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Home Notes

4 July 2020


We are closing in on the end-of-construction of my Dream House. Yesterday, I visited the site, which has begun to look like a house and not a construction zone. Bob the Contractor welcomed me with, “It’s been a long time.”


I said, “It’s been a month.”


Which has been the rate of my regular appearances at the Home Base. Dear Husband deals with the work crew on a very frequent basis, and e-mails me pix that go into my digital file. Someone has to ride herd over the delivery guys with the huge boxes of appliances and plumbing and light fixtures. Just this morning, on the front porch of the Rental House, I met Big Brown with the big box containing a range hood.

We now await delivery of the stove, to the Dream House.


The model selected many months ago at Home Depot has just been back-ordered — for at least a month. We found the same model from an online distributor in Minnesota, but that inventory was also low. In fact, there was only 1 stove. It is now on a truck, headed West, somewhere in place and time . . . between there and here, between now and tomorrow-land.


The stove just might arrive after we move into the House. In that case, we’ll use the Camp Stove which, during the Power Blackouts of last year in Placer County, worked out much better than the Glorified Hot Plate and the Oversized Toaster Oven in the wall that I’ve been using for the past two years in this all-electric house, built in the late 1970s. We’ve got plenty of extra canisters of propane because you never know when the next Planned Blackout will occur!

It appears that July 4th this year is a celebration of Living in The Home. From what I hear from the truck-delivery-personnel and home supply sellers, work is through the roof on major house remodeling, pool repairs and installation, and copious concrete-pouring for patios, bar-b-que courtyards, verandahs, terraces, piazzas and driveways.


Americans are building things again!


Kitchen remodels, in particular, are primary sources of hands-at-work. It can become a very expensive situation, confining the woman of the house in the Kitchen!

For the bathrooms, I’d selected a granite called Belize two summers ago, at DMD Granite, located in Newcastle. I’d driven and walked past that frontage-road showcase & warehouse countless times during my many years of living in that town. Now I was finally placing an order for some granite there!


The Stay-at-Home decree descended upon Californians in March; I believe Gavin was the first hen to cackle, thereby helping California to lead the way for tinpot dictator-governors. I felt concerned that sales at DMD might dry up. The lovely owner of this husband-and-wife small-business said it was her best April sales-month in 20 years of doing business. The slabs of granite were flying out of there! The wives marched into that showroom, showing no mercy for the husbands.


My beautiful slab of Belize never got to the warehouse from Brazil. The green-gray-violet igneous rock probably fell off of a container ship and plopped into the ocean. Since that granite is from under the sea, I guess it returned whence it came! It took me only ten minutes to locate online another deep-sea beauty, what Mr. DMD called “My Ba-hee-ah” — a gorgeous dark blue granite from the ocean depths near Madagascar. The Lapidus granite, for the kitchen and the mud room, is a sumptuous series of earth tones to please the geologist in me!

I have been very busy pulling design elements together amidst the Home Construction — from a distance. It’s how my “vision thing” works. Due to the resulting, and noticeable, dearth of my making an appearance at the building mise-en-scène, Bob, the capable and crusty General Contractor, has raised an eyebrow or two. He expected me to be like white-on-rice on top of him and his work crew at this creative project of a dream house. I am, in his fact-book, the first home-builder wife, in all of his contractor-life, he had not met before the Start of Construction.


I delegated that work to Dear Husband. This seasoned and experienced pro, however, still shakes his head at my remote, hands-off approach that has somehow worked out without a hitch — few, if any, changes were made to the design, the materials, and the colors. I did lighten the shade of the wood flooring, but it was in the same color-stain family.


The overall experience of this contractor has been filled with controlling, meddling, nervous women who, most likely, did not fully trust him. Bob furthermore claims that he has not ever worked with a woman, building her house, about whom he knows so little.

I explained to him, with his sidekick by his side, Joe the Painter, that he knows more about me than did some people who knew me for 20 years, a group that was admittedly small but precious.


Why, he knows where I will cook, write, bathe, sew, and sleep, along with the details of my Master Closet; how each room looks; the color in each living space and how that color changes hue there, according to the time of the day; as well as the inventive particularities of each chamber. That knowledge is almost intimate. Bob nearly blushed at the commentary. Joe laughed.


I went up to the site a few months ago with a color print-out of Voltaire’s château in Ferney. The second coat, the color coat, of stucco was due to be applied the next week; and I wanted a certain level of grayness in the green hue, similar to that shade. Bob took one look at the image, and almost quivered in his work boots. Joe got it right away: she likes that nuance!

The color came out just right, but it occurred to me that the way that I communicate with Bob was not working to “our” advantage, although Joe has a hoot every time I show up. My humor and his understated and quiet comments mesh. I think that, once I have exited the work zone, Bob might be getting some interpretations and translations of my way of thinking. I nevertheless believe that Bob still expects me to drive up, one day, any day, and tell him:


YOU BLEW IT. IT’S ALL WRONG!


Yesterday, I saw the roadbed perfectly laid down on the former dirt road, a ribbon of dust that I’d foreseen as an enormous problem during the rainy season. And the balconies have been built outside of two of the upstairs rooms.

I took one step, and then a second one, out onto the balcony outside my Sewing Room — which was to be my Writer’s Room. But then I decided that arena of intense thought will be the enclosed space across the hallway. That large alcove, during the early stages of its materialization, was called Bob’s Room. He really liked secluding himself there, a cozy nook with a slanted ceiling, to ponder life and sulk on a rainy day!


The Sewing Room will also involve intense thought. Dear Husband thinks that I will be shuttling from one area to the other, across the hallway, in a creative ping-pong, a back-and-forth movement akin to a mental tennis match. At least the 2 separate zones of imagination are not on an upstairs-downstairs plane!

Given my fear of heights, once I was firmly standing on the outdoor deck, I held onto the black metal railing. I quickly peered down. My eyes then quickly veered up — and over the vast expanse of land for this abode that I have named Larkhaven.


I envisioned my rose garden, a small citrus grove, and a grassy kidney-shaped area for croquet and Chance. On the first floor, to one side of the house, the Guest Bedroom looks out upon the pine trees. On a gentle slope, I will place azaleas, rhododendron, camellias and hydrangea. Most of that greenery is already ready, and waiting, on the back deck of the rental house. They’re thriving. Some days, they are doing better than Hubby and me!


Just outside the Mud Room, I will grow my herb garden and small potager, or vegetable garden. I can wash the plants in the Mud Room sink.

With all of those pine trees on the property, I will not have to feed any Mir-acid to those acid-loving plants! I recall the slope of hydrangea in the Suburban Back Yard on Dickinson Drive (which was, indeed, named after Emily). I’d fed Mir-acid to those shrubs and the roots soaked in the stuff to varying degrees. A couple of the hydrangea had the uniquely mixed effect of being blue and pink!


The evergreens on-deck will have to wait, but not forever, to find their proper root zones at the new home. I want a clear view from out the kitchen sink window, so they might find ideal locations to the side of the gravel drive, as part of the flagstone and English garden approach to the Front Door. There may also be a couple of potted urns placed to demarcate the entry of the path to the Front Door.

All we need now is for PG&E to do its job.


“Yes,” I quipped to Joe, “The only dark spot here is PG&E.”


A new power pole must go in, at the top of the hill. And then the power cable must be pulled through the underground conduit into the house, to meet the Meter, where all the fun financing for this public utility begins!


Joe the Painter opined that PG&E almost went bankrupt after the Paradise fire. I intoned that they have friends in high places! And PG&E typically works like an electrical load — it has to be ginormous for the potential between any two points to be energized!

Do not expect miracles from them on this 4th of July holiday! They need freedom just as much as most Americans do this weekend.


I conversed a bit with the Flooring Apprentice, explaining how Hubby and I designed the house, based upon the floor plan of the previous single-story Peach House, just a lot bigger and with a second story. The agonizing decisions that we were warned would engulf us never did arrive, although it has been a long haul — with all of the mayhem and madness in California these past three years, especially the blackouts of last year and the lockdowns of the past four months!

The young man nodded markedly. I told him, “That’s all part of being an American.”


He fully agreed.


“The goal,” I stated, “Is to build it, move into it, and just live!”


He agreed with those goals too!


It has been almost three years since I first spotted online a video tour of a house in this neck of the woods, for sale. I’d gone in search, online, of an image to use to promote my just-written novel, POINT OF THE SWORD. I got a whole lot (!) more than I was looking for during that beastly hot week in August 2017. Dear Husband and I chanced upon the sight of a flat, vacant lot, located down the dirt road from that house. Those acres were also for sale!

Today, I envision, on several beastly hot summer days, three weeks hence, the point of the compass leading me northeast of this rental home, uphill all the way. It’s been an uphill struggle at times for Hubby and me, but any dream of worth is worth the work to realize it. This dream has been years, even decades, in the making.


It is almost impossible for me to verbalize to my wonderful contractors the road that has led me here, the path that Dear Husband and I took, from the days of our honeymoon, along this journey to our Dream Home. Some things are better left unsaid.