Our main theme of the year can be summed up in one word: renovation. In late spring we decided to take our small, country cottage and flip it in the true sense of the word, switching the bedroom with the living room. It’s a passive solar thing. Our house was backwards. We had a poorly-lit, one-window bedroom on the south side of the building, and a picture-windowed living room on the northern, “cold” end – exactly the opposite of what you should have in a well-sited, energy efficient home.
But first, let me show you a few highlights of 2013:
In March, we built our third entry in the Mt. Ashland Dummy Downhill. Our theme has always been Wizard of Oz characters. This year we chose Miss Gulch On Her Bicycle, our most ambitious idea yet. I started the infrastructure when Wayne was down in Austin for his yearly stint as Stage Manager for the fabulous Continental Club during South By Southwest. (SXSW). Our friend Cindy gave us an old bicycle which was perfect. Wayne got home and gave her a face. As our first two dummies in past competition crashed, this year we were determined to get her down that hill and over the jump. It turned out to be a beautiful day, and we bronzed! See her fly down the hill and over the jump in perfect form! Just fyi, the dummies are supposed to go over the jump and crash into pieces.
I'm considering chronicling the entire process in a somewhat humorous novel, once the trauma begins to recede. We’ve kept excellent records, and the sunlight now streaming through the new windows somehow makes the past six months seem like a dream. But, this being Christmas sort of chronicle, I promise not to drone on about all the highs, lows and pitfalls of the project. I’ll just treat you to a few highlights, bearing in mind that the thing you hear most about a renovation is this: It always takes longer and costs more than you think.
What we planned, in our naiveté, was a summer project involving replacing the windows, painting and switching the furniture. By July, we’d pulled down the walls and ceiling in the old living room, replaced the electricity, caulked and insulated. Really, once you’re down to your studs, you might as well just do everything. We take comfort in knowing what’s behind those walls, now. Our friend William helped us mightily until things got busy with his own fine carpentry business, which you should definitely check out: southernoregoncabinetry.com.
We were in a race against time and weather to begin Phase II: get the upcoming new living room (old bedroom) torn down and built back up again, with the wood stove installed before the weather turned cold. Once again, we were down to the studs. I could go on for hours, so just trust me when I tell you there were many “hills and valleys” during this process. Some of the electricity behind the walls in “Phase II” caused our electrician to shake his head in disbelief, and we thought most electricians had seen it all. Still, it’s a little house in the middle of four acres in the boonies, so a total re-wire was a relatively simple thing. Shortly, there was new, 5’ x 3’ window on the south wall, allowing light to come streaming through the house! Once again, we insulated the walls, the sheet rock guys came, and... I'm droning, aren’t I?
Wayne is continuing to produce brilliant weekly podcasts of The El Wayno Loco Show.
Luckily, we both have studios in our additional “Art and Laundry” building, which offered great refuge during the whole renovation process. At some point earlier in the year, I launched my new Silverlining Press website.
New window on the south side, where there wasn’t one before. And Sparky. The thing he’s lounging on will have to remain a mystery until after the holidays. But it’s really cool!