What a seemingly long journey we've had since the fire.
We're on the home stretch now, the house is coming along
beautifully and we're thinking that the move in will happen
sometime in early March. We're very comfortable in the
apartment in Prairie Farm and will wait to move until
construction is completely done.
That said, we both feel it is time to move on, the fire
is just not such a big deal in our lives anymore and we will
be concluding this little online blog about our experience
and recovery. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank all of
you for your love and support. We've been overwhelmed and
are so grateful.
If you are curious about further progress, just send us
an email and we can send you a picture.
Ken Seguine & Jay Gilbertson
From top left
Work on the area that will be the screened porch is
almost done. We're fascinated by how everything fits
together, materials wrap around, encase and protect the wood
The hardwood floor begins. Select grade red oak
harvested from our friend & neighbor Pam Saunder's property
by her son Luke, cut into boards by our friend Mark Olson
and then stored in our barn that we rent to Mark for the
last 4 years. It is beautiful and has quite the pedigree.
View from Ken's office through the upstairs hall into
View from stair landing into the upstairs hall with a
peek into Ken's office on the left and the upstairs bath in
January 7, 2011
Color goes up
It was a windy, nasty day and we
think the guys were glad to be working inside. Outside is
90%+ done, now the action moves indoors for a while. First
thing up is color on the walls. Great to see that what
looked good on little bitty paint chips also looks good on
our walls. Will have move colors next week.
From top left
Looking from entry area toward living room and dining
Looking from kitchen toward entry area and stairwell.
In master bedroom looking toward the bath with the "not
exactly a pink" ceiling.
Upstairs office bath, like all the rooms on the second
floor, has some really interesting ceiling lines that are
repeating the roof structure.
January 1, 2011
Jay doesn't know construction
is not yet done but is "working" in his office anyway. Hate
to spoil anyone's dreams...
Drywall now finished & primed,
painting starts next week.
December 31, 2010
We've got recommendations —
Sean Laffin/Starr Drywall
What a pleasure it has been
to meet such talented and nice craftsmen in the course of
the construction of our new home. Sean Laffin and his
easy smile is standing in the basement going to the mudroom
landing. Local friends, call us, we've got
recommendations. For drywall, this is the guy. Couldn't be
For drywall call:
Sean Laffin/Starr Drywall
For insulation call:
Green Builder Insulation
December 28, 2010
Now 'ya see it, now 'ya don't
Yesterday they came
and got the trailer. From top left
A crew disconnected, prepped and swept the snow off the
In fits and starts a huge truck started to budge it from
where it has been ensconced the last 9 months.
Slowly the truck & trailer made its way down the "road"
carved through the deep snow in the field. Local friends
will appreciate that we call it "Craig Wirth Way".
Now looking again much like it did last March before what
ever it was that caused us to live in the trailer in the
first place. Good to just see the land again, beautiful.
December 24, 2010
We are so very glad to be out of
the trailer, what a relief. Life has gotten much easier for
us. We are comfortable in a duplex in Prairie Farm, our
phone number and address remain the same.
The house is coming along beautifully. The siding is 80%
done, the drywall is being mudded this week and next.
Painting starts right after the first of the year then the
hardwood floors are scheduled to start January 10, 2011.
Pictures from the top left
1. From the moment it
started going up, the siding made it look like a farm house.
This is a view from the east, facing west. You are looking
at the master bedroom and bathroom windows, Jay's office is
upstairs and the breezeway mudroom entrance is on the left.
2. From the
northeast, this is the deck off the kitchen door. Snowy
looking isn't it? The siding is smooth, white cement board
in 4" horizontal strips. The windows are trimmed in barn
3. From the
northwest. The screened porch will be on the right, west
side with Ken's office above. To the left are the windows of
the living room and kitchen with the office bath window
4. It's Christmas and
we're getting everything we want! Our best wishes to all.
December 18, 2010
First step to moving outta the trailer
big, big storm we had big winds and big, 6' snow drifts. The
worst one was in front of the sliding glass door where we
will move stuff out. Once again, Craig Worth to the rescue
in a massive, 150 hp tractor. He made short work of the
drifts then plowed a "road" through the deep snow about a
1/4 mile long though one of our fields for the trailer
company to remove this trailer.
Internet at the new place in Prairie Farm gets hooked up
Monday morning, we'll move in on Sunday.
December 13, 2010
Last shot of the porta and CBC at work
shot of the "facilities" but this is one for the records. At
22 below this morning, you KNOW we are wanting to move into
the new place. Maybe later this week.
Can you believe these guys? At 10:30 the temp was holding
steady at 22 below and it is a perfect day to install
siding. Ha! Sam Dodge in the orange mask (with frost) calls
themselves "CBC" (Crazy Bastard Construction). It is looking
really good though, thanks guys!
December 12, 2010
After all our efforts to keep the trailer working, the
trailer has abandoned us. One by one systems and parts are
shutting down. The final straw came this morning when the
hot water no longer worked. We just can't believe that this
trailer could have been used previously in Wisconsin during
the winter, maybe it wasn't? We're going to rent a
comfortable duplex in Prairie Farm (Whispering Pines for the
locals) and plan on moving this week. It will make daily
life so much easier.
December 12, 2010
Biggest snowstorm since 1991, we had
18" followed by howling winds, drifts up to 6 ft in places.
We had plenty of warning and I brought my snowshoes
into the trailer. During the storm I went over to the house
to clean up.
From top left
Already the snow had started to drift, had to shovel my
way to the mudroom door from the breezeway.
The drywall cowboys were here! It is mostly up and I was
here to clean up the mess. This is looking from the kitchen
sink to the entry area. Arched front door on the right,
stairways up and down on the left.
This is up in the hallway between our offices. This
really interesting ceiling is created by the valley between
two peaks in the roof.
I was only in the house about 2 hours but when I went to
leave the snow had piled up this high on the mudroom door to
December 7, 2010
-5.9 and the use of
outdoor "facilities" makes for a real eye-opener.
December 6, 2010
Today in the land of many trucks...
...it is sheet
rock delivery day. Everything on the truck and airborne is
for us. Careful guys!
We realized this morning it was exactly 4 months ago
today that the Wirth Brothers started off construction by
excavating our basement. It seems so long ago, so much has
December 3, 2010
Winter Construction in Wisconsin
It's cold. 5
degrees yesterday morning, colder today. Lee, Sam and Sam
hardly seem to notice as they start putting up the siding on
the house. White cement board with barn red trim around the
It is beginning to look just liked we had hoped. A new,
"old" farm house.
We love it.
November 27, 2010
Mar 27 --->Nov 27
Eight months to the day,
the old house burned down. We are thankful to be alive,
thankful we were able to pull off a great year for pumpkin
seeds and so excited about our beautiful new home.
November 26, 2010
Even the new house doesn't have this view
One thing we will miss about the trailer
(not many items on this list) is this beautiful view up a
little valley. It was so lovely in moonlight early this
Ok, now back to my regularly scheduled complaining...
November 20, 2010
15° + Porta
Potty = MUCH less reading of The New Yorker
November 16, 2010
New things big and small
Lots going on every day.
1. The doors to the porch above the
screened porch go in.
2. This is receptacle where the
electric will enter the house. Isn't it beautiful?
3. Look at the masses of wires at the
electric panel in the basement, how does the electrician
keep it all straight?
4. Looking up, it is an explosion of
5. All Anderson doors and windows,
great quality. The hardware is very solid, very nice and we
grateful able to enjoy these beautiful things.
6. Lee, Sam & Sam working on the last
section of the green metal roof.
November 13, 2010
Weekly Progress Report
Biggest visible changes were the framing and
roof of the wrap-around porch and the tall chimney for the
wood burning stove, just in time for the first snow storm of
the season. Can't really see it in the snow picture but the
deck for the porch above the porch that is entered from
Ken's office is in.
Power gets moved to the house on Monday,
electrical, plumbing and ductwork should wind up next week.
It gets dark early so we've moved over
lights and chairs and now spend the early evenings in the
house. Will be MUCH more comfortable after next week when a
temporary heater is moved in.
November 2, 2010
Got Windows & Roof Edition
Things are moving along nicely but we do
have this thing called Wisconsin Winter looming. Soon we
will be into well below freezing temps. The wonderful
Anderson windows and doors are in and today, Lee, Sam & Sam
started installing the dark green metal roof.
We want every second of their energy to get
the house done but our favorite moment in the day is when
they go home and we get to walk around in our new home and
Very, very nice.
Continued thanks to Lee Theorin, Sam Adams
and Sam Dodge for their hard work and for continuing to take
the amphetamine supplements we've provided.
Just kidding folks!
October 28, 2010
Today they started on the floor of the
wrap-around screened porch. Basic framing for interior walls
is done so you can "see" the rooms. The dark green metal
roof components were delivered yesterday. Continued thanks
to Lee Theroin, Sam Dodge and Sam Adams for doing a great
job on our home and braving 30+ degree temps, wind & muck
October 25, 2010
Naturally, everybody asks, when the house
will be done. We don't really know, don't even ask the
construction team. Lee Theroin, Sam Dodge and Sam Adams are
doing a beautiful job and making steady progress, it will be
done when it is done. We continue to be grateful and
impressed with their expertise.
Numbers to the bottom right of each
1. We're looking forward to the wrap around
porch going in on top of the columns.
2. View from garage into the breezeway and
the mud room beyond. The breezeway will get capped with a
3. Jay standing on a half flight of stairs
going from the mud room level to the main floor.
4. Ken standing in NW corner of the living
room, view from what will be the hall leading to our
5. View from what will be the front door,
Jay is on the stairway to our offices on the second floor.
6. Ken is welcoming you to his office.
7. The first window went in this last week.
There will be two skylight windows with window seats in each
of our offices.
8. View out of Ken's office where there will
be a small walk out porch above the wrap around screened
October 17, 2010
Woke up with a dream we'd moved into the
Well, not quite, but things are coming
along. The garage went up last week. Parts for the green
metal roof will be delivered on Thursday. Lee, Sam & Sam
will complete all the exterior wall sheathing, then start in
on interior partitions this week. Windows may get delivered
the following week.
The amazing, fortunate warm & rain free
October weather continues. What luck. Excellent for
construction and harvest.
#1 Question: "When do you move in?"
Answer: "We don't know"
The guys are doing beautiful work, we are
loving how it is all turning out. Looking at the long-term
weather forecast, we think we will be ok in the trailer
until Thanksgiving. Water is the issue, we have 400 ft of
hose connecting us to the well. Once that freezes all day,
we can't live here. We've got contingency plans.
October 12, 2010
Long time no post. I was in India for 10
days, got back Oct 3 then was exhausted, very sick and jet
lagged for a bit. We got delivery on our pumpkin seed
deseeder machine and have spent every moment trying to get
it to work.
As you can see, the house is progressing
nicely. The roof is all on, almost all the exterior walls
are up. Interior walls not up but you can easily see the
room layouts. We are thrilled. The views are everything we'd
hoped. Lee Theorin, Sam Dodge and Sam Adams are continuing
their excellent work.
The green metal roof got measured today and
should be going on soon.
September 21, 2010
The Neighbors asked, "What's going on?"
So much stuff and big equipment here today
that our very understanding and long suffering neighbors
even had to politely ask. The answer; "Well, lots."
There's a man on my roof
No, not on the roof but Jay is on a stair landing up near
what will be the second story. After the guys left yesterday
we got right up to check the view. Fabulous. It is
everything we had hoped it would be.
First thing this morning was a delivery of roof trusses.
(Trusses, they're not just for hernias anymore!) Sorry.
Anyway we live about 1/3 mile off the road on a dirt,
winding street that ends up by our house with some sharp,
steep curves. I would have never thought a semi could make
it up here and it didn't
The secret to pulverizing asphalt
At last we can reveal how to do it. Get one semi to go back
and forth in the same spot for about 2 hours. Voila! Your
asphalt can be in a powder form too.
Crane rides 50˘ We continue to be so
impressed with Sam Adams, Sam Dodge and our general
contractor, Lee Theroin. Grateful for Lee's knowledge and
easy-to-be-around nature. Right behind the semi with the
trusses, Lee had ordered a second semi to deliver this lift.
They are using it to get the heavy beams and trusses up to
the second floor. Sure hope to get to go up tomorrow and
September 20, 2010
Most of the first floor exterior walls are
up. It dried out enough over the weekend for the Wirth
Brothers to return and complete the exterior drain tiles and
the back fill. Lots of big equipment in use today, backhoe,
bulldozer and skip loader.
This back fill will eliminate our the deep
muck & mud that gathered around the foundation every time it
rained and will make approaching the house much easier.
September 16, 2010
"One wall two walls three walls four..."
It is so exciting seeing the walls go up,
getting to visualize our rooms and looking out the windows.
September 15, 2010
Keep the Day Job
Lee and the crew asked us out to help raise
a heavy rough framed wall upright. Underneath where I was
lifting was a nail that had missed its mark.
4 hours in emergency and 7 stitches later we
revisited the scene of the crime and the now FLATTENED nail.
September 12, 2010
On Sunday we spent the day cleaning up the
construction site then hauled chairs and a table up to the
new floor in the main level of our house. Celebrated and
enjoyed the amazing views with the first bottle of
September 10, 2010
Pictures do not enlarge
We went to a party this afternoon then
shopping in the nearest, larger town, Menomonie. The first
thing everyone has asked us for the last 5 months is, "how's
the house coming?" Today, for the first time, we were able
to say, "great!"
It is just amazing how much has happened on
Thursday, Friday and a few hours this morning. Some framing
is up in the basement, all the first floor joists are in and
the plywood base for the first floor is secured. Real
One thing we are especially grateful for is
our contractor Lee and his team. Local people all know that
Lee Theorin, Sam Dodge and Sam Adams are super nice and
talented guys. They've made a world of difference in the
atmosphere around here. They have a methodical step-by-step
nature that makes it seem like they are not rushing but they
get so much done. We are grateful to have them here.
We are plotting out a special picture for
tomorrow, tune in again Sunday evening.
September 9, 2010
Pictures do not enlarge
It all happened yesterday. We were a little
concerned at first, normally concrete guy was here around
6:20 AM, they didn't show up until 11:30. Here they are
dumping the first loads of concrete on top of the styrofoam.
Rough smoothing was done with very long
In the middle distance you can see concrete
guy using a machine to further smooth the surface.
Beautiful, no? Concrete guy is VERY fussy
and did a great job.
Today construction started. Our friends at Bittner's Lumber
delivered materials and our very congenial construction team
of Lee Theorin, Sam Dodge and Sam Adams are hard at work.
September 8, 2010
The Spell is Broken
Finally, finally today is the day the
basement get's poured. It has stopped raining for 5 minutes
and everything is a go. Last evening we prepped the area and
the concrete guys should be on the way right now.
We meet with Lee Theorin, general
contractor, later to review construction sequence. Can't
wait to start seeing sticks in the air.
September 3, 2010
Pictures do not enlarge
By yesterday afternoon, the basement was dry
again. Jay clambered in to inspect up close. He's standing
on the sheets of Styrofoam insulation that are the base for
the concrete floor. Called the concrete guy to ok pouring
the floor Friday morning. Then a dramatic quick rainstorm
with another 3/4" of rain. Basement totally flooded again.
We were up and down all night long checking the pumps to
make sure it was ok for the concrete this morning.
Turns out concrete man didn't reserve with
the company that makes the stuff and can't get any. He's off
for the weekend so next Tuesday is the next pour date. Sigh.
Hard to see but the cat came to check out
the new house with us yesterday afternoon. She's been pretty
freaked out with all the large equipment and noise so it is
good that she's starting to get comfortable with what will
be her new house too.
'Yall have a GREAT holiday weekend!
September 1, 2010
Sorry for the lack of posts, was in LA all
last week for my "day job" and was crazy-busy. The concrete
foundations are finished and waterproofed and the next step
is to pour the basement floors but we've been bedeviled by
rain. 1" rain, the basement floods, we muck and pump it out,
then 2" rain, then last night 3/4" rain, lather, rinse
repeat. Things are on hold until it's poured and then the
construction can start.
Last week we were absolutely shocked to get
a major, unexpected curveball regarding financing. Hope to
have it resolved next week but it has been the most stress
since the fire.
August 20, 2010
Click on pictures to enlarge
Oh this is so cool, they are pouring the concrete for the
foundation, basement and garage walls right now. The "This
Mud's for You" crew is back with six concrete trucks lined
down the driveway. The concrete is pumped into a huge boom
that directs it into the forms.
Check out the second picture, the guy in the middle in
the gray controls the boom with a joystick. Where are my
nephews when I need them?
August 16, 2010
So Much has Happened...
Here's a quick review of
the last few days, images do not enlarge.
1. A Great Start
Ok, so last Tuesday, 8/10/10, they poured the footings that
support the foundation and house.
Yeah! That night a freak 4" of rain in a couple of hours. Blammo!
2. Lake! This is Gonna be our House
We awoke to just a few inches of the rebar (steel rods)
poking up from the lake in our basement. Ruh-Roh.
3. Everybody Got to Work
Craig Wirth, the excavation guy, answered the phone when we
called him that morning, "How bad is it?". Pumps were
brought in, muck shoveled. Everybody knows we have a
timeline before winter.
4. Basement Protected
Drainage tiles were laid, construction felt was placed over
the dirt between the concrete footings and 8" to 14" of
gravel filled the basement.
5. More Rain!
We had more unwelcome rain Friday night. Partially filled
some of the spaces with new mini-lakes. We spent Sunday, August 15, 2010 pumping
and digging out the muck. We want construction to proceed
6. Monday, August 16, 2010
Delivery of the ICF, insulating concrete forms, that will
create the walls of our basement. This is supposed to be the
state-of-the-art for strong, well insulated walls.
7. Legos for Men
Basically, all these two sided Styrofoam blocks fit together
with steel rebar running vertical and horizontally. Concrete will be pumped in between the forms. Solid, efficient
8. The Forms for the Basement Walls are Up
Tomorrow the forms for the garage concrete poured walls will
be set. Today was a really dramatic day for us to see how
the new house will lay out,.
UP IT GOES!
August 10, 2010
The footing and foundation framing is in,
we just passed our first inspection and the cement truck is
on the way. We're going to be serving wine in the basement
We are so very impressed with the high level of knowledge
and skill of all the contractors that are involved in
building our home. Thanks guys.
August 6, 2010
We'd like to invite 'yall over to our new basement
That is Jay, arms up inviting all our friends over to our
new basement. First day of real progress on our new home.
The Wirth Brothers did their usual outstanding job and we
can actually see the rooms as laid out on the construction
August 5, 2010
Ready, set GO!
Today we got our permit to start construction.
Finally. Friday, the excellent Wirth Brothers will come
with the big equipment to grade and dig our basement,
concrete should happen next week. Of course there are some
little last minute ruffles. Got a call tonight from a very
unhappy customer of the firm we've selected to do the
geothermal HVAC work. Because of this we are doing some more
background checking on the firm. Today is a big turning
point, we really are going to be building a new house and we
couldn't be happier about it. Onward!
July 28, 2010
Everything takes so l
o n g . . .
Still waiting to hear back on some of the significant
bids we need to have before applying for the building
permit. Everybody, HURRY! We gotta get this thing going.
We're doing fun stuff too, everyday making decisions on
surface materials, fixtures, colors. Hopefully the rest of
the bids will be in today or tomorrow.
July 20, 2010
On to daily life
The construction plans are all out
now with the contractors who will do electrical, plumbing,
HVAC, lumber, windows and such. We should get bids by the
end of this week. Then we can apply for a permit, THEN
we can get going.
We're done with some big hurdles. Our terrific insurance
company, Rural Insurance, has accepted Jay's massive
inventory list of our personal possessions. Ken then
submitted the 30+ pages of documentation required for our
2010 organic certification.
We cleaned up and burned some brush piles over the
weekend. It was our first fire since THE fire. No big deal
at all, it was good to have this old eye sore gone. As a
native Californian, I will never get over how strange it
seems to just go out and burn stuff in your yard!
Updates on our terrific 2010 pumpkin season on the
latest news page.
July 13, 2010
Architect Tim Fuller will be here on Thursday and will bring
multiple sets of the final construction plans. We can then
get bids from sub-contractors then submit our application
for a building permit. 'Ya just don't go and start digging,
'ya know? Maybe at long last we are 2 to 3 weeks away from
starting construction. We sure hope so...
July 12, 2010
Delay, then on to the home stretch
seriously ill last week with a bug bite, most likely spider.
On Sunday, 7/4/2010 he was bit and by midweek, his doctor
was talking hospital. We were shocked how quickly things
seemed to get out of control but everything is fine now. We
had to cancel the architect's visit last Thursday but today
had a conference call and finished up the last decisions.
Tim Fuller, SALA Architects will come out on Thursday, his
first visit since the old house has been removed. He'll
bring the detailed construction plans we need to get bids
from sub-contractors that will allow us to get a permit and
Placement of wood stove
To maximize our wonderful views we have lots of windows but
placing the wood stove was a problem due to codes. Here's
the final solution. We had to eliminate one window that
would have been to the right of the wood stove.
View if you were 8 ft tall
Here you are standing just above the 12' kitchen island
looking through the living room, oops, "Gathering Room" as
it has now been renamed to the 14' x 36' screened porch
July 3, 2010
Come on in, pull up a bar stool!
First look at some
interior shots. We're way into the fun stuff now. Click
to embiggen any image, from the top left...
Party in comfort
One of our favorite things in the whole house is a TWELVE
foot island in the kitchen. It is exactly where everyone
wants to be at a party and we're making it comfortable. It
will be lined with barstools and have a foot rail.
View from front entry
Things have gotten moved around from this design. The fridge
will go on the far end of the wall, the two wall ovens go at
this end of the wall, the range will only be a cooktop in
the center. Window above kitchen sink and dishwasher to its
View toward the living room
This is the kitchen side of the island, the entry door is to
the left, straight ahead is the door to the screened porch.
On the right, midway is an eating nook.
From the beginning, we've been pretty clear about what we
wanted, especially in the kitchen. This Armstrong Floor ad
has many of the elements. Our floors are all red oak,
the cabinets will be painted dark blue green. Laminate
counters are a cream color. Sink is white, walls pale
yellow, island top will be a thick, beveled piece of wood
with gold stain and very dramatic grain. Appliances all
Kitchen Aid in brushed stainless. Cabinet hardware in
stainless. Lassie stays in the ad, not the house.
June 29, 2010
Hey, Didn't There Used to be a House There?
but it is gone, gone, gone. What a gorgeous day to say
our last goodbye. 70 degrees, dry, crystalline sky.
Wisconsin can be so beautiful. We continue to feel inspired
at having the mess removed. That is Jay in the picture
hooking up electricity to the water pressure tank standing
on an island of left-over concrete that houses the well from
the old house that will service the new house.
The view from the trailer is much improved!
June 29, 2010
Wirth Brothers Finish the Job
It is all gone.
Here's another quickie video of the concrete being loaded
into trucks and hauled away.
June 29, 2010
Concrete B Gone Day
The Wirth Brothers are back at
it, removing all the concrete. They just expertly cut and
moved a hand-painted compass that was part of the patio.
Will have pictures later. Really appreciate their efforts to
salvage this momento.
June 29, 2010
A quickie video from yesterday with
Craig Wirth expertly using the backhoe to take down the old
June 28, 2010
Demo Day 2010, BE THERE!
What a fun day. Demo went
great. We were not exactly sure how we would feel but it
turned out to be fun watching the big ass (technical term)
equipment crunch up and make the old mess go away. We wished
we could have had our nephews with us, Joseph, Eric & Reed—you
would have loved it. Early on in the demo Jay made
the comment that everything is all just temporary. So true.
Pictures from top
left and numbered on bottom right, click on any image to
Jay, the house electrician wanna-be disconnected the juice
that ran to the well and pressure tank. He then removed the
line to be hooked up again at the end of the day. Early on,
Jay made the comment that it is all just temporary. So true.
2.Wirth Brothers These guys are great. It was our first time to actually
meet them. No wonder they are busy, professional, competent
& nice. They had just started digging into the house in this
3.One Wing Gone
An entire side of the house had been removed. It was not
like the view of the old place was painful, it was just
ugly, but it was so very fun to see it go.
Big Ass Backhoe
It was huge. Look at those gapping jaws about to bite into
the remains of our garage.
After the structure was down, Craig Wirth just kept
pounding, smashing and pulverizing the house. The smaller
bits fit more tightly in the huge trucks that carted it to
the appropriate dumps.
Look Ma, No House
Tomorrow they will come back with bull dozers and remove all
the concrete. The old house is gone, we are thrilled and
know we are so fortunate about to get the house of our
June 27, 2010
Demo in the Morning
It was exactly 3 months ago today our home burned to the
ground. Tomorrow is a big day for us, the demo happens! The
old wreck is going to be properly sorted and hauled away.
Everything done according to the new Wisconsin laws that
regulate this type of disposal.
This week Jay finished the monumental task of listing
everything in the house. His spreadsheet had over 1,350
individual types of items. He did an amazing job and with
this task complete, is able to begin his writing once more.
We met with Tim Fuller at SALA architects on Friday and
we are basically done with the planning that will determine
foundation and walls. It is now full speed ahead on the
formal construction plans. We just love, love the house.
Tomorrow will have demo pictures and video and the latest
images of the new house.
June 18, 2010
Ok to Demo
After 6 experts from the opposing insurance companies
spent 6 hours combing through the wreckage, gathering
evidence and interviewing us, we got permission to demo last
Monday. Now we just need to get Wirth Brothers in here with
their big equipment to make it all go away. They are
well-regarded locally and in-demand. Hope we can get on
their schedule for next week. House plans ready to go to the
"CAD" stage for construction drawings. It won't be long.
June 13, 2010
Tomorrow is the day?
We sure hope so. We're now 11
weeks out from the fire. Monday morning there is a meeting
with the insurance companies and their respective
investigators. We may be given permission to demo after
It will be so good to have it gone and get going on our
June 8, 2010
It is official, the committee came by and we
do indeed have the most beautiful peony bouquet in the
If the my career in the natural products industry,
pumpkin seed oil and Ken's Karpet Kleaning don't work out,
I'm going to grow peonies.
June 6, 2010
House Revision #4
We had a great, 2 hour meeting
with Tim Fuller last Wednesday where he presented this
latest round of revisions. We've made many changes you'll
see on the next round. Click to enlarge any image, from
the top left:
View from driveway
Note upstairs walk out porch from Ken's office, breezeway
greenhouse and windows in upstairs roof
View from driveway
This side of the wraparound porch is now 14ft deep for
tables and dining.
View from hill behind house
The door off our bedroom will be eliminated and this
deck now has a door from the kitchen pantry. The windows are
in the kitchen, dining area and gathering room.
Floor plan level 1
We are very excited about the huge 11 ft island in the
kitchen. The place to be for parties.
June 1, 2010
It has been over nine weeks since the
fire and unfortunately the house is still standing
while we await permission to demo. Check it out, WEEDS
are now sprouting in the insulation inside the house.
Tomorrow we head into The Cities again to meet with Tim
Fuller at SALA for another round of revisions on the house,
will post some updated images tomorrow.
May 25, 2010
Note, I'm starting to separate personal, home & fire
related items on this page and pumpkin seed oil activities
on our Latest News
page. Just posted pictures of us planting 13,000 seeds this
weekend! Check them out.
We like to Garden
The old wreck of a house is still up. Hoping to
get permission from the insurance companies to demo later
this week. We like to garden and have always enjoyed keeping
things neat and trim. The house is so ugly on its own and
now all the former gardens and lawns are big weedy messes.
It is hard for us to look at although check out the
interesting pattern made from the remaining rafters in Jay's
old office. It catches my eye every afternoon.
In contrast, the garden shed. We have a charming,
small detached garage where we store garden equipment. We're
keeping it weeded and are planting out vines and flowers.
Makes us feel good. These are ferns we had transplanted from
May 21, 2010
We B Busy!
Tim Fuller of SALA Architects walked me through the many
adjustments needed on the amazing Google SketchUp software
to produce clear images. You should now be able to get a
better look. Went to Minneapolis yesterday (first time in
years to be in our old haunts in Northeast). We met with Tim
and gave our many requested revisions. Everything about this
talented guy is easy. What a pleasure to work with him. We
should have the updated design by next mid-week.
We did "big city" stuff you certainly can't do in Prairie
Farm or even Eau Claire. Got very cool replacement eye
IWARE from our friend, Kevin Cunningham. Got cool shoes
at DSW but ran out of time to buy new office chairs for us
Pumpkins are about to take a big chunk of our time, we
plan on getting 10,000 seedlings going on Sunday.
May 17, 2010
Seven Weeks + 2 Days Out from Fire
Click on any
picture to enlarge. From top left:
"Tra, la, la, la, la, la, laaah!" [Idiot tulips]
Not What We Planed but Delicious
Sunday we went out to harvest morel mushrooms, only found
two but one of our spring favs, fiddlehead fern fronds,
where unfurling. We did them Asian style with sesame oil,
fish sauce and soy.
There will NEVER be Another Weed on Our Farm
Yah, right. In February we attended an all day course on
weed management for organic farms. This is the recommended
cultivator, just got delivered today and we still have to
assemble its parts. Odd, the barn in the background suddenly
sank 15' at the rear when it was delivered! Just kidding,
the weeder was actually angled down in front.
Mmmm...Insulation for Dinner
The old house, so very sad now and still standing. New
insurance investigation starts tomorrow. Hopefully very soon
we get the word we can demo. This is a shot of our beloved
Jen Air convection range that for some reason, has a piece
of pink insulation on the rack of the oven. Hungry?
May 16, 2010
Positioning of the New House
Click on the image for
a larger version. This is for our friends and family that
have been here to see where we plan on building. Basically
the screened porch and house are on top of the old garage.
I've labeled rooms in the old place with the label just to
the right of what it describes. Hope this helps seeing what
Tonight we're going step-by-step, room-by-room and making
notes on what we do and don't like. We like lots!
May 16, 2010
May 15, 2010
First Look at New House
What a fun day yesterday!
Tim Fuller of Sala Architects came out to present two
schemes for the new house. He also introduced us to Google
SketchUp software that allows amazing 3-D interactive
modeling. I need to spend some time with it but we will be
able to post any view, inside and out of the house. Sorry,
these images are not very good, will get better ones up
May 12, 2010
Spa Living is the Life for Meeee...
Here is the
"spa" with the previously mentioned eyesore removed. It's so
nice now that sometimes we just float around all day barking
orders into our new voice-activated laptops. We are the
masters of our 70's trailer.
Well, not exactly, but it is defiantly an improvement in
the bathroom. For some reason this shot makes it almost look
pleasant. For the guys that immediately specified with the
architect that the new house was to have no bathtubs,
this spa thingy is a huge waste of space. What to do with
it? Storage, cat box, planter, wine fermentation?
Things are indeed getting better and better. Yesterday
Ken took the day off and we went power shopping in Eau
Claire. Jay had his annual dermatologist appointment and got
a hair cut from Jan at
Starr's Sister Salon (life goes on...) then we hit the
mall. Bedding, linens, cookware, office supplies—lots
of things to make life easier every day. Having so little,
it is astonishing to see how much we buy.
Finished the day off at
Shanghai Bistro and had sushi. So much better than
ALL the other many other sushi places in Prairie Farm.
May 9, 2010
Above the "spa" in the bath of the
"master bedroom" was this gem. About 6" between this and the
outside window. Lots of crap had collected. Dirt, dust and a
decade's worth of Asian Beetles (local folks will
We removed the yellowed glass (they must have been
smokers) and to our great surprise, it is of amazing worth!
It was appraised as being Louis "Comfortable" Tiffany and
it's value is an astounding $-12,000!
Let the Ebay frenzy begin!
May 9, 2010
Six Weeks Status/This View will Change
we're doing fine (but what do we know?).
Sometimes we still grieve, we think frequently of that night
and are moving on too. We continue to make the trailer our
home, more pleasant, clean and visually appealing. Having
zippo, we buy lots and lots of stuff. A few things are
permanent replacements. New Dyson Ball vacuum (sign us up to
do the commercial—nice!) and we
got a new, quality bed delivered yesterday. Jay continues to
work on "the list" of every single thing in the old house.
Ken is now set up in his office and functioning well at his
We live in a wonderful community and have so many kind
and supportive friends. People have been very helpful
and we're just about ready to start being social again
Some big events this week. We should see the preliminary
plans for the new house and the demolition and removal of
the old house may happen at the end of the week. It will be
good and sad to have it gone forever.
Today, weather permitting, we plan on weeding some of the
garden beds away from the old house. It is good to take care
May 5, 2010
Not so Depressing
Having your house burn down is
not a good thing emotionally or financially, even when your
insurance company is A+. Dealing with sad, dirty kitchen
wallpaper in your new trailer's kitchen is just beyond the
pale. Click on the pictures to enlarge but do so at your own
risk. The sadness of the wallpaper increases with size.
No Offense to the Good Folks of North Dakota
Neighbor, friend and poet Sam Dodge described this as being
reminiscent of a depressed North Dakota housewife who's
husband is at the bar. We agreed.
We Believe in Yellow Kitchens
Not that many things that we really believe in
besides love but yellow kitchens just seem right. Much
less depressing now.
May 3, 2010
Mending & Tending
We had planned on cleaning,
weeding and tending the property this last weekend. We did, but had a couple
of distractions that I'll deal with below. Click on any
picture to enlarge. From top left:
The Japanese would be proud. Jay takes extra good care
pruning some of the wild plums on the hill above our
trailer. Not this year, but they are excellent to add zip to
canned apple sauce.
1,400 Foot Long Strips as Seen from the Tractor
Ken continued to prep the contour strips for this year's
pumpkins. We expect to plant 5,000 plants ourselves with
many more planted by local friends and farmers. What a
gorgeous day and spring we are having.
Well, you can't really see them but there are hundreds
(thousands?) of toads in our pond that are amorous and
singing their hearts out right now. It is so beautiful, we
look forward to it every year. They migrate to the pond to
sing, mate and lay eggs, then leave. Later we'll have a
bejillion teeny toads making their march into the hills. We
don't walk in the area when this happens. Toads are cool.
Does this Purple Make my Face Look Fat?
Ok, we are just really grateful to have a place to live and
I'd decided to skip all the easy, snarky jokes about the decor in
our older trailer. This weekend it really misbehaved—the
plumbing malfunctioned and backed up into the bathtub. We're
using a portapotty outside so it wasn't that bad, but
still. We got it fixed ourselves after a day and a half of
consultations with plumbing friends and because it ate into
my weekend, I get to make fun of the trailer!
Iridescent purple wisteria wallpaper border? Yup.
Purple walls in bathroom? Yup
Bald man with fat face? You betcha.
April 30, 2010
Good, Busy & Jumpy Days
A mix of emotions these
last few days. Click on any picture to enlarge. From top
Ok, Cue the Eagle...
Tuesday with our architect couldn't have been better. Tim
Fuller of Sala Architects pulls up, we walk out of the
trailer to meet him and as we three approach the old house,
an eagle flies low over us. It will be dropped in the movie
version, just not believable. I was in heaven in the
afternoon, got to play Tim's assistant and help measure for
site elevations. Love to measure.
Demo of the old house is scheduled in two weeks, insurance
permitting. Jay continues to methodically excavate and it is
always amazing to see what things survived.
Maybe we Over Reacted?
I'm from a temperate climate, LA, where not much happens
weather wise and even a slight sprinkle can generate, "Storm
Watch 2010!" headlines on the news. The upper Midwest is
the Super Bowl of weather, anything can and does happen.
Early in the evening, I'm out rotovating the cool contour
strips where this year's pumpkins will go and Jay appears
having run all the way from the trailer. There was an alert
on the radio, severe weather with 60 mph winds, hail and
possible tornados heading to Dunn County. I came in, we
checked radar and a angry looking red/purple splot looked
like it was heading our way. Normally in severe weather you
head to your basement. We thought, "oh no, what if...?" We
actually packed up our valuables into a suitcase, stored it
in the car that we pulled into the barn, made plans to run
to the basement in the old house and then sat and watched
the storm on radar.
All clear! The center passed just to our south, with no damage.
Nice evening, smells like spring.
Back to our regularly scheduled chronicle of woe tomorrow.
April 27, 2010
One Month Today
Just now realized that today is the
one month anniversary but too busy this morning for
reflection. Big day! Mr. Tim Fuller of Sala Architects is on
his way to spend the better part of today with us. We'll be
helping carrying his transits and such as he does
elevations, takes pictures and gets to know our land. Will
report back this evening.
Sunday was a nice day. We took a break from setting up
the trailer, doing our insurance chores and work and did
normal things. Jay mowed (and mowed and mowed), I had to
gently remind him that we no longer needed to keep things
neat and trim around the old house.
I put on cages on the peonies and delphiniums and then
used the tractor to make the first contour strip on our new
pumpkin field. A few days before the fire the Dunn County
conservation agent helped us map out strips on this field to
prevent erosion. I'll be putting in more on Wednesday, they
will look really cool too.
April 24, 2010
So, 'Ya Wanna Nice Yard or Not?
Ok, after the
heaviness of the morning it was good to have a little
tractor project in the late afternoon. The trailer is parked
right in back of what used to be our outdoor chicken area.
Doing what chickens do, for years they've been digging
hollows to take "dirt baths" It is exactly where you want to
walk through when you park in the driveway.
With rain on the way it seemed good timing. I rotovated
and smoothed out the area and planted grass seed.
We've way scaled back our garden plans for 2010 but will
do a few things. Dirt is always good therapy.
April 24, 2020
We Didn't Find It
A sad day for us yesterday. Rain
was coming and we decided the time was right to excavate
Jay's office in hopes that we might find one of the many
back-up CDs of his current manuscript. There was just
nothing in his desk area, things simply disappeared. Click
on any image to enlarge. From top left:
It's toxic too, at least now we're wearing masks. With small
garden tools we painstakingly sifted through the 3-4 feet of
debris then shoveled stuff out the window.
Oh, Here's the Cutlery
Jay's great-grandmother's silver plate was stored on top of
his bookcases. A few pieces may be salvageable.
This is It We were committed to take it to the floor. The fire was
very hot in here, it was the last room we were in that night
before we fled the house. Just a few charred mementos.
Surprisingly we found a few of our own old cards to each
We had hoped. I had even planned out the shot of Jay holding
up a shinny CD, but no.
April 22, 2010
A Request for Your Help
Normally our website bumps
along getting a few hundred requests per day. As you can
see, all that changed after the fire March 27th.
We would like to ask our new and old visitors to help us
build our business. Please think of your foodie,
gourmet friends that like new tastes and send them a link to
We don't want
sympathy purchases, we want real customers.
It will help us financially now and help build a sustainable
business that will in turn benefit our community.
Thanks for all your good
wishes and help us grow our business!
April 21, 2010 PM
For years, except in the deeper snows of
winter, we've tried to take a walk in our woods every day.
Of course we don't always do it and we'd not done so since
the fire. So very nice to connect with all the bigger things
then our current personal problems—the
wildflowers in bloom, damn—no
morel mushrooms yet and what kind of animal makes that
poop. The images are not as beautiful as it really was and
it smelled so good. We resolved to continue our old pattern
of walking (most) every day. Click on an image to enlarge.
From top left clockwise:
Jay with "Big Oak"
We love this tree, biggest White Oak on our property. Two
people can not quite reach around it to hold hands. No, Jay
is not 18" tall, this is a BIG tree.
One of the things we also love are the springs. This one is
a ways from the house and flows right through some mature
White Pines. One of our favorite places.
This is the beautiful Bloodroot (Sanguinaria
canadensis) not yet open for the day's
Ken White Pines
Not nearly as big as the White Oak but so majestic, they are
our favorite tree. We've planted hundreds over the last nine
years. They grow very fast, we are fully intending to enjoy
their mature grace.
April 21, 2010 AM
Back to work
Today will be our first full day in the trailer and I'm
digging back into my day job, I'm so behind. Jay is shipping
pumpkin seed oil orders and in a bit we're going to take our
first woods walk since the fire. Big news from yesterday,
we met with Tim Fuller with Sala Architects and he has
agreed to design our new home! Will post more on this later,
we could not be more happy with him. Here's some of his
http://www.salaarc.com/projects/tfc97084.html. We're in
very good hands.
April 19, 2010
I was planning on making some very snarky
comments (and still may) about decor in our new place but,
no, not tonight. We are so very tired after this long day
and so grateful to have a home again. We finished loading in
our stuff about 9:00 PM and are just eating our first meal
at 11:00 PM.
April 19,2010 AM
Of all times. A bear got into the beehive
last night and broke it apart. Jay went over this morning in
his suite but they were really angry, swarmed him, he got
20-30 bites and had to run out. Cleaning crew is here today
and we're moving in. Have put out the word for help with
some local experienced keepers.
April 18, 2010
A tough day today, in pain and sobbing this morning. I've
always thought that the heart parcels out grief in batches
that you can handle. Three weeks out and blammo, there's a
new load. We're packing up our stuff here at the motel and
will check out in the morning. Tomorrow night at the farm.
Cleaned the carpet for the third time today and the waste
water is still dirty. I'm done.
April 17, 2010
Ken's Carpet Cleaning
Really good day today, stayed at the farm
until 8:15. We've now cleared the very last hurdle for the
trailer, all that is left is to clean it, then move-in
Monday afternoon. Our general contractor,
Lee Theorin, did a great job with the outflow hook-up
today, everything else—electric,
LP, heat, water, phone and wireless are all installed.
Life is about to get so much easier for us.
I love to clean carpets and I am really,
really good at it. Heidi Jacobson's team of cleaning gals
are going to make the trailer sparkle on Monday but I wanted
to do the carpets myself. If my career in the natural
products industry fell apart, I might just start Ken's
Carpet Cleaning. I find it relaxing, love to see the dirt in
the waste water and if I was not doing it for myself, there
are many opportunities for smug, self-righteous feelings
when cleaning up other people's stuff.
I cleaned them yesterday, again today and
will do them a third time Sunday morning, they really needed
it. Jay's dad and sister, Eric and Amy, also share this same
predilection and as we like to say, "we clean until the
waste water is clear".
Photo tour of the trailer next week with
more cutting-edge design tips! Just you wait.
April 16, 2010
Hay River Pumpkin Seed Oil is back in
Our first shipments since the fire. Dear
friends drove an hour north to Spooner, WI to pick up 700
bottles of oil that were fortunately still at Botanic Oil
Innovations, the good people that press our seeds. We got a
new batch of labels this week and set up temporary shipping
here in Menomonie at the Comfort Inn.
So glad to be filling orders again and
shipping these beauties out!
April 16, 2010
Sorry 'bout your house, that'll be $3,000
We had no idea but out here with
volunteer fire departments you are billed for the service.
First off, they were awesome and due to their very hard work
and quick response, we've been able to salvage some
important treasures. We are so very grateful. The bill
came with the detailed 911 call log that has allowed us to
piece together the events of that morning. Looks like we
were only in the house about 12 minutes from the time of Jay
waking to see the flames in the attic. Amazing. Insurance
only covers $500 of the bill, our local friends should be
aware of this and add this to their list of emergency
April 14, 2010
A Good, Big Day
Ok, as seen in the post below we
now have water to the trailer. Spent most of the day at the
farm with some good results. Click on any picture to see a
larger shot. Starting top left:
We got our new bee suits and went over to do our
first spring clean. Got rid of the winter tar paper that
provided heat and insulation and added a new brooder box. So
many of our local friend's bee hives are gone due to Colony
Collapse Disorder, we're grateful to have our first hive
Oh, it is just a speck in this picture, even when you click
and enlarge it you can't really see it—right
of the cloud in the center, but we HEARD it. It took me a
while to find the camera and take the shot, they were
circling above our old house. Distinctive calls and
beautiful birds. Always makes you feel special when you hear
or see one.
Ken's Glass Portfolio
Biggest YES of the day. Ken's years from 1975 to 1985
are again recorded. I hated the idea of losing this
part of my life. My portfolio was burned but many pictures
are fine. Will be scanning and posting to the internet for
future preservation. This is a shot from the
inside of a real estate office on Rodeo Drive in Beverly
Hills. You had to have more money than God to walk in the
door and the store front I made make that pretty
clear. It was, and is, stunning. Door handles cut by
Lenox Crystal, at the time, late 80's,
state-of-the-art interactive displays.
Precious Book that was Mom's
A vintage Sunset Western Garden Book from 1940. It was
my mom's complete with handwritten notes about things she
liked. Can't believe I have it still. I am a happy man, the
two most important things from my office: this book
and my glass portfolio.
April 14, 2010
Today was our First Good Day
Well at least a day without despair and
that's good enough right now. Big news is that the water got
connected to the trailer. A nice thing has been to meet some
very cool contractors. Anybody in our area, if you have a
well or water problem, call Steve
Pure Water Pump Service, in Menomonie, 715.235.4420.
Steve would just not give up, he was
determined to get us water today. Under adverse conditions,
he wouldn't leave until he knew that water ran in the
trailer. It was raining, all three of us were soaked. To top it off he was funny too, we had a
great afternoon and feel like we have a new friend..
PS - do to foreshortening, Kitty in the shot
below is not 50 lbs. She looks big but is actually a small
cat, usually around 9 lbs.
April 13, 2010
Much Better Day—Yowls to Purrs
Yesterday was hard and we felt so low driving north to the
farm this morning. Things seemed to lift during the day. We
were there at 8:00 AM to meet our phone company to transfer
home & Ken's office phones, DSL and set up wireless. (Why
can't they be more specific than 8:00 to noon?). Nice guy
shows up at 11:00 AM.
When we arrived it was pounding rain, thundering and the
sound just deafening in the metal-roofed machine shed where
Kitty hangs. She was freaked. Yowling and very unhappy. We
understand cats do not like abrupt, forced change but
thought that we'd all be more comfortable waiting in the
trailer. We grabbed her and set up camp. Very wary at first,
but soon she was in our laps, purring and seemed content.
It was nice for all of us. The trailer is a mess and
needs some deep cleaning but it is actually not unpleasant.
Views are spectacular. We are going to be just fine.
We're going to be just fine.
April 13, 2010
Home Decor Tips for the Adventurous
Big news today
for the many fans of the orange-walled,
sunflower-bordered, purple-curtained bedroom. Most likely
the same creative team, with that exquisite sense of color,
were the culprits that had painted Ken's new office purple.
I was taking pictures to record the condition of the
trailer and realized somebody else had thought that purple
tone a step too far.
April 11, 2010
A Few More Treasures
On Sunday we hit the
Laundromat and the gym in the morning and went to the farm
in the afternoon. We were just intending to take it easy,
pet the cat and read home design books. Decided to go back
into the house which is increasingly becoming a nasty, toxic
and dangerous mess. Did some excavation and found a few more
things that might be salvaged. We will decide much later if
we actually keep them.
This one's a keeper. My dad's bathrobe. He died wearing
this and I wore it for many years. It is threadbare but
precious. It was right next to an exterior wall.
So glad to have it still.
April 10, 2010
Two Weeks Ago Today
We still can't believe it. Did
this really happen? Today AB Electric installed electricity
to our trailer, pole barn and machine shed. Just about every
day next week something is getting installed. We plan to
move in next Saturday.
Click on any picture on the left to see a larger version.
Clockwise from top left:
House long shot Standing in the exact same spot from where I shot the
bees in the bottom left picture, this is the long view to our old house. Sigh.
House close shot
Standing in the same spot, this is a telephoto view of the
So good to see lights on in the barn! Another milestone
toward our new life.
Bees It's hard to see in this small picture but we walked
through our fields to the hive and it's doing just great.
Lots of activity. Tomorrow we will remove the winter tar
paper, spring clean and add another brooder box.
April 10, 2010
We were in much better spirits
today and ready to take on the work of excavating in our
house and were well rewarded with some real treasures.
Click on any picture on the left to see a larger version.
Clockwise from top left:
My mom was a prolific knitter and we were able to salvage
bits of almost everything she had made me. The afghan in the
foreground was on the bed the night of the fire and although
dirty, it might just be fine. Other afghans and sweaters are
in bits and we'll need my sister-in-law, Kathy Seguine's
creativity, to make into our treasure of tomorrow.
Fortunately we had 712 bottles of Hay River Pumpkin Seed Oil
still at our bottler,
Oil Innovations, in Spooner, WI. We had just about sold
out of the first 400 bottles and look, the last six of that
Glass Art Some of our friends may not know this, but a long time
ago (1975-1985), in a land far, far away (Laguna Beach), Ken
was a glass artist. Started from nothing but ended up doing
storefronts on Rodeo Drive, art pieces in trendy restaurants
and worked with LA architects and designers of note. I
had long ago lost my main portfolio and had never kept much
of my own work.
This was from a piece that was my main exhibit at the
Laguna Festival of the Arts ("Festering of the Arts" as we
locals liked to joke) in the late 1980's. It consisted of
nine (3x3) glass pyramids made of stacked, fused window
glass, that was sandblasted and mounted on a wooden
In our new house, we will build an area that both of us
may use to make stuff again.
As I had mentioned in a previous post, both my parents were
crafty. I had a copper enameled plate made by my mom hanging
in my office. Just for ducks, I excavated and wonder of
wonders, it was there! Damaged, but I still have this
important memento from my mom.
April 9, 2010 PM, We were sad...
It was a tough day
at the farm, met with our very nice insurance gal, Jan
Robinson, then with Bill Haub to work on the hook-ups for
the stove and heater in the trailer. We intended to go into
the house to get the sweaters but were just overwhelmed with
tired and sad feelings. Today was not the day, we went back
to the motel in Menomonie. We continue to watch each other's
backs and be easy.
April 9, 2010 PM
Yet Another Crappy All Clad Product
don't get it, we paid big bucks for this 20 quart All
Clad stock pot, and the thing just MELTS. It must have been
upside down during the fire, that projection lower right is
a drip of aluminum. Buyers beware!
We loved this huge pot. Made our own meat stocks from the
chickens that we raised and the bones from the white Charlet
cattle raised by our across-the-road friends & neighbors Jim
& Jill Huber. They rent land from us and we get wonderful
beef. It is a great deal.
No big canning plans this year (especially in this pot).
We will again in 2011, raising and preserving our own food
is one of the reasons we are here
April 9, 2010 PM
Solutions for the Directionally Challenged
are some people in the Gilbertson-Seguine household that are
hopeless for knowing the vaguest sense of north, south and
the other 3 directions (don't tell Jay, he doesn't know
there aren't 5 directions).
You always wanted to think the house was aligned north,
south, but it was not. It was actually a northeast,
southwest alignment because of it's placement on our slope.
We had the north, south discussion too many times and I
finally painted a compass out on the patio. The concrete was
badly cracked and this was on the largest single in-tact
Lee Theorin, our general contractor, has already said he
thought that when our home is demolished and hauled away, we
should be able to save this and incorporate it at the new
This is my silhouette taking this picture.
April 9, 2010 PM
We're a Mess, They're Just Fine
Tulips seem perkily
unaware that a major disaster has just happened. Here and in
many places around the house, they are sprouting for a happy
Tulips are so very evil.
April 9, 2010 AM
The After Bedroom
Color/Important Salvage Operation Today
Ok, no surprise here, the most
commented on image we've EVER had on Facebook was regarding
that very peppy orange paint/purple curtain combo in the
trailer master bedroom. Here is Sam Dodge's work from
yesterday. Much calmer, I could sleep in this.
Today we're heading to the
farm this morning and have an important mission. The bedroom
of the house was one of the least damaged areas. Yesterday
Jay realized that there are at least bits of some of the
very precious sweaters and afghans that Ken's mother had
We will get what we can and
Ken's sweet sister-in-law, Kathy Seguine, has agreed to make
them into something. She loved my mom very much, they were
knitting buds and she even still has some of mom's yarn.
Mom always knit with
acrylic because "it will last forever" and always said that
whenever I wore or used anything she made I would be
surrounded by her love.
We're gonna find that
April 7, 2010
Busy Day with Good News
This is our new view facing
south, it's lovely and we could only partially see
this from the old (burned) house. For our friends that have
been to the farm, it is just beyond the outdoor chicken
pen. One point we need to make is that although the mobile
home was delivered yesterday, we're a week or so away from
moving in, there is a lot of work to do and we're living in
a motel until then.
Here's the day's accomplishments:
Arturo with AB Electric in Prairie Farm, WI
installed a temporary electrical meter & panel, then
measured and ordered 350 feet of wire to the trailer.
He'll bring electric to the trailer on Saturday.
Dunn County Energy was here, they will connect
electricity to this panel tomorrow.
The LP tank was moved and installed by Lakeland Coop,
thanks Rick and the other nice guy.
Friend and neighbor Sam Dodge worked on some of the
minor repairs that need to be done on the trailer
(MOBILE HOME!) before move in.
Met with well/septic expert and got some very good
news. He's 99% sure that we'll be able to use the well
and septic from the old house for the new house. The
dude just saved us about $20,000, and we won't legally
be required to do a mound system for waste water.
April 7, 2010
NO, NO, NO.
Ok, this is an easy one for snarkiness.
When you have the thought to decorate your own bedroom with
sunflower borders, yellow/orange texturized paint and purple
curtains, JUST SAY NO. Trust us on this one. Friend Sam
Dodge painted it all over today in the standard Navaho
White. We will sell the trailer back after we're moved in to
the new house.
April 7, 2010
Dear All Clad Refund Department...
Get a look at
this. Top of the line, 13" All Clad sauté pan, melted. All
Clad fuses stainless steel to copper with an aluminum
exterior. Just looked it up on Wikipedia, aluminum melts at
1220 degrees. It was so very hot in places.
Inexplicably, we found a box of un-melted candles today.
UN-MELTED! So kids. All Clad melts. Candles fine.
April 6, 2010
Sorta, Kinda Like Normal?
No, not just yet but
we're taking positive steps. We voted today (lost our house,
not our citizenship) it felt really good, we love to
vote. Went to the gym last night. Ken is working more and
beginning to actually be effective (beyond arranging
paperclips). So much to do right now. Jay just isn't able to
write yet and is taking on the job of managing the process
of getting everything done with the trailer set-up. The
mobile home (NOT trailer, watch it folks...) is used and
pretty worn but will be just FINE. Due to the
placement, some of the views are new to us and spectacular,
we will enjoy them.
Found a big, 13" All Clad frying pan out in the patio
area today. It had actually melted. Will post a picture
tomorrow. It must have been so very hot in the kitchen.
April 6, 2010
Of course the morning was not without
Town & Country from Eau Claire brought the rig up
through our pumpkin field then through the garden. The soil
was far softer than we had all thought and it just sank in.
Uh Oh. What to do, what to do?
April 6, 2010
The BIG Tractor
Well, what you do when you live in
a close-knit community is drive over to Jeremy Segebrecht's
place (he services our tractor, his wife Becky works with
Kelly Hoff and does our taxes) and he calls his
father-in-law Jeff Karlsrude. Jeff drives over on the big
130 HP tractor and makes short work of pulling the whole rig
Such nice guys, we were in a spot, really needed help and
they made us laugh while they did it. Thanks!
April 5, 2010
Yesterday, Easter Sunday, for the first time,
we accepted some help. We will be asking for much, much more
in the coming weeks, months and year. Our good and nearby
Kate Stout, has agreed to be the coordinator for people
wanting to come to our aid. Contact her by email,
Facebook or by phone (715) 455-1569.
The goal for the day was to clear a pathway from the
patio doors, through the kitchen to the basement stairs then
to remove the two feet of insulation and crud on the stairs.
As the fire started in the attic, the floor to the house is
still solid and stuff in the basement was pretty much
We think our friends were a little surprised to see just
how much we can (jar actually) the food we grow in the
summer. It provides the bulk of the food we eat during the
winter and we still had 100+ cans left of vegetables,
chicken and fun things like jam and maple sap.
All the cans were removed, packed in boxes and the
community will clean them up and take them to our next door
neighbors, Jim and Kathy Potter, for storage. We'll just use
their place as our pantry this next year.
We will also be removing the almost brand new water
heater, pressure tank and water softener from the basement.
It was hard for us to face our friends, the first time
since the fire. We are so very fortunate to have some
competent, hard working, take charge type people to help us
out on this first day. Big, big thanks to John & Connie
Huber, Jim Hare and Becky Glass and Paul Fischer.
As you can see, we are fortunate to have gorgeous
weather. This is the earliest spring in memory and the days
are warm and beautiful. Quite the contrast to the house.
We're Sad and Worked Hard Today
It was a hard day today. Ken gave up on work, we spent the
day at the house. We felt so sad driving north from
Menomonie. Our goal today was to salvage stuff from the
garage, the least hit place at the house. To our amazement,
we lost nothing and we have a convenient barn to
store stuff in. We had recently had some beautiful shelves
built by our friend and neighbor Sam Dodge. We used these to
store food and tools. Everything is fine. Not to be too
survivalist/weird but we did have 3 huge cases of toilet
paper. We were ready with TP for the apocalypse! Turns out,
we still are, it is in perfect shape. Stuff got wet but it
seems that everything has a packaging layer of plastic.
Ken was able to salvage a precious memento, a copper enamel
switch plate made by his mom. I actually thought I was
giving a half-smile. We are both so very sad, no way
The plate is from the living room and had melted. Copper
enamel work uses a base of copper then glass that is fused
to it. Some of our friends may not know but Ken was a glass
artist for some years. Glass get's soft about 1,000 degrees,
it was very hot in this spot but yet just feet away we had
medications in plastic bottles survived.
Gorgeous, windy day today. It is a little unnerving, the
house bangs and flaps in the wind.
April 4, 2010
When you have a farm and you also have
chickens you end up getting many, many chicken themed gifts
at Christmas. People, and especially kids, just love chicks.
We've never been shy about exploiting this either. Ordered
baby chicks to be delivered just before big family events.
Works like a charm, chicks are kid magnets!
Jay's friend Bonnie Lindner sent these two beautiful
metal 1960s era roosters. We had them out on our patio and
Jay was very pleased to find the one on the left today in
April 3, 2010
A Week Ago...
We can't believe it was a week ago
that Ken worked late (8:30 or so) we watched a stupid
video with popcorn (The Hangover) watched some news over the
internet then went to bed to be awakened around 2:40 AM. We
learned from the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram that our 911
call came in at 2:49 AM.
Is this all a dream? Did this really happen?
Today Ken tried to work and Jay spent the day rooting in
the rubble. We were both there late in the afternoon and the
cat did her first walk through the house.
April 3, 2010
Vases from the Basement
The one on the right is for
Ken's brother and sister, Ed and Janet. Lookie! Mom's vase!
Both our parents were creative, crafty type people, they
knit, did wood work, leather work, needle work, on and on,
always making things. Dad built mom a kiln in our garage in
suburban LA, mom made this vase. Who knew that one day we
would live in a place where real, actual deer are frequently
in the background. (and major pests for pumpkins, damn
April 3, 2010
Fam Farm Fest
Over the last few years we've evolved
one our favorite events, a family tradition where the
Gilbertson clan spends a weekend at our place. Like all good
marketers we've developed a logo and tee-shirts for each
year. Here are the 2007, 2008 and partial 2009 posters. 2010
is off but we all know, 2011 is gonna be a blow out!
One of our big goals with the new house is that we have
facilities so that Ken's family can join in too.
April 2, 2010
Fire is Funny
Well, certainly not like actually
funny but strange. Things burnt beyond recognition and then
there is the bedroom looking in need of a cleaning but
pretty much everything is in place. The fire investigator
okayed us to do some light excavation for possessions and
Jay already found a few things. Weirdly we have an entire
case of un-scorched tortilla chips and a bottle of Aveda
Confixor (hair product, Jay, not Ken) in perfect shape. How
can that be? Our only thought is if some how one of the CDs
of Jay's current manuscript might be ok in his office. It
was one of the hardest hit rooms but under 3 feet of
insulation and stuff, maybe there might be one? We'll have
to wait for the ok from the investigators to dig and see.
I'll show 'ya cranky! Hopefully not too bad but we are
both so stretched. Ken's #1 goal right now is to get back to
work, have had a few hours today and yesterday, on Friday
hopefully most of the day.
No way we can possibly keep up on the emails and Facebook
good wishes. Please just know we are grateful and are
humbled by all the love.
April 2, 2010
Met with the fire investigator today. Super nice guy. He's
investigating the cause of the fire, not us, and it could
last for a couple of weeks. He did give us permission to
root around in some rooms for stuff, and we found things!
The fire started in the attic and things in the basement are
in relatively good shape. We grow and can/freeze/dry as much
of our own food as we can and most of the stuff in the
basement will be fine. This includes our honey from Jay's
first year as a beekeeper. Those are some very precious
calories. We'll be bringing the stuff up then asking friends
and neighbors to clean it up and store it for us.
April 1, 2010
Well. You know what day it is. We had talked about
how evil and funny it would be to send out a message, "Oh
those fire pictures? We photo-shopped them, the house is
FINE". Evil, funny and unfortunately not the truth.
Kitty is living out in a storage building that used to
house our chicken coop. She can't get enough of us when we
Big day today. We obtained a mobile home yesterday for
our temporary digs, meeting this morning with their logistic
team about how to move it up our dead-end, dirt road street,
then meeting with the insurance investigators and then our
March 30, 2010
Used Computer, Priced to Sell!!!
This is Jay's computer CPU that we were wrestling with
during our final seconds in the house. We had diligently
screwed in all the cables and with windows exploding,
burning ceiling dropping on us we just had to abandon it. It
is our biggest loss with 40,000 words of Jay's newest
My company IT guy in LA told me about firms that rescue
hard drives after fires and our good friend, Mary Flanagan,
called to tell us the same. We said, "really?" thinking that
ours would be far too gone.
It was. All kinds of strange stuff that we don't even
know what it was is fused to the case. PC Doctor in
Menomonie confirmed that the drive is burned, corroded and
bent. No hope at all. Jay is not freaked and although we
have not had much time to consider, he'll get it all back.
Good news today from our insurance adjuster, the
mobile home is a go! We go to Eau Claire in the morning to
purchase, we'll be as comfortable as we can be during the
construction of our new home.
March 29, 2010
set up this page to share with our friends, family and
supporters, the loss of our home. At 2:30 AM Saturday, March
27 we awoke to find the attic of our house engulfed in
flames. Our beautiful farm is remote and we knew it would be
at least 45 minutes for the amazing local volunteer
firefighters to respond. We knew right away, all was lost.
For our pumpkin seed oil customers, the good news is that
the bulk of the oil was stored off-site and all of our barns
and farm equipment are fine. We will continue with the
planned expansions of the business in 2010.
Also good news is that we are both ALIVE and more
grateful than ever for every good thing in our life, our
amazing community and friends and family that have always
stood with us. We are so very rich in spirit.
No, no, no, we're not a all biased (ha!) but we've always
thought we are the luckiest people on earth to live on this
beautiful land. What a surreal picture - the gorgeous
landscape and the charred shell of our home.
One further bit of strangeness is about to happen. Of
course we farm acres and acres of pumpkins. We also have a
very large garden and have grown most of the vegetables and
fruit we eat year 'round. We also love flowers and
have major beds around the house. Last fall, for the first
time, we splurged and planted hundreds of tulips around the
house. Just yesterday we noticed that they are sprouting!
We're going to have hundreds of very happy yellow and red
tulips blooming around the charred wreckage of our home.
Very artsy-fartsy, will post pictures later.
It was an old farm house, built early in the 1900s then
massively remodeled (re-muddled as Jay likes to say) about
1990. Of course there were many things we wanted to change
but one thing we loved was the modest quality of the home,
definitely something that we want in our new place.
This is a little hard to understand but this is the office
where your pumpkin seed orders were processed. We're looking
in through a bay window. Ken used to be a glass artist and
some broken remains of his work are in the foreground.
Love the new "open air" plan but the color scheme pretty
much sucks. This is looking into our kitchen from the patio.
Just for contrast, here is a shot from just about the same
place. One of the highlights of our year is "Fam Farm Fest"
when Jay's wonderful family joins us for the weekend. With
our new home, we're planning on being able to accommodate
larger groups and have Ken's family join in the fun.
Family! What else is there?
Again, hard to tell what is going on but this is Jay's
office. Some of you may know that Jay is an author,
This is looking in though a window at what was once a wall
of books. The pattern is from the sun shinning though the
Normally we have chickens but not the last winter. When we
opened the door to run out of the house the cat, who was
also freaked, bolted. It was good to know that she had
escaped. Kitty has taken up residence in one of the out
buildings that used to house the chicken coop.
We're going to move in a mobile home brought on to the
farm for the next six months or so as we construct our new
Kitty is going to love it.
This is Ken on the right. I was actually trying to sort of
appear light in this picture but I'm struck by how very sad
I look. I am. No way around that.
We're both so very grateful to be alive. So grateful to
live in this most wonderful, supportive and loving community
of Prairie Farm, Wisconsin. We're just overwhelmed by the
outpouring of support.
We are also so fortunate and know we'll be fine.
As we drove away from the fire about noon on Saturday,
Jay asked me if this was the worst thing that has ever
happened to me. Well, no it is not. Nothing can compare to
the loss of family and friends. All this was just stuff.