There’s an acute sense of urgency resounding in my bones.  The new reality of global warming means we went straight from 90 degree days to 30 degree nights in just a matter of about four weeks.  What this means for me, besides the fact that we are pretty much screwed in the long-term, is that I need to wrap up whatever needs to be done outside.  This morning I awoke to a hard frost, so our growing season here in the valley is officially over in my book. Less daylight after five means I don’t have much time during the week to get anything done after work.  Tonight I planted all the mums that were in pots.  I just randomly selected a few spots in the yard near wild trees and a couple random bushes by the driveway.  I’m not a big mum fan but they were free.  I think the deer eat them but I’m hoping they will be fine where I put them.

We’re still waiting on our bushes from Tennessee.  The should have arrived by now but today was a holiday so no mail service. Hopefully tomorrow so I can get them in the ground.  After I plant those, I just have a few random plants that mom gave us and then that’s it for planting this year.  This weekend will be for bringing in porch cushions and cleaning out the garage to fit another car.

Outside the painters are finishing the clear coat on the cedar.  It darkened it up a bit but it still looks amazing and if anything the white trim pops more now.  I’m in the process of getting quotes for the Sno-Gem snow guards on the roof.  We’re not sure if we want the bar or the little glue on tab style.  This will keep snow off the gutters and should run about $4,000.  I’m on the fence as to which style I, we, prefer.  I’ll look at the cost and go from there.

Fall really is my favorite time of year.  I really like driving, even if it’s to run an errand, during sun set time.  I think what makes Fall unique is that it is the one time of year where to really enjoy a sunset one shouldn’t necessarily look at the sun.  Rather one should turn themselves around 180 degrees and look at the eye-popping canvas that has been bestowed upon us on a daily basis.  I think the low angle this time of year makes sun sets last a lot longer and the way the light reflects around opaque slate clouds, filters through thinning tree canopies and saturates across dried out corn rows is just breathtaking.  It’s amazing that nature spends all spring and summer sequestering all that carbon and creating all that life, only to have it undone in the turning of a calendar page.  By time the sewn Halloween costumes are tucked away in a memory bin, the show will be over for all intents and purposes.  The greens, oranges, browns and reds are well adapted to reminding one of the sense of place and mortality that runs through all of our veins on an innate plane.  For the sake of my sanity, or insanity as it may well be, I certainly could never imagine living in a place that didn’t go through such a reflective process every year.  I suppose each place is unique but I’ll take a midwest autumn any day of the week.

Back inside we’re starting to use the fireplace more regularly.  My competitive streak now has a new contest which is see how long we can go without a furnace.  We’ve made it about four weeks so far without A/C or the furnace on.  I think the filter and air exchanger run and that’s about it.  We’d been oscillating between 68 and 70 degrees daily, but after a weekend away and thirty degree nights the temp dropped down to 67 yesterday, inside the house.  The fireplace heats up the family room to a balmy 75 degrees at will with little fanfare.  Once marvelous discovery tonight was we noticed Joe’s design for the staircase works exquisitely.  The open tread, open staircase funnels warm air upstairs.  You literally can feel a temperature change when you get on the staircase.  Places like my studio are a little chilly but not anything that would warrant the furnace.  And the warm air lazily cyclone-ing up the staircase is just fantastic.

Once in hibernation mode my attention can shift to finishing indoor projects and working on art.  My goal is to sell about hundred grand in art in the foreseeable so we’ve got our work cut out for us.  It’s doable, just takes some time, effort and of course people who want to buy art. If you know anyone….

I’ll try to get some nice fall pics for you soon.  I plan on doing a Fall “photo walk” so maybe then I’ll have something to share.  In the meantime get out there and enjoy the best season of the year.

Brrr….Time to Hibernate

Brrr….. it was cold this morning when I fired up the Rabbit and headed out to the house at daybreak today.  The thermometer on the vee dub’s dash read a finger numbing 24 degrees Farenheit as we chased the rising sun down the valley.  Earlier I awoke with anticipation, for I had not seen the job site in nearly a week.  I was anxious to see what if any progress we were making.  There was a chance too that we’d set the stair case’s today as well.

One man's frost bite is another man's paycheck. Man made snow being blown onto a local ski resort's slopes this morning.

Once at the house I turned off the car and stepped out on the frozen ground.  I was actually a bit relieved that the frost and cold had firmed up the earth a bit making surveying the build a fair bit easier.  All the rain of the previous weeks had turned everything into a muddy mess.  For now, at least, all was firmly held together with morning frost and ice.
Looking around I could see the last of the windows had been installed.  I still had to crimp the expansion tube and should probably pay some attention to the nailing flanges to seal them up but that could wait for another (preferably warmer) day.  I diverted my attention and joyfully gazed upon the house, focusing in on the black rectangles adorning the exterior doors.  Our door handles are installed!

Hardware. Pic of our Emtek Orion front door handle in oiled bronze finish.


Interior view of the Emtek sideplate that adorns another exterior door. The knob isn't the most ergonomic form in the world but it feels solid and suits the architecture of the house.

Beyond the door hardware, not much is happening.  Siding is going up at a pace somewhere between snail like and slow & steady, but they’re doing a quality job and caulking along the way; which means the painter won’t have to caulk.  We still are waiting on the electric meter.  Until we have that the temp furnace won’t be hooked up.  Work on the cistern has stopped as everything is now encased in ice.  The idea of installing the stairs fell by the wayside today; better to wait for a warmer day.  This week the stairs will be dropped of.  We should get the laminate for the kitchen cabinets as well. 
We were fairly successful today selecting finishes.  Christine and I went out and landed upon selections for the exterior flood lights as well as counter material for the kitchen.  Floods will be nondescript units off the shelf of Home Depot.  The counter material will be Silestone quartz; most likely in a Grey Expo color.  The Silestone was pricey but cheaper than pretty much all other quartz brands out there.  It should prove to be low maintenance and look pretty nice.  We also chose all the tile for the entire house.  The nice thing about being tired with selecting materials and making decisions is that you can cut to the chase pretty quickly and pick something.  In about a half hour we had a color combo we liked for the master bath and the tile for the boys bathroom.  If it doesn’t look good we can always rip it our later and remodel.  I doubt this will happen, we’ve been fairly lucky in the past with selecting finishes that work together.  The house will be fairly eclectic so that affords us some levity. 
Seems with the cold weather everyone’s hibernating at the job site but that should change, hopefully, in the coming weeks.  Meanwhile, enjoy today’s pics.

Staircase in the cabinet maker's shop. Maple open treads. The spaces are 4" to pass code (i.e. James head won't fit in there, though I assure you, he will try)


Light fixtures are trickling in. Here's one of the pendants going over the dining room table from Barn Light Electric. It's an old acetylene tank head. It's heavy. It's cooler than any light fixture I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of cool light fixtures. Trust me.


South face of house soaking up some late Autumn morning rays.


First floor tile combo. Dark rust tile for entry, master bath, half bath and laundry room. Green glass tile for master shower.


Miratek trim and red cedar siding on back porch.


Flooring for Christine's studio and craft room. Shaw laminate.


Porch siding


On the off chance you're interested in such thing (as opposed to listening to me wax poetically about the nuances of picking out lighting) you can see here how the sofits are constructed.

Studio Night

Good news, cedar siding is going on the dormers. Bad news is I just realized cedar siding's going on the dormers.

On an otherwise dismal day, at least one little portion of my existence is shaping up.  Siding is going on the house.  There’s a dormer that’s 2/3 covered in siding materials.  The bulk of the house and garage will be Western Red Cedar siding that we’ll let weather to a natural grey color.  The remainder will be painted board and batten siding.  It took the picture above for me to finally realize a potential issue though.  The cedar siding may wreak havoc with the health of our rain water collection plan.  You can collect rain water for consumption off a variety of materials including asphalt shingles, but cedar is a no no.  There are toxic preservatives in most if not all cedar shakes used for roofing.  Cedar itself, regardless of preservatives, contains natural tannins and oils that make water coming off of it non-potable.  Figures with everything going on I’d wait ’til the last-minute to realize there was an issue.  I guess my oversight knows boundaries after today.
Ultimately though this only affects the three dormers on the house.  The attic loft is painted board and batten siding so it won’t cause a problem. 
I’ll know better tomorrow if we have to replace the one section on already.  Otherwise everything is running along, slowly but surely.  The siding job itself is stunning in conjunction with the metal roof.  Bar none, it’ll be one of the best looking houses in the area. Of course I’m biased and know nothing of humility.  Ugh, I wish we were doing stone right off the bat.  We’ll all just have to wait a year.

Porch ceiling covered in OSB. Will then be wrapped and covered in insulation inside and out. The recessed lights have a built in adjustment so they'll slide down the requisite 1.5".

This week was remarkable also for the fact that I got back into the studio.  Granted it was only to paint frames, but in the studio again I was.  I had forgotten how good that can be for my soul.  And no, it has nothing to do about hiding from the family.  In fact, for half the time I had a guest artist in studio.  

A budding "tape" painter just like his old man. Hopefully he loses the paint brush and makes something of himself someday. Being an artist is no way to go through life. Trust me.

I set up the easel and palette for my painting buddy, donned in his official “painting clothes”,  and proceeds to bark out orders.  He concisely tells me which colors of paint he’ll need for the night’s session.  I’m then informed I need to supply him with no less than five brushes and two palette knives, all called out by their proper names.  And every five minutes or so  I am to stop whatever I am doing and supply him with painters tape.  Not to get all ‘Flowers Are Red’ on the kid, but regardless of what colors I dole out most of the painting is a greenish grey blob.  But if you were to ask the artist it’s a painting of his “Tower”. (Actually no need to ask, he tells you outright, so his ego-maniac, artist dad is doing something right).  After about twenty minutes he’s done for the night and he retires back up the wooden stairs leading out of the basement, leaving me to my thoughts, paint and my one beer for the night.  It will be easier when we’re in the new place as the studio will be on the first floor and  easier to access the rest of the “action” in the house.
But also, hopefully, the new studio will be still somewhat secluded.  For I forgot what it was like to get away from the rules, expectations, and order of “reality” and get back into the studio where pretty much anything’s possible with the bat of an eye.  How nice it is to turn on some music, wet a brush and paint something.  Anything. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s something to be said for solitude; no matter who you are or what you think you’re doing (or think you obligated to be doing) with your 24/7.  A solitude and individuality that to the extreme can make one unbearable to be around, but well worth the risk in any instance.  Trust me, I’d lead you not astray.
That being said it’s still a nice treat  when you are fortunate enough to get the occasional fellow artist to join you in studio for a night.  Even when he’s a demanding, blonde three-year old.