Saturday, January 30, 2010

Somewhere between What Used To Be and What Quite Isn't Yet

We're still toiling along here in Falls City. Much has been accomplished though not much looks any different at this point. It's amazing how much work is involved in just getting the actual work done. And it's also amazing how, even though you think you've thought of everything, there's so much you don't even know you're supposed to think of to begin with. I suppose my amazement has everything to do with doing this for the first time.

The electricians began their work this last week. If you want to feel really stupid, just spend some time with an electrician. Any time you start thinking you've got the world by the tail and you're all hip and up to date with technology and stuff, just consider that every last bit of your prowess to do whatever it is you do with computers or phones or even just lighting up a room hinges on the magic of plugging something in. MAGIC. That's what it is. Magic on the other side of the outlet, magic on the other side of the phone jack. We're nothing without this magic and the magicians who make it all so easy for us. All I know about electric is that I want to be able to dim the lighting over the production area in the evenings so the visual attention will subtly shift to the pendant lights over the bar and the halogen spotlights will illuminate the wall art in a more dramatic fashion. The magicians tell us we'll need to add more circuits. We agree. Nothing exceeds like excess, you know. We have the circuit conversation a few times and now the magicians tell us we need to upgrade our panel (well, that and we'll need to spend another thousand dollars). When shopping for light fixtures, I want to think - "this fixture only comes with 3 spotlights, so I'll just buy 2 more and add them to the track." One would think "what could be easier"? One would be wrong. Now the magicians are talking to us about the wattage limits on our favorite fixtures. I don't mean to come off as a complete incompetent here. I've installed my fair share of fixtures and replaced more than my fair share of outlets. And I did watch as the service to my 100 year old home was upgraded to 200 amps just 2 years ago. I don't really know what that means other than that my ability to plug in more things safely increased at that time. But doesn't that count for something? I suppose that what it accounts for is the importance of realizing that there is and always will be something more to learn, something beyond the limits of what we currently know and have experienced. Something that might even exist outside of and beyond ourselves. It may be enough just to be thankful that there are magicians out there who make sense of what lies, for whatever reason, beyond our grasp.

This coming week will be more electrical work and the plumbing (don't even get me started on the plumbing magic...). Our mason is back from his week away and so the work of building the actual "oven" will commence now that the foundation pad and support walls are in place. We'll get reacquainted with the concrete truck and the pump truck and look forward to seeing them again yet a third time once the oven dome is done. Donavan and his crew will be working hard inside finishing up some new walls, installing some new doors and making the electrician and plumber's work a little easier. In the meantime, Keith will be increasing production to accommodate adding the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market this coming weekend. We'll be in Corvallis every Saturday through the 1st weekend of March.

The search for a mixer will continue. And the need to purchase plumbing and lighting fixtures will become more urgent this week. Somehow it will all happen. We're sure of that. As sure as we are that Spring's arrival is closer with each passing day. The daffodils are farther out of the ground and in greater numbers. The winter jasmine is threatening cheerful yellow blooms and the fragrance of winter daphne is now almost undeniable. Goodness is all around.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Decisions....Decisions.....Gutters.....and the Bacon Baguette....

We have a plumber!! and an electrician. After 3 weeks of meetings with plumbers, we made our decision today. As John said,"We won't have to sell a body part to pay for it." Well, maybe John will have to sell something to pay for the electrician. Perhaps an ear or something. We'll talk about it to see what he can spare. It's a very exciting turning point as the contractor and worker bees are almost at a stand still until the electrical and plumbing get under way. Well not exactly a stand still as they are at week 3 on working on the siding of the building, digging 2' trenches alongside the building (50' long) and filling them with gravel for drainage. They also have been busy preparing the wood storage area that is roughly 20'x 10' and will be fenced with a gate and a door only accessible inside of the bakery.

I think they are enjoying the slow time because tomorrow all the trusses, drywall arrive (and I don't really know what else). The contractor.....we'll call him Donavan, says that this is the biggest delivery yet. Dale, the mason, is going to Vegas on Friday for a week and will return back to work next Friday. Dale will finish up laying the 8" cinder block tomorrow. He is an incredible mason. I just like to watch him work. It is so fascinating to mix all the mortar and lay a ton of weight on it and have it hold. I think I like it because it is the consistency of frosting. The walls are 5 blocks high and 13'x14'. He tells the riff/raff that walk by that he is building a jail. So, while Dale and his wife are away in Vegas (seeing Bette Middler) Donavan will build the housing for the oven (trusses, walls, roofing, etc.) and when Dale comes back he will be working from the inside of the bakery and keeping dry.

Speaking of keeping dry, here we are, middle of Jan. and I squashed the first wasp and mosquito of 2010! It was 60 degrees today and sunny skies. We have daffodils coming already! All I say is we need some hard freezes or the bugs and slugs are going to be outrageous this spring and summer.

We have 4 doors on order and they should be delivered anytime. A solid glass door for the front of the bakery, a set of double glass doors leading out to the garden area and 2 metal doors for the rear and side woodpile entry. We are hoping to put windows above the oven. One on each side of the chimney about 10' up on the wall.

Keith has been eying these massive windows at Habitat for Humanity for a while. Okay, I bought them. And could only afford to buy them. They will be installed next fall or winter because we have to completely re-engineer the wall of the front of the bakery to support them. There are four of them...5'x7' tall, solid glass with a transom/crank window at the top that houses 12 window panes. They are wood on the inside and metal on the outside and tempered. We all know how much these would cost, but I got all four windows for the price of one window. I've been banned from going out alone.

We have gutters up as of about 6 hours ago~! (Oohhh, I just found the squigley....all these years). They stretch 50' down both sides of the bakery and we have 4 downspouts. We are coming out of the ghetto. The guys also pressure washed the west side today. Juan brought home 15 gallons of primer (tinted pink). The town folks are going to freak out when they see Pepto Bismol pink being painted on the building. I personally think we should leave it there as long as we can.

So today, we baked 96 loaves of bread for the markets this Sat. We are supplying 4 restaurants and 1 winery each week with bread. My goal is to get a dozen restaurants by July. Juan will be delivering some bread on Sat. in hopes to pick up a new one called Uncorked. Tomorrow, a new bread. The bacon baguette will make it's debut!!! Yes, the vegetarian in the house is so excited to make the bacon baguette. I must even try it to perfect it. It will be lightly seasoned with rosemary salt on the tops before going in the brick oven. Along with another 131 loaves to bake. It makes for a good nights rest and an early morning......Mornings.....hmmmm....they used to be so restful. Now I start by getting Dale set up and stacking all his blocks in rows, mortar boards at a certain height, the hose in place (hooked on the mortar mixer), breaking down the plywood that is supposed to keep people out and returning home to bake delicious bread. Don't forget to pull the butter out of the fridge so it comes to room temp by the time the first loaves of bread are out of the oven. Have you discovered using a potato peeler to get butter curls off of a cold stick/pound of butter yet? I personally pull the pound of butter out and use the cheese knife that is equipped with a razor blade.

We do love our life and each other. We are so fortunate to have our friends, family, community.... and John being so talented to play the piano as I write.

Thank you for taking the time to read. Off to dream about bacon baguettes.

Keith and John
The Bread Board....where food, culture and community intersect.

Monday, January 18, 2010

6 1/2 plumbers, 2 contractors, 4 worker bees, the county and 2 visionaries...

Here we go building the new home of The Bread Board in downtown Falls City....404 Main St. to be exact. Our space is an old tavern (apparently the seedy tavern after hours). Just our kind of place. Give John and Keith an old abandoned building that needs a ton of work, a great vision and we're happy!

It's been a week of meeting with cranky, expensive plumbers, nice electricians and cooperative county inspectors.

This morning the concrete truck and pump truck arrived to pour the foundation. A sleepless night last night wondering how it was all going to go down. I know nothing about pouring a foundation, but my biggest concern was, "did we order enough concrete to finish the pour?" I never doubted Senor Juan and his accurate calculations, but I think you should always have plan B. I still don't know what that plan would look like. Thanks to precise measurements and the online concrete calculator, we succeeded with enough to pour in a small wood storage foundation and an extra 1/4 yd. to boot! I got tears in my eyes watching it all unfold, but didn't want to cry in front of two concrete trucks and all the boys working diligently on Main St. Normally I dive in to help, but we have 2 very experienced masons on hand and once the concrete started to pour, they jumped right in and started shoveling, raking and screeding to a beautiful finish and me getting emotional. Besides, there is only so much room to stand in 13'x14'x18" of concrete right? They did a beautiful job and we all finished by putting our hands and names in the wet cement. It really is moving to watch it all happen. We say to each other, several times a day, "We're building a bakery!" Simply because neither one of us can believe it is happening...and happening fast!

We are in our 4th week of renovations. Demolition is almost complete. The old shake siding was taken off the building to put up new siding, but what we found underneath the shake was a nice surprise! 100 year old ship lap that is in decent condition, so we decided to continue that theme. We are putting it all back together now while making room for new doors, windows, electrical and plumbing. Keith needs to stay away from the bargain centers and adding to the contractor bill. The inside walls are framed and we now have a better idea of what the interior space is going to look like. Even better than we thought! We are so excited!!

While you are in the bakery, you can watch all the breads and pastries being made and pulled out of the oven. There will be a 4' wall that separates the production area from the bread counter. The space is about 30' x40' inside with concrete floors and 12' ceilings. We are using the old bar for the bread counter/espresso bar with a few added updates. Yes, we pulled out the beer taps (in hopes to re-install them when our friends Susan and Cheryl start their brewing business).

I won't put a curse on ourselves and give out an exact opening date, so we are just saying we will be baking in our new oven by summertime.

We are taking pictures along the way and they will be posted as soon as we have the time to learn how to download them.

Thank you all kind friends for your continued support as this would not be happening without you and your passion for bread and believing in our community.

Keith and John
The Bread Board...where food, culture and community intersect.