MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2005

The workshop

Good news and bad news, as those two always seem to travel in pairs on this project. The good news is, we can move all of our air conditioning equipment into the workshop. This is an old building next to the summer kitchen — we have no idea what it’s original purpose might have been, and we’re not even sure why we call it “the workshop” since it’s only recent purpose has been for storage. But it is historic so we are restoring it, even though we had no idea what to do with it. Now we know: It’s for equipment.

How not to notch a beam when installing plumbing.

How not to notch a beam when installing plumbing.

Now it may seem odd to put a bunch of air conditioners inside a building, but we’ve gone to great effort (and expense) to hide all modern-day equipment. These compressors were going to be in a grated pit along the west side of the mansion, which was okay but certainly not ideal; this is much better. (We got the idea from Charming Forge, who had put their air conditioners in the attic.)

The bad news is that there are two 200-year-old sycamore trees between the workshop and the basement, so Adam Moyer (who is handling the HVAC as well as the plumbing) has to figure out to get the refrigerant into the mansion without hurting those trees. His initial idea was to just go around them, but I think his lines will be way too long. We’ll see.

On a related note, we moved the electric box to the privy after PP+L (the local electric provider) wanted to install a four-foot meter box on the outside of the mansion. This decision cost us almost $10,000, so you know I’m not very happy with PP+L at the moment. Now they’re telling us they’re going to install a new pole next to the privy, and put a transformer on it!! Can you imagine? I think these people are out to get us. I don’t know what their problem is, but I didn’t just spend $10,000 to hide the electric, only to put a transformer on a pole next to the mansion…

And finally, the plumber needed us to buy fixtures today, so Dawn went shopping. We had already decided on everything except the showers, but I gave her the names of six local places that carried the brand I wanted. (You can see their products here.) Needless to say, not one of the six had anything in stock that Dawn could look at. They were so helpful, they suggested Dawn order six showers sight-unseen. I don’t think so, unless they want to pay for shipping both ways. So now I’ve been tasked with finding a local dealer in Los Angeles and handling it. Yay, I get to contribute!

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005

I miss

[Excuse me for being maudlin, but I’ve been alone for a week…]

I miss your bright enthusiasm
Your head nestled on my chest
Your laughter, loud and infectious
Your wit and charm
Your attention

I miss hugging you randomly
Laying with you on the couch
Sleeping with you in the car
Lying awake listening to you breathe
Holding you when you cry

I miss your toothbrush dancing with mine
Your hands in my hair
Your nose pressed to mine
Your big brown eyes
Your companionship

I miss Dawn

I miss Dawn

I miss you, and everything about you. Know that you are my partner, my soul mate, my love. Separation has been hard for both of us, but you are in a new town, dealing with new people, tackling a new job, and being responsible for everything. You are working without a net and I want you to know how much you’re appreciated and missed every day. I can’t wait to see you again, and until we are together, forever.


This Old House

This Old House is apparently considering our contractor, Gary Geiselman of Olde York Homes, for their “top 10” list of historic restoration contractors. Very cool; we can’t recommend Gary and his team enough. (And we’re not saying that just to get mentioned in the This Old House article.)

Speaking of which, while Dawn was gone, they installed the new beam to straighten out the old dormer, so of course we have no video of them jacking up the roof. Mike was replacing the roof around the dormer so Dawn climbed out onto the roof — an old, steep, slate roof, I might add — in order to get a picture. Way to go, Dawn! Mike just shook his head and asked again if he could take out an insurance policy on her. As he said, “Not enough to get rich, but it is a guaranteed payout.”

Yesterday Dawn called the local gas company to drain the underground propane tank, and today they showed up and removed it. I guess that’s one less thing we have to deal with later, but now there’s a huge hole in the yard. Did I mention the blind horse? Not a good mix. Dawn assures me the hole will be filled in by tonight. She also took pictures of Brian lying in the hole with a flower on his chest. Very sick. I’ll post it as soon as I get it.

Finally, Dawn signed up with Verizon today. I’ve mentioned before that her T-Mobile service was so bad, people would ask her not to call them. Unfortunately, when Dawn called to complain, they were very rude to her. (Someone actually told her that since he could hear every third word, her coverage was adequate!) She’s got enough problems right now without having to deal with jerks, so I told her to switch and I’d take care of the contract.

SUNDAY, JUNE 19, 2005

Dawn’s home!

For the first time in three and a half months, Dawn came back to LA. For four days.

I certainly kept her busy visiting friends and family, and in between she kept herself busy taking care of the yard and the house. (In my defense, I did a lot of work before she got there, but when you’ve neglected everything for three and a half months, it’s hard to get everything.) I even set up the hot tub for her, but we were so busy she never had a chance to enjoy it.

She also spent a day at her old workplace (making a little money) and we went shopping for engagement rings (spending a lot of money).

We tried to take stock of the project, and realized world peace was a more achievable goal. Now that the basement is finished, Dawn is getting antsy to get the mechanicals in place. The first to go is the ductwork, because it’s the bulkiest, but we’re still working out the details on the (sigh) conventional heating and cooling systems. (With oil approaching $60/barrel, I know I’m going to regret not using geothermal in a few years.)

The roof is almost ready for the roofers, and Dawn has decided on the colors. My cousin’s son (my second cousin?) is coming in at the end of the month to help paint the exterior, and we’re also trying to get our god-children, nieces, nephews, and pretty much anyone who says “hi” to us, to come and help. (We scheduled the wedding in October, so there will be plenty for the family to do. 🙂

Dawn finally updated the furniture list, so we know what the good folks at The Restoration Clinic will be working on for the next six months. I understand they’re already re-stringing the chandeliers. I can’t believe we’ve had everything in storage for nine months and haven’t gotten anything done — out of sight, out of mind, I guess.


Dawn speaks!

Out of the blue, Dawn sent me this synopsis of the day. She’s never done that before, so I’m just posting it verbatim.

Mike continued to prep exterior third and second floor windows with hardener today, Scott was nowhere to be found (day two). Brian showed up right behind Mike at 8:30 and started making the chute for the concrete to go in the basement. I have no idea where I was while this was going on, I think I was priming the exterior molding in the parlor. That is my base of operation for the primer; right next door is my paint removal room for the sashes.

Today Darrin removed all of the second floor windows and sealed them with plastic. He is very much the help. I don’t think we could have done this without him.

Bob got here at 11 and helped Brian. Together they removed another one of those sorry-looking trees from in front of the house and dug out some of the soil. What a mess. They got rid of the tree up the hill somewhere – I don’t want to know.

The bees are in full force and I am buying lots of poison for the guys.

Mike has removed another piece of molding on the back and pulled out all of the nests built over the past 200 years.

Bob brought me an info sheet from Wengers on the boat that we sold for a nominal amount–they are asking $450 and touting that it was C. Columbus’ boat. Why didn’t I think of that?

The dehumidifier is working overtime. I hate picking colors. Regina’s son is going to rescue me from painting the entire house. I went to get my primer today and forgot my colors. Now I have to go back tomorrow morning before anyone gets up and get it 6:30am. Yuck!

I tried to clean the house, but it got too dark so I went down and got a long-deserved shower – Ahhh.

The dust is unbelievable. Sometimes, I wonder if I will ever see through my glasses again. Everything sticks to me. Oh and I left a warm and sunny farm and drove straight into a downpour, got soaked running into Home Depot, did my shopping and ran back through the rain and drove straight out of the downpour, and back to the sunny farm. Go figure. Well at least the guys where able to work with no interruptions.

TUESDAY, JUNE 07, 2005

Geothermal is dead

The geothermal is dead — quote number 3 came in the same as quotes 1 and 2. We may look at air souce heat pumps, but they tell me it would be better to just use the radiators and install air conditioners.

The new colors: red=door, green=shutters, taupe=trim. Dawn says the green is much darker than depicted.

The new colors: red=door, green=shutters, taupe=trim. Dawn says the green is much darker than depicted.



The bank called today — our mortgage request fell through. This is the second one that said everything was goodness and light, and then turned around and said we needed a commercial loan. The first one wasted almost three weeks; this one wasted four weeks. I’m getting very anxious, as we burn through our savings…

Next option is to try two separate loans: One on the house in California, and a smaller loan on the farm. I really didn’t anticipate this, but then so far nothing I’ve predicted has come true:

Expectation Reality
Use savings, finish debt-free Take out a substantial loan
Finish July 2005 Finish spring 2006
Get support from local officials Get hassled by local officials
Install a turn-around in front, turn delapidated tractor shed into parking in back Install parking in front, leave delapidated tractor shed as-is
Pay for restoration as a business expense Pay as a personal expense
Move to PA to start restoration Dawn moves alone; be apart for a year
Live in summer kitchen Live in greenhouse
Have cell phone service Have cell phone doorstop
Don’t touch rest of farm Spend weeks cleaning up rest of farm
Cosmetic repairs Replace entire electric, plumbing, heating, cooling, and septic systems (complete with bog turtle survey)
“Green” Conventional
Open kitchen fireplace Install kitchen island
Open fireplaces; convert to gas Keep small fireplaces, install electric
Complete National Register listing by August 2004 Complete National Register listing by August 2006
Put the electric meter on the center pole Put the electric meter on the privy
Patch the roof Replace the roof
No sprinklers Sprinklers
Fix back porch Remove back porch
Use the furniture as-is Completely restore all the furniture
Underground aerobic treatment unit Sand mound
Wallpaper Paint

On the bright side, how many more things can go wrong?