people, sigh

by dichroic in daily updates

Good thing I have a blog. And a husband. I am very happy to listen to other people talk about their houses, or kids or whatever, but it would sure be nice if sometimes I got to talk about my life!

Relatives, coworkers…. honestly I think in my teen years when I didn’t want to tell my mom anything I was doing, I trained her out of listening. So at least she’s got that excuse (though I left my teens over 30 years ago!) but other people I talk to (or try to!) are just as bad. Conversation is supposed to include give and take!

At least there are two of us involved in this house remodel, so we always have each other to discuss fine details with.

un homage au Notre Dame

by dichroic in daily updates

Do you know the story about the man who wandered around a cathedral being built, asking each person what they were doing? The stone masons told him about cutting rocks to fit togehter so perfectly that they formed arches and flying buttresses; the scultors told about modeling allegories and saints; glassworkers spoke of telling stories in beautiful images that would teach churchgoers the stories they didn’t know how to read, and the woodworkers spoke of walls and screens, roofs and spires. Lastly he put the same question to an old woman sweeping away the dust and shavings of the day. “What am I doing?” she replied, leaning on her broom. “I’m building a cathedral to the glory of God”

That’s the faith it needs to build a cathedral that takes hundreds of years, but I don’t think it even matters whether you believe in God, only whether you are a good, decent and sane person. (You see, I am completely biasing my argument by ignoring those whose God is in their own cruel image, no better than a demon to punish those of whom they disapprove.) If you believe, then a God formed the universe whose workings and laws resulted in humanity, and it’s fitting to express our gratitude by creating whatever beauty we can muster in Their honor. If you don’t believe, then humans striving for goodness created the image of a God to reflect the best that they could find or imagine within themselves, and a cathedral is the physical expression of that striving.

(Again, I am simply omitting the Puritans and those who want a God only to be someone stronger and meaner than themselves who can punish their enemies. I don’t believe that kind of thinking can build a cathedral.)

There was and is beauty and truth in Notre Dame, even if the truth you find depends on which side you examine it from. It’s pure horror to see the spire fall, even if the bell towers were saved. I trust it will be rebuilt once again.


by dichroic in daily updates

This weekend we:

  • erged 12 km (each)
  • Did not race, though we were at the lake on regatta weekend
  • Walked over to the park and checked out the regatta vendors
  • Did row for the first time in months (Ted only)
  • Put in a full workday (Paula only)
  • Watched contractors remove forms from our concrete foundation
  • Met with the cabinet designers
  • Were told by our general contractor that we should buy our appliances now (so cabinet people know what to design around)
  • Bought all the appliances (36” 6-burner range, wall oven, fridge, microwave, wine fridge, downdraft fan, garbage disposal, plus a few miscellaneous trim pieces and water/gas lines, not to mention a free(!) dishwasher that we don’t need and will sell
  • Cleared out furniture and contents that will be in the way when they refinish the floors (might be a couple months away, but they seem to be moving surprisingly fast)
  • Made the obligatory Jerry’s trip (local chain similar to Loew’s or Home Deport, but better)

    Decided what we want to do about sinks and faucets

We decided on the exact green shade for the house exterior last week, and still need to decide on roof, countertops and lighting.

“Progress” photos

by dichroic in daily updates

This early in, it’s all about demolishing and excavating – building up might be some time away.

Other stuff we’ve done this weekend

by dichroic in daily updates

Here’s how much brush we’ve cleared:

Grill building (we bought this last week, before we knew our kitchen was going away- good thing it has a side burner!)

Sweater finishing and blocking – it’s still damp in these photos:

More remodeling photos

by dichroic in daily updates

These show the temporary “kitchen” we’ve set up downstairs as well as where the upstairs one used to be, and the removed section of deck.

Renovation wtfery

by dichroic in daily updates

Last night we signed the contract and scanned and sent it to the general contractor (GC). However, we gave the key to the contractor once we had a verbal agreement with him, since it’s hard to know how often we’ll be able to get down here – we were here at the lake last week, as I wrote, and came back this weekend to finish clearing downed branches and clear up a few more. We got to the house tonight – I’ll be working from home tomorrow.

Then we walked inside ….. and found they had put down a paper mat from the front door all the way up the stairs, left a couple ladders down in the garage, knocked down the back deck where the kitchen will expand into that space, and packed up most of our kitchen …. into unlabeled boxes.

There was no part of the contract that said they’d do any packing for us – and I certainly don’t want to pay for it! We did tell them we needed advance notice for what needed to be packed by the, but wouldn’t you think they give us a rough schedule first? And maybe add a few notes to say what’s in which box?

This isn’t really a bad thing: it’s not like they’re invading the house we actually live in. And I’d rather have a contractor eager to get started than one that didn’t show up. Plus, given our previous difficulties in finding a contractor, we are going to be Very Positive in talking to them about this. But still … wtf??

house expansion – on the cusp

by dichroic in daily updates

Very nearly ready to go! I got a call yesterday that the permit is complete, and and email that the contractor updated the contract per our comments and it’s ready for us to sign. We either need top print, sign, scan and email back, or else sign it in person when we’re there this weekend. Apparently it’s a week until the excavator can get there, then it’s time to break ground!

Northern lights and house expansion

by dichroic in daily updates

We’re back at the lake for the first time since just before the record snows that hit this area in late February. Thee are downs trees and branches everywhere – beside the road, in piles in front of neighbors’ houses, and of course in our yard. We were able to get here early enough yesterday to spend Friday evening with saws in hand, cutting off broken branches and cutting up fallen ones. We spent today moving the boats out the the garage because …. drumroll …. the building permit for our renovation is supposed to be ready Monday and the general contractor is working on the contract, revising it from our comments. With any luck, our long awaited renovation could kick off before the end of this month.

I am in fact having a hell of a birthday month (I mean that in the best way). My birthday was Sunday; birthday week commenced Wednesday with my annual employee review when I learned I’m getting a promotion (same job, bumped up one grade with concomitant substantial raise and stock grant), then the same night I went out for drinks with colleagues (after a couple days of project planning meetings and left after an hour to meet Ted at the tax accountant’s where we learned that we did guess right about how much extra cash to withhold for taxes, so we’re getting a refund, not having to pay. For next year we just need to fine tune it so we get a smaller refund instead of loaning money to the government.

Then Thursday morning we got on a plane and headed to Yellowknife, in northern Canada to fulfill one of my few remainingg bucket list items. We succeeded – we saw the Norther Lights on two of our three nights there and took some fantastic photos. I’ll have to go post those from Ted’s computer; I did get a few on my iPhone but the ones on our DSLR and GoPro are way better. Unfortunately there were some issues with the tour company we booked a package with, notably the part where they contacted us less than a week before the trip and said, essentially, “we made a mistake and you need to send us a lot more money”. We eventually got that resolved; they ate a little of the discrepancy and we covered some by giving up on the daytime activities that had been booked that we didn’t care much about – we didn’t want the days too booked up anyway since we’d be up most of the night. They also picked us up half an hour later than stated on both nights we went out with them. They also booked us in a SUper8 way out on the uninteresting side of town for no apparent reason – everyone else on our tours was in downtown hotels. I’ve given them a scathing review on Trip Advisor, though I did note the guide was friendly and helpful and the cold-weather gear they rented us was great.

THe two nights we successfully saw northern lights were “aurora hunting” – they drive you to a few locations, mostly on the Ice Road across the Great Slave Lake, in order to find a spot with clear skies and visibility. The middle night we went to “Aurora VIllage”; they served us an excellent dinner, but then there wasn’t much to do. They have warm teepees with hot drinks for taking warm-up breaks and dark hills for viewing, but the sky was just too cloudy and there wasn’t much else to do, after we’d walked around and seen the place, but either stand out in the cold or roast by the fire. I suppose that’s probably a glimpse into early life in the North, but I’m sure people would have had a lot more work to keep them busy (and of course wouldn’t have been awake in the middle of the night). I’ve reviewed them on TripAdvisor too, and suggested having storytellers in the tents for when there’s nothing to see or people need to come in and warm up.

There were some delays on the way home but otherwise things went smoothly.

So far a great month! Here’s hoping my luck continues and the renovation kicks off soon and goes relatively smoothly!

Garage cleared out and ready for expansion:

Finally back at the lake!

Aurora photos on iPhone:

Before photos

by dichroic in OR house

I forgot to take photos before we cleared some stuff out of the garage; we removed kayak paddles and paraphernalia that were on the kayak rack, oars, and a windsurfing board and wood that had been stashed on that ceiling rack you can see in the photo of the rowing shell end of the garage. Otherwise, it is as-was this morning. There’s a dumbwaiter in the middle of the boat-side walk that is unusable at present because of the rowing shells; it would be useful for transporting groceries upstairs – if we could get a car on the garage.

And here is the kitchen. Beautiful cabinets and plenty of counter space, but nowhere to store food.