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

October, 2008

Dear Families and Friends,


"The plan is that we will be able to have house guests by now." (Prediction of March 22.)


October reality is something else. All in all, we are not TOO far from our prediction of six months ago, maybe just one month slipped, but house guests would get pretty dirty and dusty up in the barn right now.

October 3, Add a Little More

We start the month making a little more progress. Slavko's team has installed bathroom walls on the ground floor, finished more drywall on the main level, and painted the ceiling on the highest level. If we look carefully for progress, we can even note that Mr. Kramer's electrician now has wires running out of orange plastic boxes instead of from holes in the wall.


Over the next week or so, we should have all the drywall done, and most of the painting as well. We may even start getting tiles put in the bathroom. After that, it's DIY for the wood wall covering on the gable walls and then more DIY for the floor, plus, I think, an attempt at DIY tiles in the "cow stall". How fussy can our cows be, after all?

October 10, Tiles and the Last Window

Oliver Kral started the serious tile work for the bathroom and for the entrance floor. He really does do nice work, straight lines, flat seams, and patterns that fit in the room. He and Mr. Löhr had to work out the who-comes-first of fitting a window directly on the tile. Both of these Pommersfelden craftsmen know their jobs.

At the end of the day, this wall looked pretty good. Of course we discovered it was not what was planned, but apparently no one gave Oliver the plan! Glad he has a good sense and all it took to recover was a couple more boxes of tiles and some hours.

October 12, Painting Almost Done

Upstairs, most of the painting was finished. There's nothing radical here, just the color we term "broken white" in English-translated-from-German.(I guess "off white" is more what natives would say.

Down on the ground level, the cow stall still needed some insulation and floor tiles. Slavko would do the drywall and insulation, but some amateur would do the tiles. How hard could it be; it's a cow stall!

October 18 and 19, Profi and Amateur Tile

Slavko's guys managed to bring the wood "siding" upstairs. The original idea had been for this to be "DIY", but the task was seeming overwhelming. At the last minute, Mr. Löhr is stepping in to do this professionally.

Meanwhile, our other Pommersfelden profi was putting the final touches on the shower floor. He and I both tested the rocky surface. Interesting.

This is my work. A ten foot (three meter) by ten foot former cow stall. I wanted to learn how to put down tile and Oliver was good enough to get me started - including a weekend loan of tools.

Saturday and Sunday were two of the toughest work days I have had in years! This was incredible from a physical sense, with all that kneeling and standing. My legs are still shaking and aching.

From a quality standpoint, I hope the cows won't complain. My lines got more and more uneven both days, as my stamina wore down long before the job was done.

So, that's where we are, a bit more than mid-way through October. Not too far from plan, but the weak link among the workers is easy to identify. My best decision was to hand off some DIY work to Mr. Löhr and to Mr. Slavko before that! Oh well, I'm busy at work (and, at home, I'm busy worrying about the world economy.)

October 23, Wood Wall Covering

For the walls upstairs, my do-it-yourself plans have shifted to Let-a-Profi-do-it. Now that Mr. Löhr's carpenter has had a day or two, this looks like a good decision. He's not done yet, but there is plenty of progress and MUCH higher quality than I could have managed.

This is a part-time job, so it won't be done until Monday. Then, the heater guy and the electrician will be finishing up on Tuesday and Wednesday. By the time Marianne gets back, she won't recognize the place. (Don't tell her.)

So, as sunset comes earlier and earlier, it looks like the original plan for a late Fall finish won't be far off, particularly since Marianne is at work in California today having our shipment packed up for a "six to eight week" trip to it's new home. Christmas should have us opening very big boxes!



October 25, Opening Up

Its Saturday, DIY day.. Potentially, we were going top work on finishing the cow stall floor, but my tile master ran out of time. Just as well, as I'm not sure I can kneel yet.

Upstairs, the carpenter has finished enough of the wooden wall covering that I can do my bit by applying the oil finish. It's an easy process, just wet a rag with the special (= expensive) oil and wipe on. I'm not sure what this application does, in fact, since the color stays the same and even the feel of the wood changed only a little. I managed to finish the upper field-side wall and the street-side wall on the main floor. The former allows us to remove the work platform on top of the beams. Finishing the main floor wall allows the heating contractor to install his heater.

So, by the end of the day, we could see the ceiling again. The Fall sunshine also allowed a couple more front and back scenery shots. I can't wait until we can enjoy this without working so hard!

I don't know if I'll have the energy to work on Sunday. There's always plenty of things to do!


(It turned out that I did work, but I took no pictures, so this is how the October record will end, closer to finished but not there yet.)

October 23, Meanwhile, Back in America

Our Grand Plan is not just happening in Germany. While I was working in Old Europe, Marianne and Gabby were in New World California taking on the task of packing up our 10-years-stored worldly goods. When we left San Jose in 1998, we basically packed suitcases, handed the condominium keys to Gabby, and said: "take care of it". She did, but eventually her life moved on, we sold the condo, and our "things" went into Unit 1126, Lincoln Avenue Self Storage.

Once, a couple of years ago, Marianne and I opened the rolling door to 1126 and peered in. The place was so full and confusing that we simply closed the door and said "We'll get to that some year." Now, with the new space in the barn, "some year" has arrived.

The first step for the movers was to pull enough out of the storage area to be able to see what all was there. Some things, such as the bright red Chinese cabinet, we remembered easily.
But there there were things that defied understanding. Why, exactly, had we stored a plant? And don't even ask about the 25 pounds of rice we had left in a plastic garbage bin. Keep in mind, that when we left San Jose, we honestly didn't know if it was for months or years. We certainly hadn't planned on a decade.
Eventually, the things were split between the mover's truck and "the rest". Gabby wants some of these things but, if you are interested, give us a call. We will price things VERY REASONABLY!

The truck took our furniture away and the movers put it in a 20-foot sea shipping container. The container is going aboard The Essen Express as I write this and it will leave the Bay Area tomorrow, November 10. It is due in Bremerhaven a month later, on December 8. Hopefully, we will end up with all these things for Christmas but it does put a definite deadline for finishing the barn project!

Take care and, don't forget, if you want some antique rice, tell Gabby.


John and Marianne

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