June 13, 2008—Friday the 13th brings several problems and several successes

Jim and I arrived at the property to find that the gate was being worked on by our gate contractor Keith Soreng. Part of the fence next to the gate was down and he was on the phone with tech support for the gate controller.

I had contacted him about reprogramming the gate and in preparation for our meeting, he had tested it via phone and been unable to get through. The gate controller is hooked up to its own telephone line so you can program it via modem from a remote computer. It also has a directory accessible from the entry panel and will telephone any number programmed in. This is so a visitor can call the house to get access.

Keith told me that the fence had been installed incorrectly and had pulled one of the gate posts out of true so the magnetic gate lock didn’t work properly. He had his assistant busy rebuilding that section of the fence and Kai told me that they had poured a new concrete base for the gate post the day before.

We have had problems with the controller since we bought it but Keith has been so responsive in dealing with every issue. Plus, we couldn’t test it properly until the phone line was installed. Now that we have it connected to a phone, we have determined that it has a bad motherboard which will be replaced under the warranty. Furthermore, Keith refused to charge us for the fence repairs. Every contractor should be so wonderful.

The plasterers were there preparing for the color coat, to be applied sometime next week.

About the time I was taking these pictures, Jim noticed that the water pressure was very low in the cottage. I went to look at the float on the water tank and the indicator was very close to the top of the tank which means that the tank was almost empty. I then looked in the shed to see if the pump circuits were on, and they were, so I called the well company.

The upshot is, we discovered is that our upper well is not currently hooked up to electricity! Somehow, during the course of building, the wires were cut and removed. We are all wracking our brains trying to figure out how this happened, but it is still a mystery.

Needless to say, I spent the day in a semi-panic over the state of our water. When you run your own infrastructure, life is a lot more complicated!

This is a close-up of the picture above, showing the radio the plasterers had perched on one of the window shade brackets blasting away “Norteño” (Mexican music), which for some reason, I found very amusing. Often, we have dueling radios in the house with Norteño in one wing, Country & Western in another wing and 70’s & 80’s rock outside.

The plasterers also put the first coat on the fireplace and the range hood. They spent quite a while carefully measuring and drawing the profile of the fireplace on the underside of the mantle. There were 6 or 7 guys working on the measuring and putting up the wire base for the plaster and I was consulted several times.

Sadly, I was too upset by the well problems to remember to take photos of that process. But here are the master plasterers putting the finishing touches on the first coat.

After the coat had a chance to dry, they took the blue tape off the wall. We put the foam chimney up to see how we liked it and we all hate it. It looks way too small—totally out of scale—and the hip looks too fussy.

We now think we will do a tapered half-round that follows the line of the lower profile, but we will dummy it up first and see. Having this foam was a huge help.

The fireplace, itself, looks SO much better, they did a lovely job on the plaster. It will get one more coat with color, which will be hard-troweled to a shiny, smooth finish, then waxed to seal it.

Doesn’t the wall paint color look terrific this time of day?

Here is the kitchen, shot from the family room. The range hood has been plastered and the cabinets are coming together beautifully. The hutch at the end of the island, which separates the kitchen proper from the family room, looks gorgeous. It is starting to seem like two separate spaces instead of one huge room now that the cabinets are going in.

The plaster was just applied to the hood part of the range hood, but the color coat will also be applied to the flue. I wanted the hood and flue to be integral and thought that if the flue was the same color as the walls, the hood would look like it was levitating. (I double checked with the plasterers to make sure they were going to coat the flue and they are.)

I am thinking of painting a design on the hood before they put the sealer wax coat on it. I have worked something up and need to talk to Joe Gaiton, the contractor, to find out what kind of paints I should use. Maybe I will get to do a fresco!

The little cabinet for the pass-through has been installed. The reason that there are no panels in the doors is that we are putting pressed tin panels in instead of wood. These panels were ordered through a company in New Mexico, and they are being custom-made to size. It sounds terribly expensive, but they were really quite reasonable—probably less than the fancy oak veneer plywood used for the rest of the door panels.

The tin comes in various finishes, shiny and pewter. The pewter finish is really kind of yellowy-tan and I thought it looked better than the shiny. Now I am concerned that it will be too yellow and will look weird with the stainless steel appliances—we will just have to wait and see.

Kai set the sinks into the undercounter. The granite fabricators plan to come on Tuesday and template the counters. Next Wednesday, I will go to their shop and make sure that the parts of the stone I like best show.

Both sinks, the main kitchen sink and the prep sink—which you see a bit of on the right—are deep, stainless, undermounted sinks. We wanted to be able to get my 2 1/2 gallon copper stock pot washed without having to heft it around like we do now. I agonized over these sinks and bought them from photos on the internet, but they look great and hopefully will perform as required.

Here is a closer view of the hutch. The bookshelf on this end will hold cookbooks—hopefully all of them—and even more hopefully won’t look too junky, since Jim and I both have the habit of stuffing magazines and newspaper pages with recipes into the cookbook shelves. We will have to get something to put them in and disguise our bad habit now that we will be living so grandly!

The empty box a little further down will house a wine refrigerator purchased at Costco. We don’t need much room for wine but Jim has a lot of wine samples and needs a place for them.

For more from Friday the 13th, click here  
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