Post Cruise Pondering

I’ve always been very resistant to the idea of cruise vacations. When we booked our family trip to Alaska, it was a no-risk way of trying one out. I didn’t pick the cruise, so no ownership of the outcome, and the main point was to spend time with family, so we would accomplish that even if the cruise itself was a bust.

Turns out, there were a number of things I found amusing about the cruise. One was the changing day of the week on the elevator carpets. It totally makes sense, as it’s easy to lose track of the day while you’re on the ship, but it made me wonder – did one person run around and change all of them? Or do a squadron of people appear at the stroke of midnight and switch them out?

Another aspect I loved was the daily towel animals provided with the turndown service. I looked forward to getting back to our cabin and seeing what had been left on the bed. I’m not sure how the whole towel animal thing got started, but it was honestly one of my favorite parts of the trip. Silly, I know. In honor of recognizing the quirky parts of cruising, I’m featuring some of the quirkier photos from the trip.

Framed and Electrified

We had our framing inspection last week. It did not go well. The inspector found fourteen issues, all except one were due to the framers not following the plan correctly. The one exception was an engineering issue. I would have loved to listen in on the conversation between our construction manager and the owner of the framing company. I wonder if they’ll ever be doing business together again. The framers were back on Monday, making the required changes.

The stucco guys were hard at work, as well. We’ve got good weather this week, so they are trying to get as much done as possible before they have to get back under the plastic tarp. Unfortunately it was windy yesterday, so that limited what they could accomplish. Meanwhile our project manager met with a commercial metal fabricator to discuss our staircase. He also talked to a rep from the motorized shade company. We are meeting with him this morning to discuss the results from both of those meetings.

The electrical inspection also happened yesterday and, unlike the framing, we passed that on the first try. The electrician still has a few things to finish up, not the least of which is my husband’s workshop. The finish line is definitely in sight for completing that rough-in, however. Spray foam is scheduled to happen tomorrow. I think this is the third time it’s been scheduled, so I’m not holding my breath.

Our builder promised to have all of our financials updated in the new construction software by the end of the day yesterday. He just sent me a text that a few of the actuals need to be updated before he releases the results. I am waiting anxiously. Last night I had a disturbing dream that we got the total number and it was significantly over our current estimate. I hope that’s not prophetic.

Day at the Conservatory

I just realized I never followed up with a post on my visit to the Como Conservatory with my mom on her birthday. I better get on that before she nags me about not posting, like she did after her birthday last year. The motivation for going was to see the fall flower show in the sunken garden. That turned out to be the least interesting part.

The fall flowers were mums, lots and lots of mums, mostly purple. The overall effect was nice, but I’m not a huge fan of mums and there weren’t really great photo ops in that room. There was a fountain and pool with lily pads, which featured some nice reflections. While the fall flowers weren’t particularly impressive, the rest of the conservatory was gorgeous. I was especially inspired by the fern room, which was cooler and less humid than the tropical rooms. Definitely the model for our new conservatory.

Of course the real point of the day was to spend time with my mom, who was rocking a cool, new haircut. Still beautiful and stylish at 76 – I hope I can emulate that. After our conservatory visit, we headed to downtown Minneapolis for lunch. Since it was a Sunday afternoon and the Vikings were playing, we pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves. They still managed to screw up my mom’s lunch, leaving out 3 of the 4 ingredients in her risotto and reducing it to a bland mix of rice and mushrooms.

They fixed it, of course, and gave her another healthy shot of wine to drink while she waited. By the time we finished lunch and started walking back to the car, my mom was more than a little buzzed. Completely adorable. She even stopped and posed for a photo with Sasquatch outside of Target Center. All in all, it was a lovely day.

Progess, Not Perfection

We met with our electrician on Saturday morning. Yes, you heard right, Saturday. He’s got the inspection scheduled for tomorrow, so he worked over the weekend to finish up our rough-in. Even though it seems like we’ve talked through everything multiple times now, somehow he still had outstanding questions, hence the meeting.

Everyone is super paranoid about the (supposedly) upcoming spray foam. Once things are foamed, it’s really hard to make changes/additions. One of the electrician’s question was regarding the height of some exterior sconces that we weren’t really comfortable answering, so after the meeting we went to the lighting store for advice.

It turned out to be a good thing, because our lighting designer mentioned that he had the housing for one special recessed fixture in our house. We purchased it and brought it back to the house. We had discussed this fixture with our electrician during our first walkthru back in July, but somehow he just thought we changed our minds about it.

We were pleasantly surprised to see the stucco guys had been back at work on Friday and completed the scratch coat for another large section of the house. It’s starting to look more like a real house every day. Apropos of nothing, today’s photos are prairie dogs from the Minnesota Zoo. Because they’re cute and I’m in a good mood.

Minnesota Miracle

Minnesota weather is famous for its extremes. After a run of well below normal temps in November, we’re now entering a string of above average days. Case in point – we went for a walk the morning after Thanksgiving and my husband wore only a long sleeved shirt. We ended up walking 2 1/2 miles before we decided to stop for food. Along the way, we debated back and forth about eating there or carrying it home.

Eating there ended up winning out for three reasons – we were hungry, it was easier than carrying the food back home and it was nice enough to eat outside. You heard me, we were eating outside the day after Thanksgiving. The sun was shining brightly, it was 53 degrees out and there was almost no wind. It was glorious. Days like that are what gets most Minnesotans through the seemingly endless winter.

Our walk might not have done much for my physical health, but it was a tremendous boost for my mental well-being. Speaking of glorious weather, that’s what we experienced for much of our trip in September, when these photos were taken. We found a perfect grove of aspen trees on our way from Banff to Lake Louise. The lighting wasn’t optimal, but the brilliant blue sky sort of made up for it.

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, I started a string of daily posts that has continued uninterrupted since then. The first 30 days were serendipitous, fed by a string of house events and our family trip to L.A. When we crossed over into 2017, I gave myself the intentional challenge to try and post something every day, and so I have. I’m stubborn that way.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been exceptionally difficult at times and I’ve frequently struggled to find material. I’ve often relied on my prodigious photographic output to cover for my lack of words. The hardest part has been trying to keep a (mostly) positive attitude. Last Thanksgiving, when this string started, I foolishly thought we’d be making dinner in our new house this year.

That didn’t happen. Instead we heated up a pre-cooked dinner from Whole Foods once again. Moreover, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and likely Easter won’t happen in our new house either. We will be on the Artisan Home Tour in June, so that’s our drop dead date now. The landscape might be a little rough, depending how soon the weather warms up next spring.

Meanwhile, I’m committed to continuing daily posts at least through the end of the year. Beyond that, who knows? They say if you do something for 30 days in a row it becomes a habit. By the end of this year, I’ll be at 400 days. Maybe I won’t be able to stop at that point.

Virtual Black Friday

Let me be perfectly clear – I never, repeat never go shopping on black Friday. By that I mean, I don’t leave the house if it’s at all possible. I do, however, take advantage of online shopping deals. There’s nothing like getting a bargain from the comfort of your sofa.

I created several photo books on Adoramapix weeks ago and was just waiting for them to go on sale before I placed an order. Wednesday morning I found a sitewide sale for 35% off and I pulled the trigger. Not an hour later, they advertised 40% off through midnight. Which kind of pissed me off, even though it only amounted to an additional $5. It’s the principle you know? Plus, I can be that cheap.

Instead of bitching, I placed another order, this time for wall art. I ordered wood prints of the first two images here and a metal print of the third. Plus, a large canvas of one of my favorite black and whites. I’m supposed to get everything in the middle of December, hopefully the books will arrive sooner. One of them is Nola’s Christmas present.

Oh, and two of these images happen to be among the ones I submitted to Shutterbug. The top one is in the Trees category (duh) and the middle one is in Doors and Windows. It’s my absolute favorite photo of Nola from our trip and one of my all-time favorites as well. Fingers crossed I’m not the only one who thinks it’s a winner.

Just Keep Being Thankful

It’s really hard to believe it’s Thanksgiving already. On second thought, no it’s not. This whole year has just flown by. I could honor the day by writing a post about all the things I’m thankful for, but honestly, that would be long and boring.

Instead I’m going to feature some dreamy landscape images from our Photo Walk at the Woodlake Nature Center. I bemoaned the lack of photo opportunities back when I first wrote about the walk, but the more I look at these, the more I love them.

I’m coming to the conclusion that my best abstract landscapes all include some element of water. The ones without water just don’t have the same effect for me.

I’m not exactly sure why that is, maybe something to do with how the reflections naturally tend toward the abstract. I keep thinking I can come up with some formula to help me create these types of images.

Meanwhile I keep stumbling along, trying different things and occasionally getting lucky. Each one ends up being a happy accident. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Happy Thanksgiving!

More Reflections

I’m starting to think our solar panel install is being done by the three stooges. There’s two young guys and one older guy. The young guys are just muscle and the old guy will talk your ear off if you give him a chance. He did that to the ME from our builder as well as myself.

The panels were delivered on Monday and they spent a good chunk of the day just carrying everything up to the crow’s nest. The panels and racks are fairly light, but it’s a ballasted system, so everything is weighed down by concrete blocks. A lot of concrete blocks.

When we stopped by the house on Wednesday afternoon, they didn’t appear to have made significant progress from the prior day. Some of the concrete blocks were sitting on the second floor, otherwise all of the materials were crowded into the crow’s nest. It didn’t leave them much room to work. Of course it only looked like one of them was actually doing anything resembling work.

They get paid for the job, not by the hour, so in theory it doesn’t matter how long they take to get it done. But it still drives me crazy. Hopefully we’ll see more substantial progress this afternoon. Today’s reflections are courtesy of Lake Agnes. This was our reward for making the grueling hike up from Lake Louise up to the Tea House.

Stop Making Waves

Yesterday’s moody photos were from our Alaska cruise. With all of my bitching about our builder, I forgot to mention that. Today’s images are also from the cruise. We went for a short walk yesterday morning, prior to our meeting. While we were walking back home, my cell phone rang. It was our builder calling to tell me they wouldn’t have all the numbers they promised us ready in time for our meeting in the afternoon.

Color me not even slightly surprised. I honestly spent the morning just expecting to just get a text telling me the meeting was canceled.

As it turns out, we had the meeting, we just didn’t really talk about the numbers. Or any numbers, except for the stucco estimates.

They gave us a quick preview of the new software, using a different client’s project. Instead, we used most of the meeting to talk about a bunch of other stuff. Then we drove to the site to have a low voltage walkthru. At least there were a bunch of people working. The stucco brown coat was in progress under a giant plastic tarp and the installation of the solar panels had started. Things continue to move, although we still don’t have an endpoint. Or a final number.