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Blogging about gardening in zone 4, marriage, our golden retriever and life in general.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Things to look forward to

I’ve been working late the last few nights in order to get ahead on my workload. Monday I stuck it out until 9pm, yesterday until 8:30pm. There were breaks in there for bike rides and pilates classes, but mainly I’ve been working away at my Outlook “tasks” list in a pretty calm, methodical fashion.

One should note that this is rather abnormal for me. Generally I’m much more of a procrastinator, and then scramble-to-get it-done-with-your-back-against-the-wall-of-a-deadline kind of girl. I like to think I pull things off well this route; that I do my best thinking under pressure. I’m not sure if that’s true or just an excuse, buuuttt…

For some reason on Monday I was inspired to get as much done early this week as I could. We’re waiting on the go-ahead from the contractor to start tiling, so I want to have as much off of my plate as possible so I can help DJ as much as possible… or at least stay the hell out of the way and offer encouragement!

But I’ve wrapped up projects, signed permits, written reports and outlined reports for items that aren’t due for over a month. People, that’s some serious working ahead for me. The last time I did that was my last semester of grad school, when I was so desperate to get the hell out of Kentucky and Jen kept dangling promises of daquiri’s and poolside lounging if I got my shit done early. (I’m a sucker for peer pressure).

It feels good to be on top of things. Now I just need to get my office as organized as my workload! It’s kind of a mess in there, with bikes, biking shoes, helmets, DVD players (from the Grapes of Wrath event), piles of folders, and random pieces of paper everywhere.

I think my motivation to get stuff done stems from looking ahead at the next 6-8 weeks on my calendar. Its packed with board meetings, work, volunteering, and oh, yeah, maybe moving into our house IN A MONTH. (see: previous post where this freaks me out a little).

All of these items looming ahead make me want to take care of stuff ahead of time so that I can decide to work late instead of have to work late. Because I’ve got a lot to look forward to, and some of them require time… things like:
- Meeting with a possible photographer tomorrow morning!
- Moving into our house!
- Baking cookies in our new house
- Settling into our new house
- Presenting at the Montana History Conference 2 weeks from Saturday
- Seeing my parents and maybe my sister over Halloween. They might come help us clean the house and move into it.
- Making stuff in a crock-pot tomorrow
- Putting on the Lecture and Cemetery Tour on Halloween. Seriously, how fun can this be!
- Putting on the Preservation Awards on November 5

So yeah, a lot going on, but also a lot to look forward to. I hope this motivation sticks with me!

Monday, September 28, 2009

10 weeks (no, I'm not knocked up)

Can someone tell me where my weekend went please? I mean, I had ambitions people! Clean out the dead potted plants for one. Pick up my peppers and tomatoes from Shawna, who has been babysitting them since before we left for Oregon. Oh, hey, and how about blogging about the rest of our trip? Yeah… nada.

But I went to two bridal showers. I’m a terrible person, and an even worse bride-to-be, but I don’t really enjoy showers. I absolutely adore the two different women the showers were for this weekend, but showers just aren’t my thing. I enjoy the food, the alcohol, and the idea of them {a group of people getting together to celebrate someone’s impending marriage}, but I don’t like the games or the “oooh” and “ahhh” ing over gifts that are being unwrapped. Just not my style. But I found it’s better if you consume champagne, wine or margaritas. Preferably margaritas.

While I was Showering this weekend DJ spent some time getting ready to tile. Like a boy excited about his first real grown up homework assignment. I think we start tomorrow night, so keep your browser tuned in!

We met with the builder on site today, and he asked what we wanted for the fireplace mantle and surround… so I spent some time googling. I know what I want now, but can’t find the right subway tiles on Lowe’s or Home Depot. I guess maybe I’ll go to the hometown place tonight on the way home, but I’m unenthusiastic. Maybe I’ll swing through ACE hardware too… does anyone else adore ACE as much as I do? Um, their kitchen section? Yeah, you know what I mean. They have the Kitchenaid mixers in like 40 colors!!! Seriously, from white to black to celery to chartreuse! Love. Maybe they have a variety of tiles?

Anyway, this is what I’d it to look like. DJ, do you have any opinions?

I actually want to kick up the color around the fireplace. The walls (oh shit we need to pick an interior paint color) will be grey-sand-brown-ish, the trim and fireplace surround will be white. So why not some color?
Yes please!

In addition to talking about tileing, texturing the walls, and finishing the deck, the builder informed us today that the house would likely be done the first or second week of November.

Blink blink

:::pin drops:::


Folks, that might mean that they built and landscaped our house in 10 weeks between August 25 and November 1-ish. Let us just think of all of the things that happen slower than that…

Walking to Washington DC
Health Care Reform
DJ getting a passport, despite my nagging since last year at this time
My sister figuring out she’s dating a douchebag
Nancy Grace admitting she was wrong
My dad returning a phone call
DJ’s mom’s bathroom getting remodeled

Me loosing 5 lbs.

… I could go on and on. But the point is, dudes, a month and a week from now we could be living in our house. That is 5 weeks people. It astonishes me, and terrifies me a little bit. And makes me excited, and makes me wonder what the catch is. I mean, really, you’re serious? I get to move into this house when it’s done? Really? Okaaayyyy… but no, really? Really?

I now have officially no motivation to ever clean the bathrooms in our apartment. I mean, we’ll be doing the move-out clean shortly, right?


Friday, September 25, 2009

Doin’ it, doin’ it, and doin’ it well

I’ve got to interrupt what has been a wholly “Housebuilding” blog to revert to a personal item.

When I was a kid I imagined working in a field that I loved, doing something productive that helped make people’s lives better. Not nursing, or teaching, or another profession where workers really do save lives so blatantly, but instead one that might be more subtle. I wanted to do something that people appreciated; that at the end of the day they said “Courtney’s done something good for this community.”

Naive much?

In college I ended up a history major instead of in architecture because I was intimidated by the math required for architecture. And I loved my history classes. I considered becoming a history professor (and still do); what could be more fun than waking some freshman from their stupor of classroom boredom than enlivening their academic career with the great stories of history? Because that’s all history really is for me; a collection of great stories.

Telling those stories requires books, but also places. I know I sound immensely dorky, but the best historical sites I’ve visited are unstaged. There were no period actors at Fort Laramie, or the Point of Rocks segment of the Mullan Road. These are places a person can visit and make their own impressions of, and I love that.

My history degree parleyed into a Master’s in Historic Preservation principally because I think places like this are so valuable. And I believe I have the breadth of vision to understand that both high brow mansions and low brow shotgun shacks are important. I ended up in my current position because in the American system of historic preservation the most “teeth” for historic preservation is at the local level; where local governments can pass resolutions and ordinances dictating how extensively (or sometimes not) they want their historic resources protected.

The local level is where the trenches are. It takes hard work and management of the political capital a program gains in order to further the cause. Especially in a state like Montana, whose gun totin’ property rights advocates come out of the woodwork, particularly in a local election year like this one.

I’m aware of the political repercussions of my job. Frankly, usually the “deciders” have decided if they are going to prohibit demolition of extensive alteration of a building before I’ve had a chance to weigh in (sometimes I wonder why “they” pay two historic preservation professionals if they’re not going to listen to our professional opinion). My best recourse is to try to get something FOR historic preservation out of an approval of say, a demolition. I butt my head against this rock sometimes on a daily basis. And sometimes it feels like there is no going forward or back; I can’t “win” either way.

I’m not afraid of objecting, strenuously if necessary for the right cause. I’m not afraid of the political fallout, and I’m not afraid of the stakes. But it ebbs away at my confidence when I believe I’m not doing a very good job managing that objection so as to prevent damage to the program I take pride in.

I would never term myself a perfectionist. I’m a good “Big Picture” thinking, but don’t always think through (or follow through on) the details. I know this about myself, and despite self awareness it’s extraordinarily frustrating when I catch a loose end later that I should have tied up months before. But I am a good “Big Picture” person. I see where things could go, either way, and have to fight off the pessimism and look for the positive outcome sometimes. I have worked to train myself to find the compromise in a situation, where all get some of what they want, but some don’t get all they wanted.

There are so many “causes” I want to help along. I want the sorority to grow and have a property they are proud of, and debt free of. I learned so much about myself from my time inside the brick walls of AOII that I want other girls to have that opportunity without having the burdens of a mortgage and declining membership that we sometimes had. And as a historic preservation professional, I believe I can help them manage a historic building. And as a good public speaker, I believe down the road I can help them raise the funds needed for an endowment and trust to maintain and upgrade the building.

Sometimes though, I’m afraid that the time I give the organization gets eaten away by the day-to-day management issues that I am not interested it. And that my involvement might not be very productive. That my failure to follow through on getting something checked for repairs before it breaks ends up in a more expensive replacement.

I also really want historic preservation in Bozeman to have a life and vitality that is valued by all members of the community. Regardless of if it is through local government or a local non-profit, I want the general cause to be successful. And I work 40-55 hours a week doing my best to make it successful (despite the fact that I’m not the decision maker). I have outlines and roadmaps for how the program could evolve. But I hate getting dragged down into discussions over whether my design review of a project was inadequate because I didn’t notice that the porch posts were more “rustic” than the house’s 1930’s “style”. Damn. I know things like this matter, but my attention to detail (and willingness to nitpick an application so toughly) just aren’t up to snuff, I guess.

I could go on and on in areas I don’t feel adequate in. I often sacrifice my relationship with friends in favor of my job. Frequently my relationship with DJ bears the brunt of my frustration with myself; I just have to put in more time, and as it did last Friday, that means DJ is home by himself while I work till 10pm on a Friday night. That sucks for me and it sucks for him.

The kicker though, is that I rarely come home at 10pm on a Friday night satisfied with what I’ve spent the last kajillion hours working on. I think it could be better. I think I’ve not done enough. Or I think I have done enough, but someone the next week tells me that I really haven’t.

I feel overstretched, inadequate and generally unimpressive. I want to do my job well. And more than that, I want to leave my job satisfied that what I’m doing is good for the community. I want to create and leave a lasting imprint. I want to feel satisfied with my work at the end of the day and that I've created soemthing I should be proud of.

Sometimes I think I just want to be a quilter.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jonquil it is!

I painted test splotches on Tuesday afternoon, and we decided to go with the Jonquil color. It works with the gray shingles and white trim the best, and it's bright without being too BRIGHT YELLOW. I like it, and am glad to have that behind us. Now to choose an interior color....
Jonquil is the color in the middle, and the grey shingles I love! But I now also have a can of Big Bus Yellow hanging out... anyone need some yellow paint?

The windows arrived on Wednesday and some were installed. I have to say, we've had an incredible run of good weather. Its been one of those falls (so far) in Bozeman that you soak up because, dudes, lets not kid ourselves. Pretty soon we'll be leaving for work in snowboots, sweats under a skirt, coat, scarf, hat and gloves. But HEY! Guess who won't have to scrape her car for the majority of this winter? Yay for a two car garage!

The master bedroom window on the left, the window above the kitchen sink on the right.

The windows are all hung, which means the bottom sash slides up. I love these kind of old-timey windows. The small square windows scattered throughout the bathrooms, hallways and downstairs west will open up like an awning. These windows let light and ventilation in. Being a Kramer girl, I am rarely cold and more often than not hot, so good air flow is important. DJ and I were commenting last night that our apartment has piss-poor ventilation. There are windows that face south and west, but none that allow a breeze to be created in the house. Despite night time temperatures in the 40's we've slept with the bedroom window open all week.
Square windows for light and ventilation.

Every time I walk through the house I think of something else we'll need. This house will have awesome ventilation, but without door stops we'll run the risk of doors slamming shut. I'm concerned about this because when I was a kid living in Cheney, the family was hanging out around the house on a Saturday, and the wind came up quickly while all of the windows in the house were open. The door at the bottom of the stairs (daylight basement) SLAMMED shut with a terrific clap-- all the way through the casing and hyperextended itself. Enter four letter words from my dad...

Installed windows in the west front bedroom. This room will be hot in the summer since it faces south and west. Hmmm... we'll have to plant trees for shade!

So, door stops. Also, I'll need to paint the back door and the kitchen doors, since they'll be that boring stock gray with white trim. I would also like a storm door for the front door, since it's wood and faces south. A storm door with high UV resistain glass would slow the deterioration of the wood of the door. And I think they look cool.

Blinds in the master bedroom, specifically on the small square windows, will be important. I'm actually thinking of the old school roller shades. You know the kind, that you pull down and then they roll up with a snap? Window treatments in general will be sparse for a while. We'll put wood blinds in the bedroom, and I'm actually thinking of shutters in the downstairs front windows in the living room. I want to be able to have the top open for light, but the bottom closed for privacy... The guest room and bathroom will probably get curtains that I sew this winter, just on tension rods. I might do heavy curtains for the double doors in the kitchen and the large windows in the Dining Room and Master Bedroom; they'll be big holes of cold air in the winter. Any others past that will probably go on a gift registry for a blessed event!

Speaking of a blessed event, I think we're getting close to a full out decision on a date and location. More on that later!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tones of Yellow

I met my friend Erin at our house last night, before going and having a fun Monday night dinner with her. Erin is a friend I’ve made through Montana Gift Corral (they hire such great people), who has also agreed to be the Day of Coordinator for our wedding. I have three priorities for our wedding:

1. Excellent Photography
2. Open Bar
3. I’m not in charge (nor is my mom)

Thus Erin comes into the picture.

We met at the house so I could show it to her and do my daily check of progress. They’d framed up the deck and painted a color sample of the single stain and the siding paint. LOVE the shingle stained grey. It looks good.

They yellow however… just screamed “HI! I’m YELLOW!” which is to say it was way too bright. I’m looking for more of a creamy golden yellow, that says something like “oh, if you glance over here you’ll notice I’m an unobtrusive yellow.”

So, we started with Golden Trumpet (too bright),

BRIGHT! Like looks like a taillight bright. Looks like those yellow flowers on the bushes we don't like bright. Like maybe glows in the dark bright.

And this evening we’ll paint on testers of Jonquil and Big Bus.

Shocker, the Jonquil color comes from Columbia Paint's "Historic Paints" folder.

Yes, I might have our house painted like a big bus.

I probably never told you that I backed into a bus in the Bozeman High School Parking lot?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tile Tile Tile

The decision to do our own tile work has opened the door to my fantasies about tile. Ok, that sounds dirty, but you know what I mean; the possibilities are endless!

We're headed to Home Depot today to get our hands on some actual tile products to see what we like, but I did a bit of internet surfing this morning to find some inspiration. I should add that when we started building our house we hadn't considered a “theme” or “feel” or “vibe”; it just turns out we have the same tastes. We both like the look and feel of somewhere between 1900 farmhouse and 1920 craftsman. Sadly, we can't afford an actual 1900 farmhouse or a 1920 craftsman, especially here in Bozeangeles where even in this “new real estate market” prices are sill eye-buggingly out of our realm of possibility. Ahhh, the joys of a household where both are employed in public service.

But I digress. This vintage feel we were going for seems to be manifesting itself in the basic form of the house, with its detached garage and driving strips instead of the full width driveway. As we looked for inspiration on colors, we both kept returning to some form of yellow, with a natural finish cedar in the gable, and white trim, usually found on a house in one of the older parts of Bozeman (or Bend). Then on Tuesday, in one of our deciding fits [seriously, in 20 minutes we designed the electrical, moved the kitchen bar out a bit, picked a roofing shingle, picked siding width, picked a trim color and a siding color and then a shingle color] the builder pointed to a grey stain for the shingle and suggested that. Eureka!

The interior finishes are panning out to be the same thing. We haven't totally picked an interior paint color [although we should, they're painting on Friday- it'll be somewhere in the grey family], but the interior trim will be thick white boards like in our condo. The cabinets will be white in the kitchen and bathrooms, and the kitchen countertop will be black granite. It sounds like the granite guy has some remnants we can do the bathrooms with for cheap. And I like cheap. Cheap cheap cheap.

The point I'm trying to get to here is showing you the inspiration for the kitchen backsplash, and then the bathrooms [if I can convince DJ to tile the bathrooms].

For the kitchen, here is the kitchen layout as done by the cabinet guy. Not bad, huh?

Kitchen looking north. The windows will be hung windows, and they'll be a pendant light above the sink.

The stove (west wall). You might notice that the upper cabinets are 36" in height instead of the 30" standard. I liked the symmetry of a 36" high base, 18" between the counter and bottom of cabinet, then a 36" upper cabinet, then an 18" space between the top of the cabinet and the 9' ceiling. Anal, I know.

Standing in front of the sink looking towards the living room.

Now imagine white cabinets and a black countertop. And white subway tile backsplash. We will have undercabinet lighting for task lighting on the countertops, and I'm concerned that unless we break up the white subway tile backsplash it'll be glaringly white in there.

So white, so clean.

I don't want a kitchen that screams “HAI! I'm WHITE! Now grab your sunglasses! But at the same time, I'm to chicken-shit to do a subway tile backsplash in a color other than white.

Imagine that this countertop is black granite, and the accent was one of the options below.

So, in order to break up the white of the subway tile, I was looking for some tile we could put in for an accent band. Hmmmm silver? Black square? Black round might be a nice way to break up the squareness of the kitchen.

Stainless metal... super mod and would work well with the stainless steel appliances.

Hmmm.... I like the smaller subway tiles.

Ohhhh I like that the round breaks up the squareness of the kitchen edges.

The wildcard. Multi-colored accent?

{I had HGTV on in the background this morning, and one of the shows evaluated the value of 1921 craftsman whose kitchen was exactly like outs! White square cabinets, stainless steel appliances, black polished granite and beadboard as a backsplash... hmmn, probably cheaper and easier to install.}

So, stay tuned for which way we go on that.

Now, in terms of bathrooms. We're planning on continuing the entryway tile into the powder room on the first floor. It would just look goofy to break up the continuous tile in there for another type of tile. But with the idea of doing our own tile work, I'm trying to convince DJ that we should tile the bathrooms too. Because you know, why not bite off more than you can chew, right?

Here's the flooring I'm thinking of for the bathrooms, both the master bath and the shared bath upstairs. Hexagonal tile on the floor. I'd love to add more subway tile on the walls, but maybe later. That's way more than we can take on now! But, hex tile floors, and maybe a beadboard wall finish?

Ohhhh hex tile! But I'm not sure we're good enough rookie tilers to do the accent area around the edges...
White (or is it off-white) hex tile from Home Depot for the smashing price of $5.95 for a 12" x 12" square.

A smaller hex tile, also a 12" x 12" sqaure, but for $13.97 apiece. Bet you know which we'd go with...

So with that, off to Home Depot to paw over tile!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday Sloth

Wowzer, what a week! Today is the first Saturday that DJ and I have at home and unencumbered with stuff to do since… I can’t remember when. Maybe sometime in April? Today we’ve agreed to devote to doing as little as possible. That couch has a serious date with my ass in the near future, likely during the Texas- Texas Tech game. The only times I will move from it are to lean forward for more nachos!

This week was hectic. I have a project going on at work that is an absolute time-suck. It just eats up not only my available hours but a lot of my mental energy. I’m earning it on this one; for the fee I think I’m making about $.08 an hour.

On top of that, we’re in crunch time for house stuff. The bids for cabinets, granite, tile, flooring and etc. are in and we’ve got to make some decisions about what to spend our money on. DJ and I were wrestling with how to afford the granite we want in light of the cabinets we want and the flooring we want, and it just didn’t seem like there was anywhere obvious to cut. We could cut something, or downgrade it, but it only saved us about $50. For that much…. Ehh.

Then one of the guys we work with, who has built his own house, suggested we do the tile work ourselves. He’s got a book, and some of the saws, etc. needed. We mentioned it to our general contractor, who then suggested that his dad is a tile guy who could at the very least get us started and set us on our way. So, it looks like in order to cut the bill for tiling the front entryway from $1,100 we are going to do the work ourselves and save about $400.

I’m sure we’ll end up at Home Depot or Lowe’s this weekend perusing tile selections. You’ve already seen the entryway tile, and we need to pick a subway tile for the kitchen backsplash. We’re also thinking about tiling the bathrooms upstairs too… I mean, if we’re going to get all the stuff out, why not?

Additionally, the builder suggested that if $400 is a big deal to us (um, yes, yes it does), we might consider cleaning the place ourselves instead of hiring a cleaning crew. Heck yes man! I inherited from my mother and grandmother an exceeding sense of when something is clean. We are living in an apartment built by the same builder constructing our house. Nice little place, but their version of “clean enough to move into” is not mine. It was little things, like wood shavings in the cabinets, etc. Had I really cared or had the time when we moved in three weeks ago, I probably would have cleaned the apartment first.

So I can save myself $400 and the hassle of cleaning the house twice by just doing it ourselves. I’ll take that! Now to see if my mom can come help…

(Hopefully we will clean during a weekend with a good football game on the radio. When I was a kid mom would always deep-clean the house on the weekends dad had away football games. The three of us would wipe down baseboards and scrub windows as a way to keep ourselves occupied while listening to a nerve-wracking game.)

With all of this in mind, here are the most recent photos of the house!

The west wall of the downstairs has gone from this...

...to this! Sheetrocked. See the fireplace to the bottom left of the photo?

The kitchen island is framed up.

This is the window in the dining room. It faces east and I love how much light it lets in!

Hey! A front door! I walked through our front door for the first time today.

Standing in the kitchenn looking through the dining room to the living room.

We went with a concrete front porch, since it'll be so exposed to the sun and weather. I'm excited about how good it looks!

The west elevation of the house. In addition to sheetrocking, they roofed this week!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Being the decider

My dad used to make fun of me for being indecisive. “You’ve got to make a decision and go with it! Charge ahead!” he’d say. He’d ask me how I felt about something (like a political issue) and my answer would usually be “um, I don’t know enough information to make a decision”. I’d hem, and I’d haw, and then I’d do something, and then quickly reverse myself and start over.

If only dad could see me now (well he can, he’s alive, he just doesn’t actually see me doing this stuff). I’ve been the most decisive person you’ve ever met!
Standard overlay on the cabinets or full overlay? Full overlay (if we can afford it).
Standard Overlay. See the sides of the cabinets?
Full overlay. Very clean looking.

Colonial White cabinets or vanilla white cabinets? Colonial White.

Vanilla White (for the cabinets).

Colonial White; our choice.
Lighting fixtures? Here is what I/ we want:

Pendants over the bar area in the kitchen.

Exterior gooseneck on the back deck and above the garage. Under the porches will have can lighting.

Dining room chandelier. The shades can be changed out! Fun.

Fixture above the double sinks in the master bath.

Pendant light over the sink (inspiration). The finish should be a brushed nickel.
White white paint or sugar dust (for the trim paint)? Sugar dust.
Exterior wood trim color; "sugar dust".

Natural semi-transparent stain or walnut (it looks grey) (shingles on the upper ¾ of the house)? Walnut (grey).
Exterior shingle color on the upper 1/3 of the house, and the chimney.

Harvest gold or yellow trumpet (lap siding paint)? Yellow trumpet.
Lap siding color; "Yellow Trumpet" (boopah-pah-pbooo trumpet).
This granite (honed black) or that granite over there (polished black)? Um, can I see a material sample? But probably the honed black. With the extra-heavy duty sealant.
It goes on and on and on, the decisions.
And, oh, yeah, somewhere in here i'm supposed to work 40 [+] hours and plan a wedding. Right. Who needs sleep?

I’m [one of] the decider[s] (DJ gets to decide too)!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kitchen and Bath layouts

After yesterday’s barrage of words and photos, I thought I’d keep today’s post short. Mostly photos. And captions.

PS: tomorrow they’re wiring. Windows on Thursday. Sheet rock on Friday. Flooring at the end of next week. HOLY SHIT. Really, we’re really not going to move into this until the end of November? Because I’m kind of thinking it might be the end of October. {Someone direct me back to this post to eat my words in mid-November when I’m loosing my mind over how slow the finish work is going.}

Kitchen layout.

The wall the stove will be on (west).
Sink wall (north); the window will overlook the backyard and have a view of the Bridgers.

Island in the center of the kitchen, lookin gout towards the dining room and living room.

Master bath (top) and shared bath (bottom) layouts.

Master bath vanities. I wanted do add the center section to add more storage, like in the photo below.

Shared bath.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Back in the saddle… or out of it?

We arrived back in Bozeman on Sunday night at about 7pm. Roadtip of 40 hours of drive time. We stopped by the house, and look at what we found:
Hey there's a house there! And a garage framed behind it!

It’s framed! The roof sheeting is even on. The garage walls are framed and I expect they’ll put the garage roof trusses on today. The plumber has been working on putting that crucial aspect together. We’ll probably meet with the builder on site Monday afternoon to talk about a few framing tweaks and electrical stuff. I think we need to make a decision on exterior materials and color early this week; including roofing. We’re still leaning towards a yellow house; yellow lap siding, natural stained shake in the upper third and white trim on the windows, porches, doors, etc.

The sideporch roof is on, and the posts for the roof. This is the backdoor of the house. Since this area inside (the foyer) will have a tile floor, we will usually exit the garage through the man door, come onto the porch, under the collonade, and in the backdoor onto the tile. Good for snowy shoes!

From the garage looking towards the house. The big opening to the right is a set of French doors that open out onto the porch.

The gap between the garage and the house. The decking will be at about the floor height of the house. I hate stepping out a door and down.

It’s framed! The roof sheeting is even on. The garage walls are framed and I expect they’ll put the garage roof trusses on today. The plumber has been working on putting that crucial aspect together. We’ll probably meet with the builder on site Monday afternoon to talk about a few framing tweaks and electrical stuff. I think we need to make a decision on exterior materials and color early this week; including roofing. We’re still leaning towards a yellow house; yellow lap siding, natural stained shake in the upper third and white trim on the windows, porches, doors, etc.

View out of the west front bedroom windows.
View out of the east front windows. This is the best view from the house. It is in our master bedroom window, looking north to the Bridger Mountain Range. The slope of the roof is pretty shallow and I wanted to utilize this view so the window will be paired hung windows (the slide up kind). The little green strip to the right of the photo next to the street is a trail access, so this is our view forever! Wohoo!

The bids are also in for the cabinets, countertops and flooring. Now we need to sort things through and figure out what our priorities are for spending money. Basically, we’re in agreeance that the downstairs finishes take priority; I’d rather have awesome granite countertops in the kitchen and laminate in the master bathroom… then replace the master bathroom countertops if we feel like it someday. Backyard sunset.

From the west looking east.

You’ll also notice that it was a beautiful evening and sunset!

Now, onto the vacation recaps!

We got out of Bozeman at about noon on the Friday before Labor Day and booked it west towards my Grandma Joyce’s in Colton, where my mom had put together a quick BBQ with our family and my two grandmothers and one grandfather.

Along the way, I needed to do some Mullan Roading. While I was in the Montana Historical Society Archives in Helena, MT in May, I came across this great pamphlet done by Jon Axline of the Montana Department of Transportation about the “Point of Rocks” segment of the Mullan Road, outside of Alberton, MT. It included a map and information, and our earlier attempts to visit the area were rained out. We got there (Alberton Exit, #75) at about 3pm, and since it was only about 85 degrees and blisteringly sunny, decided to walk around.
Walking west along the Milwaukee Road.

The area is easy to find, and is adjacent to both I-90 and the old Milwaukee Roadbed. We drove down the Milwaukee line and stopped at the overgrown parking area. The maps and pamphlet indicated the area is owned by MDOT through a three way land swap, so I felt comfortable hiking around in there, but probably wouldn’t have done it without DJ there. Despite traffic wizzing by ay 75-90 miles an hour below, the walking “trail” still felt pretty isolated.

Interpretive signage by the Mondana Department of Transportation.

Sure! Why not?

Out of the trailhead you walk through the gate and along the Milwaukee Roadbed for a bit, and then hang a right and head up the hill. This genius wore a sundress, but did at least think enough to put on tennis shoes. It’s not quite a “trail”; it’s an overgrown road (hello, Mullan Road!), and weeds were waist high and no fun to tramp through in bare legs. But I’m tough. All in the name of cool old shit.
The whole area was exposed in 2005 after a fire along this hillside wiped out the vegetation in the area. Despite what a Subaru-driving tree hugger might tell you, forest fires can actually be good things. In this instance, the fire burned off 154 years of overgrowth that camouflaged the Mullan Road, as well as roads cut into the area built so the Milwaukee Road could build its line through here in 1908. Since that fire, the weeds have come back, but it is still passable.

We walked the entire segment, which winds through the rocks on the bluff on the north side of the river, before looping back down to the Milwaukee’s tunnel through the area and railroad bed. The wagon road is little more than a trace through the hillside. It’s narrow, and as it hugs the terrain I imagine that the corners would nearly unmaneuverable for a vehicle traveling more than five miles per hour.
Walking it is slow going; since the road has to account for the rock formations that Mullan’s men didn’t have the time or black powder (it was 1859) to blast through. In choosing a route, Mullan had to consider both the fastest and most direct route while also being mindful of the endurance of the oxen or horses which would pull wagons or carriages through the section. The Point of Rocks section is a long ways from either end of the trail in Walla Walla or Fort Benton.

With this in mind, walking this segment of the road is probably a mile and a half of doubling back along a drainage and hiking above where you’ve just been, but only three quarters of a mile as the crow flies in a direct line. The juxtaposition of the Milwaukee Roadbed below and Interstate 90 just a bit further to the south in addition to the slow moving Clark Fork River really make this wagon road a marvel in outdated road civil engineering.

While standing in the blistering September sun, on a bluff overlooking the Clark Fork River and listening to semi’s wiz by on I-90 below, I started thinking about how historic preservation professionals measure a site’s historic significance. Specifically, “Feeling” is one of the Secretary of the Interior’s seven items of Integrity for a historic site. If the site can’t convey its originality of location, materials, site, association, and feeling, etc., it doesn’t have enough integrity to convey its historic significance. As you can imagine, explaining or defining “feeling” is difficult. How does one quantify feeling? In this case, walking along a 15-20 wide section of roadway which winds in and out of a hillside in segments so narrow that a modern automobile could not pass through, I can say that I “felt” what it was like to travel the Mullan Road.

This section of the road is not yet listed on the National Register of Historic Places, although Jon Axline is working to have it listed. It is available to the public, and there is interpretive signage on the site, but there is little advertising the site for public use. But if you’re in Alberton, and need a good hike, I can recommend a place!

After Mullan Roading, we sprinted for Colton, and got there in time for late hamburgers with the grandparents, parents, sister and uncle. It was a fun, funny, laid back gathering of people. Gretchen tried on her bridesmaid dress for the wedding (it fit!), I borrowed Grandma Joyce’s wedding dress, which I’m going to wear for the wedding, and everyone had a chance to ooohhh and ahh over my engagement ring and us. It was fun; but the real punch line was when they started telling stories about people they know. They had poor DJ’s head spinning around with all of the side stories, back stories, relatives, backroads, family feuds, etc. Poor guy!

Another great part was how peppy my Grandpa Bob was. He’s been struggling as he’s in his mid 80’s; can’t drive anymore and has lost most of the use of his left side. For a guy used to working outside with his hands (as a farmer), the loss of his mobility and usefulness has been hard for his psyche. But in the summers he can be out roaming around, and he even reminded me that he owes me a trip up around Steptoe Butte. I need to make time to take him up on that!

From Colton we went down to Clarkston to stay at my mom and dad’s condo. More later!