week with near -30F temperatures; we were hauling in groceries from the garage and struggling with the bags while battling the high winds and ridiculous windchills.  

"Just think," I said to Carl while stamping the snow off my feet in our kitchen, "this might be the last winter we have to do this if we finally get a mudroom."

Along with a mudroom, we would like to have a zero-entrance home, eliminating steps to enter from the garage.  After caring for Mom in our house when she was too weak to walk and was using a comparatively small transport chair, we realized we need much more room in the bathroom and bigger doorways if we are to live here in the event of age and infirmity.  

Considerations kept getting added to the list.  Handicapped accessibility?  Change the bathroom?  Get rid of the tub?  Add a bathroom to the mudroom? Upstairs laundry?  How long will I wash with a wringer in the basement?  

I'm not getting any younger, so the mirror on the wall tells me every morning.

And for floors?  Tile?  More vinyl?  Laminate?  And the rulers would come out and Carl would draw up random plans on dinner napkins and we'd bore all of our friends with our silly dreams and what if's and in the end, oh, well.  Some day.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  

 About seven years ago, I remember asking one contractor if he did remodeling on smaller homes and he seemed interested, but when I called the number on his business card (twice) he never got back to me.  I took that as a sign it wasn't supposed to happen. And life went on.

For years and years we'd been going on builder-sponsored new and remodeled home tours, getting ideas of what we might do and seeing the various contractor's work.  

Finally, this past March 2018 when we were on another home tour with our young friends, Cody and Briana, I got up some nerve.   I decided to show a picture of our house to every contractor I saw that weekend and ask if they would be interested in remodeling our hut.  I was specifically asking if they felt it would be possible to add a dormer and an attached garage with mudroom.  

Several flat out told me no, we'd be further ahead to tear it down and start over.  Although, I'm not going to lie, that did sting a little, but that's ok, better to be honest than to string me along, right?  

However, one contractor was actually somewhat enthusiastic about the project that day; yes, he could see what we were proposing and was interested in the prospect of turning a sow's ear into a silk purse.  He did caution, though, that it would not be cheap.  

Contractor #1 promised to come out in April 2018 to look at our current abode and see what he could do.  He arrived with his  assistant and took measurements and photos of the interior and exterior.  Then he sat down and asked us what we hoped for in a remodel.  He didn't like our staircase in the position it currently is and said our idea for a breakfast nook overlooking the garden wasn't going to work because we didn't have enough room even if we tore out a wall, but....he had other ideas that we probably wouldn't have thought of. 

This contractor is well-known for his work preserving and restoring historic homes, most of which are true mansions, so I was surprised he was even interested in our humble project.  He asked when we'd be wanting to get the remodeling underway, and we both said  sometime in the summer of 2019 as we have to get ready for the American Hosta Convention tour coming here in early June.   As long as we were out over a year, he said he'd work on the plans and get back to us later on.  We were excited and a little anxious, wow, we finally had the ball rolling on this dream.  It really might happen.

However, we heard nothing more from him after April.  As usual, things were busy here and I knew the contractor was also swamped with projects, too, so we didn't think it was totally unusual.  Joel and Abby's house construction started this summer and with all the other stuff going on with Carl's parents and the garden and my last few visits with my doctor, time flew by once again.  

June, July, August came and went with no word from the contractor.  I told Carl I figured he had decided he had bigger fish to fry.  We guessed he had forgotten about the whole thing, after all, this wasn't the sort of project he normally took on anyway.  

We did attend one of his open houses in August for a remodel he'd finished this summer and he recognized us right away when we did the walk-through.  He asked us how we'd been and said he'd be in contact very soon, but once again, he reminded us his calendar was really booked.  We were very intrigued by the renovations he'd done.  The house was an historic bungalow and he had moved staircases and rooms all around to improve the flow and add space and an open floor plan.  There were some neighbors on the tour who had known the former owner and they were so impressed by the changes that they had to congratulate him.  It was very nice.

But since he was busy, it was sometime in September before he called me with a rough estimate of the cost of remodeling.  It was about what we'd feared; very expensive for the size of the house, but still cheaper than building a new home.  I think he wanted to see if I'd back out immediately after hearing the price, but since I didn't, he said he'd send out a crew to look the house over again in November.

Oh, well.  Had we started the remodel in motion even a few years ago, we'd have had to pay much less in lumber and labor costs, as everything has gone up in price, but again, it is what it is.  

The reason I call him Contractor #1 is because after finally receiving the first estimate, we reached out to Contractor #2 who came recommended by a friend of ours.

Contractor #2, Phil, came out within a few days of when he was called to meet with us.  He arrived right on time and was business-like, having just come from another job he was working on.  He is the owner of the remodeling business and is part of a two-man crew, working with another carpenter.  He said he prefers to be a hands-on contractor instead of hiring a large crew.

Contractor #1 is an animated person, very verbal and excitable. He is more of the visionary design and idea professional, but most of the work would be carried out by other carpenters in his employ.  Though he didn't say exactly what he wanted to do with our hut, he said the end result would be 'cool', which is a favorite saying of his.  Since we have seen his work we know he is very talented, no doubt. 

Phil's personality was the exact opposite; he was so very quiet that I feared he was going to run for his truck after shaking our hands.  I couldn't tell what he was thinking and there were lots of awkward silences. I figured he was going to say thanks, but no thanks, I don't want this gig.  He carefully looked over the property, taking notes silently as we followed him around answering what few questions he had.

Finished outside, we entered the house.  He was standing in our kitchen, studiously making notes about what he was seeing and quietly said, "'ll be wanting new flooring in here?"

Me, being the goofball I can be at times, said, "Well, we really like the orange vinyl and hoped to keep it if at all possible."

He had never taken his eyes off of his notes and at first I don't think my comment registered with him, but within a few seconds, he looked up at me quizzically.  

"Oh....well.......," he began until he saw me grinning at him.  

"I'm sorry, Phil," I said. "I was just kidding.  I know it's time to let it go."

(Thankfully, for all of us, I didn't break into the song from 'Frozen' at that point. Phil was probably already wondering what type of asylum this was.)  After a short discussion about what we would like to have done and another firm handshake, he was on his way back home.

To his credit, Phil came back a second time a few weeks later; apparently we had not scared him off entirely.   His written estimate came in a little less expensive than Contractor #1's verbal estimate, and he was willing to start remodeling in December, as in this past December.  

Whoa, it just got real! We had neglected to tell Phil at our first meeting of our timeline of the summer of 2019, but he was fine with starting the job then, too.  So, it looked like we were moving ahead again.  He said he'd get back to us with some rough drafts after he contacted a designer for plans.  At this point, we still didn't have an idea of what we could actually do, but at least we had a ballpark estimate of what it would cost.  

We never did hear from Contractor #1 in November as he'd promised.  We know he's still busy; he had another open house in January and being the silly people we are, we went to that one, too.  Once again, he recognized us immediately and was friendly, showing us around the home he had just built and was listing for sale as a spec property.  He had rescued some impressive oak columns (colonnades) and fireplace mantels and other woodwork from a recently demolished character home and integrated them into the new house which turned out beautifully.  We chatted with him for awhile afterward, but he never mentioned our project again.  

And neither did we.  

I think we have our answer.   If he'll have us, Phil it is.

Remodeling Our Hut: Part 2

 Welcome back to the ongoing remodeling story, but first a little trip down Memory Lane: 

When we got engaged at age eighteen in 1976, we started discussing where we would live.  We weren't planning on marrying until we were twenty, so we had plenty of time to figure out our future home.   Carl drew up some rudimentary house plans and we spent a lot of Sunday afternoons driving around looking at houses for ideas.  The plan Carl came up with was what we have now, only about 15' wider and longer than what we ended up with. 

When my father saw the initial plans, he was not happy. He was adamant we not build a 'big' house.  (45 x 45 was big?  I still have to laugh, I wonder what he'd think of the huge homes being built nowadays?)

"Do you want to be in debt forever?  Don't be stupid," he advised. 

 Or I guess I should say, admonished.  Sternly.  Several times....but he had the right because he was our primary lender for the construction.  So at his insistence, we pared down the dimensions to 1 1/2 story,  28' x 30', roughly 1500 sq. ft., and sent off our rough draft to the lumber company's architect.

Below is the alfalfa field where our house is now.  This was taken in May of 1978 the day before basement excavation began.  Carl was always careful to take before and after pictures, even way back then.
Our driveway culvert (which we just replaced in Oct. 2018 is the light patch on the right.)

 The next step was digging and pouring the basement walls, circa May 1978.

 By September 1978, we were married and had a house, but no garage. 

 Carl and I built the garage together and finished shingling the roof on on our first wedding anniversary, September 9, 1979.

I had wanted a front porch, so the architect at the time came up with the recessed area on the right.  I love the porch, but on the inside, it cuts four feet into the dining room.  

We had the house paid for in less than fifteen years, and I have often bemoaned the fact that we could have indeed afforded the extra 15'  for the mudroom and kitchen we had wanted in the first place.  Sad to say, the remodel will cost us far more than the initial construction did.  

Be that as it may, as the years went by, we kept tossing around ideas but weren't any closer to a workable solution.  

Should we move the garage and attach it to the house?  Build a mudroom on the back or the side of the house?  Rip out the wall between the kitchen and the tiny 6' x 6' room we used as nursery for more kitchen space? We'd have to tear down the chimney, but we don't need a chimney any longer since we have a geothermal furnace.  Should we push the dining room wall out four feet to the edge of the fruit cellar foundation?  What about a breakfast nook?  How about a bigger front porch?  Why are the windows in such weird places?  Is that a bearing wall?  

 So many things to think about; over the years we'd measure rooms and discuss and debate all of the possibilities of moving walls and whatnot, but then a bunch of big ticket items with high price tags cropped up one after another--- we had to put in a new geothermal furnace, the septic tank failed in 2017 and needed replacement,  the culvert partially collapsed in 2018,  and all the other joys of home ownership too numerous to mention, plus my goofy health issues and caring for our elders, too, which takes a tremendous amount of time.

Oh, well, a bunch more time went by, my orange vinyl is looking worse every year and we still didn't have any real plans in place.  It is hard to visualize what a space will look like before it is done.  So many questions, and we were still baffled. 

What can we do with what we have to work with? 

What DO we want?

I could really use Joan Crawford's help. 

I wish Joan could make a house call.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Remodeling Our Hut: Part 1

My late father standing in front of our then new house 1979

In case you missed my last post, I made the announcement that we
are on the verge of a near whole-house remodel this year.  If you've been reading this drivel for any length of time over the last ten years, you were bound to hear me lamenting the current state of the hut; the orange vinyl flooring, the lack of space, and most of all the absence of the most coveted room of all (cue heavenly music) a Mudroom.  

How I long to have only one room in our house devoted to mud.

If I wanted to shame myself, I'd do a search of my memoirs and see how many times I mentioned the need to do something with our house, but I'm already ashamed enough, so suffice it to say, I have mudrooms on the brain every time I walk in this house and kick off my dirty Birkenstocks under the dining room table.  

I have close to a hundred different photos of mudroom configurations saved and sit and swoon over them from time to time. 

 Here are a few of my favorites:

Yes, if I had the space to add on a mudroom that is nearly the size of our current house, that would be epic, wouldn't it?  

We don't have that much space.   

Moving on.  

Many visitors over the years have been surprised to hear that we had this house built back in 1978, just before we were married.  I suppose they wonder why we built a 'starter house' and then never moved on up to a McMansion?  I did overhear more than one visitor sarcastically quip to another, 'The house sure doesn't match the landscaping.' 

(Refresh me, is that the same as 'the drapes don't match the carpet?)

Yes, our house is no-frills; 1000 sq. ft on the first floor and roughly 500 sq. ft on the second and now, being past forty years old, it needed updating about twenty years ago. Badly.  We'd done basic maintenance, a new roof, fixing what was broken, but not much else.
And let's not forget the Supertunia Bubblegum petunias!
 We'd poured our hearts and souls and what little money we could spare into the gardening and big rocks over the last four decades and the house was an afterthought.  The gardens were more important to me because I loved being outside with my hands in the dirt and we all know where that rock obsession led..........  
2009 Much, much younger idiots we were then

A Mudroom or a Quarry?  Ok, the Quarry won.

However, decades ago the old vinyl floor started to wear out in the high traffic areas, especially under the wheeled-dining room chairs we have here, and now the decay is spreading to the walkways, too.   

Wheeled chairs and orange vinyl eight years ago
Every time I scrub the floor, more pieces of vinyl are tearing loose, in some places, we are down to the sub-floor now. 

In another instance of how time flies, back in 2010 we did replace the then 32 yr-old living room carpeting oak hardwood flooring.
May 2010: Carl working with nephew Travis and Joel on the new hardwood
We have been very happy with the hardwood floor in the living room, but I couldn't imagine replacing my kitchen floors with wood due to the amount of dirt we track in from the garden unless we had a mudroom.  Without one, in no time flat, the hardwood would be a scratched and dented mess.

When we built this house, we were barely twenty years old and had no idea about architecture, but as we've aged, we've both become enamored of Arts & Crafts, Mission and/or Craftsman style homes and furniture.  There is just something about the coziness and lovely old oak woodwork that we love.  Would it be too much of a stretch to remodel our house in the Craftsman style?  Again, who knew, it was all a distant possibility for Some Day, the stuff dreams are made of.
A Craftsman style home which caught my eye.  Look at the happy people!  Just think,  I could relax on a lawn chair while watching the flowers grow.
The picture above is a reasonable facsimile of what we'd like to do with our current home.  How do we go about getting from where we are now to this?  

Stay tuned, the plot thickens.....