Monday, May 31, 2010

More windows

Both windows on the side of the house have been replaced.

These are the old windows.

These are the new windows.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


The original closet has been removed  to open up space in the foyer.

Two new closets are being added to replace the old one. Increasing storage space was one of our goals.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Old vs New

You can see the difference between the old and new windows.

 The amount of light entering the house will be doubled when the construction completes.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Another First

Earlier this spring, our tree peony finally flowered.We now have another first. Our other peony has also flowered.

We bought a White Flower Farm peony at Stew Leonard's a few years ago. We planted it in a  semi-shady spot and every year it produced leaves but no flowers.

Last fall we moved the peony to a sunny spot and this  spring it has produced several blooms.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Windows Installed

Once the temporary wall was built, the first windows were installed.Originally, there was a sliding glass door in this room.

Now there are 2 windows along the back wall.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I got home from the grocery store and Coop began to whine to go out. Since it had been a few hours since his morning walk, I quickly put the groceries away and called to Coop and Oti to go for a walk.

Coop quickly did his business, but Oti just walked along, not showing any interest in the trees and bushes. After a while I gave up and headed for home.

When I got to the front door, Jeff was coming out. His comment was, "Did the dogs fool you into walking them again, they just went out before you got home!"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Temporary wall

The sliding glass door in the dining room no longer exists.  When the sheetrock was removed, Steve, the contractor immediately recognized a problem.

When the door was originally installed, it seems that the door was too large for the framing. Rather than reframing, the installer cut thru the structural beam to make it fit. Steve said that there was no safe way to easily  remove the door  without the entire wall collapsing.

A temporary wall was built, so the door could be removed and the windows framed.

I asked if this was a unique situation and Steve said no, too many people think they can do-it-yourself and don't realize that construction needs to be done in the right way.

Monday, May 24, 2010


The tile in the foyer has been removed. This makes me extremely happy. The tile had been installed over the hardwood floor and the tile was 2 inches higher than the rest of the flooring. I am always tripping over this.

The original hardwood floor will need some repair, sanding and staining.In spite of that, I still think the floor already looks better than it did.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


When we renovated the upstairs bath, we found out that there was no insulation in this room. That made me wonder if there might be other rooms that were uninsulated.

When I arrived home on the first day of construction, I was happy to see insulation in the dumpster.

In speaking to the contractor, he said that when the front window casing was removed, they noticed there was no insulation along the edge of the window. I said I wouldn't be surprised if there was no insulation  in the wall.

Out came the hammer and sure enough, there was no insulation. I am dumbfounded. Why insulate 2 exterior walls, but not the third ?

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Otis has cancer.

We have had 4 Goldens with 4 different types of cancer. What are the odds of that ? If this were baseball, we would be batting 1000. I am unbelievably tired of hearing that diagnosis.

Oti had his annual vet appointment. This was a simple exam and shots appointment. I asked Dr Duffy to examine a lump on Oti's side. Dr Duffy thought that it was probably a cyst or something benign. However, to be sure, it was aspirated.

Dr Duffy read the slides immediately and came back with the bad news that this is a cancerous tumor. The good news is that it is slow growing and once removed the odds are that Oti will be fine.

I asked Dr Dufffy if we needed surgery immediately or could it wait. My concern is that with the construction going on Oti is completely stressed and hyper-excited. Our vacation is coming up and Oti will be in a kennel (risk of infection). Dr Duffy said that Oti will need to be shaved and have a 3 inch incision on his side. He agreed that it would be ok to wait until we returned from vacation and Oti can recover at home.

In a few weeks, Oti will be having surgery. We are crossing fingers and paws and hoping for the best.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Life in a bubble

We are living in a plastic bubble.

Jeff says  the rooms outside the plastic are like Mars - barren and cold. The kitchen and bedroom would be the space station.

Two people, 2 dogs and 200 sq feet of living space. Will we all survive this 6 week journey into the unknown?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Back to the basement

I am lucky enough to have a job where I sometimes get to work at home.

Unfortunately, during construction, I cannot be at home with all the noise and distractions. While this will be tough on me, it will be harder on Cooper and Otis.

When I am home, the dogs spend the day on the bed. Now, they will be in the basement.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Today was the first day of construction. The house is in shambles.

I keep telling myself that the mess  and disruption will be worth it.....

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Here is the St. Anthony's High School Choir performing "Bridge Over Troubled Water".


The first floor of our home is almost bare. Rugs have been rolled up and moved out as has the furniture.

With each  item that leaves the house, Cooper and Otis grow more anxious. Considering their background, this is not surprising. Coop's family moved away and left him chained in the yard with no food or water. Oti's family had a foreclosure and he was dropped at the pound.

I try to give the dogs extra treats and hugs to reassure them that we are not abandoning them. However, they both look at me with doubtful eyes. Their life experience has taught them that nothing lasts forever.

Now, when I head out of a room, both dogs are on my heels. If I go outside, Coop begins to bark an anxious and desperate call.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Can you hear me now?

I was in the office, spending another night on the phone with Japan, when Coop wandered in. Otis was downstairs with Jeff.

Coop stretched out near my chair. Every few minutes, I would hear thump, thump, thump. Coop was wagging his tail and demanding to be petted. I leaned over gave him a pat and everything was quiet. 10 minutes later, thump, thump, thump.  This went on for an hour.

I looked at Coop, stretched out and content, wanting affection and thought time really can heal some wounds.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Every afternoon, after Carol walks Cooper and Otis, they get a snack. I left 4 milkbones and Carol's check on the counter and headed upstairs to get ready for work.

When it was time to leave, I noticed that Oti did not race downstairs as he usually does. I entered the kitchen and saw that Carol's check was damp and the treats were gone!

I then noticed Oti in the hallway, with his head hung down. It was obvious who stole the milkbones. I guess I should be thankful that he didn't eat the check too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Getting ready

Work on the house should begin next week. Furniture is being moved, photos and breakables are being boxed up.

After construction completes in 6 weeks, the real fun will start for Jeff and I. We are going to do all the painting ourselves!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I like onions too

It seems that Oti also has an attraction to onions.

Cooper and Otis were on the back deck soaking up the sunshine. When I looked out, I saw Oti's head in the onion planter. Unlike Cooper who likes to dig, Oti was eating the dirt!

I yelled at Oti to stop before he got sick. I sighed, prayed for patience and laughed when Oti wandered over with dirt all over his face.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Foxes, Foxes Everywhere

Jeff took Coop and Otis out in the back yard and I heard them both begin to bark. Next came a sound like a cat yipping but louder and sharper.

Jeff came in and said the fox was near the shed and when the dogs began to bark, the fox barked back and then ran off.

A few hours later, the dogs began to howl at the door. I yelled at Coop and Oti to be quiet, but they did not stop. I looked out and did not see anything on the front lawn. However, near the pond was the fox, just sitting and enjoying the scenery.

At night, I can hear the fox barking in the woods that border our yard. I wonder if the fox den is nearby.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Three years ago we planted a tree peony. I was so excited at that time, with visions of our little peony becoming a large tree loaded with flowers.

Unfortunately, the peony has struggled and never flowered. Jeff built a snow cover to protect this fragile tree during the winter, but even that did not help.

This spring, the peony produced a lot of leaves and one single flower. I kept my fingers crossed and made sure Coop and Oti did not get close to it.

Finally, the bud opened and the flower is beautiful. I hope it is not 3 years before we see another one.

Sunday, May 09, 2010


Now that we are getting a new front door, we need a new lockset. We looked at Klaff's which carries Baldwin, but did not find anything we loved.

We saw an Emtek lockset that we both liked. After 20 years of brass hardware, we are changing to oiled bronze. I think this will be a better match with the existing exterior lights.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


Every morning when I leave for work, Otis races upstairs and watches out the bedroom window. All I can see is the top of his head as I drive off.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Sweet Rocket

Thanks to Dot F, our mystery plant has been identified. It is Sweet Rocket (Hesperis Matronalis).

This plant supposedly has a very sweet fragrance,  but I did not notice it. I will have to give it a sniff tomorrow.

Part II - What is it?

The plant/weed in our garden has started to flower. I think it is phlox.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Entry Doors

I have always wanted a wooden front door. However, several contractors said a wood door is not the best option, if the door will be exposed to direct sun. Also, when it is extremely cold outside and warm inside, this can stress the door.

Steel doors were recommended. However, we already have one that I hate so I refused to consider this.

Fiberglass is another option. I have seen fiberglass doors at Home Depot and they did not impress me. I was told that there are much nicer fiberglass doors, so off we went to WindowRama.

Walking in, I saw a Jeld-wen fiberglass mahogany entry door. This door was gorgeous and I thought, I could live with that. When I heard the price was $5K, I realized this was too pricey.

It turns out that mahogany doors are the most expensive. Doesn't that figure !

We found this door by Therma-Tru that we liked and will provide more light into the foyer.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

You make me smile

I love this picture, because Coop and Oti look happy.

Why the smiles and rapt attention? Because they know there is a treat in my hand.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


I am always concerned about hiring a contractor to work on the house. You never know how good a tradesman will be. You can check references, but the contractor does not include unhappy customers on this list.

One of Jeff's associates owns a woodworking and construction company. Steve told Jeff he would usually not consider a project like ours. His preference is for custom cabinetry and woodworking. However, with a slow economy and a payroll to meet, Steve is willing to bid on the project.

I asked Jeff if hiring a friend was a good idea. Will you still be friends when the project is finished ? Jeff said he prefers to have someone he trusts work in our home. I can't argue with that.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A new door ?

Pulling into the driveway, I looked at our home and tried to imagine it with new windows. I saw two things that made me wince.

1 - The stairs and stoop are an eyesore. Replacing them is an extremely expensive and time consuming project. Not much we can do about this one.

2 - Our 40 year old metal door. This door is ugly and has low energy efficiency. No light comes thru the door which makes the foyer dark.

When Jeff got home, I suggested replacing the door. We are currently discussing adding this item to our renovation.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Onion Lover

You may recall that last week Cooper dug out our onion planter. After that, I refused to let Coop back outside, to protect the bulbs.

It was another beautiful day and Coop sat crying by the back door. I looked into his big sad eyes and relented. As I opened the door, I said you better not dig! I think Coop stuck out his marble tongue as he raced out.

I checked on him 5 minutes later and once again, there were onions and dirt everywhere. I cleaned up the mess and blocked his access to the onion pot. I then went back inside.

I looked out and he was now digging in ANOTHER flower pot. I called Cooper inside and vowed "never again"!