The Summer of the Deck

I’ve been MIA for a bit—you may have noticed. I’ve been pouting. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got so naive when it comes to construction projects.

Let’s call this the summer of the deck. Not the lovely summer where we host barbecues, enjoy new deck furniture, admire the view, and while away hours. This is the summer where month after month after month, we have guys working on the deck; doors and windows closed to keep out the dust, dirt, noise, and toxic fumes; plants and deck furniture littering the living room, so they can recoat.

Remember back in May when me and the MR went away with my brother and sister-in-law for a long weekend? I was hoping to myself that the deck guys would be done—nope. Then we visited Sweet Miss and moved Baby Girl home—still working. Next we went to eastern Washington to look at wedding venues—not done yet. After a few weeks in Europe they’d have to be finished—what were you thinking? Finally on our last trip to visit Sweet Miss and see the eclipse, the end was in sight.

What we thought was a fairly simple job of replacing the soffit exposed a lot of rot, poorly designed drainage for the railing posts, and extensive rot on the stairs. Sometimes one thing leads to another, and so on, and so on.

So here’s a few highlights from the summer of the deck. We removed the hot tub and now have a large space for plants, sunbathing, and a shower that we’d like to make into a dog washing station. (That’s for you Cocoa the mud hound.)

All the work on the lower deck revealed some major problems with the box supporting the landing between the two sets of stairs.

So that long run of stairs down to the meadow was held up with posts for a while. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t feeling very safe.

Next they found problems with the stair risers, so we told Cocoa to stop using the stairs.

Cocoa, we said you can’t go down the stairs.

All of this in record-breaking temperatures with the heat radiating off the deck.

It looked like things were nearing completion.

And then they found more troubles with the lower stairs. When the stairs were reattached, the workers noticed that they were sagging and the railings where pulling away from the stairs. Guess what had to be replaced next?

All of that created a lot of dirt and disruption.

You may be asking yourself will this ever end. I’m right there with you. Currently, the box supporting the landing still needs to be textured to match the rest of the house, and there’s an issue with caulking on the soffit that started this whole mess.

The cost of the job more than doubled across the summer. Initially the work was to be completed in a few weeks, but with each new problem it was extended. Unfortunately, other jobs were also on the schedule, so the work was a bit hit-and-miss.

Is our deck safer? Yes. It’s a lot of time and money, but we’re hoping this will help keep it in good shape for many years to come. The MR laughed and joked that we paid a lot for our deck to look exactly the same minus the hot tub.

In all honesty, we did enjoy many afternoons and evenings on the deck when the workers weren’t around.

Me and Cocoa now feel safe walking down all those stairs.

Note: the skies are pink. It is not sunset; it is smoke from forest fires. We also have patches of red dotting the inside of the house from the sunlight. With forest fires and hurricane victims, our troubles are few.

Having a wrap-around deck in our climate comes at a price, but we do love it.

And just to prove it wasn’t all deck frustrations and duldrums this last month, we enjoyed dinners with friends, found Sweet Miss’ wedding dress, and had a great time in eclipse totality.

Best of all Baby Girl made it home safe and sound from her European adventure, and we’ll be all together next weekend. I do love my family.

Any construction horror stories you’d like to share?

 

 

 

 

 

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Clean Up the Mess

I remember way back when, when the daffodils were in bloom. The profusion of yellow blossoms made me smile as I drove down the driveway. They were lovely…until they were not.

When I went to the garage to tie up the stems, I couldn’t find my garden twine. I did finally make it to the hardware store, but in the intervening weeks, they’ve turned brown, so all i had to do was cut them off.

Doesn’t this look much better?

 

I staked up on if the lilies that had been stepped on and took other broken flowering bits inside. I didn’t clean my up all the wood and debris; I figured I’d wait till the deck guys have finished up. 

Despite all, these are some beautiful flowers. 

And it took less than a half hour, three trips to the compost, and two dead slugs to get here. 

You can check out why I keep those silly daffodils here. 

https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/daffodil-detail/
 https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/spring-has-come/

Or maybe you’d like to remember with me how Sweet Cocoa helped me plant those lilies. 

https://bigwhitehouseonthehill.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/june-in-review/
What’s blooming in your garden? I’d love to see pictures. 

Rotten Luck

Sometime when you look at something from afar, it all looks fine. I’m one to think all is well and good, but the MR has a more discerning eye.

I think the deck is great; he says it’s falling apart. Hmm…guess whose right? I’m pretty lucky to have him around. While I might consider new curtains, I’m not that concerned about soffits. We have synergy; we’re better togther.

So when he suggested we have someone come out and look at the deck, I was totally agreeable. It seemed OK to me, but what do I know? Apparently not a lot when it comes to deck care and maintenance.

We appear to have some trouble.

The plan was to replace the 2×12 board all around the deck and remove and replace any rotting boards. Our contractors bid came in at a fairly reasonable price, and then they got started. 

We had much of the lower deck and stair landing replaced our first summer here, and we had the upper deck recoated two years ago, and half of it re-recoated last summer. How bad can it be? In a word, bad. 

Washington is a full disclosure state. When buy a home, the previous owners are required by law to tell you all about their home repair woes. This was a short sale; somehow the bank was in the middle of the deal and all that transparency wound up pretty murky. 

I thought we had a pretty clear picture of what we were getting into with our 100-page inspection report. The world is full of surprises. Turns out we’re finding all sorts of things no one told us about. 

The deck is surrounded by 38 metal posts that have drainage holes a little too high. So water sits in the bottom of the posts till the wood around them rots. Apparently, in the past they’ve replaced the wood around the posts and left them bolted into a piece of rotted wood or in some cases nothing. 

Our contractor is cutting the bolts from the bottom removing/replacing all rot, and then when we have the deck recoated in a few years, they’ll remove the bolts from the top and refasten them to solid wood—at least that’s the plan. 

Now you may be wondering how that solves the problem of the leaky metal posts; it doesn’t. So the plan is to drill a hole in the bottom of each post, attach tubing flush, and then run it back into the crawl space where it’ll drain harmlessly into the dirt. 


Our two week project has now been extended to three accompanied by a commensurate jump in price. May is turning into a noisy month. But I will feel safer once it’s all done. 


Ever have one of those projects that just kept getting bigger?

A Look Back at September & October 2016

Maybe it’s spending the first part of September in Italy, or moving Baby Girl back to Oregon, or the MR being home so much more, or turning 50, or teaching classes on skills I’m really still learning, or the record-breaking rains we’ve been getting, whatever it is, I’ve been falling short on the blog lately.

I had big plans to share the beauty of Florence and Rome, to deck out the house for fall, and tidy up all those cluttered spots. It hasn’t happened. I sent some photos to my aunt and dropped a bag of the girls clothes off at a collection box. We’re celebrating small victories here.

So here’s a recap of what I did manage to blog about for the last few months plus a little extra cause I’m just that kind of person.

I’m rather excited about our dining room table and chairs that I talked about in An Upgraded Dining Experience. Do they look great? Are they perfect for the space? I’ll let you know when they arrive. It’s so hard to be patient. We also bought a recliner for my dad’s birthday. He’s still waiting, too. That’s what you get when it’s not mass produced.

A lot of fall seems to center around food. Waste Not those crabapples from our friends’ weekend place at the lake. I’d love to tell you how amazing that applesauce is, but when I pulled it out of the freezer, it was really sweet potato butter, which I’ve been enjoying in my yogurt, but I didn’t want to pull out another poorly labeled container before I finished the sweet potatoes. I really can’t eat that much yogurt.

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You’d think I’d be able to recognize the bright pink color. We did try the broccoli I mentioned in Saving the Harvest with mixed reviews. It tastes quite pickled as pickled broccoli ought to do, and we don’t like pickles. What was I thinking? I guess I was just tired of broccoli salad two or three times a week.

Grandma MeeMee was asking about the sage I used in the Onion Jam. It was just regular culinary sage, an herb that deer don’t like to nibble. We’ve had great luck with it here.

common-sage

I’m waiting for Sweet Miss to come home to try the beet and carrot slaw; cross your fingers that we’ll enjoy that more than the broccoli. I’ve been happy with our Fall Harvest. We still have broccoli, carrots, and some scraggly lettuce. I’m waiting for a hard freeze and the vines to die back before bringing up one really big pumpkin that has yet to turn orange. Then I can sow a cover crop of old seeds leftover from past years and let the garden be until spring.canned-goods

Our Trees with Attitude will probably have to wait for spring’s new growth before being pruned into shape. I’m hoping the months of ugly will pay off.

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I also shared in Inspiration and Disappointment how we were excited about making more wine from our grapes after visiting a vineyard in Tuscany.

id-wine-barrels

Well, it was probably raccoons that had a party with our grapes and tore up the vines by the time we got back from our trip. Me and the MR opened our bottle of homemade wine last weekend. After a sip apiece, we decided it was no great loss that we couldn’t make more wine, and the MR poured it down the drain. We need to refine our skills as winemakers or make grape jelly instead.

We saw tons of white houses on the cliffs of Capri in A Dime a Dozen.

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And then I shared a bird’s-eye-view or our home in The Colors of Fall.

fall-collage

 

The drive home really is beautiful this time of year. Of course, the MR spends hours trying to keep the driveway clear, but it does give him something to do.

 

I’m just teasing; the MR is always a busy guy. He has been out making sure the blackberries don’t come back after hiring a brushcutter to Clear Out all the brambles.

co-tractor

One happy surprise has been the reappearance of foxgloves. Perhaps they were being choked out by all the blackberries. I hope they’ll be putting on a show next spring, and I have seeds to sow from MeeMee and Papa.

The MR also bought new garage doors. I’m a girl. I’m not into garages. I don’t spend a lot of time there. They’re not really my thing, but these Garage Doors Have Style.

gd-new

It’s so nice to go out to the garage and not have to turn on the horrible, buzzing, overhead light. The new doors look great and make the whole space look so much larger.

inside-garage

See, I pulled both cars out of the garage to take this picture just for your. The MR was suprised to come home and find cars everywhere. But that’s how much I care about you guys.

He also Finished Up the last of the guest bathroom remodel. Cocoa ran into a bit of problem in the woods yesterday, so I got to try out the shower, or she did, however you want to look at it. It really did turn out nice. The gray counters look much warmer in real life, and the whole feel of the room is much sleeker and more modern.

guest-bath-collage

Don’t look at the green carpet. It’s going away—I promise. Maybe I’ll make that a new year’s resolution. Baby Girl needs a chance to clean out her room, so we can replace all the bedroom carpets at the same time.

And last but not least that leaves us with the The Big, the Bad, the Broken where one broken window was replaced perfectly and the other was broken as it was being replaced. The new window has arrived, and the installers are on the calendar for next week. Then I’ll call the window film company; eventually it’ll all come together.

When I was crabby about the broken window, I did share some fancy socks I’d made for Sweet Miss. Since then I’ve been working on socks for Baby Girl. They’re in a bright green yarn with speckles of yellow for my favorite University of Oregon student. Maybe I should start calling her Duckling instead of BG?

Maybe the window, the window films, the new table, the new chairs, and my dad’s recliner will all magically arrive before Thanksgiving, but I’m not holding my breath. Perhaps it’s time to pull out the Thankfulness Tree. I think I need a little reminder these days.

How was your fall? Are you shocked that November is already upon us?

 

 

 

 

July Is Gone

I know you’ve heard that all it does is rain in Seattle, that the inhabitants are frightened when they see a yellow orb in the sky, that we have a dozen names for what most people just call rain. Well, there’s some truth to all of that, but that doesn’t cover July.

Sure summer doesn’t start till somewhere around the 8th of the month, but then we have warm, sunny days, with glorious sunshine. Mount Rainier is out in all its glory, and northwesterners are ready to play. But not this year. We’ve had a lot of gray days with just a few true summer days.

When you can’t frolic in the sun, you have a lot more time for projects. The MR, with his summer off, has been a busy guy. One Saturday, while I was working at the yarn shop, he was building the Garden Box Update. I’d love to tell you that the new addition is filled with dirt and overflowing with vegetables. We have a pumpkin doing well in the corner; we’ll wait for next year for the other.

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That same weekend, the MR took on Bambi. Remember Oh Deer when I found one of our plum trees ravaged?

OD Broken Plum Tree

He’s zip-tied 10-foot lengths of pipe from our well redo to the posts and added taller netting. Friends commented on our fortress. Yes, we are doing battle, and with the number of apples and blueberries we’ve picked this week, we just might be winning.

And now for the truly beautiful, exciting project. It’s Started; we’re on to bathroom remodel number three in this house. All the green tile is gone, Marty the plumber came and dealt with replumbing the shower, the cement board is up, and just yesterday, the MR started tiling. It’s going to be beautiful.

I’m so glad my guy does his homework. When he takes on a project, he researches the heck out of it. He’s redone the showers in every home we’ve lived in and knows a thing or two by now. That’s why he was so surprised when he removed the tile and found dry wall. The experts say, you’re tile and grout will leak, use a protective barrier. What were they thinking?

The slogan on this cement board just makes me smile.

Cement Board

Now while the MR is busy with all his stuff, what have I been doing? I’ve been enjoying the produce from our garden and the farmers market. There’s nothing like fresh ingredients to serve up Good Simple Food. Last night, it was onions and broccoli from the garden, carrots and beans from the farmer’s market, and some leftover BBQ’ed veggies sauteed together to round out burgers for dinner.

With people on vacation, I’ve been putting in extra hours at the yarn shop which leads to lots of knitting and crocheting. You can check out some of my projects On the Needles. (You really should just so you can see Baby Girl and Cocoa modeling my “shoulderette” pattern. I designed it to show off lovely collarbones and add just a layer of warm on a cool evening.)

Speaking of yarn shops, Quintessential Knits moved one block over the weekend. I’ve seen some of the lovely new yarn, and the owner says we have lots of specials and surprises coming out this month. I was rather pleased with this Viroqua Cowl I knitted as a sample.

Umpqua Cowl

And what about A Lovely Jumble of flowers on the hillside or our crazy 5th of July parties? Alas, the poppy seeds are still on my desk, but the Russian sage the MR planted last year is nearly knee-high. If we’re lucky, some day it may look like this—giant, frangrant, gorgeous, filled with bees making honey.

Russian Sage

OK, so that was eastern Washington, which is a much dryer and warmer climate, but I can dream. The MR says if it gets that big, it’ll cover up the retaining wall. Maybe mounds of Russian sage would make a pretty barrier around the orchard—deer don’t like sage you know.

Me and the MR spent a few days wine tasting in Chelan last week. Good wine, good food, nice people, and a few days away with Baby Girl in charge. It was delightful.

Me & the MR

And finally, I just have to show this picture of Sweet Miss.

B Bubbles

She’ll be 22 in just over a week. (That’s years, not months.) I shared with you our deck woes in Not Those Kind of Bubbles. The deck looks great; our deck guy, Isidro, does a great job. Now if the sun will cooperate, I’d like to spend a little time out there.

How was your July? Any big plans for August?

 

 

 

 

 

Not Those Kind of Bubbles

When the girls were little they were fascinated by bubbles. We had a sunroom at our first house, and we’d put Sweet Miss in her walker and blow bubbles for her. Later at our next home, the neighbors had a bubble machine, and the girls would laugh and squeal as they ran through showers of bubbles. Bubbles are delightful, magical, and fascinating.

B Bubbles

Unfortunately, recently the MR found a different kind of bubble. Last summer we had the deck recoated just for routine maintenance. Well, the coating had started to bubble up, or at least that’s what we thought. Then the contractor came back and said he’d redo the half of the deck that had a problem.

All was going well, he was an honorable guy, and was going to stand behind his work. Until, he pulled up the problem areas and realized it was the original coating that had seperated from the wood of the deck. The coating he’d applied was still adhered solidly to the first layer.

B Deck Patch

He still willingly fit us into his busy schedule and did a great job first gluing down the patches, sanding, and then refinishing half the deck.

B Deck Patch 2

What changed was who paid for it. Of course, all the trouble was on the shady side of the deck during the nicest week of the summer so far. That’s OK. Cocoa has given the new deck her seal of approval.

B Back to Normal

It looks like this area could use a few potted plants to soften things up, too. Have I ever mentioned this deck is mammoth? Some day, I’ll have the insides all put together and can turn my attention to the outsides in earnest.

Any bubble stories to share?

 

 

When Everything’s Done

If you’ve ever owned a house, you know there’s always something. I was talking to someone about the blog and mentioned that we just have a lot less to do around here now that we’ve completed most of the major repairs. Just when you’re feeling good, something new pops up.

For the last few years, the dogs were sleeping in the laundry room, and the MR would get up and let them out  through the door to the deck in the mornings. Well, sometime over the winter, the door started sticking. It never opened easily, but now it became nearly impossible to open.

Well, the MR’s folks have been visiting for the last few weeks, and his mom started letting Cocoa out in the mornings. She knew the routine, so she just shoved really hard and pushed the door open. Perhaps she told Papa Larry, and next thing you know, he was on a mission.

I thought it was just the house settling. Nope. With over 20 years of wind and rain, the door had started rotting. The MR and his dad took the door down and removed the kick plate to reveal this.

WED Door and View

Shall we move in closer? I’m no carpenter, but that door looks like trouble to me.

WED Rot Removal

The guys took a trip to the hardware store for wood fill and wood. They gathered their tools and got busy.

WED Tools

After removing the rotten wood, they used wood fill and a thin sheet of wood to fill in the gaps. They clamped it all together and left it overnight.

WED Clamps

Baby Girl received a surprise when she heard plastic rattling upon her arrival home after dark.With a few coats of paint, Papa had the door looking great.

WED All Gone

And now it’s good as new.

WED Good as New

The locks a little tricky, but the door swings open with ease. Now we just have to get Cocoa to sleep in the laundry room again. She’s been taking advantage of our company and disrupting routines.

Thanks Papa Larry. It turned out great!

It’s funny how certain areas just kind of get ignored. Maybe a few potted plants would soften this area. Currently we have a bowl of water for the dog, the barbecue, and the smoker, plus some dirt for potting up plants. Now that the door looks so spiffy, it’s time to give the rest of the deck some attention.

How do you entertain your guests?