Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Project That Would Not End!

What a great week! Do you know what it is like to start your day with a smile in your heart each and every day of the week? That is what my week was like as I woke up each morning, turned on the computer and opened our blog just to read those three special words “I was right” That is why I waited two weeks before writing this next post. As it will replace the previous one like it never happened. Oh well, it had to happen sometime and I prolonged it as long as I could…..

But first a picture of Daisy staring down at me from the loft....
What's going on down there?
These past two weeks has been like a movie. Remember the movie Ground Hogs day with Bill Murray where he wakes up every day to the same thing day after day after day. Or how about the saying; “the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result”.

Those two things come to mind when I think over our progress on the house the past two weeks. Monday, February 10th, the day after Kevin and Cheryl left Barb and I got busy with the tongue and groove on the ceiling. The first three days we got up a total of 3 rows. Three rows, 5 inches wide and 38 feet long. To be honest we had more up but we kept ripping it down. We spent almost two frustrating days trying to get the first row straight. The last thing Kevin said before he left was “Make sure the first two rows are dead straight”. So we ran a string line from one end to the other and started putting up the first row. Do you know how hard it is to keep a line of tongue and groove dead straight over 38 feet? Finally on the 3rd frustrating day I called Kevin and said I am ¼” off over the 38 feet. “Perfect”, he said, “With the variation of the wall, the variation of the tongue and groove, ¼” over 38‘ is pretty darn good, you will never notice it”. So away we went….

Once we got going we were averaging a whopping 1 row per hour. Our patience level was about 4-5 hours and given there are a total of 66 rows total, this is going to take us…. FOREVER! Or at least that is what it seems like.

But before we start to hang it Barb has to varnish and sand each board twice to get the proper sheen on it. But the varnishing is not included in the 1 row per hour scenario. That is done all before we start to hang it.

Why is it taking so long you ask? Well when you are married to a self-admitted over thinker things are bound to take a lot longer than they should. One would think that you put up a board, grab the next one in the stack, and put it up and so on…. No…. Once we put up a board, we have to step back and look at it, admire it and then go through each board in the stack to determine which board would look best next to the one we just put up. Not only the characteristics of the board, but also the color and knot orientation. 

We used a 16ga finish nailer to secure them to the trusses
Once the board was selected Barb had to determine the perfect length of each board and where the seam will be in the entire scheme of things. Painful! Then there is Kevin….. We just can’t put a board up and butt the ends of the boards together. No, we have to make each one pretty by taking a block planer and beveling each of the butt ends so they are nice and pretty. A block planer? Really? Who uses those anymore? Apparently I do, on each and every board. 
I thought I would go my entire life without using a block planer

The perfect bevel
Okay,  maybe it looks better then two straight edges....
I will have to admit, the end result of both the over thinker and the perfectionist is incredible but it will take like… FOREVER!

On day 13 we finally made it to the bathroom wall. A momentous moment as this shortened our ceiling runs but just over 9’ which really sped things up. Once we get to the guest bedroom wall it will shorten it but another 3’ or so!
Almost to the peak!
We did take a couple days off. One day to run to Rapid City and another day because we had some very special visitors. Farmer Bob and DeAnne were in Utah last week on vacation and stopped by on their way back home! This was a very special event as we had not seen them in quite a long time since we did not make it up there at all for our regular spring or fall trips in 2019.
Thanks for stopping guys!
We did not do a whole lot except visit but it was really great to see them.

When we were in Rapid we were able to find a new to us couch and love seat for the living room. We have been looking for a couple of weeks but everything we were finding was either too much, too worn or already sold. But on this day we were in the right place at the right time and drove away with a nice set of furniture. We were really tired of sitting on our camping chairs!
So much more comfortable than our camping chairs!

The weather has been in the 30’s, 40’s and even 50’s in the past two weeks. This fair weather has really brought out the wildlife. Kevin had brought us out a large grass/alfalfa hay bale that the deer absolutely love! 
I put a trail camera up to see who was visiting

Nice little buck showed up the other day
Action shot!
We have a variety of birds visiting our feeders every day; woodpeckers, nuthatches, juncos and chickadees are our most frequent visitors providing for some entertainment and great photo ops. 

And the turkeys have left their winter range and returned to our area two days ago and now hang out under the bird feeder a couple times a day to pick up the seeds cast aside by some of the messier birds. They are so aggressive they will try and run the deer off. Sometimes it works, sometimes the deer chase them off. 

And sometimes they all get along just fine. 
They certainly are ugly birds!
So if you are wondering what we are up to this week we will be watching the der and turkeys and plugging away on the other side of the ceiling. One board at a time. After time, after time, after time....

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Life's Special Moments

There are moments in life that are so special or impactful that you will never forget them. The day you first laid eyes on the love of your life, the birth of your children or even traumatic events like where you were when your wife has to remind you it is your anniversary. 

I had one of these moments this week. When it happened it brought a tear to my eye and the world stopped for the briefest of moments. At the age of 57, 34 years into our marriage at exactly 3:36pm on February 8th, 2020 Barb said 4 words I will never forget.....“Honey, you were right”. It does not matter the circumstance in which it happened, it only matters that it happened! As it happened though, I was working on drawing out the wood storage area for the fireplace so I immediately wrote the date and time.
Some husbands go their entire lives without hearing these words. I am one of the lucky ones having to only wait 34 years...I am crying just writing these words and is a moment I will never forget.

Speaking of marriage, this past Friday was our anniversary. I may have mentioned it before but it bears repeating again. Barb and I met the fall of ’85, had our first date on Halloween just a few weeks later. I guess that should have been an omen in itself. We were married just over 3 months later on February 7th, 1986. We spent our wedding night in an ice fishing shack on Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota.

So what did we do to celebrate this year? We went to the Rapid City Stock Show and attended the rodeo. The tickets were a gift from Kevin and Cheryl who drove out for the weekend to pick up some wood and stone for a house he is building in Wisconsin.  
Cheryl and Kevin ready for the rodeo!
We had a great time, the pictures are not the best but not bad for our phone given they were action shots.
Calf Roping
Saddle Bronc

This is not going to end well!
They stayed with us for two nights before heading back home. It was a short but awesome visit. Kevin walked through our next steps we needed to do on the house; putting the wood up on the ceiling and walls, siding outside, trim around the windows both inside and out. We have enough on our “to do” list to keep us busy through the rest of our time here.

We are super excited to start working on the ceiling as we took delivery of 1300 sq ft of tongue and groove pine for just that purpose. We are going with beetle killed pine also known as bug wood or blue pine. Over the past decade or so, Pine Beetles infected over 94% of the Black Hills killing almost 500,000 acres of trees.
As devastating as this was it left behind a very remarkable kind of wood. Beetle Killed Pine. This wood has a blue discoloration and holes giving the wood unique character as compared to healthy pine. 
The two stacks on either side of the will soon be on our ceiling
We (and when I say "we" I mean Barb) installed flooring and painted the bathroom. Once we get a new mirror (don't ask what happened to the first one we bought) and get the towel holders up it will be pretty much done. All that will be left is the trim which I think I am going to do at the same time as the other rooms. 
Barb putting the flooring down
We also installed our first two interior doors this week. We chose knotty alder 3 panel doors and installed them on the bathroom and upstairs bedroom. Nice to finally have a door to replace the curtain we had on the bathroom door!
Paint, flooring and a door!
Thursday Barb and I went into Rapid City we met with a custom cabinet maker to design the kitchen cabinets. It was a bit chilly on our drive up there, one of the coldest we have seen here.  
We are not in Arizona any more Toto!
The meeting with the cabinet guy and picking out cabinets was a very detailed process. We walked through each of the cabinet designs and decided on rustic hickory.
Rustic Hickory
The design process was very interesting. It is amazing the software that is out there now to help you design the kitchen. We spent almost two hours with the owner; adding, deleting and viewing different versions. Finally we came up with a design that we really like…..
Our kitchen will look something like this
Once the price come back we will see if we can actually afford it. 

Kevin and Cheryl left at 5am Sunday leaving us a long list of things to do. Our first project is going to be to put wood on the ceiling. We are not sure how long this is going to take but we are up for the challenge! Tune in next week to see how far we got!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Sometimes I Wish I Were Color Blind

We have been back a little over a week and have gotten settled in to our new home. 
It is amazing what you take for granted when you don't have it. The bed, appliances and working bathroom made a world of difference and we are actually quite comfortable. Barb has been searching the online marketplaces for a used love seat or couch. The RV chairs we brought back with us a fine for a little bit but not something you want to use for the next year or so until we are ready for the good stuff. 

The deer quickly learned we were back. The day after we got home a couple stopped by to say hi and welcome us back. A week later we now have up to 13 stopping by at any given time to see what we are up to. They are so curious they have taken to getting within inches of the window and looking in to see what we are working on. 
Daisy does not really appreciate their antics while Dakota just pretty much ignores them. If we open the door when they are around Daisy will tear out after them and chase them away. Dakota will just go out there and walk amongst them pretty much ignoring each other. 

This week we have been busy working on the fireplace and putting primer on the sheet rocked walls. Does not seem like a lot when I write it but it took pretty much all week.

When we left in early December the fireplace looked something like this....
This framing went slower than I thought as I was pretty much making it up as I went. I also had to take time to wire in the blower for the fireplace as it was going to be covered up once I put the sheeting on. Now it looks like this and is ready for stone. 
Speaking of stone we drove to Hill City and spent an hour at Dakota Stone looking at different samples of stone trying to determine what we wanted on both the outside of the house as well as the fireplace.

The first decision is do we want Thin Veneer...
 or Ledge Stone.....
The Veneer goes a lot faster as the stones are laid flat and cover more area with each stone. But we like the look of the ledge stone so we are going to go that route. The next decision is how to stack it. Dry stack with no visible mortar….
A thin mortar set….
 Or a thick mortar set….
 We are going to go with the thin grout set.

Our other big task of the week was priming the bedrooms, laundry room and upstairs bathroom. Breaking out the new sprayer I read all the directions, watched a few videos on how to spray and I was ready to go! 

The first step was to have Barb go through each room sanding out and rough spots the installers missed as well as spackling any holes or dings. 
Barb sanding out the rough spots
We started in the master bedroom closets as if something went wrong we figured that was an area we would not care too much. So with Barb standing behind me we started spraying. It actually went amazingly well. We sprayed the ceiling first then worked our way to the edges and walls. The only place we ran into trouble was when overlapped the areas we had already sprayed. There is an art to getting enough to cover but not too much so that it starts to run. Much better to go over it thinly twice than trying to do it in one pass.
Me spraying the same room
Next step was to decide who color to paint each of the rooms. Barb had stopped by the paint store to pick up over a half a dozen samples and stuck them to the wall.  Keep in mind that all the samples were beige, just different shades of beige. She then called me into the room to ask me my opinion. Oh God, here we go. I truly hate it when she does this to me. We have done it hundreds of times with the same result. It goes something like this…..

(Barb)“Honey, which color do you like the best?” (Jim) “I like this one”. (Barb)”I don’t, we are going with this one”.  

Seriously, why does she do this to me?!?!?

But this time it did not go this way. Instead she again reiterated that men and women are truly from different planets. So with trepidation I approached the samples looked them over and within 10-15 seconds made my decision and pointed to the one named Utterly Beige. Boom, decision done! Why Utterly Beige? Well, they were all beige but this one was just so...utterly beige. 

So now I sat back and waited for her to tell me that I was wrong, that my opinion did not matter and that we were going with a different color. Instead she picked up one of the color samples and went through a 10 minute dissertation on the color. The hues, the other colors that she sees in the beige and what colors would complement it and what colors would conflict with this particular shade. Then she sets that sample down, picks up the next one and does it again, and again, and again. By the time she picks up the 4th sample my eyes are glazed over, I have a serious cramp in one leg and all I hear is the teacher from Charlie Brown “Wa, wa wa wa wa”...... Just kill me now.

Some 60 minutes later…..I was day dreaming about what I was going to have for happy hour that afternoon when she stopped talking and was looking at me. As my eyes come back into focus I see that she is holding the Utterly Beige and says “So I agree with you and think we should go with this one”. Wait, what?!?!? I had a 16.66% chance of picking the right one and I did it! Hey, I will take the small victories, they are few and far between. 

We only have to go through this exercise 3 more times and all the paint colors will be decided.

We try to make time of the dogs each day by going for a walk, throwing Dakota's toy and letting them run around.
Daisy running through the grass

The 3 girls in my life
We just got back from the hardware store where our friend Dan works. He took a pine board and put all the samples of stain they have on it so we can decide which stain we want for the ceiling, which stain we want for the walls and which one we want for the beams. Why? Why me?!?!?…I feel another cramp coming on!