Time for a new house

Time for a new house
Time for a new house

Monday, May 15, 2017

May 15 2017 Manifesting a Dream

Current Location:  Grants Pass, Oregon. Mostly cloudy, damp, and 57 degrees F

A drive on the back roads along the Oregon Coast can yield some great views

Back a few decades, when I was a bit of a New Age thinker, I believed the mantra, “You Create Your Own Reality”.  I still believe it, but in a bit of a different way than I did then.  Still, there is nothing quite like watching an ephemeral dream materialize into something physical. 

Staking out the house location on March 22

We are watching 5 years of dreaming and planning become real.  It is an incredible process.  Some weeks crawl by, and others fly past us with barely time to catch our breath.  Last I wrote, we watched the little red cottage disappear into a pile of sticks, and now block by block, board by board, we are watching our new home grow from the ground up. 

Footings poured and foundation set by April 22

Fill added for the garage floor base

We are here every other week, for 7 or 8 days, returning to Klamath Falls for my 5 day alternate work weeks.  We are here enough of the time to see progress as the weeks pass.  Life has been dominated by Grants Pass house thoughts, meetings with the builder, with the foreman, with the flooring people.

I have worked at gathering all our nursery storage into small groups of plants so that we can keep them watered while we are away.  Many of the plants have been with me since I lived in Idaho before 2002, many others are from Mo’s property at Rocky Point.  We brought what we could manage, hoping to keep our little nursery alive until time to plant at the new house next fall or spring.

We made the final choice on our interior paint, after a trip to Benjamin Moore in Medford (no Ben Moore store in Grants Pass).  I succumbed to the gray trend, deciding on a warm gray color called Revere Pewter, guaranteed to reflect nicely on the interior walls without turning blue or green or pink, to feel warm rather than cool, and to set off the White Dove woodwork.  I bought a small jar of test paint for a piece of drywall and now we haul that around, along with a few of our antique tiles, while spending a considerable amount of time with the salesperson at the local Lippert’s Flooring store.  Hardwood has been selected.  I love the style and color, but have to say that even more exciting to me is the silky feel of the slightly distressed solid oak wide plank flooring.  I stand on the sample barefoot and imagine walking into the kitchen in the early morning sunshine on the velvety solid floor.

Mo and I spent some time this week cleaning her stash of Batchelder tile, deciding on the design for the tile area in the foyer.  The tiles are from the 30’s, the height of the Craftsman era in Pasadena where they were fired, and we are excited to have places in the new home where we can use them.

All the little details that we have attended to are minor compared to watching the really big stuff happen.  In mid-April, the major excavation began, and when we returned for our Grants Pass week on April 24, footings were poured, foundation blocks were set, and the footprint of the house was at last visible. By the end of the week, we could see just how high the floor would be above the ground on the western side of the house where the land drops in what seemed like a gentle slope until it was actually surveyed.  The elevation of the living room will put our view above the neighbors house to the west, and give us enough height to see over the trees to the north to the mountains in the distance.

During that week as well, the septic system was hooked up and the RV dump station became operable.  Very handy!

On the right, an image of the layout for the antique tiles on the foyer floor

By the time we returned on May 7 all the ditches for the utilities were filled in and the ground had been somewhat smoothed out and most of the dirt piles leveled.

We are going for a softer coastal palette in the new house, influenced a bit by Joanna Gaines I would imagine

On last Monday morning, as we were having our morning coffee around 6:30 AM, a row of pickups started lining up along the road next to the property.

We wondered who those guys were having coffee and shooting the breeze so early in the morning. Turns out it was the framing crew, getting ready to set the huge floor joists and begin getting the house ready for framing.

There were 6 of them, and according to Gary, this is his “A team” framing crew. I asked if he has a B or a C team, and he said yes, but it was worth waiting for the A team because they get things done so quickly and so well.

We watched those guys work together like a well oiled machine with every gear in synch all day long, and by 3 in the afternoon, the floor joists were all in and we could see even better how this house will look. Even though we have the MoHo, and we have a swing and chairs sitting outside, we didn’t want to bother the crew, so spent the day in the RV shed while they worked. It feels a bit strange to be at our home with all the people running around, so we lay low when they are here. The exciting time comes when the crew leaves and we get to walk around and check everything out.

Floor joists installed on May 8

There are days like that one, and then there are days when nothing happens at all. It is all about scheduling. Mo and I have been dealing with some serious hitch itch, without any MoHo travels away from home since we returned from California in January. I think that is the longest time we have spent without getting away.

If you arrive at noon on a Tuesday in May, you just might get a front row site with no reservation

This week we pulled in the slide, unplugged the rig, and headed west to Brookings for a much needed beach respite. We laughed a lot about the delight of not having to pack or unpack a single thing, a pleasure that full-timer’s know well. Just rolled down the road, landed at the park, and opened up the slide again. It was great to not have to worry about packing the right charging cords, the laptop, or food and clothes. Everything was already right here with us.

The beach cooperated with magically clear and sunny weather most of the time, even if it was a bit cool. We tried a new place down in Harbor, The Sporthaven Marina, for fish and chips.  I had Baja fish tacos that were delightful, and we started our meal with fried zuchinni done in spears rather than slices. Yummy. The view of the harbor was wonderful, and the cool breeze was muted by the glass walls that protected the sunny patio. Curious, a little research on the internet showed that the lovely glass enclosed, sail covered patio where we had our great meal is a new addition to the restaurant, and a fine one for sure. Check it out the next time you are in the Brookings area.

Mattie loves to scout trails over the rocks for us

All three of us were so happy to be once again walking the beach, finding pretty rocks and enjoying the sand. Mattie loves to tear around in soft sand. She met a couple of doggie friends who actually let her play. Mattie can get a bit excited with new dogs, and even though she isn’t aggressive, she can be a bit of a pain until she settles down.

Mo built a nice campfire for us and we managed to sit outside for a time at least until the chill winds drove us indoors. What a great moon there was that night!

The next day we decided to do some exploring with the Tracker, traveling first on the road that parallels Highway 101 a couple of miles east and goes north from Brookings to Pistol River. It was a bit cool for the native rhododendrons to be in bloom, but some of the domestic plants on local homesteads were as big as trees and in full brilliant glory. Gorgeous.

We then took the road that follows the Pistol River, where most of the land is privately owned and access is limited. We drove on up the road, climbing higher into the mountains. The road was steep and narrow, and the river far below. Using the Gazetteer was helpful, but the road ended without warning with a very large no trespassing sign. The wildflowers were gorgeous in the big clear cuts, and if there is any place in the world that a clear cut is acceptable, it is the Oregon Coast range, where most of the timber has already been cut, there isn’t any old growth left, and it might as well be used for tree farming. Regeneration is natural and incredibly fast in this climate. It is also kind of nice to be able to see a bit.

A picnic in the sun sitting on the back of the Tracker was perfect, if still a bit chilly. Checking out the map, we decided to find another back road to explore, searching for Hunter Creek Road, just a couple of miles south of Gold Beach. I had to check in with the Forest Service office to be sure that we could actually drive the road. There were yellow “no trespassing” signs everywhere. The rangers assured me that it was a main forest access road and I could drive it, but the lands on either side of the road were privately owned by timber companies, and they didn’t want anyone trespassing. Again, no way to access Hunter Creek, and most importantly, they don’t want anyone picking their very valuable mushrooms.

This is what happens often when a state decides that it cannot manage its lands, and sells them to private interests. The lands are no longer accessible to the public, of course. It is no longer public land. Don’t get me started. States want all that federal land so they can sell it back and make money on it, and the people who eventually will own the land will shut it down, fence it, and post no trespassing signs everywhere. Keeping public land public is a particularly hot issue for me as an RVr, and a boondocker, a hiker and a lover of wild lands. OK off the soapbox.

A few miles up we found a high bridge with a gorgeous set of cliffs, waterfalls, and deep pools far below. A couple of young women and their big dog were enjoying the sunny weather. That dog smelled us way up on the bridge, and started coming our way. Scared the daylights out of me. I felt like I was being hunted by a wild animal. I got to the car quickly, as Mo talked him down. He barked, but thank goodness didn’t attack, and finally his owners called to him. I have no idea what kind of dog he was, but he was definitely scary looking! Bet those women don’t have any problems at all with people hassling them!

The day ended with another big campfire, a yummy dinner, and of course, marshmallows and chocolate. I don’t need graham crackers, just stuff little pieces of chocolate in the hot marshmallow and it gets all melty and gooey. Wish I could eat more than two! Mo doesn’t eat them at all, but we still have to buy a whole bag of marshmallows. Good thing they only cost a buck and a half, because by the time we do it again, they are all hard and dry and we have to buy more.

When we packed up and left on Thursday morning, the rain was coming in earnest, after a windy rainy night at the beach. It was perfect timing, with the drive home uneventful in spite of the rain.

It was important for us to get back on Thursday because it was “door and window day”. Gary wanted to finalize the window choices because they need to be ordered for the next phase of building. It is amazing how much scheduling is involved in this entire process, getting supplies and subcontractors set up in the right sequence. We spent a couple of hours in Gary’s office going over window and door choices and finalizing the order. Other subjects came up of course, aka how high above the bathtub should the window sill be; which direction should the tub face for the best view; when do we need to meet with the cabinet maker; what kind of rock for the Craftsman porch pillars, and so many more little details.

Once again, we awakened yesterday morning very early to a crew of guys unloading pipe for the under plumbing, the parts of the plumbing that are beneath the floor. The upper stuff will come later when the house is closer to being finished. This time a crew of 4 had all the plumbing, sewer pipes, hot and cold water pipes, all ready and finished by 2 PM. Once again Mo and I walked the property trying to see just where each toilet was placed, and trying to imagine how it was going to look. It is hard not to be impatient even when things are moving this quickly.

Under-plumbing finished on May 12

The rest of the day was quiet here, and after another meeting with the carpet people, Mo and I took off exploring the Rogue River, following some hints about where we might be able to put in our kayaks. About 7 miles from town is Whitehorse County Park, with a great boat launch into a wide part of the river. We were told it is only a 4 hour lazy kayak to Robertson Bridge, but that water looked like a bit too much for us this time of year at least. We will wait and check it out in the fall.

We drove on west to check out the park and launch at Robertson Bridge where the river looked big and wide and a bit less intimidating. Returning east along Riverbanks Road we checked out another lovely launch at Griffin Park, another county park with RV camping with hookups. Lots to check out when we get a bit of free time and when the high water of spring settles down into lower summertime flows.

This morning, at 7AM the heating and cooling truck showed up. What? Seems as though his job was to install the dryer vent, and he had that job finished in about an hour at the most. Mo and I did a few yard chores around home before taking another little break to attend the annual Rogue Valley Piecemaker’s Quilt Show at the fairgrounds. It was a lovely show, with about 150 quilts and I got to meet a few of the ladies that may eventually be cohorts if I decide to join the quilt guild here in Grants Pass.

We then took time to visit the Rogue Roasters, just south of downtown Grants Pass before the river bridge, for organic, fair trade, locally roasted coffee in a great old building that looked like it once was a tire shop. Best cappuccino I have had in a long time.

We brought the tractor back from the apartments this week, since snow plowing season is hopefully over.  Mo is very happy to have her tractor back so she can work on smoothing out some of the messy piles of rock and debris scattered about.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. Two of my girls and their kids are coming from their homes to spend the morning with us having brunch at the Taprock Northwest Grill. We did this once before, three years ago, but at that time had no clue that the builder who built that great building was going to be the builder doing our house. I’m really looking forward to the day with my family enjoying a lovely meal overlooking the beautiful Rogue River.

Tomorrow afternoon we will once again return to Klamath Falls and the apartments on Old Fort Road. Our long weeks in Grants Pass are wonderful, except for the minor detail of laundry. We no longer have a washer and dryer here with the cottage gone, and with most of our work here being outdoors, by the end of the week we definitely have a pile of dirty stuff to haul home for washing.

When we return toward the end of May, it will be time for framing. Once again the A team will take over and we will watch the full form of our home take shape. Shortly after that will come the roof trusses, and then the bones of the house will be set.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

03/20/2017 Demolition!

Current Location: Back to the apartments, Klamath Falls Oregon

There is an overlap going on, but it is only a partial one.  Many of my blogging friends and followers are also on Facebook.  Many are not.  Many of my Facebook friends never bother to look at the blog. Then, of course, there are those friends who do neither.  Lately it seems that category is dwindling, with most friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances choosing to plug into one form or the other of digital connection.  No, I don’t do Twitter, and yes, I have an Instagram account but haven’t put more than half a dozen photos on there in a year.  No time.  I have to pick and choose my personal version of internet communication.

I did a long blog post for the private blog I have been keeping about our “transitions”, sending the link to the few people who are close enough to care about the finer details of what is going on, but most of the time that one isn’t for public consumption.  Now and then I have copied a post from the “transitions” blog to this one, but a comment on Facebook made me realize that maybe I needed to try a bit harder to keep this blog a bit more updated. 

Bob McLean, of The Caretaker Chronicles, has been an internet friend for several years, not as up close as some others, and I have never met him, but he once kindly invited Melody and I to visit him and his TC at their home in Vienna when we were traveling Eastern Europe.  We have sorta followed each other along leap frog style since then, as our lives have shifted and changed.  Bob is a kick, with a great dry witty sense of humor that never fails to entertain me.  Bob blogs a bit more consistently than I do, but he isn’t a daily guy either.

Back to the Facebook comment.  When I posted a photo of our little cottage one day, saying it was the “last day”, nothing was mentioned.  Then the next day I posted the photo of the demolition of the little cottage and Bob showed up on Facebook, exclaiming (and I paraphrase)…”What did I miss?”

This is our crazy RV shed storage/getaway space for the few months of the build, we will sleep, cook, and shower in the MoHo

So I cruised back through the blog thinking, “Surely I have talked about this at least a little bit”, and to my surprise discovered that, no, I hadn’t really talked about it much.  A few comments here and there, lots of photos of the Cottage when we were in Grants Pass, but not much mention of the actual process of tearing it down.  Lots of detailed explanations on the “transitions” blog, and more than a few references to the moving process on Facebook, but who in the heck can manage to keep track of your own life much less someone else’s life?!

Which is why I haven’t blogged about it much.  This is a travel blog, mostly RV travel with some other kinds of travels thrown in, and of course, now and then, other pieces of life get in the mix.  After all, we are not full time RV’rs, and I find that when we are on the move I assume that what I have to say might be more interesting for someone to read.  I also usually don’t have to go back to the blog to figure out what we were doing when we are at home, but I surely use it a LOT for when we are on the move.

This is the google photo of the cottage before we bought it in 2012, with no RV shed, a bunch of chicken coops, old sheds and shelters, and the old pallet fence.

So, again, and a repeat for those up close friends who already know the drill.  We bought the .87 acre in Grants Pass in 2012, so we would have a place to store the MoHo in winter.  Mo wanted a big RV shed, and county regulations require that a dwelling be already on the property in order to add another building.  The acre was perfect, the cost was close to the cost of the land without a dwelling, so we always laughed and said the little 700 square foot cottage was basically free.

This might be the last time I put a photo of the Rocky Point house in the blog.  Ya’ll remember it I am sure

At the time we lived in Rocky Point.  Most longer term readers remember that lovely home in the forest, and possibly remember that we sold that property last year.  Reason for selling?  Time to leave the deep, heavy snows of winter and the 35 mile one way drive to the grocery store for life on the west side of the Cascades.  It took a bit for us to make that decision, and the first couple of years at the Cottage, we thought of improving it (which we did), adding to it, (which we decided wasn’t practical), or building a new home from scratch.  Which we are now doing.

So, Bob, to make a long story a bit shorter, that is where we are now.  We just had to wait for spring for the appropriate development and building permits, and the scheduling of the demolition of the little cottage to make way for the new house.

Yup, we tore it down.  The Cottage wasn’t fancy, but it had 90 years of history, and we managed to make it cute and livable for the times when we were in Grants Pass.  We knew there wouldn’t be much to salvage.  A few old beams weren’t really even paint grade.  The new bathtub that we put in 3 years ago was impossible to get back out without a ton of work. 

Daughter Deborah came the week before the scheduled demolition and helped us get all the furniture (mostly things from Mo’s cabin at the Rocky Point house) out of the cottage and into the big RV shed.  We moved the MoHo outside, where she will reside for the next few months during the build, and created a bit of living space inside the RV shed with our bits and pieces of furniture, a couple of comfy chairs, and the TV.  It will be a bit of a place to get away from the smaller space of the MoHo while we hang around during the house build.  Of course, we have spent months at a time in the MoHo, but it is a bit different when traveling than it will be sitting still in one place.

There goes the bathtub

We then removed a few antique doors, and Deborah took down the kitchen cupboard doors she had so carefully sanded and painted to hopefully create something wonderful with them.

By the end of the week, all the required permits came together at the right time, the gas company capped the gas line at the street and took away the gas meter.  The power company disconnected the existing power and immediately connected to the newly installed power pole and meter box. 

The new power pole gets power from the main pole across the street, but will deliver power to the house underground

We only spent one night without power, and on Saturday morning the electrician showed up at 8am to connect the power line that connected the shop and RV shed to the main pole, and to install a distribution box with a 30 amp plug for our RV and for the builders to use for power equipment during the build.

I had thought it might be an emotional thing to see the Cottage go, and it was, but only for a moment.  When that first wall went down, and the sunny little kitchen with the blue and yellow and white shelves were exposed to the world, I felt a bit of sadness, and tears popped up.  It only lasted a moment, though, and the fascination of watching a house disappear with a few bites of a monstrous machine made up for any sense of loss.

Early in the process, with the demolition of the first exterior wall, suddenly everything came to a screeching halt.  Ralph, the demo guy, thought he saw something that looked like it could contain asbestos.  Gary, the builder foreman, had removed and tested materials from several areas of the house and we were determined to be asbestos free, except for some old tiles in the kitchen.

Homeowners can remove the tiles and dispose of the asbestos, but a contractor is require to jump through myriad and expensive hoops to handle asbestos abatement.  Mo and I had dutifully removed the tiles the previous week, but this material was some sort of crazy composition siding that was completely hidden by other layers of siding sandwiched on the thin walls.

Terror.  I can’t even begin to explain the fear in that moment for all of us, especially Mo and Gary 

Asbestos would stop the job, and could cost so much to remove that we would have to completely abandon our house building plans because it would be so far outside the budget.  Time stood still, and with some sort of contractor magic, Gary managed to get a sample to a testing company in Medford, the sample was tested within an hour, and thank God it came up negative.  Within two hours the machine was backup and running. We all took a collective sigh of relief on that one.

The demolition continued for the rest of the afternoon, even in the rain, and by early evening, most of the cottage was lying in a small heap of sticks and twigs.  It was an old house, built from scratch from whatever materials were available at the time.  The pipes under the floors were wrapped in newspapers and roofing paper.  I hunted for dates, and discovered, January 29, 1949.  I couldn’t read much of the paper, because it was so stained.  It was truly amazing to see that such a simply built house, without even any framing of any kind, could actually stand for 91 years. 

On Tuesday morning the crew returned to finish the job of crunching up all the debris and hauling it away in the two huge dump trucks that they quickly filled.  Ralph also took down the three trees that were in the way of the new house footprint, using his giant bucket to simply push those trees right out of the ground, stumps and all.  It was fascinating to watch. 

On Wednesday morning, almost everything was down and hauled away, except for the last big tree that Ralph thought he should take down with the help of an arborist.  They took that last beautiful madrone down without a hitch, landing it right in between the big trees we wanted to keep uninjured, and the old cherry tree on the lower end of the property.  Gorgeous work, and by the way, gorgeous men as well, all of them.  What IS it about those construction guys with tool belts anyway?!?!

Gary and his helper Levi then started the process of staking out the footprint of the new house.  The final staking will come after the excavation is completed in the first week of April, but this one was basically for making sure the house was set exactly as we wanted it.  I spent much of the time gleefully dancing around the defined space, stepping through the “front door”, looking out the great room “windows”, and standing in my “big oval soaking tub: looking out the big window in the master bathroom.

It is an exciting process, and a slow one.  A custom home doesn’t go up quickly, and our schedule is six or seven months before completion.  We are really hoping that 7 months will get us actually moved in before winter snows once again take over the Klamath Basin. 

Erythronium hendersonii the precious trout lilies growing down in the lower pasture were unconcerned.

We won’t be traveling much this year, as it is important to be around to make decisions.  Our contractor is a great guy, with a wonderful reputation for building homes in Grants Pass for 3 decades, but we still wouldn't want to leave all those choices up to someone else, so we need to be around.  The plan is a week at the “cottage”…and a week back at the apartments where we will officially reside until we move into the new house. 

I gotta figure out what to call our place in Grants Pass now that the “cottage “ is no longer there.  The new house isn’t huge, but it is definitely NOT a cottage.