the first big foray….

So tomorrow we venture as a family to camp in the ‘manse’   — and my daughter has two friends along for the journey… should be interesting!  I am not sure what we will find when we arrive….J-1 asked me if i had someone coming in to clean up– i didn’t/don’t since the deep cleaning was done a bit ago…or so i thought?  — Hopefully it’s not complete chaos?   With everyone tripping over each other there — there are bound to be some bristled feathers — and, of course,  we have just that…. As i have said before, i am extremely lucky to have been able to engage the persons i have- to a T,  everyone has been terrific at what they do — and I really hope that whatever issues there are can be resolved.   More pictures soon come of whatever progress awaits.   That and and a rail-less pool deck ……  So, patient reader, can a cable rail possibly look good on this house?  or do we replace with the same look…..I am thinking that a cable rail might look out of place with the traditional rail on the rest of the house– also considerations of a vinyl rail versus aluminum ?  — thoughts (if anyone at all is actually reading this! )   oh….and i bought a car– might be the best or worst purchase ever (ok, probably not the worst– the used volvo that blew up in the driveway with my infant son inside– pretty much CANNOT top that….and yeah, that one the Gman never lets me forget…..-cannot say as i blame him!!)  For this trip a week — and i hope to actually get to the beach this time….  been three trips and no sand and no water…



problems resolved and new ones arise

If you don’t know the story ofDr. Seuss’s  Solla Sollew — it is about a being who encounters some challenges and then tries to deal with them by  escaping to a magical place where there are no troubles (at least very few) …….to many this might describe this venture…..or perhaps describes BEING in this venture…… seuss always captures things perfectly.

seuss always captures things perfectly.


as it seems that when one problem is resolved….. another arises…..

to put it in Seussian  terms….

38 But now I was safe

39 Both in back and in front.

40 Then New troubles came!

41 From above!

42 And below!

43 And a Skritz at my neck!

44 And a Skrink at my toe!

45 And now I was really in trouble, you know.

46 The rocks! And the Quail!

47 And the Skritz! And the Skrink!

48 I had so many troubles, I just couldn’t think!

(i know that there are many who are thinking….i wish i could have such troubles….yeah… i know……. and i am not bitching –least not that much)

SO while we were busy thinking about the rats and the tile and the wood….. (rats…gone-ish…..)  the tile has  been cleaned up  and re-grouted  and looks SO much better–I think i have the tile whisperer working…..

fresh paint and the wood is in good condition on the deck roof/ceiling
fresh paint and the wood is in good condition on the deck roof/ceiling

J-1’s crew is working miracles on the woodwork — The people working at the house are really a terrific bunch– i am VERY lucky.  Our electrician –has been great at untangling our electrical ‘issues’  has been assessing the wiring…. to paraphrase “most people would go a to b to c….they seemed to go a to n to d….” or words to that effect — i have in my possession an light that is ‘switchless’ (how about that!) and wiring that apparently is a bit crazy.

medusa's switchbox....
medusa’s switchbox….  

The electrician has been a godsend and is a really great guy–I was really worried about the wiring –knowing how corners were cut and things were put together- I am feeling much better now that he is working the system out and pulling it into some semblance of sensible.

We knew that there was a roof leak.  and there was some rot in the T-111 in the ceiling of the front porch deck– we thought it was a small issue…..but the leak in the corner turned into a maze of rotting wood that requires most of the roof to be redone

The hole there is where J-1 (on the ladder) poked thru...all the way thru.... the original problem started over in the corner to the far left....
The hole there is where J-1 (on the ladder) poked thru…all the way thru…. the original problem started over in the corner to the far left….and your first glimpse of mystery man J-1




The entire fascia had to be removed and replaced-- land with the plywood and pretty much everything else.
The entire fascia had to be removed and replaced– land with the plywood and pretty much everything else. please note the drainage pipe to nowhere…….


We have a lot of mystery drainage issues at this house… and funky sizes– in fact i spent a better part of a day running around St Thomas (actually DRAGGING my friends, my VERY PATIENT friends!–and in their car!) finding oddly sized PVC pipe, reducer bushings and unions…. (2.5inch pipe, 2.5-3 inch bushings, etc) I have got to say that if you EVER need oddly sized stuff (and you KNOW you will someday–ok, maybe not) that Plastic City in Bovoni is the place to go….and they give away cool swag too! (i got a keychain flashlight!) — i learned a lot though– the difference between schedule 40 and schedule 80 PVC and that 4 inch unions are HUGE (yeah a guy’s business for sure….) — Home Depot doesn’t carry most of this stuff and even the very good plumbing supply store up here said that most of this was a special order…. so…. Plastic City wins– and BONUS… steve is from New Hampshire….and sox fan…. ‘nuf said….if PVC is your thing, then this is the place to be.

finish delaminating on the cabinets
finish delaminating on the cabinets

So, for this trip the last thing was the cabinets… did i already say how the rats had eaten thru a bunch of the cabinets? well they ate thru some pretty important structural stuff (at least in the sink/oven area) and the finish is falling apart and spending more time effort and energy and money trying to fix them seems like a waste of it all– SO the big bad news of this trip was the decision that we probably need to replace the cabinets…..ugh. This is a huge and unplanned expense and the G-man (while i think initially not a big fan) has been far more understanding than i had anticipated…. the question remains though– do we keep the current layout and only replace the cabinets on the sides (so keep the island and the cooktop in the island) OR do we revert back to the original layout where the island is simply an island and the stove/oven is placed next to the fridge– pro’s : easy to run a gas line to that location so i could do a gas stove! cons: all new counters……
We return to the island on the 13th this time with everyone (and more) in tow– we will camp out there — should be interesting…

a random post about why there has been no post

so been in St John since monday…on Coral bay side of the island my phone (verizon) DOES NOT work…..  and no wireless except a bit at concordia….and so…… radio silence….  I was going to write a long post tonight with pictures….– but it is 11:45 pm — and I just got home…because i missed my direct flight to JFK — because basically the Airport at St Thomas is FUBAR.  if you have been there you know the drill– and i was a *bit* tardy– i was not THAT late…… and told the security people that i was REALLY late (after getting thru the 50 minute line for customs and then the 45 minute security line — or something to that effect….)   they did the following…:  shut down their second security line (the X-ray machine line) and looked at me and shrugged….. so racing thru after security and they are taking the steps away from dear old AA flight 936…… (and my chances of getting home for dinner) …..but the agent in st thomas for american immediately rebooked me on the miami flight then on to i walked by flight 936 (scheduled for 1:05) at 1:15 or so (insert glare stare here)  and onto my Miami bound flight…. but in an exit row (score one for me!)  —  met a LOVELY woman from St Thomas who is a school counselor there– so that was a nice way to spend the flight….The house has been slowly (well – not so slowly) revealing itself and the project list grows all the longer……  the G-man reminds me that our last name isn’t Gates or Buffet..

But there are more big issues……and they have to be addressed…..  I remind myself that i am one lucky lady to have this opportunity…and a supportive (if slightly more jaded?) spouse….  

some of the fun stuff…after more additions to the list of ‘things’

So, heading back on Monday to see what gives–i should be ecstatic…..but i am kind of just filled with foreboding…..More Rat nests were discovered and the damage from the rats is likely to lead to even more significant expenses (over what it already has– which is basically all new appliances…thank you R.O.U.S’s……) I still haven’t made a decision on french doors versus sliders (this will become a theme here i imagine…my deciding and committing to one thing or another……it took me a good 4 months to decide on tile for a bathroom once!  This is going to be a LONG process…..)–but the G-man wants the place on the market by late fall……so this means getting my act together.  For now, adding to the list the additional rat damage and another electrical connection that may not be up to  code.

The house needs to have some happy in it– so hoping that we can manage that….and next week i hope to infuse the house with happy (Without rats…..god , please! Without rats……not that i am against rats being happy– just not happy in my house) — In the meantime i since i am sort of paralyzed by the larger projects (committing to replacement doors, large furniture purchases, etc, etc) I thought i would buy a few things that might be nice in the house….. so in no particular order- coffee mugs. (a pair of each)  a small tray and a small box  for a bureau, a kettle, and a serving platter….  none of these things is particularly significant and will go in a box until we ship a container down…but starting the process of thinking what i want there makes it a bit less abstract and makes it a bit more happy……

photo 3 photo 4 photo 5 photo 1 photo 2

and the list grows….but maybe the cabinets can stay?

J-1 called and said he was reconsidering his last assessment of the cabinets so they might be ok after a lovely and wonderful   cleaning faery scrubbed and beautified them…..and if he can find the serial number then I am told that Kraftmaid will have a record of them and can make replacement parts — so that is a WHOLE lot cheaper than a new kitchen….PHEW…….Pool is being taken care of (i know, i know….– a case of misguided priorities….but hey!   I have never had a pool! And besides we are going to ‘camp’ there over the kids spring break.)  But the list still seems to be getting longer rather than shorter…roof has (more) issues….areas are flat and need a bit of pitch so that the water runs off…, more rot in the wood (which i think will all need to be replaced eventually and there is a lot of it) a drainage issue , a septic issue…a water pump issue……

but small steps and so far, so good……i am impatient by nature– so this project will be a test for me for sure……..I am lucky to have many wonderful friends who are making the way a bit easier, by making introductions,  talking me down off of my panic “did we make a huge mistake?’  giving me good advice (even if i don’t necessarily want to hear it– you see i really do want those french doors…….and i might live to regret it).    And one friend in particular who has done so much…that i am not sure i can ever find a way to say thank you.

the long winter brings on cabinet fever?

it’s late….. forgive me.

J1 called tonight and his words were basically …..’well, after looking behind the appliances…..i think that maybe my initial take on the cabinets might be wrong……maybe they do need to be replaced…..whoever put them in…well, they weren’t very careful…..’  <<cue downward slide whistle>>   G-man is more against dealing with cabinets than he is french doors…….call this the cabinet revolt….– but really only the center island revolt– so maybe we annex that part of the kitchen to russia?  or norman island?  Bear with me .  Like i said, it is late.   1F-1 is studying for a Bio test and I am trying to keep 2f-1 from annoying her while she studies…….it’s late and everyone’s tired and tempers are not what they should be…so i am a bit punchy and there is snow in the forecast . …    After the 30 K estimate for tile work that was delivered today (much that is necessary and has to be done ….and then some — a big ticket  outdoor shower–that is desired, but not critical) staring a complete kitchen redo in the face is really not what we wanted…

but as a friend says   ‘2 live kids at the end of the day?  I win’  (and wow, with their issues tonight that was almost not the case!)

French doors or sliders……..the debate…..

So…this is probably the only (ha! SO FAR!) pretty firm disagreement  the G-man (aka the husband) and i have had about this house- is whether we are replacing the existing french doors with new french doors or with sliders– either way the doors will be replaced and  made with impact resistant glass–but the argument against french doors is that they will not wear well in a rental and that they will get banged around by the wind and people not being careful.

here are 1 and a half doors-- there are three sets of doors that run the length of the main room and then each bedroom has a set as well
here are 2 of the doors– there are three sets of doors that run the length of the main room and then each bedroom has a set as well

The argument for them is really pretty much aesthetics…….I LOVE the look of the french doors and that is what really sold me when i first entered the room with R.A.E. (but might forego the paned glass since that seems like a cleaning nightmare…) — but the french doors really go with the character of the house– and I am afraid that sliders will just not look right–also i love that you can open them both right up– a limitation with sliders since only one side opens at a time………Many of our friends and acquaintances and such have already weighed in on this and the deck is firmly stacked against my french doors…..(although not everyone thinks it is a crazy idea–and some long time residents think it would be fine).    The G-man  is even willing to entertain a compromise with one set of french doors in middle and sliders elsewhere…..i am not sure that would look right though…..SO ye  dwellers on the inter webs,  what say you?  Do I start the next french revolution, storm the bastille (or get seriously close to couples therapy) and go with the french doors (design is important!) or do i lay down my arms and  surrender to the slider……OR do we compromise (would that look strange??????) OR is there some alternative that we haven’t thought of??????? I am all ears…….(or eyes in this case)

a picture of the deck outside of the main room (i hesitate to call it a 'great room' since it's really kind of a mess and no-so-great right now!
a picture of the deck outside of the main room (I hesitate to call it a ‘great room’ since it’s really kind of a mess and no-so-great right now!)

the growing list …..and some pictures of the house as it is now.

So a short trip to try to sort out a few things… and try to get a handle on what needs to be done….and the list is LONG……most things we knew about…some (rather large ones) we did not know about….when we closed and took possession the house was a crazy mess.  J-1 got a crew in there and really cleaned out a lot of stuff and got the major stuff taken care of –for example, cleaning out the fridge…..where a rat had eaten thru the back panel of the freezer and peed in the freezer (ummmm buh bye Fridge…….), hauling a couple of truckloads to the dump, starting to power wash the exterior,  removing the evidence of rodent infestation and their dogs (which i think weren’t out very often….?) so a large list still remains,  a deep cleaning of all the rooms (which are filthy) re-grouting or simply grouting tile that was never grouted , cleaning up stone and tile (and trying to fix areas that are in serious disrepair, painting………LOTS OF PAINTING…….to try to stave off the need to replace the rails immediately……repair of the roof. New windows and doors….or replace some, repair others….. The pool is a mess– but might be able to be brought back to life– but is on a circuit that is a bit sketchy….. (yep, the electrician, who i will call J-2 was there and he just shook his head a lot…….)–Pretty much all the appliances have to go….(signs of rat infestation in the oven and probably the dishwasher and obviously the fridge) and wondering if the cabinets can be cleaned up– they are decent quality cabinets (kraftmaid) and fairly new — though they are pretty beat in certain areas  –but a total kitchen overhaul was NOT in the budget ….. <<sigh>>–   I brought down two big bags of stuff, but couldn’t really leave them at the house since there was no secure area to leave them and the place just will have too much going on — so unfortunately imposing on a friend to hang onto them until i can get someone in to change out a lock… So some pictures so you get an idea of the place …  Bonus of the trip was that J-1 said he would act as the point person/fore person for us and so that is great– someone in charge who we really like.   met also with solar people, tile person, cleaning person, and talked to the exterminator… much as i don’t like to exterminate, i think this calls for it……visit to STJ hardware and pardise lumber to set up an account and then the Paint Depot in St Thomas where we dropped just over 800 on painting and roofing materials….. reality is beginning to sink in…..

Porch deck was never completed-- this would be nice to do but probably is not top of the list
Porch deck was never completed– this would be nice to do but probably is not top of the list
the showers are very small-- we will probably try to bump one out to make an outdoor shower for a bedroom  but it isn't possible to do this with the two other showers
the showers are very small– we will probably try to bump one out to make an outdoor shower for a bedroom but it isn’t possible to do this with the two other showers
the window hardware in several units is rusted and/or broken..replacing these will be a huge undertaking (they are plastered in, etc)
the window hardware in several units is rusted and/or broken..replacing these will be a huge undertaking (they are plastered in, etc)

very small bathrooms all are like this -- will change out the sinks and try to upgrade it a bit with new tile (again,,,probably not immediately?)very small bathrooms all are like this — will change out the sinks and try to upgrade it a bit with new tile (again,,,probably not immediately?)

the decking is not tiled in  and the pool needs a lot of work
the decking is not tiled in and the pool needs a lot of work
needs coping or something around the top and needs to be dug out and planted!
needs coping or something around the top and needs to be dug out and planted!
the stairs between the levels are really in need of cleanup from construction-- a lot of stuff on them and a lot of damage already--
the stairs between the levels are really in need of cleanup from construction– a lot of stuff on them and a lot of damage already–these are actually some of the better looking stairs!
but at the end of the day....there is that view.....a saving grace especially now!
but at the end of the day….there is that view…..a saving grace especially now!

Let there be light!

Let there be light!

OK… i wrote LONG Post about this…and posted it….and then it didn’t show up– showing all of you how truly clueless i am…..learn by doing…that is my mantra these days…..(it might prove to be a very bad and expensive habit in other realms…)….    SO!  Finally the WAPA issue is resolved……MANY THANKS to R.A.E. for working so hard to get the power back on…i just don’t understand how people can just leave without paying their bills– but i don’t know or understand the circumstances…still I hope that no one got stuck with an out of pocket on this one.   J-1 has made great progress even in the absence of power and has cut a lot of brush, removed several loads of debris, checked out the windows and did some stealth work on the R.O.U.S.’s– so far none have shown up– but i am still waiting…these for most probably aren’t R.O.U.S.’s (thank you princess bride ….Rodents Of Unusual Size) but for me……yeah, i watched ‘Willard’ as a kid– not a good idea…..But big thank you J-1 for being so great on the clean up — and watching out for the R.O.U.S.’s …ughhhhh ….We are traveling down on Saturday for a short trip to try to prioritize what needs to be done, meet with various folks to discuss the projects we think we want to take on .   I think i might need to stay and extra day or two….(which is kind of a drag < NOT> considering the awesome winter we are having in the Northeast…  ) but I have been away a lot and we have issues here at our home due to a burst pipe… so there is a lot of ongoing work here and staying away is kind of a problem.  life is good .  if i can actually get this to post, i will feel like a winner tonight.

a renovation blog that may just change your mind about your caribbean dreams…….or not.