Friday, December 25

Thirty-seconds too long on the ice and . . .

. . . I broke my wrist.

It was such a fun evening - a belated birthday celebration for Melissa. Snacks and a drink at Trader Vic's in L.A Live, then a few turns around the holiday ice rink. See how happy Miss M. is!
Just one quick aside here - modern skates are so much better than the ones I learned on 30+ years ago.
About 10:00, Melissa got out of her skates and into her street shoes. I dawdled. One more turn around the rink and I passed the exit gate, heading for the corner to tell Melissa something (now I have no idea what that was).
One moment I was on my feet, the next I was on my tush. And there was a powerful pain in my wrist.
I'll just say: urgent care and x-rays before 11:00pm and surgery a week later. Now, I'm in a cast, keeping my wrist elevated (mostly) and my cast dry. I'm wriggling my fingers and thumb and working on complete extension.

And I'm wondering how I'm going to dress this over-sized appendage for work on Monday.

Monday, December 14

Roasted Pumpkin Fondue

This Roasted Pumpkin Fondue was adapted from Ruth Reichl's new book, Gourmet Today. My excellent friend Melissa gaved me the book as a kitchen-warming gift. I've heard Ruth describe the dish on a number of occasions. Then Evan Kleiman said she tested it (with great success) with a smaller squash before preparing eleven ten-pound pumpkins for a catered event.

I started with a three-pound Kabocha squash. some slices from a stale baguette,  gruyere cheese, cream, vegetable stock, nutmeg, salt, pepper and olive oil.

All the good stuff goes in in layers and the outside is painted with olive oil. Then - into the oven!
It came out all crisp and burnished on the outside and creamy-gooey delicious on the inside. It was so soft and creamy, the lid fell apart a little bit.
Pretty scoops of squash, cheese and bread (which has absorbed the cream and stock).
I ate almost half before I tore myself away.
The leftovers will probably be lunch this week. Unless I go get it out of the fridge right now.

Yum!  Thanks, Melissa - I'm ready to make one for you now!

Friday, November 27

First Shower Since Leveling the Floor

I have not had a shower in my own bathroom since we had some foundation work done and levelled the house. That's when we cracked open the shower pan and tiles but good. I think that was February 2009.
Today is the day after Thanksgiving and I have something to really be thankful for.
John gave me the go ahead to use the new walk-in shower. The grout around the window has been curing for a couple of days and now it is ready.
He may be worried about the grout, but I held my breath as I turned on the shower, focusing all my attention on the drain. It ran perfectly. The water made a clean, smooth, easy departure. Yea!
My old faithful DWP low-flow shower head gives me great coverage and the spray lands well within the "shower footprint". It is comfortable on my head, neck and shoulders and can I ask more than that? The new shower valve is a modern, title 24-compliant, one-handled model. I wish it gave me just a little more pressure, but - really - I'm not complaining.
The Takagi on-demand water heater delivers an endless stream of hot water with a little bit of burner-roar in the service porch. I never have to leave the shower again.

Thursday, November 26


It has been about five days of unpacking, shopping, cleaning and cooking. I can't believe I made it to Thanksgiving with all my hair and fingernails intact. Suffice it to say that there were late nights, lots of dust and oily newsprint residue everywhere. Our recycling bin is packed to the gills with carefully flattened boxes and rolled newspaper.

It was a holiday to try the best of us, but I am surrounded by the best family, so we took it in stride.

Mom got a touch of the flu earlier in the week so she didn't arrive until Turkey Day. That might have been for the best because the shower is not ready yet. Oh, and the kitchen counters have not arrived yet so there is no plumbing. I have a lovely porcelain sink serviced by a five-gallon tank for incoming water and a one-gallon bucket under the drain.  I try to catch most of the water in a basin before it reaches the drain then dispose of it in the toilet. There is running water and a drain at the bathroom vanity so we are not completely roughing it. I owe a HUGE thank you to Janet and John for carrying the bulk of our dinner dishes upstairs to wash in their kitchen.

My brother fetched my Mom from Lindsay (thanks for driving, John!) and then picked up his own family in Newbury Park. Lillie made the vegetable placecards to prove that we were all at dinner on Cashio Street. We enjoyed roast turkey with two kinds of stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, spinach, roast acorn squash, fresh cranberries, olives, pickles, home-baked crescent rolls, crudite and assorted appetizers and real pumpkin pie.

It was a feast to remember. The leftovers will be yummy, too.

Tuesday, November 24

Moving in

Still waiting for countertops but I've invited my family to Thanksgiving dinner. Justin gave me the go ahead to move into the kitchen so I've taken this holiday week off from work and I'm unpacking and cooking up a storm.
How nice to revisit Barack Obama's inauguration coverage in the boxes with my dishes, cookware and pantry ittems.

Saturday, November 7

What are we waiting for. . .

The shower head and valves are installed but untested. The floor is beautiful with a nice slope to the ample floor drain.  If only there was glass to seal the wall between the bathroom and the service porch and to contain the shower splash and protect the vanity.  The 5/8ths inch cross-reed 8mm glass I originally selected is not available and will not be available in any predictable time-frame.
So, I selected a different glass called Master Ligne. Now, I'm nervously awaiting the sample and  hope it is not too "revealing".

Flange 3500095
The vanity is installed and finished. The stone counter is almost there - it just needs another polish to clean up some tool marks. The basin is ready to plumb. One faucet valve had to be reset and it is ready to go but . . . one of the flanges was missing from the box and a duplicate of another part was in there instead.  Flange 3500095 is on order.

The cabinets are installed and the finish is beautifully applied.  The kitchen sink is sitting in its niche awaiting plumbing. The stove has been tested and is standing in its nook awaiting final installation. If only there was a countertop. The Caesarsone guy came out weeks ago and measured. But, the rosemary-colored material I specified was out of stock. Should be available in another week.

That's on me.  I need to make the final selection of three sconces and four ceiling fixtures.  This weekend for sure.

Knobs and pulls.
Again, that's on me. More decisions.

Monday, November 2


Before I went to work this morning, I saw my beautiful new range finally set in place (just temporarily as we are still waiting for the Caesarstone counter top). Justin, Jose and I tested the electric oven and the gas cook top. Everything was working.  The clock flashed 12:00AM - 12:00AM - 12:00AM.
So naturally, all the way home, the idea of a pan of hot biscuits danced in my head. Convection baking is supposed to make crisper crusts and lighter biscuits. Mmmmm.
When I arrived home all thought of biscuits was driven from mind by the plastic and paper swaddling the range, range hood and everything else that is not oak cabinetry.  Of course, I would not be baking - the finishers had just started their process.  Day one of three and I have to say it looks beautiful by flashlight.

I hope I'll be baking biscuits by the weekend.

Wednesday, October 14

Kitchen Floor and a Big Day Ahead

The marmoleum is down in the kitchen, service porch, diner, entry and closets. It is lovely and almost makes me want to postpone the rest of the work so I can revel in the expanse of it. Almost.
Tomorrow is going to be huge: diner and kitchen windows, kitchen cabinets, new bathroom vanity, range hood maybe. And the kitchen sink. Oh, and maybe the toilet will come back!

Tuesday, October 13

In a State of Readiness

This picture shows the service porch and kitchen in the state of readiness.  The floor is ready for marmoleum and once the marmoleum is down the kitchen cabinets can go in. The window frames are ready for the new windows. The range hood structure is up. The plumbing and gas have been stubbed in. Everything is clean and prepped. It is ready for finish.
Is this where construction leaves off and finish work begins?  Seems like we have a long way to go before we are finished, but finish is a process.

Monday, October 12

Light switches

It was paint and electrical work today and JDC brought out the steady hands to cut the ceiling corners.
So, when I came home tonight, I walked in the backdoor, flicked a switch and, behold, the service porch. Then, the fresh walls of the kitchen were illuminated.

Saturday, October 10

Bathroom Stone

I had planned to install Caesarstone on the bathroom vanity but they don't make the right color. So I switched to stone. John and I shopped today and I found two that are very different but both are nice with my tiles.
Have you ever heard of wood onynx? That's what you see above, but the colors are not very accurate on my monitor.
Below, you see a sort of rosy-colored granite.

Wednesday, October 7

The Light and the Maquette

I don't know which is more impressive - the light in my new kitchen or the cool maquette that John constructed to determine the perfect height for the bathroom vanity. He sent these gorgeous photos in an email message to me at work. I wanted to drop everything and race home to stand in that room.

That soft gray floor is the linoleum-ready surface installed by the floor guys. Nathan's crew leveled the plywood floor and the gray stuff was floated on top. I dropped a marble in several spots and it didn't go anywhere.

Tuesday, October 6

The wraps are coming down and cabinetry is arriving

When I arrived home from work tonight, the plastic barricade between the kitchen and the hallway had been removed. I have not had kitchen access from the living room since September 1. This means that the dirtiest parts are done. Finish work from here on out, Baby!
Paul, the cabinent guy, installed the giant pull-out linen closet columns. They are beautiful! They are huge! (How long will it take me to fill them up?) They roll with ease like gentle giants. You will be jealous when you see them.
I've been dragging my feet on pulls and handles for both the kitchen and bathroom. Now that the cabinets are trickling in, I need to get going on that detail.
Paul also delivered the bathroom vanity. It is beautiful - an original design that will accommodate the Kohler basin and provide handy storage beneath. It is magic because the basin bottom nests below the cabinet top and Paul has figured out the geometry to maximize the drawers.
Unfortunately, the piece is too tall. It stands 36 inches high without the stone top and the basin stands about 3 inches above that. It is too tall for the wall-mounted spout.  I know it will work out in the end. Paul will fix it and it will be beautiful.

Monday, October 5

Tiled Bathroom

I could have sworn I made an overview of the newly tiled bathroom but I can't find it. Now that the bathroom is "dressed" for drywall and paint, I can't get that image, so here are some details.
The lead picture is the shower corner where the travertine meets the subway tile. It doesn't show well the subtle color of the grout, but see below for more grout views.
Next, you see the alcove in the shower for shampoo and soap. It is generously sized for lots more bottles than I usually use. I may have to decant my Aussie Mega shampoo from its garish purple bottle into something more in keeping.

I love the new floor. we went through a huge variety of floor ideas before we found this variegated and textured porcelain. I think it will be comfortable underfoot, provide sure footing in the shower and look charming.
Above right is a spot where you can see examples of most of our tiles: subway wall, pencil line travertine edge, porcelain floor and porcelain baseboard with a rounded top edge.

Sunday, October 4

Saturday Status

I am away from home for a few days in Santa Barbara and John is on site again.   He says the tiles are in and grouted and they are quite beautiful. The kitchen and diner are painted.
He has a glass sample for the bathroom/service porch insert that looks promising with 5/8" cross-reeds.

Thursday, October 1

Today's Window Shot

The Bath Transformation

These pictures give you a hint about all the great work going on in the bathroom. The floor has been sealed and a layer of cement is carefully sculpted to approach the drain. That light square in the shadow is a floor tile next to the drain.

The subway tiles are going up on the walls on sheets for the most part. But around the plumbing, they are precision trimmed to fit perfectly.

Wednesday, September 30

John Divola Kitchen

Patriotic Bathroom

You haven't seen much of the bathroom because it is dark and hard to get an angle in there since the walls went in. I thought you should see what I saw last night when I got home.

Red waterproofing, blue masking tape and white mud. Imagine it in the beam of a flashlight. I thought I'd fallen into a Thomas Harris novel.

Sunday, September 27

Inspection 2? Check!

View from the mailslot.

We passed the second inspection on Friday so taping and mudding really will start on Monday. This weekend, I picked colors and spent a lot of time in the kitchen; just looking at it. It is a lovely space with good light.
I made 46 pictures of the subfloor alone. I promise not to post them all here, but . . .

For John - Nathan laid down this pattern in the service porch where the washer-dryer stands. The prelude to pouring the stuff that will level the floor, I think.

Saturday, September 26

I'm Living in a Warehouse

Materials, fixtures and appliances are rolling in.

  • Five boxes of floor tile, one of base tile, eight of subway tile, one of pencil line edging, three of mosaic travertine.
  • One range, one range hood (cooker hood it says on the box).
  • Two sinks and one garbage disposal (the kitchen sink weighs more than me).
  • One shower faucet (that's partially installed), one lavatory faucet and drains for both.
  • One water heater and its companion water filter (it looks like a torpedo).
  • Two fans (these have been installed now).
My living space is getting tighter and tighter. My office is half boxes and the enlarger stand looms over the desk.
In the backyard:
  • two kinds of insulation have passed through,
  • copper and PVC pipes have been absorbed,
  • several boxes of joint compound recently arrived,
  • rolls of plastic sheeting came along,
  • boxes of plumbing connections remain,
  • the toilet is in several pieces,
  • our work-horse washer-dryer (sometimes connected to the garage for electricity, and to a garden hose for water,
  • plywood galore leans against the house.

Thursday, September 24

A Study in Drywall

You might call it high-key kichen.

These guys are artists.
The inspector is expected again on Friday to approve the drywall installation. Tape and mud follow.
Floor prep is in the works.
Tile work on Tuesday.
Paint on Wednesday.