And the road goes on forever...

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Running on Empty

Nearly out of time, money, and most certainly we are out of energy! This house building is sucking us dry, financially and emotionally, and now seems like a never-ending treadmill. It’s an entirely different story building and installing every widget yourself as opposed to handing a contractor plans and saying “Go build our house.”! 

We have given notice at our apartment for the end of April and we should be able to make the move OK but it will be into a house woefully short of being completed. My fear is to how it will all play out with the loans since I am fairly certain in order to obtain the final take out loan things will need to be completely finished. As I see it, on our current schedule, that probably isn’t going to happen until very late summer and even then there will be things like the yard work that I can’t foresee being done this year at all. 

With Marc working on the house every evening until 9 p.m. the pressure is so intense I fear for his health and his “real” job keeps interfering! He is off again to N.D., effectively killing work on the house yet again this week excepting for the fact that the plumber has returned and is completing our water hookups and installation of the water heater. Marc has been working on closet shelving so we can create some space when we move boxes and boxes in shortly. The basement is chuck full of stuff, the RV is chuck full, as is the shop, and we’re starting to fill the upstairs as well and we haven’t even begun to move any of the furniture and needed items yet from the apartment. Things are always such a mess with crap in the way I don’t even bother to take photos anymore. He spent much of last week completing the mechanical room in the basement which I painted with two coats of white paint.
We are awaiting the shower enclosure, the kitchen countertops and sink, and recently ordered our siding. Marc got the main run of kitchen cabinets set but not the area around the stove and refrigerator. Since it will take him awhile to build the kitchen shelving we want, in the meantime, he is placing the melamine boards up for me to use. Those will remain the top layer of the final shelving since I wanted something easy to clean but there will need to be a surround built to cover the angle iron supports. 

I spent an entire day rummaging through thrift and antique stores trying to come up with suitable bathroom mirrors that wouldn’t be flat clip-on builder specials but rather something with some character and finally was successful. I had to paint the main bath framed mirror but figured both were scores at a total cost of less than $50. Budget is ever on the mind now that we are at less than double digits with the money left to us to finish this thing. Things like the front porch, the island and stove hood Marc hoped to build, could now be years away and will have to come out of pocket. It has really killed us that our property in Yuma has not sold, yet continues to need to be supported. In fact, we are seriously discussing selling our RV shortly since realistically it is not a need any longer but only a wish. We've got 18 years with the old girl and it's a hard parting to consider since we'll never be able to replace it.
So the race to the finish is limping along, badly, aka: running on empty. Despite it all however, as the move gets closer the excitement is definitely building to live in Marc’s labor of love! I am such a lucky woman; there aren’t very many husbands the equal of mine—so giving and working so tirelessly and committed towards a dream. He's gone over eight months without a single day off!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Cabinets and Some Floor!

Marc’s due in late tonight after another round of his projects from North Dakota to Minnesota for the past week. He will be glad to get back to building our house rather than dealing with the tragic job fatality in Minnesota. That situation has just become a quagmire of attorneys and insurance people. 

And speaking of quagmire, that’s what we have now out at the house where the snow has melted but the underlying ground has not, creating mud so soft it’s nearly impossible to transgress. Marc left out laying the vinyl in the laundry room figuring we would need a “mud room” for awhile and it’s now living up to its name. He did complete the vinyl in both baths and also set those vanities before leaving. During his absence I purchased the towel bars and TP holders and we also have the sinks on hand so now it’s just a matter of him finalizing the countertop installation and we should be able to have the baths about complete other than the shower surround. We haven’t bothered with toilets as yet because we still have no water. The plumber indicated he would be able to join us this weekend however, so we should get a long way towards completing the plumbing and the gas lines. The furnace is completely installed but awaits the gas lines for final testing before it can be inaugurated. 

This stage of the process has become the thrilling part for me, when the final touches are coming together and I get to see the results of all the planning in my head. I was absolutely overjoyed with our flooring as Marc got it laid in the great room and then sent into heaven when he unwrapped the kitchen cabinets. They go together like a hand and glove! I’m pleased with the rustic wood choice, knotty alder, and the glazed distressed finish is amazing. I wasn’t expecting soft self close drawers and doors since I hadn’t ordered them, but they completed the package.
I opted for two large drawer banks rather than conventional cabinets because it is said drawers hold more and are much easier to access. A lazy Susan will occupy the corner. Since white is our trim color, the white appliances should pick up that as well. While I love the look of stainless appliances, I absolutely abhor its upkeep so determined its a bandwagon I wouldn't jump aboard again (I have it in the RV). Plus, it dents too easily and looks a mess of fingerprints and smudges unless one is anal about its upkeep. White appliances are timeless, easier on the wallet and we're not building this house for resale value.
Marc put together most of our ceiling fan and light in an effort to determine if we needed a longer down rod which we both felt we did. It’s a highly unusual fan called Yellowstone I found at Menards which features bas relief of pine trees and moose and rustic rawhide shades. One of the shades was crushed so I have a replacement on order. It’s always something.
Marc has determined we will move in before the house is completed and we’re hopeful that can occur within about a month but I have my doubts. At least Wisconsin’s weather is getting more cooperative and spring is on its way! And now another long weekend of work awaits us….

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Passing of a Southern Belle

I heard yesterday that a lady very dear to my heart had passed away on February 6th at 92. Lillian was born and raised in Louisville, KY and remained the epitome of gracious southern charm the entire time of my interaction with her despite being in poor health. For about 14 months I traveled five days a week at 8:30 to cook Lilly breakfast and help her with nominal tasks like emptying garbage, defrosting her freezer and rewinding and setting her grandfather clock. And probably most especially, being there as some morning comfort and company over the cup of hot tea I’d bring her. 

She was humorous, witty, sharp, and gave me a glimpse into life in the south well before civil rights. I got to know her granddaughters and heard her anguish over her very disabled son—my age, but significantly impaired his entire adult life due to being covered with Agent Orange in Vietnam. I only learned through her obituary that he had passed before her late last year. Lilly steadfastly refused to leave her beloved and very lovely Yuma home so died in it surrounded by family and Hospice. She touched my life in a special way only the very elderly can do and I will hope to be able to someday emulate her state of grace under pressure. She only gave up when absolutely forced to: rest in peace dear Lilly; you were very beloved by many, including me. 

Not to fill this blog entry with tragedy but Marc has been dealing with it as well; a work accident on one of his projects which claimed the life of a young man through a series of preventable accident and inattention involving a forklift. The fall-out is still to come (not to Blenker Company) as OSHA investigates but it has occupied much of Marc’s time since Friday when it occurred. He has to make arrangements for another set crew to finish up the job and he has to physically visit the site tomorrow. He’s been dejected at the fragileness of life and the throes of losing a good worker who was a decent human being and was way too early in knowing death and leaving behind a young family. Just a moment's inattention; one moment we're here and then we're not. As we all know, death comes to those both young and old, and life teaches us lessons about the passing of both. 

While Marc is away tomorrow I will meet with the carpet installers who will be doing our carpet in the master bedroom and closet. After three weekends of work we are still not completely done with the painting but Marc figures he may be able to get it finished this evening. It just involves one more coat on the great room and kitchen walls. Meanwhile, he has also laid the vinyl in both bathrooms and is in the process of setting the vanities.
We’ve been on massive spending sprees at Menard’s and Lowe’s but there will be more bleeding to come. The next major expense comes the next time Menard’s has a sale when we will need to purchase our siding. Budget and local construction history deems vinyl siding as the most prominent choice to hold up to this climate so that’s what we’ll have, in gray with white shake gable end trim. The exterior of our house is fairly Plain Jane but as time goes by we hope to add some window boxes and maybe even a few courses of some type of brick or stone. 

Our laminate flooring should arrive late this week but Marc has to be out of town for a week again starting Sunday so things will sit for awhile. We’re at the fun part of putting the house together with the finishes but there is not a lot I can do to hasten things along since Marc is the guy with the tools. Lastly, Marc’s sister wanted to see the view we will get when we sit in our spa so Marc had me snap some from inside our great room. Obviously we have a ways to go here before we’ll be hot tub soaking, but it will be lovely and oh so relaxing at some point!