Gosh, in all the excitement, I forgot to mention our kitchen soapstone countertop got installed on Tuesday. I love 'em! Right now it's a dusky gray, but after oiling and with time, it will "age" to a charcoal. We got our soapstone from M. Teixeira in SF; that's all they sell. And since there aren't a lot of soapstone vendors, they've gotten customers from as far away as Montana. Soapstone is slightly softer than granite or marble, so M. Teixeira also has their own fabricators.
It took them a good 5 hours to install the countertop plus the fireplace surround. The later was a last minute change. Originally, I was going to use 12 x 12 slate tile. But I remembered seeing in some magazine three rough slabs of stone used around a fireplace and thought I could do something along those lines with whole pieces of soapstone. Those black lines in the photo below are used to fill in the joints. After it dries, they sand it off with an orbital sander and you can hardly even see the line.