Category Archives: House and home

All our stuff in one place

Our stuff arrives from North CarolinaBob and Gena are true champions. They have been kind to us way above and beyond the call of duty. They arrived in Centralia with all our stuff from North Carolina Friday evening. All of us, including their daughter Bonnie, went to the McMenamin’s Olympic club to celebrate–the weather cooperated wonderful as we were able to sit outside and talk and talk.

We made arrangements for two guys to come help us unload the truck. We got unloaded in about three hours. After two years of taking care of parents and living in apartments, we are grateful to have all our stuff in one place and to sleep in our own bed in a house of our own and not an apartment. After everything was out of the truck, Kelly arrived from Seattle while Bob and I ran the truck to the U-Haul center and returned the appliance piano dollies to the local rental store. Bob, Gena, Lorena, Kelly and I sat out on the deck, ate fresh cherries Kelly brought to us and enjoyed the sun.

It was one of those moment to realize it is great to be alive in this time and place.

Kitchen remodel: Cabinet drawers and doors installed

Doors and draws in kitchen #1Mark came up to meet the granite guy who was here to measure the installed cabinets so he can cut the granite. It is a little bit of an odd shape, but he is pretty sure he can get it out of one piece. Mark installed all the cabinet doors, drawers and all three cutting boards. In addition, we were able to get the clothes washer and dryer pushed into place in the laundry room (see below). We left the cardboard in place so we do not mess up the floor as we move stuff in and out. The rest of the pictures are of what the cabinets look like with new stuff added. The appliances should get here next week and the granite should be complete by the end of the week. I am not sure it will all go that fast, but we can surely hope.

Doors and draws in kitchen #2Doors and draws in kitchen #5Doors and draws in kitchen #4Doors and draws in kitchen #3

People I met at Starbucks for a 60 minute conversation — hauling stuff from Raleigh

Bob, waiting in the train stationOur friends, Bob and Gena took a trip we really want to replicate or at least a copy very closely someday. They took the train from Centralia to Seattle and then on down to the airport where they caught a plane to Atlanta to spend a few days with family there. They followed that up with a drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains to Raleigh to pick up all the stuff that has been in storage since we moved out of our house there to help take care of failing and slowing-down parents in Oregon and Texas. We are very grateful to Bob and Gena. The reality is that I just met them face-to-face one time a few months back at Starbucks just because they were kind enough to invite a newcomer from church for a cup of coffee. They are friends of friends and family, retired and kind enough to take a long trip back to the East Coast to pick up all the stuff we did not move out of our house to bring it out to Centralia. It is STILL way too much stuff even though we threw away a lot.

These are the two pictures that have Bob and Gena catching the train to the airport in Seattleme envious–the train pictures. Lorena and I really want to take advantage of the fact that we live in a town with an Amtrak station that goes to Seattle and Portland–both of them places we want to go. The flew to Atlanta–a great town where I lived for less than a year, but even that was enough to give me a great love for that town and the friends I made there.

After the drive to Raleigh, they looked at our storage unit and thought they could do the whole thing with a 20 foot truck. They were glad they stuck with the 26 foot truck because they barely had enough room for their luggage–a sad reminder that we have too much stuff by at least 13 feet. We are going to work on that. The good news though, is that a lot of the stuff they are bringing is books and furniture for the porch and other places that we need sorely after living a low-rent existence in apartments for two plus full years. There is a definite up side to all that (no lawn mowing, appliance fixing or property taxes), but we are ready to have our own house.

And for all this we are thankful to Bob and Gena for their efforts to help new friends above and beyond the call of duty. I hope I get to do that some day.

U-Haul truck driven by Bob and Gena from Raleigh to Centralia

Kitchen remodel: The lazy susan cabinet

Back corner of the kitchenThe cabinet designer Mark uses has an amazingly broad range of cool things to have in a kitchen. There is a lazy susan that allows for the use of the normally difficult area beneath the counter in a corner (see the picture below). It makes that space way more accessible and just about perfect for bigger pots and pans. The “two trash cans in a slide out drawer” is amazingly useful as are the suggestion for ergonomically exceptional placement of pullout cutting boards. The big opening on the left of the image is, of course, for the refrigerator.

Moving the ceiling lights in the kitchenThe problem Mark saw when the cabinets went in is the placement of the lights too close to the cabinets. He opened them up and will move them to a better place sometime this morning–a minor foible.

Lorena and I have a date with our friends, Harvey and Gladys, later this afternoon. The last coat of finish goes down on the floor then, too. We expect to be in the house (probably with one of the builders) late this evening. The smell might be a little strong for a few days, so we might spend one more night in a hotel, but we can hardly wait to get there.

Tomorrow, I will try to put up a few more pictures. We are supposed to pick out the granite, back splash and sinks in Olympia tomorrow, too. Hard choices.

Kitchen remodel: The vitrina

China cabinet and coffee nookWe are completely slammed with the move (drove to Tempe to spend a few days with Christian, went to a church event in Casa Grande for four days, drove from Tempe to Bakersfield yesterday, then from Bakersfield do Central Point, Oregon today), but I thought I should put up a few images of the work Mark and his team has been doing on the house. We particularly like what he is doing with the wall across from the island. It is a narrow cabinet, but has glass doors and a “nook” with a granite shelf for coffee and hot water (for tea) pots. Eventually, the door to the right in the picture will feature a glass window, too.

One thing that happened that was pretty frustrating is that the lights above the cook top, ovens and cabinets on the opposite side of the room from the coffee nook were too close to the cabinets.

Mark said and I quote, “…they looked really, really bad.”

He is such a consummate professional that he is bringing the electrician up tomorrow to reposition the lights. It is a long drive and well above and beyond the call of duty, but we are very grateful for it. A little bit of a setback, but to say we are pleased with the work so far would be a wild understatement. We have a lot more pictures which I will put up as time permits.

Kitchen remodel: The cabinets arrive

Cabinets arrive on Mark's trailerMark brought the cabinets to the house on his trailer this morning. I was worried because forecasted a 90% chance of rain. Mark told me to chill out though (no pun intended) because there was a zero percent chance of rain until 1:00 PM and, as usual, he was right. We are very excited to see how it looks. They got everything off the truck and into the garage about mid-morning and the path to the kitchen from the garage never goes outside, but through the laundry room so it is all good. The next thing is to figure out how to get the furniture into the house if stuff is drying or we would be in the way during the whole process. We might have to leave at least some of our stuff in the garage for awhile to wait for stuff to get finished. It is all supposed to be either finished or very close to it by the end of the month so this is a very minor inconvenience and we love to watch the work progress anyway.

Cabinets all lined up in the garage

I am not sure how far the installation will get today because there is some work that has to be done on the walls before they can start on that. Still, the cabinets should mostly be in place by the end of the weekend. I hope I am going to have time to put up some pictures, but we will mostly attending things and driving through Monday or Tuesday, after which we will be staying in the house full time (along with some of the builders, floor people, etc.).

Kitchen remodel: Hardwood floor with preliminary finish

Mark just sent me these two images of the current state of the hardwood floor. This is not the last of the finish that will go down, but the first two coats. The first image is from the living room looking into the kitchen and the second image is from the kitchen looking into the living room. It is very early in the morning because Mark hauled the cabinets up there and will be putting them in place after he does some additional work on the walls.

The kitchen floor with the first two coats of finish

The living room floor with the first two coats of finish

Leaving Texas with a wonder gift

An important new gift for our new houstOur very good friend Al stayed up very late on Thursday night before we left and built us one of his beautiful, custom birdhouse. It has TON of features:

  • The rock face on the front of the house matches the chimney on the back of the house
  • Hand sawn cedar roof
  • Aluminum roof underlayment (for better protection from the precipitation
  • Trap door at the bottom for ease of cleaning
  • Contoured roof
  • Hang-ability

Lorena and I have an excellent pair of binoculars to watch birds (big fans of the cardinals in North Carolina) and we both come from generations of bird-watching families. We always put up a bird house shortly after we move to a new place along with a humming bird feeder or two, so this is the perfect gift for us. That Al made it himself is icing on the cake. I will have a place of prominence on our back porch or in a hanger down in the yard–Lorena and I are negotiating that between each other right now.

Thank you Al and Jill (for letting him stay up late to finish this!).

Kitchen remodel: Sanding the old hardwood floor

The installation of the hardwood floor was completed yesterday. You can see the pictures here and if you notice in both pictures, just to the left of the newly installed floor is the old floor with somewhat of a yellow tint to it. Those old floors are being sanded today so when the new Swedish finish goes down, the floor in the middle of the living room will have the same look as the floor in the kitchen. We think it looks great now. There is more work on the floor today, but as soon as that is complete, other work will start and the final floor finish will go down at the very end.
Sanded hardwood floor, almost ready for the Swedish finish to go down

Kitchen remodel: Unfinished living room hardwood floor

Unfinished hardwood floor in living room #0The installation of the floor in the living room was completed today. Notice the Brazilian Cherry from around the red oak center. The red oak, actually is the same as the previously installed floor you can see at the left (bottom) edge of the image. Because the old floor still has its finish on it it has a yellowish, shiny cast. The next step is to sand away the finish from the previously installed floor so that when the new finish is put down, all of the red oak parts will appear the same. Mark mentioned (even though we think it is beautiful already) that there will be a much more striking appearance when the whole floor is finished. We are really looking forward to that.

The view below is the view from the entry to the house. Lorena and I both noted that it is a small room, but made much bigger because it is wide open to the dining room and kitchen. Well, that and the spectacular view out the windows to Mount Rainer.

Unfinished hardwood floor in living room #1

Kitchen remodel: Lights and hardwood floor install

Installing the kitchen lightsThere were quite a few parallel efforts going on yesterday at the remodel. The old window to the covered patio was removed and a door frame was put in its place. The electrician placed fifteen can lights in the ceiling on three switches to give us the bright kitchen we wanted. The hardwood floor work continued.Installing the living room hardwood floor The picture at the top left is of the electrician placing the lights. The last big image at the bottom of the post is how the kitchen appears with all the lights on. The fellow waving the axe in the living room is the same hardwood floor guy who did such a stellar job for us on the hardwood floor in Albany. The other picture of the hardwood floor shows the yellowish color (that Mark promises will go away) of the current floor against the darker color of the unfinished Brazilian Cherry that frames the living room floor to create the demarcation of Old hardwood floor vs. new hardwood floor accect in living roomthe living room from the kitchen. Next week, the feverish work pace will continue, but there will not be much to see because it mostly involves infrastructure (and maybe roof) work along with the sanding of the hardwood floor. The week after that, installation of the cabinets and the appliances will start. It is nice to have people staying in the house and others stopping by during the whole process to make sure  everything is secure and to take pictures. We should arrive just about the time the cabinets and appliances are all installed, but will be without counter-tops because it takes two weeks from the time the cabinets are installed for the granite people to come the house to make measurements, then prepare and install the granite.15 ceiling lights on three switches in kitchen

Kitchen remodel: Replacing a window with a door

Current kitchen window from inside Current kitchen window from outside

Mark started in on replacing the kitchen window that looks out on a small, covered patio with a door. The window is at the opposite end of the kitchen from the windows that look at Mount Rainier. The reason for this is that we figured this patio would be a perfect place to put a gas grill. Lorena cooks on a gas grill all year long. The deck with the view at the back of the house is not currently covered. As the house is now, to get to the little patio you have to go through two doors–one into the laundry room and a second out onto the patio. With a glass door, we will not only be able to easily get from the kitchen to the cooking patio, but we will be able to see out their very well, too–at least that is the concept.


Here is the new door frame with the window now GONE!

Kitchen remodel: Electrical gets started

Tearing down the walls to adjust and augment the electricalYesterday, Mark brought in his electrician who removed most of the drywall in the kitchen to adjust and augment the electrical infrastructure. The found the control panel for the telephone wiring. Normally we would not be interested in that at all because we have not had a land line for over a decade. Sadly, though, cable internet is not available in our neighborhood. That means we need to get DSL because I have to have pretty fast internet to be able to do my work from home. In the past, DSL generally did not mean anything really great, but I have not used it for so long that I am not sure of it current capability. The company that provides it came out and checked it before we bought the house and assured me I can reliably get the needed speeds. The electrician will wire it so we can put a wireless router by the DSL modem and hardwire the upstairs for second router to give good wireless connectivity through the whole house.

More kitchen electrical workUpdate:

Mark sent along another picture of the continuing electrical work, but also of the work that is being done on the floor in the living room. In this shot, about half of the underlayment is now in place. I understand the hardwood floor will start covering that later today or tomorrow morning. In the picture below you can see some of what someone standing at the kitchen sink will see. The best part, though, is to the left and out of the picture. It is the view of the city down the low with Mount Rainier rising above it. The new floor is scheduled to be installed and the finish removed from the rest of the hardwood floor that is already there followed by a good sanding of the whole thing. The Swedish finish will not go down until everything else is complete so we are probably about a month away from that.

View from the kitchen sink with new floor underlayment going in

Kitchen remodel: Starting on plumbing, gas, and the floor

Roughing in the kitchen plumbingMark kicked off a lot more work today on the kitchen. He found a place to position the propane tank, roughed in the plumbing for the kitchen and got the hardwood floor guy going. Tomorrow, the electrician will start. I think there must be two phases of these things. My sense is that their is additional electrical and plumbing things to do after the cabinets are in and to prepare for the appliances. Mark said the final Swedish finish goes on the floor at the very end so the only thing that happens right now is the installation of the living room floor and the sanding that needs to be done. I am wondering when the window in this photo is removed and replaced with a door.  All that, I think, has to be completed before the cabinets can be installed.

In the meantime, there Wind blows over cedar tree in Centraliawas a wind storm in Centralia that blew over a tree that might or might not (maybe Bob and Gena have an opinion–they sent us the picture) on our property. The trees are dense enough there that probably most of the trees close to our property are somewhat protected.

Apartment living is a good thing

The back yard in the spring (Centralia)Life and home ownership west of the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest generally involves a lot of lawn mowing. That is particularly true of the Willamette Valley where the climate is perfect for growing grass and the topsoil is generally around 200 feet deep. From the picture Bob and Gena sent us of the back yard, it appears Centralia is pretty prime lawn growing territory, too. So, today, I get to start calling lawn services to try to figure out how to keep the long whacked down. If I am fortunate, I will find one who I can just keep on the job.

We had company for a lot of the weekend this weekend. It dawned on us that it is a lot easier to get a small apartment ready for visitors than a big house. There are lots of trade-offs and we are ready to end our apartment living stint, but to say that we do not enjoy it would be wrong. There are no lawns to cut, way fewer utility bills, maintenance is just a phone call away, etc., etc. We are half-way through the process of lining up all our services (lawn, propane, electricity, water, internet, etc.) and it is returning to us that we have quite a bit of joy ahead of us with respect to those normal upkeep chores associated with the American dream of owning a house.

Kitchen remodel: Tape outline of island and dining room space

Footprint of the new kitchen island (that is where the sink and dishwasher are)Our friends Bob and Gena E. went over to the house yesterday to see how the work was going and reported that Mark cleaned up and left the place spotless (Thank you Mark, Bob and Gena!). I do not know whether it is a normal part of the process to put down a tape outline of where the island will sit, but it is very cool that Mark did it. He sent me these images. The image at the top left shows the placement of the cabinets that will hold the counter top. There is room for two stools between the two legs extending toward the bottom of the image and one or two more to the right of the right-most leg. The sink is planned for the angled cabinet on the left.

The red arc in the first image below shows the placement of the granite on top of the cabinets. The cabinet and sink placement of the previous kitchen only provided 7′ 6″ between the end of the cabinets on the wall and the island and the back wall of the house. That is important because that area is what passes for the houses dining room. It is a little non-traditional but features a spectacular view of the mountain. When all was said and done with the design Mark’s team put together, there was an additional foot and a half space between the end of the cabinets and the back of the house for a total of 9′ 0″ and a respectable width for a dining room.

You can also notice at the bottom of the last picture, there are some exposed joists. That is the area where the raised hardwood floor was removed. The hardwood floor is to be extended across the living room at the same level as the kitchen and dining room, but with a border of a different species of hardwood (darker) around what used to be the higher floor. This is to give it an appearance of separation. An additional benefit of a single level floor is that we can put a very long table that runs across the dining room and into the living room if we need one that long. We HAVE needed one that long in the past for Thanksgiving and other assorted get-togethers.

Placement of the granite on the island The dining room gets a foot and a half wider with the new design

Kitchen remodel: Tearing up the floor in the living room

Here are three late arriving images of the demolition of the floor in the living room. I know, that is not technically the kitchen, but there was a trip risk going from the kitchen into the living room because of the step up and it is all one big open room and floor. The first picture is taken from the kitchen looking out toward the living room. The second image is taken from the entry, the kitchen being to the left. All the windows are at the back of the house with a view of Centralia and Mount Rainier behind that. The last picture is of über-contractor/designer/kitchen-king, Mark P. using the new kitchen for its intended purpose for the first time.

Taking down the one step living room platform #1 Taking down the one step living room platform #2 First dinner in the new kitchen with Mark Prescott

Kitchen remodel: The demolition begins–DONE!!!!

Kitchen when we started in CentraliaWe were very excited that Mark P. made his way to Centralia today to start the kitchen remodel in our newly purchased (old) house. My brother, Doug, was up in Seattle so he stopped in to take a look and we scheduled him for a visit when he and his bud, Dave N., head up to Seattle for a Mariners game in July. That gives us a target date to get enough furniture together to receive some visitors! Here are the pictures Mark sent of how things are going. We are looking forward to meeting his partner in crime who, I am sure will show up in future pictures as the project progress. For reference, the image to the top left is how the kitchen looked before they started and a link where I discuss that start of the whole project. That is Mark P., our contractor (highly recommended–this is our second kitchen remodel with him–pop me an email if you want contact info).

The images below are the start of the demolition of the old kitchen. Actually we are taking out a raised hardwood floor to make it the same level as the kitchen and, particularly so that people will not trip when they are in the house. I will post more of that later as the remodel moves along.

Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #1 Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #2

Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #3 Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #4

Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #5 Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #6

Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #7 Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #8

Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #9 Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #10

The kitchen is GONE!!!

Centralia kitchen demolition -- first day #11

Sometimes it is better just to stay in bed — April Fool’s Day edition

April Fool's Day--it is better just to stay in bedWhat with the house purchased, but the move still a month away, I am beginning to realize I may have made a very bad move. The anticipation of a move, I think, is worse than the move itself. Once you are in the truck, driving what is an absolutely beautiful drive through West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Oregon on the way to the beautiful Washington state, all is good. I LOVE those drives and have done a lot of them. Going on to a new job, a new home and, in this particular case, old, lifetime friends and new lifetime friends, it really does not get much better than this. That said, I did not feel a whole lot more energetic than Kiwi the lone, twin cat sister when I awoke this morning.

After a day of solving sickle cell disease for the world and hanging out with my bride, the amazing Lorena, I have decided life is not so bad after all, even if I am going to have to load and unload a truck or two during these upcoming transitions. In the mean time, I am staying in bed as much as possible. Kiwi is wise that way and I need to acknowledge that.