Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Doors

Karen Anne asked if I still have the original doors and transoms from the ends of my side porch and if I knew why they closed in those doors.  The short answer is no to both, but here's the better answer:

Last summer when my friend Larry and I were taking the shingles off the side porch (and I was freaking out over the mud dawber nests) we uncovered those trim pieces side by side and then uncovered a threshold.  Once we started scraping off the tar paper and the flaking white paint, we saw ghosts of small scalloped hinges on one of the trim pieces and realized there must've been a screen door there.  We found similar hinge ghosts and construction on the other end of the porch, too.  (By the way, the photos of those marks are among the photos I lost when my hard drive crashed and you can't see the marks as clearly now that I've painted the trim.  Darnit.)  Originally there must have been doors at either "short" end of the side porch.  Larry's thinking is that with the doors and transoms open, as well as the windows in the house, there would have been a nice cross-breeze throughout the house.  The door on the south end of the porch would've opened into the second parlor and the door on the north end would've opened into a bedroom.  It must have been really pretty as well as being cool in the summer. 

As I was standing there last summer lamenting the loss of those doors, Larry was frowning, deep in thought.  "What's on the other side of this wall, kid?" he asked me.  Closets, in both rooms.  So he carefully took off a clapboard in order to see inside the wall.  We were both hoping that the doors and transoms were encased in the newer wall.  No such luck.  The back wall of both closets is drywall, and although I've been tempted to hack into it and see if the interior door trim still exists underneath it, I haven't done so yet.  I doubt it's there, and unless and until I replace those original doors, I don't want to go sawing big holes in my closet walls.  We think the addition of those two closets is probably the reason the doors were closed in.  I'd rather have the doors, myself. 

Without the original doors, obviously I can't know for sure that they had transoms; however, since every other original door in my house (except for the one between the dining room and the kitchen) has a transom window above it, I'm making an educated guess that those porch doors did, too.  Mentioning original doors brings me to this:

That, with slight variations in the trim, is what all my interior doors look like.  All of the original circa 1887 doors have been sawed in half vertically.  This might be even more of an indignity to my poor house than the shingles.  At least I could right that wrong.  I fear the only fix for this is to buy doors salvaged from another old house.  Not only did they saw the doors in half, they apparently threw away most of the original hardware.  (They did re-use the steeple hinges, although not on this particular door.)  I mean, seriously, what kind of misguided idiot does something like that?!  Oh...the answer's in the question.

Monday, September 28, 2009

As Requested

I want y'all to know that I wouldn't show just anyone these first two photos.  My backyard is my secret shame. And here it is, in all its junky glory....  First up, the carport roof.  Note the big holes in it, which really don't look as bad in this photo as they do in real life.  Note the cinder block on the corner of the roof.  I'm not sure what it's purpose is, but it was like that when I bought the house and so it's staying there.  For now, anyway.  If my money situation and the weather hold, this carport will have a new roof before winter.  Just to the left of my carport is my neighbor Martha's garage.  I heart her garage. 

And here's a photo of my teeny back yard, as Jan requested.  Carport in the alley, shed roof in the lower right corner.  Dresser with raccoon doody on it next to the sidewalk.  (Photo taken from the roof of the house, by the way, and aren't I brave?)  My son and his wife decided they didn't want the shed, so for the past two days I've been wondering what the heck I was gonna do with it.  That's no longer a problem.  As I was posting these photos, a guy showed up on my front porch to ask if he could have the stuff stacked up in the alley.  (Window screens, tomato cages, some ancient and rusted tools, a trunk made of plywood and a wall cabinet covered in orange contact paper, all of which came out of the shed.  See it there behind my car, next to the far right carport post?)  "Take all of it," I said, "And hey, you wouldn't want a metal shed, would ya?"  He would.  He'll be back this afternoon to tear it down.  Yay!

And on a brighter note, the side porch.  Now completely painted.  Well, except for the floor and the temporary steps.  I think I mentioned that the porch floor has some wood rot.  It's mostly along the outer edge of the porch and I think it was caused from years of the porch gutter being full and rain overflowing onto the edge of the porch.  The outdoor carpeting that was glued to the porch helped trap in some of that moisture, too.  I cleaned out the gutter and the downspout so the rain now flows out into the yard and got rid of that carpet.  I still need to shore up the edges of the floor with wood filler and put some primer on it.  (The rest of the porch floor still has a pretty good coat of paint on it.)  At one time this porch had a little railing along it and some decent steps.  It also had lattice behind the steps instead of plywood.  Apparently the previous owner had possums living in the basement and was convinced they made access underneath the side porch, so she had the bottom of the porch encased in plywood.  My neighbors can't remember if they just nailed the plywood over the lattice or threw it away.  I'm planning to find out next spring/summer when I finish fixing up the side porch.  If I win the lottery between now and then, I'll put back the two doors and transoms that were originally at each short end of the porch.  See those two green trim pieces side by side on the short end of the porch?  The one on the right was originally the door jamb and still has marks from the screen door hinges on it, and if you look real close you can see the threshold, too.)

When I look real close at that side porch photo, I see that the gutter and downspout need to be painted, and so does that window on the left.  I think I'll go get started on that...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Suitable For Framing

Round here, we aim to please.  I'll get to the rest of your photo requests tomorrow, because I didn't have time to take photos before I left for work tonight.  But in the meantime, here's a photo of our beloved WTB which somehow just happened to be on my laptop when I went to pick it up from his house today. 

More Good News

At long last, this afternoon I'll get my laptop back!  Hooray!  I would've gotten it back yesterday, but WTB discovered that Best Buy had sold me the wrong hard drive, so he had to drive all the way up to The City to exchange it for the right one and didn't get back before I left for work.  No matter.  This afternoon my laptop and I will be happily reunited!  Hooray, hurrah, yippee!! 

No more going to the library and waiting in line to use the internet...no more craning my neck at work because the monitor's mounted on the wall...no more kicking things and saying "darnit, darnit!" at home over not being able to look something up instantly...and best of all...no more blog posts without photos.

Expect photos on Saturday and/or Sunday.  I'm taking requests, so comment with any photos you'd like to see.  I'm thinking y'all will come up with something better than the pile of junk and the hulking dresser (sans drawers and covered with raccoon doody) that I hauled out of the shed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


After nearly a week of fear and worry, my bestie got a phone call from the lab.  "Your biopsy came back negative."

She called to tell me and after I whooped, kissed the nearest cat, and danced around the kitchen, I said, "But the doctor said you have cancer.  She told us it was one of three kinds, that it might be bad or not, that it wasn't in your lymph nodes.  She discussed radiation and treatment options and survival rates, for God's sake." 

Apparently that doctor was wrong.  I say we go kick her butt.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The C Word

My bestie has breast cancer.

There.  I said it.  Or at least, I typed it.  And I want y'all to know that although I have a big lump in my throat from typing it, I'm not crying.  Not yet.  There's too much we don't know yet.  Maybe later I'll cry, if further developments warrant it.  My bestie's not crying yet either.  "Maybe I should be more upset about this than I am," she said tonight.  How the hell do I know?  This is territory that neither of us has wandered into before.

What I do know is this:  for maybe only the fourth or fifth time since Sean died in April, I prayed.  See, me and God haven't been on real good terms since He looked away for a moment that Easter weekend, say to check on the famine in Africa or something, and Sean's blood sugar bottomed out while he was driving home to get his insulin.  My bestie knows this about me.  "You will pray again," she said in her calm way, "when you feel like you need to."  Well, guess what?  Now I feel like I need to. 

So I prayed a cobbled-together little prayer in the parking lot at work tonight.  It went something like this:  Hey God, I know you're busy and all and you have better things to do than sit up there drummin' your fingers on your celestial table and waiting for me to get my head out of my butt—oh, sorry—but if you were maybe tryin' to get my attention with this thing you let happen to my bestie...well, it worked.  I'm payin' attention now.  And I'd really appreciate it if you could see your way clear to not take her from me, not just yet.  If you could maybe strike her with some weak little cancer that curls up and dies right away like that big spider in my bathroom, if you could do that, that'd be really cool.  Because I need her, okay?  And also, you know how she worries.  Well, if you could make it so she doesn't worry so much, that'd be awesome, too.  I don't want her to worry and be afraid, okay?  Because it might really be an itty-bitty-spider kind of cancer, right, like the doctor said.  I mean, you got some leeway here, you know?  And me and my bestie, we're kinda big on signs, so if you could send us some kind of sign that, you know, sorta points us in the right direction here, we could use it.  That's all.  For now, I mean.  Thanks for listening.

And then I got all settled in at work and logged onto Facebook, and right there at the top of the page was my friend Angela's status:  "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27  Oh.  A sign already.  I just had to laugh.  Here I am, praying my little heart out for a sign, and God goes and hits me right upside the head with one.  I figure He's not much on subtlety with a lost sheep like me. 

And that's all for now.  I just wanted to throw this out there so y'all would know, in case someone who prays with more faith than I have might want to say a little word or two about my bestie to God or your Higher Power or whoever or whatever you believe makes the world and everything in it tick along.  So thanks for that.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Definitely, Maybe

Now that I'm almost done painting the house—the List of the Un-Done:  four pieces of porch trim, three lengths of gutter,  two side windows and one last clapboard (sung to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas")—I'm thinking about what to do next.  Six months or so ago I thought I'd tear down the ugly shed behind the house, tear down the carport in the alley, put up a new shed where the carport used to be, and then rip the rest of the shingles off the back of the house.  Those plans have changed a little...

I'm still going to tear the shed down, but in a less violent manner than I'd originally planned.  Think disassembly rather than destruction.  The reason for this is that my son and daughter-in-law uncovered a concrete pad in their big back yard underneath 20 years of brush and overgrowth and mentioned that they would really like a shed there.  Serendipity:  they need a shed; I need to get rid of a shed.  I'll even buy the Rustoleum so they can repaint it as a thank-you to Dylan for hauling the thing away.

Then WTB and I had a conversation about the carport while sitting on the back porch roof of the house (which gave us a really good look at the carport roof) and I decided that what I really need to do is replace the carport roof instead of consigning the whole thing to the trash heap.  The structure of the carport is still in good shape (although it needs painting) but the top is more holes than roof.  I'm thinking corrugated fiberglass roof panels, since the roof is almost flat.  I think that will work better than the asphalt shingles it was originally roofed with, which fly off the roof in big pieces and land all over the alley (and sometimes on my neighbor's car) every time we have a storm.

And then, while I was dragging the fourth bag of trash from the shed to the trashcan in the alley, my neighbor Floyd asked me what I was doing.  So I explained to him about the old shed, and the carport roof, and the new shed.  He thought for a moment, then said, "But do you really need a shed?  You don't have a lawnmower or any big tools or a bunch of chemicals that can't be stored in the house, and if you don't buy a new shed you'll only have the expense of the carport roof."  Brilliant!  I can store my rakes and shovel and other gardening tools in the big closet in my laundry room.

Now about those shingles on the back of the house...I really, really want to get rid of them.  WTB and my bestie Sharon say I'll run out of time before winter.  In my little heart of hearts, I think they might just possibly be right.  Oh, I'd have those shingles off in no time...but then I'd have to scrape and caulk and fill thousands of nail holes.  But the paint can label does say it can be used down to 35 degrees... I guess I said that last part out loud, because Sharon laughed and WTB gave us the fish eye. 

So the shed goes to Dylan's instead of the trash, the carport stays, the shed won't be replaced and the shingles on the back of the house...sigh...stay there 'til Spring.  Definitely.  Well, maybe.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Now I Know

I don't suffer fools well.  Especially when the fool is me.  So...I'll tell you a little story that I shouldn't have had to tell you.

Last summer I took three downspouts off the west side of the house to get to the layers of shingles underneath.  (Well, actually, I took off two of them—the other one fell off when my mom was prying on a particularly stubborn row of shingles and nearly hit her in the head.)  The downspouts laid there in the side yard last fall while I painted the front third of the west side of the house.  The downspouts laid there in the side yard even after I finished painting that part of the house.  They laid there all winter through the ice and snow.  They laid there all spring through the rains.  They laid there—well, you can see where this is going, can't you?  Yep, they laid there until yesterday, when I put them back up.

But before I could put them back up, there was the little problem of fixing the water damage to the new paint job that a year without downspouts had caused.  Without downspouts, rain or sleet or melted snow runs down the side of the house, where it seeps into the tiniest crack in the paint and causes it to bubble up and peel off.  You probably knew this.  I should have known it. 

Now, I know it.  After spending about four hours scraping off peeling paint that I'd just put on six months ago, then repainting a narrow swath of the house where the downspouts should have been, then finally hanging up the downspouts and painting them, now I know it.   Some lessons I just have to learn the hard way.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Odds And Ends

Thanks, everybody, for the nice comments about the house!  Not to brag, but I am a little proud of myself.  However....I can't rest on my laurels yet.  The house isn't really done.  Oh, I know it looks done—and it almost is—but it's not completely done.  There are still some odds and ends to do, and I'll tell you all about those as I get to 'em.  (Like that tree growing on the front porch roof that really ought to be pulled up before droves of people come through my neighborhood for the Old Homes Tour.)  And then, when I'm really and truly done, I'll post a slideshow of the whole darn process. 

In the meantime, I have a little story to share:  a couple of days ago I was standing on the roof at the back of the house (more about that later) when an SUV rolled slowly down the alley, came to a stop by my carport, and a guy yelled, "Hey, is this your house?  Did you do all this work?"  When I yelled back, "Yes, to both!" he threw back his head and laughed.  "I looked at this house four years ago," he said, "and decided not to buy it because taking off those shingles was too much work!  You don't want to sell it now, do ya?!"

I grinned.  "No way, sir.  No way."

Christmas In September, Part II

And a couple more...

The next two projects:  tearing down that ugly shed this fall, and tearing off those shingles next spring.  Next spring.  Not this fall.  Remind me that I said that, okay?

And. finally, the best for last...the front of the house!

Christmas In September

As promised, pics of the house!!

The Light Bulb Went On

Y'all know that saying about two heads being better than one.  Well....

Jan asked, "Does WTB have a computer you can use for 5 minutes to post a photo????"

And the light bulb went on.  Oh.  I could borrow someone else's computer.  Or, as I said out loud when I read Jan's comment from a couple posts ago, "Well, DUH!"  So I'll ask my bestie Sharon if I can borrow her laptop for a bit this afternoon.  I'm sure she'll say yes.   

So, unless Sharon's busy, there will be photos here late this afternoon.  (Sometime after 4 p.m. Central Time.)  Photos of the porch brackets and the painted gables and the front of the house and the spruced-up back gate and whatever else I find on my digital camera that seems worth sharing.

Thanks, Jan!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

House of Vermin

First it was ticks.  Then spiders.  What next?  A mouse, that's what.

I came home from Wal-Mart about 3 a.m. this morning to find two of the cats sitting on my stove staring intently at the range hood.  I shooed them off and started unpacking groceries.  Then I heard it:  scrabble, scrabble, thump...scrabble, scrabble, thump.  Coming from the exhaust vent above the range hood.  Something was in there.  Something alive.  I took the screens off the range hood and looked up in there.  Nothing.  I briefly considered calling WTB, but given the hour, I thought he might not appreciate it.  So I went to bed.  And I dreamed of birds nesting in my vent, or a squirrel that somehow burrowed in there.

When I woke up this afternoon, there were the cats again on the stove.  I wonder if they kept a vigil there all night long?  I called WTB who came right over.  (Of course he did; that what he does.)  He took the screens off the range hood and then turned on the fan.  "Well," he said, "I don't hear anything getting ground up in the fan blades."  So he turned the fan off and stuck a knife up in there to prop the vent open.  At which point a teeny little mouse dropped out onto the stove.  I threw a towel to WTB, he threw it over the mouse, and we ran outside and across the street with it.  When we let it go, the mouse ran straight for Carl's house.  What a good neighbor I am, giving a mouse to Carl.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

On The Brink

It's 5:17 a.m. Sunday morning.  Less than two hours til the end of my shift.  I'm on the brink of three days off—wahoo!  

And for once, I don't have to check the weather forecast because....this is exciting, folks....the biggest part of the house that's still unpainted is under the front porch roof.  Yep, as I walked around the house last night before I went to work I realized the List of the Un-Done is pretty darn short:  two windows on the east side of the house, a freizeboard on the dining room gable, one clapboard on the side porch, two more windows on the front porch, and the front of the house where the screen porch is. 

Sooooo....not only am I on the brink of three days off, I'm also on the brink of finishing the outside of the house!  Wahoo, indeed!

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Y'all know how I feel about bugs.  I believe my fear and loathing of them has been well-established.  The bugs and I reached an understanding last year:  if they'd just leave me alone, I wouldn't kill 'em.  Seems reasonable to me.  But lately, they've been reneging on their end of the deal.  A week or so ago, one of my friends said, "I never noticed that mole on the back of your neck before."  On closer inspection, it proved to be a tick.  Imbedded.  A couple of days after that when I was washing my hair, I felt a little bump on my scalp.  Another tick.  And just the day before yesterday, what I thought was a little clod of dirt between my toes (I'd been walking through the yard in flip-flops) was—guess what?—another bleeping tick!  But that's not even the worst.  Oh, no.  Wednesday afternoon I saw a good-sized spider hiding between the toaster and the kitchen wall, and when I flipped on the puck lights and grabbed a rolled-up newspaper to whack it I noticed the characteristic fiddle on its back.  A brown recluse.  And today—oh, Lordy, today was the absolute limit.  Today when I snatched down my uniform shirt from its peg on the bathroom wall, another brown recluse fell out.  Yikes!

So it's on.  The bugs must die.  The question is, how do I kill the bad bugs without killing all the good bugs along with 'em?  I don't want to kill all the butterflies and honeybees and harmless garden spiders and ladybugs just to annihilate a few ticks and poisonous spiders.  Do I just constantly carry around the Weekly Shopper and some tweezers to deal with the darn things as they come along?  Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Good Southern Boy

Yesterday afternoon (after I went to the library and blogged) I happened to be across the street at Carl's talking to him about the Old Homes Tour when he brought up that the guys I work with have not helped me on my own house at all.  Carl was explaining to a friend of his that I've asked some of the guys for help and gotten no response whatsoever.  Carl's theory:  "It's that they're Yankees, honey.  They weren't raised right.  A good Southern boy helps a lady."

As I started back down the sidewalk laughing, Carl said, "I see you got over your fear and got that front gable painted."  I stopped in my tracks and looked up at my house.  Front gable painted yellow.  Obviously two coats.  Front friezeboard painted dark green, also two coats.  I turned to Carl, eyes wide and jaw dropped.  "It wasn't me, Carl!"  He laughed.  We had our suspicions as to who painted it.

Later that night those suspicions were confirmed when I saw White Trash Bob walking past the pizza place where I was having supper with my bestie.  I ran down the sidewalk, found him in the library and shouted,  "You painted my front gable!" (In a voice way too loud for the library, by the way.)  He grinned, "Why yes, I did."

White Trash Bob is evidently a good Southern boy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Still no laptop, but there's light at the end of the tunnel.  My hard drive is completely corrupted and unsalvageable, meaning that I lost everything on it.  But of course I backed up everything, right?  Um, no.  Yeah, I'm one of those people.  I ordered system recovery disks and I'll have to buy a new hard drive, and then hopefully my old laptop will be good as new.

Here's what I've gotten done on the house so far (imagine photos here and there):

I cleaned the spindle trim on the side porch and painted it, which was way more tedious and time-consuming than I thought it would be, but it looks much better clean and with a new coat of paint.

I summoned up all my courage and climbed up on the front parlor bump-out to scrape and caulk the front gable with the blood pounding in my ears and my hands shaking.  And when I finished that, I was too scared to climb back down.  Carl and WTB had to talk me down.  I vowed not to ever go up there again.  I'm not sure how the front gable will get painted, but I ain't goin' up there again.  No how, no way.

I finished painting the inside of the front porch screen panels and re-hung my matchstick shades.

Mare showed up unexpectedly and helped me toenail in those porch brackets that have been piled on my dining room chairs since May.  And when we finished, we had a nice little conversation:

M:  "I'd like you to think about us maybe getting back together."
Me:  "Okay, I'll think about it."  Pause.  "No, I don't think it's a good idea."
M:  "You didn't even think about it!"
Me:  "I did too!  I gave it at least 6 or 7 seconds of my careful consideration."
M:  "Well, gee, that's not very much time."
Me:  "Well, gee, that's all the time it took to make that decision."

I'm thinking I might have to find someone else to help me put up the picture rail in the front parlor this winter.

And then he went home and I put the second coat of paint on the last two windows on the west side, which makes the west side of the house almost completely finished.  After that, I planted four big clumps of Siberian iris that my mom gave me and in the process uncovered a little scrap of old sidewalk.  Then I painted the outside of the front porch screen panels and scraped the last two windows on the east side of the house.  Slowly but surely, the house is getting closer to being finished.