Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Some Folks Will Do Anything to Get Out of Work

When I started writing this blog, I had two goals in mind.

One, was to offer a window seat to those who were interested in following our 3 month 6 month 8 month really long journey.  The other was to create a photo journal for our family of our journey to help document the process. The blog has taken a life of its own and it seems to be different things to different people – a comedic monologue, the basis for a book, a voyeuristic peek, a vehicle for lending support- and that’s okay.  I’m glad people can laugh with us.  It is no fun to laugh all by yourself. ‘Cause then folks think you’re crazy. 

So, some weeks you get a window to our progress. Some weeks you get a photo journal.  Progress halted this week because the insurance company is harboring our building funds. Argh! And one of the few subcontractors we had still on the job this week took a short vacation in the county jail. Aye yi yi. Some people will do anything to get out of work.

So, with no serious progress to document…you get a photo journal this week.

Enjoy! Here’s a peek at our last 7 days:

Little Bean took a swing at Rough Stuff and landed her palm on a pair of scissors instead. She left quarter-sized drops of blood through the house like a macabre Hansel and Gretel scene. She screeched (and I mean that in the most sincere use of the word) and hyperventilated. Rough Stuff screamed out in uncontrollable fear. The Middle Child hid in another room, hands over her eyes, bawling. It was all quite dramatic. We escaped the urgent care with only an 'irrigation' and some band-aids. No stitches due to the location of the wound. Yay!
Little Bean and her Red Cross bear.

The Boy got hit in the face while sparring with pool noodles at a graduation party and took a good cut under his eye.  Sparring. That means they were intentionally beating the snot out of each other. With foam noodles. Wrapped in duct tape. He spent a few hours with an ice pack, has a minor black eye, and will have a nice little scar.
The Boy.

Rough Stuff, I kid you not, decided to see what it would be like if we got in a car wreck while she had her feet up in the seat, so she slammed her own knee into her nose. (I tell them not to ride with their feet up in case we have a wreck.) Honest. For reals. I could not make this crap up.
Rough Stuff. Enough said. 
Are you seeing a theme here?



Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fear, Fire, and a Failed Camping Trip

Isn't it ironic, don't you think? I started a blog about my house catching on fire and now I'm going to write about firestarters. 

Well, why not?

I love these little firestarters. I never start a fire without one. Ah, ah, ah...I didn't start the house fire- the crock did. When I start a fire, I use a firestarter and it is a one-match fire. Well, it would be...if I could light a match. But I can't. Because I'm terrified of fire. 


There is the irony. I know. Me, Camp Fire kid, volunteer, club leader, staff member...Basic Outdoor Leadership trainer...foil pack cooker extraordinaire, perfect marshmallow roaster...scared of fire. Terrified. Always have been. 

One year my family surprised me at a restaurant for my birthday by having people come out and sing to me. The exuberant wait-staff snuck in behind me and surrounded me placing a giant dessert in front of me with a SPARKLER in it. I was trapped. I couldn't escape. I nearly tumbled backward out of my chair. There were sparks flying at my face. I was mortified. Worst. Birthday. Ever. Ever

I can't bring myself to actually make the match explode into flame in my fingers. Can't do it. I can't use a regular lighter either. Can not. Can't put the flame that close to my fingers. I cannot physically make myself turn the little wheel. I've tried. I don't cook on an open flame. Except when we're camping- I'm fixin' to get to that. 

In our house, the house that succumbed to fire, we had a smoke alarm on every floor in almost every room. And they were all going off when the Big Guy arrived home to find the fire. We had a fire extinguisher on every floor. We even had an extinguishing log for the fireplace which we rarely used, because... you know...intentionally starting a fire in my home just seemed...INSANE. I was scared to death of a house fire. Go figure. 

Anyhow...camping. When we go camping, I feel compelled to actually cook over an open fire. I am an excellent firestarter. I am excellent at starting the fire because, let's be honest here, once the fire is actually lit, I am terrified of it. It is imperative that I get that sucker to light correctly the first time!

The key to a successful fire is a bucket of water (that's right, the first thing you need to start a safe fire, campers, is water) and a firestarter. You can buy such things, but that is silliness. 

Scented firestarter clump.
You can make your own for nothing and they work great. If you use scented wax and actually start a fire in your home intentionally, in that thing called a fireplace, the scent is a pleasant bonus. 

This is how you do it:

Step one-
Scrounge up a paper egg carton. You'll want to put it on foil or a paper plate or something so you don't get wax on your counter. 

Step two- 

Salvage your old wax. I use the wax from my candle warmers after the scent is gone, but I have been known to use the bottoms of candles, and even old crayons. Any old wax will do and these do not need to be pretty. (As evidenced by my example.) 

Step three- 

Figure out how to get the melted wax into the paper egg carton without pouring it all over the counter. When you figure that out, drop me a note would ya?

That's it. Tear those little sections apart and use them to start your fires with. The most effective method I've found is to place one under the tinder and kindling and pack some dryer lint around it. There is truly nothing more flammable in your home than the stinkin' dryer lint. Light the edge of the egg carton and then go sit far, far from the fire while other people add logs. Oh, wait that's me. Light the edge and then tend your fire!

The perfect one-match firestarter. 
You'll only need one match (or if you're like me and have an irrational fear of fire, a really long lighter) to get your fire going because the paper will burn long enough to ignite the wax. The wax will burn long enough to ignite your tinder, and so on. The dryer lint is your power boost. Guaranteed one match fire. If it doesn't work, then you're doing it wrong. 

I made firestarters today because we planned to camp over the long weekend. We needed a getaway and I had big dreams of sitting in a lawn chair, roasting marshmallows, sleeping in our little trailer beside the lake, just listening to the breeze. Then I remembered...we had a house fire. We don't own lawn chairs. Or roasting sticks. Or lanterns. Or any of the camping gear we used to pack. 

Suddenly camping became a new challenge. We began making a list of the bare minimum things we would have to purchase before heading for the lake. Lawn chairs are kind of essential. And sunscreen. That is a definite requirement. We were working on our minimalist plan for escape when the Big Guy realized that perhaps that coleslaw he had for dinner that didn't taste quite right...really wasn't quite right. 

Sigh. Maybe I'll just pitch a tent in the backyard and roast marshmallows in the fire pit and pretend I'm not in the final stages of fire recovery hell.      

Monday, May 21, 2012

Someday, We'll Look Back and Laugh

Someday, I know we’ll look back on this year of our life and laugh. The pain will fade and the trauma will become a distant memory. We’ll tell stories about the fire and the rebuilding of our home and we’ll laugh. “Remember when” we’ll say. "Remember when Dad was yelling at the crew because they moved the electrical conduit and buried it in several feet of dirt right before the concrete mixer arrived.” Oh, the stories we’ll tell. “Remember that one time when Dad cut through the cables with the trench digger and cut off phone and cable service to 25 of our neighbors.”


Yeah. That happened.

Trench for electric lines.

It wasn’t his fault, really. He did call 1-800-DIG-RITE and several utility companies did mark the utility lines. But, somewhere along the line (puns totally intended) the lines got crossed and well…

Repairman in the hole.

This guy wasn’t too happy about it. So…I took a photo of the side he really wanted to show me. ‘Cause that’s how I roll when you’re grumpity with me. Hmph. They had to dig a MUCH larger hole (pit) in our yard and spend 2 (yes, 2) days repairing the lines. Sorry, Neighbors.

At any rate, the new electrical lines were installed, passed inspection, were buried, and…

Fresh cement.

The cement was poured!

Before the wet cement went down, we buried a time capsule. We thought it might be fun for the next poor souls who have to dig up that yard to find something interesting. We included new coins, a 2011 Christmas Coca-Cola bottle, an old iTunes card, some local restaurant menus, a copy of the high school newsletter, a music magazine (courtesy of the 15 year old), a page from the blog (of course), and a letter to the future time capsule finders among other things.  We placed it all in a PVC pipe and sealed the ends so whoever digs it up will know it is something really cool, or they'll think it's an old pipe bomb. Either way, it should make for an interesting discovery. 

The Big Guy marked our name and the date in the wet cement and that was that. The framing and plumbing continue and now they are tearing off bits of sheeting on the outside of the house. They are still finding blackened, smoke-filled pieces of insulation as they go. If you've never smelled burnt insulation, let me assure you it is atrocious. If you have smelled it, you know it is a smell you will never forget. We are trying to make sure that every last trace of that stench leaves our home. 

I guess that is excitement enough for one week. We'll see what this week brings. 

The little girls checking out the new pavement. 
Look at Rough Stuff holding one of our little blog cards. "Will this be on the blog, Mom?" Yes, kiddo. I think it will. (I should tell them that with every photo I take! They were actually cooperative!)


Saturday, May 12, 2012

I Smell Chicken

Today, we visited Casa Mesa to place the orders for our furniture. Our style is rustic, sort of Mission-inspired, a little eclectic, and Casa Mesa has exactly what we want. We had a house full of their furniture pre-crock and our goal was to get new pieces that were as close as possible to the old ones.

The problem with Casa Mesa is, we never get out of there with just what we went after. Our last visit to look at a dining table resulted in the purchase of the big metal cock I blogged about here. Cock-a-doodle doo!

I was so touched that the Big Guy would buy me this adorable chicken. He seemed like such a sweetheart. But, as men are prone to do, he was holding his real feelings hostage deep inside. Today, he drug home his own piece of Casa Mesa yard art.

The Big Guy and his new friend.
Today, his true feelings about my big metal chicken emerged.

Dinosaur eats big chicken.
That's some BS right there. I think it's cock envy.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Balancing Act

My reaction yesterday and today upon arrival at my 'house' was:

Holy CRAP! 
Big pile of dirt from under the back room of the house.


My stairs!

And a sort of speechless, mouth-hanging-wide-open OHHH.
A well-balanced room.

And then there was a really loud "y'all are tearing *!#* up again!"

Yup. That was my reaction. But I recovered. For the most part.

Look close at that last pic. That is a room. Balanced on a couple of boards. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.

This is not what I expected to be parked in the driveway:
Not my car. 
At least the crews are feeling comfortable in my house. They're making themselves at home and improvising. They've created a table.
And added coat hooks.
Coats hanging from the plywood window covers.
All of the crews are doing a great job and things were really hopping there the last few days. The back yard has been excavated in preparation for bringing that balanced room up to code.  That requires building a new support structure that meets county code. The concrete was poured for the supports. The electricians were there installing boxes and wiring. The fireplace front came down today. The county codes inspector was there and gave a big thumbs up. And the landscaping rock arrived.
Landscaping stone
Wait...what? Who ordered that? Honey? We need to talk...

The Big Guy was like a ring master at a three ring circus. A ring master who sometimes forgets to announce things. Ahem. 

I was super excited to see new things going into the house. 
This is the room balanced on boards. Eep! 
No, not those kinds of things. These kinds of things:
Electrical stuffs.
This was a highly productive week in the house. Things are really moving now. Earth mostly...but hey, it's moving!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

You'll Sink

The big 'moving home' date is looming closer and there is still so much to do. There are so many things left to buy. So many things left to make decisions about. And, as usual, we crossed as many of those things off the list as possible over the weekend. Fire recovery gives new meaning to weekend warriors.

We visited an eclectic little store and picked up a new waterbed mattress, liner, and heater. Yes, I said waterbed. Yes, we still owned a waterbed. Yes, they still make those. They are hard to come by though. We have desperately missed our waterbed mattress and I'm quite sure that old bed has missed us too. I can't wait to reunite. Our rented bed is better than the hotel bed, but a waterbed it is not.

The salesman at the shop asked if we wanted the baffled support mattress. No, we said. We want the good ol' free-flow mattress. He took a good look at us and said "you know you'll sink."

Of course what he was really thinking was "you do know your fat, right?" Yeah...we were aware of that when we walked in the store. And, we've been sleeping on a waterbed together for over 20 years. And, contrary to this man's thought, we don't lay on the plywood bottom of the bed. I said "we balance each other." Ha! I tried to busy myself looking at incense and yoga mats so I wouldn't crack up or start antagonizing the misguided if well-intentioned salesman.  So, waterbed mattress shopping was perhaps the most entertaining outing we've had since the weed box excursion.

While visiting the fifth lighting center we finally fell in love with and purchased light fixtures for the dining room and kitchen. That was quite an accomplishment. We have found lights we might be able to live with and lights that caught his interest but didn't fly with me and lights that I liked but he could live without, but not lights that we both loved.  

These, we LOVE.
Quoizel 2010-2011 Catalog, Naturals Onyx
The set above will hang above the dining room table. The set below will serve as task lighting over the kitchen island.

Quoizel 2010-2011 Catalog, Naturals Onyx
From the Quoizel Arts & Crafts collection, imperial bronze with butterscotch onyx glass...gorgeous! All those words and the catalog pics just don't do them justice. They look so good lit up! They will look fabulous with the dining room table and the new cabinets. Soon, I will show you pics of the real deal, hung up in my home over the table with paint on the walls...soon. (As soon as we get walls.)

For now...just take a closer look and know that I LOVE them. 

I had an amazing chandelier over my dining room table...that I hated. That's right. Hated. Funny thing is, everyone else loved it. We had so many people tell us they loved it that we teased about auctioning it off when we finally bought a new one. Well, too bad folks. It went into the dumpster with everything else. The kitchen lighting was nice, but the previous owner had personalized it with pink paint. The pink tinge on the glass drove me nuts but I was still crushed when I saw a firefighter throw it out onto a tarp on the front lawn. 

The remains of the kitchen ceiling. 
Rebuilding the entire house after a fire is not exactly how I figured I'd be replacing those ugly light fixtures, but hey...I'm flexible. We had to get the lights picked out this week because the electrician is starting this week and he had to know what to wire in.

Did you hear that?! The electrician is starting! 

We have plumbing. We have HVAC. We have garage doors. We have a roof. And now, we shall have electrical wiring! Oh for joy!

Soon, very soon, I will see my house put back together. And none too soon. Until then, I'll just keep staring at color samples and dreaming of my waterbed. 

My favorite samples. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

When One Door Opens...You Replace It

Apparently, in order to be code compliant, the framing crew had to remove the exterior door from the basement and install a different header.  Somehow, the end result of being code compliant was that the door no longer fit. Ugh.

This resulted in a trip to Lowe’s to pick out a new door.  All in all, not a bad trip. We have a cute new door. It has little blinds inside the window so the dogs can’t mess them up and the kids can’t mess them up and, BONUS, I don’t have to clean them.  I’m sure they’ll break the first month, because I’m optimistic like that. And because the salesman assured us if we had any problems the company would send a representative to our home to make the repair. He seemed to be speaking from experience.  

The door did not require a ton of decision-making effort. ”Do you want white or colored?” White. “Do you want this lovely nine-light or this wickedly-fun-to-play-with model?” Ooh…I’ll take the blinds encased in glass…totally fun to play with. Done. Load it up! (The big guy is making use of that ice cream truck).

New basement door with encased blinds- so much fun!

The plumbing appointment on the other hand, was an overwhelming nightmare. It was a decision-making marathon. We started with the master bath, because that is the fun one.  “Let’s look at sinks. Do you want a decorative bowl, drop-in,  under-mount, or integrated two-tone one-piece?” Uh…  “Do you like the oval, clam, round, square, or diamond shape?” Um… “How about faucets? Are you looking for a single or double handle?” Hmmm… “Finish? Stainless steel, oil-rubbed bronze, brushed nickel?” Oh for the love of all things. “I want it to not hold water around the edge because I’m short and fat and I don’t want the front of my shirt to get wet every time I bump my belly against the counter. I don’t want it to be shiny. Not shiny. Easy to clean. No grooves to get all gunky. Definitely not shiny. Can you do that?” The saleslady scribbled something on her paper. I'm sure it was a derogatory comment. 

We pored over samples and walked the showroom and laid our paint chips on every single slab of marble/polymer/acrylic/whatever surface. Aargh! There is still so much to pick! We haven’t picked the carpet. Or the tile. Or the appliances. Or the lighting. Or the interior doors. Or the rest of the exterior doors. We have lots of samples though. That’s a good thing, right? 

We also got new garage doors this week. I kept forgetting that we needed new garage doors. Apparently, when doors do not open, firefighters open them. And then you have to replace them. 

I used to think people became firefighters so they could play with fire. Not true. They become firefighters so they can break stuff. I mean really, how many jobs would encourage you to bust down doors, tear down walls, throw appliances around, bust out the windows and spray water into houses? Firefighters are awesome. Too bad I'm terrified of fire. 


Ta da!

One new garage door. 
Nice, huh? No more plywood doors. And when I visited the house this week, I found this:

Temporary thermostat.
It's a temporary thermostat! I get so excited to see new things between the bare studs. It makes it feel more like a house than a construction zone.

So, that is the big accomplishment this week. New garage doors, some rearranging of things already built to meet 'code', a new door, and a temporary thermostat. Oh, and more new plumbing. And a whole mess of samples to stare at. Fun, fun stuff.