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(I think my ‘80s roots are showing – thank you, Chicago.)

We’ve gathered inspiration for our home from a wide variety of sources. I’ve been big on hitting the Parade of Homes tour the last few years. Of course, I never cared about the “average” houses. Oh no. If I was shucking out the bucks I was going to see how the other half lived. I love it when the doc’s in the area put their multi-million dollar homes up for show. My camera gets a real workout on those tours (sometimes just for the sheer ridiculousness of the excess). I also have 3 accordion files worth of stuff I’ve ripped out of magazines over the last ten years – BHG, Martha, Real Simple, etc. etc. (I know – what am I ever going to do with 3 files worth, eh? Recycle most of ‘em I expect. What I thought was “awesome” ten years ago I probably hate today.)

But MY biggest influence for this house? The heart of this home for me? The one thing I refused to compromise (much) on? That’s all A.B.

That’d be Alton Brown. Well…not him in and of himself exactly, but his kitchen. I’ve been a fan of Good Eats from the very beginning of the show. He combines my love of cooking with my engineer’s desire for science. And he’s so durn kooky what with the puppets and all. (If you’ve never seen this show, go now. Set your tivo, dvr, or vcr. You must watch it at least once. It’s the show that redeems Food Network for all that is Rachel Ray and her ridiculous “EVOO” crap.)

During the early seasons of Good Eats, AB’s kitchen was, well, “ew”. The show has always been designed to feel as if you’re sitting at his kitchen counter watching and learning as he cooks. And originally it was all about the science and hardly any measurements were given with the recipes. As the show developed a following (can you say cult? I knew you could.) the money rolled in and AB got a new set of digs. And I knew the minute I saw it, I wanted it.

When Josh and I started dreaming up our dream home, this was at the top of my list. “I want AB’s kitchen.” I tivo’d numerous episodes with good shots of the kitchen. (Thinking I’d later pull them up and take some pics of the screen if I couldn’t find anything else.) I scoured the internet to find out what I could. I knew the original was the producer’s actual home (I was a year or so late to get in on the ebay auction for the house). I knew since then they’d moved into a studio for filming. I was fortunate enough to find an article from Home Magazine that featured the Good Eats kitchen. Floor plan and all.

One quick look and I knew I’d have to make some compromises. Because a roughly 30’ wide kitchen was probably a bit of overkill for your average American family. (Ignore that scale they slapped on there – it’s not even close to accurate.) And shortening the plan meant I’d lose some of the options. As much as I loved loved loved those double wall ovens, shortening the width of the kitchen meant they’d have to be stacked right next to the fridge (besides the fact that I’d need to win the lottery to afford them). And I liked that bit of counter between. I also had to let go of the built in desk in exchange for some pantry space. And the 7’ long detachable island also got the ax (ouch).

But I was keeping what I really liked. An efficient open space. Hardly any upper cabinets and lots of drawers under the counters. A built in banquette for every day meals. An open plan to the living room. A whole wall of windows. I did keep most of the island – although I’m still trying to work out the whole angle bit. And instead of the double wall ovens (*sob*) we put a slide in range at the island and a cabinet for a microwave where the ovens went.

I also never did find any information on what the REST of the house looked like. I searched, I emailed, I made phone calls. Nothing. So if you’re out there reading this Good Eats people…thanks for nothing. J

We met with our geothermal heat contractor yesterday. He wears a funny hat too, but I didn’t get a picture. So this’ll be a boring post. : )

(For you “greenies” out there – the company we’re using, Hydron, is based out of Carthage, SD. Besides being ultra-efficient heat, everything is made within 500 miles of us. I think that’d get me some LEED points, eh? Not that we’re pursuing LEED certification. I’m just trying to incorporate as much of the concept as I can and have enough funds left to eat. Preferably 3 squares a day.)

For those of you unfamiliar with Geothermal Heat – here’s a great page explaining it. It’s got video and all.

They’ll be coming out to do some test borings pretty soon. The floodplain should be a great place for those four 700′ long methanol filled loops that will keep us warm and toasty in the winter and cool as a breeze in the summer. Not a lot of rocks to get in the way. At least in theory – that’s why they’ll be doing the tests. This is the Black Hills you know.

Anyway…it’ll be way cheaper and easier to put in horizontal loops down in the floodplain than to drill the 200′ or so deep holes needed if you go with a vertical system. (Guaranteed rock if you go that direction.) As an added bonus, they use a boring machine to do it so you won’t even see much disturbance when they’re done (read: no trenches) . I guess this really was a boring post…

The narrowing down of the location for the geothermal will also narrow down the location for our septic. Double bonus.

Still waiting on the Forest Service….and waiting…and waiting…

We’re moving along at a snail’s pace at the moment. One itty bitty inch at a time. The survey showed up in the mailbox over the weekend. Good news part one – we’re well out of the floodplain as I suspected. So one copy goes off to the bank to make them happy.

Beginning of good news part 2…remember all that Forest Service stuff I keep mentioning? Here’s the long version. In order to get onto our property, you take a gravel “road” (it’s more of a two track driveway at the moment, complete with weeds growing up the middle) that winds it’s way back past a rental cabin, comes close to the east end of our property, and then turns and crosses the Trail over to some other folks’ land. I say it comes near our place. There is a small triangle of Forest Service land between us and that road. I’m going to say each side of this triangle is about 15-20 feet. Seriously.

In long ago history, the old county road traveled through our property instead of turning and going across the trail. We have found the plats that show the old road and it’s easement. We can see the old dry stacked slate retaining walls in a number of places on our property. Here – just look:

When we bought the property, the gal who owned it before us had already applied for an easement from the FS. After closing on the property, we phoned them up to make sure she’d done it (she had), let them know of the change of owners, and make sure nothing else needed to be done. Nope, all set – you should know come May. We get a letter in the mail confirming as much. Come May, we call again. The guys on vacation. Mid-June rolls around. We finally get hold of the guy. “Oh – you need to have a survey submitted and then we’ll talk. August? Yeah – I’m doubting that’s possible.” Come over here on this end of the phone and let me strangle you, would ya?

So we take the alternate approach. Our builder goes and does a plat search. We find the plat for our place and the rental cabin that SHOWS the road easement passing through to our property. We’ll go around the damn FS folks if they can’t get it together. We go talk to the county – sorry, the FS still has to sign off. We take the plat back to the FS folks. “That’s nice, but it’s not on OUR maps, so you still need to have the survey done.” But at least now they say August is do-able. Sheesh. I hate bureaucratic BS.

So the survey is done. The plat now clearly shows the existing old county road easement running directly through that itty bitty triangle that is causing all the hullabaloo. This should make the FS happy and they should have no problems signing off on our easement. I stress should of course. They are the guberment after all and who knows what other hurdles they’ll make us jump through before they give us the official okay. Keep your fingers crossed…