Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's cold in the north country!

We came back up on Monday just in time, literally seconds before a very nasty looking, but not-too-severe storm hit here. The sun was just going down behind the mountains, and I was hypnotized (meaning didn't take photos) by the bright red sky in contrast with the black clouds.

Most of the activity on the house is interior until they get the windows and siding to install. It has been pretty damp and chilly (high of 50° F), cutting down on our trips to the creek and the house, More pics of the house before I leave on Friday, promise. I did find time for a 2-hour walk with Friend Jane and her beagles yesterday. We are supposed to walk again tomorrow, with Lester and Sophie, but I am not so sure that their old bodies would do any better than mine...still aching a bit...too much inactivity lately, sitting in front of this computer screen.

Here's a video of today's walk to the creek. Every single time I walked outside, thinking it was sunny, the rain would start again, as it did here. Dogs didn't seem to mind...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hard to believe

This photo is from July 8, such a short time ago, when they had not even broken ground for Lester's Flat. These are my chairs on the yet-to-be-created front porch. (Compare with front-porch photo from Sept 19.) Unfortunately the big apple tree on the right broke apart when they tried to move it, but we have so many other apple trees that, with therapy, we will probably get over that.

I have been home in NJ for a week now, and I do miss being up there to watch over things. Lester, Sophie and I also miss our daily walks to the creek. Walking them on leashes up Cinnaminson Ave to pick up my car at the mechanic's today just doesn't measure up. But I did need those new tires and front brakes to make all that traveling back and forth a bit safer.

Coming back north on Monday—I have to rush a big check to the builder to cover the window purchase. In another 2 weeks, it should be looking like a totally finished house...if only from the outside.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Windows and lights and such

With any luck, the window order is finally going in this week, after one more check-up by the doctors. They should be delivered in about 2 weeks, although the 5-wide unit for the living room could take a bit longer. Once the windows go in, the siding can go on, and the rest of the exterior can be finished up before it starts snowing up there in the north country.

I am in my shopping stage, which definitely terrifies The Husband! I have to purchase all those fun things like toilets and bathtubs and sinks and kitchen counters and dishwashers and ovens—you know, all those things that when you find out how expensive they really are, it makes you cringe. I am making good progress though, and hopefully not blowing the budget. Two great finds, IMHO, are the lights in these pictures. The first is for the front porch, next to the front door, the second—two of them for over the kitchen island. Both of these were clearance items I found online, one from Pottery Barn and the other from Sundance Catalog. Caught the pendants just before they disappeared.

But I might have to take a blacksmithing class at the Farmer's Museum, because I just refuse to pay $9 apiece for knobs for the kitchen cabinets...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Big black holes for windows

No problem driving home this time, just a problem with being stupid and forgetting to load my work files on the flash drive...DUH! I was going to drive back up on Monday to retrieve all of my hard work, but decided it would take more time to drive there than to just redo it all. That, and they needed it done by Monday anyway.

So the roof on the house is shingled, vented and trimmed. I thought the windows were ordered in August, but there has been some confusion, and even a mistake on the August order, so it is just as well it didn't go through. Now I am waiting to hear back from Jim the Builder that he did get the e-mail from the architect back in August changing the rough openings on 2 of the bedroom windows. If they were framed in the wrong size, there will be some angry workers out there! It is difficult to keep the communication lines open between builder and architect...and I don't want to be responsible for relaying all the information, exactly for this reason. Then they both have someone to blame (me!) if something goes wrong.

I am making progress on flooring, bathrooms and kitchen. I need to make a date with Wayne the Well Guy to make sure the well connection gets done soon. I need to also meet with the Farm Table Guy to see if he will create the whole island, or just the top, and I need to pick out an oven so that the cabinet layout can be completed. That ought to keep me out of trouble for awhile.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kitchen design 101

I met with Karen the Kitchen Designer today in Cooperstown—our second meeting. We made some more progress in designing the kitchen on a moderately low budget. Fortunately my choice of a simple farmhouse/Shaker style is less expensive than the more ornate versions that I dislike.

In our first meeting I settled on a cabinet style that The Husband Ok'd. He's giving into my need for a soapstone countertop, and I gave into both the designer's and architect's use of an island, rather than the farmhouse table I thought I wanted. But the easy solution was getting the local guy who makes some beautiful farm tables to either create the whole island, or get the base from the hardware store and have him milk paint it, and then he provides the island's wood top, legs for the counter area, and also makes some open wall shelves (instead of upper cabinets) with the same milk paint finish. (

The tough part was actually finding a widespread faucet to go with the Kohler cast iron sink I chose. Too many modern designs that don't work for me, not enough old-fashioned looks that weren't either ridiculously expensive, or just plain ugly. The one in the pic looks good in wrought iron, but I really didn't like it in the chrome. Even though several folks have recommended Moen, I might have to go with another brand just to find one I like. (BTW: This is one of the cheaper ones!)

Back to the web shopping...

Shout out to Jersey Girl: Thanks for Granny's recipe for mac and cheese! It was excellent, even in the toaster oven, with raw milk, raw milk cheddar, fresh eggs, fresh breadcrumbs and some horseradish mustard just for kicks. I had that, and salmon stuffed with crab florentine, and some Cupcake Vineyard Petite Sirah...a perfect combination!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trimmed and fit

Haven't been doing my duty and taking photos while here in NY this time, because nothing too dramatic is going on. As far as I know, the window order is held up for no reason, and that will hold up the siding. In the meantime, they want to work outside as much as possible while the weather is still nice...and very nice it is!

I have gotten in the habit of having a glass of wine on the back porch, or in the backyard (see photo 2), of the new house, while watching the sun go down. The dogs are roaming free, and for the most part, come back when called. Although they do seem to notice when I am chatting with The Husband, or Jersey Girl, on the cellphone, and they tend to wander off as soon as they realize I am not paying attention. Lester took yet another dip in the creek and Sophie visited the farm next door while I was yacking on the phone tonight.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Sunday visit from The Handsome Guy

Mom (Chrissy) and Dad (Jim the Builder) brought The Handsome Guy out for a visit on this damp, drizzly Sunday afternoon. He had his serious face on most of the time he was here, but I think I saw him give a thumbs up on the house.

Kaya, Lester and Sophie had such a good romp down by the creek that I think all three are going to be exhausted—my two for the rest of the day—Kaya for at least another hour while the family is checking out the Fly Creek Cider Mill.

It's so grey out there today that I spent some time cleaning up The Dump this morning, not that it really needed it (ha). Going back to read my book, Suite Francaise, and then try to figure out what to do for dinner without the use of my grill, again.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Trim, heat, kwh and the view preserved!

Inside and out, things are happening. Exterior trim is being painted (pure white) and installed (first photo). The plumber was here most of today finishing up some things while he had the house to himself. You can see the radiant floor heat tubing in the second floor (second photo). Electricity is up and running...check out the 00002 kilowatt hours on the meter...that won't last long.

And, my favorite thing to report—the garage is finally where I want it. If you click on the last photo to view large, where Sophie is standing is the one corner of the garage that was blocking the view. Now all it blocks is the back of the Magic Barn. I can live with that!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Good thing I grilled last night

We took our daily walk to the creek this morning, and Lester found his first big turtle, which he barked at and pawed at until the poor thing probably died of fright. I finally got to him to take it away, but the turtle was still shellbound when I left him.

It started raining around noon, and has gotten steadily worse. For tonight's blue plate: last night's grilled chicken with rice and garam masala sauce defrosted from one of my more adventurous meals at home.

I did some wandering food shopping today: raw milk and cheddar from the Amish farm, fresh eggs from Anna's junk store, fresh oatmeal bread and plum preserves from a different Amish farm that Anna told me about, and then the usual less interesting food from the grocery store.

They were painting and installing exterior trim on the house today, but I didn't get any good photos because of the rain. Instead I'll post one from a very hot and sunny day just a few weeks ago...and tonight I had to put the heater on (just for a minute, it was damp and cold in The Dump). Weather changes too fast for me up here!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The new blue-plate special

The rain held off, so I had some more chicken on the grill, with corn from The Husband's little corn field (oh, I mean your really big corn field, honey!). Considering the corn has been totally neglected, and just barely spared by the bulldozers, it was excellent, and very sweet...just like The Husband!

They finished the roof shingles today, and added the ridge vent. There is some hold-up on the window order which I will try to resolve tomorrow. I am going to order some of the plumbing fixtures for the downstairs bath, even if we don't really have the money, just because I got a good deal on some showroom samples (thanks, Kelly). Also, the electric was finally connected, and I need to talk to Wayne the Well Guy about whether we can keep the well hooked up here at The Dump until the very end when we can "move in" to our almost-finished new house.

Harvard Slate and the poor old Mac

The roof is almost completely shingled. Now that I see it in person, Harvard slate was definitely the best color choice.

I haven't been back to talk to the guys yet, because I am trying to resolve some software issues on my old iMac. I had to purchase an upgrade to the operating system so that I could upgrade my Quark software, so that I could continue to work from up here in NY. It's a real shame that everything Mac is considered antiquated after 3 or 4 years. The computer itself works fine, but nothing will run unless you upgrade the OS, and after a certain point there isn't enough memory to do that. Then what am I supposed to do, just throw it in the trash? Oh wait, you can't do that either...

One hour later: Successfully installed Tiger. Who knew that my computer speaks 15 languages, including Dutch, Finnish, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian? Wish I could say the same for me.

Four hours later: Installed Tiger and then tried to upgrade Quark (which is the reason I had to buy and install Tiger!). Get an error message saying Tiger needs to be updated to 10.4.11. So I go through all that, and then succeed in upgrading Quark. Then I decide to be clever with my newly updated OLD Mac, and I download and update Firefox. As soon as it installs, it tells me I have to upgrade THAT to a later version. So I go again, and it tells me I need to update my Adobe Flash Player...this is neverending! But at least this old Mac will be ever so chic and sleek when I am done...if ever.

If you think this is boring for you to read, imagine me sitting here for 5 hours and waiting for all this magic.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A visit with Jersey in Jersey

Lester and Sophie had a nice visit with Jersey Girl while we were home in NJ. We are headed back to NY today to see what progress they have made since Labor Day. We are now at the point where we have to figure out how to best spend the rest of the money from the loan. Do we finish the kitchen and bathrooms? Or the floors and drywall?

I am going to the bank in Cooperstown this week to see if we might get a small loan to make up the difference. If not, at least we'll have a house that is finished from the outside. It will be tough to walk away from it after Thanksgiving and not come back until next spring. Maybe we'll have to sneak up a few times over the winter...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A lifetime project

Not my best movie's hard to walk through the big weeds and film at the same time. The guys repaired the dock, and Scott used the big metal monster to move it back to the creek for us. It will be especially handy when it is too cold to walk in the water as we have been doing for the past few months. I think Cousin Greg is going to help us secure this monstrosity to make it actually useful as a bridge. He already mows our "lawn", so now we will really owe him!

What a difference it will be to be able to wander the whole property without getting wet feet. The best part is in the back by the creek, and we have had limited access to it thus far. There are plenty of neglected apple trees over there that we have not even tried to bring back. Next year we need to start blazing some trails in the early spring, when the weeds are just starting to come up. It will be easier to maintain a few trails than to try to mow the whole 22 acres. This will truly be a lifetime project.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Worst road trip ever!

The NE extension was closed for a big accident. They directed everyone off at the Lehigh Valley exit, making it sound so easy to bypass the accident and come back on at the Quakertown exit...but for one problem, major traffic congestion on Rt 309 AND construction, down to one lane.

Left NY at 3 pm, got stuck in the mess at 6:15, didn't get home until 10:45. Lucky my hungry dogs are so well behaved in the car. Oh, and did I mention that we were "sandwiched" between 2 tractor-trailers packed solid with cattle! Don't want to think about where they were headed...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

On the road again

Mostly the same crew from yesterday is here again today. Gordy and the guys are working inside; Jesse the Electrician, Scott the Excavator and his guy working outside.

The grand canyon with all the right connections has been filled in, and Scott is doing the finish grade around the house.

Jesse is working on getting the electric connection to the house so the guys can trade the generator for real power.

Dogs and I are headed back to NJ for Labor Day weekend. Hope to stop in to visit our biggest blog fan, Jersey Girl. Hi Jersey!

I'll clean up the last few days' posts, put together another slideshow over the weekend, and then come back here midweek for more fun and frolic.

BTW, Jane, that lasagna and meatballs was EXCELLENT! Thanks!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Men with metal monsters

Shovel pic: they filled in that whole septic tank hole with one little shovel! Well, not really, but you can believe that if you want to.

They dug the trench to go from The Dump's existing well back to the new house. The Well Guys who fixed up the well housing and gave us a new pump and pressure tank back in '05 came by today to talk to the excavator and electrician about what was going on down there. They were asking me questions I couldn't answer. Thanks, Well Guys, mighty nice of you to come by on such short notice! It is amazing how much earth they can disturb and replace in a day. Scott the Excavator was still out there at 5:30 when I left, filling in the trench.

The guys also repaired the dock today. It is better than new, really, they added some reinforcement. And I did succeed in making it back to where we want the dock to go, but only by walking through the creek. It remains to be seen if they can get it back there with one of those metal monsters, and if the dock will actually span the space where we want it to cross the creek.

Going to Jane and Mac's for some homemade lasagna tonight. Doing far too much good eatin' up here! I'll have to walk further into the woods tomorrow to make up for it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Busy Tuesday

Too much was going on today, and I didn't take enough photos. At least I was here for the important parts. The concrete septic tank was installed (in the hole in the second photo) and leach fields in place but nothing filled in yet. (I might need to update this later to correct language, but I am merely a graphic artist trying to talk builder-lingo.)

I had a good long talk with Scott the Excavator and Jim the Builder today (both in the photo with a newly coiffed Kaya). Scott expects to finish up his work this week. He will dig the trench for all the things that need to make it back to the house (water, electric, phone line for DSL) and he said he can finish grading AND drag the dock back to the creek for us (no easy task without his equipment, this thing is HEAVY). Electrician and plumber are also supposed to make an appearance this week.

I spent most of the afternoon at Northrup's (bath showroom) and Endwell Carpet (bamboo, cork, slate and linoleum flooring). Great fun picking out this stuff, but time-consuming and difficult to make final choices without The Husband's input. I am taking home a lot of samples with me this Thursday, maybe by next week when I come back I will have some decisions made.

Coyotes are howling again out there tonight. Makes me realize just how much "in the North country" I really am. Think I'll close the windows and hope I can't hear them with a pillow over my head...quite the chilling sound! Sort of a cross between a rooster, a turkey, and a hound dog...if you can imagine that. Maybe I need to make you a visual of that someday.