Looking Within

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It is interesting how we react when something goes wrong.

These past few weeks have presented a few challenges. It was a challenge for my patience when rain came into our house because our roof hadn’t been flashed and sealed properly. More likely it was the reaction of the roofer that presented the biggest test and, yet, this setback also set into motion a remarkable gift of kindness. And then there was the challenge of practicing patience and charity when confronted by unpleasantness. It has taken me these past few weeks to sort things out before I could write of them.

Florida rain is something that has to be experienced to be believed. At best it is strong. At worst it is like a fire hose directed down from the heavens. Two weeks ago we had the fire hose treatment. We had just left the parking lot of Lowe’s, having picked up a few things for our house. We sat in the car waiting until we could at least see out of the windshield before driving the mile or so to home. How great, we said, that all of our remodeling was coming to an end. Sister Swammy was coming soon and so, too, were Sue and Mary Ellen. We spoke of enjoying late nights talking in our new sun room and enjoying the pool. Imagine our surprise when, upon arriving home, we opened the door and found the pool moved from the community clubhouse to our living room. Water. Everywhere. Mercifully, the rain soon stopped.

The reaction of the roofer when we called him to report the leak and water into our home was the challenge to our patience. I hadn’t been aware that Friday afternoon signaled the end of a roofer’s work week and that there was nothing he could do. We also didn’t know that our problem was “our problem” and we’d be put onto a list.

Now, this roofer is a nice enough young fellow, I suppose. He inherited the business from his parents that had built it over a period of thirty five years into one of the areas most respected roofing contractors. I guess Sonny Boy forgot rule #1. While I may have been speechless with everything, I wasn’t finger-less. I typed an email to “mommy and daddy” (who still run the office part of the business). The following morning Sonny was at our door with a dehumidifier and a ladder. But, not a smile. Imagine! He continued to blame the leak on the sun room folks, the chimney repair folks and “whoever else” may have been near our house. To his credit, within the next few days his crew fixed the “not flashed” areas and sealed and shingled the remaining parts of the roof. No more leaks!20150812_2514

Now, the gift of kindness. We notified the sun room folks, as well as the chimney repair contractor, about our leak. After a few seconds of silence the sun room builder said, “Mr. Bill, we’re sorry this happened to you folks. The problem is in the roof. We pointed it out to the roofer (I knew this). But, we’ll fix everything. Any damage that was caused, we’ll take care of it. Don’t give it another minute’s thought.” Interestingly, it turned out that the damage was confined to some paint and baseboard (our tile floors were superbly installed with excellent adhesive and grout).

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But, the offer was made with a “worst case” scenario still possible. Ryan Hammer (what a name for a contractor!), also a young guy, (surfer, too) knows Rule # 1 very well: take care of the problem, take care of the customer.

The second recent challenge came when we met with one of the men that had painted our house a few months ago. He had been polite and diligent while working here.  So, when he asked to meet with us to discuss having started his own business, we said, sure, come on over. He explained how he and another fellow worker left their old company and started their own business. They would do everything right, he said. He then proudly showed me his new business card. The logo had an image of “The Old Rugged Cross” and below that, in bold face type, was written, “Working for God and People”. Interesting. Seconds later he made a derogatory remark against a religion, not his own, but close to me. It was like being slapped – in my own kitchen. After a minute or so I thanked him for coming and walked him to his car. I then said, “You know, …, you made a remark about people of a certain religious belief. My family is of that belief.” It seemed that he would nearly feint. He said he didn’t mean it; that he was sorry that he said it. I’m sure he was. The conversation, the business card, the remark – all have stayed and troubled me this past week. It is because I saw a glimpse of myself. It is one thing to carry a cross or a medal or a mezuzah or, whatever might be a symbol of your faith. It is another to live it. The challenge, my challenge, is to live it. Always. All ways. And, I thank that young, careless-tongued painter for reminding me of that.

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On another note, the sun room windows are being installed this week. It certainly makes the area more room-like, rather than the open space it has been these past few months. The overhead fans will be installed this coming week and we have decided to put in flooring – easy care, no carpet. We’ll probably do some type of a no- worry, vinyl wood-look that will hold up to any humidity or “accidents”.

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Our kitchen pendant lights and some additional exterior lighting has finally been hooked up, too. 20150818_2523 (768x1024)

We’ve decided, too, that the 2nd bedroom/office will be furnished with a queen sized bed so everybody staying here will be comfy. Rather than duplicating the beach cottage look of the other room this room will have a New England feel to it. It is where I will do my writing – when not otherwise occupied.

As I write this it is pouring rain. Funny, after a few leaks, both the Redhead and I keep looking around for drips…or worse. So far…no, I won’t jinx it!

But, aren’t rainy days for reading? How I miss my little library! This week, I have ordered, from Wayfair (first time), some nice looking bookshelves for my still packed books.DaVinci-MDB-Bookcase-M5926E (222x378)These shelves will go into the living room and perhaps more will be added later.

Everything is coming together! There are a few things missing. But, soon, very soon they will be here.

Will this ever get done?
Will this ever get done?

Let there be light!

At the end day
At the end of day

So, there now appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.
After a several-week setback with our sun room addition – due to the unexpected finding of wood damage to the chimney – work has again started. chimney repairsMore importantly, each phase of the remaining work has been re-coordinated to ensure everybody involved in the work was on the “same page” with what needed to be done, how it was to be done and in what sequence. Sometimes, getting several independent contractors to work together is like herding cats. But, after getting sometimes conflicting information about how to proceed with our project from each set of workers, I had had enough. I called each contractor and told them: no more texts, no more emails, no more voice mails. They were all to meet with me and each other this past Wednesday at 11:00 A.M. to figure out how to proceed. So, after dropping off The Redhead at JAX airport for her week-long visit to NYC and Connecticut, I met with the roofers, sun room installers and the chimney/stucco contractor. What a party! Up on the roof they went. When they came down 30 minutes later there was a solid plan. Of course, all this would not have been necessary had there been no discovery of the wood damage to the framing and chimney – but there was and it had to be dealt with. The lessons from all this: 1) Coordination is key. It may be inconvenient for everybody involved in a project to meet – face to face. Too bad, it must be done. For me, while I know this is all part of God’s plan for us and that this is “our house – our home” I cannot be too laid back about managing this project. 2) There is truth in the adage, kindness can sometimes be mistaken for weakness. While I will always try to be kind, I must be mindful not to appear passive when it comes to business dealings. 3) There is no substitute for face to face communication!

Counting on all of our sun room construction to be completed by mid-August and hopeful nothing new crops up, we have scheduled our House Blessing to take place on Friday, September 4th. It was hoped we could do it on Sunday afternoon, but our Pastor’s schedule is more than busy that week, especially since it is the beginning of the 450th Anniversary celebrations down in St. Augustine and the Church has many events planned. So, the blessing will be on Friday, the 4th. “Sister Swammy”, Linda, and her husband arrive here Saturday. Our Open House – celebrating the Blessing, our new house, the end of construction and a thank you to all of our new neighbors for their patience will be on Sunday the 6th.

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With our move and the remodeling and decorating of our new house now nearly finished, it’s time to focus on the next part of making “here” our home. For me, it is again finding purpose in work and in holding onto the family and friends we have and in making new friends. Ties with my “blood” family are few, the result of fate and, to some extent, choice. But, I have been blessed with “Family of the Heart”. Blood may be thicker than water. But hearts brought together by love are stronger than the power of genes.

deb and bill wed Jennie's speech 2 20140720 Redhead and The Godmother at St Augustine fort (800x600) 20141102_2049 Mary Ellen  20141113_2096 Gino

The Redhead is up in Connecticut this week visiting some of those that are Family of the Heart.  One or two of these folks may not even realize how much they mean to me. We’ll have to do something about that!

garage workspace
But, the work. I want to get back to working on some furniture. But, Lordy, it is hot in that garage! I’ll try adding a fan to cool it off a bit and see what happens. At least the garage is now cleared of all the excess boxes from our move. I’m still trying to figure out where to put my books, but the many cartons of them are stacked in a safe place out of the way. Once the sun room is completed, the wicker furniture can be removed from the garage, too, and be enjoyed again. I might even be able to park my car in the garage someday. Imagine that!

Hope to see you soon,

Bill

4th of July Reflections – happy anniversary

This weekend, in many ways, marks our one year anniversary here in Jacksonville. While it was actually the end of June last year that we arrived, it was the 4th of July when the reality of our having moved here struck us. A year ago we knew very few people here. Our world was ourselves, the beach and our beloved Lillie’s. We were determined to explore and to make this home. The night of The Fourth we went to Neptune Beach to see the fireworks. We were awed by the displays lighting up the night sky from Jacksonville Beach all the way down the coast to St. Augustine. One year later and much has changed. We have, once again, our own home. We have made several good friends. We have found a church – Blessed Trinity, which has become our spiritual home and anchor. Fr. Jhon (correct) Guarnizo, our pastor, will bless our new home once all the construction (and repairs) have been completed. We are hopeful this will be later this month. lillies We still go to Lillie’s. Katy, Lillie’s owner, will be at our house warming and blessing party. She has played a big part in making us feel so welcome here. This year we probably won’t be at the beach for the fireworks. Instead, we will celebrate Independence Day with friends and possibly view the fireworks from the nearby Inter-coastal bridge that has sweeping views of the beaches. bridgeThis past week has been a time of reflection. Cleaning out our apartment and turning in the keys brought a finality to the first chapter of our move here. Many good memories were made there with new friends and visits from family and friends from “up north”, including the North Carolinian’s. One friendship lost continues to bewilder us. For me, the loss is also a sadness which I cannot fully explain, even to myself. Reflection was also brought about by conversations had with several friends and family members this past week.  Despite knowing that our move was absolutely the right thing for us to do, I miss them. Very much. Their visits are always too short and too infrequent. That reality is a compliment, I suppose. It is certainly the truth.

The construction of the sun room being delayed because of damage found (some wood rot) has been a set back. Finding it now, while a huge disappointment, is a blessing, though. Imagine, if the sun room roof was being built another way and the problem was not discovered until next year or a few years from now. The damage would have been much greater. Now, we expect the repairs to commence this coming week and all the bad parts will be cut out and replaced within 2-3 days. The construction of the sun room will then resume and, hopefully, be completed by month’s end. It’s a life lesson, for sure: cut out the bad before the damage is too great.

Painted Headboard (note slats and rattan details
Painted Headboard (note slats and rattan details

On another note, we are nearly done with all interior work. A few cosmetic touches only remain. For our “Florida” guest room we have found an interesting headboard. It kills me to buy a piece of furniture and have it painted. But, until I get the ole’ workshop set up, this is a good option. Ditto, with the small console for our living room.

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Painted Console for TV and stereo stuff (gray blue)

Once I clear out the garage, having an outlet for my refinished/painted furniture should be no problem. Can’t wait!

Happy Independence Day!

Tests and Setbacks

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Home, Sweet Home

So, 8 days after moving into our still-being-renovated home, we are tested. Tested in our resolve to keep going, in our faith in believing that we have done the right thing and tested in patience.

It began with the air-conditioning starting to act a bit quirky. Some days it would run fine; other days it would cause the circuit breakers to trip.  The electricians checked the box and said the breakers were fine. The home-warranty company sent a tech out and he found nothing. Maybe it was all the work being done that caused an electrical overload, he thought. When the breakers for the unit tripped during the day it was inconvenient. At night it was something else.  Waking up sweating and knowing that I’d have to go into the garage to re-set the breakers was beyond inconvenient. Everyone knows, especially those of us born and raised in northern cities, that southern snakes lay in wait for us to walk in slipper-clad feet into a dark garage. Past moving boxes and assorted renovation material I needed to go. So, a plan for dealing with the sure- to- be- lurking prey needed to be devised. Aha, confrontation! So, I’d get up, turn on every light on the way into the garage and start banging on the walls and saying loudly, “come out you dirty bums and I’ll cut your heads of”!!  It worked. Never did those dirty-bum snakes show up. When I’d get back to bed the Redhead would just look up and  say, “Are you crazy”? I suppose she just doesn’t understand the theory of Sun Szu and his The Art of War.  But, it worked.  This was only the beginning of what was to come.

After another week of the air conditioning acting up, it just died. Gone, fried. The condenser was completely shot we were told. Not to worry we thought. Our Home Warranty, purchased when we bought the house, was meant for just such an emergency. A little over a week in our new home and we now have no air-conditioning in 95 degree weather. The indoor temps stayed in the 85- 90 range. Thankfully, we had extended our apartment lease until the end of this month, so a night or two sleeping on our pull-out sofa until the unit was fixed wouldn’t be too bad. Or, so we thought. Wrong. For whatever reasons, the warranty company has kept dragging its feet authorizing the repair/replacement of the unit. Repeated calls just kept us moving through an anonymous labyrinth of “help desks”.

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New air-conditioner!

Having gone without air for over a week, with no help from the warranty company, we bit the bullet, called a local A/C company that was recommended by friends, and had a new unit installed. We knew we would need to get a new one someday, but had hoped to get a year or so of use from the old unit. What’s the old saying about, “best made plans”? The warranty company says that it will give us a “buy-out” for only the wholesale cost of the condenser unit part of the system. At least it something and now we have a very efficient unit cooling our house. Beware of Home Warranty policies when buying a home!

Round two.

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Sun Room framing

Our sun room addition was going along nicely. Ahead of schedule, actually. It will be a nice room with a great place to view the pond. Yesterday, the workmen building the room discovered some wood damage on our chimney area that was undetected during our pre-buying home inspection.

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Impact Enclosures team building sun room

We need to get it fixed before we can continue. We have called our carpenter friend, Wayne, to give us a second opinion and possible fix. We’ll know tomorrow what our real situation is.

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Luis installing baseboards

On the bright side our interior work has just about been completed.

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Cutting the baseboards

The new baseboards are being installed and I’m taking care of some minor electrical work like moving switches.

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Ray from New Millennium Tile
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Tumbled marble and Italian glass tile

The kitchen tile back splash is completely finished and looks beautiful. Pictures have the glass tiles looking green but they are more like sea-glass blue.

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The new kitchen

Tonight, The Redhead made dinner in the new kitchen of our once-again cool house. All  is good. We have faith. And the vision of Sister Swammy that this truly is, “Our House”.

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Living Room, a blend of old and new

Home

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Monday, June 8th was the deadline set by our insurance company for us to move into our home – ready or not – or else…no insurance. Never mind that we had been spending at least 8-12 hours everyday at the house, we had to sleep there. Cat-naps didn’t count.

So, on the morning of the 8th, Debbie met the window shutter guy at the house and I coordinated the movers. Thanks to the help and handy pick-up truck of my friend, Bill, nearly everything left the apartment and garage in one trip, including bicycles and plants. Most of what was left behind that day has been brought over bit by bit. Thankfully, we had extended our rental lease for an additional month just so we wouldn’t be too crazed on moving day. Just this morning, Debbie and I remarked how very different this move was from when we left Connecticut: Less stuff to pack; no Sue or Mary Ellen.

20150603_2359For several days we sort of roughed it. No stove, no sinks, except a utility sink in the laundry. We did have a shower and a half-bath. Now, we are all set.

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20150611_2376Our cabinets are all in, all appliances are hooked up – and working.

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Both baths are fully finished (except for paint in the guest bath). Shall we have a painting party??  We’re still fine-tuning some electric and baseboards are due to go in this coming Wednesday.

20150610_2372The new roof is coming along and should be finished in the next day or two.

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The foundation for the new sun room addition has been poured and work on the framing should commence this coming week.

It is a lot of work. But, we wanted to get everything that needed attention, or that we wanted, to be done before or shortly after we moved in. So far, so good. We are very blessed that we could do this and lucky it is going – for the most part – so smoothly.

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So, what’s next? Sometime later this month or early July we will have our housed blessed. At that time we’ll have a house-warming party for friends, neighbors and many of the folks that worked so hard to make this all possible for us: tilers and tile suppliers, carpenters, electricians, folks that helped us find our new furniture and those that helped us pick out paint. We are grateful to so many. We hope our dear friends in Connecticut, North Carolina and Rhode Island will be here, too.

After we have settled in and cleared some of our things from the boxes now jammed into our garage and a spare bedroom we will be able to focus on other goals and projects. For me, it will be again restoring and reviving vintage furniture. I’ll figure out a way to cool down the garage during the especially hot season of June – September so I can work with my paints and stains. Not sure where this will wind up taking me, but it’s time for me to again be productive.

Well, that’s it for now. Keep good thoughts and prayers for us. Hope to see you soon.

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Ready, Set…

We’ve begun to bring a few of our belongings over to our home: bags and boxes of clothes, some linens, pottery and two pieces of furniture. Muffin StandI just had to hand-carry our Victorian muffin stand (from my old Redeux Furniture shop) and an arts and crafts period clover leaf side table. The pottery pieces, from local artists, were also taken to the house today to ensure their safe passage. If those old pieces of furniture could talk I wonder if they would be saying,”where the heck are we”, or “hey, there’s no dust here”! In any case, they are a long way from their original New England homes. Hope they like their new digs!

Being somewhat gluttons for punishment, we’ll enjoy only a day or two of relative quiet in the house. Sometime between Tuesday and Friday the following is scheduled to happen: The kitchen finished – counter tops installed, drilled for fixtures and all fixtures installed (at least we have the refrigerator); bath vanities completed with counters and fixtures; all remaining electrical hookups completed. Then the fun starts! The foundation for the new sun room has been staked. The city inspector is scheduled for sometime Monday (maybe he will help carry a few boxes!) to give the go-ahead approval. Also, Tuesday is when the dumpster for the new roof is being dropped off. The roof will be started sometime after Tuesday and will take about 2- 3 days, weather permitting. The foundation for the sun room will be poured sometime next week and work will commence on the frame about 3-4 days latter. With luck, everything will be completed by early to mid-July. Of course, we will be living in the house all this time. We leave the apartment entirely by the end of June. But, we expect to be completely out as soon as our appliances are hooked up at the house. Whew!

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The kitchen cabinets are turning out to be fantastic. The carpenter installing them is Mr. Wayne Moss. 20150603_2349

Wayne has his own woodworking company but is the installer for the kitchen cabinet folks. Lucky us. Wayne is a perfectionist and has an old fashioned ethic about him.  20150603_2352As he was making sure everything was just right with the cabinets, the layout man for the counter tops arrived. Watching him measure and cut the patterns for the tops was intriguing. It turns out he used to work for Embraer – American Airlines in Brazil. Life happens and now he uses his skills to be the pattern-maker  for one of Jacksonville’s best stone, granite and quartz fabricators.20150603_2358When friends and family visit us they will see the work of several very skilled tradesmen – tilers, carpenters and stone cutters. It is amazing what God has done for us by putting these folks in our lives.

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With all of this work going on around us, I am getting the itch to again start working on some furniture. My skill level is nowhere near that of some of the men that has worked on on new home. But, in looking at some of the pieces from my shop that we kept and will put into our new home, I am grateful for the “new-life” I was able to restore into so many pieces.

A real Morris chair. Soon to be restored by Redeux South!A real Morris chair. Soon to be restored by Redeux South!

Sometimes, it is interesting to guess where all of those bits of furniture are now and how they are being used. Ours will always be treasured.

In looking around for just the right piece to put under our TV I’ve searched through several antique and cottage furniture shops in Jacksonville and Neptune/Jacksonville  Beaches. Today I re-visited one on the beach, Bungalow by the Sea, that is a small beach-type house with several rooms, each for a particular artist or crafts-person. Perhaps I’ll look into putting some things there. But, first, there is this little thing called renovating a house that is keeping my attention. You never know, though.

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Debbie’s “pen-shell” entry light!

http://www.iloveshelling.com/blog/category/pen-shell/

Hope we see you soon!

Bill

8 Days

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Less than three months from when we started the house renovations we will move into our new home and begin our new life.

From first deciding to leave Connecticut and then exploring areas in which to relocate and finally deciding to make Jacksonville our home, it has been an interesting experience. We have met many wonderful people. Some have lived in Jacksonville for all their lives; some have come from other Southern states and a few from “up North”, which can mean anywhere north of North Carolina. We have seen a lot, too.

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Finished! glass tile fireplace front

Our renovations have brought us into contact with people we might otherwise not have had the chance to meet: men that work with tile and wood and concrete; men that start work at 6:00 A.M. and often work until 7, 8 and even 9:00 P.M.; men that work 60-70 hours a week and yet still have to weld bumpers onto their cars to keep them going; men that offer a handshake stronger than any written contract. And we have met a few that know the inside of several jails but who wouldn’t steal a slice of bread if they were hungry. There have been some interesting ladies, too. Some are our new neighbors – wives of Navy officers. They raise their families often in the absence of their husbands. Unlike some of the families of corporate executive we knew in Connecticut who commuted to NYC or elsewhere, these women say goodbye to their husbands when they leave for Iraq or Afghanistan or somewhere not to be disclosed. These are some strong ladies. There are other women that we have met that have made this such a comfortable place for us to live. Some are business owners such as Marni of Duval Tile, some are folks we meet in our day-to-day business , some are friends for the Redhead, some friends for us both. New friends, yet not replacing those we love and long to see from “up North”, wherever that may be.

David Brobst tile master
David Brobst, tile master, laying start line

So, we are nearly at the end of our renovation work – at least the interior work. The painting is done; the various floors have been replaced with new tile throughout, new doors have been put in and this weekend the new kitchen is being installed. In just over a week we will move in – ready or not! 20150528_2326 (956x1024)The sun room is being started next week. But, we can live in the house while that is going on. Hopefully!

During all of this work we have learned and noticed a few things. First, it has been better to deal directly with the folks that are actually doing the work rather than working through a middleman.

A highly skilled carpenter lays out his tools before starting work
A highly skilled carpenter lays out his tools before starting work
New Cabinets
New Cabinets

The kitchen cabinet project is a good case in point. While it does require the efforts of several trades, communication has sometimes been not as easy as when we have dealt directly with the tradesman doing the work.

Secondly, we have noted that those folks that have communicated primarily by text or email have been the least accessible. I’ve written about this before and it becomes more apparent everyday: nothing can replace direct contact – voice or in person. Sorry, Google, Twitter and Microsoft, etc. – you have your limitations – even if the new internet connections will be through ones pants (http://fusion.net/story/141560/google-and-levis-are-teaming-up-to-make-computerized-pants/ ) Yikes!

Thirdly, shop around. Since we are both frugal (where it counts) and love to poke and pick, this wasn’t too hard for us. It is amazing how very often we found better quality materials for 40-60 % less than that found in “designer” showrooms. Beware, too, we found, of sources often suggested by middlemen such as designers. There are built in markups. If you have the time, as we did, shop around. Don’t be swayed by fancy showrooms and sales reps in la-di-da outfits. The best sources for product knowledge often come from someone that has just buggy-loaded a bunch of tile, paint or hardware.

New floors
New floors

And, lastly, talk to everybody and double check references. You may meet some wonderful folks and might save yourself some grief, too! But, most of all, trust. If it’s right and good, it will happen. So, we may as well not worry.

Front door
Front door

See you soon!

Atilla the Hun and The Redhead

atilla (287x176)June 8. For history buffs, it is remembered as the date on which Attila the Hun invaded Italy (who doesn’t remember that!). For The Redhead and I it is the date we are scheduled to move to our New Home!IMG_2338

The neighbors have promised that we will be more welcome than was Mr. Attila.
It has been an exciting and interesting two months since we closed on the house. We have learned a lot – about the complexities of remodeling a home, how to search for and hire the best tradesmen, about being cautious and about what motivates people –others and ourselves.

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If you could see my desk right now (why not?) you might think that disorganization was a characteristic of mine. I don’t think so – at least not always – but the way I often organize is by keeping things needed within sight. Clutter actually drives me crazy so I keep only what I need or think I’ll soon need within sight and reach. Organizing a home remodeling project requires organization of a different sort. You have to organize people according to the hierarchy of their work and how each coordinates with the others. 20150402_2277 (800x600)Ripping out things was fairly simple: carpenter rips out cabinets, plumber disconnects water supply, carpenter rips out sinks, etc., electricians turn off electricity to certain areas and re-wire for future needs, tiling people tear up existing floors (ours were a nightmare and a testimonial to modern glues). Then ceilings are re-plastered, painting is done, new floors are put in (all tile) and then new cabinets and vanities are installed. Along the way you realize that future needs should be addressed now because: (1) later you be too tired to continue; (2) you may have to redo something; (3) You may have spent any remaining funds on a psychiatrist. Seriously!
Right now we are at the end of the painting stage.20150513_2311The house looks beautiful and very different from what it did a few weeks ago. This coming Monday the laying of the new tile floors begins and the appliances are delivered and kept in the garage (except the washer/dryer which will be installed). The following week the cabinets, vanities and lights are to be installed as will be the new front and back doors. In early June the construction of the new glass sun room and the new roof begins. But, we can and, hopefully, will be in the house when that takes place. It’s a real ballet – poetry in motion. But, one serious misstep and our goose is cooked!!
But, so far, so good. A few set-backs have happened, yet things kept moving. And here we are: nearly at the end of this chapter. Still smiling. Still talking to one another. Still excited about this new beginning and very grateful for this blessing. Who wouldda’ thunk?20150403_2287

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Forest Through the Trees

You can’t see the forest through the trees.

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This was an expression heard countless times as a kid. Its meaning was, surely, lost on a mind concerned exclusively on what was in front of it. Now its meaning has clarity: focus on the bigger picture and not so much on the smaller details. Our remodeling project has put that adage to the test.As the ownership of our house reaches the two-month mark, the anxiety of getting things finished is building up. Trying not to do things out of order (too much) so as not having to re-do something has forced us to postpone some work.  The biggest culprit right now are the exterior doors. One set is in and the other two are not expected in until later this month. IMG_2311Now that the old popcorn ceilings have been removed and the fresh,new ceiling is finished, painting prepping the rest of the house is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning. Hopefully we can have the one set of doors (French doors leading to the backyard and, eventually, the sun room) installed before the actual painting commences. In any case, the doors should be installed before the tile floors are lain and, of course, the floors have to be finished before the new kitchen and the updated baths can be installed.  Lots of trees to peek through!  Our self-imposed 75 day time frame to finish our projects and move in may not happen quite on time, but hope springs eternal. We’ve extended our rental lease for another month, “just in case”.

But, the forest – the big picture – is what we keep trying to focus on. It really is the beginning of our new life here in Florida and of being a part of Southern culture. We have gone from being visitors to explorers to residents and, now, we are settled.FullSizeRender (552x428)Some of our friends that have come by during the renovations have, we’re sure, shaken their heads and wondered if we have lost our minds. Who would blame them? We both have said we wouldn’t do a big remodeling project on whichever house we bought. And, here we are! But, our friends and neighbors can’t see what we see. It’s in our minds and hearts.

We see a home filled with light and love and open to friends and family. And to God and whatever work He puts in front of us. For now we’ll concentrate on some of the details and let the Big Picture reveal itself.

Communication

What we got here is a failure to communicate

A memorable line from the classic film, “Cool Hand Luke”, it keeps replaying in my mind as our house makeover proceeds. It seems the more technology enters into our most simple, everyday tasks, the more complicated it becomes. The more we let it replace direct interaction with one another, well, it seems like we end up with just a plain, hot mess. Today was my Waterloo.

20150403_2286Everyone working on our project has been great. From the flooring guys that have tackled a nearly impossible job to the electricians and carpenters, all have proceeded as smoothly as possible while trying to complete a not small project in a specific time frame. It is the coordination that is starting to drive me crazy.

We could have avoided most of this angst by just hiring a “Big Box” store to act as General Contractor. We are buying many of our materials from them. But, the labor costs of them acting as the GC is quadruple what the individual tradespeople charge. So, frugality and sensibility take precedence over ease. Up to now it has been o.k. But, the kitchen project requires the efforts of several tradespeople so the designer/cabinet maker is coordinating, more or less, that part of our project. He says he likes to communicate mostly by email and text and voice mail – as well as some face-to-face, of course. It is here that the bogeyman of technology raises his ugly head. Examples: Wednesday, 8:00 p.m. The Redhead gets an email from the kitchen guy: “Electricians will be at house tomorrow”.  Foolish me asks the Redhead, “what time”? She says, “I don’t know. I’ll email him back”. Hmmm.

Thursday, 7:15 a.m. I’m in the shower singing my third rendition of, “I Left my Heart in San Francisco” (I’ll learn the real words, someday). The Redhead yells into the bathroom, “The electricians are at the house and can’t get in ’cause your not there”.  No kidding. Who needs to rinse off, anyway? And breakfast? Ha!

And so it went all day. Emails to the Redhead from the kitchen guy’s staff: “Plumber’s coming Friday or Monday. Need toilet and valves”. Message duly given. Foolish me asks, “How can the toilet go in when there is no drain yet”?  Or walls? Or floor? Just small details, I suppose.20150402_2276There’s more. But, you get the idea. Technology is fine. To a point. But, can an I Pad really replace a,”My Pad”? All the numbers, names, notes and dates you could possibly want or need – all at a fingers touch!

Bill's My PadBill’s My Pad

Not all is lost or gloomy, though. Far from it. Thanks to the Redhead’s vision, the most beautiful house we could have imagined will soon be our home. 20150402_2277

In the meantime, can somebody just pick up a phone!

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