Between the worldwide pandemic and the weather, there’s a lot of time to spend on house projects.
The living room builtin bookcases are essentially done. All the doors came from old schoolhouse windows stored in the basement these past 25 years. The rest was built from scratch.
One major piece left was to tile the alcove behind the gas stove. Technically it didn’t need it – the stove is shielded on three sides and only needs three inches of clearance from combustibles. But it just didn’t look right, especially to those of us who’ve had house fires start in just such a location.
I worked my way through college as a brick mason’s helper, and we did tile work to fill in between jobs. Once I got materials together and figured out a plan, the whole thing was done in a weekend.
I also finished the posts and trim on the columns, which turned out nice.
From my window, as I work remotely in semi-quarantine, I can see the red tulips coming up around the dogwood where they have bloomed for each of the last 20+ years. Wedding gifts, we planted them, along with a lot of other hopeful things, when we had so much to look forward to.
These photos were all taken in March snows that came to Virginia in all the past 10 years, all but this year. We had no real snows this year. Maybe that’s the new normal.
But the tulips and the dogwoods will continue to bloom. Next year, and the next. Maybe long after we’re gone.
Terri and I have a lot of people to thank. We’ve had so much support from near and far throughout this year, and we don’t know what we would have done without it.
Last week we started sending out progress photos in emails, but we don’t even have contact information for many of the people who came to our aid. So I’ll be posting those photos here, along with a lot more as time goes on, more than is practical to send in emails.
We were able to move back in a few days before Christmas, a year and a fews days since the night of the fire. The house isn’t done, but it’s close, and we can continue the work more easily and comfortably now that we’re back. The yard is still a total wreck, complete with dumpster in the front yard and debris littered about. We’ll get to that soon.
Meanwhile, the inside is amazing. We still mourn what was lost, but that gets easier every day. Easier still, because we’re so pleased with the results of all the hard work.
Here are some before and after photos. In some cases, even the before-fire before for reference.
Back around Christmas, a bunch of the guys in the sailing group started asking about making a delivery from Philly, Delaware, and Jersey – “a major award” they called it, and promised it was neither a leg lamp nor Brandi, the rubber mermaid fender. This week they showed up for a tour, with the goods in tow.
Most of us sailors are also readers. There was much relief that the boats were safe, but it hurt them to hear that my library had burned. So they banded together and brought me a new handmade bookshelf and four crates of books to fill it. Totally blew me away.
Apparently, this has been in the works for some time. I may not have this exactly right, but apparently Paul S., a teacher, salvaged some clear Douglas Fir from the old bleachers during a gym renovation. He delivered it to Kevin B. at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival in St. Michaels, who then drove it back to DC to build the shelves. Meanwhile, over a dozen of the guys pitched in and put together a collection of books. Emily says they contacted her to see if she could suss out what I needed.
Many of the titles they sent were those I had before the fire and were on my list to find again and replace if I could. Many I have not heard of, but now look forward to reading. Add these to the books from Doug L. and Dave G., and I’m well on the way to restarting the library again.
Pete P. even tossed in a framed print of me sailing in Caesura with the tops’l up, taken on one of my last trips with the crew.
All of the above, including just seeing good friends again, made me realize how much I’ve missed it. By the time warm weather returns I should be ready to get on the water again. Even Steve E. has been prodding with a standing invitation, so it’s long overdue.
We made dinner and took it over to the house to have a Thanksgiving picnic amid the tools and fresh paint and sawdust. We’ve got lights and heat and flushing toilets. Everything else is gravy, so to speak.
Thankful for so many things this year, but especially all the friends and family who helped us through some really tough times. We fell in love with our little town all over again.
We’re coming down the wire, approaching the one year anniversary of the fire. A lot is happening fast. Crews work Saturdays, while we’re there doing projects of our own, trying to get us moved back in by Christmas.
A week ago the good folks at Albemarle Countertop Company did us a super solid job. They replaced the stone we used in the kitchen renovation, which we had finished just before the fire. We were only able to save one piece of the original stone. It’s out in the yard, still covered with soot. We may use it in another project. They finished the vanities, too, so we have partially functioning bathrooms.
Last week the porch ceilings that took me four weekends to finish were in a few hours painted a lovely traditional southern pale blue. “Clear Skies” from of Benjamin Moore.
Wednesday we finished the window and door trim upstairs.
Thursday we got running water and two out of three flushing toilets.
Saturday, Dennis helped me rebuild the custom stove hood. While we worked, the electricians wired up some lights that turn on and off with switches, and sockets you can plug things into.