Pieces of Wood in Orderly Rows

Michael here.

Things are going to really start happening now, seems like. The kitchen cupboards were delivered today, appliances get delivered tomorrow, and the wood stoves should show up in the next week or so. The water’s hooked up but not turned on, the phone lines should be hooked up by the end of the week (same number as before, the plan is anyway), and the idea is still to be able to start moving things in around Feb. 1, we shall see.

Lots of last large details are starting to come together. The doors are up and done except for one small detail. Our news doors close completely, and close easily, and even lock, will wonders never cease.


The front of the house is tipped back from vertical now that it’s on a level foundation. That means the door, which is thick and very heavy, wants to open rather a lot– you can just let it go, and it opens itself– not strong enough to knock over someone standing just inside, but undeniably, the door opens itself. Another quirk for the house, a new one. The tilt isn’t nearly as severe as it appears in the above picture, luckily. The perspective is off in this shot, giving the door an odd familiarity that I realize is an echo of my sister Sara’s favorite old painting, Ivan Albright’s surrealist “That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do”.

Here’s the front door from inside:


The braces are still natural because for some inexplicable reason the maker forgot to plug the screwholes before they shipped it out. We called them and had plugs sent, I don’t think they ever showed up but the McKernon guys cut some plugs and set them and sanded them for us, which was nice. So we still have to stain the braces and varnish them but there’s no hurry for that.

Here’s the back door, which is also a 9-day wonder to us because it “closes” and “latches”, we feel like we’ll be living in a palace.




The pine floors are down in both the ell


and the kitchen/dining area




But have yet to be polyurethaned, that will be soon, has to be soon, I guess.

See that lonely innocent-looking vent way off in the middle distance? That’s where the kitchen cupboards will be and that vent is right where the baking table will be inset between two cupboards, and this is the first thing in the whole darn project that we just had to go to the guys and say “Sorry this isn’t going to work, it needs to change”. There’s been plenty of give and take before various things did (or didn’t) get done, but this is the first time we’ve had to say “nope” about something that was already over and done with. The change isn’t trivial, as it means trashing a good sized swath of tongue-and-groove flooring and redoing it, but we both agreed that we didn’t want to be standing on a register right in the prime cooking area, and who wants hot air blowing straight up at you while you cook, wafting your hair while you try to measure sugar.

The guys understood but also were worried about getting heat to that part of the house, in spite of our assurances that the house is going to be way warmer than it was. Everyone kind of came up with the idea at the same time of simply moving the vent closer to the wall, so it’d be directly under the baking table (which has an open-slatted bottom). So they still have to pull a fair amount of floor and redo it, but it means that now the vent will be hidden, but still there supplying heat.

One word about the floors, they used traditional square-head nails, which we didn’t expect and were very happy to see, it looks very nice.

A lot of doors have been rearranged, mostly stripped, and reused; even in cases where doors have gone back in their original locations they’ve been planed and trued and rehung. The door in the spare room upstairs (which used to open up to nothing, in the ell (was in fact nailed shut), and which is now a closet) has been given a new lease on life due to a really sweet trim job:


Other doors have been treated as nicely. In a couple cases doors have been widened with additional pine (who knew you could widen doors?) to fit a given jamb. We’ll be painting the doors oursleves, down the line.

The porch ceiling is finished, with beadboard, more pieces of wood in orderly rows.




Window trim is nearly all in place.


Note that the roof rack is still on the car not from the trip to Michigan for Christmas, but from Cape Cod, back before the October Rains started. For folks not local, October was the rainiest on record and the house, which was quite open then, took a beating, and a fair amount of water damage (picture glass globe ceiling fixtures with lightbulbs still in but filled with brackish water, like neglected fishbowls). McKernon ended up replacing the ceilings in two of the upstairs rooms, and most of one of the downstairs rooms, because of damage. This came in under the original contract, so we got some new ceililngs for free. On the other hand the old ones were plaster and the new ones are wallboard, we’d rather have kept the plaster but these are new and smooth, so it’s all about trade-offs.

For all the horrors of the October rains, December and January have been near-record warm and snow free. Stinks for everyone but us (skiing and skating have been nonexistent) but we’ll take it because it makes work so much easier. We haven’t even had to have the driveway plowed, and have been able to get into the containers as needed without shovelling, and it’s only been below zero twice I think and nowhere near the -20’s we usually get; I don’t think there hasn’t been a day that hasn’t got to at least 15 degrees, and often more like 35 or even 40. Amazing luck, so far. We’ll see how things go, it’s unlikely to last but that’s ok even if it means moving stuff back in during what might turn out to be the only real cold snap of the whole winter.

The end beam in the ell– when they put it back together someone must have thought it was going to be hidden because they bolted up a really ugly piece of lumber, it’s the horizontal piece right above the window:


the cosmetic fix is to take one of the leftover beams, cut it into a “L” shape, and fix that over the ugly but structually-supporting member, and will look nice. That should be done pretty soon too (geez we’re running out of “pretty soon”, it all seems so weird). Here’s the one that’s going in place:


Aha, it’s starting to drizzle. Rain at 10.00 on a January night in Vermont, see what I mean?

So I guess for now that leaves the floor in the new bedroom. We went for a “midnight” blue stain that turned out to be completely different from the swatch, which was obviously more grey than blue, there’s no grey at all in the Real Thing. That and the fact that the floor is knotty pine (which meant that the stain took thinly except on the knots, and so ended up very unevernly coated), it looked kind of shockingly odd:


We talked about what to do, maybe go with paint instead, or try to sand it down and start over with something else. In the end the color grew on us though, but the thin and uneven nature of the color still looked like heck, so we opted to have the guys put on a 2nd heavy coat of the same stain, we had to pay for the extra hours that took, but we think its going to look good. Not what we had in mind, but we think it’ll look pretty cool once it’s down and polyurethaned.


And anyway, it’s going to be a heck of a lot better than the ell in its old state, or for that matter how we live now. We thank our lucky stars for the rental, it’s worked out great, but 3 people + 3 animals + 5 months + 1 main room = ENOUGH.


This is kind of particularly messy with all the christmas/hanukkah presents still laying around, but it’s a fair representation of how things get around here if we don’t keep on top of cleaning. Anyone who knows Rebecca’s (and for that matter my) love of orderliness can imagine how ready we are for this to finally be done. See that in the back right corner? That’s a big beach umbrella and its anchor tube. As a rule we don’t store that in our main living area.

It’s time and it’ll happen quickly enough. Hold onto your bandwidth everybody because the next three or four weeks are going to see a lot of big changes, biggest since the move itself, and we’ll be bloggin’ it all.

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