Sunday, May 31, 2009

Meal No. 4: Hamburger Supreme

Meal No. 4: Hamburger Supreme. Had to be something that was quick to whip up, because a crew of us (Chris, Shane, Beau, Lindsey, Standish, Amy, and I) caught Sam Raimi's "Drag Me to Hell" this evening, and then four of us ended up in the new kitchen eating nook for that meal of comfort food afterwards. Pretty darned good. Table talk centered on all things Dr. Who, Star Trek, and a host of other shows I've seen or know little of, but it was a good time.

"Hamburger Supreme," from the late Mrs. John T. (Glynn) Johnson of Buies Creek, North Carolina, via Janice Jones Bodenhamer.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Night Special

It was a good day today in the Roediger House. Got to sleep in, rather late, and got up in time to welcome in Pete and his wife Esther and their boy Jake, stopping by on their way to Lowe's but also so that Pete could take care of a small leak from the powder room toilet.

Tonight was officially the third cooked meal in the new kitchen: pork tenderloin medallions in a dijon mushroom cream sauce, with lima beans and company mashed potatoes, and a Hawaiian bread loaf in the bread machine. Still had some key lime pie on hand, which made a refreshing dessert. You should've been here.

The way the bay is lit at night, with the recessed exterior cans that Pete wanted to make sure we included, is pretty impressive. Thought you should see a couple of those shots:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Eveningtide in the Kitchen Space

I'll just have to hope that this picture gives some sense of how warm and inviting the new kitchen is. I'm loving it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pipe Down! More Plumbing Updates

Imagine that: I seem to be under the impression the people want to know what's happening with the plumbing. Well, take a gander first of all at the small but serviceable new powder room, with its vessel sink:

This picture shows the vessel sink in place but not yet secured. It was necessary to have the BloomDay Granite folks recut the countertop to get that sink to sit down a bit it's really just right and looks rather spiffy.

Progress has also been made with the main upstairs bathroom, often referred to as the "landing bathroom" because one must access it from the landing where the stairs take a turn, so it is not quite at 2nd floor level. A primary feature of it, and perhaps the reason for the whole design of that space, is the pedestal tub that was part of the original house. Inside it's in pretty good shape, but the exterior was pretty rough looking. Pete's guys sanded it down, cleaned it up, and repainted it, which allowed it finally to be positioned in the bathroom and faucet fixtures attached. That job is still not quite completed--the plumbers will have to come back to finish it up--but it's looking good.

And apparently Pete was happy to see it in place, too:

We're In Hot Water Now

When the house had a small kitchen, a half-bath for the master, and really only one working shower, it didn't require a heavy-duty hot water heater. The one that was in the house when I bought it pooped out about three years ago and its replacement was only a 40-gallon capacity and was also starting to act up. With the addition, my architect had already planned for an electric hot water heater to service the three upstairs bathrooms. But now the downstairs plumbing needs had grown immensely: a kitchen with two sinks, a dishwasher, a more usable laundry room, a powder room, and a master bath with three shower heads and an immense new soaking tub. So it was necessary to upgrade, seriously, the hot water heater. And because of venting issues, it was best to go with a 75-gallon gas hot water heater with a power vent, so it got pricey fast.

But man-o-man, is the water now wonderfully hot. Although this transition was not without a hitch: there was a problem with the power vent and so the unit would not cook, meaning the first morning it was online, the water was a sultry 90 degrees, instead of the 120 I'd been looking forward to. But that's all taken care of and the water is nice. C'mon in.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Second Meal

What a gorgeous kitchen! And I'm feeling a bit gushy about how cool it is to finally have it up and running and to get back to cooking. So tonight was another great meal: 'Bama Chicken, Caesar salad, Brussels sprouts, warmed up heartland sunflower bread, and more crisp white wine on the side.

It was too filling a meal to go for more key lime pie, so that has been left for another time. Instead, you might say dessert was composed of two helpings of episodes from the first season of Star Trek.

Huge downpour tonight after dinner, by the way. Gave me a chance to survey how the gutters and drainage system are doing. Looks like we'll need to bolster the water shields in a couple of corners, and I've got a stopped up drain at the southwest corner of the house to take care of.

It's almost 11:30 pm and drinks out at Rec Billiards will be commencing momentarily, as soon as the crew gets off from 6th & Vine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The First Meal

Since the crux of this whole project was really the kitchen, this evening marks a very, very special step in the project: I cooked the first meal in the new culinary palace. This afternoon gave me a chance to move a lot of the foodstuffs from the
"General Store" of the temporary kitchen in the dining room. It also helped that the new and much bigger hot water heater has been installed and is up and running (there'll be another blog entry on that later). It was a fantastic dinner of Not-So-Cajun Chicken, Brussels sprouts, Caesar salad, homemade hearty sunflower bread, and a crisp cool glass of Riesling. After a while, dessert will be had: some freshly-made key lime pie.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

First Movie Night Tonight

To help celebrate Beau Ward's birthday, tonight will be the opening screening of the 3rd Season of the Roediger House Theatre Starry Night Cinema. This evening's film will be The Transporter. It's awesome to see the spring and summer roll around, because this great large parking area beside the house is perfect for outdoor movie nights. While last year had slim pickings (only three movie nights total), the first year was really awesome, with probably nine or ten showings. My original website for the house, the static, has shots from that first summer of movie nights, with the screen and all.

Post-Movie Night Update [added Tue 05-26-09]:
The screen was up, the speakers taken outside, the projector warming up, the computer ready to play the movie...and the rains came. So the opening screening in the 3rd Season of Starry Night Cinema has been postponed. But there was a great, great turn-out, with lots of awesome people. And about half of them had not seen what was going on with the house, so there were quite a few tours given, which was great fun. Guest list included Ray, Shane, Beau, Stacey, Michelle "Moves," Jeremy & Connie & Emma and a couple of their friends, Kristin, Sarah, Chris & Kathleen, Josh, Danny, Ashley, Stephanie, Standish, Amy, Kerri & Corey, Jaime & Brian & Sammy, Jen & Jen, Bradley, Trevor, and Monica & Lisa. We all ended up with our lawn chairs up on the porch, hanging out and talking and eating cookies and popcorn and drinking. Then Monica brought in some tasty ribs and her award-winning mac-n-cheese, and many of us feasted. All in all, a pretty good alternative to the rained-out flick.

Memorial Day Events

Two items of note so far this weekend: I've now made my first batch of cookies in the new kitchen and with the new double oven.

And the table and chairs for the eating bay nook in the kitchen arrived this afternoon. So did the dining room table and eight of the chairs, but there's a lot of work to be done before I can set up the dining room.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pre-Wolverine Grilling

The good spring weather of early May was a good excuse to do a bit of pre-movie grilling on the front porch. Here are shots of our happy gathering.

Additional Visitations

A couple more visits and tours of the house, of late. My oldest friend in the world, Jay Brown, who grew up across the street from me in Buies Creek and whom I've known since he was in his mother's womb, stayed over one night. Unfortunately, the reason for his visit to Winston-Salem was his ailing grandmother, who did pass away earlier this week. But they had a great last visit with one another.

The other visitor was my UVA co-conspirator and fellow PhD student in Social Studies back in the late 90s: Ken Watson. He's also a JD, which means he knows a lot about a little and is paid to win any argument with you over it.

Happy Rails to You

Another finishing touch as we wind things up: putting up new railings on the exposed parts of each end of the wrap-around porch. On the south side, where you come up from the parking area, the whole porch was redone; on the north side, the old rails were in bad shape and weren't really designed for being out in the open. Kevin and Larry knocked these out Friday. We'll let the wood cure a bit longer, and then Pete is hoping to get some solid-color stain to match the painting of the other rails, as it will hold up better than regular paint. Since there needs to be enough space coming up the steps from the parking area, putting a brick peer to match the other side of the house was not an option, and Pete was not going to be happy unless he was certain that the end post was solid, sturdy, and immovable. They bolted a steel post and then built the wood casing around it, and that puppy don't budge a bit. They also did a nice job of capping off that end post.

Because we had rain on and off Friday, the porch was a perfect place for them to set up their equipment to work, and it turned into quite a busy woodshop:

Gutter Snipes

More evidence that we're getting to the finishing touches: gutters were installed on the addition on Friday, and we've already had our first rain test of them. It wasn't a lot of rain--not a gully-washer, by any means--but enough to see that water channels into them and down the downspouts and out to where the water must go. Since it was a night-time rain, I already find myself wishing for a slight change, but I'll live with it: there's a downspout right outside my bedroom window, and the dripping is noisy. This also puts water out where we've had problems with leaking in the old foundation into the cellar, so we probably should have re-thought it. Oh well. If it becomes enough of a problem, I'll tackle it later. I'm glad they're up and that they have a leaf-guard system on them; we'll see how they perform given that they're not what was originally promised. I think they may have missed sealing one corner joint because there's dripping from it up against the fascia board, but that'll be easy to solve. Too bad it's on the upper roof, though! Somebody'll be climbing up mighty high.

Here's an updated shot of the house, looking up from the parking area on the south side of the property:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Step Up the Updates

OK, fell off the job there a bit and neglected to bring the following developments to your attention. First off, steps have been built to the two exterior doors in the kitchen complex: the one from the parking area that comes into the back hallway outside the laundry room; and the "courtyard" door that's beside the fireplace at the eating nook. The pair from James Masonry knocked these out pretty quickly, so now there's no more leaping up into the house when I come home with groceries.

Tilework is mostly completed in all bath areas, which means that there are now three usable showers (although I've not gotten the shower doors yet). The tub/shower in one guest room is also workable, but there will be no waterworks in there till there's a shower door, for sure. The second hot water heater has not been installed yet, so the hot water is only temporarily routed to those upstairs showers. Eventually, they'll run only off the second hot water heater. Now, the dilemma with the upstairs showers is: either the showerheads are lowsy or the water pressure is. The spray just sort of trickles out, so that's very unsatisfactory. The vanity cabinets for the powder room and two back guest bathrooms came in last week, as well as the cabinets for the laundry room.

All is not completely rosy, though. The spring weather and rains have brought a deluge of ants, coming in beside the fireplace and tracking along the counter over to the kitchen sink area. I've gone aggressive in trying to get rid of them and am enjoying watching them feast on the poison peanut butter traps that (supposedly) they take back to their antholes and wipe out everybody. I hope so. The ant battalions are all the more surprising given that Wilson Pest Defense just came and treated the outside on Wednesday. I'm pretty sure their service is a huge waste of money.

Speaking of deluges, we've sure had a heavy downpour this afternoon, and it highlights a major shortcoming of the new retaining wall. For some reason, it was built to stop about 2 feet short of the existing retaining wall, so I had to jump out there in the downpour and lightning to quickly build a berm to stop the run-off from the neighboring parking lots from washing out the foundation on the north side of the house.

And speaking of water, there's some left standing in the master shower instead of properly draining away. Pete had his guys try to alleviate the pooling problem last week, but it is not resolved, and that's unfortunate.

I've started putting up towel rods and such, but I'm kind of slow at this. I've got to order the countertops for the three vanities that just came in. And I'm still completely paralytically overwhelmed by the cleaning that needs to be done. This has made me hesitant about taking full occupation of the kitchen yet, even though it's move-in ready...there's still just too much dust and grime and yuck settling everywhere.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We've Got Water 'Round the Chimney Again

The General Contractor, Peter LaRoque of LaRoque Construction of Mocksville, NC, was here to see about connecting the supply lines to the pedestal tub in the upstairs landing bathroom. When he decided to tighten up the toilet tank while he was here, he got the surprising result of a broken bowl. That paled in comparison to my pointing out to him that the flashing around the chimney was still leaking--we've had a heckuva lot of rain this week. Turns out that the counterflashing was installed (that was the reason it had leaked when we had that weird March snowfall) but it had not been sealed. We'll be hoping that the sheetrock isn't compromised, of course, but he quickly said he'll replace it if so.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sign of the End Times

Here's more proof that we're almost done with the project: the lime-green porta-potty was picked up Friday. Bye-bye.

The Greener Grass

One of the ways I celebrated Valentine's Day was to finally take my lawn mower to a local neighborhood small engine repair shop for servicing. I'd had it since 2003 and I'm not the best caretaker of things like that...although it's easier to take care of those sorts of things since I bought a truck last summer. I also realized that my storage shed (where my mower was kept) would be coming down, too, so why not get that mower out of the way for a bit?

I'd passed a quaint small engine repair place on Ebert Street dozens of times and figured I'd give it a go. I dropped off the mower, the guy wrote down my information, and off I went. Not much to it; it's one of those places where the relationship is fleeting but by god it's built on trust. He got my name and number and I gave a stranger my lawn mower.

Well, spring has sprung, as they say, and the weather's warmer and the rains have come and the birds are singing, and boy! has the grass grown. Seemed I'd better head back over to that trusty little local small engine repair place and pick up my mower. I swung by there last week with the truck. But there was no mower. There was no paperwork on it. Finally, the guy found my record in his computer and said my mower was picked up less than two weeks after I'd dropped it off. That means that somebody paid $47 and walked away with a mower that did not belong to him.

Look: it's my fault I didn't ask for a ticket or claim check or something. I was taken in by the small-town feel of the place. And I'm not saying the repair shop owner is really at fault, either. Was it a clerical error? Was there the coincidence of two Raymond Joneses using his services, and the other RJ liked my mower better than his? Who know? But it does occur to me that a crime was committed by whoever picked up and took my mower, because he absconded with property that did not belong to him.

So Thursday night found me at Sears. I've got a new mower and I cut the grass in the dark. The yard looks much better now, and I'll need to find another small engine repair shop.