It’s raining again today – which is always good news here in the high desert – and has limited the amount of work that I can do outdoors. In all honesty, it limits the amount of time I WANT to spend digging trenches away from the overflowing rain barrels or positioning rocks into the latest gabions. Even so, I did spend the morning pick-axing out 30 inches of trench on one corner of the garage and filling it in with 2 inch rocks from the front yard. Then I built the last step into our side garden stairs and leveled the ground between path and gabions. Rob, on the other hand, is still out there whistling away, bending and connecting re-mesh into gabion baskets and nailing them into place onto the humongous posts he sank into the rock/clay so that I can eventually fill them – in my own good time.
I love it when he whistles while he works. Especially when we’re out there together sweating and slogging in the muddy piles we’ve dumped everywhere. It stops any idea I might have of whining and grumbling and quietly transforms even pick-ax work into a sweet moment on a cloudy day. Where did he learn to do that?!
And now that the rain is falling more seriously and he’s finished his last gabion, he seems to have moved into the garage to work out a good system to store the kayak, canoe and bikes for the winter. I’m on the couch (damn, but I love this couch!) after rubbing the last coat of varnish onto our beautiful front door. Since I had a little bit of our special varnish blend (equal parts turpentine, polyurethane, and linseed oil) left in the tub I decided to give the sun-bleached looking balusters a touch up too. This got me to thinking of the couch and the appropriateness of writing a blog entry about the process that eventually got us to where we are now.
The stairs are still not completely finished due to a summer of diverting activities, all safety issues are resolved – even if the finished project is clearly months away.
One step at a time.
For a very long time our stairwell looked pretty much like this;
As you can see, there was still snow outside here and the walls hadn’t been primed yet, but this is exactly how it looked long after the winter’s heavy snows melted and the walls were painted in every room.
When it eventually dawned on us that we needed to move things along on this project if we were going to get a certificate of occupancy, Rob put it at the top of his to-do list (abandoning such less necessary projects like starting our bathroom shower) and started laying the click flooring on the 2nd floor so that he could wrap the 2x4s for the finished newel posts. All of that needed to be done before he could start to build the railings that would keep us from eventually taking that one big step right over to the 1st floor’s concrete floor.
It looked so much better with this new woodwork that we got very excited about the whole project and the building inspector could see we were addressing it and he kindly gave us the certificate of occupancy with the requirement that we get the full bannister up per our design.
Yeah. Well. The weather got nicer and nicer and we needed some outdoor work done so….
Some time in late July Rob spent a couple of days getting the necessary electrical works in place for my exciting (and very time consuming) idea to put LED ribbons into the undersides of the bannisters for subtle and energy efficient stairway lighting. It required a transformer be installed under the landing and wires wormed up through the stair, along the two landing’s existing 2×4 posts and then wrapping the knotty alder around it all to hide wires and finish off the newel post look.
Then we thought we should start making a patio out back and move piles around out front to create potential entry ways to our front porch and door.
Even so, at some point I got the oak stair treads stained and sealed and Rob put them in place.
It wasn’t long after that we realized we had some company coming who would appreciate not feeling the long drop from the top stair over the side to the bottom stair and Rob began the long and difficult process of figuring out how to construct the bannister we had been designing in our heads.
It was not a whistling kind of job for him and it took long weeks of long days to get them good enough to put into place. Our daughter says that her boss at the publishing house used the expression, “Perfection is the enemy of done” and we were definitely at that point. Done became more important by the day and so the full – if not perfect – bannisters went up.
Still, they’re beautiful and we were thrilled to find that the LED ribbons fit right into the strip Rob had routed for that purpose and the lights do an exceptional job of lighting the stairs.
Maybe you can see the ribbon lights even though it’s daytime in this photo? It’s more impressive at night but you get the idea.
And speaking of impressive but, as of yet, unfinished projects – here’s the latest on my filling of Rob’s gabion baskets retaining wall.
PS Our shower is still not started and we have learned to love baths in the guest bathroom.
PPS Our apologies to our wonderful and trusting building inspector for our sloth like ways.