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We left Houston to fly home with a clear heart today. Mom is doing very well. It is hard to believe that she was so critically ill this past weekend and so chipper this weekend. She is a truly remarkable woman. Rather than traveling to Houston last weekended, we had planned to finish the floors in the house. I teased Mom about her being sick getting me out of such a big job. As I said to her, “Oh, Darn!” In reality, I looked forward to getting home and finishing the floors.

The floors are the last set of being able to truly move in. I have some tinkering to do in the kitchen with the dishwasher but everything else is ready for curtains, furniture, and after 10 days of curing, we can put rugs down on the floors.

The floors have turned out to be a big deal. We struggled to decide on what product to buy. I was tempted by one of the truly hard finishes like the “traffic” ones used on gyms. Our floor is northern white pine which is remarkably sturdy but not as hard as something like oak. If you walk on it, or drag something thoughtfully on it or walk mud on it you are OK. Not much evidence of your passing shows. However, if you drop something heavy on it you got yourself a hole.

We have discussed this hole thing at great depth and decided that a 200 year old house would have dings in the floor so we are pretty much OK with that. I do recognize that I will have to do ongoing floor repair since holes and deep dings reveal the raw wood and that is where floors start to absorb moisure and then the rot starts.

It is for this reason that we were looking for a hard finish. After a lot of discussion I was the one that had picked the finish materials. I did not pick one of the super hard finishes. I was doing a lot of looking back wondering if I should have gotten one of the harder finishes. However, once we got into really looking, we found that the really hard finishes are something like epoxy and the finished wood surface is not dissimilar to the aluminum oxide floors where it is hard to tell from touching them if it is actually wood. Also, with softer woods like the pine when it tries to do its normal stretch and shrink routine the finish cracks. After purchasing the product–which is about the same cost as a semester tuition at a community college–I was relieved to finally feel I had done the right thing.

My spouse and I together picked the finish color. We had a test board from last winter we truly loved but thought it was a little dark and maybe just a tich too brown. I had planned to work with multiple colors from the stain group to mix just the right color but the whole floor thing got so out of control in the stress department we decided to just order one color and some clear to lighten it up a bit.

The stain color came and while it fit nicely in the three stage finish system we had it was a horrible color on white pine. Applied lightly it looked like an old lady wearing too much bright pink blusher. Applied straight out of the box the darker spots on the wood turned black and while it was beauifully rustic we decided trying to live in a house where the wood had character from forest burns just did not fit since this was a replacement house for one that burned down.

And on it went. I learned how to apply the finish evenly which was actually difficult since it took specialized tools and skill. We finally set aside the stain we had in the three stage system and went back to the stain color on my test board. I tested the top coat finish from the three stage on it and it worked perfectly so we figured it would work on the larger area.

It is going to take a long time to get the finish on the floor. The typical job accomplished by a professional with the right tools takes 1-2 days in prep and 1-3 days on the finish. It is unusual to apply more than two topcoat layers. I hope to get three down and maybe four. The number depends on the traffic in any area and how far I can get the product to stretch. We will do fewer coats in the bedrooms and more in the kitchen.

It was with images of flooring running through my mind when the plane made its bumpy descent into the Salt Lake City airport. For the better part of twenty years, when we flew back from some distant clime and arrived at Salt Lake City it felt like we were home even though we had one more puddle jump to get to our actual home. Last night as we flew into Salt Lake City from Houston it did not feel like we were home. It felt like we were in a familiar place but it was not a place where we took the emotional “home” breath.senic shot with evergreen trees in the foreground and all mountains in the long view

Yesterday flying into Salt Lake City was flying into an important milestone marking the journey to our post-fire home. It is in the high mountain desert and that, along with the fire, is part of our rich past. When I looked at the mountains as we flew in today I knew we had one more flight to go to get to our wet, Pacific Northwest place in the world where we can walk on the floors of our own home.