December 23, 2014

Of Ponds and Parking

It took three days (and a big chunk of money) but we now have a surface on our driveway and our parking lot is ready for the 2015 art classes.

Until now, with only having a caliche driveway, there wasn't much point in trying to keep our vehicles clean, but now it's time to give them a much needed bath.

Layers of sprayed sealer act like glue to hold all the crushed stone in place. There are actually many colors in the stone that was used, but the overall effect when those colors visually blend together will fool your eye into thinking it's all one color, but the end result is a color that is a pretty close match to the shingles on the roof of the house.

We love it when a plan comes together.

Thanks to Joe Stevens and his crew for a job well done. If there's a paving job in your future, check out his website.





We've had another meeting with our pond builder and spray painted lines to mark where it's edges will be, along with the location of the waterfalls and the bog. The build is likely to start early next month. I can already envision artists lined up with their easels in the shade on the patio, doing paintings of the pond and waterfalls. I've taken some photos from the patio (looking between the posts) and stitched them together in Photoshop so you can get an idea of what the "Before" view looks like. Stay tuned for the progress photos next month.

The bypass around Florence has been completed so that makes it much easier to get to points like Georgetown and Austin, and even the Florence Diner, our newest favorite place to eat out. It's not fancy, but the food's good and so are the prices. If you're local you can find out more by clicking here.

And Sunday was the winter solstice and the evening sunset was gorgeous.

But there was an even better one the following evening.
And they just keep on coming!

And we wish all of our readers
the Brightest and Best of the Holiday Season
with the hope your 2015 will be as exciting as ours.

November 27, 2014

Settling in and Getting Ready for the Holidays

It's been awhile since the last post, but that's for two reasons. Being in "nesting mode" has kept us busy with what seems to be an ever growing To Do List, and not having a working computer for more than five weeks was the other problem. At least that's our story and we're stickin' to it. But this being Thanksgiving we get to take a day off so we'll use today to catch up on the posting.

So what's been going on? A lot. Some good. Some not so good.

Well when last we posted, the old house was just going on the market. Eleven days later we had a full price offer but with a contingency of the buyer first selling their home. But everything happened in our favor and we finally closed on the house on the 14th. Unfortunately we couldn't find a buyer for our 10 beautiful koi so we had to let them convey with the house. But we'll be starting work on a new pond in the spring and then we'll start all over with a new batch of koi.

I've spent a lot of time in the barn getting organized. In our hasty move so many things were just parked in the barn and it quickly took on the appearance of a bizarre kind of warehouse. When I realized how much time I was wasting looking for the tools and things that I needed to get other things done I thought it would be best to focus on resolving all that so I could find the things I needed when I needed them. That worked well until the weather got so cold that it was too cold to work in the barn, so lately I've started skipping down the list to items that don't require much "barn time".

But the biggest time sink has proved to be waiting on all the tradesmen that have had to be scheduled for one reason or another.

We've had trouble with our water system; the Nuvo water softener was not meant to get rid of the "rotten eggs" smell of sulfur in the water from the well, so we called the plumber back and he ended up installing two charcoal filters (one for the house line and one for the barn) in our wellhouse. But we found we still had no hot water in the kitchen and a bad odor of sulfur from any hot water tap. Eventually we ended up getting a defective hot water heater replaced with a new one and having a new anode rod installed in the other one. So we finally have hot water available where it's needed and no more rotten eggs smell.

Window treatments, for 21 windows/doors, have been hung, but in the first delivery there was a shade that wasn't what it was supposed to be. (How a pair of grey shades for my studio doors showed up as one grey and one pink is a mystery to me.) But not much later one of them in the living room stopped working properly and was stuck half way closed. (Half way opened?) When a different installer showed up with the grey replacement for the pink one he also found the stuck shade was now damaged along with a couple more that weren't tracking properly and he's reordered replacements for them. Delivery is scheduled for this coming Tuesday.

There was a glitch with the whole house audio system. It's set up so that (after an app was installed in our cell phones) we're supposed to be able to use our phones as remote controllers to turn the various audio zones on and off and adjust volumes up and down. Well that just wasn't happening because our cell phones were never able to connect to the server on the internet where these functions were available. When we called the company they told us that we needed to increase our bandwidth on our internet connection. So we called our internet service provider and bumped up the speed from 2 to 3.5 "whatever internet speeds are measured in". Didn't help. Called the audio company. Sent a guy out. Still couldn't get it working. So he UNinstalled the apps on our phones and did another download to reinstall them. Now they're working like they should.

And then there was the night the police showed up. Getting ready for bed, we armed the house security alarm. Got into bed and Kirk remembered he'd left something on in his art studio. But when he went over there he forgot the alarm was on so naturally, opening the door triggered the alarm, but having stepped out of the house he couldn't hear the beeping from the alarm panel. Rocki made a mad dash for Kirk's cell phone to turn off the house alarm but wasn't quick enough. So there was another mad dash the length of the house to turn it off at the control panel. Too late again! Then the security company called in response to the alarm signal they'd received. We explained what happened and they said "Oh, okay, but we need to verify that you are who you say you are so just tell us your passcode word." And do you think either of us could remember what it was? Of course not. So they said, "... sorry, but we're required to dispatch the police." Half an hour later the police car drove right past our gate, stopped, turned around and came back just as the second police car arrived. So I got to meet a deputy for the local Sheriff's department and we had a really nice long chat. When Kirk said how sorry he was that they had to come out the deputy said "I'd rather come up here 100 times to nothing than come once to a real problem." What a great guy.

As for settling in to our new place, we move along at whatever pace suits our fancy and it's all good, because now the fall colors are coming in and the valley is looking gorgeous. And we're expecting an infestation of Christmas lights to start showing up any evening now.

But now that the weather is warming a bit the barn is more organized and we'll be able to turn our attention to the house. Should be in a much more liveable space after the holidays, and then it'll be time for other things, like scheduling more tradesmen for fencing, landscaping, an entry at the driveway with a secure gate and other new adventures.

In the meantime, we get to enjoy an ever-changing array of sunsets.

September 21, 2014

Working Toward Getting Settled In

It's been an interesting two weeks (or so?) since our last post.

We've finally got the mantle installed over the fireplace. Kirk did the staining and overcoating himself. We can hardly wait to see what it'll look like when it's decorated for Christmas.

If you're wondering why you haven't been invited up for a visit, it's because we're still waiting on delivery of the things that were damaged by the movers during the move and are still being repaired. That would be a couple of dining room pieces.

We've started landscaping in front of the house but the recent rain we are so grateful to have had, has slowed progress a bit and the front "yard" is pretty much a sea of mud right now. (No picture, it would just be boring.)

We're trying desperately to be ready for an Open House prior to deer season, but we're not sure we can make it.

Our old house will have a 'for sale' sign on it tomorrow and the listing will be posted this week. Wish us luck.

September 02, 2014

New Beginnings

Yes, we know it's been awhile since our last post, but our focus has been on getting out of our previous home, and we're just about done with that. We expect to complete all that this week. Now we have to select a real estate agent and develop a marketing strategy.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (as they say), at the top of the list is installing a temporary mailbox until the new entryway is completed, because we've already committed ourselves to our new address, because of Rocki's attempt to customize her car and finally finding something to replace it with.

So we turned a seven year old Chevy Aveo into a new Buick Verano.

But we had an omen of good faith when this rainbow showed up last Friday. Being as open as our view is here we can't wait to see what Mother Nature will visit us with next. We're seeing jackrabbits, (who don't hop like Eastern cottontails, but instead actually run) and day after day we're seeing roadrunners not just on our property but throughout the valley.

And .... the mailbox has been planted!
So the score on the Projects List is now
Kirk 1
List 4,386
But it's all good. One day at a time.

July 28, 2014

Moving In

We took possession of the house on July 10th and we've begun moving in gradually. Each time I go there to work on something I take a truckload of something with me.

I'd had such a good result with the peel and stick tiles that I put down on the bathroom floor in the barn that I decided to use them in a couple of places in the house; the closet that's off of the garage and also in my studio office.


The new bedroom furniture was delivered, and so was the refrigerator, so we decided to spend Saturday night there. After eight o'clock we made our way up to the second floor balcony to watch the sunset and take some pictures. Here are a couple of nice shots that I managed to get.

In this shot our driveway is visible in the lower left.

This is the first of many sunsets that we'll be enjoying in the years to come.

But the biggest surprises were finding out
how amazingly quiet it was up there on the mountaintop at night
watching all the private property security lights popping on all over the valley below.
That made for a pretty sight. We're wondering what the valley will look like at Christmastime.

July 06, 2014

The Final Week

There hasn't been much to take pictures of this past week because all the activity has been so detail oriented. Painters have been doing touch ups and a lot of cleaning has been going on, including using lacquer thinner to get the paint off of door hinges and other places it's not wanted. So the whole house has been filled with that wonderful aroma for several days now. But there hasn't been anything going on that would make for exciting pictures.

The barn swallows have already left the nest so I was able to remove the nest and do the much needed clean up on the balcony. We're glad that we could do our part to help them out this year, but in future we'll be taking steps to encourage them to seek a different building site.

But during this past week the county was working on the road so it was closed for a couple of days, so I had to take a detour that took me west of the property where I'd never been before, and I got to see what the place looks like from about a mile and a quarter away.


 So I stopped and took a couple pictures. This one with a short lens that gives you a sense of where the house sits, out there on that high spot on the horizon ....


  ... and this one, taken with a longer lens and zoomed in tight shows more of the house's details and how the driveway ascends the hill.


 AND ... the good news is that, after rigorous testing, the Ranch Foreman has given his Seal of Approval on the new carpeting!





So we'll be having a walk through with the supervisor Monday the 7th. After a couple of days to fix any issues that turn up, we're scheduled to take possession on Thursday the 10th.

July 01, 2014

Some Minor Setbacks

In our last post the concrete for the flat work was just arriving so it's all finished now. The expansion joints are made with redwood boards. Maybe we'll paint the exposed top edges with the trim color from the house. Or maybe some other color. Or maybe not.
The sink was installed in the utility room.
(Sorry for the bad cell phone picture.)
Early last week the air conditioners were installed. These two service the upstairs and the studio. There's a third one behind the garage that takes care of the first floor of the house. They were all started up and allowed to run overnight and into the next day to make sure they were working properly. (Hmmmmm ... well guess what...)



The past week was fraught with a couple of "do overs".

On Wednesday it was discovered that apparently there was too much "static air pressure"? in the air return from the house to the air handler in the garage attic which caused condensation to go where it shouldn't, which damaged the ceiling in the garage. But that was all repaired by the next day. And the A/C guys were back again just yesterday to get it adjusted so it wouldn't happen again.


 On Tuesday it was also discovered that the rough in plumbing installed in the walls for the showers in the master bath shower ... (left)

... and the studio (bottom half) were not the right kind for the faucets that were chosen. So the plumbers were in the midst of tearing out the tile and drywall so they could replace the equipment when the project supervisor showed up, and needless to say he was not pleased. But the right equipment was installed and the damage has all been repaired and we're moving forward with installing the right faucets.

As for the barn swallow nest above the balcony door ... These are the babies, already in full feathers! And yesterday there were at least a dozen adults swooping around the front of the house, constantly chirping as they passed close to the nest. Maybe a "Come on out" call to encourage the youngsters to take flight? Who knows? But it sure was interesting to watch.
Maybe that nest can be removed sooner than we thought.

June 22, 2014

Final Weeks

We're just two or three more weeks from completion!

Mirrors, Mirrors, on the walls ....

... in the master bathroom,
(but we're still waiting on milady's medicine cabinet)...



... in the upstairs bathrooms, and the powder room.

The carpeting has gone in, with the stairs, the two second floor galleries and bedrooms .....



.... and the master suite, in this color.  


The media room is a dark sort of chocolate color.
(Sorry, forgot to get a picture.)

On Friday, the kitchen appliances arrived, .....
(that would be the cooktop and hood, oven, microwave and dishwasher)

... while the concrete flat work (garage apron, sidewalks, AC pads and door stoops) were being formed.





The concrete arrived in the afternoon. Pictures of the finished work in the next post.

June 14, 2014

A Busy Week

Well it's been a busy week at Painted Views Ranch.

All of the leaching pans have been installed for the septic field. When it's finally in operation this is guaranteed to be the greenest spot on the whole ranch. The trench was dug from the well house to the house and the pipe was laid and partially backfilled. Now we're just waiting for the connection to be made between the pipe and the pressure tank in the well house and then we'll have water to the house.

The laminate countertop was installed in the utility room, to be followed by the sink installation.
The balcony railing was installed on Tuesday. Here's a shot looking up at it from below and a couple of pics from the balcony looking northwest and southwest.
Quite a panorama, huh?
We passed inspections for water and septic on Wednesday, so on Thursday the electric conduit was installed between the house panel and the barn in the same trench as the water line. Here you can see that the conduit goes under the water line from the well and the electric line that powers the well pump. But now we finally have electric in the barn! WHOOPEE! Now the "fun" begins.
On Friday the glass was installed in the front door. The glass panel is on hinges so that it can be opened to allow the breezes in. And blemishes were touched up on the door and the frame.
Looks pretty darn good, doesn't it?

The doorchime button will be coming soon.

The swallows over the balcony door are being good parents, but we'll be glad when breeding season ends and the youngsters leave the nest so we can get that mudball of a nest out of there.
And here's some photos of another one of our neighbors about a half mile down the road.
Oddly enough it didn't run away, but instead came to the fence to greet me, or maybe just to pose for a portrait?

June 07, 2014

Closing In on the Target

It's looking possible that we may actually be on target to close at the end of this month.

Yes, we know it's been a while since the last post, but because of a defective fan in a desktop computer, I've been without a way to post for a while. But now we're back in business so here we go...

The stone work has been completed on the fireplace. Here's before and after the stone went on. Now we're just waiting for the mantle.
The cabinets in the utility room have been replaced. (The first batch were the wrong color.)

Now it's just waiting for its counter top (and sink) and toe kick.

The tile crew has been hard at work. All the floor tile has been laid in the Great Room, Kitchen, Dining, Breakfast and Pantry and then covered with paper. The same tile was used (on the diagonal) for the kitchen back splash. And the second floor outdoor balcony has been tiled too, with a tile rated for outdoor use. The balcony railing is coming soon.
The garage doors have been installed.
Many of the light fixtures and fans were hung earlier this week .....
And the electricians were back again yesterday to (at long last) bring power to the house so they could begin troubleshooting all the appliances and fixtures.

Now that this panel has been installed and power has been brought to the house, if things go as planned, next week we'll finally be able to have power to the barn/workshop after waiting six months for it.

The trench was dug from the well house to the house, the water line was installed and is waiting for inspection at the same time the septic system is inspected.
But even as fast as things are going, we won't be the first residents in our new home. A pair of barn swallows decided that the ledge above the balcony door was a good place to build a nest! You may think that's cute, but after reading about them and the mess and health hazards they bring they won't be cute for very long. They're protected by Federal law and this nest wasn't discovered until after it became illegal to remove it, so they'll get this one breeding season. As soon as the birds leave the nest it goes, we'll scrub off the remnants and install screening before they come back next spring.

How's this for a framed landscape painting?

Here's one more photo taken from the breezeway between the house and the studio, looking west, as the sun was trying to burn off an early morning fog. It was taken before the electricians did their installs, so there's a ceiling fan hanging in the ceiling now. That'll make watching the sunsets much nicer in warm weather, won't it?

May 18, 2014

Paint and Granite

There's been a major transformation in the past week that has made a construction site really begin to look like a home. What's made the difference?

Most of the house has been painted with a color called "Candlelit Beige", but what's in a name?
But the media room and the art studio have been done in a neutral shade of gray, the name of which escapes me right now, but like I said, what's in a name? And all the woodwork in the railings and staircase have received their ebony stain, which compliments the wrought iron really well, don't you think?

... in the kitchen ...
... in the bathrooms ...
... and even in the pantry, where the cabinets have been reinstalled after the shelves were extended, the box for switches was lowered and the painting was done.
And here's a couple pics from opposite ends of the studio. Believe it or not, all the walls and ceiling are the same shade of gray. Isn't it surprising how the light makes it all look so different?

I'll have to think of a way to block the light from coming in through the double doors on the east wall. Then all the natural light in the studio will be coming from the north windows.
("HUH?" I hear you ask. Don't worry. It's an "artist thing".)