Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Then I asked the terrible but necessary question: How much will it cost? And he said, "About $2 a square foot, not including the attic." Two dollars a square foot. Not including the attic. My heart turned into a rock and rose up in my throat. That's more than twice as much as I thought the whole job would cost. Damn. Tears welled up in my eyes. And as I was trying to work the lump out of my throat so I could talk without sounding so much like a pathetic little girl, he said, "I can't get to it until the end of September at least." That just put me over the edge. I'm hoping my sniffling sounded like static on the line. I said I would call him tomorrow. And I will. After I stop crying.
The poor man has passed away.
I was reading the obits in my small-town newspaper and came across his. I sat there for a couple minutes turning his name over in my mind and trying to recall why it sounded so familiar when it occurred to me. Oh. Oh, my.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Here's a photo of the west side of the house so you can not see my progress for yourselves. Can you tell which half of the wall is finished? Hint: it's not the side with the ladder leaning against it.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Scrape loose paint. Caulk gaps between clapboards and corner pieces and everywhere else. Fill nail holes and cracks.
Scrape. Caulk. Fill.
Repeat ad infinitum. After applying Off bug repellent to legs and arms. Don't miss even a tiny spot, because that's where the mosquitoes and the flies will bite. (I have the marks on the backs of my knees to prove it.)
About a quarter of the west wall is completely prepped for primer, from the front of the house to about halfway to the dining room bay window. Half of the front wall is prepped as well. Yeah, that's all. After about 22 hours.
But here's what I mean by "prepped": all the loose paint's been scraped off, the finishing nails that held the quarter round on the window frames have been pulled out, the tar paper scraps have been shaved off (literally), all the staples that used to hold the tar paper on have been pulled, the old caulk (and pieces of paper and blobs of insulation) have been picked out, and the nails I missed first time around have been yanked; and then I caulked the gaps between clapboards and corner pieces, the frames around the windows, the nailheads, the junction between clapboards and foundation, and the junction between eaves and frieze boards (just opened the third tube of caulk); and then I used wood filler to fill gazillions of nail holes and small cracks in the clapboards.
The phrase "all the loose paint" could use a little defining too: most of the paint on the house is completely intact with just a little crazing and since it's only about four layers thick I'm leaving it on the house. Paint that's alligatored all the way to the wood gets scraped off. The rest stays where it is, tight to the house. Controversial, I know. A couple of folks in the neighborhood have been openly skeptical. But I'm relying on the advice of the National Park Service. In one of their Preservation Briefs they state, "Practically speaking as well, paint can adhere just as effectively to existing paint as to bare wood, providing the previous coats of paint are also adhering uniformly and tightly to the wood and the surface is properly prepared for repainting-- cleaned of dirt and chalk and dulled by sanding. But, if painted exterior wood surfaces display continuous patterns of deep cracks or if they are extensively blistering and peeling so that bare wood is visible, then the old paint should be completely removed before repainting." You can read the whole thing if you'd like. It's chock-full of information.
By the end of the day today, I was covered with an icky glaze of caulk, sweat, Off, and bits of paint. My right shoulder was really sore. My hands were callused. I spent a lot of time in the shower, and then a lot of time at Wal-Mart picking out just the right flavor of ice cream. (Tonight that's Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia.) I ate almost half the container and drank a big cranberry limeade from Sonic.
Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow I prime.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I borrowed my mom's power washer and rinsed the house clean. Well....most of the house. Turns out the spigot on the east side of the house doesn't work--how was I supposed to know, with no garden out there, me being a charter member of the Black Thumb Society and all--and even nearly 100 feet of hose couldn't stretch all the way around from the west side. I did manage to get the front and back of the east wall clean, just not the middle where the side porch is. A few scraps of tar paper and even a couple of slivers of shingles fell off, too. After that, caulking. And filling of nail holes. And scraping loose paint. And more filling of nail holes. But if all goes well, I just might possibly get some primer on the house tomorrow. Maybe even some paint on sashes and muntins. Very exciting.
"Today: Areas of drizzle before 10am, then a slight chance of showers between 10am and 1pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1pm. Cloudy, with a high near 76. South southeast wind around 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms."
It's drizzling now. Still. Has been since 3 a.m. when I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep. So...I could take a nap now, and get up at 10 a.m. when it might be showering. Or, I could work in the drizzle from now until it starts showering and then take a nap. But I'd better get some work done before 1 p.m. when the thunderstorms come, right? I think power-washing and caulking are not in the plans any longer for today. Sigh. Painting muntins and washing windows is a definite no-go. Sigh.
At least I have "I Can Has Cheezburger" to cheer me up.
(Thanks, Sandy, for telling me about this website!)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Nothing done on the exterior of the house since last Wednesday, due to weather and my work schedule. Grrrr. Progress must be made these next four days. Lots of progress. My plan is to power-wash the house to take off some of the dirt and grime (and maybe some loose paint as well), scrape and wire-brush more loose paint off, fill thousands of nail holes, shave off the tar paper scraps, and do some serious caulking. Sometime before Sunday, I'm hoping to get bids on the wall and attic insulation, too.
Then there's the windows. I need to make a decision about the paint color for the muntins (Blue Coal? Chocolate Raspberry? Lincoln Cottage Black?) so I can start taking the storm windows off, clean the windows, paint the muntins and sashes, repair the storms, put them back on, and paint the storms. One window at a time. I only have 17 windows. I think. But only four of them have those little lights around the top pane. The rest are just one-over-one, much easier. I'm buying a couple of containers of paint in the tester size on the way home today.
And the weather forecast? Thirty percent chance of rain today, 60% on Thursday, partly cloudy on Friday, and a 30% chance of showers again on Saturday. That makes my chances of progress kinda iffy. Next post will either be titled "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" or "Singing in the Rain", depending...
Saturday, August 16, 2008
So I walked down to the pub and consulted Shirley and Katherine, who are the pub's owners and two of my dearest friends. They're also my neighbors three houses down, and Katherine is on the Historic Preservation Commission, so I knew they wouldn't steer me wrong.
Allow me to digress for just a moment to share some really cool local history: Katherine's great-grandfather, William B. Waddell, was one of the partners in the firm that operated the famed Pony Express. Katherine and Shirley live in the house Mr. Waddell built, which has always been owned by the Waddell family. Locally it's known as--what else?--The Pony Express House. Katherine is a joy to know. If asked, she'll tell you her family's story in her faintly Southern accent, and intertwine all sorts of other historical tidbits. Occasionally she serves as a guide for the Lexington Trolley Company, and when she does the riders are enthralled by her stories.
Anyway....I spread out the paint chips on the table where we always sit and asked Shirley's opinion. She studied them, and within five minutes picked out three colors that work perfectly together. Or at least I think they do. What do you think?
The color at the top of the photo (Redstone Dining Room Gold) would be the main color of the house; the color below that (LaFonda Wild West Green) would be the corner pieces and the frieze boards; the cream color (Filoli Gold Ecru) would be the trim around windows, roof and porch; and the bottom color (Buckskin Pony) would be a second trim color, if needed. All the paint chips are Valspar Ultra Premium from Lowe's; the first three we chose are National Trust for Historic Preservation colors. Those two dark paint chips--Chocolate Raspberry on the left and Blue Coal on the right--I'm considering for the window muntins and sashes, but now I don't think they're dark enough. Incidentally, the Historic Preservation Commission approved a single paint chip (the one with Redstone) without asking me which of the three colors I intended to use as the main one and without asking what color I meant to paint everything else. I think as long as I don't go too far afield of that color family I won't have to file another application.
Not so incidentally, the Redstone Dining Room Gold almost exactly matches the original color of the house, and the corner pieces and frieze boards were originally dark green. (About the color of that darkest green you can just see at the edge of the photo--but I'm not crazy about that color.) The muntins and sashes were painted black at some point, but I haven't taken enough of the paint down to know if that was their original color. Black seems a little stark to me, but I think Valspar's Lincoln Cottage Black might look okay. (And it's a NTHP color, too.)
I asked Katherine for her thoughts on the colors and she burst out laughing. "Oh that's funny!" she chuckled. "You let a color-blind woman choose your paint shades!" Shirley hastened to tell me she's not completely color-blind. Me, I'm just color-impaired. Help, please.
Friday, August 15, 2008
This new feature of Google Maps, Street View, has people all a-twitter. Some folks believe it's an invasion of privacy at the least, a tool for burglars to case our houses on-line at worst. Others are saying they like it because it allows them to view a whole neighborhood before relocating there. What do you think? Me, I'm thinkin' that guy in the orange suit is just plain creepy.
But the living room carpet is gone.
It was the same horribly ugly 1970s industrial-looking carpet that's glued and stapled to the floor of almost every room in the house. It existed primarily not as decoration, but as dropcloth for the painted wallpaper I've been stripping in the living room. Once a week or so I run the sweeper on it and throw away the giant furball that accumulates in the canister. Thursday I was about three minutes into that chore when the sweeper sucked up a thread from the rotten carpet and started smoking. On a day when my patience was thin and my mood was bad because of the rain, that just infuriated me. That's it! I said to the cats, that ugly carpet is gone! And about three hours later, it was. Later today I'll pile it outside with the bags of shingles. The trash man probably hates me. You know the poor guy's driving down the alley every Tuesday morning wondering what in the Sam Hill I've heaped out there for him to throw away. When I put the final bags of shingles out there next week, I think I'll tape a gift card to the carport for him.
Anyway, I think the living room looks better already without the carpet, even though the hardwood floor has the same black glue/carpet pad residue as the floors in the dining room and the entryway. Oh well, at least now they match.
Oh, and in totally unrelated breaking news: I am a blue ribbon winner at the Missouri State Fair! I entered a fairy picture that I did in counted cross-stitch for my niece, and it won first place in its division. Ten whole dollars in prize money and blue ribbon bragging rights. It makes the end of summer just a little bit easier to bear.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
"Old buildings are not ours. They belong partly to those who built them, and partly to the generations of mankind who are to follow us. The dead still have their right to them: That which they labored for...we have no right to obliterate.
"What we ourselves have built, we are at liberty to throw down. But what other men gave their strength, and wealth and life to accomplish, their right over it does not pass away with their death."
Isn't that a great quote? Could we please have it made into federal law?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
As I told nv earlier, unless the transoms and the doors are completely intact and simply encased in the newer construction waiting to be set free--and what are the chances of that?!--there's nothing I can do about it this year anyhow. Budgetary concerns. I still have to get bids on wall and attic insulation, something I've been saving money for after vowing that last winter was, indeed, the last winter I'd be so uncomfortably cold in my house. And I still have to buy materials for the front porch renovation, though I haven't decided quite what to do with that yet. (My fault, Nathan!) Then there's a round of tester colors to go through before I plunk down the money for paint.
So for now, finding out if there are doors and transoms under there is pretty far down on the house wish list. Way, way below finishing the exterior. Far below the projects I've already started on the inside of the house. And I'm definitely ripping out my polka-dotted kitchen countertops first.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Oh, I know I still have a long way to go: a billion or so nail holes to fill, windows to caulk, about 40 bags of trash still to get rid of, loose paint to scrape, wall and attic insulation bids to get, the porch to somehow make right. Oh yeah, and then I have to prime and paint the house.
I should be tired just thinking about all that, right? But I'm not! I feel....I feel....well, Karen Anne said it exactly in her comment on my previous post: "I can hear the house breathe and stretch its arms out like it hasn't been able to in how long :-) Thank you! Thank you! it says."
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Saturday, August 2, 2008
But I have another phobia that's far, far worse than my fear of heights: my fear of shiny bugs. Shiny bugs like grasshoppers and crickets, June bugs, any sort of beetle, and wasps. Wasps are the worst, because they can hurt me. Wasps freak me out, terrify me, cause me to scream like a little girl. Which is what I did when I found this:
Mud dawber nests! [Imagine girly screaming here.] Lots and lots of mud dawber nests! Ewwwww!! Amongst all the junk on the floor is even more nests. Big clods of what I thought was dirt kept tumbling out from under the shingles. Not until I exposed a big section of the wall did I realize what they were. Horror movie stuff. Disgusting, creepy-crawly, shiny wasps. Wasps which are dead now. Amazing what half a can of wasp spray can do. There's a lot of other scary stuff in this photo, too: the ghost of what was probably a beautiful porch railing that's now gone forever, the crumbling clapboards just to the right of the railing ghost, the boards that need to be pried off the wall, and the stovepipe hole in the bedroom wall. Scary.
I was sitting on the porch steps (which I bought last year at an antique shop for $50) trying to recover from the horror of it all when one of the B&B guests from across the street came over and said, "You are a very determined girl." I grinned. She continued, "I told Carl, surely that girl does not intend to take all of those shingles off all by herself, but Carl said, 'Oh, I think she surely does'." Yes, ma'am, I surely do!
Friday, August 1, 2008
I love, love, love the row of windows on the second story of this house, and how the owners really brought them out with paint. At first look, the house doesn't seem to be a Painted Lady. And it's true, she's not gaudy. But I count four--no, five--different colors on this house. Look at the brackets and frieze board under the second story and the porch railing.
Corner lot, curving porch, clean white paint sparkling against the green roof and darker green trim paint. Though I tend to think the red-and-green trim combo is too often done, this one works because the colors have the same intensity and don't look too Christmas-y. I really like the dark muntins on the windows, too.
This is a sedate pair. But on a day when the sidewalk almost sizzled, the calm colors seemed refreshing to me. The stucco on the left is the color of vanilla ice cream, after all. It makes me want to sit in their porch swing with a big lemonade. The house on the right has colors very similar to the ones I picked out for my own house. It has dark muntins, too. Look closer at that second-story window. Diamond shaped pane in the center with smaller lights all around it. Oh, and this house is for sale.
What?! There's no paint at all on this house. But it's such a unique house that I had to show it to you, too. With its blue tile roof and heraldic-looking emblems everywhere, this house really is a castle. Wonder if it has secret passageways?
I really like the colors of this house, especially that orangesicle window trim .
But it was this house that made me yell, "Wow!!" How many hours did these folks spend picking colors?! Or maybe they hired someone to pick the colors. Either way, it's gorgeous. The house itself is beautiful, and the owners really let it strut its stuff with these paint colors.
That house made me doubt my own paint choices. I need to reconsider. I should file another application with the Historic Preservation Commission. My colors are blah. Boring.
But then I saw this house. Architecturally, it's closer to mine than the others. My house has the wide frieze boards just like this one does, and my proposed paint colors are monochromatic like this house. (Although my colors are warm yellow-tans and this house is cool blue-grays.) I don't know how well the colors come through, but the trim on this house is pale gray, not white. Very pretty. Restful.
Notice how I keep going back to words like calm, sedate and restful? That probably says a lot about me, about how I see a house as a haven; a place to rest and rejuvenate. I did just that when I got back home from Liberty, for a while anyway. And then I conquered my own Everest, but that's a story for another post.