Friday, September 09, 2011

While the cat is away...

It all seems like a blur now. 
Bernie is back home again; he was gone for seventeen days...the longest we have ever been apart since we got married thirty five years ago.
He has been working in his South Carolina office on a major proposal that required his physical presences instead of his usual electronic/conference call presence at corporate headquarters.

He had barely blown into Greenville when Hurricane Irene began threatening the east coast. 

Seventeen days ago Irene was touted as being headed straight for South Carolina.  That was an interesting idea; not something to really worry about because Greenville is on the western South Carolina border, but still...power outages and flooding might have been a bit of a problem

As we now know, Irene had other plans that didn't include South Carolina after all.

Bernie also got to experience the Virginia/East Coast rare earthquake while he was back there.  Oh the strange fun just never seemed to end those first few day. 

As usual, he was fine.  Nothing to fuss about at all.

Not fussing or getting very excited about things is a natural part of Bernie's personality.  That is a very useful character trait in his business which in addition to managing the physical needs of major facilities (think automotive factories, airports, college campuses, stadiums...) he also responds to facility crisis both large and small.
He is hazardous material certified and could tackle and provide direction for addressing  a wide array of "unthinkable" facility issues. 
His job is evaluating projects before his company begins to answer a "RFP"...that is a "request for proposal" to contract with a company to manage their facility/facilities.

Once it is determined that his company is willing to "propose" or bid on a project, Bernie's evaluations are part of the cost work up.  He writes proposals with a team, in the end producing a proposal document the size of a medium sized telephone book.

Usually the proposal document is completed in two to three weeks, and includes graphics, text, charts, legal, engineering and financial aspects, each detail of which needs to be correct...both factually and typo free.

To say that an RFP cause a hurricane like effort to blow into corporate would not be too big of an exaggeration.  The co-ordination of multiple teams is challenging. 

Imagine trying to publish a two hundred+ page text heavy book, going from "Let's do it!" to "It has gone to press" in a scant three weeks.

Late Wednesday night Bernie flew home, and I *think* the project is being printed today.  He semi-relaxed yesterday, joining in on a few last minute conference calls to put the proverbial bow on the project.

Today it is back to work for him at another level: He is playing in the International Facilities Management Association golf tournament here. The weather is cool and what an improvement over the 98% humidity 95 degree weather he has ducked in and out of in So. Carolina.

Bernie worked 12-14 hour days back there.  So what did I do with my "extra" time while he was gone?

Well, while the "cat" was away, this "mouse" worked her tail off!

First project: strip all the paint off the metal band of the deck  planters, re-stain the water fountain, Rust-o-lium paint the bands and water seal all the wood.

Did I mention those first days had 100 degree temps? 
Double ugh.

I knew the project had to be done soon as the metal bands were beginning to rust (after only one year!) and the longer I waited to strip the flimsy paint off and put a rust inhibitor on the bands the greater was the chance that the bands would rust through.
Chips and flakes of rusty paint and splashes of semi transparent stain spangled my sweaty face for a couple of days.
Next project:  Hacking the hedge out front.  We have been discussing removing it and creating a conifer/grass landscape design.

The hedge goes leafless in winter and the winter grazing local deer usual strip it down to a mess by March.

After squinting and staring at the hedge for a bit I decided it was time to take action.

Borrowing our son's heavy pruners, I dug in...
Should have done this years ago!  I continued on, hacking down the hedges under the bedroom windows too.

Funny thing: I have had "meh"  to "Yuck"  feeling about the stone work out front ever since I first laid eyes on the house.  The combo of the brick color and the stone color just clashed in my humble opinion.

Bernie LOVED the stone work...

Weirdly, once the hedge was gone I suddenly liked the stone work after all.

I think that's because now I can see all of the stone work so the composition seems more balanced.

You  might recall two years ago when Bernie built a fence around our trash area, with Tiggie FOC providing snoopervision.
The plain unstained wood was grounds for me to use my self imposed no nag rule of thumb:
Mention a project three times, then do it myself.
I pointed out that an unstained/unsealed wood fence would soon become a dingy gray wood fence.
I pointed out that winter snow was hard on an unstained/unsealed wood fence.
I pointed out that after a year it still needed to be stained/sealed.

After the second year I shut up and took action myself.
It actually is a pretty good sized bit of fencing, as long as the house is deep, but oh how glad I am to see it at long last finished!
(Using a paint roller and oil based stain/sealer is not rocket science!)
While I had the stain out, I also re stained the front porch posts.
I totally dug how much better they looked stained a deep tone after looking at a rather faded redwood tone for the past three years. 
I harbor no illusions that the conifer/grass landscaping will be done this I also put in a few bed of flowers.
I saved another project for the hottest hours: Repainting our downstairs hallway, which somehow had managed over time to be painted several colors of beige or cream, plus having floor moulding in done a couple of colors too.
I had told Bernie I was determined to get the hallway repainted while he was gone.
The thing is....while I was taking a breather on the cool downstairs couch and going through some magazines to toss, I came across a couple of painting that totally inspired me.


 I cut the pictures out and stuck them on the downstairs family room's blah beige walls and looked at them several times a day.
Then I got out my paint chip book and started putting up colors on the wall.
Three days later I headed to the paint store for a quart of olive green paint...just to do a trial bit by the downstairs fireplace.

The room originally was painted black brown on the lower wall, and stark white on the upper walls, in what was promoted as a designer touch.
If you were reading my postings back while I was insane and trying to scrape all the paint off the knotty pine paneling, you will recall I finally gave up on the chemical stripper and gave into painting the walls the color of creamy hot cocoa.
Which I immediately hated as it seem so dark.
So then I painted it a beige...pale bandaid color.
Which I immediately hated as it seemed so blah.
So then I painted it a shade called buttermilk.
Which I liked...but the room still seemed totally unappealing.
Oddly painting a room nearly white really didn't seem to make it look much brighter.
(The room has one western facing window and a bit of view out the slider into the garden from Bernie's home office.)
These pictures were taken two years ago; since then I have simplified the room furnishing and art work to a bare minimum.

One more issue with the room:
When we moved here with our "Everything is Bigger in Texas" furniture, it turned out that said furniture would not fit through the doorways of a Utah house built in the 1954 small scale furniture era.
Over three years ago Bernie ripped out a doorway while the movers stood outside so the couch and chair could get inside.
He promised he would fix the door way asap.
I thought those letters meant "As soon as possible".
Apparently that is not what those letters mean to him...and so the ragged door way has served to irk me for three years, while the same door way doesn't bother him a bit. is a doorway...without a door...if one can walk through is a working doorway...what's the problem?
(Have I mentioned the story about the cobbler's children having no shoes, and the Certified International Facility Manager's wife gets a parallel fate?)

I digress...
Color wheels: So useful!  The olive green of our huge upholstered furniture is across the wheel color from our mahogany colored wood furniture and fireplace brick.
Put across the across the color wheel colors side by side and Ta-Dah! 
Yet cozy!
I had selected our carpet specifically because it has bits of olive green in the low shag.  While the walls were beige/white the green element had disappeared.  Once I painted, the green popped in the carpet again.
Interesting...I hadn't expected that to happen.
(And no, it wasn't because I had dribbled painted on the carpet).
Bernie thought I was taking a really long time to paint the hallway when we spoke each night for a couple of nights and I kept saying I was painting downstairs.
Hee hee...I was determined the new color would be total surprise to him when he finally got home.

Somehow the green even seems to mellow out the  trendy 1954 era lilac pink mortar color.
I have noticed after at least six years of digital photography that every color in nature looks great with green.
That bit of gained wisdom also convinced me to go with green wall.
The baseboards have also been through several paint jobs: Originally they were painted black, we then tried cocoa colored paint,  and then tried buttermilk on part of the room and then we just plain old gave up.
The green walls looked best with a crisp buttermilk white trim; the cocoa colored moulding had to go away all over.
I couldn't move the desk set so I just painted around those wall area. Those walls and baseboards are hidden for now but will get a coat of the new color when the first day of NEVER comes around at which time we will move the heavy set and finish up.

(I will make sure we have a sealed quart of olive colored paint tucked away so after the EMTs drag our lifeless120 year old bodies out of the house and so our by then 97 year old kids sell our furniture and put our house on the market they can be the ones to finish painting up those last little areas...)

Actually the plan is to *someday* (when time/money/energy all align) we will have the ceiling torn down, new lighting put in and re plastered, the paneling will also be torn down, those exterior wall finally insulated better, and those walls will be plastered, so there is a good chance everything will need to moved out and the whole room will be repainted at that time anyway.
Higher on the "to do" list: Get a gas line to the fireplace so we can have cozy fires without the mess. 
And of course getting that darn ripped out door fixed....

It wasn't until I was all done that I noticed that our neighbor's house trim color was almost the same shade of green as I had just painted our room.
The pine trees and leafy outdoors and their color all seem to be part of the room now.
Another bit of "odd": we happen to know from dabs of paint behind outlet covers that the original 1954 era paint color for the upstairs was almost this exact same shade of green.
Do houses have color wishes?

A few more glimpses that might be interesting to family and friends who have visited the room in person in the past.
Posted by PicasaCan you sort of see how the inspiration pictures got translated into the look of the room?
Can't wait to have a warm fire down here and snuggle up together during the fall football games.
So what did Bernie think when he saw the room?
Well, I had planned to wait until the next morning after he got home...ten at night after flying most of the day with layovers and such...not a time to spring new ideas on an exhausted traveler.
As he was getting ready to go to bed I told him I was going to go downstairs to check the doors to make sure they were locked.
For some reason he came down about three minutes behind me.
I had left the wall that you see when coming down stairs alone; he wouldn't be able to tell there were any changes until he stepped off the stairs and turned.

I watched as he walked down, turned and froze.
I held my breath: Would he like it?
(I have mentioned that my husband is a phlegmatic...he doesn't get easily excited nor is he particularly expressive about things.  An evenly spoken "Nice" is his equivalant to my "Oh WOW!  That is AMAZING!  I LOVE This!!!!! Squeal!" 
It has taken me years to get used to his understated ways of reacting).

If I remember right, this time he said a quiet "wow".
I waited for more...and waited.  He stood there and stood there and stood there.

I finally had to ask: "So do you like it?"
He liked it.
And the more time he stood there the more he liked it.
And the next day in the morning and afternoon he told me again how much he liked amazing it was...
And said it made the room feel real for the first time.
Funny...that was what I had thought too. The room finally felt like it was part of the house, instead of just a big room that we really didn't like very much.
Two quarts of paint, inspiration, a bit of daring and some hard work (painting around the baseboards and under the desk was not easy...)was all it took to take the room to where we now feel right at home.
He also told me how he had wondered why I was taking so long to get the hall painted.
And he asked me if I had done something to the fireplace hearth, it looked different somehow.
I hadn't even touched it!

Bernie's home office with one of his four office assistants on standby.
(The South Carolina team actually all know about Hart, Bitsy, Tate and Frenchie, and me too now). 
In case someone is wondering about the orange accents in the room: The door at the foot of the stairs goes into my crafts room which came with orange tile. I like orange so I went NCIS on it, and painted the walls orange too. 

Orange walls work on the set of top TV show in America and I think they work just great in my craft's room too.

When the door is left open the family room orange accents tie the whole view together, in my own opinion that happily is shared by my equally orange loving Bernie.

The hall did get to be painted all one color.
It did make a difference; now it feels like part of the house too instead of being a weirdly painted passage way.
The art work for covering over the electrical panel on the wall is still being re thought.
One end of the hall leads to my now wonderful laundry room
Middle door of the hall goes to my hat room.
The last door leads to the final house re-decoration project:

The downstairs 3/4 bath that for some reason ALL of our guests race to use.
Currently the wall are a sponged two tone beige that matches the oatmeal colored huge floor tiles.
I have been looking for inspiration for this room too.
What goes with turquoise tiles?
Color wheel opposite  says coral pink.
(Too Florida tropical for my tastes...)
The next to turquoise colors would be either periwinkle blue, or lime green.

(Again...too Florida-ish).
I am thinking buttermilk...maybe a very pale turquoise on the walls, with espresso colored paint on the cabinets.
Our tropical plants winter in this room.
Our cats chomp down kibbles in this room for now...
I know I will be putting a large mirror on the wall facing the sink.
Other than that...nada clues.
But wait!
I almost forgot!

I also...

Sanded down our dinning room table to bare wood...
Put wood conditioner on the wood, then three coats of urathane stain.
The table is eleven years old, and the original finish was flaking and blotching.
I found myself considering using a table cloth to hide the flaws, but decided I really prefer the wood over cloth.
It was a huge messy job which had to be done inside (the table was too heavy to manhandle out to the garage, although I did do the work on the leaf out there).
Even with a self vacuuming obital sander the wood dust coated everything nearby in the house.
Since it was still hot, the AC was sucking the dust in and blowing it back out too.
Glad that job is done.
So now you know what the "mouse" did while the head "cat" was away.
Oh, and I also had an emergency root canal done.
And strained my ribs apparently which feels a lot like a heart attack in the middle of the night...
A chest Xray and an EKG the next morning showed all was fine in the heart department, and some IB 800 tabs should take care of the pain.
Which, along with the root canal pain killers and antibiotics did resolve the hurt while at the same time causing rapid irregular heart beats, to the tune of 187 beats per minute cycling randomly down to 40 bpm then 118 bpm then 60 and so on and so forth until the meds finally cleared my system.
I am fine now, and after over a week of not blogging was ready to post an update.
As soon as Bernie gets home we are going to go see a movie.
I plan to have some fun and to avoid doing any more projects around here.
That is, at least until the next time he goes out of town!

(PS:  I wasn't exaggerating when I said I worked my tail off.
Six pounds...gone in just 17 days. Oh yea!)