From Short Skirts to Sledgehammers
In the true nature of a faithful servant, I am officially beginning the documentation process of SaltySeattle’s renovation 2.0. I say 2.0 because we remodeled our current home several years ago, while we were living in it, while we were both working full-time jobs, and while we were planning our overseas 80-person wedding. I look back on that time and wonder how exactly I’ve gotten so soft. We spend every day working on 2.0 and at the end of each, I pool into my pillow as fast as a bottle of spilt wine. Of course the pitter patter of eager toddler feet does add a certain difficulty to things…
At first we focused mostly on the grounds, rather than the interior of the house, because we gave the previous owner two weeks post-closing to remove his personal items. Notice how I say “grounds” as though I own some palatial English garden? That is not exactly the case. Human-eating forest would be a more apt description. In fact the five acres are so heavily wooded, the house is in real danger of being swallowed by the woodsy beastess. I do love Madame Nature, but I need a little breathing room, plus I’d prefer she not engulf my house.
So we swashbuckled. I took thwacks to the face, arms and legs, and swallowed approximately 37 spiders. The spider part was for the best as we keep forgetting to pack along our own provisions and we’ve learned that pizza delivery just ain’t available in the c-untry (that’s how the locals pronounce it). Cell phone service is also “challenged” along with a host of other conveniences some of us take for granted, like internet. And pedicures.
In an hour, we had made a pile as tall as Bentley, who is an extremely limby, giraffe-like toddler. In two days, the pile had grown to be about as tall as the beanstalk from Jack and the Beanstalk. Now we have to figure out what to do with it. Apparently wood chippers, chainsaws, and all manner of power tools are about to replace Louboutin boxes, fur stoles, and all manner of costume jewelry in my storage zone.
At one point, a neighbor came by. This is no small feat because our (nature-laden) driveway threatens to wolf down any vehicle that attempts it. This neighbor came prepared, however. He is the unofficial “lawman” in our neck of the woods. He has been there for an eternity and a half (by his own account), and he is a retired Seattle Police Sergeant. I wish I had turned on my microphone during our brief conversation because even though I was enthralled by the worm-like Lhasa Apso bouncing off his upper lip, I still managed to hear enough kooky colloquialisms escape his mouth that I just know I’ll need to write a book about him.
And then there was the hoarding tendency of the previous owner. I am not sure how he managed to accumulate several lifetimes worth of possessions into a house that legally wasn’t even fit to reside within, but he did. We opened a freezer and found hundreds of vials of curious liquid. When asked what it was, he responded, “DNA”. And then, since he was reminded of its presence because we unearthed it, he proceeded to empty the DNA into different vials and leave us with the spent remnants. Yum. We also found a tapeworm in a jar, a rattlesnake carcass in a cage, and numerous other unsavory items that the good people of Craigslist still managed to find appealing, if for free.
What we couldn’t foist off on Craigslisters, recycle, or take to Goodwill, we put in a giant dumpster. We’ve filled it twice now. Remind me never to hoard.
The good news is we are now on to demolition. Bye-bye to terracotta tile, hello to an as-yet undecided pristine and radiantly-heated floor. There was terracotta tile in our last remodel too; it haunts us. This time we’re using it as filler under the deck that we will one day turn into a patio. Although I haven’t decided on the floors, I have decided on is this induction range from Thermador:
If you know much about induction cooking you know that it has an unprecedented ability to heat quickly and evenly. Thermador has taken that lightyears further with this new induction cooktop, however, because the entire surface is usable cooking area rather than limiting it to specific burners. This means the cooktop can sensor the size of pan or pot you place on it and heat accordingly. There are 48 induction coils underneath the surface that give it 63% more cooking area than competitive products.
While that’s all technical speak, the translation for someone who cooks constantly like me equates to versatility and practicality the likes of which I can hardly imagine but desperately need. Do you see how happy I was just standing near it when I had the opportunity to tour the Thermador showroom a few weeks ago?
Speaking of someone who cooks a lot, I’m starting to realize in doing this remodel how appreciative of life I am. My normal routine pre-remodel allowed me to spend many hours planning and creating meals all based on intellectually-fascinating (to me) concepts that manifested on the plate.
Now that I’m literally swinging a sledgehammer from sunup til sundown, I’m lucky to toss an egg into the sous vide water bath and fry up some bacon so I can whip up the laziest of all pastas- carbonara. While that may not seem like such a hardship, it does make me incredibly grateful for my former and soon-to-be life. Although I’m desperately missing sinking my teeth into projects that further my culinary endeavors. I check in with social media and see that all of my friends and colleagues are working on brilliant, fascinating things and I can’t help but feel like I’m in a holding pattern and that life is passing me by. I try to remember that it will all be worth it in the end, that there are different types of work, and breaking my back can be equally as satisfying as breaking my brain.
My life post-remodel may not come as early as I want it to, but I’m pretty excited about living in the forested country. There is a lot of wildlife, for one thing.
We’ve hatched a nest of baby birds, rescued a jet black amphibian of some sort from a too-dry spot in our crawl space, seen deer eating off our deck, and overloaded on the sweetest salmon berries I’ve ever tasted in the last week, so I can only imagine what’s to come. Bears, probably.