March 30 | On a drizzly Good Friday when the library is closed, Ed Cook and his crew (Ed Jr., Leo, Hector and Charlie) truck in dirt to set the sandstone block at the top of the stairs, and back fill the area below the meter on the west wall. As a favor to me, they yank out the taxus bushes along the Western Highway side of the building, so the landscaper can create a path from the front to the back at some future point. These guys are the best of the best!!
March 29 | Eric and Tino are here at 8am to attack the fire doors. I remove all "paperwork" from the door surfaces and hand them the passage lever hardware. Tino disappears after the hanging, and Eric finishes up installing the hardware -- he tells me the hinges line up perfectly (whew). The doors are birch wood, which will be stained cherry to match the stair rails and newel post. We find a backpack on the porch, and when I open it to find a clue to it's ownership, I extract a broad, flat dagger with a double-edged blade (yikes). I ask around at the computers (secretly praying that none of the regulars have been packing this kind of serious steel), then notice the landscaper and his helper are installing a post-and-rail fence by our street sign. Because it's been drizzling, Joaquin had tucked his backpack under the porch roof. The fence will weather to a gray patina and be covered with clematis. Kevin, the cabinetmaker, arrives for his appointment (the one guy who lets me know he's coming) to show me bark samples (they're even better in person), and I choose the ones I want to use for the fiction room shelf units. I vacuum the front hallway after Eric leaves -- that's one thing the carpenters never do. He returns about three hours later to install a piece of trim in the Behringer Room to help with the paint transition from the big room to the alcove. The trim will be painted once the guys return next week for the touch-ups. All in all, a very good day at ye olde homestead (Judge Blauvelt would be proud).
March 28 | Three painters today. There's a slight glitch where the alcove transitions to the elevator lobby and two different paint colors collide. Time to add some trim (Dave? Jerry?). Jerry says, "Definitely, Dave." I tell Dave that could be the new catchphrase for Sirois Construction. He tells me he will install the fire doors on Thursday. Bob, the carpet guy, brings a semi-circular piece of the same carpet for the front entrance. It has a finished edge and looks great just inside the door. He also had the other half finished as a backup (whatta guy). The paint crew will be finished today, and I confer with Jerry about getting them back in to take care of all the scrapes and dings on the previous paint job (particularly after the carpet was laid). Kevin, the cabinetmaker, lets me know that the samples of bark have arrived (they'll be used to accent the fiction room shelving), and he'll bring them here tomorrow (they look great in the photo he sent).
March 27 | Painters -- six of them -- arrive. They seem to be multiplying. After all the patching and priming, the first coat of color is applied -- and all those weeks of painting test swatches has paid off. I sneak in after the painters leave and have a look. The color is called "Mizzle," an exquisite shade of soft gray/green/blue, and it really sets off the stained glass windows. We have a Board meeting in the evening, and I bring the trustees in to witness the transformation.
March 26 | Early morning salsa music, the soft swish of sanding and the constant murmuring of five (yes, five) painters. Barry and I wonder what they have to talk about (nonstop) for hours. A short time later, the smell of primer. An assault on all the senses. I am trying to find a Zen place to be. Fire Inspector, Doug Sampath, visits around 1pm to review the punch list corrections -- and it looks as if we're in the clear. Break out the champagne. The copy machine is serviced -- many months of fine particulate can take its toll on sensitive mechanical equipment (and the staff who operates it).
March 24 | Barry and I let the painters in at 7:45am, then we make a couple of posters for the anti-gun violence rally at the New City Courthouse. "More reading . . . less bleeding. Librarians against gun violence."
March 23 | At 9am, the Floz-On crew (Jesus, Luis, and Luis, Jr.) march through the door brandishing dropcloths and scaffolding. They set up shop in the Behringer Room and get to work prepping the walls. Jerry stops by mid-day to check on their progress. They'll be back again on Saturday at 7:30 in the morning. Later, Ed Cook shows up with CAUTION GENERATOR stickers that we apply to the casing around the meter on the west side of the building. This is the final piece of the Fire Inspector's punch list. I leave Doug Sampath a message to come on down -- I'm sure he'll show up when I least expect it. I've got to make an anti-gun poster for the rally tomorrow.
March 22 | The painters were scheduled to begin prepping the Behringer Room today, but lose a day due to snow and are now on for Friday. I finalize the fire doors installation with Dave and order a set of left-hand and right-hand passage levers online. Carpet installers, Adolfo and Hector, arrive with more rubber treading for the small set of stairs outside the public restroom on the main level. The tread will help differentiate the floor from the step and prevent tripping hazards. They also add simulated cherry wood strips where new carpet meets old and in areas where there were brassy metal dividers (picture me gagging). Sun is streaming in the porch window, and I can almost hear winter melting away.
March 21 | Late yesterday afternoon, Kim McLean from "Field Goods" [Kim reads this Renovation Journal, so "Hey Kim!"] dropped off some informational materials and a bag of locally sourced vegetables to see if I would be interested in participating in their delivery program. The library would act as a pickup spot for consumers to retrieve their weekly bag of fresh (and some frozen) produce.The bag I sampled had frozen squash, baby kale (delicious), lettuce, giant radishes and mushrooms, among other delectables. Have a look at their website, and if you're interested in participating, let me know and we'll register as a pick-up site (they do not deliver to individual homes) > FIELD GOODS. In the morning, we get lots of foot traffic and calls from near and far (because we are the only library open in the system). Time passes slowly on the tundra. At 2:30pm the roads begin to thicken with snow. By 7pm, the last of the diehard computer users leaves and all is quiet -- not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse (I wonder whatever happened to that little guy).
March 20 | Dave and Eric are here before I even get the chance to text-pester him. They mount the trim at the top of the fireplace with eastern pine strips Dave donated from his collection (he took the wood I gave him but didn't use it). I compliment the grain on the wood he's chosen, and he tells me that those are water stains (that's contractor humor). He also installs a coat hook on the back of the public restroom door and caulks the saddle. We also review replacing a damaged fire door in the west wing. Landscaper, Steve Binder, walks the grounds so he can give me a price for some of the exterior work down the road -- building a walkway at the west edge of the building and a set of steps made from sandstone blocks we salvaged during the renovation. We also discuss using evergreens to hide the generator from view by patrons using the Quiet Study Annex. We still need a CAUTION GENERATOR sign on the meter pan -- the final item on the Fire Inspector's punch list. For every one item that gets done, I have to text or call someone at least five times. And don't even get me started about the scratches on the elevator door and re-numbering the floors. Storm's a brewin.' Snow total was just upped to 12 - 16 inches. We'll be open, but I don't want to see any of you 'round these parts. Stay home and be safe.
March 19 | At 11am, Blauvelt Wallcovering arrives to install the custom shades in the Quiet Study Annex. They're a white nylon mesh with 10% visibility and look fabulous. When the sun shines through the window, all the smudges are magnified by the shades. Dave says he'll stop by at the end of the day to discuss replacement of the fire doors in the west wing hallway, but he goes to the dentist instead (whose office is right across the street). I visit the cabinetmaker's shop in Hillburn (that's a curious little community) and approve/revise the sample shelving he's built. I also clean up the paint sample cans in the Behringer Room in preparation for the painters on Thursday. Other than that, things are quiet. The elevator is operational, if anyone cares to go for a ride.
March 16 | Dave drops by to spray fire stop foam into the hole where the cables and phone lines protrude. Valentine Electric shows up mid-day (unannounced) to upgrade and relocate the outlet for the copy machine. It's only half visible behind the radiator. While they're drilling and hammering (a soundtrack we thought was a thing of the past), Jerry from Floz-On shows up at 1pm for his 10 o'clock appointment. He laughs at the 30-odd splotches of test paint colors adorning the Behringer Room walls. He promises to get his guys here on Thursday of next week. They'll spend at least three days prepping the space. That room will be something when it's done. Spring is right around the corner.
March 15 | Steve Binder, our landscaper, pops in. He's been running over what he's got to do in his head. Then Craig, the telephone system installer, arrives with several boxes of equipment. He sets to work in the staff room with his ever-present music soundtrack. Kevin, the cabinetmaker, brings his sketchpad, and we finalize the design of the first set of shelves to be made. Dave shows up to continue the punch list items and annoy the children's librarians who must clean up after him.
March 14 | The more things wind down, the crazier they get. I'm back at the library by 12:15pm after a Directors' meeting in Middletown. I half-expected the contractor's crew to be in the midst of patching the sheetrock in the children's room, but everything is quiet. Two minutes later, Bob and his installers show up with the black rubber tread for the elevator lobby stairs. John from Reddi-Alarm arrives with the alarm system WiFi sensor, which he installs over the future shelves where we will store books on hold. I finally decide on a color for the Behringer Room -- it's Farrow & Ball "Mizzle #266." Not too dark, not too light -- some mystical combination of blue, green and gray. I text Jerry from Floz-On to give him the good news, and he promises to be over on Thursday to review the paint schedule. The cabinetmaker texts to say he's found some birch bark inlay for our fiction room shelves. He'll also stop in tomorrow with sketches of the shelving. I've been trying to order lunch for the past two hours. Sometime after lunch, Tonie reminds me that I haven't gone through the mail. There's an envelope from the Office of Building, Zoning and Planning, Administration and Enforcement. I figure it's another copy of the violations we need to take care of before the Building Inspector returns. To my utter surprise, there's a piece of pink paper inside. Across the top it reads CERTIFICATE of OCCUPANCY. I have to read it two more times before I realize that it's for an old job from 2010 which was never closed out property. Dave shows up at 4pm and to his credit patches the sheetrock next to Marybeth's desk and in the stairwell ceiling on the second floor. He'll be back tomorrow for more of the same.
March 12 | I telephone State Line Fire Inspection to add another extinguisher and mount two others we have on site. I also call Valentine Electric to upgrade and move an outlet that is partially obscured by a radiator. Bob, the carpet guy, visits with rubber tread material. The architect is concerned that the two-step stairs outside the elevator are a tripping hazard, and he thinks it necessary to differentiate between the landing and the next step. The rubber tread is left over from another of the carpet company's jobs, so no additional expense is incurred. Dave shows up late in the afternoon to mount the new mirror in the staff restroom. He's got a meeting so the other items on the punch list will have to wait for another day (maybe even tomorrow). I get a call from Cindy at Blauvelt Wallcovering to say she's ready to install the shades on the Quiet Study Porch -- the very porch where Barry and I have set up our temporary office. He and I will need to clear or move our desks and boxes by Monday morning. It never stops.
March 10 | I check in briefly at the library and call Reddi-Alarm to ask about the NFPA 72 Record of Completion for our fire alarm system. John says he will forward it to the Fire Inspector directly. There are holes around electrical outlets and cable runs that need to be patched. Dave said he will take care of those on Monday.
March 9 | Last night, the mirror in the staff restroom fell off the wall with a resounding crash (that's two out of two, if you're keeping score). While I'm at Lowe's buying (more) paint samples, a coat hanger, and replacement mirror, I return to find the Fire Inspector making his final walk-through (again). It just doesn't pay for me to leave the building. The cabinetmaker arrives to pick up his down payment and discuss the first phase of cabinetry (the long shelf against the gallery wall in the Fiction Room). We get into a discussion about boxing -- he trains young boxers at West Point -- and I introduce him to Wayne "Boss" Drummond, our Don Bosco running back whose NFL dream was cut short by a broken ankle. If there's anyone who needs a hobby, it's Boss. A half hour later, and the two of them are still in the Behringer Room sparring. This is why I became a librarian. Michael LaPlaca, stops by to offer his home for a fundraiser -- he'll cook Italian food from the Umbrian region for eight at his 19th century Dutch colonial home down the road on Western Highway. Again, why I became a librarian. The architect shows up at 3pm to pick up "The Portico Plan" (sounds like a John Grisham novel). I ask him when he will have the letter ready and he shrugs, but before the end of the day, I have a letter in my inbox affirming that the portico was built to code and is architecturally sound.
March 8 | I remember I need to pick up the portico plan at the Building Dept. and hustle over there. The plan is sitting on the counter within eyesight, but I wait to catch someone's eye before I take it. Several minutes pass -- two women are talking with their back to me, but they know I'm there. "Screw it," I say and grab the plan and am out the door. I let Ed and Dave know that the portico plan is in my possession and needs to get to our architect ASAP (who is unreachable by phone). The architect finally checks in to say he'll be by on Friday to pick up the plan. In the meantime, Dave drops in to review some issues over payment -- apparently, we were never billed for the floor in my office, and he's not sure who is responsible for the alarm system (I checked the plans and the contractor is).
March 7 | The snow doesn't really get going until noon. We have plenty of patrons stopping by and phone calls. I call over to the Building Dept. to ask Glenn if he has a plan drawing for the portico, and he promises to leave one at the front desk for me to pick up. I try to reach the architect by phone to no avail. I check in with Dave Sirois to ask when he's planning to install a hatch door where Design Air's crew cut a hole in the ceiling of the A/C closet. The crew tells me "Sir-Royce" will fix it (it's pronounced "Sir-Roy").
March 6 | Surprise, surprise: Reddi-Alarm arrives bright and early to clean out the smoke detectors on the Quiet Study Porch. Not as easy as it sounds, because they have to pitch a ladder over the chair I'm sitting in. They also mark smoke detector numbers and locations on a chart for the Fire Dept. and need to know the names of the various rooms. Since I call them something different every day, I have to pick and choose. I head to Modern Paint in Nanuet for paint samples for the Behringer Room -- I'm thinking teal. As soon as I return, the Building Inspector shows up -- thank god I was back, it was hard enough getting him here the first two times. I sign off on the open job tickets for an 2010 addition and a portico out back that nobody seems to have any knowledge of. Glenn says it will require an architect to specify that it was 1) Built to the plan, 2) Met code at the time of construction, and 3) Is architecturally sound, but since we can't locate any plans (it may have been thrown up sans permit), our architect is hesitant to make any claims he can't substantiate. I'm not sure where that leaves us, but I call Ed and Dave to update them. They were hoping for the CO this week (then they get the last 20% of the job), but it looks like it's going to be two weeks after the portico document is issued. Don't hold your breath.
March 5 | A very quiet Monday. The cabinetmaker checks in. As soon as he gets a check, he'll order materials. First up, the long shelf in the fiction room under the gallery wall. I ask Dave about the no-show Building Inspector, and he says the task of inspecting the premises has been kicked upstairs. The relatively new Head of the Building Department will take over on our job, and there could be delays. Just our luck. I request final checks for the carpeting and design drawings. The sun sets in the west.
March 2 | I'm late to work and the roads are slushing up. Tonie is here (bless her), and I send her home and call the rest of the staff and tell them to stay put. There's a faint alarm emanating from the elevator equipment room. The oil light is flashing, and Barry silences it, but the alarm soon resumes. I can see water running into the base of the shaft. Hopefully, the sump pump will take care of that. Design Air's truck pulls into the lot and three HVAC techs head upstairs to cut an access hole at the top of the A/C closet. Ask me if I knew they were coming today. Hector and Adolfo arrive lugging giant rolls of carpet. They make short work of the Behringer Room and by 1:30pm are out the door. Barry makes a video for our Facebook page if you want to watch carpet pros in action. Bob, from CarpetsPlus, checks in on his crew's work. He tells me there are trees down everywhere. We get a steady stream of patrons and phone calls throughout the day. The Nor'easter blasts anyone entering or leaving by our red door -- there is a thundering bang every time it closes. All the computer regulars pop in, as well as a father and teen from Tappan, who is cramming for the Science Olympics in Scarsdale tomorrow (the power is out in their house). Go TZHS! Barry and I head home -- he to find there's no power in his house and me to a detour on 9W -- closed south of Closter Dock Road.
March 1 | The roofers showed up this morning. I spoke with Edward Corey who told me that they tore up the section where ice damming had occurred and could not find anything unusual. They re-sealed the roof and applied extra tar around the area. Trevor is patching the bare-naked Behringer Room in anticipation of Friday's carpeting. Kevin from Ravenwood Custom Cabinetry arrives early for our meeting to discuss phasing for the custom furnishings. He'll tackle shelving in the fiction area, then work his way around the room to the Circulation Desk. Joe returns with extinguishers and mounts all our equipment, so we are good to go for another year.
February 28 | The roofers were reportedly here yesterday -- at least, according to the contractor. I tell Dave I neither saw nor heard them. The plumbers fix the leaky toilet -- a rubber tube inside the tank had come loose. Then they went to work on the boiler, doing what I could not say. Still no Building Inspector. Joe was was here from State Line Fire & Safety for the annual maintenance of the fire extinguishers. It was a bit of a challenge locating the errant extinguishers for areas that were renovated. Joe promises to return the following day with missing extinguishers. At 4pm, Barry and I finally tackle the Behringer Room in earnest, moving out boxes of papers, bringing storage items upstairs in the elevator, setting some furniture by the bicycle rack for the taking (what I've taken to calling the "Merchandise Mart"), dragging dismantled metal shelving to the Community Room, and shoving heavy items through the door and into the fiction area for a brief stay. We are graciously assisted by Bob, the carpet guy, who stopped by earlier in the day, recognized a need and returned in work clothes to help out. His contribution was enormous. Our day ended at 8pm, when Barry and I could have easily toiled until 1am.
February 27 | I forget my cell phone at home and have to correspond with the contractors by email. They are hoping for the Building Inspector to magically appear. Barry and I continue to clean out the Behringer Room. It seems the more we remove, the more would appear is in need of moving. Fran (children's assistant) and I have a conversation about lining the walls of the Behringer Room with for-sale books. It's a crazy idea, but you know, it just might work. I spot our landscaper, Steve Binder, through the window and hustle outside to touch base with him. We talk politics until I am finally able to break away. The automatic door guy (Paul) appears around 2:30pm and spends the rest of the day tweaking the activator -- it's a very inexact science trying to set the timing between the vestibule doors, but by the time he leaves we are both confident that the door will automatically open after it is pushed. The bookkeeper, a trustee, and a check all magically converge, and Ed Cook picks up 80% of what is owed him in the final payout. It's going to seem very lonely around these parts without our crew. Their blood, sweat and tears are all over this place.
February 26 | I re-shelved the contents of the bookshelves Barry emptied this morning. He sets up our communal printer on the Quiet Study Porch. We'll move some sort of desk surfaces out there while the carpet layer tackles the Behringer Room. We are waiting for the automatic door reps to reappear as promised, for a call from the architect, and for the Building Inspector. Ed Cook arrives with paperwork for Glenn. The architect checks in -- he won't sign off on the job until the Certificate of Occupancy is issued. The Building Inspector is missing in action. Bob, the carpet guy, stops in and shows me how to remove stains from the stain-free carpet.
February 25 | Barry toiled until midnight on Sunday, breaking down the last of the bookshelves in the Behringer Room and reconstructing them (temporarily) in the fiction/computer room.
February 23 | Dave calls at 7:30am to let me know the fire door guy is here to install a small plate on the inside door edge certifying that we have a 90-minute door (that's how long it will take for a fire to burn through). The guy is a real character -- I call him "fire door guy" and he calls me "librarian." Soon enough, Jay and his partner from Total Plumbing Concepts arrive to troubleshoot the errant heating system and replace a popped fuse. On their heels is Gary, our regular plumber, who replaces the expansion tank and relief valve for our boiler. It takes almost four hours before the Behringer Room feels less like a meat locker. Ed Cook brings in his final Certificate for Payment. I leave a message with the architect who is the last obstacle en route to getting Ed and Dave paid off. Two guys from the automatic door company arrive to adjust the tension on the front entrance vestibule doors. They run into some kind of technological glitch in the overhead box and spend several hours attacking the problem. Then the electricians arrive for their three punch list items, one of which -- replacing the faulty sensor in the staff restroom -- makes me exceedingly happy. The automatic door guys pack it in at 5pm. The overhead units are not programmed with the feature we asked them to activate, so they'll be back here on Monday.The Building Inspector is off today, so we must wait until next week to get our Certificate of Occupancy.
February 22 | Our plumber is coming to explore the heat issue. We are trying to close out all the loose ends in order to get a Certificate of Occupany (which is somewhat amusing since we've been "occupancing" the building without closing). Carpet for the Behringer Room is scheduled for next Thursday and Friday, so you know what my weekend is going to look like (moving and schlepping). Late in the day, Dave swings by to confirm Mike's punch list, and Bob stops in to give me carpet cleaning products. Barry and I show him how we've turned his carpet job in the Quiet Study Porch into a bowling alley complete with rubber pins and ball -- until such a time as it is properly furnished. Come on over and have a roll. Trustee Sal Pagnani, Treasurer Joan Ready, and I have a late night budget meeting to figure out what renovation expenses are still on the horizon.
February 21 | The Fire Inspector swings by to okay the addition and relocation of the CO detectors. Barry and I hang the elephant poster in the staff restroom, which I just had framed to perfection (if I do say so myself). At 3pm, Mike Esmay (our architect), arrives for his final walk-through. He wants the heat balanced, the front door to open more easily, and he has some question about the HVAC unit in the basement. I point out paint touch-ups, the saddle in the main floor restroom needing grout, and small electrical issues -- a missing switch plate and an automatic sensor that shuts off after one minute, leaving one stranded on the toilet in the dark. I walk Mike out, and the air is so soft and sweet.
February 20 | What a day. First up, is Cindy and Larry to measure the windows in the Quiet Study Porch for shades. They are followed by Steve Binder, our landscaper. We walk the grounds and discuss what has to be done -- there's a lot to remember (much of it detailed) and I am not taking notes. He's promised to get me a quote for hedges and perennials for the front entrance. There's definitely a lack of heat in the building, and when a rep from Design Air shows up looking for filters and an exhaust fan, I put him to work tracking the source of the problem. Dave and his wife arrive (she's met him here with lunch), and I get to hear the job described through the eyes of a contractor's spouse. She admits how much he's enjoyed it. He blushes and disavows everything. Dave installs two more CO detectors and repositions two more, but best of all is the pineapple. Since we expect record-breaking warm weather, Dave is able to glue and mount the carved wooden house number with the golden pineapple in the front door. The pineapple was a symbol of hospitality in colonial times.
February 19 | Technically, we're closed today, but you'd never know it. Patrons drift in and out, and I meet with the cleaning company about upgrading our service to accommodate the expanded footprint. Blauvelt Wallcovering also checks in -- we're getting close to ordering shades for the very sunny Quiet Study Porch. Barry and I empty, then dismantle metal bookshelves in the Behringer Room. We re-install them in the staff room and re-load the books. This will be their temporary headquarters until new shelving is built. We clear out tables and set them up in the lobby and fiction area.
February 18 | I could tell even before I went to sleep that the roads would be fine. I don't even have to re-shovel the front walk.and our plow guy is shoveling the main entrance when I wake up. On my way to move my car, I notice that the plow has ruptured the asphalt in the driveway between the post office and the library. Remember this name: Absolute Landscaping. I'm absolutely going to have a talk with these people.
February 17 | I process books and help patrons with tax forms and résumé submissions. A woman who is redecorating her house wants to know which paint colors I've used, and we walk around the building room by room. For the record: main floor walls > Farrow + Ball "String 8." Accent wall = Benjamin Moore "Caliente." Public restroom wainscotting = BM Louisberg Green, wall = F + B "Lyme White." Staff room = Sherwin Williams "Svelte Sage." Staff Restroom wainscotting > BM Shade Grown, walls = Valspar "Desert Bone." Quiet Study Porch walls = BM "Atmospheric." Second floor family restroom, wainscotting = F + B "Wimbourne White," walls = BM "Dress Blue." StoryCraft Cottage walls = F + B "Lyme White.
When the doors close at 5pm, I first begin to tackle my task. I make a little headway filing papers in the great room, when out of the corner of my eye, I catch a mouse dart across the floor. I gather up the trash and recyclables and move them to the front hallway bins. I decide to give the mouse his space and watch "And Justice for All" with Al Pacino at the circulation desk computer. I take photos of the storm through the windows and text them to Barry. Sometime around 1am I resume filing. I've got plastic file bins scattered on tables throughout the room. At around 2am, the sound of snowplows drives me to the front door. The strip mall's plow man is pushing 12-ft high mounds up against the Japanese Maple, I fought long and hard to transplant from the rear lawn. He's also ramming his plow up against the paving blocks that Ed Cook's crew so lovingly laid. I run down the walkway yelling: "Isn't there anywhere else you can put this snow? This happens every year. Watch the tree, please." He looks contrite (which makes me feel bad) and tells me he will try next time. I grab a shovel dig the drifts out from around the tree. I knock snow off the branches of the maple and an ornamental Chinese Snowbell that is so beautifully adorned with delicate white flowers in early Spring (hard to believe that it's only weeks away). I shovel the path and push snow off my car so I can move it to the front lot until the side lot is plowed. My shoulders ache, I forget about the mouse and I curl up on the couch and drift off to sleep.
February 16 | I clear out my stuff from under the sink in the new StoryCraft Cottage so Marybeth can move in her children's room supplies. The Fire Inspector is meeting Ed Cook here at 1:30pm to approve the location of the carbon monoxide detectors. Ed forgets to show -- Dave's got him digging out the parking area at his house. Doug Sampath and I conduct a walk-through and I impart his instructions to the boys -- need two more detectors, move two detectors. The carpet guy picks up a check for the Quiet Study Porch. Next job: Clearing out the Behringer Room for carpet. Barry and I visit our storage pods so I can remember what's in them. I have so much to do that I am frozen with inertia. When I leave for the night, I notice that the storage door is open (although the lock is tightly secured). I prop the door closed with a board and text Barry who returns with the key sometime during the night.
February 15 | Jim and Jeff from Design Air are the first to arrive with a vent cover for the public restroom and duct covers for the A/C vents in the Quiet Study Porch, where they route the cuts in the basement to the porch. The carpet is dark gray and the duct covers a bright white -- you can see them from space. Bob from CarpetsPlus appears midday to pick up his sample placard and inspect the porch. Dave is here before two to make some adjustments to the book bin fire door before the Building Inspector shows up. We'll need the Fire Inspector to sign off on the carbon monoxide detectors and we're still short paperwork on the elevator, which neither Ed nor I seem to remember getting. I speak with the elevator rep and he tells me the paperwork was never finalized. They are coming next week to touch up scratches in the door and change the numbers to better describe the floors (and half floor). After Glen leaves, Ed, Dave and I stand around the fireplace with oexhausted smiles on our faces. We share an unspoken moment over what we've accomplished, the enormity of it all. We've reached the end of the rainbow, and there's a pot of gold glinting on the horizon. I could use a stiff drink but settle for a bag of cheddar popcorn.
February 14 | Happy Valentine's Day. Adolfo and Hector arrive at 9am to lay down carpet in the Quiet Study Porch. Dom from Design Air is on his way to show them how he would like it to fit around the A/C ducts. They get a little testy because they don't want to wait. Dave stops in (without chocolate, flowers or a pony) to mount the carbon monoxide detectors, hang a mirror (to replace the one that shattered), re-mount a thermostat in the Quiet Study Porch, put the two globes on the ceiling fixtures, and remove the orange plastic protective caps from the smoke detectors (not an easy feat given the high ceilings in the children's area). Dave doesn't care for the mirror I picked, Adolfo doesn't like the way the carpet tread looks at the second floor landing. Everybody's a critic. We still need a few other things (A/C vent, fire door sign) before the Building Inspector returns tomorrow afternoon for a follow-up visit. It's only 2pm, and I've run out of steam.
February 13 | I forgot I had to work last night (subbing for Kyle who is on paternity leave), so I never did get to CarpetsPlus. Trevor patches the Quiet Study Porch for tomorrow's carpeting. Dave begs off today and promises to install carbon monoxide detectors Wednesday. I tell him if he shows up on Valentine's Day he better bring flowers, chocolates and a pony. A pair of Design Air techs visit to inspect our A/C units, which means I have to escort them through the dirtiest parts of the building (cellar and attic). I was hoping to have one day where I didn't carry construction silt home in my hair and clothes. Two elderly women who are here for the movie tell me I need a coat and purse hook in the new public restroom. Duly noted. I head over to CarpetsPlus to check out the flooring.
February 12 | It's awfully quiet around here. We are waiting for punch list items to be taken care of -- the ones the Building Inspector pointed out. I confirm with Home Depot that the Carbon Monoxide Detectors are in stock, while Barry dismantles the metal shelving on the porch. We drag everything into the staff room, so we have more flexibility and won't have to set up shelving only to take it down again. The mirror in the second floor family restroom slips from the wall and shatters. Good thing no one was in there at the time. I texted the contractor about it early this morning when it was askew. He's not returning any of my texts today. I let the carpet guy know that the Quiet Study Porch will be cleared, and he confirms that it will be patched tomorrow and carpeted on Wednesday. I'm going to visit the CarpetsPlus showroom this evening and have a look at waterproof wood-look plank flooring for the Community Room (which desperately needs a makeover). The contractor finally gets back to me at 4pm. He's wondering if the broken mirror means that he's cursed. Only by me, I assure him.
February 11 | I stop at the Abram Demaree Homestead, a buy-and-sell shop in Closter, NJ for some decorative items. One is a farm table from the 1800s, which requires a call to Barry. He hops in his decommissioned ambulance and is there within 25 minutes. I also picked up a small wooden cradle for the children's room, a Beatrix Potter print, and a large banner.
February 9 | Inspection Day! Whew, what a morning. Jorge is the first to arrive and Jaime follows soon after. I put them to work bringing the boxes of leftover tiles to the basement (they were sitting in the fireplace). Jorge also removes the temporary (seems like forever) door separating the construction zone from the west wing. Tom handles the delicate work -- hanging the green shelf and toilet roll holder in the main floor public restroom. He also takes the old wood planks I salvaged from our pile out back and splits one into two pieces lengthwise. He adds seven lovely little knobs I got at Lowe's and mounts the whole thing at the top of the red accent wall, so we can hang seasonal displays there without damaging the paint. It also works to tie that wall to the timber over the entrance and the one at the fireplace. Dave shows up to install the new copper light in the restroom and hang the mirror. For a room with a toilet, it's mighty inviting (add a good book and you'd never leave). I vacuum the vestibule and remove all extraneous objects -- wheelchair, table, ladders, paint. Jorge sweeps out the fireplace and I vacuum it and insert a faux log fire, which makes a crackling sound when the little aluminum brush inside spins. Ed Cook arrives. The stage is set for Glen Maier, the Building Inspector, who shows up around ten minutes after ten. Before we do the walk-through, he tells us that the permit for the previous addition (a ten-foot bump-out of the east wall in 2010) was never finalized. Ed gets on the phone with the architect, Bob Hoene, and twenty minutes later, the contractors are paying $350 for a letter from Bob signing off on the job. Glen has a question about skylights, which no longer exist, and the portico to the vestibule out back. We also need to install more carbon monoxide detectors, grills for the A/C vents and a label on the book bin fire door. Not bad, everyone agrees. I got so caught up staging the premises for the inspection that Tonie has to remind me to do the payroll. I make use of Tom's mounting rack and drape some white branches against the red backdrop. Barry has to keep the building open for the Boy Scouts who are in the Community Room weighing Pinewood Derby entries until 9pm. In the meantime, Barry and I keep busy offloading books from the long metal bookshelf on the Quiet Study Porch in preparation for carpeting the space. About halfway through, we finally develop a rhythm and line up the books on the floor of the fiction room just behind the computers. It is dirty, backbreaking work that ends at 11pm. Not too terrible a time. When I get home, I sit down on the couch, my head inclines, and I don't wake up for four hours.
February 8 | Ed Cook stops in early to pick up his check. The carpet crew arrives shortly thereafter to finish up with the stairs and vestibule. They will return for the porch and Behringer Room as soon as we clear them out. Bob, the carpet guy, brings me samples for a wood-look divider where the new and old carpet meet in the Children's Room (anything but the shiny gold metal strip that's there now). We also discuss flooring in the Community Room -- boy, does that room ever need a makeover, especially since the rest of the library has been upgraded. Craig stops by to activate the computer cables in the fiction area, and we move the equipment from the Behringer Room onto temporary folding tables until a counter is built. The whole operation takes about 30 minutes and does the trick. At the same time, Jerry from Floz-on, shows up to talk paint for the Behringer Room and lower level Community Room, and stain for the fire doors in the west wing, which Dave will install. It's not until 11:45am that I sit down and catch my breath. The Building Inspector is due at 10am tomorrow. I speak with Dave later in the day -- he'll send two men on Friday morning to take care of some loose ends before the inspector arrives. We need to get the unused tile boxes out of the fireplace, hang a shelf, mount a light. I'm sitting at the computer in the new space writing this. When I look over my shoulder it's like a dream come true. Kids are playing on the newly-carpeted stairs -- running amok, unfettered, buoyant. I can barely contain my joy.
February 7 | 6:15am. I arrive early to beat the snow. Let's see if the carpet guys show up. They do, around 9:30am. It looks like we are the only library open in the entire system. They finish the main floor up to the elevator without being impeded by much foot traffic, since the snow and ice storm keep most people from venturing out.
February 6 | The electrician is sitting in the parking lot when I arrive at 7:35am. Of course, I wasn't told he was coming, which is why I live in fear every morning that someone will come and go before I get to work. Things work best when they are in a handy order known only to tradespeople. Edwin is here to install the hand dryer, light switch, and heater in the main floor public restroom. We take note of the holes with protruding wires that indicate where fire alarm sensors are still to come, and I call John at Reddi-Alarm to arrange a visit. Lo and behold, Tom Oswald returns to attack the punch list items that have been lingering. Dave swings by briefly with the saddle in hand, and is pressed into service helping Tom mount the restroom door. Tom sets the saddle for the restroom entry, adjusts the hole for the hand dryer, mounts the shelf over the toilet (it was originally part of the vanity that we had to take apart in order to fit the faucet). Helen Potter appears -- she wants to see images on screen that she is using as a reference to make paintings for the little frames over the doors in the 1852 wing, as a thank-you for the 20 times I've edited her cat story. The cement floor patching for the main level continues unabated, creating all sorts of havoc for those trying to get to the Behringer Room or the toilet. Dare I say, it's a zoo!! Bob, the carpet guy, shows up to confer with his installers as they plan in which direction the carpet is laid. In advance of the storm, they bring in giant rolls of carpet and store them in the fiction area. After 6pm, Barry and I move my desk (which is in sections) out of the StoryCraft Cottage (my former office) and into the adjacent children's area, so the "cottage" is free and clear of obstruction. My desk will be used by Marybeth with the addition of new custom built-in shelving.
February 5 | The carpet guy laid down a coat of a cement-based patching compound over the fiction room floor and parts of the lobby. He arrived late and left early. I look for examples of vintage pub signs online as a template for creating a sign for the "StoryCraft Cottage," which we will dedicate in memory of our beloved Children's Library Assistant, Mary deLisser.
February 3 | Barry and I spend most of the day cleaning up the construction site for the return of the carpet guys on Monday. We move book bins, a chalkboard, paint sample cans, chairs, and other detritus from the site, then vacuum up the insidious construction silt over and over. We sing "Lean on Me" and "Going to the Chapel" like we are toiling on a prison chain gang. The acoustics in these empty rooms are fabulous!
February 2 | Punxsatawney Phil sees his shadow. You know what that means . . . six more weeks of construction! Johnny from Reddi-Alarm arrives to "suck the code" (his words) out of the fire alarm panel and program in new descriptions. Bob from CarpetsPlus stops by to confirm the carpet plan for next Monday. He's just come from the barber and smells good. After hours, Barry and I tackle the clouds in the vestibule. We each set up ladders and take a side, adding peach and purple, he more thickly than I. The results are mixed, and we work for several hours before knocking off. Barry designates me the official cloud accent color painter going forward and takes himself out of the running.
February 1 | A flurry of activity first thing. The plumbers arrive to install a baseboard heater in the main floor public restroom. They also connect our sink and install a toilet. Dave appears briefly to confer with Carmine, then is called away on another job. Barry, Marybeth and I move the green loveseat into the new children's anteroom and load it with puppets. I bring the poster for the staff restroom to the framers.
January 31 | The painters return for the restroom trim and the staining of the timber. They also spend a lot of time upstairs touching up places where the carpet layers played fast and loose with the walls. It's not easy to lay roll carpet without hitting something. Barry mounts the mint green ceramic letters that spell out L-I-B-R-A-R-Y over the outside entrance. It's a bit of a challenge, because the letters are not perfectly flush, but have bowed somewhat when they were fired. By the third letter he's mastered the art of placement, and they look great -- both playful and inviting. Dave arrives to remove the tarp and wooden boards that sealed off the construction site from the children's room. The second floor is now fully open. It's a bit disconcerting to have the room opened up again. I give Dave a ride in the elevator (and it behaves -- no grinding).
January 30 | Crickets.
January 29 | I was expecting painters today, but they were bumped until tomorrow. An oversized poster arrives in the mail for the staff restroom (I won't tell you what the subject is -- you'll have to come see it). I also receive two copper faucets. Other than that, not a single worker has entered the building. What an odd sensation.
January 27 | After a full day of prep, Hector arrives to paint the main floor public restroom. He finishes everything but the door trim and the faux timber overhead. The lengths to which these painters go is extraordinary. I order some toilet paper roll holders and look at refrigerators online.
January 26 | I arrive at 7am so I'm here before Mark, the elevator guy, arrives. At 8:30am, John and Johnny from Reddi-Alarm, the fire inspectors, and Eric, the elevator supervisor, converge in the Community Room. Ed and Dave also show up, so you know it's big. Dave paces, while Ed and the fire inspector discuss racing cars. Tom lays cement board in the vestibule as per the carpet guy's request. Cole cleans up. Hector, the painter, arrives solo to prep and paint the main floor public restroom wainscotting and walls. Preparing the walls is a lengthy, dusty business, but if they're prepped right, the paint job is remarkable. The electricians are finishing up with their punch list, and the carpet guys tackle the StoryCraft Room upstairs. It wouldn't be so bad but for the grinding shriek of the fire alarm test every 5 minutes. WE PASS the elevator acceptance test. Ed and I go for a ride, and he hands me a pile of keys and shows me how to activate "independent service," which is the setting we will use until the elevator is open to the public. I ask Dave about installing a house number on the front door and mounting the shelf we took off the vanity so we could set a sink on there. The carpet guy drops in to pick up a check, and we discuss phasing for the main floor. This is the tricky part, because we have to empty everything out of the Behringer Room.
January 25 | Today's the day (at least one of the days) when carpet installation begins. I am beyond tired of traipsing around these dirty wood and concrete floors. Carpeting is completed for the second floor office suite and children's anteroom. They'll tackle the StoryCraft Cottage tomorrow. Tom finishes up items on Dave's punch list. I hand him MY punch list and he looks nervous. I ask the carpet installers about replacing the gold metal edge piece with anything but gold metal, and they tell me to talk to Bob who offers me vinyl. Wood is out of the question, because the piece must be thin.
January 24 | Jorge and Tom arrive early to continue fabricating the wainscoting in the main floor restroom. I look for paint among the samples that I've stockpiled and (believe it or not) find the perfect color, Louisburg Green. I decide on Lyme White for the walls -- it's the color we used in the StoryCraft Cottage and a safe choice. I'm dying to spice up the room somehow, but Tom is looking daggers at me. Mark, the elevator guy, meets up with his supervisor, Eric and they run a weight test, which basically consists of rolling dollies piled high with 500 lb weights into the cab and taking it for a ride. They're prepping for the real test on Friday. I grill Mark once more about whether we have complied with EVERY directive they've thrown at us, and he assures me that all is in order. Bob, from CarpetsPlus, shows up and we clear it with Mark to leave the elevator door open and the cab accessible, so the carpet guys can install a temporary piece of scrap tile on the floor until the elevator passes inspection. Dave appears and so does Bert von Wurmb, former Building Inspector at Orangetown. I give Bert a tour, and the crew wishes he was still the building inspector and could sign off on the job. Barry does a little more cloud painting on the vaulted ceiling and finishes up all of the soft undercoat. Tomorrow he will add the accent colors, smoky purple, yellow and peach. The painters are coming tomorrow, as are the carpet guys to start carpeting the second floor. Once we can begin to move our stuff into those spaces and have the elevator to assist us, we can begin to clear out the Behringer Room (there goes my back).
January 23 | It's like old home's week. Tom and Jorge return to work on the trim and wainscoting for the main floor. They also shave the bottom of the door and reset it. Dave shows up, and he and Barry share their delight in a Patriots' win (they're both from Massachusetts). Jorge regales us with his tale of getting back into the country -- he waited several hours because there wasn't enough manpower to process the returnees, but otherwise was admitted without a hitch. A crew of three elevator guys get to work on finishing up their punch list. They meet with the fire alarm guys who are making sure all their equipment is functioning in anticipation of Friday's test. I hound them for specifics -- is the railing fixed, the numbers switched, the pit cleaned, the scratches patched? I apply cherry stain to the frame of a print I bought for the family restroom (it's an illustration of family life in Scandinavia, but it could pass for Dutch). Barry finally gets on a ladder and begins painting clouds on the barrel vault in the entryway. We ask Dave if we can borrow an 8-foot ladder, which he promises for tomorrow.
January 22 | Dave texts me that Tom will not be here today (more "likely" tomorrow). Tappan Zee Tile is supposed to be here to apply grout to the tile they laid on Friday. Barry and I re-apply the new and improved "Many Happy Returns" label over the bookdrop slot. It looks great (much improved). Barry touches up the letters on the CHAMBER of SUPREME QUIETUDE sign over the Quiet Study Annex door. He applies a green accent to the top of the dark green letters to make the text more visible.
January 19 | Tappan Zee Tile guys arrive just before 11am. They did a fabulous job yesterday. Still to finish: grouting the backsplash for the staff room kitchenette and the slop sink wall and installing backsplash for the second floor kitchenette and the main floor public restroom. Bob from Valentine Electric and John from Reddi-Alarm hook up the fan so it will vent smoke from the elevator hoistway. They tell me we will have an "Elevator Acceptance Test" at 8:30 next Friday morning. In the words of our contractor, "Hallelujah!" Tino and Cole remove debris and unused sheetrock from the job site. Tino installs the marble saddle for the second floor family restroom. I'm waiting to hear back from the contractor about who foots the bill for replacing six feet of roof after the leak. Another day, another $$$$.
January 18 | What a zoo!! The elevator rep arrives at 8am to babysit the electricians. In other words, he uses the magic key to activate the elevator, and they climb aboard (not in, but on top of) the elevator cab. The tile guys (father and son) are here around 10am, and Dave meets them so we can finalize tile placement (not as simple as you may think, because this backsplash tile has a wacky pattern that demands four separate decisions). Trevor, the carpet guy, also shows and lays down a coat of concrete upstairs, which cuts off access to the restroom and office suite (where, of course, more backsplash tile is needed). I find four boxes of thin grey tile that looks vaguely familiar. At first, I assume that it was delivered here in error before it comes to me -- it's the lower wall tile for the slop sink closet -- duh. It was ordered a lifetime ago. Good thing the tile guys are already here so we can slate that into the schedule. Kevin -- a cabinetmaker -- and I meet at 11am so he can go over the staff room furnishings (and just the staff room). He is pricing the job by the room, so we can tweak items. Tino is here (one of the contractor's crew) to install plywood four feet out from each of the elevator doors -- something required by the elevator company to prevent tripping hazards (what happens after four feet is apparently not their problem).
January 17 | Tom arrives to install a metal mesh on the floor of the main floor public restroom in preparation for the tile. Contractors Dave and Ed appear to review the last five items on the elevator punch list. It would appear from their "colorful" discussion that they are most anxious to get out of here. The elevator company requires that the flooring inside and four feet outside the elevator be the same height. Ed suggests putting plywood down as a temporary solution (believe it or not, the elevator company actually accepts this). Edwin and Joe of Valentine Electric return to install nine emergency light units. The tile guys never show up (they don't like to drive in the snow).
January 16 | A few tiny flurries early in the day. The toilet paper roll holders arrive from Wayfair, and I only ordered them the day before (and there is no charge for shipping). The letters for the cherry lintel over the front door have arrived. They spell out L-I-B-R-A-R-Y in mint green ceramic (hey, if you don't know you're at the library in Blauvelt, you need help). You will not find another library with letters like these. Early afternoon, I'm sitting at my desk when a ladder is flung against the side of the porch roof. J. J. from Edward Corey Roofing is exploring the area of the leak. I run out to meet him in case he needs my input. The only thing he says is that it's always a tough area when the old and new roof meet. Well, yeah . . . so . . .
January 15 | Design Air appears early on to check the heat situation in the upstairs office suite (apparently, it doesn't have a separate thermostat and is governed by the unit on the first floor, which means it's way too toasty). They spend an hour insulating some copper pipes and depart. John and Johnny from Reddi Alarm meet Edwin from Valentine Electric to install, and in some cases re-install, fire panels and add the last of the smoke detectors. They also wire the connections from the elevator -- all part of the elevator checklist. Mark, the elevator guy, promises to email me an updated punch list, but I have yet to see one. The remaining tile is promised for Wednesday. I order a Persian rug for my office (I footed the bill) and some toilet paper holders.
January 12 | Mark, the elevator guy, texts me at 7:30 in the morning -- he will be meeting with his supervisor on Monday and report back. Those guys seem to spend a lot of time meeting without any resolution. Bob, the carpet guy, visits with some plans to help us transition by carpeting portions of each room which will allow us to shift furniture from one side to the other. I don't think any other carpet company would have offered that (the others said that they wanted the entire room emptied of all content). Bob will send Trevor to continue prepping the floor next week, and carpet is scheduled to be laid on Wednesday, January 24th. Barry and I venture out in the pouring rain and do Dave a favor and fetch the marble saddle for outside the second floor restroom from Ceramic Harmony in Nanuet. Tino arrives at 3pm with two bags of sand to patch the hole around the toilet pipe in the main floor public restroom. Tom follows shortly to apply a second coat of spackle to the sheetrock. We may have the tile guys here tomorrow for restroom floor and kitchenette backsplash. Maybe not.
January 11 | I'm at a Director's Association meeting in Middletown until 1:20pm. In my absence, the contractor has come and gone. He's left Tino and Jorge behind to finish the sheetrock and attend to the elevator punch list. Jorge also fixes the knobs he installed the previous day -- they were horizontal and I prefer them vertical. Tom has also returned -- it's so good to see him. After all, we were in the trenches together dreaming up the StoryCraft Cottage facade and other finish details. Dave reappears late afternoon, and we calmly review the elevator punch list -- all remaining tasks have been assigned to subs who are due on Monday. He attempts to contact his tile guy -- we need floor tile in the main floor public restroom and backsplash in the kitchenettes. Tile must go down before Tom installs wainscotting in the restroom. Dave fixes the loose window in my office, while Jorge and Tino correct the installation of the cottage windows that the painters reinstalled (poorly). Jorge and his son, Isaac, are traveling to El Salvador next week (fingers crossed that they will be allowed back in this country).
January 10 | The contractor's crew was supposed to be here to sheetrock the main floor public restroom. The clock is ticking . . . I speak to John at Reddi-Alarm to arrange for him to meet the elevator rep here to connect the fire cables in the equipment room. The contractor shows up at 10:30am with Jorge and Tino in tow. He's rushing out to another meeting and barely has time to take the elevator punch list from my hand. I meet with Kevin of Raven Wood Cabinetry. I like the quality of his work and the suggestions he makes. He tells me he will price each area separately -- as I review the rooms with him, the enormity of the job really hits home.
January 9 | Electricians Edwin and Joe install the remaining bulbs in the Behringer Room fixtures. All 8 pendants are now up and running with a very soft diffused light. They also install a heater in the main entry vestibule -- these last few weeks have proven how cold it can get in there. Mark from D + D Elevator shows up unannounced. Thank god Barry recognized his voice. Mark and I review what's left on his punch list, and I made up a chart of 19 items that need attention and texted them to the contractor -- then followed up with a phone call.
January 8 | I schedule a meeting for Wednesday with a cabinetmaker to review all of the furnishings. The carpet men arrive and Trevor preps the floor. Believe it or not, they pour concrete over the plywood in the second floor office suite and spread it wall to wall -- it looks like a stiff, gray beach. I picture sand and palm trees (wishful thinking). Jorge arrives to troubleshoot the leak but can't find anything after dropping the recessed fixtures to look inside the ceiling. He's one of the contractor's guys, not the roofer's. He hasn't been here in a while, so we catch up. He's from El Salvador, and Trump signed legislation just this morning that gives El Salvadorans 19 months in the country before they are deported. Jorge has been here 18 years, has a home, wife, two kids in school, pays taxes, and has a smile that lights up a room. There's something wrong with this picture.
January 5 | The electricians return to convert the high "pill" pendants in the Behringer Room to LED (a cost savings, not to mention having to call in the electricians with a 16-ft ladder every time we need to change a light bulb). They also install an outlet in the basement above the Dutch oven, so we can add a special effect to the tableaux showcasing a little slice of history. Barry and I vacuum out the oven, raising clouds of 266-year-old dust and install a mechanical fire. The electronic sign across the street says 4 degrees. Mid-afternoon, we hear a dripping sound coming from the second floor restroom. Marybeth discovers that the ceiling above the timber post is leaking. Later, there is seepage at the baseboard below the window, and later still, a crack with water beads appears on the ceiling. The area of the leak is where the old and new sections of the building meet. Ed Corey arrives to troubleshoot and one of his men climbs on the roof to shovel away snow -- not as much as they expected to find. When things dry out, they will check for the source of the problem. The electricians are still here at 6pm changing out the Behringer Room lights. Those guys just do not know when to quit!
January 4 |
The weirdest snow I've ever seen
Comes down sideways, never hits the ground
Blows like a blizzard from the window sill up
Heading south from where I'm standing
Somewhere deep in the heart of Jersey
Two feet of Blauvelt snow is landing
The electricians actually showed up today (hey, they don't work, they don't get paid). They're installing smoke detectors in the high ceiling of the Children's Room. They had to bring up the 16-foot ladder and it is an impossibly tight squeeze. Maybe it's a good thing that I gave the staff the day off, and no patrons have dared to stumble through our door on a day like today. They tell me our brand new, full-capacity generator is functional (just in case).
January 2 - 3 | All quiet on the renovation front at the birth of the new year. This doesn't mean the job is finished. It only indicates that there are some things to be resolved. The contractor estimates two weeks on their end, then carpeting and painters return for touch-up. Then furnishing . . . then . . . Later in the day, Dave Sirois shows up with a tile guy in tow. We discuss the placement of floor and backsplash tile in the main floor restroom and backsplash for the two kitchenettes. Dave has brought the knobs for doors that do not have levers. He's told his crew to stay home due to the impending storm. It looks like they'll be back on Monday -- "We're not leaving here until everything is finished!" Dave says.
December 29 | Jesus, one of the painters, returns to paint trim on the base of the passageway across from the elevator door. I also have him paint the wall sconces leading from the main floor to the basement the same color as the wall. Electricians bring in the 16-foot ladder (no easy feat) so they can install smoke detectors in the high ceiling in the Behringer Room. The contractors, Ed and Dave, meet onsite to discuss punch list items with me. Ed has just had a second knee replacement surgery and hobbles around in some pain. I need to order a wall-mounted light for the main floor public restroom. The electricians work until 6pm even though we close at 5pm on Fridays. Barry and I wait them out before leaving for the holiday weekend. The happiest and safest of new year's to everyone. Prospero Ano Nuevo.
December 28 | Another mad dash day. I speak to the architect about the emergency light kerfuffle from the previous day -- I'm going to let the contractor handle it. The painters finish up the porch (4 coats of polyurethane on the ceiling). It looks like a log cabin or speedboat. They also paint trim in the Behringer Room. When I visit the basement, I realize what the masons had been doing down there all day Tuesday -- building supports to shore up the walls which showed signs of crumbling. The cabinetmaker returns and we make copies of his set of drawings for custom furnishings so we can go out to bid. Electrics Supervisor, Bob Lutz, and I discuss adding an outlet in the basement so I can install a fake fire inside the Dutch oven. The architect calls these little surprises "ha-ha's." Electricians install fire pulls and strobes throughout the building and finish up the electricals in the main floor restroom. Edwin, the electrician and I discuss installing a heater in the vestibule -- that was my intention all along (nothing worse than waiting inside a cold corridor). The lanterns outside the StoryCraft Cottage are also mounted and lit with megawatt bulbs. Barry beats a hasty path to Lowe's and finds an 11-watt soft bulb that gives off a warm amber glow. As night falls, the electricians add task lights and schoolhouse globes to the Quiet Study Annex. Be still my heart. During this dark time of year, this has turned out to be the glorious week of lights.
December 27 | As the drive to complete every aspect of the job heads into the homestretch, pressure mounts. Painters continue to work on the porch, adding a second coat of polyurethane to the ceiling, and painting the upper trim. They also manage to apply one coat of color to the accent wall and under the windows where the counter will go. Upstairs, the painters repaint the cottage face after the half timbers were installed. The electricians tell me that they need to install all of the light fixtures in order for us to get that all-important Certificate of Occupancy, so pendant lights sprout from the ceiling over the Reference and Circulation desks and in the upstairs office suite and family restroom. They also activate the hand dryers -- the force of air is enough to jumpstart your heart. Plumbers lay pipes in the main floor public restroom and carve out a rather large hole in the concrete floor around the toilet. Barry and I take it upon ourselves (with borrowed tools) to unblock the window behind Tonie's desk, removing the sheetrock and dismantling the framing, which enables the painters to paint the trim (like they have nothing else to do). The cabinetmaker stops by with shop drawings for all of the built-in furnishings and we move from room to room deciding on materials and fine-tuning specs. I meet with the fire inspector who tells me we need emergency lights. Even though we have a generator, which will kick in immediately, a battery-driven option is still required. There is much confusion over this issue with the architect and contractor weighing in (with unprintable comments).
December 26 | I thought today was going to be quiet, but it's a post-Xmas festival of tradesman. The painters were expected and they spend the day removing all of the white paint from the ceiling in the Quiet Study Annex. They keep a white painted groove between the boards, then polyurethane the raw pine, which gives it the appearance of a log cabin. It definitely adds a striking focal point to what was an all-white room. They tell me they've never done a ceiling like that before and hope never to do one again (I hear that a lot) -- although, by the end of the day, they are beaming with pride. Masons are also on site patching various places where brick meets sheetrock or timber. The electricians are here installing restroom fans and switches. The guys from Reddi-Alarm also show up. I just thought I heard the plumber's voice (I did). Even our contractor makes an appearance and we sort out the remaining details, including the location of fixtures in the main floor public restroom. I need to call the Fire Inspector to see about relocating pull switches and strobes. Bob Cowart from CarpetsPlus appears midday, and we tentatively agree to schedule floor prep for the week of January 8.
December 21 + 22 | I've been looking at the painted ceiling in the Quiet Study Annex, and it's rough despite the sanding. I text Jerry (Mr. Floz-on) and he says it will be hard, but they can try other methods to remove the paint. He will have his men prepare a sample area, but once they do it there's really no turning back. This is the first time I've seen them wear protective headgear (they look like Bedouins in a sandstorm). Miserable Bedouins. The artist and his assistant finish installing the last of the fanciful art pieces and they look terrific. The working title of the piece is "Dutch Wonderland." Marybeth, Fran, Barry and I take turns deciding what they look like -- "It's an alien." "This one looks like baby puke." "There's a train track that's also a xylophone." Tom the carpenter leaves midday to attend the company party at Dave's shop in Nanuet.
On Friday, the painters drag themselves back here somewhat reinvigorated and attack the ceiling in the Quiet Study Annex. They remove all of the paint on the pine boards -- 7 coats by their count. Three they put on and four more that predated me. I feel so bad I tip them extra for their troubles. I am inclined to have them put polyurethane on the pine and leave it at that. I tell them I'll make it easy (after making it excruciatingly difficult). Tom affixes more hardware to the pocket doors while Cole cleans out the debris from the demolished restroom. It takes all day, but the ceiling is down to wood and all the lethal particles are swept up and carted off.
December 20 | Luis continues to paint trim in the Quiet Study Annex. Two other painters prep the facade of the StoryCraft Cottage so they can stain the half timbers to match the door. Tom and his assistant (a different one from the previous day) remove the tabbed pieces, which means that the painters must prep and paint the wall and ceiling again. They must feel like they're never going to get out of here. Tom attaches drawer hardware in the staff room kitchenette and the pocket door. Liam and Cole arrive to demo the public restroom with its four layers of tile, linoleum and cement. We re-route traffic to the staff restroom, which was officially activated on the previous day, although the wall heater and hand dryer are yet to be mounted. Jerry Howe from Floz-On visits and I text him the color for the Quiet Study Annex -- Benjamin Moore "Atmospheric" -- AF 500 (although most of the room is the white window trim). The ceiling is high gloss white, but not glossy enough. I ask them to add a layer of polyurethane. Tom, the carpenter, finishes removing the storm windows so there is nothing between the porch and the adjoining rooms when the windows are open. He also hangs "The Chamber of Supreme Quietude" sign that Barry painted over the Quiet Study Annex door. Mike Esmay (our architect) visits to inspect the latest changes -- he hasn't seen the walls painted on the main floor -- although he's not a fan of the dominant color.
December 19 | Craig caps off the rest of the cables, while three painters continue to prep the Quiet Study Annex. I remove the rust-colored plastic shutters so the painters can finish prepping around the interior windows. Tom and I also work on removing the storm windows, which necessitates my offloading books from a metal shelf and putting them on rolling metal book trucks. The artist and his assistant lay a paper template for their installation on the wall leading up the stairs. They install the ceiling pieces by drilling through metal tabs attached to the back of each piece. The tabs are affixed with screws with rounded heads, which makes the attachment mechanics highly visible. Tom (the sculptor) assures me that only he and I will notice once they're painted to match the wall and ceiling. I tell him that I am the one who needs to be satisfied that they don't detract from the art. I can tell he is frustrated, and I don't blame him, but the tabs are a clumsy, cheap approach. He asks me to reconsider once I've seen a few of the pieces with the tabs "painted out." I attempt to reset my brain to accept the tabs as part of the art, but have only minor success. After pondering solutions that involve velcro and magnets, we decide on construction glue as a quick, minimally invasive approach. He attaches two pieces and props boards against them to help the glue set. A weight has been lifted -- the light in the room makes it feel like spring.
December 18 | The wonderful painters arrive to prep the Quiet Study Annex. They drape our fiction shelves with plastic sheets and I have to snake my way under them to retrieve this morning's books for the "pull list." Tom shows up unexpectedly and installs the curved half timbers in the face of the StoryCraft Cottage wall (wow). The painters work on finding a dark stain for them that will match the door. Tom also installs hardware on the basement doors leading off the stairs to the Community Room. Craig, our telephone system installer, works on fitting his cable runs in the staff room with plates and other finishing touches. Russell from D + D Elevators shows up to conduct some mysterious business in the utility room (I ask for specifics but none are forthcoming).
December 16 - 17 | The painters have to forego working on Saturday, because the staff presented our annual Olde Time Holiday Radio Show. We managed to revive the Behringer Room by opening up the door to the main part of the building and dragging furniture out of the room into the construction zone. We retrieved chairs from the basement and dusted them off. The table of sweets was set up in the lobby,and the new entrance was made available for ease of access to the show venue. It was a great day, made even greater by the return of Alex Carver who crooned his way into our hearts once again. On Sunday, I visited Modern Paint in Nanuet for another round of Benjamin Moore colors. I found some possibilities before remembering I had chairs in mind that clash with the colors I've been considering. Now if I could only find that file with the photos of those chairs.
December 14 - 15 | Painters arrive after the snow fades and continue to attack the stair rails and tread on both sets of stairs. They paint the cherry steps up to the section where the pine steps begin (they'll be covered by carpet). Baseboard is also painted -- "Wimbourne White". Pretty soon they'll be prepping the Quiet Study Annex. I could take the path of least resistance and use the same color as the main floors walls or . . . pick a new color (back to Lowe's for more sample paints). Dave brings the re-cut quartz countertop for the staff restroom (much better). Friday morning, Tom seats the stained glass sunflower round window in the StoryCraft Room door by suspending it from two tiny chains, then sandwiching the panel between two pieces of safety glass. Nothing anyone is quick and easy -- all painstaking and detailed and thoughtful. He finishes most of the timber on the face of the outside walls (still to come, the curved pieces). The paint crew will stain them dark to match the door. Tom tells me he is done here for a while (sniff).
December 13 | A second coat of paint is applied to the walls on the main floor. Painters stain steps and handrails on the main staircase. Tom cuts and positions more rough pine timbers on the outside of the StoryCraft Cottage. We decide that the ones on the front facade are too thick and Tom promises to "rip them." He takes great pains to get it right and knows to ask before he delves into uncharted waters. The heating company installs an exterior vent in 20-degree weather. I query the painters as to how many steps it takes to produce such gorgeous results -- sand, clean, spackle, paint, sand, spackle, paint, paint.
December 11 -12 | I am due in New York City for an event, and as soon as I arrive, work crews inundate me with questions. The electricians want to hang the pendant lamps I sequestered over a year ago. A green drum pendant appears in my office -- the surface is fashioned from cocoa leaves that are stripped of their color, cured and re-colored. The plumber has questions about the drains in the kitchenette sinks, which necessitates ordering matching oil-rubbed bronze finishes. The white veining in the stone counter for the staff restroom has the unfortunate look of a cracked surface. The stone dealer assures me that this is the nature of the stone, but I tell the contractor that it's unacceptable. I am at the stone yard at 8:30am on a rainy Tuesday morning marking out another piece of the slab with a moderately improved pattern. After weeks of prep, paint crews finally splash the walls with color. The red accent wall comes alive with Benjamin Moore's color-of-the-year 2018 -- "Caliente!" The sage green staff room is a welcome relief. I hope the staff is as soothed as I am. Tom and I painstakingly figure out the half-timber treatment for the StoryCraft Cottage. The rough pine boards are thick and will need to be stained to match the dark timber. I'm not fully convinced that they are the right choice, but they are what was available. Sometimes, that just has to do.
December 9 | Two of the paint crew arrive to finish up the prep work on the main floor. Sam, the stone guy, installs the slab he's cut for the restrooms and kitchenettes. There is snow in the air.
December 6 - 8 | Tom and I discuss details of the half-timber treatment for the StoryCraft Room exterior. It's supposed to mimic a tudor-style cottage (one of my dreams that is actually coming true). I'm beyond excited. The carpet installer stops by to check on our progress and when asked, the painters shrug and say they are not sure when they'll be done. The painters continue to prep the main floor. We move furniture in our makeshift kitchen to allow them access to the walls closest to where we're working. Our phones are off and on all week. Optimum arrives to troubleshoot on Thursday, and our IT guy changes a splitter to improve the signal. All is well until use of a glue gun during a children's craft programs trips the breaker to the circulation desk area. Barry and I scramble to jerry-rig extension cords to an adjacent room and have computers back up and table and floor lamps illuminating the area before we leave for the night. Mood lighting (I'm just not saying what mood). On Friday, by 8:30 in the morning, there are seven trades throughout the building -- woodworkers, electricians finding a short in the wire, Design Air installing heating vents, a supervisor prepping the elevator for inspection, the IT guy checking one disabled phone, cabinetmakers re-installing a cabinet over the Reference Desk, and the paint crew.
December 4 - 5 | Tom continues to tackle punch list items. He installs medieval-looking strap hinges and a fancy latch on the Hobbit door. We discuss installing the stained glass window in the door, but the window is slightly smaller than the opening. It's a problem for another day. Extending the wall across from the elevator means we have to relocate the fire strobe, temperature control, outlets and light switch. The electricians arrive late in the day on Tuesday to make the changes so the wall can be patched and prepped for the painters. The painters continue spackling and sanding the walls on the first and lower floors. They remove the Hobbit door and polyurethane it. The hardware for the rest of the doors arrives.
November 29 + 30 | And the wall came a-tumbling down. A crew arrived late afternoon to dismantle the temporary wall separating the two halves of the Children's Room. For a brief and shining half-hour, our staff was transfixed as they got a glimpse of what life in the future would be like. Soon after, a tarp replaced the wall, so painting can continue where the existing and refurbished sections of the room come together. Paint in the staff restroom is complete -- the green/gray that was impossibly hard to choose and above the wainscotting, the palest of pinks -- pure heaven. The navy walls are also finished in the upstairs family restroom and are a staff favorite. Also in progress, a silvery blue color on the walls of the second floor office suite -- a feast for the eyes. The painters take advantage of the balmy weather and paint the exterior entrance -- the Dutch eave canopy and columns. One of the painters asks me if I like the color. I answer "Yes!", and he says, "You better." Everybody's got my number.
November 28 | Tom finishes framing out the extended wall across from the elevator. He was supposed to take down the wall dividing both halves of the Children's Room, but decides against it when he discovers the painters are sanding inside the StoryCraft Cottage. Since the computers and printer have been relocated, he is able to demolish the half wall and counter. A stained glass sunflower rondelle (round window) arrives for the hole in the StoryCraft Cottage door. Tom tells me this is his last day here for a bit. The painters paint the ceiling of the StoryCraft Cottage blue and finally lays down the gray-green color for the wainscotting in the Staff Restroom. We need to get another restroom up and running so the workers can demo the public restroom on the main floor. They also stain the cherry doors on the second floor. The stone countertops will be installed on Saturday.
November 27 | I'm here at 6:30 in the morning furiously testing my last batch of paint samples so I can email the painting contractor the final choices. The wainscotting color is still giving me fits, and at the last minute, I decide on a grayish-green color and let the (paint) chips fall where they may. The wall of the staff restroom looks like a patchwork quilt of dark gray, green and blue. Not my finest hour. At noon, the contractor arrives to make some hard decisions on keyed locking levers for interior privacy doors (in other words, we settle on less expensive alternatives). My task is to look for baby changing stations for the Family Restroom on the second floor (that's a minefield of choices). Tom takes down the wall dividing our makeshift office from the area outside the elevator. I feel naked and exposed (the pile of crap I've been hiding is now on view for all to see). We decide to extend the wall across from the area instead of returning to the archway that was there. We'll gain some wall space and create a buffer between the elevator and Behringer Room. In preparation for the demolition of the half wall behind the computer bank, I call in the data guy who disconnects the workstations. I pull cables and shift computers and a printer to the other side of the room onto a table Barry fished out of the storage pod. Quick, easy, and dare I say . . . painless!
November 22-24 | The painters return after a day away. Two of the colors I've selected for the restrooms look downright awful, and word gets out that I need to rethink things, so the painters move on to the trim. I spend the night before Thanksgiving at Lowe's buying more paint samples. I test them on Friday, and of the nine, only one is a keeper. I head out to the Benjamin Moore dealer in Nanuet for another round -- and of those, I find the Chinese red for the accent wall in the lobby. Still to be decided: the office suite upstairs and the wainscotting for the main floor restrooms.
November 21 | A quiet day with Tom trimming doors on the landing to the Community Room. Dave is still unhappy with the door hardware pricing and I search online at www.wayfair.com (highly recommended for homeowners). Barry and I drive to Sloatsburg in his decommissioned ambulance to pick up an antique round oak table I bought for short money on the weekend in a sale where all proceeds went to benefit the Tuxedo Library.
November 20 | The painters continue prepping the second floor and a coat of actual paint is laid on the wainscotting in the family restroom upstairs. It's white so it's not that exciting. I waiting for a splash of color to appear. Tom trims out the doorway between the refurbished main floor and the Behringer Room. To do so, he has to open up the doorway and gives onlookers a taste of the future united space. Dave and I discuss door hardware (yet again) and make some small decisions about cherry trim at the front entrance and the elevator lobby where it joins the Biography Room. The granite sink for the main floor staff restroom arrived on Saturday.
November 14 - 17 | The elevator guys bid their farewell on Tuesday. They leave the elevator open with the lights on at the lower level. I drag a barrier in front to prevent anyone from wandering on board. The painters arrives on Wednesday -- three guys in white clothes. They spend most of the day wrapping railings and cabinetry to protect it from spatter and prime wainscotting. The walls receive a pale yellow primer. Jorge trims out the Hobbit door, laying curved Azek across the top and sides. No one will know how much sweat equity went into the production of that masterpiece. I tape paint chips to the wall and meet with Jerry from Floz-on to finalize most of the colors. Tom and Jorge cut baseboard for the main level. The cabinetmaker and I make slow, painful progress figuring out the very specific peculiarities of designing a circulation desk, DVD storage and staff workspaces. I ask Dave if his guys can lower the upper cabinets in the kitchenettes to accommodate our staff, and they do so without a fuss. It feels much better -- human scale.
November 13 | Tom works on trimming out the elevator doors while Dave sneaks in the "hobbit" door for the StoryCraft Cottage. I catch him in the act of installing it. What an amazing piece of work. I can't wait for you all to see it. The painters were supposed to arrive today. Dave cuts out a hole for the copper sink in an old rustic table I found in Nyack. It will serve as a sink basin in the remodeled public restroom. I order one sink and return another. The contractor tells me he is anxious to finish the job.
November 10 - 12 | I spend the weekend continuing to spec furnishings with the cabinetmaker on site. On Saturday morning, I visit the stone place and bring back the countertop samples I chose the weekend before. I mix and match them with the tile and fixtures, which is more difficult than expected. As soon as I've made my choices, I return the samples to Ceramic Harmony in Nanuet. I pick up paint chips from Lowe's to add to my collection and dip into the paint samples I ordered from Farrow + Ball. I spend most of the afternoon painting swatches of color on the wall behind the circulation desk.
November 9 | Late last night, the sump pump in the Community Room dies and toilet water (and not the good kind) overflows into the room. I spend a half hour with two packs of paper towels and text the plumber -- who has a funeral -- and call our regular plumber -- who is in the hospital. Stay tuned. It was determined that the sump pump failure was electrical, and a dedicated line was run to the unit. I've been working every day with week with a cabinetmaker to finalize the specifications for custom-built furnishings. I've eliminated some features to economize, but it is still a sizeable undertaking.
November 6 - 8 | A typical Monday with intermittent phone outages and delays with the elevator (week 12 if you're counting). The architect is out of town and we scramble to set up a meeting on Tuesday with both contractors and the elevator supervisor. There's a punch list of items that do not meet code and must be resolved with additional funds in play. Tom breaks down the temporary enclosure in front of the main floor restroom so that the renovation site is now exposed to the world. He's also reattached the two original angled supports for the timber at the entrance to the children's area on the second floor.
November 4 - 5 | The electrician and two plumbers are here prepping the family restroom on the second floor. I visit the stone company, which is located at the end of a long driveway across from Kelly's Tavern on Middletown Road in Nanuet. A young girl mans the counter -- the daughter of Abe, the owner. Her mother and brother also work there. It takes her a while to warm up to me, after I tell her I'm looking for marble for the upstairs bath. "Marble is soft, porous, I'll be sorry," she says. "You want quartz or granite!"
I learn that former Children's Room Assistant, Mary de Lisser, passed away on Monday, November 5th at the age of 96. Mary was the beloved storyteller to decades of Blauvelt children. I have Barry dummy up a sign naming the new StoryCraft Cottage after her.
November 2 - 3 | Kitchen faucets arrived on Thursday, and the sinks showed up on Friday, as promised. I like these companies that actually meet their delivery schedules. Tom finishes up with the wainscotting in the staff restroom, and spends the rest of the day in the family restroom on the second floor cutting into the sheetrock so the plumber can reorient his pipes to accommodate the sink and hand dryer. Meeting handicapped accessibility means that we must adhere to very stringent regulations as to how things can be placed. The elevator company supervisor is on site. He tells me they will be testing the elevator in the middle of next week, which brings us to week 11 of an 8-week install (no one dares rush the elevator crew). Dave shows up to figure out a new way to mount the sinks (which weigh 64 and 88 lbs respectively) -- steel supports that mount inside the walls. I have an assignment to visit the counter showroom on Saturday to choose stone for the kitchenettes and restrooms.
October 31 - November 1 | Barry and I hop in his decommissioned ambulance to head over to Granny's Attic in Hohokus, NJ to pick up a painted Hungarian shelf for the children's StoryCraft Cottage. Maury Lubman is the proprietor, and every stick of furniture has a story. There are three floors crammed with stuff, and after we finish measuring a tabletop, we find Maury on the phone with his neurologist -- he's having double vision and the doctor tells him he needs to go to the hospital pronto. He'll have an assistant drive him, but before he leaves, he tells us "If you're gonna make a deal, we gotta make it fast!" It's a real change of pace to be out driving amidst the fall foliage after being rooted to the renovation. On Wednesday, after the Library Directors Association in Middletown, NY, I return to find decisions have been made in my absence. I pick the stain color for the StoryCraft Cottage door from the hole they cut out of it for the window -- it's 2 inches thick and looks like a wheel of brie. Tom and Jorge have installed a wainscotting template -- not what I expected -- and Dave comes by at 3:30pm and we go over the door hardware choices and settle the wainscotting configuration. The elevator has been inspected by the supervisor and things seem to be on track, in spite of the water seepage below ground, which the sump pump will address.
October 30 | Monday dawns cold and windy. After two days of rain, there is three feet of water at the bottom of the elevator shaft, which leaves Russell and Walter wondering about submerged electrics. The plumber assures them that his wiring can withstand the deluge. My weekend deadline was to buy a vanity for the family restroom was successful, but only because I took apart a leftover vanity in my mom's basement and shoved the end pieces into my tiny Honda Fit. My plan is to fit a piece of stone over the top and still maintain ADA compliance. The hand dryers arrive and I order sinks and faucets and prepare a list of hardware for the many doors and closets. Jorge trims the stairs, while Tom frames out the door to the attic. I make a trip to Beckerle Lumber and pick out fixtures for the kitchen cabinets.
October 26 + 27 | By the end of the day Thursday, the tile team has finished grouting their floor tiles. The sage green cabinets are delivered for the staff room kitchenette. I realize that the celery-colored glass tiles that were so lovely don't really jive with the new cabinets. I make adjustments.The elevator crew will not finish this week, after all. There is a discussion about heating and cooling the utility room and making the hole for the sump pump deeper. Leo and his jackhammer tackle that job. On Friday, a full crew arrives to re-hang the midnight blue kitchen cabinets upstairs, build a wood saddle out of old planks for the office floor upstairs, install an old timber to transition from new to old construction in the StoryCraft Room, and begin to frame and sheetwork the wall and door to block off access to the attic. The new barrier will keep kids from wandering upstairs and help modulate the temperature -- no more cold nor heat emanating from the uppermost regions of the building.
October 24 + 25 | The elevator crew puts the finishing touches on the elevator, but need to make sure a sump pump is installed to take care of water seepage below ground. They expect to test it next Wednesday. The tile men -- a father and son -- lay down cement pads on all uneven surfaces. They look like foam, which makes me want to touch them. I don't care for the ceramic tile we picked up last minute from The Tile Shop in Nanuet and run over there at 8am to change the order to tiles that look like rough concrete -- they were the right price, size and in stock. Luis and Jose lay most of them in the main floor staff restroom, and install colorful "floorboard" ceramics in the kitchenette. On Thursday, they finish the floor in the second floor family bathroom -- a star pattern that looks like it came out of an old Tuscany farmhouse. They also finish laying the delft blue tiles for the upstairs kitchenette. Tom continues to trim out the opening from the Biography Room to the elevator lobby, while Jorge and Joel finish capping the columns for the portico. I run out to get grout at Lowe's. The architect stops in to see what's taken place -- likes some of my tile choices and is not crazy about others. Everybody's a critic! I stay late while the tile guys pad the front vestibule with concrete.
October 23 | Additional sheetrocking around the elevator openings and Quiet Study Annex door occurred over the weekend. The carpenters from Blooming Grove Stair are at the front entrance unloading their equipment when I pull up at 7:15am. Two electric convection wall heaters arrive today. I sort timber and floorboards in the parking lot -- relegated to the basement or dumpster. Tom and I salvage a piece with character to mask the rough transition from the sheetrock to the chimney. He also adds a piece of vintage floorboard above the inside door in place of a timber that was originally installed there.Jorge continues to trim out the portico columns -- they are really beginning to develop some character. He also lays a metal lathe mesh on the floors that will accept tile in the restroom and kitchenette upstairs. In the midst of all else, Tom Nussbaum, our sculptor, arrives late in the day and begins to tape paper to the wall leading up the stairs to sketch the layout for his "swarm." It's really going to be something!
October 20 | The door from the elevator lobby to the Quiet Study Annex is framed out and hung. Electricians continue to add lights in a few places, notably an impressive vintage copper pendant salvaged from the children's room (where it hung, unlit -- and underappreciated -- for years). The elevator crew shoulders on, while Tom and Jorge finish trimming the front portico with beadboard and Azek.
October 18 - 19 | More tile arrives -- wall treatment for the slop sink closet. Crews swarm all over the building. Masons, Benny and Leo, break through the window in the Biography Room, cutting up the sandstone blocks to open a passage to the elevator lobby. Jorge and Tom install wainscotting under the portico roof and wings. Eric builds and installs a bookshelf at the head of the stairs to the children's floor and caps the sheetrock ledge in the children's area. Joel frames around the elevator openings. The elevator installers test the mechanism and electrician, Bob Lutz, reviews the lighting in the Community Room vestibule. The plumber installs baseboard heating units in the Quiet Study Annex. The contractor, architect and I review the front porch column treatment. I talk to Dave about the "hobbit" door he will build for the StoryCraft Cottage. He is hoping his supplier can find vintage, rough pine boards. We also talk hand dryers, sinks, faucets and adding timber angles braces to the rustic post in the children's lobby.
October 17 | Dave and I figure out the counter details for the Quiet Study Annex (not as easy as it sounds owing to the low placement of the windows). Tom continues to sheetrock the porch, while Eric installs the second floor kitchenette. Leo and Benny edge the elevator tower with a bluestone slab where the brick base meets the siding. At the end of the day they surprise me with the bike rack installed. It looks like the Loch Ness monster has taken up residence in our front yard.
October 16 | Midnight blue cabinets arrive for the second floor kitchenette. Tom is going to build the door to the Quiet Study Annex and install sheetrock there. Jorge and Joel frame the Community Room closet, while Eric continues to trim the puppet theatre window in the StoryCraft Cottage. The elevator crew accepts delivery of a replacement piston -- they had to cut through the metal railing out back to get it into the building.
October 12 + 13 | Our architect, Mike Esmay, and I meet on site to look over the closet rebuild in the Community Room. Two different carpet company reps visit to walk the space. One rep tells me he quoted our library in 2011 -- that would have been when I first arrived. The other came recommended by a fellow library director. Masons, Gary, Benny and Leo, continue with building a frame for the elevator jambs -- five openings in all and painstaking work. Jorge and Joel frame out the closet under the stairs. Tom cuts a 25-inch square opening in the wall leading down to the Community Room from the main level -- the window will showcase our Dutch oven. The contractor and I meet to discuss closet configurations and cove trim around the leaded windows. A shipment of "fragile glass" arrives -- the celery-colored tiles for the main floor kitchenette backsplash. I break into the box to examine the goods -- just lovely.
October 11 | Electricians arrive first thing to install green exit signs on the main floor. I know it's hard to get excited about an exit sign, but they really do look great (they have green letters suspended in a clear frame -- much better than the clunky white plastic boxes with the angry red letters). Eric and I discuss door and window trim work for the second floor. Eric, Jorge and I plan out the feature window that will showcase the Dutch oven at the landing leading to the basement. Jorge and Joel tear up the stairs leading to the Community Room. They lay floor joists and cover them with plywood. The open space below contains ductwork and a sump pump. There are plans to install a double door from the Community Room side, but seeing the actual space makes me rethink things. I put in a call to the architect who will visit to discuss. A get a visit from one carpet dealer who tells me that no one uses roll carpet anymore -- only carpet tiles.
October 9 - 10 | Alas, the old floorboards I was hoping to save on the Children's Floor are too bowed to keep. Eric removes and stores them, while Jorge, Cole and Tino create new joists to level the sunken floor. They cover them with plywood and the footing is superb. Trimmers arrive in force to hang the cherry doors on the main floor, which makes the rooms come alive. It really is going to be a beautiful space. On Tuesday, Dave and Steven from Blooming Grove Stairs arrive with the railings and newel posts. The main floor post is massive -- it must weigh 80 pounds. I text Dave after overhearing the crew on the phone. They seem to have a lot of questions. Dave agrees that the post is too big and we discuss options for reworking it on a lathe. All this before 9am. A carpet representative arrives to quote the job. Floormasters sand the historic wood floor in my office and polyurethane a sample for my approval. When the sanding is complete, the floor is a wild mix of blond and pumpkin-colored wood. There are several boards with a gorgeous green vein running through them. Dave's crew trim up the doors on the first floor and set the repurposed exterior window in the StoryCraft Annex. The leaded glass window is set in the wall between my office and Barry's. I have a lump in my throat. It's beginning to feel like home.
October 5 - 6 | On Thursday, window trimming commences in earnest on the first floor and the trim looks fabulous. A shipment of doors arrives. The elevator crew sets off the fire alarm after sparks fly from grinding metal not far from a smoke detector. Firemen arrive in full regalia, and the Fire Marshall and I have a heart-to-heart. Lesson learned.
October 2 - 4 | Spacklers put down the finishing touches on Monday and spend all of Tuesday sanding the walls and ceilings. The barrel vault in the vestibule is sheer perfection. I meet with Dave to discuss the window and door trim -- and email him a sample of farmhouse/craftsman style detailing. Wednesday morning, he and I finalize the trim and he brings a prototype to show me later in the day. The clean-up crew arrive to vacuum up all the particulate, which has settled everywhere. The elevator crew -- Russell and Walter -- fit metal frames around each of the elevator door openings.
September 29 | Coat three of three of spackle is applied. Sanding will commence on Monday. Landscapers recover the plantings we've "stored" in an island under the trees on the south lawn and set some in the ground out front. We will supplement with new shrubs and unusual perennials, in what the landscaper describes as a "country" look. The elevator crew winds up week four of their eight-week job. Our amended construction grant was approved by the state so we get to keep the funds we've already received -- it was touch-and-go there for a while, but ultimately the bureaucracy found in our favor.
September 28 | Ed Cook's crew return to install metal plates over the concrete pads at the base of the elevator doors. Russell, of D+D Elevators, explains what happened with the coupling -- it was clogged with grit and they are waiting for a replacement -- but work continues and, in fact, is going very well. Later, I am told it is the piston that was the problem -- a very expensive part.
September 25 - 27 | The elevator supervisor arrives on Tuesday and discovers a problem with a coupling. The crew toil far into the night to rectify the glitch, but no solution is forthcoming. Meanwhile, spacklers on stilts continue to traverse the area. I inadvertently muck up the spackle by grabbing the corner of a wall -- boy, does that stuff take a long time to dry! The contractor is moving into an old house of his own and is MIA for a few days. Masons pour concrete pads at the base of the elevator doors on all floors.
September 22 | Spacklers arrive carting heavy buckets of spackle. They wear stilts and spring about the floor. One shoves our phone box (which was hanging by a tether) into the rack and knocks out the system. Just another day in Paradise. Masons lay bricks for the bike pad, which will match the look of the front walkway. The A/C craps out -- a giant block of ice is forming inside one of the ducts, the result of sheetrock dust which also clogs the filter. The system is overloaded. They tell us that we cannot use the air conditioning until the following day, then report back later that the ice has melted, new filters have been installed, faulty wiring re-wired, and the A/C is back in action. This day has certainly taken a turn for the better.
September 21 | A large crew sweeps in at 7:15am to clean up the job site and rid it of all sheetrock debris. Sheetrock dust is insidious -- it settles everywhere and leaves white footprints on the carpet in the functional side of the library. Elevator installers continue to move up the shaft, fastening tracks and installing a platform. It's mind-boggling work, but they have assured me that the silo is perfectly plumb -- a testament to our superb masons, Ed Cook's crew. Larry from Iron Age Construction visits to show me a sample book of railing designs for the front entrance. Technically, we don't need them, but I think it helps people to have an added sense of security when navigating the incline. I settle on a simple black powder-coated iron rail with four posts. Larry promises to get me a price by Monday.
September 19 - 20 | Sheetrockers return, elevators installers finally removed the girder that was blocking most of the Quiet Study Annex passage, and electricians install an EXIT sign and fire alarm panel.On Wednesday, electricians continue the painstaking work of identifying every cable run, while masons frame out and pour concrete for a bike rack pad out front. By the end of the day, all of the sheetrock will be installed -- a milestone of sorts.
September 18 | Sheetrockers take a day off to allow the electricians to hang additional lights so that the gallery wall gets a full wash. Gutters and downspouts were mysteriously installed one evening last week, and they really complete the front entrance. Electricians return to resolve lighting, which was not installed to wash the gallery wall. I draw a floorplan for the room in marker on the concrete floor to help Bob Lutz of Valentine Electric understand what he is lighting.
September 11 - 14 | The elevator installers have commandeered our Community Room with tools and oversized parts. The elevator is actually built inside the shaft, and the whine of the drill is eerily reminiscent of the dentist's office (oh joy). Sheetrockers arrived on the 12th and have almost completed the second floor. Everything seems smaller, but brighter. The automatic door serviceman arrived to assure us that once the power box was electrified, a mere push would activate the automated feature. The new target completion date is end of October, latest Thanksgiving.
September 5 - 7 | At long last, after the long Labor Day weekend, the elevator installers arrive -- five guys in bright blue T-shirts from D + D Elevator. They commandeer the Community Room for their equipment and supplies. It's going to be a long eight weeks! The siding crew continues to install Hardiplank and trim. Architect, Michael Esmay, visits on Thursday to catch up.
August 27 - 29 | Electricians returned on Wednesday and Thursday to tie up loose ends after inspection. Siding is completed below the gable end of the second story office suite. Sheetrock was delivered on Friday. The crew had to take out the windows above the entrance so a crane could bring the 16-foot panels to the second floor. Two 4 x 16 ft panels weigh 280 lbs.
August 25 - 26 | On Monday, fiberglass insulation was padded into all walls and ceilings and cellulose insulation was blown into the ceiling above the Quiet Study Annex. Carmine of Total Plumbing, Dave and I discussed ordering fixtures. Our pineapple-themed house number arrives from the Chatham Sign Shop in Massachusetts. Pineapples were a sign of welcome in colonial times.
August 23 | The long-awaited elevator is scheduled to begin installation on Tuesday, August 29th (6 months and counting). Insulation is scheduled for this Friday with sheetrocking to begin the following Monday. Today we are testing the formidable copper pendant fixture that had been hanging in the Children's Room as a possible front entry statement!
August 22 | As of Monday, August 21st, electricians have left the building! Siders have moved to the north face, which has finally been stripped bare of all loose and errant cables. The new stairs were installed early on Saturday, August 19th. Railings will come after sheetrocking.
August 17 | Light Tower arrives promptly at 9am to remove their equipment from a unsightly wall-mounted panel and place it in our new rack. The ethernet cable which required five field visits to cut, rerun, "term" and remove is finally out from under the portico, where it will no longer interfere with siding the north face of the building. The stairs arrive a day early, and Dave's crew is here to receive and store them. I meet with Carmine to finalize plumbing fixtures. John from Reddi-Alarm pops in to confirm the location of the security alarm panel. Design Air continues to install air conditioning ductwork and troubleshoot the finicky AC unit in the Behringer Room. All this before high noon. I never knew there were so many models and styles of wall-mounted restroom hand dryers.
August 14 - 16 | On Monday, electricians hustle to place conduit to the automatic door opening fixtures when the technician shows up to install them above the front and inside vestibule doors. Blue and white handicapped push plates are also located. Framers cut a hole in the east facing gable and place a stained glass window panel there that came from an estate sale in Texas. On Tuesday, Jorge and Tino cut and install an old support timber on the second floor to replace the one that we had hoped to splice with a lower half. They will add back the angled supports and wooden pegs (tenons) to restore to re-create authenticity. The roofing crew continues to side the elevator tower and other portions of the facade -- it is slow and painstaking labor, since siding is not their primary skill-set. We move the book drop chute three times to keep if away from the edge of the portico's brick floor. A white Azek border now frames the front door. We are meeting today to nail down details about the front gable treatment. Edwin the electrician shows me a two-inch recessed light for the vestibule and I approve.
August 7 - 10 | Air conditioning technicians get their ducts in a row, while framers build a barrel vault in the vestibule. I find books in the new bin even though it's not ready for prime time. Good thing I looked!
August 4 | Siders continue facing the southwest part of the building, while a framer cuts a slot for the bookdrop chute just to the left of the front door. Our new bookdrop will be positioned inside the building -- no more freestanding outside return.
August 2 - 3 | Electricians arrive early to continue running conduit. A siding crew gets rained out and continues on Thursday with the exterior base of the Quiet Study Annex. The interior front entry door is mounted. I meet with Cindy of Blauvelt Wallcoverings to finalize window treatments for the Quiet Study area.
July 29 - August 1 | On Saturday, Steve from Swift Acoustics Ceiling, finished installing the metal grid for the ceiling sheetrock. Electricians returned on Monday to run more conduit. Three antique brass pendant lights arrived for the circulation desk. On Tuesday, the framing crew returns for some miscellaneous chores in anticipation of the siding crew, which are expected the following day.
July 26 - 27 | Electricians continue running conduit on the second floor. The ceiling is framed out for the main floor vestibule, staff room, and restroom in preparation for sheetrocking. Because of the ceiling expanse, a metal grid is installed by a subcontractor who specializes in large spans. He plans to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) and requires that the rooms are completely cleared of all construction debris to accommodate his rolling scaffold.
July 18 - 20 | More electrical conduit was run in the new office suite. Dave and the boys came to install the front door. They installed the inside door where the exterior door is supposed to be. No harm, though, since they have to remove it anyway. Tomorrow, the Building Inspector, Automatic Door Opener Rep, and Lightower Cable Guy are all due in the morning.
July 15 - 17 | On Saturday, the masonry crew arrived to install herringbone pattern bricks for the walkway leading to the front portico. Around 2:30pm, they ran out of bricks and packed up shop. I weeded the front yard while they labored, so I could snap photos of the work in progress. Early Monday morning, the cherry doors arrived for the front entrance. Three of the framers were pulled off another job to accept delivery and bring the doors into the building where they await installation.
July 12 - 14 | On Wednesday, I visited Fergusson's plumbing showroom in Northvale to look at faucet fixtures and sinks. Thursday, electricians spray paint white crosses on the floor to indicate where lights will be installed overhead to help the framing crew with sheetrocking. A quiet, rainy Friday the 14th. The front entrance doors were set to arrive earlier than expected, but due to the weather, the contractor decided to delay their delivery. On Saturday, the masons arrive to brick the ramp to the front entrance.
July 7 - 11 | On Friday, a floor crew installs reclaimed pine floorboards in my new office that were salvaged from Barry's old office. None of the boards are the same width and thicknesses also vary, which creates a painstaking day of flooring at a rate of one board per hour! The crew will return to finish the floor after sheetrock and spackling are completed. On Saturday, the masonry crew pours the ramp at the front entrance. Meanwhile, roofers continue to install copper sheathing on the elevator roof -- a tedious and perilous undertaking (it's slippery and hot). I've been told the front entrance doors are due to arrive in two weeks. On July 10th, Brian from Blooming Grove Stair, the contractor and I finalize the look of newel posts and railings for the stairs leading to the children's floor. Architect, Mike Esmay, pops in for a visit, and all pending questions are answered. Later in the day, the backhoe crew trims out that part of the driveway that abuts the cobblestones and lays in hot asphalt, which they roll and tamp into place. Next up: Choosing sinks and toilets.
July 3 - 6 | Electricians continue to reconnect A/C units -- we finally restore air conditioning to the main floor. Another crew frames out the new StoryCraft Annex and all manner of construction debris and errant furniture is removed from all work areas in preparation for framing. On Thursday, July 6th, John from Floormaster and I plan out how we will repurpose the salvaged wide pine floorboards for my office. The masonry crew creates an armature for cobblestones that they set along the edge of the driveway. There is talk of starting the walkway on Saturday.
June 29 - July 1 | I visit another of the contractor's jobsites on 9W in Piermont to look at newel posts and stair rails. On Saturday, a crew frames out the demolished office space that will become the children's StoryCraft Cottage.
June 27 - 28 | Two electricians spend an entire day connecting the A/C units, both in the new office space on the second floor and outside at the Western Highway end of the Quiet Study Porch. There is the promise of having A/C in the Behringer Room and the first floor but not until late Friday, a 90-degree day.
June 26 | Plumbers disconnect the old sinks and use a blowtorch to cut and remove a rather large copper conduit that fed water to the toilets.
June 24 | Demolition of the future StoryCraft Room continues. The crew also frames out the A/C units and ductwork in the storage area, leaving access compartments for servicing the air conditioning units.
June 19 - 21 | Demolition continues behind the temporary wall. The walls to the restroom and closet come down and reveal a floor which sags more than two inches in the middle.
June 18 | The wall on Saturday never got built, but Barry and I cleared out my office, working well into the wee hours of Saturday morning (nothing like the proverbial gun to the head). Instead, the renovation crew fashioned a temporary enclosure that will allow access to the main level toilet, once the restroom on the second floor is demolished.
June 16 -17 | More data runs are installed and the A/C crew finishes up running ductwork for the second floor unit. The contractor tells us that he is coming for my office on Saturday. They will be building a wall 12 inches out from the existing wall to seal off the construction zone, which will encompass my office and the adjacent restroom and storage closet.
June 14 | I meet with Robin of Foley Signs to preview dimensional lettering that will arc over the main entrance and spell out: "Blauvelt Free Library." The phone installer scampers across the roof to rerun all the scattered cables draped across the eaves in an effort to make order from chaos.
June 12 | Roofers install the last of three skylights under a blazing sun. Air conditioning techs labor in the heat as they continue to install ductwork in the new office suite. I meet with the two contractors, the architect and lighting planner to hash out expensive upgrades required for a beefed-up electrical system. We approve a new design for the handicapped pathway and steps to the front portico.
June 8 - 9 | Roofers continue with the section over the front entrance, while framers continue to trim out the distinctive architectural details that make up the front entry portico.
June 5 - 7 | Several days of rain with no signs of life. On June 6th, the masonry crew cut back a sandstone wall in the basement to make room for the staircase to the Community Room. On Wednesday, framers set to work framing out the roof over the front porch, while air conditioning ductwork is laid in the new office suite.
June 4 | On Saturday, a framing crew arrived midday to install the "spring eave" frontispiece over the entry. The spring eave is an early Dutch roof design characterized by gently flared end points. They expect to continue framing the rest of the porch roof on Tuesday.
May 31 - June 1 | Electricians and plumbers continue to install pipes and conduit while the framed walls are open before the sheetrock goes up. Bids for an upgraded phone system are received.
May 31 - June 1 | Electricians and plumbers continue to install pipes and conduit while the framed walls are open before the sheetrock goes up. Bids for an upgraded phone system are received.
May 27 - 28 | Framers work to fashion an iconic architectural detail over the front entry -- a gabled roof element that flares slightly at the base -- what is known as a "spring eave," a defining characteristic of Dutch buildings in colonial times. This piece requires highly skilled craftsmen who form the shape out of plywood six times, meld the layers together, then use a router to smooth the edges. After the holiday, they will continue to trim the surface and edges using AZEK board and affix it with aluminum staples -- a painstaking labor. AZEK is a PVC product with a wood-like appearance that is impervious to water and insect damage.
May 25 - 26 | The A/C ductwork is not installed as the plans indicate, but rather sprawls to the left and right of the unit taking up a considerable portion of the space we had designated for storage. The installer claims that what is indicated on the plans does not work in the space, so what follows is several minutes of negotiation with the architect and contractor until a reasonable compromise is reached. Dave Sirois will build us an enclosure around the ductwork over which storage shelves can be mounted, and we'll eliminate one of the doors into the storage area, which adds extra space on either side of the wall. No harm, no foul. On Friday, Ed Cook's crew arrived to remove a bush where Orange and Rockland installed a rather comprehensive set of gas pipes on our west wall. In one day, I have five meetings with two phone system reps, a sculptor, lighting designer and A/C technician.
May 20 - 24 | On Tuesday, Ecuadorean roofers spend all day peeling off the old shingles and laying down tar paper. I spend 20 minutes with Edward Corey picking out the right shingle color, which involves sending his crew up on the high roof to hold up samples, where they cavort atop the roof like mountain goats. On Wednesday, I meet with a phone system installer, because our phones have reached the end of their life and the best time to lay cable is before the sheetrock goes up. Meanwhile, air conditioning ductwork is installed for the new office suite.
May 18 - 19 | Masons labor to create a pattern of paving bricks at the front entrance. Other crew members frame out the wall that bracket the stairwell leading from the lobby to the Community Room. The electrical consultant met with lighting company reps, the contractor and myself to walk the site and finalize a lighting plan. On Friday, masons continued with the brickwork and also tore out the three small windows in the Community Room to make it more movie friendly. And on Saturday, Hector and Leo completed the brickwork for the base of the front entry portico. It is so lovely, I could just cry.
May 15 - 17 | On Monday, a concrete slab was poured for the portico and the slab inside the front entry. Air conditioning technicians labored to reinstall the unit that services the children's floor in advance of the coming heat wave. Wednesday, and the AC has power but does not cool with back-to-back Toddler Time sessions on the children's floor. Back to the drawing board. Framers carve out a new space for an alcove addition in the office suite that will be ideal for small meetings -- Book Club, Scout Leaders, Friends Group. Meanwhile, dirt is being trucked and tamped down to fill back the south lawn.
May 8 - 9 | Jorge asks me if the library is haunted. When I assure him that it isn't (I've been here every hour of the day and night without incident), he tells me he's seen a ghost. The floor to the basement is opened up and Jorge claims to have seen a person walking toward him. When the figure headed for the Community Room (access to which is blocked), Jorge ran to the opening to have a look, and no one was there. I tell him, maybe it was an electrician or plumber -- they're sometimes in the basement without us knowing, but Jorge swears he was the only tradesman on the jobsite. It has been my experience that poltergeists are often provoked by home renovation -- I guess they don't like to see their family home disturbed -- and this is the mother of all renovations. I have friends who tell me that their ghosts often hurl tools across the room.
May 3 - 4 | Excavation of walls continues on the second floor. The basement ceiling is opened up from the main floor to prepare for the stairwell leading to the Community Room. Meanwhile, a temporary staircase is installed leading up to the new second floor, so we will gain a secondary means of egress. The workers' faces shown the strain of this backbreaking work. The contractor, architect and I meet to review progress in the new second floor wing and tweak some of the details to accommodate our ever-evolving vision.
May 1 - 2 | Jorge, Tino and Jordan tore up carpeting and wrestled with plywood sheets that were glued fast to the floor in the second floor children's room entry. When the dust had settled, their Herculean effort revealed the original wide plank pine floorboards. Be still my heart. They also opened up the walls where the elevator empties into a second floor lobby and flows into the children's room.
April 26 - 29 | Framers installed cottage-style windows in the new office suite and on the first floor for the circulation desk and new staff restroom, while masons broke up the cement slab in the entryway and filled in gaps in the floor. On Saturday, a two-man crew installed a temporary wall to seal off a portion of the Children's Room adjacent to the new second floor space, so they could open up the plaster walls and break through the lath. Architect, Michael Esmay, and I examined the site and brainstormed about keeping the exposed timbers instead of creating the archways as originally planned. Our proposed scheme would highlight the original structure and preserve the charming details that only an extensive demolition would reveal.
April 24 - 25 | In a feat of engineering, framers worked to level the very uneven lobby floor, which left the main floor restroom two inches higher than the surrounding area (problem-solving for that issue currently in progress). Rotted timbers were removed and replaced. Masons shored up the floor by adding piers in the basement and replaced a missing portion of the foundation. On Tuesday, they added new old brick to the fireplace chimney above the level of the old ceiling. Contractor, Dave Sirois, surprised me by installing an historic reclaimed piece of timber over the vestibule entrance. Made my day!
April 18 - 21 | Masons poured a concrete platform for the generator which is as big as a schoolbus and capable of powering the entire facility in the event of a power outage. We intend that the library serve as a safe house for families disadvantaged by a blackout. Meanwhile, roofers continued to paper the new roof joining the elevator to the existing building. The lobby floorboards were torn up to reveal the original support beams in the oldest part of the building. The initials "HC" were boldly etched in large black letters on one of the girders, and I got excited thinking about the craftsman who had so proudly initialed his handiwork, until one of the workers informed me that "H" and "C" were there to identify the hot and cold water lines. On Thursday, the crew framed out connecting walls between the elevator and second floor. Another team spent the last two days installing a door wall closing off the Quiet Study Annex from the elevator lobby and are continuing down that hall laying new joists for the floor above. Access to the Mary Behringer Room has been cut off from the inside, and patrons hoping to use the public computers must exit the library and re-enter through the Community Room. Our staff refrigerator is back there, which makes for some grumpy employees.
April 15 -17 | The roof was papered on the Saturday before Easter, so the green tarp is a thing of the past. On Monday, two crews are hard at work -- one pulling off the roof and walls to bump out the front desk and staff room, and the other prepping the cement block elevator tower by overlaying the corners with wood lath so it can be sided with HardiePlank. One of the framers was blown off his ladder when he tilted the sheet of plywood just as a gust of wind rose up, throwing him 16 feet to the ground. Luckily he landed on his feet, the panel of wood breaking his fall. Another minor miracle.
April 10 - 12 | 70-degree weather for the next few days helps move the framing along. The ridgepole and rafters over the second floor office suite are installed and the front of the building is taking on a whole new look. Plywood is laid for the roof and walls. The view from within begins to suggest the layout of the office and storage areas.
April 5 - 7 | The beautiful ceramic tiles it took me ten dealers to locate in 2012 were torn up yesterday in a crush of clinking porcelain and dust. Old floorboards were revealed as much the worse for wear with round holes and one ragged gap that marked where a sink and toilet had once sat in front of the present-day circulation desk when the fireplace wall marked the east end of the house. The temporary door around the main floor restroom was removed, and I am told that the roof will come off on Saturday so the crew can frame out the new office suite and storage area over the main entrance. One of the workers (Jorge) handed me a scrap of thick paper with the name "Johan Raab" written in blue pencil and the name "Hutton Brothers" printed in black ink. Johannes "John" Raab bought the house in 1864 and assumed ownership of the general store, continuing as proprietor until 1882. He was the father of Hypolit J. Raab who was the father of Catherine Raab, the last of the family to live in the homestead. She vacated the premises on Halloween day in 1958. The Hutton Brothers ran a lumber yard in Nanuet at the end of Main Street. According to a newspaper clipping found online, they sold 16 foot long pine, spruce and hemlock boards in either 4 inch or 8 inch widths. Their names were (I am not making this up) Chester, Lester and Sylvester.
April 3 - 4 | I'm sure progress is being made, judging by the incessant whine of the saw and the pounding of the nails. Steel support posts were delivered and await installation. Masons are building a framework around the top of what remains of our chimney, so they can patch it with concrete and then lay in new old bricks up to the elevated ceiling line. Our landscaper was able to prep the Japanese Maple for its move to the front yard, owing to the fact that a 60 kw generator will take its place on the south lawn. Generator and living greenery are not a good combination, as generator exhaust contains deadly carbon monoxide.
March 29 - 31 | Some of the heavy-duty joists were laid for the second floor. On Friday, we anticipate a delivery of upright steel columns to support our new overhead girders.
March 27 | Raining and framing are the order of the day!
March 25 | Our renovation crew has uncovered original wide plank flooring above the lobby. They have been instructed to painstakingly remove the boards for reuse (purpose to be determined). They are covered in a layer of filth, so it is left to the imagination to envision what these tongue and groove pine planks will look like once they are restored. Framers are scheduled to arrive on Monday.
March 20 - 24 | On the first day of Spring, our external chimney is demolished as we make way for a new office suite and storage area above the front entry. Demolition continues on Tuesday with the promise that this is the last day of destruction for this phase. Framing is the next order of business, but will depend on the weather as the roof will be exposed.
March 15 - 17 | Demolition crews arrive early to tear out the circulation desk and ceiling panels in the fiction area and staff room. Two large holes are drilled into the floor where footings will be poured for the steel uprights that will support a ceiling girder. The Reference desk is covered by a platform to prevent the structure from flying debris once the ceiling is removed. The cabinetmaker arrives to remove the custom cabinetry over the Ref desk. Barry's office is demolished. A square opening cut into the east wall provides a view of the floor below. Specifications for the elevator are finally decided -- cabin style, lighting, laminate and door color.
March 14 | It seems to be snowing a bit. Barry and I seize the opportunity to evacuate his office of its last load of goods and cart them up to the attic. Backbreaking work!
March 11 - 13 | Controlled mayhem ensues. On Thursday, we received a delivery of 121 bins from our library system and set about emptying bookshelves, working long into the night. Optimum arrived to activate our newly placed lines, and on Friday, March 10th, two technicians from RCLS relocated our computers and peripheral equipment. Large sections of the collection were moved and shifted until we had managed to cram everything into four small rooms. On the 11th and 13th, a "deck" was built outside our east-facing window in the fiction room so that framers could open up a "door" in the wall through which they could bring building materials. When ceiling panels were removed, an empty beehive fell from the rafters (that would explain all the dead yellow jackets in the light fixtures). A temporary wall was erected to seal off the Mary Behringer Room's main entrance, which means we all must trek out onto the unheated Quiet Study Porch in order to reach it. We are without power around 10am while Orange and Rockland work with Valentine Electric to switch us over to our new upgraded electrical system.
March 6 - 8 | So much is happening, it's hard to keep up. Plumbers laid pipe under the new front entry for the new kitchen area in the staff room. On March 6th, masons prepared the inside of the elevator shaft for guide rails to be installed. On February 7th and 8th, the area around the foundation was packed with dirt and tamped down. Meanwhile, electricians labored to install Cat 6 lines to accommodate the relocation of our system hardware and also installed new phone lines. The place is in total disarray.
March 1 + 2 | The masonry crew put up the concrete block foundation for the front porch and handicapped walkway. The principal trades meet to formulate phasing from here on in. We have until the end of the week to remove everything from our fiction and staff rooms and lobby. Yikes!
February 27 + 28 | Masons and the backhoe crew arrived early to dig out our front entryway, removing the old walkway and railing. We prepped the Red Door entrance with rubber matting and a new deadbolt lock. Many visitors waxed nostalgic, remarking that they used that door when they were kids. On Tuesday, masons poured concrete footings for the porch. We're not in Kansas anymore!!
February 14 - 23 | Warmer than usual weather is fast eroding our snow mountain. Plans for footings to be laid for the front entrance bump-out are now scheduled for Monday, February 27th. A storage container was ordered so we could load up furniture, equipment, and our worldly possessions while our quarters are torn asunder. Three Adirondack-themed sconces arrived for the stairwell leading from the lobby to the Community Room. Please note that once work on the entrance begins, we will be using the Red Door to enter the building.
February 15 | An elevator company representative came to re-inspect the elevator shaft. Very quiet on all other fronts. Pendant lights have been ordered for the Quiet Study Annex. Task lights for the wall-length counter in that room arrived today -- and they're awesome!
February 9 - 13 | Snow played havoc with our renovation schedule. Electricians labored to dig snow out of trenches filled with conduit. On Monday, February 13th, masons arrived to pour footing for the front entry extension, then wisely postponed their plans when faced with an icy driveway and mounds of snow. A county agent came to inspect the electrical system. That same afternoon, electricians connected the main transfer panel to the secondary panels.
February 6 - 7 | Workers planned for the laying of a new gas line and parked a backhoe named "Josie" on our front lawn. Bushes will be removed alongside the west wall of the building to accommodate the construction. New plantings and a path will follow when all is completed. The contractor tells me that soon enough we'll be moving our entire operation into the west wing of the building with the red door acting as our main entrance for the duration of the construction.
February 1 - 2 | New electricals are being tested and brought online, which means we are without power for periods of time. On February 2nd, deep troughs were dug at the street side of the property for the upgraded electrical system, which runs underground. The location of the 60 kw generator is a hotly debated topic. The "yard" is in a total state of disruption.
January 31 | A roofing crew showed up during the snowstorm and wisely decided not to climb up the snow-covered elevator tower to install a protective layer or "building envelope," which will help reduce energy dissipation, condensation damage, wood rot and mold.
January 27 - 30 | A representative from the elevator manufacturer came to measure and approve the shaft. Everything was in order except for the sump pump compartment which has to be moved to the other side of the cabin. The elevator was roofed with plywood sheets on Saturday, January 28th and Monday, January 29th.
January 25 - 26 | At 4pm Wednesday, the masonry crew proudly announced that the tower is finished. I let out a whoop and marvel at the size of the thing. Conduit for the fire alarm system continues to be installed with fire panels and pull-down boxes popping up all over the building. The rough elevator door opening outside the Community Room is being refined.
January 21 - 24 | On Saturday, workers strung a tarp across the top of the elevator shaft in preparation for the coming nor'easter. Electricians wired the Quiet Study Annex for smoke detectors and ceiling pendants. In the basement, the masonry crew cut a door for the elevator into the west-facing wall of the vestibule outside the Community Room and poured concrete slabs in the elevator maintenance room and as a base for the new staircase leading up to the main level. Jackhammering through concrete block is every bit as loud and bone rattling as you might imagine. On Tuesday morning, electricians ran conduit into the elevator shaft.
January 19 | At 7:30 in the morning, electricians are swarming all over the building to figure out how to snake conduit through our unforgiving stone walls. There is a lot of head scratching and cell phone calls. By midday, a path for fire alarm and electricals has been created inside the casings covering the ceiling beams. Meanwhile, the tower workers continue to raise the elevator shaft, which is about 5 feet short of its full height. Water which had collected in the base of the shaft was pumped out.
January 16 - 17 | Rain forces the tower builders to cease with 15 more feet left to construct. Cut-outs in the tower for the two elevator doors bring rain and cold air into the building. A steady stream of water pours into the shaft from a wayward downspout. Electricians are about to wire the porch for the work counter when the architect arrives, and we rethink the position of the outlets -- no use forcing patrons to their knees as they crawl under the tabletop to plug in their laptops. Constant decisions to be made.
January 11 - 13 | The concrete block elevator shaft rises anew. On Friday, framers cut through the roofline of the Behringer Room and porch so that masons could snug the shaft up against the building. Meanwhile, masons labored below grade to shore up the natural sandstone wall in the elevator's maintenance room.
January 4 - 5 | Seven concrete steps were framed and poured at the base of the basement staircase leading down to the soon-to-be elevator lobby. On Thursday, the masonry crew cut through the concrete block wall to create a door into the elevator's maintenance room (located under the Quiet Study Annex). Blocks will also be delivered for continuing construction of the elevator shaft, scheduled for Monday, January 9th. Oh, and the flowering cherry tree from the front lawn has finally found a new home nestled beneath the towering pine out back.
December 28 - January 3 | A concrete wall is being constructed in the basement, which will serve as the foundation wall for the new staircase. Seven concrete steps will be set at the base of the staircase with wooden steps continuing to the lobby. The masonry crew punched a hole in the west-facing cellar wall where a smaller than standard size door will provide access to the rest of the basement.
December 27 - 30 | A weather-beaten merry-go-round horse has been installed in the lobby to enhance the temporary support posts (we're going with a western theme). Upper and lower windows have been installed in the Quiet Study Annex. Masonry crew proceeding with demolition of original sandstone brick wall in basement and widening of space to accommodate a new staircase. Jackhammers have been blazing, and if you've visited or called, the noise is deafening. Footings for walls for staircase are being poured today (Friday). There are plans to recommence with the building of the elevator shaft on Monday, January 2nd. Happy New year one and all!
December 26 | Framers installed temporary 6 x 6-inch columns in the lobby to provide additional support, which necessitated the removal of the display table and the relocation of other furniture to make room for new windows (tentatively arriving Tuesday). Once the windows arrive, they will be installed in the framed out Quiet Study Annex -- or as we like to call it, "The Chamber of Supreme Quietude."
December 21 - 23 | On Wednesday, footings were poured to support new concrete block walls being laid in the basement to shore up the floor above, in preparation for the original sandstone block wall (circa 1752) to be removed. As the contractor was showing me his crew's handiwork, I backed into the wet cement and left behind two footprints. A dumpster was delivered midday Thursday, and the new opening at the foot of the stairs facilitated the removal of mounds of accumulated metal shelving and other detritus from the basement. Architect, Michael Esmay, visited and made some adjustments to the depth of the cement block wall. On Friday, framers arrived to remove the existing cellar stairs and shore up the main floor from below with temporary supports.
December 19 - 20 | On Monday, workers sealed off access to the lower floor lobby where they exposed the cement block wall and broke through the north wall at the foot of the stairs outside the Community Room. They "tunneled" in about 12 feet to carve out space for the new staircase that will descend from the main floor (where the stairs currently go up to the Children's Floor). The crew is breaking apart the red sandstone bedrock with a jackhammer and need to penetrate a total of 27 feet to accommodate the new stairs.
December 14 - 16 | On Wednesday, as dusk closed in, the "rat slab" was poured for the Quiet Study Annex. The rat slab is so-named because its sole purpose is to keep vermin at bay. By week's end, the QSA received floor joists, floorboards and uprights framing the wall of windows. It was good to see real wood at last after so much mud and mortar.
December 12 - 13 | A day of cold rain forced a delay in the construction of the Quiet Study Annex slab, which is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday once the concrete is delivered. Everybody has a schedule.
December 7 - 9 | The foundation blocks were completed for the footings. Still to come is the slab base for the Quiet Study Annex. Framing for the QSA may begin the week of December 12th.
December 5 - 6 | Concrete was poured into the mold framed out for the footings for the Quiet Study Annex (the former porch footprint). A delivery of concrete blocks and mortar powder arrived in preparation for resumption of the elevator shaft construction, slated for Wednesday, December 7th.
December 1 | Backhoe crew are backfilling the space around the elevator shaft with dirt and debris from the surrounding area. They also laid down gravel and cut a drainage pipe to bury inside the enclosure. In the afternoon, additional fill was trucked to the site.
November 26 - 29 | On Saturday, the base of the elevator shaft was waterproofed with tar. A crew arrived Monday to build a floor-to-ceiling enclosure at the entrance to the Mary Behringer Room. The structure will isolate the construction site where the elevator opens into the building. In late afternoon, workers broke through the outside wall and continue to enlarge the opening despite the drizzle.
November 16 - 23 | A rebar grid was laid within a wooden frame into which concrete was poured to form a slab. Early the week of November 20th, shaft building commenced in earnest with a full work crew. About 12 feet of a 34-foot concrete block elevator shaft enclosure was constructed, reaching just a few feet below the windows on the main floor. Next to the shaft is another enclosed space, which will serve as the elevator's machine room. Late Wednesday, the outer wall of the shaft was covered with a veneer of concrete -- a technique called "parging."
November 14/15 | The concrete footing from the base of the 1998 addition was cut from the foundation wall using both a drill and circular saw, filling the air with a fine particulate that enveloped workers in "smoke." Concrete blocks were delivered to the shaft hole by sliding them down a wooden plank. Tuesday's rain filled the hole and submerged the concrete slab. Construction should resume on Wednesday with the laying of blocks for the elevator tower.
November 10 | The cement truck is arriving at 10am to pour the slab for the base of the elevator and the adjacent equipment room. The elevator carriage will be ordered (plans take a month to complete) and footings will be prepared for the base of the Quiet Study Annex (aka porch). On Friday, concrete blocks will arrive in preparation for the construction of a 34-foot shaft to commence on Monday, November 14th.
October 31 - Nov 7 | We're back in business! Back hoe activity resumed Wednesday, November 2nd with the pumping of water from the hole -- or should I say "moat." Once the slab for the elevator foundation is poured, the concrete ledge which was part of the foundation for the 1998 addition (aka "Mary Behringer Room") will be sheared off to create a flush surface for the tower. If you don't believe me, come see for yourself!
October 19 | Insurance matters are still being sorted out. Pity, since conditions are great for outdoor work.
October 3 | The depth of the hole for our elevator shaft has reached 20 feet, but work has temporarily stopped while we resolve some insurance issues. The trencher left for parts unknown this morning. All quiet on the Western Highway front.
September 29 | If you're a fan of really deep holes, come visit our worksite. You'll have to peer out the window or watch from the street. The crew is breaking up the sandstone bed with a trencher. They're down about 12 feet and need to dig out another 4 feet for the elevator shaft.
September 22 | J.D. Backhoe removed bushes along Western Highway and laid down gravel for construction equipment to gain access to our south lawn in preparation for the dismantling of our existing porch for remodeling beginning Monday, September 26th. We are officially in Renovation Mode!
September 9 | Our renovation budget has been approved and a contractor chosen to spearhead a year-long project beginning in early October of this year. We will post ongoing updates to our website's home page and Facebook. The library plans to remain open for the duration of the renovation. We hope you will enjoy the adventure with us, as we address longstanding issues of accessibility and comfort without sacrificing any of the library's unique charm.
All entries by Laura Grunwerg