Monday, December 28, 2015

Catching up after Christmas

Right now, as I write today's entry, I am sitting in the Conservatory of Leaning Oak, at my new writing desk, in my new office chair.  No, we are not moved in.  I had expected to be moved in when the desk and chair arrived, but who delivers two weeks early during the holidays?  Anyway, I am glad they did, as it gives me a "first glimpse" of what life in our new home will look and feel like.

Many things have happened since my last post.  The painters did a complete final paint, although they will return for some touch-up work as the last step.  Our natural gas service finally got installed and is fully functional.  This is helpful today, since it is 39F (4C) outside, and I am toasty warm inside.  Our shutters got installed, and they really look great.  Our appliances arrived, and all but the ranges are installed at this point.  We expect this to be remedied any day now.  We have internet service and DirecTV!  We are using Exede for internet, which owns the Viasat-1 satellite, in the Guinness Book of Records for the highest data throughput of any commercial satellite.  During the day, I get 22 Mbps (red zone on Speedtest), and in the evening, I get about half of that.  Both are plenty fast enough for any kind of streaming or video conferencing.

I worked with my landscape architect to develop and execute a drainage strategy.  We decided not to go with a gutter system, as our complex roof lines (owing mostly to the bay windows) made for complicated gutter routing.  As I pictured what the the gutter installers were suggesting, suddenly our beautiful home would gain the appearance of a gas factory.  No gutters, instead, we will manage the water once it hits the ground and drain it away from the house.

We have given up on an asphalt driveway.  The weather has made the base too wet, and it could be literally months before we could get it done.  The construction company has issued credits, and I am contracting a concrete tradesman for the work.  One of our "family activities" this past week-end was to "stake and string" the driveway so the concrete team can run forms as soon as possible.  A good time had by all.

There are a few things left to be completed, and some of them quite major.  Among the major elements are: getting the air-conditioning for the wine grotto installed, completing the cabinetry in the wine grotto, installing the back veneers in the Conservatory shelves, installing Pam's double vanity mirror, and completing the installation of the ranges.  All of these need to happen this week for us to sign the affidavit of completion (and secure a significant homestead exemption for 2015).  There will be additional warranty work to be done in the week or so following the affidavit, but the aforementioned items are potential showstoppers.

Well, how about some pictures?  Here are some taken since "Nightime":

My writing desk from the "Adagio" collection of Hooker Furniture.  It is the one I have always wanted.

Paint and staining complete in the Great Room (and the house).  The floors
have not yet been cleaned, but it is nice to see all the colors come together.

The kitchen still lacks the Thermador range, but the backsplash is completed
and the protective covering of the granite is removed.

Starting from the stake and going to the road, our natural gas service is
finally installed, and none too late for this cold Houston day.  If you go
back to the Great Room picture, you will see our fireplace in action.

The shutters as installed in the master bedroom...

...and in the Conservatory.

This is a "drawer" microwave oven.  Pushing a panel button causes the drawer
to come out (the oven face comes out toward you) and you place your items
from above, not the side.

This is our 48-inch (1.2m) side-by-side freezer and refrigerator.

Signs of our new times, two satellite dishes,
the one on the left for Exede's high-speed
satellite internet, and the one on the right
for DirecTV, both on the back side of the
house over the utility room.

This is the A/V closet, now with internet
and coaxial cables merging into the same
panel.  The wireless router delivers high-
quality signal to all the outside living areas
of the main house.  The casita will get its
own wireless router.

The drainage system is working, as we just had a day of rain, and this would
have looked like a lake without the system.  It will be refined and improved
in the landscaping phase, but our efforts are fruitful even now.

Stakes and strings for the driveway, as we try to protect the tree at the right.
Our driveway is 12 feet  (3.66m) wide, and I want to be 10 feet (3m) offset from
the tree, for the sake of its health and survival.

Stakes and strings get a little more challenging as we had to define the
curves for porte couchere and the driveway as it curves around the two-car
garage, keeping a consistent 10-feet (3m) radius, while making sure
everything remains aligned.