Margaret on Airbnb.com

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Well, since my bypass surgery a few weeks ago, poor Margaret isn’t going to be able to go on the road soon. Hopefully, later this summer, we’ll be able to take her on an extended tour of the great Northwest. In the meantime, we’ve put her up on Airbnb for those people who are visiting Seattle and want a cool experience! Featuring great views of Lake Washington and the Cascades, a picnic table and nice yard, Margaret is a perfect place to hang while getting away. Our neighborhood is awesome, too, not to mention Columbia City with all kinds of great restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops within walking distance.

Check out our Airstream here on Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4461706

Finally. And Happy New Year

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Happy New Year, everyone.

I thought I’d post an end of year report on our home and where we are. I’m going to clear out the negative right off the bat so we can begin the year very positively.

No two ways about it, but living in your trailer in your own driveway for 5 1/2 months is tough. Summer wasn’t bad, but once the weather turned it was hard, dirty and claustrophobic. We need a bigger trailer – like a 27 foot Eddie Bauer for us and our big ole dog. But we did it – and we’re still together (that’s a major plus).

I’ve learned way more than I ever wanted to learn about project managing the construction process of remodeling a house. Alas, we hired Broadmore Builders to do that, and our project manager was the worst manager of anything I’ve ever come across enabled by the business’ owner who made all kinds of excuses for him. The project manager was inept, full of lies, talked bad about his workers and clients in front of other people, a hothead, and accusatory. All bad traits in a human being. We are glad to be done with Broadmore Builders for that. On the plus side, their workers, Juan, Ivan and Leo were fun to be around and we miss them – they did all the work. I just wish they were treated more fairly and better. They are immigrants and they receive no healthcare even though we were told they did.

The initial company we hired, Batt + Lear, who took us to the cleaners for a fair amount of money for nothing we could ever use, apparently does the same thing to other people. We’ve heard from other couples who’ve had the same, if not worse, experience with them – which tells us we weren’t crazy. I hope that this year, they will learn that their business model – that of screwing their customers – will force them to close.

Unfortunately, our experiences with these two companies put a real damper on the excitement and joy of creating a new space.

Now on to the positive to ring in 2015.

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We are living in a wonderful new home that our neighbors and friends are loving being in as much as we are. We’ve hosted family and friends for Thanksgiving and Christmas and everything has gone great. John loves the new kitchen and being able to cook and create in it. I’m loving it for being able to work and still talk to people and engage with our guests. It’s fantastic. A big shout-out to Joy Dolling at Abodian Cabinets here in the Rainier Valley for their fine work and good humor.

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The glass backsplash is finally complete and the kitchen now looks sleek and contemporary. We love it.

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The bathrooms are extremely well done thanks to our wonderful tiler, Steve Branca, who has been meticulous. We still have the upper shower to go, but that should be done soon.

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The finish work is nearly finished – we are waiting on framing for our deconstructed looking fireplace, but we’ve already picked out the tile we want to use and it will be great. Christopher Olson was the finish carpenter and did a great job on installing our cabinets, doing the window sills, baseboards and door casings.

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The trim painting, though initially we were really bummed to be kicked back out to the trailer for a week, was done by DK Professional Painting. Julio, the foreman, did a great job with his team in making all of the trim look evenly painted and beautiful. They also stained and lacquered the window sills throughout the house.

The floors are amazing. Working with four totally different floor materials, adding in new material and fixing bad stains throughout, Eurocraft floors had their hands full. But they did amazing work, and blended all of them together beautifully.

John and myself painted all of the colored walls, lacquered the doors and have installed a lot of hardware. We’re continuing to work on putting things together and we are just now having the cabinetry installed in the laundry/mud room.

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My favorite room is the bedroom. It is such a beautiful and restful space where the light and views are amazing, and it’s cozy and warm to read and sleep in. It just feels fantastic and we both love to hang out there.

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We are just now starting to enjoy the home – the stress of building it is wearing off for me, and the people coming over and staying with us are making it feel like a home. We still have much to do in the yard, basement and then, ultimately, the DADU (Backyard Cottage), but we can wait on that for a bit.

We have to give another shout out to our architect and friend, Katie Wells-Driscoll, who really helped us visualize the entirety of our property that, when complete, will be extraordinary and help us live here for many years to come. If you’d like her contact info, please give us a call.

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Today, the view is spectacular with snow on the mountains and hardly a cloud in the sky. It’s a bit brisk to sit outside, but we stand on the deck and just admire all we can see, and wonder at all we’ve accomplished in 2014.

There is much to look forward to in 2015 with a brand new grandchild named Carson who arrived on the 28th, our wedding in July and visits from all kinds of friends and family. In February, we are headed to Florida to see the grandchildren and John’s family and friends. My hope is to have a new job I love while John continues teaching music to K-4th graders in the Bellevue School District.

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We also hope to reconnect with our fellow ‘streamers in Oregon and elsewhere. Margaret is in the shop getting repairs done before our warranty wears off and then we’re off to places unknown. In the meantime, we’ve put her up on Airbnb.com if you or anyone wish to stay. Check out the link here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4461706

Our best to all of our friends and family, the readers of this blog, and anyone working on their homes in the coming year. May 2015 be one of the best years ever.

T – Minus 1 Week Until Move In

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The posts stopped because, quite simply, I’ve been running around like a proverbial headless chicken trying to get everything done, and get some consulting business going so we have a little extra cash to play with. A LOT has happened. We are close to being in the house with a nearly finished kitchen, one finished bathroom, all trim in (but not painted), and hot water.

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I am officially exhausted, mentally and physically. And I can’t wait until there are no more workers, no more appointments with contractors, city inspectors, or waiting on deliveries. I think John is ready to move in as well as Buster, who got a new bed to hang out on in the house while we finish our work.

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The kitchen has turned out particularly nice. John did a great design with the help of Joy Dolling of Abodian. After all, the choice of Alder wood instead of the melamine was a great choice. It is warmer, more elegant and will stand the test of time. All of the appliances are in, the bar is ready to go, and I’m sure John will be pouring Scotch soon.

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I finished the front entryway this week. After a great assist on the framing of it from our buddy, Malcolm Smith, who knows his way around a circular saw and is a great photographer, I installed the IPE decking this week just in time for the onslaught of rain.

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Our finish carpenter, Chris Olson, was great, and cased the doors, trimmed the baseboards and finished out some shelving in no time. It was pretty astonishing. He worked a little too fast sometimes, but he was a pleasure to work with, mildly OCD, which is good in a finish carpenter, and very eager.

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He also finished up the Sky Deck and dining deck off the kitchen today. There was a double rainbow off the dining deck right after he left, so I think that’s a great sign. Now we are just waiting on the railing so that we can call the inspector for our occupancy ok.

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Then a final polish of the floors and top coat. Here I’ll add that the flooring company, Eurocraft, did an astonishing job on the floors weaving together the old and new. It was truly amazing to see how they did it considering we have three entirely different types of floors in the house.

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Our former neighbor, Steve Branca (Branca Tile), did an amazing job on our guest bathroom, and is now headed upstairs for the main bath. That is going to be beautiful soon, as well. He made the guest bath a nice haven while we wait for the upstairs, and it’s a pleasure to be able to shower again in a real bathroom.

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The whole process has been very challenging given the disruption in our lives, the constant decisions, and all of the people involved in creating a house. I don’t think I could ever watch another HGTV show and not laugh at the budgets, the time frames and how simple they make everything look. I’m convinced now that those shows are simply adverts for big box stores and unsuspecting DIYers like we envisioned ourselves to be.

I will say, however, that there is a great sense of accomplishment I feel. It’s a beautiful home; we’ve learned so much about this process, and through careful decisions, have come up with a house that feels warm and welcoming – two things I desperately wanted. And John and I made it through after so many people had told us how hard it is on relationships and such. I think we’re stronger for it. We made many key decisions quickly and efficiently particularly when it came to tile and color. And now we’ve been through the worst, and are looking forward to carrying on our lives in a comfortable home. It seems that there is nothing we can’t get through now.

We finally said adieu to the contractor, which took a lot of weight off our shoulders and allowed me to sleep a little better. While I wish Broadmore Builders well, I couldn’t recommend them at all if their project manager continues to be a part of them. I won’t go into all the details, but the one thing that infuriates me is that he belittles his own crew, who did great work despite him, in front of his clients, and to them. It’s sad to see Broadmore’s largely hispanic team so disabused by him in so many ways, not least of which is care for their safety.

We do miss Juan and Ivan and Leo – all from various parts of Mexico – all of them left family and loved ones to make a better life here in the US.

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The sunrises and sunsets continue to be beautiful. And the rains that have come, I’m not so worried about given our new sewer lines, roof and gutters. Though our Airstream has performed remarkably well over the stress of two guys and a big dog, we are ready for the creature comforts of home. A bigger bed, warmth, quiet, and the space to breath and to read. I miss reading soooooo much and have lots of books to catch up on.

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Happy Halloween… next post will be after we’ve moved in!

T

Four Weeks Down

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I’m sitting on the bed in the Airstream writing this recap of our remodeling project. Buster has taken over the dinette for his bed and it’s too much work to undo it every day, so we leave it down for him. Of course, he’s laying on our bed while I write.

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Week four was particularly eventful. The roof was removed along with the east room. The East Room will be rebuilt pretty much from the ground up given that it is now supporting a walkable roof we call The Sky Deck. Which brings up last weekend when we inaugurated the deck with two evenings of cocktails, friends and neighbors.

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The weather was truly amazing, and then our brand new neighbor, Grant, brought over a Steelhead Salmon fillet cooked on a cedar plank. It was extremely thoughtful and brought good karma to what, we think, will be a well-used deck.

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Wednesday night, the sky was extraordinary. Amazing colors, clear air and light delineated the mountains and lake.

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As the week progressed, the East Room took shape and the foundation wall was made and the plumbing restored from the basement. Ivan and Leo continue to do great work on the framing, and it’s great to watch their progress.

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Buster has proven to be a great site dog, curious about all things, but when he gets tired he takes himself to the Airstream for a nap. I think he misses John as I do. He likes having us both around so he can alternately entertain himself with either of us. John has been in Florida where the heat has been oppressive, but he’s enjoying the humidity, he said. We started the week finding out that a new grand baby is on the way in January 2015. We are both excited for his son and daughter-in-law, and baby Connor as well. 2015 will turn out to be a great year.

Thursday night brought rain for the first time to the open ceilings and concern for the floors kept me awake. Indeed, pools of water formed where the roof leaked since the covering had been removed. The sky opened up again throughout the day today, but now it’s sunny and bright, wind whipping the tarp around and roughing up the lake.

I’m missing my friends in Bennington this weekend where they are celebrating 20 years of the MFA Writing Program. I graduated in 2002 and it is still in top form.

This weekend might see us out on deck again depending on the weather. It’s supposed to rain, but it might be nice to just sit out there with a glass of wine and a good book thinking about the future.

Full-time ‘Streamers

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Tonight we become full-time ‘streamers in our own backyard as we begin remodeling our home we’ve named Casa Vista del Lago Azul. We will probably be living in it for 3 months as the house is taken down to the studs and completely rebuilt except for some wonderful hardwood floors. It’s been nearly a year to get to this point, but we are finally moving forward. We’ll post our progress, but for this week, it’s all about removing stucco off the house and demoing the main floor now that the 2nd floor is mostly demoed.

Now that the project is out of our hands, I’ll get back to work writing and helping out wherever I can. John has another few weeks of work and then we’ll see what’s what.

We will most likely head out for weekend trips or during the week to get away from the mess and chaos. Looking forward to camping and enjoying the outdoors.

Stay tuned….