Road Trip With My Sister!

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I can’t recall a time my sister and I ever went on a road trip together, just the two of us.  When our son, Austin, moved to Visalia last year, we decided to schedule a visit but hadn’t gotten around to it until recently.

He’s not far from Sequoia National Park and we thought we’d do a little day hike there, too.  We try to hike together once a month.  It doesn’t happen, but we try…and when we do hike we hardly ever get lost.  And by ‘hardly ever’ I mean all the time.

Because Rick and I were downsizing our office and also moving out of our upstairs apartment, we also had a 12’ trailer of stuff for him.  Rick has a contractor-type pickup, bare bones (with a nice stereo, natch), so, we took Susan and Daryl’s really super-duper crew cab luxury pickup truck, instead.


Traffic was yucky until we got over Pacheco and then it smoothed out.  I was travelling pretty much at the 55mph required for trailers.  On the way we stop at Sonic’s for their limeade-spritzer-slushy drink…man, does that hit the spot.  That limeade drink is perfect for a hot day.

We arrive at Austin’s around, oh, 8’ish maybe, yeah 5 hours for a 3 hr trip (although its possible we stopped for another limeade somewhere along the way) and pull up in front.  Dinner is a chicken/salsa crockpot dish and smells so good, but first we unload the trailer while we have some daylight left.

Its hot in Visalia, did you know that?  Hot!  Like over 100 during the day.  Fortunately, Austin has ceiling fans in the living room and bedrooms, so its comfortable inside.

The next day we head off to a farmer’s market, then to breakfast.  Back at the house we pack our stuff for the hike.  Austin looks up the directions via the Park’s website.  Marble Falls is a ‘moderate’ hike of 3.7 miles to a waterfall.  Austin’s done this hike with friends before.  The map is loaded on his phone and off we go.

We turn left onto N Fork Drive and are going past rural homes and churches, markets and hotels.  It’s a nice little vacation area, apparently.  We suspected nothing, at this point.

We’re following a couple of other cars.  Road gets rougher and rougher and narrower.  Austin and I check the map, yep, its still the right direction.

The road makes a sharp turn and to the right are a bunch of cows, just chillin’ in the shade.  OK, hi cows.


We keep driving and the potholes are threatening to take out the tires.

The Charger in front of us stops and motions us around.  We drive a little further and there’s a sign that says ‘pavement ends’.  Ummm, what?!?

We naively continue our drive.

Austin checks the map, I check the map, I think we’ve taken a wrong turn!  I could swear the road is a dead end.  I think Google’s directions are telling us to turn around.  Yes, it IS telling us to turn around.   NOW its telling us to turn around?!?

We turn around and head back the way we came, wondering how we could have possibly missed the turn-off.

Narrow road, we come upon another car going in the opposite direction…where are you going, we ask.  They say Marblehead Falls.  We say turn around and follow us, which they do.  Another car going the wrong way, they turn around and follow us.

We are peering at the Google map, watching our little fly pointer-thingy get closer and closer to, wait, the COWS…we were supposed to turn at the COWS!?!


That is NOT a road.  It’s a dry stream bed. You can call it Shepherd’s Saddle Road all you want, but its still a ditch filled with boulders.  You’d need a rock-crawler to drive that road.

NOT possible in a Dodge Dart.  Fine, back to 198 we go.  Unbelievable.  As least we weren’t the only car Google pranked.

FINALLY, finally, we are at Marblehead Falls.  Austin nudges a rock with his car trying to get into a parking ‘space’ and knocks off some small protective cover under the engine.  There’s no oil leaking, so that’s good news, right?

It is HOT.  Did I mention that before?  HOT, like 106 degrees hot!  But, hey, it’s a moderate hike with a waterfall at the end, so refreshing. We’ve done 9 miles on a hot day.  We’ll be fine…so we hit the trail.

Or should I say the trail hit us.  Not much shade.  Sequoia National Park and not a Sequoia in sight. Without my visor and sunglasses, I’d be dying.  Oh, I spoke too soon.  I am dying.  106 degrees.

People are coming in the other direction and saying ‘you’re almost there’.

Moderate hike.  106 degrees.

We’ve gone about 3.2 miles.  Almost there, they say, almost there.  Liars, all.

Our goal

My legs are having no trouble with the hike.  Knees are good.  Heart is a little elevated but I’m not panting.  Yet I have to stop and take a break like every 20 steps.  We sit down when there are shady rocks.  This is so weird.  We drink water, eat grapes.  But we don’t feel better for long before we have to stop again.

Its as if Austin and we are in alternate universes.  He must be hiking a completely different trail than we are, even though he’s right in front of us.  He is like Tigger, he doesn’t even look like he’s sweating in his cargo pants and hiking boots, yet Susan and I have become people we don’t even know, slogging underwater against a current.

We stop for a rest and snack in a little shaded area with a stream that runs through the path.  We stop because the hill in front of us is steep and daunting.

I look at the stream and remember I packed an extra t-shirt in my backpack.  I get it out and put it in the cool water and give it to Susan.  That turned out to be a lifesaver!  We took turns putting the t-shirt around our necks and it really cooled us all down.

I decided to lay out on a rock in the shade with my feet up.  I always carry a pareo and spread it out.  We sent Austin up ahead to scout how ‘not far’ the falls really are.  During the (too long) time it took Austin to get back to us Susan says, I hate to say this but we’ll have to ‘call’ the hike.  It’s not safe for us to continue.  I completely agree.  I love her for admitting that…I wanted to, too, but didn’t want to be the spoilsport (which was dumb of me).

So that’s it, we’re done.  We won’t be able to finish.  We are this close to heat stroke, it’s too hot and we are too tired and what were we thinking?  Now do what anyone would do in our place, we take a nap.


Which was exactly what we needed.  Afterwards was cooler, the sun was on the other side of the hill so there was a lot of shade AND it was mostly downhill!  Ah, yes, this is what a hike should be.

We tell Austin he isn’t allowed to say anything about this hike except ‘I’m impressed my mom and aunt attempted the hike in that heat’.  He is such a trouper, so patient.  He’s been in Visalia for a year and he’s obviously acclimated to the oppressive heat.  Even now, a couple months later, I’m kind of amazed how patient that kid is.  We were completely out of our element in the heat and he never treated us like the idiots we were.

The trip down takes hardly any time at all.  We’re back in the car pulling out of the parking space and there’s a strange dragging sound as we begin driving.  The plastic cover that’s part of the undercarriage has dislodged and torn – maybe when we hit that rock trying to park.  We need something to cut it away.  Perhaps a Park Ranger has large pruning shears?  Maybe a sword?

We are contemplating the problem (no cell service, either) when guy comes over from a campsite.  I’m a former car mechanic, he says, helpfully.  Wow.  He tells us to drive over and park in front of his car. He and Austin jack the car up on one side and break off the snaps of undercarriage cover, jack the car up on the other side and repeat.

Our hero!  His wife tells us that now her hubby will be happy for the rest of the weekend because he got to work on a car!   What a sweetheart for helping us.


The undercarriage cover

Austin pops the broken cover in the trunk and we are FINALLY on our uneventful way home.   3 adventures in one day.

Moral of the story:  Keep your sense of humor, know your limits and believe in the kindness of strangers 😉



It takes forEVER


We are in the home stretch!  You wouldn’t know that by looking, but we are ‘this close’ to being done.

Its been awhile since I posted anything about the kitchen remodel.  At some point it seems to be the new normal and I stop thinking of the milestones.

So, randomly, here are some things that have happened…


I wanted white rocketship styled lights aiming up (for less than $300/ea, if you don’t mind)

Lights were installed.  I couldn’t find the uplighting I wanted – a modern, rocketship shaped light – so we settled on these sleek black ones.  We might paint them later on, depending on how soon we do, or don’t, get used to seeing them.

I tell our clients to never buy light fixtures from Lowe’s or Home Depot, but of course, we do exactly that.  Basically, 1 in 4 lights are bad, for some reason, and we have to exchange it.


There’s that 1 in 4 light that didn’t work…

But, I couldn’t find the lights I wanted elsewhere – especially for a reasonable price – so, Lowe’s is where we bought these lights.


They were hanging slightly crooked, you can see that in the photo, and Rick was trying to straighten them and busted the shade.  Back to the store for a replacement.  Installation of that went well until we flicked on the switch and…nothing…Rick checked the bulbs, the wiring.  Of course it was the fixture itself.  Fortunately, my handyman had saved the workings of the busted lamp and swapped it out with the bad light fixture.  Happy days!

The lamps are above the island and to avoid any issues with lights not be exACTly the same height – since they are mounted on a vaulted ceiling – they are hung at different heights!  Brilliant, right?  He figured out how to straighten them, even.

We have ceiling can lights over the sink area.  If we need more light, we’ll add it later.  Oh, we are going to add lights under the cabinets, so that will be good task lighting.

On the subject of electrical wiring, we always have something weird going on.  One of the dimmable switches isn’t dimming…one of the switches turns off in the up position and on in the down position, but it looks to be wired properly, oh and another switch only turns off in the middle position.  Just more items for the punch list (which is what they call the list of stuff to be fixed).


There’s a little slider to the right of the switch lever for dimming.

The flooring was installed last week.  Apparently, we were a few feet short on our purchase of eucalyptus 5 years ago…or else the previous installer was a little inefficient with his installation.  In any case, we have a couple areas with shorter-than-normal boards…if you see them, pretend you don’t.   I went online to see if I could find eucalyptus flooring and the only stuff they had was coffee-colored or darker.


Area to be feathered in, old with the new


Post-feathering.  I might not have chosen that dark board to go right there, but at least it shows how perfectly the post matches the floor…

And, then there are the areas that are uneven…but we have that in the rest of the house, too, even though we didn’t feel or see any low/high areas back before we moved in…you can feel them now.   Could it be dry rot?  Maybe, but that’s something for my future self to deal with, ha!


This is George Thompson – he is a Jack-of-all-Trades – did the floor, a bunch of demo and also the new framing.  We’ll be calling him back to help rebuild our deck.

Again, you feel those spots, you ignore them.  Just like you’re going to ignore the drywall patching area that looks terrible.  We took a wall out at that spot.  We’ll put the grandfather clock in front of it, you’ll comment on the antique clock and overlook the bumpy area above it.


Is that not pretty?

The counters were measured for the tops 2 weeks ago.  They were supposed to be installed today.  The company has a more important order from McDonalds so we are being pushed out…aargh…very irritating.  This is the ONLY local company that installs the product I want, which means I’m stuck.

I didn’t take a photo of the guy doing the measuring, which was dumb.  He takes slim, long wood veneer and places it where the edge of the counter tops would be on the cabinets and island, creating a big template that he clamps and glues together.  He took the template and the sinks back to the shop with him where the counters will be manufactured and the sinks mounted to the underside.

Then he returns and installs the counters and grinds the holes for the faucets.

After THAT, we can put the fridge and stove in place, install the dishwasher, garbage disposer and microwave and its exhaust hood and install the backsplash.


Under the sink, awaiting appliance installation

I originally wanted a garbage disposal in both sinks but Rick was having an issue re placement of the switch for it.  There’s not enough room in the backsplash area.  They have new-fangled counter-top button switches for them now but Rick wasn’t overly excited by that.  So I’d have to have 1 switch in the cabinet under the sink and then in the backsplash beside the sink for the other of them.  Then we realized that we have a built-in compost bin next to one of the sinks.  Problem solved.  I don’t think we’ll use the garbage disposal much anyway with the compost bin.


{screams like a little girl} Built in trash, recycling and compost bin!!!

After the counters are installed, the cabinet people return to add trim, cabinet pulls and the post wrap and caps.

And all by the Fourth of July, right?  RIGHT?!?  maybe…maybe not.  I’m not gonna fret, life is too short to be upset by stuff I have NO control over.  And I have control over so very little in the grand scheme of things.

I’m lucky to have a handy husband who wants to have a nice kitchen and who doesn’t know how to sit still!  He actually thinks its fine that I’m sitting and doing this instead of painting something or cooking something or sewing something.  Woot-woot!


After scooting around on the floor pulling old staples out…dusty butt print!


Russian Ridge


My sis and I try to go hiking once a month.  That’s our goal, not reality.  There’s a kitchen remodel going on so many weekends have been spent working on that.  More about the kitchen in another post.


work in progress…

Yesterday Susan and I went hiking in her daughter’s neck of the woods – Roni’s a Naturalist for a youth camp in the Pescadero, CA area.  She invited along a friend who had nothing better to do than hike with a coworker and 2 fluffy moms.

The friend is Nick and he’s a medic so that was super-comforting to have him along, you never know what can happen!  Not that we’ve ever had an emergency, but, still…

Turns out Nick isn’t the best trail guide but more on that later 😉

I live in Discovery Bay and Susan lives in Danville so we meet at a local park-n-ride (not really, its a Kaiser facility but I’m afraid they’ll be peeved that we park in their virtually empty parking lot, so I’ll just say a park-n-ride, OK?).

Anyway, we meet there.  Sometimes we go potty inside the  Kaiser  park-n-ride, but this time our location is over an hour away and we aren’t sure if there will be potties there (which would be a travesty).  We decide to wait until we’re almost to the park, then find a place to ‘go’ (TMI?  too bad)

Love driving anywhere with my sister!  We talk and laugh all the way to Alice’s Restaurant (where we planned to have lunch afterwards), contribute to the smelly outhouses, then drive to one of the Russian Ridge trail heads.  Side note: the restaurant across the street from Alice’s is where a friend and his wife got married – The Mountain Terrace – and what a beautiful venue that was!  The ceremony was out on the green grass overlooking hills and dales, then dinner on the terrace.

But, I digress…

Hey, look, there’s a bathroom at the trailhead, so thoughtful.  I’ve downloaded a map of the park but I can’t make heads or tails out of it.  I can’t locate our current location on the tiny phone screen and so I never look at that map again, besides we are with experienced Naturalists, so…

Before we begin, Susan and I activate our Charity Miles app, which will track our hike.  Companies sign up to donate money to our designated charity based on our miles.  This particular hike Johnson and Johnson will donate 25 cents for each mile I walk!  That’s pretty cool.  Charity Miles!  Set it up!  Do it now!

Roni and Nick have arrived and we shrug on our backpacks and set off in the direction recommended by Nick, who has hiked this area before.  We don’t want a lot of steep hilly stuff, because…reasons…


Survey marker at the top of Borel Hill – highest point in San Mateo County

Its a very cool, not cold, foggy morning and the weather’person’ has promised that the fog will burn off and the sun WILL come out.  They didn’t say anything about wind, there’s a lot of wind, chilly blowy wind.

The ups and downs of the trail are smooth and pretty easy, the trails go up and around hills and down through groves of trees.   Completely different types of trails – dry grassy hills covered in wildflowers ( 50 yards away its a dry grassy hill, walk closer and you’ll see masses of yellow wildflowers, closer still and there’s a layer of purple flowers beneath the layer of yellow) and the occasional deer or cattle, lots of lizards, millipedes, moths, butterflies and an endangered garter snake to the wet forest with streams and small waterfalls (out of rubber pipes, but still) and ferns, miner’s lettuce, poison oak/sumac/hemlock, chinese lanterns, lichen.


something or other hemlock, I think, but maybe not

Fairy circles abound and the fog has left dewdrops everywhere – so lovely.

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The rainbow effect on the dew made them irridescent.

Once in awhile we’d see something nifty and we’d stop to look and comment and take photos or what have you.  Susan said ‘look at the way that tree is growing out of…what is that its growing out of?’ and I said ‘its an escarpment or a schism or what is that word for a layer of rock in the ground?’ and Roni says ‘Shazaam?’  And we are silly, so we all bust up laughing and now, that’s my new cuss word.  Go ahead, try it.  Drop your toast butter- side down and curse ‘oh, shazaam’ and you’ll be bumped out of your bad mood almost immediately!


Construction Worker moth

We took a couple extra loops to see where the trails go – one of them was more of a cattle path and I swear I saw the largest cowpie in the history of cowpies!  3 of the 4 of us take a potty break and then we hiked along to the point where there was poison oak nudging across both sides of the trail…that was a big NOPE!

Then we took another trail to the Council Circle


Apparently, also a Geocaching site 

and Roni discovered that if you stand in the middle, facing that low curved wall, your voice echos back at you, like if you were in one of the pavilions at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts.   I stood in that spot and decided the other 3 needed to join me so we could sing!  It was like singing in a stairwell, we sounded spectacular.


Palace of Fine Arts, photo from

After that we headed back, the trail was UPHILL.  Not my favorite thing…uphill and UPhill and UPHILL on and on and on and I needed to rest often, dang it.  By that point my hip was bothering me and my feet were tired.  My knee was fine, so there’s that.

Roni and Nick headed on without us, my sister graciously stayed with me.  We got to the top and Nick is sitting crosslegged at the gate.  He says ‘guess what?  This is a different parking lot!’  He realized when we were walking through the cool shady area much earlier  that we’d taken a wrong turn (he’s thinking to himself the entire time ‘I don’t remember this at ALL!’) but didn’t say anything so we wouldn’t worry…poor guy, he carried that with him for a couple miles.  He coulda told us, Susan and I find ourselves in uncharted territory quite a lot!


Beautiful photo by Don Roberson

Anyway, some of us take another potty break – this time in a proper outhouse – and others of us look at the posted trail map to try and figure out the best way back to ‘our’ parking lot.  Since there is a parking lot between where we are and our final destination, we send the kids on and we’ll meet them at the in-between parking lot.  Not that Susan and I are slow, or anything like that.

The trail is so nice, wandering, gently switch-backing, shady, kind of a perfect end to the hiking day.  We get to the parking lot and Nick is waiting for us because the parking lot is pretty much a pull-out spot for, maybe 3 cars and Susan and I would NEVER have figured this to be THE parking lot where we were supposed to wait!  Nick is very good at being a breadcrumb.  Bless his heart.  And I don’t mean that in a Southern way at all!

Listening to him and Roni talk on the hike, they are obviously so good with kids!  Stories they tell are all positive and full of laughter.  They love their work.  Nick is the ‘laundry fairy’.  He has the unpleasant duty of dealing with cleaning up the messes made by homesick or bedwetting kids (hey, no judgement here, I wet the bed til I was 11 or so).   But even that smelly chore is met with good spirits.

Susan and I check our hiking app and discovered that we’ve hiked 17 MILES!!!  Oh, wait, MY app says 17 miles, her app says almost 9 miles.  I think her app is correct.  I must take teensy weensy steps compared to her…what could be the difference?  Ideas, anyone?

We caravan back around to Alice’s Restaurant and are seated in an area downwind of that smelly outhouse-of-a-bathroom, so we get reseated elsewhere (let others smell sewage while eating their late lunches).

Alice’s Restaurant is at Skyline Blvd, which is a road popular with cars, bicyclists and motorcycles.  There are always groups of them all taking a break and admiring each other’s vehicle of choice.


Photo stolen from Alice’s website…


I’m feeling COLD, sweaty sweatshirt, shorts and that darn wind.  But hot tea and asking the waitress to turn on the patio heater made it a practically perfect experience.  We were a pretty raucous table laughing like goofballs constantly.  I tried to relate some of them here but its harder than you’d think to explain what tickles your funny bone.

Like when Susan noted that the moth (pictured above) must be a construction worker cuz he’s wearing an orange vest.  I thought it was pretty funny but it doesn’t translate very well here.

There were even Spock and Cruella DeVille sightings!  That is, a couple ladies came in together, one with a Spock haircut and the other with half bleached and half black hair.  Dyed hair isn’t that big a deal, but the Spock haircut was…unique…

Then there was the lady and her scruffy white poodle thing, trying to get him to eat french fries by taking a bite and then offering it to the dog…over and over, right down in its face.


We need to get going, so hugs all around and back in our cars to return to that park-n-ride.   Again, a fun time, where Susan and I solve the world’s problems and laugh a lot.  And wouldn’t many of the world’s problems be resolved if people could laugh more?

We promise to hike together once a month, which will end up being every couple months, but the intent is there and that’s half the battle, right 😉





I have one job…

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Last weekend we got the area ready for the drywall people.

The insulation is in and the electrical wiring is updated/moved/augmented – or rather, the other way around!  Can’t do electrical stuff very easily if the insulation is in the way.

I am a perfect helper!  I stand and wait for Rick to say ‘hand me those pliers, blue tape, wrench, power stapler’!  I say:

“I have one job on this lousy ship….” GalaxyQuest is one of my fave movies!!

I am also at the ready to get this bundle un-caught from the many places it finds to get trapped:


The cord is just the right length to get snagged on everything within reach.


Stapling insulation into place


I’m holding a rod that is holding the insulation in place for Rick to staple it


This is a $30 valve for the water supply to the fridge ice-maker.  Rick tried valiantly to save $30 by doing something else but ended up doing this anyway.  Goof…


Cooking chicken teriyaki meatballs on the George Foreman Grill!   These are the leftovers…

Tomorrow the drywall’ers will begin their work, which will taken about 5 days, then the cabinets can be installed!  Oh, pooh, and I haven’t even picked the counter tops yet!!

On a side note:  We had a huge swarm of bees at work last week!  I walked into our back entry and saw a lot of bees bouncing against the windows.  I was, like, what the heck?!?  I looked outside and saw this monstrous cloud of them all circling around a tree and also meandering around everywhere else.  They came in through the open back door and an office window (its an old crank window that opens outward and doesn’t have a screen, if you really want to know).  I was going around catching them in a paper cup and releasing them back into the wild.   They’re bees, not spiders which deserve to be swooped up into a kleenex and flushed down the potty until they are dead……but I digress…

One of our clients is a beekeeper.  He called some of his family to come take the hive.  Its sitting on top of our compost bin waiting for the queen to gather her worker bees to their new home, then the whole kit n kaboodle will be taken to their new ‘forever home’.  awwww…


Such good little drones – following their queen wherever she goes.

Day # infinity (or so it seems)

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Today is Monday.  The wind has picked up and the outside layer of plastic across the openings has been ballooning in and out since its installation late Saturday.  I’ve put chairs against both sides to try and keep the edges from ripping.  So far, so good.  The windows might be installed tomorrow, so the tarp only needs to hold for another 36 hours’ish.  Best laid plans and all that jazz, right?


This was the sky on Saturday…darkness was headed our way!  Rain for sure!


Flimsy barrier against the weather

I’m going in to the office soon and Rick will be at the house til Wednesday night.  He’ll put in a full day of work Thursday, meetings mostly, and then back to it on Friday.  Lots to do on all fronts!


Nasty insulation.  Itchy but not carcinogenic asbestos.

We hired 2 guys from People Ready to demo, and they were here Saturday and 1 is back for the rest of the week.  We’ve got 1 framer from PR here today through Friday…hoping that the house is then fully enclosed and we can work on electrical, drywall, floors, and suchlike over the next 3 weeks until the cabinets get installed.  There will still be work to do after than.  We estimate we won’t be finished until the end of May.


Joe, Ben and Rick

Its been cold – not East Coast cold, thank heaven –  and we’ve been going through firewood like mad.  We’re consuming our own house, well, the old one, anyway.  The wood is so dry there’s hardly any ash and it burns fast.  Its supposed to warm up this week with no rain, so that’s helpful.


Nails and all into the fireplace…

I cooked chicken & prosciutto tortellini on side burner of the BBQ grill on Saturday and fixed salads.  Sunday was pizza, comfort food for Rick after busting his butt all day on Saturday.  Lovely day of rest for him yesterday, although he kept saying he should do SOMEthing…he was pretty pooped, so he ended up puttering around.


Piano nicely protected, fridge in the living room, extra storage UNDER the piano for patio furniture cushions and pillows…

Did the dishes in the bathroom yesterday…it worked out fine!  Except for the ‘don’t anyone use this bathroom until the dishes are dry and put away!’ thing.  I can only handle doing dishes in the bathroom if no one is actually using the bathroom for its intended purpose.  Otherwise…ewwww.  The sink is large enough for rinsing and I’ve got a big plastic bin for hot, soapy water.   I’m pouring out the old dishwater over some geranium plants that I don’t like.  Let’s just see how hardy they are…nothing else seems to kill them.

I was going to buy a dish drainer until Rick remembered that there had been a little one on our boat, Ms Maggie – blog for Ms Maggie is here – and I’d put it in the Salvation Army box but had been too lazy to take the box over there.

Kudos to me for being a slowpoke!

The drywall and siding is removed, the windows and doors are gone, old linoleum and particle board is being dug off the subfloor as we speak – as I type, that is.


Backbreaking work…this is George – he’ll be doing more of what he’s been hired to do (framing things) when Rick gets back from Lowe’s.

There were 3 loads of cr*p hauled to the dump/recycling yesterday.  So much detritus!  Nothing reusable because of the age of the windows – they are all single-pane.  Not good for energy saving, at all.  The cabinets were smelly, so no good for reuse there, either.   The only thing we’re keeping is what we can burn…that sounds weird.  We hired TM Hauling out of Brentwood and he and his partner did a great job.  They’ll be back on Saturday to haul more for us and for our neighbor, too.


Everything plus the kitchen sink!

It feels weird not to be helping the guys with their work.  I’m so used to pitching in.  This time, though, I’d be a hindrance, so better that I keep out of the way.  I’m helping more by doing nothing…that’s a pathetic statement.  Now I really feel useless 😉


Kitchen ceiling before…ugly fluorescent light box


There’s a vaulted ceiling up there!  Lo!  And behold!

Getting it ready for demo

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The next step, now that every darn thing is packed or stacked or shoved into corners, is to remove the appliances from the kitchen.


Coffee bar tucked between the pool table and the atrium.  You can see the protective paper taped down to the floor on the bottom right.

The photo above shows our new ‘coffee bar’ area, since the counter will be gone soon and we can’t be without our lovely morning ritual of having coffee and looking out onto Shell Bay.


How pathetic it looks now.  I guess it always looked that way but we put up with it.  Ugh.  Ugh, ugh and double ugh!

The oven and the microwave are now in the garage, shelves and knobs have been removed from the cabinets.  There’s a last load of dishes in the dishwasher, then it gets stored in the garage, too.


Oven & microwave, plus a window…

The side of the house has the new windows and patio doors plus a growing pile of stuff for the hauler.


Speaking of which, we’ve made some phone calls to try to get someone to help with the demo and with the framing.  No joy yet, but there’s time.  And if we have to do it ourselves, think of the money we’ll save!  I am such a Pollyanna.  Give me a big pile of poop and I’ll get a shovel cuz I’m sure there’s a pony in there somewhere!

Rick is antsy, which is why we started this weekend instead of next weekend.  He doesn’t want to have to be scrambling to get things done before the cabinets arrive.  Smart.

He’s put down a protective layer of carpet on our eucalyptus wood floors and put up tarps to try to keep the dust from invading the rest of the house – but it will anyway, hateful insidious dust.


Gray protective carpet and hanging plastic is in place.

The fridge will be moved to 1 location and then another as work progresses in different spaces – no icemaker for awhile, which might actually be the hardest thing for Rick to endure!

Just in case we want to cook on the BBQ or George Foreman Grill (don’t laugh), I’ve got a variety of utensils and tools, pots and pans available.  Its not like we rented a POD to stash everything so I thought I might as well make those items accessible, right?


Master bedroom – I started with a plan but then it kinda went to pot


Crockpot, grill, pantry items – middle bedroom closet


Boxes of dishes, pans, mugs, glassware, vases, serving dishes – middle bedroom


Dining table on the bed and who knows what else!  Oh, the silverware tray is in there somewhere – front bedroom


Dishes, cooking utensils, barstools – front bedroom

Anyway, this weekend might be the calm before the storm.  Construction projects while we’re living in the house can be tiresome and will probably make me stabby.

There a bottle of Riesling in the fridge (thank you, Natasha!) and I kept out some wine glasses, in case of emergency.  I hope I can find the bottle opener 😉



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Once again its ‘into the fray’ of a remodel.  The kitchen is the victim, er, beneficiary, this time.

The kitchen cabinets had been painted white from their original dark brown.  The counters are bumpy beige tile.  Which isn’t bad in and of itself.  I might have actually chosen that tile in a past life but the ultra-wide dark brown nasty-looking grout has got to go.  Chips, cracks, missing pieces, chunks glued back into place, yeah, that’s a sign the tile has lived past its useful life.

The cabinets screech when you open them and they were made with wood processed with chemicals that are illegal now because they eventually put out unhealthy gases and smell dank and musty.  I have scented candles in every one of them.  The first few months after we moved in I placed jars of vinegar inside them, which was supposed to help reduce the odor, ugh.


The divided enamel sink has chips, scars and rust and the bowls are too small to fit my skillet in it – in them…but skillet in it was more fun to say.

The floor is a lovely beigy yellowy pinky browny flowery thing.  I think it was still in perfect condition until we put the fridge back after painting the room, then we ripped it.  Oh, bother!

Rick has been contemplating a new kitchen for quite awhile.  Its that old domino effect we keep talking about.  Besides the tired cabinets and floor, the windows leak air and need to be replaced – the patio door also scrapes like fingernails down a chalkboard (one of my absolute favorite sounds of all time) and the fridge is on the water side of the kitchen, blocking a pretty fine view.


View from our back deck – that’s Ms Maggie, our 34′ trawler.  Don’t look at the poor pontoon boat, that’s yet another project to be done.

So, once you decide to replace the windows and patio door, you look at the fridge and think, what a stupid place for a fridge in a home with a view.  So you want to move the fridge but there isn’t another spot for it unless you move something else and then that keeps on going until, Voila, you’ve redone the entire kitchen!

And that doesn’t include the ceiling work.  The kitchen ceiling is low with one of those modern grids of fluorescent lights behind brittle and yellowed plastic panels.  Modern for 1980, anyway.  Rick wants to vault that entire kitchen ceiling like the living room.  That’s my man, never one to go 1/2 way!



A few weekends ago we took plans to a cabinet shop in Brentwood, Precision Cabinets…more on that process later.

Last weekend I packed up all (or most) of the kitchen that we won’t need during the project.   I kept out 1 skillet, 1 larger and 1 smaller pot.  I have a George Foreman grill that my mom gave me awhile ago and we have an outdoor BBQ.  We also have a quesadilla maker and a waffle maker and a popcorn maker and 2 crock pots (yes, I often use 2 at a time) those are going into storage!  Well, I’m keeping one of the crock pots at the ready.

Some of the utensils stay out and the rest of them go into storage – spoons, spatulas, mashers, peelers, graters, did you know I have 2 wine bottle openers?  I didn’t.  Only need 1 of those.  We’ll be doing dishes in the bathtub, oh, joy.




All my ‘good’ dishes go into storage, most of the forks, spoons and such.  All of the crystal wineglasses, I’m keeping out two plastic palm tree wineglasses (ha!).  Enough coffee mugs to feed (beverage?) an army all go into storage.


I don’t need a ‘banana saver’

You know what’s gonna happen, right?  I’ll never get most of those items OUT of storage.  I’ll decide I didn’t need them for that long, so I’ll get rid of them!  Maybe its just a hope that I can downsize some…

The kitchen stuff we need to keep on hand will go in bins or baskets on shelving in one of the bedrooms, so convenient!

We bought our appliances about 18 months ago.  So that’s keeping our costs down this year, spreading out the financial pain over a few years.   And when we had the floors done before we moved in, we bought enough of the product to do the kitchen floors, too!  That’s thinking ahead!

Two bedrooms are now an embarrassment of boxes piled up.  This weekend we’ll put down the protection for the existing wood floor and tarp off the rooms getting messy from the rooms that aren’t in a valiant, but probably vain, attempt to keep them dust free.  We’ll move the dining room table and appliances out to the garage or…somewhere…and the fridge goes…um…somewhere, also, but accessible.  I think the hardest thing for us, honestly, will be to do without the icemaker.  And when I say ‘us’ I mean ‘Rick’.  He’s a crazy person when it comes to ice.


This has been on our fridge for about 30 years!

The actual demo of the old cabinets, ceiling, walls, floor, windows (yikes) won’t begin for about 3 weeks but we’re getting things ready early so we aren’t stressed later – see how smart we are!  I’m almost breaking my arm from patting myself on the back!

I know you want to see how ‘professionals’ deal with home projects of their own.  We didn’t even bother to get quotes from multiple cabinet shops.  We just went to 1 place.  I think our biggest shopping nightmare will be to find the counter tops…I figure if I just don’t change anything I won’t have to live with a possibly wrong decision…what a baby I am.

I’ve made wrong decisions before.  I know, you wonder, seeing me and where we live and the fabulous office building where we work, how that could be possible (ha!).  Some rooms have been painted too darn light because I was afraid of going too dark.  Other things are too boring because I was afraid of bold.  Plus, you have to choose cabinets without having them in the house to look at for awhile first!  A picture or sample of a cabinet door isn’t enough.  But, unless you have scads of money to pay someone build you a mockup, that’s what happens.

Therefore, I went with my heart.  What did I really want to see in my kitchen?  The cabinets are nekkid maple.  Well, the true name is ‘maple clear’.  I want light and airy and open.  Our flooring is a busy wood grain and I figured dark cabinets would pull your eye away from the windows.  I don’t want the cabinets to be the focal point of the house.  Am I right?  I dunno, we’ll have to see.  But I didn’t chicken out this time, I went with my heart 😉


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