Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Celebrating the Season!

I've been swamped for 3 weeks already, but here are a few photos (other than flood damage pictures) that I've managed to take.

Golden Forest Floor - Allaire State Park, NJ

Autumn Pathway - Allaire Village, NJ

We have a terrific view of the sunsets from our hotel room!

Cemetery Fog - Tennent Church Cemetery, Tennent, NJ

Happy Halloween Eve!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What Have I Been Doing??? Do You Really Want to Know???

Well, not much of anything is happening - then again, I guess I'm making odd things happen - as requested/required by the renovators. Let's see, so far I've done the following:

1. spent 50-60 hours packing up and supervising the packing for everything on the main floor
2. had the washer & dryer declared dead
3. puchased a new set with 15" pedestals (as yet undelivered)
4. had the hot water heater decared dead & removed from the premises
5. made arrangements for a new one to be installed with a REAL metal (not plastic) drain pan AND a drain (none was in the utility room)
6. had the alarm systems people out to say they had to install a completely new system (it was in the house when we bought it and it is wired to all the smoke alarms - but we aren't hooked up to the cops, fire dept. or security company
7. washed all the doll house furniture that did not have any fabric on it & packed it up again
8. worked on choosing wall paint
9. worked on choosing carpeting
10. separated the stuff to be dry-cleaned - such as the clothes in the main closet below the laundry room, all curtains & drapes, most of the bedding, all quilts that were hanging on the walls, etc. (which has since been sent to the cleaners)
11. separated the damaged/destroyed items/furniture for the insurance adjuster to review (maybe next week?)
12. tried to ascertain the replacement value for the destroyed/damaged items
13. removed everything from the walls
14. painted the exterior trim on the front and back doors

This coming week:

1. make sure the electrician has fixed the ceiling fan/light in Frank's office prior to
2. the electric inspector comes Tuesday
3. the insulation is installed Wednesday
4. appointments then to be made with the fire inspector & building inspector prior to
5. the actual renovations can begin
6. Thursday - I'm getting the flu shot. Mersa is all over the state of NJ, not that the flu shot will help prevent Mersa, just to be on the safe side.
7. make the final choices re: paint and flooring
8. and whatever else comes up that I'm told to do!

That's my current full-time job - supervising the hoped for renovations of our home.
It's been 3 weeks in the motel - and probably another three+ to go...
That means eating two to three meals a day at restaurants. Do you know how boring that can get over time? All the food sort of tastes the same after awhile - and after making so many decisions every day about the house, I no longer CARE where I go or what I eat.

We just want to have our home back...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A College Craft Class - Notes on Embroidering on Art Quilts

I substitute taught a college craft class this week. They were working on embellishing their completed batik paintings with embroidery, sequins, beads, etc. and on starting their first silk painting on a 12" hoop. These are some of my observations following the class - particularly as it pertains to embroidering as quilting...

Re: embroidery work
I noticed they are embroidering through the batik AND through batting. That is an extremely difficult and very time-consuming way to do it because the needles for embroidery are so large. Quilting needles are 10s - 12s - and extremely small. Nearly everyone I know that includes embroidery on their artquilts does the embroidery prior to sandwiching the batting and backing to the top for that very reason. Occasionally a simple, large stab stitch is used through all layers, but that is extremely rare, to my knowledge.

Another major reason for doing the embroidery on the top alone is to lessen the puckering the embroidery causes to piece. Doing solid stitching on any fabric greatly shrinks the embroidered fabric causing puckering. Doing embroidery with batting makes the problem much more difficult. Some of the puckering can be "fixed" with dampening the finished piece, stretching it square and taught over a heat-resistant, padded surface; and ironing it - and leaving it stretched for a day or more to dry thoroughly in the new shape.

An additional problem with embroidering through batting is that the batting comes through to the front, leaving little white pills on the surface. This is especially distracting on dark fabrics.

To add depth and texture, quilting stitches can be added by hand or machine once the piece is completely embroidered and sandwiched.

I also noticed that most of the students were selecting embroidery threads that matched their batik color. Since the embroidery is to accent the batik, it should be used as an accent - thus slightly different colors, either a few shades lighter or darker, will punch out the design better than identical colors. Outlining green with the same shade of green is redundant - unless it's done as a quilting stitch. Then embroidery isn't necessary... in my opinion.

In other words, I think some of the students will have to spend far too much time doing the projects they are working on simply because of the amount of embroidery AND the fact that they are going through batting with the embroidery needles. I strongly encouraged two students to simplify the rest of their planned embroidery... and tried to talk them into removing the rest of the batting until the embroidering was complete. None did, of course! ;-)

Re: silk painting on the hoops
The water-based gutta was quite runny, as you know. They had forgotten that they should suspend the hoops over their designs, so that caused a little consternation. I told them to deal with it and to stretch their creativity and remake the designs to accommodate the problem. They weren't to happy, of course, but some of them did exactly that. None of the hoops dried that were done with the water-based gutta - they are tucked in the plastic dyeing pans somewhat out of sight and danger.

One student used black & gold gutta rather than the water-based gutta. She discovered the bamboo brushes that came with the silk-painting set flare and carry the paint outside the gutta. The brushes appear to be of very poor quality - when I was cleaning one, the head popped right off the handle and could not be re-set. I put out other brushes from the art closet for them to use after that!

I had fun, of course, and I'd like to go back at the end of the semester to see their final presentations which will include all their projects for the term. If I go, I'll take photos and share!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Flood Photos

The laundry room - shelves above the washer/dryer...which deflected the water from flying everywhere!
(Warning - these photos can be enlarged, but they are very large files. Next time I'll reduce them as I upload. Sorry.)

Frank's office - next to the laundry room...

Frank's office - after carpet removal & removal of sheet rock on lower 6" of walls - still soaking wet...

The entry hall - with parquet flooring no longer an inch deep in water...

The studio, next to the entry...soaked carpet, wall on left, parquet floor, dampened everything else.

The emptied dining room with wallboard removed from lower 8" - the ceiling was also removed on one half of the room. Water was leaking from the TV room above, through the light fixtures and the rest of the area.

Doll house furniture - soaked...

The garage with structural damage.

The "Italian Stallion" dumpster in the driveway along with the two Pack Rat storage pods decorating our driveway & nearby parking spaces. The pods will move out tomorrow. The dumpster will continue to collect more refuse.

Flooding Aftermath...

This was my 3rd full day on-the-job with the packers in the midst of huge fans & dehumidifiers in the 90 degree heat and 90 degree humidity INSIDE. Outside was much better today, thank goodness. We had somewhere to go to escape the hothouse! The two pods are now packed with most of our belongings - they will go into a climate controlled storage facility until the house is repaired.

However, Frank's office (hard hit) remains the "hot/dry" zone where most of the potentially damaged paperwork is being dried along with the sub-flooring. The dining room is where all the items for the dry cleaners have collected, plus all the fabric from my huge collection. I haven't yet decided how to handle the fabric, but I'm strongly leaning towards collecting insurance money as opposed to dry cleaning the stash.

The furnace is now able to function. The hot water heater will be declared "dead." The appliance repairman says he can repair the 10+ year old machines for around $500-600.00... despite the fact that the gas dryer still has water inside the drum, among other places, and makes strange noises when rotating... I'm calling another appliance company for a second opinion. If it's declared "repair-worthy" we'll take the repair money & use it towards buying a new set - on pedestals.

The downstairs half bath now seems affected by the humidity and reeks with odor. I have all sorts of art/paint/dye supplies in that closet that we had hoped could stay there. Now I'm wondering if that was such a good idea... I'll know more when I meet with the adjustor whenever that happens next.

The garage (directly below the laundry room & Frank's office) is extensively damaged. All flexible ductwork must be replaced - some of it is still falling into the garage. Lots of stuff out there is destroyed. Thankfully, most of it was simply being stored and isn't that critical. We'll have some of it replaced. The rest is already in the dumpster. Thankfully, I moved all my gardening tools out to a plastic box on our deck this past summer, so my tools are OK. The big doll house is also fine - but the doll house furniture was flooded, like our home!

I have little idea of what to expect from the remedial folks tomorrow - I know they are preparing a plan with choices/options for flooring upstairs and down. I get to choose paint colors, too... whoopee. I'm curious as to just how much more sheet rock will have to be removed... I over-heard them saying that one full wall in my studio will go - the one opposite the garage.

We still have very active humor going for us, but our motel room is small - especially with 3 computers and a sewing machine (not set up & may not ever get set up!). I bought a small clothing rack for Frank's work clothes - our closet here is minuscule. I may go stir crazy once I'm not so busy with the house!

Meanwhile, the quilt show I'm curating for the American Quilter's Society Museum in Kentucky next month and must alert all our membership to get their quilts to FedEx ASAP. My own three are at the bottom of the suitcase I packed a week ago for the art quilt talk in upstate NJ - the day of the flood! Guess I'll have to take that suitcase out of the car soon...

And I did go to the pond by our old house to be renewed by the beauty of trees, birds & water. That was a gift to myself! Next week I'll get my hair cut & colored!

Oh, just another interesting tidbit that Frank pointed out:
Both of us have major "construction" going on in all aspects of our lives. The house, of course; the hotel is also being renovated; the hallway where Frank's office is at work is having new restrooms installed; and I just had my website built and am "building" the upcoming quilt show as well as my career. How strange is THAT?! All I know is that both of us are way beyond tired and we both have big deadlines next week for our respective careers!

And to make it even more interesting, every day this week I've found a 2"+ spider sitting in my sink in the master bathroom - the only room in the house that was unaffected by the water damage. The Spider, in some Native American traditions, invites us to consider how we are weaving the web of our lives... it seems Frank and I are definitely involved in weaving "new webs," for sure, whether or not we want to! And it's not in the way we had been thinking - retiring to a restful, nurturing lifestyle in the mountains of PA. At least not right now...

Oh, and did you notice the spider in the daisy at the beginning of this post???

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Flooding During the NJ Drought...

It's hard to imagine that we lived in Athens, PA on the Susquehanna River in the flood plain for 16 years without having flood problems but instead, our house got flooded yesterday in NJ in a drought.

The hose to the washer (on the 2nd floor) broke yesterday when I was away. I was in Flemington, NJ giving a quilt talk so I had all my best quilts in a suitcase with me, thank heavens! Then I went to Philly to pick up Michelle (our granddaughter) and learned from a police phone call that we had a "water problem" on the way home.

It appears the water ran for a goof 5 hours or more...filling the entire house except our bedroom & bathroom, kitchen & family room. When I got home, there were 3 rescue squads, 1 fire truck and 5 police cars were waiting in our street for me. Fortunately, the police department had called me on my cell phone 10 minutes before we got there or I might have freaked out totally! We were only told we had a water problem... I thought the hot water heater sprung a leak - it's old. But this was worse. The house is not livable and things are presently up in the air. Here is the pertinent info.

We did get our computers, 2 printers, 2 sewing machines out last night and today. We also brought over 2 TV trays to put our computers on - the table here is about 5" taller than the TV trays & the chairs require bed pillows for us to use the table. No wheels on the chairs, either.

Had the "Remedial Crew" out all day today - 10 people plus the project manager! They packed up stuff - nothing is in any order nor is anything labeled, but it's packed. We may need to rent a pod to store it all in while the interior is worked on... Then they ripped out lots of what has to go. We have a huge dumpster in the driveway that's already more than 1/2 full.

We're meeting with the adjuster tomorrow (Sunday) at 10am - the plumber is also coming then. It seems they couldn't get the water to the washing machine to get all the way turned off...

The electrician is coming at 8 am tomorrow. He's installing a whole new circuit box because the old one was flooded and he couldn't get new circuits to fit it anywhere until Tuesday, at the earliest. Since the fans & dehumidifiers need power to work, that's the next level of priority. There is a major problem in that all the ceiling light fixtures downstairs have been removed... not to mention other possible water/electricity potential problems. That's in the electricians competent hands. Then to get the plumbing back on so we can use the facilities!

Upstairs, only the master bath was undamaged. Our bedroom had some carpet damage - will probably be replaced with everything else. The work crew removed all the carpeting upstairs & down the steps, plus 12" or so of drywall at the bottoms of the office and 3' at the bottom of the laundry room.

Downstairs was worse, if that could be possible. The parquet tile was destroyed and now is gone from the entire first floor - not that it's going to be missed! Well, yet it is, but it will be nice to have something else... My office will loose at least the bottom of the wall backing to the garage plus the tops of a two other walls.. The dining room lost 8" or so on a few walls. With the power out, the freezer food was lost for the 3rd time since we got back from Ireland...

The garage is a total washout - all drywall & insulation removed. As they removed the ceiling, water just poured out from above... which is Frank's office, and that may need a new sub-floor - don't know yet. Have no idea what, if anything, can be saved that was stored in the garage..

Best guess at the moment is we'll be without a house for a month or so. The earliest work can begin will probably be a week from Monday. We'll need to get 3 estimates first.

Once we've met with the adjuster, we'll have a bit more info as to how it will al go forward. Our policy looks great on paper, so we'll find out how it really is soon.

I've taken lots of photos - will post them later...

We're exhausted but SO grateful for everyone's help and so glad it wasn't a fire, or worse than it is.