Diaries - Travel

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Between House And Barn Projects
The Diary of Our House And Barn Projects

March, 2006



Dear Families and Friends,


March 1- Not Much New

March was to be the end of construction, depending on weather. We still had a two or three weeks of inside work plus week or two of outside work on the house (plus lots more on the yard, but that's another story). The last two days of February turned out to be non-work days due to local celebration of Carnival (Fasching, in Germany). I had to work, but none of the craftsmen seemed to do anything. Oh well, I have a hard time saying time off isn't a bad idea.

On the morning of the first of March, I woke up and looked out from the hotel window at a nice, but snowy, dawn.

It was the same story over by the house, pretty but cold.
Inside, things were not much changed. About about all the progress I could see was that the rooms, such as the master bedroom, were cleaner. I supposed that was a start.

March 2- Still Not Much New, Really

The next day, things were starting to happen. As always, never fast enough but better than Fasching.


The kitchen and the hall were getting loads of wood floor material, eventually bound for the living room and the office. Like I said, a start.

We also received our refrigerator, and dish and clothes washers. Of course, you have to take my word for it since they were still wrapped.

Upstairs, the floors really look almost-finished. It's hard to believe these floors are at least a hundred years old - or even older I suppose. After all, the house is about 240 years old and bedrooms don't get a lot of wear and tear.


March 4 - More Snow Than Progress

The weekend travel plans had to change. Marianne's Friday night drive down was impossible because of snow. Later, we found out that the Red Cross had been called out to service the travelers on the A3 Autobahn she'd have been stuck on. It had been a good decision to turn around.

That meant that Saturday was early drive for me, with a quick pass-by at the house.

Our Pommersfelden streets were peaceful. Even at 6am, the local bakery was welcoming. This bakery is the oldest bakery in Germany continuously operated by the same family. The Burkhards have been serving the neighborhood castle and families since 1730.

Over at the house, the living room oak floor had been partially built

Upstairs, the four old doors had all been hung, although they didn't have the rebuilt handles and locks yet.

After the quick house stop, it was time to hit the snowy local roads. dramatic in the morning dawn.

Out on the Autobahn, I drove over ice for a couple hours and then took a break at the Spessart road side rest. This could have been where Marianne would have been stuck!

Saturday, we continued the search for lights and succeeded in adding four to our collection - not worth pictures though!

March 8 - Back to See what's Been Installed

So, the weekend was spent up at Giessen instead of down in Pommersfelden. But, that doesn't mean we didn't "work on" the house. Our Saturday was spent buying lights. I expect we still have two or three such light-buying trips. Definitely not my favorite weekend job.

It was Wednesday before I could look at the house. It was cold and snowy outside, but inside:

The new oak floors in the living room and the office had been installed. This looks very nice but I was afraid to actually step on them. I didn't know if they had been "finished". Soon, surely.
Out in the kitchen, the big cooking range had been installed - I think. I could not tell if the gas and electricity had actually been connected. In any event, it was sitting close to where it would be at the end. I hope Marianne knows how to use all those knobs!
The other big event was the arrival and installation of our two toilets. After 200+ years, Schoenbornstrasse 17 had real indoor plumbing!!

March 10 - Locks and Latches

Now it was Friday evening , and we needed to do a quick check. Tomorrow we would have a bigger inspection, but we did find Mr. Schlicht working on the inside locks and latches. Her's what we saw:

The lock for the ground floor bathroom.
Wolfgang Schlicht was installing the old hardware he had restored earlier. It's mostly hand work, the same as it has been since the locks were made a couple hundred years ago.


And the bedrooms upstairs.
Inside the bedroom doors, the floors were looking almost finished.
  Outside, the back driveway was a problem.

Just kidding about the "back driveway", although our little stream out back had grown to a shallow lake. Apparently this is a common enough winter and spring occurance that even half our big lot is considered flood plain. Now we saw why.

March 11 and 12 - Weekend Conference

This was another Sturday of meetings with "the crew". Marianne would not be back for two weeks, so we needed to finalize plenty of details.


The living room floor was done, except for some final wax and lighting.


The office lock remained my favorite, especially once it was mounted. (Slight damage on installation, but it will be repaired.)


Out in the kitchen, Axel was measuring the stove as we try to fit everything exactly right. Meanwhile Mr. Spoerlein, our carpenter, had sketched the cabinet he is making for one wall. Pretty nice! Just to make sure, we put together all the color samples - the granite counter, the cabinet, the decorated tile for behind the stove, and the stove color itself. Whew, it works!

This may be the most crucial room in the house, since it serves as kirtchen, dining room, and normal gathering spot.


Believe it or not, this was a serious engineering test. Someone started bouncing on the floor because one area was a bit soft and pretty soon Marianne was reverting back to the Carnival days of a few years ago.



March 14 - Lights

My job this night was to take some pictures of lights. I did it, but the photography isn't up to a very high standard. Oh well, maybe Marianne will at least get the idea.

The entry hall lights looked good. Too bright, but that's fixable with smaller bulbs.


Out in the kitchen, the overhead lights were hidden as we wanted. These are simple tube lights, basically Christmas lights.

The light by the back door looked very nice, but again we'll have to reduce the bulb size.

The lights going up the stairs looked OK too, even though the glass globes were not yet installed.



March 23-25 -- Back In Town

After the last house inspection, I had had to travel for over a week. When I came back, I looked forward to new progress. Here's what I found.

The first greetings in the neighborhood were the bird flu ("Gefluegelpest") warnings. Infected wild birds had been found in one of our neighboring villages so everyone now has to keep birds and cats indoors and dogs on leases. Kids are still free to play.

There had been good progress on the stair railings. The small piece downstairs had required lots of design decisions and now it seemed like it had been there forever. Upstairs on the landing we now have solid protection from falling!

Marianne's bathroom was now ready for receiving the clothes washer and her washbasin actually had water.

Down in the kitchen, things were shaping up. We had a meeting with Axel and Mr. Spoerlein and finished the island design by moving the partially-built boxes around.

Even lower, the cellar entrance was getting less and less scary. Now, we just needed that handrail.



March 26 - Weekend Progress

Another Saturday with Axel and the crew. Mostly we worked out the kitchen layout but we also finalized other details. The promise was for plenty of progress this week. There's not a lot of pictures because it's hard to keep our micro recording routine. I'm definitely ready for all this to end!!!


Down in the cellar, things were dark, dank, and crowded. We'd wondered where all the junk had gone. A portent of the future? The door looked nice and we hope it is strong enough to keep out cellar ghosts.



Meanwhile, the cook was busy testing the workability of the space.


March 28 - Tuesday Check

I had planned to go on a business trip this Tuesday, but strikes and demonstrations in Paris made me think other wise.

It gave me a chance to check the progress outside, the first since last November. It looked encouraging.


Inside, the floors looked pretty close to done.




March 31, Month's End

The plan eight months ago was to move in March 1st. Then, we thought April 1st. Now, on the last day of March, it's clear there's still things to do.


Outside, the stucco and plaster people were finishing up their first outdoor week since last November. Most of the place looks almost new, with an even stucco surface covering 85% of the house now. There's even a new copper roof on the "back porch".

Inside, the entry hall is almost finished, as is the living room. Only some electrical work seemed missing for most of the downstairs rooms.


Upstairs, the heaters in the bedrooms had also been covered. Here there is very, very little left, except a final finish on the floors and the final cleaning.



Back in the kitchen, the range hood exhaust had been started, but it certainly wasn't right yet.


Next month, we should move in.

March, 2006

Diaries - Travel

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Between House And Barn Projects
The Diary of Our House And Barn Projects