Saturday, August 29, 2009
For the next four days, I will be painting. I will put the second coat of dark green paint on the freizeboard and corner piece on the east side of the house, paint that little corner of the wall between the house and the side porch that for some reason I missed, and scrape and paint those two windows on the east side that are still white. I will scrub the dirt off the side porch trim and scrape off any loose paint and then re-paint it cream, will get the second coat of cream paint on the inside of the screen porch panels and re-hang my matchstick shades, will scrape off the loose paint on the front porch, fill some nail holes I missed, and paint the front porch yellow. I will toenail in those porch brackets piled on my dining room chairs. I will ask someone to move the big ladder over to the west side of the house so I can put on the second coat of paint above the dining room bay, then ask them to move the ladder again to the front of the house so I can paint the scary part above the living room bump-out.
I will do all of that. Well, okay, I'll do as much of that as I possibly can, and hope to get to the library to give you words, but still no photos, of my progress.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Here's what White Trash Bob and I got done Sunday: we dug up the groundcover that had been planted on either side of the front steps and planted daylilies and ajuga in its place, we unearthed two cinder blocks next to the steps and put them in the back yard, I planted more daylilies on the west side of the house, WTB pulled up two scraggly trees that had been growing in the yard, I tore the DirecTV cable off the house and WTB sent the satellite dish crashing to the ground (but left the dish bracket in place so I don't have holes in my roof), I trimmed back the rosebush by the front porch and trained it up the porch post and along the top of the porch so it looks more like Mrs. Kelly's rosebush in the 1906 photo of the house, and WTB cut down with a Sawzall the ugly railing made of pipe that had been next to my front steps. Yes, I am now the President of the WTB Fan Club!
And on Monday, I: planted lilies of the valley on both sides of the front sidewalk, watered everything we'd planted on Sunday (and noticed that WTB fixed the connection from the hose to the spigot so water doesn't spray everywhere), took the storm windows off of the last two unpainted windows on the west side of the house and scraped and cleaned the windows, planted some columbine and Siberian iris my mom gave me, spent an inordinate amount of time poking around in the back yard with a piece of rebar to try and find the foundation of Mr. Kelly's stable (with no luck), and promised Carl I'd help him at The Parsonage during the Old Homes Tour.
Then on Tuesday, I: painted those two windows and the storms on the west side of the house (which means I have only four windows left to paint!), watered everything again, pulled the dead plants out of the containers on my front porch, bought a lavender mum to put in the big planter on the porch, painted the rest of the inside of the new screened porch panels, scraped some paint and filled some nail holes on the front porch, put up my new curtain rods with the nifty bay window connectors in the dining room, hung the dining room sheers, and took my daughter-in-law to supper.
Those lists would've been so much nicer if they had photos along with them....sigh...
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
My son is the sixth generation of my family to make our home in Lafayette County, and the third generation to live in Lexington. Like many of the natives, we're so surrounded by the history of our little town that I think we tend to take it for granted. But when I stop and read my hometown's tourism website, www.VisitLexingtonMo.com , I realize how extraordinary this place really is. The oldest Courthouse west of the Mississippi River still in continuous use, an important stop for the westward-bound settlers along the Santa Fe trail, the site of a Civil War battle, the location of the headquarters for the firm that founded the Pony Express...Oh, I'm sorry, am I rambling on? Here, let me put away my tourism soapbox and get back to telling you about the Kelly House.
So anyhow, even though my house isn't on the tour, since it's right across the street I thought it might be nice to straighten up the place a bit. I remembered from the research I did last winter that Maria Kelly (the wife of James Crawford Kelly, who built this house) was known as an immaculate housekeeper. I'm sure she's plenty unhappy with the interior of her house these days, but the outside doesn't look so bad. Or does it? I stood on the sidewalk in front of Carl's house and channeled Maria Kelly while looking at her/my house with a critical eye. For some reason "Beverly Hillbillies" came to mind....maybe it's the paint cans here and there on the front porch, or the dead flowers in the pots on the steps, or the trees sprouting up in the yard, or the satellite cable dangling off the edge of the house...
So I got to work. I was digging a hole in the front yard when who should come along but White Trash Bob to ask me what the heck I was doing. When I explained it to him, he pitched in and helped. Actually, he took over the front yard project and I helped a very little bit. Of course he did. That's what White Trash Bob does, and bless his heart for doing so. I got lots more done today with Bob around than I ever would've accomplished by myself, and none of it involved painting. What it did involve is a whole lot of what Bob calls "curb appeal", and I didn't even think to take photos until it was too dark to do so. So, lots of photos tomorrow—of today's work and Monday's too. How's that for a cliffhanger that will have you coming back??
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
In other news...the very nice cable man arrived just before 5 p.m. to install my cable. He kindly informed me that I wouldn't have cable in my bedroom until I bought either a new television or a new DVD player to run the cable through. Five minutes after he left, I connected the wire that was dangling on the floor to the back of the television and—wabam!—it worked. Amazing. Also amazing is that he apparently forgot to flip a little switch somewhere or something, and I'm getting HBO, Showtime and The Movie Channel while paying only for basic cable. (Insert evil laugh here.) This is the same cable company that's been providing free cable to my son and his wife for almost two years, despite my son's several calls to them saying that he doesn't want cable. His reason for not wanting cable, though, is that he can't afford it...so now the cable company's made that a moot point.
And my sweet little momma, whose backyard looks like a "Better Homes & Gardens" photo spread, informed me a couple of days ago that she's making broad gravel paths through her gardens and putting in garden benches and such so she doesn't have so many plants to take care of. Would I like to have a few hostas and daylilies, she wondered. Of course I would! My own yard is a mess of weeds and vinca, which I hate. So yesterday I picked up seven bags of hostas. Today I got six bags of daylilies. This is "a few"?!? Wah-hoo! I'll be planting them tomorrow before I go to work. She left a lot of dirt around the root balls and put water in the sacks, too, so they'll be okay til then. My plan is to just stick 'em in the ground someplace for now and divide and relocate them in the spring.
Someday soon, hopefully Sunday, I'll put some more paint on the house and post some photos of the progress.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The only things I accomplished on my three days off were a couple of phone calls to disconnect my DirecTV and unused phone line, and to have cable tv installed. Yep, after much debate and research and debacle, I decided to go with the cable company. Just over $63 a month for tv and internet, saving myself a whopping $78 a month over what I've been paying. Oh, and I very slowly painted a little bit of the porch trim under the roof in the pouring rain until I almost fell off a 3-step ladder and decided the painting just wasn't worth the effort.
And I'm starting to feel better, just in time to go back to work tomorrow night. Here's hoping my vacation days got covered, which would make both this week and next short work weeks. (Short work weeks at work mean longer work weeks at home.)
Thursday, August 13, 2009
So...six more windows, three sections of screen panel, two walls under the front porch roof, and two scary parts of the house left to do! Then a few non-painting odds and ends like nailing up the porch brackets, putting the downspouts back on, re-attaching the hose holder to the house, and whatever else I've forgotten.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I did add a few more things to the Almost-Done List: finished painting the last of the front windows and put the storm window back up, but didn't have enough time to paint it; put the first coat of yellow paint on the clapboards Bob replaced, but the high humidity made the paint take forever to dry so they didn't get a second coat; and swept the floor of the front porch and moved the furniture around so I can get to the two walls and two windows there that need to be scraped, caulked and painted.
Tomorrow I'll paint the storm window and put the second coat of paint on the side porch clapboards, and then I can mark those two things off the List of the Un-Done.
There's a quote by Charles Haddon Spurgeon that I think sums up my projects perfectly: "By perseverance the snail reached the ark."
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
So all I have to show for today is a few almost-dones. I put together the rest of the porch brackets before I went to bed (since that was around 3 a.m., it counts as today) but didn't get them nailed onto the porch. I finished painting all those teeny little muntins on the last of the windows that have teeny little muntins, but got only the first coat of cream paint on the window trim. I put one coat of dark green paint on the last of the freize boards that was still white, but it needs a second coat. And finally, I painted the tops (but not the rest) of two of the three screen panels. Yep, that's it. Stunning achievements for a four-hour workday, no?
But wait, today was not a total loss. I did do a good deed today. While looking for Mare at the house where he's supposed to be working, I saw that one of the horses (not a mare, by the way) had gotten out and was wandering through the front yard. No one was home. I briefly considered trying to put the horse back inside the fence by myself but decided against it based on the following facts: I know nothing about horses, there were other horses inside the fence and I was worried that while trying to put one horse back in ten horses would get out, and the horse had no bridle or leash or handle thingy with which to lead it. Oh yeah, and I know nothing about horses. So I left and looked up the number for Big River Ranch, where there are horses, on the off chance that horse people hang out together and someone there would help. Turns out the guy who answered the phone is the owner of the horses at that house. He muchly appreciated my phone call. Yay for small towns where such a thing is possible!
So back I went to the Kelly House and pondered the List of the Un-Done. Still the same as yesterday's list. Sigh. Maybe I'll be feelin it tomorrow.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I knew when I woke up this morning that I wouldn't. Too much was still on the List of the Un-Done: 7 windows, 6 clapboards on the side porch, 3 sections of the screen panels, 2 walls on the front of the house under the porch roof, 1 scary part on the front of the house and 1 scary part on the west side of the house. My goal was to finish the last of the front windows with all those little stained glass panes and to paint the two dining room windows. I didn't even finish that because it rained this afternoon. Before the rain, I managed to get the storm window off the front window, clean the window, scrape white paint from the previous paint job off the stained glass panes, scrape the window trim and get the first coat of black paint on the window. During the rain, I finished painting one of the screen panels. Before I go to bed tonight, I'll assemble the other four porch brackets just in case Mare shows up tomorrow.
So I didn't finish the house today. I'm okay with that. I will finish it, and soon.
Does he read the blog? Did his house restoration Spidey-Sense tell him something needed to be fixed? Did he notice the holes on one of his visits over here? Don't know. Doesn't matter. The holes are fixed. And that makes White Trash Bob the best neighbor ever.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
But there's still a heap of boards on the side porch floor. Not just any old boards, though. These are clapboards (lap siding) that White Trash Bob salvaged from an 1870s house that was being demolished. And why did he salvage them and then stack them on my side porch?
To fix these holes in the house, of course.... Never mind that at the time Bob salvaged the boards, he probably thought someone else would help me fix those holes. But guess what? Now I need WTB's help.He just doesn't know it yet. Wonder if he's a regular reader of my blog?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Yesterday I called DirecTV and told them one of my receivers didn't work. They asked me several questions about the problem and determined that I need a new receiver. This afternoon when I went out on the front porch, I nearly tripped over the new receiver UPS had delivered. How did it get here so fast?? Wow. The Netflix people must work at DirecTV, too.
This afternoon Floyd and I had a conversation about the DishTV debacle. He agreed with me that putting my satellite dish on his roof was not a good option. We walked together back to the alley to look at another neighbor's satellite dish. It's a DishTV dish and is sited on her garage, north and slightly west of my dish. Floyd's house is east of mine. I still don't understand how DirecTV can work but DishTV cannot. Floyd said, "Like DishTV launches their own rocket up there and it's in a whole different place than DirecTV."
Here are the numbers so you can understand my frustration and my urgency in wanting to go to another option. Currently I'm paying about $142/month for Embarq and DirecTV, with that cost split almost evenly between the two. DirecTV tells me if I bundle, I can save $5/month on my satellite bill (to which I said, "That's it?!"), but they do not know what my Embarq bill will be. Embarq tells me that if I bundle DishTV and Embarq my monthly cost for both, including taxes, will be about $80/month. They won't call me back to tell me what the DirecTV price might be. Using the cable company as both a tv and an internet provider would cost me about $60/month for fewer channels, and about $80/month for a package similar to what I have now. I need to do something. But I can't do anything until Embarq calls me back!
First, I researched the different packages on DirecTV to see if I really need all the channels I pay for. While I was doing that, I noticed a sidebar blurb about bundling satellite and internet. So I called their customer service. The two things I like best about DirecTV—and these are key to this saga—is that the few times I've had to call customer service, the people there are really nice and their installer took a lot of care to site my dish so it can't be seen from the street. (You can see it in the photos of the east side of my house from a couple posts ago.) I really wanted to stay with DirecTV, but not at the current price. "Yes," I was told, "you can bundle satellite and internet, and we partner with Embarq in your area." They explained that I would have to call Embarq to set up the bundling price.
And that's where the trouble started. "We don't partner with DirecTV," the guy at Embarq said. He was one of those salespeople who talks a mile a minute about the great deals that his company offers and won't let you get a word in edgewise. That irritates me. I pointed out that DirecTV's customer service people said they do partner with Embarq. He said they do not, and tried to sell me a package with DishTV instead. I declined.
Then I went on DishTV's website and saw that it's essentially the same thing I have now, just loads cheaper if I bundle with the phone company. Like sixty bucks a month cheaper. So I called Embarq back and set it all up. Hey, I can be bought.
But then White Trash Bob told me that he bundles cable tv and internet at his house, has had it for nine years with nary an issue, and it's tons cheaper even than DishTV and Embarq. So I called the cable company and discovered that Bob's right. It's less than half what I'm paying now. Wow. I'd have fewer channels (65 vs. 200) and a bit slower internet, though. So I pondered. In the meantime, another friend called complaining about the poor quality of cable tv in our area. Hmm. I phone-polled my friends to see what they have and how they like it. In the end, I decided to go with DishTV and Embarq and made an installation appointment (through Embarq, mind you) for DishTV. The installer was supposed to be at my house between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
But noooooo...this morning at 8 a.m. my phone rang. I didn't recognize the number so I didn't answer. Whoever it was didn't leave a voicemail. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. Ten minutes later the phone rang again. Same number. Same response from me. Then again. And again. Finally, the sixth time the phone rang within 35 minutes, I snarled, "What?!" into the phone at the same time I heard pounding on the front door. It was the DishTV guy, on the phone and at the door. So I went outside with him, in my jammies, to show him the current location of the dish. He climbed up Floyd's ladder, looked through some binocular-looking thing, and declared, "Nope. It's not gonna work. No line of sight." What?! "No way it's gonna work," he said. "Guess your best bet's to stay with DirecTV." What great customer service. What a salesman he is, right?! He then suggested that I might be able to site my dish on Floyd and Gwen's house. Uh, I don't think so. They like me and all, but even my sleep-hazed brain could conceive of a few issues with that arrangement. So he left, ten minutes after his arrival.
In a snit, I called Embarq back to tell them of this little snag in my plans. My call went to the salesperson's voicemail. I called DirecTV again and told them I didn't mean it when I said I was leaving, and by the way, do they partner with Embarq to bundle internet and tv? "Yes," they said. I pressed them. Are you positive, because Embarq says otherwise? Are you absolutely certain? Would you bet your next paycheck on it?? Yes, yes, and yes. I called Embarq again. Voicemail again. I left a message explaining the problem with DishTV, informed them that DirecTV does indeed partner with them, and could I please have the DishTV bundling deal with DirecTV instead? Some 16 hours later, I still haven't received a call back from Embarq. Grrrr.
So, a day later I've wasted several hours in research and setting up new service, only to be right back where I started. This morning when Embarq's customer service center opens I will do battle again with them in an effort to discover their rock-bottom DirecTV/Embarq bundling price and see how it compares to the cable company's deal. Oh yeah, and now one of my DirecTV receivers has stopped working. Grrrrr.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
See, I was waaaaay up on the ladder on the east side of the house, putting dark green paint on the last little part of the frieze board when I heard someone say, "Well now, you musta gotten over your fear of heights." I looked down—because I'm not so afraid to do that now—and there stood Mare in my side yard. Y'all remember Mare, the Porch Elf who helped me demolish my old porch and build my pretty new one. He's back in town doing some other restoration work. And as usual, we had one of those conversations that almost, but not quite, makes me forget that he's one of those people who's better in very small doses:
Me: "I gotta tell you somethin!"
Mare: "I gotta tell you somethin, too!"
Me: "About that porch?"
Mare: "The one we built?"
Me: "On our old house, yeah. Didya see it?!"
Mare: "I saw it!"
Said together: "What the hell?!"
Mare: "What's he doin? What's he thinkin?"
Me: "Don't know. We built that porch to last forever."
Mare: "And he called me. Left a message, but no explanation."
Me: "Let's just go up there."
So we did. Go up there, I mean. To the house up the street that Mare and I lived in and worked on together. The house which had, when Mare bought it, a long Victorian porch stretching across the front of the house until he tore off that porch and we built a much smaller one in better keeping with the style of an 1839 Greek Revival. That porch is still there on the house, but the pineapple-motif railing that Mare made himself and we put around the porch roof is gone. So are the small windows on either side of the second-floor door that opens onto that porch roof. The lower half of the door is covered with a big sheet of plastic held in place by black electrical tape. We stood there on the sidewalk playing Paper-Scissors-Rock over who was going to go knock on the door until I grabbed Mare by the arm and pulled him down the brick walkway with me. "Knock!" I said. "You knock!" he said back. I frowned. He knocked. No one answered the door. Darnit. So we walked across the street and sat on the steps of the Christian Church (the one the Kellys who built my house attended) and critiqued our former house.
Me: "I like the yard and the flowerbeds. It's a whole lot better than the weeds we had."
Mare: "It sure is....but the house could use some paint."
Me: "And a new porch rail, apparently."
Mare: "Look at all those drapes in the windows."
Me: "I heard on good authority the drapes in the right-side parlor have mercury-glass tiebacks."
Mare: "That money woulda bought a lot of paint."
Me: "The house needs a lot of paint."
Mare: "The house needs the old porch rail back. And I need a cold beer."
So we walked down the street to the bar and had a couple of cold ones while continuing the discussion about old houses and restoration and the likelihood (slim to none, we agreed) that the owner of our old house was calling Mare about hiring him to rebuild the porch. By the time we got back to the Kelly House it was just before midnight.
And that's why this post is about Tuesday and there's no photo.
Monday, August 3, 2009
The updated List of the Un-Done: seven windows (still—darn that miscount!), the area above the front parlor bump-out, the front of the house inside the new screened porch, the part above the dining room bay, the trim on the screened porch, the spandrel on the side porch, and a couple of dark green corner pieces and a frieze board. Not too bad. And there are two non-painting chores to be done as well, but I don't want to talk about those right now. Because right now I am going to eat cold grilled chicken, marinated cucumbers and tomatoes, and a little bowl of fresh peaches with dark chocolate shavings on top, all of which someone else made for me. Wah-hoo!
Saturday, August 1, 2009
And, over at the Kelly House, there's a little progress too. The corner pieces of the side porch have been painted green, some other trim pieces have been painted green, and part of the front porch has been scraped and caulked. (The house doesn't look substantially different, so I didn't take any pics.) My son's coming over later today (it's the wee hours of the morning now) to drag my neighbor's very tall extension ladder out of storage and set it up against the house. Prepare for posts containing such words as "Eek!" and "Yikes!" when I get around to standing on the bay roofs to paint.