Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Tiles to match existing floor.
We cannot believe how quickly the renovations are moving now. Demolition, for today, is complete. So complete in fact, that the crew has quit for the day and Larry has them on our pontoon boat fishing. "Oh, he has one," Larry tells me when I call him. "Never mind. He lost it," he then says. I called him after he texted me pictures of the latest lakehouse changes, and asked for my opinion on a tile color.

The crew showed up again this morning and moved our painted cupboard and hat rack out to the shed (garage). Then, they moved the loveseat, kitchen table and chairs.

Last night Larry took all the living room curtains down except from the window behind the television, in case he gets to watch TV in the afternoon. The bright light from that window washes out the picture.

Now all Larry has is a sofa, hassock, table with a lamp; our bed, nightstands and bureau. He didn't mention if my father's bureau has been moved, so I am assuming it still sits in our bedroom. This bureau is the last piece of my parents' bedroom furniture that I kept because it was the perfect size for our small lakehouse bedroom. I gave the rest of the set to my great niece, Hannah. Larry's plan is to stay at the house until Friday. Then the remaining furniture will be moved out as well. After the remaining furniture is gone, Larry will begin sleeping at his brother's house in Chapin, and commute to the house each day.
Back Bedroom

Unexpected Guest
The pumphouse roof has been removed. The concrete pad outside under the kitchen window is now gone as well. The workers left that part of the pad in front of the door. The two guest bedrooms have been stripped to the rafters and framing. We learned there are trusses in the ceiling, and they found a snakeskin lurking up there. "Why was that up there do you think," I asked my husband. "To eat the mice he said." "Of course," I add. Duh.

To hold our hanging clothes, Larry decided to make a rack on wheels in the shed. He proudly announced it only cost $35 to build. "We couldn't buy one for that price," he adds. I have to agree. It's a beautiful piece. He is a very talented man, and I am grateful for all his talents that save us and our children money. He can fix or make anything. And, he has a Ph.D. in Physics! Braun and brain. I am one blessed woman!

Lastly, he texted me a picture of "Libby's Rose". This is a rose bush that his late sister, Libby, saved a cutting of from a friend, rooted, and I planted with her and her husband, Ed. It only bloomed a single rose once a few months before she died. She never got to see it in person, so when it bloomed, I brought a picture on my phone to her in the hospital. It's real name is a "Confederate Rose". I renamed it for her. We noticed on coming to the lake this trip that there were three buds on the plant. It has finally settled into it's rooted home and grown quite a bit in the past couple of years. It's taken two years to get here, and I hoped it would bloom before I left. Two of the buds bloomed this morning. In the morning, the blossoms are white, and in the afternoon they are pink. It is one of the loveliest plants I have ever seen, and seeing these blooms makes me so happy. I have to believe Libby is smiling down on us now, both because of this rose, but also because we are proceeding with our lakehouse renovations. We just wish she could be here to enjoy it all with us. I sure could use her advice now and again.

While he is out on the boat with the work crew fishing, I peruse the security cameras and tell him, "A big machine just showed up in the yard. They're taking the dumpster away." He tells the crew the dumpster is gone, and a much larger one will be delivered. Sitepack should be coming today or tomorrow before the rains come to level the driveway.

Larry told me that he and Bill, our GC, decided to take out cinder block walls on the gable ends of the kitchen (which was the original cottage). They decided it would be easier building a new roof after completely ripping off the old one if all the walls of the entire house were the same height. "That sounds logical," I add. Once the house is completely empty, more panelling will be removed and ceiling. No mold was found in the back bedrooms to our surprise, and not much mouse/spider poop, which we expected. There were lots of multi-legged little critters crawling around in there though. "Oh goody," I say.

P.S. We have found four, count them four, very deep and large hornet nests in the ground around the property. Poison hasn't hurt them at all. So, the one that they found directly in front of the pumphouse door, that Larry has been walking over repeatedly without incident (incredible!), was dowsed with gasoline and set ablaze. That's the end of the hornets!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Things are actually happening!

Last Friday, Larry and I signed the renovation contract with our GC (General Contractor), and gave the 15% deposit. We did add a kitchen to the final renovation, but I agreed to let Larry do the master bathroom himself. We'll see how all this goes. Maybe once he sees how efficiently and quickly the renovation happens, hopefully, he'll let the GC's subcontractors do that too. Fingers crossed.

The next day I left for RI. Larry spent the day attending our nephew's baseball games in SC and when he returned home in the late afternoon, the gate was closed, the driveway entry was widened and a dump truck and backhoe were left in the yard. We never expected things to begin the very next day, even though I told Bill, our GC, that it could. Sunday brought more levelling work and the excavation of a large garden area where a sunroom will be and the cutting of several trees hanging over the roof. Monday brought a new drain pipe at the driveway entrance that was cemented to the old one, and more excavation., Larry told me one worker and his father lay "broken-tile mosaic" flooring. The worker chiseled out a sample of the existing tile so he can match the color along with a couple of bricks to match those too. This is all so exciting.

Today, as I sit with my coffee in RI, I can watch my husband and at least five workers on the security cameras. I called Larry, because now I feel like I'm there with him. A brown paper path was taped to the kitchen floor, and I watched men come and go with strips of faux panelling as they pealed it off the back bedroom walls. As Larry and I talked, I could hear a sledge hammer banging. A worker began breaking up the concrete entryway outside the old-fashioned way: pure muscle power. Larry told me the driveway will be covered in "sitepak" today to level it because it will rain towards the end of the week. Rain will help compact the material and harden it naturally.

It is so exciting to have the renovation begin so quickly, and see the differences already. Money moves processes. There you have it, folks.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

And so it begins...

Garden to be removed and room added.
This is the first time we've renovated a house we live in. The dynamics of planning such a project are daunting at best. Everything has to be packed up and moved out to prepare for ripping off the entire roof, but when we are still using the house until that day comes, what does one leave in tact: a dish, a glass, a pot; one spoon, knife, fork; a sofa, a twin bed, a TV and cable. Larry will be doing some glorified camping at the lake house until the demolition guys show up, and I have to hope he doesn't get too lonely or hurt himself in this remote area while I'm gone with the pups. We leave on Saturday to return to RI, so I can continue with chorus. I am so conflicted about leaving him, but he is encouraging me to go and continue with an activity that brings me such joy. My husband is the best!

Packing has begun and has to be finished in two days. Last minute items will be left for Larry to take care of, but I am having such trouble letting go of wanting to control the entire process. I'll do it, but not without some pain. Larry's brother, Billy, is taking half a day off from work today to help him break beds down and pack mattresses in sleeves. Yes, they make mattress sleeves for storage. This was news to us, but welcomed. We've packed mattresses in plastic with duct tape, and it is much harder. I'll be packing lamps and linens, while finishing up the kitchen and the utility closet. I have to pack all our clothes, and the dilemma is: wash them now or later? I've decided later will do. Maybe I can actually use my new laundry room to do it when it's all done and we move back in, rather than spend a day at the laundromat.

Our first big project has been completed and has made this entire renovation real to us for the first time. We have been talking about renovating this lake house for so many years, we were convinced it would never happen. Granted, we are renovating it to sell when the market comes back, but we will get to enjoy a new house until it does sell. We realized in February, that we lost about four feet of shoreline from erosion. We've been losing land slowly over time, but this past year was the worst. So, we hired a company and this week they brought in little machines that moved and planted sixty tons of fill, cloth to keep it in place, and covered it with eighty tons of rock. The area to which we added rip rap was never covered, and it is way past time. It looks beautiful, and in the process we gained about eight feet of land back. That doesn't sound like much, but it is. Rip Rap: check! Our list has begun.
Dance of the Machines

Yellow and Black Garden Spider
The renovation truly became real yesterday when Bill, our General Contractor, came buy with the window/door guy. Bill chipped out a brick from under one of the bedroom windows outside, and we saw the flimsy construction inside. No wonder that back bedroom gets musty and the most critter invasion of any other room in the house. There's nothing behind the faux-panelling but cinder blocks with holes! This house will be so much different when new windows are installed with real framing surrounding them, and insulation. Once Bill chipped out that brick, we knew this project was real and going to happen. And so it begins.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hurry Up and Wait!

Once we got a builder here in SC, and Larry completed his designs, we applied to the bank for a refinance to get a cash-out amount of money for our lake house renovations. The bank process dragged on way longer than we liked, and was much more painful than we expected. But, finally, we got our check, and now we are raring to go.

We contacted our builder that we had the money and were ready to sign a contract and schedule the build. We are still waiting for him to complete "the numbers". We have a tentative start of early to mid-November, and an appointment next Wednesday morning to meet with a window guy. We cannot afford the kind of renovations we wanted, so the builder is working hard to save us money. We really appreciate him.

We came down here now to pack up the house, so I can continue with chorus rehearsals in RI. I don't want to wait until November because the closer we get to the concerts, the more I need rehearsals. So, we came down to "get 'er done", but I contracted a bad cold and have been laid up with zero energy to pack. I have to just remain calm and know that I'll get it all done. I have to get well, and my energy back, so I can do what I need to do. Just breathe. It'll all be fine.

This is the stress that is beginning to build. We will be tearing the roof of the house, so it has to be emptied. Larry will remain here after I leave with the pups to be present for much of this project. He will come to RI as often as he can, and I will come back to SC as often as I can. We will fly when we have to and drive the rest of the time. It's going to be a stressful year, but one well worth it once the house is complete.

But, right now, we are getting the impression that this process will drag on longer than we like. Life is a little slow in the South, I know. And, the Yankee in me is chomping at the bit to get a move on. But, I have to take a step back, and realize I cannot control everything. Again. I can nudge it along, but I cannot make it happen. I just hate that!

In the meantime, I have to get better and get packing! I have to let go of the anticipation of chaos that will be the lake house and our yard until it's all done. We can replant later if need be. I worry if I should cut back our beautiful, huge Oak Leaf Hydrangea beforehand or wait to see how it has been damaged and cut off that part later. What Dogwood trees do I have to let go of emotionally? What Azaleas will get run over by huge truck tires? I have to let it all go and realize that in the end, it will be a little different than it was, but just as beautiful. Change is hard, but a good thing all the same.

The changes we make to this house will also make it more attractive to prospective buyers in the future. We will get to enjoy living in a newer house with all the amenities, like laundry facilities and clear water (instead of orange from iron-ore bacteria), and later we will have a greater chance of selling it. Selling it is our ultimate goal. Our life needs to downsize and simplify, but this "hurry up and wait" stuff is driving me nuts!