When we returned to the farm in March, I was not able to access my web blog and could not figure out why. I thought it might have been because there were too many pictures as WordPress does limit the amount of space you can use for a free site to 3MB. Now that I have been back in San Mateo for a week, I did figure it out after trying to start a new page with a little help….that wasn’t it, but decided to do the continuation on a new web blog anyway as I suspected I might be getting close to that limit. The new site will be Dragonbelly Farm 2016. When I first started having troubles, I did take a few notes and then sort of continued my blog on my Facebook page so I can retrieve some information….though it sure won’t be as detailed as I was doing previously….but that is probably a good thing.
We flew back from Italy on January 5 and was on the farm for 10 days before returning to San Mateo on the 15th.
After light rail from the airport and a walk down to the ferry dock, fortunately while it wasn’t raining, Michael picked us up in Bainbridge about 11 and we were on the farm before midnight….but had to wander for awhile and did not get to bed until about 1:30…. after exploring the house, and dealing with a crisis of frozen water line to the trailer.
The next day started with another crisis….I won’t go into what I think was the series of problems and miscommunications that led to it, but there were three places on outside walls where which we did not intend to have covered with drywall, but did not get the OSB or cement board on them when we left in the fall and because of all the moisture that was added when the dry wall was “mudded” black mold grew behind the insulation. Randy had pulled out all the insulation in those three places before we arrived and treated one with vinegar and gave us some anti mildew primer to paint the surfaces. We went to Home Depot that afternoon and the woman in the paint department recommended a spray even better than vinegar and the next day we treated those other two areas and proceeded to prime them and then cut new insulation as we threw away the old insulation as we suspected it was infiltrated with mildew.
Meanwhile, Michael had begun to paint the outside of the house, but had not gotten very far because of wet and cold. We asked him to switch to focusing on priming/sealing the drywall and particular get the ceiling done over the kitchen as we expected the cabinets to come in soon.
At Home Depot, we also picked up ten pieces of cement board, though estimated we needed about 30 to do the three bathrooms, but there is just so much weight you can put in the back of an old Volvo stationwagon. Over the week, we went back and forth over which would be the best bathroom to get finished first, but there were various reasons to not proceed with all of them, so none got done. We also bought some white ceiling paint.
By Friday, Michael had finished priming the ceiling over the kitchen, and proceeded with painting it with the ceiling paint and was able to take the masking off the beams so we could actually see what it looked like. I am sorry I did not take more pictures.
On Saturday, the cabinet installers came and began the installation, but the plumbers had put the pipes for the kitchen sink off to one side rather than centered behind the sink and they needed to stop to come back another day after the pipes were moved. The pipes in the slab for the center island were also not quite in the right place but we just changed the configuration of the cabinets to make it work. Because they were not there on Sunday as planned, Michael was able to finish priming the living room ceiling.
On Tuesday, Ian from Peninsula Heat came to turn on the radiant heat floors, but then came to a stopping point when he thought he didn’t have the electric line he needed.
On Wednesday, the plumbers came and moved the lines for the kitchen sink and added lines for two more showers. On Thursday, the electrician came and said that the line for the heating was there and he spoke with him on the phone to verify it….don’t know if they came back yet to finish turning it on.
On Thursday morning, the kitchen appliances arrived that I had ordered last summer ….thinking the kitchen would be finished in September of October: induction range, microwave hood, refrigerator and dishwasher.
All week, Randy tried to find time to finish the installation of the front door, but between other jobs and “putting out fires” he never had the chance….maybe next week.
The biggest disappointment of the week was seeing the windows that had come from Topsider. When I asked for woodclad windows, I expected wood that could be left natural….and probably was already stained or sealed. Instead they had flimsy pine molding on the inside that looks like it was intended to be painted. This is on top of the fixed paned windows that were sent months ago that didn’t even have that….they just needed to be “stepped in” by the construction crew which of course added a huge expense for me. All in all, I have been very disappointed with my treatment by Topsider Homes and would not recommend them to anyone….though I do like my octagon house.
So yesterday was the solstice and half a year since the first wall went up on our house. I had hoped it would be finished by now, but just too many delays from Topsider. Randy sent me a few pictures last night of where the house is now.
It looks like all the windows are in….but maybe not yet the front door. Siding is up and Michael, my caretaker has been making plans to paint it.
I have heard that they finished the sheetrock and Michael is also making plans to prime that. I look forward to seeing some pictures of the finished drywall. I just heard from the company from whom I ordered the kitchen appliances and they will be delivered right after we arrive. I am speaking to the kitchen designer who has been storing the cabinets for us and perhaps they will also be installed while we are there.
We are at the Damanhur Community in the foothills of northern Italy…a spiritual ecovillage intentional community that we have participated with for close to two decades and have been members of the “spiritual people” for most of that time. The times of solstices and equinoxes are quite important in their world view and we enjoyed a solstice ritual this week, and tomorrow we will attend the monthly full moon ritual as well as planning on the special event that happens in the temple on New Year’s Eve. Being here is definitely different that most of the rest of our life which is focused on political activism and the environment. These issues are also important here, but there is a very large spiritual component, too. Most of it, we do not participate with as it is what would be called a Mystery School and we are not initiates. A large part of their spirituality includes an emphasis on art and energy work and their underground Temple of Humankind is quite incredible…some have called it the eighth wonder of the world.
As soon as we can arrange a flight after New Year’s Eve, we will be heading back to WA for a few weeks. I am looking forward to seeing the house, and expect to be doing some painting as well as other projects.
It has been about a month since we left Dragonbelly Farm. Since that time, I went to the Green Party of the Americas meeting in the Dominican Republic, went back to San Mateo for a week, though during that time, we ended up going to Lake Tahoe for a long weekend and then we headed for Paris for the COP 21. We left Paris yesterday morning and are now at the Damanhur community in N Italy.
Right after we left, the dry wall crew began their job. They said it would take them three weeks, so I would think they would be done by now, but I have not heard from them. I know I will eventually for final payment. At the end of the first weekend, pictures were sent to me of the process.
There are pictures of the prep as well as what it looks like with the wall board hung in two of the bedrooms, the living room, and up to the cupola.
Shortly, after they began, we heard from Randy that the windows had finally arrived. They began installing them, and with windows in, they were finally able to put up siding, as well as the trim around the windows. I also received pictures of that window and door trim while trying to figure out the color scheme.
Because of not knowing the schedule from Topsider….since the windows were promised over and over before they finally arrived, Randy had to accept other jobs so was not consistently at our job site. I don’t know if they have finished yet, either. If they are able to finish this week, construction will have taken exactly six months from the summer solstice to the winter solstice.
We hope to be here in Italy until just after the new year and then head back to WA for a few weeks before returning to San Mateo until the spring. When we get there, we need to think about what it will take to do finish plumbing and electric, put up the cement board for tile in the bathrooms, get fixtures, and install the kitchen. (The kitchen cabinets are waiting for us in Seattle and the appliances have already been order and are expected….after several delays, next month.)
So on Tuesday the 10th, we expected the shear wall inspection and for the dry wall to be delivered, and we had a few last tasks to do. Well, we didn’t notice one of the places that required a shear wall and missed it, so didn’t pass. The inspector said he might come back that day and we worked diligently on it all morning….even I was swinging a hammer. Fortunately Kavic came back for a couple of hours and trimmed the extra spray in foam insulation on the ceilings.
In the middle of that process, the drywall company came to deliver a massive amount of drywall and leaned about a foot depth of that sheet rock against three walls inside the house.
Since we had been delayed because of the extra sheer wall, it made it a little harder in some spots to put up the spacers we needed to put on each of the posts so they would be level for drywall. We managed to slip them behind the drywall in all locations but one.
So there was no way to fly out on Tuesday and we prepared to leave on Wednesday. Brian still had many little tasks he wanted to finish and I focused on cleaning up the trailer. I had to wipe down most of the walls with vinegar as mold was beginning to grow. I had hoped we would just need a ride to the bus stop in Poulsbo….but we were too late for that, and then I thought we would just need a ride to the ferry in Bainbridge, but we were too late for that, so Michael ended up driving us all the way to the airport. We don’t usually do that. We got our flight and were back in our San Mateo home by 8pm.
Now I am trying to get various tasks done to fly out to Newark on a redeye tonight. I just checked the flights and there were three seats left and I was #2 on the standby list and while I was looking, it changed to two seats left. I will keep my fingers crossed. The flight on to the Dominican Republic in the morning is showing 9 seats left with 9 standbys and I think I am #4. The only thing worse than not making the flight tonight will be making it and then getting stuck in Newark with only one flight a day.
Brian has been working on shear walls and final prep for the dry wall installation all day. It is almost midnight and he is still at the house. Fortunately Kavic came to work with him this afternoon. We had planned to leave tomorrow, but we won’t leave until Wednesday. I was hoping to have an extra day before my conference starts, but I will fly in just in time….assuming there is a seat available on the flight from Newark to the Dominican Republic. They are filling up.
We will be leaving Dragonbelly Farm by Tuesday and I took a couple of 7 minute video clips today….don’t look for great quality. One is the inside and the other is around the outside and the surrounding area. I leave on Wednesday for the Dominican Republican for the Federation of the Green Party of Americas meeting and about a week later for Paris for COP 21 and then on to visit friends in Italy so won’t see the house again before 2016. I know the drywall will be finished by the end of November and if Topsider ever sends the windows, they will be installed and the siding hung. Friends will be priming the drywall and painting the siding for us while we are gone. I am not sure how much of the other work will continue in our absence. I know for sure we will need to do the tile work and interior painting when we return and am not sure how all the electrical and plumbing will be finished.
I will add pictures later.