Sunday, February 8, 2009

Still Alive

It's been nearly four full months since the last update, and that's not entirely due to my being a lazy procrastinator: there simply hasn't been a whole lot going on, at least not compared to how things were in the summer. This one post will cover the notable projects since October.

Picking up where the last post left off, I should first mention the curtains. After much painful deliberation, Jessica chose the navy blue and white fabric you see in the pictures from the October post. Then, she and my mom worked several days over the course of a few weeks to sew not only the curtains for the huge front window, but also for the smaller window in the back of the living room as well. Quite some time after that, they used what was left of the fabric to sew what I believe is called a balloon curtain for the small window next to the front door.

In the first picture above, you'll also notice the blue pillows on the couch. Jessica picked out some silk for these throw pillows, which my mom made and which we picked up from Ooltewah just last night. Jessica is very pleased with the pillows; they look very nice. We also like our curtains a lot. Thanks for all the help, Mom!

The next project is one that still haunts my dreams. I think the story of the process, fraught with trouble and flirtations with disaster, will be more entertaining to the reader if I first put your mind at ease by telling you that it all turned out okay. And here are a couple pictures as proof:

Yes, a vent hood--and one that, at the insistence of the resident cook/baker, truly vents out to the roof instead of just filtering the air and returning it straight into the kitchen. I suppose it was a classic "All's well that ends well" kind of deal, but even before I started, I knew it was going to be a daunting task. As it turned out, each and every little step along the way had its own set of complications. There are some projects that go just as smoothly as depicted in the simplistically drawn, black-and-white fantasy world of the instruction booklet. This project, however, was steeped in the devilish details of reality which mocked and assaulted me for four days.

Now that I sit trying to actually recount all those details, though, there are only a few that I remember as more than just part of a blur of snags and setbacks. Most of these were due to the fact that all the surrounding stuff--stove, cabinet, crown molding, etc.--was already in place, so it was like doing surgery to cut away what was obstructing and work safely around what was nearby. I hacked away at that section of cabinet for hours with about ten different tools to get everything to fit, and that was just the beginning. It was certainly unsettling having to cut a big hole straight through our brand new roof, and the wiring--

I believe I'm going to end the whining right there and relay just one anecdote that nicely summarizes how things went: When the installation was nearing completion, it came time to hold the vent hood in place and mark the spots on the wall where mounting screws would need to go. I was able to lift the hood into place by myself without too much difficulty, but it would've been tough to hold it there long enough to have Jessica carefully mark the holes, so I found a large Rubbermaid container in the garage that was just the right height that it could be placed on top of the stove so that the vent hood could rest on it and would be in just the right place. So I lifted the hood into place and Jessica slid the container underneath.

So resting on top of our stove was a fleece blanket (which we had spread over it at the beginning of the project to protect the stove from debris), a large, empty plastic container, and a 40-pound vent hood, all carefully positioned to further the efforts of the laughably amateurish installation. While I was marking the four mounting holes, we began to smell something burning. It took us about 10 seconds to figure out what was going on: during the struggle to get the container/vent hood tower built, one of us had bumped one of the knobs controlling the stove eyes. We couldn't see that because the blanket was draped over the stove, but as soon as we realized what it was I held the hood up and jerked the container out of the gap like it was a Jenga block. We pulled the blanket off and turned off the stove, then I lowered the vent hood out of position and set it down on the table. The stove eye had melted a perfectly round hole through our blanket and the bottom of the Rubbermaid container, and the house stunk for quite awhile. It was quite the adrenaline rush.

Again, though, it eventually got done, with some help from Wayne and Sam (Jessica's dad and brother), without too much collateral damage, and it looks nice as long as you don't peer inside the mangled cabinet. (more commas, anyone?)

Jessica worked on the window latches and pulls in the kitchen. They had been painted over many times, so she took them all off and used paint stripper and brass cleaner to get them shiny again. It was a lot of work, but it's a great detail that makes things look more finished.

There aren't really any other major projects in need of reporting. The only other thing that may be worth a mention is our new car:

This picture was taken at Jessica's parents' house.
We sold Jessica's truck last summer, and had been driving my Jeep, which still runs well despite having almost 170,000 miles on it. Most of the time, the one vehicle was sufficient since Jessica and I ride downtown to work together, but there were plenty of times where a second vehicle was needed, and it would certainly become a problem in the summer when Jessica was off work and wouldn't have a car. We searched for awhile and, after some troublesome indecision between two good cars, finally decided upon the one pictured: a 2007 Honda Accord EX-L V6 sedan. We got a really great deal on it, and we absolutely love it. I think Jessica's favorite part is the comfy, inviting leather interior. I like the wheels, brakes, and throttle response the best. :-) I'm confident that Honda will serve us well for years.

I guess that's about it for now. Things on the horizon include redoing the porch columns, getting furniture for the back of the living room and kitchen, and starting on the master bathroom (ugh...). It may be awhile before any of that starts, but I promise not to wait too long to blog about it when it does. Thanks for reading; we're still alive!