On Spur-of-the-Moment Travel

It’s amazing where you can be in just a few hours.

I’m on my third consecutive year as a frost control pilot. I haven’t written much about this, mostly because I haven’t actually had to fly a mission. But for the third year in a row I’m being paid to have my helicopter ready to fly with relatively short notice to fly slowly over almond trees on cold California mornings.

The Back Story

My first year’s contract, back in the winter/spring of 2013, had a relatively low standby pay for 60 days, along with compensation to move the helicopter from its base — in Arizona, in those days — to California’s Central Valley. Because I wasn’t sure about my living situation that winter — after all, my future ex-husband could get his head out of his ass and accept the very generous settlement offer I made and I’d have to move — I moved my truck and RV to California as well, thus guaranteeing a cheap and comfortable place to live near my work. (After all, that’s why I bought the RV; as a place to live when I was on the road with the helicopter.) I spent about two months traveling with Penny the Tiny Dog between Phoenix, Sacramento, and Las Vegas, getting called out just once for two days. I happened to be in Vegas at the time, so it wasn’t a big deal to change my plane ticket and spend a few days in California instead of returning to Arizona.

Last year I took a very different contract. It paid a generous standby rate for six weeks but I had to live near the fields. This turned out to be very convenient for me since I was out of my Arizona home for good and didn’t have a home in Washington yet. I brought the RV and helicopter down in mid-February and stayed until the middle of April. I really got to know the area, made new friends, went hiking and kayaking several times, got comped on a balloon ride, and even learned to fly a gyroplane. It was like being on a paid vacation in a pleasant place, with warm days and lots to do and see. If I did have to work, it would likely be between 3 AM and 7 AM, so days were free to do as I pleased.

Although the money was great, the drawback to that contract was the simple fact that I couldn’t get back to Washington until April. I wanted to be back earlier. I wanted to experience the spring: seeing orchards in bloom and leafing out, hiking along streams full of snow-melt runoff, starting a garden. So when December 2014 rolled along, I decided to try to get a frost control contract like the first year.

And I did.

I brought the helicopter down to California on February 22. The RV would stay home — with me — as I finished work on my home and enjoyed the spring.

That’s the back story.

Call Out

Frost control is not like cherry drying. In cherry drying, I’m required to be ready to fly at a moment’s notice. I can monitor the weather closely and vary my daily routine based on the likelihood of rain. When my clients call, they expect me to be airborne in minutes.

In my frost contract, the client monitors the weather closely and, if there’s a possibility of frost, he initiates a callout. My contract requires him to do this by at least 12 hours before he expects me to fly. This gives me the time I need to get to California from Washington. I’m paid for the callout — the fee covers my transportation with a bit to spare. And then I’m paid a generous hourly pilot standby fee from the moment I get to my California base until I’m released the next morning. If I fly, I’m paid a flying rate for that. The next time I’m called out, the process starts all over again

When I brought the helicopter down to California this year, I built in a few extra days to spend some time with friends in the area. When those plans fell through, I kept myself busy by reacquainting myself with the area and visiting other friends. But I couldn’t have timed it better. I was put on standby two of the three nights I was already down here. I was able to earn the callout and standby fees without incurring the related travel expenses. Although it did require a minor flight change for my return home with a $25 fee, that’s still pretty sweet. Really made it worth the trip.

I went home last Wednesday and got back to work on my home. The cabinets were installed on Thursday and Friday and the appliances were delivered on Saturday. Timing was everything and I lucked out.

My client called on Friday to make sure he understood how much lead time I needed to get back to California. Cold temperatures were forecast for Sunday through Wednesday nights. He wasn’t calling me out — yet. But he wanted to make sure he knew how much time would be needed to get me in position. I told him that if he called me by 3 PM, I’d be able to make it to the helicopter by 10 PM and be on standby overnight.

Of course, I watched the temperatures, too. Unfortunately, the forecasts of my various weather sources aren’t nearly as accurate as those available to almond growers, by subscription, from an agricultural weather resource. I had to rely on them to call me and didn’t want to fly down unless I had to.

So each day the forecasted low was 40°F or lower, I’d be a nervous wreck, wondering whether I’d get a call. Once 4 PM rolled along, I’d relax. I did this on Sunday and Monday and got a lot of work done at my place. But I did pack an overnight bag on Monday afternoon, just in case.

On Very Short Notice…

On Tuesday, at 3:22 PM, my phone rang. It was my client. He’d been sitting on the fence about calling me down. Forecasted lows were 32° to 39° in the area. He told me that he knew from experience that if the forecast said 32°, it could go lower. Better safe than sorry. He was calling me out.

Fortunately, I was sitting at my desk answering an email message when he called. When I hung up, I got on the Alaska Air website. There was a flight out of Wenatchee at 5:20 PM — less than two hours from then — and I needed to be on it. I booked the flight from Wenatchee to Seattle to Sacramento. I’d arrive at 9:28 PM.

While I was at the computer, I searched for car rentals in Sacramento. Thrifty had one for $22/day. Rather than book online, I called directly. With my bluetooth earpiece in my ear, I made car reservations as I changed my clothes and put a few more things into that suitcase.

I decided to board Penny. She’d been with me on the last trip and I thought I’d keep things a lot simpler by leaving her behind this time. So I packed an overnight bag for her with enough food for 2 days — just in case I needed to stay over an extra night. Club Pet is on my way to the airport, so dropping her off only took 5 minutes, especially since the paperwork was already waiting for me. As I type this, she’s likely playing out in the yard with the other dogs.

I checked into my flight and chose my seats using the Alaska Air app on my phone while stopped at a traffic light. I only had one bag — a carry-on — so I didn’t need to stop at the counter.

Seattle Sunset
I got off the plane in Seattle just after sunset.

I was at the airport, through security, and sitting in the waiting area by 4:45. That’s less than 90 minutes after getting the call. At 6:07 PM, I stepped off the plane from Wenatchee onto the tarmac at SeaTac. This is one of the best things about living in a small town with airline service: it’s so damn quick and easy to catch a flight out of town when you need to.

I grabbed dinner at SeaTac’s Terminal C before catching my flight to Sacramento.

It was an amazing flight. The moon had risen and was almost full. The land beneath us was illuminated with moonlight. I sat at the window on the A side of the plane and watched as we passed Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood. Our flight path took us down the Cascade range in Oregon, over the Three Sisters and other mountains there. I could clearly identify the towns I knew on Route 97 from the location of their airport beacons in relation to the town’s lights. The moon’s bright orb reflected back up at me from streams, marshes, and lakes. The flight couldn’t have been any smoother, either.

We touched down in Sacramento fifteen minutes early. I was out of the terminal waiting for the rental car shuttle bus by 9:30 PM. Later, I’d settle down in a Best Western for the night. I slept like a log until 5 AM.

Although a call to fly never came, I don’t mind making the trip. I will be well compensated for my time and the inconvenience of dropping everything to spend a few days in California. My client is satisfied, glad he can count on me to come when called. It’s all good.

I’ll kill some time here today and catch a flight home either tonight or tomorrow morning. I’m flexible and it’s a beautiful day.

Construction: March 3 Walkthrough

Show and tell + lazy blogging = another quick video of my new home progress.

On May 20, 2014, I began blogging about the construction of my new home in Malaga, WA. You can read all of these posts — and see the time-lapse and walkthrough movies that go with many them — by clicking the new home construction tag.

A lot has been done since my last video. I blogged about some of it but have fallen behind on other important parts. Life’s been keeping me busy these days and those of you who know me well know I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In any case, I did another walkthrough video. This one is a bit long and I go into some detail about the work that’s been done and still needs to be done. So grab a cup of coffee or a snack, settle down in your comfy chair, and take an 8-minute walk with me through my new home under construction as it was this morning, March 3, 2015.

More to come — of course.

My Barn Cats

Low maintenance rodent control.

Rodents are a fact of life in rural areas. They were in the garage — and sometimes in the house! — when I lived in Arizona. They were in my hangar there, got into my RVs, and made nests in my cars and motorcycles. Here in Washington, they’ve gotten into my RV and Jeep. I’ve never seen evidence of them in my shed or big garage, but they must be there. After all, rodents are a fact of life.

When I say rodents, I’m mostly talking about mice. Sometimes they’re adorable little mice the size of my thumb. I’d catch them live and release them far away. Until I started catching multiple mice each day. The novelty wore off and I resorted to traditional snap traps. Can’t use poison because I can’t worry about Penny eating it or poisoned mice. And the sticky traps are downright cruel.

Image of a vole from Wikipedia by user Soebe.

Here in Malaga, we also have voles. They dig up the ground and, if they get into your garden, can kill your plants from the roots. That’s one of the reasons my planters have chicken wire bottoms — to keep the damn things from getting in from below. Penny successfully caught and killed one last year and I suspect she’ll do it again this year.

While I normally wouldn’t mind rodents outdoors — after all, they are part of the ecosystem — they tend to attract snakes. And while I don’t mind non-venomous snakes like bull snakes, I do mind rattlesnakes. I killed three of them in my immediate yard last year. It’s unfortunate, because I really don’t like to kill anything, but I don’t want to worry about Penny or my chickens — or me, for that matter — getting bit.

That’s where the idea of “barn cats” comes in. The Wenatchee Valley Humane Society (WVHS) has what it calls a Barn Buddy Program. They capture feral cats, find homes for them, spay or neuter the cats, and hand them over to their new owners. The cats are strictly outdoor cats and owners are not expected to do much more than give them safe shelter and a steady supply of food and water.

The way I saw it, if I had cats to reduce the rodent population I might be able to reduce the number of snakes that come around in the summer months.

And it was a nice way to help out some cats that would likely be euthanized if not taken. Indeed, the WVHS does not go through the expense of neutering a cat unless an owner is already lined up for it. The reason: they only keep these cats, which are otherwise unadoptable, for about a week. Once a home is lined up for a cat, the WVHS sends it off to be neutered prior to handing it over to its new owner. It’s important to note that in the wild, if not neutered and given a safe home, these cats are only expected to live a few years.

I got my cats around Christmas time. Note that I said cats — plural. The WVHS prefers that you take at least two because they are more likely to stick around if they have company. The cats I got were a 1-1/2 year old black cat I named Black Bart and a 6 month old tabby I creatively named Kitty. I picked them up from the vet in large plastic kennels, set them up in my shed with a heater, food, water, and litter box (as instructed) and let them roam free inside for the required 3 week acclimation period.

My shed is small — just 6 x 8 feet. It’s full of garden and beekeeping equipment. There are shelves on one wall. There’s a hollow overhang over the door. The cats quickly learned to climb up onto the shelves or overhang when they heard me coming. Not only was it safer for them (in their minds) but it was also warmer since heat rises.

Kitty on a Shelf
Here’s Kitty, up on the top shelf in my shed.

After three weeks — and a few weeks before I went away for a vacation in Arizona — I installed a cat door on the shed. This would give them the ability to go in and out at will. When I knew they were using the door — cat paw prints in fresh snow was a dead giveaway — I removed their kennels and returned them to the WVHS for someone else to use. I also bought a feeder that would hold 10 pounds of dry food and a water dispenser that would hold a gallon of water.

It wasn’t long before I realized that they were spending a lot of time under the shed. Penny is actually the one who discovered this. I heard her barking from inside the shed and opened the door to let her out — but she wasn’t in there. It took a moment to realize that she wasn’t in the shed but under it, likely barking at one or both cats. I got her to come out and I think she hurt herself doing it because she was sore for a few days afterward. Since then, she often goes to the cat’s entrance to their undershed domain but doesn’t try to go in.

I’d occasionally see Kitty inside the shed, up on a shelf — especially when I still had the heater in there. But I didn’t see Black Bart at all and I worried a bit about him.

Understand that these are still completely feral cats. If they see me, they run away. They don’t know their names and, even if they did, they definitely wouldn’t come if I called. Although I suppose I could make some effort to tame them, I prefer not to. There are many predators in this area — coyotes, eagles, owls — and although they have the shed for safe shelter, I don’t expect them to live very long. For that reason, I’d prefer not to get attached to them.

Still, the water was drunk and the food was eaten so I knew they were around somewhere. While I was in Arizona, the litter box got quite disgusting, but I think that was actually a good thing. When I returned, dumped it, and refilled it, I soon realized that they were hardly using it at all. When the weather gets a little better, I’ll take it outside and eventually do away with it. They did their business outdoors before they were captured, they can do it outdoors again when the litter box is gone.

Based on Penny’s behavior, I knew at least one of them was living mostly under the shed. I assumed they came out to hunt at night.

Lately, however, I’ve been spending a lot more time up in my living space over the garage as I finish up construction. I often take a break in a chair by the window and look out over my property and the Wenatchee Valley beyond. Over the past two days, I’ve caught sight of both cats wandering around near the shed. On Friday, Kitty explored the inside of the cabinet installers’ cargo trailer. On Saturday afternoon, Black Bart sat sphinx-like on the concrete “porch” of the shed while Kitty wandered around the weeds nearby.

My Barn Cats
I shot this photo of my two barn cats out in my garden from my living room window only a few hours after writing this blog post.

It was rather comforting to see my barn cats out and about on a nice day — especially since they’d obviously become a pair and were roaming, at least part time, together. It was a sort of reminder of the success of the program. I admit that I’m tempted to get another two cats and set them up in my garage, but I’d rather wait until I’ve moved my furniture and boxes into my new home upstairs. Then I’ll give it some thought. (I don’t want people to think I’ve become a cat lady.)

As for rodent control, it’s too early to see what kind of difference they’re making. It’s still winter here and the temperatures have been getting down into the low 30s and high 20s lately. The ground is hard and the voles aren’t coming up to the surface. Or maybe they have been — just long enough to make a tasty snack for a barn cat?

Construction: The Appliance Delivery

My new kitchen and laundry room appliances are delivered.

On May 20, 2014, I began blogging about the construction of my new home in Malaga, WA. You can read all of these posts — and see the time-lapse movies that go with many them — by clicking the new home construction tag.

All the way back in December 2014 — a full three months ago — I decided to take advantage of an excellent Black Friday sale at Home Depot to buy all the appliances for my new home. I had planned my home and my kitchen to be simple, but comfortable. My appliances would be brand new and fully modern, incorporating the features I’d always wanted but never seemed able to get in my old life.

When I ordered the appliances, I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to take delivery of them. I was still sitting on the fence about whether I should go away for the winter or stay in Malaga and get my home done in time for a spring move-in date. As a result, I set the delivery date as far into the future as Home Depot allowed: three months. The date, which I didn’t even bother putting on my calendar, was February 28, 2015.

I subsequently went full steam ahead on construction and stuck around most of the winter to oversee subcontractors and get a lot of the other work done myself. Winter is my slow season for flying and I didn’t have any other things to hold me back, so I got a lot done. By the morning of Friday, February 27, my kitchen was starting to take shape with the cabinet installation mostly finished. I started wondering when the appliances would come — Home Depot had not called.

I was at Home Depot that morning and asked at the appliance desk. She punched my name into the computer and told me the appliances would arrive the next day.

“Saturday?” I asked. “They deliver on Saturday?”

“If that’s what you asked for,” she replied.

I left her desk in a mini panic. Was I ready to get my appliances the next day? I wasn’t — but I thought that maybe I could be. I had a lot of work to do.

Last Minute Preparations

The work that needed to be done fell into three categories:

  • Electrical preparation. Although my home’s in-wall wiring had been run and hooked up to the circuit panel, I had not yet finished the outlets for the refrigerator, dishwasher, washer, or dryer. (The range was done.) I needed to get the right receptacle for the dryer — which used 10/3 wire — and then I needed to wire all the receptacles — especially those that would be behind heavy appliances that I didn’t want to have to move.
  • Floor preparation. Although I’d laid the floor in my laundry room using adhesive vinyl planks, I had not prepped the floor under the kitchen appliances. I could not lay the Pergo I’d bought for the rest of my home — appliances should not be set on top of so-called “floating floors.” I needed to put flooring under these appliances that was the approximate thickness of the Pergo. That meant 1/4 inch plywood with some more of that adhesive vinyl on it. I needed pieces for under the refrigerator, range, and dishwasher.
  • Laundry room molding. The space between the vinyl flooring and wall in the laundry room needed to be filled in with molding or trim. I’d planned to do the molding myself throughout the house using 1 x 4 planks that I’d stain. The laundry room would be a good place to experiment because it really didn’t matter how it looked. What was more important was that I got that molding in place before the washer and dryer were stacked there, since it was unlikely that I’d ever move them to lay the molding in later.

During the day, as the cabinet guys labored to get the over-the-fridge cabinet installed — heck, it was worth the installation cost just to get that one installed right — I worked on outlets in the kitchen and made a list of the things I needed at Home Depot. When they left, I was right behind them, list in hand, ready to exchange another bunch of money for more building materials: 4-prong 30 amp receptacles, plywood, 1 x 4 lumber, stain, 20 amp outlets, outlet covers, etc., etc. (I manage my lists with the 2Do app on my iOS devices and Mac so I always have them with me and can update them from anywhere. Yes, I’m a geek.) I had brought along the measurements for the flooring under the appliances, so I had the Home Depot guy cut the plywood to size for me. That would likely save me about an hour of time and, although they’re supposed to charge for cuts when there’s more than one per piece, they never seem to charge me a dime.

Miter Saw
I bought this miter saw earlier in the month but hadn’t used it yet. Yes, I know it’s not the best quality or the most heavy duty, but I’m confident it will satisfy my limited needs.

I also bought a table saw. I already had a miter saw that I’d bought the previous week, but the cabinet guy had advised me to get a table saw to handle the rip cuts when I laid in that Pergo. I have to say that I absolutely love having all these power tools on hand. Although my 12 x 48 shop area is half full with my furniture and packed boxes, I’m really looking forward to setting up a permanent shop area once those things are moved into my home.

Of course, by the time I got home it was nearly 8 PM. I am not an evening person. I do my best work in the morning. By then, an annoying Home Depot delivery recording had warned me that delivery would be sometime between 8 AM and 11 AM. That meant I’d be up early on Saturday to get things done.

And I was. I was out of bed by 3:30 and dressed and coffeed up by 4 AM. I had to do things in the right order to make use of my limited time. That’s why I was rolling adhesive floor primer on three pieces of 1/4 inch plywood at 4:15 AM. It might need a few hours to dry and it was vital that it would be ready for the vinyl later that morning. I set it on the cabinet tops to dry.

Miter Saw Setup
I’d set up my miter saw on one of my rolling tool carts. That makes it easy to move anywhere I need to work in my shop.

Next came the preparation for the laundry room molding. I’d never used a miter or “chop” saw before so I made a few test cuts in the wood before making the actual cuts I needed. It was a lot easier than I expected it to be. My main concern was getting the left side and back side walls done; I could do the rest later. Once the pieces were cut and tested — they fit! — I got out the stain and a rag, donned a pair of disposable gloves, and rubbed in the stain. It was a lot darker than I expected — probably not the color I’d want to use in the rest of my home. But this was the laundry room and I didn’t really care how it looked. That room was my “test bed” — more on that in a moment.

While that dried, I got to work on the few remaining outlets that needed to be done: refrigerator, dryer, washer. It went very smoothly. At this point, I’ve wired about three dozen outlets in my home, shop, and shed so I’m getting pretty good at it. I resisted the temptation to wire other outlets that didn’t need to be done — stay focused! — and went on to my next task.

Fridge Hole
Here’s the space for the refrigerator, with the plywood and vinyl floor laid down in it. My Pergo is almost the same color.

The plywood pieces were dry and ready for vinyl. I had bought an entire box of the stuff with the thought that it might be suitable for my bathroom. But after putting it down in my laundry room, I decided it was too cheap looking for my bathroom. I wanted something nicer. I’d planned to return the remaining planks, but now I had a better use for them. I laid them out on the plywood pieces, using as many of the trim pieces from the laundry room that I could. For a scary moment, I didn’t think I’d have enough to do all three pieces. But by some miracle, I did — with just two 36-inch planks to spare!

Dishwasher Space
Here’s the space for my dishwasher. The outlet for the dishwasher is under the sink; a hole will be drilled in the cabinet side to bring the plumbing and power to this area.

The finished pieces actually looked pretty good. I had to trim one — either I’d measured wrong or the Home Depot guy had cut wrong — but my circular saw made short work of that, despite its dulling blade. (Note to self: get new blade for circular saw.) I laid each piece into position and fastened them down with the drywall screws I’d been picking up off the floor for the past two weeks.

Laundry Room Floor
The finished washer/dryer corner of my laundry room floor. This was my first stab at doing molding and I’m rather pleased with the results.

By this time, it was about 8 AM. I still had one job to do: lay in that molding. I went down into the shop and was pleased to see that it had dried. I rubbed it with a clean rag. It looked okay, but really a lot darker than I wanted. Still, it would work for the laundry room. I brought it upstairs with some skinny nails and a hammer, laid the pieces in place, and banged them in. I admired the results. Not perfect, but certainly not bad.

The phone rang just after I took this photo. It was yet another Home Depot recording telling me that the appliances were just an hour away. Timing is everything. I went into my RV and made some breakfast. It was about 9 AM.

The Appliance Delivery

The delivery went very smoothly. The guys pulled into my driveway in a good-sized Mayflower moving truck. The driver got out and introduced himself and his partner. They were from Moses Lake, which is about 90 minutes from my home by car. I showed them where everything had to go, apologizing for the stairs. They didn’t seem to mind — I suspect they deal with stairs on a regular basis.

My New Stove
I absolutely love the look of my new stove. Can’t wait to start using it!

Twenty minutes later, they started bringing things up. The range was first. It’s a flat-topped electric range that fits into my kitchen island. It was a perfect fit. The countertop people will adjust its height so that it’s flush with the counters. They plugged it in and I ran downstairs to flip the circuit breaker. It worked. Not only did the burner shown turned on in the photo come to life, but when I touched the panel, it lit up with all kinds of digital buttons. (Understand that I didn’t choose this range from an in-store display so I had absolutely no idea what it would look like in real life. All I’d seen were a few photos.)

Range Display
My new range even has a bread proofing feature!

The rest of the appliances came up one at a time. The dishwasher was pushed into place, but since the plumbing was not ready for installation, it was not fully installed. I’ll have the plumbers do that when they come, possibly next week.

Washer and Dryer, Stacked
Even stacked, my washer and dryer seem to fill my 6 x 5 laundry room. My water heater will go to the right of them and I should have enough space for a hamper just inside the door to the right.

The dryer was stacked on top of the washer — I couldn’t see any reason to put them side by side when they could be stacked to save room. Although my tiny laundry room looked extremely crowded with the two appliances stacked in there, both delivery guys assured me that it was the largest space they’d stacked a washer and dryer in the past week. They fully connected the washer and dryer to the water supply and vent rough ins. I flipped the circuit breaker for the dryer and we turned it on. It worked fine. I couldn’t try the washer because the plumbing isn’t done yet. But you better believe that if I have to go to the laundromat before the washer is hooked up, I’ll be bringing wet clothes home for my own dryer.

Refrigerator Up the Stairs
Here are the delivery guys, bringing my refrigerator up the stairs.

The refrigerator was the last thing to be brought up. They hadn’t been told to make the door hinge switch, so they did that when they got it upstairs. While they worked on that, I pulled out the shelf packing material. Soon they rolled it into place beneath the cabinet that had been installed so painstakingly just the day before. Later, when the cabinet guys returned to finish up, they’d put a spacer to close up the space between the fridge and the cabinet.

Between each delivery, the guys would remove all of the packing materials, including plastic, foam, cardboard, and tape. They took all that garbage — and the boxes the appliances had come in — away with them. (This was a huge relief to me, since I still had to dispose of a ton of foam packing material from my living room lights, ceiling fans, and power tool purchases. They were extremely careful about dinging the walls — indeed, I didn’t see a single scratch or handprint. They were friendly, polite, and completely understanding of my excitement. Because they were sweating from the hard work, I offered them Gatorade, bottled water, and Coke to keep them hydrated and even turned off the heat in my home so it wouldn’t be so hot for them. I tried to stay out of their way, wiring outlets in the kitchen and living room as they prepped each appliance for the trip up the stairs. It was a very positive experience.

Kitchen in Progress
It’s beginning to look a lot like a kitchen.

When it was done and they’d gone, I walked around my home, admiring my appliances. Only two were currently functional: the range and the dryer. But the refrigerator’s circuit could be flipped on as soon as I was sure all the outlets on that circuit were complete; I’d do that in the morning. Of course, the ice maker wouldn’t work until the plumbing was complete. Neither would the washer or dishwasher.

That made it pretty clear what my next big task would be: prepping the bathroom so the plumbing could be finished.

In the meantime, I started planning for my next big party: “Ladies’ Night, Kitchen Box Unpacking Edition.” I figure that after the countertops are installed at the end of March, I’d have a bunch of friends over to keep me company while I unpack all the kitchen boxes I packed that last winter in my Arizona home. I was bored out of my mind at the time, frustrated to no end by my future wasband’s unreasonable attitude and stupidity, so I’d filled the time by packing up more and more of what I’d bought for that home over the years. I know I packed more than I probably want to keep and figure that some of the excess might make nice door prizes for my friends. Any excuse for a party, eh?

Construction: Cabinet Installation

A time-lapse movie tells most of the story.

On May 20, 2014, I began blogging about the construction of my new home in Malaga, WA. You can read all of these posts — and see the time-lapse movies that go with many them — by clicking the new home construction tag.

Last week, before heading out to California for a few days, my kitchen cabinets were delivered, unpacked, inspected, and moved upstairs to my living space. Yesterday, the installers came to put them in.

The cabinets are Kraftmaid and very good quality — certainly better quality than the cabinets in my old Arizona home. They feature soft-close drawers and doors. (Oddly, I had a problem remembering to close cabinets in Arizona. That won’t be a problem here because my cabinets are actually fun to close so I’m not likely to forget.)

Installing the Cabinets
The installer and his helper fine-tune the position of one of the cabinets.

The install went pretty smoothly, with most of the work done by the boss and an assistant while the boss’s wife looked on, spent a lot of time searching for the right size screws, and chatted with me. Two or three cabinet doors need to be replaced due to cracks; the installer will take care of ordering the replacements, which are free. In addition, the bottom end cabinet with rounded shelves appears to be the wrong wood — that’ll also be replaced for free.

Here’s the time-lapse:

I should mention that I went with a professional installation for a few reasons. First, they’d handle the replacement of any defective parts. Second, they’d get the installation done right the first time. And third, while I don’t mind learning how to wire my home, I certainly have no desire to learn how to install cabinets.

Here’s how my kitchen looked by the end of the day. The rustic hickory finish I chose is full of “imperfections” that add character to the kitchen. And yes, there will be a breakfast bar on the camera side of that kitchen island. My stove will go between the two cabinets there.

Today, they’ll install the cabinet for the area over the fridge and will likely install the crown molding and a spacer under the microwave shelf. They’ll put on drawer pulls and door handles when they return to replace the damaged pieces, probably in about two weeks.

In the meantime, everything is set up and ready for the next part of the kitchen installation: appliances. I expect them any day now. The countertop folks will come in about two weeks to measure for their “template”; the countertops will be installed two weeks after that. By then, I should have the rest of the kitchen done.

Things are certainly moving forward nicely!

And I know I didn’t blog about the insulation, drywall, and painting. I’ll do that shortly; there’s a lot to show and tell!