Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Got Flooring!

Sometimes renovation work seems to proceed at a snail's pace. At other times, we speed right along. The old floorboards are back in the living room, soon to become country kitchen, as of this morning.For the new bed & breakfast bedroom, with reluctance we purchased floorboards, unable to recover the boards from my mom's dining room, some too short, others broken and not worthy of salvage, unfortunately. In the photo to the right, Boz hammers away. Wendelin is here, too, tiling the private bath and will be tiling all next week, as there will be tile in the powder room, too. Meanwhile, in Wellfleet, progress has been made on the ground-breaking for the new fire station at the intersection of Route 6 and Lawrence Road. Here is the view from the elementary school parking lot where two men worked today:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Le Nouveau Guide est Arrive!

Renovation requires so many decisions. Which doors to reuse? What wallpaper to choose? Which shade of white for the wainscoting? How wide should the floorboards be in the new bedroom? Decisions, decisions, all day long! Today, while out for a break from decision-making, I went into the village and picked up a copy of the Wellfleet guide. It felt like going out in Paris to test the Beaujolais Nouveau as soon as it had arrived in shops and cafés and the buzz was going around town. It's here! It's here! The new cru is in! How does it compare with last year’s vintage? Is the color right? How about the taste? Although we did not advertise ourselves, my verdict on the Chamber’s guide is top-notch product. I like the design, and the folks at Wellfleet Marketplace must be delighted.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Sun Tunnel Works!

Today I was discussing window trim with the carpenters. We intend to use the same old-fashioned handmade trim that existed in the house before the renovation. Laboriously the carpenters are doing each window. Meanwhile Sven painted the bathroom and powder room this past weekend. There are no windows and no electric light and yet look at how bright the powder room is! I am very pleased with the sun tunnel, which is the domed structure on the roof in the top photo, as viewed from the outside. The sun tunnel allows light into a dark space and will not require electricity. In a few years, once I have paid for this renovation, we will be able to install sun panels on the roof and reduce electric bills more substantially, something to look forward to!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Grief from Greef ...

Renovation is known to be a challenge. Sven and I are fed up with the chaos and must move out of the cottage since guests arrive in a week. In fact, nothing has gone right of late. Only one third of the recovered floorboards went in on Friday. Every time I walked through the house the carpenters seemed to be scratching their heads, unsure of the optimum installation technique. It turns out the kick space heater needs a trapdoor in the custom cabinet, according to the plumber who stopped by to deliver this news. And, to make matters worse, upon my return from ordering the Greff Saltbox House paper for the new bedroom, the wallpaper lady called to say the pattern has been discontinued now that Greff belongs to Schumacher. Boy, did I feel blue then! Of course, there are other options, but we spent a month making up our mind …. But, this morning, my spirit got a lift when I pulled up the Green Guide online and read Kathy Shorr’s blog Home Green Home, this week all about Chez Sven!

Thursday, February 21, 2008


The old recovered floorboards lie on the lawn, like an enormous puzzle. The carpenters numbered them last fall. Now that it is time to put them back in, some of the numbers have rubbed off. Installation will indeed be a challenge….

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What Is It?

Yesterday Sven dug out dirt to create a space for the outside shower beside the house. He has always dreamed of being an archaeologist and the afternoon labor came quite close. Imagine our surprise to discover a domed brick structure, six inches below ground level! It is obviously very old, but what is it? What was it used for? When was it placed here? There does not seem to be any visible access or door, so storage is excluded, unless the door rotted away. An ancient septic tank? We do not have any idea what Sven has uncovered and would love to hear from any readers who recognize this new garden feature.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Got Cabinets?

I have not posted news of the renovation project for a while, so here goes. Wallboard is in, cement board for tile also. Today the carpenters start the outdoor shower while Nate executes work required to install the custom cabinets in the future country kitchen. Why custom cabinets? Expert cabinet maker Jeff Pozgay studied the old woodwork in the house and created cabinets to match. The old cabinets in the Red Room were painted, so these new cabinets will be painted, too. Jeff and Johnny had to struggle a bit to get the larger piece into the house. Since the pantry walls are now up, Jeff found it was no longer possible to enter through the front door, as originally planned.
It is fortunate the kitchen has a back door because there was room to bring the structure in that way. So now, we have got cabinets and shortly I will be able to have a template made for the counter top. Next week the tile will go into the bathroom and powder room. Slowly, we are getting there and look forward to receiving guests in this wonderful new space as soon as early April.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

History Rocks!

Sven suggested going down to the shipwreck again, so that is where we headed this afternoon. There has been an incredible amount of online interest. History rocks, I guess. Sven, who taught history, certainly agrees. Anyway, we found a steady stream of history buffs heading onto the beach, which, at low tide, was pockmarked with footprints from earlier visitors. We noticed new signs set up by the Seashore to discourage looters. I had thought the wreck would make a great tourist attraction in an eventual Wellfleet museum, but apparently not.The specialists expect the shipwreck will return to the sea and be covered up with sand again for the next 90 years ....

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A February Day in the Life

Not much innkeeping going on here at Chez Sven, since the renovation is not finished. For Valentine's Day, the vanity for the new private bathroom arrived. Sven helped me dig a trench to create a French drain at the future outdoor shower. Then, I raked leaves while Sven dug up an old brick patio on the northern side of the house. He plans to create a new patio on the side of the house facing Old King's Highway. We also found the time to take a look at the ocean: wild waves and blustery wind excluded a walk today. On the way home, I took a photograph of the construction site of the new Catholic Church, out on Route 6.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Dyer Pond, Blog Favorite

Ah, Dyer Pond! What fortunate Wellfleetians we are to be able to walk over whenever we want! This blog gets an amazing number of hits from summer people who are nostalgic for Dyer Pond. Today we again surprised a naked swimmer, a different woman from last month. She climbed out and grabbed a towel when she saw us walking by. It is amazing to me that folks venture into the water, which must be extremely cold at this time of year. Sven and I continued on to Great Pond, above. How peaceful it was there!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Organic Breakfast in Wellfleet?

Chez Sven will soon be listed at both Ecobookers and the Organic Places to Stay Web site. We offer homemade organic granola and yogurt, Peace coffee, Rishi tea, and homemade breads, as well as fresh fruit salad. Sometimes it is a challenge finding organic fruit. With the season coming on and everyone talking recession, I thought it would be interesting to compare prices at local stores. Come July, it will no longer be simple to swing over to the Stop & Shop in Orleans. Breakfast staples will need to be purchased in the village. I did a little survey on a dozen products, which we regularly use here at Chez Sven, and the result was interesting. Organic eggs, I buy from a local farm, when available. Otherwise, the Organic Valley six-pack will do. It costs $2.29 at S&S and $3.39 at Wellfleet Marketplace (WM). Organic milk: a half-gallon of Woodstock Farms costs $3.99 at S&S and $4.99 at WM. Orange juice costs the same amount at both venues. Half & Half is $2.29 at S&S for Organic Valley, and $1.79 at WM for Garelick Farms. Organic yogurt: Stoneyfield Farm costs $3.99 at S&S and $4.29 at WM, but WM does offer Brown Cow for $3.79. S&S used to, but their natural foods section offered no large size yogurt containers at all today. I compared the same fresh semolina bread: $3.99 at S&S and $4.39 at WM. Organic coffee: S&S offers Newman’s for $7.99; WM sells the same amount of Equal Exchange for $8.99. Organic tea: S & S has the 20-bag box of organic green tea for $2.19 while WM sells Equal Exchange organic green tea for $4.99. Non-organic tea of the Stash brand sells for $2.99 at S&S and $4.19 at WM. Finally, organic granola: WM carries Arrowhead Mills for $4.39 while S&S offers Peace at $4.59, on sale today for $3.49. WM & S&S carry some organic produce, but Hatch's, on the town parking lot, offers a wider selection of organic fruit in season, as does the Phoenix veggie shop on Cove Road in Orleans. Any food-shopping tourists reading this blog will conclude that it makes sense to stop in Orleans on the way to Wellfleet!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

New Insulation!

Our foaming day dawned cloudy and gray. Rain started to fall as the Anderson Insulation truck lumbered up Old King’s Highway. The truck was purring away as the crew prepared to foam. I chose Icynene, for its reputation and R-value, and reported on the decision process in this blog a number of weeks back. The bio-based product proved twice as expensive, if not more, with less than 50% bio. Some industry specialists are not convinced bio-based is the way to go, so I decided to embrace the tried and true. Anderson Insulation has been spraying Icynene for 18 years. The first step was protecting the beams and windows with
plastic while the product heated up to the right temperature. After all the hammering was done, the boys from Brazil suited up and the fun began. Like magic the foam filled the wall cavities. Our new room will be cozy and warm in winter, cool in summer. R-value 28.8 in the roof and 15 to 18 in exterior walls, depending on size. We will let the Icynene vent for a few days prior to putting on the wallboard and replacing the wainscoting.

Monday, February 04, 2008

More on the Shipwreck at Newcomb Hollow

Above are some of the hundreds of folks who flocked to Wellfleet this weekend, some from as far away as Rhode Island. Sven went down to Newcomb Hollow again this afternoon to view the shipwreck again and found a group of busy people working there on behalf of the Cape Cod National Seashore. There was an archaeologist who was drawing the wreck in order to document it. Five men and one woman were digging and had uncovered more boards closer to the water’s edge. They also discovered boards in the sand that had not been visible the first time we visited. The woman told Sven the wreck had been washed ashore during the nor’easter. The archaeologist said that he had heard its name was probably The Montclair, which went aground in 1927. The ship was probably built in the 1860s. During the last years of her existence, she transported coal. They had no idea what was going to happen to the shipwreck. “Wait for the next nor’easter,” one of them joked, which Sven found a bit sad. He would have liked to see it recovered by the town and put in a museum.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Touched by History ...

In ten years, winter, spring and fall, I have never seen so many cars in the Newcomb Hollow parking lot. The place was packed! And what was everyone doing rushing down the beach? The same thing we were. Sven and I were off to see an old shipwreck from 1920, uncovered by last week’s storm. Old folks with canes, young fathers carrying toddlers, out-of-towners in sleek cashmere overcoats, lots of children – everyone was eager to get a peek at this apparition from the past. Not only did people walk down, they stayed, moved by a bit of history, right there in our own backyard. It was low tide, providing easy access. Who knows how long it will be before the beach swallows up its prize? Many had read the article in the Cape Cod Times about the former schooner or heard the report on NPR. This part of the coast is called the “graveyard of the Atlantic.” In the olden times, ships washed up regularly, and many of the houses in Provincetown were fashioned out of boards from such wrecks. There even is a word for the salvagers – “mooncussers,” because they cursed the moon since it lit up what was then an illegal activity.