Home Improvement: Fireplace Edition, Part 6

After discovering the box o’ ductwork, I spent some time scrambling around trying to figure out what to do. Jim and I met a couple times to try to figure out a solution, but no clear solution proved forthcoming until I met with Pat, the guy we hired to tile the fireplace. I explained the problem to Pat, who does kitchen and bathroom remodels singlehandedly, and he started thinking about what we ought to do.

After some discussion, we agreed that Pat would take over the project from here, since he can finish everything that needs to be done on his own. This choice took a huge weight off my mind — the project may still take a while to finish, but we aren’t going to have the same scheduling gaps and down days just waiting, and I know who’s going to do what. Also, Pat is clearly a creative guy who enjoys problem-solving; his business is called Creative Home Works. A little ducting puzzle doesn’t faze him at all.

He started with yesterday and ended up taking the ductwork entirely apart and redoing it entirely.


Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of this, but for a while we also had a hole in our bedroom floor that Benji spent a long time looking down. We could see down into the work area, and the novelty of seeing through the floor was quite high. Pat was very patient about having a peanut gallery watching and commenting, too.

Anyway, by the end of the day, he’d testing all the ductwork and gotten the blower in our bedroom wall.



You can see down on the floor where the original vent came out, and where Benji kept pushing down the hole (sadly, patched now)

The hole in the carpet is where the fascinating hole was; we don’t have any spare of this carpet, but will find a creative solution. The unfinished electrical box is a control to turn on the blower.

Ian just told me, “Wow. It feels like it’s really going to get done now.” That articulates pretty well my feelings, too. Before, I kept having to struggle and fight for every inch of progress; now I know it will progress no matter what. We may still have hurdles, but I feel more confident at overcoming them.

Home Improvement: Fireplace Edition, Part 5

The subtitle for this post should be “What you’d call good news, bad news.”

Good news: Our rough-in inspection passed! Ian was here for the inspector, who took about two minutes to review his notes, look at the work we’d done, and sign off on the changes. Huge sigh of relief! Maybe I’ll sleep tonight (last night was all wakeful shades of inspection-related misery).

Bad news: Last night, I looked into a box that was in the construction area of the house. It had been sitting there for quite a while and I’d forgotten what was in it, and some insulation ended up on top of it. An unassuming box.

Unfortunately, this box was actually about as unassuming as a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to our timeline, because it contained all the important parts for installing the heating duct that I had completely and totally forgotten about when the heating duct guys were here. Most notably, it contains an air-tight collar that fits securely into the top of the fireplace. It also contains the blower, which should be installed behind the vent (that’s the thing that sucks air from the fireplace into our bedroom, without which all the ducting would be useless), along with a passel of electrical controls that hook up to the fireplace and allow us to control the air flow and heat from our bedroom. All those things need to be installed for the heating ducts to actually work.

The other thing is, there are specific guidelines about the duct work that the installers didn’t know about, and I don’t know how much of their work will be able to stand versus how much will have to come out and be redone. And, best of all, I get to be 100% responsible for the screw-up, since I’m the only one who knew about the box and its contents. On the bright side, the permit did not cover HVAC and electrical, thank goodness, so even if we have to redo everything, we at least don’t need another inspection.

I’ve said it all along, to try to reassure myself: Don’t worry, this isn’t life or death, anything that goes wrong will just be more time and money to fix. And, sure enough, that’s exactly what’s happening. If we don’t have to redo all the venting, a nontrivial amount of it will need to be redone, and of course, we pay for the first duct work and then again for the second work to fix the first stuff, since it was my error.

Just when I start thinking I see the light at the end of the tunnel, it turns out I was seeing fluorescing fungus, and there’s just more tunnel after all.

Home Improvement: Fireplace Edition, part 2

This morning, bright and early, the Kirkland Fireplace installer showed up to install the actual fireplace itself. He arrived about 8:00 and finished about 10:30, so quickly I didn’t even have time to make a batch of cookies to say “thank you.”

The stove itself!
Installer Eric hard at work, having just hooked up to the gas line in the crawl space.
It's installed and we can even turn it on!
Not the most ideal location for a vent...

Wow, it worked! All my careful design and agonizing research actually did pay off: It’s not touching the wall in the back; the direct vent was able to bend and go straight out without being too tall; the sides fit in exactly right; the gas line had been run to the exact right spot and he had to do minimal work to hook it up. I have to admit, I’m kind of astonished.

Now on to running the heating duct up to our bedroom, hooking up to electrical, and finally adding the stone exterior.

This is exciting, but I’ll be honest: At this point I’m just ready to have access to my laundry room from inside the house again.

Bookshelf Installation: Day 2

Day’s Verse:
Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand. No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous.
Titus 3:1-2

As promised, here’s what the bookshelves look like after the guy spent another full day here doing stuff.

Bookshelves Day 2 - Flash

Looks like he didn’t do that much all day, huh? Well, look again.

Bookshelves Day 2 - No flash

The lights have three settings (brightest setting shown) and are controlled by a touch-sensitive pad that will be hidden in one of the cabinets. These keep getting better and better. It’s like coming home to Christmas every day. And Deborah, notice – with the lights on, and the beginnings of the crown molding, the paint imperfections are becoming increasingly unnoticeable. I bet by the time it’s done, we’ll hardly have to do anything to the wall. I can tell which room I’m gonna be spending a lot of time in.

Bookshelf Installation: Day 1

Day’s Verse:
It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there’s more life to comeā€”an eternity of life! You can count on this.
Titus 3:3-8

Ian may look excellent in a kilt — hands down my favorite look for him, by far — but our library’s starting to look pretty awesome with bookshelves on.

To refresh your memory, here’s how the previous owners had set it up. This is what it looked like when we toured the house. (That’s a piano you can just see off in the bottom left-hand corner — it was a self-playing thing and they had it playing some smooth jazz or something equally inviting.)
House Hunting: Library

Ian and I painted one wall red, but left the big one blank. We had the bookshelf brainstorm and picked a design. Then just a couple weeks ago, Deborah and I added this:
Library Prep: Painting

Now, after a day of one of Kenis Loven‘s craftsmen working on it, we’ve got this:
Bookshelf Install: Day 1

I love the color we picked for stain; as our pastor at church would say, “Love it, love it, love it!” There’s a lot left to do, but I’m extremely excited with how it’s looking so far. Stay tuned. I’ll keep updating with pictures as it progresses.

Vacation: Day 3

Day’s Verse:
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:22

Remember how a month and a bit ago, I posted a picture of bookshelves we were getting? Kenis Loven said it would take about 6 weeks, and I’ll say that those were the fastest weeks I’ve ever heard of: our new shelves (artist’s rendering shown below) are scheduled to be installed starting on October 25, which is nearly upon us! It will take them 2 or 3 days to finish the job.


So to be ready for this exciting occurrence, I cleaned out the library yesterday in the morning. Then I painted the wall above where the shelves will be installed. Deborah came and did a beautiful job cutting in way up in tippy top corners and high-up, hard-to-reach edges:

Library Prep: Painting

You may be asking yourself, “Where have all the boxes of books gone?” This is a very valid question, since the books were slowly taking over the entire room as we unearthed ones we wanted to read. Conservation of matter says the books must have gone somewhere, and you’re quite right. More space in the library means…

Library Prep: Books
…less space in the living room. This pile o’ books will remain there for another 10 days or so, which is nothing. I vacuumed under there before we put the boxes down and that’ll be the cleanest patch of floor in the entire house.

In the background you can kind of see a brown pillow on our couch. Jane stopped by and generously brought us two pillows as an early Christmas present. Thank you, Jane! They’re much comfier than the old ones.

Yesterday I also obtained a desk annex from Craigslist, and that freed up a nice little end table for us to use in the library. Our lamp no longer has to list on a falling-apart cardboard box. And last but by no means least, I’m working on a project on the computer that’s taking a lot of time but should be pretty awesome when I’m done.

I haven’t mentioned Ian’s job at all for a very long time. He has a nasty deadline today, and lately the stress level of the job has dramatically increased as a result. He’s doing a great job, and StrataGen is lucky to have a developer as diligent and awesome as Ian. I hope they recognize that and reward him appropriately. Fortunately, Ian has a mini-vacation coming up: He’s going to New Orleans for his cousin’s wedding. That should help release some of the pressure that’s built up over the last few months.

As for me, I have no idea what my future holds. It may have the Bicycle Alliance in it for another year or two, if the contract they offer me looks appealing; otherwise, things certainly look murky. I’m just hoping there’s a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy somewhere in that murk.

Sleeping Above the Ground! (and a trip to points east)

Day’s Verse:
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13

Bedroom Set 1

Bedroom Set 2
OK, I know Ian will gripe if I don’t clarify: We’ve been sleeping on normal mattresses on a Harvard frame, so it’s not as if we’d been making do with sleeping bags on the floor since we bought the house. However, this is exciting because it’s the first time in our entire 7 years of marriage we’ve had a real bedroom set like this. Yay! The quality is fabulous…but then, we previously had particleboard with wood veneer, so I guess anything’s better than that.

Now, on to the real news. I’m going to be in Spokane from tomorrow through next Saturday. I do have a laptop, so updates may come forth, but maybe not. Eileen Hyatt, the gal I’m staying with, is a Bicycle Alliance board member who lives in Spokane and she has quite the full week planned for me. Monday through Friday (I think) I’ll be learning and/or co-teaching from/with her to learn about how the Safe Routes to School teaching-the-teachers works. I’m excited to learn from her about teaching teachers, bike education for elementary students, how the curriculum works with younger kids and what teachers take from our training and actually use in the classroom.

In addition to learning the Eileen Hyatt Gold Standard of Bike Ed for Kids, I’m going to do what looks like a couple intense tabling events this Saturday and Sunday; do some kind of presentation to a bike club there; accompany Eileen on a Bike Buddies ride; and who knows what else. I expect to be completely bushed — and tired of driving — by the time I drag myself back home. Too bad the week after that looks nearly as nonstop…

I have to admit, I’m looking forward to September 27, when everything will be done.