The Farm House Journal

2005 Updates, Part 1


March 8, 2005—The construction phase is officially done, and the house is mortgaged. This does not mean that we are done with the house, but it does mean that the city is done with us. They have signed off on the project, and thus for the first time in nearly thirty years the Farm House is a legal residence.

Obviously, much has happened since last I wrote. The windows are all now operable and lockable. The electrical work has been completed, and the permanent connection to the electrical lines made. The mantelpieces have been put back in place, and our foreman has built a replica mantelpiece, exact in every detail but without the spoon carvings, to replace the missing one in the parlor. He has also miraculously resurrected the horribly damaged front door. All exterior wood is primed. The kitchen needs only the finish coat of paint on the walls, stain and varnish on the cabinets and woodwork, and grout on the backsplash tile to be complete. Both bathrooms are fully functional. The driveway is installed, and the walkways poured. Telephone, network and cable wiring are all complete and ready to be hooked up to the outside world. The gutters are up. Also, the fence between the front and back yards is complete. It has been an eventful five months.

If the eyes are the windows of the soul, then windows are the eyes of a house. This is how the Victorians thought of windows, not in a metaphysical nor fanciful sense, but in the architectural and aesthetic senses. From this perspective, it has caused me some distress to think of this lovely, dignified house having sat blind to the world for decades. This is why rehabilitating the windows has been an especially important task to me.


Don't be silThe work went very slowly at first, because of the sheer size of the downstairs windows, and also because it took several weeks for me to figure out how to remove some exceedingly stubborn and granite-hard 116-year-old glazier's putty. Once I had finished the four downstairs side windows, however, the rest of the windows went fairly quickly. It helped matters for me that the foreman and finish carpenter did a lot of the work on the second floor. The sills of all the windows to the rear of the second floor were shot, but the timbers were okay, or rather, the casings were otherwise usable, so the finish carpenter removed them, took them apart, then reassembled them with new sills. We had to replace the sash in five of the six dormers, which the foreman and finish carpenter installed. Their work made my job much easier.

Bay windowI left the bay window for last, because it appeared that there would be some problems, and I wanted to have as much experience as I could before tackling them. The side windows are double-hung and non-operating, but the original method of fixing the lower sash had disappeared, and they were simply nailed in place. Moreover, the sash lock of the center window had been mortised deeply in to the top rail of the inner sash, indicating an alignment problem that was not immediately apparent. Happily, by the time I got to them I was firing on all three cylinders window-wise, so I was able to address these problems in short order. Late one Tuesday evening, the last remaining boarded-up windows were ready to be uncovered.

But I like to uncover the windows in the daytime, when I can witness each room coming back to life as the light returns to it. I hurried through my morning chores at home, eager to attend to the gratifying task before me. The last board I removed was, as it happened, the one board I had never before taken off, the one covering the window that obviously had once borne the dread "unfit for habitation" sticker, of which only an ugly smear of stickum remained. When the drama of this hit me, I must admit I was a bit overcome. I immediately fetched the mineral spirits and a razor blade and removed that ugly smear so that the Queen of Mentor Avenue could once again look out upon her world with clear vision, undimmed by sad memories of bad times now gone.

achooWhat a marvelous transformation was brought about by the opening of those huge, door-sized windows! Suddenly, the first floor was a bright, airy place. For the first time, I could appreciate the dramatic views of the mountains from the north rooms. For the first time, I could see how the light reached into every nook and cranny of every room. For the first time, I could see clearly just how thrashed the interior is. The electrical work was finished at about the same time, which really put the exclamation point on my enlightenment.

It was an exciting step to have the electrical work finished, but it entailed a surprising amount of work, because we had to provide all the lighting fixtures. This required a large number of decisions for which we were largely unprepared, because in most cases we had made no decisions regarding the decoration of the rooms. We thus purchased inexpensive but serviceable temporary fixtures for all but a few locations. We did purchase a few permanent fixtures for rooms such as the kitchen that we had already thoroughly thought out, and we did manage to get temporary fixtures that look reasonably appropriate, so some may end up being permanent by default. In any event, it was nice to be able to retire the extensive network of extension cords and work lights that had grown into a distinct hazard to navigation.

RogerIt was satisfying to see how well my electrical layout—fixture, switch and outlet location—works. My Dad did the electrical layout for a home built for the family up in the Willow Glen area of San Jose before I came along, and he used to tell me with great pride how he had carefully laid things out so that outlets and light switches were everywhere they might be needed, so that one would never trip over a stretched cord, nor have to cross a darkened room to turn the light on. This was years before electrical codes began to reflect these considerations. By this example, Dad taught me that any job worth doing is worth doing well.

Thus, before I verified that my layout complied with the electrical code I made sure that it complied with Dad's code, which is more demanding. Every room on the first floor opens into every adjacent room and there are a lot of rooms, so making sure I considered every route and every need for an outlet was a demanding task. Thank God I had Dad's help.

Dad's, and Uncle Ernest's. Ernest was an electrical contractor for many years until his recent retirement, and so when I was done I ran the layout by him. His expert eye caught a few places where I had failed to put needed outlets. So it really was a family affair.

medicine cabinetAs I mentioned, both bathrooms are now fully functional. Bye-bye, Andy Gump! The downstairs bathroom has its medicine cabinet, built by the people who built the kitchen cabinets. The room still needs to be painted, and some hardware still needs to be installed, but everything works. I've lived in places where the entire bathroom was smaller than that shower stall. It's not fancy by current standards, but it is roomy. The upstairs bathroom is in service as well, and it still needs painting, although I have done some of the finish painting already. As I've mentioned, we're restoring this bathroom more or less as we found it, in Victorian style. This means that the floor and walls around the fixtures are visible, so I needed to finish them before the fixtures were installed.


yecchThis turned out to be a pretty tall order, because even after the contractor was done with the room it was still in a pretty bad condition. The beadboard wainscoting was in awful shape, and the drywall work, skilfully executed elsewhere, was shockingly sloppy wherever it met wood. Also, this is the one room in the house that did have dozens of coats of paint applied, and one of the earliest coats had been cracked all over when it was painted upon. Everything needed stripping, including the floor, but I didn't have the time because the plumber was waiting for me to finish, and after starting to strip the beadboard I found that it takes a very long time to strip it without ruining the beads. We really should have replaced all the beadboard in that room, but to be honest this was the one room I hadn't thought out fully. There were too many variables, and I couldn't form a clear mental picture of it in completed form, so I deferred those plans until after I saw the walls redone. Big mistake. I was faced with a real mess, and not much time in which to fix it.

beadboardSo I stripped the items that absolutely had to be done: the window casing, the floor, and one beaded trim piece that was cracked in several places and needed delicate surgery without its being removed. For the rest, I tried an experiment. Abatron Citrastrip is a stripper that is very effective but rather slow in its effect, so I figured I could time it so that it would just strip the first coat off and soften the next coat a little. This worked very well; it filled in the cracks, made the paint easy to sand, and greatly lessened its tendency to chip and flake off. If I hadn't done this it would have been impossible to make the beadboard look good without stripping it completely.

eeeeeeyuuuuBy the way, in the process I discovered clues that prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the bathroom had always served as a bathroom, but that it was plumbed some time after the house was built. An explanation of the clues would be long and boring, but they mostly have to do with paint patterns. One detail I will relate is that there was an upside-down L-shaped area that was unpainted at the level of the first coat, and this L bounded a rather obvious patch in the beadboard that stretched from the floor to about 18 inches up. This most likely was where a built-in chamber pot stood. And guys complain today about taking out the garbage.

tub10After performing my reamalgamation experiment on the beadboard and stripping the floor, I completed the painting behind and underneath where the fixtures were to go, leaving the rest for later. Lydia stripped, sanded and painted the outside of the tub; she did a superb job, certainly better than I could have done. She found a new set of tub feet using my casting, and our friend Gary, who has all sorts of handy connections through his work, had them nickel-plated for us. The shims needed to affix the feet firmly to the tub were missing, so the foreman and his assistant fabricated new ones. All put together, with the new faucet and shower, it looks great.

lavOther than the inexpensive modern toilet we put in temporarily while I restore the original, the only completely new fixture in the upstairs bathroom is the vanity. We wanted a undermounted basin with a marble top and nickel legs, but complete vanities fitting this description are exorbitantly expensive, so we assembled ours from several sources. The people who built our kitchen cabinets and installed the granite counters made the marble top and backsplash for us, and we're deliriously happy with the result. It's thoroughly Late Victorian.


bon appetitSpeaking of the kitchen cabinets, we're happy with those, too, although it was quite a struggle to get them built the way we wanted them, and they ended up much fancier than I had originally envisioned. I drew up precisely-dimensioned diagrams (called "elevations") for them which the architect included as part of the approved working plans, so I expected that our desires were perfectly clear in this regard. I designed simple face-framed flush front cabinets with framed doors and slab drawers, cabinets of a traditional design that I've seen in a hundred homes. They were to be custom-built to fit the space most efficiently, but otherwise they were modest, paint-grade cabinets.

nerve centerI did not know at the time that no one builds cabinets like these anymore, because they require actual cabinet-making skill to build. The guy our contractor wanted to use came up with a design that used standardized cabinet sizes and cheesy non-mortised hinges; it bore only a passing resemblance to my design. We could have done better at Home Depot.

pictureFinding someone willing to build the cabinets our way proved to be as difficult as it was to find an architect for the project. With unrelenting determination, however, Lydia finally tracked down someone willing to do it our way. In the process, however, my simple paint-grade cabinets became stained-and-varnished maple. In fact, the entire look of the kitchen was upgraded once a solid image of its completed form coalesced in Lydia's mind. I was going for a mid-30s sanitary look, all bright white and chrome, because at the time I came up with the plans I wanted a kitchen that was practical, modest, and easy to clean. I had an aversion to the kind of museum-like kitchens one sees in architecture and design magazines with $100,000 in cabinetry and a similar amount in appliances, open bookcases, hanging plants and the like. Anyone can see that no one who actually uses a kitchen to cook and bake on a regular basis could keep such a kitchen clean without a full-time maid to clean the grease off the books and plants regularly.

shinyHappily for our house, Lydia had more imagination than I. She saw some middle ground between classical and rococo, and as a result the casings, windows and doors will be stained and varnished to match the rest of the house, the oak plank floor stained somewhat darker than natural, and the cabinets stained somewhere in between. The walls have gone from pure white to something a tad warmer, but not enough to suggest anything besides white (to paraphrase Mrs. Blandings). Although these changes entail more work than I had originally planned, I am happy with them, because I was not looking forward to covering all that pretty redwood and maplegranite with paint. Moreover, the transition between old and new will now be much smoother, and the kitchen far more comfortable to be in without being appreciably more difficult to maintain. I only wish she had made the changes before I primed the windows and exterior doors.

The cabinetmaker took a lo-o-ong time but he did a truly nice job. The cabinets are beautiful. I'm going to use a dye stain and a phenolic-resin varnish to bring out the grain pattern of the maple with nothing to obscure it. The cabinetmaker's brother installed the granite, which sets the cabinets off very nicely.


no one ever sees this stuffVirtually all of the concrete work is done, and the driveway is in. The driveway, paved with decomposed granite, has proven to be the most controversial feature of the restoration. It was a lot of work for the contractors, in the grading and also in simply finding a source for the right kind of paving material, and neighbors have questioned both the practicality of the material and the width (eight feet) of the driveway. Both these points have some validity, but we are happy with the driveway nonetheless. If it had been wider, we would have to have taken out more trees, and as I have mentioned, we were unwilling to do this. The decomposed granite allows percolation of water into thAngel Stadium of Anaheime earth, which greatly lessens the impact of the driveway over anything nonporous. The width is adequate, is properly scaled to the house, and provides an infallible sobriety test: anyone who cannot make it down the driveway is in no condition to drive.

Some have said that the driveway will be hard to keep clean, but I think it will actually be easier than concrete. Our foreman informs me that what we used is the same material that is used for baseball infields such as the one in the friendly confines of the Angel Stadium of Anaheim, with a stabilizing material added to keep it from drifting away. At every game we attend, I witness groundskeeping professionals groom this material meticulously using grading rakes and metal-mesh drag mats. While I do have more debris to contend with, I figure that the same procedure will work well for our driveway.


BertoopsStill, there is no way around the fact that the Farm House will always be a high-maintenance property, largely because of all the debris generated by the trees. In some respects this debris is valuable; people pay good money hereabouts for pine-needle mulch and oak-leaf mold. Nevertheless, even pennies from Heaven can be a nuisance in the wrong place. One odd task that I have found I must do on a monthly basis is the sweeping of the roof to remove the accumulation of leaves, pine needles and miscellaneous tree dandruff. If the debris is allowed to pile up, eventually the roof becomes a big compost heap, especially with all this rain we've been having. One would think that the steep roof pitch is sufficient to eject this junk, but it isn't. On the other hand, I have found it is plenty sufficient to eject me If I'm not very, very careful. I'm thinking of getting some rappelling equipment, or perhaps a parachute.

God bless us every oneAfter the driveway came Christmastime, and after that the building of the fence separating the front and back yards. I designed the fence hurriedly one weekend towards the end of the design phase, when our architect suddenly informed me that he needed my fence elevations post-haste for inclusion in the plans. I had a vague idea floating around in my head based upon a fence I had seen in a movie (old movies are a great place to get design cues), but this would have been too ornate for the committee to approve, because they don't want new design elements to emulate period designs too closely. I thus had to streamline the design while keeping it harmonious with the house. This was a tall order for one who cannot draw a straight line, or for that matter a curved one.

So, I studied several design books to learn the Victorian design theories for fences (Victorians did nothing arbitrarily). They followed certain proportions very consistently, proportions that dictated how high and wide the posts should be relative to the pickets. Using these rules, I devised a design that reduced that movie fence to its essential elements: simple square posts with fill of square pickets of alternating height. With the exception of the pyramidal post caps, the entire fence could be built with off-the-shelf dimensional lumber. The architect said the design was great, and the commission approved it without comment, so I gave it no further thought.

wowOur foreman addressed the building of the fence as he does everything, that is, with great care and thoroughness. He very carefully took the measurements from my elevations, laid everything out, and even built a scale replica of one of the gates to work out the details. He eschewed the dimensional lumber for the pickets, choosing instead to mill his own pickets to ensure each one was straight. He beefed up my specifications for the post construction, replacing my steel poles with quarter-inch thick steel beams sunk four feet into the ground.

original fenceAs built, the design proved to be a great success in every regard. It is very efficient in its use of material, requiring almost no waste in terms of leftover wood. The fill is very light, which in combination with the massive posts means that this fence will never, ever sag. There is absolutely no flex nor play in the structure; I threw all my weight against it as a test, and all I got was a sore shoulder: the fence remained motionless. The response from the neighborhood was immediate and uniformly positive. It was a grand fence, befitting a grand house. But there was one little problem.

What I did not know, and what no one told me, is that by law no residential fence in Pasadena can be taller than six feet. The intent is to prevent homeowners from destroying sight lines and access to sunlight, and also to prevent a homeowner from presenting a fortress-like, unfriendly face to the street. These are laudable intentions indeed. Now, my fence was by design very porous visually, but the posts were decidedly taller than six feet. When the inspector came for the final inspection, he took one look at the fence and said, "That fence is way too high."

Once the blood returned to my head, I said, "This exact design was approved by the commission."

He replied, "Oh, they never put a ruler to anything. They just approved the look of the fence." Arrrrrgh. "I'm sure the Planning Department noted it when they vetted the plans."

noneThey hadn't, but the fact is that our architect had noted "6' 0" fence" right on his map of the lot. Now, he could be expected to take a ruler to everything, and so he must have known that my design was over six feet. But he said nothing. He didn't even add a note to this effect on the page containing my elevations of the fence. Our contractor had circled the fence and made his own notation on the approved set of plans, but no one ever works from this set of plans, which are kept in a safe place for inspection. The foreman didn't see the printed notation because he was working from my elevations. So no one noticed that the fence was too high until the inspector enlightened us.

defenestrated fenceAt first I thought, "Well, this is no problem. The fence does not violate the spirit of the law, and city officials misled us regarding its suitability. I'm sure that we can work this out." But this was not a fight we could win, and so I was faced with the galling task of deciding what to hack off where in order to bring the fence into compliance. I hate having my work edited according to someone else's parameters, but if it must be done I'd rather do it myself.

I have no problem per se with the height limitation. If someone had told me in time, I would happily have designed a properly-proportioned fence that complied. But now I was limited by the unmodifiable steel framework the foreman had built for the noncompliant design. I could not lower the top stringer, so there was no way I could maintain the proper proportions. All I could do was direct the foreman to cut the posts down to six feet, and cut the pickets to maintain the high-low motif. There was barely enough room to manage this.


beforeinsipid fenceThe result still looks fine. The foreman did his usual miracle job, so no one will ever know that the fence was ever different, or that it is wildly out of proportion. But I'll know.


afterbeforeWe've chased down most of the hardware we need, and whenever I have a spare moment I attend to the large pile of brass, nickel and iron—taking inventory, sorting it out, rehabilitating it. I especially enjoy the last activity. I find it quite satisfying to take an old lockset, bent from use, choked with rust and blackened with tarnish, and make it shiny and functional again. It's a tribute to Victorian applied science to see how well those Niles mechanisms have held up to a century of abuse. Here and there I find a broken spring, but for the most part all I have to do is clean them up and lubricate them to have them functioning perfectly again, smoothly and quietly, with no adjustment needed.

read it and marvelI was sitting in the dining room sorting out hardware the other day when I noticed a piece of sandpaper that the floor guy had left lying on the floor face down (ahem!). What attracted my notice was a statement printed on the back: "The color PURPLE is a trademark of 3M." Wow. That must be a hard one to enforce.

Front door escutcheonsIn a house and garage with 31 windows and 30 doors, hardware is one of the major matters of the project, especially considering that most of the hardware was missing when we acquired the place. It's a huge job even to keep track of everything we need, to say nothing of acquiring, refinishing where necessary, and installing it. I am fortunate to have had some able help on this front. Our foreman has been invaluable in telling me exactly what hardware we need for applications with which I am unfamiliar, such as the double casement windows and the pass-through doors. Lydia, a master of shopping kung fu, has managed to dig up everything I've asked her to, no matter how obscure the piece. She's also learned how to work a buffing wheel, and has been a great help in polishing the brass pieces.

interior escutcheonsSpecial Farm House kudos go out to our friend Gary and his boss Joe. In their line of work they do a lot of metals casting, plating and finishing, and they are also both old-stuff enthusiasts. We were having a hard time finding all the Niles escutcheons we needed (40 or so) at a remotely reasonable price. Liz's had plenty, but at a price that, with all due respect to that fine and indispensable establishment, was about twice what they are worth. We had managed to get about a half-dozen of them, and were beginning to go farther and farther afield to find more, when Gary suggested that we might have our own cast in brass for a reasonable price. We took him up on his offer, and he and Joe took a great deal of care in getting the job done well. We ended up with beautiful reproductions cast in the high-quality lost wax method, polished and clear-coated, for much less than we would have paid for originals that we would still have had to buff and lacquer. They also plated the tub feet for us, as I mentioned above. For their meritorious service, they are hereby added to the rolls of the Friends of the Farm House.

front doorAs I mentioned above, the foreman performed a miraculous resurrection of our front door, which was horribly and seemingly irreparably damaged by a vandal one Thanksgiving several years back. The rail on the latch side was broken off, a panel cracked, and some molding and fill pieces destroyed. Even the contractor was convinced that the door was unsalvageable. But our foreman long ago took the admonition to keep as much original material as possible to heart, and so he took the time and care to perform breakthrough, life-saving surgery on the door. He set the broken panel, performed a rail transplant, replaced the exterior molding, and milled the remaining pieces himself. The result, when the door is refinished, will be visually 100 per cent indistinguishable from the original. He did similar work on an interior door that had been damaged during the demolition, with similarly miraculous results.

pass-through doorsHe also constructed the pass-through doors to match the look of the passage doors on the dining room side and the cabinet doors on the kitchen side. All the gaps are perfectly straight and at a minimum. When they're stained and varnished, they'll look as if they've always been there.

new mantelpieceHe did a remarkable job of building the replica mantelpiece as well. This was as usual a task that required a great deal of good judgment, because each of the three existing mantelpieces is a bit different from the others, and all four are of slightly different dimensions. This was thus more than a mere copy job. The one thing he was unable to do is replicate the spoon carving, for this is a very specialized skill using special tools and is not satisfactorily reproducible using any other method. I have no doubt that he is capable of the work, but time was a fatal limiting factor in this regard. This is just as well, for it is common practice in restoration when replacing a missing element to do something to indicate that it is not original. This achieves that goal elegantly. There is still much cosmetic work to do on the original insert pieces, but the fireplaces are otherwise functional.

gutterThe gutters were completed a scant hour before a major week-long deluge let loose, a storm that put this rain season in the history books as the third wettest since 1867, when official weather statistics were first recorded. This makes it the wettest winter anyone currently alive has ever lived through in Los Angeles, and the second-wettest the Farm House has seen. Its wettest was the winter of 1889-90, when it was just a year old. So much for global warming. I am very happy to report that the Farm House has come through with flying colors, with not a drop of rain intruding.

The sump pump does most of the drainage work, but the gutter system is an important element in limiting the amount of standing water around the foundation and elsewhere on the lot. Unlike many gutters, these actually add to the appearance of the house, especially the copper ones on the veranda. The other gutters are steel plated with some sort of super-galvanization, and they are all big and half-round with round downspouts. The steel ones will be painted, but the copper will be left to verdigris naturally, as is the Victorian custom. There is a network of drains that conducts the gutter water to the curb, although one downspout that we did not count on still needs to be tied in.

rear entryI have primed all the new exterior wood. I discovered while painting the upstairs bathroom that even though the paint I am using is very good, with the deep colors involved it sometimes takes three coats to achieve complete coverage over white primer. So, I got some pigments and made up some primers tinted to be close to the trim finish colors, green and dark red. Where you see those colors in the pictures, that is where the green and red will go, but where you see white it could be any color, because at certain points I was too busy to stop to tint more primer. It is a slow, messy job.

color studyIt has proven a useful exercise nonetheless, because it has really helped me understand complicated Victorian color theory, and it has given us the freedom to try out our ideas on the house before we spend a lot of money on the finish paint. It confirmed that my scheme for picking out parts of the porch posts in the second trim color works well. It also helped to convince us to go back to something closer to our original paint scheme, which used darker, more reddish body colors: a medium-toned reddish brown for the body color instead of mustard yellow and tan for the shingled gables instead of beige. We lightened the body colors because we were afraid of making the house seem too small, but seeing how the darker trim colors work in the actual light indicated that our original colors were more appropriate. I'm currently doing some color studies so that we can zero in on just the right shades.

Johnny and the Asbury JukesI have also gotten a clear idea of just how big a job the painting of the house will be, especially the second story. The peak of the roof is 24 feet high, and dangling from a ladder with a wet paintbrush in your hand gets unnerving after a while. I learned this while priming the south bargeboard. I was fine, completely at ease up there, until I got past the peak and started down the other side. Suddenly, instead of looking up I was looking down, and I lost my nerve. It's not that I am afraid of the height per se; what gets me is the realization that one false step and I'm painting the ground red. But the worst that happened was that I dropped the brush in the paint, making it a bear to clean later.

Getting a close look up there was quite sobering. Not only is there a lot of scraping and sanding to do, but there is a lot of patching, mending, and driving in of loose nails to do as well. I'm going to need more than a ladder for that.


safety tipsThe dormers were tough at first as well, but the foreman showed me a neato way to make the job safer and easier, if not exactly easy and safe: one lays an extension ladder along the roof line, extending it down to the ground. Then he drives a stake in to keep the ladder from sliding. The ladder then becomes a foothold to keep one from sliding off the roof while painting the dormers. This worked for the side eaves of the garage as well, where the rooflines diverge at the rear extension.


dormersashThere are some areas here and there on the house where I have already applied the finish paint: the fascia boards and trim behind the gutters and the moveable sash in the rear dormers. In fact, these sash are finished on the inside as well, stained and varnished to match the existing interior finish. Later on I'll rub out the varnish in order to even out the sheen, but for now I'm done with them.


The Farm HouseWhen I look at the Farm House I see what the house is going to look like when it's done. But neighbors and frequent passers-by see it differently. For as long as most of them can remember, the house has been a derelict, a boarded-up eyesore with a collapsing veranda. Then, they saw the veranda get torn down, and they had no idea what would happen. From then on, the original house has rematerialized piece by piece, and now it is all back as they remember it, except everything is all nice and straight and complete. In the words of one of the neighbors, a nice lady with a sweet daughter and a great dog who reminds me of our Nellie, "It's like watching the house being reborn." From the beginning, it was common for cars to slow down a bit to look as they drove by. But as more windows were uncovered and more wood painted, the slowing became increasingly pronounced until, once the bay window was open, cars started coming to a dead stop. This unnerved me at first, but I'm beginning to get used to it. She's a real looker.

The next item on my list is the finishing of the kitchen cabinets, so that we can get the tile grouted and the appliances installed. This may take a while.


On to 2005 Updates, Part 2

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