I’m not sure

It has been a while since I’ve updated, I guess. Not ages, but a while. We’ve been plodding onwards with the many jobs big and small which need to be completed. We planed a bunch of trim panels for the board and batten around the outside, cut them to length and Kathryn primed and painted them. Then we cut more we have been working through painting them.

Yesterday we started putting them up and were able to do most of the back with the batch we’d got done (I didn’t cut some of the short bits until later – so they haven’t been fully painted, and there’s a funky bit around the back door which we had a bit of a discussion about how we’re going to do it yesterday and I think we’ve got a plan).

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As is often the case with big (and sometimes with small) changes, it’s fascinating how much it changes the feel of the house. It feels more cottagey and traditional – and although we were going for a modern take on board and batten siding:

What we actually seem to have created with our somewhat larger spacing is something a bit more like a modern take on mock-tudor. Our neighbours will, no doubt, be surprised by yet another transformation taking place.

We also now have the tiles to cover the main area floor. Having lived with the microcement for a while we’ve both concluded it just isn’t working out. I think if you’re a talented, experienced concrete worker you could probably get it better, but for us it’s just not smooth enough, and the colour seems to sit in the surface, so polishing it isn’t going to work. Which leads to – well, okay, we need to cover it – and that’s going to be either carpet, wood or tile. Tile actually improves the effectiveness of the heated floor rather than impeding it, and we like the look of natural tile – so we ordered a ton of slate tile which arrived last week and we lugged it from its pallet to storage.

It’s really disappointing to have to redo the floor, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and redo something. It’s also a pain because we didn’t leave space around the doors, so they can’t be tiled around. That is a whole different kettle of fish, which we have thoughts about how to tackle, but some of that is dependent on the thickness of the adhesive and tile combined.

At any rate, all the tile’s sat at the back of the house and we ordered our tile adhesive which is ready to collect today… so that’s another big project to get going on and get off the list. That’s reserved for days when it’s too hot to be outside for long stretches, or when it’s raining, although actually even though it’s been hot we’ve been managing to keep working through the day of late. It’s not been as hot as it was a couple of weeks back which has made it more manageable.

I also took it upon myself to chase our door company and… astonishingly, our doors have all arrived. From the discussion it sounds like they actually arrived a while back but the guy forgot to call us – or somehow the message got lost. Anyhow, we need to go down and collect them and then we can have actual doors. In our house. Which is quite exciting and also means we should be able to get on with installing trim around the pocket doors. That just leaves the cupboard, attic and bedroom doors to do. Heh.

The doors being ready does mean that this:

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Will come into its own as while we could put three doors on the roofrack, I think that would be pushing it for the 120 mile drive back from Portland. So instead we’ll push it by putting a trailer on our hitch for the first time ever.

All in all it’s slow but steady progress.

Sun, sand and glaciers

COVID-19 notwithstanding, we decided that a couple of days of us not working on the house, not working in the garden and perhaps not being in Olympia was a good idea. We’d debated going camping, but left it too late to book a site that was sufficiently socially distant for our tastes (our tastes essentially being that no-one else is within about a 10 mile radius of us).

When I’ve been at work the social distancing is mainly for their safety, since Kathryn’s not at work right now her contact with peeps is pretty minimal. But since I’ve been not-at-work for a couple of weeks, this was mainly for our and my patient’s safety – because I don’t want to ferry plague back from other people to my, potentially sick-but-not-necessarily-with-COVID, patients.

So, instead we packed up our car with a coolbox containing lunch, took our coffee and tea in insulated cups and headed firstly out to the coast – and then on our second day of holiday – to Mount Ranier.

Our very first attempt was Westhaven State Park which is a beach over by Westport. Being a bit of a mizzly day it wasn’t too busy until you got down to the bit of the beach which was where the surfers like to hang out. Even there we were able to maintain distance, but it was a bit busier than we liked. So we poked at the map and found Griffiths-Priday State Park. Not far from the very popular town of Ocean Shores, which has reportedly been fairly much fully booked up with people who aren’t as concerned about COVID as we are.

We decided to give it a go, and what an excellent decision that was. It’s much closer to a wild beach with a large expanse of dunes and we meandered around barely seeing anyone that wasn’t a bird. The mist rolled in and out, the waves running up on the sandy beach. It was wonderfully peaceful and a lovely wild space to be away from other people for a bit.

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Sitting there and listening to the sea, watching the birds, hearing the wind in the grass; it just reminds you how beautiful the world is. And letting the water roll over your feet, feeling the sand slipping out from beneath you and back into the water is just such a centring experience.

Dinner was fish and chips (no malt vinegar though; I clearly need to get a bottle to carry for such events) from a restaurant that handily was doing drive-through ordering then kerbside pickup.

Yesterday we decided to head to the mountains. By sheer coincidence it happened to be one of the National Park’s free days – so we loaded up again and headed to Mount Ranier. One primary discovery from yesterday; we’re both hideously unfit. While working on the house has, I’m fairly certain, improved both of us’s upper body strength, our general stamina for ‘walking up a big hill’ has not improved.

But, it being a popular national park you can cheat and drive a big chunk of the way up ;)

We’d actually selected what was supposed to be a lightly trafficed route, but the sunshine and the free day and the fact no-one can go anywhere thanks to COVID mean that it wasn’t that quiet (although, it may be that it’s quieter than other routes…?). It also turned out that the combination of ‘moderate’ difficulty combined with almost no shade at all was… not ideal on such a hot day.

So we abandoned the plan and instead went on the Moraine Trail, which it turned out was an excellent plan because there was almost no-one on the short out-and-back trail which takes you to the foot of the terrifyingly disappearing Nisqually Glacier. It’s stunningly beautiful up there, and the mountain kindly let us get a really good view before mist and clouds suddenly descended covering the peak.

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It’s funny, because it’s one of those highly deceptive trails which – being unmaintained and over in a valley, makes it feel like you’ve hiked out to the absolute middle of no-where, when in fact you’re just a half hour walk from one of the tarmac’d paths in the Paradise area of the park that’s incredibly heavily trafficed.

We meandered up the trail and gazed up a the much diminished but still amazing glacier, then down the hill to attempt to find a spot for our snack. Which… ended up with me shrieking, leaping up and dropping my snack (which we then picked up and packed out, because we’re not arseholes); thanks to an ant deciding to take a bite of my arm.

Thankfully it turned out not to be a truly vicious ant, nor a swarm or herd or whatever it is of ants. But Kathryn swiped off the other one after I’d managed to remove the one from my foot and the one that was attempting to go up my leg. After that we decided to maybe continue our walk…

…and after climbing back up to the main path we headed across to the Stevens Canyon Road for a brief peek, before heading down the mountain, stopping for a brief look at Narada falls (which incredibly wasn’t too busy). Then down the mountain for takeaway dinner (which we tookaway to the carpark outside the restaurant). Turns out there’s a Nepalese food restaurant (and also a Ukranian one, actually) not far from the park entrance, so we tried that… which was okay. Not amazing, but not bad for tourist trap munchies.

And then home.

And now we’re back to regularly scheduled house stuff :)

It seems counterintutive, but we were nearly sunk by the sink.

Sorry.

So we got the counter on. Getting the counter on wasn’t terrible. We had to maneuver the dishwasher in and out a few times because the level wasn’t set quite right; so it would have fouled the bottom of the counter. But after a few trips (and it’s on rollers), it was in and seems to be at the right height.

Then we had to play ‘what looks right’ to get the countertop on. Because the wall’s not straight; and so the cabinets don’t sit perfectly; nor does the cooker.

But eventually we reached a consensus between all the warring angles and we decided we were happy with the position.

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So then it was time to install the sink.

We got the template, positioned it carefully, drew around it, drilled some starter holes and set to with a multipurpose blade in the jigsaw. Did it go well? No, it f’kin did not.

The screws we’d put in to hold the metal to the wood – well, let’s just say they got in the way. Then the blade decided to go off for a wander at a jaunty angle. Then nothing we had would cut through the screws which were riiiight where we needed to go*

Finally, using a combination of the reciprocating demo-saw, a bunch of new jigsaw blades, and a fine agglomeration of swearing we got the hole cut. Then we test fitted the sink – placing some wood blocks to stop it being difficult to get out**, we dropped it in. It fit perfectly***.

We attached the clips (per the instructions), coated the edges with silicone sealant and popped the sink in the hole.

Whereupon it instantly became apparent that the clips now fouled the edge of the hole and would quite definitely not go in the hole. Eventually, after a rapid assessment of the deteriorating situation we realised that even were we to pop it out and cut the hole bigger – which would be a challenge to do as once the clips are on there’s approximately 2-3mm between ‘correct size to get the sink through’ and ‘oh, the sink has fallen through the hole’ because the clips almost, but not quite, protrude at the side of the sink**** – the clips were too short to actually clip the damn sink to our worksurface as they’re less than an inch and a half long, and our work surface is an inch and a half thick. Plus a the front and back 3/4″ for the top surface of the cabinet.

So after some rapid assessment we opted for yanking the clips off again, throwing in a bit more sealant and putting the sink in. It turned out that actually, the wood blocks we’d put which held the sink just out of the hole (making it easier for us to remove it after test fitting) had hidden another problem; the pieces of metal that hold the clips in actually fouled the hole too.

The supplied template is woefully wrong.

We bent them a bit and managed to shove the sink into the hole.

It looks nice now – and hopefully the amount of sealant there is enough to both seal it and hold the damn thing in.

Then came the discovery that the drains supplied with the sink have necks that are about 3cm longer than the old sink. Whiiiiiich, it turned out, is a problem because where the drain enters the wall was somewhat marginal height wise anyway. And it turns out, the easiest and best route ends up with the new drain pipe being in the way of the drain – a plan which obviously wasn’t going to work.

It took a lot of pondering, staring, holding up bits of pipe, and in the end some rather weird routing – but… eventually I landed on this:

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Which seems to work.

And so, at long last, we have a proper kitchen sink. The tap is actually attached and no longer spins at the slightest provocation. It no longer has to be twisted to allow you to have it on cold.

It’s quite nice.

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* Or so we thought.

** A mistake.

*** Spoiler alert: It didn’t.

**** WTF?!