The New Voice in My Kitchen

No new kitchen is thoroughly broken in until smoke from the oven or stove sets off the smoke detector.  Unfortunately, I did so when my boys were sitting at the kitchen counter. The new smoke detectors are wired into the ceilings.  Gone are the batteries of old.  We discovered if one goes off, say near the kitchen, they all go off.  Throughout the house.  Creating an eerie echoing, like a sound effect from a sci-fi film.

Shockingly, a calm but insistent woman’s robotic motherly voice spoke to us.  “Fire.  Fire.  Fire.”  The high electric shrill beep of the smoke alarm was startling.  This voice… unnerving.

Our three sets of eyes grew and locked gazes for several seconds when she started directing.  As I grabbed a towel to fan the nearest alarm, I said in my best calm motherly voice, “There is no fire.  It’s just smoke from the oven.”

Will and Liam were frozen as they heard repeatedly, “Fire. Fire.  Fire.”

“Guys, there is no fire.”  I tromped closer to the alarm and started fanning.  They watched me with great doubt moving through their little bodies.  She was winning them over.  I could see their minds, capable of making big pictures, churning.  In their heads, they were running out the door to our emergency meeting place in the neighbors’ front yard.

With 10 good waves of my towel – more than what was needed with the old detectors – beeping and speaking ceased.

She would be effective in an emergency situation, but I wish she was more perceptive in non-fire situations.  It would be helpful to me if she said words like, “Bacon.  Bacon.  Bacon.”  Or, “Last pancake.  Last pancake.  Last pancake.”   Or even, “Mom’s Burning Food.  Mom’s Burning Food.  Mom’s Burning  Food.”

Or not.

A Day Off Work or The Hump Day That Got Away

It’s crunch time on construction.  Or should I say “punch time.”  We are down to a task list of items (the punch list) yet be completed.  All the little bits are coming together, like tiny dominoes built meticulously in a tight train. Last week, that meant meeting the cable guy.  Was that an audible groan that slipped from your lips?

It started with a Sunday appointment and a local guy that was pretty much tickled to see the interior of our house, after driving by it for months and viewing it from the outside.  Unfortunately, he was so enthralled with our new utility room – shiny, compact, and labeled – that he missed the dropped line in the ugly little unchanged room which meant an easy job for him.  He went away needing to schedule a 5-hour appointment to wrap the exterior of our whole house in cable.  On Monday, the electrician looked at me incredulously when I told him the Sunday cable guy’s plans.

Later that day I received a text saying that my “ticket was closed” as all work was completed on the assigned job number.  Interesting, as we still had no land-line, no internet, and no cable – only a new fan of the fine craftsmanship that went into our addition.

I called and scheduled another appointment.  Cable guy #2 arrived, came inside and said, “This was called in as a missing dial tone.  This is a bigger job than I can do today.”  After 20 minutes on the phone to set-up this visit, only the “missing dial tone” box had been checked?  “Let me call the business office.”  And off to his truck office he went.

Deflated, I rounded a corner and met my finishing guy, fuming.  “You’re too nice.  Tell him he’s not leaving until the job is done.  Tell him you took the day off to be here.”  This pep talk coming from a man who had a year-long appointment with cable guys – until one cable guy finally cut an exterior line, drained the water out, and put a new line in, creating a long-awaited clear picture on the big-screen.

I headed out the door, in the rain, with no coat.  I hovered outside the truck office’s open window.  “Any word?” I called into the cable guy.  “I’m working on it.”  Then, I heard him mumble “Thursday.”  Through rain drops, I shouted, “Thursday won’t work – thresholds are being stained and no one can be in the house!”   I got the wait-a-second finger.   He hung up.

“I really need you to do this today.”

“I don’t have enough time today; I have five other customers.”

“But I’m a customer too!  And this is the second cable appointment I’ve made in a week to get this job done!”  At this point, I glanced at the ground in front of the truck.  Soft, wet mud.  Shall I throw myself on the ground in front of his truck?  Until the Barefoot Contessa is recording on my DVR?

Why is Bill in China and missing out on all this fun?

“Let me make another phone call.”

I heard negotiating… I dealt the last card as advised by my finishing guy.

“I took the day off work for this appointment!”

That night, the boys and I watched Halloween Wars on the Food Network.

Hello from The Black Bra Inn

Good Morning from the lobby (aka: our living room) at the Black Bra Inn... Liam & I have been here since 5 a.m.  Liam and our next door neighbor were having coughing fits.  Liam's was from allergies.  Thank goodness for Netflix on my computer... That leaves me pecking away phone.

We are only days away from sleeping in our house!  Yesterday l saw trash cans along a street.  They made me homesick; soon we will be putting our own trash out.

Hotel staffers know my name.  To my face they call me "Linda.". I have to wonder if privately they use a qualifier:  "You know, the black-bra woman who's usually in the lobby at the 5 a.m. Shift change?"

meanwhile at the house, our mattress and bed springs have returned to our bedroom.  The stacked pair looks like a squatter holding firm for our imminent return.  We are waiting for the floor finishes to be completed and for the smell to go away.

Once in the house, we will probably leave the bathroom light on as we have in every place that we have slept this summer.  It's a comforting beacon at 2 a.m. in a place that isn't home.

Once in the house, we may not venture out for anything other than school and work... And meetings, gymnastics, floor hockey, soccer, Boy Scouts, trumpet lessons.  Looks like penciling in AT HOME on the calendar needs to happen for us to do some serious nesting.

Yes, I must get out of here... I just helped a British couple operate the coffee brewer in the lobby and then provided travel tips for Boston.

Sometimes dusty, dirty, and demanding... Here's to home.

Happy Hump Day...

Confused by the name of the inn?  Read Finders Keepers for clarification. :)

Finders Keepers

Wednesday morning I was herding the boys, trying to leave the hotel room and get to school.  Liam, putting on his shoes between the two beds, said, "Hey, Mom!  What's this?  I want it!"  Frazzled, I acquiesced and had a look.  It was a black bra.  Not mine.  Stuck under the leg of the bed.  "No you can't have that!  It's not mine!"  Thinking he had really hit a jackpot, "What is it?  I want it!  Finder's keepers, ya know, Mom!"  Bent over laughing, I told him not to touch it and to get shoes on and get out the door.  My response to the surreal is apparently belly laughing. I scooted the boys out of the room and stopped at the front desk.  Speaking in shorthand to the woman at the front desk, I conveyed what needed to happen.  "My son found a black bra under the bed.  Not mine.  Stuck under the leg.  He's playing 'finder's keepers.'  There are clothes all over the room, but that is not mine.  It needs to disappear before I get back."  She was mortified.  "I'm so sorry."  Across the lobby I said, "Maybe you can think about something you can give me in return for what you take out of the room today."  The response, "We will come up with something."

After school I returned with the boys to pick up the laundry and go to the laundromat.  I subtley peeked under the bed.  It was gone.  I snatched all the dirty laundry and opened the suitcase (aka: dirty clothes hamper) to add these last bits.  And there it was.  Neatly folded... the black bra.  Still not mine.

What got lost in translation?  "The woman in room 123 can't get her bra out from under the bed" v.s. "The woman in room 123 wants the bra that's not hers out from under the bed."  Knowing there was a seeker in the room playing finders keepers, I whisked it out of the suitcase, opened the door, and threw it into the hallway.  There are housekeeping carts right outside my door.  Someone will now get the message.

A half hour later, Will opened the door as I wheeled the suitcase right behind him.  "Mom, why is there a black bra out here?"  "I... I threw it out here because it's not mine and..."  Hells bells.  I threw it out into the hallway.  Do the housekeepers think I'm in a rage because I found a bra in the room, not mine, and slung it out because my husband is having an affair?  (He's not... read this clearly... it's what I thought the housekeeping staff thought...)   I grabbed a plastic bag, picked the black bra up again and delivered it to the front desk.  Different woman at the front desk.  I shorthanded her the story.  She too is equally as mortified as the first woman.

The only ones I cannot explain the situation to is the housekeeping staff.  There I am with two little boys, throwing another woman's black bra out the door.  I am left wondering how they are telling the story.

God forbid, I hope I didn't grab the hotel laundering bag to get rid of the thing.  It may come back neatly folded... and clean.

(Want to read more about my "finder's keepers" guy?  Liam's Forever Family Day 2012.)


This Morning's Office

We are just a few days away from moving back into our house.  So close.  Life is more than a little jumbled living from a small hotel room, a POD, and the back of my van.  And this morning, from the hotel bathroom as my morning office.  I didn't feeling like putting clothes on at 6 a.m. and sitting in the lobby.  This morning, I brought my purse into the office.  I have become a bag lady.  Holy smokes, that thing must weigh 20 pounds.  This morning I'm cleaning it out... A hard cover address book stuffed with social invites needing replies or gifts... three passports, one  needs to be renewed... the boys' Easter money from Grandma & Grandpa - three ziplocs filled with coins... Will's heavy wallet, what does he have in that thing? ahhh, it has a coin pocket --filled with quarters... my envelope of cash... two driver's licenses -- I lost my original at the beginning of summer... my camera... Advil... 2 ziplocs filled with receipts... 2 hotel bills... a mysterious bill in my side pocket, probably from Mom, she has a quiet-money-tucking way about her... one duplicate checkbook, no cover & paint sample paint strips with kitchen color possibilities marking where the next unused check is... hmmm... there is also a reorder note on the top edge and the color of the basement carpet written on the back... IPASS from IL that works in MA...  1 set of keys with all those little store tags... deoderant... empty prescription bottle, don't want to throw it in the hotel trash... "Wet Ones" package about half-way down in the bag... box of band-aids with a tube of antibiotic salve inside... big green Mentos gum bottle...crumpled receipts distributed evenly throughout like confetti... ziploc of hair bands and clips... phone charger cord for the car... a key... a receipt for granite sealer...big tube of Cortizone... little tube of Aquaphor...  I can see the bottom of the bag! ... my prayer bracelet... a note from Will's teacher... a note from the landlord who owned the house we rented this summer, there's a drawing of the house on the front of the card, she would love to have us back next summer -- the deposit check is tucked inside... another baggie full of coins... another key... origami Yoda I'm supposed to be mailing to a friend for Will...tic tacs... Premier 1k Mileage plus card from United with my name on it... another car key... and two business card holder -- empty... LEGOS flier from the garden in Ames, IA...rental car agreement... a banana key chain with a single key, either to the POD in our drive or to our steel case containing important stuff... package of gum... more confetti receipts...Liam's bracelet that a friend made for him... leftover tape from Bill's wound this summer... band-aid wrappers... a car rental receipt from Iowa...tweezers... plumbing supplier business card... lipstick...another key... more leftover tape

I've always been fascinated by inventories.  Lists can tell a story and each item has its own story.  Just wait...there are three pens and a pencil in the bottom of the bag as well.

Happy Hump Day...

Summer Numbers

At the end of this tailspin called summer, I’ve been recalling events in numbers – a little strange because I’m more of a word person.  Short & quantifiable, numbers highlight this Hump Day Short. In the last 30 days, I’ve slept in 17 beds.

After flying 1,600 miles to the Midwest, the rental car had racked up 2,000 Midwest-driving miles at the end of our 14-day trip.

45,143 LEGO blocks were used by master LEGO sculptor Sean Kinney to create a mother bison sculpture on display at the Reiman Gardens on the ISU campus in Ames, IA.  It was one of 27 sculptures in the gardens.  (Click here for pictures of sculptures.)

6 pair of underwear; 1 set of pajamas; 2 capri pants: What I left behind in a hotel room drawer after 1 beautful wedding in the Midwest.  It was shipped to my parents’ house in 1 box that took 7 days to arrive.

Quantillion, quintillion, googleplex.  A number created during a drive through cornfields in Iowa; I think it relates to the numberof corn tassels we saw.

½ of 1 toenail left on my big toe – a result of the 26- mile Avon Walk in May.

ZERO:  How many ears of corn are on many cornstalks in Iowa due to the drought.

ZERO: How many days until school starts.

1 alien space umbrella I was using yesterday made 8 people smile.

A few days rather than a few weeks until we move back into our house – too early for exact numbers.  Thanks, Mom & Dad, for our 1 mantel.  It's a piece of white oak from my grandpa's timber on the old home place, cut down in 1952 and shipped from Iowa to Massachussetts for $40.  Yes, it's so cliche, but... priceless.

Construction Magic

Mars and Pluto are out of alignment. MadMimi, the newsletter program I use to send you these fancy letters, does not want to talk to me if I say, "Hey, let's send out some pictures!"  She was fine earlier... today she has a bug.

A cool cloud called "Dropbox" -- where you can add files and share with others "easily" -- must be caught in a thunderstorm.

Recent pictures I took of construction on the house are stuck on my cell phone.  My cell provider does not recognize my location.  And I forget to forward pictures to my email when I'm running errands in town and have coverage.

Yesterday morning, after my computer participated in an "origami yoda" session with Will, it lost contact with the mouse.  (Finally, last night Bill said, "Did you try taking the battery out to shut it down and reboot?"  Obviously, it worked because here I am...)

Amidst this technology rubble, Bill's hand is recovering nicely and construction is going as scheduled.

The house.

Well, it's amazing... absolutely amazing.  Interior walls are framed; electrical and plumbing are done.  The builders are in a holding pattern waiting for all the building inspectors to give the thumbs-up so the insulation crew can start.

Pictures of the interior might make sense to a construction crew, but to the naked eye without a set of plans, it looks as thought I've taken a shot of vertical 2x4's lined up evenly like dominoes, ready for someone to push over the first one.

On the other hand, exterior shots are all about obvious progress.

Side of house before:

Side of house after -- from a different angle:

Back of house before:

Back of house during:

Back of house after:

What a facelift, huh?

Live from Gloucester, MA!

I have a new computer, and all of my old stuff is on it!  Even those 30 shots of an English rose -- clear, blurry, and/or questionable.  Love digital, but I don't sort out the good from the bad.  I just dump them on the computer to store.  You know... so they're safe. Bill's hand is recovering nicely.  As of Friday, no more twice daily hydrogen peroxide baths.  We've passed the two-week mark on daily antibiotic infusions.  Two to four weeks remaining.  Unfortunately, with the pick-line in, that means Bill can't get wet.  (In case you missed the beginning of this story, here it is -- in a round-about way...) In February, we planned the summer with water in mind.  Since the 24th of June, we've been waking up to kayaks, fishing boats, lobster boats, and motor boats on the Annisquam River.

With construction progressing on our addition, we moved out of our house as we flew to England on May 26th.  Literally.  We threw wet towels and toothbrushes on top of a 2-foot high pile of stuff on the dining room table as we scrambled out the door at 6 a.m. to catch a plane.  Everything from the kitchen and living room, which are being renovated, has been shoved into the dining room and toy room, which will remain unchanged.

We came back from England and checked into a hotel for two weeks, including the last week of school.  While in England, the builders took over the house, gutted some of the rooms, and put up framing that now marks the new rooms inside.  Now, it looks more like the architectural drawings than it looks like our old house.

In the three houses we have owned, we have had add-on plans for "some day."  Twenty years later, this is some day.  With the scope of work, we couldn’t try to live in the house.

We decided to rent a house for the summer on Cape Ann in Gloucester, a town about 40 minutes or so from our house.  It feels like it’s a flight away: watching lobster boats with seagulls chasing them early in the morning, seeing the Annisquam lighthouse flashing at night, structuring our days around high and low tide.  It has a bit of an island feel to it.  Really, we are living unstructured days around the tides.

We could have chosen to rent an apartment inland, but we chose something different.  A summer adventure.  After all, today is some day.



Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, decisions, decisions. That’s what the beautiful spring weather has brought to the Malcolm house. The night before a meeting with our builder, we were left with the decision of fireplace design.

After a brief discussion with Bill about the questions that our builder posed, I went to bed that night worrying about placement of the seated hearth and how much space to lose with pulling the fireplace into the room to allow for built-ins on either side of it. Then I went on to what kind of stone it would be. That must have been when I feel asleep because the next morning I woke up feeling – and looking – like I had slept in the boys’ rock tumbler.

When I reached the dining room, I saw a new LEGOS construction on the corner of the table where my computer goes. I can’t confine these crazy pieces to any one room, as much as I try. I was about to whip it into a LEGO box when that familiar little voice stopped me, “Oh, it might be the beginning of the Death Star.” I scooted it aside and made room for my computer.

Enter Bill with a victorious smile on his face. “Did you see my fireplace?” I hadn’t seen a drawing other than the one he sketched the night before. “This one!"

Yes, after I went to bed in my tumbler, Bill opened a bottle of wine and got out the LEGOs.

And this is the fireplace model is that we showed to the builder that morning.

Here’s to opposites that still attract…

(At the end of the summer, the real thing beared an amazing resemblance to the LEGO model.  Have a look in Summer Numbers.) 

New Neighbors: The Vulpe vulpes

A new family has moved in behind us.  A mom, a dad, and nine kids.  The mom and dad were here last year at this time but with six different kids.  How could this be?  (Will & Liam love word play.  It’s rubbing off.) We have a fox family living in the ledge that we share with three to four of our human backyard neighbors.  For non-Massachusetts residents, ledge is another name for rocky soil – I think.  Picture yourself digging a hole with a spade, putting all your force into the “push,” expecting dirt to give way to the metal, only for the spade come to a dead stop, and feeling that “push” reverberate back through your body.  That’s underground ledge.  We have a row of ledge – above ground it’s made up of large boulders, underground who knows – in our backyard.

Summer and fall, our woodchuck lives in it, but now it’s a fox den.  The woodchuck was there first, which makes me wonder:  Is he the landlord or just dinner if he doesn’t agree to move out for a few months?  We saw the dad in late January, cozying up in the sun.  Perhaps he was working out rent payments with the woodchuck.

Last year we watched six babies grow up, first spotting them after they had started to turn red.  This year, they are younger: brown with little white tips on their tails.  They are cute, strange little things.  They look like dogs but move like cats.  Pouncing & rolling on each other without a sound.

I didn’t bother to mention the family to our builders.  With all the noise they were making, I didn’t think the fox family would come out while they were working.  But the day after we first saw the babies, I got a call from the builder.  “I wasn’t sure if you know that you have an interesting... family living in your backyard.”

Yes, we have a family of Vulpe vulpe: the scientific name for "red fox."

Weathercasters & Builders

Both have that peculiar gleam in their eyes when something big is approaching. Can you imagine how difficult a forecaster’s job must be with a winter like we had in Boston last year?  Showing concern and empathy for their viewers when they have to say something like, “We will probably see another 21 inches of snow in the next 24 hours.”  Their eyes are screaming, “We live for this!  So cool!  This is why I went into meteorology!  Epic weather!”

This week was epic for our builders.  The wood for framing was delivered last Saturday.  The foreman was here to make sure it was placed close enough to the work spot so they didn’t spend the next several days carrying lumber rather than fabricating it.  “Framing starts Monday!  It’s supposed to be 85 degrees!”  He was ecstatic.  “Nothing I like better than building in the heat!”  I wanted to crank up the air conditioner just thinking about that.

With bright sun, four or five framers daily, and a bunch of lumber, amazing things can happen in five days: from foundation up to the the floor of the master bedroom.  I imagine the walls will be completely framed by the middle of next week.

Below are some of the week’s highlights, beginning with the view of the new family room (where the kitchen door used to be).

After two days of framing… double-hung windows will flank the TV and a row of narrow stationary windows will allow more light into the room above the TV.  May need strong shades for morning TV watching.

After two days of framing.  Our current – and still functioning – kitchen is behind the insulated walls.  Fly-away beam still supporting the house.

The truck below was delivering stone for the patio wall.  Yes, I asked to drive the 3-wheeled forklift.  No, I didn’t.  “Liability.”

Cool contraption!  The forklift tines load right into the slot at the back of the truck.  And hydraulics pick the machine up, raising the wheels off the road.

After three days of framing.  The bay windows are framed in AND the fly-away beam is gone!  Permanent corner supports and cross beams replace that temporary support.

Picture on Day 3 of framing: Where the patio will be from the walk-out basement.  We are recycling the old steel spiral staircase from the original deck; that will provide access from the drive to the patio.  Wall blocks waiting on a pallet.

After four days of framing, 1st floor is framed, including the walls.

After five days of framing, bay window framed, new entry door framed.  Under blue tarp is new framing for kitchen window.  (We may get a lot of rain this weekend – tarp is protecting exposed insulation.)

Picture on Day 5 of framing: First row of patio wall blocks, each one 8”x 12” x 18,” made the patio feel too small.  There would only be three feet between the door and the spiral staircase.  Back to the drawing board. We need to widen the patio to make more room for the staircase.  A mini-excavator will come in next week.  If it’s the same driver as the big CAT, I won’t ask to drive it.  I know the answer.  :)


On Friday, I nearly got to drive a CAT digger. After dropping the boys off at school, I came home, parked on the street, then watched as the digger maneuvered with amazing precision excavating our basement. The driver saw me, idled down the machine, and said, “Do you wanna come in?” with a hand motion toward him.

“YEAH!” I nodded wide-eyed as I dropped my purse and keys on the ground and headed toward the cab. How cool would it be to drive an International 1486 tractor and a CAT digger all in one week?

Then, I got the look. Like I was a crazy woman. “I meant do you want to get your car in...” The gleam in my eye was quickly extinguished with those words. No, I want to drive the digger. Then, the word “liability” was tossed around.

Later that day, after he had pushed and pulled the two gi-normous boulders to where I wanted them, I waved him down. “You know, I think those boulders would look better at the back of the lot. I don’t really like them here.”

“Awwww… are ya kiddin’ me?” There was anything but excitement in his eyes, and I got the crazy-woman look again.

"Yeah, I just don't think they look as good as I thought they would here."

"I don't know if I can get those over there..."

"I'm kidding.”


I nodded.

I think he's ready for the next big dig gig.

Happy Hump Day…

The Fireplace Addition: Demo Done, Excavating Completed, Foundation Set & Framing Begins Today

Before the details, we picked the right builder: Black Hawk Builders.  A crew has been here five days a week since the demo started.  The same foreman has been here every single day.  Work is progressing faster than we could have every anticipated.  The site is clean at the end of every day.  They are a great group of guys to work with: They are responsive and courteous.  Plus, they all have a great sense of humor.  You need that around here. These are just a few of my observations about this process so far.

Builders are not late.  They arrive at 7 a.m. and work until 3:30 p.m.  If they are really excited about a job – say excavating or framing – they arrive well before 7 a.m. and pace a little bit before they can start making noise at the stroke of seven.

Given this, I have learned to get dressed rather than write in my unmatched pj’s early in the morning.  I believe I had stripes and flowers going this particular morning as the beginning of our deck demo happened outside my living room window.  Fortunately, I am experienced in crouch-running away from windows.

Below, a before and an after shot of the deck demo.  On the after shot, I had put a note on the door “Please use front door.”  Laughable.  Within 24 hours of posting it, there was no choice BUT to use the front door.

This will be the third addition to our house over the course of its life since 1880.  One addition converted a small porch into more kitchen space.  Not concerned with a level floor, those builders left a kitchen floor that was four inches higher on the right compared to the left.  The right-hand side of the kitchen was a crawl space.  That had to come out for excavation to start.  Below, is a shot of the house with excavation in-process.  The fly away beam to the right is supporting the house.  The crawl space is gone.

Our coffee  brewer is on the side where the kitchen is hanging in mid-air.  Brutal surprise on 32-degree mornings walking barefoot from an insulated 68-degree tile floor to a 32-degree tile floor for a cup of coffee.

Below are before and after pictures of our kitchen preparing for opening up the exterior wall.  This whole wall, with the door and flanking windows, will come down once the addition is up.  The fireplace will be in the added family room.

If you click on the picture above (taken from the same angle as the other pictures above it), the “little” piece of wood in the bottom left corner is the end of the fly away beam that extends outside and supports the house.  It comes into the kitchen about 6 – 8 feet.

These boulders were excavated and set permanently as landscaping highlights.  It was either that or pay for them to be jack-hammered so they could be loaded into a dump truck.  Orange cone is a full-size cone like the ones you see around road construction.  My mom is envisioning a hosta garden around the boulders.  Next year’s project.

Below, foundation is set for the basement. It cured last week.  There will be two windows along the east wall and on the back wall, a walk-out to a small patio.

Today, April 16th, the framing marathon begins.

Living the Can of Worms Theory

Proving the can-of-worms theory to be true, last fall a contractor was looking at the back of our house to get a feeling for where the fireplace addition would go.  He stared at our 100-year-old barn then turned to me and said, “It’s none of my business, but do you know your barn has serious structural issues?” Indeed, the steep roof was spooning and the eaves were bowing out.  Before we started the fireplace project, we had an internal skeleton structure built in the barn loft, but with the help of a contractor, that only took a week.  It should be good for another 100 years, and now we have formally started the fireplace addition.

On April 3rd, the second day of excavation, the foundation crumbled under a corner of the house where it shouldn't have.  A big post is supporting the corner so the roof doesn't collapse.  The floors are on some other support system.   Apparently the use of mortar wasn't deemed necessary in 1880 when the house was built.  One rock was removed by hand from the foundation and the stones simple rolled away.  Kind of like the end of the game Jenga.

There should be a new corner wall of support tomorrow.  Meanwhile, the digger continued excavating our new basement, which will be under the fireplace addition.  And, as I write this, the boys are sleeping in our room on the futon, away from the corner supported by the wooden post.

A Can of Worms

We have passed the demolition stage and are now in full excavation mode at our house with The Beginning of a Fireplace.  It’s taken several years to put this plan in motion, but it’s finally happening. Our hesitancy in jumping into this fireplace project stems from a leaky faucet.

The bathroom faucet started to leak while we had guests visiting one summer.

A few weeks later, we found a new faucet and Bill set out to install it.

But the old faucet was solidly glued onto the pink sink.

The only way to get the faucet out was to take the sink out.

But the sink was firmly glued to the tiled vanity top.

The tiles in the vanity top broke when the sink came out.

With a new faucet, the same pink sink (no, we weren't lucky enough for THAT to break), a new tiled countertop, and a new backsplash, we had functional a bathroom sink -- four months later.

We are all too familiar with the can-of-worms theory.

The Beginning of a Fireplace

Planning the move from the Midwest to the Northeast seven years ago, we made a list of what we really wanted in a house: to be close to work, to have enough bedrooms, and to have wood-burning fireplace.  Then, we found a barn and bought the house that came with it. Since then, we’ve been working out how to get that fireplace.  Bill nor I relished the idea of moving again.  We bought at the top of the market in 2005; we like our neighbors a lot; and we like our location.  Plus, we need our barn.

Three years ago we sat with an architect and drew up fireplace plans.  Then pushed them to the back burner.  Last spring we started again and came up with Fireplace Plan II.  Then we looked for a builder last fall.  Finally, two weeks ago we started work on the fireplace.

And the first step in adding a fireplace to the house?

Why, plant a 30-foot dumpster under the window of the barn loft and start chucking things out of the loft over the rail, of course!

It can only get more interesting from here as we work toward celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary roasting s’mores over a fire in our new fireplace come October.