A journey.

the Artist

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I just got home from a family trip to Pennsylvania.

It wasn’t a vacation. My purpose was to see my Father at his new Memory Care “home.” Also help my sister with the work it involves to keep his “life” going outside of the walls of his new “home,” as well as make decisions about his current care. I had not seen him since he fell last December.. and the effects of that fall and his current decline. It has been a horribly long arduous road. Any one who has experienced this knows.

And here I am 1200 miles away trying to be as supportive as I can. My sister sits on the “frontlines”. She has been the first responder. Now the Memory Care staff is and that is a wonderful thing.

It was a week of mixed painful emotions. Part way through the week I thought… he can’t stay here! He is the highest cognitive functioning resident. I sat with him at his table of guys and no one could carry on a conversation… or if they did.. it didn’t make much sense.

I spoke to my sister about bringing him home to live out his days in the home he worked so hard for. He could watch his deer, the squirrels and the giant turkeys.. (you wouldn’t believe how big the turkeys are in PA!). We could remodel the downstairs bath, widen hallways for his wheel chair. Isn’t this a better idea?

But based on the meeting with his nurse… by the time we got the house remodeled, and came up with the extra funds to bring him home (the most expensive option for senior care in his case), it would be too late. (he will continually decline) So with new plans to up his activities and physical therapies we move on.

So we’ve made the best decision we can make for today with tomorrow in mind. This is a hard time that most of us go through… where to have our parents live when they can’t live alone anymore. It isn’t about us, it’s about what is best for them. And for now that is the best decision.

Sharing our life with you.

High five!

by the Artist

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The Carpenter and I recently went out for dinner at one of our favorite spots. It was a hot humid night but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the St Croix River action on the deck. We both noticed an attentive “busboy” as he gathered dirty plates, brought water, and carried stacked clean glasses. Now I know it seems odd to notice a busboy at a busy restaurant (as certainly the scenery around us was beautiful). We noticed because he had this aura of energy and pride in what he was doing.

We’ve been in the hiring mode for the past 5 years. We have seen and experienced it all. I do not exaggerate. It has been truly the most difficult part of running our business. The Carpenter can now most of the time spot quality and integrity pretty quickly. But he has had surprises… really some shocking surprises. Guys quitting the morning of their first day, their first week, their first month. Not even showing up. Exaggerated experience. What is going on out there?

On the way into the restaurant there was a “Help Wanted” sign on the door… and even a sign on the table! I’ve seen banners outside businesses, and billboards. It isn’t just the construction industry but that isn’t always so comforting.

At the end of our meal the Carpenter made a point of speaking to the busboy. He complimented him on how he does his job. Then on the way out the door he spoke with the manager. And the manager said that the busboy was a “gem” and was going to be promoted!

Way to go Harrison. No doubt in a world slowly losing the value of a job well done… you will go far!

Hello!

by the Artist

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How have you been? We've had an interesting summer. Highs and some lows. It's part of life and definitely part of running your own business.

Our projects this summer have been interior updates and repairs on a number of projects. Installing Warm Board in-floor radiant heat system, new wood floors/doors and matching millwork, as well as an entry tile floor and interior joist repair. We are also updating a 20 something townhome's millwork (updating light oak millwork and doors) and changing the facade of a marble fireplace to stacked stone. Beautiful veined marble countertops will bring this townhome into the 2000's!

We will be starting a post and beam barn on beautiful Bald Eagle Lake this fall, as well as working through the design/remodel details of converting a suburban home into a couple's dream of owning their own Bed and Breakfast. 

As we continue always to look for great carpenter's to join our crew... we have hired Apprentice Connor Nash. We also will be welcoming a new member to the Applewood family in February 2019, when Adam our lead.. and his wife Katie welcome their first child! 

So as we step further into fall we will have some interesting photos to show you.

Enjoy this first week of the last three weeks of summer. Fall is on it's way!

A house was built while we were away.

the Artist

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We did it! Actually got away for two whole weeks. Traveled to our favorite lake in the North woods of Wisconsin. Two. Whole. Weeks. We had to keep pinching ourselves. We worked hard (settling the business, our life and packing) to get away. 

The first night we were settled in enjoying a simple meal- yes hot dogs and baked beans- I sat down and looked out the big picture window of our camper.. at the beautiful lake glistening in the late day sun and I cried. I really did. It's been a stressful kind of year and continues to be so. I knew what I was experiencing was a privilege and a luxury. 

 Our first week... peaceful.

Our first week... peaceful.

We spent the first week with plenty of R&R. The Carpenter slept in and napped every day. I took the Snack Manager on many quiet walks. I kayaked to my favorite spots, we ate good ice cream, and I read two books! We looked like bums. Yeah it was the life.

The second week 15+ family members joined us at another site. Our first week was restful the second was fun! We pontooned and floated and enjoyed some good meals together. At times 20+ people joined us- aunts and uncles, boyfriends and girlfriends, and a total of 4 dogs. Everyone got along. Even the dogs.

 Able, Sammie, Mazie living the good life.

Able, Sammie, Mazie living the good life.

 

The Snack Manager honed her swimming skills. Let's just say she is a cross between a goat (her hearty appetite for edible and inedible objects) and an otter. If she could she would have just taken off swimming across the lake. Was fun to see as our last lab was the worst swimmer and disliked the water. (I always thought all labs could swim and enjoyed the water..)

Near the end of the week one of our nephews has a tradition he started a few years ago. During the week he builds a structure to set on fire at one of nightly campfires. It's turned into quite a spectacular event. Each year the structure gets more elaborate. This year the tradition reached new heights. He brought a small air compressor and air gun to camp and built a model house! (leave it to a carpenter to do this).

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It was spectacular. 

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So this is what carpenters do on their vacations.

My heart is still at Lake Chip. 

 

 

 

Where have you been?

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the Artist

I've been tempted to shut this blog down. It's a challenge to write about our build life that would be interesting to anyone. I started writing in July of 2012. So really this has been a good run. But it is challenging to write about projects and protect the privacy of our homeowners. It is also difficult to write about a potential exciting project for obvious reasons.

So I've been sitting here.. drinking a glass of iced coffee and eating too many pretzels, getting sidetracked on Instagram ... and not writing!

I can say that we have been bidding and in some cases have signed on.. some really exciting projects for the summer well into winter. A home that will be converted into a B&B, a post and beam timber barn to name a few.

On the B&B project I have been working with the homeowner on the concepting of the rooms' themes, and color palette for the whole B&B. If all goes according to plan we will convert a very large attached garage into two additional bedrooms with sitting area as well as remodel the master bath, turn a laundry room into the B&B office etc, and build a large detached garage on the property. I hope to share this journey by late summer.

I spent two days last week helping a homeowner pick out countertop, backsplash, flooring and fireplace stone for her townhouse interior remodel. It can be very overwhelming with all the choices available out there... I try to be a good listener for the decision discovery process. 

I discovered a great flooring tile company- Cap Carpet and Flooring https://capcarpet.com in New Brighton. They have a new expanded showroom with a hug selection of beautiful specialty and standard tiles. Don't let the location and the size of the entrance fool you. It's got some lovely full showrooms. I had some fun there!

So I guess the coffee and pretzel carb overload helped.

Till next time. 

 

Some photos of our materials trip.

 

 

A perfect 7.

by the Artist

I started this post this past Friday in very early spring... I'm finishing it today in full on summer. 80 degrees! Yes let's talk about color! The season to be bold. ...

I am not a trendsetter. I'm a trend watcher. A trend emulator. At the beginning of each season I watch for the trends that rise to the top in fashion and interior design. For obvious reasons. This year is really exciting blend of bold fresh colors, organic materials, fringy embellishments, tropical foliage and brass! I'm probably a little more enthused after living with winter white for the past six months! Oh bring on the color!!!

I made a list of what I will call my top 7 picks for Spring/Summer 2018. Seven is perfection right?

1. Tropical-palm fronds, lush foliage real or fake

2. Brass- bright brass is back as well as gold. Pair with saturated wall colors of navy, dark plums and gray

3. Stone and natural elements- organic feeling stoneware, and countertops

4. Colors- Pantone ultra violet, lavender, inky indigo blues, golds, deep teals

5. Embellishments- fringes on pillows, drapery

6. Bold colorful florals- on materials, wall paper

7. Patterns- batik, geometric

 

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https://www.countryliving.com/home-design/decorating-ideas/g5056/home-trends-for-2018/

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Whipping cream.

the Artist

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As I sit here at my desk I'm looking outside at mounds of snow that resemble whipping cream to me. We have somehow missed spring this year. The spring birds are back, the goose on the back pond, sits huddled on her snowy nest. The pond still a block of ice will not be welcoming tiny goslings any time soon. The sky is the same hue as the ground. white. sigh.

We collectively here in Minnesota are despondent. We struggle, triumph and endure a long winter. April is our reward. Not this year. We wait for the deep frost of this winter to melt, so we can start digging foundations. Or digging a garden or digging just being outside without a coat! When we aren't looking out the window at piles of snow and bare trees... we continue working on the Orwell Court Project. Presently we are tiling the new master bath, painting, finishing floors and millwork. You can view the project here. https://www.applewoodremodelers.com/current-project/

One good thing about a cold spring... I'm back to my house update project. Kitchen and dining area painting are finished. Have lots of plans for the Carpenter to visually open up my tiny galley kitchen to be less tiny, by tearing down the bank of cabinets over the stove and building a custom stove hood.. which along with floating shelves will be a nice focal point. Can't wait! I don't mind living tiny anymore. And I actually love the challenge of using the space we have as efficiently and creatively as possible.

And.. I'm looking forward to enjoying whipping cream in my coffee, rather then on my lawn. I can only hope. 

PS Just heard more "whipping cream" is headed our way for the weekend! 

Miff.

by the Artist

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It's been a rough past month. The Carpenter's Dad was in and out of the hospital and rehab. On March 3rd he passed. He truly was surrounded by family for his whole journey to his new home.. heaven. The Carpenter, his brothers and one uncle even took turns staying overnight with him so he wouldn't ever be alone. It was a beautiful heartbreaking time.

I've been thinking about writing about Miff Olson. To start.. he was a great man. He was a simple man. He stopped to smell the roses. He loved people, and a good small world story. And he always helped where he could. 

Like the time we took on our first huge renovation project- our home. Miff was there doing whatever he could from pulling nails (there was lath board everywhere), sweeping and hauling endless buckets of demo debris– from gutting the entire house.

He and my mother-in-law let us live with them for 8 months till we got the house liveable. 8 months. That was a sacrifice for them. 

He was always encouraging no matter what was going on. And he was a very good listener. I could sit for hours around his table laughing with him. He was a comfortable relaxed guy. And yes endearingly goofy. But most of all he loved unconditionally. He accepted. 

I am going and do miss him terribly. He was a true father to me. But I will see him again. Until then I will stop to smell a flower, say hello to a stranger, and gather small world stories.. for when I will sit around a table with him again.

 

These hands

the Artist

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The Carpenter and I went to Caribou for lunch today. We don't normally celebrate Valentine's and certainly not in the middle of a work day. It was beautiful out. Sunny and almost 40. Downright balmy. 

I initiated taking a break because I am realizing that the years are flying by and all we do is work. We wait for that one big break where everything will suddenly be easy and blissful. Shiny new trucks and work trailers, an abundance of experienced Carpenters waiting in queue. Time for a few months away to someplace warm where no one owns a shovel.

A week ago the Carpenter's father was in the hospital and was a very sick man. He almost didn't survive the mystery illness. (it was never diagnosed). But today he's in transitional care commencing on the long journey to regain strength and health. We have a lot to be grateful for.

And that led me to sitting across from the man with the work worn hands. I've known those hands for 40 years. And they have changed. The Carpenter works harder then anyone I know. Anyone. And today I am taking time to appreciate that. 

So here's to my valentine with the work worn hands. May there be warm days, shiny trucks and abundance. You deserve it!