Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Jim Morrison and the Doors

Okay, I lied about the Jim Morrison part. This is all about the doors.
We have all of the original doors and Eastlake hardware, including the black marble doorknobs. If you are in the rennovation know, that is a VERY BIG DEAL.

And since all of these doors were hand made, the designs are unique to this area. The routing and rosettes belonged to one guy...and you can see the progression of his work, since as his tools wore down, the details became less sharp. Then when he got a new blade or sharpened the old one, the detailing changed slightly.

The original doors were all faux finished, since
A) this was a high class hotel (otherwise the doors would have been painted and had flat molding
and B) they were using available wood. Douglas fir for the hardness on the outside and clear redwood for the inside BECAUSE this was all done before electricityk so the wood had to be soft so it could be milled. The two different species of wood made for a real flung together look, and wouldn't take the stain equally so they wood grained it. And really....people weren't much different in 1890 than they are right now. They get sloppy, bored, and just plain old tired of doing all of this wood graining. It's all done by hand .

You have to find the exact right kind of person to do it or it looks like you let monkeys loose with paintbrushes . It's not HARD but I think you have to be hard-wired a certain way to like it, much less DO it. It is meticulous work and like any thing, you have to have an eye for detail AND an incredible amount of patience to tackle it, because there is so much of it to do. We've been extrememly lucky in finding a few guys over the last ten years who have that kind of talent. Mike trained them and some of them took to it and a couple of them walked off the job by 8 am.

So first, all of this stuff had to be stripped. Very time consuming.
And when that was done, we had a whole bunch of really ugly doors.
All the dings and dents had to be patched and all the repairs had to be made to both the door and the frame.

Then I took one of the original doors to Eric's Paint here in town and had Eric's dad figure out the layers of colors to use to replicate the original.
He is, frankly, a color genius. They both are. I'm sorta an 8 crayon gal myself. There's red, orange, green and blue. Yellow, brown and black. And plain old white. The end.
But here is what Mr. Eric picked for the primer/base coat. Hang on to your hat.

Yuck-ola mauve. And as much as I respect his color sense, I thought he had lost his cotton pickin' mind. Because I certainly couldn't see mauve ANYWHERE.

He also had picked the graining colors and surprise....his black wasn't just a plain old black. It had shots of navy blue in it. (I know because I watched him mix it )

So here is my mauve door with the graining. Can"t see the mauve?
There are about 13 steps from the mauve to the graining to the flogging and the finish coat before it's done. But boy oh boy, do those doors look great. Barbara Streisand great.
Perfect to the very last detail.

Woodwork, Part 1

I really have a plan in writing all this down and I sort of got sidetracked over the library. There are MILES of original woodwork.
It all had to be scraped down and stripped and primered. If it was going to be woodwork, like the baseboards and window frames, we painted it with a hideous mauve undercoat , then grained BY HAND, flogging, detailed and polyurethaned that looks like an oil rubbed finish. We have all of the original doors and hardware and every single inch had to be redone. (More on that). Then there are the miles of decorative molding that runsaround the ceilings. Because God and Mike knows that the ceilings can't be plain, since we might look at them.
So roughly, 3,000 square feet of ceiling turns into, I don't know, 21,000 lineal feet of decorative moldings.
More if we put more than one pattern together.
Mind boggling.

And then there are all kinds of options like stepped ceilings, rain gutter as molding so we can run soft over head lighting (really soft white tube lighting)...if Mike can see it, he can figure out a way to copy it.

Most of what he is doing comes out of his head and is sort of like an elaborate puzzle for him. He is such a talented craftsman and knows how to do all of this stuff.

Now my strong suit is looking at magazines and saying things like "Look at this, Honey".
His is making it look classy.

Hotel, Part 2

So we've "saved" the building, so it won't fall down around our ears and in 1998, had no idea what the heck we were going to do with the upstairs part. We thought about making it a professional offices space, sort of like the one on the old Bob Newhart show.

But one night, we couldn't sleep and were sitting on our front porch and talking about the almost acre of yard we take care of and the $30K paint job that the house we live in (an 1888 Victorian) would need oh, probably every 7 years, plus all of the major upkeep an old, huge and wooden house needs....and we both decided, "Wow! Let's live in the hotel!"

Like most of our really good ideas, it is REALLY expensive. In fact, if we had realized HOW expensive it was going to be, we would have...oh, I don't know. Had six more kids.

The hotel originally had (I think) 15 rooms. It had always been a hotel, so it had been zoned residential.
The city tried to slap a school tax on us, too...but it had been zoned for FIFTEEN families for 150 years and we were turning it into a single family dweeling, so THAt saved us $18K.

All we had to do was move some walls to turn it into a three bedroom/2 bath apartment, with the lobby serving as the formal living room (for our really nice antiques). One of the hotel rooms is our dining room, with room for a BIG table and crystal and china hutches and then two rooms were turned into a library.
Let me show you:
Wow, huh? 14 feet tall and 18 feet wide. On just two walls; one wall is all windows and the other wall has a fireplace, as yet, not quite planned. It has the firebox and a hearth but we have no real idea what it REALLY is going to look like.

Most of this project is that way, since we sort of have to rely on finding something someone else is throwing out. Like the lower cabinets of those bookcases? A tear out from a hardware store.

That gorgeous floor (and it will get it's totally own post, because it really is fabuloso)...a tear down.
It was in a 150 year old school and it was going to be too expensive to rebuild it to code, so we tore it down for salvage
We saved the flooring, the slate chalk boards, the molding, the windows and doors and dragged it upstairs. When we sold the original Mexican clay roof tiles, it paid for all of our demolition costs.

Mike planed the floor boards and set it into quilt patterns because, God knows, the wood itself was so beautiful that we just couldn't let it be installed in straight lines. There is the Courthouse Steps in the kitchen, Flying Geese in the front hallway and Journey into Egypt in the dining room. No stain, this beautiful color is just the satin polyurethane. And it is so beautiful that I think we are going to leave our shoes in the elevator. (Yes! It has an elevator!! And an elevator anteroom!! OH, I am a bigshot).

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Hotel, Part 1

Well, here I am, about to write down everything I can remember about our hotel project. Mike bought the Mills building in 1995, after the city approached him about it. They were planning on tearring it down for firepractice, raizing it and "creating" downtown parking. (Downtown at that time was pretty well EMPTY, so I'm not sure who all they thought would be using the lot.)

After talking to Mike, they said they could find a grant if he would buy the building and begin a rennovation. Actually, the city's idea was to turn the upstairs into low income housing. (More about that in a minute).

Mike first had to find the owner, who had won the building in a poker game, driven up one day to seen it and crossed it off his list. He thought the building was a mess, ugly and useless and the town a wide spot in the road where cows, horses, and goats lingered. Hanford is flat, hot and in the big middle of nowhere...and when Mr. Poker Player visited, has a dying downtown. However, the taxes were something like $12 a year and he saw no reason to just give it away.

Mike kept calling the guy and telling him about his own dreams and plans for this building and finally got him to sell. Plus, the city was going to have the guy pay for tearing down the building and cleaning up the lot.

Now, the first time I saw the place, I honestly thought Mike had lost his mind. The wallpaper was peeling off in long strips and the curtains were sppoky tatters. Pigeon poop was EVERYWHERE and the dirt? Picture 50 years of dirt, guano, grime! But then I saw this.

And I couldn't bear the idea of little Matchbox cars running all over this really beautiful ORIGINAL woodwork. So I fell in love with this newel post and talked Mike into turning the whole upstairs into one big apartment space. For us.

The very first thing that had to be done was to reroof the whole building. It had been leaking for years and not only was the upstairs in a mess, the commercial spaces downstairs had leaks, as well. After cleaning the rooftop of all kinds of junk and making immediate repairs, Mike tore off the tops of the bricked columns, to find them stuffed with colonys of bats. Yuck! Eeek! Yikes!

All of that had to get cleared away before anything else could get done. Mike Robinson loaned Mike $20,000 to redo the roof beacuse if we couldn't do that immediate fix, the building was a goner. Mike stripped off 100 years of roofing, down to the original metal roof, which was rusted through. After he pulled the metal roofing off, he had to repair the wood sheeting that was all rotted. Then he roofed it with cold application and membrane and wrapped the inside of the parapet walls with 1/2 inch rebar and45 degree angle metal bracing. Then he shot the whole thing with 6 inches of pool gunnite to stabelize the brick parapets. That tooke the entire $20K, our cost.

Then they had to get rid of all the flying and nesting pigeons, knock down nests, seal up the ceiling and attics spaces and then finally, seal the doors and windows. IT took most of one winter to get rid of the birds. (I personally would have poisoned them, but cooler heads prevailed.)Every evening, I would go into the hotel and check to see if there were any critters I could set free; our intention was not to kill then, but to get them OUT of our house.

So here is what the Mills building originally looked like:

What it looked like when we bought it:

And what it looks like today:

Monday, May 22, 2006

Virtual trip to the beach

Gorgeous, isn't it? These are the fields and the coast mountains that border the vally I live in.

I've been making this drive for, oh..about 50 years now! Not that there isn't a ginormous coast to's just that this particular one takes 2 hours and 5 minutes to get to. Not that anyone is counting.

If the weather is horrible here; it is traditionally nice there. 110 degrees at home? Take a sweatshirt. The best time is the summer (so we can get out of the heat) and the winter 9so we can get out of the fog). We only have 2 weeks of fall and 2 weeks of spring, so we can stay home for that!

The country I'm traveling thru is the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley, located in the smack middle of California. It's mainly prisons and farmland here and flat as a pancake, which is why driving thru these foothills has always been so entertaining. Where it is flat, there are usually fields of wheat, winter and summer. Where there are hills, there are usually herds of cows. In the springtime, many of the fields are covered with flocks of sheep, along with a Basque sheepherder, a couple of dogs and just a role of wire to keep them in a area to "sheep" it off. Around here, it is really common to have flocks of sheep eat a field right to the ground. Then, with the spring rains, whatever is growing will spring right up, fresh and tender. Sheep will eat a field down to the ground; horses and cows won't. This landscape between here and the coast is changing; since the weather is much like France and Italy, it is slowing being transformed into wine country. 10 years ago, I went on a wine tasting weekend with my then boyfired; we visited 45 wineries in 5 days. In the same area now, I bet there are 300 wineries, with hundreds of acres of new vineyards being planted every year. This is one of the wine tasting rooms near Paso Robles. It has a big bed and breakfast associated with it and they arranged for
chauffered wine tasting jaunts around the area.

As the wineries slowly take over the open land, I think the population will change to a huge degree. Outside of Paso, the weather is just hot and sunny enoughwith just enough rain and mild winters that the vineyards will thrive and bring with them a LOT of money from LA. With more telecommuting being done, I think people willbe able to move out of the LA/Orange County area and settle here.

Right now, these hills are loaded with coastal oaks, draped with Spanish moss. In twenty years, these hills will be filled with either equestrian properties, McMansions or pricy subdivisions. The weather here is mild and the beach is only about 30 minutes away.

The avocado groves nestle in the hills and valleys closer to the ocean; the weather is mild and foggy and perfect for that crop.
More and more of the hillsides are being planted with this tempermental crop and you can buy fresh, ripe avocados at roadside stands and the farmer's markets 4/$1 almost year round. Nothing is better than fresh produce and there are fields of specialty lettuces, sugar snap peas, kiwi,strawberries, blackberries, bok choy raised here, as well as even more "yuppie" specialty, fancy pants crops. We even have a little banana belt, so there are all kinds of exotic banans available at the farmer's market. Super fresh produce, coupled with the fishing boats that tie up in Morro Bay make this a great place to cook...even for me! The stuff is so abundant and fresh that it takes so little time to steam and saute a really great, simple meal. And I don't even LIKE to cook!

Here is the first glimpse of Morro Rock, also known as the Gibralter of the Pacific. I think it is probably part of the mountains around here...just tossed farthur out into the water. It is a tough bay to navigate out of, the water is cold, like all of the California waters and choppy. However, there are whole rafts of otters, lots of sea lions and elephant seals and, since Morro Bay is a bird sanctuary, a plethora of birds of all kinds.

We usually leave early on Friday and return REALLY early on Monday, to avoid the traffic. What do we do? Pretty much nothing. I usually cook (my least favorite thing in the world to do, since it keeps happening every few hours). Knit.
Weed my little garden.
Watch the tide go in and out. Wave to my neighbors.
Let the little dog sleep on my lap.
Walk to the beach and check on the tide.
Pick up rocks.
Take naps.
Watch Law and Order.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Open Letter To My Husband:

I sincerely apologize for yelling at you tonight and shouting, "shut up, I'm counting", followed by "leave that f*****g light on".

This behavior most certainly does not reflect my true feelings for you. It only means that I am coming to terms with the fact that I am not the skilled knitter I thought I was and that this cabled cashmere cardigan I am knitting for you is not the creative yoga ANY of my previous projects have been.

I feel like a flippin' CPA with all this counting and I think I might have told you before how that bean counting makes me feel.

Plus, I balanced all the books today and was feeling just a little...taken for granted, since when I sat down to mindlessly watch television, you asked me how I was coming along with your sweater. That turns it into a project to complete, instead of something to while away the hours.

So, as I count and frog and swear, don't take it personally.

Look at it as an adventure in matrimony.

And if you do get this sweater? You had damn well better wear it to shreds.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

If this is Thursday, I must be doing the books

I hate book keeping.
I hate having to run 62 pages of reports to glean the bits of information the governmental agencies need.
I hate trying to figure out what each agencies acronyms mean, for example, P.I.T. means personal income taxed...that's your total income. Why the heck can't the program call it whatever the agency calls it?

And all these millions of pages have to be printed and filed becasue every agency sends an auitor out and they want to compare EVERY report to every agency to their reports to make sure that they are all the same.

I cannot tell you how many hours this takes EVERY WEEK, because that is the only way to keep up. If you try to do, for example, the worker's comp report at the end of the quarter (and you have 7 days between the time the quarter ends and the time the report goes in), you would go crazy. Well, maybe not if all the employees were doing the same thing, but we have a construction company and Guy A might spent 2 hours at the dump, 3 hours on cement work, 5 hours painting, 6 hours doing carpenter work and every single different job is billed differently. So I have to get it down every week off the time cards and it is a gigantic pain.

And no one has a problem calling me to aske for a print out of what they spent last year for whatever...but when I call the dairy we get out milk from and ask for a printout of our account for 2005, the gal says it can't be done. Yes it can,
You use the same program I do.
You go to my account, type in January 1, 2005 in one window, type in December 31, 2005 and then click on print. The program prints out how much we spent on milk for 2005. Email it to me. The end.

Why does everything have to be so complicated?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Teachers aren't the most sophisticated creatures

I regularly drop in on a site for teachers...there's a chatboard and we talk about all kinds of things but mainly about teaching and how it makes us crazy and the NCLB and how THAT makes us crazy. I'm one of the few who doesn't work in a traditional school anymore.
So I'm posting, whining about my shoulder (which hurts, which is why I'm up at 3:17) and talking about how it looks as if I'm going to be out until September.

And I get about 50-50 of sympathy and anger. (The sympathy was what I was looking for.) The anger really surprised me. (Really? Surprised me? Only sort of.)

First off, teachers are an odd bunch. They look at their job as REALLY important. (ANd while I like to think that my "company" will grind to a halt without me, it won't.) So I get some comments like "I had major surgery and was back at school in three days. It was hard, but I had a responsibility" or "Some people will do anything to get out of work" , "I'm just not the type to take pain meds"and my favorite, "People like you abuse the system".

For educated people, these teachers sure don't understand how worker's comp works and I really can't fault them because in general, school districts don't tell the teachers that they HAVE worker's comp; if you get hurt at school, it is pretty much your own problem. And most teachers are unsophisticated about this stuff and they don't know that their employer is responsible for injuries incurred at work, even if you are clumsy.

Years ago, a friend was on yard duty and got hit in the face with a soccer ball. Broke her glasses and knocked out three teeth. The principal told her, well, that's the price you pay for being a teacher. He wanted her to wait until after school to go to the dentist, because it would be inconvienient to get coverage for her class. In the real world, that just doesn't happen. Even in little bitty businesses, an employee would be TAKEN to the worker's comp doctor and taken care of.

So I'm sort of surprised at the venom of some of these posts..and that they are all anonymous, to boot.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Two sticks and some string makes me so happy

It is almost beyond me how happy knitting makes me. I'm no housekeeper and you could starve to death in my house before I even noticed you were hungry (and yes, it's an ongoing problem with Darling, who believes that by rooting around in the kitchen and rattling dishes that I will magically be summoned inot the kitchen to "see what's wrong". It doesn;t sound wrong to me; it just sounds like he's rooting around in the kitchen!) God knows I'm not even much of a laundress, although I do manage to keep the clothes clean and sorted out to the correct rooms but knitting satisfies me on some kind of OHM level.
I revel in the tactile sense of the yarn and how it changes when it's knitted up. I like the way the needles clickety clack away. I like the way the needles look when jabbed into the yarn ball, even. One of my favorite things to do is to start a baby sweater when the daughter of a freind or one of my scattered young relatives goes inot lable. I think that every baby should come inot the world with a sweater knitted while they were on their journey. The pattern i use is all but brainless and the minute I get the phone call, I start. (Obviously, I have a small stash, so I don;t have to go buy something.) I have a sweater and goofy hat that takes just about a day, if I really concentrate on working on them. Just about the same amout of time for most babies to make thier journies into the world.
Brent and Stacy just adopted a baby girl, so I've started a sweet pink sweater and goofy hat that will right now be so much too big for her that I'm sure they will look at it and doubt that it will ever fit. But since it is spring now and in seven months, it will fit. They don't know this but I do. Dozens of of babies have proven my own measuring skill. Pictures to follow.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I'm looking at six weeks ...maybe more

Are these tulips gorgeous or what? Coutesy of my frined Paulie who is simply a master at capturing that whole color thing. I wish I had half her talent....and the colors of the stuff she shoots! Breathtaking. These colors are just begging to be knit up into a summery top.

Went to the doctor today for my worker's comp injury....and I should feel AWFUL..but inside, I'm doing handsprings! My rotator cuff is totally shredded and the cradle has been punctured, so I'm off work until I get the surgery and then maybe 6 weeks to six MONTHS of recouperation and physical therapy. ANd it hurts...but if it's going to hurt, I SHOULD be able to stay home and heal, don'tcha think? And for the last six weeks, I've been trudging off to work every pain meds, even though every day this thing hurt worse and worse. It keeps me up at night, it hurts so bad. The word throbbing was conjured up for this injury. It hurts so bad that the skin on my arm is sore and it hurts all the way to my wrist. Some injury, huh?

I am so ready to retire...I have just been working since August and was ready for a little break...I just wish it didn't have to be accompanied with cutting and slicing and screws and scarring (but this time I am definately getting a tattoo!)

So tomorrow, I'm taking all my tax stuff upstairs, sitting on the floor, watching tv and getting at it. I've been postponing what is a ginormous sorting job since AUGUST...and now I have PLENTY of time to get it all sorted out before I hand it over to the CPA. One thing I really pride myself on is how organized I am at tax time, but this year, I dropped the ball. Glad to have a chance to pick it up!

Then, I'll start work-seriously-on Girlie's boucle sweater, Darling cashmere sweater and when they are done, something for ME! Not sure what...I like this, but with narrower sleeves and in something less varigated...a little tone-on-tone varigation is okay, but not so stripity-stripey.

I also like this orange tank...but with a cardigan to go with it. It is knit out of a tonal varigated silk and is actually triangles that LOOK tricky but aren't. The cardi would just be plain, so that the design detail would totally be the tank.

And then there's this cotton top that I am SO enamoured with. I can envision this in a dozen colors, all in cotton or linen to wear with eithe black or white slacks.I love the sleeve detail...not too frou frou and the hip slit, so I could make it just a little bit longer. It is just plain enough for me to wear to work but not so plain that it would be boring to make or wear.

So this week, here's my schedule:
TWTH..taxes, wash car, clear out all the sweatshirts from the closet to take to the beach house
F...dogs to groomer
FSS......beach house; knitting
M.........clear out closet, fridge, kntting day, I have to take the car in for servicing, knitting