Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tickled to Death

I stand corrected.  The walls in my dining room are not 11 feet high.  They're 10'3".  I know this because last night I measured them for the wallpaper.  I didn't get nervous about hanging the wallpaper until I rolled it out on the kitchen floor to cut it to length and saw for the first time what a big sheet of wallpaper that is.

Gulp.  It covers the whole length of the kitchen floor.  And yes, the paper's weighted down with the door hinges.  Those things come in handy.

Three hours later, this is what the dining room looked like:

After months of looking at the plain plaster walls, I'm tickled to death to finally see wallpaper up there.

And I'm tickled to death that I got the switchplate cover to match the wallpaper pattern on the very first try.

I am not, however, tickled to death about this:

Nor this:

Not at all.  Not one little bit.  Someone is in Very Big Trouble.

Don't give me that sweet innocent look, Louis.  You're at the top of the suspect list.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Well Now...

I braved the cold and snow to go outside and measure over from the current back door to the edge of the old door opening.  Forty-one inches.  Then I came back inside, stomped the snow off my boots, and measured the inside wall.  Then I called Mare.

Me:  Hey, we're not gonna be able to move that back door to where it originally was after all.
Mare:  Why not?  It wouldn't be that hard.  You've got the doors, I've got a saw.
Me:  Yeah, but where the door originally was is now my bathroom.  The door opening would be directly across from the shower.
Mare:  Well now...that'd be an interesting feature, wouldn't it?

Now I Get It

Remember when I found this, the chopped-out stuff to the left of the back door?

And remember when I found this mess, which caused me to quit working on the back of the house?

And remember how I was all frustrated and mad and couldn't figure out why someone would do something like that? 

Well, last week when Mare was here he walked onto the back porch (which is what we still call it, though it hasn't really been a porch for 60 years) and said, "I see you got a lot more shingles off the house than the last time I was here.  Looks like your back door used to be a window, and the back door used to be further over to the left.  It wouldn't be a whole lot of trouble to take that door out and put it in the old door opening, and then buy a window from salvage to put over there where the window used to be.  Then your back door would be lined up with the sidewalk again."

Oh.  The door used to be a window.  Now I get it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Trash Man Cometh....Or Not

In my last post I hinted at a forthcoming rant about why only a third of the pee-pee carpet is gone, and I fully intended to save that rant for another day...say, Monday.  But I find myself with a bit of free time on my hands and I thought, "Why wait to rant til Monday when you can rant today?"

First a bit of background:  the second parlor is the only room in the house that still has carpet, which I refer to as "pee-pee carpet" because this is the room my little blind dog lived in before he went to his new home in Iowa.  (Where, by the way, he peed on a leg of the coffee table within ten minutes of his arrival.  "Hey, thanks for adopting me—mind if I pee in your living room?")  You may be able to surmise a big part of the reason why the dog now lives in Iowa.  And why the carpet needs to be removed.  Actually, the carpet was already destined for the trash bin before the dog started using it as one giant potty pad.  But I digress.  The top layer of carpet was installed 20-some years ago over a thick padding, which was stapled to some Berber-like carpet of probably 1970s vintage, which was glued to the hardwood floor.  Y'all have heard me gripe and complain aplenty about the black glue residue that's covering the hardwood floors in the rest of the house.  Did you catch that?  I said, the rest of the house.  There is no carpet in the rest of the house because it's already been ripped up and taken out to the trash over the past two years.  Keep that in mind.  Remember also that every room in my house is about 15' by 15', except for the entryway, which is about 6' by 9'.  My son ripped out the carpet in the front parlor in two giant pieces.  We ripped out the carpet in the dining room in two or three big pieces.  I removed the carpet in the little entryway in one big swath.  Got all that?  Okay, then hang on for the rant.

Three, or maybe four weeks ago I started tearing out the carpet in the second parlor.  I decided that since I'm all by myself here, I'd better tear it out in strips I can handle.  Fifteen by fifteen room...yeah, three big pieces oughta do it.  I tore up the first layer of carpet, rolled it up, and wrapped duct tape around it to hold it together.  I tore up the padding and put it in trash bags.  I tore up the bottom layer of carpet, rolled it up, and wrapped duct tape around it.  Then I carried the whole shebang out to the trash.  The bags went in the bin and the two pieces of rolled-up carpet went in the alley next to the trash bin.  Three (or maybe four) weeks later I noted that one roll of carpet was still out in the alley.  I called the trash company to complain.  This conversation took place:

Trash Lady:  How long is the carpet?
Me:  I don't know, it's all rolled up.  Like 15 feet.
TL:  No, I mean, how long is it?
Me:  You mean, how wide is it?  I'd say 5 feet or so.
TL:  Oh.  Then that's why they didn't pick it up.  It's too long.  It has to be 4 feet long or less.
Me:  What?!  Why?
TL:  It's just the rules.  You should've gotten a list of the rules when you moved.
Me:  Well, I didn't.  I just have the joy of finding these things out as I go along.
TL:  Yeah, cut it shorter and we'll pick it up.  And it must be tied with string or tape.  Otherwise you can rent a dumpster.
Me:  I don't want to rent a dumpster.  I want you to pick up my carpet the way you always have for the past two years without all this hassle.
TL:  Well, if they picked it up before they shouldn't have.

And that was the end of that.  No amount of explanation swayed her.  She was utterly unconvinced that a roll of carpet exceeding 4 feet in width had ever been picked up at my house or at anyone else's house.  She did not believe me when I told her that I'd dragged it out to the alley without so much as an inch of tape or string on it and it had been picked up.  She scoffed when I told her that one bright morning the trash haulers had picked up at least six rolls of carpet from my house.  Impossible, she said.  Only one roll at a time.  Cut the roll to four feet or less, she said.  Make sure you tape or tie it.  Apparently the trash company does not negotiate.  So I went outside, hopping mad, in the rain mind you, to measure the roll of carpet.  Four feet five inches.  Rats!  I folded it in half.  And as I was wrestling the duct tape around the folded-in-half roll of carpet, I saw it.  The other roll of carpet.  The carpet I'd just told her had been picked up by the trash man last week.  There it was, tucked neatly between my neighbor's garage and another neighbor's fence.  What the Sam Hill?!  How did it get there?  Surely the neighbors don't intend to use it.  Did the neighbors put it there?  Did the trash man hide it?  Was it dragged there by coyotes? 

Now folks, I am not good at math, but I figure the remaining carpet in the second parlor is about 12 feet wide.  That means I'll have to cut it into at least three strips to meet the trash company's criteria.  There are two layers of carpet.  That would be 6 rolls of carpet if I roll them separately, or 3 rolls if I manage to roll the two layers of carpet together somehow.  If they pick up only one roll a week....well, y'all can figure out that it will take some time to get rid of all the carpet from my second parlor.  I think this is some scheme to make people rent a dumpster.  There's no place for a dumpster on my property.  If I put it out in the alley, my neighbor won't be able to park his truck behind his house.  Not to mention that I'm cheap and I don't want to spend the money for a dumpster.  Darnit.

In a snit, I called White Trash Bob.  He listened to me rant and when I paused for breath, he said, "I find that if I put a six-pack of beer out there on top of the trash, they'll pick up anything."  Hey, it's worth a try...

The List, Reviewed

Back in January I made a list of projects I wanted to complete by the end of the year.  It was my first-ever-in-my-whole-life list, and I made it hoping that putting my goals in writing would help me stick to them.  With less than a week left in this year, I thought it might be a good time to review The List and see how I did:

Finish painting the exterior of the house.  Except for two porch windows and an errant piece of trim here and there, it's done.  Whoo-hoo!

Re-roof the carport.  But I do have a plan.  I'm gonna strip off what's left of the rotted roof and put up fiberglass panels.  Here's hoping the ceiling joists of the carport are in good shape.  That project will have to wait until spring.

Tear up the rest of the carpet in the house.  Does almost count?  Only the pee-pee carpet remains, and a third of that is gone.  Why only a third of it is gone is a rant for another post...

Scrape the rest of the painted-over wallpaper off the entryway and front parlor walls.  Another no.  It's a tedious job that I pick at here and there but can't stick with long enough to get finished.

New flooring in the master bath.  Yep. the process of removing the old carpet and linoleum, I found some water damage to the floor between the tub and the toilet.  So, this flooring is only temporary.

Paper the dining room.  Um, no again.  This is the Next Big Thing to be done. 

Fix the front porch.  Boy, did we!  Thanks to a lot of help from Mare, this one got done, and better than I imagined.

Tear down the backyard shed.  Done—thanks to a stranger who wandered up to the front door and asked if he could have the shed.  I like it when something gets crossed off the list with no effort by me.

So, half the things on my list were completed this year.  But half the things were not completed.  Oh.  Fifty percent is an F, isn't it?  But the two biggest projects on the list did get finished.  That ought to count for something.  A greater weight in the grade, you know.  And a bunch of other stuff got done too:  the kitchen, which wasn't even on the list; WTB and I did a small landscaping project, (which I just realized I never took pictures of), there are no more holes in the outside of the house... 

But let's get back to the purpose of The List in the first place.  It was supposed to keep me focused.  Eyes on the prize and all that.  Did it?  Nah.  I ran amok and did whatever I darn well wanted all year, just like every year.  And that's not all bad.  I accomplished a heckuva lot this year.  I will next year, too.  But next year, there will be no list.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.
~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Help Wanted

I need some help.  Advice really.  It's a two-part problem.

Part One:  I have this hare-brained idea that I could get the paint off the transom window hardware if I put it in my bathtub (which is nasty and will be replaced within the next calendar year...I think) and pour boiling water over it.  My tub gets the most use as a wallpaper trough and a place for the kitties to nap, and only rarely for its intended purpose.  Do y'all think this will work?

Part Two:  How in the Sam Hill do I get the transom window hardware off the window?  Or any other hardware, for that matter?  It just occurred to me that I'd like to strip the window latches and the thumb lifts on the other windows in the house, too.  There's so much paint blobbed on it that it's almost impossible to see the screws.  I tried stripper, which worked okay but not well enough to be able to remove the hardware.  I tried a heat gun, which bubbled up the paint on the trim but did nothing else—except make me worry all night that a dust bunnie behind the trim was smoldering and my house was gonna catch fire. 

Part Two really ought to be Part One, now that I think about it...Oh well.   And thanks in advance, because I just know someone will know the answers to these questions!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Soup's On

Paula Deen, it ain't.  Eww. 

Clockwise from left:  Before, during, and almost done.

Hit the high spots so I could show y'all the detail that popped out right away.

After ten minutes of scraping on it with a little putty knife and a dull five-in-one tool.


So how long did it take?  Five or six hours of soaking in the Crock-Pot. (I didn't pay any attention to what time it was when I put 'em in there.)   Ten minutes per set of hinges to get the worst of it off, and another 20 minutes or so to get the paint out of the little nooks and crannies.

And the recipe?  Plain water.  Probably six hours on low heat, which may or not be the same as three hours on high heat.  Thirty minutes or so (per set of hinges) of picking at the paint with a small flexible putty knife and a very dull five-in-one tool.  Picking time includes re-heating the hinges in the Crock-Pot for a minute or so when they cooled off.   (It seemed to be easier to peel off warm paint.)  Your time may vary, especially if you aren't listening to "Hair Nation" on XM, which causes you to periodically use the five-in-one tool as a mic when a really cool song comes on.  C'mon now, you know you've belted out the lyrics to Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer" a time or two yourself.

Please take note that I got almost every little speck of paint off of four sets of hinges in less time than it took me to strip that one itty-bitty little operator rod knob.  My heartfelt thanks to Kate, Karen Anne and Marley for teaching me that boiling water removes 50 years of paint and to Christine, who suggested the Crock-Pot. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Mare Show (Preview)

Mare came over this morning, just as he promised.  He was even right on time.  And, he's clean-shaven and has a new haircut.   But his sense of humor is the same:

"You cut your hair off!" I said when he walked through the door.
"No I didn't," he replied.
"You had a ponytail last time I saw you," I insisted.
"Yeah," he grinned, "but I didn't cut it off.  I paid someone else to do it."

We took the other half of the door (gosh, I hate saying that) off the frame, Mare took the hinges off both halves, and we carried the door(s) halfway out to his car before something occurred to us:  That door will be twice as wide when it makes its return trip.  It won't fit in the car.  "One whole door might fit," Mare speculated, "but more than one door won't.  That's a lot of trips between here and Warsaw to fix seven doors."  We carried the door halves back into the dining room and decided that he'll put the doors together at my house.  Mare thinks he has enough clamps to do at least two, maybe three, at a time.  With the furniture pushed back against the walls in the front parlor, we'll have plenty of room.  (This time, though, I'm rolling up the area rug in there—remember when he cut my kitchen countertops on the parlor rug instead of taking them outside?)

And you know it wouldn't be a day with Mare if we didn't have at least one of those Tracy-Hepburn conversations that makes me smack my forehead and groan.

Me:  "So what's your plan to fix 'em?"  
Mare:  "I'm gonna biscuit the hell out of 'em!"
Me:  "Do you have a biscuit cutter?"
Mare:  "Sure, it belonged to my grandma."
Me:  "What? Why would your grandma have—"
Mare:  [laughing]  " mean that kind of a biscuit cutter!  Yeah, I got one of those, too."

He's coming back in a couple of weeks with his biscuit cutter (presumably not his grandma's), some clamps and some glue.  This oughta be fun.

And those hinges we took off the doors?  They've been boiling in the crockpot all afternoon.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Hinge Boiler

"Darnit!" my mom said, jerking her hand away suddenly from the Crock Pot she'd been spooning meatballs out of. "That does it--I'm sellin this thing on a yard sale!"

"What thing?" I asked. "You mean the Crock Pot?" Now, y'all know what I was thinkin....

"Yes! It's got that stupid metal rim at the top of it and I burn myself on it every time."

"You really don't want it anymore? Seriously?" The wheels were turnin in my little head but I had to be sure it really was destined for the yard sale before I appropriated it. My mom ranted about how it was pretty but not worth a darn because it got too hot. Yep, yard sale bound.

"But what do you want it for?" she asked. "You already have a nice Crock Pot."

"Well actually..." I grinned. "If you wanna know the truth I was gonna use it to boil the paint off them steeple hinges on my doors."

She laughed. "Oh Lordy! Well take it then."

I already have one half-door out on the dining room floor with stripper on the hinges so I can get em off the door.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Door Plan

So as I'm painting the second parlor and the trim in the dining room, it occurs to me that I'd better do something about the doors. You know, the doors that some dolt sawed in half length-wise. The doors that are almost certainly original to the house. I cannot comprehend why someone would do that...but I've ranted about that plenty of times before, so I'll spare you another one. I do not like their current sawed-in-half state. As I see it, that leaves me with three choices: learn to live with the stupid sawed doors (and paint them along with the trim), try to fix the doors, or replace them. I myself would have no idea how to fix them. I don't think Gorilla Glue's gonna do it, and that's about the extent of my carpentry skills. Fortunately for me, I know Mare. And Mare has this idea that he might be able to fix the doors. I don't remember his plan, exactly, but I do remember the warning he gave me: "And if I fix 'em, you can't go gettin' all pissed off and slam the doors because they might break in half again." This man knows me too well...  Actually, I think he said something about biscuits and a couple thin pieces of wood, and then a wider piece of wood along the bottom. The doors are about two inches shorter than they need to be, to accommodate the three layers of carpet that used to be on the floor. (That's an old photo; the carpet's gone from the front parlor and so is a lot of that painted-over wallpaper.) This is actually an advantage, maybe, in fixing the doors. Mare thinks that putting a strip of wood along the bottom edge of the door might make it stronger.

Or maybe it won't work at all, and then I'll spend a lot of time in the basement of the Missouri River Antique Company with a yardstick, sorting through the old doors Sue has stored down there. While I'm there, I'll ask her if she has any old doorknobs, plates and latches. The marks of the original hardware can still be seen on the doors, but the hardware's long gone. I have this recurring dream that I'll find a big box of the door hardware someplace in the house, but after living here for three years without a sign of 'em, I'm beginning to think that's not gonna happen. I did have both my son and the insulation guy conduct a thorough search of the attic, just in case, but they didn't find anything.  What I can see of the basement crawlspace reveals nothing, either. Darnit. There are ghosts of the latches, too, badly filled in with wood putty or something, sometimes painted over and sometimes not, and in one case the original latch is still there. We can tell which way the doors were hung originally.

There is one bit of happy news: whoever sawed the doors in half did keep the original steeple hinges, although they're oddly re-distributed among the seven doors. Some doors (like in the front parlor) have no steeple hinges at all, and other doors have two sets of them. Mare and I held our breath as we walked through the house counting sets of steeple hinges. Seven. All of them are still here. Covered with paint and certainly candidates for the boiling treatment y'all so kindly told me about, but here. Amazing. I can't wait to get the paint off of 'em and see what they look like.

So that's the plan.  I'm not sure when Mare will be able to take one of the doors or when he'll get it fixed.  Heck, I don't even know if the door can be fixed, but if anyone can do it, it's Mare.  It's definitely worth a try, in my opinion.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Favorite Things

Random favorite things that I wanna share...

A text message from my daughter in law that says, "Thank you for the pretty Christmas card.  It looks just like the one G-ma sent me."  A call to my mom confirmed that, yes, we had each (separately) bought Sarah exactly the same Hallmark card. 

My favorite soldier, my son's best friend Brian.  He's stationed in Afghanistan until October 2010, but he'll be home in May for two weeks, God willing.  Through the magic of the interwebs I get to chat with him on Facebook at least once a week.  If y'all are so inclined, could you add him to your prayer list?  The last time I put a pic of Brian on this blog was back in May, when he the best man at my son's wedding.  How much things change in six months...

You may have read this story in my comments, but it's so funny I have to share it here.  My friend Troy came home the other night to a kitchen that smelled like chicken soup...but nothing was cooking.  A short investigation discovered that one of his cats had broken into the cupboard and sunk its teeth into a box of chicken stock, which leaked out slowly all over the pantry.  He figured out which cat it was when the culprit sidled up to him to be petted and he smelled chicken broth on its fur.  It's only funny cause it didn't happen to me.

The cutest Caesar I've ever seen!  My friend Michelle's son portrayed the great ruler in a school play, but only after asking his teacher gravely, "He's not the king that killed the babies, right?  Cause if he is, I don't wanna be him."  Assured that the baby-killing king was Herod, Ben went on with the show.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Operator Rod Knob, You Say?

Last night I had an idea:  Wouldn't it be nice to strip the layers of paint off the transom window hardware so that it shows up against the trim?  I've seen reproduction transom hardware in brass and thought I just might have something like that under the paint.   I decided early on, though, that if the paint didn't come off easily or if the metal underneath didn't look pretty that I was going to abandon this little project.   After more than a year of feeling chained to the house while I was tearing off shingles and painting the exterior, I have limited patience and a short attention span.  The paint did not come off easily.  What metal showed through here and there looked like steel or iron, so it's not pretty anyway.  Abandon project!  Abandon project! 

But wait...check out that little knob that tightens against the operator rod to hold the window open...under that blobby paint there might be something...

So I took the knob off the operator rod and soaked it in Goo Gone for half an hour.  Goo Gone is yucky stuff.  It smells like a mixture of gasoline, ethyl alcohol, and nail polish remover.  If you get it in a small cut on your finger you will almost pee your pants from the pain before you can run to the sink and wash it off.  I'm just sayin'.  Thirty minutes later, with rubber gloves and a mask on, I fished the knob out of the Goo Gone and scrubbed on it with a toothbrush.  (The only toothbrush I have, so remind me to go buy another one.  Soon.)  Almost no paint came off.  This is the first time ever that Goo Gone has failed me.  So I scrubbed some more, and put the knob back in the stuff, and left it there for another 30 minutes.  I repeated this process six more times.  Somewhere in there I went to my Mom's house and borrowed her nutmeat picker thingy so I could scritch and scratch paint out of the little nooks and crannies of the knob.  (And please don't tell her I used it for that, okay?)  Three hours or so later, the blobby little knob looked like this:

Is that not the most beautiful little operator rod knob you've ever seen?!  (Okay, so maybe it's the only little operator rod knob you've ever seen...) Solid brass.  Gorgeous.  Kudos to Mrs. Kelly for picking it out.  She could have chosen something that looks kind of like a modern-day binder clip, which was much more common then, but she chose something beautiful instead.  Bless her heart.  Now, standby for rant in  Who in their right freaking mind paints over something like this?!  Someone looked at this beautiful workmanship and thought, "I believe I'll paint over it with lead paint that's nearly impossible to remove."  Then some other idiot came along after them and said, "I think I'll further obliterate the detail on that little knob by doing a really crappy job of painting."  And after that, some color-blind fool painted it turquoise, so you almost can't blame whoever put the final coat of paint on it.  Seriously?!?!  Who does something like that?!  Oh yeah, sucky previous owners, that's who.  (And the worst part is, the first coat of paint at least was probably put on there by Mrs. Kelly's son Aub, who turned the house into two apartments and owned it until 1951.)  As my friend Michelle says, "Jeez Louise!"

But it's all better now.  There are six more knobs just like this on the other transom windows, and I'll strip the paint off them, too, as I go along.

Oh, and I have one more photo.  This one's for Karen Anne:

Thirteen double rolls of paper.  It's mocking me.  I distinctly heard it say, "The dining room's already kicking your hiney and you haven't even started papering!"  Then it laughed.  Or maybe I just hallucinated that after inhaling Goo Gone fumes for three hours.

Monday, December 14, 2009

They're Heeeerrrre....

Remember that scene from "Poltergeist" where the little girl turns to her parents and says, "They're heeeerrre" after the creepy things come out of the tv?  That was the first thing that came to mind yesterday afternoon when I saw the big box of wallpaper rolls on the front porch.  (In fact, I was gonna use that clip in this post, but after I watched it I remembered how much scary movies give me the heebie-jeebies and now I'm too scared to use it.)  Anyway, the wallpaper's here.  Yep, already.  Good thing I didn't waste $127 on three-day shipping since it took, um, three days to get here with free ground shipping.  All thirteen double rolls of it.  That's a lot of wallpaper.  But what's about as scary as "Poltergeist" is the thought that I didn't order enough wallpaper.  Never mind that I used the wallpaper calculator and didn't subtract for the three windows and three doorways, I'm still scared. 

The big box of wallpaper is sitting in the middle of the dining room floor like an obelisk.  Waiting.  Why is the wallpaper waiting?  Because one of my friends pointed out to me that it sure would be easier to paint the trim in the dining room before I put up the paper.  Oh.  Good idea.  So I spent almost an hour at Lowe's picking out a shade of cream paint that goes with the wallpaper.  Lyndhurst Estate Cream, which also goes with the color I'm painting the second parlor, and will eventually, someday, go with whatever paint or wallpaper I pick out for the entryway and the front parlor.  Then I came home and washed down the trim in the dining room.  (Mrs. Kelly, immaculate housekeeper that she was, would not be happy that this is only the second time I've done that since I moved in.)  And now, I'm gonna go paint me some trim.  Photos to follow.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Few of my Favorite Things

This Christmas season, I thought I'd share with y'all a few of my favorite this scene from "It's A Wonderful Life". And it even has a cool old house in it!

Friday, December 11, 2009

As God As My Witness

This afternoon I briefly turned into Scarlett O'Hara. When I stepped out of the hot shower and into my cold bathroom a Scarlett-ness came over me. I lost it a little bit. I pounded my fists against the bathroom wall and shouted, "As God as my witness, I'll never be cold again!" I think I scared the cats.

My bathroom is unheated. So it's cold. Really cold. Miserably cold. Cold as in, no HVAC whatsoever. Well...that's not completely true. There is a wall heater the size of a fridge which uses natural gas. I've been advised by a house inspector and an HVAC guy not to use it. The thing scares me. So I don't use it. And the bathroom is cold. Did I mention that?

It was less cold last winter. That was before I cut a cat door in the kitchen door and left the kitchen door shut all the time. Now the rest of the house is warmer, but the bathroom and the back porch are colder. And I can't take it anymore. I don't know what I'm gonna do, but "As God as my witness, I'll never be cold again!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Missed A Spot

"Hey Momma, I think you missed a spot."

It's just the first coat of paint and it was still wet when this photo was taken, but I'm grateful the foreman inspects my work so carefully as I go along. 
(Note Mean Little Marie in the lower center of the photo as well.
 Is it just me or is she looking at Louis as if she wants to eat him?)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In The Meantime

So I did it.  I took a deep breath and clicked the button and bought—gulp—26 rolls of wallpaper.  I've never bought that much wallpaper in my life...every wallpaper order I've ever placed, combined, does not equal 26 rolls of wallpaper.  But then, I've never papered a 15' by 15' room with a bay and 11' ceilings before.  Buying that much of anything makes me nervous.  Hang on, I have to go take a Tagamet and wash it down with a nice crisp white wine....

Okay, I feel better. 

The wallpaper will take a little while to get here, since I chose free ground shipping instead of three-day shipping for $127.  (Made the right decision there, huh?)  In the meantime, I decided to eradicate the pee-pee carpet in the second parlor.  So far I've stripped a five-foot-wide swath of the junk off the floor, ripped up the pad underneath, torn up the glued-down carpet under that, and scraped the carpet backing off the floor.  I am very sorry to say that the floor in the second parlor looks black and icky like the floors in the rest of the house.  This is the last room in the house that still has carpet, so the end is in sight.  Only two more five-foot-wide swaths to tear up.  (Every room in my house is about 15' x 15'.  Those Victorians and their love of symmetry.)  To motivate me to keep ripping away at the carpet, I bought paint for the second parlor.  It's Valspar's Praline Cake, and if you've ever eaten a praline (the candy, I didn't even know it could be cake) it's exactly that color.  My idea is to make the second parlor sort of manly.  I have photos of my Uncle Walter from World War I and my dad from World War II, a shadow box of the ribbons and insignia from my dad's Army uniform, and a couple of reproduction maps and posters that I think will all go together nicely.  I also have a little desk and some bookshelves to put in there.  Now all I need are a couple of big, overstuffed chairs, like the ones they have at Barnes & Noble, and a chunky table to go between 'em.  Better hit the Salvation Army for those.  Someday.  In the meantime, I'll be right here ripping up carpet and painting and waiting on the gigantic wallpaper order to get here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Where We Need To Be

In a small town, everybody knows everybody.  But there are all different kinds of knowing.  I knew Frankie because we went to high school together and occasionally he did my hair.   But my bestie Sharon, she really knew Frankie.  They called each other almost every day, shared bad times and good times together, went out for breakfast after the bars closed, and had a thousand inside jokes from twenty-some years of friendship.  So when Sharon told me last Sunday that Frankie had had a major stroke and was not expected to live, I hurt more for Sharon than for myself.  I remember all too well what it's like to lose your best guy friend.  We went out to supper Sunday night and ate nachos together teary-eyed while I said the only thing I could think to say:  "Girl, I know just how you feel."  Frankie lingered between life and death for a couple of days while our hopes raised and fell and we felt increasingly helpless.  I ought to do something, I thought, something to make her feel better.  On the way to Taco Night Tuesday evening I suddenly turned my car around and called Sharon.

"Let's go over to the Catholic Church and light a candle for Frankie," I said.

"We're not Catholic, though," she said, "but Frankie is.  Let's go."

So I picked her up and us two Protestants tiptoed into the Catholic Church.  I had this idea that we'd go in there, light a candle for him, say a quick prayer, and be gone.  But God and Father Hansen had other plans for us.  We didn't notice until we were in the door that the priest was sitting alone in the back of the church.

"Um, hi," I said.  "We have a friend who is, um, dying and we thought we might light a candle for him.  Is that okay?  We're not Catholic and I don't really know what the rules are."

He smiled kindly.  "There are no 'rules' against a Protestant lighting a candle for a friend.  Come down to the front of the church and I'll help you."  His long black robes made a soft shushing sound as he walked us to the front of the church.  "Is there truly no hope?" he asked.  Sharon explained sadly that there was not, and then he said the Prayer of Saint Joseph for us, explaining that Joseph is the saint of a happy death.  As we repeated "Pray for him" after each of the Father's intonations, I saw some of the worry and fear go out of Sharon's face.  "Thank you very much for that, Father," she said.  On the way out of the church, Father Hansen paused us at the door.  "Do you know what the Last Rites are?" he asked.  We did not.  He beckoned us back into the Church and explained them to us, reading a part of them as he did so.  Again, Sharon and I thanked him.  He assured us we could come again whenever we wanted to pray with him.

We walked out to my car and, out of habit, checked our cell phones.  Both of us had the same text message from a friend:  "Frankie passed at 6:36 p.m. tonight," it read.  Our eyes met.  At 6:36 p.m. we were saying the Prayer of St. Joseph with the priest.  Sharon said softly, "God puts us where we need to be."  That He does, indeed.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dining Room Decision

After a year of scouring the internet for the perfect (and affordable) wallpaper for my dining room, I've finally found it.  This is the color:

And this is a photo of the overall pattern:

I like it.  A lot.  The dining room is about 15'x15' with 11-foot ceilings, so I think it can handle that large overall pattern.  And because it's tone-on-tone, I don't think I'll get tired of it.  That's a major consideration because, due to the cost and the high PITA factor of wallpapering, I won't be doing it again anytime soon.  Now I just have to pack up the hundred or so knick-knacks in my china cabinet so I can pull it out from the wall, finish tearing off the shards of wallpaper left behind the china cabinet and the buffet, and order the wallpaper.  Oh yeah, and work up the courage to tackle this project...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Gift

Y'all haven't heard much about White Trash Bob lately.  I'm about to remedy that.

The other day he called me ten minutes before my alarm clock went off (he has a knack for doing that) and said in his usual irrepressible way, "Oh good, you're up.  Come to your front door.  I have something for you."  Thinking it was probably futile to explain to him that I wasn't really up, I shuffled to the front door in my jammies.  There stood WTB on the front porch, holding something behind his back.  I held out my hand for it and he presented me very own WonderBar!  Now I don't have to keep borrowing his, or using a hammer or my little prybar when a WonderBar works so much better!

Other girls can have their flowers and candy and sparkly things.  I'm happy with my WonderBar.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Nice Kitty...

My friend Milah says that Louis scares her.  Louis, my sweet little tabby, scary?  Just because he appears in the basement out of nowhere and seems to be able to walk through closed doors?  Look at that widdle kitty all snuggled up with giant Christopher.   He's not a scary cat.

Now this—this is a scary cat:

In this photo, Marie is expressing her extreme displeasure about my running the sweeper while she's trying to nap.  I have as little as possible to do with this cat.  She terrifies me.  Last summer, she bit me in the hand because a June-bug landed on her head while we were lounging on the front porch.  She believes, apparently, that I am directly responsible for the June-bug touching her—after all, it was my shoddy construction of the screened porch that allowed a gap large enough for a June-bug to pass through.  So she bit me.  And I took antibiotics for a week.  You may have noticed in the photos of the kitchen that there's no flap on the cat door.  That's because Marie didn't like it touching her when she went through it, so I took it off.  It was either remove it or listen to her yowling and attacking the cat door while I'm trying to sleep.  Marie lives in the box springs of my bed surrounded by her collection of ponytail holders, bottle caps, pennies, and bread-wrapper ties and comes out only to eat, visit the litterbox, and terrorize the other cats and me.  I discovered her lair when I up-ended the box springs to move it to another room and heard her treasures clattering down.  Then I saw the gigantic hole she ripped in the fabric of the box springs.  I would duct-tape it shut, but I'm afraid she'll kill me.  I have not yet put up the Christmas trees because she's claimed one of them as her territory.  She tore open the box and crawled in amongst the branches.  When I lifted the lid of the box, her eyes glinted at me and she hissed.  She was curled up in there like a rattlesnake.  I shut the box.  Maybe I don't really need a Christmas tree in the dining room.  Once, she tempted my neighbor Carl into reaching out to pet her. "Oh, what a pretty cat," he said. Marie doubled in size like a puffer-fish and ran sideways on three legs while trying to claw Carl with one of her front paws.  "That is not a nice cat," Carl remarked.  No, that is not a nice cat.  Not at all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Braving the Basement

I did it.  I braved the basement.  For most people, that's not a big deal.  But at my house, it requires a little prior planning and some nerve-steeling.  After all, the basement is the scene of the weirdness that happened this spring.  I haven't been down there since that happened.  Go ahead, click on that link, read that post, and then tell me you'd honestly spend a lot of time down there! 

So, once I get up the nerve to go down there, then I have to wrangle the three cats into the bathroom (the only room in the house with a door that shuts tightly), move my laundry room table to the other side of the room, and roll up the area rug that covers the trap door.  Then I have to yank the trap door up, catch the ring on it with the hook in the wall, and hope it doesn't slam shut and imprison me down there.  After all that, then I have to drag four boxes of Christmas decorations up the basement steps.  Make that five boxes—I forgot I bought another Christmas tree at one of the after-Christmas gigantic sales last year. 

And the weird basement did not disappoint.  After I dragged everything up the steps, I went downstairs one more time to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything.  "Meow," Louis said from on top one of the furnace ducts.  "You're supposed to be locked in the bathroom!" I said as I pulled him off there and carried him upstairs.  "How did you get the door open?"  When we walked around the corner, I heard the other two cats scrabbling to get out of the bathroom.  The door was still closed.  Hmmmm....

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cain't Keep A Man

This weekend has been...interesting.  A little unsettling.  Frustrating, even.  I was temporarily knocked for a loop, but now that I'm myself again I'll tell y'all all about it. 

As the more astute among you might've guessed from the title of the post, I find myself single again.  I truly have no idea why.  For the past several days he hasn't returned my phone calls or texts.  Maybe he didn't like the lasagna, cause that's the last time I saw him.  Since he's completely silent on the issue, I'm left to guess as to what went wrong.  That irritates and frustrates me no end.  Have the common decency to call me and say something like "It's just not working out" or "I met someone else" or any one of a hundred stock phrases that folks call on in this situation.  If it's one thing I can't stand, it's a man with no spine.

But what irritates and frustrates me even more than that is the attitude of some of my family.  I told one of my cousins, who is like a brother to me, what happened.  He said, "Face it, honey, you just cain't keep a man."  This is a little Southern-attitude town we live in, and my family tends to have a very traditional view of gender roles.  To say that a woman "cain't" keep a man can cover a lot of ground (she's most usually either a bad cook or a bad housekeeper) but it always, always means she has some glaring character flaw and it's all her fault that the relationship went sour.  A woman who can't keep a man is destined to be single forever, and in my family a single woman over the age of about 30 is viewed with equal parts suspicion and pity.  This I have known for years, so I should've known better than to go ranting to my mom about the situation.  "Well when you run into [Reed] in the future, I want you to be nice to him," she said. Why should I be nice to someone who can't give me a five-minute polite brush-off?  Because he's from a good family?  Because women are supposed to know their place?  Because in my family, but for a few notable exceptions, women put up with all manner of bad behavior just to stay married and eat crow once a week for supper?  Well, I'm sorry, but hell no.

Looking back on my short relationship with Reed I can recall several things that irritated him:  that my hands have calluses and a couple of scars, that I'm quick to speak my mind, that the sound of a fire engine's siren is usually followed my the sound of my phone ringing and one of the guys telling me what happened, that I have more tools than he does and am more handy, that most days I don't wear makeup, that I sleep til noon more often than not...  But all those things are who I am.  I can't change that—and more importantly, I don't want to.  It's my life and I love it.  I am blessed with a beautiful house and the ability to work on it myself, an unconventional job that I really like, a quick mind, and friends who love me just the way I am.  Someday maybe I'll find that one guy who loves me just the way I am.  Or maybe that's not what God has in store for me.  Either way, I'm still me.  Faults and talents and all, I'm still me.  And if being true to myself means that I can't keep a man, then I'm alright with that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kitchen Reveal

With the kitchen all but finished, I thought it was high time to show y'all some pictures. 

It's hard (at least for me) to take pictures of a room that really shows you what it looks like.  I guess if I was good with computers, I'd figure out some way to splice these photos together into one big panoramic photo.  But I'm not, so this is the best I can do.  These were taken in a clockwise direction around the kitchen.

Looking in from the dining room, and to the left.  New backsplash, new cutting board end of countertop, new countertops, new cabinet pulls, new sink and faucet, new wallpaper, and new plates with chickens on 'em.  (I decided on the plates instead of the vintage ads; I think they "go" better.)  New bread machine, which is not usually out on the counter like that, but I was baking bread when I took these photos.  Oh yeah, and a new can of pineapple next to the sink.  I'm just keepin' it real here, folks.

Looking straight in from the dining room door.  Here you can see a couple of the things that still need to be done.  The cabinet pulls on the little cabinets above the fridge still need to be traded out for the new ones.  The plain wood door there still needs to be painted white.  After that, I'll hang a bulletin board on it and a lot of the junk on the fridge door will be moved over there.  That door goes out to what was originally an open back porch and is now my laundry room.  Since the laundry room has no HVAC, keeping the door shut helps the rest of the house stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.  To the right of the calendar on the wall is the door to my bedroom.  (You can't see it in the photo; the other door you see in this photo is the pantry door.)  One other thing I need to do:  pick up that little saucer on the floor.  Marie and Louis eat their yogurt every morning from that little saucer.

The pantry door and other side of the kitchen.  This is the best photo of the wall color.  I knew I wanted yellow walls in my kitchen, but finding the right yellow was hard.  I didn't want it to be too light or too brown, and I think this color is just right.  Unfortunately, I can't tell you what it is because I painted the walls almost three years ago and didn't save the label from the paint can.  It's Ralph Lauren paint, and it might be Goldfinch...but don't hold me responsible if you buy that color and your room ends up looking like a school bus.

And finally, looking at the kitchen from the back porch door, into the dining room.  The kitchen door is the only door in the house without a transom above it, and the trim in the kitchen is the only flat trim in the whole house.  That leads me to think that this room has always been the kitchen, but I have no way of really knowing that.

And there you have it, my re-done kitchen.  You can see "during" photos here and here and a "before" photo here.  By the way, I realized as I was talking to my mom today that sometime this week is the third anniversary of my moving into the Kelly House.  I closed on the house and moved in the week before Thanksgiving of 2006.  What a long, strange trip it's been...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Got My Sleep On

Saturday morning I went all Betty Crocker-y and bought groceries, browned hamburger, and put together a big pan of lasagna for supper Saturday night—after having been awake all night at work the night before.  And then, because I was obviously delirious from lack of sleep, I texted Reed:  "I made a big pan of lasagna.  Supper at your place tonight before I go to work.  See ya about 4:00."  Four?  What was I thinking??

Then the cats and I snuggled up in my flannel sheets, I donned my little sleep mask (the one that has GO AWAY in big letters on it), put in my ear plugs (hey, the neighbors are noisy) and fell fast asleep.  Without setting an alarm.  Louis Cat woke me up at 4:40.  Oops.  I took the quickest shower ever, threw on some clothes, and ran out of the house carrying a big foil-wrapped pan of lasagna before me and holding my cell phone between ear and shoulder.  Reed lives next street over—down the alley, around the corner, cross the street, and you're there—which is mighty convenient when you're running almost an hour late and the lasagna's still unbaked.  I arrived on the front porch of his house, a little breathless, and full of apology.

"I'm so sorry.  I know I said four, and you probably packed up early at work and everything for me and now we're gonna have to rush to eat before I leave and I can't believe I forgot to set my alarm so it's a good thing Louis woke me up, and I forgot the salad at the store too so this is all there is, and did you turn the oven on?"

"It's alright," Reed grinned.  "I'm just glad you got your sleep on."

Friday, November 13, 2009


I usually do this on Thursdays, but time got away from me yesterday.  This list is different—and much longer—than in previous weeks.  That's because this week's list is a "homework assignment" my friend Jill gave me, which began as an assignment her counselor gave her.  I appreciate her challenging me to do this.

Things I am thankful for:

Having my own child, who is the only blood relative I've known all of his life
My beautiful daughter-in-law Sarah, who loves my son so much
Being adopted by parents who did their very best to give me a loving, safe, happy home
Having the chance to meet my birth brother, probable birth father, and to learn more about my birth family
Being able to hold the hand of my father as he died
My cousins in Illinois who made my childhood so wonderful
Having my grandmother with me until I was 19, and all the things I learned from her

My 1887 or so Queen Anne cottage and the ability to restore it mostly on my own
Living in a National Register Historic District
Having beautiful houses around me to look at when I go for walks
My Kia Soul with the houndstooth seats
The antique furniture my mom gave me
My grandmother's pearl ring

Having two friends (Jill & Travis) who really "get" me
People I've known since I was a child
My friend Michelle and her two boys, who always make me laugh
Stacy, who is the sister I never had
My boyfriend, who is always supportive and kind
Three cats: Marie, Christopher & Louie
Bob, who helps me on my house when I get in over my head
Milah, who convinced me to give church another try and gave me the phrase "spiritually fed"

Having a job with great pay and good benefits that allows me to afford my house, my bills, and still have some money left over for fun
A few co-workers who make me grateful that they aren't like the majority of the people there
A consistent schedule, which is rare in emergency services
The added projects that the Division Chief has given me

Finding not just one, but two, churches that spiritually feed me
UCC Prayer Chapel, so I can go to church online (when I remember)
Having a job that can save someone's life
A son who is a police officer and truly believes in the adage "protect and serve"
Working for preservation of historic structures in my hometown
Discovering that Sean's sudden & unexpected death taught me lessons about love & loss and may be the most terrible and important thing that's ever happened to me

Willa Cather
John Steinbeck
Smithsonian magazine
Ernest Hemingway
The poetry of Sylvia Plath
Walt Whitman
Old House Journal
Any book about the Trans-Mississippi front during the Civil War, women during the Westward movement,
Jesse James, or the period of history from about 1850 to about 1890.

Taking a long drive to nowhere
Browsing antique stores
Laughing with John
Netflix Watch Instantly
Walking around town in the middle of the night
Playing with the cats
Debates with Dylan
Crossword puzzles
Games on
Front porch sitting

My intelligence
The ability to restore the exterior of my house without seriously injuring myself
My recovery from the illness (still undiagnosed) that made me sick for 14 months
The tat on my left wrist that reminds me of Sean

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Very Nearly Done

The kitchen wallpaper is done!  I finished it up yesterday morning and then spent the rest of the day browsing through antique stores with my mom.

This means that the kitchen, after almost eight months, is very nearly done.  I just need to put on four more cabinet pulls, fix the piece of backsplash that one of the cats worked loose, paint both sides of the door white, and hang up the cool vintage (1940s-1960s) ads I bought yesterday.  Oh, and take photos of the finished kitchen since it's the one room in the house that is just the way I want it.

Next up?  I seriously need to deal with that pee-pee carpet...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chickens Marching

I almost finished the kitchen wallpaper today.  Just a couple more strips to put up tomorrow.  I might've finished today were it not for the two-hour nap I took in the middle of the day.  Kinda cut into the productivity.

Now it's off to my mom's for supper. 

Better Days

The past couple of days have been better as far as the peripheral vertigo's effect on my balance, but it's been such beautiful weather that I just couldn't bear to be stuck inside doing projects.  So, I played outside Saturday and Sunday and am forcing myself inside today to get something accomplished. 

Here's where I am right now with the kitchen wallpaper:

I hope that by quitting time today, more of the walls are chicken-covered.  Progress photos to follow.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

My latest list of five things I am thankful for, in no particular order:

1.  People who have a sense of humor.  When I say I'm a fire and EMS dispatcher, I think what leaps to most people's minds is those terrifying, life-and-death calls you hear on the news sometimes.  We do get those every once in a while, but the majority of our calls are what we call "bread and butter"—ordinary medical calls like difficulty breathing, general illness, and chest pain.  Tonight a quite elderly man called 911 and when I said, "Sir, I'll just stay on the phone with you until the paramedics arrive," he replied calmly and politely, "Oh, that's not necessary.  Surely I'll live at least until they get here."  I love my job.

2.  The superhero that is Reed.  If y'all can stand just one more mention of the boyfriend....Last week I learned I might possibly have a chance to bid day shift at work.  I've worked nights for almost four years, but the possibility of working "normal" hours is tempting, so I debated the pros and cons with myself for a few days before telling Reed I was thinking about it.  He works days, but we haven't been together that long and I was unsure what he'd think of my even counting him among the reasons to turn my work schedule upside-down.  So, I laid it all out to him over supper.  He thought for a few minutes and said, "Of course I'd love to see you more, but the truth is that you have to do what's best for you."  Of course.  And now I know I'll have his support no matter what shift I bid.  I call him a superhero for good reason.

3.  My mom's inability to keep really good Christmas presents a secret until Christmas.  For years and years, my mother has started her Christmas shopping about mid-August.  When she finds something really good, she can't just stow it away until Christmas, try as she might.  Yesterday it was my turn for the early present.  I cut the tape on the box she hadn't even wrapped yet and inside...a Breadman bread maker!  Hooray!  I baked a loaf of bread as soon as I got it home.

4.  Baby Chase.  My daughter-in-law's sister had a baby girl two months ago, and one of my son's best friends had a baby boy just a few days later.  Dylan and Sarah have been baby-sitting a lot lately, and along with that has come a certain amount of baby fever.  I admit not being immune to it, either.  (Babies are just so cute and cuddly and sweet, aren't they?)  Monday night Dylan called me and asked me to come over.  When I got to his house, there sat he and his wife on the sofa, looking exhausted and a little shell-shocked.  "Um," I said, "I hear a baby crying."  Sarah looked at me a little tearfully.  "I know," she said, "and no matter what we do he won't stop crying."  I picked up Baby Chase and rocked him (it's amazing how these skills come right back to you) so Sarah and Dylan could eat supper.  As Sarah grabbed a second slice of pizza she remarked, "At least we can give him back in a couple hours when his mama gets here."  And Dylan said, "We are so not ready for kids of our own."  Lil Chase, I'm sorry you had such a bad tummy-ache, but thank you.

5.  Netflix Watch Instantly and FeedFliks.  I got a Netflix account because I am completely unable to return a video on time and the monthly fee for Netflix is cheaper than my late fees at the video store.  However, I'm unable to return a Netflix DVD right after I watch it, either.  It lays around my house for days, sometimes weeks, before I remember to mail it back.  It became questionable whether the Netflix account was really saving me money.  Then along came Watch Instantly, and I started watching movies on my laptop during down times at work and when there's nothing on tv at home.  Last week I learned about, a website that calculates your per-movie cost with Netflix.  Thanks to Watch Instantly, mine is down to 58 cents a movie.  Can't beat that!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What's That You Say?

The reason why there haven't been any posts about the progress on the interior projects is because...there hasn't been any progress.

And there hasn't been any progress because I have been diagnosed with something called Peripheral Vertigo.

Huh?  What?

I went to the doctor because, three weeks after recovering from a cold, I'm still dizzy quite often.  Sometimes it's mild; sometimes the room spins around me like a Tilt-A-Whirl and I have to hang on to something—a table, a nearby superhero, a chair—to keep from falling over.  The doc says it's usually caused from an inner ear injury or an untreated ear infection.  And sorry, but medicines don't seem to help much.  And, oh yeah, it's permanent.  What?!  I have to be this way forever?!  Unsatisfied with that prognosis, I googled it...and didn't find much.  Anyone know anything about this stuff?

So anyway, the past couple of days have been Tilt-A-Whirl days.  Not conducive to standing on a ladder to hang kitchen wallpaper, which by the way is what I've decided to do first.  After reading everyone's comments, it seems to make the most sense to start with the smallest unfinished project.  And I will...when I can stand on the ladder without feeling like I'm in the eye of a hurricane.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Continuing with the mice theme....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Behold the icky little mice frolicking in my front windows!
Templates available here, along with lots of other creepy-cool Halloween ideas from our girl Martha.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Inside Job(s)

Okay, so I bravely announced that The Kelly House projects are moving indoors for the season...and then I left you hanging.  While the outside of my house looks pretty nice now, the inside is a disaster.  An unqualified disaster.  I offer photographic proof.

Glue-encrusted floors.  Under the baby blue wool carpet that was pee-scented and stained, I found a thick rotted foam pad.  And under that, a 1970s-era carpet of gold, avocado green and brown.  Ick.  And it was stapled to the floor.  Under that, I found a pad that had turned to black clay and had to be removed with a putty knife.  And under that, I found...the glue-encrusted floors.  The floors in the entryway, front parlor, and dining room look like this.  Yuck.  I'm thinking this is not a DIY project.  My Christmas bonus at work will go towards getting rid of all this yuck.

Pee-pee carpet.  In the second parlor (which used to be my bedroom) the baby blue carpet still exists.  It's horrible.  So horrible, in fact, that I can't even show you a photo.  I'm too embarrassed.  Sometime soon, the last of the pee-pee carpet will be removed.  The naive part of me believes that the hardwood floor underneath will be beautiful.  The realist in me knows it will look like the floors in the rest of the house.

Kitchen wallpaper.  Remember way back in March and April when Mare and I rebuilt my front porch and put new countertops in the kitchen?  Yeah, I never finished hanging the kitchen wallpaper. 

Painted-over wallpaper and The Blister.  In the entryway and the front parlor, the walls are covered with this stuff, which I've been slowly removing.  (The carpet was the same color as the walls, by the way.) I would estimate that after a year of working on it, I'm about 50% done with the entryway, which is the smallest room in the house.  Make that very slowly removing.  In the front parlor above the mantel is the badly-patched hole where the stovepipe used to be.  I call it The Blister.  That'll be an interesting fix.

Dining room wallpaper.  This is my favorite room in the house.  I had good intentions of papering this last winter, but I couldn't decide on wallpaper.  Then spring came and...well, you know the rest.  Now I've decided on paper and just need to Do It. 

Yep, it's a disaster all right.  And even in the stretchiest of stretches of imagination, it won't all be done this winter.  Or even next winter.  Heck, I can't even decide what to start on first.  I have to get past this spinning-my-wheels stage and just rev up and start on something.  Anything.  I'll keep y'all posted.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


So the other night when I was over at Reed's house my cell phone rang.  I was scrunched up sideways in his big chair with my head hanging over the side trying to read the title of a book on the floor, so he picked up the phone and handed it to me.

"The display says 'White Trash Bob'," he said.

So I answered it and had a brief conversation with WTB, who'd just come home from 17 hours on the road and was taking a walk around the neighborhood, about how cute those darn cardboard mice in my front windows are.  (I know, I know, I need to post a pic.)

When I got off the phone, Reed asked me, "Who's White Trash Bob?" 

"He's Bob who lives across the street from me in that brick house he calls the Coal Miner's Despair.  You know, the guy who does all the Civil War stuff around here."  And then I made my mistake:  "Everyone I'm close to has a nickname in my phone."  Oops.

"Oh, really?"  Reed asked.  "So who am I?"

I tried to right myself and grab the phone back from the ottoman where I'd tossed it.  Reed was quicker.  "I just called you right before he did, so if I look in your phone log...Let's see...Reed Richards?"  He grinned.  "I'm Reed Richards in your phone?"

I should mention that when I'm embarrassed or nervous my ears get warm and turn bright red.  Seriously, they're like Rudolph's nose.  I had my hair in a ponytail.  My ears did not escape his attention.  "I am Reed Richards in your phone!  You think I'm like the guy who's the leader of the Fantastic Four?  Oh, because he's a scientist and I'm a biologist.  I get it.  But he's a superhero...Oh."  He grinned again.

I think he likes his nickname.  I also think he just might be a keeper.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What I'm Gonna Do

When I told Reed about the back wall of the house and how I was giving up on it for the year, he sighed and said, "Wow...I had a bad day at work, but not that bad."  I guess my frustration with the whole thing came through loud and clear.  He wisely waited until after I'd had a couple beers with my bestie and my son and daughter-in-law before he dared to ask, "So what are you gonna do now?" 

I explained to Reed (and now to y'all) that I had a feeling that the existing back door might not be in the same location it was when the back porch was originally closed in, because the back walkway goes straight up to the wall, and the existing back door is about three feet to the right of that walkway.  But I naively hoped that the previous back door opening, if it existed, would've been patched in neatly like the kitchen window was.  No such luck.  And I think I know now what that piece of wood to the left of the existing back door is.  I think when they moved the back door they cut into the wall and then said, "Oops!"  Realizing they made the cut too low, they just moved the door opening over a couple of inches, cut again, and filled in the gap with a piece of broken lumber.  That's my theory anyway.  But finding all that kinda took the wind out of my sails.  More than that, I'm fed up with the whole shingle-pulling thing at the moment. 

So here's what I'm gonna do:  I am abandoning the back wall of the house until Spring.  Yesterday I filled in all the cracks and nail holes I'd exposed, tossed all those shingles and strips of tar paper into a trash bag, and put my hammer, my scraper and my caulk gun away for the year.  Come Spring, I will take the rest of the shingles off that wall.  Hopefully, after a four- or five-month hiatus from this particular project, I will take in stride whatever other misfortune I might uncover.  Then, I'll take Karen Anne's advice and carefully pry off the clapboards that are patching the old door opening, line them up with the edges of the other clapboards, and nail them back in.  Some of them are only a teeny bit too short, and I'll use some Wood Bond to fill in those gaps.  I still have a few pieces of the 1870s siding that WTB salvaged a few years ago, and I'll use that to replace any clapboards I break or that are way too short for the opening.  If I uncover some other awful thing under the shingles that requires more clapboards than what I have, I'll go salvage some more from the falling-down house out in the country.  I have all winter to figure out who owns it and convince them to let me salvage the siding.  I know I could do all of that now, but I just don't want to.  I have developed a strong loathing for the back wall of the house and I just can't deal with it anymore.

So after I wound down from that long-winded explanation, Reed grinned and said, "I already guessed that...I meant, what's your next project on the house?"  Oh.  Whoops.  I thought for a moment and said, "I am gonna finish taking that stupid painted-over wallpaper off the entryway and the front parlor walls.  I think.  Or maybe I'm gonna put up the new wallpaper in the dining room.  Or both."  You heard it here first.  The Kelly House projects have moved indoors for the winter.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stupidity Should Hurt

Stupidity should hurt.  It should be painful.  If stupidity hurt, fewer people would commit stupid acts.  Take, for example, this, the photographic evidence of the act of stupidity that I uncovered today.

If the person who decided to fill in the old doorway without bothering to line up the edges of the clapboards or cut them in such a way so as not to leave big gaps in the siding of the house suddenly, as he or she was committing this act of stupidity, broke out in boils or a terrible rash or, appropriately, shingles, then perhaps they would've reconsidered doing such a crappy patching job. Or maybe not.

Either way, I do believe I've had just about enough of dealing with the back wall of the house for this year.  I've encountered more things that need to be fixed in this six- or seven-foot span of wall than on the entire rest of the house.  Tomorrow I will fill in the nail holes I opened up today, caulk the heck out of those gaps in the siding, pick up the shingles scattered all over the patio, and be done with the thing until Spring.  Unless I can locate the owner of the falling-down house out in the country that just happens to have lots and lots of intact clapboards still on it...and said owner is willing to let me have those clapboards...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Movie Time!

If you look real close at the last photo of the house, you can tell it was taken before WTB painted the last little bits of trim...but that'll be our little secret.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Going Slowly

I did nothing on the house on my four days off.  Nothing.  But yesterday and today, in between the cold drizzle, I did get a few more shingles torn off the back of the house.  If it looks like it's going slowly, it's because, well, it is going slowly.  I'm filling in the nail holes and the cracks as I go along, since I'm fairly certain that I won't get the entire back wall done before winter.  That wall looks a whole lot bigger now that the shed's gone.  A whole lot bigger.   Whoever put the shingles on also put a fairly large piece of trim snug up against the eaves of the house over the top row of shingles, I guess to make it look (cough, cough) nicer.  I'll have to pry that trim piece off before I can get those shingles off the house.   So I'm waiting on WTB to loan me his WonderBar again. And speaking of trim pieces....I'm not real sure what purpose that piece of wood to the left of the door serves.  You might not be able to see it in the photo, but the clapboards are sawed out around the piece of wood.  Why?  WTB has a one-word theory:  "Stupidity."  No matter, he has a relatively easy fix for it.  I'll just buy some trim wide enough to cover up the stupidity, he'll cut it to length, and I'll put it up around the door frame.  Because of the shingles, the door frame's not flush with the wall anyway, so I think putting up that trim will actually make it look better.  I also need to remove that non-working doorbell from the right side of the doorway.  (There used to be two doorbells there, neither of which worked, but I already took off the other one.)  And while I'm out there removing useless things, I ought to get rid of that railing, too.   Maybe when it's warmer...

And by the way, the glowing eyes in the photo belong to Louis, the littlest of my three cats.