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Friday, December 26, 2014

Let the Sun Shine!

The U-District basking in a sun beam

Readout from one of our two inverters
We must be a little obsessed - the highpoint of our Christmas day was cycling over to the building site and watching the electric meter run backwards. There have been big changes from the last post, the roof is on, the solar panels installed and we're producing electricity.  The production meter isn’t hooked up yet, that will happen sometime in the new year.

Roof, solar array, siding, and bubble wrap rain shield
The roof itself went on very quickly, much to the detriment of the workers installing the siding. For some odd reason the gutters didn’t go on until they had put the siding on two walls.   Until then, every time it rained water sheeted down the slick metal and glass, cascading over them like Niagara falls.  They rigged up awnings out of bubble wrap and other plastic sheets they had on site.

So many things seemed to happen nearly at once, the doors are all installed, the insulation went in, the heating system is operational, and in the past week drywall has been hung and the interior painting started.  
Panoramic view of the top floor with drywall

We occasionally meet one of our future neighbors when we’re out visiting the site.  "Are you moved in yet?" they wonder.  The house is still lacking in some basic amenities, such as light switches, plumbing fixtures (aside from one bathtub that that is boxed in with plywood to prevent it being damaged) or even flooring.  

The garden
All the former lawn areas are now mud wallows. I did ask them to kill the grass.  But not the creeping rosemary or the lavender bushes, and I fear for the health of the pear tree underneath the rubble.
The original estimated finish date was Dec. 24th.  We’re hoping for March. 
I worry that the weeds will get a head start before I can get in a crop of ground cover.  I can’t plant anything until the cleanup is done, the last thing they do before handing over the keys.

Even so, it was a nice Christmas present to ourselves to finally have solar panels of our own.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet

Droplets on the bushes
Welcome to rainy season, mudslide season, and power outages caused by falling trees, their roots ripped loose from the saturated ground. Let no one say life is dull in these parts. We are very glad that snow, ice, and avalanche seasons are relegated to much higher elevations. I like the rain. There’s something exhilarating about cycling in the drizzle, or the roar of rushing water during a downpour. Except when you don't have a roof over your head.  

Framing the deck / porch roof
"I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in". . . 

No, we're not homeless, just roofless. The condo roof is being replaced, very slowly. We spent the dry season waiting for the roofers to begin. They waited till the rain started to fall (and once it starts, it hardly stops for months). They tore big pieces of the old roof off and then disappeared for days on end (skipping several dry days to go fishing, no doubt). They screwed two by fours onto the roof to keep their tools from raining down on us (only after I complained about falling tinsnips). These also function as little dams that hold the water back. The water then runs down the screws that penetrated the waterproof membrane and the plywood, and spills into the units below. So far we've had a stain on the carpet, a soggy sleeping bag and a camp stove full of water, and some very near misses with my violin and electronic keyboard. Some of our neighbors aren't that lucky.

"Raindrops keep falling on my head". . . 

Meanwhile. . . at the building project, we don't have a roof either. Most of the windows have been delivered and installed, the steel support is in place and. . .  the roofer that was lined up to do the work bailed out at the last minute.

Windows, steel, but no glass door.
Even if a new roofer started immediately, there's a two week wait for the materials. The backordered glass doors are also causing delays - the siding folks want the doors and windows in place before they get started. The schedule is a mess because interior work such as drywall can't be done until the building is weatherproof.  Right now, it’s even leakier than the condo. Every delay means more expense.

Tubing for the underfloor heating
“Rainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.” 
― Bill Watterson
On the plus side, the plumbing has been roughed in, most of the electrical work is done, the underfloor heating is in place and the framing for the walls is done. They're running out of things they can do inside. The longer we wait for materials and subcontractors to finish the exterior, the worse the weather gets, it's a vicious circle. At this rate, we'll be lucky if we can move in by Chinese New Year. Given that the painters want ten days of dry weather before painting the exterior I don't expect the house to be finished until sometime in mid-July. We watched Grand Designs for years, and thought we knew how to avoid the worst of the home building pitfalls. At least we had enough sense to laugh at their first estimate of being finished by Christmas Eve.

“The rain to the wind said,
You push and I'll pelt.'
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged--though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.” 
― Robert Frost

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Things are progressing in fits and starts:
We have rafters, temporary front steps, and plywood sheathing. Lots, and lots, and lots of plywood.  The whole house is covered in it. It reminds me of the Malvina Reynolds song "Little Boxes". Though ours won't look 'just the same' as everyone else's. At least we hope not. Certainly the antennas will make it stand out a bit.

Temporary stairs.
The steel that will support the
stairs to the entryway, the deck and part of the roof has been delayed. Until that is installed, the exterior work (and the solar panels, and antenna mounts) is on hold. Some things are moving ahead. Most of the windows have been ordered, and the plumbers have made a first pass at the pipes. Some of the interior framing has been done.
It's starting to look more like a house and less like a FEMA site (complete with blue tarps).

Preparations are in process for the radiant underfloor heating.  But there’s another snag. The bamboo floor that we wanted to salvage was so thoroughly nailed in, that the nails were driven all the way through the subfloor to stick out the underside. From the experience of one of our London neighbors, we know nails anywhere near radiant heating is a very, very, very bad idea.  In his case, several tubes punctured and water cascaded down the stairs. He was not amused.

Unplanned indoor water features are generally not a good thing.

We tossed a few ideas back and forth with the contractors:
A) Another layer of sub flooring (this would reduce the efficiency of the heating system).
B) A couple days worth of carpenters grinding off the ends of each and every nail (mind bogglingly dull, repetitive work, and it only takes one missed point to wreak havoc).
C) Rip it all up and replace it.
The safest option is C), so the floor has to go, and we'll replace it with cork.
Cork flooring = happy feet!
At last! Cork flooring, something I learned to love while working at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.  Quiet, warm to the touch and every so slightly springy, not to mention, it has a beautiful look. Cork flooring will cost a bit more than salvaging the bamboo floor, but we have become resigned to the extra costs that pop up at every turn. The thing about redoing old houses, you never know what you will find when you open it up.  Speaking of which, there is one small space in a bedroom that will not have underfloor heating.  It was part of the original front porch, and  there’s no space to install it. Apologies in advance you you stay in this room over the winter, the consolation prize is it has a stunning view (and extra blankets).

We've had a modest pear harvest, and I can see (but not reach) a half dozen quinces.  Perhaps with pruning and some TLC it will do better next year. The patch of lawn in back looks well and truly dead now that it’s had lumber and debris piled on top of it for months. Killing it off was the first step in planting something else there besides grass.
My poor beleaguered creeping rosemary is thriving, despite the concrete blocks the builders keep piling on top of. The shrubs are all wildly overgrown, the front looks like setting for a horror film. I've been dreaming of a mini-orchard of dwarf fruit trees in the parking strip, surrounded by strawberry plants culled from friends' gardens. Don't ask me where the time will come to tend this little Eden. We were hard pressed to salvage the basil plants before the roofers working on the condo demolished them. We now have a bag full of pesto pucks.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Remodel or Rebuild?

Remodel - change the structure or form of (something, especially a building).

The original house
Technically, we are remodelling the house.  The permits we applied for fall into this category. The city considers it a remodel job if one original wall is left in place.  When we were house hunting I used to have fun spotting the original wall in what looks like a shiny new house.

We're not actually moving many walls, but they did have to strip them all down to the studs, and replace some of that underlying structure in the process. Especially since they've found rot and substandard framing underneath.  A few novel approaches to incorporating what used to be porches into the flooring were also uncovered. It’s a good thing we haven't had an earthquake since the last remodel was done.

The 1980s remodel - note how the basic shape of the walls and front roof are the same.
Let’s be honest, at this point it seems more like a rebuilding project than a remodelling job. Remodelling brings to mind new kitchen cabinets and countertops, maybe some changes to flooring and paint; not entirely reconstructed walls and a new roof structure and windows. Our roof will be streamlined in the front, but the little bump out in the walls on the left will stay; the last reminder of the shape of the old house.
The local government website has photos of the house over the years - up to the shiplap that was exposed last month when they took off the siding. The photo of  the original house (top), a cute little cottage perched precariously on the slope is priceless from an historical standpoint. Another couple shots show how our neighbours' houses also expanded from their modest origins (some more than others). The landscaping has changed over the decades from bare grass to lush shrubs, to its current state of large sandy holes in the ground. The excavation for the footings did not turn up a lot of interesting artifacts, but there was one intriguing little bottle.

Inspecting the excavation.
Buried treasure, and old medicine bottle, with cork.

A couple weeks ago we went to a site meeting where two walls and a big chunk of roof were gone from the top floor, and we were beginning to wonder how much more of the house was going to vanish.  Therefore, it was heartening to see the freshly-poured concrete footings on our last visit.

The stair is gone, but not the steel framework that held it up.
At long last, the industrial steel staircase has been hauled away. The work has finally changed course from taking more and more pieces off the building to putting things back on. Though it doesn't look like much of a house right now, at least what is there looks solidly built.  The next exciting event will be when they pour the footings for the radio tower. Right now there are segments of tower lying in the weeds next to the garage and ground rods tucked away inside it. They have to do some more digging before these go in.
Meanwhile, we're continuing never ending the process of choosing colors and finishes and looking forward to when we can sit back and enjoy watching the house take form.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Let the Construction Begin!

It’s official, we have permits now, the contract is nearly ready for signatures and J. and his crew have been cheerfully chipping away the exterior (as we were leaving they were breaking up the concrete footings that used to support the front steps). Ironically we had a spate of dry weather until they started on the exterior work.

Ship lap on the lower half, and no front steps
We had the kickoff meeting on site with the architects and contractors on the auspicious date of Friday the 13th.  In less than a week since we were last there, they’ve pulled off a fair amount of the siding, removed several windows and torn up large swathes of flooring. Now that some of the siding is gone, we can see more of the original house and can see that a new floor was added on top, rather than insterted in the middle.  The ship lap on the lower part of the building shows that this is the original 1930's construction. 
I spotted some rudimentary seismic strapping on the east wall that was put in place during the last remodel job.  This offers a little reassurance that the place won’t collapse in on itself should we have a minor quake during the building process. As the demolition continues, they are still discovering things about how the house is put together, and we’re having to revise decisions as to what can be reused and what needs to be replaced.  Every time one of these issues comes up it means spending more money rather than less. I just hope they don’t find anything scary when they start working on the roof. 
The steel exterior stairs are still clinging to the side of the building as the only way in and out of the house, and a handy launching pad for hurling things into the dumpster. The contractors have found a used building supplies reseller who wants the staircase, and it must come down before the heavy machinery arrives to dig the foundation for the entryway and the radio tower. The toilet on the top landing of the exterior stairs has been moved to the back of the garage and replaced with the red enameled gas fireplace that we haven’t gotten around to listing on Craig’s list. The already overstuffed garage has about one quarter of the bamboo floor added to the piles of salvaged material.  An overgrown juniper bush has been removed from the south west corner, and  a couple small vine maples that are right up next to the house may have to go too. J. agreed to help kill off the lawn in the back by piling lumber all over it, I just hope they don’t flatten the lavender bushes in the process. We're on our second dumpster now, as they whittle away the house that we bought. It's scary to realize there's even more demolition to be done before they can start putting things back on again. We're going down to the studs.
I'll be adding web cam photos to this flickr album if you want to see how it's progressing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Details, Details, Details

They’ve taken away the front steps and all the decks.  The huge metal staircase is still there, it makes it easier to toss debris into the dumpster. It's now the only way in and out of the house.  For the past week there's been a toilet sitting on the top landing.  I bet the neighbors love that.

That first step is a doozy!
One night I drifted off with visions of towel rails dancing in my head; the next morning I woke in a panic about a picture rail. It's surprisingly stressful to decide on everything, practically all at once; too many variables and the fear that you've forgotten something crucial. The exterior alone will have a metal roof, cement siding, metal siding, window trim, cedar siding, decking, railing, lighting, doors, steps and front porch. Each manufacturer has a different range of colors, and staring at brochures and web sites trying to decide if the colors are accurate and how they will look together is making my head spin. Details, details, details!  Oil-rubbed bronze hardware looks nice alongside our furniture with bronze handles. . . but will that go with the quartz counter top we picked out? Unfortunately we returned the sample before checking that detail. The existing bamboo floor covers the whole upper floor. It will be sanded and refinished, but we don't know what the (limited) stains you can use on bamboo look like. How do we decide the finish for the cabinets if we don’t know what color the floor will be? No wonder I’m having strange dreams.

Simplify the problem of choosing bathroom fixtures - the all in one unit!
Bathroom fixtures are a nightmare unto their own. You would think that a manufacturer would have their individual design lines come with one of everything, so you could select the items you need and have one style for the whole bathroom.  Nope.  It doesn't work that way. I feared for D.’s sanity as he navigated particularly cryptic web sites trying to find all the parts in at least the same finish if not the same style, or even manufacturer.  I think he was successful, I threw in the towel and said, as long as it works, I don’t care. I'm not sure what he chose in the end, but it probably isn't this

Fog horn optional
We get side tracked by small details; hours spent on choosing the light to go next to the front door. Or, we’ve made what we thought was a great decision on something, only to have second and third thoughts.  You almost want to give up and say ‘surprise me’ (almost, but not quite, because we don’t like a lot the design trends we've seen). I envy my friends who are doing their remodel gradually. Yes, it’s very slow, but they have time to think about the different elements rather than decide all at once.  Sensible, but I don’t think I want to wait 5 years to move in. 
On the upside, we've found a solution to the big house next door blocking the view to Puget Sound. I passed the photo on to the architects saying I didn't think we'd have any trouble getting a permit for this small adjustment to the plans.  Maybe we can convince the Coast Guard to let us use it as a lighthouse, or air traffic control for the float planes. . . 

Friday, April 25, 2014

They're Heeeeeeeeere!

Telltale tracks of construction workers' boots

Sign sprouted in the garden
It’s been about six months since we bought the place.  No wonder folks keep asking if we’ve moved yet.  But Rome wasn’t built in a day and the ‘tendoory house’ wasn’t rebuilt in one either.  Things have to be planned, plans have to be revised, permits applied for, revisions submitted, etc. Gone are the days when you could invite a few dozen folks over and have a barn raising. Therefore, it was with great excitement that D. and I bounded (well, crawled) out of bed Monday morning, bright and early to greet the contractors at the house, and hand over the keys and a large check. We met the crew, shook hands and left them to it.
On our way out of the alley we passed a truck with a dumpster and wondered where they were going to put it. Turns out that wasn’t our dumpster.  There’s a lot of construction going on in the area.  Later in the week D. sent me an excited e-mail with a photo of a dumpster.  He's installed a web camera in the neighbor's garage with full view of the back of the house to record the progress. You can't see much because it's all happening inside right now.

Where have all the walls gone?
Thursday evening we snuck back to the house after the builders had left to see their handiwork. We were astonished at their progress. Entire walls are gone,; the ground floor is completely gutted!  You can see the skeleton of the house, where the addition was attached, the layers of flooring materials, and some seriously funky wiring that D. thinks was part of an old security system.

Glass block in the garage
We went back this morning for a meeting, and spoke to J.  the head of the work crew - “oh yeah, this is the fun part, tearing everything out,” he said. They are putting things in various heaps - drywall and other stuff that can’t be reused goes into the dumpster.  Building materials that we’re not going to reuse go into another pile for recycling / salvage. Fragile items are stuffed into the garage, until that fills up. . .

Nice shade of blue
We’re glad our neighbour moved his boat trailer from the back of our property, because it was right where they decided to station the portable toilet, nestled in among the lavender. They are doing their best to minimize the disruption to the neighborhood, and, so far, have managed to squeeze the unsightly paraphernalia into the back of the property. Despite my protestations that we really don’t care about the lawn (translation, we don’t own a lawn mower and don’t want to have to maintain it until it gets converted into a vegetable garden) they carefully set the dumpster down in the driveway. But I have high hopes that once the siding and roofing material arrives, they'll need to pile it on the grass. That is if it hasn't gotten too deep by then.
Found the walls
 The building project is underway at last; there’s no turning back now.  Before this week the house was perfectly habitable.  There’s still electricity (for now), though I'm not sure about running water. The furnace has vanished, there are holes in the floor where the ductwork was and very few interior walls. Just wait til they take the roof, siding, and windows off. . . there won't be much left but the frame and the basement.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Looking for ideas

looking for ideas
The house plans have now been submitted for permits.  They are, by no means, final.  Much of the detail (tiles, cabinetry, counters, colours, finishes) has been deliberately left vague in the interest of expediency. It takes a while to get approval from the powers that be, and meanwhile we can start looking into the elements that will have an impact on the way the house looks, but have nothing to do with its safety, structural integrity or building codes.  Gulp.  Other than choosing the replacement carpet for the condo, and one or two sets of curtains, I’ve never had much input to what my living spaces looked like. The peripatetic lifestyle has some advantages, but you soon become used to living with someone else’s taste in furnishings.  As I tell our friends, we know where and how high the radio antenna will be, and what auxiliary antennas we will have, and how the wiring is going to travel between the tower and the radios, but we have not really thought about the bathroom floor, or the kitchen counters, or even the front door. There are so many details in a remodel of this scope; it’s rather intimidating.  I hope we can do all this picking and choosing in a somewhat organised fashion, but so far it’s been haphazard, if not accidental.  

Not gold plated, but might as well be.

For instance, when we were asked about window height in the bathroom, we realized we had to think seriously about the bathtub we wanted.  We even found one on display nearby and tested it  (well, sat in it fully clothed to check for depth and comfort). 
This is not to say we’ve chosen the rest of the bathroom fixtures.  Just the tub. Actually, we found some plumbing fixtures we really liked, but they cost more than the tub.

Beware of bargains!
That very same day, we nearly bought a second hand gas cooktop, double oven and fume hood from the Restore.  It seemed like a good price for that brand, and the oven was virtually unused!  We were just discussing delivery options when our friend M (who coincidentally owns a van and is in the midst of his own major remodelling adventure) just happened to walk by.  We showed him the appliances, and he cautioned us against buying them.  1) We should wait until the kitchen layout is done before buying appliances 2) They will sit in the garage, untested for months.  What if we install them, and they don’t work?  3) We could probably buy better equipment new for nearly the same price, with a warranty (and installation) if we shopped carefully. 

As much as we’d like to make an artistic statement in our home, to keep the costs under control
Eye catching, but all those irregular shapes were hand-cut
the finishes will have to be fairly plain. I would love to use lots of beautiful hand made Motawi tiles, but we’ll have to limit them to accents in order not to break the bank. We’ve been to several tile and stone show rooms, only to stagger out overwhelmed by the choices of even the massed produced options.

How do you even start to pull a room together when the components come from different places? One helpful woman at Green Home Solutions suggested we pick out the big things first, floors, counters, cabinets.  Then work in the smaller details.  

Cabinets??? Floors???  egads. . . . something else to decide. . . .  
I’m beginning to understand the all-white, sleek, minimal look.  It’s easy.  
Look ma, no knobs! (something else we have to decide on. . . )

Friday, February 28, 2014

House: a large hole in the ground into which you pour money (and time)

We’re seeing the first signs of spring, and things are starting to happen, 

at last.

Crocuses in front of the Swedish Center

Typical modern Japanese soaking tub
We went to the Home Show and looked at doors, windows, counter tops, kitchen cabinets, railings, flooring, exterior materials, etc. until we were glassy eyed. We have to consider a lot of finishes, and hardware and it’s mind-boggling. Much of what was on display is totally unsuitable. The garden shed that’s bigger than our garden? Or how about the hot tub that seats ten and has a built in light show? There were a lot of hot tubs, most of them gigantic, some the size of small swimming pools. Don’t people realize how much energy they consume (not to mention water and (blech) chemicals? Here I am feeling guilty about wanting a one person Japanese-style soaking tub.

Brochures from the Home Show
The house itself remains empty and untouched (in other words, no, we still haven’t moved in yet), and possibly uninsured do to the complete incompetence of the insurance company who sold us the wrong kind of policy. But we are making progress, even if it isn’t visible. We have chosen a contractor, and spent considerable time with each candidate looking at preliminary budgets.

Today we participated in a charrette - a collaborative meeting between us, the architect, a structural engineer, and the contractor - to iron out some sticking points. The main problem being the remodel, as originally designed, would be significantly over budget. As it stood, the plans had nearly everything we ever wanted in a house, plus some extra space that we could easily do without. This propelled us into some serious thinking about what they call value engineering.  In other words, how to do as much of what we want to do without breaking the bank.  This calls for being creative with materials, and scaling back the project.

We really don’t need to make the house any bigger, but the plans extended one of the bedrooms in two dimensions in order to even out the facade and seamlessly tie in the front entrance to the rest of the house. It looked very nice on paper, until we saw how much it would cost. If we don't enlarge the envelope, and don't completely restructure the roof  (which would have required the
What to do with the roof
removal and rebuilding of the entire top floor to support the new shape) there will be less major engineering work, and less excavation. This kind of work is very expensive and best avoided if possible. However, it has been a real struggle to come up with a solution that doesn’t look ridiculous from the outside. We think we may have succeeded, though there’s an odd space on the ground under the top deck that may have to be a rock garden.
The roof is still under discussion. The shingles need replacing, and it really should have eaves extending over the walls (it occasionally rains in Seattle, if you hadn’t heard).  But completely redesigning it is too expensive.
While trying to finalize the rooflines, we looked at the plans, and compared them to exterior photographs of the house, and concluded some of the measurements for the front of the house
may be inaccurate.  This could have quite an impact on structural issues. Until the architect can get back to the house and double check a few measurements we can’t be sure what the answer will be.  There’s a bit of time pressure here, as the plan is to submit the permit requests in less than three weeks.

The basement will probably stay as it is rather than the radical redesign we first envisioned.  We're keeping the walk through bathroom intact, the only one, thank heavens that doesn't have horrible concrete countertops.  Various other elements have been jettisoned, such as a staircase between the back garden and the deck (everyone agrees the current metal monstrosity has to go). Along with a sweeping shed roof, we’ve cut out a catwalk with a view over Puget Sound.  The back deck will cover a smaller expanse, but have more useable surface area now that there is no staircase in the middle of it. However, after shivering through two cold snaps (the last one record-breaking) we decided the hydronic underfloor heating is not optional. Forced air heating is too unpleasant, and I’m willing to give up a lot for warmth.
Looking forward to next spring, when we might be able to enjoy the view from our refashioned home.

Fishing boat on Shilshole Bay

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Donald Bradtke 1922-2014

Reading on the porch
They say moving is as traumatic as having a death in the family. Recently, there has been a depressing trend for both things to happen in the same year. This time, my father died after a long and varied life. While he had been declining in the past few years, the final illness was mercifully short. I heard he was in the hospital in the middle of the afternoon, and by the wee small hours of the morning he had gone. He wasn’t perfect, but he was the best dad we could ever have asked for.  

He loved life, and people; loved to crack jokes (and his jokes were unashamedly off color or politically incorrect at times). His conversations were always punctuated with full-throated laughter. A lifelong athlete, he encouraged those of us with similar interests, and helped us develop our skills but more importantly, didn’t push the siblings who had no sporty inclination. He was always doing things for us, going hundreds of miles out of the way on a family car trip because I wanted to visit Nashville, or turning around and driving back to a motel because my older brother had left his beloved stuffed dog behind. He helped us move, we built things together, and he was always there when we needed him. He loved to sing with great gusto, and dance with abandon, though he freely admitted to a complete lack of skill in either art. I have fond memories of fishing, hiking and picnics in his company where we would dine on sardines and saltines with an apple or perhaps a piece of licorice for dessert. We would often laugh about his fondness for old world delicacies such as pickled pigs' feet or limburger cheese, but he was a true omnivore, and ate anything put in front of him with great enjoyment and gratitude. A child of the Depression, he learned early on to treasure the small pleasures in life and the people around him. It seems I not only inherited his blue eyes and high forehead, but his love of travel. I am and will always be a Coast Guardsman’s daughter.  
The Coast Guardsman and his other daughter, in the only boat we ever owned

Below is the obituary I wrote for him; it only scratches the surface:

Bradtke, Donald F., 91, of DeLand, Florida, died Sunday, January 12th, 2014.  Born in Great Falls, Montana, he was orphaned as a young child and adopted by his aunt and uncle, the Ebenroths of Chicago.  He studied business at Marquette University, where he also played varsity sports.  During World War II, he served in the United States Coast Guard on The USS Mosley, a destroyer escort.  He married Louise M.  DeCaprio in Boston in 1948, and together they raised four children while he continued his career with the Coast Guard.  He served as a personnel officer, including a tour of duty at the Coast Guard Academy, assigning graduates their first commissions.  The family traveled widely, including Guam, Juneau, New York, and Miami, but Florida was always his favorite location.  After twenty-seven years of service, he retired in Miami with the rank of Chief Warrant Officer (W-3).  He enjoyed a second career as an office manager for educational services.  In his leisure time he was an avid bowler and scout leader; he also coached and umpired youth softball and baseball, and was a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan.  The Bradtkes moved from Miami to DeLand in 1978, where in 1979 they established an educational business, Bradtke Educational Systems Inc., to help children and adults with special needs.  In addition, he managed the Amber Inn restaurant at the Putnam Hotel.  After retiring from his second career, he undertook various volunteer activities, joined the Kiwanis, and was involved in mediation, arbitration, and counseling.  He served on the Board of Directors of the Volusia County Mediation Services, the Deland Area Chamber of Commerce, the Public Safety Committee, Community Outreach Services, the Stewart-Marchman Center, and the Delinquency Advisory Board of the Juvenile Detention Center.  Following the death of his wife Louise in 2011, he spent the last few years living quietly at home with his youngest son.  Two sisters, his four children, and three grandchildren survive him.