Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving. Thanksgoogle.

Last post we wrote about karma and how a long lost connection to our home got reconnected. This morning we got to meet that connection and it was something very special. Chris, the great grandson of Mr. Tombleson accepted our invitation for breakfast (huevos rancheros, of course) and returned to the hill he grew up on. Although Chris is a fireman stationed about 20 minutes from Steinback Mountain, it was the first time he'd been back to his great grandparents' house since 1988. Back then it was for a holiday meal with the home's third (and first non-Tombleson) owner and his boss, Fire Marshall Dave Shaw.

Chris found our blog last Sunday afternoon after doing a Google search for his great grandfather. His girlfriend had spent the last few years tracking down her relatives in Michigan and Alaska and she encouraged him to try to do the same. His Google search led him to us, we exchanged a few emails where he answered some of the questions we'd had since moving in almost five years ago, and then he contacted his great aunt in Idaho in hopes of getting some more answers. Chris had not communicated with his great aunt Roberta in over 20 years and this week they had a three hour phone conversation, mostly about the Tomblesons and the area south of Salinas where they built their dream home. Roberta is the youngest and only surviving child of George and Rae Tombleson. We are very thankful Chris made that phone call. Roberta is now mailing Chris copies of every photo she has relating to our home. And, to our surprise, she will also be sending copies of a magazine featuring our home shortly after it was built. Chris can't wait to share the copies with us. Guess who else can't wait?

Seeing his great grandparents' house again was very emotional for Chris. And for us. We started with a tour of the guest house, then the BBQ room, and then the main house. Every few steps he would stop and see something and a memory would become a story and that story would lead us to more questions which would lead Chris to even more stories. Three hours, hundreds of stories. And it was awesome.

Chris grew up down the hill where he lived with his mother. He told us the Tomblesons originally owned dozens of acres up and down the hill and, over the years, his great grandfather built a number of houses for many of his relatives on the property. One of his uncles still lives one street over from us. Chris said it was a great place to grow up as a kid where he spent most of his time playing outside building forts and building dams in the nearby creek. Fondly, he remembered that whenever he got hungry there was always an aunt or grandmother nearby eager to hand out treats but the best was always his great grandmother Rae who would cook for him anything he wanted. According to Chris, her scones were the best ever.

Chris pointing out where the small deck and very large flag pole used to be. Mr. Tombleson was very patriotic and raised the American flag every day. And Chris said the flag was so large you could see it from miles away. Pictured below, Rachel and George Tombleson.

We definitely have a new friend in Chris and are grateful to be part of his reconnection with his family and the home George Tombleson designed and built.

Back to the renovation. Wednesday, the tile guys stayed until 6pm finishing the grouting of the guest house shower and the flooring in the BBQ room. They also found time to install the backsplash and wainscoting in the 1/2 bath.

All in all, a very good week on Steinback Mountain. And the rainbows keep coming….

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Good blogging karma

Sunday turned out to be quite the good blogging karma day. Found a new renovation blog of an incredibly cool MCM house with great stories about connecting with previous owners and how the new homeowners were able to solve many of the mysteries that kept popping up.

What caught our attention, however, was a picture of a built-in grill in the very MCM kitchen,, that seemed like a potential retrofit for our BBQ room. We contacted the blogger and very quickly received an email response with more great pictures of the grill. Turns out the manufacturer is still in business but, unfortunately, they now only make stoves and fireplaces. But the blogger's husband says the grills can still be found on eBay. Oh boy, something else to lure us back into eBay….

But the karma continued. Sunday evening our iPhones told us we had a new comment on the blog. And it was quite the comment: "I was very happy to see your blog. I am George's great grandson. I have many great memories of that house. I also believe I still have pictures from family gatherings there. If you would like to contact me my email is…" Of course, we made contact.

We've now had two great email exchanges with Mr. Tombleson's great grandson, Chris, and many of our mysteries about the house have been solved. Lots of great stories, too. In an earlier post we talked about the two back-lit mesa paintings in the BBQ room. Turns out they were more than just paintings. Chris remembers Mr. T had a toy model stage coach complete with cowboys and Indians set up in front of the one above the bar.

The best story so far, however, is about his great grandfather's love of the wildlife in our area. According to Chris, George would feed the quail twice a day. He would spread out a 3 pound coffee can of bird feed along the driveway directly in front of the house and then return to the living room to watch the hundred plus quail enjoying the feast.

It gets better. Every night, shortly after dark, he would go outside with dog food and hand feed the foxes. Chris remembers joining him a few times and thinks he may even have some pictures. As karma would have it, last night we saw a fox in the same exact place Chris described.

If everything goes as planned, Chris is going to stop by Sunday morning and we'll get to meet him in person and show him the renovation progress. We're expecting even more great stories….

Meanwhile, back at the construction site, it's been all about the tile. Two tile guys in the guest house installing the shower tile and one guy in the BBQ finishing up the floor. Tomorrow is grout day!!!

Like everyone else in involved on the renovation, the tile guys are really good at what they do. We're convinced Mr. Tombleson would be impressed. We sure are.

Loving the MCM and tiki vibe of the shower tiles. It's nice when you know you've made the right choice.

Today, the three pendant lights (finally) got installed. They kind of look like warming lights you might see in a diner but we're still loving them. Tomorrow, the LED strip lighting goes up in the BBQ room and the guest house bath room. We may also see the shelves installed in the BBQ room. Things are moving pretty fast on Steinback Mountain. Thursday, there are many things to be thankful for….

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Rainbow, paneling, rainbow.

Yesterday morning we were greeted with a double rainbow over the Salinas Valley. We took that as a good sign because Wednesday was the day to start the installation of the paneling in the guest house.

Dave and Corey got right to it. Masters of detail, they called us in to make some decisions on the edge framing. First choice (see 2nd and 3rd pictures below) was the far corner of the room. Add the paper thin edge to the corner (#2) or not (#3)? We chose option #2.

Next choice, the corner where the two paneled walls meet. Add the paper thin edge (picture #4) or leave it out (picture #5)? We chose #4.

Those two decisions made the rest of the decisions easy: Always use the paper thin edging.

With all of the decisions made, we were off to school. According to Dave, the tile guys arrived around 2 and spent the rest of the afternoon installing the first layer of mud for the electrical heating grids.

When we returned home, we rushed to the guest house to see how much of the paneling was completed. What we found was the small wall where you enter the bathroom finished, and a couple of feet near the bottom of the larger wall completed. It was very obvious the Tombleson guys would finish the paneling on Thursday. Happy, happy!

Thursday Corey and Dave arrived right at 7am and immediately continued installing the paneling.

The tile guys arrived a few hours later and started laying out the electrical grids. Mark and another Frost Tile guy showed up mid day and tested the electrical connections and, when that proved okay, Paco and Junior covered it all up with a second layer of mud.

We are super happy with our decision to not go with the Arizona flagstone used in the other two buildings and instead use the Plyboo Durapalm coconut paneling. It's fabulous.

End of the day today, paneling installation complete. Heating pads installation in the BBQ room complete. More needed rain. And another rainbow. Happy, happy on Steinback Mountain!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Another delivery truck, another hassle

So the week started out with more work prepping the guest house shower. Paco and Junior mudded the shower wall. Then they installed the hardiebacker board in the living area and finally mudded the floor out to the entrance. Everything is all nice and level. And that's a good thing.

Dave has been anxiously waiting for the paneling to get here because he wants to install it before the tile guys install the heating grids. Every day the paneling isn't here is another day the tile guys have to wait. Patience, patience, patience.

Friday evening we returned home to find a note from Scott recommending a wheel cleaner for the 50s aluminum pendant lights we thought we'd done a decent job restoring. We took his advice and now, thanks to Scott and Mother, they are even more restored.

Monday morning Scott returned and he and Dave resumed working on the wiring for the lights above the Big I.

We're also encouraged by our blog friend Dana ( who commented on our last post about the lights, saying they were the "steal of the century." If anyone would know, Dana surely would. Her blog is our go-to encyclopedia for all things MCM. We soooooo want Scott to finish hanging the lights but they're not done yet. Patience, patience, patience.

Tuesday morning, 8am. John arrived with the high density plywood platforms for the bar counter. They needed to be installed before the counter template guy arrived later in the morning.

Tuesday morning, 11am. It's here! It's here! The Plyboo Deco Palm paneling made its way from Taiwan to San Francisco and then off to Sacramento before it went to San Jose on Friday. Today, it finally made it to Steinback Mountain. We had warned the Plyboo folks not to send such a large delivery truck as they did in their delivery of the decking material and, an hour before their noon to 4 delivery window, a very huge truck made its way barely through the portal at the bottom of the hill and all the way up the hill to our front door.

Apparently, getting up the hill was the easy part. Leaving, not so much. After carefully turning his truck around, the driver started down the hill and almost immediately hit the corner of our roof, knocking off a chunk of wood and leaving a half inch gap where the two fascia planks used to join. You'd think he would of stopped, but no, he just kept on going down the hill. Dave then jumped in his van and chased after him. A few minutes later they were back in front of the house taking pictures on their phones. Then a boss was called and a phone call was arranged for tomorrow morning. We'll let you know how that works out.

This morning, as anticipated, the counter template guy also showed up. Since the Big I is so big, and the Dekton only comes in 10 foot sheets, we needed to decide where to seam the two pieces for the bar, the sink area, and the counter on the wall cabinets. Rather than position the seam in the middle, like most people probably would do, we opted for having a full 10 foot length on the entrance side, and an almost 2.5 foot piece at the far end where the drop-in range will be.

Mark showed up in the afternoon and, along with Dave, got his tile guys scheduled for the next few days. Dave and Corey will work on installing the paneling tomorrow and Paco and Junior will start tiling the shower and its ceiling. Dave also had a productive phone call with Angus at Plyboo so he's now very clear on the best way to install the Plyboo Deco Palm paneling. If all goes as planned, they'll have it done in a day so the tile guys can start installing the heating grids on Thursday.

Tuesday afternoon, 3:30. Mike stopped by to check up on the tiling progress. We then showed him the corner of the roof that was attacked by the delivery truck. He's going to do a rough estimate for getting it fixed so we have something to discuss when we talk to the boss tomorrow. We'll keep you posted….

It's almost 4:30 and the tile guys are finally packing up. They've had to take all of their supplies inside as we're expecting rain this evening. And that's a good thing.