October 31, 2009
October 28, 2009
October 27, 2009
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.
October 24, 2009
"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.
October 22, 2009
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.
October 20, 2009
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...
October 17, 2009
October 15, 2009
During my movie-watching marathon this past weekend, I watched this documentary. Twice. It's that good. From the title, I expected it to be mostly about moving a house. Although on the surface the movie is about that, the deeper story is of the history of the Hinton family and the role that the Southern plantation plays in both fiction and in fact. It's fascinating.
October 10, 2009
In three hours I'll be off work for four days. Usually this inspires me to make all kinds of house restoration plans. This week, not so much... Especially since a series of events collided in such a way that schlepping between bed and sofa all weekend seems like the best possible way to spend those four days. Judge for yourselves:
I bought the perfect reversible (pale pink on one side; dark rose on the other) comforter at Target yesterday.
I just discovered that many of the episodes of A&E's "America's Castles" are available to watch instantly on my laptop.
The guy I'm seeing (who I'll call Reed Richards because I am a Marvel Comics freak and, well, it fits him) instantly agreed when I declared that Sunday afternoons shall be Our Day Together with no phones, no responsibilities, and no one else.
The weather forecast is calling for cold, damp, windy weather all weekend, so I really shouldn't be outside ripping shingles off the house anyway.
WTB told me that the new book he just bought is so good that he read it straight through and is now loaning it to me.
My mom surprised me with a gift of pink flannel sheets.
I mean, really, given all this, stockpiling tissues and chicken broth and staying in my jammies for the next four days seems like the only reasonable thing to do, right?
October 9, 2009
My bestie and I took the Tour ourselves on the first day, and despite a few inaccuracies trotted out by our bus guide (this PoliSci/History major was biting her tongue!) about the history of the town, we had a great time. Gorgeous houses. We decided our favorite was the McCausland House, where during the Civil War when Lexington was occupied by Union forces, Susan McCausland refused to take down the Confederate flag in her front yard, a stance that landed her husband promptly in jail. Today the house is owned by Kenny and Bette Maib. Mr. Maib is the City's codes enforcement officer, who kindly looked the other way when Mare and I first demolished and then rebuilt the front porch without any sort of a permit, and pulled me aside as I walked across his upstairs hallway (barefoot) to say "Your house looks great, hon!" and give me a peck on the cheek. Mrs. Maib, the day of the tour, held court at the head of her dining room table surrounded by her collection of cranberry glass, antique china, and Capodimonte vases.
On Sunday I was one of the guides at Carl's house, The Parsonage Bed & Breakfast, across the street from my own house. WTB showed up in Civil War regalia on his way to the Anderson House State Historic Site and entertained the first group of Carl's guests with a story of the history of Enfield rifles. After that, it was droves of people solidly until after 4 p.m., when the tour was over. Folks ask some odd questions. The most common ones: No one lives here, right? (Yes, Carl lives here.) Where's the washer and dryer? (I have no idea.) Does he cater in the breakfast for his guests? (Nope, he makes it himself.) And my personal favorite: Where does the homeowner sleep? (Um, I never asked him...)
The second-best part of the Homes Tour was sitting on Carl's front porch drinking wine and reviewing the day. And the best part? When one of the members of the Historic Preservation Commission told me that she's going to write an article about my house for the local paper because she considers it a "preservation success". I was so pleased and moved that I nearly cried. Carl and WTB seemed nearly as pleased about it as I am. I'll be sure to share it with y'all when she writes it.
October 8, 2009
1. Awesome neighbors. Y'all hear about White Trash Bob and his awesomeness pretty frequently. (The latest awesome thing he did was to pull up that tree growing on the front porch roof and paint the trim while he was up there.) But I have other awesomely terrific neighbors too: Floyd and Gwen next door, who loaned me their big sturdy ladder so I could reach the high parts of my house for shingle-ripping and painting; Carl across the street, who tells me every day, "It's lookin' great!" and dispenses glasses of wine as necessary; and people who live in my neighborhood, whose names I don't know yet, who randomly stop by to congratulate me on the appearance of my house. (Latest awesome comment: "Your house looks 9,000 times better!")
2. Cardboard mice. I don't usually decorate my house much for Halloween. Up until this year, I always thought the house looked plenty creepy on its own. But now that the front's all yellow and green and cheerful, I thought it could do with a few decorations. At Martha Stewart's website I found mice templates, which I will cut out and tape to my front windows. I giggle every time I think about it. (Yes, I have a strange sense of humor.) But oh, the irony of having mice cavorting about on the windowsills in a house ruled by three cats. And we won't even mention again the little mouse that fell out of my range hood...and now probably lives at Carl's.
3. My friend Harriet. It was Harriet who stopped her car in the middle of the street last fall when the last of the shingles came off to whistle and applaud as if she were cheering a home run at a baseball game. Now that's a friend. She stops by once or twice a week to admire the house and show me her latest knitting or crocheting project. (I really covet those fingerless gloves she crocheted out of yarn made from recycled tires and I'm not-so-secretly hoping she gives me a pair for Christmas.) Harriet's encouragement kept me going in the heat of the summer last year when I just wanted to give up and lie in a sweaty heap in the grass.
4. Zion United Church of Christ. Y'all know it's been a tough year, and one in which I thought I might be losing my faith. I've gone to a UCC church in my hometown since I was a baby, but recently I've not gotten what I needed from that particular church. So three weeks ago at the suggestion of my mom, I wandered into Zion in the little town of Mayview. Mom grew up in Mayview and had attended Zion for years (when it was a German Evangelical Church) before moving to Lexington. She thought I might find what I need there. She was right. The people are welcoming and friendly, but not smothering. The sermons help me to understand some passages in the Bible better and give me food for thought all week. Changing churches is not something I take lightly, so I'll give it another three or four months before I decide if I want to change my membership to Zion. This may be where I'm led.
5. October baseball. The division playoffs, followed by the World Series, are the only things that make October and the arrival of colder weather somewhat bearable. Having the Twins and Tigers wring an extra game out of the regular season was a little gift. I don't even really care who wins the division championships or even the World Series. I just hope they take as many games as possible to do it. A sweep means less fun watching and a sooner end to baseball season. Because after the end of the World Series, it's a long, gloomy, cold winter without baseball. I get through it only by counting the days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. You know that MLB slogan "I live for this"? Yeah, that's me. Baseball. How I love it.
October 5, 2009
October 3, 2009
I want to rip those shingles off the back of the house. I really, really do. Right now.
But, my mom says, you'll run out of time before winter.
But, WTB says, then you'll have to fill all those nail holes.
But, my bestie says, you've worked hard all summer and you should take a break.
But, my son says, you really ought to wait until Spring.
But, Mare says, you don't know what you might be getting into.
Sigh....they're right. I guess. But...I still want to.