For MaMaw

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I'm writing this post today in memory of my wonderful grand-mother who we called MaMaw.  I think of her a lot through the days and years of my life but recently I've had her on my mind every day.  This is my round-a-bout story of why. 

When my husband and I retired out here to the South one of the first things I noticed was that on the porch of practically every old farmhouse was an old metal glider.  I would look at them and my heart would race a little bit and I would find myself coveting wanting every glider I saw.  Didn't matter if they were rusty, broken, or perfectly white.  I just knew that for some reason I had to have one.

The quest began.  I looked on Craigslist every few days and never saw any for sale.  I looked on ebay and found plenty but they were terribly expensive and how do you ship one of those things?  I looked at new reproductions of them and they were expensive and not the real deal. 

I have to admit that a few times I contemplated stopping at houses and going to the door and asking if they would sell their glider.  I was actually a little embarrassed at how much I wanted one.

One day  I went into one of our favorite local antique stores and THERE IT WAS!  My glider!!!  The price was right and I bought it on the spot.  I did notice that it had probably been spray painted to spiff it up and that it had a couple pretty good dents in the edge of the seat, but I didn't even let myself think about the negatives.  It came home to reside on my porch. 

So....  I was talking to my mother on the phone and telling her about my glider.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  "I just feel so weird to say this but I had to have one.  I was starting to dream about having one of my own.  You know what I'm talking about right, Mom?   It is one of those old metal gliders that have the shell shaped back on them."   

Mom:  "Well you figured out why right?" 

Me:  "Why what"?

Mom:  "Why you wanted one so badly"

Me:  "Uh.... no".

Mom:  "Well, honey, MaMaw had one.  Everytime we would go visit, she would be sitting on the porch in her rocker watching for the car to drive up.  You would run and sit on her lap and she would rock and rock you.  You loved her glider - you would sit on it for hours with your dolls.   When you were older you asked if you could have it!"

Suddenly it all came back and I couldn't believe I had forgotten.   I was so thankful to have the memory come back to me.  I could so vividly see my MaMaw sitting on the glider, watching for our old station wagon to pull up, and I could actually see my little girl self cuddling on her lap.  It is such a miracle to me to think of memories that are tucked away in our brain - events that we may not actually remember but yet things will trigger that same feeling that is deeply hidden in our hearts. 
Recently my cousin visited MaMaw and Grampa's old homeplace (long since abandoned) and the only thing I was looking for in the pictures she shared was MaMaw sitting on the glider.  I could almost see her there. 

My grand-babies love to climb all over it!  These precious little girls would be MaMaw's great great grand-daughters.  

I'm a Grandma now and I want to be like my MaMaw.  Sometimes I think I am.  Sometimes I say and do things and I realize that MaMaw said the same thing to me.  Things like, "Of course you can have it"!  I may not have my MaMaw's glider (I'm sure it was long gone many, many years ago), but now I have a white one just like it and when I sit on it, it takes me back and I'm so thankful for that. 

I recognize that it has a lot of "issues".  It squeaks when it rocks (no matter how much I grease it!), it is not exactly the strongest thing - two adults on it are a little bit much for it, and it isn't the most comfortable piece of porch furniture ever made.  But for me, it is the memories, the warm feeling I have when I look at it, that make me happy with it just the way it is!

This picture is of the next generation - MaMaw's great grand-daughters. My cousin's daughter, Sydnee, on the left and my daughter, Andrea, on the right.   Seeing them sitting on my porch in the glider like MaMaw's, I feel like it is a great tribute to her memory. 

What a wonderful MaMaw she was.  I want to be just like her. 

The House on the Hilltop - Part Five

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Continued from The House on the Hilltop - Part Four

October 2012
Its so exciting to be at the place where we are working inside the house now.   So far it has been small tedious work that is vital in order to have really huge things in our house - like water, electricity, heating and cooling!!!  The plumbing wasn't too big of a deal and Eldon had that complete in no time at all.  The electricity and duct work has been a really big job! 

See these things???  There are 125 of them in our little house!!!
I helped Eldon pull the wires through the house and helped in the decision making process of where to put outlets, switches, lights and fans.  I didn't realize it was such a big deal to decide all that. 

Recessed lights and ceiling fan in the vaulted ceiling of the living room. Also, against the wall on the left side we wired it for two gooseneck barn lights. 

Somehow I can't seem to get any good pictures of my kitchen ceiling.  This one is taken from upstairs.  Can you see the wiring in the ceiling??  This is wired for four pendant barn lights. 

Upstairs craft room wired for ceiling fan and light, two recessed lights, and two gooseneck barn lights off the back wall. 
This looks like a big mess; but it does actually make a lot of sense (well, to Eldon it does).
Almost ready for our rough-in inspection - November 2012
And in case you are wondering, we used 20 foot scaffolding to wire the 26 foot vaulted ceiling in the living room and kitchen.  Please don't ask me why I don't have pictures.  Maybe I just couldn't stand to look at Eldon way up there. 
Some of the duct work in the upstairs.
Air handler in mechanical room upstairs.
Heating and air conditioning unit at back of house.
I hesitated to even do this post as it is such a boring phase of construction!  So, to make it a little more exciting here is my choice for my pendant and gooseneck barn lights I've chosen.  What do you think? 

I love red.  I am actually pretty obsessed with red in my house.  I can't imagine a day that I wont want red in my house.  So, I'm very comfortable with the red in my dining room and kitchen.  But when it comes to the gooseneck lights in the living room I'm just not sure on the color.  I will also have two of them in my craft room upstairs and not sure on that color either.   I am very much a person that loves color, so it is really hard for me to do something like black or bronze.  Its a very exciting time for me - I get to really start making some decisions now!  I'm really thankful for my daughter, Andrea; she is amazing at decorating and ideas.  I rely on her to bounce my ideas off all the time. 
This post brings us current on our construction.  I imagine it will be awhile before I have much else to add.  We are looking forward to being gone for 10 days over Thanksgiving and I'm sure when we are home from that trip we will be working fast and furious on insulation. 
Thanks for following along!

To be continued in The House On the Hilltop - Part Six

The House on the Hilltop - Part Four

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Continued from The House on the Hilltop - Part Three

Nothing ever goes exactly according to plan and some things just simply take a lot of contemplation!  This was a common sight - "hmmmm". 
After all the trusses were up, it actually took quite a number of days for Eldon to tie them all in and make sure everything was spaced perfectly and in the right spot.  He was able to do this by himself  so I got a few days off!  It was tedious work but vital to the overall finish of the roof. 
Ready for roof sheeting and exterior sheeting for the upstairs!  All I have to say about this is that I was not involved in this part...  no matter how hard I tried (and I really did) I could NOT get on that roof.  I think it had something to do with the fact that the house is on a steep hill to begin with so it really made it seem high!  Or maybe it had to do with the fact that we had Logan (our son) and Justus (our son in law) that live nearby and were willing to give us some time on their days off...  so I just enjoyed watching from a comfortable vantage point!
Eldon and Logan starting on roof sheeting between dormers and on gable ends of house - May 2012

Eldon and Justus, going a little higher on the roof sheeting between dormers.  Porch roofs all have sheeting - May 2012

While the boys worked on the roof and second floor sheeting I worked on the vapor barrier on the first floor exterior walls.  Luckily I had help from Ciara (our daughter in law) but the funny thing is that we had no idea how to do it.  And Eldon basically told us to figure it out!  So...  Ciara did a little research on internet and we watched some YouTube videos and we were off and running!  We were paranoid about wrinkles in the stuff so we did a pefectly beautiful job - looked like a pretty wrapped present!  (I have since paid a lot of attention to local houses being built by contractors and have seen that their vapor barrier looks like a wrapped present also...  but by a 2 year old!  So I think we did a pretty good job!).  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the progress we made. 

Sheeting and vapor barrier complete and doors and windows go in.

Still not sure on the exterior door color, but love it otherwise!

A happy day with all the windows in.  (The above picture shows the trim around the windows already.  Somehow I missed pictures before that step.  Believe me, they didn't just magically trim themselves!)  You can also see that the roofing paper is on the roof now too - (there are two different colors because there are two different brands of paper!)

Eldon also trimmed out anything that would be alongside the metal roof before the metal went on, so that when I painted I wouldn't have to do it carefully around the metal. 

You can see where I've painted the white on the roof trim (and stopped when it got too scary high for me!!)

Logan eventually came to my rescue and painted up to the peak, as well as the dormers!

The roofers came to do the metal roof and I had something going on the day they were here so I wasn't here to take pictures.  I thought I'd get some the next day.  When I came home they were done!  So, no pictures of the roofers in action. 

About this time we began the debate of what to use for the porch ceilings.  This seems like it should be a simple decision but since the look we were going for was old country farmhouse it seemed like the best thing was beadboard.  It would've really been lovely to find some original tongue and groove beadboard from an old house.  Instead we did beadboard sheets and then I painted them.  It was a really big job to install (hammering upside down) and even more fun to paint (painting upside down)!  Here is a before and after picture:

In the "olden" days they painted the porch ceilings a light blue.  The story goes that it kept bugs off the ceiling AND it scared off the bad spirits!  I really wanted to paint the ceilings blue, just to go with the old farmhouse traditional, but I didn't have the courage in the beginning (more on that later).  So, the color I chose was Simply White (a Benjamin Moore color). 

After the porch ceilings were up, Eldon started on the siding.  We discussed a lot of different options and considered vinyl siding as it is very popular out here.  But we decided to go with the James Hardy Plank Lap Siding.  We are so happy with how it looks.  It was more money and certainly more labor intensive but it is extremely durable and beautiful when painted. 

Charcoal grey metal roof, bead board porch ceiling, trim on windows and doors, Hardy plank lap siding.   We love it. 

Once the siding was up all around the house, Eldon began the tedious process of trimming out the pillars and beams on the porches.  In the mean time I was painting, painting, painting!

Siding on house all painted!

This picture shows the beams and the posts with the trim/vineer that Eldon put on.  They looked just beautiful after they were painted.

Gable ends with roof vents in, siding complete and painted. 

One last thing to mention on this post.  About the time I was finishing up with the front porches, Southern Living magazine published an article on their 2012 Idea House and of course it was a Southern house with all the big porches, white siding, black shutters, etc...  AND light blue paint on the porch ceilings.  It looked so subtle and beautiful that it gave me the courage to paint our back porch ceiling the same color.  It is called Window Pane by Sherwin Williams.  I love how gorgeous it is.  It is extremely subtle and really only shows up in the late afternoon and evening.  Maybe you see it in the above picture?  I actually wish it was just one shade darker blue so someday I may change it out; who knows? 

Outside complete except for a few things:  black shutters, door hardware, and painting the dormers (I can't get up there!!)  - September 2012

One more post and it should bring us current to where we are now.  Thanks for reading along!

To be continued in The House on the Hilltop - Part Five

The House on the Hilltop - Part Three

Friday, November 2, 2012

Continued from The House on the Hilltop - Part Two

Once all the framing and sheeting was up on the exterior of the house we started on the posts and beams of the porches.  This was a huge job with extremely heavy lumber and I'm happy to say I helped Eldon every step of the way - once even driving the tractor for him!

6 x 6 porch posts in place on back porch

Huge beam going up on back porch, me at the controls!

Somehow I don't have any pictures of the posts and beams going up on the front and side porches.  I must've been too busy helping!  Once these were all up it was time for the trusses to be delivered.  We went through City Lumber in Huntsville for the design and build of the trusses.  They did a fabulous job in the design, as this was where the modification we made in the dormers came into play. 

One of the delivery trucks with the trusses.  We were worried about them making it up the steep hill but they did it.

Eldon also staged the trusses in particular piles that made no sense to me!
I was getting pretty paniky when I saw how huge these things were.   I know I heard Eldon say something about needing to hire a crane to get them on the house, but I guess I just didn't have a picture in my head of how big they would be.   

The crane to the rescue! 
This was one of those days in our building when we absolutely had to have help.  Luckily we have some really good friends and family that were more than willing to come for the day. 

Some of the trusses up, now to figure out the beam that goes in the vaulted ceiling of the living room.

More discussion on the beam!

And here comes the beam!  That's our son on the scaffolding guiding the beam (luckily heights are not a problem for him!). 

The beam is in place!
Trusses going up on the beam.

The awesome thing about the design of the trusses is that they came out all the way off  the house onto the beams of the porches.  Kind of a "kill two birds with one stone" sort of deal.  (If you look close you can also see all the two by fours attached as supports so that the wind wouldn't take any trusses off.  Eldon was worried about a storm that would lay them over like dominoes.)
A wonderful successful day - no one got hurt, no trusses came down, the crane operator was awesome, and a good time was had by all!  -  May 2012

The House on the Hilltop - Part Two

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Continued from The House on the Hilltop - Part One

 Exterior of our house plan
I guess before I get too much farther into these posts about our construction, it would be good to tell you a little bit about our house plan and why we chose it. We wanted a plan that would be a good house for a hilltop with a view - lots of big windows and wrap-around porches. We also wanted a house that would look like it belonged in this part of the country.    I had a certain style I was looking for and probably the best way to describe it is that I wanted an old farmhouse!   Originally (several years ago) we picked a house plan that was perfect for what we wanted...  open floor plan,  huge laundry room, large craft room, basement for the grand-kids, huge porches, big windows.   However, when it came right down to the nuts and bolts of what we could afford to build without getting a loan we had to face the facts that we needed to majorly down-size.  We determined what we could give up and what we couldn't (I was willing to have a tiny laundry room as long as I had a big craft room, two bedrooms instead of three, etc..).  So it was back to the drawing board and after weeks and weeks of searching and lots of frustration we found this plan.  We both loved it and decided that with a few changes it would work for us.  The modifications we made to the original plan: changed the gable roof dormers to shed roof dormers,  removed an unnessary exterior door in the kitchen, added french doors in the dining room, changed a couple window sizes, removed upstairs bathroom, removed fireplace, etc...  So, with all that said here are the original house plans (without the modifications).   

I guess I have never really thought about all the behind the scenes work that goes into building your own home. My husband spent hours and hours with the house plans, making supply lists and evaluating every aspect of the house. Good thing he's a retired Engineer because he's pretty good at that sort of thing! When it was too cold to be outside in December and January he was sitting at the table in our travel trailer pouring over the plans. In February he went back to Arizona to help out at his old job for the month so when he returned we were ready to start with a vengeance in March. 

Eldon spending countless hours going over and memorizing every detail on the plans

  The first order of business was to meet with City Lumber in Huntsville and place an order for everything we needed to complete the house on the exterior. It was an exciting day when we heard the rumble of the trucks coming up the hill with our lumber! 

 First truck from City Lumber, March 2012
Eldon had laid out pallets near the concrete foundation where the lumber was placed.  We probably spent an entire full day carefully covering all the piles of lumber and supplies with heavy tarps and roping them down to keep everything protected.  It was fascinating to realize later that Eldon had "staged" these pallets according to what we would need first, etc..  I just don't think like an Engineer does - it never would've occurred to me to do it that way!

In mid-March, the framing began.....

Exciting day.... first exterior wall up!

Of course our crazy horse, Promise, had to be involved!

We put the lower half of the sheeting on as each wall went up.  It helped strengthen the wall and also made it easier to put up the top layer. 

I hope you notice how "clean" this house is!  In between helping Eldon I keep everything clean. 
 It was super easy at this point.

We love all the big windows in this house plan.

Final exterior wall up!

Exterior walls complete, April 2012

 I don't know if you can tell by these pictures but on every wall we put up they are "attached" to the foundation with bolts that were placed in the concrete at intervals.  So when we framed a wall we had to drill holes at the perfect interval and then actually lift the wall up and down onto the bolts and then I would come behind and tighten the wall down onto the bolts.  Then we would add a temporary brace to the outside of the wall by nailing a 2 x 4 to the wall and to a piece of rebar that was hammered into the ground.  This kept the wall level and secure.  You can be sure that we never lost a wall to a wind storm (and there were many) during this phase of construction!  It was rock solid. 

Interior walls going in now.  House started to seem really, really small!

All interior walls complete, April 2012

Eldon so happy to have this phase complete! 

Post to be continued in The House on the Hilltop - Part Three