A lot of clunking and banging is a good thing

In things electrical, George seems to have most of the circuit box put back together, and Russell has temporarily reconnected the motion detector and glass break connector to the security system so we could make sure that’s all working before the walls get hidden behind sheetrock.

The small rathole where the old vent duct exited is now filled in, but now there’s a big raccoon hole where the new vent duct will exit, but Russell kindly put a wire mesh screen over that one, so the raccoons will have to work at getting in. Russell’s also filled in the various holes in the subfloor, and he says we’re about a day away from the rough inspection. Place those bets now.

The cats have really made the apartment theirs. Here was the scene I found last night: we’re standing over the recliner, Gjetost is on the seat, and Norton is on the ottoman. I took this with my cell phone, so it’s not the greatest photo in the world.

Another one of those days

So Russell and George were both supposed to start around 10 and work together all day to tie up all the loose ends and get ready for rough inspection by, say, Tuesday. What really happened is that George came around shortly before 11, pulled all the spiffy new circuits into the circuit box and hooked some of them up to breakers, and left shortly after 1. George asked me to have Russell call his mobile phone when he showed up. Russell never showed up.

Coffee was served.

In other culinary news, I hardboiled some eggs outside on the camp stove for breakfast today and tomorrow, finished the last of the grilled pork chops for lunch, and wonder what I’m going to call dinner. So far it’s looking like pistachios and some Two Buck Chuck.

I leave Friday night for another week on the East coast (company headquarters in North Carolina). If the rough inspection really happens while I’m gone, and it passes, then I owe Jon the next big chunk of money. Since I won’t be here to hand him the check, I guess I’ll write the check, hide it somewhere, and after receiving the good news, tell Jon where he can find it.

However, I’ll bet a pint of fine microbrew upon our next meeting(s) that rough inspection doesn’t happen while I’m gone. Any takers? Hit that “Comments” link. This wager is open to any and all who think they’ll get a chance to drink the beer with me. Paul D: does your pump like {whirr click click burp!} beer, or would I have to try the dreaded Osmolite?

Better than bupkes

What I thought would get accomplished today, as of 3pm: bupkes.

What has actually gotten accomplished today, as of 5:40pm:

  • Jon delivered the custom duct
  • We chatted about various details
  • We agreed on change orders for the extra plumbing work and three extra lights
  • George (who still feels crappy) arrived around 4pm and started working on his list

George is still banging away at stuff, and I’m on my way out the door to go have dinner with kind friends who have taken pity on me in my kitchenlessness: Jon (the very) and Kyla.

Prodigal blog children

My blog-heros Kimberly and Paul of http://gopaul.blogspot.com fame have described me and Kimberly’s sister as their blog children, since we were both inspired to start our blogs after becoming addicted to theirs. Yesterday, as Kimberly describes in her blog, Paul accused us both of misbehaving, since neither of us have come anywhere close to adhering to Kimberly’s post-a-day rule.

Guilty as charged.

I have two main excuses: one, I’m too darned busy just surviving here in the construction zone, and two, not that much seems to be happening sometimes. Oh, sure, George and Jon and sundry others are here most days at least for parts of the day, and they bang and clunk and run loud power tools, and they certainly look busy, but unless I look closely it’s hard to see a lot of the progress. Compared to the initial shock of demolition and some of the more dramatic changes like the sudden disappearances and reappearances of walls, the transition from empty gangboxes (or whatever they call those sites of future switches and outlets) to wired gangboxes or the disappearance of a hood duct is pretty subtle.

I suppose I really ought to try harder to post every single day, though, since the agonizingly slow pace of things from the homeowner’s perspective is a huge part of the gestalt.

You, gentle reader, play a part in this drama. Knowing that I have an audience helps me make time to write updates. Papa Paul of Little Faith has already reprimanded me for not keeping my promise (logged in a comment on their blog earlier today) of posting tonight. I find this strangely gratifying, if hasty. At least as gratifying was receiving a greeting comment from a crossover reader. And here I am, posting away!

So, here are the changes I’ve been able to discern since 27 June:

George has wires running everywhere. There are going to be outlets in pairs and foursies all over the place (be still my beating heart!), including a pair at the bar in case the blender or somesuch beast decides to live there, and we came up with a very sensible plan for switches:

  • Just inside the bar wall (at the opening into the kitchen/dining room) will be switches for the overhead lights in the kitchen (recessed, aimable low voltage halogen floods), the under-counter flourescent lights (they’re flourescent because code requires flourescent lights in kitchens, and Jon sagely points out this is the least aesthetically-offensive way to meet the letter if not spirit of that law), and the suspended fixture over the dining room table (the one I installed in the old dining room shortly after moving in and deciding that even a hole in the ceiling was better than the atrocious plastic faux-Tiffany chandelier that came with the house).
  • On the right side of the bar will be a switch for puck lights inside the cabinet over the bar, which will have glass doors and shelves and be full of glassware.
  • On the backsplash to the right of the stove will be a switch for the recessed floods over the breakfast bar/buffet. To the right of the sink will be the disposal switch, and to the left of the sink, the switch for the puck lights in the cabinets over the sink. (George suggested having them on opposite sides so that I hit the wrong one less often.)

It’s a whole lot of wiring, and getting all the boxes and cans nicely spaced, aligned, attached, and wired seems to take forever. All these wires run through holes that had to be drilled through studs and joists and are affixed with plastic staples that had to be driven all over the place.

Jon has redone the water supply lines for both sinks and raised the main sink’s drainpipe’s cleanout so that it will be inside the cabinetry and not underneath in the toe-kick zone. I suppose this is another sneaky detail caused by my not being satisfied with the world standard counter height of 30-36″ and instead wanting nice, high 37″ countertops–it means that my toekicks need to be that much taller. (Actually I wanted 38-39″ countertops, but Jon talked me down to 37″ by pointing out a million fussy ramifications of getting the counters up to the ergonomically-ideal several inches below elbow height. I had no truck with arguments about ADA requirements, though: nobody in a wheelchair has any business buying a house in the hills with a steep driveway and a front door that’s 25 steps up.)

George has ripped out the old vent’s duct (leaving, temporarily) another nice entrance for curious raccoons and rats, and he’s ripped out the blocking between the joists where the cabinets over the peninsula used to hang from the ceiling.

A kitchen sink and bar sink are now loitering in the old dining room. I’ve picked out faucets (I think) and Jon is going to order them. (Single-handle, single-hole Euro style, of course. I’d prefer a brushed/satin finish, but that adds a ridiculous amount to the sticker price, so unless his supplier adds a less ridiculous amount, I might settle for ordinary chrome.)

I’ve ordered and received the pot rack (a 54″ bar that will hang from the ceiling in front of the vent, so that pots can dwell in the otherwise-wasted space over the skirt of the vent), and I’ve spent a long time on the phone with the pot rack company trying to find out which special shortest-possible mounting hooks I need to order to replace the standard 8″ long hooks that would perfectly position my omelet pans to bruise my forehead. I thought eight-foot ceilings were pretty standard, but I guess they’re considered “low” to the makers of pot racks.

A sheetrock guy came over, eyeballed the place, and gave Jon a price.

Jon and George managed to convey to me how nontrivial that wall is. You’d think that some studs, some wires, a pipe, the stove-side’s slate tile, and the bar side’s cabinetry panel would be about it, but no! Enter those pesky building codes. Both sides also need a layer of sheetrock (under the tile or wood panel) for fire-safety purposes. There’s all kinds of hoorah to support the granite bar countertop, too: a plywood base of this, a lip of that, some brackety framey things, and the whole mess should either nail down into the studs or bolt up through the studs (not sure who won that argument and glad I don’t need to care).

I think that’s about it. Didn’t seem like much until I started writing it all out.

Meanwhile, I’m getting a little more accustomed to camping in my house. It’s a lot like Dubya being President–both benefit from low expectations.

Last Monday I grilled a giant package of pork chops, chopped some vegetables into a five pound bag of prewashed salad greens, and dug through my plastic crates until I’d found enough ingredients for a passable vinaigrette. Most of my dinners since then have consisted of a giant salad with some cold, sliced grilled pork and a glass of wine. This has been satisfying, if boring, and passably convenient.

This weekend, I went all out and made scrambled eggs on the campstove for both me and David (my housemate and the cats’ doting uncle). It doesn’t sound like much, but we both commented on how civilized it felt to be eating a hot, homemade breakfast.

I’m not sure what my next big culinary project will be. I leave for another weeklong business trip on Friday, so maybe I’ll just scrape by with leftovers, one or two dinners out, and some PowerBar-shaped objects.

Washing dishes in the tiny bathroom sink and trying not to start a draining-rack avalanche continues to be a huge drag. I’m getting more used to dumping coffee grounds in the toilet but am looking forward to having a disposal again someday.

Paper plates are for the birds. I’m just about ready to dig through my boxes for a few real plates, even though I’ll have to wash them.

I’m not sure what it says about me that the dishrack’s census on Sunday morning included one fork and five wine glasses, but I’m pretty sure that nobody who’s been through a kitchen project like this would judge me.

Bolt sister

I have no idea what that means, but it heads a list hanging from a nail in a stud in a wall-like structure in my would-be kitchen. This seems to be a “Honey Do” list from Jon of all the loose ends he wants George to tie up so he can schedule the “rough inspection,” which is a payment milestone for me and a hoop to jump through for Jon. Passing rough inspection seems to require that the studs, joists, beams, pipes, wires, straps, and basic structural stuff are all kosher and the bureaucrat du jour is properly placated, bribed, or bored.

Jon seems to think this inspection is about a week away. Jon says all he needs to do is run a copper pipe for the gas line to the new stove location and install ductwork [May I interrupt myself here to comment that it’s really hard to type on a laptop while you have a cat snuggling against your hands and preening herself over your trackpad?] for the hood. You wouldn’t think running a duct would be any big deal, but because I can’t be satisfied with a normal stove and insist on getting the giant commercial-style 36″ stove with burners like rocket-engines and a grill that will incinerate steaks indoors in mere minutes, I also need the giant commercial-style hood vent (Vent-A-Hood of course!), which requires a minimum 10″ round duct to the great outdoors. However, while my joists are the necessary 12″ apart, they are not the necessary 10″ deep, so Jon had to have a custom duct made that has the largest rectangular profile that will fit the joist bays.

In there’s that list for George. I reproduce that list here verbatim, in all its lovely mysteriousness:

  • Bolt sister
  • Block ABS
  • Strap copper
  • Ext wall blocking
  • Patch exterior wall
  • Telephone
  • Block corner of skirt/DR
  • Nailers to DR transition (cut rock)
  • Header straps
  • Extend blocking in front of header
  • Toekick plate in header wall
  • Hookup CB BX
  • Wirestrip/mudrings
  • (R) old nails throughout
  • Patch subfloor
  • Wire DR cans
  • Staple wire

George also thinks this is about a week’s worth of work, but he didn’t come in today (he’s fighting off some awful chest/cold thing, too), so I guess that one week of contractor time turns into about two weeks of calendar time.