Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just Worrying

My kitchen has been finished for six weeks, so I haven't felt compelled to write anything until this morning. As I sat in my bed, propped by pillows and surrounded by AP English analysis essays, I was prompted by a story on the Sunday Morning Today program to journal some of my feelings, more specifically some of the things I've been worrying about.

Beginning last Sunday, November 8, worries seem to overwhelm me. I'm just going to identify some of these worries since I can't tell too many details about some of these concerns.

1. My Job. Can I keep reading essays for the next 15 years?  Is there something else I can do with my education, specialized training, and skills?

Even though these questions crop up frequently, and I have even investigated earning some kind of law degree, I can't imagine doing anything else other than teaching. Am I just in a rut? Or is teaching my life's calling?

2. My House. Will I stay here the rest of my life? Would I be able to sell this house now that I have a kitchen of my dreams? Will I end up living in Cedar City without my children close by? Would I move somewhere else if the "perfect job" became available?

3.  My Children. Where will Julie and Corey go to further their education? Will they find jobs after they earn PhD degrees? Will Jason be deployed again if he reenlists in the National Guard? How will Rachel and Robbie get along without him? Will he be safe? How often will I see my grandchildren, whom I love so much? Will Kevin stay in Vernal or ever move back to Cedar City? How would he make a living if he does move back here?

4.  My Finances. Why do I spend so much money and save so little? How can I ever afford to retire? Does it even make a difference to save for retirement?

5.  My Weight. Why am I eating so much again? Am I doomed to be heavy for the rest of my life? Obviously, if I keep eating this way, I will be heavy! So why don't/can't I do something differently?

These are all the questions racing through my mind in the past week, since November 8. Can you imagine what I found to worry about before last Sunday? And for the next week?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Almost Finished -- At Last!

Even though I hoped the kitchen would be completely finished by Saturday's end, it isn't. But it's dang close!

Friday after school, Corey, Jared (one of our friends), and I picked up my appliances from Sears and took them home. What a comical silent movie that would have been. I had Corey drive around to the back of my house, via the walking trail, where we could just take the appliances through my new 6-foot sliding door. For construction purposes, Wayne has laid a plank on top of a dirt pile and a step ladder, leading into the kitchen. I laid another plank going up the dirt pile. So, Corey pulled each appliance up the planks (with the dolly we borrowed from Sears), while Jared pushed. This method worked great with the relatively lightweight dishwasher. The medium-weight stove required a bit more pushing, and the huge refrigerator created several problems.

First of all, Corey strapped the fridge to the appliance dolly while it was still in the truck, then Jared and I lowered it to the ground with Corey holding it back from crashing. The planks leading into the kitchen are not the thickest, sturdiest pieces of board, so we all jumped on them to see if they could hold the fridge's weight. Hopefully, the neighbors were all watching! Anyway, long story short . . . Corey and Jared pulled and pushed the monster up the plank, only to discover it wouldn't go through the door, so back down the plank it went. Corey took off the sliding door, and they tried again. It still wouldn't fit, -- a mere 1/2" too wide. Intead of going back down, Corey just wanted to take off the fridge doors off. Jared, however, had to leave to get CV's football field ready for that night's game, so Corey and I decided to wait until after the game when Kevin would be there help.

In the meantime, perhaps you're wondering where Wayne, the faithful contractor, was during all this. Well, so were we! You have to realize that once he finally began my kitchen project, he had something happening here every day. And he was the one who scheduled the appliance pick up after school, but he didn't show up. I called and called his cell phone, but he didn't answer and he didn't call me either. I was really worried -- what if he had absconded with my latest cash draft? -- until Corey listened to the operator's message on Wayne's phone that said it "had been disconnected and was not longer in service." When I came home after the game, Kevin told me Wayne had stopped by, seen the fridge stuck in the slider, and promised to return first thing Saturday morning. He had lost his phone at CV's gulf tournament in St. George on Thursday.
(And, you all have to know he would never take my money and run! That's how rumors are started!)

Anyway, Corey and Kevin finally worked the fridge into the house Friday night, and we agreed that we didn't want to do anything else until Saturday morning. Saturday was a busy day. Kevin and Wayne installed the microwave; Corey and Kevin hooked up the stove, and Wayne installed the water line to the fridge and had it cooling down quickly. Audree, the kids, and I went to Home Depot to pick up a new sink faucet, a little handy gadget that will allow me to turn my garbage disposal on at the sink, and all new outlets, switches, and plate covers.

When I came home from school on Friday, I was shocked to discover that the electrician had installed UGLY  ivory outlets and switches. I realized that, even though I had left a note telling him which fixtures I wanted and had attached the note to my sample switch cover, I had used the word IVORY, and that's exactly the color he used. They were awful and were NOT the color I had wanted. When we went to Home Depot, I discovered that the color I wanted was not ivory but light almond. After the appliances were installed, Kevin taught Julie and I how to change out the outlets and switches. Thank heavens he shut off the power to the kitchen! Now I'm very happy with the electricals.

This morning Kevin raised the two ceiling fans which the electrician had hung from 3" extension rods. Now the fans are closer to the ceiling and don't look as gigantic as they did before.

When I began this project, I told Wayne that I didn't want to impose on my children so he needed to have workers here to do everything. But then I realized I needed/wanted more lights, more drawers, more other little things not included in the budget, and I needed to provide quite a bit of the labor. My kids have willingly pitched in and done everything we needed them to, and they have never complained. Kevin spent his week's vacation down here, and he returned this weekend to help. Corey, Audree, and Julie have painted, hauled, advised, and done electrical work. Brook and Porter have helped me carry things from the car and garage into the kitchen, have emptied trash, and have taken care of themselve while everyone else was too busy to play with them. Jason and Rachel have cheered us on from Salt Lake and wished they could be here to help. I realized yesterday that, with all of us working together on my kitchen, my house is indeed becoming the "family home," the place they'll think of when they think of as home.

Tomorrow:  Cabinets will be finished (if drawer pulls and knobs came in on Friday). Electrician will finish installing outside lights, two more lights in the kitchen, and hopefully the phone connection under the desk. Plumber will hook up the water to the sink and dishwasher and install the dishwasher and garbage disposal.

Sometime next week, Wayne will do the remaining trim work.  I think I can say that the kitchen will be finished by next weekend -- I hope!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Help Me Choose!

Okay, the electrician returns Wednesday or Thursday to finish up. Now I need to decide what color outlets and switches to use -- chocolate brown or ivory. As you can see, the chocolate brings out the colors in the counter very nicely. On the other hand, the ivory is more neutral. Neither blends invisibly into the wall, so they'll both be fairly visible. Another factor is that the drawer pulls and door handles have a blackish, burnt ironized finish, so they're quite dark.

Please let me know what you think by taking the poll off to the right. Just think, you get to have a small say in finishing my kitchen! And thanks!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's Almost Finished!

Even though it's Labor Day weekend, workers still showed up to work on my house. I really shouldn't refer to Wayne, my contractor, as a worker, but he sure did put in a long, hard day's work.

As you can see, I have counter tops, doors, and drawer faces, but no handles and knobs yet. Those will be installed Tuesday or Wednesday.

The counter is a granite-like laminate. I've had nightmares for weeks, worrying if this laminate would look okay -- and it looks great! As you can see, the cabinet maker added a little strip of wood trim which steps up the quality and class of my counter.
Wayne and his friend Vance (again not just another worker!) spent the day installing half the floor, a medium-colored cherry laminate flooring. Neither one had installed this kind of floor before and they had to do a lot more cutting and trimming than they had planned to, so progress was slow for a while. As I have for this entire project, I enjoyed listening to them figure out how they were going to get the job done. When I watch home improvement shows on TV now, I appreciate the technical skills that go into their projects.
I read in a design magazine before we began working on my kitchen that the floor should be one shade darker than the cabinets. Hopefully you can tell that my floor follows that strategy. Vance and Wayne tell me that it looks great, which makes me feel good because they've been doing this building thing for a long time and know what they're talking about.
On the schedule for next week:
Monday & Tuesday: Ron will install cabinet knobs and handles and finish installing doors and appliance garage
Tuesday & Wednesday: lumber will come to install sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator, and connect water
Thursday & Friday: Electrician will install stove & microwave, as well as all my fixtures. He also needs to run wiring on the back of the bar for those outlets and run wiring for a phone jack under the desk and wiring for new lighting in the bathrooms. My son Kevin will come from Vernal to install those lights for me.
Friday: Ron returns one last time to install four pull out drawers. I evidently didn't clarify that I wanted pull out drawers on all the base cabinets, so I'll pay a little extra for those but they'll be worth it in the long run.
Saturday: Start putting things away!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Look! Cabinets!

Finally, the cabinets are getting installed. Against the far side is a desk, 2 file drawers, open shelves, and storage above. Above the desk are 2 cupboards with shelves and slots for all my junk mail. In the corner on the left side is a broom closet and a pantry. Notice on the front left, I have great storage for my cookie sheets and other baking pans.

Looking toward the window, you can see where my stove will go, a nice bank of drawers, the spot for a lazy Susan, and my sink cupboard. Look at all those cupboards above! And check out the attractive bridge over the window. No dishwasher yet, but soon. Since someone miscalculated, my sink cupboard is not centered exactly under the window, making the bottom cabinet jut out past the upper cabinet. The cabinet maker is going to install some rounded shelves on the upper cupboard to even out that space--no charge! Can you see all the outlets I asked for? Pretty smart, huh, Mom! Oh, yes, an appliance garage goes in the corner above the lazy Susan.

And last, but not least, my 8-foot bar. I can't wait to use all this counter space--don't know how or for what, but it will be fun! The bar behind the counter is raised about 6 inches, hopefully to block out any mess (never any mess!) from the living room. Four deep drawers will store plates, bowls, and pans. I'm not sure what goes on the middle pull-out shelves. In fact, I'm not sure how I'll fill all these cupboards. More Pampered Chef parties?!
You can also see that we've painted. Corey, Audree, Julie, and I painted last weekend. I loved the green and tan combination from before, so I kept the same color scheme--tan on living room and dining room walls and light sage green all around the kitchen. Unfortunately, the flooring store did not order my floor, so Wayne (contractor) will install that this weekend. Corey is the floor-laying expert, but he'll be in Vernal for Labor Day. Hopefully, the following weekend, I'll have pictures of the completely finished kitchen. Keep your fngers crossed!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Well, now you can see some progress! The outside of my house is completely resided with Tuscan Clay vinyl siding. I am extremely pleased with how fantastic my old red door looks with the siding, and all I will need to do is repaint the door. Kevin and I bought new black lights to go by the front door and on both sides of the garage, and a friend offered to come install those for me over Labor Day weekend. Finally, since shutters are not as expensive as I feared, I ordered black shutters for the front window. They'll be here in a few weeks. Thanks to Cheya and Mom, who instructed me that my shutters and front door should be different colors so the front door will be more inviting.

The back view gives you a better idea of how the siding looks, and I tried to avoid taking a picture of all the clutter in my back yard. At this very moment, when I was taking the picture, the guys were finishing up texturing the walls and ceilings; that's why the NEW back slider is open. By the way, have I mentioned that the new slider is 6 feet, instead of 5 feet, wide? I can't wait to walk through my new dining room and out this door.

Painting on Friday night and Saturday! Cabinets on Monday! I've even bought two new low-fat, healthy cookbooks to celebrate cooking again--whenever that happens!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Remodel's Coming Along

Last Saturday, a friend's husband took out my
old cabinets. My friend bought them for the canning kitchen she's making in her garage. When I finish with my stove, she'll buy it also. I don't know why I'm hanging on to the stove since it's disconnected and I can't cook with it any more. Well, at least it's a convenient place for all the workers to set their tools, screws, and paper work!

With the old cabinets out, I realized just how small my kitchen really was. Those old cabinet outlines just didn't look very roomy.

With the cabinets out, the contractor began taking out the existing back wall. When I asked him if I could swing the sledge hammer, he just laughed. Evidently, busting the wall out with a sledge hammer only happens on the TV remodeling programs. Wayne and his helper carefully and methodically cut out sections of the old wall.

My son Kevin was here all last week, taking a vacation. Boy, what a good thing to have him here to supervise the electrician. I am glad, though, that Kevin resisted the urge to crawl up in the attic when the electrician asked if he wanted to. By the way, the electrician is a former student . . . I'm glad I didn't fail the kid!
After the cans for recessed lighting and an abundance of outlet boxes were installed, Kevin and Corey insulated the addition. Even though insulating only took two hours, I'm afraid it was a miserable two hours for my sons. What a great vacation for Kevin! But what would I have done without him.

While work was going on inside the house, vinyl siding started going on the outside. This picture doesn't even begin to show the improvement in the way my house looks. When I came home the first day, only the Polar insulating stuff was up, and I thought that looked great! The siding is now almost completed and looks fantastic.
While Julie, Kevin, and I went camping with Corey and Audree and the kids this past weekend, the sheet rockers came. Kevin and I came home to the smell of plaster and the echo of a huge hollow room behind a sheet of Mylar plastic. A thick layer of dust still covers all my furniture, and I can't quite face cleaning yet. I managed to wipe off the couches so I could take a quick nap Sunday afternoon.
Even as I write, the guys are back, finishing plastering and texturing. Wayne says we'll be ready to paint on Friday; he'll buy the paint tomorrow. The cabinets come Monday, then we'll get the appliances. Perhaps my next update will be the final product, but no . . . I think I need to blog before that and show family and friends painting walls and ceiling and laying the floor on Saturday.