Bob & Ellen's Excellent Adventure

Black Sheep Tower House

Good Stuff

October 8, 2021 Things, good things, are happening both inside and outside the house. My brother Bill flew into Albany, NY from San Diego to see Mom, and brought her to the house for their first visit. (Interestingly, Brian the electrician lived in San Diego, so the two of them had lots to talk about.) Brian has been putting in coil after coil of Romex “home runs” back to the main box. The left photo shows the wiring for the stove (induction/convection) which comes up from the basement. Also visible is the line set for the mini-split unit (one of four total), which will be outside the kitchen and under the non-existent but future deck. 🙂 The right hand photo shows the line set going up to the 3rd floor where the head will heat and cool the “transom window/train room” and the upper reaches of the great room (along with some Big Ass Fans, yes that is their real name :-)).

The room above the kitchen, our “office” and reading room, just had a single plank across the empty wall for all these years – we debated whether to make it a half wall, a full wall, or something in between. Now that it is framed in with the open transom windows, we are very pleased. Sunlight and air can pass through the openings, Bob can look down from his desk area (if he wants), yet there is some privacy. The view on the left shows the kitchen and new wall above it as you walk into the big room from the entryway. This wall is also important in a practical sense, because of the aluminum kitchen ceiling… and the Gluelam posts…. there is a lot of wiring for a lot of lights and outlets, and the fiber and cable wiring going into the office too – and we are NOT drilling holes in either the wood or aluminum! Brian is quite genius in figuring out the switching. The three boxes stacked into that narrow vertical bay will give us control over the lighting from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor, the LED light strips that we hope to put in the aluminum stair stringers for both sets of stairs, and the ceiling lights and fan in the office itself. We’ve been discussing smart home systems, and are making provisions for making the house user friendly through wifi hubs, smart switches and so on, without going overboard. (This house is not exactly a “new build”, and not exactly “normal”, so everything is a challenge.) This topic deserves a post of its own in the future, but for the moment we are trying to think ahead, yet plan for what we see as practical and needed for our own lifestyle. One thing I can say right off is that we don’t plan to walk up 4 flights of stairs to turn off the forgotten lights in the tower room! LOL

The bathroom fans are going in, and out the walls and roof…. we wish we didn’t have vents sprouting everywhere on the outside of the house, but thankfully Todd and Jason spray paint them black to match, before installing. 🙂 Now that I am aware of their unsightliness, I notice them all over the place on other houses. Isn’t that the way of it, once you notice something annoying?

A picnic in Bedrock Gardens with Mom and Bill, after wandering the spectacular, peaceful and inspirational gardens and grounds. They loved it, as I knew they would. 🙂 Here is a peaceful soundtrack to an exquisite little video of Bedrock Gardens.

When in New England, lobsters must be eaten. Mom and Dad always had that tradition, sailing up and down the coast, and I am in complete agreement! Mom splurged for the 2.5 pounders at Saunders Lobster Pound in Portsmouth, and we steamed and ate every bit of them at Sandy’s house.

So, a year ago or so, an engineering concern was raised to us about the basement walls. At the time there was a ton of junk in the way, which has mostly been moved out, and now it is easier to inspect. These concrete walls are from the original saltbox house (1988) that burned (2004) and was replaced by the current tower house (2004-2008). The concern was that a bow existed in the wall that jogs out, and it was unclear when that occurred, if the wall was damaged, and if it would continue to crack or move, therefore needing remediation. The kind of thing that you wonder about when you wake up in the middle of the night… No one has been able to find any cracking whatsoever, yet it appears the wall is leaning in at the top. Bill, an engineer, was curious enough to help me take a closer look. Using all the modern technology at our disposal, we located a plumb bob and some string… measuring at multiple locations, multiple times, we determined that the wall is out of true 1/4″ in 7 feet of height, and 3/8″ in 16 horizontal feet. Considering that the other walls in the basement also measured slightly out of true, but in two cases leaning slightly OUTward instead of INward, we speculate that the original foundation pour was just sloppily set. But don’t worry, even though our son Josh, the civil engineer that builds concrete bridge highway overpasses in Texas, is of the same opinion, we’ll continue to explore this issue before we get too far down the road!

Below are a few inspo pictures… on the left, we like the stone fireplace and the cove lighting on the ceiling, and the general similarity, even though it really looks more like a ski lodge. These lights…. aren’t they cool? We are thinking of something like this in the very tall 18′ stairwell to the lowest level, with the half wall in the entryway allowing the top section of the lights to show – it could make for a stunning entryway, and also gorgeous as viewed from the main room… oooh.

Lastly, grandbaby content: Scarlett models a few of her many, many, October/Halloween outfits! Makes you smile, doesn’t it? 🙂

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