Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chapter 3 (part 3!)

Husband had arranged to rent a big truck to go and get the new Airstream trailer, as it needed something meaty, being 32ft long. He left on a monday morning, to get down and back when the roads were quiet, and planned the route he would take. I would have loved to have gone with him. If anything, for moral support, but there was just too much prep work needed at the new cottage for that, so we just kept working away, hoping to here from him soon.

You may remember back a couple posts, I mentioned the pretty kitty hanging around when we went to see the trailer? Well, the first news I got from husband that day was when he texted me this picture:

He took it with his phone camera as he was preparing to leave San Juan Bautista with the Airstream for the drive home.

Oh lord, I thought. Looks like we now have a cat.

He told me later that when he arrived at the trailer, the mournful kitty had been hanging around begging for a kind hand and some food. He asked the seller if she had been joking about the cat being abandoned. She said, sadly no, it was true, and asked him if we could possibly take her with the trailer. By that time, the cat had already jumped into the big truck, and made a comfy spot on the passenger seat, looking at Husband as if to say 'I'm ready! When do we go?' So she sat next to him purring all the way home. Well, what was he going to do?

I took this picture as he pulled into the driveway:

After some careful maneuvering, it looked great in its new spot.
I dashed to the store for cat food and a litter box. Then I shut the dogs away so I could greet the new family member. At this point I was seriously wondering how this was all going to work, as the dogs are horrible about cats, and chase them whenever they get the chance.

The poor cat was desperately thin, and so, so hungry. I fed her bowl after bowl of food, watching her finish and then ask for more. I believe she cleared five bowls before I thought I'd better be the one to stop as it didn't look like she would. It was decided that she should live in my work studio for the time being, until we could figure out the relationship with the dogs, so we closed her in that night with a dog bed shoved in a cardboard box. Five bowls of food resulted in five poops in the litter tray the next morning, and Trailer Kitty (as we were temporarily calling her) was hungry again and ready for more food.

Here is a picture of Skinny Trailer Kitty when she arrived:

More about Trailer Kitty and the Airstream next time!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chapter 3 (part 2)

Where was I?

Oh, 102 emails about the trailer by 8am. 

148 by 10am...

I started to go through the mails in the order that they came in, but given there were so many, decided to pass on any that hadn't left a phone number.

By noon that day, 'Mary' had come to see the trailer and by that evening, her and her husband were figuring out how to remove it from it's spot. They agreed to pick it up in two days, which instantly shot a job to the top of my 'To-Do' list: clearing everything in it's path.

This included a well used composting pile, several six foot shrubs, an arbor, birdhouse on cemented post, a mini greenhouse and a flower bed: Literally a wooden double bed with dirt as mattress and box springs, some 4 ft high. OK then. My Mom and I spent at least 12 hours solid the following day creating this path that hadn't existed before. This was back at the beginning of October, and anyone who lives near the Bay Area may remember we had a couple of incredibly hot weeks then. I think on that day it was around 102 degrees C.

The next item that had suddenly shot to second place on the 'To-Do', was to create a proper gravel pad for the new Airstream to sit on. The previous trailer had been sat on very sandy soil. So much so, that the tires we thought were flat were just, in-fact, buried up to the middle in sand! (good news for it's soon-to-be owner) The entire driveway also needed to be graveled, as it was essentially just dirt. The heat made it incredibly dusty, but we knew that any rain would turn it into a quagmire. So, after a few phone calls and a few hours sleep, Husband and I found ourselves wearing gloves, holding shovels and waving back an entire truck load of gravel. We spent the entire day prepping the site. That day was the hottest so far at 104 degrees C. That was also the first of two truck loads.

Incidentally, the cottage has a pool. On those extremely hot days, after working so hard, all I wanted to do was go jump in it, but previous lack of treatment and the heat had turned it a remarkable shade of opaque Tiffany glass green, so sadly, that was not an option.

Fast forward a few days: (not without their own incident - will need an 'end note' posting, or some-such. Fear this chapter may become a book in it's own right.) Mary and Husband came to get the trailer, and it actually rolled away (us cheering and crossing fingers) to it's new home in Boulder Creek somewhere. 

(Mary called me later: only a few bits fell off of it on the way home)

 Starting to pull 'Big Orange' out.
 Ehren (our electrician) helping to see it out.

View back up the garden (October)

Next on the list: collect the Airstream.
And that (Sorry. Can't believe it) Will have to spill over into part 3.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chapter 3 (part one)

I've mentioned the cottage is small? Well, tucked away in the garden behind a wisteria covered pagoda, was an orange trailer. I think it dated back to the 50's, and at some point had been painted orange to match the front door of the cottage.
Once upon a time it had been used as extra living space, but was a bit beyond that by the time we got the keys, and it was just described as an Artists studio, and listed as personal property on the paperwork.

Within the first week, we decided it really needed to be replaced if it was going to be useful, as it would be the only place for visiting guests. Our guests tend to stay a while, as our families are from the UK, so three to five week visits are more common than the occasional weekend visitor.

We scanned Craigslist for possible replacements, and quickly found an older 80's Airstream trailer for sale within an hours drive of the house. If you know Airstream trailers, you will know the cool aluminum appearance on the outside hasn't really changed for decades, and we felt the retro look would compliment the garden and cottage. We decided to go and check it out, and were impressed with the layout and accomodation: A bedroom, bathroom with shower, dinette, and fully equipped kitchen with stove and fridge. Even a large lounge area with sofa. Perfect for out needs. The inside was suitably dated, but that doesn't worry me. The price was good and I am the Queen of remodeling! 

A pretty little cat hung around the whole time we were looking at the trailer, desperate to get in and have some love. The seller explained that the cat had been left by it's owners when they were evicted from a nearby house. The trailer tenant had fed the cat until she left for Colorado, so now the cat was on it's own. We agreed to have the trailer, and agreed to come back the following week once we had prepared our site and organized a large truck rental, as the trailer is 32' long, and needed something pretty hefty to pull it. 

The seller said we should take the poor cat too, as no-one wanted it. Yeah right, I thought - just what I need! Something else to take care of. I have three dogs, a three and a half year old child, and a new house in need of work. I think I have enough going on.

We drove home and saw the old orange trailer smiling at us from the spot which needed to be empty for the fancy new Airstream that would be arriving in seven days. Realizing we had to get rid of it, I started to make a few enquires as I was starting to stress that it would end up costly us a bunch of money to have it disposed of. Before bed, I had the sudden thought to post it on Craigslist. 'Free - you haul' kind of thing. Couldn't hurt?

Next morning, synced email to phone, wondering why it was taking so long.

Ah - 102 emails about free trailer by 8am. Maybe I won't have problems getting rid of it after all??

Here ends part one of Chapter 3. Realizing there is only so much you can put in one post.

Pictures of 'The orange one' as Posted on Craigslist. Looks rather nice when I see it now. But seriously, you wouldn't really have wanted to spend a weekend in it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Chapter 2

Next came the month where days blurred into nights and into weeks. We got the keys on September 18th, the same day my Mom graciously flew in from the UK to help me out for a few weeks. I picked her up from the airport and we drove right to the new cottage, meeting husband who had collected the keys from the Realtor. 

We wandered round the now empty rooms, for the first time. Mom didn't say a word until the end, when she finally inhaled and said, "Well, it's different." (translation: 'what the hell have you done??!!'

I had that momentary thing where I was thinking the same thing. All that stress and money, and now the furniture was out, it looked filthy and tired, and small! I brushed the thought away with some of the dirt, and got down to work.

Within a week we had the floors refinished, entirely new electric, furnace and heating installed (it had no heat before) and in two weeks, it had propane installed, new wood burner stove, the interior painted, and we had cleaned it throughly enough to move in. I won't go in to extreme details, but put it this way: It took me 6 hours to clean just the bathroom. The 5ft x 7ft bathroom. No time exaggeration, no slacking, enough said.

Meanwhile, I was also trying to fix up, what would become, my working space, which needed insulation, dry-wall, electric and painting before our move in date when I would need to fill it with furniture.

This WILL be my studio (before picture)

Two weeks later! Penny and Cookie relax on the sofa.

The other end - it's a long thin room. Finished: for now anyway. Sure there will be adjustments, but at least I can work.

I don't know how, but we pretty much did it. More happened too, but I'll save that for another post, as it involves the introduction of a new animal character to the story! Next: Chapter 3!