Tag Archives: Piedmont Roofing

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 36 thru 41

before + after: chronicles of an 1820’s log cabin – days 36 thru 41
written by David
pictures by Stephanie

Day 36: First Day of School! Woo Hoo!

School Days

After 3 months of children trapped in and around the house, held fast in the lazy days of summer it’s 03Sept2013 and time for Easton and Scarlett to head back to school.

0600 hours rouse (read: rudely awaken) the Sleeping Angels, 0630 hours start breakfast and prepare lunches, 0712 hours the bus pulls up out front and in a wink the kiddies are off… rinse and repeat… 179 more times.

With the children off to school it’s time for me to start my commute. I wait, and wait as 3 cars pass by. Walking across the street I open the front door! Really unhappy about the delays this AM. I could chalk it up to the start of school… or if I could find someone  to listen I’d complain! Let’s face it, pedestrians do have the Right-of-way… right? OK, so I’m not going to get any sympathy, especially after 4 days of R & R at the beach, I’ll stop!

The first thing I noticed when I opened the front door was that the construction fairies hadn’t bother to show up. I’m seriously considering sending a strongly worded letter to their union. Ya know you just can’t get good imaginary help anymore. Oh well, Numero uno on the list this week: dry-in the mud room. I noticed that while we were at the beach the new entry doors had arrived. Before they could be installed, the exterior of the space had to be wrapped in a vapor barrier. I am using that ever wonderful Tyvek House Wrap.

Tyvek Wrap

How did we ever get along without this strong and very effective barrier? Grabbing the slap stapler and filling it with T50 staples, I cut a length of House Wrap and scale the ladder. Holding the wrap in place with my left hand, I swung the stapler at the wall with my right…THWACK, THWACK…THWACK! I let go of the wrap and it drifts peacefully to the ground. What the…ahh, Crap! My hopes for a quick install are dashed! For the record, 60-year-old plaster over wire lathe is damn hard… there will be NO slap stapling! Bring on the roofing nails! I hate roofing nails! Bound to flatten a digit during this operation… only question is which one will it be this time… index or middle? (Note to Self: the time has come to a purchase a Pneumatic Roofing Nail Gun.)

The first day back is a good one, albeit a little slow. The mud room has its new door and window installed and is ready for exterior trim and siding, Won’t be long until we insulate and hang drywall.

Day 37: A Mini-me Hip Roof for the Cellar Entrance

The cellar entrance is located on the west side of the house in a “bump-out” extension of the front porch. Previously, the entrance was enclosed by a gabled roof attached to a full height wall that made up the west end of the porch. The wall completely blocked the western view and restricting sunlight to the front of the house. With the demolition of the old porch roof, the wall and the roof above the cellar entrance met a similar fate. So, starting with a clean, although out of square rhombus-like slate, it was time to design and construct an enclosure that would: protect the entrance from the elements, add an aesthetic flair to the side of the house, not restrict the western view from the porch and allow natural light to flood the living room. Solution: a knee wall at approximate rail height, finished on both sides with Hardi-Plank Siding and crowned with a wide, 16″ +, top that will double as a bar or serving area while entertaining on the porch. Above the cellar entrance, a new hipped roof keeping the profile low,. giving the space definition and interest. Once the entrance area is finished, including a water-table of El Dorado Stone with Hardi-Plank above, it should look like a small Spring House.

Cellar Roof

Day 38: So, the new painted-steel roof is going on… Saturday? Really?

It’s Thursday. The roofer is coming on Saturday. The old tin roof on the log cabin is still in place and the roof on the back of the house is still topped with shingles. A cursory inspection from below indicates that the purlins beneath the existing tin are beyond help and will have to be “decked over”. I will be using 5/8″ CDX plywood. The overhangs on the west side of the house appear to be well beyond help, they will most likely need to be removed and re-framed (Thank the gods it looks as if the overhangs on the east side are salvageable). OK, did I mention that I work alone? Well, I’m committed, or perhaps I should be, either way I must have the house ready for a new roof by Saturday morning and continuing to procrastinate will not get me or the roof any closer to that goal. With help from the Owner and working in tandem, one of us on the ridge and the other on a lower roof, we quickly and if I say so myself, efficiently stripped the old tin from the main roof. How do you get started you ask… well, using a crow bar like a large an unwieldy can opener you, for lack of a better word,  “open” the ridge. Then, sliding the crow bars up and down the seams you lift the aging clamps. Working from the end, you roll the panels onto themselves until they noisily plummet from the roof landing in a twisted heap on terra firma… BOOM, nothing but net. Once the metal was gone we were able to closely inspect the condition of the framing and the purlins. I can not begin to describe the condition of the purlins, save to say they looked as if they had been in a fire. I guess if you spent a century under tin with the sun beating down on you day after day you would be dry, brittle and what appeared to be charred, too.


Also free of tin, we were finally able to get a close look at the gable overhangs. As was evident from the ground the overhangs on the west side of the house where, in a word: HISTORY. On the north side of the chimney I lifted, by hand, the end rafter (actually a crudely shaped pine sapling) along with the outriggers and trim and casually tossed the entire structure to the ground. The south side overhang was not in much better condition although the removal of the end rafter, outriggers and trim did require the use of a crow bar.

Down on the lower roof prior to beginning removal of the shingles the Owner an I examined a chimney that had been connected to a wood stove in the kitchen. The wood stove has been removed so the chimney was no longer necessary, In fact it was a bit of an eyesore so we decided it had to go. After a brief discussion on how to remove the chimney (pulling with a truck or a coffin hoist) and how much damage said removal may cause to the back of the house I leaned on the top of the chimney and it moved. That’s right…MOVED.

Rear Chimney demo

After further examination, we cut the counter flashing at the roof and with a small push the chimney when from vertical to horizontal in 2 seconds! Best part… no damage to the side of the house because it was not affixed to the side of the house… the only thing holding it up for 60 years was the roof flashing and caulk. WOW!

Back on the main roof after removing the gable overhangs I was planning my next move while on the lower roof the owner stripped the shingles. For the record, I have something to say with regard to the homeowner, “I would work for or with him ANYTIME… ANYWHERE… PERIOD! End of story!”.

So, it’s 3:00 on Thursday afternoon, there is no framing for the overhangs on the west end of the house, there are 18 sheet of 5/8″ CDX plywood on the ground that need to be attached to the roof by Saturday morning and my help, the Owner, needs to leave in 30 minutes. A sane man would call and postpone the roof… quick, somebody find me a sane man. None available? OK, game on! Before leaving, the Owner was kind enough to help me get the 18 sheets of plywood and a hand-full of 2″x 6″‘s to a bracket I had installed on the lower roof. With my safety harness and rope carefully stowed in my tool bag (I wouldn’t want them to get dirty and a 7:12 pitch roof is walk-able…right?) I begin the task of rebuilding the overhangs and adding additional rafters to the roof framing. Generally, the first rule of construction is: everything shall be square, level and plumb… except when working on a 200 year-old log cabin.  When working on a 200 year-old log cabin the first rule of construction is that the first rule of construction is irrelevant! What is important is that in almost every non load-bearing case the new construction will need to match the amount of out of square, out of level and out of plumb as the closest adjoining member. Keeping this axiom in mind I began my all out assault on the Western Front… that is the gable on the western end of the house, Working off ladders, inside on the second floor, or from the very sketchy purlins on the roof I move across the west end of the house with cat-like precision. I have no idea how many trips, up and down from the roof, I took to complete this effort… lots, comes to mind. For efficiency sake, if there was such a thing, I had set up two stations each with lumber and saws (one inside on the second floor the other outside on the roof) for cutting new end rafters, outriggers and blocks. I assembled the new gable ladders to hit the new chimney while matching the existing profile of the long ago settled roof as closely as possible. With the new overhangs framed I claim a small and possibly insignificant victory. Day is done. Gone the sun… tomorrow I deck!

Gable overhang

Day 39: I roof alone! Yeah, with nobody else. And you know when I roof alone, I prefer to be by myself!

Friday morning…0730 hours coffee in hand and the decking is still in a pile on the back roof of the house. Once again those inept construction fairies have left me holding the bag…damn them! Oh well, George Thorogood drank alone, perhaps I should have considered that, but it’s too late now. Now, it’s time to roof alone and that pile of plywood decking is not going to move itself up and onto the main roof. So, one sheet at a time, starting at the newly framed gable overhang I work my way up and across the back of the main roof and in relatively short fashion, the backside of the roof is finished. An item of note: saw dust on roof decking is slippery! With the safety harness and rope still in protective custody I opt for toe boards… I’m crazy… not insane! Besides, I have 9 sheets of decking that magically need to crest the ridge before firmly ensconcing themselves on the front of the house and that will require leverage (and lunch)!


Now the front/south-facing side of the roof really took the brunt of the sun for all those many years and the purlins side on that were a complete mess. Several had taken the easy way out, committing Hari Kari leaping from the roof to the floor below, leaving gaping holes in the roof line. Others, rested peacefully in place with out a nail or fastener to be found. Another note to self, be very careful what you grab onto for support!

Working from the newly deck back side of the roof I lift the first sheet of plywood up over the ridge and slide it down the front-side roof. Using the uneven nature of the existing purlins I temporarily  anchored the plywood against one of the old  metal roof clips that had not yet been removed and I climb down off the main roof. I slip out a second floor window onto the porch roof to muscle the first sheet into place. From the porch roof, the sheet slides easily down the roof into place and I nail it tight. Easy…right? One down…8 more to go! With the first sheet in place giving me a straight edge to work from I decide to try installing the rest of the plywood from the main roof, saving myself all the climbing. Once again, the sheet slides easily up over the ridge and down the front side to rest against the top edge of the first piece. I move myself into position and start to work the plywood towards it ultimate destination. My hope was to get the two sheets aligned and then slide the second sheet along the edge of the first sheet into place, were I could tap it tight and nail it. Somewhere between items 1 and 4 above an outside force tries to take control… GRAVITY. Thus began a 10 minute battle of wills between me… and the Forces of Nature! Gravity, that wily and crafty B@*#H, was using every element at her disposal: the slope of the roof, the weakness of the purlins, the weight of the plywood and distance to the ground in an evil attempt to either drag me from the roof to my death or force me let the plywood drop to the ground. What ensued was Mexican standoff of epic proportion… me refusing to give…GRAVITY trying to make me cry! In the end all I can say is that the plywood is in place (it never left the roof) and both GRAVITY and I live to fight another day. Once scorned… I will have to be on my guard.

Day 40: 8:00 AM… are the Roofers there yet? P….lease,  real roofers don’t even think about starting 10:00 AM!

10:01 AM and the white trucks from Piedmont Roofing roll into the driveway. Piedmont Roofing owner, Tim Reid hops out of the lead truck and together we walk his crew chief around the house describing the job. The rest of the crew wastes no time setting up the steel, the Roll-Former and hauling all the tools out of the truck. By 10:15 AM 3 guys are on the roof rolling out the underlayment/ice break while the other 2 are on the ground running pans.

Piedmont Roofing #1

There is no wasted motion or chatter. Every member of all his crews know their job and their responsibilities to keep the other members of the crew moving. The Piedmont Roofing Crews and Tim Reid absolutely do not fool around, these guys are good. This is the 6th roof that Tim and Piedmont Roofing has installed for me and I would highly recommend him to anyone looking for a metal, shake or membrane roof in Virginia, Maryland or Washington D.C. His crews are fast, accurate and always make my roofs look good, No matter how rough the old framing and decking might be. I can not begin to tell that having someone you can trust to deliver a product that is one of the most visible elements of a renovation is paramount… when working with very old homes it is critical! With a single crew working on this project Tim and his guys will most likely be here for the next two and a half days. For me, time to finish punch-out framing for drywall, install the windows.

Piedmont Roofing #2

Day 41: First day of NFL football!

Let them play I say, I got work to do. I thought the roofers might show to try to finish today but no such luck. Me, I have an exterior door to install in the kitchen. The new door will replace an old window and will lead out to a new deck that will provide an awesome view of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. Additionally, I have existing windows to remove and new windows to install.  Not to mention the ever-present framing and blocking to get ready for drywall. Next week the exterior trim arrives and the outside will really start to take shape. No rest for the weary… gotta have this place ready for the Holidays!

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before + after: “four oaks” on telegraph springs road

before + after:  “four oaks” on telegraph springs road
written by David
pictures by Stephanie

Telegraph Springs Road is a classic Virginia Country Byway following the roll of the land from Philomont to Purcellville. The graded gravel travel way is lined by three and four board fencing that enclose grand equestrian estates, small well maintained “Gentlemen” farms and a mix of modest to grand single-family homes. The house that stands closest to the roadway is, Four Oaks. It is so much more than just another address, this small well-lived in house was once home to a family of 14 and over the years the house had become a community eye-sore of epic proportions. Constructed in the early 1900’s as one of four “Farm-Hand Houses” to a nearby Quaker farm, Four Oaks had seen more than its share of life and through that life paid a heavy price. The once proud clapboard exterior was now clad in a sad dingy aluminum. The once stately standing seam metal roof had been replaced by tired asphalt shingles. The roof above the screened front porch was rotted through and in danger of collapse, as was the shed roof above the kitchen and enclosed rear porch. The state of the six-room, center-stair interior was in a word, shocking. In general, the house (and I use the term loosely) as well as the one-acre property on which it was sitting, was indeed a horrific mess. Yet, there was something about the place that screamed…SAVE ME! Somewhere, beneath a cocoon of grime, dust, decay and the over-growth was a diamond. A spectacular, multi-faceted butterfly waiting to be released.

Four Oaks before demo

…and so, just after the New Year 2013 the task of unraveling the cocoon began.

Now, taking a two-story; two-bedroom, one bath hovel and transforming it into a three-bedroom, two and a half bath jewel is without a doubt both an exciting and daunting prospect. Completing this metamorphosis without the benefit of being able to expand a tiny 590 square-foot foundation…a horse of another color.

I reminded myself that “Form Follows Function” as the pencil went to paper and a simple, efficient and very livable floor plan began to materialize.  Gone, the center stairway. Relocated to a corner wall, opening up the main living area and providing space beneath for a powder room. Across the entire back of the house a cooks kitchen complete with semi-custom cabinets, a 5 foot-wide aisle, custom mudroom closets and built-in banquette seating with lift-top storage.  To make the house live and feel larger, the ceilings on the upper level were vaulted to 9 feet. At the top of the new stairs, within the walls of the original structure, a slightly over-sized full bath and a pair of small yet comfortable bedrooms. Above the kitchen, the only option for additional square footage, a new and amazing master bedroom with a fabulous in-suite bath. I could go on…but I will save it for later in this post.

As you can see in the photo above on the surface, Four Oaks was indeed in deplorable condition. In the end, the sheer number of layers, may have been Four Oaks salvation. There were four layers of material covering the floors, essentially “protecting” the original Heart-Pine. The several disgusting layers of material on the walls, both interior and exterior, truly served to protect the underlying elements.

As originally constructed, the interior walls and ceilings were finished with tongue and groove Heart Pine installed on the horizontal. Talk about some serious lateral bracing! This method of construction kept the building square and level, helping the foundation resist the ravages of differential settlement. It was the very solid “bones” of this house: the stout foundation and intact balloon framing, that made this a restoration project instead of just another tear-down. I wish we had been able to restore and expose some of the original wall finish. I think it would have been a beautiful, warm and unexpected treat. Unfortunately, heart pine walls had not been treated kindly over the years, they were riddled with holes, nails and cut-outs, and so they were instead treated to new drywall and fresh paint.


From the start of the demolition through framing resurrection… the plan for the interior and exterior finishes of the project was dynamic. While the real nuts and bolts of the plan remained static, that is to say the kitchen remained the kitchen, the stairs would be relocated to the corner wall and the new master suite was going in above the kitchen. Dynamic were the elements and “opportunities” discovered or uncovered during the frame-up that could and would go on to become focal points. Constantly thinking and planning as the project evolved to ensure that no “stone” was left un-turned with regard to creating those much anticipated unexpected features. From preserving a rough sawed beam that frames and anchors the stairwell, or imagining old window framing (now interior walls) as shelves or wine racks, to salvaging flooring to be re-purposed as a back for a custom shelf unit or the rehabilitating of the shed over the cellar access.

Four Oaks after renovation

The true joy of this project was that it was always all about finishes and unexpected details. The exterior was to be as maintenance free as possible. Hardi-Plank with vinyl trim and new Lincoln Windows of full wood construction with a vinyl clad exterior colored to coordinate with the final trim color. Big, bold yet simple square edged trim. Including the water-table and freeze, give the house presence…a sense of place. The vertical break in the siding was planned and matches on both sides to give the finished structure a feeling that it had grown and evolved over decades not just over months. The porch roof line was changed from a “shed” to a “hip” giving the porch the stature it deserved, a fitting place to sit and enjoy to view of the Blue Ridge to the west . The new roof is anchored by tall square posts square trimmed with eased edges completing the classic look.

Four Oaks after renovation

Four Oaks Exterior #1

The solid wood entry doors are by Lemeaux; custom stained, finished with Sikken’s Window and Door (simply the BEST exterior finish ever!) and fitted with beautiful Oil-rubbed Bronze Hardware. The entire house was crowned with a new standing-seam painted steel roof, in Dark Bronze, by Piedmont Roofing of Middleburg, Virginia.  The ceiling above the porch is tongue and groove beaded Fir, left natural, and finished with Sikken’s Window and Door to allow the beautiful rich golds and reds of the Fir to show through. An unexpected detail: the small overhang above the back door was finished with same treatment as the front porch and was fitted with small recessed lights, down lighting the back stairs.

One of my pet projects was the shed that provides access to the cellar. It was literally falling off the house in January when we started. I painstakingly re-framed the tiny structure adding the shed roof and trimming it to match the house. I insulated and finished the interior. The roofers fitted the piece with a new painted steel roof and I built, stained and finished the door, from scratch, to mimic the other two exterior doors. The carriage lamp, matches the front door. It looks every bit the “big boy” entrance to what would make a very, very cool stone lined wine cellar!

Four Oaks Exterior #2

If the exterior is a reflection of my overall aesthetic then the interior is the embodiment. Boasting full six-inch baseboard with cap and shoe as well as full six-inch picture framed window and door trims. All of the interior doors are solid wood two-panel Shaker-style with substantial oil-rubbed bronze hardware. They really feel like a door when you close them. All of the bathrooms are fitted with electric radiant heated natural stone floors. The floor in the main room of the house is the original Heart Pine flooring and all the other floors in the house, with the exception of the bathrooms, are new Heart Pine. All of the floors were sanded and then hand-rubbed with a custom mixed stain before being finished with three coats of Tung Oil.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is a statement in simplicity. White cabinets, black granite and stainless steel. The white Shaker-style semi-custom cabinets with soft close drawers and doors are from Wolf Classic Kitchens and are made in the USA. I absolutely love these cabinets and have used them on several other jobs.

Four Oaks Kitchen #1

I’d like to think that the kitchen cooking and prep areas not only comfortable and well planned but that we were also able maximize use and storage in the entire space.  There is a “mud room” area with a custom built-in closet at the back door. The eat-in area features custom built-in banquette seating with piano hinged tops that lift for storage. Above the banquette, in what was once a window, a custom built-in wine  or spice rack. There was still a little room left so I designed and built a custom closet to hold a full-sized stacked washer and dryer.

Four Oaks Mud Room #1

The floor in the galley style kitchen was feeling a little long so I decided to break up the run of flooring by inlaying a slate-like tile in the travel way between the sink and range. The frame had to be perfectly square, the perfect length and width to complete the install without needing grout. I guess even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then!

Four Oaks Kitchen #2

The Powder Room

The powder room is full of unexpected details. If the exquisite sink and faucet are not enough perhaps the extraordinary rusticated and heated slate floor is of your liking? Maybe it’s the wonderful oil-rubbed bronze light fixtures? For me, the CHERRY is the base that the sink sits upon! I shaped the front using a log salvaged from an 1850’s log home. The side pieces were salvaged from the cutoff of a rough sawed floor joist from this very house. The plugs I used to cover the screw fasteners were cut from salvaged Heart Pine flooring. I hand sanded the piece until it was smooth and splinter free and finished it with a hand-rubbed custom stain topped by Sikkens Window and Door.

Four Oaks Powder Room

The Living Room

The main room of the house is unbelievably warm and welcoming. The once rough and very scary floor is finished to perfection. The panelized wall that greets you when you walk through the front door was laid out to highlight art and conversation. The maple and wrought iron stair rail was designed and finished to illicit comments and thoughts of a bygone era. Again not wishing to let any space be wasted, I constructed a hidden door, on a piano hinge, in the paneled wall for access to storage under the stairs. One of my thoughts for this space, other than storage, was that with a slightly reconfigured door it would make and awesome dog house or playroom.

Four Oaks Living Room #1

Four Oaks Entrance

Four Oaks Living Room #2

The Stairwell

Oddly enough, the stairwell is one of the most interesting places in the house. Flooded by light from a window on the landing this space possesses four of my favorite unexpected features. The rough sawed beam above the window revealed itself during the framing of the new stairs. I protected it from the tradesmen, drywallers and painters until it was time to apply finish. I think it truly completes this space. Above the header at the start of the stairs I added the small display shelf…you know, it just seemed fitting. The custom built-in stepped book shelf, ROCKS! The taller area of the shelf is an old window location. I captured the adjacent area between two studs in the wall framing to give the shelf some life. In the back of the bookcase.. .the old flooring from the landing at the top of the stairs…I let nothing go to waste. Finally, for me it is the chandelier that finishes the space and really makes you stop and say, “WOW!”.

Four Oaks Hallway

Upstairs, in the original house you will find an over-sized full bath and two small bedrooms. While small, I again want to believe well planned and sized with both an empty-nester and a growing family in mind. Each room, with their interesting nine and one-half foot vaulted ceilings, are large enough to hold a queen-sized bed as in guest rooms for an empty-nester or a set of bunk beds in one and perhaps a loft bed with a desk beneath in the other for the growing family. The full bath is bright and airy even though there is no window. The bathroom door opening outwards was planned to provide the maximum amount of internal space in the room.

Four Oaks Hall Bath #1

Four Oaks Bath & Bedrooms

The Master Bedroom

The Master…ah yes, the Master Bedroom with its fabulous in-suite bath…this just might be my favorite room in the entire house and…the only room that did not exist in January. Where to begin…three windows letting in copious amounts of light and views of the magnificent trees. The room was sized to fit a king-sized bed placed against either of two walls depending on your feng shui consultant. Custom built-in closets a full nine feet tall…his and hers…designed and constructed with two purposes in mind: One…fit the overall aesthetic of the room and house. Two…provide separation/privacy for the in-suite bath. Sliding between the two custom closets is the final unexpected feature…an 8 foot tall paneled door rolling on barn door hardware (darn, Stephanie can’t find the picture of it)! BAM!

Four Oaks Master Bedroom #2

Four Oaks Master Bedroom #1

The Master Bathroom

The Master bathroom is a Travertine Marble clad oasis. The floor…heated Travertine. The shower…ah yes…the shower… Travertine Marble from floor to ceiling. A carefully planned mosaic pattern mimics a waterfall on the far wall before merging with the mosaic on the shower floor. In the end…it is hard to believe, even for me and I did it, that all this grandeur is shoehorned into a six and one-half foot by nine and one-half foot space!

Four Oaks Master Bath #1

For the record, this once old and ravaged home was an unbelievably comfortably place to work and it is now in a condition to last for generations. The neighbors and the neighborhood are amazing, welcoming and protective. Telegraph Springs Road: where residents stroll, walk their dogs and… yes, even ride their horses. These same neighbors greeted me daily, monitored my progress, thanked me for what we were doing and advised me that our work was a fitting tribute to the former owner… a much loved local fixture.

And so to you Four Oaks, I raise this glass! Live long and remain PROUD!

In closing, I must first thank my good friend Brice Leconte and his beautiful wife Stephanie. Brice purchased this property and funded the renovation. Without him this jewel may have ended up as just another pile of rubble at the landfill. Brice’s wife, Stephanie Leconte, is a gifted and talented interior designer with a bright future ahead of her. Stephanie chose all of the colors (interior and exterior), fixtures, tile and hardware throughout the house. She was also the sounding board for my design ideas. Additionally, I would like to thank my beautiful and patient wife Stephanie, as well as our children, Easton and Scarlett. My Stephanie helped me set and grout every single piece of tile and marble in this house. She was also with me, side-by-side, over several late nights hand rubbing the stain into the floors and mopping on the Tung Oil finish. Thanks also to our loving children who watched much of their first month of summer vacation from the inside of a house under construction. Finally, last but not least my gratitude to the new homeowner. This home was sold at the beginning of this month and the new owner, who from what I can tell, might just love this place as much as I do, was kind enough to grant me permission to release this post. Mazal Tov!


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