Sunday, July 25, 2010

The new porch...

It has begun!  We moved into our house in 1997 and have been going non-stop with the home renovation projects ever since.  New bathroom, new kitchen, new doors, new garden, new sheathing and siding, new deck, new plumbing and new wiring...the list can go on.  We've had to hire out some things like chimney work and the roof but we've managed to do the majority of all other work by ourselves or with K's Dad's help.  It's really remarkable to think back at what this solid yet neglected house looked like 13 years ago. 

And now we've hired a local contractor, Scott Bookwalter of Maple Leaf Construction to rebuild our porch.  What was wrong with it?  The foundation was cracked, it sloped towards the house, the posts were rotted, the stairs were the wrong ratio and it was looking bad, bad, bad.  This was a small yet big job because it was going to involve rebuilding the foundation and taking out the old brick and cement work and pouring a lot of cement.  The roof part above the porch was just fine and that would need to be supported. 

This is what it looked like before:  click link

And here is what is going on now.  It is so exciting to come home from work to see what has happened during the day.  It's like having house elves working hard! 

The portion above the porch is supported and the walls and posts are down.  Max the neighbor cat is visiting. 

All the cement is gone. 

The form for cement work is built.  This will be the first cement pour. 

Stay tuned! 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A getaway weekend with extra bonus summer!

We finally made it over the pass and into Eastern Washington.  Ok, we didn't go too far but it was still far enough to see the dramatic difference in weather and landscape.  Dry and warm and perfect for growing apricots, cherries, applies and wine grapes!

Chelanman is a multi-sport event with many options for triathletes and runners to do a very fine event.  We went over with a group of coach Lesley athletes and had such a great time.  We set out from Seattle and it was cold and almost drizzly.  As soon as we hit Snoqualmie Pass, the clouds parted and it was sunny.  Soon it got pretty hot.  what a change.

Chelan is about a three hour drive from Seattle over the cascades.  Lake Chelan (Chelan is the town sitting at the south end) is a 55 mile narrow lake.  The southern end is accessible by roads but the north end is only reached by a ferry.  It reminds me a lot of Albuquerque but with a huge lake!  Dry and warm and windy.

I'd originally planned on doing the half marathon run portion of a half iron as a relay.  But at the last minute, we could not switch the registration from an individual bib to a relay.  No worries.  I'm in physical therapy for the hip and not supposed to run longer distances right now.  And Chelan was going to be hot so I was happy to switch to the 10k run only.

Coach lesley and group had a number of condos rented and we had a group dinner before turning in early for bed.  Those triathletes had a very long day ahead of them!  It was pretty interesting to see all the prep work which has to go into doing a triathlon.  Bike check, body marking, setting up fueling, bib, etc, etc.  Truthfully, it just confirmed that I'm not all that interested in doing a triathlon for a lot of different reasons.

That does NOT mean I wasn't so impressed and inspired by what I saw this weekend.  There were a lot of people who were doing their first time at the distance.  It was a huge deal to see their accomplishments and I'm really glad I got to see that.

My run?  Did I mention it was hot?  The course is an out and back on a rather rolling course.  Exposed and it was into a strong breeze on the way out.  With the heat, I planned on a slower pace but the heat still got to me even with that.  It was pretty brutal for me and I have no idea how people in most of the rest of the country (slomo!) deal with it.  Typically for a 10k, I wouldn't take any water.  By mile 2, I was ready for some and on the way back was asking for a spray down from the water guns they had along the course.  I felt shivery and ill and did a mix of run/walk the last couple of miles.  Tough run!

Surprisingly I still ended up 3rd in my age group and got a very cute little mug.  I ran well enough evidently!  K and I hung out at the event to cheer for everyone.  And then went off for a little wine tasting.  yes, this is wine country!  We happened to pick a winery which had it's tasting cafe within view of mile 10 of the half marathon.  So I'd sip and then spot another coach lesley athelete coming along and dash down to the road to cheer. It was great!

K tired an open water swim in the lake the next day even though it was even windier (white caps) on the lake and I went for an easy jog around the town.  Chelan is a nice place to visit.  We really look forward to going back with our bikes!  I'd love to do some trail running in the area and we only hit two wineries so lots of options there.

And we stocked up on cherries and apricots on the drive home!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer is coming!

At least that's what they keep saying.  Sheesh.  Typically it warms up to summer temps in the week after July 4th but generally it is more mild than it has been.  The highs for the day has barely been into the 60's lately.

BUT that is good for all the various things going on around the house as if it gets too hot, it gets hard to work on various projects. 

It's the last room in the house which needs work.  Originally it was the garage and had cool swing out big doors.  AT some point the garage was converted to a room and stairs from the kitchen down (half level) to driveway level and stairs from the room to the basement were added (access to the basement used to be via stairs in the back of the kitchen).  We've always called it the AAK (pronounced awk) which stands for the Awkward Addition off the kitchen.

There's no heat in that room and it was dingy and dreary with no lights.  It used to have single pane sliding doors and windows and was frozen in the winter, broiling in the summer.  Over the years the doors, the stairs, the windows and even the walls have been replaced.  Structurally it is much better shape than when we first moved in.  It's basically a large mudroom which we use as a staging area for projects, bike storage etc.  Time to make the room more useful and deal with the rat problem.

yes, rats.  We've had rats in the attic so finally last week we were able to put the last bits of soffit up to close off the attic.  Are the rats still getting in?  We can hear them but we can't tell if they are still getting in and out.  They seem to understand that the trap baited with peanut butter is not a good thing and have stayed away.  But at some point they were using the attic above the AAK as a parade route and the results were not good.   All the drywall and insulation had to come out.  K can tell horror stories of removing that drywall.  I, fortunately, was at work! 

It's all cleaned out.  K installed ceiling lights and rewired some of the switches controlling lights and outlets and is working on hanging drywall.  Wow.  This room will always be a utility type room but now it won't be hideous!  I can't wait.

We are still waiting for the contractor to contact us about getting our porch project on his schedule.  And really there is no hurry.  To be ready for his work, two large shrubs had to come out.  I managed to get out the last stump this afternoon after much digging and cursing and jumping up and down on the stump.  I honestly didn't think I'd be able to get it but persistence payed off. The Kalmia is out!  And now I wonder how it was even alive.  Poor thing was totally root bound and wedged too close to the house.  It makes me think it wouldn't have lasted much longer. 

And running?  After the hip blow up last weekend, I've just been keeping it short per the physical therapist's recommendations.  I also got out on my bike again as shoulder is feeling better.  I'm very encouraged by the PT assessment which pretty much confirmed what I'd thought.  Something is off with the hip and everything else has to compensate.

What's off with the hip?  Well, it's complicated and probably a result of an old injury (say 15 years ago).  Hip, rib area and upper shoulder are all locked into place and don't really move like they should.  It's not a traditional PT technique and honestly feels a bit like some sort of voodoo.  But if it works, who cares!  It was a pretty interesting appointment and i came out feeling like I could walk like a normal person.  And really, I hadn't noticed that my walk was affected but now I can feel that it was.

All indications are that this will be a pretty quick fix of lots of little things which are off but nothing is seriously wrong.  Fantastic!  I told the therapist that I'd been waiting for him to show up in my life for years!  He laughed at that and said I'd been a lot more patient with the injury than he would've been.  I guess that means that I managed it well enough so that i could continue running well at some level. 

It was good enough for a fun trail run exploring a trail that I haven't been on too much.  RPD and I started at Central Park in Issaquah and headed towards Grand Ridge Trail.  We had fun tromping through many nettles and deciding that the Mitchell Hill Connector Trail wasn't really passable right now.  My legs are still stinging from nettles!  There had been some large trees down that crews were working on clearing.  I would've taken some of the wood if I could K!