Last fall, Dave was feeling run down. Nothing specific, just a general tired feeling. We were remodeling this new house and showing our house on Main St. and we were under a lot of stress. It made sense. Between Christmas and New Year’s Dave was too sick to work. That was the start of a 9 and 1/2 month sick leave. You can read the full story here.
Back to work
Yesterday, Dave went back to work. The IV antibiotic did it’s job. His blood numbers are not completely normal yet, but have been going in the right direction for a while now. It will take time for him to gain his full strength back so construction on the house is still on hold but we can begin making plans again.
What I’m doing
I’ve been busy doing some work on my business and website. I had scheduled a full year without travel from October 2014 until October of this year. I was not able to do as much work as I had planned but I was in the right place at the right time where I was needed.
I joined a Mastermind group in Toledo a few months ago. The group started out very small, usually just three of us, but has been steadily growing. This group keeps me accountable so the work on my business does not slip and I’ve saved time and money based on their recommendations and suggested resources. I recommend anyone in business or thinking about starting a business to join a Mastermind group. I found mine at meetup.com.
As I slowly make progress, I’ll take some free time and update this website with the progress we made on the house before Dave got sick and the bit we’ve done since, usually with my son’s help.
PS- Yes, I noticed you used my camera.
Thanks to everyone for all your kind words and prayers over the last year.
Life has been difficult. That is such a simple sentence but what is going on is far from simple. David has been off work since Christmas. His back hurt and he just did not feel well. After repeated doctor’s visits he was referred to ortho. They advised him to get his shoulder reworked. He was bone on bone and it had been really bothering him for a long time.
Now it is early March. Dave had an uneventful recovery from the surgery. He healed well and went to physical therapy. In May or June, his shoulder was OK, but the back pain came back. His doctor ordered antibiotics. Dave got better. Several weeks later, all the symptoms come back but even more intense. More tests.
He is diagnosed with diverticulitis. We knew he had the pockets in his colon and the blood tests are showing infection. They do a CT and they “see” the infection. We talk to a surgeon who tells us that this will not get better on his own even with a controlled diet and a section of his colon needed to be removed. He needs a colonoscopy first but we can’t do that until the antibiotics clear the infection and his colon gets stronger. We wait a month.
Shivering So Hard It Hurts
During that month he is getting fevers and intense shivering which I’ve since learned is called rigors. In a blink of an eye he would go from feeling fine to shivering so hard he actually pulled some muscles. His whole body went hard and it affected his breathing. I was sweating as I piled the wool blankets on Dave.
Nothing Routine About the Routine Cardiac Visit
He is now due for his routine cardiac checkup. I was not at this doctor visit, but Dave told me that the Doctor turned white when he described the symptoms. He was quite concerned and immediately ordered blood cultures and a follow up just a few days later and a TEE (you swallow a camera and they get an ultrasound of the heart). I was able to go with him for the follow up appointment. The results of the blood cultures were also in. We were advised to go home immediately and pack a bag to check into the hospital. His TEE was already scheduled for the next day and they could coordinate his care better at the hospital. He now needed an Immunologist.
The TEE confirmed the worst case scenario. The wires leading from Dave’s defibrillator to his heart had become infected. We were told by nurses and doctors that Dave had the classic symptoms of an infection in his heart:
The symptoms came and went
Low grade fever
The device needed to be removed but he had gotten a dose of blood thinner in the hospital. The surgery is dangerous enough without that complication, so the surgeon advised waiting.
A New Drug
About that time we learned that his bug was not MRSA and a penicillin based drug could kill it. MRSA can’t be killed, only suppressed. They stopped the Vancomycin which is used for MRSA and started Nafcillin.
Quickest Hospital Discharge Ever
Since that was the first dose, it had to be administered in the hospital, but Dave could go home and wait the week out at home. It was amazing how the plan came together in just a few hours. The medicine could be available at 3:00, making his next dose due at 7:00. While it dripped through his IV they finalized the discharge paperwork. He was signing papers, someone was typing his blood, we packed up his room and about the time everything was done, Radiology showed up to whisk him away for his pre-surgery chest x-rays. I got the car while the x-rays were getting done and Radiology delivered him to the curb.
We had about a 40-45 minute drive. The pharmacy called to coordinate a time for delivery. We got home, the delivery happened about 20 minutes later. The nurse called to verify that the drugs had been delivered and came right over. The new IV was pumping at 7:15, only 15 minutes after the goal time. The pump in his backpack would take over and deliver the correct dose every 4 hours around the clock.
I watched the nurse hook up his IV the first day. I did the hook up on the second day with prompting from the nurse and today I’ll do it while the nurse watches. Eventually I’ll be changing his IV every 24 hours on my own for at least 8 weeks.
Friday morning he’ll have surgery to remove the defibrillator.
If you got this far, thank you for reading. Writing this out has helped me a lot. I’ll do another post after the surgery. Writing it out like this is easier than telling the story over and over to family and friends.
If you know someone with a defibrillator. . .
and they have these symptoms:
The symptoms came and went
Low grade fever
Rigors – VERY intense shivering that comes on quick
Ask the doctor to rule out an infection of the wires. From the bit of reading I’ve been doing on the internet, infections like this are becoming more common.
The garage is finally done! The construction did not go as smoothly as we had hoped. Here’s what happened:
Site Prep for the Pole Barn/Garage
A load of stone was delivered and spread over the site and the materials arrived earlier than expected. I arrived on site at 7am but they were already there.
There was one hiccup with the inspection of the foundation holes. The crew handled it right away and added the extra wood to the bottom of the posts.
The rest of the structure went up quickly.
Next, the siding and roofing was attached.
We added a wainscoting in the same color. We did not want to break up the walls with another color but we wanted the benefits. The lower part of the wall is more vulnerable to damage. It is much easier and cheaper to make repairs to a small panel rather than a full length panel. This feature added about $300 to the project.
Next came concrete. Here is where our problems began. No forms were installed before the concrete was installed. One of the subcontractor workers arrived when we were not on site and used dirt that I had reserved for another project to create a dam for the concrete. It was sloppily dumped on the side of the building covering the siding in some cases. This was not good dirt meant for finishing. It was dirt that I was going to use to fill in low spaces in other parts of the yard that would then be covered by a layer of good top soil. This dirt had grass clumps and rocks throughout. I expected more stone to arrive for the inside of the building, but it never did.
The concrete was laid on the initial thin layer of stone laid before construction began. After it cured and we could get inside, we realized that the level was almost 2″ too low. The photo below shows one of the beams. When the building was done and before the concrete was installed, I had asked a Cleary employee about the level of the concrete. He marked it on this post for me for reference. As you can see the concrete is much lower than it should have been.
We were are still worried about the effects of weather on this low concrete. The concrete oozed out from under the structural board. It was emphasized during the estimate phase that expansion pads were placed around the beams so that the concrete could float independently of the building. To me, the concrete running under the skirt board will put direct pressure on the building when it moves with the weather. Cleary assured us that this was not a problem and advised us to cover it with stone or mulch when I complained that it was unsightly. To my untrained eye it did not look like good workmanship. It was a mess.
When you pull away the piled up dirt, you can see the excess concrete under the board where you should have seen only stone. I never got a good answer on why the extra stone was not delivered. We were charged extra above and beyond the initial estimate due to the distance of our home from the stone supplies, yet we only received one load at the very beginning of the project. We were initially going to contract for the concrete ourselves, but we decided to pay the higher fee and allow the “experts” to do it right — a decision I still regret.
The Cleary salesman spent several hours chipping away at the excess concrete and then smoothing the dirt to make it more presentable. It will be a planting area that I will probably struggle with for years. I was so disappointed I could not write this post for many months. It still makes me upset. It is such a pretty little building but the concrete is an eyesore. The estimate said that the concrete would be sealed. After talking to the subcontractor about the concrete problems he said that it is not a sealer but a curing agent. The blotchiness would go away. It has been almost 1/2 a year and the floor is still very blotchy.
We love the Cleary building but question their choice of concrete subcontractor. To assure us, we were told that Cleary has worked with Ogg Brothers in McCutchenville, OH for many years. Somehow that did not make me feel better.
The Lesson – You cannot trust contractors. I got comfortable with Cleary. The building went up beautifully. I trusted them to complete the job at the same level of workmanship. Even though the concrete guys were “not our crew”, I expected them to work at the same level. Our next building would have been put up by Cleary without us thinking twice. Now when we are ready, we will shop around again or at the very least, contract our own concrete work.
The studio had been used as our staging area for construction for the rest of the house. Now it needs to be completed because our closing is scheduled for next Friday. We will have only 30 days after that to be out of our old house. I am still teaching and doing business in the old house. That will have to move completely to the new house in about a month.
I am posting this information here to be used for estimates for drywall, but this will give you a good look at the before state.
The room is a disaster right now because we cleared out the kitchen so we can get the flooring installed. This room will be completely cleared out before the drywall installation begins.
The entire ceiling was reframed for several reasons. Above the room is a walk in attic. That limited the amount of insulation above this room. Dropping the ceiling made more room for additional insulation. The room was cut up with two support beams and each area of ceiling was out of level. It would have taken a great deal of work to level each area. By eliminating the need to work around the beams we reduced the amount of time it would take to cover and mud the ceiling. A smooth ceiling not broken up with support beams looks better too.
The ceiling shown above has peeling paint, probably lead based paint. We can now cover it and leave it undisturbed.
You can really see in the photo above how out of level the original ceiling was. Look at the area above the new ceiling joist where it meets the wall. There is a much larger gap on the right.
One big problem was how to attach new wooden ceiling joists to the steel beam that previous owners had installed. It took several months to work this out. Dave remembered that he had bought a gun that used a .22 charge to fire a nail into steel. He bought it about 30 years ago for $1. He had no use for it and never used it until now, but hey, it’s a gun. I understand. We bought the ammo and nails at Home Depot and he was able to shoot the nails to attach the hangers to the steel beam. After that all we had to do is lay in the joist and nail or screw them from the side into the hanger.
Additional information needed to quote this job:
Ideal start date November 3
Project must be completed by November 16
This room has 2 exterior doors
Parking is available on the grass just outside each door, drive way is about 15 feet away.
Ceiling height is approx. 8’4″
Room will be used for my business as a fiber art studio
Insulation will be installed before drywall begins
The window to be removed will be out and reframed before your work begins
A drywall lifter and small rolling scaffold is available on site
The room is now cluttered. It will be completely empty before your work begins.
I can have the drywall delivered and in the room if that speeds up the install and helps the price.
Debris can be left on site if that helps the price.
Here’s a video with more information:
I want a smooth finish on the walls, a simple texture is OK on the ceiling.
Help! If you know a dry waller in NW Ohio, please send him or her this link.
I am collecting quotes. The problem has been finding someone who is available. I realize I probably will not find someone who can work in my preferred time frame. I am willing to adjust those times. I will probably have to rent a storage locker for the contents of the rug hooking studio until the new studio is complete. Why does all construction work take longer than you think it will? I will pay cash, check, wool, rug hooking lessons, website services and any combination. I will leave reviews in multiple places to bump up the web presence.
We’re building a new garage! I’ve never lived in a house with a garage. My home on Main Street has a building we call a garage but the widest door is a double door just off the alley that is only five feet wide. You’d never get a car in there. The building had a small room with a three seater outhouse (luckily out of commission and filled it) and small doors for ventilation for the horses before we added the vinyl siding.
Thursday we signed a contract for a Cleary building. This is a photo of the salesman’s computer screen after all the details were ironed out. We contacted Morton Building first and was so disappointed by the price we actually spent several weeks looking at sheds and other options instead. The price we got from Lowe’s was in the same ball park. Cleary was a full 1/3 cheaper. The buildings we looked at and the owners we talked to were all pleased with their Cleary Building. We contacted several contractors that have still not responded with their bids even though we told them we had the financing in place and we were anxious to get it built.
Demolition of the garage
Before the garage can be built, we needed to get the old one out of the way. The cost to do that was $3,400! We decided to take it down ourselves. Today we emptied the garage, removed the tin roof, the windows and the doors. We are a full day ahead of schedule!
We started by emptying everything we had in the garage into our “gypsy tent.” We used to use this to sleep in during family reunion in West Virginia. I get claustrophobic in a tent if the weather is bad and this was large enough for our extended family and also doubled as cover during garage sales and other gatherings. We’ve really gotten our money’s worth on this one.
Bobby took most of the tin off the roof while we took a break for lunch.
In the afternoon the guys removed the doors and windows while I filled the raised garden bed that we moved from the old house.
I love the shadow lines cast by the tin-less roof. It is probably as leaky now as it was with the tin on!
Monday we will rent a backhoe and begin the “real work.” Dave has been itching to get heavy equipment on site for almost a year.
The contractor’s price was $3,400 so far all we’ve spent is some energy. Total is $0.
One of the oddest features of this house was that it only had one door when we bought it. Not only is it inconvenient, it just did not feel right.
We decided we needed a door at the back of the house in the studio. This would create two doors in the studio, but most importantly, it would put a door near the parking area.
I still have not found the perfect front door. I know what I want, but it will have to be special order. That goes on the list of things we can do later. I opted for a door with a fantastic price and a really standard look even though it was not the best quality. I consider this a temporary solution.
Here’s what the area looked like a year ago before we fixed the siding.
After the siding was repaired and all the eaves troughs were installed.
These steps are only as high as a 2×4. I can easily go up and down without putting a foot on each stair. My still healing knee does not feel any pain with stairs this height. While my knee will heal, we are both getting older. These steps are the perfect long term solution!
It just needs some paint. I need a day above 50 degrees and less than 50 mile per hour winds! After a coat of paint, it will look great.
This is one of those ideas where you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of this before?” I’m still struggling with my kitchen design. Working with a designer did not work out for me. I don’t want a row of cabinets slapped up on a wall. I want a thoughtful, workable design and I cannot afford the type of designer who could design my kitchen. So like most things I cannot afford outright, I’ll figure out a way to do it myself. This kitchen has been difficult to design because I am starting with nothing. I’ve never lived in this house so I have no basis of what works and what doesn’t, but I know with patience and consistent hard work, I can figure it out. I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit on houzz.com, but it is helping.
I know I want the front of the refrigerator to be flush with the surrounding cabinets. The average refrigerator is 10″ deeper than base cabinets. Counter depth refrigerators are crazy expensive. I don’t have a lot of wall space on the north wall and I want to put the refrigerator there so it does not overwhelm the kitchen. You will have to walk into the kitchen and then turn around to see the refrigerator. I can move the corner cabinet forward so it will be flush with the front of the refrigerator but I would need to add the expensive spinner thingy so I can reach everything inside. Even at Ikea prices that would amount to over $300 for just the base cabinet and I would end up with an awkward tiny counter and wall cabinets that are unusable because they are hard to reach.
I’ve been stumped on the kitchen design for months. I decided to give up and look at ideas for the under the stairs pantry/closet instead. Why do I always find the answer just when I am about to give up? A corner pantry! I (or my guys) can probably build this for less than the $300 I would have spent on just the base cabinet and I’ll have usable storage from floor to ceiling. I’ll have a place to put brooms and mops as well as other kitchen items. Once I noticed the first corner pantry, I saw it everywhere.
The corner pantry can be worked into any kitchen style. I can use cupboard doors or even a standard door, which will probably be much cheaper and will give me a place to put a pop of color. The photos above are from Houzz.com. Fair warning – this site is addictive. I’ve spent hours, but I’ve enjoyed every minute. I have many ideabooks jammed packed with ideas.
I’ll need at least 48″ along each wall to allow enough room for a door large enough to enter, at least 24.” I can size it to perfectly align the kitchen sink under the window. I’ll put the pull out trash can between the pantry and the sink. The dishwasher will be on the other side of the sink making for simple after meal cleanup.
I’m really excited about this idea. It is now 3am and I need to get to sleep.
Nothing feels better than seeing progress. The insulation behind the drywall feels pretty darn good also. Unfortunately, the north wall (the one without insulation) had to stay that way for several weeks. We had to wait until the new electrical service was inspected and switched over by Edison so we could then demo the wires, put a header over the window, insulate and then put up the drywall.
The piece of red equipment in the photo is used to lift the drywall onto the ceiling and hold it in place while you screw it in. Since my son, Bob, was working alone it was a good investment. We had three large rooms that needed new ceilings. We’ll sell it later on Craig’s List or in a garage sale.
We also bought scaffolding to minimize time on a ladder. This room has 5 doors and three windows. There was a lot of cutting. Notice the new drywall ceiling. No more ugly ceiling tiles.
We’ve gotten into the habit of stopping by the house after my physical therapy sessions. Some days have been too snowy or icy to make the trip possible. I love seeing the progress but wish I could help more. I’m crossing my fingers that I can ditch the crutches after my doctor appointment next Tuesday. I still will not be able to help much, but at least I can drink my tea where I want to, not just where I make it.
BTW- the best outcome of being on crutches was setting up a tea station in the bedroom. With a small electric tea kettle I can make hot tea bedside and enjoy it while I rest upstairs.
To see more photos, visit the Before and After Galleries in the side bar. Click on Living Room.
I thought I could live with the living room after giving it a coat of paint. We could concentrate on other areas and tackle this room later . . . or so I thought.
I tried a bit of paint, but I could not ignore that ceiling and no amount of paint was going to fix that.
We (my son, Bob, who was going to do the work and I) decided the paneling and ceiling tile must go. I was hopeful that what was underneath the paneling could be salvaged, but it wasn’t.
Time to go down another layer. The plaster was removed, shoveled into 5 gallon buckets and dumped on a growing hill in the far corner of the yard. This will become Dave’s backstop for his shooting range. The lathe fueled several weekend fires.
Once the plaster and lathe was removed and cleaned up, the focus turned to electrical work. The work on this room was put on hold for several months while we (or rather, Bob, our son) worked on putting in an all new electrical service. You can see the knob and tube electrical wiring that had to go. Luckily removing the plaster and lathe in this room made the electrical installation easier in this room and all the other rooms beyond the living room.
It was at this point that I fell and broke my kneecap. It needed surgery and as of today, March 6, I am still on crutches and not able to help with clean up or any other work in the house. Definitely a setback, but every construction project has setbacks. This one hurt a lot! I don’t know why I took this photo, but I was bored and worried so taking the photo distracted me. Since I was laying on the floor, this was all I could see. It made sense at the time.
I designed our kitchen on Main St., but I just cannot come up with a plan for this house. I’ve decided to get some help.
Our existing kitchen on Main St.
I think I did a good job on our existing kitchen. It’s been in place since about 1992 or so. I recently added the mason jar shelving and expect to expand on that at the new house, especially with our new neighbors, the country mice. Here is the information I will share with the designers. I’ll share the results when I get them back.
Our existing kitchen at this house
What it looked like after closing
Everything is on the counter because I refused to put anything inside. These cabinets never stood a chance. They were removed at our first opportunity.
After demo of cabinets and trim
Some of the photos were taken with a panoramic app and may be a bit distorted.
We have already bought three cabinets, a 36″ three drawer cabinet, the 24″ sink cabinet to fit the Domsjo single sink and a 24″ cabinet. They are put together but just sitting in the room.
I sorry about the quality of the photos. These are the best I could get. I fell and broke my knee cap into three pieces. Two weeks after knee surgery I am still not mobile.
Cabinets could be built into the east wall to take advantage of the space under the stairs. The photos below are from Houzz.com, my new obsession.
One thing that improved the floorplan of the kitchen and the bathroom was changing the location of the door to the bathroom. When we bought the house, the second door was at the end of the bathroom entering the kitchen. We did not want to eliminate the door completely because we wanted easy access from the bedroom. We’ll add a pocket door inside the bathroom to block off the toilet area creating a part-time power room for the studio. That will be convenient when I am teaching a class. If I don’t get around to doing dishes or vacuuming, my students are none the wiser. I just have to close two doors to isolate the studio from the rest of the house.
This floor plan was created using MagicPlan and my ipad. Just stand in the corner of the room and take a photo of each corner. Do this for each room and move the rooms into place and you have a floor plan as fast as you can take the photos. It gets some of the measurements wrong, but it is amazingly accurate. You can enter corrected measurements when you find errors. It has been so helpful to be able to bring up the measurements at any time with just a few taps — you know my ipad is always within arm’s reach.
Features I need in the new kitchen
*in no particular order
I teach traditional rug hooking and part of my job is to provide hand dyed wool. That requires over 1 hour of boiling per batch. I often do several batches in one day so the steam can be an issue. In the past, I’ve had an over-the-stove microwave which did not work at all. We now have an inexpensive range hood that is marginally better.
I don’t like the look of most conventional range hoods. Many only cover the back half of the stove top. I usually use the front burners because my pots are so large I can only use one burner on each side. The pots are quite tall so keeping them on the front burners is easier for me as I am only 5’4″. Are there other options that work?
Eating space for two
A large table will be in the studio for large family meals (see floorplan). It will be under the window by the front door and pushed up against the wall most of the time. We can pull it out for those special meals. For breakfast, however, I’d like seating for at least one, preferably two in the kitchen.
A home for our Berkey water filter
We own a Royal Berkey Water Filter that gives us terrific water. My husband who would never drink water before has increased the amount of water he drinks every day. It needs to be readily accessible but out of the way. An ideal feature would be a small shelf of some sort about 18″ below to rest large pots while I am filling them. The particular model is 9 1/2″ in diameter and 23″ tall. We will need another 18″ of clearance above it to remove the lid and fill it.
I need to add a back door, probably something with a large window like the photo below. It does not need to be 36″, a smaller size such as 32″ will do. It needs to go on the south wall because the septic tank is just beyond the west wall making a porch and steps difficult. It can replace the window if that location is ideal. I’m thinking about adding a transom top since I have 9′ ceilings.
I have a dog and two cats. I’d like to hide the cat box and bowls. If I don’t restrict access the dog will eat all the cat food. In our current home we have a pet door in the door to the basement so the cats can access the basement but the dog cannot. The laundry and major food storage is in the basement so I am down there daily. The basement in this house is not an option. It will hold the mechanical equipment only. The low area at the back of the pantry closet is a possible solution or the area below the steps but beyond the pantry wall. We could cut into that wall to utilize the space. If the area is contained by a drawer, clean out would not be difficult.
I keep the dog bowls in a base cupboard, off the floor and out of the way. A spot in the pantry would work for the dog bowls also but it must be out of the way so it does not get kicked.
I hate to grocery shop so I stock up and buy large quantities when my favorite items are on sale. I’ll need as much space for canned goods and boxed goods as possible.
The room currently has a single overhead light in the center of the room. I have never lived in this house so it is hard to determine how much lighting will be needed. I’ll need advice on lighting. I have poor vision so lighting is very important. I love under cabinet lighting, but since I will not have many upper cabinets, the lights will have to go on the underside of a shelf. The house is getting completely rewired so outlets and switches can be placed as needed.
I do not want recessed lighting. I will probably use schoolhouse style fixtures such as these:
I do not want the refrigerator dominate the room. Out of view would be the best solution, such as on the north wall flanked with extra deep cupboards to make it look built in. I want to use a standard size refrigerator. I was able to create this on Main St. by building walls around it, similar to the photo below.
I love this thin storage on the side of the refrigerator. It would also work on the ends of base cabinets also.
We will be installing the IKEA cabinets on a custom built platform instead of using the IKEA feet so we can add toekick drawers. A few of the cabinets will have to house the heating vents which are not installed yet.
I bought the IKEA Domsjo single sink the last time I found it in stock after checking several times and finding it out of stock. I didn’t want to take the chance of not being able to get it when I needed it.
Shelves instead of a lot of upper cabinets
I prefer simple shelving around the sink area similar to the photos below.
Getting a well going that had been abandoned for at least a year was relatively easy, keeping it going was much harder.
Before you buy land in the country, ask the neighbors or a water purification contractor what the water is like in your area.
Our realtor had tipped us off that the water on our property has a strong sulfur content. We took pause but not for long. The location is what we loved about the property but we underestimated the problem. The pump was burnt out so we installed a new one and it quickly became apparent (after just a few minutes the pump stopped working) that tree roots had invaded the well. We pulled the pump several times over the next few days and painstakingly picked out tiny tree roots. After a few phone calls, we decided to give Able Well Drilling out of Bowling Green, OH the job of “blowing out” the roots.
Here’s what happened:
Ok, not the most exciting video out there, but I decided to post it because we had trouble finding information about this process when we first heard about it. It wasn’t cheap to have this done, but as least the water is flowing and it did improve the test results.
The well driller told us about a well he blew out years ago. Someone had dropped an ax handle into the well and it had decayed, contaminating the well. After getting the treatment, the water passed the quality tests. We figured we had nothing to loose.
Our water was much better after being blown out, but we still had to install an extensive water treatment system.