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June 29, 2008

Combination: Fourth mystery flower and birdie babies

The babies are getting bigger. I don't know how there's room for the three of them plus momma. Here are some beaks, and just because, a gratuitous butt shot:

(As always, click the pictures to see them "real" sized)

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My only regret about being gone next week is the chance that I'll miss them fledging. I just love having the babies around; I've not managed to photograph the mourning dove young-uns, but they're very cute too.

And here is the fourth mystery flower; I originally thought it was part of the pink one, but this is a completely different plant.

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The first picture is the flower alone, and the second is of it with the pink mystery flower.

June 27, 2008

Drive-by seedings?

I've got some interesting volunteers in the garden this summer, so I'm wondering if there is a new "vandalism" trend where people plant random seeds in someone else's garden. Tracy and I traded some seeds last autumn--I sent her some blue columbine and she sent me some Texas bluebonnet.

Where I'm pretty sure I planted the bluebonnet seeds, I seem to have a whole mess of bachelor buttons. I'm not complaining about the BBs, but I would have liked some bluebonnets also.

But here are three other mystery flowers:

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The first one is a really sweet pink flower that looks like it could be a miniature snap-dragon. I'm fairly certain the white one is a common weed variant, but it is pretty. And I've never seen the purple/white variety in my life. I don't have a good picture of its leaves, but they are rather cool looking themselves. This might be a type of balloon flower, but I don't recall planting any balloon flowers out front. (The leaves it's next to are actually from my new forsythia bush. This flower is also on a pretty long stem, but it likes to drape closer to the ground, making a decent shot very difficult.)

Not only do I have bachelor buttons and these three mystery flowers, but my violas have reseeded like crazy and are coming up all over, and I also had four varieties of columbine that I've never even seen in the neighborhood, let alone planted in my garden. I'm really going to have to work to get their seeds this year so I can ensure they get planted; one of the variants was a really cool frilly pink and white columbine. The others were a deep wine-red, a deep purple, and one the palest pink that was almost white. The flowers are all gone now--if I pluck the pods, will I still get seeds, even though it might technically be too early?

March 31, 2008

good thing I didn't [UPDATED]

...uncover the gardens this weekend. Yesterday was gorgeous (the whole weekend was nice). We opened windows. We opened the new windows on the bathroom porch (and puppy-boy even managed to overcome his fear of the bathroom and join me for the open window session on the porch). And I regretted spending time on the house rather than uncovering the gardens.

But, for once in my life, procrastination proved to be the better part of valor. Because this is happening today. Click the pictures for a larger view. I'll also have some pix from my office window later, because even though I remembered to bring the camera, I forgot to bring my card reader.

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Updated include link to flckr photo set. The first couple are from earlier in the morning, and the next few from early afternoon. The last ones are through the new windows in our bathroom porch when we got home.

March 18, 2008

Finally Some New House Pictures

I've finally gotten some more house pictures uploaded, but they are mostly unannotated. We've also progressed well beyond some of these; I hope to have more sooner rather than later, but no guarantees.

The newly remodeled upstairs bathroom:

Looking in from the hall doorway
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To the right:
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The wooden door here leads to our funny little second story screen porch. This used to to be accessed from the landing/hallway, but now has been incorporated into the bathroom to give us some more space. The tile decoration at the top of the shower is the same tile from the kitchen backsplash.

To the left:
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The new landing banister; paint is the same as the kitchen:
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The banister itself has been raised to meet code. Behind the wall on the landing, we'll have a new small cupboard with something on the top to put plants on.

Repainted study and new sunroom doors:
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These doors somewhat mirror the French doors on the main floor. The doorway has been expanded and the windowed doors added to incorporate the sunroom into the main room better. These doors are maple (?), and will be stained to more-or-less match the trim upstairs.

Paint colors for anyone who cares:
Study: Sherwin Williams Hazel no. 6471
Bathroom: Sherwin Williams Clary Sage no. 6178
Kitchen/Stairs/Landing: Sherwin Williams Hubbard Squash no. 44, from the Arts & Crafts line.

February 22, 2008

Of Money and Madness

We have suddenly found ourselves in a position that I would never have expected us to be in with this remodel. We both have good jobs, we're financially solvent, we have excellent credit, we have been with the same bank for many years, and yet, suddenly, we find ourselves with our line of equity frozen, in the middle of having our house torn apart.

Due to the housing market crisis and the losses big banks are posting, almost every bank across the country is freezing all home equity loans. Apparently, though, they're following a typical senior management policy of reacting without paying attention to the smaller details of what will this really mean, not only for customers, but for the staff who have to deal with the fallout.

We found out about the situation last Tuesday. We were supposed to have received information in the mail, but hadn't. A service representative caught the Husband at work to apprise him of the situation. When he explained that we're in the middle of a remodel (that will increase the value of the house, but that has currently rendered the house unsellable at this moment in time), he was referred to that person's manager. At that time, the Husband was assured that there should be a process in place for this kind of situation and that our case would be reviewed and that we would hear back in about 5 days.

Yesterday was day 7, so we called. Apparently, the manager with whom the Husband spoke was not authorized to say such things; the underwriters sent him a response saying he needed to contact us to explain {I'm fuzzy about what he was exactly supposed to explain]. In a compounding of errors, it turns out that person can't make outside calls, and the underwriters should have known this. Long story short, we were never contacted.

So now, we have to send the bank details about the project and they'll review the case, supposedly in another 5-7 days. If they decide to unfreeze our loan, we'll probably also have to schedule an appraisal in order to actually access the money. So we're looking at probably another 2-3 weeks.

The good parts of the situation:
1) We have a contractor who is willing to work with us (after all, this situation will significantly impact his business, too).
2) Because of the good jobs mentioned above, we could scrape the money up to finish (we're about 80% done at this point).
3) My mother can loan us some of the money to finish, at a much better interest rate.

The bad parts:
1) We've been living in the living room of our house for nearly two months, which means sleeping on a futon.
2) We haven't had a shower in our bathroom for that amount of time (we have a temporary shower situation in the basement, but the hot water hose split last weekend, so it's getting very important to get the upstairs bathroom completed).
3) We'll be borrowing money from family. That's not necessarily bad per se, but I'd rather owe the bank than friends/family.

The future impacts:
1) If we scrimp and save and finish ourselves, that means we will probably not be paying off our credit card, which means interest and a higher balance that we will still have to pay off.
2) If we ever find ourselves getting a home equity loan again, we'll just take the money and run rather than using it as a line of credit. Again, that means more interest that we'd have to pay.

So, while we are extremely lucky in that we can finish the job, and we can tell our contractor to keep working because he'll still be able to pay his subcontractors, it's just a sucky situation that we did not quite anticipate. Bleah.

January 21, 2008

Moving to the upstairs

With the downstairs mostly done, it's time to move upstairs. Here are some before pictures of the bathroom and very beginnings of upstairs demo.

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What we came back to

We came back to the new cabinets AND the new appliances AND the tilework backsplash AND the new countertop.

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Kitchen Cabinets

After the sheetrock, the cupboards went in. They are quarter-sawn oak, and I can't quite remember the company. They aren't custom-fitted, so they aren't more expensive for that reason.

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Sheetrock

I've been a bit behind on my remodel blogging, so I don't have much commentary other than what's in the pictures. This group was taken before we left over the Christmas holidays. The sheetrock went in on the walls, then the cabinets went in in pieces.

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November 28, 2007

Electricity and random pictures

Mostly pictures; I'll annotate with text when I have a chance.

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November 26, 2007

Windows!

New windows in the kitchen today! I just took pictures of the new windows where the sink will be; the bathroom has a new window also, but it's not as exciting because there isn't any size change.

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November 20, 2007

Plumbing happened today

More of the daily updates. I'm assuming no one will be here Thursday or Friday (or the weekend), so you'll be spared for a few days after tomorrow. :-)

A few shots of the new pipes:

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And since the fridge is in it's new temporary home (see the shot of the dining room from the first post of this sequence), I can show you the framing for the new bathroom in the add-on porch segment of the kitchen:

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Then there are the pipes in the ceiling. Here's what's left of the ugly, water-damaged ceiling:

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November 19, 2007

Kitchen remodel part 2

Here are some new updates from the remodel. It's really interesting coming home without quite knowing what we're going to find when we come into the kitchen.

I actually have a "before" picture that shows a little bit of the old kitchen:

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(You might have just seen this if you read my post about Kodi.)

While not from the exact same angle, here is what we found today:

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November 17, 2007

Someone stole my kitchen...

...and left it in my back yard. Yes, we did tell them to take the kitchen, but it's one thing to talk about it, and a completely different one to see it. The kitchen remodel is the first step in our massive house remodel. I didn't get a chance to take "before" pictures, so you'll have to use your imagination. (Remember to click the pictures to view them in a larger size.)

The kitchen in this house is (was?) weird. It is accessed through the dining room and through the back door of the house, though you have to climb about 5 steps from the back door landing. When you come in through the dining room, there is a set of stairs immediately to your right leading upstairs. At the base of these stairs is a long add-on landing stair that is going to be cut back and turned into a regular step so that we can shift and widen the doorway.

In the "old" kitchen, immediately to your right from the dining room entrance was the beginning of the shelves. Because of the bottom steps, these cupboards weren't very deep to allow walkway space. The main kitchen cupboards followed the wall on the left, sort of in the form of 1/2 of a hexagon; the first and last cupboards were diagonal (yes, the edge of the shelf was different lengths) with the longer portion of the hexagon being more at a true counter depth. The kitchen sink was in the middle of this wall (the other side of the wall is the living room, with the chimney in between.

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In the new kitchen, this wall will begin with the refridgerator at the foot of the stairs (remember that the foot of the stairs and doorway will be shifted to accommodate the fridge) then cupboards, then the stove will live approximately where the old sink was.

At the end of that counter/row of cupboards are three windows. Immediately under the left window used to be a large-ish radiator that was removed about 2 weeks ago. This radiator blocked access to one of the cupboards; you could literally open the door about 3 inches. These windows will stay there, but we're raising them to accommodate more counters and the sink will go there.

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Because the bottom of these windows was so low, there was really no place to put counters or anything. We had a small table there, but it usually got used as a dumping spot rather than an actual place to sit and eat.

So far, the kitchen probably doesn't sound that bad, with the exception of the unusable cupboard where the radiator was. Continuing down the wall with the windows (north facing wall) is where things turn strange. About half way down the wall, the ceiling drops about a foot and there is an obvious difference. At some point in the house's past, there was a small porch attached to the kitchen. A similar porch remains upstairs, but the kitchen one had been reclaimed to creat more space. This porch is where the old fridge, the stove, and a few miscellaneous cupboards lived.

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When the cupboard was reclaimed, one window was added, a lovely east-facing window that brings in a lot of beautiful morning light. The wall behind the cupboards and stove (the right-hand wall if you're looking directly into the porch area from the main kitchen, more or less as in the above picture) borders those 5 steps up from the back door. Where the stove used to live was the edge between the porch and the kitchen proper.

The kitchen door there is the east wall where the edge of the porch used to be, then there is another 4 or so feet of wall that borders the other side of the stairs leading upstairs. Here is a very not-to-scale quick rendition of what the kitchen used to look like:

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The new kitchen will be a little more user friendly. Instead of a radiator, we're going to have a small heating fan under some of the cupboards. But most importantly, about 1/2 of the add-on porch will include a main floor bathroom, It will just be a toilet and sink, but it will be so nice to have not only a second toilet but also one on the main floor (I can't believe a family of four lived here for 18 years with only one bathroom....).

The remaining pictures are more or less related to some of the interesting things the demolition uncovered. Old wall paper, different layers of flooring, ceilings, etc. Perhaps the most interesting one is the picture of the ceiling that is immediately under the upstairs bathroom:

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This is the the evidence of damage caused by leaks in the bathroom upstairs, the bathroom that we remodeled on our own when all we really wanted to do was paint it.

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