The new plumbing was complete. Most of the electrical work is done but they're still sorting out the rat's nest of wiring splices in one of the interior walls.
The day I was there, my contractor, Randy, was putting the new insulation into the floor. The next step is to put the flooring back down and finish the new outside decks.
Once the float rebuild is complete, the next major project is to do the rest of the work to finish off the boatwell. While not expensive compared to the float rebuild, it's going to be dramatic during the demolition. The back wall of the house and roof are going to need to be torn out. (I don't plan to visit much during the demolition phase unless someone writes me a script for some pretty good drugs.)
The garage door will be replaced with three large windows. There are leaks in the roof deck portion of the roof. At Randy's recommendation, they're going to tear out the whole roof deck and expand/rebuild it over the boat well.
Randy also broke it to me that sometime soon I'm going to want to redo the siding and other four windows in the house. The siding and window seams are both shot. That's not going to be a cheap project. Although, on the plus side, it means I can put in more energy efficient windows and pick the exterior colors for my house.
This last project is probably going to wait until I'm up there full-time, however. As long as it gets done before winter, I should be okay.
Just as one last side-note, I was amused to see that Randy and the other workers have switched from cheap beer to Mai Tais as the drink of choice while on the job. I haven't figured out what the electrican drinks, yet.
My apologies for the lapse in entries recently. It was a bit of whirlwind closing down my place in Tucson and getting my possessions that survived The Great Purge to their respective locations in either Oregon or New Mexico. I've calculated that I've driven 3,000 miles in the past 10 days or so, which may explain why I really am not interested in seeing the inside of a car again anytime soon.
The drive to Portland was uneventful. U-Haul definitely builds their vans for comfort and adds lots of idiot-proof signs along the dash about things like parking brakes to save you from yourself. I split the 1,500 mile drive into three days and spent my time OD-ing on audiobooks. It took me a full day to drive through California but, with the orange and mandarin groves being in bloom, it was scenic and smelled divine. Things just got prettier and prettier in terms of scenery once I hit the Oregon border. Oregon is a beautiful state. I am really looking forward to living there.
The movers I booked in Portland through eMove.com didn't have their act quite as together at the ones in Tucson. For starters, they tried to squeak in another move before mine oh-god-early Sunday morning. Then it turned out the woman had seriously underestimated how much stuff she had. We ended up having to push unloading my truck back by several hours.
On the plus side, though, they got done with my U-Haul in just under an hour. Both of the movers were hardcore jocks who literally RAN between the van and the storage unit with loads. And, my, were they pretty to look at. One of them is going off to play college football somewhere in California after the summer. Everything turned out okay in the end. My things are safely locked away in a storage unit two miles from the house.
I checked on progress of construction on my house, spoke with the contractors about the next phase of reconstruction, and then flew home the next day.
I had a week to say goodbye to friends, get rid of the rest of my furniture/art supplies, and to clean and close-up the place I've been renting in Tucson. Then I drove me and my remaining belongings out to stay at Charlie's in New Mexico by way of Laughlin to say goodbye to friends at an event we had this weekend.
The plan is that I will be crashing at Charlie's in Albuquerque until my own place is habitable. My job starts a week from Monday so I have a little downtime, now, to catch my breath. This is a Very Good Thing.
Rumi was profoundly (and LOUDLY) happy to see me. He's still bouncing off walls two days later. Charlie swears the kitten was quiet and well-behaved while I was gone. I remain skeptical of this assertion.
I've been a little lax on entries lately because I'm in full-gear right now coordinating my move. This certainly won't be an award-winning entry, but here's a quick update on what I've been up to...
For starters, I never really got fully unpacked from my move a year ago into the place I currently live in Tucson. I had to finish un-packing to figure out what I wanted to take with me. So I have a bunch of packing materials that aren't reusable and just general junk it's unlikely I'm going to be able to find a home for.
I've got more garbage than my regular bin can handle. Especially since my garbage man is a highly-sensitive old coot who refuses to touch my can if anything has remotely upset its fung shui. I'm lucky if he'll empty thing one week in two and that's when I'm minding my manners and not overloading it.
So I did a little research and discovered I can rent a larger trash receptacle from local Waste Management. What I'm renting is not big enough to be referred to as a "roll-off". It's more like an aspiring roll-off, but it's the same general concept.
I now have a lot more room to toss stuff with impunity. Well, other than feeling guilty that it's going to end up in a landfill, that is. Which is why I'm trying to give away whatever I'm not taking with me, first.
The Albuquerque Run
This is the part where I pulled a Captain Kirk and cheated on the downsizing. Thanks to my boyfriend Charlie's incredibly generous nature--and 3,000+ square foot home, much of which is empty--I am going to be storing my camping and historical reenactment gear with him. I'm am enough of a geek that this constitutes a little under half of all the worldly possessions I intend to keep.
I rented a 10 foot U-Haul for this part of the move and it was roughly 2/3rds full with my lackadaisical packing skills. (It got more efficient the closer I got to the door because I got worried about whether I'd run out of room.)
Last weekend, I drove this stuff out and got it situated at Charlie's. I was a little nervous at first about driving a vehicle that big. Especially without a rear-view mirror. However, the U-Haul actually has a better turn radius than my PT Cruiser and a quite a cushy interior. Equipped with my iPod loaded with books I've been wanting to get to, it really wasn't bad. Well, other than sticker-shock when I filled up at the pump, anyway.
Rumi came with me so that Charlie could cat-sit him for the next two weeks. The kitty was getting too stressed-out with all the packing and I didn't want to risk him being underfoot with student movers. (Not that the U-Haul ride did his nerves any good in the short run.)
As Charlie is the ultimate bachelor with one lone beer and a bunch of dead plants around his house, I make him put Rumi on the webcam every morning so I can confirm my child is still alive and well.
So far it's Charlie who's the worse for wear not the cat. Rumi seems to be amusing himself by doing his "Where the Wild Things Are" celebratory dance on Charlie's stomach at 3 AM every morning.
The Great Giveaway
I have a lot of stuff that's not going with me to either Portland or Albuquerque. I'm probably going to place the higher-priced furniture I don't manage to sell on my own in a consignment shop. However, I've also come up with my own version of Freecyling in bulk--I've invited a bunch of local friends and college students to come by my place on three evenings and take whatever they want from the stuff that's not coming with me.
In other words, I'm having a garage sale where everything is free. All people "pay" is the effort to come take the stuff away. I've got a bunch of craft supplies, camping gear, and old $20 bookshelves I'm hoping to get rid of through this tactic.
The first night of The Great Giveaway is tonight. I'll let you know how it goes.
The Portland Run
Here's the piece of the move that has my mother writing "WORRY!!!" in big red letters on multiple days of her calendar. (That is what she does whenever my brother or I choose to do something she considers woefully imprudent with the bodies she never hesitates to remind us she spent nine months growing. You know--things like shark diving, eating fugu at a questionable establishment, or driving across country as a single woman in a U-Haul.)
Tomorrow, I start driving a 17 foot U-Haul up to Portland with my worldly possessions that will be remaining with me in the floating home.
With all my past moves after the age of 20 I always hired someone to do the packing and transporting. This time, I really needed to do the packing myself because it was my chance to examine every item and decide what to eliminate. I got rid of a lot, but I have a feeling I'm still going to want to go through the same operation again on the other end when I'm unpacking. (Which is not to say I won't also be buying some new smaller-scale furniture when I get there.)
Today, Aaron Brothers' Moving is helping me load everything into the U-Haul. It turns out that the Aaron Brothers are, in fact, actually brothers. Young, polite, well-educated brothers who can intelligently discuss things like Mahler and Strad violins. Oh, and one of them was insightful enough to compliment my choice in hair color. I like these guys. They're definitely a step up from Daryl and his John Deere moving cap who moved me a year ago and begrudged me one small chicken in the backyard. They even handled the crazy lady who wanted to photograph her loaded U-Haul with tact and grace.
Tomorrow morning I hit the road to Portland. It's roughly 1500 miles between Tucson and Portland, so I'm breaking the trip into 500 miles a day. If everything stays on schedule, I'll be unloading the truck Sunday. (Hopefully, I'll get as lucky with the student movers on that end.) Everything is going into a storage unit until construction is done on the house. I meet with my contractor Sunday afternoon, drop off the truck, stay at one of the airport hotels, and fly home Monday. If need be, I can also push back my flight. I hate Southwest's cattle-call loading but I love their flexibility on flights.
I have next week to finish cleaning up the place in Tucson and deal with my remaining possessions.
That should pretty much bring you up-to-date on things as they currently stand. Wish me luck.
And Now for a Brief Word from Your Sponsor on the Evils of Packing Tape...
Let me just say, that whatever gene it is that enables one to handle packing tape with any degree of deftness I don't have it. Wherever this gene might be located on the chromosome, I suspect it's next-door neighbors to the gene which allows people to unfurl cellophane and successfully cover food without trouble because I don't have that one either.
Several of the articles of packing tips I read recommended not skimping when it comes to selecting your packing tape. None of these articles, however, mention how to assess the quality of said packing tape.
I ended up ordering all my packing supplies from an outfitter online. As all the other packing materials seemed fine, I was hoping the tape was, too. No such luck. The stuff was evil. It kept shredding and sticking to the roll. And when I did manage to tape a box, the tape would peel up by the next morning.
Finally, with much creative verbal expression, I pitched all the tape from the online outfitter, went to OfficeMax and picked up a box of the most expensive stuff on the shelf, gambling that the price-point might mean it was, in fact, better.
The new tape is indeed stronger and far more sticky. This, however, presents its own unique set of problems. I have managed to repeatedly tape myself to boxes. And, in one particularly sleepy moment, I managed to tape my hands TOGETHER. I had a brief instant of panic in which all I could see was the Tucson Star headline: "Women starves to death in central Tucson due to unfortunate packing tape accident" before I managed to wrest myself free.
And you don't even want me to try to describe the catastrophe with the wardrobe boxes. I'm just grateful it happened in the privacy of my own home.
Long story short? Hire movers if there's any way you can swing it.
Yesterday morning I received a phone call oh-god-early from a recruiting manager In Dallas to let me know I've got an offer pending for the consulting position for which I've spent the last few weeks interviewing.
I'm still waiting to hear the specific details, but I've been hoping that might happen. The work looks interesting. I really like the people in the department. Plus the job is extremely flexible about where I'm working when I'm not meeting with clients. If I want to be floating on the river in fuzzy feetie slippers that's fine. If I want to be camped out for a week with Charlie in Albuquerque that should befine too. That's perfect for my life right now.
Plus, with as much work as I still have pending on my new place, having an income stream is a GOOD THING.
What's going to be a pain in the butt, though, is I have to go get drug-tested within three days of receiving the formal offer. Odds are good I may be on the road with a U-Haul on the way to Portland when that happens. I'm trying to do what I can to receive the official offer either before or after my trip. But there doesn't seem to be much the company is willing to do to shift the timing of the offer. And, for whatever reason, my offer to simply go get tested immediately didn't fly either. (I mean, what are they worried about? That I might go off and have a drunken celebratory cocaine binge AFTER the offer comes in when there's been nothing ever before?)
Oh well. Worst case scenario, I have a feeling I'm going to end up with a highly entertaining blog entry out of the situation.
By the way, this is also probably about as close as you will get me talking about work on here. I just figured it might be worth explaining how I'm able to continue to afford remodeling efforts without you thinking I'm secretly running guns or something else colorful.
I have a sneaking suspicion this may end up being similar to when she first figured out email, got hold of my work email address, and started to send me daily notes asking if I was getting enough sleep and eating well-balanced meals.
I mean, how the heck am I supposed to write about things like lesbian stewardesses when my mother is reading??
Ah well. I guess if I can share my weird little life with complete strangers, I can include a few family members, too.
I just don't want to hear about it if I occasionally say snarky things about Bob Vila or HGTV, okay, guys?
(And, no, that's not a picture of my mother. She's actually prettier and more laid-back than that. But I think every 30-something American female has an internalized version of a disapproving mother and mine looks pretty close to this. I suspect mine is named "Mirnah".)
One of my favorite guilty pleasures (and ways to avoid work) is browsing through the Apartment Therapy site. I'm a sucker for the gorgeous pictures and and wealth of decorating ideas for small spaces.
I'm especially enjoying their Fourth Annual Smallest, Coolest Apartment Contest. If you've never seen it before and you're interested in small-space living, definitely check it out.
In order to enter, your place must be 850 square feet or less. Each entrant is allowed to submit six images of their place, one of which must be a blueprint of the layout. I'm having fun checking out the entries as they come in. The creativity and design sense of the entrants just blows me away.
Maybe, someday I'll have my place enough together to submit an entry.
"Holding on to old books doesn't allow you to create space for new ideas and ways of thinking to come into your life."
--Karen Kingston, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui
A few days ago I did the inconceivable. I turned in three car-loads worth of books and CD's. It translated into $1000 trade-in credit. It's a very rough estimate, but I'm guessing I brought over $8,000 worth of merchandise into the store. And I still kept over half my collection.
Clearly, I'm into books. And, as you can probably imagine, it's not easy for me to let them go. I take pleasure in being surrounded by them in my home. I like the way they look. I like running my fingertips across their spines when I'm browsing for something to read. Their presence makes me feel like I'm surrounded by old friends.
My brother, Chris, was the one blessed with a near-photographic memory. Mine is only good enough to have a decent idea what book something came out of. I like having the actual source at my fingertips so I can go back and look up the pertinent points.
Even with the amount of pleasure I take in my books, I've always been a little mystified at how emotionally grueling I find it to cull my collection. I'd rather than give up my entire stash of Cadbury Flake than a book. Projects like BookCrossing are the stuff of nightmares for me. I mean, who, in the name of all things holy, willingly "sets a book free"??
In trying to formulate a plan for downsizing my belongings, I bought a few books on decluttering. (Yay! More books!) In one of them I came across a wonderful section talking about some of the most common reasons people resist getting rid of books. (I could tell you which one except I no longer have the books. Sniff.)
The explanation that felt the most emotionally-true to me is that some people associate books with the knowledge contained within them. On some unconscious level they believe that by giving away the book, they're giving away part of their stockpile of knowledge. Bingo. I put high stock in knowledge and sure as heck don't want to lose any I've garnered over the years.
Rationally, I know the information I found the most moving has stayed with me. I don't need the aid of pieces of paper to retain it. And now that I understand what's going on at an unconscious level, I'm willing to grit my teeth and try an experiment by letting going the less-cherished half of my collection.
Of course, I have the added motivation of needing to reduce some serious poundage of books in order not to overwhelm the float of my new house (which has, in fact, happened to a book editor in Seattle). I''ll be quick to note, too, that I didn't let anything go that I would have trouble acquiring a new copy, should I find its absence too painful.
Just the same, I'm expecting serious withdrawal tremors to hit sometime soon. As it is, I've already caught myself reaching several times for books I've either packed or given away. It's not a comfortable feeling, I tell ya. I'll let you know how I hold up over time.
I realize I've been slinging around the terms "floaters" and "stringers" quite a bit, so I figured I'd better talk a little bit more about the kind of floating system my house uses. At some point I intend to write a more detailed entry about all the various kinds of flotation systems you find being employed by floating homes. But, for now, I'm just going to talk about mine, which is a log float.
Log floats were the original flotation system found along the West Coast. That makes sense considering the original floating homes were bunkhouses for logging camps and you're talking about an environment where logs and lumber were plentiful. Log floats remain the most common you find in Portland floating homes.
Log floats have a long lifespan which can sometimes be extended further by rotating which portion of the logs faces down in the water. Many floating homes are still using some of the original logs that were installed in the 1960's. Log floats provide a firm, steady base for a home and can withstand grounding better than many other kinds of flotation systems which also helps to account for their popularity.
Western Red Cedar, Sitka Spruce, and Douglas Fir are all common choices for logs. I'm not certain what the older logs in my float are. I know the newer ones going in are Douglas Fir, which tend to be on the heavy side, meaning they don't float quite as high as cedar or spruce. But with the declining availability of lumber, they're still relatively economical.
A log float consists of a number of "floaters", logs which provide the buoyancy. These logs are notched similar to what you might find in a wood cabin and wood beams, or "stringers" are inserted to cross-brace the structure. These are attached to the logs at the notch-points using long drift pins. (See smaller image above.) You can see the floaters and stringers in several of the pictures in my entry Remodel Hell.
Over this structure is usually built a subfloor of wood (which often includes some diagonal bracing), followed by decking. Usually things such as plumbing and electrical lines will go between the subfloor and decking. The floating home is built on top of all this. So, essentially, you have a house built upon an elaborate raft.
Not too surprisingly, if you have wood floating in water over a long period of time, you are going to have to deal with some rot. When done correctly, log floats have an average life expectancy of about 30 years. As you can imagine, it can be quite a production to then have to replace materials over which a house has been built. Particularly when the whole structure is floating in water.
Thankfully, marine contractors have figured out a number of innovative techniques to make the process easier, such as rolling new logs under a home with the assistance of lengths of fire hose.
I have to wonder whether it's a bad sign or simply common sense to start hyperventilating in Lowe's...
Charlie is in town for the weekend. After a lazy Saturday morning breakfast yesterday at Bobo's, our favorite Tucson greasy spoon, I dragged him with me into Lowe's. This was not terribly difficult in that Charlie has a Y chromosome and, as best as I can determine, Lowe's is the Toys-R-Us for red-blooded American males over the age of about 25.
Having spent too many Sunday afternoons of my childhood inside a hardware store with my father, my general mode of operation inside any kind of home-improvement store is to get in, zero in on my target, and get out as quickly as possible like any good, high-powered, military retrieval operation or guy having to enter Victoria's Secret for a birthday gift for his girlfriend.
My objective yesterday was to pick up a dolly to help with moving things into the floating home. (Even with floating things in, there's going to be a lot of schlepping of boxes.) But, between all the upcoming remodeling projects I have and the ones Charlie has going on at his place in New Mexico, we ended up looking at: paint swatches, appliances, closet organizers, wood floors, bathrooms, and doors & windows.
Somewhere about the time of hitting the French door section, I hit overload. The enormity of everything I'm going to need to do eventually do with my little place hit me, and I started to hyperventilate.
I have to wonder if Lowe's offers their employees training in how to handle panic attacks, because the very nice young man with asthma who'd been assigned to Garden in spite of his allergies calmly assessed the situation and offered me a hit off his inhaler.
After a couple of minutes I pulled things together, grabbed my dolly and Charlie, and got the heck out of the store. I then proceeded to spend the rest of my afternoon pretending that I'd bought a very new, fully-furnished condo with easy move-in access from the street. Hey, a girl can dream, right?