Friday, January 12, 2018

A Lodge, a Cabin or a Shed?

During our log home construction, we have been amused by the names ascribed to the structure by friends and family - everything from a 'lodge' to a 'shed'!  We made the most of the Christmas holiday to discuss this with #1 Daughter and #1 Son: should we give the house an official name?  In a fashion true to our family, we dutifully brainstormed names, many names!  In the end, we decided, as a family, that the best name for the house is 'home'.  So, here is an update on our 'home' in progress!

December 19 - finished flooring
and fireplace
Since November 9 (last post about house), we have witnessed transformations big and small.  At times, the house has been clean and quiet, and we can begin to imagine a snowy day when the only sounds are the crackling fire and the rustle of pages in a book.

And other days, when F250s are parked the length of the driveway, and the house is a hive of activity with workmen, materials and Red Hot Chili Peppers surging through the speakers of the portable radio, it is almost more chaos than I can take.

Cabinets stacked in kitchen

Kitchen island in great room

Kitchen cabinets in
great room
Outside the house, the crew has stained the front door, installed gutters, built steps and enclosed the deck with railings.  As I write that simple sentence, I am struck once again by the depth of thought invested in each item.  For example, would you believe me if I told you that we put at least 40 hours (times 2) into the selection of our railings?  On the day the railings were installed, we looked at each other and smiled - it was the right choice.  Most importantly, we can see straight through the railings to the view beyond.  Secondly, the cable and metal design fits perfectly with our 'rustic industrial' motif. Third, they won't require much maintenance.  Win-win all around!

Front door with stain
Gutters match green trim on windows

Placed downspouts to align
with log structure

Chains on either side of front
porch coordinate with
rustic industrial motif;
note ice that has formed!

A clear view!

You hardly notice the cables are there!

View from covered back porch

Rabbit tracks

As we trek through snow to capture exterior photos, the white stuff inevitably yields clues to the presence of other critters.

My Christmas trail camera has also provided a window onto life in our 'back forty' when we are not around.

Soon, I might be able to watch these beauties using my spotting scope from inside the house, where the metamorphosis includes the fireplaces, wood flooring, tile, chinking, window trim and cabinet installation.

Our general contractor, who started his career as a carpenter, personally hand planed the mantles for our fireplaces.  Each mantle has just enough 'character' to bring out the unique burls and knots of the wood, and yet fits in with our overall clean look. 

I can't wait to hang our cross-stitch stockings on this mantle!

Great room fireplace
The masons who placed each individual stone in the fireplaces are artists in their own right.  We watched them at work, and it is an art to select the stone for its size, shape and color to ensure the 'natural' look.  (Followers of my blog know that we searched high and low for 20 square feet of red/purple stone to augment the fireplaces - it was worth the effort!) (link to previous post)

Great room fireplace viewed
from loft
Completed great room fireplace with detail of
some stones
Completed Master fireplace

In a previous post, I described our methodical approach to selecting paint colors.  It sounds simplistic, but in reality we had multiple factors in the decision-making mix - not only paint color, but the tones of tile, carpet, and wood flooring, plus cabinet grain and marble countertops to match.  As you visually try to imagine these combinations, it's enough to make your head spin!  In recent weeks, these elements have physically come together for the first time, and in every instance, we are ecstatic with the results.
Wood flooring in progress; right side also shows entry tile

Wood flooring complete;
view from great room to kitchen

Completed window trim
Kitchen island and cabinets

Guest bathroom

Basement half bath

Basement bar

Entry half bath

Master bathroom

Every day, the project that started with a hole in the ground on April 24 feels more and more like 'home'.  How appropriate that our general contractor recently gave us our very own front door key and garage door opener.  By his current estimate, he will turn over ALL the keys at the end of February!

Linking to

Friday, January 5, 2018

Strolling San Francisco, Arm-in-Arm

The holidays are now past, the kids have flown back to college and winter has clenched its icy fingers around our town.  Methinks it's time to return to the regularly scheduled programming for my blog, such as retirement updates, last summer's trips to Canada and the UK, hikes and status reports on log house construction.  Today we commence with the third and final day of our August visit to #1 Daughter in San Francisco.  (See Day 1 and Day 2 posts)

We began our day at the San Francisco Railway Museum, a free gem stuffed with memorabilia of the antique streetcars of the F Market and Wharves, and national landmark cable cars that continue to run along the city's major arteries.  Cable cars run on steel rails with a slot beneath them.  Under the slot, below the street, is an endless cable powered by elaborate winding machinery in a central powerhouse.  In 1957, San Fran became the last city to operate cable cars as something other than a tourist attraction. 

Streetcars also run on steel rails, but have a trolley pole on the roof that connects to a single overhead electric wire.

Clock Tower of Ferry Building peeks out behind sculpture

After negotiating massive Market Street, we entered a food and beverage paradise known as the Ferry Building.  I was immediately jealous of anyone who lives or works near this mecca; the options for breakfast, lunch and dinner are endless!  Designed in 1892 by American architect A. Page Brown in the Beaux Arts style, the building was completed in 1898.  The entire length of the building on both sides is based on an arched arcade.  Brown designed the clock tower after the 12-century Giralda bell tower in Seville, Spain; the 245-foot-tall tower has four clock dials, each 22 feet in diameter.

And elements of the structure, such as its mosaics, are captivating. 

Bottom: the Great Nave
With the decreased use since the 1950s, after bridges were constructed across the bay to carry passenger traffic, the building was adapted to office use and its public spaces broken up.  In 2002, a restoration and renovation were undertaken to redevelop the entire complex.  The 660-foot long Great Nave was restored, together with its height and materials.  A marketplace was created on the ground floor, the former baggage handling area.

With our eyes and nostrils satiated by the culinary delights of the Ferry Building, by pure chance we stumbled upon Bechtel Plaza in search of a quiet spot to enjoy our cake and coffee.  What a find!

A plaque to one side of the square notes: "Dedicated 4/29/1978 in observance of the Bechtel organization's 80th anniversary and the dedication of its 45 Fremont Street Building.  This plaza honors the warm and gifted leader who guided Bechtel to a prominent and honorable worldwide role in engineering, construction and management of projects."

Tastefully tucked behind branching trees, a railroad car beckons gently with its curious name and ornate glass windows.

In the 1920s, the WaaTeeKaa was home to Steve and Laura Bechtel and their family at remote construction sites in the west.  This vintage car has been restored to replicate the original.  On 9/24/88, to commemorate Bechtel's 90th anniversary, the car was dedicated as the Bechtel Museum (free!) in honor of the can-do spirit of Bechtel's men and women: past, present and future.  Inside the railroad car, the engineering achievements of the company's employees are documented, from public sights such as Hoover Dam and the Oakland Bay Bridge to less visible endeavors such as military ships and solar arrays.  I didn't know much about Bechtel when I entered the plaza, but I was certainly educated and impressed when I left.

The Concord Coach - an original!  One of ten
Wells Fargo ordered in 1867
Ironic, then, that our next stop should be the Wells Fargo Museum; Wells Fargo seems to be on the opposite end of the corporate spectrum with embarrassing scandals.  But that didn't hold us back from enjoying its historic exhibits (free!)  The Abbot-Downing Company of Concord, New Hampshire, crafted these 2,000 lb. coaches from stout oak, ash, hickory and elm.  The exterior was brightly decorated with gold leaf, and the interior featured fine leather and plush fabrics.

Only part of the map is shown

This 1874 map shows Wells Fargo's express routes by stagecoach (in red), by train (in black) and by steamship (dotted).  Even with the expansion of the railway lines, many towns still depended on the stagecoach for connections to the world.  From 1866 to 1869, Wells Fargo operated the major overland stagecoach routes west of the Missouri River, covering 2,500 miles of territory from Nebraska to California and north into Montana.  So, the next time you want to complain about air travel, consider sharing the coach with 8 of your closest companions at a rate of 5 miles per hour!

While travel may have been challenging in those days, opulence and luxury could be found by those with the cold, hard cash.  The famous Palace Hotel, upon its original construction in 1875, was the best and grandest hotel in America west of the Mississippi, and an icon of San Fran wealth and pride.

In reflection, you can see some of the 63,000 panes comprising the glass ceiling
Every room had its own bathroom, a novelty even among luxury properties, and rooms could communicate by interconnected pneumatic tubes.  The original building was destroyed by fire following the 1906 earthquake; today's building dates to 1909.
I found the marble, glass and crystal of the atrium mesmerizing.
Top middle: I wouldn't want to be the fellow in charge of cleaning the chandeliers!

Reluctantly, we parted ways with #1 Daughter; she split for work at the theater and we moseyed back to Berkeley from some nosh.
Yes, that is Man with Hat!

Our memories of San Francisco will always be inextricably intertwined with our daughter, and this exceptional visit to the city.

I think I left part of my heart in San Francisco ... strolling arm-in-arm with #1 Daughter, a little bit of love and contentment spilled out. 

Linking to:

Mosaic Monday
Our World Tuesday Graphic

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