Thursday, February 28, 2008

Thursday - Week 3

The kitchen cabinets have arrived. The contractor,Walter, said the Pearl-colored cabinets were coming and I managed to see the panicked look on his face when I said, "Were they supposed to be Pearl?" The two carpenters, Red and Bud, are brothers.
They, along with Walter, helped unload the welcome delivery.

Earlier, Wendell and Ernie finished up the drywall patching, leaving an empty canvas for the brothers to move in the cabinets.

We have inadvertantly chosen cabinets that match the doors in the kitchen. The hand of providence no doubt. Larry and I didn't give a moments thought to what is called the "cross and bible" pattern on our doors when we thumbed through the catalogues, narrowing our search for cabinet styles. Later in the showroom, I never gave the doors a thought. Today, I see that they are perfectly matched.

The finish is slightly whiter than I might have chosen. I have enjoyed the warmer golden ivory that we used on the kitchen trim in the past. We hope to warm the room by painting the ceiling the same ivory chosen for the chair rail and other trim. I learned to like this at bridge-friend Rhett's house, where the kitchen ceilings are a nice soft yellow.

It is a dirty job. Although everyone has done a good job cleaning up after themselves, the miniscule dust particles creep out to invade the grains of the wood floor in the living room and settle on every flat surface nearby. After the carpenters and drywallers leave, I have wet-mopped the kitchen floor every night in a vain effort to control the dust. Larry has mopped again after he gets home to keep us from tracking the dust all over the house. Some small corners of the house have not been impacted by either moving everything we own that belongs in the kitchen, or cooking appliances misplaced, or relocated cats. We are both anxious to get the house back in order and live as we are accustomed to, but with a new kitchen!

Tomorrow, more cabinet work. Maybe an electrician, but he is still awaiting an insurance adjuster for the damage to his home.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mid-Week Three

It is an excruciatingly slow process. There was a big flurry of activity first thing this morning. The two drywallers, two carpenters,and Walter, the contractor, were all here. Great anticipation because this morning the cabinets were scheduled to arrive.

Wendell and Ernie finished mudding and sanding the kitchen walls and ceiling. For an extremely messy job, they do a really good job of cleaning up.
"Wendell specializes in dustless drywalling," Ernie informed me. And it was indeed pretty dustless. They will need to come back to cover the hole remaining from the old flourescent fixture. They thought something was going to be there. Also, the laundry room needs to be finished. When done, they vanished - no word, no sound.

Steve the electrician didn't come today. I suspect he is still dealing with the tree that landed on his house yesterday morning when the big winds blew through.

And the cabinets no-showed. I finally gave up around 4:30pm and left the house to ship orders at the post office (talk about excruciatingly slow). This defines the process I think. Anticipation and disappointment. But I remain hopeful - maybe tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unavoidable Delays - Week 3

I was awakened by the weather alarm radio - strong thunderstorms moving our way. It was not yet 6 a.m.

Unfortunately the electrician had a tree fall on his house, so he obviously can't come today. Even without Steve, there should be some forward movement. Someone named Wendall is coming to do the sheetrock patching required in the kitchen.

Today I was hoping to have the chandelier replaced in the living room. Just before the kitchen remodel began, we updated the furniture in the living room, and part of that redo is replacing the chandelier

that noone has liked since day one. It never really bothered me, but... I put it up on Craigslist and noone there wants it either. Steve was unable to hang the new chandelier on Monday because he didn't have a long enough ladder and the ladder he planned to borrow was working elsewhere. So nothing happened Monday.

This afternoon we will have visit number four from the local furniture company. Unable to replace a warped door on our new wall unit, they are bringing in an entirely new pier. Although this doesn't sound disruptive, it required that Larry unhook all the connections to the new television and remove it to prevent damage. We also have a loaner TV cart, since our new one won't arrive until April! I am seriously considering keeping the floor-model cart just to prevent the ungoing disruptions and allow us to settle. The unnamed (so far) furniture company is sending us a $300 gift certificate because they have caused so much aggravation.
"So that we can buy something else disfunctional," Larry commented. The company already replaced the new end table that was defective.

The good news - yes, there is good news - is that the two new couches are super-comfortable, even draped as they are with sheeting to prevent the dust from finding them. Steve the electrician will eventually get here to hang the new light.

I read recently that the head of a small country had called his noblemen together and asked them to give him one phrase that he could use to reply to every possible situation. The phrase they came up with was, "This too shall pass."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Kitchen remodeling week two

The electrician was faithful to his word. He did finish roughing in before his self-imposed deadline of 3 pm on Wednesday. It was unavoidably messy, with drywall dust and insulation all over the floor, but we now have canister lights, "cans" they call them, and the appropriate power available for planned under-cabinet lights and switches. The switches will all be under the cabinets, hidden behind the light rails, so no switchplates to interrupt the flow of the tile backsplash.

The plumber and helper also arrived Wednesday. Being very aware that they needed to leave the kitchen to turn off water and reach the attic, I politely (I hope) asked them to kick off their shoes before leaving the kitchen to avoid tracking drywall dust all over. They did take off their shoes, and then walked through the dust in their socks with much the same effect. Guess I didn't make myself clear.

My friend Cheryl, the most diplomatic person on earth, kept a box of plastic shoe covers and offered them to anyone entering her home to work. I am just bossy. Instructions from Cheryl are received like a gift. If only I could be her student.

It is difficult to remove the drywall dust from the grain of my hardwood floors which it reached by sneaking beneath the closed kitchen doors. We did turn off the heating system fans to prevent it from gathering strength in the vents. Because we have to continue walking through the kitchen to access Larry's office, the garage, the laundry, the outdoors, I have mopped the floor repeatedly each evening in an effort not for cleanliness but for dust reduction. It is not possible to mop enough.

Walter, the contractor, and I have discussed my desire to have the space "really clean" before bringing in anything new. It is obvious that when the house was built many things were built over construction debris. Since dirt finds a way, I want the space as clean as possible before cabinets or flooring come in.

Now we are waiting for the cabinets - scheduled for delivery about Wednesday next week.
Some drywall work will be done early in the week. Since I have chosen a cork floor - beautiful stuff and resilient for my back - Walter and I agree that it has to be installed last. Too much opportunity for damage. Cabinets, finish plumbing and electrical, appliances, countertops, painting, and last the floor.

We will take these few days off and move forward again on Monday.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kitchen Remodeling - Days 5 thru 8

Friday was Day 5 and not much happened. Just when I was ready to leave the house, the plumber and helper showed up for about 15 minutes and then left again, promising to return on Tuesday.

Of course, nothing was scheduled for the weekend. Larry worked on the built in ironing board which, as we suspected had no insulation between it and the original siding that was put on the house, beneath the cedar shake. I had some suggestions but was asked to leave the room. Keeping tensions down during this time is critical. So far I think we are doing great.

This morning, Monday, the contractor and electrician showed up. The electrician is a nice, young guy named Steve. He made copious notes about what he is expected to do and then had to leave - Columbus Day and his child was out of school. Walter delivered the can lights for the ceiling and then we sat down to see the pre-construction power point presentation which we hadn't gotten around to yet. It assures me that there is a predictable psychological roller coaster that runs through the remodeling process and that at the end all will be well. It also says that even when I don't think anything is going on - something is.

Walter said his people would rough up the wallpaper, spray it with chemicals and then take it down. When he left, I took it down. It was like stripping masking tape and came down easily.

No roughing up, no chemicals. I hated losing the wallpaper, the design of which had tied the kitchen together. I hesitated in the laundry room, thinking that perhaps we could leave the paper in that small area, but it had already been damaged by removal of the ironing board framing, so it had to go. I did save a nice roll that had come off cleanly and was in good condition. Perhaps I will use it to mat a picture for the kitchen - in honor of the old design.

In the meantime, the cats are in the lap of luxury. They spend most of their day in the solarium which has been outfitted for their needs and ours. Day one,
Tipper sharpened his claws on the Oriental rug - a big no-no - so we covered the rug with a piece of canvas duck that I had ordered to cover the second chair. We had already called into service the piece of canvas from Larry's Mom that she had used beneath her painting easel to prevent accidents. Both good upholstered chairs are covered with sheeting and fur. Carpet samples help cover the edge of the Oriental and provide a scratching place. Of course, kitty litter inevitably is everywhere. I vacuum daily.

The cats wander into the now empty kitchen and occasionally try out their new-found freedoms to explore how far they can go in other directions. During the severe thunderstorm yesterday evening, I let them go whereever they felt safe. Tipper chose the bottom shelf of the brand new end table in the living room. The new living room furniture is also covered with sheeting to protect it from the dust, so this could be confusing to little cat brains. So far so good.

Tomorrow we expect the electrician at 8 a.m. I told him Larry would open the door. I don't do morning. The plumber should be here too. "I will be done by 3 p.m. on Wednesday," the electrician announced confidently. I like that in a man.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kitchen Remodeling - Day Four

We heated up the solarium,so the cats were comfortable, but we have had a chilly night. It dropped to 22 degrees overnight and the heating system that serves the kitchen/living/dining area refused to transition to back up heat. Larry woke up to 60 degrees in the dining room for breakfast and in the low 50's upstairs in his bonus room. He woke me by bringing me my parka, "You'll need it when you go downstairs."

The heating contractor must have found out that he didn't get all the money that was left. They will be here this afternoon to investigate, although the high is expected to be 60 degrees today.

No plumber today. The low temperatures result in frozen pipes in Georgia, which burst, causing flooding, and this is a good thing for Larry. Lots of insurance claims. The plumber is tied up on a big job today so will come tomorrow.

The other surprise is that we don't have a refrigerator with an icemaker! When we replaced the refrig, we didn't get an icemaker because we didn't have a water line. Larry says the refrig won't last forever, so go ahead and run the new line. Someday we may want it.

Salvation Army came today and took away our old, faithful sectional. Hated to see it go but maybe someone else will appreciate having it. The new furniture is covered with sheets to protect it from the dust. We could almost get one of the cars in the garage now except that Home Depot came and delivered the new cooktop and double oven.

Lots of traffic here lately. So far only one of the trucks has driven over the garden in an effort to turn around.

Tonight we will dine on Greek chicken, with mashed potatoes and Mediterranean pasta and steamed broccoli. I bought it yesterday from a meals, ready to go, shop. Something special for Valentine's Day. I put Larry's candy in a "special place" and have no idea where it ended up in all this confusion. With any luck I will find it before he gets home tonight.


Kitchen Remodeling - Day Three

Well - although this is plenty excitement for me, writing about it isn't as interesting as actually being here. I guess the personalities contribute a great deal to the experience.

Walter, our contractor, is very comforting. He assures me that not only will everything be glorious when the kitchen is done, it might even be fun! He was chosen because of a recommendation from my garden club friend Dianne. Walter has been working in her subdivision for five years, being passed hand-to-hand, and doing repeat business with many of her neighbors. Dianne herself had her master bath done (just finished) and was amazed to come home one day and find that there were toothpicks all over the walls. The grout lines were so small that the toothpicks defined the spacing for the tiles.

So far Walter has talked me into granite countertops - I thought they would be too expensive, but it is the same price as Corian. I chose a beautiful slab that picks up the brown and ivory and has a vein of green in it. It is called Lady's Dream. I found a tile that will be used for the backsplash, in a diagonal configuration, to compliment the granite. Both go with the paint colors we had chosen in 2001, when we were GOING to do the kitchen and I lost my job.

Of course, the unintended consequence of this choice is that I can't really use stone-look flooring because it would look bad next to the real stone. Real stone is too hard. I searched for something that would look right and found linear cork flooring that is more than perfect. It will be good for my bad back and is beautiful. My only reservation is the warning on the pamphlet that says "Wet maintenance is strictly forbidden." What does that mean? Will it float?

In my ongoing search for flooring, countertops, cabinets, etc., I have met lots of interesting people. The manager of Georgian Stone is a very knowledgable woman who started with the company in a clerical position. She told me later that when she saw our cabinet sample and color selections, she already knew I would choose Lady's Dream. But she is part psychologist, so she let me look at everything, leading me, eventually to the slab that I chose.

Today I met the plumber, Winfred, a very nice man who sounds very confident and practical.
He will return tomorrow to run a new copper water line, INSIDE the insulation, and arrange for the dishwasher to move from right to left so that we can accommodate a corner cabinet lazy susan. He will also price on-demand water heaters for the kitchen and laundry bath which are furthest from our main water heater. With Georgia's drought, we can't be running the water, waiting for it to heat up.

The kitties had a chilly night. The heat pump that serves the solarium is camped on the same circuit as the oven that was removed. Of course that circuit was turned off.

More adventures to come.

Kitchen Remodeling - Day Two

Not much changed today. The carpenters removed the shoe molding around the baseboard and took off the door and frame that used to cover my ironing board.

The ironing board was installed badly 28 years ago and there is no insulation behind it to shield us from the outside temps. Tonight I put packing tape around all the edges to prevent the wind from just blowing right in. Larry thinks this might be a job for Great Stuff insulating foam.

We discovered that the vent over the cooktop doesn't actually go anywhere. It was sort of duct taped to a short tube that barely made it past the insulation in the attic. It will have to be vented outside.

The good news is that Red opened up the sheetrock on the outside wall and found that the long-ago termites had only scratched the surface and hadn't actually damaged the wood. The copper water tube, however, had been installed on the OUTSIDE of the insulation - which explains why the tube burst before we even bought the house. We haven't had an ice maker in 22 years - no water line to feed it.

It seems that as soon as we decided to remodel, the money committed to this project screamed out for the rest of the money to come along! Last week we had to have a furnace and heat pump replaced that failed unexpectedly after only 6 years. Today, in addition to the remodel, we had to have upgrades to the security system. The frequencies assigned to the cell-phone type backup system had been revoked by the FCC. The FCC, however, didn't offer to pay for the upgrade.

The furniture company came to try unsuccessfully to fix the flaws in the new furniture. And the Salvation Army came with a full truck to pick up the huge, old three-piece sectional with two ottomans. They are coming back Thursday.

Enough turmoil for one day. Some progress though. The carpenters hung the saved cabinets in Larry's workshop, except for the one that should be over the desk which accidentally got thrown in the dumpster. Until we replace the desk, we don't know where to hang the cabinet.

Tomorrow is plumbing estimate day.

Kitchen Remodeling - Day One

Monday, February 11

We were ready to start. After weeks of moving items from the kitchen, a little bit at a time, the day had finally come. We had overnight guests Thursday. Went out of town Friday and returned Saturday night for the final cleanout.

The guest bath vanity wasn't as big as it looked - or maybe the microwave was bigger - anyway the microwave is now in the office on the spare desk. This is inconvenient since the food that you would microwave is downstairs, at the other end of the house, in the refrigerator, which is now in the garage. The coffee maker is in the upstairs bathroom.

I bought a small selection of prepared foods to see if any of them are any good and a friend loaned me her small CrockPot, so we won't starve, although we won't be eating very well.

About 11 a.m. this morning the contractor , Walter, arrived with his two carpenters - brothers Red & Bud. They proceeded to tear out the cabinets, saving a few for Larry's workshop, leaving a barren landscape that made the cats think they had arrived on a different planet.

The cats, by the way, are gleeful. After 14 years of being confined to the kitchen, garage and outdoors, they are now living a luxurious life in the solarium, with chairs to sleep on. They have never been allowed to be on any furniture, so this is a real treat. Of course, the chairs are covered with sheets and canvas, to prevent happy kneading of paws from damaging the upholstery. The oriental rug, on which Tipper already tried claw sharpening, is now covered with a new piece of canvas duckcloth. They have numerous spots for napping and can see the bird feeders from the upholstered chairs. What more could they want.

I will probably never have any control over them again.

So tonight we tried Asian noodles in a bowl. They came with a high carb sauce and some dried vegetable scraps. We combined this with left over rotisserie chicken for the first of many wonderful meals to come.