Monday, December 21, 2009


After four hours of shovelling, we finally escaped from the Cinderblock Chalet and drove over to see how our house looked in the snow. I think this is the first snow picture I've ever taken of our new house. It looks kind of pretty. All houses look pretty in the snow though, even the cinderblock chalet.

The world's tallest tree "stump" has got to go though. I snidely wagered way back in 2007 that it would probably take at least 6 months before the rest of the tree came down. The bark is falling off. Doug keeps saying he wants to carve it into a clarinet for our front lawn. So elegant. That's right up there with the saxophone lamp he was going to make. I'll be okay with him not getting around to that.

I think I'll focus on what we have actually gotten done during the past month or so, if I can remember, that is. We haven't been there for two days because of the snow and things like that tend to make me forget. I expect it will take a couple hours of shovelling to get back in there to on the house tomorrow.

We spent a lot of time this fall working on the outside of the house. It is totally finished except for two pieces of trim, the screens for the screened-in back porch, the lattice aprons under the front and back porches, and the flagstone veneer over the cinderblock on the bottom level. That stuff can wait since our inspection does not require those things - except for the trim which I'm sure will be much more fun to install in January.

This is our unscreened-in back porch

Inside, Doug put in all the baseboards in the bathrooms so that the plumber can come in and finish his work. We finally installed the brown fan in the upstairs front room. We did several top coats of a super durable finish called Bona Traffic on our kitchen floor so that the refrigerator and dishwasher can be moved back in and hooked up. Doug finally put in all of the toe kicks for the kitchen cabinets that we installed last February. He won't do the moulding at the top of the cabinets until after the inspection at the end of January he said, which is disappointing, but apparently necessary. The kitchen floor looks great. It has a satin finish now. All of the exterior doors now have beautiful door handles and locks. I painted a closet. I'm patiently waiting for more stuff to paint.

In the hopefully near future we'll be putting up the drywall in the basement. I don't think this will be nearly as laborious as it was this time last year doing all of the bathrooms and the laundry room upstairs. We have ten foot ceilings on the top floor and that was a lot of extra work. The basement should be easier and it's about a third as many walls to cover. I'm looking forward to getting that finished because then we can get busy with the finish carpentry. Oh, and painting and staining the stairs.

We still have to get the HVAC guy to come back and put in our heat pump. Unfortunately, due to all of the delays, the air handler up in the attic is designed for R22 refrigerant but now they only make heat pumps that use R410 refrigerant, so we are going to have to get some kind of conversion done to our air handler to make it compatible with the heat pump, since the R22 compatible heat pump didn't get purchased in time. Delays cause problems, that's all there is to it.

We're pretty much ready for the plumber to come back and finish his work, unless there are additional details that I'm not aware of.

We haven't seen the electrician in a while. I don't expect he'll be back until we've finished drywalling the basement although it would be really nice to get the floor heat hooked up sooner rather than later. The two space heaters do a pretty good job of heating our super-insulated house, but they aren't that efficient and it would be more comfortable with the floor heat. Or the regular heat.

That's all I can think of for now. Wish us luck.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Pink House

I found out last week that somebody has painted my house and this time, for a change, it wasn't me! I guess I should clarify and say that somebody painted an absolutely beautiful picture of our house the way it looked long long ago.

As the result of one of those amazing connections that occasionally happen in the world of blogging, an artist named Peter Krebs who grew up in our area discovered this blog as a result of a post I had written on my other, less house oriented blog. He recognized my house as one he had painted a long time ago when he was a student, freshly back from a summer studying art in Arles. I love the Van Gogh/Hopper-esque style that he used in this painting. It really captures the feeling of an earlier time. I miss how beautiful our area was back before they came in and widened the former two lane country road in front of our house. There was a relatively nice balance of suburbs and country out this way at that time.

Please go read Peter's beautiful and loving reminiscences of his time growing up in this area before all of the "progress" started. His perspective as a young boy growing up in this area and his appreciation of all that it did for him is extremely refreshing. And it tells the story behind the painting that he did of our house over 15 years ago.


Our house has been through a lot since that time, in fact it has been through a lot ever since we bought it way back in 1985. We have very few photos now because we lost nearly everything in the fire, but I recently acquired a few faded ones that my parents had taken over the years.

Our house stopped being pink only about 3 months before the fire happened. I had finally gotten around to painting the original sections to match the gray siding on the huge new addition that we had put on the back of the house. I remember thinking "This is it, I'm not doing this again. It's ridiculous that I should have to paint the entire outside of my house - twice." I was bitching and moaning because it's not fun to paint when it's not warm and sunny. It was November, but still warm enough to paint, and I was finishing the last bits of it during the two week Thanksgiving break of the tour I used to do.

And after all that work it only lasted for three months thanks to the fire.

The era of the pink house began after we replaced all of the windows in order to save money on heating and so that we could actually open and close them in the summertime. This was our first house and we wanted to make it our own. I wanted to paint it blue or green, but Doug had a thing for pink - he said it reminded him of all the pink houses we saw in Bermuda on our honeymoon.

I tried a few different shades on the back of our house, but they were all rather garish, shall we say. Then I saw a big old house in Rockville that was painted a sort of dusty rose color and I thought that would be an acceptable pink. We got really excited about it and I went up and knocked on the door to ask if they would tell us what color they had used. Apparently it was a secret that they were quite proud of, but on the way back down the sidewalk an oak leaf caught my eye because it had a bit of pink in it. I held it up and the pink in it totally matched the house! From there we found a genius paint mixer named Jens who helped us to achieve exactly the right color.

It was kind of an interesting color, not exactly like the house in Rockville, but close. Apparently people used to use our house as a landmark of sorts. One person told me she used to refer to it as "the raspberry house" and she was sad when I painted it gray. By then the color had faded to a paler pink and wasn't quite as distinctive. The old photo below obviously has some color issues of its own, but it's the only one we have. This was during the time when they were widening the road, so the front yard is kind of beat up.

The picture below was taken by my mother during the time that we were replacing the windows. That's my brother up on the ladder. He was a huge help. Doug is on the back roof, I'm down there working on the back windows, and my Dad is standing there observing all of the activity.

These pictures were taken right after we bought our house and before we started all of the never-ending work. The bottom one is my favorite. The greenery looks very similar to what you see in Peter's painting and my beloved old maple tree is still there. I miss that tree!

If you'd like to read more about the old days of our house you may do so here , here , and here .

Thank you, Peter Krebs, for bringing back these early memories of my old house. It makes me especially glad that we decided to try to keep the spirit of our old house alive in the newer version that we are building now.