Summer Construction

Our construction is moving right along between our trips out of town and our action-packed kid schedules.  Dad and Uncle Rick hung the gorgeous doors on the art studio this last week.  You have to stand back to the curb to truly appreciate the beauty of the design and the wood.  They are striking!  I had joked that now I would need to improve our front door as anything looks shabby compared to the studio doors.  That is seeming less and less like a joke.IMG_0651
Dad also brought in the one-woman (or man I guess—-they can come in too), door for the studio.  This is the door coming off the back porch.  It is painstakingly carved by hand and includes a channel where I will mount my hand-built tiles.  It is going to look a little empty for awhile though.  I have no kiln as of yet and haven’t even made the tiles.IMG_0652

I am super excited about the” barn” fixtures for the studio.  Back in October, my mom bought two of these for me from our old high school.  Reproductions of this style are hot right now, so I was pretty stoked about getting a fixture that elsewhere would be $400.

IMG_0653Someone recently asked me how my yard looked….. sadly, it looks really atrocious.  It was not so long ago that I hosted a wedding shower tea party in my backyard.  It looked lovely then.  Now it is trampled and devoid of grass, full of building supplies and construction debris.  I haven’t spent much time trying to preserve it because I am afraid I might plant something only to have a pile of lumber put on top of it.  How about I put a tea table in the middle of that dirt pile?  Sigh.IMG_0654Things are moving right along.  Here’s hoping that I have some grass on my lawn by October!

Newest Addition Pictures

Some people find this interesting, so I am going to keep on posting pictures of the (minuscule) work completed on the addition.


The front is looking pretty good. We’re waiting on two massive doors that my father is making. They look lovely so far, but won’t be installed until more of the messy work is done.


This side of the studio is really going to need some serious landscaping. Ideas? I am picturing some big fern and shade-loving blue-green hostas.


Here is the view from the back yard. Sauna is on the right and our kitchen is on the left. That back door will go into the art studio space. No deck yet, but that is coming soon!

Phew! That’s Better!

So, I do learn things in my life (every now and then), and I am capable of admitting that I was wrong (sometimes).  This week I learned that I really need to trust my dad a whole lot more.  As the eyebrow roof went on and the back walkway was framed with lovely beams, it became apparent that our remodel is going to look AWESOME.  How could I have worried that my dad would make my house ugly?  Sheesh!

The front of the house looks a lot more in scale with the eyebrow roof.  It is funny how it looks a bit wonky to the eye because the weather sheathing isn’t straight.  Don’t worry folks!  The roof is straight.  The big opening will have two huge carved doors.  Can’t wait for that!


I was pleased that I was able to sink a glazed tile in the entryway before the concrete dried.  It was a small victory that made the slab more mine.

This is a view looking into the studio (standing in the front door opening).  From here you can see storage under our stair and where we intend to hang bikes.  The kiln will go in the left hand corner (not visible).  The back door is going to the back deck and the kitchen entrance to our house.IMG_0312

Here is the view back from the backyard.  You can see the stairs up to the sun deck and the sauna off to the right.  I am really looking forward to the back covered deck area.  It is sort of a pass-through area, but I imagine that I will spend a lot of time there during the rainy weather.  I have to put myself in time-out sometimes, so it will be excellent to be able to still the rage within without being rained on.

Yes, the stairs do look like a massive slide right now.  I assure you that they will eventually be stairs.  Right now we just have the water-proofing membrane.

Funny story— last weekend I climbed up here barefoot (using chimney rock-climbing techniques).  Once on top, I saw some small pools of water and started pushing them around to see if the deck really would drain down the “slide”.  Only then I realized that I had made my surface completely impassable, and to try to go back down the slide would mean a broken neck.  I was trapped upstairs and had to knock on the upstairs window to get back in the house.IMG_0317

This area looks sooooooo pretty!  I am going to find some pretty lights for it too.IMG_0318

But back upstairs—here is the view towards the front street.IMG_0320

And here is the view back towards our house.  Just think, I will be able to clean that sky light now!IMG_0322

Things are moving right along around here.  Round about July or August, we expect to have a giant party to celebrate our new addition…..not so ugly after all!


We’ve been joking a bit around here about our construction being really quite ugly.  We know it will be lovely eventually, but as it is two stories (and yet not OBVIOUSLY two stories), it looks over-sized and sort of terrible right now.  You see, the top is actually a deck and you are seeing the railing on top.  Right now it just looks like a big box store though….sort of like a COSTCO or something.  My architect (yeah, my Dad!), laughed about how homely his child was too.  I appreciated how he said that we have to believe in the design and wait and see.  The drawings look great, so we have to trust that it will all work out in the end.  For now, it is ugly though.

IMG_0188A whole lot has gotten done this week.  The good weather brought action!

Here is the inside of the studio area, looking towards the door that will lead to our back deck.  I think my kiln will go in the left hand corner; a big work table in the middle, and bike storage under the stairs (the ladder right now) to the right.

IMG_0189 From this view, you are looking up the soon-to-be stairs.  It’s pretty fun being up on top of the sun deck looking out at the neighborhood!

IMG_0190 And what is this?  It’s the sauna!  Yes indeed, Brad and I figured that we are bound to be Oregonians for life, and that means coming up with a suitable way to cope with the ages-long winter.  You can’t run off to Mexico constantly, so you need to come up with a way to warm your bones.   This deck off the kitchen is going to be super nice too.  I imagine sitting here meditating when it rains…. which you know, it sometimes does.IMG_0191I’ll be sure to post new pictures this week, because truth-be-told, these are old already.  Onward!

A Stage!

foundationWhat should we perform here?

Nothing to See Here

There really is nothing to see with our new construction.  The rain has put a damp halt to the work and now our hole is slowly filling with water.  The relatively dry day today did little to reduce the size of our own swimming pool.

In other news, I broke the camera by taking it on the beach on Monday and trying to photograph our brie roast.  It was wonderful (the roasting cheese, not breaking the camera), but now I have nothing to show for it nor any way to show you what is happening on our house.  You are just going to have to imagine a huge hole slowly filling with water…….


No Cohesion Here


I only prepare food if there is a lovely bouquet on the table…. one must have standards.

There is no cohesive theme to be made out of today’s post.  I’m not in a particularly cohesive mood truly.  I take off with the kids for Spring break today, so I am just sort of racing around doing those dumb things that shouldn’t be pressing tasks but become so when you are out of your home for 6 days.  I HAD to make sauerkraut.  Either make it or face rotten cabbage upon our return.  I tossed in some golden beets, so I am excited about what that might be like.

I also had to clean out the refrigerator.  Or rather, I didn’t have to, but if I didn’t leave it wiped down now, I would surely regret things later.

Other news besides kitchen regrets to avoid:  the foundation is looking, well, like you could actually build something on it.  It is nice to see the footprint of our studio.  My first concern when Dad first started designs was that the addition not look weirdly out of scale with the house.  I didn’t want it too large.  Our house is super big in terms of square feet, but many of those square feet go up (or down), so the house retains a “small farmhouse” charm.  I should have trusted him more.  It is most likely going to be perfect.  Of course, now I have moved on to worrying that it might be too small!  Where will I put all my shit?

IMG_8178And this lovely little thing?  It’s our SAUNA!  Isn’t our house going to be awesome?IMG_8177I’m pretty pleased with the work getting done around here.  I DO wonder why dudes working on the foundation can’t seem to pick up their own nails?  Here is what Zephyr gathered up for me for the very economical wage of $2.  I should suggest that they pick up their own nails or pay my minion!

Where is all this dirt coming from?

This might be boring to many of you.  Who really wants to see a blow-by-blow construction project?  Unless it is your blow-by-blow project of course.  This one is mine (all mine!), and as I want to keep my Dad well in the loop and able to correct anything that the contractor might get wrong, I have got to post all these up-to-the-minute pictures.  Those of you who are not construction-minded, forgive me.  This is fun to me.

Old houses.  Old foundations.  This house has a character that I love to interact with.  As things are worked on, her bones are exposed.   Not often are there clues for what life was like 108 years ago, but one can sometimes guess at little things.  I guess this foundation would have been dug with a horse (or mule) and by hand.  The walls were poured on top of gravel.  The whole street sat much lower than it does now and there was a drive way that was very steep and wound around the back of the house (so a very low grade).  Maybe the drive way went to the barn that I saw on historical records.  That would be cool.

But yes, there is dirt all over the house.  I HAVE identified where it is coming from.
IMG_8159It is really hard to keep the kids out of the pit.  You never know how much you use your little chunk of land until it is gone (or at least covered in dirt and piles of construction supplies).  It is nearly impossible to get our bikes out these days, and what with Inez being all on fire for biking constantly, we need better access.

And the number of shoes that I have washed over and over and over again.  I took these pictures during a rare dry moment, but largely this week has been pouring down rain on our mud pit.  The dirt is everywhere.  Really.

IMG_8163 IMG_8165But I am not really complaining.  My feeling is that things are really going to speed up when we are out of excavation mode and into framing.  Then every day will be truly exciting.  We’ll come home and say, “What happened here today?”, and the answer will be something more than “a bunch of mud was moved around, but don’t worry, you’ll see it again in your house!”.

Construction Start!

As many of you close to us know, it has been about 3 years that we have talked about building some sort of structure onto our house.  The plan started simply; we needed somewhere to store bikes.  Our wretchedly ugly shed out back of our house has degraded in the weather to the point of being both ugly and non-functioning.  That won’t do.  My very expensive, high tech bike panniers are often full of water in the morning, even though they are technically under cover.  My parents bought a larger kiln for me, but I don’t have the proper amperage to plug it in.  Our basement work space, (if 4 people were not currently living there), is great for fabric, but questionable for the other art that we do—- glass and ceramics.  We have tools in multiple places in the house.  In general, we need some storage around here!

My dad made great plans for us: a studio art space with a small sink, tool storage, and room for the 7 bikes of the household.  There is access to the studio off the back deck, so there will be a quiet (I imagine), covered place to sit during the rain for meditation or “mommy’s little time-outs”.  Also on the back deck is a sauna that will help us get through the winter without running away to Mexico every February.  Alongside the back kitchen door will be stairs going up to a sun deck on the top of the studio.  This is so that we will have somewhere to sit and drink beer while looking down on all the neighbors.  No, I’m kidding.  The neighbors will come up and drink beer with me (I hope).

I am going to skip talking about the City of Portland Development Services.  I have this photo somewhere of a clock on the wall of the permits building.  It represents all the frustrating HOURS that I spent trying to get permits, sitting, waiting, trying to figure out how to please these people and being asked to do I’m not sure what.  Then I paid for it all too.  I don’t want to sound like a libertarian.  I believe in doing my part for my community, which includes building proper structures that don’t fall down or kill people or pollute the neighborhood.  One has only to look at pictures of Haiti after an earthquake to see the sense in having some sort of building oversight.  And when it is time to pay my taxes for the privileges that I reap being an Oregonian and American, I am happy to do that.  But the whole process is set up for contractors and builders instead of for normal citizens.  Even though it is a service for us, the citizens, there has been little effort on the part of the bureaucrats to speak our language and help us do the things that the city requires of us.  “Sheer wall”, my ass.  Is that a wall you can look through?

My point is, that after two years of back and forth and struggle, I hired an engineer and finally got the permits.  Okay, enough of that.

Construction actually started today.  First off, I cut the branches off what I affectionately call the “Mugwump”.  It is a sort of ugly shrub willow that has grown slightly tree-like.  It is constantly branching off into the sidewalk and requiring trimming which makes it uglier rather than more attractive.  I’m sad to see it go because it was a good shady place for kids to play, but besides that, it was just a nuisance.



Oh, goodbye Mugwump!  One fell scoop of the excavator and the mugwump came out by the roots.IMG_8041

Here is a view of the side yard before the excavator tore in.


Ahhh bamboo!  This damn bamboo was pretty and made a great screen between our somewhat obnoxiously messy neighbors and us, but it was constantly encroaching on the walkway.  The stuff really does grow amazingly.  I wish that the guy ripped more though as I suspect there are a lot of roots in there and I will see the bamboo again.IMG_8047

It is freaky to see a machine rip part of your house away, but wow— effective.  The guy driving this thing is not much for communication.  It is hard to get a spark out of him (maybe he is a zombie?), but he is really very good with the arm of this machine.  I was impressed.

IMG_8059No more porch.

IMG_8070And a huge hole in the backyard.  Actually, my whole backyard is a mud pit now.  Oh well.  The lawn was sort of uneven anyway.  Maybe we can make some improvements when this is all done.

I will continue to update all this week.  The dirt is definitely the most exciting thing going on around here.

Oh, I need to add another category.  Construction.  Destruction?