More miscellaneous than most posts

Blog-hero Kimberly had an unwritten rule about posting to the blog every day. I say “had” because she wrote about the rule, so I don’t think we can consider it unwritten anymore. This rule sets the bar way too high for me, but tonight I’m making a valiant effort to overcompensate for past negligence.

Today I made a special effort to be a better home camper. I made myself a nice double espresso this afternoon, and in my caffeinated state I managed to cook an actual supper, sort of: I heated some instant Swiss cheese fondue (the real thing would have been better, but let’s be real–my nutmeg is two crates down in the hallway, I have no idea where my fresh garlic would be, if I have any, and I think my cheese grater is three boxes down in my guest room) on one burner of my camp stove and hard-boiled some eggs on the other for upcoming breakfasts. Meanwhile, I hacked up a crown of broccoli to use as dippers (cubes of sourdough bread would have been better, but I’m doing the Atkins thing, so broccoli it is) and poured a nice glass of tepid Two Buck Chuck chardonnay (chilling it would have taken forethought).

Pause to reflect on the irony of how acquiring a “gourmet kitchen” has reduced my concept of fine dining to a pot of lukewarm instant fondue and a 40¢ glass of wine.

Cynicism aside, construction is proceeding apace. The widening of the doorway between old and new dining rooms is done, the wiring seems to be mostly done, the wall between bar and kitchen is gone, and the stud wall for the back of my peninsula is done.

Some comments on the recent batch of pictures (One month in):

That back wall is, as George puts it, “strange.” The black part that goes about to chest-height is the foundation (my house is built into a steep hill). Above the foundation you’ll see two ex-windows. The windows were above eye-level, let in approximately a hundredth of a candela of light and looked out onto dead leaves, dirt, and the occasional napping deer, so it’s no great loss that they’ve since been walled in and will end up behind cabinets. Why they were there in the first place is anybody’s guess. Notice also the two-by-fours bolted to the foundation. Why are they there? To make room for pipes and wires behind the sheetrock. George wonders why they didn’t just build a normal stud wall in front of the foundation. I wonder why the studs are in arbitrary, uneven, seemingly haphazard locations. The newer wood you see is where George has finished the strange job the original contractor started, and where he has extended the wall to the new edge of the kitchen.

Widening the opening between rooms turned out to be quite a bit more complicated than we originally thought, so that’s just now getting finished up. There are still some holes in the floor where the old pipes and supports were, so currently I can see into my crawl space and must hope that the rats who live down there don’t think to come up for a visit.

No, I’m not sending my cats down to hunt the rats. Neither of them has any experience with rodents, one of them lacks front claws, and I don’t care to risk either of them getting bubonic plague, rabies, hanta virus, slivers, into the fresh supplies of rat poison, or lost. They’re sequestered upstairs in my master bedroom/bathroom suite, which for the time being I’m calling their apartment. They seem to be adjusting fairly well, no longer expressing themselves on my bedding, and merely burrowing under the duvet when the banging and power tools get too loud. We’ve had beautiful weather lately (sorry, Dad, but I’m not going to go into any further detail–weather here is just not that interesting), so a lot of the time, I’ve been able to leave both deck doors open. They enjoy napping by the screen doors and smelling the great outdoors, and I enjoy not smelling their two litter boxes.

Today while hanging out with the cats in their apartment, I let them wander out onto the front deck for their afternoon naps, which they seemed to think was a wonderful treat. Gjetost also enjoyed a vigorous spider-hunting expedition. She loves hunting bugs. Occasionally when her quarry escapes to too high a spot on the wall, I’ll help out by hoisting her up, and invariably she finishes off the bug before realizing that she needs to wriggle out of my hands and get back in control of her locomotion.

Yes, my bedroom has two decks. It’s a strange house–probably not the house for everyone, but I love it. For those of you who haven’t been here yet, (a) what are you waiting for?, and (b) there’s a roomy deck off the bedroom on the front side of the house with a Meyer lemon tree that I’m trying not to kill through excessive benign neglect, and there’s a smallish deck off the bathroom on the backside of the house. That funny little deck is one of the reasons I had to buy the house–haven’t you always wanted a bathroom with a deck? It’s crazy but wonderful. The big sliding glass doors make it feel a little like showering outdoors (without the weather). My bedroom has a slanted ceiling that’s ten feet high in front and something like twenty-six feet high in back, with high windows in back and tall, high windows on the side wall behind my bed, so that when I lie in bed, what I see through all these windows are trees, stars, and sometimes the moon. It’s pretty spectacular when there’s a full moon shining through one of the high windows. When I moved in, I was one of those people who couldn’t sleep in anything less than complete darkness. It’s a good thing I’ve gotten over that.

Anyway, this house is up in the woodsy, canyony Oakland hills, and the design of the house is all about bringing the outside in. Long ago I decided to play up this concept by replacing the FUBAR flooring in both upstairs bathrooms with Indian peacock slate: rough-hewn stone of many muddy, watery, swirly, ex-river-bed-ish colors. I plan to have Jon use the same tile for my foyer floor, kitchen floor, and backsplashes. He wants me to take a look at Brazilian slate. I like that, too. I think I like the Indian peacock (and continuity) better, but I’m waiting to decide until I can set both out alongside samples of the flooring (white oak, just barely stained), cabinetry (alder with a clear finish), and countertop granite (verde uba tuba).

Click that “Comments” link if you’d like to weigh in! The alder and white oak are done deals, but it’s not too late to talk me out of the uba tuba or the slate.