Sunday, October 25, 2020

Deck and Wall

Maybe this is the post where I finally share the whole project, the deck and wall, and more. "More" is the kitchen. I have been staring at this kitchen a lot this year, and it was with sheepish guilt that I finally railed: "Gah! I can't take it anymore! I do not want to look at this kitchen any more!" It began with the compulsion to tear it all out, to gut it. And, objectively, it's a nice kitchen, but COVID madness took hold and something had to be done. We talked about painting the cabinets. We talked about replacing the counters. We talked about building a wizard tower, and digging a basement. We talked about turning the RV into a pontoon, towing our cars and our friends' cars, and landing on New Zealand's shores. So, while Mike plugged away at building the retaining wall, adding stairs, surveying the slope, and framing for a deck... inside I was thinking of options, quick fixes to help me make peace with cooking and cleaning every single day in this same, lovely, room.

The footings for the deck, by the way, are standing on the slope, and the weight of the deck is what we are counting on to hold it in place. The reasoning for this choice was to minimize digging and cutting the roots of the Torrey Pines. The tall posts will serve two purposes... 1. to string lights from, and 2. to hold copper pipes, which will further strengthen the framing and keep it from pulling into itself. We put in a French drain at the back of the wall, installed electric boxes, and added a hose bib. We also capped the irrigation. By watering the non-native plants around the trees, we have been encouraging the trees to grow surface roots, which weaken the trees. We will plant native plants that grow with our rainfall, and the Torrey Pines will root deeper... I say this with the confidence of a researcher, and the hope that evidence and reason prove accurate in practice! Fingers crossed.

I think all technical subjects should be presented with pictures of cats. Here is Cairo. He's trying to look casual, and disinterested, because he's actually plotting his dash out the front door. The more casual and indifferent he looks, the more likely he is to get out.

Ada and Tasha like to escape, too, but their tactics are open, forthright... go, move, push. And if that doesn't work, they butt heads and change the subject.

Diana, and Charles brought Akira for a movie night. We almost, almost, dismantled and tossed that screen. It was made for outdoors, then came inside for many years, and it got kind of junky, but we decided to save it in the attic, and thank goodness we did. We have had more movie nights since March, then in the last 11 years of hosting movie nights. It's been 19! Nineteen socially distanced, bring your own chairs and snacks, Bird House Driveway Theater events! We have fire rings, and we have had singalongs. We've screened talent shows and personalized videos. And we get to laugh and chat with friends. Even in the dark, ten or more feet apart... we have come to love and appreciate every single gathering. We love our friends. We love having a means to be togther, safely, happily.

The stairs might be my favorite part. I love the entire project. It's practically complete, now, so I can safely say, I am familiar with all of its features, and I love them! But the stairs look so cool! Also, have I mentioned it's two decks we designed? I will give credit to Armand for this addition. He was the one that pointed out that terracing would add to the theater experience, creating balcony seating. That was an irresistible suggestion, and Mike constructed this mini-deck above the wall. It's just the right size for a family to sit together for a movie night.

On Instagram I subjected everyone to lots of fall leaf pictures, and I also shared how every picture was from carefully framed views of this one tree that for the first time ever was being truly beautiful. But the framing was critical, because the background includes power poles, and phone lines, a chain-link fence, very dirty cars, a construction heap and mulch pile, an open trench! And then! Then the whole tree went dry and brown in the heat wave we had. 90 degrees F, in October. Ugh. Poor tree. Poor us. Poor planet.

All mention of climate change and global warming should include pictures of cats and fruit from the garden. Here is Feynman, and a pomegranate... which happens to be a low water fruit tree, that just this year is giving us our first delicious fruit. And Feynman, well, he's demonstrating how to self-care during a pandemic. Inhale. Exhale. Nap. Repeat.

Almost to completion... so close! I am going outside to take some more pictures. Oh! And the kitchen. I decided painting the cabinets was a bit rash, and so we are painting the walls. And on closer inspection, my impulse isn't indulgent or extravagant... but long overdue!

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