MONDAY, MAY 08, 2006


My cousin blew through Pennsylvania again this weekend, prompted by the furniture restorers saying we needed to pick fabrics today if we wanted them to be finished by mid-June. Nothing like a hard deadline to inspire you.

the logistics constantly amaze me: We need fabric for 9 chairs, 1 chaise lounge, four footstools, and a canopy bed. We could have invaded Normandy for less money, and required less planning! On the one hand, I wish we’d started years ago, but on the other hand I’m glad we’re getting it all done at once. At least this way we’re sure the fabrics go together.

In two days, it’s amazing how much else they accomplised, and it’s even more amazing how much they spent. We now have four amish quilts, an antique settee (sofa) for the parlor, a secretary/dresser for Bill’s room, a card table for the Boys’ room, light fixtures for the boys’ room and summer kitchen, and appliances for one of the kitchenettes. (I won’t point out that the only thing that was on our list was the light fixtures.)

Of course I knew this was coming, but I tend to prefer these things as potential abstractions, not items on the credit card statement.

THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2005

Slow news week

Speedwell Forge Dairy

Speedwell Forge Dairy

Actually, lots of things have been going on, I’ve just been in denial all week. (It’s my ‘overload’ defense, and it does not serve me well.) We’re moving ahead with the appeal on the sprinkler system, as nobody wants to talk sense there. (I swear they’d be happier if we bulldozed the building and put up a Wal-mart.) There was some confusion about how to file the appeal, with the township pointing at the code inspector and the code inspector pointing at the township, but I think Dawn got that straightened out today.

Meanwhile, Mike is making good progress framing out the baths and shoring up the dormers. In fact, he’s moving too fast — he wants to get the ductwork in next, but I haven’t decided if we’re doing a conventional system or a geothermal system yet. It’s strictly a cash flow issue; hence the denial. Thinking about our cash flow for the next couple of years is an extraordinaly depressing activity.

Gary Geiselman, our contractor, paid Dawn a back-handed compliment: He said when we first met, and I was volunteering Dawn for much of the grunt work to save costs, he didn’t think Dawn would last two weeks. Well, it’s been two months now and Dawn is still going strong, so Gary volunteered her to do all the exterior wood and window sashes as well. It’s the Pennsylvania Dutch equivalent of “G.I. Jane.”

SUNDAY, MARCH 06, 2005

Moving Day

Dawn farewell dinner party in LA 2005

Dawn farewell dinner party in LA 2005

Dawn flew to Pennsylvania today. There were a lot of tears, and a lot of questions — is it worth being apart? Is there a better way? Will Dawn and her mother kill each other? Hopefully, in a year, we’ll know it was worth it.

She took a lot of new toys with her – a digital piano for practicing, a laptop with wireless high-speed Internet access, a camcorder, and a bunch of DVDs from her friends. We even got webcams so we can talk to each other at night. It was Christmas in March. (No, really — I didn’t give her anything at Christmas because I knew this was coming.)


Being green

I mentioned that at the PAII conference in April, the Pine Hurst Inn did a presentation on green building principles. In fact, their mission statement is:

To be the best bed & breakfast in the Chequamegan Bay area, providing the highest level of hospitality and guest experience while preserving and promoting the unique historical and environmentally sensitive nature of our property and the area. We are committed to sustainability in all practices.

I’ve always tried to be cognizant of the long-term consequences of my actions, and like to consider myself environmentally benign, and the restoration work was really weighing on me. In my defense, I had talked to a company that installed solar electric in Lancaster, but he told me it wasn’t worth it. Lancaster is one of the few places that doesn’t subsidize solar, and to meet the peak demands of a B&B would require such a large installation that we’d never recoup our investment. (Incidentally, he said most of his work was installing solar panels for Amish families.) We also looked at aerobic treatment units, which treat the septic on-site (rather than having it pumped and taken away). Again, the salesman talked me out of it – too expensive, and since we don’t have any restrictions (small lot, buried system, etc.) it wasn’t worthwhile. I tried to find a contractor who had experience with “green” building, but of the two or three I found, none of them had much experience with historic buildings and, unfortunately, in our situation historic had to take precedence. Finally, I looked into geothermal heating/cooling systems. These work by drilling wells, and tapping into the constant temperatures underground. Alas, I’ve gotten very mixed reviews – some love them, some hate them – but the first bid came in at an astronomical amount, so it may not even be an option. We’re in the process of getting a second bid. Of course, when we open, I’ll try to use non-toxic and organic products (I’ve found a line of “organic mattresses” that look pretty good, as well as organic cotton towels and sheets) and we’ll buy Energy efficient appliances, gardening, composting, etc. But in terms of a meaningful commitment in the home restoration, my failure has been complete.